2017: Year of Engagement

Hellooooo 2017! Welcome, welcome … come on in. Make yourself comfortable. Stay awhile. Maybe try not to kill so many beloved celebrities as your predecessor 2016 did.

As I’ve been doing for a number of years now, I pick a word for the year.  I find a word that embodies what direction I want to take in the new year, something that will remind me of what’s important and what my goals are and this year, it’s ENGAGE. And no, not the kind of engagement that ends with a ring and a ceremony, the kind of engagement that means I should get off my couch every once in awhile and go interact with the big, scary world out there, at least more often than my once-a-year average.

Seriously, though, I spent 2016 mostly looking inward and while that was necessary and worthwhile, I think it’s probably time that I started pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and finding new tribes of people. In Jonathan Field’s Good Life Project parlance, my connection bucket needs some filling! It’s stuff I’ve been talking about doing, but never quite managing to get it done. And because I don’t make a lot of noise about it, I’m really the only one that knows that I got scared or nervous at the last minute and opted to back out (I always had a good reason, like, Belle looked lonely or I ought to stay home just in case FedEx came with a package that needed to be signed for).

Of course, I’m still an introvert and need my down time, so my resolutions for the coming year are a nice mixture of getting out there and sitting home — I’ll never be a party animal, so don’t set your expectations for me too high.

Join a running group  Close to me is the Frankfort-New Lenox Running Club. I’ve joined their Facebook group and they seem likely extremely nice people. And it even sounds like they can accommodate people like me who are starting at the beginning, still doing the run/walk thing. Why haven’t I done this yet? I don’t want to get up early on the weekends. It sounds hard. I’m injured. I shouldn’t run that much. I might love it and then have to flog myself for weeks for being too nervous and intimidated to join them earlier. You know, all the usual excuses.

Take some classes at the local community college  Already done! I’m such an ahead-of-schedule over-achiever! I signed up for a yoga class that meets once a week starting at the beginning of February. Should be interesting because I might be the least bendy person that I know, but people keep telling me that it’ll be good for me. So – I’ll give it the ol’ college try (ha! see what I did there?). I also want to find a photography/Lightroom/Photoshop class to take as well. Treated myself to the new DSLR and want to make sure that I really learn all the ins and outs of it.

Complete my 2017 Challenge Everything challenge  I’m going to challenge myself every month with one thing to do for 30 days. I’ll have a page set up on this blog (see the page link on the left side of the page) to track my progress and detail it all out for you. I’m starting easy on myself — in January, I will eat vegetables every day. You’d think this would already be happening, but it’s stunning how many days go by where not one green thing is on my plate. The stupid part of this? I really like vegetables. So, this is one of those things that has no downsides and perhaps it’ll even get me into a healthier eating pattern. A sneak peek at February? Yoga every day. Boo-yah (I have no idea how that’s actually spelled. Just imagine me saying something like that with a lot of verve).

Spend less money  I spent way too much money in 2016. Way too much! I keep a pretty close eye on my finances because my goal is to retire early, so I’ve known this was going on, but it was juuust under control enough for me to ignore it. This year will have some strict rules — the only money I can spend on non-necessities is money that’s in my PayPal account or as a credit on Amazon. Money in my PayPal account comes from selling something on eBay, so if there’s something I want, I can always get rid of something else that I already own. Amazon credits are pretty small — it’s a kickback for using their credit card — but it’s a little something.

Travel somewhere new to hike  This is the one exception to the no-spending resolution. Last year’s trip to Utah reaffirmed what I already knew: spending time in nature is a balm to my soul and one that needs to be applied as often as possible. My retired life will include more mountains and a lot more hiking, but until then, I need to make a concerted effort to get out there.

Online book club  Right now the book club that I started with the Good Life Project book is going awesome and I LOVE all the ladies who have decided to participate! It’s been a lot of fun for me. Once we’re done with that book, I’d love to continue with looking at other books, but if not, then I’ll find another venue online for this. I love the discussions and give and take of opinions. It’s a fun way to make my brain do a little extra work without it feeling like extra work.

Keep active  With no expectations of losing weight or getting in better shape, I’ve learned that simply getting my body moving does me a world of good. I did a little experiment as 2016 came to a close where I did absolutely nothing active for almost 2 weeks straight. Yes, I had headaches, but that can’t be an excuse (though I used it as one, for sure!). And then, I didn’t do anything because, you know, I was running an experiment … didn’t want to ruin the scientific process. What did I find? My mood took a hit. My joints hurt (specifically, my fingers, though I can’t explain that for the life of me). I didn’t sleep as well and, weirdly, slept a whole lot more than I should (somehow, while 12-13 hours of sleep a night sounds decadent, it really isn’t all that good for me). Being active is integral to me feeling good, so, as I’ve done in the past, a mile a day is my minimum and over the course of the year, I’m shooting for 80% adherence rate.

Complete the Storycourse fiction writing class  There are something like 7 or 8 sections to this and I’ve gotten through just one. It requires a fair amount of time — there are materials to read, audio to listen to and then, of course, the writing — probably around 2-3 hours per section at least. Fiction has never been my forte — I always find it easier to write about what’s happening to me — but I’ve been curious about it for a long time and this is just what I need to not only learn the basics of putting together a good story but also doing the work and getting words down on paper.

There are other things I want to do — make a point of talking to strangers and starting up conversations more often, figure out how to limit my Facebook time, figure out how to get the news but not spend hours down a rabbit hole reading ALL the articles that are online, evaluate my charitable donations and make sure that the organizations that might now need more help get my help — but what I have listed up there is quantifiable, trackable and more than enough to keep me busy. Everything else will be on my internal, in-my-head list, but you’re not allowed to hold me accountable for those ideas.

So what’s your word for 2017? What do you want to accomplish? Do you have any resolutions or goals or do you eschew them as something that’s bound to fail?

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