Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: December 2023

2023 – where I showed up

The other day, I heard someone say, “Remember Rihanna’s halftime Superbowl show? Yeah, that was this year.”

Pretty sure this happened about 5 years after February 2023

And holy effing schneikes, that did really cement in my mind how LONG of a year 2023 felt. I won’t say it was the worst year – far from it – but gosh it did feel like it cracked on for ages.

Let’s hit the highlights:

I got another shiny new promotion, and it was a really big one. Unlike the last few that came quickly, I didn’t think “I didn’t expect to be here yet” but it was really more like “I didn’t expect to be here, ever”. This one has not been without its challenges, but it’s a huge opportunity for me to continue to learn and grow and expand my ability to help great people do great things. It’s a far cry from five years ago, when I felt like I was stagnating and was really pushing myself to expand my knowledge, expertise, and responsibility, and hoo boy, what a ride it’s been since then. I’d say I’m extremely lucky, but I mean that in the way of Luck = Preparation + Opportunity. I have to give myself some credit for the hard work I’ve done to get here once I found myself in the right place at the right time.

Awww, these hopeful feets of mine would indeed run and walk a lot!

I have earned the right to run again. I’ll talk about this one more below in the goals section, but it’s worth mentioning under highlights. I weight trained consistently every month, which meant I stayed relatively uninjured so I could run every month, and I was patient and stayed at 5k for around 9 months, just building a base again, before I started stretching that further in October. Now, I’m just a few weeks away from my first double digit run and seven weeks away from running (not PRing but not limping through) a half marathon. Some days I don’t want to go, and some days aren’t the best runs ever, but after losing it for a few years, the ability to get out there and tromp around my neighborhood a few times a week is not something I will ever take for granted again.

This one may sound stilly but it was also almost half a decade in the making. After 11 seasons and over 1500 hours of playing the damn game, I won my first KIBBL Bloodbowl championship. I did it with Amazons, a team that I never quite clicked with except right at the end when I did, which was also a team that hadn’t won the league yet, so I couldn’t be accused of picking something “easy”. And then the league kind of imploded. About 8 of us left are playing half-heartedly. I’m really glad I was able to get the W before that happened. I still intend to make a damn championship shirt but the time to do it has probably reasonably passed.

We #1, finally!!!

On boxing day last year, the Muse woke me up at 2am with an idea about how to take my 250 pages of notes and 60+ videos from our D&D campaign and turn it into a book (I think at that time, I thought just one, how adorbs). This year, I finished a second-edit pass of my FIRST book, sent it off to four beta readers for feedback, and am probably about 50% through the crappy first draft version of Book 2! My writing buddy ran it through an AI program (Auto Crit) and while he simply can’t stop reminding me that HIS (half-finished) draft is clocking in at a .1% higher score than mine in one genre, we’re both around 87% which apparently is “wow, this could be a best seller” territory (take that with a shaker of salt, though I appreciate the AI buttering me up). I’m absolutely thrilled I’ve made so much progress in a year.

In all of these situations, I can see patience, persistence, and perseverance with correct prioritization to get to the potential and promise. I took something that challenged me, that I was interested in conquering, and didn’t let frustrations or setbacks defeat me. If I could look at every goal in my life that mattered under this lens, I’d have no regrets.

Oh, the Places We Went

We raced three sprint triathlons and they were all moderately successful!

First CapTex in a decade? Done and dusted.

No placement awards or unicorn performances, but no implosions or DNFs. Just good, solid racing at my current capacity. Compared to 2021 and 2022? I’ll effing take it.

And… travel! Somehow so, so, so much and not enough at the same time.

Two and a half days with this view was a nice way to end June’s EU trip.

We already have resolutions for more non-work trips next year, as you’ll notice January was the last time we had a week off, everything else was either work or a long weekend where we probably worked half the time anyway (except for the Arch trip, I was good there). More regularly scheduled non-work vacation next year!

So, the lowlights:

While I definitely handled work/life balance better than the past in terms of hours worked, I often spent too much mental energy on things I shouldn’t have dwelled on outside of those hours, and I let stress get me all riled up about dumb stuff when I just needed to make like the cucumber and be cool. Moving up so quickly has been mostly a blessing, but it has taken a huge shift in perspective which at times is challenging. It’s hard to say “damn the man” when you ARE the man. Luckily, my near future goals with this position are not to find the next place to climb, but to acclimate and become better at the job I have now. For the first time in five years, I’m not expecting a new title anytime soon and it’s actually a source of relief. While I’ve been assured I’m doing well, I’d like to feel, in my own head, like I fit what people call me now a little bit better and that will just take some time and attention.

Some of this stress was a literal physical imbalance, and I’ve been much better in the last two months since I’ve taken steps to fix it. The drawback here has been that it put about 4-5 lbs on me overnight and they haven’t gone away. I was 9-10 lbs down before that and it felt real bad having that just sliced in half by something outside of my control. Starting it around the holidays sure didn’t help either, I’ve been tracking my calories, and they surely aren’t in weight loss territory, but I should not have had an extra sack of potatoes appear on my body one week for no reason and not leave.

Also, weirdly enough, I’m not immortal and I’m starting to feel my age a little the last few months. Besides actually being on some sort of medication now, my new lenses are progressives (a little bit of “reader” glasses in the bottom), and I started taking Ginko Biloba for my memory like a grandma. I suppose that maybe it’s time at almost 45 for these things to happen, but it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.

Let’s talk specifics for my 5 yearly goals:

#1 Weigh 165 by December 31st.

Here we at right now, buff but a little extra fluff

Nope, but it’s not all bad news, as I said, I managed to shave off about 5 lbs this year. That’s a big thumbs up from previous years. I also will say that my 184-5 lbs right now is remarkably stronger, leaner, and more capable than where I was at the same weight a few years ago because of lifting. I was really consistent, missing only a few weeks of 3x week strength training this whole year (and in all cases, for good reason during travel or due to injury).

Can eat whatever I want, especially tacos. But it has to be tracked.

However, I tracked my food inconsistently. I went back and counted and I missed 14 of 52 weeks. Y’know what? 12 of those weeks were in the second half of the year, when I stopped making progress. I tell myself this all the time, but it’s worth repeating. TRACKING IS WHAT MAKES THE MAGIC HAPPEN. Even if the numbers are bad, at least we KNOW the numbers are bad and we’re motivated to take the steps to make them better.

Looks like someone needs to show up everyday and maybe I’ll get the progress I’m expecting. I’ll give myself a C grade for these efforts this year. Not a failure, but just average.

#2 Strength Over Stamina

There’s a bunch of speed related triathlon goals in here that frankly, I’m not really worried about and I’m also not worried about tracking. There will be a time when the idea of speedwork clicks again, and when it does, I’ll probably kick myself for taking this long to get back to it. However, I really needed the year to do one thing: earn the right to run again. Which I have. And it’s been glorious.

Wasn’t sure I’d ever run a 10k again but here I went on Thanksgiving!

And walking! I have learned to love the walk and also use it to increase my stamina. Should I be cycling or swimming more? Sure. But for now, I’m happy with the focus on #1 Weights, #2 Running, #3 Other Activities (including walking)

Some yearly stats on running and walking:

  • 2020 Run (141 mi), Walk (?) <- it says none, but I’m SURE I tracked some walks 😛
  • 2021 Run (204 mi), Walk (239 mi)
  • 2022 Run (135 mi), Walk (140 mi)
  • 2023 Run (310 mi), Walk (321 mi) (and I still have a few days of runs and walks to go!)
You get to see a lot of cool things walking 300+ miles!

Let me also note that in 2020 I was training for a freakin’ Ironman for 2 months before the pandemic shut it down, a half Ironman which I actually completed on that meager mileage in 2021, a 50-mile (read: 9 miles of running) triathlon in 2022, and nothing but sprints (max, 3-mile run) in 2023. The mileage up there makes a lot of sense, right?

I will give myself some kudos for aggressively recovering. My goal this year was to do two forms of recovery per day (massage boots, ice, stretch, roll), and I can’t think of many days beyond travel or extenuating circumstances where I didn’t do that. Where I could do better is not gravitate towards the same two all the time (massage boots and ice are the easiest), and while it’s better than nothing, stretching is really important and I do it the least, and using the massage foam roller gets places the boots don’t.

For my expectations, I’ll give myself a B. I was really damn consistent with weights, and my run and walk volume almost tripled last year. I hit the important stuff, and I’m above-averagely happy.

#3 Not Ignoring My Surroundings

I did things here!

  • We cleaned out the workout room, and it’s been fully usable as a cycling/weights room for all of 2023, which has really helped with strength training consistency.
  • We did the cleanout thing in the guest room, but sadly, it’s now messed up a completely different way, but that’s a project for 2024 (spoilers).
  • The office got cleared out and set up as my office/music room. It’s not 100% perfect (there are a few stray boxes I can’t seem to keep stored anywhere) but it’s my Zen place to go to work and play music instead of squeezing myself into a spot in various corners of the house in between a bunch of other random crap.
  • I mostly cleaned off the vanity in the bathroom and mostly cleaned off the bathroom counter. Something in 2024 will force this to happen so I’m happy I made progress.
  • I did a purge of all of my drawers and my giant piles of crap on top of my dresser and nightstand are gone.
  • We did a huge closet cleanout for Joel, a cleanout of the linens/sports gear, and cleaned out our shoe storage. There’s an overstuffed car full of things going to goodwill, and our closets are now again the right size instead of too small.

We did not remodel the bathroom yet, but we’re looking into options, and this will definitely be a 2024 goal, along with a few other things we plan to do with the rest of our holiday break.

I will give this a B-. I made progress but not with solid consistency. I really could show up here for like 2 hours every month to make incremental progress and be impressed with where I’m at a year from now with projects that just seem annoyingly overwhelming but really aren’t.

#4 Relaxing Hobbies:

My intention here is not necessarily to aggressively progress here, but to remind myself there’s stuff I like doing way better than binge watching shows I’ve seen a million times and doomscrolling social media. Occasionally, one needs to do that, and it’s totally okay. However, most of the time I’m much happier after a photo edit session, playing a game or the guitar, or hitting submit on a travel blog, so I need to remind my brain to gravitate towards that sustained hit dopamine of monofocusing creatively vs the quick, easy hit of being force fed content someone else created.

Krause Springs 2023 pics were edited in record time, but somehow I have 2000 pics from 2022 left

Photo editing/travel blogs: Paris 2022 continues to be that project I just can’t get back to, for some reason, but I’m otherwise caught up to trips through August this year. I’m working on some smaller ones before I tackle the 1000+ pictures I took at the Louve only. As I finish the sets, I’ve been pretty good at adding a travel blog for them, even if it’s months later.

Painting: Ehhhh. I finished a cool set of geometric paintings, but it took me 4 months. I painted the Eiffel Tower and some ornaments and probably some minis too. But… I could definitely paint more. I have some hurdles here with feeling like I have the space to do it, and also, I find the time that Joel spending painting is my writing time instead, so creativity is happening. But I do love slapping acrylic on canvas, so I need to make sure it happens SOMETIMES.

Guitar really fell off second half of the year, to the point where I didn’t even play the Christmas song I know during the Christmas season, because I didn’t play. I did learn a new song this year. I’m not sure if I have problems to solve here or habits to make, or whether it’s just okay if I pick up the guitar when I feel like it.

Meditation was inconsistently consistent (it was good most of the year but fell off occasionally and definitely in the last month). That’s one of those I need to re-up for 2024.

Playing Games was fair to middling. This was real slow most of the year besides Bloodbowl, but I did pick up a few new games (Peglin, Baulder’s Gate III, Persona 5) and with the Steam Deck I got for Christmas, I anticipate good things here in 2024 with the ability to play the Steam Deck anywhere.

I do have to realize I only have so much time and attention without stressing myself out about it, and thinking about how I spent my time over the year, I cycled through my relaxing hobbies, prioritizing what was fun and made me happy throughout the year. Only the type-A flower sniffing champion would give themselves a grade on doing relaxing hobbies. So, let’s get on with it, shall we? If I was pressed, probably a B.

#5 Write a Book or Two

I won’t belabor the point since it’s in my super-highlights of the year, but I’m so glad the Muse decided to give me inspiration for Christmas last year. It’s like one of those pieces of me I lost in 2020 finally came back and I feel a bit more whole again. A+, if I can’t give myself an A+++. I’m thrilled with my progress and even more so my motivation to continue happily plugging away at these books until they’re done.

Last year, my words for 2022 were promise, potential, and priority.

For 2023? I think I’m going to break that tradition. I’m going to give the year overall the grade of a B and summarize thusly: I can see where I showed up and where I did not. Where I stayed consistent and didn’t let frustrations or it “being too hard” drag me down? I won. Where I let myself off the hook with regularity and let myself get in the way? I didn’t.

So, what’s on tap for next year? I really think it’s just showing up. More particulars once we get to the other side.

Krause Springs 2023

This being our sixth trip, Krause Springs has had a lot of time on this blog.

So, I’ll keep this one brief and just use it as an excuse to share some pictures about our few days in the woods 🙂

After my trip to Hamburg (work) and London (play), I got really really busy and just barely found time to steal away for this long weekend (and, admittedly, worked some during it). But, when July 1st hit, we packed up the Lunar Lander and made the far, far 45 minute journey to Krause Springs for Independence Day festivities.

The first day, Saturday, was for hot dogs, adult beverages, and just relaxing with my trees. I don’t think we really left the camper that day.

Sunday morning, I went to the butterfly garden before it got hot or busy. “Hey self,” I said to myself. “You’re really behind on photo editing. Why don’t you take it easy on the photos?”

One hour later

“How did these 100+ photos get on my phone?”

Sigh… at least I got to relax in my favorite hammock, and found my new second favorite hammock on the property!

This was also the day I typed, “THE END” on the crappy first draft of my first book! Thankfully, I put it away after that and didn’t spend my entire camping trip working on it.

Monday, we hiked the falls in the morning, again, before it got too hot or crowded. Then, after lunch and some outdoor guitar time, I started these geometric paintings in the Mondrian style, which I sadly didn’t finish until October’s vacation at the Arch. 🙂

We spent lots of time in the pool too. Sadly, I got terrible sleep that night because it felt like my skin was crawling.

Tuesday, the holiday itself, we spent much time hiding from the crowds, reading and napping and eating good food. When it was time, we watched a gorgeous sunset with the traditional avocado oil popcorn and waited for the big badda booms. It was a good show this year!

After another night of my skin crawling, and then actually investigating and finding the camper was indeed crawling with ants. We were supposed to stay Wednesday night but decided to take a last walk through the butterfly gardens, a dip in the pool, and head back that afternoon instead.

After a nice long shower and quarantining/cleaning everything that was in the camper, we had like the best night of sleep of our lives.

Next year, we’ll come armed with diatomaceous earth just in case.

London – two and a half days of aggressive sightseeing

It is my resolution each time I get a chance to go to Europe for work, and don’t have to be somewhere immediately after, I visit a new city/country.

I ended a work trip on a Saturday morning, had to be home Tuesday night, so we decided to make it work and pick a city “on the way home” and ended up with London. I think hitting another Warhammer store sold it for Joel, but for me, I looked up lots of two days in London walking tours and if you were ready to aggressively sightsee, you could hit lots of the iconic things in just two days.

It hit home later that we only really got to see the OUTSIDE of all of these things, when Joel expressed interest in going into the Tower of London, and we saw a queue wrapped around the whole thing, and I asked if that’s what he wanted to spend the day doing. London was one of the biggest cities I’d been in for a while, and the queueing showed it.

But anyhoo, let me back up and start before we arrived. This was the trip of lost luggage. Our first stop was Hamburg for work, and we both waited an extra THREE days to receive our bags. Luckily I had some extra clothes in my carry on backpack (and will always and forever now), but not 3 days and nights worth. I had jeans and shoes, just needed shirts and underwear and a real bra and just went ahead and slept in the buff which is fine, because Europe was hot and AC there is kind of a joke. Lufthansa reimbursed toiletries and half of purchased clothing items (full reiumbursal if you send the clothes back to the airline, but I was fine having a 50% off shopping spree).

Then, we headed to London, and thought surely, this couldn’t happen again, so I wasn’t super careful with my carry on bag. However, plane delays once more meant we were running for our connection, and sure enough, we were without baggage in London. I ended up in the same t-shirt, underwear, leggings, socks, and shoes for 36 hours, and more sleeping in the buff (which was MORE than fine because London was even warmer). We were assured that our bags would be there the next day, so I just purchased the barest minimum of toiletries and a new shirt so I could get out of my sweaty “Keep Calm and Use Mana” tee I’d been wearing for days and so many miles.

We didn’t let it keep us from seeing all the things though. When we landed, we first checked out the view from our room. It didn’t disappoint.

We were starving after a long day of travel, having not eaten since breakfast, and the first thing on the London bucket list to eat was proper Indian food, so we found something about a mile walk away that looked pretty highly rated – Red Chili. We started with a lovely papadum spread, a chicken pakora appetizer, and for mains, Garlic Chili Chicken (which was served sizzling hot on a fajita type plate) and Chicken Tikka Rezella (which was a little too sweet for us, but we still enjoyed it). We ate every bite and enjoyed it immensely.

After dinner, we walked around Tower Bridge and the surrounding areas along the Thames, checking out the sunset and the little shops and restaurants along the way. We saw also saw a very inebriated gentleman yelling random stuff at the top of his lungs, and people just shrugging like it was normal (this is not the last time this happened).

After sunset, we hit the Dickens Pub, which was supposed to be a must-see stop. It was quite impressive, with the entire outside covered in living, growing flowering plants. This was also very prevalent around town, many shops and restaurants maintained lovely live flowers outside, but not quite to this scale. We were told it was due to the queen’s passing because she loved flowers. It certainly made for a very pretty few days! The atmosphere outside the pub was great. Once they called everyone inside at 10pm, we were in a giant box of sweaty people with no ventilation. We left quickly and resolved to return when we hang out on the patio.

The second day we woke after some mediocre sleep – as I said, there was a heat wave and the room was not really air conditioned – but when you only have a few days you soldier forth!

We started with the Tower across the street and as I said before, we ended up just walking around it vs going inside. As would be the theme with everything, it was surrounded by lovely flowers and looked quite impressive.

Our next stop was the Monument to the Great Fire of London. We climbed the stairs to catch the view at the top, because that’s what you do in Europe.

After we grabbed a few shirts from TK Maxx (yes, just like TJ Maxx in the US, but in EU), we hit up a pub called the Hydrant and had some beer flights and split a giant plate of fish and chips. We both enjoyed both things immensely (especially since it was our first meal/bevvies of the day).

We dropped our new clothes off at the hotel (and checked on our luggage – not yet), and then returned to our aggressive sightseeing agenda. We checked out St Paul’s Cathedral (sadly, couldn’t go inside as they were closed), and wandered to the Borough Market. This was a pretty cool experience – this huge bustling crowd of people and hundreds of various vendors. I watched two chefs cook these insanely giant woks of Paia and peeked into a store that primarily sold types of (non-magic) mushrooms, and got a world famous Prosecco Spritzer, which was refreshing.

We had thought about grabbing some food there, but it was very very crowded on a Sunday, so we went back to the Thames waterfront and returned to this lovely bar that had so many flowers growing out of it and got another very pretty bevvie, a Pimms cup.

We almost ordered some pizza, but then got wind our luggage had arrived, so we decided to head back to the hotel right away to grab it and return to the patio of the Dicken’s Pub instead.

We had a pint, and split a steak and ale pie and a caesar salad (what, we wanted some greens!), and enjoyed the slightly cooler and overcast weather.

Since we had to stay around the hotel to retrieve the luggage, we were a little off and late on our walking tour, so in the early evening, we kicked it into high gear and hightailed it over to the Mall and Buckingham Palace.

It was closed off just to people walking and biking, which was neat, and between this and St James Park, I could probably share a full post full of pictures here. It was so very iconic.

Speaking of iconic, which could describe the rest of the evening, we then made our way to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. Obviously, we didn’t have time to actually go into the Abbey and Big Ben was actually closed, but it was really cool to see them both in person.

After more miles, we needed more sustinence, so we stopped and got some mediterranean food. It wasn’t necessarily on the bucket list, but we were hungry and it was close. Then, we started the long trek back to the hotel, stopping to oogle the London Eye. A lot. It was probably one of my favorite things to take pictures of in the dark.

Google said it was about 2 miles to our hotel, so we figured we had enough oomph to walk it. However, for some reason, it must have thought we could fly or something, because the distance kept not going down as we somehow still had one mile left to go, we relented and flagged down a pedicab so we could go CRASH.

Monday, we had important eating to do on the agenda but some sights to see as well. We began the day meandering through Notting Hill and Portobello Market. Notting Hill is one of those adorable areas of the city where you can imagine yourself living for a little while like you’re in that Hugh Grant movie, and Portobello Market added to the charm – it’s blocks and blocks of their little downtown area with a permanent street fair, with kitchy stores that had cool vintage thrift finds and an old maps store, and cool places to grab a bite or a drink.

These are the kind of adorable things you can more fully appreciate when you don’t have just a few days to see ALL THE THINGS, so we walked a bit of it and then headed back to the Underground to zip to our first food appointment of the day – afternoon tea. Most recommendations said to just try to make it your lunch or dinner, which we did with a 12:45 reservation. Other recommendations we didn’t follow said to book well in advance, and we were lucky to find one place taking reservations just the night before – The Strand.

You begin your adventure with a choice of tea (I got this really lovely herbal to start) and a glass of prosecco. Then, they bring you this tower of ridiculousness – the top with savory finger sandwiches, the middle with assorted desserts, and the bottom with scones, clotted cream, and jam. About an hour and a half, two more pots of tea, and a groaning belly, they rolled us out the door and we moved on with our day. I cannot imagine having that a meal between lunch and dinner. Y’all Londoners are hardcore.

Kensington Palace

Obviously we had to go walk this off so we could eat another decadent meal later, so we headed to Hyde Park. This is yet another place I could have spent a full day wandering around, and if I lived in the area, there is no other place I’d go for a run, as we saw many of the locals did. We spent a good few hours strolling and looking at the statues and art pieces and gardens.

Our last two objectives of the day were to visit Marleybone (both to get a picture with something that said it because it’s in Wiz, and to hit the post office to get limited edition Warhammer stamps), and then go to the Warhammer store. It got really hot by the time we made it to the post office, and in traditional EU fashion we were kept waiting for quite a while before they would send someone to unlock the case, so we had to uber to the Warhammer store to keep on schedule.

My dogs were barking anyway. After 13 miles the day before, and approaching 10 already that day, I didn’t mind someone else conveying my tired arse. The Warhammer store was pretty cool, my first time in one, though I was disappointed in the lack of Bloodbowl stuff. It didn’t miss me that the deadline for Joel and I to play our last league game had elapsed right as we were wandering around the store, and also that it didn’t matter, because the pilgrimage gave me the luck to win my season (go Blodgeass Pitches!!!) a month later anyway.

After we got back to the hotel and got cleaned up, we hit early dinner reservations at the Shard. It was wild, you had to stand in line and show proof of your ressie, and then you got escorted to these high speed non-stop elevators to the 33rd floor where only this restaurant and a lounge exist, nothing else.

The sommelier was flattering and asked me if I wanted a job picking wines, the rest of the service was impeccable, and the view was killer. And the food… oh, yeah. Worth the splurge. We began with this delicious, crusty bread and butter. For apps, we got a shrimp cocktail with avocado salad topped with caviar and some crab cakes. The main course was filet in peppercorn sauce, truffle fries, and broccolini. I can’t tell you what the most wonderful things was, because it was all of it plus DAT VIEW. This might have been a little pre-celebration for my promotion that was confirmed the week before, because I was pretty sure I’d get busy and not have time later.

Folks – always celebrate early and often when you can. I didn’t understand how true this would be. Drink the nice bottle of champagne when you get good news. 🙂

We didn’t quite want to leave the view after dinner, and could not fathom one more bite, so we got one more glass of wine in the lounge on the other side of the floor and enjoyed that view for a while as we digested.

A short walk back to the hotel, and too soon we had to pack up to leave in the morning. We ended the night, in true EU fashion, buying a bottle of wine at the kiosk and drinking it at the park outside with one last view of the tower bridge.

In the morning, we had some drama with our first uber (it just didn’t show up!) and we were cutting it a little close for our flight (you would think departing somewhere in downtown London at 9am for a noon flight wouldn’t be behind schedule, but you’d be wrong!). However, we made our flights and twelve hours later we were home with our luggage this time(!!!) and just barely made it to our theater at 8pm for Hairspray. I may have dozed off a few times during the show since I’d been up 22 hours straight, but no regerts at all!

London was a really cool city, and I appreciated the ~60 hours I had to explore it. I would not be opposed to going back someday to experience more of it, but I don’t quite feel the calling to return like Paris.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

At least for running. And for lots of other things.

This is the goofy look I get on my face when ppl make me take pictures in daylight without sunglasses

But… definitely not for the scale. Since it’s conveniently right at the beginning of the last month of the year, let’s talk of all the things. That is goals and progress and such – not shoes and ships and ceiling wax and cabbages and kings.

#1 The scale, and our frustrations with each other

We have grievances with each other. On one hand, I’m aware that it’s been grumpy with my lack of consistency in tracking. And when I AM tracking, I’m definitely not being as perfect as I have been in the past with my numbers. On the other hand, I’m frustrated with it just jumping up like 3 lbs overnight once I started my medication last month and it hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s not as if I ingested 10k calories all at once or anything… it feels unfair.

However, I’ve known this feeling of unfair, and it doesn’t matter what’s fair. Life isn’t fair. If I need to do the dive at the extra degree of difficulty to get where I want to be, that’s what must be done, no sense in wanking about it. So, when does the “buckling down” happen, now or January? This is a slippery slope. If I even THINK about starting sometime later, this invites a whole shitload of holiday eating because “hey, I’ll start in the new year and it’s not here yet”, so then I find myself on January 2nd ten lbs heavier.

NOPE. Goals stay the same as every other month, and if there’s a day or two in here where I half-ass it because of something holiday-related, we just try again the next day.

Really easy to tell I started some medication about 3.5 weeks ago 😛

My December goal here is going to be simply to own up to whatever happens. I’m going to track daily and weigh at least 5x week.

While I’m kvetching over this medicine, it has done WONDERS for my other complaints. While it turned on a few extra lbs in the blink of an eye, it also turned off anxiety and stabbiness, temperature regulation issues, and we’ll see if it fixes the cycle when it’s time for that to happen. It’s worth it. I just have to get over the fact that the place I’ll start losing weight from now just jumped a bit on the scale to somewhere around where I was in March this year.

#2 Sporty Stuff

In advance of 2024, I’ve actually set a goal here – to run (actually run) a half marathon again. I’m not sure if this is 3M, Austin, both, or something else. I don’t have designs on attacking my 2:03 or sub-2 or anything, I’m truly just enjoying that I can run for more than 30 minutes right now and finding the edge where that goes from happy fun to work.

10k waddle done before I gobbled on Thanksgiving

I did multiple 5-mile jaunts earlier in November which felt great. I ran 10k on Thanksgiving, and the last half mile felt difficult and my glute muscles were cramping up a little at the end (reminiscent of half marathon+ runs of yore) and my back was twitchy for a day after. Then, this week, I ran 7 miles, expecting it to be similarly difficult and it was just… not. All my body parts felt great during and after, my pace was faster with ease, and I felt like I had more in me. Same with today’s 4-mile jaunt – a weird knee twinge half way through, but then my stride just felt so good. I know they won’t always be like this, but I’m going to ride this run love wave as far as I can.

Please also note that I’ve been keeping up with weight training 3x week, twice at the gym with our illustrious squat witch, and once either at home or at the gym on our own. Over the summer/fall I maintained pretty well even just working out at home, though I could tell I was starting to lose a little strength by October when I finally gave up and went back to 12lb weights from 15s and did higher reps on some things. Now I’m doing something completely different for each of the three groups – legs/core, back/bicep, and chest/shoulders – and I’d say I’m starting to see some of those gains again.

And and and – three swims in three days? Yeah, that’s some Thanksgiving break magic. I’ve got more time off this month too, so I’m going to try to do similar stuff with the pool and not ignoring it. My cycling has been less than consistent, but with the amazing weather (but shorter days) we’ve been walking instead for low intensity stuff. I posted last on the 19th that I had walked 28 miles in the first 18 days, and since then, I’ve added another 18. So, that rounds out November stats as:

  • 45 miles walked
  • 41 miles run
  • 3 swims (500yd each)
  • 3h cycling
  • 3x week weights all month

While I can be disappointed about the scale, I cannot hate on my activity here. December’s goals will simply be to do what I did in November. Run three times a week. Stretch that long run closer to 2 hours by the end of the month. Strength three times a week, non-negotiable. Go swimming a few times. Cycle or walk for supplemental low-intensity calorie burning stuff depending on the weather and my motivation. Do two recovery methods per day (between boots, ice, stretching, and rolling). So, basically, the plan is to continue.

#3 Not ignoring my surroundings

I actually did some stuff over Thanksgiving week! I set goals to clean off my nightstand and dresser, and clean out the drawers of each. I’m happy to say – done and dusted. I’m now at the point where my little corner of the bedroom is pretty zen and I probably just need to accept that my husband’s side will just never be and make that part of the room disappear from my senses. Or, maybe he’ll surprise me and clean off his shelves and dresser and clean out his closet for Christmas, who knows. Next, I plan to clean out the freezer and pantry, it’s kind of December tradition and they can certainly use it, and we need to decommission and either recycle or donate a bunch of old electronics.

I also did a little bit of looking into bathroom remodels and figured out a few things. First, while in most other things I gravitate towards darker colors, I really like the light, bright, airy bathroom look. Second, in the master bath, I’ve put this remodel off so long because I had designs on trying to reshape the room, make space for a nice garden tub or combine it with the vanity area or something. Instead, we’re just going to keep it simple and not mess with the structure because I realized how much I actually didn’t care myself. It’s an older house from the 60s. It doesn’t have a palatial master bath, and if the next owners want that, they can make it happen. So, the next step is getting some quotes and just making it happen. December? Maybe. But I think redoing both bathrooms will be 2024 goals.

#4 Relaxing Hobbies

It’s about to be hobby-mas time (which is also one of the most wonderful times of the year), that is the two weeks I take off around the holidays so I can putter around the house and pretend I’m retired and work on my own projects and play some games when I’m not tromping around outside.

Bull Creek Hikes are good hikes

Goals here simply are simply so I don’t end up doomscrolling all day forgetting what actual fun stuff I want to do. If I get wrapped up in painting or gaming and don’t feel like travel blog writing and photo editing, that’s fine!

  • Photo sets left to edit: Paris 2022, January Cruise 2023, EU August/Seattle September 2023, The Arch 2023. It’d be really weird to be without a backlog in January, so I’m pretty sure I won’t end up there. I think I’d like to prioritize finishing the cruise (I’m amidst it right now), and then suck it up and make my December project finishing Paris 2022 even though it’s a lot and it’s intimidating.
  • Travel blogs left to do: all of the above + Krause Springs and London 2023
  • I also each year talk about watermarking and collecting my photography favorites into a gallery of sorts. Maybe this is the year I actually figure this out.
  • I want to get paint on a new canvas, and I want to make progress on my silly pumpkin that I’ve been staring at for a year.
  • I’m happy with my more-often-than-not meditation schedule and whenever-i-feel-like-it on WFH days schedule. Maybe I’ll set a goal to learn a new Christmas song if that sounds fun one day.
  • GAMES! I would like to play some things
    • Enjoy our Baulder’s gate YOLO playthrough, try to play like once a week and maybe more on break
    • Give up and go Story Only on Persona 5 and make some progress
    • Find my Peglin or Shop Titans (or maybe just buy Peglin or start up Shop Titans again). That is – find the game where I can just turn it on and relax while not paying attention to whatever TV is on – something fun and relaxing and mindless.
    • Maybe some table top stuff like Kill Team, Blood Bowl, or whatever.
    • The point of vacation is to disconnect, but I would also really like to get caught up on my own game!

#5 Write a Book (or two)

Still no feedback from my other alpha readers (I get it, everything is super busy right now), so I’m going to continue to happily plug away on Book 2. Since I know I’m writing to the end anyway, as a personal project, no matter whether the books have zero audience with anyone but me, I’m not planning on publishing them until I’m further in – maybe even through to the end. I like this for various reasons that aren’t all just delaying the terror of putting my work out there – writing the whole thing assures continuity because if I happened to write myself into a place where I don’t want to be at the end, I can go change it.

It’s weird to write a story that has such a concrete middle but not beginning or ending. My character at the D&D table had a past before we met up with the group, which I created in great and storied detail. We adventured together for years, and I don’t even just have vague recollections of this, I have video. It’s been fun to pull direct quotes out that are both so much in the characters of both the character and the player behind them, almost as love letters to the campaign itself.

Elik looked torn, but Ember piped up.  “Yeah, we should get going.  I want to test out my new armor.  I bought it last week and haven’t seen combat since.  They called it something that started with a p-”

Simon sneered.  “What the hells, can you wear Plate armor now?”

“No, but that sounds close, I think it was called… Plot?”

We all collectively groaned at him as he showed off what was clearly standard brown leather armor.  “Hey buddy,” I said, “I think you got duped.”

Ember frowned.  “But they said that it was neato, and it would protect me.”

However… the campaign ended before we finished, so it’s up to me (in consult with the DM, if he’s interested in helping) to figure out how the story ends. I’ve had some ideas, but I’m trying not to jump back and forth in the timelines too much – I’ll figure out the future when I get there!

I was worried I’d lose a little inertia at the end of Book 1, and moving on to just keep writing was absolutely the correct answer to keep it. I have 35k words, some in first draft and some in notes form, and I’m really excited to see how much progress I can make this month without it eating my life. I want to play games, I want to paint, I want to make sure I take time to relax, but I also love working on this project.

If you told me this time last year I’d have a book done that I’d be reasonably proud to show off and are this far into the next one, I’d have called you crazy. But, when the Muse showed up at 2am on Boxing Day last year, she stuck around and has been a homie to me in 2023. I plan to continue to keep her around, and happy, hopefully for the rest of forever.

So, December, one of my favorite months, let’s be friends, shall we? I agree to:

  • Track daily and weigh most days, no matter what.
  • Continue to be active in ways that make me happy, lift 3x week, and extend my long run
  • Do the annual kitchen cleanouts
  • Enjoy hobbymas and play some dang games!
  • Keep on writing Book 2

This sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me, let’s do it!

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