Wandering at the Shadows' Edge

exploring potential and possibility

Archive for the category “Modern”

2020 Planning

I mentioned my bullet journal a few posts back. It’s the form of paper planner that works best for me. One of my issues was finding a way to carry all my pens and stencils with me. I’ve solved that one. And I’ve made some adjustments to this year’s journal for the last couple of months of the year. This gives me a chance to test some of the things I want to try for next year.

I can’t try all of them right now but I’m making some notes. I have a gridded notebook that I use to work out the kings of things – the look and layout of trackers and pages and calendars. It helps me figure out if my ideas are logistically viable. It’s time to pull it out to start brainstorming what and how I’m going to track things in 2020.

It’s going to be different for 2020 because the planner is twice as big as the one I’ve been using. So I have to replan everything. I can fit more on a single page for some things, but there are other things that will use more space. the reason for the bigger planner is because my current on feels cramped in many ways.

I didn’t do too well tracking some things this year, though I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve fine tuned my journal. But I got way behind on the annual tracking. I’m not happy about that. I know why. I didn’t set time aside each week and month to update the journal pages. It’s something I need to block out time for going forward. It’s not something that takes a lot of time. I just need to sit down and do it.

I need to find an overall theme for 2020 – I’m not sure yet what tack I want to take with that yet. But it is something I need to do. And I need to start looking for quotes and pictures that fit whatever that theme ends up being.

My journal is important, but it’s fun too. I look forward to using it. It makes me more productive in the areas I make priorities.

New Adventures in Food

Part of the health and physical fitness journey I’m on is adjusting how I eat. I’m adjusting not only what I eat but when. It’s been interesting.

The easy part has been the when, but that’s because I’m currently prepping to teach and not on my regular work schedule. Since I’m not on phones, I can eat anytime I want to. It makes grazing through my day easy – and eating this way is about the only way I can eat the volume of food I need to.

I’m going to have to adjust somewhat while I’m actually teaching, since I can’t eat while I’m in front of the class instructing. But I have co-instructors so I won’t be in front of the class most of the time. It’s adjusting when class is over that I’m worried about. I’ll probably be going back to my day shift at that point and be back on the phones. I can’t eat while I’m taking calls and two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch aren’t terribly conducive to my eating plan. I’m worried about making the adjustment.

Now the adjustment to -what- I’m eating has been fun. It fits my appetite because most of the stuff is fruits and vegetables, nutes, legumes, and grains. There’s not a lot of cooking involved. There is some, but I can do most of it in one day and it only takes a couple of hours. If I decide to make something specific and on-the-spot, it’s generally fried or scrambled eggs, or a smoothie. Almost everything else can be cooked for multiple meals.

Cooking may be getting easier too. I got an Instant Pot on sale. The model I got can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and for sous vide, sauteing, and making yogurt. I haven’t done much with it yet, but I have two chicken carcasses in the freezer waiting ot be made into stock. And cooler weather is coming, so stews and chili will be in order. With the pressure cook option I won’t have to start them eight hours in advance. I’m excited to try making yogurt too. I wonder if you can start cheese in it?

What kind of experimentation are you doing with food?

Making Things Happen

I’m working on doing rather than wishing. I’m good at planning, at seeing possibilities, and dreaming. I’m not so good at following through. But I’m getting better.

I started with my writing and publishing. I’m making deadlines. I’m writing at least a blog post everyday. I’m getting had written stuff into the computer. I’m even writing and revising short stories for submission to anthologies.

It means I’m not watching much TV. I’m not reading as much as I’d like. I’m playing games on my phone less often. I’m making time to do writing and writing related things.

I’m making time to get in better shape, to get healthier, too. It means setting an alarm instead of sleeping until I wake up. It means taking walks during my breaks at work. It means taking the time to prep vegetables and fruits, to cook grains and meat or poultry. And packing lunch to take to work instead of going out and buying lunch.

As making time for these things becomes habit, rather than something I have to think about, I’m starting to find myself with more time. I’m organizing and scheduling things better and getting more accomplished with my time. I still don’t have time to do everything I want to do, but I’m getting to more of it. Can I keep it up when I go back to a day shift? I don’t know, but I think I can keep closer to it than I have been able to in the past.

Mapping a New Path

I always make my session with my personal trainer. I’m not so good at working out during the rest of the week. So I’m making progress, but very slowly.

It’s my own fault. I choose to turn off the alarm instead of getting up and taking a walk or going to the gym. I chose to do other things around the house instead of making use of the fitness equipment I have available.

It’s not the only thing I fall down on. I’m getting better about actually writing every day. getting that writing into the computer where it needs to be is another matter. I have several things that are half-done. It probably wouldn’t take much to finish them if I’d just dive in and start.

I have time to do these things. I’ve just been choosing not to. Telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow or on the weekend. And then I don’t follow through.

It’s starting to stress me out. Not that things aren’t getting done. Or at least not that so much as I’m making choices that aren’t aligned with who I want to be.

So I need to make some changes. I need to make the choices that align with the person I’m striving to be. Even if it means taking one baby step at a time.

Tiny Steps

I think I’m starting to get a handle on my writing schedule at least so long as I’m working nights. I’m writing at least a bit every day – usually a blog post and at least 400 to 500 words on fiction. Lately it’s been short stories. I want to do more writing, or at least get more words in, but I am making time in my schedule to write. I am making it a priority.

There are other things I want and need to do and I haven’t done so well in making those things happen. Admittedly, most of them don’t get added to my planner. I don’t block time out for them specifically, or add them to my to-do list.

What kind of things am I talking about? Donating, selling, or otherwise getting rid of stuff (It’s all sorted out, I just haven’t gotten it out of the condo!), finishing the weavings on my rigid heddle loom and my inkle loom, practicing my calligraphy and illumination so I can get some projects finished, sewing new clothes – both for daily wear and for costumes.

There are other things too. I know I can’t get them all done at one time. But I need to start getting them done. I need to start checking them off my list. I want to better my skills, I want to get the clutter out of my house.

Most importantly, I want to stop feeling overwhelmed. I know it affects my ability to use my time wisely. When I feel overwhelmed, I procrastinate and choose to do nothing at all. I’m working on that part – I’m making it point when I feel overwhelmed to pick one small thing to do, or to spend just 15 minute doing a specific thing. It gets me started and gets at least part of something done. I usually end up doing more than that one thing or 15 minutes.

These are all little steps. But the only way to get anywhere is to put one foot in fromt of the other. And to keep doing it. Each step may not get you too far, but when you put htme all together, you may find you’ve reached your next mile marker. That’s what I have to reminding myself of.

Filling the Silence

Every year around this time, I get a chance to catch up on podcasts I listen to or discover new ones. At least for the last five years. This is because I’m preparing to teach new hires at work.

I’m not on the phones. I’m not in front of a class, or assisting a co-instructor. What I am doing is analyzing the course materials, making notes of dead links and incorrect references. I’m making lesson plans and checking the test answer keys.

And, though I’m coordinating with my co-instructors, I’m mostly doing it on my own. I can put my headphones in and listen to podcasts while I work. And since I’m a bit of a completist when it comes to podcasts, I tend to start with the first episode. If it’s an older podcast that I’m just getting to, there may be upwards of a hundred episodes to catch up on.

I’m never going to run out of stuff to listen to. There are plenty of podcasts I’m interested in, but don’t have time to start listening to until I caught up with the ones I’m currently listening to.

I may be able to add another one or two before class starts this year. I’m nearly caught up with all but two of the podcasts I’m currently subscribed to. And I can only listen to so many episodes of the same podcast in a row. Most of the podcasts I listen to only have new episodes once a week or twice a month, so on the rare occasion when I’m caught up, there’s not enough material to fill the hours at work or the commute. That’s when I start adding from my “to listen to” list.

What do you listen to when you have time?

I Love Teaching – Don’t I?

Teaching is something I’m very comfortable with. It’s something I really enjoy. I also enjoy mentoring people – new instructors, team mates, former students.

I’m teaching, or I will be, a class of our new hires for this coming tax season. Instead of having one co-instructor, I’m mentoring two new instructors. There are good aspects to this – the number of classes is split three ways instead of two. If one of us is out, there are still two instructors in the classroom. And the students get experience with three different and distinct teaching and coaching styles.

But there are some negatives too. I have to coordinate with two people instead of one. Neither instructor has taught a long course – like new hire, which is 3 months long. We have six weeks to prep for 3 months of teaching – and they haven’t ever prepped for anything longer than a day or two.

And then there’s the personality conflicts. They’ve already started with one of the instructors. I’m the senior instructor because I’ve done this five times, and because I teach the actual instructor certification class. Our lead instructor, who is coordinating all six new hire classes, asked me to take on two new instructors because of my experience and my planning. But one of the co-instructors insists on doing some things their own way, saying I need to trust them that everything will work out. They don’t, or won’t, understand the need to work as a team and within the same framework. They refuse to accept that my experience is valid.

It’s a discussion we had multiple times in the first two weeks of prep. I feel like this instructor is surrounded in a fog that absorbs everything that’s explained to them and doesn’t let it actually impact them. I don’t’ know how to get through to them, but I won’t let it hurt our students’ learning.

I need to figure this out, but this is unmapped territory for me. I’ve never had a co-instructor so resistant to suggestion and request. All I can do right now is keep trying.

Healthy Habits

I’m climbing up a long hill and as I get older it’s only going to get longer. It’s my own fault. I ignored the work I should have been doing over the past several years. There were reasons, but I could have done some of that work.

What am I talking about?

Health and fitness. Both what and how I eat and how active I am. Fitness was easier when I had a house with a yard, that was only three blocks from the grocery store and the book store. I was just more active on a regular basis. And I just stopped paying attention to what I was eating. And I got older – along with all the changes that brings.

I figured out how far down that hill I’d slid. I fumbled through the fog and shadows. And I stopped the slide. I’m watching what I eat – turning toward healthier choices. I got a gym membership and a weekly session with a personal trainer.

I’ve made a start, but only a few steps in. And it’s hard. My trainer is encouraging but pushes me. But I don’t make it into the gym as often as I should outside of our sessions. It’s a matter of choosing how to use my time and what my priorities are.

And then there’s the eating. Part of my problem has always been what I eat. But the bigger part of the problem has consistently been how much I eat. It’s not that I generally eat too much. It’s most often been that I don’t eat enough of the right kinds of calories and my body holds on to everything. Eating enough calories of the right stuff means eating a lot more food than I’m used to and I have trouble with it.

But I’m working on it. I’m starting to head up that hill. And I can see progress, even if it is just a few steps at a time. At least the fog is thinning.

It’s going to be a long trek.

Planning the Shadow Wandering

I love paper planners. I’ve tried all kinds of them. I’ll find almost any excuse to try a new one. And none of them have really worked well for me. So I’ve mapped out a lot of shadow paths I don’t want to explore again. Because none of the preprinted paper planners seem to work for me.

A few years ago, an author friend of mine gave me a bullet journal for my birthday. I decided to give bullet journaling a try. And I failed miserably for the first year. But something clicked mentally. The next year I failed less miserably.

I tweaked the way I was using my bullet journal, which really the whole purpose – make it work for you. It’s still not perfect. I still fail somewhat. But this year I’m using it on a far more regular basis. And I’m tracking some things I really want to track. I haven’t managed to track them all, but I’m getting better at it.

And I’m figuring out what I need to change for 2020. My current journal is the size of a trade paperback. It feels tight when I try to plan out a week. It’s possible but not comfortable. So next year’s journal will be larger.

I like being creative and using lots of colors. That means toting around lots of pens – because my journal needs to be mobile. I’m working on a space efficient way to carry all of my pens and my ruler and stencils. The stencils need to be available – because I may be creative, but I can barely draw (something I’m working on improving) and I certainly can’t do it quick enough to make it worth doing to decorate my journal.

I’m still working on what I want to track next year and how. Some of my tracking formats worked and some not so much. I have a few months to figure it out and a special notebook just for playing around with ideas.

My bullet journal is something I need. But I also need to want to use it. It needs to be useful, creative, and fun. It needs to be able to adjust and update when I need it to. It’s getting there – and I’m enjoying tweaking it as I go.


I like to cook – but I have trouble cooking for just myself. And I really like most vegetables, fruits, and grains. But I like meat, poultry, and seafood too. And getting enough calories from just vegetables and fruit is hard. The volume of food you have to eat is daunting, to say the least. It takes me forever to get through that much food!

I tend to eat too few calories and put my metabolism into starvation mode. Then it fights to hang on to everything and I end up gaining weight. So I need to eat more calories along with exercising and drinking lots of water. I’m working on all three.

I downloaded an app on my phone that should help. It lets me cut down recipes for one or two servings and create a grocery list from the recipes I want to use. We’ll see if I can remember to use it and if it actually makes things easier.

I’m leery, because the experience of the past tells me it will be less effective than I’d like. It may be a wonderful app. It was recommended. But I have a tendency to forget to use such things. They’re only effective if they’re being used and I’m already tracking my eating in two places. Adding another app I need to check on a regular basis may not be the best option. But we’ll see. I’ll give it some time and see if I can get in the habit of using it.

It’s pre-mapping something I’m almost familiar with, yet have never been successful at. I have hops, but no specific expectations. In this case, the destination is the point, but the journey matters too.

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