2018 Summary + 2019 Plans

I am always a bit behind the rest of the world at the start of the year as we celebrate through Epiphany which is the 6th of January. So as I write this on the 9th my house is in transition from Christmas to winter with half filled totes and piles of decorations scattered throughout. I have “officially” started on my 2019 goals this week which means I need to finish with 2018!

2018

My aspirations of 2018 were simple: be healthier and be happier. Since I had such vague goals I had vague results. But I do feel like I learned a lot and made progress. Habits I am keeping include meditation, taking calcium, psyllium husk and melatonin and going low carb.

I feel like most of my unhappiness is directly related to sleep and energy issues. Due to impending menopause I only have so much control (if any!) over these two areas. The melatonin and calcium do help with sleep and hot flashes.

Last August I tried my hand at eating low carb and was amazed at how good I felt. Now it may have been a hormonally timed fluke but I don’t think so. So as of 7 January I am going low carb for as long as I can handle it. Even if I don’t get a repeat of the ‘miracle in August’ everything I have read points to low carb being a much healthier way of eating with lots of benefits.

2019

For 2019 I suppose my goals remain the same, be healthier and be happier. Low carb will handle the healthier part. Be happier has more pieces.

  • This year I have made a list in my Bullet Journal: “What do I want my life to look like 1 Dec 2019?”
    • Be writing on a regular basis
    • Get my son’s room de-cluttered and redone (paint, new furniture that works better, area rug)
    • Feel content with my current life
    • De-clutter the garage
    • Have more energy (this is where the low carb comes in)
    • Do more things that make me happy and fewer things that make me unhappy

I have steps and timelines and plans on how to achieve my goals this year. I’ll start with small, steady steps. I have promised myself to reevaluate on a regular basis (which I find myself already doing!) and be open to making changes as I decide what is working and what isn’t. And I will not let myself get totally derailed by a bad day or two.

I can’t forget that just because I want to feel better and do more means that I will magically be done with the insanity of getting to menopause.

  • Another list: “What to do when I am feeling unbearably, hormonally crabby or crappy?”
    • take a nap
    • watch a comedy
    • meditate
    • stare out the window
    • whatever I damn well feel like doing!

I guess that about sums things up. Up next, my word for the year!

One of my last non-low carb meals, oatmeal on a cold morning!

How to Handle Sweet Treats

My two Whole30 goals were to stop snacking, especially on sweet things and get back into my weight window. I accomplished both of those in 25 days.

If my goal was to make eating simply something you do to fuel your body I would have succeeded there too.  The Whole30 really sucked the joy out of meals.  For me food is a big part of holidays and special occasions.  What I hadn’t realized was how important meals were to day to day family life.  That doesn’t mean the meals need to be unhealthy but it does mean we all need to sit down to the same meal.  I don’t know why this is and it doesn’t seem logical but it is the way I feel.

Would I do a Whole30 again?  Yes, if that is what it took to get me off the sugar train or regain control of snacking.  But I am hoping another Whole30 won’t be necessary. (I am pretty sure I say that every time!)

I thought a lot about how to keep to my goals post Whole30 in regards to baked treats and candy.   It is not enough to say I am going to eat less candy or have fewer desserts.  I needed to be concrete with my limits or “Smart”.

S – specific

M– measurable

A -achievable

R– results focused (or in this case realistic)

T– time-bound

I don’t want junk food to be an all or nothing proposition.  I don’t want to mindlessly inhale crap without even tasting it.   I want cake and cookies to truly feel like a treat.  I want to enjoy baked goods or candy like it is something special. Like when I was a kid.

Growing up we only had cake at birthdays, pie on holidays and candy at Halloween and Christmas.  The rest of the year we sometimes got homemade cookies and occasionally pudding or jello or ice cream.  That was it. Oh, and when my Dad worked Saturday nights (he was a firefighter) sometimes he would bring doughnuts home on Sunday morning.  That was always a big deal!

My dessert tracking page

Keeping all that in mind I decided to limit myself to one sweet dessert or treat item a week.  That seemed realistic.  And it had to be homemade (except for ice cream).  I set up a page in my Bullet Journal to keep track.  I picked Sunday as the day the week would start.  I marked the weeks off and made notes about holidays or occasions that fell during that week. I had a plan…

A plan that I am not following at all.  I am still not snacking and I am still eating way less sweets but I am not limiting myself to just one a week.  Turns out it was not a realistic goal.  But I didn’t  throw in the towel completely.

I am being very mindful about what I eat. Crazy hormones are still a problem but I try to remain cognizant of what is going on physically and emotionally at any given moment. A few times I have taken a nap instead of mindlessly shoving junk food in my face. I am doing quite well with only eating when I am hungry.

I started tracking desserts yesterday in order to maintain my mindfulness and to keep from returning to my old habits. I’ll make a little slash mark on my tracker for each sweet treat consumed and for now I am writing down each treat I eat. Still sticking with the must be homemade rule.

My plan and intentions are a little different that what I had hoped for. But it is still a goal and one I will hopefully achieve without making myself miserable or gaining too much weight. Here goes nothing!

Coloring meditation, how to have my treats without the calories!

 

 

 

Celebrate a Small Victory

Today you keep a promise to yourself. Today take that first step towards something, anything. Do a few pushups, write one page of a novel, set up an art studio in a corner of your home. Eat a salad for lunch, whatever. Take one small step towards a goal TODAY. And when you go to bed tonight reflect on it, feel happy about it, maybe even make a plan for tomorrow. All goals are met one small step at a time. Today celebrate taking that first step. Hopefully the first step of many.

Cantaloupe plants!

My son always wants to try and grow vegetables or fruits. I explain how hard it is here in the desert weather, in our small yard,  blah blah blah.  This year I let him pick out some seeds and we put them in a pot.  Will they survive the heat to actually produce fruit? Maybe, maybe not. But we took the first step and my son is happy.  And I am happy too. Who knows, maybe we will be eating cantaloupe in a few months!

Musings on March

Remember how I had a plan for the month of March?   The first half of the month went really well as I wrote in my mid-month update.  But after that things rather fell apart.

I had finished a very rough first draft but I was at a crossroads.  My characters had built their own lives and the short story idea wasn’t working out with the plot lines very well.   I loved the plot that had developed but now I didn’t know how to make it work as a series of interconnected short stories.  So I dithered a bit and finally took a day off to consider the situation: novel or short stories?

While dithering about the writing was going on family life was intruding upon my writing time.  And then physical issues butted in and I confess:  I gave up. For now.

The good news is I loved doing the writing.  In the near future I plan to keep experimenting until I find a writing plan that works for my life, right now.

What did I learn?

  1.  Writing everyday is not for me.  Weekends were especially difficult.  I am a parent and parenting often takes precedence over everything else.
  2. Having a spreadsheet “yelling” at me that I was behind on my word count was not helpful.  I do much better with goals of completing scenes.
  3. But I do like the idea of seeing my word count progress divided up by writing session.  So I am making my own spreadsheet that I can adapt to my writing style/goals.
  4. Writing while walking on the treadmill was very helpful, really kept me focused. (I am walking as I write this!)

 

Since March ended up being about a lot more than writing let’s talk thyroid and menopause and allergies.  Yes the triple headed monster has re-emerged.  The first half of the month I did some excellent healthy eating, I was sleeping well and I felt like I had my allergies under control with the right combination of meds.

And then poof!  Total exhaustion, short tempered and eating everything in sight.  I went straight from my period to PMS to having another period ten days later.  So peri-menopause?  Of which I can do nothing about.  Or thyroid?

As luck would have it my prescription is due for renewal so I got my thyroid level checked this week and it is higher but still in the “normal” range.  But looking at my results on-line and looking at levels from the past five years I noticed (again) the pattern of how my TSH is always higher in the spring. So the doctor is renewing my meds at the same dosage but I will be secretly (don’t tell my doctor!) upping my dosage for the next two months or so during allergy season. (My prescription is filled via mail order and somehow I have ended up with an extra bottle. I have no idea how.) And we will see if I feel better in the next week or so. If I don’t feel better I guess that means it is menopause and you will find me on the couch in stretchy pants eating junk food.

As for the allergies my meds seem to be working pretty well.  My only issue is a bit of post nasal drip which leaves me with a bit of a sore throat some days.  I can live with that.

Not the March I had imagined for myself, but life is like that. It was a good experiment though.

Tune in tomorrow for an April surprise!

 

2016 Clean up Plan Update

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Random photo from the month I am currently purging. I have always liked this shot.

I thought about the Wednesday HodgePodge Post but frankly the questions this week didn’t interest me very much. Maybe next week.

Instead a quick update on my goals progress.  This year I made a list of twelve areas to clean and so far I have been cruising right along.  I have four items left:  clean out file cabinet and shred again, and purge my digital photos and figure out a back up storage option (most likely on-line).

I have four years of photos on my computer, over 4700 photos!  That is a lot of photos and the task felt quite overwhelming when I started.  Oddly enough now it is one of my favorite parts of the day.  Each day I set the timer for ten minutes and start purging.  Sometimes it is easy, a photo is blurry or just not a good shot. Or it is a photo I took for a blog post or Facebook and no longer need.  Often I take a few shots of the same thing and now I have to figure out which one I like best.  Or on a few occasions I have a series of photos of my son making weird faces.  Hmm.  I just go with my instincts and if I am hesitant I keep it, at least for now.

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I love this shot  of  the elephants at the Reid Park Zoo with a C-130 from the military base above them.

I am curious to see how many photos I end up with when I am done with the purge. It is slow going but I don’t mind, I get to take a trip down memory lane each day!  And I know once school starts in mid-August I can increase my time for the project, hopefully to twenty or thirty minutes most days.

I have decided I also need to organize all these photos somehow.  I am thinking of adding some key words and sorting them into different albums.  Maybe all the camping photos in one, Christmas in another etc.  We’ll see how long the initial purge takes first.  I mean, it would be terrible if I did not get to clean out the file cabinet this year! 🙂

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It is terribly hot here these days so I thought one last picture to cool things off.  This was taken at the Grand Canyon,  April 2013 over “Spring Break”. 

G is for Goals

A quick update on how I am doing on acquiring new habits for 2016 and my twelve areas to clean.

Around mid-March I realized I had lost sight of my goals for the year. I think this was because they are written in my bullet journal and I had started writing my daily task list in my day planner. I sat down with my lists and refreshed my memory.

First the cleaning list. I actually had four tasks already done (all associated with clearing out and organizing the garage) so I was ahead of schedule. But several of the tasks left could be rather time consuming so it is best if I don’t slack off. I decided to tackle the shredding. It only took two weeks of 10 to 15 minutes a day and I was done. Another task crossed off.

Next up will be working on my photos. I have the latest batch of printed photos to post in an album and I plan to do that next week. The more herculean task will be to label, group and purge all my on-line photos. I have more than 4,000 so this is going to take some time. I will have to spend say 15 minutes a day or maybe do a month at a time. Once I get started hopefully a good method will present itself.

On the habits side I am making progress.  Slow progress, but progress.  Some habits are very hard to get to stick.  Any interruption to the routine and I have the unhappy task of starting all over.  I would be referring specifically to my healthy eating goal. Right now I am on day five of the Whole30 and it is going well.  I will give details when we hit “W” which will be towards the end of the 30 days.

For March and now April I started a task tracker in my bullet journal for these four things:  walking 10k steps a day, 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time each morning, working on my upper arms and in March it was doing the shred and now in April it is meeting my blogging challenge.  I’ll add the photo work once it begins.

I have been doing excellent on my 10k steps a day typically getting in between 11k and 13k steps.  But now I have hit a hiccup, my treadmill needs to be fixed.  I love doing my writing while walking.  It seems to help hold my attention and I love accomplishing two big tasks at the same time.

Now I am scrambling to think of ways to get all those steps in.  If I walk my neighborhood loop it is 1,000 steps, boring but easily doable when the weather cooperates.  So I am trying to create a new routine where I walk a loop or two after lunch and after dinner.  We’ll see.  With walking the dog in the morning and walking to get my son from school I should be close to 10k steps.  I am also considering dropping my goal to 8k steps, just until the treadmill is fixed. If it even can be fixed, still researching that.  I won’t be very happy if I have to replace it.

While not officially meditation I have learned to greatly appreciate taking ten to fifteen minutes each morning to plan my day, sit quietly and maybe do a little needlework.  I am finding it very soothing and when I can’t do it it seems like my whole day feels a bit rushed.

In addition to walking I wanted to add some other type of exercise.  I have decided to work on my arms which are starting to get kind of um, flabby.  So each day I take a few minutes to do a few pushups and/or use my hand weights to do a series of exercises.

I feel like my plate is full enough for April with the A to Z blogging challenge and the Whole 30. Mid- May is when my son gets out of school so a whole new routine will have to develop then. I am hoping to remain flexible so that I don’t completely lose sight of my goals over the summer break.

 

Changes (Part III)

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I cannot believe how the snow has lingered on the Catalina Mountains!

In my continuing quest to make 2016 a really good year I decided I need to take better care of myself. I have my list of habits to work on and I am becoming more aware of just how much of an impact my thyroid issue has on my life.  I came up with the crazy idea to set aside more time just for me.  From 8:30a to 2:00p, Tuesday through Friday to be specific.

It seems a huge amount of time, 22 hours to be exact, but as a mom there are no weekends or holidays or even time in the evenings to relax.  I have become crabby and frustrated and bored with life.  I considered going back to work but that is not what I really want to do.  I want to be here for my son after school and on holidays.  I don’t want to even think about trying to juggle three schedules while planning vacations and camping trips.

But I need a change.  I am tired of cleaning up after my husband and son who are both slobs. I don’t mind the dusting and vacuuming but the unending piles of stuff left everywhere should not be just my problem.   I am also doing all the cooking and laundry and after meal clean up. I have felt like because I am home all day I have to do all the household stuff.  Enough is enough though.  So I am going to try something different.  I will still cook and clean and pay the bills, but I won’t be doing everything alone. I suspect it will take a fair amount of time to make running this home more of a family event,  but having them see all that I do will be a good start.  The idea is that I will feel happier having taken care of myself and I will be able to gently and nicely ask for help with small tasks.

This is another reason I wanted to move my office back upstairs into a room with a door.  I can retreat into my cocoon and work on projects, meditate, read and write.  I will have time to exercise or go for longer walks. I will need to learn to ignore all the things that need to be done around the house, at least for a few hours.

Honestly, I have no idea how this is going to work.   I have to admit I am  excited about the idea though.  I keep thinking of new projects I want to do. Will I be able to place my needs ahead of the household for a that many hours a week?  All I can do is try and see what happens. I might need you to send me a bit courage and perseverance for this one!

Goals for 2016

After a bit of thinking and a lot of doodling I have come up with THE LIST. Since I won’t be starting until mid-January there may still be some tweaks but for the most part this is what I am going with.  They are in no particular order and I will be implementing these habit changes one at a time using the “Zen Habits” method.  I doubt they will all get done, actually if I have just two or three new habits firmly entrenched by the end of the year I will call it success.

  •  Improve eating habits
    • reduce grain intake and search for healthier grains
    • keep sugar intake low
    • avoid chemicals, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
  • Steps
    • experiment with grain free recipes
    • eliminate processed treats (no more store bought cookies, desserts etc)
    • decide ahead of time when I am going to break my rules and keep track

Goal: better sleep, better mood, less joint pain

@ I am already doing most of these things to some degree but I want to try a little harder.  I have begun looking up all the ingredients on things like crackers and cereals and researching to find the healthiest flours.

  • Increase my physical activity
    • longer walks with dog (10k steps per day goal)
    • yoga
    • jump rope
    • biking
    • hand weights
  • Steps
    • create a schedule
    • start small

Goal:  better sleep, better mood, tone muscles, increase upper arm strength

@ this one is going to be tough because I don’t really like to exercise. I also need to be flexible and adjust my routine to fit the time of year.  Swimming in the summer instead of walking for example.  But this is where the Zen Habits will be very helpful.

  • Meditation
    • two 5 to 10 minute sessions per day
  • Steps
    • start small
    • be patient with myself

@ I had already started on this goal, I thought it would be a good one to give the “Zen Habits” method a practice run with.  But then I got sick and now I need to start over.  Such is life.

Goal:  peace of mind, better focus

  • Writing
    • finish writing something, anything
  • Steps
    • set time or word count goal
    • investigate entering some contests

Goal:  to write enough that I can think of myself as an author, to feel a sense of purpose, to add another dimension to my day.

  • Photography
    • take better photos
  • Steps
    • watch a Great Courses DVD I bought this year
    • read blogs about taking photos
    • look into photo editing software

Goal: become a more knowledgeable photographer

@ I enjoy taking nature photos and am ready to up my game.  The last few years I have made myself a calendar and I want 2017’s to be fabulous!

Hopefully I will have the patience to take my time and attend to each new habit properly.  This time next year my days will look very different if I am successful.  I am looking forward to change, feeling better and discovering who I can be in this next phase of my life.

 

Half the Year Gone!

Since six months have gone by I decided it was time to look at my goals for the year and see how I am doing.
It took a few days after vacation to get back into our routine but now things are going well again. I am feeling better, sleeping well and realized my extreme crabbiness was simple PMS. (Possibly exacerbated by less than great eating choices over vacation.) I still made my doctor’s appointment for my regular annual exam in mid-August. I am going to start a list of questions to take with me so I don’t forget anything.
My goals for this year:
Write every day: Rather on hold until school starts up again but I am reading blogs and writing down a game plan of different things to incorporate or try to help make me a successful writer if not a published author.

Don’t be afraid to use things: I feel like I am doing okay with this one.

Play before work at least sometimes: I am actually doing pretty well with this one now that it is summer vacation. Pool time has been trumping making dinner at our normal time and keeping the meal really simple. Often I make some sort of cold side dish in the morning (cole slaw, macaroni salad etc) and have my husband grill something when he gets home. We have also been eating a lot of carrot sticks and cucumber slices, even easier than a salad!

Take 5 minutes everyday to just sit: I have been doing very well with this one. I usually wake up early and I go outside and water the plants and then just sit for a few minutes. I also spend time floating around the pool admiring the clouds or sit under the patio during thunderstorms. (The monsoons have come early this year. Seems like thunder chases us out of the pool every afternoon for awhile though the rain so far has been spotty.)

Healthy eating: This will always be a work in progress but we have been making progress. I rather gave up on the Farmer’s Market. I am not sure why I find it so hard to go but I recognize a lost cause when I see it. Instead I signed up for a CSA and my first pick up is this week. More on that in a later post. I also just bought a Nutribullet to make smoothies. So far I love it and am excited about trying lots of different combinations of fruits and veggies. More about that when I have had more time with it.

Exercise:  I resumed my yoga and jump roping  no problem after vacation.  Plus I swim most days and try and spend 10-15 minutes swimming back and forth with minimal stops.  Hopefully I will be able to see the difference in my arms by the end of the summer.

Purging:  I am still making small advances in downsizing my possessions.  Lately I have been  working on my wardrobe.  I browsed a few blogs searching for a what an almost 50, stay at home mom should be wearing.  The prevailing theme seemed to be mix and match with just a few pieces of good quality that fit well and you are supposed to pick a basic color palette.  While I am not ready to commit to having just 6 tops and 6 bottoms like one person,  I am working on purging those items I may wear but don’t really love.  (I read a good tip that said don’t go by if you wear something but ask would you buy that article of clothing today.)  I am being cognizant of the outfits I really like and that make me feel good and those I wear that make me feel meh or that I don’t really want to leave the house in.

I am also starting to look around my office for what I love and use and what I have simply because I have it.  On deck this week for purging is the laundry room.  I did the games and puzzles earlier this year but looking around I can see more miscellaneous items that can go.

Some random bits to update:

The new bedroom closet organization has grown on me and is working very well.

Relishing reading my Agatha Christies.  Love being able to browse my own shelves to find one that suits my mood.

I am really enjoying church and signed up again to donate a dessert for the men’s shelter in July.

I got a new hairstyle and I LOVE it!

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HAPPY SUMMER!!

Three months into the year

I thought it would be best to check in on my New Year pursuits.

1. Write every day. So-so.  I am posting regularly but other writing not so much.  My focus of late has  been more on setting up healthier lifestyle habits.  I hope to write more as the year progresses.  I am starting to think I really need to take a writing class, I have a lot to learn about writing and now realize I need some help.
2. Don’t be afraid to use things up. I am putting more stickers and notes in my son’s lunch. We used up a bunch of things making Valentine bookmarks. I have another project in mind once I finish my current project.  I give myself a thumbs up for this goal.
3. Play before work. This one still needs some energy but I am working on it.  Probably a C.
4. Take 5 minutes everyday to just sit. This one is surprisingly tough. I have managed it a few days but still needs a lot of work. Truthfully, an epic fail.

I am doing well with yoga and walking the dog and back on track with healthy eating after a rough first 6 weeks of the year. Still not visiting the Farmer’s Market. I think if it was closer I would be more inclined to go.  Once my son’s  bowling league finishes the end of April I am hoping to develop the habit of going on Saturday mornings.

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Still purging. The garage got straightened up.   I have made  three trips to Goodwill so far this year and sold 18 of my LOA books to Powell’s on-line. I also went through all the recipes I have cut out for the past year. I purged a bunch and the one’s I still want to try I went ahead and pasted in my books. Obviously the keep them in the sleeve until I tried them method wasn’t working very well. I also moved the box of shred and shredder from the garage to the family room.  My son and I do shredding in ten minute intervals as the mood strikes.  Once the box is empty I will move it next to the file cabinet and begin to fill it back up.

Overall I am pretty happy with my progress so far this year. I have made progress of some sort with all my pursuits and that is all that I ask of myself.