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I’m not one to make New Year Resolutions. I’d rather think if this as a time to reflect and re-evaluate the past year, my goals and what I’ve accomplished as well as what needs to be revised or added. This year I’ve done some research on what other people think and do, a first for me, usually I rely on introspection (how narrow, how dull!)

I love getting older (except for the physical aspects). It makes the world seem bigger somehow. There’s so much to discover and many Aha moments. Christmas shopping this year was one of those times of realization.

I always wondered about my mom’s lack of enthusiasm for shopping after she reached the seventh decade of her life. She didn’t object to the crowds or noise, in fact she enjoyed the excitement and the visual stimulation of the holidays. She was very careful with her finances and it did inhibit her spending but it was a trait that served her well. She had come from a background of want. For a period of time she lived in an orphanage with her sister and never had dental care or enough to eat. Over the years though she had loosened up and had spent substantial amounts on decorating a new home she and my dad built after all but my youngest brother had left home. She enjoyed looking attractive and occasionally would have her hair professionally groomed. But after my father decided he wanted a divorce, her careful management of finances served her very well. Over the next forty years of her life she bought and paid for a home, maintained a little VW bug for getting around town and lived comfortably if not luxuriously. I noticed that she became less and less interested in material things as the years went by and often wondered about this loss of interest.

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This year, while out wandering through shops and strip malls I realized I was becoming my mother! I still enjoyed “window shopping” but saw very little I wanted to take home. Almost all of my purchases were of gifts for my huge and wonderful family. Many of my friends and relatives had cut off ages for gift giving to children and grandchildren but my delight in finding something special for each one was the highlight of my holiday season. Since my list of recipients had reached 30, all family except 2 dear friends nearby, it was a especially fun challenge to find just the right gift for each one and keep my spending under $500. This year I made it just under $400 ($393.07)! A couple of times friends and family asked what I’d like for Christmas, what a challenge. I realized that like my mom I had everything I wanted that was in the realm of purchasable. I still was longing for world peace and brotherly love but didn’t think anyone could pull that off. Now I understood where she had been coming from! Part of it was that a lifetime of acquiring stuff had satiated my hunger and had also taught me what a burden all this material stuff really is. I also realized that I am truly blessed to be able to get most anything I really want for myself.

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Another realization was how important goal setting is and a map of where I I’d like to be by the end of the year. Sure I’d like to lose 25 pounds but more importantly I really want to continue to be as healthy as I am now. So what will it take to meet this goal? Activity, eating and sleeping are important but so is a sense of purpose in life. What are the things i need to adjust to in these areas to accomplish the goal? I know I don’t want to drift through the days, weeks and months to the next New Year. It isn’t pleasurable for me to spend most of my time recreating. I need to accomplish things.

This year I want to become a competent communicator in a foreign language and I want to walk the Coastal Portuguese Camino de Santiago. After the pilgrimage I want to travel to France and Italy for a month or so. This year I want to finish a book I started writing three years ago and to that end I must set aside at least two hours a day writing, not necessarily on the book but writing to oil the machine and develop a habit. I would like to write stories and articles for publications because I think I have a lot of experiences to share that may be helpful to fellow sojourners through this life. With these goals in mind my next step has to be information gathering and planning. What are the next steps?

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