New Years has always been an interesting experience for me. After the bustle of the winter holidays, there is almost this sudden feeling of silence on New Year’s Day. When I was younger, I would feel melancholy that the whole shebang was over, and that I would have to wait a whole new year for it to start again. I would comfort myself by going over the good memories of Christmas, and organizing my haul that I had received. Did I give good presents? Did I make other people happy? What did I get and how excited was I to use it?
This childhood practice has given way to a broader reflection. I am currently 27 with very little knowledge of how I got here. Suddenly, just as was predicted by my parents, the years seem to tumble away faster and faster. I no longer have this feeling of infinite time as I did in my teenage years and early twenties. I’ve always reflected on my actions at the end of each day, but now I reflect as the year comes to a close. What did I do with myself for 365 days? What did I learn and what did I accomplish? What was I bad at? Did I have fun? Who did I make happy?
Sometimes these reflections are painful. I have a few years I let slip away, where I felt the same going out as I did going in. But these bad moments are just as important to review as the good ones. As a well written article in the Washington Post said “Reflection is what links our performance to our potential.” We cannot reach our potential if we do not reflect, because then we cannot learn. Thus, we cannot learn if we do not occasionally feel the pain caused by proper reflection.
There is a very famous speech by Eric Thomas called “How Bad Do You Want It.” In it, is my favorite line.
Don’t cry to quits.
You already in pain, you already hurt.
Get a reward from it.
(A good youtube video I like to watch for motivation can be found here.)
I say this with every experience that I have. Forgetting something doesn’t eliminate the hurt, it just eliminates one’s ability to learn from it and to become stronger. When we don’t reflect, “we engage in a narcissistic rationalization that makes us feel better about the events in our lives yet keeps us from learning from them. There is a natural tendency to attribute all our successes to ourselves and all our failures to forces beyond our control.”
I think this is true of a vast majority of people in regards to sustainability. It is easy to say that we cannot afford or are unable to act with conservation in mind. It is easy to look at the world, and say that it is not our fault, or that no problems exist at all. Ignorance is bliss in regards to both ourselves and our surroundings.
Thus, my New Year’s challenge? Reflect on my year. Admit one major failure, and admit how I’m changing that.
This year I have accomplished a lot. I graduated from A school, moved to Sacramento, started this blog and a budget, and became a qualified air crew member. I quit Splenda, started buying all organic and local foods, and learned how to make challah. I started to train for a triathlon, and quit training for a triathlon. I learned the proper technique of a spinning round house kick. I went to Zumba, and I made food salsa as well as dance salsa with good friends. I’ve also fought with Jesse, and been selfish and egotistical. I’ve been lazy at work.
Some mornings I have eaten too many donuts (shocking), and was lazy on my recycling. This year I have never once cleaned my toilet. You see, I’ve had toilet cleaner on my grocery list for oh…. 8 months. But more food has always won out. I’ve cleaned the top, just not the insides.
My big failure: This year, I have not been politically involved. It is hard in the Coast Guard yes, with all our regulations, and it is hard with all the moves. However, I have not raised my voice for any political issue except Ted Cruz’s view of gays in the military.
My resolution: Update my WI voter registration. Write one political letter a month. Be involved in the political process and vote in all local elections.
What are your failures, and what are you going to do to learn from them?
This Week in Updates: The Goodwill of Others
These last few weeks have been a whirlwind. Last week was the first week I missed a blog post! I wanted to put out an “out for vacation” post but didn’t even have time to do that. It didn’t help that I got sick, making me actually need to try and get sleep. I’m fighting the post effects now, mainly trying to get back to only 2 cups of coffee a day as opposed to 3 strong ones.
I am grateful though, that everything seemed to work out. Magically, we made good time driving, Jesse’s flight was delayed, I was able to make my own flight despite arriving at the airport 10 minutes before it started boarding, and Dad was able to drive Jennifer everywhere she needed to go on her birthday, in a snowstorm, with no snow tires. With so many people wanting different things, I just kind of did what I could, then threw up my hands. What will happen will happen, I told myself… And stuff did happen. Good stuff! Everyone had their personal talk time with Jesse. Dad and I had our hike. Jesse and I had time to just be together and talk. Jennifer ate lots of ice cream. Jesse got to experience the joy that is Yo Mama frozen yogurt (he got sorbet). Jesse and I got the official grandparents stamp of relationship approval, and the gang once again made it to our now traditional Bucks game.
My favorite moment though, was based off the kindness of a stranger. Many thanks out to Jose of the Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub in Wauwatosa WI. For a date night, I wanted Jesse to experience a real WI fish fry. Problem? Date night was on Wednesday. Also, I didn’t just want any fish fry. I wanted the best fish fry; lake perch and blue gill. You can get cod anywhere. I called and called places, asking if they had a Wednesday fish fry or if they knew anyone that did. Finally I called Jackson’s Blue Ribbon, and the waitress volunteered to ask the chef. I told her Jesse was coming in from Portland. She agreed that HE MUST have true WI fish fry. Low and behold, she called me back and Jose, the chef, agreed. They would bring in fresh fish on December 23rd, just for us.
Now you would think that with them bringing in fish just for one meal, the fish fry would have been expensive. Jesse got a sample of lightly breaded blue gill and lake perch, as well as cod with french fries and coleslaw. He loved them all, his favorite being the blue gill. The total cost for Jesse’s custom meal? $13. We were both floored. What wonderful service and food, from such wonderful people! Clearly, the Christmas spirit is doing good work out there somewhere. Jesse is a good food critic too. So if you ever have the chance to head down to Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub in Wauwatosa for some fish fry, I highly recommend it.
The Recipe: Homemade mocha
So I have always attempted to make my own mochas and hot cocoa from chocolate baking cocoa powder. I don’t like buying the mixes, because they are half powdered milk! I love knowing exactly what is in my mocha, and where it came from. The problem? I could never get the cocoa powder and sugar to completely dissolve. It’s taken me a few years to figure out the trick to getting all that natural, chocolate goodness to stay with my caffeine, where I want it. The trick? A whisk and using powdered sugar, not granular.
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup soy or whole milk
1 cup coffee
Bring milk and coffee to steaming on the stove. Whisk in powdered sugar and cocoa until dissolved. Add cinnamon and nutmeg here if you desire. Bring to a light bowl, whisking occasionally. Poor into your favorite mug, then enjoy!