Day 140: Yardwork

When I wrap this up, I’m going to go do the thing I like the least. Yardwork. I am NOT a fan. It’s a kind of a thing; I’ve never really liked it. It’s a very keeping-up-with-the-Jones kind of fakery.

Mainly because it’s pretty pointless. Vegetable gardening has a purpose, but our yard is too shady and arborists are expensive. So I’m — I hate the word ‘life hack,’ but the most… efficient way of dealing with gardening is where I’m working right now.

Dig it all up. Mulch the crap out of the beds. Pull up any green thing that pokes through. Repeat.

So that’s what I’m heading out to do — pull things up, put mulch down. We bought our house two years ago from a family that I think got really into gardening, then got busy and got really out of gardening. So the whole “nuke it and start anew” is appealing on that level, too.

Yardwork is a metaphor for a lot of  things…

Yardwork is like the taxes of living in a neighbourhood. You don’t wanna do it, it’s a pain in the ass to do it, but you gotta do it. And you also know that some people are really into it, which is kind of infuriating.

it must be done. Blah. Into the fray.

Day 139: Sneaky Exercise

Trying to find ways to slip a little sneaky exercise into my Saturday morning…

It’s my wife’s idea, really — she’s really taken to running (more than either of us expected), and has been requesting a few laps around the neighbourhood track on Saturdays. It’s been good! We did it a bit last year as well. We’re not talking a marathon, here. 4k max. But it gets the blood flowing and the brain working.

It does, however, add to the Saturday morning time pressures — it works well in the summer, when we can bike to the station for our radio show, which is its own form of brain exercise, but I can see this being challenging during the walking days of winter.

It’s good, though! It sets the day up well. I feel like it’s a good move, even though it cuts into the morning a fair bit. To wit: this is the end of this entry! Gotta get my shoes on (and the cat fed).



Day 138: Patio Season

So where I live, we’ve skipped right over spring and barreled into summer. In, like, four days. It’s ridiculous. And with the changing of the seasons, comes the putting-out of the patios. I started this no-drinking thing before patio season. I hadn’t really thought about patio season.

And now it is the season of the patio.

I don’t think this is going to make a difference, really. But there are a few things that tug at the ol’ drinkin’ sleeve, in declining order:

  • Stress
  • Being expressly invited to drink
  • Hanging out with people who drink
  • Seeing people drink

So we’re getting down to the bottom of the trigger barrel, practically speaking.

There is, though, a difference between winter sobriety and patio season sobriety. I’d be a fool to deny it. I didn’t think of this until this week, but there’s a season where drinkers are hidden from view and a season where drinkers are right in front of you all the time. There are sections of the downtown that are basically street bars.

Patio season will take some mental adjustment.

Because primarily there’s going to be a lot more cultural saturation of drinking around me. It’s just gonna be in front of my eyeballs more and therefore in my brain now. I don’t think it’s gonna bump the needle. But it’s a factor.

Secondarily, there’s going to be more “friend and spouse” pressure to go a’patio’ing. It’s kind of a middle space between “let’s go to a dark bar and quaff beer” and “let’s sit in the sunshine and have a fizzy gin thing under an umbrella.”

So I’m not worried. I’m not fretting. But it’s something to gird myself for. Yes, I said “gird myself.” Gird!

Day 137: How I’m Remembered

All right. I’ve taken on an extra project at work over the last year. It’s cross-sectional, which means I’m kind of repping our department. It’s also been a lot more work than advertised. And my role is one that involves a lot of output at crunch times, with a lot of input from other players. Dealing with that has driven something home for me in terms of how I’m dealing with others. Thinking about how I’m remembered after the fact.

So the recurring situation has been Stuff Happens, and then it all kind of tumbles down to fast required actions to make sense of it on my end. Which has been making me… testy. I don’t mind self-directed work. Or teamwork. Or taking ownership for my mistakes. But it’s been a LOT of compensating for structural deficiencies and dropped balls for the last week. Which is in turn affecting my actual work.

So I’m striving to always remember when dealing with this stuff that how I deal with the stuff is how I’m remembered.

People might remember what I did. But who I was is how I’m remembered.

It’s nuts, but it’s true. Relationships stick more than facts, most of the time. When I think back to past jobs, I don’t remember a lot of the specifics of the work, but I remember what it was like to work with people. I know who I’d trust and who I’d hire based on those feelings.

Obviously, the work matters. But how I’m remembered as more to do with how I roll with the punches and get stuff done, than the details of the stuff.

This has also been absolutely pants on the sobriety front. Big days for this project have been the closest I’ve gotten since January on the “I want a DRINK” front. Not enough to tip me over, but it’s been interesting to see that the hankering is still there, waiting for stress to trigger it.

Good thing I have stress eating to see me through! Ha ha ha sob.

Day 136: Practice

So it turns out I’m really bad at softball. I mean, I’m not surprised by this news. But you always go into these things thinking “maybe I’ve got a undiscovered knack for this!” and hoping that you might turn out to be pretty gifted. So practice is the question on my mind today.

I’m not gifted.

I’m… ungifted. Anti-gifted. What’s the opposite of a gift? I’m indebted.

The good news, on the sobriety front, is that it doesn’t seem to be a “beer after the game” group. So no new social pressures to go hang out with drinking people and have awkward conversations. Hooray!

The other good news is that of the dozen of us, maybe two are good players, another two are halfway competent or naturally gifted, and more than half of us are also kludges. So I’m not, like, the mascot. And we all have a pretty good time. Lots of laughter.

But yes, one of the takeaways is that my softball skills are not on point. Softball, as it turns out, has a mercy rule: eight runs ends a team’s at-bat. So we only lost, er, by 48-5. I hit the ball each time I was at bat! There’s something.

To practice or not to practice?

I took this on as a Tuesday evening commitment only. But after our performance last night, a few of us want to get together to practice. Lunchtimes, maybe after work on Fridays. Throw the ball around. Bat. That stuff.

And I’m now in the conflict of I’m doing something and I’m bad at it and I want to be good at it, versus I have too much on my plate as it is. 

I’m probably making this all heavier than it needs to be. A less neurotic person would say “do it when you feel like it.” That’s probably good advice. But that’s not how I’m wired — I have to plan and commit, or it probably won’t happen.

It’s not a question I’m going to answer right now, but it’s on my mind today.

Day 135: Softball and routines

Have you ever signed on for something that you almost immediately had misgivings about? I’m up for the first game for our workplace softball team tonight. And I’m a bit anxious.

A bit anxious about the softball. I’m… not good. I’m in reasonably good shape, despite being overweight. But it’s kind of “distance running” good shape, not “athletic feats” good shape. If you know what I mean. So while the softball league is super casual and supposed to be fun, social anxiety does drive a fear of embarrassment there.

A bit anxious about sobriety. Again, not so much. I’ve got it in the bag, I think. I’m comfortable telling people I’m not drinking. My workmates are cool. But it’s going to be another drinking factor in my life. And while I’m okay with not drinking when others are, surrounding myself with it is not great.

Mostly about sleep. The games theoretically run from 7 to 8:30, which means I’ll be home by 9-9:30, asleep by 10. That’s still enough time to get seven hours before a 5 a.m. wake-up to run. But it’s still a late night for me. It’s going to be hard to stay on the checklist and maintenance.

If you can’t get out of it, get into it.

That’s something I picked up from the Happier podcast, back when I was listening to it. It’s good advice. I’ve signed up for softball, and while I have reservations, I’m going to be the softest softballer that ever balled a softball. There’s a whole lot wrong with that sentence.

But I signed up for it. And I signed up to be part of a team. And a team of people I work with. So it’s incumbent on me to give it my all, and if I have concerns, leave them, well, off the field.

So: softball tonight! I will softball. I will be the softballiest.

Day 134: Naps are the best

I don’t want to overstate this. I think naps are God’s greatest achievement and how we know he wants us to be happy.

Maybe that’s overstating it a little.

But after a great nap yesterday, I felt, well, great. I don’t know why I don’t nap on weekend days all the time. I don’t know why we don’t have siestas.

Because it was a classic nap. Open schedule. Clean sheets. Great temperature: not too warm, but not too cool. I was genuinely tired, but not exhausted.

I slept for about 25-30 minutes, and when I woke up  I got up, rather than overnapping and getting logey for the rest of the day.

So: naps. They’re great.

Naps are hard to achieve at work.

I wish we lived in a working culture that supports naps. Yes, there’s about an article a week somewhere that talks about naps. Extolling naps’ virtues. Pointing out companies that allow naps. Joke ‘nap tips.’  But I’m skeptical about napping ever being a real, allowed thing at the office.

And frankly, I think that’s fair. I think I’d be a responsible and diligent napper. But as somebody who has worked in a lot of different offices, both as a worker and a manager, I can see how napping would be an administrative nightmare. We can barely manage lunches.

But: naps. They’re the best! My wife suffers from being a non-napper: she’s either awake, or down for the count. The idea of 30 minutes of sleep without being groggy and angry for the next few hours is foreign to her. It’s sad.

I know myself well enough to know that after-work naps are not in the cards for me. If I could lie down for 30 minutes when I get home in the evening, that would be awesome. Probably a good ‘reset’ for food and sobriety for the night as well. But it’s too late in the day; if I try to sleep past 5 I’m sleeping, not napping.

Even so. Naps. The best. Fin.


Day 133: And now, back to bed

Checking in before going back to sleep, which is unusual, but let’s try it.

It’s Sunday, which is a day for sleeping in. For everyone but cat. And as the cat goeth, in the mornings, so do I.

But now the cat is fed, and after being gotten up at 5:15, I’m seriously considering just getting another couple hours sleep.

I was also considering watching a terrible movie, but life’s too short.

I’ve actually got a pretty big day ahead of me, getting-things-done wise. And while I’m on the mend, my back is still giving me problems, so sleep hasn’t been super solid.

Back to bed, and rise to conquer

So the logic here is more sleep, then a full day of project work. Both on the cat wagon (I’ll need to explain the cat wagon at some point), and on the new podcast, which is coming along nicely. It’s going to need a lot of attention, though. Here’s the current art:

Virtualosos Logo
Yes, it’s another video game music podcast. There are a lot of ’em!

So it seems like the sensible thing to do is get more sleep, then hit the ground running. I thought I’d log this now so “hit the ground running” means getting right into work with no interruptions. Good morning! Good night!

Day 132: Hello, Horse

Remember how I was getting back on that horse? Hello, horse. I’m not quite back on the horse. I’ve sort of been negotiating with the horse for the last few days. Maybe the horse doesn’t even want to be gotten on. Did you think about that, fella? Huh?

So after a tremendously aggravating week at work, and a week of feeling achey and pulled-muscley and generally bad, I’m kind of fed up. Looking back to motivation week for inspiration, I don’t really have a go-to for “sick of it all,” but “No matter where you go, there you are” is still a pretty good thing to remember in times like this.

On the bright side, I got up early for a Saturday and went running with my wife. A short little 3k, but enough to get the blood flowing.

Hello, horse. Whatcha knowin’? It’s time to get that horsey goin’.

That was Simon and Garfunkel, right? Close enough.

So despite thinking I was back on the horse a couple days ago, life got in the way. And I think I’m going to aim to re-horse on Monday and give myself a day or two of lighter exercise, less routine, and hopefully depressurizing before attacking that horse again.

There are a lot of horse sayings out there. I’m so hungry I could eat a. Get back on that. You can lead to water, but can’t make drink. What you rode in on. And so on and so forth.

So it’s a weekend of light exercise and lots of stretching and a return to “normal” on Monday. That’s the current plan.


Day 131: Changing the Narrative

Arrgh. So as the shoulders get better, the back gets worse. Not awful, just not great. But I had a little moment of changing the narrative this morning that helped.

So I’ve been off running, and I was seriously considering not doing any exercise at all this morning. Then I was going up the stairs, and thought:

“This can be the story of the time I worked through this thing.”

And I liked that story. More than the story of the time I had a setback.

So 30 slow minutes on the rowing machine later, I feel better. In a couple ways.

Changing the narrative means changing the outcome.

The first way is obviously that I feel better physically. Going hard on the rower is strenuous. But going easy on the rower kind of warms me up and pulls everything out. So I am in less hurty pain now that I’ve done it.

The second way is I’m happy to have pivoted off the sad narrative of “I’m hurt” and into something a bit more persistence-driven. This, in turn, is going to drive me to make better decisions for the rest of the day.

It’s a table — exercise, diet, sobriety, sleep. If one goes, the whole thing gets wobbly. If two go, collapse is imminent. And while the started as a sobriety project, sobriety is proving easier in a lot of ways than the diet part. And exercise, when I’m feeling lousy.

So I’m going to allow myself a back-pat this morning. GOOD FOR ME. Carry on!