three weeks to holidays

Three weeks to holidays when we have 10 days off.

Every year I would be very excited about this. Except this year I have not come to that point yet.

See, I have been working non-stop since July and it kind of became a daily habit. Today I have submitted an important report, a third one in the last 6 months (which is very productive). I must be excited and relieved, but not yet, I see. I think it is because I have a short trip to make this week for business and I have some more deadlines/tasks to complete in the next few weeks. I should not be complaining that I am still on the “work” gear – it is very useful for me and my work. I just wished my mind was rather focused on the 10 days of off time, start making plans, and get excited about them 🙂

I kind of think that two weeks later I will start slowing down. This would mean wrapping the little works, making and documenting projects for the new year ahead, and finally cleaning the office for once and best. this would mean dusting it, putting aside all the paperwork, or better yet dumping all in the garbage. It is my favorite thing to do at the office! What a great closure to a year of hard-work 🙂

And as per the off time, my plans are more or less the usual; clean the every bit of the house, especially the floors; declutter nice and easy; donate the unwanted/unneeded items; shop and get stuff that I need, socialize with friends; read a book or two (have not done this for some time – it is the time that I get the pleasure of reading again); thrift; sew a piece or two; and reflect.

I have lots to reflect this year. As per work many things happened, first demoralizing/toxic organizational things and then the hard-work I have been doing since July. I have had three trips this fall (including the short trip I will make this week) and the one in Athens was particularly memorable. Also, I am getting used to my gray hair and do not even care about it anymore (what a strange thing that is….).

After celebrating and noting cherishable memories and experiences, it will come to this : “What do I want to change or improve then?”

We shall see 🙂

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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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on life and death; and then life again

A couple of days ago in a morning, I had woken up early in the morning and then tried to get back to sleep. This happens to me almost every morning. In those times my head fills with thoughts, which often times stress me. This time, one of the thoughts was that this would end one day and that I would die.

This was a very scary thought…This is not the first time that I faced the future event of my death. After my dad passed away last winter, it had occurred to me that one day I too would perish.

They say it is an instinct to survive. It probably is. We, as humans, have unfortunately consciousness as well and are maybe the only species on earth that is aware of their future death. Painful truth.

While I do get depressed time to time and there were moments in my life that I sincerely preferred to be dead than being alive (how silly I was…), since my dad’s death, I actively wish to be alive. I wish to be alive and enjoy/be okay with even its hurdles, the stress it gives me sometime, and the depressive mood or other problems.

While life is complicated and can get pretty seriously wrong (think about all the people in war-thorn countries, for example), it is also precious. After all, a life is better than no life….. Since it will end one day, what is all these fuss about the little issues in our lives, like missing the bus; an argument with a family member or friend; a lost item; a lost opportunity; or work-related issues?

I am middle aged now and can see that the majority of my life I spent with school/career and little family/financial problems. There are only a small portion of my life that I remember with joy and happiness. There are only a few people who are important for me; only a few hobbies/out of office activities that gave me joy and excitement; and only a handful of memories that I cherish. The rest is full of failure/struggle/arguments/lost hopes/identifiable or unidentifiable causes of unhappiness and anxiety.

I am guilty of dwelling into the little problems in life; particularly work-related ones, that makes me unhappy, depressed, stressed, or mad. Yet, at the end will they matter? Probably not.

Life is what we make out of it, they say. I cannot control the life as it develops fully, but I am more and more contemplating about finding a right mental state to explore and integrate new faces of life in my life. I may not know what they may be, but, hey I am at least more open to what is going on in life.

If you follow my blog, you know that I care about my profession and the work I do very much. I feel not truly successful and am constantly striving to do better. The atmosphere and the events occurring or not occurring in my work-place have the heaviest weight in my life and emotional world. I even contemplate about resigning time to time, even though I do not know how I would provide for myself or what I would do as work (again a very silly idea; what was I thinking?) only because either I feel inadequate or am fed up of the stress I create over work.

It is time that I either accept or deny fully that I am inadequate and remove this unnecessary stress from my life with a more relax and positive outlook. Whatever the pressure I may be imposed by my line of work or by my colleagues, I must keep going. I should also reduce the expectations from me; I can make mistakes (which I do), I can be late in completing tasks (so what? they eventually are done); I may not be the star-professional in my work-place (there will be always someone better than me anyhow); I may be classified as successful by somebody’s criteria, but do I not do high-quality and creative work, even with limited resources? I do. And eventually when I get old or sick, would that be what I will think about anyhow? Nope.

Hug a tree. Watch a movie. Host good friends. Start writing that book that I always wanted to. Visit more countries/cities. Laugh more. Pay more attention to family and friends. Forget work-related issues upon leaving the office. Find out more about life. Find about more about love, understanding, and forgiveness. Care less about money and care more about people. Create new memories that I will cherish.

Yes; let’s create new memories that I will cherish.

How will I do that?

I guess I will figure out one day.

tiring

poem

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no words were enough;

you were gone….

slipped off my bare hands

I could not hold

I could not reach

sleeping with the darkness

numbness first, then anger

yelled at the trees

punched the rainbows

I could not help but live

and what a life it was

sticky with reminders and memories

long and so disregarding the bleeds

tiring, yet not merciful enough to kill

my breath has exhausted itself

yet I can neither die nor run away from memories

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The life in the diary – XVII

Fiction

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May 11, 2013

It is one of those days that I feel cheerful for no reason.

I grabbed my jacket and left the house for a nice walk. The fresh air is so lovely; feeling it on my cheeks, on my skin. Time to time there is a little breeze that caresses me. The sky is open and blue and it is around 25 C. It is a perfect spring day 🙂

As usual, I walk with my hands in my pockets – for some reason, that makes me feel good. Very good. It automatically puts a smile on my face and lift my upper back up. No more sluggish walking. Confidently and cheerfully I start to walk.

The street is wide and long; I can see the road ahead crossing it and the shops at the far end. They have bright colors, these shops do. I know they are doing this on purpose to appeal clients. Well, they are doing a good job by getting my attention as well as by making me feel grateful for what I see. Not surprisingly, I am a good customer of one of these stores.

I enter the store. I love this store as there are so many items that I regularly love to check. I for sure forget everything by just focusing on their items. And their prices and variety options. I have got my most cherished CD in this store years ago. I loved it so much that I had also bought a copy for a cousin of mine. The personal grooming and cleaning products are my favorites; I love the lip-stick that I keep buying from this store, for example. It is a glossy cherry-brown; neither too red nor too brown. It lifts my spirit up while also preventing them from drying. I love my lip-stick…

I do not buy anything this time, knowing that I am rather on my way to a long and relaxing walk. I leave the store, turn right, and start to walk down the street towards downtown. My home is located right at the perimeter of downtown, so it is 10 minutes walk to it. I feel excited about this. I always loved being around people, around movement. There is some kind of energy that transfers right into me. Maybe I am an energy-Dracula (this idea makes me chuckle 🙂 )

I do not have a definite plan as to where to go. I am free to go wherever my feet carry me, free to stop wherever I wish. The freedom, the feeling of having no rush, is giving me serenity, a mental chill. Not the bad type. Like water distinguishing a fire. It cools down my nerves and makes me breathe just fine. Slowly. Steadily. Peacefully.

I see a little store and get in. This is the store whose coffee I like. The hazelnut coffee!… Smell is mesmerizing me…. I buy a large cup, pay the clerk, and get out to continue my walk. I am in love with the smell and the taste of my coffee. I smile for no reason and shrug my shoulders as if to say “I do not care about anything, anyone, or any memory right now; this moment is mine and mine only. And I am enjoying it“.

I look at another cafe on the right side. I come here time to time, not for the coffee but for the fresh pastry. During spring and summer months, it is a great pleasure to sit at a table outside while eating fluffy pastry. Watching people walking up and down the street and feeling the sun on my skin…

Come to think about it, I have so many things that I like about this city and about my life. Who is happier than me right now? Who can possibly be? I have a lovely drink at my hand, walking in a fine spring day. I feel happy. For no reason or little reasons. I am lucky to have all of these.

I stop at the lights to wait for our turn. I remember how I had once skid and fell in the middle of the road in a winter day. It was my first experience with the black ice; never saw the darn thing. People had offered to help me get on my feet. For such a big city, people are great; they have not forgotten to be considerate and helpful. I love these people. I love this city.

Finally it is green light and I walk in between 30-40 people towards the center of downtown. There is the organic store on my left I check time to time. Teas and spices are my interest. Especially one of the herbal teas; I cannot remember its name. It is odd but I affirm that I will remember it later. Better yet, I can go to store anytime and recognize it by its look. I have a good memory still yet.

I contemplate about visiting the book stores a couple of streets ahead. I have spent so much time in them, often to distract my paining mind that I do not want to get in there today. I shake my head and continue. I love books but I need not to remember my pain. Not today. Not now. Not for some time.

I glance at the tall building on the right side. I used to live in that building once. Whenever I am around, I look up to see my ex-flat on the 30th floor. The glass window in the living room was awesome, as it would show the downtown with no reservation whatsoever. I could see not only the buildings around, but the hot dog stands, the bus terminal, and a little bit of the harbor at a distance…. People were everywhere… The nights had the best view; the lights scattered around the dark blue sky and the brown sidewalks. Even in the middle of the night, this city was alive. Energetic. Awake. Listening. And with it, I would lie awake on my couch, listening, but mostly lethargic. Sometimes crying, sometimes thinking. But mostly peaceful and serene.

I loved that flat and my life in it. Come to think about it, I had hard times there too, but it is the best things, best and happiest memories I tend to remember. Making peace with my past seems to come to me naturally. Only after years of remembering all of course….

to be continued

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The life in the diary – XVII

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joy journal – June 22, 2015

1. I am grateful for waking up, albeit with a negative mood, yet for nevertheless being alive.

2. I am grateful for missing some people, some smiles, some good memories that I cherish. Yep, I have lost those people, yet having the memories is priceless.

3. I am grateful for working stress-free but effectively today; many tasks have remained that I need to take care of prior to my vacation. I think this weekend and next week (July 1st – the Canada day holiday) will be great opportunities to put an extra effort to finish them all.

4. I am grateful for being usually organized and keeping a to-do-list at the office and at home. Once I take my time and put my focus on the projects/work and itemize their steps in a sequence, the rest is just following the plan one thing at a time. No need to in-depth thinking about the entire picture every single day.

5. I am grateful for typing and printing luggage name tags today; I bought two tag holder yesterday for my coming trip. I have had many occasions when the luggage either did not arrive to the right carousel or the right airport! Describing the luggage each time and waiting for them to be brought back to the residence is a headache. The name tags are supposed to help with the process. More importantly, it is for my peace of mind; last time I could not have had a name tag because of hurry and all I could hope was the description I gave would be enough to locate the luggage. It worked last time, but this year I am more experienced 🙂

6. I am grateful for having the night to myself – peaceful as usual.

7. I am grateful for eating fruits tonite – it is pretty much a habit now. I was only a sporadic fruit-eater. In the last while, I have been consistently eating apples and oranges. They help me with limiting the late-night eating habit (I used to not sleep if I had not eaten carbs, such as bread).

8. I am grateful for the tea I have had this evening – something different today a ginger-lemon tea. Surprisingly refreshing and tasty.

9. I am grateful for being okay with trying new stuff; like internet music sites other than youtube. Thanks to one of them I have come across one of the most beautiful songs…. I have been very happily listening to it, even though its genre is not one of my favorites.

10. I am grateful for walking in the afternoon (from the office to home); a slight yet consistent exercise 🙂

11. I am grateful for my notebooks, pens, computer, internet connection, books, cable, TV, phone line and all the food and furniture I have at home. They are useful; helpful; make me life comfortable and entertaining.

12. I am grateful for my blog; thanks to it I have a chance to write and formulate my feelings, thoughts, plans, and wishes.

13. I am grateful for keeping up with many of the challenges I have assigned to myself: I am walking whenever I can; continuing to eat consciously and simple; doing grocery shopping as needed not automatically; continuing to consciously spend my funds and making a consistent effort to keep my expenses within my limits; losing weights slowly without no sight of gaining back (yet); moisturizing my face everyday; drinking tea every work-day; continuing with my spending freeze of books; listening to the wonderful music both at the office and home (thanks to internet and computer); enjoying the view from my office and my yard every single day; and writing to my joy journal at least twice a week (not as frequent as it should be but that is okay).

14. I am grateful for not getting up late even though I go to bed late in the last couple of weeks; getting old 🙂

15. I am grateful for helping two people at work today and getting an unexpected offer of help from someone else for a big project of mine; he is supposed to introduce me to important connections tomorrow; cannot wait 🙂

16. I am grateful for looking at the mirror without getting terrified with the size of my belly! I am extra cautious with the belly as it can enlarge in a couple of days just like a balloon. It is such an interesting area in the body; seriously. I guess the types of food I eat can make this area change in a short time. The only way to get rid of this ever-hanging issue is to lose the fat around the belly area. They say this kind of fat is the most dangerous one, as it is close to the critical internal organs and fat can increase the level of inflammation that is linked to many disease such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and early aging…

17. I am grateful for being grateful.

I am increasingly thinking about letting more things go

There is something very refreshing and exciting about letting things go; I started making progress in this direction yesterday.

I am increasingly thinking about letting more things go. Mostly about work, but you know, I feel like I can change things in my life, too. Yes!

Many of us change jobs, houses, cities, and life-style conditions/habits throughout our lives. Sometimes, we do not want to do the change. Other times, it feels exciting.

I knew for some time that I wanted to change the focus of my projects. So far I have done good, considering the limited resources. It has been a great learning experience (the topic of my projects in the last few years were new to me), I worked with really great people, produced quite a bit, and got recognition for my work. All is good.

What is not that good is the accumulation of hardened work relationships, the need for fresh, new questions, fields, questions, experiences, work environments, topics, and work relationships.

When this “memory bin” gets full; you feel it.

I did and I am dumping that garbage. It is a process and it just started.

I am excited.

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