Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sleep, Perchance to Dream

A week or so ago while in the car listening to the radio I heard an interesting question. "What is your favorite or best Christmas memory," the DJ's asked. People called in relating tales of puppies, bikes, and Santa sightings. I immediately thought of Christmases when my sons were young. The BB gun Christmas, hanging stockings, reading the Autobiography of Santa, and tree topping, just to name a few. But when I tried to remember something, anything specific from my own childhood I drew a blank. Where did we hang stockings? Did we hang stockings? Where was Christmas dinner? Did we sit on Santa's lap.

Certainly, I remembered things about Christmas. I knew we had one of those shiny aluminum trees with the rotating color wheels down the basement. I remembered photographs with piles and piles of presents. I know we baked cookies, or at least I think we did. But a specific, solid memory? Nothing! All those hours I am sure my parents spent shopping, wrapping, planning, and preparing. And what did I remember? Nothing!

Thinking it was strange that I couldn't think of one memory I started asking others to share one of their Christmas memories. A friend shared a memory of getting a puppy. One Christmas her father brought home a crazy little puppy. I asked my two sons and their girlfriends. One son remembered they year they got a pinball machine. The first "big" down-the-basement surprise present. The other son remembered putting the star/angel on top of the tree.
I didn't feel any better. Other people remembered Christmas stories. Why didn't I? Well, apparently I do have at least one memory. I woke up this morning thinking of a dream I had last night about getting my first pair of earrings. Only it wasn't a dream; it was a memory. In my sleep, while I dreamed, a memory I swore did not exist came to me.

It was 6th grade. We live in a big old house in Lansdowne. I loved that house and my room. My room had the world's best ever closet. Not only was it a walk-in it also had a light and a bench. It was the perfect place to hide  from four younger siblings and a dysfunctional family. I was 12 years old with responsibilities way beyond my years. I wanted to escape, to an aunt living in London, really, to anywhere. That closet was my escape portal in so many ways.

Anyway, see what happens when memories appear? That Christmas I received this pair of 14K gold stud earrings. They had to be 14K gold as a first  pair of earrings. When I opened this box I suddenly felt grown up. I was finally allowed to get my ears pierced. And before high school! A big deal for me back in the day.

Do you have any particular Christmas memories? So sleep, perchance to dream ....

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year

This post is an explanation of my 365 challenge for 2103.

For those of you who know me, you know that I have made some major life changes the past two years. Both 2011 and 2012 I did not have any specific "resolutions" other than to do better. Mainly to do better at taking care of myself. I feel that I have met and in some areas exceeded those goals. So it is with trepidation  and fear of failure that I consider specific goals for 2013.

So many people say that goals must be SMART...specific, measurable, attainable,realistic and timely. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. I have given this a great deal of thought over the past few days. Do I want to be specific? If I set specific goals and I do not attain them, am I then failing?

After much thought I came to the realization that being safe never led to great achievements. I tell my students that Man's grasp should exceed his reach - that's what heaven is for and that if they reach for the moon, they will wind up among the stars. It is time to start listening to my teacher encouragement and go for it!

So, what are my goals. I came up with a few quickly without much thought. But as I said before, this whole exercise has been one of thought. My previous 6+ years of Jesuit education kept whispering, and at times, shouting in my brain, "Mind, body, and spirit!" St. Ignatius of Loyola placed strong emphasis on educating the mind, body and spirit  to better be able to contribute to society. In looking up these ideals I was taken to St. Louis University, Madrid, Spain where I studied for a year - the coincidence made me feel I was somehow on the right track.

Body or physical goals were the easiest of all for me. I have three smart goals for 2013:
  • ride a 100 miles on a bicycle. It doesn't matter where or how flat, or hilly. 
  • Complete an Olympic Triathlon - twice the distance of the Sprints I did last year
  • Complete a triathlon with an ocean swim    
I shared these goals with a wonderfully realistic and encouraging friend who suggested I add a marathon to my goals. In the spirit of pushing myself, why not?!

Mind and spirit resolutions are so much harder for me to think of. I decided to tackle mind first. I keep my mind challenged, but I have gotten lax about learning new things. I have been hyperfocused on the physical and need to remember my mind. I want to, no strike that, in 2013 I will:
  • write a little every day, here on my blog, or in my journal
  • read more literature, both old and new
  • find a way to discuss scholarly topics- reading, writing, history
Finally I was left with spirit. Not being a religious person, I not surprisingly found this difficult. I decided that spiritual can also mean taking care of my spirit as well as others' spirits. I want to bring more joy into my life and the lives of others. To that end, I really had to think about what gives me joy. I love hearing from friends near and far,  hearing a child laugh, being outside, being with my family. So, in 2013 I will:
  • purposefully find ways to contact friends and spend time with them
  • listen to children and hear them
  • spend time outside every day
Truly, this blog is a selfish endeavor. Some of you may have stopped reading a while ago, some may still be reading. I know that I write for myself. However, if my writing or activities inspire you to care for your mind, body, or spirit, so much the better.  If you care to encourage me on my journey this year, please know how much I appreciate each and every one your words. If I can help you on your journey, please do not ever hesitate to ask. For although we all must conclude this earthly journey on our own, we travel together until then.

 This is a picture of gorgeous butternut squash right before being roasted for soup. I chose this picture today to illustrate my goals for 2013 - doing new things, taking chances, appreciating this world. I had never chopped and roasted butternut squash. With a little help from Youtube, a semisharp knife, and a why not attitude I made some pretty good soup. Who wants some?