Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Week of Doing Nothing was Everything

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As soon as my boss approved my two month leave of absence from work, I knew one thing.  The first week of my leave was going to be a “Week of Nothing”.  No plans. No “I should do this”.  No time constraints.  I was planning nothing and doing whatever I wanted, or not doing anything at all.  There would be no arbitrary deadline I’ve set for myself.  All I have to say about this past week is this:  It was quite possibly the best week of my adult life.  It beats going to Hawaii all these years.  It beats all the times I planned my days/week off.  Planning nothing was the best thing ever.  It’s against everything I am as an adult, but it was wonderful.

I went to bed whenever I got tired.  Some days it was earlier.  Some days I stayed up to read books or watch TV.  I got up whenever.  I made breakfasts, along with my homemade cold brew coffee.

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Or I ate an ice cream bar for breakfast.  Because who says I can’t?

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Most mornings start off as you see in the first photo.  Breakfast, coffee, laptop for blog reading, with Noodle hanging out nearby.  It was tranquil, peaceful, and delightful.  By the second day of my leave, I ordered a few more pairs of pull-on drawstring lounge shorts from Amazon.  Because if I’m not going anywhere this summer, these super comfy sweat shorts are what I’m wearing at home.  My “loungiform”, ha!  And usually I feel bad if I haven’t changed out of them by noon.  Not this summer.  Them lounge shorts are what I am wearing when I’m at home.  Do you see a pattern here?  As an adult, I have set up some arbitrary rules for myself without even thinking they would cause me some sort of mental stress.  Why should I feel guilty or bad about wearing sweat shorts all day if I’m just going to be at home?  Why these rules???

I noticed a change even the first weekend (last weekend):  weekend time already felt different and slower. Usually even weekends are slightly stressful for me due to my long chore list of cleaning, organizing, vacuuming, laundry, groceries, etc. Since we could only do these things on the weekends, they become packed with unpleasant chores. But now that I can do these things on the weekdays, not getting all the laundry folded and put away on Saturday night is not stressful!  In fact, folding laundry on Monday morning was awesome!

The thing I noticed over and over again during the week was how much of my ongoing stress was pressure that I have put upon myself.  One morning I felt bad because I hadn’t exercised by 10am.  Who says I have to exercise and shower by a certain time?  I guess that’d be me.  I let it go. 

On Tuesday I went to the grocery store.  Pretty sure that the amount of joy & giddiness I got out of grocery shopping in the middle of the day was not normal. The good employees at Sprouts were probably thinking "weirdo lady in aisle 5 smiling to herself". If you live in SoCal then you would understand how rare it is for me to drive up to a store and have my pick of parking spaces. Then not having a line at checkout. I was seriously grinning ear to ear. The fact that I had chocolate and ice cream in my cart didn't hurt either!

Third day into my leave and I had no doubt whatsoever that this was EXACTLY what I needed. When was the last time that I did nothing in a day and did not feel guilty? I haven't felt this lack of pressure since… I don't even remember when. Why is it not ok to just be? If I'm at work I'm worried about all the things I haven't done that I need to do. If I'm watching TV I'm worried about the housework I haven't done. If I take naps I stressed about floors not vacuumed or bills not downloaded and paid. Let this be a lesson to me. I don't know how to change it yet, but I will be trying to figure it out for myself before I return to work in two months.

I did start adding things to the “Leave List” by Thursday though.  I think the first item I added was “Watch all the Matt Damon movies I haven't seen yet.”

I did leave the house a few times.

On Wednesday evening I was very excited to finally see Todd and his softball team play a game. I'm usually at work or just getting home. They won big and Todd hit, scored, and caught a flyball in the outfield. And I got to meet a few of his teammates. Fun!

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They won really big, like 20-3 or something.  They’ve never scored that much before.  The team captain told Todd that I was the good luck charm and I should go to every game! I said well for the rest of this season I can!  #listgirlonleave

On Thursday night we had a date night for Summer Chef Dinner at Rancho Bernardo Inn

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There was waaaaaay too much food, so we got to take a bunch home. 

Yellowfin tuna nori roll and Baja ceviche.

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Crab & chorizo slider and prime short rib.

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Grilled center cut ribeye and oysters rockefeller.

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Key lime cheesecake.

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I did eat the cheesecake, but brought most of the rest home and ate it for a couple more days!

We went out to lunch yesterday to a new place called Wakou Ramen & Yakitori

We had the carnitas bao bao.

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The black garlic ramen.

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And the chicken thighs yakitori.20170722-2017-07-22 13.11.25_blog

We liked it.  The bao baos were the best thing and we’ll definitely be eating that again.  Yum.

We had a bookstore date yesterday afternoon. 

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And I renewed my library card, while Todd got a new library card (he had used mine before).  Since it’s Comic Con week here in San Diego, we got special Comic Con International library cards!  These are the awesomest things ever and I’m so excited that we got the special library cards!

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And I played with my new glass dip pen and new fountain pen ink samples from Goulet Pens.  I had so much fun!

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This really was the best week ever.  It was everything I had hoped for and imagined.  Noodle also loved having me at home every day.  He has started a campaign to lobby for me becoming a SAHCM!

I’m starting to put together my Leave List and filling my calendar with some things.  I don’t think I will have seven more weeks like this past week, but hopefully they will be fun-filled and not so much pressure to accomplish something.  I will share more of my “plans” in the near future. 

I’m so thankful for this past week.  My week of doing nothing, was everything.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Party Like It’s 1988

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Todd took this photo of me on Friday evening, July 14th.  Tomorrow will be the start of something beautiful.  Something exciting.  Something I haven’t had the opportunity to experience since 1988.  Tomorrow is the start of my two month leave of absence from work. 

The last time I had a two month break without school or work (or both at the same time, during college and grad school) was 1988.  To say that I am excited is an understatement.

So how did we get to this point?  Years of hard work and stress.  I am an intrinsically motivated person, so I always do my best and do a good job in anything I do.  I can’t help it.  But that also leads to a ton of pressure on myself.  Couple that with deadline after deadline at work, and piles of work dumped on me the last 1.5 years.  Well, I just needed a break.  I celebrated 24 years of working in my finance/accounting job on June 28th.  I have never taken more than a week off at a time during those 24 years.  I have always worked the month-end, quarter-end, and year-end grind.  I’ve never taken those days between Christmas and New Year off, because it was always year-end closing time for accounting & finance people.  After all this time of working, I just needed a longer break to totally disconnect from work, recharge, reboot, and reset myself.  My hope is that I will be well-rested and be excited to go back to work again. 

My company doesn’t have a sabbatical benefit, so my two months of leave is unpaid.  But I am at a point in my life where I have managed to save up some money, so I am able to take this time off without financial hardship.  Todd and I don’t have kids, and we have lived below our means for years.  We have purposefully done this so that we don’t both feel the pressure of having to work.  We’ve always told each other that in reality only one of us has to work, so if one of us ever really feel that we dislike our job a lot, we could just leave it.  I don’t dislike my job so much that I want to completely leave it.  I just want a break!  I am calling this my “Summatical”, a combination of “Summer Sabbatical”! 

Of course, my Type A personality means that I will actually have to make an effort to relax.  I’m serious.  I do have a running list of things I would like to do while I am on this two month leave.  I will share it soon.  But for now, I’m gonna party like it’s 1988.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Outfit Roundup | Vol. 1

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I blogged back in mid-January about how I’m learning to mix-and-match my wardrobe and participating in the Putting Me Together Winter Style Challenge.  I plan to make this a semi-regular series of posts.  Today is a roundup of what I wore the last week of January and the first couple of weeks of February.  The style challenge ended at the end of January, so my outfits in February have been my own formulas and stylings.  I’m still using the Stylebook App to keep track of my clothing inventory and putting outfits together.

This was everything I wore in January 2017, in calendar form.

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Monday 1/23 – patterned button-up + jeans + neutral cardigan + black boots

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Tuesday 1/24 – solid button-up + neutral solid sweater + colored corduroy + cognac leather jacket + cognac riding boots

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Wednesday 1/25 – solid tee + light colored solid sweater + bootcut jeans + colored corduroy blazer + black loafers

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Thursday 1/26 – solid dress + neutral blazer + neutral scarf + black tights + black riding boots

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Friday 1/27 – neutral sweater + neutral corduroy + black vest + black clogs

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Sunday 1/29 – colored blouse + neutral pants + light tan booties

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Monday 1/30 – ombre tee + dark skinny jeans + neutral blazer + gray booties

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Tuesday 1/31 – striped tee + neutral corduroy skirt + neutral blazer + nude heels

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Wednesday 2/1 – white tank + solid hoodie + neutral skirt + white vest + navy Converse

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Thursday 2/2 – neutral tee + neutral corduroy pants + white cardigan + cognac booties

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Friday 2/3 – striped shirt + black jeans + neutral blazer + black riding boots (one of my fave outfits – wore this to interview job candidates)

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Sunday 2/5 – white tee + bright colored sweater + dark skinny jeans + black vest + black booties (wore this to go out for Todd’s birthday dinner)

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Monday 2/6 – recycled same outfit above, except with navy vest + cognac Uggs

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Tuesday 2/7 – striped shirt + colored corduroy skinny pants + neutral blazer + cognac riding boots (interviewed another candidate for our open position)

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Wednesday 2/8 – striped sweatshirt + skinny jeans + red vest + watch + black Skechers

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Thursday 2/9 – colored plaid popover shirt + jean skirt + black vest + black Skechers

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Friday 2/10 – solid tee + striped shirt + light bootcut jeans + pink vest + striped Keds

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If you are exploring with fashion and how to mix-and-match clothes, maybe the above could give you some outfit formula inspiration.  Obviously winters in San Diego are pretty mild.  I noticed that my go-to formula usually involves a striped shirt and a blazer or a vest. 

I’ve learned a few things the beginning of January about mixing and matching clothes:

  • It’s important to have different colored bottoms!  (Jeans, pants, skirts)  If you only have blue jeans and neutral pants/skirts, it would be difficult to make outfits look different.
  • “Completer” pieces such as blazers, cardigans, vests, and jackets really make the outfit standout.  And make them different.
  • Accessories such as necklaces, scarfs, and watches also make an outfit unique and completes it.
  • Wearing clothes that fit your body is so important.  If the clothes are too small, they actually make you look bigger than you are.  (For a long time I wore clothes that were my old smaller size and was always dissatisfied with how I looked.  Now I’m wearing a size larger but look much better!)  If the clothes are too big, they make you look sloppy.  I still need to learn more about the different body shapes and how to dress to flatter my body shape.

Hope you are having a good February.  Talk to you at the next Outfit Roundup!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Monthly Memories | January 2017

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I decided on a new name for my monthly recaps, because “Best of” seems to indicate that everything I write about was the best of the month… And sometimes things happen and they really were not “the best” at all, but still worth remembering.  So for 2017 this series will be called “Monthly Memories”.

It rained A LOT in San Diego during January.  So much that we made HUGE progress on eliminating the draught we’re having.  But tons of rain also meant lots of hibernating at home.  I posted this status to Facebook some time in mid_January:

I feel SO cozy right now. I think I'm mastering hygge! I'm dressed in my soft fleece cardigan, pajama pants, and fuzzy slippers. Sitting under a soft blanket in my recliner. Having honey lavender tea with my piece of Dove dark chocolate. Reading free magazines through Kindle Prime on my iPad, while enjoying the scent of birthday cake in my Scentsy wax warmer. The little things ALL add up to make a wonderful warm Saturday evening on a winter's day.

In January the San Diego Chargers decided to move to Los Angeles after being in San Diego for 55 years.  That’s pretty sad.

Our Buckeyes lost badly to Clemson in the NCAA Football championship semi-final game.  Clemson went on to beat Alabama and won the title. 

I was so busy at work in January.  I was basically doing two people’s jobs.  At least my manager got budget approval to hire another financial planning analyst, and the job got posted.  I will be interviewing three people on Friday, after my manager did about 10 phone interviews and narrowed the field down.  So, should I ask the candidates, “Are you the droid we’re looking for?”  =))

At least I had this kind of view on a clear day from my desk.

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Also, I can sit at my desk.

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Or I can stand at my desk.  When they remodeled we got all new furniture and the desk has buttons to electronically rise and fall.  Oh and I also have a personal refrigerator.

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On the weekends we went outside walking whenever it wasn’t raining.  We went to the beach twice.

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And we went to the lake.

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On one of those beach walks, we had lunch at Bongiornos afterwards.  Yummy.  We hadn’t gone in a while.

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On the other beach walk day, we had lunch at En Fuego.  Todd gave me a “dining passport” type of book as one of my Christmas gifts, so that we could eat out and BOGO free.  And go on date nights.  The shrimp tacos at En Fuego were really good!

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We also ate at Lourdes Mexican after another beach walk (we must have gone three times!).  I love their chicken soup.

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And before the walk at the lake, we went to Chile Peppers for lunch.  Revisting an old fave!  Plus, we haven’t had a Todd Shot in a while, have we?

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We had dinner with Dejah & Roby at Amaya at the Grand Del Mar.

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Oh, the food!

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I bought new wood hangers and put all the clothes that are a part of the Putting Me Together Winter Style Challenge (which I blogged about here) on the upper part of my closet. 

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I’ll be blogging about my outfits that I wore for the 2nd half of January in a separate post.  I actually did not like the wood hangers, so I got some thin velvet hangers and used those for my lighter shirts.

We went out to dinner at Common Theory on a weeknight date night.  It was a rainy day but we went out anyways.  The mussels were delicious.

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The company was even better.

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We celebrated the Jan & Feb birthday girls at work.  I love celebrating with these beautiful, smart, and hardworking women!  They are engineers, product managers, financial analysts, event planners, product developers, computer programmers, salesperson, etc.  One of them even holds multiple technology patents!  So proud to call them friends. 

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We celebrated Chinese New Year at work with some treats.

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Todd and I discovered a new Indian restaurant called Curry And More.  They have really great lunch specials and the food is delicious.

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We cooked at home a lot too! 

Pilaf with chicken, spinach, and walnuts.

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Fast chicken chili with butternut squash.

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Black-eyed pea cakes with corn salsa.

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Tuscan-style potato soup.

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Veggie quinoa soup.

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Bean soup with sausage.

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Coconut-curry chicken soup.

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A ton of soups for a rainy and cold January!

Todd got periodontal surgery and was on a liquid diet for a couple of days.  He’s recovering nicely.

Noodle pretty much took naps in his beige bed all month, ha ha.

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On those rare sunny days, he really enjoyed it.

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Other cute photos.

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Lastly… something I’m very sad about and still think a lot about… my friend Monika passed away from brain cancer in January. 

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We found out she was hospitalized and Todd was able to go to the hospital to visit her and the family the next day, and then the day after that she was gone.  She was a good friend and so inspirational to so many people.  She did so much good with the 38 years that she was here on earth.  I will miss her and think of her often.  You can see her obituary here at Runner’s World.  Her conversation with Katie Couric on “Katie” is here on youtube.  And the interview with SELF magazine’s editor in chief is here.  An inspiring article about her at the San Diego Union Tribune.  I will always remember her and her indominable spirit.

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