Tag Archives: Slow Down

31 Lessons For 31 Years

It’s become a trend in the blogosphere ( which is an actual word according to my spell checker) to take a moment on your birthday and reflect back over lessons learned in the time you’ve been here. Since yesterday was my 31st birthday I thought I would follow suit with 31 things I’ve learned in these 31 years.

Note: I won’t be including things learned in the first 5 years of my life, because I feel like learning to walk, talk, and not pee myself is probably a given.

So here we go, totally random thoughts in no particular order… other than numerical.

1. Bigger Does Not Equal Better (For Me)

I’m at a point where most people want more stuff. They start moving up to bigger houses with more storage space and extra bathrooms, filling up spare bedrooms with nice sets of furniture and adding TVs to guest rooms. But I’m going the opposite direction. I want less things and more experiences. Even if we do build another house at some point it will be small and simple. I have things I would rather do with my time than take care of a big house and the things that fill it.

2. Being Positive Creates Opportunities

I’m a pretty content person. I’m sure that’s partly just my nature and partly an intentional choice I make to stay positive. But it really does go a long way toward creating opportunities. I won’t get all new agey on you, but positive thinking really is all it’s cracked up to be.

3. You Aren’t Your College Major

I graduated college with a degree in software applications programming. In layman’s terms that means Big Huge Nerd. This is definitely true, but beyond that I’m a creative. I write and draw, I design and constantly look for art in everyday things. This is something I’ve done as long as I can remember, and it’s time to stop ignoring it. The programming background helps when I work on websites, but my college major didn’t define who I am today.

4. Do Everything You’re Big Enough To And Then Some

I’ve spent far too much time being worried about what other people think and listening to the voices in my head that say I’m not one of those people who does big things. This last year especially has shown me how important it is to do what you want and do it now. You only have so much time here, don’t waste it wishing you had done more.

5. Luck Doesn’t Happen On Its Own

Wayne Gretzky had a great quote about this one – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I firmly believe that luck is the intersection between created opportunities and hard work.

6. Mornings Are Awesome

I wasn’t always a morning person, but I definitely have been for most of my adult life. Mornings are quiet time, the world hasn’t fully woken up yet, thoughts can float around all free and happy, and you become part of the day as it wakes up. If I sleep later than 7 o’clock I feel like I’ve missed something.

7. Travel Often

Not only is it fun to get away and see new things, but leaving your comfort zone can open up parts of you that you didn’t know existed. Go somewhere new, try a strange food, maybe walk around with an Australian accent all day because no one knows any different. You won’t regret it.

8. You Aren’t Going To Please Everybody

The only way to not have haters is to never do anything. Make the choice instead to make yourself happy, the people that matter will follow if they’re meant to. On the same note, some people will never be happy, no matter what you do.

9. If You Don’t Ask The Answer Will Always Be No

I actually wrote about this one here, and it’s still proving itself to be more true every day.

10. Eating Raw Cookie Dough Probably Won’t Kill You

Despite what my mom said. I ate some last night, and I feel fine.

11. Relationships Are Important

This one seems kind of like a no brainer, but I have a tendency to get so involved in my own life that I don’t take the time to keep up with my friends. I lost a good friend from college that way… I’m sure he got tired of me not answering the phone. Nowadays I try harder to be there, because some things you can’t erase.

12. Cats Are Jerks

Which is probably why they’re so fuzzy and adorable. But they’re still jerks.

13. Investing In Yourself Is Worth It

I don’t like spending money, especially on myself. But I’ve learned that sometimes investing in a course, conference, or just a haircut can have a profound effect on how I feel and act.

14. Everybody Has Fears

I honestly thought I was the only one who had that little voice who said I wasn’t good enough or people would think I was a fraud if I tried to do the things I wanted to do. Turns out, pretty much everybody has some version of that voice. And they’re all wrong.

15. Redbox Is One Of The Best Inventions Of All Time

Seriously, whoever decided to put movies in a vending machine was a genius. The only thing better would be a pizza oven mounted on the side.

16. Better Is Better

This is related to #1. I’ve recently learned that while more stuff doesn’t make me happier, better stuff does. And fortunately enough when you buy better instead of more you tend to spend the same amount of money in the end.

17. If It Scares You It’s Probably Worth It

In general if you find yourself uncomfortable or afraid of taking the next step you’re probably headed in the right direction. Unless you’re approaching a bear, rabid wolf, or giant cave cricket. Then you should back slowly away, perhaps using your Australian accent to confuse them.

18. My 30s Are Already Better Than My 20s

My 20s were good years, lots of great things happened – I got married, built my first house, and had a ton of fun. But as far as my self esteem and attitude towards life in general my 30s are clear winners so far. I spent a lot of my 20’s wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong, wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, and feeling not so hot about all of it. Now I have a clearer purpose, a better sense of who I am, and better hair… I can’t explain that last one.

19. Marry Someone You Like

I don’t care how uncool it might be to want to hang out with my own husband (really, when did that become uncool?). He’s my best friend and we have fun together no matter what we do. I couldn’t imagine it any other way, and I highly recommend marrying someone you actually like to be around.

20. You Don’t Live In A Bubble

Although I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert I’ve spent years acting like I live and work in a bubble. I’m realizing now that it doesn’t matter what you do or how good you are at it, you need other people around you to succeed.

21. Consistency Matters

You become what you do every day. Do the things that will lead you where you want to go and you’ll eventually get there. Do the wrong things consistently and the grand gestures won’t matter.

22. If You Don’t Make A Change No One Else Will Do It For You

If you are stuck at a certain point in your life, spending your time unhappy and wishing things were different, you have to cause change to happen before it will. No one is going to come along and offer you a new life. Unless you witness a murder.

23. The Journey Is More Important Than The Destination

You should have a destination in mind, but don’t rush the journey trying to get there. Enjoy it, savor it, get lost a little along the way. You may end up somewhere better than you even expected.

24. Laugh Everyday

Even if it’s just at yourself. Find something to laugh at everyday and you’ll be just fine.

25. Don’t Worry So Much

It doesn’t do any good most of the time. I’m not great at this one, but I’m working on it.

26. Find Something You Love And Do It Often

When I was younger I read a lot, wrote often, sketched regularly, made cool things out of random stuff I found outside, and had a ton of fun. As I grew up I quit doing those things because they didn’t fit my new life. Now I find myself going back to the very things I loved to do growing up, and even incorporating them into my dream job.

27. Start Now

Whatever it is you want to do or be, if you start now you’ll be that much closer a year from today. The time will pass whether you start or stay where you are.

28. Do Your Best And Then Let It Go

I’m a perfectionist, if I can’t get something just exactly like I want it I have a tendency to trash the whole thing. But sometimes done is better than perfect, and sometimes the act of doing is more important than the result.

29. Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously

This whole life thing is marvelous, but unfortunately you’re not going to make it out alive. I hope you already knew that, if not I’m sorry for ruining your Tuesday. But now that you know you might as well make the most of it… have fun, laugh, play, work hard, do big things, and eat cake.

30. You Will Regret What You Don’t Do More Than The Things You Did

This speaks for itself. Base your decisions on whether you will look back at the end of your life (see #29) and wish you hadn’t been too much of a wuss to (insert awesome thing here).

31. Keep Learning Everyday

Try your hardest to learn something every day. If you pay attention it doesn’t even take that much effort. There are lessons everywhere, and there is always someone who knows more than you do. Ask questions, pay attention, read everything you can, and soak it in.

Ironically enough I wasn’t sure I knew 31 things when I sat down to write this post, but 1800 words later I guess I’ve proven myself wrong!  If you made it this far I commend you, and your commemorative lapel pin will be in the mail shortly.

Do you have any lessons to add? What would you tell you from a decade ago if you had the chance?



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. 🙂

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.


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.

Defining Simplicity. Or Not.

I think sometimes when people start trying to change their lives for the better by making intentional choices and downsizing they get caught up in all the labels, numbers, and monthly challenges that are floating around.

They start reading blogs, looking for ideas, learning about a lifestyle that’s relatively new to this generation. And there are so many great blogs out there right now, there really is a simple living movement going on (more on that in a future post!).

But it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the stories of people doing awesomely cool things and having so little to tie them down. And everyone seems to have their own name for what ‘it’ is… simple living, voluntary simplicity, minimalism, no one is the same. Which is perfectly fine, it’s a beautiful thing that we don’t have to conform to one certain way of living.

But for someone just diving into this world there might be more questions than answers at first – Am I a minimalist or do I just believe in voluntary simplicity? Is there even a difference? Do I have too many pairs of pants? She only has one outfit… I look like a hoarder in comparison. Could I fit everything I own in a single suitcase? I could see how a person might even give up before they make any real change in their own life.

There may be a feeling of perceived peer pressure… if you can’t get down to 100 possessions, or 33 items of clothing, or cut off your cable, what’s the point of doing anything at all?

Or inadequacy… If you aren’t going to quit your job, move to Guam and start a school for orphans, then you might as well just stay right where you’re at. What’s that? You don’t want to sell your house and live in an RV? You like your dishwasher?! Well, you’re just in the whole wrong place then.

There are so many distinct and amazing stories of people changing their lives available in a single Google search that it can be really easy to start comparing yourself to these people, your stuff to their stuff, your life to their life, and get frustrated.

Monthly challenges like Project 333 are a fun way to expand your mind and help you realize how little you really need to be happy… or maybe that you really like having more than 33 items of clothing. I love taking on a challenge that pushes me out of my comfort zone, just to see what I can do.

Reading blogs is another one of my favorite things, it’s a nice way to see how others live and get tips to apply to your own life. I learn something every day from some of my favorite bloggers.

But challenges and blogs are not definitive guides to being minimalist. There is no one right way to change your own life.

The thing is, minimalism/voluntary simplicity/intentional living/zen living/whatever you choose to call it is never the goal. If your goal is to own nothing while not improving your life in any way then you need to reevaluate.

Simple living is the means to an end, and both the means and the end will be different from one person to the next.

Maybe your end goal is to quit your job and start a lifestyle business, or maybe you love your job and you just want to have more free time on the weekends because there’s less to maintain.

Maybe you want to be able to spend more of your time or money helping others, or maybe you want to travel the world while you can.

Maybe you like to kayak every weekend, or maybe you’re perfectly happy at home watching a movie.

It doesn’t matter what your goal is.

Intentional living is the act of removing the unnecessary so that you have more resources available for the things you love, whatever those things may be.

Its about having an extra healthy respect for moderation. Understanding that you have a finite amount of resources available to you – time, money, energy, space. By choosing to focus those resources on what improves your life you are helping those things grow in your life. The catch is that to do that you have to take something away.

If you’ve spent all your time working a soul-draining job to pay for a house that demands too much from you than there’s no time or money left to devote to enjoying a hobby that feeds your spirit, or to just relaxing and enjoying your family.

If your closet is stuffed with clothes you don’t really like then you can’t appreciate the clothes that make you feel great.

It’s about keeping what you love and clearing away the rest.

If you dearly love your wedding china then by all means keep it, and use it! But if you haven’t opened the cabinet since before the honeymoon maybe you can let it go and make room for something better to come along.

I’ve kept all sorts of things that other people won’t understand. I have a seashell on my desk that I found on the beach last year… it’s a perfect conch shell. To some people it would be clutter but I find it beautiful, and it makes me feel a certain way when I look at it. It’s also one of only a very few things I have sitting around. And because of that I get to look at it nearly every day and remember walking on that beach and being so happy to find a perfect shell. How many of your favorite things do you look at every day?

On the other hand, I’ve gotten rid of countless knick knacks, most of the pictures hanging on my walls are now in a box waiting to go in albums, and I have a total of two coffee mugs, but other areas of my life are improving so much because I’ve made room for them to.

It’s amazing what starts showing up when you clear a path for it.

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.