even stumbling is moving forward

I spent a good quarter of my time in university learning about how you shouldn’t make too many life changes at once. (I spent another quarter in anatomy or stressing out about anatomy, another quarter dropping classes possibly due to the unknown learning disability and ADHD, and the last quarter probably actually “focused”. This is not an accurate, nor mathematical, representation of university for me.) Yet, here I am, doing just that, because FULL SPEED AHEAD is the only way I know how to go.

So here I am. 13 days into logging with MyFitnessPal. That is nearly TWO WEEKS people, that’s an accomplishment.
I’ve opened up the Coach.Me app again last night and set up some goal in there—go for a walk twice a week, exercise three days a week, meditate daily, pray daily, and write a blog post [here] weekly (hi!). 

And today, I went for a walk. Just to the mailbox, to send a letter to my Member of Parliament. Have I mentioned I’ve gotten all politically engaged since we last spoke in depth? This is not actually a byproduct of that but still, could be why I was more interested in the Asthma Society’s Hill Day stuff in the end. Honestly, it’s a wonder to me that given the state of this world and our neighbours to the south, how the eff people can ignore this! I digress (but likely not forever, and would be happy to grab a [decaf] [not-]coffee with you and discuss. And also I am thinking about going back to school to do political science and no I don’t actually know what’s currently wrong with me.)

This is not significant. The walk, I mean. It was hot (27-feels-like-29 and heat and I are not friends—my lungs and my whole body) and slow and except whatever I GOT OUT THERE.

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Because here’s the thing. I have to start all over again. And so I am. I downloaded some bodyweight exercise app to my phone even. I’m LOOKING AT my Fitbit. Quantified self is one of those things that’s sort of engrained in my being one way or another so I need to USE that data. 

If a slow, 17 minute walk is all I get, guess what? It’s better than nothing.
If a three minute meditation before I go to sleep is all I do, guess what? I’ve started.
If prayer is a jumbled mess of words or a poem or “hey Jesus”? Yeah, my God knows where I’m at, even before I do.
If I don’t eat with any semblance of decency (or even if I’m closer than I usually am but still totally imperfect) but I am at least mindful of that, guess what? I’m one step closer.
If I start to write a blog post and I write “Listening to my body. Means. Going to sleep. Instead of writing.” and close my laptop, yes, I have figured something out. At least this time.
And if I admit all of this to you in a blog post? I’ve written the blog post. And hopefully, you’ll join me in stumbling towards those goals you think are too big, too hard, the things you think you’ll be imperfect at. Feel free to join me in the imperfection, learning the things they can’t teach in school.

Or at least watch along—because even stumbling is moving forward. 

quantify this: march.

I started back on the quantified self track later in February. A few times a year (or more) I get data hungry, so I started using Optimized again as a starting point. It’s a great little app, and between that and my Life Priority List (hardest. task. ever.), I set a handful (more than a handful) of pretty straightforward goals. Pinpointing where I spent my time helped with both the goals and the priority list.

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Graph from Optimized on where I spend my time. Note that this is skewed because the app kept deleting my data. [Health 60.3%, creativity 2.3%, pleasure 10.8% (which includes things like Skype and reading), and routine 26.6%] From here, I get a brief overview that I’d like to spend more time on creativity.

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Optimized then offers correlations and shows how accurate they may or may not be.

The more time you log, the more accurate they become. My overall mood correlates positively with the time i spend on health. I can later further break this down and see how, for example, including more cycling in my routine affects my mood. Sometimes, however, it might be more useful for me to log cycling as both “cycling” and “exercise” to get a bigger picture of how exercise in general maps out onto mood, for example, so I could do the same for skating, walking, or dance.
http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1519/24799584454_fda338cca6.jpg?resize=500%2C281&ssl=1

Both pictures also offer a disclaimer about correlation—that correlation ≠ causation. But, it’s a helpful starting point. In the above, the app has determined that time spent on routine activities correlate positively with time spent on health activities by 25.6%, but notes that this correlation is only based on 19 data points… so it’s likely not too accurate. Yet.

I did pretty okay getting rolling on the goals and the logging in the last week and a bit of February, and I’ll continue that process in March. I’ve got a badass spreadsheet even, very loosely based on the life goals spreadsheet tutorial from Ryan Dube.

sleep graph

Note that even though I have my goals defined, certain ones—like sleep—probably do better with context. For now, I’m just interested in the raw numbers and can map it out against other factors later. Cycling, however, based on my not-too-intensive 40 minute/week goal, isn’t too lofty of a goal to achieve (which means I should at least have 20 minutes this week considering it is Wednesday, no? :]) 

Here’s where I’m at in terms of goals for March. While I set goals within Optimized (which Ari, the happy little robot, will tell me about), the nice thing about this system via Excel is that I can map things out in terms of progress. With the chart above, you’ll see each bar shows how close I was to my goal of 7 hours 35 minutes (7.56 hours) of sleep, or the progress towards my weekly goal for cycling. Certain goals also are monthly, which means I have a weekly progress-towards-monthly-goal bar, and then a final bar. 

Because nerd things, duh.

These are the goals I’ve got all mapped out in spreadsheet form for March, broken into the categories from from Optimized over there. Health, Routine, Pleasure and Creativity. Below, I’ve vaguely split the lists into physical, spiritual/emotional (/creative), social, occupational, and intellectual wellness.

  • Sleep, about 7.5 hours a night
  • Exercise [total: 21 minutes, 4 days per week—not a lot but more than I am doing]
    • Cycling – 40 minutes per week
    • Dance – 1 hour per month
    • Yoga – 30 minutes per week (I should get on that.
  • Meds, 5 minutes a day (this is approximate but should be enough to mean I am taking everything I should be taking… including the often-forgotten midday doses.)
  • Brush teeth, 4 minutes a day (2 minutes, twice a day)
  • Meditation, 20 minutes per week
  • Journaling, 5 minutes per day
  • Personal blog, 1 hour/week (so you’ll be seeing more of me)
  • Creating, 1 hour/week (this is called visual arts in Optimized)
  • Movie making – 1 hour/month
  • Spend more time with more people (I quantified this as “4 hours per month with people from the “friends” category in Optimized.
  • Look for [more] work, 1 hour per week
  • Work – blogging, 3 hours per week
  • Creative writing – 20 minutes/day (may overlap with personal blogging, etc.)
  • Log finances – 5 minutes/day (I’m using an app called DayCost for this. All manual because I am not into a 3rd party app connecting to my banks.)
  • Reading for fun – 30 minutes per week
  • Web surfing – maximum 6 hours per day (let’s be honest… this can suck a lot of time but also my work kind of overlaps with web surfing sometimes.)
It’s a pretty ambitious list so the rationale for the Excel spreadsheet is to see how close I get, and how to adjust these things later on.

I also have a to-do list of things I never accomplish. So, here’s what I’ve got on there because maybe that will make me accountable.

  • Smart Girls with ADHD Guest Post (184 days ago)
  • Another item for SGwADHD (66 days ago)
  • Buy new bed skirt (Why are these things so hard to find? 56 days ago)
  • Read and review book (I am the worst person to give an ARC to, clearly – 45 days ago)
  • Final eCare Smart blog post (21 days ago – waiting on an e-mail)
  • Buy spray paint for pegboard (12 days ago)
  • Buy hooks for pegboard (12 days ago)
  • E-mail organ donor/transplant interview (10 days ago)

So. March.
Here goes.

goals for 2016: simplicity.

I’m not a resolutionist for the simple reason is that I don’t think resolutions help to build habits. People get off to a great start or a bad start and often that sets the tone for the year—at some point, I read on Forbes.com that only 8% of people accomplish their new years resolutions. And I’d probably definitely be in the 92% that doesn’t. (Look, I’m not being a defeatist here, just honest.)

Simplicity.

Simplicity is the intention here. Akin to the final notes of 2015’s soundtrack, here’s what I’m aiming to accomplish in 2016—even if that takes me the next 362 days to sort-of get right.

1) Write with my hands more. 
I picked up a couple unlined Moleskines on sale at Home Outfitters on Boxing Day. Since January 1, I’ve been trying to write daily, even if just a few lines (or, not lines. I’m hoping to be freed by the totally blank pages. 

Not that I consistently write on lines or anything. Overrated.

2) Read 40 books.
It’s a little more realistic than 75. In progress—new for 2016—Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick and an advance review copy of a book called Millersville by Brendan Detzner.

3) That self-care/mindfulness/exercise/wellness thing.

4) Create.
Even if that’s just colouring, or writing more (even typing). In some fashion, I want to aim to write (non-work-things) for 20 minutes a day—at least. Goes back to the “just start” thing.

5) Engage more on Twitter.
Sometimes it seems like it’s counter productive to have a goal to engage more with people on social media, but you know what? I think I engaged a lot less that year, and realized repeatedly how much I missed it. So, the Twitter part of my heart is getting some focus. 🙂

That’s it.

Keeping it simple—God knows I’ll complicate stuff in other ways. Let’s go.

productivity, yoga pants, and camp nanowrimo

Good morning, April.

[That sounds like I’m writing to a person instead of a month.]

Somehow, this morning I was out of bed by 8:45—miraculous, really, as I shut down SleepCycle at 8:32. I proceeded to eat a chocolate chip cookie, and sit down and write 555 words. By 10:30 AM. While still wearing yoga pants. 

I’ve just smashed a theory here, people. My theory was “I can’t be productive if I’m wearing sweat pants.” (Unless per chance yoga pants are a magically productive form of sweat pants?).

Through university, I also had this thing in my head where I could not wear sweatpants to class unless obviously a) I was in the gym for class, b) I had a lab (which would have amounted to either a physical activity related lab OR anatomy lab. Anything goes in anatomy lab, really.) or, on very few occasions, c) I was sick (and by sick, I mean actually sick—like on prednisone sick, or I-went-to-class-the-day-after-emergency-surgery sick. Not “Real People Sick”). Sweat pants were also allowed in exams, of course.  Except the one time for my Sport Psychology exam (my last ever exam) where I wore my Boston Marathon jersey from Steve and tried to wear sweat pants but that was actually too comfortable, so I put jeans on before I even left the house. Can’t be too comfortable in an exam—the Boston jersey had just enough proper vibe for sport psych. (This was also the exam where I got a whole freaking classroom to myself because of accommodations, except unlike the usual testing rooms, it had windows. I’m sure I stared out them for a bit.)

Anyways, it’s Camp Nanowrimo time, and I am (as I was in November) trying to complete Nanowrimo. 10K words in 30 days. (Completing Nanowrimo is called winning. Except as I learned in sport psychology, and other classes, survey says kids say that having fun is more important than winning, so I plan to have fun?). Perhaps to add to the success is being in Camp Nanowrimo Cabin with 11 others attempting to write young adult books this month.

Maybe if I get ambitious (and keep up the momentum towards 1,667 words per day), I should Blog Every Day April along with NaNoWriMo. Too much? Probably. Though last night’s post did go up at 12 AM, so I’ve actually done two posts today.

plan, initiate… result?: reflecting on goal progress [from 2011?!]

So this, this is all too true. And with that, I present, Goals from 2011 – Revisited.

Small things

  • Focus on the good things.
  • Complete the onehundredpushups program and not derail. Yes, I am doing girly push-ups. It is better than no push-ups.  If all goes well, this will be completed by the end of January.
  • Stop making Saturday and Sunday the exception: 
    • the weekend is not an excuse to only brush my teeth once a day instead of twice
    • it is not an excuse to forgo a workout or two
    • and it is not a cop out for eating all kinds of random food.
  • Become more reliable at hitting up the cardio workouts 45 minutes/day, 5 days/week.
  • Read over the day’s notes when I get home from school and make study notes as the term goes on, because it will make finals suck less.

Bigger things

  • Health advocacy: do new things, reach beyond what I’ve already been doing in some way.  [Maybe that’s doing more races sporting the Team Asthma gear, maybe that’s trying to see if volunteering at asthma camp will work this year, maybe that’s giving my time and my own body for research if I’m eligible.  It could be a lot of things, or all of these things].
  • Actually walk a half marathon.  I’ve been saying I’m going to do one for about two years, so let’s make 2012 the year pending all goes as planned.
  • Work with others to help them realize their own potential, be a part of that ripple effect.
  • Figure out where I’m at with God.
  • Make another attempt at the 365 project.
  • Hesitate less, do more.

So. How have I done?

Focus on the Good Things: It’s a conscious choice, but I try to nail it every. Single. Day. And I think I’m succeeding for the most part.

Onehundredpushups: Nope. I can safely say that I have not, nor am I trying presently, to be able to do 100 pushups… of any sort.

Stop making Saturday and Sunday the Exception: Here’s the issue: every day is Saturday and Sunday to me right now. Which means that I try often and fail at brushing my teeth twice daily—I always get bedtime in, morning is a bit tougher to remember and I don’t know why—I can tell you that I haven’t done any working out since several weeks ago when I impulsively bought a yoga app and did a yoga workout I really enjoyed and then… didn’t touch it again—and, I eat random food all the time. Right now I have Combos beside me. If you want to talk about random food, that is the epitome of it right there.

Become more reliable about hitting up the cardio workouts: 2013 derailed this because I was sick for so much of it. But you know what? it’s effing over. 2013 is effing over and it has been for a long time, and yes that got me off track but it is no reason to still be off track.

Studying: Currently irrelevant, but I can say I never really made good on this, except for in Anatomy round 3.

Health advocacy: In the big picture, I have done this—when I wrote this, I had maybe haphazardly filled out an app to medicine-x at Stanford… But then I got in for 2012. I had yet to learn of attending the World Congress of Asthma with the Asthma Society in Quebec City in 2012. And, I had yet to know that I’d start taking on more roles with the ASC, link up with the Canadian Severe Asthma Network, attend MedX again, and, most importantly, find more ways to practice everyday advocacy within the places I was all the time: school and work. So I’m going to give this a check mark—but it’s a constant growth, and I still have more work to do. See also: Badassmatics!

Actually walk a half-marathon: I don’t even know if this is on the goals anymore to be perfectly honest. But maybe see that thing about cardio above.

Work with others to help them realize their own potential, be part of that ripple effect. I’m gonna give this one a check-mark, but once again, that isn’t something that ends.

Figure out where I’m at with God. My journal would indicate that is still a big question mark, but it’s actually something I’ve been contemplating in the last week. And, I feel like I might never figure that out and that’s just part of my story.

Make another attempt at the 365 project. CHECK MARK. More to come on this!

Hesitate less, do more. Sometimes I meet random strangers off the internet in airports in a country I don’t live in, and they drive you down me state awhile and drop me off to crash in a hotel with someone I also don’t know. And then I repeat that process in a few different ways in a few different states. And, sometimes those people end up becoming your best friends. That’s a pretty extreme example, and I’m sure there was a lot of reservation, but… adventure is really not born of extreme caution, it’s born of optimism and trusting your instincts. And, it’s worked for me.

There are certainly things to build off of here, but the important thing is, I have been building. But, I need to act more, and more fully. And I know this—I just have to harness the energy to make it all happen, because I can. In the coming weeks, I’ll revamp the goals list for 2015—and be doing some introspection surrounding previous goals lists, too.

Even though I am to not be bound by calendar years, yes, that fresh start effect everyone gets so into is contagious.