Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A habit of gratitude

I woke up feeling incredibly stressed about work, so I decided that a good, easy, calming habit to work on for April would be the habit of gratitude. At least gratitude is supposed to be calming. So I hear. I’ve always been a fairly grateful (and, until recently, calm) person in general, so I’ve never gone so far as to write in a gratitude journal or make it a deliberate practice or anything like that. I don’t know if I would even go that far now—I guess what I’m going for is just to remind myself throughout the day to stop and be grateful for the good things in life. And maybe blog or Instagram about them once in a while.

Anyway, in my absolute-ball-of-anxiety state this morning, I tried to calm down and think of some things I was grateful for.
  • ATTEMPT ONE, PARAPHRASED: “I’m really grateful that Horrible Thing A that I always worry about has not happened. Yet. No, wait. I’m grateful that Horrible Thing B has never happened to me. Oh, those poor people who it has happened to. It could still happen at any time. No, wait…”
  • ATTEMPT TWO, PARAPHRASED: “I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!”
So that was a bad start. But this evening, as I was looking out the window at the FREEZING RAIN falling on the walk I had planned, my mom happened to call from the car on her way to the mall, where she has been walking with my sister several nights a week. And I was right in time for her to pick me up and let me join them, which was really, really nice and exactly what I needed. So I am grateful for that.

It is amusing me to no end right now that Entry One in the gratitude register is mall walking.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April storm

It’s a new month, so it’s time for an ambitious new habit, preferably something that takes advantage of the spring weather, like…[looks out window]…staying inside in a comfy chair with slippers and coffee!

Here’s a reminder of the habits I’m already trying to keep:
  • January: Eat more vegetables (doing fine on that)
  • February: Take shorter, cooler showers (I will recommit when the weather warms up)
  • March: Start every day at the standing desk (I wouldn’t call it a habit yet)

The very good news for April is that I negotiated fewer hours with the company that is keeping me over-the-top busy, starting next week. That is just in time to help me meet a major deadline for a different client, but hopefully by May the work crisis will be substantially over. One can hope.

At any rate I think I’m going to need an April habit that’s either very easy or very helpful to getting lots of work done. Gotta give it some more thought.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Work spiral

It was a frustrating day because I spent a million hours working but got very little of what I needed to do accomplished. On one hand, I get paid by the hour, so whatever. But on the other hand, all I want right now is to get caught up so that I can work on some personal projects that desperately need attention—like M.H.’s new book—and maybe have some sort of life again. I’ve been continuing to take Saturdays off, but it seems I’m so shell-shocked by the end of every week that all I’ve been managing to do with them is lie around reading, playing around on the internet, and doing crossword puzzles. I think about painting all the time but don’t have the energy to make a decision about what to paint, let alone to get everything out and actually do it.

Reading over the above paragraph, I feel like I’m describing a rather severe problem, but solving it would definitely require getting rid of one or more clients, and I’m not willing to do that. I feel fairly certain that everything will quiet down eventually—my work has always been feast or famine—but it certainly hasn’t happened yet in 2018.

One plus side is that at least my busy period has been while the weather is still lousy. If this is still happening in May, it’s going to be a real problem.

P.S. I feel like I should resolve the burning mystery that I left hanging. So…I was literally picking up the phone to finally call customer service about my locked account when I realized that I wasn’t the one who set up the account at all—it was M.H. And he had his “favorite hobby” recorded in a super-organized spreadsheet. Problem solved! (Hooray, I am not going insane!)


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Feels like spring

I may be pushing the outdoor yoga season a bit, as there is still some snow on the back patio, but OUTDOOOOOOOR YOOOOOOGA. Even though it wasn’t quite 50 degrees out, the sun felt wonderful, and now that I’ve had a taste, I’ll be back out there every possible day. (The ability to do this is one of the bigger payoffs of having developed a solo home practice; highly recommend.)

The fact that it’s spring-ish means it’s almost time to decide whether I want to swim with Mik’s team again this summer, and I’m torn. There are some huge downsides (getting up really early, nearly freezing to death) but also some huge upsides (bonding with Mik, free swimming opportunity). Last summer I was glad I had done it, so I guess there’s my answer, except did I mention nearly freezing to death?

Hmm, but also I’ve developed an ability to run a tiny distance since last summer—might be fun to run part of the way home this summer. I think that means I want to do it.

Monday, March 12, 2018

When your favorite hobby is change

One of my online accounts has locked me out, and the security question—of all things—is “What is your favorite hobby?” I don’t know exactly how old the account is, but honestly I find it hard to imagine that I would have ever set that as a security question. Was there a time when I had a “favorite hobby” for more than a month or two? (I know I stuck to triathlon-related interests a lot longer than that, but I have already tried “triathlon,” “running,” “biking,” and “swimming” as answers.)

I mean, I have an entire blog basically dedicated to talking about whatever random thing is interesting me at that moment, and my “hobbies” change so quickly that I don’t even always get around to writing about them before I’m done with then. That or they get incorporated into my life to the point where I no longer find them interesting enough to write about. Here are some of the things I haven’t said a word about here, despite minor obsessions, just since January: my essential oils diffuser, my vibration platform, the Mortified podcast, short morning runs, color knitting patterns, and several new herbal supplements. And that is during a period of time when I was working 11- or 12-hour days six days a week.

I know I need to just call the customer service line and get the account sorted out, but honestly a hatred of calling customer service lines is one of my few true norths.

Monday, March 5, 2018

I won't be offended if you laugh at my art

I’m writing this post from my standing work station, because the Official March Habit o’ the Month is to start each workday standing rather than sitting. Even if I then plop into my chair and sit the rest of the day, it would be a great habit to get into. With the long days I’ve been having, any time out of the chair is a plus.

Speaking of long days, I took Saturday off even though it meant a TREMENDOUS amount of work on Sunday. (I think I’ve reduced my backlog for the coming week to a human-manageable amount, though. My goal is to see that backlog go steadily down now instead of up, which would be a great feeling.)

But the point I’m coming around to is, on Saturday I actually tried to create something fun, just for myself. So I’m sure you already see it down there (lurking), but let me preface it anyway by saying that I recently checked out a library book about portraits that I found incredibly inspiring, and so I decided against all reason that a slightly abstract portrait of an old photo of Mik could be achieved without any training or practice, and that even if the results were hilariously bad, it would still be Interesting Art.

In some ways this is better than I expected (you can tell who it is, for example), but that just makes the hilarious badness shine through in ways I was not expecting at all. Somehow I made him look…sinister? And the whole thing has the gray-green pallor of disease and death? It honestly cracks me up.


I am memorializing this painting here because I think I might keep working on this canvas with some brighter colors. (P.S. to family members: Mik must never see this version.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The crush

Every morning M.H. asks me what my schedule is for the day, and every day I reply, “I need to work until I die.”

The crushing workload has not let up for one second in all of 2018, and the backlog is getting worse instead of better. A bit of this is my fault for not strategically saying no to things (though I have said no to some things), but the rest of it is sort of the price of being a freelancer. If six of your valued clients need you to work that week—well, you work for six clients that week, unless you want some of them to fire you. Which you do not.

Two things are holding me together, at least most of the time:
  1. I do not step into my office or look at my email until 9 a.m. We usually get up at 6 and sort of run around busily until 7, but then I have two hours to have leisurely coffee, leisurely breakfast, leisurely yoga, a leisurely walk, and a short, unsatisfying shower (LOL).
  2. I am still taking Saturdays off, though most of the time I am too fried to think of anything particularly fun to do and spend the evening wishing I’d gotten just some freaking work done. This might be part of the process of learning to take a day of rest from my labors, I don’t know.
I almost feel like all that leisure time is the source of my problem, but you have to draw the line somewhere. I mean, I’ve been working from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. or later six days a week…