Friday, January 27, 2017

2017 Focuses

Linking up today with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0

Today's (errr... a few weeks ago on Friday... didn't manage to get this post finished by then) theme for the link up, and life in general given the time of year, is resolutions or goals for 2017. I don't like doing "resolutions" per se, just in that they have a connotation of valuing the destination more than the process, using quick fixes to "improve" your life but not stick.

But I do like to have goals, and I like the fresh start of a new year to think about things. Here's what I'm looking at focusing on this year.

Be informed

I joke that I get all my news from facebook and twitter. But... it's actually pretty true. It means it's a bubble of liberal sources, it's easy to get lazy and not check if things are a reputable source, I see what's trending but not a comprehensive view of other news.

I want to read legitimate, reputable, reasonably-unbiased news on a regular basis. Be aware of what's going on, without getting totally overwhelmed or having to spent an excess of time that I don't have. I also want the process of being informed to be visible to the baby as he starts being more aware of his surroundings, and set a good example for him.

We've subscribed to The Week and The New Yorker. I've started actually reading the little weekly newspaper for our county that comes in the mail (and doing the crossword!). I've set the Portland Tribune as my home page on my personal computer and the BBC on my work computer. I've subscribed to email updates for my Congress members, as well as following them on facebook. And signed up for almost every resist/activist types newsletter I've come across.

Well, written out like that it sounds overwhelming already! But I'll see what ends up seeming useful and well-rounded, and perhaps fine tune over time.

But Make America Kittens Again to keep yourself sane.

Be an activist.

I want to know what's going on in the world, and I want to take action to make the world the world I want to live in. Knowing what current issues are going on will help! But I also have to step outside of my comfort zone - probably waaaay out of my comfort zone! 

I started by going to the Women's March, and following up with sending postcards to my Congress members. I'm keeping an eye on the Science March that's being planned. I feel like I should join other marches in Portland - I hesitate in whether that's risky - but I have the privilege to not have to march for my direct safety or life like other groups do. Maybe I need to take a risk, to at least some degree, because I have to to be giving back fully. I also wonder if I'll be accepted by the core group at whatever march I join - would I be welcome at a Black Lives Matter event? I would assume so, if I'm being respectful and helpful, but how do I now if I'm being respectful and helpful?

Speaking up.

Find community.

My default life circumstances have always been... very white. Grew up in a small-ish rural town, went to a Christian college, and work at an accounting firm in one of the wealthier suburbs of Portland. So in that sense, I've always been surrounded by people "like" me: namely, white, middle to upper-middle class, Christian (either actually or culturally), moderately educated. 

But my identity is more than that. I want to know other vegetarians, feminists, mothers who want to keep their kids gender neutral as long as their kids will let them and without crossing the line into unethical sociological experiment, people who love the outdoors but don't really enjoy being outside. I want support to go vegan, to fill out the top of my firm with more women, to keep breastfeeding, to explore nature.

But I also want to meet people unlike me. I want to know people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds (without being like, hey, will you be my black friend? cause I'm pretty that isn't the way to go about it). I want to know people who are from other religious upbringings. I want to know scientists, and artists, and politicians. Seriously, this is Portland, I ought to be acquainted with a lot more hippies than I am.

I've dipped my toe in the vegan community, though let some of that lapse while pregnant. There's a family-oriented hiking group I want to participate in (who knows how I'll fit that into life, though), which would check probably a lot of boxes. Seeking out activist opportunities should also provide opportunities to learn from a variety of people. 

The one No Meat Athlete run I made it to.


Social media is a double edged sword. You can keep in touch with old friends. (I at least casually stay in contact with a number of high school friends - including one who lives nearby and has a baby close in age to mine - I really should get together with her for a baby play date!) You can meet like-minded people with whom you wouldn't otherwise cross paths. (I'm part of a group of about 150 women that formed somewhat randomly from the comment section of a website that closed down, and they've been an enormous support through some challenging experiences.)

But, of course, you can also keep your nose in your phone, reading about people's lives on the other side of the country while you're nursing your son - and miss out on a chance to enjoy the sweet baby smell on his head. I don't want him to see me using my phone or computer as a way to escape the world. He can see me using it as a tool - to communicate directly with people, to do research, to take photos. But I don't him to learn that it's ok to use as a crutch in life.

It's also far too easy to keep relationships via social media superficial. Just liking posts might be interaction and technically keep you in contact with someone, but it's not real community. I'd like to disconnect from the technology itself and instead leverage it for real depth and connection. I saw an acquaintance on facebook once spend a month only commenting on things, not using the like button - forcing herself to have real interactions and conversations. I'm thinking about doing that or something similar.

Do as I say, kid, not as I do.

Be disciplined

Here are my "typical" goals. It wouldn't be that hard to say, you just had a baby, you're breastfeeding. Who cares how much you run this year. And there's something to be said for that. But I also know those activities are extremely helpful to me in living my best life, and having a number to shoot for keeps me motivating to do them enough to thoroughly enjoy them.

But I do have to be realistic, so mostly I'm using numbers around half of what I set as goals last year.

Running: 600 miles
Biking: 500 miles
Swimming: 25,000 yards
Reading: 2 books or 500 pages each month
Volunteering: 1 event each month outside of tax season (May - December)

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