The Re-Set

It's hard to believe that August is already here. Every single month I tell myself, "Next month will be different! Next month I'll tackle that project! Next month I'll get ahead!"

Cut to next month and I'm scrambling just the same as always, wondering where the hell the time went. I'm behind the ball before I can blink. 

Lately here at School of Home we've been doing themes that both give some direction to this website and allow us to build and practice new habits and hone old skills. A few days ago we decided to throw out August's theme in favor of a new one - the re-set.

Sometimes you just need a blank slate!

Sometimes you just need a blank slate!

I am firm believer in the power of the re-set. Sometimes its important to clear the decks, take stock, and start fresh. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, bogged down with projects, pressed against deadlines, and faced with to-do lists that only grow, give yourself the benefit of a re-set. It can last a day, a week, or even a month. 

Here are three key ways to have a successful re-set:

  1. Make the time. Put up an out-of-office, turn off your phone, step away from Facebook, cancel or reschedule meetings. This works particularly well for short re-sets and gives you the mental and physical space to truly take stock of what you have before you. 
  2. Purge. That pile of papers you thought were important but have been sitting on your desk, unused and un-looked-at for three months? Shred them. A sweater you haven't worn in a year? Donate it. Clear off your workspace completely (whether that's a desk, kitchen, or coffee table) and only put back what is absolutely necessary. The simple mental comfort that will come from working in a clean and tidy space will be totally worth it.
  3. Triage. Look at your life as a trauma doctor would - sort tasks and projects into categories based on importance. One of Harper's favorite ways of doing task triage is to utilize the Important/Urgent Matrix. Divide your tasks into each of the four boxes. Note that while Quadrant 1 may seem the most pressing (house on fire), Quadrant 2 is actually where your key tasks lie. After putting out the fires throw yourself into you Q2 tasks. Plan for them, put things on the calendar, strategize and brain storm. Delegate or delete items from Q3, and just plain erase anything in Q4. I recently deleted Snapchat after realizing how often I was checking it and what little value it actually brought to my life. A total Q4, not-important, not-urgent item. 

Once you've made the time, purged and organized, and triaged your tasks and projects, you'll be able to start with a fresh slate. You may be the kind of person who needs to re-set once or twice a month or you may truly only need to do this once a year. Whatever the case may be, allow yourself the re-set rather than continue to forge ahead through the chaos and confusion. That extra time you take now to get things in order will be worth double or triple when you start back up.

So that's what we're doing in August, we're working on our re-set. Between the two of us we have at least half a dozen different projects going on, in addition to a house that is in desperate need of a good deep cleaning. We're going to take some time, we're going to purge things both physical and mental, and we're going to triage all that we have in front of us. 

We will be back in September to report on our re-set, but in the meantime you can always follow along with us on Instagram @schoolofhome or on our Facebook page.

We also want to hear from you - have you ever tried a re-set? What are some of your tips for taking stock of your life and getting organized? Leave us a comment!

Maybe check into a hotel room for a staycation re-set? 

Maybe check into a hotel room for a staycation re-set? 

A Week of Health with a Patient Heart

I failed to persist in sticking with healthy habits this past June: The first three weeks of our trip to Europe saw me feeling great and losing enough weight to fit into my tuxedo. The second three weeks saw a return of the unhealthy habits I’d developed over previous years, as well as a return of the weight. (And then some.) I blame it on Italy! I blame it on the travel!

Wine! Pasta! Tempura vegetables! Wine! Florence, I love you I hate you. 

Wine! Pasta! Tempura vegetables! Wine! Florence, I love you I hate you. 

Admittedly, Italian food and wine are delicious, and the last half of the trip was go go go. (Staying healthy on the road is tough; it’s something I obviously need to work on.) But ultimately I am responsible.

I was upset and disappointed, and I still am. I tend to be unnecessarily harsh on myself, so I’ve decided to re-explore last month’s theme of persistence, this time with a more patient heart. I'm learning that, for me, true and lasting perseverance can only be accomplished with patience. 

I’m a person who might start, say, a health program and then veer off the path after a couple of weeks. I think I've mentioned that part of my problem is an all-or-nothing mentality. If I miss a day, well, then, To hell with it.

I am working on this in a variety of ways, such as trying to take on my goals in smaller bites: week by week. Being more forgiving of myself: if I miss a day, then get back on track without the guilt trip. Reflecting on body memory: to remember how great I feel--physically and mentally--when I am being healthy and then to strive again for that feeling. Realizing that there doesn't always have to be a time frame: just because I dropped my big health endeavor over a month ago doesn’t mean I can’t try again now. I can be accountable while also being patient. And it seems with each trial, I learn something about myself, I get a little better. Even if I seem to have fallen a little lower, I've set the bar a little higher... I know I can get there. 

In fact, I am on day six of a 30-day yoga challenge; I started the challenge over forty days ago. The next time I practice yoga, I’ll move on to day seven. This is a particular exercise for me, though, and I'm doing it to prove a point to myself, to give a finger to that all-or-nothing mentality. The challenge is 30 days of yoga, not 30 days of yoga in 30 days. 

This is why we're doing our week of light detox, because it's about recognizing issues around, e.g., portion control and that if, say, I have a couple of drinks, I'm more likely to overeat. The more I exercise, the more I feel inclined to exercise again. But if I have several drinks, I'm less likely to be active the next day. And then I discovered that when I do exercise consistently, I can more easily bounce back from a few drinks the night before and go exercise again. So it all comes full circle: Justification for drinking. Only kidding.  

In all honesty, we're only three days into the week, and it's been fairly easy so far. We love wine, but we don't really miss it. Our meals have been not too far off from what we'd normally cook. It seems we just need to be more conscientious, enhance to healthy and reduce the unhealthy.

I'm already learning that it's ultimately about recognizing these patterns and connections. It's learning to moderate so that I can enjoy a healthy, balanced life. I'm hoping this week will jumpstart a new period and help lead to the lifestyle that is best for us. I don't necessarily want to be "Cut, like Marble." I just want to feel better in my own mind and body. 



Ramblings on Patience

Patience: A minor form of despair, disguised as virtue.
— Ambrose Bierce 
Samson is, without a doubt, one of the greatest aids on my path to forbearance. 

Samson is, without a doubt, one of the greatest aids on my path to forbearance. 

Our theme this month is patience. It stands on its own, but I’ve realized that it shares connections with and similarities to those we’ve already considered: Courage and perseverance.*

A professor once asked the class about fear and bravery. I can’t remember her exact words, but I responded: One cannot have courage or bravery without fear or uncertainty. In a similar vein, one cannot have patience without something getting one’s goat. There must be a stressor: A moment or period of despair through or by which we can practice our forbearance, accept the issue--resolve it when we can--, and, ideally, forego complaint throughout the process. 

Furthermore, patience is in part the postponing of instant gratification, which my generation and those after me esteem so highly, and understandably so. It’s tough submitting something and waiting for the results. (“Did you grade my paper,” says the student five minutes after turning it in.) It’s terrifying making a mistake and knowing that the ramifications are coming. But I can decide to accept those results when they appear and limit the amount of stress I feel about them in the meantime. Or at least I hope to be able to. 

I have found myself becoming a little more irritable over the years. Especially at the Paris airport, CDG: I'm automatically at an 8+ on the scale. Wolverine claws are out and venom's on the tongue. (It’s not yet time for me to enter my curmudgeon stage of life!) I’m also a person who frets and overthinks my words and actions. Worrying can be good. Without it, I’d not care much about myself, my responsibilities, the performance of the business, etc. But excessive worrying about things I can’t presently help is counterproductive, and it's that type that often occupies my mind. I get worked up, but I know it doesn’t serve me in the long run. I’d prefer to worry, take action or accept that I can't, and move on. (Or to worry, know I’ll take action, and fall back asleep.)  It’s so easy for me to say, much harder for me to practice. 

Yes, I need to work on my patience, external and internal. It is with this mindset that I will set out to accept more easily things that are out of my control and deal correctly with the things that are in it. I plan to take time to meditate, to breathe, to consider as objectively as possible the problems, issues, people, etc. that come my way… To deal with them patiently and most effectively, knowing that there may not be an immediate or perfect solution.

(Samson, yes. And Seamus, too!)

(Samson, yes. And Seamus, too!)

This is the lesson I want to learn this month. It’s a lesson I’ve not done terribly well with. But I’m ready to take it on.

Be patient with us as we explore patience this month. 

Me, patiently waiting for Matt to take a picture. 

Me, patiently waiting for Matt to take a picture. 




 *Matt and I are taking a week to get back on track: We’re going sans booze, drinking a gallon of water a day, eating healthier, and meditating daily. You can read a bit about my thoughts on patience and perseverance in a forthcoming blog post. Please check back!


A Week of R&R... That is, Reset and Recharge.

Matt and I decided over the weekend that we need to reset ourselves: Eastern Europe, visiting friends, wine dinners and tastings, the 4th at the beach... There's been a lot of overindulging in food and drink. So we've committed to a week with these restrictions and requirements:

  • No booze for me (unless at a professional tasting, and then I’ll spit); low booze for Matt, 
  • Gallon of water a day,
  • Whole food diet with a focus on varied fruits and veggies, 
  • No refined carbs, 
  • Limited natural sweeteners,
  • Consistent exercise or, better for the purposes of this week, activeness,
  • and Daily Meditation.
Oysters are allowed, thank goodness! 

Oysters are allowed, thank goodness! 

You might recognize it: I completed a similar but pared down goal two weeks before leaving for Croatia. It went well, and it helped set the stage for those first three successful weeks of health and weight loss there. (The second three weeks, not so much. I'll talk about that and my need for patience in perseverance a little later on.) This week will serve similar purposes: Providing a light detox from the past couple of months, allowing us to recognize habits, and again laying the foundations for better and continued success. To wit, observe, feel good and regain energy, and get back on track. 

We will fill you in along the way with daily highlights (and probably disappointments) on Instagram and at the end with a brief post summarizing the week and giving you our daily menus with recipes (if they are any good). And, yes, there will be desserts, just not cakes and cookies.

Lightly baked strawberries with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and cracked pepper.  Put these over a little crème fraîche... 

Lightly baked strawberries with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and cracked pepper.  Put these over a little crème fraîche... 

This has the potential to be wonderful. It also may be tough. This challenge will call for more planning and focus in order to prepare food with a lot of variety every day, especially since we'll be posting about the week.  We’ll likely eat most of our meals in, but when we do go out, we will navigate menus with more conscientiousness. It will mean a seltzer with lime or a mocktail if we meet up with friends for drinks. It may also mean reflecting on and changing how we usually spend our time with friends: Do we have to meet up for drinks or might we rendezvous at the dog park? And along these lines, I will continue reconsidering what I think exercise is and re-exploring those physical activities I used to like. 

A little too south and warm for snowshoeing these days, but you get the idea. 

A little too south and warm for snowshoeing these days, but you get the idea. 

Now, I know we could avoid dinners with friends, restaurants, and all that good stuff. I had thought about it myself: A Week of Hiding. But one point of the challenge is to think about sustainability and compatibility with our lifestyle in order to incorporate more readily these practices into our lives for good. See how we feel this week and then adjust accordingly next week, and so on. There will be little benefit in becoming hermits, because that is not how we live or want to live. We will continue doing the things we love to do, but more moderately and selectively. 

This project will also call for daily reflection and plenty of attention to School of Home, which, considering Vinotopia and the work involved there, sometimes can be difficult. Additionally, we both feel that we haven’t quite adjusted back to life here in the USA; we've been in a sort of daze and a little stagnant. This week will help reset us there, too. It will be a practice in organizing, planning, and persevering. And it will be a practice in patience with each other and with ourselves. 

Oh! and along with getting healthier, we hope to save money and to feel good about that, and we also hope to reduce our food waste with better food prep and thought.

Please join us this week. We encourage you to share your thoughts on self, patience, perseverance, health and progress.