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”

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.

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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!

2017 in Review

Like the rest of the Universe it seems, 2017 was a rough year. I set my sights on change for 2017 and used “wellness” as my word of the year to guide and focus me.

I visited 2 new states ( Missouri & Kansas).

I lost weight and changed my eating habits in positive ways, eliminating a lot of sugar and red meat from my diet. I paid down debt, tackled nagging house projects, read a lot, and fell in love with podcasts.

I definitely had less “busy” time- I prioritized time with Q and family. I stopped running errands and gained time back by using Amazon to deliver things like cleaning supplies and coffee. I stopped going to the bad grocery store that only frustrated me.

I rid my closet of items I didn’t love, stopped buying clothes out of boredom or because they were on sale, and eliminated a lot of emails and junk mail I received.

Perhaps the biggest change for me in 2017 was giving to more causes that were important to me than ever before. As the chaos of the world seemed to grow around me, I realized that using my dollars to support efforts of organizations who were making a difference was important to me. ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Red Cross, hurricane relief efforts, and so many other organizations received dollars from me because I believe in their mission and goals.

The death of Q’s brother-in-law in June re-defined a lot of things for both of us. While the death of my father 4 years ago really brought a lot of priorities into focus for us, the death of his brother-in-law was completely shocking. It left everyone feeling stunned and we spent a lot of our summer trying to grapple with feelings, support his sister and niece, and work through a lot as a family. This, on top of some issues with Q’s ex-wife that are effecting our ability to see Little Man, has definitely been a strain.

In all honesty, 2017 didn’t go as I thought and hoped it would. I thought by the end of this year I would have a new job, possibly be living in a new place, and maybe have expanded our family. None of those things happened, but despite my disappointment in at least 2 of those areas, I don’t feel despair about the year, though I am happy to start fresh for 2018.

 

 

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. 

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.

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