What a cold and dreary start we’re off to this May! But May, for me, is a magical month. Well, really, it’s more like mid-May through mid-June that’s magical…by then I’m done grading, but M’s still in school, so I have time to catch up on things and even maybe relax a little bit. It’s also magical because everything is springing back to life during that time, and it’s just so lovely to be able to spend time outside, enjoying the flowers (even though they make me sneeze), making my clumsy efforts towards establishing a garden, just going on aimless walks through Highland Park, that sort of stuff. There’s a pretty real sense in which May is the month for “rebooting” after a busy year of teaching. This year I’ve ended up feeling really depleted – my usual “February funk”/seasonal depression hung around through March and I feel like I’m just ending Spring semester on empty, though my classes all went very well and my students seem to have grown a lot and all that good stuff. I definitely need a reboot.
Along with a few friends of mine, I’m going to follow Wil Wheaton’s lead on this idea of “rebooting”, and use May as a time to think about the way I’d like my life to be and actually set to work making it that way. My hope is that if I can get into good habits this summer, I’ll be able to carry them over into next year even during the school year, where so far (in my two years of being full-time faculty) I’ve had a relatively low success rate in terms of maintaining healthy habits throughout the entire year. With this in mind, here are my goals for my “May Reboot”.
First, the tl;dr version:
1. Exercise (more and better)
2. Eat better
3. Sleep better
4. Make things
5. Make music
6. Clean up
7. Be a good friend
8. Read good stuff
10. Be present and patient with M
But for more on WHY these 10 things, see below:
1. Exercise (more and better): for various reasons (schedule challenges, sickness, and depression) I’ve gotten out of my good exercise habits this semester. I’m not a happy person when I’m sedentary, and vice versa. Lack of exercise is both a symptom and result of depression for me – these things feed into each other like a vicious cycle. Exercise has been hard for me since I had to give up running (and all high-impact stuff) because of my connective tissue disease, but that’s nearly a decade ago now, so c’mon, self. I’m not sure whether or not gym/pool exercise is a thing that makes sense now that the semester is over (I don’t really want to go into campus JUST for that!), but I definitely want to do a LOT more walking. I’m not sure what to aim for in terms of steps/mileage. Maybe at least 5k/day? And I want to get back to strength and flexibility work – push-ups, sit-ups, the mix of yoga/Pilates stuff that I used to do. I’ve gotten very strong carrying M around (she’s ~45lbs at this point!), but she’s getting to an age where that’s going to be completely out of the picture soon, so I need to maintain this strength somehow! Make time for it, self! If I can somehow combine this with podcast-listening, that’d be awesome, because I’ve got quite a backlog of Radiolab and OnBeing and others I’d like to try.
2. Eat better: I’ve gotten into a rut with food, and in particular, I’m not eating as many veggies as I do when I’m happiest and healthiest. So, eat more veggies, and more variety, period. Get back to some sort of meal planning.
3. Sleep better: I had successfully weaned myself off Unisom at the beginning of Spring Semester, but then the time change came around and messed everything up and I’m back to it. Insomnia is a huge problem for me, and my biggest problem is that I just don’t know how to fall asleep (this is what the Unisom helps with). My mind won’t shut off, no matter how tired I am. I used to be dependent on falling asleep while A watched TV (but only if he watched something that wasn’t too interesting to me or too scary, which limited his choices a lot and also just isn’t fair to him – he and his TV-viewing habits can’t be my sleep crutch). Then I switched to being dependent on unisom, when trying to get my sleep back to something resembling normal after the havoc M wreaked with her first two years of nighttime issues (and these still persist on occasion, which is part of the problem). I don’t want to be dependent on Unisom forever (for a lot of reasons – it seems to be in the list of meds that can contribute to Alzheimer’s, for one), so I need to work on developing a better strategy for falling asleep. This will probably be the hardest goal, and also the most likely to backfire if I put pressure on myself about it, so I need to remember to tread lightly and be kind to myself here.
4. Make things: I’m a maker. I’m happiest when I can be creative and actually make things. When I’m depressed, that part of me shuts down – at least, the will to actually MAKE things does. Unless I’m severely depressed (like when I was dealing with PPD a few years ago), I don’t usually completely stop coming up with ideas, but the problem is that I end up with my head in the clouds, dreaming things up but not following through, and this is a very unsatisfying place for me. I’ve been in that place a lot lately with knitting (designs of my own and other people’s patterns that would work well with my stash yarn), sewing, embroidery, and watercolor art ideas and I need to just DO them already.
5. Make music: I’ve gotten reconnected with music quite a bit this year through M’s Suzuki violin stuff at Hochstein, and being her at-home violin teacher. This has been great but also kind of painful to me, to be this close to music again but not really making it myself. I have a lovely violin (which I should probably take in for a tuneup; at the very least, my bows need to be rehaired, and I maybe need new strings, too), so I should PLAY it. Maybe I can work through some more of the Bach solo stuff this summer. I should also revisit my old etude and scale books, because I’m rusty. Maybe I can also ask about playing at church sometime?
6. Clean up: our house and yard are such freaking disasters! Seriously, we weren’t doing great on this front before M came into our lives and we’ve gotten WORSE since then and it’s BAD. I don’t even know where to start here. I’ll give myself one concrete goal: tackle my clothes situation, konmari-style. And clear out the things that don’t fit M anymore. Decluttering and cleaning on a larger scale HAS to start though!
7. Be a good friend: I have such great people in my life right now and I need to remember to make maintaining these friendships a priority.
So that I end up with a nice even “10”, I’ll add these 3 things I’m already doing and want to maintain:
8. Read good stuff: I love my Kindle Paperwhite! I’ve got a Lightspeed magazine subscription on it (which I got on Wil Wheaton’s recommendation awhile back), which means I’ve always got good sci-if/fantasy short stories, and I also check things out from the library regularly. I also read the things posted on Aeon, Nautilus, Brainpickings, and OnBeing regularly – I get so much from all of these sites.
9. Write: I used to write almost incessantly in my livejournal, and while I think it’s actually for the better that I let that journal die (in that mostly-private space, it was too easy to wallow in a whiny, resentful, self-loathing headspace – I’m actually someone who’s much healthier when I do my reflective writing “in public”, so to speak), I do miss regularly doing reflective writing. I’ve been doing some of this on Facebook and some here on this blog in the past year or so and I want to keep it up.
10. Be present and patient with M: I’ve been learning a lot about how to be a good support person for M given the SPD issues she has, and I think I’m doing great here, but I definitely need a reminder to keep it up, because parenting my intense, awesome SPD kid is HARD! Summer will give us lots of time to connect and have fun together – beach trips, playground walks, gardening, biking…I hope to make this great time together.
And to reward you for making it all the way to the end of this post, here’s another shot of that tulip!