Sunday, January 31, 2016

GREAT report card

I decided that I need to post on the last day of each month to evaluate how I did on my GREAT resolutions, just to have some sort of accountability. So these were my plans for January, and this is how I did:
  • Goal: I spent just over 100 minutes in meditation, which is nice, but the goal was 155, so just going by the numbers (65 percent of goal), I give myself a D.
  • Rule: I was supposed to follow AltShift to the letter, and I actually did on 28 out of 31 days. That’s 90 percent, but I feel like the spirit of this rule was all or nothing. Guess I’ll split the difference between A and F and give myself a C.
  • Exercise: I walked a ton, got faster, and got so I didn’t even mind being on the treadmill. A.
  • Affirmation: How to grade an affirmation? Is it based on whether I actually said it to myself or whether I actually did the thing I was affirming? Or maybe whether I made adequate progress toward the thing I was affirming? At any rate, I got an A on all counts this month, so I’ll revisit the grading difficulties another time.
  • Task: Done and then some. A.
January GPA*: 3.0. Student is working below potential. Enjoy having in class.

* GREAT point average, naturally

A few hours of good work

Somehow I caught M.H. in a “clean all the things” mood yesterday, and he helped me finish up the guest room closet project and then some. We got rid of all the sentimental but unwanted objects, rehomed a few things, hung up a picture, AND donated a bunch of stuff I had been trying unsuccessfully to sell. (When you think about it logically, it’s just not worth $5 or $10 or $20 if the selling takes more than an hour of effort.)

After that, we started attacking bookshelves and donated enough books that we were able to empty one shelf completely and turn it into a display for miscellaneous objets d’art:

(Objets d’art, from top left: clock that needs batteries, ceramic vase made by my sister in college, collection of rocks in a ceramic bowl made by my sister in college, picture of my kids with some of their cousins, two cool chess boards, random flower pot, World’s Most Annoying Nerf Gun.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ha ha oops

How long since I said it was pretty easy to keep my health-related resolutions? Six days?

Oh, naive, young, innocent Julie of January 13! Since then I’ve eaten pizza and cookies twice (we had them in the house for a kid party) and binge-watched 15 episodes of The West Wing on Netflix. I’m still walking and meditating every day, but I’m so bored with the meditation part that it HURTS. I guess my inner Rebel is still kicking and screaming about being a person who takes great care of herself.

Anyway, the AltShift advice for falling off the wagon is to immediately climb back on the wagon and pick up where you left off, so I’ve done that. I’ll try to refocus my Rebel energy to taking a stand against the idiotic and unscientific USDA dietary guidelines that indirectly got everyone fat in the first place.

I have no immediate plans to stop watching The West Wing, though. It’s really good.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What did I get myself into?

Decided it was time to tackle that guest room closet—doesn’t look too bad overall, right?

Wrong. It is awful. Hidden in boxes you can’t see are agonizingly sentimental objects that I have no use for. In one sense that’s OK, because I don’t have to get rid of all the stuff, just give it a more appropriate home. But in another sense, if I am going to be touching these items for the first time in nine years—and I may not touch them again for nine years after this—shouldn’t I take this opportunity to give some of it…a more final resting place?

The worst part is, when this is done, I’m really not going to have a lot to show for it. It’s not like the kitchen, where the payoff is increased ease of use multiple times per day. This is going to hurt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Resolutions and the Rebel

I just finished Gretchen Rubin’s latest book, and I’ve been kind of obsessed with her Four Tendencies. (The briefest possible explanation is that it’s a matrix of how you respond to outer expectations—like deadlines and appointments—and inner expectations—like goals and resolutions.)

You’d think I’d be all over INNER expectations at least, but I was surprised when I took her quiz and it said I was a Rebel—someone who resists both kinds of expectations. The more I think about it, though, the more I think that’s accurate for me. Rebels can meet expectations, but only if they want to—and it’s important to me to keep my clients, for example, so therefore I meet my work deadlines. And I can keep my personal resolutions, too, as long as they still interest me and I still want to—which explains why I change them every month. (And why I MUST remember to stay motivated.)

One of the strategies Rubin suggests for Rebels who want to meet their goals is, instead of thinking about what you want to do, to reframe them in terms what kind of person you are. I’m finding that incredibly helpful. Now that I’m thinking of myself as a person who takes great care of herself (as per my affirmation), I’m finding my health-related goals pretty easy to follow through on. Not only that, but I’m getting up from my desk more often, keeping things more organized, taking my vitamins more faithfully, lifting more weights, and reading more books. None of those were explicit goals, so either it’s the magical power of “January” at work (entirely possible) or I’m on to something here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thoughts on “The Abominable Bride”

I’m a little hesitant to post my latest thoughts on “Sherlock”—partly because they’re not fully formed yet, partly because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s life with spoilers, and partly because most of my 10 regular blog readers don’t care.

But I can’t help it. “Sherlock” is meant to be rewatched and studied for clues, and that’s what I did this afternoon.

A few things jumped out at me on this viewing:
  • Everything that happens in the Mind Palace is symbolic (and true to the best of Sherlock’s deductive abilities).
  • “Moriarity” is definitely an organization made up of women; no doubts at all now. Sure looks like Molly and Janine are part of it (of course they featured in the scene in the church, but also Molly disguises herself as a man right under Sherlock’s nose, and Moriarty tells Sherlock that his “bed is surprisingly comfortable,” which Janine would know). I was disappointed not to find Kitty Riley in that scene, so maybe she was just a pawn after all. Also not sure about Mary now, but she’s super deep into something.
  • To push that a little further, the abominable bride is symbolic of Moriarty—in other words, it seems like she’s one freaky person (who should be dead), but really she’s a bunch of “villains” who have a cause and some sort of justification for what they’re doing. She’s a match for Sherlock but may also have been wronged by him in some way. In fact, I wonder if all the emphasis on the word “YOU” (written on a wall in blood, for crying out loud) is implying that the whole Moriarty organization was put in place in direct response to the person of Sherlock himself—perhaps to keep him busy and off the drugs? Something Mycroft started that got out of his control?
  • Speaking of which, Mycroft is sooo doomed. It seemed to me the fat was a metaphor for power, and he was getting noticeably fatter by the day—and Watson calls out that they are literally “gambling with his life.” Plus all the especially human and touching concern about Sherlock felt like foreshadowing.
  • There were a couple of references to “The Seven Per Cent Solution,” which seems really relevant, and I’m going to need to read it ASAP.
I guess we get another entire year to think about this stuff before the next episode arrives…

Monday, January 4, 2016

An upside of eating sugar?

It was good to have a bit of a free-for-all in December (note to self: Next year, maybe try for less of a free-for-all), but I have to say it’s also good to be back to self-control and taking care of myself.

Eating so much sugar and other junk for three weeks straight had a bunch of negative effects on me—starting with my actual pants wouldn’t fit and continuing with about 14 other things too numerous and horrible to mention. That number is not exaggerated for comic effect, sadly, but it’s been pleasant to watch all the bad things roll away one by one as I’ve “detoxed” over the past four days.

The one weird exception was that I slept WONDERFULLY the whole time I was eating junk. I stopped getting up at night to use the bathroom—or if I did I went immediately back to sleep—and a few times I slept for 10+ hours straight. This could have something to do with the fact that my stress level was lower and I was having fun with family, but that was only for some of the time. I really think it was the junk food! Is it a sign I need more carbs in my life? Or more calories? Or something to do with the mental effects of indulging every desire?

Anyway, since AltShift calls for eating high-carb three days out of every eight, I think I’ll try to really load up on the suckers when that time comes and see if it helps.

Friday, January 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for January

Happy New Year!

All this thinking about monthly resolutions must be fun for me (a different concept from “must be working for me,” unfortunately) because I’m officially entering my second year of them.

This January’s resolutions have had the benefit of several weeks of end-of-year introspection—and several weeks of becoming disgusted by my holiday indulgences—so they should be my most useful, practical, keepable ones yet. Also, they’ve been jazzed up with explanations and a pop of color:
  • Goal: Spend 155 total minutes in meditation (an average of five minutes a day). I’ve been reading about how to increase willpower and beef up the prefrontal cortex, and mediation is on the top of every list. My hope is that I can start small and then increase the time as the year goes on.
  • Rule: Follow AltShift to the letter. I’ve followed the creator of this diet for a couple of years and truly believe that what he has come up with is the best science currently available for getting healthy.
  • Exercise: Walk. Of course this is also my 2016 theme, but I’m going to start with the basics. No counting miles or anything—I’m just going to remember that to be healthy, I need to walk as much as I possibly can.
  • Affirmation: I take great care of myself in any weather. This is all about getting to the gym, but if I can get one thing through my stubborn head all year, I would like it to be that I am a person who takes great care of herself—in other words, it’s something I do automatically, without needing willpower or resolutions.
  • Task: Clean out the guest room closet. This would be a really convenient storage location for things we need now and then, but instead it’s packed with a bizarre assortment of things we need approximately never.