It is officially January 3, 2014 (the date I am starting this post, anyway...), and a new year has commenced. I will be 37 years old in 19 days, which is a double whammy; I also celebrate Chinese New Year (being Buddhist and all), making January a triple threat for me. I think, more than any other time of year, January is my month for making changes, metamorphasizing (I make up words on a regular; don't mind me), rising from the ashes if you will. 2013 was not necessarily my friend - in fact, at times, 2013 was quite hellish for me. I am looking for 2014 to be a year of major changes in my life, although they will be ones that take their time in occurring, no doubt. I dread making resolutions - like almost every other human on the planet, they don't usually stick past the first few months. Instead, I set a goal for what I want to accomplish (and yes, I do realize this could be seen as a phrasological argument, but it's my brain, and goals are usually what work as opposed to resolutions) in the coming year - things that make a to do list, if you will, for the upcoming year. I have spent the past week or so thinking of what it is that is important for me to do this year for my own well-being, and I think I have a good grip on what they are going to be.
First and foremost, I need to find a way to get back into school. I currently have an MBA in Management and one in Hospital Administration. I want to complete my PsyD in Forensic Psychology (not the PhD because that is more research-based opposed to the PsyD, which is more practical). I have the school I have been longing to go to already picked out and have attended a couple of events there, but for a couple of reasons, I have not applied. My school loans are over $100,000 - 7 years in undergrad earning my BA in Psych (with a minor in English Lit), 1 year completing both MBAs online, and 2 quarters starting my PhD in Clinical Psych. In other words, A LOT of school went into that 100K, and yes, especially in undergrad, there were a few years in screwing around trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. All of the loans are in my name, which is somewhat uncommon here in the US (financial aid from the Federal Department of Education does not recognize you as an "independent" person until you are 24 yrs of age, married, a ward of the court, or other extenuating circumstances; if you don't meet these requirements, you are required to use your parent/legal guardian's income taxes from the previous year to determine eligibility. I was declared "independent" as far as financial aid was concerned since I was 17 yrs old (long story that I'll kvetch about later), so ALL of that is my debt. !!). Due to life circumstances, I have not been able to pay on my loans when the deferment period ended, and my loans went into default. When I worked at Sad Company, they garnished 15% of my gross paycheck (which was fine with me; in trying to make payment arrangements, they - DOE - decided the minimum payment per month needed to be $1000, which was impossible because I usually made 1/2 of that a month. So I was technically paying back my loans - YAY! - but had to wait until garnishment so that I could pay them back in payments I could afford); they have yet to determine whether or not to do the same with my paycheck from 7/11. Normally, a default is going to screw you out of any additional aid, whether it be for a mortgage, car loan, or student loan, which means I would be completely unable to afford going back to school. My goal (which I have put off until now) is to find out what exactly I need to do in order to be able to pay for school. I have been terrified for the past 2ish years of asking this very necessary question to the school's financial aid counselor, knowing that she may have resources that I could be a candidate for and ways for me to get back into DOE's good graces (there is an automatic deferment if you are in school). I also made a promise to both my grandmother (who passed in 1996) and my son that I would finish school with my doctorate. It has been an important goal for so long for me that I need to actually get on it and stop being afraid of what the outcome will be.
I would like (ok, actually LOVE) to travel this year. It is a goal that I've had for a long time. I have planned to go on a cruise/trip to Hawai'i after graduating with my doctorate, so that trip will wait until then. I would like to see both the local sights (unbelievably, although I grew up and live in Southern California, there are lots of touristy places I haven't been to or seen) as well as go out of state, and maybe out of country (I would definitely need a passport, which is also on the to do list). In February, I will be traveling to Oregon to visit the monkey. I would like to attend Viva Las Vegas this year, but that is going to depend on both finances and time off from work. Other than that, I don't have any specific places I want to go; the goal is to just go. There are lots of places on my bucket list, so knocking some of them off of the list this year would be fantastic, although possibly unrealistic.
Finding my creative streak again is a big must for this year. I was a musician in school, which was my biggest creative outlet then. Music is still huge for me in that I think of moments in terms of music that can express that moment for me, but I have not been listening to enough music of late (and my tastes range anywhere from classical to punk to Top40 to everything in between); that needs to change. My theme song continues to be "F'ing Perfect" by P!nk; I want my love life to be one that calls to mind the Lumineers "Hey." Music can change my mood in an instant - the first chord struck is one that can usually bring me out of a funk or let me wallow in my pity party or enjoy my shift at work. In addition, writing is now a huge creative outlet for me, and I set out with this blog to write once a week. I now know that may be slightly unrealistic (because of work and life), so instead, my goal will be to have 4-5 blog posts a month. I also have a large "bag" of things that I want to create - both for myself, but mainly for others - many sets of sweater guards, some dream catchers, some painting (not actually on canvas, but to help create and complete other projects). And my biggest creative project will be to re-do my room, which is a closet in the garage laundry room. I have been collecting paint chips, fabric swatches, cleaning supplies and other goodies to help transform it into a haven for me. In order to facilitate this creativity, I have two new journals: one is for projects - someplace where I can stash swatches, paint samples/chips, draw out plans; the other is going to be a journal I can keep with me and put in my purse. In order to help me sit down and write in the damn thing, I am trying this a little differently (I have had many journals over my lifetime, but - as with resolutions - I tend to start strong and end up with a lot of empty pages). For the past week or so, I have been cutting out phrases, words, and pictures of what I envision (or want to envision) for the next year. And I will continue to do this throughout the year, instead of just writing in it. The goal is to have something I can look back on to give myself some confidence as well as a place to write poetry, musings on life, daily happenings, whatever. Maybe work out blog posts prior to writing them here. The point is to draw on the creativity that I have buried for way too long.
I am going to perform one random act of kindness once a week. It doesn't have to be anything huge or costly, just something to make someone's day a little easier or a little brighter or a little kinder. I firmly believe in both karma and the Golden Rule (do unto others...) and realize fully that I am more than likely the one who receives the greater joy out of performing a RAK than the person receiving, but regardless, the world could use a lot more kindness in it. If I can help with that, then I want to.
I want to continue to develop relationships with my "new" family (aka my biological father's side of the family, including my sister). My sister and I have a composition book that we write to each other in and send to the other (she lives in Ohio) - not unlike what we did in high school with our BFFs. I am hoping we can bridge the gap of 30yrs of not knowing each other and become friends, if not sisters. I've met two of my uncles (and their significant others) and a couple of cousins, as well as FB friended them, so the steps are there, it will just take time.
I really really REALLY want to learn how to dance. Ethel has invited me out swing dancing with her and her beau, and the next time they offer, I'm going. But I would also like to take formal ballroom lessons as well. In order to help facilitate my back and body allowing me to do this, I want to make yoga a part of my life again, with or without going to a studio to practice. Yoga has always enabled me to be at a level of functioning higher than that which my back's injury would normally allow, and I have wandered away (ok, let's be blunt: I got lazy) from doing it, which is not benefiting me at all and is working to my disadvantage. I think that between the two, I will allow my body to continue to function at a level that would be unexpected from my injury.
I am shooting for being more social... I have done better this year in that I have gone out with Purple and Ethel and stepped out of my comfort zone - a little. I have made it a point to take myself out to lunch/dinner/breakfast once a week, although that doesn't necessarily have me doing a lot of interaction. I figure that the more I put myself out there - however it comes about - I will interact more, and maybe develop a dating life as well as a social life.
Ok, so that takes care of the goals - the major ones, at least - for 2014. I have a tendency to develop other smaller goals throughout the year, and I will update or include them here as they pop up. January is also going to be a month of purging for me... A lot of purging. I need to get out of my head all that has gone on in the past few years in an effort to move completely forward and not just continue on in this existence of glossing over the bad and ignoring it happened (I'm really REALLY good at doing that), cleaning out my room and making it a haven - which means purging out clothes and things I don't use/need, cleaning out my Facebook account (I have already begun this), my phone contacts list, and the list of purging will continue on as I find things I need to move on from. I want to start February fresh; actually, Chinese New Year is the ideal time for me to start fresh, as it starts right around my birthday and it is traditional to "clean house" metaphorically and physically for the celebrations. I have already done some chopping to my hair - oh so necessary!! - allowing some of the length to go and incorporating some layers which will allow me to do more with my hair than I have been able to in a few months. I had already cut bangs about a month or so ago because it became an itch I couldn't scratch, and loved it for a while (as always, it makes me look younger), but am now letting them grow out (I know I am not the only one who goes through this cycle... it has become how to make the awkward phase of growing out work with my look now, but I think I've become adept at it, lol). I am about to go in and color my hair a different color, although it is still red (I had a very vivid dream in which I went to my Helen and told her I needed to color my hair crayon red and we did it... the color I am switching to is called Merlot Vibrant Red, by Vidal Sasson, which is a brand I've never used and a red I've never done, so it will be a first).
|This should be interesting...|
I still have to apply for Covered California, Cali's version of Obamacare; I've been hesitant because I'm worried about the premiums being more than I can actually afford as well as losing my ability to go to the same clinic in order to see the same NP I have become comfortable with.
Every journey begins with a single step (or something like that), so off I go.
Happy New Year everyone - I hope that 2014 brings you happiness, health and prosperity (of all kinds).
|Just as an FYI: Chinese New Year is January 31, and this is the year of the horse (above is a dragon horse).|
PS: Here's a quick pic of Lil Bit, who is now 5 months old and has decided that I am his person... He's so fluffy!!!
|Don't let the cuteness fool you... he's a lethal weapon when he wants to be!!|
One last note: it is only Jan 4, 2014, so it's only taken me a day to post! woohoo!!! lol, ok, I'm done now!