Monday, May 28, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Bob and I are having one of those years in which it seems we are constantly bombarded with decisions that have to be made. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Some decisions are fun: a meeting we thought we had has been cancelled. Do we go out and see a movie or stay home and play board games? (Probably the latter.) Others just fun to consider: do we throttle that member of the church who's such a know-it-all and who does nothing but judge and whine? (No, it wouldn't be the Christian thing to do. Besides, I've always kind of hoped that if I ever made the headlines, it wouldn't be as a murderous minister and minister's wife.)

All kidding aside, though, we've also been faced with some tough decisions, and all this decision-making has left me feeling a bit decisioned-out. Nonetheless, I'm spending this Memorial Day weekend making some decisions. You see, earlier this year, I made some decisions that I've already begun to regret. And once you begin to regret a decision, it seems it becomes another decision that has to be made. Luckily, I'm not talking about any decisions that can't easily be undone, which is why I'm here today to discuss undoing some of the decisions I've made.

DECISION #1: Changing my blog.
At the beginning of the year, I decided that my blog needed resuscitating. I chose a new design template for it. This was a very wise decision. I still love the "new" look of my blog. It cheers me up every time I visit. I also decided to be more purposeful in my writing, alternating blog posts among my 3 passions: books, music, and food. This was the stupid decision. I'm writing less than ever now, and it seems it's just because I can't be bothered much to write about food and music, while I've become a slave to my plan, thinking "I can't write another post on books. It's been ages and ages since I wrote about food."
RE-DECISION #1: It seems this slave needs to run away (and take all her books with her). I'm leaving the overbearing plan. I'm back to writing mostly about books and whatever else strikes my fancy. We'll see if anymore blog posts about music and food appear.

DECISION #2: Joining 2 reading challenges (The Once Upon a Time Challenge and The Classics Challenge). I love both these challenges. Really, I do. But what was I thinking? I've never been good at completing any reading challenges, and I already belong to three book discussion groups, and now I'm on the One Book, One Community Committee, which means reading tons of books to help us decide which is going to be our community read in 2013. That's enough when it comes to reading assigned books by specific deadlines.
RE-DECISION #2: I will enjoy the two challenges vicariously, when I can, peeking at what others are reading and what they have to say, and I will continue to keep reading the books I planned to read, but I will read them on my own schedule. I may or may not write blog posts about them. You may have noticed I've replaced the beautiful buttons for both these challenges (a sad thing to do, but necessary to convince myself I've really dropped the two challenges) with new gadgets on my blog: "Album I'm Loving" (there. A little bit of music for you) and "Book I'm Loving."

DECISION #3: Making complicated monthly reading plans.
For a number of years I've been in the habit of planning what books I'm going to read each month. It's kind of fun. Around the end of each month, I begin browsing shelves and the pages of my TBR tome and draw up a list, which sometimes has to be changed when I discover that in order to read everything on it, I'll need to read 500 pages a day. This year, though, I decided to make my monthly plan far more complicated than I ever had. I had assigned categories I was trying to fill, like "contemporary fiction," "classic fiction", "children's/y.a.", "poetry". Talk about taking the joy out of reading (there must be some Puritan blood in me somewhere the way I'm able to take things I love and turn them into chores). Why on earth did I set up a plan that was basically the equivalent of revisiting the horror I call "high school English classes"?
RE-DECISION #3: No more complicated monthly plans. In fact, I'm considering just reading at will. I'm not sure it's something I can do. For some reason, I do like having some sort of a plan (probably why I'm so easily convinced to join challenges). A glimmer of hope is shining off in the distance, though: I have not yet drawn up any sort of list for June, and when I was at our annual library book sale last week and came across a pristine copy of Lonely Werewolf Girl, a book I've been wanting to read forever, I bought it, abandoned everything else I was reading (overdue library books be damned), and dove right in. I've gone back to reading other things while reading it (I will never be a one-book-at-a-time sort), but that's something I rarely ever do, buy a book and begin it the day I buy it.

DECISION #4: I'm going to eat one vegetarian, one vegan, and one anything goes meal a day (an idea I got from Mark Bittman when I read his Food Matters). This is a very hard thing to do when you're (for health reasons) also trying to eat more protein and to cut back on sugar, white flour, and gluten in your diet. My vegan meals often include bread or pasta. I've found gluten-free pasta that I love, but I have yet to find a gluten-free bread that I love. In fact, if you're trying to cut down on those three things. it seems the best diet to adopt is the paleo diet, which recommends eating some sort of lean meat at every meal (something I'm smart enough to know not to even pretend I'm going to try to do, especially since the diet also forbids dairy, and I love my raw milk, yogurt, and cheese).
RE-DECISION #4: Again, I will stop being a slave to the plan. I'm still trying to eat meat only occasionally and to eat more vegan meals, but I'm not trying so hard to stick to this one-one-one thing. First of all, it doesn't work too well if you love to eat leftovers (which I do) and find yourself with 3 vegetarian choices and 1 meat-based choice in your fridge but no vegan choices (unless all you're going to do is eat raw carrots and broccoli, which I'm not). And secondly, I'm tired of eating something, and then thinking, "Oh, wait a minute. That was supposed to be a vegan meal!"

DECISION #5: I'm going to go a year without buying any books.
Can we all just laugh at this one? I think I bought my first book within a week of making this decision ("Book discussion/OBOC books I can't get through our library system don't count.")
RE-DECISION #6: Stop pretending I'm not buying any books this year. I will, instead, make more of an effort to get rid of those I've read, will never read again, and that need to find new homes.


GeraniumCat said...

What a delightful post - it made me laugh as some of those decisions sound rather familiar, especially the not-buying-books one - I never seem to manage that for more than a week before succumbing to "just one exception". But then I almost never start it right away. It's definitely a good decision to rid yourself of all those angst-making ones and to concentrate on enjoying the things you love.

Stefanie said...

At leat you aren't forcing yourself to continue to live with decisions that haven't worked out, that's the important thing :) As for vegan meals, do you have a good, basic vegan cookbook? If not, can I recommend Veganomicon? It is fantastic and promise you won't have trouble getting protein.

Anonymous said...

Writing about just what you feel like writing is what blogging is for isn't it? Since you're not getting paid for it... I tend to make too many plans, and then they become burdens as well. But there is something fun about planning, and reassuring that tempts me. Glad to hear that you're not bound by your decisions! Btw there is research that shows decision making is literally tiring--it drains the brain of glucose. That's why when people go to a wedding planner, they get showed the bigger ticket items last. By then they're ready to agree to anything just to finish.

Emily Barton said...

GC, Glad to see I'm not the only one who vows not to buy books and then makes constant exceptions. And thanks for approving of my re-decisions.

Stef, thanks for the heads up about Veganomicon. I'll have to take a look at it.

Lilian, yes, that's EXACTLY what blogging is for, and it's time I got back to it. And, yes, I do have a thing about liking to plan. Sometimes, though, I spend all my time planning and no time executing :-)!

Susan said...

I don't even bother saying I won't buy any books! lol Though I strangely find myself not wanting to buy any, and to read some of the ones I have bought recently.

I agree with Geraniuncat, I laughed at the decisions you made, that you know have to reconsider. I tend to that with diets (I will now NOT eat any sugar! or I will lose such and such weight in a month.....)exercise programs, and yes, challenges. I will read 50 classics in 5 years? what, am I kidding? I haven't read one yet this year! still, it's a pretty button :-)

Yaaay for Lonely Werewolf Girl! Are you enjoying it? It was my book of the year a few years ago. I gave it to my niece to read, and it hasn't come back yet, so I might have to get another copy - it's one I will reread again, I enjoyed it so much. I hope you are too :-)

Your blog new look is pretty, too.

Courtney said...

I think I've seen this tree before! I am feeling quite similar ( what a shock, right?) I love love love all of your reconsiderations. I mean gosh, when do we just get to let loose and have fun blogging again? I too enjoy the elaborate plan but they aren't practical at all for where I am in life. Yay for visions and revisions,

Emily Barton said...

Susan, diets are the worst when it comes to re-decisions. I'm constantly making unrealistic decisions, since I happen to be married to a man whose profession revolves around events that involve receptions where I find myself, time and again, faced with tables full of food (most of which is not "free" of whatever I've decided I must stop eating).

Loney Werewolf Girl? Fantastic! Your opinion of it was one of the things that put it on my "must read" list. Have you read the sequel yet?

Court, yes, what a shocker that you and I are having similar feelings :-)! I much prefer your "vision" and "revision" over my "decision" and "re-decision." I'm all for just having fun blogging again, and THAT will be my plan.