Tag Archives: progress

Letting Go Challenge: Week 26

THE JUNK:

  • 16 plastic containers and at least a dozen extra lids (lids without bodies, not counted)
  • Coffee cup
  • Expired license (as of May of 2015)
  • “New Pet folder” given by Vet
  • Book: Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery
  • Med Bottle
  • Dog food mat

Twenty-two things.

I try to get my food together for work on the weekends: Yogurt, nuts if I have them, cereal, etc. and something for lunch, but I’ve been pulling my hair out lately trying to find stupid containers that are a) easy to transport and b) actually have a mated lid.

The first time I cleared out my cupboard, I took pics and pretty much texted them to everyone. It was that momentous of an event.

And there I was, back in the same situation without knowing exactly how I got there. Well-trained by my mother, I’ve held onto every ham/turkey plastic package, every yogurt tub, every little thing. It wasn’t even conscious. More things were migrating back into my house, and it was making life more difficult.

I really like the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid set. They stack well, the smaller ones are perfect sizes for individual servings, and they’re just so simple.

This is what they look like. I’m not promoting Bed Bath & Beyond (I could never with their careless disregard for commas), but the site does have a “zoom over” so you can see exactly what they look like up close.

I need a couple of more of the smaller pieces to do exactly what I need: have a very compact storage set for five days of three or four different items. I’m trying to pay closer attention to my eating and eat smaller things every couple of hours. These storage things are perfect. I don’t have quite enough for five days of cereal, so, in the mean time I’m using sour cream containers until I replace them with what I really want. When stacked, they take up a LOT less room than what I had before, therefore making room for actual cooking things.

These things work for me, and I’m really loving not feeling guilty about spending money about something that really, really works for me.

I haven’t finished the garage still, but I did have room for both the water filtration system and for the people to work in, so I’ll take it for now. I got away from my filing, and I realized that, here it is the end of March, and I still haven’t done my taxes. I put my W2 somewhere “I wouldn’t lose it,” and now need to make the filing part of organization a priority. So there’s that.

In other news, I finally finished Up From Slavery. I had started it months ago in my quest to read the books I have, only to misplace it, start another book, misplace that one too, and so on.

Washington earned a lot of criticism–both fair and unfair, I think. One of his greatest talents, though was having two messages. One was of “racial accommodation,” that is, leading African Americans through the paradigm that whites had created–that is–stressing education only to the level that allowed them to work with their hands, all the while backhandedly stressing equality very subtly. Washington was gracious and warm in the face of detractors and yet worked around differences in opinions to accomplish his vision.

I think he was a called statesman who was unrelenting in his efforts to better the lives of African Americans while working toward a unified nation of people. The criticism he received from other African Americans was that he wasn’t doing enough.  He didn’t push hard enough or expand his goals far enough.

Washington was accused of being an incrementalist–a gradualist.  And he was. When others called for more dynamic changes, he took one “baby step” at a time, over and over and over again.

And what he created was magnificent: Tuskegee. It was and still stands as a stepping stone to further progress. Read a little here on Wikipedia if you’re interested.

Sometimes I get caught up in other people’s progress, measuring my accomplishment of goals against that of others. But I can’t. In the end, the only thing that matters is how I stack up against yesterday. Or a year ago. Or decade ago.  Have I slacked off, or  am I still taking baby steps?

Because many baby steps over a period of time can cover a hell of a lot of distance.

 

Letting Go Challenge: Week 17

 Untitled design (1)

THE JUNK

  • 1. Glass pane*
  • 2. Rubber seal for something-or-other*
  • 3. Potpourri wire apple
  • 4. Cat tunnel
  • 5. Shirt
  • 6., 7. Two Glasses cases
  • 8. A bag of box tops for schools
  • 9. Broken hair clip
  • 10., 11., 12., 13., 14., 15., 15., 17. Medicine bottles
  • 18.  Wrench-thingamajig  for Misfit shine
  • 19., 20., 21. Three make up brushes
  • 22. A zipper pouch

**the rubber gasket and glass I have no idea where they’re from. I found it while dusting the top of the bookcase. Weirdness.

THE FILING

I’m changing up filing method a bit. Because it’s near the end of January now and tax season will be upon me, I’m taking blocks of paper and filing it into four categories: Pets, Medical, Money, and Other. I’m able to get through larger stacks of paper that way, and I can specifically file the EOB’s and office visit and prescription receipts that I’ll need for taxes without getting bogged down in filing every little thing.

Getting bogged down is something I’m really, really good at.

I’ve changed my goal from pieces filed to time spent, and it seems to be working out. Set the timer, grab a stack, and go.

Progress.

THE BONUS ROUND

There were a couple of definite wins this week:

I’m noting obvious gaps–places where I used to have stuff, but it’s all found new homes. That’s a really good feeling.

I set a room priority and am starting with the garage. I’m trying to make room for a filtration system I received for Christmas and have yet to have installed. I just have so much stuff that it makes it difficult to actually see the water tank.  I cleared out two boxes from the garage, a  box of notebooks that have gone into a bin in the office for later organization, and a box of dishes I inherited from my grandmother. I put the dishes in a new box (sans garage-dwelling roaches) in the kitchen for later organization.

Again, avoiding the bog-down.

It kinda feels like moving in.  It certainly looks that way.

 

 

 

Fabulous Friday: Fabulosity Part 2 (Living with RA)

(This is a part of a multi-part series [the total number of entries I as of yet do not know] regarding the question, “How has your life gotten better since you were diagnosed with RA?” The first part can be found here.)

Way #3 I prioritize my time better.

Because I have only so much time, and have only so much energy,  I have (as a result of mindfulness), have become much more attentive as to how I spend my time.

Before RA, I would have won an award for the World’s Best Procrastinator. I’m pretty sure I have a statue somewhere in my notebook-shrouded office. I procrastinated with everything, not just the things I didn’t like to do.  I’d spend time willy-nilly, mostly as an escape from a to-do list, as if I had an unlimited supply of time, and then scratch my head when stuff didn’t get done.

Now, I set goals both weekly and daily. I may not hit them (I usually don’t hit them), but I can see where I fell short.

The two best organizational tools for me have been a monthly organizer and a two-columned stenographer’s notebook.

The organizer is slightly-larger than notebook sized, and I put my doctor’s appointments, meetings, etc.  I also track my bills with it, listing in the side-column all of my monthly bills, and I check them off as I pay them. In the “daily” column for each day, I write the amount I paid and the confirmation number since I pay all of my bills online.  If there’s ever a problem, I can retrieve the information.

I also use it to make notes like, “Call So-and-So” on Friday, “Dinner with So-And-So” on Saturday. Things like that. Because my memory IS a sieve, and I will have every intention of meeting someone or calling someone, but unless I “schedule it,” I won’t remember.

Sometimes I forget to write them in, but I have done much better with “remembering” since I started adding to the organizer.

The second tool I use is the stenographer’s pad. This is probably THE most important thing to keep me on track, and I only started using this about a month ago.

Every Sunday, I spend about 20 minutes planning my goals for the week.  I am both focused on time and activity.

What are the things I want most to get accomplished this week in different categories? For cleaning, it may be cleaning the blinds. For writing, it is “book progress,” blogging, making quotation images. Even catching up on emails that I’ve put off for too long.

How much time do I want to spend on housework?  Well, the answer is none, honestly, but I’ve schedule 240 minutes (an average of 40/minutes a day). What’s my goal for the book? For blogging? For exercising?

I break those things down into 20 minute increments (which can be halved if need be), and do one thing at a time.  As I go along, I’ve needed to tweak things, add things.  For example, I “schedule” meditation and dog time so that I won’t forget them. Plus, I can, you know, make that check mark that I so dig.

Here’s the thing: I almost never make my goals, falling short in almost all of the categories.  Flares happen, exhaustion happens, deciding to go somewhere happens, getting caught up in re-watching Better Call Saul happens.  Too much reading happens.

But at the end of the week, I look at how close I came to meeting the goals and list reasons why I didn’t make it.  What where the areas that fell shortest? What were the areas that came closest to meeting the goals?

Was how I spent my time worth not accomplishing my goals?

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.  And sometimes things are entirely out of my control.

I still procrastinate. I still move slowly. My house is nowhere near as clean as I wish it to be.

But I’m accountable, and that’s a start. And I don’t think of it as “failure” when I repeatedly don’t meet my goals.  It’s still a hell of a lot more than I did before I started making them, and I’m making progress toward meeting them.

And, in a bit of unexpected irony, as soon as I typed “things are entirely out of my control,” I had discovered that I had locked myself out of my house.  Which, as I’m waiting for someone to come and let me in, I’ll get to the next way my life has gotten better.

I LOVE my new back door and the doggy-door with it.  A friend promised me that a doggy-door would change my life. It has. It really has. I can schedule appointments or run errands after work without having to worry about the pup busting a pipe.  It’s probably changed my neighbors’ life as well: sometimes I forget to close it before dragging my ass to bed.

I do try to do better. But onto the next thing:

Way #4 I’m a lot less stressed overall.

Sure, I have those moments when I get frustrated, panicked, and scared, but they seem to be far more fleeting than they used to be.

With RA, I’ve found that if I stress out, I pay for it doubly. Not just the stress of the moment (and the aftermath of things left undone while tweaking in my stress), but afterwards. For me, stress is a major trigger for a flare.

Funny enough, when I first made the connection, things got worse (way, way, way) worse before they got better. Apparently everyone has different triggers for flares–flares being  acute episodes of inflammation and pain (thanks www.arthritis.org for the definition).  According to some self-reporters, different things cause flares for  people. For some folks, it’s sugar or dairy, for others, it’s gluten or red meat or infection or a host of a thousand other things that they know of.

The only thing so far–for me– I’ve been able to definitely connect to a flare-up is stress.

And when you know stress will make things worse (which, after a point, it always does, inflammatory disease or not), and you’re stressing cause you can’t get your stress under control, which is making you stress more because the end result will be harsher…it’s a cycle that won’t end without outside interruption.

So I meditate. Very short periods (I have gone beyond monkey-mind, I think–my “monkey mind” is more akin to a Mexican jumping bean on meth.), but consistently.   And things are seeming to arrange themselves in a way I didn’t actively plan.

But because I’m scheduling time–or at least blocking dedicated chunks of it to specific tasks–I’m getting more done, being accountable, and not beating myself up for what’s not done yet because I’ve made a sincere effort to accomplish things.

Overall, I’ve noticed that my stress has gone down overall because I’ve taken an “active” (as “active” as meditation and scheduling can be, I suppose) step toward lessening them.

And, for a chronic procrastinator,  that’s a huge step, with or without a cane.

Fabulous Friday: The Bad, the Bad but Really Good, and the Really Good Friday

“I have bad news,” I told my friend earlier this week, “news that sounds bad but is really good, and actual good news. Which do you want to hear first?”

“I’ll take the bad news first,” she said. “Let’s get it over with.”

So I told her about Jitterbug. I didn’t cry, but I did find myself saying “I’m not going to cry,” several times. After several searches through the house, including heavy furniture in rooms that haven’t been used in months, I’m convinced she managed to get under the fence. There’s a hole in the far corner of the fence, a hole I’ve plugged with large chunks of broken concrete.  The woods hosts many animals, dogs and cats and snakes and squirrels, and the dog likes to hold rather aggressive conversations with them.  She prefers that they don’t enter her territory, but she’s not above digging through to theirs.  Thus the rocks.

The wild thing, the gray, nearly tailless squatter, however, likes to push the rock through the bottom of the fence. She, who has been a climber since she was a wee thing, climbing the playpen in less than three minutes when I first brought her home, prefers to go under the fence when she returns from her adventures. She climbs to go wandering; she goes under to return.

I’m sure there’s a message there.

I didn’t think that Jitterbug could fit through the hole, but I noticed that, not only was the rocks missing, but that a bit of dirt had been dug out as well.

Plus, day five and no discernible smell in the house.  So, there’s that.

Continue reading Fabulous Friday: The Bad, the Bad but Really Good, and the Really Good Friday

Monday Update (Orig: March 24, 2008)

I really can’t express how much I am digging on 3FatChicks. There is so much information there that it blows my mind. They have exercise challenges where everyone inputs the amount of minutes they’ve exercised for the day for a running total for the group of participants, and weekly weigh-ins, and things like that, and I am just stunned at the amount of support there. There are recipes and exercise tips, links and encouragement.

While I had been exercising most days (say, 6 out of 7), I started tracking it and making concrete exercise goals because of it. Because I didn’t start writing it down until 03/14, I made a goal of 360 minutes for the month (20 minutes a day average for every day left of the month). Writing it down rather than making a mental note (Yep! Made 20 minutes today!) makes a big difference, I’ve found. I’m consciously striving for an average of 140 a week, and, so far, am exceeding it as an average. If I miss a day, I make sure to exercise extra to make up for it.

I’ve also decided to go to weekly weigh-ins for the board as well. I’m still keeping my original focus, but I think that by participating in the community, it will provide encouragement when I need it the most.

I started the weigh-in process today, and I’ve gained three pounds since 03/05. All things considered (those really really bad weeks), that’s not bad, but clearly, I don’t want to move in that direction.

This morning, I was walking and just so absolutely happy that I woke up at 3 pounds and not 5 or 10 or 20.

I’m moving. I’ve made some important realizations since the beginning of March, and I’m just so, well, blessed.

Last week, I managed 153 (actual) of 140 (goal) minutes.

I’m re-calibrating my week from Friday-Thursday (for work) to a “normal people week” from Monday-Sunday.

That’s about it.

March 5, 2008 (Orig: March 5, 2008 Quel Surprise! )

We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He hath exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age, as a bounty from His Presence, and He is the Forgiving, the Generous.

Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas


It’s that time of the month again! This time, I’ve discovered 7.6 lbs gone this month, bringing my total gone to 10.2 lbs.

Thank God. Literally.

And something I just said two days ago: “And my second day into this particular commitment is way too early to go and break it.”

It wasn’t about the Fast, but it could have been.

Monday, I had a horrible day. My energy crashed about 3 pm, and I couldn’t get it back. I napped. I broke the Fast for coffee (very much trying to stay away from food for it), and I finally ended up eating, but nothing helped.

The next morning, I’m bright and shiny and happy, happy, happy to be eating breakfast before sunrise.

Continue reading March 5, 2008 (Orig: March 5, 2008 Quel Surprise! )