Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Have You Seen My Motivation Anywhere?

I'm going to be a bit of a whiner today. I hope you don't mind too much. I don't expect anyone else to solve my problems, but writing about them in a public space gives me a sense of accountability to the whole wide world, which usually helps me turn things around. So thanks for bearing with me. And look, here's a pretty view from the Portland Japanese Gardens:

I've really been struggling these last couple of weeks with staying on task with schoolwork, keeping my energy up, and limiting my spending. I go through phases like this occasionally, where I end up thinking a lot about the things I like doing and things that make me feel the best about myself, but I don't actually do any of them. It's not how I see myself, and so it's very weird and depressing. I tend to blame it on school (it has been a rough quarter with an extra heavy workload of not-particularly-interesting classes), but that's probably just a cop-out. I have pretty high expectations for myself, and when I don't meet them I get down on myself. Does anyone else have this problem?

First, spending. I did so well all summer with not buying coffee or anything, but now I am buying it two or three times a week, which is mostly just a waste of money. This fall, I've been the one who says, almost on a weekly basis, "Why don't we just go out for dinner?" We're not exactly flush with money, and while Matt reminds me that our spending habits are so much healthier than the average American's, I still feel guilty. I am ok with occasionally eating out, but I prefer to do it as a treat, not because I'm feeling exhausted or stir-crazy. Those are situations in which actually putting in some effort to cook a nice meal will make me feel better, but I go for the easy out. And most of the time we have leftovers in the fridge, so I can't even say "there's nothing to eat."

I haven't been doing my best at work, wasting a lot of time and getting behind on my duties. I am putting off schoolwork until the very last minute, and then freaking out about it. I am getting very little exercise and eating a lot of candy (thanks, Halloween), which is rather hypocritical for a public health student whose focus is on promoting physical activity and good nutrition. I'm just finding it really hard to turn these habits around right now. Maybe it's because I was so busy all summer that I didn't properly catch up with myself before school started, and that has been dragging me down all term. Maybe it's the change to fall weather and short, dark days, getting home after dark and no gardening to do. Maybe it's this silly feeling that I'm getting old and it will be awhile yet before kids or a farm come into my life (note to self: you're 28. You have all the time in the world. 30 is the new 20). Maybe it's the fact that 2012 has just been a generally tough year, full of living paycheck to paycheck, working through difficult relationship stuff, loved ones in and out of the hospital, and otherwise generally stressful. Lots of bright spots (so many friends got married!), but exhausting.

I find that I can tell myself over and over, "I will fix this. Tonight I'll do some knitting/cleaning/cooking/reading instead of crawling into bed and wasting an hour on YouTube." And then I get home and crawl into bed and waste an hour on YouTube. I nag Matt repeatedly to do certain chores, without ever actually giving him time to do them. That's not who I want to be, but it's who I am being right now. Ugh.

I know I can't expect myself to snap out of it all at once. But here's what I'm going to try and focus on for now:
  • Getting more exercise. We've been managing a short hike each weekend, which is helping, but during the week I'm sitting so much of the time, and it makes me feel gross and lethargic. This week I've been walking to work, which gives me 15-20 minutes of exercise rather than the 5 minutes I get when I ride my bike. I'm going to try and keep that up, to walk to work every day. I'm trying to stand more, but it's not always an option. I'm going to try and bike from to school once a week, rather than taking the bus, but it's a pretty long ride so I'm going to try to not be hard on myself if I don't do it. 
  • Not buying coffee or going out for food. I need to start bringing a thermos of tea with me to school. There's no reason not to. I can fill it in the morning or at work, and then hopefully I won't be so tempted to pay $3 or $4 for coffee or chai at school when I feel the need for comfort, otherwise known as a hot drink. And I'll ask Matt to hold me to the not-eating-out plan, and remind me that by actually cooking something we will both feel so much better and will be saving a lot of money too.
  • Buckling down on schoolwork. I have been putting off getting started on a couple of final projects that have me a little bit intimidated. I know from experience that just getting started makes the biggest difference, so if in the next couple of days I can read a few articles and write a few paragraphs, that will get me well on my way.

There are only three more weeks of this term of school, and in spite of how hard this quarter has been, I am really looking forward to the next one. I start my Field Experience in January, finally working in the health promotion field and satisfying one of the final requirements for graduation from my program. I'll also be taking elective classes, so they'll be fun ones that I'm really interested in.

We'll be getting out of town soon, too, which I think will help me work out some of my stir-crazies. We're going up to Medical Lake, Washington (near Spokane) for Thanksgiving, to spend it at my brother and sister-in-law's newly purchased turn-of-the-century farmhouse. I haven't seen it yet, apart from pictures, and I am really excited.

I do feel better having written all of this down, and I appreciate your reading it, if you made it through :) 
We'll be back to regularly scheduled food/chicken/rabbit-related programming next time.


Brenna said...

Hi Liz,

I completely understand where you are coming from. This semester in school has been particularly hard for me as well and I have completely fallen off of the "simple living" wagon. I have been guilty of buying myself tea and breakfast on campus WAY too much, considering how little money we have right now. However, don't beat yourself up too much. Being a full time student and working is a ridiculous amount of work (I am right there with you), and sometimes we cannot be perfect. I keep telling myself that if buying some things I would have previously made will help with my time management, so be it. I also think that you are being much too hard on yourself. School is hard, and we all go through funks of misery and discontent. Just keep telling yourself that one day you will look back at this time and be thankful you suffered for a while! The most important thing is that you give yourself a bit of a break now and then and not be too hard on yourself! Sorry for the long comment, I just feel like you are writing about my life as well as yours! You are not alone!

Liz said...

Aw, thanks, Brenna. I know, logically, that I am being too hard on myself, and that I am not alone, but then emotions take over and I feel guilty and funky and like I could be doing so much better. So glad to hear from you- I miss reading posts on your blog! But believe me, I know how hard it is to fit that in on top of school and work!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing, Liz. It takes courage. I think (maybe just hope?) that can be a battle for all of us trying to live simply. I find myself wanting to get easy dinner now and then too, but when I think logically I realize how much better home cooked food is.
We're going to newport for thanksgiving.. maybe we could see you two and Tighe and Lisia? We'd love to see their new place too. Maybe we can work something out.

FlowerLady said...

I also get where you are coming from, even though I'm not in your same circumstances. Life, can and does get us down at times. That's when we need a break of sorts to get things back in perspective. Even just a walk around our property can change how I feel, even though there may be tons of things for me to do inside and out. The birds singing, butterflies flitting, sunlight hitting the trees, flowers, colors and scents, fill my heart and soul with thanksgiving and give me a lift to keep on.

Have a wonderful time at your brother and sis-in-law's place. I hope you take some photos to share with us.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady