It all comes down to motivation. If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it.” — Sir Edmund Hillary
Until 2019, I never placed the term “mental load” upon anything. Call it stress, exhaustion, blah blah blah…. call the whambulance (as Dave Ramsey would say). Recently, though, I saw a cartoon depicting a mom’s “mental load” and though, I’m obviously not a mom, nor even a parent, I almost head an audible cartoonish DING. Lightbulb moment. YES! I KNOW THIS FEELING! Certainly, the scenarios are totally different, and Yes, my view of mental load is different than the author intended. But it got me thinking.
Today was unique. I had a random Thursday off. Usually my weeks are stable around 40 hours, but the days can be long. With commute, every day is about 12 hours – give or take for the almost certain crashes all around Dallas on days that end in “y.” Today, is a great day, but I began thinking of a day when things didn’t quite go the way I planned
Several weeks ago, on a similar day off, I had a simple task: wake up, clean the apartment, schedule a body shop visit for the car (huge shout out to the uninsured motorist), figure out IRA contributions for 2018 taxes, read…. that’s all. That is literally it. But I had a meltdown. I couldn’t think straight. It was so bad I began to wonder if I needed to get my vitals checked. I was frozen to accomplishing anything. What was going on? Brain fog, stress, blood pressure? … why do I seem locked up?
I naturally have things I want to accomplish in a day – all of which are influenced by the things I have needed to do for days, or even weeks. At work I have tasks that must be done – my daily-non-negotiables. At home, the cooking, cleaning, and resting – these all must be done as well. Yes, resting is a non-negotiable in my opinion..and should remain a priority. I realized that when I feel the mental load creeping in, it’s because I’m allowing something outside my realm of control to influence my inner emotional stability. How to I combat this? Checklists? Nope.
I’ve even realized that checklists don’t help those moments of overwhelm. In my experience, a checklist isn’t a great basis for productivity, or even a reflection of productivity at the end of the day. In a perfect world, the most important items should be listed at the top of the said checklist, however, only those items that first came to mind when I was making the checklist actually became “important.” What about shutting down any “extra” activities in my life? Nope.
Let me tell you how that worked out. NOT WELL. I isolate. Become irritable and take that with me everywhere. If I don’t show up irritable to others, I’m just miserable inside. So, yeah, never mind. Don’t try that.
What I write next will seem nauseating – only because we hear the “pros” telling us this all the time. But I’ve found it to be true.
When I embrace a daily gratitude practice (even when I’m pissed) and seek after contentment with where I am today in work and life, only then does my production at work go up, happiness at home increase, and emotional stability remain balanced – day in and day out.
That’s my experience. Thanks for letting me share.
I am trying to read more. It seems like the adult thing to do, but I quickly become restless when I pick up whatever title I’ve chosen at the moment. This feeling isn’t anything new. In fact, I’ve felt it most of my life when I’ve sat down to read. So, I called my mom several months ago to ask why I had trouble settling down to read books as a kid. Reason being is that I remember her reeaaaalllly wanting to read to me around 4-6 years old, so I guess I thought she would have some insight as to if I was ever a bookworm of sorts. Her answer? Nope. Never. I was always on the move.
For a few moments I would settle down and listen, but my attention was quickly drawn to preferring my matchbox cars or going outside to plunder through the shed out back. These days? Well, I actually do like to read (and truly enjoy it), but I’m realizing that around 4-6 years old, it wasn’t the reading I didn’t enjoy – it was actually the atmosphere of silence that usually came with it. The same remains true today. Silence – I’m not always a fan – but I’m becoming a fan.
So about a year ago, I set out to stretch myself. When I have the opportunity to sit in silence, I do. No TV (don’t even own one…more about that another day #minimalism), No Spotify, No noise of any kind that I can control. But, alas, as with most things that are actually a good idea, it’s hard to implement. Today, when I have silence at my fingertips, I force myself to literally sit in it. If I’m uncomfortable, I remain in the utter silence until I am comfortable… Allowing my mind to wander, if need be, but always returning to that mental “center.”
What have I noticed? Here are four ways my life has changed for the better:
My Perspective Has Broadened
Embracing Silence allows me to see many situations from a different perspective. A strong empathetic point-of-view breaks through and, moreover, this places me in the position where I am able to discern whether a problem is actually MY problem (I struggle with this BIG TIME). If it is a problem I have created or for which I am responsible, I must hit the problem head on before taking another step. If the problem is really not on my side of the street, I drop the anxiety and keep moving.
Each day, there are many distractions and influences (positive and negative) from everything including the people with whom I interact, the ever-buzzing news and social media, and work-related stresses.
Embracing silence allows a natural mental detoxification to take place. Meditation is a great way to practice silence, recenter, and rejuvenate your state of mind. I’m not talking about going all “Ghandi in the mountains.” Your mobile App Store has plenty of tools to assist with this. Try it!
Surprisingly, spending time in silence has been an asset in my relationships with those around me. By being comfortable with spending time alone, I am more present with friendships, family, and increasingly focused during interactions at the office.
Where? Everywhere. In everything. How can I make wise decisions if I don’t have true physical, emotional, and spiritual awareness? And furthermore, how can I have peace with my decisions if my mind is cloudy? Seeking awareness….specifically spiritual awareness in my case…has been a huge win. I must seek a higher level of awareness every day.
My list is longer – and maybe we’ll circle back around another day. Today, though, in my 30s, moments spent in silence are not moments I chase or seek out, but valuable, life-enriching nuggets I consume when they present themselves. I guess silence is golden.
It’s time to start moving for the day – and what do I reach for? My french press. Looking back it’s been a companion during interesting moments of my life. Meetings, client appointments, mornings, afternoons, evenings, gigs….the list is long for sure. I’ve developed a reputation around my office of being the guy who drink coffee until 3:30 in the afternoon. Later if possible. Obviously, I’m not one to say no to any cup of coffee offered to me.
So, raising my cup with perfect crema, here are 26 Surprising Facts About Coffee »
1. Shepherds discovered coffee in Ethiopia circa 800 A.D.
Legend has it that 9th century goat herders noticed the effect caffeine had on their goats, who appeared to “dance” after eating coffee berries. A local monk then made a drink with coffee berries and found that it kept him awake at night, thus the original cup of coffee was born.
2. Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth.
According to the Global Exchange, there are approximately 25 million farmers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee. The number one commodity? Oil.
3. In Italian espresso means “when something is forced out.”
This refers to the way espresso is made — forcing boiling water through pressed coffee grounds. And, although espresso has more caffeine per volume than coffee, because it’s consumed in smaller quantities, it actually has about a third of the amount of caffeine as a regular cup of coffee.
4. Coffee was the first food to be freeze-dried.
The process of freeze drying — when fresh foods are placed in a dryer where temperatures drop to negative 40 degrees F — first started during World War II to preserve foods.
5. There are two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta.
Seventy percent of coffee beans are Arabica. Although less popular, Robusta is slightly more bitter and has twice as much caffeine.
6. The majority of coffee is produced in Brazil.
Brazil produces 40% of the world’s coffee, which is twice as much as 2nd and 3rd place holders, Colombia and Vietnam.
7. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that commercially grows coffee.
Kona coffee is the United States’ gift to the coffee world. Because coffee grows best in climates along the equator, Hawaii’s weather is optimal for harvesting coffee beans.
8. Coffee was originally a food.
Coffee berries were mixed with fat to create an energy-rich snack ball. It was also consumed as a wine when made from the pulp of coffee berries.
9. Coffee is actually a fruit.
Coffee beans as we know them are actually the pits of a cherry-like berry that are grown on bushes. Even though coffee is actually a seed, it’s called a bean because of its resemblance to actual beans.
10. The world’s most expensive coffee is $600 a pound.
And it comes from the feces of a Sumatran wild cat. The animal — called a Luwak — is unable to digest coffee beans. In the process of digesting the beans, they are fermented in the stomach. When the beans are excreted, they produce a smooth, chocolaty coffee.
11. There have been five attempts to ban coffee throughout history.
Coffee was first banned in Mecca in 1511 because leaders believed it stimulated radical thinking. And, 16th century Italian clergymen tried to ban coffee because they believed it to be “satanic.” However, Pope Clement VII loved coffee so much that he lifted the ban and had coffee baptized in 1600. But Ottoman leader Murad IV took it even further when he ascended the throne in 1623 by creating the first punishments for drinking coffee, which included beatings and being thrown into the sea.
In 1746, the Swedish government made it illegal to even have coffee paraphenalia, including cups and dishes. And finally, in 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a manifesto declaring beer’s superiority over coffee because he believed it interfered with the country’s beer consumption.
12. You can overdose on coffee.
However, you would need to drink over 100 cups to consume the lethal dose of caffeine.
13. New Yorkers drink almost seven times as much coffee as the rest of the U.S.
However, Finland is the most caffeinated country, where the average adult consumes the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee a day.
14. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers found that older patients with high levels of caffeine in their blood were more likely to avoid Alzheimer’s. Studies have also shown that caffeine has positive effects on type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. It has also been shown to protect against skin cancer in women.
15. Coffee stays warmer when you add cream.
Coffee with added cream cools about 20% slower than plain black coffee.
16. But when you add milk, it weakens the effects of caffeine.
Our bodies absorb coffee much slower when it has added fat milk content, which decreases the stimulants.
17. The largest cup of coffee ever was brewed in July 2014 in South Korea.
It was over 3,700 gallons. The largest iced coffee was brewed in Las Vegas in 2010, and was 1,500 gallons — ice not included.
18. Coffee was brought to New Amsterdam (present day New York City) in the mid-1600s.
However, it didn’t become very popular until after the Boston Tea Party in 1773. The Civil War and other conflicts helped boost the popularity of coffee.
19. George Washington invented instant coffee.
Not that Washington. Chemist George Constant Washington experimented with dried coffee before he created Red E Coffee — the first brand name instant coffee.
20. Just smelling coffee can wake you up.
A group of scientists reported that simply inhaling the aroma of coffee can alter the activity of some genes in the brain, reducing the effects of sleep deprivation. And when you do drink that cup of coffee, caffeine reaches your blood fast, like 10 minutes fast.
21. Dark roast coffees have less caffeine than lighter roasts.
Even though the flavor is often stronger, roasting actually burns off some of the caffeine.
22. Decaf does not mean caffeine-free.
An eight ounce brewed cup of decaf coffee actually has two-to-12 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, a regular cup of coffee has anywhere from 95 to 200 milligrams. (Twelve ounces of coke only has 23-35 milligrams of caffeine.)
23. In the United States, 80% of adults consume caffeine every day.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the average intake is 200 milligrams, or about two five-ounce cups of coffee.
24. Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day.
This is the equivalent to 146 billion cups each year, making the U.S. the leading consumer of coffee.
25. The average worker spends $20 a week on coffee.
That totals nearly $1,100 annually.
26. The original definition of coffee means “wine.”
Coffee’s original name, qahwah, came from the Yemen term for wine. In Turkey it was called kahveh, until the Dutch referred to it as koffie, where we get the English coffee.
For a while now, I’ve loved listening to podcasts and reading essays by these guys – known as “the minimalists.”
I had to share this tonight. No, I don’t claim to suffer from anxiety, but it’s certainly something I know creeps up at different times during the day. I mean – come on – EVERYONE, in some way, deals with anxiety. Clinical (as it is for 40 million Americans) or not, it’s an issue.
Just the title alone makes me feel like I’m going to realize the secret sauce on how NOT to be anxious…or maybe reading this will cause anxiety because I’ll now realize how much I do all of these things. Ok, I’m done. I’m getting anxious. Check them out at www.theminimalists.com
Enjoy. ; ) –NW
How to Be Anxious
Regard everything as precious.
Refuse to let go.
Stare at the rearview.
Watch the news.
Peruse social media.
Inhabit the email inbox.
Focus on productivity.
Yearn for success.
Hide from fear.
Expand the to-do list.
Take on debt.
Go to the mall.
Rely on handouts.
Think only about self.
Ruminate on the unchangeable.
Say yes to everything.
I love the moment when I unwrap and open a new notebook. The smell of the pages…how they seem to be so rigid that they push back. It feels like I get to hit the “redo” button. And try it – whatever that “it” may be – all over again.
Many of you probably stumbled across this website because you once listened to the music I made several years ago. Perhaps you even visited this webspace back when it was a website dedicated to all of the travels and music… ad nauseam. Now, you’re somewhat scratching your head, wondering what happened. Maybe we met when I worked at __________. Or during that trip to_________….or our mutual friend __________.
Life really has a way of kicking you in the teeth when you lose sight of the target. I mean….like needing some reconstructive surgery type of kicking in the upper jaw.
So much has changed. So much is better than it’s ever been – but that’s not without a road traveled that I never expected to experience first-hand. Today, there are blank pages in front of me. For that, I cannot express enough gratitude. Hopefully, as time goes on, and I write more specifically about it all – it will be encouragement for someone, wherever they may be reading, at just the right moment.
2018 has been a year of “new, blank pages” and writing is a world I never ventured into. Ever. But in a new season, why not. I may write about minimalism, food, travels, finances and other craziness – but what I truly seek is some fun and refreshing conversation. Ha! Even if I’m only talking to myself for a while. 🙂
Talk soon. – NW