Monday, February 29, 2016

GREAT report card for February

Here’s how I did on my February resolutions:
  • Goal: Memorize Ephesians 4. This turned out to be a tough one, given that it’s a pretty long chapter (and a pretty short month). I got to the point, though, where I could type it out with a couple of quick peeks and a handful of wrong words. I’m fairly satisfied. B
  • Rule: Meditate for three to five minutes per day. I was really good about this because, strangely, three minutes feels a lot shorter and is a lot easier to commit to than five. I’m also beginning to master the fine art of thinking about my breathing while still actually breathing, so that’s nice. I’m not making a specific resolution to meditate in March, but I think I can keep the three-minutes-a-day thing going regardless. A
  • Exercise: Reintroduce myself to the squat. I read up, watched some videos, got my form as perfect as I could, and worked on squats several times a week for the whole month. Plus, I get extra credit for noticing early on that my right quad was starting to feel strained, not playing through the pain, taking a few days off, and then carefully starting up again. A
  • Affirmation: “I take great care of myself by practicing moderation.” I had a lot of trips and  celebrations and events in February, and I had hoped I could eat whatever I wanted and then snap right back to healthy eating habits after each one was over. I forgot to take into account that junk-food events lead to junk-food leftovers, and also that I am not really the moderation type. On the other hand, I was pretty good about actually saying this affirmation, which I’ve decided should count for 80 percent of my final grade. C
  • Task: Install a shelf in my closet. On February 8, we had a 60-degree day that coincided with a light work day, and BAM! It’s so beautiful. A
GPA: 3.4

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Annotated essay about the back of my sock box*

Our washing machine broke down recently, and when we did the math on getting the replacement part shipped to us, we realized we’d all have to go about two weeks without doing laundry, unless we were OK with some flooding, which we were not. No big deal, really. Someone who will not be named** ran out of underwear three days early, but other than that, the budding minimalists and the fashion-indifferent alike all had plenty of clean clothing to get through the ordeal.

Speaking of minimalism, I did find something interesting in my decimated sock box:

Behold the five pairs of socks that DEFINITIVELY spark the least joy! I decided that three of these*** will be hitting the pavement on Monday, along with another big stack of books I removed from the guest room shelves and some other odds and ends. I’ve been listening to The Minimalists' podcast a lot lately, and they always say stuff like, “If an item is no longer bringing you pleasure, why not release it back into the world so someone else can get pleasure from it?” That phrasing kills me every time, but thinking of it like that does make a lot of sense. I mean, it doesn’t probably apply that much to used socks. But the other stuff will find homes with people who will be glad to have it, and in the meantime it will be nicer for me to have a little more breathing room in the sock box.

I was about to say that, ha ha, I’d be in trouble if there was a three-week laundry emergency, but then I remembered that it is actually possible to wash clothes without a washing machine.**** That epiphany would have been more helpful during the Underwear Situation.

* No kidding, this has to be a new low in terms of blogging about the trivia of my life. All uphill from here!
** But not me.
*** I do sometimes get in the mood to wear the absurd blue striped ones, and another pair may have been unfairly lumped into the group because it was in the back.
**** Shaking my head at this ridiculous example modern-convenience blindness.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Beauty and the beets

Maybe golden beets would have been gateway beets in more skilled hands, but I seriously flubbed the roasting, and the end result was revolting.

I did eat the beet greens as “chips” and they were great, so it wasn’t a total loss. But that’s neither here nor there, because I’m never buying beets again. Beets are gross. Forget about beets. Let’s talk minimalism. I’m still taking only baby steps in that direction but have noticed some astounding changes in myself. As one example, I have never in my life, upon coming home from a trip, immediately unpacked my suitcase. But this month I did exactly that for two weekends in a row.

One reason, I think, is that my space is cleaner and nicer overall now and I don’t like having it marred by an open suitcase with dirty clothes spilling out of it. But the bigger reason is the insane convenience of my minimalized and consolidated closet. After I KonMari’d it, it looked so empty that I put a chair in there—which I now use for putting on socks and shoes, setting down laundry baskets, and meditating (yes! right in the closet!). So now all I have to do to unpack is set the suitcase on the chair and put every single item of clothing, pair of shoes, swimsuit, scarf, whatever, back where it goes. The laundry basket also lives in the closet, AND the empty suitcase itself lives there—and not under a giant, teetering pile of stuff, either.

It’s pretty great.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Day Two

We are back from the last swim meet/travel for a while and the Great Re-Giving-Up of Sugar has commenced. Actually, we went ahead and restarted the AltShift clock and are doing that again, which is what makes this Day Two. (I’m still pondering some even stricter eating but have decided that Easter is going to be too much of an obstacle to doing a proper Whole30 in March.)

Somewhere I also found a renewed enthusiasm for cooking and have already made kale chips, tomato soup, and homemade toothpaste—well, I’m not planning to eat the toothpaste, so I guess that part of it is better classified as a renewed enthusiasm is for low-impact living. It’s shocking how bits of “Zero Waste Home” keep sneaking into my life years after I dismissed them as crazytalk.

Also, yesterday I bought beets. I don’t know if even I like them, but I’ve heard they’re good roasted, and I saw some golden ones in the store that looked like they could be a promising gateway beet.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Why not go all in?

We have to go out of town again this weekend, so I have a few more days where it’s not really practical—or fun—to eat healthfully. I’ve been contemplating banning sugar from my life and already have that rule written into a rough draft of my March resolutions. (Yes, rough draft. For reasons I don’t fully understand, I have been strangely obsessed with the GREAT resolutions so far this year.)

Then I thought, why not do one better and go back on strict AltShift, since it also includes a ban on sugar and was working so well for me? Then this morning I heard an interview with the creator of the Whole 30 and thought…why not just take it the final step and do a Whole 30 (actually 31) in the month of March WHILE AltShifting?

That could be insanely difficult, but also kind of fun in a perverse way, and I know for a fact that I would feel fantastic by the end of the month. Just looking at the calendar now and trying to think through the ramifications of spending a month essentially never eating anything prepared by anyone else…

Sunday, February 14, 2016


For my birthday M.H. gave me a 23andMe kit, so I can, quote, “make more informed New Life Plans” based on my actual genetics. Won’t that be interesting? I spit into the tube as instructed and will let you know what I find out when the results arrive in six to eight weeks.

And, you know, I would think that if you found out that you were genetically disposed to some disease or other, that would make you a lot more conscious of taking care of yourself, so I suspect I will use the results to do exactly what M.H. anticipates I will do, which is make New Life Plans, or at least GREAT resolutions, based on them.

In the meantime, I’m re-coming to the re-conclusion that I have a real problem with sugar, and that the only way to eat less of it is to eat none of it at all. (The moderation plan for February is not going as well as we all might have hoped.) I’m not going to give sugar up right this minute, since my parents are throwing me a belated birthday party tonight, complete with a special-request cake. But I might give it up starting Monday, or maybe starting in March, and I might not eat it again until Thanksgiving. Or Christmas. Or in two years. Or never ever. Not sure yet. It’s possible that 23andMe will have something to say about the issue.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Youthful enthusiasm

I’ve been enjoying The Minimalists’ new podcast—so much, in fact, that I caught up yesterday on the last three episodes WHILE cleaning the kitchen, decluttering my bathroom drawers, “minimalizing” several more books, and doing this:

Once I got the shelf painted and in place, I decided that the best use for it was to get all my shoes up off the floor. I own about three more pairs than will comfortably fit there—and I know exactly which three pairs should be the ones to go—but I decided to first give myself one more summer to see if I will ever start actually wearing them. (I have an affection for moderately dressy shoes that are worn without socks, but my life is such that I almost never need to be even moderately dressy.)

Conversation this morning:

Me: Welp, tomorrow I turn 45.
Mik: Whoa.

Ain’t that the truth.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tried to swim; didn't work

My shoulder had been feeling a lot better, so I thought I’d try a little swim to see where I’m at. It was not what you’d call a workout. …Instead you might call it “a fiasco,” or perhaps “a brutally harsh wakeup call.”

I started with a 25 free, but freestyle hurt too much, so then I did a 25 backstroke, but backstroke hurt too much. Then I did a 25 breaststroke and it didn’t hurt, so I made it a 50. Then I did 300 yards of kicking and called it a day. Then I woke up the next morning with my neck and back seizing up all over the place (possibly that was unrelated) and gave up on swimming forever.

Just kidding! Instead I rededicated myself to getting this thing fixed. I know it takes forever but that it can be done. Found some new exercises to try on the YouTube and everything.

Monday, February 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for February

I’m really glad I made a resolutions “worksheet” to refer to for 2016. It makes it a lot easier to come up with resolution ideas—and of course the intention is that they ultimately will be taking me somewhere, rather than just being a bunch of stuff that sounded good at 9 p.m. on the last day of the month. Anyway, here are my carefully curated resolutions for February:
  • Goal: Memorize Ephesians 4. I was going to start with the first book of John and go on from there, but I decided it might be more fun to cherry-pick a bit. Anyway, memorizing John would take a huge commitment, and I don’t think the circumstances are right.
  • Rule: Meditate for three to five minutes per day. Even though I did not at all enjoy meditation last month, I’m convinced that it will eventually be beneficial to everything else I want to do. This month I’m going to focus on doing it DAILY, and there should be no excuse for not being able to find three minutes.
  • Exercise: Reintroduce myself to the squat. I have already been taking some baby steps into weight lifting, in that every time I go to the gym to walk, I also hop onto a couple of machines and do some easy lifting. This month I want to focus on the squat, perfect my form, and get a lot stronger in it.
  • Affirmation: “I take great care of myself by practicing moderation.” There are all kinds of “events” this month—a Super Bowl party, a trip out of town, and my birthday, for starters—where I’m most definitely not going to be eating in a way that helps me lose fat. But I want to be sensible rather than using it as an excuse to down a quart of ice cream as if it’s the last time I’ll ever see sugar. And when the event is over, I want to go right back to healthy eating the next day. 
  • Task: Install a shelf in my closet. “Install” might be too strong a word. All I need to do is buy a shelf of the right size, paint it white if necessary, and set it on the existing shelf bracket.