Sunday, January 6, 2013

Be Deliberate.

That's my goal for 2013.

I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's book Happier at Home.  I read her Happiness Project in 2011, when I was feeling anything but happy.  Some things in the book were a little hard to swallow at the time (not to mention her oldest daughter's name is Eliza) but one point she made stuck with me--we need to safeguard our happiness so that it can help us in times of adversity.  Amelia made a point on her blog that more directly spoke to my experience as a bereaved parent trying to recover from loss:  "I'm happy about all the things in my life I can control."

That seemed like a huge statement, and one I wasn't sure was true for me.  So I started working to be happier in small ways--focusing on my marriage, walking the dog, doing yoga, repainting my living room, choosing carefully where and with whom I spent my time.

One thing Rubin does is choose a word to be her theme for the year.  Her word was "Bigger," as a reminder to reach out and live the bigger life.

My word for 2013 is "Deliberate."  As in "Be Deliberate."

I want to be deliberate especially in how I spend my time and money this year.  I want to choose projects that are meaningful to me, and I want to scale back on things that aren't important to me.

This also means I need to have some conversations with David about places where our priorities don't match up exactly.

For example, I love photos.  I love the snapshots we take on our phones and with our DSLR.  I want to spend some time learning to use the camera's manual settings.  But I also love professional-quality photographs.  Having Caroline's newborn photos taken was an amazing (and emotional) experience for me--I ended up having the same photographer I had previously booked to have Eliza's photos taken.  (She knew our whole story and was extremely kind, not to mention she took beautiful photos).  I want to continue to have Caroline's picture taken by a professional every three months up to her first birthday.

David doesn't see the point of having her picture taken so often when we have so many pictures of her (my iPhone has over a thousand--at least 75% are Zuzu).  But guess what?  Neither of us has much skill as a photographer, (as David should know, since I often gripe about the composition of the photos he takes) and I want to have a collection of beautiful photos to capture her first year--the kind I'll get printed and framed and maybe splayed across a canvas.

This is a place I want to spend my money, so I told David that her six month photos can be my Valentine's gift.  And since David spends an equivalent amount of money (or more...) on the golf course, I think that we've reached an amicable agreement.

I go back to work tomorrow, teaching a January term class that runs four days a week for three weeks.  Then the semester starts with my MWF teaching schedule.  I'm really happy with the balance of work and home-with-baby-time that I've worked out, but I want to make a conscious effort to be deliberate about it.  That means when I'm at work, I need to be working (Pinterest doesn't count!).  And when I'm at home, I want to be present and engaged (again: Pinterest doesn't count).  (Although I do love me some Pinterest and it actually brings me a certain kind of happiness when I do have time to sit down and peruse it.)

So that's why my goal for 2013 is to Be Deliberate.

In keeping with that theme, here are a few resolutions:

1. Be deliberate with memory keeping (blogging, baby book, photos)
2. Be deliberate with time (less TV, more dog-walking, less zoning out on the computer, more conversation, more sewing)
3. Be deliberate with love (like last year, give proofs of love--hugs, kisses, notes, texts)
4. Be deliberate with money (be frugal, shop thrift and consignment, buy what's needed).
5. Be deliberately organized (at work and at home)

I realize these are kind of vague and broad, which makes resolutions harder to keep, but I have a long list of specific things I want to do that I won't bore you with (examples: create a household inventory, learn to use Blackboard for teaching, organize my photos by date and category, also learn to crochet).

The best thing about 2013 is that I feel like I have the energy to at least attempt these goals, if not achieve all of them.  For a long time it felt like I was just surviving and now I'm working more on a purposeful existence.  That sounds kind of lame, but it feels like a big deal.

Meanwhile, I'm already working on my memory keeping by loading all the photos from my phone onto my computer...

This was me a year ago:

The Deuce. January 2012.

What a difference a year makes.

The Deuce.  January 2013.


  1. She's so cute!

    I am also reading Happier at Home right now, and I have SUCH mixed feelings. On the one hand, I love it, and I think it has actually helped me BE happier and appreciate small things/stop nagging, etc. So for that, I love the book and am ordering The Happiness Project ASAP because I never read it. On the other hand, SO MUCH unexamined privilege I can barely handle it.

  2. Wow...This post really spoke to me. I have been thinking many similar thoughts. I felt like my resolution to regain fragments of who I once was...was rather vague. I am starting with my body. At 4 months postpartum I want to start working on losing weight and getting stronger(It just kind of coinsides with the new year). I was just telling my therapist the other day that I need to focus on things I have control over. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings out of my control that if I try and consciously focus on what I can change will be a really good step for me.

    I love the concept of being present. Unfortunately I am not always particularly good at it. Sometimes I feel like a 75 year old woman sitting on my porch swing sipping lemonade recalling the good old days. Eyes half mast with and slight smile. I think I get all sentimental about life prior to loss for all the reasons YOU and any BLM knows. I also am very aware of the amazing children I have here with me and part of me trying to get healthy after being pregnant or postpartum for 2 years! is that I have a lot of living to do.

    So I guess my vague resolution is an attempt toward health and hoping it with morph and transform into other aspects of my life.

    I can't make too many goals or I will lose focus and achieve less.

    Be deliberate! I love it! Awesome!

  3. Posting some of the outtakes from the 6 month photos would strengthen your case for professional photography.

  4. We totally need to set a "learn to crochet" date. On New Year's Eve I taught one of my best friends how to crochet, and within a couple of days she had made a scarf for her daughter, a hat for her AG doll, and a hat for her son. Which either means I am a pretty damn good teacher, or she just picked it up really quickly! :)

    I love the "deliberate" theme.


  5. You say deliberate, I say intentional. I'm with you there. It's a challenge for a girl with ADD but I want to do it. Your Pinterest is my Twitter.

  6. Oh. And that picture of Zuzu? She looks so OLD!! (And adorable. But OLD!)

  7. Awesome. I love this and it sounds like a direction I'd love to go. I need become more aware and concrete of my priorities as well.

  8. OMG Zuzu is so damn grown! I love January 2012 and January 2013 Zuzu- she's definitely come a long way since then!

    Deliberate sounds like a pretty good place to be. :)

    I take Grace every couple of months to a photo studio for pictures. It's $11/session and we get a bunch of copies of the same photo- I would much prefer a photographer capture the essence of Grace, but doing a studio session is my compromise with Scott.

    That being said, I do have big plans for a photographer for Grace's first birthday which will be my birthday gift. I can hardly wait! :)

  9. Great resolutions - I kinda wish we spent the money on a photographer for those milestones, but we did a lot up front with maternity, delivery and newborn. I can't believe how fast this year has been. How that precious little belly became that precious little baby. Just wow.

  10. I had so many things to say and then The Deuce sitting up grinning done shook 'em clear out mah head.

    Happy new year, Brooke.

  11. I'm pretty thrilled you referred to Caro as "The Deuce" once more. You know, for good measure.

    I feel as though the hat with a short-sleeved onesie, sans pants is definitely the way to go for that, too. :)

    I love the idea of being deliberate and really be accountable for that.