Thursday, December 31, 2015

Also, now I spell it “GRATE”

I just finished my “GREAT resolutions for January” and scheduled it to post at 12:01 tomorrow morning. I changed up the GREAT acronym for 2016. I turned “Theme” into “Task,” which is a much better name than “Errand” for what I’ve been doing, and I turned “Errand” into “Exercise,” since my plans always involve some sort of exercise anyway. “Theme,” one of my original ideas, is being dropped, but “Affirmation” really covers the same type of ground, only better—and besides, I have a theme for the year, so I don’t need a theme for each month.

Are you keeping up with me here? I might be way too excited about this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A New Year’s theme

I’ve thought before about doing the Gretchen Rubin thing and adopting a one-word theme for the year, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually done it. (At least not successfully or memorably.) But I came up with a good one for 2016, and I think I’ll try to incorporate it into each month’s resolutions—ready?


I like this theme because it has multiple meanings I can play with, but the most basic, fundamental, and obvious one is to simply get in more daily walking. Since it’s winter, and Montana, I’ve been “practicing” for a few days to see how horrible it is to go to the gym to walk on the treadmill. It’s a little horrible, actually, but I think I can probably cope until spring, especially since I have so many great podcasts lined up on my phone—namely, all the ones I let pile up while I plowed through 700 episodes of Selected Shorts this month.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking back

I decided to look over my GREAT (goal, rule, errand, affirmation, theme) resolutions for 2015 to see how many of them I actually kept and whether I was still keeping any of them by accident. The answer to the first question is “a lot, but not as many as you would hope,” and the answer to the second question is “I WELCOME THE CHANGING OF THE SEASONS.”

Interestingly—since it got thrown into the mix only because I couldn’t think of anything better that started with E—my monthly errands ended up being some of the most satisfying things I did all year. It was good to knock things off the to-do list way in the back of my mind—“I should really get a passport someday,” “I should really take care of that box of junk someday,” “I should really print those pictures someday.”

The obvious but unexpectedly nice thing about an errand is that once it’s done, it stays done—unlike, say, “be able to do 10 push-ups.” I could do 10 push-ups on February 28, but I can’t do any now, so what was the point? (Especially since that goal turned out to be especially bad for my shoulder.) By contrast, I enjoy my purged and organized kitchen on a daily basis.

Just some more food for 2016 thought.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A worksheet for 2016

Here’s my big, sweeping, overarching plan for how to have a healthier, more productive, more joy-filled life in 2016:
  • Stick to a diet that helps me lose fat—for sure going back on AltShift as of Jan. 1
  • Exercise in a way that makes me happy and strong—walking, yoga, lifting weights, shoulder rehab, spend less time sitting, getting outside
  • Minimize digital distractions and maximize human interactions (or actually optimize human interactions, since actually maximizing them would probably make me miserable)
  • Work efficiently and with focus, to preserve my free time
  • Go back to memorizing scripture—maybe try again on the book of John?
  • Keep the house the way I want it—cleaner and cozier, get rid of the rest of the junk, more cooking and family meals
And here’s what I’ve learned about resolutions, at least for myself:
  • They will work for a while, but there’s a huge danger that I’ll get bored with them.
  • If I can do those first two things on the list (diet and exercise), I’ll feel much better and have a much better chance of being able to stick to the rest of my plan.
  • My monthly GREAT resolutions need to tie directly to one of these overarching goals that I really want to do, because my attention span isn’t long enough to stick to something that I only sort of want to do.
  • I need some self-control to get started, but what I really need to keep going is inspiration. So I need to remember to actively seek out inspiration.
I expect that lots of random bold words will help, too. :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The proper response to one of my ideas

M.H.’s parents are coming over on Christmas Eve, and I had the bright idea that each member of the family should contribute a dessert—from conception through execution. Here’s how everyone reacted:
  • M.H.: “I don’t even know what a baked Alaska is, but that’s what I’m going to make!”
  • Mik: *Still blinking in disbelief three days later*
  • Dex: *Beginnings of a giant eye roll until…*
  • Dex’s girlfriend: “Oooooh! I’ll help. Okay, Dex, we got this. This is going to be so great! My mom has a million vegan dessert cookbooks! I have a Pinterest account! We are going to knock this out of the park! I know it’s not a contest, but we are going to win!”
It’s really nice, now and then, to have another female person around to back me up, is what I’m saying.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A bit of raving

Just checking in to say that the mid-December…itis has kicked in and all bets are off as far as keeping resolutions or doing things that are healthy. This does not upset me. I am having SO MUCH FUN blowing off work and blowing off the gym and visiting relatives and buying stuff and seeing blockbuster films and eating in restaurants and eating candy and just generally rockin’ around the Christmas tree that I really don’t much care what the consequences are.

The inexplicable flip side is that I am equally excited than January 1 is coming—because for some reason I can’t wait to make ALL THE RESOLUTIONS, and instead of being realistic I’m just letting my imagination run freely because it will be a new year and theoretically anything is possible. NO ONE ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT KIND OF PERSON I WILL BE IN 2016.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In which I just can’t even with this podcast

I resolved to listen through my backlog of Selected Shorts podcasts this month because I thought it would be good for me to listen to something literary, and perhaps to get in touch with modern short fiction.

But I’ve run into a snag because apparently I can’t stand modern short fiction. The piece I just finished was a horror story where the villain is potatoes. I recently heard one where people can’t find their way home at night and then cease to exist because the moon has disappeared. There was a Jane Austen novel told in tweets. A history of how the United States was turned into an indoor mall by putting a dome over it. A woman who has an extramarital affair with her couch. A speech that’s just a list of funny phrases. A complaint about the packaging on a bag of frozen peas. A complaint about babies who aren’t pulling their weight in the work force. A dinner party where everybody is named Ava, Idi, or Ona.

Am I forgetting some? Yes, I am forgetting some. They are best forgotten.

I mean, I guess another way to clear out my backlog is to unsubscribe and delete, but it’s a shame, because I remember loving Selected Shorts when I was listening to it on my commute in the early 2000s. When did it get so outlandish?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Conversation this morning

M.H.: Look, the sun came up. Shouldn’t you be standing in a sunbeam or something? Isn’t that your New Life Plan?
Me: No, my New Life Plan is to be a ray of sunshine to the people around me.
M.H.: [bursts out laughing] Well, that’s what you’ll tell people on your blog, but I know the truth.
Now, I think my beloved was commenting on my penchant for sunny windows more than my capacity to bring joy to others, so maybe that wasn’t as harsh as it sounds. Still, now I want to get out into the world and prove him wrong.

I think I’m already a pretty nice person, but just for this month I want to try being one of those people whose niceness blows you away just a little bit. And to somehow do that in a way that’s ME and not fake. Pondering…

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reading my vegetables

I wanted to explain my strange-sounding goal of listening through my backlog of 22(!) episodes—and the number grows every week—of Selected Shorts podcasts.

I’m hoping this will kill lots of birds with one stone.

First, my phone is getting choked with podcasts I want to hear but have not made time for. So there’s that straightforward bird.

Second, I’ve noticed that when I’m listening to a podcast, I’m usually doing something else productive, like cleaning a bathroom or walking on a treadmill. And I could use a lot more walking and clean bathrooms in my life.

But the final bird is that I’ve been in a terrible reading slump lately. I’ve started several books but can’t seem to find anything I enjoy, and I’ve been so busy that I’m barely making the effort. I think Selected Shorts might be just what I need to jump-start my reading, and it’s always good and enriching—the healthy vegetable of podcasts.

Which probably, come to think of it, is why I have a 22-week backlog.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

GREAT resolutions for December

Can I get a WOO-HOO for giant work project number two being done? Or just a WHEW? Wait, I have it:


I’m actually relieved that I saved giant work project number three for December—because, (a), it would have killed me to get it done any sooner and, (b), it gives me something to work on for the next few weeks, which might otherwise be a little quiet. (And we all know what a quiet, uneventful month December can be, the voice in her head sighed in disbelief.)

Anyway, I’m feeling chipper today, but hopefully not so chipper that I’ve set a bunch of unrealistic resolutions for the month. Here they are:
  • Goal: Listen through the backlog of Selected Shorts podcasts on my phone. 
  • Rule: Do something healthy for my shoulder (stretching, strengthening, other rehab?) every day.
  • Errand: Print/frame/deliver all the photos I need to deal with (mostly Dex’s senior pictures).
  • Affirmation: Enjoy the process.
  • Theme: Ray of sunshine!
More about these some other time.