About a week before the holidays creeped up on us, I was laying around after putting Sose down for the night, and I found myself hate-watching Fight Club.
Let me back up a little bit. As a teen, there was little else cooler and more evocative of a certain type of nihilistic late-90s romance, than watching the scene in Fight Club where the financial towers implode, with Tyler Durden and his fucked up face, and Marla Singer, the OG Manic Pixie Dream Girl, holding hands and overlooking his masterpiece while the opening strains of ‘Where is My Mind’ swell in the background. I mean… Listen. I read Ad Busters, ok? I fully drank the gen-ex/millenial-cusp disaffected libertarian/anrarchist kool-aid, and I had the ironic 70s t-shirt collection to show for it!
As my feminism grew, so did my disdain for the inherent sexism in this particular movement and movie (Like… call me crazy, but with all his babbling about how “we’re a generation of men raised by women”, don’t you think Tyler Durden was the proto-fuckboi/MRA doucher?). And so soon, quippy Fight Club sound bites, like “self-improvement is masturbation”, and “you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake” became a hilarious joke to me.
Myself, I have long sort of straddled the fence between “that mean sarcastic girl in your math class” and “plucky hopeful daydreamer seeing beauty and promise in unexpected places”. I really fight my inner hater. A lot. And I fight and quell a propensity for wanting to believe in impossible things. It’s a bonafide inner dichotomy that I really struggle with! I think most often though, that the inner hater wins out. I hate a lot. I hate all day. I call it “critical discourse”, but really it’s just me hating and trying to be right about things.
I’ve written before, recently, about how these past few years of motherhood have truly wrung me out. I haven’t felt like myself in a long time. I find myself envious of other mothers who can manage to maintain their sense of identity WHILE hitting parenting home runs, because for me it’s been an either or type of deal! I have been feeling really old, and like the types of interests that I had before were somehow inappropriate for an old-ass mother. Woof. I was a weepy mess of a person going through some kind of identity crisis of some variety.
But you know what, inner monologue? You know what, patriarchy??? I’m not old. 33 is not old, no matter what anyone says. We live in the future, we generally live a long time, and 33 is not fucking old. It’s just not !! I can wear ostentatious lipstick colours (in fact I practically HAVE to), I can (AND DO) swear like a box car hobo, I can keep my septum jewelry in, I can tie one on and have a few too many, I can f*ck my husband, I can feel like a sexy person… It doesn’t have to be one or the other. I can’t believe that ME of all people was internalizing all of that madonna/whore BULLSHIT and letting it ruin my life.
I am getting to a point, I promise!
Tyler Durden had it all wrong. Self improvement ISN’T masturbation. And in real life (as opposed to a stylized dystopiate bizarro world), only a nihilistic hater jerk would say something like that. Having come to this conclusion, I have decided that my existence is too infinitesimal and brief to live in the shackles of a hater’s brain (a nasty type of bondage for people who actually kind of hate themselves, as only a true hater, such as myself could tell you, in confidence), too infinitesimal and brief to do anything but strive for the existence I want from myself, be anything other than exactly who I aim to be.
And to arrive at that destination. I am going to need some changes. And that’s where the New Years Rezzies fit in.
#1 Live more, hate less
This one’s a no-brainer. I spend so much time being critical under the guise that being critical is a positive, crucial component of progress. That’s not false, but it would be disingenuous for me to say that it wasn’t mostly about the fact that hating is like a temporary bandage for my shitty self-esteem. I feel briefly alleviated to buy into the illusion that I’m better (better dressed, possessing better taste in stuff, more “right”, a better mother, whatever) than another person, but it’s a diseased way of thinking and it doesn’t propel me forward at all, like cultivating a PMA does. And really it just kinda makes me a jerk, tbh.
My biggest dose of haterade comes from reading my Facebook feed as soon as I get up in the morning. On one hand, I really enjoy the ritual of drinking coffee and reading stuff while Soren eats his breakfast, but on the other, I am not filtering what I read, and there’s a certain type of content that fuels criticism and encourages me to get into pointless, draining debates with other people I don’t know over things that don’t matter. What a stupid waste of time and energy!
I have been experimenting with just closing my FB tab and keeping the app closed on my phone until I’m finished doing other things (writing, walking, playing with Soren or reading more salient stuff elsewhere online), and it’s actually kind of crazy how much that improves my frame of mind. I also would like to look into figuring out what the best way to filter my feed would be to avoid a lot of my common mistakes.
We are privileged enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As much as I hate on the grotesquely inflated cost of living, the unmitigated development, and our city and provinces’ current crooked, money-hungry government, all you really have to do is look to the north to remember why you live here. Vancouver is a jewel of a city, nestled in a crest of mountains (the snowy peaks of which, at this time of year, glow pink in the evening sun) and set beside a gleaming, idyllic ocean straight. It doesn’t get much better than this. There is no reason to be inside when you live here. This is a concept I need to hammer into my brain until it stays put.
My goal has been to sssllooowwly shift Sose’s schedule so that both he and I are up earlier, so I can have coffee + social media (minus Facebook) + breakfast out of the way faster, and we can leave earlier, so we can have our long, meandering walk and we can both get out in the world so we can get home and he can nap at a sane time and I can work! Which is a nice segue to goal #2…
#2 Walk every day, go to the gym 3x a week, track progress with fitbit
I almost can’t believe it myself because it’s so embarrassing, but towards the end of last year, I got into a horrible holding pattern where I wouldn’t leave the house until the sun had already set. It had an extremely demotivating impact on me, and in turn changed the type of parent I was, to a blobby couch hangout parent that I wasn’t particularly happy with.
It’s straight up UNCANNY! How taking a really long walk every day can change everything for you. Vitamin D, endorphins, fresh air, a change of scenery… I find that when I return from a long walk in a nice place, I am inspired, refreshed, and practically bursting at the seams with positivity. The added bonus of increasing my physical fitness and enjoying the benefits of cardio exercise doesn’t hurt either. I have long thought I should run, but walking allows me the freedom to stop, photograph, take notes, take a playground break with Sose, and notice the world around me. It lets me have truly rewarding conversations with my husband. It’s just an all around great idea for anyone able.
I’ve been using my long-neglected fitbit to track my walks, and I’ve found it’s not hard to take a ~5 mile walk every day with the stroller, and Soren will happily pass out and snooze for the duration. I am trying to shift his schedule so that we can start our walk earlier, and he can fall asleep closer to the end of the walk, so I can transfer him to bed. That worked a little too well today, and he took a marathon 3 hour snooze (which means a super late bed time, argh!). 5 miles usually amounts to 60ish minutes of true exercise, which is a perfectly lovely amount of cardio!
As for the gym, I had made it my goal to go 3x starting this week, but I’ve postponed that goal for now. This leads me to this important point; that I am learning about this goal process as I go, and trying not to be too inflexible. I believe in the past that making too many goals at once and holding myself to too high a standard set me up for failure. Not because I was being lazy, but because I wasn’t being realistic. I am aiming to be adaptive and flexible this time, so that I can ease into things and really make them a part of my routine. Because of some dietary changes I made this week that were a bit of a shock to my system, I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish, and a strength circuit at the gym on top of my daily walk was a bit much at this juncture. And it might be that when I introduce the gym, I have to cut back on my walking so that I am not taxing myself to death for no good reason. I’m not over here trying to be one of those #gains people (although who knows what the future brings!!), so going easy on myself isn’t much of a pratfall, in my opinion.
#3 Make keto/paleo a permanent change
Ah yes!! This is why I have been feeling sluggish this week. I have a nasty case of the keto flu!
Bordering on 2 years ago now, I (and then, by extension Andrew and Sose) started eating a primarily paleo diet. I also did periodic stints of keto to sort of turbo charge things for me. Our longest haul was a period of about 6 months, and all 3 of us were doing AMAZINGLY. I noticed a drastic reduction in tummy issuez, acne, achey joints, and I felt overall elated and awesome (especially while I was on Keto, after the 2 week adaption process). I don’t really give a FUCK whether I sound like a pseudo-scientific, new-age jerk prostelyzing about this stuff. For us, it works, for whatever reason.
The difference this year is that I want to be more strict and “cheat” less. Any dalliances with the SAD (standard american diet) in the past couple of years have only lead to misery and stomach/heartache!! And are best avoided altogether. It was a bit of a struggle to continue the lifestyle once we introduced a stricter food budget, but now that we have a costco membership and I’ve loosened up on my hardline organic-or-GTFO attitude, we’re laughing.
#4 Make blogging a part of my life again/launch the special project I’ve been planning
I have been really shitty at it lately, but believe it or not, I have been blogging in some form or another since the mid 90s (pre even livejournal! I was on diaryland! And scribble.nu! And before that, I was making weblogs on personal websites before weblog software or blogging platforms existed!!).
Looking back on my old secret journals, I was a pretty unhappy, and in fact fairly well miserable, girl. But I really got a lot out of the community and expository nature of sharing in this way, I’ve made some true blue, lifelong friends, and every time I’ve gone on an extended hiatus, I’ve felt like something was missing. I may not have much of an audience these days, but I can assure you that I really enjoy nearly every aspect of sharing my life with other people and interacting with and learning from others doing the same thing.
I am hoping that with a weekly posting schedule, I can build a following again, and try to figure out a way to gain some kind of supplemental income this way! I also have been planning and starting to build a home business since September, and I aim to launch it this year, and somehow combine it with my blog! I would like to also take on some freelance projects and write about them a little bit, hehe.
#5 Use my planner every day
I tried to get this off the ground this past July, but excuses (aka “life”) got in the way, and it fell by the wayside after one single, solitary week! A guilty pleasure of mine is following planner groups on FB, and seeing what those moms are up to. But truth be told, no chevron stickers and zany fonts for me — I am most comfortable with a bare bones Moleskine. I really like this hack for a Moleskine weekly planner.
Using a planner helps me being accountable, and the act of writing things down helps keep them from falling through the holes in my pasta-strainer brain. It’s basically a must for any ADHD-er.
I have been starting each week by filling out my schedule, to-do list and goals, but I also like to adjust and re-adjust my lists as I go, crossing off and adding stuff as needed. A common theme with all of these resolutions is that flexibility is important.
#6 Let the results of these efforts determine our path
Even one week in to this process, and I’m already noticing how one change causes a domino effect and impacts other areas. I am happy with this list of goals, because I think they’re interconnected and they help inform each other. Likewise I feel as though the results of these efforts (and the efforts my husband makes, and the changing needs of our family), will help determine our future path.
We have sort of found ourselves stalled at a crossroads for the past couple of years, trying to determine whether we want to stay in Vancouver. Rising cost of living, deep, DEEEEEP talent pool and other factors are making our ability to stay here and thrive tenuous, but I strongly feel that the next year, and what we are able to accomplish, will help us figure out where we need to be.
#7 Get out and enjoy the world with Sose
Pretty much self-explanitory! And helped along SIGNIFICANTLY by making sure we get a long walk during daylight. It’s depressing how quickly I feel into that pattern of keeping inside with him, but these little guy years are SO precious and so important, and over so quickly. I have more or less decided to stay at home with him as much as possible until he’s school-aged, so I really want to make an effort to be present with him, as cheesy as that sounds, and to show him all the stuff, and to try to see as much of the world through his eyes as I can.
#8 Put thought into how I feed my family
Of course this ties in with #3, but it also pertains to planning ahead and making conscious grocery lists, which is something that I REALLY have a hard time with, despite the fact that I’ve managed to cook about 99.9999% of all meals at home for the past two years! Sunday meal prep is something I’ve briefly experimented with, and it really cuts down on the time I spend in the kitchen (which, with our shitty little galley kitchen, is kind of a nightmare) and makes sure that we have healthy ingredients through the week and don’t make poor, impetuous, hungry choices when we’re starving and desperate.
When we were eating paleo, Sose was eating paleo. He didn’t have any grains at all for his first 4 months of being an eating guy, and while I kind of believe in not being so hardline about diet for him, I think the introduction of squeeze pouches and grains (in the form of sushi rice) at 10 months were a bit of a slippery slope. I was actually able to somehow wean this dyed-in-the-wool squeezer addict from his pouch habit this week, and while he’s been having A LOT of homemade smoothies, he’s also been more adventurous with the other foods he eats. Also, I’ve managed to get him to eat a lot of smoked salmon by calling it “sushi”, and he actually ate two pieces of delicious roasted broccoli last night. I’m going to go ahead and call those victories.
#9 Spend more time alone
I am no helicopter parent, by any stretch of the imagination. Sose gets lots of independent play, and I’m the kind of mom that believes in benign neglect and looks at her phone while her kid runs amok on the playground. But! we do work on securing a strong attachment around here (ie. we do a family bed, and I’m still breastfeeding my two year old!), and in the past two years, I have taken on more than the lion’s share of parenting, and I’ve had very few breaks or time to myself at all. The stark reality is that I could have worked towards more independence a year ago, but I’m a bit of a control freak, and stuck in my ways, and so I didn’t and here we are. So between going to the gym, and writing in coffee shops, and maybe finally looking at part time childcare if it’s in the cards, I am going to get a bit more of me back this year, by hook or by crook!
#10 Give way, way, way, WAY less of a fuck
And this is the one that brings it on home. I spend too much time hating and being critical, and way too much time caring about how other people perceive me. While I still believe I’m practically a teenager (HEE HEE JK), I am also way too old to let my idea of what other people think (who quite frankly do not even care!!!! Which is the crazy part!!) determine how much fun I have, how I present myself, and what I accomplish. I really enjoyed this article about winning at your own life, by Paul Jervis, which was very timely for me.
So! What about you guys? Do you have any goals for this year, or are you just going to throw yourself into the chaotic fray and see where it takes you? I would love to hear alllllllll about it!