Five things I’m doing to myself

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I’ve recently been paring down the number of non-essentials in my life, as well as putting together a list of goals to work on so that I’ll be happier and healthier this winter.

And I thought now would be a good time to write this all up. But first, let me talk about “goals.”

Why most people’s goals suck.

I’m not a fan of most of what we’re taught about choosing and stating goals. For example…

  • Lose 10 pounds.
  • Learn Spanish.
  • Sell more copies of my book/knit caps/bits of jewelry.

These are the sorts of goals most people choose and commit to. And, in my opinion, they’re awful. They’re awful for a lot of reasons, but mostly because they commit you to a result but don’t describe actions you can take to get there.

By way of an explanation, compare the list above with this one…

  • I will walk 20 minutes a day.
  • I will take a Spanish class.
  • I will post about my book/knit caps/jewelry once a day on my various social media accounts.

These are the sorts of goals I like. You can see that each is designed to get the same result as its cousin above, but instead of simply committing you to getting that result, they commit you to doing something.

I have three priorities.

In light of the above, I decided to take two passes through all the assorted crap in my life. The first pass was to figure out what my top three priorities really are. The second pass was to choose goals based on those priorities.

So let’s look at my priorities first. In order, they are…

  1. Health
  2. Family
  3. Photography

Putting health at number one should be obvious. If you aren’t healthy (and I include mental health, here) then you’re not going to have much success at anything else. Your body and mind are the foundation upon which everything else in your life needs to be built.

Family comes next. My various issues often make socializing with anyone harder than it is for the average person, but whatever “social energy” I do have needs to go to my family first.

Lastly, photography has become increasingly important to me this year, and it’s something I think I have enough talent and passion for that I owe it to myself to see if I can turn it into more than just a hobby.

Now, just because something isn’t on this list doesn’t mean it gets no love. Rather, these are the things which get loved first. We all have limited time and energy to spend on things. So, think of that time and energy like water, and the things you spend it on like buckets.

Every day, you get a limited though varying amount of water, and you need to fill all of your buckets with it. Well, my health, family, and photography are the first three buckets I fill. If I’ve got water left over that day, great! I’ll use it for something else. If I don’t, well, at least I got the most important stuff taken care of.

I have five goals.

Next, I picked goals. Since “health” is my highest priority, and it encompasses both physical and mental health, I’m giving it the most attention. Specifically, it gets three goals all to itself. My family and photography each get one.

Here’s my list…

  1. I will spend one hour a day exercising and stretching.
  2. I will use a meal planner to eat healthier.
  3. I will spend one hour a day on meditation and related practices.
  4. I will spend one hour a day with my family members.
  5. I will spend one hour a day on photography.

Most of these are no-brainers, and all of them describe either definite actions or set aside a definite amount of time. That said, two are a bit vague, and I should explain them.

First, my “eat healthier” goal doesn’t set a calorie count or describe the nutrition I want in detail. I’m not terribly happy with that, but I’m letting it slide for now, because I’m going to use a meal planner app to track all of that as I go. If the vagueness bites me, I’ll revisit it.

Then there’s “meditation and related practices.” I’m intentionally leaving it vague (ish) here on the blog (for reasons I’ve covered briefly before), but I’m actually going by a much more solid metric privately. For now, though, I’ve stated as much of that goal as I’m comfortable with. Besides, it’s a fairly decent description even in this slightly vague form.

Check-ins are coming.

I’ve decided that I’m going to do a weekly check-in, both as a way to keep myself motivated, and to inflate my post count here. Every Monday, I’ll run down the list, write about how I did, and how I feel about that.

Also! If all of this somehow ends up motivating you to do something similar, let me know in the comments.

It’s not meningitis (probably)

It’s Wednesday, so you know what that means. Time for another barely passable, list-ish “Wednesday Update” so I can maximize my weekly post count.

Because I’m all about value.

My neck is a poltergeist and my brain is the furniture.

I’ve had a nagging and vaguely disconcerting pain in my neck/shoulders/brainstem for a couple of weeks, now, and it doesn’t seem to want to stop. I’ve bought a new pillow, changed a bunch of posture-related habits, and performed a whole cheesy 80s workout video’s worth of stretches–nothing’s helped but what I’m guessing is a staggeringly unhealthy amount of store-brand Aleve. And even that hasn’t helped much.

So, I’m at the point where I should probably see a doctor about this, but also? Kinda don’t wanna.

I’ve been down the musculo-skeletal pain road so many times that I’m more than 80 percent sure the doctor’s going to tell me one or more of the following…

  1. Lose weight.
  2. Exercise more.
  3. Stop looking down at your phone so much.
  4. Here’s some Vicodin.

And I’m going to be like…

  1. Working on it.
  2. Working on it, too.
  3. Shut your filthy mouth, Luddite swine!
  4. No thanks. If we’re down to just masking the pain, I’ll choose cheap whiskey. It’s like homeopathy that works!

So, yeah. Probably just going to keep ignoring it, and hope I don’t end up like terrifying woman from Pet Sematary.

Winter might not suck so bad.

I talked with one of my mental health people about my winter fears, and got a mixture of advice and sympathy which quelled most of them. Among other things, though, she suggested I look into some sort of special table lamp you’re supposed to shine into your eyes, and that scares off the demons or something.

I’m paraphrasing.

Seriously, though, the light somehow resets your internal clock, or makes your brain think the weather’s awesome, or whatever. It sounds like it’s just a crystal shy of straight-up, whackadoodle pseudo-science, but if it’s cheap enough and being recommended to me by someone with an actual medical degree, who am I to argue? So, I looked it up, and saw that the cheapest one she recommended is $250.

I’m pretty sure it would be cheaper for me to just fly to a place where winter wasn’t a thing.

Serenity now!

Only partly-related to my winter suspicions, I’ve resumed some meditation and concentration practices I was doing earlier this year. At this stage, it’s mainly just taking fifteen minutes a day to mellow the hell out, as well as making a conscious effort throughout the day to focus on my real priorities.

I’m still vague-posting a bit, here, because I’m not sure I want to get into anything that the general population typically considers “spiritual” or “religious” in nature. This blog’s focus is hazy enough as it is.

Suffice it to say, I’m doing reasonably well mentally.

I just wish my body felt the same way.

Humpday Humpdate

Well, it’s Wednesday, I’ll give it that much. Honestly, though? The days are just sort of blending together for me recently.

I mean, at any given time, one of exactly the following thoughts is going through my head…

  • I’m tired.
  • I’m sore.
  • I wish Lexi and Sloane would admit that they’re meant for each other, and what ever else happens, they’ll get through it if they just focus on that.

Yeah, Grey’s Anatomy got its hooks into me a while back, and I’m too far gone to care.

Anyway, apart from the above, and my shockingly consistent use of Instagram and Twitter, here’s what’s been going on…

The quest for new gear.

I’m slowly getting the cash together to pick up some new photography gear. And when I say “slowly,” I mean it. Being a responsible adult sucks, and since I’m still considering photography a hobby at this point, it’s pretty much dead last in my budgeting process.

That’s okay, though, because I honestly don’t know which sort of gear I should pick up first. I’m torn between lights (so I can work indoors when the weather is hideous), a new lens (probably a zoom telephoto for wildlife), or a filter or two for my existing lens (so I can do long-exposures in full sun).

My gut says “go for a new lens,” but my experience says “you will not go outside during the winter, so buy some lights.”

The news can fuck right off.

For those of us who aren’t stupid or sociopaths, the world kinda sucks right now. I won’t go into the specifics, both because you probably already know them and because this blog is already enough of a downer with all my “I’m tired”-themed ramblings, but…yeah. Things totally blow right now.

Not too long ago, I made a daily habit of reading 50 to 100 news articles across several reputable sources, but as of today the number is basically zero. And I’m fine with that.

Beyond the pure, elemental basics of survival, my first three priorities are family, photography, and my health, and lately I barely have enough energy to handle those.

Not my job.

Related to the above, my patience with people has reached an all-time low, and my willingness to deal with shit that’s not in my job description is next-to-none. For instance: I’ve hung up the phone twice this week when the person on the other end couldn’t answer a yes-or-no question.

Other Person: “Thank you for calling [Insert Store Name Here], this is Rick, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, do you have any [Insert Item Here] in stock?”

Other Person: “We actually have a sale on [Insert Other Item Here]. Are you look–“

Me: *click*

Some people might find that rude, whereas other people don’t want to hear a story when a simple “yes,” “no,” or “I’m not sure, let me check,” would suffice.

Anyway, that’s how my week’s going.

Good times!

Even more insomnia and sickness

I’m trying to be better at updating this blog and attending to my various social media things (you’re following me on Twitter and Instagram, right?) but the plague and my growing, insomnia-induced madness are making it difficult.

In no particular order…

  • My daughter was sick, leading to a couple of missed days of school for her, and a lot of laying awake worrying about her for me.
  • My back’s been rebelling against me on and off for the last few weeks.
  • My mother took two trips to the emergency room (one via an ambulance I summoned through the magic of 911) for pneumonia and related “fun.”
  • I’ve gotten around twenty hours of sleep. Total. Over, like, the last week.
  • And now I’m coughing, my throat’s a little sore, and I’m pretty sure that the crow perched on the phone pole across the street isn’t just there for the view.

So, yeah. How’s your September going?

P.S. The one thing I’ve managed to do consistently is take photos, even if those photos were just me playing around with newspaper and various combinations of lighting and contrast tweaking, like the one on this post.

Hanging around (with the sickness)

Alex has been sick for the last few days–sore throat, fever, tired all the time. According to the doctor, it was “something viral.”

The specificity…it burns.

She’s feeling better today, though. Maybe she’s still a little lethargic, but her fever’s gone, her sore throat has mostly followed suit, and she’s off to school after missing two days. And since this is a kid who hasn’t missed a day of school in, like, two years, well…let’s just say the relief is palpable. This thing hit her like a ton of bricks.

Anyway, it should go without saying that I’ve done a whole lot of nothing this week. Between the sick kiddo and my back being screwed, I’ve pretty much been stuck at home. Hmm? What’s that? Oh, you didn’t know my back was bothering me? Well, you would know if you followed me on Twitter, or ready my last post.

Damn! Did you see that slick segue into self-promotion I just dropped? Totally nailed it. I’m getting awesome at this!

Oh, whatever. Like you could do better.

Right, that’s what I’ve got for you today. And since this is a short, almost non-post, up there to the right is a photograph I took of a bird on my feeder. My yard is pretty much the only thing I’ve been able to shoot in days, but it has its charms.