Ain’t that the truth!

In preparation for my impending quarter-life crisis, I decided to write a list of 25 life lessons learned. I enlisted the help of my cohort Liz and here I present to you my list of 25 life lessons learned entitled “Ain’t that the truth!” Here they are in no particular order:

1. Google has the answer to everything.
2. The one meaningful piece of advice Steve Harvey has given America is for women to not give up “the cookie” – or sex – until they’ve hit the three-month dating mark. I now embrace “the cookie” and it has made all the difference.
3. Sometimes you have to forget what you feel and remember what you deserve.
4. Contrary to my naive 20-year-old self, money does in fact matter.
5. Family isn’t always biological.
6. In life, sometimes you have to put your big girl panties on and get ‘er done!
7. You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books. And that’s kind of the same thing.
8. Happiness is a choice; you can’t lead a positive life with a negative mind.
9. Never underestimate the power of a simple note just to say “hi” or “thank you”.
10. Spend money on making memories and experiences, not possessions.
11. Embrace solitude and take care of yourself first. Always.
12. Enjoy simple pleasures. A 32oz diet coke and a new bottle of nail polish work wonders for me.
13. UNO will bring out the worst in people. Side comment: I’ve become a HAWK in this game. No one, I mean NO ONE, will get away with switching out 6’s and 9’s on me.
14. Sometimes taking control is tackling a vat of chocolate chip cookie dough. To each her own.
15. The best jokes are the corny ones. “Even pacifists have the urge to “pass a fist” across someone’s face.” True life lesson here: all corny jokes are hilarious.
16. Water is the most essential element of life because without water you can’t make coffee.
17. I am well aware I’m not everyone’s cup of tea but I’d rather be someone’s shot of tequila anyways.
18. Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.
19. Fuck covers a range of emotions. Use it frequently.
20. You can’t change what you refuse to confront.
21. Well done is better than well said.
22. The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves.
23. An emergency on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part!
24. Oh, I don’t believe in holding grudges. I do, however, remember facts. Forever.
25. The best is yet to come…

We’ll see what life lessons the next few years bring…5 years to 30 (scarrry!)

 

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Gaining mental clarity

“I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are: grand and beautiful.”
-Henry David Thoreau

Hiking in the woods might be the perfect and ideal activity to clear the mind and gain a little bit of clarity, at least for me. Not only is it great aerobic exercise but it serves as a way to get rid of the excess energy stress often places on the mind. Considering my struggle with battling burn out all through the month of March, I chalked this weekend up to spending my time doing various outdoor activities and soaking up the sunshine. The perfect antidote as it turns out.

Since Saturday was opening day of the Columbia Farmer’s Market, Liz and I made plans to meet there and pick up some supplies for an afternoon BBQ before heading out to Shooting Star for a morning hike with Miley. While I prefer shopping local whenever I can, I wish the food was a bit more affordable. I had a really hard time paying $2.50 for ONE tomato. It was well worth it though; our afternoon BBQ of burgers, salad, and potatoes hit the spot. I even picked up how to make homemade dressing and healthy potato salad (use balsamic vinegar and eggs instead of mayo and mustard) from Liz.

Until the latter part of the hike, Shooting Star was practically vacant. Miley fished for rocks and Liz and I chatted about life. By the end of the hike, both of our spirits were lifted and I came to the realization that given the crazy ups and downs over the last couple of months, I finally feel like I’m back to myself and ready to take on the next chapter of life. Nice girls (and guys) may finish last, but we always come out on top in the end. I look at the people who have been there for me these past few months and they are all people who lift me up and allow me to be my true self (no matter how weird and dorky I may be). I’m no longer desperately trying to fit into someone else’s mold of who I should be and I have to say it feels good to shed that weight. I am happy and I think I’ve finally reached the mental clarity I’ve been yearning.

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April: home

“Of all the elements of a happy life, home is the most important.” – Gretchen Rubin

Always a sucker for a good quote, this is perhaps the best insight I received from reading Gretchen Rubin’s book Happier at Home. I’ve realized an important element to loving your home is recognizing how much happiness already exists there and then adding elements  of comfort, love, and appreciation to the space. Given that Spring has finally decided to grace us with its presence (lets hope it’s here to stay!), I wanted to devote this month to nurturing my surroundings.

As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for April and how they relate to each over-arching desire.

Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.

  • Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s No Place Like Home: A Memoir of 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman. I chose this particular book because I feel a kind of kinship with the author. The book chronicles her journey to feeling settled without actually being settled (one of my biggest fears in life) and her realization that home is about the space you create, not just your address. Considering my bedroom revitalization project, I found this particular reading quest fitting for my month of home.
  • Purge, reorganize, finish projects. It seems Spring is finally here to stay and with it my urge to purge, reorganize, and nest is at an all time high. I have a few unfinished projects around the house I’d like to tackle. In particular, I’d like to tackle the storage areas in the house (closets, the basement, cabinets, and the like). I have yet to touch these areas because they just seem so daunting. But I love to throw things away so I should enjoy the process if I can get my butt in gear. On top of those few areas in the house, I also plan on finishing up the bedroom transformation project and the few craft/decor projects still on my plate. I love my little bungalow home and all that goes with making it feel “homey”.

Give more love.

  • Give back to the community. As most of you know, I am a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run – a program I am extremely passionate about. I’ll be sub coaching a few practices this month at various elementary schools teaching lessons in healthy eating habits and building self-confidence. I’ve gotten to sub coach a few times and it’s certainly rewarding to see the energy and excitement in the young girls but I also want to reach out to other parts of my community. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for the month (Earth Day will be here soon and so will the festival) and I am so looking forward to the opportunities. Giving love often makes me feel more loved in return.
  • A squeeze in the morning, a squeeze at night. Self-admittedly I need to practice more patience with Miley. Particularly when my schedule is hectic, I don’t take enough time to give her a pat or kiss on the head. I’m quickly out the door and she usually sits there staring at me with those “Why are you leaving me? I’m going to chew something up!” eyes. Even worse, I hardly give my cat the attention I used to since getting Miley two years ago. So, I resolved to give more love to my animals this month. Not just in practicing patience (oh, you want to smell the flowers for the 15th time in a row on our walk!? Okay…) but in making sure I give them a few undivided moments of attention. For this reason, I resolved to squeeze, kiss, and smother both the Milers and Nanners in the morning and before bed.

Live a balanced life.

  • Use the dining room table. The only time I ever use my dining room table is when I’m hosting a potluck dinner or family gathering of some sort. I love communal gatherings because it promotes conversation and together-ness, but since I live alone you can usually find me eating my meals on the kitchen floor or in the living room. While I may not have a roommate to share in the festivities with, I am making it a goal this month to have only home-cooked meals (no eating out, at least on my dime) and eating those meals at the table.  I’ve gotten out of this particular habit and I want to re-instill that practice in my everyday regimen.
  • Use a quiet day. This is the one goal I did not complete last month not because I didn’t have time, but because I forgot (oops!). Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.

April seems rather basic after looking at my goals for the month but I’m feeling simplistic at this juncture. Considering I’m still carrying on previous monthly goals like the one sentence journal, meatless Mondays, potluck dinners, and flossing I think I’m all set!

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March highlights

If you haven’t been able to gather from my absence in the virtual world, life has been a bit hectic in the Wallace household. I feel like this entire month passed by with the snap of a finger and yet surprisingly for having felt completely exhausted almost the entire month, I still managed to accomplish the majority of my goals.  Here are some of the highlights of my month of well-being:

  • I loved reading Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. Not only did the book make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, but it reminded me that being healthy isn’t just how you look on the outside, but how your body functions on the inside. It also served to remind me that health is holistic. While exercising and eating right (when I’m not in cookie monster mode) is a big part of my life, I also need to give equal attention to my mental and emotional health. If anything, I got a few ideas from the book on what to include in my own health regimens and I’m excited to start incorporating them into future monthly goals.
  • The inspirational bedroom transformation is not complete but is certainly coming along. Not only did the room get a complete paint re-do, but I’ve been working on some decor projects as well. I bought a bright, cheery, and super fun rug that adds a healthy dose of spunk to the room. I also started a craft project that turns wooden block letters into yarn art (sounds weird, but looks way cool). I will admit I have yet to finish this particular project particularly because my loathe of crafting gets in the way of me actually finishing it, but considering some of my goals for April I figure I can carry this process over into next month. I’m also teaming up with a painter friend of mine who does phenomenal, original work for a reasonable price. The room needs a little bit of art in it and she’s my go-to girl so this particular item will be another thing I carry into next month as well. I keep having to remind myself that evolving is about relishing in the process and not always marking things off my to-do list. But while I like this rule of thumb for my year of self-improvement, I sometimes think I use it as justification for procrastination (more on that later).
  • Between all the hustle and bustle, I still managed to carve out a lot of friend time this month. In particular, I hosted a couple of girls nights, a St. Patrick’s Day themed game night dinner party. and a few Skype dinner dates with my friends who aren’t close by. I have to say the friend love (and booze) was definitely overflowing this month for which I am extremely grateful.
  • Also super exciting in the name of friend love – since I started writing more hand-written notes to my friends and family, I’ve been getting letters in return. This month alone, I’ve received four letters and I LOVE getting mail.
  • Meatless Mondays have been my new favorite health regimen and something I’m going to continue to do. It usually means I end up going meatless for most of the week (no wonder there are health benefits) but I love that it makes me get outside my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen a bit. Plus, it adds content for the blog and I can’t complain about that, especially considering my lack of other substantial content lately.

So there you have it – another month bites the dust! I almost feel like I could continue well-being part deux into April, but now that Spring is finally in the air I’m getting into nesting mode, which means I need to take advantage of the organizing and purging mood I’m in. Stay tuned for April goals!

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A modpodge of meatless mondays

So it’s no secret I’ve been behind on blogging, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept my end of the bargain on March goals. In particular I’m loving the meatless Monday venture and it’s something I’ll most likely continue to carry into subsequent months. Since going meatless on Mondays, I actually end up eating meatless dishes throughout the week as well – not only because of the leftovers but I’ve found my craving for meat to be diminishing. In the past two weeks, I’ve gotten to try four new meatless dishes and put my cooking skills to the test. I’ve made a sweet potato and black bean soup, vegetable quiche, black beans and rice, and a bean and tomato risotto (I’m missing the recipe links, but you can always do a google search for similar ideas!).

First, the sweet potato and black bean soup. An absolute hit and made with vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. I added in a mixture of vegetables as well to add a bit more substance to the dish. Overall, a great combination of flavors and very filling – perfect comfort food during one of our snowstorms this month.

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Second, the vegetable quiche. I honestly can’t recall if I’ve ever had quiche before. I know they’re usually made with pie crusts but I decided to switch things up a bit. I opted to use sliced red potatoes for the bottom crust instead. While the flavor was different and unique, I probably won’t make the vegetable quiche again unless it’s for a bigger group of people (something that will get eaten in one sitting). It didn’t make for great leftovers and while I won’t make the vegetable quiche again, I’d be curious to try another kind like ham and cheese or sausage and kale.

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I also ended up making black beans and rice – a simple, cheap dish that I was able to make with ingredients already in my pantry. I had a few leftover vegetables from the quiche so I spiced up the dish a bit by adding in a variety of bell peppers and a bit of hot pepper for a subtle kick. For the first time, I also used fresh bay leaves. I loved it so much and I practically use it with every dish I make now.

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Lastly, I decided to try making risotto since I’d never had it before. I finally figured out why people love it so much – it’s a concoction of cheesy goodness in your mouth. While the original recipe called for white beans, I opted to use kidney beans and added in some shredded zucchini with the diced tomatoes. A filling dish and one that actually made me wish I had some meat to add to the meal – fish or shrimp would be a complimentary dish to this particular recipe!

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Battling burnout

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the motivation or will to write. Between travel, work, and mid-terms I’ve been depleted of any energy that requires me to use my brain if I don’t have to. In fact, I can sum up how I’ve felt over these past few weeks in two words: used up.

Knowing I need to take care of myself, I’ve been doing various activities to battle the burnout. I’ve made time for friends, hosted potluck dinners, worked out, and cooked. While my mood improved, it seemed to always be temporary and fleeting. I was starting to feel helpless and wanting to avoid a downward spiral I began doing some research. I came across this article on battling burnout and found it particularly intriguing to my situation.

What I found interesting about the article is that it relates burnout to the social and personal aspects of your life rather than just focusing on work. It breaks burnout into three dimensions: exhaustion, depersonalization, and inefficacy. While I don’t really feel disconnected, exhaustion and feelings of inefficacy – or reduced personal accomplishment – are certainly present. My biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks is that my to-do list is constantly growing. It doesn’t matter how much energy I exert in mind or body, I still don’t seem to have made a dent in what needs to be done. As soon as one thing gets crossed off, two more things get added to it and so on. I find it discouraging and in the end, I am less likely to even want to tackle what’s on my plate. So what does that mean for me? Well, I’ve become kind of snarky – a negative Nancy or complaining Connie as my friend tells me. And that’s definitely not okay with me.

Considering my third class ended this past Saturday, my school load will be a bit lighter which will help immensely (note to self: NEVER, ever take three classes again). Not having a weekend in the last two months dominated by school work has meant I haven’t had a lot of me time. So I spent this past weekend catching up on sleep and doing absolutely nothing. And it didn’t really help to be honest. Until I found an interesting passage in the New York Times which made me rethink my action plan: “Don’t assume you need calming down  when you really need some revving up.” While I’ve been exhausted, treating that exhaustion with sleep all weekend just contributed to my feelings of helplessness. And the more unproductive I felt, the more I got in an emotional ditch. So once again, it all seems to be a balancing act….

 

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A space for me

Feeling overly ambitious, I decided to tackle the big bedroom transformation project Friday night. While there is still a lot I want to do with the room, I’m feeling accomplished that the paint job is finished and that I even had a chance to put my creative skills to the test in my efforts to transform one corner of the room. While I’m not going to show the room as it is now (I don’t want to ruin the surprise once it all comes together) I will share bits and pieces as things unfold.

So, first step: painting. Let me just say I loathe, loathe painting but when the mood strikes I can get things done. I ended up using the same color of paint that I used when transforming the guest bedroom – a Bonsai gray. It’s probably my favorite color of all time for its mere transformational power. My room has always felt overly cramped not just because of my big furniture but also because of the room color – a dark mustard yellow. I actually really liked the mustard yellow but since my primary goal with this project is to make my personal space feel more open, I wanted to go for something airy and bright. From the first coat of paint, I instantly felt the room opening up.

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A small project I took on in addition to painting the room this weekend was a quick make-over of a mirror I’ve had for years. The silver and black went really well with the dark mustard yellow but it felt plain and boring against the light gray walls. Going for bright, cheerful accent colors to the gray backdrop I opted for a sunny yellow (which happens to go perfect with my other accent color, royal purple). This particular venture only took about 10 minutes, 1 hour of drying, and $3.22 in spray paint. A quick and cheap DIY project which turned out fantastic!

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After a really hard couple of months, I wanted to take on a project that would serve to revitalize my sense of self. I want every inch of my bedroom to be something that inspires me, comforts me, or just brings a smile to my face in one way or another. Every time I walk by the room and see this bright sunny mirror hanging there, I smile. It brings joy to my personal space and I love that.

You’ll notice in the corner is a stack of books. Wanting to personalize this corner, I chose books that have changed my life or inspired me in some way. Among those is a travel guide to Guatemala (be adventurous); Eat, Pray, Love (be prepared for endless and riotous waves of transformation); and the Heart and the Fist (live a life of intention). There’s a few more in there, but they’re mostly placeholders till I can sift through my other books and add to the pile.

It’s turning out beautiful and I’m anxious to start in on the other projects. By the end of March, I don’t think I’m ever going to want to leave my room!

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