My Wellness & Wellbeing Blog

A Joyful Exploration of What Makes us Well

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Less

December 30, 2018

There is something about this time of year – just after Winter Solstice and Christmas celebrations, and just before the New Year – that makes me start thinking about “less”. Perhaps it’s because of the overarching excess of the holiday season, perhaps it’s because I’ve actually been able to slow down for the first time in 6 weeks or so and I realize there’s no place to put all the new things we all got for Christmas! This year in particular, as I was realizing that "40" is just 100 days away for me, I began to think about all the unimportant things I do that take up lots of my time, and all the really important things I'd like to be doing instead. So, I decided to begin a 100 day journey to "less" - less waste (time and physical), less impact on the Earth, less clutter, less chemicals, makeup, frustration, plastic, debt, baggage, procrastinating (do!), weight, money spent on things we don't need, and definitely less tired! Over the next few months I'll be sharing my journey to less - and to 40, whatever that means! I'm not sure where it will take me but I hope you follow along and experience it all with me. 

Well, What Can You Do, Right?

January 3, 2019

I am a conflict avoider. Intentionally, consciously, serially. My mantra is, if it ain't broke I don't have the time to friggin' worry about it, know what I mean? I am one of those people who, many times, find myself looking around my house, or analyzing a life situation, and instead of fighting it or being the one to raise my hand in opposition, I say to myself, "Well, what can you do, right?" because I know that it will mean mental work for me if I do either of those things. This is likely the reason the mail piles up along with all the children's art from the day, my daily to-do lists only get mostly done, my healthy eating goals get derailed every couple of days, and my children answer my requests to brush their teeth with a, "Meh." (They do pick up on those personality traits of ours, the bitty rascals!) But recently I began to think, "Ok well...what can I do?" This requires more of a proactive approach than I'm used to applying - well, to my own life, I mean. That's also likely why I have fallen victim to those sneaky 'home organization' marketing schemes. "Oh, if I just buy this trendy organizer I can put all my crap in it, and then I'll have less crap lying around - plus I'll have a stylish decoration/pattern in my house now." So often the solution offered to us is yet another product to purchase. And honestly, how many of these "solutions" do we all have around our house? The solution to 'less' isn't more pretty containers for us to shove all of our crap into, it's simply...less crap. Now, I'm not talking about people whose homes don't have the normal built-in storage like most of us have - closets, cabinets, drawers, etc - because those are the people those trendy containers were truly made for. I'm talking about most of us who have all the requisite solutions built into our homes, and who still have more crap than can our home can hold. I'm also not talking about all of those things every household needs - batteries, tape, towels, cleaning products, note pads, etc - "crap" includes all the excess things we have and won't get rid of because we think one day we'll need it or use it or want it. This is my new plan! This is my new mission! Sort the necessary from the crap, and attain a more balanced mind and home. I started a few weeks ago with a closet that has been the absolute bain of my existence for years. I repurposed some old office equipment, got rid of a bunch of crap, and made sure the crap I kept was meaningful and purposeful. A work in progress my friends, an exciting work in progress!

Planning the Garden

January 6, 2019

I do understand that in recent years here in the great Pacific Northwest we always get an odd warm day in January, we don't usually get snow until mid-February, we get frost well into March, and April goes from freezing to 80 degrees in a couple of days. However, none of that deters me from starting seeds as soon after the new year as possible! I absolutely love to start my seeds indoors in January so that I have large, lovely starts to transplant into the ground as soon as the February snow has melted, and that way I don't have to wait as long to start harvesting. This year I'm starting hot and bell peppers in pots indoors so that when I bring them outside in late Feb/early March they don't need their own space in my raised beds, where space is at a premium. I'm hoping they'll do better this year than last, which only saw a few small bells and no hot peppers at all for some reason. Now I have a good plan for what to plant and when. Because, as anyone who gardens knows, it's no fun to have 5 producing tomato plants all at once, or 12 heads of lettuce all full at the same time, right? Who can eat all of that before it goes bad? You can't freeze lettuce. And since I don't know how to can food some of my would-be harvest inevitably either goes bad or it goes to someone else. This year, my goal is to plant what I can eat on a continual schedule so that I waste less and go to the grocery store less. I've made my plans and put them into my calendar, so now all I have to do is follow the schedule. Adding this kind of thing to your calendar makes you more accountable to yourself and more likely to follow through, so that's what I did. Less wasted time and less wasted money equals more seasonal eating and more (free!) organic vegetables on our plates. 

Derailed!

January 7, 2019

Oh, the plans I had for this afternoon! Not anything over the top, not too many items to check off the list, but they were important things that needed to be done after I got home from work. Normally I get home around 4:15pm after picking the kids up, and so we have a pretty good chunk of time to be together and catch up on our days while making dinner, settling down and preparing for the next day. (And believe me, I get how lucky I am to work full time and still have afternoons with my kiddos!) But today, even though I was fully aware that the longer we delayed going home the less time I'd have to accomplish my goals, we didn't get home until almost 6pm. One of the things I wanted to do was to cook a whole chicken (more about all of that tomorrow, I hope); however, since it was so late, the kids were hungry before we even got home so I had to prepare a completely different dinner than I had planned, and needless to say there just was no time for the chicken after that. So now my choice had affected our afternoon, our dinner, and lunches and dinners later in the week too. It is worth understanding just how important our routines and schedules are, so that we might make the right choices in our day and keep ourselves on track. Oddly enough, I had just read about this exact thing in a newspaper advice column today and it still didn't dawn on me that that's what was happening in the midst of the moment. Sometimes staying on schedule is more important than saying yes to someone else - more important for our mental health, and for the grand scheme of our day/week/life.

I am just...not a good cook!

January 8, 2019

One thing I have always been simplistic about is cooking. Cooking is one of my least favorite things to do. I don't bake (unless for some reason it's required of me), meat does not do for me what I think it should do when I cook it, and slow cookers make zero sense to me (how is the food not dry and ruined after cooking it all darn day?!). My ideal meals include single- ingredient dishes, like chicken breasts with steamed broccoli and rice, that are ready to eat in 20 minutes or less, and the less I have to do to each food to get it to taste good the better! If you tell me that I'll need to pat the chicken dry after greeting it by shaking its wing and giving it a name, and then put 7 things on it in a specific order once it's been grilled for 2 minutes and removed from the heat while a glaze is made...yeah, that's never gonna happen in my kitchen. I don't even like eating foods that are that complicated! Of course, I love delicious food as much as anyone, but mostly, food is just the way to get my empty tummy to not be empty anymore. So in that way, it almost doesn't even matter what it is as long as it does the job. Not so with my kids, unfortunately, as most parents will understand. At least...I hope it's not just me! My littles are 9 and 4 and they each have very different thoughts on eating - my 4 year old boy loves savory and hearty things like meat and soups and dairy, and my 9 year old girl has just decided to become a vegetarian (which I think is wonderful, except that she doesn't like the taste of most plant-based proteins, sooo…it's been a bit of a challenge to get her the right nutrition) and would eat nothing but cucumbers and carrots all day if only I let her. But, that also means I have to make more than one thing for dinner some nights. I like to think of eating as simply as possible - whole, real, un-fooled around with food. So, I decided to try cooking a whole chicken so that I would have less to think about during the week and could focus more on other non-meat proteins. It's also pretty cheap to buy a whole little guy compared to parting it out. Welp, I'm sure it'll taste fine, but apparently there's an "up" side and a "down" side to a chicken, and I ended up cooking it upside down. I just don't know what I'm doing, I guess! I haven't ever baked a whole chicken before, and I thought I had followed all the directions, but obviously I got one thing not right. Next time I'll know. I mean, the idea is good. I think I'm on the right path. I just need a little more practice.

Compartmentalizing

February 13, 2019


       Ack, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything! Not for lack of ideas, just lack of mental availability to put something cohesive together and also get it written down, so that is exactly where this post is coming from.

       As I’ve said before, I am a list-maker extraordinaire, and I’ve been that way ever since I can remember. It’s been magnified in the last 10-ish years, since having my 2 young ones, and my lists have saved my arse more times than I can count. I have a tiny spiral notebook with me at all times just to catch the grocery items that I don’t remember I need until I’m at work, or things I hear about during the day that I want to look up later, or those one-off ideas that light up my mind-bulb but get swept away just as fast because something else needs my attention. Sometimes it can seem really daunting because I’m staring at a crazy-long list of everything I need to do for the next couple of weeks. I mean really, imagine if you did that – everything from taking the trash cans to the curb, to picking up a small container of milk for your coffee at work, to putting library books in backpacks the night before they’re due, to packing toothbrushes in your purse the night before the kids’ dentist appointment that’s right after school – that’s a long list!

       For this reason, I break it down into multiple lists of varying depth. It sounds complicated but I promise it’s not! On the last day of every month I make a new calendar page to hang on my fridge for important info at a glance. It’s nothing fancy or special, nothing I’ve even had to spend money on – it’s just a table I created on a Word document and printed out (squares, 7 across and 6 down, printed landscape). I know, people tell me I should take the leap and go electronic with it, but…I can’t hang my phone on my fridge, nor would I want to, and having it in my face is kind of the whole point! I hand-write in what I already know is happening, like birthdays, which week is yard debris pickup and which is recycling, appointments, no-school days, etc. And, because it’s paper, I can just write in new things as they come up. Next to that on the fridge I have a magnetic pad of paper where I write my grocery list (like this one I found at Target: https://www.target.com/p/yoobi-153-magnetic-notepad-blue-white-chevron-60-sheets/-/A-50015689 ). The location of this grocery list is so key, because whenever I use the last of something I can immediately write it down.

       The third and final list I have is always with me in my purse. This is the list I use daily and rewrite several times a week because things get crossed off and added. Sometimes it’s just a list, and sometimes it’s broken down by day – it all depends on how busy I am and how important it is to get certain things done on specific days.

       The main purpose of my calendars and lists is to allow me to see the end goal so that I can then walk backwards to where I need to begin. For instance, as tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, I knew each of my kids would need to hand out cards to their classmates. If we’re walking backwards, that means the kids will need a couple of days to get them all written out, so I’ll need to purchase the Valentines the weekend before the holiday, and before I can buy them I’ll need to get a list of names so I know how many to buy, and the teachers will probably need a day or two to compile that list and get it to me. So at this point I’ve been dealing with Valentines since roughly February 6th - but, it’s been completely non-stress, and at least I know we’re not going be up until 9 o’clock tonight trying to get them all done!

       This is seriously how I save my head from exploding on a daily basis! It’s this compartmentalization that allows me some measure of mental freedom. There’s no way I could remember all of this, so having it physically in front of my eyes is so important for me. I know lots of people have a few hours each day while their kids are in school to get these things done, but I’m not one of them, so my time after work has to be carefully planned. There is literally no time when I’m not either at work or with my kids (my little boy’s preschool is a block away from my work, so I guess I do have that 1-minute walk to-and-from to myself!), so I have to challenge myself every day to just get a little bit done. As far as cleaning goes, again, I have to divide to conquer: every Monday I sweep off my front porch and back patio, every Wednesday and Saturday I do laundry, Thursdays are bathrooms, etc. I know that I can’t clean my whole house in one day, but I know I can clean one thing each day, so this is the way I can get it all done without getting overwhelmed. These are also things I write on my fridge calendar btw, because, again, it’s physically in front of my eyes each day so it's harder to ignore. 

       Now, these are things that work really well for me. They're things that I've found after trying other things that didn't work quite as well for me. They may not work for you as well as they do for me, but the point is - try things! Find something that works for you and go for it! (Don't forget to have fun, too, cause life is better when you're having more fun!)

Full Moon Energy

February 19, 2019

The full moon is coming back tonight, which always fills me with creative and motivational energy! It nudges me, every month, gently reminding me to stay on track toward all the goals I've set for myself but haven't yet reached. I like to fill up on good advice and positive vibes as much as possible - I try to keep my heart open to receive the love and good energy that comes my way, I try not to dwell on negativity, I laugh and joke all the time, I read books and articles about wellness and mindfulness, I listen to music that makes my heart want to sing and my legs want to dance, I follow IG accounts that give me daily horoscope, just to name a few of the things I do.

Recently I had a horoscope that read, "Consider what you are doing now compared to what you want to be doing, and look for a way to make the adjustment." As soon as I read that it felt like someone had just smacked me on the forehead! Blink.Blink. So simple, and so well stated.

Now I don't know if this is truly something you could accomplish in a day (depends on what your goal is, I guess), but as far as life goes...my goodness!! This is the kind of fantastic advice that is so obvious once you see it, and yet for many of us the thought escapes us or never fully manifests into the simplicity of that one statement.

We all, at times, find ourselves stuck where we are, or longing for a change we think is out of our grasp because it seems really complicated or beyond our personal abilities. But if we take a truly realistic view of what we want - break it down into its simplest terms - it then becomes pretty clear to us what steps we need to take in order to get there. Look for a way to make the adjustment. There IS a way, so find it.

So, what steps can you take today? Right now? Leave the details out, they'll take care of themselves along the way. You want a new job? Look for what's out there. You want a new place to live? Find one, and get yourself ready to move! You want to eat healthier? Buy healthier food today! It's that simple. Make your life what you want it to be.

       

They Survived (And So Will I!)

February 28, 2019

This is the turning point. Being too busy to deal with complicated things can only go on so long. They have to be faced. Because I have procrastinated and told myself I was too busy to handle so many things, right now I am dealing with a laundry list of completely, annoyingly complicated things. With 40 days to go until I turn 40, I swear that day is shaping up to be the deadline of all deadlines, the culmination. I kind of feel like I'm sprinting to the top of the hill just so I can slide comfortably down the other side! I, at my organizational best, have just initiated what I'm calling, "Super Spring Cleaning." (more details about that soon!) It's not the greatest name, but it's what I'm going with! This is a project I've had to begin now - partly because, well, the house and I just really need it, partly because we're having a houseguest in a few weeks, and partly for health reasons. It encompasses my home and my diet, because both have been put on the back burner for far too long. 

For my home, I've decided to go through each room and do everything that needs to be done - wash walls, paint ceilings, replace old light fixtures, put in new baseboards (the whole house needs new baseboards after the carpet installers ripped all the old stuff out last year), go through each drawer, closet and cupboard and get rid of everything we don't need - and there's a lot we can do without! 

Due to a recurring health issue I have, it has recently become very clear to me that I have a lifelong daily responsibility to be vigilant about staying hydrated and making sure that I am getting the right nutrition with every bite I take. This comes, actually, at maybe the best time possible, which I know sounds really strange - there's never usually a great time for you to find out that a surgical procedure has failed and it will affect your daily life! But I'm also at my wits end with my weight right now. Finding time to exercise has always eluded me, but at the same time I am kinda baffled by the fact that I even need to exercise because of the fact that I am always in motion. I have a stand-up desk at work, and at home I'm always busy. So it must be the food, right? This is why it's actually a good time for it to be necessary for me to eat well. I'm also going to stop drinking wine for a few months - good for lowering the calories, and the grocery budget!