Wednesday, November 13, 2013

365 questions: 342 - 365!!!

342. What is the closest you have ever come to fearing for your life?

Riding on the back of my dad's motorcycle in Canada. He drives like a maniac, and the twisty Canadian gravel roads don't agree with his driving style. I was planning my exit off the back in case something terrible were to happen. 

343. How do you deal with isolation and loneliness?

I wrap myself up in whatever I'm doing. I never have a lack of obligations or responsibilities, with my tendency to over-commit myself to everything. I typically either work more or focus on homework like I should. Sometimes I cry about it and take a bubble bath. I very rarely get lonely.

344. What do you know well enough to teach to others?

Plenty of things. I made my living teaching others for a year! ACT/SAT/PSAT test prep, math through college level, biology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology, English. Non-academic: virtually everything there is to know about wine, particularly Old-World regions and varietals; beer; spirits (particularly scotch whiskey); knitting; cooking.  

345. What’s a quick decision you once made that changed your life?

The decision I made to go to Europe was a pretty impulsive one that definitely shaped that summer, for sure. A quick decision that changed my entire life, though? Probably buying my plane ticket to Jacksonville six and a half years ago. It was a total impulse thing.

346. What have you lost interest in recently?

Last weekend was a pretty traumatic experience for me, and I've been having a difficult time coping. I wouldn't say I've necessarily lost interest, but I've lost motivation to do a lot of things - schoolwork, showering, housekeeping. 

347. What makes life easier?

Lots of things. Money. A great support network. An education. Limited bills. And the love of a wonderful partner.

348. What was the last thing you furiously argued about with someone?

I don't "furiously argue" about much of anything, but I was very upset about how work handled a situation and when Kyle said he could see their side, I got slightly irrational. 

349. What job would you never do no matter how much it paid?

Janitorial work. I won't clean toilets, period. I dislike cleaning my own enough. I definitely wouldn't clean anyone else's!

350. What is the number one solution to healing the world?

Love. More love = less hate, more tolerance, better support systems, and more heartfelt response to tragedy.

351. What could society do without?


352. What stresses you out?

Others' expectations. I'm not stressed by responsibility, but I'm definitely stressed by someone else's perception of what I should be doing with that responsibility, or how I succeed in situations. 

353. Now that it’s behind you, what did you do last week that was memorable?

Finished another book toward my 101!

354. Where do you spend most of your time while you’re awake?

Usually at school. I have school for more than seven hours a day, four days a week. So I spend a lot of time on campus. When I'm not at school, I'm almost always at work.

355. What makes someone a hero?

I think heroism is incredibly personal, so a hero to me would likely not be a hero to anyone else. However, I would say a hero is someone who attempted a selfless act at great personal risk to themselves. Alternatively, someone who has a lasting positive impact on someone's life.

356. When in your life have you been a victim of stereotyping?

I'm a redhead. I'm also a girl in a science field (engineering, then math). The vast majority of my education, I've surprised people. 

357. When was the last time you felt lucky?

Kyle and I scored a free room at a gorgeous B&B in Sedona for Veteran's Day as a thank-you for his service. That was pretty lucky!

358. When did you first realize that life is short?

I've experienced a lot of loss, but I think one of the most poignant was a guy I went to high school with, who was a year behind me. He passed away my first year out of high school and I went back home for the funeral. Totally normal kid, senior in high school, friends with everyone, and didn't make it to his own graduation. 

359. What is the most insensitive thing a person can do?

Ignore you when you need them

360. What can someone do to grab your attention?

Say something about expensive wine or yummy food! 

361. What do you usually think about on your drive home from work?

How freakishly tired I am, and whether or not I'm staying between the lane lines

362. What’s one downside of the modern day world?

Easy internet access for kids is dumbing down their vocabulary. Just take one quick look at Youtube. 

363. What simple fact do you wish more people understood?

Hard work will get you far in life. Quit skating through life and passing off your work to everyone else!

364. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

I firmly believe in learning from past life experiences rather than regretting them. But I do wish I would've scheduled my plane ticket for a few days before Grandpa Jer passed away. I would have really loved to see him once more. 

365. How would you describe your future in three words?

It looks bright.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm back! And I'm thankful.

Blogger has absolutely refused to load for me on my laptop lately, but the problem was miraculously solved! (Unlike all the other loading problems I've been having lately, unfortunately.)

Catching up on my Month of Gratitude:

Day 1: I'm thankful for such a wonderful partner. This morning, Kyle bought us tickets to go see Mannheim Steamroller when they're in town next month!

Day 2: I am thankful that I have a Trader Joe's so close to my house! I had one of their pumpkin muffins for breakfast. Yummy!!

Day 3: I'm thankful that we got to the fair just in time for MONSTER TRUCKS!!!! I was so bummed and thought we had missed them by not going the day before. 

Day 4: I'm so thankful I had a little one-on-one time with Mara last night. It really tore me up that I couldn't be there with her on Friday night so it was really special to me to have that time with her. I gave her the Trader Joe's gift cards I had gotten last week, and to be able to give her the reassurance that she doesn't have to worry about groceries for a while really meant a lot to both of us. 

In other news, I purchased another year membership at my favorite local Bikram studio (BYT) a few days ago, so hopefully I'll make it down to that svelte 125 in the next month! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

101 update: Two months left

Two months left of this challenge, and I'm 35% done... That's totally fine, right?

Right. I started this project while in school and going through an incredibly difficult phase in my relationship. I chose very lofty goals and didn't account for my lack of free time.

The two big monetary goals, I've made. I have paid well over my $15,000 goal toward my student loans. I also have a savings account I'm happy with, though I haven't crossed that goal off because I'll have to pay tuition again in December. I still need to have budgeted appropriately then!

Many of my time- or money- intensive goals haven't been reached. I haven't read 100 books, or finished knitting anything, or traveled to another continent. My focus has been narrower, and I prioritized the goals that were most important to me.

I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I hope to have 40+ goals completed by the end of this period. (Ideally, I'd complete 50%, but that's a stretch at this point.) I can easily finish cleaning out my closet, make my own laundry detergent, finish my 365 questions... If I prioritize my time properly, I can definitely knock out five more. I need to spend more time working on homework when I have the time available, and then I might spend less time stressing at the last minute because I prioritized poorly. (Not that I have any practice at procrastination, or anything.)

Five more.  Let's do this.

365 questions: 333-341

333. What confuses you?

Probably my biggest confusion right now lies with education politics. ASU frustrates me. Federal student loan drama frustrates me. And all wrapped up together, it's a confusing bundle. Education is encouraged, but financially unattainable for so many.

334. In what way are you your own worst enemy?

I don't set myself up for success. I have a tendency to not do homework, because I don't feel like it, or because I often find it menial, and it affects my grade much later down the road. I also (as has been mentioned previously) am not the world's greatest communicator and tend toward emotional reactions. 

335. When did you not speak up when you should have?

I have always had difficulty with the word "no." I don't like negatively affecting others' opinion of me. However, I have recently been making more of a stand for myself.

336. What is your favorite quote?

The entire poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. I absolutely adore it. 

337. What is your favorite fictional story?  (novel, movie, fairytale, etc.)

I think Jurrasic Park is pretty awesome. Plus, Michael Crichton is one of my favorite authors ever.

338. Where or who do you turn to when you need good advice?

My mama is always a good listener. Erika is pretty wonderful as well. And Kyle knows me better than pretty much anyone, so I value what he thinks. I also tend to spend a lot of time alone when I'm going through something stressful, so I have time to process and think. 

339. What artistic medium do you use to express yourself?

Music has always been my outlet of choice. I haven't had the opportunity to play piano very often in the last few years, but my music is definitely my artistic medium. Anything that relates to it, as well, is fair game. I have gone dancing on a fairly regular basis, as it's an expression of your body to music.

340. Who or what is the greatest enemy of mankind?

Today, I'm inclined to believe it's our own nation's Congress. Damn, guys. Get your shit together. Because it's OH SO TERRIBLE to allow me to stay on my parents' insurance (if they had any) for another year. 

341. What’s something you wish you had done earlier in life?

In the same vein as the previous question... got my shit together. I wish I would've found my focus much earlier, so I wasn't still in school for my undergraduate degree and $80,000 in debt.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Home alone!

This spring, a former coworker asked if she could move in temporarily when her lease was up. She was madly in love with a British guy who invited her to England this fall for his sister's wedding, and wanted to save up some cash to travel, so I agreed to the 2-3 month arrangement.

Well June rolled around, when her lease was up, and she said the stakes had changed. She had decided not to go to England this fall, and was planning on leaving when she moved up to Flagstaff to go to school in January. Oh, boy. Might have been nice to discuss that with me first!

Well she moved in, and we started having issues with her lack of cleanliness. We had a few conversations, then a roach in the house, and then she left last weekend for four days with the kitchen looking like this...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

August 101 update and Labor Day vacation!

I went back to school full-time this month, so my free time was (and is) pretty limited. Nonetheless, I accomplished the following:

  • paid more on my student loans! So much more, in fact, that I crossed that one off the list! Woohoo!! 
  • donated more rice! 
  • read another book! Finished the first week of school - probably the last book I'll read for pleasure for the next little while. 

That's 35 goals down, now. Took a while to cross off another one, but I'm still makin' progress, and that's all that counts! 

Just got back from a weekend getaway with the Mister, where we got plenty of relaxing in, spent some time with my little sister and her hubs, and I caught up on sleep! We stayed at the Flagstaff Courtyard Marriott (don't recommend) and ate at Cuvee 928 (such disappointing service!). Good thing I had such wonderful company, or I might have been super bummed. We're back home missing my favorite memory foam pillow, a little more sunburnt than is enjoyable, but rested and happy. We didn't take a whole lot of photos, but if I can put a few together, you may get a peek at the gorgeous Walnut Canyon cliff dwellings. 

More later! xoxo

Thursday, July 25, 2013

July 101 update

  • paid more on my student loans! I have less than $1000 to go. 
  • donated rice! I've been slacking in that department lately. 
  • read another book! (Yay John Grisham!) I hadn't finished anything since March, so it's about time. Wow. 
ASU has sucked up over $6k from me in the last month, but I'm close to completing my student loan goal! School starts this month so I'm not sure how much I can realistically complete while working full-time and going to school full-time, but here's to hoping I can finish at least half my list by December! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

June 101 update!!

This past month, I:
  • paid more on my student loans! Over $2000 this month!!!
  • visited a new museum in San Diego
So maybe I didn't cross off another goal, but I paid over $2000 on my loans. I'm so thrilled!! I just made another payment this morning, too, so I have less than $1500 left until I've met my goal. 

Kyle and I went out to Mission Beach for my birthday weekend, and we spent Sunday at the San Diego Natural History Museum. That weekend was so delightful! I can't remember the last time I had four days off in a row. I think it might have been for my little sister's wedding! We got to relax and eat delicious food, hang out on the beach, and enjoy that gorgeous weather (and then come home to 118, unfortunately). I'll try to get a few photos up here in the next few days.

And since I should have a little extra time this week with the holiday, hopefully I'll (finally) get some reading done! Here's to a productive July!


Monday, June 3, 2013

May 101 update!!!

I am so proud of myself for this month.

  • paid more on my student loans. (That's $11K down, baby!!) 
  • blogged Orange Sky (that's 34 goals down!)
  • answered a few more questions
  • watched another old movie (halfway done with that one!)

I only crossed off one goal, but made such huge progress on my student loans! Things should be calming down here this month, so hopefully I'll have time to shove my face in a book or four, and start chipping away on the remainder for that goal. 

This is also the month I turn 25! I will be taking a little vacation to go see my grandparents again and stay with a friend on the beach. 

I am currently finishing up paperwork to enroll in a summer class that starts in July, and I will be officially back in school full-time in the fall. I only have a year left until graduation!! I have come such a long way since I started this project, and my plans have changed so much. It's amusing to look back only two years and see how much has changed. 

Here's to more awesome progress this month! 

Monday, May 27, 2013

365 questions: 326 - 332

326. What questions do you often ask yourself?

I constantly am asking where I'm going in life. I set goals for myself and check in on a regular basis, because I know I won't make progress if I don't hold myself accountable. 

327. What are you an expert at?

Algebra. Drinking wine pretentiously.

328. How would an extra $1000 a month change your life?

I could put an extra $800+ toward my student loans, and have a little extra to spend on myself every month. I deserve a massage every once in a while, but I never treat myself to one. It would be pretty stellar! I could also cut down my hours at work drastically, and afford to take a day off on occasion rather than once every 2+ months. 

329. What things in life should always be free?

Love. Healthcare (or at the very least, affordable).

330. What is your favorite time of the year?

Autumn. I absolutely love the changing leaves. The colors, the weather - I adore the fall!

331. What is something you have always wanted since you were a kid?

Success. From a very young age, my parents instilled a huge drive in me for success. Much more than material things, that is what I've wanted for years.

332. What is the most recent dream you remember having while sleeping?

Haha! I was just retelling it. Kyle was going to school, and we were discussing his sleeping arrangements - something like a cross between a dorm and a co-ed sleeping porch. And I was mad. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

April 101 update!!

I'm awesome and crossed off another goal last month!

  • paid more on my student loans. 
  • bought a new laptop! (17" screen. Holy cow.) 
  • donated rice!

I'm now at $9750 paid on my loans, so only another $6250 to go in the next seven months. Totally do-able, and I feel awesome about the progress I'm making!

I have a million and one books checked out from the library right now, and I plan on completing several of them this coming month. I've cut back on my hours at work, so I should have more time to read! I should also be able to make a dent in my loans this month. Here's to progress! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

March 101 update

For the month of March, I:
  • yelped one new restaurant! 
  • paid more on my student loans (I'm at $9000 of $15,000 now! That's 60% there, and I've only been paying on my loans for seven months!)
  • read two books!
  • donated toward the funeral fund of a little girl whose family I've never met. Crossed off my random act of kindness goal! (That's 31 down!)
  • used a bunch of coupons and crossed off that goal! (32 now!)
  • answered some more questions
  • donated some rice 

I completed two goals, and made progress toward five more! I'm gettin' there. 

For the month of April, I would like to cross off two more! It's not even noon on April 1st and I've already made another loan payment, so let's see what goals I can knock out this month! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

365 questions: 317 - 325

317. When was your first impression of someone totally wrong?

Honestly, I don't know. I'm usually pretty good at judging people on a first impression. If I had to give an answer, I'd probably say when the newest manager at work started, I thought she was a little bitchy. But I've definitely warmed up to her as she's warmed up to her position, and she's one of my two favorite managers at work now.

318. How many hours a week do you spend online?

It depends on how much I'm working. I generally work about 70 hours per week, and spend a large percentage of my free time at home utilizing the internet - logging hours for clients, researching new questions and methods, and the obvious - email, facebook, blogging (though I haven't had much free time lately!), and entertainment. I would guess about 12-15 hours per week. I compose a LOT of emails on my phone, which are included in that time. 

319. What do you love to do?

I love to read. I love to practice yoga and love to sleep in. I love to hike, and travel, and drink expensive wine. I love to take bubble baths. I love to snuggle up next to the fire. I love to eat amazing food, and love to experiment in the kitchen. I love to kiss. I love lots of things.

320. What specific character trait do you want to be known for?

Integrity. It encompasses honesty, trustworthiness, and respect - three things that are of utmost importance to me. 

321. Are you more like your mom or your dad?  In what way?

I would probably say my dad. As a friend told me at my sister's wedding, I am my dad - exactly. We have very similar personalities and even look very similar. I get my beautiful red hair from him, too. :)

322. What is the number one quality that makes someone a good leader?

I would probably say integrity here, too. You have to inspire people. People have to believe in you in order to want to follow. 

323. What bad habits do you want to break?

I'm too non-confrontational. I wish I could say no more easily. I'd also like to break myself of poor communication habits.

324. What is your favorite place on Earth?

Favorite locale is definitely Innsbruck, Austria. My favorite city in the world! 

325. What do you love to practice?

I love to practice being a better person. I love to practice Bikram yoga, and I also love to practice making babies.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In my absence...

Whoops! Spring break is supposed to be a time of great relaxation and fun times, right? Apparently not to this girl. I've spent the last two weeks working 70+ hours while still trying to stay sane, not letting Raj (who I'm considering renaming Destructo) miss me too much, and making time for the important people in my life. That left approximately zero down time for me.

I did cross off another goal a few days ago. A woman on a message board I used to frequent 2+ years ago had a granddaughter pass away last week. The family was unprepared for the funeral expenses, so I contributed toward that as my random act of kindness. I've made some pretty good progress with my goals so far this month that I'm excited to announce in another week or two.

It's also been a bit emotional for me, this last week or two. I've been doing a lot of introspection, a lot of soul-searching, and taking a lot of bubble baths with a book and a glass of bubbly. Later this week, I have to pack up some furniture that belonged to my bff's grandmother who passed away earlier this year. Priscilla had a home down here, and since none of the family lives in Arizona, I've been put in charge of arranging for the shipping of household goods and heirlooms.

The cleaners come a week from today, and I have been cleaning house in preparation. Like that makes a whole lot of sense. I'm really relieved to have someone take over and deep clean so I don't have to, but that hasn't cut down my stress level.

The last day I had off was February 7th. I've been going, going, going like crazy every day since then and I think I'm just getting worn down. Between my special needs clients and the client that thinks they can ask the world of me, I am completely drained. I had really been looking forward to next Saturday, because I was taking the day off to go to the Renaissance Fair, but now it looks like I have a tutoring client that morning, a shoot in the late morning, and we might end up not going to the Fair afterall.

I've seen a correlation lately between not making time for myself and bad things happening in my life. Last time I went on vacation, I came home to something wonderful. When I stop going to yoga and life gets really hectic, things rarely work in my favor.

I'm taking a stand today to make more time for myself. Even if it means going to bed earlier so I can go to the 5:30/6AM yoga class during the week, I think I can sacrifice a little sleep to get in some good meditation and me-time.

I've been focusing so much lately on the tangible - working to pay off my credit card, pay down my loans, save up for a down payment on property - that I've neglected the last goal for myself this year. Cultivate love, even for myself. There is a fine line in love between working hard to accomplish your goals and taking care of yourself. I love that sense of accomplishment that comes from crossing a new goal off my list, or seeing my credit score jump 30 points because I've paid down my balance, or seeing a growing number in the bank. Those things are so rewarding for me. But sometimes the greatest reward is giving yourself a break.

Are you taking enough me-time?

Friday, March 1, 2013

February 101 update :)

For February, I said I would:
  • read four books
  • watch one old movie
  • complete one scrapbooking page
  • send out something special for a friend
  • bring my rice total to 400,000 grain donated (donate 13K this month)

Of that, I accomplished the following! 
  • read two books
  • donated some rice
  • paid more toward my student loans!
  • went to the BB King concert! (that's 2/2! 30 goals down.)
  • answered a lot more questions!
  • reviewed a new restaurant
  • used $7 in coupons

I crossed another goal off the list. I made a lot of progress, and I paid for another goal that I'll be starting next week. For March, I'm just going to say that I hope to cross off two goals. I won't be specific, because I haven't had a lot of success when I am. And so - to success! 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

365 questions: 311 - 316

311. What is your biggest pet peeve?

The first thing that came to mind is dishonesty, but I think that's probably a bigger deal than a "pet peeve." So for little stuff, I'd probably say having my toilet seat left up, improper grammar, and not fully listening during a conversation. 

312. Who was the last person you said “I love you” to?

My mom. I called her so she could hear the crazy hail on my car when I was driving down the highway. 

313. What is your biggest phobia?

Honestly, it might sound silly, but my biggest fear is not having loads of people to extol my value at my funeral. I want to live a life that impacts others in a big way, and I'm afraid that I won't. 

314. What are some recent compliments you’ve received?

I get compliments on my hair almost daily. I've also been told lately that I'm smart. 

315. How many friends do you have in real life that you talk to regularly?

A bunch. My bestie, Erika. All the fabulous people I work with. Kate. Amy. I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful group of close friends. 

316. How much money per month is enough for you to live comfortably?

My student loans take a huge chunk out of my available cash, but I could live comfortably with $1500 - $2000/mo. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

365 questions: 292 - 310!

292. What is the biggest obstacle that stands in your way right now?

I love the quote from Bridesmaids - "You are your problem. And you're also your solution, Annie." My biggest obstacle is always myself. My biggest obstacle to not having a job I adore is a combination of fear and having wasted so much time in school - both coming back to me. My biggest obstacle in relationships is communication - something that I try to better in myself, but where I am never perfect. I am the only thing I am able to change, so I am the only obstacle on which I should focus. 

293. What do you sometimes pretend you understand that you really don’t?

Men. It's not so much that I pretend that I understand them. I sometimes think I do, and then realize I really don't. 

294. What do you like most about your job?  What do you dislike most about your job?

Oh, boy. My full-time job, I like that I am able to educate others. That is always rewarding for me. I dislike pretty much everything else about the job. I work with management that doesn't appreciate the time and effort I put in. I work a shitty wage and am never recognized for my accomplishments. That is frustrating. My tutoring job, I absolutely adore. I love my clients, and I love helping someone master a new concept. I love that, when I show up to a particular client's house, she almost always offers a glass of wine. The only thing I dislike is that it is a 30+ minute drive to meet with some clients. 

295. What’s something new you recently learned about yourself?

Recently, I learned that I still don't really know where I'm going. There are so many paths in life that appeal to me, and it's difficult for me to choose one and focus on it while still feeling like my family will be proud of me. 

296. In one sentence, how would you describe your relationship with your mother?

She is a wonderful friend, and I'm glad we are so close. 

297. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year?

My little sister's wedding. There was a lot going on that day that made it stick out. I had a conversation with an incredibly wise friend that changed my outlook on a few things. I stood up with my little sister as she made one of the most important decisions of her life. I observed a few behaviors from others that really bothered me. And I learned a little more about myself. 

298. What’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months?

I need to figure my shit out. I need to find a direction, and pursue it. 

299. What makes you feel secure?

Love. Hugs from behind while I'm doing the dishes, or slaving away over the stove. Having enough money in the bank to do whatever I want. 

300. What is your favorite sound?

Rain on the roof, for sure. It's one of my favorite things in the world. 

301. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?

Honesty, trustworthiness, and happiness. I want to surround myself with people who genuinely enjoy life, who will tell me the truth, and who always have my back. 

302. What simple gesture have you recently witnessed that renewed your hope in humanity?

I received a card in the mail today from someone who I've never met, just because she knew I was having a difficult time. It was incredibly special. 

303. What is your favorite smell?

That would probably be homemade baked bread. Cookies are up there, too, though. I love coming home and having the smell of amazing food greet me. 

304. What recent memory makes you smile the most?

About two weeks ago, we had a wine class at work. I usually am unavailable on Thursday evenings because I work with a tutoring client at that time. However, she had cancelled and I texted Kyle asking if he wanted to join me for the class. He led me to believe he would be working late and wouldn't be able to make it. When I got a text message saying he was already there and asking where I was, that definitely put a smile on my face. 

305. In one word, how would you describe your childhood?

Generous. I never wanted as a child. 

306. What celebrities do you admire?  Why?

...Are there admirable celebrities out there right now? I can't say that I really admire anyone. 

307. What is the number one motivator in your life right now?

Happiness. I have decided to live for myself and do what makes me happy. Currently, that's buying a gorgeous painting to hang above my fireplace, and saving up for land in Sedona, because that's one of my favorite places in the world. 

308. What music do you listen to to lift your spirits when you’re feeling down?

It depends. I almost always listen to country, but I have a number of different playlists. Lately, I've been listening to my "Sedona Roadtrippin'" playlist, which has some hip-hop and some rock interspersed in there. My "Hicktown" playlist usually does the trick, too. 

309. If I gave you $1000 and told you that you had to spend it today, what would you buy?

If I could spend it on whatever I wanted, I would pay down part of my student loans. If I had to buy a material item, probably the wine fridge I've been eyeing at Costco. 142 bottles for $999. 

310. What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

I attended a super fun workshop tonight that had me laughing nearly the entire time. I love Express MiE

40 day declutter challenge

My awesome photographer friend Trina has a blog. And this morning, she posted about this crazy 40 Bags in 40 Days Declutter Challenge. Her friend Ann Marie has been doing it several years in a row now, and I'm jumping on board.

Let's be honest. I'm not a mom, with a family and kids and lots of clutter. I'm not going to get rid of anywhere near 40 bags worth of stuff. But I am a student, and I've moved four times in five years, and I have a lot of crap still in boxes that can probably go. I have a lot of clothes that I no longer wear that need to go bye-bye. And I have a desk that I can't even see the surface of, because there's so much crap on it.

So today, Day 1, I am going to clean off the couch. And maybe the end tables (don't want to get too ahead of myself here!). The couch is where I flop down when I walk through the door every day - and the mail in my hands, the coat I'm wearing, everything joins me on the couch or on an end table. This evening, I'm going to clean 'em off so I have a relaxing space in my living room.

Head over to Ann Marie's blog to join in the fun!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

My favorite poem

I was reminded of this poem tonight, watching my favorite teacher of all-time receive the Excellent Educator award. He mentioned, when talking about the lesson he wished to leave with everyone, that his class was going over Rudyard Kipling's poem If in class not too long ago.

It was exactly what I needed to hear tonight.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Congratulations, Mr. Brown. When I look back on my education, you are the one person that made the biggest difference. You are an amazing person and an amazing educator, and I can think of no one who deserves that award more than you. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

January 101 update

For January, I said I would:
  • go to the symphony! 
  • run one mile without stopping
  • read another four books
  • donate 20K+ grains of rice

Now let's take a look at the progress I made!
  • used $4 in coupons
  • answered twenty-one more questions
  • I went to the symphony! Woohoo! That's 29 goals down, now!
  • read two books! 
  • paid on those student loans. (yay!)
  • donated some rice

I didn't donate as much as I said I would, or read all that I thought I would, but again - I'm happy with what I accomplished! I crossed off one goal this month, which might not be much (and certainly won't put me at 75% completion by December!), but it's more than I had done a month prior, so I'm happy. 

For February, I would like to:
  • read four books
  • watch one old movie
  • complete one scrapbooking page
  • send out something special for a friend
  • bring my rice total to 400,000 grain donated (donate 13K this month)

Woohoo! We'll see what we can get done. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

365 questions: 281 - 291

281. Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

My parents. They raised me with the intention of shaping me into a respectable adult. For the most part, they've succeeded. 

282. Are you happy with where you are in your life?  Why?

Mostly, yes. I sometimes wish I had more to show for where I'm at, but I'm working toward that goal! 

283. In one year from today, how do you think your life will be different?

I will be a land-owner, and I will no longer be working at a job I loathe. 

284. How have you sabotaged yourself in the past five years?

I've switched my major yet again. (and again, and again.) I spent all my money in Europe because I planned poorly. And I have not seen the detriment that my communication habits truly were. 

285. Other than money, what else have you gained from your current job?

I have gained knowledge, experience, and coworkers that consider me family. 

286. Whom do you secretly envy?  Why?

Anyone who has their shit together more than I do. Sometimes I look back on my mom at my age, and think - she was married by the time she was 24. My parents had been millionaires, built their own home from the ground up, moved out of state, and started over - all by the time my mom was nearly 25. I feel like I should have experienced so much more by now, and I am envious of all my friends from high school who are no older than I, but are in such a different place in life. 

287. In twenty years, what do you want to remember?

I want to remember that, in the year I turned 25, I was happy, and people were proud of me. 

288. What are you most excited about in your life right now – today?

Um, I'm excited that I get paid on Friday and can pay down my credit card, since I used it too much last month. I'm excited that yesterday, I talked to my first loan officer. I'm excited to read the book he gave me, and I'm excited that I got two awesome messages offering work modeling yesterday. 

289. What experience from this past year do you appreciate the most?

Not so much an experience, but a realization - that I was sabotaging my relationships because of a fatal communication mistake. I'm so glad I realized that, so I can vow never to repeat it. 

290. What is the most enjoyable thing your family has done together in the last three years?

My little sister got married last month, and we had a good time. Other than that, one of my favorite memories is when Kyle and I took my mom to Sedona around Christmas, 2010. 

It was super cold, and I was not impressed.

291. How many hours of television do you watch in a week?  A month?  A year?

Conventional television? None whatsoever. I gave away my tv. Sometimes when I go to the gym (which is very rarely), I'll watch the cooking channel, or something moderately interesting. But I would say less than 20 hours of tv per year, overall. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Commitment: What does it mean to you?

I was driving down the road this morning when I had an 'aha!' moment about commitment. I had been thinking about different definitions and examples of commitment, and how problems can arise when you commit to something, but you're not on the same page as whomever you made that commitment to.

When I commit myself to my goals, I pick and choose. I don't deeply commit to everything, because then I'd be overwhelmed. But when I find a worthy goal of pouring my heart and soul into, I do it. Using the bed & breakfast as an example, I'm so committed I have already started purchasing art for my home... when I don't even have the land or the architect yet! I have been monitoring my credit for the last year, checking my score periodically and working to improve it. Lately, I've had any changes to my report/score sent to my email immediately, because I'm looking at purchasing soon, and updates are a much more pressing concern now.

As an example of a goal I haven't completely committed to, let's use my weight loss goal. I want to achieve my goal weight this year, which is about five pounds down from where I'm at currently. So far this year, I've attended one or two yoga classes, and not done anything else remotely resembling exercise. It is an important goal to me, but not one I'm putting the energy toward quite yet.

When I commit to doing something for someone else, the same rules apply. I keep secrets, I follow-through, and I show up when I say I will. When I commit, I keep those promises.

When I commit to a partner, I'm there. Body, mind, heart, soul - all that. A relationship commitment means that you are important to me and if I don't show you that every day, then I am failing. A relationship commitment is a commitment to meet your partner's needs, to constantly aim for growth, and to strive to make them happy - not just a commitment to keep your hands to yourself.

Thinking back over my dating experiences, I can see where my definition of commitment has varied from that of the men I've dated. I had one man who, after two dates with me, sent a text message to ask if I was interested in a relationship with him. To discuss commitment in such a casual way indicates that he has a different definition there than I do. I had another gentleman friend who tried to woo me with gifts - including a large tv - but wasn't committed to meeting my need for open, honest conversation. I therefore chose not to commit to him. Yet another suitor indicated a desire for a relationship with me, but sent all my calls to voicemail until he was in bed for the evening, because he wasn't ready to truly commit and tell his friends and roommates he was seeing someone.

Commitment. It's something to be done loudly and proudly. Commitment is an honorable thing. It's also important to make sure you know how your definition of commitment relates to that of your conversation partner. As my wise daddy always told me, "Agreements prevent disagreements."


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm still a bookworm.

I love having days off - or days where I work minimally, as was the case today. I went to class, turned in my first homework assignment (and had my first quiz!), had a tutoring session with Amy, and then had the rest of the day to myself.

And, as is the case usually when I have the afternoon free, I read. I finished two books today, in fact!

Something I've always struggled with, but perhaps more in the last few years, is watching parents display love for their children that I feel is conditional, or misplaced, or judging, or in some way harmful. I have always heard/read/been taught that the love between a parent and a child is the purest form of love that exists. However, not being a parent myself, it's hard for me to weigh in. Even if I were, it's almost never my place to say anything when I'm observing a situation like the one I mentioned, and when it is, my feedback generally wouldn't be well received.

One of the books I read today was a collection of essays written by parents of transgender children. Reading of their heartbreak, struggles, and yet (usually) unconditional love was so moving. There are many things that a parent would likely struggle with when raising a child, but none that are so life-changing for both parties as coming-out as transgender. For the more religious and conservative families, many of the parents question their parenting abilities and where they "went wrong." Yet the overwhelming theme in these essays was the happiness of their child, not the parents' individual stance on morality.
I had this beautiful baby given to me, and my one and only wish was for his happiness.             - Debi Russell

I have often wondered if I had a child who came out as gender-nonconforming or gay, how I would respond. I would certainly like to think it wouldn't bother me in the slightest. I have a lesbian aunt, several close gender-nonconforming friends, and queer customers I interact with on a nearly-daily basis. However, I think my conservative upbringing would lead me to react poorly at first.

It was so heart-warming to read that it's okay to not always say the right thing. That, even though your heart is in the right place and your love for your child is evident, you'll sometimes make mistakes along the way. The most important person in that relationship is not you; it is your child.
We signed up as parents to be the best guides for him that we can be, not for us, but for him.   - Cheryl Kilodavis

This book just reinforced everything I've been reading lately about love. I've really been struggling with the position I see from a lot of fundamental Christians, which is love within the constraints of their moral position and "guidance" if your actions are outside of their moral comfort zone, which doesn't typically look very loving.

So anyway, all that to say the book Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle, and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children is fabulous. It gives some beautiful examples of love if you need a pick-me-up, and allows for a glimpse into a world you probably wouldn't otherwise view.

Enjoy! xo

Friday, January 11, 2013

365 questions: 271 - 280!

271. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?

Fear of failure has stopped me from a lot, probably. I'm fairly impulsive, but I always err on the side of caution. I'm afraid of taking risks and being embarrassed by the result. 

272. Who would you like to please the most?

I know that I am most important. I should care most about pleasing myself. But I think my answer here would have to be my dad. His acceptance and approval has always been important to me - perhaps because we are so incredibly alike. 

273. If you could go back in time and change things, what would you change about the week that just passed?

Not a thing. I had an amazing week. I had a breakfast date with a man who makes my heart happy, and was snuggled to sleep most nights. I accepted a new tutoring client, and met with another new client for the first time. I had an amazing opportunity presented to me. I'm more than happy with the week that just passed. 

274. When you meet someone for the very first time what do you want them to think about you?

Perhaps the insecure and yet still vain part of me wants them to think I am beautiful. But mostly I want them to think I am intelligent, kind, and wonderful. 

275. Who would you like to forgive?

There's really only one person I've had a hard time forgiving, and I don't waste any time on her anymore. So no one, really. I have current frustrations, but I don't trouble myself with old grudges. 

276. At what point during the last five years have you felt lost and alone?

I actually sent my best friend a text message a few years ago that said exactly that - "I have never felt so lonely." September, 2010. 

277. What is one opportunity you believe you missed out on when you were younger?

I don't really know that I missed out on a whole lot. I was pretty blessed in that I didn't want for much when I was growing up. I had piano lessons with the best teachers around, I traveled to Europe with my competitive choir, and I received the best education available. 

278. What do you want more of in your life?

Relaxation. That would require a little more money. 

279. What do you want less of in your life?

Stress, for sure. And less of the job I really dislike. 

280. Who depends on you?

No one, really. My coworkers, for knowledge on occasion. My bird, because she would die out of her cage. But I don't have anyone depending on me for care. I don't have kids. I live alone. While Kyle relies on me to meet many of his needs, he would be just fine on his own, too. And I kinda like it this way. I can make decisions that might affect others, but won't be life-changing for anyone else. 

Exciting things might be happening.

I have a super-fabulous coworker who is semi-retired. He decided he wanted a "fun" job, so he's working in wine.

Well apparently there's been talk of him accepting a job offer back in California, and it's everything he wants it to be - making 10x what he does where we're at now, super close to their grandbaby, back doing what he's done forever.......... and he mentioned taking me with him. He needs an analyst. I'm the perfect candidate. I have amazing customer service skills, client-relationship-building abilities, tons of experience in Powerpoint and Excel (what college student nowadays doesn't?), and I have a math background.

Did I mention it would start at six figures?

He will have made his decision on the formal offer in three weeks. I don't know when he's wanting me out there, but I'm hoping to finish up this semester first.

The Court of Masters has an introductory sommelier course in San Fran in mid-February. If things are more serious, I'm thinking I might go out there for a few days, take the course, and scope things out.

If I do this right, even if I don't move out there until June, I could have my Alaska student loans completely paid off by the end of this year. That kind of income would qualify me for a mortgage close to $500K, which opens up a lot more possibilities than I originally thought.

This might be my face currently.
I'm trying not to get too excited, but quite frankly, I'm thrilled out of my mind right now. This is a whole new world of possibilities. Land in a good spot in Sedona. Student loans paid off. Loan to Dad paid completely. Credit cards paid off. I would have a normal-person 8 to 5 job, and have weekends off. I could afford to go on vacation. I would be able to afford all those things on my 101-list I desperately want to do. I would be much closer to the "wine scene," and increase my knowledge - potentially landing a lucrative part-time job in wine. Potential business trips to other countries and continents. Huge opportunity for growth. I would have a manager I ADORE rather than one I loathe. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop and the downsides to appear.

One of my tutoring clients told me today that I'm not allowed to leave until May 14th, because that's the date of her final. I forgot how much I miss good, real appreciation at work until recently.

I'm crossing all my fingers and all my toes for the next month.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A day of rest.

In the last seventeen days, I have had one day off - Christmas Day. In that time, I have worked over 135 hours at my regular job, and worked more than 15 hours with tutoring clients. 150 hours in the last seventeen days.

I'm ready for a break.

Tomorrow, I have no tutoring clients. I don't have to go into work. I am taking a whole day for myself - sleeping in, going to yoga, cleaning my house, reading one of the (ten) new books I got at the library today, and going out to dinner. I have a million and one errands I need to run and things I need to do since I haven't had the chance lately, but those can wait.

Tomorrow, I'm following my goals this year and loving myself. I'm going to study for my TWP exams at work, because I could use the cash to pay down my student loans and up my chances for a better home loan rate. I'm going to clean my house, because it is overwhelming to come home after a long day's work to clutter. I'm going to sleep in, and read, and go to yoga because those are all things I enjoy, and I never get to do anymore.

Maybe I'll even cook. Or vacuum. Or get the paperwork completed that I need to do. But I'm not going to worry about any of those things because I come first. Not my tasks or responsibilities, but taking care of my health and emotions. And quite frankly, I need to be coddled.

Don't forget to take a "me day" every once in a while! Don't neglect the most important person in your life.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

December 101 update

For December, I said I would:

  • run 1 mile without stopping
  • get down to 130 lbs.
  • watch the Aurora Borealis
  • read four books
I crossed off two of 'em! My scale couldn't make up its mind today between 129.8 and 130.0, but either way, there was my weight goal. And I finished exactly four books, so there's another one down! 

I also made the following progress:
  • used $3 in coupons
  • finished four books! 
  • donated more rice
  • paid more in student loans
  • answered ten more questions!

I didn't complete any goals this month, but that's okay by me. I didn't have a whole lot of time between the little sister's wedding and working upwards of 60 hours some weeks. 

For January, I will:
  • go to the symphony! 
  • run one mile without stopping
  • read another four books
  • donate 20K+ grains of rice
I'm starting back to school, which means I'm cutting my hours back at work and going to need more time to focus on me. I think those goals are a good start. And while I'd love to spend all day on FreeRice catching up since I'm so far behind, my ancient computer makes that a struggle. My $3400 tuition bill due next Tuesday makes buying a new laptop a problem, so donating the rest of my rice is going to take a while. 

In late January or early February, I also plan on hosting a wine dinner for my coworkers! I am super excited about it, but don't want to make a goal for that to happen this month and then be disappointed in yet another goal not crossed off. 

I also have some little surprises in store for a few friends I haven't talked to in ages, and hopefully those will be going out this month! Again, I don't want to set myself up for failure, but I know I'll make progress on more than just what I set out to accomplish this month. 

I'm getting there!