There was a time when the adage “time flies when you’re having fun” seemed valid commentary on the circumstances of life. Now, at 44, it wholly needs to be adjusted to accommodate the fact that time flies simply by my being awake. On the bright side, this does mean far fewer moments of life wasted by being mindnumbingly bored. On the other hand, it also means many more moments of life are spent fearing the accelerating approach of death. But right now, at this very moment, it means that the first quarter of 2016 is in the history books and that means I need to do an update on my 2016 resolutions which, by the very existence of this post you’re reading, I have not yet forgotten about. That alone is a small but notable success.
1a I will write a minimum of 1000 words every day, weekends, holidays, and sick days included.
This resolution was a success, until it wasn’t. I did write 1000 words every day for the months of January and February which was quite a feat let me assure you. It proved a lot more difficult than I’d imagined and as I lamented in this post, in retrospect it was perhaps not the best thought out resolution. So when March came I decided that I would set this resolution aside in order to better pursue the second part of this resolution and also my life in general. The reasons for doing so are well described in the post I linked to above but the short version is that by forcing myself to write 1000 words each day left I left no time for editing my work or researching new work or the dozens of other chores that go into producing quality writing. Not to mention all my daily homemaker responsibilities needed to be attended to as well. Daily word quotas may work when writing a novel but for the stage I’m at with writing, it was doing more damage to my work than anything else. So I quit this one for now. Suffice it to say, though, I did genuinely do it for one sixth of a year.
1b I will write and submit a short story to a literary magazine by October 31st.
I haven’t done much on this one yet and didn’t really intend to during the first quarter of the year. That being said, I did manage to accomplish two things that while not specifically addressing this resolution, are someone related. In February I submitted a guest post to a popular Canadian dad blogger which you can read here. I earned $25 for that which makes me a bonafide professional writer. Next I took that $25 and used it to submit an entry into the CBC Creative Non-Fiction Prize contest. I had a blog post that I was working on that seemed a perfect fit so when I discovered the contest, I went about tailoring the post for entry. It’s an account of my, shall we say interesting, experience with an employment counsellor after I was laid off from Gulf Canada back in the day. I won’t know if my work is a finalist until the end of summer but I’m still kind of proud for doing this. Fingers crossed.
2 I will not eat a single morsel of chocolate until my birthday on March 1st.
Success! Details of my celebration, in all its disturbing glory, can be found here. I’m proud to have achieved this one because I really wasn’t sure I could do it. I’m a little less proud of my relapse since. There remains work to do. But having a specific deadline sure helped and while cutting out all chocolate was perhaps unnecessary (surely a chocolate chip muffin isn’t a sin) I’m encouraged by this success and hope to embark on a follow up test soon.
3 I will cut our monthly grocery budget in half before year’s end.
This one. THIS ONE! More than any other resolution I made this year, this one frustrates me the most. On my first grocery shopping trip of the new year I went to four separate grocery stores and spent 2 ½ hours purchasing food for the coming week. I saved money doing that, yes, but lost a not insignificant portion of my remaining sanity in doing so. This was obviously not the solution to reducing my grocery bill and in the weeks since that ill-fated start I’ve given up on chasing value at every grocery store near my house. Time, even for a procrastinating, unemployed homemaker like me, has value.
This resolution has proven both a success and a failure in Q1 and it leaves me perplexed. I have indeed reduced our grocery bill, quite substantially in fact, but there is no way in hell I will cut it in half. I have learned several things during these first three months of my attempt to do so. One, switching from Safeway to Real Canadian Superstore alone has reduced my grocery bill by a couple hundred dollars a month. I remain stupefied by the price discrepancy on some items and wonder why anyone continues to shop at places like Safeway/Co-op/Sobeys.
Two, there are limits to my willingness to save money. Sometimes a good deal is exactly that. Other times it is an illusion. Meat, for example, is tricky prey for the bargain hunter. The giant package of regular ground beef 30% off the already reduced bulk price may seem like a good deal until you cook it and end up with three hours of cleaning afterwards to remove the grease that splattered all over the kitchen while doing so. Then there’s the eating of such greasy, fatty food which leaves the tummy somewhat, shall we say, grumbly.
And three, I think the inspiration for my chasing this elusive resolution, Buzz from Dad Camp, simply eats less than I do. Or his family eats less than mine does. I otherwise don’t understand how he’s able to feed them on $500 per month. There truly is no way we’ll achieve that target. None. Oh I suppose I could really reduce the quality of food we’re willing to eat and I will continue to look for opportunities in cutting costs but I still wish to enjoy food and actually feel full afterwards. For us, that is impossible on $500 per month. Oh woe is me and my first world problem.
Regardless, I am reaping partial success with this endeavour. I am saving money on our grocery bills. I’m down approximately $400 per month for February and March over those same months the previous three years. At this pace I still stand to gain $4000 in savings for the year which is a fair amount of pocket change and far surpasses the cash back credit card rebate of $1200 I was boasting about. I’ve accumulated $100 in savings in my PC Mastercard account too so the points I’m earning by shopping at Superstore is adding to the savings. While I may not be cutting things in half, the progress I’ve made is rewarding and encouraging. I’m hoping that this continues and with the money I save I’ll finally be able to buy a modern smartphone and accompanying wildly overpriced data plan which will let me further my savings by properly capitalizing on price matching opportunities, something I’ve thus far been unable to reap any value from thanks to my dated, malfunctioning, pink cell phone.
4 I will dedicate one full, uninterrupted hour each day to playing with my kids.
Regrettably, I have thus far failed miserably on this resolution but in a shameless attempt to deflect blame I’m outright accusing my kids. Apparently they don’t want to play with me anymore. Woe the hubris I unwittingly showed when writing this resolution, blindly embracing the assumption that my kids still thought I am the greatest toy on the planet. Whoops!
Okay, okay, it’s not all their fault. I need to make a better effort to engage them. Specifically, I need to come to them with concrete suggestions rather than a vague, “Do you want play something together?” With a specific activity or two offered up in my approach I may garner a more positive response from them. This is a resolution I want to do better on in the coming months but I must admit it’s hard finding any time to do it with sports, lessons, and playing with peers taking up so much of their time. I fear this noble effort was better suited to their younger years than now.
5 I will refuse to look at Facebook between the hours of 9:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Well, I did fairly well on this one until we began contemplating a Spring Break vacation in Las Vegas which led to my discovery of MyVegas on Facebook which is 2 parts game that enables you to earn free stuff in Vegas and 98 parts industrial research facility strength time suck which, though boring as an emergency room wait in the middle of the night, is deceptively addictive because, hey, FREE STUFF, and thus I’ve found myself sneaking onto Facebook between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm to watch the digital slots turn despite not only my better judgement but my desperate hope to at least fulfill most of my resolutions not to mention the fact that we never did go to Las Vegas so I have no excuse for continuing to play this ridiculous “game”. I still hate Facebook.
6 I will lose 20 pounds by July 1st.
Umm … … sorry?
This one started out reasonably well, what with the eating no chocolate for two months thing. I was losing a bit of weight without much effort at all. Then March came and not only did I willingly leap off the chocolate wagon, but the fatigue issues I’ve battle off and on for many years started escalating again which spooked me. I’ll save you a long sob story and simply say that my brain was scaring me and so not only did I refrain from exercise, rest being my usual response to fatigue, but I also regressed on the refraining from self-medicating with sweets front too. I’m disappointed in myself and hope to get my shit together very soon on this one. I’m also seeing my doctor to investigate some new treatment options so who knows. I’ve still got almost 3 months to accomplish this one so it’s not a write-off yet. Fear not ladies, my Chris Hemsworth moment may yet happen!