Tag Archives: resolutions

Getting In the Game

Happy New Year, friends!

What did you do to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Did you go to one of those big expensive parties? Did you get dressed up and smooch someone at midnight? Or did you fall asleep before the ball dropped? We hosted our own party around here, full of food and drink and a really great playlist crafted by yours truly.

A particularly bright and blue morning in Milwaukee.

A particularly bright and blue morning in Milwaukee.

It’s 2015! Doesn’t that just sound weird? I wrote a few emails before the New Year and I included dates for this month, and the number just looks funny to me. If you asked me about my favorite or lucky numbers, I like 4, 8, and multiples thereof. Like, if I’m going to have a handful of M&M’s, I like to have an even number of candies. Odd numbers are not my thing. On a superstitious and superficial level, I was pumped for 2014, simply because it ended in 4.

But on a much deeper level- beyond pointless superstitions- 2014 was a really, really good year. I graduated from college. I wrote a thesis and won honors for it. I ran a half-marathon. I got a job! I moved to not one, but two cities. Highlights from those adventures include driving a pick-up truck for four beautiful weeks, as well as getting an apartment after just half a day of showings. New friends just recently entered the picture towards the end of the year, and my old friends continued to amaze me with their patience, love, and wisdom. And my family in general just rocked 2014. We killed it and ended on a crazy high note.

Celebrating! With bubbly and party nails.

Celebrating! With bubbly and party nails.

So as you can probably understand, I was a little sad to say goodbye to 2014. New Year’s Eve was bittersweet. 2014 was a blast. I didn’t want it to end!

But then, I started thinking about what is really the difference between years, or rather, what is so different between December 31st and January 1st? It’s all about a mindset. It’s all about viewing the year as a blank slate and giving yourself a fresh start. On January 1st, I finally took some steps towards fiscal responsibility. I opened up a 401(k), made my first student loan payment, and drafted a budget. This was something I really needed to be doing in, say, June, but something about the new year pushed me to get it done.

Besides that mindset, though, if you think about it, there isn’t a ton of difference between the last week of December 2014 and the first week of January 2015. I’m most excited about keeping up the momentum from the end of the year and letting that roll right into 2015. Big things have happened and big things will keep happening! The new year is just a great opportunity to take advantage of all that good energy and movement forward.

We always have a fire on New Year's Eve. I like to think of it as symbolic and festive.

We always have a fire on New Year’s Eve. I like to think of it as symbolic and festive. Mostly though it’s fun and for warmth.

Let’s talk resolutions, shall we?

In previous years, I’ve sat down and made a giant list of resolutions falling under a few different categories. Generally, this results in very little progress or change made. Think about it: what is effective or focused about 100 resolutions that you’re supposed to start all at once on January 1st?

This year, I just decided to start on a few things that, if done successfully, could motivate me to do more in the future. I decided I’d rather accomplish a small number of resolutions and do them well, than attack too many and end up not making an effort.

First up was managing my finances. The 401(k) is set up. Once it’s done, it’s done. I’m not going back and undoing what I did! The next was starting my student loan payments. Granted, that’s not something that’s an option, but it was a good move to pay ahead of time, rather than wait until the due date. Last was drafting a budget. This will be the biggest ongoing effort, because it requires entering my expenses into a spreadsheet- and thus, knowing exactly what I’m spending and where. While I haven’t been throwing my money away, I want to be more mindful of where everything is going, and where I can make adjustments.

Next up is always fitness. Last year I ran a half-marathon, which was a major athletic accomplishment for me. Since then, I’ve more or less stopped running. This year, I want to pick it back up, so I’m going to find a 10K to run in the first six months of the year. I also need to find a way to work on strength training, but without a specific goal, I know it will be difficult to stick to it. Any tips are welcome!

Another is wasting less food. This falls under both health and fitness. I need to find ways to cook what I have until it’s gone, without getting bored of what I’m eating. I will remind you of the time I ate nothing but burrito bowls and garlic shrimp in Amarillo for several weeks. Yeah. I’m not doing that again. Wasting food makes me feel guilty and annoyed- not just for the money lost, but also for throwing something away that I’m fortunate to have, and others are not.

My other major resolution is to get involved in the community. I just moved to a big city, and the time is right to learn more about it and meet more people. My university has a large and active alumni base in this area- I think that’s a good way to start. I’m also trying to settle on a parish, one that I’ll feel comfortable participating in however I can. All of that will get me out of my apartment, into the city, and building relationships.

A few more will be coming once I start these others- maybe I’ll try not to look at my phone the second my alarm goes off in the morning, and unplug from it well before bedtime at night. Maybe I’ll recommit to learning Portuguese. Maybe I’ll start meditating once a day. Maybe I’ll try to read more news.

But let’s start small and mindfully, okay? Everything in its own time- not all at once.

Happy New Year, friends! May 2015 be your best year yet.

With love,

Gaby

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January: en fin

Oh heyyyy. I’m sticking with the biweekly post commitment, friends. I didn’t have any brilliant ideas or things to write about this time around. I thought about writing about baking, and I realized that I haven’t baked anything since I came back to school. I thought about writing about Chile-sickness, but I’ve dealt with that basically every single time I post. So I’ll give you a break this time. Then I remembered that I actually made New Year’s resolutions, and since a month of the new year has already passed (crazy talk), I decided that this could be a good opportunity to recap how those resolutions/possibilities/intentions are going.

So. I said I’d try Meatless Mondays. I don’t think I’ve done it even one Monday yet. Granted, I don’t eat meat at every single meal. If there’s fish, I’ll get fish. Eh. I’ll give it another shot. I also thought that I’d try to eat fewer carbs on the days where I don’t have half-marathon training runs. But what you eat the day or two before a longer run, not just the day of, really matters, and that includes good carbs. Also, I have fallen in love with the panini maker in the dining hall and can make a perfect chicken caprese AND an egg and cheese sandwich. So there’s that.

Speaking of the half-marathon…we’re seven weeks out from race day and training is going pretty well. I hit six miles this week and actually felt really good. My legs were kind of confused as to what had just happened, but I ran at a pace I was very happy with, and I was not miserably sore the next day.

A new favorite from Gabriela Mistral.

A new favorite from Gabriela Mistral.

Another resolution I had was to be in bed around 1 AM and get up at 8:30 every weekday. I mostly get up around 8:30, but bedtime at 1 is a little challenging. But I’m working on it. The nights that I turn the lights out before 2 are much more numerous than they have been in recent years, so I consider that an improvement. One thing I’ve been doing more often- which I thought I’d do all last semester but basically never happened- is reading a little bit before I go to sleep. Right now I’m working through an anthology of Gabriela Mistral’s poetry and essays. Mistral is one of my favorite poets. She wrote beautifully in Spanish on a wide variety of topics: Chile, faith, motherhood, womanhood, and education, among others. Her poetry often reads like a prayer, and that’s a nice thing to have right before bed.

I’ve also been journaling almost every single night. Taking five to ten minutes just to write down my thoughts on the day is so very helpful. It’s calming, and it lets me work out whatever happened that day and let go before the next day arrives. At the end of every entry I write down five things I’m thankful for, and five things I’d like to pray for. I strongly recommend doing this if you think you’re a busy person without time for much reflection- even if you don’t want to write a full journal entry, putting down five moments of gratitude and five moments of prayer can do wonders to deepen your faith, and the gratitude in particular can easily brighten your perspective on a rough day.

Candles at the feet of St. Bernadette at the Grotto.

Candles at the feet of St. Bernadette at our Grotto.

One resolution that I really need to work on is getting over to the Grotto, a very special place of prayer on campus. My goal is to get there five times per week- and I think I’ve been there less than ten times total over the whole semester thus far. It’s been very, very cold. A poor excuse, I know, but that’s really it. You can’t spend any time there because it’s so cold it’s almost unsafe to be outside. I always stop by the Grotto after an outdoor run, but it’s been beyond my cold tolerance to run outside. Hopefully the weather will finally warm up, and I’ll get down there more often. Or, I will refocus this resolution and just go downstairs to our dorm’s chapel. There really aren’t any good excuses for this one.

My shining resolution of the month, besides half-marathon training, was writing and sending at least one card or note to someone every week. I sent several during my first week back at school, and I’ve been good at coming up with new people to send them to each week. It helps that my youngest brother got me these adorable blank greeting cards that have a pretty dessert on the front and the recipe on the back. Even in the age of Facebook and Instagram, and the slow sad death of the post office, stationery and cards are still excellent gift ideas!

I think that’s all for now! Valentine’s Day is approaching. There will be sweet things to eat. And you will see pictures.

How are your resolutions going? Have you given up or are you still going strong? Do you have any suggestions as to how you keep pushing along month after month of the year?

Happy February, friends! With love,

Gaby

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New year, new possibilities

Happy New Year! / ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

How do you feel about 2014? I’m excited. I like the number. My favorite numbers end in 4 and 8, so I already have a good feeling. Besides that, it’s just a big year! I graduate from college in May. MAY. Four months away. Uhh, when did that happen?! Just yesterday I was a homesick freshman, then a once-again actress sophomore, then abroad as a junior, and now…I don’t know what this year will bring me. And there’s something kind of terrifying but exhilarating about that.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

The last sunset of the year. Hazy and subtle.

I spent the end of the year with my family. My immediate family is the only one that lives in the Midwest- everyone else lives in in New York State (no, not the city). So between Christmas and the New Year is a very important time of year for us to get together and catch up. My dad’s family in particular has made New Year’s Eve THE family party of the year. And since I’d completely missed our summer reunions while I was working in Chile this year, I was especially excited to get back on the road.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

A round of Mexican Train with my maternal grandparents. We play to win.

It’s probably how I’ve been raised, but I’ve never been to into the kind of New Year’s where you get super dressed-up and spend all night drinking and dancing in a big party with lots of strangers. I prefer to drink and dance with those I love the most, and that’s my family.

My dad, uncle, and brother built a huge fire. They used up a whole cord of wood, and then some. It was freezing outside, but you couldn’t stand closer than a foot from the fire and have to shut your eyes from the heat.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn't do justice to its actual size.

Can you feel the heat? The picture doesn’t do justice to its actual size.

I made a chocolate cream slab pie, courtesy of How Sweet Eats. Jess is one of my favorite bloggers! And if you have questions or comments about her posts,  she’s pretty awesome about responding! If you’re looking for a dessert that will feed a crowd and impress them too, this is a good one to try.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It's a little bit broken, but it works.

Pre-made pie crust, rolled out to fit a 9 x 13 foil pan. It’s a little bit broken, but it works.

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don't let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It's okay. Just keep stirring it!

Chocolate pudding filling, from scratch. Don’t let the boiling and the cheesy smell before the chocolate is added freak you out. It’s okay. Just keep stirring it!

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

Ta-da! It was creamy and rich and not too sweet. If you want to get really fancy, use chocolate shavings, not sprinkles.

On New Year’s Day, it was brilliantly sunny, and I took a few trips down my aunt and uncle’s hill on the tobaggon. In an effort to avoid sledding into trees and pricklebushes, and away from a newly frozen lake, I wiped out every time.

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

We ate a lot of food in seven days. A lot. Of course I took pictures.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

When in New York, get your fill of pizza and wings.

Ted's Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

Ted’s Fish Fry. A must-have when in the Capitol District.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

On our second to last night, we made steak and boiled live lobsters. The salad makes us feel better about ourselves.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle's house. I wish I'd remembered them.

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza. The leftovers stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house. I wish I’d remembered them.

I took the time that I had in the car on the way home allowed me to think about my resolutions for the year. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to call them “resolutions.” Another aunt is calling them “possibilities-” it’s a possibility and YOU have to make it happen! Tracy at Shutterbean is calling them intentions, which is another nice way to think of whatever else you want to do differently this year. I came up with three categories: physical, academic/professional, and spiritual/mental. I then decided on five resolutions/possibilities/intentions for each category, bringing me to a grand total of fifteen. Does that sound like a lot? I’m pretty sure that last year I had about four pages worth of resolutions last year. And I’m also pretty sure that I accomplished almost none of them. I’ve read in various places that it’s much easier and more beneficial to pick smaller, simpler goals rather than try to overhaul every aspect of your life starting on January 1st.

A few examples? My university hosts a half-marathon each year- and I’m going to run it! I also want to try Meatless Mondays, which I may step up to Meatless Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. I live by my planner to begin with, but I think I’m going to use it more wisely and try to schedule my work very specifically each day and each week. I have a thesis to write, and scheduling blocks of time for that, and blocks of time for all of my other work, will help me be more efficient and focused. My mental and spiritual goals include limiting Facebook time to just twice a day, visiting the Grotto on campus at least five times per week, and journaling every day, even if just for five minutes.

For physical goals, it’s about pushing my limits and working harder. For academic and professional goals, it’s about being more efficient and more successful, and avoiding those last-minute waves of work. For mental and spiritual goals, it’s about being more reflective and self-enforcing quiet time. Because you can make time for anything if you want to.

Do you have any resolutions? Any suggestions as to how you’ve found success with your resolutions in the past? Let me know in the comments! And if you’re new here, say hi!

If you’re in the US, and particularly in the Midwest, stay warm in this icebox. And please pray for those who are homeless or can’t stay cuddled up inside. If you’re in Chile or another region where it’s summer…just. Don’t even.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and may 2014 be your best year yet.

With love,

Gaby

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What Keeps Me Going

You might remember from my New Year’s resolutions post that I am trying to improve my writing and continue blogging. One of the ways I’m going to do this is to try using the prompts found on The Daily Post, a great WordPress blog for beginning bloggers, or for anyone who needs to mix up their writing. I’m using a daily prompt from last week for this post.

I’m a smart person. I like knowing things. I don’t like not knowing how things are going to end; it makes me feel unsafe and a little lost. Life, unfortunately, doesn’t work the way I’d like it to. It gets all screwy. You think you’re headed down one path and then you take one pretty fantastic class and all of a sudden all the “plans” you’d had made up in your head don’t look right anymore. Especially when you’re my age, certainly not a kid but not really an adult yet, but so close to making real grown-up decisions, that feeling of confusion makes for some fun anxiety.

And that’s where this quote comes in:

“I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which would not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer…”

Rainer Maria Rilke

This quote just says everything. It asks for patience and wants you to live life as it is right now. It pushes me to live in the present and quit worrying so much about doing the “right” things and wanting to know the ending. Because knowing the ending kind of spoils everything, doesn’t it? It’s a lot about letting go of control and keeping faith that it will all work out. Because it does. It will. This applies to so many things: college, careers, relationships, all of it. Trying to live by this quote has helped me a lot. Rolling with the uncertainty, as uncomfortable and anxious as it can be, has led me down an entirely different path, to different countries, to wonderful new people, and I’m more excited about what’s happening now than I was on the last “path” I thought I was on.

The next quote is similar:

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

Max Ehrmann, “The Desiderata”

I encourage you to find the whole Desiderata online; it’s a beautiful poem and says a lot of really wonderful things about life. But this quote has always come back to me. As you can see, it’s a lot like the first quote. But it also reminds me that part of the reason everything will work out is that I belong here, and I’m supposed to be here, and I’m here to make a difference and be a beautiful part of this world. I just might not be able to see how that works out right away.

The last one is from the Gospel of Matthew:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?…But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you- you of little faith?…So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Mt 6:25-34, from the NRSV Catholic Youth Bible

This passage is a great reminder that God takes care of all of us. Look at how wonderful and beautiful the world is! Yes, there are bad things, but I bet if you count every bad thing, you can find five or ten good things. Really. With all of the awesomeness around us, why should we worry? Everything eventually is taken care of, even if we don’t know it.

So these are the things I turn to when I worry or get stressed out. Another thing that helps me manage is exercise. It just gets me out of my head for a while. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been trying to go on morning walks. Here’s what it looks like through Instagram (@gmtnunez):

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I also manage with baking. Here are some brown sugar bacon biscuits I made with my lovely friend E. last week. They blew my mind. Eat them. Love them. Be happy.

IMG_0236

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That’s all I’ve got for now, folks! I’m going back to school next week. Wish me luck!

With love,

Gaby

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The 2013 User’s Manual

(You’re getting two posts in one day because I had already written 700 words about cookies and if I had kept writing it would have been too much. This will probably be too much anyways.)

This year, I am calling my New Year’s resolutions my user’s manual or guidebook to 2013. This is because I have four pages of goals, specific actions, and motivation to achieve those goals. Yup. 4 pages.

Well, okay, 2 pages front and back.

Well, okay, 2 pages front and back.

Yeah, I’m a little nuts. I think you would have figured that out by now though.

This is how it works. I can’t just write down, “Lose weight,” or “Exercise more,” or “Eat better.” I need to have specific ways to achieve those resolutions. This year, I have five over-arching “resolutions.” They are:

1. Put good things in your body.

2. Make your body work.

3. Be pretty.

4. Work better.

5. Who are you? Be you.

(And by the way, by saying that I want to eat better and exercise more, this is not a cry for compliments. I’m not saying I hate the way I look. I don’t. I actually look better than I did in high school. But I know I could look even better, and this year, I might just do it.)

Under those five big directions- I like direction more than resolution, I guess- I have various actions that will help make 2013 the fabulously spectacular year that I want it to be.

Here’s a sampling:

Under “Put good things in your body:” I’d like to give Meatless Mondays a go. I want to try and lay off the caffeine, and keep drinking herbal tea at night. I’d like to eat less at night, so I’m going to brush my teeth earlier in the night, so I’m less tempted to grab a snack.

Under “Make your body work:” I’m already a pretty consistent exerciser, but in terms of intensity and variety, I’m missing out. So I’m going to make it hard when it gets easy. I’m going to try something that I think I might not like- like running outside in the winter, for example. I would like to do 10 real push-ups by March.

Under “Be pretty:” I’m going to try and dress nicely all the time, even if I’m just working the library all day. This helps me focus, I swear. I want to paint my nails most weeks. I’m going to play with my hair and try new things.

Under “Work better:” So I don’t get caught procrastinating too much, I’d like to brainstorm ideas for papers and projects when I just have a few minutes. I should try going to office hours. I will only go on Facebook once in the morning and once at night. I’m going to keep my to-do list concise and manageable.

Under “Be you:” I’m going to say yes more. I need to live it up more. No, dear parents and relatives, that does not mean I will be going to the bar every night. But I need to try some new things, whether it be a new exercise, different foods, or another extracurricular activity. Now is the time to do all the stuff I keep saying I’m going to do, all the stuff I think I’ll have time for later. Well, it’s later, and the time is now.

When I think or say something negative about someone, I will try to think or say something positive about them as well. I’m going to journal as much as I can. I want to compile an awesome list.

So those are the actions or things to keep in mind. Then I have actual, tangible goals I’d like to achieve, things that I can cross off and say, “Yes! I did that!”  Among those are: run 5 miles; go to Mass more than 4 times a month (aka, more than just on Sundays); take or post a photo a day; remember all of the birthdays in my family; and take a minimum of two days per month without social networking.

The last part of this is the words to live by. These are just buzzwords I’d like to keep in mind when I find myself falling into old habits and patterns. Among them: Efficiency. Brilliance. Grace. Faith. Stillness. Slowness. Chances. Patience. God. Questions. Learn. Work. Try. Challenge. Beauty.

I know it sounds like a lot, and I guess it is, but for me, this is much easier to handle than general resolutions. It makes things more concrete, and I can visualize what the end result will be. And I really like what I’m visualizing.

I haven’t done much baking since Christmas. I’ve been busy with other things, and my body feels better for it. Here’s a little of what the day-to-day has looked like, via Instagram (@gmtnunez, if you’re on that wagon and would like to follow along):

Cold and beautiful morning.

Cold and beautiful morning.

27 turkeys were in my backyard the other morning.

27 turkeys were in my backyard the other morning. No, I don’t live in the middle of nowhere.

The end of the day. I missed this.

The end of the day. I missed this.

I hope many of you have seen Forrest Gump. If not, please do and we’ll be better friends. In the movie, Forrest celebrates New Year’s in NYC with Lt. Dan and his exotic dancer “friends.” When the clock nears midnight, one of the girls says she loves New Year’s because everyone gets to start over. “Everybody gets a second chance.”

I’m feeling a little bit like that this year. I have a lot of new stuff coming up for which I’m absolutely pumped, but on the other hand, I’m also getting some second chances- with Santiago, with my studies, with some people. I want those chances.

And I’m taking them. I hope you take yours, too.

Please comment, tell me about your resolutions, what you think of mine, whatever! I do love hearing from all of you!

Happy New Year! May 2013 be your best year yet.

With love,

Gaby

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