The Grace Period

Oh, hey, how about that, 2020…how’d you get here?

I wrapped up 2009 with a tour of the Baltic Sea region – fluttering around from Stockholm to Moscow to Estonia to Oslo to London with a few other stops sprinkled in. I had no idea that would be my last jaunt abroad as I had no idea that in the next ten years I’d trip over the love of my life, move to Virginia, inherit two kids and start planning out my next jaunt abroad for ‘when the last one gets off to college.’ I thought 2010 was just the start of another decade of collecting animals, camping with my parents, trying to figure out how to keep something other than Lantanas alive, occasionally washing my car, and continuing to disagree with my neighborhood HOA.

Clearly I had no idea what was coming – and as that was the most dramatic head-spinning turn of planned life events I’d ever experienced, I’m going into 2020 with no real ‘oh, this is how this next decade is going to pan out.’ You know the old saying…if you want to hear a good chuckle, tell God your plans…or whomever/whatever/the flying spaghetti monster.

Some of my favorite days of the year are the ones that fall between January 1st and whatever date the Monday after January 1st is. So, in the case of this year, January 1st-5th. I consider those to be freebies. Sure, I could set a resolution or two and start them at exactly midnight on New Year’s Day. But if ‘real life’ isn’t starting back up until the sixth…then what’s the rush to hop on the ferris wheel of betterment? Can’t I just use those lame duck days to ignore or even test out my thoughts for the New Year?

December 31st: I’m going vegan.

January 2nd: This burger is delicious. Scratch that. Off the list. Maybe I’ll just give up wine.

January 2nd (still): I love a good Malbec.

It’s like a commitment test zone.

Truthfully, I’m not really big on the drastic (or cliched) resolutions. I think if you go too aggressive you’re really just setting yourself up for tripping up. Which, in the mind of a woman (well, this woman), will equal feelings of failure and inability and why-couldn’t-I-get-it-right??? Why do it? Stick with something really realistic. It’s like making a checklist for the day that starts with ‘open eyes.’ Yes, check!, I did it! Who wants to see a checklist that starts with ‘learn how to play piano blind-folded’?

My goals this year are fairly simple.

  1. Back up my computer. I pretty much use my work-assigned computer for everything. I know, that’s not what you’re supposed to do. Rich walks around typing on three different keyboards – one for work, one that’s a Mac and superior to his work laptop and one that’s for running his 62 basement gadgets. I can’t handle flipping from one to another. I just want one access point to all my goodies – work, fun, arts & crafts, social media, etc.. But, what I’ve realized is – if it ever hits the fan (and I suspect it will), all that stuff may become instantly inaccessible if big brother shuts me out of my laptop’s life. So, back it up, back it in, let it begin, as they say. My goal is once a week. As it’s the fifth and I have yet to it…well, thank goodness for those seven day weeks.
  2. Keep my plants alive. When I think of my house forty years from now, I have a strong suspicion that I will be the lady in the neighborhood who sticks plastic flowers in her planters. The chances of me figuring out how to keep a plant alive dwindles with each passing year. Live plants, just not my thing. Mostly. But definitely 99% of them and I’m equally horrible at indoor or outdoor. I really can’t tell you how many times my mother has given me an ivy or a fern or a cactus, stating ‘it’s literally impossible to kill.’ Is it though? Also, fyi Mom, the Christmas Cactus died months ago, but I didn’t want to tell you. I do have a few go-to’s, but even those aren’t a guarantee. In two states (Pennsylvania and North Carolina) I was the Mum queen. They came back year after year and people would comment on how gorgeous they were. I’d thank them and pat myself on the back and we wouldn’t talk about how I wasn’t the original planter. My other success Lantanas – which I even know how to plant. But evidently, my limit is three as last year I planted two more that never really got into the groove. In the meantime, I have a dying rose garden and about 400 bulbs hidden, dead, (stolen by squirrels?) in various former gardens. Inside, I have a living tiny peace lily (maybe? I think that’s what it is). It’s only bloom came home from the store with it three years ago, never to be seen again – but it’s still alive – so yeah, that’s basically a record. I did name it after a death row inmate as I knew it’s fate and having a name seemed nicer, even if it meant a certain end. I also have an ‘unkillable’ something – found by Zoe for my birthday last year – still alive. And recently, a friend brought me an orchid. When I saw it, I hid the cringe of ‘oh, you have no idea how many orchids I’ve killed….’ Three weeks later, it is still alive, but not nearly as flourish-y as last week.
  3. Third resolution? Clean my jewelry more often. Or at all. I’ve been mocked many times by various family members for never removing my earrings (there are seven, that seems like a big job), necklace or rings – and assured them that the shower gets them clean enough. Turns out, that my not be accurate. Rich and I went over to the jeweler a few weeks ago to have my necklace shortened. When I handed it over, the sweet lady in customer service looked at it and immediately said, ‘uh, when was the last time you cleaned this?’ with a slightly horrified face. I slowly crouched down until I was no longer visible above the counter while Rich began explaining in great detail about blah, blah, blah… In short, the woman collected all of my jewelry, while wearing a hazmat suit, and bagged it to be cared for by someone more responsible. I did get it all back a week later and, I do have to say, it’s stunning.
  4. Finally, as an ode to another friend, I’m going to spend more time in my jammies. I know a few other work-at-home moms and I often hear about how they wait until they actually leave the house to put on real clothes – and over the holidays, I thought ‘why not me?’ Yes, why not?? Off I went to Kohls and the Cuddlduds rack – and here I am, lounging in the softness of a polyester/spandex blend. Presentable, yet comfortable. Technically fine for opening the door to greet a neighbor, but maybe not hitting the supermarket. I have to admit, I haven’t applied this to weekdays (yet) – just getting used to my pajamas wearing sea legs.

Today’s the sixth – the first ‘real’ day of the new year. I test drove the list from the 1st to the 5th and the reports are: Plants: alive; Jammies: on; Jewelry Baths: I’ve put a weekly appointment on my calendar; Laptop Back up: see jewelry. I feel confident I can keep up with at least half of these plans which will give me a much greater and realistic boost of ‘way to go!’ than ‘run a marathon (good luck, Jimmy).’

And a final note – Rich and I did come up with another minor but major actual resolution. We’d gotten into the habit of most parents – the one where at the end of the day, our getting ready for bed routine included a lot of negative chatter about our days, the kids, our jobs, the dead plants, etc…

We realized it’s not a great way to drift off to sleep. I put up a sign on the bathroom mirror that reads ‘Tell Me Something Good,’ and that’s where we point our conversations now. We actually test drove this prior to the new year – probably after one of our 32 counseling sessions. Our chatter has quickly flipped to nice things we noticed about each other, wins (at work, at Target, anywhere really), noting good things the kids did and, generally, our favorites parts of the day. And if I get off course (yes, it’s usually me), he simply points to the sign and I check myself. Yes, there will be a day when I break his finger instead, but for now, it’s working.

Of all my mini-goals, this one is my favorite – and this one will likely be the one I refer back to at the end of the year.

Tell Me Something Good, 2020.

2 thoughts on “The Grace Period

  1. Oh my, your blog really needs a feature where I can give sub comments directly under each paragraph. Can I tell you, I’m in charge of multiple wildlife, a cat, did and a fish for two weeks while Peg is sunning in Mexico. At least the cat and dog will make sure I know they’re hungry. Mom has a Christmas cactus that was her mom’s. She’s been gone since 78. So at minimum, that sucker is 42 years old. How do you handle sick pressure?
    Morning meeting tomorrow?? 😘

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