Oh, 2014. You were some year. Some year, all right.
At the beginning of the year, I said that instead of setting goals or making resolutions, I was going to set an intention for the year and try to live by that intention – turning 2014, ideally, into one long yoga practice. My intention for 2014 was “a better life.” So rather than assign myself tasks with the plan of grading my efforts at the end of the year, I just wanted to live better. (I mean, I always want to live better… but in 2014, I really wanted to make a practice of it.)
Of course, I had some ideas about what “a better life” would look like. I’ve put a few of them into practice, and ifallen short on others – isn’t that always the way?
A better life means getting organized. This is always a process, isn’t it? I am doing… okay… on the organizing front. I really wanted to organize my life while we were living in our little city rental, especially because just on the basis of square footage, it was a major downsizing. But then… opportunities happened, and I found myself heading back to the office, which both gave me less time to organize things and also gave us the financial wherewithal to buy a bigger house. So we did that. And I’ve been gradually unpacking and organizing the new place ever since. I wish it was a faster-moving process – I don’t think anyone enjoys living in a sea of boxes – but my parents’ hardworking visit back in November certainly helped me move in the right direction.
A better life means a life lived outside. I think that I did really well living my life outside last year. We enjoyed family hikes almost every weekend, including four seasons of hiking at Tifft Nature Preserve, multiple visits to Knox Farm, a trip to Letchworth with our friends Zan and Paul, and even our first two Adirondack high peaks! In addition to all the hiking, we spent hours exploring our city neighborhood and then, later, our big country yard. I ran three half marathons. We hosted Peanut’s second birthday party at Chestnut Ridge State Park. We’ve just made it a family habit to spend our time outdoors whenever we can, and I’m proud of that.
A better life means unplugging. Meh. I could have done better with this one. I’ve done relatively well with not being on my phone when I’m hanging out with Peanut, because I want her to have my full attention, and scrolling through Twitter is not giving her my full attention. But another thing I wanted to do this year was use Instagram more to capture daily moments for our family. So I’m still holding my phone up quite a lot, chasing the perfect adorable shot. I’m not sure how to balance this, but I’m working on it. I always feel a little guilty about the incessant picture-taking, but I like having those memories.
A better life means running a race that scares me. This didn’t happen. I had high hopes for tackling the big, bad 26.2 this year, but life (pregnancy) intervened. I deferred on my registration for the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon and hope to be ready to run it in October of 2015 instead.
A better life means cooking more. I think I did decently well with this. It was a challenge for awhile, when we were living in our crummy rental with the worst kitchen ever (seriously, even my pocket-sized kitchen in my first law school apartment was at least cute, with pretty stainless steel counters). But once we moved into our new house, with its beautiful kitchen (made even more beautiful by the installation of a Bosch double wall oven, come to mama) it’s been a lot easier to feel inspired. I’m hoping that translates into even more cooking in the new year… and who knows? Maybe I’ll even have the occasional recipe to share on here again.
A better life means exploring my new environment. Working on this one, always. I’m not going to lie to you and say that I don’t miss DC every single day. Still, after more than a year of living in WNY. But I’ve been working on finding new happy places – looking for new local hiking trails to explore, getting to know Tifft Nature Preserve in every season, letting Peanut run around Knox Farm, grabbing a tea in East Aurora before a family stroll, working out at Glen Falls Park with my local mom friends… and I know there are lots more great places here, just waiting for me to find them.
A better life means improving someone else’s life. I’ve done my best with this one, and tried to keep a focus on donating my time and money where I could this year. I spent about five months of the year (and a few months in 2013, too) volunteering as a tutor for Literacy New York, but ultimately had to take a step back. I was paired with a student who did not really have the time for tutoring, and no-call-no-showed about half of our scheduled sessions, leaving me frustrated when I’d spend two hours sitting in the library waiting for her. The program directors were in the process of placing me with a different student (nothing personal, but they have a waiting list and it’s not fair to make others cool their heels while one student only comes to half the sessions) but work heated up and we were in the lengthy process of looking for housing, so I went inactive on the volunteer rolls rather than commit time I no longer had. I’m still hoping to get back to it, but with everything that’s been going on and with a new baby on the way, it’s probably not going to be an option for awhile. After I withdrew from active volunteering, I made it a priority to donate my money instead, and over the year I’ve given to several causes that I feel strongly about, donating to both national and local organizations. I’m proud that I’ve made donations a priority this year and plan to continue, but I’m also looking forward to the day when I can share the joy of volunteering with Peanut. I want her to grow up with volunteering as a big part of her life, and I can’t wait for mother-daughter trips to pack food at the local food bank. That’d be chaos right now, though (can you imagine?!) so monetary contributions will be the focus for at least a few years.
Overall, I tried hard to live well in 2014. There’s always room for improvement, but we did better our lives in a major way when we moved out of our cramped city rental and into a big, comfortable country home, when we focused on spending time together as a family outdoors, and when we worked on exploring our new region and finding places and things to enjoy together and separately. And next year should be even better – with a new little buddy to love and shower with kisses and snuggles, and a whole year to fix up our new living space and make it more “us” – I can’t wait.