What I ate, on March 26th, 2006, and other things I’m throwing away

On March 26, 2006, I ate the following:

bk: coffee, yogurt, peanut butter on a banana

dn: chicken and sausage, mashed potatoes, green peas, wine

hmm. No lunch. But I remember that chicken and sausage recipe – it’s wonderful…you roast chicken thighs and sausage together with some broth, some onions and some garlic. A character in a book I read referred to it as a dish every Southern girl throws together when company arrives unexpectedly so of course, being from Michigan, I had to try it.

On July 30th, 2006, I ate:

bk: coffee, vanilla yogurt with pecans and sliced a sliced peach

lunch: veggie omelette

dn: turkey sausage, spinach

I seriously do not eat sausage regularly! I’m not stopping until I find a day w/out sausage…

Okay, here we go…On October 18, of this year, I ate: bk: coffee, oatmeal. ln: 1/2 turkey sandwich, 1 cup soup. dn: 2 glasses wine, shrimp, salad

On October 3rd of this year, this was my “to do” list:

5:45 – wake up. drink  coffee. work on novel

7:00 – Shower

8:00 – Leave for work

on lunch break, call Deb and Jodi re: A’s birthday

5:00 – Elliptical trainer (1 hour!!!)

7:30 – trivia with friends

On April 20th, 2005, my blood pressure at the doctor’s office was 106/80

* It took me eight tries to officially and actually, for real and forever, quit smoking*

* I currently way fifteen pounds less than I did on some random Monday in 2006*

* Before I moved from Pittsburgh, I once practiced yoga eight times in seven days*

I don’t know when I began organizing my life through five subject notebooks (one section each for exercise, food intake, to do lists, daily schedules and overall health) – junior high? High school? I’ve been doing it for so long it’s like this way of being has always been with me. I’ve always adored five subject notebooks, for some reason, and even in junior high absolutely refused to settle for three subject or one subject notebooks when shopping for school supplies. If I bought four, five subject notebooks (follow?) each class could be assigned TWO of the five sections and then, when bored, I worked on short stories and poems in the last section during class.  So it probably seemed only natural at some point to start writing my “to do” lists in these notebooks, and then certainly somewhere I read journaling one’s food intake was a good idea, and even as a teenager I liked to keep track of how many miles I walked or ran, and on and on it went so even when I went to college and gave up the 5 subject notebooks for note-taking, becoming partial to the kind of notebooks bound at the TOP of book, and indeed, I use that kind of notebook to this day, I still scheduled my life, kept track of my heart rate, made grocery shopping lists, and what food I served whom so as to never duplicate a meal for guests…in a five subject notebook.

But. Not anymore.

No.

Have you read this post by Bloglily? It struck such a chord with me. And her following post, where she explains the biggest reason for her sheer determination to make an actual, real plan for this month:

“I have also been unreliable in my friendships and I will confess right now that one big impetus to getting these goals organized is so I can never, ever, ever again do what I did this Wednesday, which is stand up a lovely friend who was waiting for me to go and taste food (free food!) for a party we are organizing. How did this happen? A child got sick, I had to stay home from work, and I could only open that single program — the sick child/mom as doctor program — that day. So I dedicate my planning efforts to K, who may not forgive me, but who will be the catalyst behind my being a tad more reliable”

People, I’ve done this. I just this weekend canceled brunch plans with M because…I am not kidding…I overbooked myself.

I mean, seriously. I am not the president (not  that he would overbook himself anyway, but that is neither here nor there). I am not a doctor. I don’t have children. I don’t, for goodness sake, have a pet. I have one hardy plant, given to me by M because, you know, it’s basically unkillable.

And yet I find myself overwhelmed with my life, and there is nothing wrong with my life except that it is full of riches I barely deserve – full of smart, engaging, talented friends who have plays for me to see and their own photography exhibits for me to visit and readings of their novels at nearby coffee shops. And family – I have a family who, of all the wretched things, wants to spend time with me. I have the burden of having head hunters call me from competing hospitals, and I have a meaningful job that requests  demands I earn my salary – and none of this mentions my writing, my husband, etc.

And yet, for all of this, I find myself unable to attain any sort of balance. It’s all well and good to have friends I want to spend time with but really, I need to get the oil changed in my car. And how can I work on my novel when I know the toilet hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks? And who is going to buy stamps for the Christmas cards? I mean, seriously.

When I grow overwhelmed like this, I tend to let things I particularly enjoy slip away. I am significantly overdue on the “Why I blog” meme but the biggest and greatest reason is because I love it. I ❤ blogging – it is immensely enjoyable to me. I also abandoned my own writing, cooking proper dinners (and yes, I have an oven, more on that soon), reading, seeing movies – I abandon the things I enjoy the most in face of increasing demands at work and social expectations.

I need a new way of organizing my life. Reading bloglily’s posts, and the comments from her many readers, all of whom I assumed had it so together that all Christmas presents were purchased, cards written, cookies baked and they were all probably somewhere together, drinking martinis and trying out to appetizer recipes, well – it sounds terrible to say I found myself reassured by the fact chaos ruled the lives of others as much as it did mine.

The 5 subject notebook no longer works. It has to go. I already log what I eat into weight watchers.com – and I keep track of my exercise progress at the gym. For most of my life, even with this burdensome notebook, I’ve lived day to day, simply trying to fit in larger goals that take quite a bit of time into a day here and there. It’s ineffective. It doesn’t work. And so, I have thrown away the five subject notebook. I bought a nice, large planner with lots of room for error, and notes. And I am going to think of December as a whole month, and arrange my goals accordingly. And this month, I am going to write. And blog. And try some new recipes. And bake some old favorites. And I am not going to wind myself up about the trip to the in-laws. And I am going to exercise.

Some things I would like to accomplish this month:

I would like to remain calm and centered during the holiday visit to my in-laws, and cherish the time instead of feeling nervous and concerned.

I would like to enjoy this season and not worry about spending exactly equal amounts on each person I buy gifts for. I will do the things I enjoy doing – writing cards (why does nobody do this anymore??? I love cards!), putting up a tree, eating cake and not do the things I don’t enjoy, like shopping at the mall on Saturdays, decorating the outside of the condo and overeating. And going out on New Year’s Eve. I HATE that.

I guess I could wait until January to make this change, but this isn’t so much a resolution as it is a decision, and now, with the conversation happening out in the blogosphere, it seems like just the write time to begin! I’ll let you know how it goes!

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10 Responses to What I ate, on March 26th, 2006, and other things I’m throwing away

  1. bloglily says:

    Yay Courtney. I think it is almost as important to make note of what WON’T go in your plans as what will. I really liked your Not To Do list. And I love thinking of December as the month for getting in charge of how things go rather than the other way around. And now I’ve got to go and get something to write on, because for so long my plans have been in my head, and I need to see about writing something down. Thanks for such a lovely and inspiring post. xoxox, BL

  2. Litlove says:

    I can promise you that I am in the overwhelmed and disorganised camp despite being off work and having in principle, nothing to do. I don’t know how life gets the better of me all the time, but it certainly does. At the moment I’m in a devil may care mood and am letting it all wash over me, but I AM going to have to make a list for Christmas present shopping soon!

  3. Carl V. says:

    Wow, what an enlightening, thought-provoking post. I certainly will be thinking back to this during the New Year’s period which is when I tend to do a “look back/look forward” sort of assessment of myself and my life. I too have been unreliable to friends at times and it is a painful way to be, so I’ll join the cause and will examine that as well.

    One thing I would encourage you to do is not feel like you have to ‘have it all together’. That is an illusion. The goal really is to achieve balance and, in the end, to be able to just take a breath and enjoy each day for what it is rather than getting caught up in how much there is to do, etc. Your meticulous orgazination in some areas has certainly had some benefits, I assume, in your occupation, etc. and I hope you can take some of these skills that sound like they’ve gotten out of hand and use them as strengths to become the person you are wanting to be.

    Great post, thank you so much for sharing all of this.

  4. Noble Savage says:

    Hey, I could eat spinach for nearly every meal too so I don’t blame you for having it a lot. Congrats on finally having an oven!

    Oh, and I ❤ blogging too. There need be no other reason for doing it. 🙂

  5. Chaos does rule, Courtney, certainly in my household. Things get forgotten, phone calls not retuned and tax forms remain virgin and pure. It’s normal. I’m trying not to beat myself about my organisational failings, which is why I’m not yet getting around to answering BlogLily’s call. I will, but it’s making me anxious.

    The one thing I do try to prioritise is people over things – so my friends get more attention than my laundry and my kids get more attention than the kitchen floor. And if I don’t send Christmas cards this year (again), then everyone can expect a phone call or a nice New Year card from me!

  6. Courtney says:

    Bloglily – Thank YOU for setting the trend. I have to say, a certain peacefulness has descended over me the last day or two – having goals for the month seems so much more managable than weekly goals! It helps to break it down into smaller tasks – now I just have to see if it works out!

    Litlove – ah yes, the shopping list. I have names, but few inspirations this year, and I just tried to buy my mom what she requested online and it’s only purchasable in the store!

    Carl V – thanks for the kind words. I think you are right – I don’t need to look like it’s all together or feel that way – it’s not, and it never will be! But having some measure of control, and a NEW way to plan, both are comforting.

    Noble – oh, I love spinach – both fresh and frozen are ALWAYS in my fridge.

    Charlotte – I try to keep that as my guiding principle too – people over all other things. But I do feel sometimes that then I can sort of get lost in the shuffle and if I prioritize, say, some reading time OVER going to the bar or something, I am a ctually taking care of myself…

  7. Pingback: What I ate, on March 26th, 2006, and other things I’m throwing away · Elliptical Exercise Blog

  8. Stefanie says:

    Yay Courtney! Great post, and good for you for taking charge. I always try to organize away chaos in my life but it simply doesn’t work and I’ve have had to learn to just let some things happen. I hope your new planner works out. I love planners.

  9. Emily Barton says:

    I am definitely in the overwhelmed and disorganized camp, which is why I tried to make my plan as balanced as possible and am eager to see if I can stick with it (so far, so good, on day 7, with only a few minor adjustments and changes, because flexibility is key).

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