Intend to be Awesome

*Fair warning: This is a long, long post. But I do bear my soul and give you a new perspective on my life. So read it.

Last night, due to the delayed but welcome winter dumping outside, I was able to drag El Greco kicking and screaming into my belated 2012 Life Planning Session referenced in my Chinese New Year post. (One of the things that makes our marriage work is the balance we strike between his laid-back, take-life-as-it-comes attitude and my incessant, ruminative list-making and anxiety-ridden planning.)

Despite all this, I will say I’m not much of a resolution maker. I have acquired a weird superstition of not saying out loud the name of the year that just passed. (So, for example, I can type 2011 but will refer to it as “last year” if I’m speaking. I have no idea what the consequence of saying it would be, except for a general itchy feeling, and I assume it is the vestige of some obsessive-compulsive gene that would exist if I weren’t such an unforgivably lazy housekeeper.)

So I don’t usually make resolutions.

And moving back home to Cleveland, even though it doesn’t seem all that brave, was so outside my comfort zone that I was incredulous that we had actually followed through with it. I had diverted from the inertia that typically takes over one’s life. And I’ve been sort of obsessed with this concept of inertia ever since I moved home. It’s easy to settle into routines. Sickeningly, frighteningly easy. And while my destiny ended up not lying in South Carolina, El Greco and I had established some respectable routines: We worked out at least four times a week. (Before I tripped over my cat and broke my toe last year, I was regularly running about 20 miles a week.) We wrote down what we were going to eat for dinner every night of the week and grocery shopped accordingly, taking leftovers to work for lunch. We had at least some semblance of self-control over our desire to dine out every night of the week (though admittedly, far fewer options!) and mostly restricted our habits to a once-a-week date night and going out on the weekends. We stuck to a detailed budget, fueled by our desire to move home and our fear that we wouldn’t find employment and would have to rely on savings.

Now that we’re in Cleveland, though, those routines have been swapped out for some less healthy, productive and ambitious. Sure, we’re having a lot of fun, but I have felt the stress that comes with living in disarray, and when I discovered I had forgotten to pay my student loan bill on time because I am so lacking any semblance of a routine, I pretty much lost my shit.

So last night, we bellied up to our dining room table and got down to the business of not sucking at life anymore. I fully credit this post from Nicole is Better with allowing me to sleep soundly last night (that, and Samuel Smith’s IPA – we needed brainstorming fuel.) The rest of this post will now sound sort of ridiculous and culty, but I am optimistic it’s going to work amazingly.

Our EFF YEAH 2011 list includes

  1. Moving to Cleveland
  2. Launching a blog (woohoo! So scary.)
  3. Attending two beer festivals
  4. Finding and furnishing a comfortable apartment. (After living under the assumption we were going to be moving for quite some time, we didn’t accumulate anything much that we loved in SC. It was hardly better than milk crates.)

We set goals for ourselves for 2012: El Greco’s goal is to “Be More Awesome,” and mine is to live with intention. Our nine life buckets and subsequent goals for each are as follows:

1. Food: We love eating and are enthusiastic about quality food that is sourced responsibly. And also that is delicious.

  • Eat in well and waste less: We are so grateful to have access to organic and local food. Now we need to get better about cooking and consuming as much of it as possible.
  • Broaden our restaurant horizons and eat new things: It’s easy to get stuck on the same few, comfortable restaurant choices, and if I order another grilled cheese sandwich I think El Greco might leave me.
  • Grow some food: We had a brief but wondrous year renting a house with a big back yard where we started a garden in SC. Now we have the opportunity to participate in a community garden (or find a new rental with a yard), and we so miss getting our hands dirty.

2. Adventure: Neither of us is very good at following through on whatever comes after, “Hey! We should…” Whether it’s going to the Natural History museum or booking a flight to Greece. Life is short. That needs to change.

  • Leave the country: This will probably be Canada, as El Greco has never been to Niagara Falls.
  • Visit two major cities: El Greco’s past life spent often out West, and our several years in the south, have left our travels to New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C. severely lacking.
  • Set Greece trip plans for 2013: Admittedly, this was supposed to happen this year, but… yeah. 2013.

3. Our marriage: We are awesome together, there’s no denying it. The chemistry that has always existed has, however, made it really, really easy for us to get along. The big, bright side of this is that our story is devoid of pretense and choreography. We have never needed rose petals or sappy music or Valentine’s Day. The flip side is, it’s easy to get lazy. I am absolutely at fault  for this. And because I hope we are still wildly in love with each other 40 years from now, I am committed to making an effort when it comes to romance. Barf.

  • Have a once-a-month off-the-grid day: We are heavily tech-reliant. Once a month, we will not be.
  • Take turns making surprise plans for date night: Wednesday nights, we have date night. We usually settle on where we are going after work. It’s just dinner, and it could be way more awesome if we put some effort into planning!
  • Meet for lunch once a month: Work is stressful, and we both usually eat lunch at our desks. We are fortunate to work fairly close to each other. It can happen.

4. Finances: I am a smart lady. I got really, absurdly good grades in high school and college. I also have at least three old 401ks floating around and have no idea what to do about that. I am a financial buffoon. And El Greco isn’t much better.

  • Find our old retirement plans and figure out what IRAs are: See above.
  • Make some serious dents in our student loans: I’m really close to paying off my car, and once that’s finished, our awful student loans are going to get a punishing!!!
  • Improve financial literacy re: home ownership: I’m so jealous of people our age who are buying houses. But I also know we’re not quite there yet, and despite the abundance of $50,000 houses around, we have no business venturing into mortgage territory until we know how they work.

5. Culture & brains: When you’re not in school anymore, it’s easy to lose curiosity. And there is a very rich cultural scene in Cleveland. And we haven’t touched it.

  • Visit 20 museums: We’re not sure if there are 20 in town or not, but we’re going to try to find out!
  • Take an art class: Believe it. El Greco is going to take an art class with me.
  • Attend the Cleveland International Film Festival: We’re going to start by trying to see 15 movies.

6. Career: We spend almost 30% of our lives each week at work. Criminy.

  • Get involved in a professional organization: Neither of us is great at networking, but we want to be better! Also, there are a ton of organizations for young professionals in Cleveland.
  • Set goals for further education
  • Set goals in each of our jobs: Obviously, this is totally dependent on each of us.

7. Health: I am not about to set a weight loss/diet goal for 2012. Can you say cliche? I don’t care if my pants don’t fit. This is as close as I get.

  • Establish a home workout routine: We no longer belong to a gym, but we have Edgewater Park, a mini-elliptical, and a set of 5-lb. weights. We can do this.
  • Tour the Metroparks: We love walking. It’s where we figure out our shit. We also saw a deer from like 3 feet away and it didn’t even move. More, please!
  • Run a 5k/Join a team: I want to run a 5k, but I don’t play any sports requiring a ball or hand-eye coordination. Reverse that for El Greco. He’ll join a team.

8. Home: Make it comfy!

  • Establish a daily cleaning routine: We’re tired of spending 7 hours every Saturday picking up the pieces of a week in chaos. We spend 20 minutes a day finding our shoes. We can clean for 20 minutes a day.
  • View 5 rentals: We like our apartment, but I would really appreciate having a washer & dryer that don’t require quarters again. And I would love a yard. We might move, we might not, but there is plenty to explore.
  • Plan & finish 6 projects: This might include: finishing our dresser/bar, organizing our socks, or buying more doors from Restore and turning them into things. We’re creative, we just need to channel it and stop being lazy.

9. Friendship: Get ready to barf: We’re each other’s best friends! But we’re also not great at being other people’s friends.

  • Be nicer: We both have a tendency toward unwarranted and ugly meanness. We can sometimes be very catty in our attempts to one-up each other in hilarity. But sometimes we can be jerks. It’s an inherent trait, probably, but we’re going to try to be nicer.
  • Instigate plans with other people: Do you ever bitch that you don’t hang out with people, and then realize that you’re sitting around waiting for an invitation? Yes I do.
  • Reconnect with old friends: We are close to old college & high school friends. If nothing else, this quest will make for some good stories!
And that, my friends, is the longest blog post in the history of the world. I’m sorry I put you through that. But now you know all nine buckets that make up my life.

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