2016 Out, 2017 In!

Yes, I’m aware that the new year is already 36 days old.  Cut me some slack. I just unearthed a box of unopened mail from December 2014. My “to do” list isn’t exactly up to date.

Last year I wrote about New Year’s resolutions and detailed what I hoped to accomplish in 2016. That post is here. In the interest of accountability, I give you my results:

1- Exercise 3 times a week.

VICTORY!  There were months where I took an average. Forgive me.

2- Read 2 books a month:

FAIL. To be clear, I won’t let myself “count” any audio books I listen to, which would push me well into the VICTORY category. I only “count” books I read with my own two eyes. I only accomplished ½ my goal.

3- Write 1 new blog post a month:

FAIL.  Dismal, pathetic failure. 2016 was tough. I didn’t write here because…well…I didn’t feel there was worth in the practice. I didn’t feel valued. I didn’t feel that anyone read or cared. I didn’t think writing for mental clarity or the actual writing exercise had merit. 2016 did a number on me.

4- Save some money.

FAIL. No discussion.

5- Send 1 handwritten note- unsolicited- to a real person every month.

VICTORY! This was the best practice I implemented in my life in 2016. It was fantastic. I sent all 12 notes, excluding “Thank You” notes and notes to cast members or interns during the summer theatre season. Some notes included a small gift, all notes were sincere and had a specific point. Fully half of the notes were acknowledged by the recipient.

6- Meal plan for our house every week. EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

VICTORY!  This was the second best practice I implemented in my life in 2016. In the past I have been a fan of spontaneity and “What do you feel like?” dinner plans. My meal planning in 2016 left room for that flexibility, but significantly reduced my grocery spending and overall food waste.

7- Keep up those other successful bits of awesome I attempt.

VICTORY!  I concede, however, that this is subjective.  Some days just showering and leaving the house fulfilled my “bits of awesome.”

I have plans for 2017.  

1- Exercise 3 times a week.

I thought about eliminating this from “resolutions” because I enjoy a generally fit lifestyle. Seeing the workouts logged, knowing I made a promise, and keeping the promise motivates me.

2- Read 2 books a month.

This should be easy for me. I used to read three books a week. I can easily read a 300 page novel in a sitting. I must do this.

3- Write 1 new blog post a month.

I cannot doubt what I know works for me. Even my shallow, emotional rants serve a purpose in my consciousness. I also have been listening to a storytelling podcast (The Moth- go listen!) that reminds me:  I have stories to tell.  2017 is the year I tell my stories.

4- Focus on financial health.

A slight modification from past years’ “Save some money” resolutions, financial health is different. I’m returning to a period in my life where I sat every Monday morning and balanced checkbooks, transferred money to savings, evaluated money in/out, and saved for vacations and extravagances- all without relying on lines of credit. 2017 and 2018 bring some milestones to my and Joe’s life and I’d much rather enjoy them than not.

5- Send 1 handwritten note- unsolicited- to a real person every month.

I’m telling you: try this. Real mail, real letters, real appreciation for a human in your life. This not only brightens someone else’s day, you will marvel at how many people you have to choose from. Sitting and thinking of who is (or was) a light in your life keeps marvelous perspective.

6- Date Joe more- 2 times a month, I hope.

Like any couple, we used to have a set “Date Night.” During hectic weeks or months (and honestly, the years 2010-2013), we’d laugh and vow to make it up. We spend lots of quality time together, but we’re going to try to spend concerted “Dates” together. We even made lists of places to check out for a few hours, restaurants to visit. We’ve been RedBox – ing movies together. It’s really, REALLY nice. #year13

7- Organize these digital photos.

UGH. My goal is 50 per day, all year long. If I get 1,000 per month I’ll be happy, though. That *might* get my iPhone cleared up.

8- An overall de-cluttering initiative.

To be fair, this started in Fall 2016. I spent several hundred dollars and about nine days working my costume collection. I’ve attacked my personal wardrobe and started utilizing ThredUp and Poshmark to thin out my collections. I’ve dropped three full Jeep loads at Salvation Army. I’ve even been throwing out “souvenirs.” 2017 will bring success with this resolution, I know it.

9- Decrease digital messes.

7, 8, and 9 could probably be combined.  Each day I have nine email addresses I check. That’s nine inboxes of subscriptions, spam, and news. I’m hoping to streamline this to three, each serving a purpose. I strive to unsubscribe from unwanted shopping sites and merge duplicate accounts.

10- Random acts of connection.

If you’ve read anything at all here, you realize that I not only hoard STUFF, I hoard relationships. Or their baggage. Or their remnants. So instead of dwelling on these past connections, I’m trying something fun and fleeting.  I bought Sneaky Cards. Check ‘em out. Random, fun, bold connections with strangers who get to pay it forward into the world is my goal.

SO…..I took most of my 2016 list and put it on the docket for 2017.  I eliminated the meal planning from my list. It is completely ingrained in our household. We waste less, we spend less, we eat better, and our pantry is never harboring random canned goods from early 2006. Keeping the “bits of awesome” should go without saying at this point in my life. If it’s good, keep it. If it’s bad, toss it.

Ten is a lot- a WHOLE lot. One month in, nothing’s been abandoned yet. One month in, all ten feel pretty good.  


Hoarding? Preparedness!

Ok. So.  My hoarding tendencies are the subject of many a joke, jab, and lively family discussion.  I have the “Room of Doom” on the second floor of my house.  My car hasn’t been able to regularly accommodate passengers in quite some time. When I pack for the theatre, I look like I’m going on a year-long world cruise. Over the past several years, even I have grown weary with the sheer quantity of “stuff” I sort through on a regular basis. The peak of my horror, however, came three years ago when I got home late and Joe was watching TV, drinking a beer.  I flipped the TiVo to the other tuner, questioning, “Why are we taping ‘Hoarders’?” His spit take said it all.

Joe thought it was HILARIOUS to record this show, illustrating my future.

I’m getting better.  I am.  I throw out more.  I acquire less. I stop accepting “donations” from friends cleaning out their own stashes. Monday, though, I decided to blame Nancy Drew for my pack-ratting, at least as it relates to my car.

I grew up reading the Nancy Drew series.  My grandmother kept the books that my mother and aunts enjoyed in the 50s and 60s. The thrill of visiting “Grandma’s Library” in the basement (“the cellah” as only a New Yorker can articulate) still gives me a giggle of anticipation.  In the 80s I read a new, updated Nancy Drew series. They were scary! There were more predators, a definitive threat of sexual danger, and lots of feathered bangs.  By the 90s, as I should have outgrown my pal and her adventures, Nancy was back to her roots: her strawberry blonde or auburn hair (depending on the ghost-writer) was blowing in the breeze as the sped to Ned’s house in her roadster. One of the constants, though, was Nancy’s over-night bag, conveniently located in her car at all times.  Nancy had her essentials in her handbag, in her car, in her suitcase; I vowed to be like Nancy.  It was a great idea:  be prepared for spontaneous overnights without compromising clean clothes or hygiene.

My 21st century version of this preparedness may be excessive.  Let’s go back to the day of my “Blame Nancy Drew Epiphany.”


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Costume shop? Garage sale? Goodwill donation pile? My car.


Monday I discovered that my yoga capris were see-through.  Although I endured the problem at my all-women running club,  running errands presented a problem. Do strangers need to see my underwear? I simply reached into the backseat and selected one of FIVE sweatshirts from the pile of clothes, tied the hoodie around my waist, and hopped out of the car.  When I think about it, the stash of “stuff” in my car has come to the rescue multiple times over the past twelve years.  Highlight reel:

2014: See through pants story isn’t enough?  How about this:  I’m helping a friend with her school production of The Little Mermaid, Jr. An actor doesn’t show up for the second show and a prepared cast member is ready to go onstage and woo Prince Eric.  The only caveat is that the absent actor has taken her costume home.  I head to my trusty steed (a Ford Escape) and dig out six different costume dresses for the young lady to try on. Crisis averted.

2012: My three oldest niblings are spending most of their time with me.  We have our adventures and whenever a moment of boredom sets in one of them will say, “Can I just go to car and find something?” James, Mychaela, and Jack even have their OWN hoards in the car:  bags of school supplies, random rocks collected, and other necessary talismans of childhood. Incidentally, for several years now, one of their favorite things to do is climb on the car, acting as though their scaling a mountain.  Jack likes to take a plastic measuring tape from the car, scale the mountain with it as his harness, then sit atop the  SUV and transform his harness to a fishing pole, “fishing” from the roof.

2008: A friend and I drive to Princeton, NJ for another friend’s aunt’s funeral.  Sitting in the procession of cars outside the mausoleum, we’re starving. It’s snowing. Roads are bad. Panic is setting in for my passenger.  Pack rat to the rescue!  From the shopping-bag laden bag seat comes Corn Pops, pretzels, Cheeze Its, and Skittles. Same funeral, after the luncheon:  What to do with all the leftovers?!  Ford Escape to the rescue; I had brand new packages of Rubbermaid plastic food storage containers.

2007: The running joke at the theatre is now, “Juliet has one in her car.”  I always do.

2004: I worked an hour away, had just met Joe, and was bouncing between home, NYC, and Philadelphia.  My sporty little car looked like a closet, but I was never without a complete toiletry set and awesome shoes.

2003: Now a regular party-goer in a new circle of friends, I have the brilliant idea to play beer pong (Beirut, by Gettysburg College terminology).  We set up a table and cups and teams….no ping pong balls.  Hoarding to the rescue!  From my car comes a bag of pool toys and swim lesson “accessories” including six ping-pong balls.

2002: The newbie to the aforementioned circle of friends, I was the hero producing a silver Sony boom-box from the depths of my trunk at a backyard party desperate for some music.

Folding table for the Farmer’s Market?  Still in my car.  Need two folding chairs?  Got ’em.  Forget make-up when you left the house this morning?  I have new and used.  Unexpectedly stuck somewhere?  Allow me to offer eight or ten books for your literary enjoyment.

I know it’s a stretch.  I like my stuff and I really like having whatever you might need at any given moment.  I am getting better.  I’ve set a goal for myself- clean, organized car by the close of September.  Nancy Drew was a big fan of goals, too.

I stumbled upon a tiny book five or six years ago.  Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick was an adorable Hallmark store find:  a throw back to my youth and perfect addition to my coffee table books. There’s no section on hoarding, per se, but Chapter 8 “Accoutrements” has a much nicer ring.


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You can learn more about Jennifer Worick here.