I want to go back to my regular self

It is not good to work under stress and undertake too much.

It is not good to eat junk.

It is not good to drink so much soft drink per day.

It is not good to spend money on cab while I can take the bus or walk.

It is not good to feel like nothing I work on moving while they actually do.

I want to be fine again, like prior to 5 weeks ago when I was walking, eating healthy, visiting thrift stores, saving money, and feeling great about myself.

I really do.

I think it is time that I take a couple of days really off and slowly start doing what I used to enjoy; thrift stores will be a good start. Hopefully sometime soon.

on life, death, and nature

My mom’s little bird has died after a couple of week’s illness. It was loved, cared, pampered, and cherished. 

My mom and sister are feeling the pain of losing something that they loved so much. They feel like they have not done enough to care for the bird and blame themselves.

Nothing could be far from the truth; they cared for it while she was healthy and especially when she was sick. They have got an expensive medical care for the little one and gave water using  syringe and kept it on their chest when she needed warmth and contact. They monitored it around the clock. They have done more than many people I know respecting and caring for that life. Yet, it was just her time to go and here my sister and mom feeling the blame and sadness.

It is natural to feel the sadness and grief, but I wished they did not blame themselves for what happened to this lovely creature. 

I told them what I experienced when my father had died 1.5 years ago. The sadness was nothing like I knew before, grief was overwhelming, I too blamed myself for not caring for my dad while he was alive or while he was dying. I still do. But I remember my wish to walk and see the nature as it is at that time, as life and death are a part of our life cycle and seeing nature I was able to put this in a rational frame. I remember looking at the trees, some naked and dried up, some looking like dying, but I knew that in spring some of them at least would flourish. I also remember seeing a man with a little child…. Life was continuous, only the life forms would be changing. We may lose one, heck, we will lose ourselves one day, but life will continue with a different tree, in a different place, with a different human.

It is impossible not to feel sadness and grief upon losing someone or an animal that we have loved. We have two options; either not love anything/anyone to protect ourselves from this, or love and go through the consequences. That is a natural dilemma of being human and having a consciousness. There can be no good solution to deal with death of a loved one…

But we can care and demonstrate our love while pets and humans are still alive.

After all, life is short and we have a tendency to focus on what we have in our plates at the time being, and forget the reality to come.

Go hug someone, a pet, or a tree today. Tell them or show them you care. Love yourself too and receive the love from others. Do not be shy.

 

 

 

On The X-Files and love

Let me tell you something about the X-Files.

I am currently on Season 7; why have I been watching The X-Files in the last months or so? 

Mulder and Scully – that is all. I like the characters and how they complement each other like Ying and Yang.

But the stories do not attract me: I do not believe in supernatural. I do not believe in E.T. I am more like Scully, I guess.

Only things that really attract my attention are the personal struggles and pains of the two characters; I like it when the stories are around them.

However; I do not know what to think about the romantic moments between these two characters that are scattered here and there. Nothing serious up to the Season 6 yet, but a new year’s kiss (somewhere in the Season 6 or 7) somehow threw me… Thankfully this moment was only temporary (although beautifully executed; you would swear that these two were in love so deeply and so unbelievably), as the next episode had no romantic or close encounters between the two. Like nothing happened and it was an everyday encounter…. Meaningless and weird stuff.

Anyways, I do not know whether I want it for these characters. I know that in the future episodes/movies they get together and then they broke up. There is a child that is likely to be Mulder’s and Scully’s. Looks like it is a natural extension of trust, years of watching each other’s back, saving each others arses, and sharing personal moments (like the deaths in Scully’s or Mulder’s family) that bring these two characters together. 

If you ask me, the romantic part between Mulder and Scully was unnecessary.

It is because it was like growing to love someone rather than falling in love.

I somehow prefer falling in love than growing to love over a period of time because the last time I did this (a thing, not a person), it took me 15 years to love!!!!!!

Love should be spontaneous. Un-calculated.

I know many people will reject this idea, but this is what I believe.

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back to my routine

Today after a month or so I am finally back to my regular routine; home cleaned, laundry done, sourdough stater fed, and more importantly I am not working.

This feels good.

There is something nice about our daily life and routine. It helps us to pay attention to our regular surroundings and activities. I kinda look around and notice things to be grateful for; my yard for example has considerably improved this year with the new back fence and new plants showing up. I love going around it everyday and noticing how the life in my yard doing and remove unnecessary weeds and stuff. It is great to be feeling content, excited, and hopeful about a part of my life.

I also find a chance to notice things that require care and fix them before they get worse. One of my household plants seem to have too much water in the vase, and as such has started to reek (possibly the microorganism growing in the water at the bottom). I cleaned it well and now hope that the plant will regain its health and vigor. It is a life and deserves the best from us.

I am watching the X-Files and am happy to be doing it.

I will prepare a nice dinner today with healthy ingredients, which will help me to gain my strength back and reduce the toxic effects of ongoing stress.

My windows are open and fresh air is caressing every corner inside.

My street is quite and eventless, encouraging an easy rest at home.

I have had fruits and home-made kefir cheese and sourdough this morning, which gives me the necessary energy and encouraging thought that I am back to healthy life-style.

My kefir grains are doing just fine and my sourdough starter is raising.

I have not got any negative news or annoying emails just yet and I am very grateful for this.

I appreciate this opportunity to just relax and give my mind and body a break.

I am excited for being free this evening and tomorrow and all the things I can do with my time.

And more importantly, I am happy to be with myself and reflecting on life and my life, which was much needed. Like this morning, I woke up with the thought that one day I would cease to be and whether what I was stressing myself about at work or at life would worth it. The answer is no. There are so many other important things to do or pay attention to. Time is given and passes pretty quickly. Life is bigger than what I have been focusing on lately. Loved ones and our own well-being and happiness are the most important thing. So much stress and its negative effects on body and mind are foolish. It is time to have a much wider look at life as a whole and re-adjust the priorities and plans. I have not got much of an idea about what they would be, but I am grateful that I have the metal sanity and clarity at least for this moment to even think about this. 

Routine is good my friends.

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Life has shown goodness to me nowadays

You know that I am going through and stressful patch in relation to my work in the last one month. There is too much to be done and too much emotions and exhaustion to deal with. But there has been great things as well, which I should acknowledge.

One of the things about my profession is to be recognized by others in my field as an expert. I have had three invitations in the last one month as an expert. One of them from a national organization that I have not worked with in the past. Another one is an international organization that I had interacted with last year. And the third one I have just got an invitation from is the biggest organization of its kind in Canada. All of these organizations coming up with my name and their trust in my professional abilities made me feel really good about myself; I have national and international recognition after all 🙂

These invitations not only strengthen my own confidence and self-appreciation, but also help me show my own organization that I am a recognized expert. This increase my chances of being respected here.

It is funny that I have had many such recognition in the past and my organization never made a good remark about these. This is strange, but as day goes on, my list is increasing and so does my case to present myself to my own organization. Lovely 🙂

These invitations require me to set up time and evaluate important reports. I am usually good about this and am looking forward to doing good job and writing great evaluation reports. At a time that I have been looking for ways to expand my credentials and move into the directions that will be good to me and where I would perform my best, these additional work only makes me happy and trusting the magical way of life in helping me move forward.

As a high level administrator told me a couple of days ago “when there is a challenge, there is the opportunity“.

I know that well now.

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your body let you know when you need to slow down

My tummy was aching yesterday and this morning, and I have a terrible headache since morning. I have eaten lots of carbs and drank too much soft drinks, and my face is puffy and I feel lethargic. I believe my blood tension is also high. 

Where am I going like this?

I may not have managed my work-related stress effectively so far, but I think it is time that I start doing this.

Action item 1. Stop thinking work at nights. Watch the X-files instead. Give my mind a break.

Action item 2: Breathe. Deep breaths. Continuously. For 5 minutes or longer. Try time to time.

Action item 3: Stop drinking soft drinks. Replace it with water. Drink milk.

Action item 4: Get out of the house.

Action item 5: Eat better. No carbs for some time. Eat delicious veggies and fruits for a change. They energize me.

Action item 6: Do not work this weekend, if I can.

Action item 7: Work at the office tomorrow, not at home. Get some human interaction. Get away from isolation.

Action item 8: Write down the things that go well.

Action item 9: Cuddle with a nice book.

Action item 10: Watch these lovely creatures and put on a smile 🙂

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a relief after all

I have just completed a critical task and I feel the freedom coming out of letting it go. It is not over yet, but knowing that this one step is done gives me an unexpected relief. I will take it.

Work continues to be hectic and stress levels are still high. But at least I am preparing myself dinner this evening. This is a nice change and makes me feel better about everything.

The work will continue, I will fail, and I will go up. Somewhere, somehow. I wish there were no pressure as we have been under that restricts our minds and negatively affects our quality of life. This is one of the worst summers of my life, all because of work stress. Imagine….

The irony is that it has also been the warmest and brightest here where I live.

How do we enjoy what we are given and how we waste our times thinking, worrying, stressing

C’est la vie?

hardship teaches good lessons

They say that difficult things happen and we make mistakes to learn and develop. 

While I do not enjoy going thru a hard time on things related to my job right now, I also learn. 

Today I realized that:

  1. Me resigning from my position is a silly decision.
  2. I am too much focused on protecting my own and my ally’s/team’s rights that sometime i cannot see the other sides.
  3. I am tired and overwhelmed and my mistake rate is increased as a result.
  4. I must not undertake critical tasks right now, but I have to because of some deadlines. I must do whatever I can to make sure my mind is clear.
  5. Not everything will go ahead as I plan, think, or wish for. So I better get ready for failure as well.
  6. Whatever happens, this is a transition and there will be better days to come.
  7. I will change, the way I think or function at work will too, after all of these, but I will keep going.
  8. I will re-visit the idea of resignation in 2 years, or if something catastrophic happens that cannot be otherwise fixed. But not right now.
  9. I must focus on positive possibilities and positive outcomes so that I can move in such a direction. The more I think about resignation, the more I find myself subconsciously moving in that direction. This is self-sabotaging at best. This is silly.
  10. There will be better days and times to come. There will be positive outcomes. I may not know what they are now, but it has always been so. For example; at work there was a big project that I wanted to undertake and lead. It did not happen and it hurt. Last week we learnt that those who have such kind of projects would have to deal with a much bigger problem than I had anticipated. It is not something that I could easily handle, so I came to think that I was in fact lucky to not have this project that I wanted so much.
  11. In the last few years there has been things at work that did not come to a point that I wished them. The project I mentioned above is one of them. But, is that not true that there is a destiny for me and these are all helping shape it? Maybe I will come up with a better idea? Maybe a better project? Maybe I will in fact quit my profession at one point of my life, but maybe this will be a retirement, not a resignation? Maybe I will find a job all of a sudden and without much of an effort, and take it as an opportunity? Maybe these are all normal thoughts of someone who is under too much stress? Maybe whatever will happen will be better for me on the long run. I should have some faith in future and life. I should have patience. I should relax and be less jumpy. I should and will take one day at a time. I should embrace the opportunities and failures alike. Where is my grace? One can be graceful without quitting early, right?
  12. I must reflect on the goodness in life and around me more. Life is full of great things and people!
  13. I must take a break from all of these sometime soon. Luckily I have a short trip to Europe in a couple of weeks. It will give me some fresh air and mental break. 

let me end this unfrugal spending scheme

I have made more expenses in the last three weeks than any other time since the new year. I possibly spent 3X of my regular allowance. This does not feel good. Most of the expenses are for junk stuff and cab rides while I was trying to keep my head over work and work issues. Throw in a social and hosting two dinners (one last weekend, one tomorrow) and you can get the idea.

I am determined to pay this mortgage off in the next 6 years. This means I am reducing the time into half. I must and can save more while I have a salary. This must be my priority.

From tomorrow on, I will be on shopping ban; no thrift store or other purchases till October, unless absolutely needed. I will not buy any furniture or clothes, either. Absolutely no cab rides!! I will have my hair done, though, since I am transitioning to gray now. The journey has started and will be completed. I do not expect socials either. At least I will not be inviting over anyone. Well, maybe a couple with lovely kids. We will see.

The only purchases acceptable are:

  • baking items (I will need bread flour and whole wheat flour soon)
  • veggies and fruits
  • milk and yogurt
  • eggs and occasional meat products
  • personal hygiene products

I also am going to do another pantry challenge and focus on consuming the food I already have before filling my pantry, freezer, and fridge again. That will be exciting and I am really looking forward to this.

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planning retirement

I want to quit this job, but logically retiring from this job is the best.

I am looking at another 11 years, I have decided this evening. I can retire in 8 years but the pension is not good enough and the mortgage will be just paid. I need cash in addition to these.

So, my plan is to pay off the mortgage in the next 7 years and then save the mortgage payments I now make as cash. I will in the mean time continue to do my investments (RRSP, TFSA). These should give me some peace of mind. I hope I will not have a significant life event that requires a lot of cash. This plan is dependent on such an assumption.

I currently pay around 15K/year to mortgage. This year I started to make extra payments, totaling around 5K a year. I will make an effort to increase this a little bit more. No more fooling around with stress and making extra expenses, like I have done in the last 3-4 weeks. It is time that I return back to my wonderful budget I started in the new year.

I will make my life work here. I will make my work work here. There is so much I can do and perform. Maybe not what I want to do, but I will focus on what I can do. One year at a time. In two year comes a major promotion that I want to get. That means the next two years I am appliying for projects and forming better collaborations. My aim should be to prepare 4 projects/year.

I decided to become lean in terms of my work schedule and I will be removing myself from one of the committees I am a member of. I also will focus on work during the day and will not think about other stuff. Work is important and I am getting tired. My energy and efforts and time should be better protected.

I will also relax and trust more. Myself, universe, that something great will come. I hope I am not mistaken about this.

My pension 11 years later will not be huge, but just enough. That is good enough for me. I can always start a side kick and get occasional extra income.

I can handle 11 years. It is a definite time period. It has been 9 years that I have moved here. Time flies, but hopefully not so fast till then; I would like to enjoy my life, find my life’s purpose, and feel better about myself and life until then.

The moral of the story is that money is important. It does not matter how young or senior you are, you will need it. Keep it as much as you can while you have it.

 

 

what the day brings, you take it – II

I woke up at 6.30 am with lots of annoying thoughts in my mind.

Quitting and accepting failure crossed my mind, but something also kept me up beat and optimistic. It can be acceptance of the future, belief in a brighter future, or realizing that this is not the first adversity and issue filled time in my life, nor I am the first one to go through a similar time.

Things got better around noon and I realized things are not as bad as I think it would be or were. There were times that I have had similar experiences in the past. I guess our minds are programmed to consider all bunch of situation and focus on resolving the worst possible scenarios. This is taxing, is it not?

This being said, there were times that I thought things were better than they in reality were. Lack of insight? Lack of information? Lack of experience to think comprehensively? You decide.

I really miss my regular routine of walking to office, working, walking back to home, reviewing the flyers on Wednesday to decide my shopping list, grocery shopping on Thursdays, doing house chores on Saturday and sourdough baking on Sunday. Perhaps it is the best. Perhaps I was lazy and fell into the comfort of this routine. It is hard to know. What I know is that time to time life and work can get really challenging. Hold on to life at these difficult times and trust that it will get clear and better. It must be. It always is.

I today believe in this.

 

why do we need to feel good?

At one point in my life, many years ago, I was feeling really bad. As a result I turned into books to understand these feelings, their causes, and how to better deal with the thoughts and emotions as a result.

One thing that misses usually from my overall look at life is trust; trust that things will turn out just okay. Trust that I will be able to handle things well. I now am somehow better in this area if I can remind myself.

My other big habit is to not let go of things, plans, wishes, or wants easily. I believe that they take quite a time and effort to come up with, organize, and execute. These, if not followed with success, eventually it leads to frustration and self-doubt. That hurts and amplifies the the first trust issue; trusting that I will be able to handle things well. This being said, not being an easy dumper is also good sometime, as many things in life require more than mere luck and rather lots of efforts and patience. I have good examples of relatively big success came by not quitting and constantly working towards the aim.

The third would be to have a sharp focus. This is great when there is a task at hand, but not great while dealing with life issues, which are often more complex and repeating in nature. Seeing the big picture, my own and the issue’s place within everything life offers can be quite illuminating; after all what is the big deal as long as we are safe, sound, alive, and able?

I once was silly enough to complain to one of my friends about my own itsy bitsy issues a few months after she has lost her dad. I apologized when I realized what I was being so selfish and insensitive to my friend. She did something amazing and gave a piece of wisdom; there was no pain little or big enough; pain is pain and it fills us almost immediately; fast and expandable. I love this definition, which is so true. But I still want to get out of the room of the pain and see the other things in life. This change in the perspective is healthy, promotes positivity, and eventually calms me.

if there is another thing that calms me is to surrounder to pain. I was not able to understand the meaning of this for years, but one day it just came; I was struggling to decide on something critical, very, critical, and after a long and painful internal fight, my shoulders just dropped. Decision was made by my body. I had failed to make the decision I so long wanted to make. But I could not take it anymore. Fight was over. Pain was pain, but less than the pain my internal fight created. Failed to make the best decision? Yes. Succeeded in surviving my turmoil? Yes. Life can be this messy sometimes.

We have so many examples of hardship in our lives. So many mistakes and resentful memories, actions, words, and behaviors.

What is the solution?

Keep going?

or

Forget these or forgive ourselves? 

 

is there something called being desensitized to adversity?

So much is going on, and a lot of these are going in a direction that I wish they did not. Under different conditions, even upon one such event, I would be pulling my hair and stomping my feet. But not anymore.

I think I passed the initial aggravation with the first adversity and now am going through the continuous agitation and issues with a calmer head. How is that even possible?

One thought that keeps popping on my mind is that “eventually something better will come up“.  Yes, the things are not moving well, and I have issue over issue to think, plan, and resolve, and yes some of these issues will not be resolved and I will not be able to make things that I wanted to happen. These are all related to work, by the way, which is very important for me but not as important as the well being of myself and the loved ones. This gives me serenity.

There is a saying that one door may be closed but the other may open after that. I love this phrase and keep believing in it. This requires a little bit more care, careful look and research of additional opportunities, but time after time I find myself ripping the opportunities after such hard times. The wisdom of age is priceless. I just wished I knew what to expect from the future. 

I am saddened, however, by all the efforts, emotions, and hardship endured during all of these hurdles. Darn transition from one failure to next opportunities is long, too. So my pain has not suffocated yet and brought me to the next level. But I am curious about what will come next and how these and I will shape my future work and possibly life conditions.

Learning about life, myself, my reactions, and my emotions is a continuous process, I see. 

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how you get assertive

Basically you are either a natural, or you are pushed for it.

Being a female and international/foreigner professional on a high-competition work line, I have seen too many injustice, unnecessary pressure, back stabbing, sexism, racism, nationalism, mansplanning, bias, discrimination, stereotyping, and all bunch of other shit.

That is the annoying reality, which I hope one day will be eliminated. We gotta do this.

Working with others in such an environment also means that they will try, at one point or the other, to impose these on you, and control you or your work.

I have had a recent experience just yesterday that pissed me off too much. And this morning email reply has been sent; sane, professional, and firm that I will not accept this because of this and that. I am proud of my self for doing this. My consciousness is quite clear. There may be negative consequences, but hey.

Some people will need a break to understand that they are crossing the line. Assertiveness helps you to convey this message to these people and help you keep your self-respect and protect your rights. I never knew how assertive I could be. I am still hugely annoyed by the behavior yesterday, I hate the feeling and experiencing this, but I am grateful for finding the right type of reaction after hours of agitation, fuming, and pain (that is assertiveness, not attacking back, complying, or passive aggression). 

By the way ladies, this is a separate experience, but do you not love it when male co-workers cut your sentences? Both my superiors and team members have done this to me and hopefully now have learnt not to cross their lines. Mansplanning, is it?

I need no this or other shit.

start of the “work staycation”

I am taking the next week off to work. Am I funny or what?? 🙂 

I have a number of things to finish and I am looking forward to this break. I have another 1-2 weeks to take off before the end of August, which is a relief. Maybe I will stop for a couple of days and focus on myself a little bit.

My plans are as follows for the next 9 days:

Work:

3 documents to develop and/or finalize

2 speeches to finalize

Email correspondences and other emergency stuff that will occur within the week (that is correct; I wrote “will” rather than may” because the past years have taught me that emergencies are a normal part of our work Yuppi! More stress hormone! )

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Personal life and home:

Two dinner parties with friends; meaning lots of shopping, cooking, and cleaning. We will see how this will go. Two dinners in a week seem too excessive for me. It is like a marathon! It is great that my friends are understanding. The worst we can do is to take out.

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Staining and painting the patio and the wooden parts of the outside doors and windows; I resent this task, but it must be done so that I can protect my property better.

Reading a book…… It has been almost 2 years that I have not read a full book, from start to end…. I have the Game of Thrones series at my hand, which are so interesting. yet, where is my book love? How did I lose it? How can I get it back?

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Taking more pictures of the natural beauties. The photos I posted in the last few weeks, the photos of the plants and flowers in my yard made me realize what a great yard I actually have. Many of these appeared in the last year or two, and when I first purchased my home, the yard looked incredibly bad. I digged and almost leveled the back of the yard, planted a little maple tree, trimmed some unwanted ones, planted a number of seeds, some of which germinated (let’s see how they will survive), planted potato, onions, and garlic. The potato plants are doing great, onion has almost seeded, but the garlic does not seem to be producing anything (I checked one of them). I had heard about sterile garlics, which I seem to have planted. In the fall, I will plant again, potato as well, to see whether the time of planting makes a positive difference (they say these plants should be planted in fall before the frost).

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I also plan to print some of the photos and hang them on my walls. This is a massive undertaking for me because I want to hang around 15-20 frames…. Since I cannot do this myself, that also means that I will hire someone to put the nails on the walls. Fun stuff…i repeat that we need a “handyman/woman” registry or company that can do this kind of little work for people like myself.

And, I must do some back/ab exercises to keep my back strong. I have neglected these exercises for some time now and I feel like I must prioritize them again. Since at home I sit mostly (rather than using my standing desk at the office), my chances of hurting my back increase. I do not need that type of “emergency” situations, do I? 🙂

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Have a great Friday night everyone!

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my adventures with plastic shopping bags, kefir cheese, and ice cream

I love ice cream in a hot summer day – there is something child-like about it that makes me look at the world with the eyes of an 8 years old. I love this feeling of carelessness, pure joy, and being in the moment 🙂

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My aim to reduce the shopping bags at my home and not picking up new ones continues with 80-90% success. There were times that I had to get the bags at stores, but at least I do not have an over-flowing amount of them in my kitchen drawer anymore. I am determined to keep only around 20 or so of them at home to use as garbage bin liner, but not more than that. 

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And I have been trying kefir cheese for some time. I think I have had my forth one this week. You simply collect 700-1000 ml kefir, pour down a strainer lined by a clean cloth (not necessarily a cheese cloth), and put the strainer in a large bowl where the strainer will have some room (so that the strained liquid will collect at the bottom of the bowl away from the strainer), and place the assembly in the fridge over night. The majority of the whey would have drained until then. You can also gently squeeze the curds/cloth to remove extra liquid.

One can eat this – it is delicious, but if you are looking for a thicker one, then change the cloth (cheese cloth is fine now as the curds are large enough so that they will not be strained through the cheese cloth), and place in the fridge. I found that at that point the liquid drainage is not strong enough and the majority of the draining is actually made by the cloth. So change it frequently to encourage further removal of whey. I sometimes place the cheese/curds between two plastic tubs (the one at the bottom would have holes in it to help drainage) and put weight on the top tub to encourage further drainage. But, I find that this is not necessarily an efficient and practical solution, so I rather change the cloth as it gets wet to help it thicken. It is that simple.

Use it as it is, or mix with herbs or even fruits (like mushy berries or banana).

My next trial will be a ricotta made by milk and whey; cannot wait! 🙂

Healthy and fun to do!

Bon appetite!

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what the days bring, you take it

While I have had a relaxing weekend, the stress of work has already caught up with me. Since yesterday I have been running, running, running again. I can feel all the stress hormones rushing in my veins and my emotions fluctuating. I feel like emotionally unstable, and sometimes, just sometimes, I realize that I must do things differently.

When you work with others and dependent on their commitment, time, and efforts, you know that this kind of work takes more time and there are times that you need to “trust” that the other party will do their absolute best to finish the work with a level of quality required from you. You also know that this is not an optimistic expectation, because in reality a lot of things can go wrong. So, how do we get the best of the other parties? How do we involve them more, and make them do the things on time? Especially if they are your colleagues, or even worse, your superiors? 

I do not have the answer to this. If you have any opinions, please leave me a comment. I will seriously consider it.

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I continue to work mostly at home this week, even though I am back to work (i.e. not vacation time). I do not know whether this is good or bad, but it seems to be working for me. I just wished I could do better. But then, who would not?

One of my colleagues could not believe today that I took vacation time to actually work. Is that so weird? I concur that it is weird, but at least please respect my wishes – I too know to just do things out of work and enjoy my life. But with the work-related congestion I have at my hand, finishing the work is going to give me peace of mind. I am so looking forward to the mornings when I wake up feeling good about life, not stressed by the work I must do. My quality of life is important.

Carbs too.

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Among all of these chaotic circumstances, there has been good things as well. First of, I managed to revive my sourdough from its dried flakes. Objectively though it is questionable that whatever is growing in the starter has come from my original starter (I have been feeding it the last four days); it is quite possible that this is in fact a new culture that I captured from flour, water, or air. It is so hard to know. I want to believe, though it is the original one so that I can brag about my sourdough starter lasting for years and years…What a childish but important wish for me. Unfortunately none of us will know the truth. I wish I could do DNA test or something to figure out :)))

Another good news is that with each wash, my highlights are getting more lighter and I am capable of seeing some light patches in my hair here and there. I am still pissed about the highlights not being strong enough, but considering it has been only 5 days since I have got my hair done, I am hopeful that in two weeks or so, I may get better-looking and stronger highlights. I want to believe…..

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Also, I finally chopped down the little trees shooting out of the trim of my house. Somebody told me that they can grow and start damaging the house/foundation. What!! I do not need that. I feel weird cutting little trees, one because they are little, and second, they are trees. Trees are magical and absolutely wonderful. Why do they show up where they do not belong? I made a mental note to plant one to my yard to ask forgiveness from nature.

Last, since I am not eating well during this stressful time, I seem to be losing weight. I am okay with that as long as I eat at least a vegetable and fruit at least once during the day.  However, it is strange that even planning for one of my weekly pleasures, grocery shopping, is not making me excited.

The situation, my friends, is that dire.

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my new hair

Farewell red hair – I will miss you so much….

I have got my hair fixed today. I had prepared myself for quite a light-colored hair, with lots of highlight. I had two options: I would either have it dyed to platinum colour and have dark brown low lights all over. Or, have it dyed to close to its original dark brown, and have lots of highlight. The colorist gave me two options: one: colour correction, which would take multiple visits (and a longer time frame to get a decent hair in the short term), or second: dyeing it to brown and have highlights. I chose the second option.

I was not ready to leave the current shade. I kept looking at the red colour and got very saddened….

It was a meticulous process that took around 5 hours; highlights in foils first. Root treatment second. Dyeing the rest of the hair next. And finally a toner application.

I was suspicious that the hair colour would turn too dark and as a result when the roots start showing up, the contrast would be weird. This is mostly because while washing out the toner, the colorist said that the highlights were somehow dark…. Argh…..

The moment I looked at my new hair was disappointment. All I could see was dark brown and no highlights…. Poor colorist needed to talk to me defensively 15 minutes or so, and try to convince me that the highlights would get lighter in two weeks. I was not convinced. Until she moved me over to the window where there was a lot of light. There I saw what she meant. Yes there were highlights, and yes there were not very strong, but I have had some lightness to hair colour that gave me hope and realize that we were on the right track! I apologized sincerely. 

Of course transitioning to my gray hair is a process that will take around a year. There will be times that I will lose my cool again and attempt to change it to platinum or something. But, today I feel like at least I have started the process and so far it is okay.  

Tomorrow is another day. Let’s think about it then.

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My hair after today’s treatment:

IMG_1645

And this was a day agoIMG_1600 

 

 

life is unexpectedly good sometimes

While dealing with work stress and feeling a disastrous low self-esteem, life has reminded me once again that it is full of surprises and can be indeed a delightful experience.

Today I have given my old (but still quite good looking and functional) recliner to someone I do not know free of charge. She just loved it and the joy was very visible from her own eyes. She thanked me more than once, was very excited to have it, and her joy filled my eyes with tears. This experience literally made my day and gave me an unexpected dose of happiness. Even now I can feel her joy.

I am so grateful that such a wonderful match could happen and I was a part of it.

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gray hair saga

Have I mentioned that I made an appointment for Thursday to get my hair done?

My current plan is to dye my hair similar to its original shade (it is dark brown – that I remember…) and then have low-lights over. I do not know what portion of my hair is gray and what portion has the original colour. I trust that the dresser will figure this out.  I want to have streaks right around my face. Like in the character in the Addams family movie.. Yuppii!!

Of course that is what I think it is gonna be, but I will also be open for the suggestions by the hair dresser. I hope not to come back with a hair that I cannot live with. Like complete platinum or something – I m not ready for this. I also hope that we will not need bleach and the current reddish/grayish hair can be dyed to brown. I want to believe in this.

This is also gonna be an expensive adventure. Over 200 bucks for a cut, dye, and low-lights. If bleaching is needed, that will be an additional expense. I do not think I can handle bleach. This is already too much of a money to pay and even though I am capable of paying more, my guts say absolutely not!

I called a number of hair saloons today and except one all give estimates around this range. The one with a lower fee was not exactly a good saloon. Even though it would be nice to save some bucks, I did not wish to risk it. This transition for me is important.

I never have had high-lights, low-lights in my life. I cannot remember but I think I did not even have perm. I believe it was only once or twice that I have had my hair dyed by a dresser; both times with bleaching and both times to become a red head. I never had manicure and pedicure at such saloons either. So my consciousness is clear – I deserve this hair and am eligible to pay such a high amount for my hair. My first ever, in fact.

I do not know what to feel about this transition. Will I like it? Will I hate it? Will I look old? Considerably old? How will my mom take it? I do not want her to feel sad. I am her youngest child. Sadly, I am also gifted with early gray hair. There will be a lot of adjustments I can say.

My hair has been red the last few years and I have been loving it. It is sad to know that I will not have such a shade again. It feels like an end…… This is kind of hard to digest. Knowing that not even once in my life I will be a red head gain. This is sinking now. And it is heavy….

Thank goodness that there are also other stuff I can try with my gray hair. I would like to try having the tips dyed to dark blue, for example 🙂 Or, dark brown 🙂 Would that not be fun? 🙂

the sixth day of “work” staycation

The morning went well, but I lost my hope for success in the afternoon again. Being a naturally skeptical and highly critical person, especially towards her own, I am not surprised with this.

I work, work, and work, and only a small fraction of it goes into “recognize me” bin. All these efforts, careful and meticulous work, time, energy, and deals with stress I put into this work seem to wash away and bring me from all the way bottom to all the way top, the feeling of being inadequate. Its pain and heaviness are inescapable.

I wish I could retire. I do not want to say that I wish I was old enough to retire – I have a life to enjoy and explore still. I want to fully immerse in it before it becomes too late to do whatever I can do with my healthy and able body and mind. But nothing makes me feel more remorseful of having only a little amount of money saved, which prevents me from even thinking about retirement.

They say education is great and a must, and what an education I have had. I have got a PhD degree, worked in four different countries, did countless of interesting work. Yet it was not only after 36 that I could get a job with benefits (including pension plan) and only after 38 that I have got a job with a decent salary. I want to ask; where is all my knowledge, skills, and experience now? Obviously while my efforts, tears and sweat have benefited many organizations, countries, and people (for which I am actually happy), here I am at mid-40s struggling with the idea of leaving a job that constantly makes me feel low, stressed, and unappreciated. Where are the benefits of all my education and capabilities when it comes to me?

Low self-esteem should be broken by all means; nobody is as “low” as one can think. I cannot do this in my case, however. This has been like this for years, fueled by my current position. I competed with many talented individuals to come all the way here and here at this position I am not capable of going any further. I cannot blame others or the conditions, but I cannot blame myself, either. I gave my best and countless numbers of hours and brain cells to this work over the many years. I cannot take this feeling anymore.

I want to believe that even without attaining the level of success I wish for myself, I still can and do great work. I know many people at my position going through the same struggle, and even performing less than me. Yet, they are good at standing, talking, and walking tall, in contrast to me. My own hardship on myself, my own expectations from myself, and my own frustration are the ones that drag me down in my own eyes and then in others’. I sometimes think that this job is more about mental stamina and confidence, however false it can be, than having the capabilities, skills, and excitement for creativity, quality, and effective work. I lack that stamina. 

I once had told another colleagues of mine at administrative level that I was more of a manager than a leader; I get things done. He was understanding and said that “….a leader is great, but a manager is even greater. Leaders open the way and develop the ideas, vision. Managers are the ones that make it reality….” How great is that?

I am affected by the lack of effective leaders at my organization as well as the lack of transparency, trust, and presence of lots and lots of silos. I need a leader that can open the way for me and provide me with better resources so that I can soar. Yet, nauseating truth is that I am supposed to be a leader of myself and do all of these. Nobody is going to care about my conditions, needs, or improving my morale. It is all on me.

I wish I could just stop resisting this frustration and accept myself as a failure to find some kind of peace and perhaps identify new paths to explore and move forward, but I am not capable of doing this. I have either a competitive nature that I am not consciously aware of, some kind of hope that does not go away and keep pulsing in my mind, or I am in fact better than I think I am. Not necessarily awesome, but just better. Whatever the reason for not accepting myself as a failure is, I am not sure whether I am grateful or not. What I know is that my time did not arrive yet, so I will keep going, even under harsher conditions. Eventually I will figure out how to make “lemonade”.

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The fifth day of the “work” staycation

Today went well, too. I was up and off to office before 8 am. Our administrative personnel was shocked to see me work intensely the whole day. How would one not? I took vacation time, but I am working harder than ever!! 🙂

At least things are going well. I was grateful once more to make this decision to use my vacation time and work at home. Distractions, distractions are huge at the office. I realize once more how many times people come to my office to just chat or ask something. Thank goodness, none of my team members were around (some of them are off too). Otherwise I would have to meet with them, too… It is great to be helpful and have chit-chat with the colleagues, but it divides my attention and time.

I decided to take some more time in August. 

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resourcefulness and reducing waste

You know I love being resourceful, self-sustaining, and reducing waste.

I am not 100% in any of these, but I do try; nowadays better than before. 

I cut out an old t-shirt and will use the pieces to clean my bath tub. I was not gonna use this t-shirt, it was not in good enough shape to be donated, and I could not let it fill the landfill just yet (horrible, I know… ). So, why not to use it as a cleaning cloth? Of note, it will still go back to landfill after I use it, which makes my heart tightened somehow. When are we going to have bio-degradable clothes?

I have a large amount of plastic shopping bags. I made the decision to rather use a canvas purse during shopping. The last few weeks that is what I have been doing and it is going well. My aim is to keep doing this until I have something like 20 of them left. I re-use these bags as garbage bin liner, so not getting new ones after that will not be feasible, but still at least I will be able to make use of what I already have and save the companies and earth some plastic bags. Feeling good, however little that can be.

One thing I am missing is composting. I have been meaning to do this the last 9 years, but honestly I cannot think about it during winter (when we get a lot of snow and me going in to back yard is usually prevented by the snow at the back door). I thought today that perhaps I can do that only during spring-fall when weather is permissive. That sounds good to me and I will be checking on internet to see what practical options I do have. 

 

 

 

The third day of the “work” staycation

Today went really well in terms of the work I have been trying to fix. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! 🙂

Honestly the stress levels I have right now is huge. I want to take things one thing at a time, but how do we achieve that when there are multiple things at hand? Challenge… I need more than ever my logical self and sound mental state.

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Overall, though I am feeling calmer and more optimistic after finding solutions to the work at my hand. Until next time…..

I have not dwelled on my Saturday routine today, except I prepared sourdough to bake tomorrow. For some reason I do think that my home is clean enough and the laundry can wait till I run out of clean items (boy, did that ever happen to me? Never…). I did not go pick up milk, either. Luckily I have some at home and my kefir granules are all fed and happy. 

Tomorrow is another day and another work marathon, but I must take it as it is. While work-list is stressing me too much, I also find the satisfaction in taking care of them. Those times require complete focus and I do have it for now. But i am feeling like having no human contact and confined to home for extended periods of time will take its toll on me. So I am likely to go to office and do some work there on Monday. Talking about “work” staycation.

I wonder why I always loved my line of work but could not handle stress very well. I know my remedy is cardio exercise. It clears up the fogs and illusions in my mind like a wizard’s rod. Terrific and electrifying truth. So electrifying that I cannot get myself up and do some hiking. How great I would feel! So why is this laziness and reluctance? 

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Am I funny or what?

🙂

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Making fun of myself always feels great 🙂

Have a great Saturday everyone!

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The second day of the “work” staycation

Today went well too; worked more or less without much of a distraction and it felt good to be able to do this.

My anxiety levels are still high, though, and unless I find a way to reduce it, I am afraid it may escalate. So I will be making a good effort to go back to my routine tomorrow; thank goodness it is Saturday tomorrow and I will fill it up with my regular activities, such as cleaning the house, picking up milk from a store, doing laundry, preparing my sourdough for over night rise, and speaking with my family. I must also clean up the yard and pick the weeds and other unnecessary life forms. I never knew how much I would appreciate my daily (and often times boring) highly structured life-style.

I am familiar with anxiety accompanied with shallow breathing and the feeling of being scared of something, someone, a thought. I try to not resist but rather relax into it and mediate the situation with some meditative music and focusing on the positives; I have a great family who supports me; I am doing great work; my home and yard are at a much better shape than last year; I keep budgeting and living frugally; I try to find joy and happiness in little things; there is a wonderful weather outside; I was able to keep my window open the whole day and have fresh air inside; I have good friends who are happy to socialize with me and help me if needed; I have usually a great job that provides me with more than enough money (even though it also makes me feel inadequate – the main reason of my latest anxiety boot).

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I feel angry at the conditions that limits me at work and my performance; i am angry at the funding situation for our projects; I am angry at the endless competition we undergo to achieve something; I am angry at the economy; I am angry at myself for not saying “no” more often and often ending up doing other peoples’ works. I am angry at myself for not focusing on the positive and the big picture we call life, rather than all the little antsy bitsy things that I let to annoy me.

I want to feel good and I know that as long as I have this wish, this anxiety will not go anywhere. Wishing to feel good by running away from what I am experiencing is a form of resistance that makes things worse. It is so counter intuitive. I know there are things that I will change and improve as a result of this experience. I just do not know what they are.

The best remedy for anxiety is to trust the unknown. I need to trust to life, the universe if you will, people around me, and more importantly, myself. I may fail at work according to my own or others’ criteria, I know I will get up being better and stronger out of this hurdle. Maybe I will turn things around by being a little bit more smart in protecting my own time and energy, a little bit more lucky, or by changing my own attitude towards myself, my life, my work, my colleagues, my hopes, and my failures. 

I know all of these. 

Now it is time to believe in them.

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The first day of the “work” staycation

I am hesitant to call this a “staycation” because I am doing anything but relaxing.

I got up before 8 am and started working right away. I realized one of the works I have been working on the last 1 month or so had a significant flaw. Naturally, I fumed and my agitation that started yesterday heightened again.

I was so pissed and lost my hope in doing a good job that I contemplated about quitting this line of work and leave here for good. Oh, how lovely my life would have been then? (ah, no really… it would come with its own problems that is for sure, but at that time the idea of leaving these behind looked so appealing, so lovely…anyways).

I talked to my family and it was great to know that they were well and sound. Yet I think with my toxic mindset, I negatively affected their morale. Boy.. At least I felt a little bit better. But, at what cost, I should ask. I will apologize tomorrow…

After that fiasco, I realized that I may not be able to solve that flaw just yet, so I moved on with other tasks that I must be taking care of. Two of them have moved quite nice and easy. I must say sometimes being pissed off or feeling inadequate makes me quite productive. After all, if there is one feeling that makes me feel better is to be able to move/progress something.. Anything! 

I want to remind myself that all hurdles are an opportunity to grow and do better….

I want to think that realizing that work of mine was bad earlier than later was actually a great thing for me overall…..

I want to believe that whatever I am going through right now will pass and I will feel good again…..

As my sister said today, there are so many insoluble and serious problems in life that these kind of things do not make sense after all.

I want to feel these.

I want to.

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the start of the 11 days staycation and the chicken noodle soup

I am starting my 11 days staycation as of this evening. I am not overly enthusiastic, but grateful for this nevertheless. You know I chose to take these days off to actually focus on my own work (not on others’ like my team members) and to do some work needed at home, such as decluttering, too. Everybody needs a break every once a while.

Interestingly I am feeling kinda sick as of this afternoon. I am not sure what triggered this but I was attending two meetings/presentations this afternoon back to back, and I realized my heart was kind of racing (or the feeling I have had was that, because the physical heart was working just fine – I checked my heart rate), I was feeling down, tired, and worn and torn all of a sudden….

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I felt like something really bad happened to a loved one of mine (my mom came to me my mind; since I did not get any bad news yet I am assuming this feeling was not real….how could it be real, by the way? Am I  psychic now?? That being said I had felt something at around the time that my dad had passed away.. it is scary.. anyways).

It was like I was having a heavy anxious state or depressive mood. I could not solve it, but I did not like it either. But then years of life experience taught me not to resist but take it as it is and go home and make yourself chicken noodle soup. That is exactly what I have done. I believe in its healing properties – there is something unknown and great about the smell and taste of chicken noodle soup….

When I came to my senses, I thought that perhaps I am feeling down because I have been feeling kind of excited lately. The facts that I have re-arranged the furniture and created a much better living space and found some great stuff at the thrift stores that excited me, I wonder whether this is a way of my mind and body saying “enough is enough, let’s go back to regular”. Maybe subconsciously I realize that my joy and happiness is not hidden in these material things, but is rather internal and this is what I must be looking for. And I think the timing supports this idea because now I actually have time to “reflect” on my life. What are the things that I want? How do I attain them? What is important for me? Is my life really working for me? Do I work well for my life in turn? When and how will I fall in love? Will I leave here? And if so, when?

These are serious questions I must address. No wonder that I have had a little anxiety today..

These experiences reminded me two things:

1) I am scared of being bipolar because sometime after being excited about some good stuff going on in my life, I lose my interest in them (or the excitement they give me). I know that clinically this does not make me affected by bipolar disease, but I cannot not keep thinking about this elation followed by so-felt down experiences.

2) I knew someone that I cared a lot about who had a heart condition. He would go extra miles, 1,000 of miles, to not get excited… he would say the racing heart symptoms that he was experiencing at those times were too painful, too scary.. Poor guy. Like myself, he could not live his life to its full potential. I at least have a chance still… I want to take advantage of this and find my true call. What is it? Where is it? How am I gonna identify and reach it?

Important questions for me to deal with…

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thrifting becoming a second nature

That is right.

Today at noon I found myself wanting to take a break. So I walked to two thrift stores nearby. This was mostly because of the great treasures I hunted this past weekend – i can see how easily it can become addictive 🙂

Today I bought a couple of empty frames, a coffee press, two art work, and a blouse.

Both of the artwork are giving me delight and making me very excited and happy! They were the most expensive things I have ever bought from thrift stores (both over 25 bucks together), but I think this money is well spent.

I have lots of photos to post in the empty frames; I cannot wait to hang them on the wall 🙂 Together with the art works, these frames will help me turn my house into a home. With character. And beauty.

And the coffee press was a great deal; I bet it is new and never been used (i could not detect even a light coffee stain on it or on the filter) and it had the best deal: it was only 2 bucks. 

And last but not the least; the blouse I have bought is so cute, so lovable that I am in love once again! This is the 5th blouse I have purchased from thrift stores this year and I could not be happier with my choices.

Life is good my friends 🙂

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I may not be perfect, but I am damn good

Why am I so proud of myself now?

Because I worked like 5 hours carrying, pulling, pushing stuff around; re-arranging, arranging, and re-arranging again; sweating, feeling depressed, a failure, and then a genius; and finally there it is; a new living room/dining room with a proper dining table/chair arrangement, rugs freely presenting themselves, and book cases and CD racks finely standing tall. The only thing is that I need to get rid of my recliner, which is an old, heavy thing that does not fit anywhere and crumbling my seating area.

Since I took my dining table from kitchen to dining area and placed my little desk in the kitchen, my kitchen looks quite big now. As a matter of fact the entire living room/dining area looks larger and wider. I have bulky couches – maybe they should be replaced with slimmer ones so that I can have a much spacious 1st floor.

Now; what I want to do is to get new decorative artwork and make my walls smile and talk. 

I cannot wait to host at my house 🙂

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a good day today

It has been a fine day 🙂

I got up early and that is why I did quite a bit today. For example, I deep cleaned the upstairs and I am now ready to clean downstairs and re-arrange the furniture. It is gonna be tough, but the end product will be awesome. I am hopeful 🙂  And excited 🙂

Anyways.. Most importantly, I have taken the clothes I sorted out while decluttering to a donation centre/thrift store. In turn, I grabbed a lovely mirror, two empty frames, and a great ancient Egyptian figurine. Friends, you would not believe how great I am feeling about all of these! All loved. All looking great. All excite me.

I have painted one of the empty frames. I want to frame a piece I have bought in Athens a couple of years ago. I always thought that I would have a green wood frame for it. I did not have it, so I painted one 🙂 Now, I have it 🙂

I display the dried flowers (those that were sent to me by my work place when my dad died, which I had dried) in the second empty frame. I used to have them in two small frames with white background. But this frame is large enough to have all of them inside. And it has a black background which beautifully contrasts the flowers. It looks so great. It looks so great… As my dad would have deserved. May he rest in peace.

I think this has been a day that I really found awesome pieces by luck. I think it is true what they say that you gotta keep checking them. Many days one may not find exciting stuff, but someday, you get what you ask for 🙂  Like Hugh dancing like noone is watching. See, what I say?

🙂

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PS: this movie was really great 🙂

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benefits of decluttering

…are a lot.

I started doing my bedroom and master bathroom. I already found a nice facial mask, wash cloths, nail polish, other make up materials that I was looking for, and many blouses and t-shirts that I either did not like at all or did not remember that I have had.

So as you can guess, a number of things will be gone soon, either donated or cut down to be used as cleaning cloths. A number of things will find their use too. Hello nail polish! It has been sometime that we saw each other. Now, remind me how it felt to have nice, decorated, and good looking nails. Right? 🙂

hmmm. I have started and I am feeling good. Decluttering always feels good. I wonder what other treasures and trash I will find during the entire process 🙂 I will keep you posted!

taking some vacation time next week on

I jut learnt that I cannot carry my annual vacation time to next year. So I decided life was too short and I could make excellent use of my paid vacation time.

You may think I will be going away, but this is not the case. I plan to spend time, thankfully free time, at work and home.

Let me tell you my exciting plans:

Work:  One may say that I am taking time off to finish work and that would be the truth. My expectation is that I will be free to work on my own work without any meetings or commitments to my team members or the committees I work in. I may work at home or in the office – does not matter. I am so looking forward to this and finishing up important tasks that are good for my own success.

Home: I have exciting plans. Let’s see…. I have started decluttering my wardrobe and I would love this to be extended to the whole house. This is very exciting!

I would like to get decluttered items either donated or chopped down to be used as cleaning cloths.

I want to deep clean the house – the last time I could do it was the holiday season.

I also would love to re-arrange my furniture on the living room/dining room. This will take me some time to do but i am very excited about this. Finally it will look like a welcoming house.

I want to buy a new dining table and chairs set, but not sure whether I can find something that I can afford. We will see how that goes.

I want to visit the thrift stores during the weekdays (somebody suggested that there may be new items right after the weekend when people usually drop their donations) and build my new wardrobe. I grew so tired of my current wardrobe 🙂

And I will binge-watch the X-files! 🙂

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Summer heat

You know, being a Canadian is a unique experience;

“eh”,  “poutine”, “Canadian beer”, “Tims/timbits”, “Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)”, “Canadian kindness”, “universal healthcare”, “sorry – not sorry”, “snow/winter” and many more 🙂 

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The most important one, however, is that you may be bothered with heat and sun.

That is right!  🙂

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Yesterday was 22 C and I walked to a shopping mall at noon. I believe I have had sun stroke and had to take a long cool shower to cool my body and reduce my heart rate. The same thing today – it was 27 C, sunny, and hot, and here I am trying to cool my body..

Boy, no hesitation here. 

I am Canadian and I am loving it.

 

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time to embrace my grey hair?

I have started to have grey hair quite young (in my late 20s, early 30s). Since I started this current job almost 9 years ago, it has been getting worse. I believe more than 50% of my hair is now grey. I have been dyeing my hair regularly in the last 9 years and I can say that I forgot the real shade of my hair. More than that, lately I started to need dyeing my hair every two to three weeks. Boy, who has got time for this. Also and more alarmingly, what the heck is happening – why needing so soon?? 

I have been meaning to stop dyeing my hair for quite sometime, but it was my mom and sister who convinced me otherwise. They think I am too young to have grey hair and I agree, but the current situation states otherwise. I am one of these people who have prematurely grey hair I think it is time that I embrace it.

I hate seeing my hair half dyed half natural, so I will go to a hair dresser, a good one who is not afraid to cut it short!! (see a previous rant), show her or him some pictures as inspiration, and will get a dark grey colour with light highlights so that my grey hair can blend in well.

I have one last bottle of hair dye of the current shade that I plan to apply in the coming weeks. After a few weeks after that, the time of the grey hair will start. Let’s hope I can find a great hair dresser, can wear the grey hair well, and my clothes are compatible with it.

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an open letter to hair dressers

Dear hair dressers,

I have great respect for your profession and I admire your stamina; standing there whole day and working without a margin of error cannot be easy. But, please cut the hair short if your customers ask it to be so. We would appreciate it when you understand what we want and do your best to deliver it. It is not cool that you argue against things that we ask, especially if it is a short one that we want. There must be a way; come on.

Rant over.

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Tuesday already..

It is Tuesday already….The long weekends make the week quite short. A three day long weekend and a shorter week following it. What do you say? Double win! :))))

We have a great day today, which is supposed to chill down tomorrow. My windows are open. There is something nice about walking through the front of the windows and feeling the cool fresh air on your skin. All these things that I am grateful for during Summer 🙂 Add this list the ice cream and imagine how happy I can be 🙂

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I have some serious work to do within the next 3 months. This means I gotta organize myself well and use my time like a tiger. I must focus on this…. Doing what matters most. It is a challenge for me to do select things rather than everything in my list, but we all will see how this will go. Who knows? maybe I will do this 🙂

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In our interactions with a unit in my organization, we have been having some mis-communications and rejections only because of mis-understanding and lack of standards/clarity. I volunteered to work in that unit/committee with the hope of improving things and also my own understanding. I fear that they will not approve it, but if they do, then this will be awesome. You know I applied for a job last week with mixed feelings, and I wanted to note what I really like about my current job: this freedom to decide myself to undertake new things, and ability to learn new stuff is what make this job really unique and beneficial for my own development. Totally awesome! There is not any other job that can provide me with such a  great mental stimulation. It will be hard to leave this job.

Good to know! 🙂

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end of long weekend and thoughts on thrifting

The 3rd and the last day of the long weekend. It was so welcome and so refreshing – I am grateful for this long weekend.

Notable activities include the trips to the thrift stores and getting two blouses, a little and lovely decorative porcelain shoe, and some sewing thread 🙂 needless to say, they are all loved and the prices are incredibly good.

This being said, at one of the trips I have noticed the fiancee of a colleague of mine at another cashier. I did not know what to do first. I thought “this is what I always wondered – how would I take it to be known that I shop at thrift stores? I tried to convince myself that shopping at thrift stores is not only good for me, but for the thrift stores/charities, people work there, people benefiting from the charities, and the environment. Yet, I could not manage to not feel “cheap” and thus I left the cashier after 2-3 minutes and went around the store again to give this individual time to pay and leave the store so that the chances of them seeing me and them spreading the word to my colleagues first and then to others would reduce. I hope I could achieve this…

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It turns out interestingly that I am ashamed with shopping or being seen at thrift stores. That is very strange. It is also strange that I found shopping at thrift stores synonymous with “being cheap”. I should stop doing that, but….I cannot help it 😦

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I read in a blog yesterday that the lady explained using thrift stores and purchasing second hand items actually quite similar to staying at hotels and using their bed sheets, coffee mugs, and anything else they do offer you. Goodness know what happened in those hotel rooms and around those items…… That was the best explanation of why the second hand clothing or items are not worse than many other things we do at life. I even told my best friend about this and she too agreed. 

My best friend and I agree on a number of things; she like myself would not buy pants/shorts/pajamas, undies/socks/foot wear/shoes and anything else that might have a risk of risking hygiene. But we both are okay with shirts/jackets/blouses, purses, kitchen items, books, sewing notions, fabric, stationary items, and decorative stuff that can be cleaned/sterilized pretty easily. 

For me visits to thrift stores is a nice and exciting activity during the weekends. I happen to love old stuff and I like saving money – so it is a win-win situation. I read some inspiring blogs that find really unique and valuable items, like metallic vases and items, which I would like too. I wish I had discovered thrifting long time ago, but there is always a start 🙂 I know I need to work on this feeling of “being cheap” by being there and shopping there. Maybe I will never get over it, maybe I will over time – who knows? – but I am not giving up on this exciting activity yet.

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looking forward to the long weekend

It is Canada day tomorrow and we have the long weekend with Monday off.

I may be working on Monday but I am so excited for this long weekend! I just feel tired and too strained lately, and I am looking forward to winding down a little bit. This weekend will give me this opportunity 🙂

What are my plans?

Other than the regular stuff (i.e. cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cutting the grass – which I have done this afternoon), I plan to bake an unconventional type of sourdough this week. What could that be? Something that has not been done before…. I do not know really – I will have to really get creative here, or bake a regular sourdough – in any way it will be awesome 🙂

I would like to visit the thrift stores tomorrow and see whether i can find something interesting. I may buy some sewing material.

Sewing… Yes… Why do I not try sewing a blouse again? I have tons of fabric that I hauled last year from thrift stores 🙂 What a great idea – I hope I will not chicken again and do it!

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I may also visit a nearby international food store and get some dry beans and bulghur – these could be excellent choices to prepare office lunch for me. Good idea! 🙂

I also would like to start drying some lilacs from my yard.  I have incredible lilacs that I have been thinking about drying up for some time. I think it is the time…. Once they dry up, I want to hang them on my wall in a frame. The beauty of the flowers and plants in my yard…. How nice is the nature? I have daisies blooming up. They are all so exciting 🙂

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And other than this, I will look ahead my life, and plan and hope for the best. It is time that things change for the better. Now that I appreciate my life, how simple and easy going it is, and how well it works for me, including my budget, increased savings, and investments. There is a lot to be grateful for in my life. This weekend will give me an opportunity to re-think about them and re-feel my appreciation.

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making a job application tonite

I am making a job application tonite and I am pretty shaken up about it; I feel like they will make me a great offer and another highly toxic thing will happen at my current work place, and therefore, I will take the offer.

For some reason this does not make me happy, even though such a thing would make my leave highly justifiable and me a highly fortunate person.

I do not understand my dilemma. Do I want to go? Do I not want to go? What is it that keeps me from understanding it?

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I know that I am looking for reasons to make my mind to leave here. This afternoon I have had such a thing occurred at the workplace. I was like “okay, that is it. I do not have to take this sh.t anymore”. But an hour later it was fixed and actually I could see it was not a big deal at all. I think I want to make my mind and I want to leave here. I think that is why I keep looking for things that can annoy me and make me realize what I do not want about here.

Yet, I also feel incredibly responsible towards my team members and cannot think about leaving them behind. This is huge for me – can I be that selfish and leave them here for a job somewhere else? Can I transfer them to other groups here so that they can still have their jobs secured? Even so, will they want to be parts of these new groups? Do I have the right to do these to them?

If you ask me no, I do not have this right. But when it is actually right to do this – if I cannot be a happy boss, can I be a good boss anyhow? Could they make better at new teams? Maybe I am just exaggerating and in reality things would work out just fine. Really…

Maybe all I must do is to care less about all of these now, go through it as it develops, and make a sound decision if it comes to it. I can even talk to my team members before I make any decision and get their opinion – if they are genuinely okay with it, who knows, maybe I can take the job with a clear conscience.

But before any of these, they must offer me the job and they must offer me a job with much better conditions, salary, and benefits than my current one. I am thinking if the salary is at least 30% more, benefits are more extensive, pension is more generous and transferable from here to there without extra payments, there is at least five weeks/year paid annual leave, flexible schedule, and of course a standing desk at the office :))) I want too much – I know 🙂 🙂 🙂  Am I spoiled or have lost track of reality, or what?

In reality: I love this unnecessary but interesting mental judo. It helps me understand my needs and wishes related to my life and career.

Now, I must go and make this application.

 Wish me luck friends! 🙂

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adventures with kefir

I have had the excitement of owning kefir grains in the last one month 🙂

At first I left the kefir grains+milk mixture in a jar on the counter with only the top/lid being covered by a clean piece of cloth (secured with elastic band). I replaced milk everyday, directly from fridge. It did not get thick (that is, curdy) but tasted tangy and salty in 24 hours. I kept it that way for a week or so. 

Then I decided to wrap it with a kitchen towel and hoped that it warmed it and helped with fermentation. It did not make a huge difference in fermentation/texture/taste I would say.

Then I decided to put it in a cabinet and wrap with a thicker towel, away from sunlight. Again, there was no significant change.

Then, my sister convinced me to use warm milk; basically I put the fresh milk in a clean jar, covered the top, and put it in hot water bed for 10-15 min to warm it up. I then added the grains in warmed milk and also covered it with a thicker blanket. I replaced the milk everyday, and then started to change it every two days. These changes occurred last weekend (June 3-4). There was some thickening of the milk (curd) around the grains and there was some kind of mucus-like thing going on around the grains, but again there was not significant change in the texture. 

Then my best friend gave me the idea to warm up the thick blanket in the dryer to help fermentation. I did this starting this weekend – 3-4 min in dryer is enough. I did this whenever I changed the milk.

And a couple of day later, yesterday to be exact, I have had the kefir fermented in 12 hours! 🙂

I have removed the grains, fed them with fresh milk (which nicely gave me another batch of kefir today), and left the fermented kefir at room temperature away from sunlight (not covered by anything, except the lid) yesterday. This is called “second fermentation” by sources in internet. It started to separate (the curd and whey) a few hours after that and this evening I planned to make cheese/spread out of it (total of 24 hours of second fermentation). 

It was very easy.

It turns out if you leave it like that, the curd naturally moves up and it almost drains itself of the liquid part (i.e. whey). When used the spoon, I was surprised by how solid it felt 🙂 the bottom part where the curd touches the whey is naturally a little bit wet, but one can strain/drain this using a strainer (I did not this time, but I am planning next time). I added some salt, chili flakes, and dried dill to my first ever kefir spread! Yum 🙂

A couple of notes: I noticed that if I warm up the milk and the blanket, the jar/grains keeps warm for quite some time (for hours) and it is especially important to keep it warm where the grains are; my grains are always on the surface so covering the top/lid of the jar really good with a clean piece of cloth first and then with warm, thick blanket is a good idea.

Also, the fermentation temperature seems to make a difference; when it is colder temps, then it is more sour/tangy. However when it is fermented in a warmer environment, then it is not. There must be some bacteria that like colder temps and produce the tangy taste.

I used 2% or homogenized milk. I am not sure whether skim milk would yield such robust kefir grains. I must also say that there has not been significant change in the size or numbers of the kefir grains since I adopted them a month ago.

Overall, I am very excited and would love to try a cheese or two using the kefir curd. Here is one recipe that makes it sound really easy. Hope I can succeed in this 🙂

a regular Saturday

I am not having an extraordinary Saturday, but it is beautiful like the other ones.

I always loved, loved Saturdays. The day after the school/work week where you are free to do everything you want to do, every store is open, every cultural or entertainment-related attraction/event is available. It is beautiful and I like the sense of “freedom” it usually gives me. 

Like any other Saturday, I may be involved in cleaning the house, doing the laundry, feeding my starter/preparing levain for the Sunday sourdough, getting milk and egg from a store 10 min away, and speaking to my family. It may be all routine, but I still love it! 

It is Saturday! Wherever you are, hope you are having a wonderful day 🙂

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appliying for a job

I am feeling optimistic nowadays, which is awesome.

You know what I will do soon? I will apply for a job that I thought was suitable to me and is meaningful and challenging at the same time. 

I had saved the link to this job ad for some time and today I started drafting the application letter. 

I am not 100% sure that this is what I want to do; maybe things would change here and I would feel better with some change/some people leaving. But then maybe the fiscal situation would only go worse, and with that many other things like the way we run our organization, our work-loads, and the pressure on us – who knows? Seriously.

I feel obliged to trainees that I have recruited and believe that they are the only thing that can keep me here even if they offered me the said job opportunity….. Or, maybe I would talk to them and get them new places within the institution so that I could free myself from them and leave for the new job… I do not know.

This is an example of classical dilemma of being responsible for others versus being responsible for yourself – you can never know which one is better and always feel selfish if you choose to be responsible towards yourself, even though your primary responsibility is your own well being and happiness. Right?

Right…

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Seriously – what if I am offered this job and also like what they get to offer and decide to leave my position here? How soon can I leave here? Would I really do this? How would I do this? Oh, boy – it must be a really great job to be able to leave my job here…. Unless of course, something awful occurs on top of everything and acts as the last drop to help me end my bond with (and suffering) here…

I know it is too early to think about all of these because I did not even apply yet and there is no guarantee that I will be even selected for an interview, let alone be offered the job, but I cannot keep trying myself with the future possibilities. It is good to know that I still have some kind of faith for my current work-place, care about my team members, and am hopeful that a positive change can occur. At the same time I should also be cautious about the possibility of issues increasing over time and the low self-esteem this position/institution left in me.

I think I will go and make this application mostly because I am eager to know whether I can get this great job. If I cannot get it, I will not get lost, but if I get it, then my confidence will be higher.

It is worth it.

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What I would not do in the name of frugality

I would;

  •  not lower the home temperature below 16 C
  •  not eat spoiled food
  •  not dumpster dive (no offense meant)
  •  not re-use tea bags or coffee grains
  •  not shower in cool water
  •  not not use soap or other cleaning products
  •  not have no social life
  •  not wear torn clothes/shoes
  •  not not dye my hair
  •  not not give to people whom I care
  •  not not donate for good causes
  •  not not give gifts to those that deserve
  •  not cut my power, cable, water, or internet connection
  •  not not use moisturizers
  •  not not visit my doctor or not buy medications
  •  not use re-usable hygienic pad (no offense meant)
  •  not not use toilet paper
  •  not not visit my family
  •  not let others pay for my expenses

But it would be awesome if I had won the lottery! 🙂

dream

I have had a vivid dream this morning.

I was in a new dormitory. I was given a bed and locker in men’s unit. I have had around 8-9 roommates. I was pretty confident and comfortable being around them. They were young and kind. I felt like the boss – none of them could hurt me or could suppress me. Everything was gonna be fine. I was fearless. Nothing was a problem. I would make friends with them. Roommates alright!

Everything was so perfect. There was a lovely and clean kitchen. The bathrooms were very clean and sparkly with marble and everything. Then I could not find my locker – I have looked everywhere. Then I noticed that the bathroom doors were not secured – so I thought how do they manage privacy here? 

I left the building into a busy and large street. And then I could not find my way back to the dormitory. Was it this one or that one? I was not too far away, so it must be one of these streets. But which one?

I realized at that moment that nothing was as perfect as it seems. I was not the boss. New places, new challenges had their own unique problems. I was stressed. I lost my confidence that I could survive in this new environment.

Sounds familiar? 🙂

That dream was life. 

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the perfect day

I have got a great day today.

We have had a career celebration event for a past associate of mine. It was such a great ceremony 🙂 After the ceremony we went for a lunch and had a cozy afternoon. I was care-free, comfortable, feeling being among friends/family, and we had candid talks and laughter. So what else did I want?

Nothing much really……

It was a perfect day.

 

 

random thoughts

These are what have happened today:

1. My kefir needs 48 hours of incubation – period. Since we almost never get hot temperatures here, I better get used to this. 

2. I did not walk in the morning, but I did not take the cab, either. The honour went to the bus this morning 🙂

3. Chatted with a colleague today and he thought that a couple of people from our unit would leave considering the toxic and fiscal situation. That changes things for me, for some reason. I realize I have problems with them and their leave would be beneficial for us/me – we can change things in our unit if they go. More room to breathe and do things as we design, decide, and like.

4. Three work-related issues that I have been trying to overcome for months have finally resolved today.  One of them is a potential partnership.  It is preliminary but there is an interest. Things are moving at last! 🙂

5. I continued to contemplate about myself, my performance, my achievements, my strengths, and my limitations. 

6. I gained weight nowadays, which I link to eating too much peanut! Every time I eat it, I gain the weight. So why do I do that????

7. My arm continues to worry me. Finally I made an appointment – I wanna know whether there is something seriously wrong with my arm. I hit it to my desk at the office 2-3 weeks ago. It was not bad at the beginning but after I started digging the yard, it acted quite badly and it has been like this since then. Time to get it checked.

8. I do not know whether I will apply for the job opportunity I identified at the weekend. maybe I will. maybe I will not. What do I lose if I apply?

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Here is to all uncertainties and career problems; an amazing song.

Cool down those senses and have hope my friends!

 

 

on brutality of social media

I will write about the brutality in social media. Like Twitter.

Boy.

You risk getting a blast back if something you say pisses someone for some reason. It does not have to be personal, but there are many people out there who are ready to strongly oppose/make fun of an opinion. It does not matter that your intentions were good to start with. This is particularly true for sensitive topics. Or for topics that some people have sensitivity towards. 

I am not interested in adversity but I am not interested in restricting my freedom of speech, either. I certainly am not interested in apologizing for something that is not intended to hurt anyone. A healthy conversation is fine, but then when it becomes a piss race what do we do? What is the best way to stop people, especially those that I do not know, to respond and attack/make fun of my opinions?

Can I label is as a “rant”, or “please do not respond”, or what? Would that even stop getting a negative and unsolicited response?

How do we find that balance between expressing ourselves and risking adversity? 

It depends I guess.

There will be times that I will be hesitating to post a tweet but risking it and going forward with posting it anyhow. And there will be times that I will remember twitter is not the only place to express myself – even though I have every single right to do so.

keep going onward

It is a beautiful Saturday full of house chores (!) and freedom to do nothing and everything 🙂

It is not bad outside; it was rainy in the morning but right now we have a bright day. I worked a little bit on the yard. It bothers me that I am not done with it yet… Can I please finish it tomorrow and plant the seeds? I am so close, but my arm still hurts. Maybe I can make an effort tomorrow and hopefully cut the grass too. I meant to buy mulch and use it to make my yard look better/control weed. Alas…. The yard work was quite a progress this year, but honestly I am late to finish what I wanted to do, and may not be able to handle it all….. Oh, well 🙂

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I continue to be cranky about my job situation and considering changing it. Based on my past experience, once I put it in my mind, I will do it. But I try to be careful and play safe, too. I cannot lose a job that pays well and with some level of security for another job that does not excite me and does not give me what I already have. The best thing would be to keep an eye on job opportunities, apply if a great opportunity exists, keep going in the current job as if it is the best thing that occurred to me, and if something better is offered to me, consider it seriously. Until then, I will keep going. 

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My sister and mom gave me good information about kefir; while my kefir grains seem to be working in terms of the taste, I cannot get the texture right. I left it undisturbed for 48 hours last time and there was some clots, but nothing too much again. I now have it in a cupboard, the top part is wrapped loosely by a thick cloth, and hopefully it is feeling a little bit warmer, and the bacteria and yeast are feeling more active and alive! 🙂 My sister also suggested that I warm up the milk or the container a little bit to expedite the process. Sounds all great to me 🙂

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And I want to finish this post by stating that I have shopped and feeling better because of it 🙂 What is it with shopping and feeling better, friends? Why is this activity have such a great effect on us/me? 

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job situation assessment

I do not know whether what I am doing is right or plain stupid, but I am looking for jobs. I think I have found one ad that may be a good fit for me.

But I am hesitant to apply – is it too much of a work to make this application/interview? Do I really want this change in my life? What if it is not a unionized position and they can kick me out anytime they want?

What are my choices really?

Right now I have a respected position. I have a nice-figure salary. I have benefits. I am capable of doing many different things and getting involved in a variety of activities that are related to my profession. I have a simple life in a small city. I am capable of saving money. I have a routine. Life is easy and abundant. I am bored sometime, but life works well. Work, however, is stressful and full of problems and problematic people. One problem of mine is to be involved in too many stuff and getting fragmented. We also have the demoralizing financial issues, for now and for the future, and the constant nagging feelings of “we should be doing more” and “I am not good enough“.

While the idea of resigning and leaving things behind sounds awesome to me, I think I should be careful about the risks of potentially incorrect decisions. I realize today, for example, that being unionized is very important to me. I also realized that my salary is in fact a great one that many people would love to have. So would it not be possible for me to look into the positives of this job and identify more as to what is important for me?

Analysis

What I appreciate about this job and my life in this city?

  • Great salary/respected job position
  • Some level of safety/being unionized
  • Freedom on projects and activities undertaken
  • Ability to save and invest for my future
  • Simple and easy life

 

What I do not like/appreciate about my job and my life in this city?

  • The stress of undertaking too much work/not being able to say no to requests for help (This can be fixed)
  • The delays in organizational support systems; lack of efficient systems to keep things moving (I cannot do much about this, other than accepting the situation as it is)
  • Feeling inadequate. The constant struggle to “achieve” things. (This feeling is constant and life is too short – so what do I do? How do I handle this feeling? Work better? More? Smarter? Luckier? Among everything else, this is the one that is hard to digest. I really dislike this feeling)
  • The unhopeful future financial forecast and pension plan changes; the possibility of deeper provincial financial issues that can erase what has accumulated in terms of pension contributions and the house equity (This is very scary)
  • The possibility of more pressure on us because of the fiscal problems; the talks and acts of firing; the demoralized and agitated environment

 

I can still apply for jobs and who knows, maybe I will come across a great one. I do not have to seriously consider a new job unless I have got a great offer. Those that did not yield an offer, or with unsatisfactory offers are not the problem – I can turn them down. So.. With this in mind, I think I will just relax now. I gotta relax and handle the future uncertainty as well as the feeling of being inadequate… That is the best remedy for now. Let’s hope I can do that.

you know it when it is over

We have had a day of strategic planning for our organization yesterday and today.

The theme has been “how do we strive in this challenging financial situation” considering also the fact that our institution is firing people and this will likely increase over time.

While I was happy to contribute and produce ideas for a better organizational future, I also felt that it was just too surrealistic… Like an ideal world that actually does not exist… I know that it is not gonna happen even with our best efforts, so why do we pretend like things can really get better?

I also heard one or two people who came here with big ideals, plans, and names, and now were leaving for smaller jobs somewhere else. I did feel some kind of inspiration from this – not the smaller job part but leaving here for a new job part –  and I am feeling like I will be leaving myself in a year.

Right now, I do not know where I would go or which kind of a job I would get (ideally I would leave my current life and work only after finding a new job), but I would love one that gives me joy and excitement. My current job is too stressful, too demanding. Like many of my colleagues in my position, I am feeling inadequate and inferior. I do not feel good about myself or my work performance. I do not work my best.  I do not contribute my best. I do not feel good or excited anymore. My entire life is negatively affected, not only my professional life…..

So what is the point in keep going?

I am making a mental note that if I can find a good and exciting job, I would like to leave my work and life here behind me and start a new chapter in my life. Who knows; maybe this is exactly what I need to feel good again about myself and about my life.

a brief snap shot of the day

  • got up at around 8 am
  • felt kind of tired and un-enthusiastic
  • had an untasty breakfast and my coffee was cold. Can you imagine? My COFFEE WAS COLD!!! WHAT IS UP WITH TODAY?!!!!
  • cleaned the house – it lasted longer than regular. Only because of my lack of enthusiasm
  • spoke with sister and mom
  • did the laundry
  • fed my sourdough starter
  • digged up a portion of the yard; it started to look  lot better. I need two more days of work and then it will be fine. I will also plant seeds now that I have a piece of the yard without the grass 🙂
  • ate beans and it was lovely
  • walked to a store and picked milk, egg, soft drinks, and chocolate – ate the chocolate on the way home :)))
  • got bored at home so decided to walk 
  • ended up at the shopping mall
  • purchased freezer bags and parchment paper
  • walked back – it was raining lightly
  • enjoyed walking and getting the fresh air
  • now resting finally 🙂

I have a busy day tomorrow too. I want to shape and prove my sourdough loaf; work on the yard; speak with family; purchase a couple items for the dinner tomorrow; cook for the dinner; bake the sourdough; host my friends and enjoy the rest of the evening 🙂

Kind of feeling like a super girl nowadays 🙂

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weekly allowance

I mentioned in an earlier post that I studied for a very long time, and as a result I had very modest income and thus life style until ~10 years ago. So being a frugal person is a second nature to me. However, in no time in my life I have been as frugal as this year, or a two years period a decade ago.

A decade ago, work was really competitive, things were going really problematic with my boss, I was fired twice (even though I was re-offered a better position in the same place and never had a day without being on payroll), and thus I realized if I want to keep my chin up during financially turbulent times, I had to be extremely frugal.

So what did I do?

I moved into a smaller and cheaper studio apartment, leaving my gorgeous one bedroom apartment on the 20th floor of a downtown complex. It was located 3 minutes away from my work-place; had swimming pool, exercise room, and other amenities; and the apartment had a wonderful downtown view that was always a delight to look at. It was a also secure building. It hurt to move out but it was the right decision.

The studio apartment was 20 min away from my work-place and the apartment complex was nothing like the previous one, but both the apartment and the building were okay. It was a slightly less secure street but nevertheless I was comfortable there. I spent two years in that apartment. I remember very clearly counting on pennies in my purse and making calculations. My very ambitious weekly budget was $50 at that time…..

I do not know how I ended up with this amount, but honestly I made extraordinary effort to keep my weekly expenses (including grocery, personal care and cleaning products, and other miscellaneous expenses) under $50. This budget was extremely restricting at that time – I remember this feeling pretty clearly. I believe I could never manage to do so; my weekly expenses were always more than $50.. I think there was no movie or concert ticket in that allowance. My maximum book budget was $5/week (and I bought books every week). Eating out, hosting, or meeting with friends were a rare occasion, even though I lovingly had my favorite weekend breakfast consisting of two bagels and a cup of coffee. I could never think about a weekend without this breakfast 🙂

While I struggled with keeping my expenses under $50, I also saved quite a bit of my income. I put the money I saved into my RRSP account. I know I was locking it this way, but this gave me an enormous peace of mind at that time. I felt really good and proud of this investment for my future. Unfortunately at around the same time the markets had a bad time (remember 2008 turn-down?), so I think I mostly lost money at that time, but that is not the point 🙂

This year I have a similar budget, only that it is designed in a different way. My weekly allowance is 120 bucks for grocery; not including the personal care and cleaning products, hosting and eating out with friends and colleagues, and house-related or other expenses. If I average all expenses I made, I believe it could be ~$130 per week this year.

Not bad, eh?

It also does not feel restrictive. 

I kind of think that this might be because I budget a reasonable amount (that is $120/week + additional expenses) and I have the flexibility. It may also be because I am a seasoned frugal now?? 🙂

Have a great Friday night everyone 🙂

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another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

I have not spent any money, not even for the transportation; I walked.

These days were very rare last year; I was amazed the first time I could manage not to pay anything (including the bus fare) in a single day. I still am! It just is becoming a routine thing now. Routine, but still exciting 🙂

Talking about surprising myself 🙂 The feeling of empowerment is high. I am one step closer to simple and self-relying life.

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

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my kefir grains :)

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My friend who we visited yesterday gave me kefir grains! 

I am so excited!

Last year I had looked on the net for information about it. I was hesitant to purchase it, so I let it go from among my plans. So when my friend yesterday asked me whether I have had other fermented food (she knows that I have a sourdough starter),and whether I would like some kefir grains she has had,  I was like, yes – please!! 🙂

A wish came through.

Unexpectedly.

I m grateful for my friend and my sourdough starter – it will keep company of my second house pet 🙂

cemetery visit

There is a nice cemetery somewhere like 20 min away from home. I used to walk to visit it time to time before I moved to my current home – my then-flat was very close.

It is a perfect reflection of life; there is a combination of old and young tombstones; big and little ones; single and family ones.. There is nothing nice about death, but there is such a nice feeling of knowing that it is peaceful there. And that we are still alive and have a chance to make the best out of our lives. However miserable our lives may look, we still have it and all the opportunities it can offer us.

I used to be scared of cemeteries when I was younger. After all we always visited the graves of our loved ones; family mostly, and there are so many horror stories/movies we grew up with. I visited my dad’s grave last year; I was not scared but I was immensely saddened….  His name was on a tomb. So saddening… But it was peaceful, too. He lies in a beautiful grave yard, under the branches and leaves of beautiful trees, and away from the hassle, chaos, and noise of city centre. I still remember the voice of the trees; the soothing noise their leaves make when the wind goes through them…. Trees are so magical and there is nothing more soothing than having them at cemeteries.

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When I woke up this morning, I was excited to see the bright day out and decided to walk. I bought myself a nice cup of coffee and bagels at a cafe and then I walked to that cemetery. It changed a little bit since I have been there last time. There is now a couple of sections for the ashes. There are more seating space. I sat on one of them today for a few minutes. I asked “how do I make the best out of my life?”.

I did not have an immediate answer (from my subconsciousness, certainly not from the souls lying in the cemetery – I am not superstitious). But I sure am reminded about all the opportunities I have at life. My life.

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what a beautiful day

The day was dull before afternoon. I was down actually. But after that it just became awesome!!

How?

One of my ex-team members came to visit me, bringing along also her 1 year old son 🙂 What a beautiful boy he is and how happy it did make me to see them again.

I am lucky that my team members come by to visit me time to time. I often get emotional seeing them, but I must say it is because it is such a proud and joyful occasion. 

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I always have time and support for my team members. When they worked with me, they were young and shaky. I see them get confident and exceptional over time. May they always be happy , healthy, and have a beautiful life that they love.

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work and summer

Life continues, and time flies; this is how it feels this week.

I cannot believe that it is Wednesday! I feel like I have so much to do and not done much. Three office days passed already…

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On Monday afternoon I was at a professional event where one of the speakers said something like that “you gotta make sure you work for yourself, but not for others by doing their work“.

How true… I am so involved in other peoples’/trainees’ work that when I need to take care of my own work, I feel stressed because I either run out of time or the energy. I want to claim my own time at the office. Even though I like having trainees under my supervision, I must admit they are too much of a work sometime. It is interesting that not only my colleagues, but also my trainees feel the need to ask me even the smallest thing that they are capable of figuring out themselves. I do not know why I have this effect on everyone, but this gotta change.

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I kind of started doing  that recently; I aim for having at least 2 days/week without any meetings or commitment to others. I found that when I have such schedules, I am most relax, unstressed, and productive. I like my freedom in those days and the peaceful mindset. I love those “free” days 🙂 They make me happier.

Summer is almost here and I have great plans in terms of work. I have a couple of reports to be finished, new collaborative work to be done, at least one project application to make, while also relaxing during the warm, sunny days. This year is unique in the sense that I am not going to visit my family during the summer. That means I have time for myself. I would love to take 2 weeks off during summer. I am not sure when I would like that and what to do during that time, but I am hoping I will at least make it a priority to enjoy the warm outdoors, whether this means hiking, working in the yard, or sitting at a park. 

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on being self-sustaining

Since I started baking my own bread last year, I have been feeling more “able“. 

Bread has always been my favorite food. Strange enough after I started baking my own loaves, the amount of bread I consumed has reduced. How strange… I wonder whether it being a natural product with no additives or chemicals has anything to do with this? Anyways, I am proud of the fact that within the last one year I did not buy any store-made bread; I only consumed my own, mostly the precious sourdough loaves. Talking about the joy of baking and the happiness coming out of it 🙂

Anyways, when I bought my sewing machine last November, I thought it was an additional step towards being resourceful and a self-sustaining life-style. I was planning to sew my own blouses, which I have failed so far, but one day I will do this. This and others, like sewing quilt, doing repairs (which I have), and sewing cloths/placemats to be used around the house (which I have, too) will keep me feel independent and able. It feels good indeed.

We may not realize but there are so many ways that even someone like me, who does not like  house chores, demonstrates the ability to self-sustain. Consider cooking at home and feeding ourselves, cleaning our own houses, taking care of the yard (boy, thinking about cutting the grass… argh… one thing that I really dislike, but keep doing anyhow), dyeing our own hair to name a few. I feel so again when I walk to or from the office, or to the shopping malls, instead of taking the bus or the cab.  By walking I freely transport myself and relax at the same time. Do you not think that we in fact all are, to some degree, independent of others/stores/services and rather are self-sustaining?

I have spent sometime reading posts about homesteading this evening. I have no practical interest in homesteading myself as a single and middle aged city girl, but I sure enjoy reading about the daily lives of the homesteaders, their farming adventures, issues, and relationships with nature. My current life and level of sustainability is no-where near the homesteaders’ life, but I am doing way better than many people living in a mid-size city. I guess even though I do not realize it well, I happen to have a kind of simple, affordable, and sustainable life that I must be excited about 🙂

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walking, gardening, and good night sleep

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I am beat!! 🙂 I walked and went around on foot for 4 hours yesterday evening. When I returned home, my feet and legs were aching and they kept doing so the rest of the day. Thank goodness, in the morning everything was back to normal 🙂

I wondered whether it was like this when I was young. I could not remember for sure. I know I would be tired sometime, but it would be because of working/walking/standing whole day? I had so much energy when I was young that I would not be surprised with this.

Anyways, the physical exercise and activity continued today too. I decided that it was the right time to fix the yard. The back of my yard has uneven surface, which bothers me. I tried to level it a little bit in the past, but there is still so much to do. So I decided today was a good time to have this as a project.

Boy… Ok… Long story short; I probably will have to work on that part of the yard 3-4 more weekends. I could continue after 1 hour of digging, carrying soil around, collecting glass and plastic pieces (previous owners did not do a great job with keeping that yard healthy), but at that point my back was aching from forward folds and all the stuff carried around, so I decided to stop for today. 

The work I have done today is not a huge one, but it is a good start. I think by taking it easy I will be able to handle this without taxing my body and mind. I am really looking forward to finishing it and planting seeds and flowers around. And I am glad that I did not wait till end of May when we usually start working in the gardens 🙂 I feel like I am on time, even early to work on the yard, so I feel relax rather than stressed about it.

One other plan of mine is to have mulch and place it around the trees. There is also a part of the yard that I want to cover with it; this section has currently small rocks/stones to cover it and every year more and more wild plants grow in it. I hope that by mulch I can make it look a little bit better and also help get rid of unwanted plants. Good plan 🙂

It is great to have projects and work on them, and it is great to be out there with nature. I am also happy about the physical exercise I have got. I am sure I am looking at a sound sleep tonite and many weekends to come ! 🙂

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Be humble

I have had a meeting with my unit lead this afternoon about my performance.. Hah ha!!! She did not say it was a performance review as I actually report to someone else but she is the head of our unit so she thinks she has a say in it. As someone who is not good about advertising herself and her team, I actually appreciated the opportunity to present myself in paper. So, I was okay to send her, as per her request, my entire CV listing my work and accomplishments, and see her reaction. Well, sufficient to say that now she has a better idea about my capabilities and work. Great! 🙂

I am nevertheless slightly scared because when someone above you asks for performance related information, it may mean one thing. I doubt that the information I presented would be somehow used to fire me, but you never know with people; if they have the intention they can always find something to brag about. I hope that will not be the case. Let’s cross the finger.

It is hard to work in an environment that you always watch your back and cannot trust people’s intentions. I realize that I do that sometime with my team members if their performance is not satisfactory. Glad to say that I am very ashamed of myself for doing this and I hope I will never let them feel such work-place toxicity again.

So the best lesson I have learnt today was to be humble. And it feels good.

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Spring plans

I used to have posts about the things I would like to change or implement in my life. The majority of the time they did work really well and I have implemented them in my life. I do not think I have done this for some time. So let’s roll again 🙂

1. Eat at least 10 food that I have not eaten in the last one week. I keep eating the same things over and over; apple, tomato, onion, herbs, milk, yogurt, beans, cheese, and eggs are the regularly consumed food. While they are more or less healthy, I am afraid I am missing the opportunity to benefit from other veggies/fruits/dry food. In the past whenever I recognized this, I aimed every week to purchase and eat at least 6 different things that I have not eaten within the last week. This time I would like to increase this to 10 so that I can challenge myself (always fun!).

2. Consume the pantry food that are older than a year. I know what they are; rice, bulghur, and wild rice. I am not into rice that much, but I can make an effort to consume more of it. I will get creative with the others. It will be great to use them up so that I can get fresh ones 🙂

3. Thrift shop for blouses and shirts for a renewed wardrobe this Spring :).  I want to budget 50 bucks to keep visiting the thrift stores and buy blouses and shirts. I am happy with my latest purchases and I have been meaning to renew my shirts for some time (many of them have been in use for at least one year). Change is always good and I am discovering that certain styles are fitting me well. It is exciting 🙂

4. Declutter the wardrobe. After I purchase new tops, I want to remove from my wardrobe those that I do not wish to wear; some can be modified (I hope I can make this with my sewing machine),  donate (those that are in good shape), or dump (those that are old and battered). Since this has been a wish of mine for so long, I think it will feel awesome 🙂

5. Clean the yard and plant veggies/seeds. I do not know how the previous owners managed, but the yard is uneven which requires me to fix it. Also there are broken glass bottle and plate pieces everywhere. I cleaned quite a bit in the past but this year I want to do a better job. I also want to grow herbs and other veggies. Spring is almost here, so I can be busy working at the yard the next few months.

6. Lose another 10 pounds. I managed to lose 15 pounds in Fall. I gained 5 pounds back but I am still keen about losing a little bit more of fat. I know morning walks from home to office as well as eating lots of raw veggies and not eating after 8 pm coincided with my weight loss. So I am interested in replicating these behavior and hope that I can lose another 10 pounds 🙂

7. Drink more tea and reduce coffee consumption. I increased my coffee consumption too much. This coincided with me having my weekend breakfast at home rather than at a cafe. I drink around 6 cups of coffee per day now, which does not sound good to me. I do not experience physiological problems like palpitations, but nothing of too much can be good. So from tomorrow on I will focus on drinking 3 cups of coffee per day at most. The rest of the time I can drink tea. Good plan 🙂

8. Get a new hobby or activity that I do not usually do. Whether it is a sitting meditation or hiking the trails, I do not know.  I have read somewhere about “nature bathing” or something like that. Basically it means sitting in a park or around trees, and exposing our body and mind to the natural beauty and freshness around us. I am looking forward to finding a park and doing this this summer.

9. Surprise myself :). I would like to surprise myself by doing things that I would not normally do. I believe this would help me break my routine habits, or see things differently. No idea how I could do this but having it in the list means I will revisit the idea time to time. Who knows maybe I could come up with something interesting 🙂

10. Sew. I could not focus on sewing yet……. I have the machine, notions and fabric, so all I need is a new project that will help me get excited. Ideas?

on thrift stores, spring, and gardening

I continue to be excited after the thrift store treasure I hunted yesterday 🙂

I keep thinking; is it becoming more of a normal for me to shop at thrift stores? 

There are two thrift/donation stores at walking distance that I seem to visit frequently only lately. I am not comfortable with the idea of buying shoes, undies, trousers/shorts, sleep wear, or any other personal items (like towels or bed linens),  but shirts, blouses, jackets, sewing notions/fabrics, and books are okay.

I still seem to be reluctant “to be seen shopping at these stores” (talking about social pressure that I need to deal with in my own mind…) and to buy things that will give me an urge of “cleaning intensely’ before use. No offense meant to anyone with the latter point – I know it is just a personal thing; realistically any of the items at this stores can be cleaned and used, and I have not heard of a case that a serious harm occurred because of an item purchased from a thrift store. In contrast, in terms of limiting waste, recycling, reusing, and protecting not only the natural resources but also the unfortunate and poor, I am clear that it is the most responsible thing to do. Also, the variety is much better than any store we have around here and prices are very, very reasonable. I have not passed that “cleaning” stuff just yet. Anyways.

I was thinking; then why did I not do that before and shop at thrift stores?  

I have no answer to that, other than the fact that I think it just fits my current budget and life-style much better than before and I do see an additional personal benefit in terms of the excitement of browsing the stores (there is always something new), finding something that I can really like (and I mean that – the three blouses I purchased lately are incredibly exciting for me to have and wear), and the ability to purchase them without breaking my current lean spending plans (three blouses cost me 13 bucks so far….).

When was the last time I was so excited about something that cost me so little?

You got it.

——————————

It is a kind of gray and rainy day. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a short walk in the morning. The winter has been hard on us but nature is awakening with trees getting greener and the air feeling a little bit more fresh, more Springy… I am really excited about walking becoming so easy and second nature to me. 

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I want to do better with my yard this Spring. I would love to have a herb garden and some nice flowers. We will see how it goes, but today I am proud to say that I planted 6 potato which had sprouted in my kitchen. My mom advised me to cut them in 2 or 4 and plant in the yard 5-10 cm below the surface. I have done this and i hope that I will see them grow into more potatoes 🙂 I have also planted the roots of fresh mint that I had purchased this week. I really would love them to survive and thrive – so far I was only able to grow mint and peas in the last 3 years…..

Let’s cross the fingers my friends 🙂

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thrift store treasures

 I have not written in a while, have I? I feel like I must write, write, write 🙂

A couple of things;

1) I continue to get up at around 7 am… Never in my life have I done this consistently. and with no good reason, like a flight or something.

Is it the end of winter? Daylight? Or plain old age?

Huh… My friends, they say as we age we need less sleep. I guess I am experiencing this. It is a fact! 🙂

2) I made an effort to take the bus this week, rather than the cab. It is working. I still do not feel like walking because of low morale, but I will re-start this sometime in the future. It is gonna feel great – I know it 🙂

3) I have walked two hours again today to a shopping mall. This is, I believe, the 3rd Saturday straight that I have done this. I checked two thrift stores and found myself a nice blouse – just for 4 bucks 🙂 this is the 3rd blouse I have got in the last three weeks from thrift stores that excites me like this 🙂 It is a beautiful thing and I love it 🙂 I tried around 15 other blouses – one of them was really awesome! I wish it was a little bit larger 🙂 Oh, well. next time 🙂

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I found it very interesting today that I am getting more and more comfortable with the idea of buying clothes from thrift stores. I previously had bought books, sewing notions/fabric, purses, a jacket or two, and one or two shirts over many years. What can I say? Sometimes I can find really amazing stuff and they are very affordable. I also help others by shopping at these stores, I would like to think. So I should feel okay. But, see there is something still bothering me about shopping there. I guess I am worried about people recognizing me and then talking behind me. After all I am not poor, and I can afford new clothes, and I would not like to be called “cheap”. But I must admit it is so much fun to go around the thrift stores, look at all the interesting stuff (they have more diverse items than regular store, don’t they?), and find a lovely piece that I can love and use 🙂 

On a separate note, walking was very easy and fun today. I am really grateful for doing this. It is an healthy activity and it makes me realize how fine my body and stamina is. Especially when I compare this ability to before when I had low energy for years and would not want to walk even 5 minutes… To be able to do this now feels awesome 🙂

Sunshine Blogger award: nominated and nominating :)

sunshine-blogger

Thank you Corrine at Sew and Sew for nominating me for this blog award!

Corrine and I recently got connected here and we have common understanding about certain aspects of life and importance of support and empathy. Plus, have you seen her projects – she sews! I sure am inspired by many of her sewing adventures and by her warm personality. Have a look at her blog if these features of her interest you.

I am usually skeptical about this kind of blog awards, primarily because I do not know who is benefiting by the circulation of these awards. But I am happy with recognizing and saying nice things about other fellow bloggers, and telling a little bit about myself along the process. So I will go for this one, too.

As usual there are some rules, which I directly copy and paste from Corinne’s nomination post:

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award (making sure each one knows they are nominated) and write them 11 new questions to answer.

Here are Corrine’s questions and my answers to them:

  1. Did you have any other names in mind for your blog (if so, what were they)? I cannot remember right now; but I remember initially this was a professional blog where I was planning to write about our job/career. That means it was probably a very boring name!  Boy, am I glad that I switched to a personal blog after realizing that a professional blog was not gonna work 🙂 
  2. If you could choose a language to be fluent in, which would it be? Italian! i always wanted to learn it, especially after I spent a couple of months in Italy when I was young. What a great, magical language. Allora! 
  3. What is the best joke that you know? Hmmm… You have got me there. I am such a serious person that can I say that I cannot come up with a joke right now? How disastrous! Give me a joke book right away!!! 🙂 
  4. When it comes to food, do you prefer sweet or savoury? Savoury. I have no sweet tooth and I would love any salty/spicy food over a sweet one, except the peanut butter which I love and can eat anytime 🙂
  5. Which blog post are you most excited to upload? I like pretty much all of my posts as they come quite spontaneously and are not planned at all (well, maybe with the exception of weekly budget checks, which are quite structured). if I must choose, though, I would say my “joy journal” posts are the most joyful ones 🙂
  6. What is your favourite project that you have completed so far? I believe in the recent years this would be my bread baking adventure 🙂 it has been almost a year and I am progressing quite a bit and it has been literally very electrifying and satisfying experience 🙂 In terms of my sewing projects, I have no excellent product yet but I love the placemats I did for the kitchen 🙂
  7. What was your last search on Google? That was probably the weather forecasts! we are still having quite a chilly weather (today was – 10 C ….You are welcome – I hope now you appreciate the Spring and warm weather more  🙂 )
  8. What song can you not get out of your head at the moment? “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables has been in my mind the entire day. Sad, but beautiful and powerful…..  
  9. What is the best gift that you have received? My mom gave me a gold necklace for my 18th birthday with my initial on the pendant. My mom was working very hard to provide for us at that time. It must have been so hard for her to come up with the money but she had…. I value that necklace more than anything else.
  10. If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower? Heal. I would heal sickness.
  11. What is your favourite day of the week? Friday has always had a special place in my heart! 🙂

And, here are my nominees!

The nominees have a choice of accepting or rejecting the nominations – totally up to them. Of course this list is incomplete as I can only nominate 11 today, but I am hoping there will be other occasions where I will be able to acknowledge and nominate more fellow bloggers 🙂

  1. Deb from https://onceuponahotflash.com/. Her daily grateful posts are a must see! She is really nice and I know that she always has some positive and wise things to say – thanks Deb!
  2. https://quercuscommunity.com/2017/04/18/random-reflections/ here is a nice gentleman with an interest in photography and community work. He is quite fun and wise too – always a delight to follow such bloggers. No nonsense and all beautiful/meaningful posts.
  3. Jessica from https://betweenthreewaters.com/. Jessica always has something funny to say about her motherhood experience and her daughters are two very delightful young kids! I also learn quite a bit about farming and farm life by following her. Take a look at her blog 🙂
  4. https://apparentlyimbipolar.wordpress.com/2017/04/17/normal-is-it-scary/ I recently started following this young lady who is writing about her mental health issues and progress. I applaud her for increasing awareness about mental health/bipolar disease – so well done.
  5. NinaSusan at https://ninasusan.com/. Ninasusan and I have a common pursuit in life – happiness! One of my best friends here at blogger space – always understanding, wise, and supportive. Thanks Ninasusan – one day, we will shine thru that happiness!!
  6. Jennie at https://jenniefitzkee.com/. She is a teacher and always have something wonderful to say about children and teaching/learning. I wish she was my teacher when I was at school. 
  7. https://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/maple-yogurt-multi-grain-rolls/. One of the blogs that I follow which is dedicated to baking bread! So many yummy recipes – check it out 🙂
  8. Cheryl and Becky at https://beckyandchaos.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/spicy-lentil-soup/. These ladies have awesome travel adventures and always great recipes. They  lately started a challenge to try a new recipe every week, which I find very inspiring. Enjoy!
  9. Anne from https://snowbirdofparadise.com/. Anne is one of those bloggers whom I respect quite a lot. She has always been wise in her speech and her comments, and is not afraid to write excellent pieces on social issues and events. 
  10. https://luxuriouslythrifty.wordpress.com/ One of the recent follows of mine; a great and sincere blogger writing about frugal plans/journey, and other stuff. Quite a warm person with honest posts – hard to not like what she needs to say 🙂
  11. Mo from http://devisecreateconcoct.com/. Another great site about frugal life and all bunch of other stuff such as DIY projects. Check it out.

And, here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What do you think is the most beautiful thing about your life?
  2. Do you prefer warm or cool climate? 
  3. If you were to protest, what would it be about?
  4. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  5. What flower do you like most? Please tell us about it.
  6. What do you think about cats?
  7. We all have dreams – have yours materialize in your life? What was your biggest dream ever?
  8. Would you see yourself living in a homestead sometime soon?
  9. Tell us about your favorite dish/food.
  10. Which one is less intimidating – singing or acting in front of 1,000 people?
  11. What would be your advise about being happy?

having energy and new projects feel fine

It has been a fine day today. I am kind of bored and anxious about something I care a lot, but other than that, it has been going well.

Today I got up around 9 am, had a light breakfast at home, and then walked all the way to one of the shopping mall’s area. There are a number of dollar and thrift stores in that region, which I really love to visit. I did not buy anything today, but it was so much fun to go around the shelves, look at items that are usually unique, browse the books, and checking the sewing items/notions.

I then walked back home. I estimate that I walked around 2 hours today. I think this is awesome 🙂  I feel strong, powerful, able, healthy, and lighter 🙂 Thanks to all vitamin D and iron supplements that I was prescribed two years ago.. What a difference they have made in my energy levels. 

———————————————–

My interest to consume the food hoarded in the freezer and pantry is going strong. I have consumed quite a bit of the “old” items and have replaced some of them back with fresh ones (like minced beef, chicken, pasta, and legumes). I still have a number of food that I have not touched in the last year or so, including some frozen veggies, wild rice, bulghur, and dried veggies. So I would like to prioritize their consumption in the coming weeks. That is my mental note for today.

My interest in designing new projects continues. Now that I have had all bunch of different projects implemented in my life (decluttering, budgeting, saving money, being frugal, using coupons and discounts, shopping bans, baking bread, taking the bus or walking to go to work, etc.), I am naturally looking for new ones. It excites me, learning about this kind of things, planning, putting an effort to implement them, monitoring my progress, and then improving it if I am still interested in (remember the #superduperleanspendingmonth that I left in two weeks or so because it did not work out for me? 🙂 it is okay every once a while). 

I now am interested in reducing my waste. I have checked a couple of sites and it sounds like I have a lot of extra waste at my hand: I still use paper towel when needed (for cleaning the bathroom for example), wet-disposable clothes for cleaning the sinks and the floor, facial tissue/napkin after meals. I do not compost, though I do recycle paper and other items accepted by our city. I donate what I do not need/use anymore and shop from thrift or second-hand stores as appropriate. I re-use the plastic/nylon shopping bags as garbage liners. I reduced my food waste quite a bit by shopping small amounts (store is 5 min away from me – so it is easy to stop by more than once a week). But I still have waste (1 large garbage bag/week – not too much but it can be less).

So what do I do about it?

I think I should keep reading and continue to be inspired by others’ experience. I will also have a careful look at what my waste and garbage includes. I really want to compost but I will have to see whether I can do this inside the house (no worms or anything) – if I want it to be a continuous activity I must find the most practical way to do so even during our harsh winter.

So these are my new plans 🙂

Shoot a comment if you have ideas to help me reduce my waste/garbage!

this was not the life I wanted

This was not the life I wanted.

I was supposed to love, be loved, and have a family of my own.

I was supposed to be happy and joyful, smiling and laughing. I was supposed to be with my friends, having care-free and fully supportive relationships without personal agendas.

I was supposed to live in a fair and just life.

I was supposed to work at an organization that valued me and my efforts rather than belittling me because of my gender, where I was from, or what they assumed I believed in.

I was supposed to be comfortable under my own skin, feeling great about my own identity, body, character, and acts.

I was supposed to feel confident and strong against any tides life could throw in my direction.

I was supposed to be free, walk in the weekends in busy streets, see the movies and dance to the songs I have loved.

I was supposed to discover myself in relationships.

I was supposed to have excitement. 

I was supposed to live somewhere else.

I was supposed to be happy.

but I am not.

————————————

I have none of these that I thought I was entitled to. Not because I did not want to. But because I made choices.

I chose to move here and take this position, which now is under too much stress and the environment is getting more and more toxic, with lay offs and people blaming, belittling, or pushing away each other.

I chose to have a secure position that will give me financial stability and a sense of meaning and strength. I chose to do what I once loved to my bones – my job.

I chose to stay even after I realized whatever I was getting was not enough for me to feel good about myself or my life. In contrast, I was in so much stress and pressure that I do not know why I have stayed. Tell me – why did I choose to stay?

I chose to not have trips to see new places or friends to rather save the money for my future.

I chose to over and over take a mental note and saying “there is nothing much here for me to do alone”. A hobby class? A dance/sports club? A cooking class? Poetry? Writing? New language? Anything. I chose to have no such interests.

I chose that instead of having zillion of friends, I would have a few good ones in my life.

I chose to believe in that I was not a good cook so I hardly host my friends at my home.

I chose that the most interesting activity for me at the weekends would be to visit the two shopping malls in my city, browse the stores, and purchase what I may need.

I chose to believe in that at my age of mid-40, I was already old.

I chose to believe that I was not lovable.

I chose to have no future plans. I have tried multiple times. It just does not happen – what am I waiting for?

What is it that drags and anchors me down?

————————–

What am I supposed to change in my thinking, my priorities, my life?

What choices I must reverse and what new choices I must make to be happy?

Tell me.

preferences for social activities

I have just declined a social invitation from a nice couple that I happen to like. I have met with them last week for a dinner and I will be meeting with one of them for a breakfast this Wednesday. The social that I refused to take part was scheduled for the next weekend.

This is the second time that I said no to these lovely people. Seeing  them rather frequently is the first reason for my refusal and the restaurant choice is the second. The place they have chosen is an expensive diner with food that does not appeal to me. Honestly I have no reason to spend 90 bucks on something that does not even excite me.

But the first reason re; seeing them lately too frequently is something that I always knew but never voiced before. Well…. It is true. I live alone and am perfectly happy with it 99.9% of the time. When I see people rather frequently I develop negative reactions. I cannot help it.

At least I have been true to them and to myself.  I really like these people. Hopefully next time we will eat at my place.

These friends of mine seem to get me and do not push it, which is awesome. I had friends in Toronto who would get quite upset if I had declined their invitations. It was so weird, so ridiculous that eventually our friendship has ended. I have not talked to them for quite a long time. Honestly I could not care less. You cannot force people to socialize with you whenever you want it. See, I am still angry with those people.

Anyways; I am thankful that I continue to be assertive and say “No” as necessary and I have great friends who totally get it and still be cool with me.

I feel good about myself and lucky 🙂

in awe and in love

You know what I love most about falling in love, or seeing a historic monument/art piece most?

The feeling of being awed.

The admiration  I feel.

The feeling of being how lucky to have this experience.

Getting all the cells in my body energized.

The mesmerisation, excitement, silly smiles I get. 

Forgetting everything and focusing on a great thing, a great person.

With increasing age I found that these feelings are showing up less and less.

One may not be able to fall in love with planning, but one sure can plan a trip to see what they want to do, what they want to see. I hope all of you guys have some plans for the summer.

what future is like

I have been working in my field in a very dedicated and intense manner in the last 23 years or so. I worked in 4 different countries, did really well considering that I am a female and have been a “foreigner” in three of these countries (ah, yes I have been insulted, discriminated, and stereotyped many times), and have a great job that I think I deserve and is good for me. Except the stress levels and negative criticism that are inherently high in this line of work and the recent very annoying uncertainty about our future economy, salaries, and retirement benefits.

At one point in my life, maybe 10 years or so, I was again strained like this re; work opportunities and future stability, was having a personally bad time, and questioned how well this line of work was working for me, the efforts I put into it, its negative consequences to my mental and physical health, and what I was feeling like doing (sadly, I had lost my interest, enthusiasm, and dedication to my career and was desperately looking for an exit for a new, better, energizing, and positive life and work experience..).

It took me around 2-3 years to turn things around, by luck I would say (so grateful), but I was so lost (it is hard to figure out everything alone) and so depressed that it really hurt. Eventually, I never re-gained my naturally “extremely intense” enthusiasm towards my career. When such a strong bond, love if you will, is hurt, it is hurt for ever. My sincere verdict.

However, when I got my current job, I was filled with motivation and was still interested in, competitive and hard-working, even though that something was missing. I did really well, accomplished the majority of the things I put into my mind as much as the conditions permitted. Of course, I could do better. I always wanted to do better. And I could not at some points, because of some reasons. Whether they originated from me or from external resources does not matter. What matters is that I have changed, I have got tired of certain things, and now I want nothing but to change many things, including the topic of my work. I am hoping this will energize me and give me yet another push.

At my position, we are free to work on any topic we like (is that not fantastic?) as long as it is a productive and relevant topic. I think as the first step, that is what I will do; try to change the topic. That requires some thinking with a neutral state of mind, so hopefully I will have some time off to just focus on this. A new topic means a new excitement, another shot at an intellectual challenge 🙂 Always exciting 🙂 Problem is I have been meaning to do this for 3 years now; what are the chances of this happening anytime soon? We shall see….

Yet, not even this erases the scary fact that slowly, one thing at a time, my overall interest and dedication to this job, especially with the negative economic climate, are decreasing. 

Previously, I considered resignation from my current position many times because of the fact that it took me quite a while (many years) to adjust to the city and the work place culture, the stress levels it creates, lack of opportunities and support needed for a more successful career, and overall boredom that comes from many little things of life. Just this year I started not reacting badly to being here. But then started the provincial economic problems and the firings…. Talking about low work-place morale… This has had profound effect on me. I really want to get out of this situation and find a better, more secure job. I know the chances to do so is low, but I keep wanting this. It is only normal to want so. It is the human nature.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking; I probably have another 20 years to work before retirement (let’s cross the fingers… hope I will be able to work till then and hope there will be retirement possible at the future economic climate).

Twenty-years…..

Twenty more years I will struggle with the high level stress, criticism, reduced levels of enthusiasm towards my work… If I am lucky enough to keep my job, of course. Constantly I will find myself in the same situation with the need to handle stress, the need to change and improve the things, longing for somewhere new, some organization better.

The idea of constantly trying these has made me feel tired already.

Perhaps it is the best time that I quit this work and start another one/another career, maybe somewhere else with hopefully less stress levels. Will that ever be possible for me? Will I be able to work out and handle the stress better one day? I doubt it, but there is always hope. Will it be a better job? More secure? In a better city?

The more I think, the less it seems possible – status quo may be better than another position somewhere else.

So, what is it that I should be thinking about my future?

Well, unless I am fired from my job, I will keep going and doing my best. I know I can do this. I will focus on having a good life and putting in a positive attitude in my position. I will keep making financial plans and saving as much as possible to somehow help secure my future. I will take it as an opportunity, should they fire me, to listen to inner myself and find out what it is that I want in life and what my next chapter in life is like.

In the mean time, I sure can look for jobs, nothing serious but like a past-time activity, and who knows maybe I will come across one that will be a good opportunity for me. Where I will feel appreciated, valuable, and respected and where my efforts will make a significant and positive impact.

Until then, I am likely to come to this point again and again.

To make this easy, I think I must trust life. As a recent comment on one of my posts said (re-phrasing) “life does not work out the way we predict it to be, sometimes it is hard to understand the turn of events until we realize that whatever happened was only the start of a better life, better experience, better opportunity.”

when death baffles, again and again

I just learnt today that someone I know only through blogging has died of cancer this weekend. She was young (around early 30s), with a husband and a little son. May she rest in peace.

She was always open about the encounters with life about first survivorship and then being a terminal patient. My understanding was that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, treated and was on remission, only tho find out later that she now had multiple metastases in her body. It was frightening to hear the news for me. I had met her when she was on remission and I never thought that she would become terminal. But she did.

Still in that situation, she kept her chin up and her ordeal open for everyone to learn from. She was so positive and upbeat that it was again hard for me to realize that she was terminal. In one posts, she said “make no mistake, I am dying“. That broke my heart and I guess I started to take it a little bit more serious then. Communicating with someone whose days on this life is limited is a strange feeling…. Thinking that next day, next week, next year, this person will not be here…. How fragile and strange life can be, right?

Right.

Another thing that broke my heart was when she said that her doctor would be removing/or not removing (cannot remember which one and it does not matter really) her breast fillers (which she always hoped that one day would help with reconstructing her breasts). I thought she must have been heart-broken…. How did she stand so tall in the middle of all of these frustration and disappointment? She was a strong girl, but goodness knows, this could not be easy.

And a couple of weeks back, just like that, out of blue, we learnt that she was hospitalized, in pain, in hospice care, and having trouble with eating/feeding tube. And today we learnt that she had passed out last weekend.

I do not know what to think, what to feel for. I am certainly sorry for the family and friends. But I am feeling very weird, very weird.

She was here and now she is gone. She knew she was gonna die, but I never thought that would happen (duh me). What did she feel or think prior to her death in the hospital, the hospice care, right before her death? How did she face (I am sure she was courageous) death? The prospect of death?

Thinking about these nauseates me. 

She is not the first one that I knew and lost to cancer. On facebook I am still friends with a friend of mine who died of melanoma at the age of 40. I now follow blogs of not one but two deceased cancer patients. These numbers, you know are, likely to increase.

 I dislike cancer and what it does to us, directly or indirectly. I hope one day we will really be able to control this diseases.

Until then, all I can say is; please be aware of the risk factors of cancer, limit them as much as you can, see your doctor when you suspect something wrong is going on, take advantage of the screening programs (like colonoscopy, mammography and others), and be active in your own health care.

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saying “no” is a right

I have been practicing being more assertive and true to my own needs (one other example here). I think it could also be described as advocating for myself, if you will.

And that feels good, my friends.

A colleague of mine, who became quite dependent on me and is neither fully kind nor fun to be with called me at home yesterday evening and again today in the office. I do not mind calls at the office but I hate it when people think that they can reach me whenever they want and call me at home. This was not the first time she called me at home, but this time I had finally had it and I reacted; I saw and recognized the number, and did not answer it.

The same thing today when she called my office. I was out for a second when she called (luckily), saw her number upon my return, and decided to forget about it. The funny thing is that if that was important or an emergency, I am sure she would email me. Anyways; I called a couple of hours later when I have had time. It turned out that she called me for a small thing that she could easily handle. But no, she has to bother me, and instead of figuring things out herself, the solutions should always come from me!!! Because I do not have any work to do myself!!!!

I am angry at the situation as you can see.

We should limit our interactions with such people, especially if they are not even kind towards us, not crediting us for the work and help we do for them and pretending like they have figured and done every thing themselves, and are draining us with their constant neediness, negativity, and opportunistic characteristics.

I have taken my first steps yesterday and today. I am determined to distant myself from this person and stop doing their itsy bitsy work for them. She not only took my time, but also fried my nerves.

If you have someone like this in your life, I hope soon you will prioritize yourself over them.

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impulses, mistakes, choices, and life as it is

Like many of us, I made mistakes that shaped the rest of my life for the worse (that is how I interpret them anyhow) upon wishes and desires of my heart, but not of my mind.

I had felt I was suffering anyhow, so the alternative (a.k.a. the mistake) would be equally hurting. So, what the heck? At least I would feel alive; pulsing with life, hope, excitement, and happiness.

And I had 🙂

Yet, I was not the same after a while, somethings were inherently gone, and I missed them. So, that is why I interpreted them as “mistakes”, as there was no opportunity to go back in time and get again what I had had.

I then decided that mindful choices were better than the desires of my heart, safety more than excitement and impulses. Love was out of question, so was taking risks. I become conservative in my look to life and I would rather have a structured/safe life where I would have peace of mind. I also went through financial hardship – being fired twice in a year (even though I found jobs right away and did not even have one day out of pay check) and knowing how valuable a dollar can be (could buy 1.5 cans of beans for a buck those days), I also prioritized financial security as a result..

Now, I have got all of these; a great job with a great salary and benefits in a safe city. Arse boring life, but safe, well structured, and financially secure. 

Do I feel accomplished?

————–

How do I feel really?

————–

I feel like I want to quit this job and find the true desire of my heart again.

Take risks, move somewhere, meet with new people, and have spontaneity and curiosity about life.

Be open to excitement in seeing new faces, new cities, new cultures, and new experiences.

I want to rediscover myself and the course of my evolution…..

But, I will not take an active step and write that resignation letter.

Not yet.

I will know when it is the time to get out of this, and explore and bloom with excitement.

I will know……

I gotta trust that.

Freedom at last.

One day.

I will be waiting.

One day.

 

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it is not that bad

While I have bragged about how boring my life is, this morning I came to the realization that in the last one years or so, I have changed my life in a much better way.

First of; I started baking my own bread – they may not be the best, but they are getting better each time. More importantly, baking gives excitement to my daily life. Every Sunday I am eager to see how my dough and the loaf will turn out like! It is also healthy (I believe – it must be way better than the store-made bread). What a wonderful, healthy, and easy way to have a recurrent type of excitement 🙂

Second of; I eat better – that is for sure. I eat more raw veggies, which agree with my body. I have also lost some weight (even though I gained some of it back lately I am positive that I can do it again).

Third of; I walk more. I walked in the morning not only during summer, but also in winter (for the first time this winter) from home to office! For someone like me who was chronically tired, stressed, and impatient, this is quite an achievement.

Fourth; I have more energy – thanks to my iron and vitamin D supplements. This makes me feel better about myself and it is incredibly satisfying.

Fifth of; I am saving more than the last few years, so I am in much better shape financially.

Funny thing is that I have come up with these out of blue while walking  this morning 🙂

———-

These being said, it is only normal to fix some issues and then move on with identifying and aiming to fix new issues. In this logic, it is almost impossible to be without any issue.

Fine.

So I must be okay with having  a number of things that bother me now; 

I need a more social life; I do not know what that is gonna be but whether I join a hobby class or start hosting more frequently at home, I have got to come up with something.

I need variety – doing the same things and seeing the same faces/places are dead boring. I have every single right to be bored, considering the circumstances. I believe a new social hobby would enrich my daily life a little bit. Also, traveling is an opportunity to break it, but how frequently one can go away?

I need to stop believing that I am old. I am not old – older, yes, but not old. I still have a life!

🙂

boredom

I realized that the majority of the things that excited me in the past (hanging out with fiends, new challenges and hurdles to overcome, seeing new places, being spontaneous, living in big cities that have a lot to offer, falling in love, picking those lovely black shirts at stores etc.) are no longer in my life.

Did I get old?

What happened?

Why do I not have excitement in my life?

How did I end up in where I am and with what I do and live with?!!!

—————-

I have no one but myself who is responsible for this. I should have never moved in where I am. I knew I was not a small city person – walk to the same places, shop at the same malls, visit the same stores, see the same faces, eat at the same diners…. yet, I moved here because I have got an exciting work. Thanks! Argh!

—————-

I must start a social activity; maybe a cooking or sewing class. I am even in favour of attending a bingo night. Goodness, I must do something different than what I am doing – this is such a boring life!

Come on me, come on…

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A day

I keep getting up early.

I was up at around 8 am this morning. When I wake up that early, the day is so long that I can do everything in it. Like today; I got breakfast, cleaned my home, did laundry, talked to my family, walked to my office, worked like 4 hours, walked back home, cooked meal, and prepared my sourdough for tomorrow. Now, I am chilling.

Wohoo! 🙂  This is a lot of things to do in a day without getting bored or stressed. Yep – I did it. I did all of these without getting bored or without getting stressed 🙂 What a blessing.

Everything was nice and easy today. Cleaning was easy. There was only two loads of laundry. It was too much windy but I walked 30 min to office and then back to home and enjoyed every minute of it anyhow; the work I have done at the office was great – I did not stress myself at all. I just worked without any pressure and I did really good. 

Overall, I could not be happier and excited about getting up early, finding a long day ahead of me, and being stress-free! 🙂

Hey, maybe I will do that again tomorrow 🙂

Tomorrow is my bread baking day. Every loaf is an excitement – after all, there can not be another copy of a loaf. Each one is individual. They cannot be replicated 100% – no matter how hard we try. That is why each Sunday I have excitement guaranteed – “how will this loaf turn out?” What an exciting question! How nice to have this excitement every week.

I am so lucky.

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random thougths

It is Friday 🙂

This week has passed pretty fast and I did not get tired. That means I am planning to go back to the office, hopefully tomorrow and take care of some stuff. That does not happen to me frequently, but when I feel like working at the office at a weekend, it usually indicates my eagerness to finish something without getting stressed. So it is a good thing 🙂

Tonite I am listening to Amy Winehouse – Back to Black.

It somehow saddens me to see her singing in this video, knowing that she has passed away. What a strong voice, what a vulnerable person. The video clip is so openly about death that it heightens my sadness somehow – did she ever think about her death while shooting this video, while singing this song? Does anything that mattered to her when she was alive matter right now?

The answer is a clear no.

So, why do I keep get upset about the tinniest s.it? I am particularly agitable about someone at work the last few weeks. I want to get rid of this annoyance, these silly thoughts. I want to enjoy my moment and cherish everything I am grateful for. Yet, when was the last time I wrote my joy journal?  I increasingly believe that it is only the human nature to be engulfed in the little issues in the absence of apparently bigger issues.. Maybe I should be grateful that I have such small issues at the centre of my life right now.

……

The last two months have passed very fast…. I cannot put my finger on why. It is not like I was amazingly busy at work or out of work. It is strange. I wanted to live and be mindful of each day. Yet here I am at the beginning of March looking back two months and I cannot identify anything notable that happened in the last 60 something day… Strange.. Weird..

Something needs to change, I guess. First thing first is to find new projects at work and at personal life. It is boring to keep thinking and doing the same thing, going to the same places/stores, and buying the same types of food.

Where is my adventurous spirit?

Where is the curiosity? Once it was continuous. Now it is hard to find fast….

Please do not tell me that I just got old.

what do I think about commercial blogs on financial freedom?

Sometimes when I read the stories of “highly successful savers”, which are full of glory and high savings rates (like >50%), I get jealous or frustrated or something…

It is because with my best intentions I can only save around 35% of my income and not one (per)cent more (and that is so if I do not get an extra expense related to a serious repair or house maintenance issue). Why? I do not know but I cannot significantly reduce my expenses more than what I already have without seriously hurting the quality of my life, getting really cheap, or foregoing activities, such as visiting my family, that are highly important for me.

When I examine my feelings a little bit deeper, I see that when I read those stories I actually lose my hope to save a lot of money. This is simply because I realize that while I make a great effort to save (saving 35% of my income is not bad at all), since my expense-to-income ratio cannot be reduced more, I become aware that what I can save is considerably less than what I should be saving….. Long story short, those success stories/blogs make me feel like a failure.

Go figure..

Strange, is it not?

When I come to my senses and start thinking objectively, things start to look a little bit better. I think that some of these blogs are not giving us the full picture and they function to inspire the readers (which is awesome), yet one also wonders how much their interest in making money out of their blogs affects the stories they write. 

Since last year I ceased reading such “commercial” blogs, some of which are quite famous in the financial freedom-world by the way. I decided their story was not beneficial for me and I wanted to choose to surround myself with positive – not negative- feelings and confidence during my frugal journey.

Additionally, I must note that: there is quite a difference between those commercial blogs and the blogs I follow here, who are genuine and open about their struggles; their accounts are sincere and naturally full of both failures and successes. These are real people and real stories, just like mine and I am very happy to follow them. I would recommend them to everyone who is interested in inspiration, saving, and making better choices related to their finances.

 

 

verdict on quinoa as salad filler/base

img_0561

Quinoa is something that I wanted to try for some time – many people talk very positively about this staple. As someone who likes legumes/beans/dry food as salad material I thought it was time that I bought a pound or two and give it a try. Luckily, it did happen this weekend when at a bulk produce store I managed to find organic quinoa (not that I am particularly interested in organic food – it just happened to be so. Anyways..). 

Recipe: 

boil and bake 1.5 cups of quinoa in 3 cups of water for around 20 min (stir frequently), add 2 tbs of chili sauce, a pinch of salt and chili pepper, juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 small radish, 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce, 3 stalks of celery, 1 bunch of fresh coriander, 1.5 small onion, and liberal amount of olive oil.

Verdict:

Quinoa does not have a strong taste, smell, or aroma. So it serves very well as a base/filler for salad. However, it did not appeal me and I could certainly live without it. (These being said, I think considering its protein content, I would give it a try every once a while.)

Also, I think fine bulghur (cracked wheat) makes a better base for this kind of salad (simply boil water, pour it over bulghur, cover the lid, wait for 10 min, and mix with a fork/spoon, and then add the other salad items).  C’est Simple! 🙂

Plus, I wonder whether the price would worth it (i bought around 500grs of organic quinoa for 4.5 bucks). I am pretty sure that its being organic inflated the price this time, but I am certain that I could get bulghur much cheaper.

If you like it, I hope you will continue to enjoy it for many years to come. Me, on the other hand, will stick with bulghur 🙂

 

a year without dad

Today is the first anniversary of the death of my dad – May he rest in peace…

I have been dreading this day knowing that it would make me deeply remember my dad (for which I am grateful), my regrets of what I should have done or what I should not have done when he was alive (for which I came to realization that there is nothing to be done), and the sadness I experience  over his death (which is so vivid and continuous)…

I am very sorry that my dad and I did not spend more quality time together. That I could not be a good daughter for him. That I was not with him when he died.

Despite these, I also know that he loved me and looked after me all the time. He forgave me too, for things I should not have said or done. My father was a father alright.

Among all these turbulent emotions, I am glad for a couple of things, too. When my father died, one of the fears I had developed was to forget my dad. I am glad that this has not turned into reality. And lately I thought that when I died, he would guide me and welcome me to death. I know this is ridiculous but it so soothes me and makes me unafraid of death. I am still not interested in dying (when he died I developed fear of my own mortality), but when the time comes I hope I will remember this.

Rest in peace dad. I am sorry for a lot of things. You knew these and you still loved me. For that I am ashamed, awed, and grateful. You know I would not choose another dad, but you. I love you.

Till next time. 

 

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weekly budget check

Is Sears closing?

I am asking because there were excellent deals this past weekend and I could not help but shopped there.

I am not sorry 🙂

Seriously not, because what I bought are incredible and the money I paid for them are possibly 1/4th of the actual cost. So, i would like to think that I am in a good shape….

Ok; back to weekly expenses and other financial events: 

——————————-

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $67

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $67 = $53

Fun funds expenses: $0

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $517.5! (please, let me have a moment of happiness here 🙂 )

Other expenses: $144 (new clothes; see above)

Savings from would-be-expenses: $236.75 (these are the expenses I would normally make, but decided not to (such as walking rather than taking the bus, having a breakfast at home rather than outside, etc) as well as savings/extra money made just by chance (like the rebate we all have got lately at work 🙂 )

As it is becoming a lovely habit now, I will be using these savings to make mortgage pre-payment in the coming weeks 🙂 

Mortgage pre-payment made today: $228.5 (from my savings as of last week :))

Friends – this feels so awesome, so awesome! Seeing it getting less and less….Seeing myself making the effort to make my mortgage less and less. And feeling the excitement and happiness coming out if this 🙂

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed:  minced beef and frozen zucchini from the freezer 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

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Death baffles me each time..

I just learnt that someone I know, a most gentle and kindest soul I have ever known, has died yesterday because of complications from pneumonia.

We were not close, but I had respect for him (he was my senior). He was a legend in so many different ways back in the day. When I met him, he was afflicted with diabetes and was over-weight. One common friends of mine was complaining, saying things like “I told him to quit drinking juice so many different times…”  As if the other person would not do that himself if he could. People can be so silly sometime.

Anyways… We used to chat time to time on social media, the latest one being on Nov 25th last year…. The last things we talked about was he asking me going to his city to see him and other friends of ours and me responding to that by saying ” hopefully :)”…

I could not see him or talk to him after that, but I am glad we were nice and kind to each other and I am glad we have had good wishes for each other. I just am shocked that this person now is dead. His body is cold. He will never chat with me or anyone else again.

This is so surreal…

I have a problem with death. However natural it can be, I do not care – I have a problem with it.

Eddie – rest in peace my friend. You are free now. You can be everything and anything you want to be. Wherever you are, I can see you smiling even though it hurts to think that you are gone at such a young age. Rest in peace my friend. Rest in peace.

 

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And here is something as part of celebration of your life – something that you liked so much and were so good at: 

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gifs by:http://giphy.com/gifs/rest-in-peace-qaiMIXADRyo36 andhttp://giphy.com/gifs/gym-lifting-weightlifting-3o6ZsYzuLyRfSGX4f6

random thoughts

I cannot believe we have reached to the end of February!

This year has been passing quite fast. It is hard for me to believe that it has been two months since the holidays when I had 2 weeks off.. Wow! Two months…. It feels like yesterday!

The nice thing is that the three months of our winter has passed. The Spring will be here in May – that feels good 🙂

We will also have the daylight saving times reversed sometime in March – that means we are looking for lighter and brighter days ahead. That also feels good 🙂

This winter has been harsh here in Canada, my friends. We have had a lot of snow days 🙂 It has also been interesting: for the first time in my life here (around 8-9 years), I have walked in the morning to the office from home in winter. I think I have done that in January first and, now, whenever I can, I am aiming to do so (like today)…

What a sense of freedom it gives me and what a great way to relax my mind and work my body. I am awed that I am not afraid of ice or falling this winter (which was the reason that stopped me from walking in winter at the first place).. Change is always possible I guess….

That experience also tells me to question our assumptions and decisions, even though they are comfortable. Perhaps they can be re-assessed and reversed, and the new normal would turn out to be exciting as my winter walking adventure 🙂

Nowadays I particularly feel like walking. I blame partly boredom and partly the fact that I get up early, and as such, end up with having lots of time at my hand 🙂 I walked last Saturday and Sunday around 2 hours each day. And I am planning to walk similarly this weekend. I hope I can make this. My plan is to walk to the shopping mall on Saturday, just to grab a couple of tubes of yogurt 🙂 Let’s see whether the weather will be permissive (if it is raining or heavily snowing, I will not certainly do this 🙂 ) 

Since I walked this morning and did not take the bus, today was also a day that I spent nothing! 🙂

Is that not awesome 🙂

I never thought that that would be possible, but now I can see that I was not thinking careful enough – it certainly is possible. Anyone can do this “no spending days”. Give it a try, my friends, and let us know how you feel. It certainly feels weird and sweet at the same time 🙂 🙂 

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do not listen to the negative projections about the future finances

This is one advice I am trying hard to give myself…

As if it was not enough that our organization was talking about lay offs, now it also talks about a pension reform that will increase our contributions and remove the inflation index.

We are screwed..

As if that was not enough I found a pension estimator tool from our HR’s website and guess what? Even before the pension reform, If I retire at 55 (which I would love to), I get something that would not even be enough for my essential expenses (and also consider that it will not be indexed to inflation), and at age 60 and 65 it would increase a little bit but nevertheless would not make me a comfortable retiree.

So, if I may ask, what the hey are we supposed to do??? Work till the end? Throw ourselves out of somewhere out of misery? Stop eating? Stop getting medical care? What exactly are we supposed to do with this economic problem, uncertainty, and hopelessness? 

I just can keep saving, investing, and keeping my job, I say to myself….. If you have any other good idea, please shoot in the comments area. Otherwise, I am off to finding out how to better penny pitch…

the 2nd snow day in a row

Wow! We have had today as the snow day as well!

This is the first time I have seen two snow days back to back.

Man, the old man winter this year is sure quite energetic. Or furious.

If I were a student, I for sure would be happy and excited about these snow days. Yet, I was rather bored being at home yesterday and today. I am sure I am not the only one who felt that way – I know because I have seen a couple of people on social media expressing similar feelings.

One can ask why we cannot even enjoy two extra days as paid holidays

Sadly, I have no answer to that…..

———————–

Now back to my lovely hibiscus – rose hip tea with lemon juice and honey. Keep warm and enjoy your evening everyone! 🙂

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another snow day

The snow day! 

Had we not have another one just last week??

We had….

This winter has been kind of strange – the one with the most snow days and the earliest (we have had one or two snow days in December). While my street is not in bad condition yet (total snow around 30 cm), we expect this to continue till tomorrow morning, so who knows how many times I will get out and shovel to keep my tiny “tunnel” connecting my home to the street?

 

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my weekend breakfast is back! :)

I have got my bagel and coffee at a nearby cafe this morning 🙂

Like I used to have over years/decades every Saturday and Sunday morning 🙂

Toasted bagel and coffee are my favorite breakfast. I have had temporarily stopped having them in late fall to cover a portion of the money I used to purchase my sewing machine. I think I have done my best and I have done it for long; according to my calculations, 3 months of breakfast-fasting made me save around $100. It is not a huge amount but I know every penny counts and it was valuable when I saved. Now, however, I am claiming my breakfast back so that I  can enjoy my life and my weekends a little bit more:)

Since ending #TheleanSpendingMonth challenge yesterday, I have been feeling good about money not being my primary focus in life. I can choose to do that again in the future, temporarily save money, but right now, I gotta be true to myself and my needs.

Whatever you do, make sure your money works for you, not against you.

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7th and 8th Day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth

Today I realized I needed to be kind and nourishing toward myself.

Not that #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan is hurting me; no. I enjoy challenging myself, finding new ways to save, getting excited about the things I can do; and overall I seem like saving a dime or two along the process (though it is not too much – I will write about this later).

But I, like anyone else, wake up with issues and negative feelings on my mind, go thru life as it is, work hard, and get annoyed by people or events. So, there are times that we just need to support ourselves a little bit better. Whether that would mean to care less about money and eat something unhealthy or luxurious, or do something that requires a little bit more money.

Today has been such a day; I decided I did not want to eat the same things as I have in the last few weeks. So even though it know well that it is unhealthy, I bought hot dogs and ate them with a large salad.

I ate the entire package (around 12 of them) without cooking… I know it is gross…. But, I wanted to do that – it is a manifestation of how much I do not care. And I can say now that I am not eating hot dogs again (at least for some time)…..

So I spent $4.5 for bus fare (yesterday and today) and $8 for food this afternoon. I am still doing strong and frugal.

And now I am craving for sweets… go figure….

 

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DAY 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is February 6th, the 6th day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth.

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

But it is also concerning that one day whatever I have at home will be consumed and I will have to purchase them. So there will be purchases coming.

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 3

——————-

Gratefully acknowledging my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff, who is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

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when a boss mentions firing people

Two days ago our boss mentioned in a our departmental meeting that the budgetary situation necessitates some sacrifices, including firing people.

We all were stunned for a second and then some of us, including myself, fired back. 

When you threaten people with loss of work, when you think that you can threaten people with the loss of work, you are done; no respect, no loyalty no nothing is left for you. From that point on it is the boss versus workers. This division pretty much is the start of a crumbling organization.

Fear is a bad feeling. If there is any boss out there who is thinking that by making people scared s/he can get something done better, faster, or cheaper,  s/he should forget it.

Thank goodness I am unionized and what my boss suggested at that time is completely at odds with our union – work place agreements. I for the first time understand what a union is, why it is needed, and why I should be grateful for.

Good bye to respect for my boss and hello to my union and unionized life!

DAY 2 & 3 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

The total expenses in the DAY 2 and DAY 3 of the #TheLeanSpendingMonth is

grocery: $55

bus fare: $2.25

 

It is going well and I sure could save more but this is possibly the minimum spending I can make without feeling deprived and I am okay with that 🙂

——————-

Number of no-spending days so far: 2

magic time

Have that ever happened to you?

That you have worked very hard and for very long to remove something from your life that has been bothering you like a bad habit or a very hard/challenging work project, finally it is done, and all of a sudden you feel like you are floating, lifted up, and you need sometime to just savor the time, stay put, cherish the accomplishment, and perhaps start welcoming the wishes and plans for the future?

That is what is happening to me today. 

I realize that I am at an excellent time of my life and career. 

I realize that I now am free of hurdles and things that have been dragging me down, and naturally I am lifted up. That I lifted myself up.

I realize that I am free to go even higher and accomplish way harder, more challenging aims, make my life and career much better.

I realize that I am free, accomplished, and I am confident that I will do better and much better, both on my life and at my work 🙂

………………..

It is strange how strongly accomplishing a long-term aim affects and changes you….

I have been looking at my life and I have seen what a nice, efficient, abundant, comfortably frugal and waste-free, and simple life I have built for myself over the last few years. I should be proud of myself – quite an accomplishment.

I have been looking at my life-style and I see how healthy my life is when compared to 2 years ago: I walk more, exercise sometime, and eat much better. I am also quite energetic – thanks to my vitamin D supplement 🙂

I am middle aged but free of chronic conditions (thank goodness), able, independent, and working. I love my job the majority of the time. I have lost a part of my interest I have had in the past, but I still am doing quite good and I am productive. 

I m ready to do better, though.

Now is a good time; I want new and energizing things integrated in my life and my work.

I have little idea what these would be: personally that would mean maybe developing a new interest, or risking for something quite big (like developing a company or an organization – wohoooo 🙂 )  Professionally, that would mean developing new areas to work on, or new much bigger roles.

I do not know what it would be.

But I know that I will be ready when an opportunity appears in my life 🙂

it is so messed up, so sad

Disclaimer: This is one of my rare rants on political views/actions. As a person with no political or ideological fanaticism or favoritism, I stay away from political arguments. Yet, humanism, mercy, empathy, and universal human values are the things that I do care. This post is about them.

———————————

This entire executive order by President of the USA, the airlines that refused to carry people even though they admit that the order(!) was not clear, the world leaders(!) applauding or not condemning these actions (Theresa May – what is wrong with you??); and all others who are cheering up and thinking that this somehow benefits anyone;

I am speechless at your thoughts and actions.

Maybe it was the fear that grabbed you and made you want these bans. Or maybe somebody thought that scaring you would help with their power, irrespective of the harm done to others and to the country, either in the short term or the long term.

I am not an American, but I lived and worked there for a few years when I was young. It is  (was) a great country and I enjoyed working there where the system was great and errors and delays were minimal. It was a great place to work.

But make no mistake; discrimination has been a common theme there.

This time though, I am shocked that discrimination, generalization, stereotyping, racial profiling, etc, are BOTH politically and publicly backed up.

Openly.

With cheers even.

…….

That is so sad America.

That is so sad.

 

Thanks Friday

Thank goodness it is Friday!

It has been a while that I was so happy and relieved for it being Friday.

Boy – the last few weeks were somehow edgy at work. I have fixed a significant portion of the issues today. I am not done yet, but this is a progress that I want to celebrate! 🙂

I have three nights and two days to absolutely relax and enjoy till Monday morning. I will so enjoy this time and being away from work.

Have a great Friday and weekend everybody! 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Another great week of my super-duper lean spending month:)

I have had some extra expenses (a.k.a. non-essential) but I am okay with that as this is the best budget yet. I not only have stayed within my budget, but even managed to save from my weekly allowance:) While the super-duper lean spending month officially is February, you know I have started early and it feels alright. I will post about its details later.

 

Here is the account for this past week:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $74.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $74.5 = $45.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $367.5  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the second week -a true miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $22.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

————————————————-

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have done so well this week consuming quite a bit of the food that I have hoarded at the pantry and freezer! These included; pasta, canned bean x 2, and canned corn from pantry and two containers of soup, mixed veggies, and croutons from freezer. Not bad, is it not? 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

so it goes the song…

Been a busy day, the bus came 20 min late while I waited on the street in the morning, I looked tired and stressed the entire day due the last week’s hurdles, I thought I/my hair was looking really miserable and that was hurting my image more than I want to admit, but I cannot complain.

I cannot complain because none of these matter so much in my life or in somebody else’s life. Plus, I am listening to a beautiful song right now, which makes me fill with love:) 

Boy, 80’s/90’s were the best time of the Pop/Rock!

 

 

snow storm and neighbours

Snow storm has passed leaving around 2 meters of snow bank in front of my house and making me anxious about whether this snow bank would hurt my house, especially the window facing it…..

It is strange that my neighbors, even the ones across from my house, would shovel their snows towards my house. Where does this come from? Please keep it in your own area. I had to step out a number of times and kindly ask my neighbors to keep the snow on and around their sides… Sigh… One thing that really ticked me off today… Kind of inconsiderate…

I continue to feel agitated mostly because of work-related issues and the snow bank-neighbour issues. Yet, I am supposed to feel good about my life and myself. So how do I find this balance?

I guess it is time that I focus on the big picture, relax, and find the confidence in me that I can handle everything well 🙂

 

 

while waiting for the snow storm

We are waiting for a snow storm.

Well.. This is winter and snow storms happen all the time. So, I wonder whether you asked yourself what the big deal is and why I write a dramatically titled post about it? 🙂

I will tell you what the big deal is.

Everybody is shopping and there is nothing much left in major stores. It is as if we will never get food anymore.

I usually do my grocery shopping on Thursday. So yesterday I have been to my store. The store was filled with 3X more people than usual. And for the first time in my life I could not find milk.

Milk.

How can you not find milk in a store?

 

And how can this continue the next day; obviously some of my co-workers came in work late, stating that they were out shopping and their line was too long. I checked my store this evening to see whether I could get milk and it was the same (except that I found milk this time). The cashier and I were chatting. I told her what one of my co-workers had said this morning; people shop because for a couple of days the transportation (of food) is affected by the storm. So, it ensures that we will have food after the snow. Hmmmmm. The cashier said that this was not true (though I am not sure how independent her thoughts are)..

Anyways.

It is possible that there may be something really catastrophic  happening and we may not have access to external food and other basic needs for some time. But I am hoping the chances of having such a situation is quite slim. So, I am cool about the entire stuff and I am glad that I have food at my house, and I did not get crazy about the entire shopping thing.

 

weekly budget check

My new “lean” spending scheme is doing well 🙂

I have a tighter budget implemented in the last few weeks, not because I have to but because I was curious about how much more I could not spend.

I have been thinking for some time; how much more expenses, in reality, can be cut?

I am thinking; if it comes to it, I may cancel my internet and phone services, but I will not do that right now. I can cut out my hair or stop have it cut for sometime rather than going to a hair dresser, but I will not do that, either. I can focus more on growing my veggies at home during the winter and in my yard during the summer. I can forgo eating fresh produce and rather focus on whatever is cheap, but I will not do this. I can stop using electricity/power unless it is extremely required, but I will not do that, either.

You have got the idea.

It is usually possible to find areas to save more. I wanted to give this a try with a super-duper lean spending month, which I had originally scheduled for February. But I said to myself “what is the use of waiting”” and I started it a few days after the new year. It has been an interesting exercise so far. I basically only aim to make expenses which are necessary (such as bus fare and  food). But I also allow myself to have one item per week to pamper myself (like my peanut butter I enjoyed last week 🙂 ). And, my friends – it is working: I am spending much less than before. Not sure how long I can continue with such a tight budget, but knowing that I am capable of doing it is a great feeling 🙂

Here is the account for this past week under the duper lean spending month plan:

Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $58

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $58 = $62

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $322  (yay! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 (a miracle! 🙂 )

Savings from would-be-expenses: $44.5 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 )

*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: soup and bread

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

———————–

So; not bad my friends 🙂

And I am very excited to state this that I have made my first mortgage pre-payment today using my saved dollars; it may be a small amount but it was a great start!

happy savings 🙂

 

 

 

feeling agitated and believing in adventure

One of these times when things are all too much, some people are doing stuff that they are not supposed to, my nerves are cracking, and I feel low and agitated. But hey, it is all adventure 🙂

Why adventure? 

I do not know – I saw a post today by a fellow blogger I like to follow. The post somehow linked the “unexpected” with the “adventure” and here I am; inspired and doing the same thing; linking the agitation I feel nowadays with an unknown adventure 🙂

Naturally, I am trying to move on and feel good by finding the positive among all the muddy and spiky agitating experiences. I know my (agitating) feelings will subsidize eventually and I will feel okay again. So, it is only a matter of time before I leave these behind.

But not before I get what I am supposed to get out of these experiences.

That is the adventure 🙂

 

what important thing I was reminded today

One of those days that agitating stuff has happened.

BUT

I will not let these ruin my morale and spirit.

 

I have so much to worry about and so much to be grateful about. The choice is mine.

Worry is not going to solve any problem, at least in a healthy way.

More importantly, many of the stuff I deal with are nothing when compared to life and death.

In addition, calmer mind works stuff better.

 

So here I am; agitated one minute and providing self therapy the next…..

Nevertheless, I seem to be handling this much better than before….

So, I must wholeheartedly congratulate myself, but the credit is not mine. Carry on and read the rest of the post….

…………………………..

A lot of things in life seems to be relative; youth/age, wisdom/ignorance, experience, goodness/badness, kindness/meanness, especially the breadth and depth and importance of issues..

From one person to other, from one life stage to other, from one issue to other, this relativity can shift easily.

While I was having my silly mental judo this afternoon, I read a genuine and open post from a dear fellow blogger who is a young patient with a terminal disease…. She said “do not ever let anyone steal your joy.”

I was immediately ashamed for suffering and having depressive thoughts about my silly problems….

I am happy to honor her wish and I would like to thank her for this beautiful post and very meaningful, very powerful words.

 

hoarding food

I cannot believe how much frozen and dried/canned food I have….

I have decided lately that it has been time to start consuming the food I already have at home.

A quick inventory showed that I have frozen beef, bones (for stock), chicken, cooked meals, green beans, mixed veggies, bread, bread crumbs, zucchini, carrots, and celery sticks, and another set of green beans, in addition to phyllo dough in my freezer. If I was to consume them, I believe they would be enough for two months or longer…..

Another inventory, this time of the pantry showed that I have a lot of rice, bulghur (cracked wheat), dry beans, dry eggplant, dry peppers, dry okra, dehydrated soup, pasta, other soup materials, lentils, many cans of beans (which I love), canned soup, tomato paste and others (not counting around 20 kg of flour). Another month or two’s food…..

I am making an effort to consume these before they expire or go bad. I must do that to limit my food consumption. I have stopped buying frozen food, beef-chicken, and dried food for now. My plan is to not buy any of these items till I consume the half of the stock….

I must admit it is boring to think that I must eat what I have.

Why is that?

I have been trying analyze this and I realized that I like to buy and stock up food. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. I think I feel safer that way. I should also mention that I like the pleasure of choosing, buying, and storing them. Was I subjected to famine in the past life? (just joking – I do not believe in past lives 🙂 ).

But when they are not consumed and hoarded like this, the entire fun starts to diminish…

There are important lessons that I have learnt along this process.

Some of these food, like chicken, is not something I regularly consume. I will never stock chicken again – when I want them I can purchase fresh ones and cook whatever I want. But no more hoarding.

Freezing veggies (by blanching) is a great idea and I enjoyed doing this. But I must make mental notes to eat them after that. I started blanching and freezing veggies to limit my food waste. It is sad to see that unless they are eaten, they are still wasted….

The same goes with the frozen meal. I have 4 containers of chicken soup… What was I thinking? Since i do not enjoy eating the same food more than twice a week, that means, it will take me a month to fully get rid of them…..

I want to have a practice of cooking at least one meal using the pantry/freezer treasures (a.k.a. hoarded food) every week. i started this last week and it is going well.

Honestly, while it is valuable and gives me a sense of security, the food I have is too much this time. I really gotta find a balance of a healthy level of stocking  food up and consuming them 🙂

 

 

the sound of shovels

The weather is really acting; we have had snow, frozen rain, and the rain all within hours…

I shoveled the ice pellets from the front of the house and heavily salted it. Many of my neighbors are out and abound too. It is a normal part of our winter lives to hear the shovel hitting the road; one shovel at a time…Slowly without much of a rush…One of my neighbors had told me that his grand dad died suddenly while sitting on his chair after shoveling. “He had a good life and good death”, my neighbour said.

I had read somewhere recently that shoveling or physical activity in cold weather may tax the heart; cold through the open parts such as hands, feet, and face may slow down the blood circulation, which may lead the heart to work harder. It does make sense to me and I wonder whether that is one of the reasons that shoveling is usually done slowly. After reading this, I started to slow my shoveling too (I was usually like a machine focused on finishing the work at hand, a.k.a. shoveling – I consciously am slowing down now).

I hope all of you out there who are shoveling take it easy, and return safely back to home to a hot cup of tea or soup accompanied with fresh home-made biscuits, and your loved ones 🙂

 

 

 

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

I wonder whether the end of humanity is near….

There is so many violence, armed attacks, conflicst, wars, and problems in the world that I cannot help but think maybe we are getting close to a significant conflict that will involve too many people, too many countries, and to many blood….

I honestly hope that I am wrong, but, come on!; a day does not pass without bad news here and there that clips the hope I have for the future of the entire human population and all countries.

A classic example of “social depression”?

What is the cause of heightened level of this social depression? Are these events more frequent now? Occur in unusual ways? Are we hearing more of these events now? Are we more empathetic? Are the casualities closer to home?

Based on my limited knowledge on history, mostly based on some novels I have read and some movies I have watched, I thought overall in the past we have had more violence. I thought now overall we were more tolerant and reasonable in our actions and social structures. I think we are better overall and our lives are also better (on the average of course): we have more resources as food and shelter. It does not apply to everyone, every country – I am very aware of this. But I thought overall the humanity has been improving. Except that we also have many organized or sporadic violence and hurt induced by who knows what. Except that through internet and social media, it becomes almost impossible not to hear them.

I know I will go back to my hope in a couple of days should there be no other bad news. But the increasing frequency of these events are very alarming. I fear that it will become our normal and we will watch passively a shift in our overall lives, or we will react and get polarized deeper and deeper. Just when we need unity most.

I hope I am wrong that there is a widespread social depression. I hope that things will be straightened out without further conflicts, pain, loss, and injustice in a very short time.

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

I love assigning financial challenges to me and then seeing how I am doing 🙂

In the recent years, my first such joyful challenge was shopping freeze – I first applied it to books and then to shoes/clothes. I still did purchase a few of these items during the year, but hey, I had assigned these freezes for only a short time and they were needed when I purchased them. It is interesting that these freezes become habits quite soon after I first started them. Human attitude is quite plastic – it does change easier than we would like to think.

Anyways; the two things that I would like to try this year are the followings:

1. super-duper lean spending month. A fellow blogger suggested a no spend month, who I unfortunately cannot remember (raise your hand if you read this! 🙂 ).

Honestly I have no idea what no spend month means. I only think that the grocery, medication, transportation, and other essentials are excluded from this challenge.

Knowing my budget and daily life and requirements, I am pretty sure I cannot keep up with this – there will be at least work-place or socialization-related expenses; somebody will require some sort of gifts/donations, or I will find myself needing something all of a sudden. So, I do not have an interest in no spend month challenge.

So, why the hey am I talking about it here?

I want to give it a try and see whether I can rather aim for a “super-duper lean spending month“. That would mean finding alternative ways to contribute/donate/gift people; refuse or deflect social encounters (this is a challenge, but doable); and think really, really hard before I open my purse for anything other than essential grocery, cleaning and personal care products, transportation, medication and so on.

Certainly doable! 🙂

I am thinking February is a great time to do this challenge. And, no, not because it has less days than a regular month 🙂 I chose it because right now I have a good momentum in terms of spending (i.e. I shopped and stocked up quite a bit in Nov-Dec; that means in January I project to spend quite low anyhow).

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

2. Pantry/freezer challenge: I have many food stored in my pantry and freezer. I have been meaning to consume them during the holidays, but time flied and things/socials happened. But I have not stopped thinking about it. My plan is to eat at least one meal per week prepared by the food already stocked up at my home. I also plan not to stock up any further until I consume half of the entire stock (then I can start stocking up them when they are on sale).

I kind of started it today when I baked a bean dish with the dry beans and frozen carrots 🙂

I know if I can put it in my to-do-list, I will make an effort to work on this challenge.  That is why I plan to record my pantry/freezer challenge activities within my weekly budget check posts.

If you have other challenges, please feel free to comment 🙂

 

The 14th and the last day of the staycation

I am spending the last day of my staycation for being grateful for this break and the experiences and lessons it brought to me.

For the last 14 days, my priority was not my work, but my home, sales/discounts/shopping, and my inner world. What a nice shift in mental focus...

The first week, if I remember correctly, was spent with cleaning my office and home. I had also planned to do decluttering – I have half-done this and donated a number of items, especially from my kitchen. I am glad they have found their new homes. I have not removed any of the old socks, shirts, or blouses yet, but I am sure I will handle it when their time comes. I also did not get into my storage area – it bothers me, but I know when the right time comes, I will handle that too. This one task is what is left from my to-do-list. And I am okay with that.

One of the lessons I have learnt during this staycation was it was not the end of the world if I had not done what I thought I must. I always have other choices. This is quite a change from my regular (and stiff) practice that if I have something in my mind, I should complete it right away. I learnt that I could be flexible and at the end, it does not feel horrible. So, I am good and slightly changed (which is interesting and quite welcome)….. 🙂

I also reinforced my opinion that I really crave for my own time; while I like being with others  and socializing if they are nice and kind people, I do not want it to be too frequent. I am okay as I am and I am okay being with myself. I knew that for a long time; there is no change in this. And that is okay. Of note; I went to two socials and hosted one during the last two weeks; more than enough for me 🙂

I shopped in four-five days of the staycation. The holiday sales are hard to miss and every year I take advantage of them. I had a list of items to purchase, the majority of which I have. The things I have not bothered buying this time were a tea pot, new socks to stock up, and new blouses/shirts. I know I can get these some other time, so there is no rush for buying them. I left them behind mostly because since November I shopped so many different times that even shopping has lost its attractiveness…. Anticipating to find them in the future is more exciting 🙂

The lesson reinforced is that even too much of an exciting activity can be boring after a while. Like shopping. Like staycation… 🙂 It is true that in the last few days I have been feeling bored at being home, or even away from the office. I am glad I have these feelings – now I will jump start my work at the office tomorrow. No resentment. No disappointment. It is a real balance indeed.

And the inner world; well, work is important, money/saving is important, rest is important, but nothing is as much important as family and people I love. Interacting with my family in a closer and natural way as in the past was the highlight of this staycation. I am grateful for every second I spend with them and I am grateful for their well-being, love, support, and time on this planet. May they all live a long, healthy, happy, and peaceful lives as their hearts wish to.

I hope you all have had a great time during the holidays/new year break and are ready to start a new work year with enthusiasm, determination, and energy 🙂