Sunday, January 13, 2019

Um, where to begin?

I just started and deleted three posts about the ongoing dumpster fire that is this country these days, but seriously, I can't decide where to begin, so I'll just say this: I knew it was going to be bad, potentially catastrophic, when Trump was "elected" - but I honestly didn't count on how utterly amoral and horrible and complicit in treason the Republicans are.

So yeah, for the sake of my blood pressure, let's talk about something else.

I listen to podcasts, music and sometimes audiobooks at work. My office is so quiet most of the time, the hum of the A/C puts me to sleep. I don't listen to anything too distracting because I AM working, and sometimes I'll just find an old audiobook in my library for a re-listen, mostly as background noise. Last week I picked Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny

I've listened to it before years ago, of course, so I wasn't really paying attention until a part in the book about how changing something in your home can change your life, and it pretty much kicked off my major project for 2019.

I need to find a side hustle. (Hang on, the dots will connect in a bit.) I am earning slightly less than I was earning 10 years ago, while the world continues to get more expensive. I have various ideas and talents, ranging from the professional (I could be a technical proofreader for construction, especially construction litigation depositions) to the decidedly more fun - a jewelry shop on Etsy, maybe? Maybe a blog that actually MAKES money? It could happen. Ideally, I'd like something I could do part time now and grow into an actual retirement side income in 5-7 years. So I'm somewhat casually researching and brainstorming side hustle ideas, and that plus Martha Beck's words, led me to contemplate the room I refer to as my office.

It's not an office. It's a dumping ground for all the shit I don't know what to do with, and as with many other things in my life in the last couple of years, it's gotten out of control:

Bags of unfinished knitting projects, old files of stuff like the manual for a television that died two years ago, my 5 year anniversary "award" from a company that went out of business a decade ago, lots of random in those bins.

Those plastic tubs aren't normally in the middle of the room; I dragged them out of the back of the very large walk-in closet because I had NO recollection of what was in them. I made a first pass at throwing stuff out and emptied one entire plastic tub, consolidating the stuff I'm not sure I can pitch yet. I'll go through that when I'm in a less Fuck It All frame of mind.

I did find a job offer letter from a decade ago, and discovered that my starting salary THEN was $1,000 more than I'm making NOW, and I also got profit sharing. This did nothing to improve my mood. Yeah, I need a side hustle.

And I need to reclaim this damn room, and make it a functional space for whatever I pursue, and just because this is a really nice space that is totally wasted now. I'd like a nice big work table/desk instead of that little Target thingy. That ancient futon is leaving ASAP. Our community FB page has an online sale page, and I'm listing a few items in a week or two. First I need to enlist some strong bodies to help me get the futon down to the garage, because I'm not inviting strangers into my actual home to see it and it's heavy. I don't mind living upstairs 98% of the time, but when there's something heavy that needs to be moved, it IS a pain in the ass.

I loaded Leia with a ton of stuff for Goodwill, found takers for a couple of items, and actually made a dent in the mess.

The closet is looking better already:

So turning this madwoman's attic into an attractive and functional space is my project for this spring. And this project will have its own section in my bullet journal. (It's all connected!)

In other news, I've done yoga every day of 2019, and plan to keep it going forever. WW continues to work, slowly but surely. I'm down 8 lbs since November, which is good because it's 82 today and that drawer full of tight shorts that mock me MUST fit this spring.

Oh, funny thing about yoga - as I've mentioned, I do Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. I noticed a few days ago that Ellie was watching the TV, not me, while it was on the other day. She's not a TV watcher like Sophie, so I thought it was cute but didn't think anything of it. But every day since, when I unroll the mat she comes over for pets, then hops onto the bed and watches yoga. I have no idea why; my daughter theorizes that Adriene has a very pleasant voice, maybe that's it. I'd take a picture but I'd have to stop what I'm doing to grab my phone, and I suspect if I did that I'd distract Ellie and not get the shot, so you'll have to take my word that my cat is a Yoga with Adriene fan.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Let's talk bullet journal.

If you look for synchronicity in your life, even casually, it tends to appear.  I was going to write about something I actually stuck with for the last couple of years, and it was the bullet journal. I've been asked about it and how "hard" it is, because if you Google it now, you'll find scads of artsy-fancy journals on Instagram and YouTube.  It's been artsy-fied and monetized for clicks, and yay for them for making money online when I haven't figured out how to do it.  Anyway, I'm as enchanted by the artsy lovely spreads created by artsy young'uns on Instagram and YouTube as anyone. I have some favorites I follow, because for me it's like the modern day version of Bob Ross and his happy trees.  I really enjoy the pretty bullet journal spreads, and there are some seriously talented artists doing fun things, and yay for them.  But I also had the feeling many of those who were monetizing the journal were...missing the point?

And apparently the creator of the bullet journal weighed in.

So, my point is this: the bullet journal is a tool for anyone. You don't need any artistic talent to use it. If you have the desire to make it cute and fun, go for it, but the way it's become distorted by the internet is really a disservice to what really was: a bare bones, clean and simple, get your shit together pen and paper system.

And as I was planning this post, my daughter told me she'd started a bujo. She's enjoying making it pretty, and she's way more artsy than I am.  She finds the creative stuff relaxing, and the concept useful.  She's using hers pretty much the way I do, as a to-do list for shit I think of at work that I'll forget by the time I get home, and I'm kind of excited that she's trying something her old mom likes. She'll do it her way, as I'll continue to do mine my way. Because that's the point. You don't do this for the Internet, you don't do it for a YouTube channel, you do it to organize your life. If you genuinely get pleasure out of making it pretty, by all means have at it. But if you're doing it for social media validation, you're seriously missing the point.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy Almost New Year!

 We had a very pleasant little Christmas, and I followed up by coming down with a cold that took over my brain for most of last week.  Not as bad as last year, not the flu, but what is it with me getting sick around the holidays?  I'm on the mend; I've reached the disgusting "productive cough" phase of the festivities. I was well enough yesterday to take down the Christmas decorations and reclaim my yoga space in my living room.  I had been doing yoga in my bedroom while the tree was up, but it's a bit tight there.

I have Plans for 2019; reviving this blog is one of them.   I've spent the last couple of years elsewhere online, obsessed with political Twitter, and not accomplishing all that much for ME.  I'll remain obsessed with politics, because there is NOTHING more important than saving our democracy, period, and shit's about to get even crazier in 2019. But I need to focus on myself as well.

My three self-care items:  yoga, walking, and WW.  I've been doing fairly okay, muddling along with all three, but for the month of January and beyond, I'm going to step it up and commit to goals for all three:

Yoga: Yoga with Adriene, specifically her new year January program, Dedicate.
I just printed the calendar and was happy to see that other than the first couple of sessions, the daily practices are all under 30 minutes, which means I can get them done before work.  I am much more likely to do yoga in the morning than in the evening when I get home hungry and the animals are clamoring for attention and...and...and.

Walking: WW has added guided exercise options to its app, and I'm going to start with their walk/jog component.  I can already walk a 5k with ease, but yeah, I'd like to progress to running, if my knees will let me.  I have good shoes for the first time in my life and haven't been bothered by knee pain when walking since I found the right ones for me, so we'll see if this 60 y.o. grandma can become any sort of runner.  (There, I put it out on the innerwebs for all to read, so now I have to go for it.) I commit to walking/jogging 30 minutes a day after work at least 3x a week, with a longer walk/jog on the weekend, weather permitting.  This IS Florida, after all, and so far our "dry season" has been rainy AF, with building-shaking thunder and lightning.  We had a few cool, pleasant days, but the A/C is running again.  This means my mission to get into that drawer full of shorts that are too tight is even more critical.

WW: no explanation needed, just stick with it.

Serendipitously, WW has an article this morning about goal setting, I wrote the above before I read it, but I'm accidentally doing what they said: instead of making a resolution about "getting in shape," phrase it as the 4 Ws:  What you'll do, When you'll do it, Where you'll do it, and With whom (if anyone.)  So my yoga goal for January would look like: What: Dedicate. When: every morning. Where: my living room: With: Yoga with Adriene.

 So those are my three primary self care plans for January.  I still have the no spending on non-essential crap plan, of course, and I really want to get my creative groove back, so 2019 is going to be chock full of stuff to do.

Today's missions are mundane: Leia the RAV4 still needs an oil change, the aforementioned head cold from hell led me to postpone it for a few days.  I need to plan meals and restock the fridge, and dump the rest of the lowfat eggnog.  Sophie needs to go to the vet at 1 for her annual checkup, which was postponed too long already.

Okay, 2019, I'm ready! Let's do this!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Revive Ye Olde Blogge, or Make a Fresh Start?

That is the question.  As you probably noticed, I did a bit of redecorating. I was sorting through my thousands of digital photos, which are only as organized as iPhoto's default settings (they're roughly sorted by date and otherwise a mess) when I found my old blog header from over a decade ago.  It remains one of my favorites. I still have that clunky-cute MacBook, and it still works, though of course the OS can't update. I still have that coffee mug too.

2018 is grinding to a creaking, rattling conclusion.  Parts are falling off at this point. It's a scary time, and it'll get worse before it gets better, I'm afraid.  I've spent much of the past two years engrossed in watching the national shitshow unfold, and calling, donating, writing postcards, doing what I can as a little grandma in Florida, and we HAVE made big strides toward saving democracy.  We are just days from a new Congress, and a new sheriff in town (in her badass red coat and shades), and that's a very good thing.  Staying engaged, speaking up:  that won't stop, it can't stop. My granddaughters' futures depend on what we adults do now. Hell, MY future depends on it - I'm afraid to look at my 401k right now. 

Meanwhile, while I hate that overused phrase "self care," it really is very important. I've been a bit better at that in the past year, but there's plenty of room for improvement.  I've been walking more, doing yoga semi-regularly, and in November, following my daughter's example, I rejoined WW.

I'd been a Weight Watchers online member a few years ago but  gave it up out of boredom with tracking and counting and blah blah blah. Snore.  I was intrigued by the description of their new program and they were running another one of their frequent specials, and I figured I'd give it a try.  I'm down about 7 lbs. so far, 8 lbs from my first goal, and loving it.  I don't really participate in the chatty stuff, I just track my food and activity, but it's working! It's really easy!

So WW is one thing I'll definitely take with me into the new year.  Otherwise, I'm making some changes.

I'd been thinking about this for some time when I got an email from Rachael Herron (I'm subscribed to her mailing list).  She described her 2019 plan to cut back on spending, and in the email discussed her online shopping, and the lure of Buy with One Click.  I was laughing and cringing at the same time, it sounded SO very familiar. (Hi, I'm Catherine, I have an Amazon Prime problem. And a BookBub problem. And to a lesser degree, an Etsy and Zulily problem.)   I love all of those sites, but I also have belatedly figured out that I've spent too much money, $1.99 at a time, for most of the past year. I don't drop hundreds at a time on designer clothes or handbags, I almost never eat out, I don't even buy Starbucks, but damn, I have been blind to how much I do spend on "bargains."  I mean, some are very legit bargains: I'd been looking at a particular tote bag for work for months but it was over $100, so fuhgeddaboudit, and then I found it on an online discount site for like, $24.99, and SCORE! But still, did I really, really need it?  No, I did not. It was just "too good to pass up!"

I don't just do this online.  I am also the queen of bargain hunting for BOGO cleaning products, cosmetics, etc.  I have enough toothpaste, mascara, foundation, body lotion and other grooming supplies to easily get me through much of 2019. I hereby vow to CHECK THE CABINETS before assuming I need anything, because I probably bought it and forgot it. I'll replace expired sunscreen, that is all.

I do this with crafting supplies too.  I do not need to buy any yarn, beads, markers, notebooks, etc. etc. etc. for a long time.

Rachael is going to do a year of buying less - I am too. I'm going to structure my pledge a bit differently, though - I'm going cold turkey on shopping, other than for consumable items, for the first quarter of 2019.  Why a quarter, you ask?  If you saw my sorry ass wardrobe, you'd understand. By the time the weather turns really hot again, which for us kicks in right around April, I am going to need clothes, especially if WW, walking, and yoga keep working for me.  At the end of the first quarter I will assess my wardrobe and add what I need. And I'll bet that if I stop mindlessly spending $2 here and $20 there and one-clicking on Amazon for three months, I'll be able to afford a trip to the outlet mall.

I am not going on a no-shopping plan just for three months; I do plan to do it for the entire year; but every quarter I will pause and evaluate where I am, what, if anything, I genuinely need, and how much money I've saved.

So I've been making a list of topics to blog about in 2019, and I'm still sorting out whether that means reviving BLD or creating something new.  But when I found my old blog header photo, I felt like it was a sign that BLD should continue.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

I'll be back...

I am FINALLY going to make it to Epcot today.  It has rained every damn weekend, and even though I'm game for "rain or shine" there's rain and there's RAIN, and we've had epic, summer-like storms when the sky just opens up and pours like a million fire hoses. Today is the last shot to do the Christmas activities, then passes will be blocked out for two weeks, which is fine because the crowds are insane at Christmas.  But I need my fix of Pere Noel and La Befana and all the decorations, so we will be making merry today. There will be pictures, I swear!

Festival of the Holidays