I drove our car to work today.

This is a big deal. I’ll explain: When I left my old job and consequently gave up my fantastic little work car, we bought a car of our own. A giant behemoth of a thing, it’s a Subaru Forrester. Great for camping, off-roading, beaches, and holding lots of gear.

The only thing is, it’s a manual.

I’ve never driven a manual car. It was never an intentional thing, we just didn’t own manuals growing up and I never had cause to learn. But Peter found this car, it was in our price range, and it checked all the boxes except the manual/automatic box. It’ll be fine, I said. I have lots of friends who drive manuals, I said. How hard can it be?


                                            One way to move a tent

Fast forward nearly six months and I’m just now getting around to making tiny trips to work. Oops. It’s been a combination of fear/busy schedule/being terrified/living in a hilly area/excuses. I enjoy biking to work and don’t mind taking the bus and am lucky enough to have a husband who will do the pick-up drop-off routine when needed.

But it was just getting ridiculous already. Peter has given me several lessons, with varying degrees of patience, and I’d grasped the basic idea. About two weeks ago I ended up driving home from a weekend in Byron Bay and finally grasped the proverbial bull by the horns, or gear shift by the gear shift, shall we say.

I’m now attempting tiny little trips around town and so far haven’t stalled, except when parking in our little garage. Figures. I am still absolutely terrified. Turning into oncoming traffic, reversing and hill starts are all cause for my heart to increase to aerobic levels. I’ll get there, though.

This brings me to my thoughts about 2014 and new challenges. One of my goals/resolutions was to learn to drive this damn car already. I’m thinking fourteen in ‘14 is a good project to start right about now. I don’t have fourteen yet, but  given my penchant for lists, I’ll get there.

So here, about six weeks after everyone else listed theirs, are my goals for the year:

  • Learn to drive a manual without breaking into a cold sweat every time I stop at a light.
  • Complete an olympic-distance triathlon. I was hoping to do one in May, but due to gig conflicts will probably aim for one in November, making this less of a death wish and more of an achievable, healthy goal.
  • Go a week or more without eating sugar, within reason, ie give up all types of sugar I can realistically avoid like high fructose corn syrup (which is used far less here), dessert, etc. Sugar in things like bread is harder to cut out. Yikes. For some reason this is scary.
  • Practice minimalism and not purchase any new clothes for an extended period of time. Three months? Six months? ONE YEAR?  This is definitely scarier than the sugar thing. I’m actually terrified to type it. Caveat: Second-hand, thrift-store and artisan items like handmade things from markets are okay.
  • Complete the Six Items or Less challenge. Anyone with me on this one?
  • Bike more. Once I master the car thing and this summer heat wave passes, I’ll go back to biking to work and aim to implement it as a way to run errands.
  • Use less water.
  • Wear more black. I have no fewer than six little black dresses, a monstrous extravagance in my wardrobe, an obvious result of being a musician. Black is good, though. Black matches black and pretty much everything else. Except navy.

Heeeeeere we go!


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  1. This is a great list! I think about several of these daily – mostly the sugar thing, buying less and using less water. Just curious – what is your current job? Glad you are learning the stick! I learned in a Ford Maverick, 3 speed on the column, while working as a camp counselor in Wisconsin. My friend made a sign for the back of the car “New Stick Driver”, but replaced the word with a real stick! Enjoy!

    • Thanks, Denise! I’m currently the Marketing Officer for the Queensland Youth Orchestras. Full-time gig that leaves me flexibility to teach and gig on the side, it’s really good. Your sign story is great! When drivers are learning here, they start with “L-plates” (learner’s), move to P (permit) and graduate to full-fledged. Since my unrestricted US license transferred over, I have no signs to warn my poor road companions. Yikes…

  2. Dumb, HOW FUNNY we have the SAME goals!!!!!!!

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