More or Less

More happy memories
More happy memories

I, more or less, have the life I want to have. I am married to the right person. I have kids I really like. I have friends, hobbies and fun activities. I have a career that is well positioned for the present and future, and which I (usually) enjoy. I like my house. I’m somewhere between liking the way I look and being at peace with the way I look. I do meaningful things in my religious life, and in a more limited way in some volunteering activities. I would not want to make sweeping changes to my life in this new year.

But, as always, it is a time for reflection, readjustment and readiness.

The very biggest thing I would want to change, I have changed. I sincerely hope the new job waiting for me in January will be even a portion as well-suited to me as it seems from the interview stage. I believe this will have cascading effects on my energy, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, attention and other areas that have been lacking of late.

That one big one out of the way, here are my mores and lesses.

More: paper art. I have this huge collection of stamps and papers and brads and fun things. I believe that rubber stamping is somewhat waning as an “in” art, but I never did it because it was popular. And in truth, I could scrapbook and stamp for years without having fully utilized the complete extend of what I already own. I want to make and send cards. I want to scrapbook big events. I want to sit at my desk and feel creative.
Key constraint: time & attention. It requires 15-20 minutes where I have no supervision over my children whatsoever. The stamping stuff is, by necessity, physically distant from the main living space, so it requires intention to find myself doing this.
Next step: Clean off stamping area and make inviting.

Less: fussy meals. I’m a good cook. I cook several full big serious meals a week. I like to think that my children benefit from meals with real ingredients, and that I do too. But the prep, fighting over “yes you must take one bite” and cleanup afterwards consume a tremendous amount of my already limited discretionary time. Time spent chopping onions is time not spent playing Quirkle with Grey, reading Scooby Doo to Thane for the umpteenth time, or modelling that reading is a thing our family does by sitting on the couch and reading instead of making dinner. This one is a hard one because cooking good healthy meals is generally something one aspires to do more of. I still want to have that outcome, but somehow magically spend less time doing it.
Key constraint: Habit & preparation. I would need to identify “lower prep” meals and make it easier to make those meals – this would require test driving some more recipes. I need to quash my instinct to add “just one more thing” to the menu, which invariably makes the meal 15 minutes past what I wanted. And I need to not take this too far — this is a striving to moderation.
Next step: Perhaps a list of 30 minute or less recipes? Add a “Friday forage” night to the weekly menu? Challenge myself when I think, “Gee, I don’t have anything planned this afternoon, why don’t I make moussake” with a “Or I could make pork tenderloin and stamp three cards instead”.

More: reading & video games. Sometimes I feel like our lifestyle is a hot air balloon, and one by one I’ve dropped all the “fun but not really productive” activities like bags of sand off the side. Each choice was valid and necessary, but all work and no play makes Brenda cranky. I suspect that this feeling has a lot to do with the massive push that always happens to me in the last quarter of the year, with birthdays, Mocksgiving, Christmas, etc. and this is a somewhat self-correcting problem. Still, I want to feel as though it’s ok to waste time and goof off and not do something useful, and I think that I need that. The Economist recently had a series on video games, and talked about the ingrained human need for play. In an attempt to maintain altitude, I’ve tried to ignore my own need for play. That’s ok in short durations, but I do not think it is durable.
Key constraint: Time. Both of these are absorptive activities – this is an area where I have weak willpower to stop, which means I can be afraid to start. For me, opening a novel at 9 pm is a very bad idea, since long experience has taught me that the most likely outcome of that evening involves 1 am and a very cranky husband. This is also time I’ve used in the last year or two to be social (yay neighbors!) which is also a really important and valuable thing to my mental health.
Next step: Well, I just got a co-op game for XBox (my poor husband must be all like, “I thought this was MY present?!?!”). With the reading, I have yet to solve this problem. Audio books have helped a bit, but I’m not sure that’s the entire conclusion.

Less: clutter. Time, once again, to take a hard look at the objects that inhabit my living space and question their right to exist and take up the rays emitting from my eyes. Perhaps a few visually distracting areas can be redone to be more contained.
Key constraint: energy. Just looking around now, the last thing I want to do is to start tackling some of those rats nests, and it’s relatively early and I have tomorrow off. If not now, when?
Next step: Discrete periods of time. Saying to my husband, “Let’s take half an hour and go through the china cabinet” has proved an effective strategy in the past.

Other mores:
– Playing music
– Going to concerts or musical events
– Healthy and fun exercise (no longer mutually exclusive with video games!)
– Seeing friends I rarely see
– Do all my pt for my knee

Other lesses:
– Fewer empty calories
– Less conflict with my three year old (and I want a pony too!)
– I would love to in general be less rushed and less efficient… a little more leisurely and less hard on myself

So, what about you? What do you want less of in 2012? What do you want more of?

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

7 thoughts on “More or Less”

  1. Good thing you don’t set the bar too high (ha ha) All your goals sound well thought out and many of the same to which we all would aspire. I will be cheering for you. Hugs.


  2. Less conflict with you three-year-old. Hmmm! Are you planning to put him up for adoption? Three-year-old = conflict. When you are feeling wiped out by the conflict, look at your 6 year old who can now play by himself for over an hour. Be patient. This too shall pass!

    Otherwise, good list

    The un-examined life is not worth living. ~Socrates


  3. Well, if you need an authority to back you up on game play, you can quote Spock, who said that as we grow more intelligent the need for simple play expands. I use this when I felt a bit of guilt over the ‘me’ time. That’s Mr. Spock, by the way, not the Dr…….

    I tried something different this year for my resolutions. I realized that most of them were rather fanciful, things I would do if I had the time and resources. So, I decided to simply do what I already do better and enjoy it more. Not be late for work, for example. I have a 30 minute commute, and I find myself dragging and having to speed to compensate, and getting frantic. My goal is to have a nice drive and be there early, even if it is only a minute.

    My others are in the same vein. Keep at my clutter, keep up the exercise, keep on avoiding junk food and skipping desert, keep on working at family relationships.

    My theory is that if I had enough interest to do it, I would already be doing it… trouble has always been that I have so many interests, I have to rob thing like sleep and family time to do them. So, I have to be carefull….I have gotten so wrapped up in my hobbies I didn’t have time for people. So, I have to look long and hard before I let my head of steam take me somewhere I can’t get back from easily.

    Other that that, you know, balance in all things….balance is my mantra. I wish you success in 2012!


  4. With regard to food…when you do your “fancy meals” make extra and put it in the freezer for better “tv” dinners. Have you considered Once a Month Cooking? (or once a week) I do a couple big pots of something on Sundays sometimes. That way we have really good leftovers during the week if (when) I don’t feel like cooking. Also, breakfast for dinner is usually quicker/easier.


      1. also, I ♥ my crockpot. A lot. We do the same with leftovers. But we also have them for dinner some nights. Admittedly, we have fewer lunch eaters.


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