new year’s resolutions

Exit 140. My last hour of winter break.

I’m down to my last hour of winter break.  I go back to work tomorrow after a couple of weeks off.  I don’t want to say I’m not looking forward to it… that’s not it.  There is something I’m not looking forward to about it, but I think it’s just that I’m not looking forward to having to get up early and do stuff, as opposed to sitting around in my pajamas all day watching The Price Is Right.

I had a lot of ideas about what this week’s post would be.  At first, I was going to do something about the new year, goals for 2017 along with some reflections about 2016.  Then, last night, I did some stream-of-consciousness writing about a small step I took recently in removing myself from certain toxic individuals, and how what happened kind of contradicts something I once wrote about in this blog, because people and circumstances change.  But then I decided not to write about it in any more detail than I just did, because it’s not really the kind of dirt I should be spreading publicly.

So I’m just going to leave this week’s post like this.  I’m not ready to write about goals for 2017, because I don’t know them yet.  I need to take some time for some major soul searching, and figure out who I am and what I want out of life.  Most of my ideas of what I wanted out of life in the past were somewhat vaguely defined, and more important, they were based on a number of assumptions about the world and the future that either are blatantly not true or were once true but are no longer.  My goals need to be revised.

So, until then, friends, I hope all of your 2017s are off to a wonderful start.

Exit 87. Goodbye, 2015. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

This time of year always brings opportunities to reflect on the ending year and think about what went well, what didn’t, and what changes we want to make for the upcoming year.  My gut reaction is to feel like 2015 wasn’t a very good year, and I’ll be glad to see it ending.  Goodbye, 2015.  Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

The year was full of disappointments.  I’ve been seeing a therapist, and it hasn’t really helped me feel any less depressed or anxious.  I feel more and more like I have very little in common with the women on the one dating site I’ve used, and the one date I had this year with someone from there was, well, weird.  I dated someone briefly who I met in real life, and it didn’t work out.  The events that transpired at the church I’d been going to for many years, and the mixed experiences I’ve had so far at other churches I’ve gone to, have left me feeling more alienated than ever from mainstream Christianity.

But maybe 2015 wasn’t really all that bad.  One major theme stands out for this year.  As I’ve written before, one of my major recent realizations is that I tend to sabotage myself.  I assume that things will be a certain way, and use that as an excuse not to try something, or to stay in my comfort zone.  And each of the above disappointments was the direct result of me taking a step outside of my comfort zone.  I could have continued to assume that therapy wasn’t worth it, knowing that therapy alone isn’t going to solve my problems.  I quit that particular online dating site a couple years ago after a string of mostly bad experiences, and I could have assumed that it wouldn’t be worth it to make a profile there again.  I could have assumed that the woman I met in real life wasn’t my type, because she doesn’t fit all the stereotypes of the kind of woman I always thought I was looking for.  I could have stayed at the same church because it was familiar, overlooking the facts that I don’t entirely agree with the direction things are going there and that being there often just makes me feel sad and alone.

But I didn’t.  I stepped out of my comfort zone.  None of those actions may have led to the perfect results I was hoping for, but at least I tried, and I don’t have to live with the regret of wondering what might have been.  And that was a bunch of small steps in the right direction.  The most important thing I can do for 2016 is to keep trying, to keep stepping in that direction.  I also need to take time to sit down, figure out exactly what I want and what I’m looking for, make a list of goals and plans for 2016 (which are more than just resolutions), and determine which of these are and are not realistic.  But leaving the comfort zone is the first step.

Exit 35. It’s been nice knowing you, 2014.

It’s that time of the year when everyone is compiling the events of the year.  Everyone seems inundated with lists of the top songs of the year, the top movies of the year, and those questionable automatically generated Facebook year in review posts.  And for as much as that stuff gets kind of old sometimes, I think there can be a lot of value in reflecting on the year, or on any time period for that matter.

However, it seems like these days, reflecting on the end of the year is just depressing for me.  That is why I haven’t really written much on the end-of-year reflection topic at the end of the last few years.  I’ve felt like I don’t have much to reflect on.  Had I taken the time to reflect on 2012 or 2013, it would have sounded something like this:  I’m still living in the same place.  Still not married, still no kids.  Still at the same job that barely pays enough to pay the bills with no room for advancement.  That’s why I’ve just kept all this to myself.  This may also be part of the reason I haven’t done Christmas card letters in recent years.

I’m going to try to be more positive this year.  And what I just said isn’t all true this year.  I’m still living in the same place, I’m still not married, and I still don’t have kids.  But I have a new job.  It was a positive career move for me, and I’m making more money than I’ve ever made before.  I’m not trying to suggest that these two statements necessarily go together, of course.  Money was not the only motivator in this career change.  But I was no longer happy where I was, and it seemed like the right time to return to public school.  So far it has been a positive change.

Something else significant that happened in 2014 was that I drank Pepsi a couple times, and I ate at Jack in the Box a couple times.  This seems frivolous, not to mention unrelated since JITB restaurants serve Coca-Cola products.  But those of you who know me well may know that I have carried out rather ridiculous boycotts of these two organizations for decades, all based on ridiculous reasons.  I’ve been anti-Pepsi since around 1989 (I should add that I didn’t discover that I liked cola-flavored drinks at all until a year or two later), when I noticed that they always seemed to have the most obnoxious celebrities and athletes in their commercials.  And while I grew up in a family that spent a lot of time eating fast food, Jack in the Box was never one of our regular choices.  I did eat Jack in the Box a few times as a young adult while with friends who wanted to go there, and Jack in the Box always seemed to get my order wrong, and that annoyed me.  (These were isolated incidents, not necessarily the same restaurant.)  But really, it’s time to grow up.  I still prefer Coca-Cola to Pepsi, and Jack in the Box still isn’t my favorite fast food.  But if someone brings a 2-liter of Pepsi to a party at my house, it’s okay to drink it instead of letting it go to waste, and if I’m out with someone and she offers me a sip of her Pepsi, it’s okay to drink it instead of making a big fuss about it.  And if I’m hungry, and there’s a Jack in the Box nearby, and I have a coupon (all people in attendance get 2 free tacos from JITB when the Sacramento Kings win), it’s okay to eat there.  I actually quite enjoyed my Sourdough Jack burger last week.  And if any of you are going to reply with some wisecrack about whether Coca-Cola or Pepsi makes a better toilet bowl cleaner, shut it.  I get it, but I’m not sharing my big moments in personal growth just so you can criticize my unhealthy life choices.

I went on an adventure in 2014, the likes of which I hadn’t been on since my four months of traveling in 2005.  This adventure was very much scaled down compared to 2005, and I was with family part of the time and staying in hotels most of the time, but it was still the biggest adventure I’ve had in a while.  I saw friends and relatives that I don’t get to see often, and I saw parts of California I’d never seen before, including a large chunk of the coast, and the Owens Valley and Mono Basin in far eastern California.  I’ve been wanting to do both of those drives for a long time, and it was good to finally take the leap and go for it.

A lot of other important things happened to me in 2014.  I started this blog.  I saw the Kings play the Lakers for the first time.  And the second time.  And the Kings won both of those games.  The San Francisco Giants won the World Series again, their third in the last five years.  I made new friends.  I reconnected with old friends.  And I made a serious attempt to reconnect with a friend from my early college years, whom I had not heard from since early 1996, only to find that she didn’t remember me; that was not the ending I was hoping for, but at least I don’t have to wonder anymore.

I’m considering making a list of goals for 2015… kind of like New Year’s resolutions, but I don’t like calling them resolutions.  If I have a list, it’ll be easier to talk myself into actually doing some of these things.  I remember posting something at the beginning of 2009 (those of you who are my friends on Facebook can probably go back and find it) where I made a list of goals for 2009.  One of them I chose not to say explicitly, but at the end of the year I said that it was accomplished.  I’ve only told a few people about this, but the goal in question was to ask a complete stranger on a date.  That is something totally out of my comfort zone, and even though it goes completely against the “lessons” I learned about dating from church groups in my early 20s, it’s not something I think is inherently wrong or a bad idea per se.  The opportunity presented itself out of nowhere later that year, one summer day, when I was on a bike ride, and I passed, and said hi to, the same girl on a walk three times.  I took her to dinner a few days later; we saw some friends of mine there who were all excited for me the next time I saw them that I had been on a date.  It didn’t go anywhere in the end, she told me on the second date that she wasn’t really feeling that way, but everything was handled well and we’re still on Facebooking terms five and a half years later.  The important part, though, is that I really do believe that having written that goal helped me make up my mind to take action, rather than just saying hi again and riding off.

I tried making the same goal for 2010, and even though that was the year of Mimosa and two other dates, none of those experiences fit into that description of asking a complete stranger on a date.  I attempted to ask a stranger on a date the last week of the year, so I wouldn’t feel like I left a goal unaccomplished, but that was a disaster.  But I at least made an attempt.  I need to take some time to figure out what I would like to accomplish in 2015.  It doesn’t make logical sense, but it does seem that I’m more motivated to do something if it gives me something to check off on a list of some sort.  I haven’t made my list yet, but that can be something to work on in the upcoming week.

I hope that all of you find some meaningful time to reflect on this last year.  It’s been nice knowing you, 2014.