Keep Reaching

This post is a total cheese-fest, so feel free to click away now if you’re not interested. But, if you’re looking for a little cheese to add to your day (not literally, though I’m always in the mood for some literal cheese) you are in the right spot. If not, you’ve been forewarned!

As fall comes to a close, the leaves are making their final decent to the ground, littering yards and sidewalks. Like most towns, mine offers to collect gathered leaves… but only if they’ve been neatly packaged into brown paper bags. While this makes the curbs look nicer, it’s proved interesting on my runs as most houses have them littered onto the sidewalks, making a fun little obstacle course for runners and walkers alike. There are a bunch of different bags; some provided by the town, some from Home Depot, some from Lowe’s, etc. Even though I’ve been running past them for over a month, up until recently I never took the time to read the bag’s text.

While running last week, I was finally paying attention and I read one of the Lowe’s bags. It read, “never stop improving.” At first I didn’t think anything of it – I mean, Lowe’s is a home improvement store so that’s a catchy little slogan that they hope will get you back to their store for more home improvements. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that little phrase is a perfect life mantra. I’m not usually one for catch phrases, mantras, or trendy hash-tags (I’m more of the #imgoingtowriteanentiresentenceasahashtagforfun type), but I really liked this one.

Of course with the end of the year less than a month away, everyone seems to be concerned with how they can wrap up the current year on a high note, and attack 2013 to make it “the best year ever.” I’ve echoed my sentiment on New Year’s Resolutions before (can’t hack it), and I’ve even tried little monthly goals (generally successful). But this “never stop improving” really got me thinking. Why do I have to create a concrete list of things I need to try and do this year? What if there isn’t even anything I want to do? Do I have to be specific? Will I fail if I don’t have it figured out by the end of the year? And most importantly, why do I have so many questions?!

At the end of the day, isn’t our goal in life to be happy? Whether that means signing up for and taking a class you’ve been eyeing for months, landing a new job, running a sub 4-hour marathon, or scoring a pair of Tory Burch flats… it’s all relative. There is so much uncertainty in life, and I just can’t get behind creating a list that I have to work on for twelve months. I have trouble deciding what I want for dinner – how am I going to know in December what next June will hold? Now I’m not saying New Year’s Resolutions aren’t a good idea; for a lot of people they are. For me, though, I’m not looking to work on 2013. I’m looking to work on life. Maybe that seems like a much bigger task – but for me, looking at the big picture is easier than breaking it down.

So what exactly am I saying? Really, I just thought the Lowe’s leaf bag was cool and worth sharing with you. And, if you’d like, you can join me to “never stop improving” your own life. If it means creating New Year’s Resolutions, go for it! If it means not creating them, but still forging ahead to have the best life possible, well then great – I’ll be right beside you. We only have this one life (unless someone knows otherwise, in which case, you can find me loafing it on the couch for this go-around), and we’re a big piece of the puzzle… some may even argue the puzzle. So I’m making a conscious effort to take the driver’s seat, and to never stop improving my life, and myself.

New Year’s Resolutions: yay or nay?
Any big plans or goals for 2013?

A New Project!

I don’t know how or why this idea came about, but I’ve decided to try something new for the next few months. Each month, I’m going to tackle something, and do it for the entire month (hopefully). I just recently finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (check out the blog here), and of course was subsequently inspired. Now, I’m not looking to “happify” myself (yes, I made that word up) per se, but rather to try and do things whole-heartily that have been swimming as ideas in the back of my head for months, maybe even years. I’ve already got ideas for the next four months, and then I’ll reevaluate the project after that.

You are probably thinking; “what does this have to do with food? This is a food blog.” Well, each month may not necessarily deal with food, and if that’s the case, I’ll likely leave it off the blog. But for those food related months, you better believe I’ll be writing about it! Conveniently, two out of the three ideas that I already have are food related, which should come as no surprise since it’s one of the only things I think about (alright, that isn’t true, but it’s high on the list!).

As you’ll see from the months below, they follow a pattern, which I didn’t even do on purpose (at first). The months flip flop between being food related, and being fitness/health related. These are by no means “new year’s resolutions,” and I feel the need to point that out for a few reasons. First, it’s almost November, and there are still two full months until the New Year. But more importantly, if I label them as such, I’m likely setting myself up for failure. These aren’t requirements so much as things I would like to increase and do within my every day routine. I’m not going to punish myself if life gets in the way and I can’t make it out to run 4 times one week in December, or if it just isn’t in the grocery budget to buy ingredients to bake one week… I’m doing this to increase my personal enjoyment and do things I like – not make them into chores (I have enough of those)!

Hopefully November and January will prove to be a success in terms of finding and creating new recipes to meet my goals. I’ll likely start off each month with a plan of action, and update within information accordingly. If I do what I’m supposed to in January, there should be at least one baked good posted a week – but we’ll see!

So, here’s the plan. Fingers crossed I stick to it, and this isn’t something I abandon right away, or even a month or two into it. I’d like to at least tackle the four months I already have outlined. After that, I can reevaluate.

November: bake something every weekend (other’s recipes, or my own)
December: run at least 4 times a week – it doesn’t matter if its 2 miles or 20 miles – get out there
January: go full-out vegetarian for the month
February: practice yoga at least 3 times a week – can be at home, or in a studio

Have any of you had similar goals/projects for yourselves? Have they been successful, or complete washes? Any advice? Spill!