Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goal Round-Up: January 2012

Time for the monthly accountability.
  • Things to Do: Missed Arisia, so this one will get carried forward again. I applied for the Taos Toolbox workshop AND GOT ACCEPTED. I am over the moon.
  • Better Me: Gym attendance spotty due to being sick for two weeks. Hopefully getting that out of the way for the year! Best workout: 2 1/2 miles, 32 minutes.
  • Money: Positive flow into the savings account.
  • Writing: Two chapters of FF revision down. Sickness did not help. 
  • Job Stuff: Working through approval process for Scrum Master training. 
  • Birthday Observance: So far, so good.
  • Household Stuff: Moved a problem bookcase out of Mimi's room.
 Where will the year go from here?!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Thought I Had While Running

It is easier to speed up than to slow down.

At least while you're running on a treadmill. Go faster, then a bit faster, and you don't have attention to spare for much of anything besides breathing. Slow down, and you suddenly notice how tired your legs are, how much you really want to stop. There must be a use for this, right?

A Thought I Had While Walking

Heading from the office to the T station the other night, I used to want to be a writer ran through my head, and then I thought, That would be a horrible, horrible thing to ever say out loud.

Might make a good opening line, though. Keep on keeping on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Keeping It Real

Halfway through January, and everyone is still optimistic. My friends' Facebook updates are full of gym visits, and blogs overflow with gentle redirections to healthy fare after the holiday blitz of indulgence. Everyone is keeping a firm eye on their budget and their waistline again, as we swing back toward a more balanced way of living.

I don't actually have anything against processed foods. I know some people who have gone on a cleansing binge and threw out every last item, but I require my little treats, and also possess a four-year-old who won't eat anything other than canned ravioli right now (this too shall pass, I remind myself almost daily). It is generally sensible, however, from both a dietary and budgetary standpoint, to make sure that processed items are a small category on your shopping list.

Time is obviously a factor as well (the adage "good, fast, cheap, pick two" definitely comes into play), but this is where the planning comes in. Think ahead, use your leftovers wisely, and you won't find yourself falling back on "convenience" anything, because you'll already have it. Which is awesome.

So here's the menu plan this week:
Saturday - Potato Frittata; Butternut Squash Soup
Sunday - Roast Chicken; Butternut Squash Pilaf *
Monday - Black Pepper Tofu **
Tuesday - North Woods Bean Soup ***
Wednesday - Orecchiette with Roasted Cauliflower
Thursday - Pork Fried Rice ****
Friday - Fish TBD

* Using up the rest of the squash, something I am generally horrible about.
** To which I will add some veggies, and make some extra rice.
*** Lydia's pick for the week
**** Using up the extra rice made earlier in the week.

Since we have a three-day weekend, I may have time to make some chicken stock or marinara sauce--or even to bake something, which it feels like I haven't done in weeks.

Probably because I haven't done it in weeks.

Processed foods required? I'm not sure if pancetta and kielbasa count as processed. Pasta technically is, and so is rice if you want to get picky about it. I'll pick up some canned broth in case I don't have time to make it after all. The tofu dish requires cornstarch, which I'm almost out of. I do rely on canned beans for the soup. Pretty much all real food here, though. The produce aisle part of my list is much longer than any of the others = success in this book.

I'd also like to direct you to the Tummy Treasure blog, where an interesting experiment in budget-friendly meal-planning is going on. I generally throw caution to the winds while I shop, and while I doubt I will ever be as disciplined as she is (unless forced to by circumstances), I find reading this series to be a helpful reminder that it's not actually necessary to spend a small fortune to put good (real) food on the table.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2012 - Off to A Good Start

Discipline is not a fun word. It seems to have the word "slip" built mockingly into it, and it feels that way in the mouth. It's a word like the last bit of a soap bar; you would unwrap a new one, but feel guilty for wasting what's already there. It's also a word I mistype almost every single time.

Until they come up with a way to make everything that is good for us fun, however, it is pretty much the only way forward. A fair amount of research points to the idea that discipline works like a muscle. The good part of that is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. The bad part is that just like your muscles, it gets tired and eventually quits when overused, and while a sprained discipline won't put you on crutches, it can derail projects and lead to moping.

I do not like moping. I do like feeling like I'm making progress toward my goals. Therefore, some studious application of discipline has been in order this past week. It's been a good week, an encouraging week. Part of that comes from knowing myself well enough to know where my discipline is likely to wear out. I like being productive, but that doesn't mean I like working harder than I have to. Hence, my efforts to make discipline as easy for myself as I can.

First off, there's going to the gym. Yes, I joined along with the rest of the herd. I know from years of painful experience that the only way I will make it over there is to make the process as free of conscious thought as possible. I go early in the day, when there are no realistic excuses I can make to avoid it (not being able to sleep past five is in this case an asset). I pack my stuff and lay out my sweats the night before, so that all I have to do is pack a lunch, grab my ridiculous number of bags, and trudge out to the bus stop.

Packing a lunch (and breakfast, for that matter) is important for both fitness and financial goals. The most important thing I did for this effort so far? Stocking up on yogurt. I will only eat one kind of yogurt, and it's a kind that my normal store doesn't carry. I can get through my day on a half a bagel and a sandwich or whatever leftovers are around, but only if I have my yogurt in between. If I can't, then I'm going to eat an entire bagel for breakfast, and then I may as well go out for lunch since my day has already been calorically blown. I do realize this is silly, but there's no addendum on "know thyself" that says "but only if what you find out is not too silly." By giving myself this one thing (which is even good for me!), I make it easier for myself to eat decently during the day.

I do allow myself treats. There is no reason to be ridiculous about things, after all. I have adopted vending machine pretzels as my standard afternoon snack, which is probably better than M&Ms, and I give myself the occasional visit to Dunkin Donuts.

The third discipline is writing. This is actually a lot more difficult than getting myself to the gym, but it's been pretty successful this week. Inspired by this post on Terrible Minds, I had to admit that I spend an awful lot of time doing things that are not in fact writing. So now, after the gym, I sit down at my desk. I open up my document and -- this is the important part -- nothing else. No email, no IM, no browser. Just my book. I set the timer on my phone for one hour, and I work until that hour is up (also I drink tea and eat my bagel, which tastes pretty damn good by that time, let me add).

Can I keep this up? Remains to be seen. So far, it's been a good month. I've been to the gym every (week)day. I've revised the first 3,000 words of Fury's Flight, nearly 1/3 of what I need to apply for Taos. I haven't gone out for lunch even once, though I think I will need to schedule in some breaks in that; boredom does not make for a happy, productive me.

Finally, in what is perhaps a fit of insanity, I've signed up for the new Tuesdays with Dorie project, which starts in February. The fact that they're every other week this time was a big motivator; I should be able to bake twice a month! Serendipitously, while I was thinking about whether or not I should try to participate, my mother let me know that she had a copy of Baking with Julia that she had picked up free somewhere and wasn't using. The book has obviously been well-used by someone, and I look forward to adding my own sprinkles of flour and spatters of chocolate to its pages. Although I did a lot of baking for the holidays, most of it happened in something of a frantic blur, and it's been something of a sugar drought since then (I did mention that treats are good?).

If I was doing a Happiness Project, it seems that
  • January = Body & Writing
  • February = Kitchen (& Writing, since you are supposed to blog about the recipes)
I'm sure I will think of something to do in in March. With writing. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Here, We Write Stories

Once in a while a realization smacks you alongside the head like a loving parent, bringing to light something you already half-knew but never understood until that moment. I don't know if I will be able to set myself a schedule for blogging, but at least I finally feel that I know what was missing.