As a rule, I don't really have New Year's resolutions. I love goal-setting, but having something set in stone doesn't work well for someone who tends to chastise herself when things don't go according to plan. Instead, I thought I'd share with you some of the lessons 2008 taught me (and that I will hopefully apply in '09!)
1. Guilt has no place in every day life.
We all have certain things we do out of a sense of obligation. What I discovered is that there are many things I've convinced myself that I have to do without any outside pressure. So, I started asking why. Why do I feel bad when I don't do the dishes in the sink immediately when I come home from work? Why do I feel obliged to go to a crowded party? (I'm not saying you should let your dwelling become a pig sty or that you should become a social recluse.) What I've learned is that I can take control of my decisions and own them. It's okay to let those dishes sit until a little later if I'd rather just have some quiet time after work.
2. Being healthy means taking a very honest look at yourself.
Taking my vitamins every day is not optional. 2007 taught me what I stood to lose by being ill-informed about my own health. This past year taught me an even greater lesson, and it was about being honest. I stopped drinking alcohol. I spent four years trying to keep up with other people my age at college parties before (finally) acknowledging that my post-op digestive system is simply no longer equipped to digest alcohol at a normal rate. I was not being honest with myself about my physical limitations. I accepted that there were certain foods I can't eat anymore, I accepted that I can only eat limited portions, but I couldn't accept the idea of going out for happy hour and not being able to have a drink with everyone. I don't know why--I felt like I wouldn't fit in at parties anymore. Once I stopped, I felt so much better. I didn't have to worry if the evening would be one where I was okay, or if it would be one of those nights where my stomach just couldn't tolerate it. Going out knowing that I won't have to worry about feeling sick is an amazing feeling. It's also great to know that I always have a designated driver!
3. I work to live. I do not live to work.
Our society places a lot of value on people who work tirelessly at their jobs. These people are to be commended for their sacrifice and dedication. Some people truly feel their best when they are working. But daily, I see nervous businessmen/women typing frantically on their Blackberrys while attempting to swallow a cup of soup for lunch. I hear people on the Metro say on their mobile phone, "Hey, I won't be home until after 8 or 9 tonight."
I like my job very much. I work with good people, I enjoy the work I do, and it's something I can do well. Part of the reason I am no longer at my previous job is because of the rigorous expectations of the corporate world. I had no wish to rush all day and work long hours for what was barely a living wage in Boston. I really believe that it doesn't have to be like that. I can hear the chorus of people calling me naive from here, but I honestly believe that things would still get done if people truly worked 9-5 every day and spent the rest of their time living.
We all have responsibilities at work. But tell me why those responsibilities should trump our responsibilities to ourselves, our families, our pets, and even our hobbies? It doesn't make sense to have priorities skewed so much toward what is only ONE part of life. This leads into my next point...
4. Slow down.
I don't want this year to fly by. Our family has so much to savor. My brother is getting married to someone wonderful (and I get to be in a wedding!), my cousin is having a baby, my dad opened a brand new office, and Joe and I are exploring what is still a relatively new home for us.
But sometimes with workworkworkworkschoolschoolschoolschool, I forget to just slow down and take some time to enjoy the things around me. It amazes me how far Dioji has come from the scared, shy, and wary dog he was the day we brought him home. Now he sleeps on my feet when I sit on the couch so that he'll know if I move. He's learned to play with toys (he was so confused for those first few months), he is too smart for his own good, and he makes me smile every day. Right now, I'm in my basement writing this blog and enjoying the smell coming from the pot of coffee I just brewed. It's a really simple moment, but what I'm doing right now is exactly what I want to be doing. That's a nice feeling.
6. It's ok that things don't go according to plan.
This has been a difficult one for me to learn. It's not that I haven't been aware of the fact that things don't always go according to plan. The problem I've had in the past is being at peace with that. I'd get very flustered and frustrated. After going with the flow a little more during the latter part of 2008, I started recognizing that sometimes change is better than the original plan. Things do, in fact happen for a reason. Allowing a little flexibility in life makes it more exciting. I ought to just enjoy the ride more often.
So, Happy New Year, folks. In the new year, I encourage you to follow your heart, trust your instincts, and remember this:
"Smart people do what they like to do, not what the world thinks." -Elia Aboumrad
And now for something completely off-topic...
Seeing as my Pick'em league ended (Joe won! Congratulations!) before the playoffs, I thought I'd put my football picks for the playoffs up on here. This Sunday is the Divisional Round and the team I list in bold is the one I pick to win.
Baltimore @ Tennessee, 4:30pm Saturday: This is one of those games I see going into overtime and ending with a lot of very battered players on both sides. Two of the best teams in football right now are playing in what I expect to be the epitome of a smash mouth game. On the Tennessee side, this game is going to come down to Collins' timing with his receivers. If Ed Reed manages to get his hands on a pick, look out. To win, Tennessee must not commit turnovers and they have to find a way to run the ball against Baltimore's very stingy run defense. Baltimore also has areas where they need to step up. Rookie QB Joe Flacco has progressed well throughout the season under the leadership of new coach John Harbaugh. What I want to see is how some of the veteran leadership on the team (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Derrick Mason) can help their young QB and first-time head coach avoid mistakes caused by inexperience. To win, the Ravens must continue to hold teams on 3rd down and force turnovers. That said, it's hard to decide who really has an edge in this game. Even with the game being in Nashville, I've got to think that Baltimore wants it more. Ravens win it on a Stover field goal.
Arizona @ Carolina, 8:15pm Saturday: If you'd told me this time last year that Jake Delhomme would come back after Tommy John surgery and help lead the Carolina Panthers into the playoffs, I might have scoffed a little. I didn't count on Deangelo Williams pulling out a 1500 yard rushing season or Steve Smith having a 1400 yard receiving season. Bottom line? Carolina has a well-balanced offense that's poised to adapt to its opponents. In contrast, Arizona has an excellent passing game with Kurt Warner having thrown for over 4500 yards this season, but a meager running game. If Carolina's secondary shuts down the pass, the Cardinals are in some serious trouble. Statistically, Arizona also fumbles more than Carolina does. In the end, I think that Carolina's balanced play will overwhelm the pass heavy Cardinals. Panthers by a touchdown.
Philadelphia @ New York (G), 1:00pm Sunday: This is an exceptionally hard game to call. Division games always are. Teams in the same division play so often that they really get to know the nuances of their opponents. Statistically, there's no category where one team has a distinct advantage over the other. The X factors in this game are the running backs. New York has to contain Brian Westbrook and force Donovan McNabb to make snap decisions. If McNabb has time in the pocket, the Eagles will win. Conversely, Philadelphia has to contain the trifecta of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw. With such depth in the running game, I predict a more confident Eli Manning in the pocket and a Giants win by 10.
San Diego @ Pittsburgh, 4:45pm Sunday: After last week's game against Indianapolis, let me say that I don't believe any of the injury reports coming out of San Diego. Tomlinson says now that he has a tear in the tendon near his groin. Nate Kaeding is also questionable with a groin injury. Losing either of these players could be a kick in the gut for San Diego. However, I think losing Kaeding might actually be worse. Let's not forget how excellent Darren Sproles has looked on the ground lately. Kaeding has a reputation as one of the most reliable kickers in the game, and if this one comes down to 3 points they're going to want the best guy they have trying to put it through the uprights at Heinz Field (a stadium infamously difficult to kick in). The other factor on the Chargers side is of course, Philip Rivers. In order to win this game, Rivers has got to keep his cool. The Steelers #1 ranked defense is going to throw everything it has at him, and in the past, Rivers has shown that he becomes flustered and makes bad decisions under pressure. As for the Steelers, I find myself less concerned about Roethlisberger's return from his (3rd?) concussion because I have confidence in the Parker-Moore-Russell tandem. Admittedly, it hasn't been Willie Parker's best season. It's possible that breaking his leg last season has left him a little bit gun shy. However, the multi-angled approach to the run has worked well for Pittsburgh this season. The receiving core hasn't looked too bad either. While the numbers don't look especially spectacular, Nate Washington, Santonio Holmes, and Hines Ward have all made plays when they needed to happen. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if it's 1 point or 20 points--a win is a win. The Steelers have been somewhat reliant on their defense to propel them forward. In order to win, the offensive line must keep San Diego from pressuring Roethlisberger in the pocket. During running plays, blocking needs to be a team effort in order to give the Steelers' running backs space to make big plays. I say Pittsburgh takes it by a Jeff Reed field goal.