Jan 5, 2015

Life & Times: 15 Ways To Better Myself For 2015

Bad ass Anna May Wong drinking in the new year circa 1920s
'New year, new me' ...eh, that line disagrees with me. Immensely.

I guess I want to be more like Anaïs Nin who quoted: "I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me."

Yes. Yes. This so much.

When the clock struck midnight on January 1st I didn't morph into 'All-New Jen!', I was still ol' boring Jen, a little buzzed, loudly laughing at the dumb nut newscasters on our local New Years broadcast, and stuffed with cocktail shrimp Jen.

I will say there is nothing wrong with having a game plan for what you want in life, and there is absolutely positively tooting nothing wrong with using the new year to start that game plan. All I'm just saying is that you don't become shiny and new with a new year, so stop that bullshiggity. There is a process to change and it's ongoing, and quite arduous, but still it's doable.

In my always earnest attempt to be on top of things, I decided to write out my process, coming up with 15 ways to better myself for 2015 and beyond. Not all of the things are going to get done this year, maybe all of them won't, but I'm going to at least try and roll with the 2015 punches, see what molds.


#1: Fruit, vegetables, water, exercise --- rinse and repeat
Simply follow the cornerstones of health. Okay, okay, it's mega cliche to talk about diet and exercise for the new year, but whatever. I pretty much regularly exercise, whether it's treadmill, elliptical, swimming, or dancing around in my room, but I could up it some and attempt a weekend routine. I'm not big on diets, because I love doughnuts too much and once upon a time my Mom and I tried this detox water diet and we both almost died, so I just need the word "moderation" to keep pounding in my mind.

#2: Be more on the ball with the appointment side of health
Speaking of rinsing and repeating a health pattern, I should make more appointments with my dentist and my doctor. No excuses. I did go to the dentist last year to get my cavities filled, but I also need some other dental work done (and to think wearing braces throughout my teen years would've abated this...). Also I need to get a flu shot, be up on my pap smear, and all of that cringing, yet necessary stuff.

#3: Create a kick-ass writing space
I'm embarrassed to relay that I do not own a desk. I'm even more embarrassed to say that my bed is my desk, and while that sounds luxurious and all, it is not. Oh, I had a desk back in college, yet when I graduated and had to move back in with my parents I was low on funds, so I couldn't afford to move a bulk of my possessions, plus the room I occupy in my parent's apartment has limited space, so I had to (tearfully) sacrifice the big, large desk I had. I mean, forget about needing a "room of one's own" to write --- I need a freaking desk. This new year I'm not so terribly strapped for cash so I'm going to break down and rearrange my room's floorplan and buy myself a new desk that fits in my little dungeon. If I'm serious about writing, I need to be serious about the space I do it in.

#4: Utilize social media better
I'm also ashamed as a 28-year-old that my social media presence is...lacking. On Pinterest I'm a rock star, but on Tumblr I'm a ghost with some reblogs here and there, and then nothing for months. When it comes to writing 140 characters on Twitter, I feel I am not witty or quick enough to latch onto all the cool hashtag trends or movements and since Twitter itself is so vast, where thoughts and feelings are so exposed, it puts even someone like me who is candid in social settings in a odd position. I have continuous days where I battle with wanting to get rid of my social media accounts completely as I feel like I'm standing alone at a party with a plate in one sweaty hand, feeling odd and left out. Still, these social platforms are essential for writers and creatives like myself to broaden their audience and lead eyes to their work. That's why some writers like Roxane Gay had big followings when it came to their paper published work, as it all came from cultivating an online presence first. I just want to get out of not feeling so awkward on social media, and start having a firmer grasp at utilizing it better for myself and my writing.

#5: Support other writers
Speaking of being social, I don't feel that I engage with other writers enough. In the midst of all the writing that I do plus juggling other things in my life, I get tired, and just want to post and be done. I tend to forget about the other writers out there in my field, and my social etiquette towards them needs to be better. Not every writer I want to get uber-chummy with, but I'd like to have a few more writer friends and give credit where credit is due. So instead of nodding my head and silently saving the article, I should stop lurking and add my comment or tweet them a response to tell them how much I enjoyed what they wrote. I should especially do this towards writers who are just starting out, because I've been there, and I know what it's like to be a beginner. If there isn't a response, I shouldn't take it personal, but sometimes you never know what sending a simple "thank you for writing this" can do not just for the person, but for yourself.

#6: Be more invested, in being invested
Since my grandmother passed last year, we're dealing with the big bad aftermath --- wills, her finances, house mortgages, etc. In the process, I've noticed how really screwed up she had her wills and bank accounts and even with a lawyer, its been a real headache trying to get things situated. It's why I urged my parents to be on the ball about wills and life insurance policies (don't worry they have), and it's why I'm seriously thinking about learning more about money --- not just how to get it --- but how to manage it, invest in it, and 'save it for a rainy day'. Far too often I see that women, like my grandmother, relied on a spouse to handle all the affairs, and even my own mother found herself in that pot. So coming from a long line of individuals who weren't terribly savvy with money has made me want to break that cycle and get smart about money for a change (pun intended).

#7: Find a better-fitting bra
This video by Caty 135 showed me the light to making my Pointer Sisters happy and I should do right by them and get bras that do them justice.

#8: Learn to do something that I missed out on as a kid
I don't want to reveal at present what exactly it is that I missed out on as kid that I want to attempt at 28, but its completely G-Rated, and it's just high time I learned to do it.

#9: Take more pictures
As we're also clearing out my grandmother's home and getting ready to sell it, I noticed going through all of her photo albums just how much life she lived, and how much of it was captured, framing time and place. Nowadays I tend to shy away from the camera, upset with my appearance, and not really feeling like my life is "Instagrammable", not to mention, no Mayfair filter can distract from the fact that I'm a terrible photographer. Look at me, once again hard on myself, but I have a nice Samsung 5 phone, I should use the damn camera and take snapshots, because I will never pass this way again...

#10: Be on a better sleeping and waking schedule
This too also applies to my health, but my sleep patterns deserve their own special resolution because they are super duper wonky. I blame a prolonged unemployment mixed with depression for making me feel uninspired to rise early or really rise at all. I often call myself an insomniac as I stay up nights, and maybe I am, but I think I'm more of the person who likes to Pinterest and Netflix the night away, while squeezing in writing time till I look up and it's 4AM and half of the world is rising for a new day while I'm just putting my head down on my pillow. I need to quit slacking on my sleep, and get up earlier just so I can be more productive and not lag behind on my blogging just because I overslept. Oh, and I need to start having a love affair with naps again, because yeah, those are good.

#11: Become a better researcher
Though I'm pretty thorough when it comes to pulling together a post or article, I always feel I could do better at finding unique angles to the writings that I do instead of me riffing off the same angles that a billion other bloggers and writers may do. I know not everything needs to be over-analyzed or sometimes there really is one way to write about something, but I just want to be more on top of gathering unique sources, and finding new dimensions to a subject matter.

#12: Get out more, meet new people
I currently live in an 'Old Folks Home' as the only people I'm relating to right now are my parents. I love them, and living with them isn't super awful (my parents are pretty cool people!), but they aren't people who don't get passionate about new Kimbra albums, writing blogs, or who can quote Romy & Michele's High School Reunion lines with me --- they just listen, smile, and nod when I spaz out about these things. I really don't want "listening, smiling, and nodding", I want to meet my weird kindred spirits who happen to be around my age. Internet socializing doesn't cut it, I want face-to-face friendship, I want to join something that will get me out of 'Old Folks Home'. I have a Meet-Up app on my phone --- I should use it.

#13: Finish...something...anything
I'm quite terrible about starting projects and then never finishing them. I have an interest in making jewelry and I have only made a few pieces (okay, two...okay, one...) and I should put those beads and gemstones to some use. I also have a whole Pinterest board of DIY's that I'd like to try and when was the last time I made something special for my mother for her birthday? Oh, and those short stories I have opening paragraphs  for with tons of blank space after them? I should finish them and shop them around to online publications or post them on Medium, Tumblr, or just someplace.

#14 - Focus on my own shiggity
Self-doubt is kryptonite. Comparing oneself to another is equivalent to falling on your own sword. It's all over-dramatic, messy, and of our own senseless doing, and yet I engage it it far too often. Whenever I read an article and go, "Damn, I wish I wrote this", instead of just letting that fall off my back like a bead of competitive spirit sweat, I let it lodge and fester into feelings of inadequacy and jealousy, and the stench is for real. I need to stop comparing myself to other people, really stop viewing other people's work and accomplishments in the lens of my own. True, it stings when you're working your tail off and then someone comes along and they've got their stuff all together and getting the gigs you're still grinding your teeth for, but I don't know how much they've too struggled or what's really going on behind the grind. Instead of getting jealous and nitpicking at myself, I'm going to be inspired by their work ethic and techniques, and know that one day it'll be my time to shine, but right now I need to focus on my own shit and continue down a path of self-discovery instead of one cobbled with self-loathing.

#15 - Learn the power of "NO!"
A biggie for me. I feel that I pile on more work than what needs to be done, and that's just me trying to be an overachiever to points of hair-pullling-in-the-corner-rocking insanity. I can't write on every subject matter that pops up. I can't always carve out time to help everybody who needs it. I can't do everything. I can't be everything. I can only do my best with the mess I can handle and I need to be okay with saying "no" every once in awhile. Being overwhelmed and drained to the points of grueling stress and confusion is just not a good look, so I'm only combating the battles that I know I've got shields and swords for, and the rest of it can just storm by.

Now it's your turn...what are the ways you're bettering yourself for this shiny new year? 

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