Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer of New

How's that for a grammatically troubling title?

Remember when I was going to #cleanonething each day?  Ha!  That pretty much lasted 3 days or so.  I am tempted to go back and erase that post, but that would be dishonest.  And if I'm going to succumb to laziness, I figure I should at least try to uphold a little dignity in the honesty department.  So I'm on to something new.  No, I do not have ADD, why do you ask? 

I feel like goals have been an issue for me lately.  I mean, I can obviously reach big life goals.  I got an undergraduate degree.  I got into Peace Corps.  I got a graduate degree, and a job, and for fuck's sake, I adopted two kids.  Marilla and Matthew may have sent off for a farmboy and wound up with the daughter of their heart* (that sounds creepy since they were siblings,  but you know what I mean), but in this day and age, nobody adopts without being VERY focused on reaching that goal.  Also, I've climbed a few mountains.  I've even taught middle school for fifteen years without ever ONCE killing a student, not even a little bit.  So I like to think I'm a capable person in many regards.  And yet...

Teachers set yearly professional goals.  I imagine it's somewhat the same process all over the country.  You set two "SMART" goals, discuss them with your administrator, then come back at the end of the year and discuss how you did.  I have always chosen goals I cared about and made enough progress on them to end up feeling good about myself.  This year we were given our goals.  Yup. One goal was specifically given to the whole teaching staff, and for the other goal, our department was informed what to focus on, and we had to write one together for all of us.  I promptly forgot about one of the goals, and struggled mightily with the other.  At the end of the year, this had an adverse affect on my evaluation.  To be more specific, I had the first mediocre evaluation of my teaching career.  Blech.  There are plenty of other factors involved, but still, it stung. 

Then there's the weight thing.  Blame it on perimenopause, blame it on depression around my dad's death, whatever--I have gained an impressive amount of weight this year.   In a weird way I was even enjoying it.  "Wow, I'm BIG!"  But then I outgrew all of my pants, which was distressing.  So I joined Weight Watchers through my work.  And forgot to attend most of the meetings.  And did not follow the program.  And continued to steadily gain weight. 

Which brings me to my goal.  I came across an article about a man who was doing something new every day for a year.  He'd realized that his holiday letter from 2011 was virtually interchangeable with his holiday letters from five and ten years earlier and decided he needed to shake things up.  He did things like skydiving, riding a mechanical bull, or starting a fire by rubbing sticks together.  (I am probably combining several of the "one new thing a day" folks, but they all seem pretty adventurous.)  I liked the idea, but I know myself well enough to know there's no skydiving in my future.  I also know my life well enough to know there may be things I'd be willing to try, but the current family and financial situation would make them difficult or unrealistic.  Then I came across a few blogs--not by people who'd written books or been interviewed on national talk shows--in which they recorded new things such as walking counterclockwise on a route they'd always done clockwise, or sitting in the "wrong" spot at the dining room table.  And I thought, "I can do that." 

I decided to do one new thing a day for the summer.  This was on about June 25th, but as luck would have it, I could think of a new thing I'd done each day already, starting with speaking at a memorial service on June 21st.   So far I've been enjoying it.  I've had to stretch a bit to come up with a "new thing" on some of my quieter days, but I've also stretched in terms of trying actual new things a few times.  Plus--bonus!--while I don't plan on blogging every little thing, some of the more challenging items will give me something to blog about (now that it's summer and I have time to write...)

Some of my ideas:  write fiction, swim laps (I used to do that, but not in over 20 years, so I think it counts), go bouldering, make some new recipes, make and freeze meals ahead of time, show up 10 minute early everywhere for a day, spend a day listening to radio stations I'd normally avoid, do a 72 hour sugar fast (nervous about this idea!), figure out how to download books from the library...feel free to share either suggestions, or new things you've tried lately!

*If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm not sure I want to be friends with you.**

**On second thought, it just means you need an introduction to Anne.  This is a rare case when I'd even recommend the mini-series if you're not a fiction reader.  Seriously, my macho brother-in-law LOVED the show.  

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