So….it’s that time of the year again. You know, that time when we are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and not yet worn down by the drudge of an entire year. Right now everything is still fresh and hopeful and we are all certain that we will finally, once and for all, be good people who make the most of our lives. The gyms are filling up and people are suddenly nicer than is natural. Everyone is dead set on being better. Or being perceived as better, for whatever value of ‘better’ they think is important.
Last year I did a few ‘changes’ instead of new year’s resolutions, so this year I would like to build on that concept. First I would like to assess the success of these changes I resolved to make.
1. I wanted to manage my time better.
This actually worked out somewhat. The 24 hours in a day that we were given always seem a little miserly to me, but that’s the way we are forced to live, so I had to find to work around that. All in all I managed to get a few things done that I wouldn’t normally have. I learned new skills, improved some old ones, and even found ways to expand my social circle. I noticed that there was a period during the dead of winter when time seemed to bunch up and become concentrated, so that a day had all the exhaustion of 24 hours, but none of the actual time. I fell into a relentless cycle of eat, sleep, work, and Facebook, punctuated by some yoga and horn playing that was near impossible to break. In summer, on the other hand, I can feel the days stretching long and empty, like an endless sheet of paper unrolling ahead of me. There is time, there is space, and there is the motivation to get some shit done.
I want to continue on this trend of very carefully balancing work and play, relaxation and meaningful industry, my happiness in the moment and the thankless slog of working towards achieving lifelong dreams.
2. I wanted to write more.
This one was also partially successful. As declared in my Write a Little bit Every Day post, I started a chart and decided — as the title suggests — to write a little bit every day. The most amazing thing about this approach is that it divides and conquers. Writing a book is daunting, but writing 3 pages is a piece of piss (as my one colleague would say). So this helped me to get of my ass and get some writing done. Not as much as I wanted to, but still more than I would have done otherwise, so that is something to be happy about.
I want to write even more. I have a notion that I want to finish what I started (the Sequel to Spadille) and trying out new things (a few short stories) and starting a new and extremely ambitious project (a young adult feminist fantasy saga of at least 5 books). There is no way in hell that I will manage much more than one of these in 2017, but coming up with absurd ideas and goals is, apparently, all part of being a writer.
3. I wanted to get Spadille published.
Alas, I did not. But I do not consider this a loss or even a setback. Trying to get published is (I have learned) one of the most solitary, thankless, mind-numbing, depressing, soul-destroying, doubt-inflicting, masochistic things that a writer could engage in. And I did it. I jumped into that cesspit of indifference and rejection and emerged on the other side with my self-respect and brainless tenacity mostly intact. I will admit that there was a time when I thought I would drown. That I would sink so deep that there would never be daylight for me again. But I have surfaced and will continue to rise. I will continue to write, and I will continue to try and get Spadille published. If nothing else, a writer needs to be pig-headed in the belief in their own art.
I want to get Spadille published.
4. I wanted to blog more.
Haha! How I laugh. I think I managed to squeeze out about 4 posts during the entire year. It was a miserable fail. But it also taught me what I am inclined to and what I have time for. It’s absolutely pointless to waste precious time writing inanities on a blog that no one but my mum ever reads…
I will write as many blog posts as I want, and not a single one more. I DO want to redesign the site, though, so maybe I’ll spend some time on that.
5. I wanted to read 50 books.
I read 52. That’s a book per week, so yay me! On the other hand, towards the end, when things were getting a bit tight, my decision of what to read next was seriously influenced by the length of a book, which seems pointless. Reading Anna Karenina earlier in the year put me so far behind schedule that I found myself turning to shorter and shorter books just to keep up.
I want to read 24 books. That is 2 books a month – totally doable, and will give me enough time to take on the mammoth project I have been planning for this year: reading War and Peace.
6. I wanted to save some money.
Hmm. This one is hard to tell. I did save some money, but I also spent some money. I did get a clearer grip on where my money goes and where I can cut down on spending, but I feel that I can still improve a lot in this regard. My sister and her other chartered accountant / auditor buddies have the whole budgeting thing down pat, and frequently over-save so much that they end up treating themselves to overseas trips and overpriced phones. To be fair, their salaries are a lot bigger than mine, but still, I think I should try to learn from them.
I want to learn how to budget properly.
7. I wanted to improve my horn playing.
Whether or not my teacher would agree, I think I did reasonably well in this respect. I set up a schedule where I practised more often than ever before, and did some public performances that would have been beyond me even a year ago. So, as a person who have no deadlines in this area (I mean, I can improve until I’m dead) and almost no aspirations (apart from improving), and has issues with finding time for all her hobbies, I think I fared very well.
I want to continue improving my horn playing.
8. I did NOT want to lose any weight or obsess about the imperfections of my body.
Oh God. Where do I even begin? So. What happened was this: I was unhappy with the hours at my old gym, and so, after doing some research, found out that I can get better rates and better hours if I changed gyms. The fact that the new gym offered a bunch of classes didn’t factor into my decision-making process, but turned out to be a life-changing event for me. I have always been keen to do yoga, so jumped at the chance. Then I also tried some Les Mills Body Pump, and was instantly hooked.
All of these new experiences almost immediately began to have its effects on my body: I could feel myself becoming stronger, leaner, and more flexible. This new, capable body, grown from outside influences, got me worrying about what I put into it. And so I started paying attention to eating and drinking better things. Not all the right things, and certainly not all of the time, but enough that it made a difference. It was a slow, steady process. Over the course of 10 months I have lost a total of 8kg. I have built some serious muscle that really redefined my silhouette, and I have gained some great balance and flexibility.
The best part is that some things that have previously bothered me, like restless legs and icky joints and lower back pain, have all but disappeared.
So I had absolutely no intention of doing anything about my body in 2016, but through series of unforeseen circumstances basically changed my entire life. I have no become the kind of person who loves going to the gym, and who rejoices at a new bulging muscle. Who knew, right? Surely stranger things have never happened.
I want to continue this amazing journey of seeing my body grow stronger, while reaping all the benefits that come with increased fitness.
9. I did NOT want to make any corsets.
Succeed! I did not make a single corset. I did make other stuff though, like a winter cape for my sister and some really awesome party costumes. I also had to adjust a fuck-load of my old clothes, as I have lost so much weight during the year, and didn’t want to throw out everything I owned.
I want to finish some halfway-done sewing projects, but don’t want to put any more pressure on myself. There are other things going on.
10. I want to turn my studio into a creative space.
Right now it’s a dud. It’s a storage room. A place where I hide my creative projects, a place where I retrieve them from so that I can work on them elsewhere. I want to turn this room into a place that has its own creative energy as a studio and an office, rather than just a spare room that is full of stuff I am not doing right now.
11. I want to learn conversational Xhosa.
This is a toughie. I don’t really have time to make insane commitments like learning a new language, but I do want to give this one a shot. I have a lot free brain-time during my commute, and since I won’t be spending all of it on another 52 books a year challenge, I will be putting some of that time towards learning some new words. I’m excited.
Stuff I really, REALLY shouldn’t be doing, but will probably do anyway:
12. I want to learn (against all logic and reason) how to play the recorder.
Again. I mean, I can’t even with this one. I found my old recorder in a closet and now feel like playing it. There are tons of free apps to help me, and it was easy the first time around, so how hard can it be? It is in complete violation of everything my mind knows and needs to be able to play the horn, and it is going to be a spectacular waste of time, but I think it might be fun. Hopefully it will only be fun for the first few days or so, and then I can tire of it and put this whim to rest before any of my other resolutions suffer. Hopefully.
And that’s all, folks. Here’s to having a great 2017!