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!

April 2019 - Fruit · April 2019 - Fruit · Fruit

Fruit – Week One

I ate fruit all the way from Argentina this week. You probably did too, honestly. A lot of our fruit and produce comes from different countries. Apples are the only thing in the U.S. we can usually count on as coming from only a town or two away from us. So why does fruit come to us from so far away? Sometimes it’s just because the fruit can only be grown in a certain region and other times for no reason at all except somehow it’s cheaper (capitalist wise, not environment wise – the environmental cost can be incredibly high as we’ll find out this month).

I didn’t branch out a whole lot this week although I did try two new varieties of a fruit that I’ve had before. In doing my research on this month I have to say: U.S. produce is just not that interesting, fun, or delicious as other countries fruit selection.

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Pink Cherimoya. Mark Twain called this fruit “the most delicious fruit known to men”. The creamy texture of the flesh gives the fruit its secondary name, custard apple.

“There are mangoes that taste like piña coladas. Orange cloudberries. White blueberries, Blue apricots. Red Lemons. Golden Raspberries. Pink cherimoyas. Willy Wonk’s got nothing on Mother Nature….There are thousand upon thousands of fruits that we never imagined – and that few of us will ever taste, unless we embark on fruit-hunting expeditions.

The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner

I didn’t have anything quite as delicious as mentioned above this week. On Monday I had Cantaloupe, one of my faves. This fruit isn’t quite in season yet, and I was running late into the office so I grabbed a precut plastic container of it (I hate myself for this so no need to rub it in). It was packaged in Portland but I’m not sure where this particular one was grown as it did not say. It tasted fine – but not as good as freshly cut and in season cantaloupe.

On Tuesday I had a Banana because there was some in the office and I hadn’t been to the store in a week. This particular banana was from Ecuador and it was good. Almost all bananas in the United States are eaten from Central and South America. I’m reading this really interesting book right now called Banana, and I’m learning some really awesome facts about this commonplace fruit. Americans eat more bananas per year than apples and oranges combined; and in many parts of the world, bananas are what keep hundreds of millions of people alive. What’s interesting about the banana is how it’s evolved. The banana we eat today is of the Cavendish variety. The banana our grandparent’s ate (which doesn’t exist anymore) was called the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel apparently tasted better, was creamier and had a more fruity taste. The reason it doesn’t exist anymore is because of Panama Disease. It’s a fungus that is transmitted through soil and water and can wipe out entire crops of bananas. It made the Gros Michel extinct and is doing its best to wipe out the Cavendish at this very moment. More on that next week.

Wednesday I grabbed a basket of raspberries that were delicious. They were from Washington State. Raspberries go in season here in June, but they’re mostly good year round. I’m going to make a point to go berry picking this summer as there are a ton of wonderful patches in this area and it’s been two years since I last did it.

Thursday I branched out and had a new variety of mango. I’ve seen yellow mangoes before, but never gave them a try. This one was from Mexico – and most of those we get in the U.S. are, they just grow best down there. They are in season right now so this one was delicious, but it was extremely sweet. I’d eat it again, but I don’t expect this variety to become a staple. I’m still not great at CUTTING mango, but I will hopefully get better with time. The pit in the middle is huge, although less so with this variety, and you have to cut the cheeks off lengthwise on the sides first. These mangoes are actually called the Ataúlfo, but they’re also commonly called young, baby, yellow, honey, Adaulfo, Adolfo, or Champagne mangoes.

Friday I had a Barlett pear. I’m sure I’ve had this pear before when I was a kid. My Mom says I used to love pears as a baby and it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I turned on them. My issue was they were too much like apples that weren’t appley enough. My dad used to slice up pears like an apple and then tell us they were apples. Nice try Dad. We always knew though. This came to me from Argentina, but I don’t know why because pears grow really well in Washington and Oregon. I’m sure there is a money reason behind this.

Today I had a different variety of orange. I’m not sure if I’ve had this exact one before – it’s possible – but it was new to me as far as I can actually remember. This was a  Minneola tangelo and is a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. It tasted awesome. This was grown in the U.S. so probably Florida based on nothing but my weak knowledge that Florida is known for making oranges probably.

I’m excited to branch out a bit more this week. I’m going to the Japanese market today to see what kind of fruit they have and pick up something brand new! What fruit did you eat this week? What’s the most interested fruit you’ve eaten? Let me know.

March 2019 - Minimalist Home · Minimalist Home

Minimalist Home – Week Four – Every Day Minimalism

I can’t believe I surpassed by goal of 30 items so early in this challenge. I think once you start really looking at possessions and things you own that you hardly ever use, it becomes easier to let go.

I want to share some good tidbits from a book called Stuffocation I read this month. I think they might help with perspective if you’re looking to downsize as well. I’m going to summarize some of my favorite tidbits below.

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In 1922 Henry Ford said that he wanted a family to buy one of his cars and never have to buy another ever again. Things were built to LAST back then. You didn’t get new clothes every week, month or even ever year. A new item of clothing would come to you, if you were lucky, once a year. It was almost always bought or made to replace something as well, not to add to a collection of items. Now things are ubiquitous and cheap. In 1991 the average american bought 24 items of clothing a year, by 2007 we were buying 67 items every year. A new piece of clothing every 4-5 days. It was also in the 1920s that for the first time manufacturing and agricultural industries were producing more than they could sell. So we had a decision to make: Do we produce less? Or do we buy more? We could have gone an entirely different route. Let people work less, have more time off. A decade after making his famous statement, Ford started pushing out a new style of car every year – insisting to the public that THIS version was the one they wanted. Never mind that you just bought a car a few years ago and it still runs fine. I think we went with ‘buy more’.

Cheer up, Holly. This was the most fun job you ever had and you didn’t even know it at the time.

In the end it’s all about experiences and we should try to come back to that in our everyday lives. Go back to 2011. I don’t know why, I just picked a year. Tell me one thing you remember about 2011. Was it what you bought that year? Maybe it was if it was a house. But if you didn’t make a large life changing purchase I bet the one thing you remember is a trip you had that year, or time spent during a long weekend with friends. I doubt you remember a pair of shoes you just had to have at the time, a pair you bought, a pair you wore until halfway through 2012 when they fell apart or you got bored and you donated them. But maybe they were $200 shoes. Would you have rather spent that $200 taking your wife away for the weekend? Or surprising your husband with tickets to a show? I bet you’d remember that a lot better than a pair of shoes. If I look back at 2011 I remember seeing a band I really liked with a friend, graduating from my graduate program, going to Denver on a business trip with friends, working at a job I hated (but looking back I really loved it), going camping with friends, winning a contest to meet Katy Perry and going to VidCon. All experiences. I bought a lot of clothes that year too. I remember constantly online shopping. I don’t remember a single thing I bought. I don’t own any of it anymore anyway.

The big takeaway from all this minimalism stuff I’ve bee working toward the last few months is this: Experiences > Things. So when I see a pair of shoes advertised to me online that I feel like i just HAVE to have, but they’re $90 look around and see what that money could be used for that’s more important. A show? A night out? A night away on the coast? A flight to Seattle for the weekend? Your savings account? I have eight pairs of shoes at the moment and they’re all in good enough condition and they all serve a purpose ad get worn. I don’t really need another pair right now and in ten years I won’t remember what clothes I bought this year anyway, I’ll remember what I did and that’s more important.

Here are a few more things I gave away this week:

Items: 52/30

I’ll be back early next week to intro you into April’s challenge. It’s a little different and I’m pretty excited about it!