The paradox and pain of choice

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Photo by Mister M on Unsplash

I’ve been thinking a lot about the paradox of choice. We live in an age where it seems you can create a business out of anything. Jobs exist now that people couldn’t have¬† imagined 100, 50, or even 20 years ago, and new niches continue to be carved out.

Despite this seemingly endless landscape of opportunity–the idea that you can achieve your dreams if you work at them, and if you want them badly enough–we’re unhappy. Diagnoses of mental health conditions are on the rise. This could in part be due to greater awareness and conversation around mental health, but I think it’s also tied to the overwhelming amount of information and mental stimuli we have access to in this age of the Internet and social media.

The idea of the “American Dream” used to be a steady job, a spouse, a house, two kids, a white picket fence. This is shifting. Our ideals are shifting. The dream is self-employment. It’s financial freedom. It’s a husband, a wife, or independence. It’s no kids or maybe five kids. It’s an apartment, a condo, a van.

There was a time when you accepted that you had to work. You got a job, you fed your family. Maybe you didn’t love it, but you didn’t question it. Now we’re regularly faced with an appeal to “live our truth” and follow our dreams–with the lifestyles of influencers and Instagram models making it seem like we made a mistake somewhere. The 9-to-5 culture is increasingly viewed as a trap rather than an achievement. How did we end up here?

I’m all for self improvement, and I’ve fallen into it full force this year in a quest to find peace and meaning with my every day. There isn’t harm in it on its own, but the danger is falling into the habit of constantly seeking the unattainable. There’s always a new way to do things better, faster, simpler; to be stronger more resilient, kinder to ourselves, more productive, more social, more self disciplined. We’ll never achieve perfection, so of course we’re dissatisfied. We’re constantly told that we’re doing the wrong things in the wrong way, our discontentment affirmed by someone else’s tropical vacation. Once you’ve started to question whether what you’re doing is worth doing, you allow doubt to creep in and take its hold. It never will be enough, because there will always be something new.

There’s something to a simpler time–of accepting your fate or accepting your choice and moving forward. There’s a reason why successful people wear the same outfit every day. We have a limited capacity to make decisions. Decisions used to be for bigger moments, but now we make several before we even get to breakfast, and we run the risk of depleting our mental reserves.

I fully recognize that I’m writing this as a white woman of privilege, and that for many people, there is still no opportunity. I don’t mean to imply otherwise. What I have been struggling with is the awareness that a lot of my perceived problems are a result of the comparison trap–and that a degree of surrender to circumstance can have a positive impact.

If you read this ramble all the way through (thank you!), what do you think? Can you relate? How do you combat the comparison trap?

 

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My morning routine

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Hocus Pocus forever!

I love reading about other people’s routines. I think that’s why I enjoy reading blogs so much. It’s fascinating to me to see what other people do in their daily lives. I especially love seeing what people eat in a day! Those are my favorite posts.

There’s a blog called My Morning Routine that posts a weekly interview with entrepreneurs and creatives on their morning schedule; highly recommend if you also love seeing how other people structure their days.

Oddly enough, I don’t really watch reality TV. It doesn’t do it for me. I guess the internet satisfies the voyeur in me.

Anyway! I thought I’d share my morning routine. I’d say this is something I instituted within the past year. I was trying to figure out how to start the day on a less rushed, less stressful note, while getting in some time to do the things I enjoy.

This is the schedule I try to stick to on weekdays, but life happens, and sometimes the time varies.

5:00 AM: Wake up. I wake up at 5 AM every day (well, every work day). I go to bed around 11 PM, so I probably definitely don’t get enough sleep! Once I get up, I feed the cats, get some water, and start making coffee. Coffee is the first thing, always. Depending on how tired I am (usually more tired as the week goes on), I tend to move really slowly.

5:30 AM: At this point, I sit down with my coffee and try to spend some time on the blog, drafting posts.

6:00 AM: Once I’ve done a little writing, I give myself some time to catch up on my favorite blogs–I’m perpetually a month behind. I use Feedly and posts disappear after 30 days, so I’m always trying to catch things before they’re gone. I read too many–but I love them all! I also eat some oatmeal at this point.

6:30 AM: I realize I should start being productive, so I get up and tackle my morning chore. I used to clean on the weekends or after work, but I’ve realized that the less I have to do at the end of the day, the less stressed I feel. I broke up our household chores into specific days–Monday meal plan, Tuesday clean the kitchen, Wednesday dust and vacuum, Thursday clean the bathroom, and Friday change the sheets. This frees up the weekend!

7:00 AM: By this point, I’m ready to work out. I work out at home in our makeshift gym–a small spare bedroom with a floor mat and some hand weights. Sometimes I do my own thing, but I mostly use YouTube videos–there are SO many good ones! (Side note: Should I do a post about my workout routine?) Lately, I’ve been following the schedule on Rebecca Louise Fitness. Her videos are freely available on YouTube, but it cost only $38 for an annual subscription, which gives you a new workout schedule each month. It makes it really easy when you don’t have to think about which workouts to do.

7:45 AM: I’m usually wrapping up my workout by this point (give or take) and ready to shower. I shower, get dressed, and start listening to some podcasts while I finish up the morning.

8:15 AM: Once I’m ready, I make my morning smoothie. I make a green smoothie every day–it feels good to get in some spinach first thing in the morning. Then no matter what else I eat that day, at least I’ve gotten something green in. I also wash any dishes from the morning and tackle any other miscellaneous chores.

8:30 AM: I try to do something inspiring while I drink my smoothie. This is the part I’m still experimenting with. Sometimes I read a motivational article–I love Shine! I was journaling for a little while. Lately, I’ve been using Grid Diary to try and do some level- and goal-setting. I’ve also been getting into tarot, so I might draw and read about a card. I’m trying to sit outside more while I do this so I can soak up a few moments of sunshine before work.

8:45 AM: When I’m done with my smoothie, I make my lunch, grab my things, and hit the road.

On a good day, I’m out the door by 9. Most days, it’s realistically 9:15 or 9:30. On bad days, I’m out the door closer to 10. It just depends.

There you go! That’s my morning routine. Anything you want to know more about? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail at moveoutoftheblack@gmail.com.

Tell me: Do you follow a morning routine? What is it?

Currently… (8/2/18)

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Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

Is anyone else feeling the effects of Mercury retrograde? We’re dealing with water issues in our basement, and I’ve got some other stressful things going on–but aside from that,¬† I just feel off. Looks like we’re here until August 19, so hopefully we can all find some ways to deal.

I still need to work on my Kentucky/Tennessee travel posts, but I wanted to check in and share what’s been going on with me–as well as hear from you! I feel like my thoughts are so jumbled lately (see above! Mercury affects communication), so doing a more stream-of-consciousness type post sounded appealing.

Watching: We’ve been watching a lot of movies lately. We did recently watch season one of The Sinner, and the Cloak & Dagger finale is this week. Is anyone else watching that one? I wasn’t sure if I’d be into it–it’s on Freeform, and the trailer had looked a little too teen drama-y–but it’s actually really good. Sure, it has it’s teen angst moments, but all in all, we’ve really been enjoying it. That said, I also love a lot of the CW shows, so take my opinions for what you will. The show makes great use of music, too!

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Cloak & Dagger

In the past week, we’ve also watched Stargate, I Kill Giants, The Babysitter, Extinction, Dukes of Hazzard, and Psychokinesis.

Reading: I’ve been really bad about reading! It’s mostly been blogs and podcasts lately. I think a beach trip is needed. What are you reading?

Listening to: Speaking of The Sinner, I had to look up who sang “the song,” (answer: Big Black Delta), and I’ve been listening to the album nonstop ever since. It’s like how I felt discovering Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” after seeing Drive. I’ve very into anything that uses a synthesizer (so, anything made in the ’80s).

Craving: Chili Mustard Onions. The plant-based coney island opened in Detroit yesterday after a long wait. We tried some of their coneys at an event last summer, and they were delicious–even my husband was impressed. I can’t wait to go!

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Vegan chili cheese dog from Chili Mustard Onions at a vegan food festival last summer

Daydreaming about: We’ve got a long vacation coming up this month, and I cannot wait. It’s going to be nice to detach for a while. We do a lot of little trips in the summer, and while they are fun, they can be draining in themselves. I’m hoping this trip helps me decompress and come back feeling recharged.

Planning: My Halloween decorations! It’s August, and I’m deeming that an appropriate time to start putting things out. We have a lot of indoor decor, but I want to get some more things to decorate the outside this year. I usually hate those giant inflatable lawn decorations, but I’ve actually found one that I kind of want….

Wanting: Aside from all of the Halloween decorations, I keep wanting to buy this shirt. I feel like I can make random Amazon purchases all day, but when it’s something I really want, then I hesitate. Should I pick it up?

Tell me: What have you been up to lately? Feel free to answer these prompts in the comments! I also found this post really helpful: “102 Verbs to Use for Currently Blog Posts.”

NOMO FOMO

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Broad City

I’ve been feeling a bit off these past few days. I talked about it a bit here, but it feels like more than post-vacation blues. Can I blame Mercury retrograde? I’m not sure what it is exactly. It feels like I’m longing for something, but I don’t know what. There’s never enough time to just be. I’m dreading plans and responsibilities, and I just want to stay in my own little bubble (there’s a reason I have a hermit crab tattooed on my arm). Weekends are never long enough. Again, though, it’s more than just the usual “Sunday Sads” or “Shmundays” (that one is my favorite).

Yet, I wake up on Mondays (albeit slowly). I put on my face. I smile and push through the day. Things are OK. I manage.

We live in a culture where “living life to the fullest” and enjoying each day because “life is short” is pushed as the ultimate definition of a happy life. When we don’t feel like we’ve achieved it–when we’ve only just made it through the day–it feels like a failure, like a missed opportunity for something better, something more.

I disagree. Sometimes our best day involves taking it slow and achieving not much more than watching three movies (not speaking from experience or anything….). Sometimes it takes all of our energy to make it through the day. We’re not failures. We’re human. We’re trying. We recognize the beauty and frailty of life, and it overwhelms us. It feels like a huge responsibility to try and honor it by making the most of our time. What does that even mean, though?

Maybe just knowing it is enough. Maybe the days I love most are the days spent at home. I can’t experience everything, and I’m not a failure if I don’t try. I’m not missing out if I’m doing what makes me happy.

In our voyeuristic and comparative culture, it’s easy to get caught up in what others are doing. We start to feel like we’re lacking–like we’re less than.

I say forget that. Everyone is different, and what fulfills us is different. We draw our energy from different sources and recharge in different ways. I am most comfortable when I’m at home. I might miss out on some things, but ultimately I’m recognizing and respecting what I need at this stage in my life.

Think about what truly makes you happy and forget the rest. If you’re where you want to be, then you’re right where you should be.

NOMO FOMO!

Checking in

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Scenes from a road trip

Hi friends. Sorry for the radio silence! It’s been a bit of a weird week. We spent an awesome weekend camping out in Kentucky and Tennessee, and drove back all day on Monday. I’m having some trouble readjusting to reality. I’m trying to get back into the groove of my normal routine, but I haven’t had as much time to write this week. I will definitely have some trip recaps coming soon, so you can hear all about our time in a yurt and seeing a concert in a cave!

I think the hardest thing is coming back to a static life. I have to admit, sometimes I’m envious of the people who give up everything and travel. My husband and I sometimes daydream about buying a van and a trailer and driving across the country, selling vintage clothes out of the back.

I’m a Cancer and a huge homebody, so I know I’d eventually grow weary of not having a home base. Still, it’s fun to imagine. I think it’s more the dichotomy of spending so much time outdoors and then returning back to the fluorescent lights–it makes me restless. It’s also the endless struggle of dealing with the fact that our time is not our own, and figuring out how to make the most of it.

Am I making any sense? Ha ha. I typically feel these pangs much more in the summer, I think because it feels so brief and fleeting. One blink and we’re back in the depths of winter. I somewhat subconsciously put a lot of pressure on myself to pack in as many experiences as I can during these warm months. It’s been a great summer so far, though, and it does feel like it’s going by fast.

As an aside, last night before I went to bed, I was talking about how my alarm is so quiet sometimes, and that feeling when you can’t sleep because you’re afraid of oversleeping. So of course, I overslept this morning. I don’t think my alarm went off at all, but it’s certainly possible I turned it off in my sleep. Oh well. I have been really tired this week–blame it on the weekend–so I guess I needed that extra hour!

That’s probably enough rambling for one morning. I’ll be back soon with more. Hope you’re having a great week!

Tell me: How do you readjust after coming back from a vacation?