Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016: A Gift of a Year

Hello Internet.
(Actually, let's be realistic: hi Mom.)

I haven't blogged in almost a year. I certainly haven't blogged at all this year! (Har-dee-har.) But I'm feeling really excited about 2016, and the my potential for growth in the next 12 months. 

Every year, I pick a theme word to guide my choices. 2015 was "joy." 2014 was "balance." I don't remember what 2013 was, but it was something in the same vein: a broad word that can incorporate lots of different things. 

This year, I'm going for something a little more specific. I've noticed that oftentimes I feel like my mind is wandering. I'm not living in the moment. That's not exactly a recipe for happiness! As they say in the beautiful musical Daddy Long Legs,
The secret of happiness is living in the now
Living in the time it takes to blink, I think is how we're meant to be living.
So good. So true! My focus is going to be working on living in the moment to become a centered, present person. See, I love the way I feel after a yoga class:  I'm at peace with the world, little quibbles aren't life shattering, standing taller and feeling a little less stressed. I want that feeling to be how I live every day, not just the three times a year I make it to yoga. Ommmm......

So the real question is, how? New Years Resolutions usually don't work (I definitely forgot my Word of the Year in 2014 and 2015). I'm someone who loves the idea of starting a big project, but rarely follows through. If you're a Gretchin Rubin "Better Than Before" reader, I'm definitely an Obliger.  So I needed to find someone (or something) to kick my butt into gear and help me work on being present.

And I found it: a beautiful little black book full of motivation, passion, and pretty colors: 

The Passion Planner
I'm kind of obsessed. It's a planner, but also a journal, a goal-tracker, a scratch pad.... pretty much anything you could want. I used one in 2015 to schedule appointments, but this year is different. I'm writing down what I want to focus on each day and working on making my days manageable, realistic, productive and accomplished. Plus, I bought fun pens and some colorful washi paper to keep track of my appointments. They're so pretty! :)

Here's how the planner works. It begins with a Passion Roadmap: a "step by step guide to mapping out your goals."  Then it helps your break it down into smaller, manageable steps over time. Each month ends with a few pages of reflection, so you can process what worked and figure out ways to change what didn't work as well. As I filled out the Passion Roadmap, I realized that I wanted to make a change in how I'm living. 2015 was a stressful year, and it shouldn't have been! I want to be another version of myself, and I wasn't going to change that without some fundamental shifts in my lifestyle. 

Even though I want to make all those shifts at once, I know from experience that it won't stick. I can't multitask: I'm better if I focus on one thing at a time. In order to set myself up for success, I'm breaking things down into smaller, monthly chunks. Again, any Gretchin Rubin fans will recognize the month-by-month approach. But instead of a happiness project, it's a presence project. Each month I'm working on something different. I've already got the first two months, and I'm brainstorming ideas for the following ten. Here's what I got so far:

January: Food

Let's be real for a second. I don't exactly cook. I hate opening a hot oven for fear of getting burned, and I tend to over-cook any kind of meat I make. But in November, I bought the Simple Green Smoothies cookbook, and I'm obsessed. I've been making a green smoothie for breakfast almost every day. I love how easily I get some greens into my diet (especially since I kind of hate most veggies), and they're delicious! It's super easy too, which I love. I make 3 smoothies at a time, then store the extra 2 smoothies in adorable purple Mason jars, and it's an automatic breakfast that I don't have to think about! Easy!

So that got me thinking about my diet. How I don't cook much, and often end up eating snacks for dinner. In December I had many nights where I couldn't think of a proper meal to eat, so I just cobbled things together and hoped it was nutritious. It's not a sustainable lifestyle long-term, I know that much. So it's time to start making changes.

Part of the problem is I don't think in terms of meals. I think of individual things I like, then hope I can put things together in a nutritious way. But that doesn't work. I love automatic choices, versus on-the-spot decisions. I prefer it if the choice is already made so I don't have to waste energy thinking about options and worrying which is right. Routines, habits... I love 'em!

So I'm working on building routines with my food. I've made weekly meal plans and grocery shopped specifically to the list I needed. So when I went to the grocery store, I didn't worry about buying any extra snacks or frozen meals: I just shopped from the list. Easy! Routine! 

Confession.... I did buy extra stuff on today's grocery shopping list. It wasn't food though. It was soap, conditioner, and other little things that I forgot to write down but know I'm running low on.... -end confession-

Last week it went really great. I didn't always stick to the plan, but it was because I forgot that leftovers are a thing.... And they're even easier than making a chicken wrap. But I didn't buy any extra food all week, and managed to incorporate more protein and veggies into the week. This week is going well too, and I've set aside time Wednesday for an evening of cooking. I'm a slow cook: if it says it'll take 30 minutes to make a recipe, I'll probably take twice as long. Hopefully in time that will change!

As I go, I keep looking up recipes on Pinterest and working on my cooking skills. I love planning and organizing, so making the meal plan (while oddly stressful) is kind of fun.  The true test will be tech week: the week of late nights, long hours, and very little time to cook. But if I plan ahead and make some meals to freeze & go ahead of time, I could be okay. I just have to set aside time to do that. And then I'll also plan to eat some meals out, and budget that into the weekly plan. 

With January's focus, I'm going from the inside-out. I can't be present if I'm putting junk into my body. It's like running a car on a half-empty tank of goopy gas: it just won't work properly. I know from experience that I don't naturally think of how to eat healthily on my own. It takes a lot of work on my part, so I'm spending the month building up tools to help me eat smart over the next 12 months.

February: Organization

My mom (hi Mom!) has been pushing me to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for a while now, but I never got around to it: too busy! Other things had the priority! But the other night I started reading it, and got really excited to start a journey of tidying my home. I'm only two parts into the book but I'm already thinking about what stuff I can say good-bye and thank you for being part of my life to. The problem is that she highly suggests (and that's putting it super-mildly!!) that you start by discarding first, tidying second - all in one fells swoop.

Um.... Who has time to clean out their whole home at once?

Then I looked at my calendar. February 15-18th is President's Day Week, and is taken as a Winter Break here in the Bay Area. I've got rehearsal that week so I can't get away, but I'll have no work and a lot of time on my hands. So it's the perfect time to get discard and tidy! It sounds bizarre, but I'm actually super excited. Mostly because it's a month away, and I don't actually have to do it yet. But when I picture future-me, I see a Katherine living in a cute home that has space to breathe. I don't like having excess, yet I have a hard time getting rid of stuff. It's time to clear out some space on the outside, so I have space to focus on the inside.

AKA: working from the outside-in.

In the meantime...

I'm not just focusing on cooking and eating. I've had time to go to the gym and take a variety of classes (so far this year I've done BodyPump/CoreX 2x, Pilates, PiYo, and have BollyX, Yoga, and Pilates scheduled for the week). I'm prepping for my various directorial/choreography projects (because I do my best work when I give myself time to prepare). I'm spending time with my family & my boyfriend and working on connecting with faraway friends. I've been sampling a variety of inspiring podcasts (maybe the theme of another blog post!) and Pinterest. (I was never a Pinner before, but I've been loving it this year.) And of course, I'm brainstorming other monthly themes. I've got loads of ideas:
  • exercise (maybe some kind of month-long challenge?)
  • connection
  • artistry
  • finding my voice
  • ....and many others

It's too soon to decide what my monthly-focus will be beyond February. I figure the right thing will come to me as I'm ready. But I'm not worrying about it -- that's two whole months away!

I want to live in the moment.
I'm ready to be present.

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