Hello again, 1001

In which I start a roundup of what I’ve accomplished and learned over the course of this list, beginning with a big goal that didn’t work out at all as I’d envisioned (#7).

sunrise

Today marks the end of my third 101 list, and I’m really thrilled with how it’s closing out. Surprisingly contented and excited.

I expected the conclusion of this list to be bittersweet because I spent most of the 1001 feeling disconnected from myself. When things were so hard after I had my son, lots of people encouraged me to find something to do for myself. Something I enjoyed or that recharged me. I looked to my 101, which I’d intended to be a road map “back” to myself, and drew blanks. Motherhood was a profoundly unsettling experience. I lost time, energy, and had little to no sense of self. Looking at my list felt like reading someone else’s goals. I felt discouraged not because I wasn’t accomplishing things but because I didn’t feel any sparks of interest. I resented that I’d felt like I needed to improve myself or fix my habits. What more could I possibly do in one day?

I particularly struggled with the one goal I thought would be most helpful: a fairly open-ended challenge to make a plan to maintain three important aspects of my life over the first year with a kid, with monthly actions and results. I wanted to hold myself accountable to not lose track of everything and not become one of those mothers who have no other interests beyond their kid. Instead it just seemed like a reminder of how differently hard things were than I thought they’d be. As I struggled with feelings of isolation, ineptitude, and discouragement, this goal was getting under my skin. I thought I’d be good at this. I thought I’d be bouncing back after four months. I thought I’d handle this better, be happier, be able to be the same person as before and just add on this new role to my sense of self…

But the 101 also really helped me start back to a more balanced and sane view of my life. Even if I couldn’t quite get hyped for some of my goals, I could still relate to my big five wants from a 2011 blog challenge. And then I could see that I had been working on some of the goals all along, because they were still things that were applicable to my new life. Which led to recognizing other things that were applicable, which led to recognizing other things…

Of course, now I know that there were so many other things affecting that first year or so that I couldn’t see at the time. Reflux medicine was like a glimpse into another world. Weaning was downright thrilling. And, after months of being the only one seeing and dealing with it, having someone else recognize a sensory meltdown was healing.

Which brings me here. 1001 days, one pregnancy, one c-section, one son, and one (long) dark time later. 1001 days, immeasurable baby kisses, one SPD diagnosis, seven months of life-changing occupational therapy, and two new friends later. 1001 days, sixty-seven goals attempted, and fifty-two goals completed later. Fifty-two! That’s only two fewer than my last list.

And I’m closing things out feeling great about this last year. I didn’t maintain any aspect of my pre-kid life. I reacted to that goal in a very opposite, negative way when it came down to it. And now, I know why — I can feel it. I’m done with looking backwards. I don’t want to maintain something that once felt right or important. I want to progress to something that feels right and important right now. I don’t want to wonder when or how I’ve changed, I want to explore how I’ll change next.

I’ll be mining my list for what worked for me and what didn’t as I post about those goals I attempted or completed. At this end, I’m looking forward to the beginning of another list in January. I have no idea what will be on it. I have no idea how it will be structured. But this list really reminded me that I could take small, seemingly inconsequential steps towards the life I want to live. I had 101 reminders. It didn’t matter what they were or how many I completed.

All that mattered was taking step after step after step.

In that way, I think this was my most successful 1001 yet.

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Welcome, 2016

2015-11-17 09.36.15In which I get started on actions for the new month to maintain my life (#7), including a new interpretation of an old goal (#101), daily posts (#48),  and new shoes (#76).

Happy new year! Is it infecting you with a desire to do more, to be more, to really get it right?

Can you send some my way?

While you do that, I’ll continue to muddle through. This month will be a big reset for my daily routines and my environment — and I hope to proceed gracefully through it. I’m prioritizing my 101 as I enter the last nine months of my 1001. I am struggling more than ever with balancing finding my sense of self again and getting through the days. I carefully prepped a path forward when I created this list, now I just need to follow it. I’ll be combining my monthly actions to maintain three important aspects of my life with the remaining goals on my list and trying to make the most out of my limited energy.

January actions:

To address being active and present in my life, I am going to recommit to my family five year journal, a new interpretation of #101 (regularly keep a journal for a year). I am adding it to my new end-of-day wind down. I hope that it will help me reflect on the differences in my days as well as the small moments that define most of them.

To tackle routines that support but not restrict me, I’m forcing momentum and posting every day this month, #48. I’ve done that on of both my previous lists and found it really helpful. I have a lot to talk about since I’ve been so absent here while slowly working on my list. But I hope that carving out habitual time here on the blog will help me make the most of the time I have for myself in other ways, too. I need to make self-care a routine rather than a special event. I’m trying to make the routines as pleasurable as I can, so I’ll also be making some improvements to the blog along the way and posting more photos.

In order to get back to feeling awesome, I’m still working on my wardrobe challenge with the best friend (finding links from one part of my wardrobe to others) all in the pursuit of  #76 and an easy wardrobe that I love. I need to get out of the house each day, so I’m buying into the idea that there is no bad weather, only bad gear. (Except for ice. Ice is bad weather.) I’m on the hunt for clothes that function in more than one season, make me happy, and remove one of the excuses to wallow at home. Plus, I have no shoes with which I can wear socks, and winter is cold. So there’s that, too.

It was bittersweet for me to say goodbye to 2015. It was a hard year with lots of great milestones that I often overlooked because of the great challenges. I’m determined 2016 will be different. To use this list as a catalyst for changes I think I need to end this next year with more grace and joy. To look back and recognize things I can do differently in the coming weeks.

I might have infected myself with some new year’s spirit after all. Welcome, 2016.

December Monthly Goals

In which I create actions for the new month to maintain my life (#7).

To address being active and present in my life, I’m turning to photography again. I’m hoping to work on my composition like I did back in September, but also post a daily photo to Instagram. I’m not sure how I feel about the service yet, but I have been feeling boring and isolated, so I’m going to give it a real go and see if it is a good fit for me.

To tackle routines that support but not restrict me, I’m focusing on evening wind down this month. There’s going to be a lot going on and a lot to keep up with. I hope that I can cultivate a little calm at the end of the day. Chamomile tea hot toddy, I’m looking at you.

In order to get back to feeling awesome, I’m continuing to work on my wardrobe challenge with the best friend. We’ve been focusing on creating links being what is working in our wardrobe. So far, I’ve heavily committed to base layers. I refuse to be trapped in the house just because the weather is colder, so that means undershirts, leggings, tights, etc. It is making a big difference. I also bought a bunch of things in the recent holiday sales, so I’ll be trying to see if I can make things I already have work harder with those additions.

I’m ready to get on with December.

Attitude: “Not Today” is OK

In which I recount my third attitude from a blog challenge by the lovely Katie W.

I have been working on Katie’s blog challenge. Let me recap: Katie challenged me to “Decide on an attitude (or four) that you want and believe you can change.” I’ve interpreted this challenge in the realm of my big five, and did really well on week one, “This will help.” My second attitude “Awesome is as awesome does” took a bit more work, and continues to take a bit of focus. But I turned my attention to my next major goal: to have routines that support but not restrict me.

I’ve been working on hitting that balance for a few weeks now, and I honestly have some trouble. On some days, it really just feels like one more thing, and these days I’m feeling like one more thing might break my sanity. (Makes you really want to hang out with me in blog-space, right?) So I’ve been focusing on the idea that choosing not to do something is as productive as deciding on regular routines in the first place. It feels very wrong, but I need the regular routines just as much as I need the ability to blow them off to prevent myself from getting too stressed.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on:

I started with some routines that I’ve already been working on over my 101. I’ve been exercising in the mornings, and making the bed first thing.

daily cleaning cardsI’ve re-written my daily cleaning cards to be more realistic than my old arrangement used to be. Look at all that! Now it says something more like one specific load of laundry, two specific small jobs in a room. Just enough to help me keep ahead of the rest of the mess, but isn’t going to feel like a big deal, no matter if I’m completing the chores or blowing them off.

fa open faced sandwichesI am trying to make one new food-adventure meal each week. I’ve really completed this goal, just haven’t gotten around to posting about it. I like the challenge of making something new. It makes me think more about dinner, and encourages us to eat at the table and talk to each other rather than ending up in front of the TV, watching something that neither of us care about.

Related to the two strategies above, I’ve also been making a weekly meal plan and identifying a few things that we want to tackle around the house each week, and a larger chore that we’ll each take care of. It gives us a bit of flexibility as to when we do the work, but gets things done. I like that we each are responsible for something — it helps me not to feel like I’m the only one working around the house.

I’ve been trying to get back to blogging and enjoying it. I have a bunch of goals that I’ve worked on, but blogging that progress has too often felt like such a chore, rather than a supporting part of my routine. I’ve always written this blog for myself, and counted my interaction with the few people who read it as a bonus. I’m going to make more of an effort to be present here, because it is one more way that I can fight the funk.

The big attitude adjustment comes with giving myself a pass for a day, for a week, whatever I need. I am challenging myself more, but not beating myself up if I can’t meet my own goals. It’s a hard balance to hit, between being reasonable about things and still giving myself enough work to make a difference in my surroundings. I know that visual clutter brings my mood down, but some days I just want to crash with a book or a new TV show. I know that blogging helps me focus on my progress and feel like I’m improving myself, but some nights I just can’t stand one more minute in front of the computer.

I haven’t fixed my attitude on this yet, but it’s better. And hey, it’s ok that I haven’t gotten everything figured out for today.

Attitude: Awesome is as Awesome Does

In which I recount my lengthy second attitude from a blog challenge by the lovely Katie W.

Despite the long silence, I have been working on Katie’s blog challenge. Let me recap: Katie challenged me to “Decide on an attitude (or four) that you want and believe you can change.” I’ve interpreted this challenge in the realm of my big five, and did really well on week one, “This will help.” When I changed my focus to changing attitudes related to feeling awesome … I hit walls.

I have not been feeling awesome. Which is not to say that I’ve been unhappy, particularly, but I have been feeling rushed, overworked, underpaid, and generally blah. Which I tend to think is a bit worse, you know? If I’m unhappy, at least I generally know why. This messy limbo was infuriating, in part, because there was objectively nothing wrong. If I could just get it together, I should be able to change my attitude.

The first week I focused on this, I really made no progress. I was so lost that I couldn’t even identify attitudes that I needed to work on. I started by trying to change “I don’t have time for this” to “I need to make time for this.” Baths, creative projects, hanging out with the lovely Katie herself. But the big creative project turned into a stressful lack of progress, and I was feeling guilty for the time spent on other small indulgences. Hanging out was lovely, but I was still spending too much mental energy on what I was ignoring and putting off.

Then my brother- and sister-in-law came to visit for two weeks, along with their two kiddos. I had fun with them, and some thought-provoking long talks with my sister-in-law in particular, and things were looking up for feeling awesome. This was the week that I really refined my approach: rather than focusing on “making time,” I began focusing on taking action. Any action. For me, I decided that “Awesome is as awesome does.” I enabled HOURS of fun for my nephew by putting a simple bag of pom-poms (“fuzzies!”) in an empty tissue box. I soothed the baby by singing songs that made me happy. I challenged myself to keep working on the creative project a bit at a time, during this teleconference or while that file loads. And the small actions began to pull me out of my general funk.

The two weeks after that were consumed by a much more literal definition of feeling awesome — both the hubs and I got really sick with nasty colds. The first week passed in a haze of cold medicine and cough drops. (I even took some time off of work, the first time I’ve taken non-migraine sick leave in the FOUR AND A HALF YEARS since I started telecommuting.) The week after, I picked my sister-in-law’s brain (she’s a nurse) for a list of medicines she recommends having on hand. I’ll be slowly purchasing those things so that I will be ready for the next time plague strikes my house.

On the final week, I attempted to turn my attitude around on a major black hole for feeling awesome — my work. I spent two days in the office, attempting to bring some co-workers up to speed on a project that I’m wrapping up after over two year’s worth of work. I left the office feeling pretty good: I’d met with my boss for a good long while, both co-workers seemed to have had breakthroughs while we reviewed the new processes, and I’d finally gotten a new phone that doesn’t update in the middle of phone calls. Since that time, I’d dropped back to earth a little bit, but still not back to the previous lows. Hopefully I’ll be able to wrap up the project and minimize my involvement in it in the future by the end of this week, which will be a big game-changer.

I’m definitely still challenging myself to continue to take small actions. I’ve initiated making plans with two friends, I’ve identified some challenging work that I can do on the house and my 101 without being in front of the computer — a big reason why I’ve not been blogging as much this 1001 is because I just can’t stand sitting in front of the computer at the end of the work day. I’m even spending my birthday money on some treats, some savings on some fabulous new clothes, and getting ready to ignore the financial challenges we’re facing to plan some new porch furniture and an international trip for the fall. If I can continue to take these small actions, I’ll be feeling awesome in no time.