healthy hacks

Rising Rituals

Win the morning, win the day, to paraphrase author and entrepreneur Tim Ferris.

Life these days has me early to bed, early to rise.

Right now, a good morning starts the night before. I lay my clothes out for whatever the day may bring. If I am going to the gym, I pack my gym bag and work clothes and put them in my car. One less thing to worry about in the wee hours.

Coffee maker starts brewing at 4:15 am.

I start the day by preparing my coffee and lighting a candle. Something that smells good. The warm light is comforting and for some reason just adds to the quiet sense of this as my personal time and gift to myself.

Then I read for about 5-10 minutes. I just finished Obstacle is the Way and started Stillness is the Key. Then, I grab my 5 Second Journal. This journal was recently recommended to me by a friend. I jot my way through my daily schedule and morning thoughts. Probably the most helpful part is writing down the main project for my day. I am generally pretty scatterbrained and can get through a day without even touching the most important thing. Forcing myself to choose a priority helps me think ahead to getting that done. I also benefit from the hour-by-hour breakdown of the day as a bird’s eye view of what is ahead.

After reading, writing, candle, and coffee, the day may take one of two paths. I may have time for a quick errand or two…empty the dishwasher, pay a bill, or I might do some more extensive writing. If I am working out at home that day, I start my home workout.

By the time I really start moving, I feel productive. I feel relatively calm, centered, and directed. The day is going in the right direction. I blow my candle out and off I go!

My biggest challenge is staying off my phone throughout this process. Some days this is easier than others. I know I need to use my time productively and generally my phone scrolling is sort of mindless. I can also quickly lose 20 minutes and not know what happened. So I try to keep it to paper and pencil as much as possible.

My morning routine for the past few months. It wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for me. Sometimes this is the only time I have to myself all day. While I love and appreciate people, getting my mind right and having some time to just think and greet the day myself is helpful for finding my footing in this hectic and unsteady world. What do you do to start your day off right?

3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

A Doctor Digs in the Dirt

I recently wrote a rant-ish post about being a PhD. How I use my degree maybe not as a professor, but more as a thinker every single day.

I’ve recognized this a lot lately as I’ve waded into the first stages of flower farming. It reminds me of my surprise when I had a baby. When I became pregnant, I was immersed in this whole new universe and language I had no idea about. Pick up a baby magazine and I was surrounded by a new vocabulary. So many debates and decisions. What kind of diapers, how medicalized a birth, co-sleeping, onesies, products galore. It was a whole world I knew nothing about, even though it had been there all along.

Flower farming is much the same way. It has its own calendar, its ebbs and flows. So many special bloom varieties to choose from. Growing zones, soil amendments, succession planting…I am wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Just the photos on insta of all the beauty makes me swoony.

On the calendar side, so far I am playing catchup. I’m learning you have to be thinking at least 6 months ahead, and eventually a year. 3Splitz Farm is not even 6 months old (hard to believe!) so I am giving myself a little grace on that. We wanted tulips, but it took a while to find the right ones. In the mean time, I read in all sorts of places about where to source high- quality bulbs and what they should look like. My lightweight crumbly bulbs from the local mega mart weren’t going to cut it. This is a researcher in action. Most major places were sold out, but I finally found a farm with a great reputation that had the flowers we needed. The first set of bulbs went in the ground on the late side, but I’ve ordered seeds now so they should arrive in plenty of time. Slowly but surely the calendar is spreading forward. Soon we will be on pace.

Planning the land is the next challenge. It’s left me paralyzed at times, thinking that where we plant ______________ (bulbs, seeds, plants, veggies) is some kind of permanent decision. What if the flowers don’t thrive there? What if they can’t be seen the way we want them to? What if animals or pests destroy the crop? We took the step and planted the first set over the last couple of weeks. I was guided by my OLW: DO, and reminded myself that mistakes can be fixed. Of course, that’s only if we have the courage to make them! I am listening to the land and trusting that it will tell me what to do. It’s a wonderful intersection between science, wishes, and hard work.

challenges

The 2020 Ta-Da List

2020 was a year that upheaved many goals. Maybe it was the rules changing about where we can go and what we can do. Maybe it was shifting priorities from getting out and going to just hunkering down and staying safe. Maybe it was self-imposed or created limits of mental exhaustion and the like.

Whatever the reason, 2020 pulled the rug out from our runway of dreams. The universe laughed at our plans. Goals had to shift. Travel, work, adventure, all kinds of things had to pivot.

I looked back at my goals and in a conventional sense, I didn’t meet them. I’m not giving myself a pass because life got hard. It is what it is. But, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to make a little “Ta-Da!” list, which reminds me that despite my 2020 challenges, things still got done.

  • I maintained my fitness regimen, moving my body pretty much daily. Most of the time this meant working out at home or in the gym, but I also started hiking more often and put many miles on my bike.
  • I took a more active role in my personal finances, learning how to move money around and make it work.
  • I partnered with trusted friends to purchase the property for 3Splitz Farm. We navigated the first stages of planning and implementing the vision for our rustic paradise.
  • I started a new business of my own.
  • I established a 501(c) and led that organization through a successful first year.
  • I bought a new car.
  • I read lots of books.
  • I parented my kids through a trying and confusing time in their lives.
  • I maintained several of my health priorities: eat well, drink well, connect.
  • I lifted up my friends and loved ones to lighten their mental loads.

2020 wasn’t what I expected, and 2021 won’t be either. Some of these accomplishments weren’t on my radar at all this time last year. This has all informed how I am thinking of my goals this year. Leave a little more room to move, to play, to grow.

I had to stop myself from writing the “shadow truths” about each of these goals. For most of these bullet points, there is something I could have written as a “but…” But ta-da lists shouldn’t come with qualifications. These are what they are, and many are a start. Several appear in my goals for 2021, to enhance, improve, and expand.

What’s on your ta-da list for 2020?

challenges

Turning 50

A group of my fitness friends and I are building our engines. In addition to CrossFit and extra cardio, this crazy group of ladies throws in challenges here and there just to keep it fun and interesting.

Chick 1 got the honor of throwing October’s challenge at us. And it was a doozy.

“Pick a day. Any day. Hop on the bike erg and ride for as long as you can without breaking. Also for socktober you need to wear crazy socks while doing it and document your duration here with video or photo proof. Ready set go!”

Of course being my PhD self I had to ask questions. Is this for time or distance or both? (Honestly, did it really matter?)

I wanted a marathon distance at least. Had to find a day when I could get to the bike erg at the gym for at least two hours, just to be safe. Finally, a night when I had a 7:00 pm meeting not too far from the gym. I get out of work around 4, so that should be just enough.

Preparation: Pack my bike shorts for extra padding. This would be an endurance challenge for my mind, my legs, and for other body parts, too! (If you’ve spent much time on a bike, you know what I mean.) Take Tylenol a couple of hours before. And stop drinking water at noon or so, to be sure my bladder doesn’t shorten my ride! Checked the gym schedule to be sure the bike wasn’t in the workout – whew!

I raced to the gym on the appointed day. I packed things to read, things to do, my AirPods, and so on. Walked in and thankfully the bikes were empty. I was there before any afternoon classes so I got setup, got my tunes going, went to the bathroom one last time, and off I went.

I just went steady most of the first hour. Saw the 4:30 class come and go. I did some video editing one-handed for my daughter’s college recruiting. Read some old articles on my phone. Just kept pedaling. When the second hour started I couldn’t really focus on anything else anymore. My brain just couldn’t do it. So it became just pedal pedal pedal. 42,195 meters – just gotta keep pedaling!

I did take a photos at milestones, like 20 miles. This was to keep things interesting because honestly, riding on the erg for long periods bores me. I’d rather ride my road bike and go places. I also started to worry that the monitor battery would crap out and I’d be stuck with no proof.

After nearly two hours, I hit the marathon distance. And as I had hoped, I still had a little time and I still had life in my legs. So I did what a crazy person does, I kept going. It’s less than 8,000 meters to 50k. Why not try?

I pushed when there really wasn’t much push in my muscles. I just hunkered down and kept going. Watching the number click, click, click over. Praying the monitor kept working! Watching the minutes tick, tick, tick by. Hoping I’d get done in time!

Finally, I got to the last 500 meters. I was going to do it! Video in hand, I taped the monitor so I could see it click over to 50,000. I was going to take selfies and celebrate next to that big number. 300…200…100…and…ready for my close up…but instead….

Apparently no one is crazy enough to bike 50,000 meters, because after 49,999 the monitor starts back over at 1. 1!

I burst out laughing.

What else can I do but laugh? Sure, I didn’t get my photo opp. That doesn’t change the crazy effort or what I know I completed. Just means it’s time for something new.

Sometimes you work your butt off to get to a goal, then get there only to find out someone moved your cheese. Or that goal wasn’t that big of a deal anyway. Or actually, there’s another goal over the horizon. Victory party sure, but keep it short lived. Start over. Get racing. It’s a never-ending process of challenge and improvement. Maybe this is what turning 50 will be like, too. You get there and look around just to say, what’s next? Every finish line is really a start line.

So I waddled off the erg, packed my things and got to my meeting. Chick 1 gave me groovy Nerds socks as my challenge prize. Bring on November. New goals, new challenges and a great group of friends to conquer them with.

family, Teddie Aspen

Dog Lessons

It wasn’t long ago I was digging through boxes leftover from my childhood home. I ran across an American Kennel Club certificate. Maximillian was his name.

I had heard his name many times in my life, often with a sneer from one of my brothers. They loved their dog, and I was the reason we got rid of him. Maximillian, the prized pooch, couldn’t stop knocking me over as a newly walking toddler. So, he had to go.

All this to say, I didn’t grow up with dogs. I had a cat named Snoopy I treasured but was allergic to (a story for another post), but never a dog. I just didn’t get dogs. Never wanted one. And who knows, maybe I was even a little scared of them from all my hard knocks as a babe.

As an adult, when my family wanted to get a dog, I resisted. We even had a dog live with us for a while that didn’t really work out. We ended up taking him to a new home where he could have the room and attention he needed.

Then Penny came along. My sister-in-law became her unexpectedly permanent foster mom. She needed a place to live and a family to love her. Would we be interested? I didn’t really want this at all. We could take her for a 2-week trial to see if we could handle it.

And she never left. We live together but I wouldn’t say she loves me. Still, my heart softened seeing how much everyone else loved her. She changed our family.

And then came the dog that I really did love. Chester. The unlikely, homely, wiry guy from the pound. The underdog. I didn’t even know why we would ever need 2 dogs. I was just getting used to 1! Then Chester who got scared by sudden movements and noises, Chester who always backed out of the room…Chester came along. He was very shy at first but eventually came around and became sweet, playful Chester. He loves to run and bound through the woods, and his sad eyes will pull at your heart strings every time. Chester changed my heart about dogs.

Now there’s the newest member of the clan named Nash, who I’ve taken a liking to. I even embrace my extended family and friend’s dogs. Heck, I even get to walk dogs and dog sit once in a while. Truthfully, I still don’t know how to act around dogs, and they can tell. It doesn’t come naturally for me and maybe never will. Thankfully, I’ve learned that many dogs are pretty forgiving if you at least try. They teach me about protection, loyalty, priorities and unconditional love. They seem to bring out the best in people just by being there and present in the moment. That bowls me over in the best of ways.