I haven’t ever been big on making New Year’s Resolutions for two reasons. The first is that the word “resolution” itself troubles me. It seems to have a whiff of negativity to it, like you’ve been very bad and now must reform yourself. I’m all for self-improvement, but (and this brings me to my second issue) I think it’s important to act upon these inspirations as they occur to me, on whatever arbitrary day that may be. I have started some of the most important things in my life on completely random days (this blog, my photo project, learning Turkish), and I am *so glad* I struck while the iron was hot instead of waiting. So January 1 has never been especially inspiring to me as a day, but, on the other hand, because all dates seem arbitrary to me, that means any day can be a special day, a new day. That is an excitement I embrace when I get out of bed every morning. All of that said, I am all for making goals and plans, and there are some ways in which the new year marks some changes for me. As of December 16, I am done with my dissertation, so now I have a bit more free time, and these are some of the things I’ve thinking of devoting that time to.
1. Reading my cookbooks. We have a pretty awesome collection of cookbooks, most of which were wedding presents from wonderful friends and family, and I use them *all* the time. But I have been thinking that it would be really nice to sit down and spend an afternoon with them, reading all the way through, marking things that look interesting and enjoying being under their magic kitchen spell. A few Christmases ago, my mom gave me Molly Wizenburg‘s A Homemade Life, and I tore through it before New Year’s, savoring every sweet story and recipe, wiping the tears from my eyes, and being incredibly inspired by her honesty and bravery in sharing her life. I can’t wait to do the same with Melissa Clark‘s majestic In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite, and I’d gladly spend all my Tuesdays, and every other day as well, for that matter, with Dorie Greenspan. My sweet husband just gave me The Girl and the Fig cookbook for Christmas, and, even though I use it all the time, I have yet to read all the way through The Cheese Board Collective Cookbook. Oh friends, there are some mouth-watering afternoons ahead of me.
2. Reading my sewing books, sewing from my vintage patterns, and cooking up some projects of my own! Eric’s mom gave me the most amazing comprehensive guides to sewing for Christmas last year, some of which she used herself when she was learning to sew (and she’s a master, y’all), and I *love* them. I look things up in them all the time, but I would love to just slowly work my way through them all, and I think that would be a sewing masters course unto itself. It’s been so long since I since I took a sewing class (um, I think I was 9), and a lot of what I’ve done since then has been self-taught. It would be awesome to brush up on the basics and learn some new skills as well. I also have an incredible collection of vintage patterns that I bought for 25 cents each at the Depot for Creative Reuse. I made a cute dress out of one of them, but this kind of sustained project is exactly the kind of thing I didn’t have the focus for while working on the dissertation, and exactly the kind of thing I am really longing to do now! I also have a million and one ideas tucked away for other sewing projects. To the sewing machine!
3. Keep better track of my reading. My husband, who is wonderful in more ways than I can count, has always impressed me with his system for keeping track of his reading. As soon as he finishes a book, he makes a record of it and writes a little blurb about it, maybe the most salient points for him, maybe the things that annoyed him about it, maybe the things it made him think about and consider. It’s all safely tucked away on his computer, and that is pretty amazing. I have been keeping a list of books I’ve read for the past few years (inspired by him), but I have let it slide this past year, and I’d like to get back to it. If nothing else, I believe that the experiences we have, including the books we read, make us who we are, and having a record of that is a powerful thing. I’ve gotten back to this practice already this month, but I am excited to keep working on it next year, especially since I anticipate having a bit more time to read.
4. Exercising. I say this not because I am trying to lose weight, but because exercising is good for you and it makes you feel good. It’s been especially important for me this past semester, since I’ve been working at home, to get out and do something with my body. I always feel so refreshed and glad I did. This year I have been really inspired by some awesome ladies who run and blog about it, and I love letting my feet hit the pavement (er, track, I suppose) too. My sweet husband takes me along to the gym as his guest, and he even runs slow with me so he can talk to me. That’s love. When the new quarter starts at Caltech, I’ll be getting my own gym membership, so I can go swim in their heated pool, pump iron, or pound the track whenever I like. I am excited! So, those are the four big things I am looking forward to in the new year. How about you? I’d love to hear your goals and plans too! Happy New Year!