Minimalist Monday: Stress Shopping

I’ve had a revelation. I’m a stress shopper. Since I’ve delved deeper into grad school and teaching I’ve been pulling 14 hour days every day. At the same time I’ve been doing my best to prop up my grieving, insomniatic fiance who is dealing with the double loss of his friend and father over summer. I’ve been stressed, to say the least. But I believed I was handling it well. I’ve been keeping on top of my schoolwork (although the apartment has gotten a bit messy and my diet has become more fast food than I care to admit). I’ve kept up my twice a week yoga and twice a week 3 mile run. I was feeling like superwoman.

It turns out I’ve been taking my stress out on Amazon. Archery equipment, accessories for my iThings, boots, sandals, a Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD. I’m out of control. When I realized I had ordered 7 items from Amazon in 3 days it dawned on me that I was having a compulsion. I was stress shopping. All of my minimalist philosophy went out the window because, damn, those boots were cute.

So I may just have to put my credit cards on ice until I get my stress under control. Literally.

Productivity and My New Year’s Resolution

Last night I was at work 8:00 am-1:30 pm, then again from 6:00 pm-10:00 pm. It was one of those days where I remember why I’m leaving my job. But actually those four hours I was here in the evening I got an entire day’s worth of work done. I had thoroughly exhausted my blogging/facebooking/emailing distractions before I returned to work, and was able to focus completely on doing my job.

This morning I arrived at 7:30 am finished off my work from last night, and returned to my digital distractions. One of those distractions was this post from The Minimalists. The gist of it is that he is productive by focusing on single, meaningful tasks rather than frittering away time on distractions. He focuses on his real priorities which are defined as the things you spend the most time doing (not necessarily what you idealistically say are your true priorities).

The post reminded me of two things: one, the attitude-behavior gap where we say or think versus how we actually behave and live our lives. I might say my priority is to spend time with my baby family, but if you block out where the majority of my time is spent, it’s at work and on the internet. The second was my New Year’s Resolution.

My New Year’s Resolution was this: to become a more productive person, not through the use of stimulants (such as coffee) and stress, but through mindfulness and single-tasking.

Well it’s the middle of April now and I’ve had some success and failure with that. I don’t drink coffee. Actually I’ve been coffee-free for so long it’s anti-productive for me because I’m unable to focus on anything for more than two minutes. I’ve started a couple of blogs which is a great productivity/creativity outlet for me. I’ve upped my yoga practice. Yoga is the only thing I do where I know I am 100% truly present. When I meditate my mind is still all over the place, and a lot of the time I am thinking about things I have to do and such, but on the mat there is nothing but perfecting that pose on my mind.

Moving forward I am going to revisit this resolution. Maybe write it on a post-it or something so I can remind myself to breathe, focus, and be present rather than worrying about money/future/whatever.

Pop-Up Wedding

So eloping has ALWAYS been on the table for Tristan and me. He is uncomfortable being the center of attention, and feels like we’ll be stuck “guilt inviting” a bunch of people that, in his mind, have no business being a part of such an intimate commitment to each other. I could do without the expense/stress/social pressure of wedding planning and would love an intimate little ceremony with just us and our immediate family. Also I would love to give the WIC a fat middle finger.

Anyways, that’s why this Runaway Pop-Up Wedding right in the heart of San Diego would be so awesome! Sadly the date is creeping up pretty freaking fast. Maybe they’ll do a Fall event?

Vacation: Going with the Flow

Sorry about the lack of post yesterday. It was the last day of my long weekend in Santa Barbara. The trip was definitely an exercise in going with the flow and a demonstration of best laid plans going awry.

The original plan was to drive up Friday night, crash at my friend’s place, go camping Saturday night, and spend Sunday night at a hotel, returning Monday.

Well the first plan change came after work Friday. Although I only work 15 minutes from my apartment, a series of unfortunate accidents (two. two car accidents) strategically placed on the drive home turned the commute into [Google Maps estimated] about an hour. My carpool decided that the two breweries also strategically placed on the drive home were a better place to spend our time than the car. So we didn’t make it home until 8 pm at which point I was substantially inebriated.

So we decided to leave Saturday around noon. Since LA sucks, we  didn’t get to my friend’s until 5:30 pm. At this point it was a bit too late to head out camping so we opted to spend then night then hike the next day. Sunday we went on a “hike.” My friend and his roommate (engineering graduate students, who are notoriously poor communicators) took us on this “hike” which turned out to be “summiting a 3258′ mountain with 500 mL of water.” The views were incredible and at the peak we were actually above the clouds. So we ended up being too tired to even find a hotel and ended up spending the night at my friend’s once again.

Overall, a great trip. Definitely not what I had planned, but hey, what in life goes exactly according to plan?

 

Photos from our hike:

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Inside the clouds

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Our shadows on the top of the clouds. The sunshine was behind us and made a rainbow around our shadow.

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Top of the clouds!

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Watching the clouds roll away. We climbed up the ridge to get to the top.

 

 

Views along the way:

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Not Your Only Shot

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

This Isn’t Your Last Chance

 

Weddings are the bane of minimalism. They demand so much excess and extraneous STUFF, centerpieces, perfect venue, perfect overpriced cake, expensive food for everyone that doesn’t even taste great. It’s a recipe for a party that costs as much as a car. Actually more than my car. I read this fabulous post over at A Practical Wedding that addressed some of the pressures surrounding weddings. It points out that much of the pressure of having everything perfect comes from this idea that this is your only chance to wear a poofy dress, have cutesy centerpieces, get those lovely artistic photos, and whatever. But in reality it’s only your one chance if you decide never to have fun outside your wedding. It’s like trying to cram a lifetime of experiences into one day, like it’s the last day of your life or something. So let’s cut weddings some slack. The theme is marriage. You can have a cowboy party whenever you want. If we change our mindset in this way, we don’t have to stress over the details, and the wedding becomes fun 🙂

 

Letting Go

Tristan always tells me that everything in life is just a state of mind. If we are stressed over something, it’s because we are allowing stress to take over.Worrying is in your head, stress is in your head, unhappiness is in your head, happiness, contentment, all of it is in your head.

With all of the pressure and expectations surrounding weddings, this mental battle is acutely present. Trying to deal with the opinions and criticisms of family and friends, sifting through all the bullshit the Wedding Industrial Complex tells you you *must* have or your wedding will be a failure. Trying not to lose sight of the your identity when everyone else wants you to to it their way. Sometimes you just need to get out of your head.

In preparation for the inevitable stress wedding planning will undoubtedly bring, I’ve amassed a few resources and techniques for dealing with the stress and drama:

First, initial reactions and coping.

Then, Zen Mind for letting go of the stress.

Letting your detractors know what’s up.

And finally, revisiting my favorite book…

I kind of want to live in the Hundred Acre Wood…