Random Saturdays – Back to Busines

So, I took a short hiatus from this blog over the past couple of months.  There were some family emergencies, lots of overtime at work, lack of sleep, etc.  I’m back on antidepressants now, after realizing that much of my suffering over the past two years has been self-inflicted.  I mean, not entirely since you can’t help what your brain chemicals do.  I should have gotten back on meds sooner, though, instead of trying to battle with it myself.  I’ve mentioned before about my struggles with depression and anxiety and how I now realize it affects my loved ones.  Still, it took a few months of actively trying to be mindful of my thoughts and actions before I realized that I needed a bit of medical help to handle my depression and anxiety at the levels they have reached.  I’m thankful to Ben and the kids for being the catalysts for the change.  Otherwise, I’d probably still be convinced that it was just my fault for not having enough daily structure to keep my act together.

In regards to life in general, some things are better now than they were at the beginning of the summer.  Some things are not.  However, my more chemically balanced brain is helping me keep everything in perspective.  For example, I can’t believe it’s already the end of September!  I mean, I’m still making plans for the end of September, so how can it already be that time?!  October is going to be a busy month, but I know November and December will be too.  Holiday season is always busy for us all, but it’s also Birthday Season for my friends and family.  Actually, I guess there is also birthday season from spring through early summer now that I’m with Ben.  At any rate, it means lots and lots of things to look forward to and discuss on the blog 🙂

One thing I’m looking forward to is reviewing my blogging buddy, Jack Flacco’s, second book – Ranger Martin and The Alien Invasion.  Look for that review on my blog in mid-October.  I’m only on the first chapter right now, but I’ll tell you a secret…I’m definitely going to read the second chapter as well.  Okay, I’ve already said too much.  Time for me to go back to reading and stop with the detailed spoilers.

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Random Saturdays – Begin at The End

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. lately, at least as far as this blog is concerned.  Between crazy work stuff, being sick, being depressed, the holidays, Ben, ice storms, and get-togethers with friends that I don’t see often, everything else has been on the back burner.  Having said that, I did want to get at least one real post up before the end of the year.  My one-year blogging anniversary is December 21, 2013, so, I decided to do a sort of year in review post since I’m ending the year in a completely different place in life from where I started in January.

At the beginning of this year, I had a bunch of projects that I wanted to do.  I tried to plan things out and block off my time.  The only things I really did were keep up the blog and learn how to use Inkscape.  I also managed to get into a workout routine until I moved last summer and paid more attention to my daily habits — everything from calorie counting to how often I get headaches and migraines.  It didn’t really help me get healthier, but I did lose weight.

After I started dating Ben, I gained 7 lbs.  I had just started getting back into working out after my summer move, but that stopped, too.  I started slacking on the blog.  I fell behind on email.  I haven’t been reading books or magazines much, either.  I’ve been sick twice in the past two months and think that I’m getting sick again.  In general, it seems like dating Ben did away with the little bit of progress on my goals that I had made, but that’s not really true at all.

Even with tracking my health issues, I wasn’t able to make any improvements in my health before Ben.  Now, I’m paying more attention to how all of my health issues are tied together because they directly affect my emotional and mental well-being, which directly affects Ben and his kids.  Since it’s not just me, my cat, and the t.v., I have more motivation to do something about things that I know need improvement.

When you’re alone and you get sick, it’s easy to just wallow in your self-pity and give up on trying to improve anything.  When I feel like this around Ben and see how worried he gets about me, or when I have to hide from his kids in the bedroom because I don’t want them to see me depressed and get it into their young minds that being mean to yourself is a normal way to think and act, then it suddenly seems more important that I get my crap together.  Granted, I realize that I’ll have to struggle with depression my whole life.  I realize that I can’t change myself overnight.  I realize that when I get sick, things in my body will be thrown off and cause depression on a physiological level that I will just have to learn to handle.

However, I’m trying to be mindful of all of the small things that I still have control over when I’m sick and/or depressed.  When I’m sick, I’m trying to make more of an effort to shake myself out of depression because it directly affects my loved ones.  I’ve always known this, and it’s always been motivating, but Ben and his kids are motivation on a whole different level.  I had no idea that someone like Ben could even exist.  He is a nicer, smarter, better (but not funnier) version of me.  His kids are wonderful – fun, affectionate, smart, and always concerned about how much money I spend on gas and rent.  I don’t want to teach the kids how to hate themselves and I don’t want Ben to have to deal with me hating myself if it can be prevented.  So, even though my projects were all put on the back burner for the last three months of the year, it’s all been for the best.

Furthermore (<- smart word), I’m going to Paris with Cathy for Christmas and New Year’s, a trip that I planned before I started dating Ben.  Since my plane ticket and rental cost of the apartment in Paris are non-refundable, I’m going to suffer through missing Christmas with Ben and his kids and force myself to go to Paris with one of my best friends.  (I’m only half-joking.)  I tell you what, though.  On January 1, 2013, I did not anticipate having a boyfriend with three kids or going to Paris for Christmas.  You never know where life will take you, but you just have to get out of your own way and enjoy what life brings to your table.  I’m trying to be mindful of how lucky I am for my life so that I can fully enjoy the time I spend with my friends and family this year.

I hope you stay mindful this holiday season, too, absorbing all of the joy and love shared between you, your friends, and your family.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Progress Report – February 2013

I’m happy to say  that I made some progress on knocking out my goals.  Here’s the run down:

  1. Read 4 books – Finished The Casual Vacancy on February 18, 2013!
  2. Keep up the Debediah project – Nothing.  I’m still focusing on other things right now.
  3. Learn to play an instrument – See above.
  4. Lose 12 lbs – I’m not sure where I am on this.  Last month, I noticed that my weight fluctuates between 2 – 8 lbs on any given day.  This month has been the same, and I can’t see a correlation between what I’m eating/how much I’m eating and my weight.  It’s not like if I overeat on one day, I gain weight the next.  If I eat mostly junk one day, I don’t necessarily gain weight the next day either.  There’s not a week delay.  I can overeat 3 days in a row and lose 6 lbs and eat fewer than 2,000 calories for a week and gain 8 lbs.  I never noticed my weight fluctuating this much in the past, so I don’t really know what’s going on with my mess of a body *shrugs*  Maybe I need a scale that I don’t have to recalibrate every day…
  5. Workout 1 hour per week – This hasn’t been going so well.  I haven’t been able to keep up a regular workout.  I have, however, been doing my morning stretches every day.  I also fit in mini-workouts in the mornings before work and in the evenings while watching t.v. or getting ready for bed.  I should probably time them to see how much I’m actually working out each day, even if it’s not done all at once.
  6. Knit 4 projects – Finished Amanda’s sunglasses bag on February 9, 2013!
  7. Work on The Comic – Nope.
  8. Keep up this blog – Decided to do away with some regular posts, but still staying active on the blog.
  9. Practice drawing/Gimp/Inkscape – Other than the graphics I do for the blog, I haven’t been working on this.
  10. Learn to code – Still nothing

Well, okay.  Maybe I should have emphasized some rather than progress, but hey, I still got a couple of things done this month! 😀

That’s not me (I would’ve accomplished all of my goals if it were), but J.K. Rowling wrote the first book that I finished this year.

Thursday Progress Reports – ???

I had such difficulty trying to figure out what I’d say for this progress report that I kept putting it off entirely.  Should I just skip the post this week?  Should I make this a monthly installment?  Should I report on the progress of things that weren’t included in my list of goals for this year?  Should I do a reader poll to see what my mom readers think I should do?

Then, I realized that part of why I couldn’t figure out what to do was because I didn’t want to admit to myself how lazy I’ve been about my goals so far.  These aren’t resolutions made for the sake of having them.  These are things that I actually want to do, need to do, and thought that I was ready to commit to doing.  I started out strong on some of these things, but have really slacked off on everything but blogging at this point, which surprises me.  The amount of work it takes me to plan, write, proofread, and illustrate each post…I just kinda thought I would have given up by now.  So I’m proud of myself for at least being gung ho about one goal this year.  (What the hell does “gung ho” actually mean?  I’d google it, but I’m kind of in the middle of something right now and I’ll forget later.)

Even so, I’m mostly focused on how disappointed I am with myself about not being gung ho (that’s right I’m gonna use it again and again until someone tells me what it means) about other things on the list.  I should have finished Amanda’s sunglasses bag by now.  I should have finished Casual Vacancy by now.  I was working out three times a week, but have slacked off on that for both legitimate and Pinterest-related reasons.

By Wednesday night, I found myself playing games on my phone instead of doing any of the things that I should have been doing — that I would have preferred doing.  This was because I was disappointed in myself for not being gung ho about every goal on my list.  I realize that it’s okay to be more excited about some goals than others, but that doesn’t make me feel better.

I decided to start this blog for fun, to practice my CG skills, and to have online marketing portfolio of sorts.  When I started, I knew that I wouldn’t really know exactly what would work until I tried it, which is why I split the posts into three themes.  The progress reports are making me dread the one thing that I’ve been gung ho about this year.  So, new strategy.  I’m only going to check in when I have something exciting to say.  Well, maybe not exciting, but you know, something other than “I finished the October issue of Real Simple magazine this week.”  (That’s true, by the way.)  So, yeah, the Progress Reports will not be as frequent, but they’ll pop up occasionally.

Examples of my gung ho-ery thus far:

 

Thursday Progress Reports – My Year of Learning

This is my first Progress Report of the year.  Let’s see if my lists and calendars have been doing me any good thus far.

  1. Read 4 books – I’ve read about 100 more pages in Casual Vacancy since the beginning of the year.
  2. Keep up the Debediah project – No real progress on this yet.
  3. Learn to play an instrument – I have a keyboard on the premises.  Now I gotta figure out the best way to attack keyboard lessons.
  4. Lose 12 lbs – I’ve noticed that my weight fluctuates anywhere from 2 – 8 lbs every week, even when I workout regularly and restrict my calories.  I think that I bloat up when I sleep less and eat more junk, even if I eat fewer calories.  I’m going to start weighing myself when I wake up every morning to see if that’s what is actually happening.
  5. Workout 1 hour per week – I skipped a couple of workouts last week because my knee and foot were bothering me.  Plus, I was very tired because I’d been only managing about four hours of sleep a night.  Otherwise, I’ve been good with this.
  6. Knit 4 projects – I’m more than halfway done knitting Amanda’s sunglasses bag now, but then I’ll seam it and add a closure of some sort.
  7. Work on The Comic – Haven’t done anything here either.  I’m trying to get a few weeks of blog posts ready ahead of time so that I’m not constantly working on this blog.  If I have blogs ready to post weeks ahead, then I can take an extra morning or evening each week to work on other projects instead.
  8. Keep up this blog – So far, so good!
  9. Practice drawing/Gimp/Inkscape – I try to do some sort of Inkscape drawing for each blog post.  Last weekend, I did a lesson that reminded me how to work on gradients and shading.
  10. Learn to code – Nothing yet.

Thinking about this post this week, I realized that I had more goals for myself this year than I thought I had.  I was thinking of this as My Year of Learning, but then I remembered that I’ve only been out of school since March of last year and that I spent all of last year learning how to do a new job.  Every year is a Year Of Learning for me because that’s just who I am.  When my grandfather passed away years ago, I found boxes filled with spiral notebooks, textbooks, and certificates for all of the classes he had taken at community colleges throughout his life.  I guess I got the Learning Gene from my grandfather.  So even if all I really get accomplished this year is maintaining this blog and becoming familiar with Inkscape, then I don’t think I’ll have let myself down at all.

Couldn't get the pasting paths thing to work at all (note my claw at the top), but here's what I did with this tutorial.

Couldn’t get the pasting paths thing to work (note my claw at the top), but here’s what I did with this tutorial.

Thursday Progress Report – My Calendars

Last week I talked about my lists, so this week I have to talk about my calendars.  The lists are basically detailed versions of the calendars.

So many calendars, plus the one I forgot to include in the picture.

So many calendars, plus the one I forgot to include in the picture.  Note the mix of cute animals and hot Italians, as mentioned in a previous post.

Growing up, we only had one calendar in the house, one clock in the living room, and my dad’s alarm clock.  My parents forgot events and ran late all the time.  As a teenager, my room had multiple calendars and clocks.  No matter where I looked, there was a calendar and clock to remind me of all of the stuff that I was not going to do.

By the time my early twenties hit, I noticed that I had become a bit OCD about many things, including time.  I didn’t want time to be in charge of me;  I should be in charge of time.  Since I wasn’t a Time Lord, I decided that I probably only needed one calendar, one clock, and maybe a watch.  I tried to track everything in one desk calendar and one planner that I carried with me at all times.  If I didn’t put the same items in both calendars, though, I would inevitably look at the wrong calendar and forget to do important tasks.  This was in the days before auto-syncing with Goophones and Ipples and all that mess.  You had to manually sync your calendars, planners, To Do lists, and address books.  I tried to go through and do a thorough update every January, but the other 11 months of the year gave me trouble.

Nowadays, I have different calendars for different themes.  For example, I have a calendar with my bills’ due dates that I keep near the desktop computer because that’s where I pay my bills.  (I have plenty of bills set to autopay, but too many of them charge a “convenience” fee for autopay, so I pay those as they are due.  My annoyance with “convenience” fees deserves its own blog post.)   For anyone concerned with my lack of tech usage, I also have plenty of calendars and reminder apps on my phone, but I still find the physical act of drawing a check mark on a calendar or crossing an item off a To Do list more gratifying than tapping a checkbox on a Goophone.  When I’m motivated to keep up with the calendars, they work well.  When I’m lazy or mopey, they don’t, and that’s whether I’m using a paper calendar or cellular mobile device.  I’ve got my calendars for the year set up now, so here’s hoping this isn’t a lazy and mopey year.  Now then, time to cross “Take a nap” off of my To Do list.

Thursday Progress Report – 2013 Big Momma To Do List

I love To Do lists.  I write Post-Its for things that haven’t made it to a list, but I don’t want to forget to do in the short-term.  That’s not to say that everything I put on a list gets done, but hey, congratulations for making it to the list you sweet little To Do, you!

I like lists.  I got most of this stuff done today too.  Bow before my productivity!

I like lists. I even got all of this stuff done yesterday. Bow before my productivity/HULU!

So here’s a list of things I want to focus on/accomplish this year:

  1. Read 4 books – Not sure why finishing a book became so difficult after I went back to school a few years ago, but it did.
  2. Keep up the Debediah project – We really need to start the videos, but in the meantime, I should try to work on the comic once a week or so.
  3. Learn to play an instrument – I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano, but they’re expensive, take up too much space, and are too loud for an apartment.  I considered the ukulele instead.  Then, I remembered that I still have a keyboard at my dad’s.  When I told my dad about my plans, he ranted about how much he hates ukuleles.  Who knew?  The keyboard isn’t the piano, but it’s close enough for me for now.
  4. Lose 12 lbs – In all honesty, this is partly in vain because society seems to hate fat people.  I will never be a size 0 (and really don’t want to be) or even a size 6.  However, I have asthma, joint and muscle problems, migraines, and so much more.  Some of that is hereditary, but some of it is because the strain of all this extra weight on my small frame is just too much.  Losing a pound a month is a manageable goal that should improve my health.
  5. Workout 1 hour per week – (See above.)  Exercise has benefits besides losing weight, but I can’t do 2 hours of cardio and Pilates everyday.  I have learned the hard (read:  painful) way that I cannot workout more than 20 minutes a day and cannot push myself too hard when I do workout.  If I don’t workout at all, I feel like crap.  Moderation.  Blah.
  6. Knit 4 projects – Knitting is kinda like reading for me.
  7. Work on The Comic – My friend, Evelyn, and I developed a story for a comic last year and she drew some prelim sketches.  Since our schedules conflict, I’m going to write the story and dialogue in detail, and then she’ll do the art.  This is strictly for fun, so we don’t have deadlines, but I’d like to get it done by the end of the year.  We’ll see.
  8. Keep up this blog – Three times a week.
  9. Practice drawing/Gimp/Inkscape – Practice Gimp/Inkscape for this blog and Gimp/drawing for the Debediah comic.  I found some free online tutorials, so I’m gong to make the most of them.
  10. Learn to code – Why not?

Best of luck to me with meeting my goals!  Aww, thanks, me!

Thursday Progress Report – Where I Am

Thursdays on this blog will be for updates on any projects that I’m working on or goals that I’ve set for myself.  Sine this is the last full week of 2012, I’m going to sum up a few of the things I’m working on right now.  Most of these things were started after Thanksgiving, but I probably started the rest of them about this time last year.

1.  This Blog – Well, if you’re here, then you know.

Behold! Da Debediah!

Behold! Da Debediah!

2.  Debediah – This is an online entity that I created with my friends (including Cathy, Teresa, and Matt).  We’re working on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube aspects of Debediah.  Our first three goals were to get the pages created, draw a profile pic, and to do the first comic.  We got those done, but we still need to record a video chat.  Then it’ll probably be lather, rinse, repeat.  I could probably continue working on Debediah comics while I wait for our video chat schedules to align.

3.  Knitting Christmas presents – I got a few done by Thanksgiving, even though I started in June.  I started on the last one just after Thanksgiving, but got too distracted by other Christmas chores, work, and other projects (see above) to finish.  I’ve gotta finish this ASAP though.

Those are the three big ones right now.  I’ve got smaller chores to do and personal goals to work on, but I’ll get into my 2013 goals next week.  This is my “Where I Am” post and next week will be my “Where I Want to Be” post.  Next Thursday’s post is probably going to be much longer.  So rest up in preparation for my double wide long 2013 Goals Post! (Not to be confused with goal post.  Is that a thing?  It sounded sporty.  My 2013 goals are in no way sporty.  At all.  Seriously.  You’ll be disappointed if you expect to see sports in them.  Not happening.  Not even a little.)