Opening wide for 2011

Happy New Year !!!

I’m sure I say this every year - and really, if you can’t say this every year you’re doing something wrong - but 2010 is certainly a year I will remember. The date stamped in my mind with major milestones, like the true beginning of my teaching career, my trans-Atlantic move, and my continuing battle to be a successful expat in a new country. 

As is to be expected in a 365-day swath of time, there’s a lot about this year I’d like to forget and move past, mainly the creepy, hermit-like existence I’ve been living since moving to The Netherlands. Part of my hermitdom has been a result of secondary circumstances, like money problems, no job, snow, and ice. But I know much of this has come from my fear of truly stepping out on my own in a new place. There are pros and cons of moving abroad for the sake of your love of a foreign partner. Having a native by my side is comforting, reassuring, and gives me a little window into a social network I might otherwise have to build on my own from scratch. The dark side, however, is using this person as a crutch. Thomas has been the blanket to my Linus for the last few months and I can’t ignore that anymore. Photo by Tim Hamilton.

Thomas and I both struggle with the 20-something feelings of having not created enough or done anything big by this time in our lives. Rather than focus on our successes, we’ve dipped into self-loathing about what could have been - who we could have been. It’s bullshit and a waste of time, certainly, but that doesn’t make the feelings go away. Oh common sense and logic, how I wish you were more powerful in the face of angst and emotion. I’m sure these tinges come from living in a world where kids run multi-million dollar companies or have traveled the world by the time they’re 14. You can’t help but feel a little pale in comparison and wonder why you didn’t take certain paths or why you were so careful when you had the freedom to be wild. Insecurity is powerful, but we both made a pact to move past it this year, or at least fill our lives with hobbies and passions that bring us happiness in hopes of drowning it out.

We can only move one way through time and there’s no way around that (yet…still waiting for a 15-year-old to figure out time travel). In the face of that fact, I’m gathering a short list of new year’s resolutions that I hope will help me, at the very least, see what I’ve done, be happy about it, and use that positive energy to push me toward something better. Let’s face it - you can only wallow for so long before you start to annoy yourself and the people around you. For the most part I find resolutions to be less constructive and more destructive in our lives, but I’m avoiding the typical “lose weight, eat healthier, etc.” resolutions for more broad and, dare I say accomplishable ones like:

- Try to spend at least 15 minutes a day writing for no one but yourself and without any kind of publication in mind. If it goes longer, awesome, if you miss a day, no biggie - make up for it with some extra time on the next day. 

- Study Dutch, some how some way, every single day. Even if it’s learning one word and using it in a sentence and that’s as far as you get, it’s a success. This is a firm one, though - you have to do it every day. 

- Finally do that podcast you’ve been talking about for so long. 

- Do some sort of physical activity once a day, even if it’s just biking around the neighborhood or dancing to music for 10 minutes in the apartment. Get into some yoga. 

- Finish Couch to 5k program and keep running! Aim for at least three times a week, or more if you’re up for it. 

- Try to work up to at least one, real, on-your-toes push-up with good form and everything.

- Try to grow some food, even if it’s a small herb pot or two on the patio.  

- Commit to a big knitting project, like that light spring cardigan on Ravelry. 

- Go to a MeetUp group meeting in The Netherlands. 

These may not all start the morning of January 1, 2011, but I’m writing them out and keeping them close by to remind myself of what I’ve committed to and who I want to strive to be this year. On the top of my list should be “GET A JOB,” but I don’t think of things like that as resolutions but rather necessities like “eat food” and “bath regularly.” I will have a job this year, sooner rather than later, and I don’t need to see it on a list of resolutions to feel the pressure to search and apply. 

And on one last note about changes in my life, I’ve decided to block myself from Facebook and disable my account. I’m still considering not disabling it so I can have links from my blogs appear in my feed, but I’m certainly blocking myself from the site through my MacTerminal. At first I felt like Facebook was connecting me to my friends and family a world away, but really it’s isolating me from the world around me here, now, in The Netherlands. Thomas and I took the plunge last night (sheesh, why is it such a big deal?) and blocked our accounts and deleted the apps from our devices. I really love social networks and advocate for them often in education and my personal life, but this one has been toxic for me personally. I’ll still be connecting on other networks, like Twitter, but for now Facebook is gone and it feels good. 

Cheers to a new and fulfilling year.