Real Talk: New Year, New Resolutions

It’s 2016. When did that happen?

As we all know, a new year means New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone resolves to lose weight and go to the gym… and they stick with it until mid-February. Then the gym crowd empties out again (and I can have my treadmill back, dammit), and the resolution falls by the wayside.

I don’t normally do resolutions. For one, I can’t really stick with them. But this year, I thought I’d make a list of things I want to do in 2016. Goals for myself, of a sort. Some of these are serious, some are more lighthearted. Because it’s about balance, y’all.

You can call them resolutions if you like. For me, they’re more like life improvements instead of resolutions.

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No, there’s no reason for this hedgehog. I just thought it was cute.

1. Become more involved in my church.

Over the course of 2015, I started attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D.C. I’d been once, a few years ago for the Easter service, but I hadn’t been back because, well, I was lazy. I didn’t have a car, and Sunday bus service is less than reliable.

In April, I brought my car to D.C. And there went my excuse. I’ve been attending regularly as I can with work travel, but I would like become more involved. First, I plan on joining this year. I’d like to do a small group Bible study, maybe volunteer. I think that that would be good for my growth, as a Christian, and the church is so warm and welcoming.

2. Stop worrying about what my friends are doing on social media.

That sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Let me explain.

I suffer from a syndrome, best diagnosed in the title of Mindy Kaling’s first book — Is everyone hanging out without me? I have this paranoia that while I’m sitting at home in my pajamas and reading a book, all my friends are out having oh-so-much fun together. Without me.

So what do I do? I check Facebook. And Instagram. And Snapchat. And that just reinforces the feeling of isolation — which is funny, isn’t it? We’re so connected via the internet, yet it can make a person feel as lonely as ever. It’s not good for your mental health to worry about such stupid things like that.

But that’s the thing about platforms like Instagram, isn’t it? We present our ‘perfect’ life. One where we’re having so much fun, enjoying adventure, drinks, and other beautiful people. We don’t see the other side, which, if we’re being honest, probably encompasses more of reality than the curated side.

I think it can be best summed up by a friend. She recently moved back to D.C. after a year or so pretty far away. We were talking about her new job and why she’d moved back, and the question was posed, “You looked so happy where you were living. All your posts were of the fun things you did. Why would you want to leave?”

And her response? “Yeah, but I didn’t post about all the nights I sat at home, drinking an entire bottle of wine by myself.”

So in 2016, I’m quitting that. I’m going to do my best (and it’ll probably take effort) to not worry about everyone else. Sure, they’re having fun — but they’re also just like me: on the couch alone some nights.

3. Go home more often

I have a car. Tennessee is only an 8 hour drive away. There’s no reason for me not to suck it up and take a weekend and go see my family. I love spending time at home — why don’t I do it more often?

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My last road trip home

4. Spend money on experiences, not things

That sounds like the most basic, white girl thing ever, doesn’t it? I’ve seen this on several Thought Catalog pieces, but it’s something I’d really like to try. Because yeah, a new Kate Spade purse is nice — but a last minute road trip to the Outer Banks with some friends is way more meaningful.

I’m a travelbug. Always have been, always will be. That’s a requirement to date me — must have passport. If I can snag a super cheap airfare somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, why not go? I’m single and childless, with a great job that encourages me to actually use — not hoard — my vacation days. Why not go?

BRB, just adding to my AirBNB wishlist.

5. Play more golf

I used to hate golf. Hate hate hated it. But then I started playing and fell in love. I’ve got a nice set of clubs and a car. There’s no reason not to play a round every few weekends or so (when the weather gets back above freezing, obviously). I can channel my inner Robin Williams (NSFW video, obviously).

6. Music. Must have more music

I’ve been in D.C. for 6 1/2 years. How is it that I’ve still never been to the Kennedy Center? Home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the DC Opera, and venue that plays host to some of the most esteemed musicians in the world. But I’ve only heard the NSO play once — discounting seeing them on TV for the Fourth of July.

So, a goal this year is to make it to all of them: the ballet, the opera, the symphony. And that doesn’t even count in all the great live music venues in D.C. It’s something I haven’t really taken advantage of here yet, and I intend to change that.

7. Remember to take time for myself

These days, it feels like everyone puts a priority on being busy. The most common excuse for why someone can’t do something is, “Oh, I’m busy.”

Without getting into the cult of ‘busy,’ I do think burnout is very real. Especially in a city like D.C, where you work hard and are then generally expected to play hard. It’s hard to remember that it’s perfectly acceptable to turn down plans simply because you want to go to bed at 8:30. (And yes, I realize this sounds contrary to Life Improvement #1, but I’m channeling my inner Dowager Countess here).

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8. Show gratitude

Nothing is perfect. In fact, I think there’s no such thing. But for everything that is ‘wrong,’ there is so much that is amazing in my life. I’m very blessed with a healthy family, a roof over my head, a steady income, and my own health. I have amazing friends who love me, and who I love in return. There’s so much to be grateful for. Instead of focusing on the negative so much, I want to focus on the positives.

9. Lose weight

Come on, you knew that one was coming. 😉

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Real Talk: A fear of failure

What scares you?

I don’t mean the deep fears, the ones rooted in some dark psychological place that is far too serious for my blog. I mean the little, trivial ones. Scary things like clowns, horror movies, or spiders.

No, these aren’t personal… why do you ask?

Amen, Ron.

I like to think that not much scares me on a superficial level. I know my friends will argue — they’ve seen my face when someone suggests we watch the latest Saw movie. HOWEVER. It is completely logical to dislike scary movies. I mean, why would I want to be scared for the fun of it? Scary =/= fun.

Sorry, tangent. That’s not the point. The point is, I’m going to share with you something that scares me.

Failure.

I know, that’s a cop-out fear. After all, doesn’t everyone fear failure? Who walks around and thinks, “You know, I’d like to fail today.” Not I, said Virginia. I was born with a healthy spirit of competition and a need to win at everything. I’m sure that doesn’t stem from growing up in a competitive family or anything.

A year or so ago, my cousin directed me to the TED Talks website. It’s a collection of inspirational and thought-provoking talks given by various celebrities, writers, artists, and other innovators. If you have time, head on over and take a look — but I’m going to embed my favorite below.

In 2008, JK Rowling (she of the Harry Potter genius) gave the commencement address at Harvard University. Obviously, I didn’t go to Harvard — but a generous soul filmed her speech, and it’s available as a TED Talk. The topic of her address?

The Importance of Imagination and the Fringe Benefits of Failure.

It’s a very entertaining speech, and if you’ve got some time, I would encourage you to listen to all of it. I could dissect the entire thing, but that would take more time than we have today.

But what does all this have to do with me?

Well, I’m starting a new project — a project that strikes fear in my heart. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s something that’s going to open me up to outside criticism, likely rejection, and possible failure.

I’m writing a book.

It’s taken a while, but I have an idea. I have a main character who’s taken grasp in my head as well as several supporting ones (I promise I’m not schizophrenic). I’m working on supporting documents, character maps, and I have a playlist (because obviously, there must be music).

It gives you WINGS.

I hope to use this space as a sort of look into my writing process — which I’ll go ahead and tell you, won’t be very interesting. Random internet browsing, doing research on the most peculiar things (after a rousing game of Six Degrees of Wikipedia), and lots of caffeine ingestion. But I have a goal, and by year’s end, I’m going to accomplish it.

It’s going to be a wild ride! But I’m glad to have y’all there with me.

She had her nose in a book…

…And her head in the clouds.

For my last birthday, my wonderful family gifted me with a NOOK Color. After an initial period of resistance to the e-reader trend (I just love the heft of a book in my hands), I’d finally admitted that yes, I wanted the shiny.

And really, as much as I love books, I don’t have the room in my current home to store them. Books need room to breathe and stretch their arms, to be admired — I live in a shoebox (but a very nice shoebox at that).

Within two weeks of receiving my NOOK, I had read almost nine books — what can I say? I needed to catch up on The Hollows! And I can definitely see why my parents said “No NOOK until you finish grad school.”

Truth

While I’ve slowly been slogging along through A Song of Ice and Fire this summer (better known as the Game of Thrones books), I’ve had to pause my journey through Westeros to read a few books from my local library.

The conundrum for me: I have the first four George RR Martin books. They’re mine. But library books are mine for a finite amount of time — I have to read them right then and there! And yet, later I wonder why it’s taking me four months to get through A Clash of Kings.

Most of you who know me know that I have very… eclectic tastes. I’ve documented my love for fantasy and science fiction novels, but honestly? I’ll read most anything. Here are a few of my current reading/have read/to read selections:

Have read: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling, better known as Kelly Kapoor from The Office, is hilarious. Her writing is self-deprecating, witty, and after finishing her book, I just want to be her best friend. It’s a super easy read that you’ll devour in less than a day. AND, she’s got her own show this fall on FOX called The Mindy Project — you can check out the trailer here.

Needless to say, I’ll definitely be tuning in!

Currently reading: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Okay, confession time. When I say “currently reading,” I mean that it’s loaded on my NOOK and I need to read it before I have to give it back to the library. But I’m starting it tonight, so progress! The Paris Wife tells the story of Ernest Hemmingway’s first wife, Hadley, and their life together in Paris during the Roaring Twenties.

Paris? The Lost Generation? Did I mention Paris? Yes, please.

To read: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Oh come on, y’all knew I had to have a fantasy book somewhere on this list (Game of Thrones notwithstanding). The Night Circus is the September book for the DC Theta alumni chapter Book Club — which I am going to make a concerted effort to go to next month!

In all honesty, I don’t know much about this book. But the blurb on the Barnes and Noble website makes it sound interesting, so I’ll give it a go.

And then, I might finally finish A Clash of Kings. >.>

Sound off! What are some of your favorite books and/or series? (And please remember, this is a 50 Shades of Grey-free blog — mention it not!)

An Olympic Moment

Real talk: I love the Olympics.

I mean, how can you not love the Olympics? It’s sporty and patriotic and competitive, all wrapped up in two weeks of non-stop awesomeness. The Olympics are something the entire world can take pride in – the World Cup is awesome, but let’s be real. It’s only a) one sport, and b) the same teams (hello, Europe) usually win.

But in the Olympics? There are always those surprises.

Because we’re among friends here, I’ll confess: the sound of that trumpet fanfare makes me tear up. Call me a sap, but whatever. I get SO EXCITED when the Games are on.

So excited I cancelled dinner plans with M on Friday night so I could go home, order pizza, and watch the Opening Ceremonies on my couch.  Perfect Friday night, in my opinion!

Like most young athletes, I dreamed of competing in the Olympics. I was a competitive softball player until I was eighteen, but those dreams didn’t pan out. Also, I’m still quite peeved the IOC cut softball from the 2012 London Games – too American dominated? It’s not our fault we’re better than the rest of the world!

It’s funny that two of my favorite Olympic sports are those that I could never accomplish in my wildest dreams – figure skating and gymnastics. I hate ice skating – and so do my knees – and the last time I was the proper size for an Olympic gymnast was when I was about nine years old. But I lovelovelove watching them on TV.

I remember staying up past my bedtime (because I’m a senior citizen when it comes to sleep) to watch Evan Lysacek win the gold medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. And of course, I don’t think anyone could forget that moment in Atlanta (1996, y’all) when Kerri Strug nailed her vault on one foot to clinch the gold for Team USA.

What other defining moments do you remember from past Games?

And, more importantly…

Do y’all love the Olympics as much as I do? 🙂