Getting ready for PEI

Next month I am traveling to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and I am so excited! My last getaway was in March, a two day women’s church retreat in Fall City, WA. For this trip, I’ll be gone for an entire week!

This week, I’ve been working on a to-do list specifically for my trip. This list is more of an “I hope I can get all this done” list rather than a list based in reality. But I’m still going to see what I can get done. Maybe I should just call it a wish list.

Wish list item #1 – a haircut

I tend to cut a lot of inches off my hair and then not get another haircut for years. I cut about 12 inches off around Valentine’s Day 2018 and have not gotten a haircut since. My hair is now almost down to my elbows and looks rather scraggly. I hope to take a lot of pictures on my trip and hope to actually be in some of those photos. I want to feel more confident in my photos and a haircut would go a long way toward that confidence.

Wish list item #2 – a new knitting project

Current knitting project

My current knitting project, a cowl, is almost complete! (Side note – the pattern designer is really nice and answered several of my questions about her pattern). I really hope to take a new knitting project on my trip, knowing full well that I may be overwhelmed by everything else going on and may not actually knit. On the other hand, I did knit in both Taiwan and China, so…

For my new knitting project, I am looking for a pattern that reminds me of autumn. We are headed to Canada at a time when the leaves should be changing colors and I want to knit something that reflects that season change. I’m not sure if I want to incorporate falling leaves in my pattern or just knit in fall colors. If you have a pattern suggestion, please let me know!

Wish list item #3 – a new book

I definitely need a new book to read while waiting for my flight and while relaxing in the evenings. My husband suggested that I take my e-reader but I want a book I can hold in my hands. I have no idea what specific book I’m looking for, but I have a few ideas. I’m hoping for a lighter read, but not complete brain candy. Good character development. Again, something that reminds me of autumn. A cozy book, heartfelt. I’m open to suggestions!

Wish list item #4 – assemble a trip itinerary

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

Neither myself or my best friend want to be locked into specific activities on specific days. However, we have already made Airbnb reservations in different towns along our route. Between now and our date of departure, I want to compile a list of places to see, things to do, and food to eat in each of the cities we’ll be visiting. Of course, my number one priority is going to be a list of coffee houses to try! This list will just give us options to choose from based on how we’re feeling that day. I think a list of options will be beneficial so we aren’t completely aimless, but both of us will be approaching the list as “suggestions” rather than “requirements.” If we spot something along the way, I want the freedom to say, “Hey, let’s go check that out!”

Reality

I am well aware that my current reality may not allow me to accomplish every item on this list. I don’t have a hair stylist and will have to find one. I may not own the right knitting needles for my project and will have to buy those in addition to yarn. Each item on this list requires multiple steps and the next month already looks quite busy.

In the next month, my daughter is starting her senior year in high school. Before school starts, we need to stock up on homework supplies, shop for school clothes, get a haircut for her, and visit her school for the “taking care of business” day.

I also have to get my daughter’s last name changed with the school system (we just completed her WA state readoption!), make an appointment for senior photos, and possibly visit the doctor for a sports clearance.

Our car is due for some transmission work. I’m currently in a back and forth discussion with the State of Arizona over previous tax years. Plus, I’m trying to get my editing business off the ground!

Life is busy. I will have to prioritize what gets done and then just do my best.

Getting to know me – day 2

Good morning!

Lesson number one when trying to write a blog series – always save your source material! In my last blog post, I linked to writing prompts but that blog is not currently accessible. I guess that means I’ll have to come up with my own “getting to know me” prompt!

Day 2 – List five places you want to visit.

Only five? I’ll list the first five that come to mind.

1 – Taipei, Taiwan. In 2015, my husband and I traveled to Taiwan to adopt our daughter. While there, we completely fell in love with the country. I plan to return to Taiwan and spend time exploring.

Taipei 101

2 – Tokyo, Japan. The very first language I tackled independently was Japanese. I have a soft spot for the country and hope to visit.

3 – Prince Edward Island, Canada. In September, I’m headed to PEI with my best friend. I can’t wait to see the island that inspired one of my all time favorite book series!

Childhood favorite!

4 – New York City. My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years and we’ve never taken a honeymoon. We plan to remedy that with a trip to NYC. I want to see Phantom of the Opera, visit The Met, and drink coffee from at least five local coffee shops. I’ve also read about an amazing place to eat macaroni and cheese.

5. Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I am hoping that Vancouver will be one of my first solo trips. I’ve discovered that Amtrak is an inexpensive way to travel from Seattle to Vancouver. Taking the train will allow me to explore Vancouver on foot and not have to worry about driving and figuring out where to park.

There we go. The first five travel destinations that came to mind. Where do you want to go?

Blog challenge – Getting to know me

Hello there!

I haven’t posted in so long that I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself again. I found a 30 day blog challenge with prompts that help readers get to know the person behind the blog. Sounds like fun! So here goes…

Day 1 – post a recent picture and 15 interesting facts about yourself

Hanging out at the Bellevue Botanical Garden
  1. I LOVE coffee. Depending on the season, my favorite drink is either a pumpkin latte or a peppermint mocha. Yum!
  2. I adore black cats.
  3. I love to travel.
  4. I am trying to start an editing business.
  5. I am hoping that my editing business will pay for loads of travel.
  6. My favorite colors are pink and purple. Can you tell?
  7. Chinese is hard, but I’m sticking with it! I’ve been learning Chinese for six years and hope to return to Taiwan soon.
  8. Books are my solace, especially character driven classics or memoirs.
  9. Dark chocolate is my friend.
  10. I’ve been happily married for the past 13 years. My husband is a saint!
  11. We have a 17 year old daughter, adopted from Taiwan.
  12. I’ve finished a novel for National Novel Writing Month that will never see the light of day.
  13. My favorite actors are Dwayne Johnson and Benedict Cumberbatch.
  14. I sing at the top of my lungs in the car but don’t like to sing in public.
  15. I am an introvert!

That’s a little about me! What about you? Will you share a couple interesting facts about yourself?

Open for business, but…

Last winter, I started my own business. I’ve always been the kind of person who yells, “hey! They misspelled this word!” when reading books. It drives me crazy! Often I will read a blog post or a book and wish that the author had hired me as an editor before the work was published.

So I thought, “why not start my own editing business?” I know I still have a ton to learn about the English language but I have a pretty good eye. I love editing and thought that it would be a good business idea.

In November, I applied for a business license. Since then, I’ve applied for a tax ID, built a website, started a LinkedIn profile, listened to an audio book on building a business, and have joined several Facebook groups for women entrepreneurs.

I am open for business, eager to get started, but… no official clients! I’m pretty sure I know what my biggest difficulty is. I have no niche. My business website is very generic. Pretty, but generic. I don’t feel that a potential client would look at my website and think that I am the perfect fit to help with their writing.

While talking briefly with a business coach, I was also reminded of a pithy piece of advice – write what you know. In my case, that would be “edit what you know.”

I don’t know what that looks like yet. What am I passionate about? I’ve been making a list.

Books
Homemaking
Cats
Language learning
TRAVEL

These are the things I get excited about, that truly make me come alive. Can I niche my editing business into one of these topics? I’m not sure yet! I hope to figure it out soon.

Rediscovering my passion

Overall, 2018 was a rough year for our family and we concentrated on surviving and then finding our new normal. Towards the end of 2018, I started to feel more like myself and very slowly started finding motivation to move from merely surviving to thriving. I wish I knew what jump-started this motivation, but I don’t. Even if I can’t pinpoint the cause, it’s time to start moving forward.

In December, I listened to a podcast about compound interest. Normally, compound interest is a phrase used when discussing personal finance. But in this podcast, the phrase was being used to describe any actions taken on a regular basis to work toward a desired result. For example, cleaning one’s house for a few minutes a day will create a compound effect toward having an overall cleaner home. Skipping dessert today and then again tomorrow will create a compound effect that will later result in a more healthy body.

As 2019 started, I decided that it was time to ease myself back into my Chinese studies. A thought often discussed on language forums is that you don’t want to look back to a year ago and think of how much closer you would be to fluency if only you had taken the time to study a few minutes each day. This is a fantastic example of compound interest. It takes a regular, ongoing effort to become fluent in a language.

At the beginning of the month, I started out only studying a couple of minutes a day. My only goal was to catch up on my flashcard backlog, which consisted of roughly 100 vocabulary words and phrases and another 500 hanzi characters. As I started studying, I found that I craved more. As odd as it sounds, I missed studying Chinese.

Then I dug up a travel channel on YouTube about a guy who toured Taiwan in order to enjoy the local cuisine. That led to browsing Pinterest and adding pins to my travel board for our 2020 trip to Taiwan. Then I found another travel blogger who is a polyglot, someone who learns multiple languages.

Now, just two weeks after making a decision to embrace that compound effect of studying, I am thirsting for more language studies. I had forgotten how much I love learning languages. Suddenly, it hit me – languages are my passion. Either I’ve never given myself permission to embrace language learning as a passion or I’ve forgotten how much I have always loved studying languages.

In high school, I spent a year learning Latin and two years learning Spanish. After getting married, thanks to the influence of my husband, I spent a few years learning Japanese. When we decided to adopt our daughter from Taiwan, I switched to learning Chinese. And I have loved my time spent with each of these languages!

I don’t know where my language efforts will lead me. All I can do is make a daily effort and keep reminding myself that it’s ok to be passionate about learning languages. It’s not selfish and it’s not useless. There must be a reason I love the challenge. For now, I’ll continue with Chinese. Eventually, I hope to revisit Japanese and maybe I’ll start a new language as well. There are so many options and I’m excited about all of the possibilities.

Just Clean It – Day 2

Yesterday was day 2 of the Just Clean it Challenge. Kendra challenged us to work on the living room. She emailed a huge list of cleaning tasks and said to pick five. Here are my five:

• Dusted the entertainment center
• Cleaned behind entertainment enter
• Vacuumed cat hair from inside living room heater vents
• Vacuumed couch
• Vacuumed underside of the couch

Cleaning the heater vents took the longest because I had to figure out how to remove the covers and then how to put them back on. There was a massive amount of cat hair in there! So gross and probably not very safe.


Before


After

It’s not a huge change but I’m happy. Everything has been dusted and straightened. Someday I hope to declutter our DVDs and video games but that’s a bigger effort and will have to wait.

#JustCleanIt

This week, I’m joining a five day cleaning challenge hosted by Kendra from Mother Like a Boss. I’ve attended one of Kendra’s free webinars and thought that she has some great advice. So why not join a quick cleaning challenge?

Kendra emailed a list of cleaning tasks and challenged everyone to choose five and spend five minutes on each task. It’s amazing how much I got done in just those 25 minutes. These are the five tasks I chose:

• Clean out expired and bad food from the fridge
• Wipe down refrigerator shelves (warm water and soap works just fine)
• Clean out junk drawer
• Sweep the kitchen floor
• Make a natural deodorizer with a cup of baking soda and 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oils. Put the baking soda in a small glass dish, add the oils and mix gently. Leave out to deodorize the kitchen and keep it smelling lovely. 2 minutes of your time well spent.

I feel like I’ve accomplished something today and I’m so proud of myself!

Happy Un-Birthday to Me!

Happy Un-Birthday to me!

Sabbath was super busy with non-birthday events. Our entire church volunteered at a local nonprofit for two hours in the morning. Then we had lunch and a wonderful social time at a friend’s house. Power nap in the afternoon. And then my daughter had her first Homecoming dance in the evening. There was no time to celebrate my birthday!

Instead, I made plans ahead of time to celebrate on Sunday. It was a day full of my favorite things!

Coffee at my favorite coffee shop

Three different kinds of cheesecake!

A favorite movie

First fire of autumn

Thai food from a new-to-us restaurant. The green curry was amazing!

Even though I celebrated a day late, I made sure to do many of my favorite things. It was totally worth the wait!

Birthday musings

Today was my 36th birthday. I don’t mind, really. When I talked to my mom this afternoon, she mentioned that I’m almost 40 years old. I’m not sure how I feel about 40 but I’m ok with 36!

I feel as if birthdays are a sort of reset, a chance for a new start with new resolutions and goal planning. I love New Years for that very reason. I know that every day can be a chance to make good decisions and work toward goals but there’s something special about defined dates to do so. First of the year. First of every month. My birthday.

I really don’t know what specific goals to choose for my birthday. My days are still so variable, struggling with depression at times, anxiety other times, and a seeming inability to allow myself to feel happy. I cannot predict my ability to be productive or embrace self care or even feel a smidge above just daily survival. Each day is different and it can change so quickly. I am slowly learning to quickly jump on any motivation, any drive toward feeling productive or doing something positive.

So in general… I would like to work on these goals.

Health – making healthy choices as much as possible. I have gained a lot of weight the past three years from stress eating, wrenching my knee last summer, and low motivation. I need to make good choices as much as possible as I go through my day. More water. More mindful food portions. Healthier meal selections. More exercise. I could make 15 goals from this one general idea but I really just want to be more mindful and do my best moment by moment. Right now, that’s all I can ask of myself.

Spiritually – I am really floundering here. I attend church every week. I pray over every meal. But I still feel distant from God. I tried joining a Bible reading group last month and only made it through Genesis. I struggle to read the Bible. I would like to read some memoirs of people’s spiritual journeys and see if I can learn from them.

Home – Here I actually have a very specific goal! I want to jump start my FlyLady routines again. I have a long standing habit of my morning and evening routines (hurray for wins!). I need to add in the weekly and monthly cleaning schedule so that I feel my house is presentable. A clean, uncluttered home really lowers my stress levels.

Emotional health – I have a specific goal here as well. My therapist has me working through a PTSD workbook. Right now I’m supposed to be writing a narrative of my life story. Assignment – Write your narrative. My response – Where do I start? These extremely general instructions left me floundering and I have made zero progress in the past month. A dear friend sent me a book for my birthday that guides you through writing your narrative! Now I have a specific place to start.

I’m also toying with the idea of getting involved in a (very) part-time volunteer position or starting my own business so that I can set my own hours. My therapist wonders if I have so much down time that I get stuck in cycles of negative thinking and thus contributing to my depression and anxiety. It’s quite possible that if I get involved in something for a few hours a week, I’ll find some purpose outside of my life and thus feel better.

All of these things together feel like massive changes and are rather overwhelming. But I remind myself that I don’t have to tackle all of them at the same time. Small changes here and there, embracing those moments when I feel like I can come up to breathe… those moments may make a big difference and help with my healing.

Happy birthday to me! I hope that when I revisit this post on my 37th birthday, I’ll find that life has improved, that I’ve been able to make some positive changes that will enable me to better find my place in the world and maybe even make a difference for someone else.

Small victory – dining room table

I conquered it! It only took three days but I was able to completely clean off our dining room table. I didn’t just move the piles elsewhere. I sorted, put things away in their permanent homes, scanned paperwork, paid bills, and basically processed every single item that had accumulated over the summer. I am so proud of myself.

Next up… this small corner where paperwork tends to multiply.

One small step at a time and I will conquer the chaos.