New Year’s Resolution: Self-Care

Most New Year’s resolutions are about things we will do, things we will ask of ourselves.

But I am tired of pouring from an empty pitcher. 

My utter neglect of good and proper self care has negatively impacted me, my wife, and even my daughter, and it is time to fix that.

This is the year. This is the time.

I’ve been doing a good bit of research into self care,  and I’ve come up with some plans for different areas of my life.

I’ll be writing an ongoing series about my efforts this year. 

But for now, this is my public declaration. I will  take better care of myself,  starting now.

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Why it’s hard to watch Jessica Jones and Stranger Things


I figured out why it’s taking me so long to get through Jessica Jones and Stranger Things.  

It’s not just because Jessica Jones is such a  intense show,  dealing with heavy subject matter unflinchingly.

It’s not time:  I’ve wandered in and watched basically all of who knows how many episodes of the various shows Katherine has watched to unwind: Limitless,  Monarch of the Glenn,  and other generally lighter shows. 

I think it’s energy and tolerance for lack of closure. In a lot of shows, the problems are solved by the end of the episode.

I have my own problems,  and I don’t have a lot of space in my heart for shows that might have some resolution at the end of the season, but certainly won’t before then. 

They’re both great, like Babylon Five and Battlestar Galactica before them.  I’ll get through them eventually, but I may be past the point where I can dive into many more grueling indefinite-length dramas. 

That time would probably be better spent reading anyway. 

Sleep Deprivation Is a Moral Issue


Well, mine is at least. 

Some people are sleep deprived because they have to work multiple jobs, maybe 80 hours a week, just to survive. In a nation as rich as America,  that’s a moral issue of an entirely different sort, a matter of basic decency and justice. 

That is not why I get sleep deprived. I get sleep deprived because I stay up too late. 

Doing what?  You might ask. Well,  that it’s the thing… It always seems to be something different.

I may not watch one bit of tv or play one minute of a videogame,  but  something will come up,  something I forgot to do,  something I need to look up,  something I want to talk about, an idea I want to write down …SOMETHING.

It is not any one thing. It’s a million different things. Which means it’s me. 

And I am going to fight back, starting today. 

Starting tonight,  it’s no excuses.  If I miss a night on the blog,  you will know why. 

If I fall short of another July goal,  that’s okay.  This matters more. 

Sleep deprivation dulls my wit and clouds my creativity.  It is damp wood for my creative spark,  producing far more smoke than fire. 

It makes me less effective at work,  shortchanging my department and the students we serve.

Sleep  deprivation takes me  away from my loved ones now by making me drowsy and grouchy.  

It will take me away from them permanently if I let it, maybe not this year,  but far sooner than I want to go. 

So starting tonight, I will fight back. I will start getting ready for bed by  10, and close my eyes by 11.

I am drawing a line.  Please pray that I will be able to hold it. 

Transformations (New Year, New Me?)

There are a few transformations coming up in my future (in two to five weeks, I’ll no longer be a father-to-be, but the father of a newborn). There are also a transformations I’d like to intentionally undergo. I know New Year’s Day was a month ago, but anything that’s going to stick is going to have to be ongoing, not a one-time thing.

I want to transform from the kind of person who lets a lot of time slip through his fingers without knowing where it went into the kind of person who moves efficiently from one thing to another. I want to be the kind of person who chooses what he’s doing intentionally, rather than just bouncing aimlessly from one thing to another, like I’m following links on TV Tropes or Wikipedia.

Second, I want to transform my physical conditioning. Over the course of 2012, I let myself get pretty out of shape. I slowly started building back up in November and December, and I plan to push myself further. I really don’t like exercise that much, but I have a kid coming, and I’ll need to be up to speed for playing with her, carrying her, carrying all her stuff (car seat, diaper bags, toys, etc).

Third, of course, I want to transform myself into someone who has done the data collection and analysis necessary for a PhD. I hope to get my degree by the end of the year, but even if I don’t, God willing, I will finish my data collection this year.

Fourth, I want to transform my imagination. Too long I have been content with an imagination that is tied to conventional cultural messages about redemptive violence.  Too long, the stories I think in terms of have been violent ones, where good overcomes evil through force.

I do believe in self-defense, and I do believe in military action in extreme circumstances (such as World War II). But I don’t believe that battle is ever glorious. Not consciously, at least. But it appears that idea lurks in the back of my mind, and it needs to go.

I’m not talking about an exorcism or amputation. I don’t want to cut that idea out with a knife – that’s a pretty violent image in itself. I want to replace it. I want to heal it and redeem it. And that will mean finding new stories, creating new stories, and thinking in new stories.

Ultimately, this one is as important as my physical health. I have a daughter coming: what will I teach her about heroism? What will she aspire to? I will play a big role in shaping that, and I need to be sure I’m steering her right.

Time

Hourglass, map, and book

Photo by Annell Salo, Creative Commons

I think we’ve all felt it slipping through our fingers. The time that disappears between doing actual things.

  • I intend to start writing at 2, but it’s closer to 2:15 or even 2:30 before I actually get started.
  • I intend to go through my massive pile of possessions on Monday, but it’s Tuesday or Wednesday before I even begin.
  • Going to sleep similarly creeps up on me, and suddenly it’s an hour later than I’d intended, and I know I’ll be tired the next day.

I don’t know where that time goes: maybe it slips down the couch cushions with the loose change. Maybe it slides down between the seats of my car, along with my favorite pens. Maybe it journeys to that far, undiscovered country where one sock out of every pair goes, only to return as a wire coat hanger.

But I know I must take hold of it. I know the soft blur of time that drips by in-between must be captured, and must be captured before my little girl is born.

I find myself without time enough to do everything I need to do – to write, to work on preparations for the baby, to spend time with Katherine, to exercise like I should, to adequately study the Bible, even to sit and clearly think.

And this affects everything I do, everything I’ve done for most of my life. I have the brains to do most anything I’d actually want to do (astrophysics isn’t one of my interests, fortunately. I’d be a poor physicist), but the static mocks every footstep. I feel like I’m walking into the wind sometimes, and it’s so hard to really focus, to do things intentionally.

Some of this is anxiety, no doubt. Some of it may be laziness. Some of it is just poor planning. Some of it is my distractibility. I have so many interests that it’s hard to leave some behind and focus in on what I really want to do. But all of it is on the chopping block.

So instead of making a bunch of New Year’s Resolutions that only touch the symptoms, I’m going to attack the disease. I’m going to own my time. I’m going to capture the fuzzy lost moments. I’m going to be mentally and emotionally present where I am, right here, right now. If God is willing, I’m going to stop waiting and make things happen.