Here`s an odd confession: Though I have worked for 16 or so years as a commercial artist in a variety of forms, possibly the best job I ever had as an adult was when I worked for three weeks at Trader Joes.
I had been laid off for more than a year, the dot com bubble had burst and with it, all of the multitude of art jobs that existed in Seattle at the time. I was applying everywhere, trying to teach myself 3D software, and basically in a hole of depression that was a pure mess. Though I was occasionally picking up contract work, Christine and I agreed that I needed something, anything else until something more long term came along. With only one car, it needed to be close by, and before too long I had an interview at Trader Joes.
Immediately I found a great culture of work full of gregarious people who juggled all different responsibilities throughout the day, never just stuck behind the cash register or stocking shelves. I felt embarrassed to be working there, but that went away relatively quickly, the pace was quick, the people were super nice, and at the end of a work day I felt like I had been doing honest work. Though I had been on my feet for 6-8 hours a day, I had energy at the end of the day, something that never happened after a day sitting in front of a computer screen doing art or goofing off.
Three weeks later I got a 90 day trial contract offer at a small game studio, because of course, that´s the way these things work. I called in to say I could not make it in to work that day, or at all in the future. Not giving them two weeks notice was a shit thing to do that made me feel terrible, but the karma of it all was that the studio I went to work for was easily the worst job I have ever had. We both agreed at the end of my 90 days that the pairing did not work.
Now that I am getting regular exercise constantly, I think back to that job and wonder why it took a monumental trip like this to force activity back into my life. If I poke through my blog I am sure I will find lots of declarations of getting fit, losing weight, etc. I know for a fact now that it is good for my brain and overall mood, to the point where I get antsy on rest days. I just really lack self-motivation when it comes to exercise. I mean, I wouldn´t even be doing this trip, the trip that was my idea in the first place, if I didn´t marry a brilliant type-a personality wife who helped facilitate that idea through sheer willpower.
So how do I keep this momentum going after the summer is over? My family and I will not be nomadic gypsies forever, toiling away on bicycles. When the trip is over I will need more than my own willpower to keep going, so I´m wondering how to incorporate activity into my life in a way that feels productive. The first thing I yelled to Christine during one bike day was “HEY, I NEED TO DO AN IRON MAN COMPETITION OR SOMETHING ONCE THIS IS OVER!” Something I´ve wanted to do since NBC was covering them when I was still a teenager. I’m pretty bendy and enjoy doing yoga, so Christine floated the idea of going for a Yoga training certification. I chickened out on learning to Kickbox, and I´m on the upswing towards 40, so a career in MMA is unlikely, and uninteresting to me.
What would you do if you knew you had to put a lot of time into exercise and fitness for your own mental health but knew that “hitting the gym” wasn´t motivation enough? This is my question to the rest of you. No seriously, all decent ideas will be considered.