This is one of twelve posts that I don’t want to lose when I the time comes to delete an old blog later this year.
The first quarter of 2022 is done, and I think the word that best describes this time is — learning. I have learned more about the directions (not direction) I want to go over the next 5-10 years than I would have believed if you had told me this on January 1st.
There are so many things I could have added to this, but in the interest of keeping it reasonable, I kept it to only a few topics.
Where to begin?
COVID-19 continues to be in the news, political dogma is still causing hate or discontent, Russia invaded Ukraine, inflation is kicking arse — hard, along with a myriad of other challenges.
Yet, life goes on.
There is nothing that is happening today that hasn’t happened before, well, except the exponential explosion of the Internet and the resulting knowledge that is now available to anyone with an Internet connection, but that is a story for a different time.
The biggest thing is everything that is happening to us. What is happening now, isn’t just images, stories, or words on a page or screen that we vicariously live through. No, we are living through the mess we are in and have to deal with it, just like everyone throughout history has done.
That is what makes it so real and for many, difficult. We are used to how it was for so many years, with only minor blips to affect our lives or livelihoods.
However, whether we be the pauper or the prince, life goes with and without us. All we can do is live the best lives that we can, while we can, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.
First, I changed my blog to Harold being Harold with the idea of writing with a different focus than running — at least once I figured a few things out. I knew that I was burnt out on writing about my running and, if I am honest, writing about running in general. I had done it for 10 years and without racing or training for racing to write about, running as a topic was boring. Especially, after two years of COVID-19 restrictions and self-imposed isolation.
As I started going down more than a few rabbit holes to see what would be fun to write about, I figured out quickly that I needed a way to remember more. I was reading numerous interesting ideas, theories, factoids, or thoughts and forgetting them almost as soon as I finished reading them. Needless to say, I required a more structured way to keep the information, besides relying on my ever-worsening memory.
That is when I started a deep dive into Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain idea and realized how much stuff that I had read, forgotten, or never used. His processes and ideas took me into the world of note-taking, note-taking apps (which I had used poorly in the past), and attempting to figure out which one best fit my way of thinking and doing. How would I create my second brain?
After searching, researching, and experimenting with too many, I have narrowed my note-taking app down to two that complement each other:
– Evernote – Capture, Organize
– Obsidian – Distill, Express (drafting my writing to share or publish)
Dividing the two different types of work, for me, at this time, seems like a better solution than grabbing everything and putting all my eggs in one basket.
So, I am developing a two-stage process where I capture information, do some initial review or notes of the material, and store it in Evernote until I get the opportunity or need to process that information. Then I move it into Obsidian, where I put the research, articles, or whatever it was into notes that I can develop into connected ideas.
One piece of advice that I learned a long time ago is to use the best tool for what you want to do, and both of these have strengths, and I am finding work great together.
Evernote – I have used Evernote off and on since 2010 (maybe earlier) and decided to go back to it. Personally, I am liking the changes and the direction it is heading. Enough that I took the Evernote Certified Expert course to learn more and passed it — so I am part of their Evernote Expert Program. The course was challenging, but one where I learned a lot more about Evernote.
I use Evernote to collect, organize and review information. Then store it logically, (well at least to me), until I need to use that information in my writing or elsewhere. Between how it is organized (notebooks and tags) I can find what I need quickly and easily. It is a mature app that works great for how I use it in my workflow.
It is my library, where I go to get information that I want to keep in one place.
Obsidian – Initially, I disliked Obsidian, it wasn’t intuitive for me like Evernote. However, I kept seeing people online saying great things about it. So, I finally did a deep dive for the last few days of March, got past the initial learning curve, and figured out why people were raving about it.
The big thing is that Obsidian resides on my computer’s hard drive, not someone else’s server and I am not reliant on them to keep my data and have access to it when I want it. I control/own the stuff I put in there, and it is in markdown — both features that I want to help future-proof my intellectual property or make it easier to move if I need to. It also means that if/when I screw up, it is on me, no one else.
The thing I like the most is that Obsidian is great for connecting thoughts/information together in ways that are not always apparent. I use Obsidian to create notes on the ideas from others that I collected in Evernote.
Obsidian is becoming a modified Zettelkasten repository without all the terminology that is used in that method. Yes, how I use Obsidian is a lot less structured than true Zettelkasten, which is too structured and process-oriented for how I work. I might miss things that I wouldn’t if I used the full Zettelkasten method, but for what I am out to do, this works well enough for me.
If I write something going forward or wrote it, it will eventually end up in Obsidian. It is where I eventually will have all the writing I have done over the past 15 years (at least the stuff I can find). Yeah, a lot of copying and pasting will be happening over the next six months or so that I believe it will take to accomplish this project.
Not Much Writing
Starting a business seemed like a great idea, even though I didn’t grow my HBH-Writing business as much as I thought I might. I did create a good foundation on which it can grow. Which is more important than blathering on about my running or other wonderful things I could have written about on my blog.
I knew going in that the new blog and writing would take a year or two to gain a readership, outside work, it takes time to grow this kind of business organically. I had set up a schedule of publishing on Tuesdays and Fridays, with Saturdays being to write about my week’s running exploits.
However, attempting to figure out my writing process, which productivity and note-taking apps to use, have all taken up most of my time. Getting myself organized to write took time away from actual writing, which is necessary, but…
Even so, I felt as though it wasn’t enough and that maybe I needed a different approach from the same stuff that I have always done in the past.
Which led to researching writing options beyond blogging as my entry point to share my writing. I started looking at Medium as an alternative or in addition to writing on my blog. Then I discovered Substack and while I have published a post or two on both services, I need to see what they are and how I want to use them in my writing in the future. They seem like at least a partial answer to some of my questions.
During the next quarter, I have to get my stuff in one sock to figure out where my writing goes from here. I must focus more on actual writing and improving that, rather than processes or systems work going forward.
However, I have a pretty good idea about what niche I fit now.
- What I am learning in life.
That is what I will write about. My journey and what I learn about life and stuff, while I move towards the next bridge that we all cross at some point. The things that interest me and that I take the time out of life to learn more about. No, that is not what the experts say is best practice to increase readership or all those other things that they claim are important.
However, I haven’t done all that much that the experts have recommended throughout my life, and making huge amounts of money has never been my driving force, so I don’t see a lot of reason to start now.
So, if I take time to do a deep dive into an app or something else that interests me, that will be what I write about.
Writing about what interests me will be more interesting than me writing about something I give half a rat’s arse about. So, I have made progress in that direction.
Okay, let’s face it, my running in the first quarter of 2022 has sucked.
There is no other way to put it. My mileage is in the single digits most weeks. Either due to niggling injuries (those small ones that really ain’t bad enough to see a doc about, but enough to really screw up your running), or the weather has been so nasty that running outside isn’t possible or helps lead to those niggling injuries.
The continued lack of a treadmill, i.e., a gym has continued to haunt me and added stressors to my life that wouldn’t be here if one was available. However, that is my problem and one that will hopefully resolve itself over the next few weeks as the weather improves, and hopefully, the pandemic begins to wind down to some extent.
Plus, when you add in the wonderful changes to my body that come with aging, that I hate to give in to. They all have added up to a less than thrilling start to 2022 when it comes to my running.
As a result of everything going on in the world and the self-imposed isolation on our little hill, my eating went to crap. I found myself eating to soothe my stress too often. While my weight has stayed +/- 5 of 160 pounds, I know that I need to be closer to 150, along with the stress eating must stop. This week, I had a wake-up call when I got my blood test results back, and know that things will change.
It isn’t that I don’t know what to do, it is all about the fact that I didn’t do it. Now to get going, and get back to doing what is needed.
The first quarter of 2022 has been a mixed bag for me. There are some parts I am happy with and other things that I will improve.
Many of the changes I have made will in the long term be the directions that I need to go. I’m certain that if I hadn’t made the changes, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am now.
Life goes on with or without us, so I am going to focus on doing the best I can with what is going on around us.
All I know is you have to keep learning, and doing what you can, while you can.
Now to get the right hamstring, right hip, and left Achilles back to normal and get a few more miles on the legs than I have so far this year. Yes, running is still an important part of my life, but it is not who I am. I am moving beyond Harold the Runner and just being Harold being Harold.
How has 2022 treated you so far?