Sunday, July 30, 2017

Setting Intentions for Sleeping, Exercising, and Cooking

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I’m slowing doing more self-care on my “summatical” from work.  If last week was about doing nothing, this week was more about setting intentions

One of my goals during my leave is to rehabilitate my sleeping habits.  The last couple of years, I have slowly let little bad habits creep into my life.  One of them was going to bed later and later, which causes less sleep.  I’m one of those people who wake up when the sun comes up, no matter what.  So going to bed later still meant I was up with the sun and getting less sleep.  That was not okay.  Many studies have shown that getting enough sleep is helpful for everything from stress management to weight management.  It’s not a coincidence that I weigh the most that I’ve ever weighed in my adult life.  I have been sleeping so much more since my leave.  Not only that, but I feel like the quality of my sleep is better.  Without work, my mind is able to shut down rather than keep churning, even when I’m trying to sleep.  On Monday morning I was so excited when I woke up and realized that I had slept nine hours! 

Above photo is from Sunday evening.  Todd knew about this two mile trail near our house and didn't tell me until now! We took a 2.5 mile round trip walk after dinner and it was so nice! I can't believe he didn't tell me about the trail earlier!

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Another exciting thing that I started very successfully this week was regular exercising every day.  I started a six week program called “Walk Strong”. 

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I had been sporatically doing Jessica Smith’s “Walk On: 5 Fat Burning Miles” DVD for a year and a half.  I love the workouts she puts together.  It’s do-able and quite fun.  So I decided to do this Walk Strong 6 Week Total Transformation System, because I don’t want to have to put my own plan together, or even think about what exercise I should do.  I want someone else to tell me what to do for six weeks, and this was perfect.  While I thought this program was very do-able for me, a couple of the workouts this week really kicked my a$$ and made me sore!  Third day into the workout program and my quads & glutes were sore.  It’s no joke!  The Total Body Training on Tuesday and Barefoot Fusion Sculpt on Thursday were deceptively a$$-kicking.  I saw “Barefoot Fusion Sculpt” and thought it would be easy. So hard! I'm great with the cardio. By put weights in my hands and add squatting and leg movements in, I'm done.  But this is great because that’s what I wanted:  an exercise program that tells me what to do each day, and challenges me and works out my entire body.  So far so good, except I’m taking a ton of showers, ha ha.

I think it’s really important to intentionally change your mindset about exercising in order for it to become a regular part of your life.  Regular exercising is not about losing weight or HAVING to do it.  It’s about intentionally valuing your body as it is, and all the wonderful things that it can do.  It is time that you get to take care of yourself and feel good about doing something good for yourself.  It’s easy to get frustrated with exercising if the end-goal is to lose weight, because that’s probably not going to happen right away.  But with consistency you will see and feel a big difference. 

Another intention I have during my leave is to cook more.  As my regular blog readers know, Todd is the primary chef of our family.  I did a six-month stint of making a new dish every week.  But I don’t cook regularly.  It’s not because I can’t or don’t know how.  It’s because I have been spoiled by a husband who is really good at making amazing meals.  Now that I am on leave from work, I am doing it more!

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Tofu with baby bok choy and bamboo shoots.

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Salmon with corn and pepper relish.

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I also cleaned more this week.  Cleaning is really not one of my favorite things to do in the world, but it’s necessary.  Vacuuming and cleaning the shower is not my idea of a good time!  I think one thing we should consider is to hire a regular cleaning person after I return to work.  Why not outsource something that we don’t enjoy doing, so that we can spend time doing what we enjoy doing??  We already have a gardener who comes twice a month so that we don’t have to do yardwork.  (We do NOT enjoy yardwork.)  Why not a cleaning person?  I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to consider this!  Outsourcing things that you do not enjoy doing and saves you time helps with stress levels tremendously, and is money well-spent in my opinion. 

There’s a reason that I am calling all these items above INTENTIONS, rather than goals.  I’m a very goal-oriented person by nature.  I often get frustrated if I do goal-oriented tasks and yet I don’t achieve my goals.  And then I stop doing them.  I want these things to be intentions, because I now believe that the “input” into these things is more important than the “output”.  We can’t always control the output.  I can exercise every day and eat pretty well regularly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I will lose weight.  But I can always feel good that I am doing my best for my body on a consistent basis!  The “input” part is all I can control.  Hopefully in the long run I will see a good “output”, but that’s really not the measurement of success.  My consistent inputs are the measurement of success.  It’s taken me all my life to learn this!  I’m excited for this mindset change and working on my intentional inputs into my life during my leave of absence.

Other fun things I did this week…

Reason #371 that I am loving my leave from work:  impromptu lunch date with friends! Pearl texted me on Thursday at 10am and was like, "I know it's last minute but can you have lunch?". And I was like, "Girrrrrrl, yes! I'm not working so I do impromptu lunches!" I would never be able to have these experiences if I were working!  We met up for a pho lunch, and chatted non-stop for 2 hours.  So thankful for these types of experiences.

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On a side note: I'm letting my salt & pepper hair grow out. I don't feel like at my age I need to hide my pretty silver hairs. I don't feel old for having them, and I earned each and every one of them. Now, I may add pink streaks in soon, but not because I want to hide the gray. Because, PINK HAIR.

On Wednesday I went to watch Todd’s softball team play again.  They are the Mean Green Peace Machine (MGPM) and they played Natty Ice.  My long-time friend Daryl happens to play on Natty Ice, so I got to see hm and have a nice chat with him too.  It was really fun.  Except MGPM lost in the last inning.  So I am no longer considered a good luck charm for Todd’s team! 

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Yesterday Todd & I went to try a new Chinese dumpling restaurant called “Steamy Piggy”.  

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We had the Dan Dan Noodles (spicy and mouth-numbing!).

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The Piggy Bao.  The meat was really good, but the bao was surprisingly tough and not soft, like I’m used to.

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The pork & chives dumplings were the star of the show.  We ate one order and had to put another order in to get more of them.  Yummy!

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Then afterwards Todd wanted to try Camellia Road Tea Bar.  He had heard that the tea is the star of the show at this new boba tea place, and that was a correct assessment.  I got the black milk tea with bobas and Todd got the Jasmine green milk tea with bobas.  Both are really great.

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We also went to the bike store because Todd wanted to try some triathlon suits, but they didn’t have any at the store.  They had taken them all to the triathlon expo in Encinitas.  So we went to the swim store and Todd got some silicone ear plugs and nose clips.  (Staples in his swimming repertoire!) 

Other things I enjoyed this week:

  • Air-drying my hair
  • Cut my own bangs
  • Cleaned out some fountain pens and refilled them with cool new inks
  • Watched So You Think You Can Dance, Game of Thrones, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Grace & Frankie, Sneaky Pete, and The Aviator
  • Finished book “Talking As Fast As I Can” by Lauren Graham
  • Took naps

Todd is taking this upcoming week off, so we are looking forward to some staycation fun together!  He is also doing a 50 mile bike ride at Big Bear Lake, which I’m looking forward to, since we’ve never been there before. 

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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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