new year. new goals.

>> 1.02.2013

Did you know that the New Year's resolution originated with the ancient Babylonians? Yeah. At the start of the new year, they would make "promises to their gods . . . that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts." There are many other religious links throughout the ages, too. The closet anthropologist in me loves learning about this sort of stuff.

In more recent times, it's become a tradition shared by all. At the end of the Great Depression, "about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions." And at the start of the 21st century, "about 40% did." (Source)

I've added more and more resolutions to my list each year. (This photo is from 08/09 festivities!) I'm sure you can relate . . . or maybe not. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that fewer people are making resolutions these days. Maybe that's because we have trouble sticking with these lofty goals, leading to feelings of failure. Forbes hit the nail on the head with its recent piece on 5 Resolutions we all probably won't keep.

I know myself too well . . . and I always need a fresh start to get myself motivated and going. Whether it be the new year or just a Monday morning. I've also been through my fair share of January detoxes, liquid and food alike, that have left my body and mind starved. I've tried to stop biting my nails, but my nervous energy gets me three days in. I've tried desperately to stick to cross-training or strengh-training programs to no avail.

I aim to avoid setting myself up for disappointment this year. But that doesn't mean I can't set my sights high. So, I decided rather than focusing on things I want to change about myself or things I need to improve, I'd make this year all about fun and diversification.

The overarching theme? Being open and receptive. I may not have explicitly written up a goal, but I want to say YES to more. Open my eyes to opportunities around me. Stop making excuses for why I can't do something. Makes sense, right?

These might seem silly or self-indulgent. But here are my 2013 goals.

+ Learn French. At least enough to make my way through basic conversation. I took Spanish in high school and several years of Italian throughout college. French has always intrigued me. So, I downloaded an iPad app to help -- already it's kicking my butt because, unlike Italian -- the language that lovingly dotes on its vowels, French is all clipped and run together.

Oh, I'd also like to road-trip to Montreal (let's be real, I don't have many trips to France in my future) and give it some practice.

+ Bake a crusty sourdough bread. And bake more bakery-style breads in general. Of all cooking/baking pursuits, bread baking is by far my favorite. It took a back seat last year. Though I certainly plan to add more fruits and veggies to my diet, the athlete in me likes needs a hearty bread to balance it out.

+ Successfully wear red lipstick. Last year, I started to experiment with makeup. Not really because I feel like need to wear it (naked face most days because I'm more-often-than-not at home). It's something I didn't do much of as a teenager and younger 20-something. Late bloomer, I suppose. Anyway, lipstick intimidates me. I love red, so I'll surely be Googling and asking around. (This goal is inspired by my good friend Meg, who figured out her perfect shade last year.)

I'd also like to do something with my hair. But that's a whole other issue.

+ Take fewer photos. I have no idea if this will be possible for me. However, I've become the resident family photographer on both sides of my family and beyond. I love shooting special moments, but I'm discovering that I'm in few of these photos unless I beg for someone to grab my bulky camera, figure out how to focus it (which only happens half the time) . . . creating a lot of forced looking memories.

Add to that the impossibility of being present in a moment when I'm trying to capture the best shot. Yeah. Fewer photos. More living. Sorry.

+ Join something new. I'm not sure what it is yet. I used to do all sorts of things, like playing violin in a community orchestra, rocking the alto section in a chorus, taking yoga and spinning classes, etc. I'm open to the universe suggesting something. And I don't necessarily need to stop with just one "thing" -- but that's my minimum.

I'm thinking I might try hot yoga because it totally freaks me out. Heat + Ashley = Unpredictable. I've always been interested, but scared away. I think I'm just worried I'll pass out or throw up or both. 

+ Learn a new craft. Have I ever told you I know how to play 13 instruments proficiently? It's sort of this thing few people know about me. I was steeped in music for more than half my life. The pressure of auditions and juries got to me, so I abandoned the idea of making music my career (I would have probably chosen to teach and major in voice) just short of declaring my major.

This is a roundabout way of saying I have other interests besides running, cooking, photography, writing, and being a mom. I've recently become infatuated with the Theremin. That won't be my new craft because I don't have $350 to drop on such a fleeting obsession. But it has my mind gears turning, exploring other possibilities.

+ Volunteer. Finally something not so terribly all about me. Albeit quite a typical resolution. So, here we go again: Did I ever tell you I used to teach people how to read? Not children. Adults. It all started as a project for one of my junior year composition classes and ended up being a passion of mine until I moved out of Ithaca. I like volunteering.

I do feel like it will be difficult to find time to volunteer on a weekly basis (potential failure alert!), so I'll just leave it vague and try to do something to help others this year.

+ Have a date night with Stephen. Once every other week. I thought weekly would be nice, but let's be honest here. That isn't going to happen. But I'd like to get dolled up, go somewhere sans Ada (sorry, baby!), and have that somewhere be anywhere but our living room. We got some movie gift cards for Christmas, so I'm hoping that will kick us off to a good start.

PS: That dress! Loved it, was too expensive, felt guilty, returned it. Well, it can live on my body on the internet forever.

+ Get back into menu-planning. I got lazy and slipped out of this great habit. As a result, we've been spending more than I'd like to report on groceries and wasting food. I hate wasting food. So, I'm hoping to write up a big menu plan for each week on our refrigerator. We're very much motivated and excited by food, so I think it will be fun to make it such a huge deal.

+ Clean for good. Organize for piece of mind. Every year I set these crazy goals to be a minimalist. As much as I idealize that simple, clean way of living, I don't think it's going to happen right now. We just brought truckfuls of toys home from Ada's Christmas haul. But that doesn't mean I can't strive to do better in this area. Instead of continually fixating on the ideal of how I'd love my space to look and feel, I need to take action.

We already started by filling our front entryway (stuffing is probably a better word for what's going on in there, right, Lindsey?) with all the things we think we can live without. Then getting rid of/donating/etc. stuff a couple boxes at a time. It will take a while this way, but it will be done for good.

As far as a blogging goal is concerned (because I always set those, too!), I think I did really well with posting last year all things considered. At least 3 to 4 days a week, I managed to post on both blogs. Create a gazillion recipes. Over-share photos of Ada. And have a great dialogue with you all about the first year of parenting.

In this coming year, I'd like to be more accessible and have a clean inbox. My response time to emails and comments is pitiful. I read everything that comes in my inbox, but I don't always get to respond right away, so things sit. And sometimes I forget and then feel bad, and it's this awful cycle that I remember from my desk job of just feeling overwhelmed.

I'm hoping to clean out my inbox and do the whole system of read a lovely email, respond immediately -- even if that means waiting on the next email until later in the day, etc. -- and then getting rid of junk mail/etc. We'll see how it goes, but just know that your thoughts and words are very important to me.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips for sticking with goals or resolutions? Our year is off to a great start. Hope your enjoyed the holiday!

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