December 31, 2012 (as the clock strikes midnight!): At the beginning of this year, I made a lot of ambitious resolutions, as many of us do. Here’s me a few minutes after midnight on January 1, feeling hopeful about all the things I planned to accomplish in 2012.

me in my thinking cap planning my 2012 :-)

me in my thinking cap planning my 2012 🙂

I believe in making myself accountable, so, before making a new set of highly breakable resolutions for 2013, I will review how I did with accomplishing my 2012 resolutions.  To see my original post on January 1, check out RESOLVED 2012!!!

My 2012 resolutions were these:

1) Finances:  PAY DOWN MY DEBTS substantially (…by 93%). (Saving will have to be next year’s goal… 😦 )  CURTAIL purchases of new items.  Yep, that means STOP SPENDING MONEY!!

— Didn’t do too well here.  I only reduced my debts by 32%. It’s better than nothing, but still falls well short of where I should be! 😦

2) Health & Fitness: Exercise 4x/week (Thur, Fri, Sun & Tue)!  Walk or do weights or ride the exercise bike at the Falaj Daris.  Bring healthy lunches to work instead of eating the horrible “Chicken cooked 1,000 ways” or the starchy and over-salted vegetables in the university cafeteria. DRINK WATER!!!  (I always forget to do this!)

— My achievements here were sporadic and inconsistent.  In May, June & July, I got really serious about this, joining myfitnesspal online and recording everything I ate.  I also exercised almost daily, either walking at the crack of dawn or exercising at the Falaj Daris “gym.”  During this period of intense dedication, I lost 10 pounds, just in time to go back to the USA and to Greece. Over the 6 weeks on holiday, I slipped back into my self-indulgent habits & managed to gain almost all that 10 pounds back.  Since I returned to Oman, I have barely managed to exercise at all.  Now I am back to where I started, with some additional pounds.  I still ALWAYS FORGET TO DRINK WATER!! (Why doesn’t my body signal me that I’m thirsty?)  The only positive thing I did here was to stop eating the lunches in the cafeteria and start bringing my lunch to work.

3) Writing: Continue to write my Oman blog.  Finish my Cairo blog (what I can remember from 4 1/2 years ago!). Revise my 480-page novel.  Begin writing my book tentatively titled: Seeking Myself on (& off) the Kimchi Trail… LOL… 🙂

— Writing my blog is one thing that comes easy for me.  It’s what I do to stay sane here.  It’s provided me endless hours of pleasure.  I wrote 332 posts on this blog in 2012.  I also wrote 45 posts on catbird in america, 8 posts on catbird in cairo (so I didn’t finish!), 62 posts on greek wanderings, and 28 posts on african meanderings {& musings}.  I also started a photography blog, whatever a moon has always meant, which I have to admit I’ve neglected in recent months.

my blog.... to be continued for 6 more months... :-)

my blog…. to be continued for 6 more months… 🙂

As for my novel, I didn’t revise it at all.  Before I could revise it, I needed to read it from cover to cover.  After all, I wrote it nearly 10 years ago and could barely remember the story!! Well.  I HATE reading on the computer, so I kept putting this off.  When I read, I like to be in a reclining position, on the sofa or in bed.  Finally, in November, I got the idea that I could put the novel on my Kindle.  And it worked!!  Once it was on my Kindle, it was the first thing I picked up to read every night.  I finished reading the 480-page story before Christmas, and I have to say I LOVED IT!! I’m most excited about revising this in the coming year and sending it out to publishers.  If it gets rejected, I will self-publish it; I think it’s that good.  I was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing and honestly, as I was reading it, I kept thinking to myself: I CAN’T BELIEVE I WROTE THIS!!

Of course, I never started my book about the Kimchi Trail.  I’m the kind of person who has to finish one project before I dive into another, so realistically, this won’t happen until I finish revising my novel.

4) Language and Knowledge Goals: Try to read a bit of the Quran each night to gain an understanding of Islamic culture.  Study Arabic: Complete Level One of the Rosetta Stone Arabic.  Review Chapters 1-12 in Al-Kitab.  Study 1/2 hour 5 nights/week.  I’m serious.  Really.

— Well, I guess you can tell how “serious” a person is by how much time they spend on something.  This is one thing that never happened.  I could kick myself for this.  Here I’ve been living in an Arab country for 1 1/4 years, and I still haven’t made any effort to improve upon my Arabic knowledge.  Nor did I read the Quran.  I’m really disappointed in myself on this one.

5) Travel goals: Go to Greece this summer for 2 weeks. Go to Virginia for one month. Go to Lebanon during the November National Holiday.  In Oman: Explore as many wadis and beaches and tourist destinations as possible.  Go to Sohar, Salalah, Musandam.  Read about Jordan, which I never did before I went in November.  Read about Greece & Lebanon before my travels: novels, non-fiction, travelogues. NOW THIS IS THE FUN STUFF THAT I CAN EASILY “ACCOMPLISH.”

— Okay, I admit this stuff is easy to accomplish because it’s fun!  Of course, it still takes dedication to save money, plan itineraries, and actually go.  I went to VIRGINIA for one month in August and to GREECE for two weeks in September (part of the reason I didn’t pay down my debts as planned!). I read a lot about Greece, enriching my experience, before I went: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Eleni, The Summer of My Greek Taverna, It’s all Greek to Me, Cafe Tempest, Little Infamies, Eurydice Street, Odyssey with the Goddess.


I changed my plans to go to LEBANON (the plan should have been to do so over the Eid, not the National Holiday) because of State Department warnings about the upheaval there; instead, I went to ETHIOPIA to visit my friend Ed who works at the embassy in Addis Ababa. Before going to Ethiopia, I read a history of the country in Lonely Planet Ethiopia & Eritrea.  I also read two fascinating books set in Ethiopia: Chameleon Days and Beneath the Lion’s Gaze.

I also went to ABU DHABI, UAE during the Islamic New Year.

In Oman, I’ve explored more places than many Omanis have.  Often, I tell my students I have gone somewhere in Oman, and they’re amazed because they’ve never been there themselves.  I went to SALALAH, SOHAR, AL MUSANAAH, JEBEL SHAMS, all around MUSCAT and the north coast, SUR and SHARQIYA SANDS, and even to MUSANDAM (basically from the north tip to the south tip of Oman). I have favorite places I’ve been to many times (WEKAN and WADI MISTAL, JEBEL AKHDAR, MISFAT AL ABRIYYEN, and over the HAJAR MOUNTAINS through BALAD SAYT).  I’ve definitely DONE Oman!!

6) Family goals: Have my two sons, Alex (20) and Adam (19), come to visit me in Oman and RUN THEM RAGGED UNTIL THEY KEEL OVER FROM SHEER EXHAUSTION. (They arrive January 10!)  Spend time with my daughter Sarah (27) when I return to the US in the summer.  Visit my father, my sisters and my brother. Try to talk online more regularly with the boys.

— DONE!! See my January archives for stories of my sons’ visit.  We had a great time.  They loved it so much, they are all coming again on January first, this time only for 11 days.  I loved seeing my daughter in August and my father and my sister Joan and her kids.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to see my brother Rob or my sister Stephanie.


7) Social: Cultivate new friendships in Oman and elsewhere. BE NICE TO PEOPLE!! 🙂 Or at least try. Talk to my close friends regularly.

— Here I have mixed reviews.  I developed a close friendship with Mario starting in March of 2012.  This amazing friendship has truly sustained me throughout the year.  I’ve also become close to Anna and Kathy.  I’m not a really social person and never have felt the need to be friends with EVERYONE; I choose to spend my time with a few choice people whose company I truly enjoy. I think that’s one thing that will never change about me.  I’m not sure I really want it to.

I’m not very good at keeping up with my friends back home, except my long-time friend Jayne in California.  We talk regularly online.  My closest high school friends and I keep in touch through Facebook, but we don’t talk online.  They are my tried-and-true friends; I know they will always be there for me when I return home.  And I’ve established connections with the wonderful community of bloggers who I follow regularly; these people are a truly supportive & wonderful group of cyber-friends!

8) Cultural: Visit Oman’s museums and the big mosque.  Go to 2 shows during the spring at the Royal Opera House; 1 show in the summer; and 2 in the fall.  Look for other cultural activities.  Try to get invited to an Omani wedding. 🙂

— I visited Bait Zubair, Bait Muzna, and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat.  At the Royal Opera House Muscat, I saw the Egyptian composer Omar Khairat on February 15 and The Jewels of India Presents Panchtatva on September 17 (thus only 1 in the spring and 1 in the fall, none in summer).  I also attended an art exhibit by Greek painter KIKO at the Crowne Plaza on December 9 and a Japanese concert at the Ministry of Education Auditorium on October 9.  And I experienced my first and only Omani wedding in Al Awabi on February 16.

9) Home sweet home: Move into a new flat in Nizwa and decorate it to the hilt without spending any money (SEE RESOLUTION #1).

— I moved into my new flat, and I decorated it, but sadly, to do that, I had to spend money.  I spent about $1,100, all of which went on my credit card.  Ouch.

10) Work: Try to be more organized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Continue to love my students, which comes easy.  This is one surefire successful resolution.  Keep my job at the university and stay in Oman for at least one more year.

— DONE!  I don’t know why I put this because generally I’m very well-organized.  I do continue to love my students although many of them frustrate me at times.  I’ve managed to keep my job at the university for over a year, but I just tendered my 6 month resignation effective June 26, 2013.  So I will not be there for two full years, but for 1 3/4 years.

11) Eliminate at least one bad habit: Hmmm…… Which one should I choose?  Maybe I’ll try to eliminate PROCRASTINATION, which should lead to the accomplishment of many of the above.  Or better yet, SPENDING MONEY.  Yeah.  That’s the one.

— I’m good about NOT procrastinating about many things, but I am the queen of procrastination when it comes to things like revising my novel, studying Arabic, and exercising.  As far as SPENDING MONEY, I’m getting better at prioritizing.  I am trying to focus on my goals of travel, writing, and photography, and keeping my expenses limited to those areas.  I’ve been really good in recent months about NOT BUYING clothes; this is generally a HUGE challenge for me! So on this one, mixed reviews.

12) Spirituality: Meditate and spend time in prayer.  Spend time in nature and talk often to God.

— Mixed reviews on this.  I really don’t spend the time in meditation and prayer that I want to.  I really want to focus on this next year. Thanks to Mario, who enjoys nature and walking and photography as much as I do, I have spent a lot of time outside communing with the natural world.  I feel this is often a spiritual experience.

In years past, I’ve read a lot of spiritual books, about Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc.  This year, I’ve become really interesting in the idea of pilgrimage as a sacred quest.  I read two books this year on this topic: Odyssey with the Goddess: A Spiritual Quest in Crete and The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred.  This will definitely be a big theme in my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.

13) LOVE: Open up my heart.  Invite LOVE to find me…♥♥♥♥♥♥

— Sadly, I think I have closed myself off to love during this year.  I have become more jaded and less trusting of men in general.  It would take a lot for anyone to break into my heart now.  I would like reconciliation with my husband, and I’ve made those intentions clear to him, but it hasn’t happened this year.

I won’t berate myself too much for the things I didn’t accomplish this year.  I am really grateful for the things I did accomplish and for the great gifts and blessings that came my way.  My hope is that I will always be thankful for the rich and varied experiences that life tosses in my direction.

Happy New Year to all my readers!!

“When nothing is ahead of you, then you have come to an end. Where nothing is behind you, then ahead of you is a beginning.” ~ Carl Sandburg