As January draws to a close…

… I really didn't get much substantial work done this January with reference to my more academic behaviours: sure I got a few abstracts off to conferences, and got my thesis proposal approved, and I guess I also presented at the Forum for Information Professionals, but all things told, I did probably the minimum of what was necessary on the academic front.

Instead, it was more of a month of self-reflection. I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my major hobbies and habits, as well as my longer term goals and dreams. I got caught up on sleep and played video games. I watched TV shows and movies, whether through my computer, on DVD or Blu-ray. I read a bit, though perhaps not huge amounts. And I organized some small aspects of my apartment.

I tried to reconnect with some of those who really matter to me in my life whom I haven't seen in far too long of a time. This was not entirely successful, which realistically is my own fault for losing touch to begin with, and I reassessed how I was using certain social media platforms, by both being more careful as to whom I follow/like etc. and how I was interacting with them. While again it will take a long time to get me where I want to be, I'm at least thinking about these things.

I don't actually know where my personal balance will be with reference to how to divide up my time in the future and in coming months, but I do know that I want to spend more time on treasured relationships with friends, and that I want to work on getting adequate sleep, exercise, and food.

I want to enjoy life, but also make an impact. So in the coming weeks, months, and yes years I want to be able to say that I don't have regrets.

This year in brief I hope to do the following:
February/March — establish better working patterns regarding RA work and Thesis work, as well as a more regular exercise routine along with eating better at home and more balance between social and interpersonal outside-the-home activities
April/May/June — continue school work and begin conference travel for Kiwanis and Academics. Finish Thesis work
July/August — Defend my thesis. Submit things such that I graduate. Look forward to the future. Plan a REAL vacation of some sort.
September-onwards — look at work options. Find a job that I can feel passionate about or at least one that is fulfilling in one sense or another. Take that vacation. Travel for the sake of travel and not just for a conference or some other obligation (because I deserve that).

All throughout, obviously the earlier plans and goals will influence my behaviour… but this is where I'm at. I don't think that I won't encounter hurdles along the way: at this stage, I'm still finding it hard to get out of bed in the mornings, I'm still occasionally finding it hard to be as motivated as I'd like to be. But I don't want to be just living life, following my ol' habits and routines. I really want to be doing more. And change is hard. But what worthwhile thing isn't?

Food etc.

So while I was in Indianapolis, there was literally like unlimited access to food. And I love variety so definitely overate. Not perhaps as badly as I could have, but I definitely ate more than I needed. Once I got home I was back to my more normal habits of grazing a bit, so that has been a bit better… or at least it was until Friday where ridiculous amounts of food was available due to the nature of the conference I was attending (Forum for Information Professionals). That conference was pretty awesome: my talk went well, and I had fun giving out door prizes and talking to people. I also ended up taking quite a good amount of leftover pasta salad to JD's afterward.

Yesterday was another long day, and again I ate a bit more than perhaps I needed to (though by the time I ate lunch I was so hungry that it felt like the right thing to do, given that I was volunteering all day at a Harry Potter themed event for kids, and we had a bunch of volunteers no-show at our station [grumble]). I was only thirsty once I returned home, so only really had a lime/raspberry drink in the evening (lime juice blended with frozen raspberries, ice and water) before heading to bed.

Today on the otherhand, I had no place I had to be all day. Which is nice, given that I have had a lot to catch up on (I've accomplished a bit of it, though not as much as I would like in any estimation). I cooked some lasagna but it really wasn't as awesome as it was the last time I made it (given that I was out of many of the ingredients and made substitutions). It wasn't bad, however. My stomach hates me for it though, probably because I have consumed all too much milk today (cereal for breakfast, chocolate milk, and then cheesy lasagna). I don't think I happen to be lactose intolerant or anything, but I know that if I consume TOO MUCH milk I do tend to get an upset stomach. At the same time, I often find cheese settles my stomach, so really I make little sense to me. Does anyone have any thoughts? I wish I knew a hard and fast limit or guideline for myself, but I haven't yet figured one out.

Anyway, I hope that the fact that I actually cooked today means that I'll get back into the habit.

An Old Soul… ?

This weekend at SLKP Conference, someone described me as an old soul. I'm not sure really as to the veracity of that claim, but I can certainly identify with the idea behind it. I don't really fit Generation Y or even Generation X (seeing as my birthday is near enough to the start of Generation Y and all, given the Generation labels), mind you, I don't imagine anyone really fits a Generational description to a T to put it mildly, but this got me thinking.

The reason I was thinking about generations was because of a session at the conference that we CKI administrators took part in, learning about the general traits of all the different generations in the room, plus generation Z (and the oldest members of generation Z are in 12th grade essentially), along with brainstorming what events shaped the time frame in which these individuals were born.

Growing up, it was often said that I was born in the wrong generation. And while I wouldn't give up my life for the world, I can understand why this was said, if you consider my taste in music at that time in my life, my love for old-fashioned technologies, letter writing, books, etc., and well, more recently my knack of being able to spend a considerable amount of time with those who are decades my senior in chronological age.

I really wonder how this pigeon-holing myself as not of this generation in tendencies and habits has shaped my worldview. I also wonder how I really would have gotten on had I been born in a different generation. Sure I might be close to people in age, but I certainly do not find myself all that similar to those I advise in CKI for example, when it comes to those typifying generational traits, and yet, I was born into the same generation.

Perhaps these are just superficial thoughts… but I wonder at the fact that I often exhibit behaviours common in the silent generation and also whether labels I have dealt with for so many years has had a significant impact on my life and my behaviour. Right now, I am realizing for the first time in a long time, that I really truly need to go through some major self-improvement, and change.

And I wonder what being an old soul might have to do with all of it. There is so much to think about.

Back home and in a great mindset!

This morning I unpacked (yes I didn't procrastinate as much as I often do this time). And now, I'm slowly getting ready for my day in other terms. There is much to do, including research assistantship work, but I'll get it done.

SLKP Conference was just what I needed to become more motivated about all areas of my life (not just my Kiwanis-related ones). I really do feel strongly that I can effect some powerful change in my Kiwanis involvements in the coming weeks/months/years. I've also realized some great things about myself while I was gone. Sure, I didn't really leave the hotel much while in Indianapolis, but I had a great time, got to know some fabulous Kiwanians that I hadn't known previously as well as have a good time with Kiwanians that I've already known for some time.

The flights were a bit messed up (one late flight meant a missed connection on the way to Indy and one canceled flight meant a whole new set of flights on the way home), but I saw some good movies (Arthur, Contagion, and The Princess Diaries. I tried to watch The Lincoln Lawyer, but I didn't much like it so gave up after about 20 minutes). While in Indy, I ate (far too much) good food, and spent a lot of time sitting rather than being active, but am not that much worse for wear, even though I may not have slept as much as I should (since when does one ever sleep enough at a conference?).

I have become reinvigorated about my role as CKI administrator and hope to continue to work in this area for the coming weeks and years until I can really get the district into the shape that I want it to be. Of course this process takes a lot of work, so I won't be doing it alone, clearly. Working together is a key part of Kiwanis involvement and I really do feel passionate about this 97 year old organization of which I am a part.

Now I had best go back to organizing, catching up and yes doing research assistantship work.

Still having a hard time getting motivated, but…

… life goes on. I've managed to rewatch all of Firefly, the movie Serenity, and of course other things besides. I hosted people for board games last night which meant that I *gasp* vacuumed, swept, cleaned, did dishes, took out the trash, and cooked up a delicious lasagna (vegetarian recipe my mom sent me via email — thanks Mom!). I think I'm going to have people over to play board games much more regularly in the coming weeks/months. Partially as it forces me to be more social (and I really truly need it), but also because that way I don't feel so board game deprived, and also have an excuse to cook for other people (cooking for one isn't all that fun, to be honest). There were no lasagna leftovers, so my cooking was certainly a success! I do have some chips and other goodies of course left for future gatherings, and know that the empty-ish room in my apt works well for Pictionary, so that's always good!

Of course entertaining people at home means that I actually take the time to do some of the more routine deeper cleaning tasks that I occasionally neglect, so that's always good too.

But yes, I am having a really hard time getting motivated. I've evidently quite a few tasks I should be working on and very little interest in any of them, to be honest. I feel much more emotional these days, which is pretty awesome at times but more often than not is because I feel lonely or somewhat direction-less which isn't entirely accurate, but is how I somehow feel. Frustrating more than anything.

I hope that this coming week's trip to Indianapolis for Kiwanis will help perk up my spirits/my motivation, and that eventually I feel more motivated to do more, whether it be exercise, see friends, leave the house, or perhaps most importantly work on my research!

In other news it's rather cold in here. Last night the apartment felt too warm, and today it feels chilly. Not horribly cold but cold enough that I'm wearing a sweater zipped up and slippers. I guess winter really has returned, eh?

The joys of having more free time… and the loneliness of living alone…

Last night it struck me that for the first time in what seemed like ages I felt lonely, truly lonely. It made sense of course, as it had been a week since I began living alone again, and it is a pretty significant adjustment. As I long ago realized, I do much better if I do at least ONE thing outside of the house a day and/or do at least one thing involving other people. Sure I do enjoy hermiting myself on occasion, but having that outlet of at least someone to talk to and/or do something with is something I'll miss, living alone again, regardless of whom it was whom I was previously living with.

That said, I've been having a pretty decent time with the spare time that I have had at my disposal (I'm in between tasks on some of my research projects and whatnot). Firstly, I've been watching a fair bit of media: season 3 of Castle, a whole bunch of the free iTunes TV shows they were providing for the holidays (some were terrible, a few I might actually check out and watch more of at some point), That 70s Show (I never did finish watching the DVDs I got a while back) etc. I've been reading (a few magazines, short stories, and now my AWESOME Absolute Sandman Vol 1!), exercising (mostly Wii games at the moment…), cleaning (what with JD moving out, it is pretty ideal to be cleaning at least a bit), and gaming (mostly iPod Touch games, but last night I started playing Guitar Hero Aerosmith, which it turns out I actually really enjoy!).

So I guess I'm having a vacation of sorts post-vacation. And the me-time is well deserved. I do have to be careful — my wrists are trying to start acting up again. And I still have to be productive — my research work isn't going to disappear any time soon, but I guess I needed this.

Looking back at 2011 and forward to 2012…

I guess the new year behooves me to make a post of some sort regarding what I've learned in the past year and what I guess I can foretell for the coming year. I don't always do this, certainly, but it's a decent idea.

2011 in retrospective
– I lived with a current significant other for the very first time. I like to think I learned a lot about myself and about relationships in general because of this. It meant a different type of time management because there was more than just myself to pay attention to when scheduling and much more.
– I had my longest romantic relationship (which ended in 2011 on good terms). It was really great for my personal development. I know that I learned a lot about my particular quirks (both good and bad) and look forward to a time when I do have a relationship with someone whose long term goals mesh more closely with my own. That said, I don't have regrets. I'm happy, and I've gained another person in my life who knows me very well. That plus, a realization that my resistance to change can be surmounted, as he challenged me (and continues to challenge me) to consider other options.
– I finished all the course work for my Masters degrees. This to me is a huge accomplishment, as it will likely mean that I will finish them completely in 2012 (likely convocating in November, hopefully finishing my thesis in the summer).
– I traveled considerably: Indianapolis, Jamaica, Victoria, Red Deer, Switzerland, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, etc. I do adore traveling, and actually qualified for Aeroplan status for the first time ever!
– I began working on new research projects both for my thesis and for my research assistantship. This has meant a lot more stress, but also a lot of new skill development.
– I got an iPod Touch (which has meant playing a lot of casual games) and an Android phone (which has meant much less resistance to capacitive touch screen technology).
– I've also been shopping to regular retail stores a lot less, and to online stores much more frequently.
– I joined Reddit (and RedditGifts with the great Secret Santa)
– I started making a good deal of free purchases from Quirky.com (free because of the influence I have made on their products).
– I became involved with conference presentation review.

2012 plans
– I hope to finish these degrees, getting the thesis done this summer and convocating in the fall.
– I want to host more frequent board game nights — I want to work on my social life, and be a better friend than I have been.
– I plan on continuing to exercise regularly. Fitocracy is a great tool for this and I hope that playing my Wii games, doing social things with friends, and biking more all help to add up to increased physical fitness. It is all too easy to be a couch potato when a Grad student. I also want to use my yoga passes and attend yoga more frequently… if my wrists allow I'd also consider getting back into dancing/pole dancing or taking up another sport/activity entirely.
– I want to become employed in a job that I truly feel passionate about/enjoy following the completion of these degrees, hopefully in 2012.
– I want to cook more frequently at home, and waste less food. I adore food and hope to go to the farmer's market more often, buy from T&T for specialty items, and generally be more adept in the kitchen. This likely means treating friends to more food at home.
– That said I also want to travel, eat good food at restaurants, and have new experiences.
– I want to make a dent in my 'to read' bookshelf in the sense that I want to read more.
– I also want to make a dent in my 'to watch' movie list among other things.
– I want to stay on top of email, and to make sure to clean or organize at least one thing every day.
– There are a lot of hopes and dreams I have for my future… and these are but a few of my goals/hopes for the coming year. Above all else, of course I want to have a sense of balance in my life — this is always something I strive for, but don't always obtain.