Hardcore Mental Training

Tomorrow marks the last day of my first week at the new job. This past four days have been intense, to say the least. My brain is fried, but in the best way possible. It’s information overload, but when it comes to training, it’s the only way to be.

My only issue? I can’t master everything in my first week! It’s  uncomfortable not knowing things, and that discomfort was what kept me from pursuing new things in the past. I’ve been watching people who make this stuff look so easy, and then I get in front of the computer to try it and I can’t brain enough to remember minor html code. But I do know that mastery comes with time, and I just have to be patient. I’m optimistic that the day will come when I’ll make it look that easy. Like a boss.

Though I will never have such luxurious hair as this.
Though I will never have such luxurious hair as this.

Besides work, I’ve managed to get things done in the after hours as well. I’ve become a fan of little routines and a constant to-do list to help myself stay on track. The 20 minute timer on my UfYH app has been keeping me rolling. If I turn on the timer, my mental switch flips and tells me to work. So I work. It also helps that the fog of NaNoWriMo is over, so I feel mentally ready to take on other things. Go figure.

Other updates:

Walking – It’s coming along slowly but surely. I’ve walked to work the past two mornings but then drove in the afternoon. The walks are uncomfortable and I’m irritated by that, but I have to keep pushing. The plan is to walk to and from work at least once a day for the next week, then try to up it to walking with no driving. I’m also trying to get up every thirty minutes at work and I currently have a goal to go up the stairs at least four times a day (I’ll bump that up in a couple weeks as well).

My car – My car is a hot mess right now. It’s making weird noises and leaking out of places. Luckily it gets us from point A to B, but we won’t be making any major trips in it until it gets looked at. I have a feeling everything wrong with it is super minor and that the cold is just doing a number on it. Which is probably why I’m not overly stressed about it.

Hobbies – I’ve been doing some knitting and reading. I’m trying to do more reading so I can get caught up on all my NetGalley reviews before the end of the year, but the book I’m reading right now is slow. I’m taking a break from writing this month. Gaming will resume again next week (everything got sidetracked by November). Haven’t been in the mood to bake, but maybe with the holidays coming, that might be a thing. Everything else I ever do is taking a back burner right now until I feel like resuming. If you can call TV watching a hobby, J and I have been watching Season 16 of The Amazing Race, so that’s been fun.

Also, got the email today that I was approved for a new VoxBox from Influenster, so I’ll be doing some reviews shortly. All of the VoxBoxes have been good, but I’m particularly excited about this one.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

A.

 

Fiscal Responsibility and Planning

I hate money.

I mean, I love it, but I hate dealing with it. I’ve had a few successful go-rounds with budgeting and planning over the years, but I always fall off the wagon. Up until recently, I didn’t even track transactions in my checkbook (I had a tracking method, it just wasn’t that one). So when Jon started his new job and we upgraded to a fancier pants apartment, I figured I’d better start acting like an adult. 

Our new living situation (which commences in July) came at us with a few challenges, and it was those challenges that made me realize I needed to handle our finances better. The first thing I had to tell myself was that whatever budget I came up with wasn’t going to be perfect. I’ve tried to do perfectly detailed budgets in the past, then the first time I wavered, I scrapped the whole thing entirely. Much like dieting, a strict budget is not for me.

I mapped out two months of a tentative budget, tentative because even though I know what our current bills are, I had to do some estimating as to our post-tax and post-loan income. However, instead of focusing on the money itself and all the of the little costs, I instead made a plan of how I was going to organize the money in a way that worked for us. 

First, I set up a couple new savings accounts. I use a credit union because historically, I’ve had way better experiences with CUs than banks, and my CU is great. I can do everything online, and as long as you start with $25 for each one, you can open extra share accounts. We already had one for travel, so I opened two more: one for housing and one for our car. These are going to be our two biggest payments, so the plan is to take a set amount out of each check, move it to each account, then use that money to pay those bills on their due date.

I’m sure other people have been doing this all along. Not us. I’ve been a member of the “take it all out of this paycheck” club for as long as I can remember, but we’re no longer going to be able to do that for various reasons. 

I also made a plan to start grinding down our credit card debt, which includes putting extra into regular savings and taking a big chunk out of those bills when we’ve accrued a set amount. Once those are done, we plan to apply the principle to some of Jon’s smaller student loans, a 401k loan, and eventually the car.  Besides that, we’re going back to eating at home more and packing lunches, which means going back to grocery lists and meal plans. We’ve done this sporadically over the years, but we always get caught in those fast food and delivery loops that suck money out a bank account super quick. 

In fact, since I’ve also started tracking all transactions in my checkbook again, I’m a little unsettled by just how quickly and easily we spend money. It’s so easy to do: a lazy dinner out here, social time with friends there, and before you know it, we’ve burned through anything we had leftover after bills were paid. Besides all the planning, I’m also trying to avoid that as much as possible. 

A lot of this will be easier when we’re living back in MHK. One of the reasons we eat out so often is that if either of us has a social engagement in the evening, there’s no point in running all the way home to make dinner, then coming all the way back to town. We’d spend more in gas anyway. Even cheap options are expensive. We can make meal for both of us for about three dollars. Each fast food meal ranges from 8 to 15, depending on what we’re in the mood for. 

Not to mention the fact that it’s really easy to get burned out on fast food, and while there are healthy options to be had, it’s not usually recommended for peak performance.

I’m hoping I can stick with this. My grandfather was great with money and always wanted me to budget, but I was a brat and never wanted to put the time into it. However, I do remember some of the things he taught me, so I’m hoping to implement some of those in the future. This is going to be a work in progress, but I’m hoping it gets us where we want to be. If anyone has any other ideas, tips, or magic spells we can use, please send them my way!

A.

 

Work, Homework, and Working Out

After blogging fairly regularly for the last several months, it definitely felt weird to go a week without putting down a post. At the same time, most nights I was too brain tired to formulate a complete sentence by the time I got to the bloggy part of the night. I was using my words for book reviews I guess. Which I enjoyed doing, but I figured it was time to do an actual update.

Sadly, I’m a little hazy on singular events that happened over the past week. The weekend was fun. Jon went out of town, so I did some self pampering: walking, gym, art opening with wine, ears pierced, manicure, and quality time with friends. I introduced one crew to the movie Secretary and hung out with Forsh and Baby Forsh for some Bubble Guppy/social time.

Manicures are one of my favorite things that I don't get often enough.
Manicures are one of my favorite things that I don’t get often enough.

I missed Jon, but I definitely needed the pampering, and though I’d planned to do some work over the weekend to get caught up, I ended up giving my brain the rest it deserved.

Work has been pretty whoa. Remember when I mentioned I was transitioning to a new position? Well, the transition has happened, but the position itself has changed a bit, at least temporarily. I’m doing several different things, including coordinating some projects and diving into some marketing type stuff.

It’s a little overwhelming.

I’m hanging on and trying to focus and manage my time, and I think I’m doing okay for the most part. There are a few things I’m trying to get a handle on, but I think I just have to roll with it at this point. Some of it is fun. I never thought I’d enjoy doing html updates, nor did I think I’d be attempting to head up a social media campaign. But I’m doing both, along with a bunch of other things, and I’m pretty excited.

Outside of work, I’ve been finishing up a Coursera course and trying to maintain a regular schedule with finishing the lectures, quizzes, and assignments. Writing has taken a backseat to everything, as has editing, though I think I’ll be able to work on those things a little this week.

I’ve managed to hold on to an exercise routine, though I haven’t fully met my gym goals, nor have I taken the steps I initially wanted in training for a 5k. Still, I’m not going to beat myself up over it. As long as I’m staying active, I’m on the right track. Tonight we walked from our house to Subway and back. It was a pretty decent walk. There was a hill that kicked my butt, but I made it without too much trauma. As far as goals go, I’m keeping my current ones in my head, but in March, Jon and I are going to try to get back to doing some strength training.

I’m a little sore tonight, so I’m going to shower and lay down with a book for awhile. The plan for tomorrow is to be wide eyed enough to tackle some of the projects on my to-do list and put out some more fires. Fingers crossed.

A.

Changes on the Horizon

Mostly, today was an uneventful day. It was definitely a Monday. I did manage to make it to the gym (yay!) and the grocery store to get lunches and snacks for this coming week. I used breaks and part of lunch to move forward with my Nanowrimo story. I’m a little bit ahead so I should be able to relax later in the month. I’m ending my day with some blogging, oven pizza, and some Netflix.

Something really cool that I can share now (since it was announced at work today) is that I was offered a new position within my company.  The transition will be happening over the next several months, and there are a few details that still need to be worked out, but I will be taking a technical writer position in our communications department.

I’m so excited about this! I love to write, and though I’ve done it mostly has a hobby for many years, I love getting asked to help with writing or proofreading oriented projects.  Writing is one of my strengths, or at least I believe it is, and I think this new job is going to be perfect for me.  Don’t get me wrong…I like the people I work with, and I think I’m good at my current position. But this new position is so in line with things I’ve always wanted to do that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

There is a lot of changes going on in general at work, and it’ll definitely be a big change for me to move to a completely different department, but I’m looking forward to the process and the eventual new workload.

I kicked Monday’s butt…sort of. Now onward to Tuesday.

A.

 

Slots, Putts, and Kicks

I think the days of lazy weekends are officially diminishing.  In follow up to yesterday’s activity, we ended up going out and doing more stuff today.  I was wide awake at 7am but let Jon sleep in longer. Still, we were out of the house before 9.

The plan was to go to Topeka to buy shoes and maybe geocache, but I realized that we’d have some time to kill because the mall didn’t open until later, and I’d only seen a few caches on the list.  I remembered that yesterday we picked up a trackable that came with a message that it “wanted” to visit casinos, so I suggested we go out to Prairie Bend.

We decided to each spend 20 dollars, and I hit the quarter slots per the usual. My money disappeared in a hot minute.  When I was done, I went to find Jon. In the tradition of his lucky streak, his machine was going nuts. He hit for almost 400 bucks. We cashed out and ran, not even tempted to stay and return it. We decided to use the winnings for the day’s spendings, deciding that whatever was leftover would go into our travel account.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find any caches in that area, so we still have the trackable, but hopefully we’ll get that way again. I should clarify – there are caches that way, but our signal was bad and we hadn’t had the foresight to save any beforehand.  We did find a couple caches near the mall, and we pinpointed where a couple other ones were, but there were too many muggles. For our next trip to Topeka, we’ll go super early again to hit those ones up, then kill time at the zoo or something.  The ones we found were micros…no room for a trackable.

The stores in the mall hadn’t yet opened when we got there, but the mall itself was open so we walked around and got a snack. We split a cinnamon roll from Subway. It wasn’t great and probably not worth a recommendation, though maybe other Subways have better ones? I won’t recommend them from the Subway in the Topeka mall, at any rate.

When things finally did open up, we went and played a round of Lunar Golf (located on the second floor of the mall, if anyone is interested).  I won, which was my one victory for the day since Jon was the casino winner and spotted both caches.

2013-08-25 12.24.26

 

We only played one round (even though you can play up to three on one admission) before heading to the shoe store and picking up new walking shoes for both of us. I did some looking back in Instagram to pinpoint when I’d bought my last pair, and it had been about 18 weeks. To me, that felt like a really short time, but it was about average for walking shoes, I think, and I had put a lot of miles on those ones. I probably don’t need to justify how long I had them…they were starting to hurt my legs and feet because they’d worn down so much…but it’s kind of interesting to know how far they’ve come.

For my new shoes, I went with New Balance runners. They’re really light and comfy. I wore them to the gym today, which wasn’t a long time to break them in, but I’m not sure if they’re going to need a lot of breaking in.

2013-08-25 13.13.48

 

Jon was also able to find a good pair of walkers on clearance. They’re one of the minimal types, which works for him since he hates wearing anything on his feet other than flip flops…and if they’d let him walk barefoot everywhere, I’m pretty sure he’d ditch those too.  Unfortunately, the store didn’t carry any hiking type shoes, but I think we’ll be okay with what we have.

From there we headed to Red Lobster. I went with the maple glazed chicken and roasted veggies. Not sure why I went with the veggies…I hate veggies. But I was craving them, and they were okay when eaten with pilaf and chicken.

2013-08-25 14.05.11

We controlled ourselves and managed to not eat three baskets of cheddar biscuits…but it was tempting. It was a good meal and I didn’t overstuff, so that was good. The only iffy part was that RL has little booths, which I generally avoid for obvious reasons. But the working out and activity was beneficial because sitting in one was not bad at all.

Jon ended up taking some of his meal to go, so we stopped back at home to drop it off before heading to MHK to do laundry and go to the gym. The laundromat was busy, likely because the students are back for the fall semester, so our plans of playing Dungeon Roll while we waited for our clothes was thwarted.  To kill time, we went to Radina’s on the Hill and had drinks: lemonade for him, an iced cafe mocha for me.  I was in my own little world and didn’t notice my friend, V, sitting there reading until she noticed us on our way out. We chatted for a bit, but we had to go get our laundry and I have a phobia of leaving our clothes too long unattended (if you’re reading this, V, we’ll have to get together and catch up soon!).

Due to the fact that the evening was getting later, we ended up going to the gym while the clothes dried, back to get them when we were done, and then back to pick up some things at the store. Yeah, it was extra driving, but it didn’t seem like a huge deal considering all the driving we’ve done anyway this weekend.  Once we made it home, I played DI:R for about an hour, then put the clothes away, finishing in record time. Once this post is done, I’m going to have watermelon and some cherry juice for dinner and watch a little more of The Missing, then it’s shower and sleep.

Next weekend probably won’t be as active since it’s Fall Juice Fast 2013 weekend and we’re going to stay safely put in the house for the most part. However, there will be house cleaning and extraneous item purging and probably some gaming…all in the air conditioned back room if this heat keeps up. We’ll make the most of it though. We always do.

A.

 

Return to the Cube

As far as first days back to work go, today wasn’t bad at all. My team did an awesome job in keeping things caught up and done through the week, so I didn’t have any emergencies or fires to put out right away.  They also decided to do some interior decoration on my cubicle while I was gone to welcome me back.

2013-08-20 08.37.55 2013-08-20 17.04.15

 

They made me another sign with my initials and a bunch of words that may or may not describe me. Not only are they sweet, but I think I may have them fooled into thinking I’m a nice person.  Either way, it was a pretty cool way to return to work.

We made it to the gym after work where I started watching a movie called Mutants. I’m not entirely sure if I like it. It’s slow and gory. I can handle the gory, but I need something to engage me during a workout. I’ll finish it, but I hope it picks up soon.

Today marks a rare day of actual grocery shopping instead of procrastinating. We’re now set for meals and snacks for the next several days. The next shopping trip will involve buying stuff for Juice Fast 2013.

At home, I finished scheduling Gen Con posts and watched an episode of Clean House with Jon. At blog time, I still haven’t put away laundry, and I still need a shower. Overall, a pretty uneventful day, but I’m okay with some down time for a week or so.

Now to finish the night with laundry, shower, a frozen yogurt, and some sleep.

A.

 

Tapping Into My Professionalism

I’ve been on a strong kick lately of trying to better myself professionally. I don’t think of myself as a slacker, but I tend to be lazy when it comes to putting myself out there. Maybe it’s not laziness –  maybe it’s just the fear of failing. I know failure is important for development and growth, but it’s definitely not on my top list of comfortable feelings.
I also deal with a severe reluctance to grow up. I’ve gotten better with responsibility and money and all the things that come with adulthood, but to actually try to build myself as a career woman takes it to another level. I like being the person who works to support her yarn, gaming , and travel habits, the person who still doesn’t know who she wants  to be when she grows up.
While I don’t think I’ll ever be a “career woman,” I am seeing the upside to improving myself and gaining experience. Résumé building and working on my Linked in profile have become current goals. I find myself saving and reading professional articles and stepping up to take training opportunities and classes through my job. I even signed up for some courses through Coursera to gain more insight into how to do my current job better and to be prepared for future positions.
I suppose there’s always a chance that all this effort won’t be worth anything and that I may end up overlooked for positions or even out of a job at some point, considering the unsure nature of the economy. Generally, though, I’m a person who takes pride in my accomplishments, even if they go unnoticed. Everything I do and achieve shapes a little more of who I am.  This doesn’t mean I don’t get sad and jealous when I see other people getting praised for work I did (or work I could have done) while I sit silently in the background, but it does help that at the end of the day, I know I have the skills to do something awesome later.
I don’t know if I’ve found my ideal niche in the work world. While I want to be professional in the work I do, I’d still love to work in sweats all day from a coffee shop. Having said that, I’m not sure if I’d have the motivation to do that 40 hours a week. I’d like to think I would…but I’d have to do some serious self evaluation if that time came.
For now, the goal is to learn what I can, do what I can, and strive for the positives of being a worker bee.

Budgeting 102

Tuesday night, J. Felby Felb and I went to a budget seminar that our credit union was having. I went into it feeling okay about where we were as adults in the money world, but came out realizing that we still have a long way to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m much better now with money than I was even three years ago. We’re both tracking things better with an online spreadsheet, and we’re putting some money into savings.  We’ve been working on the credit thing, moreso on my end, and so I’ve been good about paying bills and communicating with the payees if something’s going to be late.

We both really like our gadgets and our travel though, and we don’t always make the right choice when it comes to saying “no” to something we want. On top of that, our default setting is “lazy.” Sure, we go to the gym and Jon walks to school and work, but when it comes to meals, we eat out way too much and rarely pack lunches.

Though I know all this stuff eats into extra money we could be saving, I don’t normally sweat it because I’m still fresh off the days when I couldn’t always make rent, and if rent is made and bills are paid, I’m feeling good. But this seminar was very much a reminder that even though times are good and we’re doing okay on a paycheck to paycheck basis, we’re not prepared for any sort of emergency.

I know with some work and commitment we could save more money.  We’ve actually been doing better with making meals at home, and we’ve been shopping more at Aldi because our grocery bill is way cheaper than when we shop elsewhere (though we go with Hy-Vee fruit because I love my fresh fruit).

I’m the one with the spending issues because I see shinies and I want them. That can come to a stop. We may also need to limit our travel, and I think I need to really do some research into whether or not I need to keep my AFLAC insurance and some other monthly amenities, like Gamefly and renter’s insurance*.

When we move to our new apartment we’ll be paying utilities for the first time in three years, so it’ll be shorter showers and lights out to keep costs to a minimum. Eating in and packing lunches will be more important**.  We’re also going to have to pack our breakfasts, because our gym memberships are things we want to keep (it’s the only way I’ll get any exercise).  I can see myself wanting to fall back on fast food and protein shakes more often than I should.

While I’ll try to find ways to save and I’ll put money into savings as regularly as I can, I’m not entirely sure I’m going to sit down with the pen and paper and work out a budget. I know myself and I know that sticking to something like that has never been my forte***.

Like other things in my life, I have to avoid the all or nothing mentality and stick to the small changes and moderation attitude. That doesn’t mean I can’t get ideas from other places, so if anyone has any cool money saving tips, please shoot them my way.

 

*It’s not a requirement in the new place, and I was going to drop it, but lately, all those “what if” thoughts have been nagging me.

**Seriously, packing a lunch isn’t that hard, but for some reason it feels like a huge thing to do.

***It’s why I had to give up on dieting and hardcore exercise routines. I get bored easy and then just give up.

PS: I realized after this was written that I may have sounded kind of entitled and douchey. That’s not my intent at all. I know that we have it easier than some and harder than others. My point was really that I should probably get my own personal adulthood in order.

You Have to Grow Up Sometimes

Today, I paid some old bills.

I generally pay my bills, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had past indiscretions where bills were left forgotten on the kitchen counter, and I sometimes have to hold off on the cell phone bill until the second payday, but in general, things are taken care of.  What tends to get ignored are those old bills that hang around and linger like shadow of death on my credit report (working on my future career in poetry…just go with it).

A little credit history: mine sucks. You know that time in your life when you don’t think about the future, and all you really care about is spending money and maxing a credit card out on a shopping weekend with your best friend? Maybe not all of you know what I’m talking about, but it happens, and it happened to me, and I will fully and freely admit that I was a doofus and have been paying for those little mistakes ever since.

The Felber Formerly Known as Felber went back to school this semester, and due to some loan issues he didn’t get his financial aid right away. So I swooped in with my 401k to save the day. Got the school paid and all that jazz. This week, financial aid was released, and instead of paying back my 401k, I decided to do the “borrow from Peter to pay Paul” scenario and take care of some of those old bills (the 401k is coming right out of my paycheck, so that’s going to get paid no matter what…unless I join the circus or something).

Tonight, I gathered up the stack of regular bills and the looming ones and went to town. After regular stuff, I paid off two outstanding bills that have been shadowing my credit report for a long time. I then went and actually pulled my credit report to see what else I had going on. Note that this was after pulling the house apart looking for a third bill I wanted to take care of and not being able to find it. So I thought, what the heck. I’ll just check stuff online. There, I found a couple more things I could pay off and two things to dispute.

There’s still some pretty big stuff out there that I’ll eventually have to handle, and I don’t expect my credit score to shoot up a zillion points because I paid off two bills. However, it feels so good to know that those are two companies who are no longer going to send me stuff or call me. I feel so grown up about the whole thing…kind of a rare thing for a person who tends to lean towards fun and instant gratification.

Now if I could just get off the computer to pack for a weekend in Wichita, I’d feel even more grown up.

A.

Breaking Up the Day

Today, I forced myself to take all my work breaks and a lunch.

You would think that taking a break would be easy. It’s time away from work, time away from the computer, and a chance to socialize with co-workers. In theory, I should be waiting for every single break I can get my hands on.

Not the case for me. I sometimes feel as if I’m just riding the line between healthy minded employee and workaholic. In fact, we’re just coming out of a huge overtime phase, and even though there’s still some that could be done, I’m making myself pull away and take a break to save my sanity. Because while the extra money in the check is nice, the stress that comes with it and the road to burnout have started taking their toll.

Going back to the break issue, my office gives me two fifteen minute breaks and a lunch hour in a 9 hour period. Over the summer, that lunch hour was only a half hour because I took advantage of the ability to leave earlier and enjoy the nice weather. Now that fall is setting in, I’m working a little later and getting a longer lunch period for errands, naps, whatever.

With the half hour lunch, it was just easier to work through it and rack up a little bit of OT or use it as comp time later. It was also hard to take my second break of the day because it fell in the last half hour of my day, a prime time for little work fires that needed to be put out before I left for the evening to hit my inbox.

Logistics aside, I also have a mental thing when it comes to breaks. I don’t always want to take them. When work is piling up and I’m falling behind, my first instinct is to skip the breaks and keep grinding away to accomplish more and get to my end goal. There have been times when I’ve forgotten about eating altogether, and while some might say I could do without a meal or two, going long periods of time without eating does bad things to my blood sugar and makes me homicidal.

Today was one of those “I shouldn’t take a break” days. I couldn’t catch up on work , and I barely had time to handle any email correspondence. I was so frustrated by the whole situation that at one point, I really thought it would be best to work through my lunch.  Then I realized that frustration tends to compound, and if I didn’t get out of there I’d only make it worse for myself.

So I took my breaks with a co-worker and chatted and breathed and let my eyes rest from staring at a computer screen all day. And I took my lunch. One glorious hour, sitting in my quiet car with the windows down, enjoying the mild weather we’re having this week and playing on my phone. The phone part probably wasn’t great on the eyes, but I was able to work on a list, check my Twitter feed, and just relax for a little while.

It was great. To think, I was going to work through that long moment of serenity.

As nice as it was, I don’t doubt that I’ll find myself falling into that thought process again. I need to make a forceful and conscious effort to take my breaks and clear my mind, because when I don’t, I get frustrated and angry and irritated…even more than my default settings of all three, at any rate.

Goal from here on out: take breaks, take lunch, don’t question it, and don’t feel guilty. Considering work time is intense work time and things do get done, I have nothing to feel guilty about.

A.