December, with its new year’s eve and the preceding lunar eclipse was immensely, eerily transformative, so much so it surprised even me. I spent much of the month away from work, sorting things out, cleaning, and filling pages of my Moleskine, laying out plans and cataloging everything the past year effectuated. Then, New Year’s eve itself was an awakening experience which I’m not going to get into here. Suffice to say that when Ales and I woke up in the afternoon of January 1, everything was different and beautiful.
Now, after nearly a month of reflection and plotting, I’m armed and ready to take 2011 in top form. Rarrf! This means maintaining optimal performance, so read on as I share some of my daily brain-zapping methods amidst photos taken around our house.
For me, as for most free agents, Getting It Done always means Discipline, yes, with a capital D. Working on a minimum of four separate projects at any given time means a schedule optimized for health, energy, and super brain function. These are essential if one is to have a work day that’s exciting, fulfilling, and still ends, leaving enough time to be ALIVE.
I remember days when I would work from the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep, barely moving and surviving on RedBull and Cheetos. This is no way to live, comrades. Ever since I left SGHQ in 2009, I’ve been perfecting my daily ritual, finding and implementing methods that wouldn’t just wake me up, but keep me zesteh until bedtime. There is always more to discover, but here is how I do right now:
Some of this year’s planned reading, antique veterinary syringe
Vintage medical guide, spooky doll head, one of my paintings
1. Meditation. Ideally, I meditate in the morning before I get out of bed. This sets me into motion for the rest of the day. If I can, I do it again in the afternoon.
A couple of years ago, I read David Lynch’s “Catching the Big Fish“, where he talks extensively about the ways meditation changed his life. Slowing down and clearing my head has always been massively challenging, but this was the book that finally inspired me to Do It.
2. Exercise. In Russia, morning exercise is called “Zaryadka“, which loosely translates to “Charging-up”. I live by this concept, beginning the day with a 10 to 20-minute workout. This is usually ten minutes of cardio, 40 sit-ups, 20 pushups, and whatever else I feel like doing. Sometimes I power-walk with the dog. Sometimes I blast dubstep and dance around the house like a hellbeast. Anything that gets my blood pumping and makes me feel good works just fine.
I also do additional sit-ups or push-ups between each project. It’s an effective way to boost my energy and reset my brain for the next thing.
Exactly what it looks like
3. Food! I often talk about rejecting processed food on here, so I’ll spare you the lecture. One thing I’ve found in recent days is that eating carbs, processed sugar, or anything resembling cereal in the morning makes me groggy and lazy. I try to have at least three components to my breakfast, and to snack on fruit and nuts during the day to keep the powahh flowing. And I’m assuming we all know about taking vitamins and drinking tons of water, so I’ll spare you that lecture, too. However! There are certain foods that actually increase your brain function. My favorites are:
- Wild Salmon – [has to be wild] Essential Fatty Acids (like Omega-3), and the lowest levels of mercury and other bad stuff
- Yellowfin Tuna – more Omega-3
- Blueberries – antioxidants galore
- Sweet potatoes – full of B6!
- Matcha – can be pricey, but well worth it, because matcha is stuffed with all sorts of amazing stuff. Vitamins such as C and A, antioxidants, catechins, and L-Theanine are all here.
- Flax seeds – choline
- Olive Oil – choline
- Coffee, and I’m not talking about big fat caramel-sugar-lard concoctions here. Have an espresso or take some good beans, grind ‘em up and brew yourself a fresh cup every once in a while – coffee beans [and cacao beans!] are full of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Painting by Saturno Butto
4. Sunlight, and I certainly don’t mean tanning. I open all the curtains the moment I get out of bed, and try to work in front of a window. Did you know that sunlight stimulates things like appetite and metabolism? It does! It also improves the immune system, circulation, increases production of your red blood cells , endorphins, and your serotonin. UNF. Sunlight balances hormones and can help with some symptoms of PMS. It will help you sleep better at night, too, because sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin. Need I say more?
5. Planning. After breakfast, I write out a time table for my tasks, and try to stick with it. For me, this is the only way to stay on track and make sure everything gets attention. I don’t limit this to workstuff, either – there are more important things in life, as it turns out.