Fifty posts ago, I started my “Today I Choose” series. The goal was a response, in part, to COVID isolation malaise. A feeling that I was in a holding pattern of sorts and wasn’t really making conscious choices about how I live my life. So I thought that perhaps I could focus on making at least one conscious proactive choice every day to move my life forward in some way. I didn’t have a specific agenda in mind, or even a clear goal from the choices, just the thought that making my choices more apparent to myself might have mutually-reinforcing effects.
Now that I’m at 50 posts though, I am going back to review them to see what those choices were.
- Make choices
- Make bread with Jacob
- Complicated dinner
- Contribute to groups
- Flexible meal options
- Right electrical gadgets
- Learn about astronomy
- Expand astro gear
- Spoil my son
- Safety over style
- Simply read
- Push myself on astronomy
- Play more with Jacob
- Time-shift my work
- Two-week break
- Upgrade my computer
- Upgrade software
- Reorganize data files
- Treat for dinner
- Play with glasses
- Keep J home
- New format for reading
- Consolidate J’s files
- Nuke old laptop
- Assemble new TV stand
- Start astro project
- Offer astro training
- Day off
- New blogging workflow
- Rearrange office space
- Brave Ikea
- Sick day
- Cleanse the palate (nerdy brain stuff)
- Revise gallery layout
- Encourage son’s creativity (photography)
- Clean up reorg space
- Listen to nostalgia (music)
- Musical rabbit-hole
- Day off
- Play a game
- Search for the right tool (website)
- Design a new layout (website)
- Edit an old post (music)
- Tackle the first part of the garage
- Break rather than bend
- Bend rather than break
- Binge (WordPress and work)
It doesn’t take a supercomputer to analyse those 50 data points. Almost all of them are about one of four things:
There’s probably an “other” category, of course, but those are the main headings.
Organizing my physical space
I’m working on a huge reorg of our house layout, storage, functionality in different rooms. I dream that it will be done by October 1st, but I’ve slowly come to the realization that the date is probably irrelevant. I want to maintain momentum, sure, but I also don’t want to kill myself doing it. And I can’t keep up the pace I have been.
Most of it is about the physical movement of furniture or clearing out the garage and other storage spaces. Some of it is about aggressive purging. Or even just cleaning up the reorg space so it is less of a construction zone and more of a functioning room with some stuff piled against the walls. Other times it has been getting the right electrical gadget or the right table legs to make the setup work the way I want it to, rather than settling for what I have. Or choosing whole new furniture options like a new TV stand.
Organizing my digital space
I upgraded my computer and reorganized all my data files, but I’ve also been putting a lot of time into my website this year trying to get all the pieces and content where I want it to be. I have had to accept that I probably can’t get the configuration and software back-end to the level I would like it, at least not on my own, and definitely not without considering a massive nuclear option. I may have to go that route, but if I do, I’ll likely pay someone to do it.
I went even farther though. I’ve consolidated Jacob’s files, nuked my old laptop back to default settings, and even created a whole new blogging workflow for myself when it comes to photos. No stone left unturned, I guess.
Pushing myself on my hobbies
I’ve obviously been pushing myself on the website and blogging, but I’ve also done more on astronomy too. I’ve got two extra telescopes in my garage right now, although they are temporary for ownership. Helping out the local astro Centre. I’ve been pretty active in some online groups though, helping newbies with their scopes, and I even did two in-person training sessions here in town. Oh, and I even ordered some astro glasses, and started a huge project I have in mind for reviewing old astro magazines, culminating in some articles written for the local astronomy groups’ monthly newsletter.
Beyond computers and my astro fix, I’ve been trying to read more, including in different genres and formats. I need to get back into the Reading Challenge, but I haven’t been feeling it as much of late. I am however feeling a renewed interest in music, including an almost 20-year interest in the hits of yesteryear that I revised and revamped.
Managing social time for myself and with my family
I’m not sure that is exactly the right heading. Maybe it is more just “staying social in a COVID world” when it would be really easy to just hibernate. We’ve made bread, special complicated dinners, played a lot of games, building things like a T-Rex and a Lego Millennium Falcon + International Space Station. We’ve experimented with more flexible meal options, time-shifted my work at times, took a break at the cottage, took days off, etc. Spoiled him regularly to adjust for the isolation, and encouraged his creativity through photography.
And we decided to keep Jacob home from in-person school, going for the remote option instead.
So is my life “better”?
In short, I don’t know. I feel like a lot of the organizing and decluttering / purging is reminiscent of a phrase my mother used to like. “Shape up or ship out”. It’s a phrase she learned in the 1940s where if you weren’t pulling your weight at home, you would be sent overseas to fight. My father preferred the phrase “shipshape and Bristol fashion”, which originates from the seaport of Bristol in the UK. In short, it means basically “squared away”, a place for everything and everything in its place. Not that they ever had anything shaped up or squared away, but they liked the phrases.
I’ve never had everything squared away in pretty much any part of my life. Career, marriage, life, parenthood…they are all works in progress, of course. There is no “done” or “ready” state. Yet much of what I see myself trying to do is to strip away the detritus that lines certain parts of my life.
While my parents preferred other terms, for me it is more like getting my sh** together. Physically, mentally, emotionally. In a world that right now seems to want to rend those constructs and structures asunder.
And while I would be hard-pressed to say “better” was the right adjective for my current life with the “Today I choose” blogging, I am using it to remind myself that every day I have a choice. I can curl up and let the world rend my life, or I can push back. Not so much my old cry of “F*** you, universe”. More like, “Okay, universe, you do what you’re going to do. I’m going to do me. And today I choose that THIS will be part of the me I choose to create.”
Am I “there” yet? No. And I do have to remind myself there is no “there” anyway, it’s not the destination but the journey. Nevertheless, right now, I feel like I’m making progress. I don’t feel it every day, and maybe the 50 choices I made so far are not significant. Maybe I chose things that were easy. But they were still my choice.
When I embarked on this journey, I thought I’d probably do about 20 or 30 posts maybe. Doing my 50by50 goals was a lot of work to write about, and I wasn’t sure I was up to blogging every day. In an ideal world, the superficial habit formation research suggests that if you do something for 30 days straight, it moves into the habit world. I don’t feel like “conscious choice” is a habit yet. So I’m going to keep using the blog to measure my progress. To push myself. To hold myself accountable.
Today I choose to continue making choices, hoping to shape up instead of shipping out. To get my sh** squared away, shipshape and Bristol fashion.
What choices are you making today?