I can’t believe it — two weeks from tomorrow my kids leave to spend the summer at their dad’s. This year is a third of the way over already and it still feels like it just began. The days are flying from the calendar like dust in the wind, and I can’t catch them in my hand. I’ve been craving some calm and downtime lately, because busyness took over my life last month and is the main reason for the rush of those days into my past. I feel like the time is leaping behind me, but I haven’t necessarily accomplished a lot of the things I wanted to.
The busyness has been quite a bit of obligatory things, coupled with some ongoing struggles that are interfering with my energy level and ability to do some of the things I want to do. Now that things are finally beginning to wind down — no more kids to cart around to school and religion classes and band concerts; no class assignments and papers and final exams; no work trips or party planning (except for one at my house next week that I’m super excited about!) — I can finally exhale, relax my shoulders, put up my feet, and assess my progress into 2019.
I shared the trials and tribulations of 2018, as well as my plans for 2019, in my post My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring, and now it’s time to check and see how well I’ve upheld the promises I made to myself. Here goes…
Goal #1 – Get my sleep under control
On a scale of 1 to 10? This one gets a 3. The only thing keeping it from the bottom of the barrel is the fact that my sleep was actually improving during January and February. I was making good progress — until the busyness began in March, I slacked off on what I was doing mostly due to not having the time I needed to stick to my plans, and the insomnia came back just as strong as ever.
I stopped meditating. I’ve been missing as many workouts as I’m actually getting in. I haven’t been taking time to unwind before bed, or consistently going to bed at the same time. I feel like I’m going 100 miles a minute, then trying to shut down and go right to sleep, and it’s not working. I have recently been falling asleep easier than I was before, but I’m still struggling with the early waking that just doesn’t seem to want to give up.
I did some deeper research this week on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia and have decided I need to stop going to bed an hour early to try to compensate for the hour it was taking me to fall asleep. The idea is to train my body to wake at the time I schedule for myself each morning, and part of the process is raising my sleep efficiency score. Which is basically the number of hours spent asleep divided by the number of hours you spend in bed. So I’m going to bed at 9 and getting up at 6, but actually sleeping from 10 until 5, or sometimes 4. Which means I’m typically in bed for nine hours, but only sleeping six to seven. I’m taking the average of 6.5, divided by 9, which is an efficiency score of 72%. And that number ideally should be 85% or higher.
So…I’m going to push my bedtime back to 10, and get up at 6, which means even if I still only sleep 6.5 hours, my efficiency rises to 81%…much closer! The main idea here is to train your mind to see your bed only as a place to sleep, not to be awake. So laying in bed for an hour before I go to sleep, then continuing to lay in bed awake for an hour or two before I get up with the alarm, is training my brain to see my bed as a place of wakefulness. And to break that association I need to stay out of bed unless I’m sleeping. Which means not going to bed an hour early, and if I wake up at 4am and am not back asleep within 20 minutes, I leave the room and do something quiet and peaceful until I’m tired enough to fall back asleep — my plan is to go to the living room and meditate.
This is new stuff I haven’t tried before, so here’s to hoping I see some progress! I’m also going to spend my last hour before bed doing things that are relaxing — no screen time or stimulating activities. Soaking in the tub, meditating, yoga, reading, keeping the lights low, etc. My fingers are crossed that this makes a difference!
Goal #2 – Yoga
On this I can rate myself a 7. I’ve not been doing it as often as I’d like in the last month, because as I mentioned before I’ve been missing a lot of workouts. But even if I don’t have time to get a walk in, I still try to do at least abs and yoga since I can squeeze those in on my lunch break if I have to. I’ve definitely dropped the ball on meditation, but I’ve stuck with the yoga. If I was consistently doing it four times per week like I planned, I would give myself a 10. Instead it’s been more like once or twice per week. I definitely need to make more time for it, because four months in my hamstrings are still just as tight as they’ve ever been!
Goal #3 – Explorative Cooking
On this one, I give myself a resounding 10! I didn’t have as much time for it in April, but I’ve still been saving and creating recipes, planning meals and Mediterranean Monday posts, baking and creating for parties, and party planning for friends and family. I think my favorite so far were the steak and bleu cheese tacos I made around the first of April, and I’m super excited about a couple of new taco recipes I’m trying next week at the friend’s dinner at my house I’m calling Fiesta Friday!
I feel like my list of foods to try keeps growing, and I could probably cook every day for a month and still not cover them all. I’m still just as excited for all of them as I was when I started this year, and I don’t think it’s possible to get burned out on it. I love to cook, I love to create, and I love to feed the people I love!
Goal #4 – Fun & Discovery
Specifically my goal was to try new things, go new places, meet new people, and learn new things. My friends and I have a long list of places we want to go this year and events to attend, and we’re slowly checking them off. On top of that, I’ve been getting out of the house, even if I’m by myself, and spending time out and about where I can actually meet people, and experience and try new things. 2019 has been a great year for both fun and discovery so far, including some unexpected ways that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t set this goal for myself this year.
If you read my last post, then you know I met someone at Beer:30 on April 4th. And I’ve been spending every day since getting to know him more and finding out how shockingly in sync we are in just about every way. We’re both a little in awe at how many similarities and parallels we have, and we’ve not found one single red flag or deal breaker in each other…not one! I’m still feeling a bit of that element of surprise, because I truly didn’t think it could be this easy or comfortable to just “fit” with someone. But we really enjoy spending time together, there is absolutely no pressure, and we’re perfectly satisfied with the pace and natural rhythm we’ve fallen into. To ease your curiosity…here is our first (and so far only) selfie:
And since I know he’s reading this because he subscribed to my blog:
Hi Michael! I want you to know that I appreciate you and all the smiles you’ve put on my face over the last month. You make me feel safe and secure, and always give me something to look forward to. You’re the best and I’m so grateful to have met you on that fluke April event that both of us almost didn’t attend!
Goal #5 – Passion
This one was related specifically to my deepest passion – writing! I have a goal to start writing a book this year, which I’ve done, but have to admit I’ve not dedicated enough time to and am not nearly as far into as I’d like to be. Once the peacefulness of summer enters my life I anticipate getting quite a bit more accomplished on this. As for my blogging – even while busy I’ve managed to stay pretty well on schedule with this. There were a couple of weeks in April where I may have only gotten one post out instead of two, but I didn’t let it stop altogether and I’m pretty proud of myself for that.
I have, however, slacked off on Instagram. I use that platform as a companion to my blog, but I’ve slipped on taking photos, and the photos I have taken I have yet to get edited, so my posts have fallen off over the last month. Which means that is what I need to focus on now that the busyness is behind me. I actually have a few blog posts in the works that are on hold only because I haven’t found the time to take the photos to go with them!
Goal #6 – Read 36 Books
This one I don’t think I actually put in my 2018 year-end post, but it is a goal I set for myself. Last year my goal was 24 books and I blew it out of the water, so this year I bumped it up by one book per month. We just ended the fourth month of the year, and I’ve read 12 books, am in the middle of the 13th, and have number 14 on deck. I also split the books out into “just for fun” reads, and literary reads. Here’s the list so far:
Just for Fun:
- Robin by David Itzkoff – this was a biography about Robin Williams that I loved!
- Witness: Lessons from Elie Wiesel’s Classroom by Ariel Burger – a biography about Elie Wiesel that I also really enjoyed, and now have Wiesel’s Holocaust memoir Night on my wait list with the library.
- Regine’s Book: A Teen Girl’s Last Words by Regine Stokke – this one was for research for writing my own book, about a girl who died of leukemia.
- Passing by Nella Larsen – a short novel I read for class.
- The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins – if you haven’t heard of Mel Robbins, look her up. She’s a fantastic motivational speaker and I love her stuff!
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – the biography that inspired the movie.
- Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (more of a long essay than a book, but I digress)
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
- Walden by Henry David Thoreau (I promise there isn’t a Henry theme here!)
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin – I now officially love Kate Chopin, and I had to order a sticker and have a shirt made after reading this with quotes from the short novel.
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys – written as a prequel to Jane Eyre, which I am now currently reading and already love.
- Giovanni’s Room – this one was for class, but it’s a classic by James Baldwin. And it’s definitely an eye-opener to another world.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – this one is still in process; I’m about halfway through it and I am loving it so far. I’m also a little sad that the English language has fallen so far since the 19th century.
- On deck – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; because if you’re going to read one Bronte sister, you may as well read the other one too!
Goal #7 – Stop People Pleasing
This one has been surprisingly easy for me. It goes back to just being true to myself. If it’s something I really don’t want to do, then I say no. And the only opinions I’m concerned with are my own and those of the friends and family closest to me who I know have my best interests at heart. I don’t worry myself at all with what anyone outside of my circle may think of anything that I do. Talk about an anxiety reducer and a stress reliever!
Lastly — I’ve gotten much better about speaking up for myself. In fact, I’ve put it into practice so much that it’s almost become second nature. Honesty is always the best policy, and usually much more good comes from being open and upfront than from holding back out of fear. I feel like, from a self-discovery perspective, this was my last hurdle in a decade-long process of overcoming anxiety, depression, divorce, single-parenting stress, and bad dating experiences.
I think I’m doing pretty well at meeting my goals for this year. I know I need to improve on getting my workouts in, and work harder at conquering my insomnia. With things calming down for me, I think in another four months I will have made quite a bit of progress on those two things as well. So stay tuned for future updates…