Month in review

by Sunita

The month is question is January, even thought we’re now almost a third of the way into February. But I wanted to track progress on my various projects from the beginning of the year. So here you go.


In December I decided to try to Couch to 5K system of getting back into shape to run. I’ve been a recreational runner for most of my adult life, from college to well into my 40s. But over a decade ago I had nearly a year of intensive treatments for cancer (I’m fine now, no worries!), which pretty much destroyed my muscle mass and gave me arthritis on top of that. It turns out that arthritis can be a side effect of the steroids they give you to make chemotherapy easier to deal with. Who knew? I only had it in my knees and ankles, and more in one leg than the other, but it was enough to twinge every time I tried to get myself back into running shape. And that whole aging thing doesn’t help.

The older I get, the harder it is to stay fit and keep from packing on the poundage. I decided my trajectory, unaddressed, was bad enough that I would let someone tell me what to do, i.e., I would just follow the C25K program without talking back to it. The guy who came up with it did it to help his 50-year-old, never-an-athlete mother get into shape. I figured I was close enough to that profile that it could work.

And readers, it has. I walk home from work most days and take public transportation a lot, so I’m not completely unfit. But as everyone says, running is mental as much as physical. The first weeks were not a big deal, but when I first had to run for 25 minutes straight? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d done that. But I did it. I’m now on Week 8, which has me walking 5 minutes, running 28 minutes, then walking 5 minutes, three times over the week. The program ends at 9 weeks, when you run for 30 minutes between the 5-minute warmup and warmdown walks.

I’m doing the program on a treadmill, which means I’m really, really slow. But I don’t care. I’m running again. When I finish the program I’ll keep going three times a week, first increasing my pace, then going outside (once it’s over 25F here). If I can up my distance, great, but I don’t really care. If I can run 30 minutes three to four times a week on a regular basis without hurting myself, I will be ecstatic.

Hobonichi Planner

I love my Hobonichi as a planner. I write down all my appointments but I also make notes about other stuff I’ve done, as well as what we have for dinner each night, and I have been continuing to log my time. I think it was Liz McC who suggested using the grid format to do that, and it’s much better than a separate chronodex-type system for me. I look down the leftmost squares on the page, which I color-code according to a few categories (work, goals such as C25K and morning pages, chores, and social stuff), and I have a good sense of how I’ve spent my day. I still have the random Too Much Internet entry, but I’ve been so busy that they’ve been fewer in number than before.

I am using my vertical weekly planner at the office, but it stays there, open on my reading slope so that I can see my work week at a glance when I’m in the office. It’s a great backup but it wouldn’t be enough without the Hobo. And my ToDo list is still in my Midori, but again, not a substitute.

Morning Pages

I have a nice routine to do my pages now. I write them with my morning tea, before we walk the dogs. I get in 20-30 minutes of internet surfing and email, and then I close the computer and write my pages. It’s much better for me mentally than doing them later in the morning, and it keeps me from falling down internet holes as one of my first waking activities.

We have a group on Twitter where we check in to let each other know that we’ve paged. It is a gentle reminder for me that I need to do them, and even though I think I would do them anyway, I like the social interaction. Especially since I’m not talking to people as much on Twitter these days (I use it more as a news feed).

January reading

January was a very hectic month for me at work, but I managed to read four books. I’ve written about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell already, but I also read an old Sarah Morgan Medical Romance called The Spanish Consultant and enjoyed it very much. It’s the first book in the Westerlings trilogy, which is about three posh siblings. I love Morgan’s Medicals and I haven’t read one in a while, so it was great to revisit her world.

My other reads were also by favorite authors, but they weren’t as satisfying. The Earl’s Convenient Wife had some of my favorite Marion Lennox features, but it didn’t quite hang together as a convincing romance. And Shirley Wells’ Deadly Shadows, the 6th in her Dylan Scott series, had a secondary storyline involving Bev, Dylan’s wife, that I found troubling and unconvincing in terms of Dylan’s previous characterization (it could entirely be me not the book, given the subject matter).

I’m now in the middle of two very different books. A Girl to Love by Betty Neels is a reread of one of my favorite of her books, especially among the later ones. It holds up surprisingly well and makes a terrific comfort read. My library has a bunch of her ebooks, including many I don’t own in that format, so I foresee plenty of Neels rereads in 2016.

At the other extreme is Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, which Liz talked about recently on her blog. It is not a comfort read, although it is an id read in way, because it pokes at my id and makes me squirm a bit. As Liz said, Beatty is not writing to a white audience, or just to a black audience for that matter. He’s writing to all of us who are trying to make sense of American culture today. I switch back and forth between the ebook and the audiobook, and I’m taking it somewhat slowly, because his style is dense with wordplay and I don’t want to miss anything. It’s a singular read. I’ll report back when I’m done.

February isn’t much less frantic than January, but hopefully I’ll keep it under control. I’ll let you know how it goes!