Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflections & Intentions

As 2017 comes to a close and the New Year begins, it is the perfect time for reflection and goal-setting, and even though I have written on this blog so minimally in the last few years, it is the best medium through which to record my reflections for 2017 and state my intentions for 2018.

(And that is specifically what I want to call these goals: they are not resolutions but are instead intentions. To me, this terminology seems more like a life-changing, transformative action rather than a let's-do-this-for-a-hot-second-and-then-fall-off-the-wagon-mid-January type thing.)

This past year was filled with so much joy and happiness and love, but I also faced some major downfalls, the biggest of which just happened: on December 27th, we lost my grandma, the most remarkable woman. Her funeral was yesterday, and I just got back from North Dakota a few hours ago. This was an incredible loss, and I have such immense sadness. My plan is to write a (literal) book about my grandma, but unfortunately, I am not in a place where I can write much more than this right now. I am just so sad.

The other major downfall was battling ankle issues, culminating in the surgery I discussed (complete with graphic images) in my previous post. While I was hopeful that it would fix everything and I would be back to running half marathons and lifting all of the weights, that doesn't appear to be the case; in fact, while the pain isn't constant (thank goodness), there are far too many days that are worse than before surgery.

Additionally, the fact that our country is a hot mess for so many reasons has been extremely distressing, to say the least.

But, this year was filled with so many wonderful things, too. First and foremost, I am surrounded by so much love. My partner and I moved in together at the end of September and have built a lovely (and loving) home. My family is the absolute best in the entire universe -- and is filled with so much laughter and light and love.

Second, I was awarded a few amazing opportunities professionally. First, I participated in the Bridging Cultures Initiative, and I met a tremendous network of educators around the world, people with whom I have developed lifelong friendships. Second, I am a Teachers for Global Classrooms fellow; I completed an incredible intensive online course this fall; I will be flying to Washington, D.C., in February for a symposium; and I will be spending three weeks in Colombia this summer. Third, I was just notified that I will be participating in the BRIDGE Program through iEARN, which will help me further my knowledge of and experience with global education.

Finally, while I was down and out with my ankle issue, I went outside of my comfort zone (both emotionally and physically) and tried a number of different fitness ventures, including elliptical, spinning, swimming, and Pilates. I found that I absolutely love -- and excel at -- Pilates, which has been an exciting discovery on so many levels.

And that leads me to my intentions for 2018.

1. Fitness

Not being able to run and lift has been such a bummer for me, which is why I am indelibly grateful that I finally found something that I can do, something that is both challenging and exciting.

My intention for 2018 is to continue my Pilates practice, and my goal is to attend at least four classes each week. Additionally, I want to continue improving in my practice, achieving new skills and reaching new levels.

(Relatedly, I would ideally make my goal more performance-based rather than a quantitative measure, but I do not yet know what my performance goal would/should be -- which makes me think it is time to have a conversation with my instructors.)

Totally me. 100%. (Insert laugh-cry emoji here.)

2. Nutrition

I feel fairly strong in my Pilates practice: my instructors push me to try new things almost every day, and I am often used as the guinea pig in my classes, the person to demonstrate the position for others. Additionally, I feel stronger than I did even a month ago. But -- and here is where this second intention comes in -- I don't look like it.

My nutrition has been atrocious.

The sugar dragon has reared its ugly head, and I have not even attempted to slay it.

I have not yet determined what my nutrition will look like for 2018, which I realize is not a strong start to this intention. Essentially, I just want to make healthier choices. Nearly everything I cook is healthy, and most of it is also Paleo. But, I have gone off the deep end in regard to snacking: "Oh, there are donuts in the office? Awesome." "Why yes, I do need a bowl of pretzels while I'm watching TV." "Long car ride? Hot Tamales? Don't mind if I do."

In the past I have done a few Whole30s, but I honestly do not believe this is the best option for me. I mean, I was legit allergic to it a few years ago. But also, I don't really do well with the restriction. When I did a Whole30 a couple of years ago, I got so sick of what I was eating, for instance, that I would just skip the meal. Newsflash: that is not healthy behavior.

Also, I now have a 12-year-old girl in my life, and I want to be very careful about how I talk about and treat food and nutrition. I don't want to ever say the word "diet," nor do I want to say that I "can't" have something. What I do want to do, however, is model healthy choices, including home-cooked meals and whole, unprocessed foods.

While I believe the majority of my nutrition will be Paleo (simply because I know this is what makes me feel the best), I will not be sticking to it 100%. I already know, for instance, that I will be drinking Metamucil every morning because I am a 90-year-old man. I also know that I will not be scouring nutrition labels for sugar-free bacon and sausage because that is doing too much. I also know that I will not be scrutinizing every ingredient my partner uses when he cooks us dinner. And, I also know that I will occasionally want some popcorn.

3. Water

I am the worst when it comes to drinking water. A lot of this has to do with the fact that as a teacher, my bathroom breaks are fairly limited: I can't just leave a classroom of 34 14-year-olds to fend for themselves, and I also can't make it to the bathroom down the hall and around the corner in a five-minute passing period when I have students waiting to talk to me about this, that, and the other thing.

But really, that's an excuse.

I need to drink more water.

My intention for 2018 is to drink four Camelbaks per day. Including the water that I so gracefully sip chug with my Metamucil in the morning, this will be just under a gallon.

4. Books

I love to read -- and I don't do it enough. I have also never set a goal to read a certain number of books in a year, but I'm going to do so in 2018 in hopes that it will encourage me to read more.

My intention is to read 50 books this year.

According to Goodreads, I read 32 books last year. That seems like a low number to me, but it could be because of the ten-week course I took for my fellowship. There was not a whole lot of pleasure reading happening during that time, especially because I was also working three jobs (teaching, freelance writing, and working at the gym). Also, I was on a lot of drugs after surgery: considering I still don't know what Moana is about, I don't think reading would have been a solid choice.

5. Social Media

The amount of time I waste scrolling on Facebook is ridiculous. I can easily meeting my aforementioned intention of reading more if I focused on books rather than on mindless status updates. While I cannot give up Facebook entirely due to various organizations with which I am involved, what I can do is remove the app from my phone.

My intention is to delete the app and then check Facebook once each day.

Additionally, as the image suggests, I want to spend more time outside -- specifically by going on walks with my partner. We live in an incredible city and just blocks from the river and a gorgeous park, and it is so silly that we can count the number of leisurely walks we have taken on two hands.

I mean, I may wait until the temps rise above zero, but we'll see.

6. Nails

I have bitten and/or picked my nails my entire life. It is an absolutely disgusting habit, and I need. to. stop. And I have stopped before. There was a good chunk of time a couple of years ago where I actually had to file my nails because they were so long.

(Yes, I realize that that is a ridiculous statement for most of you, but for me, this was a first.)

I don't know what happened, but I reverted to old habits, and my nails are looking as raggedy as ever.

So, my intention is to just stop it. To help, I will be painting some hard-core top coat on my nails in hopes that will deter me.

Give me one month, and hopefully my nails will be as pretty as this picture.

While it is really, really hard for me to not end my list on a multiple of five, I want to keep my intentions both specific and manageable. Ultimately, I hope to have a beautifully happy and healthy 2018.

Cheers, friends.

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