In third grade it was clear I was a procrastinator. Not only did I get my first C because I put off learning math, but I stayed up later than my parents NOT doing my homework. I was working on a research project on President Nixon one night that year when my dad tried to rescue me. I can still picture him standing over my white desk (that also flipped up into a high chair) trying to explain Watergate to me. I looked up at him, nodding, my mind fixated on the opposite of wiretaps. Eventually, I created a collage of Nixon’s presidency using rubber cement. It LOOKED great, but I doubt I was clear that Watergate was the name of the hotel.
Patching problems became my second nature, and so began my long-practiced craft of applying band-aids to temporarily fix situations. Once the pain stopped, I rarely took the time to heal the faulty process that led to the wounds. It’s much easier to buy more band-aids. This carried into the smallest behaviors of my life:
I bought new underwear instead of going to the laundromat.
When I couldn’t decide what groceries to buy for dinner, I got take out or had many sad “whatever is in the fridge meals.” The worst of which was green beans with onions. Raw onions.
I put off dealing with the reality of a relationship for years too tedious to count.
I moved the same unpacked boxes from apartment to apartment to house.
(Try not to trip over that baggage metaphor.)
I just kept purchasing those beige, adhesive warriors in bulk at 24-hour pharmacies.
I’m not too hard on myself now because I know this is not unusual: patching the surface to get by is more the norm than the exception. (Lie #1 I told myself.)
Something about moving to Florida and getting distance from the usual comforts forced me to take more action on the root of things instead of patching the side effects. Someone very close to me participates in a 12-step program, and while I don’t need the program for addictions, the tenets have proved helpful in my own search to live life more deliberately and less reactionary.
Lie #2: I don’t have my shit together enough to cook real meals every night.
This turned out to be a true lie. At my most organized, I cooked maybe three times a week. That merited celebration; mostly, I considered myself a food-preparer. Or a taker-outer. Or a throw-a-party-to-inspire-cooking-er.
I wanted to cook at home because I knew it was healthier, less expensive, and more satisfying than the-dinner-less-planned.
Inspired by my sister who preps and shops for her family of five on the weekends, I vowed to do the same. We are two people with a cat: it’s a little embarrassing if we can’t figure this out.
In order to be a person who cooks every night, I had to learn to be a person who plans to cook every night. This meant sitting down every weekend and churning those collected recipes on Pinterest into a menu, and transforming that menu into a grocery list. Going to the grocery store only once a week meant we couldn’t talk ourselves out of cooking because everything we needed was right there in our refrigerator.
Also, once a week? At our old apartment, people at our local Publix started to know us because either Aaron or I was there every.single.day. Meal planning equaled phone calls after work to each other asking who was going to deal with that mess?
Now we cook 5-6 nights a week, save money, and wear smaller pants.
Issues of frugality and health aside, cooking is creating. By doing it regularly, I experiment with ingredients I’ve never used, and methods that once intimidated me. I’m on month seven of being a cooker, and I love the process as much as the end result. But there are times I hate it and it feels like work, just like writing. I used to wait until I was inspired to cook; now I do it as habit.
Since no one is asking me to write, I have to boss myself around.
Note to self: I am stubborn and refuse to listen.
Truth of 2013: Inspiration is temporary; write at least a paragraph every day.
Lie #3: I want to run a half marathon.
My college roommate and her fiance traveled down here to run a half marathon this past weekend so I thought maybe it was a sign that I was ready go from 6.2 miles to 13.1. One of my colleagues and neighbors is a long-distance runner and was even willing to help me train. But it was still an “I want to want to run 13 miles” situation. I threw myself into the process for weeks at times, then I took breaks and had to restart again. My last push came during my winter break from school and the week afterwards. I ran in Virginia in 20-degree temps, undaunted. I returned to run in Florida at 80 degrees in full sun with humidity, and motivation started to wane. Then I got sick for 7+ days and it was over. There just wasn’t time to want the things I didn’t really want to begin with.
Wanting what other people want never works. Actually, working towards something you think you want never works either. I wanted to run two 10K’s, and I ran them, the second one faster than the first. Eventually, I might want to run a half marathon. That time is not now; it’s fine.
My 30’s have been a decade of learning the difference between what I want and what I think I should want. The difference between what fulfills me and what fulfills other people. Running for longer than an hour at a time does not complete me.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Truth of 2013: Run at least once a week, even when I don’t want to.
Lie #4: Self-discipline is a breakthrough, not a long-term battle.
This lie screamed the loudest. My procrastination habits had always crippled me without deadlines. Too often I allow distractions to shift my focus; it’s a lifelong battle to manage them. In 2012, I imitated a home DIY-er, an amateur sous chef, a real runner, a regular reader and writer, and a motivated teacher who grades essays in a timely fashion.
Home projects accomplished in 2013: Zero.
Miles run in 2013: 20 in one week then a steady zero.
Meals cooked in 2013: 35 (The system works!)
Books read in 2013: Zero.
Blogs/articles/podcasts/animal videos that distracted me from reading books in 2013: ALL OF THEM.
Oscar-nominated films seen in 2013: Three.
Papers graded in 2013: 3.14156 per hour over the square root of it never ends.
Finished pieces of writing: Zero. Not even this blog post started in 2012.
Pieces of writing worth your time: Zero (see # of books read in 2013).
Muses are fickle so I have find a way to freedom through self-flagellation. And so ends my mid-February New Year’s Resolutions post: cheers to the liars!