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

28 Days to Simplify My Life… a la Pinterest

I’ve spent the past couple of years in a series of major transitions, something that I have to remind myself of fairly regularly. I beat myself up a lot, or feel down about some of the things I haven’t been doing lately. I haven’t gardened since 2012; I haven’t felt my love of canning since 2012; I’ve stopped running now because my knees have started crunching (I know what I need to do to remedy the situation and start a moderate running schedule again, but I haven’t done it yet); and I’ve barely been writing at all. Meanwhile, Neko and I have moved in with Andi and her kids (Justan mostly has as well, but he insists on keeping the other small house because it’s clean and quiet, unlike a house with a bunch of kids in it); I’ve switched jobs; I’ve taken on a parenting role to a few more kids; and we’ve embarked on this new relationship which doesn’t exactly have a roadmap (I’ve looked in the Relationship section at Chapters for the Triad book, with no luck… which means I’ll just have to write it).

Of course, life is a series of transitions. I don’t mean to make excuses. But I also think that I need to remember what I am doing and not focus too much on the things I’m not currently doing. Just because I barely canned a thing this year doesn’t mean I never will again or that I’ve forgotten how. It’s been heartening to feel the urge to write again, very recently. I’ve set up an office and workspace for Andi and myself, and it’s gorgeous. I want to be in it all the time (I’m in it right now, listening to Basia Bulat, sipping red wine and sniffing the bergamot and jasmine diffusing on the desk).

IMG_3838 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Part of my struggle now is setting up new routines and habits for myself within this new life. I find myself wasting a lot of time wondering what to do, where to sit or work, and getting distracted by laundry, dishes, and all those messes that the kids are constantly making. I make endless lists to organize myself – To Do lists, grocery lists, schedules, meal plans, workout regimes, learning plans for homeschooling… Some of them are helpful and they stick. Others get relegated to the List Pile. I look at those again later and think, “Boy, that was a good idea!”

And every day I kick myself for not working out, not writing, not focusing well enough on homeschooling Neko. Every day I pick out the ways that things could have run more efficiently. I could have premade the components of that meal, or realized there wouldn’t be enough time to cook it in the evening before the kids (and we adults) became rangy. I could have spent less time doing laundry and more time working for money. Items get shuffled to the next day or later on the To Do list. I revisit all the other plans and adapt them.

Lately, one of my tasks at one of my jobs (in wholesale sales for a local skincare company) has been developing and managing social media profiles. Most recently, I set up and propagated our Pinterest page. I spent hours and hours slogging through the Pinterest pages of our clients and repinning. And then saving some pieces just for my personal page. After a while, I started to notice all the pins about productivity, efficiency, time management, life hacks and money- and time-saving techniques. I wondered, “Do any of these actually work? Do they make a measurable difference? Does anyone try these, or do they pin them, feel better about their life, and go have a beer?”

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time - Pin

29 Morning Shortcuts That Will Save You Time – Pin

Well, lord knows I could use some more time, be a little more efficient, use more time for things I love (right now I’d love to add 15 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation to each day). I’d love to spend as little time as possible tidying, washing dishes and doing laundry and spend more time creating freely, walking in the woods and, well, taking baths, really.

So here is what I propose. I am going to spend the next 28 days testing some of the techniques I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Each day, I will try something new. Some are recipes or kitchen hacks. Some are work habits. Some are cleaning tips. When I try a new daily habit, I will do it for the remainder of the 28 days. Each day, I’ll report back on the results.

I need to disclose a few things, first. For one thing, I am already a pretty organized person. I’m a Virgo (there I go again with my crazy astrology talk!). I make lists, I make schedules, I make meal plans and fitness dates and then I get claustrophobic and overwhelmed and my Libra side rebels by hiding from it all and doing nothing scheduled or planned for weeks at a time. But the lists and plans are always there, easy to find, ready to pick up again (I’ve built in parameters for this rebellion, you see).

I use a GSD (oops, I mean GTD… Getting Things Done. Please disregard my own personal version…) system on Remember the Milk. I obsessively log everything there, from my grocery list to my car registration to homeschooling events to work tasks. I check it constantly. Until I don’t check it for six months. But the beauty of the system is that it takes less than an hour to bring it up to speed after that long gap.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk - organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

My To Do list on Remember the Milk – organized using a GTD system. AKA my lifeline.

I make meal plans. I’m not strict about them, but I do use them to build my grocery lists.

I do practice several habits which I ran across again and again as I went through the pins on time and space management, including purging my closet often, meal planning, making lists, prioritizing my lists, and quick, efficient tidies. Because of all this, there will be several fundamental tips that I will not be testing. It dawned on me as I curated the tips that I’m starting from a pretty good base here.

I have, however, picked out 28 tips to try. I can’t wait to see which ones stick! If I can find time for yoga, walking or running, and writing by the end of the month, I will be so happy.

Watch tomorrow for the first post: Before you get up each morning, set an intent for the day. Pin here, Blog post here.

And please feel free to follow the dedicated board for this post! I will add the source pins as I add posts!

Thursday: Every Time You Wish or Want, You Plant a Seed

This post is the sixth in a series of eight concerning Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents. For the original post and summary, click here.

Thursday is the day of Intention of Desire. The message for today is, “Every time you wish or want, you plant a seed.”

I like this idea, because it’s one that I believe in strongly. I believe that the Universe (context: I’m a pantheist) wants to give each of us what we want, and we help it to do so by creating intentions. I also believe that our intentions send out certain vibrations and thus attract like vibrations, in turn bringing us just what we put out. At least, that’s an overly simplified explanation. Neko and I talked about this today, including how you should be careful what you wish for, as sometimes you might wish for something that isn’t actually in your best interest, but then you might get it. Her first thought when I asked what she would really like her life to be like? She said she either wants to go to Narnia, or have the Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan come here. I wasn’t sure what to say to that, especially since Sunday’s lesson is that “anything is possible” (really struggling with that one from a child’s perspective). Is it really possible for the characters from our favourite books to come visit us? Help me out here, Deepak.

I have tons of neat ideas for upcoming Thursdays, as this theme lends itself easily to all sorts of crafts, activities and conversations, but for today, we did a little visualization exercise before bed. I visualized sitting inside our strawbale house and feeling very peaceful, while Neko visualized seeing the boy she has a crush on, and also attending another Jellybean Dance. She loves visualizing so this went over well.

A part of my strawbale house visualization – the view from our homesite at Solstice.

Onto those neat ideas. Some things I’d like to do on Thursdays:

a) make a vision board – using pictures cut out from magazines, printed off the computer, or drawn, create a collage of just how you would like your life to be. This can encompass your whole life, or a certain area, such as fitness, work, home, or family. Don’t limit yourself by attempting to be reasonable – dream big. You never know what might manifest in your life!

b) write a story in which the thing you want to happen, is happening – this is something I often do for myself. When I do it on my own, I write what my life would like if my wish came true, only I write about it in the present tense. “I am so happy right now in our strawbale house. It’s so peaceful here…” I think this same idea would adapt well to kids!

c) practice visualization – have your child choose something they really want. Are they missing someone? Is there an activity they would like to try? A trip they’d like to take? Talk them through a visualization in which they experience what they’re wishing for, in their head. Visualization is a powerful tool, and one that will help them later in life. Among other things, using visualization before an athletic event to picture yourself doing well has been proven to improve performance!

d) set goals with lists of how to achieve them – setting actual goals, and listing ideas of just what needs to be done to reach those goals, is a practical way of making your dreams coming true. Goal setting is another valuable habit for kids to learn.

e) blow bubbles – put an intention into each bubble, then watch it float away. Another part of today’s message is that once we release our intention, we must have faith that if it’s in our best interest, it will happen. We can’t continue to obsess over whether it will happen, or we could get in the way. Practice setting intentions, releasing them, then watching the bubbles pop and release those intentions themselves!

f) write your wishes on paper – we’ll do something further with these papers tomorrow.

g) make prayer flags – we did this for Winter Solstice this year. As the flags blow in the wind, they release the wishes. Once the flags are worn out, you can burn them to fully release the intentions they contain. For more information, see my post on Winter Solstice 2011.

Our Solstice prayer flags, hanging from the chicken coop.

h) plant a seed – that’s right. Plant an actual seed, and watch it grow. There are endless ways you could do this (maybe Thursday is a good day to plant the garden!) – here is one.

Book ideas: Charlotte’s Web

Movie ideas: Charlotte’s Web, Freaky Friday

I’m Running Again (!)

I’ve waffled on whether to write a post about running, as this isn’t a fitness blog. However, running is one of my loves, and here is my rationale for including it as a topic on an “unschooling, unjobbing” blog: this blog is about simplicity, and simple solutions to life’s big questions. Going with the flow. Loving what you have, enjoying your surroundings, doing what just makes sense instead of striving to live up to someone else’s standards, or getting in over your head.

Running is all those things. With a pair of running shoes (or barefoot, except not in a Canadian winter), you can get in a workout, a therapy session, some stress release no matter where you are. No special equipment required. It’s affordable, it’s simple, and it’s good for you. And really – Neko is already in love with running, and we count it as a large part of our “unschooling phys. ed.” She ran the Calgary Kids Marathon last year and will again this year. It makes me so happy and proud to see her learning a love of running at such an early age, as I know it’s a love that will serve her for the rest of her life.

Anyway, I run. Sometimes. I also go on long breaks from running. I have only been running for about two years. I mean, I did run track a bit in junior high and high school, but never for pleasure. I had tried to get back into it a few times throughout my 20s, but it felt awful. Then a friend told me about the Cool Running Couch to 5K program. I downloaded the iPod app (which is awesome!) and took a whole… I don’t know… five months (?) to complete it. It’s supposed to be eight weeks, I believe. But I finished it, and at the end, I could run 5K without stopping – and it felt awesome!

Since then, I’ve run on a regular basis, most of the time. However, during especially busy times, I take breaks… and getting back to it after a break of a month or more is HARD. This is what I’m doing right now. I hadn’t run since late October, and right after Christmas, when all the craziness of the season was over, I was determined to get back to it. The first run out was horrid. The second was even worse. I felt defeated. However, something very important (and obvious) dawned on me on that second run – this is why I can’t quit! I can’t take so much time off, because coming back hurts! Even running a few kilometers a week, taking an hour or less out of my entire week, would keep me conditioned – and of course, help me in myriad other ways as well.

The past two weeks, I’ve learned about the importance of icing muscles after a hard run, stretching, not pushing myself too hard, running through the pain (not injuries!) to break up the lactic acid, and taking walk breaks as needed. Also, positive self talk. It’s amazing how repeating “You’re strong, you’re fast, you’re doing this, you’ve come so far,” etc, in your head can get you through that last kilometer. But I’m up to 25-27 minutes of running and just over 4 km. By the end of this week I should be up to 30 minutes, and nearly 5 km.

I’ve decided to set monthly goals and rewards for myself all this year. In January, my goal is to run 60 km. My thinking was that if I run 5K, three times a week, that would be 60 km… Now to reach 5K! It’s going to take a lot more runs at 3-4K per run! Still achievable, though. My reward for reaching 60 km is to go out dancing with friends. Yes, it’s something I would do normally, but I haven’t actually gone dancing in months, so at this point it would be a fun reward. And healthy! And cheap.

In general, I like to keep my fitness life simple. I feel like running and yoga plus pushups (and some other strength moves mixed in) is the perfect regimen, at least for me. I really enjoy adding stairs every week or two as well. There is a set of 167 steps in Sunnyside here in Calgary, and ten sets of those is a great workout for the quads and butt! One of the best parts is that Neko and I can go for runs up to 1K together, and do yoga together (I recommend the YogaKids DVDs)!