31 December 2013

The Resolution Chair


My sisters and I created a tradition when gathering with friends for New Year's Eve.
Everyone writes out their resolutions and stand on a chair (figuratively or literally) and reads them to the party.
It's goofy, fun, and your friends and family can hold you accountable throughout the year on your goals.
(Consider this my public Resolution Chair)

I have an action plan on some of these that are a little more progressional (like the language intensive project, paying off debt, and running)

MENTAL
Language intensive project: study 1 language for 3 months per language (ASL, French, German, Spanish)
Possibly enroll in school in September (depends on financial aid and financial situation midyear)

PERSONAL
Accomplish 3 side tasks at work per day
Visit ABQ
Take a trip with my Little

FINANCIAL
Progressional goal:
Pay off immediate debt >> Save 3 months expenses >> Begin attacking student loans

PHYSICAL
Run a 5k
Run a half marathon
Run 3-4 times per week
Drink 4 cups of water per day
Limit sugar intake

SPIRITUAL
Participate in 2-3 bible studies
Practice yoga once a week
Listen to two spiritual messages per week

To track how I'm doing, I printed off goal tracking sheets from My Love For Words (and I'll likely give a quarterly update to hold myself accountable).

While I hope to accomplish most if not all of these within the year, if I don't, I'm not a failure (and neither are you if you don't accomplish all your goals). Sometimes life takes over and priorities change. The importance is in the effort and in the journey.


What are your goals for the year? How many of your goals did you accomplish from last year? I had 12!!!



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22 December 2013

Budget: 20 December


A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
Colin Powell 


Psst.........guess what.

I did it again.

Another one down.

But before we go over that here's a recap of 5 December payperiod:

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I expected this month to be a little over budget. 

I actually had a bit of anxiety with all the spending I was doing. I had to buy cookie cutters and a rolling pin to make the cookies I gave to friends and coworkers as gifts; I had the money my mom sent; I had my Nutcracker gift money. Even though a lot of that didn't come out of my budget, alarms went off in my head. 
I guess that's a good thing right??

I did mess up and forgot my insurance hadn't been pulled out of my account, so I had to pull money out of my emergency fund to cover that (and then I pulled out too much. Whoops.) 
Thankfully, I have a petsitting job that was able to refund that.

20 December payperiod:

EXPENSES

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Got a bit of extra in my check this month. Yeah buddy. I did pick up a petsitting job and didn't make it a priority to make food to take with me back and forth, so I grabbed some fast food and called it a day.

DEBT


Click to zoom


Can I just squeal for a second??

Since I got my petsitting job, I was able to completely pay off dentist 1, which means I've paid off 1/3 of my immediate debt.

By January, I will (hopefully) have that medical credit card paid off, which will put me at about 50% paid off.

WHOA.

Wasn't I just complaining this was all slow going?

Take that, debt. BAM.


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19 December 2013

My Big Fat Lesson in Patience


I am far from a patient person.

I hate waiting. I hate being on hold. If I want something, I want it *now* and God have mercy on whoever gets in my way.

I noticed yesterday that this debt journey and my hobbies have really taught me how to be patient.

When I started running, I was slow. Like 15 min miles slow. (I walked a lot). As I ran more regularly, I no longer have to cut a full hour out my day just for the run.

When I started learning languages, it was really frustrating to understand more than I spoke. The sooner I got over the embarrassment of making mistakes, the faster I improved.

When I started learning how to knit, it took me forever to figure out how to stitch. (Whoever said casting on was the hard part is a big fat liar.) I almost gave it up.

As much as it hurts, I have to save up for the stuff I want to do (such a revolutionary concept).  I can't just put it on my credit card, because I'll have to pay it off eventually, and it makes me feel like a dog chasing it's tail.

I wanted results now. I still do. Sadly, there is no magical genie to grant my three wishes.

But the more I'm patient, the more I'm surprised with a gift.

When I made the commitment to the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps plan, I had just moved into a new apartment. I had so many petsitting commitments, I was able to pay off my deposit, build up my emergency fund, and seamlessly transition into paying off my debt snowball.

An old lady at the store bought me a few sets of knitting needles two days after I had canceled a Craigslist transaction for knitting needles. (She tried to buy me 5 sets, I put three back, and the sneak put another set on the conveyer belt at the last second)

A couple decided to pay for a toy and a week's worth of food for Corduroy after I had given up on trying to buy him a new toy for Christmas.

The day I decided I wasn't going to Nutcracker this year, a friend gifted me the money for tickets (and my boyfriend said he was going to surprise me with them anyway).

A couple tipped me the money to go to a football game I had told my friend I couldn't afford to go to.

When I realized (and surrendered) to the fact I had a few months on the air mattress, a couple friends were generous enough to gift me the money for a new mattress.

After I decided I would wait until my debt was paid off to get furniture, a friend gave me a chair.

 I've been incredibly blessed by friends, family, strangers, and the grace of God during this process and I can't wait until I can give back. Maybe being patient isn't so bad after all.

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17 December 2013

How I do it: winter bicycling


The number one question I get asked when it's made known that I ride my bicycle everywhere is:

"WHAT WILL YOU DO IN THE WINTER?"




A lot of people mention my scooter (pictured in my bio on the right) and wonder if I will ride it in the winter. That, my friends, is a big fat NO.

My scooter, as fun as it is, is definitely a fair weather vehicle for me, since it's a lot more damaging if I crash on the scooter compared to my bicycle.

I go faster on the scooter, meaning if I crash, it's more likely I'll get hurt. Not to mention body repairs that would need to be done for damages to the scoot. The roads are atrocious with ice, slush, snow, etc. and people generally drive like crap.

"BUT DON'T YOU GET COLD?"

I generate the power on the bicycle, so even though it takes me a few minutes (like 2-3) more to get somewhere compared to the scooter, I'm cozy and warm. I dress as if it is 5-10 degrees warmer than it is outside, to compensate for the bodyheat generated from pedaling.

By the time it takes me to get to work (6 minute ride), most people are barely finishing up warming their car and scraping their windshield. Since I live only a mile away from work, even if I did own a car I would probably still ride my bike. It wakes me up, it's a lot more fun than navigating traffic, and I get 2 miles of cardio roundtrip.

I wear normal clothes while commuting, so I don't really do anything different in the winter. Even when I drove a car, I would pair jeans with thermals or a dress with fleece lined tights, because I'm usually cold at work. I normally wear fuzzy socks and boots and I have a down-filled vest I wear under my trench coat, which is about the only difference I make.

My fingers, toes, and ears get the coldest, so I wear a combination knitted convertible gloves, leather gloves, a headwrap or beanie depending on the temperatures. Throw on a scarf and I'm good to go.

Give you one guess on my favorite color.

I've traveled like this in freezing temperatures and did just fine. I'll wrap the scarf around my face if it's really cold.

I'd have to double that on the scooter since I'm not only not moving my body, but the self-powered wind chill from going 25 mph makes it 10-20 degrees colder than what it already is outside. It's simply unpleasant.

It does get darker earlier in the winter, especially in Washington (3 p.m.!? REALLY?!) so I have to make sure I'm visible. I have a motorcycle jacket from GoGoGear that has a reflective belt, so in the winter, I wear the belt with my regular trench coat. I don't wear the motorcycle jacket on my bicycle because of the padding.

I had bought some cheap lights when I bought the bike, but they are part of the "be seen" category and I can't see much in the dark even with them on. I did buy SpokeLit lights a while back, which have helped with being seen as well.

But since I can't see, I bought a Planet Bike 5 LED light and a Petl Tekkina headlamp (which I double for running) with the money my mom gave me for Christmas.

Excuse my just-showered-I-got-presents goofy look

 

You can see in the rightside picture how much brighter the new light is compared to my dinky one. I'll use the dinky one as a blinking light for visibility (ditto on the taillight)

I have a current obsession with getting more lights and reflectors, which my Amazon Wish List shows.

"WHAT ABOUT WHEN IT SNOWS?"

Snow tires for scooters: $125 per tire + install costs ($50+)

Bicycle tires: $44 per tire + install costs ($16)

I have a pair of Klondike tires I just bought that should be good for a few years. I've gone over some black ice with them and didn't even feel a difference.

Rosie is quite studly with her new tires

I have a pair of SnowTrax I got from Costco I'll put over my boots if I know it's going to be extra icy. I also use them for running. They're fantastic.



I happen to love riding my bicycle in bad weather. It's a lot of fun and I love how quiet the world is when it rains or snows. I love being out in it rather than just driving through it. Plus the lack of dealing with traffic is pretty awesome. I have much less road rage compared to when I ride my scooter.

Winter riding is EASY, it just takes a little preparation. I'll save my scoot for warmer weather.

No hi-viz spandex clothes here!



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16 December 2013

That time I realized I'm a runner


When you start running for the first time, it's easy to fall into this perception that you're not a "real" runner because you don't have crazy pace times, marathon medals galore, and never take time off. Or because you go slow and walk most of your "run". Or because you don't look like a runner.

While I knew that because I laced up my Adidas and ran, I was a runner, I never really embraced the title completely. I never felt the *need* to run. It was just something I did because it was convenient for my lifestyle.

Until it got cold. And by cold, I don't mean 20's or 30's. I mean single digits with a "feels like" negative digits.

I went for one run when it was in the low 20's and my t-shirt semi-froze to my stomach. No joke.

After that I decided I wasn't going outside until I had the wonderful technology of base layer moisture-wicking clothing. My mom gifted me some cash to get winter wear.

In the meantime, I decided I would do Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. I was motivated for the first week, and then I got bored.

Nothing against Jill. She kicks my ass with that workout, but that's when I really realized I was a runner.

I missed being outside. I missed the changing scenery and the ability to wander in my thoughts. When I was doing the video, I'd actually look outside and miss the new circuit cue. Whoops.

I started craving running, much like I crave certain foods at a particular time. I noticed my emotions went haywire and my normal started dipping into a depression, which snowballed into lack of motivation to do anything, really (who noticed a lack of language intensive stuff??)

It was weird.

When the clothing I bought came, I ripped it open like a crazy person and immediately put them on. I believe my boyfriend's exact words were "so I guess you're going for a run?"

Full body shot with new jacket and leggings
Displaying photo.jpg
I really love this pocket feature!
The haul minus one pair of leggings
 (still in the mail)


I was out the door 15 min later and I got a new personal best at 11:30 min/mile in 32 degrees in the snow.

I ran 3.04 miles total. Mile 4 is really 0.04 of a mile.

Now I can use my tights and thermals for bike commuting and not freeze. Thanks, Mom!

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08 December 2013

The unknown


Lately friends and family in New Mexico and Arizona have been asking me things like:

How long are you going to be up there?
("there" as in Washington)

Where do you want to end up?

What city is your ideal place to live?

Will you ever move back?

I've lived in three cities in my 23 years, and each one was perfect for the stage of my life I lived there for.

As an adolescent, I've changed so much (from 18 to now) and I have so many goals I want to accomplish, it is impossible to say where I want to end up.

Especially with everything that's happened in the last year, I've learned nothing is permanent. And, with so much ahead of me in the next few years, I have no idea how to answer these questions other than "we'll find out".

And I truly mean WE as in YOU and ME, because if you asked me 6 months ago what I'd be doing right now, I told you I was hella excited to go to Europe in February and move back to Arizona in summer.

But then this happened, so my life took a giant 90 degree turn. Which isn't necessarily bad, just unexpected. But it really drove the nail in that plans usually get messed up.

I'm not sitting here doing nothing. I do have goals, plans, hopes, dreams that I'm working toward. I just don't have a deadline anymore.

It's a fine line between "this is where I'd like to be" and "this is where I HAVE to be (and if I'm not there by then, I'm a failure)".

As for my ideal city, Albuquerque was a great place for me to grow up; Flagstaff was a great place to start my independent life; Cheney is a great place to rebuild my life.

Who knows where life will take me to the next ideal location?

(Hint: I don't. That's part of the adventure.)

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07 December 2013

My Christmas traditions


Christmas may not be my absolute favorite holiday, but I do love it quite a bit.

I get crazy into the Christmas spirit: I wear my Santa hat at work, I immerse myself in Christmas music (forcibly at work,and usually classical or Ella and Louis on my own time), and I enjoy the gorgeous lights everyone puts up, making the frigid temperatures a little easier to bear.

Since I was a kid, I've either been in or seen a production of The Nutcracker. My favorite is still Shira Greenburg's Nutcracker on the Rocks by Keshet Dance Company in my hometown, Albuquerque. It's not your grandmother's Nutcracker (though I, of course, enjoy that one too).

My mom and I used to light a candle (electric) in the window to symbolize the warmth and security of the family and also to show loyalty to the family members who aren't present in the home, for whatever reason.

Before he died, I would buy my dad chocolates from See's Candies every year.

Luminarias are a huge New Mexican tradition, which I used to hate, but now I absolutely love.

Tamales,  polvorones, biscochitos, and posole are also staple foods in any New Mexican home around Christmas time (get recipes for these here).

Christmas tamales
Tamales
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Traditional Spanish Polvorones (Christmas Cookies)
Polvorones
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Authentic NM Biscochitos recipe by Gabrielas Kitchen
Biscochitos. THE best Christmas cookie ever
{source}
Luminarias in Old Town Albuquerque
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Posole
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It's become a personal tradition of mine to read A Christmas Carol during the month of December, and, of course, watch every (good) Christmas movie known to man.

 A new tradition I started this year was the Jingle Bell 5K, which I will continue.

One of my favorite activities in the Spokane area is going to see the Christmas Tree Elegance at The Davenport Hotel. It's pretty spectacular to see the different themes and ways a Christmas tree can be decorated. Also, a raffle to win prizes is always fun, right?


The last few years, I've worked Christmas Day so others can spend time with their families. I figure, since I'm so far from home, and I'll be spending Christmas watching movies alone at home anyway, why not work and make some well-needed holiday pay?

What are your holiday traditions?

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06 December 2013

Budget: 5 December



Before I go over the numbers, my friend sent this to me:


Caty is my "debt sponsor". Much like an alcoholic needs a sponsor, I believe people in debt do too. 

I wrote in this post how hard it's been lately mentally. November didn't really help, since I had barely enough to cover everything and nothing left over. 

Recap of 20 November payperiod:
Click to zoom

Yikes. I'm so glad to have the peace of mind of having my emergency fund, so if I need to dip into it to make my rent and payments, I can.

I honestly don't even really acknowledge the paychecks of the 20th, since expenses pretty much eat up the entire check.

5 December payperiod:

EXPENSES

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My utility bill is slowly creeping up to what I have budgeted for it. Corduroy has a cold and the vet said he might just have it from not being warm enough (which made me feel like a bad owner).

I had to raise my food/household budget due to Corduroy's wet food, need for litter, and I also am making Christmas cookies so I had to raise it a bit to get the ingredients.

I was incredibly blessed to receive a gift to go see The Nutcracker: a 14 year tradition. The seats were super high up, but thankfully, the theater is well built and we still had excellent view, especially since we were in the center. This is the second time I've seen the State Street Ballet, and they always put on a good show.

Even though I had a gift for The Nutcracker tickets, to get two, I decided to dip into my entertainment budget and forfeit the remainder ($9).

I commute by bicycle in the winter, and I'm a little behind in the game to getting my snow tires, but I finally ordered them on Amazon, and they should actually be waiting for me when I get home from work today. I will have to go to my bike shop to have them installed later this week. Take that, ice!!

I think I freaked out my mom a little with mention of the local weather (single digit lows, and I work the late shift) and my lack of winter clothing and gear: base layers are necessities. She -- as mothers do -- sent me money she probably needs so I could get some clothes, lights, and pepperspray. Once I get them all, I will be able to run to my heart's content, even on days I work the morning shift, and feel confident riding home after the sun goes down. I was specifically verboten to use the money for debt, but I did end up getting pretty much everything I absolutely needed (knocking out about half of my Amazon Wish List). Thanks mom!

DEBT

Click to zoom
I'm stupid excited to have my personal credit card paid off and to be working on Dentist 1. Once they're paid off, I'm going in for a cleaning to celebrate (and paying out of pocket). The $125 payment is glorious to see. It should be paid off by January, if my numbers are correct, and everything works out the way I expect it to.




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03 December 2013

30 (Holi)Day Shred


Since I ran the Jingle Bell 5k last month, I've been looking for a way to knock off a few inches and build some muscle.

Bonus points if it's free and doesn't make me go outside during this cold snap: 19 degree highs with wind. No thanks. Not with my lack of winter wear. I won't go running until I can get the gear I need to prevent frostbite. Fingers crossed that there's a big check in the drawer at work for me on the 5th.

I've done Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred before (I've never finished the entire program), and it is TOUGH. Taking one look at the before/after pictures I find on Google Search is enough to get me signed up though. I'm determined to finish the 30 days.

Today was Day 2. I woke up sore and, after giving it a little more than I did yesterday, I'm sure I won't be able to sit without wincing tomorrow. Jill knows how to work the body, which I'm okay with.

Hopefully this keeps off all the extra holiday pounds I've yet to indulge in. MyFitnessPal keeps me in check on my snacking (the bane of my waistline).

Corduroy (my cat) isn't too pleased about my new fitness regimen though. I'm sure he'd rather snuggle and watch New Girl instead.






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