Eating Sustainably

On the surface eating sustainably could be viewed as for the environment only, but what about your personal environment – your health, home and happiness? 

On the podcast we talked about eating sustainably in a traditional sense – supporting local agencies and those with humane practices. I encourage you to listen to that episode here. I have had additional thoughts since we recorded about what sustainable eating means for each dimension of Sustainable Productivity (SusPro). That is what I want to explore more with you today. 

Click on the photo to go to the podcast episode page.

Health and Fitness: Nutrition

Nutrition is a component of the Health and Fitness SusPro dimension. The quality of nutrition has a direct impact on your health. It is probably the most intuitive connection to eating sustainably. 

Maybe you choose to eat meat – or not. Maybe you are gluten intolerant – or not. Regardless of what healthy eating means to you, the common theme is to make changes that are sustainable. As you make small adjustments to your nutrition, ask yourself the SusPro questions:

1. Am I getting the outcome I want?

2. Can I continue to do this lifelong if I want to?

If you eliminate a food group because you are trying to be healthy, but don’t have enough energy to be physically active are you really getting the outcome you want?

If you restrict calories thinking it is healthy, but you are hungry and irritated all the time is this something you can continue to do lifelong?

Eating sustainably is as much about habits as the food itself.

Mental Well-being: Relationships

Relationships are a component of the Mental Well-being SusPro dimension. Since food tends to be a natural gathering point, eating sustainably can have a direct impact here. What if you incorporate the idea of eating sustainably into your relationships?

Case Study 1.

Eating sustainably means making adjustments for the season of life you are in. Maybe fall means an especially busy couple months for your family. In order to eat healthy in a way that sustains your sanity, this fall means brown bags in the van or picnics at the ball field with your people. Instead of eating in shifts around games and practices, what if you gathered for 15 minutes in a park in between everyone’s destination to eat a cooler dinner. Young kids especially might be delighted by an al fresco dinner party.

Case study 2.

It is not too early to think about eating sustainably over the holidays. My husband’s family has a few football coaches in it. In order to give them (and their families) some breathing room these holidays, we are moving our gathering to January or February. What is important is gathering in a low stress time to eat together. One of the things I cherish most about these folks is that they are flexible and know what is important to them. I know so many families who implode if Christmas is not celebrated on December 25. Not my in laws. Sustainable relationships are gathering at a time when we can be focused on each other, not on the clock and having to rush off to the next thing.

Case study 3.

What if eating sustainably encompassed experiences with those you are in relationship with? My teenage niece had a slumber part this summer where they made pasta from scratch for their dinner. The idea of pulling these teens away from phones to interact with each other in the kitchen is what eating sustainably means to me. Then bonus when my niece went to visit my dad and she discovered Papa had a Kitchen Aid mixer too! I cried when my sister sent pictures of Sydney cooking for her grandpa. I am sure it is a core memory for him too.

Source: Disney Tumblr

Environmental Surroundings: Physical Clutter

Physical clutter is a component of the Environmental Surroundings SusPro dimension and certainly impacts eating sustainably. Although this has changed over the years, for us it has to do with how we meal plan – we are working on doing a better job at eating what we have. Setting up our physical space to support this is important. Here are a few ways we reduce our physical clutter to support eating sustainably.

1. Clear expired pantry food a couple times each year. I am always stunned to find out spices and hot sauce expire, but they do. Before I met Bixby I thought I was a bad cook. Turns out my spices expired in the 1990s. 

2. Pare down appliances. My husband does the cooking and is the gatekeeper to what tools come into his kitchen. He has a rule to not clutter the kitchen with one trick ponies. Garlic press can only press garlic. He has wicked knife skills so it takes less time for him to dice garlic than it does for me to clean the garlic press so out it went. 

3. Make things easier to find. We moved seldom used tools to a separate space. There is no need to move the cake decorating tools out of the way every time we need the pasta pot or immersion blender. The once or twice a year we need to decorate a cake, we can pull that box down from the higher shelf. 

Sustainable You Questions

1. Can you identify what eating sustainably means to you today, in this season of life?

2. How can you get more of that or reduce the barrier to getting more?

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-13T13:42:51-04:00September 20th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Inconvenience as Sustainable Productivity

People often think that as a productivity coach I offer hacks, tips, and tricks to get more done. 

Nope. I truly cannot stand the term, “hack.” 

I would rather help you find out how to do more of what matters and delegate the rest to the floor.  The message that I want you to hear is about SUSTAINABLE productivity, not just productivity. Sometimes sustainability is not convenient. Sometimes sustainability is not pleasing to other people. But this is your life. To paraphrase poet Mary Oliver, “What will you do with your wild and precious life?”

Disconnection

I would like to suggest you consider being / doing / consuming less convenience. Recently on the Conscious Contact Podcast, Genay and I talk about fast food – the convenience of it and how it encourages this “hurry up” type of life. Please hear this – convenience encouraging a “hurry up” life extends beyond fast food that does not satiate.

Here are a few non-food examples:

1 – One night stands don’t satiate the need for connection with others. 

2 – Over exercising doesn’t satiate the need for connection with our bodies. 

This lack of feeling satiated or satisfied leads to disconnection. That disconnection leads to feelings of needing to numb out or escape your life. You deserve to have more than this with your one wild, precious life. 

“Joy is a state of appreciation that allows us to fully participate in life.” Pema Chodron

Recovery

One way to inch toward creating more connection is to make small adjustments over time. This can be done in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity – health, happiness, and habitat. 

Health – Nutrition

In the podcast we go into depth about ways to move away from convenience food. But maybe smaller steps are needed to make the sustainable forward progress. Today maybe you eat fast food biscuits twice a week. What if one week you made the tube biscuits that pop on one day and had fast food biscuits one day. Try that for a few weeks, then you might have poppable biscuits at home both days. 

If that feels Sustainably Productive for you, experiment with biscuit recipes and move away from the tube biscuits. Connect with the process of cooking. Bank the money you save for a special reward – clothes, a movie, books are my favorite, of course. Include your people in the process to make the connection even more special.

Bixby and my niece making homemade ravioli over the summer.
The time Bixby taught my niece how to use a kitchen torch. It went deliciously well!

Happiness – Career

If you are feeling disconnected from your career, instead of quitting, consider what is not working for you. One of the most life changing things I learned about burnout came from Jim Loehr in the book The Power of Full Engagement, “If you never fully disconnect, you can never really connect.”

Do you sneak looks at your work email after dinner on your phone while watching TV with your kids? Do you work on that one report “real quick” on Sunday morning instead of going to church with your spouse because you are golfing later? How often do you lose sleep because you are replaying work conversations in your head?

Not productive. Not sustainable. 

What are small ways you can work on disconnecting in order to make connection that much more special? Here are a few things that worked for me when I was at a particularly burned out point in my career:

I took lunch away from my desk with no coworkers. Even if it was just 15 minutes to eat my brown bag lunch on a bench or in my car, the break was impactful.

Put limits on weekend work. I had to ween myself off weekend work. Only Sundays for awhile, then only Sunday afternoon, then only what I could bring home, then only an hour. Until I stopped weekend work completely. Cold turkey is hard – use a step down approach when needed.

Double the time you think it will take to do ANYTHING. If you block 30 minutes to work on that performance review, expand it to an hour. We have a tendency to overestimate ourselves and underestimate the task. 

Habitat – Physical clutter

If your home is feeling cluttered, instead of doing a trash bag shovel out disconnecting with ALL the stuff, consider what specifically is not working. 

Do you have a cabinet that has stuff fall out every time you open it? Is your sock drawer so stuffed you cannot open it? If you need to start smaller, take 10 minutes to wander around your home with a piece of paper and pen. Open cabinets and drawers, look at the memorabilia on shelves and photos on walls. Does your environment give you the vibe you are going for? If not, what is 1 area that you know you cannot accept lifelong – start there. 

Sustainable You Questions

1 – Do you seek out convenience so that you can jam more activities into less time? Why do you think that is?

2 – How is that working for you? How does that feel in your body at the moment you are jamming things into less time? 

If you like what you read, you might like what you hear. Subscribe to the Conscious Contact podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. 

By |2022-09-05T14:30:42-04:00September 6th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Podcast: Planning that does not suck your soul

A couple weeks ago I was planning for the June – July – August quarter. As usual I identified one thing in each dimension of Sustainable Productivity to focus on. That means one thing for Health and Fitness, one thing for Mental Well-being, and  one thing for Environmental Surroundings.

I broke it down into an action that I could do daily and wrote the goal to be able to say yes or no that it was done (all the better to check that box in the habit tracker. This was fine for the Mental Well-being and Environmental Surroundings dimensions.

Then I got to the Health and Fitness dimension.

I literally had 5 hours per day. FIVE.

Sure, it sounded fun today, but after a couple weeks it would certainly suck my soul.

I had to coach myself up a bit and return to the two Sustainable Productivity questions:

  1. Is this productive – am I getting the result I want?
  2. Is this sustainable – can I continue lifelong if I want?

The clear answer to both of these questions was no – a laughable no. Not a shaming laugh, but a, “Wow, do I slide back into old, bad habits quick?!” laugh.

In the podcast this week Genay and I talk about getting realistic about planning, which is of course the root of Sustainable Productivity. You can listen here or anywhere you get your podcasts.

As I wrap up this post, I want to ask if you would share the podcast or these posts with someone you think would relate. I often get people telling me to let them know how they can help me grow as a writer, speaker, and podcaster. Share, share, share. The most common way podcasts of our size grow is word of mouth. Recommending Sustainable Sue or Conscious Contact to someone would mean the world to me. Thank you!!

By |2022-06-07T09:48:48-04:00June 14th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Boredom

This week Genay and I go toe to toe on whether boredom is good or bad. Debate between us is always interesting because both of us suck at the grey area. We have a tendency to see things as black and white, bimodal, with me or against me, etc.

We talked about being “bored” as kids and how that looks today. We also spend a bit of time breaking down the different components of the definition of boredom.

Boredom: state of being weary and restless through lack of interest.

Weary

Sometimes what I call boredom is actually a signal that it is time to move on. This might be weary in a relationship – trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I have had friendly and romantic relationships where I felt more lonely with that person than by myself. I grew weary of trying to make it be different.  I did not identify this as boredom at the time, but looking at it from a distance I can see how it can be stale boredom to do the same thing over and over when all you want is something else.

Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

Lack of interest

The book I can only read a few pages of at a time. The craft project that I rush through just to be done. Skipping the last set of nerve glide exercises because I am sick to death of them.

All examples of how boredom shows up as lack of interest.

Restless

This is where I start to turn the corner on boredom – this restlessness can actually be considered a positive if it creates space to allow creativity in. Here are a couple ways this presents in my life these days:

  • Puttering through chores.

Some days I am just bored with the daily mundane work of being an adult. One trick Bixby and I use is to set a timer for 15 – 60 minutes, put on our favorite playlist to play throughout speakers all over the house, and divide and conquer on tasks. At the end of the timer, sometimes we quit on the spot, sometimes we wrap up the task, sometimes we continue to clean, etc.

But the opposite is also true – instead of jamming through a finite time slot, puttering around can be successful. I fill out a form and take it to the mailbox. While I am out there I see flowers to deadhead and get the scissors from inside. Dropping the deadheads in the compost bin, I decide to turn the compost. Then throw the ball for Lucille.

I go inside and take a stack of books upstairs and see a load of laundry needs to be put in. Sweeping the stairs leads to folding napkins. Turning over the laundry leads to matching odd socks.

It all leaves space to naturally lead to whatever the universe brings to my attention.

  • Sitting and not meditating. Not every second needs to be accounted for. Truly. Louder for the people in the back

NOT EVERY SECOND NEEDS TO BE ACCOUNTED FOR. 

Ok, if you need to account for it, call this “restless mind syndrome” and assign it a 5-minute time block. Literally sitting down with no agenda, no book, no TV or phone, and NOT trying to clear the mind. I keep a notebook and pencil for anything that flows in. I find that it takes a few minutes to start to trickle in. Then WHOOSH – floodgates.

Genay and I talk ourselves in circles and as usual the answer to if something good or bad, we came to the conclusion: yes.

You can listen to the whole episode here or wherever you get your podcasts. But I just need to summarize that this topic has lead back to something that I have been working a lot on – Making space.

Space to learn something new.

Meet new people.

Do something new.

React differently – or not at all.

Maybe listening to our thoughts on boredom will shake something loose for you. I would love to hear about it in the comments or email me at Susan@sustainablesue.com.

By |2022-05-22T15:37:39-04:00May 31st, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

I want to catch you up on the fun stuff that has been happening while on hiatus.

Remember how I said I wanted to get my Tupperware drawer in order? I did approximately zero minutes of that.

Live footage of the jumble of plastic containers.

But what I did do was become a co-host of a podcast.

A friend of mine started the Conscious Contact podcast earlier this year. Here is the description:

Do you hate small talk? Do you often think about how to live a meaningful life, and where we get our reference for what is important in life? Join your host, Genay Peavey, and special guests as they dive into how they reconnect with the present, pursue their bigger purpose (and how they found it), and put the phones down so they can actively participate in their lives.

Sounds like Sustainable Productivity, right?! I thought so too and was delighted when she asked me to be one of her first guests. You can listen to that episode here.

Things just naturally progressed and now I am onboard as cohost!

I am excited about the podcast medium. I did not think the speaking thing was going to be my jam, but Genay makes it super easy, and we both have the same intention with our creative efforts.

If you want to learn along with us, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. We are on most podcast platforms. You can also follow us on Instagram at @consciouscontactpodcast

By |2022-05-11T08:03:54-04:00May 11th, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Hi, Remember Me?

I know, I know. My “2-week break” turned into a 6 months (ish) sabbatical.

I have written this post in my head a bazillion times but it never made it to the page computer screen.

Lots of life went down last fall leading to my hiatus. I can’t go into it all because a lot of it is not my story to tell, but honestly – it doesn’t matter what it was.

We all have our shit, ya know? It isn’t a shit show contest.

If it isn’t sustainable, stop it. And that is where I have been, trying to tighten the circle to make it sustainable. But at the same time, trying to hold on loosely.

It’s a balancing act, yo.

I can’t promise I am going to spin glorious prose and words of anything near wisdom. But I am going to start forming public sentences again as part of One Day May social media challenge. I hope to see you over there.

And of course here next week!

By |2022-09-18T10:02:00-04:00May 3rd, 2022|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Out of Office

I am taking 2 weeks away to take a step back and recharge. Circle the wagons, if you will. I am taking time off from my day job during Thanksgiving week and plan to hit all the dimensions of a Sustainably Productive life.

  • Health and Fitness: hikes in the woods with Lucille, followed by naps.
  • Mental Well-being: lots of time on hobbies, including crafting with friends.
  • Environmental Surroundings: clearing mismatched Tupperware and putting up Christmas decorations.

I wish you a relaxing start to your holiday season. I hope you take time to recharge, even if you have to say no to a few fun things to create more space in the long run.

By |2022-09-18T10:03:12-04:00November 16th, 2021|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

Fuel, Heat, and Oxygen for your Soul

Remember a couple weeks ago when I said I was living life on a banana peel and only doing crafts to try to make some proverbial space?

Leave it to the queens of authenticity and vulnerability to say it better. Glennon Doyle’s podcast is one of the best things out there. Last week’s episodes touched on this idea of creativity and making space, and said it in a way that resonates all the way to my gut.

The first episode of the week talked about creativity, “Writing & Art: When does your real self get to breathe and be seen?” This really made me think about when I write posts that let my real self breathe vs when I am writing to teach. What is my mission and purpose for this space I write in each week? Do I need to change how I am approaching content that I put out?

Then the second episode of the week was Glennon’s sister Amanda’s view on creativity and generally being “non-productive.” In the episode, “Creativity, Chemistry & Claiming Your Joy,” Amanda talked about a recent valley she was in and the realization that it is not her family’s fault – she needs to take ownership of her needs.

She talked about that need with the metaphor of fire. Fire takes fuel, heat, and oxygen. Without letting oxygen in, the flame dies. You need space for oxygen to come in to fan the fire. Creative pursuits are the fuel and your desire to be creative is the heat.

I have the desire and the fuel. But man that O2 is tough to come by these days.

And life is smothering lately.

And what helps when I am smothered is to do things that breathe life into my soul. These 2 podcasts are such a more eloquent way to say how I feel. I hope you find it helpful as well. The podcasts are well worth the listen.

By |2022-09-18T10:05:16-04:00October 26th, 2021|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

When Home Changes

The definition of home can change over the years. It is hard to have to let go of “homes” that no longer serve you, represent you, or match your definition of home.

This could be shifting roles in family life, friend groups changing, additional job responsibilities or countless other ways your settled “homey” feelings are kicked off their axis.

It might not be as dramatic as your daily schedule proverbially burning down or moving to a new literal home. It might be a subtle nagging that time spent in a space or relationship is no longer the soft place to fall that you thought it was.

When we think about this through the Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) lens, it means to ask yourself two questions:

  • Is it productive for me: Am I getting the desired outcome?
  • Is it sustainable for me: Can I continue this lifelong if I want?

If the answer to either one of these SusPro questions is no, it is time for an adjustment.

3-Step Adjustment

Once you decide something is no longer Sustainably Productive for you, you can take action through these small, manageable steps. This is not the time to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sweeping, dramatic changes are not SusPro and often lead to burnout and negative self-talk. Not to mention don’t solve the problem that brought the need for change in the first place.

1 – Name what is not working

This could look and feel a million different ways depending on the issue and your life circumstances. Don’t overthink it. It could be activities just not fitting into the schedule this season. Maybe it is feeling drained after drinks with friends instead of fulfilled. Never quite finding time to reading the selection for book club – for a whole year.

Don’t judge what you name – let it be what comes up. No matter how trivial, petty, or small it might be.

2 – Make small changes

Once you name what is not working, brainstorm ways to make small SusPro changes. Don’t quit book club altogether, let the group know you can only commit to every other month. Instead of always having drinks with that One Friend, maybe ask that mom you see at band pick up if she wants to grab coffee. Or go have coffee with yourself instead of someone who leaves you drained.

If you are not sure how to make a change to what is eating your lunch every day, keep an eye out for when you DO feel at home. Certain clothing, rooms in your home, smells, people, activities, etc. How can you add more of that? Maybe you don’t need to stop having drinks with that friend, but you try to add other people, change to dessert earlier in the night, or just wear different pants!

3 – Evaluate

After a few rounds of your small changes, decide if it is working or not. This could be several months if you are backing off of book club, but it could be days if you are trying steel cut oats for breakfast instead of donuts. Take yourself full circle as ask the SusPro questions:

  • Is it productive for me: Am I getting the desired outcome?
  • Is it sustainable for me: Can I continue this lifelong if I want?

If the answer to either one of these SusPro questions is no, it is time for an adjustment.

Keep in mind the answer might be MAYBE. If you are not able to say no, keep going and see what develops. You might just be in the stage of habit change where you are resetting routines and neural pathways. Give it time to bake in before deciding.

Your Turn

Are you feeling comfortable in your literal and proverbial “home” these days? If so – identify why and what makes you feel at home. If not – what is not working and what small changes can you make?

By |2021-10-18T17:27:14-04:00October 19th, 2021|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

What SusPro is Not

Let’s pause for a moment in our personal growth to clarify what Sustainable Productivity is NOT.

Getting More Done

The Sustainably Productive (Sus Pro) life is not about getting more done.

I repeat – it is NOT about getting MORE done.

It is about getting the right things done in a way that you can maintain over time so that you don’t need to numb yourself to live your life.

It is right there in the name: Sustainable Productivity. SusPro for short.

Productive: Are you getting the intended result?

Sustainable: Can you continue this over time?

A Sustainably Productive life is one you don’t need to escape.

A Destination

A SusPro life is not a destination. It is something you can do now. Today. This moment. Start by asking yourself 2 questions:

  1. Is this working for me?
  2. Can I maintain it for life if I want to?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then it is time to make adjustments. These adjustments are also part of the SusPro life. It is a path to walk, not a place to go. Start where you are.

Protection Against Bad Things Happening

The third thing SusPro is not is protection against bad things happening. Living a SusPro life is not about perfection – you will probably backslide into overcommitting or people pleasing. It does not mean you won’t sometimes feel prickly or judgy. But prickly and judgy is neither productive nor sustainable. Don’t stop here.

What I would like to suggest is that when bad things happen, when you feel prickly and judgy – that is a time to take stock in what you have and how far you have come. This is the time to rest on your laurels and find gratitude.

Your Turn

What is your version of prickly and judgy? How do you know when you need to pause and be grateful? What are you grateful for today, in this moment?

By |2021-09-19T08:44:30-04:00September 21st, 2021|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

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