Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Results

I'm just going to cut to the chase and break it down.

Lose weight, be slimmer, get stronger.
1. Add 30 minutes of activity to every day: Low Success
2. Go on one hike: Success
3. Eat Paleo style more often: Low Success
4. Eat out only once per week: Low Success
Measurement: Lose five pounds.  Starting 192.  Yesterday (because I forgot this morning) 188, or -4 pounds.

Thoughts: I *suck* at this stuff.  It was an overemotional month for me, and I deal with emotions by eating things I know are bad for my health and bad for my wallet.  I cannot help myself.  And if you deny me, I turn into a temper-tantrum-throwing-toddler.  Really.  It's not pretty.  And horrendously embarrassing.  I've been better the last couple days, but for February I need to change tactics obviously.

More yoga, more consistently.
1. Do 3 sun salutations every morning: High Success
2. Resume hosting classes once per week: Low Success
3. Attend one studio class twice per month: No Success
4. Do at least one private one hour intensive once per week: No Success

Another big fail for me, except on the sun salutations. I didn't do them every day, but I have done them almost every day.  I'm rethinking classes and my reasons for doing yoga; and money hasn't been available for formal classes (see above), so I don't feel too bad about these.  I'm doing a little every day and that's better than nothing.  I still want to see more improvement.

Garden more.
I'm not even going to list anything because I did NOTHING gardening-wise this month.  Jeff did all the hard work.  Still I sit on the back porch and fantasize about having a beautiful lush something.  Honestly, I kind of just want to plant baby plants rather than start seeds so I might hold off until I have $20 to spend on something ready to go outside.  Seedlings are hard to do with kittehs that like to eat the baby greens.  Ebil kittehs.

Explore artistic endeavors.
1. Spend 1 to 2 hours everyday writing: High Success
2. Always have a project in hand while watching television: High Success
3. Dance drills: No success
4. Complete 4 short stories: Success
5. Outline 2 potential collections: Success

I consolidated my "Break out with some fiction" goal here because it made sense.  First with the writing, this has gone very, very well.  I find if I'm in a rotten mood (which has been often this month) after I've switched gears to writing, it's like I see the world through rose-colored glasses.  It's very bipolar (although, I'm not).  It's like running, it's hard to be in a bad mood after I've done it.  I don't know, but YAY regardless.  Yes, I completed 4 stories.  Yes, I completed 2 outlines.  Yes, I *am* badass.  I didn't write every single day, but it doesn't matter, I feel pretty solid about the time I have made and my ability to focus on it.

Dance drills, see the top goals.  Non-existent.  Re-evaluating what I want here.  Projects with television have been a success.  I always keep something in my purse.  I'm almost finished with the huge scarf project I took on last year, it's a pity we have late spring-like weather in January.  I'm afraid the future owner will have to wait another year before being able to enjoy the beautiful creation.  I've been busting my poor little hands to make this NOT the case, but it's the scarf that never ends!

Reduce clutter.
1. Yard sale: Success.  HUGE success, even.
2. Follow organizing calendar every day: No Success
3. Freeze purchasing: High Success

Yard sale helped us get caught up on bills, totally awesome.  Jeff has been posting and reposting items that didn't sell (or didn't get picked up) on Craigslist with some success.  Every day I find things I no longer need and get rid of them accordingly.  Some things are sold, some things are given lovingly to friends who could better use them.  Either way it's a constant process.  That being said, not worried that I'm not keeping up with the calendar since I'm already self-motivated.  It was just a tool to give me ideas, and I haven't needed to use it yet.  Purchasing has been good since we don't have money to spend.  And when we do, we use it on meals out :(

There were other items on my list, but they deserve their own post. Hopefully I will be better about posting in February than I was this past month.  Writing elsewhere just took me away from here.

Have you checked in with yourself?  Are you being honest about your progress and actions?  I'd love to hear how others are coming along!

Friday, January 20, 2012

January Mid-Month Update

I meant to post this on Monday, but I had a rough couple days, followed by days catching up, and so on.  I've been busy whittling away at old stuff more than I've been starting new stuff.  There's something about embarking on new projects and directions that seems unnatural when there's old stuff waiting for closure.

The yard sale was a big part of that push towards tying up loose ends.  But I didn't stop there.  Nearly every day I evaluate the objects I interact with, especially if the interaction only means moving unused stuff out of the way to get to well used stuff.  I wish I had before and after shots of just my medicine cabinet.  I cleared out about half of the crap in there one morning getting ready for work (Jeff had ONE personal item in the whole cabinet) and now it's all spacious and pretty.  Jeff now has TWO personal items in the cabinet!  Hey, that's a 100% increase!  LOL

So I'm still in purging mode, but I'm trying to decide how to use all the space I'm creating.  I want to move things from one room to another, but I'm having trouble finding an arrangement I think will work.  Part of me hates to leave a space completely unused, but that's the downside to having too much house, I suppose.  I'm mostly thinking with my fingers now, so I'll stop babbling and get on with my check-in!

The goals I set for this month are covered here.

Category: Physical
(1) Lose weight, be slimmer, get stronger.
Successes: I'm down 3 pounds (half way to my 5 pound goal); we went on a brief family hike in Wonder Valley

Needs Improvement: Struggling to get into a consistent habit tracking activity and food through myfitnesspal.com.  I try to go back in time and back fill, but it's daunting and time consuming.  Now I just try to update when I remember.  Also, getting started on exercise is mostly non-existent, aside from yoga.  I need to remember that even if I just go for a five minute jog once per week, that five minutes more than I was last week.  Changing the diet is going well, but I'm just not satisfied with where I'm at yet.

(2) More yoga, more consistently
Successes: 3 sun salutations every morning! Boo yah!  I've also decided to focus on one specific pose per month.  Camel pose!

Needs Improvement: I haven't been able to resume classes due to my personal schedule.  Giving this a lot of thought.  Also, can't afford studio sessions, just a situational hazard, it will improve with time.January mini actions:

Category: Lifestyle
(1) Garden more
Successes: Getting Jeff to do garden work!

Needs Improvement: I need to start seeds and dig my hole, probably will do tomorrow as well as some generally maintenance.

(2) Be more active
Successes: making opportunities to get up and get moving rather than making lunch/dinner dates or sitting around watching television.

(3) 2012 Goal: Explore Artistic Endeavors
Successes: Doing well on the writing, although some days are better than others, I'm maintaining consistency.  I've been hammering away at a large commissioned project and I'm getting closer to finishing; changing to shorter needles helped A LOT.

Needs Improvement: Dance drills.  What dance drills?  I'm finding I'm missing bellydance quite a bit so I need to make time for it (and I have plenty of time, I'm just not using it).

(4) 2012 Goal: Reduce clutter
Successes: I'm so obsessed with this right now.  I think once reduction becomes more of a maintenance activity than a major purge, other goals and activities will fall into place.

Needs Improvement: nothing, I think this is going swimmingly.

Category: Romance
(1) Spend more time with my sweetheart
Successes: So far this is going really well.  Making an effort to spend more quality time with Jeff makes everything in our relationship run more smoothly.  This weekend is our date weekend, but he's letting me have some alone time to focus on some creative projects, but I won't let that consume my entire date weekend with him.

Needs Improvement: I'm harboring some resentment because I want to stay home all day and work on my home, my projects, and myself, but instead I have to go to a day job and earn a paycheck to keep a roof over our heads and bill collectors at bay.  I can't help our situation, I'm doing all I can to earn extra money on the side (plus overtime as needed) and take care of myself so I don't miss too much work from flare-ups, etc.  I need to find better outlets for my frustration and stop misdirecting my emotions.

Category: Spirituality
(1) Meditate more
Successes: So far so good, at least 10 minutes a day, usually in the morning.

Needs Improvement: I have had a lot of anxiety all month.  I'm having trouble breathing properly all the time and staying focused on one thing at a time.  I'm too excited (in the good and bad sense of the word) to sit still most days.  I'm hoping regular meditation practice THROUGHOUT the day helps with this.  Also, sometimes I find myself jumping around, I have to drop everything and go back and finish the first thing.  

(2) Do more spiritual stuff
Successes: Decluttered the fireplace and mantle and setup a devotional area.  I usually do morning prayers after my meditation.

Needs Improvement: I feel like I should have more to say, but it's kind of a personal category.  

Category: Career/Education
(5) Break out with some fiction.
Successes: Finished 3 of my 4 short stories.  Two of which are edited.  I expect to do at least two more stories and create two new outlines (each outline is 4 stories) over the weekend.  Yes, I am in fact insane.

Needs Improvement: I don't have my formula down pat yet.  I'm still struggling to meet my minimum word count, but with practice this will improve.

I'm actually really pleased with my progress so far.  I wish I would have been better about adding more exercise to the day, but getting in the habit is a muscle-building routine in its own right.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yard Sale Success!

This past Saturday was my first ever yard sale!  It was fun, but I'm so glad it's over.

Last week I laid down my intended goals for January.  Having a yard sale was one item on the list of one-off activities.  For a few months, I have been isolating items around the house that I wanted to either give away or sell.  The week leading up to the big day, I grew increasingly anxious.  Sure, I had collected and grouped things together, but those groups were still scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of my house.  All I could think about during my waking hours were all the little bits and pieces I needed to hunt down.  I fretted over remembering each teeny, tiny object in my home.  It was super exhausting.

By Tuesday or Wednesday (I forget now which), I informed Jeff that I was going to take a night off from writing and other chores and just focus on getting everything we wanted to sell into the living room.  I dumped yarn out of plastic storage bins to collect random objects.  We started in our bedroom, taking clothes, boxes, bins, everything out and analyzing what we could.  I went to the second closet that held a bunch of my random crap, things I have hoarded for years because they might be cool in a crafting project someday.  I went through each box, every bin, I threw away things that needed to be tossed, I put sale items in a plastic tub.  The process was a little stressful, but I took care not to make excuses to avoid doing what was necessary.  Jeff kept me company and occupied the cats while I kept at it.

Jeff and the boy had already done the kid's room a few days earlier, so we went ahead and moved it all down. Several trash bags and bins later, the bedroom was done.  I went into the third bedroom and decided that the specialty items it contained would need to be handled later; it wouldn't be appropriate to put these things out at a general yard sale.

We went through the entertainment room, the living room, the "dining" room, and the kitchen.  After a couple hours, we were sweaty and covered in dust.

The evening before the yard sale, we went through the garage and found twice as much crap as we did in the house.

Every time I moved through a room, I found something else that could be added to the pile.  Things that I had kept in the background for years but didn't technically use.  There were some items I wasn't ready to get rid of Thursday, but Friday I happily tossed it in the pile.  Getting rid of stuff started to become addicting.

Saturday, we started to setup in the cold dark of a January morning at 6:30.  Some asshole with his two pre-teen sons showed up at 6:45 asking about the video games I promised in a craigslist ad.  Now I had to stand and keep watch while Jeff did all the lifting and moving.  The games were for several systems and spread across a few bins since we still hadn't set up yet.  He kept asking me about the games, and I finally told him he would need to wait until we had everything out and setup at 7:00 (you know, when the ad said we would start).  He rummaged through the disorganized bins anyway and ended up leaving a few minutes later.

Fortunately, his high-holy-jerk-headedness didn't set the tone for the day.  It was slow and freezing until about 8:00, but Jeff read to me while I knitted a scarf to keep my hands busy in the quiet morning.  From about 8:30 to 10:30 there was a ton of activity and we off-loaded most of our stuff.  It was nice to have visits from friends to keep our spirits up through the morning.  By 11:30 we hadn't had any fresh faces in awhile and loaded up the left-overs into the van.

We celebrated our success with a Round Table Pizza lunch buffet before depositing our bounty in the bank and heading off to Goodwill.  We would have preferred to donate to Disabled American Vets, but we were exhausted and it was farther than we wanted to go.  I ran inside Goodwill to see if I could find a nice sweater while Jeff did the donating bit.  I came up empty handed out of the store just as he pulled up and parked.  Next we hit Target so I could get some liquid eyeliner and Jeff encouraged me to hunt down a sweater.  We only found one contestant, a jewel-tone teal that's nice and long and warm without being too drapey like my other sweater.  I would have preferred a more neutral color, but this one is nice.

Anyway, we were pooped and headed home for naps.  After long naps and a shower, we headed out to the theater, gift cards in tow, and caught the new Mission Impossible movie.  Afterwards, we shared a chicken sandwich at Red Robin, being the only restaurant open at 10pm on a Saturday.

The house was still in a state of disarray by Sunday, but we picked up what we could and Jeff vacuumed so we could do some yoga with a friend.  Through the afternoon, we had a Torchwood marathon while I worked on potential story outlines to carry me through the next month.

I still walk through the house and find things I don't want or need anymore.  I want to get rid of more, so I will be setting up a donation bin somewhere unobtrusive in the house.  When it's full we can donate it to DAV or sell more valuable pieces on craigslist.  It's a trip to think that I'm still not done purging and reorganizing.  Some things will just need a bit more time before I'm ready to let go.

I generally feel more relaxed in my home.  I still see clutter everywhere, but I feel much more prepared to release things than before.  Just taking everything off the counter in the bathroom (except for toothbrushes, handsoap, and a vanity mirror) makes getting ready at any time of day a lot less frantic.

I'm even playing with the idea of ditching the Internet at the house, but that's a blog for another day.

I'll have my mid-month progress report on my other mini-actions in a few days.  I wish everyone success in their endeavors to get 2012 off to a great start!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Goals and Stuff

Happy New Year 2012!

Frankly, I could care less about the new calendar year.  New opportunities, new starts, setting things in motion, they can be done at any time.  Today is better than tomorrow.  During the cold winter months, it's typical to start focusing inward, on yourself, on your family, on the things you really want out of life, more than any time of year.  So it makes sense to make goals and plans and plot right now.  But don't think just because the 1st has come and gone, or because Monday has already happened means that you can't still make a plan.

I spent the last half of December coming up with a list of goals and some steps I thought would help me get there.  The biggest thing I took away from 2011 as far as goal planning was to be specific and to think of steps in terms of something that can be measured.  In 2011, my goals were too abstract and while I tagged almost everything just a little bit, I didn't have any marked out to measure my success (or failures).

I split my goals into 5 categories: Physical, Lifestyle, Spiritual, Career, and Romance.  Each category contains goals that span across other categories, as it should.  For example, I have a goal to "be more active" under my Lifestyle category.  I define that as spending more time moving than I do sitting, at least during my time away from the office.  That's still really abstract, so I specified that I want to go hiking at least once a month.  This also works for a Physical goal of getting into better shape, a Spiritual goal that gets me out to commune with nature more regularly, and a Romance goal to do more activities with my sweetheart.  Booyah!

Here's my plan for 2012, and the mini actions I plan on doing to get there.  Starting with January.  I may add or subtract things as time progresses, and they should.  Don't feel bad about your plans changing half-way through the game.  Sometimes you need to make adjustments for evolution, life changes, and whatever.

Category: Physical

(1) 2012 Goal: Lose weight, be slimmer, get stronger.
January mini actions:
- Add 30 minutes of activity (dancing, walking, gaming, jogging, workout videos, whatever) every day, all at once or spread out throughout the day.
- Go on one hike.
- Make Paleo work lunches, home snacks, and at least 3 dinners.  (Exceptions being hosted dinners.)
- Eat out only once per week.
January measurement: -5 pounds (starting 192) or 75% success rate with mini actions. Using myfitnesspal.com to measure activity and weight loss.  (Note: I'm not using body measurements because I suck at taking them and I'm not using women's clothing sizes because it doesn't make sense to.)

(2) 2012 Goal: More yoga, more consistently
January mini actions:
- Do 3 sun salutations every morning.
- Resume hosting classes once per week.
- Attend one studio class twice per month (limited finances mean I have to work up on this one).
- Do at least one private (or with sweetheart) one hour intensive once per week.
January measurement: 75% success rate with mini actions.  Using myfitnesspal.com to measure activity and weight loss.  Time made for yoga activity count towards Physical Goal (1).  Because I'm cheeky like that.

Category: Lifestyle

(1) 2012 Goal: Garden more
January mini actions:
- Start seeds for yellow onions and golden beets.
- Dig small pit for composting.
- Spend 1 hour weeding and maintaining both yards each week.
January measurement: Completing all mini actions.  They're really mini.

(2) 2012 Goal: Be more active
(This is incorporated into every other goal and its mini actions.)

(3) 2012 Goal: Explore Artistic Endeavors
January mini actions:
- Spend 1 to 2 hours every day writing.
- Always have a yarn or creative project in hand when watching television (exception to this would be if cuddling is involved, it's easier to cuddle when you're not poking your sweetheart with pointy sticks, or so I'm told).
- Dance drills at least once a week (see physical goals).
January measurement: complete at least one creative project by end of the month.

(4) 2012 Goal: Reduce clutter
January mini actions:
- Follow MySimplerLife calendar each day.
- Host yard sale.
- Add intended purchases to a wishlist.  If after three months I still want or need that item, I can budget its purchase.  (Does not include household essentials.)  Anything over $50 should be discussed with sweetheart before purchase.
January measurement: Completing all mini actions.

Category: Romance

(1) 2012 Goal: Spend more time with my sweetheart
January mini actions:
- Set aside one weekend just for activities with sweetheart, whatever those are, mundane or romantic.
- Date night once a week (when step-son is over, date night becomes family night).
January measurement: Completing all mini actions.

(There's more to this category, but it's none of your business!)

Category: Spirituality

(1) 2012 Goal: Meditate more
January mini actions:
- Make 10 minutes every day for meditation.  (This can easily be paired with my yoga mini actions.)
January measurement: 75% success rate with mini action.

(2) 2012 Goal: Do more spiritual stuff
January mini actions:
- Declutter fireplace/mantle and make a devotional center.
- Go through "SS" course exercise each week
January measurement: Completing all mini actions.

Category: Career/Education

(1) 2012 Goal: Take a class in a subject of interest
(2) 2012 Goal: Get Cache certification.
(3) 2012 Goal: Get MS Certification.
(4) 2012 Goal: Update resume.
January mini actions: none
(I have too many things on my plate to get started on these. I may evolve these as the year progresses, but none are super high at the moment.  I'm too busy with other, more fun things. Also, while I have no intention of leaving my current position, I don't want to be caught unawares.  It's always good to be prepared and to keep your eyes and ears open.)

(5) 2012 Goal: Break out with some fiction.
January mini actions:
- Complete at least 4 short stories (approx 5000 words).
- Outline 2 potential collections.
January measurement: Completing all mini actions.

Maybe it looks like a lot, maybe it doesn't look like much.  At the moment, I'm pretty satisfied with my workload for the month.  Most of the mini actions lend themselves to multiple categories I am interested in improving.  What's more, I have some measurements that seem, from this standpoint, fairly realistic.  If time proves that I am wrong, then I will adjust.

Another big thing I'm going to look at is how to automate my behavior on some items.  For example, I found by leaving my yoga mat in the middle of the living room I would do yoga for at least a few minutes every day.  If I put it away, it's easier to forget so I wouldn't do yoga every day.  Little things like that.

I'm also trying to wrap up some projects I have left unfinished.  I have three projects for other people in various stages of completion.  I'm busting my ass to have those done ASAP, mostly because I don't want those projects sucking up my energy at all (I'm enjoying working on them, but if I try to work on something else, I spend more time feeling guilty about what I have yet to complete).

In other news, I deleted a bunch of draft posts I had intended to post here.  Some of them were relevant at the time and wouldn't make sense to schedule for a post now.  Also, I am going to try to put off scheduling posts.  I'm probably going to limit myself to two posts a week just to measure progress on my goals, and to chat about...well...whatever I feel is important to me at the moment.  We'll see how all that goes!

Hopefully my extrapolation on goals is helpful to someone.  It's important to break things up, make them tangible, and put yourself to it.  Remember, you don't need a New Year to start on a New You.