Friday, January 11, 2019

This Year I Will.....

RHYS BOWEN: It's New Year, time for resolutions. I don't usually make them, but this year I'm resolving to do some things better.
 We always celebrate Three Kings Day with my Phoenix daughter and so I was wrapping presents on Sunday when I realized that I am rubbish at wrapping. Really bad. I know why. I'm always in a hurry, always doing too much. I took a picture of my pitiful attempts!

The thing is that I love receiving a beautifully wrapped gift. So this year I resolve I will improve at wrapping. I'm sure there are Youtube videos on how to wrap gifts. I promise to study. And next year the ones with the perfect bows will be mine.

This has made me think of other things I am not good at and maybe could work on. Ironing, for one. No. I am not going to watch videos on how to iron. My motto is "if it creases, throw it out and get another".  And Suduku. I am bad at suduku. I don't know why but I just can't do it. I watch other people on planes zipping through a puzzle without putting any alternatives in the squares. And I? I get it wrong three times out of four. "Oh look, I've got three nines in this square."

So now I'm thinking if there is anything that I should resolve to try or achieve this year that I have not tried before. I'm not going to emulate George Bush and try sky diving. I saw a Groupon this week for an axe-throwing class. I was tempted. How lovely to kill someone with a perfectly thrown axe. But I don't think that's me either! Actually can you picture me hurling an axe? I'd be sure to let it fly at the wrong moment and kill the person standing beside me.

But I would like to think of something that pushes me beyond my comfort zone. If my knees are okay maybe I'll hike to the top of Squaw Peak. I've always refused to do it before because it's scary (and steep and no hand rail up the side of a mountain). But I'll try to build up to it (if my knees hold up).

 I'm trying to think of something less demanding that I should tackle. A new craft? salsa dancing? I think we should always push ourselves, don't you?
So Reds any resolutions? Anything you'd like to improve at? Try for the first time?

LUCY BURDETTE: I think I agree with you Rhys, that we should be always thinking about expanding our horizons. It’s definitely not going to be a gift wrapping or ironing for me, though I am not good at it either. I’ve even caught John ironing a few of his own things lately, having given up on me!

Aside from the book I am writing, definitely out of my comfort zone, I have been thinking about adding more yoga and more poetry to my life. I went to a new yoga class last week with my friend Steve and we liked it a lot. For poems, I have subscribed to a list curated by Matthew Ogle. (https://tinyletter.com/pome) Every day he sends a new poem. Some of them are impenetrable, but some I like a lot.

And last, my volunteer gig as the secretary and newsletter editor for the Key West Friends of the library will be ending this spring. I’ve enjoyed it very much, but I’d like to do something next that doesn’t involve sitting at the computer. Maybe volunteering at the local animal shelter? I’ll keep you posted...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: ::sitting here thinking:: ::: sitting here thinking:: Well, I'm already surprisingly good at wrapping gifts and ironing, I must say. (Neither of which is going to get me very far, right?)  I love the idea of pushing myself, but--well, you know? Here's what. I am going to try to be more careful about making time for friends. Getting OUT there. I always think everyone else is out there glamming it up, except for me.  Still, I think writing books is pretty darn challenging, and becomes more challenging every time.  If I can accomplish writing an even better book, I will count my self as . a success. And I don't even have to jump out of a plane, thank goodness, to do that.

HALLIE EPHRON: YES to gift bags. And to reusing them year after year. Because one of things I'd like to do in the new year is reduce my garbage footprint. 

This year my husband will retire at the end of the fall semester. There's all kinds of major changes associated with that and my goal is not to get overly anxious about it. I like clarity. Systems! And sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Like driving in fog and only being able to see as far as the headlights...only it's not writing, its life.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING; Gift bags. GIFT BAGS. Pop the present in, stuff a little tissue on top, takes ten seconds. Plus, they're reusable! At least they are in my house, where I snatch them away from the recipient within seconds of the present being opened and refold them immediately.

The pushing-myself thing I'm going to do this year (beside the ever-green resolve to start and finish a book within twelve months) is organization. Now, I'm good at home organization. My closets look, and work, great. My pantry is neat, and I can find things when I need to. But when it comes to work-stuff? I'm terrible. Because for years and years, Ross did it! He was one of those people who are naturally gifted at office skills: managing paper, tracking appointments, staying on top of communication. As anyone who has waited a week for me to get back to an email can tell you, that is NOT my skill set.

But I need to manage this side of things, for my writing life, for my new teaching gig, and for household and Youngest-related needs (I just spent a half hour searching for financial information to send to her university. It should not be that hard.) Anyone who has tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them.

JENN MCKINLAY: I loathe wrapping. Loathe it. I try to buy things that include a gift wrapping option. Yes, I'm that person who will pay others to wrap. In other self-improvement, I would like to work on finishing the home projects. I like DIY home improvement stuff - love it, in fact - the problem is life interrupts and then it takes me months to get back on task. I started redoing my kitchen cupboards over a year ago. I am 2/3 of the way done, which is stopping me from having a new counter put in or upgrading the appliances. I coulda woulda shoulda had this project done by now, but much like painting the outside of the house -- yes, I did that, too -- it took me over a year to complete. Gah! It's maddening but I refuse to give in. There is no feeling like finishing a major home improvement project that you accomplish all by yourself, at least I think so, it's been so long since I finished one...

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I can actually wrap (although this year Rick did all the actual wrapping and I just did the bows and tags--this is maybe because it after ten on Christmas Eve???) so that one is not going on my expanding horizon list. I think I am on Julia's page, otherwise. I want to do lots of things better, including being more organized, and I absolutely must figure out how to write a book in a year! While not a completely new horizon, that would be one not visited for a good many books!

RHYS: I loved hearing that Hank needs to get out there--come out of her shell a little! Right. Who does more speaking engagements than Michelle Obama on her book tour?
And Lucy, you'll have plenty to do trying to tame that new kitty who has just moved into your home.
I am personally so excited that we have just bought a new house in Phoenix and it's been completely remodeled--everything new, so no home improvement to be done of any kind, Jenn!

Now let's hear from you. What are you daring to tackle this year?

60 comments:

  1. Okay, I can wrap [and, given sufficient motivation, iron]; I can find things [mostly], but I am not at all good at doing any of it before the very last possible second. So . . . I guess I’d better be working on becoming less of a procrastinator . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm okay at wrapping, but not as good as I should be.

    I'm joining some new friends at my new job and running with them. I'm hoping that will improve my running stamina. Who knows, maybe it will help my speed again as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SO IMPRESSED! a. new job b. running (anywhere, any distance) Sounds like you're already off to a great start.

      Delete
    2. I've been running for years, but it took a bit of a hit last year. And the job is temp for now, but will hopefully become permanent next month.

      Delete
  3. I'm adequate at wrapping. I do do a neat package, but nothing fancy, and no making fancy bows. I don't seem to enjoy wrapping much anymore, but I do like finding cute, interesting gift bags. I don't think I'm as successful as Julia sounds at snatching them back to reuse, but I manage to hang on to some.

    Oh, I hate New Year's resolutions, although I do end up trying to do something better or different. I'm not going to jinx a thing or two I'm hoping to change by saying it yet, but I will say that I am well set on getting rid of items in my cabinets under my bookshelves in two rooms and doing a complete wrecking ball activity on the items in my two bedroom chests. Also, I have a couple of tubs of memorabilia from my parents' house I still need to have a serious weeding of and plan on doing that. I'm hoping to be a bit more spontaneous about taking some car trips, but I'll see how that goes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are the secrets I can share:
    --There are little gizmos that can help you make those fancy bows. You don't make them freehand.
    --Ironing is for seam allowances on quilt tops. If John wants his shirts ironed, he should iron them himself and leave you guilt-free about it, Lucy.
    --Volunteering is a wonderful way to get out there, but if you do it at an animal shelter, you're going to come home with a dog or two. (Or four. Ask me how this happens!)
    --The best way to test your limits and push you boundaries is not to think of something wild and go do it, but to look at the challenges life hands you naturally and say "Yes!" to them instead of "Oh, no!"

    As for me, the resolutions are the same as always. I'll keep chipping away at the stuff that needs to be dealt with in my house, and keep fighting to inject more life into the work/life balance. And I will encourage you, Rhys, to put a Sudoku app on your phone, so you can start with the dead easy ones and practice at that level as long as you like, instead of just on Mondays when you read the paper.

    Oh, yes! And I will tell the people I love that I love them. I love you all! Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John has never had his shirts ironed since I offered to launder his shirts when we were engaged. His airline uniform shirts that usually went to the laundry. And he said the laundry did them better. I took the hint!

      Delete
    2. I like tha tlast one, Gigi: Tell people you love that you love them.

      Delete
  5. These are funny. What I SHOULD do is start putting all my business expenses online and get the boxes out of the corner of my bedroom closet. Both are unlikely. At this point my resolution is to make it through November with all my deadline met (that's three book deadlines) and a successful Crime Bake on the books. THEN I can think about doing something new!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm not all that great at wrapping presents either. However, I'm not looking to improve it. I just consider it my signature look and that way everyone knows the package is from me.

    I'd say the main thing I need to improve is straightening up my room so that my giant pile of books waiting to be read looks neater.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like it, Jay. I think I'll practice the phrase, "I consider it my signature style." It could cover so many bases.

      Delete
    2. Glad I could help you out Gigi!

      Delete
  7. It's tax time, which means ransacking file boxes of stuff I shoved in closets before Christmas. I sing the same old song every January: "I will be more organized I will be more organized..."

    Julia, when my kids were in college I kept cardboard magazine files on a closet shelf for each kid: birth certificate, immunizations and drug allergies, medical insurance, HS transcript, college transcript, FAFSA, copies of their DL, SS, and passports, tax return for previous year. We had too many close calls when they needed the information RIGHT NOW. Don't get me started on the Ohio DL lost during Mardi Gras which she did figure out how to replace long distance without my help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uggh tax! I was so good for the first months of last year. Everything entered onto a spread sheet. Then receipts started getting stuffed into drawers and now I have to get my act together and go through them

      Delete
  8. I'm an adequate gift-wrapper,with no particular desire to become better.

    This Sunday afternoon I am starting a yoga class for the first time in my life. It was never an activity I was drawn to, but I had my 60th birthday last month and I notice that my flexibility and balance aren't quite as good as they used to be, and I'm hoping this practice will turn the tide on that. My family has pretty good longevity and I want to make sure I'm still able to move in all the ways I want to as I age!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's key, Susan - never stop moving! I love my gentle senior yoga class. We do lots of balance work and the teacher always encourages modifications.

      Delete
  9. Most of my gift wrapping involves putting bill in envelopes. So far no one is complaining, always the right color, usually the right size, and no need to stand in line to exchange.

    What I do wrap looks as if the cat helped me, because she did. 'Nuff said.

    Last year I started going to the gym, working my lower body particularly and enjoying weekly water exercise lessons. That all ended in November when my infrastructure collapsed, first bronchitis, followed by pneumonia, sidelined by severe sciatica, and then a complete failure of what I had left of right arm movement via a worn out rotator cuff. All the infectious stuff is over, under control, and the epidural injections took care of the sciatica. Now I must contend with a right arm that is virtually useless. So in a couple of weeks I am having a reverse shoulder replacement.

    Sorry for the early morning organ recital. Anyway, my new year plans are to give thanks that Julie has retired and will be home during my recuperation. My goal is to be driving in four weeks post op, with decent range of motion within 12 weeks. I am assured I can go back to the gym, including the water exercise within three weeks if the incision is healed.

    In the meantime I'm watching a lot of movies and binge watching a lot of BBC, and filling the freezer for future dinners. And reading until midnight every night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness, Ann, I had not realized so much happened last year. What a pain, in every way.

      You have all my best wishes for a successful surgery and speedy and complete recovery.

      Delete
    2. Oh Ann, good luck with your rehab. What a horrible sequence of events.

      Delete
  10. Ha, Julia, I had to laugh at you snatching away the gift bag to use again. My daughter used to buy all new, color coordinated wrapping every year; now we crack up as the same gift bags reappear every Christmas between us. When my great niece turned two last year I cringed to see her dad balling up the wrappings, including the GIFT BAGS, as Bella opened each gift. Such a waste, of so many really cute bags.

    This is already going to be a year of great change for us, moving to a new house. I think I'll give myself permission to stay as I am, for the most part. I do need to move again, but I suspect moving and reorganizing will help a lot with that. And creating a whole new yard and garden out of the mudpit we have now around the construction area. If anyone has tips for the planning process I'm all ears, by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I bought my house, I had rows of square-trimmed bushes marching around the foundations, and nothing else. It took a year or so of watching the light and doing the research to begin to see where I wanted to go with my garden, and three years to get it somewhere recognizable along the road. Be patient. But if there's one thing you really, really love--lilacs, or iris, or peonies, for instance--plant that right away so you'll always have one thing you love, even when you are in despair about the rest of it. And only hire a professional landscape designer if you want your landscape to look like everyone else's.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Gigi! That is great advice.

      Delete
  11. For all of you, I hope this year brings you ease--less pain, less worry, more joy in the everyday. For me, I need to get this monkey off my back--it's name is fear, driven by depression, and it can be paralyzing. I once walked off the side of a mountain, backwards, with only a rope around me--I just need to remember I not only made it to the ground, but the experience was exhilarating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you can do that, a Flora, you can do anything. You go, girl

      Delete
    2. Good luck with that Flora--we are always here to cheer you on!

      Delete
  12. Making New Year's resolutions for me is about as effective as choosing what I will give up for Lent! I am sincere about the desire but the follow-through disappears before the ink is dry. So this year I am just trying to do things I need to do step by step: organizing bills and other paper in anticipation of doing taxes, signing up for Medicare (done this week!), keeping the piles and stacks to a minimum, etc. Exercise is the other perennial resolution on the list that drops off quickly. This year I tell myself I have a legit excuse, having had 2 major surgeries in the past year resulting in rods and screws in my back and rods and screws in my neck, which limit my flexibility. But the truth is I haven't put forth the effort to find something that I CAN do that will help but not hurt. Maybe my resolution should be "just do it"!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you've had back surgery my advice would be not to do too much too soon! Good luck

      Delete
  13. Not very good at wrapping gifts, mostly because I don't care about what is outside ( in everything and everyone), I care about what is inside.
    Beginning my retirement and being an introvert, my challenge this year will be to make contact and stay in contact with people. Also, I don't know yet what form it will take but and I need to write and I will.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I haven't had to think about "pushing myself" out of my comfort zone because life has done it for me. I find myself job hunting at the age when, for most, retirement arrived a few years back. I was fortunate to work from home for what I thought would be my last job ever. When it became apparent that the company would have to close...well I was (what's the word?) unmoored.

    I waited until the new year and then I started the search for something new. I would like to say that every thing I thought I knew about the job market has shifted. After a shaky start (and a 5 lb weight gain due to anxiety-fueled grazing) I had a great week this week! I know I'll find my new niche. I know I'll do well. I know there's going to be things I don't know and I'm okay with that.

    So, I'm with Julia on the gift bags. I love to iron (a holdover from my dear grandmother). And Rhys, my son belongs to an ax throwing league! He tells me it's a great workout, kind of like backwoods pilates.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Luda, I hope you find your niche soon! I really feel for those of you who should be enjoying retirement but still have to work. Having said that I'm still writing 2 books a year in my seventies but that is from choice

      Delete
    2. Lyda, I wish you to find a meaningful and rewarding job. Positive thinking is the best way to go, you will do well.

      Delete
  15. Isn't it supposed to be the 'thought that counts' with a gift? Because if it's the bow and the wrapping paper I'm sunk.

    Right now a goal is keeping warm without keeping the heat over 65. .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd stay in bed all day, Hallie. I do like to be warm. I'm depressed in Arizona if the outside air dips below 60!

      Delete
  16. I enjoy wrapping the first five gifts, then I hate it. I love to iron, but just thinking about Sudoku gives me a headache.

    What I am tackling this year is writing down more family anecdotes. Every time I call my mother, she shares something about her youth that I've never heard before. I think she's afraid these stories will be lost when she goes (which is true) so now I have a notebook and write it down after we hang up. I would say that someday I will type them up, but I'm pretty sure that won't happen. We'll have to settle for the notebook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'll always have the notebook, Ramona. ;^)

      Delete
    2. Such a good idea the notebook. We think we will remember and then we don't.

      Delete
  17. Wrapping presents? I'm your girl. My first job after college was wrapping presents at a major department store--this is what a degree in English got me?! I was so humiliated, I fled to graduate school.
    As far as resolutions, I decided a few years ago only to make resolutions about things that were pleasurable, things I wanted to do. This year, my resolution is to be consistent about training my new puppy! He is a charming and tenacious (AKA stubborn) terrier, so training is my best hope for encouraging good manners. It's also a fun way to bond with the little guy. This resolution is one I really need to adhere to!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Now that's a fun task to have ahead of you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Perhaps gift wrapping takes a lot of practice. I cannot wrap gifts either! I use gift bags instead. No New Year's resolutions. However, I decided that I want to read more historical fiction. And I decided to try reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver. It will be the first time I read anything by this author.

    And since I joined Instagram, I want to learn the Norwegian language. I still have my books from my Norwegian language classes at Berkeley. I had to drop the class because of scheduling conflicts! It is always fun for me to learn a new language. My great grandparents spoke 8 languages!

    Rhys, perhaps you would like to try something new like learning a language (Sign Language or Italian / French / Gaelic). Perhaps watercoloring painting class? There are many, many, many things that do not involve high risk like skydiving.

    We celebrate New Years with black eyed peas and sparkling apple cider.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good luck with Norwegian Diana, yikes, John and I struggled with Spanish. But good for the brain!

      Delete
    2. Lucy, thanks! I had Spanish in high school and I got straight A's. Perhaps it was easier because I never heard the pronouncations? I could read and write the language. Among my strengths is language, though math and science are not my forte.

      It looks like fun. And I want to be able to understand what Norwegian friends say in their Instagram stories.

      Diana

      Delete
  20. Rhys, my wrapping tip on the bows is to use wired ribbon. It's more expensive but so much prettier. And you bet I save all the ribbons and bows and reuse them. On Christmas morning we have one bag for throwaway, and one bag for ribbons and gift bags!

    I do actually like to iron simple things, but you wouldn't know it from all the tea towels and pillow shams that have been sitting gathering lint in my laundry room for months. Rick is much better at the difficult ironing!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I did axe-throwing at an holiday party with one of my teams at work. I was surprised how fun it was. And I wasn't that bad, either!

    Mary/Liz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have photographic proof that I hit a bull's eye. "So the next time I tell you to get release notes, done..." LOL

      Mary/Liz

      Delete
  22. When I was a child, I used to LOVE ironing, and would ask my mom for things to iron. Yes, really. My, how we change...I have a vague idea about where my iron is. (A friend didn’t know her iron was “missing” until her daughter showed up at her house with it one day.)

    I don’t do resolutions; instead, I try to make changes or take on something new as needs arise or as I feel adventurous. The Big,Huge change in my life was my retirement as of May 2018. I made the decision fourteen months earlier but didn’t give notice at work until a month before my actual retirement. I had to have three minor orthopedic surgeries and I wanted to get them out of the way before retiring. And I was really scared about the financial aspect of retirement! I did a lot of research, though, and decided that May 2018 was definitely the date to start my new life. And I could not be happier! I am taking four (free!) classes at the senior center:Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga (gentle yoga), and Creative Writing. One afternoon a week I volunteer at the library. In between I spend quality time with retired friends. I don’t know if I will be taking on anything new this year; each time I go to one of my classes I learn something new. Oh, and I joined Weight Watchers last July and have lost all the weight I gained after injuring my knee four years ago! I need to buy new clothes l! I hate shopping! I’ll need to overcome that!

    DebRo

    ReplyDelete
  23. This year I AM going to declutter and toss. Seriously. My husband is now onboard with househunting and preparing to move. In fact we are leaving this afternoon on a road trip to do some scouting in SC, NC, and VA. And I am getting stressed and nervous about it. And overwhelmed. He keeps finding properties online and emailing the info to me. My eyes are glazing over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat take a look at my hub's free website for baby boomers who are thinking of retiring. Lots of good tips and articles about different places to retire

      Delete
  24. I have already started bit by bit, doing some decluttering.Just one closet, or even one shelf, at a time, getting some clarity and space in an old house where we have lived a long time.I love that sense of being organized and clean. And of course it's a dandy way to avoid writing work, isn't it? I mean, no one could call this malingering,right? But other new kinds of new adventures are right in front of us because we are going to Egypt in 7 days. Dear friends signed on for a trip and said, "Come." And we surprised ourselves and said yes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW! Egypt! That's fantastic--and a place I've wanted to visit since I was a kid. I'm with you on the decluttering this year. Mainly, it's my home office space. My shredder may be my new bestie. The other resolution is more travel, even if it means I live on beans and rice.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Truly blows my mind that we are doing it. It might include a balloon ride (never done that), and camels ( did that at the Bronx Zoo, which probably doesn't count) So new adventures folded in to the big adventure.

      Delete
  25. I'm OK at wrapping, haven't ironed since Home Ec, and am not good at Sudoku but don't care. I do want to do more exercising and redding out the house. I plan to try some new plants in the garden this year. Much as I love the old ones, the garden and garden pictures looked practically the same as the year before. I want to try baking some new recipes, too.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Well, I've already gotten one thing out of the way. My husband is quite good on a stand-up paddle board, and I've always been afraid to try it. But in Hawaii last week I decided it was time--and I got up the first time! Paddled around with my legs trembling, came in, went back out and got up again. Of course there wasn't a ripple of wind, but I'll take the win! If you want to see a photo, look me up on Facebook--and ignore my chubby thighs!

    ReplyDelete
  27. When I had more presents to wrap, I started using plain brown or butcher paper. For the how I would crochet lengths of chain stitch, often holding 5, 6 or more different colors. Just had to write who the gift was for on the wrapping paper, no tags needed. I can iron, even know where it is. Fortunately, my clothes don't require ironing because setting up the ironing board is a challenge. Since I moved in a bit of a rush, I have a storage unit pack full. I need to shallow the large lump in my throat and start purging. 😕 I am off to Santa Clara in February for an extremely short course in This man crochet. My goal is to finish a crocheted blanket for each member of my sister's family. Actually, it's 3 blankets and a poncho. I just realized this is blog was Friday's, resolve to be a bit more up to date, nah, that's boring. Happy adventures.

    ReplyDelete