Just One Anna – Still Too Many Hobbies

So here’s a problem. I have three… okay four… okay five main “hobbies” (not crafts, but organizations and people) that I spend time on. I devote every Friday night to study group, every Saturday night and every other Sunday afternoon to D&D. I devote an occasional weekend, plus crafting time, to SCA. I take voice lessons every Tuesday. And I play video games on weeknights and most Saturday afternoons. All of these things take time. I want to be good at all of them. I want to keep doing all of them – or, in the case of the SCA, increase my involvement (I miss my SCA people).

However, there are only two non-work nights in a week. And I’m committed pretty much all weekend some weekends. And I have friends and people who are counting on me at all of these things. And I LIKE doing all of these things, and want to keep doing them, or do them more.

But… I can’t. This week I need to prepare handouts for study group, write a ritual for study group, read for study group, do my wizard chores in WoW, and finish rolling up a new pathfinder character for our Outrageous Dinosaur Campaign. I also need to continue to clean out my craft room so I can use it for SCA crafts again. My Sunday D&D character could use a few hours spent on background work, plus I need to work on her gear with our DM since we’re getting to a break point and I need to spend some cash on upgrades. My WoW characters could all stand to have some stories written about them. At least I can practice singing in the car.

And really, it’s gotten to the point where I’m just so overwhelmed that I don’t do anything, and then I feel like a flake for not doing what I said I was going to do.

So in the quest to make some serious decisions about my hobbies in 2015 (since “is it fun” is way too broad a category), I am going to try to prioritize for things with tangible results (not necessarily physical, but tangible) and skills that make me a better human. If it makes me more creative, more skilled, more compassionate, more thoughtful, more spiritual, or more knowledgeable, I’m all in. This puts study group and SCA and voice lessons higher up on the list than D&D and video games, but will hopefully leave me time for all of them, because they all tick at least one of the above boxes.

And no, I’m not quitting anything. No flailing at me. Just … making myself some priorities. We’ll see how well they stick.

So far, it’s working pretty well. When I have the energy, I’m doing more productive things, and when I don’t, I’m farming up transmog gear in WoW. Not a bad situation all around.

2013 Post Mortem

It’s been awhile since I posted anything here. Almost a year, in fact, though I visit my own website to remember my own recipes pretty frequently (I think this makes me a dork, but whatever). Anyway, back two years ago, I saw TJ’s post, inspired by Sundry‘s, and I figured the internet was nothing if not a haven for creative borrowing. So I’m creatively borrowing. Again.

2013 Recap

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Deadlifts.

Actually weightlifting in general is new for me. I also walked 500 miles this year (and then promptly quit tracking, and that was back in October, so I have no idea how far I actually walked).

I also got better at using my words to stand up for myself in constructive ways, and asking for what I need from people who are close to me. This isn’t really “new” (I was good at it as a kid), but it’s something I’m relearning.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I made resolutions last year, at the beginning of what I now recognize was a manic swing. Resolution making when manic isn’t always wise, but these are the things I did resolve to do, and how I did at it:

  • Eat out only once per week – Fairly successful. We average one night out per week, sometimes less. 
  • Blog once per week. – Total Failure. Whatever. I blogged at another blog WAY more often than that, so I’m okay with not blogging here. I may or may not blog here more this year, now that my commitments elsewhere are less.
  • Walk at least 1 mile, three times per week. Reasonable success, if you count “work out” as walking. I completed three six-week workout challenges where I worked out 6 days a week, and other than taking pretty much all of December off, I did okay at this goal.
  • Spend at least one night per week reading. Reasonable success. I read 24 books this year, and am in the middle of #25 and 26 right now (both mythology books). I didn’t read as evenly as “one night a week”, but I did read a lot more, which was the purpose of the goal. New goal? Binge read less, habit read more.
  • Spend at least one evening per week doing a craft or hobby  Total Failure. 2013 will be known as the Year of the Moth, which happened because my yarn stash was so horribly neglected that I didn’t even go in the room it was kept in for the better part of 6 months, and am now throwing out hundreds of dollars in wool that is infested. It’s bad. 2013 will be better because I have some project deadlines approaching.
  • Meditate at least 10 minutes, two days a week Reasonable success – while I lost momentum in December, I was better about meditating this year. 
  • Unfuck my house at least once a week  We’ll go with reasonable success on this one too. While my house isn’t Better Homes and Gardens ready, it’s company ready most of the time, and while I don’t vacuum often enough, it’s nothing I can’t deal with. 2013 goal is to be better at all three steps of doing the dishes (Wash, Dry, and PUT IT AWAY, DAMMIT)

Whether I make any actual resolutions for next year remains to be seen. My guess is that I won’t – or if I do, they will be smaller, more important things.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5. What countries did you visit?

None!

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

I’m honestly not sure on this one. I’d like to be better about keeping up with my relationships, and I’d like to either make peace with my commute or find a new job. (I’d prefer the former, but the latter could be exciting too).

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No dates, but a couple of milestones – the day I reached Rivendell was pretty huge, the day I found Nerd Fitness and the day I found Go Kaleo (and the Eat the Food Facebook group), the day I got my dumbbells. The day I finally found a new therapist was pretty monumental. A few other days I’d rather not talk about here, but they were pretty huge too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Aside from some personal (private) achievements this year, my biggest achievement is probably going from not being able to pick up the box that my dumbbells shipped in to being able to easily deadlift 80 lbs, with the rest of my lifts trailing not too far behind. I can not do a pull up (yet), but I am okay with that.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Sticking with my last answer for this one – I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer to this question. There are some things I did that didn’t go as well as I’d like, but overall, I handled 2013 proactively and with as much grace as I could muster, and I’m pretty proud of that, even if it was kind of ugly sometimes. My marriage struggled for part of this year, but I think we’re going in a good direction again.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

My biggest medical breakthrough this year was getting on a medication for neuropathic pain, which sent me from barely making it through a simple walking workout to doing bodyweight circuits and heavy lifting. While this isn’t a new illness, it was a huge breakthrough in my EDS treatment, and has resulted in a significantly improved quality of life.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Hands down, the reindeer costume I bought for my car in December. It’s so cute! My car has a nose! And jingle bells!

On a more serious note, the set of 50lb adjustable dumbbells. They weren’t cheap, but I’ve used them for 3 months, which means they’ve paid for themselves in gym membership fees. And I’m not even close to outgrowing them except for the deadlift, so we’ll see where I go from there.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage (duh), with travel and books the other two big categories.

13. What did you get really excited about?

I struggled a lot with anhedonia this year, so there wasn’t a lot of really exciting things going around. I didn’t even really get into the holidays. I suppose my one big excitement was going to Feathermeet in Seattle in July, and getting to meet up with My People again. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Oh, and watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with my dad. That was pretty cool.

Also getting to participate in the Hand of Lothar storyline with my Feathermoon friends. Which I am still excited about, because it is still going on!

So that’s three things I got excited about. Not too bad, really, all things considered.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Caro Emerald’s “Back it up”

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? about the same
– thinner or fatter? same weight, much nicer ass (squat booty, ftw!)
– richer or poorer? about the same

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Meditation, spiritual seeking, and self care. Also writing. And playing the piano and knitting. Basically I wish I’d done more stuff that wasn’t mooning around on the internet because my brain is fried from work. If I’m going to moon around on the internet, I might as well at least be writing stories with my friends, right?

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Doing nothing, while wishing I wanted to be doing something (especially something I used to enjoy).

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family at my parents’ new house in Ft Worth. It was fun, but a little more crazy than I was prepared to handle. I’m still recovering. (And no, the Fart Piano did not come home with me.)

19. What was your favorite TV program?

No idea. The TV program I watched the most of would be the Astros games. Does that count?

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Hands down, Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles, though Seannan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon was a close second. I’ve a new genre to explore (Urban Fantasy)! For 2014, I’m looking forward to my friend’s debut novel Night Owls and reading more Seannan McGuire (and Mira Grant). Also reading more mythology. I’m on a serious mythology kick.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I didn’t listen to very much new music this year, and if anything, I spent more time listening to Audio Books (in my car) than I did listening to music. This is unusual, and I hope 2014 is more musical.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I saw only one film this year, so it gets to be my favorite (and it’d probably be my favorite anyway): The Hobbit. (Yes, I know it has problems, and we can discuss them another time. But I was highly entertained by both Hobbit films, and am looking to go watch Desolation of Smaug again on my own in the coming week or so)

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 29, and I did… nothing? I don’t remember, so whatever it was, it wasn’t particularly memorable.

Also, I am turning 30 this year, and this is your warning, people who know me – I do not like surprises. AT ALL. Do not plan me a surprise party. What’s AT the party can be a surprise, but I do not want to be jumped out at, unless you want me to have a panic attack. Please do not give me a panic attack in your attempt to help me celebrate being older. (Just say “we’re planning a party for you on the 3rd at 6pm, but we don’t want to tell you about it, please show up dressed in something casual with comfy shoes” or whatever. This way I can be prepared to be surprised. Everyone will be happier that way.)

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Finding the right therapist sooner. I’d like to say “not being crazy in the brainpan”, but I’m not sure that’s one of those things I can really change.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

“Doesn’t fit”. My clothes this year have gone from too tight, to too big, to too tight again, as my body has changed shape. Pants that were too tight in the waist became big enough to pull off without unbuttoning them, followed by becoming tight in the thighs/butt and fitting again. I am overall the same size and weight that I was, but my shape has changed. Since I’m focusing on body recomposition (building muscle without losing or gaining weight), this is ideal, but it’s hell on my wardrobe. Until yesterday, I was down to one pair of work pants that fit. I went shopping, and now have some more options. Mostly I wear “professional casual” clothes – I am not a fashionista, by any stretch, and I generally wear comfy shoes and warm socks, dress slacks, and a sweater or cardigan.

26. What kept you sane?

My husband, my friends, my cats, and my family. And my new therapist. She’s pretty awesome. (And … a much better therapist than the old therapist). Also my spirituality, which underwent a lot of changes this year, in a really good (but hard to talk about) way.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.


Sometimes it takes showing someone how bad it is for them to be able to help you.

Also, never be afraid to give up an idea that is no longer serving you. You’re allowed to change your mind, your beliefs, and your thoughts. It’s very freeing to accept that.

New Beginnings

This week starts my 8th week at my new job. In some ways, the new routine has become normal. In others… not so much.

For one thing, the schedule is radically different from working at the bookstore – not so much the hours (though I am working 9+ hour days), but the hours plus the commute. 30 miles each way translates to quite a long time in traffic, even if I shift my hours very early. Right now I leave at 5:45 and get to work at 6:30.

Trial and error shows that every 15 minutes later I leave, adds half an hour to my arrival time. So if I leave at 6, I get to work at 7, 6:15 is 7:30. I’ve not left any later than 6:15, because to get to work by 9, I’d leave at 7, and that’s just ridiculous.

On the way home, it has taken me anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours and 15 minutes. Instead of commuting home on the major highway (I45, for the people who know the Houston area), I take a side road that used to be a highway. A side road with a max speed of 50mph, some areas as low as 35 mph, and lots of stop lights. Oddly, taking that route, I’ll get home in an hour every day.

The morning commute isn’t so bad. I listen to the news or to an audio book (Right now I’m making my way through Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates), and it’s just become part of the morning. It’s the commute home at the end of the day that gets to me. Working 9 or so hours leaves me pretty mentally worn out, so having to focus enough to safely drive home is exhausting.

I’m usually home by 5:30, which is pretty good, especially now that it’s closer to summer and there’s lots of daylight left. With a 5am wakeup though, and as much sleep as I need to keep my joint pain under control, I’m getting ready for bed around 8:30pm, so my evenings are pretty short. My goal is to be in the bed, ready to sleep by 9:30.

Not a lot of time in the evenings, especially when you add in cooking dinner! So that’s been another big adjustment – my free time just became a LOT more precious. Everything I do in the evenings has a timer that’s constantly ticking down to 8:30 and getting in the shower.

I’ve essentially stopped gaming at this point. After spending all day staring at a computer, when I get home, I don’t really want to look at a computer for that long. I’ll still play a bit on the weekends, or do a few odds and ends, but I’m definitely not going to be raiding anymore. (I’m actually feeling pretty lonely without the gaming community that I was used to.)

It’s been a challenge from a mental health standpoint as well, since I’ve had to create all new routines, and I’m having to fight to carve out time to take care of that sort of thing.

I don’t really feel like I’ve got this all figured out yet, even after 8 weeks. I suppose that’s not all that unreasonable, given the huge change that this has been for me (and for SSH). It’s certainly been a mental shift, even if it’s a good one from a career growth standpoint.

As for blogging, I haven’t yet figured out how this will fit into things. I want to keep writing, but it suffers from the same problem as gaming (computer time in the evenings), but I would like to keep writing. I’ve honestly struggled with finding anything to write about though, which might seem surprising to anyone who knows how verbose I can be. We’ll see how it goes as I get more used to the new schedule.

It’s been a time of wait and see. And it will, as best I can tell, continue to be that way. So I’ll just wait and see.

2011 Recap, of sorts

I have been struggling with how I wanted to do a “New Year” type post this year. There’s kind of a lot to sum up, but at the same time, it’s hard to place it all into context. Then I saw TJ’s post, inspired by Sundry‘s, and I figured the internet was nothing if not a haven for creative borrowing. So I’m creatively borrowing.

2011 Recap

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?

A lot of therapy related things. A lot of self-compassion related things. I also had the same job in January 2011 as I had in December 2011, which hasn’t happened before.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I don’t really make “resolutions”, or haven’t in the past. My one goal for 2011 was to get better at asking for help when I need it, and to be more compassionate with myself, as an extension of taking care of my mental health, and I think I did both of those things pretty well.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


My best friend gave birth to a little boy, Caden, in October, and my coworker had her second little boy in mid-December.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My great-aunt Helen (Auntie) passed away in April, and a close friend of my family passed away very suddenly in December.

5. What countries did you visit?

None other than my own this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

A better paying, career-oriented job, and more mental stability.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

No dates, but a couple of weeks and month-long spans are pretty well cemented, thanks to pharmacy roulette. I’m not sure exactly which date my doctors changed me from “Major Depression” to Bipolar Disorder (Classic, Mixed type), but the resulting change in medications was pretty dramatic and created a space where I’m now functioning better than I have in years.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


I stuck with therapy, held down my job, and managed to stick it through all the craziness. I also hosted Thanksgiving for 10 and Christmas for 8, both of which I’m proud of, AND I threw parties for Halloween and New Years.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m honestly not sure I have a good answer to this question. There are some things I did that didn’t go as well as I’d like, but overall, I handled 2011 proactively and with as much grace as I could muster, and I’m pretty proud of that, even if it was kind of ugly sometimes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Ongoing mental struggles aside, 2011 was the year of figuring out my joint pain. I was diagnosed with a very mild case of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (either classic or hypermobility) and am now operating 90-95% joint pain free most days. This is a big improvement over June, where I could barely walk and doing simple things like writing with a pencil or brushing my hair was excruciating.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Technically I bought my iPhone at the very tail end of 2010, but that’s probably been the best gadget of the year.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Mortgage (duh), though I did also spend a good bit of money on clothing, thanks to the weight gain.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Star Wars: The Old Republic, Updating my Laptop, hosting holidays and parties, my little brother’s graduation with his Master’s degree. Having people come visit, especially my family. Lots of small things, really.

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Yael Naim’s New Soul

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? much happier, though I still fight the depression and anxiety battles on a regular basis
– thinner or fatter? quite a bit fatter, thanks to the medicines
– richer or poorer? about the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Meditation, spiritual seeking, and self care. Also, going to the gym (which is hard, because I don’t get that “woo I feel awesome!” thing from exercise). Also playing the piano.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


Doing nothing, while wishing I wanted to be doing something (especially something I used to enjoy)

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family, here at my house and then up with my brother and sister in law in Waco. It was wonderful, even if it did push the boundaries of my “amount of craziness I can handle” levels.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Um. I don’t watch much TV? So probably Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I really liked David Allen’s Get Things Done, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Wherever You Go There You Are, and rereading some of my favorite children’s and young adult books.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I didn’t listen to very much new music this year, and if anything, I spent more time listening to Audio Books (in my car) than I did listening to music. This is unusual, and I hope 2012 is more musical.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I saw only one film this year, so it gets to be my favorite (and it’d probably be my favorite anyway): The Muppets

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 27, and I had my mom here visiting. For my birthday, we put in my spring garden, and it was immensely fun.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Finding the right meds sooner. I’d like to say “not being crazy in the brainpan”, but I’m not sure that’s one of those things I can really change.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

I vacillate back and forth between “eclectic graduate student” and “nerdy bookstore clerk”. I’m slowly learning to be more grown up, and I’ve branched out most of the time from t-shirts and jeans, or at least I’ve started wearing fun and geeky t-shirts (mostly from Threadless or ThinkGeek) instead of just plain solid colored ones. I hope 2012 sees me learning more about style and putting together outfits, because I really enjoy doing it.

26. What kept you sane?

My husband, my friends, my cats, and my family. And my therapist. She’s pretty awesome.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.


That if you’re comfortable sharing your stories, it’s almost always worth doing so – supportive people are everywhere, and I’ve found so many to offer support and empathy that it’s made everything so much easier. So many people don’t talk about the ugly parts of their past or themselves, and I’ve found that sharing that – even though it makes me more vulnerable – nearly always brings me closer to the people around me who care and who matter.