Why Read?

It was a pretty low-key weekend. I suppose that’s better than a Loki one…

I grilled some tasty meals on my indoor smokeless grill and I mainly did some chores, a lot of reading, piano, and martial arts. I suppose that doesn’t sound low-key, but for me it was.

It’s about time I had a weekend like that. My schedule gets really hectic sometimes and I really need to pare down to the essentials.

That’s what the current read, Essentialism by Greg McKeown is all about. I was already doing a number of the things he talks about, but I’ve learned a few new tricks from it. There are only a handful of chapters left before I finish it. Then I’ll be one book away from meeting my Goodreads target for this year.

My target is 8 books for the year because for the past couple of years, life has been too busy. I may get more read this year, but I didn’t want to put pressure on myself knowing I had so much else on the go. So far, I’ve read:

  1. The Crimes of Grindelwald by JK Rowling
  2. Wings by Danielle Steel
  3. Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  4. Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  5. Percy Jackson: The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  6. A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto

I really hope the new train works properly soon. I’m fairly sure I’ll be able to read more on it because it looks pretty smooth compared to a bus. Reading makes a long commute way better. Actually, it makes life and me better too. I can improve my empathy and reduce bigotry by reading fiction or real stories about people who have lives that are different than mine. I can learn how to deal with a problem or learn a new skill by reading self help or technical books. I can improve as a writer by reading a wide variety of genres because I can have an awesome time enjoying a story while passively taking in grammar, spelling, structure, description, conflict, suspense, and more.

I lost myself once and hardly read during that period. I went from reading multiple books a day (albeit those were Nancy Drews in my youth) to hardly reading anything over nearly a decade. It was Harry Potter that first brought me back to it. I never read them when they began because I was predominantly reading Stephen King and Anne Rice when I was in high school. I started reading them after Chamber of Secrets came out at Blockbuster.

After that, I read the Twilight series, which was a nice read to get back into it. They were actually quite addictive. I think after that I got into the House of Night books, Vampire Academy, etc.

It’s only in recent years that I’ve really taken to non-fiction books. Anyway, I want reading to be a big part of my life going forward, so with that in mind my goals have been tweaked some.

HOME

The cleaner my home gets, the more I have time for the things I love like music and reading.

After much deliberation, I’m going to get a recliner instead of a chaise as they are about half the price. I was going to get a storage chaise, but that really just encourages me to keep more stuff instead of getting rid of it. A recliner will let me read, write, and watch Netflix hopefully comfortably. It won’t be primarily used for writing, but sometimes one just wants the option to write anywhere. I’m also debating about one more vertical bookshelf. I know what I just said about the storage space, but I have a number of books yet with no shelf to live on. Some I have kicking around my bedroom because I know I want to keep them, but they can’t fit on my shelves. I want everything to be in a proper place or be gone from my space.

  • Paper: 11 pieces
  • Bathroom: Waiting to hear which day the plumber will be coming.
  • Recliner: 64%

FINANCES

  • R. Card: 73.22%
  • S. Card: 23.5%
  • OSAP Loan: 6.86%
  • Savings: TBD

FITNESS

I was so zonked after doing jodo and iaido on Sunday. My heels were quite sore by the end. Thankfully, I’m not too sore today. There is a little tightness in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

We had newbies and they are so cute! I always appreciate when new people start. I never know if they’ll stick with it or not, but it makes me go back and work on fundamentals. I quickly learn where I’ve been slacking. It also reminds me of when I was a beginner and couldn’t remember which side of the wooden sword was my edge and moving the thing around looked really easy yet I couldn’t do it right.

  • Gazelle: 0% saved

FRENCH

I’m going to put French on pause for the moment. Not that it’s not important, but I need to get a few other things handled first.

MUSIC

My teacher was happy with my progress. I like her a lot. She teaches me some other things as needed like intervals. I didn’t fully get everything she said about them, but she said they’re really good to know for piano and for singing, so I’m sure I’ll be learning more about them.

My next lesson is in two weeks. I have to:

  • Memorize Let It Be
  • Learn Downtown Abbey
  • Choose a song from my big book of easy songs to learn next

WRITING

I have made a tiny amount of progress here, but I’m worried. I’m on chapter eight of twenty-six* and I still need almost eight thousand words! I have a plan I formulated while hopped up on way more caffeine than I normally ingest. Hopefully, it will work out!

  • The Page & The Magician: 72,254/80,000

*It’s a good thing I made sure to edit this post before putting it up 😉

R~

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A Spiritual Realization

For the past two years or so, I’ve been on a spiritual journey. I’ve went to church a number of times. I’ve read a chunk of the bible. I’ve sung the songs. I’ve tried really hard to believe, but I don’t feel it. I think the main allure may have been that many Christians seem really happy. And who doesn’t want to be happy?

Things that make them happy include volunteering, helping others, donating to charity, singing songs, having like-minded friends, and being kind. None of these things require belief in a deity.

Maybe it’s that I’ve been through too much crap to be able to believe that God has some wonderful plan for me. This list includes things like a miscarriage in 2011, which I haven’t really talked about much. It was one of the worse experiences I’ve ever had. Maybe I’ll write about it more in the future. All the job/financial difficulties, a divorce, food/health issues, and being bullied largely make up the rest of the crap.

Anyway, the moment I decided I was agnostic was the moment I felt peace inside me. I was anguishing over the fact that I couldn’t make myself believe beyond the possibility of initial creation. I fell in a pool when I was three. It was my brother who saved me. Now, one might say I was lucky or that God must have been watching over me because it happened while my family was all there, but I bet somewhere on the other side of the globe there was another child who didn’t survive a drowning. What would make me more deserving of attention from God than another? Nothing that I can think of.

But here’s the thing. Just because I don’t believe, doesn’t mean I need to be mean to those who do or that I should be okay with hate directed at religious groups. Because I’m really not okay with the fact that Christians are being slaughtered in Nigeria. It’s been going on for a long time. This is something that everyone, regardless of faith, should be upset about. Those are human lives. And just because some Christians are or were A-holes doesn’t mean these particular Christians in Nigeria or anywhere else deserve to die. We’ll never progress with a tit-for-tat mentality.

Plus, it could be your group next.

Also, I think Christians and others have a right to be upset that they can’t pray in school while other groups can. I think it would be awesome if all students were allowed some quiet time to pray, meditate, do yoga, or read a book because time to slow down during the day is beneficial for everyone. It’s about accepting everyone’s differences too.

Alternatively, all prayer could be banned from school, but I feel passionate that the answer isn’t in eradication of religions. Some books may need to be updated because advocating killing others is shitty, but I think part of the world’s beauty is in the mosaic, which wouldn’t be as varied without different worldviews.

Since admitting this thing about myself, I feel energized and free. I have more time for the things I love like martial arts. I’m not beholden to outdated rules. I can enjoy everything that doesn’t hurt another without feeling bad about it.

And I can write anything I want.

FINANCES

I have to pause some things right now. The opportunity has arisen where my water needs to be turned off, so a plumber can do work in the unit below mine. I have something I need done and don’t have a quote yet for it.

  • R. Card: 73.22%
  • S. Card: 24.7%
  • OSAP Loan: 6.86%
  • Savings: TBD

FITNESS

I’m heading back to jodo this weekend. I finally feel ready to get back to it. I was partly holding back on this because I knew I couldn’t do jodo and church due to the scheduling, but now I don’t need to worry about it.

  • Gazelle: 0% saved

HOME

It looks like I’ll be taking a step forward soon on the bathroom reno. With my water turned off and a plumber in the building, I’m hoping he can install the quarter-turn shutoffs I need on my bathroom sink the same day he works on my neighbour’s project. If so, I’ll then be able to slowly work at removing the old vanity and sink, repairing the drywall, and painting the room. I guess it’s a good thing I know what colour I want. I should consider a new light in there soon too as the current one sucks and I will need to repair the wall there likely too.

Oh, I’ve started a new thing with the declutter effort. I’m aiming to handle one piece of paper a day. Whether that means put it in the recycle, shred it, digitize it, or file it doesn’t matter. I figure by at least handling one a day, it’ll get under control despite limited time and fatigue. So far I’m doing well with it. I started it midweek and found some days it was easy to do more than one. And I’m keeping track of it in the same spreadsheet I track word counts and other things.

  • Chaise: 35% saved
  • Paper: 6 pieces

FRENCH

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I have heard back and need to take the next step. My email inbox has been cleaned up and the new temp starts soon, so I think I’ll have time for this.

MUSIC

This is coming along. My left hand is getting better and I’m getting closer to being able to play it with both hands smoothly. I doubt it’s up to speed though. I’ll be pulling out my metronome soon.

WRITING

I’m now aiming to write at least 100 words a day. Life has been busy and draining, so I figure if I can at least do that, it’s almost 1000 words a week. I’m not counting my blog in that 100 words. Soon enough, the nice weather will turn and I’ll be indoors a lot more.

  • The Page & The Magician: 72,189/80,000

R~

Pressured Progress

Well, I’ve been rather tired as of late and haven’t gotten as much done as I hoped. Until today anyway. I returned home after work to find a notice that my unit will be entered tomorrow for fire alarm testing. And that’s how my night has suddenly turned into nothing but cleaning.

Well, I managed to squeeze in a desperately needed haircut, but otherwise I’ve been cleaning non-stop save a brief dinner.

What I want to be doing right now? Knitting and watching Dirk Gently.

I’m quite annoyed because I work in procurement, so I know they likely have known about this for awhile as these things involve contracts and buildings typically have a regular schedule. They used to give us a week’s notice for things and lately it’s been more like this one day crap.

On the upside, I’m getting my place a lot cleaner in a short time frame, but it doesn’t mean I’m actually making the progress I want in terms of my declutter effort. I’m having to stow things away rather than properly sort through them 😦

I also learned that way too much of my condo runs on the same circuits. I’ll be saving up to have an electrician see if that can be remedied. I should go through and map it out as the panel is pretty much illegible.

Anyway, back to cleaning.

WRITING

No progress here, but I stumbled across an interesting tidbit that I may try to use in the story.

  • The Page & The Magician: 72,189/80,000

FINANCES

Mainly status quo as I can only see one item easily.

  • R. Card: 73.22%
  • S. Card: 24%
  • OSAP Loan: 6.86%
  • Savings: TBD

FITNESS

I’m exploring keto recipes to give myself more options and stumbled on a miracle bread recipe involving “crazy dough” that can be used for pasta, pizza, cinnamon buns, and more. I’m hoping to try it out soon. I’ve lost about half a pound. Not amazing, but more than nothing!

HOME

More to do than I’d like, but it’s coming along. Maybe it’ll be in pretty good shape by September.

FRENCH

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I have heard back and need to take the next step.

MUSIC

I’m really sucking here. I’ll be trying to rapidly learn Let it Be next week…

R~

Petite Progress

It was time to dust off my laptop after one too many times having my Microsoft Surface separate itself from its keyboard. The Surface is good for some things, but I don’t generally have to worry about my laptop’s screen taking a hike suddenly. It took awhile for it to fully synchronize with Dropbox and even longer to Update Windows, but it’s back up and running.

It has been a bit of a nostalgia trip. Some of the recent blog posts on this laptop were from 2017 around the time I heard back from a publisher that they liked my book, but felt it needed a little more work. Also on the laptop was the confirmation from when I applied to college.

It’s easy to lose site of how much has happened in a short while when in the midst of it. I was restructured out of my job only 3 years ago, but I went through a lot in that short period. I spent so much time worrying I’d end up homeless and skipped a lot of meals to save money for bills in that time.

I regularly feel impatient that my home isn’t clean yet, but I only started really making an effort a couple of months ago and I was spending much of my free time job hunting, so I wasn’t 100% devoted to it. I guess I’m hard on myself sometimes. There’s just me cleaning it up and I’m working full time plus writing. I should focus more on that I’m making huge strides and not just on the end goal.

It seems a lot like writing a novel really. I often just want the thing to be done and out there for people to read, but the journey is important and may even be more than the result. I find myself getting caught up in the hoped end result all the time though. It seems someone I know always has their next book coming out and I haven’t gotten my first out yet. I know it’s not a race. The only thing I should be focused on is making my work better than what it was the day before.

I’ve started this new bin method I got from The Spruce. So far, I like it. It’s helpful to gather the smallish items that get everywhere easily like pens or tape. It gives them a place to be while I figure out if they should be in my home at all too. And I have a handy bin to carry multiple items back into the room they belong in. I’m using dish bins from the dollar store as they aren’t too big or too small. And I added a small one with compartments for the little things like screws, nails, and paperclips. The ‘Put Away’ bin fills up quickly though!

WRITING

I haven’t done anything here this weekend. It’s a long weekend in Canada for most and I’ve been using my extra time to clean.

  • The Page & The Magician: 72,189/80,000

FINANCES

Status quo for now.

  • R. Card: 73.22%
  • S. Card: 4.7%
  • OSAP Loan: 6.86%
  • Savings: TBD

FITNESS

It turns out that postponing the gym has been a great decision. It’s freed up my mind for writing. The cleaner my home gets, the more the ideas flow. And I feel happy more often.

HOME

It has been an exhausting weekend filled with cleaning. I took a big box to donation on Saturday, bought a cabinet that was on sale for my bedroom, and cleaned up a new spot for my microwave. I’m seeing more floor all the time, but I feel like I’m playing Tetris with my furniture! I also swept my balcony and put an old table out there that I saved from the garbage room last year. Ideally, I’d like a nice folding set like I saw on someone else’s balcony as it would be easier to store come winter. Someday. Next year more likely.

This week I intend to:

  • Clean up my desk as I’m working from home on Monday.
  • Catch up on laundry.
  • Catch up on dishes.

FRENCH

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I have heard back and need to take the next step.

MUSIC

I’ve been playing a little more piano because it’s easy to get to. Not enough though. I did realize I could practice my fingering in the early morning without turning it on. I definitely need to do a lot more left hand work.

R~

Early Bird

I’m feeling pretty good about something.

I used to be the type to sleep in quite late. I often struggled to get to work for 9:30 AM.

Well, I’m getting up at 5:30 AM now. Also, I have made it to work for 8:00 AM every day since I started going back to work. I’m still adjusting somewhat, but it’s nice getting done at 4:00 PM instead of 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM.

Getting up earlier also gives me more time to make breakfast. Because I’m leaving much earlier than I used to, I have way more buffer if something happens along the way.

Speaking of, this week started with a bus breaking down on the side of the road. It was near the university stop though, so it was no big deal to walk over and catch another bus. I wasn’t even late to work. It was pretty weird though. The thing just lost all power and all the driver could do was get it to coast to the side of the road.

WRITING

I’m feeling proud of myself here too. As I’ve been doing this round of edits, I think I’ve figured some key things out about writing a novel. At least, I hope I have.

Previously, I’d often cut a character out just to avoid dealing with them. Now, I use them as a way to push the story forward and make things a little more tense. This also leads to giving me an extra couple of paragraphs.

Somewhere along the way, I also learned to write less dialogue and more descriptive and action-oriented prose. At least it feels that way to me. There’s undoubtedly still room to grow, but I’m feeling a little less amateurish than before.

Hey, look! My word count is increasing again. Yay 🙂

  • The Page & The Magician: 72,189/80,000

FINANCES

Money is a bit tighter than I’d like, but considering I got a tire change done and some things for my home, I’m doing okay. I’m waiting for my next update to come in on my balances.

  • R. Card: 73.22%
  • S. Card: 4.7%
  • OSAP Loan: 6.86%
  • Savings: TBD

FITNESS

I keep wavering on whether I want to go to a gym or get myself the other equipment I need at home. The gym is actually cheaper if I just look at one year, but the ROI on the equipment is 18 months. Plus I know I won’t want to go out in the winter. The only real benefits to the gym are less stuff in my space and the potential to make some friends. Maybe I could try the gym this year and if it doesn’t work out, get the equipment later on? It’s around $22 a month.

After writing the above and thinking on it for the day, I’ve decided I’m going to treat my cleaning as my gym for now. I’m also thinking that long-term, the gym is better because I’m very limited on space.

This is an odd way to clear something off of my list, I suppose, but I think it makes the most sense for now. I’ll be continuing Iaido of course, plus I get extra walks in at work whenever possible. I’m planning on moving my living room lighting around too, which will give me more space to practice martial arts at home.

And another thing dawned on me about the gym. The train will take me almost right there when it’s up and running, so it’s actually beneficial to hold off for that reason too.

  • Iaido: I don’t have a plan per se for my first Sandan challenge yet, but I will work my butt off soon and I’ll need to make it to Tuesdays at least a couple of times a month. Perhaps the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The second one has an event I’d like to go to more often and the end of the month often has me out late, so would be too exhausting.

HOME

  • General: With my tires away, I’d like to say I’m making a lot of progress, but not quite. Hopefully soon. I’ve been pretty tired by the time the workday is done. Maybe this is why monks clean in the morning? TO do that, I’d need to get up at 5:00 AM…
  • Office: Cleaning up my desk is one of my main goals right now. It’s something I can chip away at during the week.
  • Bedroom: Curtain rod with curtains up in my closet. Next is to catch up on laundry.
  • Bathroom: There’s a chance I’ll be having my water turned off because a neighbour needs work done below me. I’m hoping to piggyback on this and get shutoffs installed for my sink, then I’ll be able to remove the old vanity entirely!
  • Dining Room: As I finished reading The Monk’s Guide to a Clean Mind, I looked up and got the answer to my current dilemma. I have a large bookshelf in my bedroom I’m currently using for spare cloth. My cloth needs are far outweighed by my need of a pantry, but I don’t really want to spend money right now. Enter the bookshelf. Looks like I have some work to do this weekend! My first task will be to clear the shelves and the area where it will be going. The next will be to figure out how to move it without damaging any floors.

FRENCH

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I have heard back and need to take the next step.

MUSIC

  • Piano: I moved my keyboard into my living room and I find it easier to access and play more regularly.

R~

My World is Shrinking

Lately, I’m realizing Ottawa is much smaller than I thought. It began on my birthday when I found the access to the Rideau Canal, which has been close to my workplace all this time. Buildings I’ve known the addresses of for over a year, but never seen are around the corner from my dojo. The sempai, or senior student, at my dojo works in the same building as me. My friend’s dojo is around the corner from the park where Prose in the Park was held a couple of years ago, which is also a short walk from the bus station I frequented during school. All of these things I’ve only discovered this month and many were on the weekend that just passed!

Speaking of the weekend, mine was packed. Friday was spent making a Fukuro Shinai. It took about 4 hours and I still have to finish the handle wrapping. It has been the hardest part to make look nice. My fingernails were a bit sore on Saturday. Some of my fingers still hurt. Leather-working is pretty hard!

Otherwise, this weekend I battled my air conditioner as another heat wave struck Ottawa. For some reason, the exhaust tube keeps coming off and spewing hot air back into my condo instead of out of it. I’m hoping Gorilla tape will settle the matter.

Saturday brought my first piano lesson with my new teacher. She was really nice and I felt pretty comfortable with her right away. I think it’s a good fit. Because I’m only doing lessons biweekly and she has vacation during what would be our second class, I actually won’t have another until mid-August. That gives me plenty of time to perfect the piece and scale she assigned me. I really like the contemporary book we’re working with too.

WRITING

I haven’t made any progress since Wednesday as I’ve been too busy on the weekend. I’ll be back at it in force soon though.

  • The Page & The Magician: 71,969/80,000

FINANCES

Nothing new here though I think my car might be paid off by now, so yay?

  • OSAP Loan: 3.17%
  • Savings: TBD*

*My adviser and I will meet again in the fall to get things rolling here.

FITNESS

  • Gym: 0/3*
  • Iaido: I was nervous for the demo, but I got a bit of practice time before we went up that helped to calm the nerves. It went really well and there were a few interested people, so maybe we’ll have a couple of new students.

*This will probably be in September.

HOME

  • General: I’ve got another box of stuff ready to go. I hope to be done cleaning sometime in this millennia.
  • Bathroom: Nothing much yet, but I have started some little things like a basket for the things I use everyday. I plan to get a couple more like it to put on eventual corner shelves. One will be for my hair dryer and flat iron.

FRENCH

No news here.

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I’ve reached out about assessment at work. After that, I can find out about training.

MUSIC

  • Piano: I started classes and I really like this teacher. She has me working on Let it Be by The Beatles. Also on my homework list is the C Major scale.

R~

Two Steps Back

I’m still getting back into the swing of things at work. The earlier mornings and travel are making it hard to get as much done as I’d like, which was expected. We’ve also been having heat waves fairly regularly. This has made dishes and cooking difficult!

This week is a big martial arts week as we have our demo on the weekend at Natsu Matsuri 2019. I’m also attending a workshop a friend is running on building a Fukuro shinai. That’s a bamboo sword, which has a leather covering (for those who aren’t in the know).

Other than that, I don’t have much to report. I’m pretty much just working for the weekend right now, but I expect that will calm down soon enough. I did manage to watch Stranger Things Season 3, which was awesome and I’m sad that I’ve run out of episodes!

WRITING

So far, these changes have me losing words, but I have faith it will eventually work out. I’m through chapter one. There are only twenty-five more chapters to go…

  • The Page & The Magician: 71,969/80,000

FINANCES

I have started tackling the credit card debt though I’ve only had one pay and a half one at that.

  • OSAP Loan: 3.17%
  • Savings: TBD*

*My adviser and I will meet again in the fall to get things rolling here.

FITNESS

I’m a little frustrated here. Apps tell me I’m not getting enough calories to lose weight and I don’t have much of an appetite lately. I think that may be due to increased caffeine intake, so I’m going to calm down on that and see what that does. I may have to go see a doctor about it.

  • Gym: 0/3*
  • Iaido: Sunday’s class was excellent. We decided which katas to do for the demo and after practicing the whole set, we split them up among us and worked on our own parts. I’m a little nervous as I’ll be doing kata I don’t usually demonstrate.

*I’m going to hold off a moment as my exercise level is currently higher than my calorie intake and may be causing me issues.

HOME

  • Living Room: I got the bookshelf bench and put it in place. It has helped that part of the room, but it seems like there is still so much else to handle! I did find a place that does tires on Saturdays, so I think I will be able to put my tires away soon and that will help too.
  • Bathroom: Nothing yet.

FRENCH

  • Read: 9/30
  • Class: I’ve reached out about assessment at work. After that, I can find out about training.

MUSIC

  • Piano: I start classes this Saturday and I’m pretty excited about it!

R~