Week One at the Gym

I shared in this post that I wanted to challenge myself to go to the gym 30 times between February 26 and April 8. I met with a personal trainer in mid-February who drew up a plan for me – 5 workouts a week: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 1 full body. The upper and lower body workouts are a little over an hour; the full body is a 2-mile run and time will vary.

I had originally planned to do a big post after 30 days, but by the third day, I needed something more than a lengthy goal, so I thought it would be good to check in after the first week and sum up what the first five days (does anyone remember that song The First Five Times?) were like.

February 26 – Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 was upper body. It started with a 20-minute run/walk and then moved on to mostly free weights. I felt energized and excited when I was done, but by 2pm I was basically toast. It was really hard to fight the urge for an additional cup of coffee.

I did not allow enough time for everything that was included, so there was a circuit of three things that I was supposed to do three times that I only did one time.

Summary: I need more time than I think because not feeling rushed is important to me when I’m learning something. 

February 27 – Day 2

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Day 2 was lower body, which still involved a lot of free weights. I’m really grateful that this plan doesn’t have me tied to a million machines. That morning, I noticed that I was, again, the only woman in the gym that early. Maybe because where I go is small? I was feeling a little achy from the day before, and I need to get better about allowing time to stretch both before and after.

The last exercise was dumbbell lunges and y’all… I barely made it through the first 10. I did a second rep of 10 and stopped, and didn’t do the third rep. I felt terrible for not completing it – when it was about not having enough time that made sense to me, but when it’s because my body can’t? That’s not something I’m used to. I felt kind of crumby for most of day two.

Summary: New disappointments are harder to navigate than ones I’m accustomed to.

February 28 – Day 3

Day 3

By day 3, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was still going. It’s been freezing cold here (in Michigan) and my car doesn’t heat up quickly so I leave for the gym freezing cold. I had class the night before so I didn’t get home until 9pm, which means I wasn’t even relaxed (let alone asleep) until around 10:30pm. That 5am wake up was basically impossible. I was grumpy and decided I was just going to do the full-body workout – the run.

Over the summer, I was running a little over a 5K (3.8 miles – the distance to my parents house) in 43 minutes. When I was at 15 minutes for 1 mile, I was ready to just throw the towel in.

Y’all this is the real – I’m giving it to you straight. Wouldn’t it be boring to hear another “exercising is the greatest thing ever! I love every minute of it!” I’m not going to lie. Working out does make me feel better but the process this day was crap.

Until I hit 1.5 miles. I told myself, “1.5 miles is 75%. If you got a 75% in your class, you would be doing all the extra credit in the world.” So, I kept going because I don’t actually like to do things half-assed. And it was a shitty half a mile, but the music was great and I felt better all day knowing that I had kept going.

Summary: When everything sucks, make sure you have good music because then it will suck less. Also, sleep is really important.

February 29 – Rest Day 1

Rest Day 1

Y’all, I couldn’t do Day 4 after what Day 3 was like. And I don’t mean that to be that I was giving up. I knew I wanted to keep going, but also that my mind wasn’t in the right spot for it. So, I decided on Day 3 to commit to at least one day of rest.

It was less rest-y than probably most days: my parents hired me to put in new flooring in their office. So, I pulled up carpet. And tack strip. And 10,000 staples. It was a workout all its’ own. I got home late (around 7pm) and tried to take some quiet moments for myself. My body was grateful for a long shower and some time in a big, comfy chair.

Summary: Rest is far more important than I usually allow it to be in my life. 

March 1 – Rest Day 2

Rest Day 2

On Day 3, I had committed to going back on Sunday (March 1), but the floors took longer than expected. It was cool to think about my body a little differently on that day. I could lift boxes and get up and down. I tried really hard on this rest day to think about my body as capable, rather than limited.

It was nice to do that on a day not in the gym because I think it set me up well for Day 4 – I highly recommend giving that a shot!

Summary: If I make it less about this idea of going to the gym and more about the idea of learning about my body, I have a better attitude.

March 2 – Day 4

Day 4 (1)

Day 4 felt like Day 1 in terms of my attitude. How crazy that I so seriously needed those rest days?? It was more mental than anything. I was doubting my abilities and feeling overwhelmed without realizing that was what I was feeling. Does that ever happen to you with things like this?

This was the second upper body workout and it also started with 20 minutes of running. I felt like I had better endurance on this day than I did on Day 1, which propelled me forward in a great way. The rest of the time was spent mostly with free weights and a handful of machines.

The only struggle I found myself having was that I wore leggings with no pockets, so I didn’t have a spot for my phone and headphones, so I carried them from spot to spot. Which was just annoying, not like, a serious problem.

I’m doing a no-spend week, but I think I might purchase one of those earbud cases that hooks to your keys when I have the chance to spend again. Or I might just actually purchase a second pair of leggings that have a pocket. I should update y’all on the status of my closet because there have been some major changes since the last time I posted about it.

Summary: I really like upper body workouts and never knew that before.

March 3 – Day 5

Day 5

Day 5 was a leg day and the day of my biggest revelation. I don’t hate leg day (I feel like that’s a thing that people talk about). I actually enjoy the sore feeling after. What I hate, and what I think probably caught up with me in that weird Day 2 & 3 space is that I need the run to get my brain moving.

I like the calculation of running for a length of time vs walking for a length of time. I like how lost in the music I get. Running is something that I know intimately and have done for most of my life. I  think I need it to boost my confidence because I’m doing so many things I don’t know. So, I’m going to add in 10-15 minutes of it on leg day because that’s what I need.

I discovered that my gym doesn’t have kettlebells so there were two exercises I couldn’t do but y’all – I killed those dumbbell lunges that I struggled with on day two. And by killed I mean I actually did all of them. I didn’t necessarily do them well, but I did them.

Summary: Add in something familiar when you’re doing something new or else your confidence will be shot.

What else?

The number one thing I took away from this week is that I can’t frame it in terms of “good” and “bad.” I went to the gym. I went. That’s actually enough. If I had gone and walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes more than what I was doing before.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

That’s it. There are 100 things in a day that I come across that I’m “not good” at. If I spent all my time thinking about them I would never leave my house. And if I told you each day about the 100 things I came across that I am “good” at, I would be the most annoying person ever.

So instead, I went. I went to the gym and I did these things that matter to me because they keep my heart healthy and help me manage stress.

Keeping it on those terms makes it easier to go and to keep going.

I did lose 1.6 lbs and I actually do think it’s important to talk about the number because the number connects to heart and whole-body health. But I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until April 8 (the 30-day mark) because I have a history of caring too much about that number. You’ve got to know your limits, not just in the gym but out of it as well. 

Oh! AND! I’m making this little playlist of the songs that are resonating with me the most each day if you want to follow along. It’s definitely made it more fun to have music to lean in to.A. Rose (1)

Updated Day in the Life: 2018

I have no shame when it comes to my fascination with peoples day in the life posts. I love them. I love biographies and I love schedules, so it kind of makes perfect sense.

When I did one of these in January, I actually learned a lot about my life. It seems a little soon to be doing another one, but a whole heck of a lot has changed since that last post and I think I need to do it for me, more than for you (though I do hope you find it interesting). My class was actually cancelled this passed Monday so I was able to actually devote some time to this little blog. It felt nice to put this down on paper.

Here’s a peek at a usual Monday. I may also do a Tuesday and a weekend day, just for my own sake, if you’re interested.


5:15am – The alarm goes off & I roll out of bed. D gets up at 5:15 now and is not quiet at all.

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He gets himself ready and I take a laundry basket I’d sorted and filled the night before downstairs to the washer. I pull out D’s protein shake; unload and reload the dishwasher and then make my lunch.

5:40am – D says goodbye & I keep cleaning.

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I pour myself a glass of ice water and a protein shake and head downstairs to switch the laundry. When I come back up, I set a timer for an hour, empty (and reload) the dishwasher and wipe up the kitchen counters. I also defrost any meat I might need for a crock pot meal.

By 6:05am – Yoga

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This is, by far, the greatest part of waking up early. I do 30 minutes of yoga almost every single morning. In the past, I was trying to do it when I came home from work, but I would end up feeling like something else was more pressing, or thinking that yoga was something I “had” to do, rather than wanted to do. At that time in the morning, I’m too tired to know the difference, so I just get it done.

6:40am – Shower

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True story: I’ve started brushing my teeth in the shower and I don’t even care if people think that’s weird. I don’t actually have buckets of time in the morning even though it seems like I should because I jam so many things into. So, I start brushing my teeth while I get my hair wet, wash my hair with my toothbrush still in my mouth, and then finish brushing while I rinse my hair. It sounds ridiculous. Whatever. It’s working.

6:55am – Get dressed.

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Similar Dress

Usually, I pick out my clothes in my head while I’m in the shower. If I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out my clothes the night before or if I’m feeling like a total over achiever, I’ll pick out a weeks worth on Sunday (the weather lately has been way too unpredictable for that though). So, I get dressed and make the bed while I’m in the bedroom. Then, I give myself until 7:10 to get dinner going in the crock pot.

7:10am – Hair and make up

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I don’t know why I set an alarm on my FitBit for 7:10, but I did. I use it as the signal to go brush my hair and put some make up on. It’s working, so I don’t totally question it. I try to keep my make up simple – mascara, blush, a little eye shadow – and lately I’ve just been brushing my hair and then going. Once the snow comes, I’ll go back to blow drying / curling it, but for now, I’m giving my hair a break.

7:20am – Finish dinner / Start breakfast and lunch

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I know – confusing, right? Whatever I stopped doing at 7:10 to do my make up, I finish up, and then I pull together both breakfast and lunch.
I start drinking that protein shake usually just before I start yoga and I finish it on my way to work, so that drink plus a bunch of fruit is usually my breakfast. Lunch is typically vegetables and some cheese. Then, I also pack some crunchy things for snacks – popcorn and rice cakes. I also usually have a banana and something + hummus because I have class at night.

7:30am – head to work!

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I have about a 30 minute drive to work and my boss is really flexible about when we arrive. I try to be as close to on time as possible, but realistically, I have to drive through corn fields and if I get stuck behind a piece of farm equipment going 25 mph in a 55 mph… well, it is what it is. *shrug*
I have a little walk in from the parking lot and I try to use the time to text my best friend. My schedule is really jam-packed right now, so I don’t get to see her a ton and I miss her a lot, all the time. This helps a little and I hope it helps her know that I haven’t forgotten about her; I’m just slammed.

8am-ish – arrive at work

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I’ve started making my morning about something other than checking emails. I used to come in and be bogged down with emails for the first three hours of the day. Instead, I go through and clear out any spam emails, color code what’s in there (this takes about 5 minutes), respond to anything immediate (i.e. from the Director or my boss) and then start in a project.

10:00am – break time.

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I go outside for my break and text my bestie back. I like to physically leave the building because it helps me clear my mind (and get some steps in). I usually call my mom and ask about her day and what’s she’s planning to do. It’s nice to have a structured, quick check-in with her and my dad, so that I’m always in the loop.

10:15am – back to those emails

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I spend a pretty good chunk of the day in emails. There’s nothing fun or exciting about this.

12pm-ish – Lunch break!

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I don’t really eat lunch on my lunch break. On Mondays, I usually do work on the blog; Tuesdays and Thursdays I do homework; and Wednesdays and Fridays I do work on the book I’m ghostwriting. If it’s sunny, I sit outside. If not, there’s a great room in the building I work in that’s full of windows and I like to be there.

1pm – Meeting with my boss

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This is my actual boss

Every other Monday I meet with my boss. If you’re able to have a regularly scheduled meeting with them just to talk, I highly recommend it. We go over the projects I’m working on, how things are going in the office, with school and in my life. It helps me to stay grounded. I usually write myself notes throughout the two weeks and then use those to guide me through our conversation so that I don’t forget anything.

2:30pm– back to work again!

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I work on a team with two other people, not including my supervisor. We tend to collaborate for a little while, divvy up the work, then come back together later. We work in a cool space that was built with our process in mind. So, we collaborate for a little while, then jump into what needs to be done.
This is also when I usually eat my lunch.

3:30pm – break time!

I walk around the building and make a call to the doctors office about an upcoming appointment. The building is big, but only takes 3-5 minutes to get around. I walk around it 3 times, then head back in.

3:45pm – cleaning up.

There’s about an hour and 15 minutes left of the day. I use the time to comb back through emails and attend to anything I might have missed. I finish up whatever I can on what I was working on. Then, I make a list of what needs to get done tomorrow, followed by what it would be nice to have done by tomorrow. That way, when I leave, I can really, truly leave because the tasks are somewhere other than just my brain.

5:00pm – closing time

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I shut everything down and walk across the sidewalk to the building where my class is. There’s an hour before it starts, but there’s a semester-long project for this class, so my group meets every Monday from 5pm – 6pm. The two women I’m working with are awesome! They’re so funny and smart and dedicated to what we’re doing. I’m really fortunate to be part of a group like this; it makes the work so simple.

6:00pm – class time!

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The classroom buildings are all full of leaves this time of year

Our desks are arranged in a semi-circle, because the professor prefers we’re in discussion with each other. This week, we’re talking about Social Identity Development. I love listening to peoples stories of their backgrounds and what resonated with them about the theories.

7:15pm – break!

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He’s been helping me study lately

Because the class goes until 9pm, the professor gives us a break in the middle to use the restroom, get food, whatever. I call D. It’s the first time since he left this morning that I get to talk to him. I only have 10 minutes so I quickly ask about how work was, and what he did after work. He asks me the same. I tell him not to wait up for me.

7:25pm – group activity!

This professor really values collaboration, so in addition to our semester-long group project, we also break into groups (different than our semester-group) to talk through different theories. Each group is usually assigned one theory that we read about and has to give an overview to the rest of the class. It helps us get to know each other and puts the theories into accessible language, which is super helpful!

9:00pm – Time to head home!

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It’s a short walk to my car, and then a 20-25 minute drive home (since there’s no traffic). I usually text D and let him know I’m on my way since most of my drive is through the country with no street lights. The deal is: if I’m not home by 9:45, he comes to find me.

9:30pm – HOME

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Finally! I hug the cat and sneak into the bedroom to give D (who’s already asleep) a kiss. He’s turned off the crock pot so it can cool, and left me a plate of food in the microwave. He also cleaned the family room and tidied up the kitchen table and bedroom. I sit down on the couch and eat real quick while I look at social media.

10:20pm – Bedtime

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After I take care of the dinner dishes, etc., I change into jammies and get into bed. D has been asleep so I change the TV from his show to mine (which right now is Pretty Little Liars, for the 10 millionth time). I usually make it about 30 minutes into an episode before I notice my eyes drooping. I put on the sleep timer and my eye mask and knock out, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

 

 

Grad School Real Talk

A few weeks ago I wrote this beautiful post about scheduling out all your school work and making this beautiful plan for the semester and being the worlds most organized person ever. It was a callback to a post I wrote last year about the same idea.

Scheduled Truth

I laid out this beautiful plan in my blogging calendar and on Monday I was going to talk about what kinds of things I plan and what the actual result is. A week and a half later, I was going to talk about how my school schedule was working out.

The truth is: the school work is getting done. I’m glad I put the effort in at the start of the semester because I’m definitely way more ahead of schedule than I normally would be by now. And I’ve come up with a weekend system that looks something like this:

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I can make this printable available if folks would be interested? Let me know.

But shit happens.

On Saturday, there was a standoff in my neighborhood. No homework was getting done that night.

In part because it was loud with the cops on a megaphone all night, and in part because on Sunday, I just needed to be with my family & D. So, I thought it would be much more appropriate to use the time I allotted to talk about schedules to tell you all, whether your in school or not, that it’s okay.

It’s good and important to plan. At least, I’m not going to stop doing it anytime soon! But let life happen to you. If something happens on Saturday that has you shook, but your assignment is due Monday, still give yourself some space on Sunday. You will be better able to do your work if you have rested.

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We have this idea that being overwhelmed with work and looking busy is a requirement of life, or graduate school, or the mid-20’s. But for real, it doesn’t have to be.

Do the things you love – I hope that if you’re here, you’re here because school is one of the things you l.o.v.e. But take the time to sit back and remember why you love it. Make a list and post it somewhere if you need to. Tell me! I want to hear it! And above all else, remember:

Action without reflection leads to burnout.
Reflection without action leads to cynicism.

Albert Einstein

You’ve got this. You’re going to be just fine.

Breathe. Relax. Hug someone you love. Then go do your homework.

Mind / Body / Spirit

I’ve been wanting to write down my thoughts on the connection between the mind, body and spirit for a long time, but I haven’t been able to find the words lately.

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I’m a pretty dedicated user of the HeadSpace app, I’ve been doing yoga since I was 15 and I work really hard at loving my body for the life it gives me.

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I started out thinking I’d like to write a post about what I believe the connection between the two is, how to facilitate it and what to do when you fall off-course. But, I decided that instead of that, I’d rather hear from you: what do you do to calm down? What provides balance in your life? What little things are part of your day that without them you would be struggling?

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For me, some of those things include: meditation, yoga, being barefoot, making lists, singing and laughing. I’ve been trying to focus more on being balanced. I tend to take on too much and then later wonder why I’m overwhelmed (how many of you can relate?). So I’m interested in hearing from you. Let me know in the comments how you stay balanced.

A. Rose (1)

Exercise Confession

I feel uncertain about writing about my body, and certainly have a lot of thoughts about why that is.

I’ve never been skinny.

I’m 5’2″ and tend to fall into the “full figure” category (which is the smaller end of “plus size,” apparently. *shrug*).

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I’m sure some of my reluctance is because figuring out all these terms that exist for women’s bodies is basically a full-time job. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot, because I actually love my body, my shape, how I move.

When I had my gallbladder out, I had to closely examine my relationship with my body and taking care of it. Not talking about it hasn’t helped me.

When I was younger,  I was a cheerleader, played volleyball, ran all the time. I grew up playing outside and riding bikes. I like to be active; I like to move and go. But I’ve always worked at a desk and prefer to read a book when I’m done with the work day.

That’s really what happens: by the end of my day, I think about going to the gym or going outside for a run, but instead I’m so worn out that I don’t stick with it.

But I know that I’m not a healthy weight. And that is of the utmost importance to me. I could care less what the number is: I care completely about how my heart beats and how easy it is to breathe.

So I’m going back to what I know: yoga and walking/running. I’ve been doing this yoga routine for years, off and on. And I downloaded the Couch to 5K app because I’ve liked the pacing of it in the past.

I don’t have a weight goal. I don’t care what size my skirts are. I only care that I feel like me again. I think I’d like to talk about that regularly here.

Is this a scary conversation for anyone else? What do you do to get over the fear of talking about it?

I Came Back

I took a break from blogging a little while ago. The things happening in schools halted me, and required me to take a step back and look at what I care about, and what I’m doing to impact the things that I care about.

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I’m glad I took the time away, because what I learned is that I don’t want to be away.

I have always loved to write, and I’ve always cared more about the process of doing something than the finished product of what got done. The two together make this the perfect place for me.

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And so I’m here, with a plan, and a lot in my head I want to get down, and a lot of your voices I want to honor. I hope this goes well for both of us. & I hope you’ll continue to join me here, where the intricate details of life are perfectly imperfect.

A. Rose (1)

Three Months Later

It’s been a little over three months since I had my gallbladder removed.

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I keep trying to find the right words to describe the difference between now and before. I can’t find them. Or, I can’t find them well.

My abdomen feels better. My circulation (maybe?) feel better. I’m not sluggish and sad like I was. But…

I still don’t really understand what’s going to make me sick.

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Cauliflower bites

It seems like it would be easy to say “stick with fruits, veggies and lean meats.” And it is. Except onions hurt. And apples. And sometimes kiwis but not always. And honestly, sometimes I just really want to eat some goldfish crackers. Or a bagel. Or some coffee.

So I eat them. And pay for it for a few days.

Some days, I bloat enough to be two sizes larger than usual.

Some days, the idea of figuring something out to eat is too complicated so I just don’t.

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Other days, I’m floored with the idea that my body has lost two organs (gallbladder and appendix) and still functions!

What modern medical marvel! What incredible feat of human evolution and engineering! How lucky am I to have a body at all!

Other days, I realize it’s been four days since I last got sick or put on jeans that didn’t fit.

Other days, I find a way to stay centered on gratitude for what I have, rather than what I lost.

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If you’re getting ready for this to be done, or if you just had it done: it’s just like everything else in life. It’s what you make it. It’s differently complicated. It will make you re-examine your relationship with your body on a regular basis and nobody will really understand what you’ve felt or are feeling except other people who did this.

It will be fine, if you can find the good in it. If you can keep yourself from getting bogged down by all the not-fine of it. And eventually, your life will level out again and you’ll get used to the four little scars on your belly.

You may even grow to like them, because they mean feeling so much better.

A Weekday in the Life

It makes me feel like a total creeper that I love to read Day in the Life posts from bloggers but I totally do. I did a half-hearted version when I talked about what my Saturday Morning looks like. But the other day, I read this one from one of my favorite bloggers and I thought about making one about the weekday, as a way to truly reflect on where my time goes. I thought it might help me. So, hold tight! Here we go!

Note: If it’s snowing or snowed the night before, all of the morning gets bumped up about 20 minutes, except the part where I get to work around 8am.

6:30am – “Wake up. For the love of all that is good, your day will be so much better if you wake up.”

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Alarm Clock

A few months ago, I realized how much I was on my phone, so I challenged myself to leave my phone in the kitchen when I went to bed. The first step to that was buying an alarm clock. I have yet to regret it.

6:32am – “Brushing your teeth will help you wake up. Seriously.”

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Similar Kettle / Travel Mug

I usually brush my teeth while I get a cup of tea started and take my make up out of the case. By the time I’m done brushing, the tea is usually ready. I pour the hot water in and sit down to do my make up.

6:37am – “I bet you can do your make up faster today than you did yesterday.”

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Dark Eye Shadow / Shadow Pallet / Light Eye Shadow / Brush was bought at Walgreens? like, a decade ago / Concealer / Mascara / Blush (similar) / Mirror (compact) was made by my oldest sister out of a Cover Girl powder that she hollowed out and put a Tori Amos quote on

I feel like that’s not the “normal” feeling about make up. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to my face. Eye shadow, mascara, blush, under eye concealer and done. I don’t know if this theory holds water or not, but my mother has gorgeous skin. She’s 60 and I’ve never seen her have a breakout, uneven tones or any kind of blemish. She also has never in her life worn a full face of make up. I don’t know if the two are connected, but I’m going to roll with it, because it justifies me not having to spend the time on it. The result is usually something still tired but a little perkier looking.

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6:47am 
– “Why is my hair like this?”

I have weird hair. It’s incredibly thick (like, if I put it in two braids, one of those two is the thickness of most peoples one braid if they were to braid all their hair one time… if that makes sense…) – even the strands are thick – and coarse. It naturally curls in every which way and usually heat causes it to straighten out unless I use a crap-ton of hairspray. If I wake up late, it goes in a ponytail and I just roll with it. But, I’ve been trying really hard lately to actually do it because I feel better when I do.

7:12am – “Thank goodness I picked out my clothes the night before. Sheesh.”

There’s no picture of this because it would just be a picture of my closet. I just group four or five outfits together and that’s my version of setting out my clothes for the week. #lowkey

I always forget that I’ve picked out my clothes the night before until the point of getting dressed. I don’t always do this, but I try to. Sometimes, when I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out five outfits on Sunday night!  That doesn’t happen often.

I own a very limited number of work clothes (about 7-9 outfits) which helps to keep things simple if I don’t pick things out the night before. Maybe I’ll write some more about how I got to a point of a limited number of outfits. Would that be something  you’d be interested in?

7:20am – “Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch. Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch.”

Planner / Cat Clutch (similar) / Cup / Food Storage Container / Work Tote

I pack my bag in the morning. Sometimes I do it at night, but it’s almost always first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, there’s a lot of different things I might take with me. I almost always take breakfast and lunch. If it’s winter, then non-snow shoes come with for me to change into at work. School stuff and snacks are a must. On Mondays and Wednesdays this semester, I leave my house at 7:30am and get home around 9:30pm, so I usually have a decent amount of food with me.

7:25am – “I shouldn’t wake him up. But I don’t want to not say ‘I love you’ and then drive through the ice.”

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D works four jobs with unpredictable schedules (ex. one of them is snow plowing, so sometimes he doesn’t have any hours of that for two weeks; sometimes he works 40 hours in a row without sleeping) and so I do my best to respect his sleep, and he does his best to respect mine. My most favorite and D’s least favorite part of the day is when I creep into the dark bedroom and say goodbye. He’s always warm and soft feeling and so I gently tell him that I love him and to have a good day. Often, I sit on the bed and put my socks and snow boots on while I talk to him. He hates that I wake him up as it’s happening. But every evening he says thank you to me for it.

7:30am – “I’m glad I have Spotify.”

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Seriously. This is not an ad. I just really feel that way. I drive anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes to work, one way. Having good music, where I don’t have to use my hand and skip the songs, is a must.

I also try to use this time to get ready for work. I don’t make a mental to-do list. I don’t get paid to think about work when I’m not there, so I don’t do it. Instead, I sort through conversations I had the night before; what kinds of things I need to do on my lunch break; and plan out my evening. Some days, a song comes on that gets me thinking about other things and I, instead, use the time to reflect on my relationships with friends and family. It helps. A lot.

8:00-ish am – “Tell the family you’re not dead. Don’t forget.”

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I’m really lucky to work in a place that’s flexible about what time you arrive when it’s snowing out. Most of the office lives 30 minutes away, with some as far as an hour and a half. So, when the snow comes, we all just adapt if someone’s not here. Before I get out of my car, I text my mom, dad and sister and let them know I got to work safely.

Note: I never did this before I lived here. My parents didn’t really care and my sister and I talk so much that she pretty much always knows where I am. But now that I drive on windy roads through fields with strong winds and big hills, my parents are always nervous, so I send the text. 

Slightly After 8:00 am – “Knock out what you can.”

I usually start my morning slowly. I drink my tea and check my emails and knock out as many little things as I can. This doesn’t always work as planned, but it’s what I try for.

Around 9:00am – “It would probably good to eat breakfast at home.”

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That’s what I tell myself every time I pull out a literal bowl of breakfast at work. I usually eat yogurt, fruit and granola. I keep the yogurt and the granola at work and just transport a mason jar of fruit back and forth.

Sometime between 11:00am and 2:00pm – “I should probably use my lunch break to eat.”

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I don’t though. I usually eat lunch around 2pm. Instead, I usually use my hour lunch break to take a walk and then do homework at my desk. I don’t really recommend this but I can’t figure out a better way to get through grad school.

My job is 50% database management, 50% putting out fires that are comprised of the very real emotions of young adults. Talking about a typical day is impossible because you never know who’s going to come in crying, who’s going to scream at you because they’re actually just scared, or if nothing at all is going to happen. I freaking love it.

5:00pm – “Maybe earlier than 5pm. Never later than 5pm though.”

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I leave work at 5:00pm. This time of year, the sun is starting to set. Depending on the weather and how much snow is on my car, I get home between 5:35pm and 6:15pm. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I drive directly downtown (about 45 minutes from the campus I work on) to the other campus to take classes until 9pm. But let’s pretend it’s a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

On my drive home, I usually call D to figure out what he’s doing, and spend the rest of the drive home thinking about the good pieces of the day.

5:45pm – “I know you were alone all day. I missed you so much.”

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I snuggle the cat when I get home and then I change my clothes. When I lived in Florida, I would take a shower after work. I usually didn’t wash my hair until before bed, but I had to do something to get the heat off me and it signaled that I was home. Now that it’s the opposite of 100 degrees here, I just change my clothes and put my slippers on, because slippers mean home to me.

6:00pm – “What should we make for dinner, kitten?”

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I’m pretty good about taking meat out the night before for dinner, but it doesn’t always happen. Around 6, I start figuring out dinner and set up at the dining room table to start my homework. If D is going to be there soon, I’ll start dinner (if it’s my turn) while I read. If he’s going to be working through the night, dinner is usually a grilled cheese or some applesauce. If he’s there, he usually watches TV with his headphones on while I do my homework and we eat separately. Twice a week, he does the cooking and while he cooks, I put my homework away so we can talk. Either way, whenever we’re both done, we do dishes together.

8:00pm – “If you don’t stop doing homework soon you’re going to be writing in martian.”

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I know two hours isn’t a lot of time, especially compared to what I did in undergrad, but after a full day of emotionally draining work, two hours of theory is a lot. So, instead of trying to push myself past my breaking point, I do two hours every day, except the weekends. On the weekends, I get the bulk of it done.

I clean up the kitchen table and usually one other cleaning thing – the bathroom, picking up clothes, sorting through something. I try to do one little area so that I don’t completely lose my weekend to cleaning.

8:30pm – “What about a shower? I should take a shower. I should always take a shower.”

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I freaking love showers. My sister calls the shower her “reflection chamber” and feel like that’s 100% accurate. Most of the time D and I take a shower together – sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s actually because we do some of our best talking when we’re trapped in the same tiny place together.

9:00pm – “Remember that time you wanted to start a blog?”

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Yep, that’s right. 9pm is prime blog-writing time. No. No, it’s really not. I usually sort through pictures, come up with ideas for posts, try to figure out how people actually get followers, wonder if I actually want followers, get distracted by Pinterest, plan out next weeks meals, realize I was thinking about blogging, start over again from the beginning.

9:45pm – “Remember that time you said you were going to relax more? Do that.”

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9:45 is usually when I crawl into bed, turn on Pretty Little Liars, and lie to myself about how I’m just going to finish the 20 minutes left on this episode.

11:00pm – “Honey, you said you were going to sleep at 9:30…”

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Every night, D reminds me of my constant mission to go to bed on time and how I’m not accomplishing it. Not in a mean way. He just points it out. I make an excuse. He suggests that I might be making an excuse. I huff about it. He lets it go. Then we hug and go to sleep.

I’m not a good sleeper. And as you can probably math from all of this, I usually get about five to six hours a night, which isn’t good for anyone in my life, least of all: me. I really am working on it. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and have set a reminder for 9:30 to start winding down so I can try to be in bed by 10am.

D and I have been talking a lot about what I could take off my plate and put on his to create more time in my day so I can sleep. The housework is the big conversation because right now it’s technically divided equally (in terms of a time/effort combo that we agreed on), but I’m still either not getting enough sleep or not getting enough relaxation. I’m open to suggestions! For real! I know I won’t last long at this pace!

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Thanks for sticking it out, if you made it through this whole thing. I actually didn’t know a day in my life would have this many details and it was really nice to reflect on it.

How to Survive Grad School (while working full time)

Truth? I don’t 100% have the answer for that. Classes started January 8. I’m taking two: one on Mondays and a hybrid one that meets six Wednesdays a semester. For context, I’m at work from 8am – 5pm and have anywhere from a 30-90 minute commute, depending on the weather. And usually on Saturday night I help D with work from 9pm – 4am.

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So, there’s not buckets of time, which I’m trying to figure out how to manage. So I thought I’d write down my top 5 things I’ve figured out so far, to help me remember.

1. Don’t be Hyper Organized

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I know that this seems counter-intuitive, but the thing is: life happens. And it happens. And it happens. I believe in being structured and having a schedule, but I include in my schedule the chance to miss a day of homework. I think it’ll help me out to actually write out how I came up with my current homework schedule, which is working really well.

2. Get Good at Saying No

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Yep. I know. Annoying. BUT, here’s the thing about saying “no” that took me a long time to figure out: you’re actually being kind to other people when you acknowledge your own limitsIf I tell you I can do something at a time when I’m overwhelmed, I will likely only give it a max of 80% of effort. How does that help you? Whether that’s a conversation or a pie, you aren’t helping by giving only a portion of your attention of something to someone else. So, get good at “no.”

I’m a big fan of “no, because, and.” “No, I can’t come over because I’ve only gotten 10 hours of sleep in the last three days and I want to be able to give you my full attention.” “No, I can’t take on an extra project because I have four going right now and I wouldn’t be able to give you my best work if I added another.” People almost always are like “Yeah! That’s totally fine!”

Note: use this with your boss sparingly.

3. Sleep is Your Friend

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My moms cat is hilarious

When I was 20, I could operate on 3 hours of sleep a night and still submit/create fabulous work. Now that I’m just a few months away from 30, getting around 6 a night is a serious struggle. I will adapt, but I also know that if I drop below 6, or don’t get more than that on the weekends, I’m going to turn into a zombie who can barely make sentences. I am willing to forego a lot to ensure that I’m getting enough sleep. It doesn’t do me any good to be half-asleep in class, and it’s risky to be half-asleep at work.

4. Meal Plan/Prep on the Weekends

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I cannot stress this enough. You can totally fly through life and never meal plan if you’re better at choosing healthy options than me. I just really like foods that don’t contribute to my overall health and what I’ve found is that when I don’t have something already with me, I’m not going to stop somewhere and get a salad – I’m going to stop somewhere and get a fried thing, or a carb-filled thing or a thing full of refined white sugar.

On the weekends, I fill up four mason jars with fruits (I keep yogurt and granola at work), make three or four salads, bag fruits and veggies for snacks and plan dinners. I look at my class schedule and my homework schedule and use that to determine how much of whatever it is I’m making. I take leftovers with me to class and on heavy homework days, I make sure to throw something in the crock pot the morning of. This is giving me good, natural energy and saving me a lot of money.

5. Post Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

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In undergrad, I had to get homework done. I needed A’s and I needed to get through it to get a job. That was it. I learned a lot. I had a lot of fun. But it wasn’t in my soul the way this program is. On some level, I’m in grad school because I can’t move up and get a better job with more pay without it because the field I’m in. That’s never not going to be true. But what brought me here is the idea that I cannot stop caring about children and education and the things that influence both. I would stop being me if I stopped caring.

And so all over my desk at work and all over my house, are these reminders that the purpose of me going isn’t to get it over with: it’s to be fully inside of it and soak up every little detail as best I can. That’s what will make the difference in the end.

 

What I’m Learning to Avoid

Have you ever read The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot?

It’s a poem about a man, so consumed with anxiety that he asks himself these absurd questions like “Should I dare to eat a peach?” My favorite line in the poem is “I measure my life in coffee spoons.” I think about it frequently and often use it to describe how I’m feeling.

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Prufrock was so anxiety riddled that he could only focus on these small increments of time. And he had to focus on them. He had to measure his life using the smallest measuring device he could think of. And he missed life because of all the measuring.

I do that a lot. I time things – laundry, cooking, my drive to work. I’m in a constant state of measuring and missing out on living. And I’m trying really hard to make that different.

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Which seems like the opposite of what’s happening by writing. Here I am, sharing thoughts and ideas on saving time, saving money, saving space, but saying that I want to stop being so focused on time.

The truth is, I do all these things so that more of my time is flexible. Certain piece of life need doing – laundry, bill paying, grocery shopping. Those things might change over the year, but you’re always going to have things in your bucket. So I’m trying to figure out ways to do them and use the least amount of time possible.

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And more than anything else, I’m trying to get right with all the times I fail at it. All the times I wake up 30 minutes late; all the times I forget to turn the dishwasher on; all the times I decide to watch TV instead of whatever I’m supposed to be doing. What’s that line from that song? “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans?”

I don’t want to be too busy to see it. I don’t want to be too busy to love myself through my mistakes. And I don’t know if this is the right way. I just know this is the way I’m doing it.