Motivation

Last night I was washing the dishes. Not in order to feel good about myself – no, sometimes I need to clean to ward off negative energy instead.

Last night I was feeling ready to blow up at my dog, who was driving me a little batty. Instead, I attacked the dishes. As it tends to happen, I had a few thoughts pop in my head.

Lately I’ve wanted to get back into fiction writing. Just small stuff, short stories (probably flash fiction at that) – nothing lengthy. I’ve been doing some reading to brush up on my skills/habits; not other fiction right now but namely prompts, idea sources, etc.

Writing short fiction is easy – it doesn’t take long to write a story. Writing a good piece of short fiction is levels more difficult of course, but that’s not the issue I need to tackle at the moment.

The problem I’m having is one of motivation, and that’s the thought/realization that I had last night while I was doing the dishes. It’s something that I want to figure out how to fix but I’m not sure how to do it just yet.

Motivation in some fields of my life isn’t hard to come by. I can find the motivation to go to work, to put podcast stuff together, to work out, to eat right; but to write? It’s missing.

And I don’t understand why. I have a memory of maybe 6-7 years back at Christmas when I would write short stories in a notebook. Where has that inspiration gone?

I’d like to find it. I’ll see what I can do.

I feel good.

I just came back from a walk (at the time of writing – 12:45pm today). It’s cold – my weather app says it’s -8, but with the wind it feels like -16. I think it’s colder than that. I was bundled up – good jacket, warm hat, new gloves – so I really only felt the cold on my face.

I walked to the local Tim Horton’s, about 10-15 minutes up the road on foot. I picked up an XL dark roast coffee, and a lone Old Fashion Plain timbit. I was going to go with a full doughnut, because I honestly forgot that I could get individual timbits. These ones are 50 calories each – a much better option than 210 calories from a full doughnut.

I kept it in my pocket the entire walk back to the office. It tasted so good. Yeah, a full doughnut might have been nice, but I think I would have wasted 160 calories. I’ll take the feeling of enjoying a great tasting, tiny doughnut combined with a brisk walk over the extra 160 calories.

A Short Story Suggestion

I haven’t written anything in a while (specifically referring to this blog) and while there is a post I want to work on, I’m feeling a little unmotivated to put a lot of effort into crafting it (or even another post on another subject). So instead, here is a link to a short story I read over the holidays that I enjoyed.

It’s by Wil Wheaton. He wrote it on a bad mental health day, and I thought it was pretty good!

http://wilwheaton.net/2018/12/the-captain-dreams-of-flying-but-hes-oh-so-scared-of-heights/

I tried to embed the post into this one but I’m betting that there’s a security setting on Wil’s end that prevents this, so instead just click on the link and read it that way 🙂

Starting Over (Again)

I recently took a look at my weight numbers and came to the realization that since August 2014, I have gained at least 40 pounds. This, after having lost about that same amount in a period of 15 months from 2013 to 2014. 

That kind of number should be shocking, and it is. But I’m not reacting negatively to it. Instead I’m using the shock as a motivator.  For the last year+ I’ve been trying to lose weight, but haven’t really been getting anywhere (and in fact, have gained weight – just look at the chart for the last year!).  Seeing that I’ve gained so much weight back is an eye opener.

My weight from the last 365 days

Clearly, I’m not “doing it right”.  If I’m being honest, I know also I haven’t been recording my calorie intake (using MyFitnessPal) properly – at least, until last week.  If I were to think about any change I could possibly make, this is the first place to start.  

Sure, even in the last week, I still have had a couple of days where I was lazy and didn’t log things properly.  But what’s important to me here is that these days are 1 or 2 in 10, rather than 7 or 8 in 10.  So I have started here, with logging.  

Looking back before my hard restart, I can see that I just gave up completely on days where I know I blew my calorie goal.  I’d stop logging and not worry about it.  This is where I went wrong.  Today, I’ll keep logging the calories even if I’m going over my daily budget.  It’s the only way I’ll keep accountable.

My weight from the last 30 days

It really boils down to accountability.  For the longest time, I’ve been entering all of this fitness data and not doing anything with it.  Not only am I fixing what was broken, I’m going to have to do a regular review of my progress.  I won’t do that here, but this blog post is basically just as much for people reading it as it is for me to say, “I have to do this.”  

And I will do this.  I did it before.  My first goal post is 20 pounds by March 5, 2019.  I’ve only been at this in full force for about a week, and I’m at about the same weight as when I started.  I’m going to do a meaningful review next week (at the two week mark) and see where I am.

Simple Changes Make a Big Difference

This probably seems like a very obvious revelation, but recently I’ve discovered how great it makes me feel to work with a clean kitchen.

Clean kitchens are great.

Let me explain a bit further. It’s not like I never cleaned the kitchen before, or never appreciated a clean kitchen, it’s just that up until this past weekend I was very lazy (or maybe more appropriately, lackadaisical) after cooking dinner. We have only one sink, plus a dishwasher, but with that set up it’s a pain to keep the dishes clean. So then I decide I’ll do it later, and then everything just keeps piling up.

This weekend I did a major clean of the kitchen after cooking dinner for the family. It made the next morning amazingly easy for making breakfast, and then the dishes piled up a bit more after dinner. But then I cleaned it all up before going to bed. The next morning, making lunches was even easier. Everything was where I needed it to be, and ready to use. So I kept the chain going, and cleaned up after last night’s dinner, too.

The side effect wasn’t just the useful, clean kitchen. That I feel is the bonus in this situation. I’ve noticed a significant positive impact on my mood, too. Now, I think this is a large part of my personality. I like it when things are clean and orderly, and it bugs me when I start to see the kitchen dirty with dishes piled up waiting to be washed.

While this is a simple habit I’m hopefully going to stick with, it’s something that makes me happier just a little bit in my life. This is one room I have locked down (so far). Next thing I need to tackle is the basement. But I hope this little write-up helps someone pick out something in their own life they can change to make a bigger difference.

Recommendation: Ikea’s NORDMÄRKE Wireless charger

Note – this is NOT a sponsored post, and does NOT contain any affiliate links.  I just like this charger.

I’ve had wireless chargers since I used a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge – I found some official Samsung wireless chargers at a really low price on Amazon. And, they’ve been great. The downside – these chargers, they are really bright at night.

Cue Ikea’s Nordmärke wireless charger, which runs at $19.99 (Canadian) plus tax.  There is one tiny LED light to indicate that it’s charging (you should be able to spot it in the photo), but it’s obscured by my phone when it’s resting on the charger.  

The other thing I really like about it is that the power cable is permanently attached to the charger.  Most wireless chargers (Samsung’s included) need to be plugged in via micro USB, and usually don’t come with a cable included.  One of the reasons I ended up buying this charger is because the charger I was using stopped working properly due to this connection.  

It’s lightweight and works perfectly.  I highly recommend it!

Self Reflection with the help of Podcasts

I listened to three podcast episodes recently that I thought were really good at sparking a line of thought for self reflection and/or improvement.  Two of them were from the same podcast, the third was a different one.  

Overthinking It – Episode 531 – You Are Not Worse Than You Are and Episode 532 – The Dragon Bookmark. 

Normally Overthinking it spends time picking apart popular culture, but for the weeks of September 3rd and 10th they didn’t deem popular culture worthy of being picked apart.  Episode 531 was all about self improvement, and the ideas inherent to those words themselves and other ways people go about trying to improve themselves.  532 was something else entirely – it was about the experience of being alone with your thoughts (to put it briefly).  

I really wish I wrote down what prompted me to start this post at the time that the thoughts came, but suffice it to say that I was very much engrossed in these episodes and figure that other people can get something out of them as well.  Even if you’re not focused on self improvement at the moment, it doesn’t hurt to engage in some self reflection.

The Hilarious World of Depression – Imposter Syndrome: True Tales, Tricks, and Tactics for When You’re Feeling Fraudulent.  I get this a lot – I feel like my efforts aren’t good enough at all when it comes to making things.  And it doesn’t even have to be in the creative realm – that was a revelation I heard while listening to this podcast.  Often times I believe myself to be less than what I am in other people’s presence.  

I remember being busy cooking while I was listening to this episode, so I might need to listen to it again when I’m less focused on another task.  But sometimes it is helpful just to hear that other people struggle in the same way that you do, so that’s the primary use behind this episode for me.

Bonus Podcast: I forgot about this one when I started working on this post.  Raise the Bar – Season 2 Episode 2 – One Kwe.  This was basically a long interview with the owner of One Kwe, Kathryn Corbiere.  She’s in the process of opening her own storefront soon on Manitoulin, and has had her work featured in many different places (most prominently, Manitoulin Brewing Company).  It was very refreshing & inspiring to hear her story.

Daily Random Podcast

I’m working on a slightly longer blog entry about podcasts (that seems to be a recurring theme, lately) but for now wanted to share something fun I whipped together.  

Over on /r/podcasts (reddit) there was some demand for showcasing a random podcast each day from the weekly link sharing thread; it would be next to impossible to listen to each one in there and recommend something in a personal matter, so I offered the next best thing: an automated, randomly selected podcast of the day.  

The long and short of it: Each day I run a Tasker task I created to find the weekly episode thread, and randomly select an episode.  Then I create a new post.  

That’s it, and it works pretty well.  I’m curious to know what kind of shows come up each day.  Fun times!

Some Observations of My Organizational Habits

Last week there was a bit of a kerfuffle on the /r/bujo subreddit – basically that subreddit was created to embrace minimalism in bullet journalling, to counter-act the extremely popular “artsy” entries that people are sharing these days.  The issue was that the art crowd was filtering into /r/bujo (probably because they picked the wrong subreddit) and the spirit of minimalism was dying; so the minimalists fought back and are in the process of reclaiming the subreddit.  

Did you follow all of that?  Good.  Where I connect to this is that I tend to be minimalist; I don’t sketch or doodle or use stickers (I used to use multiple pen colours, but I don’t like carting around multiple pens), I stick to the basics.  

I keep a separate book for personal stuff as well as at work.  What I’m noticing in my habits lately is interesting, though!  I use my work planner daily – it basically is a very large, multi-functional to-do list with pages for notes from meetings.  I use it in combination with digital tools (Outlook, OneNote, basically all of Microsoft Office).  It works for me and is helpful for tracking my progress.  

For my personal stuff, I sometimes go days without opening up the book (I haven’t looked at it today, actually).  I’m feeling more and more inclined to stick with my digital tools for my personal life and ditch the bullet journal aspect.  I don’t get quite the same satisfaction of using it as I used to.  Conversely I am finding more uses from my existing digital tools.

For example, I have both Samsung Notes & Microsoft’s OneNote at my fingertips – my smart phone has both of these within a few taps if I need to write anything down.  I put nearly everything in Google Calendar.  I’ve started playing around with Microsoft’s To-Do app as well.  This works for me.   

I went into this post thinking that the end result I’d come out with is that I’m going to just keep my notebooks for work and go 100% digital for my home life.  But I wonder now if taking the time to sit down and plan out my day holds a benefit that I’m forgetting about.  Is it a way for me to slow down?  

Maybe.  I think there’s also nothing wrong with sitting down and planning things out digitally.  When it comes down to it, I’ve been avoiding the “sitting down” part of the equation entirely.  I think this is something I need to explore a little bit more again.  There’s nothing stopping me from reviewing things electronically and keeping my life…well, digital.  

Perhaps my habits will change, but this is what I’ve picked up on so far.  They’ve changed since I got back into notebooks on a daily basis three years ago, so there’s no reason they can’t continue to evolve.

What’s your choice?  Digital or Analogue?  Or both?