the barefoot budget

unconventional grit for a mindful life

The Crazy Life

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ct WW

I took four days off work hoping for a little rest after a stressful month of January. If you read this blog, you know me, and rest has been far away. I’ve been struggling with creating downtime in my life over the last year. I figured I needed rest and relaxation, given that work stresses me out and in general makes me want to run away. I’ve been fighting that never ending urge to go-go-go. But you know what? Production is my art. To be crude (and steal the name of a favorite book), making shit and doing things is how I interact with this world, as my truest self.

Even though I’m often weary, I’m a high energy individual. I’m not made to sit still. I’m not made to sleep late, to sip tea and watch movies, to take baths. I’m made to have dirt under my fingernails (shoutout to Katy!), to knick my hands and shins up, to not sit down for 12 hours straight. I’ve been fighting that in the name of my mental health and relationship (Andrew’s a low energy individual). Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with relaxing (wish I could do it more) – but I think trying to force myself out of the habits that make me ME is creating stress in my life. I keep telling myself I’ll have time to rest when I’m retired.

So what if I didn’t score the staycation I was hoping for. The last three days off work have been a trip.

I finished Yoga Camp with my own SteenMusic playlist. Damn it felt good to rock out some warrior flow while listening to Animal Collective, Deerhoof, and the Flaming Lips.

I ran the hilliest four miles in a long time, weaving through downtown on a Thursday afternoon. I felt like a gazelle and instead of being sore and tired, I was invigorated afterwards.

I made toothpaste, dish soap, toilet bowl cleaner, and disinfectant, mixing and matching baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils like a scientist. I cleaned the house top to bottom while catching up on Serial and The Survival Podcast. I laid on my back on the floor when I was done, spread out like a starfish, taking in the clean smells and spotless carpet.

I bought a chest freezer off Craigslist (to turn into a fermentation/ lagering chamber) and tried to pick it up in my sedan. Ha! Luckily the woman who sold it to me was kind enough to use her pickup to drop it off at a nearby park (that I manage) so I could stash it in the garage to pick up later. Who the hell knows how I’m gonna get it home, but I’m already teaching myself basic electrical wiring so I can hack it with a temperature regulator.

I procured real food. What a beautiful sight a cart full of only produce can be. There’s nothing like coming home to put everything up. Your fridge is chocked full of raw, unprocessed plants and your counters are lined with the colors of the rainbow – yellow lemons, green avocados, orange sweet potatoes, brown onions, red tomatoes. It’s a feast for the eyes.

I cleaned out our spare room and began assembling my seed starting setup with the shop lights I scored on sale at Home Depot. I flipped through my seed catalogs and daydreamed about the soon-to-be lush green shelves.

I baked sourdough bread, fed my worms, made veggie stock from the scraps I’ve been saving for weeks, whipped up a batch of fermented salsa, rinsed my sprouts, and cooked the dankest tofu and kale bowl with peanut sauce. I spent more hours in my kitchen than I’ve been able to for weeks, moving from counter to counter, making art with my knives and hands.

I volunteered with a habitat restoration project at a park that’s overrun with even invasive species in this region. We saved trees from wisteria cables, and my nose was cold the whole time in the brisk morning air.

I’m getting ready to pack up and head into the big city for a day and a half of board gaming, running, and Super Bowl watching. This life’s a whirlwind. But I wouldn’t have it any other damn way and I’m done trying to slow myself down because that’s what self help books tell me to do. I’m still trying to practice mindfulness and slow down the moments during my day. I’ve found that’s a good way for me to relax – not by physically stopping working. You only get one shot, and I don’t look back fondly on the nights spent watching TV or laying around the house. I look back on the impossible mornings, the crazy afternoons, and the nights where I don’t stop until 10 PM. I crack a beer and feel alive even thought my back feels like it’s gonna give out, and even muscle in my body is sore. In those moments I don’t have time for thoughts – all I can do is feel what it’s like to be alive.

3 thoughts on “The Crazy Life

  1. I love it. It sounds like a wonderful week! Relaxation is a state of not being tense. Not the ability to do nothing for long periods. My Mister is also a more laid back individual. He is always telling me to sit down. So I went back to writing! You are living a beautiful life.

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  2. Now that is making the most of your time! Way to go! And I agree with you – forcing yourself to do something (be it relaxation or what have you) just for the sake of saying “I did this” generally leads to the opposite of productivity, and also does add stress. As long as it’s not something that’s physically harming your body, then go till you (figuratively haha) drop! I think it’s great that you recognize you’re at your best when being active (whether it’s physically active or just engaged in a project) and take the steps to embrace that!

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  3. That sounds like my dream “staycation”. Not sitting around and doing nothing, but doing all the stuff that I want to do. Glad you enjoyed it. Hope you’re feeling good and your battery is recharged.

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