Waking Up Early: A Past, A Plan, A Pledge

For me, waking up in the morning is like:
5moreminutespuppy

OR

GameShow

It’s sad, but true.

My normal morning routine includes the following:

  1. Alarms #1 and #2 go off. Snooze both.
  2. Alarm #3, which is supposed to be my final alarm, goes off. Snooze.
  3. Alarms #1 and #2 go off again. Snooze.
  4. Alarm #3 goes off again. Squint one eye open, look at the time, justify giving myself 5 more minutes, and reset the alarm for five minutes later.
  5. Alarm #4 (adjusted time!) goes off……………………. Snooze.
  6. Either Alarm #1, #2, #3, or all of the above go off next. Realize I needed to get up 30 minutes ago, and run around the house like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to get ready for the day in 10 minutes or less.

I feel as though I ought to include the fact that my poor husband, by the time I get up, has already been awake for 30 minutes, made coffee, fed the dog, had a bowl of cereal, and walked the dog. Whoops.

Unfortunately, I need to start waking up early again, because my last year of undergraduate study (FINALLY!!!!!!!) is about to begin exactly one week from now, and I have classes that start at 8:00. I completely understand that 8 am is not a particularly early morning for the majority of the adult population, but it’s definitely early for me.

In the past, I have used 5 alarms at one time, tried putting them far away from me, relied on my husband or roommates to wake me up, etc. I have also failed multiple months and years at getting up and getting ready for the day without scrambling around in a crazy frenzy.

THEREFORE………..

After thorough research and browsing of other articles, blogs, websites, etc, the following is my plan for waking up early this year:

  1. Go to bed with the set intention/goal in mind of getting up on time!
  2. Plan what I am going to wear the next day the night before. (this takes me forever, especially when dealing with groggy, morning-time Christine)
  3. Pack bags and purses with necessary supplies for the next day
  4. Calculate how early I need to get up based on the things I would like to get accomplished before I leave:
    1. 5 minutes for brushing teeth, washing face, and getting dressed (with last night’s clothing preparation…)
    2. 5 minutes to cuddle with / play with / love on my dog [okay, maybe 10]
    3. 5 – 10 minutes for breakfast and morning tea, morning stretches
    4. 20-30 minutes to shower, do hair & makeup
    5. 15-20 minutes to get to school & class on time
  5. Set an alarm for when I want to be in bed, ideally 8-9 hours before I need to get up and moving around. (This is definitely going to be the roughest part for me…)
  6. When my alarm goes off, I am going to just get. out. of. bed. Maybe I’ll go in my zombie-like state and wash my face. With cold water. That ought to do it
  7. Put $1/$2 in a jar for every day that I wake up early, free to use on whatever I want after each month of (hopefully) successful mornings!
    — INCENTIVE! $$$ haha

I’m going to start initiating this “plan-of-action” by waking up 30 minutes earlier every day for the next week, since I get up at around 10am in the summertime (I know…. seriously??).

I, Christine, promise you, the readers (or 3 people), to do my very best and succeed in the plan I have set forward to “rise and shine” like the real, gen-u-ine, hopefully-won’t-need-the-snooze-button-anymore, adult that I am.

:].

———-

What crazy or logical schemes do you do to successfully/semi-successfully get out of bed in the mornings, fellow non-morning people (aka night owls) ?

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Candy Crush Saga: Just Say No

It’s been almost two weeks since I wrote a new blog post…. BAD CHRISTINE! Although it is entirely my fault (I’ve been distracted and, honestly, unmotivated – whoops!), I have chosen this time to discuss one of many sources of distraction:

CANDY CRUSH SAGA…..
ccs

I have recently developed an unfortunate love/hate relationship and seriously INTENSE addiction… to that devil which is Candy Crush Saga. I’m not sure exactly when the game was released, but I know that at first, I resisted. All of those stupid invites from people I hadn’t talked to in ages, I just ignored them.

Then one day…I found myself bored and a bit curious. I saw an invite from one of my close friends, and decided “well hey, she’s playing it, and it is summertime, after all, so why not?”

This is about the time where one of those acronyms I refuse to use, “SMH” (Shaking My Head), would fit in nicely.

I should’ve known I was addicted when, after one week of playing, I had already passed the level my best friend was on, who had been playing for a month. Bad. News. Bears.

I should’ve known I was addicted when I downloaded the game on my phone so that when I ran out of lives on facebook, I could continue attempting to beat the level on my mobile device.

I really should’ve known I was addicted when I downloaded the game on my iPad without connecting my facebook so that I could play and beat the easier levels when I was feeling downtrodden and lame after being stuck for a few days.

But it wasn’t until that moment at 2:00 in the morning, when I was lying in bed next to my peacefully sleeping husband, trying to beat yet another stubborn level, looking up helpful hints, and watching video advertisements in order to receive more lives, that I realized… WOW, I have a problem.

“I can stop … This will be my last time playing this game.” That lasted about 8 hours of sleep.

How did it happen? How did I let it get so bad?

…They trap you. It’s well planned out, sneaky, and clever.

Candy Crush is basically a game like Bejeweled, where you have to match 3 or more of certain same colored objects to one another in order to remove them from the board and score points. However, King.com games (creators of Candy Crush and other “Saga” games) ingeniously plants new obstacles and challenges to make it much more intense than a regular little game of Bejeweled.

The first ten or so levels are fine, you’re just learning how to match the different candies to one another. Then, you start learning how certain shaped pairings, like an L-shape, T-shape, Line-of-5, etc. can create EXTRA MAGICAL CANDIES that explode in different directions!

And that’s just the beginning… as you continue moving through the levels and stages, there’s jelly (at least, I think that’s what it’s supposed to be) that you have to blow through before you can use the candy hiding inside of it, double layers of jelly, whipped cream that you have to blow through, licorice, and the dreaded CHOCOLATE. This game has made me really strongly dislike chocolate. The chocolate not only blocks you from making the necessary matches, but it grows. It takes over your candies, and if you’re not careful, your board has been conquered by dark brown squares.
CCSCHOC
Lame.

Sometimes, the goals are different. For instance, the basic goal is to reach a certain number of points by matching enough candies together. Certain levels require you to break up all of the jelly. Other levels, which I abhor, ask you to bring down the ingredients (apples or cherries) to the bottom of the screen. Some are timed, others give you a certain number of moves in order to beat the level. As you move further into the depths of the game, the board starts to change. What once was a simple square shape becomes four separate square shapes, or a rectangle with two vertical lines of jelly on either side that you have to burst, not connected to the main area.

candycrush137
There’s even one where the candies in the board are in the shape of a diamond, with transporters that connect the bottom of each little section to the top of a new section, and you have a measly little 18 moves to bring the ingredients to the very left side of the diamond! WHAT?!

The thing is, as much as I hate it and feel frustrated when I’m stuck on a level for a few days, it feels SO FREAKING GOOD to finally beat the damn thing. This rush of joy and accomplishment soars through your body and you get a moment of “yeah, that’s right! I BEAT YOU, SUCKA!”

… And then two levels later, you’re stuck again.

It’s been almost two months and 144 levels. I’ve managed to whittle it down to playing only at night, right before bed. I’m hoping that when the semester begins, I’ll be so overloaded with self-improvement, music learning, and some serious schooling to do, that I will be able to quit cold turkey…for the betterment of my life.

So, what’s my point?

Kids, don’t play Candy Crush Saga. Just say no.

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Those Less Fortunate [Follow-Up #1]

I’ve been stuck.

Before I started this blog (a week ago heh), I researched the crap out of “blogging” and why to do it/how to do it. A lot of people warned that the first few months would be the most difficult, in terms of starting out, figuring out your “niche,” and just coming up with things to say and blog about.

And well, yeah. They’re totally right.

I’ve been stuck since my last blog post. Call it “writer’s block” or whatnot, but I have tried to write a new post every single day…. and clearly, failed! As of right now, I have 5 completely different blog posts on various topics that have been started and subsequently….buried. (although I did save them, so hopefully I’ll be able to resuscitate them at some point.)

So then, what am I going to write about today? Well, I’m going to follow up with the end of my last post, since all of my other ideas have sunk down into the gutter.

It’s actually kind of funny, because after the “lost in a parking lot incident,” I felt such a sincere desire to converse and help any homeless people that I saw. And on a normal basis, I do see a fair amount of homeless people on the road outside of my car, hanging out by grocery stores, etc. However, I can honestly say that within the past week, I have seen NONE. Nada, zip, they’re nowhere to be found when you’re actively looking for them! Well….there was one guy asking for money outside of a Ralph’s the other day, but he turned out to be a high school kid raising funds for his football team. Womp womp.

And yet, determined to follow through on doing 5 of the items from JustGive.org’s homeless page, I set about going down the list of suggested actions. The idea was to find things I could actively do to help.

One simple and obvious suggestion on the list was to donate clothing. I happened to have a bag of clothes hanging out in the closet, which I was intending to sort through for some decent duds (alliteration, woo!) that I’d be able to sell at a consignment shop. But rather than making a few measly bucks from my old clothes, I decided to donate the clothes. Checked ONE item off the list!

Next, there was the suggestion of bringing food to give people, rather than money. Sometimes, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, I feel concerned that if I just hand some cash or change to the people standing on the side of the street, they might use it towards buying themselves some coffee and then whatever their fix is, be it alcohol, cocaine, meth, etc. Rather than just giving people food, I set my mind on google, researched, and decided to put together a few little “homeless care kits.”

What goes in a “homeless care kit,” you ask? Well, I’ll gladly tell you!

  • travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • soap
  • pack of kleenex
  • deodorant
  • a snack or two (or even a few!)
  • Gift certificates for fast food
  • band aids
  • washcloths or hand towels
  • a comb
  • shampoo
  • hand sanitizers
  • information card

(these are merely suggestions, you can always supply less or more)

All of these items fit into a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and are fairly inexpensive, found at grocery stores, or even at your local 99 cent store! The last item, an information card, was a suggestion I noticed on multiple websites, where you just make small cards with the name, address, and phone number of various local shelters in the area.

Next time you see a homeless person asking for money or food, you’ll be able to look them in the eye, smile, and hand them a care package that you took your own time and resources to make just for them. OR, you can stop by your local homeless shelter and drop off care packages for them!

Now I’ve checked TWO items off the list! Woo-hoo!

… Unfortunately, now I’m also stuck in a different way. After I had researched and put together these “homeless care kits,” I looked into volunteering and helping in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, battered women shelters, etc. and what did I find? That it’s a process. You have to make contact, then put in an application, go through a background check (for some), orientation, and sometimes training (depending on what and where you’re helping). So far, I have contacted a local homeless shelter about volunteering, and I have applied for Schools on Wheels, a tutoring program for less-fortunate kids. Once I finish the process, I’ll come back to write about what I had to do and what the experience was like, it just might be a while before I do :].

I do want to clarify, however, that this blog isn’t just about what I want to do to help homeless people, but about a journey towards the betterment of… well, me! The things that motivate me to be a better version of myself, what I do to be happy and stay positive, and basically how to find balance. But honestly, in researching how to help those less fortunate and taking some action, however small it may be, I already feel like a better, more aware version of myself, and I definitely feel more positive and grateful for the things I have.

Do you think these small tasks help, even a little bit? What do you do to volunteer time or donate for causes you care about? I’m interested, even though I have no idea who will ever read this, haha!

– Christine :].

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Those Less Fortunate.

Today, my husband and I were driving home to Long Beach from our lovely vacation in San Francisco, when a confusing thing happened: I found myself completely lost and alone in a parking lot, without any money, ID, or a phone.

This may be perplexing on many levels, such as: how big could that parking lot have been, that you were lost? Where was your husband? Who gets out of the car without money or identification? And seriously, what normal person DOESN’T have their cell phone glued to them at all times?

Though the story is a bit embarrassing, I feel like I need to tell it in order to get to my point. And yes, there really is going to be a point!

We had exited the freeway for a lunch/bathroom break, and found ourselves craving In-N-Out, which only had 4 cars in the drive-thru! (Usually, there are at least 8.) [If you don’t know what In-N-Out is, please let me know because I will dedicate an entire post to it and my many adventures with the establishment. Hah.] The In-N-Out just so happened to share a parking lot with a Chevron, so we thought ‘Perfect! Food first, then gas right next to us and we’ll be on the road again!’

Not. Perfect. At. All.

As we’re sitting in the drive-thru line, Mike (the husband) suggested that I make efficient use of our time, and use the restroom now while he waited in line and ordered for us both. Assuming I’d just be “in and out” (hah! get it?), I left my purse in the car and walked into the restaurant. Less than 5 minutes later, I came back out, walked around to the drive-thru, and could not find our car in line. I walked to the other side, where cars would be exiting with the glorious food, and could not find our car in line. Confused, I decided to walk through the parking lot to the gas station, thinking “maybe he went through the line already and is being even MORE efficient with our time, pumping gas while he waits for me.” He wasn’t there.

Panic began to set in. Here I was, in a town off the highway somewhere in Southern California, and I had somehow lost my husband. Or, I should say, he lost me. I walked back to the parking lot, walking around in circles looking for him or the car. Panic grew to irritation. I went into the gas station and politely asked one of the women at the desk if I would be able to use their phone. She looked me up and down, asked one of her associates who proceeded to also look me up and down, and they told me that there was a pay phone outside the door. Which. I had seen, but with no purse, I had no coins.

Irritation grew to frustration. I asked a few people at the gas station if they would please be so kind as to allow me to use their phones for just a minute. These were their responses:

  • Man #1: *stare* “Why?” *look at me as though I’m a criminal mastermind hiding in the body of a 5’6 asian woman”
  • Woman #1: “No, sorry” *doesn’t look at me at all, or perhaps thinks I’m laying on the ground*
  • Man #2: “Sorry, my girlfriend has my phone right now.”
  • 3 people just ignored me.

At this point, I had cycled through various emotions of confusion, panic, irritation, frustration, out-right-anger, and had now melted into a perfectly simmering stew of rejection and fear. No money, no ID, no phone. No one would help me, and I was still seriously, seriously baffled as to how I could lose an entire man and a car within some kind of parking lot black hole.

I walked across the parking lot again, feeling embarrassed and a high level of dumb while this strange stream of hot water started to run down my cheeks. People eating in the restaurant, sitting in their cars, and filling gas watched and stared at me as I walked back across the lot a few more times. By the way, I saw Man #2 pull his phone out of his pocket as he walked into the In-N-Out. That B!

At some point, one of the workers in In-N-Out so kindly went to the back and brought me her cell phone so that I could call my husband, who told me he had parked in the parking lot and was looking for me!

When I got into the car, I burst out crying. This was not a little blubbering, sniveling, or whimpering kind of crying. This was a full-out, hyperventilate, snot dripping everywhere, sobbing type of crying. My issue wasn’t that I had been some weird kind of silly and gotten lost in a parking lot. My issue was the way I was treated in those 25 minutes, when all I needed was someone to be kind enough to lend me their phone for less than 30 seconds. Instead, they judged me, declined, lied to my face, and even acted like I didn’t exist.

The strangest thing was, in the midst of my uncontrollable release of emotion, these thoughts raced through my head: This is how homeless people are treated when they ask for help; this is how those families you see asking for gas money feel. This is how people, who already live far less comfortable lives than we, are treated. They are ignored, scorned, turned away.

75% of the time, I do the exact same thing to those less fortunate people. I felt so guilty.

When I got home, I went online and found a website called JustGive.org, which offers a way for people to make donations to charities and causes that they believe in. On their website, I found an article on 35 ways to help the homeless. Here are some of the ones that stuck out the most to me:

  • Understand and educate yourself about who the homeless are: don’t bundle them all into one giant stereotype. Some of these people are homeless because they lost their job and fell down the wrong path, were abused and ran away from home as a child, or have a mental illness.
  • Give them the same courtesy and respect you would like to be treated with if you needed help.
  • Bring extra food with you sometimes, a meal bar, or a sandwich.
  • Donations help. Donate clothes, donate groceries, donate those extra canned foods that sit in the cabinet for months at a time. Donate toys.
  • Volunteer. Period.

There were so many other things on their website: some take more time and commitment, others take maybe an hour or less of your life. Some of them just tell you how to be kind and open-minded towards those not like ourselves.

When it comes to seeking harmony and happiness in life, I believe that sometimes it’s the things you do for strangers, and the things that strangers do for you that truly make a difference.

There are 35 suggestions on that list. I’m going to try to do 5 of them in the next few weeks. Ooh, and blog about it! :].

Thanks for reading, and I welcome any thoughts or comments!
– Christine :].

*To see my progress based on this topic, click on the link below!
Follow-Up #1

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