It’s Just A Calendar

As 2014 winds down, the stress to end the year with a bang builds. Which party to go to? What will I wear? Will my crush be there? What am I going to drink?

As I’ve mentioned throughout this year, one of the easiest and most elegant solutions for our problems is to simply opt out. I decided this morning that I am staying in, alone, for tonight. And I’m surprisingly happy about this decision.

What better way to save money, trumpet my laziness, and refuse to buy into the wastefulness of this annual celebration?

I am letting go of the idea that I need to celebrate things just because a calendar or tradition says so. Traditionally speaking, I ought to be married by now and tending to my husband, 2.5 children, and our picket fenced house. Depending on what and whose tradition that is.

We buck so many traditions with each new generation, yet some slip through the cracks. I’m not going to blow $100 to get trashed in 6 inch heels and spend tomorrow miserable and making unrealistic promises to myself. That would be setting myself up for failure.

Now, before you dismiss this option because you are young, hot, lonely, or just want to party, know that I am not simply watching TV until I fall asleep.

I refuse to treat today like an extraordinary day. But how am I celebrating? I am hopping into my pjs and reflecting, organizing, planning. I have many things to work on and I will no longer be limited by the calendar for when I can do that. The fact that I view today as just a Wednesday is important. I’m not starting a new year/life/me with fanfare. I’m just gonna do. And when I feel like I’m not going in the right direction, I’ll sit down on another ordinary day and reflect, organize, plan again.

This is how I’m changing. My choice to improve myself will not start with a gun shot. Life is not a race, it should not be timed.

So after I spend an evening eating my favorite food (pizza) in my favorite sweatpants drinking my favorite tea I’m going to wake up prepared for each new day ahead of me. I’m going to have goals, steps for those goals, motivation points. I’m going to tell some friends and ask for encouragement. And I’m not doing it just today. If I find I’ve failed at what I set up for myself I’ll just sit down some other Wednesday and get back on track.

By removing the external push and making it a personal, internal effort I know I’m showing myself that it’s not tradition that is pushing me to do this, but my personal choice and reflections.

This year I’m starting the year exactly how I want the whole year to be: focused on my well being. And I can do it by living up to my broke, lazy, and green standard I hold myself to.

Thank you for living this year with me, I look forward to life with you next year! Happy New Year!

Gratitude

I’ve been absolutely stressing out about anything under the sun that has come my way the last couple weeks. This stress has thrown my three basic tenets – broke, lazy, and green – out the window.

How can I fix my mental state?

After eating fast food, junk food, a few impulse purchases, and a fair number of anxious tears I decided this isn’t okay.

Sound like something you’ve gone through? Whether it’s an unexpected bill pops up at the worst possible time, a love interest rejects you, or you get passed up for a promotion, when difficult and negative emotions pop up they take over.

I often let anxieties live in my head. Rent-free as they say. I can’t say I’m done with them forever. It may just take one more upsetting event to set me off, but today I feel so much better.

I have meditated and done gratitude lists and the like before. Each time I feel a bit better, then these new efforts eventually fall to the wayside. I’m no expert at developing habits. I often take my habit cues from┬ázenhabits.net. As for dealing with the anxieties, I’m often overwhelmed by all the information out there.

The point of this post is to remind myself and anyone who needs reminding that this stuff is working. And it will take work for it to keep working. That’s not stressful work, it is positive and helpful work.

I’ve done two things in the last two days that have made a huge difference.

First, I was told to make a list of all events of my day and assigned a value to them. I CANNOT include stuff that goes on in my head. When you try this it can be as basic as I brushed my teeth (+1), my best friend called (+2), or I completed a big work project (+3). I dropped my phone and the screen cracked (-1), my lunch had spoiled so I had to skip it (-2), to my beloved pet died (-10).

In doing this I’ve noticed that when I look back on the day and am reminded of all the little good things, the positives outweigh the negatives. We are wired to remember the negative, but for the anxious and depressed that is detrimental. Sometimes, we need simple reminders that life will be alright.

Secondly, I meditated. No ‘om’ chants, no incense, no bad tries at perfectly emptying my brain. I used a guided youtube video, there are many to try. I simply focused on my breathing, then my body, sounds I could hear, and so on. It was focusing on the present that really made me breathe easier.

Yes, I may get fired tomorrow. I might also win a million dollars. Both are equally unlikely and should have no bearing on my today. All the baggage from yesterday? Can’t change the past.

I will need constant reminding of all this, day in and day out. But for now I’m adding to my list that I wrote a blog post (+2). Make an effort to remember the positives, the negatives and naysayers will handle the bad stuff without you. ­čÖé

In Defense of Lazy

Lazy is a word with a very negative connotation.

However, I believe there are two kinds of laziness: procrastination and positive. I would like to write this post in defense of positive laziness.

First, what I mean by procrastinative (it’s a word now) laziness. This is what happens when someone asks you when a project or task will be done and you’ve been ‘doing nothing’. This kind of laziness achieves nothing, not even relaxation and usually makes life worse because it is pure mindless procrastination. In this day and age, the internet, often in the form of Buzzfeed and Netflix, is the most common ‘nothing’ that you find yourself doing all day.

You don’t feel productive, relaxed, calm. Instead you may have inflated your stress and anxiety through this laziness. (I just coughed. Is it Ebola?!)

I, instead, would like to defend and encourage positive laziness. This past weekend is a marvelous example. I got rid of some stuff, made my costume, had lunch with some girlfriends, finished a book, and took a few walks. I did it all without a to do list and only when I felt like it

I didn’t do any ‘work’, I didn’t make money, my professional life and finances got nowhere this weekend. I didn’t schedule or plan anything. I didn’t even set an alarm.

It was the best weekend in ages.

The most important part of this weekend to me is that I forgot about my phone quite frequently. I only meant to run in and grab a cup of coffee Sunday morning, but managed to end up reading on the patio for three hours. I totally lost track of time. And I feel so relaxed for it.

Go ahead – be lazy. Unplug a bit. Clear your schedule. Or if you are the kind of person who can’t freestyle a day, schedule in some free time.

Throwing out your to do list, absolving yourself of any guilt, and living 100% in the moment for one day – doing whatever nothing you want to do – will be better than an expensive, exotic vacation.

Daydream. Read. Create. This is your life, you can do what you want. Once you step back and realize how many of your actions are made purely for the benefit of social requirements, you can start taking control of your own life….tomorrow. Today, there’s a nice walk with no destination with your name on it.

I love My Mom

My mom will be in town this week, so I am struggling to think of anything but what we’ll be doing. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Therefore, this weekend I will not be living cheaply, nor will I be lazing about, though I can still make this a green-ish visit.

We will have no car, relying on public transit. I’ll still be choosing vegetarian meals. And I think it is rather green to be taking advantage of all our community offers: our City Park, a few museums, paddle boats on the lake, people watching through downtown.

I’m looking forward to eating all I want, too. I will certainly be hella broke after this whole weekend. It will be worth it. Living far from my family means I rarely get to see them and it is usually an all day travel nightmare (let’s not even mention airplane pollution).

I’m equally excited for a few days off of work. It’s been one of those weeks and is looking like it will be one of those quarters around here. You know what I’m talking about – when you are so tightly wound you feel like snapping, nothing you do seems good enough, you are eventually so worried and anxious and paralyzed that you start doing worse at work. I need a way to unwind.

Some people unwind by shopping, drinking, eating poorly, among many other vices. I often sleep. I am prone to depression and have been battling a recent bout. When I’m depressed, stressed, anxious, or generally upset I often overeat then sleep. I sleep often and too long, I shut down.

I’m grateful that my mom’s visit is timed to give me a more positive way to unwind. I love my family and am excited to share these experiences. Family will be my anti-depressant this weekend and all the fun stuff I’d let pass otherwise will be exciting to experience.

I’m committed to making lifestyle┬áchanges to benefit the earth and its inhabitants. It’s easy to forget to make small changes that benefit me first and foremost. Becoming aware of my feelings and making proactive efforts to work through them is the nicest thing I can do for myself. Lately I’ve been uptight, short, and letting it all slide. My mom’s impending visit and my increased awareness (and support of a few chosen friends) will help me make it through this.

Thank you for reading through this post. It means a lot to me and I hope you remember to put yourself first once in a while too. We both deserve it.

The Weekend Foodening

Sometimes I am reminded – forcefully – why having roommates is frustrating. After an hour of cleaning, my kitchen was finally ready for ME to use it.

Getting into the groove in my newly cleaned kitchen, I made the base of dinner ahead of time. Tonight, instead of blowing money on restaurant mark ups, we’re making our own pizza! I made the dough and am bringing red onions and bell peppers as topping options(you do you, let me do me), two friends are providing the sauce and cheese. I used The Pioneer Woman’s pizza dough recipe. Simple, quick, and always good. I can make this in 5 minutes flat now.

Then I went on to make a cucumber and red onion salad┬áthat is out of the world. 5 minutes of chopping, 5 minutes of measuring (or eyeballing) and mixing, 20 minutes of sitting for the magical flavor meld….and scene. Today I added a dash of rice vinegar and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds for an exotic touch.

Finally, my coup d’cuisine of the day was a kitchen sink fritatta. I was reminded that roommates are worth it when I went through the fridge and found a few veggies that needed to be used or tossed today. We have a policy that if something is on its last legs and you find it, you get it. Today was a haul! I found some shriveled, sad tater tots. I thought a tater tot omelet sounded like the best idea I could have had today. Then a yellow bell pepper, a jalapeno, and a roma tomato came into my possession.

My kitchen sink fritatta came together as follows (don’t forget to compost scraps!):

finely chop: 1/4 red onion and 1 jalapeno into slivers

dice: 1 bell pepper, 1 tomato

thinly slice: 1 small potato

include: fistful leafy greens (like kale or mustard greens), leftover tater tots, 8 eggs, spices

Preheat the oven to 350*. Warm up a cast iron skillet, add a glug of olive oil, and cook the potato slices until soft. Toss on kale and cooked until it was bright green. Dump in all veggies and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. Mix your favorite spices into the eggs and whisk. I used cumin, garlic powder, cajun seasoning, paprika, pepper, cayenne. Dump the eggs on top and set in the oven for 20 minutes. Pull out and let cool a bit.

You can use any leftover veggie. The best part about fritattas are that they can be any flavor profile and are even ‘low carb’ compared to a quiche – which is just a fritatta with a crust.

Life and Literary Journeys: Free!

I hit up my library on Monday after work and have spent the last three days living this wonderful routine:

Wake up, go to work, read on my lunch break, more work, go home, make dinner, clean up, throw on pj’s, grab some water, close my door, and read for hours. I even have some nice chocolate and crappy boxed wine to enjoy along my literary journey.

This is the week I put the brakes on my life and really got a better look at myself and where I am on my life journey.

I cooked dinner, made bread, drank wine, shut off my computer, and enjoyed the hell out of my me time. I’ve been reading nonfiction, young adult (I refuse to call it a guilty pleasure as I feel no guilt about that), fantasy. I have business, linguistic, and comedic books in my stacks of books.

I have three stacks of books I want to get through: library, borrowed from friends, mine I haven’t read and want to decide if I want to keep or not.

I had been feeling stuck and didn’t want to pamper myself with expensive spa treatments or pricey dinners. So I hit my personal reset button. I let a lot build, so it may take me all week of ignoring my friends and staying in. That’s not a bad thing.

Free movies, free books…library is a word that means heaven. If reading is not your tool to unwind, no problem. There are many free activities out there away from a screen to cultivate a little more personal joy in your life. Take a day to do that, I’m sure it’s been a while.

Relax. The world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. ­čÖé

Bottles and Jugs and Ideas, Oh My!

I started this site to not only be an outlet for my creative green juices, but to also practice becoming familiar with WordPress. I handle all the website work for my company.

We have a wonderful SEO guru, though, to guide me through the process of tapping directly into the minds and veins of potential customers. Her work makes my efforts to hook total strangers easier. Business to business sales are not easy.

My guru knows what’s up, this is her job – her bread-and-butter – and she is good at what she does. But I must admit that my favorite part of our meetings are when we get off track and talk about our green and natural tendencies. We usually enjoy a solid ten minutes of green geeking out at the end of our meetings. Just like me, green living is a great side interest for her.

She is not paying me to tell anyone about this, she just gives me free samples and lets her goods speak for themselves. Her line, Nola Essentials, will be launching in October. I have liked everything so far and will have to review them for y’all sometime.

But back to our conversation! She emptied a bottle of Perrier and informed me that the mouth is a standard size. Thanks to her, I now know (and can share!), that it is the easiest thing in the world to make an adorable soap dispenser out of ‘garbage’.

upcycling, upcycled soap pump, homemade soap dispenser, recycling, kitchen hack, broke lazy but green, BLBG

My guru is web savvy, a clever upcycler, and a good photographer. What can’t she do?

I just finished a moisturizer that used a pump, so I don’t even have to go out and buy a pump!

I also mentioned that my attempt at no ‘poo failed, I started using Dr. Bronner’s. My real issue is that I want to stop using plastic, that was why I was so excited to make my own. Now I’m back to buying shampoos in plastic bottles. I chose Dr. Bronner’s because I can travel with the smaller size I bought, and buy the large jugs to minimize impact. But still, what to do with those jugs as they add up?

Our brainstorming session resulted in some ideas: cutting off the top and turning them into plant pots; poking holes in the lids, filling them with water and placing them upside down to water your plants long term; cutting the handles off to create scoops….there are so many ideas out there! Rethink how to reuse your bottles and jugs!

Your Finances

You know why you’re lazy and all corners of the internet will tell you why you should go green. Do you know why you are broke, though?

Do you even know how broke you are?

Take a moment and write out your income. Then write out your savings, if you have one. Next, list your debts. Finally, categorize your monthly expenses – necessities versus fun, fixed versus varied – which ever way gets you to clearly see what your finances are trying to tell you.

Knowing how broke you are and why are the first steps in not being so broke.

Now, how to deal with being broke? You can go green by buying less. You can borrow, make, swap for something you need….if you are sure you really need it.

Really review every purchase. Did you buy coffee just that one time to treat yourself, or did you block out the three times you ran out quick for coffee because you were late or tired? Be honest with yourself about your finances, no one else out there is.

Buying less is good for you and the earth. What about the economy? Well, if the economy runs only because you buy plastic crap and junk food on a whim, I’m worried succeeding isn’t really success then.

I’m one of those people who can’t quite see how to trim my expenses anymore. I don’t own a car, can’t move to a cheaper place yet (if I can find one). I don’t shop for fun, buy stuff online, or eat out much. I cook and shop in bulk. At some point you can’t cut anymore. At that point, if you are still in dire straights, it’s time to up your income.┬áBesides getting a new, better paying job (as if those were just lying around) dog walking, event food servers, working in a cafe or grocery store can all be part-time gigs. Yes, working 50+ hours a week can suck. So does living in uncertainty from paycheck to paycheck.

The detour to obvious suggestions may not have been necessary, but being aware that there are options out there is.

First things first, know how deep the hole is before you try to climb out. The best place to start is at the beginning. When you get overwhelmed, go for a walk. That is always free.

“Smile,┬ábreathe and go slowly”. –┬áThich Nhat Hanh

Take A Walk

Got a problem on your mind? Feeling angry or restless? Ate too much? Worried? Sad? Bored?

Go take a walk.

Seriously, it will help you physically and mentally more than you can imagine. An aimless after dinner stroll helps with the digestion. An afternoon saunter will get you outdoors and enjoying the summer while you can. (Didn’t you wish for it all winter? Don’t hang out on the computer.)

A quick morning walk can help you wake up and sort through your thoughts and plan your day. Maybe you can get a few errands done too.

Don’t just take your dog around the block. Fido just might appreciate a languid excursion around the park for once instead of a quick walk until he does his deed and you can turn around and hurry home.

Go enjoy today. Enjoy this moment. You have the time right now. You are alive right now.

Take a walk.

Bike For Better Butts and Budgets

I do not own a car and have never owned a car. Now, when I was growing up in rural Minnesota I needed a car to drive across state lines to go to school. Waking up so early SUCKED.

Now I live in a city. This city does not have public transportation worth mentioning. Yeah we have buses….that run whenever they feel like. I’m not waiting an hour just for a mile long bus ride.

So how do I get around? Grocery shop? Live a full and fun life?

I bike and walk. I find that since I live near my friends, most don’t mind driving a few blocks out of the way to get me for a night out. I certainly don’t mind going home early with them. I do have to be careful to avoid rides with the party animals unless I know I can get a ride home with someone who properly appreciates going to bed by midnight, even on weekends.

*Don’t judge. I also love naps. Sleep, like water, is the absolute cheapest way to live a healthier lifestyle. Get plenty of both.*

I will admit, I have spent the last decade shaping my life around not having a car. I can walk to my job in 20 minutes. I can walk or bike to any friend’s house in 5-45 minutes. My neighborhood has two grocery stores across the street from each other a 15 minute walk away. That walk feels crazy long if I’m lugging liquids, but I cut soda/juice from my diet.┬áI shop once a week to grab only what I can carry, I plan my meals ahead.

I own rain boots and many umbrellas. I will be investing in a waterproof canvas pack soon. Rain guards on your bike will save you from most splashes. Rain, shine, heat, humidity, dark…I can make it through anything as long as I prepare.

My real secret? Don’t give yourself an out. For me, that’s not owning a car. If I don’t go out on my own, I generally don’t go out. Maybe you can refuse to use your car on weekends? After work? For any reason but work? Examine your lifestyle, accept that you can change, and make the change worth it. You will save money on gas and maintenance, get fit by moving more, and may change your diet once you realize that produce isn’t heavy, but pounds of meat and boxes of TV dinners are.