5 Things I Wish I Had Done Before My Laptop BURNED OUT.

So, I’m stressed right now. Very, very stressed. I have just had my computer crash and lost a week worth of work. Send the thing in to be checked, but there is no guarantee anything can be recovered. Which leaves me finishing a pile of work that I had already done. Annoying? Yes, very. Even Jon’s giving me quiet space to do my work, so I’m guessing it’s very noticeable that I am angry and stressed beyond words.

So here are five things I wish I had done before my laptop burned out, as a caution to myself and to others who take their work as lightly as I do.

1: Deliver things as soon as they’re done.

If you’re writing for work or for a magazine or volunteer group, deliver everything as soon as it’s finished. The only thing worse than losing a load of work is losing a load of work that has been ready to go for 24-48h and that I’ve been postponing. Writing over 40k words all over again in a night is the worst experience imaginable, worse than writing it in the first place. Do yourself a favour and don’t mess up like I did: deliver fast.

2: Set online backups.

Most computers today come with the option of online backups. Create an account and back up your most important work, updating it daily. It sounds like a lot of stress, but it is a life-saver in the long run. Many of my personal work files, such as my books, are saved on Amazon or my email account, which is brilliant to know!

3: Keep external backups.

Even so, try and keep external backups. I am usually good for this, every six months or so. Shame my last backup was exactly that long ago. Ouch. I think more regular backups of certain folders may be required. If the folder is updated every month, then two or three months should be the absolute minimum for backup. Plus, it’s a good safeguard against online formats breaking down.

4: Keep an eye on known problems and keep up to date.

I had no chance to guess this one. Apparently it was just the result of regular use for several years, including the usual issues of running it too long every once in a while and the odd bump. Still, it might have been in my best interest to bear in mind the issues that come with an aging laptop and to run more backups after the second year. When this bad boy is two years old I will definitely be running more regular backups and treating it more gently.

5: Save important work as you go.

I found this out the hard way the first time around as well. I think we have all at some point written several hours worth of work and research, only to have the computer crash, the session time out, the internet die or just to click “do not save” instead of “save”. So we learn to hit the save button at least every sentence and eventually find a happy medium of saving every few paragraphs. Well, that’s where I am right now. From now on I am going to store my most important work in various file systems and save it there whenever I make changes.

All I want is my books back. 😦

Any tips for feeling so stressed you’re about to be sick? It hasn’t gone since last week.

TTFN and Happy Saving!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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5 Things To Give Up When You Feel Like Giving Up.

Some days everything gets on top of us. We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a looming deadline with no possibility of timely completion. Maybe it’s a confusing point in a book you just can’t wrap your head around. Maybe someone has left their laundry on the stairs one too many times. Maybe you managed to break something you need and can’t readily replace. Or maybe something tiny just happened and it was the straw that broke the poor camel’s back.

Whatever it is, it makes us throw our hands in the air, roll our eyes, tug at our hair and say “That’s it, I give up!”

So, for when these days hit us and hit us hard, here are the five best things to give up when you feel like giving up.

1: Give up bad feelings.

Sometimes it’s easy to let bad feelings get the best of us, especially when we are overwhelmed. But these feelings do nothing to improve our situation. If anything, they make our lives and everyone else’s worse.

For anger: Go and do something physical to burn off the steam. Keep your thoughts in your head and work through them before bringing them up to someone else.

For despair: Go somewhere quiet and practice your breathing. Look for the good things you still have.

For guilt and blame: Ask yourself whether blaming will get you a solution. If not, accept that someone or something caused the problem and let it go. Promise yourself not to bring blame up against yourself or others in the future.

For weariness: Go and have a lie down and a hot drink. Slowly ponder solutions to your problem in a practical way.

2: Give up boredom and routine.

Sometimes we’re just caught on a hamster wheel of daily habits and we just need to get on with things. And then we get thrown off and it feels like we will never catch up.

For those days when your routine is boring you, you are getting slow and failing to meet your schedule or deadlines, call it out. Go for an extra coffee break at work. Crunch your numbers in the morning and do you emails in the afternoon. Go walking at lunch time. Put housework aside and paint for an hour.

Just push your routine aside for a bit and enjoy your day.

3: Give up bad habits.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We start doing things that are directly self-sabotaging and don’t even think twice about them until the inevitable results happen and then, like a smoker struggling to breathe after a flight of stairs, we wonder why we picked up the habit to begin with.

If we are routinely running late for deadlines, perhaps we ought to reconsider our procrastination habits or accepting so much work. If we are often breaking glasses and plates, perhaps we ought to get some pretty plastic dinnerware. If we keep making ourselves ill with overwork, perhaps we ought to consider the work-illness ratio of effectiveness and take it easy once in a while.

Try and live for maximum health and mental wellbeing. Don’t let anything get in the way of that, however “important” it seems to stay busy.

4: Give up perfection.

Sometimes we get in the way of a perfectly good day by looking at five minutes of it and declaring “that wasn’t good enough”. How many times has a morning went really well only for you to break your favourite mug and declare the day ruined? If you’re anything like me… too many times. Why does that one moment have to define our days?

If something genuinely serious happens, then sure, our day is ruined. But a small issue like breaking a mug has not made our morning any less pleasant and has not set the tone for the rest of the day. Make a commitment to being happy, no matter what happens, and to letting the little things slide. When you do this your life will have a massive reduction in drama and frustration.

5: Give up fretting.

It’s a bit of a cop-out to tell a stressed person to stop being stressed. But it’s easier to stop fretting than to stop stressing, and if you leave frets behind, the stress will soon follow.

Sometimes we just let things get the better of us. This is sort of the other side to the coin of perfectionism. When you know that getting one thing “wrong” can ruin your day, you worry about making sure everything is perfect. Which means we end up stressing about problems that haven’t even happened.

When you feel like giving up, ask yourself if the day is salvageable or whether the whole world has truly ground to a halt. Generally, you will find something to enjoy from the day and something to look forward to. Push the worries out of your thoughts, tell yourself off for thinking about them and focus on actual solutions.

I guarantee you, it will feel better.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How do you deal with it when you feel like the whole day/week/year/world is ruined?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

10 Things You Can Do For Your Baby Now.

So you’re pregnant. Or you might be. Or you’re TTC and getting way ahead of yourself. And you really want to give your baby the best imaginable start in life. What can you get started on right here and now that will give your baby a better start in life?

Here are ten things I am doing to ensure my baby has the best start I can give it.

1: Eat well.

A good diet for your baby starts well before weaning, before breastfeeding, before even conception.

Your baby’s intra-womb nutrition is very heavily based on digesting the fatty tissue around your hips, upper thighs and buttocks. This is why a low waist to hip ratio and a wide, round bum is appealing to the vastest majority of men: it signals “I have abundant baby food!” Before conception, this fat is very hard for your body to digest short of actually starving yourself. This is why it was so hard to lose your “fat bum” when you hit puberty. Your body wants a fat bum.

So what goes into growing a fat bum, full of healthy baby nutrition, without getting fat everywhere else? Your body shoves a series of types of lipid and nutrient into this fat:

  • omega oils
  • calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc
  • fat soluble vitamins

Make sure to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, to grow wide hips to feed many babies with. Just keep your portions under control to not grow much wider everywhere else!

2: Get husband to eat well.

His diet matters as much of yours, but mostly it matters before conception. After that it’s a bit easier on him.

The average man needs to follow these guidelines to produce numerous, strong, genetically balanced sperm cells:

  • extra zinc, magnesium and selenium
  • more green veggies
  • more protein
  • some alcohol, less frequently
  • fewer sugars

3: Work.

Whether you are an employee, self employed or a housewife, do as much as you can to make and save money as the baby is on its way. You will likely have nowhere near enough time to make or save money once baby is here, and you will probably be hit by the nesting bug and want to buy more things for the baby very soon.

So make a point of making extra money, saving more, and setting a lot to one side, for peace of mind.

4: Stockpile.

Set aside a small corner. Start collecting baby basics, like wash cloths, weaning spoons, bibs, burping cloths, bra and nipple pads, vitamins… anything you will need during pregnancy and the first few months. Whenever you see something at a good price, snap it up and save it. This will save a lot of panicked, expensive last minute shopping.

5: Take notes.

Go and see the doctor.

Join a baby group, online or in person.

Research.

Ask friends and family.

Find out everything you could possibly want to know about making a baby and take note of anything useful, interesting or unusual.

Not only will it help you feel a bit more prepared and avoid big mistakes, but it will bring some comfort, relief and happiness.

6: Stay fit.

Having healthy hip fat is only part of the battle. If you want a strong and healthy baby, you need to be strong and healthy yourself.

Keep your weight down. Don’t diet, but try and not put on too much fat before or during the pregnancy. Some very overweight and obese women can even healthily lose body fat during pregnancy. Remember: the fat your body feeds the baby is almost a completely different pool to the fat you burn when you diet. Baby will be fine.

Stay active. Go for walks, lift weights, play with the dog. Don’t overexert yourself, but it’s absolutely fine to exercise until you’re a bit out of breath or tired. As long as you aren’t sweating or massively straining your abs, you are doing well.

Get outside. Get in the sunshine, breath some fresh air, experience the calming effects of nature. Not only will you get some vitamin D (crucial for bone development of the baby and healthy bones in yourself) and cleanse your lungs, but being in nature is good for mental health as well.

Keep your immune system strong. Don’t expose yourself to multiple people with the same bugs. Don’t overwash or underwash your hands. Eat well-cooked or very fresh foods. Listen to your sickness. Your body doesn’t need to be overburdened.

7: Meditate.

Sit down and take some time to relax, think about the baby and just enjoy your body.

8: Nurture love.

The baby may come before other people, but it should not push them out. Show affection and kindness to friends and family. Make a place for your partner as the parent of your child. Make sure everyone feels loved and a part of this.

9: Plan loosely.

Start making some plans.

Think about the money you want to have saved by the time the baby is born.

Think about how you will manage finances and work and maternity leave, check what government grants are available.

Think about what names you want to go for.

Think about how you could adapt if your baby is born disabled.

Think about what your partner will help you with.

Plan, but don’t plan too much.

10: Don’t stress.

Chances are everything will be fine. And even if things don’t go according to plan, you will definitely be fine.

And that’s what I’m doing to try and give my baby the best start possible. What would more experienced mamas and papas suggest I start doing to get ready?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

10 Things In Defence Of Adult Colouring Books.

Adult colouring books are a surprisingly divisive topic. On the one hand their lovers declare they’re just a bit of harmless fun. On the other their opponents believe they’re a marker of how infantile their users and our society have become.

Generally I find myself siding with the less emotional argument. Which in this case is that they are an infantile pursuit. However, this time the less emotional argument still has an emotional foundation. What emotional foundation? That we should necessarily eschew things that are infantile in favour of more mature pursuits, and that we should have a lesser opinion of people whose pursuits are not highly intellectual or explicitly adult.

And I don’t think that’s right. Because there are many reasons to engage in infantile habits and hobbies, some of them far more valid than attempting to maintain an appearance of maturity. So here are ten reasons why adult colouring books are beneficial, from least to most significant.

1: Fun.

Everyone likes to have fun in some way. The only people who avoid having fun to appear mature are those who never progressed beyond the teenage mentality that maturity is boring. Humans like to have fun. The sensation of “fun” is your body telling you that you are either learning a life skill (risky fun) or safe and secure (quiet fun). If it feels good, chances are it’s because on some level you need it. Not all good feels will be contextually appropriate, but not all of them are sinful or harmful either.

So before I address the other positive aspects of adult colouring books, I’d like to raise the first, most central point: there are many hobbies as pointless, unproductive, unintellectual and infantile as this. In fact, there are many that are moreso. If you see it as appropriate to attack colouring books, then you should probably also set your sights on video games, TV, chance-based board games, trash fiction, most films, shopping, casual blogging, social media, listening to music, etc.

2: Inexpensive.

Plus, something adult colouring has on most of those hobbies, is that it’s actually pretty cheap. The books are sometimes costly, but you can always buy printable versions or photocopy a book or find one on the cheap. And compared to a night out, a new DVD, a game, a restaurant meal or a cinema ticket, even the priciest colouring books are actually pretty cheap.

3: Motor function improvement.

In the modern world we often find ourselves engaging in repetitive motions at work. Typing, clicking, sorting, carrying, pressing buttons, steering. Most jobs are UNIT jobs, that basically means you are one tiny gear and your job is to turn clockwise until you sign off. This can actually affect your muscle memory, cause cramping of hand and arm muscles and mess with your coordination out of work, like the stereotypical powerlifter who doesn’t know his own strength. Like most fine-tuned activities, colouring improves your hand-eye coordination, your eye focus, your hand steadiness and your hand’s range of motion. You may not be an expert artist, but after a while you start using a variety of motions and techniques to get these tiny, precise patches coloured.

4: Attention span improvement.

With the nature of most modern work and entertainment, most people’s attention spans are awful. We’re used to immediate gratification, swapping from tab to tab, pausing our films and TV shows, checking social media every two minutes… Having something you can sit down to and immerse yourself in does wonders for patience, attention, comfort and general serenity.

5: Normalizes relaxation.

Between the flood of women entering the workforce, the decline in small business and the desperate need to compete in the market, political forces, companies and activists alike go on about the sanctity of work. From one extreme, where Marxists believe all your labour should be yours, to the other where Nationalists believe all your labour should serve your people; from feminists claiming that women need to work as many hours as men in the same roles, to anti-feminists claiming that women’s work is generally less useful than men’s, monetized work seems to be the only value anyone has any more.

Which means the pressure to work hard and never relax is immense. Taken to the extreme, we get the stereotypical Japanese businessman. It isn’t actually good. But most of our entertainment options are presented as social, energetic options by force. Go to a party, go hiking, do some networking, go dancing… Having a widely approved and supported hobby that is actually calm and quiet could do society wonders.

6: Brain-stimulating.

Believe it or not, your brain is very much active when you do things like colouring. By focusing on shapes, patterns and repetition we engage the part of our brains that deals with number and space problems. By indulging in bright colours we engage the part of our brains that gains pleasure from pretty things. By developing our motor skills we engage the part of the brain involved in proprioception and detailed work. By working through different colours and balancing them we engage the part of the brain that naturally leans toward creativity. Unlike zoning out to a screen or knee-jerk-arguing on facebook, colouring is actually very good for your mental functions as a whole.

7: Family oriented.

Again, a lot of modern hobbies fall short here. We live in a culture that worships the individual so much that few hobbies engage more than one or two people at a time. Reading, blogging and cooking are preferably solitary activities. Clubbing, social networking or watching TV are engaged in by everyone, but rarely together any more. Sports, shopping or games can be social but are usually only appreciated by one or two members of the family.

However colouring is actually pretty good for everyone. Those with artistic talent can draw. Those without can colour. Children get their colouring books. Adults get theirs. Sharing time and space like that, helping each other out and taking it easy could be just what your family needs on, for example, a Friday night.

8: Productivity.

I could easily list a large number of highly productive hobbies. But the most common relaxation habits among modern humans are not productive. Watching TV, social networking, playing simple games, reading trash and shopping are not productive, especially not in the way most people use them. However colouring, as we have seen, has many benefits. It is productive in that it’s actually good for you. And it’s productive in that at the end you have a completed object to show for it, which in and of itself is also rewarding.

9: Stress relief.

We’re all stressed. We work fast-paced, low-reward, high-contact, high-pressure jobs. Even if one trait is absent in your job, the other three are probably there. When we don’t work such jobs we feel stressed because we’re not doing enough. Stress relief is vital for humans to function. We’re not designed to be continually pumping adrenaline and epinephrine into our systems. We need to get some dopamine, serotonin and GABA in there as well. Otherwise you end up… well, like me. Except most people don’t need to be stuck in that sort of a loop.

By relieving stress with a simple, mentally stimulating, quiet, low-pressure activity you can make yourself better able to function at work, in your social circles and in life in general.

10: Natural creativity.

The big one. Humans are naturally creative. We want to create, to produce, to make marks and sounds and shapes. It’s what got us so far to begin with, combined with our deep curiosity.

But unless they are exceptionally talented or have the time to develop a skill, most people will never create wonderful art. There just isn’t the time, the financial incentive or the resources to make everyone a great artist. If we want to unleash our natural creativity we can write poems, compose story plots, doodle… and now we also have the option to do a colouring book page.

I personally have never had to use a colouring book. Not since I was very little, anyway. But I’m not some sort of a snob who thinks that just because someone can’t draw as well as me, they should miss out on the colouring. Colouring is fun. It’s relaxing. It’s productive and healthy and engaging. And if that’s how you want to let out some creativity, then by all means go ahead.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What do you think about adult colouring books? What do you do in your spare time? Do you think there is ever anything “too infantile” for an adult’s hobby, if the rest of their life is in order?

9 Ways Of Enriching A Man’s Life.

Every person is different and, therefore, every relationship is different. It’s not like you can do exactly what your best friend does and have the same marriage as them.

On the other hand, generalities are also worth bearing in mind. Most people like food. Most women will want children at some point in life. Most people don’t like being shouted at. Most men enjoy sex.

And somewhere in between we have anecdotes, personal experiences that can be applied to life, with a pinch of salt.

That said, here are nine ways Jon finds I improve his quality of life, in the order they came to mind to him.

1: Massages to keep on top of exercise and injuries.

Jon has a number of injuries to his back and knees. This means that he needs to find that sweet spot between doing enough exercise to build the supporting tissues around the injuries and not doing so much that he’ll further damage any tissue. Which means a lot of massages.

After weights, after a sedentary day or before bed, Jon needs to have massages on offer to make sure his body carries on working. By massaging him when he needs it, I allow him to carry on lifting weights and working long shifts without suffering the pain that would normally follow.

2: Food.

Jon works long shifts and tries to keep busy in between them. He lifts weights, reads, writes, studies, trains the dog, learns to paint with me, goes shopping, goes hiking, helps me with the garden and everything in between. And that’s before we begin to look at his less educational entertainment, such as games, films, social media or TV shows.

Just to cook the high calorie, high protein, high carb, easily digestible food he enjoys would take 30-60 minutes of attention each day. Never mind learning how to combine ingredients and seasoning so that he can enjoy the variety of foods he likes, eat some cheaper products and improvise.

By cooking for him, I am either freeing his time for other things or making sure he gets the quality of food he wouldn’t have on his own.

3: Keeping things in order.

Again, because he is so busy with everything else in life, the house isn’t his first priority. When he gets home from twelve or thirteen hours outside, he doesn’t want to do the dishes, put the laundry through, walk the dog, iron a shirt, hoover the hallway and weed the garden. So having it already done is a big plus.

4: Take on small tasks and assist in projects.

Likewise, there are small jobs and large projects that take up a lot of time. If he is sending out CVs, composing a story or calling to book an appointment, then that will be eating into his time elsewhere. By having someone else to take on menial tasks, the end of his day is free.

5: Make things more fun.

Sometimes he just has to do things. Go and get some groceries, take the car to the mechanic, meet social obligations or go for a walk to relax a joint. On his own, he finds these tasks hard to enjoy. They’re just tedious parts of being an adult human being.

By making a bit more of an event out of them, we can take our focus away from the more tedious aspects of these tasks and enjoy our time together instead.

6: Companionship.

Few people like doing everything alone. And those who do often choose solitude because they find it hard to find someone else who shares their passion without spoiling it.

Jon is also a fairly solitary person, seeing even his closest friends only every few months. So having someone he doesn’t mind sharing his life with adds value to it. He likes having me there to spot his weights, sit in the garden with, go to the pub with or read to.

7: Keep updated and informed on various topics.

One person only has so much time to spend reading, clicking through links, finding studies and investigating theories. By splitting up our reading over the day and regrouping at night to discuss various events and developments, we keep updated on a number of interesting topics and always have a conversation subject to bond over.

8: Cheerleading and grounding.

Jon, as you have seen above, does a lot. A life like his, where you are always on the go, wears down eventually. So he enjoys a bit of cheerleading. That is, having someone to tell him he’s doing well, to encourage him through the day and to support him in his pursuits.

But he also enjoys being grounded from time to time. Everyone goes through times when their decisions or goals are unrealistic, self-destructive or too time-consuming. And at these times, most people need and want to be grounded, not cheered on.

By keeping me updated on his work and goals, Jon ensure he has a cheerleader and a grounder, to make sure he fulfills his ambitions.

9: Focus on the future.

This one’s a more nuanced one. I don’t actually do anything myself to create this. There is no way to make someone else pay more attention to one thing or less attention to another.

But simply by existing, Jon finds I’m a reminder of the future ahead. He knows he will have children with me. And he knows we both rely primarily on him. By removing most uncertainty, it gives him something to focus on. Which means life feels easier, even if it’s actually a bit harder.

And those are the ways Jon says I improve his quality of life.

Everyone is different, and this may not work for you and your partner. But maybe it gives you some ideas as to how to make sure they are getting the quality of life they deserve.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

5 Pieces Of My Own Advice I Should Probably Follow.

I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. But considering how often I’m right, it’s appalling how often I fail to follow my own advice, heed my own warnings and do the right or best thing.

5 Pieces Of My Own Advice I Should Probably Follow!

With that said, in a moment of unprecedented honesty, here are five pieces of good advice I give out more often than I act on. I will strive to actually take this advice in the future.

1: Make Yourself Happy.

This is a compound of two deeply set beliefs of mine. The first is that it is nobody else’s responsibility to make you happy, or, indeed, do anything for you. You are born into this world naked and frail and, whatever rights and contracts are formed between you and those around you and enforced, under that veil of civility we are still all barbarians who would stab each other in the kidney for no good reason. Nobody owes me anything, so my happiness should not be in their hands.

The second belief is that optimism is the only way to truly enjoy life. There is a silver lining to most things and a plan B for everything. You may not feel happy about everything, but you can find the more pleasant unintended consequences, the things that at least didn’t go wrong, the things you have left. If you lose your family, your home and your job, at least you’re still alive and have your brain and live in a world full or charitable people and resources. You are alive and will keep on living until such a time as there is nothing left.

Combine the two, and you can see why I recommend to always try and make yourself happy. So long as you’re here, you have something going for you. And the stars will never wholly align to make everything perfect. The best you can do is take things into your own hands and adopt a more positive attitude.

But I don’t really take that advice all that often. Something I’m not particularly secretive about, but don’t really go on about, is I have what we currently believe to be cyclothymia, a mood swing disorder like a light form of bipolar. So when I’m feeling generally good about myself, ie, when I’m on the way down, but well rested and haven’t got much to do, or on the way up and hitting every target, the advice is easy to follow. I slept for twelve hours, but it’s OK because I cleared my work. I lost £200 of income due to a timing error, but money comes and goes and we’re in the black anyway. But part of the cycle is occasional, pretty intense periods of existential depression, which basically amounts to alternating nihilism and anxiety, sometimes to a point where I am in deep despair and paranoid.

And, to be honest, I use that as an excuse. Yes, it’s hard to feel happy when something flips in your brain and you just want the world  to end so you don’t have to face another day on this planet. But you can at least alleviate it by focusing on the good things, relaxing and not getting wound up about things.

2: Let it go.

This one is based off a simple principle. Things will always fall outside your control. You may be lucky or you may not, you can influence the outcomes, but you can never decide them. Sometimes things will go wrong, people will act like idiots or life will just generally be rubbish.

And, just as with making yourself happy, you need to let go of these things. Sometimes being stressed helps you focus and deal with things, but sometimes it’s just stress.

This was related to my #NoNothingNovember challenge and I’m still working on it. The problem is that stress is almost addictive. And once you get it started, it just keeps going. Every single thing becomes straw on a camel’s back, when it should be water off a duck’s back. And the more stress I add, the more I hold onto it.

Releasing emotions is fine. Easy even. I can forgive, forget or despise someone in a blink of an eye. That much “letting go” comes naturally to me. But stress? I’ll hold onto it to a point where I break down and procrastinate rather than get anything done, because if I start working I’ll remember how much I have to do and panic. Not a good cycle.

3: Look after yourself.

Another important one. Often we focus too much on other people and forget to look after ourselves. You know that warning in airplane safety videos? “Please put on your own mask before you assist anyone else”? Well that’s true in all of life. You may think you’re being good and generous, but you aren’t helping anyone if you’re jobless, homeless, penniless and destitute. You need to find a safe place you can work from before you decide what you can do for others.

There are so many little and big ways of caring for yourself, from having a relaxing bath to ensuring you are as independent as you can be. And all of them help us live longer, happier lives, and ultimately help others and society more than if we hadn’t looked out for ourselves.

Which is why I’m confused and annoyed every time I feel run down and realize I don’t have to feel run down, I did it to myself and I’m the only one to blame. I don’t put many people before myself. But the few people and the work I put before myself is enough to weigh me down. And I do love Jon. And we do need the money from my work. But getting so ill I can’t work for a week because I didn’t want to take a day off lessons and I wanted to make his favourite dinner isn’t going to help. It does him no good when I’m ill and I can’t earn when I’m ill. Likewise for stress, undereating or any other way I neglect myself. And I do it because I put every essay, every exam, every meal, every task, every animal, every lesson before my own wellbeing. “Just one thing more” is sometimes too much.

4: Spend less time online.

The time you spend online is the time you don’t spend offline. It sounds simple and obvious, but I think it actually needs mentioning and giving some thought. When our entire world is connected by assorted websites, programs and devices, we forget how much time we spend connected. Especially so when more and more work is done online and online content is so easily accessible and engaging. You log on to check your emails or Skype or do some research and you stay online watching videos and looking at daft pictures on reddit.

But all that time doing mindless things online is taking away from your time in the real world. And whatever some people feel, most of us would rather be in the real world. We would rather talk to friends and family than argue with strangers online. We would rather care for our homes than blog about them. We would rather watch a film than trawl YouTube or go to a park than click through Facebook.

And that was the main reason I chose to eliminate timewasting websites and restrict access to useful websites that lost their productive value as part of my #NoNothingNovember. And I am sticking to that.

But I’m still easily spending far too much time online. I need to get myself more focused, use my time online sparingly and wisely and try and spend more time with Jon and out in the open. It’s so easy, even when you’re being productive, to assume the online time isn’t having much of an impact. But even if it’s work, if I spend a week writing scheduled blog posts, forget to do my work and have to spend one of Jon’s days off catching up on work, that impacts our life negatively.

5: Ask yourself why.

Often it’s easy to get wound up, stressed, distracted and not notice why. We find ourselves in a state and just get caught up in it and don’t ever track it back to its source. Sometimes when we track a problem back far enough we find a root cause that is completely unfixable, such as the genetic lottery or someone or something else’s actions. But most of the time the cause of our troubles can be found and fixed on our own.

For example, we may find our health suffering because of poor diet. If we just look at the ill health, we may see no solution. But if we track it back we see all the causes. The ill health is caused by a bad diet, that was caused by a childhood eating disorder, that was caused by depression, that was caused by an internal malformation of the brain you were born with. You can’t fix your brain. You can’t undo the eating disorder. But you can work with the depression and you aren’t doomed to eat a bad diet.

Likewise, we rarely ask ourselves why we are in a situation. We need to ask how we wound up there, what we did to contribute to it and how we can remedy it. It’s no use to stay focused on your problems if you aren’t looking for a solution.

And somehow, knowing all this, I manage to get het up about problems that often have very simple solutions. I don’t always remember to ask why I am in that situation, only what I can do to get out of it. And that way I am only looking at the symptoms and getting distressed, rather than actually noticing the disease.

And those are five pieces of my own advice I should probably follow. What advice do you wish you followed more often?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

You’re Perfect… But Keep Going.

Dissatisfaction, always wanting the next thing up, is the human condition. So is a desire for perfection and an ego that, like glass, is apparently solid, totally transparent and shatters when hit hard enough. This much is self evident. You don’t need to look further than our consumerist culture and its quick spread to see these realities in action.

On the other hand, we are also wary of the extreme forms of either of these things. Excessive ego that is too solid troubles us, makes us question the egoist’s very humanity. A paper-thin ego makes us question their stability. Absolute perfectionism is seen as dangerous, the quest for the impossible. No drive to progress is understood to be a bane to society as much as to the individual.

And we often pair the extremes up a certain way. After all, the extreme egoist is often so proud, happy and comfortable that they stagnate. Their robust ego may be beneficial to them in terms of mental and emotional stability, but it creates the false impression that they have no work left to do. And the extreme perfectionist is often so focused, so obsessed, so needy that their ego wears thin. Their drive is beneficial in that they will often progress far beyond where anyone else could even imagine, but when they repeatedly fall short of their own standards their ego is wrecked.

However, I believe the best balance is actually not one of moderation, but a balance of the two more solid extremes. You need to be a perfectionist narcissist. This doesn’t really happen in nature. When your ego is that solid, you don’t want to carry on. When your standards are that high, your ego is hurt. But it can be encouraged and built through mindfulness.

You need to appreciate everything you do, admire everything you make, take pride in every achievement. You need to look at everything you are, physically, mentally, educationally, emotionally, and believe deep down that it is, brilliant, incredible, perfect.

But you also need to look at everything you make critically, analyze everything you do and move on from every milestone. You need to look at everything you could possibly become, physically, mentally, educationally, emotionally, and strive for it.

Push and pull. Push and pull. Until you’re sitting in the right place to carry on.

Depending on which way you already lean, you will need to work more on one than the other. Probably even depending on what you happen to be doing.

But whatever it is, when something is stressing you, getting you down, hurting you or annoying you, take action. Step back, analyze it, find what you need to fix, find what you can fix, find what you’re doing well and what you love. And then remind yourself…

“It’s perfect. But I have to keep going.”

 

TTFN and Happy Hunting.