I talk about food from time to time here. I talk about running a little (when I manage it for a bit; between the kiddo and the hills, it’s a challenge). I talk about writing and publishing and selling books.
And what all those things come down to are goals, even though I don’t set goals that consciously. I meet most of my goals, whether I make them into statements or not. But there are a few stories I tell myself that obstruct other goals, and since I’ve had no fucking luck so far with them, I figured I’d do a little blathering about here on the blog and see what shakes loose.
The bitch is you gotta eat. I don’t like eating. I’m picky, mostly I think because you have to try stuff a number of times before you can tell if you enjoy it (after you recover from new is bad, which is codified into a lot of brains). I don’t have that kind of patience, and we’ll see if I still feel that way when I have the money to play.
You gotta eat. I like sugar a lot, and I’m working on it. But eliminating a lot of my sugar intake isn’t a goal, not really; the goal is how I feel when I cut back. Today, I’m about a week in of less sugar, and I feel it. I feel better. I’m moving around more. I played dance party with the kid for like forty minutes, and that’s not nothing with a three year old tumbler. (She’s like, “Okay, now we’re gonna hold hands and dance like boys and girls. Okay, now I’m gonna run and then my feet are gonna let go of the ground and we’re gonna spin.”)
So that’s an important reframe: I’m not depriving myself of sugar, I’m adding playtime when I’m actually playing, as opposed to playtime I spend resentfully waiting for the moment the kid’s attention wanders enough for me to justify doing other things. (For a master course in rationalizations and justifications, have a kid.)
Movement and Sleep
Among other health benefits, moving around helps me sleep better. I knew it before, but then I bought a wristband thingie, realized I walk a pathetic number of steps every day (we’re talking 2-3k if I’m not trying), and started working on that shit. If I walk 5k, I sleep better (as measured by the thingie).
This ain’t all roses; if I walk more and play more, I actually need more sleep, which is a pain in the ass since “bedtime” is “writing time” around here, and has been since I was thirteen years old. The current story (known now as the DRitC story) is definitely suffering for word count because right about now, my body starts shutting the fuck down. Sugar’s tied in here, too, I think. I could squeeze an extra hour or two if I was still maintaining a decent level of sugar throughout the day.
My goal isn’t to walk more steps, though I do take that as a daily goal at the moment just because I’m playing with my data. The real goal is to feel better falling asleep (IE not tossing and turning), and waking up (IE not rolling over and shoving my head under the pillow until ten a.m.)
Still, as someone who’s never consistently woken up in the morning and felt rested, this is an interesting experiment in inter-connectivity. Presumably more sleep, less sugar, and more movement all tie into the next thing.
I’m a suicidal depressive. The leap for most people from “functional” to “suicidal” takes a series of events, a slow dive. For me? Hell, for me it’s regretting a post on a forum or wishing I’d taken a chance on connecting to someone (read that again: dammed if I do, dammed if I don’t). There are half a dozen ways I could kill myself just driving the five minutes from here to town. I don’t keep medications in my house. I’m also wary of sharps.
I say all this only to make the point that mood stabilization for me is a very intense thing, and that fucking it up–while it’s not gonna lead to actual suicide, because my energy moves consistently in other directions–leads to a lot of very, very dark thoughts.
Mood. Mood is the thing above all the others that pulls me forward through changing; it is also my Achille’s Heel. The second even a relatively small thing goes wrong, if I am vulnerable, I go ahead and sabotage everything else.
Sugar fucks my mood. So does staying too sedentary too long. So does not sleeping. So does a whole lot of non-sugar foods, some of which I’ve worked out through the process of elimination (gluten), some of which I only suspect (grains, grains, wtf is wrong with my body and grains?).
As a single person with no kids, I could afford to not give a shit. My form of suicidal depression is exhausting, but it’s pretty passive. It’s not hugely life-threatening. It keeps me constantly on the edge of very bad things, but I’ve been dancing on that edge for over half my life, so it’s familiar.
But now? Now I’m a douchebag to a three year old, and the only thing lower than that is being a douchebag to a pre-verbal kid. It’s so much easier now that she can be douchey back. (“MOM, why do you have to be SO ANNOYING?” It helps to have a fourteen year old in the house–so many handy phrases to repeat!) Losing my cool because the kid’s micromanaging me is dumb. I’d like to do it less. The only way I can maintain my moods is by constantly checking and re-checking everything on this list. Well, that, and B complex vitamins, which saved my ass in pregnancy. God help you when I forget to take my B complex.
And then, there’s this.
I can make a lot of things into meditation. Tich Naht Hahn (oh, I might be screwing that up, I’ll google later when it’s not bedtime) has a lot of rockin’ little nuggets of wisdom, but this has always been my favorite. You can meditate by doing the dishes, by eating, by running, by sitting still, by laughing. Mindfulness is the trick, and formal meditation will lead to mindfulness in all other areas of your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for it.
A few minutes ago I took the dogs out to pee. We’ve got an old dog (who’s going through menopause and peeing herself all the time…?), and she doesn’t like that last pee break. She doesn’t want to get herself up for it, she’s afraid she’ll be stuck outside, and she communicates her lack of investment perfectly clearly using her eyes and a rather pouty set to her lips. So I take her out, and then she’ll go.
I’m not a huge fan of living in a rural community, but there are moments when it feeds my soul, and being outside at night, standing on my deck, looking up at the stars through the branches of our back yard oak (which goes green-leaf about a week and a half after our front yard oak) is one of them. I noticed the air on my skin, the shade of deep blue in the sky, the smell of growing things. It was lovely, it was brief, and when I came back in I felt….good.
Then I went back to playing, did everything wrong (y’know, as usual), and was promptly annoyed.
Unlike cutting out sugar, and walking more, and sleeping more, meditation is for me its own reward. I’ve always loved doing it. I’ve always come back to it. I’d love to someday not stop meditating, but as it is, it’s a home I’ve found often enough in my body and mind that I don’t fear abandoning it forever. But man, the times I’ve managed longer streaks, streaks of weeks or even months? There’s no ceiling to how helpful it is. In all areas of my world, from writing to cleaning to sleeping.
You’re not supposed to do everything at once, but I find it helpful to run a lot of different goals simultaneously. For a lot of people it must feel like more pressure, but because to me the failure is built in, it feels like less pressure. I know I won’t have a moment today and wake up tomorrow ready to walk ten thousand steps and meditate and eat vegetables and never touch sugar again, so it’s all right if I’m not perfect. I built that into the plan. One habit at a time is a way better idea, but then I have to get it right or I’ve failed a hundred percent.
I don’t know, y’all. I’m rambling now and I should be sleeping or writing. Still, this is helpful, this is always helpful.
Anyone else want to chime in with a goal? Do you guys set goals? If so, how do you do it? Is this a thing you write down, do you get it tattooed on your face, stuck everywhere with post-its? I’m a relative novice to formal goal-setting and I’m intrigued…