Tag Archives: habits

Hey you…get off of my cloud.

The boxes are unpacked, a place has been found for everything, and everything is indeed in its place. The stress of the move has faded like the cardboard paper cuts that hacked away at my hands those first few days in the new apartment. The space feels less like a “new place” and more like home.
Surveying the apartment, it is clear that it will never reach the sparsity that a true minimalist requires, but I think it’s reached a nice balance of stuff to space. Although I still have a few pictures strewn about, a dining cabinet filled with tabletop items, and full size furniture in every room of the house, there is still a good flow. The space feels open and airy, not claustrophobic. As I said in my last post (at least I think I said this in my last post, humor me) my family and I have been very happy since we moved here. There is a completely different energy compared to our last apartment and with that energy, a sense of possibility and an overall feeling of peace.
Ok, I don’t know for sure whether or not it is the new space or lack of superfluous belongings that have brought the three of us to such a zen-like state, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I know that I could probably go even further and purge more of our stuff, but in the short term I am content with the stasis reached on all things material. Though I must admit, I never see myself going 100% in on the minimalist home idea. One tiny chair in the corner of a huge, empty room is a little too “french movie” for my tastes. I like my home to look streamlined, yes, but still feel cozy. White washed walls with a tiny Lucite dining set does not say “cozy” to me.
So, does this mean I fail at minimalism? Ultimately, yes, but fuck that. I may not be the textbook definition of the movement, but when have I ever been the textbook definition of ANYTHING (aside from “fabulous,” natch.) No, like everything else, I am going to half-ass write my own definition. I am going to do minimalism…my way. There are PLENTY of other areas where I can trim the excess in my life.
For example, did you know that right now you could be suffering from “digital clutter?” Of course you didn’t! Who the fuck would?

Has this happened to you?

That is the lamest sounding bullshit EVER.

It’s true though. There are literally tens of blogs written about how people have too much stuff gunking up their desktops, their inboxes, their “clouds,” along with the proper ways to tidy up their digital life, no trip to the troposphere necessary.
I’ve decided this will be my next project. So far, I’m going to be honest, it fucking blows. Not because I have too many errant files or an inbox loaded with garbage, but because I have come to realize that I have dribs and drabs of my digital life all over the goddamn interwebs. Seriously, I am a web-based Hansel and Gretel; I have left bread crumbs all over this virtual forest.
I am not even talking about the now dormant Myspace pages or Livejournals that are out there haunting the internet. Those would easily disappear with a simple click of “delete account” (if I could only remember their passwords!)
I am referring to the various web-based platforms I CURRENTLY use. The website that allows me to bookmark…other websites. The cloud storage website where I store my clouds. The Facebook that apparently houses two of me (don’t even ask me how that happened!) The Twitter page that I still don’t quite understand. The 30,000 different sites I use for photo storage. Pinterest (why!?!). Evernote. My 4 gmail accounts, and (yikes!) my two AOL accounts.
Well, OK I never actually GO to my AOL accounts. One address is older than my daughter and the other was created when J and I were planning our wedding. They’re still out there though…mocking me with their “digital clutter” creating ways.
Or something.
I took a deep breath and decided to start with Evernote, mostly because before this project I forgot I even HAD an Evernote account, so I figured there was no way for it to possibly backed up with virtual garbage.
Much to my joy, I was right. In fact, the account was practically empty save for a few random “to do” lists from 2010 and a handful of blog ideas that never manifested. This would be easy! I deleted the to do lists immediately and quickly perused the blog ideas for any nugget of salvagability. I was about to declare my Evernote house “CLEAN” when I noticed a folder that I missed in my initial once-over.
The folder was titled “READ ME” and it housed one whole document. There was not one part of my brain that could even begin to recall what this folder could be.
Fearing the rabbit hole I may no doubt fall into were I to open the folder, I thought about deleting its contents sight unseen. My curiosity got the better of me though so I quickly hovered my mouse over the folder and clicked on the icon before I could change my mind.
The title of the lone document was “Melissa Makes a List to Prove What She Already Knows.” It was created July 14, 2010. It sounded fairly innocuous, so I opened it. The document fleshed out in one page reasons for staying or leaving my soul-crushing corporate job.

Should I stay or should I go now?

There were 2 reasons for me to stay.

Despite the recession, despite living in a (gorgeous) apartment that cost more a year than the average person makes, despite my total lack of plan or safety net, the “Reasons to Go” column prevailed. I gave my notice two days after that document’s creation.
Looking at the list almost two years later, I feel as though a completely different person wrote it. I can’t believe I allowed myself to be that miserable for a (shitty) paycheck! I can’t believe I let myself be defined by my house and my “things” instead of my character, my actions, and my relationships. I can’t believe I didn’t set my cube on fire and lead the publishing proletariat to freedom (or at the very least smack my boss upside the head with an Intro Spanish textbook.)
So much about my life has changed since I walked away from the “security” of the corporate world. I have made the most amazing connections. I have taken to the streets and been arrested fighting for social justice. I have been a part of HISTORY, for chrissakes! Only one year ago my daughter and I sat in the NY State Senate gallery and watched as the Marriage Equality Bill was passed. You don’t get to experience anything quite like that sitting in a cube creating “one pagers” for fucking textbooks.
The connections I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, the relationships that have been renewed and deepened, the life I have built in less than two years time feels more mine now than any other time in my life.
I thought about saving the list. Yeah, it’s intended use had passed and could now easily be classified as “digital clutter,” but so what. It was also a reminder of how far I’ve come and keep going on the crazy road that is my life. I may be more sure of myself now than I have ever been, but even the most confident person sometimes needs to bring to mind a time when they weren’t so sure.
I kept the list…in the trash. I figured at the very least deleting the original folder it was housed in gave the illusion of less clutter. Minimalism my way. It may not be the spartan internet presence a true minimalist requires, but who cares, it works for me, and that’s really all that matters.
So far I haven’t really felt the sense of ease one is supposed to feel as they wipe their web life clean…maybe after I delete the 24,485 emails on AOL…
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Accountability in my pants

Hey, remember that time I was going to blog about making monthly changes in my life as a way to chronicle the lead up to the end of the world?

Shut up.

So things haven’t gone the way I initially had hoped, that is clear, but as I look back over the last 4 (!?!) months, they really haven’t been a total wash. To be honest, the only part that hasn’t worked out in this blogging experiment is, well, the blogging.

I have managed to maintain regular gym attendance; I have been eating healthier, and above all, I am a lot happier than I was when I set out on this quest. True, I’ve made some mistakes. Ok, I’ve made A LOT of mistakes, and I’m nowhere near as settled with the first three life switches as I had anticipated, but I am able to see where I exactly went careening into a ditch of failure, and much like Aaliyah, I have the desire to dust myself off and try again (wait, she’s….oh).

Here’s the thing, in order for this blog to even come close to accomplishing my drunken schemes, I obviously need to post more than once a month. I am going to need to actually chronicle the changes I have been making, and not just post a quarterly, “could we start again, please” check in.

Sigh. In order to do this, I am going to have to do something I didn’t want; something that is against my very nature.

I am going to have to keep…a schedule.

(Blood curdling scream)

As horrifying as it sounds to my, “all clocks should be taken out back and shot” sensibilities, the only way I am going to save this project from becoming just another pathetic, abandoned web-relic, is by creating a routine. I am going to have to stick to that routine, and as an added flame under my ass, I am going to have to disclose said routine. That way, all four of you bitches know what to expect, and you can call my lame ass out when you don’t get it.

So here it goes. I had originally set out to accomplish 12 life switches; one for each month left on earth before the dinosaurs come back and kill everyone except for Kirk Cameron and the founding family of the Westboro Baptist Church. In my mind (and on paper, even) I had all 12 of these worked out well before I hit “publish” on my first post. Obviously, we are 4 months in, so some modifications had to be made.

Moving forward, here is my plan. Much like the opinions of a certain presumptive presidential hopeful,

this plan is “etched” permanently in the paramagnetic particles of a baby boomer’s childhood toy.

Remaining Life Switches

April 19th until May 9th: Study and implement a more minimalist practice and lifestyle.

May 10th until May 31st:  21 Day detox. Why 21 days? Fuck you, that’s why.

Truth be told, I’ve done some pre-research (presearch?) on this, and after combing through several detox plans, the one I opted for seemed like it would least likely lead me to kill my entire family and everyone within a 30 mile radius. Take a moment to check it out. Who knows, you may want to take the journey with me!

I’ll also be taking the time to study vegan cooking and practice recipes to add to my repertoire.

June: Using what I learned in May about vegan cooking, put together an entire meal plan for the month. Additionally, build off of April’s minimalism by spending no money. Seek out free entertainment, drink at home with friends, catch up on reading and time with family.

July: Working off of June, continue to build and maintain my relationships with my chosen family. Celebrate my 6th year of marriage by having lots of sex (I’m sure y’all are going to LOVE reading about that!)

 August: Take the last month of summer to reconnect with my childhood through my daughter, commune with nature. Limit time indoors and online. Slow down.

 September: While my husband and daughter head back to school, my education will come from reading at least one book a week.

 October: As if turning 33 wasn’t scary enough, I am going to use this month to constantly push my limits, step out of my comfort zone, and maybe even perform again.

 November: To prepare for the holidays, another detox is in order. This one however will involve working on my mental toxins as well as my physical body.

 December: Most people turn to religion at the end of their life, so with 21 days remaining until the zombie apocalypse, I am going to use this time to explore and experience various religions.

Ta-da. 8 ½ months of self-discovery and change all laid out for you to scrutinize.

Now, for the posting schedule, that is going to change SLIGHTLY each month. What won’t change is the amount of posts or which days. The topics however, will obviously change depending on the month’s switch. Regardless of the topic, you can expect a post from me on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

For example, for the remaining 3 hours in April, I will adhere to the following schedule*:

 Monday: A recap of the weekend and where my adventures in minimalism took me.

Wednesday: What I am learning; thoughts and feelings about minimalist literature, blogs, etc.

Thursday: Mid-week minimalism; some minimalist action I took that day.

Friday: Free for all; check in on other switches I have turned on, random posts about life, or photos of drag queens.

There you have it, a solid framework sure to catapult this blog into an almost mediocre success. All of the pieces are laid out for me, now I just have to actually follow through.

Piece of cake.

No really, shut up.

*Obviously this will begin full-force next week, since it’s already, you know…Thursday.


The February of it All.

STOP MOCKING ME, calendar.

I hate February. I hate that it’s (usually) cold. I hate that it’s dark. I hate that no one can pronounce it correctly and that I feel like a freak when I do (it’s FebRUary, not FebUary, OK, bitches?)

Mostly, I hate the sense of utter despair that the month usually signifies. (I also hate that I dropped the “H” word like eleventy-billion times in this first paragraph. As a proponent of social justice and mom who constantly says, “That’s a strong word,” I need to check myself.)

Seriously though, FebRUary is cruel bitch. She tests your limits, and most of us don’t even have a number 2 pencil.

At this point in the year, we should be well on our way to being the change we saw at the bottom of our flute of Taittinger on 12/31. Our bad habits are bad memories, and our fitter, stronger, happier, more productive (robotic-sounding) selves are…fitter, stronger, happ…you get the point.

Damn you, italics and your emPHAsis of doom.

Yes, if we’ve all stuck to our resolutions up to this point, we should be over the 30-day hump and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Actions that seemed almost impossible only a month ago should be becoming second nature. Life is indeed going our way, and the best part about it…it’s ONLY FebRUary.

Wait. Only FebRUary!?! You mean I have to keep this ish up for the next 10 months!?!

Fuck me running…I’m tired of running!

Burnout.

Burning out is very possible in the month of FebRUary. See, everything was new in January. It was a challenge to be met, an adventure to behold. It was exciting and you were determined to NOT be one of those pathetic people who gave up on their resolution 2 weeks into the New Year.

When FebRUary first rolled around, you felt accomplished, maybe a little self-satisfied. YOU went to the gym almost every morning and saw people slowly start to drop off. YOU haven’t had one cigarette, even after you lost your job/significant other/home/best friend/cat. YOU haven’t had any sugar. YOU have been getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. YOU have refrained from killing since the end of last year.

Get over yourself.

YOU are golden. You so got this.

Until you realize that you don’t.

January was the honeymoon…FebRUary is the marriage. The long, day-to-day, monotonous, Nathan Lane crooning “Is That All There Is” in his most nasally, Jewiest of voices, “RESTOFYOURLIFE” kind of marriage.

It’s the recognition of that awesome thing you’ve been doing, well it’s still kind of cool, but you have to keep doing it…all the time.

In FebRUary, shit gets real. Most people won’t survive. They won’t completely give up, though. No, it will be a slow death throughout the short month.

Excuses will be made.

Poor decisions will become more regular.

Soon old habits will rear their ugly head, and the progress of January will fade faster than Nathan Lane’s appeal as a performer (it’s all I got right now).

Yup...that's all there is.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Like any marriage, the trick is to keep it fresh.

Bring a friend into the picture (wait, what?) You know…to workout with.

Change up your routine. Try something new.

Above all, recognize that perfect is an absolute that only airbrushing and anorexia can attain. Mistakes will happen, but they don’t have to be the death of your success.

Like most marital missteps, they can leave you feeling stronger, more connected, and back on the road to blissville.  (Pause to wipe the vomit from my keyboard.)

So as this short month rages on, don’t let the daunting prospect of having to keep your new life switches turned on indefinitely let you down. Continue to take things one day at a time (ba, ba, da, da) and it will be March before you know it, Ann Romano.

You have NO IDEA who this is, do you?

Long. Cold. March.

Meanwhile, how am I doing with my life switches? Ha. That’ll be the topic for my next post, “WHY THE FUCK DID I THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO CHRONICLE A YEARS WORTH OF RESOLUTIONS ON THE WORLD WIDE FUCKING WEB, and other assorted tales.”

Stay tuned. If anything, it’s guaranteed to make you feel good about your own pathetic existence!

You’re welcome.

 

 

 


Eating the Elephant…or Why We Suck at Resolutions

There is something electric about the beginning of the New Year. The air is ripe with possibility. Our minds are open to change.

Resolutions are declared, and they WILL BE ACHIEVED.

The first few weeks of the year are full speed ahead in pursuit of our goals. Gyms are alive with pudgy men and women in brand new workout gear. Cigarette sales are down. The cobwebs in one’s closet, attic, mind are wiped away.

Yes, January 1st through 15th is some of the most productive time in our lives.

Something happens on the 16th though. The excuses start. You begin to miss a day or five at the gym. You bum a smoke or 3 from a coworker. You head down a shame spiral and as a result go on a shopping spree in a vain attempt to make it all go away.

Sound familiar? No.

Well, fuck me, I guess I’m the only asshole.

If you’re willing to take a moment and own the fact that you’re a loser too, you’ll be comforted to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can actually make the changes you dream of when you’re in a Veuve Clicquot haze on 12/31. What’s more, you can make them last.

They say that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. While I am hoping that it was no one’s resolution to eat a 15000lb mammal, the idea still applies.

It takes roughly 30 days for a habit to stick or a change to be made. Consider it the “trial period” to a better life. If one maintains focus and consistency, whatever they’re trying to achieve, be it implement a regular fitness routine or quit smoking, should be accomplished in time to write your next rent check (or mortgage payment, you poor bastard.)

This got me thinking, which I try so hard not to do during the holidays. As of New Year’s Eve, I was still having a hard time nailing down a resolution of my own (insert off-color joke about it being easier if it had been Easter, here.) I had close to 12 different ideas floating around in my head. Each presenting their own stellar case for why they should be my last resolution before the world ends.

Then it hit me like the cheap prosecco I pounded after watching Gaga and Bloomberg drop their balls (disturbing.)

12 resolutions. 12 months. 12 monkeys. Brad Pitt. World War Z. End of the world.

FUCK! I have 12 months to make 12 changes before Jesus comes back to Earth to fight the Mayans.

Or something.

But seriously, if it takes 30 days for an old habit to die or a new one to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of your desire (hot), why not go for the golden calf and bang out one a month?

I don’t have an answer to that question.

No, instead I am going to be the asshole that actually attempts this tomfoolery. Not only that, but I am going to chronicle all of this nonsense; the good, the bad, and the barely legal, right here in this blog. As I said, I have in my mind what I want to do for each month, and should probably disclose that now for the sake of accountability.

I won’t though.

For one, life changes in an instant, and I don’t want to be held accountable to doing something that seems like a good idea now, but will make no sense when I reach its scheduled month. Second, I am not looking for fair weather readers who are only going to be interested in my tales of utter embarrassment and near death experiences three months from now when my resolution is to challenge my comfort zone (I may have said too much.)

I will tell you that the first resolution up is to get back into my regular gym routine that had been drug out into the street and shot at point blank range when I quit my job a year and a half ago. I will also tell you that it is now January 8th, and I have yet to actually implement said initial resolution.

Yeah, if you’re looking for some sort of Tony Robbins fucking “shoulding all over yourself” kind of life coaching, you might as well piss off. It ain’t that kind of rodeo.

If, however, you’re looking for a real person, who curses (a lot), who fucks up (see)…(a lot), who is willing to try anything once, except when she’s not, who sees the error of her ways, except when you’re wrong (and you’re usually wrong), and who’s just trying to get through her life without being so fucking cliché (www.twitter.com/sof_ckingcliche) then stick around and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and feel free to join me if the changes I am making are something you would like to apply to your own life. After all, the world is going to end on December 21st. What do you have to lose?