Before I get into a Talk20, Going Over the Edge, a Love Letter to Life, and a whole bunch of other (likely more exciting) things (than this post) that have either happened or been on my mind, I figured a quick update about my New Year’s Resolutions so far would be a great thing to do given this blog started because of the initial list back in 2014.
As usual, some are going forward well and then some of them have been delayed (a broken violin and then some massive vet bills will delay that one, but yay for more quality time with my guitar (in theory)), but I do have a whole year to attack them. I am happy to say I have been pulling myself out of my phone more and documenting many of the days (not all but I am working on it) in my Personalized Progress Log. I have even been watching my diet (today even led to my resisting a super tasty Blue Bird Books’ Nutella Hand Pie) and fitting in exercise. The most interesting adventures so far this year have been with #10. Create and Carry Out Monthly Themes, so this post is going to be dedicated to highlights from those.
January: A Month of No Complaining
The plan for the first month of the year was to spend an entire month not complaining about anything. It didn’t take long to find there is a difference between complaining and telling the truth. For an example, Kansas in January can be quite chilly, so if I stated, “I’m cold,” is that my telling the truth or is it my complaining? Ultimately, I opted for the former. I also opted with seeing some observations made about others in the former light too (the truth is the truth, right). In all seriousness, I did pretty well with this theme and have been trying to keep it going since then. Needless to say, this New Year’s Resolution did lead to quite a bit of contemplation, and it was definitely a good way to start the year on a positive note.
February: Playing Vegetarian
The vegetarian lifestyle is not something necessarily foreign to my life. There have been times I have gone four or so days without having any meat (often connected to times I had made veggie tacos and had four or so days of leftovers), but a whole month (although it was a short month) was another eye-opening experience.
First, there was the actual-finding-food-to-eat challenge. Since the kidney stone, I had given up quite a few foods high in oxalates, but I figured a month of having them again wouldn’t be too bad, especially if they were high in protein, so peanut butter came back into my life and so did peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which were absolutely tasty (Seriously. This inner child was awoken). However, don’t worry, for I fixed many meals beyond that of a grade-school diet. Many vegetable-broth-based soups were created in my kitchen thanks to the chilliness of a Kansas winter (except it really wasn’t too chilly and I spent quite a few evenings at Sand Hills State Park lying in the tall grass, watching birds fly over me, and staring at the setting sun while doing my best to be in the moment all while still contemplating the journey of life (which now looking back, this does seem like some sort of thing a transcendentalist vegetarian would be doing).
But then there were the times of going out to eat with friends. Cooking at home was no problem at all, but eating in Central Kansas was a completely different story when it came to the vegetarian lifestyle. There were several times when I would look at a menu repeatedly to try to find something I could eat. Thankfully, grilled cheese sandwiches tend to be a stable on most menus (yep, back to the grade-school diet), and desserts are almost always vegetarian-friendly (minus the bacon-covered donuts).
But then there were the events where I became that guy to request a special meal from the norm. This included the annual Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber Dinner where the main entrée was what was described by many as the best prime rib they had ever had. Meanwhile, I had a plate full of side dishes (green beans (thankfully no bacon), carrots, and potatoes).
However, as I sat down was when the other fascinating facet of being a vegetarian occurred thanks to a simple, courteous question.
“Will you be offended if you have someone eating meat right next to you?” the wonderful and amazing Alice asked with a genuine concern.
It took me just a second to realize what she meant before I smiled and said, “Don’t worry. I am just playing vegetarian for the month of February.”
And that really was the truly interesting part of the month – other people’s reactions to my living a meat-free diet. There were those who knew me well and just had fun with my month’s tasks. There were those concerned I would judge them and be angry by their omnivore/carnivore ways. Finally, there were those who went to great lengths to let me know my being a vegetarian was a danger to my health. One in particular, who may have been greatly intoxicated at the time, basically begged me to eat meat because he was sure I would be developing all sorts of food allergies. He never quite picked up, despite my trying to tell him repeatedly, this was just for four weeks and not a plan for a lifelong lifestyle. Every time I attempted to make that clear, he just answered back with yet another grave concern he had for my future and how I was making the biggest mistake of my life.
The takeaway from this resolution was my getting just a small taste of the great challenges vegetarians have when it comes to staying firm with their diet. Where I had only a month of looking at three-plus page menus to find only one possible option or being tempted by the pleasant aroma of bacon coming from the cafeteria or the grilling of steaks from neighbors’ back yards (there really was some great weather in February), it’s their life, and I give them great props for holding to their values.
The plan was to continue being a vegetarian for a bit into March, but Jimmy John’s came to campus offering free sandwiches and were out of the vegetarian ones by the time they stopped by my office. Well . . .
March: Becoming Super Organized
The original plan for March was inspired by Adam Grant with my wanting to become a precrastinator; however, these New Year’s Resolutions need to be somewhat doable, and I knew there was no hope for a complete 180 on my procrastinating ways, so the plan was to organize my life instead.
First, there was the homefront and then my office with both becoming nice[r] and neat[er] (for me. A truly organized person likely would still have been horrified). Second was scheduling my week using my Personalized Progress Log, which included sticking with what I set and attacking homework during the time allotted. Third was getting everything lined up so I would not have to attack (too much) homework while I spent 4.5 days back East visiting friends in North Carolina and Virginia (with a quick hike in West Virginia so I could say I have been to West Virginia) followed almost immediately by a work trip involving my driving a huge van filled with honors students fourteen hours to Beaumont, Texas.
The most fun with the month of being organized was easily testing out my nifty new Nomatic travel bag bag (nothing but great things to say about it):
Enjoying a clean(er) house was up there too. Now if only I could say all of these good habits stuck around. There were some steps forward, and strangely, though, the true contemplation of decluttering my life and organizing my focus didn’t come until April as part of my taking on the Art of Manliness 30 Days to a Better Man, but those adventures deserve posts dedicated to them, and they will be coming soon.
My take away from March is being organized can be a great thing. It is really nice walking into an organized house or into an organized office. The same goes for knowing what I was going to be eating, wearing, and doing for the week or as far out as scheduled; however, there were times when an unexpected surprise (a work assignment that needed to be done as soon as possible, a friend needing a friend, a friend I was visiting having a ruptured cyst after our hike and having to go to the hospital (supposedly neither the hike nor my visit were connected to sending her to the ER, but now I am worried if I should add a disclaimer a visit from me may lead to our having to seek medical treatment) , etc.) would come up and throw off my schedule, and that is okay. The key really is about finding a balance rather than falling to either extreme when it comes to organization. What that said, leaning a little more towards being organized, especially when it comes to my time, would be a good thing, and my hope is perhaps once day that will be true, but until then, it will be like most things and simply baby steps towards that direction.