Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Year...New Me

I know this blog is coming kind of late to the party, after all it's already the 16th of January, but it has taken me a bit longer than usual to gather my thoughts and aspirations for the new year ahead. Last year was so providential – signaling a major shift in both my and many of my closest circle's thoughts about our lives. Yet much of the year was also static, as thoughts gathered with no practicable outlet for their expression. This year will be different, as many of those gleanings are now able to be met with an equal amount of ability. For me and my life this ability centers on a couple of salient themes – financial, educational, nutritional, and definitional.
FINANCIAL - Our income, while limited, has become regulated and therefore consistent to the extent that a minimum monthly amount has been determined and a process for it's acquisition standardized. This allows me the freedom to plan ahead with certainty in matters regarding money. Because of this I have determined that 2011 is the year we finally distill a completely accurate picture of our total financial situation and gather the necessary information to draw up a reasonable plan-of-action in order to guarantee some measure of future financial security. This applies to everyone in our immediate family, but especially to Erhard and I, since our sons are all adults now and their plans and aspirations are clearly different from ours. They are setting out to regain their measure of financial independence while we are looking more to regaining our financial security. Yet and still there is much that can be achieved collectively and that will require several very intense and brutally honest conversations in the upcoming weeks ahead.
EDUCATIONAL – As of this last semester I have passed the halfway point in my immediate educational goal – that of attaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. This last semester was the hardest of my school-related career and the mere fact that I didn't completely flake out is extremely rewarding to my self-image. I ended the semester with a 3.85 overall GPA and the awarding of lower-division honors. This semester I will complete the course requirements for upper division honors and once I finish my honor's project I will graduate with full University Honors in 2012. I know that by the end of this year Stephan will have his Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and both he and I will have taken our GRE's – the next step for both of us. I am anxiously awaiting the start of this next semester because the courses I am enrolled in are particularly interesting to me... they include Anthropology of Religion, Psychology of Sexuality, Elementary Statistics (actually a step up from the Basic Statistics class I took at Rock Valley College), and LGBT Studies (a survey course regarding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender issues). I am also scheduled to begin hands-on research under my Psychology professor's mentoring – an exciting semester indeed!
NUTRITIONAL – It has now been two-and-a-half years since I began my health & fitness journey and a little over two years since I joined SparkPeople.com. These last few months I have found it extremely difficult to maintain my motivation and while I do not believe I have gained an inordinate amount of weight back I know that if I continue as I have been the weight will come back and I would be disconsolate. I began my fitness journey concentrating only on exercise and moved back into dieting only after I had been working out for a few weeks. This occurred naturally and almost without effort as I began to avoid greasy and overly processed foods because eating them while at the same time working out seemed utterly counterintuitive. Over time I began to pay greater attention to individual nutrients and once I had joined SparkPeople in November of 2008 I began to record my food intake in their online tracker. I continue to do this today, but there are days that pass without my tracking and then panicked catching-up follows. I know myself well enough to realize that when something becomes forced and obligatory I balk and what used to be a normal part of my day now feels contrived and banally difficult. This year I intend to reinvigorate my inner motivation to push beyond these bounds and once again rely more on exercise and allow my body to naturally discern what foods are best... I start this year somewhere between 172 and 185 pounds (my scale is not being at all informative on this matter, fluctuating wildly from day to day). By this time next year I want to weigh no more than 160 pounds – meaning that I will lose somewhere between 12 and 25 pounds over the next twelve months – certainly a doable and reasonable number. Going back to the YMCA will be a necessary step, as will checking out the NIU student health club. Lately, I have focused on my own potential longevity and in that vein I realize that getting as healthy as I possibly can is the single most important determinant under my control. While not uppermost in my mind at the present time, I know that quitting smoking is another goal I will eventually have to embrace.
DEFINITIONAL - The number one question in most of our lives comes down to this... Who exactly am I? Over time our definitions change and evolve, but being able to elucidate them can remain problematic through a dozen incarnations. So it has been with me. I know I am not the same person I was only a few years ago – sometimes radically so – but who exactly I am and am becoming is not as clear as what parts of me no longer apply. This is the year I turn prescient and use this foresight to underpin a new paradigm. This blog will become an essential component of this chronicling and hopefully its insights will be definitive and illuminating. At the very least this journal will articulate the journey in a way that only words to paper (or screen) can. Making the internal concrete is the first step in making it palpable and experiential. What is before me is available and manageable in a way that mere thought can never be. As such I intend to record far more here than I would normally externalize in the expectation that such exposure will allow those parts of me now hidden to flower. To that end I will upload both current and past writings. In order to reexamine exactly how each of them came to be and what each of them says I am opening those parts of my life up for commentary – because even as I shrink back from such audience, I know that it is exactly such objective analysis that can break open new insights that would otherwise remain hidden to me.
There is it – a new listing of goals and optimisms for 2011. Now on to the work they imply... 

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