Get Rid of Stress/Anger/Frustration, and Find Inner Peace

I’ve been going about this slow-paced lifestyle all wrong: trying to ease the stressors of everyday life by trying to organize the outside factors in my life. I’m not saying that doesn’t help, but it certainly doesn’t solve everything. 

I’ve had an epiphany just now and realized that it doesn’t matter how empty my house is, (minimalism) or how stress-free my work environment is, if I’m not contained in a bubble of inner peace. I need an aura around me that neutralizes any energy that conflicts with stress-free, slow-paced life I’m trying to establish here. Because even if my world is chaotic, I won’t even notice if I’ve surrounded myself in 360 degrees of inner peace.

Yesterday was a pretty horrid day at work. Things did not go my way. And I took to the Internet looking for a way to assuage my anger and frustration. It’s funny how all articles geared towards calming you down are really there to shake their finger and say you shouldn’t have gotten angry in the first place… helpful, right? Well it didn’t help me. So I after watching too much anime (call me a nerd, I don’t care), I realized that I needed a bubble of protection. So, no matter what the goofballs swing at me, their thoughts/actions/energy wouldn’t touch me. Imagine a sword having no effect as it nears your body; the sword melts into oblivion while you stand there protected by your bubble/positive aura/whatever.

Where might I get this bubble you might ask? Well I’m going to pull it out of the roots of my being and surround myself with it. And what the heck am I going to pull out of I’m feeling horrid? I’m going to pull out the wonder of the universe. I’m going to connect with nature, and use the full force of the Universe to support me. I’m starting to think that reconnecting with nature will help me establish a strong, stress-shielding bubble.

Ah, but what about the anger, you say?  All this thinking and I hadn’t figured out how to get rid of it. Until I found a couple YouTube videos on guided meditation. I watched this one video…. focused my attention on these naturalistic images, pushed my thoughts away, and the anger began to subside.

After a second and third video, I started to feel a little better. But what I realized is that you have to be ready to let it all go. If you aren’t truly ready to let the anger and frustration go, it will stay… and I’m not 100 percent now, but I’m way better than I was. I mean, I was holding back panic attacks while I was meditating.  I’m not there yet. I honestly think a few weeks of this will do me justice.

I’m not saying quit minimalism, spend money recklessly, and fill your life to the brim with obligations and responsibilities. I’m saying that even in the midst of chaos, you can find a peace so still and calm. that it won’t matter how quickly the wind blows.  Am I there yet? No.  I still get angry at a lot of things before I even have the chance to “ACT,” instead of instantly “REacting.”  Nonetheless, I’m going to to work on changing all of this, and I’d like to share this journey with you.

What You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now: #2 What to Wear

Clothing is a mode of personal expression, personal style, culture and history.  They keep us warm and dry. And without clothes, we’d all be walking around naked. We cannot escape these simple facts.  For me, however, I’m starting to feel like making clothing choices is taking too long. As I researched my Fashion for Minimalists post and began a massive clean-out of my closet, I realized it doesn’t matter if I have fewer clothes if I’m still spending all that time pondering what to wear.

Yesterday morning I changed my outfit three times. If I hadn’t, I would have been on time to work. Living a slower-paced lifestyle to me is about spending more time on things that matter and less time on trivial  things.  My only requirements for work clothes is that they’re comfortable, cute, modest, and keep me from being mistaken for a high school student. And even with my new reduced wardrobe volume, I lose 3.5-4 hours a week thinking about clothing, trying to figure out what to wear, changing outfits, and changing back.  I could have been writing, sleeping, or making breakfast. How much time do you spend picking out your clothes?

As most people in the USA probably have noticed, most guys take five minutes in the morning to get dressed.  Why is that? It can’t be that most of them are dirty, stinky slobs. No, many of them just don’t value the meticulous coordinating that women do. My boyfriend has 10 of the same shirt he really likes but in different colors; many men do this.  It is simple to get dressed in the morning if all you have to do is choose one of those shirts; you just go with whatever one is clean. Yet every single article currently in my closet is different in style/shape/color than every other article.  It’s quite silly really; having such a wide variety of clothes seems ostentatious when I think about.

This past weekend, I was staring at my closet after the massive clean out I was telling you about. It was pretty empty. And I thought to myself, “What a beautiful, stress-free wardrobe!” I had to keep myself from getting too relieved because I had a good amount of dirty clothes that needed to be laundered and put away.

Still, I saw the light.  I’ve realized the potential in having fewer options of what to wear. When I researched my Fashion for Minimalists post, I wondered if other people would wear the same clothes every day. Apparently they do. Johan Woods, in his article “Why Mark Zuckerberg Wears the Same Clothes Everyday,” says:

By turning daily choices into a routine (like how you dress), you free up mental and creative energy to be used for higher priorities.

The article, and that quote expresses my sentiment exactly. Spending time selecting clothing, especially for someone who is already pressed for time and energy, is a waste of time. Thinking more and more about it, I realized I WANT THAT! In theory, it seems so easy, so effortless. I want to get up in the morning, take 2 minutes to put on my clothes, not even thinking about what I’m wearing,  and get on with my day.  Well not the exact same clothes, but the same outfit.   Now I’m not going to strip my wardrobe down to 7 identical tops and 7 identical bottoms because I’d like some variety when I feel like getting dressed up.  Maybe one day I will. For now, I am going to make more changes that involve limiting the diversity of my wardrobe.  (I’ve realized that I have some transitioning from grad school clothes, to grown-up/professional clothes and therein lies part of my clothing issues…)

I decided that having multiples of my favorite pieces and wearing those often is the way to go. I’ve purchased two of the exact same black skirts that I’ve been rotating along with some other maxi skirts; getting dressed in the morning has become a lot easier.  The black maxi skirt is pretty neutral piece that can be dressed up or down. All I have to do is pair it with one of the bazillion (smh) shirts that I have and I’m good to go. Once I get my shirts paired down to the essential few, for work and for weekends,  I’m good. The idea to never have to have that issue, “What am I going to wear today?” take up more than a few seconds of my time.

Stressing out about clothing is really a pointless endeavor. While our society is vain, judgmental, and probably cares too much about what people wear, don’t you want to wear something that fits within your lifestyle? That is what this is about for me. I could try to coordinate many different outfits and keep up with the latest fashion trends, but it hasn’t been working for me. I’ve often gotten stuck wearing things I don’t want to wear because my job requirements, or its so freaking cold in the office that there isn’t a choice… I’m just trying to get to the point where I can wear what I want without it requiring any extra thought or effort on my part. Time and energy conservation is all part of the slow life.

What You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now and Why, #1 Your Weight

I wanted to do a 10-part series on the things that we stress over but really shouldn’t.  Over the next five weeks, I’ll cover Ten Things You Should Stop Stressing About Right Now and Why. I’ll post one every Monday and one every Thursday. (Yes, I’m getting started a little late, but why put my first post off until Thursday?)

I didn’t actively start caring about my weight until the summer before I was going to start college in 2004. By actively, I mean dieting, working out, and criticizing every lump, bulge, or pudgy roll. I knew I was a little chunky, and I noticed that a week of volleyball tryouts and church retreats (where I ate nothing but salad because there weren’t other choices for vegetarians) made me lose weight; I liked the weight loss. But like I said, I didn’t do anything on purpose to lose weight. Furthermore,  In high school, teachers made a point to convince us that that Twiggy-esque models in magazines were a minority and far from reality. At five foot one, I never wanted to look like those tall, skinny models anyway. Like I, said, I didn’t think about weight, or my body size all that much.

Nonetheless, the summer of 2004 I decided that I wanted to look good in a bikini when I went to Miami for college.  I started working out and going to the gym. I did a little dieting, but nothing too extreme.   Fast forward 9 years later, I’ve become weight and appearance obsessed.  I don’t know whether I ought to blame it on the media, the culture that surrounds me, or the fact that I have to wear shorts, skirts, dresses and tank tops 9 months out of the year in order not to sweat to death.  I cant say exactly when the obsession started. All I know is where I ended up.

I was looking for a specific number under 120 pounds.  In all this time, there were about 3 occasions in 9 years when I saw that number. During those occasions I was extremely active because I didn’t have a car and walked/biked everywhere. But outside of those times, I was focused non-stop on my weight.

Meal times are the three (or more) times a day I would stress about what I’m eating and whether or not it would make me fat.  You all know how frustrating and stressful it is to worry about weight.  The thinking, planning, organizing, counting, calculating, shopping, and the exercise routines from magazines… The rules, the internal debates of what I should and should not eat.  It is agonizing to see the scale go up two pounds after working out hard all week.

The only time I ever lost weight, was when I stopped worrying about it.  Nowadays,  I make sure I eat as healthy as possible (no wheat, few processed foods, no refined sugars etc.) and my body adapts accordingly by shedding extra pounds (on its own time).  It’s really that simple. You can do it too.

It’s time for you to stop worrying about a number on the scale, your BMI or body fat percentage.  Chances are, you already know the number of one of the three. But how does knowing that number help you right this second? It doesn’t change what clothes fit you, right now; it doesn’t bolster your self-esteem. It may momentarily motivate you to get in shape, but when that number doesn’t get lower after you diet and work-out hard for a few weeks, then what?  You need to forget that crap and simply focus on getting healthy.

The reality is, you know if you are doing the right things. And if you  are doing the right things your body will find a healthy weight. I’m not a doctor, and I’m sure there are exceptions, but eating right and staying active will eliminate weight problems. The number on the scale may not be a number that you like, and the “weight loss” may not happen on your schedule, but it will happen, and you will be healthy.

Nevertheless, you are going to trip-up.  Lately, I’ve veered off my diet a little bit, and I’m suffering the consequences.  Still,  there is no need to beat myself up about it.  Maintaining a healthy body is a life practice.  Just as I try to get enough sleep every night, but don’t, I also try to give my body enough nutrients by eating good foods.  If I want to live a long time so I do my best, and that’s all I can do. I don’t want to stress time and energy about a number on the scale.

***

Furthermore, you have to stop worrying about how fat you think you look. As you probably know, poor self-esteem about weight and physical appearance is largely manufactured by the images we see in the media. Every day I’m reminded that if I look a certain way, I’ll be sexy. But the media’s definition of  “sexy” is wrong, and neither you nor I will ever look that way. Nothing you can do, besides having a photograph of yourself airbrushed, will remove all of the real or imagined weight-related imperfections that you have. Even if you are 400 pounds, nothing can change that in this moment. What you look right what now, is what you look like, and  you have to be confident regardless of your size.

I say, take care of your body, and your body will take care of the rest.  All it takes is healthy food and physical activity to get everything in order. What the numbers say doesn’t matter. Your body will shed any excess fat without you trying to will it away.

On a related note, I’ve realized that how I dress myself influences how I feel about my weight and/or size.  Now I’m not talking about being fashionable or frumpy. I’m talking about how tight or revealing my clothes are.  Tight jeans and t-shirts offer very little flexibility in terms of weight gain or loss. Three to five additional pounds can make a pair of pants too tight on me.  And too-tight clothes make me feel fat and worry about my weight, food choices, and exercise frequency. Furthermore, I feel that all my “fat” is exposed when I wear revealing clothes.  I’ve started wearing maxi skirts a lot now, which “hide” day to day changes in my body weight, size or shape. Quite frankly, I don’t want to go back to jeans…And over the last week, I feel that my self-esteem about my body weight/size has improved just by wearing modest skirts. Obviously, that’s not for everyone, but it works for me.

I do want to talk more about clothing, but that will have to wait until next time.

How Stress Affects the Body

So I recently saw this awesome infographic on the Secrets of the Fed website. I know the site can be a bit provocative, but you really cant argue about this image. Every time I see something about the negative consequences of stress, it reminds me to stay focused.  I’m minimalizing and slowing down for a reason.  I need a clean & calm home environment, a healthy body, and positive attitude. The only thing I can do is be prepared for stressful situations by fortifying  my mind, body and spirit, so I can handle the physical ramifications of stress.

See the infographic below:

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com  No copyright infringement intended

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com No copyright infringement intended

On a tangent here… I’ve been reading this book on holistic treatments for pet health. It’s called The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein, DVM.  And Goldstein poses the question: why do some people and animals get sick and not others? He says that traditional medicine treats the specific illness, not the reasons why the person go sick in the first place. He suggests that illness happens not just because evil bacteria and viruses invade the body. It happens because the body is ill-equipped to deal with the evil bacteria and viruses that invade on a daily basis.

Following his reasoning, stressors weaken the body and make it susceptible to illness. Still, there will always be stressors.  I will always experience crazy drivers on the highway and annoying people who have to have their way RIGHT NOW. The only way I can deal with all of that is by strengthening my body with healthy foods, making my environment one that is supportive, and managing  my reactions to the stressors.

How to you avoid the physical consequences of stress?

Completing The Proverbial To Do List

Ball and ChainWe all have them. You know, that list of things to do that you’ve been tallying up in your head for weeks, months even. I’m not talking about the things on your daily to do list, like taking the dog out or washing the dishes. I’m talking about those items that are relatively low in priority on the daily to do list, but fairly high on the life improvement to do list.

I thought I’d remedy my to do list problem when I started this blog (about a year ago) by limiting myself to five major life improvement tasks per month. I was feeling overwhelmed with all of my commitments, and I needed to clear my head of obligations.  Getting down to only five major tasks relieved my stress at the time, but now, working on five life goals at a time doesn’t suit me anymore.  Five is too many to work on at a time, and since last year, my goals have grown and changed.

This is the current to-do list that is floating around in my head:

  1. Train the dog
  2. Spring cleaning sale
  3. Get back into an exercise program
  4. Study for (and take) the teacher exam
  5. Blogging for my other blog
  6. Work on my novel
  7. Finish my new website
  8. Find freelance writing gigs
  9. Post-defense thesis revisions (I haven’t defended yet and my adviser still isn’t satisfied with what I’ve got; she gave me suggestions to start incorporating into my piece)
  10. Find and apply for summer jobs

This list doesn’t include all of the stuff that I already do on a regular basis.  Every time I think of something else I need to do, it’s like I add a new ball-and-chain that I have to drag around with me.

I figured out that five was too many to tackle at one time when it got down to the wire with my Master’s thesis. In order to get that done, I had to forgo pretty much any other goals I wanted to complete. I had to be singularly focused.  (While I had no other choice if I want my MA), I got the thesis done, to my liking, within the allotted time frame.  Although I still have more work to do, it’s fairly limited and isn’t hanging over my head the way it has been for the past year.

When some people are extremely passionate about one life goal, they get into intense focus mode. They eat, live, and breathe that goal. They carry on with their usual everyday tasks, and put the rest of their energy into achieving that goal. Everything they see in front of them is just a stepping stone to that goal, whether it is relevant to the goal or not.

My friends, I am not one of those people.  I’ve always wished I could be passionate, dedicated, and singularly focused. But I am a dreamer, planner and a flake. I have many dreams, and I make all the plans in the world to accomplish those dreams. Yet on most days, I flake out on my plans. I flake out on my to do list and opt for internet, TV, relaxing, or lying around the house.  I read this interesting article called The Complete Flakes Guide to Getting Things Done. And it’s been helping me, so maybe it could help you too.

Nonetheless, I’d like to impart what I’ve learned from that article and from my experiences to you all.

Work on one thing from your list at a time. Like a said before, I had to focus exclusively on my thesis to get it done. Anyone that’s done a Master’s Thesis or a Doctoral dissertation knows that most everything in your life gets neglected when you are trying to finish up your degree. Don’t think about your other goals while you are completing that one goal. If you do, you’ll get distracted and procrastinate. Use laser like focus to zero in on that one goal and make it a daily priority. Work on it EVERY DAY, in EVERY SPARE MOMENT. Before you know it, you will have reached your goal and can move on to the next one. If you want life to be easier and less stressful, work on one thing at a time.

Treat every task on the list as if it were major goal. What if one of your goals is something you should be doing every day, but you aren’t  Sometimes our goals aren’t specific achievements marked with a certificate,   but habits we’d like to develop, like meditating, working out, writing every day, learning a language or working on our craft, etc. To prevent getting overwhelmed and stressed out, focus on this habit exclusively, as if it were any other life improvement goal. Don’t try to start working out, for example, if it isn’t already a habit, while you work on another goal. Starting an exercise routine is just as challenging as doing a thesis or looking for a new job. Challenging yourself to start a new habit is difficult– I’m sure you’ve heard: it takes 21 to 66 days to start or break a habit. It could be three months before you can work out consistently, without making excuses. Don’t short change yourself the time you need to get a new habit started. If you do, you are setting yourself up for failure.  And once you’ve reached your goal of making that task a habit (like exercising), then add another.

Make your reward for reaching your goal, unrelated to that goal. For example, I’m trying to work out more. My reward isn’t “weight loss” or “better health,” even though I’ll earn those things by exercising. My reward has nothing to do with my weight; it’s not a new pair of smaller sized clothing (that I have to lose weight to wear). My reward for working out is a new guitar.  All I have to do is exercise 80% of the days from March 1st until May 1st, and I get my guitar.

Do your best to keep up with other daily tasks. This was by far the most difficult for me while working on my thesis. It will help you from drowning in laundry and dirty dishes. Also, you won’t have those little tasks hanging over your head in addition to your main task.

Prioritize your life-improvement to-do list. Training my dog shouldn’t be as high up on the list as finding summer employment. She’s not destroying anything; my little pup is defying me and it’s just annoying. But I  will survive without training her right now. I must put my to-do list in order and work on the time sensitive items first. You would do that with any other to do list. Do the same with your life improvement tasks/goals.

And most importantly, think about one task at a time. Yes, I need to I need to find a summer job, my dog needs training badly, and I’m paying for a personal website that isn’t even up right now. But if I think about all of these things while I’m trying to make those final changes on my thesis, nothing is going to get done.  It’s just the way it goes. I tend to waste a lot of energy thinking about what I should be doing, instead of just doing it.  Giving myself permission to be single-minded assuages the guilt I have about not working on the other tasks. Is it really going to hurt me if I don’t exercise for one more month, if I haven’t consistently for a year? Probably not. If I’m thinking about it and feeling guilty, then I’m wasting time and energy I could be directing towards the goal I should be working towards.

I love the lyrics to this song, they’re inspiring and relevent so I thought I’d include the video in the post.

Jordin Sparks, One Step At A Time

The Power of NOW

I think I figured out what prevents most people from becoming a minimalist. I know I spend a lot of time blaming advertisers and our personal greed, but that’s nto the only the problem. See, here in America, we have this NOW mentality. I need to lose weight NOW. I want to get out of traffic NOW. I need the iPhone 5 NOW. (Remember, we were talking about the iPhone 5 for a year before they even introduced it.) I can’t wait for Modern Warfare 3 to come out; I want to play it NOW. We live in a world of midnight releases, sneak previews, and early-bird specials. The problem with slowing down our lifestyles is our inability to wait. Instant gratification seems to be the cornerstone of our society.

If you want to have less stuff, and be less stressed, consider being patient. You see a cute pair of shoes at the mall… instead of buying them right away. Wait. Go home, pay some bills. Feed your dog; go for a walk. Look at all the other shoes you have and don’t wear. I bet you’ll think twice about getting them if you have to go back to the mall.

The point is this, we need to get out of this “I need it NOW” mentality. Yes, advertisers feed off of this. But once you realize what they are doing to your brain, you will be able to recognize it. Think about it: Why do advertisers prey on the NOW mentality? Because that is where they have you at your weakest: your impatience and your dissatisfaction with what you already have. If you were patient and satisfied with what you do have, then they’d have to sell you on quality, wouldn’t they?

Instead of saying how wonderful and high quality their product is, they tell you they are running out, or the sale only lasts a few days. “Hurry, or you’ll miss it.” I remember Toys-R-Us was running two-day-sale commercials for two months! It’s not really a two day sale  if it lasts for more than two days, is it? They fed into your now mentality.   Macy’s has a one day sale like every week. The “Buy it NOW” thing is going on all the time. You are in a crazed frenzy trying to get something NOW, but the NOW is always here. it will always be here. You can’t be anywhere other than now, so why worry about things that aren’t here NOW, and deal with what is. There will always be a sale or a discount or something you want NOW.

The NOW mentality is very much tied into mortality. “You don’t have forever you know, so do X, Y, and Z, NOW or you will miss out.” Our way of life forces us to be concerned about being in another situation, not enjoying the one we are currently in.   If we were enjoying the NOW, we wouldn’t be worrying about what ISN’T here NOW.  And then, we wouldn’t be worried so much about mortality, would we. We’d be enjoying every moment and making the most of our NOW, and the end wouldn’t be so bad.

Managing Stress: Where to Start

Conquering stress is not as easy as it sounds.  If we had the resources, we could remove nearly all stressors by quitting our jobs, and buying a first class, one-way ticket to a quiet island in the Caribbean. We could spend our days sipping mojitos and sunbathing. Now, that is a stress free life. Most of us, however, can’t eliminate all of our stressful commitments with the drop of a hat. We have obligations and responsibilities– many of which we care about very much.

Managing stress is a difficult task because it comes at us from all angles and all at once: school, work, family, money, children, rush hour traffic, pets, friends, etc. I have quit jobs because they became too stressful. I’m not recommending that you do that because quitting put me in a tough spot financially. However, if you have the financial resources… it might not be a bad idea.

Achieving a stress free life cannot happen overnight.  Like any other major life change you have to make one small change at a time. If you are anything like me, you’ve probably imagined yourself waking up one morning as the calm and collected yogi, or the surfer dude who smokes a little too much reefer and is the epitome of chill.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. You might make it through a day or two, but more than likely you will revert back to your old self sooner or later. Do one thing at a time. Maybe that one thing is quitting your unnecessarily stressful job. For me, it’s changing how I respond to driving around in Miami traffic.

Changing how I respond to that one little stressor over the last week has made a huge difference and how I feel overall.  By the time I get home from my 40 minute commute, I am relaxed. I listen to good music in the car and try to focus on myself–not the other drivers. I still don’t like driving but when I get home, I’m not as tense as I used to be. Even though I’m starting to get the hang of not freaking out at other drivers, I’m not going to start dealing with other stressors as of yet. I haven’t mastered the art of driving calmly. I still have a “freak-out” every now and again, but overall the small changes are making a huge difference in my life. I hadn’t realized how much rush hour was contributing to my stress level until I started to eliminate it.

So pick one thing. Something you can manage. I think that rush hour is a good place to start because the only thing you have to change is your reaction. You aren’t dealing with other people personally. Your finances typically aren’t on the line. It is one simple change that you can practice on a consistent basis. After a month or so managing that one particular stressor, tackle something else. Keep at it untill you’ve covered most of the stressors in your life and you’ll soon be on your way to having a lot less stress.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

~namaste~

What I Learned in Barbados

I had a lovely time in Barbados, and when I came back, my mind was still on the island staring at the beautiful ocean. Now that it’s been a few days since I’ve been back, I’ve come down from the vacation high. Real life has settled over me and I’m longing to be back on vacation.  So what I’m wondering is how can I bring vacation back home with me.

I live in a place that is vacation for most people: Miami has beautiful beaches with great weather year-round. But Miami feels like anything but vacation for a resident.  Driving the hour from the airport, with the blaring lights of traffic, aggressive drivers, stop lights, buildings, signs, noise, and city clutter was overwhelming. Barbados is very rural. Most streets can barely accommodate 2-way traffic. Often times you see very little for miles. While navigating the island was confusing, it was wonderful.

North Point Cliff

Find a place that makes you say “WOW” and go there often.  In Barbados, there were 2 places that blew me away. We visited, only for a moment, North Point Cliff. Thanks to getting lost, we found a spot that hadn’t been developed for tourists. We could stand right at the edge and look down at the sharp rocks and out at the clear blue sea. I only spent about 10 minutes out there.  “WOW” places can really put life troubles in perspective.  Even if it is an hour away, go there once in a while, you won’t regret it.

Seek solitude in a beautiful place. The place in Barbados I visited every day for solitude was the roof of the building. We were in a beachfront hotel, so while on the roof I could look out into the vast ocean.  The winds were strong but their caress made me feel close to the earth.  I would go up there at 6:30 or 7:00am and enjoy the quiet. No other tourists were on the roof that early.  I voluntarily worked on my thesis up there. Writing ideas came to me easily there.  For you it could be a slow moving stream, northern woodlands, a local pond, or an open field. Find a quiet place to connect with nature.

Make time for yourself while at home. We do it on vacation, why not when we come back? We go on vacation to forget work, school and the stressors of daily life.  When you leave work, do the same. Work is only a part of your life. Maintain a work-life balance. Don’t mull over a work problem during dinner with your family.  If you are, you are voluntarily working overtime and not getting paid for it. Even if you love your work, you can’t work all the time. And more than likely, that solution will come when you aren’t thinking about it. (If the idea comes during family time, jot down enough so you remember, and move on: go back to your life)

Waste not, want not. For some reason I remember that being the motto in Barbados. Compared to other countries, we live so lavishly and excessively in the USA. It is so unnecessary. Even the toilets in Barbados have significantly less water.  Do your part, and save the planet! You’ll save money, time and energy if you’re thriftier and eco-conscious.

Unplug from the internet and your cell phone. My new, cheap cell phone service allows me no access while overseas. My AT&T using family was still able to connect with the world, but at a ridiculous cost. While I had internet access in the hotel, I had to completely detach if I wanted to go anywhere.  It was liberating.  I could focus entirely at the moment at handDo the same at home. The world is not in the internet.  The world is outside of your computer screen.  Turn your computer off, leave your phone at home and enjoy the world as it is

Have enthusiasm about wherever you are. We get so excited to go  on vacation, and sort of sad when we must go back home. While on vacation, we often throw caution to the wind and try new things. Vacation is about living life to the fullest. What about weekends and holidays? Sundays sometimes become the lesser of the awesome weekend days because it is the day before you have to go back to work. Enjoy Sunday! You don’t waste that last day of that out-of-town vacation do you? Stop wasting your Sundays; enjoy them to the fullest.

Multitasking Means Never Finishing Anything

Since I’ve slashed my priorities, I’ve felt my stress level greatly reduced. However, I’ve been struggling to keep the priorities I’ve settled on, as my only priorities. Throughout the month of June, I kept trying to devise ways to add exercising back into my routine (because I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, again), but theoretically, there just isn’t time. How could I incorporate a regular work-out routine when I could barely make sure I eat three, healthy square meals a day.

Furthermore, I’m an idea gal.  Mostly I come up with business ideas, but sometimes I come up with ideas of things I want to try, or write.  Unfortunately, I’ve become notorious for starting something new (business idea, hobby, project, etc) and then stopping when life gets in the way.

What I’ve come to realize, however, is that I can’t do  a million things all at once. I can’t learn how to play guitar, become an expert at salsa dancing, develop fluency in Spanish, get my master’s degree, write 3 different books, and start a couple of small businesses all at once.  And I’m not counting all the professional-type items I’m trying to pursue.  I always  want to do everything–have to do everything–to be this perfect person.  While that may be far reaching, it’s still something I want. But I have to tell myself no.

I’m working on a bucket list (coming soon) to sort of placate my desires temporarily and work on them one at a time.  So when I do have free space in my schedule I can work on a particular hobby until I’m satisfied with it.

For some reason, I thought that being in grad school would give me time to work on my different hobbies, crafts, and business ideas. I frequently read on the news “College Student Develops Multi-Million Dollar Business.” Let me just tell you: you don’t have time for that in grad school. Let me rephrase. You don’t have time for that in grad school if you want to sleep.  I even hear stories about students studying writing, like me, and then publishing books. Sometimes I can’t help but beat myself up about not being able to overachieve. What I’ve failed to consider is that generally these students don’t have to work part time jobs to pay for school: they just have money readily available from their parents.  I don’t know where they get the time, though. Even when I took a semester off working, I focused my attention exclusively on my classes. I was too burnt out to do anything else. This blog has an awesome infographic that explains why media multitasking leads to burn out. But I don’t think this is limited to media consumption. It’s also applicable to activity consumption.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyone doesn’t have the energy or the time to do a thousand things all at once.  If you multitask, you won’t be able to put your best effort into each and every one of those things. And you may be disappointed with the outcome.  If you don’t believe me, here’s scientific evidence and here are 5 examples on how Multitasking can be bad.

Mastering the Art of Slow: Rush Hour Traffic Made Easy

A stressful ride on 826 can pretty much ruin my day.  In the fast lane we have people cruising at a comfortable 45 mph; and in any other lane, you’ll find Miami douche-bags racing at 100 mph on a Saturday in the afternoon. You could die if you aren’t paying attention. Not to be insensitive, but seems like someone dies everyday out there on a Miami highway. The drivers are reckless, drunk/high, and selfish. If you are anything like me, you curse, yell, scream and honk to cope with those idiots. That, however, is not productive or healthy. Here are 12 steps you can take (in any order really) to make your rush hour commute a tad easier:

Step 1: Acceptance. There is simply no way to get around the fact that your commute to work looks more like a mall parking lot two days before Christmas than a fast moving highway interstate.  Sorry, unless you get up and move to the middle nowhere, just accept the fact that it may take you 20 minutes to get two miles.

Step 2: Count Your Blessings. Remember, your friends in Idaho can’t go to the beach every New Years/Valentines/Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Labor Day/ Thanksgiving/Christmas and every birthday or promotion in between. You live in a place that is gorgeous all year round, especially in the winter months.  Just be glad about that.

Step 3: Be Courteous. I know it’s hard, but get out of the way of the jerk who’s been tailing you, even though all surrounding passing lanes are open. Just get out of his way. He may be evil in incarnate, but your blood pressure will thank you.  If someone wants to get over, let them. You never know what their situation is.  Your polite driving behavior may encourage others to pay it forward. Look at you creating happier roadways all over Miami!

Step 3: Re-Evaluate your Driving Skills. Maybe you’re the guy who cuts people off; maybe you chat on the phone and drive slow as molasses in the far left lane.  Maybe you poison the roadway with your cussing, screaming, honking and bad attitude. Maybe you’re just a little aggressive. We all do something, because if we didn’t, the roadways would be filled with kind,  patient drivers.  Figure out what you do and stop doing it!

Step 4: Drive Sober. This really should go without saying. But I’m going to say it anyway.  Besides being illegal, driving intoxicated makes you a danger to yourself and other people on the road.  It’s easier to avoid other reckless drivers if you have your wits about you.

Stop 6: Stop Texting and Driving. You should know by now this is worse than driving drunk.  FOUR TIMES WORSE. You should also stop talking on the phone too. A conversation in which you are emotionally involved will take your attention away from the road. That’s not safe either.

Step 7: Stop Tailgating. You may say “Whoa! That’s not me… I don’t do that!” Ah, think again.  Unless you leave at least one car’s distance for every 10 miles per hour you’re traveling, you’re tailgating.  It’s kind of hard to cut someone off if there is a huge space between you and the car in front of you.

Step 9: Figure out other, less traffic-y times to drive. I will never drive to Miami from Broward during rush hour.  That is inner-peace suicide. Don’t go out for simple errands, or drive between Miami-Dade and Broward during  rush hour, unless you absolutely have to.  There really is no point. Get an alternative work schedule if you can, something off the beaten path.  Embrace your inner slow and go out and about at an unusual time.

Step 10: Occupy Your Mind.  Listen to an audiobook while you drive.  You wont waste thoughts and energy on the idiot driver you encountered 20 minutes ago if you are listening to a good story.  You will start to enjoy your commutes. One hour of someone reading to you, doing all the different voices of the characters.  Wonderful! (Radio shows are also great, too.)

Step 11: Leave Early. You already know the story: douche bags on the road, too many cars, new construction, disabled vehicle or car accident.  Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going.  If you’re lucky, you might get to your destination early. Then you’ll have an extra 20 minutes to listen to that audio book, buy a cup of coffee, or get your head in the right frame of mind for a positive, productive day at work.  Being early is a good thing.

Step 12: Move on.  Driving is just a part of life.  You could do everything right and your commute could still be horrible.  Let it go. Don’t rehash the story of the who old lady cut you off unless you can tell it without disdain or frustration.  Just be thankful that you made it to your destination safely.

If you have any tips you’d like to share that you use to help keep your commute carefree, please feel free to share them in the comments below. 🙂