04 Jan 10 Essentials for 2018 (AKA My New Year Resolutions)
2017 was a roller-coaster ride of a year: went to Cuba for the 4th time, got hit by an Uber driver, established a 110 gallon saltwater fish tank, incurred property damage from Hurricane Irma, visited Paris and went on a road trip through Morocco, went back up on aerial silks after a loooong hiatus, got to meet the most adorable baby in the world; my new nephew Haru, witnessed one of my best friends and my brother-in-law get married after I introduced them 5 years ago, lost a friend who passed away unexpectedly, and celebrated my 17th year wedding anniversary and the end of 2017 in Mexico City. As we say hello to 2018, I look to the past and the future to generate my 2018 goals and resolutions.
- Write daily.
I used to be a prolific writer. I would write short stories every day when I was in my early teens. At 16, one of my essays was published nationally. I even had aspirations of being a novelist at one time. These hopes were dashed by the Asian practical mentality of studying Medicine instead of Creative Writing and the individuality-repressing environment of the US military. After a lengthy interlude, I must go back to writing. They say you can never be truly exceptional at anything unless you devote over 10,000 hours of practice to it. So, in 2018, I will attempt to write every day, no matter how terse, trivial, or terrible the writing may be.
- Read more.
Lately, with the universality of smartphones and electronic devices, I find myself having “less and less time” to read. Instead, I start my day browsing through the Dailymail or Buzzfeed app and going through Instagram and Facebook yet do not feel more informed, inspired, or mentally nourished. Instead, I feel my IQ dropped a few points after. I will attempt to read 3 books a month and maybe even join a book club this year. I gotta get my MENSA status back… ;p
- Travel, travel, and more travel
They say that bang for your buck, travel is the best education and experience money can buy. Last year, I traveled to Cuba, Paris, Morocco, and Mexico City. It felt more rewarding than buying a designer handbag or a statement shoe. And, I learned a smattering of French and Arabic to boot. In 2018, I am thinking about going back to Tokyo, the Philippines, London, Paris (again), and possibly sneak in a mini-break to Havana.
- Eat better and workout
This does not mean going on a diet. This means learning to listen to my body, eat when I am hungry and (most importantly, and the hardest thing to do) stop eating when I am full. Will try to channel the Okinawan centenarians. This means not eating an entire pound of bacon or a bag of potato chips in one sitting. This means using up all my ClassPass credits before my month is up, or walking at least 10,000 steps a day, and fitting into my old bodycon dresses that I am saving for when I am back to where I want to be. I also plan to give myself alcohol credits instead of giving it up cold turkey. Every month, I am allocating only 5 days where I can drink alcohol and use them up how I want. I feel like that is more than enough. This is the only body I will ever have, and I need to treat it well if I want to live a life that I can enjoy for decades.
I used to volunteer at a Buddhist center in Miami every Saturday. I felt like I generated a lot of good karma and it was a form of meditation in itself. Thinking about restarting it or doing something similar. Also recently volunteered to help at one of my favorite monthly events, The Moth, a live story-telling event. I’m super excited about this as I dream of eventually summoning the courage to go up on The Moth stage and tell a story. Studies show that individuals who volunteer have enhanced happiness and self-satisfaction, are in better physical shape, and are less depressed. Who wouldn’t want any of these things?
- Learn to sew.
Like any good Catholic schoolgirl, I had to learn how to cook, bake, and sew in Home Economics classes. I still crochet and knit here and there, but I want to be one of those domestic goddesses who can whip up an incredible outfit at a drop of a hat by using their grand old sewing machine. After my no-buy January campaign (see below), I will look at acquiring a very simple sewing machine to do mini fashion projects. After all, I don’t watch Project Runway or RuPaul’s Drag Race for nothing.
- Minimize and simplify
We all have those days when we look at our closet and think, “I have nothing to wear…” when we have a closet full of clothes. Studies show that the less options we have, the happier we turn out to be. So, my goal is to have less stuff this year. The mantra is all about quality and not quantity. And, if you know me well, you know that for the past few years, I stopped buying clothes and shoes that were made in China for ethical, sustainability, and political reasons. I am trying to do away with easily disposable goods and buying stuff that lasts. I have three initiatives in place:
- No buy January-Exactly what it says. No electronics, household goods, clothes or accessories, shoes, make-up or unnecessary products, kitchenware, books, etc. in the month of January. The longer I can extend it, the happier I think I will be.
- Lotus House Clothes Swap-Every year for the past 3 years, during my birthday, my girlfriends and I get together at the Lotus House Thrift Chic Boutique and do a clothes swap. We get some “new” stuff, drink some wine, eat good food, and help shelter women and children who are victims of domestic violence. We get rid of stuff we never use or wear anymore and place it in a loving home with a friend that we know will take care of it well.
- Finish Marie Kondo’s book–Marie Kondo, the Japanese guru for organization and decluttering, wrote the most incredible book that has changed people’s lives. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was not a New York Times bestseller for nothing. I need to finish this so it can change my live as well and not only declutter my home, but declutter my life.
- Make music
In the 90’s, everyone had a guitar or was in a band. I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was 12 years old. Back then, I used to play every day. Not very well, mind you, but it was something that I loved. I now have a vintage acoustic guitar that I rarely pick up. Lately, I would rather watch episodes of Top Chef or the Great British Bake Off than play it, but when I do, I always really enjoy myself and come away with a great sense of accomplishment. I resolve to pick up the old strings once a week.
- Learn/master a new language
I have been teaching myself Spanish for the past two years. My grammar is horrific but I have improved from when I started. However, I am still very bashful about practicing it on a regular basis. My typical speaking partners are the Lyft or Uber drivers who do not speak a lick of English and they appreciate the effort. I just need to get over the fear of being laughed at and dive in with my less than mejor Spanish. Weirdly enough, I do not have this insecurity when I travel overseas because speaking it is a necessity. So, I am going to dust off DuoLingo and keep at it for 5 mins at least every other day.
- Meditate and practice mindfulness
The Taoist monk, Lie Yukou, once said, “Those who travel outward seek completeness in things; those who gaze inward find sufficiency in themselves”. This is perhaps, the most important resolution of them all. Inner peace is so difficult to achieve, especially when there is so much stimulation from social media, Netflix, the internet, the 24-hour news cycle, Miami drivers and rush hour, and the Miami social calendar. I think, now, more than ever, I need to ground myself in silence and stillness that meditation brings. I was less irritated, more patient, more compassionate, slow to anger, and happier when I would meditate regularly. I started going to Jasmyn Russell’s classes at Greenmonkey Yoga and I will resume attending meditation classes at Miami Kadampa Buddhist Center. Because as the venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso says, “Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible”.
So here’s to the New Year! May it be more incredible than last year. May I stick to my resolutions and be a better me in 2019.
Lots of love,