Kellie is a fellow Minnesotan located in the Northwest Angle of our state, a rather unique place that I must explore someday.
She writes about life at the Angle, community, spirituality, wellness and gives s a lot of helpful tips on minimalism with the “minimize minute” posts.
I write this as I am packing to head north for a weekend in Bemidji. I really am intrigued by her descriptions of where she lives, and the politics in particular. I believe she is a kindred spirit and I am always thankful that the internet allows us to connect with others who share similar views and values. What an amazing time to be alive.
We returned from our motorcycling trip to South Dakota/Wyoming one day early because we were back in Minnesota and relatively close to home. We decided that sleeping in our own bed and seeing our kitties was a more important priority than getting the most out of our camping reservation at Sibley State Park.
Someday we will probably check out that park, and camp there. But I was happy to get back to my own bed, my kitties, laundry facilities at home, my car which I can drive anywhere (unlike my husband’s Honda VTX). Vacations are wonderful, restorative and good ways to get out of the routine of our lives, and get some new experiences to fuel our creativity.
I have to admit that limiting my online time in an intentional way really challenged me. I like being plugged in, able to see the weather forecast or my email at a moment’s notice.
I like having access to a GPS while I travel, or restaurant recommendations via Yelp, or AirBnB searches when the camp sites are too wet for comfortable tent camping. The internets make our lives so convenient. We take them for granted.
The only time we turned on a t.v. was in the Travelodge in Wall, when we wanted to check out the rain forecasts. I don’t really watch a lot of t.v., and I don’t miss it. Occasionally I like a series on Amazon Prime or Netflix, but we don’t have cable, and I typically watch more t.v. in winter when the weather limits what I like to do outdoors.
Mostly I prefer books (and blogs) and other non-commercial sources of entertainment. I only took one book with me: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I have read it before, but savored one chapter a night as I read it a second time. Lovely book & I highly recommend it if you have not read it. Ever since I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, I have been in awe of Monk Kidd’s work.
I also enjoy thinking as entertainment. My imagination provides unending sources of enjoyment. There are stories I plan to write down. I complained to my husband once that, without my laptop, and with only my handwritten journals to write, I could not seem to capture my thoughts fast enough. But I did journal every day, sometimes twice.
So one aspect of home that I am enjoying about being home, in addition to catching up on reading my favorite blogs, is my keyboard, and the ability to get my thoughts down a bit faster. I also really love access to my kitchen, and being able to make my own salads with pumpkin seeds (hard to get a decent salad in South Dakota), and cuddle time with my kitties.
However, that aspect of reconnecting with my self, while surrounded by nature, is priceless. During our final night in Big Stone Lake State Park we had the entire tent camp ground to ourselves! It was awesome. No kids, no obnoxious drunk adults (fortunately that only happened one other night of camp), a cozy camp fire, lightning bugs after dark and abundance fresh air, trees and space.
Home sweet home is sweeter when you appreciate all you have after being away.
It is early and I am gathering up my things into my suitcase and backpack to begin the journey home from Guadalajara through Atlanta today.
I have a familiar mix of joy and trepidation as I double check the drawers and closet, make sure I have not left behind any possessions. It will be a long travel day, as Delta does not do direct flights back to MSP. But I am left with a sense of completion and relief as well: I accomplished my missions for the week, and now I can return to the comfort of home, with my husband and kitties.
Home is such a joy after being on the road. By yesterday my brain was feeling “cooked” and I am eager to get some good sleep at home. I will be grateful for access to my kitchen, and all of those small but significant comforts of home. I will be most grateful to have conversations with my husband – I really missed him this week. I am grateful for the opportunities I have to travel, and they make returing home even more precious.
Here’s wishing you a happy weekend. Take care and enjoy noticing and observing as you travel your journey in life. Do not forget that other people are fighting their own battles and that kindness, love and compassion are good travel companions, more necessary than anything else you carry.
Last February I read a book that changed how I think about women in leadership, and the gap between household responsibilities for men and women. It was called Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu, and I have written about it before.
One of the concepts that hit home for me was the idea that we sometimes get resentful of our spouses, partners or even coworkers about things that have not gotten done, even when we never made a specific request about those tasks. We all have those times. Maybe you wish your spouse would decide on the meals and grocery shop for a change. For some reason, you have always done it (maybe like me you are pickier about the foods you eat than your husband) and things get busy at work, so you do not have the energy this week to do it.
But rather than ask your husband to do it, you just sigh, feel sorry for yourself and think: “Why doesn’t HE ever make the decisions about this stuff and offer to shop?” Well, probably because you are the one that usually does it, without any prompting. You may think, “nobody has to ask ME to do this!” and sulk because you know that it saves money to shop at the grocery store instead of eating out.
When I asked my husband if he could go to the store, he willingly and cheerfully did so, and asked what was on my list. Instead of spending energy being resentful and getting annoyed about it, I could have saved myself the trouble and just asked for help, instead of assuming I had to do it. Since people have an easier time hearing your actual words than reading your mind, opening your mouth to graciously ask for help is a better option.
We all have habits and patterns in our relationships and roles which we play both at home and in the workplace. Sometimes these roles and “job descriptions” need to shift and change depending on our overall workload. When we take on a new challenge at work, or commit to something important to us, we may need to ask for help from our spouse on household tasks. This is very hard for me, I realize.
I grew up in a household where Mom stayed home until going back to work when my sister was in middle school, and I was in high school. She and my Dad had a very different division of labor than I aspired to in my life. So I sometimes forget that women are not necessarily “supposed” to grocery shop, plan menus and take responsibility for food prep at home. Indeed I know a lot of households where the opposite is true.
At work this applies when I have a task that could easily be done by a colleague and perhaps they are better at it too, but somehow it ends up on my to-do list. I realize that, if I do not ask anyone else to do it, nobody will “take it away” from me and get it done. I need to use my words, not my imagination to ask for help, and I need to be specific about what needs to be done, though not necessarily how to do the task. I do not enjoy micro-managing, so delegating the responsibility involves stepping out of the way to allow someone else to bring their own approach to the job.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. It allows us to do what we are best at doing, without getting bogged down in a lot of details or menial tasks that may deplete our energy and time. But some of us who are still learning how to not take on too much, or who lived happily as single people, need to question our assumptions about who does what at home and at work. If we have a spouse or partner that supports our growth and development, and someone who understands that household management is a shared responsibility, we can probably negotiate these matters.
I am working on recognizing those times when I feel resentment but the real battle is going on in my own mind, rather with another person. I have a situation at work where I realize I used to take on responsibilities that are actually the job of the other manager. He has been blissfully ignorant and relying on me to do these tasks, but I now aim to be more specific with him about his responsibilities. I realize this will go against my “go along get along” attitude at work, and my concept about being a “team player” but I have enabled his blissful ignorance for too long.
As I am less tolerant now about certain things at work, given my overall dissatisfaction with the role I am in, I realize I have less to lose. So what if he gets annoyed that I am asking him to do his job! I respectfully do not care. Wow, there’s power in that.
Today I will return to work after the holiday break. I also have an appointment this afternoon for post-op check-up following my appendectomy surgery a few weeks ago. Though I usually wake up around 5:30, this morning I was awake at 4, so I opted to roll out of bed at 4:30 to start my coffee pot.
It is again a chilly morning at zero degrees F with a windchill of -15F. I plan to go to the gym in a bit for some exercise. I am not yet “cleared” to get back to yoga so I will go again for a walk on the treadmill.
This past weekend I went a little stir-crazy after no exercise for a few weeks, so I just had to work up a small sweat by walking on the ‘mill a couple of days. Typically I do yoga 3-4 times a week, and I like to run at least a couple of times a week. I have not run since my last trip to Mexico early in December, when I managed a few short treadmill workouts.
I exercise for my mental health as much as my physical health. As someone with an attention issue, it is a highly recommended natural intervention for this condition. It also helps prevent depression and anxiety, which I have contended with in the past. It has been at least 7 years since I had a true “episode” of depression as categorized by the DSM-5. It was minor, fortunately, and responded well to a few sessions of counseling, and addition of healthy fats and protein to my diet.
A few years ago, when I was racing many half marathons per year (and even one marathon) I felt such a sense of relief from previous depressive symptoms. I think this was for many reasons but here are the top ones:
1) Exercise is good for the brain and this is documented in the research.
2) The running community and the friends I met were so positive, supportive and uplifting (this is actually how I met my husband).
3) A regular routine and training goals for races kept me in touch with friends, getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. Nature is such a beautiful balm for all that ails us.
As I consider goals for 2018, I know that there are some daily rituals I will keep, that serve me well and contribute to my health and well-being. Getting good sleep (and patience as I gain mastery over insomnia) is a non-negotiable one. I will aim for 8 hours regularly, because I feel better with adequate rest. It helps maintain my weight, gives me more consistent focus during the day, and adds better decision-making. If you have one thing you do for the next year to commit to your health and you get routinely less than 7 hours a night – try to get 30-60 minutes more sleep each night. Your body and brain will thank you. Trust me.
My other daily habits are: meditating (I’m on day 333), journaling in a hand-written journal in addition to this blog, and doing some yoga or walking/running. I also typically end my workday with taking 15 minutes to plan the next day or two, review what is on my schedule and prepare myself mentally for what is head.
I enjoy my coffee in the morning, so even though it is half caf these days, that one is not going to change. I avoid caffeine in the afternoon since it does tend to mess with my sleep when I am not careful.
Sitting with a cat on my lap and reading at home is another wonderful ritual that makes me feel especially happy in winter. Having time with my husband to chat and catch up on the day is another ritual that keeps me connected. On the weekends I typically make breakfast for us, since he leaves so early for work on weekdays. I enjoy that also.
As I consider whether I should add anything, I believe I want to continue the work on the de-cluttering project I began last Spring. This has gone in fits and starts for me, usually when I get too annoyed by not being able to find things that I go all “KonMari” for a few days, in a frenzy. But this time I will follow through to the end, and really put things away at the end of every day, as she recommends once the big de-clutter is over.
The month of January for me is typically one of reflection and consideration of where my life is and where I want it to go. I know a lot of people use December for that, but really I find it too stressful between holiday hoopla and social obligations. There is no hurry to begin something new for me. When I commit, I like to go all the way. So I allow myself a few weeks to plan and dream while I get my daily routines back into place, and get my head back into work.
I have a new planner with monthly and weekly pages instead of a daily list. I am experimenting with that, making my daily rituals more routinized and still working with a to-do list but working to schedule that time in my electronic calendar instead of keeping the endless list. We will see how that goes. Really I am trying to take away, not add to all the obligations I create for myself.
What are your favorite daily routines, that keep you grounded and sane? I love hearing about what works well for others.
You know the song, right? It is a lovely one, a favorite Christmas song.
But now Christmas has passed, and this final weekend of 2017 we in the Twin Cities (and north) we are under a wind chill advisory. When I got out of bed this morning, it was -16F with a windchill factor of -30F. Where my parents live, it is -24F with a windchill factor in the 40’s below zero.
The window panes are indeed frosted and I post the photo evidence here. Fortunately, I think we have enough food in the house that we do not need to leave here before Monday.
I feel a little restless, having stayed up the last 3 days while my husband had to work. It was nice, and I truly enjoyed it, but I also enjoy some fresh air now and then.
This is one reason so many Minnesotans plan a winter vacation (escape) somewhere warm, usually in January, but February is a good month for that too. I realize it reflects privilege to be able to do this, and not everyone can afford such an escape.
Actually this year, hubby and I are trying to be frugal, and are not planning a winter vacation. We would like to buy a house in the next year or two, and that involves prioritizing our down payment savings. I have to confess that I am a “winter wimp” and I do not spend any more time outside in winter than is required.
Oh sure, when the temps are above 20, I will take a walk or something if the sun is out and the ground is not too icy. Back in 2008 I took a bad spill on the ice, broke my shoulder (hairline fracture) and injured my rotator cuff. It was painful, and I had a really hard time not being able to run or walk on a treadmill, or do yoga class.
It is incredible what a difference exercise makes to someone who struggles with a.d.d. or with the winter blues. Fortunately I have a gym that is only 1.6 miles away from home, and I can get over there if truly needed. I feel some guilt over wasting a lot of gasoline to warm up my car sometimes, but desperate measures, folks.
When I look back at my facebook feed from last year, I notice we were on Kauai for a wedding of two of my long-time friends. My imagination reaches back, and can access some of the warmth from that time. Aw, I really am a lucky chica. I found a photo from our motorcycle day trip into Waimea Canyon that I am sharing. Ah, sun!