Several things have happened lately that have inspired me to begin making some big changes in my life… (this is a humongous post, so I’ll wait while you grab a cup of tea or a snack to help you get through it).
A few weeks ago, Dave and I watched Captain Fantastic and it really struck a chord with me. It reminded me of a life I once imagined myself living. Okay, maybe not as extremely off-grid and anti-society as the family in the movie, but I can definitely relate to that mindset.
I’ve always felt very passionate about the environment, about art and music and reading everything I can get my hands on. Yet, over the years I’ve lost some of that drive… this movie reminded me to be proud of feeling the need to march to the beat of my own drum, and to “Stick it to the Man!”
Inspired by the movie, Dave and I got talking about how much we look forward to being able to buy a piece of land and have our own little homestead someday. One of the things that came up in our conversation was how I envision having a quaint little art and writing studio where I can spend my days spewing out creativity in some way or another.
The next day when I got home from work, Dave had written me a long note, in which he said that we should turn our spare bedroom into a studio. (As opposed to the studio/computer room/cat room/laundry room/all-the-junk-we-can’t-fit-anywhere-else-room we currently had).
Obviously, I agreed, and we proceeded to spend Memorial Day weekend doing just that. (Woo hoo!)
The Five Second Rule
The weekend after Dave and I watched Captain Fantastic, I drove up to Vermont to visit my mom. On the way, I listened to Mel Robbins’ Audiobook The Five Second Rule, which, despite being rather repetitive and long-winded, actually had some positive effect on my mindset.
The whole premise of her book is that the five seconds after you get the urge or idea to do something are the most critical. If you don’t take action during that time, you’ve missed the window of opportunity and the activation energy required to actually DO it dissipates.
She said to think of a space shuttle launch countdown: “Five, four, three, two, one – blast off!’, and then do whatever it is you need to do. Anything from picking up the phone to make a difficult call, or walking across a bar to talk to someone you find attractive, you can mentally think “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!” and then go do it.
The part of her story that I most related to was when she talked about going through a really difficult and stressful time in her life. In the mornings, she would keep hitting the snooze button to avoid facing all her problems. Some days it was so bad that her kids would miss the bus and be late for school because she wasn’t up in time to feed and dress them and usher them out the door.
I could relate to this pretty intensely. I’ve struggled with getting up in the morning for most of my life. Since high school, I’ve been setting at least two alarms, just in case I didn’t really feel like getting up the first time, I’d could have the option of sleeping for another half hour or so. Then, I would hit the snooze button liberally on top of that.
By the time I would manage to roll out of bed, I’d be so sleepy and groggy it would take me ages to feel coherent. I would slowly get myself ready for the day – taking way more time than I should have, and even then, sometimes forgetting to brush my teeth after breakfast, or put on any jewelry, or – worse case scenario – wear something that didn’t actually match. Mornings were not my friend.
Over the years, many people – especially Dave – have offered me advice. Go to bed earlier, get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, think of something to excite you about the day, etc. etc. But, thanks my own lack of real concern on the issue, it was never resolved.
For some reason, Mel’s words about her own snooze-button lifestyle were so familiar to me, and so unpleasant a reality, that I really took to heart what she said. Especially when she pointed out some facts about sleep cycles, and that, if you don’t get up right away, your body will try to cycle back into deep sleep, which means when the alarm goes off again, you’re in an even worse state and even less enthusiastic about getting out of bed.
The craziest thing about all of this, is that the Monday after listening to the book, my alarm went off, and I opened my eyes and got up out of that bed before I even knew what hit me. Strangely, I have not thought to use the “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off” for anything else in my life. I don’t know if it will come to me at some pivotal moment, or if all I really got from the book was to stop being a lazy f*** and just get up when the alarm goes off.
Even if that’s all I get from it – that is a huge thing for me. My middle name is Lazy F***.
The Self Journal
Confession: I love stationery. I love calendars and planners and crisp, blank pages to write upon. I have used (and stopped using) so many planners in my life, it’s an embarrassment to admit.
So what’s different about this one? Well, click the photo above and watch their video for the full story. Sidenote: What kind of accent does the woman have?
I’ve only been using it for about two weeks now, but I like it because it’s helping me stick to daily routines without getting overwhelmed with tons of goals and projects. I also like that it has areas for gratitude for both morning and night, as well as areas to reflect on what went well and where you struggled, so you can reflect and make little changes each day. It only takes a few minutes each morning and evening to do it all.
I know, I know. I’ve quit Facebook before. But this time it’s legit. In the past, as far as I know, you couldn’t 100% delete your account – only deactivate it. But now, you can delete it completely. And so I have done. Actually, it’s been a week and a half since I pulled the plug. Not that I’m counting.
Just kidding – obviously I’m counting!
For a while, I had an app on my phone called Moment, which lets you see how much screen time you spend on all the different apps. I was using Facebook for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours (omg!) every day. Of course it wasn’t like I ever said “Today I’d like to spend 45 minutes on Facebook.” It was just a quick check here, a quick check there, a quick check turning into a 20 minute zone-out of scrolling through my feed, or of clicking on someone’s cousins’ sister’s wedding photos just because I could.
I’ve known for a long time that FB has been a time-suck for me. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t get into it here, but considering all the other things I’ve written about in today’s post – I knew I wouldn’t be able to make good progress if I kept letting myself be distracted by Facebook.
Couch to 5K
Last, but not least, I’ve committed to getting comfortable with running. I’ve always wanted to run, but whenever I would try it out, I would quickly become winded and have to slow down to catch my breath. I’d be embarrassed too, thinking that all my neighbors and people driving by in their cars must be looking at me and laughing at my weakness. (Because, you know, everyone’s looking at me all the time!).
A few years ago, I heard about a running program called Couch to 5K. I downloaded the free app and gave it a whirl. At the time, it was the middle of winter, and the combination of waking up in the dark, and trying to run outside in the cold was just too much for me, so I gave up after about the third try.
Perhaps it is my rapidly approaching 37th birthday, the fact that I can no longer wear light-colored dress pants without thigh-smoothing undergarments, or the realization that my belly has started to literally drape over the top of my pants, but lately, I am feeling pretty motivated to get in better shape.
My first day, I was so impressed with myself that I was actually able to complete the entire routine (alternating running for 1 minute and walking for 1.5 minutes for a total of 20 minutes). Toward the end I was really eager to quit running, but I kept pushing myself and I was euphoric with the fact that I didn’t give up!
This morning, I rose early and hit the rail trail and cranked out the 6th day of the C25K app. It’s still not easy for me to run more than a very short time without getting winded, but I am trying to be patient with myself. At this point I can’t even imagine what it will feel like to run for 20 minutes without needing to stop and walk to catch my breath, but I am determined that this is the summer I will find out.
I think that about covers everything that’s been going on in my brain for the last few weeks*. I am currently writing this from my new studio/writing center. It still needs some organizing, but I should be able to get busy drawing and writing again very soon.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve quit Facebook and lived to tell about it, and/or if you’ve learned to love running. I expect that I will someday – after all, I’ve loved walking for basically my whole life. It’s just time to take it to the next level.
*Actually, I have also been thinking about the following:
- Chris Cornell’s untimely death and his impressive musical legacy.
- How can I make a living from my art and/or writing?
- Why do people in Connecticut drive like such douchebags?
- Why is it so hard for me to go to bed before 10pm?