That time of year again

You had the same one, I know it. Don’t lie…

Like most kids, it seems I took most of the summer off, eh? But now that September has rolled around it’s time for to start checking in here regularly. Even though my school days are over a half a lifetime behind me, the beginning of the school year always feels a lot like January 1st to me — a time to look back at the year and see what happened, a moment or two to assess the state of my current situation, and a chance to look forward at what I want from the rest of the year. A fresh start. The only thing that would make this better is shopping for school supplies (remember having to find the perfect Trapper Keeper or the entire school year would be a complete failure? No? Maybe that was just me…).

I won’t bore you with the whole looking back part — suffice it to say that it was a busy summer and I can’t believe that, with the exception of the hot and humid weather, it’s about over. The signs are impossible to ignore: my nephew is starting high school (what?!), the neighborhood kids aren’t as screechy during the week and my summer flowers have died (I’ve heard rumors that their deaths are under investigation and I might be indicted as an accessory to the crime).

And now, with the fall semester here, I’ve made a re-commitment to what I call the “self dashes”: self-improvement, self-care, self-education, self-love and all of the other self dashes that you could name. Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis or perhaps just a mid-life awakening, but I feel a sense of urgency to stop wasting my time doing things that don’t feed my mind or nurture my soul. Sure, that marathon of Criminal Minds might be spellbinding, but am I really the better for having watched it (I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that my life never reaches the level of drama where Criminal Minds knowledge would help me)?

Some days, of course, are more difficult than others to rev up the motivation to get things done, but I’ve decided to work off a plan of minimums — the least amount that I can do every day to keep myself happy.  One minimum goal: a mile of walking or running every day. Lately I’ve been getting up in the crazy o’dark early hours to do it before work (which isn’t as awful as it sounds — I simply replaced 20 minutes of hitting the snooze button with getting up at the first alarm) to get it out of the way. And you know what? It feels good to set a goal and reach it. There’s something to be said for minimum habits because it doesn’t seem to matter to my brain that it’s not really a lot of work to do, I’m proud of myself anyway. Three weeks and counting so far. Woot!

Another minimum goal is to write 300 words every day. And before you ask, no, email and Facebook posts do not count, but most anything else does. Is that absurdly easy? You bet. But it’s the habit I’m working towards, not a word count. Just getting into a rhythm of writing on a daily basis is the goal, not writing something novel-worthy (or even blogpost-worthy).

Less defined, though not necessarily less important, are my goals to learn more stuff (WordPress, Lightroom, web design) and read more stuff (I’ve already almost hit my New Year’s resolution to read 50 books this year) and do more stuff (I’ve been sadly negligent of my mountain bike all year — I’ve only really been out once). Basically, I’m out to do all the things that actively bring me joy. Why would I allow myself to sit practically comatose in front of a TV for hours on end, day after day, when there are so many exciting things that I want to do?

But one of the things that’s been challenging my desire to do all these good things is an overwhelming lack of energy — even when I get enough sleep, I arrive home after work and want to do nothing more than sit down. And let me tell you, I’m drawn to the couch like a moth to a flame, or perhaps more appropriately, like a slug to mud. I’ll give in, become one with the couch and then find that the afternoon and early evening has sped by and it’s time to go to bed without me having done much more than be a lump for a few hours. Which, in case you were wondering, isn’t nearly as productive as you might think it would be. I’m working with my doctor to see if there’s something physical that’s causing it (so far, my thyroid numbers seem slightly out of whack, which could be something to point the finger at) and in the meantime, I’m just trying to take good care of myself and be as kind to myself as I would be to someone else who was having this issue. And having my minimums — which are easy to do — allows me a sense of accomplishment, especially while dealing with my energy black hole.

I’m excited by the potential of this 2015 fall semester — I really do love clean slates and new beginnings — and am committed to doing my best to really make the most of it. As I’ve often paraphrased before, the days might be long, but the years are short (Gretchen Rubin) and there’s no time like right now to put aside the time fillers for meaningful activity, whether it be reading, running, writing, walking, playing with my camera, learning web design and Lightroom or anything else that stretches my mind or body. It’s all a matter of picking a time and starting. When better than now?


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  1. Brava, Laura! I like the idea of minimal and meaningful. I have been committed to including some form of art in my day every day, and MUCH more on Sundays. I’m not sure how long I’ve been at it exactly but I’m dreaming in color and I’m feeling so much more energized and spacious. I have a history of ‘Do More!” so this is a leap. I’m right there with you at saying no to things that don’t feed my mind or nurture my soul with an emphasis on soul. I feel like I’ve lived most of my life trying to ‘learn’ more, too. My life is calling for more play! Welcome back. xxoo

  2. Thank you, Sue Ann! “Spacious” is a great way to describe what I’m aiming for; freeing up resources to do things that satisfy some of my basic needs.

  3. “I’m out to do all the things that actively bring me joy.” No better goal out there. When there is joy, awakening follows. I find that the day starts best with a good taste in my mouth be it the toothpaste of coffee, and a lovely tucked in shirt.

    A little art…some beads help me, or a poem, lovely photographs. Then I’m good with my word limit as well. I’m better with a timer set. But all limits help to free us.

  4. I am mentally tipping my hat to you! Good luck with your goal- setting. It all sounds achievable, and the sense of accomplishment will bring you such joy. I have started putting a line through my diary on alternate weeks, and not committing to Anything ‘ extra’ on those weeks. No ‘quick coffee with a friend’ , no extra work commitments, etc. I am calling these weeks my ‘home weeks’ and they are for me to catch up at home, get domestic things done, have a little time just for myself, and not allow the outside world to pressure me on those weeks, as I was just beginning to feel so frazzled, all the time. . I politely decline extra commitments for those weeks, and suggest a rescheduled date.. The world hasn’t stopped revolving so far….! I am feeling such a sense of relief that I have time to catch up and rebalance a bit, and a healthy feeling of control. Nobody does these things for you, you just have to do it yourself. I look forward to reading about how you get on with all your goals x

  5. Oooh, I am loving the self dashes! Must have a little think at which self dashes I should focus until the new year. I love autumn as well, it always gives me a compulsion to stock up on school supplies, which is hardly helpful for a self-confessed minimalist. This year I make a point out of not passing those shelves in the supermarket, lol!

  6. Just this past fall I was introduced to writing with a timer, and I like it … though it’s almost stressful, in a way! Firefly Creative Writing has writing prompts on their website that I’ll use — direction with a timer, sometimes just what I need.

  7. I LOVE SCHOOL SUPPLIES. It’s a sickness, I know, but I just can’t help it. My big victory has been limiting myself to only buying new pens unless something else is very specifically required for something!

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