Posted in about me, motivation, parenting

We accidentally hit the jackpot: badges

A week or so ago, a few small factors combined into something amazing.

The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s been like discovering the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Unless you’re allergic.

Anyway.

Off and on for years, I have been doing puzzles at sporcle.com. (I like the logic puzzles the best!) The Climbing Daddy has started puzzling there in recent weeks and has become invested in the badges he can earn.

The Kid has been doing puzzles with him and became equally invested in the badges.

At the same time, we were training for a virtual 5k. The Kid is not a huge fan of running but wanted to get the medal—do you see a pattern?—and was quite whiny when running.

While we were out running one evening, I told him that if he kept running, he would earn a badge. He didn’t believe the badges would be real; I told him I’d make them.

Now. I’m not super-artistic. I enjoy making and drawing and creating, and I do a solidly OK job. (And I’m good with that, as I don’t want to put in the time and work to be better … and because I’ve gotten a lot better at embracing “good enough”—but that’s all for another time.)

But I also knew I didn’t want to be making and cutting out and keeping track of a bunch of little badges. Or worse, big badges. (Have I mentioned that this child keeps everything? What’s that? Yours does, too?)

So I decided just to draw them all on a piece of card stock (paper would have sufficed). He chose the shape. I guided that decision, because there are not many shapes that I can somewhat consistently draw. Or that I was willing to draw repetitively.

He asked: could there be a picture in each? Sure.

You can see my high-quality drawings. But you know what? He loves them. And “I refuse to do it because I feel like I suck at it” is not something I want from him, so I’m not going to model it.

I covered the page mainly because I didn’t want to have to draw more later. That turned out to be great, because now he’s excited to fill them.

I had planned on just doing exercise badges, but The Climbing Daddy had an idea for a not-exercise badge (the one for sanding*—he did good work learning to use the sander when they made a table a few weeks ago), so two sections: one “exercise” and one “other.”

*The two-sided tape is beyond my level of “good enough.” The Climbing Daddy had cut it out and not glued it down yet, and The Kid was thrilled to have the great idea to use a piece of double-sided tape. Deep breath. Not my badges.

In addition to the badges we started with (and the couple that we figured at that point would get added soon) we keep adding more.

He loves them.

And it turns out, I can throw out nearly anything “for a badge” and it’s worked so far.

The other day, for example, he chopped up chard for dinner as his “kitchen skills” activity for the day. The meal that was going into—chard with chickpeas over rice—is one that we’ve eaten often. He’s helped prep and cook it many times. Everything else was already prepped (rice and chickpeas made, red onion diced). I was reasonably sure that with minimal help, he would be able to make it.

So I told him it was his job to make dinner, we would help a little if he needed, and he would get a badge for it.

And he did. He was nervous—what if it’s not good?—but he didn’t fight it.

He loved getting another badge. Maybe not as much as he was proud of preparing a meal.

7-mile bike ride? Check. Running in the morning? Check.

I’m sure there’s a limit somewhere, but we haven’t found it yet.

Also, I’m not offering badges for normal day-to-day things, which probably helps them to maintain their awesomeness and makes them different than your typical sticker chart.

“Mom? What happens when I fill all my badges?”

I’ll get another piece of paper and make more? It’ll be the expansion pack.

He’s so tickled now at the idea of an expansion pack.

I have no idea how long this will last (or for how long I will be able to think of new but still attainable feats), but for now, it’s been fantastic!

Posted in about me, exercise, mental health, motivation, physical health

Another morning habit I won’t keep

I finally hit the wall. Which is funny, because I’ve mostly been sitting.

For the past six weeks, I’ve been going for a walk almost every afternoon, to get some sun and fresh air and get out of the house. Until recently, it’s been nice out. Now that it’s officially “hot” (100+ degrees), I’ve started using a sun umbrella and taking a water bottle.

We’ve been biking three to five evenings each week with The Kid.

We’ve been lifting out in the garage usually twice a week.

We’ve been running sporadically.

But I still don’t feel … active enough? I think there’s just not enough days with heart rate up. The bike rides tend to be slow, walking in hot weather with an umbrella is average pace. Neither of those raise heart rate.

Also, I’ve been waking up around 6 most mornings, usually just before or with The Climbing Daddy’s alarm. The Kid wakes up between 7 and 7:30. So I have an hour or more most days between when I get up and when the chaos begins.

Twenty of those minutes go to journaling; that still leaves time.

So I decided to go out and run. Not far—1.5 to 2 miles. If some day I’m inspired to run more, I will.

Today was the first morning to run. Today, of course, I woke up close to 7. Tired.

Laying in a puddle of sleepy shame, I decided to start tomorrow.

I got out of bed to go to the bathroom. The act of getting out of bed and starting to move was all it took. I decided that I could run today and that I would feel better if I ran today and didn’t postpone it for another day.

So I went. It was cool (relatively) and sunny and lovely outside. I did a slow-even-for-me mile and a half.

The run itself was fine—not amazing, not terrible—and the feeling of getting it done is excellent. The mood-boosting benefits of the run are always welcome.

As an added bonus, when I got home, I texted a screenshot from the tracking app to a friend. (We often text about exercise things and will congratulate or encourage each other. Kind of long-distance exercise buddies.) I included the text: “Almost didn’t do it. Feels good to get it done.”

She replied, “You inspired me. I was literally putting on my shoes to walk the dog, but I think we’ll run a bit now.” And they did.

Gotta start somewhere. I started today.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 26Apr20

I had expected to do some flash work this week, and I did not.

But the cactus down the street? The one that I caught a late bloom on and shared two weeks ago? It bloomed again!

And a neighboring cactus bloomed also, that one with white flowers. (That’s the lead image.)

My plan when I saw it was to take pictures every day or every other day as the flowers opened.

dsc_0531

 

So many! I have no interesting shots of the whole plant, but it’s only maybe two or two-and-a-half feet tall.

The Kid and I went down a day or two later to capture the buds that had opened. (Most still hadn’t, but a couple had.)

dsc_0548dsc_0563

 

That’s the first day it got close to hot here. (The rule in Phoenix is that it’s not “hot” until it hits 100, and that afternoon, it was in the 90s.) We had been having a gorgeous spring and then out of nowhere—90s. Which of course feels hotter than it would if there had been a gradual progression.

We always think there should be a gradual progression, whether it’s warming up or cooling off, but it never seems to do that in real life. Perhaps we should stop expecting it.

Anyway, those flowers closed up. Yesterday morning, they were still closed. Yesterday evening, they were browning.

The desert and its native plants. So interesting. Glad I didn’t put off photos until later. Sad that we’re not going to see all of those buds open. Would have been amazing!

We have this little bushy plant in our front yard. We have literally done nothing to it or for it since we moved in a few years ago. Most of it looks great; some of it, not so much. You can see a little of both states in the photo. I like its little white flowers.

dsc_0534

 

Finally, in January I bought some mini roses at Trader Joes. (photos here, though as I was scrolling through, I’m not impressed with myself; four months has made a difference!)

I’m excited to report that they’re still alive and two of the five bloomed! (One of the yellow ones did, too, but I didn’t get any good shots. You’ll have to take my word for it.)

dsc_0569

 

Nikon has had their video library available for free this month, and I’ve been taking in their trainings. I’ve learned how to do several new things on my camera (and in what context they’re useful) and also several things that other Nikons can do that mine can’t. I have plenty still to learn on mine, and I haven’t even touched photo editing at all yet. Will I outgrow this camera? We’ll see where the journey continues…

Posted in hope, know better do better, mindset, motivation, podcasts, tips

Yes! I’ll do that! … Later…

Procrastination has showed up in several podcasts in the last few weeks.

The content has conflicted in some ways, but I took some bits from them and plan to use them. (Always: take what you can use and leave the rest.) These things are so obvious and fall into place so easily that I can’t believe I didn’t sleuth them out already. Maybe you have?

The biggest takeaway I had was that procrastination is avoiding a feeling, not a task. Completely resonates.

So I don’t actually put off phone calls because I don’t like phone calls—I’m avoiding feeling intrusive or frustrated or stupid (for a variety of reasons), depending on the call.

And I’m not avoiding writing the book because I don’t like writing (which I already knew!)—I’m avoiding putting it out there when it’s done.

And on and on.

Sometimes, I’m exceptionally productive when avoiding a specific task. The best way to get a daily to-do list done is to put one thing on it that I really don’t want to do. Everything else magically gets done…

One of the episodes talked about the lack of immediate gratification, and that would be true on long-term tasks—or maybe quick tasks with long-term payoff—but it doesn’t fly with “I need to make a phone call.”

They also talked about making yourself accountable to other people, but I have witnessed countless times (and so have you, I’m sure) that often, that doesn’t work. You disappear from view of your accountability partner. Or you tell them you decided not to pursue the thing any more. You eat the money you paid for your accountability group. Or use some other means of escaping the accountability.

Brené Brown’s work ties into this. Shaming yourself for something you have shame about in the first place doesn’t help the problem and does not inspire change or productivity. (Don’t shame yourself. Don’t shame your kids. Don’t shame your spouse. Don’t shame your colleagues. Don’t shame anyone. It. Doesn’t. Work.)

So.

For long-term projects where fear of failure or rejection—often manifesting as perfectionism—are the roadblocks, there’s a plan. Let me recount what they suggested in the specific example in the podcast, and you can take it and adapt it.

The procrastinator was not making the (very short) videos she needed to make for an app she was looking to create. (The app already existed; it just needed content.) By asking her when during the day she would ideally work on this, she was assigned a daily 45-minute block just for making the videos. The first 15 minutes was planning. After that, she would record that day’s video until either time ran out or she had one she was happy with. If time ran out, she would just choose the one she liked best of what she had created and move on.

This creates space to work on it each day, but more than that, it removed much of the paralysis by perfectionism. Just make videos. It doesn’t matter yet if they’re good. Just make them. They’ll get better as you go.

Just write. Just draw. Just practice. Just record. Refine later. For now, just do it.

Of course, not everyone’s schedule allows space to be created so neatly. But most of us can find time on a regular-ish basis to work on a long-term project. (If we have a long-term project we want to do.)

How to make the phone calls?

Create a system where some highly desirable thing happens only when the dreaded thing happens. Perhaps a guilty pleasure type of thing. All of the examples that I’ve read/heard of this use watching movies or TV as the positive—”I can only watch these shows when I’m at the gym;” “I can only watch these movies when I do these unpleasant but long-term necessary health-related tasks”—but I’m sure that if that’s not your bag (like me), you can find something else.

As a general rule, I don’t like food/drink to be reward, but if it’s an infrequent or short-term enough thing, then it might be okay. It’s just … easy to set the stage to create or exacerbate other problems.

Links to the podcasts:

Work Life with Adam Grant

How To with Charles Duhigg (This is the current episode as of when I’m writing. “Procrastination” is in the title if you’re looking for it at a later time)

Armchair Expert

Braincast (This was my least favorite of the four I’ve linked—it’s the only episode I’ve listened to from this guy, and I’m not inclined to make room for more.)

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 19Apr20

Shots from around the neighborhood, as most shots are these days. It’s interesting how many things I’m seeing that I haven’t seen before, despite walking, running, and biking in the same places not only in the last month and change, but in the few years we’ve lived here.

Locks on a gate that I’ve passed at least 100 times:

dsc_0394

 

Along the canal are many back yards. I hadn’t noticed this guy:

dsc_0375

 

A different yard got a new gate:dsc_0411

 

A third yard had these growing. They’re fun to look at and it was a good challenge photographing them while avoiding lots of other garbage in the background—the roof, wires, other plants. Also, I’m glad they’re not in my yard:

dsc_0406

 

View from the canal:

dsc_0420

 

And, as always, cactus:

dsc_0380

 

I learned this week that these yellow-topped weeds are invasive and are causing some significant problems in certain areas. If you’re in Arizona and you have them around, hack them down!

dsc_0387

 

I love catching the birds in the cacti!

dsc_0439

 

Three shots of similar plants. The second one is The Kid’s favorite.

dsc_0441dsc_0425dsc_0427

 

I love the contrast of the bougainvillea against the white wall. Also, this is someone’s front yard and the front of their house. I wonder if or when people are annoyed, paranoid, or irate about my photographing. (I’m not snapping people or identifying information or inside people’s houses, so I figure it’s fine, but they don’t necessarily know that… No one has said anything yet.)

dsc_0333

 

It was a good day to catch a reflection in the canal:

dsc_0404

 

And finally, not on a walk, we made banana muffins, one third plain, one third with almonds, and one third with mini chips.

dsc_0331

 

I’ve started to learn some about how to manipulate my flash and how to use the external one I got for Christmas. Hoping to have some good shots for you next time using some of that new knowledge!