August was an ugly month. Ugly. My level of stress was nigh well astronomical (but not quite so astronomical as the extraordinary total eclipse). I’ve come home from work more ready to quit than not almost every day, and graduate classes started amid a complete failure of my ability to get documentation to have services for students with disabilities. I’ve had more luck being a professional with a disability than a student with one, so the beginning of classes was inordinately stressful too as I deliberated and met with professors about my concerns for class. Also, the beginning of school when you’re a parent of two teenage foster kiddos is more than a touch nutty. Given my stressors, I’m surprised by how much I managed to accomplish this month. Go me.
August Books to Read:
- The Weekend Homesteader
- Finish Compact Farms
- Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles
- Finish The Japanese Lover
- The Hillbilly Elegy
Bonus Book: H is for Hawk.
I read a little less than I normally do because I figured August would be a tough month with working full-time and starting graduate school. However, I can heartily recommend each and every book that I read this month for incredibly different audiences and reasons. The Weekend Homesteader had some great tips I’d like to try; the content ranged from “yeah, done this a gazillion times” to “wow, that sounds great/difficult; I’d love to try that!” So, the content ranges from beginner to intermediate homesteading skills with something for everyone. Compact Farms was a little less applicable immediately but is a great book for thinking about how you’d set up a small for-profit farm. The Hillbilly Elegy was a brilliant discussion of a culture I haven’t really understood, and The Japanese Lover was a gorgeous book about love and sacrifice (and not sacrificing). Fewer people may be interested in the Fabulae Faciles, but they were fun easy reads for me in Latin that focused on the Hercules, Jason, and Odysseus.
My bonus book, H is for Hawk, was incredible. The story weaves together a woman’s grief at unexpectedly losing her father with her training of new baby hawk, the history of falconry, the effects of trauma, and the English countryside. I found the book fascinating, and the audiobook in particular was a delight (English accents and falconry? Yes, please!). I can’t recommend the book enough. Read it if it sounds at all intriguing, even an iota.
- Finish Winter Rosettes Quilt. For real this time. Swear.
- Complete the August Food in Jars challenge
- Figure out how to proceed with the chuppah. Ish.
- Write three blog posts a week. Just shy, but close enough!
- Cut the fabric for my honeybee quilt. Half-ish.
Overall, I did much better in this category than I would’ve expected, but I was pretty gosh darn motivated, especially with the cursed quilt. My stretch goal was to cut fabric for my honeybee quilt, and I’ve made some progress on that front.
As for the chuppah, I tried (last minute) to figure out how to crochet what I needed to crochet for the chuppah to no avail. I put out an all call for help on Facebook, and an acquaintance thinks she knows how to do what I want to do. So, I’m bringing the whole shebang to her and will hopefully have a finished chuppah before too much longer. The fund-raiser is two months away, so I need to get on finishing it.
- Meditate before work every morning.
- Take a walking break three times a week.
- Take a stretch break three times a week.
- Stand at my standing desk at least two hours every day – except on bad days.
I did so much better on the walking and the stretching and the standing than I did last month. SO MUCH BETTER. Still, I’m nowhere near meeting this goal. I think it’s possibly not realistic for me to walk and stretch for a total of six times a week. Even if I rationally know I can take work breaks to do these things, these breaks just aren’t happening at those frequencies. I did stand much more than I had anticipated, but I’m not 100% solid at recording the times that I’ve stood. I also didn’t mark anything when I had a bad day, so when I was flipping back through my notebook to see how I did, I’m not sure how many days I dubbed bad or I just didn’t stand. New goal: become a better record keeper.
My new app, Headspace, is working out so well that I’m meditating every day—not just before work. Sometimes, I even sneak in two meditating sessions. I’m enjoying it a lot, and I’m probably going to up my time from 10 minutes to 15. I’d like a little more Headspace and time to orient myself to my breathing. Either way, I am loving using it.
I don’t even know how to forecast this month. So much is up in the air with school and work (like, if I apply for other jobs or come home having been driven to my breaking point and unexpectedly take that two-week vacation I was supposed to have in July), so I can’t really say how this month is going to shake out. I know, however, with the High Holy Days, volleyball season (one of our kiddos made the team!), graduate school, and wrapping up the season in the garden, I need to put less on my goal list—not more—so I can feel like I’ve managed something beyond chaos. Having written my goals out, though, I’m not certain that happened.
September Books to Read:
- How to Be a Good Mommy When You’re Sick
- More Than Honey: The Survival of Bees and the Future of Our World
- Menaechmi (Can I put a school book on the list?)
- The Best Place to Work
- Everything, Everything
So, I feel like I should have less of a reading list… but apparently I did put a hold on the mom book a few months ago, and it became available a couple of weeks ago. So, I have it checked out from the library. I want to continue doing more reading on farming-related topics, so I plucked a bee book out to put on the list. Work is obviously crazy, and I’m about to be a legit boss (my employee starts on Tuesday), so that book seemed a good one to pull from my reading list… then I’m reading the Menaechmi for class (yeah, I know it doesn’t count). So, with all this serious non-fiction or schoolwork, I need something young adult that’s been on my reading list for forever, and I don’t have an audiobook, which I love since it lets me multitask on craft or garden-related projects, so Everything, Everything rounds out the list. We’ll see how it shakes out.
- write three blog posts a week
- piece the top of my bee quilt
- complete the Food in Jars challenge for September
- complete the chuppah
I want to get back to spinning, but I’m afraid to put spinning on my hobby list. Maybe it’ll happen regardless, but I have plenty of other projects to finish this month. The chuppah, in particular, really needs to be finished in advance of the fund-raiser in early November, so that should be my priority. Here’s to learning how to crochet. The September skill is fruit butter, and I love peach butter. Peaches are even in season, but I haven’t had time to pickle the jalapenos I do have… As such, I’m a little leery of this month’s skill. Maybe apple butter is the better way to go because I don’t have to blanch them (and I own a peeler/corer contraption that makes working with them a snap). Either way, I have plenty to do this month.
- become a better record keeper of the health goals I undertake
- stand at my sit-stand desk two hours every day (when not having a bad day)
- take walking or stretch breaks three days a week
- meditate every day
- when angry or upset, take a break and do something positive
My stress level this last month has been stupidly and outrageously high and difficult. I have been so angry that I’ve cried and screamed and just been generally difficult. These emotional outbursts haven’t been anything close to occurring every day (even if the desire to quit has been closer to quotidian), but I’m also surely not dealing with the difficulties as best I can. Nor is it fair to my family that I’ve been such a stressed ball of nerves. I can do better, and I want this month to be about being better and more even keeled not only for myself but also my family. If I can be more even keeled, it’ll also benefit me because my body has been throwing quite the fibromyalgia fit with all the stress I’ve been under. I am not sure how I will be a diligent record keeper of my frustrations and reactions, but I’m going to do my best. With the High Holy Days right around the corner, now’s a perfect time for me to be reflecting and beginning the process of atonement.