Saturday, January 5, 2013

Refocusing

I don't really do New Year's resolutions. They sound like a nice enough idea, but also seem rather arbitrary to me. Or maybe I'm just lazy, and don't want to make any kind of effort to change my behavior. Whatever the reason, I've never wasted much effort on them.

This year isn't really any different. I haven't made any resolutions. I think of them more as...refocusing of efforts and attention -- areas of my life that I think are important enough to spend time and energy thinking about and doing. So here goes:

Where is my money going? When I first though about this one, I kind of framed it as wanting to pay attention to where stuff is made, and stay away as much as possible from cheap crap made in China. The last two purchases I made for the house at the beginning of December last year were a sewing machine and a hairdryer...both made in China. When I bought each, I thought I needed them, and would use them constantly. I've used the hairdryer twice (I’m not very coordinated with it -- The Rocket Scientist tells me I need to practice more), and just got the sewing machine out of the box today. I don't know that I really did need them, and if I did, if I couldn't have taken the time to look around for quality items that support ideals I value.
When I mentioned this "Refocusing" to my good, crazy-high-speed friend (who will likely one day be either Commandant or in Congress -- or both), she asked what I had against buying goods from China -- as a developing economy, they need the economic demand to continue driving their growth and concomitant progress. And maybe it is provincial and protectionist of me, but I want to support *my* country's economic growth and progress. Call me a Tea Party convert (bahahahahahaaa), but I've pretty much bought into the notion that our country's economic metabolism depends on the slow, steady contributions of mom and pop enterprises. And I can chose to spend my money at big box stores where the dimes will get lost in a corporate oubliette, or I can chose to spend my money in places that will provide direct and immediate support to real people. Yes, I *know* that is an extremely simplified and generalized version of reality, but I see this as part of my thought process, starting with "do I really need XXXX?" and moving on to, "what are my options for where to get XXXX?" and then "who benefits from where I spend my money on XXXX?" Etsy.com is my new starting point for pending purchases. We'll see how this works when I'm looking for more than just random wants like purses and jewelry boxes.

I put this process to the test on Wednesday. I needed milk (ok, maybe need was a little bit of a stretch -- but I get really grumpy when I don't have milk for my tea). I drive right by Aldi and Safeway on my way home. Eastern Market (long-standing farmers' market close to Capitol Hill -- yuppy-town galore, but a foodie's dream) and Glut Food Coop (a throw-back to 1973 when it was opened -- hippy-central, but 5 blocks from my house) were also viable options. I wasn't sure Eastern Market was open as late as I needed, and so, with a slight alteration to my normal route, I stopped by Glut and picked up some milk from a local dairy. Yes, more expensive than half-a-gallon from Aldi, but organic and I could picture the farmer who fed the cows the morning they gave the milk. And spending money at Glut ensures that my neighborhood has a natural food store providing good, whole comestibles to a less-well-off part of town.

What are my daily choices about my health? Ugh. I've been on a work-out and healthy-eating hiatus for a coupla weeks now. The holidays, no settled work schedule with lots of time off with family and friends...I've read all the warnings from women's magazines about how to resist weight gain and backsliding during the holidays -- and I ignored them all in the *grandest* style, since about Halloween! Cookies, candy, cupcakes, pork and mashed potatoes, lots of butter, turkey and stuffing, popcorn, sodas, potato chips and *fritos!!* Over the last two weeks, I have abandoned my smoothies, salads, morning oatmeal, bike rides and runs, workouts of any kind, really. And I'm definitely feeling the results. I feel like a slug. I know I'll get back to it, but it's gonna be a hard slog. I might hafta go cold turkey on cutting sugar out.

The most sensible route is to just be more aware of what I do and how I treat myself. Getting back to the three-mornings-a-week, 7.5-miles-each-way bike-ride-to-work will be a big boost in the right direction. I've found that I can easily ride on Monday and Tuesday, but by Wednesday, I've lost interest in getting up so damn early and going out into the frigid cold morning only to get to work and have to do it all over again on the way home. So I drive on Wednesday and Thursday (which works out well for the office's Fun Run usually scheduled for Thursday mornings) and then bike again on Friday, when I can tell myself, it's just one more day before I can sleep in. Yoga on Sunday mornings at Joe's Movement Emporium up the street from Glut.

But it can't just be about the workout. I have to pay attention to what I'm eating too. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, no processed crap and oooh, eeek, awww, limited cheese and dairy. (Julia Childs' cooking program just came on the tv behind me -- I don't think her style of baking will really help me much). And it will be interesting with how I resolve my first "Refocusing" with this second "Refocusing." They both take time and attention...searching out good food isn't usually fast.

What can I write about? I am not really happy with my lacksadaisical approach to writing, and in particular to this blog. I used to keep a journal, in addition to writing here, but I have also fallen off of that. I have to remember that I get a lot out of writing like this...thinking about issues bigger than just the daily grind, my place in the grander scheme of things, my emotional and spiritual well-being, and sometimes just darn funny things that pop into my little pea-brain. And writing things down helps get them out of my head. I have a really bad habit of allowing the hamsters to race and race and race and race around on their wheel without making any attempt to quiet their frantic but completely unproductive efforts. The process of writing and journaling gives those poor rodents a break.

However, I am not going to make any rash and binding promises about how much I will write. I'll keep my goal of a blog post every week or two, but don't want to feel like I should beat myself up if I go, idk, a month!! or more!!! without blogging. But I darn well better have at least cracked my journal open!

All of these redirections require more time commitments compared to how I spent my time last year. Unfortunately, I can't make more time, so something will have to give. Maybe less time on trashy fiction novels. Maybe less time on bitching about work. Maybe less time on waiting around for stuff to happen. There are a few things that I won't allow to suffer however...time with friends (including the two newest additions to my house -- Ringo and Lucy, brother and sister mono-chromatic kitties from the DC pound), work (sad to say in some ways, but I take pride in doing what I do and doing it well (or so I tell myself) that I'm not willing to half-ass my efforts there), and the house, especially once spring comes and I can get back into the yard and garden.

Happy New Year, all! May your “Refocusings” be long-lived and productive for you this year :)

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