Wednesday, November 23, 2016

On the Eve of Pie

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

The holidays are officially upon us! The traditional work stress-storm was right on schedule, alerting me that something big is happening tomorrow. Must. Get. Everything. Done! And then eat pie and leftovers and slog around in pajamas for a couple of days. Yeah!

Here's an embarrassing BEFORE shot of my nails. All these years I've called them my nails but let's be honest...there's not much nail there to really consider. They ARE growing, however! I have been obsessed with making sure I'm moisturizing, going as far as wearing cotton gloves to bed to encourage these nubbies to do something interesting and inspiring while I sleep. I also bought a giant pair of kitchen gloves to use while I do the mountain of dishes that appears in the sink every day. I know, sexy.

I'm super excited.

Then...remember my incredibly eager plan to exercise 6 days a week?
1. I DID IT! For two weeks in a row. It was great...and hard to motivate, even though I could feel the beginning of an addiction being born.
2. Week three, THIS week, is, well, not nearly as successful. Work got crazy busy, which totally killed my time and energy. I'm also just not sure I could maintain a six day a week exercise program. It was a lot to juggle, though like I said, I enjoyed the actual exercising part.

I need to go GRAB MY PUMPKIN PIE OUT OF THE OVEN but I just wanted to pop in, say hi, display my extremely short nails so I have amazing documentation of the first day of the rest of my (nails) life...

Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy every last moment and morsel.
xoxo



Thursday, November 17, 2016

It may be just a little something...but it adds up to a lot

Hello! I'm out from under my rock!

It's a lovely early morning, celebrated with a big cup of coffee, Christmas jazz playing on Spotify, and my BLOG in front of me. My blog! It's been a long time.

I'm resurrecting this site because I've always loved to write and need a place to really focus on it again, get my thoughts on "paper" and practice! I actually keep a handwritten journal as well, where I keep more personal thoughts, perhaps. There is just something about using a pen and paper to communicate my thoughts that I will never be able to leave behind. I've kept a journal since I was maybe 8 or 9! Doing so is part of who I am.

The second reason I'm back (hello! hi!) is because I am embarking on a few new things and am dying to record my progress and use my blog as a tool to keep me motivated!
What are these new things, you ask?

1. I'm currently on a Spending Diet and plan on going on a full blown Spending Fast for one year, come January 1, 2017. This means I will only be spending money on Needs. Not Wants. Oh how hard this will be. I'm practicing now and it is hard. Doable, but difficult. Especially with the holidays around the corner! The reason I'm going on such a journey is because the cloud of student loan debt has gotten big and black enough that I'm ready to work harder to eliminate it sooner. Bob and I have big plans and it feels like we can't move forward with this hanging over our heads. I thank Anna Newell Jones of AndThenWeSaved.com for introducing me to the terms and ideas.

2. I'm growing my nails! Me! The person who has LITERALLY bitten my nails for as long as I can remember. I've grown them a few times (sadly, not even a handful, I don't think...pun intended, kind of) in my life and I always go back to ruining them. This time it's going to be different (ha! We've heard that phrase before, haven't we? I'm using it anyway, because I believe it). This time I'm simply just full-force-full-speed-ahead growing my nails and not looking back. Lotion. Hands OUT of my mouth (I'm 37, for Pete's sake. Embarrassing). The dangling carrot is a nice holiday manicure and some sort of sparkly thing for my finger...see 2a.

2a. Okay so the manicure and sparkly thing go against point #1, I see how you may note that. However, I am determining nail care as a Need. I've had maybe one manicure in my entire life and it was before my sister's wedding over ten years ago (cripes). If I am going to have nice, normal person nails, I need to maintain them. I need help doing that considering my idea of maintenance thus far has been to chew them off. Enough said.
As for the sparkly thing...that's a long term plan. I'm not spending money on that until I'm out of debt. I can't. It's not a Need and I know it. I have a while to go before I'm out of debt, but it's an exciting reward to think about and a great motivator.

3. Exercising on the regular. Like six days a week. I can't think about it too much or I will talk myself out of it, even though I like exercising and feel so much better even after only one full week of six days of 45 minutes (per day) of aerobic exercise. This week I'm on day 4. I am going to the gym tonight. It's happening. I got the idea of six days from a book I'm reading about aging healthfully, called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley. It's geared more for people of a slightly older age than I but I know I can also reap great benefits from taking care of myself NOW, not waiting until I'm older and it's even harder to create a new routine. Aside from the physical benefits, exercising does MAJOR things for my mental state. I can easily fall towards the depressed side of things, and exercising really keeps that at bay. It's huge. The pain of going to the gym when I don't feel like it is nothing compared to the pain of living under a heavy blanket of negativity and fear. 

That's my list! It's a big one, and I'm ready to tackle  it. I hope you'll join me along my journey; I'll need all the encouragement I can get. In return, I'll be sure to entertain you with stories, setbacks, learnings, and my AMAZING PROGRESS that I'm going to make.

Good to see you again! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

$1.46

So. I have to give kudos and thanks to a blog I stumbled upon the other day, called And Then We Saved (blogger Anna Newell Jones).  She totally motivated me to want to make a significant change in my relationship with money (and the black cloud of student loans that hangs over my head). She paid off a ton of debt in one year by going on a Spending Fast; she also talks of a Spending Diet, which I'm thinking about starting once I have a chance to wrap my head around it.

Anyway, this week's money saving efforts:

Worked from home a few days this week, saved on mileage/gas

Brown bag lunched other days!

Recycled brown paper grocery bags for an art project I'm currently involved in

Borrowed ebook 'Your Money or Your Life' from the library, to get a little motivation/learnings under way

Saved/washed/dried Ziploc bag I brought one of my brown bag lunch sandwiches in to be used at another time

Had oatmeal for breakfast this morning in order to use browning bananas and not let them go to waste (though I do try to always freeze any bananas that are on the edge if I'm able to catch them at a reasonable time)

At the last minute, saved a plastic yogurt container from going in the garbage! Washed/put away

Turned unecessary lights off as I noticed them on/trying to make a more conscious effort to do this!

Ate leftovers instead of just pushing the Tupperware to the back of the fridge as I might do otherwise (therefore letting it go to waste).

Made/making food for a friends visit (that will last beyond her visit) instead of going out to eat at a pricey restaurant!

Kept to my list at the grocery store and shopped the lowest prices/sought out the store flyer.
My store-card missed getting swiped through at the right time, so it didn't get counted. I then waited at customer service to get $1.46 back. Ha! Normally I would have just said 'oh well, next time...and eaten the loss (literally). Hey, it's $1.46!

Confession: At the grocery store, I bought ice cream, which was not on my list, so here's me trying to rationalize:
A) I bought a quart instead of those little individual portions that I usually buy
B) I bought a flavor my boyfriend also likes so at least we'll both benefit from the purchase!
C) I bought store brand which was a lower price than the other name brands.

I'll learn.

Speaking of learning, the other night I did an exercise where I added up the money I spent on groceries in each of my last two billing periods. It was absolutely astounding. I don't have the details of each item I bought at this point, (but I have created a space for my receipts and will be reviewing these at the end of the month for better understanding of exactly where my money is going in the future). Anyway, while groceries are fine and necessary, obviously, I have a bad habit of going to the store multiple times in one week, perhaps for an item or two (and of course leaving with 7 or 8, see my ice-cream rationale above). I have another bad habit of going to a particularly expensive grocery store chain for a lunch-salad once in a while and then browsing around the store afterwards, always finding just a few more items for the week... This habit is a) unnecessary and financially wasteful and b) just an ineffective way to 'relax' - the browsing, looking at new items maybe, or just attractive packaging, etc. I AM that consumer who is suckered into something that 'looks good'. I do pay attention to prices (though at this store, this is a pointless endeavor, no matter what you do, as everything is overpriced anyway, even the 'cheaper' items) but have  definitely gotten a bit too casual when it comes to what I really can afford.
The point of my story is that I will seriously be able to cut my grocery bill in half by not engaging in the multiple trips/mindless browsing and spending/buying lunch at work 2-3 times per week. I'm sure I'll find even more ways to save if I just put a little effort in and try to stay aware. Sounds easy, though I'm sure I'll report back and let you know just how easy it really isn't.

I'm excited about trying to make a change, so I thought I'd just stick a little post up here. Not to mention, I will probably need a place to organize my thoughts as I learn, adapt, struggle, and succeed...



Monday, September 22, 2014

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy First Day of Autumn!

This is it for me. I absolutely adore this time of the year. October is right around the corner, and I am so ready. Bring on the pumpkins, apples, flannel shirts, harvest scented candles, and crisp, cool air! I'm trying to hold off on my first pumpkin flavored something for another couple of weeks. Typically I get started on the pumpkin craze early and have overdone it way before the season ends!

We treated ourselves to two nights in the Green Mountain State this past week, after a summer saturated with love and loss. We needed to get away and hold each other close, and no better place to do it in our eyes, than Vermont!

We spent our getaway in the southern part of the state, an area new to me. Though I spent my college years in northern Vermont and still make the trek once a year (at least) to our beloved cabin and university town, somehow in my travels I've simply whizzed past this part! Boy, was I missing a lot. It is so beautiful in the surrounding areas of Dover, Newfane, Wilmington, and Brattleboro.

Note: The Brattleboro Food Co-Op is to die for. The endless bulk aisles...

I'm so glad that Vermont has stayed a part of my life, so many years after I finished my undergraduate schooling.  The cabin is the main reason this has been possible, and we look forward to going there every holiday season (just a couple of months away! Cabin countdown begins). It was fun to explore a new area and balance our sense of familiarity and home that we have at the cabin with some adventure, tourism, and total relaxation (no cooking or cleaning!)

Living is simple (I didn't say easy!) up there in the country, and so much of the day to day involves love and respect for the outdoors. It's clear how this lifestyle shapes the value system and allows for a more natural existence in the world, and this is what really draws us in. There is a connection, a sense of belonging and meaning that we struggle to find where we live now.

Just a couple of months and we'll be back up that way, enjoying the holidays in a snow covered cabin! We can't wait!





Sunday, September 21, 2014

Planning in the Present

I think Bob and I are rounding the corner towards something really, really good.  To pull it off will require organization, discipline, creativity, patience, motivation, and the ability to stay true to ourselves and our dreams. Staying present, too, is a task that has to be done in order to plan for the future,  even though it sounds contradictory (and is one of my biggest struggles). I guess how it plays into our 'plan' is being able to slow down, stay, and see the bigger picture. Having a plan is one thing, how that idea resonates with me right now is even more exciting.

I'm reading a really great book that I just happened upon at the library the other day. It's called Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment (by Katrina Kenison). It's about seeking, but at the same time realizing what we already have inside and cultivating a life that is right for each of us.  I'd do a terrible job of describing it any more than that, and it will have more meaning for you if you discover the story for yourself. Show your library some love and have a look!

Many times when I find myself amidst the quiet of the day, a big fat case of the 'shoulds' creeps up on me. I 'should be' running, I 'should be' cleaning, I 'should be moving' All The Time. What a prison! This morning, as the cat sleeps under the bed and I sit and think and write, I'm realizing that I am doing enough. Right now, this moment. This is what I am doing.

I am (we are) constantly surrounded by doers. Doing is great! Lots of things Get Done. And of course, we can't 'do nothing' (which doesn't really exist, right?) all the time, but I'm talking about overdoing, overthinking, over scheduling. It's easy to think and feel that I'm not doing enough if I'm not baking cookies, running a marathon, making DIY holiday decorations, and putting together the perfect outfit all at the same time. This is what I need to get away from.  This is not me.

Sitting here listening to the rain, enjoying the quiet morning ... is.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Week's New Things

Good morning!

Feels like fall out there, which gets me really excited. I love summer though I have to say, right around the middle of it every year I get a little wishful about fall. This year, summer has been one of three things for the most part: extremely hot, extremely humid, or extremely wet.

These past couple of morning have been cool. Great mornings to run...if I had gone out. I've had a couple of 'later' nights (for me, 'later' means bed after 10:00) which don't typically equal a morning run the next day. I am a sucker for enough sleep! Considering I often put in 9-10 hour work days, sleep is important to me and I'll take it when I need it and schedule any running accordingly :)

I did run on Tuesday morning, and hit a couple of PR's:


The last half mile is pretty much downhill; the half mile before that is a slow, gradual, killer hill up a long, straight road. I find it my least favorite part of my morning run and definitely the biggest challenge, because by that time I'm tired and the straightaway seems never ending...

Monday morning (I know, I'm going back in time slightly; forgive my out-of-orderness) we moved into our new office! I actually really like it, though it's definitely an adjustment. The space itself is professional, updated, and has a neat, clean look: a few things our old office was getting away from. Lots to learn in this new space...new amenities, tons of security; on Tuesday night I had to call security so I could get OUT of the elevator bank and into the parking garage to my car! I felt pretty cool.

Here's a picture of my row:


My desk is on the right, where that orange purse sits :) And no, I don't work in a call center.
We also have a lovely terrace to the right of this picture with teak wood tables and a nice view of the surrounding area. Had lunch out there yesterday! Note to self: bring sunglasses! (And a sweater; the air conditioning definitely works).

My sister gave me something new last night, too - I'll post a picture of it later.
Right now, I'm off to get my day started - SO excited that it's Thursday and the weekend is creeping up!
Bye!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Morning (Let's Do This!)

Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?
Mine was looonnng, as we had a half day on Friday to accommodate our move to a new office (today!)

B and I spent most of the weekend casually running errands and enjoying ourselves with Saturday afternoon coffees and beloved grocery store outings (I swear, that's our preferred regular entertainment). 
I ran Thursday, Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday. On Saturday, I hit my weekly goal mileage of 15 miles with a 4.5 mile run (unplanned; I was feeling GREAT). So, that was awesome!
This is what I looked like after:
 


Yesterday I felt a little blah. It was my planned rest day, but after blahing around (and working) a while, B suggested maybe I try a little jog...just maybe it would make me feel better? So...I ditched the resting (oops) and went out for an experimental 'easy' 2 mile jog in great weather. It actually turned out to be a bit harder than I expected; in fact, my lungs were burning so much up my usual hill that I stopped to walk for a few seconds at the top, which helped. It was also later in the day than I prefer; I am definitely a morning running-on-an-empty-stomach kind of person, so running at 5pm was a new experience. I took a minute on my way back to appreciate this:



Today I am resting (well, and working).

My newest obsession and running dream is to do the Hood to Coast relay next year...which is a 197 mile relay race in Oregon, from Mount Hood to the ocean. The race (two days) has 36 legs and each team has 8 to 12 members, which means that each member runs multiple legs. The legs vary from 3 to 8 miles. I watched a documentary on the race on Saturday night and of course got hooked; I think I'd have to register (with a team) by this Fall. Anyway, I was thinking about that on my jog yesterday, because during the relay, running takes place at ALL times of the day and night, literally...3:30 am and you're going out for a 6 miler. So, I'd have to train to run at any time of day, not just mornings!

So cool though. Looks like an amazing experience. I need a team! I've got the motivation :)

I'm off to my new office this morning; 16 miles closer than my 'old' office, which makes me happy, and makes my gas-sipping car even happier. 

Our new workstations are of the 'long table' variety (with half walls between me and the person across from me/no partition between me and the person next to me)...which will be an adjustment from what we're used to: typical cubes with high enough walls that you have a bit of privacy. I guess this is the new world of the workplace; we'll see what it's like. I am excited about the fact that there's a cafeteria AND a coffee shop on site, too :)

Oh and included with our move was the choice of membership to the on-location gym. I'm looking forward to checking that out and hopefully using it this winter if it gets too cold or snowy.

Better keep moving so I can get out the door on time...
40 sleeps until vacation!!