Tag Archives: resolutions

Insanity or perseverance?

Last January, within weeks of moving into our new Denver apartment, my husband signed me up for skiing lessons. I’d been once or twice on the East Coast, but Colorado skiing is not East Coast skiing, and I was grateful for the instruction. My husband has been skiing out West all his life and is comfortable on any mountain, but we both agreed that me getting lessons from someone else would be the best way to preserve our marriage.

On my first lesson, I progressed quickly and the instructor recommended that I was ready for intermediate lessons. A month later, I took intermediate lessons and “graduated” with flying colors. I was ready to move from the easiest green runs to more difficult, steeper blue routes.

And while I am not a fan of moguls (nor do I have any interest), I am now completely comfortable on all blue runs, and even some of the difficult blacks. All this progression in just one season, about 15 total days of skiing. This is not to say that I’m headed to the Olympics any time soon (ever), but to illustrate that learning to ski, that getting better at skiing, was neither particularly difficult or time consuming for me.

Skiing is a progression of cause and effect – do this, and you will turn; do this and you will stop; do this and you will speed up. While skiing, I’ve taken a few tumbles, but nothing serious. If it weren’t for the actual ski equipment, skiing would be downright enjoyable. Ski boots are tight and uncomfortable and cause my feet to go numb. Skis are heavy and cumbersome and difficult to transport. Ski poles are just annoying to have to carry.

So when my husband suggested that we learn to snowboard, I thought it would be perfect. Compared to ski boots, snowboarding boots are a dream. Comfortable, easy to walk in, cushioned; like a slightly-tighter pair of your favorite Uggs. Snowboards are light as a feather and a joy to carry around. In theory, it’s a wonderful sport.

But I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.

My husband and I signed up for three snowboard lessons in early December. The first two days were terrible. Awful. No good and very bad. I cried after each lesson because it just. wasn’t. clicking. Each time I fell (which was about every five seconds) I swore I had just given myself a concussion. Despite hearing from everyone (instructors, friends, the internet, chair lift operators) that the first two days are hell, I convinced myself that I was never going to learn, that I was an utter failure, etc. (I tend to be melodramatic like that.)

It doesn’t help that I have very little patience for learning new things and I arrogantly and stubbornly dislike doing this at which I am not inherently and immediately successful.

The third lesson was better. I made it down the beginner “mountain” (really, more of a hill) without falling and ended the lesson without crying. I was no expert, but I thought maybe – MAYBE – I could unlock the secrets of this mysterious sport.

We just got back from a week-long trip to Steamboat Springs, a small ski town about 3 hours northwest of Denver. Since one of my goals for 2016 is to stick with snowboarding, I diligently put aside my skis for several days and resolved to work on my snowboarding.

Day one of snowboarding, I fell so hard that I thought I shattered my tailbone. I checked with my mother (who’s a nurse), and since I exhibited none of the scary symptoms (lower-leg numbness, inability to put weight on either of my legs, pain shooting down to my feet), we concluded that it was just bruised. Yay! No emergency room trip required.

After a few days of skiing, I determined that I was sufficiently recovered to snowboard again. The morning went well. I worked on my toe-turns, fell but didn’t die, and generally managed to swallow my terror and made it down the mountain without falling off a cliff.

That afternoon, I sprained my ankle, leaving me sidelined for the rest of the trip.

WHAT IS THIS DEVIL SPORT AND WHY DO PEOPLE ENJOY IT?!

Is it too early for me to break a resolution? At what point do I throw in the towel? Should I keep trying and risk breaking a limb, or do I call myself a quitter and preserve my general well-being?

Is continuing to snowboard insanity or perseverance?

 

2016 Goals

I have never been much of a New Year’s Resolution person. In general, I feel that I’m leading a pretty decent life, and that any vices I have at this point are vices I have by choice. That’s not to say that I’m perfect, or that there’s not room for improvement – there is. Plenty. But, mostly, I’m too lazy to do anything about it.

My husband, however, is the opposite. Each year, he sets goals. And what’s more, he tracks them throughout the year and crosses them off as they’re accomplished. Basically, he gets shit done. In the past, I’ve managed to avoid being drawn into his over-achieving plans for self-betterment, or I’ve been able to slide by setting “goals” that I knew I could get done, or that wouldn’t require much effort.

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This year, though, my husband’s inner Richard Simmons has emerged in full force and I’ve been tasked with setting no fewer that 5 goals that will “actually challenge me”. Keep in mind that, in the words of the Goal Nazi himself, they must be SMART goals (Specific, Meaningful, Action Oriented, Realistic, Timely), which is something we were taught in business school but that I promptly dismissed as irrelevant marketing jargon. I tried to wiggle my way out of actual goal setting by listing “be a better person”. That didn’t fly.

In return for his unbearable enthusiasm and encouragement, my husband has resolved to cut his sugar intake from 2+ sweets a day to 1 a month, and to increase his water intake from about 16 ounces a day to the recommended 100.

Although I’m not big on goal setting, I am quite the fan of making lists, so this whole thing might not be so bad after all.

In order of personal importance, here are my goals for the upcoming year:

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Photo from the 2015 Bridge of the Gods race. (Source)

  • Delete Facebook app from phone (and keep it deleted). This basically translates to: do something more valuable with my time than creep on other people. Although my dear friends and family are on Facebook, my account is also full of people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. I’ll keep my account active, but I don’t need the temptation of pulling up the app every time I’m waiting in line or am “bored”.
  • Stick with snowboarding & get more comfortable going fast. Learning how to snowboard is easily the most frustrating/difficult thing I’ve done in my adult life. I am not patient, and I don’t like failing. Which is silly, I know, especially because virtually no one is good at snowboarding the first time. Or the second. Or the third. It takes practice (ugh, imagine that) and time. We’ve had 3 lessons and I can see dramatic improvement, but hot damn I just want to be good already.
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Shit snowboarders say. (Source)

  • No cell phone use after 9pm or in bed. Like most people these days, my cell phone is the last thing I put down at night and the first thing I reach for in the morning. It’s my primary source of news, entertainment, and connection to the outside world. For years, I’ve seen articles popping up that tout the dangers of cell phone use before bed. And for years, I’ve ignored them, reasoning that I don’t have problems falling asleep. But now, I’m realizing that getting good sleep is not the same as falling asleep quickly. The older I get, the more sleep I seem to need, and putting down my phone and actually reading a book at night seems like a win all around.
  • Learn Spanish in preparation for our Fall 2016 Europe trip. After much deliberation, and an afternoon on Google Flights, Adam and I decided that our 2016 trip will be to France and Spain (flying into Paris and out of Madrid). We contemplated buying Rosetta Stone for French, but then my mom told us about Duolingo, which is free. Since free is hard to beat, we gave it a shot and are totally sold. Adam learned French as a child and I studied Spanish in high school, so we agreed that he’d learn French and I’d brush up on Spanish. Duolingo isn’t perfect (some of the sentences are wacky, and occasionally you repeat exercises), but again it’s free and I think it’s actually a lot of fun. I downloaded the app to my phone which is really going to tax my above resolution regarding cell phone use at night.

Other minor goals include:

  • Take a yoga class at least 2 times a month. Because sometimes I need to slow down and breathe. Also, I need to work on my flexibility.
  • Eat a fully vegan meal dinner at least once a week (as a family). Adam was not thrilled when I announced this goal, but little does he know that some of his favorite meals – stir fries, Indian lentil stew – are already vegan or easily adaptable. Now that I have a killer cashew “cream” sauce in my wheelhouse, I’m pretty confident that this won’t be a significant challenge.
  • Simplify weeknight meals – prep more on weekends and utilize the freezer. Truthfully, I love to cook. Even after a long day, cooking is my stress relief. I have no problem spending an hour each night making dinner, but sometimes that just isn’t feasible. Because of sports and my dad’s work schedule, I grew up eating dinner at 7:30 or later, so it’s not an issue for me to come home from the gym, spend an hour cooking, and sit down to dinner at 8:30. But my poor husband doesn’t enjoy that as much. This year, I’m going to work on building my repertoire of 30-minute meals and prepping ingredients ahead of time.
  • Reduce food waste and find new ways to use leftovers. Did you know that the average American household throws away $2,000 of food a year? That equates to 35 million tons of wasted food in our country. Y’all. That. Is. DISGUSTING. Just yesterday, I thew away 4 perfectly good acorn squash because I had ignored them in the pantry for too long. Time to stop. It’s a waste of money and it’s a slap in the face to the 795 million people around the world who don’t get enough to eat. This year, I resolve to do better.
  • Get back on Weight Watchers and lose 5 pounds. With Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, suffice it to say I have not been tracking my food or alcohol properly (pretty sure I would have broken the app with all the cheese and wine I consumed). Starting tomorrow, I’m getting back on track. (Tonight, though, I’m making queso dip.)

Hrm, that was longer than I expected. I told you I had plenty of room for self-improvement! What about you – do you make New Years resolutions?

 

 

 

 

Resolving to fail

I’ve never been big on dramatic New Year’s resolutions. They always seemed a little cliché to me. Like a wish-list of goals that will make this year the one where you suddenly lose 20 pounds, stop cursing traffic jams, and become more spontaneous.

However, simply declaring your good intentions on January 1 does not mean you’ll be a Mother Theresa on May 5, when you’re running late for an appointment and find that traffic on the highway has come to a complete stop because everyone driving over the bridge slams on their brakes to look at the body of water they’re currently driving over.  (Seriously, it happens.)

My fiancé though? He’s all over it. Not only does he start thinking of resolutions in November, he writes them down, then crosses them off throughout the year as they’re accomplished. So far, he’s already crossed off two resolutions. (Yeah.  Talk about an over-achiever.)

For me, though, resolutions are a touchy spot. Too vague, and there’s no way to measure success. Too specific, and I could fail.

And therein lies the problem.

What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough, smart enough, committed enough to keep those resolutions?

The world ends, I suppose. We all go up in flames, the universe comes to an abrupt end, and no one ever discovers which really did come first, the chicken or the egg.

…..

Or, you know….not.  Because my inability to keep my blood pressure at a normal rate while driving through DC is actually not what keeps the Earth spinning in its normal rotation.   Me drinking the occasional glass of wine instead of hitting the gym does not help our planet maintain a normal, habitable temperature.  If I don’t keep everysinglelastdamnone of my resolutions, the world will go on turning.

Shocking, huh?

So here’s my resolution. To make resolutions. To accept the possibility of failure as part of life, as the entry fee for trying something new and exciting.

This year, my goal is to decorate cookies, bake cakes, and make pie dough from scratch. Maybe my cookies won’t be magazine-ready, maybe my cakes will collapse, and maybe my pie crust will turn crumbly and unappetizing. That’s fine.

This year, I want to cook offal. I want to take humble cuts of meat and turn them into amazing meals, just like I’ve had in trendy restaurants.  There’s a chance that the meat will turn out rubbery and unappetizing.  There’s a chance that my darling boy, wonderful as he is, will run away from the kitchen screaming and begging for pizza delivery.  No cause for alarm.

This year, I plan to travel to new countries where I don’t speak the native language. I’ll have to communicate in bits and pieces of German, in a horrendous accent, supplementing gestures when necessary. I’ll probably look foolish and silly, and maybe no one will understand a word of what I’m saying.  But you know what?  I’ll manage.  And it will be worth it to experience a new culture and taste delicious food.

So I promise that whenever I screw something up, I’ll share it.  You can laugh with me, or laugh at me.  As long as we’re both laughing, I’ll count it as a success.

As the first step towards goal #2 (Operation Offal), I’ve ordered sweetbreads, tongue, and liver from Heritage Hollow Farms.  (Side note: though I’m not a strict vegetarian, I believe that meat isn’t worth eating unless it’s humanely raised and respectfully treated.  But more on that later.  For now, I’ll just say that if you’re in the DC/NOVA area, I cannot say enough great things about Heritage Hollow – you should check them out!)  I think I’m going to tackle the beef tongue first, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out!

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?