New Year, New Challenges

I have been meaning to sit down since the beginning of the month to blog about my goals for 2016.  However, I have been feeling the constraints of time, exhaustion, and just plain uncertainty about the goals I want to set for this year.  Last year felt like it had a completely different “flavour” than this year: I was hugely focussed on fitness, being healthy, expanding my social circle, taking time for myself, and basically becoming better integrated into my new life in my new surroundings.

This year, however, feels much different.  I feel like I am in constant battle with myself over my life decisions and choices.  I have been questioning whether or not I am in the right field of my career; I am struggling with maintaining an adequate work-life balance; I have a new baby on the way and I am both excited yet scared about what this will mean for my family… this list goes on. With all of these thoughts and challenges swirling around in my mind, it is hard for me to focus in on specific goals that would help to “make me a better me.”  Not only that, but I am finding it difficult to set realistic and measurable goals in the midst of all this mental turmoil: After all, a goal of “figure out what I want out of life” is not a helpful, measurable, or realistic goal.

As a result of this year’s “different flavour,” I am going to use a different format for setting out my goals.  Last year I set 11 goals and organized them according to categories like Health, Personal, Family, Misc.  Goals that were successful for me last year included: running a half marathon, meeting new friends, engaging in other fitness activities aside from running, reading 12 books in the year, and making more meaningful time for my husband and kids. Those are all goals that I would like to strive for again, maybe with slight modifications.  This year I will have a completely difference scheme: First, I will have some overall year long goals, and then I will have some goals organized as pre- and post- baby goals.  I hope to revisit goals every month to check on in their progress and to modify them as needed.  At he post-baby mark, I will reassess all the goals to see how I am doing.

Have Realistic Expectations

Goals:

  1. Complete unfinished tasks:
    1. Baby birth record cross-stitches:  I started making E’s birth record cross stitch back when I was still pregnant with him (yes, 4 years ago).
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      Little E’s Birth Record

      For various reasons, it keeps falling onto the back burner and it has always been a source of guilt for me.  A had his done before he was born, and it was twice as big and much more intricate.  While this is no time for excuses, I will say that I was not in medical school when I was pregnant with A, nor did I have a busy toddler running around and competing with my time.  This year’s goal is to complete E’s cross stitch birth record (hopefully before Baby Girl arrives) and also make one for Baby Girl.  Goal Deadline: End of my maternity leave (still TBD but likely before the end of 2016).

    2. Decluttering: I started reading the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
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      Started but never finished

      I love the idea behind it, and I did manage to declutter my closet sometime back in the summer.  It made me feel great and I only wished I had more time to concentrate on decluttering.  I am going to make it my goal to do more decluttering.  The biggest challenge is that you need to set aside a significant amount of time to get this done.  I will have to do it in stages, but with being off call in a few weeks and then a maternity leave, hopefully I will have a little more time to dedicate to decluttering my home. I realize this is somewhat of an “unmeasurable goal,” but I will do my best.  Goal Deadline: Ongoing.

    3. Anxiety Management: Another “project” I started in 2015 and never completed was my Mindfulness and Anxiety Workbook.
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      Another project to finish

      I did find the exercises in this book to be beneficial and I would like to continue working on them.  I have noticed my anxiety levels starting to creep up again and I want to get ahold of them while they are still manageable.  I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book.  Ideally I would like to finish it before baby arrives, but I feel that is quite unrealistic.  Goal Deadline: December 31, 2016.

  2. Self Care and Fitness:
    1. Meditation: I love my meditating app, Headspace.  When I was actually taking time to use it regularly, I found that I did feel more calm and less overwhelmed.  I don’t know if it was meditation alone that did this, but there have been proven benefits to mindfulness and meditation, so I am going to make it a goal this year to meditate regularly.  I only have 6 more call shifts before I am officially off call.
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      I need to finish this series of meditations

      Until then (middle of February), My goal is to meditate every day that I am not on call.  Once I am no longer on call, I will make it my goal to meditate every day.  These are 15 minute sessions, so there is no excuse for me not taking 15 min a day to dedicate to myself.  I believe this will be a challenging goal for me because since the beginning of January, I have used the app twice.  Goal Deadline: Ongoing.

    2. Regular Exercise (Post-Baby): Baby Girl is due to arrive in the middle of May.  It is my goal to get back into a regular walking/running routine within 1 week of delivering baby.  This means that I will start walking regularly (at least 3x/week) either outside or on the treadmill until my body is sufficiently recovered to start jogging and running again. Goal Deadline: Must start once Baby Girl is 1 week old.
    3. Run a 10K race before the winter: Originally, I thought I would want to try and run the 5K or 10K race in the mountains that is associated with the half-marathon that I ran last year at the end of May.  I realized however, that this is likely very unrealistic.  Even if I was sufficiently recovered from pregnancy and child birth to run any meaningful distance, would I really want to drive 4 hours to the mountains with a newborn baby and the other members of my family for this goal?  It seemed like setting that goal would just add more stress to my life.  Instead, there is another Mountain race that I participated in a few years ago that takes place in September.  While I would like to hopefully be prepared to run a 10K sooner than 4 months post-partum, my official 10K running goal will be to run this mountain race in September with a time of 1:00hour or less. Goal Deadline: September 2016.
    4. Nutrition/Post-Partum Weight Loss: With baby #1, I did a horrible job of losing weight post-partum (despite breastfeeding for 14 months). With baby #2 I did an amazing job of losing the weight and was down below my pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months.  This time I am hoping to lose weight like I did with baby #2.  M hope is to do this with a combination of breastfeeding, regular exercise (see above goals), and nutritional awareness.  Last time I joined Weight Watchers.  Perhaps I will do this again.  Goal Deadline: Initiate within 1 week of Baby Girl’s arrival, then ongoing.
    5. TaeKwonDo: This activity was something I really enjoyed doing in 2015.
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      2015 Taekwondo Success

      I have taken a break from it now with the pregnancy and it is my goal to get back into in once Baby Girl is here.  Since starting in January of 2015 until I started my Hiatus in December, I completed 6 belt levels!  It was also a great activity to share with my kids, who are now both doing TKD.  I will be starting up again at the “blue stripe” level when I return.  I don’t yet know if we are going to continue TKD through the summer months or not, but it is my goal to resume TKD and attain 2 more belt levels before the end of the year.  Goal Deadline: Red Stripe Belt by Dec 31, 2016.

  3. Personal Goals:
    1. Quality Family/Kid Time: I am making it a priority to spend more meaningful time with my kids and my husband.  Not only does this mean “finding” more time to spend with them, but it also means being more present in my time with them.  The biggest challenge to this is the existence of my cell phone.  I have already tried (with great difficulty) to not use my cell phone while I am with my kids.  This will be an ongoing challenge.  I also want to make sure I am setting aside time to “do” more activities with them instead of just watching movies with them or “supervising” their play.  Ideas for this goal will be a work in progress and will hopefully get easier once the weather is nicer and once I am more able bodied after this baby vacates my uterus! Goal Deadline: Ongoing.
    2. Find Meaning and Balance in my Work Life.  How’s that for the most vague and uncertain goal of 2016?  I anticipate that this year will involve a lot of soul searching and questioning myself about my career choices and how they affect my family life.  I can say with confidence that I am not happy right now.  I need to get off of this treadmill of putting up with the unhappiness and find solutions.  If a solution is changing career paths, then I need to come to terms with that decision and just make it.  If the solution is making changes in my current career situation, then I need to put aside the roadblocks I have set for myself (like length of my maternity leave, for example) and allow myself to be satisfied with that decision.  I don’t really know how to measure this goal, but I do know that something in this realm needs to change.  Goal Deadline: Ongoing
    3. Blogging: I love blogging and I find it to be extremely enjoyable and therapeutic.  I have really let blogging fall to the wayside and I need to stop doing that.  This year I will make it a goal to blog at least twice a week. Goal Deadline: Blog (at least) twice a week, all year.

If you made it to the end of this blog post, thanks for being so attentive to my long winded goals!  Wish me luck in my endeavor to accomplish these goals.

Cynicism is The Opposite of Vulnerability

“I always think that cynics are really romantics who have been crushed sometime in their lives and have put up this cynical mask to protect themselves.”
~Jeff Bridges

Again I’ve decided to post last year’s post in it’s unedited form.  There is nothing more accurate and true that this post about vulnerability, in my opinion.

From The Old Blog, November 15, 2014:

This quotation makes me think of one thing: Vulnerability.
Actually, more appropriately, it makes me think of a lack of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, I believe that this quotation is more accurate than most of us want to believe.  Why, after all, are we cynical in the first place?  For me, cynicism is my coping mechanism: Why be serious and face reality when I can be cynical and detach?  Cynicism is also useful for connecting with other like-minded people.  In fact, I am pretty sure Husband and I bond quite a bit over our cynical nature (who doesn’t love a little late night snuggling while watching The Colbert Report???).

If we are all hiding behind cynicism, what are we not revealing to everyone else?  Are we afraid of reality? Are we afraid of being hurt?  Or have we all been hurt  just enough times to make us not want it to happen again.  I don’t really know the answers to these questions.  Regardless, it all comes back to a fear of being vulnerable.

As much as I love being cynical most of the time, I strongly believe that if everyone (not just me) was 1/2 as cynical and 2x as vulnerable, we would connect with each other in a much more authentic and meaningful way.  Cynicism is easy, it is funny, it is relatable, and it is common.  Vulnerability is the exact opposite:  it is hard, scary, uncomfortable, and very individual.  We are all vulnerable for different reasons, yet we all have one thing in common: Vulnerability itself.

As Brené Brown would say, “lean into the discomfort.”  We shouldn’t be so reliant on cynicism.  On the surface it might feel like we are connecting in a comical way, but every time we are cynical, we run the risk of isolating the people we are with.  There is no easy solution to this.  I wish I could say that I would stop being so cynical all the time.  However, I don’t think I am quite ready for it all at once.
Maybe it needs to start with one person – then hopefully it will spread.

Preparing for NaBloPoMo

It is coming up to that important time in the blogging year: National Blog Posting Month.  Although this blog is relatively new and has not existed during previous NaBloPoMo months, I have been blogging long enough to have successfully completed three of them.  Last year was the greatest challenge, as I was busier than I had ben in previous years.  This year, I fear, will be even worse.  I have been thinking about ways to help make this year’s NaBloPoMo as successful as possible.  With the hours that I am working right now and my high levels of exhaustion (therefore going to bed when my kids go to bed), I have had relatively little time to blog.  Last year I had a theme to the month and while that helped give me inspiration to blog every day, it took a different turn that I was expecting… but that’s what life is about, isn’t it?

For this year’s blogging month, I wondered if it would count as blogging if I posted posts from my old blog… some of my most liked or “signature” posts, if you will.  But i that cheating, seeing as how I’m not actually writing new posts for each day?

I also thought of having a question/answer period theme – as in, you all ask me a question or give me a topic/theme, and I can use those as the inspiration for blogging.  I could include a submission box at the end of each post and hope that I get enough submission to write about! The only challenge with that one is that it doesn’t completely alleviate the “time issues” that I will have this month!

One other thought I had was to go back and re-visit everything that happened last November.  It was a difficult month.  The theme of NaBloPoMo last year folowed a gift I had assembled for a friend and it included a quotation a day.  I blogged about the meaning of that quotation to me and why I picked it to include in the month of gifts. However, half-way through the month, that friend began pulling away and she stopped talking to me.  I’m not sure if she even ever read all the cards or opened the whole gift.  In the first week of December, that friend ended our friendship and we haven’t spoken since.  Going through all of those posts would be difficult, but perhaps it would allow me to change my perspective on some things regarding that relationship – maybe it would provide closure.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it would just cause an unnecessary re-experience of a difficult time in my life.  Part of me feels, however, that I need to redefine aspects of my life outside of my relationships with people… especially this one ex-friend.  Perhaps this is a way to begin that process.

Or, maybe I’m just grasping at ways of making this year’s NaBloPoMo a little easier to accomplish in light of the time constraints I will have.  Any suggestions are appreciated!

What type of authentic writing would you like to see during NaBloPoMo?

I Heard You Blog

It seems like people talk about it more, now that it’s gone. Not the ones I wished would have talked about it – people outside of work – the people who would have loved reading it for what it really was. 

“I heard that you blog.”

“Yes, I do – I did – I guess I still do.  It’s just not the same.”

I’ve still been mourning the loss of my old blog. I’m finding it difficult to get back into a place of comfort and belonging in this new space. I don’t really know why, since it’s the same platform and there are some of the same readers, and some great new readers, and nothing else has really changed.  Except that I feel sensored. I feel like I failed at the one thing I wanted to do: express myself like it didn’t really matter. But then it did, and I quit. 

“I haven’t heard anyone talking about you in a bad way. In fact, the only thing I’ve ever heard anyone say about you is that you’re a good surgeon, and at this point in your training, that’s a really good thing to have people saying about you.”

I didn’t blog last week because I was feeling down about life. I was experiencing a relapse of everything that I’ve experienced before and it was heightened by a new level of exhaustion and frustration. I thought, momentarily, to blog about it. However, all the background is gone : three years history of anxiety struggles, medical struggles, parenting struggles – everything that was previously so well documented isn’t there anymore. So where do I start?  It feels hopeless. 

I know it’s not hopeless, but it doesn’t change the feeling all that much. I just have to remember that I do have some great blogging friends – new and old – who are here to read whatever I have to say. I just have to get back to saying it. 

Thanks to a blogging friend who was once looking for this Duplo Set. I found it for you!