Saturday, February 1, 2014

Checking In - January!

Near the end of December, I set five goals for 2014 (they're all laid out in this post) that are all designed to create some lasting changes in how I approach things. None of these are quick changes - I've tried those and I've never had much luck with them. I had to get very specific about what I was hoping to accomplish, so I looked at three areas that needed work (body, mind, soul) to develop my goals:

1. A cluttered house is easy to lose things in and that causes me to run late and stress out. So to give myself some "soul calm", I decided to work "zone cleaning" into my housekeeping.
2. Stressing over money causes me to fret, worry, and fail to live in the present. So to contribute to some "soul calm," I decided (with FryDaddy) to keep a stringent budget to lower our household debt.
3. Although it's inevitable, I lament the fact that I'm getting older and particularly that I don't feel strong. So to strengthen my body, I decided to train to participate in a 5K race sometime this year.
4. I have always loved to read, but (like all readers) I know I've missed many, many good books, so to improve my mind, I decided to read six "good books" that had slipped past me.
5. I love movies - I even co-host a movie show with FryDaddy on the local community college TV station - but an astonishing number of good movies had slipped by me. So to improve my mind, I decided to watch 24 "good movies" that had slipped past me.

Now that I've got a month under my belt with these resolutions, let's recap and see where things are headed.

Zone cleaning hasn't been too bad at all - regular readers here know that I discovered FlyLady last spring and I have to say that it's really turned around my concept of caring for my home. Now that the house is decluttered, it was time to add in the zones. With the zones, you concentrate on one room a week (usually - sometimes it's more, like the home office and the bathrooms) and there's even a checklist to get you started. You don't worry about doing everything at once and I haven't done all the rooms "perfectly" - there was no way I was washing windows when the wind chill was a non-balmy 8 degrees Fahrenheit! - but anything is better than the nothing I had been doing. It's off to a good start and I'm calling it a win.

Budgeting - woo, boy. January is a tough one. We muddled through and we're on track to go forward into February. On the plus side, I sat down yesterday and roughed out the bills, and we're caught up and even paid off a credit card we'd been working on! So I'm calling that a win.

The 5K training - wow. This has been hard. I wobble-jog (jobble?) during the "run" intervals. I'm using a "Couch to 5K" podcast called 5K101 that talks me through each session. I repeated Week 3 and I'm in Week 4.5 now, since I didn't feel quite ready to jump up to 8-minute intervals, so I'm using the supplement which calls for 6-minute ones instead. It's hard, but I really feel a sense of accomplishment with it and my friends have been fantastic about supporting me during this challenge. I'm slow and a little clumsy, but I'm lapping the me who was on the couch, so again - this is a win!

The book challenge - I started with E. M. Forster's A Passage to India because I've read and thoroughly enjoyed other works of his. Alas, Passage didn't work quite as well for me. Others, I'm sure, have read it and loved it beyond the telling. I found it a bit of a slog - competing narrators and nary a likable character in sight. Well, I read it, so that's a win.

The movie challenge - this month I saw both Touch of Evil and Moneyball. (I know, two very different movies - whatever; it's my list). Touch of Evil was stylistically gorgeous, but deeply flawed from a narrative standpoint. To be honest, the plot is pretty much a hot mess, and I saw the restored, this-is-what-Orson-Welles-wanted version. Well worth seeing, but I so prefer The Third Man. Now, Moneyball was a different story. Aesthetically, it can't hold a candle to Welles' work, but it's a fun, feel-good underdog story about that most American of sports - baseball. I see why Jonah Hill earned an Oscar nomination and I'd recommend it be included on any list of sports movies. A win.

And let's keep in mind that I'm also back in the full swing of the spring semester. Far from making me Wonder Woman, effortlessly juggling all these competing goals, obligations, and responsibilities, I spent a chunk of this past week just grumbly, out of sorts, and generally snappish. So - not a win there. Progress is being made, but it's in steps, not leaps.

But I can see the path.

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