January Goal List

Each month I sit down and make a list of goals for the next thirty days. It’s usually seven to ten things ranging from easy to nearly unattainable and a few are even fun.

For example, January’s list included my reading goal (fun), packing up the Christmas decorations from the back porch (easy) and taming my craft room into something both presentable and functional (not in a million years).

I unearthed the January list on February 7, while cleaning out my work bag. That was the same day I realized that I hadn’t accomplished a darn thing out of the ten goals except my reading goal. I would like to say that I don’t know how I spent my time in January but it clearly involved books.

What’s worse is that I didn’t even try. I didn’t even look at the list or know where it was.

I also realized I was a week into a new month and hadn’t even thought to set new goals.

Some of that stuff got transferred to the February list. My current goal is to pack up the porch Christmas and put it away by Saturday. Note that it’s now Friday and still not done. Never fear, there’s time.

There was a time I was organized, energetic and motivated. I had lists to keep track of all my lists and getting things done wasn’t really a problem. The last few years have more or less beaten that out of me. My thyroid has left me tired, my brain in a fog and my attention span short. Whatever energy exists within me gets allocated to my workday right now. I mostly keep with with this blog, look after the cat and try to do whatever else I can.

For the last few nights I have been playing beat the clock. Last night I set a timer for fifteen minutes and did a quick clean of the kitchen. When it went off, I hit repeat and kept going. Once I was satisfied with that room, I repeated the process in my craft room and actually made some progress.

You can do anything for fifteen minutes. The trick is continuing when the alarm buzzes. The vitamin commercial tells us that a body in motion stays in motion and that is absolutely true. Getting started is the hard part but, once you do, it’s relatively easy to keep going.

If you don’t like the idea of alarms, try saying you have to stay busy during a podcast or a favorite album. Just set some parameters to signal that your job isn’t done until there’s an alarm or the end of an episode.

Tonight’s plan is to not sit down after work. Instead, I would like to tackle some of those goals and maybe a little regular cleaning – working in fifteen minute intervals, of course!

Around here

It’s a three day weekend for me so today marks the halfway point rather than the end of the weekend.

I’ve accomplished some things this weekend and failed miserably at others.

Yesterday featured some cleaning projects. This was a requirement because the house was littered with cat toys and things that little Scout had knocked on the floor. Johnny Cash sang about killing a man in Reno just to watch him die. Scout knocks things over just to watch them fall.

But my work ethic didn’t last long. It was raining and cold so I ended up in a comfy chair, determined to finish this book so I could move on to some less traumatic material.

This book is graphic, emotional and compelling. The author expertly weaves the story of Emmett Till into the context of the Jim Crow south to create a narrative that’s impossible to put down and hard to stomach all at the same time.

How anyone could be so hateful, so intolerant or so so certain of their superiority over another group of humans is beyond me. And yet, it relates closely to a lot of the sentiments we hear today in this country about immigrants and still about African Americans.

Around here, I’m also doing some cooking this weekend. Today I’ll make a bean and veggie soup, pancakes for the freezer and some granola for the pantry. Yesterday I adapted an internet veggie burger recipe to meet my needs and to use up some odds and ends of leftovers in the fridge.

It was far better than store bought veggie burgers and I know exactly what went into the mix. Interested? Here’s the recipe:

Brandi’s Quick Break From Reading To Make Dinner Veggie Burger

1 can pinto or black beans (drained and well rinsed)

3 Tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat but use what you have)

1/2 cup cooked vegetables – I didn’t cook mine but ran them through the food processor so they were finely chopped. Mine were onions, carrots, corn, spinach and mushrooms

Run the beans through the food processor and mix well with the other ingredients. Shape into patties and place on parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for nine minutes on each side or until a bit crisp.

This is an extremely forgiving recipe because it’s designed to use up what you have. Don’t have tomato paste? Use ketchup or maybe some salsa! Whatever veggies you have will do. Want to add a favorite seasoning? Go for it. Can’t eat them all right now? Freeze them.

It really is easy. My apologies for having no photo to share.

Instead, I will leave you with this image. I dared to move Scout’s tent from the kitchen to make mopping the floor a little easier. Here’s the aftermath. It seems there was some kind of riot.

Here’s hoping today is a good day for us all and that I make it back to the list of things I failed miserably at today!

Self Care Sunday

I protect my free time on Sundays the same way a mama bear protects her cubs. If I agree to do something on a Sunday, it must be really important or I must really like the person who invited me.

The phrase “self care” sounds self indulgent but I’m not lazing around in a bubble bath all day. Instead, this day is reserved for certain household chores, laundry and preparing for the week as well as for more traditional self care efforts.

I respond well to structure and planning. I also respond well to rest and relaxation and to the sense of accomplishment that comes with a well spent Sunday.

This is what I seek on an average Sunday:

Wake up naturally. The is the only day out of seven that I am not ripped from my sleep by an alarm and then forced to leave the house. This simple act feels decadent.

Eat well. Breakfast is normally a really good smoothie with peanut butter on toast. This is my normal daily breakfast but on Sunday there’s time to actually enjoy it. I aim for healthful foods on this day because there are no excuses when there’s time to cook.

Be enlightened. I typically watch CBS Sunday Morning, a magazine show that covers lifestyle, history, current affairs, entertainers and almost anything else the folks at CBS can dream up. Sometimes I kick up my feet and watch but some weeks just listen while doing chores. Much of what they cover doesn’t sound at all interesting in advance but I nearly always enjoy the stories and learn something.

Do laundry. Starting the week with an empty hamper ensures that whatever I want to wear is clean and there are plenty of clean towels. I typically put together some outfits to choose from including scarves and other accessories to save time on work mornings. Also, the bed sheets are always changed on Sunday because there is nothing more decadent than clean sheets.

Meal prep. Grocery shopping usually happens on Saturday or maybe Friday after work. On Sunday, I cook a few things to make weekday meals easier. This is the ideal day to experiment with new recipes or to make things that require more time. Soups that need time to simmer or beans that take hours to cook are good candidates. Homemade granola always happens on Sunday too.

Sweat. At some point, I like to break a sweat. This typically happens on the treadmill or maybe with an exercise dvd. This is followed by a hot shower and clean pjs. That’s right, I wear pajamas all day. Judge me all you like but it makes me happy.

Work the brain. This means that I kick up my feet and curl up with Scout to read, journal, do crosswords or catch up on other things that give my brain opportunity to stretch.

Embrace the quiet. Soft music, smart stuff on tv and plain old silence are important to this introvert. It allows me opportunity to calm my mind and mentally prepare for the week ahead.

Whatever I please. Real work always comes first so that the last half of the day can be devoted to whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes this means decluttering a drawer because this makes me happy. Sometimes I process pictures, write a blog post or watch a movie. If I’ve been too busy to keep up with housekeeping it often makes me happy to do some chores. It really just depends on what I’m in the mood to do.

Rest. Going to bed early on Sunday sets a good tone for the rest of the week. I love to take a book to bed early and then wake up feeling good on Monday.

In short, everything I do on Sunday is aimed toward improving quality of life during the work week and making myself healthy and well.

It’s not a bad way to live.

Do I feel like I’m missing out on something by basically hibernating one day a week? Not on your life. I feel stronger and happier for it.

The weeks when I skip my routine are harder weeks. The simple acts of staying fed and clothed take longer and eat up valuable time that could be used for fun, rest, exercise or basically anything else.

It’s not that I can’t function without my Sunday routine, it simply makes life more pleasant and easier.

Clearly, this wouldn’t work so well for someone with kids or a significant other. This is one benefit of being on my own and I am milking it for all it’s worth.

Catching Up

One disadvantage of being an amateur backroads wanderer is that I’m constantly in a state of wanting to pack a bag and run away. Another is that it’s easy to fall behind on household chores.

I have a long list of outdoor projects I had hoped to complete this month but it’s looking doubtful – between rain, allergies and wandering around – there simply hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for productivity.

I jokingly told a couple of female coworkers that I was gonna have to find a man so I would have help with the weedeating, pruning, power washing and other assorted chores awaiting attention. Both of them are married and aptly suggested that I just hire help. Ha ha.

I’m too cheap for that because I need all my funds for adventures! So here’s hoping I can knock out a bunch of chores later today so I can go out to play on Saturday without too much guilt!