On Resolutions.

by Jenn on January 3, 2012

in Photography,Uncategorized

Salzburg, Austria

As a rule, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions were made to be broken, or worse, completely abandoned.  Do you know anyone who has ever actually kept a New Year’s resolution throughout an entire year?   I don’t.  The problem is that in order to carry out a resolution, there needs to be a certain urgent and necessary motivation to sustain it.  Most of us create a resolution at New Year’s because it’s often a time of reflecting on our successes and trials over the past year, and so wanting to become better we say we are going to improve ourselves this year through “x”.  It all seems well and good, but if you really felt a need to alter your life in some form, would you have waited all the way until New Year’s to make that happen?

I think most of us are best at making resolutions when we truly feel most compelled to do so, and that likely isn’t going to fall on a specific calendar day.  Oftentimes they are driven by other circumstances or incidents in our lives, which serve as a wake up to the need for change.  I don’t know about you, but on New Year’s I am often trying more to sleep to recover from the holidays than anything else – sometimes I feel I need a vacation to recover from vacation, and while spending the holidays in Austria was much fun, by the time we came back we were exhausted!  Afterwards, during the transition back into the usual routine of daily life, I still am not able to be introspective enough to think about how I, as a person, have progressed over the past year or that I should change my life.  New Year’s and the holidays are just not a good time for that sort of self-reflection.

Vienna Train Station, Westbahnhof

So instead, I’ve decided it’s far more productive (and realistic) to come up with goals.  Goals have a concrete end.  A plan to get to that end.  Goals are attainable, and progress towards them can be measured.  Rather than resolving to eat better – a very broad, vague, and thus likely unattainable end – I set myself goals.  My goal this year is to learn how to cook root vegetables.  To not be afraid of new ones I haven’t tried (black salsify, anyone?).  To find ways to make them taste great without turning them into soup or drowning them in cheese.  I can track my progress – which root veggies have I tried? what methods have I learned? what dishes did I enjoy? And thus by working on my goal, I may find myself not resorting to pasta so often for dinner (not that there is anything wrong with carbs and grains, but we’ve been a bit excessive with the pastas lately).  A goal is not about avoiding an action, but embracing one.  To say I was going to give up something is also to invite failure.  So rather than say no more pasta, I instead want to learn to appreciate and enjoy something new.  To me, this seems much more doable.

So what are my goals?

1. Explore root vegetables – learn how to cook them and bring out their flavors in tasty ways – parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes, salsify, beets, radishes, daikon, sweet potatoes.  Some I have more experience with than others.  And yes, even the dreaded carrot, I want to conquer.  All my life I’ve only been able to eat carrots raw, despising this terrible aftertaste that appears only once they have been cooked.  And I think that single food aversion, one that has existed ever since I can remember (and I can remember specifically disliking cooked carrots as early as the age of 4), has thwarted much of my root vegetable exploration in my life.

2. Learn how to cook leafy greens – There are other greens in the world besides spinach, and a little variety might help keep spinach from seeming so boring.  My husband detests any leafy salad (mainly from having to eat so many over the years at establishments where few gluten free options were found), so if I find tasty ways to cook greens, we will likely end up incorporating more of them into our diet.  I’d like to find flavorful ways to prepare chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, cabbages, arugula, bok choy, and others that both my husband and I will enjoy.

3. Take fewer photos – this may seem a bit counterintuitive given my love for photography, but it has a purpose.  The more I can think and plan a shot, the fewer clicks of the shutter I need to actually achieve what I envision.  Taking several photos without much consideration to composition, lighting or mood results in several blah images taking up space as well as a feeling of disappointment when I go through them later and am sad to not find anything I loved. So by setting a goal to take less photos, I don’t mean cutting back on my favorite hobby (in fact, it may be on my mind more as I teach myself to better analyze a scene before grabbing the camera), but rather making sure I can see the shot before just clicking and hoping something comes out.  I think this will really help me to improve the quality of my work.

4. Develop a consistent backup system for my photos – my backup process for my images is rather haphazard, and I need to develop a streamlined method – some form of automated backup to an external hard drive as well as an online cloud backup system would be ideal I think.  It means reorganizing my file system, researching systems and services, and spending a little money.   But my computer is only so big and having my images in only one place is not cool.

5. Go for more walks and hikes – Rather than just saying “I need to be in better shape”, I’d like to focus on some activities I enjoy that are also good for me.  I live in a gorgeous area with beautiful scenery, I need to enjoy it more every day.  Walking is exercise, would get me outside more, and I’m sure hiking would also provide some wonderful inspiration for that photography hobby of mine.  I know this is hard to do in the Wintertime when skies are gray and weather is not stellar, but if there is a decent day, I need to take advantage of it.  Even if it’s just a short brisk walk around town (or going to the market or prop shopping), I think it will be good for both my husband and I to do rather than always relying on public transportation methods.

Tourist Self Portrait

So here rings in 2012, resolution free, but filled with goals – measurable, achievable goals.  Wishing you all an exciting year ahead.


Astrid January 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Lovely goals! I like them. Especially the one about root veggies. I love them but basically I always end up making soup with em. Will watch your blog closely for recipes ;o)

Jenn January 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks so much Astrid! Will definitely share and blog when I come across recipes I like – like you, root veggies always seem to turn into soup so I’m excited to find something new :)

Stormy January 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I am of the goal-setting camp, myself, Jenn – somehow, the process of setting a goal and, going so far as to break into action steps and putting certain things on the calendar makes it real. Way more real than hoping. : )

Prepping roots and greens sound like great goals – but, I’m biased. And, I’m right there with you on the photo back up system. I, by lack of following through on a step, succeeded in deleting my entire digital archive this past fall. I feel dumb about it, but at the same time, I feel unleashed…to take better pictures and to recall memories in my mind.

Happy new year and happy walking to you!

Jenn January 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Thanks so much!! Oh I would cry if I deleted everything, so many photos I have yet to print, memories of places that exist only in those images… Glad you’ve been able to turn it into something positive :)

Wendy Kirby January 3, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with #3. I would love to adopt #5 too. I don’t get outside enough. I always feel so refreshed and invigorated when I return from a walk even if it is a short one.

Jenn January 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Wendy! Wish you happy photographing and walking :)

Rosa January 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Great goals! I never bother with resolutions as they are always out of reality and more like dreams…

Wishing you all the best for 2012!



Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

Thanks Rosa! Have a great 2012 too!

Amanda@EasyPeasyOrganic January 4, 2012 at 1:07 am

Love your goals, and wish I was your next door neighbour to take advantage of all those roots and shoots you’re going to cook :). I’m particularly looking forward to hearing how you back up your photos b/c I’m so much the same on that one. Eeek.

Happy New Year!
Amanda xx

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:11 am

Thanks!! It should be a good learning experience this year :)

Priscilla - She's Cookin' January 4, 2012 at 1:44 am

I prefer measurable goals, too and I’m with you on 3, 4, and 5. I think I can help with #2 as I have quite a few kale and chard recipes (my family got tired of spinach years ago), just sayin’ :) Great photo of the two of you – Happy New Year, Jenn!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

Ooh yes will be looking up your recipes for sure! I’ve tried kale a couple of times and haven’t been much of a fan, but I’m not giving up yet – I think I just need to find the right recipes to try :)

Barbara | Creative Culinary January 4, 2012 at 1:44 am

I have managed to maintain one resolution and that was made years ago. To stop with the New Years resolutions. Nothing about them works and you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s not about timing of the calendar; it has to be an introspective thought process that is contemplative and works for each of us individually.

So, I will have another piece of cranberry/date/nut bread with butter and start my contemplating.

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

Ha, a perfect resolution! Have a piece of that wonderful sounding bread for me :)

anh@anhsfoodblog.com January 4, 2012 at 1:49 am

Yes, goals are always better :)
Love your thoughts Jen!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

Thanks Anh!

Laurie January 4, 2012 at 2:10 am

Great goals! I usually set goals for myself but am having a hard time this year for some reason. Looking forward to reading about the root vegetables. I love beets, parsnip and turnip (and yes, even cooked carrots)!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:13 am

Thanks! I will definitely share about my adventures :)

J @ ... semplicemente ... j January 4, 2012 at 4:16 am

I always set resolution, I guess you can call them goals too … I love the fact of a new year … I also start on Monday’s or beginning of month, etc.

My goals include things that I can quantify … last year I did 5 – 6 of my 10 goal list … but I do not beat myself over the ones I was unable to complete.

I love #3 … I feel that I used to take too many shots … my phrase … I can always delete them … I am self taught so it is hard for me to take a perfect shot quickly but I am trying …

Great goals!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

wow congrats on last years achievements! #3 will be hard for me too, but I think it will help – ha i never want to delete anything once it’s on my computer!

Lisa January 4, 2012 at 6:41 am

I totally concur with your stance on resolution making, Jenn. Goals ARE much more realistic and doable. However, I cannot even entertain the idea of less clicks, since I need loads to get ONE ‘decent’ one lol Goal number #1 of 2012, start looking for a new place with lots of natural light LOL

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

Thanks Lisa… good luck finding your photo spot!

Jamie January 4, 2012 at 6:49 am

Happy New Year, Jenn! Yes, goals are a must, we all need them every day. I have been setting goals for myself but it is still hard for me to keep myself on the schedule towards those goals. I need a resolution or two towards achieving my goals!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

Thanks Jamie – ha, good luck!

Lauren January 4, 2012 at 7:04 am

Happy New Year, Jenn! These are great goals (and I’m so with you on them!). Especially number 5. I’d love to go for a walk or hike with you and Ryan!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

Thanks Lauren! And yes, would be wonderful to do a hike together! So many lovely places to see too :)

jas January 4, 2012 at 8:25 am

I agree, goals are the way to go. Somewhere to head to, rather than something to break! Root veggies are so handy, yes they often end up in soups, but they’re delish in risottos and I love them all roasted together and served on a big bed of leafy greens as a warm salad with a bit of marinated feta thrown through for that gorgeous tangy creaminess. Good luck and I can’t wait to see the fruit or should that be root veggies of your labour!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

Thanks Jas! Oooh I will def. try your ideas, they sound great!

amber January 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I’m with you on the whole goals instead of resolutions thing. I started putting them into practice in December because I got so excited about them. Now, I just need to keep up the pass for a little bit longer.

As for using root vegetables, I adore them. They are wonderful. Especially carrots. when using them, I’ve found that peeling them and using fresh carrots reduces the bitterness. (if you can tie it in a bow don’t eat it.) I’d also recommend using whole carrots instead of “baby”. If you have a vegetable peeler and a chef’s knife(even an inexpensive one. so long as it’s sharp and doesn’t bend.) then it’s easy to make rounds for soup, sautéing, and roasting.

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Thanks for the tips, will keep them in mind when I go to try some roasted carrots!

Christine January 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Good luck with your goals, Jenn! When you figure out how to cook root vegetables nicely, I hope you share as I really don’t know how to cook most of them without being really gross!

I also really need to try taking less photos and think more about shots before pressing the shutter. Sometimes it’s hard – especially because when you’re learning digital photography, many people give you the advice to “take as many pictures as possible” in hopes that one or two of them with turn out.

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Thanks so much Christine! And yes, taking fewer photos is very hard, and often not that advice people give. But now that I think I have a handle on getting my focus and settings/exposure how I want them, I really think it’s my next step.

Caneel January 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Love this post, Jenn! Good luck with your goals this year (which are all great, by the way!) and Happy New Year!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm

Thanks so much Caneel, Happy New Year to you as well!

Mrs D January 4, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Great blog post. It’s good to see such achievable goals for the year ahead. I am definitely in agreement with #2, I’ve also stopped at spinach. Also many thanks for introducing me to a new food word, ‘rutabaga’. I’ve never heard this before but now know it’s a swede.

All the best for 2012!

Jenn January 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Thank you! Ha I’ve never heard it called a swede before :)

David @ Frenchie and the Yankee January 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

Happy New Year!!! Today a friend said “It seems to me that if we spent more time implementing what is good for us (mentally, physically and financially) we would not need to set New Years Resolutions!”

Jenn January 5, 2012 at 8:12 am

Thanks David! And yes you are very right!

Maris (In Good Taste January 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

These are great goals for the New Year! Your photos are stunning!

Jenn January 6, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Thanks Maris!

Jonathan January 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

And you said that I had a ‘perfect’ resolution. :) These goals sound wonderful, Jenn, and I’m so looking forward to hearing how they benefit and enrich your life in the new year. Happy 2012!

Jenn January 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

Thanks Jonathan! Happy 2012!

Jeanne @ CookSister! January 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Fabulous goals, one and all (and a couple I need to adopt too!!). I run an auto backup once a week to an external hard drive and a few months ago I bought something like 150G on IDrive and now run a regular cloud backup to that too. To me, with photos, the question is not whether you are paranoid – it’s whether you are paranoid enough!! I need to get a handle on clearing my memory cards – I do that piecemeal when I absolutely have to (i.e. they are full!) so my laptop is littered with folders called “memory card dump” and a date. Sometimes it takes me DAYS to find things…. sigh.

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