Easing Back Into It

210325755_b624e8a0b4_oFirst and foremost – I was looking through my Flickr photos (I used to archive all my photos there but I ended up setting the privacy to almost all of them to “me only” because they were having weird issues with photo theft and orkut fake profiles) and I found this photo. This was me documenting my calendar/planner addiction. This was all of the calendars I had used/tried to use in ONE YEAR. Now do you see how impressive my “I’ve Been Using The Bullet Journal For A Whole Year!” declaration was? I went from all of that nonsense (which was, by far, the worst it ever got) to ONE item. ONE. ONE. ONE. FOR A WHOLE YEAR. ONE.

Okay. Sorry. I’m done blathering on about this.

(HAHAHAHAH!!!111!!11!1!!!! NOIMNOT. Just done for TODAY.)

(Maybe.)

photo (4)ANYWAY! I ran 18 miles yesterday. In 2013 Donnie and I ended up with a year where he focused on his 70.3 training all summer and I focused on ultra-training all winter. This wasn’t our intention but it worked out beautifully and so I thought we’d do the same basic thing again this year. (I’ll get to why we’re NOT later. I have to decide how frustrated I am about it first.) But – there’s still the Spring/Fall overlap and right now I’m needing long runs and he’s still training for his Ironman. So, last week? I got NO long run in. I did 7 miles on Saturday before Nikki’s triathlon. It’s too hot for me to set out for 18 in the middle of the day, and Sunday we spent all day at Donnie’s other race. So! Yesterday, I begged for a long run Saturday morning since he had to do a Swim/Run and couldn’t do that until the YMCA opened. I left the house at 6am and did 18 kinda-painful, kinda-awesome miles.

They were painful because the last two weeks of training have been sporatic. When I’m running 45+ miles a week, 18 miles on one day should be nothing. But when I dropped down for 20+ miles/week for two weeks, it gets ugly. My knees/hips/ankles were all crying by the time it was done. BUT! I’ve now been doing this long enough to know that I do NOT have to panic when that happens. Pain is part of the game with marathon-ultra training, especially at this age. I’ve learned that most of it fades with rest/recovery. I have to do 12 today (I like to do 30/weekend most weekends – allowing for one recovery weekend every few weeks) and at first I thought there would be no way because I was hurting so bad yesterday. But I woke up today and feel fine! So I’ll head out in about an hour for 12 and see how it goes.

It feels good getting back into training. I have my first marathon of the season in October and before April 2015 I’ll have done 2 marathons, 3 50Ks, and at least 1 50-miler. Maybe another 50-miler or 50K depending on how I’m feeling. I’ll feel more like it has started AFTER Donnie’s Ironman when I get dibs on morning long runs, but for now – it definitely feels good to feel like I’m back in running mode.

Sleep.

I like darkness and silence when I sleep. It’s actually something that keeps Donnie and I from sharing a bed when we sleep because he likes to fall asleep watching TV which is both bright and loud. When we all shared a hotel room recently for his triathlon, NONE of us slept until he fell asleep, which was late since he was restless before his big race.

Most nights, this is how I sleep. I wrap one of our king-size pillows around my head to cover my ears and, if I position myself correctly, block the light form my eyes. photo (3)This method also helps me take naps, which is very integral in my survival. I find time to schedule naps on the weekends if at all possible, as those are my long-run days and I need it desperately. I wrap my head in my pillow cocoon and can usually sleep fine.

The entire family will be going to Chattanooga for Donnie’s Ironman and I’m trying to figure out how we’re going to make this work. The kids are more like me, needing darkness and silence to sleep. So! I’m thinking about investing in ear plugs and sleep masks. Have you ever used these things? Do they work? I saw an article recently about items needed for dorm survival and I think it mentioned good sleep masks and ear plugs. I need to hunt that article down. We don’t want to mess with Donnie’s system to fall asleep since he needs everything perfect for his race, but if any of the other three of us are cranky from the lack of sleep, the day will be MISERABLE for us all.

Do you sleep in a pillow cocoon? Do you use sleep masks or ear plugs? Or are you like my husband and need something obnoxious like a television to fall asleep?

Happy Bullet Journal Birthday To Me!

Embarrassing Preface: I have not broken out my “real” camera to photograph my kids in MONTHS. But this morning? I dug it out to – basically – take pictures of a notebook I carry in my purse. For a blog entry I’m writing about that notebook. To celebrate that notebook’s birthday. Do I write blog entries celebrating my kid’s birthdays? Not usually. I feel like this little tidbit says more about me than I would like it to.

August 29th, 2013

August 29th, 2013

I did it. I stuck with one calendar/planner for an ENTIRE YEAR. I have never done that before. EVER. IN MY LIFE. I kinda thought I was just compulsive in that I could never use the same system for a whole year, like it was a quirky habit I had no control over. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars over the years buying new calendars or planners before the year was over. And – of course – I always bought a new one New Year’s Day! I’ve bought nice leather bound planners in the years before you could buy cute ones and I would just buy a new set of refills a few times a year. I’ve bought custom planners with pictures of my kids and replaced THOSE partway through the year. Nothing ever lasts because nothing every works completely. I always need two things: A calendar and a notepad of some sort for my constant list making. And finally, I found something that satisfies BOTH needs and takes less than half of a year to fill up so I still get to “start over” periodically. WIN/WIN/WIN/WIN.

I had actually tested out this system for a little while with cheaper notebooks before August 29th. However, once I realized it might stick and figured out what worked and what didn’t, I forked out the big bucks for the $18 Moleskine to start 9/1/2013. I started it a few days early to give myself time to add all of the pages I needed – hence the August 29th “start” day. I used that Moleskine until the end of the year and, even though it wasn’t full, used January 1st as an excuse to start a new one with the habits I had solidified in the previous months. In those next few months I really implemented the system to personalize the method for me.

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I filled up the second one in June – a perfect 6-month cycle – and decided to store them in a way on my shelf so that they could A) Be easily found and B) Be displayed to show off their AWESOMENESS. With Volume 3 I made a few changes/additions to the method. The most significant change was that I started using the bullet journal as a scrapbook. A place to keep all of those wonderful things that pop up in my life that I know I want to look back on, but am not crafty or creative enough to ever do anything with. I have looked back on these type of pages so many times, it’s shocked me that I never considered this before.

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Of course, this means the pages hold a lot more stuff and so the discovery that my Molekine fit my old Kindle cover was INTEGRAL in my process. It keeps the book bound tighter than the tiny elastic that came with it AND it makes it look more professional for when I don’t want to show the world my obsession with stickers.

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But even with all that extra stuff – the scrapbook additions and the fancy cover – it’s still the calendar portion I use the most. And while I still get soooo busy some days I just kinda forget to look at it, it still has helped me manage the chaos in my life so much better! The weakest link in my productive life now (besides the fact that I can’t find extra hours in my day) is that I’m still not the best at skimming emails. I’m still notoriously bad about archiving something without ever seeing an important date or event in the body of the email. BUT! If I see it and manage to get it in the bullet journal as an event/task to remember – the chances are DAMN GOOD that I’ll actually do it.

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And – best of all – the bullet journal system gives me a completely valid reason to buy/obsess over/use stickers and colored pens. Things that make me so happy but that I always found a hard time justifying buying until now. I decorate my pages with the stickers AND am now the coolest adult in the room to the kids because I often have Frozen AND Avengers swag to hand out. And this kind of stuff just brings me joy. It’s silly, I know, but I have found that silly is important in my life. Keeping the silly in, however I can, seems to help ground me when the stress gets overwhelming. Too much to do, too little time to do it, but plenty of pretty ink and awesome stickers to decorate the chaotic schedule with.

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I don’t declare that the Bullet Journal system is perfect for everyone. I always ask, “Are you a chronic list maker? Do you depend on pen/paper, actually prefer it over digital?” before I’ll even suggest it. But man – if you are a chronic list maker and you do like/need to write things down? I can not recommend this system enough. And OBVIOUSLY it’s uber-customizable. I have a page for my Library Volunteer Schedule and a page for my kid’s Soccer Schedule. I have a page for my blog ideas and my 50-mile training. I have a page to keep notes about our Ironman trip and our Wizarding World of Harry Potter trip. It’s all mine and I hope it becomes a great nostalgic resource for my kids years down the road.

Happy Birthday, Bullet Journal. Thanks for helping me remember shit.

Sibling Bond…When Does It Happen?

My brother and I are as close as adults as two siblings who live on opposite sides of the country can be. We don’t speak often, but when we do it always revives my spirit because A) He’s funny as hell and always makes me laugh and B) He just gets me. I feel like I can just barely explain something that’s bugging me and he’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. A lot of it relates to use suffering the same great loss and having the same hole in our hearts from that. But a lot of it is just having the same upbringing and baseline experiences to relate to. I don’t know many other people who grew up without central heat or a/c. Therefore, not everyone has the same memories of fighting over who gets the next turn on the coil heater after playing in the snow.

(It didn’t matter who got the next turn because you could only last a few minutes as those things were HOT AS SHIT.)

My two kids are the EXACT age difference/gender as my brother and I. Nikki is older by 2.5 years. Same as us. The only difference is that my brother and I’s birthdays fell so I was a Senior when he was a Freshmen, whereas Nikki and Wes will be a grade closer in school. But still…SAME AGE…OLDER SISTER…YOUNGER BROTHER…I was really banking on an awesome sibling relationship.

And y’all? I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

Granted – I don’t remember a lot of the early years with my brother, but I swear we weren’t as evil to each other as my kids are. I did NOT like seeing my brother getting in trouble but I think my kids THRIVE on it. I helped my brother avoid getting in trouble when I could whereas my kids tattle at the smallest infraction.

I’m hoping this is just them…NOW…and that them…LATER will be much more loving. My brother and I also had some unique situations growing up that made us have to be friends: Like going to daycares after school as the only weirdo kids from the Catholic school. Or going to spend every other weekend at Moms. You just learn to enjoy each other’s company when that’s all you have. My kids often have plenty of choices of kids to play with so they don’t have to like each other if they don’t want. And some days? THE HATE EACH OTHER. I mean…I’ve seen them lose their temper with each other in EPIC ways lately, and I hate that because I want them to be able to lean on each other some day.

So! Reassure me! Tell me you used to beat the shit out of your sibling as a child, but that you’re totally BFFs now! Or tell me how much you hated them when you were younger but love them now! (Do not tell me the other side of the story, that’s the side I’m worried about. Let’s pretend everyone grows up to love their sibling more than they did as a child, okay?)

Let’s Get Productive/Fit/Happy/Calm/Positive/Healthy/Organized!

Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.

Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.

I’m the kind of person who is always trying to better myself. Some days I think this is how everyone is because I am just surrounded by those kind of people – both online and IRL. (In Real Life. It’s how the cool kids speak.) But then I hear periodically that there are people who just stay with the status quo, probably wanting to be better in some way, but never really trying. I don’t know any of those people but I’d like to think if they hung out with me for a day, they’d change their view. There’s is something intoxicating about trying something new in the hopes that it brings you closer to the you that you want to be. I think that’s why I used to buy a new calendar/planner every few months. It gave me an excuse to start clean, start over, and try again at being more organized and that was always such a good feeling. I think that’s also why some people try so many diets – because that hope that this will be the one! is almost euphoric.

Does any of it work? Most of the time? No. But I’m about to celebrate my one year anniversary with the Bullet Journal system and I’ve not stuck with one calendar/organization system for an entire year…EVER. I’m also about to register for the Huntsville Half Marathon which I did as part of my first training class in 2011 and I’ve been running ever since. So, yes. Sometimes we try things and they don’t work. But sometimes they do work and we find ourselves in a better place because of them. SO WHY NOT TRY?

Today I woke up with this weird sense of urgency. TODAY! TODAY I WILL IMPROVE ALL OF THE THINGS!

I am even typing this urgently, if you can believe it. I woke up at 3am and just thought that this would be the day I would try different methods for EVERYTHING. Because I’ve settled into so many ineffective systems of living that I just need to try new things. I’ve gotten really good at focusing on my work now that the kids are in school, but that means I’m not moving from my desk for – sometimes – 8 hours. I sit down at 4am, get up sometimes to run, always to get the kids ready for school, but essentially I’m here until 2:20pm when I leave to pick up the kids. And depending on the day (like if I ran or not) I sit back down again until 4pm. HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? Sitting is the new smoking! It’s going to kill us all! So today? I WILL SIT LESS. I think I’m going to figure out a schedule, like…every hour on the hour I’ll get up, make a circle around the house, and then do 10 pushups, 10 situps, and 10 squats. That will get me away from the desk for less than 5 minutes, but if I do it 10 times? I’ve done 100 of those things a day! I don’t know…we’ll give it a try.

And I’m going to open Facebook less. I’m a funny girl, did you know that? I am. And I like to share that funny with Facebook. I only friend people on Facebook I actually know, so if we’ve never met in some capacity we’re not FB friends, but if we are? You know that I post articles/pictures/statuses 100 times a day. I can’t help it! I take a cute picture of my cat on my printer, or my kid says something funny, or someone sends me a great article…all of these things I want to share with the world! Which is fine…except that once you open Facebook, you’re stuck there. You have to read your updates and check your feed and the next thing you know…12 years have passed. So today! Today I will only open Facebook to post what I want to post, and then I will close it until a designated “CATCH UP ON FACEBOOK” time.

I will not stop taking the phone with me to the potty, though. Facebooking while Peeing is the new Black.

I work on websites all day with my job. I love my work but it’s like Geometry was in school. Sometimes you have this theorem you have to prove and you work on it and you stare at it but you just can’t get the logic to connect from beginning to end. So! You get up and you walk away for a bit. Almost always, you sit back down and BAM! You figured it out! But still…you HAVE to get away to allow the productive part of your troubleshooting brain some quiet time to work it out while the rest of your brain shifts focus. So! I have decided I need to be way more conscious with how I use that time. Sometimes I just switch to another web task, but in reality, I should get up and from the computer and do something completely mundane for 5 minutes. Like do a load of laundry, or wash some dishes, or clean a toilet. Because the shift really does help my brain troubleshoot better AND it gives me a chance to knock a domestic chore off my list. Today! Today I’m going to be more productive with those “I Need To Reboot My Brain” moments.

I’m still struggling with stress eating, even as a vegan. It amazes me how easy that is to do. (It also makes me very sick some days. Overdosing on some kinds of fiber is not recommended by my digestive system.) I’m going to try to eat on a schedule today. I do get hungry more often because food doesn’t sit with me as long, so I do need to eat more, but I find that my stress eating habits get magnified in those moments of hunger so I’m trying to beat the hunger pains. I’m going to try to schedule snacks all day so I never feel that “hungry” feeling that sometimes pushes me down the spiral of overeating.

Parenting. Dammit. I’ve been an awful Mom these last few weeks. I know we all have bad days but my bad days have been so bad I don’t even want to tell you about them and that’s insane because I talk about boob sweat here, so you know it must be bad. But I have big hopes for a good parenting today. BIG HOPES. BIG DREAMS. GOOD MOM. Done.

Basically? I woke up ready to MAKE SOME DAMN CHANGES. I don’t know why. All I know is that if you’re the kind of person who likes trying to better yourself because sometimes something sticks…then you don’t want to waste those spontaneous urges to IMPROVE ALL OF THE THINGS. It’s the shotgun approach to self-help. Just change it all and surely some bad habit will fall to the ground.

And if not? The feeling of trying is at least euphoric in and of itself. The attempt at improvement is very valuable to motivating you to try again later. It feels good to try. Failing sucks, but it doesn’t overpower that feeling of, “Today! Today I will try this thing to better my life!” And when I wake up with the urge to try all of the things to better all of my life? I’m not going to ignore it.

BRING IT ON.

Edited to Add: This is the perfect time to tell you that the 30 Day Subtraction Project is starting again September 1st! Do it! Talking about an easy project to make you feel better about your life. When she did it a few months ago, I looked forward to the daily email prompts. They were GREAT. And the motivation for the before/after photos of practical tasks (some are not that concrete) was awesome. Loved looking at the progress on those days! GO SIGN UP! It starts Monday!