When our lives change, even for the better, our stress increases. When you have fibromyalgia, that usually means your pain and your fatigue change… and not for the better. As I wrote about earlier, I’m facing some a proverbial barrel of the gun in terms of changes: I’ve been promoted, and I’m starting a graduate school program. Yeah, I think I’m crazy too.
So, I’m really glad that July is behind me. The month was mostly an awful slog fest and a vacation that really wasn’t one. Heck, I knew I wasn’t going to meet goals my first week in July, so this month’s review is going to be particularly challenging with goals left unmet all over the place. I’m ready for summer to be over and to just hibernate away the winter months. I’m also, however, quite tired, so that may have something to do with the desire to hibernate. Still, maybe this review will show me that I did better than I thought I did!
July Books to Read:
- The Wrath and the Dawn
- The Rabbit Raising Problem Solver
- The Weekend Homesteader (June Holdover)
- Read Compact Farms (halfway finished)
- Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles (didn’t even start)
Bonus books: The Rose and the Dagger (the sequel to the Wrath and the Dawn), Brandwashed, Think Like a Freak, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the last three of which were the audiobooks we listened to during our caravan to and from the east coast. I’ve also started Isabell Allende’s The Japanese Lover. (My husband gasped in mock horror when he saw the title and asked, scandalized, what I was reading).
Of the books I’ve read, I would definitely recommend Brandwashed and Think Like a Freak for those who are interested in popular psychology and/or marketing. Brandwashed got a little, umm, inappropriate when talking about shaving and may have referenced the porn industry and male shaving as I frantically started trying to skip ahead as my teenage girls were (hopefully sleeping) in the back of the rented minivan, but it was a fascinating read all the same. In many ways, I enjoyed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea for its environmental and scientific focus, but with its long sections about classifying animals, it was easy for me to work or do homework in the car and to check into the story line where necessary to follow the gist of the narrative arc. It’s not a book I would recommend unequivocally. On the other hand, I very much enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn as well as its sequel with its riff off 1001 nights; it’s a fun young-adult romp through romance, magic, curses, deserts, and palaces.
- Finish Winter Rosettes Quilt. Yeah, I knew this wasn’t going to happen basically as soon as I finished posting about my goals for July.
Knit six more rows on the chuppah.NAILED IT!
- Complete the July Food in Jars challenge.
- Write three blog posts a week.
I feel like I’ve written this the last several months I’ve been writing and reflecting about goals, but this month was just a hot mess. I knew I wouldn’t make my goal of finishing the quilt within days of writing my last goal post. I also failed to write any blog posts while I was on vacation (unless you count the one I wrote on the way home in the car) because I was swamped with work and school work. I didn’t have much creative juices flowing. Still, the one shining standout on my list of goals is that I knitted 11 rows of my chuppah project, knitting to the end of the lace chart. I knitted entirely in the car, and I’ve reached the point where I have to determine how to block such a large project and then… learn how to crochet the fringed border. Gasp!
- Workout every day, even it’s just stretching; make sure to stretch on our traveling days.
- Limit myself to two sweets a week; I can have one week with three sweets. (Being at my mom’s house will be difficult).
- Meditate five times a week.
- Take walk breaks three times a week.
- Take stretch breaks three times a week.
- Follow doctor’s recommendations based on whatever Monday’s test results say.
Many things fall off the proverbial wagon when I’m overwhelmed and stressed, but I’m happy to report that it’s not exercising. I managed some kind of workout, whether it was a walk or stretching or something more intensive, every day except the day we got home when we had errands to run, things to put away, kitties to cuddle, and the siren song of falling blissfully asleep in your own bed after two weeks away. I will call that sweet success.
I can safely say I failed at the limiting sweets while on vacation. My mom had homemade ice cream and homemade ice cream sandwiches using homemade cookies, and I made a cake for my mom and brother’s birthday, and we had a giant list of sweets for camping for the girls… and, well, yes. It’s a darn miracle I didn’t gain five pounds on vacation. There’s room for me to get back on track in August.
I’m honestly not sure whether I met my meditation goals. I’m pretty sure I didn’t; I didn’t track it, but I did meditate. I did not stretch. I did not walk. I also still haven’t heard back from the doctor about my test results. I’ve left a message with the nurse, and we’ll go from there.
August 2017 Forecast
This week, my main goal is to recover from the exhaustion of traveling. We’ve learned that I should never get home on a Sunday and need to work on a Monday. Such a travel arrangement leaves me no time to recover, and restful recovery is incredibly important when you have fibromyalgia. I want to do so much in the garden, to quilt, and to party with chickens and bees, and I just can’t. Maybe by this weekend, but we’ll see. My broader goals for the month include getting back into an equilibrium that will balance working in my new job (I was promoted! I have a legit office!) and graduate work. I’m hopeful that I can attain it because pursuing an M.A. in Latin is a goal I very, very much wish to accomplish.
August Books to Read:
- The Weekend Homesteader (June Holdover)
- Finish Compact Farms
- Ritchie’s Fabulae Faciles (July Holdover)
- Finish The Japanese Lover
- The Hillbilly Elegy
This month is about catching up, finishing, and reading a book I’d had on reserve for quite a while at the library. At some point, it’ll hopefully include reading some Plautus, a Roman author of comedies, in Latin. That depends on a few unknowns though.
- Finish Winter Rosettes Quilt. For real this time. Swear.
- Complete the August Food in Jars challenge (what is steam canning? Or low pressure pasteurization? Whoa!)
- Figure out how to proceed with the chuppah. (Sometimes setting low expectations is good).
- Write three blog posts a week.
- Cut the fabric for my honeybee quilt.
I’m not sure how August, with its back-to-school meetings for the girls and myself) will work, but my stretch goal is to have all my fabric for my honeybee quilt prepped so I can quilt, quilt away. I may have promised to quilt a pineapple quilt for one of the girls, and I’d like to see tangible progress on it. Sure, I’d also like to get farther along than just figuring out how to proceed on finishing the chuppah project and to spin some more wool, but after so much time of stagnant progress on my winter rosettes quilt, I’d really like to start another quilting project for some much need quilting self-esteem boost! It’s my stretch goal, and we’ll see how it shakes out.
- 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’m not sure at this point whether I need to include working out as a goal. I am so consistent at it, that I think I can safely drop it because it’s become an engrained habit. My other attempts at habit formations are still rather weak. Meditation, for example, has still been dicey. I completed the Palouse Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and I learned much from the program and used the meditations posted there successfully. However, after a few months, I’d like greater variety for guided meditations. I’ve struggled to find free options that are useful (or, well, any good at all). I’ve hesitated to purchase the Headspace app, which I learned not only through reading the creator’s book, which was excellent, but also through a friend’s recommendation. I sometimes struggle to spend money on myself in this way, but after going through the trial days, I decided to bite the bullet. I liked its flexibility in determining how long to meditate for, so I have a brand new app, I’ve committed to it by purchasing it, and I have the perfect time to build it into my day. I think I can make it work.
My other heal goals will be to continue working on walking and stretching. I don’t always take walking or stretching breaks. I’ve also decided to articulate a standing-at-my desk goal. I often switch between standing and sitting, but I think being more mindful of the amount of time I sit and recording it will help me be more diligent about actually standing and giving my poor back a break. It’s been getting fussy again (especially after all the time in the car), and I really don’t want to have to pay the exorbitant cost of having to burn off the nerves in my back again. (True story: it’s called a radiofrequency ablation). Of course, some days I just don’t have the energy to stand, so I need to give myself a pass on that too. Fibromyalgia sucks.
So, I have a broad swath of goals to tackle this month, but mostly I just want to reset, pause, and muster my forces so I can feel like I’m more in control of my health and my life. I’ve made significant life and lifestyle changes in my life by taking on this promotion and starting graduate school again. I just need to get a good handle on it all!
We planted three beds of green beans this year, all different varieties. My Landreth Bush Beans hit the ground running, and we ate delicious fresh green beans in stir fries and as sides before I admitted defeat and canned two quarts of them using the raw-pack method. Now, my Cherokee Trail of Tear and Purple Podded pole beans are producing an equally abundant amount of green beans just in time for the July Food in Jars Mastery Challenge for Hot Pack Preserving.
Sometimes you set a perfectly attainable goal, and then a couple of days later you realize there’s no conceivable way on earth you could possibly accomplish it even after you’d crowed about how you would absolutely manage it this time. Yes, dear readers, I’m talking about finishing my quilt in the month of July. The goal certainly seemed reasonable when I wrote about my plans for the month, and then I sat down to craft night and realized that my quilt is absolutely cursed. I would like to stress that I’m not superstitious in the slightest, and I believe that my quilt is undeniably cursed. Cursed!
So, June kind of exploded much like the Fourth of July did yesterday. My team at work was reduced (expected), my supervisor left (unexpected) leaving me in the position of a promotion (unexpected), we got another kiddo (somewhat unexpected), we took in a respite kiddo (expected, three preteen kiddos!) and my graduate class started (expected). So, my erratic goal progress this month can be traced back to all those expected and unexpected changes. I’m not making excuses; life is what it is, frequently as erratic as it is messy and explosive. My habits and stress levels suffered as a result.
One of my goals in living more sustainably is to learn how to eat food more seasonally and to preserve foods to eat through the year. I’ve checked out cookbooks from the library focusing on root vegetables and other such winter/early spring produce. Eating by the seasons also means that I need to eat more of the produce that is available. When you purchase turnips or beets at a farmer’s market, they come with their beautiful long and absolutely edible greens still attached. Yes, I mean greens. Yes, cooking greens. Yes, eating greens.
May, much like the preceding months, absolutely has flown by. I loved being able to honor and celebrate my friend’s wedding, and I particularly liked introducing my parents to our foster kiddo. With their distance in South Carolina, she’s the first kiddo that they’ve been able to meet. The garden is coming together nicely, and I can almost imagine how wonderful it will all look in another month when I check in on goal progress again.