Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Purposeful Slow Down


There's this common belief that if you are not being productive 100% of the time, constantly learning new things, or perfecting everything in your life, then you're regressing.  But human beings aren't made to be productive 100% of the time.  We need down time, to evaluate how we're doing, reassess how we feel and what we want to focus on, and consider our next move.  You need slow time in your life.  

Slowing down doesn't mean you stay in bed and eat Doritos, and binge watching Netflix for a week, but it does mean actually slowing down.  I used winter break for that.  I started working on my bachelors degree last January while I was still finishing up my associates, graduated nursing school with my associates degree in May, took my NCLEX to become an RN in June, and have been working at the hospital as a nurse since then.  Then, in August I picked back up working on my bachelors, through an online program.  And everything just seemed to be running faster and faster.  I was trying to learn all the things I needed to know at work, I was taking care of more and more patients, who were sicker and sicker.  Covid started back up full force.  School was three classes, but one was biochem- which was not my friend and I thought I was probably going to fail until we got to the biology part.  My cat got sick and died.  And then it was time to get ready for Christmas.  I felt like I had more and more plates spinning in the air, and every time something slid off one of the plates, even if it was a little something- I forgot a quiz, I didn't remember something at work, I gained weight, whatever,  I felt like a loser.  And I was anxious that all the plates were going to come crashing down.  I lost a lot of sleep, I quit exercising- because who has time for that when your mind is going a mile a minute and everyday feels packed.  And I just felt overwhelmed.

Finally, when winter break rolled around, I decided that something needed to change.  So I started getting outside to walk- even when the temps were in the single degrees, I decided to only take two classes next semester, and I decided to actually sit down and decide what I wanted.  The main thing I wanted was less- less stuff in my life.  Whether it be clothes, books, sewing supplies, stress, or anxiety, I wanted to get rid of a lot of it.  I also wanted to be more purposeful about my days.  More purposeful about how I spent money and what I brought into my house.  I wanted to be a better friend.  I wanted to celebrate just the every day.  And I wanted to just be more in control of my time.  

So, that's kind of been my focus so far this year.  I have things I want to do as well, and plans made for things, but it's been so nice to just grind everything to stop and just stop and catch my breath and really think for a bit.  

Sunday, January 31, 2021

2021 Goals and January

I still love making goals each month.  I know the general consensus is that this is foolish during a time like now when there's so little we can control and so much stress, anxiety, and fear in the world.  But, I think if you don't make a plan of some sort, you tend to just drift along with no real vision, and I don't like that.  

I tend to make broad goals for the year, and then more concrete and manageable goals for the month.  With school in full swing, I've been even more gentle with those monthly goals.  But here are some of the things I'm aiming for in 2021.

For the year, I have more a dream list/  Most of these things I can't really cross off as done, but they're more ideals to strive towards:
-Travel more.  Even if I can't be flying across the country or to Europe, there's still plenty to see that I can drive to, that is outdoors, and that is nearby.
- Send letters and spend quality with people important to me, and encourage those around me.
- Ignore the news and celebrities.  I don't want to live under a rock, but I really don't need to spend time determining who the Kardashians are dating, which celebrity is canceled for saying what, and to some extent even following politics is annoying because this side says this, that side says that, they're fighting.  It really doesn't matter what my view on an issue is.  I'm not going to make my representative feel better if I agree or make them change their mind if I disagree.  This probably sounds a little jaded.  But if I am wasting time choosing sides when I could be spending that time loving those around me and giving them support and care, what's the good in that?  In some sense I feel I have a duty to stay up to date on the issues, but honestly when they're causing strife in my friendships and family, it's easier to just focus on the things right in front of me that I can change.  This isn't the right choice for everyone, but right now I feel like this is what I need to focus on.
- Use what I have: read the books I already own, try to not waste the food I buy, and get rid of those things I don't need.  I've been using a capsule wardrobe since September, which is not very hard when most of your time is spent in video conferencing or wearing a uniform, but I have a lot of clothes packed up that I need to decide if I need to keep or need to let go.
- Fix up things that I can around the house- replace the worn out carpet, fix the flowerbeds, stuff like that.
- Take care of my physical, spiritual, and mental health: get enough sleep, exercise, be joyful and kind and don't lose my cool (which kind of goes back to ignoring the news).  I've also been listening to a ton of good podcasts lately, which really helps.
- Find a nursing job, which really can't happen until I graduate and pass the state exam, but it's a goal for the year.

January Goals
- Exercise five times a week.
- Daily devotions.
- Get outside for an extended period of time at least once a week.
- Read 4 books.
- Read 15 minutes a day for fun (not textbooks).
- Blog four times.
- No buying anything besides groceries.

I did okayish on most of these.  The month started out good, but then once school started, my compliance rate when down.  I got outside a couple times to cross country ski.  I only got through one book.  I exercised most days.  I didn't buy much besides groceries.  I did get some Valentine treats and stock up on greeting cards.  My devotional time got done most days but last week wasn't very good.  I won't bore you with specifics, but I'd say I did better than if I hadn't actually wrote the thing out as a goal.  So by being intentional about it, I did better than just letting myself float along. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021 Word: Community

I LOVE the new year.  A fresh start.  New planners full of promise.  The allure of possibility that this, this could be the year that I get everything together.  I always set resolutions, goals, and track progress.  But I don't usually pick a word for the year.  However, this year, with all that has been going on, and due to the fact that it keeps popping up over and over in things I read, I have a word in mind: Community.

Everyone talks about how America is so divided and it's true.  We're divided on so many things, whether Covid 19 response, law enforcement's role, the economy, immigration, even religion.  Christians can't agree with each other about issues.  And I'm speaking as a Christian, who's very frustrated.  But, no one wants to try and bridge a gap or listen to anyone who does not fall entirely in their circle.  This year I want to do better.

And, I want to be a better friend.  2020 brought arguments about politics, social justice, and Covid 19 within my own circle of friends.  Instead of focusing on what we do agree on, I think we get so narrow sighted and only see what we don't agree on.  And I feel there's more common ground than I thought, so I want to try to work to repair some of those friendships.  I want to listen more than I talk, I want to think before I speak, and I want to encourage everyone I come into contact with, whether it's friends, coworkers, or patients.

I've been reading a lot of Henri Nouwen lately.  He's a Catholic priest who died in 1996, but his words are just as relevant as ever.  He writes a lot about how everyone wants love, and we feel isolated, alone, and rejected.  But really, God loves each of us, regardless of age, race, political affiliation, past wrongs, present short comings.  He loves us.  And, if God feels that way about me and everyone I meet, then I need to treat everyone I meet as if I truly believe that it.  

God loves that patient that shows up in the ER every week for the same problem, God loves that patient with dementia who has forgotten where they are.  God loves that coworker who is always humble bragging.  God loves that friend who you watch make bad decisions over and over.  God loves people you know are liars.  God loves everyone on death row.  I think we have a hard time believing God could love us unconditionally and that his love doesn't change based on how we act.  But, we have no problem believing we're more deserving of love than those we think are "worse" than us.  This year, I am really trying to focus on the fact that we are all loved by God.  So many people just want someone to listen to them.  They want to feel important and that they matter.  So that's what I'm trying to focus on in 2021- listening, loving, and building that community where people feel safe to open up and really share.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Slow Down and Breathe

I've learned a few things for sure over the past few years.  I am most definitely a morning person.  I do best if I have a routine, even if it's not rigid.  I need to exercise for my mental health just as much as my physical health.  I need to get outside, regardless of the weather here in Wisconsin, at least a couple days a week.  Seems simple enough- set up a daily routine, get outside once in a while, exercise, and all is good.  Well, just because I know what I need to do doesn't mean that I always do it.

When you're in nursing school you have clinicals, which are days when you go to a hospital and actually work as a student nurse, you know, so you know what you're doing when you become a real nurse.  You assess patients, administer medications, monitor vitals, and just work on your communication skills with patients.  You do all this under your instructor's supervision and with a real nurse that you report to.  So you're also supposed to be fluent with what medications your patient is taking, how they are administered, what the med is for, and any side effects to watch for or special things you need to know.  So that means staying up late the night before, drilling yourself on all their meds, and then getting up early to get ready and get to the clinical site.  Then, by the time you get done with your shift, you drive home, and at least in my case, you feel exhausted and maybe do some of your shift journal, scarf down some leftovers, and go to sleep.  Consequently, the first things to get cut are devotions and journallng, reading for fun, and exercise.   Not fun.  For a while, I manage to maintain these on the other days, when I don't have clinicals, but then slowly and surely there's big papers to write, or an exam to study for, and gradually, all these safeguards to keep me happy and healthy fall away and I'm just taking my vitamins and trying to eat a salad once in a while.  Doesn't really cut it.

This is part of the reason why I love winter break (and summer break).  I go back and reestablish my healthy routines.  I look at what's working, what I like, and what I don't. Even if you don't have a midwinter break, you can still do this, and I encourage you to.  Take an afternoon and just be still.  Put on some music that you like, drink some coffee, and figure out what you need to do to feel ready to tackle life.  This isn't about making goals and plans.  It's just about making sure you have the groundwork in place to keep you calm and ready for life.  And we all could do with feeling a little more calm and relaxed.  Do you need to start getting up half an hour earlier so you aren't running late every morning?  Do you need to go to bed earlier?  Exercise even though you hate it?  Figure out what things would help you feel better and then come up with a plan to make it happen. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Reintroducing Myself

 So, it's been a good two years since my last post. :)  I had let my domain expire, and then of course someone snapped it up right away, thinking they'd flip it or get me to buy it back at a crazy high price or something.  Which I had no intention of doing.  I actually had thought about deleting the whole blog, but I didn't for some reason.  And then I noticed earlier this week that the domain was back available at the normal price.  So I bought it back on a whim of sorts.  I had been thinking of starting a new blog, but I wasn't really sure about if I'd be posting regularly or not and was really just looking for a place to get my thoughts down, so this seemed as good as any.

I'm still Kaylee. I'm still married- going on fourteen years this year.  That doesn't seem possible.  Sometimes I feel like it's only been a couple years.  Other times I feel as though it's been decades.  I think that's how married life seems to most people though.  I still have the same two cats.  Still live in Wisconsin.  A lot of things are the same.  My love of books, coffee, sewing, traveling, setting goals- all still intact.

The last two years have been fairly busy.  I've been working on getting my associate's degree for nursing.  My last semester starts this month.  Once I successfully finish that (fingers crossed), in May, I can take the NCLEX, which is the exam to become an official, for real, RN.  The first semester felt like a roller coaster of emotions, mostly anxiety and stress.  The second was interrupted due to COVID, so it felt like I was just writing one paper after another.  This past semester was better and I felt like it went pretty smooth for the most part.

I'm still working a little, but school definitely takes up most of my time.  I'm only listed as casual at work, so they just call me if they need someone.  It's definitely given me more free time over winter break than I thought I'd have, but that's okay.  I finally made a valance for my kitchen window- after 14 years.  I've gotten out cross country skiing twice already, which is two more times than I did last year.  I've been cleaning, organizing, realizing how much stuff I still have.  Just trying to get everything in order before the last semester begins.


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?