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Tuesday, January 1, 2013:  Thirteen is usually my lucky number, so I’m hoping this will be a good year.  Despite my mixed success at achieving my resolutions in 2012, I am always hopeful that if I aim high, I at least will achieve SOMETHING!!  I’m sure you all have figured out what a Type A personality I am… sorry!  This I cannot escape…

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”
Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

Tada!! My resolutions for 2013:

1) Finances:  PAY DOWN MY DEBTS substantially (…by 50%). Save $6,000 for trip this summer to Spain, Portugal (& Morocco?).  Don’t spend money on anything other than travel unless it’s absolutely essential!

2) Health & Fitness: Exercise 4x/week!  Walk, do The Firm aerobics weight training video, or ride the exercise bike at the gym.  Bring healthy lunches to work.  DRINK WATER!!!  Keep track of my eating on myfitnesspal.  Lose 13 pounds and KEEP IT OFF!! (Current weight 66 kg/145 lb; goal: 60 kg/132 lb.) When I get back to the USA, ride my bike outdoors at least 2x/week.

I've had a membership at this gym for 3 months and have only used it twice!!

I’ve had a membership at this gym for 3 months and have only used it twice!!

3) Writing: FINISH AND PUBLISH MY NOVEL.  THIS IS MY NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR 2013!! (I finally read it in its entirety in November & December of  2012, and after 10 years of not looking at it, I couldn’t put it down!!  I was surprised that I actually wrote it… 🙂 )  Revise it, cutting out 150 pages and fixing all the problems.  Within the year, send it to an editor and then to publishers.  If no one will publish it, self-publish!! Once this is done, begin my next project.

Blogging: Continue to write my Oman blog until I leave Oman at the end of June. Commit to a 52 week blogging project: one contemplative photo with accompanying journal entry per week.  On this one day a week, I should do some spiritual type of walk, pilgrimage or meditation, journal about it and post an accompanying photo.  I’ll aim to do it on Fridays while in Oman and on Sundays once I return to the U.S.

Finish my Cairo blog (what I can remember from 5 1/2 years ago!).  Edit my Korea blog to show more and larger photos.  I have some beautiful photos from Korea, but the blog doesn’t showcase them well.

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”
Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

4) Photography: Learn to use the manual settings on my camera and experiment with photos.  Get a photo editing program and play around with photos.  Take a photography class when I return to the USA in the fall.

5) 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.  (I didn’t do this all last year, and really, I’m not that motivated to do it this year, especially since I will be leaving the Arab world at the end of June. However, I’ll still keep it on the back burner as a goal I’d like to achieve.)

6) Travel goals:  IF we get a semester break in January, go to either Sri Lanka, Kathmandu, Zanzibar, Morocco or Prague.  Go to Spain, Portugal & Morocco (a kind of Moorish adventure) this summer for 5 weeks.

In Oman: I only have 6 more months in Oman, so my goal is to see everything of significance that I haven’t seen. On the list are: Ar Rustaq, Ashkara Beach, Little Snake Canyon, the Oryx Sanctuary, Persian steps of Izki, the Damaniyat Islands (snorkeling), Sumail, Wadi Ghul and Al Khitaym, Safari Desert Camp in Wahiba Sands, Sinkhole Park (in Hawiyat Najm Park), Wadi Abreieen, Wadi Dayqah Dam, and Barr al Hickman beaches.  Visit the Chedi for a day at the pool.  I’d also like to see the Arabian horses in Adam.

In the region: Visit my new friends in Abu Dhabi.  Take a weekend trip to Al Ayn in UAE.  If we have a long weekend, visit the Islamic museum in Doha, Qatar.

Back in the USA: Take weekend trips around Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee.  Try to save for a trip to California to visit my sister and Jayne over the Christmas break.

One thing I really want to do on my travels is to linger and be more observant.  I want my trips to be a kind of spiritual pilgrimage, where I am totally present to each moment.  I want to be aware, keep a journal rich in details and take time with photos, learning about and experimenting with the manual settings on my camera.

THIS IS THE FUN STUFF THAT I CAN EASILY “ACCOMPLISH.”

7) Family goals: Have my husband Mike and my two sons, Alex (21) and Adam (20), come to visit me in Oman for 11 days. (They arrive January 1!)  Try to talk online more regularly with the boys and Sarah in the next 6 months.  When I return home, spend quality time with each of my family members individually and together as a family.

When I return home to the USA, spend time with my daughter Sarah (28) in Richmond.  If Mike is open to it, work on our marriage. Reconnect with my father, my sisters and my brother.

8) Social: Cultivate new friendships with great discernment. Cultivate at least one new friendship in Oman and one in Virginia. Make more of an effort to talk to my close friends regularly.  Invite someone somewhere once a month, either to come by for dinner or a movie, or to go on an outing. Reconnect with my old friends in northern Virginia and Washington.  Plan a get together with my old high school friends.  Attend the fall York High School gathering.

Finally, DON’T attend a single social gathering unless my heart is really into it.  Forget about making an appearance unless I REALLY WANT to do so.  And, don’t let any person disturb my peace of mind with his/her criticisms, unsolicited advice or intimidating tactics!  I have fought hard for my independence and self-esteem over the last 5 years.  Guard them relentlessly.

9) Cultural: Visit the museums in Oman that I haven’t seen.  Go to 1 show during the spring at the Royal Opera House.  Get involved in more InterNations activities.  Keep an eye out for other cultural activities.

the Royal Opera House Muscat

the Royal Opera House Muscat

When I return to Washington, attend Jazz in the Sculpture Garden on Friday evenings.  Visit the museums and art galleries in Washington.  See good movies in American cinemas!! Find new places to listen to live music. Explore the rich variety of ethnic restaurants in Washington and northern Virginia:-)  CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS!!

me at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden a couple of years ago... :-)

me at Jazz in the Sculpture Garden a couple of years ago… 🙂

10) Home sweet home: Move back home to Virginia, after my Moorish adventure, by early August.  Reacquaint myself.  Settle in.  Learn to see my old home with fresh eyes.

11) Work:  Finish up my job with University of Nizwa by June 26.  Begin working at my new job in the fall semester.  Apply to teach at least one class in international relations (using my hard-earned Master’s degree in International Commerce & Policy) as an adjunct, in addition to ESL classes.  Apply, once again, for a job at USAID or another AID organization.

12) Eliminate at least one bad habit:  SPENDING MONEY on unnecessary things.  Yep.  I keep trying this one. I have high hopes on this for the coming year. 🙂

13) Spirituality: Begin a meditation practice, starting with at least 10 minutes a day.  Read books about Buddhism, pilgrimage, spirituality, along with my other reading. Read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.   Start reading books about the Camino de Santiago and prepare to do some kind of pilgrimage in 2014.  Attend some services at Washington National Cathedral.

14) LOVE: Open up my heart.  Invite LOVE to find me…♥♥♥♥♥♥  (Still remaining hopeful on this.)

NOTE TO SELF:  You have the day ahead at your disposal.  Don’t think in terms too great.  Think about only what you can accomplish in a day.

Here are some books on my reading list for this year:

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long Term World Travel
Nixon under the Bodhi Tree and other works of Buddhist Fiction
Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge
Cutting for Stone ~ Abraham Varghese
Video Night in Kathmandu ~ Pico Iyer
Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love & Intimacy
The Language of Flowers
Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia
The Memory of Running
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail ~ Cheryl Strayed
Midnight’s Children ~ Salman Rushdie
The Road to Santiago ~ Kathryn Harrison
The Pilgrimage ~ Paul Coelho
Any good books I can find about spiritual awakening, being present to the moment, meditation or pilgrimage. I’m sure I will add many more to this list in the year ahead.

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The WordPress Writing Challenge: New Year’s Resolutions (Doompocalypse Redux), asks us to do the following:

Tell us about the three things you’d most like to change about your life, and make a bold, I-don’t-care-who-knows-it-because-there’s-a-meteor-a-comin’ assertion to the world that you are going to get these changes made. And that you’ll have at least started making them happen by March. When, erm, you’re probably going to wind up as dust.

Since I already wrote all the resolutions above, I will add that, of my 13 resolutions, the THREE things I’d MOST like to change by March, are: 1) Finances; 2) Health & fitness; and 3) Spirituality.  I also need to make substantial progress on my novel, revising at least 12 of my 50 chapters. See above for more details. 🙂

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY BLOG READERS! 🙂

“I love stupid plans.”
Megan Whalen Turner, The Queen of Attolia

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