Organizing Life

smallOrganizing blocks is easy.

Organizing papers is easy.

Organizing food, shoes, and office supplies is easy.

Organizing life is hard.

The other examples are all measurable and visual. When all the papers are in the correct files, they’re organized. How do you measure the organization of life?

You don’t. It’s intangible. It’s manifests as a feeling deep in your gut–a mixture of satisfaction and relief. It’s all about how you feel.

That’s why you feel so shitty when everything around you is in chaos.

Productivity drops. Everything becomes a hassle. Go to a party? I can’t even find a clean pair of underwear or any of my left shoes.

I have this problem. Had this problem. Have… Somewhere in the middle. I’m in transition. I recently moved and let myself become swallowed by chaos for two months. My mom had to come save me.

No, seriously, I called my mommy.

Not everyone is so lucky to have a mom who will come put together your new apartment while you sit on the couch wallowing in self-pity. Not everyone has a mom who will go to the store and buy brownies and fish sticks and wine because you’ve hurtled yourself into chaos-induced depression.

Luckily, there is still a bounty of resources, communities, and help. You just have to look for it. Since my mom doesn’t live with me (even though I hid one of her shoes on top of the fridge when she tried to leave), I have to use these other resources too.

Yeah, being an adult sucks

But maybe we can help each other. I’m no expert, but I bet we have a lot in common.

Here’s how I’m working on my life: I’m dividing my life up into different sections (below) so I can tackle individual tasks. This will keep me from getting overloaded. Your sections will differ, but if you get easily overloaded too, maybe you can try the same method. Let me know how it works for you.

Home

This refers to organization within my home–my physical apartment (which I call a house because it sounds nicer) that I pay too much money for every month to let it be a disaster zone. This section includes the cleanliness, organization, and “zen factor” of my house.

Recently, I’ve discovered The Fly Lady. She’s got a simple system that I plan to implement, to a certain extent. For example, one of her early rules is to get dressed to the shoes even if you don’t normally wear shoes in the house. I grew up in Hawai’i. Wearing shoes inside is a HUGE no-no. I’ve unconsciously kicked my shoes into the dining room while cleaning even after purposefully putting them on.

I’m a work in progress.

School

I am three months, two weeks, and six days away from completing my Bachelor’s. I should be done, but I let other life “priorities” mess up some of my schooling, delaying me almost a year. Yay irresponsibility. (Let me just say this: if you can avoid it, don’t get into a serious, rest-of-your-life relationship when you’re eighteen and trying to finish college.)

I have to focus very strictly on completing the rest of my rather dull curriculum or else my family will shun me forever.

Not really, but I’ll feel really guilty wasting even more time and money than I already have.

Boyfriend

You know what Disney doesn’t tell you? Relationships are hard.

I’m one of those “stick with it” types who gets wrapped up in another person very quickly. My boyfriend and I have been together for a less than a year, but I’m committed as if we’ve been together much longer. Though I receive a fair amount of criticism, that’s just the way I am. Kind of gooey.

But I’m not a wonderful girlfriend. I’m surly and grumpy. I’m very selfish (only child complex). I’m still recovering from a series of bad relationships before him.

Blah blah blah. Other people’s relationships are boring.

Long story short, I would like to be a better girlfriend and put more energy directly into our relationship.

Health

I’m very, very, very tired of being chubby. And out of breath. And generally unhealthy. This blog actually started as a healthy lifestyle blog (“Eat” Just One?) It’s become just a blog about my life improvements. Maybe I’ll change the name some day.

Anyway, the usual here: Eat healthy, move more. I’m a proponent of the Paleo lifestyle.

Other

This is… Everything else. All the smaller scale things that don’t take up as much time. Job search. Friends. Family.

I want to mentioned that these things are very important to me. They just don’t command as many hours in my day.

For example, my parents and grandmother are my only family. They live about five hours away. We talk a few times a week, email constantly, and see each other about once a month.

A job is vital if I want to live under a roof, but my top priority is finishing school.

And, as you’ll learn if you follow this blog, I don’t like people all that much and my friends are assholes.

 

 

If I work on these sections of life everyday, there’s no way I won’t succeed. This basically covers everything in life, but puts it in nice, square boxes. I like square boxes.

 

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How to Focus on Yourself Without Leaving Him Behind

My Relationship (For Better or Worse)

I love the moments when I can legitimately bring up my boyfriend without just sounding like I’m back in high school having sex for the first time. When I can talk about my relationship in a meaningful way that might help other people.

Okay, maybe I’m ruining it with the editorialization. Whatever, he’s awesome.

I love being a couple. I’m good at it. I make a really good “nagging housewife.” (You could even ask him, he’ll probably agree after the number of times I’ve forced him to drink water, take medicine, and take out the trash). But as much as I enjoy having someone who has to cuddle me and watch my favorite TV shows, there’s a downside to this whole committed relationship thing, too.

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Laziness.

I’m a homebody. Sitting on the couch, watching Netflix, and reloading Facebook is my idea of a nice Saturday. (Especially in the winter.)

My boyfriend isn’t. Previous to getting with me, he spent most of his time outdoors. He was fairly active and usually on the go. He walked a lot, road his board a lot, and generally did things.

Yeah, I feel a little guilty for dragging him into my housecat lifestyle. But man, does he make a good pillow. Besides, he really loves my Xbox.

While we may be living my lifestyle, we both tend to drag each other down. Unfortunately, our motivation to stop being coach potatoes never strikes at the same time. We’ve become so used to doing everything together that it’s hard to get excited about something the other one has no interest in.

Being “Committed” In Your Early Twenties

Since I started dating, I’ve only been single for one extended period of time. My relationships tended to hit one right after the other. My last relationship (previous to my current) broke that cycle for me.

It wasn’t a disaster because it taught me a lot. He was good person who I’m still on friendly terms with. But we were a whirlwind. We broke up four times. We got engaged. I got drunk and kissed his sister’s boyfriend—hey, I’ve grown a lot since then, okay? Then I chose living in the ghetto in a one bedroom apartment with four other people, two dogs, and a baby over staying with him.

The underlying problem was that I did not want to be in a relationship. I got with him when I was 18, straight out of another two year relationship. By the time I was 20 I was exhausted by commitment. There was no way in hell I was getting married before I got to sow some wild oats. I was single for about eight months until getting with my current boyfriend.

In a recent post on her blog Wander Onwards, Vanessa shared a list of things to do instead of settling down by age 23. She outlines what’s wrong with the idea and poses her own solution.

I’ve got to say, I mostly agree with her. The problem with being committed at such a young age is that it is too easy to lose yourself—or never find yourself. You are still growing in your twenties. As my mother is so fond of saying,

“Your frontal lobe isn’t even fully developed yet.”

It’s dangerous to grow up defining yourself in terms of someone else. I want to urge others to avoid that quagmire.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with my boyfriend and I have all intentions of making it work. But you have to be aware of what you’re doing. You have to make a conscious effort to define yourself apart from your partner.

Solution

  • Be your own motivation. This goes for life in general, not just romantic relationships. Do not let other people define your interests. Let activities bring you joy independently and you will attract like-minded people. In a relationship, don’t let your partner’s negative comments dissuade you from doing something you love. For example, my boyfriend has been playing GTA V for the past six hours, despite my huffing and puffing. He truly enjoys pretending to be a gangster.
  • Plan separate activities. If you get too accustomed to doing everything together it will become harder and harder to do things apart. Get used to doing things apart. It’s kind of like a muscle you have to exercise. Plus, it’ll give you something more to talk about than, “Remember when we did that really cool thing?” “Yeah, I was there.”
  • Encourage only good habits. My worst habit is sleeping too much. I love sleeping. I’ll sleep for ten hours a night and feel perfectly justified. But then I’ll take a nap. And then I’ll get mad about something and go back to bed entirely. Or stressed. Or if I get bored I sleep, too. It’s kind of my fallback. However, I don’t encourage my man to do the same. I don’t try and convince him that he should sleep half the day way, too. I do encourage him to go to the gym with me. I will lightly jab him until he puts his shoes on and comes with me. I’ll encourage him to eat a salad with me instead of just chips. Practice only pushing your good habits on your significant other and encourage him to do the same for you.
  • Keep some mystery. I don’t tell my boyfriend about everything I do right away. In fact, he knows I’m a writer, but I don’t think he knows about this blog. Mystery does two things for a relationship: One, it means you can constantly be learning about each other. Two, it keeps you from getting discouraged if your partner is less than thrilled about your new hobby. (For example, I don’t know if mine would be excited that I’m posting about his GTA V addiction, but when I do tell him, it’ll definitely give us something to discuss!) As long as you’re not hurting one another or being “sneaky,” it’s fine to have interests that the other doesn’t enjoy or appreciate.

Share Your Perspective

Share your perspective in the comments below! Are you looking for ways to define yourself while keeping your partner close? Are you young, married, and believe you’re way happier than me? Let me know, I’d love to hear what you have to say.

[Photo Credit: “Love,” Flickr jmscottIMD]

A Vision of Success – An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

10106984573_af30744f70_oDon’t you hate New Year’s Resolutions? Seriously, how many of those grandiose goals actually make it through the year? Through the month? If you’ve successfully held to your resolutions in the past, I’d love to hear your story. But for the most part, all I hear about is failure.

Don’t get me wrong, failure is a part of life. Failure is a sign that you’re trying. In his recent blog on the subject, Steve Morris pointed out that Bill Gates and Donald Trump were both wonderfully successful failures. Still, I’d have to argue that all that learning eventually gets discouraging.

My issue with resolutions isn’t with their content but with their lack of results. I’m supposed to pick one giant goal for my entire year? Life just doesn’t work like that.

Let’s look at a common one: In 2014, I will adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Great, so what does that mean? It lacks detail. It lacks the vision necessary to succeed. So, humor me, and we’ll tighten it up a bit.

My new resolution is: I will eat healthier in 2014.

Awesome, I like that one enough. Not so specific that I’ll fail frequently, but specific enough to measure my success at the end of the year. It’s not a S.M.A.R.T. goal, but it’ll do.

But here’s the real problem. My life is about so much more than eating. Honestly, it’s about more than health, too. What about family? Friends? Schooling? Work aspirations? Writing goals? That herb garden I’ve been meaning to start for years?

All the sudden, I’ve made this huge promise to the universe that I will make healthy eating my priority throughout the year. It just doesn’t seem realistic to me. My life is too multi-faceted for that—I’m betting yours is to.

(And if you’re going to tell me that a resolution isn’t about pinpointing your focus for the year to come, then what the heck is it?)

I must sound so difficult at this point. Just a Grinch of New Year’s. I’m not, I promise. I’m just a revolutionary.

I propose this instead: Write a vision for your 2014. Make it encompass everything that’s important to you. What do you want to be looking back at come December? What would make you satisfied and happy with life?

Be specific enough so that you can say “success” or “fail.” But not so specific that you’re failing more days than not. Write it out. Keep it somewhere safe. Reread it in the months to come to gauge your progress.

I’m breaking mine up into sections: Relationships (read: family and friends), School, Writing, Finances, Health. It’ll be about a page long. (To be totally honest, it’s coming a little late because 2013 ended with a lot of partying… Ahem, anyway.)

I want to encourage everyone to take this spin on your New Year. Give yourself a vision to fulfill, not a resolution to fail. Write it down. Send it to me via comment, or post it in your blog and leave me a link. I’ll weigh in on your vision from my perspective and give you a bit of cheerleading, too.

[Photo Credit: , Flickr ]

Starting Over Again – Making a Healthy Lifestyle Stick

healthy snack fruit and cacao

There are a ridiculous amount of healthy lifestyle blogs. I should know, I read them religiously and run one myself now. I’ve always wondered what motivates other people to editorialize their journey. My motivation is to use this blog as a method of accountability.

I’ve always been a writer. It’s part of my soul. Words are always there for me. Through my hardest times, the written word is my only form of expression. It makes sense, then, that whenever I want to change my life, I turn to some kind of journal. It helps keep me on track and it serves as evidence for Future Alex (that’s me).

I’ve kept journals my entire life. Some of them must have come right out of an owl’s mouth—‘cause they’re a hoot! Oh, to read about my high school woes is entertainment at its finest. I love the proof that I have matured; in comparison, I actually seem like a real adult!

But sometimes, these logs backfire. I have kept an “I Can Eat Just One” blog in some form for about two years. I’ve used the same title over many platforms as a way to track my progress to a healthy life. Life’s journeys are so rarely a straight line; they’re more like roller coasters. As far as health and weight loss, my past blogs only serve as evidence that I’ve gotten nowhere.

If you check out my progress, you’ll see two pictures: one from December 2011 and one from January 2012. I look the same. Those pictures are two attempts to “start over.” Here we are, December 2013, and I’m doing it again.

I’ve got a better plan this time and a lot in my life is different. I’m finally in a solid place emotionally and I think that will make a huge difference. Previously, I tried to gain control of my health so I would have control of something. Now, I have a good handle on the rest of my life and I feel better equipped to focus on my health.

It will take focus. I have a lot of bad habits to undo.

That brings me here, to this blog. I aim for Eat Just One to serve as a way to keep myself accountable. I hope to find support in the vast healthy lifestyle blogosphere. And I hope to—once and for all—write down the words that will serve as proof for Future Alex that she did do something absolutely amazing by turning her health around.

And since I’m naturally curious, let me know: Why did you start your blog? If you don’t have one, have you considered it? Weight in by commenting!

[Photo Credit: Jennifer, Flickr SweetOnVeg]