Tuesday, December 31, 2013: At the beginning of this year, I made a lot of ambitious resolutions, as many of us do. I believe in making myself accountable, so, before making a new set of highly breakable resolutions for 2014, I’ll review how I did with accomplishing my 2013 resolutions. To see my original post on January 1, check out: RESOLVED 2013!!!
Thirteen is usually my lucky number, so I hoped this would be a good year. Overall, it was a good year, but in some ways, it was a mixed bag. I am always foolishly optimistic that if I aim high, I at least will achieve SOMETHING!! I’m sure you all have figured out what a Type A personality I am… sorry! This I cannot escape…
1) Finances: PAY DOWN MY DEBTS substantially (…by 50%). Save $6,000 for trip this summer to Spain, Portugal (& Morocco?). Don’t spend money on anything other than travel unless it’s absolutely essential!
I did this pretty much! I actually paid down my debts by about 50%, but then once I got back to the USA, I went for a couple of months without a paycheck and had to spend more money on settling back in. So I’d say a 40% reduction in debt. And I did save the money for my month-long trip to Spain and Portugal.
2) Health & Fitness: Exercise 4x/week! Walk, do The Firm aerobics weight training video, or ride the exercise bike at the gym. Bring healthy lunches to work. DRINK WATER!!! Keep track of my eating on myfitnesspal. Lose 13 pounds and KEEP IT OFF!! (Current weight 66 kg/145 lb; goal: 60 kg/132 lb.) When I get back to the USA, ride my bike outdoors at least 2x/week.
FAILED miserably on all counts. I went in the opposite direction and am now at 150 lbs. 😦
3) Writing: FINISH AND PUBLISH MY NOVEL. THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR 2013!! (I finally read it in its entirety in November & December of 2012, and after 10 years of not looking at it, I couldn’t put it down!! I was surprised that I actually wrote it… ) Revise it, cutting out 150 pages and fixing all the problems. Within the year, send it to an editor and then to publishers. If no one will publish it, self-publish!! Once this is done, begin my next project.
I did manage to revise 37 of my 50 chapters, but I didn’t finish. So of course I didn’t even try to get it published.
Blogging: Continue to write my Oman blog until I leave Oman at the end of June. Commit to a 52 week blogging project: one contemplative photo with accompanying journal entry per week. On this one day a week, I should do some spiritual type of walk, pilgrimage or meditation, journal about it and post an accompanying photo. I’ll aim to do it on Fridays while in Oman and on Sundays once I return to the U.S.
I did this on most Fridays in Oman, but it dropped off once I returned to the USA.
Finish my Cairo blog (what I can remember from 5 1/2 years ago!). Edit my Korea blog to show more and larger photos. I have some beautiful photos from Korea, but the blog doesn’t showcase them well.
Did all of this!
Finally, I added something that wasn’t on my list. I completed an online travel writing course with the Australian Writer’s Centre in November. I hope to put what I learned to use in 2014.
4) Photography: Learn to use the manual settings on my camera and experiment with photos. Get a photo editing program and play around with photos. Take a photography class when I return to the USA in the fall.
Mixed bag. Experimented some but not enough. Didn’t take a photography class. Didn’t try a new photo editing program.
5) Language and Knowledge Goals: Try to read a bit of the Quran each night to gain an understanding of Islamic culture. Study Arabic: Complete Level One of the Rosetta Stone Arabic. Review Chapters 1-12 in Al-Kitab. Study 1/2 hour 5 nights/week. I’m serious. Really. (I didn’t do this all last year, and really, I’m not that motivated to do it this year, especially since I will be leaving the Arab world at the end of June. However, I’ll still keep it on the back burner as a goal I’d like to achieve.)
Didn’t do any of this!! 😦
6) Travel goals: IF we get a semester break in January, go to either Sri Lanka, Kathmandu, Zanzibar, Morocco or Prague. Go to Spain, Portugal & Morocco (a kind of Moorish adventure) this summer for 5 weeks.
Went to Nepal and Spain and Portugal. Decided to drop Morocco off the list and go back another time.
In Oman: I only have 6 more months in Oman, so my goal is to see everything of significance that I haven’t seen. On the list are: Ar Rustaq, Ashkara Beach, Little Snake Canyon, the Oryx Sanctuary, Persian steps of Izki, the Damaniyat Islands (snorkeling), Sumail, Wadi Ghul and Al Khitaym, Safari Desert Camp in Wahiba Sands, Sinkhole Park (in Hawiyat Najm Park), Wadi Abreieen, Wadi Dayqah Dam, and Barr al Hickman beaches. Visit the Chedi for a day at the pool. I’d also like to see the Arabian horses in Adam.
Went to Ar Rustaq, drove by Ashkara Beach, went to Little Snake Canyon, tried in vain to find the Persian steps in Izki, hiked at Wadi Ghul, went to Sinkhole Park, Wadi Abreieen and Wadi Dayqah Dam. Went to the Chedi for brunch. Never did all the other things. 😦
In the region: Visit my new friends in Abu Dhabi. Take a weekend trip to Al Ayn in UAE. If we have a long weekend, visit the Islamic museum in Doha, Qatar.
Didn’t do any of this. 😦
Back in the USA: Take weekend trips around Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee. Try to save for a trip to California to visit my sister and Jayne over the Christmas break.
Went to all these places except Tennessee and West Virginia. Am going to California from January 2-13.
One thing I really want to do on my travels is to linger and be more observant. I want my trips to be a kind of spiritual pilgrimage, where I am totally present to each moment. I want to be aware, keep a journal rich in details and take time with photos, learning about and experimenting with the manual settings on my camera.
Didn’t really linger as long as I would have liked, though I did off and on.
7) Family goals: Have my husband Mike and my two sons, Alex (21) and Adam (20), come to visit me in Oman for 11 days. (They arrive January 1!) Try to talk online more regularly with the boys and Sarah in the next 6 months. When I return home, spend quality time with each of my family members individually and together as a family.
When I return home to the USA, spend time with my daughter Sarah (28) in Richmond. If Mike is open to it, work on our marriage. Reconnect with my father, my sisters and my brother.
Spent time with Sarah. Mike and I are working on getting used to each other and still trying to decide about the future of our marriage. Reconnected with my father and my sister Joan, but haven’t still seen my brother in New Jersey or my sister in California (will see her January 2, 2014).
8) Social: Cultivate new friendships with great discernment. Cultivate at least one new friendship in Oman and one in Virginia. Make more of an effort to talk to my close friends regularly. Invite someone somewhere once a month, either to come by for dinner or a movie, or to go on an outing. Reconnect with my old friends in northern Virginia and Washington. Plan a get together with my old high school friends. Attend the fall York High School gathering.
I cultivated a nice friendship with Tahira in Oman and of course spent time with Mario, Anna and Kathy, Mona Lisa and some time with other co-teachers. Reconnected with my old friend Susan from my Richmond stockbroker days, and with Sarah, a Korean friend from my single days. But honestly, I haven’t really cultivated friendships since I returned home to the USA.
Finally, DON’T attend a single social gathering unless my heart is really into it. Forget about making an appearance unless I REALLY WANT to do so. And, don’t let any person disturb my peace of mind with his/her criticisms, unsolicited advice or intimidating tactics! I have fought hard for my independence and self-esteem over the last 5 years. Guard them relentlessly.
9) Cultural: Visit the museums in Oman that I haven’t seen. Go to 1 show during the spring at the Royal Opera House. Get involved in more InterNations activities. Keep an eye out for other cultural activities.
Did some of this, but not others.
When I return to Washington, attend Jazz in the Sculpture Garden on Friday evenings. Visit the museums and art galleries in Washington. See good movies in American cinemas!! Find new places to listen to live music. Explore the rich variety of ethnic restaurants in Washington and northern Virginia:-)
Have done a lot of this, but never made it to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden.
10) Home sweet home: Move back home to Virginia, after my Moorish adventure, by early August. Reacquaint myself. Settle in. Learn to see my old home with fresh eyes.
I’m working on this but it’s a challenge. (See reverse culture shock: the elusive “american dream”)
11) Work: Finish up my job with University of Nizwa by June 26. Begin working at my new job in the fall semester. Apply to teach at least one class in international relations (using my hard-earned Master’s degree in International Commerce & Policy) as an adjunct, in addition to ESL classes. Apply, once again, for a job at USAID or another AID organization.
Finished my job at UNIZWA and began at Northern Virginia Community College in the fall. Applied at NOVA to teach international relations but never heard back. Only applied for a small number of other jobs. Need to work on this full force in 2014.
12) Eliminate at least one bad habit: SPENDING MONEY on unnecessary things. Yep. I keep trying this one. I have high hopes on this for the coming year.
I did really well at this in 2013, compared to how I’ve done in years past! Still could get better though.
13) Spirituality: Begin a meditation practice, starting with at least 10 minutes a day. Read books about Buddhism, pilgrimage, spirituality, along with my other reading. Read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Start reading books about the Camino de Santiago and prepare to do some kind of pilgrimage in 2014. Attend some services at Washington National Cathedral.
Mixed bag here. I did a meditation practice early in the year, but as I prepared for my trip to Spain and Portugal and to return home, this fell by the wayside. Began the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. I won’t be able to do the pilgrimage in 2014, so I’ve put this aside. Went to the Cathedral, but not for services.
14) LOVE: Open up my heart. Invite LOVE to find me…♥♥♥♥♥♥ (Still remaining hopeful on this.)
Still remaining hopeful. 🙂