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Friday, December 28, 2012

2013: A Year of Mini-Challenges

I got the idea of mini-challenges from Jen West over at Jen West Quest. I'm not really good at sticking with new stuff for very long, but I want that sense of accomplishment that will let me, over time, learn new habits.

My mini-challenges will last no longer than a week, meaning I am not obligated to hold onto them longer than that, though I am certainly welcome to. I've been considering some things I want to change about myself, new things I want to learn, and also habits that could lead to changes for my entire household.

First up in January is going to be a soda-free weekend. I gave up soda a few years ago and lost weight and felt so much healthier. Then the stress of divorce caused me to give in and I am, once again, addicted. My hope is that a weekend without soda will lead to a week without soda, which may lead to a month without it.

I'm also looking forward to a three-day period when I leave my mobile devices (phones, my old Droid I still use for Facebook and Twitter) out of sight and focus my time on my spouse. No Facebooking from the sofa, no chat, no texting, only answering the phone for emergencies.

Also under consideration are a vegetarian challenge, a fast from cursing, and a three-day period where I have no screen time during daylight hours.

I'll amend this post and add more challenges (and details as I complete them) as the new year progresses. What are some short-term, tangible challenges you'd like to complete yourself? Try to think beyond the grand sweep of things like "losing weight" and "getting closer to God" and "being nicer." What can you do in three-day chunks that could spur larger changes in your life?

No End-of-the-Year Review Here

I haven't been blogging on Static Transient long enough to give you the blogger's typical end-of-the-year review. But anyone who visits here knows 2012 was a huge year for a few reasons.

On March 8, I got married. The wedding didn't happen as we had planned it but it was still special and wonderful. Our parents and a few of our close friends came to the courthouse with us (we looked pretty damn good) and then we had lunch at the Bright Star. I can't come up with eloquent words to describe what that day means to me. Our love and partnership leaves me dumbstruck and it's wonderful.

On August 20, my dad died. That was the worst day of my life. I'm sure that down the road there will be worse days, but I don't want to think about what those might be like. My last grandparent died just a few weeks after this.

In November, we had to put my almost-fourteen-year old Weimaraner to sleep. She was sick and had lived a mostly joyful life despite her dietary choices (leather, foam, candy corn).

I choose to let the beautiful and joyous and fun things color my memory of 2012. I'm thinking up ways to make 2013 interesting and want to share them with you.

What were your favorite things about the past year?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Goal-a-Month

As the year draws near its end, I think about all the changes 2012 brought and the things I would like to change in 2013. A few years ago, I made some major changes that were positive but eventually faded out. I gave up drinking soda for more than a year, I was exercising regularly and liked it, and I changed the influencers in my life.

Jen over at Jen West Quest does some cool short-term goals on her blog, and Wade Kwon at Wade on Birmingham is also into blogging his projects (like his current weight gain project). Those are two people I admire personally and professionally. I would like to follow their lead on this and try some short-term goals in 2013.

I know some things I have in mind for myself, but what would you suggest? Some ideas I have are giving up soda, eliminating certain foods, no screen time while the sun is up, and reading specific books. But I would love to hear your ideas. If you were making your own short-term goals, what would they be? What would you suggest for me? Comment, comment, comment please!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Blues, Part 2

I work in a bright, shiny, and very busy department store. As hard as it is physically and as little as it pays, I really do like working in retail. Part of the joy is customers who are sweet, fun, and downright sneaky when it comes to buying gifts for the people they're shopping with. This year, with the loss of my father, I seem to notice every couple my parents' age that come in shopping together.
I can't help but imagine my own parents shopping together for gifts for their six grandchildren. (They loved shopping. When I was growing up, money was tight, so financial freedom later in life let them really enjoy giving fun gifts.) And imagining my mom telling my dad that she had a piece of jewelry on hold and he could go get it as her gift. And then I imagine our Worley Christmas, which is never on Christmas day any more, and remember all my childhood Christmases (when I was 10, the age of my middle child, I got Madonna's True Blue, Huey Lewis & the News' Fore, and Don Johnsons's solo album, all courtesy of Dad).
He won't be there this year. My mom's shopping partners this year have been my sister-in-law, nieces, and nephew. I don't know what to expect at our Worley Christmas. Probably it will be sad. My children are keenly aware of their grandfather's absence. We will do our best to hold it together but I wonder why we try to hold it together. It seems like we did so much crying in August that we shouldn't cry now.
It's okay to cry at Christmas. Other days I have felt like I just needed to suck it up and move on, but for this season, I'm fine with crying. I feel angry that my mom is being forced into having a Christmas without my dad. And that my children and nieces and nephew have a grandmother who is so profoundly sad when she wasn't before.
That said, I don't want every Christmas to be marked by tears. This first one, though, is gonna be hard.
Merry Christmas. (Click below for a great example of a somber Christmas song, Joni Mitchell's "River.")


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Holiday Blues, Part One

People who have known me for year, either IRL on online, are familiar with my constant search for religious meaning and/or purpose. It seems like a hobby to some, but for me, my spiritual formation and transformation are living things. The day I stop wondering, pondering, considering, and praying will be the day I take my last breath. I don't just enjoy the process; I need it. I thrive on it. Sure, sometimes it makes me look like a know-it-all in conversations and oftentimes I just hide my knowledge by keeping my mouth shut (like most know-it-alls, I haven't yet learned how to politely interject that I know the correct term/answer/date/historical figure, and it loses me friends sometimes). 

The constant conversation with God is the one consistency in my life since childhood. You can tell me it's superstition. You can tell me it's not enough and that I need this other list of things in addition to. But I don't. I just need to know that God and I are speaking and listening.

In 1996, when I finally had the guts to break away from my parents' church and go to my own, I attended a wonderful Episcopal church in Montgomery where I discovered the Eucharist and the church calendar, specifically Advent. At that point, it became my goal to observe and celebrate Advent for a while before focusing on Christmas-related stuff. A few years later, after I'd gone through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at a Catholic parish here in Birmingham, I made sure the family always observed Advent with candles, prayers, and songs, and I tried to keep the tree up for the Twelve Days of the Christmas season. 

A few years after that, I was exploring Judaism (for several reasons) with Rabbi Jonathan Miller at Temple Emanu-El and, in my reading, discovered Hanukkah. Okay, I knew all about it before that because I always have kind of liked all things Jewish. And though I do get irritated when white Westerners start adopting and co-opting and changing traditions of other cultures, I thought, "this is a holiday most of us can relate to!"  How many times have we been sustained long after resources should have run out? Whether you attribute it to God or another being or to your own fortitude or just sheer luck, I bet it's happened.

So we observe Hanukkah here. In the middle of Advent, occasionally at Christmas, depending on the calendar that year. It's a time for miracles, and to remember of the times that the Lord has kept us going. The Chabad has a great section on Hanukkah.  Saturday night, when I come home from work, we will have Hanukkah "cakes" made from doughnuts, and latkes, and we will light the first candle and say blessings. Maybe we will remember to wear blue and white. 

It will be a good way to stop in the middle of holiday madness (my kids have THREE holiday performances next week, all at night!) and remember that God provides. Since I'm not really sure what Christmas holds for me emotionally this year, I'm grateful for other meaningful holidays that carry less baggage and let me feel closer to God.