What’s So Wrong About Automatic?

Miranda Lambert has a new song out called "Automatic."

She reminisces about pay phones, drying laundry on the line, cassette tapes, hand-crank car windows, and mailing letters, among other things, and then she reaches the chorus, in which she laments:

Hey, whatever happened to waitin' your turn
Doing it all by hand,
'Cause when everything is handed to you
It's only worth as much as the time put in
It all just seemed so good the way we had it
Back before everything became automatic

Now, look. I'm a notorious late adopter. I'll poo-poo a new trend for weeks, months, or even years, until all of a sudden I one day HAVE TO HAVE IT. And I've been known to express wariness over changes to things I've always liked. And yet, I have such a strong reaction to this song.

Why do we idealize the times when we had to do everything by hand? What's so wrong with automatic? At its best, technology makes our lives easier and frees up time for us to focus on the things that are important to us. It makes communication a breeze, it makes doing research faster, and it makes the whole world our oyster. Sure, people abuse it. We've all been guilty of staring at our phones when we're eating dinner with our friends or even our family. But let's have a conversation about using technology well, rather than one about the happy golden days of yore.

Yore is gone. Technology is here to stay, and is going to keep evolving. And I'm not sure automatic is such a bad thing.

Aches & Pains

My back has been hurting lately.

I feel like an 85-year-old even typing that sentence, but it's true.

It started on our recent trip to Ireland. I chalked it up to be scrunched into two different airplane seats for hours at a time, spending a lot of time riding in the car (through beautiful Irish country side, but still), and transitioning from one unfamiliar mattress and pillow to another in the B&Bs where we stayed. But we got home and it was literally keeping me up at night some nights because I just couldn't get comfortable.

So I emailed my mom to ask for some back stretches, and she reminded me that everything is connected. You know, the hip bone's connected to the back bone" and all that jazz. I've been trying to stretch out my hips and hamstrings as well as my back and it seems to be helping some, but the dull ache sort of comes and goes.

And then I read this post that an acquaintance wrote. He's been dealing with a debilitating back injury for over two years, and it all started with some innocuous enough lower back pain.

Here's what he writes:

Take care of yourself before it’s a requirement. I’m not saying this injury wouldn’t have happened regardless, but I have a feeling that if I’d gotten my body to a state of true functionality, strength, and mobility in the past, I wouldn’t be dealing with this issue right now. If it had happened anyway, a more healthy body would’ve likely allowed for a quicker recovery. Since late high school and through college, I worked out routinely and ate fairly healthy (I at least knew how I should be eating, even if I didn’t always follow my own knowledge). However, I never truly dedicated myself 100% to getting my body to a functional state of operation. It’s so much easier, cheaper, and enjoyable to take preventative measures for your health than it is to deal with injuries, sickness, and dysfunction. It’s worth your time and effort to eat healthy, exercise, mind your posture, maintain flexibility and mobility, and visit the chiropractor & massage therapist before it’s a requirement! Not taking care of my body to my fullest ability and extent is my largest regret in the past—going forward will be a different story. Take care of your body!

His injury is no joke y'all! I think I've really been sitting too much lately. I haven't been eating as well, I haven't been exercising as much, and I really feel like I can tell my hips get tighter throughout the day as I sit at my desk at work, sit on the couch at home, etc. etc. I need to for real dedicate to some stretching.

I will say, I've read some articles suggesting that stress can play into muscle pain, too, and there has been a lot going on in my life lately, so I'm sure that's part of it. But I still know there are some physical things I can do to start ameliorating the problem. Hopefully I'll feel more comfortable, sleep better, and have a healthy back for the long haul!

Have you dealt with any unexpected physical issues? How do you deal with out-of-your-norm aches and pains?

The No-Plan Meal Plan

One way to simplify meal planning is not to be home for dinner ever. I'm only half joking when I say that. I haven't necessarily meant to do it but that's what's been happening lately!

The tag line for my blog is "living a frugal and fulfilling life." The two can certainly go hand in hand, but there will be seasons when one adjective wins out more frequently than the other. It's not frugal to eat out several times in a week, but it frees up space for fulfilling activities. (And often the food and the fulfilling activity are concurrent.)

This week, we're going to a friend's place on Tuesday for a Passover Seder. On Wednesday, we're going on a belated anniversary date to eat at Barrelhouse and go see The Lion King at the Fox Theatre. Thursday is another meal at a friend's place, and Friday is a friend's birthday party. What?! That's the whole work week right there, and only two dinners at home!

We've been running hard for the past few weeks, and it's exhausting, but it's also exhilarating. And, it makes my life much simpler to not feel like I have to make dinner happen at home. It's much less stressful to just succumb to the rollercoaster and eat where it makes sense to, whether that's at whatever social event or meetup we're attending or whether it means grabbing something on the way to or from.

I've been spending a bit less on groceries accordingly, but definitely not as much less as we've been spending on convenience. And we're okay with that for right now. It's not worth it to be stubbornly frugal at the expense of your sanity.

I'd been trying to simplify dinners lately, so it's kind of amusing that on the heels of that came these crazy, crazy weeks. Life is less simple in other ways, but dinner sure has been easy!

How do you cope with times when your schedule blows up? What's your go-to convenience dinner?

NEW FEATURE: Sunday Links

I know you were wondering what on earth you were going to read on the Internet today. HAVE NO FEAR! A new feature is here. These are some of my favs from the web this week.

  • On learning to avoid the trap of unnecessary perfectionism:
    "...the story has since become my touchstone when I find myself veering back into unnecessary perfectionism. “Are you doing the river thing again?” I’ll ask myself." I think I might adopt that.
  • Life is good for the bookstore cat. If only they could read.
  • Loving this song by Sarah Bareilles right now.

    "We are not perfect / We'll learn from our mistakes / And as long as it takes / I will prove my love to you"

  • Vegetable alfredo pasta bake...sounds like comfort food to me!
  • Making friends as an adult is hard. I've written about it. And I keep finding more posts along the same lines. Erika's first of nine reassurances? "You are not alone."
  • A cute printable for your closet! "Put on love."
  • And finally, new shoes to add to my shopping list, thanks to Sarah.
  • My week in tweets:

    Follow me for more of the same. You know, wit, wisdom, and unparalleled beauty...

    these little wonders

    4 years ago today...

    My favorite wedding picture.
    My favorite wedding picture.

    When you're 21, you don't know you're 21. I've always been mature for my age, and I scoffed at the thought that we were "getting married so young." I thought I knew what I was getting into. And in many ways, I did. But what a lifetime together means gets brought into stark relief when it's four years later and you've both grown up a lot. I've given up on the cookie cutter I expected my life to be cut with. And it's richer. It's so much richer.

    "Let me eat cake?"
    "Let me eat cake?"

    It's dessert. I don't need dessert, but it makes a meal more enjoyable. I like having someone to come home to. I like being the one who someone else comes home to.

    Our first dance was to the Rob Thomas song "Little Wonders." I hadn't heard it in years until I listened to it while I wrote this post. Yet I can still understand exactly why I picked it. It still gives me the chills I got on our wedding day, swaying awkwardly in the middle of the big dance floor, these little wonders of the weighty words we had just exchanged.

    Let it go,
    Let it roll right off your shoulder
    Don't you know
    The hardest part is over
    Let it in,
    Let your clarity define you
    In the end
    We will only just remember how it feels

    Our lives are made
    In these small hours
    These little wonders,
    These twists & turns of fate
    Time falls away,
    But these small hours,
    These small hours still remain.

    Marriage means making that promise over and over again, every time you change jobs, every time you move, every time you fight, every night you sleep together, every time you stress out over health insurance, every time you pack his lunch, every time you clean the bathroom.

    Let it slide,
    Let your troubles fall behind you
    Let it shine
    Until you feel it all around you
    And i don't mind
    If it's me you need to turn to
    We'll get by,
    It's the heart that really matters in the end

    Our lives are made
    In these small hours
    These little wonders,
    These twists & turns of fate
    Time falls away,
    But these small hours,
    These small hours still remain.

    Every time. We remain.