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?


03
Apr 17

Slow Living: What We Have Time for

For me, slow living is all about figuring out exactly what it is that you have time for.

As I write this, I should be grading. Hell, before I started writing this, I was walking the dog. And during the time I was walking the dog, I should’ve been grading too. I’m a college instructor. There are precious few hours in the day when I shouldn’t be grading.

Slow Living: What We Have Time For

And as a writer, there are precious few hours in the day when I shouldn’t be writing. Even if I count every idea scribbled on a Post-It, every notebook bleeding ink, Word Docs filled with rambling prose, and every last stolen minute I took to write, I still wouldn’t write enough.

But that’s the thing of it, isn’t it? Whatever we do isn’t enough, and we always feel like we’re running out of time.

Whatever we do isn't enough, and we always feel like we're running out of time. Click To Tweet

I had this thought on the dog walk, and knew I needed to get home and write it.

For me, I don’t feel like there aren’t enough days left in my life. I’m 31, which is relatively young. I do worry about the hours in the day, though. How is it already 3 PM? How did Tuesday pass me by? I swear, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Even though I still feel like there is plenty of time left in my life, I can easily see how it’s all slipping away, and getting me to a point where there won’t be enough time.

So I slow down. I don’t wish days away. I don’t live for deadlines or benchmarks. And even though I feel like I should be further in my career right now, I’m very content with where my life is.

I think we all see what’s possible and we want it immediately. We all see what others were able to accomplish with relatively little time, and we think we should do that too.

I definitely used to feel that way. I’ve been slowing down a lot lately. I’m obsessed with slow living, especially as I see others scrambling their way through life.

(Slow living, for those who don’t trawl the blogosphere/podcastosphere for content about how to take a chill pill, is living life at a slower pace. It’s taking a step back and enjoying life. It’s refusing to be manic, even when every other aspect of daily life would have you believe that you need to keep up. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend checking out The Art of Simple and No Sidebar.)

I’ve stepped back and realized that I’m supposed to be here. I am embracing the marathon mindset, because I know everything is a slow burn. I’m making time for picnics. I’m saying no to things I don’t need. I’m creating space to breathe when the rest of the world is underwater. I refuse to choose busy. I’m setting my own agenda. I’m living my own damn life, y’all.

This got me to thinking about the things I value, and the things I have time for. It made me realize that the only reason I want to be further in my career is because I want writing to be the day job, not the side hustle. It made me realize that I’ve been valuing that paycheck and health benefits more than I have the very thing I was meant to do with my life.

And while I can’t very well quit my day job (unless some rich benefactor wants to pay for my existence while I hole up in my house and write my butt off), I can focus more on what I have time for.

Even though I know what I want, I haven’t made time for it. I have, however, made time for Netflix, fast food, too much social media, and Tetris. I’m shocked by how much time I’ve spent zoning out while staring at the TV, or poisoning my body with garbage or just scrolling through my phone, or just rotating those little tetrominos. (That free app is killer. I’ll delete it, but add it one afternoon when I want to shut my brain off — usually after grading like a fiend. If there’s a way to completely block an app from your phone, I’d love to know because I don’t have that level of willpower.)

Even though I’m not happy I’ve spent time doing that, I know why I have. It’s easy to shut down your brain. It’s easy to zone out. It’s easy to consume. But that’s the thing about slow living. It’s hard. It’s deliberate. It’s focused.

For me, slow living is figuring out everything that is important and vital to my existence, and letting the other things fall away.

This realization is one thing, taking action is another.

So for today, I’m starting. I’m taking stock of the things I have time for.

I have time to write. I have time for Chris. I have time for family. I have time for dog walks. I have time for daydreaming. I have time for deep conversations about magic and spirituality. I have time to listen to my favorite records over and over and over. I have time to read poems in the middle of the day because that’s what I need to do. I have time to cook a meal made of real food that won’t put me in the hospital or give me a heart attack.

I’ve been taking stock of privilege lately. I have benefited immensely from the privileges I possess. And yet, I’ve operated as if everything I have will someday be taken away from me. I’ve been overly hungry. I’ve been like Smaug the Dragon laying on my hoard. I’ve been manic. I’ve believed that I needed to work myself to death. I’ve believed that I don’t have time to take care of myself. I’ve believed that I needed all the things that were being sold to me.

This is all fairly woo woo and vague. But if you’re here, then I have to believe that 1.) you know that’s who I am and what I write about, and 2.) you’re here for that.

I’m here for that too. This is what I have time for.

Slow living is what I have time for. Click To Tweet

P.S. The whole time I was writing this, Non-Stop from Hamilton was running through my head.

Have you ever stepped back and wanted to slow down? Why do you write like you’re running out of time? What do you have time for?


11
Oct 16

Why I Can’t Walk My Pit Bull Anymore

Rosie the pit bull and her soccer ball

Yesterday after work, I took Rosie for a quick walk through our neighborhood. Regardless of how many times I put her leash on her, every single time I reach for it, it’s literally the best moment of her life. Seriously, she’s that excited EVERY SINGLE TIME. And that’s fine. I’d like to be able to get that excited about walking, but I pretty much only exhibit that kind of excitement when Chris asks if I want to order a pizza.

Anyway, our neighborhood is a loop, so it’s easy to do a quick walk and wind up right back where we started. So we set off west until we hit the curve and turned south.

It’s worth noting here that the curve is where Rosie, my sweet angel of a pit bull-beagle-boxer mix “sexts” her boyfriend. I mean, not really because she doesn’t have a phone. But there is one specific spot on that curve where she pees every single time. And I like to think she pees there, and then some boy dog leaves her a message back. And since kids don’t pass notes anymore like we did in the 1990s, I’m sure she must be sexting.

After making her mark, we continued around the curve and headed back east. Then, rather than take the full loop around our neighborhood, I picked a street covered in shady trees and we headed back north. And that’s when we came upon Rosie’s playdate.

I had seen him before, since he’s always in the front yard without a leash. He’s definitely a mix breed. If I had to guess, I’d say he is part pit bull, part pony keg. Seriously, this dog is a barrel on four, short legs. And he growls VICIOUSLY.

Now, Rosie is a pit bull, amongst other things, so I make an effort not to judge other pit bulls. In my experience, pits aren’t mean. In fact, they are cuddle beasts. But let’s be real. You have no idea how other people are raising their dogs, and there is a demographic of dog owners who purchase pit bulls for all the wrong reasons.

So, as he growled louder and louder, Rosie tackled him. And that was that. Because they just played like two furry goobers. I wanted to have a panic attack, but I didn’t have to. Luckily, little pit keg is just as good-natured as Rosie. And I wish the story ended there with me and Rosie going home after a fun little wrestle, and pit keg staying at his house. But it didn’t end there, because I got to meet pit keg’s owner.

I looked up and saw pit keg’s owner smilling and walking my way from his garage. On the wall in the garage were no less than two rebel flags, one of which had an AR-15 screenprinted on it with the phrase “If you want it, come and take it.”

Naturally, I assumed he was going to murder me.

“Trigger! Did you find yourself a friend?” He asked as his dog rolled on the ground while Rosie continually tackled him. (She doesn’t know when to quit.)

Of course this man would name a perfectly adorable and sweet pit keg “Trigger.” It’s also worth noting that this man was wearing jeans, black shoes, no shirt, and a hand gun in a holster on his hip. (If you haven’t mentally filled in the blanks with a terrible farmer’s tan and patchy mustache, please do so now.) I don’t know a single person who gets home from work and makes sure they have their open carry weapon on them as they chat with the neighbors, but this dude did.

Anyway, I’m telling you all this because I can’t walk my dog anymore. At least, I can’t walk Rosie in our neighborhood. Because Mr. No Shirt Handgun Farmer’s Tan Creepy Stache wants me to bring Rosie over any time so she can play with Trigger. (Can I rename Trigger something better, like Hector or Buff? He’s not a Trigger.) And if I have to have another conversation with him, there’s a big chance that I’ll ask him if he insists on adorning his person and his home with symbols of over-the-top masculinity because his dick is that small.

And that’s not really something you ask someone with a gun, now is it?