I feel like I'm holding my breath.

It's just that 2010 was so... volatile. The highs were fairly high, but the lows were low, low, low. I'm honestly glad it's over. We weren't as, well, let's say successful, as we could have been in many aspects - financially, emotionally, healthfully (if that's a word). My house is not clean or as renovated as I hoped it would be by now. We're missing a furry little piece of our heart. We burned through a chunk of savings this year, partly from unexpected expenses like vet bills, but mostly because we're exceptionally bad at sticking to a budget. We haven't been able to make any progress towards owning a home or having dogs or babies. I had some miserable moments at work.I've been sick since July, clawing my way back from yet another relapse. On the other had, I had a job the entire year. We're renting a house that has no crappy hipster upstairs neighbors that we have to share a washing machine with. We had those savings to burn. We were able to give Kitten a loving, joyous home until the very end. Mr. PW spent his first semester as a TA, falling in love with teaching and kicking major ass at it. We're alive. We're in love. It's a start.

We're at my mother's right now, for our third and final Christmas. Mr. PW's families split last weekend. It's been a wonderful, stressful, happy time,  just like all family visits are. We're watching the Rose Bowl (Go Red! Wooooo!) and digesting nummy Greek food. Last night over jambalaya I asked if anyone was going to making resolutions, and I kind of got laughed at. The general consensus was, well, if you know you're not going to keep them, why make them? And I can kind of see that, but I think they're missing the point. The whole idea isn't that you have to fulfill every resolution; it's that you try. Just try to make yourself better, or improve a situation, or break a bad habit. If you don't hit your goal, so what? It's the effort that makes you a better person.So in that spirit, I've made some resolutions. I'm hoping that by putting them out here, I'll be more mindful of them through the year. Warning: wall of text ahead.

The Official "2011 Will Rock Because" List.

Emotional

1.  I resolve not to beat myself up if I don't complete my list. My loved ones will tell you that I hold myself to an impossibly high standard, much higher than I hold anyone else. This only ever ends in tears and fear-driven paralysis. The first step to success is accepting failure, or something uplifting like that. Whatever. 2. Eliminate fear. In companionship with #1, my biggest character flaw is that I let fear of failure completely paralyze me and prevent me from trying anything new. Or if I do work up the courage to try something and I don't ace it flawlessly, I get so disgusted with myself I resolve never to try again. (Also see: two weeks ago, trying to bake sugar cookies, and getting so frustrated with the lack of space and equipment that I threw a tantrum and tossed everything down the garbage disposal. Not one of my finer moments.) 3. Find a sewing community and improve my technical skills. I will never be a truly creative person. I can learn plenty of skills by rote; I can parrot other people's ideas, I can copy anything I've been shown, but I can't take what's been laid out for me and take it further to create something fresh. I'm not getting down on myself; it's just who I am. So to make up for that, I really want to understand the technical aspects of sewing. Correct pattern layout, understanding of grain direction, correct use of seams and proportion, the ability to alter patterns, proficient use of muslins, underlinings, linings, and stitches - I want to be vastly improved at all of these things at this time next year. I'm signed up for a beginner's sewing class in February! It's a first step, right? 4. Create a space for myself. I always had my own room growing up, and only had a roommate for one year in college. I've always had my own space that I could do up as I liked and spread my stuff around and not be invaded and since I've moved to Wisconsin I've had none of that. We haven't had the space to spare, so I've had my computer shoved into a corner of some common room and my sewing things put where they can fit and I've shared the space with a couch or with a shelf of towels or whatever else we don't have the room to fully put away. It's made me pretty resentful, but secretly resentful, which as well know is so, so helpful. But really, no one's said I can't take my little corner upstairs and do something with it. I can't do too much but I can make it my own. Hopefully it'll be a nice before and after project I can share here. 5. Finish What I start. My second huge character flaw. My life is a graveyard of half-finished projects, cast aside because I don't have the discipline to force myself to complete them once my attention has wandered elsewhere. Anyone else this way? It's going to be a matter of forcing myself to accept the boring, sloggy parts of projects, and not allow myself to procrastinate. And not picking projects that aren't really my style, a la Reverb10.

Physical

1. Create a butt. I have no butt. That's putting it nicely. It's flatter than Kansas. It's a symptom of a desk job and frankly, hating all forms of exercise. I'm not going to lie, if there was a pill to make me fit I'd take it. Sweating sucks and I break out in hives when I exercise*. But I have a Wii Fit and a bike and there's nowhere to go but up.

2. Yoga. I feel better when I do yoga. I have more energy, less pain, and my Crohn's is more regulated. But I haven't done it in years because I hate exercising in front of my husband and there's no other room to do it in. I'm keeping my eye out for yoga class Groupons and if you've got a suggestion for a great beginner's video, I'll take it. I just want to be able to touch my toes, you know?

3. Move towards whole food and away from processed foods. - I cannot believe how much I've learned in the past year about processed foods and the chemicals that go into them! I still will eat the hell out of a box of Oreos, though. I don't think that's ever going to change. I don't even think that it's necessary to cut them out completely. But my instincts tell me that my body and my family will be healthier and live longer the more we cut that shit out. We've made small steps, changing our dairy over to organic and and working on cooking more at home from whole ingredients. We don't use mixes or many ready-made items out of foodie principles anyway.  :) P.S. There's a great, easy to understand blog over at Fooducate if you want to learn more about healthy eating.

4. One glass of water before soda. Along those lines, I doubt I'm ever going to fully kick my soda habit, despite being aware of its consequences. The best I can hope for is making it into a conscious choice, instead of the first thing I reach for when I'm thirsty.

Other

1. Book List I barely read at all this year, and I'm very disappointed in myself. I could make excuses about work, chores, and time, but honestly, I can find the time if I want to. I'm setting myself a goal of 12 books to read before 12/31/11:

1. Cleopatra:  A Life - I'm so excited for this one. I got it from my brother in law for Christmas and besides it being one of my favorite subjects, it's a gorgeous book with lovely color plates in the middle.

2. The Hunger Games Trilogy - I'm already halfway through the first book on the Kindle and I am HOOKED. Why ever did I wait so long?

3. The Autobiography of Mark Twain - We've got this on the Kindle too and I'm impatient for Mr. PW to get through it so I can start. Seriously, can you think of anyone more suited to write their autobiography than Mark Twain?

4. The Omnivore's Dilemma - I'll finish this if it kills me. It's not that it's uninteresting or anything, it's just that I'm not smart enough to remember what I've learned after I stop listening.

5. Ender's Game - Can you believe I've never read this? I loved the Seventh Son series and Enchantment (one of my all time favorite books), so I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears and go LALALALALALA and ignore The Crazy that is Orson Scott Card.

6.  My Antonia - This one is at the request of my mother in law. I've never read Willa Cather and I've had this brain block that she's going to be dense and boring. I have been assured that this is not the case.

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - everyone around me is reading this and it looks fascinating.

8. Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children - Several friends have read this book in preparation for parenting and say it's really affected them. In a time when people my age are re-thinking how their parents raised them, it'd be good for me to start learning how children work before I get knocked up.

9. Shakespeare - I don't know which yet. But I think it would benefit me and my language skills to immerse myself in one of his plays again.

10 - 12. TBD. I'm really picky about my books. For example, I was really "meh" on both The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveler's Wife, books that everyone around me had raved about.

I can't believe you read all through that.

*this is literally true. Sometimes when I exercise I break out in intense itching all over my thighs, arms and torso. Anyone else have this happen to you? Even my dermatologist has no clue what it could be.

Parting shot: My mother in law's Christmas tree. She procured a young magnolia tree from their college campus that had accidentally been plowed over and used it as her tree this year! She kept it very simple and only put white lights, little birds, and a few blue and white balls in it. Apparently it started to bloom today!  You can see the buds here. I thought it turned out lovely, but the other kids weren't so sure...

Heidi's Tree