Finding Motivation

Oh hey there, avid reader. How are you? How’s your family? Are you getting enough sleep and drinking enough water? Have you been eating foods to fuel your body, and moving your body to keep it active and healthy?

Sorry, that’t just the mom/teacher in me keeping tabs on you. Someone has to šŸ™‚

Let’s talk motivation. I know this really isn’t the typical time of year to need to address this topic (I think most of us lack motivation in the colder winter months) but I think, at least for me, the whole COVID madness happening has really just thrown us for a loop. At the beginning of quarantine I tried so hard to keep things as “normal” as possible for my family and myself. I still tried to exercise every day, to get Lily doing her school work (which at the beginning was stupid BS busy work since the teachers thought we’d be closed for 2 weeks), to have normal dinners and family time together. I even thought I’d get a lot more reading done! (ha) Thinking back, I had hoped these endeavors would help me cling to my sanity in an otherwise insane time. I’m not sure if it helped at all or not, but I know some of those pursuits got sidetracked considerably; while Lily kept on track with school work (mostly…) for the duration of the quarantine, finding time to workout and read just fell to the wayside. It’s really too bad, too, because we ALL know how important acts of self-care can be. You know, the whole “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and “you have to put your oxygen mask on when the plane is going down before you can help anyone else” thing. I don’t think I’m alone when I say, that time during early quarantine was mostly about survival over here in our house.

Things have changed considerably since mid-March: Felix went back to daycare full time about a month ago which has freed up so much more of our time (and he’s sleeping a lot better, I think because of a more structured environment during the day), school is officially “done” for the summer, and the weather is absolutely gorgeous. Summer is arguably my favorite time of year, and I’m one of those odd ducks who loves the weighted, oppressive feel of the afternoon heat the minute I step out of the house. I’ve always joked that I’m solar powered, but I truly feel more alive during the warmer months. But this brings us to my topic for this post: motivation. See, after all those months of just surviving and existing, I’m having a hard time being motivated.

Let me paint a more detailed picture of my “before quar” routine, and maybe that will uncover my issue. So Monday-Friday was pretty much the same: wake up, get ready for work/get the kids ready, Dan would make my breakfast every day (he still does because he’s the bomb and I’m a spoiled bitch, and I’ll include a description of what we have most days at the end of this post), 40 minute commute to work where I would have “me” time and listen to podcasts or reflect on the upcoming day, teach and other related school stuff from 8-3, workout at my gym 3:30-4:30, then depending on if Lily had ballet or not I would either pick Felix up (again, a blessed 40 minute commute to decompress from the day) or head straight home to tackle dinner, dinner as a family, kids to bed, shower, me to bed. This was my routine 5 days a week, and on the weekends we would go hang at the library, get groceries, meal prep, and really just enjoy some down time as a family.

I won’t lie, I can easily see how that routine was burning me out rapidly. Most nights I was so exhausted from everything I would zonk out before 9pm. I’m a night owl, but my body was saying NO to this lifestyle. I was stressed constantly, from every angle of my life, and reflecting on it now I can definitely see that I was headed for major burn out.

Enter: quarantine. The big QUAR. Home all day, every day, no where to go, nothing to do, too cold to play outside comfortably (but boy did we get outside a lot), no friends, no co-workers, no students who I love dearly and call my “kids,” into a new “routine” and monotony that was stifling and claustrophobic and isolating. As an extrovert, I hated it. And I’m super fortunate that we’re a relatively “normal” family, I could not imagine going through this back when I was a kid. I think we all would have tried to actually murder each other at some point. Ah dysfunctional families breed the funniest people, don’t you think?

Anyway, what does all of this have to do with motivation? Well I’m getting there! Basically, even though things are opening up and life is starting to return to “normal” again, I just don’t have the motivation I used to, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. In the last few weeks I’ve had a hard time getting into a workout routine, whereas when I was balls-to-the-wall busy I had no issue finding an hour every day to get that done. Now, even though I have awesome online support from the owner of my gym AND my new Beach Body membership (which has awesome support from my coach and other local people), I still have a really hard time mustering up the energy to just get it done. I can’t figure out why. I love working out, I love how I feel after, and I think maybe I’m just really missing the old community and friends I had back when I could go to a physical place every day after work, where people would cheer you on when you got a new personal best for a lift, would save you from underneath a too-heavy bench press attempt, and would laugh and not judge when you peed your pants a little while jumping rope.

My lack of motivation isn’t only felt in my workout routines. I’ve gotten really lax about meal prepping and planning and recreational reading has also suffered a lot. Both of these areas are slowly improving and I’m not totally sure why. I guess maybe these are just things that happen in adult life. Maybe instead of being in such a rush to hurry up and just FIX it I could acknowledge it and just let it work its way out. I hope you’re not hoping for advice, but if you’re desperate (and I do love giving advice) I would say do one of the following things, depending on your personality. Option 1: force yourself to schedule a time in your day to do _______________. If it’s exercising or reading or meal prepping or answering emails, whatever it is you just don’t have motivation to do, schedule a time. Set an alarm on your phone. Stick to it. “Oh it’s noon on Sunday. Time to meal prep.” Force yourself into this and you’ll feel much more accountable. Option 2: as stated above, just let it be. Hopefully you won’t be unmotivated forever. If it lasts longer than a few weeks you might need to reassess this method, but ideally just give yourself some time and space to figure things out naturally. My personality type is much more the Option 1 route, but like I said, I think just giving myself some time to work it out and get through this might be more beneficial right now.

It goes without saying, some things don’t lend well to the Option 2 approach. For example: going to work. You still have to do that, even if you’re unmotivated. Sorry. But if you’re really miserable at your job, maybe it’s time to have a serious talk with yourself about what is making you miserable there, and is it worth looking into a new job. Also it’s totally cool if you just want to eat cereal for dinner instead of cooking, but again you really probably shouldn’t do this for the long term. Use your discretion with this advice, and if you need some really terrible and funny advice you should listen to Professional Asked, Casually Answered šŸ˜‰

Ok, as promised, Dan’s amazing breakfast bowls. We’ve cultivated and tweaked this recipe for years and sometimes will mix it up a little, but honest to goodness we eat this pretty much every day. I don’t like to eat super early in the morning so Dan would cook this up and put it in a container that I would take to work, I’d reheat for about 30 seconds in the microwave, and graze on it throughout my morning classes. I always encouraged my kids to eat breakfast and wanted to lead by example šŸ™‚ (I basically eat all day at work. My kids always bring it up during the senior skit. It’s fine…)

The base of this is about 3/4 cup roasted sweet potatoes (peel and cube taters, coat in olive oil and adobo, roast in oven at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes until they’re done. This is something we batch cook on the weekends and it saves a ton of time), two breakfast sausages that he cuts into bite-sized pieces (ours are in a purple box. Idk what brand, but you do you!), sometimes he’ll do a scoop of Amy’s black refried beans, and topped with eggs. So the way he does this, is he starts with the sausages since they’re frozen and he gets those cooked and chopped, then adds the potatoes to warm them up. He divvies that all up between our bowls, heats up the beans if we have them (he lets them get a little crispy skin on them, yum), then cooks the eggs (if the whites on mine aren’t done I can’t eat it but I also want a runny yolk. He cooks them perfectly every time) and puts them right on top! He adds different dressings to cheeses to his but I like mine pretty basic. So easy, so good, and it has plenty of carbs, fat, and protein that you aren’t starving an hour after eating it. Every time I mention how I’m a lucky so-and-so he gives me this look over his glasses and says, “I make breakfast for myself too, it doesn’t take any extra time to make yours.” What a guy. Get yourself a partner like that dude.

Well that’s it for now, thanks for checking in and letting me vent a little. I feel motivated to go read for a bit before Felix gets home šŸ˜€

2 thoughts on “Finding Motivation

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  1. I don’t know how I missed this last week, but I’m glad I saw it today. I love your blog! Keep it up!

  2. As a fellow teacher, I know what you are talking about. We LIVE by routines. but there is a danger in that….About 4 years ago (after my 19th year teaching) I found that when summer break would come along, something that I was desperately waiting for since April,because it would give me a chance to paint minis, to read novels, binge tv/youtube/Netflix or write D&D/RPG adventures/stories, but instead I would find find myself sitting around doing nothing. The “open time” was just overwhelming. I could not get anything done. Every year it would get worse; it got so bad last year that I actually had to seek some help. Surprisingly when Covid hit I was fine, in fact my therapist was amazed I was coping so well. My “coping” strategy was this: First. I found it was okay to sit and do nothing, I actually gave myself permission to just goof off. Secondly, I did something my dad taught me when we worked together at a chemical plant. He would make a list of 5-10 things he needed to do the next day at work, One day, while waiting for him to finish a phone call so we could go home I looked his list and he had only 2 items out of 7 lined out. He got off the phone and he said it was great day. I looked back with a questioning look and he said “Charlie, anytime you can accomplish one thing off a list it was good day, any more than that it is a great day” So makes routines but literally give your self some slack!

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