Inertia: Why I Feel Justified Blaming Newton for My Life Issues

I was pondering why life is so hard. It is, there’s no question. Even for people who have everything going for them, some things are inescapable. You’re going to have to do dishes and laundry or pay to outsource them. You have to work because vendors have this really intense commitment to payments. In the course of every life, there’s going to be some combination of the following: emotional upset (relationships, mental health, problems with children), workplace stress (toxic co-workers, layoffs, etc.), health issues (yours or a relative) and death.

These are terrible things.

Even if you’re a trust fund baby who never has to work and has a permanent housekeeper, you can’t dodge emotional upsets, and even if you and everyone you love has platinum healthcare and the best luck in the world, sooner or later someone will die and you have to face grief.

But the real problem is that these things only affect the difficulty level of your life, or in some cases present actual obstacles.

You look at your newborn and think, nothing bad will happen to you. I will protect you. And you envision her life as a long, straight, clear road. But life isn’t long and straight and clear. It has peaks and valleys. It has different terrain. Some stretches might be paved but other stretches might be boggy and hard to push through.

If you start to think about life like that, as an obstacle course, you can see that it’s not even straight. Each time you make a wrong decision in life–a relationship that doesn’t work out, or a job that gets you nowhere–it’s a spur on the road. You get to the end of your dead end and have to come back.

If you make big changes in your life, that’s a curve in your road.

If you or someone in your family gets sick, it’s like a climbing wall has been dropped suddenly in front of you.

But here’s the thing: we handicap ourselves. Our negative mindsets, our bad habits, our commitment¬†to things we should be pruning from our lives–all these things work as ankle weights. They slow us down and they make each step harder. Climbing out of a valley is suddenly twice as hard as it needs to be. Those walls can stop your forward progress for weeks or months.

My mother is a great example. She had a lot of trauma in her marriage with my dad. They’re divorced now but she’s still standing in front of a wall, refusing to try to climb it. Until she’s ready to start that work, she can’t move forward. It has been years that she’s been standing there. I don’t know that she’ll ever be able to get over that wall.

Which brings us back to Newton. Inertia is the tendency of objects in motion to stay in motion but also the tendency of objects at rest to stay at rest. In effect, he said change is hard.

(Yes, I’m aware he was just observing this and didn’t cause it but let’s face it, this is not a blog post about facts.)

So if you have ankle weights on, you have to pull them off. One at a time. Each bad habit is pulling you down, and you have to break it with great difficulty to get a little ease in your life. How many weights are you holding onto?

That’s not the end of it. Once you push all that effort into the removal of your ankle weights, you’re not flying. You just have an easier time navigating the obstacle course.

But the price of that ease is constant vigilance. You can’t let yourself get complacent or you will strap the weights back on. It’s a constant part of your life.

This applies to the other areas of your life, too. If you have enough money to outsource some of your housework, that smooths out that part of the road. If you have a loving, stable relationship, you can rely on your partner to prop you up when you get stuck in a bog.

But again, that requires initial effort and you have to sustain it. Relationships need care to flourish. Even passive income requires a large initial investment of time or money or both.

Inertia again. You can make your life better, but you have to work incredibly hard for it. And it’s so easy to make a change for the better in one area of your life and drop another part of your life.

Disclipline and self-control are limited quantities. Decision fatigue is real. That’s what makes change so hard. If you try to pull ALL your ankle weights at once, AND generate enough passive income to retire in 5 years, AND find a great relationship, AND have a time-consuming hobby, you’ll burn out and do it fast.

I have an idea on how to solve that problem. And my problem from last week, too. It’s about habits. When you solidify a habit it stops needing willpower. Do you need willpower to change into pajamas? No, it’s just a thing you do at night.

Theoretically, if you can create habits that make your life easier, you can make the road of your life a little easier to navigate. You spend a month training yourself to floss every night as a habit, and then you have better dental health for the rest of your life. At least in theory, you can change your life, one month and one habit at a time.

My current plan: try to habit-ize as much of my life improvement effort so that I can maintain the inertia of movement in those areas while I pick at other areas. I have a lot of issues, so it will take a long time, but that’s my idea. Pick one thing that’s important and habit-ize it. Eat better, for example. Get a handful of meals I like and are healthy. Figure out a time and place to prep them each week. Rinse and repeat. Once that’s in place, I can put that effort into something else.




Chaos and Personal Development

As mentioned previously, we’re dealing with a lot of chaos here. The offspring decided to take a foray into juvenile delinquency which meant we spent our entire summer in youth facilities and counseling and psychiatrists offices. It was an overwhelming amount of work.

There’s also the legal side to be dealt with, which is taking SO INCREDIBLY LONG. You’d think a process that started in June would be complete by October, but you would be wrong.

And the financial cost is outrageous. As you know if you’ve been reading, we were already on the struggle bus before this, and this has sucked everything we had and then some. We’re borrowing from family, we’re taking out extra credit cards, we’re doing everything we can to try and finance the bare minimum care and treatment that she needs. It’s not ideal and it’s slowing down the process that she doesn’t have access to EVERYTHING she needs, and as long as the legal is pending, her dad is arguing that he has no responsibility to contribute. He’s wrong, but getting him to pay requires us to take him to family court and the cost for that is probably about the same as getting him to pay what he owes us.

It is all terrible. We’re all stressed, we’re tired, we’re broke. How are we going to do Christmas this year? No one knows. We’re not even sure we can keep gas in the car by the end of each pay period.

The problem is, my life has been out of control for too long. The eating is wrong, the weight is wrong, the fitness is wrong, the emotional well-being is wrong, it’s all wrong. I feel like a before and after picture, only flipped. I’m starting from the post-earthquake image and I’m trying to get back to the before.

before and after earthquake

I’ve been trying to solve everything at once for years. It’s not working. It’s never worked.

The husband says, just let it go until the chaos of this period ends. But that feels like the opposite of the right answer to me. If we allow outside factors to influence our personal development, we’ll never get anywhere because there is always something that gets in the way of making significant life changes.

The stress eating of the summer has brought me to 12 pounds from my highest weight when at this time last year I was 35 pounds lighter than my highest weight. I’ve let this get out of hand.

I look at my life and I think, do it all right now! This is a disaster! FIX IT ALL! Go pure keto, do weights every other day, cardio every day, yoga and taichi on alternate days, meditate twice a day, commit to my religion in the form of doing morning and evening prayer services in addition to the weekly services, start working again, develop involved lesson plans for the toddler that cover all areas of his development, read more, keep the house scrupulously clean, and so on and so on.

Obviously, you read that paragraph and you realize it’s full of crazy. I see that, too. It’s definitely crazy.

Do all those things need to get done? Yes. Can I do them all right now? Nope. Not even a little bit.

The problem is forcing myself to have the patience to solve one problem at a time. I’m going to start with food. I’m going back to the no refined carbs, no sugar diet that my endocrinologist recommended to me a year ago. She will not be pleased if I show up in her office in February weighing more than I did then.

I’m also going to start walking the dogs every night because that should not be hard, but it feels hard.

Baby steps to victory, that’s the new motto.


Finding Life’s Purpose

For years I’ve been looking for an overwhelming theme for my life, a purpose. Years ago, I had a therapist tell me that people who felt like they have a life mission recover faster from depression and have less relapses. I wanted one. I read every life mission and life purpose statement I could find. None of them felt right.

Last week, I was working on another version of streamlining my life when it suddenly came to me, the theme of my life. It’s understanding. What do I love to do? I read a lot, I listen to podcasts, I read a bunch of blogs. I read to my kids, I deplore the lack of depth in their educations and try to fix it through supplemental reading, and that’s the entire push behind the idea to homeschool the new little one.

It’s the same with people. When I meet them, I want to know their story. It’s the writer in me, I think, but I see people and I think, how did you become a hipster therapist? How did you become yogi acupuncturist? Why do you go to religious services 6 days a week? I really want to know the answers. It’s not judgmental at all–hipster or holy man, it doesn’t matter to me–I just want to know. What was the story? What path brought you here?

I look at my own life. The path has been long and meandering and has covered several states. But I’m in a good place now. I’m managing my anxiety and my depression, I have the baby, I have my girls as much as I legally can at the moment, and now I know what the cornerstone of my life is. It’s all about understanding. Understanding people, understanding the world, understanding everything.

It’s nice when things finally come together after years of trying to force it. Don’t worry if you haven’t found yours. It’ll come when you are ready for it.

Love and blessings and light to you all. I am feeling particularly open hearted to the world at the moment. Love love.

Minimalism Maintenance

A few years ago I got this crazy frustration with the STUFF in our house and went on a massive purging project that lasted most of the year. That involved going through everything, purging what I could, and boxing up what I couldn’t purge so there was more space.

For example, I had a substantial book collection. This is not a joke, the previous purge when I moved out of my house and into the divorce involved giving away enough books to fill the entire back of a friend’s suburban. And there were still literally hundreds of books here. I purged a few more of those, but most of the books I was willing to part with had already been purged at that point. So instead we put the books in file boxes and used a software program to index and sort them, so I can put my hand on any book in less than 5 minutes, but the boxes are in the storage shed now.

However, it’s been a few years and the hidden story of minimalism in your home is that basically it’s a diet for your living space. You have to maintain ruthless vigilance.

We have not been sufficiently vigilant.

Result: I can’t deal with the random crap around the house. I’m boxing up knickknacks this week, and going through boxes of random stuff that has been accumulated in the last couple of years.

Really, we need to clean out the shelves in the closet, where we had placed boxes of stuff we weren’t ready to purge during the last purge. We should also make another run at the storage shed, which requires regular purging to keep it from getting stuffed full.

I really believe that the less stuff in your space the calmer you are. Clutter begets clutter. A cluttered mind and spirit leads to clutter in your home, and clutter in your home makes you feel blocked and generally stuck.

I did a massive brain dump yesterday because I was feeling frazzled and scattered mentally. I think that helped a lot, because it is the same for mental clutter and the ability to be functional. I had too many open loops in my head, and I couldn’t focus on anything for any length of time. This, too, is the goal of meditation, to help keep your head clear and allow you to focus more easily.

My therapist wants me to be meditating far more than I am. I’m working on trying to get a single meditation session in every single day. My therapist thinks the only way to really get a handle on the ongoing anxiety issues is to do 5-10 minutes of meditation 3-5 times a day, at a minimum.

The issue with that, of course, is that I have a baby I’m caring for, and you can’t really meditate with a baby. Therefore I have to wait until he’s asleep, and that means that during his brief nap periods, I have to add meditation to the list of everything else that I’m doing. Anything that isn’t directly focused on him, or that I can’t do easily with him in the room, I have to do during his naps. What that means is that although some chores (dishes, laundry) can be done with him awake, most of them can’t be done unless he’s asleep. Neither can I get any writing work done while he’s awake, of course.

The restriction on my free time is why I have started to pare down on my daily list of things to do. My habitica dailies got up to about 35 tasks per day, and I’ve eliminated a bunch of them. I’m down to about 20 tasks per day but even that is difficult and I might have to purge even more.

Minimalism is, at heart, simplicity. The less stuff you have, the simpler your house, the simpler your life. Minimalism means a less mental clutter, more mindfulness, more being present in the moment. But it’s not a destination. You can’t purge all your stuff and be finished with the work of minimalism. Minimalism is an ongoing way of living, a deliberate turning towards less, a refusal of complications in your life.

You can’t avoid life complications altogether, of course. But by deliberate avoiding it as much as possible, you keep that emotional and mental bandwidth available for when it hits you unexpectedly.



Sugar Free is the BEST Thing

I am now on (I believe) week 4 of not having sugar or refined carbs. I’ve been largely compliant with it, with only a few exceptions for travel and other issues.

I’m down another 2 pounds since this time last week, which means that I’ve lost now just about 9 pounds in 4 weeks. And I am NOT hungry. I’m eating all the time. I still have my sweet tooth but it’s definitely decreasing all the time. I can have splenda and splenda-sweetened things so I’ve been having sugar free pudding for desserts. The Atkin’s branded desserts are also legal for me, but those suckers are expensive so I’m trying to avoid them.

Today, I broke and got a dollar burger and a value fry from a drive-through place and I didn’t even like them. I’ve lost my taste for them. So…yeah. That’s a thing. I would vastly have preferred to have something less greasy and gross in my mouth. I have to say, not wanting fast food would make this entire process easier and help offset the cost issues involved in buy real food ¬†and meat, which we’ve been largely avoiding lately.

That’s about it. Everyone should be doing this. This is awesome. I eat oatmeal with splenda and berries and a splash of milk for breakfast, or a protein shake, I have a baked sweet potato for lunch, I have a burrito bowl or a big salad for dinner, and I have fruit, nuts, cheese and hard boiled eggs for snacks. I’m not counting calories or looking at serving sizes, I’m eating as much as I want of all those things.

Go get the Sugar Busters book, from Amazon or wherever, and start living like this. I’m not getting paid by them (obviously, there’s no affiliate link or anything here) but this is the first thing that’s worked for me. It takes some discipline but there ARE a few bread options available so you don’t have to give up on the bread entirely. I haven’t needed them, but if I ever feel like I do, I know it’s there for me.


Goal Setting and Life Issues

If you’re new, wander through the about section and the other sections as you like.

The basic plan for this blog is post my progress the previous day in terms of food, income, weight, and exercise. But since this is day 1, I don’t have any of that to say. Instead, I’m going to lay out my plan and people with more knowledge and experience in these areas can comment and assist if they feel compelled.

Work: I want to do 10 articles per work day. Once the new job site comes fully up that will represent a decent living. Until then I’m filling in the gaps with a place that pays half a cent a word. It’s mostly for people who like to feel busy but don’t really like money that much.

Exercise: I want to do the 7 minute workout to the best of my capability every other day, moving to every day within a month or so. Plus I want to take the dogs out for 10k steps/day.

Food: low-carb all the way. Minimal calories. Massive amounts of water.

Today’s life issues: I’m back into a lawsuit situation. Less than 3 months away from the last one, which defies all past history. The evil ex usually gives me longer than that. They tell me what he’s doing right now is called “abuse of process” and it’s a real thing. I’m trying to resolve it in a way that doesn’t cost me a million dollars in legal fees or weeks of stress. But I can’t stop shaking today. It’s making work pretty much impossible because, you know, shaking in terror isn’t great for focus. I’m adding some buspar and will have some tea and maybe a hot bath and try again. But I don’t have the kids this weekend, so it’s possible to make up this workday over the weekend. As long as this is the only day where I’m off my form this week I’ll be ok.

I also have a lot of things on tap this week that will suck some time off my life. I have PTA on Wednesday night which means (since we have only one car) that I need to get up early and do the morning commute, then out to the other end of town for the meeting and back again. That’s easily 3 hours of driving. This is why I listen to so many podcasts. Thursday I do the same because I have the kids and a therapy appointment, and then again on Friday because I have to see the endodontist and get her to officially tell me how terrible it’s going to be. I’m supposed to meet a friend for lunch this week or next and I’m going to push it to next to buy myself some time.

Finally, the tooth pain is pretty bad today. I’ve been dosing with ibuprofen every four hours for nearly a week. It’s really not good at all.

The other thing that’s happening in my life that isn’t really the focus of this blog but will impact it is that I am a huge fan of lists. I have a to-read list that is is the 3500 book range. I’m trying to read two off the “classics” section, one off the “history” section and one off the “religious/spiritual” section per month plus whatever other books I can fit in around the edges. I have 9 ongoing craft projects that I intend to complete this year. I have 128 seasons of TV shows and 308 movies on the “to watch” list. Some people have real hobbies. I have making and completing lists.