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My Wellness & Wellbeing Blog

A Joyful Exploration of What Makes us Well

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.