Wildly Imperfect

Writing. Learning. Living.

Writing Update: October 2018

How my writing practice started:

When I began this writing and blogging endeavor I had more free time. My work and personal life were less full, making it an ideal time to start. I was able to maintain my normal routine and write when I had free time. This was typically in the morning after I had walked my dog and relaxed with a cup of coffee. 

This worked well enough for a while, but I started running into trouble with both discipline and time. I thought pairing my writing with drinking coffee would be a great idea. I love drinking coffee and make time for it every day and doing these two things together would be efficient. This worked ok at first. Eventually, I found myself making excuses to not write during coffee time, “its the weekend!”, “I have extra time today and will write later”. I’ve paired my coffee drinking habit with blog reading for years, so I missed that part of it and was always trying to squeeze it in. 

As summer arrived and life became busier I let go of writing while drinking coffee and returned to reading blogs. My writing fell off and blog posts didn’t get written. 

Time for Change:

I knew I wanted to continue this writing endeavor and was going to have to find something that worked and supported consistency. After a vacation in August, I began a new habit of getting up at 5:30 am and writing 500 words or for 30 minutes every morning. I wasn’t previously getting up this early so I had no conflicts and it was only 30 minutes before my normal wake up, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

How This is Going/Progress-Consistency:

So far, this has been working. It’s not always easy getting up at 5:30 am and my sleep schedule took a few weeks to adjust. I was previously staying up until 10 pm so I slowly started moving my bedtime to earlier in the evening (assisted by shortening hours of daylight). It’s getting cooler now so its also harder to get out of bed in the morning. Some days I run a little late, but I’ve remained consistent with getting up and writing in the morning. Weekends have been the exception. Sometimes I’m out of town hiking and camping, others I’ve simply needed to catch up on sleep. My goal when I started this was to be consistent on weekdays and so far I have been successful. I am hopeful this will become a solid habit that I am able to maintain going forward!

Going Forward:

Fingers crossed, I have a consistent habit and can work on fine-tuning my writing process. I’ll be experimenting with some different methods next month and will see how that works.

Any writers out there with additional suggestions? How do you make room for new habits and priorities? 

How Do You Spend Your Days?

Each year I pick a quote or mantra to focus on throughout the year as a positive reminder of how I want to live my life or a mindset I’d like to cultivate. I write the quote out on a sticker and put it on the cover of my planner which I look at several times a day.

For 2018 I chose: 

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

~ Annie Dillard

This is a reminder that today matters. We all have obligations and commitments, some we enjoy and others feel like a burden. This year I have been cultivating a mindset of being present and living life now. Not waiting for weekends, vacations, life-changing events, or retirement. The activities of our daily lives create a whole life. Regardless of where I am or how I’m feeling I try to include components that matter to me. I want to look back and feel good about living each day.

Some ways I embrace each day and spend my life:

  • Coffee. Leisurely drinking one cup of coffee every morning has been a staple of my life for years. (I LOVE coffee).
  • My dog and I walk. Sun. Rain. Snow. Wind. Bitter cold and scorching temperatures, we walk daily.
  • Meditation. I began consistently meditating 4 years ago, starting with just 5 minutes a day, and what a difference it has made. 
  • Regular exercise and time outdoors. From 30 minutes to multiple days. It’s not always an epic adventure, but I get outdoors and do something as often as I can.
  • My husband and I cook and eat dinner together. Our meals aren’t elaborate, but we enjoy the time together and the process of unwinding after work while creating and enjoying a meal.
  • Reading. Most consistently in the morning while drinking coffee and in the evening before going to bed.
  • Writing. For this blog, personal and gratitude journaling. Consistently writing is a newer addition to my life, and provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
  • My professional work. I am fortunate in that my work is deeply fulfilling, allowing me to connect with others and provide a service that makes their life better. 

The mundane tasks of life are an inevitable part of our day to day. I don’t always enjoy sweeping the floors or washing the dishes, but I would argue that completing these tasks brings order and peace of mind to my day.

What Matters Most to You?

Spending your days in a meaningful way comes down to including the activities and living the priorities that mean the most to you. You don’t necessarily have to recreate your life – take note of what is already a part of your life that you could shift toward consciously enjoying daily. The things you would continue to do no matter how your life circumstances might change.

This could include:

  • hobbies
  • self-care
  • time with friends, family, or pets
  • creative or purposeful work
  • food, exercise, health
  • religious or spiritual practices

Maybe there are things you aren’t including in your life, but that you would like to. Take some time to think about what might make you enjoy and appreciate each day for what it is. Some other simple ideas include:

  • a gratitude journal
  • savoring a special beverage
  • discussing the events of your day with a family member or friend
  • listening to music or an inspiring podcast
  • 10 minutes of stretching, breathing, or walking

Consciously take note of or create that which matters most, so when you look back you know you spent your days living a life well lived vs waiting for a different life to arrive.

How do you spend your days? What matters most or brings you joy in your every day?

10 Months of No Clothes Shopping

I’m currently 10 months in on not buying any clothes. At the beginning of the year, I casually decided to see how long I could go and had no idea that it would last this long. 

I hate shopping, why am I spending so much time doing it?

A few years ago I didn’t buy clothes for 3 months.  What I learned then and now, is how much time I spent shopping for clothes. I don’t enjoy shopping, but was spending too much time doing it. I could never find the right clothes. The ones that functioned the way I wanted them to and fit my body in a flattering way. My solution was to continually keep trying to find them. 

This led to a lot of time shopping for perfect clothing. I would look online for the best deals, read all the reviews, try to figure out my size, etc.  I became frustrated and would try shopping in stores. This was worse, I became overwhelmed with all the options, unable to narrow in on what I was looking for as I was distracted by all the other items. When I made it to the dressing room I found it hard to decide in the moment if the item was worth the cost and if I liked the fit.

I decide to not buy any clothes

In December 2017 I bought a few pieces of clothing and made the determination that I could get by on what I already owned for a while. I decided to see how long I could go without buying new clothes.

I have a few items I can technically still get use from but are worn out and ready to be replaced. I included these on a short list of items that were ok to buy if needed. But as the months have slipped by and I haven’t bought anything I wonder just how long I can go without replacing them? How long can I go with no new clothes? Can I make it a whole year?

I love not having the stress of shopping. Anytime I considered shopping for clothing I thought about the stress, and consumption of time and energy and decided against it. I did try to find new winter boots on sale this spring. I kept my search narrow to avoid overwhelm and decision fatigue. Unfortunately, I started my search too late and what I wanted was sold out. I will most likely try to pick up boots at the beginning of this winter.

10 months later and I’m still not buying clothes!

So I keep going, and it feels good to not spend my time shopping, stressing, and worrying about making the best purchase. Its become easier to not do it at all. My competitive goal-oriented side wants to achieve the challenge of not buying clothes for an entire year, and if I don’t truly need anything – why buy it?

The exception will be footwear. I need new winter boots as mentioned above, and new running and hiking shoes that I will be picking up on sale soon.

This won’t last indefinitely as I didn’t start with a particularly large wardrobe. If I make it to the end of the year, I don’t plan on going crazy with the opportunity to buy new things, but it will be time to replace a few items.

What will happen next?

Taking up this challenge has allowed me to discover how little I truly need. Prior to this I always felt my wardrobe was deficient which resulted in my continually looking. The biggest takeaway may be that by simply stopping, I could see that I had all I truly needed. 

I’ve been thinking ahead to what my clothes shopping strategy will be going forward. Instead of shopping all the time, I can just replace what I have when it wears out, or plan on shopping a couple times a year at strategic times (end of season sales). I might not always find what I need on sale or miss the perfect item by not looking constantly, but since shopping causes me stress and anxiety – it makes sense to limit my shopping experience. Even paying full price for some items, could be cost-effective by only buying what I need when I need it. Not to mention saving me time and energy.

With the exception of needed footwear, my plan is to carry this through to the end of the year ~ just 2 1/2 months to go!

Have you ever done a shopping ban? Clothes or otherwise? What did you learn and did it change your shopping habits?

*my original 3-month shopping ban was inspired by Cait Flanders who did a full shopping ban for two years – and wrote a book about it!

3 Month Blog Writing Update

3 months isn’t very long, but when I add in the months of work I put in prior to publishing, it feels like a long time. I haven’t published anything new in over a month, yet the blog remains on my mind even as I haven’t tended to it.

Prior to publishing, I had 6-8 pre-written blog posts. My intention was to continue to stay that far ahead. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I slipped far behind and currently write complete articles as I go. I do have partially written posts that hold ideas I plan to explore at some point.

How did I slip so far behind? The short answer is “summer”. This is a busy time of year in both my work and personal life. I am away from home a lot and have short weeks in which to find the time to write. In early spring and the months before I published I had more time and had maintained a (mostly) daily writing practice. As life got busy, that went out the window. 

Preparation for my big backcountry trip also derailed my writing intentions. Because I wanted to be prepared and ready for this endeavor, I traded writing time for planning and prepping for the trip. With everything else going on in life, something needed to be compromised and that became writing.

I’ve returned from my trip feeling rejuvenated and inspired. As I shift into a fall mindset I’m excited to put more time and energy into writing. I’m working out a new morning routine that I hope allows me to stay consistent. With that said, I’m also tackling some new projects, so how this balances out remains to be seen.

In the months I’ve been writing I have learned a few things:

  • I enjoy writing. It’s still scary and intimidating to sit down and focus, but when I do I enjoy the practice of starting with something rough and crafting it into something better. 
  • I have to stay on top of writing and be consistent or I will fall far behind. I had a writing routine in the spring, but that was not sustainable through the summer, so I am working to create a new routine I can sustain.
  • I continue to learn the nuances of publishing posts and utilizing WordPress. I still have a lot of work here, but as I’ve mentioned before my current focus is writing and that remains true.
  • My writing is gradually getting better and the process has gotten easier (not easy, just ever so slightly easier). I’m still not sure of my niche or audience but I hope as I return to consistency, I am able to dial into what resonates most. 
  • I’ve experimented with different ways of structuring finished pieces as well as how I start them. 
  • Its okay to just get some words down and start with a “shitty first draft” and then tweak and craft from there. Its a struggle to start with something awful. I’ve found that if I stick with it, having something written down creates momentum that eventually carries me through.
  • I can’t write anytime or anywhere. I’m able to journal as I travel or am away from home, and I often jot down some ideas, but to write a post I need full focus and to be sitting in front of my computer. This is why I believe I need a consistent writing practice. 
  • I have to stop editing and hit publish. As someone who hangs onto the notion of perfection, at some point, good enough has to be good enough. I could tweak an article forever, but eventually, it just has to be done.

What have you learned from your writing process or other new to you endeavor? Have you ever stalled and needed to find new methods or processes to restart?

Managing Pre-Trip Anxiety

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading out on a 7- 8 day backpack trip. I’m super excited for this trip as I haven’t done a long backpack in a while, however, I’ve found myself working through some pre-trip anxiety.

Things I’m anxious about:

  • My longest backpack trip in recent years was 6 days – so adding the weight of 2 more days of food seems substantial.
  • The majority of this trip is off the trail, in challenging terrain, in a mountain range I have only visited a few times. I have concerns about getting lost or misdirected, getting cliffed out, having to turn around and try a different route, etc.
  • Covering the mileage needed each day to complete the trip. We are starting at one point and hiking through to another with our vehicle shuttled for us to the end.
  • Having all the right gear I’ll need, without having a heavy pack that slows me down.
  • Weather conditions and snowpack are always a concern, as is injury and wildlife (grizzly bears occasionally frequent this area).
  • There are only 2 of us. The dates we were able to schedule this trip didn’t work out for our friends. This takes the pressure off of having to keep up with others, however, it reduces the amount of experience and input on route finding and decision making. If one person gets hurt, they are left alone as the other one hikes out for help. 

When I am anxious I become overwhelmed and often procrastinate on planning which does not make anything easier. In fact, it makes everything harder and works against me by only increasing my anxiety. For a long time, I didn’t realize that I was doing this and would be in a panic, scrambling to be prepared at the last minute. Fortunately, I am now conscious of this and am working on planning well ahead of time. It is still a struggle and I’ll admit to not being as far along in my planning for this trip as I would like. Our trip is a few weeks out, so I still have time to be well prepared if I stay focused.

Using pre-trip anxiety to my advantage:

My awareness of pre-trip anxiety is an opportunity to be better prepared and to have contingencies in place if needed. Here are some of my strategies to increase my own confidence and alleviate anxiety (most of which is just good planning for any big adventure):

  • A fallback option that gives me peace of mind is that for most of the way, we can bail out of the off-trail route and get on the trail instead. Part of the challenge and adventure comes with not just hiking a trail but navigating a cross-country route – yet there is comfort in knowing we have the trail option if needed.
  • We should be able to do the trip in 7 days but are allowing for 8 days in case extra time is needed. 
  • We are doing a practice trip. Unfortunately, I have not already been backpacking this year. In the next week, we will get out overnight with the intention of fine-tuning our packing, plus reacquainting ourselves with wearing a full pack.
  • Relying on lists. I have a general list of items to carry backpacking, plus itemized lists from previous trips. This, along with the upcoming overnight trip will help me feel confident I have everything I need.
  • We are doing our due diligence by reading all the trip reports we can, familiarizing ourselves with the map and route while planning our contingencies. We have all our maps, but I need to spend more time going over the maps and other trip reports.
  • Putting together all our food ahead of time so it is well thought out and organized. We need to start this very soon!
  • While going in well prepared is important, most of my anxiety is self-created, so I continually remind myself of the skills and experience I have that are capable of carrying me through this adventure. I work on my mindset by focusing on the fun and the real reasons why I love doing this! To be fully present in the scenery, remoteness, and adventure; and the desire for a challenge and accomplishment.

I can’t anticipate everything that could possibly happen and some things are simply beyond my control. Doing all I can to be well prepared and having contingencies in place goes a long way towards easing my anxiety.  I’m excited for the moment I step on the trail and am committed to moving forward with only the items I am carrying on my back. When the anxiety slips away and the fun and adventure begin!

Do you experience travel or pre-trip anxiety? Do you have strategies for coping with or managing or your pre-trip jitters?

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