Streaks V: Not This Again

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Regular readers of this blog know about me and my streaks, so I thought I would give an update, since it’s been a while. This whole thing probably only interests me, but it helps motivate me to see all this data in one place every now and again. Anyway, here we go.

Every night before I go to bed, I have a mood tracker called Daylio that I use to give a quick rundown of the day’s activities and swings in my mood over time. Not counting tonight’s entry, which of course hasn’t happened yet, I’m up to 424 straight days of tracking my mood.

I also track my daily caloric intake as best as I can through an app called MyFitnessPal. It has an extensive database of items and allows you to input recipes so that even the most complicated foods can be accurately tracked, along with their nutritional information. As of today, I’ve logged 464 straight days’ worth of food.

To help keep my mind limber, I’ve been using two apps, one called Elevate which gives quick exercises in reading, listening, math, and more, and the other called Duolingo, through which I’ve learned the rudimentary basics of Spanish and am now doing the same with Italian. Each of them has an identical streak in place – 344 days now.

The one I came to talk about, however, is my checklist streak. I have a checklist of 21 items that I have to do every day, things that include taking my meds four times a day and checking my blood pressure three times a day as prescribed, eating at proper times (I’m diabetic, so regular food is important, and I’ve been known to skip meals without the checklist), exercise, but also things like leisure time and socialization, and even my daily entry into this blog. Before the middle of January of this year, I’d only every gotten full marks for a day just a handful of times – less than 20 since I started my checklist back in October 2014. But something happened in January that made everything click, and now I’m completing that checklist almost every day. I had a streak of 84 straight days that was ended when I forgot my evening blood pressure one night. There were a few days that I took off shortly after that – I had a trip out of town that I didn’t want the pressure of trying to hit everything on that list every day for, but once I got back in town, I started back up again, and I haven’t stopped since. The new streak hits 85 days tonight, which makes it now the longest uninterrupted streak I’ve ever recorded of achieving full marks.

I’m really proud of that mark, but there’s a part of me that would really, really like another day or two off. I might do that once I hit 90 days; I might decide to keep going until I actually forget to do something – I haven’t decided yet. But for now, I’m going to take a moment to recognize this achievement, and remind myself that the changes that I’m making are good and significant. Sometimes I don’t think it’s any big deal. The more days that I have where my mood stays good and stable throughout the day, the harder it is for me to put my accomplishments in perspective. “Well, this is something that’s expected of you now, isn’t it? So it’s no big deal,” I find myself telling myself. I write these blog posts to remind myself that it is a lot of work and that it’s nothing to minimize, but I find myself doing it from time to time. I write in my blog as much for those following my journey back to “normalcy” as I do for myself, but these posts are mostly for me.

The next big achievement is going to be in five days, when I extend this full marks streak out to three straight months. After that, I’m closing in on a solid year that I’ve been challenging my brain every day. That will be a big deal when it happens.

I haven’t really given much though to how my checklist will change once I’m back in school. Certainly there will be some things that will fall by the wayside, and some new things added. I haven’t changed the items on that checklist in over a year now, because I’ve found a list that works for me. But that list also isn’t taking twelve credit hours a semester into account. Whatever changes happen, I expect the streak to end soon after, because it’ll be a change from what I’ve been doing. But hopefully I can keep it up.

Right now, though, I’m content to wrap things up for the night.

Fighting the Heat

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Today we went to a laundromat to do laundry because of the sheer amount that we have, as well as the fact that we have a quilt that needed to be washed. By the time that we wrapped up the laundry around noon or so, it was almost 100 degrees outside, and we had spent over an hour in a badly air conditioned large room filled with washers and dryers and people. We were warm, to the point of nearly overheating. We came home, brought some of the clothes upstairs with us, and fought to cool off.

That process took us over an hour, despite stripping down to underwear and pointing a fan directly at us. For a large part of the afternoon the thermostat in our apartment read 80, and I don’t recall having heard the air conditioning shutting off at all today.

Neither my wife nor I do well in the heat. We’ve both gotten heatsick on multiple occasions before, and that means that we’re both just that much more prone to getting sick again. It doesn’t take much time out in the heat to really do a number on our energy level. Simply going from door to car and car to door is enough to have an effect on us; what we did today in the heat was something neither of us were really prepared for.

It’s taken us until this evening to recover from our adventure, and we still have work left to do to put clothes away. I’m already exhausted and I don’t know where I’m going to get the energy to finish the laundry tonight. I know my wife feels pretty much the same.

Tomorrow, hopefully, the maintenance crew will stop by and replace the air filter. It’s in need, and I think that’s a big reason why our AC isn’t more effective. I hope that the difference will be noticeable.

Is it October yet?

It’s Been a Saturday

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Today’s going to be a short post, because other than goofing off, there’s not that much to report. Today’s been a day of laziness for me. The only thing I’ve done besides goof off on my computer are my day’s chores and tonight’s show. I have been pretty social today, though, and I’m happy for that. Tomorrow’s another day and it’ll likely be busier than today has been.

 

Waiting for This to Happen

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Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve been making some pretty significant strides over the past several weeks regarding my anxiety and general mental health. Today, however, was the setback that I’d been anticipating for some time.

I got in a shouting match with my wife about two issues, and during the fracas I started to get irrational. I suppose that I just let it go, just as much as my wife did. Things eventually settled down as they always do, and we made up.

Given the stress that I’ve been under recently, I’m actually surprised this didn’t happen sooner. The death of my father-in-law was followed almost immediately by a great deal of soul searching regarding my future career choices, which was instantaneously followed with the prospect of having to do all the things new students get months to do before classes start in only four weeks. I think that was the tipping point, because I’ve been stressing out about the time frame all day.

The first step on this journey is going to be taking the TSI assessment, which determines what classes I’ll be placed in. That involves taking the email and certificate that I received upon successful completion of the pre-assessment module to the advising office, then stopping by the cashier to pay for the test, and finally back home to schedule the test online. All in all, not that much to do, and it should be easy for me to knock out on Monday.

The problem that I ran into this afternoon is that when I stopped by the local campus to check in with the advising office, I found out that it closes at noon on Fridays. So I’ve had the stress of knowing that I can’t do anything to move forward until the beginning of the week, and all this time other students will be registering for – and filling up – classes that I’ll need.

There are a lot of things that have to go right in order for this endeavor to work, and I’m nervous that it won’t happen the way it needs to in order for me to graduate. But it’s only the first full day of knowing for sure that this is the path I’m going to follow, so I need to remember to be easy on myself. I can only control myself, I can’t control anyone else.

I guess now that the decision’s been made, I want to get started as soon as possible, a sentiment that’s shared by the folks at Texas Workforce Commission. They sent emails over to Austin Community College expediting my financial aid yesterday after my meeting. That’s one less thing that I have to worry about, but it also shows the urgency that TWC has in getting me started.

Patience, grasshopper. All in good time.

The Decision

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If LeBron James can do it, I can too.

For those that may be reading this blog for the first time, let me recap very quickly. I am currently on disability and working with the Texas Workforce Commission to create what they call an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE), which is basically a list of what they’re going to do to help me go back to work, and what I need to do for myself during this process. I started working on this in September of last year, and in late December, after several false starts for picking and then deciding against career paths, as well as contradicting information from my counselor, I signed an IPE that would find me education in a field that I hadn’t even thought of before that final meeting. I felt railroaded into making that decision, and recently I approached them to discuss my progress on that initial plan. That’s when I discovered that the counselor that had been assigned to my case was no longer with TWC, and I decided to be bold and mention my less-than-satisfactory experience with my previous counselor and see if I could tweak my IPE from a vocational certificate in medical billing and coding to the next step up, which is an associate’s degree in health information technology. They told me that they wanted to meet with me to discuss the possibility of changing my plan, and during that meeting they proposed another career path. I told them that I was going to insist on a week to think things over and make an educated decision this time, and due to my father-in-law’s death they gave me two. Today was the follow-up meeting.

I was very nervous going into this meeting because I’d been in this situation before, where I went into a meeting with one expectation and walked out with something completely different, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed against the rocks again. This time, I was wary.

I’m not going into too much detail about the meeting today, for now. Until I get written confirmation that the amendment to my IPE that we agreed upon today was officially approved by TWC, I’m not going to claim victory. But today’s meeting was considerably more transparent and productive than previous meetings that I’ve had with TWC, and I remain cautiously optimistic that things will wind up in my favor.

At the last meeting, where I presented them with an associate’s degree in health information technology, the counselors there presented me with the alternate choice of sonography. In the two weeks since, I spent hours researching both fields. I talked with people I know that work in both and got their candid, no-holds-barred opinions of their respective careers and what I could expect from working in each. I weighed the pros and cons and did a lot of soul searching about what was best for me in the long run.

In the end, I chose sonography.

Again, until I see written confirmation of approval, I’m going to assume the amendment that I signed today is subject to change or outright rejection. But the things that transpired in my meeting this afternoon were all in my favor, so I am cautiously and hesitantly optimistic about the future.

Right now, though, I have a lot of work to do to get ready for the fall, just in case things do work out as planned, and there isn’t much time.

More on that when I know something for sure, hopefully within a week.

Getting Nervous

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The blog post is going to be short today.’ There are an awful lot of things that look like they’re going to be changing in a big way for us between now and the end of the year, not the least of which is my return to school. I have a lot on my mind and not much time to make some final decisions that will affect me for the rest of my life. I’ve sought counsel from friends and have taken their words to heart. Now comes the intense soul searching that needs to happen before I choose a direction. Am I up to the task?

There’s also a lot of variables that have to happen in order to get the best possible outcome, and I’m not sure how likely that’s going to be. Whatever I choose is going to be an uphill road to climb, starting from the very beginning.

I’ve learned my lesson with Texas Workforce Commission and am keeping my decision close to the chest until I know for certain that the new action plan has been approved and they will cover my education in my chosen field.

And when that happens, the changes are going to come.