Some things I'd like to do in 2011

I'm not much for New Years Resolutions, mostly because I don't find it necessary or particularly motivating to start something at the beginning of a year. If I need to start doing something, I start doing it. January 1 is arbitrary. For me at least.

But this coming new year feels a little different to me. I've begun to think about what 2011 could mean for me, professionally, individually and maritally. I have a lot of ideas. And what happens when I get a lot of ideas? I make lists.

Home/Work Life
I'm back at home, with a vision for what being 'at home' means to me. Taking care of my home and my little family - me included - has become important to me. Yes, these are things that I've always valued and felt drawn toward, but right now I am feeling an urge to prioritize home life - to devote my energy and a large part of my days to holding down the fort. Sustaining this is also important to me. I want to find some work this year, yes, but I know now that I want to be working from home. Freelancing is an obvious first step in that direction, as is looking for work-from-home positions. I may also look at smaller side hustles like Etsy. And I have a few other small and medium projects on file too - mostly involving liquidation of assets (in other words, I'll be in charge of selling our car, our spare washer and dryer, and some high-end clothing that it turns out I like to look at but never wear).

To that end, there are some specific things I think I'd like to do this year:

  • Finish unpacking from our move 3 months ago, for the love of Pete
  • Set up the 'man cave' so that it looks like an actual man cave, and not a girly collection of miscellany (first step: get a rug that isn't pink and swirly)
  • Repaint the guest bathroom (and take down the wooden hand-painted shells tacked on the walls...)
  • Revamp my ailing professional website. Maybe even come up with a logo (gasp!) And then put the she-bang to use.
  • Flex my bulky but unused social media muscles.
  • Find a nice balance of minimalism/simplicity and organized abundance at home.

Brian has been going to the gym pretty steadily for oh, maybe 6 weeks now? He is being proactive. It's starting to show, too. I really admire him for doing this. I've thought about shelling out a second membership to go to the gym with him. It's fairly frequently that he tells me he's heading to the gym and it occurs to me that, hey, I could go to the gym now too and not be too bothered by it! But then I wonder if that $25 a month could be put to better use, when I have walking shoes and a bike (not to mention a few workout dvds) that are already paid for. To increase our food budget to include grass-fed beef and free-range chickens. To go to the Chiropractor and/or get the monthly massages that keep my hip and shoulder in working order (because what good is a gym membership if it hurts too much to walk there, and then it hurts too much to do anything with the upper body?). To take a ballet class instead. We have to make these choices more carefully now. 

Same goes for food. We need to make more deliberate choices. And a large part of my role in that is making sure we have good options on hand. I also want to do even more cooking at home. This year may be the year of mastering high altitude bread-baking. There are some things I've always wanted to do in the kitchen, and now is as good a time as any to make that happen (hello, New England Clam Chowder Served In A Bread Bowl). This year may also be the Year of the Garden. If I can work up the nerve.

So here's the next part of the list:
  • Bake consistently good bread. Primary targets include sandwich bread that Brian will eat, and dinner rolls.
  • Reach for healthful snacks and lunches more often than less good options. 
  • Grow, and then eat, something. Maybe a few different kinds of somethings. 

Money and Travel
Because no amount of introspection is done without consideration of The Bottom Line, I of course have a section on money here. It's not that detailed yet - I feel like we are still in a financially shifting stage of life right now, so setting big goals there isn't something I want to do. I did come across the 20 Financial Milestones to Reach in Your 20s, though, and I'm looking to them for guidance. I'll share the specifics here when I figure them out, in case you're interested. 

But really what our financial goals will boil down to is likely to be "Save for Traveling." We are going to Israel in June, and saving up to pay for it in cash - a goal made doable only because the church is paying for Brian's trip. Brian is also hoping to go to Haiti in March, which may be fully or partially covered by the church as well. We've recently been invited to a destination wedding in Costa Rica(!!!) in the fall, which we are hoping to swing without dipping into savings. If the Costa Rica trip doesn't pan out, I think I'm going to put together a little road trip to Austin, TX. I may even go to Vegas in a few weeks with my mom and her friend, depending on how some 'professional inquiries' shake out (I've never been to Vegas, have you?).

I love the prospect of traveling. We haven't had a chance to do much of it in our 3 years of marriage. We had our belated honeymoon in Hawaii, we had a fun road trip moving out to Colorado, and there were other road trips from the home base in Richmond, but those were all to see family, rather than pure, raw vacationing. So having these trips on the horizon is really exciting. And hey, if we can put away 4 Grand in 10 months to go to Israel, maybe we can keep saving at that same rate and finally get to Ireland in 2012. I traveled a lot with my family before I went to college, and Brian has a big travel bug too. It's good for us and our marriage to get out of town whenever we can.

And then I'm reminded: we have student loans. And maybe we should focus on paying those down faster, not on taking these trips everywhere. And there are other things we need to be thinking about too, like retirement accounts (uh...we don't really have those yet) and saving up to pay cash for a car in the event that we need one (the Highlander is coming up on 10 years old). It will probably be a while before it would make sense for us to buy a house (have you priced houses in Denver lately?) so a down payment is not even on the radar yet. We live below our means and build our general savings every month on top of the Israel trip savings, but is that good enough? This is the year to figure it out.

So with all of that rambled said, the third prong of things to do in 2011 is as follows:

  • Fund Israel trip with cash - enough cash to bring home a really special thing or two
  • Take one other trip in the fall
  • Contribute to Brian's 403(b) and open an IRA for me
  • Develop a budget that both of us can stand, and stick to it

Random Misc
Every time I've moved, I pack more boxes than I'd care to admit labeled "Random Misc." It started in college, before I realized that the phrase is redundant, and the label has stuck. These are the boxes that rarely, if ever, get unpacked. I'm pretty sure that the reason I was able to unpack every single box from our move out here a year ago is that we had packers for that move, and none of their boxes were labeled 'random misc.' But, what's a list of things to do without a little bit of random miscellany thrown in?

Here are some of the other random things I'd like to do this year: 
  • Take a class in something. ballet, pottery and foreign language are top contenders
  • Dig into my 'special' yarn and fabric stashes and start making things with them
  • Make butter and see if it's worth it
  • Get someone else to help me decorate (any volunteers?)
  • Make curtains for the tall, skinny, off-center window over the bed
  • Read 52 books - one for each week of the year. Unless it turns out I read more than 52 books this year, in which case, read more books this year than last year. 


  1. Actually: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/garden/30pink.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp

  2. I have two books for you to read (hope that you haven't read them already)- Both by Henri Nouwen- The Life of the Beloved and The Only Necessary Thing- I'd be happy to send them to you (on loan of course)


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