Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the category “All About Me”

Family History

If you’ve been reading this little space on the internet for any length of time, you know that family is one of the most important things in my life. I grew up in a close knit family that ate dinner together every night, and every Sunday with my grandparents. Holidays were spent with extended family and friends who became family. I take great pride in this and in my family’s history, as both sides of my family have interesting stories to be told. My mother is Canadian and her family immigrated to Nova Scotia from The Netherlands in the early 1950s. My father’s side is Portuguese and both of his grandparents came to Massachusetts from the Portuguese islands of the Azores in the 1920s.

I know a lot about my family history and have always taken great pride in my ethnic background being 50% Dutch and 50% Portuguese, though I don’t look Dutch in any way. Last winter as a bit of project to combat cabin fever, Q and I embarked upon doing his family’s genealogy, particularly trying to learn more about his paternal grandfather and that line of his family tree. That grandfather passed when Q was a teenager and there had always been a family story that the grandfather was actually Native American, and that Q’s great-grandfather was actually a STEP great grandfather. It turns out the latter part of the story is true, but we had a lot of trouble learning more about his grandfather. Since we were tooling around with all the Ancestry stuff, it seemed like a good idea for Q to take the Ancestry DNA test to see what his genetic ethnicity might be, in an effort to find out if the Native American story was correct.

It was not.

Q’s genetic makeup turned out to be mostly Eastern European, with a big concentration in Poland and the various Slavic countries. The mystery about his paternal grandfather persists, though we’re both enjoying trying to figure out the story more. Q’s DNA opened up another big can of worms though because his maternal grandfather had a Portuguese last name and while born in the United States, had parents who were born in the Azores. It looks like from the quick family tree research we’ve done on that side that perhaps those great-grandparents moved to the Azores from Scotland, so we’re going to spend our winter doing a lot of that digging for Q.

The interesting findings on Q made me so curious about myself and my genetic ethnicity because so much of my family’s history was already known to me. I was fascinated by the results which I’ve copied here:

Not surprising that I have so much Italy/Greece and Iberian Peninsula with my Portuguese heritage, and not totally shocking about North Africa either. But I was completely blown away by the 36% concentration of Great Britain. These types of things just go to show how interconnected the world was even thousands of years ago when explorers and conquerors traversed the globe to create empires and discover new lands.

Have you done any of the DNA services to find out more about your ethnic DNA? I’d love to hear more about it as this type of stuff is fascinating to me as a history buff.

 

 

 

I purchased two Ancestry DNA kits on my own and was not paid by Ancestry to promote their product and services. All opinions are unsolicited and my own. 

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Seasonal Shifts

Despite the out of the ordinary high temps in my neck of the woods the past few days, my favorite season is upon us! Autumn brings gorgeous weather to still enjoy outdoor activities like apple picking and corn mazes, and just enough coolness at night to break out the fuzzy slippers and blankets without being cold all the time.

Not only am I looking forward to the various happenings of this season, but also happy to put the summer behind me. Don’t get me wrong- the weather was just my speed ( not too hot and humid and a few rainy days) and I did many things that I wanted to for the season (berry picking, beach, meals and/or drinks outside, small trips). But it was a summer of sadness, frustration, and unsettled feelings. The unexpected death of Q’s brother in law at the beginning of June really was a big whammy to the family, especially following a tumultuous spring for us that included other family deaths, the fire next door to our house, and unease about jobs. We spent more time with family this summer, which was needed for everyone, but we’re also dealing with issues with my partner’s ex-wife and Little Man. This is the hardest part of life right now, more even than my unsettled feelings about work, especially since we haven’t seen him in almost 2 months. It breaks my heart and I’m not sure if resolution is anywhere on the horizon.

To welcome in the new season and to try to be positive and move forward, we’re going away for the long weekend in October to try to break up the routine, hoping a change in scenery and some time away from home will give us an energy boost. Little Man turns 9 at the end of October, and I pray we’ll be able to celebrate that with him. Q and I are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time with both of our families and while I know it’s going to be a bit crazy, I’m pretty excited for it too.

Wishing you an autumn filled with lots of apples and pumpkins!

Signs

Do you believe in signs? The little messages from the Universe that seem to find you at exactly the time you need to see/hear/read them? I totally do, and my belief in the idea that something greater than ourselves is out there grows stronger every time a sign appears.

My experience with this is probably most often with signs from loved ones who have passed away. Some time after my grandfather passed in 1998, someone gave my Grandma a poem about pennies from heaven. The idea is that any time you see a penny on the ground or in a random spot, heads up or down, it’s a sign from your loved one/guardian angels that they are there with you. Cynics of course will say that people drop pennies and change all the time, but pennies found in random spots provides me ( and most of my family) a lot of comfort. And all of us have found pennies at random moments. When I bought my house in 2009, they were in the boiler room of the house ( my Dad refused to move them as he believed it was grandfather giving his blessing on the house). After my Dad died, I found them all the time in so many spots. My brother and sister-in-law encountered a penny when they were sitting in the Social Security office doing her name change after they were married. One morning when I got a flat tire and was feeling pretty down on life, I dropped my keys in the parking lot of the tire place and there was a penny right there.

 

Lately, as I’m contemplating next steps in life ( which I feel like I’ve been doing for the past 2 years), I am reading/seeing signs all over the place that are starting to feel like jolts to my system to take action on the changes I desire. More often than not, on an almost daily basis, there is some story in my Facebook news feed or Instagram that seems like the Universe is trying to tell me to stop thinking about possibilities, and take action. Just yesterday, after a particularly frustrating Tuesday at work, the quote below came up on Instagram. 

Via here

Maybe it’s being hyper aware and alert to my surroundings, maybe it’s signs from above. Whatever these signs are, they provide me the boost and assurance I need at a time that feels incredibly vulnerable and unknown.

 

Meyers-Briggs

Have you ever done the Meyers-Briggs personality test?

I’ve done it a few times throughout life for classes and employers. A few freelance clients even ask for it when we’re getting to know each other.

I am solidly a INTJ.

Interesting, as I’m thinking about my life and career next steps, that some of the most popular careers for INTJ’s include research, organization, and project management, things I definitely excel in and enjoy.

 

Half a Year Gone

2017 is all about wellness for me.

With half a year gone by, I say I’m doing really well at this goal. It really has been a lifestyle shift for me that began with the Whole30 in February that really shifted my mindset, eating habits, and food cravings.

I definitely have made great strides on cutting down the “busy” time and finding ways to make errands fun by doing them with Q and Little Man. I have made strict rules about no work emails between 6p-7a during the work week and almost no checking on the weekends. I’ve read or listened to 40 books so far this year so I think I will crush my goal of reading 60 for the year. I feel like I’m more myself and comfortable with who I am than ever before.

All this said and with all the steps behind me towards my goal of wellness, I still don’t feel like I’m in the right place workwise. I’m struggling between wanting change and fearing it, as well as the crippling feeling of so many options/ideas for next steps. I hold onto the hope that the right thing, aha moment, etc. will happen with patience, but there have been more than a few frustrating days after yet another rejection. I’ve been consistently applying and interviewing for things for 2 years without results, leading me to really dig deep to think about what I want, what I portray, and what my next steps will be.

The only thing about my 2017 wellness goal– to not buy new clothes– has not happened because I’ve lost/am losing weight and don’t have a ton of things that still fit me. This is a great problem to have, but I’m finding it difficult to adjust my clothing as I slim down because I want to keep losing, but don’t want to look like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes in the process. I’m trying to buy things secondhand (I love ThredUp!) or buying quality things that I can have tailored in the future.

Overall, I’m really pleased with myself and the progress I have made with myself this year. It’s given me the boost I needed in my confidence to remind myself I am capable of doing something I want if I am disciplined and determined. Here’s to continued success for the rest of the year!

 

 

A Mediocre Life?

A while back, this article was floating around the internet about living mediocre life. In short, the article asks the questions of who cares and what if we don’t do a huge amazing thing, have a glamorous life, and so on.

And I couldn’t agree more.

You know what my version of happy is? A quiet sun-filled day where I wake up next to Q without an alarm, lazily drink coffee and make pancakes, and spend time outside together, or with Little Man, or our friends and family. It’s getting to hang around my house, or the beach, or at the park reading a book all day. Sometimes it’s going to Target with Q and buying things we need like bananas and things we don’t like fancy soda or new towels.

I do want “more.” I want more time with my family. I want more mental space for my own creative pursuits.  I want more contentment with my day job. I want more time in the sunshine.

While I aspire for more than life than the excitement of Target on a Saturday night or the suburban soccer mom life it looks like I lead, I am overall pretty content with the way my life goes. Yes, I’d like to travel more, have a little less stress with my house and work, but I have an amazing life with abundant blessings and love– things that people who look on the outside like they “have it all” may not have even an iota of in theirs.

not from my garden!

For the past few years, as I have come into the “middle years” of my career, I’ve asked myself a lot ” is this it?” For right now, for various reasons, it is. But that doesn’t mean that’s what it’s always going to be. My dreams and ideas of life are changing and evolving as life happens– I care more about how I feel, my sanity, and my relationships than I do about what my ‘job title’ says about me. That’s been a big hurdle to get over as a classic overachiever/do-gooder/ Type A personality. It’s something that’s even making the practical/pragmatic person in me think outside the box about how I can move forward in productive ways that still let me pay the bills and not live in a cardboard box.

So is life mediocre? Sure, my life is barely “Instagram worthy”– my house is cluttered, my grass is green or mostly weeds, my meals aren’t gorgeous, and I don’t have a TV-ready backyard or bathroom. But I wouldn’t call my life mediocre– I’d call it quiet and filled with possibility.

Whole30 is Over, But Not Done

My Whole30 days were up on March 2. How do I feel. Fan-freaking-tastic.

The whole point of the Whole30 for me was not to lose weight, but rather, to assess what I was eating, what was in the food that I thought I loved, and really to get back on track after a few months of laziness in the kitchen and way too many sweets/cookies throughout the holiday season.

But I am, of course, thrilled that I lost 12 pounds and the weight keeps just coming off, so many of the Whole30 principles will be remaining in my life.

The whole ‘tiger blood’ of crazy focus was also a huge selling point for me– the winter is my busiest time at my day job and I found the ability to get things done much different than previous years. There was one Sunday about a week or two ago that I was downright amazed at how much I accomplished– cooked breakfast, did taxes, rearranged furniture, cooked lunches/meal prepped for week, did laundry, and about a million other little to-do items.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to be able to stick to the plan. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve made it 2 or 3 days into a way of eating, but give up when I’m tired/bored. What was different this time?  I had 2 work buddies doing it with me, plus Q, so there really was a huge accountability network there. The few other people in my office who were not doing the Whole30 were very supportive– didn’t bring in Valentine’s Day treats, asked how things were going, etc. At home, Q and I realized that while it’s more expensive at the grocery store, it’s actually not so hard to plan meals and make sure the fridge was stocked with lots of veggies and plenty of nuts in the pantry.

This past weekend was my birthday so I had some amazingly delicious cake made by my sister-in-law that was my first foray into sugar. And while delicious, I can definitely say it was way too sweet for me and within hours of having it, all I kept thinking about was another piece of cake. It’s amazing how quickly the sugar can get addicting again. I didn’t even like how the coffee tasted with a tiny teaspoon of sugar in it, which may be one of the biggest surprises of all.

So for life, I’ll be refraining from sugar and carbs, particularly at home and in the lunches I make for work. I think my biggest takeaway from the Whole30 is how much better I feel, especially since I didn’t think a lot of what we were eating before was all that bad. It’s not like we were big eaters of fast food, though we had more pizza in our diet than we probably should. It was amazing to me to read labels and see how much sugar is hidden in our foods like salad dressing.

The Whole30 isn’t for anyone, and as a person who likes to limit her red meat intake, I definitely had more steak this month than usual. I’ll definitely be incorporating some of the “no foods” back in( we had sushi for my birthday lunch, so that was the first time with rice), but some things like pasta or sweets, won’t be making their way back into my regular diet, but become more special occasion foods.

Hello February!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I enjoy, what makes me happy, and how to do more of that in this year of 2017.

I’ve come to realize I actually like winter a lot, leading me to believe I may need to always live in a climate where there are 4 seasons. This past January seems to have been more spring-like than wintry, so I’m hoping February has some of my favorite winter things thrown in like another weekend snow storm ( or a snow storm that cancels a work day) and some more cozy, lazy days.

The big news for me this month is that Q and I are embarking on the Whole30 eating plan for this month. No sugar, dairy, alcohol, carbs. Why? Mostly to try to get ourselves back on track from lazy eating of too much pizza, pasta, and brownies.

For me, I’ve noticed in the past few years as I’m getting older that some foods don’t agree with me as much as they used to ( onions!), and I’m trying to get a better handle on what some of those are. It will be a challenge for us– probably a big one for Q who eats a ton of food already and barely gains any weight. This morning I started with no sugar or dairy in my coffee, instead using Nutpods, which is a combo of unsweetened almond and coconut milk. I can report the coffee was still tasty! We’ll see how it goes!

 

 

2017: Wellness

Wellness is my word for 2017.
Personal health, financial, career. All of it.

I’m all about creating healthy habits. Drinking more water, moving my body everyday in some way. Less sweet-snacking at work and less unhealthy takeout at home for dinner.

I’m trying to buy no new clothes this year, stop filling my time by running errands, and plan meals and activities.

I want to improve my self-care practices, make date night with Q a priority, and spend more fun time with family, especially Little Man.

I want to improve my work-life balance and write more. Unsubscribing from unnecessary emails, spending less time on social media, coloring and reading more. 

Overall wellness for the mind, body, and soul. Robust living with intention.

wellness

Wishing you a happy, healthy 2017!

2016 in Review

Was 2016 a good year? It didn’t go as I hoped, but there were some important lessons and personal growth, so not a total flop.

New states visited: 1

Hours spent watching Star Wars with Little Man: At least 1460, but likely much, much more

Books read ( or listened to): 54 (2 more than my goal of 52)

Number of dinners ruined: Maybe 5? I should keep an accounting of this, but it’s happening less and less.

Number of 2016 resolutions kept: I don’t make resolutions, but choose a word and then focus on goals and practices that help me live that ideal out. 2016 was “embrace” and I feel like I did that with everything from my day job, dreams about the future, and embracing my current stage of life.

Debts repaid: Credit card debt gone! Made little to no dent in student loans and took on a car loan, but have great goals for debt repayment in 2017.

House projects completed: 3 1/2 (yard cleanup, new garage roof, basement cleanout, new blinds for bathroom, but still none for kitchen), plus a ton of cleaning out of stuff

Days I felt like there was no hope: Only one- November 9th.

Moments filled with laughter and love: Too many to count!

 

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