Feeling Sorry for Myself

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As you may or may not know I play the harp. Back when I was but a child, I saw somebody playing a harp and I just fell in love. Unfortunately for me my mother had musical fantasies of her own and I got to live those out instead. It didn’t matter that I had less than zero desire to be the church organist, that’s what my mother always wanted to be so my siblings and I were chained to piano lessons starting when we were small. I was never any good–truly–and I hated it with a white-hot burning passion. “Oh, one day you’ll thank me for forcing you to play!” my mother assured me as I sat and cried yet again before another piano lesson.

When I got old enough I started taking organ lessons. Excuse me, organ lesson. Did you know that you play the organ with not just your hands, but also your feet? There is a whole other keyboard in front of the bench on the floor!  I took one lesson and I was like, no way is that ever happening in a million years. I can’t even play a hymn with my hands let alone my feet.

Let’s fast forward to the conclusion of my piano career: I was lucky enough to get in a car crash and break my arm really badly when I was sixteen. No more lessons! I didn’t touch a piano for years after that and still avoid them at all costs. I hated, hated, hated playing and have thankfully forgotten how to do it so I will never have to play again. So, yeah, thanks Mom! I told you when I was ten that I would never play the piano when I grew up but, nooo, you just didn’t believe me.  Moral of the story: Music education is very important. But if your kid wants to play a different instrument, let her! Second moral of the story: Don’t get in a battle of wills with me. You’ll lose.

When I was thirty or so I decided that my time had come. I have always been a collector of hobbies and harp-playing seemed perfect to add to my repertoire of semi-pointless but enjoyable skills. At that time I lived in Utah where there are about a jillion harpists. (I don’t know what it is about Mormons and harps but there is a total love connection.) I found a super awesome teacher and adored it from day one. The best thing about playing the harp is that it sounds really wonderful even when you aren’t very good. It’s quite a bit more complicated than it looks, though. It has a lot more in common with playing the piano than, say, a stringed instrument like a guitar.

Even though I love playing the harp, I just don’t have a musical self. Music does not come naturally to me. I like visual stuff way more. I should be way better at playing the harp than I am, although I totally quit after I had Jasper; harp lessons seemed like a laughable folly when I had six children under age ten and could barely even handle simple tasks like brushing my hair. I can also be a bit of a perfectionist. So playing and making mistake after mistake kind of stresses me out.

Which I am now realizing since I agreed to play the harp at church on the Sunday before Christmas. I haven’t learned a new piece in about a decade. I just keep playing all the ones I’m already good at. That seems incredibly lame now that I write it out. What’s the matter with me? I guess I like coasting along.

I found a piece that is not too challenging (“In the Bleak Midwinter” because I just dig those oddball carols) but–oh my goodness gracious–is it killing me!!! I have been practicing all week and I still haven’t gotten past the second line. I can’t even play the first two lines without making a dozen mistakes! This does not bode well. And because I suck and because I agreed to play in front of the entire universe I have a permanent stress-knot in between my shoulder blades (also my eyelid twitches but that’s not such a big deal). Apparently I won’t be able to relax until after December 21st or unless a true Christmas miracle occurs allowing me to learn the music better.

Bleak midwinter, indeed.

 

I haven’t posted for over a month??? Wow. I hadn’t realized. I’ve just lost the mojo or something. I feel really bad because I didn’t even post any of the cool stuff that happened over the summer. Some of it made me sad. Like this:

Somebody flew the coop.

India Trees

 

 

India Jane senior

 

India Bluebonnets

 

Baby India graduated from high school. Mister’s parents came down, despite their health being not so great these days.

India Grands Graduation

I don’t know how that happened. I mean, one minute she was starting kindergarten and all of a sudden she was putting on her cap and gown. You know how old ladies at the store tell you when you’ve got your hands full of squirming kids that time flies and the kids will grow up so quickly? And you’re like, “yeah, right. Starting when?”  Because every day lasts for a hundred years when you’re children are small. You seriously wonder if you will ever not be wiping somebody’s butt and stepping on stray Legos.

It does go fast. Not until they get into school, though. Every year goes by a little quicker and by the time they’re Seniors in high school, the year lasts about seventeen minutes.

And then they’re leaving for school and you wish you could trap every day in a bottle because it’s the end of an era: the era of having your babies in your nest. Now they’re flying away and it’s exciting but it’s also terrifying.  People keep asking me how I’m doing and the answer is, “I’m kind of blue.” Not depressed, but just unmoored. Life is shifting and even though I knew it would happen, it’s unsettling.

I tell people I’m sad that India is gone but not half as sad as I’d be if she were still living in her bedroom with a lame future ahead of her. Because India is awesome she got a full-ride scholarship to college. And she got a couple of other scholarships too that are covering most of her room and board and books. So yay for that!

We dropped her off at Brigham Young in August and Mister sobbed the whole way back to the airport.  Real, blubbering loud sobs. I finally had to remind him that India is not dying. She’s just going to college and we’d see her at Thanksgiving. But he’s the softie in the marriage. I’m the mean, heartless one. But still it was sad leaving her there.

I can’t be too sad, though, because is there any time as full of excitement and awesomeness as the first time you leave for college? She’s got a shiny, spectacular future ahead of her and as sad and boo-boo as I feel for me, I feel happiness and excitement for her.

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India Jane college

 

Plus it’s not like I don’t still have fifty million kids at home. York is in 12th grade this year so we get to do the whole thing all over again.

Here are some other milestones we had:

My baby, my littlest kiddle, turned eight. Jasper Presents

 

Because we’re Mormon we believe that little children who die go straight to Heaven. Thus we don’t baptize kids until they’re old enough to know right from wrong which is at age eight. So Jasper was baptized. Having your youngest child get baptized in another milestone. It means you’re not a young mother. For so long I’ve always had little kids and that means I’m a young mother. But with my youngest being old enough to get baptized I feel like those days of having little kids is ancient history. Again, more unmooring.

Mormons do baptism the old-fashioned way: immersion just like Jesus did. So the baptisee and the baptizer both dress in white, symbolic of being born again and forgiven of our sins.  Jasper was baptized by Mister and it was a lovely ceremony.

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We had a bunch of fun Texas Tuesdays which I’ll tell you about later. Right now I’m just trying to keep afloat. Mister has gone back to school to get his Masters degree and I’m still as busy as ever. But I’ll be a little more diligent. I’ve got some cool new tutorials in the works; it’s going to be fun!

 

Is it just me or is everybody pregnant? Wait, that makes it sound like I’m pregnant. I am NOT pregnant. My eggs are shriveled and dried up. But everyone else, it seems, is very fertile. (If you are struggling with infertility, I’m really sorry. You are probably very aware that everyone but you is pregnant. Sucks.)  But I was thinking back to the stone age (mid-90′s) when I had my first baby. That baby is about to jump ship and go to college. We actually can’t talk about that because I still feel like she’s still about eight years old and why the heck is she leaving already? Also, I was just in college about fifteen seconds ago myself. I swear!

But I remember when I was pregnant and working at this super ritzy photo studio (how ritzy? An 8×10 was $400. Gag.) and one of my coworkers, a mother of two,* said to me, “don’t worry if you don’t love your baby right away.” I thought this was probably the most bizarre and uneccesary thing I’d ever heard. Hadn’t I been watching A Baby Story non-stop for months? Everyone on the show always said how they fell in love with their baby the second she was born. I shook my head and thought my coworker was key-raaazy.

India and mommy

Fast forward a couple of months and here I am with this newborn and although I feel a fierce protective instinct, I can’t exactly say that I love this little bundle of joy. All I really feel is tired and my boobs hurt soooo much. I started to feel like I’m one step away from Charles Manson. Or at least a crack whore. Who doesn’t love their baby? There must be something wrong with me. But I remembered those words from my coworker. And I felt peace. Like maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. Maybe there have been other mothers who were a little slow on the love-uptake.

And when my sister-in-law volunteered to watch baby India overnight (thank goodness for breast pumps!) when she was merely six weeks old (India, not my sister-in-law), I jumped at the chance to stay at a hotel with Mister. And you know what? I missed that baby. And, dare I say it, I actually felt love. You know how the grinch’s heart cracks open and starts growing? That’s exactly how it felt.  And within a few weeks I loved that wee little lass like crazycakes.

I ended up loving my baby and loving being a mom so much that I could not wait to have another one. I started trying for my next baby (and got pregnant right away) when India was only seven months old.

So the moral of the story is 1) it’s OK if you don’t love your baby right away. You will eventually. Cross my heart. And 2) sometimes you really do get good advice when you’re pregnant.

Have you gotten any really good or really horrible advice when you were pregnant?

P.S. Yep, that’s a photo of me and India on the day she was blessed (christened). Appearances to the contrary, I wasn’t 15 years old. I was actually 24. And isn’t it about time for vests to make a comeback?

 

*Sadly, my coworker was murdered a couple of months later when she went home for a lunch break. We all suspected who did it but he never went to trial. Crazy, huh?

This Halloween, more than all the others, has really driven home the fact that my kids are growing up. On one hand it’s really nice because teenagers are much more fun to talk to than babies. They also clean up the house (theoretically) and do chores.  But most of the time it’s just kind of sad.  We did our usual dinner at Chipotle ($3 per person if you’re in a costume!). We hardly ever eat out as a family because it’s just too expensive so this is a nice treat for us. Plus Chipotle is a nice healthy start to the sugar-fest.

After we were done eating the older four kids scattered to the wind to hang out with friends. I didn’t even make it home with all the kids before they started taking off. Which means that I didn’t get any pictures of the whole family together. Naturally the older kids went trick or treating because FREE CANDY! But they weren’t interested in going with their super lame mom. Even Arabella went with a friend for the first time. She said they just “didn’t click tonight” so it ended up being a little awkward.

Which left me with just the babies. So easy. No need to holler ahead the whole time and tell the older kids to slow down. Once you have six kids, just hanging with two is very odd, though. It seems super lonely and quiet. So we all went over to my friend Anna’s house and sorted our candy with her kids. It was much noisier and I felt a lot more at ease.

The older kids finally showed up around 10. They don’t bother sorting or trading anymore and the whole thing is just sad, sad, sad.

Here are the photos I did get. Arabella wore the same costume as last year because it was really difficult to make and expensive so she’d better get some use out of it. The only difference is that this year Martha Washington/Marie Antoinette has braces. Totally authentic.

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Jasper and Ada were cowboys. Ada has been telling me for months that she wanted to be a cowgirl with red boots. So I had plenty of time to prepare. Jasper was unsure what he wanted to be up until the last minute, when he saw Ada’s costume and decided to get in on the wild west fun. Fortunately I had extra fabric left over and it took literally twenty minutes to make another vest. And Target had cowboy boots on sale so we were all set.

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It was a quiet Halloween and we were a little cold since it was only 70°. That’s practically arctic by Texas standards. But it was much less hectic than usual so I have to give it a thumbs up.

Here’s the latest update on my stupid arm. I got my cast off a week after my injury. My arm felt so feeble and defenseless. It was nice to be able to wash my arm though. Since I’d gone to the hospital straight from crossfit where I’d been doing pushups and burpees, my hand was still filthy when they wrapped it up. Hence it looked like this a week later:

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In order to keep my elbow from popping out of place again I was sent over to Enrique. He fitted me with an incredibly uncomfortable brace.

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I had to wear it all the time. Even sleeping. Normally I sleep like a dead person but this made it totally impossible.

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The worst part was having to wear it outside. It’s still in the high 90′s here and all the plastic made my arm drip with sweat. I had a few cotton sleeves that Enrique gave me but by the end of the day they’d all be soaked. Gross. So I ordered 25 yards of the sleeve material on Amazon and was much happier.

On the positive side, though, I got a lot of sympathy and people offered to do everything for me. I’d just wave my arm pathetically and people would carry things, pump my gas or whatever else I wanted. You have to make the most of a bad situation, you guys! Also, I looked pretty bionic which was cool.

I got the OK from my doctor to get rid of the brace and I have to say that I’m thrilled. My arm feels way better. It doesn’t really ever hurt. it’s just incredibly weak and my range of motion is pitiful. I can’t make a ponytail, fasten a necklace or hook up my bra. And forget touching my arm to my shoulder. It will be a while. I’m supposed to start physical therapy one of these days and I’m sure that will help loads.

Sadly I can’t lift weights for another six weeks which means no crossfit til then. My doctor is an avid crossfitter so I don’t think I’ll blow off his advice. He did tell me that I’m okay to do box jumps, though. I was like, “Box jumps? That’s what got me here! Forget it!”

But best of all I can type again! So yay for being able to blog more!

Last Friday I went to work out with my friend, Anna. We’ve been going to Crossfit for about four months and we totally love it. Friday’s workout included box jumps which consist of–get ready for this–jumping onto a wooden box. With both feet at the same time. The boxes look like this:

wooden box

Mine wasn’t very tall but on the very last jump I managed to get my food caught in the handle and I came crashing down onto my left elbow. To say it hurt may have been the biggest understatement of my life. I immediately demanded that Anna take me to the hospital. Turns out my elbow hadn’t broken (yay!). It was just dislocated about three inches out of place. No wonder the dang thing hurt so badly!!!

The only amusing part of my little foray to the hospital was when the doctor came in and sat down beside me. She looked right at my chest and said, “two big breasts!” All I could think was, “well, I guess so but what does that have to do with my elbow?”  And then I noticed she was holding a stethoscope. Ooooh, two big breaths. That makes a lot more sense.

The doctor, who did not seem obsessed with my boobies after all, completely knocked me out when it was time to pop my elbow back into place, and I woke up with a partial cast from my knuckles to my armpit.

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It’s mostly just sore and achy now. I’m going to the orthopedist tomorrow to see what my long term verdict will be. I can hardly wait to see under all these bandages; I’ll bet I’ve got a horrifying bruise. But in the mean time I’m a little peeved at all of the things I can’t do one-handed such as drive (York has his permit, though, so that makes us a good team), blow my nose (think about it. Blowing your nose with one hand is just all wrong), and licking yummy food off of my left fingers. Can’t get them near my mouth, darn it! Also, it took a while to type this post. If I angle my arm just right I can reach the shift key, and letters a, s & w with my left pointy finger. You won’t be getting any detailed blog posts for a while. But I will be sure to include all disgusting photos.

P.S. Kudos to Anna, who not only took me to the hospital but also accompanied me to my colonoscopy a couple of months ago. True friendship, right there. And I didn’t even take her to get her mole removed last month! Shame on me!

You guys! Last weekend was one of those times when everything stacks up and crushes me near to death. It’s all I could do to keep breathing til last night.

First of all, it was my anniversary. Nice, pretty mellow. But still it’s a whole evening when I had lots of other things to do. What other things, you might ask? Well, at church the men are given a little gift on father’s day. A lot of times the teenage girls are in charge of it (actually, the leaders are in charge. The girls just hand them out). But this year the women were in charge. I was thinking of something store-bought but I realized how much I hate to receive store-bought stuff so I decided to make some monster cookies. In case you have lived a sheltered, pitiful life and don’t know what they are: kind of a half-peanut butter, half-oatmeal cookie with M&Ms and chocolate chips. Only I don’t have a good recipe. So I had to search the interwebs to find something worthy. Which required me making a whole ton of Monster Cookies to try out. The grand winner was this recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction. It’s a keeper because it’s not too heavy on the oatmeal; too much oatmeal makes a cookie taste blah. So my anniversary cut into my baking time.

On my way home from working out on Friday I stopped to buy all the M&Ms and chocolate chips. Nothing like being absolutely soaked with sweat holding 15 bags of candy. I’m sure people suspected bulimia. And the stores here don’t provide grocery bags (of course I had forgotten mine in the car, as always) so I was dropping bags of M&Ms left and right. Those suckers are slippery! But I made it home with all my chocolate and began to bake.

I spent some of Friday and most of Saturday making 90 giant Monster Cookies. I have a gigantic mixer that does three or four batches at a time, so it really wasn’t as much trouble as it sounds. My counselors did all the wrapping and labelling and i think the cookies were a big hit.

But you know that wasn’t all I had to do, right? Mister dragged me to a movie on Friday night. I can’t remember what it was called but it was Danish and I liked it very much. It put me behind schedule. As did the wedding we had to go to in San Antonio on Saturday morning. Two hours each way for a 40-minute ceremony. Oy. But we discovered a new (and delicious!) BBQ place halfway between San Antonio and Austin and that made everything all better (the brisket melted in my mouth. Divine!)

Also this weekend: Arabella had to give a talk in church. Mormons don’t have a clergyman that speaks in church every week. Instead, members of the congregation are asked to speak about a given topic. Everybody gets a turn, aren’t we so lucky? Once kids turn twelve they’re fair game for speaking, too. This was Arabella’s first talk and it was about fathers so that meant that I had to help her with it instead of pawning it off on Mister. Much encouragement and proofreading ensued.

This wasn’t our only “first” at church either. India got asked to play the prelude music in church for the first time (piano not organ). Meaning I had to nag her to practice several times (“Mom, nobody even listens to the prelude music!”). She did a really good job and I’m guessing she’ll get asked again. Our house was filled with hymns all weekend, which seems nice in theory but really just put me on edge.

Then there were the teenagers nagging me to sign up for summer church camps right this second, requiring me to decide exactly what our itinerary is going to be as camp is four states away and will require travel of 10-12 days total. There is nothing that I despise as much as planning things in advance and I’ve been avoiding the details of our big summer trip. But there I was trying to get the kids all signed up for camps, knowing that there were only four slots left at the session they wanted to go to (“what do you mean you can’t remember your camp password from last year? Well, then they can email it to you. You forgot your email password too???” ) It took over an hour but we finally got it squared away.

There were Father’s Day presents to wrap, cards to nag the kids to make, and the Father’s Day meals to prepare. And a whole bunch of church busywork that takes a million years and is no fun at all but had to be done for Sunday.

It’s really a wonder that I only burned one tray of cookies. As much multi-tasking as I was doing, there should have been a few dozen burned.

And then there was Jasper. Poor, poor Jasper. It was his birthday on Sunday too. But I felt sorry for him having to share his day with Mister, and that it was on a Sunday (no eating out or having much fun being the Sabbath Day and all), so we lied and told him that we hadn’t looked at the calendar properly and that his birthday was actually Monday. Thank goodness he bought it! Having his birthday yesterday instead of Sunday was so much better. We went swimming with friends and he didn’t have to share his special day with his dad. It ended up being a great idea. I’ll have to remember to lie to my kids a lot more often.

OK, this is officially the most boring blog post I’ve ever written. But I just wanted you to know what I’ve been up to. I’ve had good reasons to slack on blogging and I’ve got the dark circles under my eyes to to prove it.

 

Yes, I’m brilliant, witty, charming and all things wonderful. But I do have a few flaws which I try to disguise as much as possible. But here they are in all their glory:

1. I am a horrible, terrible procrastinator. If it’s possible to do something later, I will. Even if it’s not possible to do something later, I’ll still try. It’s the hardest the struggle in my life, to do something long before it’s supposed to be done. I end up stressing out and panicking but I never learn my lesson. Never. I guess I was born this way. I’m going to try to start a movement informing everyone that we procrastinators can’t help being the way we are, and that we need societal recognition and acceptance. One day I’m hoping to live in a world where people who put things off til that last minute are celebrated for the passionate, brilliant, easily-distractable people we are.

2. Opinionated. This is not really a bad trait in and of itself. I am the child of a very opinionated person, and all of us children ended up equally opinionated. But I can be a smidge judgmental about the way other people do things (inferior to my way, obviously). Fortunately for everyone, I usually keep my judgments to myself (hey parents who let their kids sleep in their beds, I’m talking to you!) but my opinions on most everything else is fair game for discussion. I’ve never been shy about sharing my ideas about everything. I am totally fine if someone else has a differing opinion; as a matter of fact I relish a good discussion. But I’m not a shy little violet who doesn’t say what’s on her mind. I’ve really had to learn to scale back my opinions since I became the Relief Society President. I don’t want to go around offending all the women at church. While I like a nice, strong personality, many people can’t handle it. And I’m trying to be lovely and supportive to everyone while trying to be true to who I am and that’s a little though sometimes.

3. I hate cleaning. And most housework in general. I have learned to stay somewhat on top of it because with six kids things can go downhill terribly fast. But you throw in that procrastination and there is nothing I wouldn’t rather do to distract myself from mopping/sorting laundry/scrubbing the sink. I would absolutely consider polygamy if I could pick a wife with cleanliness OCD who would do all the crappy household cleaning.

It’s currently 9 am and I have been up for four hours already. Instead of finishing India’s pioneer skirt way ahead of time like a good girl, I was up hemming it at 5:00 this morning. But I made good time and got the apron done too. I even had time to add pockets. Everything was finished on time and we made it out of the house at the appointed time at 6:45. I really would have liked to sleep in today. I have ward council at 7:30 am tomorrow so no sleeping in for another week. Blech. It’s my own fault, I guess.

Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t make the skirt months ago. Or even a week ago. Why do I always wait until the last second? The same thing happened on Valentine’s Day. I planned the kids valentines and ordered the supplies a whole month in advance. But I waited to make them until the night before. And of course I was so tired that I figured I’d finish them the next morning–forgetting that the kids hand out Valentine’s first thing.

Sometimes doing things early does backfire. I finished a few Valentines and Ada put them in a box on the table (each one had a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Texas is totally cool with homemade food being brought to school. I really like the idea of the kids getting at least one treat that isn’t chock full o’ chemicals.)  Of course Margaret, my dog frenemy, pushed a chair out so she could climb up and ate several cookies.  So sometimes doing things early is not so great. But I should know better than to keep edible things where the dog can reach them.

Here I am 41 years old and I swear I’m still as bad a procrastinator as I was when I was 21. When will I learn? Are you a procrastinator? Were you ever? I seriously need to learn how to motivate myself not to put things off. I’m driving myself batty!

Here are the valentines. They turned out really cute even though I waited til the last minute to put them together. I am, as ever, a Valentine’s Day overachiever.

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I posted this over at Segullah today, but thought it was pertinent to everyone. At least everyone who is celebrating a New Year. If you celebrate Chinese New Year instead then maybe you shoud skip this (and ni hou to you, by the way).

As a person who constantly fails at New Year’s Resolutions, I rarely make them anymore. Last year something clicked and not only did I make a couple of resolutions, but I actually kept them. One was to go all year without drinking Mt. Dew. This is a really big deal because I’m pretty much an addict. I can turn down other pop but not The Dew. So I drank an entire 2 liter bottle last New Years Eve and did not have another drop for 365 days.

The other goal I kept was to hang my clothes up every night. I always stay up too late (the house is so beautifully quiet!) and end up stumbling to bed ready to pass out. I drop my clothes on the floor and slide into bed. You would think that the 90 seconds it takes to hang up my clothes wouldn’t be such a big deal. But it has been. It wasn’t until I finally could say, “it’s not like I’m going to want to hang these up tomorrow either. I should just do it now,” that the light bulb turned on. And we all know how piles of clothes beget piles of clothes. Better to nip it in the bud.

This New Year’s Eve found me dreamily imagining the great things I would accomplish this year: meaningful scripture study? Never going to bed with a messy kitchen? Restricting the time I spend online? Not eating sugar all year? It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought of something I’d really like to accomplish: I want to be more creative.

I constantly see cute projects everywhere and think, “I’ll bet I could do that!” But I rarely do. I almost never try. Doing creative projects—whether artsy, craftsy or even writing—makes me feel selfish and indulgent. Creative acts make me feel vital and alive and really work out the stress in my life. However, that naggy, rotten voice in my head pipes up and tells me what a waste of time it all is. I should be sorting laundry and throwing out rotten leftovers. I haven’t earned the right to do something fun—which is how creativity feels to me.

But I’m telling that voice to shut up. I’m making Craft Hour from 9:30-10:30 every morning. There will not be appointments scheduled or sinks scrubbed. This is the time when I can let loose the creativity I keep shut away. For once I’m actually thrilled about a resolution. I already have today’s project laid out on my entry hall floor (new living room curtains!).

Are you telling that negative voice in your head to just shut up this year? Are you setting goals? Do you find the whole thing ridiculous? Is failure your middle name?