The 31st Days of the Months

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The best day of the month May be the 31st day.

Like an extra day.

A little reprieve … a staying of the sentence turning the sweet calendar kitten’s or pinup babe’s face towards the wall or ripping off another significant chunk of weeks completely.

A day when no bills are regularly due, but you might get a check in the mail or some surprise deposit directly from who-knows-where.

Thirty days hath September … April, May, and November. The rest* I can’t remember; I’m not even sure I got that much right. Obviously May can’t be correct. Is it supposed to be March?


I have a vision of the 31st of May. December. January. Whichever ones apply; this must all be clarified. If I’m ever going to arrive at having perfect extra days at the end of however-many months a year. You have to know what you want, and I want a private deathly party at the golden hour that is all of them. What does that look like? How does it taste? And whatever will I wear?

For tomorrow I just don’t know, except it is the first Friday of the next four months that I am scheduled to be able to count on. Or actually it is the last Friday before those four months start, so maybe I should really 31st it up. Especially since the moon will still be in Pisces until well into the evening.


*Leap Year Poem

Thirty days hath September,
April, June and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year.

from Mother Goose courtesty of poets.org

I love how it doesn’t spell out the days with thirty-one. Like they’re the most exclusive months by virtue of being unspecified. If you don’t know or aren’t willing to look up the address, then you’re not invited.

There are seven of them, making the 31st extra lucky: January, March, May, July, August, October, December.

I’m glad there are still three more to come this year after tomorrow.

Planning Into the Future With Externally-Imposed Structure

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Finally. It feels like I have the “freedom” to plan into the future. All because I’m able to rely on a set schedule with my wife’s new job.

Today I printed out five lunar months of calendars — full moon to full moon — into the future and started plotting out and planning, filling them in.

Couldn’t we have set our own schedules exactly how we want them with both of us working for ourselves?

Actually …. no. In theory, yes. But really only sort of yes, and only some of the time.

But the bigger issue, still, is that total freedom (in addition to being much more imaginary than all that) is impossible for the vast majority of people to structure and administer reliably.

On top of that: even if you yourself are great at managing yourself, how does that work with your spouse/partner/family or even just roommates? Pets? Neighbors? Are they manageable? Do they WANT to be managed? Is that really a position that’s healthy for you to be in, where you’re setting and enforcing a schedule for your loved one(s)?

Another issue that’s made scheduling both challenging and especially necessary is my neurodivergent brain. At fifty-one, I’m nearing the end, it seems, of kidding myself that I can function normally. I CAN’T. I have tried. For a very long time. Tried so many things.

Now I am at the hopeful beginning of building realistic, powerful, and safe systems to thrive; knowing ahead of time and for-sure when my wife is going to be at work is an enormous blessing that I can see now, now that we’re on the cusp of it, is necessary for me to build healthy structure into my life and work. It is going to be the first time since we’ve been together (twenty-two years) that I can consistently and predictably count on time alone, and know exactly what days and hours I can look forward to being alone (as well as with her). AND know that the schedule will not change for at least four months (barring something quite extreme happening).

I’m grateful and excited that my wife is for-real employed by an outfit that administers all of the benefits in concrete tangible well-documented terms. I wish we didn’t need this, but … we do. I wish I had done better by us and she didn’t have to work at all. I wish we were set for life. But we aren’t. And the reality is that very few people who are creative risk-takers are also great at managing and administering practicalities. So, for now, I am just incredibly relieved someone else is taking care of these things and I am not the boss. Relieved AND GUILTY. But yeah … very relieved.

Here’s the thing: FLEXIBILITY IS OVERRATED. And for some of us, it is downright unsafe-feeling. Distracting, disconcerting, and not designed to play to our strengths. If you’re someone who needs a long runway, advertising yourself as or pretending to be FLEXIBLE is simply not a safe way to fly. You DO NOT want to make believe that you can make all those FLEXIBLE changes and transitions and still function at peak performance to the specs of your own amazing incredible machine: YOU CAN’T. I CAN’T.

What I can do now is acknowledge and accept my limitations while embracing my strengths by structuring and scheduling work and life with greater precision.

Another very recent change facilitating this never-done-before act of planning four+ months (to-the-day, I’m working on) ahead: I took a once-in-a-lifetime trip alone by rail on a very tight budget last month to see the total solar eclipse. It forced me to plan ON PAPER with a ton of specificity that I normally do not do. Partly because I needed to communicate it to my mom for her peace of mind, but as I forced myself to create and print out clear itineraries with different kinds of pertinent information that I realized both how necessary it was for me, and how time-consuming. And how even with the amount of time and thought and care I invested in it, I STILL left many things undone and it was only by luck and the love of my wife that I had enough money to eat every day and other resources I hadn’t done a great job of pinpointing and securing ahead of time.

You would think by now I would be a master at such things, but I habitually do things very last minute and never to the level of coherence or completion I should to be fully prepared, safe and proud. When you’re young, you can get away with that (and it’s even helpful to do a lot of shit half-assed and in blissful ignorance, but I am (we are both) getting too old for that to be comfortable.

It is not healthy or even safe at this stage of life when I need to be able to depend on myself to still be winging it on the daily. Up to now I have not had any dependents (like children) to force me into this space, but I am at the end of my tether not being able to take care of myself and my wife reliably. It feels unstable (it IS unstable) and makes me deeply unhappy, ashamed, and afraid. The cumulative effect of hourly uncertainty over decades is highly stressful, dysfunctional and sad, especially for someone who is super sensitive to the sounds and vibrations of unpredictable moving parts.

ANYWAY. This is a long process-journal logging some progress I’ve made, things I’ve learned, changes we’re experiencing, and current runway I’m builing: on paper, more than a season of days I can rely on being fleshed out to fulfill some goals and set some routines before the leaves that are green now change colors in the fall.

The real freedom for me now is in being able to see the runway ahead, know it is spacious enough for my build and my engines, know my destinations and the amount of time I have to get there, foresee some of the likely bad weather, and plan and prepare all of the things I need to get to where I want to go safely. With excellence and joy.

(Not) Included Daily: One Thing’s For Sure

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I’m 51. I feel like I should have my routines and rituals down pat by now, but I’m still flying by the seat of my pants in most ways, most days.

There is one thing I know for sure, though;  SHOWERING IS NOT AND WILL NEVER BE PART OF MY DAILY ROUTINE.

And that is actually a great place to start realistically & defiantly planning and structuring my ideal life.

Different Days

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How do you want your days in 2024 to be different than your days in 2023?

How marked a difference?

I have the power to change my daily life in so many ways.

To spend more time listening to sounds like rain like I’m doing right now. Forced by my last migraine and my last period of the year to just lie here. And listen.

Fitness: Journey, not Destination

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I like this interview with Dr. Kenneth Cooper: The father of aerobics still works out five days a week at age 92. Here are his expert tips

I love these reminders:

  • being fit and staying that way requires habitual, near-daily practice for your whole life:
    • “Fitness is a journey, not a destination. You’ve got to keep it up the rest of your life. You can’t just get it and store it.”
  • people used to think exercise was crazy and actually BAD for you
    • people crave conformity and try to enforce it. It makes people uncomfortable when anyone integrates something atypical into their life that they know intuitively or even with science to back them up will be good for them. Somehow the mob and even doctors will try to talk you out of it, saying it is somehow “dangerous” and SICK (or will lead to sickness) even when it goes so totally against common sense.
  • within my lifetime, it was normal for people to question women SWEATING and RUNNING as unladylike or even specifically harmful to their bodies (like your uterus could fall out)
    • SEXISM IS BAD FOR OUR HEALTH, not moving our bodies in athletic ways

I disagree completely with his suggestion that the number one thing we should do is try to fit into a “healthy” BMI. BMI is BULLSHIT.

What I am taking away from reading this:

If you know something is good for you and integral to your well-being, it is necessary for you to integrate it into your DAILY LIFE — to do it ROUTINELY — and plan on doing it forever. In order to do that people will often call you crazy, but that doesn’t mean you are wrong. On top of doing the work, you have to be able to detach from what other people think and not question what you already have determined is best and healthy for you. Your daily life, routines, priorities and standards will set you apart from other people who probably will be dead before you have evidence that your way made/makes your life better than if you settled for conforming to whatever is normal and expected for the times and people like you, especially if you are a minority.

Dark Moons and Days of Rest

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I believe the most important TOP PRIORITY thing to schedule — the thing that should be scheduled first, before anything else — is REST.

Daily rest, weekly rest, monthly rest, seasonal rest, and yearly rest.

Rest. Recovery. Recuperation. Regeneration. Reflection. Rejuvenation. And to come out of these periods of time REBORN.

I’m still working on putting this belief into practice, and being able to rely on myself to protect times of rest like a little baby lives inside it. Because they do.

Honoring a Sabbath and taking sabbaticals are two ways of implementing this practice of resting on a regular basis with strong traditions to back them up.

Syncing up special rest time with the dark phase of the moon is another way I keep promising myself I will keep restful time on a regular basis, but failing to do.

Today the moon is new. Officially exactly in the same hour I am writing this. And writing this is not rest, so I am going to stop here and allow myself to sleep at three-thirty in the afternoon. ALONE. With room darkening shades pulled in a clean space that is empty of all but a very few personal items chosen especially for this time of rest. And I will not feel guilty about it even though tomorrow is a special love-date for my wife and I, and some people would say that if I’m not working, I should be entirely devoted to the social energy of appreciating my wife and our marriage. But this year, with her support, I’m doing what I know is right and best for me to have the energy and capacity to be loving to her and others: I am spending our anniversary-eve ALONE. Resting. Enjoying solitude and as much sleep as I can fit in. Even though I keep wanting to tell her to come here, now. I am prioritizing REST FIRST. Knowing what is restful to me, which may not be what is restful to others … affirming that everyone deserves to get the rest they need, even if it is not what the picture of “rest” looks like in other people’s dictionaries.

Mobile Phones: From Anxiety to Detachment

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Things weren’t going so great. Unplanned-for interactions made me feel self-conscious, and the handles on the paper bag broke.

At least I didn’t look totally repellent. Wearing tight warming yoga pants and the new black puffer coat my mom gave me (that my sister then took away, and our mom then bought back for me) I felt somewhat less self-conscious and terrible about myself when all of the heavy groceries crashed to the floor and spilled out at the self-checkout. At least I look a little cute.

In the dark parking lot of our last errand-stop I reached into my NEW capacious pocket for my phone and … it wasn’t there. OHMYGOD MY PHONE WHERE IS IT I LEFT IT SOMEWHERE IN SAFEWAY!!!
Panicking, I patted the quilting of my new coat all over, shrieking and freaking out my wife.

The total humiliation the loss of years of photo and video assets the exposure to shame the loss loss loss and hassle. The uncertainty of what to do next.

Don’t panic. That’s always what to do next when you feel for your phone and your fingers don’t find it: STOP the PANIC. Because you always do find it. You haven’t lost one yet. DON’T REACT WITH FEAR! BE CALM! That is always the next right thing.

Easier said than done.

The bigger “what-to-do-next”:

Moments like this add a sense of urgency to detaching from our (my) device addiction. To building in time WITHOUT devices. Not just an hour or evening locked in the kitchen safe timer (still great, with so much underutilized / neglected potential), but building in TOTAL TIME OFF from device-attachment.

A week. A WHOLE MONTH. Disconnected. Not ever even picking up a mobile phone. Not taking it with me anywhere.

The inability to do this for an extended period of time speaks to a bigger problem of not taking time off at all in general — not being able to have a whole day or weekend off. Not ever taking a vacation.

I do not want these devices (and fears of losing them, or missing out on whatever it is they supposedly offer) to be part of my daily life anymore. I do not want attachment and interaction with these devices to be my strongest and most-repeated habit. I do not want the sensation of being without a phone in my hand to send me into a tailspin.

But what about …

But what about using my phones to access and play music, which I do want in my daily life? What about using them to access and read BOOKS, which I do want in my daily life? Well … I can use more stationary and/or focused devices: desktop and laptop computers, my kindle, and perhaps a new tablet with limited apps installed and no phone or messaging capabilities.

But what about using my phones to create content? Using them to capture videos, sounds, and images? What about using my camera phones as part of practicing my signature strengths of Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, Gratitude, Love of Learning and more? Well … we have a DSLR camera and camcorder for that.

There are better FOCUSED tools we have or can (SHOULD) upgrade to enjoy doing those kinds of work with more mindful, productive and high-quality focused results than what we get using our phones. Using intentionally-purposed tools means experiencing more happy-making uninterrupted FLOW in the process. It would be more effective to start planning our content creation with intention than doing half-assed phone shit on the fly, anyway.

HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

So what do I need to do to make this happen? To be able to take days, weeks, or even a month or whole season OFF of mobile devices? How can I totally untether and detach from the constant phone companions?

In the long run, one of the biggest requirements is to get a personal assistant. But even without one, it’s still possible to make solid plans that start with clear visions of A) real restful time totally off, and B) productive happy work in flow. Visions of what I want instead of these stressful, intrusive phone habits.

Without a PA, the keys are

  1. batching all of the tasks that require the phones use:
    • setting specific time(s) a day for doing those phone tasks, and
    • limiting the amount of minutes or hours for doing that batch of tasks
  2. Tethering the phone(s) to one static location (a desk, workstation, or, at the very least, a single room)
  3. Keeping the phones locked up in a kitchen safe timer outside of set batch work time(s)
  4. Having enough money and being on top of bills enough to not constantly have to be on the lookout for unexpected withdrawals, managing payouts, and hoping payments come through

RE-CHARGING

OMG the ongoing maintenance of the devices with their unexpected shutdowns, updates, and needs for more juice!

Making sure all of our devices are charged is one of the insidiously basic low-level tasks that makes us habitually preoccupied with our phones and intrusive fealty to them. Managing and maximizing our devices’ battery life require whole systems by themselves, and are more reasons I’m thinking about the need to streamline processes associated with daily habitual mobile phone use.

You can’t charge them while they’re locked up in a safe, so how can you get around this AND completely reduce opportunities to mindlessly pick them up and play with them? To make sure your devices don’t die without constantly checking them and how much charge you have left you can

  1. Keep them turned off when charging / not in use
  2. Refer back to tethering: have specific stations where the devices are used and charged; it is easier when you’re not dragging them with you everywhere like a ball and chain, into bed and everywhere you go.
  3. Schedule and batch all of the charging and other maintenance tasks the same way you are going to do with more interactive kinds of phone use

When it’s all said and done, maybe the main master key is to prioritize recharging your OWN batteries over your mobile devices that you habitually use for dopamine hits and checking out. Instead of constantly being infected and depleted by the blue light of your device, alerts, etc., think about what you’re going to do to restore your own power levels and protect yourself from having your battery drained by constant distractions, time sucks, and noisy demands for your attention.

How often do you power down to rest? Do you ever reach 100% charge and feel lit up to go with bright green light? Do you noticed when you are depleted and take immediate emergency measures to shut down completely and attend to restoring your cells? What are the signs it is time for you to go into energy-saving mode and what does that look like? What is YOUR power source that makes you feel plugged in and energized, and how often do you connect to it?

Answer these questions. Shift your focus away from your devices and towards addressing your own personal power levels. Make plans to address deficits and recharge yourself. Implement those plans, practicing new daily phone-free habits to level yourself up to a new ascended model of your phone-free self.

Get addicted to living your own life, not living through the life, screens, and lenses of your phones and mobile devices.

Light Scheduling

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It’s the time of year where I remember how important it is to schedule everything to maximize daylight hours, and also take into consideration the sun is lower in the sky, making it sort of painful on the eyes at certain times of day, but completely useless (or at cross-purposes) as task lighting.

LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS & DEMANDS

It’s also important as the days get shorter to do LIGHTER scheduling than in brighter months; you can’t squeeze in as much. Your energy wanes, it is more difficult to SEE to do things … you just have fewer hours in the day to be energetic and active; your schedule should reflect these limitations, lowering your expectations and demands.

COMMIT TO HOUSEWORK NEAR NOON

In the summer it makes sense to do housework as early in the morning as possible, whereas in darker months it’s best to commit to getting a solid hour of your most detail-oriented cleaning chores done between noon and two.

ADJUST CONTENT CREATION SCHEDULE TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF SPECIAL DARK-SEASON LIGHT

Shooting content with natural light can be awesome in darker seasons; your chances of cloud cover / diffused light during the day is higher for nice even lighting, and golden hours are more achievably targeted. If you prefer (or are limited) to put on makeup and fix your hair with natural light, though, you really have to factor that in and schedule enough time to do it.

FOCUS ON NERD WORK AND PROMOTION

Darker days are best for writing, webmastery, and marketing: harvesting, creating and putting out advertising to maximize sales at the busiest buying time of the year. You also have people in similarly darker locales spending more time at home in front of their screens, available to apply their recreational money towards pleasurable entertaining best enjoyed indoors.

SLEEP AND RISE EARLIER

It’s the time of year where it makes sense to GO TO SLEEP EARLIER (especially with this country’s inability to stop “falling back”), and aim to become more of a morning person. If you miss out on the sun early in the day, chances are you’re just not going to get any. And that is unhealthy as fuck. Don’t spend all the daylight sitting static inside, not even taking time to look out of windows.

ENJOY NERDY INTROVERT PLEASURES YOURSELF

Allow yourself to schedule time off doing restful cozy dreamy shit while your energy is lower; it’s curl up with a book season, so enjoy it! It’s better to let yourself do restorative low-energy activities you enjoy than to deplete your energy trying to force yourself to do the same amount of stuff you’d do with more active light hours. You’ll end up burning out, getting sick … or doing junk activities like binging food and tv and games that wind up throwing your schedule out of whack even more, making you feel bad about yourself, and increasing your lethargy.

Instead take long hot baths or showers. Enjoy burning more calories taking walks in the peaceful cold and gloom. Read for pleasure, or do recreational (or work-related) learning projects for fun and self-improvement.

3 Things I Do NOT WANT On the Daily

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1. I do not want to bathe / shower every day.

2. I do not want to do housework every day.

3. I do not want to be in the company or presence of others every day.

You can’t design the life you want if you can’t confidently acknowledge and clearly articulate what you DO NOT want.

It used to be people were always warning you to only state goals in positive terms. Over the years I’ve learned that’s an inefficient mistake and not 100% true. Clarity is more important than “positivity”.

Revisiting DavidSeah.com

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While eating lunch I wondered how DSri Seah (Printable CEO creator, updated here on Productivity Tools page) and their site(s) is (are) doing so I bopped over and am now looking through their albums / portfolios. I really wanted to star (lots of things, but especially) this Index Card Scabbard:

“I made an arm-mounted “mini desk” that can hold both index cards and sticky notes, to help keep me focused as I run around the office trying to get things done.” – D. Sri Seah

In comments someone said:

“You should check out quarterback gear. I often see quarterbacks and/or coaches with these!”

to which they replied, “Someone told me it’s called a ‘wrist coach‘”.

I love the wearable clunky analog plastic+paper thing and how much more useful it is than (or at least AS useful and cool) smartwatches that people allow to interrupt them with notifications every time they get a text or call. I love the tracking and timekeeping aspects of my FitBit, but absolutely do not enable the intrusive stuff. It fits with the affirmative examples / models / users of people who employ index cards A LOT (Ryan Holiday / Daily Stoic, for example).

All of this stuff makes me feel so much less self-conscious and embarrassed about having elaborate systems and space and lots of time devoted to planning, tracking, noting, logging, envisioning, writing, synthesizing and STUDYING.

I always feel inspired and affirmed by Seah. They have been a major influence (maybe *the* biggest inspiration) in making me feel permitted and even useful, productive and *cool* (by my nerdy standards) to USE trackers and planners, to CUSTOMIZE my own printables, and to allow yourself to PLAN on having a shitty minimally-productive day, give yourself credit for what you can (and DO) do, and practice radical (self-) acceptance ON PAPER, in writing, without shame. Where is that, again … oh yeah, the Annoyed Task Planner:

  • “Everything Annoys Me Today and YET I WANT TO WORK”
  • room for angry scribbles
  • a log of annoyances
  • a manageable planner (“three mundane things I can tolerate doing”)
  • an invitation to reflect and note how you feel after doing each of those things
  • it mirrors your negativity in a funny externalized way you can laugh at (ex. “Today’s Stupid Date”) and puts your grouchy feelings into perspective, making you feel more acceptance and less shame, and see that this is not the worst day or experience ever
  • it invites you to do that serenity prayer thing and CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN, starting with recognizing you are not fucking up to changing the whole world or solving all your problems with a radiant smile today AND THAT IS ACCEPTABLE! You *accept* yourself and how it is, and move on from there, which results in the funny thing the psychs say that it is when we accept ourselves just as we are that we begin to change. As Seah says,
    • “Strangely, this indulgence of displeasure always seems to have an uplifting effect on me. I can’t stay in a bad mood for very long…”

A perfect example of how when we feel like we are bad and NEED to change, some survival-love part of ourselves balks defensively and won’t let go of the bad feelings and gnawing on the BADNESS of them. When we just say I feel shitty today and it feels insurmountable but I want to do SOMETHING … maybe I can? Let’s see what I can do here… And you give yourself a little time for breaking pencil lead with angry scribbles and laugh at yourself … moving on to what you can accomplish comes naturally, and accepting what you *don’t* accomplish and what you already left undone (by waking up late, for example) is signed off on, documented in writing, and now you can f’n file it and LET IT GO.

Even though Seah values and prioritizes social connections a lot more in their projects, planning and prioritizing (something I always want to turn upside down / customize differently when I use their printables), it doesn’t make me feel like I’m broken or that their work has nothing to offer or teach me.

So happy always, every time I check in there. I have PMS today so it is helpful to get out of my own overthinky weird head and just feel enormous love and relief for someone I *love* for being so thinky and awesomely-weird and who I would never want to feel bad about being that way.

“WEIRD” is so valuable. Weirdness helps make us IRREPLACEABLE, and so obviously humanly alive.

TO DO:

  • GET A WRIST COACH
  • ADAPT
  • TRY IT OUT

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