07
Jul 17

Building Healthy Routines When You Want to Eat Potato Chips and Drink Wine at 11 AM

Building Healthy Routines

Disclosure: The FTC requires me to disclose that I received free product and compensation from Naked Granola in exchange for social media and blog posts. All opinions regarding Naked Granola are my own, because you straight up can’t buy me.

Oh hey, did you guys know that I recently went through a breakup? Well, I did. And because of that, I find myself in a new place starting all over again. And because I’m one of those assholes who is absolutely obsessed with fresh starts and new beginnings, I’m building healthy routines that I can use to anchor my day.

Some people may scoff, but I love a good routine. Yes, I’d love to be spontaneous and and do fun and fantastic things at the drop of a hat. But there is so much of life that has to get done, and well, if you’re hella spontaneous, then you neglect doing dishes and working out and washing your hair.

That’s why I’m focusing on building healthy routines for the things in my life that I want to autopilot. That way, I can be a flaky space cadet when it comes to the sort of things that matter.

(I’m aware that sentence makes absolutely no sense. But you’re following me, yeah?)

I'm building healthy routines so I can autopilot the mundane stuff. Click To Tweet

Anyway, today I’m sharing how I’m building healthy routines so I can autopilot the mundane stuff and make space for more excitement elsewhere. And with that, I give you five ways I’m building healthy routines.

Building Healthy Routines: Walk your dog

001: Make Exercise Easy.
Admittedly, I didn’t do this. Rosie did it. She’s become a bit of an anxious dog since the move, and at first, I was taking her for a lot of walks to soothe her. But now, she’s not so anxious. She just expects the same number of walks. And while I have cut it down to 4 walks a day (yes, that’s the reduced number), we’re both still getting our exercise.

And while I do plan to spend July getting back in the habit of running, I definitely won’t be beating myself up not getting a run in. And that is because I’ve already got my workout built in for the day because Rosie absolutely has to sniff every single smell in our new neighborhood. And I’m along for the ride.

002: Do Not Become a Recluse.
While I would like to go full-on Salinger (as a shut in, not someone who objectifies and sexually abuses young women) when it comes to my #writerlifestyle, I know that isn’t good for me. While being single definitely has it’s perks where artistic output is concerned, I know that I can’t shut myself in my office all day typing like a fiend.

One of the reasons I chose the house I did was because I knew it would keep me social. It’s close to all the bars and restaurants I like, it’s incredibly walkable (something that you don’t get very often in Oklahoma), and if ever there is something happening in my city, it’s going to be within half a mile of new place.

And I have to give a little shout out to my friends who have been keeping me very social. It’s like they remember that time I stopped talking with everyone when I started grad school the first time around. In those two years, I lost 40 pounds, became an alcoholic, worked 40 hours a week while going to school full time, gained 50 pounds, and then just re-emerged with an advanced degree in writing that the recession economy didn’t want. So, thanks to them for not abandoning me, even though I’m not that much fun to hang out with.

003: Make An Effort to Eat Real Food.
If I’m being completely honest, I’d gladly live in a bleak future scenario wherein we are all given our monthly freeze-dried rations. Sure, they wouldn’t be great, but it’s food and you just eat it. That’s kind of where I’m at with eating right now. If I’m not going out with friends, then I’m at home eating Lean Cuisines on my couch while I watch stuff on my iPad. I know that there are many of you who shudder at the thought of a person not eating real kale from Whole Foods, but trust. We’re out there.

Anyway, because I know that this isn’t ideal, I’ve been working on incorporating more real foods into my diet. Fruits are an easy option, and so is Naked Granola. I really love the different mix options they offer. And if you’re the least bit skeptical of the healthiness of granola, Naked Granola is the company for you. It’s low fat, pretty low calorie, high fiber, and you can easily pronounce all the ingredients. What more could you want?

004: Make Bedtime Sacred.
There is nothing I love more than going to bed early. So I’ve been finding ways to wind down my brain a couple hours before bed time. That means no screen time after 8 PM — this includes TVs and phones. (Admittedly, I need to be better about adhering to this.) I brew me a nice cup of chamomile tea (shout out again to Nicole for supplying me with the Taylor’s of Harrogate assorted tea sampler because it’s delightful), pop a Xyzal to keep my seasonal allergies in check, and then I read.

Rosie also likes this time because we’re both on the couch and in full-on cuddle mode. I scratch her ears and massage her arthritic legs while I slowly make my way through whatever I happen to be reading. Then, I’m generally in bed by 9:30, and asleep before 10. That may seem early, but know that I have to get up before 6 AM to get in a pre-work dog walk.

005: Create Dedicated Spaces.
I think an important part of building healthy routines is having dedicated spaces for everything that you do. That way, you don’t watch TV in the same place that you sleep, or read books in the same place where you get work done. It keeps your brain focused and on the task at hand, and also helps when you’re trying to build routines.

I’m super lucky in that I live in a college town, and places to live are relatively cheap. So, I’ve got me a two bedroom, one bathroom house. And that means I have a bedroom specifically for sleeping only. And another room I’m able to use just as my office. The living room is where I do entertaining/am entertained, which means it’s where I watch TV or read or have friends come over to hang.

And while I know this isn’t super important to everyone, it is to me. I know that I sleep a lot better when my brain knows that the only option in that room is to sleep. And I read a lot more when I know that there is a dedicated space to do it.

What's your best healthy routine/lifehack to keep you in tip top shape? Click To Tweet

So, what about you? How do you go about building healthy routines? What’s your best healthy routine/lifehack to keep you in tip top shape?

Thanks for sharing!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

05
Jul 17

Hey Writers! Throw Away Your Old Notebooks.

I used to have a stash of writings that I kept in my closet. I referred to it as “The Warehouse,” because some clever guy in my undergrad creative writing class wrote a meta fiction piece about his warehouse. Basically, he was going through old ideas and writings to pull ideas, like you’d go into a warehouse to find parts.

Hey Writers! Throw Away Your Old Notebooks.

My warehouse was overflowing with notebooks and binders. I had lugged some of those pieces from my parents house to my first place. Then, to Chris’s house when I moved in with him. And back in May, I started to load them in a box again to move them with me to the swingin’ bachelorette pad.

The stash had grown significantly. There were journals full of morning pages, notebooks of to do lists and outlines, planners that showed everything I had done that day, and scraps and bits that didn’t really have a category.

So I looked at the box, overflowing from only half the contents of my writerly stash.

I hadn’t really pulled any ideas from it, not since undergrad, which ended 10 years ago.

Looking at the notebooks, I couldn’t easily say what each one contained. There was no system for storing these. Basically, I finished a notebook and threw it on the shelf. There were countless dog-eared black Moleskines, some about half my age.

And I hadn’t even looked at them since I tossed them on the shelf.

But I had lugged them to new locations.

If I remembered correctly, there was some insanely cringe-inducing things in there. Like the story where I pinched a huge plot point from Dorothy Gilman’s Maze in the Heart of the Castle, but somehow made it about pro wrestling. Or any of my poetry, that was basically like the lovechild of e.e. cummings and The Bouncing Souls. Or just any emotions that were journaled between the ages of 12 and 25. Those were some dark-ass days, y’all.

I felt like I had to pack these up, like I had to keep lugging them, like I had this cross to bear just because I was a writer.

But then I had an even better thought.

What if I just threw them away?

But then I had an even better thought. What if I just threw them away? Click To Tweet

And so I did. I got a big ol’ trash bag and loaded it up with everything that was the writer I used to be. I didn’t think twice. I just did it and tossed it in the big green city-issued dumpster.

It feels oddly freeing, especially since you’d think getting rid of your hoarded ideas would make you feel very sad — like losing the last 45 minutes of work in your Word Document when you think it’s autosaving but it’s not.

But instead, I feel like I’m finally free to be the writer I want to be. Which is weird, because a shelf of notebooks in your closet shouldn’t really dictate who you are, but it kind of does. It’s like being shackled to stories you don’t want to tell anymore.

And now I’m not tied down.

Obviously, this is not for everyone. But maybe let me leave you with this thought that really jolted me into making this decision.

“If I were to die, who would have to clean up this pile of notebooks, and would they read them?”

I knew that it would be my parents, and the answer would most assuredly be yes. (Also, I think they’d pack them up and keep them forever, even though those notebooks were garbage.)

I knew I didn’t want that. So, I threw them away.

And I’m only posting this here because I want to leave my writerly friends with this question. Are you holding onto ideas or the writer you used to be at the expense of new ideas or the writer you going to become?

If I were to die, who would have to clean up this pile of notebooks, and would they read them? Click To Tweet

If so, may I recommend taking a trash bag to your warehouse?

 

Thanks for sharing!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

29
Jun 17

How a Resurrection Really Feels

To explain the current state of my life, I’m going to need to pinch a The Hold Steady song title. But like, if you’re here, you know that’s what I do.

How a Resurrection Really Feels

A lot has changed since my last post. Basically, I’ve purged a lot of stuff, got some new stuff, put all that stuff in a new location, and I’m building new routines.

I have found my swinging bachelorette pad.
To be fair, it’s not really that swinging. In fact, I spend the majority of Friday nights washing my towels. I do this because I bought what I thought were nice towels. But they are actually fuzz dispensers. So, when I use these nice, fluffy black towels to dry my body after a shower, they cover me in a layer of fuzz. The internet said that if I washed them with vinegar or baking soda that all would be fixed.

This is false.

I’ve washed them twice with vinegar, and twice with baking soda, and once I even mixed some vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine like I was making a science fair volcano. Still covered in fuzz post-shower. I washed them about 8 times regularly. Nothing is working, so I’m pretty much doomed to a life of washing towels in the vain hope that they will no longer leave me looking like a swarthy muppet when I get out of the shower.

This is what I get for trying to buy nice towels.

Rosie and I have been walking A LOT.
If you’re my friend on Fitbit, (you should totally add me!) then you may have noticed this already. Basically, when I moved, Rosie was pretty anxious so I took her for some extra walks here and there. This has turned into a 4-5 walks a day habit.

And, while I’m definitely glad for it since I’m pretty sedentary, I have to say the worst time of year to get into the habit of walking extra is during the sweaty summer. (Sorry to everyone who has hung out with me and been too polite to mention how terrible I stink.) But you try telling that to a dog that needs to smell everything in your new neighborhood at least 4 times a day. I suspect the only reason that she wants as many walks as she does is to ensure that I have to bag her poop at least twice a day.

This is probably her punishing me for the breakup.

I’ve been going out quite often for a 30-something spinster.
My new house is walking distance from downtown and from Campus Corner, so naturally I’ve been inviting everyone to park at my house so we can walk to get dinner and drinks. It’s been pretty nice, and it’s nice to never have to find parking.

Also, real talk: I can put away the cheese fries like you wouldn’t even believe. But if you have to walk half a mile to get them and half a mile back, you don’t feel so bad about eating roughly 1,500 calories in a meal. It’s also worth noting that I NEVER feel bad for eating 1,500 calories in a meal, but I know that not everyone has separated guilt/shame from food that simply exists without a moral motivation.

And most importantly, I’ve been blown away by the kindness of friends.
It seems that the little extended family I’ve built for myself is pretty badass. So, shout out to anyone who helped me move or took me to dinner or basically ensured that I didn’t sit around and wallow in my own self-pity.

Special thanks go to Allie for getting me a TV, to Nicole for sending me the nicest box of tea, and to Michael for sending me a copy of Miranda Pennington’s A Girl Walks Into a Book. (I haven’t started it yet, but really can’t wait!)

So know that all is well in the world, and I’m contemplating some pretty big life changes, as one does when the world gets turned upside down like a snow globe and all the little sparkly flecks fall into new places. And while I’m thinking of changing up even more, know that I’ll still be back here at this blog on a regular-for-me basis. (I’ll be posting, but don’t even try to hold me to a schedule because I will not have it.)

So with that, I leave you. Know that I’m alive and well and completely back from the dead.

Thanks for sharing!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

10
May 17

A Breakup Story

This breakup story starts on a Thursday. The Thursday in question was perhaps, the worst Thursday of my life. Though, admittedly, the breakup was only part of that.

A Breakup Story

This past semester, I’ve been teaching an extra class. And that fifth class took place Thursdays from 6 PM to 8:50 PM. And since Thursdays are the last day of my week, they were always a little arduous.

Imagine if your Fridays required you to be a functional human for a really long time. That’s what it’s like.

Anyway, I came home carrying extra bags of library books and an umbrella. The day itself had been gross simply because it was one of the most humid days in recent memory, and I was covered in several layers of sweat that had dried throughout various times in the day.

My clothes, for the record, smelled like the cast iron skillet of onions and bell peppers that accompany your order of fajitas.

This Thursday was also the final day before my students would be turning in their formal reports. It’s always a harrowing time, simply because no matter how much time you give your students, they will wait until the last minute to ask questions. So in addition to giving tests in my two classes, I had 3 hours worth of questions in my office hours. I tweeted about it.

After office hours I grabbed nachos in the student union, because you get to eat nachos when you’re worn out. And if you work on a college campus, you get to eat like a college kid. It’s in the employee handbook.

Then I went to my class, gave a test, and let the students leave when they were finished.

And when I got home that night — that’s when the breakup happened.

I don’t feel it’s right to say all the reasons why, because some of them are Chris’s reasons, and not my story to tell. But I will say this: The breakup was probably a long time coming.

Which feels weird to type after posting about house hunting, but like, I guess forever decisions like mortgages make you take stock, and had Chris not done so, I probably never would’ve either.

All that is to say that yes, Chris is the one that brought it up. He stood at the kitchen table just minutes after I walked in the door that night. As I put something in the trashcan right next to the table, I asked him what was up, because he looked super anxious.

And that’s when he did it.

There were no major fights or blowups. There were no big red flags. There were no conversations with friends over drinks about all the problems we were having.

Because there weren’t any major problems, nor have there ever really been. Chris and I are really good friends. And we always will be, at least I hope. But we’re not meant to be together.

We’re like a reverse When Harry Met Sally.

And I think we both knew that the relationship itself had been on autopilot for a really long time. It’s kind of like we had built up enough momentum over the years and we were able to just coast for the past few years.

But coasting and momentum are no way to live.

If we hadn’t broken up when we did, I’m sure we would’ve gotten married. I’m sure we would’ve had a couple of kids. And I’m sure that we would be the couple that gets divorced when we were in our fifties because the kids had grown up and we no longer had anything in common.

I can’t say that it’s been easy, because it hasn’t. And I haven’t told many people. (If you’re getting the news of the breakup via this post, and you feel slighted, sorry, I guess. But also, I owe you nothing.)

The breakup itself hurt. I cried. But I gotta be real. The minute Chris did it, I exhaled. It was like a small weight had been lifted. Because I think we both felt that we were moving in this direction. But I’m glad Chris did it, because I don’t think I could’ve.

See, in the sober light of day, we aren’t the same as we were almost 7 years ago when we met. I was 24, a bartender, and barely capable of being a human. He was 30, fresh out of a divorce, and just going to a bar to blow off steam on a Monday night. Neither of us were looking for a relationship, but, well, life happens.

In those years we’ve been together, we’ve changed dramatically. And though we’ve pretty much grown in the same direction as friends, we aren’t in love anymore.

I think here is a good place for me to say that I’m not posting this to solicit advice. In fact, I rarely, if ever, solicit advice. I know some will say that there are natural ebbs and flows in relationships, and that Chris and I should just stick it out. But as my friend Mari said, when you know, you know. And I know we’re doing the right thing.

So, I dealt with my emotions the way I always do — on Twitter.

I am a garbage millennial, always on the social media. WRING YOUR HANDS AT MY LIFE, BOOMERS.

But other things that have helped during this time are:

  • Bingeing 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. I absolutely hated the show, thought it was poorly done, and tried too hard to be deep and serious, all while paying lip service to actual issues. But, hey! A breakup can’t be worse than having to be the overly tattooed 20-something pretending to be a high schooler for a show that will probably go down in history as one of the worst portrayals of mental illness and revenge fantasies. So, there’s that.

  • Reading Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons. I love Brittany’s blog, and her general attitude toward life. Plus, she’s relatable, so much so that I can imagine us meeting up for nachos and margaritas to gossip and just bitch about life. (Second nachos reference in this post, because I use food to deal with life.)
  • Listening to The Minimalists podcast. If you ever find yourself in a life situation where you’re going to need to pack up all your crap to make a life change in the very near future, it’s so much easier when you’re listening to Josh and Ryan answer questions about the process of downsizing and getting rid of crap. Bonus points for how soothing it is too.
  • Grading papers. I seriously went through all the papers I had to grade in 9 days. That’s a new personal record. But it’s so much easier to get work done when you don’t really want to be alone with your thoughts.
  • Talking about writing. Thankfully, I was able to attend the OWFI conference this past weekend, and just being there felt really energizing. It’s great to know that there are people in the world who are into what you’re into, and that they believe in you even when everything else is falling apart. Also, as if the universe needed to remind me that everything is a very small, closed circle, it was announced that Jay Asher, the author of the book 13 Reasons Why, will be the keynote at next year’s conference. Weird, huh?

As for future plans, I’m slowly making them.

I’m still house hunting, but for a very different type of house. Me and Rosie, the greatest dog in the universe, need a swingin’ bachelorette pad.

I also plan to put a lot of time and energy into writing. Chris didn’t prevent me from writing, but I was in a really comfortable place in our relationship, and I definitely didn’t focus on artistic growth in the way I should’ve. It’s time to stop coasting.

Fitness is going back on the radar too. I mean, it’s always on the radar because I am a woman in a First World country, and I’ve been conditioned to believe I’m garbage if I don’t obsess about fitness in a pathological way. But I’m looking forward to establishing a new workout routine.

As for dating again, I’m sure it will happen eventually. But for now, I’m going to respectfully decline all your offers to hook me up with that one single guy from your office/church/homeowner’s association/fantasy football league/biker gang. I’m really good at being single, and after 7 years of being in a relationship, I’m really looking forward to being single again.

Thanks for sharing!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit

03
May 17

The 10 Stages of My Writing Process

The writing process is a mythical one. It’s a lot of emotional drudgery painstakingly scrawled on Post-Its purloined from former employers on my way out. It’s a lot half-full cups of cold coffee sloshing over the rim of the mug as I attack my keyboard with the fervor of 1000 feral cats. It’s a lot of hours spent on Twitter when I feel I deserve a break that inevitably morphed into a full-on procrastination sesh.

The Writing Process

And yeah. I guess my writing process is also about writing? Sometimes.

With the annual OWFI conference taking place in OKC this weekend, I thought I’d outline my writing process for your enjoyment.

If you’re like me, then you have that restless spring time antsy-ness and you want to dive into a project like Scrooge McDuck dives into his vault. But, again, if you’re like me, your writing process (particularly during spring time antsy-ness) won’t allow it.

You, my friend, are not alone. (If you’ve figured out how to master this weirdness and actually be productive, then I want you to know that you’re not my friend. you’re a mortal enemy and I will light your socks on fire.)

The 10 Stages of My Writing Process Click To Tweet

Anyway, without further ado, here are the 10 stages of my writing process.

001: Manic Ideation
During this phase, ALL MY IDEAS ARE MADE OF GOLD. Generally, this is when I’m scrawling like mad in a notebook, and my pen doesn’t leave the paper — that’s how manic it is. And, after I’ve filled 30 pages with these GOLDEN IDEAS, I start to think that not only am I the greatest and best writer in the world, but that I’m well on my way to the Nobel in Literature.

002: Diligent Procrastination
Generally speaking, I really wear myself out in the manic ideation stage of the writing process. I’m mentally and emotionally spent afterward, and my pen is generally out of ink. when I’m diligently procrastinating, I like to take some time to refill the well, so to speak. So I read books and binge on Netflix, with the notion that I need to replenish my inspiration stores. However, once those stores are replenished, I tend to continue my diligent procrastination on Twitter and YouTube.

003: Furtive Research
The furtive research stage is all about getting down to business. I’m ready to work! Only, those solid gold ideas from stage 001? Yeah. Not really gold. More like gold-plated. Or like, probably aluminum-plated. Because in the sober light of day, NOTHING IS EVER GOOD AND I’M A FAILURE. So I do some research. And this research is like the undergirding for the haphazard railway structure some fly-by-night monorail salesman sold me. <Simpson’s Reference That References Music Man.jpg>

004: Quixotic Outlining
Outlining is inherently quixotic because it’s when you take all those scrawled nonsense bits you thought were gold, and mix them with your research to DREAM THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM. What’s that dream? For me, it’s a novel. For you, it might be a new type of chip dip that uses Dippin’ Dots technology. (LIVE YOUR DREAM AND IF THAT’S DIPPIN’ DOTS-STYLE DIP FOR YOUR CHIPS, THEN LIVE YOU MAGICAL FIEND, LIVE.) The outlining stage is full of hope and wonder and I can conquer the world, or you know, just complete a hella big-ass project. And it’s quixotic because just like Don Quixote, you don’t see what’s really there. Like, I don’t see all the plot holes — I just see possibilities. The outline is where you tilt at them windmills, y’all.

The outlining stage is full of hope and wonder and I can conquer the world. #amwriting Click To Tweet

005: Vehement Denial
This is the part where I remind myself I’m not a writer. That master’s degree was a big ol’ lie, and my brain is actually full of instant mashed potatoes. (If you’ve read this post, then you know this is where I live.) In this stage, I realize fully that I’m Alonso Quijano, and my Rocinante of a novel idea is a terrible old horse. (One that probably kicks kids right in the teeth.)

(I’m from Oklahoma. I know an absurd amount of people who had their teeth kicked out by horses as children.)

006: Smooth Starting
Denial be damned! I get started with my novelin’. And the first scene is always so easy to write. I open a blank document and go to town. And before I know it, I have something that may, at some point, be a viable chapter. It feels really good and like maybe I’m not a failure at the only dream I’ve ever had! If only every stage could be like this…

007: Emotional Breakdown
BUT THE START IS THE ONLY SMOOTH PART BECAUSE I NEED TO SPEND LIKE 40% OF MY WRITING PROCESS JUST STRAIGHT UP CRYING I GUESS. Honestly, I’m not sure why I do this, but I’m also pretty sure that like, all writers do this? Maybe all artists do this. When you put so much time and energy into something that will never match the vision you have in your head, you’re really just setting yourself up for big ol’ crying jags.

008: REVENGE
This is where I curse everyone I’ve ever known. My writing is coming for you, and you deserve it because you may have wronged me at some time and you deserve to be taken out and metaphorically stoned in the streets. BY MY WORDS!

009: Existential Contemplation
This is the point where I acknowledge that choosing the life of a writer means I need therapy. Also, can I continue to live my life like this? DO I EVEN WANT TO? UGH WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER IF I DO ANYTHING I’M A BODY WITHOUT ORGANS AND WHO CARES ABOUT THE SIGNS I CREATE AND WHAT I SAY THEY SIGNIFY. (Note: This isn’t so much a part of the writing process as it is a part of my everyday life.)

I acknowledge that choosing the life of a writer means I need therapy. #amwriting Click To Tweet

010: Just Writing.
So, I finally get to the stage where I do what I should’ve been doing the whole damn time. But that’s the thing about the writing process. It’s not so much about writing most of the time.

The writing process: Not always about writing. #amwriting Click To Tweet

What about you? What’s your writing process? How many stages do you have? Do any of your stages just involve you crying for no good reason?

Thanks for sharing!
Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponBuffer this pageShare on Google+Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit