Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2019 Goals

2019 is here and while last year I felt clearly defined goals, this year was harder for me to put my finger on what I want to accomplish.  This is partially due to the uncertainly of starting a new job, working a weird schedule and not being sure when I will be awake, or how awake I will be when I am up.  And then there's school.  This big blob sucking up time.  I'm not sure how much I'll be able to siphon back from it.  By the time fall semester rolls around in September of this year, I'll probably be driving nearly an hour one way several times a week for school.  This is going to put work and lots of other things in a big question mark.

But, I do know what I want to look and be like at the end of 2019.  I want to be lighter- physically and mentally and I guess emotionally.  I need to lose weight and if I don't get after it now, it's only going to get harder once school starts and I'm spending so much time in the car.  I don't want to graduate nursing school even heavier than I am now.  So, I want to get my weight down to 150, which is going to be a challenge, but it HAS to be done.  My feet heart, I have heartburn, and I know it's not good carrying all this extra weight around. 

I also want to be less cynical.  I am the Queen of Sarcasm.  Sarcasm doesn't translate very well in blogging media, but if we hang out in person, you'd find out quickly that I am sarcastic and cynical and part of this is working in a broken healthcare system, but I've realized part of this is fear of looking stupid.  Like, I don't want to give someone the benefit of the doubt and then be proven wrong.  It's easier to be cynical and then you never get let down.  But, life is full of let downs, and standing at the sidelines saying "I told you so." is no way to be living.  So, I want to get past that and start to be encouraging of people.  Giving chances, and not worrying about getting hurt.

I also want less stuff in my house.  I don't want to have to be responsible for so many things.  Things that I don't even want or rarely use.  So, I've decided to go on a spending freeze for 2019.  Besides food, and things like toiletries, cleaning supplies, household projects like fresh paint, trees, or flowers, etc, I intend to limit myself to only buying three new things each month,  That means a severe shutdown on the amount of books, clothes, notepaper, dishes, craft supplies, bags, etc that I bring into the house.  I need to use what I have and be more picky about what I bring in to my house and life.  This may seem extreme but I'm tired of stuff and I have plenty of it, so this seems like  a good way to control it.

Financially, I have a couple goals.  One is to finally pay off the last of my old student loans from when I was attending University of Wisconsin online, one is to pay off a signature loan we got to pay for some remodeling on my rental and to consolidate some other bills, and one is to sell my rental before I start school full time in the fall.  These are all really feasible.  It's just going to take some time and being strict about  my spending freeze for the loans to get paid off. 

Creatively, I only intend to read 24 books this year, but I also want to write a short story.  Not for or about anything in particular, just for me.  I also want to have a quiet time when I get up to set the tone for my day.   And, maybe not creatively, but for my mental health I want to get outside and hike at least once a month, regardless of the month or weather.

So to recap in bullet point:
  • Get weight down to 150 pounds.
  • Be less cynical (not sure how to measure this one, but just working on it daily).
  • Spending freeze for anything besides food, toiletries, etc,  Only three new items a month.
  • Pay off old student loans.
  • Pay off signature loan.
  • Sell rental house,
  • Read 24 books.
  • Write a short story,
  • Hike monthly.
And that's wear "Do hard things" comes in.  I don't usually choose a motto for the year, but this year, I wanted to remind myself that it's not going to be easy, and it's going to be hard, but I can do it, if I refuse to take the easy route and push myself.

Monday, January 7, 2019

My 2019 Bookshelf

So last year I loaded up my little bookshelf with books I wanted to read.   I didn't get through all of them, and I didn't read only those books, but I did get a lot of those books read.  I decided to do it again for 2019, so here are the books I loaded up for this year.

I have so many books that it can get overwhelming to pick something to read after finishing a book can get a little overwhelming.  By having a shelf set aside of books to read, it does make it a little easier, although there were books I read that I got during the year or that weren't on the shelf.  But, a good starting point none the less.

Usually I set a goal of 48 books a year, which I never seem to reach, but this year I'm lowering my goal to only 24.  With school eating up a lot of my time, and wanting to get outside more, I just don't think I'll get anywhere close to 48.  So, two a month seems much more doable.

Books to read

Here's a listing of what's on the shelf.   An * indicates a book that was on my shelf in 2018.

You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth*
You Area Free by Rebekah Lyons
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Eliot
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis*
Literary Converts by Joseph Pearce*
The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life by Charles Haddon Spurgeon*
A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L'Engle
Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie Macdonald*
The Fox was Ever the Hunter by Herta Muller*
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood*
The Last Bookaner by Matthew Pearl
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Fiver Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris*
American Gods by Neil Gaiman*
The Terror by Dan Simmons*
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Severance by Ling Ma
Remembered Death by Agatha Christie
Halloween Party by Agatha Christie
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
Finding Water by Julia Cameron*
On Writing by Stephen King
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose*
The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis*
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis*
The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis*
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis*
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis*
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis*
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis*
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
Selected Stories of O. Henry by O. Henry*
Emma by Jane Austen*
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Dead Mountain by Donnie Eicher
In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson*
We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich*
Cooked by Michael Pollan*
How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

What are you looking forward to reading this year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

That Part Where Life Happens Unaware

I figured I should probably give an update on what's gone on the past year or so to give some context with where I'm headed.  So here's some of the highlights.

I was working at a nursing home here in town as a health unit coordinator and I did that for about a year and a half, but after crazy hours, stress, and just worn out feeling, I decided to go back to the hospital where I had worked prior.  It feels weird to be back in the same place I left about two years ago.  I'm working as a HUC and CNA.  Mostly CNA.  And mostly on overnights, which is a new "adventure" for me.  When I took the job, I was told there'd be "some" nights.  I was thinking about two a week, but in reality it's been mostly nights with a few PM shifts here and there.  I'm not a night person.  I'm normally in bed by 11pm, so it's been weird to be going to work at that time.  I've gotten better about napping during the day and sleeping longer when I get home from a night shift.  (When I started, I was lucky if I could make it till noon before waking up, now I can go till about 2pm.)  But, as soon as I have more than one day off, my body kicks back to an awake during the day, asleep at night schedule.  I don't hate it, but it's definitely not something I would have chosen.  But, shift differential pay is nice and nights are either pretty mellow or pretty busy.  There seems to be no middle ground.

I wasn't a CNA until about 6 months ago.  There was such a shortage of nursing home CNAs that the state of Wisconsin would pay for your schooling if you agreed to work in a nursing home for six months afterwards.  I really had no intention of going anywhere, but the stress got to me, so I left after my six months to return to the hospital.  But, my instructor for the CNA program encouraged me to look into nursing, and I had been pondering it too, so I started with summer school to take a couple classes, took two more this fall, have two this upcoming spring semester, and then I should enter core nursing in the fall of 2019.  I have lots of feelings about this and I'm not sure they're entirely trustworthy, so I won't get into it here and now, but it is a new adventure of sorts, that's for sure.

Weird work schedules and stress have not been kind to my body.  I'm the heaviest I've been- ever!  And I have heartburn a lot, foot problems, and other problems that could be solved if I could get the weight off.  Which I intend to do this year.  It's an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with because if I don't set up good health habits now, by the time I'm in school full time in the fall, it's only going to get worse.  I have a plan and I feel optimistic. 

On the mental health side, my depression has been pretty much kept at bay so far this year.  I feel like I do much better if I keep busy and feel like I have some control over life, so here's hoping.  It's been almost a year that I've been off my antidepressants, which feels amazing some days and foolish others.

Ah family.  My husband is still working the same job.  He's got some health issues too, but we're dealing well enough.  My dad recovered from his heart attack last winter, but had back surgery around Thanksgiving.  I guess he's recovering well from that too.  My mom and brother are both doing fairly well.  We all got together for Christmas which was nice, even if I had only gotten a couple hours of sleep beforehand.

Well, with going back to school, I had to make some adjustments.  My reading time has been limited, and my sewing time was pretty much nonexistent.  So, I moved my sewing related things- fabric, notions, patterns, etc. down to the basement or packed up into the closet in my office.  It was sad, but also liberating, because not having the table and machine set up in my office made much more room and it was nice not to be reminded of the half finished projects waiting for me everywhere.  I fully intend to get back to sewing some day, but a this time in my life, it just really isn't going to happen. 

I do want to get back to writing more regularly.  And, since winter break runs until January 21, I'm trying to get a lot of reading done, and get my currently reading list back down to just a few books.

As far as traveling goes, it seems I never get to do as much as I want.  I did get to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which I feel like is where I belong.  A friend and I went for a couple days and we had a great time.  I rented an apartment with AirBNB and we were a block from a Mexican restaurant, a couple blocks from a used bookstore, and a coffee shop was about a block the other way.  So basically, everything my little heart needed was within walking distance. The area had horrible flooding while we were there, and it was very weird driving home.  We stopped at Bond Falls, which is normally a nice peaceful, but large waterfall.   This time it was roaring.  Water was running down the steps and it just felt angry.  But still beautiful. 

So that's the gist of the last  year.  Nothing too remarkable, but looking forward to more adventures in 2019.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Welcome 2019

2018 is leaving and 2019 is nearly here.  For the first time I can recall, I'm not looking forward to the new year with anticipation of what may come, but more with apprehension.  I guess that's how you know you've officially reached grown up status. Worries about health and money and time trump plans for self betterment.

I was gone from this little blog for most of 2018 due to job stress and school, and that stuff hasn't gone away, but I realized I'm just happier when I'm blogging.  True, blogging can get stressful if you get wrapped up in your analytics and trying to make everything picture perfect, but if I just use it as a gentle push to meet my goals and try new things, and maybe as a bit of an online diary, it's much less intimidating.  Plus, I "met" so many wonderful bloggers online, and I really miss that.  I'd find myself talking about them to my IRL friends and really, they are like friends after a while.  I want that back.

So, I probably won't be posting all the time.  I'm aiming for about once or twice a week.  But I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone.  I've been reading blogs while I've been away, but not like I did when I was blogging myself.  And what can you expect to see here in 2019?  Book posts, cooking posts, self care things, nature things, health, and maybe even a little minimalism.  Sadly, probably no sewing posts since I packed all my sewing stuff up and moved it to the basement for the time being.  My life is always a work in progress and you never know what's around the bend, but I'll face it head on.  I'm guessing most of you feel the same way.

So here's to 2018, and what we learned and endured, and here's looking ahead to whatever it is 2019 may bring.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

5 Things That Are Saving My Life ... Right Now

 This is that in between time of year in Wisconsin.  Snow is melting, but we'll probably get at least one more dusting.  It's too wet to start gardening, but floral graveyards of last year are appearing uncovered showing dead leaves, stems, and dirt.  I planted some bulbs last fall, so I'm hoping they survived the squirrels and cold and will be coming up soon.  On the plus side, we had gorgeous weather this weekend.  Blue skies and forty degree temps.  So nice in fact, that my cat tries to bolt outside anytime I'm going in or out the door.  He wants to explore the yard and wander around the snowbanks.

I'm feeling more active on the weekends, but still pretty drained on weekdays.  Here's what's is helping me stay sane right now.

1. My weighted blanket.  When my depression was in full swing, I was frequently up at 2 in the morning for an hour, usually two (or more) and once I woke up, it was nearly impossible to get back to sleep.  Even with antidepressants, I was still having problems sleeping through the night.  It was so frustrating!  I've never been a person that struggles with sleep, but I was tired all the time.  For my birthday in February, my husband bought me a weighted blanket.  It made all the difference in the world!  I still occasional wake up in the middle of the night, but now it's usually around 4 (and I get up at 5 work anyway) so I either lay there for half an hour or so and fall back asleep, or if I have a bunch of stuff to get done, I just get up.  At $200, it's a big investment, and I was skeptical, but it was seriously worth every penny.

2. Cooking.  My husband is like the ultimate finicky eater, and while I used to make two separate meals, he's now on his own most the time.  But cooking for one gets old.  Especially old is eating leftovers for like a week straight.  So, one of my girl friends and I came up with a plan.  She works in the hospital below the nursing home I work at, so the days she and I are both working (she works days, PMs, and nights) I pack both our lunches.  In return, she buys breakfast on the weekends if we go out.  Having someone else to cook for has inspired me to try new recipes and eat healthier too.  It's been so fun to get back in the kitchen and eat new things.  Yesterday I made yellow curry for the first time.  And the realization that I'm willing to make more of an effort for someone else than for my own body is not lost on me neither.

3.  My cat.  Sure he can be annoying.  But he's the most fluffy giver of unconditional love you will ever see.  He's sitting on my lap right now in my office, while I type this.  He gets up with me no matter what time it is, and if I crash at 7:30, he's laying in bed right next to me.  When my husband worked nights and I was home by myself after work, I would have been super lonely without the cats (we have two, but the other one is not nearly as much of a snuggler).  Seriously, if you're depressed or anxious, there's nothing like snuggling a cat or watching a dog run around and play to boost your mood.

4. The weekend.  I know, I know, everyone loves the weekend, but I've gotten a bit of a routine down that seems to really help me cope with life.  I try to schedule any errands during the week, whether on my lunch break or after work.  Then on the weekends, I just bunker down and spend the time at home.  I get all my laundry caught up, vacuum, clean, and plan meals for the week.  Then I just relax.  Lay in bed, drinking tea and doing devotions, reading books, catch up on blog reading, send some letters to friends.  I may meet up with a friend for lunch or a visit on Saturday, but I try to keep Sunday for rest and reflection.

5. Medication.   Last, but certainly not least, I'm on prescription anti depressants, and I take two supplements for my anxiety/ depression.  And I don't know what I would do without them.  I remember days where someone would call in at work, and it'd just push me over the edge and I'd start crying, because I would be putting so much time and effort into the schedule and then one call in would through everything into a mess.  We've had two nurses move to other jobs and have lost quite a few of the high school CNAs to the start of softball, but I've been able to keep my cool much better now.  I know the medication plays a big part in that.

How about you, what's saving your life right now?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brain Bric A Brac

So you may have thought I fell of the face of the planet again.  Actually, I didn't, but I was very busy with the underbelly of real life that blogging friends don't really want/need to know about.  But, I'll fill you in anyway to explain my absence.

1. I got sick.  There's been all sorts of crud going around at work, so I'm considering myself fortunate that I only caught one bug.  It did force me to miss out on a girls' weekend with my Mastermind girls.  But, since I was puking, it was probably better they just went without me.

2. My parents got sick.  I think they had influenza, but I spent some time out there trying to keep their dog exercised and make sure they weren't dying.

3. My dad had a heart attack.  He's only 59.  He's in pretty good shape for a dude his age, and he and my mom eat pretty healthy, so it was definitely not expected.  They wanted to med flight him from here to a bigger hospital but the snow made that a no go, so he had to take a risky clot buster in the ER and then take an ambulance ride in a snowstorm, which thankfully worked with no side effects, and then spend a week or so in the hospital.  He had quadruple bypass but is home now and resting as much as he rests.

4. Work got crazy.  I've lost several nurses and CNAs in the last month, and a bunch of the high school CNAs are asking for reduced hours, which is making scheduling a nightmare.  We're due for the State's yearly inspection any day now, and I feel like there's not enough hours in the day.  Which has of course kicked my anxiety and stress back up.  I'm trying to eat better and take care of myself but sometimes my brain just won't shut down.

Constant resting work face.

5. So I did what any sane stressed person would do.  I signed up for the nursing assistant program.  It only takes a little over a month, and it'll be after work.  I'm sure my body will think I'm nuts by week two, but it will come in handy with my job and if I decide to go on to anything further in healthcare- med tech or nursing, I need to have taken the nursing assistant class.  While I don't have to be a CNA to be a HUC (which is what I am now- Health Unit Clerk) there's times it would be nice if I could help with residents more.  April is as good as month as any, and I'm already trying to think of a fun reward for me after it's all done.  My dad and I had planned a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to watch the Copper Dog 150 dog sled race, but his heart attack happened the week before so that put the cabosh on that plan.

6. Goals are going okay.  February is always a hard month, but I'm already getting some stuff knocked out this month.  I played in my fabric stash this weekend and started some fun, new projects, and enjoyed just sitting among all my fabric and mixing prints and designs.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Year, New Plan

I'm still alive!  2017 was a weird year, and to be honest, I had no qualms with it ending.  I know, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, blah, blah, blah,  and you can start to change any day, but there's something so refreshing about a new year.  New planners.  New notebooks.  365 days to make new dreams come to true, to change who you are, and to magically morph into the person you were meant to be.  I say this with sarcasm, but yet, I always buy into "This is year, I'm going to finally get my shit together.'

So let's just recap 2017 quick shall we:

I switched jobs (twice).  I went from working as a health unit coordinator at the hospital, to being a bank teller, to being a health unit coordinator at a nursing home.  I took a big pay cut to leave the hospital, but with unreliable hours available and staying that way for the feature, I felt like I had to.  But, I learned being a bank teller is not for me, and gladly went back to HUCing, and the raise that came with it. 

Then I learned maybe being a HUC in a nursing home was not for me neither.  I ended up feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and eventually found myself crying in my bathtub at home, and then even crying at work, falling asleep at 7pm, only to be wide awake by 3am.  A trip to my wonderful nurse practitioner fixed me up with some antidepressants, which are little miracle pills.  I still have lots of feelings about medicating, but that's for another time.

I pretty much fell out of love with blogging all through the fall, and felt overwhelmed with not having fresh content, not having the right platform, not having a direction, not knowing what my direction was supposed to be, and just not having the time to commit to it.

I spent most the fourth quarter of the year sleeping and wishing a giant hole would open up in the earth and just swallow me up, but like I said, antidepressants are great, and I'm feeling like I may survive after all.

So instead of listing my monthly goals, I'm going to just give you a rundown of what I'm aiming for this year.  I'm setting goals too, but maybe that's for another time.

I want 2018 to be a year where I am:
  • More Productive
  • More Creative 
  • Better Christian
  • Better Friend
  • Less Wasteful
  • More Adventurous
So that means, getting rid of all the clutter- physical, mental, spiritual.  Using up what I have, whether it's salad dressing, paper, fabric, or books.  Spending more time reading my Bible, practicing what I preach.  Being thoughtful.  Sewing more, reading more, not wasting so much time on the Facebook,  Cooking healthy foods.  And, getting out of the house.  Trying new things.  Traveling with friends or family or by myself if I got to.

 So far I'm happy with how my year is going, but we're not even three weeks into it yet, so trying not to pat myself on the back too hard.  What are you shooting for this year?  How's it working for you so far?