Category Archives: Life

Ten minutes

ten minutes

I am stressed.

But the funny thing is, I don’t feel stressed. Not in my mind, I mean. And that, apparently, isn’t such a good thing. Because my body, unable to signal to me that maybe it’s time to slow down, let go, and indulge in self-care, has to find other ways to tell me I’m stressed.

Last month, I went to see my doctor because I’d started feeling tingling and numbness in my hands, arms, legs, and feet. (Checking these symptoms online wasn’t such a great idea, as you all probably already know.)

My doctor listened patiently as I described my symptoms. Then she told me I didn’t have to worry about the worse-case scenarios. And then she asked me, “Have you been stressed lately?”

I thought about it. “No,” I said, shaking my head.

But even though I didn’t feel like I was experiencing stress, she said my symptoms were most likely the product of stress.

My body, she explained, reacts physiologically to stress.

It’s true, and it’s something I’m just now getting around to accepting. And my main problem? I don’t actually know I’m experiencing stress, not in my mind anyway. An example? When my doctor asked me if I had been feeling stressed lately, I told her no.

And yet … both my cats were ill and my mother had just broken her hip.

I felt exhausted, yes, but other than that, I didn’t think I was stressed. So obviously my body has become adept at signalling my stress in other ways.

This causes some problems. How can I let go of my stress when I don’t actually feel like I’m stressed? I don’t have problems sleeping and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the stressors in my life right now.

I could go the medication route. But I’d rather find alternate, natural ways to relieve this stress that my mind doesn’t feel but my body does. After doing some research into this, I’ve decided to try the following things:

Exercise. Exercise seems to be on every list of ways to destress. I haven’t exercised since last fall, and I’m obviously feeling it. Feeling it so much, when I walk anywhere these days I get all these “glad sensations”. My feet want to take off, go faster. My body says, yay, motion!

Ti of Book Chatter and I have been talking about making small, healthy changes, starting today, May 1. I’m always biting off more than I can chew, so small changes are a good fit for me. Ten minutes. That’s what I’m starting with. Ten minutes of exercise a day.

Meditation. It’s quite telling, but I’ve not been meditating for a couple of months now. And when I try to meditate, my mind goes crazy. An avalanche of thoughts. Nothing earth shattering though. Mostly mundane things, like what I’m going to eat for lunch. When will they turn on the air conditioning? My goodness, it’s hot in here this morning. But I do like the sunshine. On and on it goes.

So I’m going to go back to a tried and true method that’s helped me with my meditation in the past. I have several Brain Sync meditations. They’re supposed to be a scientific way to help you get into the meditative state. I don’t know about that, but I do know they’ve always worked for me. So, ten minutes. My month of small changes—ten minutes of meditating with Brain Sync every day.

Morning Pages. The book-reading demon has this theory about my stress. He thinks I’m not allowing myself to feel my real feelings because they’re not what I’m supposed to be feeling. I think he has a point there. I used to do morning pages—three pages of stream of conscious writing, quite literally a brain dump. They were my daily ritual, and I’d gotten to the point where writing those pages became my happy place. For eight years, I literally would not do anything until I’d done my pages. And then I stopped doing them because they’d gotten me to a place where I felt quite good most of the time and I didn’t need them any more.

But happiness and feeling good are ways of living that need to be maintained. I obviously need some sort of practice that will get me there and keep me there. And a daily brain dump will perhaps let those feelings I’m not aware I’m feeling flow out of me, onto the pages of my notebook.

Again, ten minutes. (Although I’ll probably revert to habit and do three pages.) Ten minutes isn’t a lot of time. These changes won’t work for me if I feel like they’re a burden, or I don’t have enough time to do them. I can’t resist “ten minutes” because it’s only ten minutes, after all.

So that’s my list. Do you have any tips on destressing? I’ll gladly add to this list because this whole body reacting to stress thing has got to change!

Wednesday Inspiration: Bringing more joy into your life

This will be a shorter Wednesday inspiration post; unfortunately, when things get busy, I forget about things like being inspired. Which is not ideal, because I think it’s when I’m busy that I need that inspiration the most!

Today’s post is about bringing more joy into your life. Mainly because I have this feeling I should be focusing more on doing this. Joyfulness is another thing that can sometimes be lost in the chaos of busyness.

So I was quite happy the other day to read about these 10 unusual routines that will bring joy to your life. As with most lists of this type, not everything on it resonates on me, but there are definitely some things I think I’ll try out.

Like #3:

Give yourself permission to buy any book you want at any time – it’s an investment in you. Now read them.

Mind you, I already do this. But it’s nice to see it make it to a list about bringing joy into your life!

#7 also sounds interesting:

Write down your thoughts for 10 minutes a day – it helps you formulate cohesive thoughts.

But this probably interests me mainly because it sounds like journaling. Which I still have not been able to do consistently, no matter how often I try.

I also liked the ones about writing a note on a napkin with a large tip, and creating uninterruptible routines for the first hour of the day. Will I ever do these? Well, I might leave a large tip, but I’m not so sure about writing a note to go with it! As for my morning routine, I’m still working on mine.

What about you? Do you do anything on this list? Any suggestions for being more joyful?

Snapshot: April 28, 2015

Time: 9:47 pm

Feeling: Tired. It’s been tough juggling daily visits to see my mom in the rehab facility where she’s staying and all the regular every day things I normally do. And the end result seems to be tiredness. It’s not even 10:00 yet and honestly, the night owl me is nowhere in sight. I could pop into bed right now and drift off to a blissful sleep! But I’ve got a deadline coming up on Thursday, so no early bedtime for me, unfortunately.

I’ve been in a frazzled-but-don’t-know-I’m-frazzled state, more or less. I realized this today, when I got back from taking Dylan to dance and realized I didn’t make the bed this morning. You know how there are some things you just automatically do, out of habit, like brushing your teeth, or taking off/putting on your contacts? Making the bed right after I brush my teeth is one of my habit things, and I don’t think I’ve forgotten to do so for years. Until today.

Eating: A falafel dinner I picked up from a place downstairs when Dylan and I got back from his dance class. It’s so lovely having a number of places close by where I can pick up food for dinner.

Drinking: I had a glass of wine with my dinner. It was good!

Reading: I’m reading Lowcountry Boneyard, by Susan M. Boyer, for an upcoming blog tour. I’m liking it so far—a nice southern mystery, complete with a ghost (or guardian spirit, as she calls herself) to help (or hinder, depending on your point of view) our detective.

I also managed to get through more of Dune, although not enough, unfortunately, to participate much in last night’s Twitter chat for the readalong. I’m hoping I’ll be able to make the next Twitter chat but my goodness, Dune is a chunkster at over 800 pages (if you count the appendices). I figure I’ll just a read a bit at a time and see how it goes.

Listening: I finished Unleashed, an Andy Carpenter mystery by David Rosenfelt, and started started Dog Tags, an earlier book in the series. They’re fun, relaxing easy listening reads. I’m waiting for Hounded, the most recent in the series, from the library and once I’ve listened to that, I’ll have read them all so far.

Writing: No writing to speak of. But I got this fun idea today, which was nice.

Working: Finishing up an index on planning law (yes, my life is so very exciting). I’m also doing orientation later this week for that book marketing position I mentioned a while back. I’m hoping to post about it soon, once I settle into the work.

Curious about: There’s this Japanese cheesecake place on Bay St. near Dundas in Toronto that opened a few months ago and I really really want to find a moment to check it out. Only I’ll need more than a moment. Even when we were in deep freeze, there was always a long line-up outside the place.

Here’s what the line-up looked like this afternoon when we passed by:

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See the pink sign? That’s where they’re all headed. Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake.

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It must be really good cheesecake!

Walking Around While Reading

During the Readathon, someone tweeted about doing some reading while walking around, to gain some energy and beat back sleepiness (I’m not sure who it was—I tweeted so much during the Readathon there are too many tweets to check!).

Since I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting into healthier habits, I found this idea of walking around when you’re reading sticking with me. It makes a lot of sense, because I’m the kind of person who likes to walk around the place when I’m talking on the phone.

Of course it’s not something you can really do all that well when you’re outside, but inside is a whole different story, right?

So tonight I put the idea to the test—and it works! The first Dune readalong Twitter chat is happening tonight and I wanted to get a few more pages read so I can hopefully participate (but I’m not sure if I’ve read enough yet).

Dune_Herbert

I was able to read about twenty pages while walking back and forth from my office through the ilving room to the kitchen (this is an open concept place, which made it even easier).

The best thing? Before I gave it a try, I was sitting on the sofa reading, and feeling quite tired. But now? I actually feel refreshed!

I should probably get a Fitbit and track how much time I spend walking around while reading …

Do you walk or do other exercise when you’re reading a book? Have any tips for me?

Wednesday Inspiration: Healthy living

This post* isn’t so much about creative inspiration as it is about life inspiration. One thing that’s become really clear to me over the past few days is how important being active, eating well and generally having a healthy lifestyle is, especially as you get older.

I’ve been just so inspired by my mom’s recovery from her hip surgery. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about how difficult hip surgeries can be when one is older, but so far my mom’s been doing really well. She did have to have a blood transfusion because she lost a lot of blood during the surgery, and her blood pressure also dropped a little too low for a while there, but other than that there haven’t been any problems. She looked great when I saw her today, animated and lively like usual.

She’s a very active individual, has a busy life doing things she loves (which includes a lot of human rights activism, including protests!), is very interested in healthy eating and meditates daily. And I think all this is playing an important role in her recovery.

I should be eating this more often

I should be eating this more often

I want to be doing all these things when I get to her age. Which really means I should be doing all these things now, because they’re the kind of life habits you don’t build in a day (or even a few months—it’s more like years, right?). And honestly, right now I am way less active than my mom was before she broke her hip, and I definitely don’t eat as healthily as she does.

So I figure, now’s probably a good time to start. I haven’t been meditating regularly for at least a month, the last time I worked out was … well, let’s just say it wasn’t actually any time in this current year! And I was eating well when I was low-carb, but definitely don’t eat as well now. As for the busy life doing what I love, well, I’ve got the busy life down pat, but the doing what I love part? Working on that!

It’s probably a good thing I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. I can definitely use help in setting up some good lifestyle habits!

*I know today isn’t Wednesday, but I wrote this post yesterday and it was supposed to post–and it didn’t!

Snapshot: April 21, 2015

Feeling: Really tired. I don’t feel stressed about my mom being in the hospital after hip surgery, but my body is telling me I must be. The past two days I’ve been so tired when I get home from the hospital, I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times now in the late afternoon.

Health update: That said, my mom’s doing great! Today was the second day after her surgery, and she managed to walk, supported, about six or seven feet, from her bed to the door to her room. They’re looking for a bed in a rehab facility for her; she’ll be able to get daily physio there after her discharge, which will hopefully be in two or three days.

As for the cats, Hobbes is definitely a lot better—he’s his usual naughty self, and it’s been really delightful to see. Poor Creeper, on the other hand, is miserable and spends his time hiding under the bed and in the closet. All the while sneezing.

Reading:

better than before

I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. It’s the kind of read where I’ll probably be jotting down notes quite frequently. She starts off by listing the Four Tendencies, certain categories people fall into (Upholder, Questioner, Rebel and Obliger), although I’m not so sure it’s so cut and dried. I find myself falling into at least three of these categories. Still, I like her premise that different people require different approaches to forming habits—that makes a lot of sense to me.

Listening: Still listening to Jonathan Kellerman’s Motive. I’m not sure if this is new, or if it’s just something I’d never really noticed before, but Alex sure likes to tell Milo how to do his job—he does this all the time—and Milo always accepts his advice.

A shortish Snapshot this week. I’m just so tired I’m not too sure what I’m writing!

Some Sunday Random

I missed posting yesterday but with good reason—my mother fell while running for the bus and ended up fracturing her hip. I spent the evening at the hospital and this morning she went into surgery.

Fortunately my mother is very healthy; she’s physically active, meditates regularly and has an extremely busy schedule most days. She broke the ball in the joint of her hip, so that’s all they’re replacing—it’s not a full hip replacement. They expect her to be able to put some weight on it by tomorrow, so it sounds like recovery time should be fairly quick.

I think the hardest part of the process will be keeping her in bed to fully recuperate. She asked the orthopaedic surgeon if she’d be able to walk again. He said, “Of course.” So then she asked him, “What about running? Will I be able to run?” He looked at her and said, “Were you running before?” and she said, “Of course I was.”

Update: My mom’s doing well after the surgery, still a little sleepy but looking good. Thanks everyone, for all the well wishes!

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We’re also dealing with sick kitties too. Poor Hobbes went from his seasonal allergy which was causing him to scratch himself bloody to an upper respiratory inspection which is likely to be feline herpes syndrome. It’s quite a common condition in cats—many of them get the virus when they’re kittens and it tends to manifest when they’re stressed, which Hobbes has definitely been lately. The treatment consists of dosing him with the amino acid lysine.

We were hoping Creeper would be fine, but his eyes started running yesterday and today he sneezed a few times. So he’s on the lysine too—much easier with him as he’s the one who’s the big eater around here.

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So there’s going to be lots of recuperation going on around here! That’s been my weekend so far. How is your weekend going?

Snapshot: April 14, 2015

Time: 3:44 pm

Feeling: Hot! It’s double digits out there today, which means it’s really hot inside (we’re in a condo apartment where all outside walls are windows).

Planning: I’m really pleased to report I’ve finally found a planner system that seems to be working for me. I ended up designing my own planner page using a spreadsheet. It’s great—has a time log/scheduling area that tracks from 6:00 am (not that I’ll ever get up that early but I can dream, right?) until 1:30 am. I could have made it go even later, but I’m trying to get to bed a little earlier so I’ve decided 1:30 am will be the latest (but I can change this if it doesn’t work—that’s the beauty of using your own planner template).

Planner.jpgMy planner, with printouts inside

Right now I’m using a combo time tracking/time scheduling technique that’s working really well for me. I only schedule in actual appointments but using the Passion Planner’s weekly pages I map out everything I want to accomplish each day which has made a huge difference. I can’t believe I never did this before. I would just keep everything in my head and while it worked in that I was never late meeting deadlines, it was also really stressful.

And now I am so aware of how much time I have each day to accomplish what needs to be done. Since the deadlines are now easy at the moment, it turns out I have a lot more time each day to work on my own personal things, like my writing, than I realized.

Reading: I’m currently reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The first few pages took some getting used to, but it’s not as tough going as I’d expected. I’m also reading Good Omens which I’m really enjoying. Not that these are two books you can compare, as it would be like comparing apples and oranges. But if I had to pick one, I know which I’d pick!

Listening: I have two audiobooks on the go right now. I’m about a third of the way through David Rosenfelt’s Leader of the Pack, the tenth book in the Andy Carpenter series. It’s a fun, light read. I started this series in audio last year and have been slowly but surely working my way through them.

I’m also listening to Motive, the latest in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman. It’s been a long time since I last read an Alex Delaware book in print form. I think I’ve listened to the audio versions since around book 14 or 15. I really enjoy John Rubinstein’s narration, particularly the way he does Milo’s voice. I always know it’s Milo!

Writing: I’m struggling with the revisions for Waverley. It’s just overwhelming how much work needs to be done. At times I feel like I haven’t really told the story I want to tell. I started a writing journal yesterday and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use it to tackle the revisions.

Working: My deadlines are nice and steady both this week and next. I’m now consulting my planner for everything and seeing where a potential deadline might cause stress. When I see this happening, before I say yes I’ll talk with the editors about setting a different deadline and they usually have no problems, so that’s been good.

Creating: I got my first colouring book for adults! Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book arrived the other day. I couldn’t resist going out to Staples and stocking up on some supplies:

markers.jpg

Looking forward to: I’ve got a lunch date with my older son tomorrow, shopping with my daughter on Friday and lunch with two of my friends on Sunday. My social calendar isn’t usually that full!

Snapshot: April 7, 2015

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Feeling: Itchy. Itchy. And more itchy.

Itchy It actually started last week, right around the time I got the stomach flu. Just my upper back. Since then, it’s spread to my lower back, my front, my arms, my legs. I went to see the doctor about it this morning (actually, it was a resident plus her supervising doctor, as I couldn’t get in to see my own doctor on such short notice). Since I haven’t made any changes to my environment lately—no new detergent or skin products, no new foods—they think it might be a virus. Either related to the stomach flu virus I had last week, or a new, different virus.

I didn’t know there were viruses out there whose sole purpose is to make you itchy! You learn something new everyday. In the meantime, I’m armed with steroid cream, non-drowsy allergy pills, Benadryl for tonight, and Vicks VapoRub, which the doctor recommended for when the itchiness gets really bad. Something about the menthol can reduce the itchiness, she said. I just had to resort to it a few minutes ago, and it actually seems to be working!

Eating: The book-reading demon made some chickpea burgers from the Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks and they were seriously good. I swear, we’ve been more or less living from this cookbook for the past month and everything we’ve tried so far has been delicious.

Reading: I’m in a bit of a reading lull right now when it comes to print and ebooks. I did start Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) and was a little surprised at how funny it was right from the start. Often funny novels take a while to kind of get into that humorous rhythm, but Gaiman and Pratchett hit the sweet spot right off the bat.

And I’ve also just started S.J. Bolton’s most recent Lacey Flint novel, A Dark and Twisted Tide. But despite both these novels being interesting reads, I’ve not been feeling in the mood for a whole lot of reading the past few days.

Listening: Listening, on the other hand—well, I’ve been listening up a storm!

Working Stiff

I am nearly at the end of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell. So interesting, and I’m really enjoying the narration, too.

I’m also about midway into a re-listen of Cat Among the Pigeons. My audio version is narrated by Hugh Fraser, who’s my favourite Agatha Christie narrator. Even though Poirot doesn’t come into the story until fairly late in the novel, this is one of my favourite Poirot mysteries. It’s got everything in it: spies, Middle Eastern royalty, a boarding school, an undercover police officer, and, of course, a nice mystery that Poirot solves as adroitly as usual. And I love the ending.

And finally, I’ve just started The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth von Amim, which has been on my TBR for ages now. Kind of timely, seeing as it’s April right now …

Writing: Nothing yet, but there’s the short story I’m supposed to be working on for this week. I posted the prompts I’m working with yesterday. I’m also thinking of starting up a Writing Journal on Scrivener to help me get back into a daily writing habit.

Working: I finished a bunch of articles over the weekend and I finally got my freelance writing and social media site up: Index & Ink Media. I had to get something up and running because I’ve got a couple of articles which will hopefully be publishing soon on a biggish site, and I wanted to be able to link to my work site in my bio rather than this blog, since the articles are business-oriented and have nothing to do with books or reading.

There’s nothing like that kind of a self-imposed deadline to motivate me (I’ve been meaning to get the site live for over a year now). It’s still very much a work in progress—I wrote the copy at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday night (Monday morning, I guess), so it’s not the greatest, but at least it’s live! I’m still working on the Twitter account for the site. So far I have one set up, but it’s still got an egghead as its avatar, no bio and three followers (I have no clue who they are). Be warned—I’m going to be hitting you all up to follow me on there once I have everything set up and am tweeting with it regularly. It will be mostly social media links so hopefully you’ll find it useful.

I’ve also got a human geography index due later this week, and I might also be getting a rush index, on communications.  Did you know there’s such a thing as a rush index? There is. Usually it means someone somewhere along the way has dropped the ball in some way and the schedule’s all out of whack as a result. But you didn’t hear that from me.

Creating: Nothing. And I missed Trish’s Inspiration Monday! Hopefully I’ll be able to make the next one, which I think will be up in two weeks.

Looking forward to: The itchiness going away …

The rest of today: Work and then Dylan’s hip hop class. I’m hoping to get a lot done before we have to leave for the dance class.

Snapshot: March 31, 2015

Time: 12:54 a.m.

Feeling: Tired. The book-reading demon had a stomach flu bug on Friday night. Dylan got it on Sunday. With the deadlines I’ve got this week, this is definitely NOT the time for me to come down with stomach flu. (Not that there’s ever any good time for it, but you know what I mean, right?)

Eating: The book-reading demon made the pork meatballs banh mi recipe from the Eat St. cookbook and they were really tasty. So today he tried it with ground chicken rather than ground pork. Unfortunately, the texture’s not quite there. Our next experiment? (Don’t you just love how I say “our next experiment” when really, he’s going to do the cooking, I just come up with the ideas?) A half ground pork-half-ground chicken combo.

Drinking: I had my wine, so now I’m having some milk kefir. Hoping the probiotics will keep the stomach flu bugs at bay.

Reading: I’d like to finish S.J. Bolton’s Like This, For Ever, just so I can add it to my “books read in March list” (I know, I know. But sometimes I need that carrot.)

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I probably won’t be able to do very much reading the rest of this week. I’m thinking I might try to dip into a comic or two when I have a free moment.

Listening: I just finished listening to Veronica Mars: The Ten Thousand Dollar Tan Line today. It was good! So good, I want to listen to the next one, Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell, right now. Only I don’t have it, so I guess that won’t happen, not this week anyway. I’ve put a hold on it at the library, so hopefully it will come through soon.

Writing: Nothing. Sigh.

Working: Just finished up an indexing deadline. Possibly have another one index due later this week, only I don’t have all the chapters so it may be delayed. Finished one article for Monday, and have another one due this Friday.

Discoveries: It’s been a while since I used my standing desk set-up. I stood the entire day today while I was finishing up the index that’s due tomorrow and OMG, my legs are just killing me. I feel like I’ve been exercising non-stop. Which is probably a good sign, right? Surely it means all this standing is giving my leg muscles a workout?

Looking forward to: Not getting the stomach flu. Haha! (Hope I didn’t just jinx myself …)