Do-over!

Well, the previous format wasn’t working for me. Improving yourself is great and all, but I’d like this to be more than a straight-forward self-improvement blog, and I wasn’t doing it well. In fact, I wasn’t doing it at all – I let it languish for 5 months. Yikes.

Maybe blogging isn’t for me. When it comes down to it, maybe I’m too private. At a minimum, I don’t really think I’m that interesting. I get up, let out the puppy (oh yeah, we got a dog!), go to work, come home, laze around, and go to bed. This is hardly fascinating stuff. I have a lot of interests – cooking, travel, fashion, home decorating, and what not, but nothing on which I can speak as an expert.

There are so many things I’d like to do in my life. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but unfortunately, if you don’t like the turns it takes, there are no do-overs. You can’t go back to where you left off and try a different path or ending. You can make changes and try to make life more of what you want it to be, though. There may be some time in between where you stall, or get stuck in a rut, or flounder a bit, but there are always ways to change. That’s what I think I need.

 

This seems strange

It feels a little odd for me to be putting all of this out on the interwebs for anyone to see. Granted, I don’t think a lot of people are just wandering by, poking their metaphorical heads in to see what’s going on. I’m not a hugely private person, in person with my friends and family I’m pretty darn open, yet it still seems strange to be so public.

It’s probably why some of my posts are a little wordy and uptight. I can’t quite let all the wacky, weird, and wonderful out yet. It’s like we’re dating, dear reader, I need to put my best foot forward. But in every relationship, you reach a point where you let some of your personal brand of crazy be seen, so here it goes:

A Few Fun Facts:

1. I was not born in Cincinnati, but in the home of Graceland and BBQ – Memphis, TN. Maybe it’s why I like Elvis and pulled pork so much.

2. My hubby and I met because we had each dated the other’s friend. Strangely enough, we are all still friends and hang out on a pretty regular basis. Our former partners did not end up together, which I am very grateful for since my friend would have murdered my ex by now.

3. I sing. A lot. As in all the time. I’ve done it since I was a baby – there are recordings of me singing myself to sleep. I sing in the car, at home, in a choir, and (when I’m concentrating on something) at work. I sing from operas, The Beatles, Britney Spears, and I sing them all with gusto.

4. I love to cook and bake. I like to watch Food Network and the Cooking Channel. As part of my domestic work and healthier eating, I’ve been cooking at home a lot more lately, and it’s been a great way for me to decompress after work. The baking is not so great for the weight loss effort, so I like to take treats into work.

5. There is a running history of mental illness in my family that can be traced back 5 generations. Typically, it strikes the women with bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic-depression). My sister lives with it, and with medication, has a full and productive life. I myself have been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was about 16, with varying degrees of success.

6. I am a Pinterest addict. One day, if I decide to give my full, real name and let this blog become public knowledge to my friends and family (beyond one friend and my hubby), I will link to my Pinterest so you can see my crazy in fuller detail.

So, shall we plan our next date?

Goals Update – debt

So, as you’ll remember from back here, I’m working on a few goals. I’ve had some success – my cleaning schedule is created and implemented. My house is pretty. :)

I’ve had a fairly big setback, though. One item that is particularly touchy between my hubby and myself is my occasional bad habit of having credit card debt. Money is a major issue in relationships, and is one of the top 3 causes for divorce in America. Since I don’t want our marriage to go that way, it’s something I’ve been trying to get under control.

I had been doing very well, using my cards to keep my accounts current, and paying off the balance every month. Unfortunately, in late May, some major expenses started rolling in – 2 weddings, 2 bachelorette weekends, 1 shower, time off work, travel costs, and all the small expenses that go along with such, plus the 6 month renewal of our car insurance. Added up, that’s about $3500 in 4.5 months. I don’t make THAT much money at my job, so most of the expenses went on the credit card, with the intention to pay it off. However, with that much spent that quickly, it snowballed till now the balance is at $3300, up from when I even wrote my goal of being paid off by Christmas.

Sadly, this will mean my credit card won’t be paid off till nearly April, 2014. It is incredibly disheartening. I don’t regret any of the things I paid for – being part of the weddings of my sister and my best friend are once in a lifetime events – but the cost of those events are clear. There are many other projects I’d hoped to complete this year, and several purchases I was hoping to make. They are now not to be, at least not till April. I know my hubby is disappointed in me, and now the starting line of trying for kids might be pushed back farther, too.

Credit card debt is stupid, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Friday Night

My hubby has a side gig that takes him out of town on the weekends here and there. He was gone Friday night, so how did I celebrate my night of singledom? Night out dancing with my girlfriends? Treating myself to a massage? Ha! See the following text conversation between my best friend, Lin, and myself:

Me: My cats are judging me. I’m dancing around my kitchen to salsa music, in my pjs, making Rice Krispy treats, while drinking wine.
Her: Why wasn’t I invited?

This is why I love my friends.

Marriage and Chores

I got a little behind in my posting this last week or so, but it was for a great reason: my best friend got married!

My friend Lin, who has been my best friend for more than half my life, wed her husband in Miami on Sunday, 9/29. She was the most beautiful bride, and her ceremony and reception were lovely. I was incredibly proud to stand with her as her matron of honor. I nearly cried during her ceremony, and definitely cried during my toast. I am so happy for her, and hope her marriage is even more beautiful than her wedding day.

The first year or so of marriage can be so tricky – dividing chores, working out the bills, learning to live with each others quirks, and more. Even if you live together first (I did, and so did Lin and her husband), somewhere, in the back of your mind, is the thought that if it doesn’t work out, you can always leave. Not so easy with marriage. His dirty socks may be the bane of your existence, and your forgetfulness with the laundry may drive him nuts. Working out who does what, when, and how can take some real negotiating.

I’ve been married 4.5 years, and we’re still working things out – hence the need for me to create a cleaning schedule. I set the deadline as 10/7, so I’ve only got 2 days left. I’ve done the obvious, and searched Pinterest. My first thoughts on seeing most of the cleaning/chore schedules there were: who has that much time? People run the dishwasher/take out the trash/do laundry every night?  Then I realized most of these schedules were written for and by stay at home moms, with husbands, children, and the difficult job of keeping the household running smoothly. No, I’m not being sarcastic – it’s work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Obviously, these pre-made schedules don’t work for me – I work full time, and with my commute and typically away from the house at least 10 hours a day. Also without children, my housework load is lighter with just 2 people, at least in theory, except that I’m married to Hurricane William. In any case, I found a few good ones that I think I can adapt to my uses. What will the schedule look like? Stay tuned.

Goals

Anytime you want to make a change, you’re supposed to make goals, right? The acronym I hear over and over in meetings is for SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (or Timely, depending on who’s in charge). If I really want to change, I’ll need to set some goals.

This is not to say that I haven’t tried improving some aspects of my life before, because I have, to some success. Like anything in life, though, what we don’t use or practice on a daily basis can atrophy or gather dust, so falling back into bad habits is all too easy. Part of keeping this blog is to keep myself accountable, and for you to help keep me accountable, to keep striving to meet my goals.

Let’s lay these goals out, shall we?

Goal 1: Lose Weight – Get to 191 pounds by 12/2/13

I’m going to try baby steps with this, instead of looking at the whole 50-ish pounds – it’s less overwhelming that way. The first step will be to get to 191 pounds, which for my 5′ 7″ height means just overweight not obese (eep!). This is a loss of about 14 pounds according to my bathroom scale, which I’ll just have to trust for now. I’ll aim to lose about 1.5 pounds per week, which is what most weight loss programs deem a reasonable pace. That means I’ll have about 9 weeks, or till November 25th to reach my goal, but with Halloween and Thanksgiving in there, I think I’ll give myself 10 weeks, or till December 2nd. That’s much more realistic. 

Goal 2: Be More Active – 150 minutes of exercise a week by 11/18/13

As I said in my last post, I’m pretty much the definition of a couch potato. I hate sweating. No really, I HATE sweating. Exercise I can actually stand include swimming, riding a bicycle, walking, and some basic body weight exercises. I don’t have access to a pool, but I got a bicycle for my birthday from my awesome dad, my neighborhood has sidewalks and is well lit for walking, and I have a yoga mat and some free weights. Again, I’m starting small – I’d like to build up to 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is 30 minutes 5 days a week, or 25 minutes 6 days a week. Since I’m starting at zero, I’ll give myself 8 weeks to get to 5 times a week: 2 weeks at 1x/week, 2 weeks at 2x/week, 2 weeks at 3x/week, and 2 weeks at 4x/week. 8 weeks from now is November 18th.

Goal 3: Improve Finances – Pay off Credit Card by 12/25/13

I have had problems on and off with credit card debt. At it’s worst, I had $10,000 in debt, and had to take money from my parents to pay it off. The sense of disappointment from them was far, far worse than the pain of scrimping to be able to pay them back. Now, I feel like a disappointment to my husband when I carry a credit card balance. Two weddings in one season, with the accompanying dresses, shoes, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, gifts, and travel to both (out of town) weddings, I’m in the hole. At about $2000 It’s nowhere near my card limits, but it’s enough that I feel the weight of it in the back of my mind when I want to buy something. So, the goal here is pretty simple – pay off the balance before Christmas. Completely achievable, as long as I don’t splurge on anything crazy.

Goal 4: Improve Domesticity – Develop a Cleaning Schedule by 10/7/13

I’m no Mrs. Cleaver or Donna Reed -far, far, far from it. It takes an act of God, aka my in-laws coming over, to get me to dust. I can handle the doing the dishes, and keeping up with the laundry, but beyond that, I’m pretty terrible. The crazy thing here is, I feel so much calmer and happier when my house is clean, and I know it. So, how to set a SMART goal to be a better housekeeper? Hmmm, the best I have for now would be to develop and implement a cleaning schedule. The aim will be to have the plan formulated within 2 weeks, or October 7th. I’ll revisit then to figure out what the heck to do next.

Goal 5: Find a Creative Outlet – Devote One Hour a Week to Creativity by 10/31/13

Ok, somewhere in my crazy brain, I feel like there is a creative spirit trying to break out. I’m attempting to appease it my decorating my home – we’ve only been there a year and have no pictures hanging, no curtains, etc. It’s not working very well – did you know decorating a home is kind of expensive? I’ve already explained how not-good I am with money, so it’s going to take me a while to make that happen. In the meantime, I’d like to devote some time each week to a creative project. I make jewelry as a hobby, so maybe it’ll be making earrings. I’ve had a story bouncing around my head for years, so I could work on actually writing it down. I’ve always wanted to try painting – here’s a perfect excuse!  You see where I’m going with this.

Long, boring post over. Let’s get to work!

First Post Ever

As I was driving home from work one day, I saw a woman jogging in my neighborhood. This is not an unusual sight, we have sidewalks, and live in a decent area, but for some reason, on this day, I was struck. For a long time, I’d been envious of people who seemed to have it together: those who eat well, or who exercise regularly, or have their financial house in order. Those who have work/life balance, who take time to enjoy their passions, and seem to be so fully alive. On this day, it really hit me: why can’t I be more like that?

Now, I realize that I can’t possibly know what’s really happening in people lives, behind closed doors. I don’t know if that woman was jogging because she had a bad day at work, or used to struggle with her weight and runs to stay trim, or if she just really likes to jog. I do know, however, that there is no valid reason why I can’t be more like the person I aspire to be.

You may have seen this blog from Huffington Post floating around: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. While I am on the early side of Gen Y, this sense of entitlement is not what I mean. I don’t feel I automatically deserve a better life than I have. I know achievement takes time and effort, otherwise it’s not really an achievement. I do think most people carry with them an idealized version of themselves: the person they would like to be.

For me personally, I see myself healthy, active, financially responsible, a domestic goddess, and expressing my inner creativity. In real life, I’m a solid 50 pounds overweight, a total couch potato, in debt on my credit card (again), a terrible housekeeper, and completely blank anytime I attempt to be creative. So, I started this blog. I’m going to chronicle my efforts to become more like the person I envision. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be really hard for me. So, please follow along, and help cheer me on in my quest to evolve!