Happy New Year!
Mark and I originally planned to stay in for NYE after hosting Christmas and my parents during their week-long visit. Yesterday morning, however, we decided to give my dish cleaning hands a rest and go out to eat, so Mark booked a table at Melting Pot. Having a 9:30 dinner reservation made it a little easier to stay up, gave us an excuse to wear something other than sweatpants, and made the evening feel more celebratory. Oh, and it gave us a nice end-of-year binge (liquid cheese and chocolate, yum) before jumping on the new year detox bandwagon.
We started the evening at home with a couple of kir royales, reviewed our 2012 goals, reflected on the previous 12 months, discussed plans for the coming year, and revisited our “lotto list” (everything we would do/buy if money was no object – somehow the list shrinks rather than grows each time we review it). After lots of good food and great conversation, we got home around 11:45, topped up our champagne flutes, counted down the last moments of 2012 in our time zone, and promptly got to bed.
How did I do on my resolutions last year?
Continue cooking new foods. I definitely expanded my cooking horizons, continuing to add new dishes to our dinner rotation on a regular basis and even learning to make more things from scratch (notably apple sauce, which is ridiculously easy and delicious, and “normal” brownies, since I’d only ever made light or single-serving versions from scratch). Santa very kindly brought us a Crock-Pot, too, which is cooking a new recipe (chicken enchilada soup) as I type.
Travel. We traveled a lot. In fact, I think January and December were the only months I didn’t step foot on a plane. This year we visited Colorado, Vegas, the Bay Area, Nice, Monaco, Geneva, Cancun, Munich, Prague, Krakow, New York, Boston, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Reno, and Tulsa. I also attended conferences in the Bay Area and Sacramento, while Mark had a work conference of his own in Miami. We also attended a friend’s wedding in Wales, and spent a weekend in Temecula, our new local wine region. In 2013, I am fairly certain we will be travelling less, and will mostly stay closer to home. So far we have a spa retreat booked next weekend in Palm Desert and will be headed across the Atlantic for a week or two in December (for a wedding back in England). We plan to do some more local exploring (possibly Big Bear or Yosemite, and maybe parts of LA) and might visit Chicago and/or Austin and/or Hawaii.
Commit to causes I believe in. I really sucked at this. I did find a charity I believe in, but it’s not very local, so I’m not actively volunteering there.
Cut back spending by at least £500/month. We managed to do this pretty easily. In fact, by March, we were shocked at how low our regular monthly spending was. It proved how much regular pub socializing, dining out, and mindless shopping add up (I only bought a single item of clothing – a pair of tights – between December 2011 and June 2012, and you could probably count our pub visits during the same timeframe on two hands). Currently, our discretionary budget is still in flux. We haven’t really had a ‘normal’ month- without home purchases or travel or visitors – in the US, so we’re still figuring out the optimal monthly allowance for food, drinks, and shopping.
Get rid of unused items. Before the move, we sold (or donated) so. much. stuff. Honestly, we’d never had a lot of junk before, but it is amazing how much more you can get rid of when you clean out every corner and cabinet. We shipped less than 50 cubic feet of personal possessions (including Mark’s music collection), and even got rid of some of the clothes we shipped after they arrived. Admittedly we bought new furniture and kitchen gadgets, but with us buying so much stuff in a short space of time, we definitely limited our purchases to things we needed rather than random clutter.
Run at least 2 or 3 10K races. This didn’t happen at all. In fact, I hardly ran much at all this year. In the last couple of months, I’ve probably logged fewer than 15 miles in total. I generally felt unmotivated to run, and stuck mostly to heavy lifting and interval training (or, you know, being generally sedentary). San Diego’s hilly terrain makes me a little anxious to run races here, but I would like to get back into running. I’ll likely stick to weight training mostly, and aim to work in a couple of 4-6 mile runs most weeks.
Lose 7 lbs. This happened (kind of – 5 pounds is close enough), and then so did Christmas. Oops. Post-Melting Pot binge aside, I was overall down a pound or two during this holiday season compared to last year. With holiday indulgences out of the way, I know I’ll be back on the good eating wagon, which for me involves little or no processed food; lots of water; minimizing my sugar, dairy and wheat intake (they don’t play well with my skin or my waist in large quantities), and lots of veggies. I’m relatively sure my holiday bloat will be gone within a week and I’ll be back down to my goal-ish weight by the end of the month. Either way, I’m not overly concerned considering it’s winter, and jeans and scarves do a fine job of masking temporary vanity weight variances.
Keep people in my life who add to it, and not let in people who cause me stress and/or unhappiness. Our move allowed us to start afresh socially. Moving away, we were no longer in regular contact with hangers on, and instead focus our emails and social networking energy on friends back home who we have stronger friendships with. Also, we used to feel a lot of social pressure, because we had a large, eclectic group of friends and acquaintances. We didn’t like turning down get togethers, but also felt overwhelmed; as soon as we got done meeting up with everyone, it was time to re-start the cycle. Because we don’t have so many groups of friends here, get togethers are fewer and further between, leaving us less tired. Also, our local friends have all been met recently, ensuring we currently have things in common with them, which isn’t always the case when meeting up with childhood friends or previous colleagues. I also continued to develop friendships with long-distance pals, and really feel like I have a ‘best friend’ for the first time in years, who I feel comfortable being 100% myself and confiding anything in. Being in the US has also allowed me to be in more regular contact with my siblings, particularly one of my sisters, and I’ve enjoyed getting to hang out with and interact with her a lot more.
Other things I did in 2012:
– Watched too much TV, including shameful guilty pleasures like Real Housewives of Orange County and Beverly Hills.
– Spent (and enjoyed) a lot of quality time with Mr. O during our travels and move.
– Thoroughly enjoyed London before moving away. This included a lot of walking (we walked home from work most Friday nights, and spent most weekends that we were home going on 8-12 mile walks across the city), finally seeing the Tower of London, and attending Wimbledon. In some ways, it would’ve been nice to soak in the Olympics excitement, but it was also nice to see our former home in all its glory while we made our way to California.
– Improved my quality of life and Vitamin D intake by moving to San Diego. More sunshine and less cynicism.
– Hosted my first family Christmas. We did have Mark’s parents down for Christmas once, but this year’s celebration involved an extended dining table and 9 people – I feel like a grown up now.
Goals for 2013 include:
Re-establish routines. In particular, making the gym a more regular (rather than sporadic) habit, drinking more water (I was much more well hydrated when I had a desk job and large refillable water bottle), and reading at least 1 hour per day (again, something I did when I worked in London).
Eat for health (not for vanity or impulse). Over the last couple of years, I’ve become more aware of how my body reacts to certain foods, habits and stressors. Occasional indulgences (and all out binges) are fine, but loading up on junk consistently makes me feel terrible. Also, what sheds vanity weight quickly isn’t always what makes me feel my best. I plan to focus on foods and habits that make me feel good inside and out.
Find a job I enjoy (or make peace with being a housewife). I have mentally struggled with this a lot over the last several months. On one hand, I genuinely enjoy all of the ‘typical’ housewife tasks, like cooking, cleaning, and ironing. I also really love the balance Mark and I currently have in our lives, since all the life admin (including balancing budgets and sorting out insurance) gets done during the day, leaving us time for early morning walk & coffee dates and evening hot tub & hang out sessions. On the other hand, all that life admin used to somehow get done while we both worked full time. I know I have a lot of unused hours in my day, and feel like I ‘ought’ to be doing something with them. A part of me also misses the sense of achievement I had at work, especially since I was typically a high achiever at work. Having a 9-5 might naturally bring back some of the structure I want to re-establish with the gym and reading, too. I’m also somewhat morally conflicted about the idea of taking a job ‘in this economy’ when it could be done by someone who actually needs an income, whereas our expenses are low enough that we can comfortably live as a single-income household (from a job Mark would gladly do for free). I definitely didn’t enjoy my last job in London, but there were a lot of things I loved about previous ones. I would love to find something that leverages my skill set , provides a sense of achievement, isn’t so demanding that I have to give up or am too tired for all the household ‘chores’ I enjoy, and is close enough to home that I can either walk (ideally) or commute in under 20 minutes. Failing finding that unicorn, I’d like to stop feeling ‘guilty’ for hanging out at home while everyone else I know goes to work.
Explore our new ‘home’. We’re working on this with an upcoming weekend in Palm Desert and a potential trip to LA and/or Big Bear, but I’d also like to explore different neighborhoods in San Diego. Currently, we spend most of our time in UTC and La Jolla; it would be great to enjoy other areas, too.
Be assertive about my wants. I’m not shy, and I’m usually happy to share my opinion. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to most that I am incredibly reluctant to express or act upon my needs or wants, whether it’s wanting to go out to eat rather than cooking, needing help with something, or even replacing a tube of mascara because my existing one is runs like crazy an hour after I apply it. In my ideal world, Mark would read my mind and propose going out, helping, or buying new mascara. I’m more than happy to do or buy something for someone else, but feel selfish or guilty buying or doing stuff for myself. Instead, I often fixate on them, sometimes drop hints, and then become frustrated when the solution didn’t magically appear. It’s a terrible habit, and one I need to give up.