Live Well: Ira Glass on Life

Ira Glass - Stuart Mullenberg (2)

Two weeks ago, my husband sent me this Lifehacker interview with Ira Glass to cheer me up on a Monday. It worked. Not only did it confirm what I've believed for over a decade now (that Ira Glass is awesome), it gave me a new mantra.

While I think there are several interesting points in the article, by far my favorite piece was the last question/answer:

"Is there anything else you'd like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?

I'd just say to aspiring journalists or writers—who I meet a lot of—do it now. Don't wait for permission to make something that's interesting or amusing to you. Just do it now. Don't wait. Find a story idea, start making it, give yourself a deadline, show it to people who'll give you notes to make it better. Don't wait till you're older, or in some better job than you have now. Don't wait for anything. Don't wait till some magical story idea drops into your lap. That's not where ideas come from. Go looking for an idea and it'll show up. Begin now. Be a f**king soldier about it and be tough."

"Be a f**king soldier about it." Forget the fact that this advice is aimed at those pursuing journalism - that's the mantra we need for SO many things in life.

 I particularly loved that quote because it reflected my own attitude so perfectly in the early days of this blog. Back when I opened this little corner of the internet, I was dragging myself day in and day out to a job that I couldn't stand. And it's not just that it had some of the typical trappings of bad jobs - unpredictable hours, questionable management, and a WAY overinflated sense of importance - it was just boring. There were days where I would go hours without having anything to work on. I would say I exerted pretty minimal effort about 95% of the time.

While experiencing all this, I constantly felt like a complete waste of space. The type of stress I encountered was of the deep-seated, gnawing variety - I wondered incessantly where my life was going, if I was going to be stuck in this professional rut forever, if I was just a thoroughly average, boring person.

And then I decided to do something about it.

I committed to writing this blog five days a week, every week. For an entire year, I wrote on Christmas, on vacation, in the middle of the night when I came home from work (or parties) late. I realized that doing that kind of work is what made me feel worthwhile. It gave me a purpose, of sorts.

I didn't start this blog to become a famous blogger. Let's face it, that was never in the cards. But I started writing it to get me somewhere, and that somewhere arrived when I interviewed for and landed my job at shopkick, a job that I love and that teaches me something new every day.

You would think all of these things would make me sad and embarrassed about the current state of this blog. My posting frequency has tapered off to being inconsistent at best. Even when I do post, I frequently forget to share it on Facebook...so hardly anybody sees it.

But honestly, I don't feel bad.

This blog was, other than my marriage, my lifeblood for well over a year. So much work went into these pages. But I've realized that life isn't about being a soldier at one thing all the time. It's about being a soldier at AT LEAST one thing at all times. For awhile, that thing was this blog. These days, that thing is my job, going to the gym regularly, spending more time with friends, and, most importantly, taking time every night to relax and spend time with my husband. All of these things calm me down and make me happy. And I've reached the point where writing this blog can be the happy filler in between those happy activities.

Someday, writing posts every day may make an ascent back up my list of priorities. That's a definite possibility. But for now, if it's okay with you, I'm not going to let this blog be a source of guilt. I'm going to continue to write only when I have something to say. I know that's the best way to keep it as one of the most unexpected sources of joy in my life - the place where I've gotten so much closer to all of you who read what I write here. I cherish that more than anything.

Is there a part of your life that you currently find unsatisfying? If so, I suggest you take the Ira Glass approach - find what you love, and be a f**king soldier about it. You won't regret it.

Live Well: DONE With Our Whole 30

graphic via betterbelievefit.com

Well friends, I did it - I finished the Whole 30. How do I feel?

I feel a lot of things.

For one, I feel lighter. In 30 days, I lost two pounds, an inch off my waist, and an inch and a half off my hips. I didn't start this diet in order to lose weight, but it's a side effect that I'm not sad about!

I also feel healthier. We initially committed to doing 30 days without sugar, grains, dairy, etc. because we had been eating so terribly. After 30 days of only putting "whole" foods in my body, I must say I feel really great - there hasn't been one time in the past month where I've felt disgustingly full (that used to be a regular occurrence). Also, my stomach hasn't been upset in the longest time and I just feel better. It's hard to explain.

On the whole, I would highly recommend giving this diet a shot if you're looking for a way to break out of bad eating habits. While I know I'll start adding grains and sweets back into my diet (I'm going out for pizza tonight), I will definitely be adding them back in in much lower quantities than I was taking in before (after this weekend, of course - I'm not holding back on ANYTHING while my siblings are in town!). In a weird way, I'm almost sad that the 30 days are over - it really takes about 30 days to feel like you've got the hang of eating healthy!

I will admit, though - we made some alterations to the diet to make it more workable for a lifestyle where we know we're going to be going out to restaurants, hanging out with friends, and just generally not always in control of how our food is prepared. Here are the allowances we made:

Alcohol: I probably had ~6 glasses of red wine over the course of the diet. All of those were consumed in the company of friends. We just couldn't handle being the awkward ones at the table who refused to drink along with the crowd. So instead we took in a moderate amount, and didn't drink at all if it wasn't a social occasion.

Dairy: I had cheese three times because it was in dishes we ordered and hard to avoid. But I really, really tried to stay away from it as best I could because my body and lactose aren't friends, and I thought taking it out of my diet would be a worthwhile experiment.

Oils/Fats/Cooking conditions, etc: To truly stick to the tenets of the Whole 30, you would need to prepare all of your food yourself. You never know what kinds of oils a restaurant is cooking your food in, so it's safer to make your own. We weren't that stringent. Going out to dinner is one of our greatest pleasures, and we weren't willing to give that up. As a result, I'm sure we took in trace amounts of non-ideal cooking oils...but that's a tradeoff we were okay with making.

All of that said, I didn't ONCE in 30 days eat any kind of dessert. I can't tell you how proud I am of that. My love for dessert is definitely my Achilles heel. When I started this diet, I would crave dark chocolate after meals so badly that it seemed like my whole body hurt. That doesn't happen anymore, and I plan on doing what I can going forward to make sure I don't get hooked again.

So what do you think? Are you tempted to try it? Do you have questions I can answer? Let me know! But first, pizza...

Live Well: Happy Weekend

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Happy Friday, friends.

I considered doing an outfit post today, considered writing about The Goldfinch. But then I realized that it's been a long week, and I just want to relax. So I'm going to leave you with a picture of the roses we had as our centerpiece last week, next to our currently-in-progress chess game. Because what says "it's the weekend" more than chess?

A few highlights from the week:

Television. After having it repeatedly recommended to me, my husband and I finally started watching Brooklyn 99! And now I have no idea why it took us so long. If you're not an Andy Samberg fan, stay away, but those of you who (like me) are OBSESSED with The Lonely Island - jump right in.

Haircuts. I finally got my hair cut yesterday and it feels SO GOOD. Pictures to come next week!

Anniversaries. This week marks my one-year anniversary working at shopkick, which is pretty special.

It also marks the three-year anniversary of when my husband and I apartment hunted in San Francisco for the first time and ended up finding the place we now call home. How do you remember that was three years ago, you ask? Well, three years ago we drove up to San Francisco from Stanford on a Thursday evening and looked at an apartment on Chestnut Street, in our current neighborhood. After we looked at the apartment, we strolled down Chestnut (which has a bunch of restaurants and bars) to find a place for dinner. As we were walking down, I was struck by how many people were eating at Mexican restaurants. Every Mexican restaurant was literally packed to the gills, spilling out onto the sidewalks. To be honest, I was encouraged by how popular Mexican food appeared to be - it made it seem like San Francisco wouldn't be that different from Texas after all. It was only a few days later that I realized we had looked at that apartment on CINCO DE MAYO...explaining the neighborhood's obsession with Mexican food. At least it made for a memorable evening.

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Enjoy your weekend, friends. This is my husband's and my last weekend doing the Whole30 - we'll hopefully make it count!