Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May habit

It is already May, which means I’m going to try to add a new good habit to my increasingly-hit-and-miss collection of them.

Social media seems like a good thing to get under control, since it sucks away both time and morale. I will need lots of both this month, since my hopes of my workload easing up a bit this month are dashed, and on top of that I’m in a jury pool. (They say work-related excuses will not get you out of serving, but perhaps a literal nervous breakdown would do it.)

Anyway, the habit is to stop looking at social media on my computer at all, and to keep my phone out of my face until noon, at least (no need to be super-strict on the time, I guess; the habit I want to establish is simply to NOT pick the thing up first thing in the morning). This is a very lame resolution/habit and really should not be hard.

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…

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Made an art

My city has a quarterly event called ArtWalk where you go walk around downtown and look at local art displayed in galleries, restaurants, and other businesses. There are snacks and sometimes live music, and it is great, and I ALWAYS leave with a burning desire to create something of my own but never do.

M.H. couldn’t attend the December ArtWalk, so I invited a friend of mine to come with me instead, and we (she) got to talking to an artist whose work we loved. This woman had a series of workshops, including one called “Paint the Sky,” and my friend and I decided then and there to sign up.

Anyway, the class was last Saturday, we had a blast, and I painted a sky:

I am wavering about whether I’m satisfied with it and whether it’s actually done, but I certainly enjoyed its creation. Plus I have some supplies now, and sort of know how to use them, so I could make another something-or-other. Maybe on a Saturday, since I have the day off. :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A habit challenge

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve gotten into a good habit of eating more vegetables this month, and it got me thinking that I have other habits—ones I want, and ones I want to lose—that I would like to address, maybe as sort of a theme for 2018. Maybe in a monthly challenge sort of sense. Maybe without going overboard and driving myself insane in the process.

But really. The first thing that comes to mind is that, while I’m a water conservation zealot in every other aspect of my life, I have a habit of taking long, hot showers. The longness of my showers makes me a hypocrite, which is bad, but the hotness of my showers may be even worse, because it’s really tough on my skin, especially in this climate, especially in the winter.

So a goal for February: Get into the habit of taking short, cool showers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Possible beginning of a new obsession

I’m still sticking to my Plant Paradox–approved diet, but that was a tiny change for me, honestly, and I don’t really feel any different after four weeks. (Maybe, possibly, I’m a little bit narrower in the waist and sleeping a little bit better?) But I am definitely eating a lot more vegetables, which seems like a good habit to have acquired, and I’ve decided to just take it on faith that some sort of internal healing is in fact occurring.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I’ve encountered a lot of information lately about light, and how energy-efficient bulbs and lack of sunlight are really bad for us. I heard one guru say that he believed health was about 10 percent related to diet, 10 percent related to exercise/sleep/lifestyle, and the rest was light, water, and electromagnetic fields. I haven’t had the chance yet to really dig into any of this, but naturally that didn’t stop me from making some immediate lifestyle changes:
  • Every morning that the sun is out, I get outside as close to sunrise as possible for a morning walk, sans glasses or contacts—apparently you need that morning sunlight right smack on your retinas with nothing in the way.
  • I started keeping my phone in airplane mode almost all the time, unless I’m actually expecting a call.
  • I’ve been trying to do as much as possible with the lights in the house off—seeing if I can read near a window, for example, or even doing things by candlelight.
It would sort of suck if it turns out that diet really is of minimal importance to health, because that’s the part I have dialed IN. That doesn’t seem like it can possibly be true, but I do like to keep an open mind and play with new ideas…

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Vegetable mania

Turns out my exciting new way of eating is actually not that exciting to write about, except that I can report that you certainly can pop sorghum, and that I found the air popper the best way to do that. It tastes exactly like popcorn but better because you can just eat any unpopped kernels. You have to eat it with a spoon because it’s so teensy, but that is kind of fun.

I’m also eating a ton of vegetables and continuing to branch out a bit. I even bought another jicama. This one I just threw into a giant stir-fry with every other vegetable under the sun, and it was quite good. Tastes exactly like a water chestnut in that context. Other vegetables I’ve eaten in recent days: carrots, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, kale, escarole, romaine lettuce, spinach, bok choy, chard, parsnips, parsnip greens, radishes, radish greens, two kinds of onions, three kinds of mushrooms, asparagus, cauliflower, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, scallions, cilantro, garlic, ginger, chives, and avocado, which is actually a fruit. (I know I’m bragging, but I’m also counting. 30!)

I’m a vegetable fiend now; ask me anything.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Fun and excitement on the menu

So after those three days of really restricted eating, things have loosened up a bit on this Plant Paradox plan. But I didn’t want to just go back to eating exactly the way I was before (minus tomatoes and cucumbers and a couple of other foods with the dreaded lectins) so I decided to try some other things the author had talked about.

  • First off was nuts. I had decided they were bad for me, but apparently that’s because I was eating the wrong ones. (Cashews and peanuts bad. Macadamias, almonds, pistachios, and pecans goooood.) The book says to limit nuts to about a quarter-cup a day, which isn’t much, but it has been fun having them back on the menu at all.
  • Another thing I had given up was cheese, but the book talked a bit about how certain European cheeses were less problematic because of the fact that the milk comes from different breeds of cows. I noticed that my store had real Parmesan cheese, from Italy, that met all the requirements, so I brought home a little block of it. YUM. I’ve been making huge green salads as an excuse to shave cheese onto them. It’s probably good that it is so expensive, because otherwise I would just make a meal-replacement shake out of it.
  • Third, radishes. I used to eat them raw sometimes as a kid, but they were not my favorite. But I had heard that cooking mellows them out, so I added some to a stir-fry I was making (along with all their greens). I was surprised at just how mellow they got—in fact they were really delicious that way. So that’s a no-brainer to add to the veggie rotation.
  • Finally, sorghum. Apparently it’s one of only a couple of grains without a hull, so it doesn’t have the problematic aspects of most grains, PLUS YOU CAN POP IT LIKE POPCORN. I haven’t actually tried that yet, but I just wanted to you to brace yourselves.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 4

I’m feeling pretty chipper for someone who has 48 hours to do approximately 50 hours of work to meet a deadline that was originally supposed to be today. And that’s if I take Saturday off as planned. I can’t decide if it would be stupider to do it or not do it. Simple math says I should work. But my heart says if I make an exception now, I’ll be making exceptions all the time, and then what’s the point?

So I could really use tomorrow to be a magical day of energy and productivity so that I can get enough done to be comfortable taking a day off. But like I said I am actually feeling pretty good, especially for having spent so much time in a chair, staring at a screen. I have to wonder if it’s the fancy diet—probably too early to claim so.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January 2

New Life Plan(s) update:
  • Plant Paradox diet: Day 2, and it surprised me how full I could stay on vegetables, avocado oil, a handful of nuts, and a tiny bit of chicken. The book claims that excess animal protein stimulates your appetite, so maybe there’s something to that. I’m open to the idea of permanently altering my diet to include less meat; it would be cheaper, for one thing.
  • Social media fast: Day 2, and I’ve hardly noticed I’m abstaining from anything. Which is funny, because in December when I tried to stay off Twitter and Facebook one day a week, I caved every time. That addicted, can’t-stop-checking feeling is horrible—and it’s most of the reason why I’m taking another month off.
  • Yoga with Adrienne: Day 1 of the official 30-days-of-yoga was today, although I did another one of her videos on Jan. 1. The major difference between Adrienne’s choreography and mine is that I almost never hold a pose to the point where my muscles start shaking—that’s one way to infuse fresh life into my home practice, I guess.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Plant Paradox program

It was so ridiculously cold here last night that my parents had to cancel their annual New Year’s party, and as a result I was in bed before 10 (with two extra blankets piled on) and slept for ten hours straight. I woke up feeling amazing and, because the days are so short, I still got to see the sun rise on 2018. That is how you start off a new year.

I used the morning to reread the relevant chapter in “The Plant Paradox” and make a shopping list. I held off on eating until M.H. woke up and could get to the grocery store—what, me leave the house?—and then I cooked up a bunch of stuff:

  • A stir-fry with chicken, bok choy, onions, leeks, broccoli, and mushrooms
  • Guacamole with half a red onion, cilantro, avocado, salt, and lemon juice
  • Asparagus roasted in avocado oil
  • Kale chips

This diet starts off with a three-day “modified fast” in which you eat only certain vegetables, nuts, avocados, and a small amount of chicken or fish. As you can see, I had quite a bit of cooking to do so that I’d have compliant foods around the house (not to mention the chopping I did for future salads).

I thought it would be fun to chronicle what if anything happens as I go through the program, which is supposed to be six weeks after this three-day phase. I think my diet was already pretty good, so I’m not expecting a ton of change, but maybe I will be surprised.