May Goals Update & June 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

goals, Harry Potter, motherhood, postpartum fitness, reading, running

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals | Outcomes

May : Goals 

Henry is taking a nap, so I thought I would try to get in a quick post. Most of my May goals were about wrapping things up. I wanted to work on consistent academic writing/editing and getting my class notes scanned. I was more successful on the former than I was on the latter. By the end of the month, I was so uncomfortable the last thing I wanted to do was stand by a scanner and scan. I suspect that boxes of notes will be traveling with us to Texas.

Nor did I finish re-reading Harry Potter, but I will probably have the seventh book done by the end of this month of early July. I came close, but I think I became distracted by other reading. Plus, it has been nice reading Harry while Henry naps or I pump. As usual, I’ll be kind of sad when I finish the seventh book — having lived in the books again the past couple of months. 

As for June — well, I’m not sure you can blame me for not really having any goals on the to do list. I think being a mother makes me more than 1% better. I think focusing on Henry and figuring out a baby has been goals enough! That said, I did start walking a mile a day this week — which was the big postpartum goal I planned before I start running again. I look forward to having more focused plans and goals come July!

What were your June goals?

 

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May 2019 Goals : Year of 1% Better

books, goals, Harry Potter, pregnancy

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals | Outcomes

May will be my last month as a non-parent. I mean — I guess technically I am a mom, but rumor has it taking care of babies is a lot harder when they are on the outside. I’m inclined to believe it! Hah!

So it feels weird to make goals for this month. I mainly feel like I am holding my breath. This is the last month of the old normal, before the new normal arrives. I do not feel too stressed, thankfully. At the same time, however, I wonder, “Am I doing enough? Am I prepared enough?” This goes for baby, moving in July, and beginning to teach in August. Frankly, if I think about it too much I become mentally overwhelmed by newness.

Part of me wants to rush head-long into it. Let’s just get started already. I’m sincerely and truly excited for everything to come. I’m grateful that the baby will be here soon, to be moving somewhere exciting, and to teach subjects I love to smart students. But I have enjoyed my life with Bruno for the past nearly two years of marriage with just the two of us. I love living in Michigan (a bold statement for this Ohio girl!). I have had an exceedingly flexible schedule the last few years. Writing your dissertation does not require that you get dressed in regular clothes. All of these things are big changes.

I’ll admit another part of me questions, “What is the point?” Everything is about to be disrupted anyways — why start new habits? Why not wait – post-pone – until baby is here, we’ve moved, and I see what life looks like teaching in Texas?

But that just is not me. I have never been the type of person who says when “x” happens, I’ll do “y.” I just make “y” happen, whether that be run a marathon during an exceedingly difficult four class semester, get pregnant while finishing up my dissertation, or working-out while pregnant. Though I’ll admit circumstances do matter, for the most part we can do more than we think.

So – here are some of my goals for this month. Yes, the big goal is to just breathe, enjoy the calm before the baby, but nine months pregnant or not, I’m still capable of moving forward, of being 1% better. They are small, but that is the point.

Scholarly writing/editing – 30 minutes – 5x week : I found out at the end of last month my revise and resubmit for an article was accepted with minor style revisions. I’ll admit I’m still too burnt out (ok, I’m babying myself here) to just sit down and go through the revisions in one day and turn it in. Instead — I’m taking it little by little, thirty minutes a day of going back through and re-reading everything. I’m about half-way done and should have it re-submitted by the end of this week, but I’ve been thinking ahead. I think with baby and teaching full-time, thirty minutes will continue to be doable for me. I want to start the baseline for that habit now. I think people underestimate what they can accomplish in a focused 30-60 minutes and overestimate what they can get done in a day. I also plan on continuing with my April goal of fifteen minutes a day notebook writing.

Scan all class notes. I know it is tedious. I know sometimes the scanner refuses to cooperate, so I spend on hour scanning to find nothing was sent to my e-mail. Just get it done. I’ll be happier knowing that I do not have boxes of files sitting around my desk anymore. I’ll be happier knowing I can find what I need in DropBox and Evernote. I’ll be very happy to recycle everything and know I do not have to pack all these loose papers for Texas and find a place in a small apartment to store them. JUST DO IT.

Keep television to weekends. I do not even really watch much tv, but sometimes it can be easy to watch something I do not care about at all on Netflix or HBO or what have you. This is the last month Bruno and I have as just the two of us, I don’t want to waste it by staring at the tv for the last few hours a day.

Finish re-reading Harry Potter. Here is my fun one. I’m reading Order of Phoenix right now, so I should be able to get done by the end of this month. I want to be done before baby arrives when I plan on listening to them read by Stephen Fry (which I have never done before!). It is always the season for Harry.

I’m keeping it simple this month. Just four! Of course, I plan on continuing to CrossFit for as long as I can until baby comes and watch my social media (holdovers from previous months).

What are your goals for May?

 

 

 

 

April 2019 Goals : How Did It Go?

crossfit, goals, Harry Potter, reading, year of 1% better

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals

I cannot believe April is over already. This is the first month where I mostly accomplished everything I wanted. Plus, I feel almost fully recovered from finishing up my dissertation. I think I finally actually relaxed and if you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post, did plenty of reading.

I managed to be fairly consistent in non-dissertation writing — both on the blog, but also in my goal to keep a notebook a la Natalie Goldberg-style. I found an old one-subject seventy sheet notebook, figuring there was no need for anything special. After my usual morning routine, before I write the day’s blog post, I set the timer at ten minutes and write. I was not able to finish a notebook this way, but I was able to get some thoughts down. I think I only missed a handful of days, so I was pretty happy with the success of this goal. I’m planning on continuing it into May.

Not only did I manage to do a great deal of downsizing in the kitchen, but we have around five or six boxes of books ready to donate in the dining room. The house is looking a little more chaotic with all these to-go boxes lying around, but it is great to know that as we get closer to moving (another two and a half months — but at least a month and a half of that will feature a new baby) things will be done. The last time we moved — only a few blocks away, not cross-country — it felt like nothing was done, nothing was organized. I really do not want that to happen this time around with an infant and further to travel.

On average I ended up doing more than 2x CrossFit every week. I typically managed around three times a week, even PRing a few times. Not bad for a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, I think! I’m hoping this is a sign of things to come for May. I may have to take it easy, but it is nice to keep showing up. I rowed almost every week and managed to finally get some walking in last week. Consistency, man.

My social media use is better, but still not what I would like it to be. I suppose this is going to be a goal I’ll keep renewing in the months (really weeks and days) to come. Some days are better than others. Some days I hardly think about it. Then the next day I find myself in a scrolling frenzy. I think reading more has helped — I reward tasks with another chapter of Harry Potter as opposed to checking instagram or facebook. It certainly is much more rewarding.

Overall, I would say things are definitely 1% better this month. I’m happy that I’ve added a new habit, gave myself some peace of mind with moving, and managed to stay consistent with my work-outs.

How did your April goals turn out?

 

 

April Reads 2019

books, catholicism, Harry Potter

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

I did plenty of reading this month, trying to get my hour a day in. It often turned into a lot more than an hour though with all the post-dissertation free time. I’m still making my way through the Harry Potter series (I’d like to be done prior to the baby’s arrival) and through CathLit2019. I read a lot more nonfiction and had a nice return to some historical reading set in the Amazons.

One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

I loved One Beautiful Dream. It was definitely one of my favorites for this month and I know I will be returning to it again. You can read my review of this book here.

Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI

 

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

 

One of my April goals was inspired by this book. Sometimes Writing Down the Bones got a little too woo-woo for me, but I think it did have some great practical suggestions.

The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb

I thought this book was kind of underwhelming. You can read my review of it here.

Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

I have a review of Lanier’s book to be published elsewhere hopefully soon. I’ll share a link to it is up, but for now all you need to know is I am not a cat person.

River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candace Millard

I liked River of Doubt. It combined some of my favorite things history, politics, and the Amazon rain forest. You can read my review of this book here.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling 

Goblet of Fire…the one where it all gets a little real, all too real.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Another re-read. There is a reason why Seven Habits is an absolute classic.

What did you read in April? Any big reads planned for May?

Take It Easy

books, crossfit, daily life, dissertation, graduate school, Harry Potter, health, pregnancy, reading, running

Yesterday we had our second prenatal appointment. Everything looks and sounds good. My bloodwork was great and the baby’s heart was beating at around 154 bpm. Week thirteen starts Friday and then it is just one more week until I am out of the first trimester. I was actually really confused by this. I had thought after twelve weeks I was in the second trimester, but I guess it starts in the fourteenth week. Eventually I will figure all of this out, maybe?

Anyway — I was sick most of the day yesterday (and this morning too). Wednesday’s are hard days for me. Tuesday night is when I teach my Constitution class. It ends around 9pm — close to when I normally go to bed. However, I’m usually so amped from teaching I cannot sleep or if I do sleep it is restless. I wake up Wednesday morning feeling all sorts of messed up. Next thing you know, I have a bad headache that just will not go away and a stomach that will not settle down. And though I know and understand why and have tried to account for the fact that “Wednesday’s are hard,” it is hard to not get frustrated with myself anyways.

Like with the fact that I have not worked out since a Monday short ride on the trainer or that not much has been done with the dissertation since I found out chapter five was approved (that changed this morning, but still). After several days of feeling like a not just like a normal functioning human being, but frankly like a total ball-buster, the house is a disaster again, dishes are piling up and my clothes are everywhere. I had that bathroom perfectly clean before Thanksgiving! How do things go downhill so quickly? Just a few days of feeling terrible and it feels like all hell breaks loose.

I know. I know. Take it easy. I’m trying. Yesterday, I finished the first Harry Potter book and read some Bulgakov. I didn’t cave and order a buffalo chicken sandwich (buffalo sauce being my ultimate craving right now) and made a healthy-ish lunch (black bean soup and homemade sour dough bread). Bruno took care of dinner.

Today it is only 9:40 in the morning and I’ve already gotten more done than I did yesterday. I worked on getting the complete dissertation put together (and learned I have no idea how to use Microsoft Word). I submitted a journal article. I will probably actually run today and make it to CrossFit. I know days are like this. I just wish I would have more patience with myself in the process.

xo, Ali

 

 

The One with the Baby News

blogging, books, daily life, Harry Potter, health, pregnancy, running

Ok, ok so it has been almost three months since I have posted and with good reason too!

Things have been going on. And I am very happy to say that all of them are good.

I left you September 5 with some thoughts on working from home. Soon after, I ran Run Woodstock 5k and half-marathon. I ran just ok, actually terribly. I ran that race a half hour slower than I did at Run Legend. I knew it would be harder, but that I was that much slower bummed me out. I felt tired and exhausted. I had no idea why. I thought, perhaps, I was over-trained. This is probably true. I took some time off running.

runwoodstock

Me after the Hippie Half-Marathon at Run Woodstock. Probably pregnant here!

I focused on teaching and my dissertation. I only have two more classes to teach right now and all my dissertation chapters are approved — I need do some edits and revisions, but I should be able to defend in February!

A little over two weeks after Run Woodstock, I still felt tired and exhausted. I was starting to get a little suspicious. On a Wednesday morning, I asked Bruno if we could pop by a Walgreens to grab a pregnancy test before we went to campus. Later that morning, I informed Bruno that yes, I was indeed pregnant. Very pregnant. Those lines were dark!

I’ll admit that I was surprised, but very pleased. We had wanted to start having kids as soon as we knew that I would have my dissertation done before baby no. 1 arrived, so the timing is very good (especially now that chapter five is approved). Baby C is due next year in early June. I will be waddling across that stage mid-May to get my Ph.D. diploma. Proudly waddling.

I want to be careful about how I write what I say next, especially because I know that I am very blessed and happy to be pregnant. I do not want to seem like I am complaining thoughtlessly or without compassion for women who have been struggling to get pregnant or who have lost babies.

That said, from about three days after I found out I was pregnant until probably about a week or two ago, I was having a very hard time. Normally, I’m an anxious person, but the increase of hormones made me well, frankly, depressed. I felt like a complete mess of vomit for the last several weeks and felt sick all the time. I could barely eat anything, barely cook anything because the smell of anything sent me running (the only running I did) to the toilet or trashcan. I regularly had severe headaches and was exhausted. I know. I know. All of this is normal. Many have gone through this before me and will do so afterwards. I feel silly for even complaining. And I’m lucky, happy, etc., but I would be lying if I said it was not hard.

The little energy I had was directed to prepping for class and crawling to the finish of writing this fifth chapter. I barely did anything else. I have no idea how women who go to regular jobs do it. There was a week that aside for teaching Tuesday night class, I barely left the house because I was afraid I would spend most of that time in a public restroom getting sick. This did little for the depression problem.

Quick shout out to Bruno for taking care of the majority of cooking and cleaning and having incredible patience during this time. Marry a man who, when you are having a meltdown because of how terrible you feel and how you feel bad for having a meltdown for how terrible you feel, surprises you by taking you to get a professional massage that very afternoon. Then, for his birthday, when you regain your ability to function like an actual human being bake him a layered coconut buttercream cake.

I feel better. I only get really sick every three days now, instead of what felt like every hour. Full disclosure: I worked with an orange Home Depot bucket that said “Let’s Do This!” next to my computer for just in case. I still went to CrossFit about 2-3 times a week, but the week before last I started running again. Last week I ran a Turkey Trot 5k. I am cooking again. I went on a full-blown baking spree last week in the kitchen. I’m doing my holiday re-read of Harry Potter. Rejoice! I am starting to feel, at least for now, like myself again. It feels good.

With that said, I’m hoping to finish the 2018 year of blogging and running strong. I am interested to see how running as a pregnant lady goes. It will be a new chapter in my life, one that I’m very happy to begin.

pregnant

xo, Ali

An Hour of Reading a Day Keeps the Anxiety Away

books, daily life, dissertation, graduate school, Harry Potter, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, reading

I usually wake up around 4am. That is, the alarm goes off at four. I lay in bed for a bit, but I’m usually out in the kitchen by 4:15-4:20ish. Bruno usually prepares coffee the night before, so all I have to do is press the “on” button. I chug two glasses of water. I take vitamins.

And, then, I grab a mug of coffee. I set an hour timer on my phone. I sit on the couch. I open a book and read. I do not read Rousseau. I do not read anything related to my Ph.D. I read whatever I damn well please. I’ve been doing this for over a year now.

After I took my Ph.D. comprehensive exam I had a really hard time with stress, like more than normal. Like I have mentioned before, stress manifests itself physically for me so I had high blood pressure, an ulcer, insomnia, and panic attacks. Not to mention, comps was not exactly the highlight of my graduate school experience. Pressure may be a privilege, but I have never been at my best when the stakes are high.

I missed reading for the sake of reading. For the last four years, I mainly read only what was required for class or for a paper. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I read for school. I would not be doing this if I did not truly love it, but around comps I reached a point where I could not separate the fear of failure with reading political philosophy. I feel much better now, but I do not think it would have happened if not for my daily reading habit.

Knowing that I would likely not get it done in the evenings — that is typically “Bruno time” — I began getting up an hour earlier. I began with re-reading the Harry Potter series which I have not read for years and years despite being a favorite. It was comfort fiction, like eating my mom’s chocolate chip cookies or taking a warm bubble bath. I continued from there to Mischka Berlinski’s Fieldwork and then Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. I re-read favorite classics like Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and discovered new one’s like Anatole France’s The Gods Will Have Blood. Somewhere I had forgotten that I’m someone with lots of interests, not just Rousseau. Case in point: The hot topic of books I read last year was on explorers and conquerors of the Amazons last year (this one on Theodore Roosevelt and the Amazon River is on my shelf now. The obsession continues!).

As the year has passed, I have actually transitioned to reading books more related to my field. Right now I’m reading Homer’s Iliad for the first time — I know, I’m practically an uneducated barbarian. I have two books on liberalism and freedom of religion that I’ve started and yes, sometimes, I even read Rousseau — but only the autobiographical works and Julie!

The benefits of reading in the morning have been practical as well as good for my mental state. It is hard for me to drag myself out of bed to work out or to work really. I have tried to start writing right away in the morning and I just don’t like it. I like easing into my day not rushing into it. That I get to reward myself by getting out of bed so early in the morning with some coffee and a book and generally just some quiet time to myself usually means that while I am slow at getting out of bed, that snooze button is almost never pushed.

And by the time I do go for my run or start writing or whatever the morning has planned, I already feel replenished not only from a good night sleep, but a good book too.

xo, Ali