Welcome to Adulting Camp: Which Side Are You On?

“Like a Boss” vs. “Adulting is Hard”: Life in the Modern World

If you believe social media, which you’ll say you don’t but you and I both know that you spend at least three hours a day on there so who are you kidding, how could you not internalize it all?, you likely fall into one of two camps.

The first is Camp Type “A,” where campers frequently shout “Like a boss!!” while fist pumping; live life by bullet journals or tidily organized To Do lists; and probably stay up all night drinking caffeinated gin while sewing their kid’s school play costume with one hand, freelancing with the other and, if they’re really good, having an orgasm at the same time.

The second is Camp Adulting is Hard, and their motto is “Nope.” They’re uncomfortably honest about their failing relationship, the fact that they have literally never gotten their kid to school on time, how early in the day they open the wine bottle, and how disgusting their bathroom is. Continue reading

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The Simple Joy of Going for a Walk

Here’s a value I’d like to instil in the kids: the simple but unfailing joy of going for a walk screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-38-18-pmoutside.

It seems overly simplistic, overly optimistic, easy to brush away as pointless. I know this because unless I’ve gone for a walk recently, I forget just how important it is. But I’m glad that I do know, that my parents valued (and still value) “going for a walk” as a worthwhile pastime and that they passed that value down to me.

I know people who hate to walk. I’m not sure why. (Of course with the exception of ability, assuming that walking is not painful, difficult or impossible for you.) If you are a healthy person with a way of walking comfortably and no health limitations (including mental health) to getting outside and going for a walk, I have to chalk up the dislike of walking to a lack of positive experience. Yes, walking is more work than taking the car. You don’t really seem to accomplish anything, when given a superficial glance. You cover ground, but unless you’re going on an errand, what for? It’s not even much of a workout by most people’s standards.

Maybe if we called it “urban hiking” (or, in the country, just hiking), it would have more legitimacy. I think at the end of the day walking is written off as … too pedestrian (forgive me). We have to walk to get around, at least some of the time, and any of us who are able to walk do so every day. Therefore, it can’t be special.

Like eating.

img_7307I disagree (about both eating and walking, but the issue of eating as a spiritual experience is a different post altogether).

Walking is rewarding for so many reasons, and you don’t need to do it regularly, go anywhere special, or own special shoes for it to be so. It offers that much sought after element of INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

I rarely come back from a walk and say, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t bothered. What a waste of time.” No, basically every time I return from a walk, I’m saying (or thinking), “Wow, I’m really glad I went. I feel so much better now. I didn’t really want to go but that was fantastic.”

Why? Going for a walk, whether it’s for five minutes or an hour or more, offers an unpredictable mix of some or all the following:

  • fresh air – which probably contains more oxygen than the air in your home, and if it’s chilly out, wakes you up.
  • conversation – a walk, like a drive, is a great time to talk to your kids, partner or friends. Even if you’re walking alone, you might find that you run into a neighbour and start chatting. Walking builds community.
  • discovery – finding new amazing things in your neighbourhood
  • exercise – you might even be inspired to work out more!
  • energy
  • inspiration – it’s amazing how getting outside and being active can clear your mind. If there is a problem or project you’re stuck on, a walk can get the gears moving smoothly and bring ideas, solutions and inspiration.
  • bonding – maybe a friend or family member will want to join you!

I’d be well-served taking my own advice – I haven’t been going on many walks lately. What could we all be doing tomorrow to feel just a bit better in general? Going for a walk!

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-46-03-pm

10 Things That Happen When You Become a Hen Mum (or Dad)

  1. Suddenly, watching chickens is better than watching TV. Seriously, you never imagined they could be this amusing! How can a seemingly dumb bird have so much personality?screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-20-41-pm
  2. You find yourself describing to friends how a chicken CAN be cuddly. Especially if you’ve raised them right from the beginning. Even with the claws and the beak, a docile hen can be really nice to hold.
  3. You can no longer order eggs at restaurants. No eggs can ever taste as good as the eggs laid by your backyard chickens. Turns out grass-fed really is better!screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-36-42-pm
  4. You like eggs a lot more than you used to. Sure, eggs are okay. But the eggs out of your own backyard… you want to find a way to eat them at every meal.
  5. You know the difference between a silkie, an araucana, a faverolle and a wyandotte. And you’re always researching online to find out which breeds you want to add to your collection.

    screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-31-15-pm

    Spot the Silver-Grey Dorking, the Araucanas and the Dominiques!

  6. All the girls get chicken-pun names. Princess Laya. Heidi Plume. Bok Bok Choy. (For more funny chicken names, check out this list from hobbyfarms.com.)
  7. You put up a fence around the garden. Either that or you curse your hens for decimating all the greens. Including the beets, which they killed by eating the tops.
  8. You know which foods they like best and which are the most amusing to watch them eat. (My top picks: strawberries and pepper tops with the seeds still attached for their pleasure; spaghetti or popcorn for your own viewing pleasure.)

    ...but you draw the line at letting them eat right out of the kitchen...

    …but you draw the line at letting them eat right out of the kitchen…

  9. You wonder how chickens could be illegal in some cities while dogs are always legal. Your chicken coop smells a lot better than the dog poop in your neighbour’s backyard during spring thaw. And your chickens are quieter than the dog down the street that barks at every passerby!
  10. You can trade free run eggs for almost anything.screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-7-24-08-pm

Highly Recommended: Surfwise (The Amazing True Odyssey of the Paskowitz Family)

I don’t feel like it’s hyperbolic to say that Doc Paskowitz, the main subject of the documentary Surfwise, is a nearly perfect representation of what this blog aims to impart.

Paskowitz was living the American dream, a successful (by all modern definitions) doctor in Hawaii, when he basically made the decision to drop out of society and, after a sabbatical to Israel where he apparently single-handedly started the Tel Aviv surfing scene, took his life on the road with his new wife Juliette.

What followed embodies almost all the ideals I hold highest and would love to see more people buy into, albeit lived out in very different ways than I will ever be able to (read: I can’t surf and don’t want “berries and sticks” for breakfast each day).

Doc and Juliette began their love affair living in a car on the beach, but soon they were pregnant and moved up into an RV. It was the early 60s and they were so countercultural that it’s almost hard to envision where their ideas came from. This was “before Jack Kerouac went on the road,” as the trailer points out.

Living in a 24-foot motorhome, they proceeded to have nine children (all of whom were breastfed for at least two years, because, as Doc implored Juliette, “No child of mine will have any less than a gorilla.”). No, they never did move into a bigger RV, let alone a house. They travelled all around the US and Mexico, surfing every day, eating simply and wholesomely (except for those times when they went hungry for lack of cash), and never receiving a lick of conventional education.

It’s not the specifics that I aspire to. It’s Doc’s realization that we don’t have to adopt any convention thrust upon us by our culture. Though some of his thinking was likely flawed and some of his methods may have backfired (though this is arguable as his family is at least as, if not more, successful and happy as your average North American family), his convictions to keep his children close; raise them to appreciate the beauty of the earth and to have personal discipline; put his family before all else; and to be successful in his marriage (via good sex — his thoughts on this are amusing to witness) are inspiring.

This is my favourite documentary, and I’ve seen a lot of really amazing documentaries. If you homeschool or unschool your children; come from or have created a large family; live on the road or wish to; or dream of divesting from modern society, it will appeal to your imagination.

It’s hard to find, but is available on American Netflix, as well as American iTunes and Amazon (.com and .ca). You can also check your local library!

Day 16 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Daily Meditation

I like what this post (#19) had to suggest regarding meditation, because meditation is one of the things I put near the top of my priority list (along with yoga, running and writing, the three other things I basically never do) but have a hard time fitting in. This suggestion is a really workable approach.

Here’s what they say:

“What follows is more a mindfulness exercise, but one that is incredibly effective: Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. And think of your five senses. Touch: what can you feel at this very moment? Taste: what can you taste right now? Sound: what can you hear? Smell: can you smell anything? Sight: what do you see in front of you? Be specific and really explore your senses. Slowly take stock of each of them – one by one.”

Right now, I can…

FEEL that it must be about 23 degrees Celsius in this gym. Good thing I got enough sleep last night (thanks melatonin!) or I’d be dozing off. I can also feel the hard bench under my bum, and my wool socks are itching a bit around the cuff.

TASTE a bit of an aftertaste from the green onions I had on my chicken wrap. I am thankful right now that I didn’t use red or white onions!

HEAR gymnastics coaches speaking loudly, kids squealing, parents chatting and beams & trampolines & the vault pounding, bouncing and vibrating.

SMELL nothing much, but a faint smell of lavender from the Oh! Baby Body Lotion I just put on my hands. (ALERT: Shameless plug! I work there and love their stuff!)

SEE about three dozen parents browsing on their smart phones and gossiping with one another. Below the viewing deck where we’re all sitting, I can see some jumping, tumbling and balancing going on.

The only issue with this is remembering to do it each day! I love the idea of working more mindfulness into my life (and I like to use different ways of doing this), but with any of the methods, it is a matter of remembering to do them. I need to build the habit! For now, I am going to write FEEL, TASTE, HEAR, SMELL, SEE on the palm of my hand to help myself remember.

Meditation written on hand

Other ways I try to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into my routine? Savasana before and after yoga class (or for an even deeper zen feeling, Yin class); trail running (as mentioned though, I haven’t done that for a while — hoping this month marks my return); free writing; sitting quietly in the woods; visualization before going to sleep or after waking up (I use exercises from The Best Meditations on The Planet).

Tomorrow, I’m going to employ Kanban boards in my writing practice – I’ve got the poster board all ready to go!

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Day 14 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Limit Communications

I love limiting communications! For someone with a communications degree, I sure dislike communication. I hate phone calls the most. Emails are next. Followed by Facebook messages, then voicemails, and finally text messages. I mostly love in-person interactions. But sometimes I run away and hide behind an end-cap before they can start.

The original tip comes from, again Paleo Mama, on her 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life post. Such a great post! She said:

“Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it.”

I love it! Yes please! This is a work in progress but I’m happy to keep working on it. I used to always have both of my email accounts running in the background all day while I worked. I’d hear that “ping!” and immediately go check the new message.

Now I’ve identified the best times for me to check the different emails. Usually that means I check them all before 9 am (takes less than 5 minutes, most days), and then each of them again in the afternoon (this one often takes longer for some accounts but I’m on the clock, pay-wise, for most of this time).

I only check Facebook messages once a day, in the late afternoon, and voicemails, if I get them, are for the evening. I generally avoid phone calls but when I do have to make one they are scheduled into work hours (freelance), so I don’t really count those. Any calls for appointments are made on homeschooling days after Neko’s done her work.

I highly recommend this tip. If anything, it has helped with the nagging anxiety I find I get from always having messages coming in.

Tomorrow I will EAT a FROG. No not really. But I’ll be trying a tip called “Eat That Frog,” and I’m pretty excited about it. Stay tuned.

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Day 13 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Cook Ground Beef in the Slow Cooker

Another one I’m skeptical of. I’m actually pretty skeptical of a lot of things involving the slow cooker. I don’t make much in mine, aside from the odd soup on a day that I’ll need dinner ready when I get home. Oh, and black beans – it’s handy for cooking dried beans (then I freeze them in quantities of two cups).

Also, the photo for this tip on the original blog post is quite off-putting. Hence, I am not including a photo. You can all imagine what a crockpot full of raw ground beef looks like; and then, a crockpot full of cooked ground beef – right?

Well, I wouldn’t say this one is a gamechanger. But it did save me from standing over a greasy stove for half an hour or longer, cooking six pounds of ground beef in a frying pan… wait. What on earth would I even put six pounds of ground beef into? My Le Creuset French oven, I suppose (oh my, that sounded snooty – she’s a loaner, folks!).

All in all, this was indeed easier than cooking all this ground beef on the stovetop, and once it was cooked, I put it into freezer bags in 1-2 lb portions and then used it for meat sauce, tacos and chili.

Okay, fine… this was a winner. I’ll do it again.

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Day 12 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Prep Your Smoothies

As mentioned, I was skeptical of this one. The idea is to combine all the fruits and veggies in the quantities which you’ll need them, and then freeze together. But since we make smoothies that also include fish oil, water kefir, chia and hemp seeds and fresh fruit, it didn’t seem like this step would save us much time. Turns out I was wrong!

This tip comes from PopSugar‘s “DIY Smoothie Packs” post. The claim? “You can prep a whole week’s worth on Sunday night so a nutritious fiber- and protein-packed breakfast is just minutes away. It’s a great way to not only ensure a healthy start to your day, but you’ll save money since you can buy greens and fruit in bulk and won’t have to worry about them spoiling by the end of the week. Aim to use your smoothie freezer bags within a few weeks to avoid freezer burn.”

Well in fact, this was great timing! We are drinking green smoothies for breakfast every day, which means every morning one of us spends about 15 minutes gathering a couple different kinds of frozen berries and usually another frozen fruit (mangoes, peaches or pineapple); juice, coconut water, water or water kefir; hemp and chia seeds; spinach or lettuce; fish oil; as well as a fresh banana and avocado; then mixing those all up in the blender. The reason I was skeptical was that the frozen ingredients were such a small part of this equation. But this turned out to save us a lot of time!

Here’s what went into each large freezer bag: one banana, at least two cups of spinach (making it easier to buy large quantities of organic spinach and store without it getting slimy), a handful of raspberries or pineapple, and berries or other fruit to fill.

In the morning, we dump the bag in, add chia and hemp seeds (which we have pre-mixed in small jars near the blenders – less thinking!), measure out 2 tsp of flavoured fish oil (by NutraSea), carve out half an avocado and finally dump in at least half a pint jar of water kefir, which is also stored right by the blender, where it sits to ferment. It’s still a lot of steps, but now it takes 5 minutes or less. This is great!

Not the best photo, but aren't the colours pretty?

Not the best photo, but aren’t the colours pretty?

The easiest way is to make smoothies for breakfast on Sunday, and prep all the bags for the week at the same time. Healthy breakfasts for the week – check!

Tomorrow I’ll cook ground beef in the slow cooker. No photos, I promise!

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Day 11 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Set a Timer

Before I even start, let me just say that I love this one! It’s not like it’s a new idea, but it’s definitely one I should be using daily. It’s easy to get distracted or perform tasks less efficiently than you could, or just work on things (say, cleaning the bedroom. Or weeding the garden.) for a longer period of time than you need to.

This tip comes from the blog Living Well Spending Less, in a great post entitled 10 Tips for Getting More Done Every Single Day. Ruth lays out some great tips here, especially (in my opinion) for stay-at-home or work-at-home moms. So check it out!

By User:S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Staying true to my strategy thus far, I chose one tip from the post, and it was “Set the timer.” Ruth says:

“Setting the timer can be one of the best ways to motivate yourself.  For instance, if you give yourself only 30 minutes to tidy your house, you will most likely get more cleaned in less time than if you weren’t racing against the clock.

Limiting your time on seemingly endless tasks like email and Facebook helps a lot too.  If you only have 15 minutes to sit at the computer, then you have no choice to prioritize.  Likewise, setting the timer helps accomplish tasks you might normally procrastinate, such paying the bills.  Telling yourself you only have to do it for 45 minutes is powerful motivation to get it done.”

So basically I love this strategy and I hereby endeavour to use this simple tip to help me with everything – like she says, even time-wasters like Facebook. Today I used it for work. I have estimated times for each task in my To Do list, and I used those times to set limits for myself today as I worked from home. I checked clients’ social media accounts more quickly, I gave myself half an hour to write something personal, I was super-efficient checking my email and as for the tasks where my time estimate was way off? I either gave myself a more realistic limit based on how long it had taken so far, or moved on to something else and changed the estimate in my To Do list for when I have to do that task again in the future.

And of course I LOVE this for cleaning and chores! I can clean anything for 5-10 minutes!

Tomorrow I’ll prep my smoothies for the next week. I’m a bit skeptical and there are dry goods, liquid, frozen fruit and fresh veggies that need to go in there so it’s four different things to prep, but we’ll see!

Check out the Pinterest board for this series.

Image credit: S Sepp (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Days 9 and 10 of 28 Days to Simplify My Life a la Pinterest: Read Walden and Check the Week’s Forecast

As suggested by The Paleo Mama in her post, 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life, I started reading Walden on Day 9. I already owned it as I’ve meant to read it forever. Henry David Thoreau seems to be my kindred spirit – I would love to live in a cabin in the woods for two years. Growing up, I always said I’d like to grow up to be a hermit in the mountains. Of course as I grew older I realized that I’m a study in contrasts – while I would still love to live as a hermit, the options are a) hermit deep in the country or b) living in the action in the city. Suburbs, small towns, acreages on the edge of the city, not so much my thing. So the city wins, but if it were just me all on my own, I’d probably be hunkered down in the woods. For at least part of the year.

It remains to be seen what Walden will teach me about simplifying my life, and chances are it’ll take me a while to read this, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy ruminating on what Thoreau has to say.

Walden

On Day 10, I took another suggestion from the previously quoted Perrie Samotin on Stylecaster and planned a week’s worth of outfits according to the forecast.

This worked well in that it took any planning time out of my outfits, and out of packing for a night away at Justan’s mom’s place, however I’m not convinced yet that this outfit planning is helping me any. I think this is mainly because at least 3-4 days of my week are spent mostly at home. I rarely have to rush out of the house in the morning. Therefore, I’m taking up precious nighttime minutes when I generally watch funny shows, write, have a bath or do yoga, with outfit planning. Alternatively, I could be spending five minutes in my unhurried morning, when I don’t feel like doing those things, or can’t justify them, picking out my clothes. I have a feeling the more general, big-picture tips I’ve seen on Pinterest about purging and simplifying your wardrobe to make your favourite outfits more obvious and accessible are more helpful to someone in my situation.

Also, I’m sometimes known to spend a couple days at a time in yoga pants and a tank top. So there’s that.

Tomorrow I’ll try setting a timer for my work tasks. I like the looks of this tip – I think it will help me stay focused on each task and ultimately get things done more efficiently!

Find the Pinterest board with all these tips and more here.