April 11, 2023

Problems and Solutions

Lately, I've been feeling like there is ZERO time to get things done and I've been putting a ton of pressure on myself. I'm not going to turn this into a whiny post about having no time; we all have 24 hours in a day and we all have things to do in that amount of time. Rather than feel sorry for myself and complain about it here, I'd like to work on solutions to what I can. (Sometimes just writing things out like this helps me figure it all out.)

Here are issues (I don't know that "problems" is the right word to use here--I'm just referring to the things that have been stressing me out lately) and possible solutions...

Problem: Right now, my house is a disaster. I've been working on getting Jerry's and my bedroom done from the remodel. It's certainly livable, and I don't *have* to work on the cat shelves I'm making--I just feel like it's not finished until the shelves are done and everything is arranged how I want it. Jerry and I both really love how it's turning out (and the cats couldn't be happier to have shelves to run around on) but the mess is everywhere.

Solution(s): 1) Put it all aside in the garage and work on it later, maybe after baseball season.

2) Cram it all in and get it done in a couple of days so I can finally get all of the tools and stuff out of the house and back into the garage.

3) Work on it a little each day until it's done.

I don't like the third solution because that's what I've been doing and it's hard to have to stop what I'm in the middle of and clean up before each baseball game (or whatever else is going on). I like the idea of hammering it all out in a single weekend, so I will try to figure out a couple of days to do that soon. Otherwise, I'm going to have to go with the first option and put it all away until June-ish. There is no baseball tomorrow, so maybe I'll spend the day working on it.

Problem: Cooking dinner. I've mentioned baseball several times lately because it tends to take over the entire duration of spring. I love going to the games, but it takes a good chunk of time out of the day that I would normally have to work on (fill in the blank here). Especially the days when Eli has double headers (which are more often than not)--if you figure the driving time, each game with a break in between, and the drive home, half of the day is just gone. And it flies by!

The time of day that his games fall is right when I would normally cook dinner before Jerry leaves for work; consequently, I haven't made dinner at all this week. I feel terrible that the kids are eating convenience food and Jerry and I have just been eating what we can--bagels, seitan, cereal, tofu, stuff like that. (Not real "meals", in other words.)

Solution(s): 1) Utilize the slow cooker on game days. I always have intentions of doing this, but I haven't yet explored making vegan recipes in the slow cooker. So, I can spend some time in the evening before bed looking up some recipes that sound good and giving those a try. I have a lot of dried beans in my pantry that I've been wanting to use (I'm terrible at remembering to soak them the night before!) and beans are a staple in vegan cooking.

2) Batch cooking. I can pick a few recipes and spend a non-game day cooking up batches of meals to freeze. This would be ideal because it would be so nice to come home, throw something in the microwave, and eat dinner just a few minutes later. Again, I can spend some time in the evening looking at vegan recipes that would freeze well. (If you have suggestions, please share!)

Problem: Returning phone calls/emails/texts/messages/comments. This is something that I am really bad at, and I know I've mentioned it a hundred times. It's not that I'm trying to avoid doing these things--I enjoy it! But I always think to myself that I will work on it later, when I have more time (I like to give thoughtful responses, no matter who or what I'm replying to, rather than canned replies). I feel like my friends and family probably think I'm just being lazy about writing back, and that is honestly not the case.

Solution(s): 1) Set aside a particular time each day to reply to as much as I can. Even an hour, uninterrupted, would help a lot. I really wish I was good at using my phone to type (I use just my index finger and it takes forever) because I could use the time between baseball games for this.

2) I just recently started using the voice-to-text option and I'm trying very hard not to correct errors, hahaha. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to texting, so after I speak my reply, I read through it and make corrections--which takes just as long as typing with one finger! I need to let go of the minor errors (you know, like the word that always gets autocorrected to "ducking"?). As long as people get the gist of what I'm writing, I need to be cool with that.

3) Reply as soon as I get a message (whatever kind it may be). I really like this idea and I would feel great if I could be disciplined enough to do it. It would relieve a lot of anxiety (I have bad anxiety about replying to things so late because it makes me feel bad; I don't want people to take it personally when I don't reply in a timely manner). The hard part is that I tend to read everything from my phone and then tell myself that I need to remember to go back and reply later.

Problem: Personal stuff that I'm dealing with.

Solution(s): There really isn't a solution, but I can practice self-care and hope that will help emotionally. I haven't been running at all (I feel like there is no time, but in reality, I'm sure I can work a short run into my day). If I can't or don't want to run, then I can at least go for a walk. Exercise really does make me feel better once I do it. I think this is something I will have to schedule into my day and make it non-negotiable. I also think I'd feel better if I could get more sleep--I am always saying this, I know, and I do try. My psychiatrist suggested that I get a sleep study done, so I may end up doing that.

Problem: Anxiety over everything. I constantly feel like people are mad at me or that I did something wrong or that something bad is going to happen and it will be my fault.

Solution(s): This isn't something I can just stop feeling, of course, but I'm reading the book that my psychiatrist suggested ('When Panic Attacks' by David Burns) and I feel hopeful that it will help alleviate my generalized anxiety. Since reading usually makes me tired, I can make it a point to read before bed--then hopefully I'll learn some techniques for managing anxiety and I'll be tired enough to fall asleep.

Writing all of these out seems like it's all no big deal--like, what am I stressed about? But when I add it all together, it has me completely drained emotionally and physically. I think that rather than just writing out "problems", writing the possible solutions is actually pretty helpful. (You know I love lists.) Actually, writing out a to-do list would probably be helpful right now. It's so satisfying to cross things off.

Okay, I just got home from Eli's game and it's 9:00--I'm starving. I think I'll eat, read some of my book, and then hopefully my brain will feel tired enough to fall asleep!

(By the way, I've gotten a lot of great advice from you all lately and I appreciate all of it. Again, I have intentions of replying, and hopefully I will do that soon. But I do read everything and it gives me new perspectives on issues I may have going on. So thank you for that!)


  1. I like your strategies to make some progress. Scheduling exercise is key for me. I write it into my day like an appointment. If I don't, then it's too easy to put it off. Then the stress builds up. I just read about this to do list technique that has been really helpful as well. Divide your list each day into must do, nice to do, and reach to do. The must do should be stuff that's achievable in the time you have. The nice to do can then get worked on if you get extra time that day. The last category can be bigger things where you can work on more slowly by just doing a small piece of it but making progress. I had a lot of landscaping to get done and just broke it into chunks of assigning myself an hour to do as much as I could. It made me feel better to make progress.

  2. Can you bring your laptop or an iPad to Eli's games and work on emails/replies from there? Maybe use your phone as a hotspot if you need wifi--I know it's less than ideal battery life-wise, but finding a way to multitask SOMETHING during the games because of course you want to be there, but you also have other stuff to get done! IDK how much you're "glued" to the games, though, but if Eli's team is at-bat, you could send a few quick messages when he's not up. I've let go on my grammar/typos A LOT over the past few years, mistakes happen, it doesn't mean I'm not smart, and people still get what I'm saying.

  3. All of your solutions to the problems seem really well thought out! I think the first step to tackling any issue is writing down a list just like you did here! So you're off to a great start! I personally think the batch cooking for your dinner problem is the way to go. It is so nice coming home after a busy day and just re-heating a full meal! It can be a pain doing all that cooking at once but it can be sooo worth it. Plus while your food is cooking, like say something is in the oven for 30 minutes, you can tackle another item on your list! Like say maybe answer 2 emails or throw 1 load of laundry it. Little things that wouldn't take too long and build up too much stress while also trying to cook. My to-do list has been feeling a little out of control lately too so I totally get this! I think just tackling one thing at a time and you'll get there eventually!

  4. I think prepping some meals (or purchasing a few frozen items that can be reheated quickly that are vegan/healthy enough to use in a pinch) will make life so much easier! We are whole food plant based but pick up in a few Trader Joe's frozen meals like their Thai options or the veg samosas. While not super healthy, if you like pasta, maybe prep a salad before you head out or cook some green beans and have the pan of water on the stove with lid, ready to go and just crank it up when you get home. This lentil bolognese recipe (https://www.feastingathome.com/lentil-bolognese/) is beyond scrumptious and makes enough to last several meals and turns the sauce into a healthier protein-filled option. After decades of cooking, I am finally saving kitchen time and using my food processor to dice up veg for different recipes including carrots for non-mayo cole slaw (https://cookieandkate.com/simple-healthy-coleslaw-recipe/) and grabbing the bag of ready to use cole slaw mix - i use a bit less oil and cumin and add some water to the dressing. Having that ready and ingredients for some hearty veg sandwiches might help. Even some baked beans prepped in advance and ready to go (bush's vegetarian or hickory and brown sugar are vegan and while not cheap, help us in a pinch for a quick bean option). I worked college athletics for years and know the time crunch you face to prep a healthy meal after being gone all day. Even cutting apples and putting on a plate counts as a side for a meal in our home if we've had a busy day with little fruit!

    This vegan pasta e fagioli is just so good - we just skip the parm. https://thecleaneatingcouple.com/vegan-pasta-fagioli/ ... makes enough for several meals and we just add another veg side. This eats as a meal as it's very hearty vs. a broth-based soup.

    I just found your blog and have been enjoying going through the archives. Your post on weight loss in a new year, pick one thing you need to change vs. everything resonated with me. (and omg that splinter story - wowza. I'll never get that image out of my mind. How scary!)

    I like how Heather in the comments said to separate your lists into must do, would like, etc. I take a similar approach and view my day's schedule as how they benefit me. The baseball games are family/connection ... the gardening work and some cooking like trying a new recipe (for me) is creativity and thriftiness - that sounds like your cat walkways. Reading is learning, walking is health, etc. A balance of a few of these helps me feel that my time demands/appts are truly useful and make me healthier emotionally and physically. I get the challenge of the massive amounts of time committed with BB DHs - can you walk around the area between games or before the game starts? Regardless - ENJOY!

  5. Looking for solutions is great. You're also done the important step of defining a problem you need to improve because otherwise you can't improve it. Time is really precious and you should choose what you want to spend it on. Then do that and don't feel guilty about the things you don't have time for. You CAN'T do everything. Just like you can't change the past - you don't have a time machine! You (and all of us) have to accept it. You can't batch cook and do the Cat Wall in your bedroom on you game free day. Can you think of quick recipes like stir-frys eg. hot and mostly healthy to cook quickly? I know you don't like salad but vegan food can be quick. Yes planning is important and shopping for the right stuff.
    Is the anything you can do between double headers, like go for a walk? Don't answer that, I don't want a reply, enjoy what you choose. Oh yes and I put meals on my to do list as they are things I organise and then I can tick them off as things done in the day.

  6. This is so proactive! I usually just whine about my problems, but you think of solutions. WHAT A CONCEPT!! Also, I cannot imagine how your brain works that you could write all of this out and not see that YOU HAVE A SH*T TON OF STUFF GOING ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Big hugs.

  7. Oops. I hit publish before I meant to. Recently, a writing coach suggested that I answer any hypothetical question I'm asking (even if I don't know I'm asking it). And so when I think "Everyone hates me!" or "So and so hates me!" She suggests that this is actually a hypothetical question. She suggests I ask myself "What if so and so hates me?" And then answer it. Nearly always, the answer is, "I will live. I might be sad, but it won't kill me." Not sure if that would help you, but it sure has put a few things in perspective for me.

    Also, I commend you on wanting to be there for your family now, while you can, while there are games to go to, while there are people to eat the dinners. No, you can't do it all, but big kudos for recognizing how these days will be gone some time and you won't be able to go to the games you didn't go to or cook the meals you didn't cook. I don't mean this as pressure, but as a compliment. I see you. I hear you. I feel your desire to be present for your family. That's huge.

    Also also also, please never feel as if you need to reply to my comments. As a fellow influ-whatever-the-heck-we-are-encer, I get how time slips through your hands.

  8. You use an iPhone, right? If you've never tried it, there is a keyboard setting called "slide to type" which basically lets you keep your finger on the keyboard continuously and just swipe it to each letter you want. It is super fast and really pretty good at figuring out what you're going for - it even automatically adds spaces between words. You should try it out, I think it would make your index finger texting a lot faster.

  9. Soaking beans isn't necessary for a lot of slow cooking recipes. Lentils need no soaking, for example, and I never soak my Great Northern Beans for bean soup. Or black beans for black bean ragout: https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/slow-cooked-black-bean-ragout/ (This is really good, by the way, over rice, and non-vegans could add pre cooked smoke sausage or something).

  10. Two suggestions I have. First, a vegan dish you can make in a slow cooker - You can adjust the amounts of everything to what works for you, but you essentially put dried lentils into a slow cooker with raisins, curry powder, and coconut milk (you can add water or broth as well, if you want more liquid for the lentils to cook in, or you can use all coconut milk). It is simple and delicious.

    For replying to emails/texts/etc, have you tried using the swipe-to-type option? Instead of poking each letter on the keyboard on the phone, you swipe across the keyboard to each letter in the word and it autogenerates. There is definitely a bit of a learning curve, it takes a little while to get it really smooth and figured out, but it was seriously a game changer for me. It went from being super frustrating to try to type anything more than a few words to being able to comfortably type just about whatever I want. I would suggest turning that function on on your phone and sticking with it for at least two weeks, to see if you can get used to it and like it. (And I promise, I'm not super young and natural at these things, I'm in my late 30s)

  11. Maybe consider the home improvement activities (building stuff, cleaning etc) also as healthy movement/exercise? It's accurate, and may help to feel less guilt over not running/walking, and that may provide extra motivation to do/finish those kind of jobs when they are stagnating.

    Aside from this, the urban design in the US seems just crazy - it must take a lot of time away. Here kids can and do just bike to all their schools/clubs etc themselves (or they bike with their parents, until they reach a certain age, e.g., between 6-10 typically, depending on the amount of traffic). Much healthier for them and the environment as well, rather than having to drive everywhere - which takes so much time away to do actually useful (or fun) stuff. (for an illustration of this, check out `notjustbikes' on youtube).


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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