Day 327: Christmas in November

Off to an early Christmas with my folks. They’re out of the country in December, so we’re doing an early Christmas thing.

It’s the usual “leaving town” mental checklist today: it’s no reason to go crazy with food, I won’t be exercising so be doubly food-attentive, stay active even if I’m not working up a sweat.

At some point over the year I came to the realization that exercising when away from home just does not work for me and I’ve stopped packing, like, half a suitcase of extra stuff. It just results in me getting mad at myself. And trying to figure out sweaty stinky exercise clothes when you’re living out of a suitcase or in somebody else’s home is just horsepuckey.

Oh, and here’s a step towards the podcast revamp: 1-833-JERKPOD. That’s 1-833-537-5763. Give it a try! It’s going to be a “tip line” kind of thing.

It will also be a whispery “Jerkpod on the roooooaaad” for the next few days. Not my favourite either. But you gotta do what you gotta do…



Day 326: Minimum Effort!

Happy Thanksgiving, America! Spare a thought for those we massacred on the road to plenty.

I’m acutely aware that my successes are not my own: I work hard, sure, but I’m building on a foundation of lucky circumstances of birth, a great household, the context of a society where taxes fund a strong public service and social safety net. I was born on second base, at least, and I’m striving to get to third, but I don’t think I hit a double. I’m a lucky dude, and thankful.

After yesterday’s rowapalooza, it was a light exercise day for me — which is fine, it can’t be balls to the wall every single day. I am gonna have to be more careful with food today, though.

Speaking of which, I’m back to “not great at logging.” I think this might be the thing, is I gotta pester myself. I can’t just let it go for a few days, because then that turns into a few weeks.

There are candles burning at a few ends with me right now, with rethinking how this podcast is going to work, and the side hustle thing still kind of percolating in the background. Planning a weekend trip to visit my folks for a pre-Christmas deal, as they’re going away for the holiday to visit other relations, and also to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

I was reading an interesting take on self-care earlier this morning… that self-care is the work of living. The idea is you won’t need as many spa days or special lip glosses if you’ve got your house in order. You won’t need to escape from the stress of your finances if you just do your finances. That kind of thing.

And I… I feel blah on it. I’m not sure I’m buying it. It’s an argument against a constructed dilettante that’s frivolously getting their hair done while Rome burns. I guess there are some people like that, somewhere, but I don’t really know that many. It’s fun to imagine them and get mad and/or feel superior about it, but most of the people I know do a reasonable job of managing their lives, and also like to flake out from time to time. Sure, there’s a balance to be kept, and if your house is on fire it’s not the right time to go to the arcade. But if you need to be told that, you probably have problems that a stern article isn’t going to solve.

Day 325: Maximum Effort!

Turns out a co-worker friend is also doing the rowing machine thing, so I am now in Healthy Competitive Spirit mode. This is generally good, and I think having motivation to push yourself is good.

That being said, I’m going to have to be a bit careful, because giving myself either an injury or a heart attack is not the way to go here.

So today, I logged my best time on a 5k since… well, let’s call it years:

5k in 22:09
I thought I would barf

…I wanted to crack 22 minutes, but that wasn’t happening, and in the last 750 metres it was all I could do to not fall over sideways.

But I did it! I made it! I’m alive! And the two things that became a bit of a mantra (other than “this music sucks,” because I was trying out some new albums from the radio station for the show) were:

  1. Maximum Effort! Thanks, Deadpool.
  2. I only have to do this once, right now, for a short period of time, and then not again for the rest of the day.

It was helpful! Just being able to say that this was a limited-time issue and I just needed to puuuuuuuuush for a short while helped. Focusing on the time remaining in increments (“in one minute, there’ll only be five minutes left” rather than “oh my God ten more minutes of this” kind of thing).

I’m talking like I just won the Tour de France or something. I didn’t. It was a moderately good 20-odd minute row. But it’s a good row for me! That’s what counts.

Now to (a) maintain a friendly rivalry without (b) killing myself. I am just now realizing that I’m at an age where I worry just a little bit about heart attacks.


Day 324: The Little Things

Arrgh. I got out of bed on time, got exercising within 10 minutes of getting up, rocked the exercise, and I’m STILL just getting to the podcast now. Because there were dishes to do this morning, and food prep, and… life business.

Life business kind of sucks sometimes. There are things you want to get to! Move-forward things! Onward-and-upward things! But then there’s all the dumb stuff you gotta do. Make lunch. Shower. Eat.

There’s also other chores coming up from chore buttons, which I should really talk about at some point. Actually, I think I’ve mentioned it before and said I’d explain later, so I’ll explain now: using a button maker, I’ve made 100 numbered 1″ buttons, with a number and a task type. Like yesterday was “85 TIDY.” I have little list of 100 things to do; 85 is a tidy job, and it’s “clean out and put everything back in the silverware drawer.” All 100 buttons are in a jar, and we pull out a button every day. My wife also has her list. The idea is to stay on top of all the little tasks that need to get done (“dust the tops of the picture frames” kind of stuff) in less than 15 minutes a day. It’s pretty effective. It’s also mostly Dumb Stuff I Gotta Do. 1/10 of the buttons are fun or relaxing ones, like “read” or “game.” Anyway.

Chore buttons!
My chore buttons.

It cycles back around to the “intent” thing I was talking about last week, and doing things with intent instead of just doing things because you have to do them. I did the dishes, but did I lean into doing the dishes? I tidied the silverware drawer, but did I rock the tidying of the silverware drawer?

One of my fears about a “lean into” approach is that it seems exhausting. Maybe I don’t want to lean in! Maybe I just want to get through this stuff.

At any rate — it’s a bit frustrating, knocking the things out early, having a mind to move forward with some other projects, then getting “lifed” into submission.

Day 323: Good Start, Bad Internet

A good start to the day today, despite the cat almost getting me away from Operation Don’t Get Up and getting sucked into the internet on my phone. It’s rare that I can recall what EXACTLY leads to these fugues. But this morning, it was checking Facebook re. a survey for this podcast I put up there yesterday. From there, it was “holy crap, Charles Manson is dead.” From there, a story on the Internet about Charles Manson dying. From there, remembering my dumb adolescent fascination with serial killers (like every slighlty gothy teen, right?) and reading Helter Skelter in high school. From there, looking up Helter Skelter on Amazon to see if there are any $1 copies. Then realizing I was being a dumbass and putting the phone down and getting to it.

It’s so easy! There’s so much information! It’s right there!

I mean, the mistake was obvious. Nothing needed to be done at 5 a.m. on the Internet. Literally nothing. Even now, I’m a bit late doing this because I was delayed doing that. And I could have Mansoned at 7 a.m. as easily as 5 a.m.

It’s a constant challenge, right? Not a “make a decision and you’re done forever.” A constant rear-guard action against your not-great self.

Some interesting results already from my little survey, which is  right here:

I suspect that putting “interviews” on there may be setting too high a bar for myself to clear, but it’s good to know there’s interest.

The good news is I pulled myself out of the Internet Death Spiral and managed to get a good workout in, personal best at a 6k row (not great by “real rowing” standards, but good for me, wheee) and I’m back on track for the day.




Day 322: Snowy Sunday

Snow’s on the ground, which means winter is officially here. This is one of those Sundays where there’s a lot to do, but not a lot of things that specifically have to be done, which means girding my loins for a big clean-out of the garage, moving things in for the winter, etc. It’s also Leaf Week, and I, er, did not get to the leaves. But that’s okay. Mulch, right?

My digital life is much more rewarding than my physical life in many ways. At first, I was thinking “that sounds sad,” but is it? I just have better aptitude for things like making websites than raking leaves. And I do have substantial physical presence — I build furniture, I walk and cycle, I exercise. I guess I just feel my natural aptitudes are more digital than real-world.

As usual, I think the best course of action is to set myself some goals for the day. “Church” with my wife, of course, and I have to get way ahead of studying for the class I’m taking online, because I’m going to be gone next weekend.

So it’s still fairly early in the morning — a good time to set some concrete goals for the rest of the day, and block out an hour-by-hour plan to get them done. I know Sundays are for relaxin’, but I feel better at the end of the weekend if I know what I’ve accomplished.

Day 321: Surveying

Not the best food day yesterday, but I’m still feeling good after a week of solid exercise, keeping up with food logging, and daily weight.

I’m a bit stymied on how to gather information for this rejigger. I know I can do it, the question is how… most of the larger places I’ve found with people I wouldn’t mind broad feedback from are places that expressly forbid surveys or that kind of information-gathering. So getting the information I need to make this more useful is hard, because (for generally good and obvious reasons), it’s hard to reach the people who would find it useful.

It’s an interesting Catch-22.

As an aside, I’ve started listening to other “motivational” podcasts and wow, they are really not for me. If they work for you, if that’s your jam, more power to you. But man, the three I’ve listened to to date were really… it’s hard to describe, but “American morning television” is what springs to mind.

My intent for this has never been to find an audience, really. I think it’s more about evolving this for my own engagement. But if I’m putting the work in, I might as well make it work for more people, right?

Day 320: Future Plans

I was talking with my wife last night about how she can improve listenership for her podcast, Harpy Hour. And it seems like a good time to address some vague wonderings about Jerk in Progress. And model some good behaviour: if I’m giving her my thoughts on her podcast, they should be things I’m willing to work into my own.

So I’m starting at a pretty simple place: I’m going to be asking you, gentle listener, to take a super quick survey at some point in the next few days. You’re already listeners! I’m especially interested in your feedback.

Short podcast today because I’ve spent all my time working on the survey! Coming soon. I promise.

Day 319: Bed and Start

One thing I’ve been good at this week, which I’m pretty happy about, is getting up and getting busy.

Initially, I thought the key to this was “no electronics between waking and exercise.” And that was helpful! But I’ve discovered that there are no end of things I can do to defer exercise. The Internet was merely one! Comic books, tidying the kitchen, books… all of these things have been delicious distractions on the road to a workout.

I’m getting better at just getting up and getting to it. It’s better exercise when I do that, too. The less time I have to spool up a bunch of bullcrap in my brain, the happier I am working out.

The other key recently has been work out to music, as opposed to podcasts or Netflix. I know there’s a “music is a crutch” school of thought. But I like the crutch. The thing about crutches is that they’re helpful. I don’t know who started giving crutches a bad rap. Go crutches!

The theme of this week seems to be shaping up as anti-distraction. I just caught myself trying to click on a tab in my browser because “crutches” reminded me of something, and I had to pull myself back on task.

Focus really is key. I just wanted to Google “focus is key” to see if there’s something cool there in terms of quotes. Fight it! Focus!

Part of this is my work, where minor urgent fires pop up constantly that don’t always need to be put out, but it’s helpful if you nip them in the bud before groups of people turn a molehill into a mountain. I’m kind of trained to keep task-switching (not multitasking, that’s not actually a thing).

Is there such a thing, I wonder, as focus practice? It seems like a thing that should be A Thing.

Day 318: On Track

The whole “leisure with intent” thing was kind of a moot point yesterday, as I had a lunch meeting, then a volunteer board meeting after work. So I didn’t have any time to manage! It was all pure stuff.

Tried to apply it this morning, though, and it seems to be okay? I literally just pulled myself out of a “well, I guess I should”… spiral of starting to do things like set up an alert for the Canadian dollar (I subscribe to some pay-as-you-go Internet things that bill American, so I should proactively top up when our dollar is doing well). Not even slack things, but not-the-podcast.

I feel like I’ve bounced back well from staycation week: getting up promptly, exercising, food tracking. weighing. Weight is not as nightmarish as it was right after staycation, either.

On the whole, things are going well. I’ve also been noodling over some format change ideas, and I think I have a good one. It’s a bit of an investment, but I’m ready to make it.

So “stay the course” for today, with a side helping of “think of the future of this project.” Not a bad way to start the day.