Meal Planning for Two

I’ve started posting on Instagram what I eat each day. I’m learning a lot about myself through this process and I intend to write a post about it soon, because I think it will help me a lot in my quest for balance and understanding.

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I’ve spent a lot of time leaning about how people meal plan for their families, written by parents who work (usually their work is blogging) and raise their kids who are heavily involved in their schools and sports, etc. Two people who work full-time and don’t raise children and don’t play sports have a meal plan that looks really different and so I thought it might help people to see what that looks like.

Why meal plan?

Yeah, I get this question a lot. Especially because there’s just two of us.

What was happening is that I was making our plan for the week on Saturday morning before I went grocery shopping. This resulted in us eating the same 4 meals every week, getting bored, eating out and throwing away what was in the fridge. It was like we were wasting double money because of the cost of eating out and the cost of what we were throwing out.

How I got started

So, I sat down one day and made a google doc of all our meals and sorted them in a way that made sense to me. I didn’t get crazy detailed, I just tried to write down as many thing as I know we like, not including things like Hamburger Helper or frozen lasagna (two of D’s favorites – I promise I’ll tell you why I’m just a second). Then, I grabbed a paper calendar and added five meals for each week.

The reason I only did five is because our life is probably differently spontaneous than the people I was learning to meal plan from. So if our friends called us to go swimming 15 minutes before work let out, then we didn’t end up throwing away a day of planned food by the end of the week. Having two days of wiggle room worked really well for us, and in the summer months I usually only plan four days, rather than five, because we tend to wander to friends houses more or eat a salad or sometimes just have ice cream for dinner.

What do you save?

It’s almost 100% about emotional labor for me. By the end of the work day, I’m so riddled with decision fatigue that I’m like, let’s just eat popsicles because they’re what’s in front of my face. So in addition to not planning well, I didn’t have a ton of mental ability to switch it up when it came time to cook. This way, I make a ton of decisions once a month and only ever take things away – if dinner at a friends gets scheduled, then I take a meal away. That’s it. Sometimes I even make my grocery list while I make the meal plan. When I’m super on my game, I buy all the meat and dry goods in bulk at the start of the month and just buy produce as we go because, again, less thinking.

There’s definitely money being saved. Partly because of the bulk shopping but mostly because we were throwing away about $20 in produce and spending an extra (assuming we’d eat out once a week, pre-COVID) $60 a week. That’s a monthly savings of $320, which is an annual savings of $3,840.

Y’all. That’s so much money.

I also think we eat more vegetables this way (not so much fruit, but I’ve always been a pretty good fruit eater). I feel like I’m more willing to spend money on organic, delicious veggies because I spend a bunch at the start of the month on stuff that isn’t that.

So emotional energy, money & health.

I think it’s true that we don’t need to overthink it. My mom has talked a lot with me about enjoying this age without children and embracing not needing to be hyper organized. I’m 100% with her in that. I think doing this helps me stay calmer because I know what’s coming. So that tense need to fix something means I can just fix dinner.

Do you meal plan? What works for you?

A. Rose (1)

 

 

Life in a Time of Unrest

When we last left off, I had every intention of sharing with you my 30-day gym update. I had started the year talking about my intentions; then my meeting with a personal trainer through my work; followed by my first full week at the gym. And then COVID-19 hit America. I started working and going to school from home. I was a month behind on my masters project, due to my mothers illness at the start of the year, and honestly, not having a commute gave me an extra hour each day that made it easier to complete. It was not easier to try to finish without meeting with my advisor, or to not get to graduate (yet!), or to go from working on a bustling college campus to being alone all day with two cats.

I continued a modified workout routine that includes a lot of walking on the trails by my house, wrapped up my last semester of graduate school and was excited to take a rest but then Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. If you don’t want to think about politics or the state of the word, I recommend skipping down to the first heading. I hope that my transparency will be a source of comfort, not conflict.

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I have been working in public education for over a decade, not counting my work while in college. And I have been committed to being an educator in public education since high school. My work is intricately tied to eradicating systems of oppression – my focus is on untying the mental knots that keep us thinking through the dominant lens by changing the way we talk. I try really hard to embody compassion, understanding and joy.

Lately, I’ve been outwardly angry. And disappointed in myself for that.

More than anything, I feel blindsided by my white friends, who simply don’t know that their line of thinking is rooted in white supremacy. I don’t feel blindsided by white supremacy, but rather that they don’t know. That’s confusing to me and it is a good reminder that I carry my own ignorances:  I live in education, where every day people see the impact (good and bad) of systems, where we are nationally criticized all the time and respond by saying “we’ll do better,” and where people critically analyze sources before assuming they’re accurate.

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That’s my real world. But it isn’t the majority. Folx don’t know the ways that they fight against or give in to the system, turn their noses up at national criticism, and assume that something with a percentage is a fact. And that’s fine. It’s actually fine. I hope that I can make waves in education so that individuals moving forward will examine and assess things differently, but we’re all allowed to be different, and hold to different ideals. That is actually the beauty of America.

The shame of America is that its system reflects ideals that injure entire populations – ideals that are held and defended by its people. It’s hard to jive with freedom of thought (which is usually totally my jam!) when the ideals include people being murdered or children starving or one group being privileged over another.

And so I’m worn out. I’m worn out from 100 conversations a day in my personal and professional world that require me to think about what will happen if we X instead of Y. What population is impacted by Z and will that impact be negative? I am finding myself spouting off in small moments because my every day is so wrought with a lack of closure. But the truth is: that’s how it’s been since I picked education and my white burnout doesn’t help anything. And, at the end of the day, I picked it and I’m not going to leave it, so I have to take educations lead and say, “I’ll do better.”

I’m unwilling to agree to disagree (why do we love this phrase so much?) because that’s what got us here in the first place and, honestly, it feels really anti-American when you read our founding fathers. Instead, I’ll do better. And part of how I want to do that is by revising my 2020 intentions.

Let’s talk about doing better

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When I first wrote them, I broke my 2020 intentions up into three categories: physical, mental, emotional/spiritual health. Then, from there I did a breakdown of what practical steps I could take towards those things. I’m going to put them here with some notes about the steps I’ve taken or hope to take:

Physical Health
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Eating more plants and lean protein – Yo, I’ve got this really great lunch I’m going to share with you that’s almost 100% plant-based (the dressing isn’t…and no, it’s not a salad). I’m also opting for vegetarian whenever possible. Meat is nauseating to me lately. 
Walking for entire lunch break – Pretty much every day, unless it rains. If it’s raining during lunchtime, then I walk in the evening.
Gym three times a week – In Michigan, gyms have been closed since March (or April?). I think maybe I’ll do like an exercise week in the life kind of thing to share what I’ve been doing to stay sane while working from home.
Track progress here – totally haven’t been doing that, but get ready, folx! It’s coming!

Mental Health
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Keeping school organized – keeping school organized by being DONE!! I have some steps I’d like to take in my professional career that I’m not sure I’ll share here, but I think I could share how I organize and stay on top of them… We’ll see. This is a tricky spot. What would you like to see?
Managing Expectations – At the start of the COVID changes, D and I decided to do things 3-5 days at a time. We just couldn’t plan for things because we didn’t know what was going to happen and we were both up to our eyeballs in stress (when you’re the operations person and all of your operations go remote…). That’s been the best move for us. 
More-than-a-month meal plan – This is probably a post all in its own. We’ve had so many changes to food since I started working at home. I’ll do that. I’ll write a post on that.
Weekly routine – We’re starting this! D and I finally started talking through our week. We haven’t really been because what even is a week anymore? But, not having the structure was stressing us both out more than we realized, so we’re moving past three days at a time.

Emotional/Spiritual Health
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Embrace the weekly plan – ready for it!
Use the free counseling at work – Telehealth for the win!
Go to church more than twice a year – Y’all. I’m super on the fence about church. I’ve been a long time non-believer who loves to go to church and the general attitudes of Jesus (per the gospels), but man. The more I see people in abusive relationships defending their abusers and then yelling at me (or friends in general yelling at me) for not being more Christian the more I’m like, “effing patriarchy” because Jesus wasn’t about any of that. Do others have this problem?
Meditate – On it. I’d like to share a little about this too, if folx are interested.
Write for fun, not just for school – That’s actually why I’m back here. I hope it will help and keep me from being so angry.

I also have a little mental list going of some projects I’d like to take on around the house. I have really been thinking about where our money goes and who benefits from it and how to change that, but I think that’s probably going to be a different post since this one was VERY long.

Thanks for sticking with it. I appreciate feedback, thoughts and intentional criticism if you have some.

It’s going to get better. Or at least, we can figure out how to be better. That’s something within our realm of control.A. Rose (1)

 

A Week of No Spending

There’s nothing like trying to find ways to save money when you don’t make money. These budget series posts were created out of the desire to share what I have learned about alleviating some of the soul-crushing stress of living paycheck to paycheck – and the things I’ve learned that have helped me move away from that life. Please note that I am not, in any way, a licensed financial professional. None of these tips are guaranteed to make you money or save you money; they’re simply different ways of thinking about and using money that one person who doesn’t make much has learned over time.


I have recently become moderately addicted to Megan Fox Unlocked. Seriously, y’all. She’s so sweet and genuine. Totally worth checking out.

I watched a video not too long ago where she tracked what she spent in a week. I thought I might put a spin on it and try to go for a week of no spending other than groceries and gas. And to hold myself accountable, I’m going to take a picture of everything I buy that isn’t a grocery or gas.

Sunday

Flooring

I talked a little bit in this post about helping my mom redo the floors in my dad’s office. I spent pretty much all day Sunday working on that (10am – 5pm) so it made it really easy to spend.

That said, it was really challenging to resist the urge to say, “let’s go out for dinner” to D. I had planned to be done with the floors on Saturday, so I had a more complicated dinner planned and the idea of cooking after all that work was like… ugh. It ended up being fine and we cooked, but it definitely was a good reminder that adapting the plan can help save money – ex. I knew I was going to be tired by the end, so I should have pulled a crockpot meal from later in the month and used it on Sunday to avoid the temptation to spend money.

Sunday Total: $0.00

Monday

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My parents cat, Frank, is basically a giant teddy bear.

I knew on Monday that I was going to see my parents after work. I stayed there for about an hour and by the time I got home, made and ate dinner and started thinking about homework it was close to 9pm. So, I did some homework and went to bed, which made it very easy to not spend any money.

Monday Total: $0.00

Tuesday

I got a hardcore chocolate craving around 2pm on Tuesday. I usually keep some dark chocolate in my desk drawer, but I spaced at the grocery store this weekend. There’s a little on-campus convenience store so I walked over there and got some chocolate milk & Reeses Sticks (aka deliciousness) for $3.

I also totally spaced when I planned to do this no spending week because I had scheduled dinner with two of my friends a month ago. I wasn’t about to cancel because our three schedules don’t line up easily, so instead, I got a water and an appetizer for a total of $9.53 + tip.

Tuesday Total: $15.23

Wednesday

On Wednesday night, I knew that we needed to pick up D’s prescription, so I made some delicious pot roast in the crockpot and we went after dinner.

Our grocery store, Meijer, allows you to accrue points towards money off. We had a $6 off coupon so when we decided to pick up a few extra things, we ended up spending $0.67. I don’t think groceries fall into the no spending category, but since we also got a fancy drink, etc., I’m going to count this.

This was also the day that D and I decided that we’re going to do this for the entire month of March.

Wednesday Total: $0.67.

Thursday

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Y’all. I was so tired on Thursday night. D has a standing meeting on Thursdays so I headed to my parents directly from work. I was there until 7pm-ish and did homework until 8:15pm, when I promptly got into bed and zoned out with some Desperate Housewives (I’m newly re-addicted). So, a super-easy way to not spend any money!

Thursday Total: $0.00

Friday

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I didn’t get any good pictures of Friday night because I was too busy enjoying myself. D and I went to Chik-fil-a, which is somewhere we went to when we thought all was good with their donating and since the more recent news, we’ve stopped going. But, from before now, we had reward points, so we went and had a free dinner and then to our friends’ house. We picked up the girl scout cookies we ordered in February and a set for my parents. Delish!

Friday Total: $0.00

Saturday

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On Saturday, I spent the most of the entire week! My bff and I try to get coffee once a month, and this Saturday we went to Biggby for basically the entire morning, 7am – 2pm! Seriously everything my soul needed. I’m not even kidding. We laughed and cried and it was pretty perfect and totally worth the cost of three coffees – $16.82. This was an eye-opener for me, y’all. Because, legit, on Tuesday, I spent almost $5 less to go out to dinner!

So, I’m never going to stop getting coffee with my bestie, but I’m definitely going to think twice before getting the sugary kind.

Saturday Total: $16.82.

Grand Total

$15.23 + $0.67 + $16.82 = $32.72

So, in order to figure out what I saved, I had to figure out what I usually spend on things that aren’t groceries and gas. So I went through five weeks of spending and averaged it. The average for five weeks: $152.83

When I found that number I was horrified. If you multiply that by the 52 weeks that are in a year, you get $7,947.16.

Y’all. That’s a car, a vacation, half a down payment on a house. Holy smokes.

With a grand total of $32.72, I saved $120.11, which if you multiply by 52 weeks you get $6245.72.

So, I definitely will be doing this again hahaha. I don’t know that it’s realistic to do this every week – D and I like to go out to dinner. But I don’t seek why I couldn’t be more intentional about saving.

I think I’ll track this for the month of March and I’ll let y’all know what I come up with at the end! For now, this savings is going straight into my savings account and I am thrilled.

For more posts about budgeting, you can find all the posts here.

A. Rose (1)

 

 

How to Budget When Your Income Fluctuates

There’s nothing like trying to find ways to save money when you don’t make money. These budget series posts were created out of the desire to share what I have learned about alleviating some of the soul-crushing stress of living paycheck to paycheck – and the things I’ve learned that have helped me move away from that life. Please note that I am not, in any way, a licensed financial professional. None of these tips are guaranteed to make you money or save you money; they’re simply different ways of thinking about and using money that one person who doesn’t make much has learned over time. 

Like this topic or just want to know more? You can find the full series here


I’ve been thinking lately about the fitness / wellness posting that I’ve been doing and how it’s easy to think that’s my main priority if you don’t know me. I recently told a friend that one of my primary motivating feelings is safety: I do certain things because I want to feel safe – particularly, because I want to feel financially safe. Even exercising and eating healthy is, in some ways, about that: healthy people spend less money on doctors, etc. As I was explaining this to him, I found myself saying that is the topic that I really want to focus on here.

Changing Income

So, a little background about me: I currently am in, essentially, a salaried job. I get paid hourly, but I have enough and accrue enough PTO throughout the year that I haven’t had to go without full pay since I started working here three and a half years ago. I also work Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm. This is really dreamy, but wasn’t always the case.

For the majority of my adult life I was either worked a shift job as my full-time job, or I was working two jobs and one of them was a shift job. So, for nine of the last 12 years, my income has changed week-to-week. When I wrote this post about budgeting when you don’t make a lot, I think that what I really wanted to talk about was how to budget when your income changes. So, let’s get started.

*Quick note: I am using whole numbers because it’s easier. You’ll want to look at your pay stubs to figure out how much gets taken out for taxes. I typically assume that about 10% is being taken out for taxes and that helps me to always come in under budget.

Figure Out Your Minimum

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Let’s say that I make $10/hour.

Usually, I work eight hours a day, five days a week. So that’s 8 x 5 = 40 hours a week. 40 x $10 = $400.

The key word there is “usually.”

Sometimes, I work as few as 5 hours a day, four days a week. Sometimes, I work as much as 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Track back through the last six months and figure out the week you worked the least amount of hours because that was what you were scheduled for. If you worked zero hours because you were on vacation or sick, that doesn’t count.

In this example, the least I worked was 5 hours a day for 4 days a week. 5 x 4 = 20, so 20 hours a week. I make $10/hour, so 20 x $10 = $200. $200 a week for four weeks, $200 x 4 = $800.

That $800 is what I need to base my budget on.

Fixed rates

From there, I figure out what’s a fixed rate. Usually, rent is a fixed rate, or has a “base rate” if you look at your monthly statement. Some common “fixed” rates are:

  • Rent/Mortgage
  • Cable
  • Credit Card payment
  • Insurance(s)

For this example, I’m going to use even numbers because it’s easier to do math that way. Let’s say that your fixed rates look like this:

  • Rent/Mortgage: $200
  • Cable: $50
  • Credit Card payment: $20
  • Car insurance: $60
  • Renters/homeowners insurance: $40

If we add those things together, we get $370. So then, we subtract $370 from $800.

$800 – $370 = $430

Variable Rates

With the remaining $430, we want to overestimate the remaining categories of the budget. Those categories might be things like:

  • Gas
  • Food
  • Fun Money
  • Miscellaneous
  • Savings

For two people, we would divide that up to look something like this:

  • Gas: $150
  • Food: $250
  • Fun Money: $15
  • Miscellaneous: $5
  • Savings: $10

$150 + $250 + $15 + $5 + $10 = $430

Every single dollar is accounted for. That’s really important. When we don’t have things categories, we spend it on stuff we don’t need. I’m sure there’s psychology behind why we do that – and if you know why, I would love to know! I just know that when I don’t have money in a bucket, I spend it, instead of saving it.

I was told that you should pay yourself first, meaning that you should put into savings before you do anything else. I think that’s a great goal to strive toward. I also think  it isn’t always realistic. There have been many times in my life where after gas and food, I had $11 that got swept into savings. I think the important thing is to always put something – even if it’s 50 cents – into savings. This helps create the habit so that when you do have a surplus, it gets put away.

What about when I make more?

Yep. I know. The burning question.

First, it’s important to talk about why it was based on the least amount you made: You have to have a game-plan for those weeks. If you go into a week where you’re working half what you usually work with no game plan, you’re just going to be panicked the whole entire time. But if you’ve got a game plan, you can more forward just a little bit freaked, rather than full-blown panicking. Ya feel?

So, in the example, we said usually, I work eight hours a day, five days a week. So that’s 8 x 5 = 40 hours a week. 40 x $10 = $400. $400 per week for four weeks… $400 x 4 = $1600.

That’s literally double.

What I did that saved my tail is that I doubled up on the things with variable rates (and actually sometimes quadruple the miscellaneous category) and instead of doubling the fixed rate items, I tossed that into savings. Let me show you what the original budget looked like and then I’ll show you what it looks like with double the income.

Original, based on making $800 per month:

  • Rent/Mortgage: $200
  • Cable: $50
  • Credit Card payment: $20
  • Car insurance: $60
  • Renters/homeowners insurance: $40
  • Gas: $150
  • Food: $250
  • Fun Money: $15
  • Miscellaneous: $5
  • Savings: $10

All those things together, $200 + $50 + $20 + $60 + $40 + $150 + $250 + $20 + $15 + $5 = $800.

Doubled, based on making $800 per month:

  • Rent/Mortgage: $200
  • Cable: $50
  • Credit Card payment: $20 + $20 = $40 (I’m assuming $20 is a minimum payment)
  • Car insurance: $60
  • Renters/homeowners insurance: $40
  • Gas: $150
  • Food: $250 + $250 = $500
  • Fun Money: $15 + $15 = $30
  • Miscellaneous: $5 + $15 = $20
  • Savings: $25 + 485 = $510

All those things together, $200 + $50 + $40 + $60 + $40 + $150 + $500 + $30 + $20 + $485= $1600.

So, those may not be super realistic numbers because probably your car insurance is more than $60 per month. And, maybe there’s a month you have three kids birthdays in a row so you need to put less in fun / savings and more into miscellaneous. Also, if you have debt hanging out on your credit score, you may opt to throw money there rather than into savings. Whatever, you do, make sure that money is assigned a name.

Also, I understand that things are not going always be as clean as it just doubling. I recommend adding more money to food first and then adding to the other categories because food lasts the longest (longer than a fun night out, for example).

The trick is to not add too much (so that extra is going into savings) and to spend to your limit.

I know it feels weird to put money into savings when you have a hole in your shoe and haven’t gone out to eat in three months. Your savings account is what keeps you from literally becoming homeless if you get sick, lose your job or your car dies. Your savings account handles the big picture while the rest of your budget is about the day-to-day details.

Hopefully, this process, done enough months in a row will make it so that you don’t have to borrow against the future.

How Can You Possibly Spend that Much on Food?

The answer is: not eating out.

You totally could spend double your budget by eating out, but then when your income suddenly plummets, you and your family will be very hungry.

So, if you all of a sudden have double the amount to spend on food, buy extra of things that go in the freezer – meats and frozen fruits and veggies, not pizza rolls. I also highly recommend that you purchase things like cough syrup and stomach aids when you have extra – those things sneak up on us when we’re sick and so it’s wise to have them in the house. Especially if being sick means you’re not working!

Take stock of your life and figure out what you use often – or what you don’t use often that is a quarter full. Things like salt and spices keep for a really long time, so buy an extra.

Spend ahead as best you can and when you’re maxed out on kitchen space, I also recommend buying for holidays way ahead of time, especially for adults. If you have space, I also encourage you to buy extra shampoo, soap (of all kinds – body, dish, laundry), socks, underwear and even shoes if you have a kind you love. My father buys shirts on sale and saves them until one he’s already wearing has a hole in it. Things like reusable travel containers also help cut down on disposable sandwich bags, etc. The same with washcloths instead of paper towels.

If, at the end of the month, you’ve spent $450 instead of $500, go out to eat if you want. Or put it into savings. Either one is fine – I’m not going to judge you and you shouldn’t either.

This Post Left Me with 1,000 Question

I feel you. I tried to keep this as simple as possible, but I know it’s not easy. I would love to hear questions, feedback and corrections!

You can comment down below, email me at intricatelyimperfect@gmail.com or DM me on Instagram.

I would absolutely LOVE to do an entire post of just your questions about money!

Happy saving, my friends!A. Rose (1)

Week One at the Gym

I shared in this post that I wanted to challenge myself to go to the gym 30 times between February 26 and April 8. I met with a personal trainer in mid-February who drew up a plan for me – 5 workouts a week: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 1 full body. The upper and lower body workouts are a little over an hour; the full body is a 2-mile run and time will vary.

I had originally planned to do a big post after 30 days, but by the third day, I needed something more than a lengthy goal, so I thought it would be good to check in after the first week and sum up what the first five days (does anyone remember that song The First Five Times?) were like.

February 26 – Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 was upper body. It started with a 20-minute run/walk and then moved on to mostly free weights. I felt energized and excited when I was done, but by 2pm I was basically toast. It was really hard to fight the urge for an additional cup of coffee.

I did not allow enough time for everything that was included, so there was a circuit of three things that I was supposed to do three times that I only did one time.

Summary: I need more time than I think because not feeling rushed is important to me when I’m learning something. 

February 27 – Day 2

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Day 2 was lower body, which still involved a lot of free weights. I’m really grateful that this plan doesn’t have me tied to a million machines. That morning, I noticed that I was, again, the only woman in the gym that early. Maybe because where I go is small? I was feeling a little achy from the day before, and I need to get better about allowing time to stretch both before and after.

The last exercise was dumbbell lunges and y’all… I barely made it through the first 10. I did a second rep of 10 and stopped, and didn’t do the third rep. I felt terrible for not completing it – when it was about not having enough time that made sense to me, but when it’s because my body can’t? That’s not something I’m used to. I felt kind of crumby for most of day two.

Summary: New disappointments are harder to navigate than ones I’m accustomed to.

February 28 – Day 3

Day 3

By day 3, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was still going. It’s been freezing cold here (in Michigan) and my car doesn’t heat up quickly so I leave for the gym freezing cold. I had class the night before so I didn’t get home until 9pm, which means I wasn’t even relaxed (let alone asleep) until around 10:30pm. That 5am wake up was basically impossible. I was grumpy and decided I was just going to do the full-body workout – the run.

Over the summer, I was running a little over a 5K (3.8 miles – the distance to my parents house) in 43 minutes. When I was at 15 minutes for 1 mile, I was ready to just throw the towel in.

Y’all this is the real – I’m giving it to you straight. Wouldn’t it be boring to hear another “exercising is the greatest thing ever! I love every minute of it!” I’m not going to lie. Working out does make me feel better but the process this day was crap.

Until I hit 1.5 miles. I told myself, “1.5 miles is 75%. If you got a 75% in your class, you would be doing all the extra credit in the world.” So, I kept going because I don’t actually like to do things half-assed. And it was a shitty half a mile, but the music was great and I felt better all day knowing that I had kept going.

Summary: When everything sucks, make sure you have good music because then it will suck less. Also, sleep is really important.

February 29 – Rest Day 1

Rest Day 1

Y’all, I couldn’t do Day 4 after what Day 3 was like. And I don’t mean that to be that I was giving up. I knew I wanted to keep going, but also that my mind wasn’t in the right spot for it. So, I decided on Day 3 to commit to at least one day of rest.

It was less rest-y than probably most days: my parents hired me to put in new flooring in their office. So, I pulled up carpet. And tack strip. And 10,000 staples. It was a workout all its’ own. I got home late (around 7pm) and tried to take some quiet moments for myself. My body was grateful for a long shower and some time in a big, comfy chair.

Summary: Rest is far more important than I usually allow it to be in my life. 

March 1 – Rest Day 2

Rest Day 2

On Day 3, I had committed to going back on Sunday (March 1), but the floors took longer than expected. It was cool to think about my body a little differently on that day. I could lift boxes and get up and down. I tried really hard on this rest day to think about my body as capable, rather than limited.

It was nice to do that on a day not in the gym because I think it set me up well for Day 4 – I highly recommend giving that a shot!

Summary: If I make it less about this idea of going to the gym and more about the idea of learning about my body, I have a better attitude.

March 2 – Day 4

Day 4 (1)

Day 4 felt like Day 1 in terms of my attitude. How crazy that I so seriously needed those rest days?? It was more mental than anything. I was doubting my abilities and feeling overwhelmed without realizing that was what I was feeling. Does that ever happen to you with things like this?

This was the second upper body workout and it also started with 20 minutes of running. I felt like I had better endurance on this day than I did on Day 1, which propelled me forward in a great way. The rest of the time was spent mostly with free weights and a handful of machines.

The only struggle I found myself having was that I wore leggings with no pockets, so I didn’t have a spot for my phone and headphones, so I carried them from spot to spot. Which was just annoying, not like, a serious problem.

I’m doing a no-spend week, but I think I might purchase one of those earbud cases that hooks to your keys when I have the chance to spend again. Or I might just actually purchase a second pair of leggings that have a pocket. I should update y’all on the status of my closet because there have been some major changes since the last time I posted about it.

Summary: I really like upper body workouts and never knew that before.

March 3 – Day 5

Day 5

Day 5 was a leg day and the day of my biggest revelation. I don’t hate leg day (I feel like that’s a thing that people talk about). I actually enjoy the sore feeling after. What I hate, and what I think probably caught up with me in that weird Day 2 & 3 space is that I need the run to get my brain moving.

I like the calculation of running for a length of time vs walking for a length of time. I like how lost in the music I get. Running is something that I know intimately and have done for most of my life. I  think I need it to boost my confidence because I’m doing so many things I don’t know. So, I’m going to add in 10-15 minutes of it on leg day because that’s what I need.

I discovered that my gym doesn’t have kettlebells so there were two exercises I couldn’t do but y’all – I killed those dumbbell lunges that I struggled with on day two. And by killed I mean I actually did all of them. I didn’t necessarily do them well, but I did them.

Summary: Add in something familiar when you’re doing something new or else your confidence will be shot.

What else?

The number one thing I took away from this week is that I can’t frame it in terms of “good” and “bad.” I went to the gym. I went. That’s actually enough. If I had gone and walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes more than what I was doing before.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

That’s it. There are 100 things in a day that I come across that I’m “not good” at. If I spent all my time thinking about them I would never leave my house. And if I told you each day about the 100 things I came across that I am “good” at, I would be the most annoying person ever.

So instead, I went. I went to the gym and I did these things that matter to me because they keep my heart healthy and help me manage stress.

Keeping it on those terms makes it easier to go and to keep going.

I did lose 1.6 lbs and I actually do think it’s important to talk about the number because the number connects to heart and whole-body health. But I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until April 8 (the 30-day mark) because I have a history of caring too much about that number. You’ve got to know your limits, not just in the gym but out of it as well. 

Oh! AND! I’m making this little playlist of the songs that are resonating with me the most each day if you want to follow along. It’s definitely made it more fun to have music to lean in to.A. Rose (1)

myWellness

I talked in a post about my 2020 intentions about wanting to be more centered on my health this year.

2019 ended with my father in the hospital because of blockage in his carotid artery and 2020 started with my mother in the hospital because of a cardiac event (her heart stopped).

Both of them are okay now, but it definitely has me thinking about my body in ways I haven’t before.

So, my work has a thing where you can meet with a student who’s working toward becoming a personal trainer for $25. They talk to you, watch you do some stuff and then draw up a little plan for you.

Fitbit that has lasted three years so far/ One of the best albums ever created / Favorite water bottle / Best ever knock off air pods

So my plan is to take a picture each day for 30 days at the gym. I have 5 workouts each week, so that means that I should be done with that by April 8, when I’ll also share what I’ve lost – pounds and inches – if any, and what I’ve gained – I’m hoping stamina, energy, and grace.

If you want to follow along during, I’m going to post to Instagram at least once a week. Help me stay accountable, folks!

A. Rose (1)

2020 Intentions

One of my dearest friends referred to her plans for the near year as “Intentions” rather than “Resolutions” and I find that phrasing much more appealing. I actually “resolve” to do many things throughout the course of the year and, as a result, I’ve always had a hard time setting any “New Years Resolutions.” This feels much more accurate.

Physical Health

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The first bit surrounds the idea of physical health. In the last few years, you may remember, I had my gallbladder removed, experimented with an elimination diet and sought peace surrounding the idea of eating in new and different ways. I’ve had an easier process than many individuals, but I am still learning – always learning!

Last summer I ran from my apartment (3.28 miles) to my parents in 42 minutes. My goal for the start of summer is to be able to get there in 32 minutes. I need to take some weight off in order to do that, so I’ve switched up my meal plan, have been trying to walk for my entire lunch break, and go to the gym three times a week. I met with a personal trainer through a really cool program at the university I work with and she’s creating a plan for me. I think I’ll try to keep a record of it here or on Instagram.

Summary:
Eating more plants and lean protein
Walking for entire lunch break
Gym three times a week
Track progress here

Mental Health

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If you’ve been here for a while, you know that some of how I keep myself from having a total breakdown from overload is by being really super organized. You might also know that I think being organized doesn’t save you from the crap life throws at you. This semester, I’ve come up with a couple strategies that I think I’ll detail once I’ve used them for longer. I’m sticking with the class management technique that I talked about here. I’ve also started meal planning for more than a month at a time and I’m working on creating a weekly routine.

Summary:
Keeping school organized
Managing Expectations
More-than-a-month meal plan
Weekly routine

Emotional / Spiritual Health

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I really wish this wasn’t my most challenging category, but it is.
I could have lumped this in with mental health, but I like things in threes, so here we are.
What I’ve come to figure out is that none of it is separate. That hour-long lunch break walk is as much about physical health as it mental and spiritual. Creating a weekly routine is what will help me take a sabbath day. I want to challenge myself to meditate and do yoga more. There are so many things that are about the spirit that I put to the bottom of the list. And so my real intention is to stop doing that. Here’s my little plan for that:

Summary
Embrace the weekly plan
Use the free counseling at work
Go to church more than twice a year
Meditate
Write for fun, not just for school

Summary of the summaries

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I’m working my way back to blogging regularly and I hope I can use it as a way to hold myself accountable through the last stages of my graduate program. There’s this myth that your education needs to be this insufferably hard, unkind dragon that you have to slay. I don’t think that needs to be the case, and so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

A. Rose (1)

Quiet Spaces | A Year in Review

It’s been over a year since I posted. 13 months.

I couldn’t tell you the all of what has happened in the last 13 months, but I can make a vague attempt.

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The 2018 holidays came and went. My father was sick and my second oldest sister, M, came to visit. Time moved faster than I could keep up with. I started a new job a week into a new school year.

January 2019 (1)

Hat Pattern (crochet)| Similar coat | Coveralls | Boots

The Polar Vortex swept through the part of Michigan I live in and the second week of my new job was spent snow blowing my parents’ driveway after clearing their roof. The lowest this area reach was a windchill of -20. The combo of a new job and two classes meant that I spent a lot of January exhausted and sleeping a lot.

I did find that being outside – even though it was below freezing! – did make the winter more bearable. And I mentally committed to being outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.

February 2019

In addition to committing to being outside more, D and I also committed to spend more time together laughing. With both of us working full time, me in school part time and him working part time, our time together often turns into what feels like managing business – schedules and bills and list of tasks. While we’re together because we handle those together well, we’re also together because we really like each other. Once a month we spend more than the typically dinner-date-night might cost and ride Go Karts or take a drive up north – something a little different than the usual.march-2019-1.png

Similar Faux Deer Fur Blanket |Light Blue Blanket | Similar Cream Colored Blanket| Tennis Shoes  | Favorite Socks

In March, the snow lifted and the weather warmed up enough to be able to be outside more. I began to realize that I wasn’t sleeping well and focused my energy on making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I bought some faux fur on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and sewed it around a $4 pillow I got a Walmart. It’s amazing how quick and easy this was – and much cheaper than it would have cost to buy it.

I also decided – for the first time ever – to purchase tennis shoes / sneakers that were actually specific to my feet, rather than $20 grocery store ones. Y’all. I’m never going back again. These are the most amazing shoes ever.

April 2019 (1)

The shoes took me through the trails by my apartment, and then the trails that lead to my parents house a few miles away, down bike trails, to new cities. At the end of the school year I told D I wanted to spend the summer getting my money’s worth out of the shoes, so we started the process of seeing all the lighthouses in Michigan. By the end of summer, we had only seen six, but everything else we saw made it completely worth it.

May 2019

Spice Rack | Pitcher| Earring Holder | Best Price Earring Pack

I tried to spend the summer both playing as much as possible and organizing as much as possible before the school year came again. My best friend and her kids spent a good amount of the summer exploring woods and having picnics – basically heaven.

I got this spice rack so that I could move the spices off the bakers rack in the pantry to create more space. Holy smokes has it made a difference! I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to throw away expired spices because I actually look at what I have, rather than just letting things I don’t use often get pushed to the back and buried.

I’ve also become completely hooked on tassel earrings so I bought this little earring rack and it quickly helped clear off my end table. Both this earring rack and the spice rack were under $15 and super quick ways to clear away clutter.

June 2019

One of the hardest parts of being not in Florida is being way from the Ocean. D’s way of managing that is to put me near water as often as possible. This summer, we spent a lot of time in his hometown, about an hour away from where we live. It’s a small lake community surrounded by farms and where he actually lived backed up to a national park. We went there to go swimming, hiking, mudding and picnicking. We’ve been talking about going camping there this summer – I’m totally open to any recommendations for tents! We’d love to get one this winter, rather than waiting until the summertime.

July 2019

We followed in the same vein all summer and learned how to kayak. Folks, let me tell you if you need to work through communication issues in your relationship, just get in a double kayak with your partner. I think D and I learned more in a four-hour ride than we have in four years of being together. It was amazing. We took six trips this summer, but the first was the most memorable.

D got super into bike riding this summer too. I like to ride bikes, but I would rather walk / run. So, he spent a lot of time riding and took me with him only for particularly spectacular trips. The trail pictured above isn’t far from our apartment.

August 2019 (1)

Both D and I have birthdays in August and so we decided that we would take a trip up north. In Michigan, “up north” refers to anywhere that’s more than an hour and a half from the big city of Grand Rapids. We stayed at a delightful place called Caberfe and our only real goal was to get to Traverse City. We hiked around the Pine River, kayaked the Crystal River, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes and crossed the Mackinac Bridge. It was an amazing three days, packed full of more adventure than either of could have anticipated and I am itching for this summers’ trip!

September 2019 (1)

The week school started, my sister, M, came to visit, which overlapped with my college best friend coming to visit. I worked while they were both here, but managed to get out on the river with both of them more than once. It was a beautiful end to the summer but playtime overlapping with school was much was a major challenge. Just before my sister arrived, my mother broke her shoulder. It was a jumble of things and I’m only just now feeling like I’ve caught up. I think much of the jumbled feeling had to do with resisting winter.

Last year, I did a better job of embracing it. This year, I still don’t believe it’s happening to me because I just want to be on the river.

October 2019 (1)

I got sick in October – just your standard cold that knocks you on your ass for a week and lingers for another two. Ugh. So I spent a lot of it in bed, with Javier and my homework. At the start of the school year, D and I planned to take a Friday off at the mid-point of each semester. We rented a car and just drove up to Glen Arbor, MI for lunch. We ate at the Western Avenue Grill, in front of a fireplace. We stopped in a town called Arcadia just for the view. It was a gloomy Friday, but neither of us cared. It was nice to get a little time together where my head wasn’t wrapped up in school.

November 2019 (1)

There were many amazing November things but none really hold a candle to registering for graduation. That’s right folks, assuming all goes well when I submit my problem statement for review this Sunday – and barring any emergencies – I will be graduating April 25, 2020.

December 2019

I came down with the flu after Thanksgiving and missed a week of work and added in a hospital visit (for fluids) the first week of December. While I was sick, my father started to get confused. My mother thought he was having a stroke, so she took him in. It ended up being that he had major blockage in his Cortaid artery, which has since been cleared. It was scary and the surgery was two Mondays before Christmas. The holiday was a little off and we actually still have Christmas presents to give out and the tree is still up. All things in time.

It’s good to review the year. I haven’t had as many spaces for reflection as I might have hoped.

A friend of mine recommended creating an “After Graduation List,” to keep me going through my final project. On that list is developing this blog into something meaningful and helpful. So, I’ll be back again in a month, and another month and then April. And then after that, I’ll be back with much greater frequency.

A. Rose (1)

Updated Day in the Life: 2018

I have no shame when it comes to my fascination with peoples day in the life posts. I love them. I love biographies and I love schedules, so it kind of makes perfect sense.

When I did one of these in January, I actually learned a lot about my life. It seems a little soon to be doing another one, but a whole heck of a lot has changed since that last post and I think I need to do it for me, more than for you (though I do hope you find it interesting). My class was actually cancelled this passed Monday so I was able to actually devote some time to this little blog. It felt nice to put this down on paper.

Here’s a peek at a usual Monday. I may also do a Tuesday and a weekend day, just for my own sake, if you’re interested.


5:15am – The alarm goes off & I roll out of bed. D gets up at 5:15 now and is not quiet at all.

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He gets himself ready and I take a laundry basket I’d sorted and filled the night before downstairs to the washer. I pull out D’s protein shake; unload and reload the dishwasher and then make my lunch.

5:40am – D says goodbye & I keep cleaning.

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I pour myself a glass of ice water and a protein shake and head downstairs to switch the laundry. When I come back up, I set a timer for an hour, empty (and reload) the dishwasher and wipe up the kitchen counters. I also defrost any meat I might need for a crock pot meal.

By 6:05am – Yoga

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This is, by far, the greatest part of waking up early. I do 30 minutes of yoga almost every single morning. In the past, I was trying to do it when I came home from work, but I would end up feeling like something else was more pressing, or thinking that yoga was something I “had” to do, rather than wanted to do. At that time in the morning, I’m too tired to know the difference, so I just get it done.

6:40am – Shower

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True story: I’ve started brushing my teeth in the shower and I don’t even care if people think that’s weird. I don’t actually have buckets of time in the morning even though it seems like I should because I jam so many things into. So, I start brushing my teeth while I get my hair wet, wash my hair with my toothbrush still in my mouth, and then finish brushing while I rinse my hair. It sounds ridiculous. Whatever. It’s working.

6:55am – Get dressed.

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Similar Dress

Usually, I pick out my clothes in my head while I’m in the shower. If I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out my clothes the night before or if I’m feeling like a total over achiever, I’ll pick out a weeks worth on Sunday (the weather lately has been way too unpredictable for that though). So, I get dressed and make the bed while I’m in the bedroom. Then, I give myself until 7:10 to get dinner going in the crock pot.

7:10am – Hair and make up

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I don’t know why I set an alarm on my FitBit for 7:10, but I did. I use it as the signal to go brush my hair and put some make up on. It’s working, so I don’t totally question it. I try to keep my make up simple – mascara, blush, a little eye shadow – and lately I’ve just been brushing my hair and then going. Once the snow comes, I’ll go back to blow drying / curling it, but for now, I’m giving my hair a break.

7:20am – Finish dinner / Start breakfast and lunch

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I know – confusing, right? Whatever I stopped doing at 7:10 to do my make up, I finish up, and then I pull together both breakfast and lunch.
I start drinking that protein shake usually just before I start yoga and I finish it on my way to work, so that drink plus a bunch of fruit is usually my breakfast. Lunch is typically vegetables and some cheese. Then, I also pack some crunchy things for snacks – popcorn and rice cakes. I also usually have a banana and something + hummus because I have class at night.

7:30am – head to work!

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I have about a 30 minute drive to work and my boss is really flexible about when we arrive. I try to be as close to on time as possible, but realistically, I have to drive through corn fields and if I get stuck behind a piece of farm equipment going 25 mph in a 55 mph… well, it is what it is. *shrug*
I have a little walk in from the parking lot and I try to use the time to text my best friend. My schedule is really jam-packed right now, so I don’t get to see her a ton and I miss her a lot, all the time. This helps a little and I hope it helps her know that I haven’t forgotten about her; I’m just slammed.

8am-ish – arrive at work

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I’ve started making my morning about something other than checking emails. I used to come in and be bogged down with emails for the first three hours of the day. Instead, I go through and clear out any spam emails, color code what’s in there (this takes about 5 minutes), respond to anything immediate (i.e. from the Director or my boss) and then start in a project.

10:00am – break time.

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I go outside for my break and text my bestie back. I like to physically leave the building because it helps me clear my mind (and get some steps in). I usually call my mom and ask about her day and what’s she’s planning to do. It’s nice to have a structured, quick check-in with her and my dad, so that I’m always in the loop.

10:15am – back to those emails

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I spend a pretty good chunk of the day in emails. There’s nothing fun or exciting about this.

12pm-ish – Lunch break!

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I don’t really eat lunch on my lunch break. On Mondays, I usually do work on the blog; Tuesdays and Thursdays I do homework; and Wednesdays and Fridays I do work on the book I’m ghostwriting. If it’s sunny, I sit outside. If not, there’s a great room in the building I work in that’s full of windows and I like to be there.

1pm – Meeting with my boss

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This is my actual boss

Every other Monday I meet with my boss. If you’re able to have a regularly scheduled meeting with them just to talk, I highly recommend it. We go over the projects I’m working on, how things are going in the office, with school and in my life. It helps me to stay grounded. I usually write myself notes throughout the two weeks and then use those to guide me through our conversation so that I don’t forget anything.

2:30pm– back to work again!

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I work on a team with two other people, not including my supervisor. We tend to collaborate for a little while, divvy up the work, then come back together later. We work in a cool space that was built with our process in mind. So, we collaborate for a little while, then jump into what needs to be done.
This is also when I usually eat my lunch.

3:30pm – break time!

I walk around the building and make a call to the doctors office about an upcoming appointment. The building is big, but only takes 3-5 minutes to get around. I walk around it 3 times, then head back in.

3:45pm – cleaning up.

There’s about an hour and 15 minutes left of the day. I use the time to comb back through emails and attend to anything I might have missed. I finish up whatever I can on what I was working on. Then, I make a list of what needs to get done tomorrow, followed by what it would be nice to have done by tomorrow. That way, when I leave, I can really, truly leave because the tasks are somewhere other than just my brain.

5:00pm – closing time

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I shut everything down and walk across the sidewalk to the building where my class is. There’s an hour before it starts, but there’s a semester-long project for this class, so my group meets every Monday from 5pm – 6pm. The two women I’m working with are awesome! They’re so funny and smart and dedicated to what we’re doing. I’m really fortunate to be part of a group like this; it makes the work so simple.

6:00pm – class time!

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The classroom buildings are all full of leaves this time of year

Our desks are arranged in a semi-circle, because the professor prefers we’re in discussion with each other. This week, we’re talking about Social Identity Development. I love listening to peoples stories of their backgrounds and what resonated with them about the theories.

7:15pm – break!

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He’s been helping me study lately

Because the class goes until 9pm, the professor gives us a break in the middle to use the restroom, get food, whatever. I call D. It’s the first time since he left this morning that I get to talk to him. I only have 10 minutes so I quickly ask about how work was, and what he did after work. He asks me the same. I tell him not to wait up for me.

7:25pm – group activity!

This professor really values collaboration, so in addition to our semester-long group project, we also break into groups (different than our semester-group) to talk through different theories. Each group is usually assigned one theory that we read about and has to give an overview to the rest of the class. It helps us get to know each other and puts the theories into accessible language, which is super helpful!

9:00pm – Time to head home!

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It’s a short walk to my car, and then a 20-25 minute drive home (since there’s no traffic). I usually text D and let him know I’m on my way since most of my drive is through the country with no street lights. The deal is: if I’m not home by 9:45, he comes to find me.

9:30pm – HOME

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Finally! I hug the cat and sneak into the bedroom to give D (who’s already asleep) a kiss. He’s turned off the crock pot so it can cool, and left me a plate of food in the microwave. He also cleaned the family room and tidied up the kitchen table and bedroom. I sit down on the couch and eat real quick while I look at social media.

10:20pm – Bedtime

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After I take care of the dinner dishes, etc., I change into jammies and get into bed. D has been asleep so I change the TV from his show to mine (which right now is Pretty Little Liars, for the 10 millionth time). I usually make it about 30 minutes into an episode before I notice my eyes drooping. I put on the sleep timer and my eye mask and knock out, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

 

 

One Month | One Year

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything here. I feel like the month of October didn’t slip away from me – it ran at full force.

So, a quick recap?

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The leaves started to change colors here around the start of the month. I can’t believe that I forgot the vibrancy of autumn. I know that I’m in a new place, but you think I would remember, wouldn’t you?

There’s something exciting about the idea that the world is about to close up and be blanketed in perfect sheets of white snow. There’s also something horrible about the idea that I’m now driving to work in the dark and soon will be driving home in the dark too. #notinlove

I’ve been using this calendar to meal plan and it’s freaking saving my life (this is also the calendar that I use for my general monthly calendar). I’ve never meal planned a whole month at a time before and I am totally in love. It’s legit the greatest. I promise there’s a post coming about how and why I meal plan my month like that.

I also made this cute, inexpensive jewelry/hat/coat hanger for my favorite 9 year old’s birthday. I had some scrap wood that I painted pink with craft paint, drilled 10 holes in it, bought these drawer pulls and painted her name on it! I believe I took enough pictures to do a step-by-steps if folks are interested.

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I also made myself this little printable and have been using it to clear out my brain and keep track of my life. It’s helping a ton. I was thinking that I would share a blank version of it, but I’m not sure the best way to go about that? Any tips?

I had my three favorite kiddos over for a shrinky dink party the other day and that was basically the greatest thing ever. I’d never done them before and seriously – I had as much fun as they did!

It was the first time I had seen them in a long time. I’ve been buried in work, other work and school. It felt so good to turn my brain off for the night and just be present with them. Grad School Pro Tip: schedule time doing simple things with people who make you feel good. Seriously. Schedule it. Schedule it and don’t let things get in the way of the plan. You need that shit.

I’ve made some exciting changes in my house recently, but the most exciting (to me) is this amazing pantry change. It’s going to be a process to get it together, I would imagine. So, keep your eyes peeled for something soon!

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My rockstar mom took me to the ER at 4am

And, truthfully, a good portion of my life has been going towards health – maintaining balance and changing things that hurt. It’s been a year, today, since I had my gallbladder out. Much of my desire to keep this little blog going has had to do with trying to make sense of my life now that I’m down an organ.

It’s been a weird and complicated year. I’m grateful to be able to say that I understand my body differently than I ever have before. And I’m grateful to share that things are getting easier – I have a much better sense of what hurts and what doesn’t, and what’s going to be painful in the long-run.

I’ve decided I’d like to keep as many organs as possible, so I’m hoping to be able to talk through what that means for my life right now soon.

All things in due time, folks. I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.

A. Rose (1)