Living in the Present Tense

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Last year in place of specific resolutions, I had the theme of Living Well. I didn't have as much success with it as I wanted to (and often it was reduced to little more than a catch-phrase thrown back in my face during arguments), but keeping that theme in mind did really help me a lot with priorities and decisions.

This year, my theme is Living in the Present Tense.

Two of my biggest faults as a person are constantly dwelling on the past and relentlessly agonizing about the future. The combination of these fixations tends to wreck my present tense, ensuring that all phases of existence are spent in anxiety and frustration. Enough of that. In addition to the whole Be Here Now aspect of existing, I am going to focus on the ways in which I can improve and enjoy my life as it is this moment, in the present tense.

Unlike last year, I have specific ways in which I want to accomplish this goal. Unless you have the same faults and wish to improve them in corresponding ways, I can't imagine my resolutions would be of much interest to you, but then again, seeing someone's dreams is a way of understanding who they are, and in turn, knowing ourselves better.

I've broken it down by aspects of my life I wish to improve. They overlap a lot, and I make no apologies for shoddy organization.

Interpersonal / Social

- Listen. Take words at face value, stop trying to find subtexts or ulterior motives. Pay attention to exactly what people are saying, the sound of their voices, and the words they choose, and respect what they've chosen to communicate.

- See the people you love in the present tense instead of remembering them fondly or wistfully saying we should get together some time. Do it now, and do it again later. Love them in the present.

- Learn to forgive.

- Make time for conversation, even if it seems inconvenient.

- Ask questions and try to learn more about people. The more you understand, the less reason there is to fear interacting with them. Which leads to: quit having panic attacks when you have to talk to people. People are generally pretty nice, and worst case scenario, they're unlikely to throw garbage at you or force you to hang out with clowns.

- Be open to love. Don't sabotage everything, and don't worry so much about it. Trust the universe that if you follow your heart and act in good faith, wherever you end up you will be happy.

Health & Fitness

- Keep running and swimming, and add something else into the mix, most likely yoga. Improve speed, strength, endurance and flexibility, and pay attention to your breathing.

- Lose 60 pounds by 2010. Don't do it all at once - lose 30, then maintain, then lose the other 30. Quit using being fat as a reason to be insecure.

- Eat for pleasure, not hunger. I know it's a backwards mentality and I'm supposed to say something like eat for nutrition and weight-loss, but I am motivated by pleasure. I will eat what's pleasant.

- Sleep. Or lay quietly awake with your thoughts. Either way, go to bed and make an honest effort at staying there until morning.

- Drink more water and less Diet Coke. To the extent that it is pleasing.


- Organize living space in a way that is conducive to work and creativity.

- Do laundry more frequently.

- Contribute more to cleaning the house.

- Organize finances and paperwork. Quit stressing so much about all of it.

- Quit treating this part of life as a big awful chore, even if it kind of is.

Academic & Professional

- Apply myself toward my thesis and write something amazing. Get truly involved in the process and commit to making it a meaningful, rewarding project. (Related: write and submit MFA thesis and documentation, also that long overdue paper on glass, and finish degrees.)

- Put as much time as physically possible into work. Get involved at every level of projects, think of new projects, learn as much as you can, and keep regular lab times. Develop skills for this summer and plan thoroughly for next steps of career.

- Not so much a resolution as something I have to do - take chemistry courses I need for conservation school. Take them seriously and quit telling yourself you're dumb at chemistry and math. Also, probably wouldn't hurt to learn physics.

- Take the GREs again and don't have a cold-sweat panic attack during the math section. Study this time. Also, don't forget the math as soon as you get your scores.

- Develop portfolio for conservation school. Make it stunning.

Personal & Spiritual

- Pay attention to what the universe tells you.

- Act in accordance with your beliefs (this will probably be the hardest thing of this whole list). Be the person you've always wanted to be.

- Be honest with yourself, especially when you are unhappy or want to speak up. No one can take away your birthday.

- Actually learn the rosary and don't just fondle the thing while you pray. Read, pray, and think more about your spiritual life. Don't let pervasive cynicism get in the way of your own spirituality, and meditate with an open heart and clear conscience.

- Paint more, every day. If you have time to go on Facebook and read blogs, you have time to pick up a brush. Draw as much as possible and observe the world.

- Take more photographs. Shoot what you like and enjoy the images as much as you want. Pay attention to what happens in light, and think about what you see. Actually look up that Diane Arbus quote about seeing the world differently with a camera in your hand.

- Relax and breathe. Stop robbing yourself of joy with anxiety.

I think this is a pretty comprehensive list of my goals for this year. Instead of taking my typical New Year's approach (a fresh chance to screw up), I will be optimistic that I can do and be what I want this year. I think the only way to do it is one day at a time, in the present tense.

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This page contains a single entry by Vicki published on January 2, 2009 6:36 PM.

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