The curtain opens on 2019 with Bob and I settling into new jobs, and with enough dry and above-freezing weather to weed, mulch, and plan this year’s garden. We’ve added eight raised beds and gone over the seed catalogs. In addition to what we grew last year (potatoes, leeks, peppers, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cherry tomatoes, husk cherries, lettuce, fall greens, and broccoli) we’ll add spinach, edamame, carrots, beets, and crook-necked pumpkins. And we’ll push the envelope of our comfort zone with Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.
My personal garden, the traits and habits I cultivate with intention, will also look a lot like last year. Although I have to admit I was tempted to skip making resolutions after reading an article about the down side of striving for perfection. The people we compare ourselves to, those who have made it to the holy grail of success, sometimes surprise us by ending up dead by their own hand. At some point we need to reach complacent self-acceptance. But then I listened to a podcast that recommended we trust ourselves to know which aspects of our lives were good enough and which ones need work. There is nothing wrong with coasting and likewise, nothing wrong with stepping on the gas.
When I asked Bob if he will set some goals this year he said he is always working on something and that January has no more significance than any other month. “Every day is a new year if you’re Bob; every day is your birthday, every day is Christmas,” he said. A banner above the shop floor of a manufacturing company we both worked at flashed into my mind. The banner read, “Continuous Improvement,” which is a good approach to both life and gardening.
But I love the clean-slate feel of a new year. I like the idea of a hard stop with its opportunity to look back, take a reckoning, and re-calibrate. So I will take a few moments to do both.
2019’s theme is “Quality over Quantity” and my goals are:
Reading – Slow down, read for fun, comprehension, and retention.
Conversation – Again, slow down, pay attention, damp down my inner dialogue and absorb what others are saying.
Writing – Slow down, write for fun, play with ideas in my journals, and write at least one old fashioned letter per month.
Sweets – Ramp up the savory with new pot pie recipes while damping down the sweets. All those sugar bombs are not doing me one bit of good. Sure, there will be cookies in the chest freezer, but those are there to make my life easier, not sicker. And it isn’t just the cookies; it’s the chocolate and other candy treats I drag home from the grocery store. The added benefit of my “Pot Pie of the Month” plan will be an increase in my pie dough expertise.
My self-improvement theme for 2018 was “Focus” and my goals were:
Bake more cookies – success!
I baked nearly a thousand cookies last year! I learned to keep the freezer stocked with grab-and-go goodness, turning cookies into my new go-to potluck offering. No more scratching my head over what to bring, life is simpler with cookies in the chest freezer.
Focus on the good – success!
Because my job as property manager required I focus on problems a.k.a. things that aren’t working, I hung up my hat and found a less-demanding job, one in which I didn’t have to be in charge.
Focus on my friends – success!
I shrunk my circle of friends to a dense core, and found I had more time for family during a challenging year.
Mind my own business – success!
I didn’t even have to work at this one. I naturally lost interest in other people’s problems after the employment change and social focusing. Less drama meant more solitary time, and more energy for my life with Bob.
Reading List – success!
I read thirty-four books, exceeding my goal of twenty-five and more than doubling the fifteen books I read in 2017.
Snitch Pad – success!
I now travel with a notebook where I jot down ideas and interesting catch phrases that I can turn to when I need writing inspiration.
Submissions – some improvement!
I submitted eighteen essays, missing my goal of twenty-four submissions, but exceeding 2017’s eleven. I also got better at teeing up the next project after turning in a story, but I had a lot of trouble launching into writing mode.
And there you have it, my goals for 2019 and a reckoning of last year’s intentions. For me, happiness is both acceptance of where I am now, a settling in with comfortable habits that work, and the challenge of reaching towards a better me. It takes wisdom to know which aspects of my life qualify for status quo and which need a little more work. This year I choose to take my foot off the gas, savor the good life, and harvest the rewards.