Rise & Shine: 30 Days of a Morning Routine

morning

Well I have taken quite a hiatus. Nearly four months of one from writing this blog. I would blame it on being “busy” but honestly it is more I have not pushed myself to write. Writing, even though it brings me joy, can be frustrating. It is also like having a second job and there are days (multiple days) when I do not feel motivated and instead of doing it anyway I give in to my lazyness and skip it.

I have had a lot of time to reflect these past four months and have taken time to really sort through my priorities for the life I want. I want to be productive. I do not mean busy. Productive to me includes rest, but it also includes perseverance towards the things that matter. This means working towards goals and sorting through my life meticulously spending my time on what it is important and abandoning what is not. Busy is what I do to distract myself from dealing with emotions or problems. It is also something I do to feel better about myself because social media tells me if I am busy then I am successful.

For me, in order to be productive I have to wake up and get to work. I have a tendency to lackadaisically waltz through life, hitting snooze on everything literally and figuratively. So my goal for the next 30 days is to stick to a morning routine that will set my day up for success and purpose.

I hate mornings. Sounds like something Garfield the cat would say in the Sunday comics section, but it is true. As much as I wish I was a morning person, I cannot seem to motivate myself to crawl out of bed when the sun rises with a smile plastered across my face (looking at you Cinderella….) I certainly envy those who do.

I have tried to set my alarm early, labeling it in my iPhone something cute like “Rise and Shine” (this is pre Kylie Jenner by the way) or even something motivational like “Get up and shower, you slob”. Still, I hit the snooze button, throw my hair in a bun, and then run out the door with hot coffee spilling down my hand and my lunch left on the counter.

I may not love getting up early, but I have learned that it is essential to making sure I can get ready for the day without feeling rushed or stressed. This way I spend the day feeling good, working better, and staving off the inevitable side effects of work stress. The key to being able to start my day off earlier is to wake up earlier. Not rocket science. Nothing starts my day off worse than hitting my “snooze” button multiple times and then realizing I have fifteen minutes to get to work.

The only way to wake up earlier and feel good is to go to sleep earlier than I want to. Again, not rocket science. People will argue that due to kids, work, insomnia, or any other laundry list of reasons, that it is impossible for them to go to sleep earlier than they already do. That may be true for some, but I believe for most the situation is similar to mine. I find excuses to stay up like binge watching episodes of my favorite tv shows or reading memes on my cellphone until odd hours of the night. Instead, I have started packing my lunch and picking out my clothes the night before and setting a bedtime and sticking to it.

For 30 days, starting November 1st, my simple morning routine will look something like this:

  1. Do NOT hit snooze. This one is going to be the hardest part of my day, guaranteed. I obviously lead a very privileged life. Hitting snooze means I am already procrastinating and sets up my day to be the same as my first moments awake. I will be waking up at least an hour before I usually would. This gives me time to complete the below items.
  2. Wash Face. I have never done this until recently. I started splashing my face with freezing cold water in the mornings and it (obviously) works. It is horrible, but it works and it wakes me up.
  3. Drink Water. Every night I will fill up my water bottle and set it on my bedside table. Then when my alarm goes off at its normal offensive morning hour, the first thing I do is lean over, grab it, and just start chugging to replace all the fluids I have lost while drooling and sweating through the night.
  4. Eat Breakfast. Seems so simple, it is literally in the name: break fast. Our bodies need fuel after a long sleep, we have to end the hours we went without fuel for our bodies. In the mornings I will take a breakfast to go or eat at home, regardless, I will eat. Breakfast will provide me enough energy to get through my morning and hold off the “hanger” until lunch.
  5. Meditate/Pray. Every morning I will take at least five minutes to meditate. Five minutes seems like such a short time, but I cannot sit still. Even when I am watching a movie I have to be doing something else. Five minutes to sit in silence can sometimes feel like torture. So I will start with five minutes and work my way up. This five minutes will also be time to pray. My anxiety significantly decreases when I talk to the big guy/gal upstairs and it is a wonder why I forget to do it every morning.
  6. Write. This morning I am awake and finishing up this post. Taking the time to sit and write takes more discipline than I usually provide myself. I keep wishing I was a writer and instead of doing the one thing writers do (write, obviously) I make excuses as to why I do not have the time. This is why I am setting a morning routine and waking up earlier, specifically to write. If I want to be better at something then I have to practice and the only way to practice writing is to write.

For the month of November I am going to see if the hype of a morning routine is all it is made out to be. While waking up early for me is a challenge, I want to improve my life and one way to do it is being more productive. To be more productive I have to stop laying in bed and scrolling through Instagram wishing my life looks like other productive peoples’ lives. If you read about successful people, one thing that consistently comes up is they wake up early and get going. I intend to test the theory and hopefully not cry in the process.

30 Days of No Shopping.

Spoiler alert: I like to shop. Similar to a lot of people with shopping problems I like to find deals. As I have stated previously, I love the hunt, to dig through the racks of vintage or used clothes and find cheap treasures that otherwise would have cost me a small fortune. The irony is that I spend money on things I do not need or sometimes do not even particularly like because I think I am saving money….. The problem with shopping-especially thrifting-is that I wind up with a bunch of excess items because they were a “good deal” or I saw something cute and felt I might “regret it” later if I didn’t buy it. The photo above is a great example of a thrift find I purchased because I worried I would regret it if I did not buy a white sequined dress from the sixties, you know, a very reasonable closet must….

There are things that do not go together like toothpaste and orange juice or minimalism and a shopping problem. I recognize that in order to work towards a more minimal and meaningful life I have to give up some stuff, literally give it away and get rid of it. There are mental things that weigh me down but also a lot of physical things, like clothes. Clothes for me is the biggest issue, it always has been. I buy items to fit the person I want to be instead of the person I am. Fit is both literal and figurative. Clothes I buy can be for the size I wish I was as well as for the personality I wish I had. I will see some bohemian goddess wearing a floral jumpsuit and I go hunting for a floral jumpsuit because I want to be a bohemian even though I do not really like jumpsuits. It is almost as if I forget that just because I wear the outfit of a bohemian goddess does not make me one. Just like wearing a pantsuit does not make me Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or wearing crop tops with heels make me Jonathan Van Ness. My ultimate goal is to stop and figure out my style and only buy what fits my current body and what I actually like and need, but for now I just need to take a step back and just stop buying altogether.

These next 30 days I will not be buying any unnecessary items. These include:

  1. Clothes, obviously.
  2. Home Items: artwork, dishware, linens, knick-knacks, furniture, etc.
  3. Fast Food.
  4. Beauty products: Duplicate make-up, nail polish, face-masks, etc. (This does not including needs like shampoo, sunscreen, or toothpaste if they run out).
  5. Media: Books, movies, apps, etc.
  6. Misc: Soveniers, candles, or any other items I see at TJ Maxx and convince myself I need to have…

Things that I am allowed to buy are necessities like shampoo or the items mentioned above, groceries, or gas. Other things that are not included are experiences. Paul decided to join me for this 30 day challenge and we agreed to not exclude experiences as part of the 30 day no-buy. This includes going out to eat or drink (if with friends), concerts/live shows, movies in the theatre, surfing/snowboarding, and weekend getaways. We gave ourselves a pass because we have a friend’s birthday coming up that includes a weekend getaway and the whole purpose of this shopping ban is to stop buying frivolous things. I believe spending time with people you love and spending money on experiences over things is not frivolous, it’s valuable.

This 30 day ban is really going to test me. When I feel sad or stressed I go to thrifts shops and wander around, buy things and then it makes me feel better. This is the reason shopping can be an addiction. It gives you a pick-me-up, a feeling of euphoria until the second you get home and realize how much you spent. Then the guilt comes calling. The same is true for thrifting. Am I really saving money if I am buying things I don’t really need? If we are not testing and pushing ourselves then we don’t grow. So in the next 30 days I fully expect to grow like a redwood.

30 Days of Less Waste.

The last 30 days have been all about waste. I have made it a point to really focus on all the unnecessary waste I create while living as a middle class person in America. When I really paid attention I was disgusted with how much I, a single human, can create.

My goals for the last 30 days were to focus on five areas where I could reduce waste. They included: not buying new clothes, bringing my own reusable coffee cups to coffee shops, bringing my own bags to the grocery store, creating less food waste, and bringing my own containers for restaurant leftovers. 

Out of the fives things I did there were three things I did great at, one I did okay at, and one I failed miserably at. As much as I would like to give myself credit for the things I did well, there is always room for improvement.

I will review the things I did great first because I should be kinder to myself and highlight triumphs verses failures. As Lana Del Rey in her song Blue Jeans says “Whether you fail or fly, oh shit at least you tried”. Overall, I improved my carbon footprint and was more mindful of my choices and will continue to improve moving forward.

  1. Buying Clothes Used/Thrifted:

I love thrifting. I love the hunt and findings deals. I make a list of what I need and I go “digging”. When I find something I need for a deal it is like finding gold. With websites that sell used clothing and an abundance of thrift stores in my area, buying clothes used was something I succeeded at and enjoyed doing. For 30 days I did not buy a single clothing item new. This saved resources like water, fuel, fabric, other natural resources, which includes (all) costs of labor. It also kept the clothing out of a landfill and more money in my pocket. My next focus will be not to shop for clothing as I have a thrifting addiction…..

**Ps. My husband, Paul openly mocked me for taking photos of my thrifted clothes that I laid out on the floor for this photo.

2. Reusable Coffee Cup:

I went out for coffee/tea four times in the last 30 days. I usually make coffee at home to save money, but I traveled for work during two days-which meant it was easier to get coffee from a shop vs the Keurig (aka an environmental disgrace) in my hotel room. I also went out for coffee once with my husband as a treat, and one day I just really wanted a matcha latte with macadamia nut milk from a really good local coffee shop just because (and also because I am a millennial and love my fancy milk and fancy tea). Every time I got coffee I brought my reusable cup. I went to Starbucks one time and they used a plastic cup to make my drink and then poured it into my reusable cup and threw the plastic cup away. Therefore, I did not go to Starbucks after that. The other, local coffee vendors made my drink in a steel steamer cup and then poured it into my cup. All vendors gave me ten cents off my drink for bringing my own cup. I kept a clean reusable cup in my car so I would always have one ready for any impromptu coffee stop. Good for the environment and my wallet.

3. Reusable Grocery Bags.

During my 30 days of using reusable bags, my hometown banned single-use plastic bags in retail stores over 10,000 feet (3040 meters) in size. The ban went into effect nine days ago on April 1, 2019. For smaller businesses, the ban will go into effect September 1, 2019. This ban is a huge step towards a more sustainable environment! The past 30 days I have made sure to bring my reusable cloth bags every store I have made purchases, especially for groceries. Some grocery stores even gave me 10 cents off every reusable bag I brought in. In order to be successful, I kept the bags in the back of my car and the moment I got home after shopping I emptied the bags and put them right back in my car. I even got Paul to start using reusable bags before we even knew about the plastic bag ban. Getting him to bring reusable bags to the store I would say was my biggest accomplishment of the 30 days.

4. Less Food Waste.

Food waste was one thing I did okay at improving. I really tried to buy fresh foods that I would be eat before they rotted. I did really well in the beginning. When I noticed there were vegetables in the fridge starting to turn I added them to soups or cut them up and froze them for later. I stored food in airtight jars so it would stay fresh. I even tried to clear out the fridge to avoid missing food and it expiring in the back. One time I cooked a chicken in my Instant Pot and saved the broth leftover to use for another recipe. There were a few times I missed items like a red pepper in a container that was half chopped and got slimy, a moldy container of (unrecognizable) leftovers, a sweet potato that was wrinkly and growing extra sprouts, and a carrot that was hidden under a bag of apples that was shriveled up. Otherwise, I really focused on eating up leftover foods to avoid them going bad and was more mindful about not overbuying items that would not get eaten quick enough. There is room for improvement, but I am getting better at improving my waste. I even am going to purchase a compost bin for food scraps so I can turn it back into nutritious dirt for my garden.

5. Reusable Takeout Containers/Utensils:

I did terrible at remembering to bring reusable containers to restaurants for leftovers. I did not even do it once. I had a reusable container in my car ready to use and still did not manage to use it. I went out to dinner a few times in the last 30 days. One time I went to a restaurant that had a bunch of food trucks lined up, but we went in Paul’s car so I did not have the container. I saw everyone was using paper plates so I figured I would be fine, but unfortunately the food truck I chose had styrofoam containers (aka satan’s takeout containers) instead. Another time, I was out of town for work and ate most meals out. One of the times I ordered what I assumed was a light breakfast, but ended up being a feast. I did not want to waste the food, but I had forgotten to bring my container on the trip so I asked for one. It was (of course) styrofoam. Then a few days later I went to visit my friend who was sick and she had ordered us ramen to be delivered to the house before I got there. The food arrived in plastic containers with plastic utensils and in a plastic bag. The only time I ate out that did not require a container was when I had a friend eat the leftovers because I had been in Paul’s car and had forgotten my box (again) and did not want to waste takeout containers. Needless to say, I sucked at this one. The only perk was I kept a fork and spoon and reusable napkin in my tote bag so any time I needed one of those items I had them handy. When a coworker wanted help eating their takeout I pulled my own reusable spoon out to use. When I needed a napkin for my snacks at work, I used my own.

There were many things I improved upon in the past 30 days to decrease my impact on the environment and some that could use more work. While I chose to focus on these five, I incorporated other things like using reusable bags for my snacks instead of ziplocks, buying a shampoo bar and bar soap instead of ones in bottles, and even remembering to turn off the lights for every room I left in the house. These are small changes, but if every single person could make similar, small changes the world would see a big impact. I am motivated to experiment and consciously make more eco-friendly choices because as the philosopher Albus Dumbledore once said (and because I want to end on a Harry Potter quote) “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”

Beach, Please.

My friend invited me and a few of his friends to go surfings three weekends ago on the Oregon Coast. Oregon is not known for its warm beaches and is not people’s first choice for surfing. While there definitely are surfers in Oregon, they are not like the kind featured in my favorite teen surfer movie Blue Crush- with board shorts and tribal tattoos. In fact, when Oregonians brave the waters they wear 3mm thick wetsuits, masks, hoods, booties, and gloves. That is because Oregon coast waters are polar and the beaches are rainy with winds blasting sand so hard in your face it feels like being stabbed with needles. I am not being overly dramatic, honestly.

The weekend turned out to be unseasonably warm- as if God purposely wanted a clear view to watch me drown as I attempted to surf. I pulled on my wetsuit (which smelled like old urine) and it squealed in protest as I tried to pull it up my thighs. We all made our way down the narrow steps to the beach and that is when I saw what I thought was piles of multicolored pebbles washed up on shore. As we got closer, I realized it was not pebbles, it was plastic. Little pieces of blue, red, black, yellow, and white plastic. There were chunks of styrofoam, shreds of bottles, and even plastic bands of watches littering the whole entire beach. The photo above is just a section of what the whole beach looked like.

Oregon is my home. Arguably, one of the most beautiful states in U.S. with mountains dusted with snow, evergreens sprinkling the whole state, and of course, the frigid but beautiful beaches. Almost everywhere you drive looks like a postcard. It is the perfect place to raise kids, or in my case, my 95 pound puppy. One can only imagine how it felt seeing my Oregon beaches resembling a dumpster.

I am one (fairly average and insignificant) person. I claim to “care” about the environment, but let’s be honest, I do do more harm than good. As a human I create waste; we all do it. By just being born we impact the environment. If you were born in a hospital just think of all the disposable medical equipment (gloves, for example) it took to deliver you safely (and hygienically) into this world.

As the wise Helen Keller once stated, ““I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everythingbut still I can do somethingand because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Here is what I can do: I can mindfully choose more environmentally friendly options when going about my life. There are people more dedicated to an environmental friendly lifestyle (looking at you people who use “washable toilet paper”. Yes it is real, you can buy it on Etsy or make your own……). I am not quite there as far as dedication. I am going the route of baby steps, per my usual M.O. I meet goals one wobbly step at a time. Once I meet one small one I titrate up to more. For the next 30 days, I am going to do five things to reduce my waste:

  1. Less disposable coffee cups. According to Earrthday.org 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used each year. These are coated with plastic to laminate the inside of the cup and then there are the plastic lids on top, so they are non recyclable nor compostable. I have a great coffee Hydro Flask (not sponsored, I wish..) and I will be using that anytime I get coffee to go. A lot of coffee shops give a discount if you bring in your own cup. This includes Starbucks, which gives 10 cents off in America.
  2. Less plastic grocery bags. According to Earth Policy Institute,  a trillion (!!!!) single-use plastic bags are used each year, which is nearly 2 million each minute. Plastic bags are one of the top polluters of our oceans. I do not know about you, but I have reusable bags coming out my eyeballs from events and God-only-knows where, so I will be using those not just to grocery shop but for any type of in-store purchases. I even got a bag that folds up tiny and can fit in my purse for emergency shopping trips.
  3. Less Styrofoam. Styrofoam is basically “the devil” (as Bobby Boucher’s mom from The Waterboy would say….) There was tons of it on the Oregon coast and it definitely does not biodegrade. According to Green Dining Alliance, the world produces more than 14 million US tons of polystyrene (plastic foam) each year. It also notes that just Americans alone throw away around 25 billion Styrofoam cups every year. The culprit for me is takeout containers. I love leftovers, but I notice that when I ask for a box I am usually brought a styrofoam one. For this, I intend to bring my own container for leftovers and leave one in my car and if need be, put it in my purse. This way I can say “boy, bye” to styrofoam hopefully forever.
  4. Less food waste. Guilty. The biggest thing for me to work on will be wasting less food. I have a habit of buying or making things and then forgetting about them in the black hole that is the back of my fridge and leaving them to rot. Just the other day I bought a yellow squash and forgot about it and then found it too late. According to the USDA, in the United States, food waste is estimated between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds of food and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Fuuuuuck! There are people starving all over the world and here we are wasting 133 billion pounds of food. I am sure the number has only gone up since 2010….
  5. Less new clothes. According to PBS, Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — each year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. Not only do we throw away clothes which creates waste, but then our clothes come in non recyclable packaging. According to Sciencemag.org over half of the world’s plastic thrown out in 2015 was plastic packaging. That’s over 141 million metric tons! I know packaging also includes food and other packaging, but still. Let us also not get into the unfair labor and fossil fuels it takes to make our clothes…. With websites like Poshmark and Ebay where you can buy and sell gently used clothing online and of course, brick and mortar thrift stores, there is no need for me to buy new clothes for the next 30 days. Not to mention it is better for my budget to buy used than new.

I know there are way more ways to improve the planet and maybe even better ones, but these are the ones I believe I can attain for the next 30 days and then hopefully I can add more and work my way up to living in my own self-sustaining treehouse community. Still not going to do the “family roll” (the formal name for reusable toilet paper) thing, though. Sorry, not sorry.


Bad Habits Die Hard.

tree

Starting a blog about minimalism in 2018 seems to behind the times.  You can just “Google” the word Minimalism and hundreds of blogs and posts come up. Minimalism has become an advertising slogan and has been bashed in many articles as a fad rich people can “buy into” (not totally untrue). My blog is not to educate on “How to Become a Minimalist” or to brag about my minimalist lifestyle. The reason for my blog is to document the slow change of living 20+ years of life consuming mindlessly and trying to buy confidence, love, and happiness and now taking steps  to change my mindset and habits to live life more intentionally (and sometimes failing miserably). I wanted a place to document my trials and errors.

Speaking of errors, with all the intention of starting to live a life with less, I failed spectacularly this past week. Labeling myself “The bad minimalist” was supposed to humble me and highlight my inexperience, but a side effect I did not foresee was that it (unfortunately) gave me leeway to continue living my consumer-driven life with the excuse that I am bad, so it’s okay if I give in and shop a few times. The goal of stopping mindless consumption was halted when I was invited to the “employee store” of a company my friend works for. It is a store that you have to be an employee or on an employee’s list to enter and you get half off of all retail priced items. Upon entering the store, I was overwhelmed by the racks and walls of clothes, shoes, and outdoor gear all marked 50% off, not to mention I was handed a coupon from the front desk offering another 10% off of purchase. There is nothing I have a harder time resisting than a “good deal”. I went wild, piling clothes up on my arms, justifying the need for them even though in reality I could have parted with the majority of them. I had a list of what I needed for an upcoming hiking trip to Tibet and it only included two things. Instead of just getting the two things, I came home with six. Six may not seem like a lot of items, but I even gave myself a pep talk before driving to the store to only buy what I needed and yet I still ended up bringing  triple than what I should have. The only plus is that I was able to put more items back than I normally would have, so instead of bringing home twelve I brought it down to the six. The other thing I brought home: guilt.

Every time I go shopping, even if it is at the thrift shop, I usually come home with bags full of items I don’t need and a gut full of guilt. Usually I am buying things for the person I want to be, not for who I actually am and usually the things I buy are not even my style. I buy certain shoes because I saw my sister-in-law wearing them and want to be stylish like her. I buy the name-brand hiking pants because in the ads the women look so adventurous and that is how I want to be. I buy the make-up so hopefully I can transform my face into a Hadid sister instead of having to look like me. I buy the furniture so my house will look like a Pinterest board. I even thrift through the racks of discount items, digging through them until I come up with a treasure, which will make my blues abate for awhile. All of it gives me a temporary high, but then once that wears off I am stuck dealing with the real me, my real life, which then proceeds to lead me to pine over the next item I need to make me feel like I have my shit together and not a total loser.

My goal for the is to wean myself off the tit of excessive consumerism. To appreciate all the things I already have in my life and to stop pining for a lifestyle that I do not have or to try to be a person that I am not. In the upcoming months, I will be setting goals for myself to gradually reduce the urge to shop, scroll, and spend my time and money on things that ultimately cause more harm than good. I may be a bad minimalist now, but I intend to work towards being a damn good one.