2011: Quit It.

Yep. ‘Tis that time of year.

When folks like myself – glad to be rid of the year that’s just ended – look towards the 12 months that lie ahead.

We hold our heads a little higher. We stand a little taller. We have a bit of a spring in our step, and we even allow ourselves to be a little bit happy, because of the idea that a new year holds all this promise and possibility.

Of course, the novelty will wear off in a matter of days.

But as for right now?

I can’t speak for anyone else. But for me, 2011 is like this huge pile of Play-Doh in my lap. It’s brand-new. It’s a little cool to the touch, but pristine. It’s just sitting there, ready to be shaped.

And just thinking of getting my hands on it, in it, around it, makes me simultaneously giddy and overwhelmed.

I mean, honestly – where do I even start?

Well, I think I have a slight idea.

I remember this article I read in Maclean’s a couple months ago.

It was actually a story in the business section, about how workers will start looking for new employment as economic confidence rises. But the sentence that stuck with me was that 2011 was “shaping up to be the year of the Big Quit.”

So what’s that got to do with the new year?

Well … how about this.

People use the new year as a jumping-off point – or maybe an excuse –  to quit things.

Like smoking … overeating … drinking … swearing … whatever.

And then, I turned to my first post from last year, to see what kind of expectations I’d set up for myself.

It was lame. I just sounded kind of lost. And vague. And completely wishy-washy.

I said maybe I should go with the flow. So I tried to do just that. But all I seemed to do was just float.

I haven’t fallen behind. But I’m not entirely sure I’m that farther ahead, either.

So now what?

Maybe I should just … quit.

Quit kidding myself.

Quit telling myself what I want to hear, in hopes I’ll eventually get what it is I’m looking for.

Quit procrastinating. Quit thinking about coming up with a plan – and start doing just that. Come up with plans of action for myself. Start executing things.

Start getting things done.

Some of the things I’d like to see happen for myself this year, is to:

Quit the three-hour commute. Yeah, yeah, I know. How long have I been saying this for now? Well, here are the cold, hard facts: I stayed at home another year to save more money and then buy a place. I certainly succeeded with the “save more money” part. It was the latter part of my goal which didn’t happen. And it’s probably not going to. Which leaves me with only one other alternative. So this year, I’m going to stop being stubborn and proud, suck it up and get on with it.

Quit filling my life with clutter. This goes hand-in-hand somewhat with the previous point on my wishlist. I’ve actually already started on this, in a way. If I pick away at it weekly, perhaps when I finally leave the nest, the squawking from my parents to take ALL my things with me will be minimal – maybe even non-existent. We’ll see how much I accomplish.

Quit taking my health for granted. Since the 2009 holiday season – hell, who am I kidding? Probably since the summer of 2009 – I feel like I’ve just been eating anything and everything, without using an iota of moderation – eating when I’m bored, or following a stressful moment at work or wherever. And the only form of exercise I get is during my weekly visit to the physiotherapy clinic. And even then, I really don’t want to be there. Plus, my sleeping patterns – especially on work nights – are horrific.

Quit this city – and this country – once in a while. No, I don’t mean move to another country or anything like that. When I decided to save more money to buy real estate, it meant saying sayonara to travelling for a while. And I literally haven’t been ANYWHERE outside the GTA for non-work purposes probably since August 2009. This year, I’d like to make up for lost time. I don’t know how much I can travel – because I still have to watch my finances – but I have to rectify this.

Quit being complacent at work. If someone had drawn a cartoon version of me, I’m sure their interpretation would have included a dark cloud that perpetually hovered over my head during the last 14 months. That has to end. Either I suck it up and find something I like about my job … or I pull up my socks and find a new one, on my own terms.

Quit having NO interests. If you were to ask me what my hobbies and interests were, they’d literally be something along the lines of: reading, eating, partying. No, really. I think part of it has to do with the fact that the amount of time I spend commuting, I could be using to learn a sport, a skill, or language … or even volunteer. Plus, I’m really lethargic on my personal time, because I live at least 20 minutes away from anything of interest to me. If or when the first item on my wishlist is rectified, perhaps I can remedy this.

Quit occasionally blogging. I was particularly bad this year when it came to writing. I guess I wasn’t motivated … and probably a bit down and didn’t think I had anything worth writing about. I need to snap out of it, and make more of an effort.

So, there’s my list. And it’s a tall order.

But this year, I have to quit moping and start living. Because no one else is going to do it for me.

Time to start gettin’ ‘er done.

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2009: Whatever.

On the last Sunday in November, my younger brother dropped by for his bi-weekly visit to see my folks. As he does from time to time, he usually brings my mother an exotic new houseplant to add to her collection of leafy friends.

On this day, he brought her a pink amaryllis.

When it first came into the household, it wasn’t pink – it was small (under  a foot high) and green, with no flowers.

None of us had seen one before, nor did we know anything about it.

So imagine our surprise when, in the span of about five days, the thing  shot up some 20 inches. That little plant – which had become a lanky, almost mutant-like creature – astounded me. My mom and I constantly watched it as we realized what was happening.

It bloomed four beautiful flowers, which lasted about a week. When it began to wilt and lean, my mom then did what was prescribed, cutting the plant right down to a nubbly few inches to keep it from dying (as a result of the explosive energy it put forth to grow and bloom for that short period of time).

It will probably remain in this state until this time next year, when it begins its awesome show all over again.

So what’s any of that got to do with today?

Well … as I start this year and reflect on yet another year gone, I kind of feel like that amaryllis, before the growth spurt. I feel this energy inside, this burning in my gut, and I know I could take off like a rocket at any moment, growing and blooming crazily.

And I want to. But I haven’t. And I know I have a lot to do with it.

I took a look at that magical list I created for myself at this time last year. And I knew right away that, instead of raising the bar, I dropped it on my foot. Repeatedly. 

With the exception of trying  (late in the year) to keep neat, and going travelling, I pretty did the EXACT OPPOSITE of EVERYTHING ELSE on that list.

I think part of the problem’s that I put too many expectations on myself. Because I was pleasantly surprised with what I’d accomplished in 2007 – seemingly without any effort – I thought I could replicate, even capitalize on that. And it didn’t really materialize.

Another part of the problem was that I don’t think I tried – or pushed – as hard as I could have, because I guess I felt as if I didn’t really have to try the previous year. 

I could go on. But instead of dwelling on the previous 365 days, perhaps I should adopt this new mantra to tackle the next 364:

“Whatever.”

I’m not giving up. I’m just going to attempt NOT to expect so many things. Because when I set high expectations, I pressure myself to produce. And when I do that, I create my own stress. And that just leads to unhappiness.  

So I’m thinking, while I have a list of things I’d like to do, I should just try and let things happen the way they were meant to. And should there be an opportunity to accomplish something, I should then take the chance and seize it. (Yes, I know, duh.)

So … to practice my new philosophy:

I want to travel somewhere other than Europe this year. Morocco’s on my mind. Will it happen? Maybe. What if it doesn’t? Well, maybe I should travel somewhere else instead. Whatever.

I want a new job and a place to live. Times are supposed to be tough. If I can actually make these things happen, great. But if they don’t happen? It’s not the end of the world. I still have a place to live, where the  door’s always open. And I’ll have to learn to make do with the job I have – considering it’s probably better than having no job at all.  Whatever.

I want to actually get to places on time. My track record has been horrific. And frankly it’s a bit disrespectful to everyone I keep appointments with. Plus I’m constantly a rush to do things on limited time. I’ll do my best. But if it it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Whatever.

I should modify my lifestyle to a healthier one. It’s not necessarily about looking good – although that helps. I have a bad back.  And the more weight I gain, the harder it is on the places that hurt. Plus, I need to re-introduce myself to the concept of moderation, since I pretty much chucked out the window sometime in early January. It’s a nice notion to entertain, so I’ll see what happens. Whatever.

So I’m leaving it there. Anything that happens outside of that – cool experiences, personal accomplishments, relationships formed and forged – I’ll do my best to leave up to the universe.

Because, much like that amaryllis, when you don’t expect anything is when something beautiful happens – when it catches you off-guard and just astounds you.

That is probably one of the feelings I love more than anything. Being blown away, to me, is right up there with having moments of pure happiness. And I’m more than ready to be astounded, with arms wide open.

So, 2009: go ahead. Astound me.

And happy new year to all of you. May it bring the good things you don’t expect.