It Was My Birthday!

Today was the 44th anniversary of my birth; my 44th revolution around the sun. It was rather uneventful, which was nice. I spent it doing what I do most Saturdays– a combination of relaxing and being productive.

The project I took on was something I thought would only take a couple of hours, but it took literally all day long. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but I bumped it up to high priority after receiving several “sextortion” spam/scam emails listing not one, but two passwords I’ve used regularly on many websites. The fact that they claim to have video of me masturbating while watching porn and will send it to all of my contacts if I don’t give them money doesn’t bother me one bit. Even if such a video did exist, which it doesn’t… *shrug*… I only view porn on my phone and in the dark, so there would be nothing to see! Haha. No, it was the combination of those passwords being sent to me and Facebook’s latest security breach that made me re-prioritize my Saturday (I was going to wash my sheets and winterize the patio).

I didn’t just change passwords, oh no. I decided that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right and de-clutter while I’m at it. I still have a giant pile of unorganized bookmarks, but I’m going to let that one go. I organized my bookmarks toolbar when I was done, and that’s going to have to be good enough. Here’s what I did:

  • Deleted all images from all websites where I sold them printed on products.
  • Closed/deleted all of those accounts.
  • Changed passwords on all of the websites I visit frequently.
  • Changed passwords then disabled/deleted a whole slew of social networking sites.
  • Double-checked security settings on banking sites and email.
  • Updated my security settings on Facebook.
  • Enabled 2-factor authentication on every single website I frequent that offers it– and not SMS– I’m using an app.
  • Cleaned up the bookmarks toolbar in Chrome.
  • Froze my credit reports with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. I also requested a freeze from Innovis.

I’m now using 2-factor authentication for Gmail, Facebook, Dropbox, Yahoo, DocuSign, Amazon, TeamViewer, and Newegg. I’m OK with the credit freezes because it’s free now, and I’m at a point where I won’t be applying for any new credit for quite some time.

All the Sites I Got Rid Of (disabled/closed/deleted)

  • CafePress
  • Zazzle
  • RedBubble
  • Etsy
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Two extra Facebook accounts
  • Two Google+ accounts
  • MapMyFitness
  • Tumblr
  • Snapchat
  • last.fm
  • OkCupid
  • MyFitnessPal
  • TripAdvisor
  • Redfin
  • Blogspot

What I Kept

  • Flickr (Where my best photos are, but I mostly ignore the social media aspect of the site.)
  • Facebook, but only the website; it’s still uninstalled from my phone (Deleting my account is very tempting, but I’ll stick with once a month for now.)
  • Facebook Messenger (So friends and family can still get a hold of me via phone if they don’t want to text me the old fashioned way.)
  • Goodreads (I ignore the social media aspect of this site as well.)
  • Fitbit (Not much of a time suck, very little social interaction, and I like the data.)
  • Strava (A fitness app for data nerds, not much social interaction goes on here.)
  • LiveJournal (It’s still active, but dormant and there’s nothing to see.)
  • Instagram (Where I am most often now.)

This may have taken all day, but I think it’s going to give me a ton more peace of mind, knowing that there is a lot less of my data on the Internet to steal. Fewer neglected accounts hanging around out there feels good as well.

I’ve been reading a book called Focus and I suppose this is one of the steps to simplifying my life. We got a little too excited about the Internet, then let it take over our lives. I am reading the news and keeping up on what’s going on. I’m just not reading the whole world’s opinions on it now and that is fucking fantastic.

One thing that’s been quite an adjustment is not sharing. Not sharing videos, links, photos, every little thing I do and every thought that goes through my head… it’s all for me now. Doing things for my own enjoyment and not for attention, validation, or approval is… different. I think it’s healthy.

Progress

Project ‘Get More Free Time’ is underway!

Tonight I stepped down from the HOA board of directors. What a relief that was. Earlier this week I deleted my Twitter account. I also stopped logging meals on MyFitnessPal. I still haven’t been on Facebook and don’t plan on it until 10/15. Even then it will only be for a short time. I’ve been so much happier without it.

I’ve still been fairly busy, but things should start slowing down now. I also decided not to try dating again because that’s another time suck I don’t need, at least not for a good long while.

Reasons Not To Date

  • Online dating is soul-crushing.
  • Ghosting is rampant because no one has any backbone or respect for other people anymore.
  • Too many men want only sex.
  • Too many men refuse to wear condoms and we have a fucking STD epidemic in this country (Syphilis in particular in my area). Gross. Just… no.
  • Everyone only wants to eat dinner, have drinks, then have sex (without a condom). They never want to do anything else.
  • The aforementioned gets too expensive (especially the STD testing) and involves too many calories.
  • Too many single men my age are fresh out of long-term relationships and are either looking for a replacement for the woman who dumped them or the opposite of the one they dumped. They have no idea what they really want.
  • Not enough men have sufficient self respect, drive, and ambition. They have no desire to improve themselves, but they expect women to be a certain height, weight, and level of education and activity.
  • I either fall too hard too fast and scare them off, or the reverse happens. There never seems to be a balance of attraction between me and anyone.
  • Dating always feels too much like a chore and an imposition on my time.

So what am I doing with my time? I get up early! My alarm goes off at 4:30am. I roll out of bed around 5-5:30, and either go for a run in my neighborhood or to the gym. I have a training plan I’m trying to stick with. Then I go to work. I show up there around 8-8:15. I get off at 5-5:15. If it’s a Monday or Wednesday I go home, get Dylan, and take him to school. I wait there at the school while he’s in class, until 8:20. Then we go home and I go to bed. In the evening I cook dinner, clean the litter box, and do the dishes. Thursday nights are for grocery shopping. Friday nights are for household chores (to free up the weekend). Saturday mornings are long runs. Sundays are free/rest days.

It’s not as if I suddenly have a lot more free time. In fact, Tuesdays are my only free weekday evenings at home now. I’m just trying to use what time I do have more wisely. Rather than being on social media during my lunch I’m reading, stretching in the gym at work, or going for walks. While I wait for Dylan at school, I read. Evenings at home, I blog and read.

Speaking of which, I’m going to go read now. I’m almost done with my second book this month! 🙂

When You Realize Time Is Just as Important as Money

Ignoring the 1% hoarding most of it, there is plenty of money in the world. We can earn it by going to work every day, picking up a second job, or just selling some things we don’t need anymore. Money is hard to come by, but for what most of us need (not want), it’s an infinite resource (if only it were easily accessible). Time, on the other hand, is a finite resource. We do say, after a bad movie, “I want that two hours of my life back!” but we can’t get it back. We waste so much time on things that are a complete waste. We waste it being frustrated, stressed out, or just doing menial tasks. We waste it dawdling. We waste it on a lot of unnecessary things, knowing full well that we all have a limited amount of time alive and, as we age, our quality of life declines. So why do we waste so much time?

Many people in the United States make New Year’s resolutions on New Year’s Day. They vow to quit bad habits, pick up healthy ones, save money, etc. I’m glad people use it as a way to make positive changes in their lives, but to me it’s an arbitrary new beginning. We can make positive changes every day if we choose to do so. I enjoy January 1st as a day to say, “How many miles can I run this year?” Or maybe next year it’ll be, “How many books can I read this year?” But to me, January 1st is maybe just a day to go snowshoeing since I have it off.

My “New Year,” the day I spend in quiet contemplation and introspection, set new goals, and reflect on the past 365 days, is coming up in two weeks: my birthday. Each year on my birthday I’m only one day older than the previous day, but knowing that I’m inching closer and closer to 50, or even 45, is… unsettling.

Anyway. It’s hard to get out of bed every day. I’m always late for work (they don’t care, but I do). Even if I can manage to get out of bed when my alarm goes off, there’s surprise cat puke to clean up. There’s surprise cat pee to clean up. There’s a fucking spider somewhere that needs killing, which for me, is quite an ordeal. There’s a dishwasher that needs emptying, trash that needs to be taken out, etc. There’s always something. I always feel like I’m in a deficit of time. Even after giving up Facebook all but one out of every 28 days, I still feel short on time. I would ask Dylan to help with the household chores, but I have this worry: Will I still be able to handle all of the housework myself after Dylan moves out and I’m old and alone? So to make sure I can… I do. I should ask him to help with daily chores to free up my time for other, more major projects, but I’m not quite there yet. Anyway, I want him to focus on school.

Because I did grow up in abject poverty and was a single parent and so poor for so many years, I’m adept at budgeting money. I suck at budgeting time. Managing my time is something I need to do better. I do have a decent amount of free time on weekends, and compared to some people I know who overextend themselves, I’m doing OK. However, I think I could do better and I need to do it in the name of “self care.”

Purging my email inboxes and taking the time to unsubscribe from all the useless emails was just the first step. Next came not using Facebook. That has freed up a lot of time. The next thing I’m going to do is make sure I don’t get on the HOA board of directors for next year. The emails flood my inbox, the attitudes are toxic, the meetings are stressful because of the negativity of certain members, and I just don’t have the time to devote to it.

Other things I need to be mindful of are chores. I need to let the dishes pile up in the sink once in a while because rinsing them takes just as much time whether there’s four or fifteen. I could only check my email once a week and the world wouldn’t end. I need to clean the litter box after dinner and let the clean dishes sit there in the morning and empty the dishwasher while dinner is cooking. I need to space chores out and multitask better. I should run in the morning and stretch or walk at lunch. I could even do strength training at lunch.

I think the key thing here, though, is to resolve to keep my calendar clear with the exception of doctor, dentist, etc. appointments and races. Don’t commit to anything but what’s necessary for good health both physically and emotionally.

Unnecessary things to do less of, overall

  • Facebook (biggest time suck ever).
  • Mindless scrolling on other social media like Instagram and Twitter (and even Strava).
  • Hitting the snooze button.
  • Researching every symptom, ache, and pain on Google because for me, Google is a rabbit hole.
  • I think it’s finally time to stop logging all of my food on MyFitnessPal and just be more mindful of what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat it.

Necessary things to do less frequently

  • Checking email (once a day is enough).
  • Loading the dishwasher (once a day is enough).
  • Emptying trash and recycling (once a week is enough).
  • Making my bed so neatly (I do this every morning and don’t want to stop, but maybe I could just throw the covers back over and call it good and only make it neatly after I wash the sheets).

Things to do at different times

  • Empty the dishwasher while dinner is cooking to free up time in the morning and evening.
  • Clean the litter box after dinner to free up time in the morning.
  • Hands need washing after litter cleaning, so use this time to load the dishwasher.
  • Take out the trash and recycling every Friday night after doing the usual laundry, vacuuming, and paying bills. Check snail mail first so the junk goes right out with the recycling.
  • Start taking my 15-minute breaks at work and use the morning break to read/respond to/unsubscribe from/delete personal emails and make any necessary phone calls.
  • Use my afternoon work breaks to check in with Dylan.
  • I used to spend my lunch hour on Facebook. Now I can use that time to get some quick strength training in, a short walk, some stretching, or just read a book. (We have a small gym with some equipment at work, so I don’t have to leave the building for a simple workout.)
  • Continue to do grocery shopping on Thursdays so we’re stocked up for the weekend, but I’m not burdened by it on a Friday night.
  • Keep Sundays free with the exception of the occasional race so that I can run Saturday and rest Sunday.
  • Do my long runs early every Saturday morning (and maybe food prep) and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Notice the trend is to get everything done during the week so as to free up the weekend, but spread it out so I’m not so overwhelmed and exhausted throughout the work week that I’m too tired to do anything all weekend.

Things to do more of, overall

  • Writing handwritten letters to family.
  • Writing in general.
  • Continuing education.
  • Reading for pleasure.
  • Getting out of bed when my alarm goes off.
  • Sticking to my training plan; exercising harder, not longer– and with purpose.
  • Healthy eating (cooking dinner more often as opposed to canned stew, chili, or cold cereal for dinner).
  • Leisurely walks (in the rain).
  • Hiking for pleasure, not fitness (also in the rain).
  • More being, less doing. Spending a few minutes each day just sitting quietly and observing my surroundings and my thoughts.
  • Nature photography, but only as a hobby (in the rain!)
  • Having meaningful relationships with people.
  • Doing a kick-ass job at work and adulting like a motherfucker, but outside of work and during free time– keeping my sense of humor, staying young at heart, and playing as hard as I work.
  • When I feel I’m ready– purging unused items from my home and selling those with value for some extra cash.

I think I’m doing OK where finances are concerned. That is, I don’t have much money, but I’m not out squandering what little I have on booze, either. We hardly ever eat out. I’m drug-free, don’t smoke, and I’ve even been conserving gas. I am broke, but it’s not because I’m spending foolishly. It’s because I buy a lot of healthy food, feed two people and two cats, and I’m paying down student loan and credit card debt (from when I had to get my car fixed after hitting a coworker). I’ve spent a lot of money on running gear and races as well, but that will be winding down as I sign up for fewer races and my shoes still have a lot of miles left on them. Next year’s summer vacation won’t be in a national park, either. I’m thinking of going camping somewhere nearby to keep costs low.

I feel like I have a good handle on my health, home, family, and finances. Time is the biggest issue now, and how I spend it. Time needs to be spent more efficiently, more wisely, more mindfully, and with people who are a positive influence and just as motivated as I am. Those people are hard to find, which I suppose is why I don’t have many friends. I think I probably come across as elitist to most people because I loathe anti-intellectualism; want to feed my mind with intelligently written material; want to surround myself with positive and motivated people; bounce ideas, goals, and encouragement back and forth with those people, and realize that time and good health are things we can’t get back once they’re gone.

When my kids were little and screamed in the grocery store, meddling middle-aged women would give me their unsolicited opinions and advice (“pick him up,” “take him home,” etc.) I told them to fuck off. The reason I told them to fuck off was because 1) I was a single parent and when the hell would I get anything done if I kept my kids home all the time? and 2) I knew that to get the kids to stop screaming every day and in every situation, I needed to ignore the negative behavior and reinforce the positive behavior every day and in every situation. I took my kids out in various public places on purpose to get them used to what type of behavior is expected in public. On the days that my boys didn’t scream at the store, I bought them a Hot Wheels car. The days they did, I ignored them. Over time, they learned to stop screaming.

My point with this is, I may have looked like a jerk and a horrible mother during that 30 minutes of screaming (just like I look like a jerk when I complain about memes and mindless sharing of political posts on Facebook), but I didn’t care because I was the one to have to take those kids home with me and endure screaming every day and in every situation. So if someone thinks I’m elitist because I want to associate with intellectualism, positivity, and motivation– and people who are intelligent, positive, and motivated– so be it.

I am the one who has to go home with me and be alone with me every day and in every situation. I need to be comfortable with that because I’ve already lived through at least half of my life expectancy.

Anyway, I can learn a lot more about politics, history, and what’s going on in the world by reading a book than with a Twitter screenshot on Facebook. Reading increases vocabulary, strengthens spelling and grammar skills, and has also been tied to developing better empathy. You can’t go wrong with putting down the phone, getting off the computer, and picking up a book. I grew up poor, so reading books and playing outside in lieu of watching TV was just a way of life (coincidentally [or not] I got super stellar grades in school). I think it’s time to go back to the basics, at least for most of my days. Life has become too complicated and too busy and we’re all way too accessible.