Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Taking Stock

When I was in my mid-20s, I was complaining to my grandmother about how quickly time goes by. She smiled and told me to appreciate it, because every year goes by faster than the one before. I didn't quite believe her. Now, when I realize that my mid-20s were ten years ago, it's like a slap in the face. TEN. YEARS. How did that happen??? Since J. and I have been together, time has been strange. I think about the early days of our relationship, and these thoughts are both in my mind: "It's already been two years?" and "We've been together forever; how can that have been only two years ago?"

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates got it right with that one. Each year, as my birthday approaches, I feel the need to take stock of my life. If I don't stop and consider where I've been and where I'm going, life seems to just be a series of things that happen to me. So, with that in mind...

What have I accomplished since my last birthday?

~ Just before my birthday last year, J. and I moved back to Dallas. We'd wanted to move for a long time, and I'm so glad we made the leap. It was hard at first, but now I have a job I love, J. is in school and doing well, and we are happy. Our life has improved steadily, and it was absolutely the right move for us.

What have I done to improve myself? What have I done to improve my community and the world around me?

~ I have not done much, at least officially, to improve myself over the last year. I haven't taken any classes or focused much on my personal development. But it was a busy, stressful year. I think I've done more for others than for myself, which is fairly typical of me. I focused a lot of time and effort on helping J. get enrolled in and ready for school. We are working with a rescue group to control the population growth of the feral cat colony around our home. We have given a second cat a forever home, and are fostering a third kitten for future adoption.

What do I want to accomplish before my next birthday?

~ I set three reading goals for 2011. First, to read four classic novels (preferably one per quarter). They are: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I've already finished The Handmaid's Tale. Second, I want to read 90 books this year. I read 88 books in 2009 and 87 in 2010, so it's manageable, but I'll have to work at it. Lately I haven't been reading at all on weeknights, which makes it impossible to read more than one book per week. I'm going to start reading one chapter per weeknight, minimum. And I'm going to try to read on my lunch break at least three days per week. Third, I want to read as many of the books in my to-be-read pile at home as I can so I can get them out of my house.

~ I want to spend more time with my friends. Since my circles don't really overlap, it's hard to make time to see everyone. I still have several friends I haven't seen since we moved back to Dallas. And since I haven't had regular access to Facebook since May 2010, I feel very isolated from them.

~ I want to do something fun for myself. Ideally, I want to start scrapbooking again. In order for that to happen and be a fun thing for me, J. and I will have to move to a bigger place (which will hopefully happen anyway), and we'll have to either have a space with a door or rig a closet or cabinet so that I can close off my space. Crafts and cats don't mix well. If scrapbooking isn't manageable this year, then I'd like to take a class. I don't know what kind of class yet - something interesting and challenging and just for me.

~ I want to take a trip with J. I don't care where we go or what we do, but I want us to go somewhere. We are, of course, planning for our Christmas trip, but it's a long time till December, and so much can happen. It would be wonderful if we could go somewhere this summer, even if it's only overnight.

Before my next birthday, what do I want to do to improve myself? What can I do to improve my community and the world around me?

~ I want to spend more time with my own thoughts, whether that's journaling them on paper or on this blog.

~ I want to find a creative outlet. Hopefully it will be scrapbooking, but if that can't happen this year, I want to find something else.

~ I want to focus a little more on myself in regard to my grooming. I don't make time for regular haircuts, and I'm too lazy on the vast majority of days to put on makeup. But the fact is, I'm getting to an age where it's just not appropriate to go to work every day with my hair up and no makeup, especially in the type of job I have. And I feel better about myself when I take a few minutes to look put together.

~ I want to take better care of my health. We've already begun eating better, but I want to do more. I want to quit smoking this year, to eat more fruit and less ice cream, and to maybe go for an occasional walk.

~ I want to continue working with the feral cat colony around our home. I want to talk to our neighbors about trapping on their properties, so we can get as many of these cats altered as possible. I don't want any more litters of funny and precious but unwanted and unadoptable feral kittens to be born under my porch.

We're still 38 days from my birthday, so I may write more on this over the next month. For now, this is it.

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