Do you make resolutions? I do. It was curious to me to learn the resolution-making habits of my friends and family this past holiday season. People who made them blushed, took a hushed confessional tone, and were nervous to share. Those who resolve not to resolve snorted and scoffed at the quaint notion of making fairy wishes for the future, or seemed defeated by resolutions past. There was my aunt who doesn’t believe in them, because they’re breakable – why make a goal that you know will be broken? There’s my friend who only makes low-stakes resolutions about house-cleaning, so as not to disappoint herself by failing at something soul-related. There are those who lean towards the hyper-specific, such as my colleague’s self-imposed charge to work less after 6:00pm on weeknights. And then there is mine – broad and hopeful – which I confess with my own nervousness: to focus on letting my actions come from the best part of myself (which I like to think is my thoughtful, creative, and loving side), and thereby let these qualities come to the forefront, instead of facing the world via my more negative qualities (which I think of as my controlling, anxious, perfectionistic nature).
While my resolutions are usually open-ended – I think of them more like themes to color the year, instead of rules to follow verbatim – additionally, I like to create a blueprint for the year ahead, which is much more specific. To do this, I ask myself during the first week of January: What will I be doing regularly over the next twelve months? What big events will there be this year? What are my priorities, and how will I allot time for them?
I’ll let you in on my three guiding priorities for 2013 in a moment – but first, I’ll share my stumbles in this first week of attempting to follow through on the resolution.
Considering the youth of the year, I’m amazed at how frequently I have already had this thought:
Jesus Christ. I’m in over my head.
Then ensues the release of the Swarming Mental Bats of Panic, flapping and guanoing all over the caves of my brain. Their fluttering and bashing into walls sounds something like:
Have I overcommitted?
How did I quit my job without another one already lined up?
Will what I’m trying to do work?
But much as I’ve been surprised by my ability to be totally overwhelmed six days in, I’m also experiencing something new and wonderful: if you ride it out without trying to fix it immediately, the feeling passes. Yes, perhaps it passes with the help of a bag of baby carrots and a pint of hummus stuffed in my mouth at once; eating to combat the experience of strong feelings is always a good idea. Yes, perhaps it passes because I have a post-holiday flu, and staying awake for more than 30 minutes + thinking thoughts = fever nap. Yes, perhaps it passes faster when a bottle of Malbec is within arm’s reach. But it also passes because, when I look at the world from the best part of me instead of the worse part of me, things feel & look different:
I am self-employed; even when I work with others, at the end of the day I answer to myself.
I know that even when I feel I’m in over my head, it shall pass if I pause. It’s temporary.
I’m doing things I care about, with people I like. When that’s the case, one is always buoyant.
That’s why I like open-ended resolutions; there is no quantifiable way to fail, but they’re helpful as mantras when you start to veer off course.
So what is it, exactly, that I’m trying to do, and which I’m afraid might not work? Well, let me back track for a moment and share a midnight shopper’s confession. Last night I ordered me some new business cards – for myself. Not for my business – but for me as a person. Why did I do this? Well, I had an epiphany. Or at least a small brain bubble that drifted to the surface. I created a card that had the three things I am passionate about pursuing in 2013, along with all my contact info. That way, anyone I meet has access to seeing all parts of me at once, without mumbling explanations and clumsy caveats; they can then engage on any and all fronts they so choose.
Here she is:
Those are the three priorities guiding my blueprint for 2013, and now they’re not only in writing, but they’re how I’ll (tangibly) present myself to others. I know it’s just a card, but it was incredibly empowering to make it – putting those priorities in writing on a calling card forces me to remember that this is the face I want to show to others, and will hopefully help me stay focused on my resolution. It also gives weight to all the things I’m trying to do, which helps me in moments of doubt.
Since I’ll be exploring the unfolding of these three priorities at length here at Civicization, I wanted to share a little more with you about what exactly each means, and what each will look like in the coming months. Suggestions, questions, and feedback are encouraged and welcomed!
I have always loved to write. In short, I have never had the cajones to do it in front of other people. Writing’s been my secret ugly boyfriend I’m ashamed to be with in public. Let me rephrase that – writing is beautiful. I feel like I’m writing’s secret wart-riddled mistress, having late night trysts when we can’t keep our hands off each other(‘s keyboards), but never making our relationship public in the light of day.
But now I have no more excuses. This blog may be small, but I love it. And I’m hoping it’s just the start. I will continue to write it everyday, and hope to expand it to include interviews.
I am also going to work on my own writing. This includes essays ( “A History of Cumin,” “The Psychodrama of Rihanna,” and “The Self-Loathing, Silver-Haired Jew” are three such gems I have in mind . . . ) as well as short stories and a novella I started a few years ago. I commit to doing this without telling myself it’s a waste of time. I’ve wasted enough time saying just that. I will dedicate 1-2 hours a day to my personal writing, in addition to writing this blog.
My hope of hope of hopes is to find a way to write professionally for other blogs/publications, and do something with my fiction. There – I’ve said it publicly! Now I’ve just got to figure out how . . .
Here I have a few goals for myself: 1) develop a keen understanding of domestic politics – the major issues, the major players, and my own opinions – by 2) reading more, reading variously, reading voraciously; and 3) developing the confidence to express these opinions, and engage in conversation around them, without feeling like someone calling themselves an oenophile while remarking on the earthy nose of their mug of Bartels & Jaymes.
#3: Community Engagement.
At the end of December, I was officially made the Marketing Chairperson of the Civic Association, as well as the (founder! and) Chair of the Young Friends Group of the Civic. This means I am:
- Editor of/ contributing writer for our Newsletter
- Managing our E-Post
- Overseeing marketing/interfacing with neighborhood businesses & residents
- Creating Young Friends from scratch – recruiting members, planning community service projects, organizing social events, etc.
I have a few education-related opportunities on the stovetop, too:
Tomorrow, I am round 2 interviewing for a board position with the Philadelphia Montessori School. I’ll keep you posted on that! I’ve also become involved with the POWER Group at Rodeph Shalom, working on issues pertaining to Philadelphia public schools. I am also in the running to be a member of the Education Committee of the Philadelphia Orchard Project.
I’m still Junior League’n it up, too.
Now, this might sound all over the place, but there is a method to my madness. In my 2013 blueprint, I have three organizing priorities: 1) Community Events, 2) Writing, 3) Educational Consulting. Those are my three things, and all of the above falls into one or more of those categories.
And so the plans fall into place.
#4: Educational Consulting.
Over my little holiday vacation, I redid my website for Pedalogical to reflect what I really want to do: help schools, non-profits, and community-based organizations to do a lot, with a little. I’ll do this by providing cost-effective, creative solutions in regards to resource allocation, in order to help build internal capacity & community engagement, without blowing out budgets.
Is making my target market organizations that have small budgets the best business decision on my part? Maybe not – but it will allow me to do work I am thrilled to do with clients I care about.
I narrowed down my services to include event planning, strategic planning, and educational programming. This will allow me to have a flexible schedule, be creative, and stay aligned with my three priorities (community events, writing, educational consulting).
I have one client in NYC, one in Philadelphia, and have feelers out to/meetings pending with three more here in Philly. I’d love feedback on the website, and suggestions for meeting new potential clients in Philly, if anyone has suggestions!
Tbis is the one that I feel most bashful about – but which is also closely related to my resolution. I know this will be a bigger topic in future posts, but in short: I love “homemaking,” and feel ashamed to admit it. I enjoy cleaning my home, because it is mine and I am proud of it; doing laundry makes me feel cozy; grocery shopping, cooking, & feeding myself and my family healthy delicious food fills makes me feel peaceful and proud; I love few things more than having friends over for dinner and parties; I even relish making budgets, paying bills, filing, and getting outgoing mail into tidy piles.
All of this I used to think of as stupid chores that took me away from Work. They weren’t things that serious career ladies devoted mental space to – they were distractions, annoying nuisances of life that one would pay someone else to do if wallets allowed. I grew up watching my mother work full-time, and also manage all of these life-errands. She got them done and juggled them all – but they were never a source of pleasure. They were her cross to bear. Work was her passion, work was her playground, work was her identity. What did it mean about me that I loved laundry, shopping lists, and fluffing pillows so damn much?
In 2013, I’m going to allow myself to love what I love, in the hopes that this will help me to be my best self – and start to chip away at some ideas I have about what it means to be “serious” and “professional,” which I’m starting to think are doing me more harm than good.
So, there you have it – my New Year’s resolution; my blueprint for 2013; and the nitty gritty of what the foreseeable future has in store in terms of my Civicization. I’d love to hear from you – did you also make resolutions & blueprints?What are they? Is there anything in mine that you could borrow or steal?