Will you love me moving?

This quote, from Gretchen Rubin’s happiness quote of the day, made me smile:

“For me, the challenge of middle age was not to stand still.”

— Jon Katz, A Dog Year

More so than any age I’ve been thus far, middle age has been busy for me. I have so much I want to do and see and try and be. Just yesterday, in fact, I added two mini-goals: to find some smoothie recipes I like (thus streamlining my mornings and increasing my fruit consumption) and to wake Anya each weekday with a smile. I’m also planning to redecorate Anya’s room, putting together a wedding, plotting craft projects for the future (near and far), and stepping up my exercise routine.

Speaking of which, September’s theme is September Strong. Because we’re adding weights to our jog. I also thought that I’d lengthen the jog time, but our allergies are flaring pretty bad right now; we (okay, I; she doesn’t wheeze like I do) might have to hold at 10 minutes, especially with the addition of the hand weights.

I’m about to start a writing course on Coursera. And contemplating picking up some journalism classes. I’m learning to garden, and cook – both ongoing projects. All while staying on top of the laundry, the house, the bills.

Some days, the only time I sit down is when I am working. Some days, I don’t even get to sit while I nurse Kai. I used to sit for nearly all of my waking hours. Now I jog, and weed, and dance, and explore.

Wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been still far too long.

Monthly goals check-in: July

June is gone, and good riddance.

Actually, some good did come out of June. Not the least of which is that I met several of my 43 goals. Here’s where the list stands now:

Goals for My 43rd Year

Challenges
1 Complete an ab month
2 Complete a meditation month
3 Complete 43 things in my 43rd year

Health
4 Be able to run a mile
5 Meditate every day
6 Exercise 30 minutes per day
7 Cook a meal using ingredients I grew myself
8 Have family dinners 4+ nights a week
9 Discover 10 healthy meal recipes the kids will eat

Family
10 Read to the kids for 20 minutes each day
11 Help Anya with her speech 5 minutes each day
12 Work with Kai on letters, numbers, and word sounds 5 minutes a day
13 Have art time with the kids once a week
14 Introduce my kids to the library
15 Start a family heirloom collection
16 Have a weekly family game night – We are not up to weekly, but Anya’s trying. Which means it will happen eventually.
17 Make time for R (a monthly date night would be ideal)
18 Resume monthly family outings
19 Get married
20 Have an awesome familymoon

Projects
21 Improve my home’s curb appeal
22 Clean out the garage
23 Tidy up the deck (and nag the landlord about getting it replaced) – I’ve extended this, to prettying up the entire back yard. More on that later.
24 Complete my 2017 scrapbook
25 Rip my CD collection and reclaim that shelf
26 Finish Anya’s blanket
27 Complete a Duolingo course
28 Put together photos for photo books

New Habits
29 Fine-tune our morning and bedtime routines
30 Refine and expand our recycling routine

Create
31 Blog regularly
32 Finish my NaNoWriMo book
33 Create 10 drawings I’m proud of

Career/Money
34 Brush up on my ID/PS/IL skills
35 Identify and take classes that will help with my career
36 Piece together sufficient freelance work/obtain full-time employment
37 Stabilize my finances – Thanks to some parental help, progress has been made here, as well.
38 Put the same name on all of my credit cards
39 Put together a portfolio website

Foster Joy
40 Read one book a month
41 Grow flowers – They’re not blooming yet, but flowers are in the works.
42 Make time for friends
43 Have one do-nothing day per month

The Calm of June

It has not been a full 30 days (I’m writing this on Friday), but the habit of meditation has become so ingrained that Anya reminds me on nights when she thinks I’ve forgotten. So it’s a pretty safe bet we’re going to meditate tonight, too.

We all go to sleep much faster and easier for this practice. We do not always follow a strict meditation prompt; sometimes we merely listen to a meditative bedtime story. But even those guide the listener gently into meditation. And then into sleep, which we all so desperately need.

Ideally, I would like to work in a morning meditation session, just for myself. But some days my schedule does not allow for that — or so I tell myself. Consider that a project for another month.

Next up:

Jogging in July

No, not outside, silly. Well, maybe some days.

I’ve been working a lot of hours. When I say a lot, I mean I’ve been pulling 12- to 18-hour days more often than not. At my kitchen table, which is just terrible for…all of me. I’m eating like crap, I hurt all the time, and my outlook went straight down the crapper.

I need to move. But I don’t have time for 45 minutes of Pilates a day, you know? So I’m going to start small: 10 minutes a day of jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks, playing frisbee, kicking the ball back and forth with my kid — something to get my heart pumping. Outside if the weather is agreeable; inside when it isn’t. (Which is pretty much always around here.) If it triggers my health tracker to track my activity as Sport, it counts, in or out.

I know this monthly challenge isn’t in my goal list. But Exercise Every Day is — and I like the way Jogging in July sounds better than The Abs of July. (I’m saving the abs for August, because alliteration is always awesome.)

Friday funday, hopefully

I think I’m going to have to knock the blogging back to three times a week. Not because I don’t have enough to say — I have more to say than you ever see. No, it’s because I can’t seem to find the time to do the posts justice. And I’m getting a little tired of the list updates. I’d rather write a bit more of substance, even if that means I write less often.

I’ll have all kinds of time to write when the kids are older. But right now, I barely have time to do this list. So starting next week, I think I’m going to scale back to twice-weekly updates. If I find more time to write, well, there will just be bonus posts.

Goals

Daily meditation. I talked to Anya last night, and she’s agreed to meditate with me every day for the month of June. I’m hoping that once we’re done, she’ll be hooked on the practice and I won’t have to beg her to join me. She seemed genuinely peaceful after last night’s session — and after the day we had (more on that later), that’s a minor miracle.

Read all the things. I meant to get us library cards yesterday, but we were derailed. It’s on the list for next week.

Family fun. We had a great dinner out after our traumatic day, and went to the park afterwards. Anya then wanted to go for a walk. Good, cheap, (mostly) healthy fun. Fun does not have to cost $100. Fun does not have to be flashy. Even if I can’t work them in on a regularly scheduled basis, I’d like us to have more evenings like that.

Write. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about writing lately. Mentally writing my novel. Mapping out what I’d like to do with this blog. And I think I’ve hit up on how I want to proceed with both. But now I need to fine-tune my voice. I’m thinking of piecing together some short essays, either on this blog or on a writing-only blog. We’ll see how that pans out.

But for now, I need to get back to work. Because I want to have a little more fun this afternoon. We need some fun, after the week we’ve had.

June’s challenge: Calm

I think I mentioned this in passing, but I have challenged myself to meditate each day for a month. I’ve decided that month should be June. I’ve got a lot going on right now (seriously, just more than I can wrap my mind around, this week alone), and that’s usually a recipe for disaster where I’m concerned.

For instance, I shout a lot when I’m stressed. And now so do the kids. I know this doesn’t make me a bad parent, or even necessarily a unique one, but I can’t help but feel I’m letting them down when they yell like that. I would like to yell less — not at all would be ideal. But first I have to lower my stress levels.

I can’t change my circumstances. No matter how things pan out in the next few weeks, life’s going to be stressful for a while. If I am to attain any chill, I’m going to have to do so despite the events in my life at present. A month of meditation would do me a world of good.

It helps Anya, too. So I’m shooting for bedtime, mother-daughter meditation sessions. A bonding activity, a sleep aid, and a coping mechanism all rolled into one. Yes, please.

Ultimately, I’m hoping to ingrain this behavior into our daily routine, so that we would no more skip meditation than we would teeth brushing. But to create a habit, first you have to start it. Consider today the first step.

Five posts in five days

Yeah, I’m kind of proud of that.

But also busy, and I promised my kids I’d take the afternoon off, so I thought I’d resurrect my Friday goal update post. Except my goals have shifted since I last wrote one of these, and I have a whole bunch of goals at the moment, so I can’t possibly write updates on each. Here’s the highlights.

Goals

Daily meditation. Though I have not started my meditation challenge, I’ve meditated every day this week. It’s helping. It also appears to be helping Anya. Still hoping I can turn this into our thing. 

Family game night. We’ve actually had a few of these. Kai has shown increasing interest in playing games. And then loses interest, because games are long and he is 2. But I am encouraged; perhaps he will be the push we need to game as a family.

Eating. Nobody is into it right now. I’m still in stressy not-eating mode. The rest of my household would rather snack. So I’m just trying to make sure we have healthy snacks for them. Meals will come later…but it may be fall.

Bedtime routine. I’m trying to steer us toward a better bedtime routine: Medicine, teeth, shower, story time, meditation, then TV. Because by the time we get to the meditation part, Anya’s falling asleep. (Kai is still napping erratically; we probably won’t get him into a regular bedtime til we fix that.) It’s a work in progress, but progress is being made.

Exercise 30 minutes per day. Not every day, but more this week than I have been. The weather’s been beautiful, though, so that’s been easy. June-August will likely be another story entirely.

Work with the kids on their letters/numbers/sounds. Anya got a wonderful report card yesterday! She went from only having mastered about half of what she was expected to know to knowing nearly all of it. This after having missed literally half the school year. I’m amazed at her resilience, and how quickly she’s learned.

She’s still struggling with speech, and her IEP report card wasn’t as wonderful as her pre-K one, but she’s doing a great job considering how many speech classes she missed. Practice is really helping. I’m also making sure some of the books we read are short and repetitive, so she becomes familiar with the look of the words, because that helps her figure out what sounds she’s missing.

Kai, too, is picking up what I’m putting down. We practice letters and numbers (which I’ve written on the shower wall in bath crayon, for visual reference), body parts (joints are hard, but he’s got the main pieces down), and I’m starting to throw some colors in there. The trick with both kids is short sessions every day. Neither of them have the patience for long lessons, but five minutes here and there makes a huge difference.

Blog regularly. Five posts in five days is serious improvement over my recent posting (non)schedule.

Rethinking how I manage my goals

I’ve been putting some thought into how I want to manage my goals. I keep seeing posts (usually written by young white dudes in startups, so grab the salt shaker) about how important it is to stop thinking and just do, but thinking is my thing. When I get impulsive, I make mistakes. Carefully thought-out steps towards a well-considered goal serve me much better.

There was a time when I did all my goal work on 43t. At one point I even had two accounts because I was doing more than 43 things, but I eventually pared it down. Then 43t closed and I moved to Popclogs, which offers an unlimited list. And now 43t is back and I have too much stuff to fit in one list again. I might have enough for three lists at this point.

For now, I will continue to use both sites. (And post touch-base updates here, because I sense a shift in how I approach goal work taking place and I want to document it.) Since I’m doing the “43 things” goal, I’ll track those items on 43t. But I have other goals I want to keep, on both sites, so anything I’ve put on 43t that’s not one of my 43 things will need to move to Popclogs.

I see myself using Popclogs for three types of goals:

  1. Immediate/housekeeping/bootcamp goals: Things like clutter purges and spring cleans, as well as working out the logistics of balancing my fledgling routines.
  2. Long-range, wish-listy goals: My “someday” list
  3. Diary-type goals: Gratitudes, rants, and everything in between.

Once this year is up, I’ll re-evaluate and see if I want to continue maintaining these lists in this way.

I’ve thought a lot about productivity in the past few years, and I’ve come to realize two things:

  1. I don’t want to limit my goals list to to-do lists and basic housekeeping tasks; I want to push myself to accomplish more.
  2. That doesn’t mean I don’t need somewhere to track my to-do lists and basic housekeeping tasks.

Also, I should add a third item: I don’t want to disregard my someday list, because while my focus is on the here and now, I think it’s good to keep some long-range goals in your peripheral vision.

So. Yes, I did just post a post about what I’m thinking I’ll post at some (as-yet-determined) point. Forgive me. Sometimes I need to think about thinking.

I am doing 43 things

Two posts in two days. Imagine that.

Actually, I’m cross-posting this from 43t; I don’t have that much free time today. And I wanted to get this stuff down so I can think about it, and write about it, and hopefully even do it.

As I think I mentioned somewhere, I want to do 43 things in my 43rd year. I’m adding the caveat that they can’t be boring things, like “spring clean my house!” or “purge my closet!” that I’ve done time and again and simply feel like I should do them to be a good person or whatever. These are things I want to do to say I’ve done them (projects), or because doing them will help me progress in other goals (challenges), or because establishing that routine will have a lasting impact on my life (habits), or simply because I want to do something nice for myself once in a while.

Some of these list items require explanation, and I’ll provide that in later posts. Which means I have plenty of fodder to help me achieve #31.

My overall goal with this list is not just to do 43 things for the sake of doing them, but to look back over this year next May and see that I’ve made progress instead of simply keeping the plates spinning. I have no illusions that this is going to be hard; as much as the kids have been sick this past year, at times everything has fallen apart, and I have had zero time and energy left over for extras. But I don’t want to look back on my life and see that I spent my time cleaning and shopping and watching TV. I want to do as much as I can with the time I’ve been given, and nurture the blessings in my life rather than squander them.

In that spirit, here’s my list of 43 things.

Challenges
1 Complete an ab month
2 Complete a meditation month
3 Complete 43 things in my 43rd year

Health
4 Be able to run a mile
5 Meditate every day
6 Exercise 30 minutes per day
7 Cook a meal using ingredients I grew myself
8 Have family dinners 4+ nights a week
9 Discover 10 healthy meal recipes the kids will eat

Family
10 Read to the kids for 20 minutes each day
11 Help Anya with her speech 5 minutes each day
12 Work with Kai on letters, numbers, and word sounds 5 minutes a day
13 Have art time with the kids once a week
14 Introduce my kids to the library
15 Start a family heirloom collection
16 Have a weekly family game night
17 Make time for R (a monthly date night would be ideal)
18 Resume monthly family outings
19 Get married
20 Have an awesome familymoon

Projects
21 Improve my home’s curb appeal
22 Clean out the garage
23 Tidy up the deck (and nag the landlord about getting it replaced)
24 Complete my 2017 scrapbook
25 Rip my CD collection and reclaim that shelf
26 Finish Anya’s blanket
27 Complete a Duolingo course
28 Put together photos for photo books

New Habits
29 Fine-tune our morning and bedtime routines
30 Refine and expand our recycling routine

Create
31 Blog regularly
32 Finish my NaNoWriMo book
33 Create 10 drawings I’m proud of

Career/Money
34 Brush up on my ID/PS/IL skills
35 Identify and take classes that will help with my career
36 Piece together sufficient freelance work/obtain full-time employment
37 Stabilize my finances
38 Put the same name on all of my credit cards
39 Put together a portfolio website

Foster Joy
40 Read one book a month
41 Grow flowers
42 Make time for friends
43 Have one do-nothing day per month