Resolutions and Reality

Since this is January and the start of a new decade, I feel like it’s a good time to talk about Resolutions. I am a list and goals kind of a gal, and I love the idea of fresh starts and clean slates and new beginnings. As we come out of Bowl Season, a very real distinction for college football families, and into the new year I am ready to begin again. As is often the case, we did not start the year off in our own home in order to feel like January 1 could be a reasonable time to check off all of those new goal boxes. In fact, we started the new year in the Mid-west visiting both sides of our family and celebrating our family Christmas. This means that when the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2019 Nick and I were sitting on the couch in my parent’s living room with our youngest child snuggled between us after having a rough time trying to sleep in a different bed. We also had a full 5 days left of travel that kept us eating foods associated with celebrations and spending time relaxing and sitting with our families. This was not a perfect occasion to set high goals.

I decided that I would consider the “New Year” to begin when we actually returned to our own home and woke from a night of sleep in our own bed. So my New Year’s Resolutions are a week younger than many. It also means I didn’t begin the year with goal-failure!

This year, in addition to a modified start date, I wanted to do Resolutions a little differently. To be honest, I didn’t want to set goals for the whole year. We have a life that is very much based in “seasons.” Not Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, but Recruiting, Spring Ball, Summer, Fall Camp, Regular Season, and Bowl Season. And those times of year allow for very different levels of productivity. I wanted to be honest with myself. What I may be able to do in February may stand no chance of survival in the heat of Football Season. So I decided to set monthly goals instead. It is my intention to have a specific list of goals for each month and to carry on those that work in the coming months, but not to be so rigid as to feel like one missed day or broken streak is a failed year.

My largest goal for January was to spend more time reading when I have a break in the day. Instead of scrolling through my phone before bed, to pick up a book and read it! I am a former English Teacher, so my bedside table is home to a pretty hefty stack of reading material, but that did not always equal finished books! I started the year with the same book I was reading to end 2019. Educated by Tara Westover had traveled with me to New York City for our Bowl game and to the Mid-west for the holidays, but I had not ventured more than a few chapters into the story. Once I got back home though I made the time, and I finally finished that book! I love memoirs as a genre. I really enjoy the first person voice and feeling of really knowing the author (huh, I wonder why I write the way I do?) This book was a great success as a start to the year because I was rewarded for reading it with the enjoyment it brought.

I posted on my Instagram when I finished reading and asked for recommendations, and at that point I had already started the second book of my year The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel. I received a great list of recommendations and quickly got online to reserve my next books at the library! And then I tore through my new book. The fascinating part of the book, to me at least, was the compelling argument that Finkel presented that solitude and quiet are both necessary and the birthplace of great accomplishment, but also detrimental in large doses. As a mother of 5 I feel like I could handle a fairly large dose of solitude and quiet in comparison to what my day typically affords me. I try to wake up before my kids when my house is still quiet and when my husband is on the road recruiting I often leave the house silent after they go to bed, no television or music playing necessary. This book also inspired me to try to find additional moments to be quiet enough to let myself think instead of constantly filling available time with distraction (guilty!).

As I hit the halfway point in the month, and really only day 10 or so since my resolutions began, I feel pretty good about finishing 2 books already. I don’t know that I will be able to keep up the pace, or the depth of topic (I typically teeter back and forth between deep non-fiction and personal growth books to light-hearted beach reads and love stories.) I do know that I am happy to attempt to keep this streak going. Book #3 is a heavy-hitter: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. I respect the person who recommended it enough that I am endeavoring into a topic I would generally avoid, cancer. Only a few chapters in I don’t regret my decision.

I look forward to the weeks and months ahead in this new decade. When I look back 10 years I see a new-ish mom with only 2 small children. We were living in Defiance, OH and deep in division III football. My days were very different. We didn’t have cable television, and we lived in a nearly 100 year old home in a town without a Target or a Moe’s (gasp!) Nick was testing out a new plan to go into work at 3 am so that he could get home by 7 pm when he could start making recruiting calls (I could have predicted the failure that this experiment would be), and I was just starting to figure out how to balance being a mom and wife. I spent hours online grading SAT essays and baby-sat for a friend’s 2 children in the mornings as well. Our lives are much different now, farther away from our families here in the North Carolina sunshine and raising 5 very active kids. I never could have predicted the time I would spend organizing calendars and cheering at sporting events and dance recitals or watching spelling bees and school musicals. I don’t think I can even begin to predict what 2030 will look like! But for now I’m going to focus on January 2020. I am going to focus on today and my family and look forward to whatever beauty our life will bring.

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