Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To Move or Not To Move

We have been living in our current apartment for almost three years now (it will have been three years in about 3 weeks), and here is the sad truth:

I've kind of hated our apartment almost since day one.

At first, my twitterpated newlywed self could easily look past the many indiscretions and blemishes of the place, including the non-washing dishwasher, cat-scratched bathroom door, lingering pet dander smell, and urine-colored walls. With our small collection of artwork and family photos, we were determined to bring some cheer to what was clearly a pretty ghetto apartment.

And I have lots of wonderful memories in this little place, scraggly carpet and all.

Then more stuff started going awry---

-asbestos in the ceiling,
-the dishwasher breeding what sounds like an angry gorilla with a head cold,
-stained kitchen tiles (since the grout was never sealed),
-a non-working doorbell,
-flickering electricity that sometimes just cuts out for no apparent reason,

and on and on and on.

Now, if we were still getting the sweet deal we were originally getting on the place ($500/month with included heat and Internet), I would be here til the cows we never had came home.

But no---we are now footing nearly $150 extra on our monthly rent and utility bills since the new owner stopped paying for Internet and heat.

So it's basically come to this---stay in a ghetto apartment and pay nearly as much as we'd pay for a nicer one, or bite the bullet and pay an extra $40 or so and move to a more well-kept place?

On Sunday, after my entire plan to overhaul my life (see last Sunday's blog post), I was in the mood for some serious overhauling of everything, including my job, apartment, and general leisure time. And though I actually did try to apply for another job, it's not looking like it's going to pan out, so it looks like my focus will have to go elsewhere.

The problem is, I originally wanted to move to SAVE us money since I've been complaining like crazy about the extra $150 we've been paying. But on Monday, Matt and I went to go look at some super nice apartments just a couple streets down from ours, and we were a bit smitten with the fresh paint, clean carpet, and ample storage space. Writing everything down, it will figure that if we move there, we will pay around $30-50 more a month than what we pay here, but for a place that's twice as nice.

So here's the real question----to move or not to move? Or should we keep looking around to see if there's something cheaper (even if it means trading one ghetto apartment for another)?

What would you do?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Thoughts On Simplifying & Taking Back Control of my Life

If you've been a blog reader of mine for a long time, you might remember my post on minimalism last summer or even my whole 50 Weeks to Organized project I worked on all last year. Basically, the drive behind both of those was that I was feeling an intense desire to simplify my life and make sure I had all my priorities straight--I wanted to make sure I was focusing on people, not things, and on meaningful experiences, not time-wasting activities.

As with any worthwhile pursuit, these kinds of aims couldn't come overnight--while I've gotten much of my clutter (kinda) under control and cut out some of the unnecessary fluff, I haven't been able to shake the overwhelming feeling that my life isn't exactly going the way it could be and the way I want it to be. And it's not because the solid foundation isn't there---I've got all I need for a happy, fulfilled life.

The problem is me and the way I'm choosing to spend the 2-3 hours of free time I have each night.

Luckily, I know from past experience that the power to change all that is entirely within my reach.

I've been asking myself a lot of questions lately---things like:
-What makes me happy and brings me a sense of fulfillment?
-What brings me joy?
-What are the goals and dreams I have that are truly worth pursuing?
-What are the goals and dreams I'm willing to put forth the effort to achieve?
-What is holding me back from striving harder to reach those goals and dreams NOW?

Some of the answers haven't come easily, and some of them haven't been easy to face.

For example, one of my goals three years ago when I first discovered that bloggers could actually make money blogging was to make money off my blog---I read up on sponsorship and creating quality content and I even bought myself a nice camera and learned some photography tips along the way all in my quest to have the kind of blog that could grow into a money-making pursuit.And  I wouldn't trade those skills I gained along the way for anything.

But I've been thinking long and hard about what making money off a blog would really mean---namely (among others), an obligation to write nearly every day (whether I felt like writing or not), an obligation to my sponsors to sell their content or their product (even if in my heart of hearts, they didn't really have my full support and enthusiasm), and the constant nagging worry at the back of my mind about the numbers--how many new readers am I getting? How many readers did I lose, and what kind of posts drove them away? Which posts are getting the most hits?

And it's come down to this--

Blogging for money, at least the way I understand it now, is not something that I think will be worth pursuing for me or something that I'm willing to sacrifice more for. Since I'm trying my best to move towards less stuff and fewer time commitments, it would hardly make sense to try and get into an industry that would basically require a constant time commitment as well as a constant need to promote the materialism I'm trying so hard to avoid right now.

Even though it probably seems so silly, it's still a tough dream to let go of---after all, I've been working toward it for over three years and have invested countless hours to reach that particular goal.

So what does this mean for the blog?

Well, I will keep blogging because I get an innate satisfaction out of expressing myself, conversing with the blogging community, and finding creative ways of presenting my ideas. I also believe that regular blogging has helped to develop my level of comfort with writing, which is something I've been trying to work on since high school.

So in the end, this whole concept of simplification boils down to who I want to be and what I'll need to give up to get there---

-I want to be the kind of person who takes walks after dinner, perhaps with a camera in hand, to regularly enjoy the beauties of nature and reflect thoughtfully on her life.
-I want to be a woman who continues to develop her talents throughout her life instead of relying on all the frontloading she did on them as a teenager
-I want to be an adult who doesn't just consume (esp. mindless media), but who creates
-I want to be a go-getter who isn't afraid of going for her dreams (even when they scare her)
-I want to be a disciplined disciple of Christ who spends time daily in meaningful spiritual and soul-feeding pursuits
-I want to be a reader of classics and poetry and philosophy, not a reader fed on a junk food diet of pop culture, social media feeds, and the kinds of blogs that only leave her feeling like something is lacking

Each week, one of our friends (Jon) sends us a weekly email updating us on his and his family's life down in Texas. At the top of each of his emails, he'll include inspirational quotes that I always take great pleasure in reading. One quote in particular has truly haunted me ever since I read it, and it goes like this:

"If you have a twenty-hour-a-week television habit and would repent and convert it into a gospel-study habit, in one year you could read the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the entire Bible. In addition, you could read Jesus the Christ, The Articles of Faith, Gospel Principles, the basic priesthood manual, the basic women’s manual, the basic children’s manual, all three volumes of Doctrines of Salvation, The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Promised Messiah, and Essentials in Church History, and could then reread the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. This would still leave time to read the Ensign, the New Era, and the Friend each month and the Church News each week. This is based on your ability to read only ten pages an hour. The average person can read twenty pages or more an hour. If you are average, this leaves you with ten hours a week to govern yourself in other kingdom-building activities, such as keeping a personal journal, genealogy and temple work, improved home teaching, welfare services, civic and patriotic involvement to protect our freedom, and much more."
                                                                                                               - William R. Bradford

Although Matt and I actually don't get live t.v., we are constantly playing movies (usually in the background) and connecting ourselves to social media sites, playing mindless games on Facebook (Candy Crush, anyone?), and surfing the Net (and often doing all three at the same time).
I've known that I've been needing to change that soon, but I've kept putting it off over and over again, reasoning that those activities were "how I relaxed" from the stress of my job, even though they ultimately have never left me feeling as satisfied as more worthwhile pursuits, like keeping a tidy house, reading a good book, or serving others.
No more. 
We always encourage kids to have "TV-Free" week and are always hearing in the media about the "atrocious amount of time" that average teens spend consuming media every day. But what about the adults? What about the rest of us? Aren't our futures just as important? Perhaps people reason that if kids form good habits when they are young, they are less likely to fall into bad habits later.
This is true, to a point.
But I hardly watched t.v. as a teenager and spent my time overall in much more worthy pursuits. It's only been since I've become a full-fledged adult that I've managed to let myself get sucked into the time-wasting black hole of constant entertainment.
No more.
So folks, here's the final verdict:
*I am deleting my Candy Crush from my Facebook
*I am severely going to cut back on my blog/social media feed
*I am going to severely cut back on my movie/t.v. watching (I just haven't decided on a good number yet, but I will)
*I will only blog when it will be truly authentic, instead of blogging just because I feel like it's an obligation. Some weeks, that might mean I still post five times a week. Other weeks, I might only post once.

The time has come to live a different sort of life, to be a better sort of person.

I hope this helps do the trick.

If you still want to come along for what could be a very sporadic ride, I would love to still have you around :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 Things

1. My goal to lose 5 pounds before the half marathon is going splendidly---something I forgot with weight loss is that two things really help me out: one, if I track my calories via myfitnesspal, and two, if I am able to see results relatively quickly. My problem before was that I wasn't seeing enough progress through exercise alone to make me want to make any more drastic changes, which only led to me gaining weight. Once I saw two pounds come off in the first week of counting calories, I felt much more enthused about continuing with it. Who knows? Maybe come half-marathon time, I'll even be 7 or 8 pounds down. That's a possible 16 seconds faster per mile, people!

2. This week back at work after spring break has not been great. Surprisingly, it's actually not really due to the students like it usually is---in fact, I think I've pretty much reached the point where I can tolerate quite a bit before it tips me over the edge for the day (like I was able to tolerate--and even laugh about-- kids taking off their shoes and licking them or putting sticks into their mouths or stirring up a mutiny against me when I tried to make them learn to dance salsa in Spanish, all true things that have happened in the past 5 days). No, it's the drama that's been going round and round in the typical politics of the school, and somehow I found myself present for far too much of it.

3. I made the most delightful apple-and-carrots dish today that was simply divine---think softy and gooey with flavors of orange, nutmeg, and butter. Amazing. It was really all I felt like making after a long last workday of the week (and after donating plasma---which I can finally do again!---and going grocery shopping). It is basically because of that fatigue that I didn't do a Financial Friday post as planned today (sorry, folks! those recipes will be coming next week).

4. On Monday, I went into the Instacare to have my ear blown out again since the buildup had become so bad that I couldn't hear for about 3 days straight. I'm pretty frustrated by it, actually, because I never had any problems with my ears being too waxy until last year, and then the doctor told me I should never, ever use Q-tips (which I've been using regularly all my life). So I didn't use them at all and tried some of the other methods (like washing them out in the shower or putting in ear drops), but it only meant that I was back in the doctor's office 6 months later getting them blown out again. Basically I've decided that I'm just going to keep using the evil ol' Q-tip and see if the problem is fixed. Doctor's orders, schmoctor's orders. I'll do what I want.

(Although I'm curious---do you use Q-tips or do you go an alternative route?)

5. Around these parts, Matt has been sick all week and I haven't done the dishes at all in days. I hope the two aren't related.

Happy weekend, friends!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Utah National Parks: Golden Spike Monument

Since one of my bucket list items is to visit all the national parks in Utah (all 18 of them!) with Matt, I figured we'd best get a move on with the ones closest to us first.

I knew that the Golden Spike Monument was west of Brigham City, so I figured it was pretty close---maybe about a 35-minute drive from Logan.

Yeah right.

The monument is out in the middle of nowhere, and it was easily an hour and ten minutes from Logan, which made us a little more pressed for time than we would have liked to be. Both Matt and I had been to the monument when we were significantly younger, so we had forgotten a lot. (And when we had both gone before during the summer, the trains were outside on the tracks and provided a backdrop for a little live skit they put on; since we went at the close of the winter season, we got taken back into the workshop where they work on polishing up and repairing the trains, which was pretty cool.)

Facts you need to know:

-The Golden Spike Monument is the place where the final railroad tie was laid that connected the East and West coast by train. It was a monumental feat born from the sweat and lives of thousands of workers (many of them Chinese and Irish immigrants), and with the technology available at the time, the feat has been called the equivalent of man walking on the moon.

-Cost to get in: $5.00 per vehicle

-Things To Do:
*see the short skit re-enacting the historic event (May - October)
*watch the 20-minute historical documentary
*take a guided tour of the train repair workshop (November - April)
*check out the gift shop
*walk around the small museum featuring artifacts and interesting details about the time period
*watch the steam train demonstration (May - October)

Another thing you need to know:

If you look closely into the picture below, you'll see Matt and me reflected in the brass.


And that's about it, really---visiting the park was a fun little day trip, and the hour and a half we had before closing time was plenty of time to see all there was to be seen. If you visit during the summer, you'll want to plan your visit around when they do tours because the people who worked there and the tour guides were my favorite part.

What national parks have you been to in Utah? Which one should we visit next?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Success is Not Achieved in the Comfort Zone

Human pride is a funny thing, and it's something that's come to my attention a lot in my runs---

If while I am running, I see someone else running, I tend to speed up.

If I was about to walk during my run for whatever reason and I see someone---anyone---in the area around me (be it in car, on bike, or on foot), I will almost never slow down and actually walk.

Even if I feel like I'm about to puke in a race, if there is a single spectator (esp. a spectator who is cheering me on), I somehow manage to choke back the urge to vomit and push through it.

Lesson learned:

We are almost always the best versions of our physical selves if we work out where we will be seen.

As has come up here on the blog, I have been feeling a bit frustrated and burned out with running---I've been feeling that even though I've been more or less consistent with my running schedule for over 9 months, I have been regressing in many ways when it comes to speed and endurance. Call it a plateau, call it burnout, call it stress, but whatever you call it, I've been sucking it up big time out on the pavement.

In response to one of these blog confessions, my sister Jill messaged me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to join her for a run next time I was down in Bountiful. She reasoned that I probably just needed a change of pace, and since my sister is a WAYYYY faster runner than I am, it would be a change of pace indeed.

Take a step back for a moment and picture this---my comfortable running pace is a 10-minute mile. Sure, I can push myself to go faster, but a 10-minute mile is the pace I can sustain for very long periods of time.

My sister's comfortable pace is between an 8- and 8.5-minute mile, and she can also push herself to go faster if she wants to.

So when she asked me what I wanted to do when I showed up at her place for a run, I replied (with all honesty): "I'm just going to try and keep up with you and not get lost."

Being the motivated spitfire that she is, she decided that we were going to run like we were racing a 5K, and then we were going to slow up and just do 2-3 easy miles after. I tried to play it cool and act like I was going to be able to keep up with her at a race-5K pace like it was no big deal, but I was more than a little skeptical about how this run was going to go, especially when she confided that she likes to push her pace quite a bit at the very beginning and then "slow up" into her usual pace.

We started out running about a 7.5-minute mile, and by a quarter-mile in, I was already starting to lag behind, especially when her legs only seemed to gain momentum while mine were dragging me back like I had anchors attached. Her steps were light and easy, like a deer, and I felt like an asthmatic elephant crashing through the trail 200 meters behind her. Occasionally she'd turn around, do some high knees, and yell back, "Come on! Keep pushing! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!"

I'd respond with a groan that she couldn't hear and a feeble attempt at an even faster pace. Not even halfway through our 5K distance, I was feeling like I was going to throw up and split my gut open and disembowel my stomach muscles, simultaneously. I was panting so hard I could barely  hear my footsteps, and the beads of sweat had banded together to form a slick, shiny pool on my forehead. More times than I could count, I was tempted to stop and walk--as I'd been letting myself do so often these past few weeks--because I just didn't want to push anymore. And every time I thought for sure I was going to actually react on that impulse, Jill would turn around, yell some more encouragement, and tap her watch, calling out my pace.

I think that 5K with my sister was one of the first times in my life I've ever really left everything I had out on the asphalt--I didn't let myself stop, and I was either going to keep pushing or die trying. When she turned around and waved her arms and said, "This is the end! Just sprint until here!," I somehow managed to make my legs give one last burst of speed.

I finished our informal 5K in 26:05.

Let me put that feat into perspective for you---the fastest 5K I'd run previous to that was about 29:30, and I thought I was pushing myself during that one. The only other timed 5K I'd done, I got just over 30 minutes.

Two points to my story:

1. I'm apparently capable of a LOT more than I think I am, especially when it comes to running.
2. It REALLY helps to have a running buddy or coach or someone by your side who is at least keeping you accountable.

Since I'd never done any really competitive sports in high school, I've never really known what it was like to have a coach pushing me to my limits. Sure, I've had lots of good coaches that helped refine my softball and basketball skills, but since I wasn't in a very competitive league, I never really was pushed super hard.

Saturday morning felt like a revelation, and finally---finally!---my running goals of doing a 5K in less than 25 minutes and doing a half marathon in less than 2 hours seem possible.

And DANG--I needed that motivation.

Have you ever had a personal trainer or coach? Or are you able to push yourself to your best without one?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Financial Friday: 10 Tips for Spending Less on Groceries

I always thought that our spending habits when it came to groceries were pretty normal (maybe because I live in a poor college town full of poor college students), but based on some of the comments coming in lately asking how we manage to spend so little on groceries every month, I guess I'm a little more unusual than I thought.

Disclaimer: There really probably isn't anything new or exciting about these suggestions. These are just the ways that we personally manage to keep our grocery budget between $115-200 a month (for two people).

Second Disclaimer: we do eat out once a week for our date night (on Friday), so it's not like we're anti-spending-money. Just had to get that out there.

Disclaimers aside, it took me a few years to get this grocery bill thing under control--when Matt and I were first engaged and he was coming over to my apartment for pretty much every meal but breakfast, I went crazy on the grocery bill (mostly just because I wanted to impress him with my burgeoning cooking skills). I remember that for those first few months of engagement and marriage, I was easily spending $300-350 a month on groceries for the two of us. It wasn't until we'd been married about a year and were both jobless for about 4 months that I started to really crack down on our spending, especially when it came to groceries. During that time, I learned how to be "the crazy coupon lady" and learned to basically live on rice and beans. There were times during that summer that we only spent $75 a month on food.

Now our money isn't so very tight like it was during that unemployed summer, but the frugal habits have still managed to carry over (for the most part)---I don't really coupon like crazy anymore (I coupon hardly at all, in fact), and I've allowed myself about double of what I did during that lean time when we could only afford $75/month on groceries, but we still keep it pretty cheap apparently.

So here you go---my tips for keeping your grocery budget at a minimum with minimal effort:

10 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

1. Cut out the soda.

One of the first habits I got into when I started my teaching job was drinking Diet Dr. Pepper every day in order to "get through" the stress of it all. I justified the money spent on soda by saying that it kept me sane and happy. Last November, my doctor told me that it was likely the soda was part of the reason I had so many stomach problems, so I quit cold-turkey. Not only has my stomach felt better than it has in years, but I also managed to cut an easy $30-40 off our grocery bill. Win-win.

2. In fact, limit buying drinks period. 

While we will always have milk on hand, we rarely have any other drink in the house, including juice (although last month, we splurged a bit and got some). While we're not perfect at following this rule, I know from plenty of experience that if you train yourself to just drink water with your meals, you can save quite a bit of cash.

3. Cook 95% of your own meals.

Each month, we eat about 100 meals. Matt and I usually only eat 5 (or so) of those meals at restaurants or take-out places. By cooking our own meals most of the time, we are almost guaranteeing that we'll spend less money than had we gone out for that same meal (plus we're healthier for it).

Also, I've found that eating the same thing for breakfast every day is where we really cut costs--with our busy lifestyle, we just don't have time to sit down and eat breakfast in the morning, so I just make up a packet of instant oatmeal in a plastic cup and take it with me on my 35-minute commute to work. (Matt, by choice, usually skips breakfast.)

4. Go meatless as much as possible.

Meat prices are constantly on the rise, so choose to eat meatless as much as possible. We have several go-to meatless options that I can make anytime we don't have any kind of meat in the house (which perhaps I'll post on for a different Financial Friday). Most weeks, we eat about 3 days' worth of meatless meals.

5. Limit "snack" food (especially processed snack food)

I was trained not to be a snacker growing up---we always ate 3 solid meals that were generally plenty big enough to last us until the next one, and the only "snack" foods my mom had in the house were healthy (like fruit), which prevented me from becoming a big snacker. Those habits have carried over to my adult life, which means that you'll almost never find too many snack foods (esp. processed snack foods) around our place. In fact, the only super-processed foods we have on hand usually are tortilla chips and salt crackers.

6. Buy in bulk and stock up your pantry.

It is this tip that has probably made the biggest impact on our grocery spending. When I was in college and had 3-5 roommates at any given time, I had such limited cupboard and fridge space that I couldn't build up much in the way of a pantry. Since getting married and moving into our own little place, we have invested in a huge floor-to-ceiling heavy-duty shelf that can house hundreds of canned goods and other pantry items. We wait until case lot sales (like the one going on this week at Smith's!) to purchase these types of goods, and we only have to do it once or twice a year. During those months of case lot sales, my grocery bill will go up to probably $250 for the month, but it's worth it in order to have plenty in the pantry.

Also, it's important to actually plan meals around what's in the pantry. Many of my quick weeknight meals are based off of items that are always on our shelves, and many of my meals that have a longer prep time simply require me to buy a few fresh things at the beginning of the week from the grocery store. It is mainly because of this tip that our grocery bill is kept so low because we only need to purchase $30-40/week of fresh food to accompany what we already have on hand.

Last note on pantry stuff---if you can't afford all of it at once (we certainly couldn't), then just build it up gradually : spend $20-30 extra a month to go towards pantry staples, and soon you won't even have to add to it unless you run out of something.

7. Shop at the same place most weeks (especially a place that offers rewards).

When I was a hardcore couponer, I totally would have disagreed with this tip, but that's because I had the time and energy to go to several different stores to get the best deals. Now that I work 50+ hours a week, I don't have that luxury. Shopping at the same store means not only that I know where everything is, but I also know when something is a good price or not. Also, at a place like Smith's (which is where I do 99% of my grocery shopping), they send you coupons pretty much weekly in the mail that are tailored to recent purchases that you've made. They also offer digital coupons that you can load right onto your shopper's card that ring up automatically at checkout. As if that weren't enough, you also get 10 cents off of gasoline for every 100 points you rack up in the store.

So although I don't hardcore coupon anymore, I do clip out the pertinent coupons from what they've sent me in the mail, and I load up pretty much all the digital coupons they offer onto my card, which is basically the laziest way to coupon ever. (And bonus---Smith's "doubles up" on coupons, so if you have a paper coupon from the mail and a digital coupon for the same item, you get both values deducted from the price of the item).

The thing I like especially about Smith's is that in some of their coupons they send by mail, they'll give you coupons for free stuff (like free bread, eggs, cereal, or even frozen fruit), and they also will send you coupons on produce (like $1/off $4 worth of produce) or meat, which are hard to save money on when buying from grocery stores.

8. Base your meals on what's on sale.

This one can be hard sometimes (esp. since I'm not always super good at planning out meals in advance), but I will almost never buy something unless it's for a good price. Take the other week, for example---I really wanted asparagus, but when I went to the store, it wasn't on sale that week. Instead of spending $3.99/lb. for asparagus, I ended up buying some other vegetables that were on sale. Lo and behold, the next week the asparagus was on sale for 99 cents, and my craving for bargains AND asparagus was satisfied.

It pays to wait and be flexible, people.

9. Limit treats.

This tip is not only good for your health, it's good for your wallet---when I started looking a bit more into clean eating last year, I read a tip about only eating the sweets that you were willing to make yourself. While I'm not perfect about following that rule, I'd say that 90% of the sweets we eat are from recipes I've baked up in our kitchen, which has saved us a bunch of money (especially when we were able to not buy ice cream for about 4-5 months, a streak which ended last week, lol).

10. Don't waste food.

It wasn't until I started really watching how much we wasted that I realized how much money we were throwing away every month on spoiled, expired food. Before you go shopping, take some time to really go through your fridge and rotate things around so you can see what you really need. Before making any meal, don't just ask yourself what sounds good or what's easiest---go to your fridge and see what needs to be used up the quickest. I believe that it was this tip almost more than any other that allowed us to get our grocery bill down to less than $140 last month.

What tips do you have for saving money on groceries?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Teacher on Spring Break Seeking Adventure

You guys---I'm on spring break. I have actually been on spring break since Tuesday at exactly 3:06 PM.

Sadly, you wouldn't know it by looking at my daily activities though, which have been noteworthy only in the fact that I've gotten a little bit of extra sleep.

Recently, I have come to accept the fact that I no longer live a super exciting life filled with spontaneous adventures and lots of drama. I no longer yearn to "go out on the town" (aka, bowling or out to the movies or out to eat) with loads and loads of people on Friday and Saturday nights, and my life is no longer filled (thankfully) with the daily dose of drama that seems to come hand-in-hand along with the single life.

Usually I don't miss the excitement, as my job spurs me to seek as much quiet and tranquility as possible to rev me up for the next day of teaching.

But sometimes it's hard to think that my spring break--a time period that used to be synonymous with sun and adventure and staying up late--has now become synonymous with housework, grocery shopping, and running all the errands I've put off forever.


When exactly did I become an adult?!

I remember when I was younger (mid-teens, perhaps) and vowed--VOWED!--that I would never become one of "those adults" who thought a good time was staying in and watching reruns or doing yard work on Saturday mornings. I vowed to myself that I would constantly seek adventure and stimulation and novelty, and that I would do it surrounded by my 6 best friends who would always be as big a part of my daily life as they were back in junior high.

Funny how life changes your perspective.

But sometimes, I do still crave more excitement in my life although (paradoxically) I don't usually try to seek it out anymore. Perhaps it's because I still remember all too well that with "excitement" and "adventure" also comes other words like "risk" and "effort." And sometimes my creature-comforts-loving self just doesn't want to give up the tranquility that comes with routine.

I do need to get out and experience more though--I have been becoming increasingly more restless over the past few months, which will result in a huge change (like a move or a job change) unless I can get it under control by experiencing new things in other ways.

So this weekend, Matt and I are off to find ourselves some good old-fashioned excitement through exploring a new national park, seeing if we can meet up with some friends when we travel to our hometown, and trying out a new exercise routine with my sister (well, that last one will just be me).

Hopefully that will be enough to break the funk because otherwise, I just might be starting to scout around for new places to live...

Do you get restless in your routine? Do you ever miss the excitement of your younger years?
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