Monthly Review: June

Here is my monthly review for June. If you want to read May’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

Honestly, I can’t think of much. It was a hard month that felt off the rails.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Routine. For a variety of life reasons, it just felt like every structure in my life fell apart. Rhino and I were out of town for consecutive weekends, I had a week-long business trip where I could never leave the hotel, my workout friend and I had ZERO weekends we could both make, and my office was closed for a problem in the building so I was working from home everyday. And, there was an insane heatwave (reaching into the 100s every day) so even my usual long walks were difficult. I came out of the month just feeling so ungrounded and so unhappy.
  • Meditation. Because of strange timing, I had two weekend meditation retreats this weekend. And I haven’t meditated since. I feel totally burned out on the experience and like I never want to meditate again.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • Mindfulness. Terribly. I never want to meditate again, though I have been fine with more general mindfulness.
  • Summer fun. I had a hard time enjoying myself just because everything was so busy and I couldn’t find any structure in the enjoyment. Without any disciplined time (working out, walking, eating well, productive work, etc.) it was hard to enjoy downtime.
  • Being accepting of where I am. This is fine. I have been self-compassion but I don’t know that self-compassion is what I need as much as structure and discipline.

4. What am I working toward?

  • Better structure and routine. I just really need this. I want to create a daily schedule for myself everyday that creates space for working out, the meals I will eat, my work hours, etc. I especially want this for working out because skipping the gym for me is a spiral that leads to doom. This is it. The sole goal for July.

Monthly Review: May

Here is my monthly review for May. If you want to read April’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Relaxation. We had 9 days off work and that was such a joy. We stayed pretty local but it felt so nice to have a real respite and spend a lot of time doing whatever we wanted. We swam in the ocean, took day trips, walked many miles each day, ate a lot of ice cream. It was just delicious all around, and we were also able to see a lot of family and friends.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Mental obsession. As my two blog readers know, I have had high anxiety over fertility. For some reason, though I can take most things as they come, I started to get overwhelmed with this fear that it would never happen. It was really, really hard to let these thoughts go.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • New office routines. This went terribly. I hate hate hate my new office which is basically like working inside an HVAC machine. I have had real difficulty getting any work done in my office because of the noise, the lack of good lighting, and a non-working phone line for much of the month.
  • Self-compassion. I had forgotten this was a goal, but have been doing a lot of work offering compassion to myself. This has become almost an automatic behavior which is nice. I’m also much better at offering compassion to others.

4. What am I working toward?

  • Mindfulness. I have two meditation retreats coming up. One is silent (starting tonight!) running Friday-Sunday. It will be my first formal, silent retreat. The second will be more of a fun weekend retreat with my meditation friends at a cabin upstate. I’m looking forward to both, especially because both are phone free. And, I rarely take weekends out of NYC that aren’t to visit family, so that might be nice as well.
  • Summer fun. Everyone who lives in NYC knows the summer vibes are great. Our summer plans are pretty full until July 4th and then we decided we wouldn’t make any more plans so we maximize fun each weekend. Our weekend plans for the next month include a Vermont wedding, two meditation retreats (one silent, one with friends), and July 4th in CT.
  • Being accepting of where I am. This is linked to self-compassion, but I want to continue to be gentle with myself and aware of how I am doing and what I need. The concept of nurturing comes to mind — just treating myself with a loving friendliness.

Monthly Review: April

Here is my monthly review for April. If you want to read March’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Relaxation. I really enjoyed having time off this month from formal, standing, and scheduled activities. It was a real pleasure to be home most nights and get to choose an activity to do — whether that was social or not.
  • Morning pages. I re-started these in April and they have been a great way to kick-start my day and add in some brainstorming and reflection.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Over-training. I pushed really hard at the gym and it caused like five days of physical and emotional exhaustion. It wasn’t really worth it.
  • Obsessing over fertility. Anxieties about fertility were in the back (or often front) of my mind probably at least once an hour this month. Just a constant cycling. I know I am prone to getting really obsessive over health-related things and research and find all sorts of home remedies to “problems” until I am taking like 10 different pills a day.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • Nothing really. I had wanted to take a month off from productive goals. I mostly did that. Mid-April, I really over-trained myself at the gym and had a full week where I basically just sat around, ate what I wanted, and watched TV. That was nourishing for me at the time and I naturally entered a phase with a little more drive.

4. What am I working toward?

  • New office routines. My company of 8 years is changing offices. This is really bittersweet for me and I frankly have some anxiety around what the new space will look like. At the same time, it is a terrific new start to some of the routines I want to put in place like…
    • Limiting the times of day when I can use the internet for fun/personal browning/news reading/etc.
    • Having a list of focus activities for myself I can work on if work is slow (e.g. taking courses, learning Japanese, etc.)
    • Being a little healthier — maybe taking two walking breaks a day instead of one long one, standing more, eating in the kitchen instead of just at my desk.
  • Self-compassion. The more I emphasize this, the better my quality of life is. Acknowledging what my mood is, accepting that, and then seeing what care I need from myself or from others, goes a long way towards helping my life not be totally dominated by my emotional state.

Monthly Review: March

Here is my monthly review for March. If you want to read February’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Deep Work. I got really into Deep Work in March and started to shift some of my habits towards that. Now when I want to get something done at work, I turn off my email, turn off my internet, and get to work. I set a time frame — typically 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and just focus on my work during that period. It makes me tremendously productive. I have a goal of two hours of deep work a day which, in combination with the number of hours I typically spend in a meeting, is enough to meet my work obligations. It also frees me from this sense of I should be working all the time. If I’m working (outside of a meeting), my internet is off and I’m focused until it’s done.
  • Nourishment. One of the lessons I learned in our MBSR class was how to intentionally nourish yourself. For a week, we were told to pay attention to any activity that we found nourishing. In a month too full of obligations (see below), it was nice to have this practice to come back to. I would schedule whole days asking myself what felt nourishing right now. And often it was something very simple and accessible — meditation, herbal team, a walk.
  • Giving up news. Very much in line with the above, I have started to give up instant news. Social media news (mainly twitter) and intensive checking of other news. Now, I have a few sources I check a few times a day, but it’s less obsessive than it used to be.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Obligations. I had standing commitments this month for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. And five weekends in a row were spent with my parents or my in-laws. I felt very much over scheduled. In April, I move back to my only standing obligation being twice a week workouts with my lifting buddy, so I’m looking forward to that.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • Focus. With MBSR & Deep Work, this has gone pretty well.
  • Self-compassion. This has also gone well, though I have moved towards calling this nourishment. I feel more in tune with my mental state and more aware of what sort of care it needs at any given moment.

4. What am I working toward?

  • You know, I have been sitting here and thinking about this for a while, but I’m not really sure. So maybe I’ll take April off from proactive work and just let myself be a bit.

February Monthly Review

Here is my monthly review for February. If you want to read January’s, check it out here.

1. What went well this month?

  • Scaling back my workouts. In February, I started attending an 8-week program on Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. The class meets once a week for three hours but assigns a lot (a lot) of practice time. It was starting to overwhelm me and my body was plateauing a few different lifts, so I decided to switch to two lifting workouts a week. Bench & deadlifts one day and back squat & push press the other. It’s been amazing.
  • Going on vacation. I spent a week hiking in Saguaro National Park. It was nice and really gave me a national park buzz. I didn’t check my work email once (over nine days) and honestly a lot of the vacation was…boring. There wasn’t that much to do in town and we got sick of driving after a while. It was nice to both take time off and take enough space to feel excited about coming home.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • My energy level. All month, I have felt very low energy. I think this is because the MBSR class shifted my schedule just enough that I got about an hour less of sleep every day. I just felt drained and exhausted a lot of the month.

3. What did I work on last month and how did it go?

  • Injury prevention. This went well. I was able to shift my workouts towards something that fits better into my life at the moment and have been stretching every day.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction. Well, I have certainly been doing this. I have noticed it is easier for me to be mindful and not resist unpleasant experiences so much. But it’s been challenging in others ways as well.
  • Creating more art. I did not do this at all, mostly because I felt too low energy all month.

4. What am I working toward?

  • Focus. MBSR has made me want to be more intentional around focusing — when I’m at work, when I’m at home — really, with whatever I am doing.
  • Self-compassion. For whatever reason, this has been a slightly mentally and physically challenging time period for me. It’s been nice when I’ve been able to be less rigid and identify what I really need and do that.

January Monthly Review

Inspired by this, I wanted to start doing monthly reviews. Here we go!

1. What went well this month?

  • Tracking my daily habits. Having a quantitative and visual way to track my daily habits gave me a lot more accountability and helped me more concrete about exactly what I was aiming for each day. The format also allowed for some built-in flexibility.
  • Bringing back my work out buddy! When I started lifting, I become close friends with a fellow lady lifter. We worked 3x a week together for a few months. After I switched gyms, I worked out on my own which was fine. But now my workout buddy is back and workouts are the best mix of lifting and socializing.
  • Taking some tech sabbaths. I define a tech sabbath as turning off my phone for a long period of time. I had the opportunity to do that for a full day this month, and that was great
  • Having a solo weekend. My partner was out of town on weekend so I did my tech sabbath and focused on alone time and renewal. It was great.

2. What didn’t go so well this month?

  • Social plans. I didn’t plan a lot of social events this month. I just didn’t want to…feeling some guilt about this even though I don’t regret it.
  • Productivity.  I felt like most of my hobbies this month were consumptive and I didn’t create any art, write any letters, journal, etc. Nor was I very productive at work…feeling some guilt here too.

3. What am I working toward?

  • Injury prevention. As my lifts keep increasing, I want to focus more on great form, stretching, foam rolling, and generally caring for my body. It can be hard for me to take it easy on any given day, but want to continue to strengthen the voice of my body.
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction. I signed up to take a MBSR course. I was interested in deepening my meditation practice, particularly in my daily life (versus just on the cushion). I am also hoping it will help with injury prevention.
  • Creating more art. I want to identify a few projects that are easy enough and that I will enjoy doing. I’m thinking some crafts, probably valentine’s day cards, knitting (likely a hat because that’s all I ever want to knit), and maybe something cooking related.