Friday, June 11, 2010

If at first you don't suceed, make your goal even smaller

I'm not even going to talk about how I'm not doing what I set out to do here. Instead, I'm going to try to get back on track one small step at a time. First up, goals for the weekend. By hook or by crook, I shall have accomplished the following by Sunday night:
1) Finish KIND AND USUAL PUNISHMENT by Jessica Mitford. It's taunting me on my Goodreads page with it's unfinished status, and I have mere pages to go.
2) Exercise every day. It'll probably be running at the gym Friday, weights at the gym Saturday, and something involving my iTouch or Wii Fit on Sunday.
3) Practice my violin twice. Because really, it's just getting embarassing.
4) Play Rock Band 2 on Wii. It makes me happy and I don't make time for it.
5) Write 1000 words. Could be the old project, could be something new.
6) Update the hell out of the store website. Enough said.

Now go forth and succeed!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

We Interupt this Banana for an Important Bulletin: Project Bittman

I did not come up with a new project last week, nor this week, but I swear I have a good excuse! I have undertaken a project rather larger in scale that has kind of been taking up my energy.

I read the book FOOD MATTERS by Mark Bittman and I was totally inspired. I've been really trying over the last six months or so to eat less processed food, and that's been reasonably successful. But Bittman takes it a step further with the idea that we should eat more vegetables, less meat, and be overall more conscious about where our food comes from. And of course, since I live for a project, I decided that I wanted to really make a change to the way we eat.

Over the last two weeks I've been trying to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and junk, sort of trying to ease into the whole thing. I realized that the only way this way of eating will be successful for D and I is if I really take the bull by the horns and get cooking (more than we already do). So this weekend I kicked it up a notch, and when we were at the market picked up some grains (farro and couscous), beans (red kidney and cranberry romano), and a bunch of vegetables.

I bought this amazing salad last week at one of those salad places where you can put virtually anything in a salad and I wanted to replicate it. I roasted red peppers and beets tonight, I'm going to slow roast some grape tomatoes, and I need to do something with zucchini. Now I can assemble salads or combine the veggies with couscous or beans for something totally delicious.

It's a small step, I think, to a way bigger change in attitude to eating and life but I'm excited to make it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Seven: Don't Be a Couch Potato

Project Bananas: Don't Be a Couch Potato has actually been surprisingly tough. On more than a couple occasions I've wanted to just collapse on the couch and watch something comforting but I've stuck with it. There were even a few times where I just turned the TV off and used my computer in silence because there wasn't anything on that I hadn't already seen. Considering that I like to have the TV on as a backdrop, this was a big step.

But talk about first world problems, what I'm really having a problem doing is catching up on my PVR. It could be a reflection of the fact that life is a bit stressful right now, but all I really have the energy for is 30 minute sitcoms. Anything longer than that and it feels like too much to commit to. In addition, those 60 minute shows are all dramas, and I think maybe that's because I just need something lighter in my life. Even tonight, I'm watching Say Yes to the Dress (episodes I haven't seen) instead of anything on my PVR.

This weekend is going to be pretty nutty, but I'm hoping to find a couple of opportunities to hack away at the PVR. I get a strange sense of accomplishment from clearing it up, and lord knows I can always use more of that feeling,

Monday, May 3, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Seven: Don't Be a Couch Potato

So, I kind of forgot to tell you about Project Bananas: Week Six. It was pretty unremarkable though, and I think I'm going to put it in reserve for another week when I need an easy but life affirming project (it's a good one! You'll like it!).

But, for week seven, I'm back on track with both Project Bananas AND blogging about it. Project Bananas: Week Seven is to not be a couch potato (I couldn't think of anything cleverer to call it). My definition of couch potato is a little different though. I'm allowing myself to watch TV, but only if it's something I haven't seen before. This means yes to catching up on my shows on my PVR (Bones, NCIS, and The Mentalist) but no to watching Friends on TV (or even worse, DVD). What I'm hoping is that this will allow me to waste less time watching shows that I've seen before and more time doing stuff that I actually want to do.

Here's the thing. Watching Friends is my happy place. I've seen the episodes so many times that I can just rest, relax, and let the gentle humour wash over me. Of late, I've been pretty stressed out and have been allowing myself to spend more time than is strictly appropriate watching reruns. I have a lot of things I'd like to accomplish. I want to read more, write more, practice violin more, play wii more, and exercise more. I'm not sure watching reruns is 100% physically preventing me from not beaching myself on the couch like a whale, but I do think taking a break from reruns might make for some space in my brain.

So here goes. Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe, and Joey, I'll miss you. Until next week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who needs therapy when you have a blog?

I think we can all agree that Project Bananas is not going quite as I had planned. It's not that I'm not achieving my goals, per say, but I'm definitely not blogging about them in the way I'd hoped. In order for this all to be successful, there needs to be a record.

I actually spend a goodly amount of time thinking about Project Bananas and this blog. If there was a way to take blog entries that I compose on the treadmill directly from my brain to the screen, I would be prolific. Sadly, there is not, so I have to find a better way to manage this. I convince myself that I have too much to do, that there isn't enough time, and that my right to relax in the evening is paramount to everything.

But take this evening for instance. I went to the gym after work and got home at 6:30, ready to make dinner. It turned out that the pork tenderloin I defrosted was short ribs, so D and I had to quickly make an executive decision to cook them. While the ribs started in the oven, I practiced my violin. As we speak, the ribs continue to cook and I'm getting a blog post in. It's 7:45. Who says I don't have time?

My problem is that if I'm not doing 100%, then I want to give in. In a sense, practicing my violin every day is easier than 4-5 days a week because with daily practice there are no excuses. With 4-5 days, I can put a day off to do later and before I know it, I haven't practiced at all.

So Project Bananas: Become Violin Virtuoso continues until Sunday. I was unexpectedly out of town for the weekend, so that was a bust, but I practiced Monday and today (Wednesday) so far. I'm trying and it feels good.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Four: Become Violin Virtuoso

The hope for Project Bananas: Become Violin Virtuoso was that it was achievable since I had a violin lesson last week and this week (usually they are every two weeks). The results were pretty good, but not as flawless as I had hoped. I practiced Monday, had my lesson Tuesday, practiced Thursday and Saturday. Upside? That's four days out of seven that I practice. Downside? What was my problem Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It only takes 20 minutes to practice, at minimum, so I should be able to find time for that every day.

I'm struggling with trying to decide whether my expectations of myself are too high or I'm not trying hard enough. It felt good going into my violin lesson yesterday feeling like I was somewhat prepared, even though I'm still on a steep learning curve. I don't think practicing every single day is every going to be doable. But practicing 5 out of 7 days? I think that is very achievable.

So I think that maybe Project Bananas: Week Five will be an extension of Become Violin Virtuoso. I had my lesson yesterday and I haven't practiced today (cooking, doing my taxes, and website stuff occupied my attention). So that leaves five more days that I need to practice four of. I think I can do it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Four: Become Violin Virtuoso

This was supposed to be easier. I mean, I knew it would be a challenge, and that was the whole point. But I never had any idea that it would be this hard this soon. It's been one thing after another. First I was traveling, then I was sick, then I was traveling again.

What I keep reminding myself is that the whole point of this project is to push myself into achieving more. The success rate is not going to be 100%, and that's ok.

So, week four. As it turns out, this has actually started pretty well. I restarted taking violin lessons at the beginning of the year after 10 years of lessons followed by 10 years of not playing. My lessons were my Christmas gift from my parents. I thought that it would be way easier this time around because as an adult I`m more responsible now and I might actually practice once or twice. Turns out, I`m no more responsible than I was 10 years ago.

Project Bananas: Week Four is Become (a) Violin Virtuoso which is to say I`m going to try to practice almost every day. I practiced on Monday, had my lesson on Tuesday, worked late on Wednesday (so no practice), and practice tonight (Thursday). Three out of four nights isn`t bad. I think I may actually be able to pull this one off.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Three, Day Six: Become Bestselling Novelist

Just a little bit of housekeeping... Project Bananas needs a little bit of tweaking to make it more workable. Starting a new project on a Friday doesn't seem to be working for whatever reason so from here on out, new projects will begin on a Monday. That means Week Four is actually going to start Monday, April 5th. Project "Become Bestselling Novelist" will thus have another 5 days in action (counting today) which with the addition of the two days from Week Two will make an entire weeks worth of projecting.

As you were...

Project Bananas: Week Three: Fail Better

Well, fuck. That went completely off the rails, didn't it? In fairness to me, here's what happened:
Project Bananas: Week Two: Become Famous Novelist started beautifully. I wrote the requisite word count on Friday and Saturday. I was traveling back home from DC on Sunday and due to a layover had twice as much time as the trip would usually take, so I figured I'd write on the second plane ride. Unfortunately, by the time I actually got on the plane, we were running over an hour late and I was sunburnt and cranky. I figured I'd get back on track on Monday.

Monday was busy and I knew I wouldn't have time to blog or write in the daytime because I was at work. But as the day itself went on, I felt progressively wretched and finally had to ask my boyfriend to come pick me up from work (a rare occurrence, I assure you). I slept until dinner was ready, ate D's amazing Indian Feast, and then crashed again. By this time my throat was hurting and my glands were swollen and painful to touch. Idiot that I am, I trundled off to work on Tuesday morning only to actually get sicker on the bus to work and I headed straight to a walk-in clinic. 45 minutes, a strep throat diagnosis, and a prescription for penicillin later and I was headed back home where I would spend the next two days wallowing in pain. Needless to say, no writing was written.

Thursday and Friday were all about madly catching up on work and sleep, the weekend was extremely social, and Monday was my last day in the office before ANOTHER trip. Project Bananas had so completely gone off the rails at this point that it hardly seemed worth worrying about. Now it's Wednesday (so really, it should be Week Three, Day 6) and I'm trying to put the pieces back together.

Here's the thing though. Project Bananas is my evil genius and as such I make the rules. And my rules involve a lot of opportunities for redemption, because lord knows I'm going to need them. Plus no-one is reading this anyways. That doesn't matter though. The ultimate goal of Project Bananas was to make me more accountable to myself for my ideas and dreams. Acknowledging a project's failure (and not even failure, at that) and moving on and continuing is what I want this to be all about.

So Mea Culpa, and in the words of Samuel Beckett, "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Project Bananas: Week Two: Become Bestselling Novelist

To my mind, week one of Project Bananas, otherwise known as "Become Famous Blogger" was an unmitigated success. I missed one day for a pretty good reason and wrote one patheticly short post. But what I was hoping to prove to myself was that I could do something and stick to it, which I think I did pretty ably.

When it came to choosing the project for week two, I had to be discerning. I'm in Washington DC right now and so am filled with inspiration to do all sorts of crazy things. But when it came down to it, I had to choose something that I can achieve while being in DC (and away from home and my regular routine) for the next few days. So I decided that Project Bananas, Week Two will be "Become Famous Novelist".

I've always wanted to write and always been foiled by my complete inability to finish anything. Now that I work in publishing, I'm way more familiar with the pitfalls of getting a book published, not least of which is that the book is changing every single day. I feel a certain amount of pressure to submit a novel to an agent before the landscape of publishing changes completely. But I'm also not going to go forward with anything unless I think it's worth it.

Of course, before I can even think about submitting a novel to an agent, I need to actually finish the damn thing. So "Become Famous Novelist" will entail writing at least 500 words of the project I'm working on every day.

Today I'm pretending to be independently wealthy and the kind of person who can afford to sit at Starbucks all day writing. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One, Day Seven: Become Famous Blogger

I could choose to look at my lack of blogging yesterday as a failure of Project Bananas: Become Famous Blogger. But I choose to look at it as a reflection of the challenges I'm going to face as Project Bananas continues. I simply had NO time. I was at my desk by 8am, I didn't leave until 5:30pm when I walked to the hotel where I was getting the shuttle to the airport. Yes, there was wi-fi on the bus (which was awesome for some iTouch), but I really kind of wanted to listen to music and watch the scenery go by. I got to the airport and of course they make you pay for wifi. So I checked in, went through security and wandered around a bit before reading my (amazing) book at the gate. I arrived in DC late and by the time I got to my sister's place, the baby was up and we were trying to get him back to sleep.

Which is all to say, there was not really time. But I think that's ok. I've blogged six days out of seven, and that's an amazing accomplishment. I have a habit of qutting something entirely as soon as I fail at something slightly (ie, every diet or workout plan I've ever tried in my life). I don't think that's conducive to long term accomplishments and the whole point of Project Bananas to be more (and FEEL more) accomplished.

I have the rare opportunity to wander around DC (one of my favorite cities) and maybe even go write a little on the project I started. I'll also do some thinking about what the next Project Bananas will be. Week two starts tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One, Day Six: Become Famous Blogger

No time to blog. Frantically packing. This counts as a post by the rules, although it may not be in the spirit. More tomorrow.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One, Day Four: Become Famous Blogger

I'm not kidding, I think this might be a record. It's day four and I'm still at it!

I'm pretty proud of my self actually, which is good because my violin lesson was a bit of an ego-batterer. I practice, not quite as much as I should, but I do practice. So it completely baffles me that I still sound so terrible. I played violin for 10 years as a kid/teenager. I was no virtuoso, but I was a more than proficient player. Now I'm struggling to bow straight and stay in tune. Forget shifting and vibratto.

I think it's pretty clear what the next Project Bananas is going to be. I'm hoping that Project Bananas: Become Famous Blogger will have given me some stick-to-it-iveness to be able to improve my violin playing because the screeching I've got going on is really not doing it for me.

More than anything, I want to be able to walk away from all of this with the knowledge that I can start something, finish it, and be kind of awesome in the process. I want to know that I've really suceeded at something and feel proud of myself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One, Day Three: Become Famous Bloggers

Project Bananas: Become Famous Blogger is probably the most boring of my potential projects on account of the fact that there isn't much to blog about blogging every day. It's only day three and it's Sunday, so finding time to blog on the weekend has not been much of a challenge so far. But tomorrow is Monday and it could all very easily derail from there.

I have my violin lesson every second Monday night and tomorrow is that night. My lesson is at 6pm, so I tend to stay late at work and then walk up. Nothing enrages me quite so much as taking the subway during rush hour and taking it with my violin is a nightmare. My lesson is an hour and then I have to take the streetcar home. I don't get there until about 7:30, so it's these nights that I make strong suggestions to my boyfriend that he make dinner. But by the time it's all said and done (violin, ride home, dinner) it can be almost 9pm. All I want to do at that point is collapse on the couch and not think anymore. Tomorrow though, I will make the time to blog.

Tuesday night will be another challenge. No matter what I do, I have to stop at my physio on the way home and sign forms. The billing people at the office are unpleasant and agressive, so it's within my best interests to go and sign the damn forms or else they'll keep calling me and leaving overly detailed phone messages. The hope after that is that my loving boyfriend will be taking me out for dinner at our new favorite Chinese restaurant. They make this fried eggplant that is totally transformative. When we get home from dinner, I have to pack for my trip to Washington DC the next day. But much like those effing forms, the blogging will be done.

Wednesday is the day when I'll either have to blog at work (which I don't want to do) or pay for internet at the airport (which I really don't want to do). I'm heading to the airport directly from work to visit my sister and nephew in DC. Thursday should be a breeze though and by then it'll be time for Project Bananas: Week Two. I'm kind of excited to pick a new project.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One, Day Two: Become Famous Blogger

Well, it's day two of a new project and the "just started a new project" euphoria continues. It's at this moment that I'm always the most optimistic. I've made it to day two, I'm still feeling enthusiastic, and the possibilities seem endless. Of course, the past would dictate that the thin end of the wedge is inserted tomorrow and the whole thing rapidly falls apart. But that's not going to happen this time.

I was lying in bed last night, feeling pretty excited about this whole project. I was raised to believe that I could do anything I wanted. Really and truly. My parents genuinely believed (and still believe) that I am capable of anything as long as I try hard enough. This has always been the problem though. I am a chronic underachiever in my personal life (let's take work right out of the equation here, I love my job, I work hard, and I'm good at it). I have never put 100% effort into a personal project. And it shows. I'm pretty good at lots of things, but amazing at nothing.

I was a smidgen overscheduled as a teenager. I went to a competitive high school, played hockey/ringette/field hockey, took violin/piano/singing lessons, debated, participated in school plays and rock shows, participated in church services, volunteered, and babysat. I had a extremely full life, but I couldn't really put all my attention or effort into any one thing because I had so much else going on. I think maybe my mother regrets that, but I certainly don't. I got to do everything that I wanted to do and never felt like I missed out.

But now, I wonder if that maybe didn't set me up to succeed as an adult. I have trouble sticking to ANYTHING from diets, to cleaning rotas, to flossing every night. I really want to break the cycle though, so that's why Project Bananas is so important to me. I don't have anything to prove to anyone else, but I do want to prove to myself that I can do this. Fingers crossed.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Project Bananas: Week One: Become Famous Blogger

I've been reading blogs for about 8 years now, ever since I read a website that someone left open on my laptop in my dorm room. That person had a list of links, once of which was Dooce, and then I started reading her. Then SHE had a bunch of links that I started reading, and before I knew it I was following the lives of a bunch of people that I've never met. Dooce was certainly not the web phenomenon then that she is now and all I can think is that if only I'd started a blog then I too could be a famous blogger now.

Let's be honest though, everyone and their dog has a blog now. I'm not really sure that the world needs more Famous Bloggers or that it has any interest in them. And what on earth do I want to be a Famous Blogger for anyways? The fame? The free stuff that I might not want? The potentially nasty comments from trolls?

That said, it's those blogging dogs that make me think that if THEY can do it, then surely I, an intelligent, creative, and witty person can manage it. I love to write, I have interesting and hilarious things to say, and I think it would be nice to have a record some day of all the crazy things I think of. So for the next week Project Bananas is all about getting this blog started. I hereby pledge on my beloved iTouch that I will blog SOMETHING every day this week.

Project Bananas: The Beginning

I'm pretty sure we've all been there. You read something, sawsomething, or heard something that got your imagination going and suddenly hatched a crazy plan in your mind. Maybe it was to quit your job and travel the world, write a bestselling novel, or get a body like a supermodel. But it doesn't take long before reality sets in and holes start poking their way into your plan. Your career and finances can't really take the hit of a long trip, you can't find the time to park yourself in front of your laptop, and the muscleheads at the gym scared you out of the weight room. So you abandon the project, convince yourself it was a crazy idea, feel guilty about it, and then forgot about the whole incident.

But here's the thing. Maybe it wasn't such a crazy idea after all? Or maybe the idea was a little bit crazy, but at heart of it was actually something totally reasonable. Maybe you just needed to start on a little smaller of a scale.

I'm the queen of insane projects. Some of them I tell people about and some of them only exist in my mind (mostly because I'm too embarassed to tell people about them). I've started and failed more projects than many people have ever even thought of in their entire lives. That's what comes from having an overactive imagination but being a classic underachiever. Besides, if you never actually finish something, does it really count as a failure? In my mind, the possibilities are truly endless because none of my projects ever come to fruition.

I think I've been working up to the idea for a while, but it finally came to me today. It's a very long story involving the 'Thursday Next' series by Jasper Fforde, used bookstores, and a walk home in the cold and pouring rain. But on the walk home the plan solidified in my mind. What if every time you came up with a wild and crazy idea you dialed it back to something achievable in the short term? Then, when and if (but totally when, right?) you achieve your short term goal you can either work up to a more involved version of Original Crazy Plan or perhaps even Original Crazy Plan itself.

And thus, Project Bananas (ie. totally crazy) was born. Every week, I'm going to tame one of my crazy ideas and trim it down into something I can achieve in 7 days. Hopefully I'll succeed and hopefully you'll want to read about it (or at least my mother will...).