So we’ve made it to the end of another calendar year. 2015 has been another rung on the ladder of Life punctuated with successes, challenges, joys, disappointments, enlightenments, confusions, adventures, sad partings, and merry meetings. It’s not all been easy, but overall, I’d call it a success. MUCH has been learned from the experiments of this year, and I hope to employ a new understanding and fresh perspective as I enter the brave new world of 2016.
Now, for the [long overdue] summary of my year’s formal Experiments, more commonly known as resolutions. These were the goals I set my Self for the year back in January. Let’s see how I fared in my quest to cultivate a happy, healthy and fulfilling life … First of all, it might be helpful to re-post those resolutions.
- Formally observe the Wheel of the Year. Do so publicly by writing articles on the blog about each holiday, making videos on accompanying practices/crafts/recipes, and documenting on other social media. Also have a personal [private] observance either at home, with community members, or in Nature.
- Try something new. Choose 6 new things to try this year. Document the experiences on social media. (SUP Yoga; taking solo camping trip; attending a meetup group; aerial dance; making clothes from a pattern, hang gliding) NOTE: Feel encouraged to try more than 6!
- Start a YouTube channel. Make regular posts – at least one a month.
- Save some money. (I have some specific actions here, but I prefer to keep this kind of money stuff private.)
- Volunteer, already! Find an organization – just one – and set up either a regular schedule for donating time/service or a project for contribution of self and skills. Document the experience via blog, photos (instagram/facebook/pinterest), and video (youtube).
- Take a vacation. I mean a proper vacation. Travel somewhere other than here for at least a week.
- Go fully raw LFHC vegan for one month, beginning with a three-day stint on Banana Island.
- Embark on one month of super-productivity a’la Tynan’s “Love Work” article.
- Be creative. Pursue one or several creative hobbies. By the end of the year have a minimum of 6 finished products. Use these products as gifts, or giveaways on social media.
- Write an ebook. Sell it online.
- Pay off debts by a minimum of 50% by year end. Try to pay them 100%, if possible.
- Find ways to reduce consumption, and, therefore, cost of living. Document these experiences via social media. As part of this try a one week experiment in asceticism. Reducing stimulation as much as possible – a’la Tynan’s “Stimulation …” article.
As for my progress, let’s take an inventory, shall we?
I managed to observe every holiday on the Wheel of the Year. Yes, we begin with a win! If I remember correctly, I also managed to write about each here on the blog, too. Excellent. And I am so glad for the experience. Following the Wheel of the Year like this really helps me to feel more connected to the Natural World, and that always help me to feel more healthy and happy.
While I did not try all the new things I had suggested for my Self, I did manage to do some new things this year. Despite missing out on a formal SUP Yoga class experience, I did have my first go at Stand Up Paddling. And I did attempt a little yoga on the board, to some chuckle-worthy results. I also did manage to attend a meetup.com meet up in the form of working a vegan advocacy booth during the Gay Pride Parade here in Durham. I was incredibly uncomfortable, knowing no one there and not having any prior information on the organization or the expectations of attendees, and I left early. But I’m counting it. The whole point was to get out there and try it. And that I did. I visited a new country this year: Belize. (Read about it here.) I experienced TWO new types of body therapy: Alexander Technique and Visceral Manipulation. Both are fine practices, and I gained some valuable information from each. I was especially impressed with the Visceral Manipulation work and hope to continue it this coming year. If I continue to respond so well to it, I may even seek certification in the work. Let’s see … that’s four … Rock Climbing makes five! (Read about it here.) Oh, yes, and online dating makes six. How could I forget? And while it wasn’t a very successful venture, it was still something new that definitely took me out of my comfort zone, so I am glad for every uncomfortable moment. Well, most every uncomfortable moment. I’m pretty sure there were other new things I tried throughout the year, but this is my account of the six that most stand out for me at the moment. Experiment Two is a win!
With two wins under my belt, it’s a little easier to admit the epic fail of Experiment Three. I did not make a YouTube channel. Nor did I do any practice videos .. unless you count the one very badly produced video I made for a client to demonstrate some exercises. And, if I’m being honest, I do count that video as a practice experience. Now, I just need to do a few more of those, and maybe I can work up the courage and the time to upload some of them to a YouTube channel of my very own.
Experiment Four was another win! I have been improving (slowly, but surely) my saving habits. I still have a lot of work to do here, but I’m feeling good about these first steps.
Once again, I failed to do any volunteering this year. Well, unless you count that brief stint at the meet up. (And I don’t.) But, the really awesome thing that happened at the meet up was that I met a woman who started a farm animal refuge in the area. And they rely heavily on volunteer support. This is exactly the kind of organization that I’ve been looking for! I’ve already set up a volunteer date with a friend for January. (We were hoping to make in December, but schedules didn’t allow it.) If all goes well, I’m hoping to make volunteering here a regular practice in 2016. Yay!
Experiment Six is another success! I took a proper holiday! I went to Belize for over a week, and it was wonderful! I find it sad that I need to make a resolution to take some rest and recovery time for my Self, but at least I actually made it happen.
While I didn’t do Experiment Seven to the letter, I did manage to eat Low Fat Raw Vegan for at least close to a month after my return from Belize. I felt amazing. And while the shift to colder weather this Autumn has brought up some new challenges with this diet for me, I am feeling inspired to work through these challenges until this way of eating is the baseline for me. I continue to struggle with emotional associations with certain foods, but having experienced the incredible level of health and vitality I did during that time I was eating LFRV inspires me to continue on this journey. I consider this Experiment still in progress.
Experiment Eight was a fail. In part, I think that was due to the way I set it up in the first place. I should have put more specific parameters on what a month of super-productivity would look like. Maybe I can explore that a bit more in 2016.
Experiment Nine was another win! Yeah! I’ve been all kinds of creative this year! I have done quite a bit of stitching: Embellishing tea towels, handkerchiefs and various and sundry other projects. I’ve also done some small sewing projects. I’ve made eye pillows, heating pads, and a blanket for Anisette (my bunny companion). I made a spirit house for my sister in remembrance of her dog-child, Fozzy, who passed this year. I created costumes for a local short film. And I created some interesting and delicious new recipes. Huzzah for creative expression!
Well, Experiment Ten was another fail, though it wasn’t total. I did actually make several starts at an ebook, but I think I began a little too grand, as usual. So, I’ve decided to whittle my plans down a little, narrow my scope, so to speak, and aim for a book of recipes, maybe. Another Experiment-In-Progress, I guess.
Experiment Eleven is also in progress. I did manage to pay off a lot of my debt, but then I incurred some more, so I’m almost back where I started. The positive part of this is that I am managing my debt much more responsibly, and I have a plan in place to pay it off. I think Experiment Twelve is also going to be one that I continue to cultivate in the coming year(s).
I’m calling these “in progress” experiments successes because they are helping me to make positive changes in my life, and to cultivate awareness around my choices and decisions. That is always a good thing, yes?
I have managed to cull my consumerism as well as my cost of living this year, so I’m counting Experiment Twelve as a success. I was, however, too vague with the one week of asceticism clause. I think I might revisit this a little more specifically in 2016.
All in all, I think I chose some very good Experiments for my Self in 2015. I have set my Self up for continued cultivation of a life of productivity and experience aligned with my values and interests. And that’s really what Experiments, or Resolutions, are for, right?
So, now that I’m wrapping up last year’s Experiments and experiences, I think it’s time to look ahead to the new year. I’m standing on it’s doorstep, after all.
Here’s what my Experiments look like for 2016:
- Purify my Body. Continue to refine my diet toward a low fat high raw vegan diet. Incorporate regular cardiovascular exercise into my regular routine, aiming for 30 minute sessions 3-5 times a week. Incorporate strength/endurance/joint stabilization exercises into my regular routine, aiming for 2-4 sessions per week. Practice some kind of yoga 5-6 times a week. Improve hydration! Aim for a gallon of water consumed daily. Improve sleep! Set a regular sleep time and stick to it. Create a ritual to help the body/mind prepare for sleep.
- Purify my mind. Practice meditation for 1-20 minutes daily. Write daily in a journal, at least one full page. Choose a mantra every morning and repeat it regularly throughout the day. Let it be something positive in wording and sentiment.
- Create a grimoire. A grimoire is, essentially, a book of magick. And while many people associate magick primarily with witches, wizards, sorcerers, and the like, I am here to tell you that magick can be found everywhere, even in the most mundane of objects and practices. My grimoire will be a tangible celebration of the magick I see in the world around me. I will begin with entries on each of the holidays celebrated on the Wheel of the Year, as a natural progression of 2015’s first Experiment. From there, the sky’s the limit!
- Volunteer! As I mentioned above, I believe I have found an organization into which I am excited to pour my volunteering efforts: Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge. At present, I am making it my goal to do this in three specific ways. The first is to purchase a founding membership. The second is to sponsor an animal with a monthly cash contribution. And, thirdly, I will volunteer my time and presence at the farm. I believe the refuge requires a commitment of a minimum number of volunteer hours per month, but I cannot remember what that is at this moment. In any case, I am hoping to be able to adjust my schedule to allow for this commitment. I’m super excited about this! Woo Hoo!
- Get out of the house more. Any of you who know me, know that, despite my efforts at living more fully, I can be a real hermit. I am a big fan of personal time and space, but I also believe that too much alone time can lead to social awkwardness/anxiety, loneliness and an unhealthy lack of exposure to new and differing world views. To that end, I am resolving to try to get out of my house on a regular basis. This will happen, to some extent, thanks to Experiment Four (above), but I also plan to spend my Friday evenings at a local coffee shop. Here I can still catch up on work if I need to, but I’ll be out in the world and surrounded by other people. I can also choose to have friends join me for a drink and a chat, which is something I’d really like to do more of in 2016. It’s a reasonable choice, I think, because it gets me out of the house and into the world, but doesn’t require me to shell out a lot of money while doing so. Nor does it compromise my dietary choices. Oh, and it’s also someplace I can go alone without feeling awkwardly anti-social.
- Try new things. Yes, this is an extension of 2015’s Experiment Two. I find that if I don’t set the challenge for my Self to get out of my comfort zone, I am much less likely to do it. So, here are some ideas for new things to try this year. Some of this may be familiar as they were plucked from 2015’s list. I’m sticking with my goal of (at least) six new adventures for the year, though I’m not tied to these, specifically. They just sound fun. Take a SUP Yoga class. Take a multi-night camping trip. Make some videos and post them on my YouTube channel. Write an e-book and offer it on my website. Sell things I make (and/or curate) on my website. Take a hang gliding lesson in Kitty Hawk. Try one weekend of super simple ascetic living with no electricity (excepting the refrigerator), no modern devices (excepting the unavoidable like water faucets and such), and no car.
- Go on at least five dates. I know it sounds like a small number, but so far, my experiences with dating at my age have been a wee bit excruciating, so five actually feels a lot like 500 to me. But, since I don’t fancy dying alone, I suppose I need to at least put my Self out there in the path of potential partners. (Feel free to set me up if you know someone who might be a good match!)
- Continue being creative! Make at least one creative expression every month. Document it here on the blog and speak to its significance for my Self.
Hm … that’s it, I think. Only eight Experiments for 2016. I must say, with the possible exception of number seven, I’m really looking forward to completing these resolutions! What about you? Will you plan any goals for your Self for 2016? Did you fulfill your expectations for 2015? Share your experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Happy New Year, Beauties!