When Life Gets Stale: How to Fix a Life Gone…fine.

Sometimes life can get a little stale.

Midwest winter is coming, after all, and that involves a lot of being inside and then being inside some more, and then continuing to be inside. Not exactly thrilling.

And before I say another word, I recognize a “stale” life is a problem of the privileged.

“Oh no! My job with cool people and awesome healthcare that lets me pay my loans, put a roof over my head, and buy occasional sweaters with woodland animals can occasionally be a little one-note! It’s giving me no ideas for my lifestyle blog!”

I’m not expecting anyone to feel sorry for me. Don’t worry! I’m really really excellent at feeling sorry for me. Enough for the both of us. Here is the list of things I’m great at:

  1. Scarf-having
  2. Feeling sorry for myself
  3. Clapping on the beat

“Feeling sorry for myself” would be first, but I’m just really great at scarves.

So yeah, that part’s covered. But if you find yourself thinking, “hey! My life is as stale as a year-old box of saltines with a stamp-collecting hobby!” here are some options that work for me:

  • Pout
  • Loudly pout
  • Loudly, aggressively pout
  • Start writing poetry (probably about your pouting)
  • Read your loud-aggresive-pout poetry to your office mate
  • Take up calligraphy, so you can frame your loud-aggresive-pout-poetry that your office mate really loves, and remember it forever!
  • Remember no one likes a pouter or a pouter poet, except your office mate of course, and start planning your hypothetical Eat, Pray, Love-discover-yourself trip
  • Be sad when you can’t actually afford your Eat, Pray, Love-discover-yourself trip
  • Tell your office mate about how sad you are
  • Decide to make a vision board!
  • Decide you don’t want to spend money on the required three bottles of vision-board glitter, so you just think about a vision-board instead.

And when you realize that none of these things actually get you anywhere, here are some other options to try:

Take a Day Trip

This weekend, I’m going to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Art Museum has an exhibition about German cinema. Do I know anything about or particularly like German cinema? No! But a museum show about German cinema is not the inside of my apartment! Hooray!

Websites like Atlas Obscura and Roadside America help you find unexpected, weird, and unique attractions in your backyard, and many of them are…wait for it… free. You can save money for your Eat, Pray, Love-discover-yourself-and-also-discover-some-Italian-food trip!

Other options:

  • Take a hike! (But not in the sassy “get out” way! In a “nature is so fun and green!” way)
  • Try a new restaurant in a nearby town. Especially if they have pie.
  • Go to a museum. They’ll be really excited to see you.

Learn a Language

This is the owl that every day at 12:00 reminds you that you aren’t yet fluent in French.

I have feelings about the DuoLingo owl.

I hate him. Those are my feelings about the DuoLingo owl.

Aside from my feud with that know-it-all jerk, DuoLingo has the right idea. It’s a free app for your phone or iPad that offers lessons in different languages.

If bossy owls aren’t your thing, other apps include: livemocha.com, Memrise.com

Or if we broaden the definition of “language,” websites like codeacademy.com, codeavengers.com, or if you’re more project-oriented, you can try treehouse.com, will teach you coding languages, something that never hurts to have in your back pocket.

Cook something ridiculous. (Involve fire if you can.)

Or a big honkin’ fish.

Fire isn’t required, per say. I’m just saying, you’ll be a less interesting person if you don’t include fire in your next cooking adventure.

Or don’t include pyrotechnics. That’s cool too.

What I’m getting at is… try and find a recipe that A) you’ve never made before and B) is at least a little bit involved. Interesting and complicated food is a quick and easy way to shake up your “roast chicken and also roast vegetable and roast roasty roasting” rhythm you’ve been rocking lately.

If I’ve learned anything from Kenji Lopez-Alt, master of the 2837 step recipe, it is that a little bit of exactitude and complication means the food you end up with is that much more delicious. Sometimes if something tastes like you been working at it for hours, it requires you to work at it for hours.

So find a recipe that makes you think, “wow. 33 ingredients? All right. I guess I’m in.” And chances are, at least 29 of those ingredients serve a purpose. Not every recipe you make has to be like this, but it might be nice to eat something that just tastes amazing.

Some suggestions:

Julia Child’s Coq au Vin

Salt-baked Bronzino

(You don’t actually have to have an open flame, but maybe consider holding a sparkler while you cook? You know. Patriotism and stuff.)

I don’t know about you, but these are the things I’m trying to feel like I don’t need to spend money on an Eat, Pray, Love-discover-yourself-and-also-Italian-food-but-mostly-yourself trips or write poetry about my thoughts and feelings to share with my colleagues.

It was snowing outside earlier today, and I gotta say. I’m not ready for winter. Despite popular opinion, I’m not an actual bear. I don’t know how to hibernate. I need things to change. And if they can’t on their own, I will make them change.

There will probably be more stale days waiting, but if I can start winter with a game plan, I’ll worry less.

My office mate should buckle up, though.

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