A Big Milestone

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Regular readers of this blog will know about my daily checklist. It’s a way to structure my day and to challenge myself while I work my way through the issues that have me on disability at this point in time. There are twenty-one items on the checklist each day. Some of them are essential for my health – taking my vitals four times a day to monitor my blood pressure, taking my meds at the appropriate times, eating three meals a day, exercising, getting to bed with enough time to get a decent night’s sleep before starting the following day. Some of them are activities designed to give me some structure to my day – reading in a self-help book, doing my learning activities in the Elevate and Duolingo apps on my phone, writing in this blog, ensuring that I don’t focus entirely on productivity (which I am prone to do) by setting aside time each day for leisure activities and socialization, even if that socialization only takes place via messengers online, plus a generalized “to-do” category that adds things like household chores and occasional tasks that need my attention, like putting together a playlist for my radio show. And historically it’s been very difficult for me to keep my head about me long enough to do all the items on the list. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of forgetting to do something; sometimes it’s just not having the energy to get something done.

Yesterday I completed a huge milestone with regard to this checklist. Yesterday represented thirty straight days of completing full marks on my checklist.

I started this checklist on October 24, 2014, and the number of items on it has fluctuated from the start, but I’ve been on the current list of twenty-one items for the better part of nine months now. Before I started the streak I’m currently on, I’ve managed to complete my checklist a total of 33 times in the nearly 28 months that I’ve been doing this checklist. That means that this streak represents almost half the times I’ve completed my checklist since I started keeping it.

I’m very proud of myself for sticking to it through this streak. There are times it’s been hard – getting out and exercising when you feel like hell because of strep throat isn’t easy or fun, and I admit that I walked a shorter route during that time, but the point is that I went out and did it. I’m especially proud of the fact that this streak is crossing over into a time on the calendar that’s historically rough for me, and I’m showing no signs of letting up on the streak anytime soon.

So that’s my big news for the day. Tomorrow I have something that’s just as big, but you’ll have to wait until then to see what it is.

Whoops, But Mostly Yay!

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Today has been a great day, and I can’t really put my finger on why that is. I woke up in a fantastic mood, and I’ve been chipper and upbeat ever since. Not even breaking one of my streaks yesterday was enough to bring me down.

Yesterday I forgot to log in and do my Khan Academy lessons. I’m not terribly upset by this, since for the last few weeks I’ve been very much calling it in over there, sometimes doing the bare minimum to keep the streak alive. It’s been a while since I put any real effort into my work on Khan Academy. I plan on getting back to it, but I think I’m going to take a few days off from it before jumping back on the bandwagon.

I think a lot of the reason that I’m in such a good mood is that I’m feeling much better today than I have been of late. It seems the worst of the strep throat is over and I have a good amount of energy today, so I think I’ll be able to catch up on some of the housework that I’ve let slide because I haven’t felt up to it.

I like this feeling. I don’t get to experience it very often, so I hope it sticks around for at least the rest of the day, if not longer.

Streaks III: Live From the Trenches

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I don’t know why personal streaks are so important to me. I think that’s because I had a reputation when I was younger as someone that would start something and then walk away from it when it got too hard (to avoid failing) or I got bored with it (which was very often) or when it became clear that I couldn’t do it perfectly (I once crumpled a test into a ball and took the zero on it rather than use an eraser to correct a mistake that I’d caught myself making), and more than anything I thrive on long-term stability, something that admittedly eludes me to this day.

I’m also a stats junkie, and it always amazes me that an organization called the Elias Sports Bureau can very quickly recall statistics like “most MLB career postseason strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher during games four played at home,” a stat that I just made up but I can guarantee you they could tell me within about five minutes of analysis. Statistics have always fascinated me and I wish I had the math skills to attempt a career in the field. I think that’s got a lot to do with it as well, this is my way of quantifying my life in a concrete form that I can easily measure.

So here’s where my streaks lie on the various things that I keep streaks on. Everything is current as of today, except where noted.

Consecutive days recording at least my morning vitals: 492.

Consecutive days recording my caloric intake to the best of my ability: 276.

Consecutive days tracking my mood and activities in my mood tracking app: 236, current as of yesterday. (This is one of the last things I do before turning out the lights at night, so I haven’t recorded today’s entry yet.)

Consecutive days completing my exercises in my Elevate and Duolingo learning apps: 156.

Consecutive days completing at least some math study on Khan Academy: 55.

Consecutive days achieving full marks on my daily checklist: 7, current as of yesterday.

I’m most proud of that last one. Doing everything on my checklist is difficult and takes a considerable amount of effort, especially on days when I’m not well mentally or physically. This is the second longest such streak since I started my checklist in October 2014, and I’m hoping to surpass my record of 12 consecutive days with this current streak.

And as George Carlin once said at the end of one of his routines, “I don’t have an ending written for this, so I just take a small bow.”

Streaks II:The Streakening

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So, back on August 22 I wrote this post about my learning streak coming to an end after 119 days, and how devastated I was that I had let it lapse.

To fill you in, what I consider my learning is a daily round of exercises in Elevate, which is a brain-training app, and at least two exercises in Duolingo, which teaches foreign languages – Spanish in my case. I got a lot of support from my friends who reminded me that it just means that I get to start a new, longer streak.

This morning the streak that I started on August 22 reached 120 days. It is now that longer streak that you all said I could do.

I want to thank everyone who supported me through a brief, but rough time where I was kicking myself for making the mistake of missing a day. That one day is now the only day that I haven’t done my learning exercises in eight months.

But I have some other streaks that are going on, and I thought I’d tell you about them.

Recently I made the decision to go back to school for my associate’s degree, and in preparation for registration, I’ve been brushing up on my math on Khan Academy. I’ve been doing that since the first of the month, so that streak is 19 days long.

I started using my CPAP machine on August 17th, and except for a single night that I was camping in October, I’ve been completely compliant with it .So that’s a streak of 65 days, followed by a current 58-day streak.

I track my mood on an app called Daylio. It helps me track my activities throughout the day as well as my overall mood for the day, and gives me the ability to write notes so I can relay the rough spots to my therapist when the need arises. That particular streak is now 200 days long.

I also use another app called MyFitnessPal to help me track my caloric intake. My streak of using that app is 240 days long, which matches my two long streaks on Elevate and Duolingo plus the skipped day.

And finally, the last day I missed writing down at least my morning vitals was September 20, 2015, which makes that streak my longest at 456 days.

These streaks are simple things in the broad scheme of things. One day I’m going to break all of them and start on a new one. But together they help to provide some structure to my otherwise unstructured day, and I’m thankful for each and every streak that I have.