Wednesday, May 11, 2016

In praise of the schedule

I’ve been quiet here through most of May, and I just realized it’s because of my new little habit of writing up a daily schedule. Nothing like mapping out a plan for each day to make you realize how little time you actually have! No time for trivialities like blogging! (I’m writing this at the end of a block of time vaguely labeled “Work,” which I realize is stretching the definition quite a bit.)

Scheduling is an interesting habit, though, because it’s making me really deliberate about what activities I choose for myself. And when I’m supposed to work (usually), I work, because I know there’s a limited amount of time allocated for it. It’s helpful this month that I have an enormous project from one client (can’t remember what I named them, maybe Bashful) with no real deadline. So I always have something to do during my work time—and if something else pops up, I do that instead.

I’m also learning to make sure that I don’t get too optimistic about how much I can accomplish in one day—or how long I can focus on work in one stretch. That means I have lots of breaks built in for things like yoga, walking, meals, and reading, and therefore I always have something to look forward to. It feels kind of awesomely decadent to hit something on the schedule like “Go outside and read in the sun.”

Unfortunately, I have one client (Sneezy) with the habit of occasionally blowing up my whole schedule by sending me urgent work at random times, but that’s OK. It’s not written in stone, and if I can’t stay on schedule, I can at least use the thing as a to-do list.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The angel and devil on my shoulders

We had to go to a swim-team-related banquet last night, and even though it would have been relatively easy to stay close to the AltShift plan, I made some poor choices regarding sugar. It started when I accepted some lemonade (I was starving, dinner was still 45 minutes away, and I reasoned that it had life-sustaining calories) and ended with…oh, just trust me when I say it ended badly. I had not had that much sugar in quite a while, and I felt pretty awful a couple of hours later and even more awful the next day (i.e., now).

It’s not really such a mystery to me why I might do this, but here’s my question: How can I learn to associate this awful feeling with sugar so that it no longer appeals to me? How do I burn this into my brain so I can stop using willpower to stay away from the stuff?

It occurs to me that I have the reverse problem, too, in that going for a walk and doing yoga both leave me feeling utterly fantastic, and yet sometimes—often—I have to force myself to do them. I have literally never regretted deciding to do yoga, and yet it’s still not half as appealing as a cookie.

I sort of feel like the whole point of meditation is to help you make these angel-on-your-shoulder choices; maybe I need to up my game.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for May

I haven’t had a dud resolution all year, so I really hope I don’t end up regretting this impulsive “30-second flexed arm hang” thing. Here is the full May plan:
  • Goal: Memorize Psalm 46. An exciting foray into the Old Testament!
  • Rule: Start every day with a plan. Short story: There was one day in April when I had about 12 things I needed to do, I had no idea what to even start with, and I could tell that I was heading for paralysis. So I asked M.H. if he would make a schedule for me, and I agreed to stick to whatever he said I had to do. I wrote down all my tasks with time estimates, and he gave it some thought and came up with a nifty little plan with breaks built in. Then he made his own schedule with the same breaks. It worked like a charm for both of us, and since then we’ve been tackling our toughest days by making coordinating schedules. I don’t need to go to those lengths every day, but I think it would be interesting to see what happens if I at least set some intentions every morning for how I want the day to go.
  • Exercise: 30-second flexed arm hang. I find it ridiculous that I’m still not strong enough to even hang from a bar, let alone do a pull-up. I think a 30-second flexed arm hang should be achievable if I focus on it for a month. (I also plan to keep up with yoga and walking and lifting weights, but not everything can be a resolution.)
  • Affirmation: “Fix your gaze directly before you.” Those clunky “I take care of myself” meditations weren’t working for me, so instead I’m going to try some prettier words of wisdom from Proverbs.
  • Task: Digital decluttering. Specifically, I want to delete useless photos from my computer and phone, delete useless passwords from my password organizer program, and clean up my work files. If I get on a roll, maybe I’ll add keywords to photos or something, but that sounds scarily ambitious. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

GREAT report card for April

Here’s how my resolutions for April went:
  • Goal: Keep flowers on the table. This was an easy one, and it worked out just as I hoped. A month of increased loveliness, total cost less than $15. A 
  • Rule: Do some yard work for 15 minutes every day. I skipped this when the weather was dreadful, but I did 25 minutes most other days, and the yard is awesome and virtually weedless. (Except for the mint, which is pretty much unstoppable.) A
  • Exercise: Walking/cleaning/yoga. Yoga rules, and I wish the weather had been better so there could have been more walking, because cleaning isn’t nearly as enjoyable. A
  • Affirmation: I take great care of myself and my family. I took a normal amount of care myself and of my family, but mostly I forgot this affirmation existed at all. I need something catchier. D
  • Task: Get the ring appraised. I texted my sister the results of this yesterday, and she texted back “Just under the wire.” Yep! A
GPA: 3.4

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In praise of YouTube yoga

I thought I was making a moderately large sacrifice when I switched from amazing-human-instructor yoga to YouTube-in-the-dining-room yoga, but I’m not so sure. Now that I have the benefit of several years of amazing-human-instructor yoga experience under my belt and know what to do, there is almost no downside to YouTube-in-the-dining-room yoga. In fact, here’s the complete list of the advantages of each:

YouTube-in-the-dining-room advantages:
  • Free
  • Get to choose my class every day
  • Can be done on any schedule
  • Can be done for any length of time
  • Can be paused at will
  • Can be done wearing anything I want
  • Impossible to forget my ponytail holder
  • No peer pressure to do or not do anything
  • No driving
  • Always get my “spot”
  • Can meditate immediately afterward for as long as I want
  • Can make tea right before starting so it’s ready as soon as I’m done
  • Natural light and proximity of pretty flowers
Amazing-human-instructor advantages:
  • Get to chat with amazing human instructor
  • Opportunity to ask questions about poses if needed
  • Don’t have to watch a 15-second ad
  • Don’t have to worry about UPS coming to the door
  • Other very nice people to talk to
I was kind of afraid that the awesome yoga high I got after class was from chatting with all the very nice people, but I see now that that’s mostly just the yoga itself. I may still go back to class one day to visit, but DANG this other thing is working out well.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The urge to purge

I got the sequel to Marie Kondo’s book from the library and am having a delightful time reading it—though just a bit at a time, because I am still very, very busy and have a child to put through college in four minutes. If you haven’t read one of her books, I recommend them, for three reasons:
  • Her view of tidying as her sacred calling is sweet and unintentionally hilarious.
  • Her personification of inanimate objects is sweet and unintentionally hilarious.
  • Her method works really well.
It’s not that I actually believe that my possessions enjoy being used and treasured or that my kids’ old toys are sad because they’ve not been played with for a while or whatever. It’s that choosing to act as if you believe those things makes a real difference.

I kind of equate it to some of the sillier things that are said in yoga. If I’m in Warrior II and someone tells me to shoot energy out my fingertips, well, it turns out I can get more out of the pose if I shoot energy out of my darned fingertips. I don’t think there’s actual energy shooting out my fingertips. It’s just that it’s a sort of beneficial shorthand to pretend there is.

Anyway, I expect a renewed energy to purge the aforementioned toys is on its way to my house.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Worth it

Just another post because I’m procrastinating from the horrible work I’ve been doing for a week and a half. I know I should be reminding myself that I really do love working from home—and oh by the way I have a child to put through college starting in about five minutes—but instead let’s admire my dining room table:


Lovely, right? This is a $5 bouquet from the grocery store, still going strong after 11 days.

Just behind the closest chair there is my new yoga studio—in other words the spot in the house I’ve chosen to do my YouTube class every day. It’s in full view of anyone who comes up to the front door, so I am always hoping no one chooses that moment to drop by unexpectedly. (Of course, every other minute of the day I would be fine with unexpected visitors, just because I want them to be impressed by my purty flowers.)