The biggest barrier I face in doing anything significant is "being overwhelmed." It dogs me in business, art, sometimes in relationships, and it's also been the biggest outstanding obstacle to resolutions.

It's clear that I can do some pretty impressive shit (Satirical Politics, CFS referendum, Transition, Art, Writing, The Switch) and most this means engaging in giant complex tasks. So how do I beat the inertia and fear? Breaking things down into manageable steps, and pushing what can be done later completely off of my plate for today, and next week or next month, and as long as it takes to just concentrate on the stuff in front of me.

So the idea here is to keep it simple and high-priority.

I divide the year up into ten parts. It's a kind of astronomy meets traditional calendar religion meets film kind of thing (if you get the last reference, you're my kind of people!). And I use this to incrementally increase my targets.

1. Jan 1st thru Imbolc
2. Imbolc thru Equinox (Ostara)
3. Ostara thru Beltane
4. Beltane thru Solstice (Litha)
5. (break) Midsummer thru July 1st - time to reflect, alter and reconsider
6. July 1st thru Lammas
7. Lammas thru The Equinox (Mabon)
8. Mabon thru Samhaine
9. Samhaine thru Yule
10.  (break) Yule thru January 1st

I have four resolutions and three of them have incremental benchmarks. Each "tenth," I pick two targets to move their benchmark up a notch. This gives me a little wiggle room in case things prove challenging.


Tasks:

1. Pack a Lunch

I've done a pretty good job of becoming frugal over the last few years. I can live well for not a lot of money. But I spend money eating out when I don't need to - and when I don't want to. Now, when I'm eating at home, I can cook like a champ. But I don't take it with me. Time to do better.

Goal: Pack a lunch. As in a meal. Not just a granola bar.
Benchmarks: 1x/week, 2x/week, 3x/week

 

2. Get up and go Outside

My mental health, sleep and pretty much everything else improve when I get up and go outside within an hour of waking for at least thirty minutes. If you are not a home-based entrepreneur (or parent), you may not realize that you can get up at a reasonable hour and have what looks like a productive day on paper without leaving your house until after dark. This is not good for me. I get cranky and weird. So, I need to fix this.

Goal: Get up and go outside within one hour waking, staying outside for at least half an hour.
Benchmarks: 3x/week, 4x/week, 5x/week
 

3. Analog Hour
This one's about mindfulness, relaxation and all kinds of good stuff. I can pull this off in transit. I can do it socially. But I'm not good at being on my own. Instead, I have an ingrained habit of staring at a screen. It started in my youth as a way of disassociating. At the time, it might have been a good idea seeing as the combination of bullying and dysphoria drives other people trans to worse ends. Still, it needs to go.

Goal: Spend one hour on my own with the computer closed. Not screwing around on my phone. Not watching TV. No "screen time." Unless it's dialing a phone for a nice chat.

Benchmarks: 2x/week, 3x/week, 4x/week


4. Actor's Accountability
This is all the rage among actors, as self-directed professionals (that are known to be a little... flaky). You meet. You plan. You do better. And if you don't, you know it probably was outside of your reasonable locus of control.

Goal: Every month, I will meet with other actors to plan out career foundational. The first month will be setting up the meeting.
Benchmarks: There's only one.
 

New Rules

1. Posture
After recovering from neckstrain from hell, I have found that oneofhte muscles in my arm is partially paralyzed. It's weak and inhabiting my ability to do stuff. This probably comes from interactions with someone I used to date. It might from the time I got thrown at that play party in 2010 - the time I was saved from breaking my neck (or, indirectly, getting irradiated at Fukushima) because I turned my arm into an "S" shape? Well, I also hit my head, which snapped my neck back, but I didn't think about it at the time. Or it might have been more recent - from picking up my date and wanting to free up one hand if you get my drift, and just carrying too much load. The leading hypothesis is that my vertebrae are probably sandwiching a nerve - it's hard dot tell. On reflection, it's most likely a bit of both.

Also: my posture sucks. I don't want to wind up in a hunch when I'm eighty. And I look great when my posture is good.

The rule then: pick one: when on my cellphone / checking email / checking my reflection or seeing my shadow - I check my posture.



2. Don't lend money

Because it leads to having got ask for it back and/or never getting it back. I don't think that I've got the money back on a single one of the loans I've given out in the last two years. I kept a spreadsheet of all the money I leant out - it's a on the level of "rent." This has got to stop. There are other ways I can support people. 

There will have to be exceptions - picking up lunch this time, covering a car rental (and of course, just giving people objects, services or money is fine). But anything involving other people and the words "pay you back later" need to be small, and never in doubt as to if/when they'll be paid back.



In reserve:

These are important, but, in the interests of not feeling overwhelmed, didn't make the cut. I will revisit these later:

1. Spend time in an altered head-space pursuing personal development. Doesn't matter what it is - it could be meditation, or character work, or booze, or sensory deprivation. Whatever.

2. Specific acting skill development

3. Studying second language

Looking Back on 2014:

 

1. Improve My Sleeping Habits B

I said I'd do a sleep journal, and I didn't keep to it. But I did put a lot of work into a medical sleep study - covered in wires, seeing doctors and so on. Turns out, despite me being in "least likely" demographic, I have mild sleep apnea. (And sometimes anxiety throws me for a loop.) I am now testing a CPAP machine. And I have a few extra-low-strength Atavan for the odd night when I've had mysterious insomnia. They both do exactly what they should. From here, it's just a matter of sleep hygiene (which I have now developed, thanks to this year) and getting to bed on time (still a struggle).

 

2. Relaxation. 5x/ Week for 20+ minutes: C

I did learn how to unwind this year, but I didn't do a very good job of implementing it. I also totally threw off my tracking. I didl however, do something new and interesting for a good chunk of the day a great number of times over the year. And I actually took Christmas vacation.

 

3. Adopt A Skin Regimen: A

Done! I kept to the schedule pretty well, and then modified it to back off on the harmful stuff



 

4. Write for an hour thrice a week: B

Up and down on this one, but I did start to get it right towards the end of the year. I had to - we have scripts!

 

5. Voice Practice 10 minutes, thrice per week: D

Nope. I let self-consciousness and poor scheduling get in the way (I prefer an open space, and *strongly prefer* to do it when I won't wake people. The former is superfluous. The later is not.). But I did take singing lessons, so it's not a total wash.

 

6. Tidy Up: 15 Minutes, twice per week: D

I really let my tracking slide, and this was one of the casualties. But I picked things up towards the end, because of something called "analog hour" that will be making its way in this coming year.

 

7. Cultivate Relationships. 4x per week: B
I think I did this alright. Again, with the tracking. But I learned how to communicate better. Much better. I owe that one to Kat in large part. I also cultivated friendships with intention. I also lost a coworker in part because of my poor communication.

 

8. Body Modification: B

Well, I have a bunch of syringes full of cat allergen, waiting to be injected so as to modify my immune system. Not sure if I need them now that I don't know if I'll be moving in with Kat. There ya go.


Many improvements in the last year, but a 2.5 GPA isn't where I want to be. Let's watch me do better.

Fifteen hour days are not good for me. That is all the new information. An hour before bed to unwind is a sacred thing.

"Sacred" meaning "whole"

The Cat and I talk about *why* we stay up. It is chasing that productive peace after the busy day, that quiet garden where the mind sprouts.

I'm not sure what's doing it - habit perhaps? But I am definitely sleeping better. It may be a lowered level of work stress. And, of course, a fine and lovely relationship ;) 

This said, I'm getting to bed a lot later. I *haven't* been hitting the gym as much, although I've been biking hither and yon and, of course, doing stage fighting. But when I sleep, I tend to stay that way.
 
Having an hour of dark before bed is probably more effective when I relax during it. It's also probably easier when I have the setup to read in dimmer light. 
 
This said, when I give myself time to sleep I've been sleeping a lot better on the whole. Even a short nap is more refreshing. The most disruptive elements now are staying up late and the combination of worry and resent. Thus, the next step should be an interrogation of why I postpone rest and some kind of relaxation/forgiveness/present-focus. The latter also has implications for my ability to concentrate, especially on acting.
Showering before bed is good, but it can add an extra task when I should just close my eyes. Turning off the heat at night makes it a lot easier to sleep. Now I need to focus on getting to bed, ready to sleep *in time.*
 
This month's task: spend an hour before bed without bright lights, including screens.
Sleep journal - week 3
 
Sleep varies wildly. First waking up alot. Now sleeping like a brick* and waking up earlyTurning off the heat at night makes it easier to sleep - in part because the furnace is LOUD.
 

*One of those new "smart bricks" that needs to sleep at night.His mother agrees. *Were* that the case, I would be in the rig

Sleep journal week 2.
 
Bed showers are good and provide an opportunity for skin care. The deciding factor in relaxation is tied to low-stimulus screen time. That's still the next task.
 
More dreams this week, some with obvious depth of meaning. Can sleep next to a second person more easily than under a second person.

Sleep blog

Jan. 12th, 2014 02:42 pm
 Sleep blog, week 1

Following up on my new-years resolutions. A pre-bed shower makes for a nice ritual, and it's a good time for skin care and relaxation, but it only gets me so far. If I've already showered during the day, it also consumes a lot of power and water.

Signs point to "deconstructing why I stay up late" and "avoiding screens for an hour before bed" as being strategies with a high likelihood of success.
Started taking a shower before bed. Feel a little grimy during the day, but I think I prefer it. Not sweating as much at night, likely due to wellbutrin.

Staying up late, even by half an hour is correlated with disruptive sleep, as is any amount of alcohol after 9:30pm. Cardio may or may not be a factor. Going to bed relaxed is a plus. It's hard to finish showing and then go to bed without finding a reason to look at a screen.
Revised resolutions after a week of trial.

52 weeks in a year - 1st week is trial, last week +1-2 days is setting down old resolutions and drafting new ones resolutions

 

1. Improve my sleeping habits.

A. I will make a weekly entry about sleep and post it on social media

B. Each month, I will select and use a different technique from the below list and use it *4* nights per week. I may implement two during the same month, or abandon one after two weeks to try another. Once I have tried all of them, I will review their utility and implement two. After one month of that, I will implement a third. A fourth may then follow

- Put a SAD light on a timer (January 5-31, or February)
- Reschedule the activities that keep me up late
- Dark hour. No blue light.
- Sleep journal
- Pre-bed shower or bath or other evening ritual
- Electronic device to track nocturnal movements
- Keep a firm wakeup time
- If I wake up after "first sleep" I will stay up for about 90 minutes

 

2. Relaxation
Once a day, four days out of the week, I will do one or more of the following for a total of 30 minutes
- Meditate
- Pray
- Go to the pool or sauna and float or sit
- Cuddle
- Something sexual
- Make non-professional art
- Do something gender-confirming
- Journal
- Daydream
- Play boardgames
- Watch a TV show
- Cook

Once every month, plus twice in one season, I will do something relaxing and new over the span of at least 6 hours. It could include one of the following. 12-hour activities can count as two.
- Bake
- Cook something new
- Go on a pilgrimage
- Travel somewhere and sleep a lot
 

3. Adopt a skin regimen
- I will do three of (exfoliate clean, tone and moisturize) 3x per week until Imbolc
- Starting at Imbolc, I will do all four
- At equinox, I will do this four times a week
- At Beltane, five times per week
- At Solstice, I will review and use the practice as needed


4. Write for one solid hour, 3x per week


5. Do voice practice for ten minutes, 3x per week
 

6. Get a permanent body modification
Equinox: investigate options and pick a top two
Solstice: investigate methods and providers and pick a top two
Equinox: arrange it
Solstice: make it happen


7. Clean my house for 15 minutes, 2x per week


8. Cultivate a human relationship, 4x per week
This could be writing a note of thanks, making a phone call, or having someone over for dinner. Whatever it is, it needs to cement a sense of community and/or foster interpersonal intimacy.

 

I will revisit these resolutions at Equinox and solstice, making adjustments as needed. If I feel I've sufficiently integrated a practice, or that it's not useful to continue pursuing, I will swap it out for another.

This year, I will make my resolutions a lot more public, so it's easier to feel held to task.
 

1. Improve my sleeping habits.

A. I will make a weekly entry about sleep and post it on social media

B. Each month, I will select and use a different technique from the below list and use it 5 nights per week. I may implement two during the same month, or abandon one after two weeks to try another. Once I have tried all of them, I will review their utility and implement two. After one month of that, I will implement a third. A fourth may then follow

- Put a SAD light on a timer (January 5-31, or February)
- Reschedule the activities that keep me up late
- Dark hour. No blue light.
- Sleep journal
- Pre-bed shower or bath or other evening ritual
- Electronic device to track nocturnal movements
- Keep a firm wakeup time
- If I wake up after "first sleep" I will stay up for about 90 minutes

 

2. Relaxation
Once a day, five days out of the week, I will do one or more of the following for a total of 20 minutes
- Meditate
- Pray
- Go to the pool or sauna and float or sit
- Cuddle
- Something sexual
- Make non-professional art
- Do something gender-confirming
- Journal
- Daydream
- Play boardgames
- Watch a TV show
- Cook


Once every month, I will do something relaxing and new over the span of at least 12 hours. It could include one of the following
- Bake
- Cook something new
- Go on a pilgrimage
- Travel somewhere and sleep a lot
 

3. Adopt a skin regimen
- I will clean and moisturize 3x per week until Equinox
- From equinox until Solstice, I will also Tone or exfoliate
- From Solstice to Equinox, I will also tone *and* exfoliate
- After equinox, I will review and use that new practice


4. Write for one solid hour, 3x per week


5. Do voice practice for ten minutes, 3x per week
 

6. Get a permanent body modification
Equinox: investigate options and pick a top two
Solstice: investigate methods and providers and pick a top two
Equinox: arrange it
Solstice: make it happen


7. Clean my house for 10 minutes, 3x per week


8. Cultivate a human relationship, 3x per week
This could be writing a note of thanks, making a phone call, or having someone over for dinner.

 

I will revisit these resolutions at Equinox and solstice, pruning as needed.

 

This last year's resolutions were not very successful:

 

Sleep: F
Didn't even get started.



Social Fluency: F
Exercised it but did not track it


Work Out: B
Made it into a regular thing. Well done!


Badass Physical Skills: C+
Can ride a bike in heavy traffic and hurt myself rather badly doing parkour


Religion: F
Did not track it. Did not do it.


Take time off

Winter: F
Spring: A
Summer: D
Autumn: A+ Went to Europe. Total success

 

Spend time in character as suave and Ms. Nerd
Fail

 

Bike Places: A+

Completely integrated into my lifestyle. I miss it when I can't do it.


Eat Green Things: A+

At times, I may have actually been eating too many greens: too much fiber to digest properly and short on carbs. 

 

That's quite a range between success and failure though. Why?
The successful projects had extrinsic motivators: health, cost, fun. Many were broken down into small chunks and were not socially awkward.
The unsuccessful projects were more inconvenient and ran against social endorsement.

I also may have had too many resolutions.
 

So: break things into small chunks and get people to encourage me. Noted.

Pick something in the past that still hurts

- Staying in the closet
 

Internal factors that brought this about

- I did not do research
- I censored my own thoughts
- I did not consider my wants and vision to be worthwhile or practicable

1. Three people, living or dead, I admire. And one quality each
- Robin Hood. Admittedly, he is (largely) fictional, but I admire him greatly. He was virtuously cunning.
- My uncle. He is wise. Like my grandfather was, and like how I hope to be.
- Hard to pin down the last one. Storytellers who spin something amazing out of resistance. Nalo Hobkinson. Tracy Chapman (often). John Varley (sometimes). Bruce Sterling (sometimes).

I really don't have many concrete role models. Robin Hood was the one who came to mind the strongest. This shows an odd disconnect from the real.

2. The virtue I strive to practice or emulate
- Resistance. The unwavering ability to stick to principles.

3. When do I feel the most confident; like the best person I could be
- When I just gave a speech to an audience.

4. What situations make me feel the greatest self-esteem or personal worth
- Applause. The admiration of the group.

5. What would a junxi version of me do differently from today 
- She would spend more time on concrete punditry.

6. What quality would I like to be known for, and how could I make this happen?
- Speaking truth to power. Delivering an honest, resonating and actionable critique of the status quo.

7. Where do I need to demonstrate more truthfulness and integrity?
- My own work habits.

 

Questions from Brian Tracy's
The Power of Self Discipline
An amazing and inspiring book with little to no analysis of privilege.


1a. Ideal work life
Tonnes of integrated creative work (writing and production design) and a little corporate strategy

1b. Discipline to get there:
Setting and hitting deadlines
Learn to market creative work on both the free market and the grant system


2a. Ideal family life:
Stable Long-Term relationship. Involvement in the lives of youth. Shared living (see #3)

2b. Discipline to get there:
Find an LTR.


3a. Ideal community life:
Basically university residence for adults, and without the academic/class barrier to community participation. If UBC was to become an open community tomorrow, and I could move into rez with other people who actually know how to live in community, I would pack up and go.

3b. Discipline to get there:
(...I'm drawing a blank here. Thoughts?)


4a. Ideal health
Greater gymnastic ability
Greater skin health
Extraordinary longevity

4b. Discipline to get there:
Heavy training (may not be practical)
Skin care regimen as outlined by Brooke
Find a multivitamin that doesn't hurt my stomach and keep abreast of anti-agathic research

- Note: I'm in pretty amazing health right now. I bike most places, getting my cardio, and I do conditioning. I just need to maintain it. I could do conditioning once a week and do physical skills twice a week. Oh wait, I have plans to do just that - albeit this time without tearing the tissue that holds my ribs in place.


5a. Financial situation
Enough money to employ people full time and not care whether we make a profit at our socially beneficial endeavor

5b. Disclipline
Learn to how to watch and put money into the investment market.
Learn how to market of creative work

- Note: My frugality is noted by my friends. All I can really cut back on is relocate my studio to the shed and do acting co-op instead of lessons. And I have options to do both of those
- Note: In the past, my market sense has been bang-on, like eerily so (this stock will rise to this level, then peak around here and settle around here; this commodity is grossly undervalued), but I haven't moved on it and thus lost out


6. Why not there already?
Lack of clear goals and a strategy to get there

7. What one skill would be the most useful?
Practical, low-key project management


8. Which one discipline would have the biggest impact
Sticking to a to-do list.

I just took the giant chart of progress tracking down from my bedoom wall. This last year's resolutions was notable in that the results were clearly quantifiable and trackable. This, combined with clear goals, is a clearly superior method.


Read more... )

So. Success on exercise, leadership, frugality, specific skill aquisition, and having hot needles stuck in my face. Fail on meditation, vacation, making art, shooting a crossbow and doing fun sexy things. This was the year of burning midnight oil.  So 2013's theme is going to be "Self Care"
Saw myself acting today. Good, but not great. No surprise, seeing as I have no training in method acting. Yet.

Annunciation and physical expression are factors, but I see that I didn't fully invest in the part. I wasn't totally there. It may have been a thrown-together exercise, but that problem remains. Which is a more general problem than just acting. I often don't fully invest in life. I don't fully experience what I do, and I'm often holding out, thinking of something else. I think I'm afraid of not optimizing my time - a habit learned while being bored as a youth in school. Appropriate then perhaps; but not now that I have high levels of autonomy in planning my daily activities. A habit compounded by a belief that I need to "fix the world." Well, being frequently distracted ain't the way to fix anything.

To fix this, add the exercise of experiencing things with my senses and consciously describing them in words. As well as reaching down and asking, then listening to what I feel. The former overlaps in "magnetic communication," part of the Social Fluency curriculum - useful for everything from evocative writing, to honest and compelling speechcraft, to being sexy.

The latter is just a good idea all around, near as I can tell.

And perhaps an affirmation or prayer. Something about the limits of an individual. May be reading stories where the group is the hero in making change. Because groups, even small ones, make change in ways the individuals rarely do.

Three exercises.

Mayhaps I should add these to the Giant Chart of Highly Itemized New Year's Resolutions on my wall - an experiment which has drastically improved my return in sticking to resolutions.
Resolutions 2012

Note: When three numbers are given, the first benchmark is April 10th; second is September 10th;; third (if listed) is Winter Solstice


1. Health:
Get 3 instances of 20-minute+ cardio exercise and 1 instance of 20-minute+ meditation or prayer per week (can overlap with other projects) for 48 weeks out of the year, less weeks where illness or injury makes this unwise

2. Leadership:
come the Winter Solstice, Lead 7 projects through to completion, 3 using project-management software, 1 must not be a film

3. Frugality:
Do not eat out at all (defined as “daily on-site-consumed-food-expenditure >$4.50”) 163 days in the year, also have a cost-based-plan for “what to do with the vehicle I inherited” by Imbolc, execute by Spring Equinox

4. Develop skills:
6/12/20 hours social assertiveness; Acting: 24/48 hours; Crossbow: 4/10 hours; 15/35 hours on top of that doing strength training ; Intensive physical skill (climbing, dance, acrobatics, martial arts and/or stage fighting 15/35 hours; 12/25 hours of any physical intensive exercise;

5. Transition:
24/48 hours of electrolysis or run out of beard; Dedicate and carry a “totem” to remind myself that I have darn well transitioned

6. Relax:
Take 4 weeks of actual vacation (defined as “primarily pursuing a project that is not work-related and not pursuing work for more than 2 hours per week.”), also, see point 1

7. Sexy
Do something sexual twice per moon


1. Pursue romance. Fall in love. Get laid more.
B+: I was in an extended relationship, but I didn't exactly pursue it. And I have some hang-ups around initiating sex, which I challenged, but not as much as I could have. Upon my return to Vancouver, I let this slide. But I also resolved some important things around romantic relationhships - my desire to please and my over-reliance on online dating.


2. Continue to practice physio. Regain the use of my arm.
B: Did so for first part of year, let it slack off. Exercised it like mad, but didn't stretch as much as I could. Stretch it out of habit now.


3. Get cardio exercise 2+ times per week
A: Done and done. Strength training and jogging for the win. Missed two weeks (by which I mean 'hit the gym once') due to busyness. But out of a year that's not bad. Missed two weeks because of being sick or reocvering from fucking surgery.


4. Meditate, pray or whatever twice a week for 1⁄2 hour each time.
C-: wrapped it up at end of year with bio-kinetic release (a physical acting method), but that's not exactly medittion


5. Listen to my body about sleeping, sun, time outs and food.
B-: vague, but some progress; sleeping better  and better hours; eating healthy without earlier problems


6. Playtest and name my storygame system
B-: limited-run playtest, tentative name, but little progress past midyear, save for some nifty redesign


7. Dance
B+: a bit for the first part of the year, dance lessons in the summer, "rivering" in the fall


8. Give myself permission to be feminine
A-: Yeah, I did this. I grew my hair out, wore dresses and got mistaken for FtM a lot less. Didn't use make up as much as I could. Also came out to large numbers of people as MtF without couching it as much in the butch. Can now slide "trans" status to strangers without sweating.


B+ Average.

Very nice, Miss Fox

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