If you think New Year's resolutions are stupid, turn around. You might want to stop reading now. I don't even think of them as resolutions: I think of January as a time of reflection. It's a time of reflection on the past year — what you are happy you did, and what you wished you would have done more. And for those things you didn't do, January is a time to set in motion your new, improved self. And I love doing just that.
So, since we're well into January, I've been doing lots of reflecting. I've reflected on my work in the past year, where I've been physically and emotionally, and what my current habits show about me.
And sadly, my current habits show that my laptop is my best friend. I spend so much time bingeing social media and Netflix. I refresh Facebook so often that I know way too many details about people I've hardly met. My laptop goes with me to the bathroom as the "Law and Order: SVU" theme song plays. And as much as I love that satisfying "dun dun," I have seen every episode (more than once!), and I'm not contributing much to myself, or society, by constantly having it on. Sorry, Olivia Benson.
One thing I've been thinking about — and slowly trying to start actively doing, agh! — is spending my time in a more fulfilling way. I left my job in May, and when we moved to Italy, I had a bit of a personal existential crisis about what to do with new my time during my funemployment. I struggled to find what my purpose was in life post-job, as if my career provided that to me. And I'm learning more and more not to define myself by my job title, and that I am at my best creatively when I am happy.
But I'm also learning that my new freedom from a lack of a job can be almost crippling. I read a piece yesterday by Jonathan Harris — who created the storytelling platform Cowbird and a myriad of other amazing things — about his creative journey. And he said, "Sometimes I wonder whether too much freedom produces a weird kind of psychological paralysis, which is almost like a prison."
And sadly, I totally identify with that. All of a sudden, I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want, so I choose to spend it watching and re-watching "Gilmore Girls"? It's as if I have creative agoraphobia — that I'm afraid of the wide expanse of opportunities that lay ahead — so I choose to close myself off instead.
These habits are hard to break. And I'm not saying that I'm going to completely stop watching television — I love television. I love bonding with people over characters we love and that Theresa and I can talk exclusively in "30 Rock" lines for an embarrassing amount of time. But there needs to be balance, and my soul needs feeding.
So, my biggest goal for 2015 is to spend my time wisely. And I would like most of that time to be spent growing myself creatively — whether that's learning new skills, honing the old, or just doing activities that grow my mind instead of numbing it.
I have a couple ideas of what that means. I want to learn typography, and I've even started some classes with the site Skillshare, which I highly recommend. The site features classes where you can go to learn all sorts of different new abilities, like photography, calligraphy, web design and so much more. You can subscribe monthly or buy classes individually (and there are even some free classes!). I've also been toying with the idea of finally learning sewing and wood working, and I finally have resources for both via a nearby art center, which is very exciting.
Another thing that feeds my brain is reading and I hope to do more of that this year. It doesn't even have to be intellectual classics — I think the act of reading the written word just jolts my mind into a better place. I currently have about six books checked out from the library — three of them auto-biographies from my girls Amy Poehler ("Yes Please"), Mindy Kaling ("Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me") and Lena Dunham ("Not That Kind Of Girl") — and I hope to read at least half of them. And then keep the train rolling from there.
I'm also an extrovert, so I feel fullest when I am surrounded by people. That's definitely hard when you're new in town, but I'm excited to meet so many new people and have already met some wonderful women in our new surroundings. I'm hoping Tyler and I will travel like crazy this year, eat out more (weirdly, we're not big on that and are definitely missing out on the amazing food here in Italy!), and finally learn some more Italian. I've been playing Duolingo, which is a great free app that sort of treats learning a language like a game, so I can now say sentences like "The cats drink the milk." Totally comes in handy.
And clearly, I'm excited about having this blog as a platform and as a resource to work with the amazingly talented Theresa Berens. This blog is definitely a bit different from my professional path, which was photojournalism, but I hope to sneak that in a bit and continue working on that while I can, as well as travel photography and the good ol' craft and recipe stuff we do here, too. We've talked about doing a blog together since we were sophomores in college, and five years later, I'm so glad it's finally a reality.
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2015