2019

2019Image credit: Stocksnap

Over the last few months, there have been so many unwritten blog posts. They glide around like ghosts, and this post was almost one of the ghosts because who writes about their new year’s resolutions in February? (Chronically tardy people, that’s who. Which is a perfect description of me.)

Since my last (non-book review) post, I have turned 40. Jon planned a birthday trip for me in Michigan’s wine country, which was amazing and one of my favorite moments of 2018. I’ve read a lot—an odd combination of mysteries and nonfiction. I’ve started on a weight loss journey, and started an Instagram account to document it. I celebrated the new year in a jazz club in Detroit. And I have made resolutions, which I have procrastinated on sharing for approximately 8 weeks now. Here they are:

Resolution 1: Appreciate my body more, flaws and all.

I threw my shapewear in the trash on New Year’s Eve.

I was in a jazz club with my husband, perched stiffly on a bar stool due to my shapewear. I looked around the jazz club and there were women of all sizes wearing their sexiest clothes, and I was done being immobile in my dress due to fear that my fat rolls might be on display. So, I went into the bathroom and trashed my shapewear. And it was liberating.

I may not be at my ideal weight, but my body has always been good to me. My body is strong, and I’m rarely sick. My last book review on the blog (Pure by Laura Kay Klein) and my next planned book review (Hunger by Roxane Gay) both focus on body shame and moving past it. Because life is too short to be uncomfortable in your own skin.

Resolution 2: Do less around the house.

I spend most of my life focused on what I’ve left undone, whether it’s the bathrooms I haven’t cleaned or the phone call I haven’t made or the writing project I haven’t started. Something needs to go.

There are four able-bodied people in my house, and there is no reason that I should be responsible for the great majority of the cleaning.

Resolution 3: Try more independent restaurants in my town.

An unflattering thing about myself: I tend to be kind of grumpy about where I live. I moved to Canton five years ago, when I got married, and I was less than thrilled about leaving Ann Arbor. The suburbs are great if you enjoy SUVs the size of tanks, happy hour at Applebee’s, leisurely strolls through Hobby Lobby, and maximizing your Kohl’s Cash. (Disclosure: I have no idea what Kohl’s Cash is, and I plan to keep it that way.) I’m not that person, so the things I love about Canton are limited to my house, the library, and my gym.

I want to find in joy in the place where I live. Canton is not cool and neither am I, and that’s perfectly fine. But here is a stealthy cool thing about Canton: It’s diverse.

This is where the restaurants come in.

While Canton does have abundance of chain restaurants, there is also a lot of independent restaurants too. They are in strip meals and are generally nothing to look at, but given the high number of immigrants in Canton, they are authentic. Aside from the Indian restaurants closest to my house and a few sushi places I have frequented when Jon is out of town, I largely have not gone to these places. My husband has the most Midwestern palate of anyone I know, and this largely limits where we eat as a family, but going forward I am venturing out even if it means dining alone. And with each meal, I will experience something new about Canton.

Looking at all three of my resolutions, I think this year is about loving my life as it is. It’s definitely not a “burn it all down” year, but a year for contentment and happiness.

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Why I believe in new year’s resolutions.  And new blogs.

NY_stocksnap_jorigekuzmaite.jpgImage credit: Jorigė Kuzmaitė via StockSnap

I love making new year’s resolutions at the beginning of the new year.   The holidays, as wonderful as they are, always leave me tired, overfed on all the wrong foods, and longing to live normally and more simply again.  In the words of Bilbo Baggins, I feel like “butter scraped over too much bread.”

When the new year arrives, I am relieved.  On some level, I remember that I hate January because it traditionally comes with the worst weather of the year.  But I can ignore that because January is a fresh start.

In January, the calendar is blessedly blank.  Salads are fresh and lemony after a month of holiday foods.   My tired body is eager to ease into a yoga practice.  Staying home with a book is much better than going out.  My wallet finally gets to relax.  It is time to re-center.  I may have detoured in a wild forest of frosted Christmas cookies and overscheduled days, but I’m ready to be back home.

I think everyone needs a fresh start sometimes.  I detour from the person I want to be, and the new year is time for me to reflect on who want to be, who I was intended to be, and reorder my life accordingly.

If I’m not careful, I can detour into Bridget Jones territory. Bridget always begins a new year with a new diary and new resolutions.  “Everything is going to be different!  I will be skinny!  I will be career focused!  I will not die alone and get eaten by wild dogs!” At age 21, I related strongly to Bridget, craving the glamorous life I was sure was lurking around the corner.  At age 38, I still relate more than I care to admit, but I’m no longer looking to turn into someone else each new year.

I want this to be the year where I fall in love with my life.  I’m not an in-the-moment person.  I’m an in-the-middle-of-my-task-list person, fully absorbed in micromanaging my own life. I’m not terribly impressed with the state of my career, and  I’ve been disappointed in myself for decades now for not completing a novel yet.  I spent so much time focusing on the areas where I feel inadequate that I miss the beauty of my own life.

I have a beautiful life.  I have a blessed life.  I have love, meaning, a wonderful family, a beautiful home, a job that provides what I need, a church, and opportunities.  This year, I want to be more in love with my husband, to be more generous and loving with my family, to appreciate my cozy home more, to notice the beauty in the world,  to find more meaning in my job, and to get to know my friends better.  In some ways, this blog will be a tool to help me do this.

I also want this to the year that I fall in love with writing again.  I have wanted to write a novel since I was nine or ten.  This is the year to put aside regrets and do what I love.

I also want this to be the year that I speak up at last. Like most women, I’ve been raised to be nice, to be concerned with how other people think of me.  I believe firmly in the importance of being kind, but I’m over being nice.

With the new year also comes my new blog.  I loved my last blog, but I wanted more flexibility with the template, and I was starting to feel like I had outgrown Blogger after 10+ years.  I’m no longer a young girl typing out sarcastic rants to the blogosphere.  I’m nearing middle age, and I have a better idea of who I am and what I have to say.

Fifty-percent of The Cat’s Meow will be book related, mostly book reviews with some lists and essays to balance it out.  The other half will be the personal blogging I’ve done for the last 10 or 11 years, with light-hearted content like favorites lists and silly stories about my pets blended with more personal memoir-type writing and also some travel writing.  I have a blog calendar, which is new to me, and my goal is to post once a week.

Thanks for following me to my new blog.  I wish you a happy new year, full of peace, blessings, good books, time with loved ones, and opportunities to do good.  And may your voice always be heard.