Curiouser and curiouser… Each year I do this #OneWord365 thing, and find myself alone in my “#OneWord365 tribe.” It’s not as if my word were “floccinaucinihilipilification.” In 2015, my word was #Commitment. In 2019, it was #Limitless. In 2020, I chose #Observant. In 2021, #Imagine. I am not ready to move on from these general ideas, just yet. The word I’ve settled on for 2022 is #Curious. Care to join my tribe?
I have not accomplished all my past goals, nor have I abandoned them. #Limitless isn’t without its constraints; none of us get to live forever. I am slowly learning to let go of the things, activities, and habits that don’t bring me joy, in order to make room and time for all that might.
Resolution #1: To Be Fit, To Be Healthy
My fear of missing out (FOMO) hit a peak after 9/11. I was unable to sleep without having the TV on, as if taking my eyes off the news would allow something worse to happen. Some deeply irrational part of me was convinced that if I didn’t stand vigilant, watching and guarding the news, I would be responsible if something worse happened. This year, I have prioritized and focused on fun and fitness, and I have learned to let go of this terrible and irrational sense of being on guard duty. The world can fall apart after 11 PM; I’ll be sound asleep and dreaming of a better one. I’ve gone from an average of 3-5 hours’ sleep, to 7-8 hours’ sleep. I feel mentally and physically healthier, as a result.
I invested in a Garmin smartwatch, joined MyFitnessPal, and rediscovered the joy of swimming and playing in the water, both for fun and exercise. We went to the beach. I joined the YMCA and made a commitment to myself to work out three or four times a week. Since March, I’ve lost 30 lbs. I have 55 to go, but I view “lose weight” and “increase strength and stamina” as a continuing resolution, not a shiny new one to dust off and abandon in a week. I’m almost halfway there, and not giving up now!
My next mini-goal is to work out in the gym twice a week and swim 2-3 times a week, and to stay within my calorie budget. It’s too bad I can’t make extra payments on the calorie debt I racked up over the past two months! (I only gained back 7 pounds, but that’s 3 weeks of work to shed again – you’d think I’d have learned, by now, that those “cheat days” aren’t always worth it!)
Resolution #2: To Explore, To Travel
This past year, my husband and I have been able to travel some – triple-vaxxed and willing to mask up, in a world that is cautiously less restrictive, retired and able to schedule vacations for non-peak times, we’ve had fun exploring places old and new. Oregon, Texas, Florida, the Canary Islands, a short cruise to Cozumel… If I had a dollar for everyone on Gran Canaria and Tenerife who expressed surprised that a couple of Americans could find the Canary Islands on a map and hadn’t made some dreadful error in trip planning, I could go back tomorrow!
Perhaps my #OneWord365 should have been #Serendipity. I would have been alone in that one, for sure! As a kid, I wanted to be a volcanologist. Later, I came to realize that not only were volcanoes an awesome display of the power of nature and the universe, they were scary as hell. (Thank you, Mount St. Helens, for that epiphany.) While I am envious of my friend Asdis, with her “pet volcano” practically in her back yard, in Iceland, I realize that most volcanoes are not so tame. They don’t sit still while you study them – at least not the most interesting and active ones. Nah, they lob flaming boulders the size of Volkswagen’s at your head.
I still want to get close enough to touch molten lava, but I’m not going to lie; I’d probably wet my pants doing it. Since 2018, my husband has taken me to visit some of the most awe-inspiring volcanoes:
- Haleakala at sunrise, where I nearly cried upon realizing that the billions of stars, in all their glory, were still visible, but we were being robbed of them by light pollution;
- Yellowstone, which isn’t likely to erupt again in the next 5000 years or so, but which features dazzling geothermal areas and a mesmerizing array of thermophilic cyanobacteria;
- Mt. Teide on the island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, which is very dormant but also absolutely breathtaking in its landscape. From the drive up to the top of Mt. Teide, we were able to see the ash plume from the eruption on La Palma.
We got to spend time with family, too, and that was wonderful – 2020 saw us cancelling get-togethers and holiday plans, and we lost family members and friends. Winter was subdued and challenging; we endured the deep freeze of February, but come spring, my husband built and I planted a raised vegetable garden. We got to spend Spring Break first with a visit with family in Dallas, then in Oregon. We found all the best playgrounds in Portland, visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where our grandson got to sit at the controls of a submarine. We hiked in the woods, saw Multnomah Falls with friends, and enjoyed a stroll through a pretty little creekside park in Washington State. We ate all the yummiest food and ice cream!
We visited my Dad in Louisiana, and we thawed out in Daytona Beach. I was craving “Vitamin Sea” as well as sunshine and sand. We took a road trip through Dallas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, stopping in Dallas to visit family, Hartman, AR to visit friends, then driving on to Memphis for some good times, good music, and good food.
We spent our anniversary in Las Vegas, which has changed and grown so much since we were last there, decades ago. Hard to believe it had been that long. We met up with friends who had just moved there from California.
Later in the summer, our grandson and his great-grandfather met for the first time, here in Houston. We hosted the first of what I hope will be an annual “Camp Grandparents” – we visited NASA, where he got to touch a moon rock and climb aboard a space shuttle; the Children’s Museum, where he learned how to use science to solve a mystery; the Natural History Museum and Cockrell Butterfly Center; and the Houston Zoo. He also got his first Happy Meal. Then it was off to north Texas to visit the rest of the family before returning to Oregon.
We took a cruise to Cozumel. then hosted Christmas at home.
What adventures will 2022 bring? I don’t know, but I am looking forward to them with great curiosity!
Resolution #3: To Write, To Publish
Six to twelve months… I wrote Movement: Mind and Soul six months ago, and vowed to spend the next six to twelve months resisting the urge to post my fiction and poetry online, rather than giving it a fair shot at publication. I may extend the deadline. I want to have at least 50 more poems and several short stories ready for submission by September. I do plan to return to participating in the Creative Copy Challenge, so I may post some here as well. These will be something of a warm-up, for fun.
I joined the Poetry Society of Texas, last year, and entered their annual contest. I won 9th place in the Qamar Award, and 8th place in the Shirley Elliott Cosby Memorial Award. I plan to enter the Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc (OWFI) annual contest this year, as well. Last year, I won the “Technical / How-to” category with How to Create a Manuscript Template. I have no control over whether I win or not, but I do know that I can’t win if I don’t enter, and I can’t be published if I write nothing to submit.
I’m also planning to attend the Conference, this year, if we’re not in lockdown. It’s not the restrictions of the pandemic that get to me, but rather, the uncertainty and inability to make plans. The past two years sometimes feel like we’re living in a snow globe that someone’s tossing around like a basketball.
Resolution #4: To Read, To Learn
You would think that someone who has been an avid reader since grade school would not struggle to read for pleasure now, but despite being able to devour a good novel in hours – not days or weeks – I have read surprisingly few books over the last few years. I thought that blaming work or law school for this was just an excuse, but it turns out that I am not alone.
has law school ruined reading for fun for anyone else? I just can’t read the way I used to.
— ✌🏼 (@legally_blondex) December 26, 2021
3.1K likes, 300+ replies and counting, and I didn’t find any that suggested otherwise. Now I think of myself as a burnt-out reader in recovery. I am determined to find the joy in it again. I refuse to give up; instead, I am making my reading goal more ambitious, not less. It’s just the way my brain works. One book a week – 52 books in 2022. Watch this space.
I am curious about and interested in so many different things that it can be hard to choose just one or two new things to learn and focus on them. Sometimes, though, that leads to being like the donkey, caught between two bales of hay, starving because he couldn’t decide which to eat first. I suppose I did learn not to kill plants, last year. And before that, I learned to crochet. How to make the perfect hot and sour soup, from scratch, and how to make haggis that passes for the real thing. I baked bread and a scrumptious dark chocolate cake from scratch. I made pickled vegetables. I competed in a District level speech contest with Toastmasters. Would it be too late, or too cliché, now, to learn a new language (I did get the lifetime license for Rosetta Stone – limitless, remember?) and nurture the perfect sourdough starter? No, it’s never too late.
Resolution #5: To Reflect with Gratitude, To Keep a Daily Journal
I have so much to be thankful for. But I really need to not wait for the end of one year – or the start of the next – to reflect with gratitude on all the good things in life. Or to frame my goals as SMART goals and tasks, and to review my progress towards them more regularly. I’m always very surprised at how much of what I imagine comes to pass, once I’ve thought about it and written it down, even if I forget to revisit it frequently. How much more might I accomplish, if I did?
I have never been good at keeping a journal. But I think I would have loved to discover one written by one of my ancestors. Even if it had been nothing more than an account of the weather and the day-to-day doings of the household, it would have been something special, I think. My daughter once found an old journal that I had written when she was born, but later abandoned as work and raising a baby into a toddler took up the energy needed to write it. She asked me why I’d stopped, and I wished, then, that I hadn’t. I don’t think I ever imagined, then, that she’d be interested in reading it.
It doesn’t matter. I don’t have the hubris to think that anyone will want to read it; I may hide it and forget about it as I grow old. Maybe some stranger will find it tucked under the attic insulation decades after I die. Maybe someone will read this blog post and look for it there, in vain. It amuses me to think about that.
This blog is a journal, of sorts, isn’t it? But, Dear Reader, I won’t bore you with all the details…
Happy New Year! Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022 for us all.