Sunday 28 February 2016

Project 36

During the last few hours of the old year, on the way to work, I was struck by an idea. Ever since reading Elizabeth Gilbert's fantastic book Big Magic (seriously, read it, it's life-changing in the best way possible!), I am more aware of the presence of ideas around me. I got a first conscious glimpse of it when I started blogging three years ago, but nobody had ever put it in such powerful words like Liz did - that ideas are disembodied, energetic life forms. 

If you have been fortunate enough to be struck by a force that runs through your body like an electric shock - literally, that's what it feels like - you know what I'm talking about. It's an experience unlike anything else, and I had closed myself off to it for many years; believing that I was not a creative, but a practical person, who did her work conscientiously, yet not passionately. 

Oh, how I thank my lucky stars - or whoever else is responsible - that I let go of that foolish idea and expanded my horizon. Because, like Liz says, there is magic in this world, if you are willing to believe in it - and I am more than willing. 

Anyway, getting back to that last day of the year back in December. The idea that visited me was to take on a project in 2016: To try 36 new things. 36 because I am 36 years old, and I do appreciate the beauty of numbers that fit neatly into my life. 36 also because it so conveniently divides itself into 3 projects/ideas per month, which in the first light of exhilaration seemed completely manageable. 
I was thrilled and excited when that idea visited me, jotting down several projects at once - and then it all came to a screeching halt. You see, it looked like a lot of work. Why should I create more work for myself? Didn't I have enough on my plate with a job, farm, husband, dogs, family, an extra study course and the time-consuming hobbies I chose to indulge in?

I put my notebook away, thinking that nobody would care whether I did this project or not. And I was right: Nobody did. Except for one person: Me. 

The other night I was in a nostalgic mood, and I went through my 2015 Leonie Dawson workbook. I had ordered it because my friend Mariah recommended it, and it is a wonderful book: Full of inspiration and encouragement to write down your goals in order to reach them. 

One of the sections in the book is for you to write a list of 100 things you want to do that year. Do you know that I never managed to think of 100 things? That's a big number; I only managed to get up to 54. Just out of interest, I idly read through my goals, to see how many I had reached. 

The result surprised me: I crossed off 36 (there's that 36 again) of the 54 items. You may think that's nothing to write home about; after all, it's only 66%. But amongst the goals were some that I have had for years:
Consume more vegetables (we juice every morning since last April.)
Exercise regularly.
Being able to fold myself into lotus (something I never thought I would be able to do).
There were also many trivial ones: To see my favourite band live
Seeing Cirque du Soleil (something I had been dreaming of for many years, but never did until last December).
Growing my hair longer than it has ever been

Long story short: After seeing the goals I had realized last year (okay, some of them spilled into this year, but the result is the same), I knew: I had to do this. 
I firmly believe that life is about growth, new opportunities, and saying yes, and I need to push myself to do all these things. I like my comfort zone a little too much, and I am reluctant to step out of it; until I get bored that is, which is the point where I will do something stupid because I need to break out right this minute

Anyway, after much thought, I adjusted my project 36 to not only feature new things (because that would have been doomed to fail - I simply couldn't do it), but also to include the items I have been procrastinating for a long time (years, in some cases), stuff I would usually say no to, but decided to give a go, and yoga-related goals

Thus, there are four categories to my project: 
Say yes
Try something new
You know you want to
Crazy sexy yoga


1. To possible new job opportunities. Not that there are any, right now; but if there were, I want to be open enough to say yes to it. For a while there I was so happily ensconced in my little bubble, that I recoiled at the thought of anything new (new responsibilities, learning new skills, that sort of stuff). 
But that's not me! That was lazy-me, and I decided to get her out of the driver's seat of my life. She makes life comfy sometimes, but she's a terrible guide for life. Nothing great has ever happened without hard work. 
Update: I quit my old job on December 31. What happens next remains to be seen...

2. To my niece, who wants to come and stay with us in the summer. My niece is 13, and according to my sister, in the throws of teenage hormones, poor girl. (And poor sister, come to think of it.) To give everyone a break, and her the chance of a great adventure, I said YES when my sis asked me if her daughter could visit us. Voluntarily inviting a teenager into your home? I must be crazy ;-)

Update: She didn't come, but I visited her. My list, my rules, and it counts.

3. To travelling alone. I am going to Germany in April to visit family, and I'm determined to make at least one stop in a new city by myself. I've never done that! In 36 years! This has to change.
Update: In a completely unforeseen series of events, I travelled to two cities by myself: Walnut Grove and my old home town Aldergrove. Not exactly new cities, but close enough.

4. To travelling with others. To my surprise, 2016 is shaping up to contain more travel than I anticipated, and one of them is happening soon: A Bahamas cruise with two other couples. The last time we travelled with other people (who aren't family) was in 2008, so it's been a while. While it is a lot of fun, it also has its challenges, so I'm curious to see how it will turn out this time!
Update: Bahamas trip video here.

5. To wearing red lipstick. Do you know how empowering the right lipstick can be? 
I don't, but I'm about to find out. I pretty much never wear lipstick, but on extremely rare occasions I have slicked some on for outfit posts, and was surprised at how much I liked the look of it. Next step: Real life!  
Update: Nope.  

6. To a special photoshoot. I have an idea that I'm immensely excited about, but hesitant to discuss further just yet. All I want to say is that it's waaaaay out of my comfort zone, but at the same times feels right. Brave.
Update: Sort of. I had pictured doing a naked yoga shoot, but then chickened out. However, I did do a yoga photo shoot with my clothes on, and posted a few naked yoga photos on Instagram. Yoga has given me such a comfortable relationship with my body, once in a while I feel the overwhelming desire to share that. (Here and here.) Nobody is more surprised about this than I am. 

7. To learning new hairstyles. Now that I have the long hair I so desired, the next question is: What to do with it? I'm counting on you, Pinterest!
Update: I chopped my hair off in September, and after a period of getting used to it, I now love it. I'm curling and experimenting with new updos, it's so fun!

8. To asking for help. Do you know that I have an unreasonably difficult time asking for help? I tried to analyze myself, and what I came up with is that I'm so afraid that they may say no, that I'd rather not ask at all. Which, of course, is silly. You can't do it all alone, and you miss out on a lot of opportunities if you don't ask people who know better. So I'm learning to ask for help this year! What's the worst that can happen? If they say no, I'm no worse off than I was before I asked. You can do this, Miriam.   
Update: Still a work in process, but little victories give me hope: Most recently I asked our head radiologist for a reference (he had previously offered), and while my heart was beating a mile a minute and my palms were sweaty, I got through it. And he said yes!

9. To buying new underwear. My underwear drawer is in a sorry state of affairs. You may not know this about me, but I detest buying underwear. Absolutely hate it. Bras are even worse. The result of this dislike is that I own only three bras that are wearable, and even that is a lose definition of the term "wearable". (Let's just say that my white one is not really white any more, and my strapless one was bought during a time when I was still carded occasionally. Which hasn't happened in about a decade. It's been a while.)
So I have to put on my nicest pair of big-girl panties and go out to buy myself undies that I could get hit by a bus in. And not die of shame when the paramedics cut off my clothes.
Update: I did!

10. To buying socks as well. While my sock drawer is in slightly better shape than my underwear drawer, the keyword here is "slightly". Sock-buying is another activity I don't enjoy, so I wear the hell out of  the ones I own. It's starting to become embarrassing to take my shoes off, so it's time.
Update: I did!

11. To finishing this list. Gosh, this is even harder than I feared it would be. If you knew when I started this, you would be disgusted - or feel sorry for me, depending on your personality. It's been many, many days weeks of trying to find stuff for this project. The good news is, I will be able to cross this item off should I ever get to the end of it!   
Update: I did!

Try Something NEW

12. Karaoke. I have never done it, and I'm daring myself to try it at least once. 

13. Flying Trapeze. I've always wanted to try it! My friend and I promised each other that it will happen this spring. 

14. Learn how to shoot proper videos. The only "experience" in making videos is propping up my phone precariously and shooting poor-quality, short yoga videos. My camera has the capability of recording videos, and it's about time I take advantage of it! This vacation video and Rebecca's fun "A day in the life"-video are my inspiration.  
Update: Well, I may not have learnt to shoot "proper" videos quite yet, but I did make several videos! I'm totally giving myself that one. 

15. Not dying my hair. I'm still determined to pull off silver hair, and I've been growing out my last batch of hair dye for the past year. But sometimes, when I look in the mirror and the silver strands in my bangs seem to have doubled over night, I am sorely tempted to get them covered up. Whenever that happens I have to remind myself of Sarah Harris or Annika von Holdt. These ladies rock their silver hair like nobody's business, and I want to be just as confident with my changing colour!
Update: Success! I also cut off the last of my dyed hair, and now I'm all natural. Interesting side note: My post Grey: yay or nay? was the most popular post of 2016!

16. Meditation. It has been said that meditating will make you connect to your true self, and helps you discover all your inner-most secrets: What you desire, what you are meant to do, what makes you happy. Who wouldn't want that?
Update: Uhm, I tried, but gave up. Again. After reading Dan Harris' book "10% Happier" I tried it a few times, but so far I meditate best while doing something else: Walking, yoga, or driving. Does that count?

17. Guest post on other blogs. I want to branch out a bit more and try my hand on writing for others. I've had a couple of spotlights on blogs I paid for, but I want to write real articles.
Update: Only one, but it counts: I wrote the post How to publish a book (even if you have no idea what you're doing) on Helene's Blog in Between

18. Stop and think before answering a question. I tend to shoot from the hip, saying what's on my mind the second it pops in there. I want to learn to collect my thoughts and think over whatever it is the person has asked me, instead of having verbal diarrhea. I've agreed to things I didn't want to do way too often with my old approach - or the opposite, said no when I should have said yes - and I would like to learn to think first, speak second.
Update: Uhm - no? I don't think so. Let me stop and think about the question.

You Know You Want To

19. Stop rolling my eyes. I have a bad habit of rolling my eyes behind people's backs (I sincerely hope it's behind their backs, and not in front of them) when I'm annoyed. The good news is, nobody has to worry that their eyes will get stuck like that, which is what my grandma always told me when i was little. Mine would have been stuck a long time ago. It is a bad  habit though, and about time to break it. 
Update: Most definitely not. Still doing it, and my eyes still haven't gotten stuck in that position, mom. 

20. Be more patient. I include this point in any goal-setting and list-making of mine, because it is something I will probably have to work on my entire life.
Update: Actually, I think I am making progress with that one! Yoga is teaching me patience big time, and it's starting to work!

21. Declutter our basement. Our basement is a war zone. It needs a thorough decluttering and tidying up, and I won't do it unless it stares accusingly at me from a to-do list. As it is doing now! (Stop pestering me, I'll get to it.)
Update: Oh yes, I did. I decluttered it so well, I got rid of the entire basement! And the house surrounding it! As you all know, 2016 was the year where we sold our old place and found our dream home

22. Finally paint my kitchen cabinets. It's been on my mental to-do list for years. In 2016 it is going to happen.
Update: I did!

23. And my downstairs stair space. Or is it staircase? It's the tiny area before you go up the stairs. Kinda hard to explain. Either way, it's so small that it should take me less than an hour, yet I have been procrastinating forever. Can you sense a theme here with my home decorating?
Update: Yup, did that one too. 

24. Paint the inside of my kitchen cabinets? I'm on a painting-roll now, so why stop? I've always loved Elsie's cheery turquoise inside the cabinets, and would love to see a pop of colour when I take out a mug for my first cup of coffee in the morning. I'm envisioning yellow, like a ray of sunlight ... maybe?  
Update: Naw. 

25. Write that novel. Oh yes, I'm always thinking about that. A fiction novel is a whole other level from my little book last year, but I want to do it! I have visions of a diary-style book a la "Bridget Jones", but in a hospital- or farm-setting. Write about what you know, as they say.
Update: I am currently 12,790 words in. It's happening in 2017, baby!

26. Pay off my credit card. Sadly, that one is quite ambitious. And maybe also impossible. But I would love to see the balance on my statement show a big, fat zero!
Update: Due to the sale of our house, we were able to pay off all our debt. For the first time in our relationship, we are debt-free! It's still unreal. 

27. Find more creative ways to display photos. Photography is still a much-loved hobby, and finding new ways of displaying them around our home is a never-ending challenge. I did a scrapbook last year, have done multiple photobooks, had some printed on wood, canvas, or poster paper, or simply printed them out and framed them. I'd like to do something big like this photo wall - or maybe even that huge one?
Update: I created this gallery wall and I'm head over heels in love with it. 

Crazy Sexy Yoga

28. Go to a yoga class. I have been practicing exclusively by myself (and the dogs of course) for the past year, and it's my favourite way to practice. However, I do believe that it is beneficial to go to a class once in a while, not only to get feedback, but also to soak up the vibe from your fellow yogis. I want to get into the habit of integrating it into my yoga life.  
Update: I went to a yoga class taught by Kino!

29. Pincha Mayurasana. A forarmstand as solid and straight as demonstrated by Kino is my goal.
Update: I'm nowhere near Kino's level, but I made progress in 2016!

 Image found here

30. Legs behind head pose. Totally crazy, totally awesome.
Update: Hahaha, what was I thinking?

31. Mastering splits. Being a naturally inflexible person, this would be the ultimate achievement. As a believer in #practiceanditwillcome (one of my fave Instagram hashtags), it should be possible, right?
Update: I stopped practicing, so it's not happening yet. 

32. King pigeon pose.
Update: Not yet.

33. Handstand'Nuff said, I've been talking about it for a year now. Still no real balance to speak of, still my #1 goal.
Update: Practice, practice, practice.

34. Handstand press-up.
Update: Hahaha, what was I thinking?

35. After that, these mad handstand skillz from Kino:

Realistic? No. Damn impressive? Hellz yes!

36. That flow. Dream big, right? ;-)

Do you have any special goals this year? Please share in the comments!


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