8 Months

My non-profit planning meeting just finished, and I had just grabbed a simple bite to eat, and hit the road to my brother’s place.  Almost every weekend there’s been a call asking if I can help with the baby while they gain some sanity. Not because my sweet nephew is an inconvenience, but because my brother’s concussion is still alive and well 8 months after the accident.

My SIL just got Kai fed and napping and placed him in my arms. My brother just got up to get some small tasks done — and boom: one of the most painful migraines he’s experienced in months hits. I sat on their couch rocking the baby ever so slightly to keep him soundly asleep as his father wept at the kitchen table not even 20 feet away.

If you saw my brother, you would usually hear cheer in his voice and the soundness of his intelligence as he engaged in a deep conversation with you despite having a constant headache. You would assume he was fine. Sometimes I even forget for a split second. And then, moments like this occur when you really see the monster rear its ugliness.

My brother called out for my SIL to make some quick food so he could eat and take his medication. His words were trembling and she quickly put something together and stroked his back and spoke gently with assuring words to him. His weeping was only stifled enough to swallow the meager meal in front of him so he could safely take the prescriptions lined in front of him. R counted out the dosage of multiple things and made sure in the fog of emotions and pain N could follow and confirm.

It was like watching the most heart-wrenching play unfold before me and I tried to stay quiet and bat the tears away from my eyes. This has been N and R’s reality for 8 months. This has been little Kai’s reality for 7 months – his entire life so far. It’s been mommy running around trying to clean the house, trying to make enough money to pay the medical bills, trying to do her best choosing to exclusively nurse while taking daddy to multiple appointments each week. It’s daddy trying to keep him entertained while bracing through a war of emotion and constant pain. It’s mommy holding back a break down because her home is a mess and she hasn’t had a moment to compose alone in close to a year.  It’s daddy feeling powerless and trying to fight feelings of depression and inadequacy as a husband and father and fighter.

To be honest, most weekends I feel like I’ve cut myself short because of the 12+ hours I am there when they call. But how could I say no? How could I not do what I can to give them the smallest flicker of stability when this is their reality? This is more important. So I rock the baby ever gently and put off the piles of laundry and whatnot that await me at home for a weekday.

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.

Happy and Fulfilling Times

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I think in a way it was to actualize the fun things happening right now. Do you remember as a kid not quickly sharing something exciting to keep from jinxing it and to make sure it was still going to happen?

I got a good raise.

A few weeks ago we had reviews at work and I walked out of that meeting with a generous raise. It wasn’t impressive in a moving-up-a-tax-bracket way, but it meant a lot to me. In the meeting my boss praised me for my attitude, commitment to detail, and professionalism. Not only that, be he was excited to do my review first because he was most excited for it. He told me that he wants me to be a vital part of this company and fill bigger shoes with a more managerial role. Essentially, be the marketing director in the making.

Not only that, but I figured out the extra income I’d make with the raise and God specifically answered a request with it. I have a large electronic purchase to make, in the thousands range, and numbers nearly matched. That is a huge praise. I know that after taxes it won’t completely cover the device, but I believe that pre-taxes amount matching is from God.

I am doing a bigger part for the non-profit.

This year I didn’t get to be print chair. I got to be publicity assistant. But I’ve done a lot of stretching and contacting and making connections that I think will benefit our cause in the future. And that, despite some stress and extra time, is super empowering for me. I connected our executive director with the president of a county-wide Autism organization and she said she’d like to partner with us to give foster kids with Autism a bigger voice. I kickstarted a PSA process so that we can spread the news of our event via broadcasting from now on. I reached out to bloggers and advertisers and built up my sense of brave.

I’m helping out my brother and sister-in-law.

It’s been seven months and my brother is still dealing with a lot of pain and the concussion has not improved noticeably. With all the medical bills post accident, my sister-in-law is working hard trying to break even while working, driving my brother to specialists, and exclusively nursing their 6 month old son. It’s been tough to keep it together with the financial and emotional strain coupled with the lack of sleep a baby brings. She is so strong and I admire her so much. My brother is such a trooper too. I don’t know how he is coping with so much pain. On Friday or Saturday I’ve been spending the night and helping with my nephew so my brother can rest and my SIL can do the paperwork side of her job/catch up on housework. I try to get the dishes and other little chores out of the way when my nephew naps to help them out.

It’s a very busy but fulfilling season of life, and I’m filled with gratefulness.

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. :-/

Ignoring Ignorance. Choosing to Love.

First of all – my ultrasound results for my legs came back negative for a circulation issue. That’s a big praise report! I still have no idea what is causing my issues but I think it NOT being blood clot or circulation related is a definite positive.

With some of the health issues of late, I’ve gotten constant reminders, not from doctors but my mom, to lose weight. She loves to chime in with “maybe your problems would go away if you just lost X pounds.” (Yes, there is some potential truth to that) She also drives me batty because she’s one of those people who watches infomercials and thinks it or what Dr. Oz has to say will be magical for me. “I’ll buy you this 30 day fix.” “Dr. Oz says to lose weight you should…”

Most recently I showed her passport photos I got done. My hair was down but placed behind my shoulders. The camera angle was rather unflattering because it was angled slightly up instead of straight on. I showed it to her to let her know I was proactively working on getting my passport ready but her first response was, “Did they tell you to put your hair back like that? It’s better in front of your face.” Without being direct, she hinted that my moon-shaped face looked slimmer and more flattering with hair covering the sides and elongating.

My aunt who lives in town was over a while back and I was a little more done up that usual in a dress and wearing makeup for church. Before she left she grabbed my face and told me how beautiful it was. She said if I could lose weight I’d have a beautiful body to go with it. She tried to encourage me with her double sided words, assuring me that some people have a nice body but can’t change their face, but I had the face and my body can change.

I’m still surprised I made it through teen-hood and my early twenties without an eating disorder. I don’t mean that flippantly. I’m serious. My family and extended family have been my worst offenders throughout my life. I still remember the holiday I locked myself in my bedroom after my uncle offered to give me $1/lb that I lost. I thought “wow, I cost less than steak per pound. My total worth is about $220.”

Why am I bringing this up? Because I could be very bitter and hate these family members for their words. Instead, I choose to forgive their ignorance and ignore their implications. I am more comfortable with who I am than ever although I do wish to lose weight. And their hurtful comments are now easy to shake off because I know I don’t need to process their unfiltered nonsense.

I wrote about sending comments to spam here. It’s been a life changing way of dealing with negativity and unsolicited comments. I can be conscious of my present state and plan of action without letting the thoughts of others invade my feelings.

I’m changing for me. No one else.

Unroll.me: The Purger and Merger

Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock. Like, didn’t sign up for spotify until the end of last year type of rock.

It’s no surprise that with my fossilized tech sense of living that I also just used unroll.me for the first time ever. And goodness, is it awesome.

You go to the site, then allow it access to your contacts and sign into your email account. Then, magic happens. And if you’re drowning in junk mail like me, this might take a couple minutes.

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There is one catch. They let you unsubscribe from about 10ish things and then tell you to share it to be able to unsub to more. I just shared it privately to my FB and voila. All the unsubs.

Look at that number! I am a worm! I used to shop in person and online A LOT. And what do they do at checkout? Ask you for your email.

It also had blogger subscriptions which makes it easy to clean up blog subs from multiple places like blogger and wordpress. I mostly kept my blog subs but there were a few style/beauty ones I said adios to.

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Step one. I cleared out 57 my first attempt and then realized I had no idea what rolling up emails meant.

Round 2:

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I looked in the FAQ and rolled up emails means instead of getting 80 things you can get them all in one place merged in one email. I rolled up most of my shopping subs, art/event subs, concert subs, and etcetera emails and went from a cleaned up 97 emails to 43 kept in inbox. Glorious.

Here’s what I didn’t roll up:

– My blog subs I love and want to know about ASAP or be able to read via email.
– My top 5 shopping spots only because I do appreciate knowing what’s in season there and getting those quick sale codes when offered. Because 50-75% is amazing. With stuff I’ve already planned to buy, anyway. Not to impulse shop(at least, not as much as before).
– Anything related to banking/medical/bills

It’s a life changer.

While I keep a very uncluttered new email account, I still like holding on to my old one for sales posts and blog subs. It helps me separate things. I like that with the rolled up email I can still keep my retail subs from pertinent places without being tempted to look at them unless I need them. And that my inbox won’t get 30+ emails a day from mindless sources.

So 29 Happened. Still Quarter-lifing?

Guys. I’m 29 now. My last little slice of 20’s.

I’m not sure how much longer I can claim quarter-lifing. If this is a quarter I’ll be making newspapers for being the eldest woman in my county or something. Hah! But I’m not also into my thirds, God willing! I’d like to live past 60 if that’s in His plan. So I’m kind of floating. I’m still dealing with a lot of quarter-lifer issues, so I think the blog name still is very fitting.

My birthday was a mixture of doing taxes, dog sitting, just chilling with my boyfriend, and then a delicious teppanyaki dinner (my first teppan ever).

Being a glass half full person and someone who likes new starts, I’m sure I’ll embrace 30 next year like a boss. I’ll be pumped to enter a new decade of life and ready to take it on. This year being the tail-end of a decade though? That was kind of hard on me. Am I wrapping up my twenties right? Am I where I need to be? Did I do enough? Those kinds of thoughts went through my mind.

To be honest, as a teen, I thought I’d get a good job straight out of college, be married by 27/28 and ideally have my first kid by 30. I’d be so well into my career I could freelance and do the whole STAHM/lady boss mom thing. But the reality is I’m not married yet and that doesn’t bother me. I’m more hard pressed about my job. I have a great job with solid benefits. It’s not in any way ideal, but it’s close to home and pays the bills with a little extra. It’s not anything to brag about or that would make me notable in the design world though. I also live in an area that is high cost so things like buying a house seem like a world away. And I guess part of my humble pie is realizing the greatness I wanted as a teen is going to take more effort than I’ve put in and longer than I desire. And so does the rest of plan A.

In 2015 I promised a whole bunch of stuff and it didn’t all work out, and in 2016 my birthday was spent at the hospital as my uncle was dying, so I’m keeping 29 year old plans simple.

1. Open that darn IRA/IRA-ROTH already!
2. Continue to learn about adulting in the realm of finances and “future” smarts
3. Get myself on a better habit/schedule of life tasks. And that includes self care
4. Work on keeping up to date with design skills
5. Spend more quality time studying my faith and acknowledging God’s work in my life
6. Be braver in making local friends.

The Silence is Dumbing

There are days where I clock in and clock out and in those 8 hours have never spoken a word.

There are days where the only dialogue I get outside of my house is the total charged for my groceries.

There are days I spill my guts through texts and emails because that’s the only outlet I have.

I feel like my conversational skills have atrophied and when I open my mouth, I am clueless on how to share what I’m thinking or don’t even know what to say. As my mouth moves, my brain cringes at the vomit I half-heartedly conjured.

I feel like sometimes I disregard my feelings because it’s too hard to accurately portray them. Or I don’t sufficiently give my cause. And I hate that, because those are the only swords I have that convey mental capacity and tenacity.

I feel like my vocabulary and thoughts only work on paper or typed out from a keyboard.

One of the compliments I have often genuinely received from others is that I’m a good listener. I wish I could equally project myself and cultivate my speaking ability to match my propensity to listen.

I do enjoy listening. But I also want to be heard.

“We Did It Again!”

Home Alone 2 was a staple in my home growing up. If I had to describe my dad’s favorite movies to you growing up it would be “Christmas movies and James Bond.” I’m pretty sure the James Bond part is out the window now, especially as the R rating becomes more scandalous in nature, and it is now “Christmas Movies and Netflix War Documentaries and the occasional reality series about something boring like Ice Road Drivers.”

All that to say, the infamous line of Home Alone 2 is “We did it again!” Kevin’s parents look at each other in distress and mirror each other’s words in bewilderment.

I’m kind of there, but in a different way. And I think anyone not living up to their goals/NYR might be feeling the same. Sometimes we’re creatures of habit or find ourselves repeating things we wish we didn’t.

For me that is being too busy.

I grew up in a very close knit church. It was kind of expected that you were heavily involved and helped out. I love being a part of ministry. But now I don’t feel compelled to volunteer out of guilt or because I’m afraid no one else will step up. That being said, maybe I still feel compulsive sometimes. I can carve out an hour for X can’t I?  [The answer is no, Laura!]

I also hid myself in academics growing up because I was awkward and felt that if I couldn’t keep a conversation or make friends easily at least I could use facts and mental capacity to help. This mostly meant someone with average or slightly better than average tried to get straight A’s because I’m no genius. And it stopped working after college anyway. But there is still this echo of needing to better myself mentally or build new skills. Sometimes healthy, sometimes consuming.

Anyways. Being busy is how I defined myself for years. It’s something hard for me to shake. And now as January wraps up I can see things heaping up in my arms already.

I’m not sure what balance looks like but this week was

Mon – Date night
Tues – Bible Study
Wed – Seminar
Thurs – Non-profit Meeting/ Non prof work
Fri – Art Lesson

I think the earliest I got home/relaxed any of those nights was 8:30pm. And that’s after putting in 8+ hours at my job. This is why I might be kinda nuts.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I was super organized, but I’m not there yet. My Wednesdays will open up after the series of seminars is over, but I know I’ll be craving something to fill the spot. And that’s why I need to tell myself to calm down.

I’m looking at this super full week and how I feel right now and how this is too much and filing it for when I get a crazy notion that I need to do more. Finding balance is taking me a while.

Double Whammy: When good times and bad times share the same date.

This Sunday was Josh and my dating anniversary. It was also my Uncle Norman’s birthday. His first one since he passed last year. Of course it doesn’t mean anything to him anymore in heaven, but to his family and friends that are still here? I miss him and know my aunt is going through a rough patch right now as she is coping. Yesterday was pouring rain and she didn’t even make it to church. She was home alone on a gloomy weather day, mourning her husband. That got me as I empathized with her. Josh took me to a yummy restaurant for dinner that evening and ended the night with a surprise movie date where it was just us, a big screen, and a pint of ice cream to share between the two of us. There were feelings of great sadness and great happiness yesterday.

Last year on my birthday I had one of the hardest birthdays I’ve ever had to face. Josh had just surprised me and taken me out to lunch on my lunch break and dropped me back at work. The phone rang about 30 minutes later and my brother informed me if I wanted to say goodbye to my uncle I better go to the hospital now. I cried so much throughout that day. And I was there, emotionally distraught, until the wee hours of the next morning when my Uncle drew his last gasping breath. I am wholeheartedly thankful for that opportunity. To bond even deeper with my cousins and aunt and my family as we drew strength from each other to make it through this very hard goodbye. To let my Uncle know, however lucid he was, that all of us were there. But I know without a doubt that my birthday this year will be hard to celebrate. It’s also marks my last year of being in my 20’s. And it’s a sad reminder that I have no close local friends to celebrate it with. My closest friends are scattered hours or days drives away from me.

I probably sound like I’m throwing myself a big pity party, but really, I am just a deeply emotional person conflicted by the happiness and sadness of life contrasted by loss.