Sunday, January 5, 2014

Day 5: Letter to a Loved One

Write a letter to a loved one. Chances are high that there is someone in your life that you’d like to say something important to. Maybe it’s a wife, a parent, a grandparent you never really got to say goodbye to…take the time today to write that out. It can be positive, negative, or anywhere in between. The beauty of this letter is that you aren’t sending it in the mail, you’re simply “voicing” something that needs to be said. Should you choose to share it later, that’s okay, but you don’t have to. Doing this can be a great way to heal anger that’s been pent up inside, or to release a pressure valve of sadness we may have been harboring over something lost.

 All honesty, I'm going to put this one in the "private stuff, so I won't be sharing this one publicly" category. Back tomorrow though.

Bright side, here is the first update on the items I mentioned during days 3-4.

Reading: How To Do Things With Words by J. L. Austin

Calorie Count, 2013-01-04: 2,525.
Definitely high; I'm shooting to keep it under 2,000, preferably closer to 1,800.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Day 4: Negative Habit

Via negativia; today, pick a habit that you'd like to eliminate from your life. Bad habits are like armpits, we all have 'em and they all stink. Whether cutting soda out of your life, or putting a stop to your porn addiction; either way, as with yesterday, think about the steps you'll take in order to put the kibosh on that negative habit. And again, also think about how you'll keep yourself accountable to that goal.

My negative habit: constant snacking.

I've been trying to lose weight for a long time. Every time I try to lose weight, regardless of what my starting weight is, I always reach this one particular weight, and I suddenly stop and can't go any farther. I've been stuck right around this weight once again for the last four to six months, and I think I've identified the primary cause of my sticking point: I am a constant snacker. If I see it, I have to eat it. Sometimes it's just a banana, sometimes it's a bowl of M&Ms, sometimes it's a bag of pretzels, but if it's available to me, I have an incredibly hard time avoiding it. And conversely, it's a constant craving. If I'm not eating, I'm thinking about where I can find something to eat.

Steps I'd like to try:
1. Track what I eat. I used to do this with MyFitnessPal, and it was enlightening to see just how bad each item of food was, and it hit me with a helpful dose of self-shaming to see it all racked up. I even found that when I was about to eat something, I would think about having to record it later, and I sometimes felt enough guilt that I put the food back.

2. Snack consciously and deliberately. Put a snack on a plate and put the container away. Record it immediately.

3. Snack on things that take time. I'm thinking oranges, sliced apples, shelled nuts, etc. Anything that can be eaten one piece at a time as each piece is prepared. If it takes time and I eat it as I'm peeling or shelling or slicing, it will will give my body a chance to digest it and help me feel more satisfied. Or so says Jillian Michaels; whatever, I'll give it a shot.

4. Drink so much more water. I've heard this, and I used to do it. Drink a cup of water when craving snacks. Sometimes it's filling, sometimes it's merely healthy. It definitely helps prevent health problems. Seems like a good idea.

5. Avoid salty stuff. Salt leads to more cravings. Not sure why, but that's my experience.

6. Avoid excessively sweet things. Candy, ice cream, anything really high in sugary sweetness. It definitely leads to more cravings.

These are a good starting place. My MyFitnessPal username is kenbellows; anyone who wants can help check up on me. Add me as a friend on there if you'd like. I'll also try to post a calorie count here each day.

This will be good.

Day 3: Positive Habit

Decide on one positive habit you’d like to implement in your life. Whether seemingly mundane (like flossing) or perhaps life-altering (exercising every day), think of something you’d like to add to your life that will be beneficial. Then, think about the steps you’ll take to get there, and how you’ll keep yourself accountable.

My positive habit (besides journaling): Reading.

I love reading. I have since I was a kid. But recvently I've found it very difficult to find the time to read. I truth, I tend to choose watching something on a screen over reading it in a book, because it takes less mental stimulation. But that's terrible, and I've felt the effects of it.

I would love to spend a half hour to an hour reading before bed each evening. It calms, collects, and destresses. I think it's a great routine to have, and a good time to have it, so I think I'll run with it. Plus, there's plenty of books I've been meaning to read for a long time.

Steps to get there:
1. Make a starting booklist. Having a set of books I can't wait to get started with will be motivating.

2. Begin by reading for a minimum of five minutes every evening. If I can simply get into the routine of turning a few pages before bed, I can begin increasing to a comfortable time period as I progress. But for now, five minutes is good.

3. For accountability's sake, make a note of what I've read the previous evening in my daily journal here. Include favorite quotes or moments from the text, plus any notes on what's working or not working for me.

4. After a week or two, up the minimum to ten minutes. In another wek or two, fifteen minutes. Work up to a half hour minimum.

- Based on what I've read, I should avoid anything particularly stimulating just before sleep, though I think the main reason for that is to avoid turning pages late into the night. For now I don't think that will be a problem, since I have trouble reading anything before bed. But I'll keep it in mind.
- Perhaps a good solution to the above would be to avoid, for now, books with a storyline and to instead prefer books of philosophy. I enjoy reading philosophy, and it would be good to get through a few of them. Plus, I think philosophy is often best read in small chunks, to allow for better digestion.
- I need to take notes while reading, and perhaps review them the next morning. This will give me a place to put great quotes, question or thoughts I have on the text, etc., and will allow for better comprehension, which is invaluable to my scattered brain. I'll have to keep a notebook next to my bed.

I will make a secondary post on this with my booklist.

Day 2: Six Word Memoir

Continuing to work within that idea of constraints, try to write a 6-word memoir of your life so far. This idea is rumored to have originated from Papa Hemingway. The benefit is that with only six words, you really have to filter your life to what you deem most important. It may take you many iterations, but you’ll end up with something that speaks largely to who you are, if not in toto, then at least in this moment in time.

My six word memoir:

I wooed her with card tricks. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1: Why?

This blog is initially intended to be short-term, in response to the AOM 31-day journaling challenge released today, January 1, 2014. Link:

Today's prompt:
Start with answering the question of why you want to journal, and beyond that, why you decided to embark on this 31-day experience. Write out what you’d like to get from journaling.
I have for a long time thought journaling would be a good thing to do. It's a way to remember great stories, to explore my thoughts, and to learn about myself in teh process. I've often found that I think through writing, and that while writing I come across ideas I didn't know I had, or that I in fact did not have but discover in the moment. It's incredible how that works; get me started and I'lll come up with all kinds of crazy things.

I'm participating in the 31 day challenge for pretty much the exact reasons proposed in the post. I've been meaning to but always had a very difficult time finding somthing to write about. So having a prompt will be very helpful, and having a framework within which to work and a specific goal to accomplish will keep me on track, I hope.

I've always enjoyed writing, and more than that, I've enjoyed it when people read what I write. I believe myself to be a relatively well-spoken and well-written individual, and at the risk of egotism, I think I can write entertainingly and engagingly when I have a reason. I do have some evidence to support this supposition in the form of compliments, but of course that's only anecdotal evidence. The real experiment would be to write a book and see if it sells. Perhaps journaling would be a good way to begin whetting my appetite for a longer-term engagement with writing. Maybe one of these days people will want to read what I write. That's the hope, I suppose.

I also see this challenge, with its specific prompts and timeline, as a very low risk entry point into blogging/journaling. I'll be releasing it daily to the world, but if no one reads it, oh well. I haven't wasted anything, lost anything, or failed at anything; this is primarily for me, and since I'm answering a given prompt, I feel somewhat less responsible for the content, if that makes any sense. Of course it's still my content, and I do feel responsible for its quality, but I'm not deciding what to write about, so there's less pressure to make sure it's really something worth writing about, etc.

At any rate, bear with me. I'll try to provide something worth reading.