#4 topic for reflection during holidays

This has been something I have been keep visiting but never fully committed to:

#4 topic for reflection during the holiday season for me is to take more risks. Being more bold. Doing things differently or doing different things.

I have had a tendency to move around my comfort zone, both at work and at life in the last few years. This past 6 months I somewhat moved into two new fields at work. It has been a bold step that was hard on me (too much stress and too much of a hard work), but it also helped grow me. Being interested in new topics, challenging myself, and then producing things/reports/projects that look really good gives a huge satisfaction. I would like to keep growing this way at work. Who knows; maybe I will even change my work 🙂

As per my life and life-style, I need to apply a similar mind-set. The trouble is that as I age, I find that I need/enjoy more of stability and less of challenges. Social interactions would be one example – I am getting more and more enjoying a solo life and limited social interactions than before. Good? Bad? I do not know. But this might be one area to challenge myself.

Another area may be changing my style. This past weekend I wished I had worn dresses 🙂 Would that not be amazing? With proper leggings/pants, summer or winter I may be able to enjoy this new style. I think it will be just fine together with my new (naturally silvery, pepper and salt hair) 🙂

Goodness knows, maybe I will even go out to musicals or concerts 🙂

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 🙂

 

 

 

the 8th day of the staycation

Wow!.. Days pass quickly. I cannot believe that I have 6 days left before I return back to office and start a work-marathon….This thought somehow depressed me, but I will let it go.

I have had a fine day with shopping and nothing else in particular. I am making an effort to have free time so that I can reflect rather than keep myself busy with doing house chores or other activities.

The year 2016 has been quite an interesting year for my life. I felt happiness quite a bit; especially when I started yoga/stretching classes in January. It was going well, I was feeling connected to my body and appreciating it, but then one night I pulled a muscle on my back and I quit those classes. Alas..

I under-estimated how bad that lower back problem was and even though I was recommended to see a physiotherapist I did not and two weeks later I pulled it again. I had no chance but to take it serious. And I have. I attended physiotherapy, my work-place purchased me a standing desk, and I have been doing my back stretches/strengthening exercises  quite frequently. My back is feeling alright, but I am not naive to think that it has been healed completely. I will keep taking care of it.

Then late February my dad passed away and sadness engulfed me. if you follow my blog, you know I am grieving quite a bit… He was a gentle soul who deserved much better. I wish our lives were different.. May he rest in peace.

My relationship with my family strained a little bit after my dad passed away and we are trying to mend it. I never thought that I could have such a serious issues with my family members, but I did. Just recently I decided to go visit them this summer – I hope things will be back to normal. Love is stronger than anything else, even though time to time I too succumb into disliking things and people. Nothing changes the fact that my family is important to me.

In October, I went to a European convention and got strained there for two additional days because of a labor issue in the host country. The stress and anxiety I felt was palpable – would I be able to find a hotel room to stay? When could I return back safely? . Eventually it turned out to be okay, but this incident changed me a little bit. perhaps next time I can handle it better (not that I wish another adventure like this…). During those times I accidentally stepped on a song by Sia – Chandelier, which remains to be one of my favorites since then. I believe there has not been a day that I have not listened to it. The voice is captivating (though I am not sure what to think about the video).

 

In May I started to bake my own bread and in september I started my own sourdough starter 🙂 these two have been quite interesting adventures and  I am so happy that I have them in my life 🙂

And lately in November or so, I also became interested in sewing; I bought my sewing machine and have been collecting all the notions and supplies since then. I am not good at sewing yet, but I hope I will be over time 🙂

And, as per my budget; I have had the greatest budget at the beginning of 2016; it was the leanest budget I have had in the last 7-8 years and it did wonders for me. I was able to significantly reduce my spending, bring my chequing account to a positive balance, increase my RRSP contributions and my mortgage payments. During summer I succumbed back to spending unnecessarily, yet I hope the new year will give me a chance to keep my budget on track.

And finally; I lost around 15-20 pounds during the the past year. I suspect that baking my own bread and my lower back problem both contributed to it. I am feeling good about it and wish to keep losing some more fat in the coming year.

As per work; it continues to stress me out and I perform well, however, less than before. There are times that our interests change and I guess it has been the case for my work too. I still do a considerable amount of work, but there were times that I wished I could retire. Retirement is a distant dream, but it is such a freeing dream… I wonder what else I would discover and get interested in….

This year was also one of these that I made an attempt to be more social. I hosted a few times at my house, but it worked out well. I socialized with friends and colleagues and enjoyed them to some degree. Honestly I am not very interested in hosting or socializing again anytime soon, but I am glad at least I tried, made an effort to enjoy these occasions, and realized once more that solitude is the best life-style for me.

Quite a busy and influential year, is it not? 🙂

minimal spending plan till new year

Holiday season is coming. That means; a) I am socializing more often than usual, and b) shopping! In both cases, I will be spending money 🙂

I want to take advantage of the sales and the fact that I will be off for two weeks during the holidays means that I have time to go around and shop without rush. it is quite fun actually!

My plan is to purchase a new dining set, mixing bowl, sifter, french press for home, tea kettle, and other small stuff. I also would like to stock up my cleaning products, such as garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towel, dish detergent, and others. The regularly consumed food, such as canned food, are also in the list. Sure, I will also buy new pants and shirts when they are on sale. And socks.

The list was actually bigger than that, but I felt that I must trim it….Considering the fact that my biggest financial aim till new year is to make an additional payment to my mortgage, while I am excited about the idea of shopping and purchasing stuff that I will need, I am also aware that I may be financially strained if I am not careful and cut some of these expenses.

Since it is more beneficial to take advantage of the sales (and to socialize with great people), I have just decided I should implement a “minimal spending” plan. It is not as strict as “shopping ban“. It just aims to be more resourceful by using the food in the pantry, freezer, and fridge, and eliminating my weekend breakfast-related expenses till new year. I am not against occasional set-back, but I am determined to do my best.

I have been toying with this idea this past weekend (in order to save for my sewing machine) and it actually went okay. My grocery bill is lower, yet I have everything I need. I was okay brewing my own coffee and have breakfast at home. I also seem to have stocked up a lot of cleaning products/dry food/frozen food, so the timing is good. As a matter of fact, it is actually quite good that I will be consuming what I have; this will give me a chance to help replenish them with fresher ones.

I have 6 weeks to keep my weekly expenses low, to my best, and then leverage these funds to shop.

When it is a short period of time, I know it is doable. When I first had shopping ban on purchasing books, I was not sure how long I could keep up with it. But it did happen and is still continuing voluntarily. I hope that this minimal spending plan will work out just fine, too 🙂

a great long weekend so far :)

Friday was the Canadian Remembrance Day and an official holiday. May all those perish/killed/hurt at wars and because of wars may be remembered by compassion, love, and respect. As one of my friends said “No war is a good war”…

Anyways; mostly because I have had a great weekend last week full of shopping, I felt like I could work on Friday. That has been a wise decision as it was quiet and there was no distraction. I had a productive and easy day.

Yesterday was full of socials! First I met with an ex-colleague/assistant of mine who has a young baby. It was so exciting to see her again and meet with her little baby. What a lovely, happy, and cute baby he is – may he have a long, healthy, happy and pleasant life.

Then I went to a dinner I was invited to and met with great people and enjoyed conversations on many different topics. I had great time and I felt really lucky to have these people and occasions in my life. See, lately I have been making an attempt to be social and so far it has been going really well, making me feel like it is awesome to socialize with great people!

And today, I am baking a carrot-sourdough loaf, which I hope will turn out to be great. We will see in a couple of hours 🙂

Overall, I am feeling great about this weekend.

Have a wonderful Sunday everyone 🙂

socialization attempt – II

I have been blessed with yet another successful social yesterday 🙂

A friend of mine connected with me a colleague that just moved where I am and we thought we could get together over a brunch. I also invited another friend of mine, who is also a colleague. We had a wonderful brunch and then came to my place to do some baking together! 🙂

It was a fine day with lots of laughs and working together on food. None of us seemed to be an expert yet we all were interested in putting our hands on the dough. We tried mid-size and small loafs filled with beef, spinach etc. and they turned out to be tasty and lovely. We decided to do this again. It also turned out that the hubby of the new colleague has a tasty bread recipe from his mom, which we sure are to try sometime.

Company makes all the difference, is it not? I love and value both of my colleagues. There is diversity in our attitudes though – our new colleague is very down-to-earth and smart but not a dominant person. She also made herself at home, lovingly rolled the loaves and was excited to do so. It is a pleasure to be with this kind of people; it is comfy and friendly.

My other colleague is also very nice, but she thinks that I should change and arrange my furniture in a way that she thinks is best. I am so far kind and not taking it as a serious intervention in my life. But honestly, do you not get annoyed by people who think you should replace your furniture with the ones they like and then also arrange your home the way they like? It makes the impression that they do not like your house/furniture and also think that they know better than you do, even re; your own house?

Somebody needs to awaken these individuals; that we all have choices and when the right time comes I will make the arrangements in my house the way I like or decide. I guess young people are like that but I can be the wise one between the two and let this one go. I would love to deal with it better next time and make it clear that I have my own plans for my home – I think that would cut this down 🙂

when the socializing attempt feels good :)

My socializing attempt yesterday by hosting 6 adults and two little girls was a success:)

It took me some time to clean and cook, pick up stuff, and organize the dinner table, but I can tell you the people you are hosting make all the difference; nice, polite, and humble people make every effort of yours look like a giant success; abundance of laughter makes it comfy and fun; and more importantly, having two little kids at home is an amazingly joyful.

Kids and I played. I had a couple of toys from the past which we used to our enjoyment. The older kid (3.5 years old) was the doctor and put first aid bandage on every leg, arm, and head we could find on the toys. We also had a therapy dog (toy) for which the little girl (1 year old) and I made a dog house (out of a small cardboard box). At the end, thanks to the efforts of the kids and the therapy dog, all patients were healed and the puppy was very happy 🙂

My friends were amazing too; even though I almost burned the bottom of the bread, they ate it. And they ate everything else, which was awesome.

There were hassles, of course. Like, I burnt my sourdough (that I was rising) on the stove when I wanted to warm it up and then forgot to turn the stove off…

Oh, well. It was a fine day and I am okay with that 🙂

 

socialization attempt

I have been contemplating lately about the changes that have happened to me and one area that bothers me is the low frequency of social interactions out of work.

I used to host my friends almost every weekend 10-15 years ago. We were all young, single or married, but with no kids. It was easier then.

Then I moved to another country and my friends over there were now over 30 and lovingly with babies/kids. I loved the kids, I loved my friends, but what I was cooking or offering at home as entertainment for my guests were not adequate (I had no toys or board games, for example. I sucked in cooking meals that kids would love). I got to play with the kid when I visited their homes and was welcome and never felt awkward because of me being single or without a kid, but honestly I eventually fed up listening about kids all the time and watching the kid movies. I started to miss sincere conversations about life, our lives, and other philosophical discussions. It also annoyed me quite a bit after a while that my friends thought that I could be there whenever they wanted, as I had “no dependent“. They missed the point that I too had a life, issues, joys, interests, and needed time for myself and needed people/friends who would listen to me and intellectually stimulate me.

We have had enough frustration and disappointment. Bitter emotions built up. Eventually, I drifted away slowly as they also did.

Then I moved to my current city and got very, very busy with the work. I met with many wonderful people but was not able to host them because of time-restrictions. I developed quite a bit of insecurity about my cooking skills too, which also contributed to my anti-social life. Not to mention a number of serious health and family issues I have had in the last few years that made me more and more introvert.

But no insecurity or busyness or being anti-social are helping me and it is time to break this cycle.

It was an unusually busy week and I am tired cleaning the home and thinking about the menu tomorrow, but I am doing this with excitement – I am hosting a number of lovely people and two little kids tomorrow 🙂

 

holiday plans :)

I have posted a similar post earlier, but hey, it is always exciting to think and plan for things to do during a 12 day holidays. So bear with me 🙂

1. I am excited that two days later I do not need to think about getting up early. That means I can stay up late at nights, my favorite time of the day – yay! 🙂

2. I can stay away from the office and the workplace for 12 days; while I like my office and work, this change is so welcomed 🙂

3. I will be able to work at my own pace without anyone interrupting me. I hope I will not get emails that will require me to work at the office. Murphy’s law though – there is always something that comes up during the holidays…

4. I will have breakfast every single morning 🙂 usually during the work days I do not have breakfast (not feeling hungry). I sure will try to visit different cafes, weather permitting.

5. I will find a chance to contemplate about my life, my needs, and priorities. The problem with being a work-oriented person is that I am so focused on work that I often times forget my out-of-work life. This holidays time is great for me to listen to myself and see which kind of life I would like for myself.

6. I will be able to shop! As a matter of fact, I have been on shopping freeze for many items/purchases in the last few months. The sales will be an awesome opportunity to buy stuff that I need (not necessarily the stuff that I want – I am still keen on being frugal, though I must confess I am less frugal this month. Not that I spend too much money on gifts, dinners, or travel; I just feel relaxed and opened the purse a little bit..)

7. I will be able to make plans for the new year – 2016. I always liked this; the planning part of it. Let’s see what has worked this past year (my budget certainly did work) and what did not (my healthy eating and weight loss attempts failed). Time to come up with better plans and new aims.

8. I have started compiling my financial situation in 2015; Thursday I will be able to calculate my net worth, how much I have spent, and how much I have saved. I am excited about this 🙂 I know that I have saved quite a bit, thanks to the budget I have implemented in June. I will be excited to know how well I have done. It is a great, motivating exercise. I also will categorize the expenses in 2016 in more categories. For example, purchases related to cleaning and personal products will be noted under a new category. This will help me to keep up with my weekly allowance, which I usually over-spend and which makes me feel not so good about myself (I used to count such expenses under the weekly allowance..).

9. Socialize! Yep, I will socialize with good friends of mine 🙂 looking forward to this.

10. Cook for myself. Yep, I will. I have a couple of dishes that I love but take time to prepare. Holidays have always been the time for me to cook them for myself. Good food = happiness 🙂

11. I will make myself some pasta. Yep. I will prepare the dough and cut it out in long and thin strips, and let them dry. It makes a great dish, especially with cheese. I plan to make around 2 pounds of this. I am assuming it will be enough for a couple of months.

 

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