My blog was down for a couple months again, so I posted this on my Tumblr on March 9, 2015. Transferring it here for posterity. :)
I am nearly 24 hours into a 3-day fast. The seed was planted during an episode of House of Cards, where a gay man imprisoned in Russia for speaking about homosexuality mentioned that he had gone on a food strike, but only lasted 6 days before the hunger was too strong, and I wondered, “Could I go 6 days without eating?” I Googled it, and the seed grew into a sprout. There are health benefits to fasting. Being raised a Christian, I am familiar with religious fasting. Even Kafka’s “The Hunger Artist” crossed my mind while I was researching fasting.
So I am fasting for 3 reasons: emotional/spiritual, health, and pure curiosity.
I’ve long thought I had a weird relationship with food. Whether because of my habits or some physiological reason, I am ALWAYS hungry. It doesn’t seem to matter if I eat 6 small meals throughout the day, 3 meals, more natural/less processed foods, or all processed foods, I am always thinking about food. I have even tried banishing thirst as a cause by making sure that I am drinking enough water throughout the day—for the month of February, I drank 128 ounces of water almost every single day. No dice; still hungry all the time.
Even right after I eat, I still usually feel hunger pangs, and this has always baffled me. Something is wrong between my stomach and my brain.
So I am hoping that regular, purposeful fasting can reset that connection or retrain me.
There are some possible health benefits to fasting, but if you are interested in those, just Google “health benefits of fasting.” There is no need for me to write about them here.
Finally, because of my aforementioned constant hunger, I am curious to see what it is like to avoid eating for an extended period of time. I decided to start with three days because I think I would like to ease into a longer fast by transitioning in and out of it, something I read about on one of the “health benefits of fasting” Google result pages. I’d like to cut out processed foods for several days before and after the longer fast, but I wanted to try fasting right away.
So far, it is going well. I am noticing some of the triggers of eating (not necessarily “hunger”) that exist in my life. I am focusing on filling the time I would be eating with thoughtful consideration of what I am hankering for, with thinking about what else can fill me up spiritually. And I think I have kept my hangry under control, too. (Hangry is a state that I know is caused by low blood sugar, but I also believe is connected to my relationship with food.)
It might sound like it, but the post title is not a promise to write every day of this fast. I might, but I also might need to let the lessons I learn ripen before I’m ready to write about it again.
I truly love my job, I really do. I love the
people I work with, I love the people I work for, I love that I get to a ton of different tasks every day. Regardless of all of that, some days, I just do not feel like working. But I’m an adult, and adults have to do things they don’t want to some times. Here’s what I do when I don’t want to work to get back in the groove and get things done.
1. Make a List
I love making lists anyway, but sometimes the reasons I don’t want to work is that I am just too overwhelmed with all of the tasks I need to accomplish that day. Making a list and prioritizing those tasks helps me focus that sense of being overwhelmed.
As far as prioritizing goes, there are a couple methods I use, depending on my mood. One is to “do the worst first,” or eat a live frog first for breakfast, to borrow an idea from Mark Twain:
Author Brian Tracy calls this “eating your frog,” quoting Mark Twain. Twain famously said that if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Your frog is your worst task, and you should do it first thing in the morning.
I will do this when there are one or two tasks that I have already put off for a couple days. They go at the top of my list with a big “1” or “2” next to them, and I turn off my email and ignore as much else as I can while I work to get those things done. Afterwards, I feel so accomplished and the rest of the day is easy.
The other method is to stack 2-3 super easy tasks at the top of the list so that you can mark them off quickly and feel that sense of accomplishment fast. This can also rev your productivity, because once you feel like you’ve done something, it’s easier to keep doing!
2. Clean Off Your Desk
I tend to have that one pile of notes and envelopes that usually belong somewhere else, and clutter in my workspace constantly gnaws at me, distracting me by simply existing. Sometimes, when I don’t feel like working, I’ll take that pile and work through it right away. Everything that just needs to be filed gets filed. If a note is something I jotted down on a scrap piece of paper while I was on the phone or away from my desk, it gets put on my To Do list or in Remember the Milk. If it is information that I will need later, I will record that information where it belongs. The goal is to throw away or file every item in that pile so my desk is clean and I can think clearly again.
3. Turn on Some Music
Nothing has the power to affect my mood more than music. Sometimes I need jazz or classical or upbeat pop, but turning on the tunes I need helps soften my mood and gets me moving again. Sometimes, I’ll use a song as a timer, and try to get my task done before it’s over or before two songs have passed (however long I think I’ll need).
4. Take a Break
When my energy lags later in the day, sometimes it is because I need a mental break. I rarely step away from my desk for lunch, so occasionally I need to take a walk around the block or go sit in our conference room with a book or game on my phone for 15 minutes and just not think about work. Sometimes, I will close the door and lie on the floor and meditate or do deep breathing exercises. Or maybe I will get in my car and drive around and listen to music really loud with the windows down. Whatever I do, the goal is to get away from my desk and away from work to give my mind a break. I’ll return feeling refreshed and re-focused on the tasks of the day.
Sometimes, there is a reason that I do not feel like working. Maybe something in my personal life is stressing me out. Maybe there is a project at work that I am nervous about or have a vague understanding about.
So I will stop and try to pinpoint why I am feeling the way I am, and then I will take a few minutes to deal with it. If my personal life is getting at me, writing helps me process. I will get out a pen and piece of paper and write it all down, get it out of my head, and maybe solve some of my problems in the process. If it’s work-related, I will gather the information I need to understand the project better or go talk to the person who can clarify for me (usually my boss).
The goal here is to identify the hold up and deal with it.
Due to a WordPress plug-in failure, I have been locked out of my blog for a long time, but today, I figured out how to get around it, and I have access again! I can’t promise that I will become a blogging maniac now, but there are things I want to say and words I want to write, and now I have my place to do that again!
Last week, I posted about death cafes and how, at 31, I am not afraid of death. I actually wrote that post on March 8, and five days later, one of my high school classmates, along with another Neosho High School graduate, died in a car accident in Indiana.
When I found out, all I could think was “Too young, he was too young to die.”
I will never know how Brad felt about dying, but even though we didn’t stay in close contact after high school, it seemed like he was doing a good job of Living, and he had always been good at pursuing his passions and playing to his strengths, in high school, at the very least.
After the shock wore off that someone I had spent hours making jazz with, someone who had been in most of my classes, someone who had been in my wider circle of friends, had left this earth, I started thinking about his family, and I remembered all that my grandpa, aunts, and uncles had had to take care of when Grandma died. I remember the mundane details that simultaneously didn’t matter one bit in the face of the loss we were all feeling, but yet seemed to matter so much because they would be our last way of showing Grandma we loved her and to honor the amazing, joy-filled life she had lived before Alzheimer’s disease corrupted her sweet, spunky personality. I remember swearing that my loved ones would not have to struggle with those details, and I remember that not long after Grandma passed away, I found MyWonderfulLife.com. Continue reading
Today, I heard a piece on NPR about death cafes, a place where people can come together to contemplate their mortality. The reporter said, “The fear of death haunts us like nothing else. And it makes sense. All other fears — such as public speaking, centipedes and heights — pale in comparison. So we don’t really talk about it.”
I am not afraid of death.