Day 707: Get-Things-Done-Day

Sunday’s our traditional prepare for the week day: lots of food prep, some house cleaning, grocery shopping and all that good stuff. And some days, frankly, you just don’t feel like doing  all that good stuff. But you gotta. It’s gotta get done. 

So it’s a “gird your loins” sort of morning for me right now: small breakfast, slug of coffee, and shove aside the general desire to be lazy in favour of doing Future Me some favours. 

Room for some fun in there too, of course. 

Oh! And I’ve decided, coming out of the holiday experience, to try to keep Sundays device-free. This is strictly me; I’m not obliging my wife to do anything like that, and haven’t been very “pure” about it myself so far this morning — it’s kind of a late-breaking idea. But here we go! 

Day 706: Big Money Mojo

My wife has come up with a pretty great plan to get us financially on track for 2019, which is, well, pretty great. As mentioned. We’re going to be properly budgeting again — which I welcome — and I think 2018 has been a bit of a “got job, get stuff” year, but it’s equipped us well for a more austere 2019 and saving up for a kitchen renovation kind of dealie. 

Which I welcome. Finances have always been an Achilles heel around here, and money is a BIG stressor. It can’e be overstated as an Important Thing in an overall life plan. 

I’m not going to share it here — it’s hers, first of all, and I don’t have permission — but I appreciate that she came up with it, and am genuinely excited to be executing it at the start of the year. We’ve been pretty good, all things considered — we spent a bit more than either of us would have liked, for instance, on vacation last week, but still stuck to a rental car and day trips, not like a cruise or a week-long sojourn in Spain, or whatever. We’re living within our means, not accruing a ton of debt, but not saving as much as we’d like. 

So with a modest kitchen reno as a 2020 goal (which is also a bit of a reinvestment in the house), it’s a good time to tighten belts and start turning saving into a game. That kind of thing always sounds like Seymour Skinner in my head, but it’s still a good way to approach things. 

Day 705: Big Why, Spiritual Mojo

As the Beastie Boys said, “Get It Together.” 

Good advice for me today — my wife’s sick, so it was a restless night, and another day — bah! — of no exercise, and again scrambling to get out the door. It’s frustrating! I came out of my vacation with semi-mojo, felt quickly like I was still lacking mojo, have made some plans to restore mojo, but still feel kind of mojo-less. 

“Get it together” is kind of the theme of the day. 

The good news about 700-plus days is I have a good toolchest to turn back to. I’ve got some visualization techniques, some killer checklists, good motivational phrases, and a lot of key ideas that I’ve picked up and — at present — put back down. 

Mojo (root motivation) is where I’m struggling a bit right now. I’m having some trouble with the “why” that animates the rest of it. I have stuff for that too! I just have to dip back into the heart of this to see where that resides. 

Spirituality is a topic I generally avoid, in part because I’m an atheist, but the Big Why is really a crux for a lot of these things, and with the biggest religious holiday of the year coming up, it’s not a bad time to ask some Big Why questions. So maybe that’s where I’m going to steer my ship in the coming weeks. No religion, no kids, and that’s kind of taken the two Big Reasons out of the running. If you’re not doing it for faith, or doing it to secure something for future generations of family, what’s it all for? 

Well, maybe I just found some mojo. SPIRITUAL JOURNEY mojo. Hm.

Day 704: Stripping Down, Seeking Meaning

Busy brain night, but got a bit of exercise — not what I should have, but some — in this morning. Which is good.

I’m making definite moves to release the major volunteer task — which, thanks to this blog, I can say has been going on for about 500 days now — and, well, spend some more time on me. Frankly, the project was to create something, which has now been created, so sticking on it longer than necessary at this point is 50% helpful, but also 50% hubris and founder’s syndrome.

I need to trust that the people it was built for and the organization are sound, and move it forward from there in different ways — but also get out of the “drive the bus” mode and free myself up for new interests that I find some meaning in. It’s important, I think, not to just fill time with garbage, but to find stuff that I enjoy doing but also leaves me satisfied. Vegetable hobbies to go with the candy hobbies, as mentioned a while back.

I’ve really been struggling with food this week… stress, I guess, and maybe a bit of SAD in the mix with the changing seasons.

Day 703: Gotta find that mojo!

I was just texting my wife: my mojo ain’t back! Even after a vacation. Even after 72 hours of completely unplugging. Still ain’t found the mojo again.

Her recommendation, which I agree with: simplify, simplify, simplify. It’s time to set a firm date to stop my major volunteer gig — it’s been something I’ve been working on for about two years, and frankly I think it’s been a good job but needs to be handed off/back to the organization to grow or not.

I think the unplugging thing was… good. That was the most myself I’ve felt in a while, and I’ve gone a bit media-glutton since the break. There’s an equilibrium there that I should seek for sure.

So this is the to-do list: set a meeting to establish a retreat strategy from the major volunteer gig (this is something I’ve done before with the canoe club). Delete Netflix from my devices (done!). Get down to three podcasts a week. Put away devices when I get home for the evening and/or use with timed intent.

At work, get back in the good habit of planning my time more. Look at blocking out a work schedule that lets me focus on things at specific times.

I don’t know if this will get the mojo back wholly, but it’s a good start. I’m a candle-burner, but too many ends burning for too long is never good in the long term.

Day 702: Back to Bad Habits

Arrgh! Exercise eludes me, and only one day back. Up at 3:30 for peeing, then cat-in-Christmas-tree related reasons, took forever to fall back asleep, so back to late sleep. Now I have to do the Tiniest Gallery, which I’m a few days overdue for, but the November artist wants her art back (which is fair!) so I gots to get the new display up this morning.

I feel bad about the not exercising. I’ll compensate through low food and a brisk walk to and from work, but it’s irritating not to get that done.

49 days remaining of daily food logging!


Day 701: Feels Close to 1000

It’s weird how 701 days is about 10 months from 1000 days, but a thousand days feels… close, suddenly. And a good benchmark to aim for. It’s been almost two years, and I think a fair bit of self-discovery, but not really achieving the fitness/exercise goals I was aiming for in January of 2017.

It’s pretty easy to see where the flaw is: I love eating bad food, I don’t like keeping track of bad food eating, and I’ll take any excuse to stop tracking food eating and start eating bad food again.

When you put it that way, it seems like a pretty simple fix, doesn’t it?

  1. Stop eating bad food
  2. Keep track of the food you eat
  3. Repeat forever

I mean… duh.

So maybe the problem’s been I’ve been trying the whole enchilada at once: the diet, the tracking, the exercise, all the beans. All the marbles. All the bean-marbles.

But with 300 days to look at, maybe I should try to build better habits one habit at a time, instead of crashing into the mountain repeatedly trying to do a bunch of things at once.

Food tracking seems to be the hardest, so possibly it’s a matter of starting there and just trying to go hard on food tracking for, say, 50 days. One-sixth.

Not to say I shouldn’t strive for the other stuff too, but if I have to pick one thing to not compromise on for 50 days, it’s food logging. So, to January 22, 2019. Good thing I don’t drink, or this might be tough on the 1st…

Day 700: Back to Reality

Back to work tomorrow, and 300-plus emails await me… I shouldn’t have peeked. Time offline was great, but it’s nice to be back online (in moderation).

Exercise was the big loser this week, but we’ll be back on that tomorrow. Food? Not terrible. Sobriety? Locked down. Sleep? Excellent. It was a great week for sleep, aside from the “no digital life, weird busy brain” issue getting to sleep. But waking up naturally, no alarm, naps… it was a good sleep week.

So back to exercise, food tracking, the whole nine yards tomorrow. I can definitely credit the “no digital” days for the best staycation ever; I feel like I’ve actually vacationed, instead of just having a long, weird weekend.

Back to it tomorrow!


Day 699: 72 Hours Offline

It seems preposterous that this is a big deal. But it was, for me.  I was anxious going in. I’m anxious coming out! It was… hard, but not like marathon hard, more like “persistent itch you can’t scratch” hard.

What I’ve learned by getting entirely offline for three solid days:

  • I enjoyed it. Increased presence, and in some ways increased peace of mind. Definitely higher focus on being in the moment.
  • We were also doing a lot of low-key travelling, which was interesting: paper map, and finding out about the places we were going (small towns in Ontario) by looking and asking (“hey, is there a bookstore anywhere around here?”) rather than searching. It added to the fun. Also to the stress when you’re not sure if you’re on the right road or not.
  • I can still read! I can read a lot. In the end, I’m not a media snob: I don’t think reading is the One True Form of Entertainment and everything else is somehow lesser. But there’s definitely a different experience to reading and listening to records than to video games, comics on the iPad, etc.
  • I didn’t miss video games at all, which makes me question whether I should be gaming in the first place. Ditto podcasts. And Netflix.
  • My brain was busy. It was hard to sleep. Which is antithetical to what they tell you about no electronic devices before bed. A bit of a detox affect, I’m guessing.
  • The hardest thing, in the end, was not knowing stuff. I have a lot of curiosity, and a hunger to scratch that itch immediately. Learning more about an artist on the radio. Looking up the author of a book. Checking a weird fact I happened to be wondering about. The fact that I can’t specifically remember a single thing I wanted to look up is telling. I had to spend a lot of time living with idle curiosity, and not jamming my brain up with trivia, which is ultimately a good thing.

Ultimately, this felt like a luxury. Removing oneself from the world. So it was more of an indulgence than a legitimate life choice — long term, it would be hard to sustain relationships (and keep my job) doing this.

It was a good three days, though. I definitely feel more rested and relaxed than I have with any other staycation.

Have I learned anything? Is anything gonna stick? Meh. It was only three days. I definitely hope to spend less time with my phone as an extension of my hand. I doubt I’m going to make any sweeping lifestyle changes. But having Netflix/music/podcasts as a constant soundtrack to my life is something I adjusted to doing without very quickly.

There’s a lot to unpack about valuable keeping up and valueless keeping up that I need to thing about here.

Day 698: Vacation Accomplishments

Here’s what I hope has happened the past few days:

  • Day trips to Ottawa, Port Hope and Merrickville
  • Exercise before leaving every day
  • Daily lunch packing
  • No electronics at all!
  • LPs, books, board games in the evenings

Looking forward to this on Tuesday, I think I’m maybe mythologizing the restorative powers of a few days offline a bit. I might be back tomorrow and say “meh, wasn’t that big a deal.” But as somebody who more or less lives fused to a computer and/or device, I suspect this is gonna be tough. So, hopefully rewarding.