Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters

Can You Find What’s Missing?

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Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

hey lou, writing, new writer, short stories

Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

hey lou writes, young adult, short stories

“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

writing, short stories, new writer

Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

Justin Townes Earle, couch, hey lou writes, writing, reading

Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou

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Author: Melinda Haas

I write, I read, I love to laugh. God, my husband, and my step children make up my world. I am working on publishing many novels, three of which are completed manuscripts.

10 thoughts on “Can You Find What’s Missing?

  1. Great post, Melinda! My husband and I do have a TV because we enjoy entertaining during football and baseball season and we’re both sports fans (although for opposing teams, which makes for some rather interesting discussions!), but other than cheering on our favorite sports teams, we hardly watch TV!

    I spend my evenings reading, writing, or hitting up a hot yoga class and Steven enjoys working with his hands –making coffee tables, desks, etc. Or we simply spend time together, whether that’s going for a walk with our pup, Huckleberry, or simply conversing in our home. I’ve always felt like couples who spend a lot of time absorbed in TV are missing out on simply being together! Watching TV is so passive, you simply aren’t engaging with whoever is in the room with you. It truly is a waste of time and it’s such a shame people invest so much TIME into it.

    Just my two cents…or maybe three… :) Hope you’re having a great day!

    • Thank you so much!!! First off, let me say I LOVE the name of your dog. Huckleberry just might be the best name in the world. It sounds like you and Steven have a really great routine going… that doesn’t get bogged down with “routine” at all! I have only been to one hot yoga class, but I really want to try it again. What you said about your husband working with his hands reminds me of this documentary I once watched and the guy said, “People, our hands are lonely! Everything happens now with the push of a button. Give your hands something to do.” It really hit home with me. Thanks for the three cents, I loved reading it! :)

  2. I kind of want to come over and hang out with you now in your TV-less living room. Ha. This is a really great post. We do have a TV (actually we just dropped the rest of our wedding $ on a really nice one), but we are by no means crazy TV watchers. I really enjoy popping in a movie and working on my crochet or scrapbook or editing some pictures, but I don’t have a problem turning it off for quality time with my girlfriends or husband. Don’t get me wrong… sometimes I feel like all I’ve done is watch TV, but we don’t have cable, so if nothing is on one of four channels we get, we’re out of luck. I go over to someone’s house with cable and I’m like, “SO MANY CHANNELS!” I have always hated reality TV, though. Except Top Chef. Oh man I love Top Chef. What I AM concerned about is your lack of microwave. I might come to hang out, but I wouldn’t stay for dinner :)

    • Your reply really made me laugh and smile! I would totally love to have you over. I have a feeling we’d never run out of things to talk about! Not having cable was the first step we took. I think that is basically as life-changing as not having a TV at all. The amount of channels is crrrrazy. & Top Chef is so good. You are totally right :) Thanks, Amanda!!

  3. Another lifestyle choice I completely agree with – Chad and I have never owned a television (in our married life or our previous single lives) and it would seem strange to have one in our home. We also use Netflix from time to time for an occasional movie or tv series (Archer [that is, secret agent Sterling Archer] is a recent favorite) but an actual box sitting in our living room would be odd. Oh, and the news…yeah, we get more than enough news online…which is more often than not totally depressing, but it is good to stay informed. Happy productive-non-tv days!

    • Yes, I have definitely thought of you more than once during this whole life change!! You were maybe the first person I knew without a TV :) Love you!! (I think no TV’s make people in the top 10% of the top 10% of college grads ;) wouldn’t you agree?)

      • Haha, can’t argue with that! Thanks, and it’s cool that I may have been the first person you knew that lived without a tv…people would always be SO surprised when they found out…they wondered what I did with all my time. ;)

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