What happens when I have a lot of spare time on my hands.

The fact I'm able to post every day tells you something about my holiday. We haven't left home since Wednesday. We've hardly changed out of our pajamas. I keep saying, "That's what the holidays are for," but I'm beginning to feel a little sloppy. When I'm at work I dream about unstructured days. Funny, when I have no commitments I dream of work. There must be something wrong with me, something like being H-U-M-A-N.

I've used part of my week to comb through my journal, reading back through what I wrote from January forward to see where I've been and how (if at all) I've progressed since then. I wish I could say I've grown by leaps and bounds, but so far it doesn't look that way. Back in January I was whining about the same things I've whined about up through the past month. Frustrating, really.

Still, I keep digging. I must have improved in some way. Surely? I've completed another year of graduate school, keeping my perfect 4.0 average. That has to count. And … And … I've read more than an average of one book per week all year. I'm still working at the library, and I'm up to three years' seniority there. Two more years and I get a door prize!

What else have I done? The family enjoyed a nice vacation last summer, renting a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin - another example of how I handle laid-back days. But I had homework to fill some of my time. I'm done with the semester now. I could read, but then I'll hear how I'm isolating myself from the family. Nothing wrong with some alone time, though. I'm a firm believer in it. I think taking breaks makes me easier to live with, if anything can.

Perhaps the best way to spend my alone/personal time is in thinking about 2009. Obviously, I had a stunted 2008. It wasn't without its share of excitement, or I should say upheaval. My last post of the year will reveal a lot about that, so I won't repeat it.

My goal for 2009 is to have something to show for it, something to point to and say, "This is what I accomplished." Just getting through 2008 was its own accomplishment. I may have no completed project to show for it – no anything, really, I can take a photo of and say, "This is what I did." All I did was internal, making slow progress, part forward and part sideways. Three steps forward, two back all year long. It was exhausting.

2009 will have a lot more soul-searching, work that makes me feel as though I'm getting nowhere. What I need are other things I can do, projects I can actually finish alongside the internal work that won't pay off for several more years. I want something to stand beside, to say, "Look. I did this." It's not so I can show off; it's to prove to myself I can accomplish something smaller while I'm working on difficult, long-term projects.

The problem is WHAT, and how I can go about it without too much added pressure. I have to find something that won't make me feel a failure if I don't get all the way through it. It has to give me partial credit, whatever it is.

I have 4.5 days left to mull it over, to think of some way I can reach the end of 2009 with the feeling of having done something to show for living another year, aside from just having survived it. For some people in my position that would probably be enough, but not for this woman. I want both: my slow, sideways progression that moves at glacial pace, and something I can say I've accomplished in 2009.

Funny how the end of a calendar year makes a person contemplative. It's an artificial break, a man-made method of determining where to cut off time and start it anew. But I think that's valuable as a means of measuring life. Otherwise, how would we know when to start stressing about the beginning of a new year?

Don't tell my doctor I said that … Don't tell her any of this, actually. She'd give me a tongue-lashing, telling me I'm putting strain on my already overwhelmed system. So this is just between you and me.

Whatever I decide as to my goals for 2009, they don't have to be impossible. I won't set my sights too high. Just high enough to be able to identify some progress. 2008 left me feeling frustrated. Reading back through my journals it's hard to see much forward motion. Others may tell you differently, but I need progress I can see. Something, anything measurable in more than tiny increments. Something I can feel good about, satisfied with. I don't want 2009 to feel wasted. Not that I can say 2008 was a total waste of time. It was a necessarily cathartic year. The catharsis will continue into 2009. I don't need a crystal ball to see that.

Wish me luck. I could sure use it. And, if you have any spare resolutions I could use those, too. Back to wracking my brain go I.

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