Hella Healthy Habits

Since going from living on my own during the week and only being home with the hubby on weekends, I have had some struggles with my eating habits. When I was on my own, I was doing really well. Mostly because I only had enough food in the apartment to get me through the week. I didn’t keep much in the way of snacks around. I also was living on tea, with my utiliTEA right on my desk. It made making tea so much more convenient.

Moving back home changed things. There’s more food in the apartment because I’m not the only one buying food. I’m also making dinner for the two of us, not just me anymore. Which means I need to take his tastes into account. **I am not complaining at all. I love my hubby. It’s just going from living single to living together again.** There were plenty of times during the past school year when I would make chicken thighs for myself every night and not get tired of them. Not only does he prefer white meat, but he wants more variety in his main dishes, which is fine. I was also drinking less tea because it isn’t right in my face all the time anymore.

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Because my tea is all on it’s own table now! And as I type this I realize how much this has changed since I took the picture…

Basically, I had developed a set of habits while I was at school, but hadn’t brought them home with me. I was snacking out of boredom. I was drinking Pepsi (made with real sugar, delicious!) instead of tea or water. I was creating mounds of food on my plate for dinner and eating all of it, despite being full. I was eating a small meal when I got home from work so I wasn’t starving while waiting for hubby to get up for the day (he works third shift). I was eating candy and fast food at work.

But, over the semester I’ve noticed these problems and worked to change them. And I’m noticing the effects. I’ve been making a point of having at least one travel mug of tea for work each day. The caffeine wakes me up and helps me stay focused. Having something healthy to drink keeps me away from the pop in the break room. I’ve been working on snacking less at work. It’s better for my waistline and my wallet. I’ve also been making an effort to drink more tea at home as well. Both from my vast stores of tea and pre-made cold tea from the cooler at the grocery store. Yes, it’s not as healthy as drinking tea I’ve brewed, but it’s still better than drinking Pepsi.

I’ve also been changing up my eating habits. If I stop by a drive-thru for food, I am making healthier choices. I order only the amount of food I actually need – usually a sandwich and a drink, no fries – and it’s not a double cheeseburger with bacon every time. But, more importantly, I’ve been changing my eating habits at home. I’m keeping lots of healthy snack choices/meal components around to keep me from overdoing it. Like the bag of LÄRABAR Bites. That way when I want just a little chocolate – like last evening – I can have one or two, instead of going for the Snickers. I’ve got fruit cups and cheese crackers and cheese sticks. That way I can have one or two things to tide me over until dinner without being full once dinner’s ready.

I also noticed that I don’t necessarily need to go gluten free, but I need to be careful about how much bread I’m eating. I feel better overall when I’m not eating a ton of basic breads. Breads like pumpernickel and rye and sourdough are friendly breads. Multi-grain bread too. I’m also putting more thought into dinner. I’m trying to make things from scratch more often. I’m also allowing myself to be okay with leftovers. I put as much food as I want on my plate. I can always go back for a little more if I want, which is better than forcing myself to clean my plate.

Since being more mindful of what I am eating, how much I am eating, how I feel about what I am eating, I feel so much better! My clothing is fitting much better. My skin is clearer – both from acne and eczema. And, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or denying myself anything. I’m letting my body tell me what to eat and it is really appreciating it. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Eventually it’ll get through to your brain and you’ll feel so good!

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It’s bigger on the inside!

Yesterday, I decided to start outlining for my final paper while at work. I had my 2-in-1 laptop, my sole laptop in the past year, to work on. It’s a great little machine. It’s 11″, small, lightweight, and also works as a nice tablet – especially now that it has a matte screen protector. But I’ve always had a bit of an issue when it comes to the keyboard.

I think it’s that I’m used to more traditional keyboards. The keyboard I have on my desktop is a mechanical keyboard. I had read that it’s better for your hands and wrists because you don’t have to push as hard on the keys for it to register. I guess I’ve been using it long enough that it’s affecting my typing. The keyboard on my 2-in-1 requires a little more pressure. But I don’t use the keyboard for much outside of logging in to websites, so it normally doesn’t pose a problem. Yesterday, it got annoying.

I was finding there were letters missing left and right, and in places where Word wasn’t catching them. I kept working because it was something to do while at work and I just couldn’t get into the book I need to have read for class this week. I decided to go ahead with a thought I’d been having for a bit. I still have my old laptop. It’s a 15″ and much heavier. But it has a full keyboard and keys that are more responsive to my typical typing.

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The 11″ 2-in-1 sitting on top of the 15″ laptop. Big difference!

I replaced it with the 2-in-one partially because of the weight, partially because of the problems with the hinge on the right side being broken. But mostly because I had gotten my desktop and didn’t need as much computer on-the-go anymore. The laptop had been my sole computer for a couple of years. But because of that size and power, I had been thinking of pulling it out and making it my portable writing desk. It also has a program or two still installed that make writing projects easier.

Last night, after getting home from work, I pulled out the laptop, plugged it in, and got working. Definitely the right move. I don’t worry about missing letters because I can feel the keys depressing and registering on the screen. But it’s been an adjustment going from an 11″ to a 15″. Everything on the screen is so much bigger (yay!!!). The keyboard is more responsive – as well as having the number keypad to the right (yay!!!).

I still love my 2-in-1. It’s going to be my everyday laptop. But, for larger writing projects away from the desktop, my 15″ laptop is going to be my go-to. Now I just need to do some research so I can get the parts to fix the hinge and be able to keep it working overall. New skills!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

More wisdom from The Dude.

Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life is but a dream.

Imagine that you’re rowing down a stream and you’re trying to figure out how to do it. Do I row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What does my shoulder do, what does my arm do? It’s like Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to figure out which leg to more first.
…He can’t get anywhere, just like the person in the rowboat. And while he’s hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat – gently. Don’t make a whole to-do it. Don’t get down on yourself because you’re not an expert rower; don’t start reading too many books in order to do it right. Just row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 21-22

I was worried that I was doing that and I had screwed things up again. Because when I get stressed or anxious, especially when I have to take an essay-based exam, my mind goes into overdrive and I go off in directions that don’t matter. I’m flailing trying to move my boat forward when all I’m doing is staying in place.

In the book, they continue talking about boats and streams and other bodies of water. We’re always rowing to reach a shore. But there is never going to be the shore.

But if you are going somewhere else, let me say this much: At least change the boat and the oars. Say I get to the other side, what do I do? Well, I got here thanks to this beautiful boat with the set of oars, so I’ll just hold on to them and carry them wherever I go. Isn’t that weird? Now I’ve got the burden of carrying around whatever got me here. Instead I get rid of it, and I’m free. Time passes and now I want to get to the next shore. I’ll probably need a new kind of boat and different oars, because maybe now the other shore is on the other side of the ocean and that requires a whole other mode of transportation.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 38

I was trying to get out of the one boat to the shore so I could get into the next boat. Instead I had one foot in two boats and was trying to keep both by the same shore.

Now I am fully in the next boat. It’s a different boat because I’ve got a different body of water to cross. It’s going to take longer. It’s going to require changes in life to get to that other shore. But, with my husband’s help and support, I know I can get there. And this time, I’m going to get to spend at least a little time on the shore before getting into the next boat. Even if it’s just a weekend, I’m going to enjoy that shore. But for now…

I’m looking forward…

When I got to campus today, I checked my mailbox, as usual. Nothing. Again. More than a month after taking the Comprehensive Exam and still no sign of whether I passed.

After class, I went to the office to check if there was any word. Our amazing secretary/therapist/caregiver was just getting done letting me know what she was told – that it would probably be a week at the earliest – when the phone rang. She turned to me, gave me a thumbs up, and mouthed “You passed!” I was partially in shock and partially not sure if I read it right, so I waited until she hung up. She said, “You passed!”

I have finally passed the Comprehensive Exam! I can finally graduate! I get to stay in the Ph. D. program! I get to stay at BGSU!

I bought that lanyard last spring when they were on clearance. I bought it with the determination that it would be true. I am so happy that I can actually say that now! And as much as I want to work on decorating my cap (I have had plans for months), I’m going to start working on my readings for class next week because I’m leading class and I’m really excited about it!

I don’t know if I can truly say I’ve been excited about class yet this semester. I know part of that has been this weight and fog surrounding me, freezing me in place that has now lifted. I’m looking forward to writing my paper for class. I’m looking forward to being in charge next week. I’m looking forward to my three classes in the spring.

I’m looking forward, and there’s something definite there!

"Listen to the Mustn'ts" by Shel Silverstein

Distractable

It’s never a good sign when I’m so distractable. Last night I sat down to do reading, I ended up organizing binders of my readings and notes from the past two years. Today, I’ve organized the files of readings from the past two years, as well as killing time online. I just got off of Facebook because I realized I didn’t know why I was still on there. And I’m writing this.

Even with my wonderful tea (gets distracted again)…I cannot focus on these readings. It happened last week. It’s happening again this week. I keep trying to get my readings done before Tuesday so I can sit down and have time to write my response paper and make sure it is good and makes sense. Instead I end up rushing to get them read and throw together a paper to get in just before the deadline. I’ve found some summaries of a few of the readings. I’m hoping they’ll give me enough information that I can get everything else read and get a good paper written.

I’m starting to worry about this. I don’t know if my attention issues are getting worse or I’m noticing them more now that I have more work and really want to get good grades. I have gone this far without seeking medical intervention, but I may have to if I want to get through the rest of my life. Spending hours at a time watching television when there is so much that needs to be done is not a good way to go through life. I know that you need to take a break from things and take care of yourself, but I feel like I’m taking a break from that to actually do things instead of the other way around. Grrrr.

Panic and Stress

My life is a mess right now. Or at least that’s how it feels. I’ve got a job that really doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m somehow making a paycheck stretch. I still don’t know if I’m graduating in December with my master’s degree, which means I don’t know if I’m going to still be in the Ph.D. program in the spring.

I’ve been watching Better Things on Hulu. It’s a great show. I just watched episode 5 where the oldest daughter is worrying about her future at age 16. Sam points out to her that even if you just have a job and get by, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to actually have your shit together to look like you have your shit together.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to hear that just finding a job that doesn’t drain the energy out of me on every level isn’t a bad thing. I needed to hear that I can still do what I want with my life without the degree to “back it up”. I can be an independent scholar and work at Barnes and Noble. I can write about Doctor Who and Bitch Planet and Hamilton without Ph.D. after my name. As much as I do want to teach, I don’t have to teach.

I feel so much better. I have been stressed and in a fog lately. I had a great weekend at the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (MPCA) Conference last weekend. But somehow, after getting back, this week has been a mess. But I feel so much better. Allowing myself to think that everything will be fine no matter what. I feel so much better.

Goals

This past Saturday I took the comprehensive exams for my MA, again. There are three areas in which we need to answer a question. Now I – and my fellow exam-takers – await the results. At least two graders will read each response and give a pass or fail. If they don’t agree, a third person weighs in. If I don’t pass all three this time, I don’t graduate in December. I don’t graduate in December, I don’t continue in the American Culture Studies Ph. D. program. I don’t continue, I’m going to have a small breakdown and see what needs to be done to start again in the fall.

I am not going to let this stop me. Ten years elapsed between graduating with my BA and starting graduate school. In those ten years I worked jobs I really didn’t like because I needed a job. I am going to become a college professor. I am going to teach Disability Studies and Popular Culture. Together. Separate. Either. Both. I’m happy.

Last month I had a meeting with the director of the program. He does this with all the incoming students every year. He mentioned concern about me getting two interdisciplinary degrees in a row – Popular Culture and American Culture Studies – having a negative effect on getting a teaching job. I’ve asked other professors their opinions and they disagreed. I’m not letting this discourage me. I’m going to work hard, present papers at conferences, get papers published, and make a positive name for myself in the world.

I will become a college professor. I will continue to educate minds – young and old – so they have the ability to make fully informed opinions. I will continue to empower people and continue to be an activist. I will not stop.

teachingisactivism

Tea Joy!

With all the problems going on in the world, I feel like adding some joy to it. Recently, I put in an order to resupply and add to my tea stock.

In there are two types of tea cookies, Irish Breakfast tea, a free filter for my water pitcher, a free sample pouch of Earl Grey Lavender – which I try to gather to delay needing to actually buy more, more Amber Sugar Crystals, and new tins!

I love Adagio’s storage tins. I love the colors. I love how they function. Until the shipment arrived, the blues – Earl Greys – were a tin higher than the others. When I decided to get the Irish Breakfast tea, I realized I needed another red tin – my Breakfast teas – but you can’t buy just one. You have to order a 3-pack. So I ordered my third set of the variety pack – red for the Irish Breakfast, green got my all-green Far Out blend, and yellow is empty because I don’t have a straight black that needs a tin. There really is a method to my madness. 😀

Then there is the wonderful Amber Sugar Crystals. I was down to this:

Now I have this, again:

There really is a simple joy in having so many delicious teas to choose from. Sometimes I just sit there and look at my teas. Also, by using my former desk/coffee table as my tea table, I have to sit calmly on the floor. It turns making tea into a conscious pause in my day. A wonderful, sometimes zen-like pause in my day. It’s been meditative at times. The other day I sat and watched tea and pieces rise and fall in the water as it brewed. I reached a meditative state for a few seconds. It was really cool.

I guess the point of this whole thing was to share some joy in these times of stress. We need to remember to take joy in the small things and take care of yourself. Between hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, and whatever is going on in your life, it’s easy to get burned out. Take time to watch a show or movie, read a book or magazine or comic or blog, listen to music, make some tea or coffee. Do something to take a break from everything. Self care is important! Do it!

In case you hadn’t noticed…

There has been an increase in peaceful protests before sporting events at all levels. It is all over the Internet. I had someone on my Facebook feed honesty asking “Why are they protesting the anthem?” After sharing a picture that I have just shared on Facebook, I tagged the person and eventually posted the following:

We as a country are still treating people who are not white – and many other things – as The Other, less than, not the same, not equals. The song is the Anthem of the Nation. It is the same as the gentlemen raising their fists on the Olympic Medal stand when The Star Spangled Banner was played. We are still living in a country where we are not all equal. They feel that taking a knee is a peaceful way to bring attention to this continuing problem. Some wear t-shirts. Others give a statement to the Vice President when he attends their show. It is a peaceful way to continue the discussion about equality that we forgot has not ended. A massive shift in our culture – our ideology – has to happen before we no longer need to kneel during the National Anthem or wear pink kitty ear hats and march in Washington or the many other ways in which people are protesting inequality.

I have ❤’d many posts on Twitter and retweeted others, including some of the following:

I found an article that discusses the spread, especially to the younger generations: Do kids really understand meaning of taking a knee for national anthem?

If you’re not sure why they’re doing this, go, do research. You don’t have to agree with them, but understanding where they’re coming from is good for everyone.

 

This semester…

If I can get through this semester, I can get through my Ph.D. I knew that living 2 hours away from campus and going up for class would be hard, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

Honestly the thing that is the hardest is having to leave immediately after class on Thursdays and drive straight to work. That is really starting to take a toll on me. Drive 2 hours, be in class for 3 hours, drive 2.5 hours, work 2.5 hours. Unfortunately there is no one who can work on Thursdays. I would be tempted to try and get them to find someone if this was going to be a thing past this semester. I have no plans to still be working there next semester. I am going to be taking 3 classes in the Spring, which is not going to allow for working 4 evenings a week and Saturdays 2.5 hours away from campus.

Work is keeping me not only from seeing my cohort outside of class and socializing and getting to know them better. It’s keeping me from all sorts of things on campus that would probably be useful and informative. There are talks about what you can do with your Ph. D. outside of academia. There are colloquium series. There is the easy access to the library, instead of having to wait and pick up 10 books at once and remembering to bring them back before they’re due when I’m on campus.

Thankfully, right now I’m listening to The West Wing Weekly while also doing another rewatch of the series. I’m watching season 3, but listening to season 1. Probably when I get to the end of season 4, I’ll go back and watch the episodes I’ve recently listened to. It’s helping me stay sane. Well, that and Hamilton.

But first, I have to graduate with my M.A. at the end of this semester. Thankfully, I am confident that I can pass the comprehensive exam this time and get it done so I can continue to move forward in my Ph. D.