Saturday, January 21, 2012

Resolutions and Priorities

I know it has been awhile since I last posted. I honestly had planned on posting a couple of Christmas and New Year's posts highlighting our holidays in our new home and country, but unfortunately Joe received a really nasty cold for Christmas, which he so kindly shared with me on New Year's Eve. Thankfully, the boys maanged to escape it and start the new year off in good health. Though our holidays were lovely and we had a wonderful time checking out Zurich and Munich as a family and spending the holidays with our first family guests, I guess I have (probably along with most people) moved past the holidays and are full force into the new year. Finally!

I'm not one to really make new year's resolutions. I generally have in mind the goals of eating better, exercising, volunteering my time, learning something new and maintaining a creative and optimistic outlook. But, I have long since strayed away from the notion of setting unrealistic or definitive goals after learning year after year that life can, and usually will, throw you a curveball and remind you that you are not always in control of your circumstances however much you may wish you were. That being said, I have spent many of the last few years putting myself second to just about anything and anyone else that seemed to need my time and attention. Though I greatly valued the experiences, I have since discovered that by putting myself so low on the priority list, I was quickly running out of any more "me" to give.

So, I decided to make a change this year and finally get myself back on my own priority list.  To kick off the new year I finally joined The Thermes - a UFO shaped building in Bertrange that houses a great gym and indoor swimming pools/water slides. I honestly have not been great at exercising for the last few years, not so much because I don't like to (I generally do), but because everything and everyone else seemed to need my time and I could never force it into my schedule. So, this year I was determined to put it rightfully back on my priority list. I have been truly motivated by some of my close friends back in Texas who, being over 40, stay-at-home moms like myself, finally made themselves a priority last year and did what I always thought was impossible for myself - they forced themselves to the gym, lost weight, and now look as good, if not better, than they did when I was friends with them in high school. Although I am still determined not to set number goals for myself, I have set the goal of making that time a priority and forced it on to my calendar!

Just by living here in Europe, I already feel that we are making better eating choices as a family. The farmer's market on the weekends is a great motivator when it comes to cooking healthier meals at home, and the lack of fast food restaurants makes home cooking a bigger necessity. Combine that with the fact that, since most food here does not contain the level of preservatives that most do in the States, you are also forced to go to the grocery store much more often. There are no Costco's or Sam's Clubs, nor do folks generally have the room to stockpile large quantities of food items (smaller refrigerators, freezers, etc.). Add to that the high cost of going out to eat, you quickly find that you are forced to take control of your diet, rather than allowing the fast-paced nature of on-the-go meals you are constantly bombarded with in the U.S. control you. After getting past the first few months where we were still learning the ropes and consuming the quick pastry or plate of pasta, we have finally managed a better routine and more balanced meals. Life moves at a much slower pace here, and it doesn't take much to learn the benefits of using that time to make better decisions. The ever-present bottle of wine doesn't hurt either!

My only other resolution for 2012 that follows my guideline of self improvement is learning French. Yes, I will admit that you can manage fine in Lux without knowing French, German or Luxembourgish, but it does really start to drain on you after awhile. I miss that casual conversation with the check-out clerk at the grocery store or mall. I even had a dream not so long ago about going to Target and getting all of my shopping done for the day without having to go anywhere else. I can't begin to tell you how bummed I was when I woke up and realized the impossibility of that dream. Though there are "super marches" similar to Target here, they still lack the familiarity (and the in-store Starbuck's) that kept me a loyal Target shopper for so many years. So, I have started the registration process at the INL (short for National Institute of Languages) for one of their "immersion" style French classes this spring. I am also working hard to work French into each day whether it is watching French TV, trying to read the French subtitles at the movies, or just trying to decipher my own mail. I have a friend who majored in French in college who spent a semester abroad in France. I asked her if she ever reached the point when she felt she was "fluent." Her answer- "Yes! I knew I was fluent when I finally started dreaming in French." So, maybe one day that dream will be of me shopping at Belle Etoile, chatting away with the cashier - en Francais!

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