The Documented Life Project – Week 2

The Documented Life Project – The Journal

The Documented Life Project encourages you to make a record of your everyday life. There are many ways to do this, I went with the art journal. It’s pretty simple. Art to the 5th provides an art challenge and a prompt every week. You get to interpret the prompt however you like.

Week 2
Art Challenge – Gesso
Prompt – “The beginning is always today.” – Mary Shelley

I missed the first week of the DLP journal project. I might go back and do it later. The art challenge was to use book pages though. I don’t know if I can do that. I think I’d have a really hard time dismantling a book. Maybe I can cheat a bit and use a magazine. Anyway, this post is about week two!

This quote made me think of starting over for some reason. Maybe it’s because I often mess up with my goals and have to start over again. This means there are a lot of beginnings in my life. My favourite starting over quote is from Anne of Green Gables. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” It gives me hope. If I screw up on a goal today, I can begin again tomorrow with a clean slate. I don’t have to wait for the New Year or even a Monday. There’s no reason why I can’t start tomorrow. I depicted the starting over idea with a sunrise.

2015-01-15 16.11.59The background was done with watered down acrylics. The grass and some of the flower petals are made with washi tape. The rest of the flower petals are done with Neocolour II watercolour crayons. The details are done with gel pens and the writing is in an ebony pencil crayon.

Gesso is something I’ve never used before. It’s basically a primer that you put on the page before you paint. It gives the page “tooth” (texture) and prevents the paint from being absorbed by the porous paper. When I started this page, I didn’t have any gesso. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from participating though, so I started my page. I ended up buying white gesso half way through the page, so I used it as the centers for the flowers.

2015-01-15 16.12.13

Progress Report IV

I have to start all over again. With the events of the past week, I have gotten completely off track. It’s been a week since I’ve gone on a run. I’ve been taking time off work for appointments and shock. I also have not been keeping track of what I’ve been eating…plus there was birthday cake. At least I’ve been walking.

I hate starting over again. It’s discouraging. If I don’t want to have to start over in the first place, then I should stop quitting right? I KNOW! Life happens though. You have health problems, your friends need you, there’s birthday cake, and people die. How do you keep going with your plan when all these things come up…never mind when they all happen in the same week?!

So here’s the plan again.

Exercise: Run every other day.

Food: Eat healthy, get the right amount of calories.

Work: Find my mojo.

Psych also gave me homework. What is important to you? This is the question my he wants me to answer. He gave me conditions though. It has to be independent of other people. He says my self-worth is based too much on external things, like my performance at work or other people’s opinions of me. He also told me not to pick the question apart, to just answer it. What immediately comes to mind is does he want me to say what IS important to me, or what I WANT to be important to me? Those are two very different things. For example, what IS important to me is pleasing other people, making them happy. This is dependent on other people though, so I’m not allowed to answer with that. I don’t know what else I would answer with. If the question is what do I WANT to be important to me, that’s easy. I want to my career to be important. I want learning more and being challenged to be important. That’s not the way it is though. I find myself caring less about the things I want to matter every day. Plus, I’m picking apart the question, just like he asked me not to.

What is important to you? How would you answer this question? I need some ideas.

fell and rose again


Motivation Strategies

Yesterday I talked about depression versus laziness. You can read the details here. They are not the same. My theory is that people who are lazy have trouble with self-discipline, they put what they want to do over what they should do. I know people like this and they are perfectly content to do things this way. People with depression on the other hand, know what they should do and put that first, but lack the motivation to do it. For me, this applies to chores as well as the things I enjoy. This theory makes sense to me because depression is a disorder that messes with your ability to feel your emotions. Motivation is driven by emotion and if your emotions don’t work properly, well you see the connection.

eye of the tiger

The Eye of the Tiger

My motivation has hit an all-time low, I’ve lost my “eye of the tiger” so to speak. Having my routine strategy is impossible with my supervisor, so I’m looking into new strategies to get myself to keep going. These are some of the ones I’ve found.

  1. Chart Your progress. If exercise is your goal, you could do a training log. This allows you to look back and see how far you’ve come. You can put a check for every day you worked out and an X for those you didn’t. Making the check mark should make you proud. That will motivate you to keep going. A quick way to visualize progress, I like that idea. I’d need a chart for every goal though…that’s a lot of charts.
  2. Hold Yourself Back. When starting something I tend to go all out, then burn out. I need to pace myself with my goals to maintain motivation and interest over time.
  3. Join a Focus Group. I can see how this would be a good idea. You meet people with similar goals and you report your progress. It’s moral support, but also a way to make yourself accountable. I find it hard to get motivated when the results are just for me. If there is a whole group of people waiting to hear my progress, I’ll be more likely to get in gear.
  4. Visualize. I’m already doing this, I have an empty frame waiting for my Ph.D. diploma. You could put your running shoes by the door to encourage you to go for a walk or put the healthy snacks at the front of the fridge so you’ll be more likely to grab those.
  5. Get a Goal Buddy. I get it, you push and encourage each other. I guess it creates a bit of friendly competition too.
  6. Just Get Started. This is so true. Some days it’s just too hard and I think about how hard it is going to be. Instead of dwelling on it, I should just get started or plan to do 5 minutes. Once I start it never turns out to be as hard as I thought it was going to be.
  7. Think Positive. Negative self-talk is a huge de-motivator! Why bother trying when you know you’re going to fail, right? I really need to be more aware and catch my distorted thoughts.
  8. Keep a Daily Journal. Record the tasks you’ve completed and the ones you still have to do. Seeing how much you are accomplishing can propel you forward.
  9. Make it a Pleasure. If it seems like hard work, make it a treat. Re-frame the goal as something you want to do instead of what you should do. I will cook dinner tonight because I will save money and eat healthier. This will make me feel better tomorrow. That could work.
  10. Be Patient. Learn to be happy with progress. Changes will not happen overnight. I REALLY need to work on this!
  11. Break it Down. Getting overwhelmed kills your motivation. Break a single goal into smaller manageable pieces. It will reduce stress and you’ll be more likely to get started. I need to apply this one to work.
  12. Reward Yourself Often. Make sure to acknowledge each milestone. Having something to look forward to is motivating. This will work for some people, but I’m a bit stumped for myself. I shouldn’t rely on edible treats because I’m trying to lose weight and I can’t spend money because I’m a poor student. What does that leave me with?
  13. Find Inspiration. It can be from anywhere; blogs, stories, forums, friends,family, quotes, music, photos, people you meet or hear about. This I already do. I look for motivational quotes on Pinterest when I feel like I can’t do anything.
  14. Get a Coach/Take a Class. Putting money towards your goal helps you hold yourself accountable. This wont work for me right now, no spending!!
  15. Have Good Reasons. Write down your reasons to remind yourself or do it for someone you love. It’s often easier to get going when you are doing it for someone else. This one will probably work for me.
  16. Envision Success. Daydream about finishing your goal. How will you feel? Who will be proud? How will you celebrate? What will you wear? My imagination hasn’t been great lately, I don’t think this one will work for me.
  17. Beware of Your Urges to Quit. This is good! I’ll make a tally of all the times I want to quit, noting why, when and where. Figuring out my triggers will allow me to anticipate them and figure out a plan to avoid them.
  18. Never Skip More Than 2 Days in a Row. Falling out of a habit means starting all over again, which can be really hard. I can see how this would apply to exercise, but what about work? I am not giving up my long weekends!

I’m going to give some of these a try. If anyone has any more suggestions for my list, I’m all ears!


Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?

snap out of it

Why is everything so difficult to do? Why does everything require so much energy? Am I really depressed or just lazy? I often wonder the answer to these questions. Some people choose to be lazy and live perfectly happy lives. Others are completely mentally healthy but have trouble with will power. You can be lazy without having depression. I think the answer lies in motivation and discipline. Both are required to meet a goal and having difficulty with either one of them results in failure or delayed achievement of said goal. Because both have the same outcome, it’s hard to tell the difference between lazy and depressed from the outside, but there is a difference. After all, depression is a clinical condition, laziness is not. I think if you are lazy, you have trouble with discipline, if you are depressed, you have trouble with motivation.

What is the difference between motivation and discipline? Discipline is the course of action leading to a certain goal. You use reason to determine the best-course of action for the long-term. It’s the assertion of will power over basic desires. Motivation is the inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner. It’s the “why” behind a goal. Motivation is based more on emotion while discipline is based more on reason. Motivation and discipline work together. Motivation sparks interest in a goal initially when that wanes, discipline takes over to achieve the goal.

I have no trouble with discipline. I know what I should do to better myself or to reach my goals. My problem is motivation. Motivation is the fuel you need to be disciplined. I have trouble finding the motivation to do anything, even the things I enjoy, like drawing. I know I should get out of bed in the morning, it’s the right thing to do for me, but there is no motivation behind it. I am disciplined though, so I get up and do the right thing anyway. It’s like this with everything. I force myself to do things because I know it’s what I “should” do. Forcing myself to do every little thing is exhausting not to mention miserable, so sometimes I just can’t push myself. Then I start thinking I’m lazy and I don’t want to be a lazy person, and that starts the negative self-talk cycle.

Why do I have trouble with motivation? Because I do have depression. A common misconception is that people with depression are sad all the time. That’s not the case. Part of depression is the inability to feel emotions, it’s emptiness. There’s no happy, no sad, no drive or interest, it’s just numbness. Motivation is based on emotion, no wonder we have trouble with it!

What I’ve been doing to help with this problem is to keep a routine. In a routine, you decide ahead of time what you are going to do. In the moment, it is much easier to react, than to respond. A reaction is an automatic action influenced by an external situation, like a routine. A response requires more thought, reason and control of your emotions. If you are already committed to do something, then you react by doing it. This is hard at first, but after a while, a routine becomes automatic and you start to think about it less and just do it. It allows you to rely more on discipline than on motivation, which works well for people with depression. Lately, this hasn’t been working for me. My supervisor is notorious for being unorganized and now that she is back on the grid, my life is changing at a moment’s notice. It’s really hard to keep any kind of routine. So now I’m looking for another method to help with my motivation problems. I’m going to try a few different things. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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