Taking Care of Debt By Taking Care of Myself

As shared in my previous post, my goal for 2018 is to be debt free by December 1. Throughout the year I will be focusing not only on financial freedom, but also overall wellness. Taking care of myself will help me achieve my goals in a healthy way.

I am mindful of my health this year, since I want to put money toward debt rather than emergency expenses. As such, for the month of January I am working on developing routines to help keep my body healthy.

I have been doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene via her YouTube channel, and after January I am planning to continue a consistent yoga practice several times per week. It is not only great for improving the body’s strength and flexibility, but also for calming and focusing the mind. I don’t love working out, but yoga takes the focus away from working out and instead directs it to being well overall.

This winter, I am developing a nightly routine of making tea (it’s actually a concoction of cinnamon, honey, and hot water). These ingredients are loaded with antioxidants that help fight bacteria to keep the body healthy. I’m finding it helpful during the cold months. Plus it’s also a cozy way to end the day.

After tea, I do oil-pulling with coconut oil to enhance my dental health. Recently I began noticing some sensitivity in my gums, but the oil pulling has helped clear out any bacteria as well as eliminate the discomfort.

Before going to sleep at night, I wind down by doing a bit of reading. I’m aiming to read 15 books this year, and I keep track using the GoodReads app. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve discovered some interesting books. Reading helps keep my mind alive.

I still have trouble sleeping sometimes. I used to struggle with really bad insomnia, and I still awaken several times at night, but I am thankfully able to go back to sleep. I use a sleep-tracker app to help maintain an awareness of how I’m doing, and I will say that having a daily and nightly routine has helped tremendously.

As I start the morning, I usually drink hot water. I don’t have much desire for coffee or tea, but it is a welcome treat on occasion. I really do love the warmth of hot water in the cold weather. It helps me ease me awake as I begin working.

I’ve discovered that developing healthy routines has helped nurture a spirit of contentment in my being. And while I’m ambitious about the future, I’m also learning to become one with the moment I’m in. And it’s even okay if my plans or goals change, because I’m satisfied with the now. It’s all I’ve got, and I’m loving it.

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Creating an Ideal Day

I often think of things I wish I could accomplish in a given day if I could only muster the motivation to do them. Sometimes they are even things I enjoy doing but haven’t developed the discipline for turning them into regular habits. Therefore, I have decided to list tasks I would love to accomplish in my ideal day:

  • Write in my blog/practice writing in general
  • Read 50 pages or so in any given book
  • Devote time to a yoga practice
  • Practice harp/work on reading music
  • Draw
  • Work on quilt or some craft project
  • Write to a friend
  • Create (bake) something in the kitchen
  • Practice singing
  • Clean/organize something around the house
  • Devote time to spiritual reflection/reading/prayer
  • Bask in sunshine

Last year I had made a list of goals (resolutions, perhaps) which I did not accomplish in 12 months time, other than reading 15 books and cleaning out my car (for I had to get rid of it). This year I want to focus on furthering my self care routines. Since one of the most common New Year’s resolutions this year is to “become a better person,” which is ridiculously vague, I have decided to create my own goals to strive for and grow into.

My list above is not one I can realistically expect to complete daily; however, it helps to outline my ideal day. Because of this, I have something tangible to work toward in making every day an ideal day, whether I complete the list or not.

 

 

Why Spring Is My Favorite Season

Many people’s favorite season is autumn – that relief after the mid-year humidity, the release into a free flowing breeze carrying a hint of winter, yet with the fading warmth of the summer sun. For awhile, I thought autumn was my favorite season too. What’s not to like about comfy sweaters? Crunchy leaves? Apple cider and hayrides? But more recently, my spirit has begun to grow with a new perspective.

I still love fall. I love the balance between the warmth and the chill, the anticipation of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Fall is my mom’s favorite season. And I think my growing need to become independent of her, to become my own person, has resulted in a need to detach from my love for autumn. Perhaps it’s silly, but it’s just something I need to do in this stage of life.

Maybe it’s because my birthday is in the spring, but nothing invigorates me like the smell of wet earth, the sight of plants pushing through soil to greet the new sun. With the promise of fresh warmth on the wind, life emerges everywhere. I trade puffy coats for sweatshirts as I greet the morning with blissful abandon, allowing the early rays to engulf my body and awaken my soul.

In the midst of these thoughts, I beckon you to join me in the joy of nature’s nourishment. Breathe deeply, and drink the delight of the world around you. 

I, Songwriter

I thought I wanted to be a songwriter until I realized what went into writing a good, popular song.

As a child, I grew up in a religious (and sheltered) home, so I patterned some of my first songs after hymns, which could have up to seven verses. Not until I was older did I realize most songs have only two verses, because that’s all that can fit into a song most people will listen to.

As I wrote more, I became more creative with beats and instrumentation, but my songs were still overtly religious. The famous saying goes, “Write what you know,” and that really was all I knew. But my musical tastes began to change, and I listened to more mainstream music. My eyes opened to a vast world waiting to be explored. I had had no idea just how big and diverse the world was until I entered college.

A lot of songs you hear these days revolve around love, breakups, sex, and going to clubs, among other experiences, many of which I have never encountered. I have learned much just by listening to songs many deem shallow or cheesy. Songwriters will say they write from their experiences, and people relate to them. I desire to relate, not because I want to be just another crowd-follower, but because I want to understand the people around me. I want to understand what public school was like, how young people learned about the world around them, how they experienced pop culture.

I cannot write mainstream music because I do not have mainstream life experience – whatever that is. I have been in love before, but I have never had a boyfriend, or gone to a club. Not that these are the only things I need to do to “fit in,” but I still feel very naive about the world. I yearn to grasp the way people interact with each other, what they do on weekends, how they have fun, what gives them meaning. Every person is different, but some life experiences are more common than others.

My lack of common experience limits my ability to write catchy songs. I am not denying that I have something of value to offer the world, I just haven’t figured out what that is and how to do it yet.

Dear Baby Boomers

I know the title is very specific, but I am writing this for anyone who is learning about the internet, especially those of the baby boomer generation and older (although younger people can benefit as well).

Before I begin, please do not interpret this as me talking down to you. That is not my aim at all. This is coming from a genuine concern for those who may be less familiar with the internet and what mysteries lie throughout. Listed below are certain elements that can be dangerous or destructive. People could spend weeks writing adding to and elaborating on this list, but these are just a handful that come to my mind.

Phishing
Many of you may already be familiar with this. Phishing is basically attempted theft of your money or personal information. Common examples of this include emails from people claiming to be from a foreign country in dire need of help, those who say they have recently had a death in the family and need someone to help with the inheritance money, or websites that shout, “You’ve Won!” in flashy advertisements. Ignore all of these, because they are not genuine. They are simply trying to steal your personal information (email, bank account info, etc).

Trolling
The definition of an internet troll is a very specific one. If someone is a troll, they post radical or nasty comments for the sake of starting an argument online. These comments may or may not include truth in them, but ultimately the purpose is to elicit a response from people. For example: if I were to say, “You are going to hell because you drank a glass of wine,” somewhere on the internet, no doubt my comment may be met with intense debate on religious practices, the existence of hell, or the effects of drinking a glass of wine. If someone accuses you of being a troll on the internet, it doesn’t matter how genuinely you believe in what you are saying; others are seeing it as an attempt to ruffle feathers for no reason. Arguments involving trolling are never productive because they only result in infuriated people instead of intelligent discussion.

Revenge Porn
You decide to take provocative pictures of yourself to send your significant other. Some time later, the two of you break up, ending the relationship on bad terms. Your partner is angry and posts your revealing photos online for others to ogle at and make perverted or degrading comments about your body.

Kidnapping
You are babysitting your young granddaughter and you post a picture of her from your phone to Facebook with the caption, “Look at this little angel I get to see every week.” Meanwhile, the location services are enabled on your phone, meaning you may have accidentally also posted your address (location services allow you to use the gps on your phone, and location services on Facebook allow you to tell others where you are). A pedophile uses his tricks to get past your privacy settings and see exactly where you live and when you posted the photo. With this information, he begins spying on your house and learns when your granddaughter comes to visit. One moment she will be playing in the yard, and the next moment she will be gone.

Cyber Bullying
This tends to be more common among the younger generations. You may have known the kid that people teased at the playground, but this is much worse. Complete strangers will call someone fat, ugly, or other hateful names. Some will go as far as to suggest that the victim should kill him/herself because they don’t deserve to exist. And sometimes the victim will kill him/herself after becoming overwhelmed with the abuse.

Fake News
There are countless news websites that are purely satirical and should not be taken seriously. The Onion is a classic example, and they declare on their website that the information they post is satirical. Occasionally you will come across articles from unfamiliar websites that may or may not contain accurate information. It is always important to fact check before becoming outraged about a certain issue that does not even exist. A quick Google search can often resolve the question, although sometimes the answer is more challenging to find. This is why you must take anything you watch or read with a grain of salt until you are sure you can trust the source.

Hopefully you find this list helpful. My knowledge on this subject is very limited, but I have seen multiple examples of some of the above situations that can be remedied with a little extra caution and discernment.

Exposed Soul

The summer is coming to an end, but it will still be awhile before cooler weather sets in.  I remember last summer feeling like I was seeing a lot of posts about modesty, but this summer I don’t recall seeing as many.

This is not going to be another post on how women should/should not cover up; there are plenty of those on the internet. What this is about is some thoughts I have on clothing from a slightly different perspective.

I wish we could all walk around naked without being judged, but that is not socially or legally acceptable in 2015. But I wonder if our focus should be less on exposed skin and more on an exposed soul.

Let me explain. Any form of exposure requires a degree of vulnerability. Some people are completely comfortable showing skin, while others are more comfortable sharing personal stories or emotional experiences. Some are fine with both or neither. Could the two be related? Could it be that the more skin I expose, the less comfortable I feel revealing my soul? Or is it that the more I cover up, the more insecure I am about how people would react if they knew the true me?

Even in the famous story of Adam and Eve, the two of them walked around naked and were completely vulnerable in all aspects. After the Fall, they covered up, not only physically, but perhaps emotionally as well.

I tend to show more skin than many of my conservative friends may be comfortable with, so I am not going to shun you based on how much or how little you cover up. What interests me more is the core of a human being: who she really is beneath the masks of social constraints.  What are you struggling with that you’re afraid to tell anyone? What are you covering up that is keeping you from being healthy? That is what matters to me.

Theatre and the Internal Battle

Recently I have attended live theatre and loved it. Straight plays especially I am seeing these days contain challenging subject matter that beckons the audience to ask difficult questions. I love it when the art of live theatre serves a purpose in enriching people’s lives. However, recently I have discovered the changes in my taste for entertainment.

As many who know me are aware, I am passionate about emotional and mental health, especially my own. I have spent hours analyzing my emotions, habits, lifestyle, and childhood to determine why I think and feel certain ways, and how to improve those parts of my life that are unhealthy.

How does this affect my tastes for live theatre? I am realizing that the reason many shows are challenging is because the characters are not healthy. It is easy to see the unhealthy decisions of someone on a stage, but it is more difficult to identify those same issues in real life, which is what makes theatre so beautiful. An awareness or a call to attention of a character’s flaws creates a deeper awareness of our own flaws or the flaws of the world. This awareness in turn elicits a response from us, be it a call to action, or at least developing a unique perspective of an area in which one was previously oblivious.

The problem I have is that often I see elements of myself on stage played out in ways that do not allow for a resolution. At the conclusion of a given play, the audience is left to create their own resolution, their own determination to not turn out the way the characters might have. This can be a positive thing, especially if it motivates the audience to live healthier lives. Where I am in my own life, however, seeing dangerous life decisions played out onstage brings me pain because I am trying as hard as I can to avoid a similar fate.

In the midst of my daily anxieties, stressors, and irritants, during which I like to imagine the worst case scenario, I have thought that perhaps one day I will create short dramas to put on a stage to get them out of my head and out of my way in life. I think many people before me have already done that, as we hear stories of artists who lived tortured lives and wrote from dark places. It makes for great drama, because no one wants to watch a story in which everyone is perfectly happy the entire time. My hope is that the events I see onstage will not become a reality in my own life.

And so while I may need to take a break from live dramas to work on my own life, I hope one day I will learn to maintain a certain disconnect from people I watch in stories so as to enjoy them more.

Chronic Guilt

Of the many difficulties women tend to face, one that I particularly wrestle with daily is guilt. To quote a woman I once knew, “I came out of the womb apologizing.” Different women may struggle with this to different degrees, and some may not encounter it at all, but it is a very real thing, regardless if it all seems to be just in your head.

Regardless of how many times we tell ourselves that we don’t have anything to feel guilty about, that nagging feeling that we’re doing something wrong never fails to wheedle its way into our subconscious, contaminating even the most innocent of intentions. If I say such and such, it might come across wrong. But if I don’t say it, I’ll be wishing I did. Just recently, I was talking with a friend of mine about this, and we were surprised to discover that we both feel guilty spending money. Buying food is perfectly logical and necessary, but saving money is essential. Buying clothes that fit well is important, but we can survive without – no use wasting money. The problem with this mindset is that money in and of itself isn’t really worth anything, but is rather a tool that we can use to help us obtain what we need to survive, and perhaps even splurge on an occasional treat if circumstances allow.

No matter how many times I hear the saying, “Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, it’s an investment,” I still think that I am inconveniencing someone just by existing. So to all the women (and men), who battle with this, I want to tell you that you’re not alone. Let’s be friends, and then we’ll feel guilty together.

Tricky Transitions

Some of my readers may know that I started this blog a couple years ago when I was trying to figure out what to declare as my college major. Because writing helps me to sort out my thoughts, I was hoping that blogging would help me better understand my areas of interest and therefore better understand myself. While I eventually did declare a major that I ended up graduating with, I find myself in a familiar place of not knowing what I want to do with my life.

The time right after graduation was challenging. I was starting a new job, getting ready to move, and trying to figure out what friends were in the area and available to spend time with. Meanwhile, the need for a consistent budget haunted me day and night, as I was an emerging adult who was quickly becoming fully responsible for supporting herself. I would feel lonely, but then feel guilty because my circumstances were pretty decent, and I wasn’t suffering from a huge crisis. I say these things in past tense, but really I am still working through each element as I learn how to act grown up like so many before me.

Other young people I have talked to empathize with me as they remember how difficult their time of transition out of school/into independent adulthood was. It is comforting and validating to know that I am not alone in my struggles, but I wish there was more concrete advice to be given for those who find themselves in similar situations. As frustrating as it can be, however, there is no set formula for how to survive outside of school. Yes, community, budgeting, and hobbies are all worthy goals to pursue, but what do you do when you are pursuing those things and you still feel lonely and disinterested? The most common thing that I seem to hear is to just keep on keepin’ on. I guess that’s really all I can do, regardless of how fruitless the journey seems at the moment. I will figure it out eventually, but it is frustrating how the seemingly pettiest of challenges are often the trickiest to maneuver.

One Degree to Rule Them All

Summer 2013

I am neither a bachelor nor a scientist, but eventually I will be considered both, provided that I choose a path of study.

It’s tough for me to choose.

I enjoy a variety of activities. I don’t think I could stay sane if every day were exactly the same as the one before. Sometimes, however, it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that I’m supposed to go to college to to get one degree and then get one job for the rest of my life. Yuck! (I know that’s not true, of course)

Don’t get me wrong. I love college. What I don’t love is that you can only choose one or two majors at a time, unless of course you intend to stay there for more than four years. If you plan to be in school for more than four years that’s awesome. Maybe I’ll end up doing that. I just wish sometimes that I could major in five different things at once. I would love to be half film major, half music major, half theater major, half physics/astronomy major, half wine-making major, and while I’m at it, half math major (although I clearly need to work on my math skills). I find that I might enjoy taking certain music classes, for example, but I don’t want to take all the classes required for a music major because I’m not interested in all those classes.

I realize that the key is to never stop learning, even after graduation. I don’t think I’ll be getting half a dozen degrees, but I do plan to take classes even after I’m “done” college.

And I suppose it is nice to be able to walk into an interview and say “Having this specific degree shows that I’ve had certain training in this area.” Although at this point I don’t even know where I would go to be interviewed.

That’s the tough part. Indecisiveness. I’m fine with not knowing what the future holds, but it’s frustrating to not be able to decide what to major in, even if I don’t work in that field for the rest of my life.