Mid-Year Review

Early on, I learned my nemesis’ secret: stealth. It came in undetected, like a thief in the night, to steal not only my time and health, but also my strength, courage, and determination.

My nemesis thought he could steal 2019 from me. But all he got away with was a bit of tissue from my tongue and my neck, a few (unneeded) pounds from my midsection, and a bit of my ability to concentrate or focus.

Let’s review what he did not steal from me:

  • My avocation, in the form of my job. The year started off with more than 30 days off the job, thanks to politicians and The Big Orange One in DC. But despite their best efforts, I still feel quite strongly about our National Parks. Since radiation ended, I have met every deadline, every report, project, and task thrown at me. I am tired, yes, but at least I kept up. There is still much to be done.
  • My background in the sciences and my desire to read even the most tedious data. I am still happy to discuss with people just how humans impact our climate too, even if people want to live in denial. It all has to do with soil and water, systems we have really screwed up. The facts are staring us square in the face; we just need to grow up as a species and admit what we have done.
  • My health overall. Cancer is a bitch, but I still have excellent blood pressure, no signs of heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes, or just about anything else I was tested for. And believe me, I have been tested. Cancer has left me feeling numb and very UNenergetic. But those two things are attributable to the liquid diet, lack of solid food for weeks on end, and side effects of radiation. I am down from a size 16/18 in pants to a size 12 at the moment. My doctors kept threatening feeding tubes, but I resisted and I am better for it. 45 days out of radiation and I can taste most food again and am looking forward to trying new foods when I get to New York in 20 days.
  • My creativity and my desire to make things for myself. In fact, while going through radiation and staying at Hope Lodge, I designed a new scarf/wrap pattern which I hope to have ready for publication this autumn. I am in the middle of two new sweaters and a new pair of socks for myself, and a new fair isle glove design for my Mountain Woolies line that I sell.
  • My love of the written word. It seems if I sit down for more than 2-3 minutes, I fall asleep. Hoping this will pass, I have started reading the next book on my 2019 reading list, and have my friend BJ as my reading inspiration! She is cranking through her booklist like a champ. I have perhaps 10 more books waiting on my list to be read by December 31.
  • My goals of paying off my debt and buying myself some things I have needed for years. Well, I have a bit of medical bills now that I wasn’t expecting in January, but thanks to my saved up sick and annual leave (most park folks have no problem saving up leave because we are so short-handed that we never take leave), I was able to cover all of my absences for months with leave and I never missed a paycheck. So I was able to keep up with paying my pre-existing bills and that debt is declining as I’d hoped. The medical bills are on a payment plan and should be done in less than 13 months. Additionally, I have a couple new pieces of furniture for my apartment and I still get to take my vacation to New York that I hoped for back in January. Oh, and thanks to the weight loss, I got to buy some new clothes too. 😉

So suck on that, Cancer. You bit me, but I won.

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Shutdown 2018-2019, Day #11: A New Year

It is January 1st, 2019. Last night (this morning), a friend and I rang in the New Year in sweats with a funny movie, an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and plates full of yummy snacks. And a flute or two of bubbly pink moscato. 😉

I was in bed by about 1:30 a.m. and read for a bit. I am working through Sophie Hannah’s (relatively) new Poirot mysteries, which I am enjoying immensly:

At 2 a.m., as I was shutting off the lamp on my bedside table, I heard one of my friend’s daughters come home safely and head to bed. Always a reassuring sound.

Then I woke up at 7 a.m. with pain in my right jaw. (This is on-going, so I won’t go into details here.) I got up and cleaned my friend’s kitchen. Dishes are done, counters wiped, coffee pot ready to go for the morning.

A nice calm way to start off the year. And hopefully, coming down to an empty sink and dishes drying in the drainer will help my friend start the year right too.

Now, on to the business at hand.

2018 brought some changes to my life, with a job promotion and a move to a different state. Given the rather political nature of my job and the agency I work for, what happens every day in Washington, D.C., often affects me and/or my job directly. I cannot get away from it. People tell me to not worry about things I can’t control. That is just a load of bear poop, in my opinion. Of course I should worry. I am forced on furlough and will be without steady income for the near future. Through no fault of my own. This is my life!

But as I was reviewing some of the steps I have laid out for myself in my new bullet journal, I found that I do have one bit of peace: I have the start of a plan. My plan is NOT new year’s resolutions, but more like specific steps and a roadmap, with clearly defined end goals. I just need to have the courage to wake up every day and take one step.

Towards everything I am visualizing for 2019, regardless of the quagmire surrounding me.

One step to start rising above.

One step forward every day.

Shutdown 2018, Day #5: Organization and Goals

I started this morning with the reminder that I have nothing to do. I can’t go to my job (thank you, Congress and the White House), so I need to come up with a plan for my time. I’m used to going and going, between my full-time job, knitting orders, hikes or snowshoes (in appropriate weather) and trying to keep up with the people in my life.

For years now, I have been writing in these notebooks:

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I record everything from knitting pattern ideas, quotes that inspire me, daily to-do lists, grocery lists, and everything else I need to remember or reference again. Most of the time, I don’t even compose at the keyboard when I write and therefore put actual pen to paper, unless I’m just putting a few paragraphs on a blog post. Writing helps me sort out my thoughts, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed or full of ideas (and therefore can’t focus on any one thing). So everything is just put down in these books chronologically, as things occur.

But over the past month, I’ve been looking into ways to get myself more organized. Even though I write things down, I still have to flip between pages in my black notebooks to find what I’m looking for at the moment.

I have been reading about the bullet journaling movement. Yes, to me it seems like a movement. Like soccer moms who try to go gluten-free even if they aren’t gluten-intolerant. Some of the bullet journaling stuff is just so over the top. But what if I could get – and stay – organized without the washi tape?

Since my current black notebook is nearly full, I bought a new journal – an actual bullet journal. And a couple of new pens. That’s as far as I am going with the accessories and color-coding, although I will probably write some times in black pens as well. I’m surrounded by black pens.

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I spent my morning thinking about what I need to put in my bullet journal for 2019 and how I will organize my book – and what I will still put in my black notebooks. I decided my brainstorming for knitting and writing projects will still go in the black notebooks with blank, unlined pages. My to-do lists, annual goals, budget and linear types of information will go in my bullet journal. I set up my debt reduction plan and financial goals, as well as other big-picture goals for the year and started my calendar pages.

As I travel through my journey this year, and I figure out what works for me, I’ll share some of my pages and hints that have helped me get and stay organized – and accomplish my goals.

 

Saying Goodbye to Elvis

Today we said goodbye to a friend. A couple of my good friends here in Denver had to make a very hard decision this last week. Their dog, Elvis, is almost 14 years old and was having trouble walking around. He also had bladder control issues that developed very quickly over the last month or so. At his age, he might live a few more months, but with all of his pain and problems, it would be a rough few months. The decision was made to put him down.

My friend called me this morning, voice cracking and in tears, and asked if I would meet them at the local city park for their last walk with Elvis. Of course I said yes. So I met up with the three of them this afternoon and walked, talked, and fed Elvis as many treats as he wanted. Today was “not a day to use the N-O word”, so Elvis walked without a leash (he couldn’t really move too fast either way), and was allowed to sniff his way through the park. Even the prairie dogs were not much of an issue. He just stood watching them, sniffing the air, but never made a move to chase them.

It was sad to give Elvis his last hug. He was always happy to see me walk in their front door. Even when he couldn’t walk very well, his tail was always wagging at me.

Today reminded me of the passing of time, change, and hard decisions. Life has a way of forcing decisions on us. For me, even the right decisions are very hard. And 2014 is starting out to be a very different year for me, when compared with the last few.

For one, I have moved back to the big, bad city for a career move. I miss the mountains and wide open spaces more than words can express. City life is confining, expensive and moves way too fast. My current job can be a bit taxing on my brain as it relates to data and details, many of which I must retain for only about 5 minutes before moving on to the next. I find myself taking out my knitting at lunch in order to slow down my mind and look at something different for a few brief moments.

I walk to work some days, just to get fresh air, but it seems that people driving down the roads are out to hit me. It doesn’t have the safety of being alone amongst the trees. All I see around me are apartment buildings, office buildings, zooming cars and people staring at whatever they are holding. Some days, I feel like the zombie apocalypse has already begun.

How will I feel in a couple of months when I walk to work and there are no wildflowers around me to catch my eye? To that end, I have begun to educate myself more fully on American – and World – History. A large component of National Park Service sites are related to our collective and individual histories and cultures, and while I might know more than some, I am by no means well-educated in terms of history and civics. Botany and ecology, yes. History as NOT told by old white guys? Not so much. I feel like this is going to be a component of my future, and I am trying to bring myself more up to speed.

Of course, the next logical topic is politics. I work for the government, and this job is getting me slightly closer to the game in Washington, D.C. than my time in the parks ever did. I made some comment on Facebook last week that I had power and people in D.C. noticed. While I can’t really discuss the details I found in the data I was working with, I find it funny that someone jumped to the ‘corruption’ conclusion. Or that I was involved in any so-called ‘corruption’. Um, no. Nothing that interesting at all. Just an HR mistake that caused someone to miss out on part of their due wages.

Corruption? Dear god, what do people think of me?

Some of the political stereotyping and memes I see posted and re-posted on Facebook every day make me want to get more into this political game. I’m sure I would get eaten alive. But I want to help make good decisions about our country’s natural resources. And frankly, I think both sides are so screwed up that we shouldn’t follow either side. We need to think and act rationally, which neither major party is doing right now (again, my opinion). We need to make decisions that are not based on money, but on the fact that people need clean air and clean water to sustain life. Without life, what is the point of money anyhow? You can’t take it all with you, right?

So maybe that will be something else I pursue during this year of change. History, politics and new ideas. Hopefully, Elvis had a last good day in the park with us today as he encouraged us to start again.