Category: Basic Training

Basic Training, My Song (updates)

Basic Training, My Song (updates)

Basic Training Update

My four weeks of Basic Training are just about to wind up. In case you are very good at math or paying close attention, YES, it has been more than four weeks since I started. The beautiful thing about Basic Training, and this particular spreadsheet, is that it is fully adaptable. If you have sick children for a week, if you are sick, if you just forget, if it becomes overwhelming, if you decide to rebel for a day, YOU CAN JUST START AGAIN WHEREVER YOU ARE (as you can see in the photo of my spreadsheet, I stopped and started more than once).

If you get started and decide, hey, I don’t think dancing every day is a key to my wellbeing – or it is not the most important key to be focusing on at this point – YOU CAN CROSS IT OFF! Just cross it off. Leave the list on the fridge, with a big line through dance every day and that’s that. Dance if you feel like it.

If you get started and after one week you have a much better understanding of what activities might really work best, and they are different from the ones on your chart, YOU CAN START AGAIN!

(Caps are meant to indicate enthusiasm, no one is shouting here.)

For me, the most important lessons from my “four weeks” of Basic Training are that:

1) I can meditate!! That “monkey mind” that won’t be quiet when I try to meditate?? Noticing the incessant chatter of my brain is the whole reason TO meditate! If you try and your mind just won’t stop THINKING, congratulations! You are alive! Just keep practicing ; )

2) Setting aside 10 minutes each day to play an instrument is, essentially, another form of meditation and incredibly soothing to my body, mind, and soul. It feels like getting a brain massage every night after the kids go to sleep. And it usually turns into more than 10 minutes.

3) Turning my attention away from electronic devices by 9 pm each night has been difficult to stick to, but I notice that my life feels much, much better if I adhere to this practice. Not sure what to do after 9? [Insert joke about sex here]. I use my time after nine to read, play music, fill notebooks, have conversation with my husband (remember conversation?), organize stuff, or, if all of those just feel like too much effort, I just go to sleep. I use my phone for guided meditations, so I have started a meditation on my phone after 9 pm and still given myself credit (because I make my own rules!).

4) I am still struggling with wake times but am hoping to make a big push in this area when the clocks change. I am also hoping that the next phase of the program will help with waking. And I notice that screens off after 9 makes a big difference with the ease of waking also.

After completing Basic Training, our next stage is going to be focused on energy. Just so you have some concept of what I have in mind for The Jenny Goodguts Super-ish Hero Training Program the components will be some versions of:

Basic Training

Module 1: Bad Guys 101 – Loop-o

Module 2: Allies/Good Guys

Module 3: Lair/Hideout

Module 4: Secret Weapons

Module 5: Super Powers

In Module 1 we will slightly modify the spreadsheet, but we will keep paying daily attention to most of the Basic Training activities and add some new tasks to specifically look at energy drains and try to plug some energy leaks.

If you haven’t yet started Basic Training, the spreadsheet and explanation are available here.

Module 1 should be ready to launch next week (I hope!). If you have finished Basic Training, print your spreadsheet again and keep going on your Basic Training activities until Module 1 is ready.

My Song

I wanted to give you an update on what’s up with the song I wrote last week.

I know what I am about to report is small beans in the world of the Internet and Facebook. But it is big beans for me. So, as of this morning, my song has at least been ‘seen’ by 489 unique visitors – that’s definitely the most of any song I’ve ever written. I’ve had 2,796 page views this month, which is not my ‘biggest’ month, but it is a pretty big turn out for me. It is a bit dangerous to look at statistics like these because they have the tendency to make you want to make the numbers bigger. I don’t know if wanting bigger numbers is nature or nurture, but it definitely feels exciting to see numbers getting bigger (unless you are looking at a scale or the price of home renovations, for example).

So it seems like I’ve written a song that not only I like but some other people do too. I’m thinking about a way to record it so that I (and anyone else who wants to) can have the song as a music file instead of having to listen from the website each time. Will let you know when I figure it out. I have some other songs I’ve been working on. They are not all in the same vein as this song. I will share some of them. They are almost ready.


Basic Training: week 1 update

Basic Training week one progress

One week into Basic Training and here is my report:

Waking up at 6:30 is (I think) helping me fall asleep more easily and makes the morning much smoother. The problem is, if I stay in bed until 7 the kids do too but if I wake up, they generally also wake up (we are in close, squeaky quarters). So getting up early isn’t buying me extra child-free time to, say, meditate. And they are exhausted so I’d prefer they get the extra sleep as we transition back to school.  I think the solution is push my wake up time earlier (6:00, which is the eventual goal) but I’m not quite ready to rip that band-aid off just yet, we build to that. I feel good about the progress made so far, even though I have missed 6:30 for the past three days in a row (but only by 15 minutes).

Meditation. I’ve discovered that, as a beginner, I need the house to be empty to meditate. If I wait until after the kids are asleep, my other half will be running water, tapping at a keyboard, breathing, and I just can’t still my mind in the face of this. It is great practice, but we build to that. I’m enjoying Headspace (I am still in the free trial) but I remember doing one Deepak Chopra guided meditation over the summer where you have a mantra that you keep repeating in your mind and I actually felt a change in my body, like a different frequency, during that meditation. So I will continue with Headspace (very good for learning HOW to practice meditation) and then I will experiment with some reader suggestions (Calm and Insight Timer) and also look for some more mantras to chant. If you start with Headspace, you can almost not fail. You can begin with 3 minutes a day and it does not feel hard. If you have struggled to meditate in the past, I highly recommend giving Headspace a try.

Writing. Crossed this off the list. The first time I sat down to write as a 10-minute task I think I might have cried. I wasn’t sure what the point was, or how writing for 10 minutes was supposed to connect me to my soul — was I soul searching or ?? So I want to develop a more structured writing practice, but it is no longer one of my Basic Training tasks. And that’s the great thing about Basic Training — Fully adaptable to YOU and to what is working and what isn’t. Loving it. I still track days that I write, just out of interest.

Smoothie. Every morning. One of the most fundamental changes (practice-wise) that I have made in my life over the past two years and I honestly believe starting the day with a green smoothie has set the foundation for many other positive changes. Worth trying if you haven’t yet! I will post a recipe, but right now I just throw things in in approximate quantities.

Fermented foods. My doctor prescribed fermented foods to me when it was found that I have a depauperate gut flora. She said two tablespoons twice a day. I have found this simple to implement and a good way of getting an extra serving of veggies (sauerkraut). Do I occasionally recoil at the thought of my daily kraut, maybe. But gut bugs are good for your skin, good for your brain, good for your digestion, good for your mood. So I measure out my tablespoons and do my best to chew slowly and mindfully. Yum.

Outside time. I don’t know what to say about this one. Or there is so much to say that it can’t fit in a tiny update paragraph. Outside is my church and where I can feel closest to God (or the Universe), where I feel especially connected to something bigger than me. My body was made to spend most of its time outside, smelling the smells in a forest, feeling sunshine and wind. I have felt most alive in my life during the periods of time when I have lived exclusively outside, bug bites, camp food, dirty clothes, hand-washed underpants, and all. But my 10-minute task, while making sure I at least expose my body to the elements for a brief span each day, doesn’t quite help me connect to those feelings. Sometimes 10 minutes turns into an hour, and once this week I took a walk on a boardwalk through a wetland and saw two tortoises locked in conjugal embrace (“Mom, are they fighting? or hugging?”). I smelled the smell and felt that life is good and beautiful. So I’m keeping up the practice, but needing to refine it in some way.

Dancing turns out to be my toughest challenge (well, movement in general as I have yet to attend an exercise class). Here’s what I’ve found with the three days I actually danced during the week: the first couple of times were fun, I listened to the music and kept the children from climbing on me like a jungle gym. The third time, my body remembered how much pleasure it can be to move. I guess what I’m saying is that the first two times my mind had a nice time and by the third time my body remembered what it felt like to be awake.  I missed my friend Sarah. I thought of all the dancing we did. I thought about planning a Dance-a-thon.

Playing an instrument. I remember more each day and it gets easier and more fun. This is pure joy for me and 10 minutes is achievable.

Screens off at 9 has been a positive change. I definitely think it has helped me sleep better because the one night I stayed on until around 10 I had a much worse night of sleep — i just didn’t wake up feeling refreshed. Yes, there could have been other factors. But for me less screen = more happier.

Exercise class. I just need to sign up for a class and put it in my calendar! I have struggled with this for my entire adult life. I love yoga and would love to take a dance class too. I think it is making the commitment to a particular time that feels so daunting. What if something? So I need to just do it. Like right now. This minute.

Ok, I did it. It took about 15 minutes because I had to read the class descriptions and decide whether to pay for a walk-in class or commit to the intro pack of four classes for  $10 each (I committed). I’m doing gentle yoga rather than hot yoga or anything called bootcamp. I’ll try that out and then schedule the next. I did see they are having a yoga nidra workshop early next month so I will think about signing up for that because I’m interested.

So that’s my update. Overall I love my checklist and feel that it is a very positive presence in each day. It is just a tiny extra nudge from a good friend to do things that nurture me and build some healthy practices into each day.

If you’ve decided to try Basic Training, I’d love to hear how it is working for you in the comments!

Smoothie recipes and an update on alternative energy for your home coming soon. Also, of course, the constantly mentioned “Do More Good” Jenny Goodguts principle explained. Happy Friday!

Basic Training — Or, a spreadsheet to change your life

Hello my friends!

After an unplanned and too long hiatus, I am dipping my toe back into the waters of oversharing and underdelivering to provide you with an outline of the long promised, never before explained Jenny Goodguts Basic Training Program (take 1).

I still have not explained my experiments in Doing More Good (rather than doing less bad) but, As God is my Witness, that is coming soon. I want to go ahead and share Basic Training (take 1) because using this kind of spreadsheet has changed my life. My life then reverted back to how it was before, somewhat, but I’m trusting that reinstituting the spreadsheet will once again change my life.

And don’t take it from me, I have one reverberating testimonial:

Thanks for telling me about your spreadsheet. I made one too. It was really helpful” (paraphrase)
— Angie

The mechanics of the spreadsheet:

It is a printed piece of paper. There are a number of small daily actions listed. They are slotted into a timezone (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc). The sheet is taped to the wall in my kitchen. At the assigned time of day, I look at the sheet and try to make sure all relevant tasks are complete.

Originally, this spreadsheet was mostly used to help me remember to take certain supplements, breathe before eating, consume cultured foods (more on this later) so it was a perfect system for those tasks. I (almost) didn’t miss checking a box for 8 weeks, and that is REALLY saying something for me.

The tasks in Basic Training don’t fit as easily into the original time slots, and are not quite as simple to complete, so I am experimenting with a new spreadsheet and will modify (Jenny Goodguts Basic Training Program, take 2) once I see how these different types of activities work within this system. Instead of waiting until it is perfect, I’m sharing as I go.

What does Basic Training include?

Basic Training lasts 4 weeks.

It focuses on preparing the individual to be stronger, healthier, and more resilient so that we can get to the superhero stuff down the road.

It follows the Jenny Goodguts principle: Do More Good. In a nutshell that means it does not focus on things you should not do or on what you might be doing that is ‘bad’ for you. It focuses on adding more good things to your life, on ways to spend time and energy that will support your vision of what you want to be instead of focusing on what you don’t want to be.

Basic Training is something that can be completely modified for any individual. I’m sharing the actions that are part of my own spreadsheet as an example but feel free to adjust in any way you like! I will provide more guidance on how Basic Training can be modified in the future, but I’m in desperate need of it myself, as well as of some accountability, which public blogging provides, so I’m rolling it out barebones to start with.

Basic Training includes five aspects:

1) Nutrition/Energy
2) Movement/Strength
3) Clarity
4) Spirit/Soul
5) Rest/Restoration

For my purposes,
Spirit = What is bigger than me?
Soul = What am I?

EAT MORE SUNSHINE: Drink a green smoothie every day (my basic recipe forthcoming but you can check out Simple Green Smoothies for good ideas).
GOOD GUTS: Eat 2 Tablespoons of cultured food, 2 times a day (kefir, sauerkraut, Kombucha are my current sources, sometimes pickles but you have to read labels).
MOVE: Dance to 3 songs every day.
MOVE: Attend 1 exercise class every week.
CLARITY: Meditate for 10 minutes each day. I’m going to try Headspace but am actively seeking recommendations!
SPIRIT: Spend 10 minutes outside every day.
SOUL: Play a musical instrument for 10 minutes every day.
SOUL: Write for 10 minutes every day.
REST: Out of bed by 6:30 am every weekday.
RESTORE: Enjoy screen-free activities after 9 PM. 
I will print my checklist today and start tomorrow. My rules are that I can get the tasks done at any time during the day, the timezones are just useful guidelines of when something might fit. I predict that rest/restore will be the most consistently challenging element, but making time to play music will be a close second.
In the comments on the blog, I would love to know if you have any favorite songs to dance to (with a happy vibe). I pulled out my old 45s over the weekend and danced to Vienna Calling by Falco. You probably have no idea what I am talking about, but it was pretty amazing to be transported back to 1985. I could almost remember feeling 10 years old again. I’m also looking for suggestions about guided meditations. If you have any that you love, please share!


Basic Training Spreadsheet Is Here!