Tag Archives: Live Fully

On The Beauty Of Working A/C And Starting

Lest you think we melted into a puddle of goo after the air conditioner went out last week, we’re still here. In fact, we’re now the proud owners of a superbly cool tin can (fiberglass, I know I know) with two brandy dandy new air conditioners.

But I’ll get to that in a minute. There’s plenty going on in this catch up post, so I might get a bit scattered, I apologize in advance for that.

First off, I have to mention the passing of my Maw Maw this weekend. My dad’s mom. She lived a long and mostly healthy 91 years and up until the last few she was independent and strong, to a nearly comical point at times. You knew not to wander in front of the TV when the game was on for example… any game actually. That was a running joke in her house. And I’ll never forget her shaking her cane at us like a character out of a movie when we tried to decline coming to dinner after some random family event. She, like a lot of my family, was larger than life at times. She was the matriarch on my dad’s side, a position she handled gracefully.

She also marked the fourth death in my family in the last few years… preceded by my Grandmama on my mom’s side, as well my aunt and cousin from the same side. That’s a lot to lose in a short amount of time, and it was especially tough on the family due to my cousin and aunt going much too soon.

It does however have the sobering, but beneficial, effect of making you consider your own mortality. I don’t want to look back at some point and realize I wish I had done more, or played more, or loved more. I don’t want to assume that I have another 60 years and find out too late that it was really only 10. I want to enjoy now as much as I can, to avoid the regrets that come with ignoring what you’d rather be doing. So that’s what I plan to do.

Now, onto a lighter note. I’ve joined a secret society! Sort of.

I’m a big fan of Jon Acuff’s writing, he’s the author of Quitter and Start (if you haven’t read those you’re really missing out!). He’s a great writer and an even better motivator, and he keeps a blog over at jonacuff.com which I follow. Last week he posted on his blog asking people to sign up to join him on an adventure. The post was up for about 24 hours before he took it down. It was vague but intriguing, and the only commitment at the time was to email him a little information, then wait and see what happened. Considering this is already the Year of Change I figured what the heck, and shot off an email.

I had almost forgotten about the whole deal, between the air going out and my grandmother’s passing. But then yesterday I got an email from him containing the link to a private Facebook group dubbed The Start Experiment. Of course I joined immediately, to find around 700 other people already there introducing themselves. It’s already been inspiring seeing all these people who are ready to do something beyond the norm, and the experiment hasn’t even begun yet. I won’t reveal too much, but so far it looks like it will start as a personal challenge of sorts, with an accountability partner. We will be asked to push ourselves outside our comfort zones every day for 24 days in some way or another, and I can’t wait. As an added bonus, did I mention I’m part of a secret society? I think we should get a handshake or some sort of power ring.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we didn’t melt in here last week when the air conditioner started messing up. There were a few sketchy days, but we were able to limp along by turning it on and off at the breaker when we needed it. We had to keep it off at night or it would freeze up, and I kept it off as much during the day as possible, but regardless we made it.

I did remember last week that we had an extended warranty that had been thrown in with the purchase of the Turtle, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see what they would take care of. As it turned out, it was actually a pretty good warranty. They even offered to pay for a mobile repair guy to come out and fix it so we wouldn’t have to pack everything up and find a shop that could take us in. This time of year most repair shops are two or three weeks out, so that seemed like a terrible option all the way around.

After looking for a mobile RV repair place for hours though I was beginning to think a camping trip to the parking lot of a service department would be in order, until I found a place about an hour and a half away called Southern RV. They did warranty work, were certified, and said they worked anywhere in middle Tennessee… so of course they weren’t open that day.

I did get in touch the next day though and was able to get them started dealing with our warranty. It took several phone calls between myself, the repair shop, and the Xtra Ride warranty adjustor, but we finally came up with a plan. The warranty would pay for nearly all of the service call and all of the parts and labor to repair our existing unit, and we would cover the remainder to install a second unit in the bedroom. Great!

Marty was worried though that repairing the unit would just be a band aid and other problems would keep popping up, so after a lot of talking we decided to go ahead and spend the extra money and replace the unit we had with a new Atwood A/C with a heat pump. The Atwood’s are less expensive than the Dometic we had, and the repair shop said they were impressed with the quality of their construction, plus the heat pump will help lower the propane expense this winter hopefully. I paid for both units over the phone, then spent the next two days secretly hoping I hadn’t been duped by some kid with a fake website.

They said both units would be in by Friday and they should be able to come that same day, or Saturday at the latest. Friday afternoon came and went with no word, and I was really starting to question my own judgement. But then, at 7pm on Friday night, the Southern RV repair truck pulled up out front. The parts had come in a little after 4 o’clock and they headed out then.

It took nearly three hours to install the two units and fix a light switch that wasn’t working quite right, and I was expecting the worst when it came time to settle up. He showed me both work orders, the one they would send the warranty company for the repairs and the one I would owe for the extra labor since I had already paid for parts. It came time for the grand total and I held my breath a little…

That’ll be $85.

Huh? Oh.

That’s not at all what I was expecting. One hours labor. He even waived the remainder of the service call, saying if I wanted to give his guys a little extra to grab dinner with on the way home that would be plenty. I gladly did, and gave him a bit extra too for coming out so late on a Friday. The guys were all super friendly and professional, and they did a great job, definitely a win in my book.

Then we checked out our new units, and they are awesome. I don’t have much to compare to, just our travel trailer and this fifth wheel, but both of our previous A/C’s have been so loud you couldn’t hear each other well from one room to the next. Our TV volume would go from 20 to 50 when the air kicked on. When I walked in the den to look at the new unit I had to ask if it was on yet, it’s that quiet. And the air flow is twice as much as our Dometic Duotherm was producing.

Atwood hasn’t been in the cooling business that long, although they’ve made other RV parts for years. So we took a bit of a risk on these units, not knowing their track records yet. But as of right now I’m thoroughly pleased.

They function a bit different than any I’ve seen before though, and I had to call Atwood this morning to make sure they were working right, which I was assured they were. When the fan is set to Auto most air conditioners will run until they reach the right temperature and then cut off until they need to start cooling again. In these the fan runs all the time. When the temperature is right they switch to low fan speed and the compressor turns off, and as needed they cycle back up to medium or high and kick the compressor back on to cool things down. The result is super quiet and keeps the whole place at a nice consistently cool temp. Now that I know it’s not a wiring problem I have to admit it’s a pretty interesting process. They also have some other neat things, like the Dry mode which acts as a dehumidifier if you’re happy with the temp but want to pull some of the humidity out of the air. It also has a Sleep button,  when it’s set the temperature will rise by 2 degrees over the next hour, or lower by 2 degrees if you’re using the heat pump. All in all we’re glad we spent the money, and hopefully won’t have to do that again for a long time!

This week will be crazy as well, today is my catch up day. Tonight and tomorrow are visitation and funeral a bit more than an hour away from here. Wednesday is a morning meeting and getting ready for Thursday. And then the fun begins! We’re going to pack up the truck Thursday morning, hook up the boat, and head over to tent camp at Mousetail Landing State Park. We’ll stay there a few days fishing and hanging out. I’ve looked around and found a local concert to check out on Saturday night and a few restaurants to look at. Other than that there isn’t much in the area other than lots of rivers and creeks.

It’s an exploratory mission too, we’ll be driving around looking for an inexpensive piece of land along the Tennessee river. We’ve talked a lot about what the next step is and it would be kind of dreamy to be able to go to our own little spot on the river when we feel like it, or even live there for longer periods in the future. Ideally we would find one that someone has already set up for an RV, maybe with a concrete pad and utilities already in place. But if the price were right we could buy a 1/4 acre lot with no utilities and add them as we have the money. It would give us somewhere to go if we didn’t want the expense of paying rent at a campground, because a payment on land that small would actually be less than our rent right now. And it would serve as a bit of a home base too, without the commitment of an actual home base. We don’t want something that requires a lot of maintenance, we want to be able to leave it for as long as needed without worrying about things breaking down or tearing up.

I’ve bookmarked several great looking spots on Craigslist and some local realtor websites, and we’re excited just to go ride around a new area and look at the possibilities. Even if that doesn’t turn anything up it will still be a great weekend of fishing and camping!

Are you doing any camping this weekend? Starting anything or joining a secret society? If not you should at least go right now and do one thing that scares you… it’s great for the soul. 🙂

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Don’t You Miss Your House?

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The reactions we’ve gotten since we sold our house to move into the Turtle have been mixed. Split down the middle between those who think we are crazy or broke, and those who would love to do the same thing.

We’ve made other choices along the way that people apparently think indicate our current lack of sanity as well, like selling my paid for car.

No matter how they feel about it though there are certain things it seems everyone is curious about, because we get asked the same things regularly. Things like…

Don’t You Miss Your House?

The short answer is a simple no.

The longer answer is, yes we loved our house. We built it ourselves, it was a beautiful wood sided house on a lovely tree covered hillside. We had 5 acres of shaded land and a gravel circle driveway, a nice shop and a building for the band to practice music in. A screen porch with a hot tub and outdoor TV was the last addition we made a few years ago. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

But with a house comes a multitude of responsibilities and chores. Cleaning and resealing siding, weeding and replanting beds, new gravel for the driveway, decluttering the shop and yard, cleaning the gutters, mowing the yard, mopping the floors, keeping rooms decluttered and clean even when you aren’t using them, treating the water in the hot tub, paying for 3 satellite boxes that you don’t use all the time, planting and harvesting the garden, dusting and cleaning the things you’ve bought to fill the rooms you aren’t using… I could go on and on.

The result of all that is very little relaxation. You try to sit on your front porch and enjoy the afternoon, but instead you end up thinking of all the things that need to be done. You decide to hang around the house on a lazy Sunday to do a few things and before you realize it the entire day has been given to cleaning and taking care of things, and you haven’t even had the chance to enjoy them.

There were many days that I would have big plans for enjoying the day, but first ‘I’ll just clean the kitchen real quick’. That leads to mopping the floors because they really need it, and now Marty is mowing the yard so I should go clean out the beds so they look nice, and the next thing you know it’s 5pm and I’m tired.

It’s just a fact that with more stuff comes more responsibility. Our days are our own now. We still have to work of course, but the other stuff, the maintenance and cleaning, doesn’t take up the rest of our time anymore. We bought a small boat, and if we want to go to the lake for the morning we will. We’re planning short camping trips without thinking that we really should be doing something else. We can sit outside and relax without those nagging little voices.

So back to the simple answer. I loved our house, but not nearly as much as I love my peace of mind, my relaxed evenings, my possibilities for the future. And on top of that, I love my new house. It’s cozy and comfortable, with everything I need in it. I don’t regret the trade a little bit.

Isn’t It Hard Living In Such A Small Space Together?

This one probably varies from person to person. But for us it’s not much different than how we lived in the house.

We used around a quarter of our 1500 square feet before: the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and den. The other areas were used occasionally at best. We’ve had to change things up a bit, like coming up with new morning and night routines because we went from two sinks in the bathroom down to one, and learning how to cook in a smaller area. But after two and a half months things are flowing along pretty smoothly now.

You obviously have to both be on board with the move, but having a narrow doorway or smaller closet shouldn’t be grounds for not being able to live with someone, in my opinion anyway.

I have been surprised though how many people have the initial reaction of “Oh there’s no way we could live in that together, we’d kill each other!”. I’m seriously starting to wonder how many couples actually like each other.

Luckily we do like each other, because I wouldn’t advise living in 350 square feet with someone you don’t like. In fact I wouldn’t advise living anywhere with someone you don’t like, but that’s not a topic for this post.

What Do You Do If It Storms?

Obviously in light of Monday’s flooding the answer to this has changed a little. Before Monday my biggest worry was high wind or tornadoes, which aren’t that uncommon in Tennessee. Depending on where we’re parked though flooding is something that may come up from time to time. Most campgrounds are pretty flat, and a lot of them do have some kind of water near the sites.

What we do if it floods is the same as someone living in a stick house, we leave. The advantage we have in that situation is we can then move our house to higher ground so the same situation doesn’t happen again. In fact Saturday we’re moving, again, to the next row over (so we can face away from the evening sun), and that site has even less risk of flooding than the one we’re in right now. Had we had more notice we could have even moved before the flood ever happened, but what happened Monday was a flash flood. It came up too fast for us to do anything. If we had been parked beside a river that started to rise more slowly though we would have been able to get out of harms way.

As far as wind and tornadoes, of course it is a valid concern that a high wind or tornado could take us out, and we pay attention to the wind more now than we did in the house. If the weather warrants it we’ll leave and go to the main building, or even a friends house if we have enough time. This is no different than living in a mobile home, which so many people do. We know the limitations of the Turtle, how much wind we can take before needing to leave. We have good radar and weather alerts on our phones, we pay attention, and we take it seriously. That’s really all anyone can do.

Do You Miss Your Stuff?

This one’s a lot like the house question, and the answer is the same. Actually, I miss my stuff even less. I can’t even remember half of what we’ve sold or given away over the last few months. It’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate when you have the space to do so.

We didn’t go full throttle minimalist either, we kept the things we thought were most important to us. To make the cut they had to either be well used or well loved, and the result is that I now know where every single thing I own is. I appreciate the things I kept more than I ever did, and I don’t feel any nagging guilt from knowing I have so many things that I never even look at, much less use.

It does come with a few complications, like if something breaks we’re less likely to have a suitable replacement stuck in a closet somewhere. On the upside though we can usually buy a little bit better something to replace it with if we need to.

Are You Just Going To Travel Full Time?

Not yet.

Lots of people do start traveling full time when they make the move, and while that sounds awesome the rest of our lifestyle isn’t conducive to that right now. There are kids to be near and yards to cut, so for the moment at least we won’t be leaving for an extended period of time.

This part of the conversation normally includes a confused look, where the person I’m talking to is trying to figure out why I would move into a tiny moveable house without the intention of traveling… why not just stay where I was at? I refer you to question one.

Truth is, we do plan to travel and have more fun, and are already doing so more than we ever did before. In the last 9 years we have been on less than half a dozen real trips, not counting the time we spent working on the road. If we weren’t spending the weekend working on someone else’s house we were working on our own. There just wasn’t time to go.

So far this year we’ve already reserved campsites for two trips this summer and are planning two more. We’re going tent camping over the July 4th weekend and visiting a national park in August to check out a giant yard sale they have in the area. We get to go to the lake with the boat now, or take a day trip around the state to see something new. We plan on taking two or three short trips a month, because with the tent or the camper it costs us virtually nothing to stay several nights in a new place. If we even want to stay a month in a different place we can and will.

Travel doesn’t have to be a full time thing, you don’t have to leave for months at a time and move around the country. You can take lots of shorter trips, go hike or see waterfalls, explore neat little towns and find hole in the wall restaurants, find a festival that’s three hours a way and make a weekend out of it. I’m sure other parts of the country are the same way, but I feel lucky to be in an area with so many state parks, lakes, and things to see. The hardest part is deciding where to go.

We were planning a cross country trip that I had hinted at in some posts, but the circumstances around that didn’t work out. It was a bit of a ‘working’ trip to move someone out there, and now they’re staying here, so we weren’t upset. And now we can take the money we would have put into that and use it for our other adventures… and a boat, which we obviously already bought.

How Do You Get Your Mail?

Ours is quite a bit easier than someone traveling full time. We just pay for a post office box, which is a little over $20 a year. There are services available to people who aren’t in one place for an extended period of time, places that will receive your mail and then forward it to where you are, or scan it in and email it to you. We haven’t had to deal with that yet, so I can’t offer any advice there. If we have bigger packages coming or need a physical address we use the campground address for now.

What About Internet?

Ask me this one later, because this morning my internet situation isn’t the greatest.

Most campgrounds provide some sort of WiFi, but it’s not always very reliable and with multiple people using it at one time the speeds can be slow. Because I work online we use a Verizon Wireless MiFi to have broadband internet, and normally it suits my needs just fine. We do have data limits though, and this month we’ve gone over those once already and may use up the overage allowance as well. This is an abnormality, if it becomes a regular thing I’ll up our plan and avoid the usage fees. Because of the limits and slower speed we can’t stream TV, which is disappointing, but not a deal breaker… we do have satellite after all.

It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the only one I know of that will work where we are. I’ve seen other options similar to Verizon but without data limits, but they don’t offer coverage here. For now this works fine for me most of the time, but if I find a more reliable high speed option I’ll be all over it.

I can already think of several other questions we get on a regular basis, but this post has gotten lengthy already so I’ll save those for a part deux.

If you full time or live ‘differently’ are there questions you get asked a lot? Do you get mixed reactions or are you just known as the guy that lives in a van down by the river? Don’t you miss Chris Farley? I do…

Why Sometimes You Should Ignore Yourself

I really didn’t want to walk this morning.

I missed yesterday, so I knew I needed to, but I just wasn’t in the mood.

I was tired, it’s cloudy and still muddy from yesterday’s rain, and I just wanted to hang out at my desk with a cup of coffee. I wanted to ignore the voice in my head saying I feel better when I walk and instead listen to the other one which was loudly listing everything I have to do today and asking me to pass the creamer.

So I compromised, I put my shoes on to make a loop around the campground. If I didn’t feel like going any further at least I would have done something. Just as I suspected though, about halfway around the loop my negative voice wandered off and left me alone to keep going.

I very nearly didn’t go though. And if I hadn’t compromised and just gone, even though I didn’t feel like it, I wouldn’t have run up on this awesome little girl on the side of the road.

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Say hello to my little friend.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, or if you’re just so smart you’ve picked up on it, but I really love turtles. I think they’re beautiful, fascinating prehistoric creatures. I once had the privilege of watching sea turtles hatch on a Gulf Coast beach under a full moon and it was one of the highlights of that trip for me. I’ve been known on more than one occasion to shut down traffic to shoo a snapper out of the road or move a box turtle. wpid-IMG_20130606_080806_479.jpg

So running up on this one, which I believe was laying eggs in that hole she dug out, made my day. It really is the little things ya know.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched her for a good five minutes, taking pictures and sitting really still while she moved around and eyeballed me.

The point is that If I had listened to myself and gotten right to work this morning I would have missed out on seeing something that you don’t get to see every day, unless you live on a turtle farm (do those exist?).

I also cleared my mind, checked out some wild roses blooming, and sorted out the things I have to do today. Even though it seems counterproductive I always get more real work done when I slow down and take a little time. Not busy work, but real work… designing, writing, creating.

Whatever helps you unwind, I suggest you take a few minutes for it today and see the results for yourself. Instead of rushing from one task to the next stop and take some time to do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s walking, reading, yoga, drinking coffee quietly outside, or zombie paintball, just carve out a little time and do it.

Notice the little things and enjoy them while you let your mind wander. You might not get as excited over a turtle as I do but I’m willing to bet the results will still be worth it.

How To Get A Little Better Every Day

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Sometimes it takes just the smallest shift in perspective to change how you go about your day and help jump start real change.

Everyone has something they would love to make happen, but most never take the steps to get there. They sit there day after day, unhappy with the situation but unsure if they could ever change it, so they do nothing. Maybe it’s because of fear, or not knowing where to start, or maybe it just feels like real change is too hard. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working towards a goal, no matter what it is.

Maybe you want to be debt free or a size 4 and you feel like it’ll take you forever to get there. Maybe you want to declutter your house, simplify your life, or build a business but you don’t know how to even begin. All you can see is the huge gap between where you are now and where you want to be, you don’t see the thousands of steps that will help get you there.

You start to think one decision won’t matter in the long run because the task you’re looking at is so big. Today doesn’t feel very powerful when it could take years to get where you’re going. That’s when you start making bad choices, because if today doesn’t matter then the choices you make today are miniscule compared to the huge goal in front of you.

But what if instead today is all that matters?

Unless you’re in the waiting room about to have liposuction or have just won the lottery you’re probably not going to drop 3 sizes or be debt free by the end of today, but you can be in a little better shape than you were when you woke up.

You can choose to go for a walk, no matter how short, or to not spend $4 on a coffee, or to take one small bag of unused stuff off to donate. You can choose to do things that cause you to make just a little forward progress. Even if it doesn’t feel like it will make a difference at the time, it will.

All those little choices add up, and winning is almost always the result of being born Charlie Sheen making small intentional choices every day. You don’t have to make the right choice every single time, that could cripple anyone with indecision. All you have to do is make sure that the net of your choices at the end of today has made you a little bit better in some way.

Your life is the sum total of your days, which are the sum total of your decisions, and those days are going to pass regardless of how you spend them. You can either sit idly by and wish things were different, or you can use the time you’ve been given to change for the better.

You could…

  • Get out and go for a walk around the block. It may be a short walk, but it’s a lot farther than you would have gotten if you’d stayed on the couch.
  • Eat a little something before you leave the house if you’ll be gone for several hours, that way you won’t spend money eating out.
  • Put a $5 bill in a jar. Next time you have a $5 bill, put it in the jar too. Only put fives in the jar and see how fast it adds up.
  • Take everything out of one drawer, separate it and decide what goes back in the drawer. Get rid of the rest.
  • Read an article on something related to your dream. Google is a wonderful thing.
  • Want to start a business? Decide to do one thing every day to get started – read articles, find your domain name, set up a price structure.
  • When you run up on something in your closet that you don’t love or don’t wear much, take 3 seconds to take it off the hanger and put it in a donate/sell box.
  • Start planning a trip if your goal is to travel, even if you don’t have the resources to go yet. Doing the research will make it more real in your mind and give you a good idea of what you’ll need.
  • If you want to be a writer, start writing. Sit down for 20 minutes and just write the first thing that comes to mind.
  • Clean up. If you’re anything like me you’ll be more motivated and feel better at the end of the day if your space is clean.
  • Say no thanks to a commitment you don’t want to take on. Just one for now.
  • Say yes to something that scares you. Push yourself to go outside your comfort zone and see what happens.
  • Set up a budget so you know how much money you really have.
  • Take a class. One class on something you want to learn how to do. Or even smaller, just research and find that one class so you know what’s out there.
  • Do something totally unique to your dream or goal.

Incidentally, the majority of this post was written in my head while taking a short walk this cool quiet morning. More often than not I think you’ll find that one good choice leads to other things falling into place. I always feel more productive when I walk in the morning, I have more energy to make better choices, and I nearly always clear my mind enough to be much more creative the rest of the day. It’s worth far more than the few minutes out of my day that it takes.

All you really need to focus on right now, at this moment, is making one decision that will ensure that tonight you are just a little better than you were this morning. Not perfect, just a little better. Don’t worry about getting it all right, one day your choices will have become habits and you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.

You don’t have to sell your house, run a marathon or win the lottery to get started, you just have to start. One day, one hour, one choice at a time.

30 Minutes To A Better Day… AKA Go To Bed Stupid

* I’m sending a ton of love to everyone affected by the bombing in Boston yesterday… I don’t know what to say other than that.

I want to be that girl that can work all day and stay up all night working towards my goals. I really, really want to be one of those people. In fact I was one of those people in college… I routinely stayed up until 2am studying playing Final Fantasy online, got back up at 6:30, worked all day, drove an hour to school, and got back home at 10pm. I’m a little tired just typing that out.

I sometimes still wish I was that way, I want to work my day job, do my afternoon chores, then spend the night working on my business. I’d stay up late and churn out designs and blog posts, thrive on very little sleep and wake up with my morning coffee, ready to do it all over again. Like a caffeinated robot. I know some of that goes back to my college days as a software programmer. That’s just what geeks do, we stay up late and live on Jolt cola. At least that’s what I thought back then.

Even today though, I constantly hear entrepreneurs and other people who do generally awesome things talk about working late nights, getting up two hours before the crack of dawn, working themselves to the bone while building a business and living their dreams. I have to ask, how in the hell do they function like that? Is that why those nasty energy drinks are so popular? What kind of health are these people going to be in here in a few years? Or do I just require an inordinate amount of maintenance?

Nowadays, I stay up till 10:45 one night and spend the whole next day exhausted, struggling to get even menial tasks done. I stay up late again that night because now I’m tired and bummed and starting to think very negatively about my whole situation, I obviously need to work harder. The next day, after two nights of staying up into the wee hours of nearly 11pm, I’m clinically depressed.

The day after two nights of this I’m convinced that a) I’m a talentless hack, b) I’m stuck in a desk job forever, because I don’t have the skills or motivation to improve my position, and c) my entire life is crumbling around me, plus I probably smell funny. I wish I were exaggerating… ask my husband. He strongly encourages me to go to sleep on time.

The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. I honestly thought these horrible feelings were real, and that just made it worse. I would stay grumpy, negative, and just generally bummed out for several days, then finally wear myself out and have to go to bed earlier on night 3 or 4, and the weirdest thing would happen. The next day would be great. I would get stuff done, the design I’d been working on for days would just fall into place, and several times I even made a sale or gained some kind of acknowledgement that I really didn’t have any control over. I have to lay that last one off on karma… you get back what you put out there, I take care of myself and the universe rewards me.

It took me too long to realize this cycle, as is the usual trend with me realizing things about myself. But now that I know how I function I can work with it.

I know that if I stay up past 10:30 I’m trading an entire days worth of productivity for an extra 30 minutes that night. Some nights I still make that trade, but I do it consciously, and I try not to do it often. I also know how to recognize the signs of self-neglect… if I’m feeling really negative or whiny I stop and think about what I may have done to cause it, then I give myself a pass that day – I get done what I can but I don’t push myself to do amazing things, because it’s not happening. That’s the hardest part for me still, realizing that my mood isn’t a direct reflection of external problems, but instead is a result of pissing of my body.

I also know that I feel better if I go for a run, a long walk, or do something equally active, at least 3 days a week. This usually takes me an hour or so, between stretching, warming up, cooling down, showering, and the actual activity.

I started out feeling a lot of guilt about taking the time to do that for myself instead of working… I have clients waiting on their projects, I should be focusing all my available time on that. I have things I should be doing for the business or around the house. Those things should take priority shouldn’t they?

Not quite.

It’s like the oxygen mask speech. You’re no good to anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. That sounds so obvious and I’ve heard it a million times, but it’s not as easy to actually implement. It’s not easy to do something for yourself or feel like you’re putting yourself first, because in turn you have to put someone else last when you do that. But I can tell you from first hand experience: it’s very necessary.

Learn what your body needs to function at a higher level, take the time to take care of yourself, and you’ll be more efficient, happier, and turn out better widgets. Your widgets might not have anything to do with work but instead be how you take care of your family, it doesn’t matter. Whatever your widget is you’ll actually make up for the time you lost by functioning better.

I personally am able to work better, faster, and more efficiently when I’m clear headed and awake. Getting a good nights sleep and going for a run helps me be that way. Things go 100 times better for me when I do the things I know I should and listen to my own body. Not to mention that some of my biggest stumbling blocks have been worked out while running down a quiet road letting my mind roam.

I’m not perfect, this is something I’m still working on and I probably always will be to some extent, but I’m learning to recognize it and I’ve seen the rewards of doing the right thing.

Your thing might not be running, and you may function fine on 5 hours of sleep, but I bet there’s something you’re putting aside that you shouldn’t be. You may not even realize it… I didn’t.

I want to challenge you to pay attention to your moods and your patterns. Find what’s lacking, and make it a point to start being more intentional about including it in your day. I promise it won’t hurt a thing.

Why you should run like no one’s watching

I’m a running newbie… I’ve just recently started my own version of the Couch to 5K program, and I go out three to four times a week and train. I posted about it here, and I love it. It’s extremely relaxing to me, makes me feel like I’m doing something wonderful for myself, and gets me closer to my goal of one day being an actual runner.

That being said, I’m still in the very early stages of learning to run. I walk probably 75% of my trip, with spurts of running mixed in. I’m still figuring out my form, what stretches to do when, how my feet should fall, and how to breathe right so I don’t get light headed.

In fact, I just today succeeded in keeping my torso from twisting side to side and remembered to pretend there was a string coming out of the top of my head holding my body straight. So as much as I would like to call myself a runner because I’m making the effort to learn, there are times when it’s undeniable that I just look really silly.

I run on a public road, and even though there isn’t much traffic I probably see 4 or 5 cars during my run. Every time a car drives by I could stop running so that I don’t embarrass myself. The urge is definitely there. But I don’t, I keep going.

I keep going because I tell myself that it doesn’t matter what I look like – I’m doing something.

I keep going because every time I run I get a little better and a little more confident.

I keep going because I don’t want to edit myself to look better to someone else.

There have been times on this blog that I may not have written the kind of post I wanted to write because I worried that someone would think differently of me. I worried that someone I know might read it and laugh at me.

I do the same thing when I design something for a customer or to list in my shop on Etsy, I second guess myself and question my abilities. Sometimes to the extent that I talk myself out of publishing the post or listing the design. What if it isn’t good enough?

You know who doesn’t edit themselves? People who do things. People who become people. One of my favorite quotes lately is this one by George Addair.

Everything you want, is on the other side of fear.

If I edit myself, or you edit yourself, the only person we’re hurting is us. It doesn’t effect anyone else, but it keeps us from learning, growing, improving, becoming the people we want to be.

So I say we quit editing and start doing…

Blog like no one is reading.

Draw like no one will see it.

Build it like maybe they aren’t coming.

Run like no one is watching.

Do it for yourself, because really, what’s the worst that could happen?