Friday, December 16, 2016

What's Working in a Broken Time


There's a dumpster fire t-shirt that keeps popping up in my Facebook ads, and if I was more sure of the sizing, I'd buy it instantly. The dumpster is green with big white numbers: 2016. Indeed.

Honestly, this year is important. So important. We're living through some pretty terrifying history. We're being called to action in a way that I don't think has happened in recent memory. Although, I could be very wrong about that, because if I've learned anything in 2016, it's that I'm very ignorant. What I don't know could fill libraries of mythical proportion. I'm trying to catch up on 30 years of lost wisdom as quickly as I possibly can.

Good things happened this year, too. I'm going to spend some time before 2017 really looking over the year and putting things into perspective for myself. This article from Gala Darling has me thinking, but there are guidelines everywhere. Going back through 12 months of social media accounts can be incredibly eye opening. You might forget how you were feeling in March, but Facebook doesn't. Facebook never forgets. 

I have wanted to share some things that are working for me right now. None of them are life changing, but in a time where I am constantly vacillating between upset and numb, recognizing little positives is healthy. And fun. And maybe something can be helpful to you, which would mean that even though I AM currently Sadness from Inside Out, I am contributing to an upswing in someone's life, and that would be just lovely.

1. Syncing Google Calendars with my husband
Oh my GOD I am the lamest but...this has been huge. One thing I'm truly grateful for is that Ben and I both have hobbies that fulfill us and take up a lot of our time. Ben shot a movie this fall that required a bunch of production meetings and two very full weekends of round-the-clock commitment. I take a writing class every other weekend and meet up with friends as often as I can manage. We have two kids who like to go to birthday parties and pick apples and see Santa Claus and do all the Northeast US activities that finish off a year, not to mention doctors' appointments and parent teacher conferences and all that jazz. Basically, with four schedules to coordinate, we were constantly texting each other (because we are rarely home at the same time) "What's happening on the 14th?" or "What time do I need to take off next Thursday?" It was super annoying to get those questions, sometimes because "I ALREADY TOLD YOU" and sometimes because "I HAVE NO IDEA!" and the paper calendar was at home. On the wall. With the fish. The rest of us were out in the world.

So at some point in the fall my sister was watching the boys and we went on a romantic date and we sat down and synced our calendars. Oh Google, you siren. We have a Master Calendar and any time one of us enters an event, it automatically pops up on the other's calendar. We also both use Gmail, so if we get a confirmation of anything via email, the calendar asks us if we would like to add it. I bought plane tickets near Thanksgiving, and when I went to enter the info, my flight times AND FLIGHT NUMBERS were already in the calendar, waiting patiently for approval. So while synced calendars does nothing about my dread of what is going to happen to women's health rights in this new regime, it makes me on-the-level life so much easier, and oddly, I feel much more connected to Ben. We're synced. 

2. DATA
I'm not a numbers girl. I am a dreamer. Cold hard facts are shitty and wake up me to reality and I don't like knowing the truth. I like living in my head. This is why I need- and am starting to love- data. It started with Fitbit a few years ago. The facts about when I actually was getting in most of my steps surprised me (Working in an elementary school= tons of steps. Chasing toddlers= surprisingly, not as many steps!) and I became obsessed. When I upgraded to the Charge, I started getting my sleep data and guess what? I sleep a lot more than I thought I did. Who knew?  For a few years I've been very careful to track my reading in Goodreads. Sometimes I find that I read a lot more than I thought I had. Sometimes I find that my "diverse reading streak" includes only one author of color, and I have more work to do than I thought.  I got a new app that helps me track my period (It's Clue and it's cool). I guess I'm just sick of guessing. I like keeping track of things. At Thanksgiving, I lost my Fitbit charger, and I've gone without for about a month. I hate it. I like having metrics with which to track my days. I want to be free-spirited and intuitive, but I suck at knowing myself without external structure. Give me data.

3. Lists
I've only made about three lists in 2016. It's a practice I've strayed from, and it pisses me off. It's like drinking water, eating vegetables, getting lots of sleep. It's SO freaking good for you, and the contrarian in me loves to reject that which I know it healthy and pure. When I make a list, and I on fire.I have realistic plans for my time, I know what I expect of myself, and I know how to order my days to be productive. Why do I fight this so hard? Why does three extra minutes of scrolling through Twitter seem so much more lucrative? Lists work and I push them away so often, It's stupid.

I really love this list pad from Etsy. It sits on top of a teetering pile of planners that I've used for an average of 3 days each. But this pad is dateless, so you can pick it up and return to the land of planned at any time. And it has the things I actually need to do. It's a single page that gently promises me that I can have the kind of day I imagine, and that I don't need to do it again tomorrow unless I absolutely want to. Thanks, notepad. You get me.

Right now, living well isn't very sexy. It's being organized and managing family schedules and keeping track of things. But it's working- these are the little things that are working. I have BIG plans for 2017. I know I need to make some very big changes. List pads and Fitbits won't be enough to carry me on this trajectory much longer. But for now, it's checking boxes and making lists and gearing up for even greater things.  

(image via pinterest) 

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