My Daily Habit Tracker

We are already 1/12 done with 2018. January is often a psychologically hard month for me — the holidays are over, it’s cold, and it feels like winter will never end. This month, inspired by a friend, I started tracking a few daily habits.

I created a table that had five habits on it: meditation, stretching, partner, steps, and eating. For each of those, I had a daily goal. Complete a meditation and stretching session, spend intimate time with my partner, walk 10,000 steps, and don’t eat any sugar.

Normally, I great at upholding my own goals but can get overly harsh. So I made a soft agreement that it was okay to miss five or so days for each habit. There was an effort to consistency, but it didn’t dominate my life. I could take three days off eating for a long weekend and that was fine.

This has been going very well. I enjoy coloring in the relevant square for each habit every day and the visual impact of having a chart that is increasingly shaded is strong.

I split my chart into two monthly periods — the first to the fifteenth and then the sixteenth to the end of the month. This allows for a mental reset mid-month where I can reevaluate and recommit to my habits.

Book Review: Queen of the Tearling Triology (Books 1 & 2)

Book Review: 5 & 6

Queen of the Tearling Trilogy: Books 1 & 2 (Queen of the Tearling; The Invasion of the Tearling) – Erika Johansen


Queen of the Tearling

This was a dumb book. It was just good enough to keep my interest as I wondered about how the main character’s goals could be achieved. But ultimately the plot was full of holes. The romanticism didn’t make any sense, the era didn’t make any sense — and there was a weird body shaming where the main character was noticeably plain and then magically turned into a total babe. It just felt messy, like a book that was written as someone’s fantasy and then somehow was published.


The Invasion of the Tearling

This book was so bad that I am embarrassed to admit I read it. I hoped it would lead to some closure but it got worse and worse.

Thanks, Nice Man!

I was cozied up with my sisters in a beautiful tea shop this weekend. It was cold out and we were in a little indoor gazebo full of pillows. There was a man in the gazebo who was quietly eating cookies and writing in a journal. Outside the gazebo, there were a few more people — a couple studying for the GMAT, what looked like high school students on a date, and two friends having an insanely intimate conversation about the drama in their lives. The level of drama was high — including which of their friends they thought were having an affair. As someone who loves to eavesdrop and people watch, I could hardly bring myself to contribute to my own conversation with my sisters, because I could just not turn away.

When they left, we were joking to the gazebo guy about how over the top it all was and how we felt like they must have been performance artists.

We stayed a little longer, and then got up to go. The waiter told us that the nice man from the gazebo had paid our check for us!

It was such an unexpected but sweet gesture, and made all of us feel happy the rest of the weekend. Thanks, Nice Man!

A Morning Work Routine

I am currently in my seventh year with the same company. My bosses work in a separate office and I’m a senior person on a lot of my projects, which means I have a lot of flexibility to arrange my own time, throughout each day and then across the week.

Recently, I’ve felt a bit in a work rut. A lot of it has to do with the amount of work I have (not an overwhelming amount) and the way consulting has trained my brain to only work on urgent tasks. Some of it has been the constant news – news news news news news – all the time, every time, almost always crazy.

On days when I’m not that productive, I feel sort of bummed out. Moody, depressed – like I didn’t do enough work at work so don’t fully get to go home.

I’ve been thinking through creating a new morning work ritual. It would include:

  1. Turning my laptop on and letting it load up. In this period, I can putz around on my phone, but not open the internet to look at any news, information, etc.
  2. Opening my email – both work and personal – to see if there is anything urgent. Reply to anything urgent.
  3. Closing the internet and disconnecting my work email from the server.
  4. Choosing my most important tasks for the day & writing these down on paper.
  5. Setting a timer for 45 minutes and doing the tasks — without email or other distractions – and while standing at my desk.
  6. Taking a break to get a cup of coffee.
  7. Setting a timer for 45 minutes and doing the tasks — without email or other distractions – and while standing at my desk.

That’s it — basically aiming for two periods of at least 45-minutes of focused work to start my morning. I likely wouldn’t be able to do this every day (and would love to come up with a different ritual for days I work from home) but think it would be great for those days where I don’t have a lot of meeting and have long periods of time.

A Work Uniform

A few years ago, I found a perfect clothing item while thrift shopping. It was a black tunic, made of wool, but with a very loose knit. Sleeveless, it hit around mid-thigh and looked elegant and classy with a simple pair of leggings.

I started wearing this tunic to work every week, then twice a week, then more days a week than I wanted to admit. I hunted in vain for this tunic online but could never find anything by the maker that was even somewhat similar.

I already had a vision — to have THREE work tunics – and then to wear them every day of winter. Never again would I have to struggle to get dressed for work. Never again would I have to wear “work pants.”

Eventually, I did find a few other tunics that were similar. All were wool, two have full sleeves, the third is sleeveless. So now, I have four work tunics. Getting dressed in the morning takes me approximately three minutes because all I have to decide is sleeves or no sleeves and how thick I want my leggings to be.

Opting out of work clothes — inspiration for them, shopping for them, trying them on, returning them, etc, etc, – has been a real joy for me this winter.

Interestingly, only one person in my office ever realized I was wearing the same clothes daily, and this was after I had the work uniform in place for over a month.

Intuitive Lifting

My top form of exercise these days – and one of my favorite hobbies – is lifting. There are two main types of lifting: weightlifting (which refers to the Olympic lifts and is straight up insane) and power lifting. I am a power lifter which means I focus on three main lifts:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench

About six months ago, I took a course that covered all the basics in lifting. We met three days a week and covered the main lifts along with some others (front squat, overhead press) and tons of accessory accessories.

Since the course has ended, I have started my own lifting program. I was sort of tired of constantly thinking about my maxes on the different lifts, having a spreadsheet that told me exactly what weights to use, and generally following a program that wasn’t necessarily what my body was in the mood for.

In Intuitive Lifting, I do 3 sets of 5 reps of every lift each week. Tuesdays, I deadlift and bench. Thursdays, I overhead press and front squat. Saturdays, I back squat and do the dreaded push press.

Each day, I check what my lifts were for the day before and think about what’s feasible that day. Most often, I try to improve. If my front squat last week was 85 pounds and I did 3 sets of 5, this week I’ll aim for at least one set of 90.

But sometimes I just have an easier week. If my body is grumpy, I feel like I never work up, I’m starving, I’m about to have my period, I’ll just do the same as the week before or drop my weight and have an easy week.

And I pause between each of the three sets to evaluate how my lifts feel. If I was aiming for 65 pounds with my bench but the first set felt insanely hard, I’ll drop it down to 60. Likewise if 65 felt great, I’ll try to add some more weight or add some more reps.

Lifting in this way has been great for me — I get to respond to my body and lift mindfully, while still getting the benefit of forward progression.



Movie Review: Coco

Movie Review #2: Coco


Ahhh, Mama Coco. An aging woman, losing her memories, thinking that her father had purposefully abandoned her as a child. This was technically a kid’s movie (and I did, in fact, see it with a child), but was such a deep portrayal of familial love. Creative, beautiful, fantastical in turn, it helped the viewer see their place in their own family tree and understand how connected we each are to the ancestors that came before us.

Book Review: Anna Karenina

Book Review #4: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)


This was a beast of a book. The beginning was juicy. I, like everyone, knew what the main plot revolved around and the personalities of the characters and the showcasing of the formal nature of society made it pretty captivating. Also, it had this beauty of a line to refer to consummating an affair:

“That which for Vronsky had been almost a whole year the one absorbing desire of his life, replacing all his old desires; that which for Anna had been an impossible, terrible, and even for that reason more entrancing dream of bliss, that desire had been fulfilled.”

But the longer I read, the more it felt like an obligation. The characters started to wear me down and annoy me, the decisions started to seem too dramatic, and the forward plot seemed lost. Ultimately, I was relieved it was over and I could move on to a different book.

Opting Out: Podcasts

Unconsciously over the last year, I have been seeing what I can opt-out of without incident. After the election in 2016, I got really into podcasts. Partly as a way to escape the insane news, but partly as a way to help me digest it via all the great new political podcasts that emerged. A few months ago, I removed the podcast app from my phone. Now, if I’m on a delayed train or taking a lunch time walk, there’s nothing on my phone for me to listen to (and I don’t carry headphones anyway).

If I want to listen to a podcast now, I have to be at home, open my laptop, and consciously choose one. This has been great because there is a level of intention that I have towards podcasts now where I only listen if I am genuinely engaged.

Podcasts I still listen to include:

  • Call Your Girlfriend — two long-distance besties chat about their lives and their news. Feminist and powerful, it feels like being at brunch with your own best friends.
  • On Being – this was the first podcast I ever listened to. Interviews about life and spirituality. I love listening to the unedited cut so I get a whole sense of the interview. They also have a wonderful blog.
  • This American Life – always a classic. I avoid the sad episodes but there is a such a great archive here that I can almost always find something great.

And that’s it. Contrary to feeling deprived, I feel free from podcasts.

Movie Review: Lady Bird

Movie Review, #1: Lady Bird


Everyone knows I am a very fussy movie watcher. I don’t want anything too romantic, too sad, too unfair, too long, too white, etc. Lady Bird met all my criteria (well, maybe a bit too white). A coming of age movie about a girl, Lady Bird, becoming a woman (both in terms of aging and losing her virginity), it was a beautiful depiction of family ties, fitting in, society, the angst of growing up, etc. As someone who also went to a bougie private high school on a full scholarship, so much about Lady Bird’s friendships and interactions rung true to my heart (like never letting my friends see the house I lived in). What I loved most about the movie was the mother. Played by Laurie Metcalf, the fierceness and loving authenticity of the mom, and her interactions with Lady Bird reminded me of what it feels like, and what it felt like at that age, to be loved so fiercely but not necessarily parented, or living, in the way you want. And as someone who now no longer identifies too too much with teenagers, there was a growing sense of identity with the mother, and what it takes to shepherd your own children through the world, sometimes against their will. Would I watch it again? Probably not. Do I look forward to watching it with my daughter in 20 years? Yes.