Alright, so... I missed my Sunday Reboot again.
I could lie, and say that I just forgot to push publish, but that's hardly the best way to start the year, so I'm going to be honest and admit that I thought I would have more time to finish and publish it after putting our kids to bed; except that the adorable little gremlins remembered it was New Years Eve and somehow made it to 11pm—a whole 3 hours later than I expected.
So this week's Sunday Reboot is now a Monday Reboot, but there's no work today and it's my blog anyway, so I don't care.
With that all out of the way, I want to say Happy New Year!
Holy shit it's 2024, and thank the gods because 2023 was an exceptionally long year.
In the last 14 months (because grief has a way of blending the last few months of a year with the first few of the next), I've lost my last two grandparents and an aunt, dealt with COVID (again) and RSV (I think), managed through two mass layoffs at work, and a budget-murdering return-to-office policy, and a resurgence of my childhood anxiety attacks.
On the plus side, my family is mostly happy and healthy—albeit a little rundown from a year of too much travel (and thus too much travel debt), accidents and spills (because, kids), too many extracurriculars, and a personal realization that my anxiety is clearly genetic.
But there was also two weddings, and Disneyland, and a week at the beach, and the 4th of July in a beautiful mountain cabin, and family holidays, and a new niece, and a whole lot of beauty that did its best to offset the rest of the struggle.
I hope 2024 brings a little more good than bad, but even if not I can say that I've learned a hell of a lot this past year, and am hopeful that it will all help me weather what comes next just a little bit better.
I've started to pick my daily writing habit back up again—something I am feeling a lot of self-pride about—and to help try and cement it, I started listening to an old Andy McKee Pandora radio station that I used to study to back in college.
It checks a few of the boxes I've always needed music to check when I write, namely that there are no lyrics (hard to write when someone is chattering in your ear) and that the music is calming. Upbeat music with a strong bassline is perfect to code to—Disco is surprisingly effective for getting me into a flow state—but writing needs something more mellow.
Andy McKee (and fingerstyle guitar players like him) hit that mood perfectly.
Both of my kids got Nintendo Switch Lites for Christmas, so I've been finding myself gaming a bit again. Not a ton, since the older I've gotten, the less time I have to actually focus on anything resembling a video game, but a bit here and there.
I've gotten my own Switch out, and have been enjoying the Nintendo 64 games on the Nintendo Switch Online service, specifically Goldeneye 007. Most mid-to-late-30-somethings like myself will argue that Goldeneye is the best first-person shooter ever created—because it is—and the game is still as fun and as challenging as ever.
I've also been playing a few modern games, namely Pokemon Legends Arceus, an open world Pokemon game that should have come out so much longer ago than it did. I love open world games, and Arceus has not disappointed.
My ham radio license exam is in less than a week now, and I feel super behind in my studying, so this week is devoted to getting caught up and prepared.
I've got my materials ready, notes written, and I'm halfway through the book, but I'd like to get through it a few more times and am going to start taking daily practice exams so I can really test my knowledge.
The one advantage I—and many others—have in this test is that all of the potential questions are published, which means the practice tests are effectively the same as the real test, just different subsets and orders.
I can do that.
No matter what, I'll have an update for the next Reboot letting you all know if I passed—and what my brand new handle is—or if I failed horribly and must retire in shame.
It wouldn't be New Years without New Years Resolutions.
Actually, I tend not to get too serious with my New Years Resolutions—or set them at all—because... I dunno... nonconformity? But this past year I've really taken my foot off the gas health-wise, and I need to find the track, and then get back on it.
Restart Intermittent Fasting
A few years ago, I started intermittent fasting (IF), and it had an almost immediately positive effect on my gut health. As someone who has suffered from the annoyingly vague diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome for over a decade, the only thing that has worked well for me has been a restrictive diet that I often just ignore and "live" with crippling digestive pain for a few days.
But IF was a literal lifesaver. I was able to be more outgoing without the constant anxiety of getting sick by just skipping breakfast, eating dinner well before bedtime, and laying off the snacks.
Unfortunately, after the stress of this year, I've all but dropped my fasting habit, and have struggled to get started again. I haven't felt particularly good in months, and that has to change, so 2024 is kicking off right with a renewed fasting habit.
Simplify Liquid Diet
Another change I made a while back that helped both my gut and overall health was a simplification in my liquid diet. I have a serious coffee problem, and have also had a pretty serious on-again-off-again relationship with soda.
While I gave up alcohol four years ago, I've renewed both my coffee and soda addictions this year, sometimes consuming what has to amount to near-toxic levels of caffeine, and both my body and brain are worse for the wear.
Overindulgence in these drinks is pretty stereotypical of me as a developer, but I suppose it's also to be expected given the prevalence of these types of beverages in an office environment.
So one thing I am changing immediately is an elimination of my soda habit. While the bubbles themselves don't always play nice with my digestion, all the extra crap in a can of Diet Coke definitely leaves me feeling like garbage, and I just don't need that in my life anymore.
As for my coffee habit, I'm not sure I'm ready to give that one up entirely just yet, but what I am going to be doing right away is timeboxing my intake; meaning that, from now on, I can only drink coffee before 10am. Once 10am hits, I have to switch to tea if I want a hot beverage.
I'm running this more as an experiment than anything, because I don't know if it'll help a lot or a little, but it's a place to start. Depending on how the next few weeks go, I may eliminate the habit altogether, or tighten the timebox even more.
Prioritize Mental Health
I've written recently about my struggles with anxiety this year. While my "no gray days" policy has been a helpful way to frame even my "worst" days, it's not a panacea. Shit still happens, and tough days can still be tough to weather.
While I still haven't decided if therapy is for me—I've given it an honest try, and found the experience to be no better than a verbalized journalizing session—I do know that I need to invest a lot more in my mental health this year.
What exactly does this mean?
Well, for one, rebuilding this writing habit has been super helpful. While I do have a journal, it turns out that I can type about as fast as I think (or at least need to think), which has been helpful for solidifying my thoughts.
I don't publish everything I write—in case you are wondering—but it has also been helpful for generating more things to write, so I want to continue this habit through the year.
I also intend to spend more focused time meditating.
With the stress of work this year, I've taken to doing a 10-minute Loving Kindness meditation before getting out of my car and heading into the building in the morning, but that's only a twice-a-week thing. I'd like to build up a more consistent habit. How and when I do that is still up for debate—there's a reason I take 10 minutes in the privacy of my car before work, and that reason is children—but I need to stop with the excuses and just do it.
I know, everyone wants to exercise more for their New Years Resolution.
Not exactly an original thought, huh? But that's probably because nobody is moving their bodies enough, and my sedentary lifestyle is no exception.
I love swimming. It's just about the only form of exercise that I get into a state of flow doing (and the fact that it is non-impact makes my knees and lower back happy). I went a few times in 2023, but not nearly enough. There are always excuses, but the reality was that I just didn't prioritize it enough.
Well, the rec center down the street has a huge swimming pool with a couple dozen lanes and opens at 5am, which is when I wake up every morning anyway. If I got straight in my car and drove to the gym, I'd get some laps in and be home by the time my kids wake up for school.
The only thing that's stopping me at this point is laziness.
So, a personal, yet pretty small, goal for myself is to build up to a healthy one mile per session. About 64 lengths (give or take, given the meters vs. yards differences a lot of American pools have). Back in high school, we would swim about six miles in two hours.
I'm not 16 anymore, but getting to 1/6th of that distance in 3x the amount of time seems reasonable enough.
Follow-Through on Health Procedures
There's nothing more disappointing than a person who lets work get in the way of their health—in case you missed the memo, that person is me.
This year, I've put off every medical procedure I needed because I couldn't break myself away from the stresses of work, and when I finally could take the time, I escaped into a vacation to stave off the inevitable burnout.
It's been unsustainable, to say the least.
I honestly haven't been to a doctor in two years, despite having a few reasons to go, and even put off renewing my vision prescription for way longer than is appropriate.
So, thanks to some cajoling from my wife who, for some inexplicable reason, wants me to live a long and healthy life, I'm going to get back on top of my medical needs this year. I've got at least a physical, two surgeries, and two specialist consultations to schedule, and would like to get into a regular schedule with my chiropractor—who just announced that she is opening an office in our neighborhood, which takes away the whole "it's so far away" excuse I always lean on.
For a lot of you, this is probably too much information, but if you are approaching 40 and have been putting off doctors' appointments like me: Stop It. Go see the fucking doctor. I promise, if you have a job that will be in jeopardy because you had to get a medically necessary surgery, then you'll probably end up dying at your desk in a few years anyway.
Respect your body, and yourself, and get shit taken care of.
This is post 015 of #100DaysToOffload