I can’t, I’m busy.

I can’t, I’m busy.

How many times have you said that very statement? Being busy, the hustle, have become so romanticized in our culture that it’s pretty much expected that everyone should be busy, all the time. If you have one job you are somehow seen as less than someone who works a regular 9-5 while maintaining a side hustle, has a hobby, volunteers, and spends time with their family and friends (occasionally). 

No longer is it acceptable to simply have a “regular” job. Millennials get a lot of flak of being lazy, entitled, and ruining chain restaurants. But most millennials I know are in fact kicking ass at not one, but often two or even three jobs. They are up at the crack of dawn to squeeze in a couple hours of their side gig before heading into their full-time job at 9am. Then after work they race to the gym to get in an hour of cardio, before heading back home to walk the dogs, inhale a plate of food, and get back to their side hustle for a few hours before bed. Just reading that is exhausting!

One of my best friends is a structural engineer. After work she spends hours a day in her home office working on commissioned art pieces. The deadlines never stop. And you know what? She is the norm these days!

If you aren’t trying to eek productivity out of every second of the day, does that mean you are lazy? Absolutely not! But that is the culture we currently live in. If you don’t have an Etsy shop, write a blog (hello!), or do wedding photo shoots on the weekends you are considered somehow less! But why!!?? Why have we come to glorify being busy? Why can’t we learn to appreciate the down time? 

I know personally, if I don’t get enough down time my anxiety acts up. I start to worry about all the things I have no control over. Whereas when I do take time for myself, I get more rest, feel comfortable with my work hours, and have the time and energy to make healthy yummy food to keep my body functioning! My dogs love snuggling up with me each evening to watch an episode of Parks and Rec. I live for those moments. 

So what happened? When did it become the norm to be so busy? I honestly don’t know. I remember being in elementary school and I had an activity, or two, every single day after school. Piano on Monday, Karate Tuesdays and Thursdays, volunteering Wednesdays, and swim on Fridays. I was expected to be busy as a kid! This is not something new, this is something we were taught from a very young age. 

But I do believe that it’s a trend we need to stop. Our health is more important. Our lives are more important. Take the time to prepare a meal with your family, then share stories from your day while eating. Don’t book that extra shift. Sleep in a little! Go to happy hour with your colleagues and DON’T TALK SHOP. Call your mother. The ‘stuff’ will never go away. There is always the possibility to be busy. But maybe, don’t be. Slow down a little bit and savor your life without filling it to the brim. You might just enjoy it. 

Polar Vortex

I am in the midwest this week for work (shocking I know!) But what is shocking is HOW BLOODY COLD it is! Have you heard of the Polar Vortex yet? If you haven’t, I honestly envy you. You must not live/work in a place where it is currently more than zero degrees Fahrenheit. Kill me. Seriously. It’s too effing cold.

Some of my friends in Wisconsin can’t even let their pups out to potty because it’s too cold. Schools have been cancelled. Bars are closed. Let that sink in for just a minute. I am not, nor will I ever be, considered to be “hearty stock”. But those folks in Wisconsin certainly are! It really must be cold.

I grew up in San Diego. Have you ever been there? It’s a balmy 75 pretty much year round. Moving to Oregon has been a shock to my system. But almost 9 years in and I’m finally getting used to it. This business though, hells now. I travel frequently for work and I often find myself in the midwest for long periods of time. So of course it only seems fitting that I find myself here the coldest week this part of the country has seen in decades. Fun fact: 8 minutes outside can result in frostbite…….let that sink in. That’s crazy pants!! I am not built for this!

Any who, why do I bring this up? Because other than going to work I have been doing exactly nothing else during this cold situation. I hole up in my hotel room and watch tv. But you know what else I’m tempted to do? Order in food. Order in any and all the things. Because I’m cold, hungry and bored. And I know myself. It’s a slippery slope once I order groceries to hopping over to Amazon too see what’s on sale today.

So I don’t risk temptation. I sit in the hotel lobby with my friends and we talk about our dogs. We talk about what Netflix shows we are all currently binging at home. Who do we want to want the Super Bowl? It would be so easy for me to twiddle away the night on my laptop but boy would it cost me. I would so easily scoop up 2 pairs of socks, a bottle of wine, and maybe some tiramisu. But really, do I need those things? Maybe, probably not. And the $30 it would cost me, would certainly be best served in other ways.

But what’s the point of me telling you this? My point, dear readers, is to say that any kind of unpredictable situation can cause us to spend money unnecessarily. Running late? Spend money. Get snowed in? Spend money. Forgot your coffee/raincoat/workbook/galoshes at home? You see where I’m going with this? Preparation is key. Was I prepared for this weather? Eh. Kinda. I have warm winter clothing. But really, we don’t live in the North Pole, so none of us are actually prepared for how bitterly cold it is. How we deal with it, that’s another story.

Resolutions?

Do you set resolutions for yourself in the new year? I read something that said resolutions has the tone of needing to change something that is wrong about yourself. Like you resolve to be more active, because your current lifestyle is somehow wrong. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but I don’t really like that.

I personally like setting goals for myself. Goals are always engaging and changing, and they allow us to make slow progress while still celebrating accomplishments.

Each year I make a daily planner for myself, and I finally finished it yesterday. I included all the important birthdays of friends and family, highlighted important doctor’s visits etc. And on the first page of each month, I wrote “GOALS” so as to encourage myself to keep working towards those goals. Now, I have some big goals that I have at the very beginning. These are goals that I intend to work towards all year (pay off my credit cards, be more gentle with myself, etc). I also give myself some wiggle room. If I don’t tackle a specific goal this month, I realize I can always slide it to next month. nothing is set in stone.

January Goals

  • NO EATING OUT!! (there is some wiggle room here, for example going out with family to celebrate Mom’s birthday)
  • Get back into the swing of meal prepping/planning my meals for the week (I tend to go off script if I don’t have it written down. So though I may not have a specific meal for a specific day, I definitely have 4 meals plus leftovers planned for a given week.)
  • Finish cleaning out D’s house (I started helping a friend go through their house Marie Kondo style. We will finish this month I hope!)
  • Find a home for everything in our home (similar to the previous goal, I really want to make our home less cluttered. It’s not bad to begin with but I’m a crazy person what can I say?)
  • Get Holden’s lumpy bumps checked (this is a holiday gift from my parents as I can’t afford this right now. He has some masses that need to be biopsied asap)

So those are my January goals. Are they perfect? No. Many of them are a moving target. Organizing my house for example will always be on the list as it is a never ending project.

And how does this relate to frugality you might ask? Well, I find that if I am keeping myself accountable I am much more likely to stick to my goals. Two of my goals this month relate specifically to saving money. I spend WAY more money eating out than I need to, and it’s usually just a matter of convenience. If I had snacks on hand or meals to eat at home I wouldn’t be spending that money. I intend to get back on the horse this month and get back into my normal routine. I like cooking at home! So this won’t actually be too hard I hope. And because it’s the middle of winter I’m hoping most of my friends will also just want to stay home !

So that’s all I have for now, an update on my January Goals. Another one of my big goals for the year is to be better about blogging and keep up with it more regularly. I think I say that every few months, but I keep getting derailed. I will not be stopped! So check back soon for my January budgeting plan if you are so inclined. Happy New Year everyone!

An uneventful death

Ok don’t panic anyone, but I really think it’s wise to plan your own death. I’m not saying you have to start now if you are a healthy 20 something year old, but it certainly couldn’t hurt!

Do you have a will? Have you spoken to a lawyer? Does your family know your wishes? Did you know that in certain cultures it’s expected that individuals will have a hand in planning their deaths? Some write their own obituaries, clean out their closets, cancel mailings and credit cards, the list goes on. And really, I think it’s incredible.

Imagine giving your family the gift of not worrying. Not having to figure it all out and go into debt in the process. I think that’s an incredible thing to give anyone.

So where do you start? I think it’s important to discuss this situation with close family and friends. Not everyone is going to understand, that’s ok. Not everyone needs to get it. But explain that you are trying to be helpful and you’d like a say in the end of your life when you may not be in any position to have a say.

I think it just goes such a long way to talk to the people you love. They want the best for you, even at the end of life. And a little planning can go a long way to wards less pain, frustration, and cost less money. Which is the ultimate frugal choice, isn’t it?

When owning too much stuff, encourages you to own more stuff

Do you have “that pile” of paperwork, mail, and other miscellaneous things near your front door? Maybe on your kitchen counter, in the mud room, or on top of the microwave? Ours is on our bar counter (at the top of our stairs when you enter the house). It’s an easy place to drop the main, the receipts from my purse, the magazine I keep meaning to read.

……And there it all sits for an indefinite amount of time. Until weeks later, it gets tall enough that I go through it, throw most of it away, and always inevitably tell myself “I should really get a basket here to catch this stuff”.  So the question is: should be buy more stuff to organize our stuff? I have also heard this argument regarding storage totes and fancy boxes. Should we get pretty boxes to store our stuff? Or should we maybe get rid of some of the stuff? I vote for the latter.

Maybe, instead of organizing all the random crap in the closet, pull it all out and see what you really, actually need. Do I need that tennis racket from when I swore I was going to take up tennis lessons? (the answer is clearly no, I never took a single lesson!) Do I need 3 sets of sheets? When one set is “just the back up because I never really liked the pattern and they’re scratchy”? GET RID OF THE SHEETS!! We have too much crap!

I am not saying go full minimalist on me if that’s not your jam. But be mindful. Pick one area of your house, I recommend the junk drawer, and go through it. Decide what you really need. And get rid of what you don’t. You can donate it, trash it, re-home it, repurpose it. So many people would love to make good use of your excess stuff.

I recommend trying apps like Next Door or Rooster for these things. That way they can find their way into the hands of your neighbors who will actually use them! I love it! Then, when I actually need a wine opener one day, I will go on Next Door and see if someone might be offering one up. I just love the idea. cleaning out my house and helping others. It’s a community event! How cool! It’s about keeping what you need, not buying more to organize the stuff you don’t.

So, now I think I’ll go tackle that pile of stuff on my counter. Wish me luck!

What I learned from my social media hiatus

So as mentioned in my previous post, I took a break from social media. It wasn’t THAT difficult, I don’t have most of the apps on my phone that many people do. No Snapchat, no Twitter, no Tumblr. But I did have Facebook and Instagram. How hard could it be, right?

Well, hard at first! I sat down to watch the morning news, coffee in hand, and immediately opened up my phone. Oops. Ok so I put it down and watched the news. And then opened the phone again. Drat. OK, harder than I thought.

So I decided to implement a filler. Anytime I went to open my phone, I would instead read a page (minimum) of whatever book I so choose. I love reading and don’t always have time to sit and really enjoy it, so maybe this addition would allow me to get more pages in! And let me tell you, this really helped. I opened my phone a third time, and thus remembered to pick up my book and go sit on the porch. I enjoyed my morning coffee and read a few pages.

It was calming and enjoyable. And how rarely do I sit outside at 7am reading my book? Almost never until this experiment! It was so nice to take that extra time and enjoy something that I love.

I always carry a book in my bag just in case, and this allowed me to really utilize it. Waiting for my tires to get changed? Read the book. Doctor’s appointment waiting room? Book. It turned the standard boring wait times into enjoyable blips in my day. Maybe I only read a page, but it was still better than staring at my screen.

So let’s look big picture. For one thing, I read WAY more on any given day than I might otherwise. Additionally, I felt happier. I wasn’t on Facebook seeing all the shit going on in the world. Yes I still read the New York Times daily, but it was quality writing and I read only what I chose to. I also didn’t make nearly as many impulse purchases as I normally would. I have instagram to blame for that. I am such a sucker for “omg those cute shoes!” Did I need the shoes? I think you know the answer. So it really helped keep my spending in check. If you can’t see the things other people are spending money on, you are not likely to spend that money yourself.

All in all, it was a great experiment for me. So where do I stand now? I deleted the Facebook app and don’t intend to put it back on my phone. If I want to see how friends or family are doing I can go on a computer and look it up. I won’t delete my account as I like to keep in touch with some people that way. But I won’t have it on my phone. I put instagram back on my phone, but made it harder to get to. I have to deliberately go looking for it in order to open the app. That way I think about it before actually looking at it. This seems to be a good balance for me, and I’m happy with it for the time being. I also unfollowed all unnecessary accounts.

Generally I’d say I feel better about things in general since this little experiment. And I definitely am making more structured time to read each day. So what about you? What habits are you working on and has anyone else cut out social media?

I’m taking a temporary break from social media

Today is Day One of my social media break. I am initially planning a week, to test the waters. Why am I doing this? I’m glad you asked!

First of all I want to make one thing clear, I think social media can be fantastic and has it’s place in society. It allows us to find long lost friends and relatives, track down items we might otherwise struggle to find, see the far corners of the world, and so many other things. Through social media I can watch my friends’ kids grow up across the country. I can have an authentic Moroccan tagine sent to my house. I can order out of print records from the UK in the 70s. It would be far more difficult to do those things without social media. (I realize the internet is a big part of all those things, but I tend to go in Instagram or Facebook for things before searching Google.)

But there is also a side of social media that I don’t love. It puts a microscope lens on the lives of strangers. We see carefully curated images designed to sell us products, lifestyles and more. Even minimalist instagram accounts make me want to buy things. It makes me think my house is too cluttered, my kitchen too messy, my wardrobe outdated. It makes me feel like I don’t travel enough, I don’t read enough, I don’t know enough about anything. And are those things true? No! I like my life, and though I can certainly take inspiration from the images I see, I don’t need to adapt my life to fit those ideals.

The main thing I want to work on is spending associated with social media. Between videos of Pudge the Pit and pictures of foster kittens, I always manage to see products that I’d love to have in my home. Streamlined kitchen cabinets. Rose wine for the picnic in the park. Plaid shirts and overalls. Even sweaters for my dog! I see these beautiful images and can’t help but think how those products would benefit me in some way. And am I guilty of giving into that temptation? Of course! Jethro has 2 winter sweaters if that is any indicator.

Do I need the pretty things I see on social media? Probably not. But they are beautiful and perfect and curated to make me want to buy them. It’s called being an Influencer (yep, it’s a real job!) And because of this (ok it’s one of the reasons, but not the only reason) I have decided to take a break from social media. I’m going to take a week off. Anytime I am bored and find myself trying to scroll through pretty pictures, I will read some of my book. I have a book on me at all times anyway! Might as well read more. If nothing else I will make a dent in my reading list. I am already starting to realize what a time suck it is!

So for now I have uninstalled Facebook and Instagram on my phone. I am halfway through a book today alone! And I am VERY self aware as to how much time I spend on my phone. I am going to actually connect with people. I’ll call, text, email, get together with people. I may not be getting rid of technology all together, but a baby step is a start! And I’m sure it will be enlightening.

I will keep you updated this week as to how it’s going!

The importance of female role models

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on having kids. For many years I went back and forth, considering adoption and the possibility of being childless. Did I really want kids? Or did society tell me I wanted kids? I think my mom would make the most amazing grandma, but is that a reason for me to have kids? Really?

Here’s the thing, I am a great Auntie. I love to spoil my friends’ kids with love and goodies. I love to take them to the park and the pool, to the beach and the movies. But at the end of the day I can give them back! I will always treasure my time with the little ones, but that doesn’t mean I should have my own. It means I can give the parents some time off to be adults while giving the kids lots of extra love.

One thing that I always think about is the relationship I have with my mom. My mom is my best friend. I tell her everything. I love my relationship with her more than anything in the world. And I love the idea of having that with a child of my own. But NOTHING will ever compare to her.

I think of all the amazing women in my life, and more and more I am seeing women choosing to not have kids. About half my friends (within 10 years of my age) have kids, and half do not. When I think of the older women in my life, almost all of them do not have kids. And maybe that’s why I gravitate towards them. They show me so much love and support and we have amazing relationships. I can be them someday! I don’t need children to guarantee love and support as I grow older. I am confident that I will be surrounded by loved ones, a family I chose for myself.

On kids and frugality

I don’t have kids, and I probably won’t ever have kids. But you know what? I’m okay with that. Literally every source in the world says I will change my mind. They all say “oh but you’ll never know love until you become a mother” or “being a mother is the greatest job in the world”. Agree to disagree.

To all the mothers out there: You are a badass. You are such an incredible human, I am so impressed. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and you don’t get nearly enough credit. That being said, I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a mom. Kids are a lifelong commitment, literally. An entire lifetime. Have you ever noticed that if someone says they don’t plan on having kids other people say “Are you sure? That’s such a life changing decision? Maybe think about it a little longer and you’ll change your mind.” But when someone says they are planning on having kids “oh that’s great, fantastic!” Shouldn’t we place the same weight on the consideration either way? It always seemed so backwards to me! Kids are a lifetime! Not having kids can literally change anytime! But I digress….

Let me just say, kids are expensive! We aren’t talking a negligible amount of money here. I am talking hundreds of thousands of dollars (rough estimate, on raising a kid to 18). Though I realize that many kids rely on parental assistance for many years past their 18th birthday, so that number can definitely be higher. For someone who might be on the fence about having kids, the financial responsibility should really be considered. It has always boggled my mind that people think having kids is no big deal, it’s a HUGE deal! Diapers alone!

So are kids a frugal life choice? I think there are a couple of ways we can look at this. The short answer: no. Why? Medical cost of pregnancy and having the baby, diapers, food, a home big enough for a child, daycare, school, clothes, medical costs, extra curricular, insurance, the list goes on! All of those things cost money. If someone doesn’t have kids, they will have none of those costs.

That being said, if someone does choose to have kids, I think it can be done frugally. I think there are ways to raise a child without going way overboard on your spending. I also think people should do their research before having kids as to the cost of what they are taking on. Not only are you taking on the responsibility of raising a HUMAN CHILD, but it’s not cheap!

So do kids and frugality go together? It depends on how you look at it I guess. To each their own!

How to really chill out, if you’re an overachiever like me (can it really be done?) ((and why it’s important))

First and foremost, I am an overachiever. I set goals and like time-tables. I have charts, projections, and I’m always working towards something. It may be slow and steady at times, but it is always moving.

As a woman, I am a natural multi-tasker. I do laundry while cleaning the bathroom. I vacuum the couch while the dishwasher is running, all the while listening to an audio-book and keeping an eye on the dogs. More likely than not, if I’m watching a movie/tv show I’m also checking emails/blogs/reading the New York Times. Point being, I have a hard time sitting still and doing nothing.

So when work slowed down recently (after being out of the country for a few weeks) I literally found myself with time on my hands that I didn’t know what to do with. I haven’t been to work since mid-April. That was 2 months ago. Leading up to my trip I had all things packing, organizing, and preparing to take up my time. Upon return I had a friend in town visiting for a week, plus unpacking, cleaning, laundering, and getting back into the swing of things. That was two weeks ago. So for two weeks (and another ten days) I have no scheduled work to do. I have scrubbed, washed, laundered, vacuumed, sprayed, dusted, swept and mopped every square inch of this house. Multiple times. I have sorted my mail, my email, and all the random papers I could find around the house. I have organized my kitchen. I have read books, articles, blogs (in their entirety, no small feat!). I have watched movies, tv shows (hoarders for one, thus all the cleaning) and every documentary I could get my hands on.

Why am I telling you this? Because in the midst of all my running around, I realized something, I didn’t NEED to be doing any of it. In fact, it would probably be good for me to not do any of those things.

We have three dogs, (one is a golden retriever) so I could vacuum every day from here til eternity, and there would still be dog hair that needs to be picked up. The laundry will always be there, the dishes will always be there. I realized that I was filling my time, just for the sake of filling my time.

So I decided to do something for myself, and only myself. I decided to try to focus some attention on myself. I started in the mornings by making my favorite coffee. Instead of watching the morning news while putting away dishes and sipping coffee, I watched out the window while my water boiled. I poured water over my coffee grounds and listened to a record that I love. I enjoyed the moment. Was my morning so different? No. But I was present. I was in the moment and it really made a difference!

I tried watching a movie with my phone plugged in in another room. I sat out on my deck and read a new book while enjoying a glass of wine. Nothing major, nothing earth shattering. But it was those little moments that left me feeling calmer, more at ease.

Being home for an extended period of time can make me feel like I’m stalled, like I’m being lazy. But try to see those moments as a chance to take care of yourself. Go for a run, reconnect with an old friend, volunteer for an organization you care about. I can’t tell you what is going to be meaningful for you, each person will have their own thing.

Just don’t feel bad about taking care of yourself. Don’t feel bad about not working. We have all grown so accustomed to the “work hard, play hard” mentality, that any downtime is considered laziness. When I work constantly, without any sort of break, my work deteriorates. I miss things, the work absolutely suffers. When I take time to relax and enjoy my time off, I find myself ready and excited to get back to work. I put that much more into my job because I don’t feel bogged down.

So, once again with feeling, to all the other overachievers out there, take care of yourselves. Chill out a bit, whatever that means to you.

20180512_114854

Mommy and I in Amsterdam. Enjoying some much needed downtime together!