balance in 2019

Sometimes, I go into overdrive and am so productive for weeks on end. During January and February, I was so focused on being productive, that I forgot to take care of myself.  March and April I sort of got a little too chill. Then May and June were a whirlwind of car problems and working. Now here were are half way through 2019 already.

Being an introvert means I look forward to time to myself. I spend all day thinking about what I am going to do when I get home. When I have multiple days in a row where I can’t just go home and do what I want, I get cranky.

I’ve read that stress can make it hard to settle down – something about stress hormones and relaxation hormones. Even though I don’t feel particularly stressed, I’ve always had an anxious mind.

At the end of the day, if I haven’t worked on something, I feel unfulfilled. I hate that I can’t come home at 5:15 and work until midnight on house projects and hobbies. Sleeping is such a waste of time. I wish I could stay up until 2 and then sleep until 9.

Alas, I have to have a day job. So I had to really take a look at the quality of sleep I was getting. My sleep schedule is wonky – 11 pm isn’t a rare “settle down” time for me. Then add the tossing and turning and sometimes I won’t fall asleep until 1 or 2 in the morning. 

I started taking Melatonin to help me sleep at night so that I start winding down for bed around 9:30. I stretch and drink a glass of water. I think I feel my best with 9 hours of sleep, so I have that as a target. I have been working on it. I’m afraid I still don’t have great bedtime and morning routines. It mostly consists of me going, “oh shit! Is that really the time?”

Not even joking.

I work two jobs and keep up my house and care for Charlie. I don’t always have to be working on a house project or painting a portrait. First and foremost, I need to make sure the dishes are done and that I go to bed on time, but convincing myself that I don’t always have to be working on something is not easy.  

Still, some weeks I am really productive and then the next week I have to dial it back and focus on the basics. I think that balance is good and natural.

book review: the tenant of wildfell hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I imagine, there must be only a very, very few men in the world that I should like to marry; and of those few, it is ten to one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I should, it is twenty to one he may not happen to be single, or to take a fancy to me.”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Drugs, alcohol, and debauchery in a 19th century novel written by a woman? As relevant as that sounds for the modern young person, this story is just really sad. The protagonist, young Helen Lawrence, is courted and married to Mr. Huntingdon – a man who’s debauchery becomes his sole purpose in life. He not only neglects his wife, but flirts with other women in front of her, puts her in dangerous situations with other men, and teaches their child to drink, swear and behave badly just to make her mad.

The novel starts from the perspective of Gilbert Markhum, who only comes to meet Helen after she has run away from her malicious husband. The reader then discovers the tale of Helen’s woes from her diary which she gives to Markhum to make him understand why they cannot fall in love. Both Helen and Markhum learn about themselves, and true love and Christian duty, as the rest of the novel unfolds. Of course, all ends well for the well-behaved Christians and all ends horribly for the drunken Huntingdon and his gang.

While Anne Bronte hoped to preach that Christian values always win and that sin leads to destruction, I think the argument for discernment in a relationship is just as important. The initial love between Huntingdon and Helen can only be described as superficial and misplaced. Helen loves Huntingdon with a love that comes from her duty as a woman (and her misguided perceptions of his character) and Huntingdon loves Helen (if you can call it that) with an infatuated and shallow heart that fizzles rather quickly.

“He never could have loved me, or he would not have resigned me so willingly”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

As a single woman in 2019, I really connected with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, not because I am self-righteous or morally superior – as is Helen – but because I see a lot of men act the part of a devoted boyfriend or husband who think it’s okay to run around on side. I also see a lot of women who think they can make a man change his ways.

“When I tell you not to marry without love, I do not advise you to marry for love alone – there are many, many other things to be considered.”

― Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I do not understand why a man would get married (or stay in a “monogamous” relationship) when he has no intention of being a companion or being faithful. This burns me. Does it really come down to societal pressures and expectations? Do cheaters truly just want to keep appearances up for the sake of their reputation? Huntingdon wanted Helen to stay at home and wait for him and heed to his every need. Even when they could no longer stand each other, he refused to let her go so that people would not think badly of him.

These relationships are brutal to observe from the outside and that was what reading this book was like — listening to a woman talk about her relationship and not being able to say what you really think about it. We all know a Huntingdon and a Helen. We know the player who woos and manipulates women. We also know the woman who falls for it every time. “He might leave his wife for me.” “He told me this time was different.” “He said he wouldn’t do it again.” — Girl. What do his actions say?

Notes on the Audible I listened to:
I was a little surprised to find that the narrator at the beginning of this novel was a man, and the fact that the audio-book was narrated by a woman threw me off. I would have liked to hear the voice switch back and forth for entertainment value. Also, the sound quality on the audio-book I picked was not great. A lot of chapters would start loud and then end with me straining to hear it.

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3 things that suck and 3 things I like

“The Woman Who Thought She Had A Plan”
I think they will write that on my headstone.

I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and I realized I’ve been trying to do too much at once. Last Tuesday I wrote that I was waffling between paying down my student loans or saving. Well, since I don’t know how much longer I want to stay in my hometown, I decided to start putting money in savings and only pay the minimum on my loan. I figure if July comes around, and I still want to pay off my loan, I can do it with what’s in my savings.

That’s my plan anyway. We all know how plans are.

These three things that have really been bothering me lately.

  1. My best friend moved to Alaska and my other good friends live in the NYC area.
  2. I left a job I really loved, and I’m not sure how to find anything similar to it.
  3. I am always surrounded by people that are older than me.

These three things I highly recommend.

  1. I finally found a purpose for the t-shirt yarn I made and haven’t used. Macrame plant hangers.
  2. I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and so far I really only used it for rice. So I went looking for recipes and found a great pork carnitas recipe that had me using Cumin and Chili Powder – two spices I had in my cupboards but had never opened.
  3. This house is an inspiration in and of itself. The dark paint with the wood trim detail. Drooling over here.

book review: you are a badass

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a quick little read (or listen) that can give you the push you need to start being a bad-ass. Jen Sincero’s writing is familiar and humorous (not laugh out loud funny but pleasant). There are a lot of good reminders in this book to encourage you to make changes in your perception, your mind, your heart, and your life. Sincero argues that if you want something, you need to believe you can have it. In essence, believing you are worthy of a great life and that you can have whatever life you imagine, is the only way that life will ever truly come to be. Sincero also reminds you that if you aren’t following through, you don’t want it enough.

Here’s what I was reminded:
1. Imagining the life I want to live is something I don’t do enough. For me, just having a clear picture of my life can be difficult because I can imagine multiple lives for myself.
2. I am really guilty of telling myself something is a priority and then not doing it (like exercise).
3. Trusting myself is both more difficult and more important to me than I thought.

I agree with Sincero in that if we believe we can and we follow through, we will achieve our vision, but there’s a lot of work to be done. It’s great to be all good vibes and light, but to go after dreams is work, plain and simple. To make money, is work. Sincero’s “real life” examples of how the universe listened to her intentions were weak. Rather than claiming the sky opened up and answered her prayers, I’d much rather have heard the tangible reasons she was able to do the things that she did. She obviously did groundwork to build her career and connections. There’s very little mention of those though.

As much as I gained from this book, I got caught up by the foundation of her perspective: the idea that the universe and our desires want to be in accordance with each other. Maybe it’s because I’m Catholic, but God – the Universe, the spirit energy, whatever you call it – doesn’t owe us a beautiful, fantastic, amazing life. Worthiness and self-love are crucial to being confident to go new places and seek new achievements, but trusting that everything you imagine will be handed to you is a slippery slope. What if what you want and what God has planned are different? What if in the midst of striving to build your business, you lose a leg? What if you want a family, but you haven’t met the right person?

I have been struggling with the idea of purpose for the past few years so maybe it’s just me being cynical, but life happens and circumstances change constantly. Being able to identify the beautiful, amazing, fantastic things in the life you have can be even more beneficial than imagining a life you wish you were living. Gratitude and love can transform an average life into a light filled life without money and without travelling to Bali or Spain or Tokyo to write a book.

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on my mind: feb. 2019

financial goals – I’ve reached a student debt balance where the interest accumulated each month is a negligible number, which means, once again, I’m waffling between cutting back my snowball or continuing on with it. On the one hand, I’d like to continue this intensity because I’d like to cut back my hours at my second job in the near future – or, at least, request some time off. On the other hand, I want to build my savings and open an IRA. I probably shouldn’t even bother to worry about this because I joined an investment app recently and have been throwing a little bit at it here and there. So, in reality, I’ve already negotiated a middle-ground with myself. 

screen time – I unintentionally cut back on my Netflix binges. I think I went almost a whole month without it, and I remembered why I don’t have regular cable or even a TV. I wouldn’t use it enough, and I get so much other stuff done when I’m not watching every new release and every new show. You know that conundrum where you sit down and don’t know what to choose out of the plethora of options? Last night, I watched a movie that has been in my list for close to a year. It was nice to put something on that I had been skipping over for a long time. I think the fact that I had cut back on my screen time helped me pick a movie more easily, and I ended up really liking it (Tallulah – if you care to know). 

health – Being at a desk all day has really messed with my health goals. I went from being active most of the day to being inactive until 5pm. I have had to cut my calories so much just to maintain weight. I have been making sure Charlie and I are walking regularly because after my knee surgery last year, Charlie gained a lot of weight too. The vet recommended he lose 10 pounds by his next yearly vaccination.  Basically, we are both pretty hangry most days, but he’s lost 6.8 lbs and looks so much better.  At least the creature I am in charge of is healthier even if I’m not. Unplugging from Netflix has helped me get more active in the evenings though. I realized I needed to make the most of our walks because I don’t have the time for each of us to get a long workout. I added walking lunges and sumo squats into our walks. Then I do a quick workout with either body weight or dumbbells and barbells. I recently bought a set of kettle-bells too and they have been a good addition to my at-home gym. 

creative juices -In addition to getting more exercise, cutting down my screen time has given me more time for personal projects like my blog, house projects, or painting.  I think I’m finally getting used to my perspective being read by people on the internet. For a long time, I didn’t want anyone to know about my blog. It wasn’t anonymous, I just didn’t share it. I’m finally growing into my voice – if that makes sense. When people give me feedback, I’m no longer embarrassed by it. Writing has become a big part of my life as of late and being able to unleash my worries and fears into words – plus share the other things I work on or make- has multiplied the motivation I have to do more. The act of summarizing the books I read or the projects I do inspires me to keep going. All of this, makes a creative like me happier in the grand scheme of things. The act of creating is the reward for me, not the comments or the amount of likes I get.