This weekend was a bit odd. On Friday night, I started having problems with light sensitivity. It got worse on Saturday. On Sunday morning, I woke up and couldn’t handle light at all. I spent most of the day in the dark with a nasty headache.
I ended up taking 24 hours away from technology. I was forced to spend time without my phone, computer, or Netflix. Even just a 24 hour break was a jolt, suddenly realizing the amount of time I spend on the internet. Most of my technology time is productive. My business is online. My language learning uses a phone app and Windows Media Player. My friends are online (especially with covid going on!).
Instead, I took a very long nap. I worked on my puzzle. I sat and thought. I read a huge portion of my current book. I wondered what else I could do without using technology. I could knit! Or quilt! I could cook something. I could break out those watercolor pencils and sketchbook my husband bought me.
This morning I eased back into technology use. My eyes are still sensitive today but nothing like yesterday. I attended an hour long Zoom Bible study. I met with my business coach for an hour (also over Zoom). I watched an episode of Stranger Things.
But I still spent a portion of my time without technology. I read more of my book. I sat and thought some more. I made more progress on my puzzle. I’m back on my computer tonight to write a blog post but I’ll be folding laundry before bed. Maybe I’ll dig through my closet and find a knitting project to work on tomorrow night.
Of course, I’ll have to log onto Ravelry to download a pattern. Even though I’m hoping to use technology less, to spend more time doing hands on projects, it’s hard to escape from it completely. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to. But it’s all about balance. A few hours spent online; other hours spent doing something away from a screen.
I am so glad it’s almost Sabbath! I am grateful that there is one day a week that I can relax from all of my hard work. I get caught up in the stresses of the week, always feeling like I’m not accomplishing enough. Yet what is the definition of “enough” and how do I determine if I’ve reached it? I keep reminding myself to slow down and live in the moment. That’s where these glimpses of beauty posts come from. They are my efforts at slowing down and noticing the beauty around me.
I’m not sure that ramen normally qualifies as beautiful! But this particular bowl was so pretty that I had to photograph it. I joked to my daughter that her ramen tonight was so colorful that it must be healthy. I made her a big bowl of sesame ramen with bell pepper, enoki mushrooms, king mushrooms, and bok choy.
The past few weeks have been so hot! Thursday was a breath of fresh air. The temperature dropped almost 20 degrees and we were blessed with a full day of rain. I woke up and immediately felt like I was coming back to life. I love rainy weather, the coolness of the air and the smell of the rain. I had perfect timing for Thursday’s walk. On the way back to my house, it started misting. Thirty minutes later, it was pouring.
The rain left traces of itself this morning. It’s now warm and dry but this morning was still just a touch wet. I love how this flower was holding on to a raindrop.
I have no idea what kind of berries these are but they are pretty! I’m pretty sure these are the same berries that were woven into the Christmas wreath I bought last year.
This beautiful flower lives on my front porch. I’ve been a bit negligent in my watering this summer but some of the flowers are hardy. This plant has been blooming often over the past few weeks and I just love the colors!
Is it autumn yet? My favorite season is autumn. Cooler temperatures. Rain. Golden leaves. My birthday! Pumpkins. Pumpkin spice everything! Mochas. Hoodies. Fireplace and s’mores. This morning I even smelled a neighbor’s fireplace! I cannot wait for autumn to arrive.
These are a few of the glimpses of beauty I found this week. What beauties did you notice as you were going about your day?
The temperatures in my area (Bellevue, WA) have been rising above what I’m used to. Eight years ago, I moved away from Arizona because I couldn’t handle the heat any longer. Imagine my surprise when we hit 90 degrees this week.
My motivation levels have been low ever since. My house doesn’t have AC and our windows are positioned perfectly to catch the late afternoon sun. The skylight window is the worst late in the day and we have no way of covering it. This is a rental and I can’t make any changes. In the afternoon, our house can get as warm as 88 degrees. I just want to melt in those temperatures.
My husband and I were discussing the heat on a walk last week. It’s been hard to get outside and walk because we have to wear a mask around other people and it’s so hot during the day. It doesn’t start cooling off until after seven pm and by then I’m winding down for the day. I tossed out the idea that maybe I need to do something completely different.
So, on Sunday night, I set out all of my workout clothes. I pushed my alarm up thirty minutes. Monday morning, I stumbled out of bed, climbed into my clothes, and immediately left the house. It took at least half of that walk to finally wake up. But once I did, I realized how nice it was outside!
The past three mornings have found me out walking first thing. It’s not my favorite morning activity as I’m a night owl, not a morning person. However, something needed to shift because I’ve been gaining weight and I’ve barely been able to convince myself to exercise.
I will admit that I’ve been enjoying these walks just a tiny bit. The air is fresh early in the morning. There’s less automobile traffic. There are less people on the sidewalks and I can actually remove my mask for parts of my walk when no one else is around.
I am hopeful that I will actually see more squirrels or even a raccoon one of these days. I’ve been surprised that the bunnies haven’t been out but maybe I need to get out even earlier to see them. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the few minutes of quiet before I jump into my day.
My husband made an interesting observation that turned this around for me. “You don’t think of exercise as productivity.” He was right. I’m always focused on increasing my productivity but exercise is never included in that category. Now it is! Now I’m finishing one productive task before I’ve even had breakfast.
Capturing a moment in time, reminding myself to be aware of the present.
Looking out my window, the sun is finally starting to set. The summer days are so long here in the Pacific Northwest.
I am thinking about how few photos I’ve taken recently. My focus has been on my editing business so I haven’t made any interesting meals or stopped to take pictures on my walks.
I am thankful that I didn’t have to go to the grocery store today. Shopping is even more stressful now that the virus is rampant. I’ll be visiting the Japanese market tomorrow to stock up on some necessities.
One of my favorite things – puzzles! This puzzle took me about three weeks to complete. The border was not fun at all but assembling the cats was a blast! This guy was my favorite because of the expression on his face.
I am creating not much at the moment. Summer is my slowest season for crafting. I knit once every two weeks and am making a lot of progress on my scarf. This particular scarf is not a favorite, neither the yarn nor the pattern. But it keeps my hands busy and uses up a tiny bit of my yarn stash. I am looking forward to autumn, when the temperatures drop a bit and I feel inspired to create handicrafts.
I am wearing the complete opposite of the last Daybook post I wrote – jeans and a t-shirt. I’m barefoot. It’s so much hotter than it was in May!
I am listening to a lot of J-pop music these days. It’s good listening practice for my language studies.
I am hoping that the evening cools off a bit. I’d like to go for a walk before bed.
I am learning how to create free content for my editing business. I am starting a Facebook group where I can give away free content in hopes of building trust and relationship with potential clients.
In my kitchen – I just recently learned how to make deviled eggs. This batch came out better than the last; I remembered the salt this time!
Shared Quote – “It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
A moment from my day. I had to take apart my puzzle. It takes so much longer to put them together than it does to take them apart.
Closing Notes – I am still trying to figure out how to balance life. Isn’t that a never ending challenge? These days I’ve been working hard on my business and letting my language studies suffer. I feel like I can do only thing well. I always have to remember to give myself credit for keeping the house relatively clean and my family fed. Everything else is a bonus at this point.
Today my husband and I are officially one step closer to financial freedom. We sent our very last snowball payment to my husband’s student loan lender. His student loan is now paid in full!
It’s taken us a long time to reach this point. My husband and I both brought a lot of debt to our marriage. Shortly after we first got married, we added up all of our debt – credit cards, student loans, a personal loan, and an auto loan. The total was shocking, almost 100k in debt. And we didn’t even own a home!
Debt payoff was slow at first. We decided to follow Dave Ramsey’s financial principles. First we saved up $1,000 for an emergency fund, guaranteeing the ability to stop charging money to our credit cards. It took a long time just to save this first thousand dollars. When you have hundreds of dollars a month in minimum payments, it’s difficult to come up with extra cash. But we plugged away, slowly but surely. We started paying off the lower balance credit cards. Then we were able to pay off our car.
Life, as expected, had the occasional financial setback. Some of them were unfortunate accidents and others were intentional choices. Our car broke down completely and it was cheaper to buy a new car than it was to pay for repairs. Against Dave Ramsey’s advice, we decided to finance a used car. I was so sick of getting stranded on the side of the freeway and I wanted the security of knowing that our car was unlikely to break down.
We also took a detour when we decided to adopt our daughter. The adoption process is crazy expensive! But bringing our daughter home was totally worth the financial detour.
Last year we began paying down debt in earnest again. We were able to eliminate almost all of our credit card debt, throwing every single extra cent at that debt. We were sick and tired of paying the bank every month and wanted freedom. Early this year we paid off the last credit card.
Then the coronavirus hit. We deviated from Dave Ramsey’s plan a second time when we decided to pay minimums on our student loans. Instead, we built up our six month emergency fund. My husband had just started his new job in November and we weren’t positive that the company would be avoiding layoffs. Rather than risk job loss and then financial disaster, we decided to boost our emergency fund from $1,000 to six full months’ of expenses.
We finished our full emergency fund last month. Then it was time to tackle the student loans! Two giant payments and that smaller student loan is toast. My husband is finally student loan debt free after 15 long years of monthly payments. It is going to be so nice to pocket that extra $148 each month!
First, though, we need to finish paying off my student loan and then our personal loan. We still have $11.5k left to go in debt payments but we are so close that I can taste the sweetness of complete financial freedom. When I wrote about finances earlier this year, I hoped that we would be debt free by my 40th birthday. I’ll be 38 this fall and I’m now hoping we’ll be out of debt by the end of the year.
My husband has worked so hard to advance in his career and reap the financial rewards of a higher paying job. Over the years, I’ve read tons of blogs, forum posts, and books about paying off debt and how to scrape pennies together to start that first snowball rolling. It took years to go from five extra dollars a paycheck to being able to make lump sum payments. Just a few more months and we’ll be completely free of debt.
The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender.
Proverbs 22:7, NKJV
If you want help figuring out how to make that first snowball payment… If you want to share your financial story… If you just need someone to listen… Leave me a comment! I’m always happy to help.
Two weeks ago I decided to intentionally search for glimpses of beauty during my week. I had so much fun with it and I was reminded to take joy in the small things, to find beauty in the tiny moments. This week I followed the same practice and I want to share my photos with you.
I’ve been growing strawberries for three years now, the first year with just two plants, then with three, and this year I have four strawberry plants growing in my patio garden. I have a limited amount of space but I love picking and eating sun-warmed strawberries. This is the biggest strawberry I’ve grown yet. It was a bit tart but oh so good!
Honestly, I’m a bit surprised that this Appleblossom Begonia has survived! When I ordered plants from my daughter’s school plant sale, I bit off way more than I could chew. This flower has outgrown its temporary pot but I haven’t had the energy to repot it yet. I’ll get it moved soon because the flower is gorgeous!
I love stationary! Pens, stickers, notebooks, post-it notes, markers. And I’ve now figured out a use for washi tape! My favorite Etsy shop is VVVStudio, a stationary shop in Taipei, Taiwan. She offers free shipping to anywhere in the world and has such cute stationary! These cat stickers arrived this week. When I looked up the link for her shop to include in this post, I found that she’d recently added bookmarks! Now I have another order on the way!
My lovely hubby ordered pizza this week when I was having a really rough afternoon. There’s something wonderful about being able to serve your family amazingly delicious food that you didn’t have to cook. The paneer pizza from Mo:Mo is now my favorite delivery pizza. I had no idea a pizza could be so tasty.
My daughter is a high school graduate!! She wrapped up school last week and the school hosted a senior recognition ceremony on Tuesday evening. Graduation was definitely a moment of joy for our entire family. I am so proud of her!
These are my glimpses of beauty for this week. What about you? Where did you find beauty and joy this week? I’d love to hear from you!
There are a lot of ugly things going on in the United States right now, several of them in my neighborhood. I struggle with anxiety on the best of days; reading and hearing about tragedy after tragedy has left me exhausted. This week I intentionally chose to look for tiny glimpses of beauty.
My daughter loves ramen. It’s her favorite food in the world. On Monday evening, I made her a bowl of ramen. I was in a traveling mood, wishing I could be just about anywhere but home, so I listened to J-Pop while making potato ramen imported from South Korea. It was a fun 20 minutes!
I found these flowers on an afternoon walk. The landscaping crews aren’t working as often now and nature is taking over. These flowers were growing in the middle of a bush, a splash of white where it shouldn’t have been. So I plucked them and brought them home to enjoy for a few days. They don’t really smell like anything but they are pretty.
I am the only person in my family who likes sweet potatoes so I almost never buy them. But I found a recipe for sweet potato brownies that I just had to try. I stood at the counter snacking on steaming sweet potatoes while mixing up the brownie batter. So, so yummy. I may have to buy these more often just for my benefit.
Green onions grown in my garden! I couldn’t believe that my green onions survived our PNW winter but they did. The green onions continue growing even though I keep going out there and clipping off stems to use in my cooking. This week, I needed the green onions for the egg salad shown below.
Would you believe I have never made egg salad sandwiches from scratch? Until two weeks ago, I didn’t even know how to boil eggs properly. I can make homemade jiaozi (Chinese dumplings), lasagna, even fresh mozzarella cheese. But I had no idea how to boil an egg. Now I do.
I use cute stickers in my journal just because I love stickers. I have this adorable pack of stickers from South Korea and will find a sticker or two that matches what I am writing about each morning. This morning I did a double take when I spotted this particular sticker, a bird questioning why he is sitting with two onigiri (rice balls). I love onigiri! This sticker made me chuckle.
This last photo is from this afternoon. I was going to make garlic toast with our lunch but I need the last slices of bread for french toast tomorrow. (My husband makes amazing french toast!). Thankfully, I had a box of cranberry orange muffin mix sitting in my cupboard. I love muffins and rarely make them. I’m not sure why; they are easy to make and they taste so good!
These are the glimpses of beauty I found this week as I tried to manage my exhaustion and anxiety. Looking for these small moments really helped me to stay in the present instead of worrying about the future. What glimpses of beauty did you see this week? I’d love to hear!
I love the first day of the month. It’s a fresh slate, an opportunity to come up with new goals and a new outlook. Last month is gone; June is a new month with “no mistakes in it yet.” Thank you Anne Shirley for that encouraging thought!
I attend a Zoom Bible study every Monday morning. We have been studying the book of Galatians. I find Paul’s writings a bit challenging to understand but we are muddling through.
Several years ago, I was gifted the book Thrive by Mark Hall (the lead singer of Casting Crowns). It sat on my shelf for quite awhile, as most of my books do, until I finally picked it up and started reading it. I think my timing was perfect. I keep getting struck by various passages and the message is speaking to me. If I had tried to read this six months ago, I don’t think I would have gotten anything out of it. I’m currently reading chapter six, where Mark talks about the book of Ephesians and how God has done everything for us. It actually fits in well with our study of Galatians.
I am still making my way through The Hobbit. It’s such a fun book! Thorin was just captured by the wood elves as the rest of the group struggles to find their way out of Mirkwood.
We are Mother Abraham is prompting very mixed thoughts. I’m about two-thirds of the way finished with the book and plan on waiting until I finish reading before sharing my thoughts.
Last but not least, I am making very slow progress through Dragonlance Chronicles. I think part of my challenge is that the book itself is huge! It’s a compilation of the first three books and includes annotation by the authors. I am reluctant to read books on my e-reader but I may have to bite the bullet and borrow this one from the library in digital form. Then the book will be easier to carry around and maybe I’ll make some serious progress. I promised my husband that I would read and discuss this book with him!
Looking over my reading stack for the month, I am noticing a slight problem. There are no “escape” books. Last month I finished the last Agatha Christie novel from my bookshelf. I don’t have any light reading available at the moment. I will have to borrow an e-book from my library.
Please leave me a comment if you have a suggestion of an “escape” book. I look forward to hearing your recommendations!
I am learning! I feel grateful that I am finally learning to roll with it, to try new things, and to keep trying new things until I find something that works for me.
Last week I posted that my mid-morning routine wasn’t working for me. My daughter needs a lot of help with schooling and I’m perfectly happy to help her. We just need to find a routine that works for both of us. Her presence is only required online for two hours each morning, four days a week. We were attempting to cram in assignments during the short breaks between classes or between classes and lunch. However, this was leaving us both feeling rushed and frazzled.
My daughter is “in class” from nine to eleven each morning. My husband often has conference calls in the mornings. Both of them have been working upstairs at the kitchen table. I was feeling like my attempts at a routine were being thwarted by everyone else’s schedule. I finally realized that instead of trying to fight their schedule, I should embrace it. On Monday, I decided to try something new.
Starting at nine every morning, I am moving myself to my bedroom. I haul my coffee and my laptop downstairs and set up in the corner. It’s relatively quiet down here, especially compared to the conference calls and schooling going on upstairs. My lovely noise cancelling headphones remove all distractions if I need absolute quiet.
This has been working really, really well! I worked in my new office from 9-11 four different mornings this week. My introverted self craves the quiet time. My need for productivity is satisfied because I have uninterrupted time to get things done. I’ve been following the mid-morning routine I shared earlier.
Best Decade Ever journaling Process personal email Process any business email Complete all Chinese flashcards Complete all Japanese flashcards Respond to language partners on HelloTalk
I have’t quite been able to fit in a formal language lesson but it might happen in time. I do believe that the flashcard review plus posting/chatting on HelloTalk is already helping.
I am excited to keep following this new routine. I see possibilities!
I’d love to hear from you. How do you keep your office hours?
My apologies to anyone who has left a comment in the past week. My husband is still trying to fix my blog on the back end because it’s not notifying me of new comments. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon. I do want to connect with anyone who is reading my blog so I apologize if I have not been able to respond to you yet.
Earlier this month I brainstormed routines that I felt were doable for this season of life. How does that quote go? Man plans and God laughs. I don’t believe God mocks us but I do suspect He chuckles occasionally and shakes His head at our naivete.
My daughter will graduate high school in four weeks. Last month, the school was still trying to figure out how online learning was going to move forward. At first, it seemed like they were taking the approach that as long as you make an effort, you’ll pass your classes and graduate. But over the past few weeks, teachers have been sending home more and more assignments. My daughter struggles with self-directed learning so I’ve pulled up a chair and started learning alongside her.
We have learned so much math in the past few weeks! We’ve also worked on a project researching Tesla and their efforts at globalization. We finished reading The Great Gatsby, answered questions, and wrote an essay. All of this takes two or three hours a day and uses most of my brain power. I feel that my brain is not very sharp because I haven’t been stretching it by learning new things. I study languages but it’s a small project, not something that takes up a significant amount of time. So I feel like my brain is a bit rusty!
My mid-morning routine was supposed to look like this:
Make a cup of tea Best Decade Ever journaling Process personal email Process any business email Complete all Chinese flashcards Complete all Japanese flashcards Respond to language partners on HelloTalk Japanese grammar lesson
Instead, it currently looks like this:
Process email Math English History Any other school related things (resume building, financial aid stuff) Make lunch
The rest of my time has been spent keeping my family alive and my house from falling apart. I’ve been spending a bit of time in my garden, trying to keep everything alive. I’ve made a few homemade meals but I’ve also made boxed macaroni and cheese because… well, life.
If there is any time left after all of this, I have a new computer game obsession. My husband was rather shocked that I have never played Civilization so he bought me the latest Civilization release with all of the extra content. I have lost several games and I’ve won several games. I had no idea a computer game could be so complex. If this game is anything like running a real government, no wonder politicians look so frazzled.
I’m not sure why this game is so addicting right now but I have a theory. Some areas of life feel out of control due to the coronavirus. I love to travel but I’m not allowed. I love to spend time at my local library but the libraries are closed. I love meeting with my friend at a coffee shop so we can knit and chat but we can’t do that right now. My life has gotten much smaller over the past three months and there’s no end in sight.
But here’s a game that lets me travel! I can build cities, add amenities, develop cultural attractions, and run a government. Civilization requires a ton of decision making and you have control of your entire civilization. When the real world won’t let you control a large portion of your life, a computer game gives you a semblance of control. In a way, playing Civilization is a coping skill for dealing with a rampant virus, a shut down community, and everyone being at home 24/7.
I would love to hear from you. How have you been doing with routines? Have you found that your routines are still serving you well or have you had to make changes?