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Monday, January 19, 2015

Ways to be Better 2015

Now that my winter vacation is over it's time to get back in the habit of regular posting! I took the time off to plan a few posts I hope y'all will find interesting!

The New Year really gives me a great opportunity to go through the process of self-reflection. This is probably because I've always had a great deal of free time around the changing of the year due to being a student and a teacher and having this time free of work.

Here is a short list of five ways I would like to be better in 2015!

1. Travel More

When I moved to Japan in August of 2011 I had this mindset that I would spend my school breaks to travel the world and see all those things I have wanted to see and even some I didn’t know I wanted to. I would explore ruins with friends and find my way through winding city streets of countries far and wide! I would be a globe-trotter! My passport would be overflowing with stamps and visas and be battered and torn. I would be awesome.

Reality quickly set in, and after three years there isn’t a new stamp in my passport, which sits on my bookshelf gathering dust and taunting me. It is one of my biggest regrets for moving to Japan, but reality set in for me, and I found myself struggling to find time to travel due to a number of reasons. Namely, the inability to find someone to travel with. My first real break in Japan I explored the Kansai area, and it was a wonderful experience. Then, life happened and I had to spend my next vacation moving around the country. The break after that was spent saving money after an expensive move, and the following break was wasted on not having a travel partner. After that was a trip home, then saving from a trip home, then another trip home, and then saving again.

You get the drift.

2. Get Rid of Stuff, Embrace Quality over Quantity

I’ve already started this one and it’s awesome. I have a horrible habit of not being able to get rid of anything. I attach sentimental value to the most pointless of things, and my apartment reflects this. I have a wall covered in the tickets and pamphlets of places I’ve visited, I have stacks of letters written by students, and I have countless broken or useless gifts that I cannot bring myself to part with.

If I want to travel, if I want to move again, I will need less stuff.

I also have far too much clothing. There are things in my closet I wore in high school. I try to regularly go through my clothes and donate them, but I still have a hard time really cutting that number down. Last week when I cleaned out my closet I didn’t get rid of nearly as much stuff as I wanted to. Why? I don’t know. I haven’t worn many of these things in far too long. I think it has to do with my obsession with numbers.

We all do it, really, get so obsessed with having more Facebook likes or Twitter followers, the more clothes I have the more I have in general, that sort of mindset. The larger the number, the better my life is, right? It’s something that I put too much focus on and would like to change. I don’t need bookshelves full of books to seem smart, I don’t need closets full of $10 dresses to feel fashionable. Spending $50 on one nice dress vs. $60 on three cute, but cheap ones will be better for me overall. Quality over quantity! Why have 600 Facebook friends when I haven’t talked to over 2/3 of them in the last five years?

3. Do Yoga at Night (or morning, you know, whenever)

Anyone who knows me knows that I stress. I am a worrier. I analyze things that shouldn’t be analyzed. I look at all possible sides and then make up sides that don’t even exist. I used to go to the free gym at my university and take 90 minute yoga classes once or twice a week. This did wonders in just letting me take a time out and reflect on myself and get in touch with my body and the world around me. I love yoga! For me, it works. I need the centering that yoga brings. It’s a mental thing, completely, but I need mental things.

That’s why I want to do yoga at night. Fifteen, thirty minutes, whatever I have time for. Just something to get me grounded. I don’t need huge workouts, I don’t need to contort myself into seemingly impossible poses, but I do need to do something active to remove stress from my life. I've recently discovered a great YouTuber, Yoga With Adriene, who has great videos! I am currently on day 14 of her "30 Days of Yoga" series.


4. Be More Forgiving of Myself and Others

My habit of self-reflection can quickly turn into a habit of self-deprecation. I get so caught up in my own short-comings and it usually ends up as a huge ball of anxiety that sits at the pit of my stomach. I don’t really know where it comes from, but it’s there. Growing up I always had plenty of friends, did well in school, and was lucky enough to have great skin and a higher-than-average metabolism. Yet, for some reason, I always think that everyone else thinks the worst of me. I’ve come a long way in many regards, moving to Japan helped that immensely, but social events still make me slightly uncomfortable.

I also tend to be very unforgiving when it comes to other people. Not overall, but just about certain aspects. People who are oblivious to those around them quickly get on my nerves, causing me to be overly harsh and judgmental towards them. I also have a very low tolerance for people finding things difficult that I view as easy. Not in the sense of stupidity versus intelligence, but in a more general way. Say someone doesn’t understand how to cut an onion into small pieces efficiently, this would make me unreasonably frustrated with this person. Yet I just spent a good minute trying to spell “efficiently” properly, so I wouldn’t be annoyed at someone else for doing the same thing.

I need to let more things rolls off my shoulders, embrace the idea that perfection isn’t possible, and because I am not perfect I am interesting. And the same goes for you. Maybe instead of spending countless hours watching cooking shows on TV as a kid you spent all your time studying to becoming a spelling bee champion.

5. Write More

I am talking about creative writing here. Though, I suppose keeping up with this blog-style writing is also something I should strive to do, but I want my main focus to be on practicing the more fictional side of writing.

Creative writing is a very strange process for me. Where I can easily sit down for 30 minutes to an hour and churn out a blog post, it’s much different to actually sit down and write something more substantial, especially when it involves delving into a different world. A good, standard writing session for me is usually two and a half hours and depends on a number of factors.

Because of this time commitment, it is very difficult for me to just write creatively. But I need to practice more, I need to write things that aren’t such big undertakings. I’ve dedicated myself to writing a list of things I’d like to write this year; short-stories, poems, novellas, full novels, etc., and giving myself little bonuses when I complete them.

Resolutions like “write an hour every day” or “write this many words a week” are great, but leave me feeling down when I miss a day or am in bit of a writing-slump. I also need to get out of my “I can’t write at home!” excuse that I always use, for I spend so much time at home that it is just a lot of wasted potential.

Hopefully this year I can do more of what I want to do and focus less on what makes me feel bogged-down, and make strides towards becoming the person I would love to be once I have it all together. Though, I think that starts with admitting that no one really "has it all together".

Do you have any ways you'd like to improve this year?

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