Mid-year check-in

I launched this blog around the beginning of 2022, and while I am pleased with some of the content I’ve published, it is not really the blog that I want it to be. Why? I’m writing it as if I’m an expert trying to “monetize” or create professional clout in an area that I’m frankly pretty new to, and also not deeply invested in. I can speak to my own experiences, but I don’t have ten weird tricks to optimize your health, or the secret to gluten-free pie crust.

If I’m honest, I find writing about health and wellness kind of…boring. The programs and rules and recipes are out there if you want them, and I’m not going to come up with a new one. I am, however, interested in the art and science of living a good life. A good life (for me) includes pursuing the best physical and mental health possible, living by my values, cultivating connections and community, laughter, music, creativity, art, nature, real food and travel.

That’s all to say that “health and habits” are but tiny slices of what I am pursuing, and what I want to write about. So I am going to expand the scope of this blog and allow it to be more personal and less of a product. This is not good practice, according to the blogging courses. I’m supposed to find a niche and stay in it! I find niches to be rather cramped and uncomfortable.

To that end, I am going to try to post more frequently, including a weekly update on my current pursuits and challenges. I write one for my online accountability group anyway, so why not make it more public? I’ll also be posting more polished articles on Medium, where I have more followers.

Mid-year review

These are a few areas I’m trying to make progress in this year, and a quick overview of where I currently stand. Pardon my quasi-stream-of-consciousness.

General health

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  • After getting through breast cancer in 2020, health has become my top priority.
  • Mammograms in June showed no changes! This is the first time I’ve had a mammogram without a follow-up biopsy. Boobs: all clear!
  • Turned 50 last November, and my prize was a colonoscopy. Two benign polyps removed, but nothing to be concerned about.
  • Does menopause start soon? I’m still enjoying a low-key 32-ish day cycle, with more frequent night sweats (but those could also be from the Tamoxifen I take to prevent breast cancer).
  • I am so vaccinated! I’ve had four Covid shots, and look forward to my fifth, when available. I am also supposed to get a shingles vaccine, which sounds terrible.
  • My sleep has been so good during my second round of Whole30 (see food, below) that I wonder if I should just continue to avoid sugar and snack foods (spoiler: I probably won’t).
  • I still struggle with energy and focus, especially in the afternoon, despite better sleep.

Fitness and movement

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  • One of my keystone habits is my daily walk (I aim for 3 miles, but only manage it about half the time), but it has been hindered by a pulled hamstring for the last week.
  • Currently on week seven of Peloton’s “You Can Run: Outdoors” program, which led to aforementioned pulled hamstring (I used to be a runner about 20 years ago, but I’m not sure whether it’s the right activity for me, given a history of minor sprains and tears).
  • Keeping up 3x weekly Peloton rides, but skipped my weekend ride to let my hamstring rest.
  • Daily yoga right after meditation in the morning is the cornerstone of my morning ritual, but sometimes only 10 minutes, or a couple of sun salutations
  • I do short strength training sessions with light weights three days a week. This is the first time I’ve incorporated strength work outside of a gym, and I don’t love it. But I do at least 10 minutes per session.
  • On weekdays, I try to spend two hours of my work day at standing desk, but standing tends to compress my lower back.

Food and supplements

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  • I’m on my second round of Whole30 during July. It seems to help my sleep, but lack of comfort snacks makes me a bit cranky.
  • Last year, I transitioned away from Keto, but I still avoid most grains and high-carb foods, and eat a lot of healthy (and even less healthy) fats.
  • I don’t eat gluten, and I have found this to be a big boon to my health. My chronic GERD disappeared, my focus and energy are better, and I lost 50 pounds in six months after cutting gluten out.
  • I am 95% alcohol-free. This year, I am only drinking while on vacation. I used to be a heavy drinker, so this transition has been slow and challenging.
  • I have a ridiculous supplement regimen to support my recovery from cancer, bolster my mental health, and help correct genetic proclivities. I work with a naturopath to manage this expensive habit.
  • I try to buy local, organic, pasture-raised, etc. but I’m nowhere close to perfect on this front. Food prices and supply chain issues have made this even more challenging.
  • I cook pretty much every day now, which is a switcheroo from my former burgers and cocktails lifestyle. This requires some pretty vigilant meal planning.

Mindfulness & mental health

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  • I took up meditation around the beginning of the pandemic, and it has become the first thing I do most mornings. I’ve made my way through a lot of Headspace’s programs, and lately I’ve been exploring Insight timer. I enjoy guided practices, but I think I get the most benefit from fifteen minutes (or more) of unguided practice.
  • The biggest boost to my mental health has been my daily walks, which combines fresh air, sunshine, movement, and time in nature. All of the best antidotes to depression and anxiety.
  • I’m in therapy for the third time in my life, and for the first time I have joined a (virtual) therapy group, made up of middle-aged women. I guess that’s me, though it is hard to identify myself as a middle aged woman.
  • One of the reasons I started up therapy again is to help me negotiate my relationship with my mother. She has schizophrenia (among other things) and was not in my life for over a decade until last year.
  • I keep a gratitude list in my Bullet Journal because I’ve heard that it is the key to happiness. It is kind of nice to take a moment to appreciate things, but I can’t vouch for any magical effects.

Productivity

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  • I can’t stand the word productivity (so owned by the David Allen dude cult of productivity porn, and also…capitalism!), but I don’t know what else to call this important category.
  • I use Todoist, Evernote, and a quasi-Bullet Journal for personal goals/ tasks/ notes, and Trello/ Google docs/ Keep at work.
  • Despite my feelings about the dude cult, I do think GTD has some really useful elements that I try to incorporate in my own cobbled systems.
  • Related: I am trying to get better at collecting and processing during a weekly review on Sundays.
  • I am a master procrastinator, especially when it comes to my writing projects (see below), and decluttering/ cleaning (also see below).
  • My Bullet Journal setup has gone through many iterations, and I’m still iterating.
  • Focused deep work and flow states are the areas I want to cultivate.

Writing and creative work

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  • I’m writing a memoir! I started this book more than a decade ago, and am now finally getting close to a finished draft. My goal is to get through the first edit by Labor Day, but this process is slower than expected at every stage. This is a big area of procrastination and just feeling stuck in the muck, and I have recently started checking in with an accountability buddy who is also working on a memoir
  • As mentioned above, I am rethinking the purpose for this blog as more of an unstructured outlet. Stay tuned for more regular updates, and fewer finished pieces.
  • I grew up in a family of artists, and I want to find a way to re-introduce more visual creativity to my life. I’ve been doing “bird of the month” drawings and like to wander the neighborhood photographing flowers. I’m also exploring digital painting on my new iPad.
  • My Bullet Journal has become more of a planner/ tracker; I am looking at ways to make more space for just writing down whatever pops into my head.
  • I’m thinking about how creativity is related to self-care and personal growth. This may be a topic I explore on this blog.
  • We have lived in this house for four years and I can’t bring myself to decorate it, so I am trying to start with choosing some artwork, and framing some artwork I already have, but…indecision and procrastination.
  • I think I’d like to write a sci-fi novel. Or a thriller. But first I need to finish my memoir. I have to wonder if I’d be any good at fiction writing, but I guess I can’t know until I try!

Relationships & community

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  • The pandemic has disrupted my sense of connection with other people, but if I’m honest I wasn’t really all that connected before.
  • I’ve been with my husband for close to seven years (and married for four), and we both tend toward being anti-social hermits. It has been nice to have him around in co-isolation. We also live with a noisy Meyers Parrot named Beatrice.
  • I have hundreds of acquaintances, but only a few people I would put in the friend category, and those connections are loose at best. A text every few months or so seems to be the most I can be bothered to do (and vice versa).
  • My family bonds feel just as tenuous as my friendships. We barely stay in touch, beyond occasional Facebook likes. I guess we never really have stayed in touch, partly because I can’t bring myself to make phone calls.
  • To resolve this disconnectedness, I am coordinating a series of friend dates—getting together with 1-3 people at a time to see if any bonds can be formed or rekindled.
  • Being part of a community is something that has felt absent for me for my entire life. Without religion or team sports, I have never found a way to feel part of a group. Will enough friend dates eventually lead to community building? Do I need to join a club or social movement? Stay tuned for updates.
  • I am part of an online community as part of the Fearless Living Academy, which has been a great way to form some connections around healthy habits over the past two years. My small group meets twice per month and we have been great supports for one another through the pandemic and many life events.

Work & purpose

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  • I have a day job as a content strategist for a software company, and I am happy with the role in terms of both the opportunity to solve interesting problems, and the compensation package. I’ve been in this role for a year and have no immediate plans to move on.
  • My husband and I hope to retire in Europe and will be going to Portugal to explore real estate options later this year. I have a lot of anxiety about having enough saved to retire comfortably, ever, but my husband is interested in early retirement. We will have to do some negotiating and spreadsheets over the next few years.
  • Despite having a good job that helps make my retirement dream seem feasible, I don’t feel that my day job represents a greater purpose.
  • My financial anxiety after growing up poor and ending up in debt and bankruptcy as an adult makes it hard for me to consider financial risks of any kind.
  • I wonder if I could make writing or creative work a way to become semi-retired but still have enough income to feel safe.
  • My therapist has suggested that I might be good at coaching, which does not appeal to me because of the “other people” aspect of the work, but developing a curriculum for an online wellness and creativity course is an idea floating around in my brain.
  • I’ve never felt that my career path was taking me in a specific direction, except “away from poverty.” Now that I have arrived at that destination, I’m not sure where to go next.

Home & stuff

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  • I’m haunted by a clutter monster. I grew up in a cluttered, over-stuffed house, and I feel anxious in neat and tidy environments. But I would like to change my relationship with clutter and have a more spacious, peaceful environment.
  • I have never formed good habits in terms of cleaning or organizing my living space. My husband does all the cleaning and household chores, so I’m still not learning. I plan to hire a cleaning service when he’s away this fall.
  • As mentioned above, my home still feels un-decorated and not really mine. I want more art and color in my environment.
  • When I get my bonus next month, I may invest in a new HD TV. My flatscreen was a windfall eleven years ago when the Paul Allen startup I worked for shut down and liquidated the office equipment. This would also mean a new media cabinet, and possibly room for a turntable. I keep buying records, but I haven’t had a turntable since my first marriage ended in 2004.
  • We don’t own a car, and we don’t plan to own a car unless we move away from our house three blocks from a light rail station.

Travel & fun

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  • We went to Italy in May as a belated 50th birthday celebration, and though it was still a bit weird and pandemic-y, it was a lovely trip.
  • My husband is taking a six week sabbatical this fall and plans to spend a month traveling around Europe on his own, which he will share on his blog.
  • I’m meeting up with him in Portugal in mid-November, where we will stalk real estate and celebrate my 51st (!!) birthday. GenX is getting old, y’all.
  • Pre-pandemic, we tried to go on one international trip every year. We’ve been to Ecuador, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, the UK, Scotland, France, and spent an unexpected day in Bogota, Colombia.
  • I have also traveled quite a bit around Europe on my own between marriage one and marriage two. I sort of miss solo travel.
  • After our trip this fall, I will need some time to accumulate PTO at work, but high on my list for next trip are: Istanbul, Croatia, Greece, Southeast Asia, South Africa, New Zealand.
  • We make an annual trek to North Idaho to visit my homeland and family. This year we are going over Labor Day weekend, and may get to experience the spectacle of Paul Bunyan Days in St. Maries, Idaho.
  • We may spend Christmas with some of my cousins in the Bavarian winter wonderland of Leavenworth, WA. Apparently there’s a train?

So there you have it—a melange of all the things I’m working on and thinking about. All this self focus feels a bit… self-centered? But also necessary. Follow along if you want to see how it all goes!

One Comment Add yours

  1. kittyireland says:

    Reblogged this on Sixes and Sevens.

    Like

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