7 Day Challenge: After Day 1

Greetings, dear awesome-people-who-are-helping-to-keep-us-accountable!

It is just past 10pm, and I’ve just finished about an hour doing Quality Assurance testing on my product. I’ve done this dozens of times and have learned an important lesson:

Saving things in multiple places adds to the potential for error and repeated work.

This may seem like a very obvious thing. Here’s a glimpse into my world:

  1. I began this project on a 6 year old laptop. (6 years old, and dying of old age…) On this computer I had two programs I was using: Excel and Garage Band.
  2. I now have a beautiful new Mac Book “LightAsAFeather” that boots up like a dream, buuuuuut…does not have Excel, and all the “helpful updates” made to Garage Band makes me want to throw this elegant computer in front of traffic.
  3. What this means is that I am:
    1. Updating files in Excel on my Old Mac, saving them as PDFs and copying them to Dropbox, where I can pick them up on my New Mac
    2. Updating audio files in Garage Band on my OM, “sharing” them to iTunes (a necessary and tedious step), and copying them to Dropbox, where I can pick them up on my NM.
  4. Effectively, what is happening is the “same file” is saved three times, in three separate places…you see where I’m going with this.

Part of the reason this has taken so long is that I’ve found mistakes, fixed them on my OM, moved them to Dropbox, and transferred them to the NM, but often imperfectly. I’m still fixing mistakes I swear I’ve fixed once, twice, even three times.

Version control is a beautiful thing. Right now, I don’t got it.

Anyway, here is our updated “to do” list! We did some good work today, and yet I believe we are ticking absolutely nothing off. Sometimes, that’s how things go. You work all day and feel like you have nothing to show for it. Sometimes, you fix the same stupid mistakes hundreds of times. Sometimes, you’re not perfect.

Perfect is boring.

Wouldn’t that be terrible if we issued a 7 Day Challenge, invited you all to share in the experience, and then with “perfect execution” ticked everything off the first day!? Boring!

So here’s what we did do instead. Because we are interesting, and stuff.

Tasks in progress:

  1. Install Easy Digital Downloads to replace WooCommerce
  2. Product / audio file album art – [I approved the AMAZING work Matthew did updating the album art. All that’s left to do is “attach it” to the final audio files.
  3. Stripe gateway
  4. Final Audio File QA – [lots of work poured in, some of it, done before.]
  5. LMTW Logo – (I’ve learned a few basics with photoshop and have constructed a few designs I like. Now for the choosing…)

Here are the todos we have yet to start:

  1. Settings for upper body product
  2. Settings for lower body product
  3. Settings for full package product
  4. Finish changed noted in InVision
  5. Fix fatal Error in LMT World child theme after upgrading Make parent theme
  6. Mailchimp subscription box
  7. Thorough review of SEO settings
  8. Favicon
  9. Finalize global nav menu
  10. Update Catherine’s bio

I would also like it noted that I went to the gym tonight and lifted heavy, heavy things for an hour. That was a “to do” that didn’t make it onto this list, but it bears mentioning. Because I’m awesome. I’m going to hurt like crazy and limp around like an old lady tomorrow.

Matthew would also like it noted that he put over an hour into writing for this site today — an ongoing goal he’s not always hit — and put in a longer shift at work than average.

Hey! What are you guys working on!? How can we support you in your goals??

We’ll leave you with this find from the Internet Archive: How to Set Meaningful Goals and Reach Them, from the One Minute Howto podcast.

My New Superpower!

For many years, my personal claim to superhero fame has been that I give off a ridiculous amount of body heat. Especially while sleeping. If you ever find yourself trapped on a mountain, or snow camping (voluntarily?), you’ll want me there as your own personal biological space heater. (Those of you who know me know that I’d have to be under duress or seriously bribed to be found sleeping outside in the snow.)

Like Rogue of the X-Men, my superpower is a double edged sword. As much heat as I give away, I keep none for myself. I am the champion of freezing my butt off while I keep my partner snuggly and warm.

But here in Denver, I have a new superpower! One that not only benefits my little family around me, but is actually useful to me as well!

The best part? This superpower is one that you can activate! But more on that later…

So what is this superpower, you ask? I can find anything in my apartment. The source of this power is simple: I packed my life into my Camry, to move my boyfriend, two cats and myself to Denver. Hard questions had to be asked: what do we need and what can we fit?

Somehow, we managed to pack everything we truly required, and still found room for some camping supplies and my electric guitar, both of which I was sure fell into the “there’s no room for that” category.

All this boils down to the fact that we did not bring all that much with us! And there is a direct correlation between how much schtuff you have and how easy it is to lose things.

And because I was pretty much the sole human responsible for making these decisions and packing the car (I mean, the cats helped a little), the reality is, if I don’t remember packing it, it didn’t get packed.

These days, if a question starts with, “Do you know where…” I can answer, “Yup! It’s right there!” It is enormously satisfying.

If you feel inspired to get rid of some of your “unnecessaries,” here are five things that might fuel your declutter fire.

Activate your Simplicity Superpower!

  1. Get rid of 5 things every day for 3 months! Big or small, innocent or insidious, let it go. This should be easy for the first couple weeks and get gradually harder. But seriously, let go.
  2. “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” This is true. I have found my very favorite sweater, my very favorite blouse and the only pare of jeans I have ever loved at a Goodwill. Thank you, whomever these items didn’t work for!
  3. Stuff that got tossed

    “Argh! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!” Firefly

  4. Take a picture of it. Are you surrounded by precious, memory infused items that you cannot part with, but inevitably collect dust or are always in the way? Photograph it and save it digitally. It is the memory that is important to us, not the item itself.
  5. Be honest. Do you really think you’ll fit into that dress you rocked in high school? You don’t weigh 113 any more. It’s ok. Forgive yourself. And give it to a high schooler.
  6. Enlist an ally. This is huge. Other people do not care about your crap. Not even a little bit. Invite your most honest (and loving) friend over, put a glass of wine in her hand, and hold things up to her while she says, “keep” or “toss.” You’ll make some fast progress.

Spring cleaning season has passed, but autumn is the time for stripping away the things you don’t want to hibernate with this winter! (Physically and metaphorically!) This fall, get rid of the things that are no longer serving you.

Spend this winter feeling clean, and knowing where all of your stuff is!

 

How I almost ruined Dave Matthews at the Gorge

Except not really…

This is a story of what happens to your brain on Stress. Now that a few weeks have passed, I can write this with a little more forgiveness that I would have thought possible that day. Here’s what happened.

2 weeks ago

I am packing up my Portland life, getting ready to move to Denver. I haven’t moved out of state since I was 4 and my folks shlepped me and my brother up from California to Oregon. (And here’s my shoutout to my amazing mother who was about 8.5 months pregnant with my other brother. I cannot imagine going through the last two weeks and being about to pop at the same time. Shiver…)

With our move out date looming before us, it gets revealed that I will be, more or less, packing up our apartment and this life on my own. Matthew has a client who’s renovated website is going live the day that we leave. So he’s in the middle of a mad scramble to wrap this project up.

Oh, and in the midst of this, we are attending a wedding, I’m quitting my job, Matthew’s brother is coming into town… And oh shoot, I still need to buy our tickets to see Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge.

Saturday

I am packing. I have corners of rooms and closets sorted by “Denver,” “My Dad’s,” “My Mom’s,” “Matthew’s Folks,” “Not-Needed-For-9-Months,” “Stuff-We-Still-Need-Here,” and “Camping-at-the-Gorge.” We are leaving for the Gorge early tomorrow morning (Sunday), and moving out of our apartment Wednesday at dawn.

Matthew: “Don’t forget to find and pack the tickets!”

Me: “No worries! I put them in a very safe place right…over…here….???”

What followed was a panicked hour where I went through all of our camping supplies (I could have sworn I put them on top of our sleeping bag!), all of our piles of recycling (what if they have already been put in the recycling bins!?), called Ticket Master to see what could be done about lost tickets (closed until tomorrow morning) and finally me sitting down on the stairs, my head in my hands, past the point of tears and thinking… “my wallet seems like a logical place I would put the tickets, to keep them safe.”

Low and behold, there they were. Sighs of relief ensue.

Sunday

We are packed up and out the door at 8:30am, driving east on I-84 towards Troutdale for some last minute groceries, gas, and a rendezvous with Matthew’s family. I am blissed out, the air is crisp and cool, and somehow we are early. We’re content to wait for the rest of our caravan.

…When I realize I do not have my driver’s license. I have driven us from Portland to Troutdale without my driver’s license.

We quickly decide that we have no choice but to turn around and head home to find it. I’m retracing my steps in my head, wondering if it could have fallen out of my wallet after buying champagne at New Season’s last night. What if I’ve lost it!? We are driving to Colorado in four days! Is that enough time to get a temporary card?

At this point, I’m nauseous and looking a little green around the gills, my whole body dusted with a light, anxious, cold sweat. We pull up at our apartment, Matthew poised to run to New Seasons to see if it had been returned. I frantically unlock the front door…

And there it was, on the ledge right in front of me. Coincidentally, I had set it about where the missing tickets had been found the night before. I’m really starting to come a little loose around the edges.

Tickets, check. Camping gear, check. Fucking photo identification, check.

Four hours, a happy family caravaning (complete with Matthew and his brother Dan radioing each other between vehicles, “Come in, Blaster Mike, this is Whiskey Tango…”) and a soothing hot chocolate later, we pull into the Gorge Amphitheater’s parking lot. We dump out Matthew and Dan with their tickets and blankets who go sprinting to the amphitheater to hold us a good spot on the hill, while the parentals and I pitch our tents.

And we get a phone call from Matthew 20 minutes later, “Catherine, our tickets are for yesterday. Did you maybe accidentally buy them for last night?”

… What?

I did. I had bought the tickets for Saturday night. Last night. I was in shock.

I searched for a receipt in my phone records. I called TicketMaster, all of it amounting to nothing… Nothing… Nothing…

This concert is Matthew’s Graceland, and it seems like I have done everything to keep him from it.

New tickets from the venue would cost $55 a piece.

I went to meet Matthew to lead him back to camp (to top everything off, he was experiencing major hay-fever and  was sneezing about every 20 seconds, poor boy). On my way down, I ran into a gall who was selling a single ticket for 20 bucks but she had sold it before I could get Matthew (and the cash) to her. But it seemed like there might be hope of an alternative to buying the tickets from the venue.

I made it back to camp with Hay-Fever Man and we pitched our tent while Matthew’s amazing folks comforted me and made me a gin & tonic in a plastic cup. That helped.

But I still felt like I had let everyone down. I had simply taken on too much for my squishy little brain, and things had clearly started to leak. What I really wanted to do was to sit down in the middle of the field and throw an exhausted, mortified, cleansing temper tantrum. Being a big girl is hard.

This is what stress does to our brains

Cortisol is a stress hormone that impairs the hippocampus from building and recalling memories. Normally, the secretion of cortisol (released by the adrenal cortex) is monitored by a negative feedback loop.

What this means (in very simplified terms):

  • The adrenals receive the message that cortisol is needed
  • The adrenals secrete cortisol
  • The adrenals receive the message that no more cortisol is needed, and it stops. This way, we do not explode into cortisol-y goo.

Unfortunately, chronic stress erodes this process, slowing down or confusing the negative feedback loop, so that long after you’ve stopped running from the lion (or packing a house by yourself), your body is still pumping out cortisol. Not good.

Building new memories is not the most useful thing when you are running from a lion. Fast reflexes, a racing heart and quadriceps filled with blood and oxygen are what you want when you’re running from a lion. Thank you, cortisol.

Right now, I could use a little less cortisol, and a little more oxytocin, the snuggle hormone. (I could use a serious snuggle.) My swiss cheese brain could handle no more. I needed a hard reset.

A happy ending

Tents were set up and staked to the ground. G & Ts were stowed into plastic water bottles that looked factory sealed so we could sneak them into the show. And, we found a very lovely gentleman who sold Matthew and I tickets for $30 each.

In the end, it’s only money.

Yes, I was pissed that I had to buy the tickets twice, but none of our tents blew away, no one cracked a skull or broke a knee getting to our spot on the hill, and guess what, the concert was amazing.

We mess up in life so that we learn. Here were my lessons:

  • I should not try to move around the holidays
  • Triple checking concert ticket dates is never a bad use of time
  • Carrying $40 in cash can really help in a pinch

But, the biggest lesson: having loving, forgiving friends and family around in tough moments is not giving an audience access to your shame. These are the people who pull us out of our self-destructive pits, when they see we’re slipping. They show up with cash to get you into concerts. They show up with moving trucks and bungee cords to get you moved. They show up with cleaning supplies and get down on their knees to help you clean your apartments.

Take note of who is showing up in your life. Some day, they’ll be in a pinch. And you’ll have an opportunity to show up with cash and bungee cords and cleaning supplies and calming words (and gin & tonics), and return the favor.

IMG_1514

Travel Diary: Portland to Denver, Day 2

Itinerary

Yesterday: Portland to Denver, Day 1
Left:
From our Hotel at 9:00am, and drove around downtown Salt Lake City until we got a glimpse of the LDS temple. We decided that we are more impressed by the majesty of the Lake Oswego temple, but it was pretty.

Stopped: At a Starbucks at about 9:50am
Stopped: At In & Out for breakfast at 10:30am
Arrived: Our new home in Denver, 7:30pm

Expenses

$3 at Starbucks
$54 on fuel (1 stop)
$68 on food (2 meals including a celebratory dinner, with drinks)
$125 total

Notes

It’s 9:50 and we are killing time in Provo. With two less-than-happy-cats in the car and 8 hours of driving ahead of us, you may ask, “Why on earth are you stalling in Provo??” I’ll tell you why…

Matthew has a bit of an In-N-Out Burger addiction.

When we spotted an In-N-Out from the freeway last night, Matthew almost had a conniption fit, and I thought he might try to drive across the freeway median to get there, but we still had a ways to go to get to our hotel and I wanted to get settled before getting dinner. But how about In-N-Out for breakfast? Which turned out to be the best alternative to the Gluten Fest 2014 that was the “hot complementary breakfast” at our hotel. (A feast of pastry, bagel, waffles, biscuits and gravy and cold cereal. There wasn’t even fruit or yogurt. There was literally nothing Matthew could eat.)

But not to worry! Because we had In-N-Out in our pocket! Except it doesn’t open until 10:30…

Option 1: Drive on to Denver, getting breakfast somewhere else, forsaking our last opportunity for In-N-Out until the return drive.

Option 2: Kill 50 minutes in Provo until Matthew’s crack shack opens.

Matthew pointed those big, begging, blue eyes at me, and Option 1 disappeared. I never regret eating In-N-Out. It is simply the best fast food, ever.

***

12 hours later, we have arrived in Denver and are fed, watered and settling in with our cats who seem not to trust that we are actually staying here. (This being their 4th home in as many days, I can’t say I blame them.) Our drive into Denver was stunning.

IMG_7540

The gloriously ironic thing: one big reason Matthew and I picked Denver was for the sunshine. And our first approach into the city was grey, overcast and drizzling.

Go figure.