A Happiest-Place-on-Earth Birthday

Life has been all types of busy and crazy and I haven’t had a chance to properly write an entry in ages. But I had to stop and at least say something, for memory’s sake, because my birthday was a milestone birthday! 30!

The Saturday before my birthday, my family helped me celebrate at a delicious Italian restaurant in town. I had Osso Bucco for the first time ever that I can recall. And real risotto, which is better left in their hands, not mine (per failed attempt!). We then came home to a full tres leches cake, my favorite type of birthday cake ever! It’s extra special because my parents/family haven’t bought me a cake in close to a decade. Without trying to sound petty, I always make sure others have a cake (bought or baked), but that’s not  the case when my birthday comes around. Usually, since there is a birthday dinner, they notify the server that it’s my birthday, I get whatever treat is on the house, and that’s that. So, it was a little gesture that meant so much!

On Sunday, Josh told me to be ready to leave extra early and with the limited questions I was able to ask, I was told to dress comfortably and wear shoes for walking. I had a couple guesses, but none of them panned out. Haha! I thought for almost certain we were going to head out to Hearst Castle again for a second tour through new parts of the home and end the day with our favorite Fish and Chips place out there. But as we got further into Los Angeles I knew that couldn’t be it. Maybe Huntington Library? I had mentioned my desire to daycation there.

Halfway to our destination, he pulls two pieces of paper out of thin air. They contain ten questions with lines below for each letter and one circled for the solved puzzle. He then gave me a sharpie and told me to figure it out. I thought it was so fun and sweet! About 8 questions in, I had a feeling I could solve the puzzle. D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D.

He smiled when I figured out and I told him how clever his little puzzle was and he warned me this was an all expenses paid trip. Food, souvenirs, and whatever else were on him today, and he meant it. We got our phone fast pass system down and got to a lot of rides in no time, but I also took a couple times out of the day to just sit on a bench with him and just take it all in. We ended the night with a World of Color package which included dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in California Adventure and prime viewing for the show. For some reason, there were no patrons in the handicap section, so they opened it up to us and couple others and we had a bench all to ourselves right next to the water. World of Color is my favorite part of CA and just as magical as the first time, every time. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the night or my birthday than with him next to me enjoying the show.

I also got some beautiful milestone jewelry to help me remember 30. Josh’s mom got me a gorgeous Brighton piece that will last for years to come, and Heidi gave me this amazing Meraki bracelet that contains beautiful symbolic elements inside from all over the world. 

I feel like my 20’s have lead me to my 30’s, as lame and “duh” as that sounds. My twenties were about breaking free from what I thought were other’s and my personal expectations about myself and discovering who I am and how to be comfortable in the moment but still strive for better in the future. I feel like I’ve come a long way, even though it’s nothing close to how I thought it would be. Still, I’m so thankful for this personal journey and the family and friends who have helped me get to where I’m at. I hope at 40, I can look at my 30’s and see them as “builder” years, building me up to my potential and setting me up for a place in this world and an eventual place to call a home of my own.

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Good & Bad News, Obesity, and Plans for Change

After all the imaging – several ultrasounds and an MRI, I know more about how well I am than I do with what is wrong with me. Specifically, I need to recognize and feel blessed that my bones and ligaments are in good shape, and now I know my veins are in great shape too.

My foot and leg specialist examined the MRI and told me that my bones were good; the diffused swelling was probably vascular. The vascular specialist did what most specialists do upon first meeting – they look at the problem area, and prescribe imaging. He said he felt he knew what it was. According to what he saw – reddish discoloration, swelling, etc, I had poor veins that were allowing too much blood to sit in my legs and this could be fixed with non-invasive procedures. I brought up my weight and that my primary doctor thought it could be the culprit and he told me that he could not conclude that my weight affected my leg and caused the issues. I was worried about what poor veins meant at the ripe age of 29.

Then, I got a call a week after imaging, and his answer was totally different. He said my detailed ultrasound showed that my veins were in great health. He assured me I got good genes and at the age of 29, I didn’t need to worry about my veins for a long time. Except, that meant I was ruling something else out and still had no answers. He then told me, go ahead and lose some weight because it could be the combination of a desk job and being obese.

I think those words were as detrimental as if he had told me it was a vein issue. While I am thankful that I have healthy veins, I know that if I needed a procedure done it would be quick and non-invasive. But what he told me? That is the scourge of my existence. The fact that I want to lose weight and haven’t lost much even with effort. It means that I’m finally fat to the point it’s causing extreme stress on my body and I have to do something ASAP. It means that on top of eating better, I need to be stricter and follow a fitness regimen. And I loathe the physical activity part more than watching what I eat.

You see, being fat, more specifically, morbidly obese, and being so most of your life, it’s not a 20 or even 50 pound goal. Every time I hit the gym, I’m working and stressing my body in a mass that is more than half what it ideally should weigh. I’m working on positivity, and on making this journey healthy because the other part of me just wants to use any means necessary. I can’t let that little voice overcome the big voice I’ve created that says I can positively change not desperately change.

I’d like to work out for 45 minutes to an hour at least three times a week, hopefully going up to four.

I’d like to pick 2 days of the week to work on meal planning and keeping on track food-wise. 

I’d like encouraging words, not threats, from people around me. Things like, “I believe in you, let me know how I can support you.” Not things like, “You know, if you don’t lose the weight you’re going to get worse” Or things like, “How come ______?”

Onward.

Things I’m Working on as I Ease into 30

Life moves so quickly with each passing year. It feels crazy to think that 30 quickly approaches. I can’t say I’ve done anything dramatic to prepare, but I feel good about what I’ve prepped for this new decade of life.

1. Letting go of social pressures about fertility and motherhood

I’m starting with a big one. Entering my 30’s means coming to terms that I only have about a decade left to conceive. Did you know a pregnancy at age 35+ is a “geriatric pregnancy”? Ha! So I have 5 years before my womb is a geezer. (Thankfully, this term is being replaced with “advanced maternal age”) I’m letting go by fully acknowledging my desire for motherhood. That sounds counterproductive, but to me, it’s an empowering move to note that I WANT to nurture little ones. Be it from my womb, another woman’s womb through fostering/adoption, or just being an even more invested auntie/mentor and encouraging little ones to feel loved and do their best in this world. Even if I don’t have the chance to be called “Mom” I can nurture. And I will.

2. Start investing in skin care and quality goods

In my twenties I explored a lot of fashion and makeup. My emphasis was on how I wanted to present myself to the world around me. It was about finding what made me feel my best and finding my own style. I feel like I’ve found a great balance between comfort and style that reflects me, and it’s time to settle into a better skin care routine for self care AND the changes my body will make in this decade. A couple gray hairs have magically sprouted, and my undereyes aren’t looking as peppy as they did in my college years. It’s time to reinvest in quality products. It also goes with the Konmari method I’ve tried to implement and with minimizing “stuff” to maximize quality of life.

3. Catch more Zzzz’s

I was not kind to myself in my mid twenties. Between dating and trying to tackle too much, I averaged about 4-5 hours of rest a night. I’ve worked my way up to 6.5, but ideally, I’d like to reach 7-7.5 and at least try for 8 hours twice a week.

4. Tackle weight and eating. Once again.

I’m tired of having to wonder and hear that some health issues may be weight related. I accept that they play a part in my current health issues, so I want to either gain health from losing or identify that it wasn’t a factor if that’s so. I know how to eat right and understand that I should be exercising. Now it’s up to me to put it to practice and really strive for results.

5. Dream/seek/pursue the friendships and connections I want

Remember this post I wrote on friendships not usually lasting seven year’s time? I’m really feeling this currently. I’ve got a few solid friendships that have been steady and true and have resisted the test of time. However, I’ve noticed a few friends I clung to fiercely in my 20’s were loyalties that really provided me no merit or were quite superficial even though we enjoyed each other’s company. I also felt quite lonely the past 5 years with most all of my closest friends moving away. I understand now that I need more than a socializing partner in crime. I need people who are driven. I need people who are supportive. I need people who encourage and can mentor me in my faith. And I need to also be that person to others. More substance. More investment. More meaningful relationships.

6. Get rid of “just” and limit my “sorry” in the business communication

As a feminist, I believe in equal standing with my male counterparts. It is my duty to present myself as so. In the past I’ve used phrases like “I just wanted to” that lighten my voice and representation of self among my male peers. It’s important to me to be more deliberate in speech and have better command of my presence in a meeting/email and speak with confidence in my skills. Because I am more deliberate, I want to also save my apologies for instances that truly require them – not as a preface or for good measure. I’m still working on rephrasing but I mindfully ask myself if something really warrants an apology or if I can actually single out a miscommunication/issue – which is the better way of handling it anyway.

Before: “Sorry for the confusion.” Now: “It seems like there was a misunderstanding. Let’s discuss X and resolve it.”

 7. Truly seek out to be less of a church attender and more of a part of a church family

Leaving the home church of my youth was hard and making new connections has been harder. I really need to work on building relationships with people. I miss the smaller church feel of knowing everyone but I love the opportunities and teaching here.

8. Find balance in family time and pursuing my goals and self identity.

I don’t think this is hard for everyone but this is really hard for me. My immediate family is close knit and we are there for each other. Period. But, they often ask a lot of me, or I take on too much and forget my needs and to have time for myself and my goals. I’ve got to remember it’s not all on me and that it’s okay to say no when I need to.

9. Asking “What’s Next?” in my career, relationship, etc.

This is also a hard one for me. Yes, I should embrace what I have now, but yes, I should constantly strive towards better and best. I’m not settling, I’m seeking out, setting up, and carrying out plans for my future.

10. Initiate hard conversations. Be direct. Take calculated risks. 

I’m an internalizer. I’ve always been one. When someone hurts me or withholds information, I take it as a personal offense but hardly address it unless I need to. But, a sign of maturity is dissolving assumptions and miscommunications, and I need to practice that. Recently, I noticed that a very close friend and I hadn’t been speaking. She lives many states away and was also a bit MIA on the social media scene, didn’t send me a Christmas card like she had every year before, etc. So I internalized and wondered if she was “ghosting me” (ugh, I know, I hate that term too) and wanted to slowly get rid of me by losing all interaction. Our brains take us to awful places when we allow them to assume. I confronted her respectfully and she admitted there was a lot going on and it had nothing to do with our friendship but all to do with life situations, and that was so refreshing and amazing because now I’m able to get an instant answer and offer her my support in her efforts.

I also know that when I’m intimidated by something, I tend to want to avoid it. Again, that’s not how adulting works. So, I have to be ready to ask the questions I need to and take the risks I need to, with as much research as I can beforehand.

Here we go! Less than a month! Thirty, I’m ready!

Annual Spending Recap and 2018 Forecast

I printed out my 2016 and 2017 spending summary from the credit card I primarily use and did some research on my spending habits. Some things surprised me and other things didn’t.

TL;DR: I spent more and saved more.

I spent more. There were some big ticket items that help account for this. I got four brand new tires, had a costly auto service, and bought a new overpriced (but much needed!) laptop. I also decided with minimizing that investing in things is worthwhile so even if I haven’t consumed more items in total, I am purchasing better quality items for makeup and skincare. I’m using a $50 moisturizer now. Who am I. Oh yeah, a nearly 30 year old who needs to care a little more about aging than before. 😉 I do see some frivolous spending in the first half when I was Lularoe crazy though. I also got hung up on curated styles and other people’s capsule wardrobes and got a few basics that didn’t work for me. That won’t be happening this year. One other thing I noted was that in previous years, I was decorating my apartment and buying a lot of second hand items from sale sites that required exact change and cash only. Since I worked on finalizing my room in 2017, I did much less impulse shopping and didn’t withdraw quick cash for spending so I could track better.

I spent more on vacations this year but I didn’t even do a long distance/extended trip. I learned that multiple small trips end up costing more and you don’t feel as fulfilled/restful after weekend type trips. The time with friends was more than worth it though. Ideally, with an increase in vacay time this year, I’d like to do a longer restful trip and a shorter fun and full frills trip.

I saved more money. My savings account grew more this year than last year although there’s generous room for improvement. Even though I spent more on my credit card, I isolated it to one card and didn’t use my debit card hardly ever, or petty cash. So yes, technically I spent more on my primary credit card, but that’s because it’s the sole card I use and therefore track better.

I spent less on merchandise. Some of my simplifying and minimizing has paid off. I didn’t set a foot into a mall this holiday season to shop for gifts and deals. I haven’t impulse-bought clothes in large amounts. I don’t search out trinkets. I don’t blind buy makeup and skincare like I used to.

I spent more in medical/health/wellness. This was a struggle for me. I’ve been AWFUL at taking care of myself because I hate that this category is so costly…but as my brother lovingly reminded me…it’s better to go in for a routine oil change and not let things slide where it starts to affect other things and becomes costly to fix. I met my deductible in November for the first time in years. I figure if I might need expensive procedures done I might as well meet it earlier in the year and plan on saving for it and above it.

I spent significantly more on dining out. This really surprised me. I couldn’t figure out what made this category inflate so much. I don’t usually get fast food. I bring my lunch 95% of the time. Then it hit me. All those weekends I went over and helped my brother and watched the baby? I almost always bought lunch for the three of us, and sometimes needed a coffee or dinner for me on the way home. My boyfriend and I also take turns paying or go dutch for the most part, so when I do spend, it’s for more sit down type places. I don’t expect or rely on him to pay, although I full appreciate it when he does. We’re not really fast food people when we go out to eat. I usually made food Monday and every other Wednesday, the days we hang out, but I also have art with my friend in hospice on Mondays and between the emotions there and it being dinner time by the time we meet, we’ve gone out more. Aha. It’s adding up.

2018 Financial Forecast:

  • Make monthly financial goals
  • Itemize monthly spending so I can budget better since months fluctuate
  • Be more active and mindful reviewing my retirement and investments
  • Set a specific amount aside towards a new car fund (Goal: Downpayment in 2 yrs)
  • Rework some income into nontaxable savings. An FSA health account. Putting a higher percentage into retirement. Doing more research on investing.
  • Work on being less trigger happy on Amazon. Especially cheap e-books!
  • Allow myself to eat out more -IF- I can fit it to my food plan and it saves me enough in groceries/specialty food and stress. Sometimes time and stress of cooking factor into it.
  • Research big ticket items I’ll need to save for in the next 5, 10 years, and tuck away some for weddings – either for attending and gifting or maybe down the road my own! My cousin is engaged and the wedding is cross country.  Eurpope. Adoption. Possible home ownership…even if it’s a mobile home/tiny house.

Vegas, Hospice, Freelance, & all the Rest

Last week I spent a few days in Vegas for the first time as an adult. My first Las Vegas memory was was made over a decade ago. My crazy theme-park loving cousin settling to “walk the plank” with his bride on a ship at Treasure Island because marrying at Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland was too many figures.

Fast forward to now, when I’m nearing thirty, and finally hitting it up as a gambling-and-drinks-legal adult. I did zero drinking, and wasted more money gambling than I should have, but the best parts were outside of the casino. I was able to join my boyfriend and his family for a little taste of downtown and Fremont Street. I’m pretty sure my eyes went wide at some of the debauch billboards and marketing but outside of that, it was all fun. In the course of one day, I dined at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, saw my first Cirque de Soleil show (worth every penny), and ended the night high above the city on The Highroller enjoying the city lights with my love. And yes, it was hot as blazes.

Yesterday at my art lesson my heart sank a little to see a hospice van parked outside my teacher’s home. They delivered a walker to help her get around. Sometimes I get lost in my head and forget that my sweet friend isn’t going to get better. Spending time with someone that’s dying is both severely sobering and the sweetest thing. It means their time is near an end, but they still want to invest some of it with you. The doctor told her recently she is doing better than expected, which is a relief and hard news at the same time. It means more pain, more limitation, but a little longer to get things done. Some days we visit from when I’m off work until 7 pm. I had planned to be there until 6:30 but around 6:10 and after many phone checks, I could tell she was exhausted and it was time to cut the visit short. Sometimes I look back and see genuine smiles and joy, and other times I catch her grimacing with worry. But she has hope again, enough for tomorrow. “Maybe Saint ___ will heal me and I will be a miracle.”

Do you find it hard to answer when someone follows up a ‘how are you’ with ‘what are you up to?’ I feel like a majority of my life is mundane and no one would be interested in what I’d share even if I tried to sound passionate about it. I find myself answering with how my family is doing, or saying not much. I have a freelance job at the moment – my first time consulting, which is very exciting! But not something I’d necessarily share. I can’t believe August is here and that next month my little nephew will turn one. September begins the whirlwind: LOTS of birthdays of people I love, Bible study and my non-profit meetings start back up, and the thrill of holidays and a annual visit from my best friend. I should tell them not a lot is happening but I have many things to look forward to.

 

The Sobering Cost of Rent

If you read almost any money guru book these days, they are still harping on a very outdated rule of thumb that doesn’t really reflect the current housing market. The advice? Keep rent to 30% or less of your income.

If someone made 2k a month, that’s $600. (roughly 24,000/yr, $7,200 rent)
If someone made 3k a month, that’s $900. (roughly 36,000/yr, 10,800 rent)
If someone made 5k a month, that’s $1500. (roughly 60,000/yr, 18,000 rent)
If someone made 9k a month, that’s $2700. (roughly 108,000/yr, 32,400 rent)

In my current area, which is a nice suburban area outside a large metropolitan, in one of the most expensive states to live in, renting a small room is $650-800+. Most larger rooms with a private bathroom will run $900+. A two bedroom apartment is $1800+. Renting a basic home is $2600+. I don’t really know how many people are really able to spend only 30% unless they are shacking up with other friends or both making a nice income.

Here’s an article that breaks down the income necessary to make rent for a 2 bedroom apartment in America’s largest cities. Many people can make the rent by not following the 30% rule or living very frugally. The problem is, many of these places have a formula in place that require you to make 3x the rent per month or make 40x the rent annually. This means that even though one may be able to afford the rent, they may not qualify based on income expectations. For a couple that both works full time? This isn’t as difficult. For a family that has one breadwinner that has a decent job but not a high paying job? That’s problematic.

To live in Southern California, it basically takes two $45,000+ salaries to qualify for anything more than a bedroom. To have a home in Southern California, it basically takes two $50,000+ salaries or four $30,000+ salaries. There’s a reason why owning a home looks like something so far in the distance at this point. How long would it take you based on your annual income and savings plan, to gather 20% down for a half a million plus home? How much can one save for a house when rent is this high?

Sobering.

Tahoe Fun

***Super long post warning***

Right before my little vacation I was near my cutoff for dealing with life. Sometimes you just need a small escape to help you focus on the everyday again. More importantly, sometimes you’ve just got to see a best friend in person after emails and texts and Skype calls don’t quite cut it any longer. And luckily, I got both this trip.

We stayed at my friend’s grandmother’s house and I secretly love other people’s grandparents, so I had a lot of fun getting to know her. We’d do some adventuring, H and Me, and then retire in the evening to the living room and watch some Netflix (Anne with an “E”) with her grandma and the siamese cat, Max [who I was sadly *VERY* allergic to]. It was fun re-acquainting with an area I visited in childhood and exploring it again as an adult.

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful mix of “away-from-it-all” and “tourist central” but thankfully we were there right before everything gets busy and flooded with guests. The downside? A lot of activities and museums weren’t open. The upside? Much more away-from-it-all and relaxing for the both of us. Which truly, was more of the focus of this trip.

Things didn’t start off quite right; the flyaway bus took an hour and a half to get to the airport when it should have gotten me there in nearly half that time. From there, I was kindly placed in the express TSA line and RAN to my gating area. Only to find that I had a shuttle to take from there. I finally hopped on, checked the time frantically, and asked the driver if I’d make my flight. She, half-caring, nodded and told me to take a seat. Once I got to THAT building, I once again ran in a frenzy to the actual gate and was told that the planes doors were shut and there was no way to board it now. I’d have to attempt the next flight as a standby. There were four or five of us total that I could see who had just barely missed it and that worried me too: we’d all be vying for a seat on the next nearly full flight. I was about three minutes too late. Three. Because the flyaway bus took forever and the shuttle was running late. Because we waited for a plane to clear the shuttle’s path. I was so upset that all of these things that were happening were out of my control despite planning my flyaway bus in plenty of time. I will be sending them a formal complaint for not disclosing shuttle times or the fact that my flight wasn’t in a main terminal.

I texted H and let her know of the change of plans and felt terrible for extending their wait in Reno to pick me up. She assured me they understood and that I let them know at a good time so they could figure out some things to do in the meantime. I was so frustrated, especially since my trip was so short. I should have landed by 12:32 pm, and now I wouldn’t be in Reno until 6:30. The half a day I expected to have with them was gone, and we only had time to dine and get to her grandmother’s. They were such troopers and I could tell her grandma was quite exhausted from a full day out.

Our first full day we walked around the South Lake Tahoe marina and shopped and enjoy coffee in the Heavenly center. It was super casual and just what we needed. That evening we walked down the street and up the hill near the house. I could feel the combination of  thin mountain air, tight lungs from the recent bronchitis and cat allergy, and extra weight really making this relatively short inclined stroll a problem. I needed to pause and catch my breath a handful of times to make it all the way up.

The second day, I got to meet H’s cousin and we all enjoyed a good chat over coffee. We got basic instructions on how to drive down to the Emerald Bay lookout, and started our second adventure around noon. I was surprised at how easy it was to get gas and go to the lookout; we had our GPS going for good measure but would have gotten there without it very easily. The lookout was gorgeous and easy to get to, with only one little ominous-looking portion of road. We knew the trail there would take us to Vikingsholm, which is still closed. We mutually agreed to take it easy and not go any further than we felt since the 1 mile hike was easy down, and very steep coming back up.

Really, we should have known better. We kept saying we’d stop here or there and not really follow through. We finally got to a spot where EVERYONE looked like they had some labored breathing and H said it might only get steeper there. Did we stop? Ha! We asked a person hiking up how much further and he said 10 minutes and we went for it! The views from the bottom were amazing. We got to see a small log cabin, the beautiful craftsmanship of Vikingsholm, and get to the water’s edge of Emerald Bay. If we didn’t go all the way, we would have been so disappointed.

The hike up was absolutely awful for me physically. I was breathing super heavy and since the circulation in my feet isn’t the greatest right now, there were portions of the hike up where my calves and foot cramped stiff. H was gracious and let me take a ton of breaks. Some of them were quite sad; maybe 15 feet away from each other. I finally figured out my stamina and breathing worked out better if I power walked in a quick burst and then rested a good while rather than trying to go slow and steady. I’m really glad we did the hike even though I wasn’t happy with how hard it was on my body. The big plus here was I never got wheezy, I just had labored breathing.

On Sunday, we left for the airport and back to our places. It was really only 2 full days, but I left feeling full in heart and soul. I’m so thankful for our friendship.

I’m super open with my friend and don’t ever feel judgement from her which I so appreciate. I told her I really felt like I was at “that point”. Sure, there were contributing factors to how I felt on our walks, but really, I knew my weight and health had hit a point where it was starting to disable me. I think I’ve had a couple enough-is-enough points, but this one really hit home. I shared with her how now, at this heavy point, physical exertion was harder, and I had to be mindful of my weight limiting some activities, like say zip-lining or maxing out a weight limit paddle boating with an equally overweight friend. I just don’t want that kind of worry and limitation in my life.

I’m happy that in that admittance and through the strenuous labored portions of our trip, I never felt shame or hated on my body. I was somewhat ashamed of my hiking performance, sure, but it never negatively affected my idea of my body or worth. I think that shows a lot of growth on my part. I’ve learned to not make the idea of weight loss emotional or negative (although of course we all have those days). It was just simple: I don’t like how I feel and how hard it was on my body so I need to be more disciplined to doing something about it. And I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying sugary coffee because I was on vacation. No. More. Guilt.

Yesterday I started my day with a bowl of traditional oatmeal. I had a light healthy lunch and allotted the calories for dinner out with my boyfriend. Today, I had some baked oatmeal and egg whites and have a sardine salad for lunch and the gym scheduled for this evening. None of this is rooted in negativity.

I printed out the Tahoe pics already and have them in all the little corners of my room for happy memories.

Now back to the grind.

Less Shopping; More Finances and Free Time

I talk about organizing and minimizing a lot but I’m not “there yet” in any way. I have found that I am more disciplined and my bank account and home are reaping the rewards. By gradually reducing and spending less, money doesn’t feel so tight. When I want something whole-heartedly, I don’t mind paying full price or settling on something that will do. I’m averaging anywhere from $50-150 less spent per month. That’s eye opening for me. Instead of wandering the aisles tracking down finds I find myself actually having a moment to pause by driving straight home and actually unwinding. I used to buy a lot for others too but I’m trying to find other ways to show appreciation and investment.

Can you believe there was a time in my life where I spent at least half my week shopping after work? It was good exercise to an extent, but I also found myself mentally exhausted by the time I got home and short on time. I also got frustrated when I walked out of a place empty handed. Now, I am amused and happy when I can say I didn’t need that.

I find a lot of joy in grocery shopping, so I do still find shopping cathartic but it’s on items that will be consumed shortly. The colors of bell peppers excite me. Finding the most perfect orange in the bunch. The little things. New ingredients and flavors to try. Foods that I know are full of benefits. I’ve shifted a lot of shopping fulfillment to that department. I’m still spending more than I should in this area, but overall, I’m saving and  getting fresh ingredients so that will do.

Letting go is still one of the hardest parts. Deciding I no longer need something that is still in great condition or letting go of a multiple takes me several attempts. That will take more time and practice. Right now, I’m just working on it as I go. Letting go of non-physical is hard for me too. I’ve been working on building habit, and purposefully keeping myself from any new projects and art because I need to establish a focus with what I am doing currently. I find my head less cloudy and time better spent when I do that.

I want to aim to take room pictures for this blog in May. They’ve been long overdue and it’ll be a fun reward to me for working on it.

Large Purchase Item and General Apathy

I’ve been feeling a lot of general apathy lately. I go from 0 to 100, nearly bawling my eyes out when thinking or doing something for a cause or person I really care about to not feeling anything when my brain says “Hey, this should make you smile.” “Hey, this should be fun.”

Life is super mundane right now. Unfortunately, most of my excitement is coming from food and that’s non-diet friendly stuff too. I need to refocus badly so I’m sobering up my routine March 1st.

I don’t want to place all my eggs in a happiness basket but I think I’m due for a vacation soon. Something to shake up my surroundings. I have a very fun day planned in March and I just keep telling myself to chug along and grasp on to little tidbits of rest in the meantime.

I’ve been very observant of spending lately because I have a large purchase to make. My mac is a fossil in tech years and it’s becoming more apparent that, to my chagrin, my 9 year old laptop isn’t cutting it anymore. I wouldn’t be so hesitant if the price tag on a new Macbook Pro wasn’t $3,000 for what I need it to do as a designer. Or if I hadn’t have spent thousands on trying to figure out my (still unresolved) health ailment.

One of the things that bothers me is that while I am blood clot and circulation issue free (thousand of dollars later, I’ve got that at least) is that I might put myself at a bigger risk for a clot flying now that I’m dealing with edema. That means no long flights or road trips when I’m craving one so badly. :-/

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow