Saturday, December 30, 2006

Looking ahead to 2007

This has been a wonderful holiday season so far. Time with friends and family, some back from states far, far across this large nation, many of whom I haven't seen in about 18 months due to the little China Interlude of my life.

I rarely make resolutions anymore. Prefer to think of them as "goals," concrete goals at that, stuff like, "Read 25 [non-school] books." I've slowly been gathering together my scattered thoughts and reflections on my current life and where I'd like to go this coming year.

First up, everybody's favorite topic: money.

As the Bay Area is an Expensive Place to Live, and I Make Little Money as an employee of a non-profit organization, I've begun taking a good hard look at my finances. I think a small part of me has always been very taken with simplicity and intentional living, even though I'd never thought of it in those terms and hadn't heard of the Simple Living movement until years later. Probably why i've been obsessed with environmentalism for a very long time now, in one of those synergistic vibe-y thingies [my vocabulary is currently in hiding, apparently].

But anyways, I've been tracking all my expenditures ala Your Money or Your Life [recommended, BTW], trying to be more intentional about where I spend my dollars, conscious of where it all goes. And this coming year, I've decided, I will play small games as a way to challenge myself in growing and changing my attitude towards money.

So. January is Buy Nothing New month. Yes, I realize this probably means foregoing lots of end-of-the-season sales [haven't even hit a single post-christmas sale to date, and apparently I've got one more day to go], but you know what? There's really nothing I need right now, so why throw good money after something that really doesn't do much for me?

Playing games. I like.

Issue the second. Food. Food, oh, glorious food. Where would I be without you?
I've had an interesting relationship with food over the course of this lifetime. Health maniac on the one hand, closet snack junkie on the other. Seriously closeted, seriously a junkie. My friends consider phrases such as "Mix food groups, mix food groups!" common fare for this wayward one ... nobody is ever surprised when I go off on weeklong tofu obsessions ... or hummus obsessions ... or edamame ... or ... yeah. I'm the girl who fed her lactose-intolerant friend Calcium tablets in high school, and who got really excited anytime anybody forewent soda for water.
But I snack. A lot. I've tried this 2 years ago and it didn't last very long [aka Operation Cold Turkey], but here's another crack:
The 31 Day Snack Fast.
Just as I'm trying to be intentional about where my money goes, I would like to be much more intentional about the foods that I consume. This means no sweets and no unplanned snacks for the month of January. Ack. I half think I will die and half think that my body will be the happiest it has ever been.
Two exceptions to the No Sweets Rule:
1) My friend/coworker/family member comes running in and is terribly excited because they just baked a pan of scrumptuous sweets, and would I like to try a piece?
2) Someone has a birthday and a piece of cake/etc. is passed my way.
For the Unplanned Snacks Rule, this is where intention comes in. I can, for example, bring frozen pumpkin bread in that was baked during a November Pumpkin Mania; so long as I have predetermined that this will be a midmorning snack, there is nothing wrong with this. Also, I don't really consider pumpkin bread to be "sweets," especially since we had no chocolate chips on hand during the November Pumpkin Mania. So. Perhaps I shall hunt up a recipe for banana bread or poppyseed bread or nut bread or something, because in my mind that seems healthy enough.
But enough of this a little piece of chocolate here, a cookie there, handful of chips during lunch business. There is no sense nickel-and-diming myself to death, monetarily or calorically.

Oh beautiful dessert, we shall have to wait until February to meet once again. The hope is to recalibrate the internal sweet tooth, but maybe this will mean better enjoying desserts, without the little nagging guilts and sugar saturations of lots of little pieces of junk.

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