The Great Bra Hunt: Torrid Wireless

Please see my introductory post for why I’m on a Great Bra Hunt. And feel free to skip past this post if real bra talk and related topics aren’t your thing!

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Sunday Coffee – Vaccine, Part 1

I had my first Covid-19 vaccine dose this week!

In late December, the governor of Texas decreed that people in Tier 1b could now get the vaccine. Tier 1b included individuals over the age of 65, or those over 16 who suffer from a number of chronic health conditions (frequently associated with high death rate from Covid). The decree and category caused mass chaos as they differed both from federal and international guidelines, but that’s kinda what happens when you let every state do whatever they want. Furthermore, only about a quarter of individuals who qualified under Tier 1a had received their vaccines, so it became up to each individual health provider to decide if they would move from 1a to 1b. Most chose to stick with 1a, but a large health group here, University Health System, chose to open somewhere between 11k and 17k slots for Tier 1b patients to get the Moderna vaccine, starting January 4th.

I got really lucky. Yes, I fit into the 1b category due to particular medical conditions. (I was surprised, tbh.) On Dec 31st, I happened to log onto Facebook at the exact right time to see an announcement from the mayor that the UHS scheduling system had gone live early. There was almost no forewarning or publicity regarding the UHS 1b slots, but even though I saw the announcement only a few minutes after the mayor posted it, the first five days of appointments were already booked. It took four tries – the fourth, I went several days ahead of where people were grabbing appointment times – but I got an appointment booked for this past Monday morning, on Jan 11th. (I’m happy to say my friend Stephanie and her parents all got in on the 13th, and my friend MJ got her appointment for the 15th. Appointments only went through yesterday, and they were all filled up in under five hours.)

It really did seem too easy. I didn’t have to say why I qualified or anything. (Honestly, I was a bit worried I’d get turned away at the door because I’m not 65+!) They just confirmed the appointment via email and said to come to the Wonderland of the Americas Mall Monday morning. Gotta be honest: I was more nervous about driving to an unknown-to-me location than I was about the vaccine! I despise not knowing exactly where I’m going, and where to park, and where to go/what to do after parking! Stupid agoraphobia. So thankfully, Jason took the morning off of work to go with me.

Everything was extremely efficient. There were signs in the mall parking lot for where to go, and once we got inside, there were both signs and employees to point us into the right line. People in line were separated out in six-foot breaks, and there were several employees checking people in. I literally just had to give them my name, and they filled out a card for me. The only thing I had to verify was my birthday. They kept asking Jason for his name, too, and it really seemed like he could have easily gotten his vaccine while there if he wanted to game the system. (But we’re honest, and didn’t do this.)

The entire process was quick and easy. In under five minutes, I’d gone through two registration lines and was sitting down to get my shot. I gave Jason my phone to take a picture, and the vaccination nurse got all excited and gave me a sign to hold that said, “I followed the science and got my Covid-19 vaccine. Let’s all do our part to end the pandemic!” The shot didn’t hurt at all, and I was sent off to the next registration line, where they set up my next appointment for February 1st. It was at this point that I discovered that I’d received the Pfizer vaccine rather than the Moderna one. I have no idea why they made the switch, but I’m glad I’m not the sort of person who cares! Hell, getting the Pfizer vaccine means that my second dose is in three weeks instead of four. I’ll take it!

After the last registration was done, I was sent into an observation room, where I had to wait for a (self-timed) ten minutes to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction. Then Jason and I walked out and went home. Altogether, including the ten minutes of observation, we were in the mall for about twenty minutes. Like I said, extremely quick, easy, and efficient.

Now, as for the after-effects. I was on the lookout for side effects especially after discovering this was the Pfizer vaccine. (Not sure why, exactly – maybe I’ve just heard more stories about it from them?) For the first few hours, I had some mild transient headaches pop up and move around my head, but I think that was related to lack of caffeine and food rather than the vaccine. Later that day, my arm got sore in the muscle that was poked, as one would expect. By morning, that muscle was stiff as well, making it more difficult to raise my arm. A few hours later – roughly 28 hours post-vaccine – the arm pain was gone. I had no other side effects at all. Of course, I’m told that there are more side effects with the second dose, but I’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how I react then.

I’m very happy I was able to get in when I did. I know too many folks who have been unable to schedule their vaccines, even as the city and several other health systems have opened up to Tier 1b now. (Thousands of slots in some cases have been filled in under five minutes. !!! ) Chaos is the order of the day, people scrambling desperately for their golden ticket, with supply only enough to get to 3% of those who qualify at this point. People are sick of being told to be patient, but there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. It’s…absolutely nuts, tbh. Frustrating, poorly managed, and scattershot. But as for my own personal experience, things went well, and if they continue to go well, I should be as protected as I can be by around Valentine’s Day (two weeks after my second dose).

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The Dating Plan, by Sara Desai

Daisy is a somewhat awkward software developer with no plans to get married despite her aunts’ interference. Liam is a bad-boy trying to prove himself to a long-dead father. When Liam’s grandfather dies and leaves him the family business on condition that he get married before his next birthday, it seems perfect that he’s just run into Daisy at a tech conference. The fact that she announced to her aunts that the two of them were engaged is just icing on the cake. The two have a complicated history, but the arrangement will work out for both of them if they can get over their Issues, and not fall in love in the process…

Yes, this is an absolutely cheesy, rom-com romance novel. I got it from Book of the Month this month, knowing it would be an absolutely cheesy, rom-com romance novel. What I didn’t expect was all the stereotypes (drunken, abusive Irish family; interfering and in-your-business Indian family; just on the “right” side of geek manic-pixie heroine; etc). That put me off from the beginning, and honestly? I’m one for one in the “wish I’d abandoned” category this year already. Not the best way to begin 2021.

It wasn’t all bad. It didn’t take itself seriously, which is good, and once I got past all the stereotypes (which were laid on really thick in the beginning), some of the story was fun to follow along with. But it wasn’t really my kind of book, tbh. I only kept reading because…well, because I hadn’t finished a book in weeks, and I hadn’t enjoyed any fiction I’d read since November. I was feeling book-starved. Of course, reading a book that I didn’t really like wasn’t going to help me, but I didn’t have anything else to read at that moment. I miss the libraries being open more than I can express right now.

I’m not bashing the book. It’s exactly what it said it would be – it’s just not my cup of tea, so to speak. I knew better, but read it anyway, and that’s on me.

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Wellness Wednesday – 52 Hike Challenge 2021

A couple members of my hiking group posted about this yearlong challenge at the end of December. I waffled on it. I wanted to sign up, but I didn’t want to spend the money on a challenge I could do on my own. Plus, if I was spending the money, I wanted to get the swag finisher’s medal, and that would triple the cost. So for the last two weeks, I decided to just have my own personal 52 Hike Challenge in 2021. Until last Saturday, when I caved and decided to go ahead and sign up (without the medal, sigh…). Y’all know I love this kind of thing, heh.

The 52 Hike Challenge can be started at any time. Technically it’s meant to be a once-per-week hiking challenge, but the rules are flexible. And I’m just a tiny bit cheating as I’m counting the two deliberate hikes I used for my personal 52-hike-challenge toward this one. I’d like this to be a 2021 thing, and not go into 2022. In any case, my Hike #1 was a 2.4-mile group hike at a local park, and my Hike #2 was a 2.9-mile duo-hike in the same park. Clearly, I need to branch out a bit! I’d like to explore many different parks/trails/climbs during this challenge!

I won’t be coming here on a weekly basis to report in or anything. Mostly this will be on Instagram/stories. But maybe I’ll check in here from time to time. And if anyone else wants to try something really cool, I highly recommend that you sign up! It’s a great way to achieve something awesome in 2021!

PS – I also decided to get a Texas State Parks pass (which lasts for a year), so I hope to have many, many new places to explore!!

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The Great Bra Hunt: Introduction

Okay. Let me get the awkward part out of the way first. If you don’t want to read about bras and bra-fit, just skip this series. There will be real talk about breasts and breast-issues, and photos in most of these posts to show actual fit (not website models). I know that’s not a topic for everyone, and it makes me extremely nervous to put this sort of thing out (especially in photos!). But honestly, this is the series I wish I could find from someone else, so I’m taking the plunge and going through with this. Again, just skip this post and future posts if this isn’t for you. Each one will be clearly labeled.

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Sunday Coffee – Let’s Talk About Insurrection

Let’s make this very clear: What happened in the US this week was:

  1. unlawful
  2. insurrection
  3. attempted coup
  4. domestic terrorism
  5. treason
  6. pre-planned (they even had shirts made for the event in some cases)
  7. easily predictable, especially these last few months, and reasonably predictable for the last 12+ years
  8. clear evidence of the police’s double standard and bias
  9. exactly what Prump has been calling for (and encouraged by him, in person, the day-of)
  10. a failure of everything America is supposed to stand for

Let’s make another thing clear: our “president” enjoyed the “loyalty” of these terrorists, calling them “very special people” and saying he loved them.

(yes, this is real)

Clarity: If those “protestors” had been any other color than white, they would have been shot, arrested, beat up, and otherwise demolished by the police. They would have been lambasted and demonized by Prump.

Clarity: No, the troublemakers who broke past barriers, smashed in windows, brought automatic guns, vandalized offices, took selfies in the Senate, and stole property were NOT agitators from the other side trying to make Prump-supporters look bad. Many of the worst agitators have been identified from photos and fall squarely in the Prump, nazi, neo-nazi, QAnon, Proud Boys, and/or white supremacist camps.

Historical note, from my friend Allie, who teaches US History among other things:

The last time the Capitol was breached was in the attack on Washington DC in 1814. This was during the War of 1812 when the British attacked.

Politicians are jumping ship across the board, but what’s more indicative of the truth is how many GOP politicians in the house still objected to confirmation of state electorates. They knew they could do it and get away with it, knew that it would make no difference to the result, but that they’d be able to use it for political points in future elections with their constituents. The people jumping ship are only doing so now that it’s gone so far, now that it’s too late for it to matter, now that in a couple weeks, their leader-in-chief will be no more. The ship is already in shallow waters. It means nothing to “abandon ship” when the water is only ankle-deep.

Back in 2008, when President Obama won his first term, I had my first personal experience that pointed directly to the events this week. Of course, I’d seen how the ugly, racist sentiments had risen to visible levels throughout the 2008 campaign. I knew people were angry and didn’t like their comfortable status quo upset, and I also saw how they blamed anything but racism for their discomfort and aggression. A few days after Obama won, I attended a book club at my local library. I was one of only two attendees other than the librarian hosting, who was a friend of mine. The other attendee was a woman who spent the entire quarter-hour she was there refusing to discuss the book, but instead telling us all about this new Tea Party that was going to “bring that Muslim man down.” She thought we should leave the book club behind and go with her to a Tea Party rally. My librarian friend and I declined, and were left to discuss this with each other afterwards.

Back then, I didn’t see the warning signs. I thought this nonsense would be over quickly, and I was wrong. The Tea Party and extremist GOP views snowballed into conspiracy organizations such as QAnon, fueled other conspiracy organizations like Infowars, and gave rise to the power of incompetent, power-hungry politicians like Ted Cruz and Michele Bachmann. Tea Party extremists have fueled racism, white supremacy, anti-media sentiment, and conspiracy theories, leading to many acts of domestic terrorism as well as (most recently) hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths as they spout covid, vaccine, and mask conspiracy theories. This is a dangerous political trend on the far extreme right side of the spectrum, and like any group of extremists, should be taken seriously and SHUT DOWN.

By the time this week’s events unfolded, I was not surprised, not even in the slightest. I’ve been expecting something like this for months now. I’m angry, and I feel helpless, because in all honesty, it doesn’t matter if these events fall into all ten of the categories I named above: NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. No action** will be taken, no people will be arrested, no politicians will be held accountable. The Idiot-in-Chief will continue to claim he was falsely ousted from office, and his followers – both the blind and the deliberate – will continue to push our country into further violence and separation. And likely it will happen again in the weeks to come.

I have friends and family who support this man, but I’m sorry, I won’t stay quiet. There’s a difference between being a conservative/Republican and being a Prump-supporter. I’m all for political discourse and contrary views. Hell, I wish there were more than two large political parties in our country! But there’s a HUGE difference between “contrary views” and “insurrection.” If you’re on the Prump side, you’re not only on the wrong side of history, you’re on the wrong side of the law. STFU, go home, and take a good look in the mirror. You’ve either been duped or you’re a nasty human being. There is no other option. My advice? Step away from the insurrectionists, apologize, improve yourself, and stop being/supporting a traitor to this country.

**Yes, I know there are articles of impeachment etc being drafted, but I honestly still believe nothing will come of this.

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Quarantine Diaries – Weeks 41 to 43

First, I want to apologize for the length of this. I’ve been keeping my quarantine diaries weekly while numbers are skyrocketing here, but the last two Fridays have been holidays. I didn’t exactly want to put up covid news on Christmas or New Year’s! So I decided to just put all three of the last weeks together, and let this post be a bit longer than usual.

Second, I have a lot of thoughts on the insanity in DC this week. I’m organizing them and trying to make my feelings a bit more coherent. That will come, but not in this post. I have no plans to just pretend this sh*t didn’t happen.

Week 41 – Dec 18 to 24
106,793 cases, 1629 deaths, 1208 seven-day rolling average, 14.4% positivity rate (up again). [Note: case, death, and rolling average numbers are from 12/23 because of the holiday on 12/24.] Hospitals are almost where they were this July, and this week, we hit the level of 15.1% of all hospital beds taken for covid patients (12/22). Per the state, if we stay at 15%+ for seven days straight, occupancy limits in restaurants etc will decrease from 75% to 50%. That, more than anything, shows just how inadequate the government measures have been. The whole state is seeing record numbers of cases – here in SA, we had 1717 cases on 12/22, a record high over our previous of 1688 on 7/22 – and yet we’re still allowing all businesses of every kind to be open at 75% capacity or more!! It’s madness. (Especially the church services, which have no limitations or rules of any kind and are statistically the largest spreaders besides bars!)

(emergency alert 12/22)

We also hit the grim milestone this week (12/18) of over 100k total cases in the last nine months, with that number quickly growing. (So far – as of before Christmas – 30% of all our cases have been in December. The month shaping up to be a repeat – if not worse – of July.) Thankfully, school is out. Our local high school only had one day of school in this date range (12/18), and reported 3 more sick students that day. I can only imagine what the daily letters home would be saying if we weren’t now on winter break.

(TX cases)

Meanwhile, vaccine distribution continues with EMS and fire first-responders. Several more of my friends who work in heath care got theirs this week. The TX governor also got his vaccine, just like all the politicians in Washington. It’s frustrating when politicians who have either refused to act or have actively called covid a hoax then turn around and get vaccines before people on the front lines. But Jason pointed out that at least in Abbott’s case, he’s made some minimal attempts to slow the spread, including a (very late) mask order for the state this summer. His base is made largely of covid-deniers who refuse the vaccine, so perhaps him getting it early and so visibly will help some change their minds. Of course, the fact that Abbott then plans to reopen the capitol building on 1/4 as if we’re not in the middle of a giant wave is utterly preposterous, so there’s that…

But speaking of the vaccines, the next tier has been decided for distribution: people over the age of 65 or people over 16 who have certain medical conditions that are associated with higher rates of death from covid. And actually – I didn’t expect this – I actually fit into one of those categories, so I might be able to get my vaccine earlier than expected. Huh. I guess we’ll see. It’ll be some time before the first-tier folks all get theirs!

Week 42 – Dec 25 to 31
115,685 cases, 1,538 deaths, 1,121 seven-day rolling average, 19.2% positivity rate (huge increase!). This week’s numbers – except positivity rate – mean just about nothing as 4-5 of the 7 days were holidays where many clinics and city-run testing sites were closed. Plus there were a lot of backlogged cases added and some problems with state reporting. And, as expected from the announcement last week, we hit the 7-days-at-15% covid capacity in the hospital system, so now there are new lower occupancy limits in place where applicable. The city has moved from “moderate/worsening” to “severe” in terms of danger level. They say that the UK mutated strain of covid is in the US, and while they haven’t found it here specifically yet, they would guess it has arrived.

In local news, I’m happy to say that the Spurs decided not to have in-person attendance in January after all. Smart decision, especially after the horrendous aftermath of the boxing match that allowed a “small” percentage of in-person attendance, resulting in a crowd of over 11k people all ignoring social distancing and mask procedures. But the big news this week is all about the vaccines. The state gave the go-ahead for Phase 1b vaccinations to go ahead. Most providers are continuing to give only to Phase 1a folks (health care providers, first line workers) as we still only have about 30% of them vaccinated as of 12/30. But one hospital system has opened up the Moderna vaccine to Phase 1b folks as of 1/4. That’s the category that I fit into, and I’ve signed up to get my first dose on January 11th! Woohoo! Best thing to happen on the eve of the new year!

Week 43 – Jan 1 to 7
128,067 cases, 1,587 deaths, 1,534 seven-day rolling average, 23.2% positivity rate (another major increase all around). Some of that data is still skewed re: holiday closures, but closer than it has been the last two weeks. Remember how we only hit 100k cases on 12/18, and now we’re at 128k? And remember those record-high numbers of 1717 cases on 12/22? This week we had two days of over 2000 cases each. Sigh.

One number that can’t get skewed by holidays/backlogs is hospital numbers, which as of early this week, surpassed our highest levels from July. Personnel is being brought in from outside the city to expand capacity as we’re reaching our breaking point, over 1000 folks so far. Elective surgeries are mostly suspended. On Tuesday night, there were only 42 ICU beds left…in a city of 2.2 million people. Also on Tuesday – and how is this for irony? – some patients were shipped out to El Paso for treatment, the way we took their patients in a few months back. Non-covid patients are being transferred over to military hospitals to make room for covid patients as well.

Then there are the schools, which blithely went back to in-person learning after the two week break this week, despite the dire numbers in our community. Our local high school reported that 11 students and 3 teachers tested positive over the break, and a further 12 students and 3 staff tested positive by Thursday evening this first week back. That’s ONE high school of ~85 in San Antonio, not to mention the middle and elementary schools underneath those. I can’t even find an estimate of total schools in our city. Hundreds, if not thousands…now multiply one high school’s numbers outwards…

Moving on. As I mentioned above, one hospital system here opened up vaccination slots on the 31st for those who qualify under tier 1b. News reports conflict as to whether there were 11k or 17k slots opened, but either way, they were all filled in under 5 hours. Actual vaccinations began this week on the 4th. I’m so excited to be getting mine next week! I know of several friends who are either over 65 or have qualifying chronic conditions (or both) who managed to get slots as well, though far too few. Of course, as the city points out, ~60% of San Antonio falls under the categories laid out under tier 1b. That’s about 1.3 million people…

Now to bring things back to the home level. Every year, my mom’s side of the family gets together on NYE at my grandparents’ ranch. They have a giant bonfire, a chili potluck, and fireworks. Notably, I always leave before the fireworks because that’s a disaster waiting to happen, but otherwise the bonfire is enjoyable. This year, of course, my immediate family opted out. Because yes, despite everything, the bonfire was still on. It got moved to the 1st due to pouring rain on the 31st, but it did happen. There were a dozen or more family members there, not a single one of them wearing masks, all sitting/standing together and serving themselves from the same utensils. This is the same side of the family who have all said they refuse to get vaccinated no matter what (even if it means having to shut down the school that several of them run), and who are quick to point fingers to “antifa” as being behind violent political rallies that are, in reality, verifiably pro-Trump folks. It makes me really sad, because I haven’t seen my grandparents since last year’s bonfire, and I haven’t seen many of my other family members since my cousin’s wedding last February. But they’re all vulnerable, and I can’t take the risk of visiting, not until things are much better or at least most of us can be vaccinated. Sigh.

Moving forward
My vaccine is next Monday. We’ll keep wearing masks and washing our hands. What else can we do?

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Wellness Wednesday – True Changes in Body Image

Last spring, I took a five-day body image course through Girls Gone Strong. It was an adaptation of a 28-Day Love Your Body Challenge that Molly Galbraith, one of the founders of GGS, originally hosted in 2014. I participated in that first challenge, and it really did change the way I viewed my body in a permanent way. I wasn’t sure I’d get anything more out of the five-day course, and yet, I did. There was one big change that I needed to make.

The course suggested that I cleanse my environment of images that made me feel bad rather than inspired. I cleaned out the “inspiration” folder I used for my desktop images, which was full of photos of a younger, thinner me, and replaced them with a variety of photos. Friends, family, achievements, body-positive images, people of different shapes/sizes/colors, athletes of all sizes and abilities, photos of happiness. This change had an immediate effect on me, reminding me of my accomplishments (completely disconnected from my body-size) and making me smile as different photos popped up on the rotating background.

So this is good and all, but the true test of something is how it changes a person over time. And I just had my eyes opened in December.

I’ve been watching a lot of Murdoch Mysteries on Hulu. They’re a fun way to pass the time and I enjoy the story. The drawback is the ads – I despise commercials, and always have. The ones that have been showing lately are really awful: perfume ads, matchmaking apps –> , and others that feature “perfect” women with “ideal” bodies and “flawless” looks to sell their products. And one day, when three of these came up in a row, my stomach actually turned. I didn’t feel longing or determination or despair. I felt disgust.

Now, let me start by making it very clear that the disgust wasn’t for these women themselves. It was instead for the way they were being sold to us. I realized that I no longer saw those media-distorted versions of them as perfect, ideal, or flawless. These women were made to generic, each one the same as the next, like dolls – which of course is exactly the intent: the “perfect” image of womanhood held up for all of us to absorb, so that we will know deep inside that if we, too, can be extra-thin, young, and good-looking, we too can be happy (find love, enjoy our jobs, have adventures…). And y’all? I’m sick of this.

Give me interesting faces, and women of all ages, and all different body types. Show me different ethnicities, and hairstyles, and physical abilities, and clothing. Feature women who are strong and kind and smart and happy and accomplished. Let us all see the giant range of unique people in this world, rather than trying to narrow our world down to a single ideal.

Because it really does make a difference. The small act of changing what I see on my computer screen day in and day out has completed shifted my view of “normal,” in addition to my views of “perfect,” “ideal,” and “flawless.” And maybe if we can shift our ideas of normal, broaden the horizon of what we view as “womanhood,” and come to accept a wider array of bodies, we can eventually divorce ourselves from the idea of body-image being attached to beauty or looks, as this wonderful Ted Talk discusses.

Do I know that this is a tall order that media is unlikely to embrace? Of course. It does them well to have us desperate for an unattainable body. But I also know that each of us is capable of shifting our own mindset, and detaching from the snare of cultural trappings. This is a mission for us all individually. I’m not going to claim that it’s easy, or quick, or that I myself am cured of body image issues. Hell no. This is pervasive, insidious stuff we’re dealing with! However, the more of us who fight back and change our individual perspectives, the stronger we become – individually, and as a whole. Women deserve more than the roles of “thin” or “beautiful” given to us. We deserve more, and we ARE more. To me, that’s a mission worth undertaking, and a goal worth fighting for.

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2021 Book Priorities

Each year, I make a list of books that I want to prioritize in my reading. A big chunk of these are books that have ended up in my Audible queue, or are sitting on the “to investigate” list of my TBR. Another chunk are books that will be published throughout the year – assuming publication dates don’t change. I’m not a fan of having a massive backlog of books waiting for me – it stresses me out! So every since I culled my TBR down from 400+ to under 10 books in 2011, I’ve kept up a yearly list of books that have somehow built up in queue for too long. This way, I never have (published) books on my TBR pile for more than a year or so!

This year, I have 27 books on the list, which is on the higher end for me (there is never more than 30 – that’s my breaking point!). I may not read them all. This list is for reading or culling if I decide they aren’t right for me. I’ve starred books that are guaranteed reads. Sadly, I don’t have as many of those this year as in years past!

  1. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
  2. Dark One Volume 1 by Brandon Sanderson
  3. As the Shadow Rises by Katy Rose Pool
  4. Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
  5. The Original – Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal
  6. The Scapegoat – Daphne du Maurier
  7. The Fortune Teller – Gwendolyn Womack
  8. Compete to Create – Michael Gervais and Pete Carroll
  9. Devil’s Night – Todd Ritter
  10. The Haunting of Brynn Wilder – Wendy Webb
  11. Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – Ben Montgomery
  12. Half Light – Tayari Jones
  13. Off Menu – Nell McShane Wulfhart
  14. Unhallowed Graves – Nuzo Onoh
  15. The Reluctant Dead – Nuzo Onoh
  16. The Regrets – Amy Bonnaffons
  17. Elatsoe – Darcie Little Badger
  18. The Postscript Murders – Elly Griffiths (March)*
  19. Rule of Wolves – Leigh Bardugo (March)
  20. Bridge of Souls – Victoria Schwab (March)*
  21. Wilde Child – Eloisa James (March)*
  22. Mister Impossible – Maggie Stiefvater (May)*
  23. One Great Lie – Deb Caletti (June)
  24. Any Way the Wind Blows – Rainbow Rowell (July)*
  25. Survive the Night – Riley Sager (July)
  26. The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang (August)
  27. Nowhere – Brandon Sanderson (2021)*

I’m currently reading the first of these, Elatsoe, and I’m unsure as of yet if it’s one I’ll continue. It might not be right for me. I’m trying to be pickier this year about not continuing with books that are okay-but-not-great-for-me. I’ve had too high a percentage of my books for the last few years falling into the “wish I’d abandoned” category (upwards of 20%), and they almost exclusively come from the “just okay for me” books. I want to get more out of what I’m reading.

I also feel a transition coming on. Most of this last year, I’ve been reading tons of mysteries and paranormal fiction, and my brain is turning from that to something new. I’m not sure what the New is yet, but it feels slower, calmer, deeper; the way it has felt when I go through a period of reading classics or nonfiction. Guess I’ll see what ends up appealing, yeah?

In any case, this is the list I’ll return to throughout 2021, to read or choose-not-to-read as the situation dictates.

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Sunday Coffee – 2021 Goals

I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the shape of my 2021 goals. Initially, I just made myself a traditional list, the way I do most years. Then I started to think about what I’d really like to accomplish – not just accomplish, but work toward. I started to think about the theme of that work, and hit on a One-Word for 2021 that feels 100% right:

I realized that I don’t just want a list of tasks this year. I want a journey. I want a path to travel, even if I don’t make it to any specific end-goal. I want to look back on 2021 and see what I’ve accomplished in action, even if action doesn’t necessarily end in progress. There have been too many years when, no matter how hard I try, I don’t reach my number-oriented end-goals. This year, I want to do something different. So I’m building these goals around the concept of Momentum, with the hope to build a Better Me through 2021.

Note: I designed these goals prior to discovering (on 12/26) the probable root of my inflammation/illnesses/health issues (what shall be known from now on as the Devil-Bed). Going into 2021, I don’t know if removing the source of these problems will allow my body to regain its health (and normality!), or if the past 5+ years have caused permanent damage. It’s possible that I’ll be able to reach specific end-goals in 2021. It’s also possible that I need time to heal, or adapt to this being a permanent “normal” for me. So I’m not changing my original ideas, and will continue to focus on actions rather than results.

Goals

Medical: I need to catch up on the many, many backlogged medical tests/exams/visits that I’ve put off either due to covid or distrust (with good reason) of doctors. (A mammogram, an orthopedic surgeon, a urogynecologist, a sleep specialist, an endocrinologist, and a rheumatologist.) I also have a combo functional medicine and PCP physician covered by my insurance that I plan to change over to if my current new doctor ends up being hyper-focused on symptoms rather than the whole situation. Note: If my body goes back to being normal after removing the Devil-Bed from my life, some of these visits won’t matter anymore.

Fitness: Generally, I’m pretty good in this category, so I’m aiming for some stretch goals here. I want to train for a half-marathon (can be walked or walk/run) throughout the year to build endurance with a tangible finish line. Along the way, I’d like to walk/run/hike 500+ miles and explore some new-to-me areas. Bonus points if I can improve my current mile and 5K PR!

Nutrition: This is an area that will require a lot of tweaking. Everything I’ve done – for the last five years – in terms of nutrition (food sensitivities, carb-balance, etc) has been influenced by the Devil-Bed, so I need to rediscover the best nutrition for my body. I’ll need to retest for food sensitivities, improve hydration-balance, and test carb-balance. Furthermore, I plan to cut coffee altogether (the earlier, the better) and generally move toward eating more real food again, with higher numbers of fruits and veggies (always a challenge for me!). This category may be a bit fluid depending on how my body changes post Devil-Bed.

Sleep: Insomnia remains my #1 health issue, ongoing for over nine years now. I’ve just replaced my Devil-Bed, which I hope will improve the situation. Furthermore, I plan to cut coffee altogether, get my nutrition right for my body, take regular magnesium citrate supplements, see another sleep specialist if necessary, and turn off all screens and blue-light early in the evening. (Yes, some of these goals are overlapping other categories. Health is interrelated!)

Injury Prevention: Part of moving forward is making sure I’m not forced to a grinding halt, yeah? So I need to be consistent with stretching, yoga, foam rolling, and strength training (even when I dislike the latter two!).

Home Environment: As we continue to shelter at home during this pandemic, I need to make my home environment more comfortable and less chaotic. Some of this is tangible, like finishing the house-construction bits that we can do ourselves (front yard; back siding; internal walls from siding construction; replace the boys’ toilet; rewire the garage). Some is monetary: paying down debt and not adding to it (especially with further house issues if at all possible!). The last bit is personal: begin mornings with some gentle yoga; improve and follow my routines even with everyone home (this is far hard!) especially on weekends; do more to keep the house uncluttered.

Mental Health: Considering what 2020 has taken away, my mental health has been remarkably stable over the last year. To keep it that way, and improve it further, I need to return to regular yoga practice, continue hiking socially, get together with old friends when that’s allowed again, take a vacation if at all possible (our last one was Sept 2018!), get out of my comfort zone to explore new things/places, and potentially look into Sondermind to find a better therapist than I’ve been able to get in town.

Contribution: My family has been very fortunate throughout this pandemic, and it’s made us more conscious of the ways in which we can give back. Jason and I together decided that we want to avoid using Amazon and other big businesses as much as possible in 2021. Instead, we’ll focus our purchases on small or local businesses, especially women-owned, women-oriented, non-white-owned, and/or LGBTQIA-owned. Additionally, if at all possible re: covid, I’d like to volunteer at my local library this year.

Career/Identity: In 2020, I decided against the career I had in mind, because I realized that I absolutely do not want to go back to the traditional academic route. I’ve spent months thinking about careers I’ve considered over the last decade. One has stood out over the rest. I’m not ready to discuss the details publicly, but in 2021, I’d like to read, study, and explore this direction to see if it ends up a viable, feasible path for me. “Career” has never been a dream of mine, and I’ve never had more than a vague thought about what I wanted to do beyond raising and taking care of my family. So when I do choose a path, I want it to be more than “a job.” I want to do something that I can put my passion into. This goal is about discovering if my initial passion and interest is one I can mold into something more. (And yes, I 100% recognize that this is an incredibly privileged place to be in, and am grateful for the opportunity to explore.)

This is my vision board for 2021 – focused on Momentum and the actions that I want to take. I look forward to seeing where this vision takes me!

Results

Yes, there are results I’d like to get out of my 2021 goals. I’ve built these goals around forward progress rather than end-results, because end-results aren’t always within my control. These markers aren’t aims to reach for, but hopeful outcomes. Some of these are already mentioned above:

  • Find/fix any secondary cause(s) of my inflammation/illnesses
  • Improve VO2 Max
  • Improve resting heart rate
  • Improve one-mile and 5K PR times
  • Decide on a future career path
  • Walk/run/hike 500+ miles
  • Complete 30+ pushups
  • Decrease overall family debt
  • Lose weight (yes, I have a specific number in mind, but more importantly, I’d like to get my weight generally trending in the right direction)
  • Find doctors I can trust and that will help me

Reward

In the past, I’ve rewarded myself for end-results rather than actions taken. This year will be different. At the end of 2021, I’d like to take a critical look back over how I achieved my goal of Momentum. (As illustrated by the Judgement tarot card.) If I’ve done well – regardless of results – I’ll give myself a big reward. I have one in mind: a larger, more expensive tattoo that I haven’t been able to justify in the past. This feels like a good thing to work toward without also becoming a hinderance in the form of “but I’ll never make it.” And if I don’t do well, if I fail to make progress, Judgement is a good time to look back, reevaluate what did and didn’t work for me, and make new plans going forward. Even that, in a way, is a good step forward.

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