Whacking the Weeds of 2014

There is a house in my neighborhood that I covet. It is a grand old craftsman, 4500 square feet, built in 1906. It is in a state of disrepair, to put it mildly. There is a blue tarp covering a significant portion of the roof and a furry coat of moss blankets many of the wood shingles. The front yard is a mishmash of bamboo stalks, upended flowerbed edging, and dead patches of grass. From outside, I can see the clutter that must permeate the inside of the house as every window sill seems to be lined with an assortment of old bottles and brick-a-brac. The large backyard, barely visible through a chain-link fence, must have been a lovely retreat once, with mature trees and brick pathways; now it is an overgrown tangle of trees that have woven together to create a space that is both a bit scary and completely enticing. I run past the big house several times a week trying to glean little bits of information about it, daydreaming of the owner coming outside and inviting me in to take a look (I bet the woodwork and built-ins are phenomenal). Much to my surprise, a few weeks ago I was running by the house and found the backyard cleared out. It must have taken many truckloads to strip away the years, but there the yard was, ready and waiting for something new.

I feel a bit as if that house is something of a metaphor for my life. The past couple of years of my life have been about clearing out the old and making room for the new. There was definitely a build-up mental detritus and I’ve worked hard to clear out the metaphorical weeds and cobwebs. The main reason I haven’t written here in months is that I have finally started on something new. I have been working, quite literally, nonstop since school started in late August: 1:00 to 2:00 am has become my new bedtime, as soon as the kids are in bed I am wedded to the computer, working, working, working. It’s been both satisfying and incredibly difficult. I think every day about writing but I haven’t been happy with writing so anonymously her nor have I come to any conclusions about how to be more open and pure. At the beginning of this new year, I have resolved to give up on the perfectionist fantasy of writing perfectly. It’s going to be messy, but messy is better than nothing at all. So let’s get the dump truck, clear out 2014, and see what next year brings?

I made five New Year’s resolutions last year. I love New Year’s resolutions; they really work for me to make positive change in my life. I am a ridiculously goal-oriented person and I get a little high off of a ruthlessly honest assessment of how I did. So without further adieu, a review of 2014:

*I shall not buy any desserts in 2014. This includes cake, cookies, ice cream, and candy. I can buy ingredients, but if it’s sweet and I want to eat it, I have to make it. One of the reasons I made this resolution was that because in the shit year that was 2013 it became very clear to me that I was treating my sadness with sugar. Now, as vices go sugar is pretty tame. That said, two desserts a day isn’t a recipe for long term health either. I did buy some desserts in 2014, but I probably made 80 to 90 of all the sweets I ate. As much as I love ice cream, I ate gallons less this past year. After consistently making my own ice cream (a delicious, but rather slow process) most-store bought ice cream simply doesn’t compare. I don’t really even want to buy ice cream any more. I also broke myself of my See’s candy habit (not that I will turn down a box if you send one my way – milk chocolate, if you please) but I respect it as a treat rather than a given in my life. I plan to stick with this attitude towards sweets in 2015 and hopefully for the rest of my life.

*I will stay in better contact with my far away, but much loved little brother. I think one of the difficult lessons of adulthood is that everything, absolutely everything in life is a phase; both the bad and the good. My brother and I were quite close growing up. The greatest thing about my brother is that he is a truly caring person and could always make me laugh; not an easy proposition. Now my brother lives 1500 miles away and has a life very different from my own. For many years, we’ve rarely spoken; not out of any animosity but out of the simple tragedy of growing apart. I know that we will never be able to as close as we were when we were kids, with bedrooms across the hall from one another; each others’ only friends as we moved time and time again during my childhood. But I don’t have to accept estrangement either. Neither of us are phone people, but I made an effort to text and Facebook him this year. I planned a family vacation and he came all the way from the Midwest to join our family, my parents, my sister and her girlfriend at Legoland. My kids got to know their uncle and now ask when they will see him again. In particular it was awesome to see Older, who has a quirky silly sense of humor, bond with my brother who is in many ways a big kid at heart. I am definitely going to keep our communication going and my mom and I are already planning family vacation 2015.

*I will run an official 5K race. One day in March I was out for a run; planning to go my regular 2.5 miles when I realized that as I neared the end of the run I wasn’t all that tired. Maybe it was the fabulous egg sandwich for breakfast, maybe it was inspiration, who knows, but I busted out a 5K with my personal best mile right on the spot. I was elated and realized that I didn’t need an official race to consider this one a success. The truth is I have no desire to wake up early – ever. I don’t want to pay for the “privilege” of going for a run in a big crowd of people when I much prefer to run by myself. Now I run a 5K, two to four times a week, every week, rain or shine. I’m not making any promises but I am mulling the idea of running my very own 10K race at some point. Husband even offered to make me a little “race” medal out of wood himself. This one was definitely a success.

*We will finish our house – all the little (and big) things that need fixing, all missing molding/trim, all the the repainting, EVERYTHING. It’s not world peace, but this past year I painted every single interior wall of the house. (And hired someone to paint the exterior). It. Feels. So. Damn. Good. Despite my love of old houses which are only one step more put together than ruins, I am basking in the joy of living in a house where I don’t feel a constant need to do something. We also very nearly made a big move this past summer and one of the more minor yet important reasons that we didn’t move was that I could barely stand the idea of all the work and stress it would take to get the house ready to sell so quickly and the idea of never having lived in finished house. We have a few more important things to finish on the house (electrical is really out of my scope) but for the most part our house is show-ready and it feels phenomenal.

*I will write, creatively, every day. This resolution was a spectacular failure. I set myself a trap by setting a goal of every day; it was far too ambitious and rather than do it halfway I didn’t do it at all. I also failed to anticipate just how busy I would be in the fall semester. I didn’t have enough time for exercise or sleep, much less writing. I do, however, absolutely feel that there is something missing in my life without writing. So I suppose despite my utter failure to write, this resolution was useful in that it made me realize just how important writing is to me.

It’s January 1st today, and I feel like I should have my 2015 all perfectly formulated and ready to go, but *deep breath* they’re not ready yet and I know I have a much better chance of succeeding if I take the time to make the resolutions specific and meaningful. So stay tuned…I promise that one of them will be writing here on a regular basis.

Did you have any resolutions for 2014? How did they go for you?

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