The Day’s Highlights

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I want to be in a better mood. I want to have people stop asking me dumb but well meaning questions. I want to hear their dumb but well meaning questions and think of them as only well meaning questions. I want to tell my sweet husband how much I appreciated the homemade fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes he made for dinner tonight. And while I went upstairs to veg in our bedroom playing Words With Friends, I wanted to tell him how awesome he was for cleaning the kitchen, washing the dishes and taking out the trash. I want to stop craving gummy bears and Swedish Fish and be happy that we will be going refined-sugar free in the month of April. I want to believe those people that say after awhile a person will stop craving sugar.

I’ve been reading The Highlights of My Day (via). It reminded me of my tendency to take pictures on my iPod of quotes that strike me. I haven’t looked at these pictures in awhile, but I went back to “Leaving Maverley“, a short story by Alice Munro. I snapped the last part:

He looked at the nurse in wonder. She thought he was asking her what he had to do next and she began to tell him. Filling him in. He understood her fine, but was still preoccupied.

He’d thought that it had happened long before with Isabel, but it hadn’t. Not until now.

She had existed and now she did not. Not at all, as if not ever. And people hurried around, as if this could be overcome by making arrangements. He, too, obeyed the customs, signing where he was told to sign, arranging—as they said—for the remains.

What an excellent word—“remains.” Like something left to dry out in sooty layers in a cupboard.

And before long he found himself outside, pretending that he had as ordinary and good a reason as anybody else to put one foot ahead of the other.

What he carried with him, all he carried with him, was a lack, something like a lack of air, of proper behavior in his lungs, a difficulty that he supposed would go on forever.

The girl he’d been talking to, whom he’d once known—she had spoken of her children. The loss of her children. Getting used to that. A problem at suppertime.

An expert at losing, she might be called—himself a novice by comparison. And now he could not remember her name. Had lost her name, though he’d known it well. Losing, lost. A joke on him, if you wanted one.

He was going up his own steps when it came to him.

Leah.

A relief out of all proportion, to remember her.

Lovely.

Conversation with my 10-year old self

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not me

Bob Aamodt from Knox Capital came to speak at a Finance and Accounting luncheon at my work today. His talk was on getting your financial house in order, a subject that usually morphs me into full-on nerd. I’ve always been a goal oriented person. There were milestones that I always thought I would cross.

I was feeling reflective on the train ride home about where I’m at in my financial life and, as per usual these days, feeling anxious over my future finances. Suddenly it occurred to me if I was speaking to my elementary school self, what would I say and how would that differ from what she would see?

When I thought about my 30s, I thought I would be the boss. I thought I would have most things figured out. I thought I would have a wonderful, chaotic, full life where I balanced home and work with confidence.

On paper, most of my aspirations came true. I bought a house before I turned 30. I married a lovely man who is my partner always. We are slowly growing our family. I feel that I am good at my job. I have people that look to me for their assignments at work. I am not rich, but financially, I am not struggling.

My life has wonderful, chaotic full moments. The stark difference is that the confidence is not how I imagined. The ease. The control. Often times I wonder how everything is going to come together. Often times I despair that it won’t.

I wonder if I was speaking with my 50-year old self, would the conversation have the same cadence? Would I still be that lady that doubts herself? Would I still wonder how things will work out? I suppose that’s what’s so nice about dreaming your future self. You hope that it will.

Foodie

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I am notoriously bad at staving off the temptation for eating out, but the husband and I went through an entire credit card cycle with less than $15 in dining out charges. $10 of those dollars weren’t even mine! Shocker. Although I can’t say this will become the average for months to come, it’s encouraging to see the conscious spending paying off.

It’s helped that we’re adding new recipes to our arsenal. The husband is a wonderful cook, but I need no-hassle-tasty recipes to keep interested. Trolling Joy the Baker has helped. Cup of Jo, too. Also, A Cozy Kitchen (pic above).

This article was especially interesting: The Tyranny of the Chicken Finger. The husband always calls me out on refusing to eat something I’ve never eaten before.

Fulfilling Work

I opted for The Mindy Project and ice cream to yoga tonight. I regret nothing. Also, I forgot to secure the top to my water bottle before I put it in my purse and essentially drowned my copy of Neuromancer that I was valiantly trying to tackle yet again.

I could continue with my list of failures (I probably need to wash my hair) or I could remind myself of this video I watched over the weekend.

Trying

Today’s swissmiss quote is so poignant for me right now. Sometimes I am too resigned for my own good. This year will be full of changes and I’d rather take them on bravely than my usual way of caution and worry.

The husband and I have tried to incorporate one new recipe a week into our usual dinner rotation. Yesterday we made Joy the Baker’s Sausage and Mushroom Risotto with the little sis. It turned out really well although spicier than my wimpiness usually takes it. Last week we made Smitten Kitchen’s Chana Masala. The week before we made Creamy Caprese Pasta. The change in routine definitely staves off the temptation I have to eat out. Plus there was this great moment where the husband was sauteing onions, the lil sis was watching the chicken stock simmer and I was pretending I knew how to chop mushrooms that I thought, This is exactly where I want to be.

Frugal Blog Burnout

After binge reading my go to personal finance (pf) sites, I generally feel a sense of reinvigoration to make course corrections, big or small, in my financial decisions. At the very least, I live vicariously through internet pf comrades that will soon or have already reached financial independence in their 30s and 40s.

These past few days have been different though. I’ve felt a worrying sense of ennui. I don’t want to retire to the woods. In fact, most outdoor activities lie somewhere at the bottom of my list of things to do for fun. Allergies to most trees, grass, pollen, dander and mosquitoes will do that. I don’t own a bike and haven’t ridden one since an unfortunate tumble in the fifth grade left me with a chin full of stitches and scratched up knees and hands.

Aside from the errant ksl purchase (my car, computer, and an old couch), I’ve never bought anything second hand. I am not an engineer nor a manager, mid level or otherwise. Neither is the husband. Our combined income is modest compared to the pf folks I’ve been reading. I once tried to ask for a raise and got so nervous I sabotaged myself and only received pitying looks from my supervisor.

The husband and I don’t own any rental properties nor do we feel inclined to do so in the future. We have never maxed out our 401ks. We break most of the things we try to fix ourselves. We are picky eaters and I can’t stand the taste of rolled oats. I don’t want to eat rice and beans for lunch every day. I like eating meat. I like eating out. I like consuming entertainment. I enjoy the occasional vacation to places far outside my zip code.

I like my new house and the pretty things in it. I would like to put more pretty things into it. I went this morning to a yoga studio of which I’ve maintained an almost 8 year patronage. I also got my eyebrows threaded and I buy fancy shampoo.

This listing feels incomplete but long enough. Confessing even a fraction of my excuses/complaints makes me feel a little better though. As I look through all of this whining, I am struck with one clear thought. I have a good life. I could keep at this pace, with these habits and be fine. The husband and I save around 40% of our net income. We have no revolving debt besides our mortgage. We both have secure jobs with adequate benefits and cheap commutes.

What I need to do to shake out of this funk is stop reading what everyone else is doing, and find what’s going to work for me. What do I want?

  • I want to be able to raise a family without being paralyzed with worry over money or spending too much of it.
  • I want to have more mindfulness in the activities I pursue and the decisions I make.
  • I want a financial safety net to help me be brave and overcome my more practical/realist/boring sensibilities.

I’m still working on it.

Review

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My persistent introspection tends to highlight my shortcomings over my achievements. Sometimes the days blur and time, or its passing, starts to feel monotone and flimsy. I write to remind myself. 2014 was a good year. It was a year of exciting changes. It was a year of promises and previews.

I became a homeowner. I turned 30. I convinced my husband to go on a diet with me where we pretended eating fish for 3 days straight and giving up sugar and bread wasn’t the total worst (okay, it wasn’t the total worst). I read some lovely books. I watched some lovely movies. I got a much needed Lauryn Hill do-over. I went to my first Comic Con. I visited Red Butte Garden for the first time. I made my first trifle. I baked muffins and corn bread and French bread and cookies.

I was assigned an actual grown up food assignment for family Christmas dinner that was not a veggie tray or chips. I celebrated six years with my husband. We expanded our portfolio and met most of our financial goals for the year. I tried to ignore all of the times I didn’t quite measure up to my expectations or the personal goals I set for myself. I tried to remember to breathe. I tried at least as often as I stood still. 2014 was a good year.