How to become a morning person

road trip sunset

Damn I’ve been busy. In addition to working my butt off on some exciting projects that will hopefully help me be my own boss in the near future, I was out of town most of last week. I spent 4 days in Virginia for a work meeting, came home for less than 24 hours, and then skipped off for a road trip to the other side of Michigan to spend a long weekend full of sun and beer in Grand Rapids.

All this running around has got me thinking that I really need to scoop up a few extra hours in my day. Since time turners only exist in Harry Potter’s world for now, my next best option is to commit to goal #72: Wake up at 7am every day for a week. Waking up early is a particular kind of torture for me. If I’m not about to be late for something REALLY important, I’m totally unable to get out of bed without snoozing my alarm 1 million times. Day after day I do this, regardless of how committed I become to experiencing a morning during my waking hours.

So here’s the deal, internet people. I’m counting on y’all for some social pressure to actually do this thing. Next week is go time. I’m gonna knock this goal out and while I’m at it, build a new lasting habit that’ll extend beyond this trial week. There, I said it on the internet so now I have to deliver!

Here are my strategies for waking up early:

  1. Go to bed on time – You’re nothing without those 7-8 hours!
  2. Stop snoozing! – Real talk. I have been known to snooze my alarm (which goes off at 10 minute intervals) for up to 2 hours before actually getting out of bed. This is terrible and I know it. During those 2 hours all I’m doing is being annoyed, annoying my boyfriend (bless his heart he never complains), and getting the absolute worst sleep (can you even call that sleep?). Time to end the cycle! Wake up on the FIRST alarm!
  3. Wake up slow – My body is incapable of bounding out of bed at the first sound of an alarm. So instead I’ll focus on waking up slow, staying in bed for a little while (no snoozing allowed!), checking Instagram or reading a couple pages in a book to ease into wakefulness.
  4. Drink water – This is one of the easiest things you can do to wake up in the morning. You’re dehydrated when you wake up and being dehydrated makes you feel slothy and yucky. Drinking water first thing will help get that energy going. Bonus: nothing works better for getting me out of bed than a full bladder.
  5. Make mornings fun – Listen to music, get outside for some fresh air, treat myself to donuts. Burn into my memory that waking up early = good.

Got any other brilliant wake up early strategies? I’d love to hear them! (I’m gonna need all the help I can get)

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Feel Better Thursday

I’ve been sick, y’all, and it’s bumming me out. Sure, being sick seems like the perfect excuse to curl up with my laptop and do some productive internet-ing, but that’s not quite how it goes for me. My brain goes fuzzy and the most it can handle is turning on Netflix and slouching over to the kitchen to make some tea. A perfect recipe for doing absolutely nothing productive for a week. Great.

Since my mental and physical energy are finally starting to come back, I thought I’d remind you all that I’m not dead and give you a peek at some things that have been keeping me feeling positive over the past week:

Passion-planner2

I ordered a Passion Planner a while back and it recently showed up in my mailbox. It’s a mega useful planner slash life coach all packed inside a pretty faux leather binding. I haven’t gotten too deep into planning with it yet as a result of the sickness, but I’m pretty stoked to get down to business with this baby very soon.

yes

I recently said yes to something I wouldn’t normally do (goal #83) and hired a career coach to help me figure out what I should be doing with my life and how to get there. Asking for help from other people is not my strong suit, especially when it costs me money. But this guy came highly recommended, and I’ve been struggling a lot with this career question lately, so I figured I’d just take the plunge. We’ve only met once so far, but I’m excited to keep working with him. He started me off by having me take the Myers Briggs personality test to see what types of work my personality is best suited for. Apparently I’m an INFJ. Has anyone else every taken this test? What did you think of it? I thought the description of my personality type fit me shockingly well.

And finally, cats on roombas to make us all feel better:

kittens-roomba

Cat-shark-roomba

cat-roomba

Cat-On-Roomba-Going-In-Circles

Be well, friends!

The 5,000 Question Survey

Digging

I’m digging up the past here. Remember back when Livejournal was the pinnacle of the internet and everyone was doing those “about me” surveys? Well, I found one and I’m totally doing it. Can we make these popular again?

This is for goal #88 “Complete the 5,000 question survey.” I discovered this goal surfing around Day Zero Project (where my list first began to take shape), and it immediately gave me flashbacks to my angsty Livejournal days. Obviously I had to add this goal to my list.

I suppose at the time I didn’t quite realize how insane 5,000 questions for a survey would be — I’ve only slogged through 200 questions thus far. Some of the questions are decidedly stupid, but I pulled out a handful of gems for your reading pleasure:

  1. What is the truest thing that you know?  The purpose of life is to be happy.
  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?  Archaeologist. 
  1. Which decade do you feel the most special connection to and why?  The 1920s, I’d totally be a flapper. So much going on politically and culturally.
  1. What is your favorite oldie/classic rock song?  More than a feeling – Boston
  1. Is there a movie that you love so much you could watch it everyday?  Stranger than Fiction
  1. What’s the best joke you ever heard?  What do you call a dinosaur with good taste?… A Dinosseur
  1. What is the first animal you would run to see if you went to the zoo?  Red panda
  1. What cartoon would you like to be a character in?  Adventure Time. 
  1. What insects are you afraid of?  Moths. 
  1. If you could print any phrase on a T-shirt, what would it say?  “I ate all the pizza and I drank all the beer.” -Charlie Day
  1. Of all animated movies, which is the best one you’ve ever seen?  James and the giant peach or Fantasia (the original)
  1. What is the happiest way you can start your day?  Sleep in. Wake up to coffee & donuts
  1. If someone wanted to understand you what book could they read that would help?  Pretty much anything written by Stefan Zweig

Oh yeah, and keeping up with the Livejournal theme…

Current mood: Hungry Mely

Current music: Here I Go Again – White Snake

Who else got their start with good old LJ? C’mon be honest.

See ya January, it’s been real!

I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve been up to so much and not telling you guys about it. Forgive me! Here goes:

My new recipe to try in January was roasted beet soup with spinach and squash seed pesto. This recipe came from a cookbook I got for Christmas — The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier of the mouth-watering site Chocolate and Zucchini. This cookbook is lovely. It’s divided into sections by season, which I think is genius, and it’s entirely focused on using fresh, seasonal produce to its highest potential. Even better: all the recipes are vegetarian and many of them are vegan.

This soups take a little while to prepare almost entirely because of the time it takes to roast the beets. Once that’s out of the way though, it’s a snap, and the end product is equal parts delicious, healthy, and beautiful.

Look how pretty my dinner is! I want to decorate a house with these shades of magenta and green.

beet-soup

This pesto is a miracle. Delicious and amazingly easy to whip together in my trusty Magic Bullet. I want to make vats of it and put it on all the sandwiches and pasta I can find.

spinach-pesto

The only change I’d make next time is adjusting the amount of salt. The recipe called for a half teaspoon in the pesto and then another half teaspoon in the soup, but I think a half teaspoon total worked much better. I added the full half teaspoon to my pesto and then realizing how salty it ended up being, skipped adding any salt to the soup. Once I mixed them together the taste was just right. Next time I’ll just split the half teaspoon between the two dishes.

—–

January was also my month of doing yoga every single day. This “challenge” ended up being surprisingly easy. Now that I work from home full-time, I’ve technically gained an extra hour each day by avoiding the commute. Amazing, free time! So for the month of January I simply replaced my commute time with yoga time. Bonus: at the end of the challenge I was rewarded with (in addition to that whole healthy, zen, feeling-good business) champagne, fun brunch with my fellow yoga challengers (complete with beer-mosas – YUM), and this awesome crown:

yoga-crown

—–

And lastly, January meant I had to get real with myself about one of the most daunting goals on my list. Read every unread book on my shelf in one year’s time. I spent some time cataloging my books to see just how much work this would be (they’re also alphabetized and organized by genre – go ahead, call me a nerd to my face).

Here’s what it comes down to: 182 books in one year (you can check out my full reading list here). That’s about one book every two days. Yes, I do have a minor book buying problem. Nevertheless, I’m plugging away at this goal, seeing how far I can get. I’m hitting this one hard by taking on all 1,079 pages of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace first thing. Let’s do this!

1 year left

Birds

Today is a big day you guys. I officially have 1 year left to complete my list. Lots of my goals are one time projects or events, but I have a few year-long projects that I’ll need to start tackling posthaste. They are:

9. Take a photo of the same place every month for a year and then turn it into a calendar for the next year

I’m planning to photograph the downtown of the little city I live in. Though I dread Michigan’s fierce winters, I love living in this little city. There’s always a lot going on here — festivals, community events, not to mention all the great local shops and restaurants and the wonderful residents that call this place home. I’m also excited for a good excuse to use my film camera (a Canon AE-1 Program) which I don’t take out to play nearly as often as I should.

28. Try a new recipe every month for a year

I have SO many wonderful cookbooks that I severely underutilize. I like cooking and I think I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself, but I rarely follow recipes. Instead, driven by the need to use that last bit of broccoli before it goes bad, I stare into the depths of my fridge until inspiration hits me and dinner comes out, made out of whatever I have on hand. Grocery store trips for the sake of one meal are completely out of the question. I’m hoping using recipes more often will spur some ideas about flavor combinations and different ingredients to sample during my regular cooking trials. January’s recipe is going to come from a new cookbook I just got for Christmas — The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier. I’ll be making roasted beet soup with baby spinach and squash seed pesto. Yes please!

29. Eat vegan once a week for a year

This one shouldn’t be too hard as long as I remember to do it. I’ve been happily vegetarian for about 14 years (more than half my life) and I regularly eat vegan purely by accident. Just gotta remember not to grate cheese onto everything for one day a week (okay this might be harder than I thought).

36. See live music at least once a month for a year

I think this one is going to fit nicely with goal #34 Listen to 26 bands I’ve never heard of, each starting with a different letter of the alphabet. I don’t really know any bands playing shows this month, so I’ll have to discover a new one. To this end I checked out Zola Jesus (letter Z: check!) but I’m not super into them — sounds like boring moody electronic music to me. Then I tried Pity Sex (letter P: check!), they’re local hailing from Ann Arbor and sound like grungey 90s inspired rock. Pretty good, could be a fun show, but I think I’d get bored of the music pretty quickly. Next try is Lia Ices (letter L: check!). This is the winner. She’s sort of folksy almost new agey, kind of electronic Tori Amos with a tambourine. The show is January 16th. Looking forward!

59. Keep a diary for a year

My obsession with paper products — stationary, journals, sketchbooks, oh my! — began at an early age and I’ve been a sporadic diary-er ever since. Right now I’m working in a classic black, hardcover Moleskine, but my entries often fall months, if not years apart. My plan is to write at least once a week for the next year.

67. Volunteer regularly for a year

If I can handle myself and not take every single cat I see home with me, I want to start volunteering at an animal shelter. I used to volunteer a whole bunch with Planned Parenthood so might try getting back into that as well — it was nice hanging out with like-minded, feministy ladies on the regular. To be determined.

Goals, goals, goals!

pen_notepad_hires

Like everyone else in the world, the new year’s got me thinking about all the goals and plans I’ve got brewing in the back of my mind. First and foremost is figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. I have a good sense of what I want my life to look like, but trying to figure out what kind of job will get me there has been eating away at my brain for some time now.

I’ve always been a think-before-I-act type of person. I tend to sit and ponder questions like this, thinking in circles until I give myself a headache. I’m still not sure what my next move should be career-wise, but I’m hoping working on the goals in this list will help flex my action muscles and get me out of my own head a bit.

With that in mind, up first on the goals menu is 31 straight days of yoga. The studio I frequent offers up a free month of yoga for anyone who comes in every day for the month of January. Since I have a work trip for three days in the middle of the month I’m not quite eligible for the freebie, but I’m using it as an excuse to get my ass off the couch every single day and move. Today is day 4 – so far so good!