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I haven’t advertised this to many people, but at my last annual exam, I got some scary cholesterol and fasting blood sugar results. Scary enough for my doctor to mention medication. Given my family history, I was extra – well – scared. (Note to self: use a thesaurus.)

About a month ago I started to get Serious with a capital S. It’s slow going, but I’m trying to be easy on myself because I know I need to change my general attitude and behavior and that has to be a transition. Altering almost 40 years of bad habits can’t happen overnight. I’ve been working out semi-regularly, counting every calorie, trying to be more mindful. I have a virtual friend who is a personal trainer coaching me and nagging me via text daily. And I’ll be damned if it’s not working and I’m already starting to see results. Not just on the scale, but what my body is capable of.

Case in point: I dropped the car off at our mechanic this morning for an oil change and walked home. It’s probably just under two miles. TWO. MILES. In the past I’d start walking, and by the time I got to the first bus stop half a mile away, I’d be DYING and pay the $2 to take the bus home (shut up, this part of town is hilly). Today I didn’t have a goal, I just figured I’d walk to the bus stop and see how I was doing. And I was doing fine, so I kept going. And kept going. Until I got home.

A funny thing happens when you’re unemployed. You can dress it up by saying you’re “self-employed” or “a stay-at-home-wife” or “works out of the house” or whatever. But who are we kidding. In my defense, I have probably spent at least 50% of the time since I was laid off from my last cubicle job in July 2005 working in some form or another. In 2007 I worked pretty much constantly – I think I had maybe 3 days off all summer. Have I worked as hard as I could have? Nope. Have I looked for work? Yup. Unfortunately the thought of going back to an office, even part-time, and having to deal with the egomaniacs that administrative assistants support makes my chest tight. The funny thing that happens is not so funny. You lose the ability to make things a priority.

By “you” I mean, of course, me. It’s like a mini-depression, in a sense. Nothing is pressing, because what am I going to do tomorrow? Nothing that can’t be put off, most likely. And what if I did get super organized and get a bunch of things done today? I could clean all the bathrooms and balance the checkbook and cross to-dos off my list, but then what? Then tomorrow I would sit around with nothing to do. So it’s really a pre-emptive thing, to do nothing today so that I know I’ll have something to do tomorrow. Aren’t excuses great?! I’m not someone who is great at self-motivating, obviously. I need a schedule. I need direction. I need it spelled out for me because I can’t trust my natural inclinations to lead me to staying on task. My natural inclinations are to sit my fat ass in the comfy chair in my living room and play spider solitaire and next thing I know it’s five hours later.

So! Last week I embraced the bubbling-over of my sick-of-myself-ness and made a schedule. A detailed schedule. First I made a list of everything I need or want to accomplish. Then next to each item I labeled it either daily, weekly, monthly, one-time, whatever. I figured out when I was most likely to do each daily item (mornings are for writing because that is when my mind is freshest; afternoons for exercising because 3pm is when I need the pick-me-up and if I don’t exercise at that time I will just end up eating; free time for around the time Mr. Zoo usually gets home from work; and so on). I assigned the weekly items to the early afternoon, between lunch and exercising, and these items will rotate. This means things like: one day is dedicated to bathrooms and laundry; another day for errands; another day for cooking the freezer meals I make in bulk for Mr. Zoo’s lunches or other food prep.

And then I plugged all of these things into my iCal, which is a great tool that comes with my Mac that I have only used for pet-sitting jobs to this point. Which is a shame because there are a lot of features that make it a great tool, especially the color-coding. I love when things can be classified by color! I set up reminders for each task. This way even if I do get distracted while online and give in to the temptation that is spider solitaire, the little reminder window will pop up and shame me into moving on to my next task. I also created a new rule for myself and that is in the morning, when I’m online and supposed to be writing*, I have to sit at my desk in my not-as-comfortable chair. I’m allowed to relax with my laptop on the comfy living room chair in the afternoons and evenings for my “free” time, but to start out my day I’m supposed to be here, at my desk.

I also created a separate calendar called “Dinners” in which I put the recent meal plan I organized. If I want to get really crazy, I can export the Dinner calendar into my google calendar, which Mr. Zoo has permission to view so that he can check out the upcoming meals if he wants to. Embracing technology!

The best thing about my happy new schedule is that it really is flexible. I know, I know – it sounds like I went all Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and whittled every task down to the nanosecond. But the beauty of it being in iCal is that I can drag and drop things around as I need to. And I padded the tasks as well, so there is extra time there if I need it. If I get a new pet-sitting job on a Wednesday, for example, I can move one of my Wednesday weekly task to another day to make sure everything gets done. I know I need schedules and organization to be successful, but I also need those schedules to be forgiving.

* You are probably all like “writing”? Really? Since when? The hell? I am not a writer. I got a little freelance writing gig writing short how-to guides for an online company. The pay is nothing to freak out about but it also doesn’t take much time at all. Unfortunately I am like a kitten getting distracted by something shiny (see: spider solitaire) so I need to make sure I stay focused. I am not a writer. But I play one on the Internet.

In re-reading my last two entries, I might kind of sound like a mess. Which, I may very well be, but regardless I want to point out that I’m not in any kind of dire mental state or anything. Overall I have a lot to be thankful for, and acknowledge that. I am pretty content most of the time and my dosage of Zoloft is right on. :)

Email

zooaskew[at]gmail[dot]com
June 2017
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