As I wrote in my last column, rather than having “resolutions” this year, I wanted to have 18 goals for 2018. I kept putting off taking the time to actually think about my goals, but today, when schools were closed and my plans with friends got cancelled and I had to get out of the house before I went crazy, I decided to take advantage of the free daycare at my gym and use that time on the treadmill to finally start writing down my ideas, and there were more of them in my head than I had realized. Sixteen of them came quite quickly, and the last two came along as I sat at my computer to formally write up my list. So here it goes:
1. Have 1 date night per month. This idea was my first one and the one that kept floating around in my head and making me want to commit to actually putting my goals on paper. I think 1 date night a month is pretty doable. I also want to make a list of fun ideas, so that when we have time for the date night, we don’t get in a rut of just doing what’s convenient. So I’m looking forward to having some fun dates this year. The kind of stuff we would do if we were still dating and not yet married.
2. Have 1 Carrie Day per month. This was a Christmas gift from Josh! And it’s the best thing that I never would have asked for. Becoming a parent completely changes you, in a similar way that getting married changes you. With marriage, you cease being a “me” and become a “we.” With parenthood, that configuration of commitment grows exponentially, because not only do you now have to think of your whole family as a group, but you’re incredibly responsible for all life functions of your “dependents,” because depend on you they most assuredly do. Josh, God love him, is prone to push for “family day” when he has off, but now he realizes I need some alone time as well. And not just to go to the grocery store. I need days of FULL AUTONOMY. (If this need isn’t clicking with you, consider yourself BLESSED, my friend.) My first Carrie Day, last week, was spent with me out of the house from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. I met my dear friend Pat from high school (and college, and adulthood) at a park-and-ride outside Baltimore, then we rode down to D.C. together to see the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture and had dinner at a Mexican/Honduran place on our way home. It was a great day! (Anyone else who wants a visit from me on a Carrie Day, please place your order now. I am willing to travel!)
3. Buy a new watch. This is a weird one, but I am a watch person. I grew up wearing a watch, and even though I have a really good sense of time, I always want to know exactly what time it is. Looking at my cell phone, no matter how often I do it, is not at all satisfying in this department. I had a Citizen Eco-Drive that I love, but stopped wearing it while nursing the kids because the band pressed into them while holding them, and then the battery went wonky, and even though Josh took it somewhere to get fixed, they said it didn’t need fixing because they got it working again, but it just won’t keep time accurately. But this is not purely about functionality. Watches can be beautiful. They are part fashion, part function, and tell other people that time is important to me. I started looking with passion at the very start of January, but got indecisive and gave up, thinking that I’ll know the right one when I see it. What am I looking for? The face can’t be too big, probably 34mm or less (I have a petite wrist), I like the skeleton watch style (where you can see the gears) and I like rose gold, but I’m starting to think maybe I should stick with stainless steel because it’s more timeless. We’ll see.
4. Try a new exercise class. I’ve belonged to my gym for over a decade, even though I’m not an “athletic” person. I did just the treadmill for years. Then I branched out to weightlifting. Then the elliptical. And then last year I tried a barre class, not sure at all what it was going to be like, but I was looking for a way to stretch without standing next to the treadmill and stretching and looking dorky. Last March, I took a chance and went to a barre class with one instructor, and it was OK, but then I tried another instructor who teaches the class in more of a ballet style than a Pilates style, and I LOVED it. It kicked my butt for the first month, but then I didn’t feel like I was going to die anymore, and now if I miss a week, I’ll be sore the day after I come back, but I can still do it. I am so much more flexible and I have a reason to look forward to going to the gym. I really regret not having tried it sooner. So now I’m challenging myself to try another class, because if they’re so popular, other people must really be enjoying them too, right? I’m not going to make myself stick to a new class, but I’ll be proud of myself for trying it.
5. Simplify our junk and sell our unused stuff. This kind of started last year as we started emptying out our basement for the renovation, and it gives me such a high! It’s addictive. I sell something that we haven’t used in 10 years and then start looking around for the next thing I can sell. And not only do you get money for your stuff, but you know it’s going to someone who is going to value it, if not actually use it (good luck lady who bought all my stained glass supplies), plus you get your space back! I’ve gone through our basement and posted the last of the useful stuff from down there, but I believe the upstairs will have more. Which leads me to…
6. Clean out all our closets. Josh and I lived here for years and had 4 bedroom closets to fill with whatever we didn’t want to look at, plus we built a fifth walk-in closet for my clothes. Josh is using the in-room closet in the master bedroom, but the other three bedrooms’ closets are filled with more of our stuff, not the kids’ stuff. At some point, they’re going to want to use their own closets. Plus the organizer in me hates knowing that all my craft supplies are in Knox’s closet, and a ton of weird clothes I’ve never seen Josh wear are in Rye’s closet. So I want to go through all of that and have everyone’s own stuff in their own closet. And stuff that doesn’t belong in a bedroom closet, like our camping gear, will have to find a new home. Which leads me to…
7. Remodel the basement! We are officially remodeling our basement, which used to be an apartment, but then we ripped the kitchen out, most of the bathroom features out, and used the main room as our workroom for the other two floors’ renovations and to store our leftover renovation supplies (hello, remainders of heart pine flooring and pile of unused drywall), home maintenance supplies and general junk. We’re going to gain at least one new closet in the new layout of the basement, as well as cabinets in the new laundry room, and I plan to be an organizational guru with all this new space. I might need to buy a label gun.
8. Give a purpose to our back porch room. Last entry I posted a picture of our 5’ by 7’ back porch room and how it was a ridiculous mess but was the first step (and an unrelated step) in our remodeling. Well, the room has all its drywall up now, and while it won’t realize its long-term purpose for several more years (the entryway to a future screened in back porch), I want to find a short-term purpose for it. This may be my future writing room. Or just a general computer room that Josh and I can share. I just don’t want it to be a junk overflow room anymore.
9. Teach Rye to read. Rye is quite a smart little guy. He knew all his letters by 2, his letter sounds by 2 ½, and then he got stuck. Or rather, he dug in his heels. He refuses to try to sound out words, and prefers to just look at the first letter and then guess. I realize the English language is terribly difficult and inconsistent. Frankly, it’s a wonder that so many people ARE literate. But if the average kid can learn to read, then I think our kid can do it too. He’s turning 5 in two months. So I need to suck it up, find a curriculum to use and just start doing it with him.
10. Write for fun. Last year I said I wanted to write a blog every month and I failed. So I’m not committing to a hard number or frequency, but I am going to encourage myself to take the time to write something down when I have a fun idea. Even if I don’t finish it, there’s value in the process, of taking the time to acknowledge an idea and seeing where it goes, of exploring and encouraging my creativity.
11. Pursue publishing. One of my goals of last year was to write a children’s book. I did. What could it hurt to try and find a publisher? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
12. Lead my book club through a book. I’m part of a weekly book club with some other moms from my church and my friend Jess is always the leader, and she is great at it. And I’m her back up, because 99 times out of 100, I’ve done the reading and I’m going to show up. I’m not as good at drawing conversation out of others as she is, but I’m pretty good at walking people who didn’t read the chapter through it so they can stay on course with the rest of us. I know it’s exhausting to always be the one in charge of something, so I’ve told Jess that when she wants a break, I’d be happy to lead a whole study. Not exactly because I’m dying to do it, but because it’s another way to challenge myself and help a good friend.
13. Keep up with my relationships that rely on letters. I have a handful of friends that I might see once or twice a year, or who have moved so far that it’s not even every year, but that I still want to keep in touch with and so we do so by email. I used to write their names down on my calendar to make sure I was touching base at regular intervals, but last year, I let a lot of those letters (or emails) fall by the wayside. This year I want to get back on track with that.
14. Ride a bike. Every time Josh and I go on a trip somewhere, I think how fun it would be to rent and ride a bike while we’re there. But guess what, I OWN a bike! I don’t want to ride on roads, but I could take it to trails if I wanted to. My goal is to get on a bike this year, at least once. Summer vacation in Lewes might be a good opportunity, if I can convince Josh to strap my bike to the top of the Highlander. (What’s the point of having a luggage rack if you never use it?)
15. Start having regular family dinners. And by that, I mean extended family. Our family members are all about an hour away, give or take 10 minutes, and so Josh and I sometimes feel like the outsiders in the family. I was thinking about how when I was growing up and my grandmother was alive, all her kids (and we young grandkids) would go to her house every Friday night, because that’s what the family did. There was no need to schedule a time to get together, because you had a scheduled time to get together: every Friday night. That hour of distance and fluctuating job schedules would make it unrealistic to get together weekly, but I’m proposing to our families that we have regular family dinners scheduled so we can get together without having to TRY to get together. I realize this isn’t entirely in our power, since everyone has to set their own priorities and mesh things with their schedules, but I’m at least going to get the conversation started.
16. Take a class in something. This is different than the exercise class thing. I used to take classes for fun because before kids, and with a flexible work schedule, I had a lot of free time. I’m the kind of person who would rather know a little about everything than a lot about one thing. Most of these classes were in crafts, and many were one-session deals, for things like making German feather trees or basket-weaving, though crochet and stained glass were several weeks. I like to learn, and learn by experience, so I think it would be refreshing to learn something new this year, even if it doesn’t become a hobby I continue with.
17. Use my Instant Pot once a week. I got an Instant Pot for Christmas, and people love them, though in my first few weeks I’m finding it interesting but over-rated. It takes up a lot of space, so to justify that space, my goal is to use it once a week, and hopefully through this find the passion that others have for it. I’m in a couple of Facebook groups for it to find recipes and “did you know…” facts about it, and I think that will help.
18. Be more present. I’m terribly guilty of looking ahead and putting all my hope and expectations in the great thing/time ahead. Most days feel like I’m just punching the clock on parenting, and existence. I want better than that. I know not every moment is going to be great, but I want to see the beauty in all those moments, even the mundane. I’m hoping my gratitude journal will help with this too.
So there you have it, my 18 goals for 2018. I like it. This feels like a fun list, an empowering list. I feel like it’s going to help me to “Be Carrie,” which is one of the most satisfying feats I can hope to accomplish.