2014 List


I had my quarterly check-up yesterday for my ongoing health condition and my thyroid hormone numbers are stubbornly stuck at around the same level: almost normal, but not quite. In fact, it was a smidgen worse (holiday stress will do that to me), and I’ve been evaluating ways to nudge my body into full remission. The last year and a half proved to me that lifestyle changes can have enormously positive effects, but clearly, I’m still falling a little short. Perhaps my love of sugary, fatty foods will have to finally be addressed. No amount of green juice can cancel out the astonishing gluttony of sugar plums and gingerbread cookies I chowed down this holiday season.

And as it so often happens, a conversation with a Trader Joe’s cashier motivated me to take things up a notch. Yesterday, right after my appointment, I stopped off at my local TJs for a much-needed grocery run. This lovely gentleman who rang up my overloaded cart enthusiastically talked about all the new things he wants to try for 2014. I guesstimated his age to be somewhere in the early to mid sixties, and I found his energy contagious. “Yoga!” he ticked off one finger. “Me too!” I responded.

“Raw foods!” Another ticked finger. I countered with “That’s great! I want to make more vegetarian dishes and need to learn how to make braces-friendly healthy food!” (K is going to get braces in the next few weeks – she already has spacer rubber bands on her teeth and I’m saddened that she’ll have metal in her mouth for the next five years….she needs a lot of orthodontic work. I’ve never had braces so this is all new for me.)

“Web design!” he finished with a flourish. “Uh…” I didn’t have the gumption to talk about this here blog so I mumbled something about illustrations.

Anyway, the point is that we were kindred spirits in terms of new year’s goals. Physical fitness, stress-reduction, nutrition, creative outlet.


I’m still not making resolutions, but I’ve found that what helps me get going is being specific enough to give me structure but vague enough to let me experiment/play around. Instead of merely thinking, “I want to get better at sewing,” I set a goal to make something for K every week. I also mostly used Japanese sewing books because something about deciphering the illustrations works with the way I learn. Occasionally all or nothing goals are fun to do too, but too many of them drive me bananas and failure is pretty much guaranteed.

I want to continue improving my sewing skills, and I also want to incorporate other regular activities that will improve my health and well-being. My focus is full remission by the end of the year and how crazy lucky am I to have this chance to test out lifestyle enhancements, measured and tracked by regular blood test results? Yes, how I feel is the biggest indicator, but there’s a deep satisfaction in seeing data supporting my efforts. I’m going to home in on de-stressing activities, fitness, healthy cooking, creative challenges and bringing joy into relationships. So here’s my 2014 list of 14 things to do (or not do, in some cases):

ONCE A WEEK, I will…

1. do yoga. I’ve been wanting to take up yoga again — I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a resistance to it, and I blame my incessant brain chatter for it. There’s a class at my gym but the times are odd, so I may need to look into DVDs…

2. try a new soup or vegetarian recipe. Incidentally, when I mentioned K’s braces to the cashier, the young guy bagging my groceries chimed in quietly with “chili” – he said it was his favorite dish to eat when he wore braces. I was a little skeptical and asked about the little chunks of meat getting stuck, but he assured me it would be awesome. Perhaps I’ll try a few vegetarian chili recipes

3. work on crossing off at least one item from my tolerations list

4. have device-free family time. We are a completely plugged-in family. I want to increase pastimes that involve no laptops, no iphones, no ipads, nothin’ that requires a charger.

5. sew something that will teach me a new technique

6. have date night. M and I constantly cancel or reschedule because of exhaustion, work, etc.

7. meet up with at least one friend


EVERY DAY, I will…

8. move my body for at least 30 minutes. The gym, a walk around the neighborhood, vigorous cleaning – the net is wide.

9. track my spending. I’ve never succeeded at this; I have high hopes for this year though and imagine that it might add stress in the beginning but will help me de-stress in the long run by giving me a sense of financial control.

10. drink at least four glasses of water in addition to my green juice. Hate hate hate to drink water

11. do something creative for at least 30 minutes. Draw or sketch one page, take photos, try a new craft like calligraphy.

12. go to bed before 1am. Sometimes I don’t get to bed until 3am…



13. buy any clothes for myself or K. It ended up being so rewarding not buying clothes for so many reasons last year, I want to keep going.

14. buy any books. I have plenty on my bookshelves that I haven’t read yet, and there’s always the library.

Notice that I failed to mention not buying fabric — I’m going to abstain until my stash is manageable, but I have a feeling it won’t take a whole year. I know that my list isn’t exciting and it’s meant solely for me to feel accountable, but cumulatively, I think these actions will establish habits for a happier, healthier me. Am I being too ambitious? Maybe. But that’s never stopped me before…there’s a sketch I made back when I first started to work on reversing my “disease” almost a year and a half ago, and it will always be relevant for me. Ready, get set, go:



31 thoughts on “2014 List

  1. Wow, you’re so superambitious, Sanae! My own, entire list of 2014 plan reads: (1) lose the last 4 pregnancy pounds.
    And then I still feel that you’ll have a better chance of meeting your resolutions than I have of meeting mine! 😉
    Happy New Year!

    1. Happy New Year, An! You only have four pounds to go?? Man, I’m still carrying at least 10 extra pounds and I had K almost 8 years ago (okay, so maybe they’re not technically pregnancy pounds…)

  2. try spicy parsnip soup:
    3-4 parsnips peeled and chopped
    1 cooking apple
    1 potato
    1 onion
    1/2 – 1 teaspoon garam masala
    2 pints of veg or chicken stock

    brown off onion with a little oil in pan and then add garam masala stir for about 1 minute.
    add veg and stir it all through then pour on the stock and bring to boil. allow to simmer until veg is soft. then blitz the lot in the blender and eat.

    1. This sounds delicious! Thank you Sarah! And what a happy coincidence that I just got parsnips yesterday (I was thinking of roasting them) and I happen to have all the ingredients on hand. I’m making this tomorrow for sure!

  3. Hi Sanae,
    I am new at discovering your blog. It is so nice and welcoming here. Those graphics you have just here on this page are killer. How do you do that??? Are those watercolour that you scan or is it all done by computer. Beautiful.

    I love your list. I wasn’t planning on making a list but you are having me rethink that. I share a lot of your resolutions: moving more, eating vegetarian (I am already vegetarian but I would like to discover more recipes instead of the typical go-tos that I have), new technique sewing, buying no/less clothes, going easy on fabric purchases… hey, I guess I do have a list afterall!


    1. Hi Natalie! You have a beautiful blog! I just realized we’re both doing Heidi’s sewalong – so fun 🙂 I draw or paint all the graphics/illustrations by hand and scan them in. I then usually add text in Photoshop, but sometimes I’ll do handlettering too. Thank you for the compliment!

  4. Hi Sanae,
    i just want to share a few thoughts on this and hope you don’t mind…

    Yoga: i recently began my yoga again after one or two years of abbsence. I startet with ‘Trudi Stylers Weight loss yoga” ( bought the two half hour lessons on itunes first) and love those. The speaker makes me feel calm and relaxed, the yoga itself is powerful but not fast and the best: my back doesn’t hurt anymore!

    Drinking Water:My husband has kidney problems for years that lead him to drink a lot lately. He hates drinking water to but while we were in dutch for vacation last year he tried an english tea (Twinnings Earl Grey) that he really loved so he drinks two cups of this tea a day and one glass of water (in addition of coffee and some oj). Maybe you find a calorie-free substitute for the water that you like better

    Resolutions: i love you resolution list (especially the ones about less distraction) and looking forward to hear abou your goals, and wins and struggles throughout the year!

    Best wishes

    1. Fantastic, Marit! I’ve downloaded the itunes versions and can’t wait to try them out. I love tea too and Earl Grey is my favorite, so I do try to drink that as well. Thank you for the suggestions – so helpful!!

  5. Ambitious list! Good luck. Hope that gets the thyroid in a happier place.

    I LOVE the Yoga Studio app. Not free (but very cheap), and as good as any class that I’ve taken (I’m a beginner, maybe advanced beginner). http://yogastudioapp.com/ Many options (classes are 15, 30, or 60 min), the teacher is “very bendy,” as my 3-year-old observed, and so very inspirational, and you really can find time to fit it in.

    1. Thanks so much, June – I immediately got the app!! Between this one and Marit’s suggestion, I won’t have to worry about not making it to my gym’s yoga class 🙂 I’m psyched!!

  6. What wonderful goals! Exercise and a healthy diet are sure to lift your spirits and improve health issues. I was vegetarian for many years and even worked as a vegetarian chef at a restaurant for a long stint. Although I do eat some meat now I gravitate to the lightness and healthy flavors of vegetarian cooking. The library is sure to have many inspiring cookbooks- some of my favorites for soups and easy fare are the Moosewood Restaurant books- the one called Daily Special focuses on stews, soups and salads. Also, check Alice Hart and Alice Thomas for a more modern, international approach. The Greens restaurant cookbooks are awesome and work well for what’s available seasonally on the West coast, as well as Heidi Swanson’s books and blog 101 Cookbooks. Oh, what fun!

    1. I love all your recommendations!! Thanks Gita – will definitely check them out. I already adore 101 Cookbooks, and need to unearth my copy of the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. The other ones you mention are new to me, and I can’t wait to find out more!

  7. Hi Sanae,

    Good luck with your goals for 2014! I’m sure you’ll achieve the most you can.

    Also just wanted to say that I loved seeing your sewing round ups for 2013.
    You’re an inspiration to me in so many areas!

    Thank you!

    1. Thank YOU for your sweet comment, Sophie! It makes me so happy to know that my endlessly wordy blog posts might be helpful in some way 🙂

  8. I love your list, Sanae. In fact, it inspired me to sit down with my new half-year planning book (using this is another goal of mine) and devote a couple of pages to get my spending habits under control. Because I have such a weakness for books, fabric, and yarn, I have the following rules for the year:

    1. Have no more than $100 invested in new craft supplies at any given time. Finished projects mean I get the money invested back. 🙂 This will keep me motivated to finish projects, use what I have already, and get my spending under control.

    2. Spend no more than $100 on books through June.

    Good luck with your new goals! Can’t wait to hear how things go. It’s so awesome you’ve managed to get your thyroid hormone levels so close to normal- I hope you can push them back down to normal. Happy new year!

    1. Such a good idea to put specific limits on spending! That way you won’t feel totally restricted – I totally hear you on the weakness for books and fabric. I also love craft supplies of all types. Let’s cheer each other on — Happy New Year, Robin!

  9. Whoa an epic list and a goody. I know I went off sugar a few years ago and never felt better, and I know it can address quite a few different health concerns. Maybe it will have a positive affect on thyroid health. After a few weeks I didn’t even miss it! Also, I am so looking forward to following along with yours and k’s sewing. I find myself pinning k’s stuff quite regularly to my ‘girl sewing’ board!

    1. Yes!! Sugar! I recently had a conversation with a friend who eliminated sugar from his diet and extolled the virtues of the sugar-free life. It sounds like a nightmare to me being the sugar addict that I am, but I’m working my way up to dramatically reducing the stuff. Thanks for the inspiration, Sophie!

  10. How is it that you frequently have such great Trader Joe conversations? Is it the interesting people they hire, or do you just bring out the best qualities in people? (I’m sure it’s the latter:). Braces were not a big deal for either my son or daughter – I would agree that chili should not be a problem at all:)
    Sorry to hear that you weren’t thrilled with your thyroid numbers, though I’m still so happy you are able to control it so well with lifestyle and diet. I hope these next months will show improvement in the numbers and you will continue to feel encouraged by the results you see.
    Love you lists! I’m always impressed by your introspection and am inspired to some of the same. My husband always says I need to be more of a goal-setter. I like the list you made and the “do-ability” of it. Some things for me to ponder . . . thanks for sharing yours Sanae!

    1. Ha, I don’t think I do anything to draw out conversations with cashiers and the like, but I do seem to end up having a lot of discussions with service industry folks. There’s also that weird thing that happens where I get free food all the time — who knows?? I’m determined to beat this thyroid thing — 2014 is the year!!

      Oh, and I’m so glad braces were no big deal for your kids. K has an amazing orthodontist and has already made her comfortable with everything (we just got brackets today and her braces go in next week) so I feel better 🙂

  11. Water drinking tip: Drink water from a straw. You will drink more faster that way, and if you swallow fast you don’t have to taste it. :o). I am pretty sure that was how I started drinking water and now it is all I drink. I had a funny straw with big lips on it that made me laugh…

  12. Great & ambitious list! I can join on a few things, only I’m not sure how to tackle my resolutions. On the one hand I function way better and more active when putting challenges and tasks for myself, on the other hand this way of working does create stress, which is not healthy and not fun. So I’m not sure yet, but I’m definately trying the “not buying clothes and books” thing already, I’m slowly cleaning out the attic as well, doing away with loads of books and clothes… And I re-organised my fabric stash (well, almost done that is), I’ll try to work my way through this year!

    1. You’re so right about these types of lists potentially creating stress, Nienke! I guess I don’t consider them to be rigid rules and more like guidelines. I’m sure I will slip up often, but it’s helpful for me to have a list written out to reference 🙂 So awesome that you re-organized your fabric!! Mine always becomes a mishmashed mess and that’s on my list too 🙂

  13. Love this list of goals, Sanae! I keep meaning to write mine down and keep accountable this year. You’ve inspired me to get busy. First goal…set my goals! HA! 🙂

  14. I made an unexpected resolution this year after watching a documentary. Look into the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, if you have not heard of it before. There is a lecture by him on youtube. It may help with your thyroid condition. I have given up dairy and reduced my meat intake since Jan 1 and have lost a kilo in 2 weeks without even trying! I am going to be 35 at the end of february and have a number of aunts and uncles with cancer, so this is the year I am going to take action with regard to my health. Good luck with your resolutions. Alison

    1. So timely, Alison! I actually have The China Study ebook checked out from the library and I’ve been reading it these last few days. I didn’t know there was a documentary though, so I’ll definitely watch it thanks for the info! I’ve been noticing that I’m becoming more lactose intolerant as I grow older, and I might experiment with cutting it out…but oh, cheese! Lattes! Ice cream!! Sigh….

      1. The book is facinating. I am a zoologist by training and it turned alot of what I thought to be true on its head. The documentary I watched was vegucated on netflixs and not a documentary on the China Study (However, I watched a lecture by the author on youtube). I had never really thought about many farming practices and I was really shocked. Our farming system is not as industrialized as that in the U.S. (Im from Ireland) but there are still a lot of very dodgy practices here too. So at the moment I have decided to give up dairy and to only eat our own eggs (we have 4 hens) and venison as at least the deer have a nice life in the hills and need to be culled here for environmental reasons anyway. I miss cheese but I am finding almond milk a great substitute so far for milk. Alison

  15. Just found your blog via pinterest and a dress you made for your daughter, love your clothing style And your blog .Your New Years resolution list is almost exactly the same to mine , very inspired by your not buying but making clothes , would love to do the same but yet to commit to it!

    1. So glad you’ve found my little blog, Lisa! Ah…my list. It’s mostly inspiring and sometimes guilt-inducing but so far, I’m doing pretty well with it! 🙂 The part about not buying clothes has really become easy now that I’ve been doing it for almost two years!

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