Being exhausted

Right now I am exhausted. Tired enough to fall asleep on the sofa in the afternoon, or on the bus on the way home. So tired I’m struggling to get up in the morning, I’m getting in to work late, and I’m low on patience or care.

Basically, I’m doing too much. 

In the simple/slow/minimalist blogs I read ‘saying no’ and stopping ‘busyness’ is pretty big. There’s lots of folk talking about slowing down and avoiding the overwhelm that is often modern Anglophone life. I thought I had a pretty good handle on my time, and that I wasn’t falling into that place. I mean, I only work part time!

Evidently I was wrong. This last month has been steadily too much, and I’m now in a place where I’m having to slash back at my commitments. Part of me feels guilty about this. I ‘only’ work part time. Surely I should be able to handle a few late nights? I try and correct this thought by listing out all the things I do: Primary job every morning, hour and a half to two hours travel every day, then second job and dance class Monday until 10pm, therapy Tuesday afternoon, training to volunteer with a charity until 9:30pm Wednesday (then more travel), college until 9pm Thursday (and travel). 

Does that sound like a lot? Sometimes it does to me, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m really aware how long days and nights are some people’s normal. And then I feel like I should just be able to take it. But the thing is I can’t. I’m exhausted (to the extent that I just lay down and slept for an hour right in the middle of writing this) and I’m struggling to enjoy anything.

And that really is the sticking point here. I don’t intrinsically mind being tired, but I do mind being unhappy. If I can’t see any relief in the future, if every week looks the same, just full to the brim with even more on the horizon, I just end up feeling down about it all. And what’s the point, in the end? I am not motivated to be a millionaire, to retire at 40, to own a big house. I have some mid and long term goals, but nothing that’s worth being unhappy for. 

So it looks like I’m going to have to cut back on some things. But that’s a bit more of a complicated decision, so in the short term I’m going to use the last of my holiday allowance to book some days off and schedule in absolutely nothing. Well, I’m going to plan nothing, and just let myself do whatever I feel like. Hopefully in a week or so I’ll have the headspace to think a bit more clearly. In the meantime, I’m going to work on not feeling guilty for needing more time and space in my lifetime. We’ll see how easy that is!

Being exhausted

Sharing a house at 30+ years

Recently I found myself having to defend myself for still living in a shared house at the age of 30+. The person I spoke to found it not only strange, but kind of pitiful and embarrassing. I’m not going to lie, I did feel pretty angry.

Yes, I live in a shared house. Me and my partner share a house with two other people. Yes, we are both more than 30 years old.

Let me explain why:

Because it means I can work part-time. Yup. I can work part-time. I don’t have to work all the hours I can – if I want to, I can, but I don’t have to.  I can take the job I want, I can go back to college, take night courses, work on community projects, work with young people, volunteer on helplines. Do the things that I think are worth doing in the world.

Because it means when my self-employed partner gets ill, or injured, and is unable to work for more than a year, we don’t go into debt. We don’t suffer. We don’t panic and worry and I don’t lay in my bed wondering how I’m going to make the bills. My partner doesn’t feel crushed by the pressure to earn, and I don’t have to watch them kill themselves doing a job that makes them miserable.

I know social norms tell us we should buy the best (biggest?) house we can afford, in the nicest area, and we should make it as pretty as possible and fill it full of expensive things.

But that doesn’t have to be the way.

You can reject that norm. Have a good-enough place to live, keep the old kitchen and bathroom because they work just fine, even if they aren’t new and shiny. Buy second-hand appliances, and get a sofa from a charity shop. Rent out the spare room, and cover all your bills that way.

People find it weird. Not a lot of folk get it. And I understand. It’s nice not to have to worry about putting on a dressing-gown when you go to the toilet in the middle of the night. It’s nice to walk around the house half-dressed in the morning. But I don’t think any of that is worth hundreds of pounds a month, and it definitely isn’t worth working until I’m exhausted every single day, doing some pointless job that doesn’t do the world or its people a bit of good.

Now, one day I won’t share with people. One day we’ll have a smaller, cheaper house, and I’ll want it to just be the two of us. But what I want more than anything else is to live free from fear. I want to live free from worry, and that means free from worrying about what I’ll do if something goes wrong with the car, with the house, with my health or my partners. And that means living within our means, saving money. Renting out a room is a powerful way of doing that.

Give it some thought, and maybe sharing a house doesn’t seem so weird.

Sharing a house at 30+ years

Supermarket food shopping: how I’m avoiding it in 2016

There was a time when I really enjoyed supermarket food shopping. Probably sometime after I finished my masters, when I had enough money to buy whatever food I wanted and everything was new and exciting. But over the last few years it’s got to the point where I actively resent having to go in the supermarket.

Recently I read a post in the simplicity-minimalism blog-o-sphere where the author, Tsh Oxenreider talked about three things I’m resolving not to do in the new year (or something similar). She didn’t directly mention food shopping, but whilst reading her (somewhat relentless if you’re on her email list) plugging of something called ‘ePantry’, I got thinking about getting my food shopping delivered. Wouldn’t it be great to no longer waste hours of my life every week walking around the supermarket buying the same old things every damn time?! This week one of my colleagues also mentioned that she has switched to it permanently, and she explained how it worked for our local big supermarket.

Armed with that inspiration and information, I explored my local superstore’s online offerings. To save money I opted for the ‘pick-up-from-store’ option, and I have to admit that driving in today did make me feel pretty damn smug – there was a queue just for parking and the whole place looked packed and stressful. I was so pleased not to be participating in that!

So far it looks like a really good option, saving on hassle, time, stress and money, considering the following pros:

  • It will probably take me about ten minutes to order my usual weekly shopping, as we tend to buy the same things consistently, saving time.
  • It took 15 minutes door-to-door to pick up, again saving time.
  • I didn’t have to use carrier bags (though sadly my loose veg was packed in extra plastic) so only a small net increase in waste.
  • It allows me to review the order in a calm, peaceful, well-fed frame of mind which helps me be critical and pick out those things we don’t really need, saving money.
  • Not being in the store itself saves me from picking up impulse ‘treats’ as a reward/pacifier for surviving the experience, or because I’ve ended up really hungry whilst walking around. This is good for our health as well as our bank balances!
  • It is so much easier to check the ingredients of food online than it is in the store. As we tend towards a vegan diet, this is really helpful, as is the (slightly shonky but still informative) ability to search for ‘vegan’ food on the store’s website. This actually opens up greater variety of food to us, which is a real bonus.
  • I can easily check what we have in the cupboards/fridge and avoid getting things we don’t need, and as I can add to the order as the week goes by I can easily add things that we run out of as-and-when. This saves us money and avoids waste, and I’m hoping will avoid additional trips/frustration over forgotten things.

All in all, I’m tentatively hopeful that this may be a long-term solution to the grind of supermarket food shopping. I think there’s even a chance that, if we rarely actually go into a supermarket, the few times we need to we might actually enjoy it again! I certainly think it’s an excellent way to keep track of how much money we’re spending on food, and to avoid buying unnecessary things.

Overall, if you’re looking to reclaim some of your time from this boring task, I’d totally recommend it. I’ll let you know how it goes in the next few months.

Supermarket food shopping: how I’m avoiding it in 2016