Goals from Last Week – How Did it Go?
- journal about Moonchild (writing project) at least once – DONE this morning.
- collect all relevant old notebooks from storage and bring them up into my apartment – still haven’t done this, so it’ll remain on the list.
- work on Moonchild all seven days – currently working on Nick timeline (the timeline for a relationship that figures prominently in my memoir project, explained in the reflections section of this previous check-in) – DONE.
- work on blog at least five days – DONE.
- journal about blog at least once – DONE.
- seven guitar practice sessions – yeah, I actually did ten! I wanted to make up for the lost sessions last week.
- get up through song 86 of book one of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book and introduction of the D chord – DONE.
- seven keyboard practice sessions – eleven! Also making up for lost sessions last week.
- get up through page 55 in my Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book – DONE.
- sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 147 nights in a row – DONE.
- read through page 356 in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – DONE.
- write Morning Pages every day – DONE, for the first time since starting these check-ins here on my site.
Reflections on the Week
Goals-wise, this was a really good week. I think that setting things in motion on something that’s been stuck for a long time (cryptically addressed in this post) helped so much in terms of releasing a lot of stuck energy for me, mentally, emotionally, physically (I also got back on exercise goals). I felt more on top of it this week than I have in a long time.
Some of that was tough. It’s a lot to fit in, especially with doubling up on music practice sessions for both instruments (more on that in a second), and I worked really hard to, well, not exactly stick strictly to my schedule because I almost never do, but to stick to my priorities. One of the hard things with that for me is navigating phone calls (that came up in this goal post also).
I want to talk, I value connecting over the phone, especially now in quarantine times, and I love my friends. Oftentimes, I enjoy the phone calls so much that I drop everything else and get swept up in a call, and sometimes that’s great. Other times, it means derailing everything I meant to do. And sometimes I wouldn’t mind that. But now, when I’m devoting so much time and energy to my dreams, many that I’ve neglected for the last decade, or in the case of musical instrument learning, more like two and a half decades, I mind. Even though saying that makes me feel like I’m being a cold bitch.
So I’m trying to put phone calls later in the day after I’ve gotten done what I want to do. Or while I’m cooking or cleaning. Or when I’m on my exercise bike, what I call my “dumb bike.” I got it at the start of quarantine as a way to get some exercise while being cooped up at home. It’s part vertical climber, part bike. The vertical climber part is intense and kicks my ass all the time, but the bike part has no resistance. My friend found a knob on it that you can turn to create some resistance, but no matter how hard you turn it, after pedaling a bit, it slides back and the resistance goes to shit. So it’s not really exercise on the bike part, but I still use it as a “it’s better than nothing” option to get some movement and have a break from screens, and sometimes as something to do while on the phone or listening to audiobooks or podcasts.
This week, my friend Rachel and I wanted to catch up in regards to the progress on my major life changes (I feel so guilty for writing so obliquely about this, every time I do it, and hoping to be more forthright about it a week from today) and for a couple days, I just couldn’t get things done in time to have a call, so we finally spoke Saturday morning while I was cooking oatmeal, which I loaded with summer berries.
Okay, so, speaking of learning musical instruments, I wanted to expand more on doing extra sessions to make up for what I didn’t do last week. It’s maybe a bit compulsive, but since sometime in early-to-mid April, I’ve been practicing both instruments every day with few exceptions and I’ve made up for those exceptions.
I track it on the Momentum app on my phone, where I also track the amount of nights sleeping without my phone, and writing. So if I miss a day, but later make up for it by doubling up on another day, I’ll still check off the original day. It’s not 100% accurate but it means even if I didn’t literally practice every day, I’ve had x practice sessions in x days. Right now, I’m at 126 for both instruments, since April 13th. This trend is almost exactly three weeks behind my sleeping without the phone streak.
So I made up last week’s missed sessions this past week to keep my streak going strong. This was the most I ever had to make up. I missed practice sessions on the days I took my board exams, which seems like a natural time to miss, and for a couple days when I hurt my left index finger (probably from overuse in this instrument playing). I’m happy to be back on streak.
My guitar playing isn’t sounding quite so bad, but it’s still hard to integrate both hands – chord changes with the left and strumming patterns on the right. I’m sure it’ll come more naturally and sound less stilted with time. I think it’s already better than it was a few weeks ago.
One good thing is that I already know so many of the basic chords so those aren’t new. But changing between them and strumming is. This week I did the D chord, which I learned in my first guitar lesson ever, when I was thirteen, so it wasn’t new to me, but the exercises were. I just hope the practicing pays off. It’s slow, so it’s hard to tell, but it’s also only been four months since I picked it up again, so in time, I’m sure there will be progress.
As for keyboard, I’ve finally hit something totally new to me. Because I’ve had a couple keyboard lessons before, and guitar lessons in the past, taken intro classes in both and played viola in fourth grade and then flute from fifth through ninth grades, a lot of what’s in these intro books–reading music notes, all the different rhythm notes and rests, finding the notes on the keyboard or guitar, guitar chords–was material I was already familiar with. That didn’t mean it wasn’t hard to put into practice, or that it wasn’t rusty, or that it didn’t have room to grow, as my ease in reading music undoubtedly has, but just that I had a basic familiarity.
Now, in the keyboard book, I’ve just come to transposing and building five-finger patterns for all the major and minor scales for each note. I’ve never transposed before, or learned the theory behind building scales. I knew things like the C major scale has no sharps or flats, G major has an F#, D major has a C# and an F#…and that’s about it. I didn’t know how to build based on scale degrees. Oh, it’s been mentioned, probably in a guitar class, but not enough that I had basic familiarity with it.
I want to take my time with this section. I just got to the beginning of page 56 in my book today (the goal), and this is THE page that, after some practice on previous pages, asks you to build the major and minor five-finger pattern for every note on a diagram, and then to play a previous exercise from a few pages back for each one. It intimidates me, so I’m only going to add one per day and get real familiar with it, make sure (by checking with Dr. Internet) that I’m doing it correctly, since there’s no answer key.
That means I’ll still be on the same page by this time next week, as it has twelve sets, and I’ve only done the first one (C major/minor). So my goal for that will be to be up through the G major/minor scale building and exercise. It just makes sense to me to go a little slower through something that’s new to me and that takes more thinking power.
After thinking about it, and talking about it a bit on social media, I’m going to start posting Better Call Saul recaps, which will come out on Sunday mornings, starting August 30th with the pilot episode. It just wouldn’t make sense to not follow up after the end of Breaking Bad, especially since I’ve watched and loved every season so far of BCS.
Goals for this Coming Week
- journal about Moonchild (writing project) at least once
- collect all relevant old notebooks from storage and bring them up into my apartment – still on here, gotta do it
- work on Moonchild all seven days – and to get more specific with what I’m working on with this book project, my goal convert all reeeeeally old Moonchild files that are locked in old ClarisWorks and AppleWorks files (.cwk) into files I can read and search
- work on blog at least five days
- journal about blog at least once
- bank two Better Call Saul recaps for this site
- seven guitar practice sessions
- get up through song 90 of book one of my Hal Leonard Guitar Method Complete Edition book – instead of a new lesson this week, it’ll be a lot of practice integrating from the last several lessons
- seven keyboard practice sessions
- get up through page 55 in my Keyboard Musician for the Adult Beginner book – yes, this is the same page as last week; it’s a loaded page (as you can read about in the reflections above) – and get through the G major/minor scale building and exercises.
- sleep without the phone (a struggle you can read about here) – this will put me at 153 nights (five months) in a row
- read through page 477 in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I’m reading for the NOAH (National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation)’s PWA Book Club
- write Morning Pages every day
All right, this is a little earlier than usual, so I’m off to have an afternoon snack of summer berries from the Farmer’s Market.
- Morning Pages, referred to in the lifestyle section of these goals, is the practice of writing three long-hand pages right after waking up in the morning.
- You can read about them in this post where I introduce what they are and my history with them, and you can find all posts that mention Morning Pages here.
- The practice comes from The Artist’s Way, the seminal creativity book by Julia Cameron. I’m doing a weekly column called The Artist’s Way Reflections, which was introduced here in my blog re-entry post.
- Moonchild is the name of my memoir project, which you can read about in more detail on my Memoir page or on this old post with a rough sketch. You can also find LOTS of other posts about it here.
- You can check out other posts about goals (goalposts?) here.
Wow, April! You exceeded so many of your goals this week! Really impressive. I’m particularly amazed by your musical progress. And hey, you’re still going strong with the separation from your phone before sleeping — congrats!!
Thanks Claire! The music stuff has been shoved aside for so long, so long that it’s hard for me to grapple with all the lost time, so I’m really trying to go for it! And yes, no phone in the bed with me at night. You’ve seen some of my false starts up close over the past couple years (and there were more, too). It feels good to be really kicking that habit’s butt this time around!