Honest Life

How the Turntables…

Hard to believe it’s almost May. A month since I last checked in and I was filled with anxiety for the future, but feeling optimistic overall. We took the first steps to get preapproved for a home loan, retained an amazing realtor and started looking at houses. I was going into the office on Mondays just to try to get back to feeling of normalcy and seeing a few faces at a socially safe distance. The rest of the time I was working from home, which wasn’t bad. I was getting into a routine and with the promise of a house on the horizon things were looking like they were going to be okay.

Well how the turntables...have turned. | Office quotes, Office ...
Everything right now

Then I got furloughed from my job just last Friday. I didn’t know what this meant until it was explained to me but basically I am still an employee ( I have possession of my laptop and cellphone still), but they aren’t paying me anymore until at least June 10th. This is a sneaky way for a company to get out of having to pay you when things are slow, and instead making the government do it for them via unemployment. A lot of people are experiencing this right now. I’m lucky that I have an intended return to work date, but I am honestly not holding my breath. I’ll find out in six weeks if I’m still employed and in the meantime I’m trying to navigate Oregon and Washington unemployment to get paid. No surprises that unemployment is generally hard to navigate, but during a pandemic with millions of people applying every week it’s kind of a mess. Add in verifying wages between two states and you’ve got yourself a wait time. At this rate I’ll probably get paid for unemployment when (if) I get rehired. In June. What a mess.

Jobless Memes
The bright side

I am trying to look at this as an opportunity though. The housing search has unfortunately had to stop, but now there’s an opportunity to put more money away for a down payment. In the meantime I get to spend more time with my in-laws, who truly are lovely people. Also there is a cute dog involved. I am spending more time on Duolingo learning Spanish. Just a side thing that I never really could find time for, but now I am just full of endless time. I’m scheduling daily time to write and exercise more. There’s plenty of TV and movies to catch up on.

The bummer is a lot of things are still closed. I’d love to look at this situation as a six week vacation, but when you can’t visit family, friends or spend time in any national parks, it’s really kind of a bummer.

The most important thing I’m trying to do is be okay with not being productive or happy. This entire situation is hard enough without forcing myself to feel a certain way. I think that goes for all of us. I’m sure we are having good quarantine days and bad ones. The most important thing to do is let yourself just feel whatever you’re feeling. I’d love to be productive and positive every day of this hopefully ‘only’ six week period out of work. But I can’t honestly say I will be. There will be bad days. I am sure I can foresee a day coming up where I don’t leave the bed and binge watch After Life season 2 on Netflix (or did I already do that..?). I am sure there will be days when I don’t feel like exercising or reading or writing or learning Spanish. That’s okay.

I’m just going to try to get through this like everyone else – by taking it one day at a time. I mean if celebrities can do it during this time – can’t we ALL? They’re the real heroes.

….

Things could be worse. I don’t NEED my unemployment check to come right this second. I don’t have rent right now. I have money in savings to take care of bills until it comes through. I will be okay. Not everyone can say that right now. Despite everything I am still sticking to my word of the year ‘secure’ and trying to feel that as much as possible. Despite everything we are still secure in this state. We have family to shelter us, loved ones to give us advice and we are eventually employable when all this blows over. I am privileged that this is the case.

That’s all I’ve got. Remember, don’t inject clorox into your veins, the sunlight is not a cure, but if you’re going to go out in it wear sunscreen, and finally just stay safe and listen to the professionals. Now isn’t forever.

Honest Life

Moving During A Pandemic

My word of the year is ‘Secure’. What a year to pick that word to guide my life and decisions. And it’s only March. Something comforting right now is knowing that pretty much the entire world is experiencing the same thing right now. We might all be feeling very different about it, but COVID-19 is happening to all of us. It is effecting our jobs, our routines, our health, our normalcy and yes, our security.

Our original plan was to move back to Spokane, live off my wages from a new job that paid more, have my husband secure a job in 1-2 months and then move out of my in-laws place and into our new home we bought. Oh me from the past, how could you have predicted a sickness that started half way around the world in December would come to effect you directly in so many ways in March?

That new job that paid more and was promised to be super secure in employment? It laid off seven people on Friday due to upcoming revenue loss from COVID-19. While my job seems safe at the moment, if things continue as they have been who’s to say what measure would need to be taken to keep the business afloat. The job my husband was going to get? No one is conducting interviews right now. The house? Probably not a good idea to make one of the biggest investments in your life when your income could disappear any day. And good luck finding a realtor that will show you homes right now. All of this and the worry of being infected and living with three extremely high risk people can become all consuming. This is the least secure I have felt in a long time.

Get outside if you can. It can help immensely.

So much change in just a short amount of time has caused me great concern and anxiety. What semi comforts me is that we are truly all experiencing this together. I am lucky to have a job while I can have one (hopefully for a long time). I am lucky I can work from home and not worry about bringing in a pandemic that I could probably survive, but my family would most likely not. I am lucky I am living with my in-laws. Although not ideal, if I do lose my job I don’t have to worry about being evicted. I am lucky in so many ways that other people are not right now. And honestly, with all these worries, none of them matter if someone gets sick. I am just happy everyone I know and love is healthy at the moment.

The truth is no one knows what is ahead and no one has the answers. We truly have to take this one day at a time and react the best we can to the changes that come at us.

Despite this knowledge, I am filled with dread at times. A dread that feels so similar to what I felt when I first moved to Portland. I’ve talked about that feeling before. That sense of dread and consuming depression. I have almost had it drag me down twice since I’ve been here. I made the choices to come here based on the evidence of security I felt in that decision at the time. Now I am thrown for a loop wondering what in the world I’ve done. However, I do feel more secure to be near more family during this time. It comforts me to know we have people who care for us here that would never let us end up in a bad situation. In a way that confirms some of the security I came back for.

No one knows how long this will last or how it will end. How we will get back to normalcy. If we will. The best we can do is just keeping moving and keeping in touch and checking in with each other.

Google Hangouts keeping me sane.

I’ve found extreme comfort through video apps like Google Hangout and House Party. These have been so good for my mental health. It can be lonely during quarantine seeing the same people day after day. Only leaving the house for walks or grocery shopping necessities. I think it’s important to stay connected to as many people as we can during this.

If you are an anxious person and are feeling all around shit about this experience my advice is to reach out to others, limit your access to the news and focus on what hasn’t changed as everything changes rapidly around us. Another thing is to focus on is what has changed for the better. Whatever you’re feeling it’s okay to feel it. Some of you are happy about a quarantine. You’re able to spend more time with your families, relax at home and keep an income going through this. Other people aren’t so fortunate. There is no wrong way to feel right now. Just feel it.

I wake up and try to think of three things that I am happy about that have changed and three that haven’t. Here were some I wrote down from last week:

Things that haven’t changed:

  1. Recording/editing the podcast
  2. Being able to bake (even though I had to use oat flour thanks to food hoarders – stop hoarding food!)
  3. Checking out digital loans from the library for free so I’m always reading something new

Things that have changed that are positive:

  1. More puppy time
  2. Sleeping in an extra hour on work days
  3. Talking more with friends than I used to

I’ve been limiting my news digestion to 15 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after dinner. This has been such a huge positive change for me and if you easily get sucked in to the news cycle or it makes you anxious I highly recommend setting boundaries like this.

Overall things aren’t perfect. But is anyone experiencing a perfect time right now? Or ever? we just have to continue to stay connected, not get sucked into anything too negative and feel our feeling as they come. Know they’re okay, validate them and keep going.

Stay healthy everyone.

Honest Life

An Honest Move

I’ve been pretty quiet on here lately. It’s been a mixture of being insanely busy (as you’ll see) and trying to find the right words to say. I started off 2020 with my word of the year, ‘secure’, and I’ve been letting it guide me on this crazy set of circumstances that have all aligned in the past month.

It really started over the summer though. My husband and I were just getting settled into the second floor of this three level condominium we had moved into in the spring. The inside was beautiful, but we missed our backyard we had at the rental house and we really missed not having people walk over our head all day. We had just gotten back from a visit to Spokane for a friend’s wedding and we had toured my brother and sister in-law’s new home and my friends were talking about buying soon as well or having just bought a place. We were starting to think of our future in Portland. What did home buying look like for us here?

We have been here seven years and six of those years were great. I’ve talked before on here about how hard it was at first and how difficult it was career wise for the first year we were here. But we really hit our stride in the last 4-5 years here. We love the food and the beer. We love our friends. We have great careers. The problem was two things: our time off was minimal and we missed our family and friends in Spokane.

We only get to come here once a year because of PTO issues and this place is a huge source of calm and relaxation for my body and soul.

Regarding our first problem, we had 2 weeks per year to fit in all our vacation. About 5 days to visit Spokane (2 in winter, 3 in summer), 3 days to visit California to see my family, and then we were left with TWO PTO DAYS to give to our passion of traveling. Which was really what we wanted to do. And who can really take in a new country or place in 5 days? It just wasn’t feasible. We were stuck with having to fit a trip into a long weekend, or cut down our PTO days to our family, but that wasn’t something we wanted to compromise on. Which was the second problem: we missed our friends and family. My Aunt has a great lake cabin in northern Idaho we like to visit. I only saw my friends once a year over Thanksgiving. My in-laws are the greatest people on the planet and we just saw them for a day in the summer and a few days over the holidays. It just wasn’t enough.

So we started talking in our little condo about how nice it’d be to have a house and some space. We could finally get a puppy, watch TV as loudly as we wanted, cook without bumping into each other. They seemed like little things, but what an improvement to our mental and physical health to be in a bigger space. A space that was just ours. A space we could NOT afford in Portland. The housing market here is just too expensive and we’d have to pay a lot more to get what we wanted when we could pay a fraction of that in Spokane.

So it was decided. We would move. A year from now. Ideally June 2021. Plenty of time to save up, get used to the idea, say our goodbyes, etc. We opened up to recruiters on Linkedin so we could start to look at what kind of jobs we might be able to get in Spokane when we were ready.

But this is life we’re talking about and things never go the way you plan. I got a hit right away from a recruiter and with some stealthy research found out the company that was wanting to hire. As a side note – if you can bypass a recruiter, do it. Recruiters are nice, but they take a portion of your salary as a hiring fee if you get the job. Not worth it. I applied directly and got a call back. I figured this would be a good chance to see what the job market had to offer and start to get an idea of what type of company I’d want to work for. So I did a few interviews. Felt really positive about it. They flew me out to Spokane for an interview and offered me a job on the spot. Not what I expected. I also didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Three weeks later and our thoughts about moving a year and a half from now were becoming more like a few weeks from now.

It was very overwhelming. I kept trying to weigh the pros and cons. We left Spokane in 2013 because the job market was terrible, we needed experience and honestly we were pretty bored there. In the last five years though Spokane has really grown. There’s great new restaurants, brewerys, a renovated downtown. I mean it’s still Spokane, let’s be clear. But I was starting to see the positives more and more. So we talked it over and with the increase in pay from this new job, the 3 weeks PTO, the paid for benefits and the free relocation – it was a no brainier. With a lower cost of living in Spokane, it just all started to make sense.

Sun’s out, Apex out. Will miss my favorite beer/burrito combo place!!!

So we’re moving back to Spokane. A place that when I left I never thought I’d come back to. We’re really looking forward to it though. We will miss Portland so much. We both made our careers here, ate amazing food, drank decadent wine and beer, spent a great deal of time on beautiful hikes and exploring the coast and most importantly we made some of the best friends here. It’s hard to leave, but it the best choice for us at the moment.

Which goes back to my word of the year. Secure. With the better pay and lower cost of living, my security goals for the year are in full focus. Even outside of money, I think about the security of owning a home and feeling comfortable in it. Of being close to family and friends who can take you in if you need it. There is a lot that is secure about Spokane to me. It may not be a flashy or fun. It may not be as warm in the winter (it may also be too hot in the summer…). It may not have a brewery on every corner, a new place to eat every week or a new adventure to go out on, but it has a lot of other qualities that I am looking forward to experiencing again. But most importantly it is right for us.

It also goes back to my constant striving for a simple, honest life. This decision feels good for me. It feels like a good way to simplify my life and my time. It’s honest to say I want to move back. We made the decision by taking an honest look at how we wanted to live our lives and what was important to us.

Now all that’s left to do is move. AND YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE MOVING.

Honest Life

Word of the Year: Secure

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I used to be a big resolutions person. I would make this big list in December and have all these great goals for the year. Unlike a lot of people I would actually accomplish them all too. But I moved away from that this last year. Even though it was great from a productivity standpoint it wasn’t good from a mental health standpoint. I’m the kind of person that puts a lot of pressure on myself and when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. Even at the cost of my wants, needs and usually my sleep and sanity. For me, resolutions were starting to breed unhappiness in my life.

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This time last year I started this website and I was using it to force myself into monthly challenges with weekly updates. It was fun and I really enjoyed it at first. Then it started to become burdensome. I was not adjusting my challenges to fit realistically within the balance of my life. I was overworked and overwhelmed and then I realized that the only person putting pressure on me to do these extra things I had no time for, was me. I was the problem. That’s always a fun realization…

So I have had to learn to let go. I threw my resolutions out the window in July for the first time ever and I started to teach myself to be in the moment and realize it was okay to (in my idea of the word) fail. What I didn’t realize at the time was I wasn’t failing at anything. I was allowing myself to be free. To take each day as it came. I was allowing myself to set goals, but being more realistic about the outcomes and time limits and realizing the goals can shift and change constantly based on what’s going on in my life. AND THAT IS OKAY.

This was a huge eye opener for me. Around this time I started following a lot of great blogs and writers who were throwing the idea of resolutions out the window as well. Why toss on added pressure in your life? It’s great to set goals and to have plans! It’s still one of my favorite things. But those plans and goals should be flexible and able to be adjusted. One of the blogs I was reading was talking about creating a Word of the Year for yourself. Instead of a giant list of things you want to get done and forcing yourself to do them and hit target dates you go through your year with a word in mind. A word that will guide you.

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If this is still confusing here is a great website devoted to creating a word of the year. Fair warning, the site is little religiously devotional so just side step that stuff like I did if it’s not your thing.

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With a word of the year, goals can still be set, lists made, but with a word of the year they turn more into guidelines. The idea is to guide yourself throughout the year based on this one word. So if you have a goal to get healthier and be more fit this year, rather than setting a weight goal or a calorie limit (because we all know how well THAT always works out) you could have your word of the year be ‘intention’, and you can go through the year doing everything in your life with more intention and you can focus that word on what you are taking into your body. Not only are you leaving more wiggle room for yourself for when life gets in the way (and it will), but you’re going about your day with the word in mind. This word not only helps with a health goal, but can be focused on a work or family goal too. Go about your day with more intention in your mind. Don’t just do things to do them, feel the intention behind those actions, words or even food choices.

I like the word of the year because it’s more of a mind set rather than a specific thing you need to do. It should be a word that sets the tone for every day for you this next year.

My word for 2020 is SECURE. I’ve been getting obsessed with my finances lately, which has included factoring my net worth, paying down debt, saving up an emergency fund, and investing for the first time outside of my 401k. This year was all about gathering information about all of those things. I’d like to use this word to guide me in taking action every day in what I do. I chose ‘Secure’ over ‘Save’ or ‘Money’ because it’s the one word I felt really spoke to me about the importance of having a financial backup plan.

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I learned how to spend at a young age playing this game.

This doesn’t mean I’m not going to spend money! I’ve got trips planned and fun things to do that involve money this upcoming year. Key word being ‘planned’. But what my word odes mean is I’m not going to jump into any money spending without thinking about it first. My word will help me ask questions with every action I make: Did I plan for this purchase? Is it an emergency purchase? Does this help me towards my monthly saving goals? Is this necessary?

And then bringing it back around to my word: Will spending this money I didn’t plan help me feel more secure?

See how a word can guide your decision making?

I turned 30 this year and I have stared to think more and more about the future, while also trying to live in the present. I don’t want to go crazy and leave myself with $100 every paycheck and squirrel away the rest. I want to still go have a good time, see the world, see my friends, see Taylor Swift in concert again (July!), but I also want to be feel secure in knowing I planned for those things. They weren’t last minute shopping sprees placed on a credit card (I can thank Barbie for teaching me that was normal and okay).

At the moment I am only four paychecks away from having no money. If I don’t get paid for three cycles I will have nothing. Okay, I’m being dramatic. I have a husband who could pay the bills until I get another paycheck. If we both lose our jobs we could dip into 401k and withdrawal for hardship (I NEVER RECOMMEND THIS, but still it’s an emergency option), and we have great family members who could help lend us money if it really did come down to it. But I don’t want to have to do ANY of those things. I want to feel secure with my finances and my life so that if an emergency pops up I can take care of myself and feel secure in my life. After all, Millions of Americans are just one paycheck away from ‘financial disaster’.

So to avoid all that, I have some financial goals this year, but my overall goal is to feel more secure in my wealth and savings by the end of next year. I think the best thing people can do is be more transparent with their finances. We’ve been taught that discussing salary and wealth is taboo, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s also more helpful for everyone to use REAL NUMBERS when discussing finances to help others see what it takes to become more financially smart. Here are my goals, and I put these out there KNOWING that they might change or need to be adjusted, but keeping these goals in mind with SECURE at the forefront:

  • Save 10K in an emergency fund
  • Max out 401k for the year
    • FYI the max for 2020 is $19,500 and if you’re not AT LEAST maxing our your employer match DO IT NOW. THAT IS FREE MONEY.
  • Open a Roth IRA and max it out for the year
    • I STILL HAVEN’T OPENED THIS YET AND IT MAKES ME FEEL SO BEHIND – FYI the max is for 2020 is $6,000
  • Pay off car
    • I owe $11,781.44 on my car and plan to pay it off by June – a year and a half early

My last bit of advice for a word of the year is to force yourself to see it every day. I’ve got the word pinned on my desk, face wash drawer, computer at home and even on my bedside table. It helps me visualize it every day and keep it at the forefront in everything I do this year.

What’s your word? And if you want to go this route and are still having trouble choosing a word, one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica Rose Williams just posted about her word and gave some great tips on how to choose yours including:

  • What do I want more of in my life?
  • What do I want less of in my life?
  • Imagine yourself a year from now and allow yourself to dream. What’s changed? How do you feel?
  • What’s the name of your ship that’s about to set sail to that island where you want to be?

Let me know your word!

Book Reviews

Top 5 Fiction and Non-Fiction Reads of 2019

Happy holidays to you all. Last year I did a post on my top five fiction and non-fiction reads of 2018 and I wanted to continue the tradition. I love my goodreads account because it helps me track what I’ve read for the year and also for my entire life, which is kind of fun. I like a lot of different books. I’m big on romance novels, non-fiction, biographies, contemporary adult fiction, etc. I mean I will literally read anything as seen below. Here are my top five favorite books I read this year split into fiction and non-fiction. Let me know your favorites!

Top Five Fiction Books

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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This book was a trip. It made me feel all the feels. The novel gained attention when Reese Witherspoon announced it was going to be her book club pick a few years back, so you’ve probably heard of it. Eleanor is a quiet, quirky office worker who is content to stay that way forever. She’s got a long list of weird habits and offbeat social skills that have kept her from having emotional relationships with just about everyone. Once a week she is allowed a phone call with her mother, which gives off a creepy vibe right away, and on top of that she has that mild alcoholism thing going on, so there is obviously more to the story than Eleanor lets on. Boy is there ever. I loved this book. It made me cry.

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng is quickly becoming a favorite author for me. Her previous novel, Little Fires Everywhere was amazing and this book was no exception. The story follows a mixed race family in an all white area in the 1970s as they all grieve in their separate ways bout the death of their perfect daughter and sister. All of Ng’s books are super character driven and this one is no exception to that rule.

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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Speaking of character drive books…earlier in the year I finally finished Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. What I loved so much about this entire series is that it starts off super basic. A girl enters a king’s tournament of assassins to become the king’s assassin and is torn between the love of the prince and his guard. Like, we have heard this one before. By the second book though all tropes are thrown out the god damn window as Maas delights us with plot twists and turns you couldn’t even predict. New characters are introduced constantly throughout the series and somehow readers care so deeply about them all. This series literally has it all. And it goes so far beyond romance and into a high fantasy, EXTREMELY character driven epic series that honestly blew me away. It had such a great final book and I just cannot recommend this series enough. Manon Blackbeak is my hero.

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Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A LOT of people were talking about this book this year. Mostly for how unconventional it was. The story follows Daisy Jones and The Six, a fictional band in the 70s (think Stevie Nicks and The Heartbreakers). We follow Daisy’s journey from no one to fame, from solo career to The Six, all through a series of interviews pieced together by the interviewer. And wait until you find out who the interviewer is. It is super unique and a really fun read.

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

This has my vote for book of the year. Ocean Vuong is a fairly well known poet and this is his first novel. The entire thing reads like poetry. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and really pulls you in. The novel follows a young Vietnamese immigrant throughout his childhood and adulthood. Told through the boys’ letters to his mother later in life, the novel follows his mother and grandmother’s lives as they deal with the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the cultural shifts in America and the narrator’s sexuality. My heart. It hurts.

Top Five Non-Fiction Books

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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McKeown’s book had a profound effect on the way I do my job since reading it. Trying to wade through the madness of a to do list and multiple priorities, McKeown asks you to find the priority. Singular. There should only be one after all, it was never a word that was meant to be used to describe more than one thing. Essentialism also asks you to say ‘no’ more, to value your time and better decide how and where to spend your energy. Something I’ve been trying to do for ages. This book has really helped me and I read it twice this year!

Educated by Tara Westover

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I did a full review of this already, but this was such a good read. There have been some disputes from Tara Westover’s family that have come out since the book released, but I believe Tara’s story over theirs. Even if it turns out some facts aren’t 100% true the overarching story definitely is and it is one of the power of education and living your own life, even if it means separating from your family and leaving everything you’ve ever known behind.

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White Rage by Carol Anderson

This is a fascinating read about how historically white people in power and the voting public have roadblocked black Americans at every twist and turn since slavery was abolished. This book is a short, but powerful narrative on our society and understanding the pervasiveness of racism and inequality, and the state of current American politics.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robinson and Joe Dominguez

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This was another one I did a full review on. This book changed my life about how I perceive my time and money. It’s been around for a long time and the basic concept is to treat each decision with money as if you are paying for it with your life force, which essentially you are. Paying for a night out drinking? That’ll be five hours of your life force on Monday, please. The book also helps calculate your true hourly wage (after the cost to get to work, time traveling to work, lunch bought, etc.), which has really been eye opening for me.

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Maid by Stephanie Land

The things people say, do or leave out for their maid to find are truly staggering. This book is a memoir of sorts from Stephanie Land, a woman who raised a daughter alone, battled with government assistance and tried to make a better life for herself and her daughter while cleaning houses. Barrack Obama chose this as his summer reading pick this year and it is well worth the read.