How To Create Standout Moments in 2011

January 5, 2011 § 13 Comments

A standout moment in Lanai

In December, 60 Minutes did a piece on the six people identified so far who have autobiographical memories. These are people who can recall every single moment of their lives, eventful or mundane: the day they had to switch from a beloved to a new school at the age of 13, including reliving the emotions experienced that day; what they did the day they broke up with a girlfriend 15 years ago; what the weather was like on May 3, 1975; or the score of the Redskins-Steelers game on November 10, 1991.

The piece discussed whether this endless memory was a gift or a curse. But in the end, one of the six said:

“…Sure, there are times when it’s difficult. But I feel like it makes me live my life with so much more intention and so much more joy. Because I know that I’m gonna remember whatever happens today, it’s like, all right, what can I do to make today significant? What can I do that is gonna make today stand out?”

Now is a popular time for folks to make New Year’s resolutions, to set personal and professional goals for the coming year or to update their bucket lists. In the last few days of 2010, I reflected on what I’d wanted to do that year, noted what I actually did and updated my bucket list.

But after reading this 60 Minutes piece, I realized something. Life isn’t just about grinding through goals or a list of activities. And you never know what life is going to throw at you.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t continue to set goals or update your bucket list; I certainly have specific things I want to learn and do in 2011 (which I’ve shared below).

But what I am saying is that setting the goals and updating the lists don’t mean anything if you’re not living the life you want every day. And I’ve come to believe over the past year that “every day” is a crucial part of that sentence. It’s not that we all have to accomplish something prize-worthy on a daily basis. Rather, it’s realizing that what we have is this life, and making it count means making every day count, even if — or maybe, especially if — it’s because of one, small moment.

So instead of making New Year’s resolutions, setting specific goals for myself or seeing my list as the only things I need to do to feel satisfied about 2011, here’s what I’m committing to:

I commit to experiencing appreciating a standout moment, every day.

It hit me when writing the statement that “experiencing” wasn’t enough. The point of this commitment is to:

  • Be attuned to what makes me happy and passionate so I can create those moments
  • Be present enough to see and feel those moments each day
  • Then take them in and be grateful for what they’ve added to my life

These moments could be anything, and they could be good or bad: noticing the beauty of the sun illuminating leaves in the garden; getting the plum jam completely wrong — but then just right; learning something for the first time and allowing the delight and frustration that come along with that.

Of course, as I mentioned above, there are specific things I want to learn and do in 2011. I’m guessing these will provide lots of standout moments for me this year! To keep myself accountable and give you a preview of some of the things you’ll likely read about on this blog, here’s the list. Most are related to homegrown, homemade food, but I’m sharing the others too:

HOMEGROWN / HOMEMADE FOOD STUFF

  • See how much produce I can grow vs. have to buy
  • Learn to butcher a hog
  • Learn to make various Japanese and American pickles to carry on old recipes
  • Learn my grandma’s Indonesian recipes before it’s too late
  • Make my own bacon
  • Make egg nog from scratch
  • Get better at canning
  • Get better at jam-making
  • Become proficient at making homemade cheese
  • Build a small repertoire of holiday sweets that keep various traditions alive
  • Visit two to three organic farms/vineyards/orchards to learn what it takes to run them
  • Practice shooting guns (because one day, I’d like to hunt my own food, at least once)
  • Grow more dahlias to have around the garden and house (okay, this isn’t food, but it’s nice to have the colorful inspiration while one cooks!)

Summer dahlias

TRAVEL

  • See wildlife in the snow in Yellowstone
  • Eat my way through and take another cooking class in Italy
  • Taste locally-made wine or spirits where they’re crafted in a place I’ve never been (e.g., Oregon wine country; bourbon in Kentucky)

CREATIVE & PHYSICAL

  • Improve my photography
  • Be able to easily play at least two fun songs on the piano, anywhere, anytime
  • Rock climb (inside on a climbing wall) at least once, to see if I can manage my fear of heights

What can you do to create standout moments for yourself this year?

············

Click here for the 60 Minutes story on autobiographical memory; it’s quite a piece.

Thanks to David Romanelli for sharing the 60 Minutes piece and helping to inspire this post. You can find out more about David’s yoga and chocolate classes here.

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§ 13 Responses to How To Create Standout Moments in 2011

  • Hi Stephanie, this is the first time I’ve encountered your blog, and I’m so glad I have! I’ve been looking for like minded souls out there in the food blog world. There’s so many thousands of blogs to sift through, and it’s made my day to have finally found yours. I’m looking forward to getting to know you! bye for now, Angela

    • Angela, Thanks for stopping by! How did you find me? It looks like we’re kindred spirits with our blogs…we also love Zuni and her roast chicken, and I always pick a small, pasture-raised chicken from a local farm and salt it for a day or two before roasting it at high heat. Looking forward to keeping in touch!

      • Hi Stephanie,

        I found you, I think, through a blog roll on… Sprouts in the Hood!
        http://sproutsinthehood.blogspot.com/
        Did you know you were there?

        Funny how the world of internet surfing tumbles me around…

        Looking forward to keeping in touch too!

        There really aren’t that many blogs I’ve found that seem genuinely interested in staying ethically alert to themselves, if you know what I mean? If you’ve come across any good ones, I’d love to hear about them.

        til later!

        Angela

  • Love the post and the promise of 2011! What great plans you have for the coming year, I look forward to reading about them on your blog. Of course, you are always welcome to come take a course at Cooking with Giuliano Hazan at Villa Giona <a href= "http://www.giulianohazan.com/school/&quot; in Italy , we do have availability this spring 🙂

  • andrewodom says:

    What a beautiful post. I don’t think I would care for such a memory as some moments in life are painful enough the first time around. And I wonder too if the moments that are so special would lose such intensity if recalled perfectly at any given time.

    Whatever the case, my offer stands. If you ever make it to NC, my wife and I will gladly help you fulfill over half of you HOMEGROWN / HOMEMADE FOOD STUFF list. Oh, and I can teach you a few piano tunes as well (so long as they are by Billy Joel. hahahahah!)

    • Andrew, Thanks for stopping by. Wow…I am bowled over by your generosity. My husband went to school in NC and loves it, so we may just come and visit you! I was trained as a classical pianist, so I’ve JUST begun learning improvisational piano and am playing The Beatles…Billy Joel sounds great too!

      Re: your first point, I’m with you. I think that humans (except those 6 people) have selective memory for the reasons you state. We need to edit our lives in our memories.

  • calmomile says:

    I would like to remember to breathe through everything I do. I think this tension I have running through my body is a direct result of not breathing, and maybe the reason I can’t seem to focus or enjoy! MUST BREATHE! Eee!

  • Kelly says:

    Great post! There are several indoor rock climbing places around PHX. Let me know next time you’re visiting and we can go conquer that fear! :O)

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