You Know What I Don’t Care About?

I don’t care about “You know what I don’t care about?” posts on social media.

They are obnoxious, and they’re also annoyingly common.

You know the ones… Continue reading

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Hey Guys! Did You Know…? 6 am Is An Actual Time!

I have a confession to make. Andi and I are trying this new thing, with the aim of changing our lives — being more productive, having more energy and generally feeling like we have forward momentum.

The new thing is … getting up every day at 6 am.

Everyone who is reading this and has ever met me just stopped reading right there because they know I’m lying.

I have never in my life gotten up before 7:30 am. Not when I had 8 am German class in college. Not when I had a newborn, or a toddler. Not when I was on a fitness craze in my twenties. Not for any job, ever. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten up before 7:30 am; two of them were for television appearances and three were for international flights.

But it’s true. As completely as outlandish as this is, we really are getting up at 6 am each day.

HOW COULD THIS BE?!

If you’ve ever witnessed the pathetic, whining mess that is Lindsay in the morning, it seems impossible. I’m just not even willing to entertain the possibility of getting up even five minutes earlier than I absolutely must.

I have one person to blame, and her name is Renee.

Renee is completely lovely, and she accomplishes a lot. She is a good friend of Andi’s. She homeschools three kids, is an incredibly talented (and versatile) musician, runs a business out of her home (teaching Suzuki music lessons) and manages several rental properties with her husband. Basically, she’s inspiring. And she never has that harried, desperate vibe of someone who has way too much on their plate. She’s calm. She seems happy.

So, recently, Andi asked her how she does it. Yeah, yeah, that’s apparently a dirty phrase… “How does she do it?” I’ve read plenty of articles online proclaiming “You just do it because you have to!!” Well, fair enough. But I don’t think that does justice to people who manage to accomplish a lot. They actually do have strategies, and habits for being efficient, happy, accomplished. They do things like set goals, make time for themselves, give back, and honestly I’m not too sure what else because I’m still aspiring to be one of them. I do believe there is value in asking “How do you do it?,” if we ask in the right way. Taking the best life tips of someone we admire and wish to emulate is just good sense.

So when Renee told us that the key to her life balance is getting up at 6 am, consistently, we were willing to listen, even though we were extremely resistant to the idea.

We spent an afternoon talking with her about our goals and challenges, and the conversation just kept coming back to the 6 am idea.

“How do we balance making enough money at our current jobs, with moving in the direction of our bigger goals?”

(Getting up at 6 am will give you more time in the day and allow you to strategize and therefore be more efficient in moving toward your goals.)

“How do we find time to work out?”

(Work out at 6 am.)

And so on. Waking up at 6 am was the answer to every question!

We left that day, about three weeks ago, convinced. The next morning, we were going to attempt to get up at 6 am. Well, we did. And with the exception of our business trip to Vegas (seriously) and a couple weekend mornings when we’ve let ourselves sleep in (usually until 8 or 9), we have been doing it every day since.

It goes like this.

The guru who prescribes this, Robin Sharma (though he says you should get up at 5 am — but who does that?! Come on, there has to be a line.), outlines a 20-20-20 formula for general success. He says that you should spend the first 20 minutes of your day exercising. The next 20 minutes are spent learning, ideally about something that pertains to one of your current goals. This can be through reading a book or article, or listening to a podcast or audiobook. Technically you could even do the workout and listen to a podcast or audiobook at the same time. The final 20 minutes are spent writing. I think you’re supposed to write about your dreams and goals. Frankly I’m still getting the hang of all this and we’ve been more focused on the getting out of bed and doing something part than adhering strictly to any plan. It doesn’t seem like it would be helpful to try to do everything perfectly right off the bat and then beat ourselves up for doing it not-quite-right.

So, we made a morning movement plan. Andi has been doing yoga or strength training each morning, and even a bit of hooping. I decided right off the bat that if I was going to get my ass out of bed at 6 am, it would need to be for something enticing. For me, that is getting outside. I knew the fresh, cold air would wake me up, and I always love to get outside (and it’s something I don’t always do often enough). It worked! Each morning the thought of going outside gets me out of bed. It seems unlikely — what’s appealing about stepping out into the freezing cold darkness before anyone else in the neighbourhood is up and about? I’m not sure. This is so not like me, and I can’t explain it. But I will tell you that most morning at 6 am, if the sky is clear, I can see a very bright planet right beneath a very bright star in the eastern sky. That’s something I hadn’t even known was there. And now I’m running in the morning instead of walking, and it makes me feel great. When I get back to the house I’m awake, feeling optimistic (a welcome change from my usual morning anxiety), and ready for step two: learning.

This is another thing we have to look forward to. We each pick out a podcast the night before, and we each have a list of podcasts that are engaging and get us thinking first thing in the morning. This American Life, Radiolab, 99% Invisible — these are some of our favourites. I am now reading in the morning — my library book on building a writer platform. This gets me inspired for the day. I’ve also put a couple of audiobooks on hold at the library and I’m excited to try those in the morning.

Last comes writing. We don’t necessarily write for 20 minutes (nor at the same time). Sometimes we scrimp on this. This was actually the greatest struggle for me for the first couple of weeks at least. What do you write about at 6:40 in the morning? My hopes and dreams? At that time of day I don’t even know what to eat for breakfast, let alone what I want out of life! Renee said that what matters is to just write, even if it’s a list of all the reasons you want to go back to bed. I have tried writing my goals for the day (not a to do list, but the positive things I hoped to accomplish); reasons the day would be great; gratitude lists; and pages of complaints. Renee told us it would get better with time, and it has. With each passing day, the morning process gets more clear and feels more productive.

I’ve now started the Artists Way 12-week program which includes daily Morning Pages (three pages of free writing in longhand), so I’ve been doing that for my writing component.

So why do we like this so much? Why do we keep doing it? Every day I wonder whom I’ve become, and how I’m doing it. But I am, we are, and we are dedicated to it. We haven’t even had to struggle with it (aside from the first couple of days for me)! Here are the things that we’ve noticed keep us going:

  • We really do have more energy for the rest of the day. Yes, some days I’m tired, or sleepy, especially in the afternoon. But even when I’m sleepy, I’m more energized overall. I’m not dopey or unmotivated like I was before. If I’m sleepy, I can have a 20 minute nap — and feel completely justified!
  • We are eating better. We eat a healthy breakfast around 9:30 am (until then we might have a banana or piece of toast if needed, and a cup of tea or coffee), then a small lunch, and a reasonable supper. We usually don’t get around to an evening snack because bedtime comes too quickly. Big change from last winter’s habit of nightly nachos! I do need to start remembering to have a spoonful of almond butter or something before bed, to take the edge off at 6 am.
  • We’re moving more efficiently toward our goals. We are finding time and inspiration for the things we want to accomplish. We’re getting clear on what we want our future to look like.
  • There is a definite ripple effect as Renee promised. We don’t really have to think too hard about where to go next because the ideas and goals are just sort of coming naturally.
  • Suddenly we like mornings and we look forward to getting up! This is nuts to me.
  • My morning anxiety is mostly gone. It used to keep me in bed for up to an hour after I’d initially wake up then often plague me until lunch. I rarely have anxiety in the mornings now.

Are you a night owl who has learned to love mornings? Why and how did you do it?

Sneaking the Sneakers

I had a simple but genius idea last night for any parents out there (us included) who might be dealing with teenagers who sneak out. This is especially an issue right now as it’s summer in Canada and so for about two months of the year, sneaking out at night is far more physically possible. If you’re not Canadian, this is the part where you picture trying to open a basement window that has two feet of snow piled against it, and digging your way out only to be subjected to gale force winds driving tiny blades of ice into your face. You’re out of the house but you’ll likely have frostbite before you get to the party, and there certainly isn’t anywhere hospitable in any park to go make out with your boyfriend/girlfriend. This is the reality for at least six months of the year for most Canadian teens. Hence, June-September is the only time we parents really need to think about the possibility of a middle-of-the-night jailbreak.

Anyway, the other night one of ours snuck out. He confessed the next day thanks to a mix-up which caused him to think he’d been found out, but we don’t want it happening again, obviously. Last night, he had friends sleeping over again. We were about to go to sleep around midnight and of course they were all still up. How would we know if they tiptoed out at 2 am?

AHA! I had an answer.

We took all their shoes (and Justan’s, as his feet are the same size) and hid them in our bedroom without telling them.

Sure, they could still sneak out. But if they did, we could rest assured that they’d be might uncomfortable.

I, for one, slept a lot better last night thinking about their cold feet (bonus: it was raining).

What do you do in your house to prevent kids sneaking out? I’ve never dealt with this in the city – I grew up in the country so I either had to have someone park quietly at the end of the driveway with their headlights off, or I’d be stuck walking (starting my own car would have been far too obvious). In the city they can just quietly leave and run to each other’s houses! This city business is bullshit in a lot of ways if you ask me.

Tonight I Ran Instead of Writing

Well, at least when I was done I had a big breakthrough on the rewrite of my novel, so I’m excited about that. The thing about running (or exercise in general) is that it’s necessary for inspiration and brain function, and yet tonight it used up my writing time. How does one find time to run *and* write?

Let’s Talk About Anxiety and Ovulation

It’s been about a week since I posted in my “28 Days to Simplify Your Life a la Pinterest” series. I even had some of the posts pre-written and ready to publish! What happened was that last week on Tuesday, I was sick with some weird 12-hour bug. Pukey stomach, bad headache, and generally not feeling well. I felt better the next day but then on Thursday, I was struck down with crippling anxiety and near-panic attacks. It was terrible. I’m pretty sure this happens to me once a month, but it doesn’t happen every single month, and I haven’t been keeping track lately. Generally what it looks like is that I spend the day crying, as in the tears just roll out of my eyes and I can’t actually stop them. Sometimes that escalates into a panic attack, if I’m triggered by something (what might trigger me changes, but a sure bet seems to be something overwhelming, like scheduling problems). It sucks no matter what (obviously?), but it’s especially awkward when it’s my one day of the week to go in to the office and the thought of skipping work for the day just makes the anxiety worse. So then I stay at work but try to hide my emotional state all day, which I’m sure doesn’t really work.

The next day, magically, I’m always fine. A little emotionally hungover, but otherwise totally fine. It usually takes at least a couple of days to recover though, in that I have to rearrange my To Do list and get caught up on all the things I let slide that day.

Which is why I haven’t posted in a few days. Between the weird illness and the terrible emotional day, it’s taken me a few days to get back on track, and home and work life took precedent over the blog.

However, the incredibly anxious day on Thursday brought something interesting to my attention. Well really it was what happened on Friday morning that brought it to my attention: I had ovulation symptoms (the state of my cervical mucous, to be specific, though I don’t generally love using those words on my blog). I usually suspect my extreme emotions, when not tied to an obvious life event, are tied to my cycle. And I know this would not be the first time I’ve had a severe low that coincided with the egg dropping.

I’ll be tracking my cycle and moods for the next few weeks to confirm, but for now it seems like a strong theory.

Of course I Googled “ovulation anxiety” – and guess what? A ton of forum posts came up with women reporting a similar pattern. There was also a scholarly article entitled “The Complex Interrelationships of Menstrual Cyclicity and Anxiety Disorders” which is really interesting, and on which I would love to see some follow-up.

I find it shocking, and yet not, that this seems to be a relatively common thing and yet it’s virtually unheard of. Have you ever experienced severe anxiety or panic attacks that coincide with your ovulation? Have you seen your doctor about it? Did they offer you any advice or solutions?

I’ll be mentioning this to my doctor in January after I tracked things for a bit. I don’t have a lot of hope for Western medical solutions, but I’ll see him about it. I’m looking at a whole host of possible options, from diet, to herbs, to medication, to acupuncture. I’m also open to other ideas. One day a month isn’t too bad as far as a panic disorder goes (note: I have not been diagnosed with a panic disorder. I’m referring to what my symptoms seem to resemble.), but given how screwed up that one day is, it would be great to figure this out!

And now back to our regularly-scheduled blogging.

Mid-Month Dressember Slump

Ouch, pretty bad couple of days. Yesterday was really tough, as we had to bus to childcare and then I had to get from there to work, and then another bus adventure at the end of the day. At least that was the plan. I really wanted to wear a dress but, very long story with a lot of calculations short, I decided the easiest way to make the schedule work in the morning would be for me to run from where I was dropping Neko off, to my store. So…. I needed to wear something that I could run in, without any extra pieces to carry, warm enough for below freezing temperatures and layers so I could take off the inner, sweaty layers when I got to work and not stink all day.

I came up with tights, covered by tights, covered by yoga pants, with wool socks, a tank top with a built-in bra, a long-sleeved tee-shirt, and a light dress. And a light running jacket. Needless to say, I looked… interesting.

Dress: Joe // Shirt: Calvin Klein (Winners) // Pants: Karma // Shoes: Saucony

Yep, that’s right, there’s my entry for Running Dress.

It gets worse. I’ve been so tired this week, I haven’t put any effort into the outfits. I apologize to all you proper Dressemberists out there. I hope it’s just a mid-month slump, and that today I’ll be back on my game.

Dress: No label, Value Village // Shirt: Suzy Shier // Jeans: Lucky

Dressember Day #11

Visited a heritage breed show today. Neko and I loved the petting zoo and spent a lot of time cuddling ducks, hens, kids and bunnies. A little Polish hen made friends and snuggled me for about 20 minutes.

Here is today’s ensemble (comfy and warm for traveling), with a miniature donkey.

Dress: 725 (clothing swap) // Sweater: clothing swap (no label) // Tights: left at my house after a Rubik’s Cube party (yes, really) // Shoes: El Naturalista

Dressember Day #7: Whirling Wednesday

Today I wore another one of a few work-safe dresses I had to pinpoint for the month. Some of my dresses either aren’t dressy enough, aren’t conducive to demonstrating baby carriers, or are just plain too short or too low cut, so I had to choose my work-day dresses first.

This, incidentally, is one of my favourites.

Dress: Bellissima Petite // Shoes: Mantles // Both via clothing swaps

The nice people of the Dressember Facebook page tell me that today is Whirling Wednesday, so that explains the above photo. And yes, I do always make that face when I whirl.

Dressember Day #6: A Woolen Tragedy

Today I wore one of my favourite dresses; a cute taupe wool piece that I bought myself at Portabello Arts Market for my 28th birthday. It’s by a Vancouver designer, Cici, and is great for work in the winter.

Well, you may remember from my first post regarding Dressember that I store my dresses hanging from a pipe in the basement. As it turns out (and I had never really noticed this before), the duct that runs adjacent to the pipe is a heat duct, and it gets quite hot. Apparently, my lovely little wool dress was up against this duct for a period of time. The result?

Yep, major heat damage. I’m going to attempt to dye the whole thing, but that’s not happening this month, so I wore it today anyway and recycled yesterday’s emerald shrug. I was cooking at work! Oops, I mean, I don’t work in a kitchen – I was really warm. And, consequently, dopey.

Dress: Cici (Vancouver) // Shrug: Gilmore // Tights: Army and Navy. I don’t recommend buying your tights at Army and Navy; these are crap. // Boots: a reappearance of the Paris cheapies