Thursday, March 31, 2016

March report card

Here’s how I did on my March resolutions:
  • Goal: Memorize 1 John 1. Pretty easy in that it was short—but also pretty hard in that pretty much everything John says, he says three times in three different ways. I want to memorize something else, but maybe a month off first while I work on other goals. A
  • Rule: Start each weekday with an hour of diligent work at my standing desk. I learned that the ease or difficulty of this depends heavily on the kind of work I’m doing, and I had a few days when I absolutely needed my two monitors side by side and had to settle for an hour of diligent work while sitting. Still, this was a good rule, followed, oh, 92 percent of the time, and I get an A.
  • Exercise: Explore some more sources of yoga. I explored quite a bit and found a handful of free YouTube classes I liked. It will take months and months of actually doing them to find out which ones I love, but overall it was enough to make me feel pretty darn good about my decision to quit the gym. A
  • Affirmation: I take great care of myself and my family. I was not so great about this, frankly. But you can’t fail “Affirmation” if you did the affirming. B
  • Task: Purge and clean the desk area off of the kitchen. I did this in stages, but I didn’t actually get to all the stages. I think I’ll just finish up next month, because April’s task is a lot less time-consuming. C
GPA: 3.4

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The update before the storm

I haven’t blogged in a few weeks, which means updates are probably in order before I launch into my end-of-the-month/start-of-the-month posting flurry of report cards and new goals and whatnot. Actually (go-getter that I am), I’ve already written the bulk of those posts. I’m convinced that having thought through a set of priorities for the year has changed this whole GREAT exercise from a hilarious novelty to something actually useful, and I am psyched about it.

Anyway, Update One is that I’ve been taking ibuprofen for my shoulder for going on three weeks now, and it is feeling much better. The law is that I have to do it for eight full weeks, no matter how good it feels, to make sure it’s healed. So that’s a bummer, but it will be so worth it in the end (you know, unless it causes kidney failure or something)!

Update Two is that I have not worried about one single thing once since deciding that I would worry at 11:08 a.m. every day. What happens is, if I start worrying at night, I reassure myself that I can worry at 11:08. Then 11:08 arrives—and even if I notice, which I don’t—I can’t get worked up about anything anyway. So that’s convenient.

Update Three is that I swam with the group at my gym one last time before my membership lapses on April 1. It was really fun, and I can still join them for $5 on any given Monday if I want, but it hurt my shoulder just enough for me to realize that I should not be swimming yet. Plus, I hate what chlorine does to my skin and hair. I’m just going to have to move to a warmer climate and swim in nature.

Update Four is that I also attended my last yoga class at the gym. That was kind of sad but, again, I can pay to go once in a while if I want ($10 in this case). I do like YouTube yoga, but it is definitely not the same.

Update Five (and then I’ll stop) is that the lousy Smarch weather has made me realize that walking really is going to be pretty difficult here for a lot of the year without access to a treadmill. So I made a New Life Plan that when I don’t feel like braving the hail, sleet, wind, or whatever, I’ll spend an hour or so cleaning or decluttering my house instead, just to be moving around. Win-win! If I can make myself do it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A time to worry

I’m not traditionally a big worrier, but lately everything I read about global warming makes me sick to my stomach. And the political…um, landscape (to put it more politely than the word that’s in my head) has been making it much worse. I find that if I wake up in the middle of the night for any reason, my mind goes straight to the landscape we’ve all got ourselves in, and I may well worry straight through till morning.

Not that these aren’t truly excellent things to worry about, but as one person with two compost bins in a state with three electoral votes, there’s really not a heck of a lot I can realistically do about anything.

So I was really glad to hear Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast this morning while I was making the bed—and, by the way, she’s also the reason I tend to make the bed every day. (Told you she was my spirit animal. Although The Minimalists are lately making a run for the title.) Anyway, the podcast suggested an interesting tip: Schedule a time to worry. In other words, go ahead and worry if you’re going to anyway, but try to set an appropriate time—and time limit—for it.

Frankly, I don’t know if I will be able to “worry on demand” like that, but I think the idea is worth trying, if only so I can tell my 3 a.m. self that I don’t need to worry now because I’m scheduling it for later. (I’m thinking 3 a.m. self is probably groggy enough to fall for it.) Election Day is November 8, so I think I’ll plan to worry starting at 11:08 every day. I can write down a couple of things I’m particularly troubled about, stew over them for a few minutes, and get on with my life. Sounds great in theory.

Wanna worry with me?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Another swim

In a fit of minimalist resolve, M.H. and I went to the gym earlier this week and canceled our membership. M.H. thinks he might join up again—or maybe find a cheaper option—when the weather turns bad next winter, but I think I’m going to try living without this particular luxury for a while.

Since my easy-access-to-a-pool days are numbered, I went back the next day and tried swimming again. It wasn’t terrible! I didn’t attempt butterfly, but I can do the other three strokes with minimal pain. On the other hand it wasn’t no pain, so I ended up doing 800 yards of mostly kicking.

Because my shoulder seems on the verge of being cured, now I’m contemplating trying another round of taking Advil for eight weeks to see if I can get it the rest of the way there. Ughhhh, but it would be so great if it works!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Resolution fallout

Another one of my March resolutions was to “Explore some more sources of yoga.” I assumed there must be a ton of stuff on the Internet, but the first thing I noticed while looking around online was a recommendation to check out “Yoga with Adriene.” I did, I found out she has oodles of videos on YouTube, I did one, it was awesome, and now I’m set for life, even if I never find another source of free yoga. Which is unlikely, since I’ve spent about two minutes looking for it so far.

So that was nice, but it made me face something I’ve been in denial about: Aside from the one yoga instructor I really love—and the swimming group starting up again soon (assuming I can swim)—I don’t think there’s much value for me in my gym membership anymore. Here are the arguments for giving it up:
  • I hate subsidizing all the super-intense hour-long cardio classes they keep adding that I truly believe are damaging to people’s health in the long term.
  • I don’t like the feeling that the only way to get my money’s worth from my membership is to make “fitness” a hobby, as I see tons of people doing. I want exercising to be a means to an end—good health—not an end in itself.
  • Every time I walk in the door I feel pressured to buy better workout clothes, because they sell them right in the lobby, and literally every woman there has a full wardrobe of adorable flowy-yet-functional yoga stuff that they bought for one million dollars.
  • Related: I really like working out at home, where I don’t have to deal with my hair and can be an unshowered hot mess in peace.
Their are arguments on the other side, of course, but I just don’t think I can justify spending the money anymore. I think I’ll cancel—and if I change my mind I can always uncancel.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A helpful tool for work focus

All my March resolutions are turning out to be not just GREAT™ but actually great—I have something to say about every single one, but for now I’ll just mention that my rule of starting each workday by doing an hour of actual diligent work at my standing desk has been a surprisingly helpful discipline.

The standing-up part has not been as much of a challenge as I expected; I’ve actually already built up a lot of standing-desk endurance, and I move around and stretch quite a bit to keep my back from hurting. The more difficult part is not getting distracted for an hour straight. What tends to happen is that as soon as I hit a tough decision of some kind, or something I need to take time to figure out, or something out of my comfort zone—and it is crazy how often one of those three things has been happening (note to self: Get smarter and more skilled and expand your comfort zone ASAP)—I have to fight an impulse to run straight to Facebook. And then Twitter. And then a bunch of blogs. And then Facebook again.

A couple of times I’ve had to take a deep breath, go make myself some tea, and read a book for a while before going back to my desk and facing down whatever the trouble spot was. (The resolution specifies that I’m allowed to take breaks as long as they don’t involve the Internet.) One day last week I knew I had a particularly ugly task in front of me, so as a means of procrastinating I sat in the living room sipping tea and knitting for an hour or so before, fortified and strengthened, I went to my desk to Just Do It™.

That’s probably not as good as getting right down to work, or maybe it is, but I know for sure it’s a lot better than cycling among social media feeds and following links until guilt or deadline pressure forces me to get a grip on my life.

This might be that “mindfulness” thing I keep hearing about. Weird.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

GREAT resolutions for March

I’m kind of excited to be starting fresh with some new resolutions, but I also want to keep going on a bunch of my old ones—meditating, walking, doing squats, eating well—and I have a sense that it might be getting to be a big much. Better find some motivation quick.

Here’s what I settled on:
  • Goal: Memorize 1 John 1. This should be fun: John’s writing has a completely different vibe from Paul’s, and this chapter is waaaay shorter than Ephesians 4.
  • Rule: Start each weekday with an hour of diligent work at my standing desk. The intent is not only to work for a solid hour before even thinking about Facebook but also to be on my feet the entire time. I anticipate that a full hour of standing might be challenging at first, so I’m allowed to break it up if I need to, as long as I stay away from digital distractions.
  • Exercise: Explore some more sources of yoga. My gym has been slowly converting all its good yoga classes into annoying “yoga pump” type things where the instructors shout at you and make you wave pink and purple weights around. There is still one excellent instructor, but I can usually get to only one or two of her classes a week, and I’d like to find something that I can do at home on some of the other days.
  • Affirmation: I take great care of myself and my family. This is code for “I cook stuff and do my part to help us all to get to bed at a decent time.”
  • Task: Purge and clean the desk area off of the kitchen. This area includes photo albums, shoeboxes full of greeting cards, art supplies, tons of papers, dust, and…miscellany. It will be a pretty big job but can be done a bit at a time.