Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On What Works Well for You

Do you ever try to live life on someone's terms other than your own? Or try to do things the way someone else says you should?  I've done that most of my life.  I've listened to advice from other people, or done things the way that works for someone else.  But I've rarely thought about something and said, "I don't think that really works for me."

Until now.  Recently, I've started to reclaim who I am and what works well for me.

Comparison is the thief of joy.  This quote has defined so much of who I am and who I am not.  It has helped me to clarify who I want to be versus who I actually am.

This is who I am not:
I am not someone who can keep a house tidy for more than 24 hours.
I am not "neat."
I am not put together.
I am not (always) professional.
I am not calm.
I am not confident.
I am not an extrovert.
I am not organized.
I am not good at following recipes.
I am not detail-oriented.
I am not good at remembering things.
I am not a natural lover of healthy things.
I am not athletic.
I am not thin.
I am not coordinated (hello bruises all over my legs from our footboard on our bed).
I am not good at talking or speaking.
I am not perfect.

And this is who I am:
I am messy.
I am a throw-everything-in (even the kitchen sink) kind of cook.
I am good at seeing the big picture.
I am a get-your-hands-dirty person.
I am a daughter of God.
I am a wife.
I am a voracious reader.
I am a writer.
I am a nurse.
I am a lover of pretty things.
I am a beach girl.
I am a runner.
I am hard-working.
I am a baker.
I am a growing gardener.
I am the owner of a messy, loving puppy.
I am an emotional, crying mess.
I am cluttered.
I am an introvert.
I am imperfect.
I am present.
I am grounded.
I am clumsy.
I am curvy.
I am a gatherer.

I have reconciled the things that I am and the things that I am not.  I have come to terms with who I was created to be and who I was not created to be.  Some of my friends are REALLY good housekeepers.  They have little bins and containers for things and they have homes for their pencils (special shoutout to my former roommate, Chancey-- you know what this is in reference to), and everything goes in its place.  I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and did the whole process and said thank you to my belongings that no longer served me, and my house is still a cluttered wreck.  Some of my friends are really good at completing projects in great detail and with great care to the nitty gritty.  I am not.  I am really good at painting a whole kitchen and then realizing that I missed a corner.  I'm really good at sanding down the furniture and leaving a little sawdust behind.

And in this year of life, I'm learning that things that work for some people don't work for me, and that's ok.  My house will never be featured in my favorite magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, unless, of course, I have my sister-in-law or mother-in-law come to decorate and paint for me.  My yard will never be mowed in perfect little lines (I LOVE mowing the lawn and Scott is gracious to afford me this little joy despite my imperfections in this task).  My handwriting will never be perfectly neat, and my sink will never be completely empty of dishes (hello, leaning tower of dishes.  Chancey gets two shout outs in this blog-- my college leaning tower of dishes days continue, in case you wondered!).

So I'm giving myself grace and allowing myself to be me instead of being some other version of me or someone who looks like me but strives to be someone else.  Today, I'm choosing things that work for me.  You know what I threw out today that wasn't working for me anymore? My dish rack.  My kitchen counter was a cluttered mess and I was piling dishes higher and higher as if I was pursuing a world record for the tallest stack of clean dishes.  And my dish rack wasn't serving me anymore.  You know what is serving me? A nice little dish drying mat that makes my counter look less cluttered and makes me want to actually put my dishes away.

Do you know what else isn't working for me? My gym regimen.  I'm a lover of the sun and the breeze and being outside.  So my indoor gym doesn't serve me well when I want to work out.  I work out based on the season and the weather outside.  On beautiful days, I could run for hours.  I could bike to the grocery store (like I did yesterday-- hooray!).  I could plant things and play with my dog, and I could be moving outside all day long.  On cloudy days, I'll do the same.  On rainy days, I'm inside with a cup of coffee or tea, and I'm lucky if I squeeze in some yoga or lifting weights.  Running outside works for me, and running on a treadmill feels listless and makes me feel trapped, and it doesn't work for me.

Scott cleans dishes as he cooks.  It works well for him and makes him feel less stressed.  You know what works well for me in the kitchen? Making a GIANT mess with sauce dripping from the ceiling and pots ALL OVER the counters and stove, and then sitting down to eat in the midst of the mess.  I can't clean as I go-- it's like I need mess to create.  They say that creative people aren't meant to be neat, and I think this is quite true of me.  I live and love in the midst of mess, and I thrive in it.

Choose things today that work well for you.  Who cares if it doesn't work for your neighbor?  Or your mom? Or your friend? Choose things that serve you and that work for you instead of trying to live life by someone else's rules.  You'll be so much happier and find so much more joy in that.  Whether you are working your job, or raising your kids, or decorating your house, or loving Jesus, or training for a marathon -- do it in a way that works for you.  Don't let others steal your joy because a different way works for them.


PS: Another thing that is really working well for me is this Nutella latte from Neidhammer Coffee Co., and if you are healthier-than-thou and can't live to hear of such richness and deliciousness just scroll back up and pretend this post ended with my signature.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thoughts on Healthy Living

Entering my 28th year (thanks for all the birthday love, by the way!), I've been reflecting a lot more on health and wellness and just kind of checking in on where I am with that.  I'm currently the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  Now, I know that there's a big push to not define yourself by your dress size or the scale, and to love your curves, but I unfortunately do not personally believe in loving my own curves when they are the direct result of overindulging in things that are not inherently good for me.  I can jump on board the ship that proclaims that we shouldn't body shame and shouldn't make others feel bad who aren't thin, but for myself, I know where my curves come from and I know what pushes me up a dress size.  It's a direct result of what I put into my body and how I move (or don't move) from day to day.

I wanted to ring in my birthday yesterday doing something active-- Scott has been wanting to try hot yoga (as have I), but I didn't feel hydrated enough yesterday and didn't want to have a terrible first experience that prevented me from ever trying again.  So instead, we went on a 30 minute bike ride on the Monon Trail.  It was by no means the longest or most vigorous ride, but I was craving movement.  This weekend involved a lot of movement, actually.  With my siblings in town, I started running again, went on long walks on the Monon, and chose walking over driving to several places.  Spring weather helps with that, too, creating a desire in me to be outside and to be in the sunlight.

Even though we were active yesterday, I still ate a pretty carb-loaded lunch, "treating" myself to a Dr. Pepper (which made me feel so bloated and sick afterwards), and indulged in both cake AND a cupcake.  All that to celebrate another year of life--all that to cause me to wonder, as I celebrate, am I actually celebrating with things that may shorten my life?

A friend from work recently went on a trip to Ikaria to study one of the Blue Zones of the world and introduced me to what the Blue Zones are.  Since then, I am fascinated and have ordered two books (one of which is a cookbook) and researched multiple articles about the Blue Zones.  The Blue Zones are regions of the world where there are a high population of individuals who live statistically longer lives than the rest of the world.  The current identified Blue Zones include Loma Linda, CA; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nikoya, Costa Rica; and Okinawa, Japan.  What kinds of things are characteristic of those who live in Blue Zones? Plant-based diets, naturally active lives, large focus on family, avoiding smoking, engagement in faith life and social life, and stress reduction/lack of focus on time and planning.  Doesn't that sound wonderful?  It sounds so easy, yet when I think about my typical American lifestlye, I participate in very few of those activities.  I eat meat, carbs, and sugar.  I stress-eat every single day (even if it's something healthy). I spend most days sitting, doing homework, being still, and perhaps spend 30-60 minutes per day moving.  I have a moderate faith life-- I could always do better with this.  My family is far from me but when I am near them I love being around them.  And my attention to the clock, planning things out, and feeling an overall feeling of anxiety about how I spend my days is pretty alarming.  I am aware of it but don't know how to change it.

I always thought that Scott and I would be carnivores for life.  Scott's family has always been involved in animal agriculture (is this a real term? Not sure), and he's always a huge meat-lover.  But we've been talking about the Blue Zones and a lot of health-related evidence lately, and the other day he mentioned testing the waters of vegetarianism.  I raised my eyebrows and pounced on the opportunity to commit to this.  We're still processing what this will look like-- we may lean more towards pescatarian than vegetarian, but we plan to have meat occasionally when we go out or when we're at the houses of family members.  We're just going to try to ease into this and see how it goes.  Because I don't want to keep eating the way I eat, feeling the way I feel, and wondering if I could be doing more for my health.  I'm also very much wanting to move more.  I don't want to allow grad school to keep me pinned to my desk chair or couch every day.  I want to run, walk, bike, and move.

And as I pursue a degree as an adult gerontology nurse practitioner and specialize in aging well, I want to be a role model for those I work with.  And I want to learn from them, too.  Learn how they live healthy lifestyles or how they have aged well.

How do you pursue a healthy lifestyle?  What things help you stay motivated?  What struggles do you have?  I would love to hear from friends who are thinking about this.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Small Joys: volume 27

It seems fitting that we're on the 27th volume of Small Joys since it's the month of my 27th birthday, right? Life has been pretty stuffed full lately, and I'm finding myself desiring less and less.  Desiring less stuff and more time with people I love, desiring less shallow talk and more deep conversation.  I started writing a post called Desiring Less, which will be coming soon, but I needed more time to work through that one. Here's what's bringing me joy in this season.

No. 1: Italy.  We leave for Italy in less than a month and we are STOKED.  We've had a lot of drama with this trip because of issues with my school schedule that developed after we booked our trip; we thought we were going to Cancun instead for a little while, but we're now officially going to Italy to venture through the Amalfi Coast.  Oh, I cannot wait.  I've been in search of fun bathing suits to wear while we're on the rocky beaches and dreaming of the colorful houses tucked away by the shore.

No. 2:  Nancy Meyers' movies.  Oh goodness, how I love her movies.  To name a few: The Parent Trap, Something's Gotta Give, It's Complicated, and The Holiday.  Currently enjoying Something's Gotta Give while doing some light spring cleaning.  Anyone else into spring cleaning? Ever since we bought our house I look forward to it every year.  Last year I used Joanna Gaines' Spring Cleaning list from here.  This year, I made my own and tailored it a little more to our home and the things that we really struggle with keeping clean.  Scott has been hugely helpful in this venture.

No. 3: Beauty and the Beast.  Oh my word.  I LOVED the live action Beauty and the Beast and adored Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in their roles as Belle and the beast.  I will certainly own this one when it's released on DVD but for now I'm listening to the soundtrack nonstop!

No. 4: The promise of Spring. I've never been into spring, really.  If you know me at all, you know Fall is my season.  But ever since we've owned our home, I've been really into the idea of gardening and front porches.  So the promise of Spring hanging in the air has me all sorts of ready for twinkly lights on the porch, sitting in the rocking chairs, and eating guac from our molcajete.  These are all things I associate with Spring.  The thought of getting my hands dirty in our garden is thrilling, too.  I am so glad this season is upon us-- I can smell it outside and am hopeful that the cold weather will blow through and bring warm weather behind it!

No. 5: Pomegrante green tea. This wasn't intended to be on the list, but I just picked some up from Fresh Thyme and am sipping on it as we speak.  How have I not known about this magic before? I love the little love notes on them too (not really love notes, but similar to a fortune in a fortune cookie, as my friend Angela said!)

No. 6: Fresh Thyme Broad Ripple. Since moving to Indy and discovering Fresh Thyme, it's been a love affair that rivals my adoration for Trader Joe's.  If only Fresh Thyme had 99 cent greeting cards, two buck Chuck, and $3.99 flower bouquets, I'd give up TJ's entirely.  I used to drive about 20 minutes to get to the closest Fresh Thyme, but now there's one 6 minutes from my house.  I've already been twice since they opened on Friday and I plan to go there almost exclusively for my groceries now.  What a dream to have this grocery store so close by!

No. 7: Running. I haven't been as consistent as I would like to be, but I did start doing some light running again since the weather has warmed up a teeny bit.  I realized the other day that my running shoes are needing to be replaced, which is no easy task! I HATE shopping for running shoes because I'm so indecisive.  Once I get a pair, I keep them way longer than I should.  That's my current situation-- my shoes are ones that I bought the year I graduated from college and are super overdue for being replaced.  I also used to love them but they don't feel good anymore, so I think this will be a necessary task.  I've always been an Asics and Mizuno girl-- what shoes do you like to run in?  I need good ankle support.

No. 8: Doc.  I mean, he's always something I could write about.  He's been super anxious lately but it's been incredibly rainy, so he has gotten very little exercise.  I feel like a bad dog mom when I don't run him but it can be such a challenge!

No. 9: Self-care. I've been pretty intentional about self-care lately-- bubble baths are a new thing that I've implemented 2-3 times per week.  My body aches from long days at work, and even though I'm only part-time now, the physical demands of my job still wear on me.  I look forward to taking bubble baths and dream of a day when we will have a claw-foot tub to bubble bath in.  My favorite magazine to read while bubble bathing is Real Simple, a new fave.  Amazon Prime has been hooking me up lately with free magazines, and I've been indulging in free magazines while taking bubble baths and practicing self-care.

No. 10: Decluttering.  Decluttering has been so stress-relieving for me.  I tried doing it the Marie Kondo way with little success, so now I'm doing it my own way.  I've found that I'm almost disgusted with our possessions recently and can't believe how much... excess we have.  So we've made weekly Goodwill trips since the beginning of the year, and throwing away meaningless thing, and recycling things that other people need.  It's made me feel so much less attached to my possessions and it's so clarifying for me.

That's all I have for small joys today.  Thanks for reading and as always, would love to hear from you!

Hope you have a beautiful first week of April!