A Single Resolution

Acceptance

I think the world was made in round
To keep us all from lying down.

But another possibility
Is that it’s curved so we can’t see –

Too far into the future plan
What lies in store for those who ran…

And turned their backs to follow heart
And chose to live their lives apart.

-James Gray

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Chose to live their lives apart.

I don’t know what that means to you. Hell, I don’t even know what it means to me. All I know is that in 2014, I’m going to continue to try my best to do it.

Back in 2011, I decided to stop waiting for other people to make me happy and start doing things to make myself happy. Doesn’t seem like that challenging of a concept, but you’d be surprised how many people refuse to do it. Why? Because doing it requires a lot of discomfort. Like, I would say that I am uncomfortable 90% of the time, whether it’s because I’m socially awkward, currently strapped up to a heart monitor that I think I’m allergic to, or because I’m constantly pushing myself to make my life more exciting. Mostly the first last one.

When my ex-husband and I separated, I decided I was going to take a picture every single day for the entire year that we had to be separated before I could file for divorce. My reasoning for doing so was that I had never lived by myself before, and I wanted to remember my first year on my own. I was terrified of what it would be like to live on my own. At first, I took a lot of pictures of my dog. Cute as he is, I didn’t really want to look at 365 pictures in a row of him. I started noticing seemingly mundane things, like the way the sun was hitting the wheat field near my house, because it might make for a cool photo. I was experiencing the world more because I was forcing myself to notice it. Soon, I realized that something strange was happening without me even trying – I went out of my way to put myself in situations that would yield an interesting picture. Nothing crazy at first, but I would think things like “Well, even though I’ll be anxious going out for drinks, at least I’ll get a good picture.” The same thing happened when I started this blog. I found myself doing things because it would be fun to write about. And you know what? Things that are interesting to write about are also interesting to do. And they make your life more interesting by proxy.

In 2014, my only resolution is to make my life as interesting as possible. That’s it. I’m choosing to “live my life apart.” I want to tell people my plans and hear them say “that’s insane” because they are so out of the ordinary that they would never occur to most people. I don’t want to limit myself by anyone else’s idea of what’s safe or fun or worthwhile or entertaining or smart. I want to look back at my pictures and not be able to believe that I was lucky enough to experience any given event or day. I want to have stories to tell my grandkids (if I can figure out a way to get grandkids without having to actually have children). This year, I’m going to focus on learning more about other people and the way they live. When I go to other countries, I’m going to eat their weird food (without asking what it is first, because I feel like that will yield better results). I’m going to stay in traditional hotels and homes, do homestays when possible, visit farms, head to off-the-beaten-path destinations, and volunteer. I want to spend 2014 improving myself through the perspectives of others.

I don’t want my life to be ordinary. I don’t want yours to be, either. But “ordinary” is relative. The fact of the matter is that we all have different resources, different capacities, and different desires. Stop telling yourself that your life can’t be exciting because you don’t have the same resources as someone else. You might not be able to travel the world, but I bet you can go to a state park with your kids and go hiking, get a little lost, and make some great memories. You might not want to raise money by running a marathon for charity, but there’s probably a soup kitchen that could use your help one Saturday. You can always be more fascinating. This is one of the most important lessons that I am constantly trying to learn.

I am under no illusions. I know life is not easy and people have very challenging lives. I know there are many factors that limit what we can and cannot do, but the biggest barriers are the mental limits we place on ourselves. Don’t let anyone else define what a fulfilling existence means to you, just strive to make the life you are living now more fulfilling. I do not think I live the most interesting life in the world or anything even close. A lot of people would probably think it is pretty bland. I just know that I live a much more interesting life than is natural for me. That is the key. Expand your boundaries just a little bit, whatever those boundaries are. I push myself out of my comfort zone every day because discomfort brings growth and cool souvenirs.

I don’t know if this makes sense. It may sound like the naive ramblings of a privileged twenty-something who lives in a bubble.  I should probably resolve to save more money, or stop biting my nails, or stop throwing ideas at AJ just to see him roll his eyes, but I’ll stick to this instead. My blog would be pretty boring otherwise.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your new year’s resolution?

53 thoughts on “A Single Resolution

  1. I really like your resolution because it’s practical. It’s something you can accomplish in multiple aspects of your life and not just a goal like cutting carbs or cutting out sugar or quitting smoking or one of the many things people set their minds to on Jan. 1.

    There is definitely something to be said for living life to the fullest wherever you are and just experiencing it without reservations. I like how you talked about the pictures and how much more you noticed, one of the issues with adulthood is I think I’ve stopped noticing as much as I did when I was a kid. We just get stuck in the ruts of life.

    Here’s to a happy 2014 for you. Good luck at the Charleston Marathon- I will be at the expo so I hope to see you, maybe! I’m pacing the half!

    1. Perfect! I will definitely stop by the expo and say hi! So exciting that you are pacing the half! I would love to do that, but I’m the world’s least consistent pacer. I hope you have a blast!

      1. Thanks. I have never paced before. I actually searched for tips on blogs and found nothing… so once this is over, hopefully I can give some tips in a blog post or something. Do stop by and say hello or let me know if you wanna hang while you’re in Chas.

  2. What a fantastic idea! Count me in! I don’t make resolutions but I am in for life experiences. All I us could use to live outside our bubbles and see how other people live. Yay!

  3. Once again you inspire me. Can’t wait to share your post with my wife who had shared many of the same experiences. Happy new year T-Rex!

  4. I love this idea. I find that life is more enjoyable everyday if you challenge yourself to do something different, out of the ordinary, or even just take a fun picture. I really like how you put these thoughts into words. I look forward to reading more about your adventures throughout 2014 and maybe see you at a race this year. 🙂

      1. I was hoping you would be at the OKC marathon in April but I just looked at your race schedule and no such luck. Maybe if I actually start doing more marathons our paths will cross. Good Luck with all your races this year! Happy 2014!

  5. Love it! I’m going to do this too! I tend to “play it safe” and I need to experience life more! I’m not getting any younger.

    1. I think it’s the natural thing to do, but I don’t necessarily think it’s the right thing to do, you know? We’ll have to go do some fun stuff on our marathon adventures this year!

  6. I was just having this conversation last night with my best friend Jennifer. Looking through my pictures I had taken in 2013 (there was literally 1,097 pictures) I didn’t realize how I had done. I can only imagine that 2014 will be less insane. Also, again, you and I are the SAME person. It wasn’t until you came down to Dallas for the MM qualifying race that I was ever comfortable being photograph. My ex made me hate the person I saw everyday. Slowly I started taking pictures of myself, then more selfies, and finally was comfortable enough to post them on Facebook & Instagram. It was a good exercise in realizing that YOU are accepting of how YOU look. Not someone else’s perspective. — Annnnd look at me now, I think THE WORLD is sick of my selfies. And you know what, it doesn’t matter, because I’m not sick of them. Hopefully, I will see you in 2014, boo! Missing you lots!

    1. You know, I was just thinking the other day for some reason about how far you’ve come in terms of posting pictures of yourself on Facebook. That really is a major accomplishment, and I’m not even sick of your selfies yet. Hopefully I’ll make my way out to Dallas for Ramblen in 2014 🙂 I miss you too!

  7. I have a feeling that ‘choose to live apart’ is just a very archaic way of saying you’re not going to just take the path of least resistance and do what the rest of the world is doing!

    I love the idea of taking a picture every day and putting yourself in interesting situations to get an interesting picture. And…my biggest running-related New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to volunteer at a race! (There’ll be lots of pictures from that 🙂 )

    1. I think you’re right about the meaning, I just love the way it is phrased! And I love the idea of volunteering for a race. In fact, you just inspired me to volunteer for our local marathon 🙂

      1. That’s fantastic! When is that marathon?
        I’ve signed up to volunteer at a local community-organised ultra (twilightultrachallenge.com – excuse the eye-watering website, it’s a really no-frills sort of race, just laps and laps of the same long park!)- I’ve been wanting to volunteer at one of these for a very long time because I feel they really embody the community spirit of running.

        1. It’s March 8th – the Run Hard Columbia Marathon. I’m helping with packet pick up since I’ll be running the race itself!

  8. I really enjoy reading your blog, T-rex. You write with such honesty that it’s hard NOT to be inspired by this post! I love the part about wanting to hear people say “that’s insane” to your plans—that happened to me in 2013 after I ran my first double marathon last fall. People have told me directly to my face that they think I am crazy for running two marathons in a row! But running a double was kind of fun and I would do it again! My big goal for 2014 though is to run a marathon in under 4 hours. 🙂

    1. Isn’t that satisfying? I mean, it’s not necessarily a reason to do one thing and not do another, but I’m inclined to think that if people think you’re nuts, you’re on the right track to an interesting life – and a double is definitely nuts 🙂 Hopefully I’ll see you at one this year!

  9. I absolutely love the idea of taking a picture of every single day! Thanks for sharing that idea. I might have to start my own blog just so I have someplace to display/explain my pictures! Thanks for your inspiration and good luck with living a very interesting life in 2014!

    1. I actually made a private album on Facebook and just shared them with my closest friends and my mom because I didn’t want people to know about my divorce for awhile. Now, I’d probably do it on Instagram or just have a public photo album, but a blog or Tumblr would work too! Good luck on your mission – I hope you started out 2014 with a great picture 🙂

  10. I think your resolution makes a lot of sense. 🙂 And I sincerely hope 2014 brings you many new, happy memories of going down a different path.

    I have to say though, I couldn’t agree more about the mental barriers people impose on themselves and the most strange thing (one you dealt with) – they expect other people to make them happy.
    I learned that some years ago but I’m still having trouble sometimes implementing it in my life (usually I’m fine, but I haven’t yet figured out how to stop being other people’s crutch, especially my family’s).
    So, I’m on my path of finding happiness by myself, who wants to join me is welcome, just please, don’t try to stop me (that happens a lot as well). It’s been uncomfortable at times stepping out of my comfort zone) but it’s been more than worth it. 🙂
    Enjoy!

    1. ” I’m on my path of finding happiness by myself, who wants to join me is welcome, just please, don’t try to stop me.” This resonates with me SO much. I find that I’m a lot more adventurous (and/or impractical) than most of my family and friends, and although it kind of bothered me at first, I’ve come to accept that my idea of fun is not everyone’s idea of fun. Therefore, I hope that people will come with me on my adventures, but I’m learning to accept that they might not want to, and that’s ok as long as they don’t get in the way of my fun. Tough lesson to learn!

  11. Love love love this post! This is exactly what I want to do in 2014! Step out of my comfort zone and just live life. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Loved this post! Haven’t selected a resolution. I usually pick a word or theme for the year. My 50th year was the year of living fearlessly, for example. Did my first marathon, competed in Senior Olympics — you get the picture. I like your quoteworthy “discomfort brings growth and cool souvenirs.” Maybe 2014 will be the year of intentional discomfort. 🙂 Happy New Year, T-Rex. Thanks for your inspiration.

    1. Oooh, I like the idea of picking a word for the year! Intentional discomfort sounds like a great mantra. And the Senior Olympics?? THAT IS AWESOME!

  13. Thank you for this post. I’m actually going through a separation leading into divorce myself and I am scared shitless as I, too, have never lived on my own. It all happened so fast. So, I might do what you did and take a picture everyday to see the beauty in things. Slow life down a bit and really see what’s out there and be me. So, I guess my NY resolution would be to find me and to love me and really take care of myself this year. Thank you for your blog, you are truly amazing.

    1. You can do it, Leslie. If I can do it, you can do it. As scary as living by yourself is, it’s also very freeing, and you might be surprised what you learn about yourself in the process. Email me any time you want to talk! I think you are going to have an amazing 2014!!

  14. Love this New Years resolution. So fun and exciting to see what lies ahead for all of us if we just step out of our comfort zone to try something new. Thank you

    1. Exactly! You never know what you could find that you love doing. Thanks for being a fantastic (and hilarious) friend in 2013 🙂

  15. Summer 2012 was when I decided to start making myself happy and this post reminds me why I made that decision. Thank you for this blog which helps remind me to keep making that decision for myself everyday.

  16. I really do think that the important thing to remember is that no two people have the same definition of ‘interesting’.

    BUT … I’m going to call you on something!

    On the one hand you talked about wanting to “stop waiting for other people to make me happy and start doing things to make myself happy.”, but then in describing your resolution you define it using others – “I want to tell people my plans and hear them say “that’s insane” because they are so out of the ordinary that they would never occur to most people. ”

    Does that mean that if others DON’T think your plans are insane that they suddenly aren’t interesting? Please don’t let yourself get into that cycle. A couple of years ago I was telling my brother that his plans were insane, but that was because he would drive hours on end week after week re-establishing relationships damaged slowly in the nearly 25 years of his now defunct marriage … but forgetting to work on repairing himself and his strained relationships with his kids.

    So make sure that the plans you are making are interesting to YOU. Not AJ, your friends, your family, or people on the blog. Everyone else can think they are boring or stupid or whatever … because if your ultimate goal is to be in control of your own happiness, then you can’t place the definitions of ‘interesting’ and ‘happiness’ in the hands of others.

    I wrote up my ‘running goals’ on the blog, and need to flesh out my non-running goals. But I look at it this way – I’ve been off since the 23rd, gotten in some really good runs, eaten well, had some great mini-dates with my wife, and spent the past 3 days painting inside the house with my boys talking about all kinds of stuff. If 2014 has more of that … I’m good! 🙂

    1. Mmm, I think this is a miscommunication. I don’t think I said what I was trying to say very well. When I said I’m going to stop waiting for other people to make me happy, I meant that I’m not going to let my relationships (specifically romantic ones) be the sole determining factor in my happiness. Before, if my significant other and I were in a fight, I was automatically miserable. I didn’t have interests of my own and just did whatever the other person wanted. If my boyfriend wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy.

      In terms of wanting people to say my plans are insane, that’s not a requirement, of course. If someone thought they were reasonable, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do them. I just mean that if other people think I’m crazy, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea – in fact, it’s probably a pretty exciting idea! But whether other people think what I’m doing is exciting or not is not important. I do boring crap all the time. I held a baby last night and almost had a heart attack because kids scare me, but that’s not a big deal for most people, you know? You know 🙂

      1. Ah – makes perfect sense, and I suspected as much. I just wanted to be clear on that. 🙂

        And I saw the baby-holding picture on Instagram, and knew that for you it was a major moment! Congrats.

        And everything IS different for everyone – I miss babies, friends used to say that I had a ‘magic shoulder’ and would hand me their fussy babies when we were together to put them to sleep … and if that didn’t do it I could always tell them stories about what I was doing at work.

  17. I’ll be honest and lyk that I thought you were splitting up with your boyfriend when I read your “living life apart” and I’m glad you qualified that in your post.

    Your honesty and bravery always floors me and you did it again with this post. I’m wishing you a wonderful and interesting 2014, Danielle and if you need a place to stay in CA, feel free to hit me up.

    1. You’re not the first person to think that! I’m glad I happened to mention something about AJ later in the post since otherwise this would be verrrry awkward.

      I need to come out to California this year! It’s been too long since I’ve been. Maybe I’ll come out to do some research for Ramblen and we can run together!!

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