Tag Archives: planning

Another Attempt At Mindfulness (or I Think I Need To Work On This Until I Figure It Out)

I’ve tried to work on mindfulness multiple times and it has never seemed to stick with me. But it keeps coming up in my life and I feel like that is a sign of something. So I’ve been inspired to try mindfulness again and the timing is perfect since it’s time for another monthly challenge! But first, time to recap last month’s challenge.

Last month, I challenged myself to work on doing daily speed cleaning. Ideally, I would spend 5-10 minutes a month focused on a small space in my house to clean and organize it. I wanted to do this because I had felt like my cleaning was getting overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start. So I wanted to take away the pressure from doing a big cleaning in my house because that seemed to be what was stopping me. I set an alarm to work on this each day and I tried my best to do what I could.

I wasn’t totally successful with this, but it went better than I thought it would. There were several days that I couldn’t do cleaning because either I was gone all day (like during the Convention) or I had no energy because I was sick. But when things like that weren’t stopping me, I really did accomplish a lot. And by telling myself I only had to do one small cleaning thing allowed me to just do it and not worry about not having time to finish it. There were some times that I did a really small cleaning job like using a new multi-hook hanger to put all my tank tops in one spot (it also saves room in my closet). And then there were other times where my small cleaning job ended up getting me motivated to do a bigger cleaning job. But it has gotten me into the habit of spending a bit of time every day working on this so that I don’t feel overwhelmed again.

Last month went well and I’m really hoping this month will too. Mindfulness has been a struggle for me each time I’ve tried to work on it. I’ve found little things that have worked, but they aren’t enough. I want to be more aware of so much in my life. This isn’t just a food thing because there are days where it seems like the entire day slipped away without me knowing what happened. I want to avoid days in a fog like that if possible.

The book that I’m reading as my 10 pages of a recovery based book right now is all about eating mindfully. I actually wish I had read this book when I first started trying to be more mindful because it’s pretty great. Each section has a lesson along with some action steps to take. And so many of these action steps are things that I haven’t done before or thought of doing before. I actually think I need to go back and start reading from the beginning to take notes on things because I haven’t been doing that. And that is part of my challenge for this month.

I want to go through the book again and other resources I can find and start finding action steps to take to work toward mindfulness. Maybe the reason why it has failed to stick with me before is because mindfulness is more of an idea and less of something I can do. If I had steps to take and work with, that would probably be better for me. I need something tangible or to check off on a list to work with and I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this before.

This month’s challenge won’t necessarily be about putting mindfulness into practice right away. I’ve tried that a bunch and it hasn’t worked. But instead, this challenge is going to be about researching action steps and ideas to put into use over time. I want to devote time every day to re-reading the book I’ve been reading as well as looking online or in other reference books to make a list that I can use moving forward. I want to make mindfulness work for me and it’s not something that I can just turn on right away. I need to work toward it and I have failed at doing that before. Because other challenges have come to me so easily, I assumed that this one would too. But I am learning and have realized what I hope will be the missing step to be able to implement this into my life in the long-term.

I know that this seems like a much more passive monthly challenge than others have been, but this is what I think I need to focus on this month. And there are only so many things I can add to my life with these monthly challenges, so having one that is more of a reflective thing is probably going to help me not get burned out on them. And I totally don’t want to experience burn out because I just got my 2018 Volt Planner so there will be another year of monthly challenges next year!

Another Goal Setting Session (or A Quarterly Check In)

The podcast I work for has started to do quarterly check ins/goal setting workshops, and we just had our 3rd quarter check in this past weekend. I hosted it again at my house (even though it means I have to clean it also means I don’t have to worry about getting somewhere) and we had a really great group at the workshop.

A lot of what we did this time was the same as last time, but that’s not a bad thing since we aren’t in the same place now as we were 3 months ago. We started with just chatting together and getting to know each other before we moved on to the more serious work. But since most of us didn’t know each other, getting to chat a bit helped to make us all comfortable since this can be very personal work and we didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable sharing.

The first thing we did was the 4 Tendencies quiz by Gretchen Rubin. This was the same quiz that we did last time and I had the same results that I had the first time. I wasn’t surprised since I was pretty strong in what tendencies I fit into the first time, but it was still cool to take it again to see what happened. And I believe that nobody else in the group had done this quiz before so it was fun watching them discover what each thing meant and what tendencies they fit into.

After that, we worked on our personal reviews of the past 3 months. This was broken down into multiple sections. First, we wrote down what didn’t work. I had a bunch of things to put in that section, but I realized that there was a theme when I was writing. So many things that didn’t work had to do with me not feeling like I deserve something or am worthy of something or that I was letting someone else set the rules and guidelines for the situation. Some of this was related to dating and some of this was related to work. But so many thing fit into those descriptions and I hadn’t realized that until I was writing it down.

Next we wrote down what is important to us right now in life. This was more varied for me than what didn’t work. I had things like being more open and honest, working on union work and my acting career, strengthening my relationships with friends and family, and working on my fitness.

The next section was a two-parter. First, we wrote down what we want. For me, that included having success in my acting career, living within my means, having healthy and happy relationships, and getting into recovery for my eating disorder. The second part was what we wanted to live through ourselves. I want generosity, helpfulness, and being of service to come through me. I know that those are all pretty similar, but I feel like when I can help that I am at my strongest so I want to do that as often as I can.

The final section was what is next for us for the next 3 months to bring us to the end of the year. And mine fell into the ideas that I had written in the previous sections. I want to stop tolerating mediocrity in myself and in others. I don’t want to give up control to others because that doesn’t do anyone any good to just go along with things. I want to be more active in multiple aspects of my life. And I want to work on living a full life and not to forget to have a life outside of the routine I’m already in.

After we went through those sections, everyone had the opportunity to share and everyone did share. All of us are working through very different things, but that didn’t mean we didn’t learn from each other. I was taking notes as everyone else was talking and I got some great ideas that I know I want to use for myself. And after we reviewed what we had written, we all worked on some action steps to take to make sure we work on what we had written. For me, the action steps all boiled down to one main idea: stop taking crap from people and when I want to be involved in something that I should not worry about it and go for it. Obviously that is easier said than done, but it has given me something to think about.

We ended the workshop with some visualization and discussion of affirmations. Even though I use a daily affirmation app, I got some ideas for affirmations that are more specific to me and I’m looking into how to create some sort of affirmation alert for myself that randomizes which one I see. I won’t have time to work on that for a little bit, but hopefully I can do it during this last quarter of the year.

Even though I’m pretty big on goal setting for myself, having these workshops is so amazing and I always learn so much from them. I learn more about myself and what I’m thinking about situations. And I learn how I want to change things and create real action steps that I can take to accomplish them. It’s very empowering and I’m already looking forward to the workshop we have for the first quarter of 2018!

Another Monthly Challenge (or What To Do When You Are Crazy Busy)

The beginning of a new month is always exciting for me. But it’s been even more exciting since I started using my Volt Planner last year because it means it’s the beginning for a new monthly challenge! It can be a struggle sometimes to think of a new challenge each month, but once I pick one I really get into it. And knowing that I’ll be doing that again each month is something I look forward to.

Last month, my challenge was to tweet more. Specifically I wanted to tweet more about SAG-AFTRA and union related issues. My role as a SAG-AFTRA delegate is officially just as the convention (which is this week), but I don’t want the end of the convention to be the end of my involvement. And while being on social media isn’t the most active thing, I figure that every little bit helps. And I also got a lot out of doing this because every day I was reviewing tweets that might be ones I wanted to share. So I was learning more every time I reviewed them. I feel so much more educated about union issues (and not just actor union issues) than I ever have.

This month, I struggled a bit with picking something to set as my challenge but it wasn’t for the usual reason. I have a couple of things I want to do, but this month is going to be very crazy for me. I’ve got the SAG-AFTRA convention, lots of doctor appointments, work, podcast stuff, some projects I’m working on, and then trying to have a social life. I know that I will be a bit stressed and I didn’t want to pick something that might add more stress to my life. I’ve picked some challenges that have done that in the past, and it can work when the month isn’t going to be stressful. But I know October will be crazy. I’ve been telling people my life won’t be normal again until after the 16th because that’s when I seem to finally have free time in my calendar.

But there has been one thing that I’ve had on my monthly and weekly planning sheets in my planner that I don’t see to ever get around to. I really need to clean my desk and my closet. I probably need to work on my entire house, but I really see how packed my desk and closet are and I know I don’t need everything I have. I also keep bringing more things in without removing stuff so it gets more and more cluttered. But when I look at it it seems so overwhelming.

So I’ve set my monthly challenge for October to do speed cleaning/organizing every day. I have an alarm set and I want to do maybe 5-10 minutes every day. The idea is that I’d focus on one thing each day. For example, with my clothes I’d look at tops one day and dresses another. I don’t need to look at my closet as a whole since that has been what is looking like too much of a project. With my desk, I might break it down my the drawers or by category but I’m not sure yet. And there are so many other areas in my house that I could organize by breaking it down into chunks like this.

I had read “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” a while ago, and while I don’t agree with everything in the book there are some really good points. I only want to have things in my home that make me happy and bring me joy. My definition of those things are a bit different from what the book talks about, but the general idea is the same. There are things in my closet that I look at and get annoyed about because it doesn’t fit anymore (either too big or too small), it doesn’t fit right, or it just is something I never can figure out when I should wear it. I don’t need that taking up space in the tiny closet I have.

But besides decluttering, I just want to have a clean house that makes me happy. It’s never too dirty, but there are times that I have to spend a good amount of time cleaning every room before I have company over. I know that nobody cares if my house is a little messy, but I do. And if I worked on 5-10 minutes of cleaning a day (either by cleaning one room or doing one type of cleaning like vacuuming or dusting), it shouldn’t get too overwhelming before I have company over.

I know that even 5-10 minutes of cleaning might be a bit tough for me to do on the craziest days I have coming up this month, but that’s ok. I understand now that I don’t have to be perfect every single day but instead I want to get into the habit so that it becomes something I don’t even have to think about each day. It would be nice to know that I have a clean house pretty much all the time and not a semi-clean house most of the time and a super clean house occasionally.

Mixed Up Workouts (or Not Knowing What To Expect)

This past week of workouts was an interesting one for me. I usually know what to expect with my workouts because I know which classes are 2 group classes and what classes are 3 group ones. I also have a good idea of what the workout will be each day because I have found an online forum where people post it each day. I like knowing what the workout will be so I can prepare mentally and physically for what I’m going to be doing. But this week things didn’t go as I thought they would and maybe that was a good thing for me.

Monday’s workout was an endurance run/row workout. I was expecting it to not be a run/row because it’s supposed to be a 3 group workout, but it ended up being a 2 group class instead. I think even though it’s posted as a 3 group one, it’s not going to be that way that often. I know some people aren’t coming to that class anymore because they don’t like the 3 group classes and because of that we don’t have enough people in class to make it 3 groups. But it was nice to have the run/row and I was happy that I was able to do it.

We started with a 1,000 meter row which I did without stopping but not in that great of a time. Next was supposed to be a .5 mile run on the treadmill. But my body wasn’t up for running. It was a combination of being tired and my hips hurting from sitting at Hamilton the night before. So I did the power walk version of .25 miles at 6% incline. Next was back to the rower for a 750 meter row and then another .25 miles power walking on the treadmill. I was on the rower doing the 500 meter row when time was called to switch to the floor.

Once I got to the floor there were 3 blocks and it was mainly arms and core focused. The worked out well for me because my legs and hips were pretty done after the run/row. The second block was interesting because we had 30 second intervals with plank work and running man and that was pretty tough. 30 seconds isn’t that long, but when it’s back to back it gets hard. And the last block was tough too because we had a core blast but had to do 3 burpees in-between each exercise.

Wednesday’s workout was a strength day, so I went into it thinking it would be a walking day for me. But that ended up being the perfect plan because half of the treadmill workout was designed to be power walking only. The first 2 blocks on the treadmill were normal strength ones. I run the 90 second push paces because they weren’t on an incline but I walked all the incline work. But the second 2 blocks were power walking blocks where everyone was walking. The inclines were supposed to be a bit higher than I normally do, so I was at a lower incline, but it was still everyone walking and I didn’t feel bad about not trying to run on inclines that day.

When I went to the floor, we had 2 blocks. The first block was bicep work on the straps, chest work with weights, and ab work. We also had a 300 meter row which I did in 1:15. Not a great row time for me, but if I’m being honest I wasn’t trying that hard on the rowing. The second block was tricep work, biceps with weights, and shoulder work. And we had a 500 meter row which I did in 2:23. Again, not a great time but I know I wasn’t working as hard as I probably should have.

Friday was an endurance day and I wasn’t planning on running because of that. But then when I got to class I realized we were going to do the 3 group format which meant less time on the treadmill. So I decided to try running and see what happened. We had 2 blocks on the treadmill and they all had the same format with a 1 minute push pace, base pace, 90 second push pace, base pace, and a 2 minute push pace to a 30 second all out pace. But the difference between the 2 blocks was that the base paces had different times. But to run all the push and all out paces was pretty awesome for me since I really expected to be walking the entire workout.

Next I was on the rower which was one long block. It was timed rowing with squats in-between each row. We started with 30 seconds and increased things by 10 seconds each round. Normally I love sprint rowing because I can do really well with it, but doing the squats in-between the rowing was tough and I wasn’t rowing as hard as I usually could. But it was a great block of work and was nice and challenging for me.

And I ended on the floor which was also one long block. It was deadlifts and work on the straps and then we had increasing numbers of exercises on the BOSU. Each BOSU thing was core work and while core work sometimes feels like a bit of a break and time for me to catch my breath, this time it was just constant work so I felt like it was just as tough as any other block I had done that day.

And I got my 4th workout in this week again. Saturday was a power day which usually means a running day for me. But that wasn’t going to be the plan for me this time. My legs were pretty dead from Friday’s workout and I ended up not being able to start on the treadmill like I usually do. I started on the rower, then went to the floor, and finally was on the treadmill. So by the time I was at the treadmill my body was not feeling like running would be happening.

There were 2 rounds in the 3 group workout so I spent 2 blocks on each section. With rowing, we had some distance rowing challenges. They were sprint rows but in the first block I wasn’t doing too great with them. They were decreasing distances with decreasing breaks between each round. But with the second block, we had 150 meter distance rows with some squats in-between. I was on my 2nd or 3rd 150 meter row when my coach came by. She normally gives me a challenge on the rower to do and she likes to make them pretty tough. I was averaging 40 seconds for 150 meters so she challenged me to do it in 30 seconds. I asked her to hold the rower because I knew I was going to go hard and I didn’t want it to move. She stayed there and I flew on the rower. I didn’t focus on the timer but watched the distance go down. And when I got to 150 meters, not only did I hit the goal my coach set but I beat it!

28 seconds is way faster than I ever thought I could do the row in! And I think my coach was pretty blown away by it too! It was a pretty high note to end my rowing with.

On the floor, everything was pretty quick. We had a variety of upper body, lower body, and core work. But the craziest thing we had to do on the floor were burpees with palms to elbows. But burpees and palms to elbows are tough enough on their own. But to combine them was almost just evil! I totally struggled with those, but I did my best.

And when I finally got to the treadmill, I started with trying to run the first push pace before realizing that it was just not safe for me to run. When I’m tired I can have sloppy running form and I didn’t want that. So I ended up walking on a day that I really was hoping to run. I felt a bit bad about walking because I knew I wasn’t getting as good of a workout as I would have liked to, but I just kept reminding myself that I was there and not sitting at home. Walking is better than nothing. And it was also my 4th workout of the week which is still something I occasionally struggle with.

No matter how much I try to prepare for my workouts, I guess the unexpected can always happen. Fortunately my fitness level is at the point where I can adjust and adapt as needed and my workouts don’t suffer too much. But I think I’m still going to prefer when I know what I’m in for when I walk into the workout.

My Version Of Back To School (or I Need To Get Out Of My Summer Mindset)

Most of the schools in LA went back this past week. It was cute to see all the first day of school photos from my friends with kids and most of my friends are pretty excited to have some free time back in their lives. It’s crazy to see some of my friends’ kids in school when it seems like it wasn’t that long ago that they were born. Especially since I don’t feel like I’ve aged as much as those kids have!

Back to school time used to mean so much to me. When I was in school it was a great way to reset things in my life and get them back on schedule. Even when I was working as a substitute teacher it had that effect on me. There’s something about knowing that school is back that triggered a sense of seriousness in me and I’ve realized that I don’t have that anymore.

I don’t miss school. I do a lot of learning through various things on my own every day so I don’t need a set class that is fall to summer. But I do miss the feeling of resetting things and getting back on track. And getting back on track is something that I do struggle with at times and yet again I’m going through that.

I have to feel lucky that I have my fitness stuff down and that doesn’t need to much work. I think things would be so much worse for me if I didn’t have that in place. But food is still a struggle and I know that things have gotten a bit out of control again. It’s a combination of my schedule being crazy, having lots of adventures and outings, and just being lazy because of the heat.

I’ve said this so many times before, but I really need to get back to my meal planning. Or at least having better options in my house to choose from. There have been far too many days where it’s 3pm and I’m done with work and I’m going to the grocery store because I’ve got nothing to have for dinner. And unfortunately, when I do that I will sometimes buy things I don’t need because they seem good to me in the moment.

I’m working on getting back to the way I was meal planning earlier this year, but it’s not exactly what I think I need right now. So I’m back to experimenting with what things will work and what will help to make me as successful as possible with not having problems with having the right food in my house. I know that my schedule is still a bit crazy and will continue to be a bit crazy, but that can’t be an excuse for me anymore. Life will always have moments of craziness and that can’t be stopping me.

I also need to refocus on work and time management. For the next month things are extra crazy for me because I’m doing the temporary job for an old boss of mine. I have to manage when each day I’m doing each job and I really need to focus on it because I need to get it done when I plan on getting it done. It would be so easy to let time fly by and not have the chance to do what I need to do a certain day. I make sure that it doesn’t happen, but I also see where there are cracks in my plan and where I can improve things.

It will be so nice when one day I don’t have to stress about these things as much. Maybe one day food will come as easy to me as the workouts do now. And maybe one day I’ll only have one job (or one job with a few side jobs that are related to that job) so I don’t have to color coordinate my schedule to know when I need to work each job each day. Fortunately with work, I am an organized person so it’s not too horrible to manage things. But I do look forward to when things are simpler in life and that I can focus on one thing at a time instead of multitasking every single hour and day.

My August Challenge (or Being Selfish To Be Happy)

Another month is here! I can’t believe July is over and it’s already my birthday month! And as always, a new month brings the recap of my last month’s challenge and announcing what my challenge will be this month.

Last month, I wanted to work on practicing more mindful breathing. More specifically, I set a reminder to work on breathing and staying calm at 2 of the times that I commonly feel like I want to binge eat. This was a challenge idea I got from therapy and I was curious to see how it would go for me. Doing things like this have been tough for me in the past because I get super focused and forget to do it. Or I get distracted by something else and forget. But having a reminder on my phone does help since I have to dismiss it to make it go away.

While I didn’t always do the 10 slow breaths that I planned on doing, this still was a successful challenge to me. If I was feeling like I wanted to binge, this alarm stopped me and made me think. It didn’t always stop it, but at least I was not in the trance that I’m used to being in when having an episode. I was more aware and even if I didn’t always make the right choice I knew it was my choice. Because this gave me so much more awareness, I will be doing this beyond just last month’s challenge. I think that the benefits will continue each month that I do it and it is a helpful thing for me to have.

But doing challenges beyond the month that they are for brings me to this month’s challenge. I really struggled to figure out what I wanted to do. I’ve added so much to my days between my happiness checklist and all the monthly challenges that I’ve continued to do. I’ve continued almost all the monthly challenges beyond the month that I did them for and that’s a lot of stuff for me to remember to do.

So this month’s challenge isn’t necessarily something I will be doing every day but instead something that I want to have as a focus for the month in general. I want to focus on figuring out what makes me happy and what I want to continue to do. I have to do so much out of obligation or responsibility and I want to make sure all the stuff I add to my life are for fun and not because I feel like I have to because I’ve been doing that for a while.

On my happiness checklist, most things are things that I want to keep on there. They do make me happy and when I haven’t done something for a while I’m reminded to do so. But the ones I’m thinking about taking off are the ones that I do every day and I don’t have to focus on doing. This mainly is about reading and eating disorder recovery research every day. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t read at least a little bit. I read every single night before bed and I read a lot in my down time too. And I do recovery research every day because I read 10 pages of a recovery book every day. While these things make me happy, I think maybe I should add 2 other things to my list that I don’t do every day so I can challenge myself to keep focusing on my happiness.

And with my monthly challenges, most of the time I want to continue doing them when the month is over. But I’ve been noticing that some things are either stressing me out or I’m not doing them. I need to start removing those reminders from my phone so they don’t remind me that I’m not doing something. It can make me mad when I get a reminder to do something that I know I won’t do. But my idea of wanting to try to be perfect has prevented me from just deleting those reminders. I’m going to go through them this month and figure out what I want to keep, what I want to delete, and what I might want to add.

And when I’m figuring out what I want to edit and add, I have to work on being very honest with myself and not worrying about not being perfect or caring what other people think. That’s not easy for me, but that’s why this is a good challenge for me. It’s my birthday month and I want to make this an amazing month! And I think focusing on exactly what makes me happy is the perfect way to make the month the best it can be!

A Challenge For A Weird Month (or French And Deep Breaths)

Another month brings another monthly challenge! It’s crazy to think that it’s a quarter of the way through this year already. It seems like it’s been flying by so far and that March went by so much faster than I ever expected!

My monthly challenge for March was to work on learning French every day. I was using the app Duolingo which I had tried to use before and just couldn’t get into. But I decided that I was going to go all out for the month with trying to learn French and if I hated it that I wouldn’t force myself to continue doing it. I did 2 lessons each day (each lesson took less than 5 minutes) and I really did make an effort to take it seriously and work hard at it.

It wasn’t easy to learn French just through the app (that might have been my problem the first time), but I was able to get through the entire month and have continued to work on it each day. I do go back and review past lessons often and the way the app is set up they do have words that seem to be the toughest for you in each lesson to work on. Some of the stuff is hard to understand because I don’t know why things are one way versus another or the different way to use various verbs. But I am understanding much more French than ever before and I am looking into other ways to work on learning the language. Overall, I think it’s another very successful monthly challenge.

When it came to planning what my challenge for April would be, I struggled with it for a while. There are several things I would love to use as a monthly challenge, but with surgery and the recovery coming up I knew there would be a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do it each day of the month. I don’t want to set myself up for failure when I know that it might be impossible for me to do something while in the hospital or while I am restricted in what I can do.

I probably thought about this for almost all of March, but I finally thought of what I could do every single day in April that would benefit me even though it is an easy challenge.

This month is going to be a stressful month and I don’t need to do anything that will add more stress in my day-to-day life. Taking deep breaths is something I don’t do that often but when I do focus on it I notice a benefit in my day. Taking time to take some deep breaths allows me to take a moment to just focus on that and not what else is going on around me. It allows me to center myself again and then get back on track with whatever I need to be doing.

There will be a lot of things that will be benefitted by deep breaths. I’ve got my MRI coming up this week and dealing with the IV needle is always tough on me. And the time inside of the MRI machine is very stressful and I know that if I use that hour inside the machine focusing on my breathing that I won’t be thinking about how small the MRI tube is or how loud the noises are. And after my surgery I’m sure I’ll have moments of pretty bad pain and taking deep breaths can give me something else to focus on instead of waiting for painkillers to start working.

I know this is a simple monthly challenge, but I’m taking it as seriously as I have with any of the past challenges. I am taking time each day to work on deep breathing and just a few days into this month I’ve already noticed a difference. And I think knowing that I have a challenge this month that will be able to be accomplished before surgery, after surgery, and while I’m recovering has made me relax a bit because I won’t be worried about trying to get something else new done while dealing with recovery. I am hoping that I will be able to continue with all of my monthly challenges while recovering, but I also know that I have to be lenient and forgiving with myself if I can’t do it. All I can do is to stay calm, take deep breaths, and focus on being the best me possible through this entire crazy month.

Adding Gadgets To My House (or Tools To Help Me Out)

While I’m trying to cut back on my spending and bringing more things into my house, sometimes you need to break that rule to make things better. It’s a hard balance to figure out because I’m sure I can justify spending for stuff I really don’t need. So I’m trying to be very picky and making sure that it’s something that I really need and not just something that I want. But there were two gadgets that fit into that rule that I ended up buying this week.

The first thing I got was a lamination machine for my house. Usually when I need to laminate stuff, I go to Staples and pay to get it done. I normally only need one thing or one page so it never seemed worth it to me to have my own lamination machine. But my mom has had one for a while and loved it, so when I was thinking about getting stuff laminated this week I looked into buying one for myself.

I did manage to find one that was heavily discounted on Amazon that would arrive that day at my house (thanks Amazon Prime)! And it was perfect because I have been working on my meal planning and wanted to create a nice reusable meal planning guide.

The machine I got is really easy to use and it came with a bunch of the laminating pages so I don’t need to buy any for a little bit. And I have been able to use the meal planning page I created each day (although I’m still trying to figure out how I can write on this without ruining it). And it’s small enough that it fits into a shelf on my desk so it is out of the way when I am not going to be using it.

The other new gadget I got this week also has to do a bit with my challenge to work on meal planning. I’ve thought for a long time that my kitchen was perfectly set up for me to cook, but I’m aware that I set it up based on what most people need and not what I need. I’m a pretty decent cook and my knife skills are ok, but when I have to cut up a bunch of stuff I’m not so great at it. So I have been looking casually at ideas to make chopping stuff easier and decided I needed to invest in a new cooking gadget. So I went out and got the Vidalia Chop Wizard.

I got it yesterday and used it last night to cook dinner. I made meatloaf muffins and this was perfect for chopping the onions and mushrooms I use it in. It was so much easier than chopping things by hand and everything was uniform so I didn’t bit into a huge piece of onion while eating dinner. I know that this can be used for a ton of stuff and I have a feeling that I will be discovering ways to use it on a regular basis.

And besides the new stuff I bought this week, I’ve been rediscovering stuff in my kitchen to help me with my food goals. I’ve been using my slow cooker (and I found my slow cooker liners so I don’t have to do much cleanup) to make easy meals and I’ve found recipes that don’t require browning food or getting another pan dirty to make the meal (my slow cooker pet peeve). And I’ve been using my food processor regularly the last few weeks and have started to think that maybe I need to buy another food processor bowl and blade so it will be easier to use it multiple times a day.

I know that I can do a lot of the work I’ve been using these gadgets for by hand, but why should I? This is making cooking easier and seems like I could be more likely to keep things up in the long run. The only downside is that I do need to go through my kitchen now and figure out what I really want to keep and what I can give to others because my kitchen is super tiny and lacking storage space. I don’t know where to put everything just yet (there are things all over my house that could live in the kitchen if there was space), but that will be something else I need to work on with organizing my house.

But for now, I’m just so glad that I was ok spending a bit of money to try to make things better for me with figuring other things out in my life.

Time For Some Planning (or Trying A Challenge Again This Month)

It’s a new month and time for a new challenge in my Ink+Volt Planner! First, I want to reflect a bit on my January challenge. I set my challenge to be to work on tumor visualization every day. I set an alarm to remember to do this each morning and most of the time I would be able to do this before the alarm went off. Many mornings, I put my tumor visualization in my morning pages for “The Artist’s Way”. And if I didn’t write about it in the morning, I spent some time sitting quietly and thinking about my tumors getting smaller.

I won’t know if this worked until I have my next MRI in March, but I’m going to keep doing this until my surgery and then after surgery I will be doing liver visualization to work on getting my liver to regenerate quickly. I know that in the past, the power of positive thinking has worked really well for me so I’m looking forward to seeing how well it will work for me this time.

I’ll admit that my January challenge wasn’t too challenging for me. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have to work too hard to do it. So since I did something easier last month, I’m doing something that has challenged me multiple times this month. My February challenge is to work on meal planning again.

I’ve attempted meal planning more times than I can count. I’ve tried doing it with bulk cooking, delivery diet meals, meal replacements, and just trying to cook more at home. They have all had moments of success, but none of them have really lasted that long. So this time, I’m attempting another method to see if this time it will be one that sticks. I believe that eventually, a method will be the one that I connect with and I can’t find that out until I try different ones.

I’m doing a pretty basic meal plan set up. I don’t have a specific diet or plan I’m trying to follow. I’m just trying to plan my meals so I don’t have to think too hard about what I’m going to eat that day and to be better and only getting what I need at the grocery store. I found a pretty basic meal plan printable and I started using that this week.

Originally, I typed in what I was planning to eat but because things keep changing I’ve been crossing things out a lot. I’m thinking about printing a blank template, getting it laminated, and using a dry erase pen or post-its to plan so it is easier to switch things around. There is also a grocery list printable that matches this, but I’m used to writing grocery lists on envelopes (if I’m using coupons) or on scratch paper so I don’t feel the need to use a fancy grocery list.

My ultimate goal would be where I could plan things out on Sunday and do my grocery shopping for the week and be done with it. If I don’t have to go to the grocery store to find something for dinner, maybe I won’t be tempted by all the things I shouldn’t be eating. If I plan things out, I can know exactly how many of each thing I need and then I can make better grocery lists. This could potentially save me money too, but that’s not the focus right now.

My main goal with meal planning is to be successful with following the plan for at least 2 meals a day. Breakfast should be pretty easy, but I do struggle with lunch and dinner a bit. But by having a plan, I can look forward to what I will be eating that day and hopefully it will take my mind off of thinking about what I should go to the store and buy after I’m done with work. I’m also hoping that it will help me with eating a better lunch on days that I’m working out. Sometimes, I don’t make the best food choices on workout days and my workouts do suffer because of that.

I’m not expecting a miracle. I know that there will be a lot of challenges with this and that there is potential that I will not be as successful as I like to be with my monthly challenges. But I have to try because I know that I need to make a change in my life to get into recovery and to lose weight. And if nothing else, this will force me to be more aware and a more conscious participant in my food choices and help to limit the lack of mindfulness that I do struggle with.

This won’t be an easy challenge for me to do, but it’s an important one for me. I’m going to do my best to plan and to figure out the best way for me to do the planning, and hopefully in a month I’ll be able to share with you all that this worked really well for me!

My First 2017 Monthly Challenge (or Working On My Tumors)

It’s a new year and I’ve got a new year of monthly challenges! I did buy the Volt Planner for 2017 and I’m very happy that it’s a similar set up to what the 2016 planner was like. There are still the weekly and monthly goal setting pages as well as the monthly challenges. And I plan on doing a new monthly challenge each month just like I did last year!

I think that having the goals and challenges really did help to keep me accountable and focused on doing things to better myself. It’s one thing to say that I’ll be doing something, but to have a list in a planner where I can see what I set out to do is another. Having it on paper makes me want to make sure I don’t slack because I hate to see unchecked boxes on my goals and challenges pages in the planner. It’s the perfectionist in me that makes me want to get something done if I write it down in a planner.

I’ll admit that January 1st got here much quicker than expected so I didn’t have as much time dedicated to planning out my challenge for the month as I would have liked. There are some big ideas for challenges that I have for this year, but some of them involve planning or setting things in place that I didn’t have time to do for this month. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some of my big ideas later this year, but it will have to wait. But there was one thing that I started doing at the end of the year that I knew I wanted to continue to do this year and dedicate time to working on it.

While I know that I will need to have liver surgery no matter what, there are things that I can do to hope that the surgery and recovery will be easier. And one of those things is to have the tumors shrink. There is no medical way that I can do this (they aren’t cancerous tumors so I don’t need chemo or radiation to shrink them), but I can still work on doing it on my own. I’m a believer in the power of positive thinking and I’ve been trying to think that my tumors are shrinking every day.

My mom did the same thing when she had cancer, and her journey to being cancer free went much easier than most people thought it would be. She imagined her body healing every single night and I believe that doing that helped her so much. So I’m doing the same with my tumors. I had been doing this before the new year, but I still decided to make it my monthly challenge to make sure that I do this every day.

Like most of my challenges, I’m using the reminder app on my phone to alert myself every day to dedicate time to doing this. I’m not using my mediation app for this, but I’m thinking about doing that because there is a silent timed mediation option within the app. But for now, I’m just focusing on how I imagine the tumors getting smaller for a few minutes every single day.

It’s not a huge thing for me to do, but I know that doing it will only benefit me in the long run. And making sure that I do dedicate time every day for this will help me not to slack off and forget. I really do love having all the reminders in my phone going off throughout the day so I don’t zone out and then realize the entire day has gone by without me getting anything done. I feel silly that I hadn’t been taking advantage of those prior to the monthly challenges because they are so easy to set up. But at least now I have them and I am always adding more to my reminder list.

While this challenge is a smaller one, I’m really excited to have another full year of these challenges. From the ones that I set up last year, most of them are still things that I do every single day. I have slacked off on a few (mainly the yoga and mindfulness before eating ones but I’m working on that), but most of them have become habits and my day doesn’t feel complete until I accomplish them. And I know that building a few new good habits every year will add up and be something really great for me for the rest of my life.

Here’s to another year of monthly challenges and hopefully using my mind to get my tumors to shrink before my next MRI and we make my surgery plan!