23
Mar 17

Marathon Mindset: Embracing Life’s Slow Burn

Recently I caught myself getting really mad about how long things take. Generally, I’m a pretty patient person. Even though I would like instant validation, I don’t expect it. And that’s because there’s a long road ahead of me. I embrace the time it takes for things to happen because that’s the marathon mindset.

Embracing the Marathon Mindset

I’ve written about the yoga approach to life before, and the marathon mindset is similar. Only with the marathon mindset, you gotta be cool with how long life takes.

Almost daily I hear someone complaining about how people have no attention span these days. They’re used to the immediacy of information accessed from a pocket-sized computer that we call a phone. And maybe that’s true.

But I don’t think it is for everyone. I think most people know that life’s a slow burn.

Sure, I want what I want when I want it. But I’m an adult. I know that I can’t just take a vacation in the middle of the week. I can’t go out to dinner every single night. I can’t stay up late reading just because the book is good. I can’t keep clicking on the next episode just because Netflix has the whole series available.

I mean, I could definitely do all these things. But there are consequences.

It’s kind of like with running a marathon. You can’t blow all your energy by hardcore sprinting the first few miles. Your pace has to be even and measured. You have to strategize. You have to think about how you’ll not only approach the beginning of the race, but the middle and end too. And should you choose to start the race at a dead sprint, there will probably be consequences. That is, unless you’re a super human who can sprint 26.2 miles.

(Side note: I’ve only ever run a half marathon, and I’ve openly and loudly stated on multiple occasions that it was the worst day of my life. This is a metaphor, though. And metaphors mean that I don’t actually have to run.)

I'm embracing the marathon mindset in all aspects of my life. Click To Tweet

So, rather than feeling impatience take over, I’m embracing the marathon mindset in all aspects of my life. Here’s what that looks like:

The Marathon Mindset at Work

In my career, it’s easy to be impatient. I want recognition and validation immediately. I want to move ahead and make a spot for myself, and I want to do it faster than anyone else. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s not about how fast others run the marathon, because if you try to keep pace with others, you’re going to burn out.

Instead, I focus on doing the best I can at work, and trust that I will be recognized when it’s time. Just like when you get the medal when you cross the finish line, I’ll eventually get recognition for the hard work I put in.

The Marathon Mindset at Home

Have you ever tried to remodel a home? Because holy hell. Living in a house with a person you love while trying to be a normal human being and simultaneously remodeling said house is like running a marathon on an obstacle course that some jerk set on fire. Everything is a hazard.

But by embracing the marathon mindset, I can be patient with home renovations. I know that they take time and money, and they’ll be done when they can be done. Similarly, I like to take the long way round when it comes to chores — doing a little bit at a time. It can be easy to get bent out of shape if your living situation isn’t ideal, but be real. When has your living situation ever been ideal?

The Marathon Mindset with Your Side Hustle

This is definitely the hardest for me. I feel like I’ve been writing my whole life, and it’s easy to feel like a failure when you don’t feel success and recognition immediately. But that’s the thing with writing. It’s naturally a slow burn anyway, because who the hell writes a novel in a day? No one.

Embracing the marathon mindset as a writer means that I have to not only acknowledge that writing is going to take hella long, but that achieving any amount of success from it will take even more time.

What does the marathon mindset look like to you? Click To Tweet

So there you have it. That’s how I embrace the marathon mindset in my everyday life. What about you? What does the marathon mindset look like to you?


09
Mar 17

Create Space to Breathe: 4 Tips to Help You Fight Overwhelm

When the things that need to be done start to pile up, I know I need to create space to breathe.

We’re smack dab in the middle of grading season. Or, more accurately, procrastinating grading season. (Every day I manage to tell my students they shouldn’t procrastinate with a straight face. I have no business doing that.)

Create Space to Breathe: 4 Tips

Normal adult activities like cleaning and grocery shopping have fallen by the wayside because I feel like I don’t have time to do it. And while I may not have time to do it all when I need to get 116 papers off my plate, I know I have time.

I firmly believe that busy is a choice. But I also know that there are times when you have more to do than others. And grading season is definitely that time for me.

In the past, I’ve wasted time feeling like I needed to be cooped up and cordoned off — away from the world and working diligently to get things done. But the problem with staying inside all day and looking at a computer screen is that it very much makes Marisa a dull girl. And if I’m being honest, it makes me hate my job and my students, which isn’t really productive at all.

So, this year I’m taking a more strategic approach and making an effort to create space to breathe. I feel like I have to this semester, especially since I’m teaching 5 classes this time around. I’m also at an age where I can’t be productive when I cut corners. So, fast food isn’t an option since it doesn’t really fuel my body anymore, so much as shut down the whole production while I lay down and attempt to digest. And there are no more all-nighters for me. In fact, I’m in bed at the same time every single night.

I know some of my coworkers can stay up late to get things done and still teach the next day. Or they can fuel up with nothing but coffee and donuts. But that ain’t me.

So here’s what I’m doing to create space to breathe during this busy time.

001: Going for walks.
Through a wellness initiative at my university, full-time faculty and staff received a free Fitbit. And while it’s not he first step tracker I’ve owned (I used to be a Garmin Vivo Fit user) it has definitely made me way more competitive when it comes to getting my steps in. Not only do I see my friends and all their steps within the Fitbit app, but I also see everyone on the university’s fitness portal. Because of this, I know how much more other people are doing, and I want to do more.

Now, there are only so many hours in a day, so it’s not like there is plenty of time for me to walk all over the place. Instead, I’m using my lunch breaks during the work day and walking around campus. Thanks to global warming, it’s been so unseasonably warm, and that has definitely made it a lot easier for me to traipse around campus during the day.

Not only is the walk good for me, but it enables me to take a moment away from the computer. I truly get to use that time to decompress from grading, lectures, and emails. It’s perhaps the most relaxing thing I do all day.

002: Eating my lunch outside.
I’ve got a bad habit of holing up in my office and eating lunch in front of my computer. I know this isn’t good, but it’s so hard to make myself go elsewhere. Plus, it’s not like I want to be the irrelevant old professor who rolls up in the cafeteria and tries to strike up a conversation with students in hopes that they let me sit with them.

I’m a 100% introvert, so I need time in my day when I’m not interacting with people. That’s usually why I eat my lunch in my office with the door closed. But the other day, I walked to my favorite spot on campus after I purchased a sandwich. I was delighted to find that no one was sitting on my bench, and very few people were passing by.

Naturally, I parked right there and enjoyed my pastrami on naan sandwich with an over-sweetened iced green tea. The best part? I could hear a choir rehearsing in Carpenter Hall.

003: One-on-one talks with good people.
I’m very fortunate in that I’m surrounded by a lot of deep thinkers. We can discuss a lot of things, and I never feel like I’m stuck in very surface-level conversations, which I HATE. It may seem counterintuitive, but when I’m stressed out, it’s nice to talk through some difficult concepts. If we stuck to just the small talk, I think that would stress me out more.

Over the course of this past week, I’ve talked about writing pedagogy, race relations and the biases we carry, whether or not a Ph.D. is actually worth it, and why we buy into the systems and institutions that we do. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I live for these kinds of discussions. And by taking time to have them, I feel better through the day because I’ve interacted with a human on a meaningful level, and haven’t stared a screen all day.

004: Turning my brain off by 8 PM.
I’ve found that the best way to be productive and get through a really busy time is to clearly delineate how I will use my time. By that, I mean I need to set aside time for work and time for shutting down and relaxing.

I mentioned that I’m in bed by the same time every night, But I also have to start relaxing and winding down at the same time so that I can get to sleep more easily. At around 8 PM ever night, I put away all my school stuff. I may write or blog or journal, but mostly I’ve been too fried to do that. Instead, Chris and I cuddle up on the couch with Rosie, and we’ve been watching Twin Peaks (I totally hate this series — sorry nostalgia fans) or Desus and Mero (bar none the best late night show on the air).

Oh, and yeah. I’ve had a big ol’ glass of red wine each night.

 

So there you have it. That’s how I like to create space to breathe when I feel overwhelmed. What do you do when you’ve got a lot to do? How do you create space to breathe?


21
Feb 17

Dear Universe: I Need Something Big

Dear Universe,

I know it’s been a hot minute since I asked for something via this ol’ blog, but I got another favor. I need something. Something big. And I don’t even know what it is.

Dear Universe: I Need Something Big

See, here’s the thing: I’m running on autopilot. Everything is going smoothly. I can’t see a speed bump or a pothole for miles. And that’s good, I think. Except, well. Last week I jokingly said to my office mate that every week is the worst week of my life. And joking about something is the first step to admitting that you have hella problems, right?

I’m not asking for a whole lot, dear Universe. I don’t wan’t to win the lottery or to find a bag of unmarked bills at the park when I’m walking my dog. (Let the record also show that I don’t not want those things. I’m just saying that it doesn’t have to be those things.) I don’t want anything fancy or expensive. I don’t want some life-changing news. I don’t want to make a big decision.

I kind of just want a sign. I don’t know what for though.

Sorry. I’m trying here, dear Universe. But that’s the thing about this time of year. It’s the third quarter of the school year, and the third thing out of four things is always the worst. Like when you run a mile on a track. It’s only four laps. The first lap you’re fine. Your fresh. Your lungs are full of air. The second lap is okay. You’re doing it. You still have some energy. The third lap sucks because you’ve already done this thing twice and OMG can I just be done now? And the fourth lap is great because you’re almost done.

I kind of just want a sign. I don't know what for though. Click To Tweet

That’s where I am right now — smack dab in the middle of OMG can I just be done now.

So here I am, feeling antsy and anxious. I don’t know why. It’s been a hot minute since something big has happened. I mean, I guess I did buy a car on Saturday, but that doesn’t feel like anything. And if you know me, dear Universe, you know that material possessions don’t mean a whole awful lot to me. I’m looking for something that’s the spiritual equivalent of a marching band tromping down Main Street and playing Seventy-Six Trombones.”

I want big things and little words scribbled in notebooks. I want stories that make me stay up until 5 AM because I absolutely have to read them. I want words pouring out of my head and onto the page like an avalanche. I want to not feel so empty. I want to have thoughts worth thinking again.

I guess what I’m saying here, dear Universe, is that I want a little inspiration. I want to want to do things again.

Help me out here, Universe. Remind me why I’m here.


13
Feb 17

5 Steps to a Better Night Time Routine

I’ve written before about how to be a morning person, and Kieran shared with you how to kick start your morning. But there’s one crucial thing to being a morning person, and that’s having a night time routine.

Five Steps to a Better Night Time Routine

I’m fanatical about routines, and I absolutely love habits. I think rom coms tend to make people think they have to be spontaneous and easygoing in order to be viable people. But let’s get real. I hate spur-of-the-moment anything, and I actively work to build better habits because I know they make me a happier, more productive person. (If you call me at 8 PM and ask me to come have a drink, I will not only tell you no, I will also lecture you on why you need to schedule with me in advance. I DO NOT DO SPONTANEOUS.) So that’s why I’m talking about my night time routine today, and the five steps you can take to have a better night time routine.

5 Steps to a Better Night Time Routine Click To Tweet

001: Get Un-Ready.
When I say un-ready, I mean undo all the things you did that morning to get ready. I pretty much put my pajamas on the minute I get home from work so I don’t get dog hair on my work clothes. So, for me, getting un-ready means washing my face, flossing and brushing my teeth, and applying like 6 different moisturizers. (I work with 20-year-olds. I feel like a haggard, leather face all the time. Don’t judge me.) I try to do these things around 8 PM because that means I’m physically ready to get to bed. And this is such an important part of my night time routine because if I wait until I’m too tired, I may not wash my face at all. (I’m gross, I know.)

002: Be Aware of the Time.
How many times have you started something around 9:15 only to finish up around midnight, when you fully intended to go to bed at 10? It’s easy to get caught up in things like projects, movies, or to do list tasks. That’s why I’m always aware of time when it comes to my night time routine. Chris hates it when I say we shouldn’t start a specific show on Netflix because it’s too late. (He’s a total night owl.) But I’m fanatical about going to bed on time, and to do that I always have to know how much time I have until I’d like to be asleep.

003: Turn Off the TV and put your phone away.
Now, you know I refuse to let my phone run my life, but I feel I should admit here that I’m not super into TV either. Sure, I like watching shows, but I feel like TVs have become such an intrusive presence in our daily life. They’re so big and so loud, and I don’t need a theater experience to watch the local weather forecast or Jeopardy. Chris and I have even talked about how if our TV breaks, we may not get another one. (That’s a post for another time. Also, we have computers and tablets that we stream TV from anyway. Do we need a TV too?) For me, I like to turn the TV off because I like quiet. And turning the TV off (or, going in the other room while Chris finishes watching something) is a great way for me to slowly unwind and enjoy some quiet before I go to sleep. I also put my phone down, and have it set to go into Do Not Disturb mode every night at 9 PM.

It’s worth noting here that there are all manner of studies about how lessening your screen time before bed can help you sleep better. So I won’t harp on it. Just know that backing away from screens is a great way to improve your night time routine.

004: Hydrate.
I always have the worst sleep when I’m dehydrated. Whether I’ve been drinking too much caffeine or alcohol throughout the day, or just not enough water, I always try to chug about 10-15 ounces of water about an hour before bed. This generally rehydrates me and helps me not have massive charlie horses in my calves. (I get these all the time, and sometimes they work their way into nightmares where the hook-handed guy from I Know What You Did Last Summer hooks me right in the calf. Luckily, it’s just a charlie horse. But unluckily, ouch, it’s a charlie horse.) Also, one of the main reasons I ever get up in the middle of the night is because I’m thirsty and need a drink. Rehydrating prevents that from happening. Also, since I do it an hour before bed, I’m able to use the bathroom before bed, and I never have to get up.

I should probably note that I still keep my full Nalgene bottle on my bedside table anyway. Just in case. You know, when I need 32-ounces of water at 3 AM.

005: Read.
Okay. So. Real talk. Reading is a big part of a lot of my routines. But I like to read right before bed. I always have. It doesn’t matter what I’m reading — something happy or scary or adventurous — I just like to read before bed. Most nights, you can find me crawling into bed around 9 PM to start reading, so I can be safely off to dream land by 10.

I never have issues with falling asleep after reading something intense, and I’m not sure why. It’s probably because I’ve been doing it since the first grade…

What's your night time routine? Click To Tweet

What about you? What’s your tried and true night time routine? Anything I should add to my night time routine?


02
Feb 17

Saving My Life Right Now: Winter 2017

The winter has always been hard for me. And I always hate the third quarter of the school year — that time between the start of the spring semester and spring break. (I thought it wouldn’t be so bad as an instructor, but it still feels like being stuck in quicksand.) Then, couple that with the current political climate, and it’s pretty easy to see why I haven’t blogged in over a month.

#mybad

I feel incredibly small right now, and like I don’t matter. I feel like the words I could say to my readers are functionally worthless. And I also feel like so many are going through so much worse than me right now, so why doesn’t it even matter if I post something?

I know all of this is unhealthy thinking, so in an effort to get back on the horse, I’m linking up with Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy to talk about things that are saving my life right now.

001: My super tiny bullet journal.
I’ve written a lot about different planning methods I’ve used in the past, but this year I joined team #bujo. But I also knew I wanted to shrink down my planning as much as possible. So instead of using the standard-sized Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, I’m using a pocket-sized one. (I don’t think the world needs another blog post about bullet journaling, but I’ll probably write one very soon anyway.) I’ve been tracking the books I’ve read, what I’m grateful for, and what I’ve spent. I’ve really been looking forward to Saturday nights when I bust out the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners to make the spread for the next week.

002: Carrying a book with me.
I always used to carry a book with me, but got out of the habit when I was at the job from hell. I didn’t feel like reading pretty much the whole time I was there, so I never jammed a paperback in my purse to savor over lunch. Recently, I got back in this habit, and I’m happy to report I read 5 books in January alone. Also, office hours are great when they’re spent reading.

003: My Stanley travel mug.
I hate travel mugs that don’t actually keep the coffee warm. I also hate travel mugs that don’t have lids that close all the way. Luckily, Chris found this Stanley travel mug. He has one that’s 16 ounces, and I have the 12 ouncer. Not only does it keep my coffee warm for a few hours, if I throw it in my bag, it doesn’t dump coffee all over my laptop.

004: The Beach Body App.
I did a little survey on Snapchat the other day (username: GentleMarisa) and asked people what their favorite workouts were. The overwhelming response was that people liked the Beach Body app. My friend Liz sent me a discount link, and I signed up. This past week I’ve been doing Focus T-25 in the mornings, and the 3-Week Yoga Retreat in the evenings. And the best part of it is that I don’t have to leave the house, which is the hardest part about working out in the mornings in the winter. Seriously. I refuse to go out in the cold so I can get sweaty.

005: Good coworkers.
It’s just good to know when you have some coworkers who are like your comrades in arms. I probably have the most ideal working situation of anyone in academia, and any time I think about that, I’m just overcome with how lucky I am.

 

What about you? It’s important to remember that self-care isn’t selfish. What’s saving your life right now?