Fitness plan modification!

Just a quick post to say that already on Day 2 of the fitness plan, I have decided to make a slight modification and add a “Stage 0”; unsurprisingly, going from being virtually house-bound to walking a half mile every day is something my body’s just not putting up with. If I didn’t have the lupus to think about, then yes, it would simply be a case of pushing it, but alas, it doesn’t work like that when your body’s systems malfunction. 😛 So instead of giving up, I am simply introducing this stage before I move onto the planned Stage 1, and this stage comprises exactly the same as Stage 1, just doing it on alternate days rather than every day. And when this becomes easier, then I can move on and do it every day. Unfortunately it means I’ve missed volunteering today; I may have been able to make it for a short time, but I have to travel to Glasgow tomorrow to see one of my doctors, and I know that going from struggling from one outing a week even here in Perth to three days in a row of activity would not work.

Being disabled and having a progressive chronic illness means life consists a lot of finding accommodations and modifications that work for you. Instead of feeling disappointed that I’ve already changed the plan to make it easier, I’m more confident that I will be able to work up as planned. Coming to terms with one’s disability means a lot of learning not to continue convincing yourself that there is some way to manage plans that deep down you know you either can’t manage or must work up to. I came to terms with the fact that I can’t pursue my dream career in forensic pathology and it’s made it a lot easier to find a new plan rather than say to myself that there is some way I’ll manage… And I know that while getting “fit” means I’m never going to be able to run or become Superman, by doing things based on my own experience and limits I will be able to find a plan that works for me – and I won’t feel guilty for having to modify things and ask for accommodations. Being disabled means we can’t base our abilities and limits on a non-disabled default.

This week’s bite-size goals (6 – 12 April)

1. Translate from/to a new combination of languages for lyrics. (Because I am learning so many languages, there is a possible 156 combinations! I’ve done at least one translation in 27 of them, though I don’t think I’ll be doing something like Finnish–>Slovenian any time soon!)

2. Work on my novel.

3. Write some entries to Lang 8 in my languages.

4. Work on gesture drawings on Quickposes.com

5. Choose a recipe to try and buy in ingredients.

Goal review (30 March – 5 April)

Wow, nothing much happened for me this week. However, I did go out on Wednesday (woohoo!) and wore myself out for the next few days; I was at the dentist, and so took the opportunity to drop books off at the library and did a bit of volunteering as I’ve only been to each store once this year. This meant I wasn’t amazingly productive for the few days after that, and certainly not yesterday as I was dealing with the hunger of a liquid diet. So most of these were not achieved!

1. Work on planning more explicitly for any of my forthcoming novel projects.
If I remove “explicitly” then sure! But the point was to commit more to paper, which I didn’t get around to doing unfortunately. At least things still percolate around my head; that’s still some level of progress!

2. Transfer miscellaneous bags of yarn to the new box my sister bought me.
Not much to say here; it didn’t happen!

3. Work on finishing the Family vocabulary sheets for my folder.
The only ones I had left were to finish the Swedish sheet and write the Finnish one; I did neither! But I did do some translation on Lyricstranslate.com which I haven’t done for a while, including a German–>Swedish and an English–>Finnish so at least I did something of those languages.

4. Phone the library about a job opportunity (I need to confirm if it’s closed) and pick up an application for a local supermarket.
I didn’t call the library, but I asked while I was in there and the woman I spoke to thought yes, it was closed, as they were interviewing that week. I haven’t been to the supermarket yet, but Mum and my twin forgot to pick up a form when they were there, so I’m thinking that one’s closed too!

5. Work on any translation project.
I worked on Italian a little early in the week, but lately was focusing my translation less on my book projects and more on lyrics.

This week’s bite-size goals (30 March – 5 April)

1. Work on planning more explicitly for any of my forthcoming novel projects.

2. Transfer miscellaneous bags of yarn to the new box my sister bought me.

3. Work on finishing the Family vocabulary sheets for my folder.

4. Phone the library about a job opportunity (I need to confirm if it’s closed) and pick up an application for a local supermarket.

5. Work on any translation project.

Goal review (23-29 March)

With these weekly lists, I notice how fast the weeks are going by! Along with it is a disappointment that already it’s April next week, and yet weeks go by and I’m not getting much done. But! The point of these lists is to encourage myself slowly, and I want to focus on what I have done rather than get bitter about what I haven’t. There will always be something more that we could have done each week, each day, but this is the case even for non-disabled people! With the lists, I want to remember not to only complete them and then stop for the week, but if it inspires me further, then that’s good, but in learning to pace myself (even after eight years with the disease) I must stop viewing every little thing as obligatory. Even hobby-wise, I have so many of them that it’s hard to devote time to some of them, such as keyboard and songwriting, art too, but it will never work for me to feel obliged to regularly work on them all within a short space of time, say a month, because I will stretch myself too thin. It’s simply a case of prioritizing certain hobbies above others, and working on others more occasionally; I did do a sketch of my cup of tea yesterday, so I’m chuffed! Not bad for a relative beginner who has little time to devote to art, I don’t think. 🙂

Anyway, onto last week’s goals!

1. Move laundry to other room for sorting.
We did more than just move the laundry, happily! We sorted it on the same day, and one load was done here at the house; we just need to wait on a nice weather day and get the rest done at the launderette. And when the backlog is done, I must must must keep on it regularly and never let it pile up like that again!

2. Get back into taking pills regularly and keep weekly pill box filled. (I’ve been rather lazy about sorting my pills and so haven’t been taking each day’s pills for definite.)
I did fill the box, didn’t take them as much. I need to make it a more regular point in my day so I actually remember. My occupational therapist suggested keeping them downstairs but I barely make it downstairs on some days. I think I need to start making sure I take them with dinner, which I do have more regularly because my sister cooks with me.

3. Work on my novel.
I wrote around three pages yesterday, which amounts to somewhere around 900-1000 words (I won’t know until I type it up, as usual). I stopped only because I was interrupted to play with my niece and baby nephew. I’m getting scarily close to the end of this novel, so I think I need to specifically devote time to more thorough planning before that happens, because I hate being stuck in between projects while I work on the planning.

4. Start on a new translation for a language I’m learning but I don’t have a project for (i.e. Latin, Slovenian). (My sister is still in the process of convincing me to start Ancient Greek! I’m learning 12 languages, plus I’m an absolute beginner in Japanese and haven’t done much at all for it, and I’m still tempted to add more!)
I failed this one! In fact, I didn’t work on any translations all week, otherwise I would have chosen Slovenian, I think. I think I should make a deal with myself not to add any more languages (specifically Romanian and Hungarian are the ones I’m closely considering, as I have some Romanian knowledge already and am tempted to put in another Uralic other than Finnish) until I complete a substantial part of the translations I have already!

5. Work on a current crochet project (i.e. either the baby cardigan or the Granny squares for my niece’s Scooby Doo characters!)
Unfortunately another failure. Yesterday my niece stayed overnight as usual on the weekend, and she inquired about them, but because I had done the drawing that day, it massively flared up the tendinitis in my hand so there was no chance of working on crochet! I feel like a rotten uncle. 😦

This week’s bite-size goals (23-29 March)

1. Move laundry to other room for sorting.

2. Get back into taking pills regularly and keep weekly pill box filled. (I’ve been rather lazy about sorting my pills and so haven’t been taking each day’s pills for definite.)

3. Work on my novel.

4. Start on a new translation for a language I’m learning but I don’t have a project for (i.e. Latin, Slovenian). (My sister is still in the process of convincing me to start Ancient Greek! I’m learning 12 languages, plus I’m an absolute beginner in Japanese and haven’t done much at all for it, and I’m still tempted to add more!)

5. Work on a current crochet project (i.e. either the baby cardigan or the Granny squares for my niece’s Scooby Doo characters!)

Goal review (16-23 March)

I was moderately successful with the first week of mini-goals! I didn’t do them all, which is a bit disappointing, but I also have to remember everything else I’ve done in this week that didn’t appear in the list. I was particularly proud this week of managing to get out to the cinema with my sister, and then the next day, my guilt was eating away at me enough to sort out the bookshelf, because it was in my goal list!

1. Sort out my bookshelf of “permanent books” and put the unwanted ones in the donate pile; move the temporary books to this shelf, and replace temporary bookshelves with my yarn boxes.
I took all the “permanent books” away to be taken to charity; I don’t like to keep many books at all now because I’m not much of a re-reader – because I have far too many on my to-read list! We also put all of my sister’s classics (ancient Greek and Latin texts) separately so it’s more organized, and our multilingual Harry Potter collection more separately. Some books I will read once more and then donate, such as the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles that I own – I would donate them now but I want to re-read the first ones before continuing with the series. There wasn’t as much space as I had anticipated, so I couldn’t move too many “to-read” books, but I moved enough to clear a small shelf for one yarn box, as planned.

2. Prepare one bag of laundry for the launderette.
I filled half a bag with black clothes only, although technically I’m sure this was before last Sunday. 😛 We are so overrun with dirty laundry, it’s astonishing, so we plan to move it all into another room to properly organize it for washing. It’s so ridiculous but combining the winter and me not being able to do a lot has made it spiral out of control. I am very much hoping to have made a lot of progress by my appointment with my occupational therapist, as I won’t be able to stand telling her it’s still a problem!

3. Work on my novel.
I didn’t write much, maybe a page’s worth in my notebook; I don’t know how many words yet as I write longhand and then type up, and as I haven’t typed it yet, I haven’t counted. Anyway, the word count isn’t the important bit for this goal! I’m getting close to the end of this novel, my second.

4. Work on at least four of my translations.
The week before I made this goal, I was mainly focusing on my Russian translation, and so this week was a nice variety due to this goal. I worked on the Russian, but also Italian, Spanish, and Dutch.

5. Complete my core physiotherapy at least three days. (10 stretches)
Considering I went from not having much physio at all for months, I thought I didn’t do too badly by only doing my core work once this week. Although gentle and low-energy for most people, these stretches are painful and exhausting for me. I was at the point before of doing them most days, and I want to work back up slowly to this again, before phasing in some of my other stretches, such as hip strengthening. I did less than intended, but I still managed once on top of being quite active by getting out this week, so I’m not too disappointed!

This week’s bite-size goals (16-23 March)

1. Sort out my bookshelf of “permanent books” and put the unwanted ones in the donate pile; move the temporary books to this shelf, and replace temporary bookshelves with my yarn boxes.

2. Prepare one bag of laundry for the launderette.

3. Work on my novel.

4. Work on at least four of my translations.

5. Complete my core physiotherapy at least three days. (10 stretches)

Bite-size goals

I didn’t want most of this blog to be about mental health, but I don’t mind that that’s how it seems to be turning out; after all, the mental health effects of lupus are often neglected by most people. Of course any chronic illness can cause depression in itself, and lupus can directly affect the brain, or, as is my case, it can make existing mental illness worse.

Making goals for myself has always been something I aim to do (I aim to make aims, haha) to boost my productivity, which has taken a dive since I graduated and have been back living with my parents in a small town instead of the city. As my health has gotten worse and my stamina has decreased, it makes things even harder to keep up. I know I’m the type of person who likes lists and being able to tick things off them, and I enjoy being able to see progress in numerical goals, such as how many books I’ve read this year and watching the percentage increase. Last year I had set up spreadsheets with goals in it for each month such as how many words I wrote for my novel, how many poems I wrote, how much I earned on Freerice, how many quizzes I write on FunTrivia, and so on and so forth. It helped if I was sitting about thinking I want to do something productive with my brain, then I could look at the list, and think “Oh, I didn’t do much translation this month”, and then work on that.

But eventually, the maintenance of the spreadsheet became a task on its own, and I started to neglect it to the point where I haven’t updated it for about six months. Similarly, I downloaded a To-Do list program on my computer, but setting it up with all my goals became a mammoth task in itself!

My psychologist suggested I keep a journal with my sister where on a set day each week we write down problems or things we want to sort out, such as ideas for careers. She said to write down the next small steps in each goal, or any problems we’re having in general, and then next week come back to the book and note down any progress we made. My occupational therapist keeps getting on at me for walking in and saying “I need to sort out my WHOLE LIFE.” She emphasized that I need to cut my goals down to smaller chunks: instead of “I must catch up on the entire backlog of laundry, I should sort out and wash one bag of clothes this week.” But I would write down goals when I was with her on a sheet of paper and then not really look at it until the next appointment where I would confess to having done virtually nothing!

Recently, as the weather improves, my sister and I are really getting going on spring cleaning and pushing ourselves toward productivity again. I’ve been talking with a few friends fairly recently as well about setting small goals instead of large ones that we’re less likely to embark upon never mind complete very soon. It is so difficult balancing physical and mental health, and there’s just no point in me getting geared up in a session with my therapists and saying “Yes, I want to sort everything out, I’ll make a massive list of goals and actually do them”, and then find in the coming days that my body’s not having it like that!

I believe that actually more can get done with many small goals than if you wait until the mood or right conditions take you for a larger goal. To use tidying the room as an example, I find that it takes a long time until I can even face a session of a big tidy up, and if I spend a few hours on that, I’m going to be paying for it for a long time, and so I can’t keep it up as regularly; usually by the next time I manage to go for a long session again, the room has recovered most of the mess from last time, so no progress is made! More can get done if I say to myself that I will tidy for 10-15 minutes a day, for example, or set a specific goal such as “Sort out the bookshelf” and only do that even if I feel up to more. This means that I will be a lot more likely to do another task the next day. So it seems kind of paradoxical, but I think this method works for me, and more gets done with smaller tasks than large ones.

So, for some inspiration, I thought I would start committing to small goals on this blog. I find that I’m more likely to carry things out if there’s someone I have to come to and say “No, I didn’t actually bother with that this week”! I’ve decided to simply set five goals each Sunday (happily I was busy yesterday categorizing my 300 DVDs into alphabetical order to write this post yesterday; they’re now filed away in the cupboard instead of my desk so I have a semblance of a working space!), with no numerical component: it won’t be “Write ____ words for my novel” this week, but simply “Work on the novel”, even if this is only 100 words, or Hell, even one! It won’t be “Complete the crochet project this week” but “Work on it”.

This is a nice combination of both therapists’ suggestions, I think, and I believe it will help boost my productivity long-term more than the things I’ve tried previously (which often work great in the short-term but it’s hard to keep up). I think as well, even though some of the goals will end up things I would have done in the week anyway, marking it up as “completing a goal” will boost my self-esteem and feeling that I’m getting things done! I’m not going to keep track of how many I complete and how many I fail; I want each week to be a clean slate. I am quite a meticulous person with perfectionist tendencies (see above with the DVDs; I have spreadsheets of my novel’s word counts, a four-page one for my books, haha) and wanting to tick off goals each week will hopefully spur me into things. We’ll see!