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”

Julia Child, J.K. Rowling & Toni Morrison

Julia Child, J.K Rowling, Toni Morrison. Any guess what these women have in common?

Other than being huge for their contributions to society and culture, all three women earned their success, achievements, and fame later in life.

All three of them are my beacons of hope for achieving my dream of publishing a novel.

Julia Child (whose birthday today inspired this post) was only 32 when she went to French cooking school. Her groundbreaking cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking was not published until 1961 when she was 49 and her PBS show started just 2 years later.

J.K. Rowling was 36 years old when the first Harry Potter was released. Toni Morrison’s first book (The Bluest Eye) was published in 1970 when she was 39. She’s gone on to write many important novels and won a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for Literature. Rowling and Morrison both wrote much of their first novels in the hours before they went to their day jobs.

I’m not saying I’m anywhere near close to the greatness of these three women. But they remind me that dreams never go away as you age. That things you want are worth fighting for and making priorities. I think of them when I even just spend 5 free minutes jotting down a plot idea or researching something for the novel ideas I have (which are many at this point).

In all the career exploration and deep thinking I’ve done as I try to figure out what’s next for my career, so many articles and pieces of advice say to think about what you wanted to do when you were a child. My answer, even for the short period of time when I wanted to be a doctor (until I found out I have a weak stomach for blood), always involved books and writing. I’m 35 and more clueless than ever about where I want to go in life with my career, but I know writing and publishing a novel is in me and that there is no time limit on achieving it. That’s where my mind wonders during the day and what I need to make time to do.

 

 

Advertisements

Blah Days of Summer

My general life feeling lately has been angst and tiredness. Not so much a particular worry or anxiety about any one  thing, but a general blah feeling and life rut.

If I’m being open and honest, one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding writing, both here, in my personal journal, and in all my other creative outlets besides my day job ( I haven’t even been freelance writing either) is avoidance of myself and my feelings. How I feel about who I am, what I want ( what DO I want?), my job, my relationship with Q, family, friends, coworkers, and so on. The only things I feel really strongly about these days are air-conditioning and reading as much as I can.

If I’m also being honest, I’ll say that while I’m not in a sad place mentally, I generally just feel “meh.” Some of it is heat/humidity related, especially over the past five or so days which have been just grossly tropical with “air you can wear.” I don’t like when it’s so hot or humid out that being inside is the only option. I’m getting a cabin fever that’s different than the winter kind I get by the beginning of March to be itching to be outside; this one I’m just itching to be anywhere but on my beige couch or bedroom. I see why murders and such are on the rise in the summer time- the heat really can make you feel crazy!

Flowers make everything better!

Part of this is I honestly feel so clueless about how to get to where I want to be next in life. I want to move, but don’t really know where ( though I know where not). I want to advance in my career, but haven’t seen any jobs that interest me in my current field and feel completely paralyzed/dumbfounded/clueless about how to pivot into another. I’ve read books/blog, listened to podcasts, and even worked with a career coaching program, but haven’t had an AHA moment or feel like I’ve found my “calling” or “passion.” My passion is reading books in my PJs- is there a job for that?

I also want my own little family beyond just Q and I. The struggles with Q’s son Little Man hang over us like a little black cloud many days, especially on the weekends. It’s been tough to overcome at times and the strain/stress of it is real.

So what am I doing to try to push through the muck? Keeping busy with plans with friends and family. Signing up for a new yoga class for August and September. I bought tickets for a concert in November, something I never do ( I think the last concert I went to was 6 years ago). Ignoring the to-do list with house projects for a few weekends in favor of reading books outside or on the porch. Not cooking every night of the week. Working on my summer bucket list. They’re little steps, but I feel like if I just push forward a little bit every day, I’ll come out of the fog and make a step forward.

Summer 2018 Bucket List

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

  • Yoga on the Lawn at the outdoor market in my town ( and a visit to the outdoor market)
  • Farmer’s market on Wednesday afternoons near my work
  • Movie outside in Providence
  • Drinks by the water
  • Beach at least once in July and August
  • Berry picking
  • Lobster rolls, sweet corn
  • Lazy Sunday mostly filled with reading on my sun porch or backyard
  • Watch sunset
  • Music at local vineyard

No Spend June

I’ve done a no-spend challenge before and was successful. I’m giving it a shot again this June.

When I did my first no- spend challenge in February of 2013, it was a way to finally get rid of credit card debt and eliminate a lot of my random shopping habits that had become one of my ways to fight boredom. I repeated in July of that year to try to get on top of frivolous spending. This time around, I have two objectives- one to save some dough to start putting towards my student loan pay down, and two, to stop shopping for clothes.

I have a love/hate relationship with my closet which is also directly related with how I feel about my body on any given day (but that’s for another day!). There are work clothes for everyday, work clothes for when I’m feeling blah and not great about how I look, and work clothes for important days/work cocktail parties/special events. I have weekend clothes for hanging around, for doing house or yardwork, and for going out to run errands or out to dinner. There are clothes that I’d never leave the house in and only wear for cooking, and so on. That’s not even saying anything about the fact that I live in a four-season climate that can have radically different temperatures from day to day, so often times the light wool sweaters are vying for the same space as the summer sundresses.

The result of this is I buy a lot of clothes. In the past, I’ve gone a couple of months in a row without buying clothes for myself, but then the seasons change and I realize I have no tank tops or sweaters, or some other category of clothing that I think I need. Newsflash: I almost never need anything. With the exception of maybe when I graduate from college and realized I had no professional work clothes, I’ve never been without something appropriate to wear.

In the past few years, the manner of my clothes shopping has changed dramatically, in that I mostly shop online now. I like having the ease of finding my size and the color I want without much effort, with the only use of my energy often coming if/when I return something that doesn’t fit. It’s a really bad habit and if you ask Q what one of his pet peeves is about me, it’d be this (mindless online shopping and always returning). In my mind, I don’t spend a lot of time shopping because I almost never go into an actual store to try on clothes or buy something frivolous.

But that’s not true because I changed where/how I shop! I’ve taken to a lot online consignment and secondhand options. ThredUp is the best and worst discovery I’ve made on the internet.  It gives me all the satisfaction of “the hunt” without having to spend hours in a secondhand store trying to find things I need. eBay is the same thing, especially since I can find the most random things on there like funky and different vintage brooches for under $5.

So this June, there will be no clothes shopping or late-night eBay brooch hunting. I won’t fill the time when Q is watching a bad sci-fi movie with hunting down dresses on consignment sites. I don’t need a single thing in my closet and in fact, I should spend more time concentrating on what I actually do wear and like, instead of having all these different ‘categories’ of clothes that are only for certain things– my life isn’t that busy, exciting, or diverse to have more than 1 special occasion dress!

The only allowed purchases in June are for the house projects on the list, approved health/beauty products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc.), and groceries/house supplies like paper towels, TP, etc. I will resist the lure of the $5 sale t-shirts at Target and have already unsubscribed from all my favorite retailer emails. I’m hoping to pop an extra hundred dollars this month towards my student loan payment, with the aim on making this more of the norm for my monthly budget going forward!

 

 

 

2018 Goal: Digitize Family Photos

If you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, it’s not surprise that family is the most important thing in my life. I spend a lot of time with them, talk to them on the phone/text multiple times a day, and so on. In my house, I’m surrounded my family heirlooms, mementos, and photos that are my most valued possessions. After my mother and grandmother sold their houses, I became the keeper of some of the family photographs, in particular my Dad’s collection of slides from the 1970s and 1980s when that was a thing you did when developing film.

One of the my goals of 2018 is to pare back the amount of stuff we have, partly because Q and I are hoping to move in the next year or so, and partly because I want to be able to use and engage with the stuff I have. I really wanted to digitize my Dad’s slides because so many of them were from when he was in art school and I wanted to make some prints of his photos to hang alongside those of my aunt’s (his sister), who is a very talented photographer. Also, there were a lot of baby photos in these slides of me, and as the second child, there was a serious lack of photos hanging around with me as a baby because my parents were sleepless and frazzled with jobs and 2 kids under the age of 2!

A few years back, photographer aunt found an online company, Scan Cafe, to digitize her batch of family photos and I used them to digitize my parent’s 8mm film collection onto a DVD for a Christmas present. I was impressed with their pricing and service, so went through them again to do this latest batch of digitization. I’ll go back to them again for my next batch and then hope to attack the photo albums and such that my mother has after that.

As a museum person and historian, I know the photos and slides will only fade over time, so this was a big priority for me to tackle this year, especially a lot of the early photos of my grandparents from the 1950s. It was a great winter project to spend a weekend organizing and going through photos, even if it made me miss my Dad and Grandpa a ton. Scan Cafe has a lot of different packages and has deals all the time so it wasn’t an expensive venture, but preserving memories is priceless (Sorry that sounds like a really cheese tag line!)

Me, Christmas 1983. Photo by Dad.

 

All opinions my own. This is an honest review of Scan Cafe based on my experiences. I paid for all services on my own and was not provided anything or solicited by Scan Cafe for this review. 

Merry May

I’m back from vacation feeling refreshed and looking forward to the month of May!

It’s finally warmed up in my neck of the woods– it was a dreary and cold April. When we left for our Utah vacation on the 20th, we actually had the heat on that morning, which is just absurd for that late in April. When we came home, the grass was green and our lilac bush has buds on it!

I’ve got a post just about our vacation on tap in the next few weeks, but it was wonderful to get away, spend time with my aunt, grandma, and other family, and lots of exploring with Q. The warmth and sunshine of Utah was just what we needed.

My return to work was also quite interesting yesterday as some big changes are happening. While it’s still  unclear what it means for my role, I’m hopeful that positive adjustments in my daily activities and responsibilities are coming. I’m also optimistic that the changes will mean a little less emotional and mental stress from my day job that may finally give me the creative space I need in my current role so that I can start and end my days with my own personal creative writing.

My main goal for this month is to knock some nagging items off my to-do list for the year- go through attic stuff, declutter closets, and start on the large list of house projects.

May is also a month for celebrations: birthdays for my brother, aunt, sister-in-law, and Q turns 40! Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, plus all the excitement of the coming summer season have me feeling very good about the next 29 days.

 

Routines

I’m frequently the first person to arrive at my work office in the morning. I crave that time in the morning when I can go through emails, check the calendar, and get myself organized for the day. I don’t like chaos in the morning as it sets a bad tone for me for the day. I think best in the morning ( usually when I do most of my writing) and try to schedule myself so the “brain” tasks are scheduled before lunch, and the running around/errands/physical tasks all happen in the afternoon.

I’m lucky that I have the ability to be a bit flexible with my schedule and can adjust my hours as I need to reflect whatever is on the to-do list at work or in life. I work 8a-4pm because that’s what works for me and what needs to get done. I also crave that ‘golden hour’ from 5p-6p when I’m usually at home, or at least out of the office and doing things on my personal to-do list. I’ll come home, start dinner, walk on treadmill (soon to be outside whenever spring arrives here), and unwind. I’ve even come to see my 35-45 minute commute as distinctly me time so that by the time I pull into my driveway, I’ve left a lot of work stress and woes behind me. 

These routines of my weekdays have morphed over the years as circumstances in life changed around me. I’ve tried to run less errands in that ‘golden hour’ to make more time for the things I want to pursue, but I also know that my mind is frequently tired at the end of the day, so writing for myself isn’t going to be as productive as it could be in the morning before work. My work life has been tumultuous to say the least for the past couple of years and has taken a lot of emotional and mental energy. There have been more than my fair share of nights when the only productive thing I do is make dinner and watch whatever nonsense on TV I can find. There are hints of change on the horizon at my day job that I have high hopes will transform my mental well-being and I am cautiously optimistic that will influence my out of work life in big ways too.

I remember being younger and thinking routine and mundane tasks of life seemed like such a boring thing, but as I’ve gotten older, I realize certain routines bring sanity and highlight the extraordinary things, as well as make everyday moments filled with more joy. Every weekend, Q makes a big pot of coffee for us to enjoy together instead of the on-the-go quick K-cups I make on work mornings. I look forward to that simple pleasure every weekend- we often even talk about anticipating it as early as Thursday night! Our life may lack a lot of spontaneity, but it also isn’t predictable- finding the good balance between being in a rut and living in chaos takes some work, but it’s brought me to a good place that only can be improved.

35

To put it simply, I would have been completely fine with letting this birthday pass me by. In fact, work has been so busy that I almost did! When cards arrived in the mail last week from my grandmother and aunt, I actually had a moment of “huh?” because it was still February and my sense of dates and the calendar has been all out of whack lately.

I’m not a huge birthday person for myself. I don’t particularly like being the center of attention and like to just keep to myself most of the time. When family asked what I wanted to do, I honestly meant it when I said nothing. All I ever want as an adult is to not have to work on my birthday. Since it fell on a Sunday this year, it was the perfect day to sleep late, read books, and relax.

And that’s pretty much how the day has gone. My family came over for birthday cake and Q bought me a necklace, but otherwise, it’s been low-key and uneventful. I think people make a big deal over birthdays because they feel like they need to celebrate you in some way, but it means more to me for people to send me notes, messages, or call than it does to have some sort of event about the day.

As I start into my mid-thirties, I feel like life is more uncertain for the next few years ahead than they were when I was 25 or even 30. A lot has happened in a year, and I’m sure the year ahead will be equally eventful, though I pray it won’t be as filled with sadness, anxiety, or stress. I am cautiously optimistic about some things at my day job and we have a vacation coming up in 40-something days to anticipate. Those positive lights on the horizon will get me through the next few crazy weeks at work ( this happens every March!)

 

Embracing Trust

I’m flossing every day! I deleted the Farm Heroes App on my iPad! I read my first ebook! I’m meal planning! I’m doing yoga and walking on the treadmill a few times a week.

January has been a month of positive changes in health(ier) habits and embracing my word of the year TRUST.

One of the reasons I chose the word was I’m going to be 35 in March (!) and I realized I don’t really give myself enough credit for a lot of different things in life. I look to others (Q, family, coworkers, random internet people) to confirm/validate/tell me about my life/decisions/what I should do with life.

Which is exactly the opposite of trusting myself.

Over the years, especially since my divorce, I have spent countless hours reading books, blogs, enrolling in courses (both free and paid) trying to learn more about who I am, what I believe in, what I should be doing with life, looking fear in the face, finding my passion, and so on. I’ve downloaded countless free workbooks and guides to life, listened to podcasts about designing my life, and so on. And for all of them I was pretty much looking for some tidbit or magical answer that would equal some AHA! moment that would bring me to this place of zen and joy that would equal my joyous happy life. Self-discovery is a bitch– it can be exhausting, and frankly, a lot of it just made me feel more down about myself and the fact that I didn’t have a “thing”/hobby/side hustle/super power.

I was looking outward for the answers instead of just trusting myself and listening to my inner Jiminy Cricket about who I am and what I want. Maybe it was because I was overdone on self-discovery and thinking about my life from the roller coaster that was my marriage and divorce process that I  wanted someone else to tell me how to live/what to do with my future. Maybe I thought that once I made a big life decision like ending a marriage that I thought my life would be set and I wouldn’t have to think about things for awhile. Whatever the inner reasons behind it all, I’ve realized in the past few weeks of thinking about TRUST that I just need to quiet the outside noise, ideas, and people.

So for me, for right now, that means really staying away from reading a lot of personal discovery non-fiction books/podcasts/blogs. I won’t abandon following people on social media, but I won’t see their next class or idea as my answer to my problems. I realize I’ve forgotten the hard work and time I put into getting to where I am in life, both personally and professionally, so trusting and being a little less hard on myself during the question mark that is life right now is a huge thing just by itself.

2018: Trust

2018- the year of trust.

Trust myself and my abilities, in my partner, our family, and that the future we desire can and will happen.

Trust that I will move forward in my career.

Trust that I am taking action every day to build the the life I want.

Trust that I can be honest with myself and people in my life about what I want.

Trust that all the questions and unknowns will unfold and present themselves if I believe in myself and hope for the things I want and need.

Trust the process of life and live the questions everyday.

 

Happy New Year! Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018!

Post Navigation