Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year, New Life

I'm getting ready to leave for vacation tonight. My laundry is finished and drying. My ticket is printed. My apartment looks like a tornado ran through it. I'm going to go for a run (go me!), shower, pack, and clean, and then it's time for a well-deserved vacation.

Therefore, this is my last post of 2011. I've been thinking about it for a while. (Watch out folks, we're taking a turn for the serious!) It's the time of year where we reflect on our past--we learn from it, dismiss it, let it continue to haunt us--and we attempt to make plans for the future. I am notoriously bad at planning for the future; just ask any of my good friends. I still have no idea what I want to "do" "when I grow up," and I definitely have no idea what I will be doing when my stint as an au pair is finished on August 1, 2012.

So let me reflect on my past for a minute. I don't see a lot of point in going through 2011 and picking out the things I need to improve on for the next year. Honestly, that's going to make me feel really bad about myself, and that kind of self-criticism is not something anyone needs, ever. Instead, I believe it's more important to go back over your year, and pick out a few things you really freaking nailed, or some good lessons you learned. Here's what I have:

1. In 2011 I got a job as a gymnastics coach at NYC Elite, which is a gymnastics club in Manhattan. I have had a lot of jobs in my life, more than the average 25-year-old, I think. I switch around a lot. And I have had a handful of pretty cool, fun jobs. I would say this was one of them. And this was a job that I did, and I did well. I have a lot of experience with kids, and I have a lot of experience with gymnastics. When I first took this position, I was uncertain how it would all come together--whether I could handle running a class, whether I could spot correctly and safely, whether I could maintain order, etc. Honestly, I didn't like the rec classes much, but I ADORED teaching the Level 3 team. It was fun, I worked hard, and I really, really felt like I was doing something right. It was a pretty solid 5-month job, and if I didn't move abroad, I would have gone back to it hands down.

2. Continuing on the job front, I worked at my summer camp, Camp Lenox, for the 5th year this past summer. I was a Group Leader for a huge group of 12 year old girls, and I had a staff of 8 people. And boy did this job teach me a LOT. Despite the fact that I was going through a fairly huge personal crisis, I was also in charge of over 30 people for 7 weeks. That's kind of nuts, when you think about it. I definitely did not do everything right this summer. But I learned a lot about not sweating the small stuff. I learned that I actually can't do everything I think I can. And I learned that I am able to compartmentalize my life and push through personal strife to do what needs to be done. There were times when I thought I was going to have to leave camp this summer (sorry if that's a shock to you), actually leave because I could not do it. But guess what? I did! And I did it well. And that's awesome, and I'm proud of myself.

3. I moved out of my parents' home in 2004 to go to Emory. Since then, I haven't lived at home for longer than a month...until August/September/October of this year. When I arrived back, I remember all the things I had "stashed" in my nooks and crannies, to "deal with later." Well, it was later. It took about a week or so, and I definitely made the dogs really nervous (they hate change), but I cleaned out EVERYTHING--closet, drawers, under my bed, boxes, clothes, bookshelf. My mom and I did a garage sale, and I managed to fit all the things I accrued in my adult life back into my room. It's a good feeling, catching yourself up that way, do you know what I mean? As a self-identified packrat, I needed a good purge, and now I don't have xeroxed copies of my middle-school newspaper lying around for literally no reason anymore.

4. My last thing I learned about this past year is probably the biggest. It has made me feel both old and young again, at the same time. It's a humbling, freeing, insane realization, and it wasn't even an epiphany moment. And maybe you've already had yours, but I had mine when I moved to Paris. Basically, I can make my life whatever I want it to be. Imagine the life you want, and just start living it! If you want to be more spontaneous, well, then you have to start doing spontaneous things! If you want to live in Europe, find a way to live in Europe. There is no "pre-destined" life that you have to live. Make your life what you want it to be. I wear heels to walk across the park to the library. Because that's what I want to do. My life is mine for the making, and moving myself to Paris without knowing a soul here (slight exaggeration) helped show me that.


Enough of the past. Now it's time for the future. Which means...I'm done being serious, and also, NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS!! I loooove resolutions! I love detailed planning. Honestly, I love carrying out the plans a lot less, but the planning!! Oh, the planning. So here are my resolutions:

1. Only buy one baguette per week. This includes baguette sandwiches, but this does NOT include eating baguettes provided by other people. The real problem only stems from being alone in my shoebox with a warm baguette, plenty of French butter, and not much to do, several days per week. So, nixed!
2. Keep my nails looking nice, whether that's painted, trimmed, clean, or whatever. Nothing ruins the illusion of a well-groomed lady than ragged nails. This resolution includes attempting to stop picking the hell out of my cuticles.
3. Get back into an exercise routine. I'm not making elaborate promises here, but I'm not doing anything these days, and while that is the Parisian way, it's not my way. I don't belong to a gym, yoga classes are very expensive in France, and I don't have a ton of workout clothes, but I can definitely do more than I am doing.
4. Make more to-do lists. While that can seem like a burden, or possibly setting myself up for failure, I am a lot more productive when I actually write things down. If I need to get a shirt dry-cleaned, or buy a special stamp, or look for something creative to do on a Sunday afternoon, then I have to write it down, or it will get put off for who knows how long.
5. Wash my face as soon as I am in for the evening. Why do I putter around my room for hours wearing makeup leftover from the day? So silly.

Here's to the end of 2011, a year full of growth, pain, happiness, laughter, tears, and all the usual emotions. I hope you all have finished your years healthy and happy, and I'm excited for the prospect of a new year. What's upppp, 2012!!

P.S. Some favorite moments from 2011 below...

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