Tag Archives: reading

Update on my 2019 “resolutions”


It’s over 6 months – yikes over half way – into 2019. Time for an update on my kinda, sorta resolutions. This is my second year nailing down specific, simple things I’d like to accomplish. I consider it a positive new thing. It gives focus and a certain order to my year.

I have read 25 books. The goal, which I expected to exceed, was 20. The most recent was the 400+ page Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It’s part memoir, part nonfiction, a fascinating book for anyone psychologically minded. It gave me a lot to think about. It’s the longest book I’ve read since I got serious about reading again (less internet, more books).

I have slacked entirely so far as continuing the Italian language cds I started in late 2018. I think it’s because I didn’t feel successful. I never felt I had a knack for languages and I can’t say my opinion has improved! I will try again but maybe a different cd set. I can’t give up this easily; I mean, geez, I should nail down a few phrases at least.

I have kept up my crossword puzzles hobby and, as planned, got a hold of several New York Times Sunday papers so I could try theirs. I really like the NYT puzzle. The puzzles increase in difficulty over the course of a week (one of my commenters pointed this out to me but I didn’t know which day the NYT “week” officially started). The puzzle is easiest on Monday and most difficult Saturday,  with Sunday’s puzzle being equivalent to a Thursday in difficulty. Having that measuring stick is useful.

I didn’t do as well on all the puzzles I tried as the one pictured but I’m still pecking away at them (without using the internet for solutions). The puzzles are created by different people and a short bio is included. A 25 year old named Erik Agard, a professional puzzle maker, had, as of June 2, contributed nine puzzles to the Times this year, more than anyone else. Professional puzzle maker! At 25!! I look at the puzzles and (very) vaguely wonder if I could make them. I don’t see how you’d even begin. Daunting. Which makes the 25 year old maker that much more impressive.

My favorite thing from the NYT however, is “Spelling Bee” , a challenge of making words from proffered letters. I don’t know exactly what it is about this but I love coming up with words. I need a framework though, and as with “Spelling Bee” a way to rate my progress. The Times has: Good, Excellent, and Genius scores. Naturally I’m striving for Genius! And occasionally with actual success! (So why aren’t there JOBS that need such a skill?😕) Useful or not, I always enjoyed finding words from random letters but now I see the importance of such word games in keeping your mind sharp, more so as you age.  Mental (and physical) challenges were part of 2019’s resolutions.

My self-instructed yoga got off to a good start. I’ve done the “sun salutation” – a five minute pose set – 21 of a planned 50 times. Additionally I’ve done 30 minutes plus of yoga 12 of 25 planned times. I haven’t been doing yoga recently because I’m very active outdoors in Spring and Summer and I really don’t need extra exercise. I’ll plan to pick it back up later in the year. Since I’ve done just about half, I think I should hit my goals by December’s end. I’m intent enough that I bought a DVD player for the TV in the living room – the only spot in the home big enough – where I “practice” yoga, primarily using library DVDs. I tried different ones to see who I’d like. I’ve never used exercise DVDs so this is new. It kind of makes you feel like you have company although I wonder if repeatedly watching the same one or few would get old? (I won’t pony up for classes and don’t feel the need.) I think if you get bored of hearing the same things, you can turn the volume down and just follow the poses.

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Sun Salutation (simple 5-minute set of poses

 

I regularly de-clutter and get rid of stuff – and have been at it for years – so at the end of December I made a modest goal to get rid of 15 things. What was I thinking?! I’ve already let go of 125 things. I surprised myself. Getting rid of stuff is addictive, though. And really, I’m down to almost all little things. It feels awfully good to shake off debris that no longer serves you. Keeping a list makes it more fun. Same with the other numerical goals.

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A sample selection

 

I have not made any Thai food (yet). A Thai-inspired Cole Slaw prompted that goal.i

This wasn’t in the January post but after an unusual year of indulgence of sorts (relative I assure you) I wanted to bring my food spending down. I was prompted to spend less as a goal because the  $2,200 I spent on food in 2018 seemed like a lot and was decidedly more than I’d ever spent. I have markedly cut my food spending in the first 6 months of 2019 but I wonder how much of that owes to the fact I had, I see in retrospect, the equivalent of a small grocery store in my home! I had quite a stockpile going on. You’d think a stash like that would just last & last but no, it seems I ate most of it.😐

In the first six months I spent $766 on food, which, if doubled and divided by 365 is about $4.20 a day. I did this NOT by dieting or going hungry but by eliminating pricier products or prepared foods like the $5 pound of hummus I treated myself to occasionally in 2018. (That hummus is now $5.50 and shouldn’t a home cook like me be making her own hummus anyway?) I bought only fish (frozen or canned) and shellfish, no other animals (which is not to say I never will but as of now have no thought to). Other than Olive and Sesame I haven’t bought any fancy oils, such as the delicious Avocado oil I bought a few times in 2018. I’ve eaten well, nutritiously, and plentifully (I have to for my activity level), no complaints. At this rate, one I’m not sure I’ll maintain, I’d spend $600 less on food this year than last. I’ll be satisfied if I cut it by $300 (more beans, less pasta.😁) and that seems like a realistic or probable savings by year’s end.

The only real indulgence I’ve kept – so far – is an occasional bottle of Kalamata Olives. The point of cutting my food spending isn’t to be a martyr or self-punishing in any respect. I ADORE food and its importance in my life can’t be overstated. It’s to see if I can spend less and still be happy with my food and to get myself to make even more foods at home.

I’ve watched (or watched again) two Marx Brothers films. Who said goals can’t be fun?! I know I need it, more levity, and the Marx Brothers are a sure thing. I have watched A LOT of movies and several series this year but I’m not too concerned so long as nothing more important is short-changed. This is the first time I’ve kept a list; I simply had no idea how many hours I spend watching DVDs and I wanted to know.IMG_20190708_122736

Lastly, I ‘m maintaining my physical health and with the yoga earlier this year, definitely challenging myself. I was pleased to find I kept up with everything the instructors were doing in the DVDs. On other fronts, I haven’t mastered a chin-up or pull-up 😁 – something I’ve mentioned – but I don’t really expect to.

“Horror”

When I was young I read horror. Not exclusively (there was a time in my teens when I read lots of romance novels too, the so-called “bodice rippers”, suggesting I wasn’t exactly stuck on one genre) but I was definitely drawn to it. Stephen King was a favorite. At the time critics were hard on him – I remember one comparing him to the literary equivalent of a Bic Mac & fries – which I found unjustified and unfair. I saw his books as novels first, with well-drawn characters and believable dialogue, and the horror aspects while not incidental, as vehicles in his story-telling.

Then there was actual horror in my real life and although I can’t say that was the only reason, in retrospect it was certainly a large one in why I stopped reading fictional horror. I lost my taste for it.

Many years passed. As I’ve blogged before, while I still read some books, newspapers, and magazines, the internet, in the last ten years or so, became the primary focus of my reading, the culprit that slowly damaged my ability to sit down with a book. I still thought of myself as a “reader” but how many books was I actually consuming? Not so many it turns out. I was not happy with myself. I’d let the internet take a dominant place in my life and not entirely for the better.

In 2018, among other goals, I planned to read 20 books. At year’s end, I’d read 30. I set the same goal for 2019 an I’ve already read 24 this year. LESS INTERNET MORE BOOKS.

Although I’d shied from him for a long time, I’d not forgotten my earlier attachment to King. His output and his stature as a writer have only grown. At one point I’d known that he’d even assumed a pseudonym for a series of books in order to temporarily escape the fame and reputation his own name held. I wondered if I could – or should – read him again. I wasn’t sure if it would appeal so I started with a slim newer volume, Elevation. Then I picked up Pet Sematary, a book I’d read long ago and was aware had been made into a movie last year (one I haven’t seen). It had been such a long time I remembered only that it was a book about pets coming back to life and being “not quite right.” I knocked out the 400-page novel in 4 days (the way I USED to read). This book is so much more than I recalled, which admittedly wasn’t much.

Pet Sematary is largely a book about grief. Dealing with loss. In part I want to say, how had I not seen or remembered that from my first read but I know the answer. I was young when I read it. I didn’t really know about grief. I am newly blown away by King’s insights, insights he had as a relatively young man (it’s noted that he wrote the book from ’79-’82), but he was a father of young children and although I’m not a parent, I have an understanding now of the love and fear that go into a good parent’s sense of responsibility for their children.

Humor loops through the tale as well as dread, a dark humor perhaps, yet one I appreciate deeply and recognize as a tool in my own arsenal for dealing with those parts of life which are unfathomable and threaten to crush those they strike.

If you love you will lose. Be that love for a person or a pet, the risk is always there. If you live long enough and you are capable of feeling, losing beloved people (and animals) to death is a given. And it changes people. Some never recover. Not unlike those brought back to life in Pet Sematary, they are never “quite the same” again.

It’s true of me. I’m not the same as I was when I first read King’s book. I already knew that but this book’s deeper meanings weren’t wholly apparent to me. While I no doubt enjoyed the book the first time I read it, there were elements to the horror that would have been lost to me because I’d yet to live them. This second read made that so very clear.

If it was possible, to what end would you go to “bring back” a pet or person who had died? Would you if you could? Even if they weren’t “quite right?” Even if it meant tangling around with dark forces that weren’t entirely benign and perhaps far worse? Pet Sematary wades into those murky waters and even though it’s a work of fiction, the questions it poses, even if posed metaphorically, are provocative.

In my own life I’ve worked hard to accept the deaths of people and animals I’ve loved. I felt convinced that how you handled loss – handled death – could and likely would determine how you conducted – and experienced – your life.

Makin’ progress on my 2019 “resolutions”

It’s time for a little update on my kinda, sorta, resolutions for 2019. I’m off to a good start.  I’ve read 9 books (the year’s goal is 20) but I actually think nine isn’t that many because I started several I didn’t finish so they don’t count. I’ve been having trouble finding books that really hold me. My attention wanders or I’m not anxious to pick the book up again after starting it. I know completely what it is to fall into a book, to be absorbed and excited and unable to stop turning pages. THAT’S what I want but lately that hasn’t happened so much. The books are “okay” just not blowing me away. Best one so far was Kathryn Harrison’s book of essays, True Crimes: A family album.

Yesterday I started reading Chuck Klosterman’s collection of essays X: A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century and I’m happy to say, it’s going fast. He is so readable especially to anyone prone to analyzing, particularly pop culture.

The yoga is off to an excellent start. I’ve done the “Sun Salutation” sixteen times (the goal for the year is 50) and I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga eleven times (the goal is 25). I never used exercise videos before but to teach myself yoga, I’ve been checking DVDs out of the public library. I’ve done five different ones. My impression so far is that yoga is no different than anything else; instructors have very different styles & approaches. For instance, one instructor says always breathe through your nose and out your mouth while doing the poses and another says always breathe in through your nose and out through your nose. I don’t really care one way or the other; the breathing aspect is not my concern. My exhaling while practicing yoga is most obvious to me; it’s a sign I’m relaxing.  I like teachers I can relate to, who have a sense of humor, and aren’t overly rigid; to that end I can already tell I prefer Tara Stiles over Rodney Yee, for an example (of two well-known instructors).

To me, yoga is exercise focusing on balance, strength, and stretch. The way I see it, most of us over time limit our range of motion which doesn’t serve us as we age. Yoga positions aren’t ones you’d typically find yourself in on the average day. Like, how often does any of us make a point to bend over backward or remember to stretch out our spine or balance on one foot or swing our feet over our head while laying down? I dunno about you but these things aren’t in my usual day’s repertoire of motion. Yoga gets you to make a point of these things and much more.

I’m not going to tell you my life is transformed but I am sure yoga is good for me, physically and mentally. However much I do of it. I think it helps you to not take your body for granted and to become aware of it and everything it does for you. And — quality of life is often attached to strength and range of motion. The longer you  can remain strong and agile, the better off you will be as you age. This is my take. I am the one taking care of me so I have a BIG investment in staying strong and capable.

I made simple loose leaf lists to keep track of my progress. In my experience, things – of pretty much any stripe – are always longer ago than I remember them, so the lists keep me on track. I can take a quick look and see, “Oops, I haven’t done yoga in a week!” Since I’m far more a when-the-spirit-moves-me-person than one-who-adheres-to-a-strict-routine, this works well.

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I’m more active in warm weather so, since I don’t belong to a gym (and never have) I really need to make a point to keep moving in winter. I wanted this to be a year of getting physically stronger. Not that I’m any slouch, but I wanted to do more. I’ve been walking a lot and using my treadmill, a manual one someone gave away in 2017, on days I don’t walk outdoors. I’m doing pushups (the man kind) and using my hand weights. I didn’t include this in my resolutions, but I’m also regularly using the hula hoop I picked up at Target a couple years ago. I’d like to think it works your mid-section but even if it doesn’t, any kind of motion, I figure, is good.

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Switching gears, I have to make fun of myself yet again for thinking it might be “hard” to find fifteen things to get rid of this year. See, I’ve already done all kinds of de-cluttering in years past. I read Throw Out Fifty Things and Peter Walsh’s book and more recently even Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy (although I’ve never seen her show). No one would walk into my home – I promise – and think I had a clutter problem or needed to get rid of stuff. And YET…. I’ve already put 97 things on my list!! I’ll grant you, almost all were small items, but still, that’s 97 things given away, recycled, or tossed. Here’s a small section of the list to show you. (As you see, I editorialize myself occasionally with things like an UNHAPPY face, which is basically me rolling my eyes at myself.)

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I’m slacking on the Italian CDs. I have the Conversational Italian CD set out of the library but I haven’t gotten past lesson 6, meaning basically I haven’t done any in 2019. My goal was to get through all the lessons but I’m no longer sure I will. I’ve never felt I had a knack for anything other than the English language and trying these Italian lessons, sadly, hasn’t changed my mind.  I haven’t learned nothing exactly; I can say – poorly – that I speak a little Italian. I should probably learn how to say I speak VERY little Italian.

On whole, I’m feeling good about all this. I might do some yoga, and I might read some books, and I might throw out stuff  with no resolutions and no lists but with the resolutions and my simple lists, I KNOW I’m doing it. 2019 is about pushing myself physically and mentally, preventing drift and being more focused. I like it.

My Kinda, Sorta New Year’s Resolutions 2019

As I did last year I’ve decided on a few, albeit not exactly typical, goals for the year. I actually started on them in the last week or so of December; I didn’t see any reason to wait. The thing about goals is you want to make them specific, so it’s not “lose weight” for example, but “walk thirty minutes three times a week” if that’s an area you want to improve. I find it’s very helpful to write things down and in 2018 it gave me real satisfaction to keep adding entries to the simple lists I kept on loose leaf paper.

First is to read 20 books, same as last year. (I read 30 in 2018 after all was said and done.)
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I want to try yoga so my first goal is to do the Sun Salutation fifty times. There’s a couple variations of it; the link is to a 10-pose version but the one I’ve been doing has 12 positions. Doing the poses takes about a minute and I repeat them five times; it doesn’t take long at all. It’s a matter – for me – of slowing myself down and making a point of doing it.
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In addition, I will also commit to doing 30 minutes of yoga 25 times. I found a one-inch thick (this matters) yoga mat on Amazon for $10 so I’m all set. If I do more yoga, that’s fine, but the idea is to get started and see how it affects me. One thing I’ve already noticed is my obvious exhaling while doing yoga (and other stretching type exercise). I think it’s a kind of de-stressing exhaling. Have I been – has my response to recent life been – “holding my breath”? I think maybe so.
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If I can get a hold of it I want to try the New York Times Crossword. I am in a regular crossword habit but that is one I haven’t tried yet.

I plan(ned) to get rid of fifteen things.
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HOWEVER I started on this at the end of December and, having had the time and energy for this project, I’ve actually already gotten rid of – give away, recycle, throw away – over 50 things! I don’t know what I was thinking when in an earlier post I shared my concern that I thought, given how many things I’ve already shed in years past, that 15 might be a tricky goal. Man, was I wrong. Most of the stuff is little things but it doesn’t matter. There is such a relief in shedding excess. I am giving my belongings a very hard look. When you stay in one place a long time as I have, vigilance is key, even when the place isn’t big.

Examples of stuff I got rid of:
– 4 belts I don’t wear
– 3 extra large glass peanut jars with no lids
– 1 full-size piece of foam
– A rusting finch feeder
– A small bag of jewelry
– A small bag of boards
– An extra aluminum water bottle
– 2 wire baskets
– A broken night guard case
and on like that.

I started and will finish a CD set on conversational Italian – and then I’ll decide if I want to try any others.

I’m going to watch the Marx Brothers movies (again). My life could use more levity. I already watched A Night in Casablanca which I checked out from the library. I think I can find several others through the library system also.

This isn’t exactly a goal but I’m going to keep track of the DVDS (and series) I watch. I LOVE movies and I watch a lot that I’m able to check out from the public library but I couldn’t tell you how many I watch in a year for instance – I just don’t know. And how is my DVD watching compared to my book reading? Should there be a ratio? One book for every four hours of DVDs or something like that? Until I nail down how much I typically watch I won’t know if I should set a goal around this issue. I adore movies. Did I mention that?!

My food/cooking goals aren’t elaborate for 2019. I would like to try Thai cooking. I made a Thai salad (coleslaw, green onions, lime, cilantro, amino acids, roasted peanuts) this past year that I loved – lime, cilantro & peanuts, especially combined, sing to me. I’d love to find other simple dishes that use these flavors. I think I’d also like to try making Pupusas – I just saw them on a PBS show featuring various restaurants and I think I’d really like them. In a future blog I’ll share the Thai coleslaw recipe and if I can tweak a pupusa recipe to make it healthy (perhaps less oil, for instance), I’ll share that.

It is easy, if you let yourself, to drift. Okay, I’ve noticed it in me. In 2018 I felt ready to make changes. I recovered my reading habit and made new recipes. This year I will add yoga to my life, continue shedding excess belongings, keep reading, and make sure I’m challenging myself, intellectually and physically. And I am damn sure going to have some levity.

NOTE: I apologize in advance for a delay in responding to any comments to this post. I DO want to hear what you have to say.

The End of my 2018 New Year’s “resolutions”

I wrapped up my kinda-sorta-new-years-resolutions at the end of October, two months before year’s end. My goals weren’t overly ambitious but simple and to-the-point: 1) to read twenty books 2) to make ten new recipes and 3) to make ten visits to the local lake/park. As of now, I’ve read thirty books this year and went past the ten new recipes as well.

During the year I updated my progress in March and again in August. To keep myself on track, I simply wrote down the three goals and the associated number on loose-leaf paper and whenever I did one of the goals, I wrote in on the list. Writing it down was key – I looked forward to adding new entries and seeing my progress.

I have reclaimed myself as a reader. I’ve said it before but the internet – and how its use affects the brain – had a large part in diminishing my reading. I hadn’t realized how bad it had become but I don’t know when I last read twenty plus books in a year. I had to reclaim my ability to truly focus and pay attention. See, what I am thinking now is that, on one hand there is Entertainment and Distraction while on the other there is Learning and Challenging. I had slowly slid further into the former category as years passed.

To be fair, there are things in life which can take away from any desire to spend a lot of time on learning and challenging one’s self. Obligations, problems, illnesses, depression, and grief are but a few obstacles. When you’re in a place where – for whatever reason(s) – just keeping your head above water is taxing, setting and accomplishing new goals and challenges sounds like an absurd prospect.

So, while I’m not delighted with myself that I wasn’t challenging my mind or learning enough for some time, I do know that along the way, I wasn’t always in the right state to be intellectually ambitious either.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit fan of Entertainment and Distraction! I just think you have to balance them with more enriching pastimes.

I think I got burnt out on learning in college and allowed myself to coast along for some time, figuring I’d done enough and needed a break. But, uh, college was decades ago!

Most of the books I read this year were nonfiction, but not all. One of the year’s best finds was The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, a novel I saw recommended in Esquire magazine. It’s a beautifully written book, a great read for anyone who’s ever had a friend or a close connection to an animal. I am grateful to have found and read it.

I’m excited by reading, the way I used to be (before the internet). I’ve also started reading the aforementioned Esquire magazine again more faithfully. I subscribed for several years but had let the subscription go several years back; I thought the magazine was trying to become more like Maxim (to draw and keep younger male readers) which is not something I read. There was only so much I wanted to know about men’s suits too. Not sure if I want to subscribe now but I’m definitely interested in staying an Esquire reader.

The reading was the HUGE thing this year but committing to making new recipes was beneficial too. Sometimes I tend to fall into making the same things because I like a sure thing when it comes to FOOD. I like knowing that I will enjoy my meal. Trying new recipes takes away that guarantee. That being said, I found new recipes to love, like Easy Walnut, Date and Coconut Treats and Grandma’s Pizza. Writing them down on my Resolutions list keeps me from forgetting about them. In fact, I had kind of forgotten about the walnut/date/coconut treats (which I first made last January) but seeing them on my list jogged my memory – why haven’t I been making them?!

Oddly enough, getting myself to visit the local lake park ten times, a really easy resolution, took more doing. Several months went by when I didn’t go at all (although I was busier with other things in that time) and the assault on a local woman on Labor Day weekend affected my feelings about visiting there. I never heard about any arrest so I assume there wasn’t one. And it isn’t as if I always felt safe there before; I always feel I have to stay alert which kind of detracts from the point of communing with nature.

I see now that my three arenas of resolutions covered several crucial aspects of life: learning, eating, and being in nature. I’m glad I had these different areas and not just one of them. It was fun to do this, fun to see the entries adding up. Finishing up the last of them two months early and surpassing two of them is better than I could have hoped to accomplish. There’s no question my Kinda-Sorta New Year’s resolutions worked out very well. I’m better for them and feel I’ve definitely jump-started myself. Now I’m thinking about what I might like to set out to do in 2019.

What’s on my mind lately (Sept 2018)

Summer is more or less over. It passed quickly for me. Summer is when I feel most alive, because it’s such a sensory, sensual time of year. So much to see and do! And here, I don’t mean anything grand as much as the connection to the outside world, the natural world – sun on your skin, breezes in the air, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Water; pools, oceans, rivers, lakes, tall cold drinks of it. Rain nurturing the flowers, the vegetables, the perennials. Baby animals; birds, squirrels, chipmunks, ducklings, fawns. Windows open, long days, blue skies, summer clothes. It’s my time.

Beyond the pleasures of the natural world, more activities are possible and people tend to congregate, slowing down to relate, be it in formal settings (picnics, parties, weddings, festivals, reunions, etc) or casual ones, where they’re just more willing to interact when their paths cross.  (They’re not cold-as-shit hustling to their next destination. Or maybe that’s just me.)

I’m immersed in both my micro and macro lives. In the micro, I’ve continued on my path of mild self-improvement in 2018.  I have but two more lake visits to finish off what I planned.  I am reading – books – again. Nonfiction has dominated. I hadn’t planned that and somehow vaguely thought fiction would be the bulk of it but that’s not how it’s been. Maybe because I feel (or felt) this need to jump-start to mind, I’m drawn more to nonfiction. Not sure. I still have this nagging sense of trying to catch up, to read books I missed. I continue to be taken aback – chagrinned – that I’m picking up titles from years ago, ones I never read. I’ve switched back and forth between older and newer books.

As a middle-aged person, I am very, very interested in keeping my mind sharp as I age, for as long as I can. Not only do I love reading, but I miss challenging my mind. The years in which the internet has been in my life have changed how I spend my time and where I put my focus. Many good things have come to me because of the internet, but I lament those I dropped or gave less time to. I’m working to remedy that primarily by reading but not only.

WordPress – blogging and interacting with other bloggers – still is very important to me. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: WordPress is one of, if not the most valuable way I spend time online. It isn’t frivolous. It isn’t a waste of time. It isn’t a mindless diversion. It isn’t something I have nothing to show for after participating. WordPress has depth.

Oh – I’m off coffee for the last 3 (almost 4) weeks. I was a moderate but habituated drinker. I drank some coffee every day for decades. For many recent years I’ve had no more than one cup per day and frequently less than that (I always start with only half a cup but sometimes allow myself a tad more).  Because of how I’m wired, even one cup packs a wallop. I never drink coffee out. I hadn’t planned to give it up but I got sick for a couple days and didn’t drink it (or eat anything much either). Once off it, I decided to see how it would be to try to stay off. A main reason is I want nothing between me and my sleep. Residual coffee can affect a person many hours after drinking it and I have to figure, with my makeup, that must certainly be true for me. Quieting my busy mind to sleep soundly all night is a struggle. Yet I know that sleep or lack thereof rules my personality. I don’t take anything stronger to help me sleep than an occasional Valerian (an herb) and I don’t want to. I miss coffee – the little ritual and the little buzz – and can’t say I’ll stay off but right now, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, particularly when I replace it with a healthy drink.

Giving myself permission to treat myself well is the singular best thing I’m doing in my life at this moment. It’s a struggle and does not come naturally to me. But I’m better, undeniably so.  I’m a bit more generous with myself. I’ve stopped taking crap from other people and I’ve mostly stopped from taking it from myself. This is an ongoing theme.  Other people might not like it – the ways I consider myself improved – because it may not be to their advantage (if they’re looking for advantage). I’m less tolerant, waste less time, and don’t offer as much, and not as quickly, not where it isn’t merited.

Also– I’d like to believe that when you start living better and treating yourself better, the people who aren’t interested in much the same no longer enter your orbit or if they do, they don’t stay or you don’t keep them. And– you’re freed up to draw people who also are choosing or trying to live better lives, who want meaning and substance and validity. And please know, if you don’t know me, that I’m not talking about any kind of fake, quoting, affected, pollyanish, faux, passing, insincere, flash-in-the-pan, b.s. but those things which are genuine, true, and withstand time. Give me the people who are headed up, not spiraling down. And if my theory is wrong, well, I’ll just keep putting my energy into myself because I’m damn sure a far way from being anything near self-indulgent.

I have pushed myself and importantly, I have something to show for it. That’s how it feels.

So far as the macro world, let me give you an analogy. When Barack Obama was elected president, I told a friend that I felt like a kid does when their father is behind the wheel on a family road trip; safe and in good hands, free to sit in the back seat, look out the window, play games or look at books, relaxed and unworried. Now however, I feel tense and constantly vigilant with this new fellow behind the wheel. The car is careening around on mountainous roads, speeding and out of control. I am stomping the floor boards trying to hit the imaginary breaks in the back seat, gripping the arm rest fiercely, as if that would do any good. Road rage with other drivers could escalate on a dime and lead to something very ugly. I can’t take my eyes away.  I know this won’t last but I’m afraid of what could happen before there’s a new driver.  I have never felt quite this way about a president before.

In the end – or the middle or wherever – it always comes down to controlling what you can control. Doing what you can to make your life and the lives of the people you care about, good or better. To draw meaning from the ways you spend your waking hours, however that might be. What’s important to you? This is what I ask myself, this is where I constantly direct (and redirect when necessary) my attention. They say we have many competitors for our attention now. I am susceptible, at times too easily distracted. I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens and pulling myself up short: Do I really care about this? Is it important? Is this a good way to spend my time? Why am I getting involved in this?

A key part is not letting other people’s priorities become my priorities. Not unless I choose it. EVERYBODY WANTS YOU TO TAKE UP AND INVEST IN THEIR CAUSE. Be it with your attention, your time, or your cash. And I DON’T CARE. More often than not, I just don’t.  People who know nothing or very little about you are so certain that what’s important to them – whatever they’re promoting – should also be important to you.  It’s hard to get away from this so long as you’re a nice member of society and continue to interact with others (which I am and I do! Maybe on my own terms but still).

So, I guess it’s fair to say I am liking where my head is at but I do have some gripes. Or I have some gripes but I am liking where my head is at. I can work with this.

Update on my New Year’s “kinda, sorta resolutions”

At the start of the year I set a few kinda, sorta New Year’s resolutions. Basically I had simple goals for 2018: to make 10 new recipes, to read 20 books, and to visit my local lake/park 10 times. I have already revisited my progress in March. I’m back to say I’VE READ 20 BOOKS!! Go Colette, go Colette! Fifteen were nonfiction; five fiction. I like memoirs and read several. My favorite book of the twenty was a very funny memoir, You’ll Grow Out of It by Jesse Klein. I also was very impressed with Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. My page-turner novel was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (I subsequently watched the movie; it lacked something as compared with the book).

What reading twenty books in seven months has made very clear to me is how little I’ve been reading – in any kind of depth or quantity – for years. The internet, and life to some lesser extent, totally screwed up my ability to read (a book) and I had to get it back. Reading requires a different gear, one that had become somewhat unfamiliar. It’s like meeting up with an old friend and falling back into step together, ultimately wondering why you ever drifted in the first place.

I’ve exceeded my recipes goal, doing most of my cooking in winter. I haven’t made any new recipes lately.

After knocking out several in winter, I have slacked on lake visits. I got busy in the spring and it slid off my priorities. Which is kinda odd, considering lake visits are actually the easiest of the trio, requiring nothing, per my goals, other than merely going there. I have a few more to make my goal of ten.  I went this past Saturday and took a few photos for the blog. I can only take credit for framing these shots; my tablet has a bunch of “filters” and I opted to use the litho one on these for an interesting effect.

 

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Check out the Litho Squirrel!

 

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Dragonfly dead center on top of the blade of grass

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