If I didn’t make it clear yesterday, I’m pretty excited that I managed to write for sixty days. I thought about taking a break after sixty days, but I want to do another thirty and see where I am after that.
I’m going to (try to) focus on three main things over the next thirty days. Working on my list of thirty things I want to do now that I’m thirty, which I will include below, so it will all be in one place; taking a break from all forms of alcohol; and not eating out for a single meal. As always, I will end up writing about whatever else pops into my head, but that will be the general focus.
I want to take some time to focus on the list because otherwise it would be easy to just forget about it. A lot of things on the list are too abstract to measure exactly, and some are long-term goals that will be more easily assessed in six months or a year, but some things, like “see the sun rise and set on a beach,” or “organize my spice rack,” can be checked off pretty easily. I will try to focus on one item from the list every couple of days. For easy reference, here is the list (I put it in a block quote because I don’t know else to set it apart):
1. I want to write thank you notes at least 50% of the time, increasing to 75% of the time within the next five years.
2. I want to shave my legs every time I shower, or at least 90% of the time. Now that I’m not going to spend ten months out of the year hiding under long pants, it seems like a worthwhile goal.
3. I want to keep my car clean, or what passes for clean with four young children and a dog.
4. I want to go thirty days without eating out for a single meal.
5. I want to start every day with fifteen minutes of stretching and praying for thirty days, and eventually start every day that way.
6. I want to pluck my stray chin hairs within two days of noticing them in the mirror.
7. I want to worry 10% less about the people in my life who wish me harm.
8. I want to see the sun rise and the sun set on a beach.
9. I want to worry 25% less about money at the end of the year.
10. I want to plant and grow something edible.
11. I want to make at least three friends I actually like, who actually like me.
12. I want to organize my spice rack. Not necessarily in alphabetical order, but using some recognizable system.
13. I want to learn how to cry when I need to cry, even though I know I am the world’s ugliest crier.
14. I want to write something every day. Whether it ends up being for the blog every day or not, I’m not sure, but I want to take that time every day.
15. I want to take the time to do an honest appraisal of the relationships in my life, to consider what I bring to the relationship, what I get out of it, and why I’m in it.
16. I want to care 25% less about what people think about me in general, 50% less about what people think about how I look, and 50% less about what people think about my accent.
17. I want to care 75% less about what people think about my writing.
18. I want to do one thing over the next year that really scares me. Something that requires squeezing my eyes shut tight and holding my breath. It might be karaoke.
19. I want to write or make or do something for each of my children that will last for decades. Something they wouldn’t appreciate much now, but will love when they are older.
20. I want to learn how to paddle board. How hard can it be?
21. I want to take the time to read one real grownup book, just for fun. HW bought me Andy Cohen’s book and I bought A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing and I desperately want to read both, but they have been sitting on a shelf for months.
22. I want to figure out whether I’m going to take a bar exam or go back to school. Or become a professional paddle boarder/reader of fun books.
23. I want to improve my foreign language skills by an entire level. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’ll know it when I see it. Also, I would like to think about the fact that I find myself using that line as often as I do, and admit to myself that some part of me will always be a nerd who references Justice Stewart with more ease than Jon Stewart.
24. I want to consistently drink more water. I already drink more water than any person I know, but some days I forget, and I always feel better when I remember.
25. I want to be more direct with people when I disagree. I don’t want to care less about how people feel exactly, but I guess I want to trust them to handle my directness like grownups.
26. I want to understand that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved.
27. I want to learn how to cook one dish well, just because I love it.
28. I want to take the time to do yoga three times per week.
29. I want to get my hair cut when I have split ends, get a facial when I “need” a facial, get a pedicure when my feet start to look lumpy, and have a wax when I need a wax.
30. I want to learn how to do something new and artistic, or improve some artistic skill I already have.
I’m also going to write about what it feels like to take a thirty day break from alcohol, and a thirty day break from eating out. I’ve read a lot about people taking thirty days off from consuming alcohol, and I think it’s an interesting idea. I think the plan is aimed at people younger than I am, or at least people living younger lives than what I live, but I can’t imagine taking a break could be bad for my health. I’m not sure it will matter much for my overall health either, because I don’t drink enough that there will be any kind of extreme change, but I am curious to see if a few glasses of wine every week make a difference.
I’ve taken breaks before, but it has always been for some specific purpose. In college I didn’t drink much because a dear friend died in a car accident. Alcohol was involved in the wreck, and although it is unclear exactly what role it played, it was a devastating and life-changing event, and taking a break from alcohol seemed like a smart choice. I also abstained from alcohol during all four pregnancies. I understand that doctors now say it is permissible to have an occasional glass of wine, and my last doctor openly encouraged it, but it was never something I felt comfortable doing, and although I have been pressured into doing a lot of things for a lot of reasons, I pretty consistently draw the line at anything that could put my children in danger.
All of these breaks were different, because I was not particularly tuned in to how my body was feeling, or rather, I suppose during the pregnancies my body was feeling so many different things, the lack of alcohol was not something that registered. Now that I’m thirty and not pregnant, I have some idea how my body normally feels, and although things are busy, I should be able to note any substantial differences.
I also feel, and this is related to not eating out, that our money could be better spent on other things. We’re not buying $100 bottles of wine or anything, but it still adds up. Our kids are in private school, and they like to do activities, and we like to take them to cultural events, and we like to travel. I would rather let my son sign up for an extra activity at school or give our children the opportunity to explore a new city than have a glass of wine when I feel like it. I also have the sneaking suspicion that we are going to have some fairly significant legal bills coming up in the near future, and although I was once caught unprepared in that regard, I will never be in that position again.
I will admit the timing on the not eating out could be better. We are starting a new school year, which will require packing three snacks and one lunch, or four snacks and two lunches, every day, HW’s work schedule is full and demanding, and eating out is just so damn convenient.
Still, this is a new beginning, and that is, I think, the best time to make a change like this. I have my excitement and enthusiasm to energize me, and that counts for something.
The biggest challenge is making a plan and sticking to it. When things in our life were calmer, more than eighteen months ago now, I made meal plans at least two weeks in advance, and I made almost everything from scratch.* It took a lot of time, but I actually enjoyed it, and the kids loved it. They loved knowing I made the food for them, and they loved helping in the kitchen. It will take a little more organization and some commitment, but we can do that again, and I want to do it again.
No booze, in any form, unless a recipe calls for wine or beer and it will be cooked. I can’t think of any of my recipes that require that at the moment, but I want to cover all of my bases. If there is a cocktail party or special event, I will drink seltzer and lime, or water with lemon. No exceptions.** No eating out, no carry out, no delivery. If we go to visit family or friends and they order food in, or invite us out, that is permissible, but I cannot initiate, or cause or encourage HW to initiate it. Similarly, if HW has a work event that is catered, or has some kind of working breakfast, lunch, or dinner, that is also fine. We are new here, and it’s too early to be purposefully weird, even for us. I am not worried about what this will mean for date nights, because the chances are pretty good we won’t have another for three or four months, long after the thirty day challenge is over. This rule also applies to snacks. If we travel or have a picnic, stopping at Starbucks for a protein box is not an option. We will pack our own snacks. However, if something unexpected comes up and the children are hungry, or we need to buy water, obviously that is a different story.
I am excited about all of the new challenges that start tomorrow. For now, I have some more cooking and planning to do.
*We still ate out, but it was something that was scheduled and planned, and we were in a different financial position back then.
**Of course, I am Catholic, so I will not have any restrictions when it comes to Communion, because that is not wine that I am drinking.