July 2020 in Review

It was a rather peculiar month. All but the last few days of July were spent up north at my in-laws’ house with my two younger kids, while Jason and my oldest son stayed in San Antonio. I admit, I didn’t fare well mentally with my family separated that way. I spent a lot of time in my guest room, reading or exercising or simply doing meaningless tasks to keep me occupied and out of a spiral downwards. It felt very surreal, like a constant time slip – the same day over and over, no time passing at all. Part of that was being away from home, part was pandemic-living. Then about three weeks into the month, I had a peculiar day filled with pointless anxiety, and it pushed me over the edge into “I need to go home right now.” We left later that week and arrived home a month to the day after we’d left San Antonio.

(doggos keeping me company in WI)

Because of the long stay up north, I didn’t do very much in July. Most of my exercise was focused on yoga and strength training – stuff I could do in my room. I hardly went out of the house except to run a few errands. My agoraphobia started taking over again – another reason I needed to come home where I could expand my comfort zone wider. So once again, I’m glad we went, but I’m also glad to be home.

Speaking of home, there were two ridiculous house issues this month. I already discussed the water heater issue last week, but on the last day of July, we discovered another problem. As we made a grocery list for the week, Ambrose found that our chest freezer, which is in our garage, was completely defrosted. Apparently the GFCI had popped at some point recently, and all the food inside thawed out. Laurence had been out in the garage the day before and said that the front panel of the freezer was burning hot, which tells us that it had obviously had a short or some other issue. It was old and cheap to begin with, and had been through multiple cross-country moves. We were looking to replace it with an upright freezer anyway. Now we have to. Would have been nice to choose to, and not lose all the food inside, but at least Jason spent the month we were in WI using up stuff out of deep freeze, so we didn’t lose too much! Unfortunately, due to all the grocery-hoarding going on, there isn’t a freezer of any kind in town available, and online orders give arrival dates of October to December. !!! But I’m happy to say that yesterday, Jason snatched up a newly-arrived freezer that showed up on Best Buy’s website, and it should be delivered to us later this week. Whew!

Reading and Watching
After months of hardly reading anything (since about mid-February), July was an amazing reading month. I don’t know if it was the change in environment, the availability of holds coming in, or just getting my reading mojo back. Either way, I read six books this month, five of them fantastic. It is really difficult to choose my favorite of the month because three of these involved going back to revisit long-loved characters and worlds! I think I’m going to have to call it a tie between Empire of Dreams and The Lantern Men. And in a complete reversal of the last six-ish months, I read tons and watched almost nothing TV-wise – just the new Unsolved Mysteries series on Netflix, which was fun (though I miss the multi-story episodes and (of course) Robert Stack!), and a few episodes of the Murdoch Mysteries toward the end of the month.

Not much progress this month. Much of what I have left on my 2020 Goals is either on hold re: covid or plain old stuck (like my body refusing to lose any weight at all this year!). But there are two places where my goals continued to go well. First, Jason and I finished his car refinance, which takes off a huge chunk of unnecessary interest that we were paying and puts us in a better financial place. We’ll continue to work to make this even better. Second, my goal this year was to become a runner, and I made another great stride forward by running my first full 5K in years! That wasn’t even on my goal list because I didn’t think it would be possible yet, but I did it!

This month, I began the Girls Gone Strong personal training program that I joined at the end of June. So far, what we’ve done in terms of nutrition and mindset has been entry-level for me. Not much new to learn. But I’ve been working hard at starting the beginning stages of strength training, because I know that muscle-building is a critical factor in longterm health. My means were limited for most of the month (mostly bodyweight and stretch-band modifications for anything that used dumbbells), but I still worked hard. I learned that I can control DOMS with yoga as my dynamic warm-up, which has also helped me with running. Woohoo! And with little to do while I was up in WI, I got quite a huge chunk of exercise done, the most of any month in 2020 so far.

On the reverse side of things, thanks to two cross-country trips, my sciatica has been really bad. I’m really looking forward to seeing my chiropractor on the 12th to get it sorted out! The one I saw in WI was awful! I also haven’t seen any loss on the scale – in fact, I’m exactly the same as I was before I left, both in weight and measurements. (So it’s not just building muscle or something. I wouldn’t expect that, but people tend to point this out as a possibility.) At least I didn’t gain while up north, right? Honestly, I do feel like I’m getting stronger generally, beyond just these last four weeks. I saw an old facebook memory this month from 2011, about an hour of kayaking being a real workout that wore me out completely. By contrast, even 30 lbs heavier now, I kayaked for three hours a few weeks ago and was barely sore the next day – probably wouldn’t have been sore at all except for the twenty minutes I spent wrestling a submerged kayak underwater against a current!! So even though I weigh more now, I’m definitely stronger than I was nine years ago!

Highlights of July
It was a weird month, y’all, with a lot of mental health troubles due to being apart from my family for most of the month. But a lot of good things happened, too:

  • masks finally mandatory in TX
  • Wally the kitty keeping me company in WI
  • Zooming with my Australian friend, Oisin, for the first time after 14 years of email-friendship
  • running a full 5K for the first time since 2013, and first time ever at this weight (before was always 70-80 lbs lighter!)
  • some really great, highly-anticipated books
  • meeting my sis-in-law Emmy in person for the first time
  • kayaking down the river with my extended family
  • my second-most anticipated book of the year finally released and was a great read!
  • an awesome haircut
  • pre-release chapters of Rhythm of War began to post!
  • backing Brandon Sanderson’s kickstarter and scheduled to get a future set of fun stuff, including a new novella in my favorite series –> (pic courtesy of the kickstarter, design not final)
  • Ambrose turned 18! I have two adult children now!
  • arriving home and seeing family/kitties again, plus visiting my sister on the way down
  • when I went to review the school calendar for the year, I saw that instead of a holiday for Columbus Day that they usually have, they have one for Indigenous People’s Day – woo-hoo!
  • discovering that our local donut/kolache shop, Instant Donuts, is going to reopen after going out of business back in May

Coming up in August
Morrigan leaves for Kansas on the 21st, and Ambrose is supposed to start college on the 24th if all that comes together (lots of last-minute stuff with the community college plans). And somehow – guidelines have been unclear and contradictory – school is supposed to start for Laurence again on the 17th… And I’m torn about what I’m going to do, as I’m also supposed to start school this fall but have yet to apply (they have rolling admissions) because of all this pandemic stuff…

I also have a few goals for August. That shoe above is a color-by-mile challenge that I discovered in mid-June. I was already behind where I should be, and haven’t managed to catch up yet. My goal for August is to walk, hike, and/or run at least 60 miles to get a little closer to where I’m supposed to be to hit 500 miles this year. That’s going to be HARD in this heat! I’m also planning to further cut down my coffee consumption. One good thing about being in WI was that I had limited access to coffee, and so cut it down from three tumblers to two most days. I’m going to work on getting that to only one on most days. There are also only a few weeks left of my Summer Break Quarantine Goals, and have seven left to finish. Some won’t get done due to being in WI for a month, but I think I have a reasonable chance to accomplish most of them!

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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3 Responses to July 2020 in Review

  1. gricel d. says:

    Good luck to you and the boys with the fall school re-opening! Even though it’s not the ideal environment, online is probably the safest option by far (if available). My university has been running the numbers and concluded that only 10% of our student body could be “safely” distanced on-campus via a combination of hybrid and online learning (everyone else will be fully online). At our school, that equals about 3600 students, but never all at once, so it will be pretty far from the usual experience.

    And a big shock face at the fridge! I started using up a lot of my frozen stuff in preparation for the storm and lamenting what I would lose if the power went out (it didn’t, thank goodness). Losing a food stash is the last thing any of us wants at the moment.


    • Amanda says:

      At least we’re on the same page with Laurence about school. He doesn’t particularly want to go back in this environment either. I feel worst about Ambrose, who had to drop his apartment contract and who despises online learning. I’ve gotten him to realize that he prefers audiobooks to reading traditional books, so I’m hoping that we can find a way for him to get audio copies of whatever readings he needs to have for classes. This will really help. But we’ll see. It’s been far from ideal for him in particular this year. As for Morrigan, his classes are supposed to be half-in person, half-online, with a few that are fully online. He’ll be living on campus, so that’ll be interesting.

      I had no idea that the food hoarding going on right now was leading people to buy extra freezers and stuff. That’s nuts.


  2. Pingback: Summer Break Quarantine Goals Wrap-up | The Zen Leaf

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