Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Suggested Reading

The first quarter of this year has been a bit of a mess for me in several different ways, but I am working to get my feet back under me. I fell into a deep, nasty depression that went on and on. Luckily, I wised up and went to talk to a counselor and my doctor. I am doing quite a bit better now.

In all the chaos, I lost track of the thing I am trying to do this year. Remember my One Big Resolution? Yeah, I'd pretty much forgotten it, too, and I certainly haven't been doing it. Listen to faith. It's taken on a new dimension for me since I went back to it: when I have a choice between trusting myself and my values or doubting them, I need to trust them. I need to trust myself. I need to trust that I hold certain values and beliefs because those things are who and what I am, and I know those things to be right and good for me.

Doubt comes easier to me than faith, but faith works better.

In my attempt to get myself back on the tracks, I have decided to go back and re-read some things that I have found helpful and inspirational in the past. One of those things is Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck, which is a book about finding out what exactly it is that you want or need, and redirecting you life in that direction. I have found that figuring out what I really want is the hard part of getting it. The rest is just doing the work. And the tone of this book is cheerful and encouraging, which is just what I need these days.

Another book I've gone back to is This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan. It contains specific strategies for actually following through on the things that you want to do. A lot of the ideas may seem kind of obvious, but a lot of us aren't all that great at doing the obvious, and a little reminder can help sometimes.

A final bit of re-reading I've been doing lately is Luke 6. Yep. From the Bible. I realize that a lot of people aren't Christian or aren't religious in any way, so this is not in any way a general recommendation for everyone. What I will recommend, however, is to find something to read that speaks to the kind of person you want to be, whether that's something religious, philosophical, fictional, or from a newspaper advice column. If you're going to read anyway, it might as well be something that reminds you of the best you that you can be.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Six Month Resolutions

I find resolving to do any specific thing over the course of a whole year pretty daunting. For a good number of years-- many more years than I've been making those Big Resolutions-- I've been in the habit of making birthday resolutions in January and then evaluating how that worked out and making new resolutions again in July.

My birthday is coming up soon, so I've been thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next 6 months. I need to try to keep it reasonable, since I'll be working, going to school, and raising kids while I am at it. Just surviving the next 6 months may be my big accomplishment in July. That said, here's what I've got:

  • Write a little bit every day. It's three days into 2013 and I've taken a few minutes of each day to rant to myself write over on I'd like to do more and better writing than that, but that's my minimum. I am taking Intro to Creative Writing this semester, so I'll count whatever I write for class in this resolution too. 
  • Use the gym on campus every week, at least once, during the semester. I am paying a mandatory fee for it, so I might as well get in there. I'd like to aim for every day that I am on campus, but if I get to the end of the semester and I've done once a week, I'll be happy.
  • Eat more good food. You know, fruits, vegetables, all that. I usually have a better time of things if I plan to have an added positive habit over the corresponding negative habit (e.g., eat less junk food). 
  • Severely limit Facebook. Yeah, it is a way for me to keep in touch with people. It's also a huge time sink, and that's exactly what I don't need in my life. Anyway, I am insecure enough for three people without so much negativity. I really don't need that. I don't want to give it up entirely because it is one of the primary ways that people contact me. I plan to make my second identity into my primary identity-- fewer friends, and fewer additional activities like groups and games-- and then a quick check for messages in the morning and evening should do it.
  • Show up in church on Sundays. No excuses, unless I am out of the state, or very nearly dead. That's two hours on a Sunday morning that is a break from the absolute chaos that characterizes every other hour of my life, it might help my spiritual development, and it is nice to go somewhere once a week where people are genuinely happy to see me. (I love my parish.)
  • Find another job. I know I am helping people, but I am burning out. There is something to be said for a do-it-and-forget-it job, especially when I already have a full and somewhat stressful life before adding in work. 
I need to work on my general chaos reduction, too, but that's a little vague. I could write 6 more resolutions about that alone. I think that's something I am going to have to tackle a little bit at a time, every day, starting with something small. Really, the resolutions I have listed there will actually help quite a lot with making me feel better, which should help reduce the craziness factor too.

We'll see how I am doing in July. I hope to report back here before then. It would be nice to post more than once a year. Maybe that falls under the category of "write more."