33: Core

I first began making and blogging about goals when I was turning 23, and I’ve kept it up, ten years later. As I reflected on the last ten years, I noticed a few things. Setting these goals every year really kept me motivated to strive towards something, which is exactly why I started doing them to begin with. Also, through the years, many of my goals remained consistently similar, because, even though I’ve grown and changed, my core values in life have remained the same.

A few years ago, I started choosing a word on my birthday. This year’s word is core. One definition defines it as “the central, innermost, or most essential part of anything.” I want to focus on nourishing and strengthening my core: my core values, who I am at my core, and my physical core (thank you, Pilates).

Exercise consistently.
One of my goals last year was to do yoga. While I didn’t get quite into it as I thought I might, I have come to appreciate it much more now, as opposed to before, where I hated it. It also was a great starting off point, and I did start exercising more consistently than I ever have before, and that’s something I’d like to keep up. Many thanks to my beloved Peloton, my best (and priciest) investment of 2020. Which perfectly leads into my next goal.

Budget and spend efficiently.
I have never been good at budgeting. I never know how much to allocate to each category, and I have been fortunate to be able to indulge in lots of retail therapy in 2020, despite being in a pandemic. And by lots, I mean far too much, so it’s time to dial things back. Misael sent me his budget template, which has been super helpful (thank you!). One way I’ll work on spending efficiently is to buy more second-hand and shop small when possible, since this will force me to pause on what I’m about to buy to ensure that it’s what I truly want. Another change I’d like to make that will help financially will be not spending as much money on take-out.

Cook more.
Aside from helping to limit my take-out consumption, I really want to start cooking more. Last year’s goal was to focus on more clean eating, which didn’t quite go as planned. I also wanted to make my own bread, which also didn’t happen because of the yeast shortage (thanks pandemic).

Practice guitar.
I’ve recently gotten into watching videos on YouTube (ha, that so makes me sound like I’m in my 30s). This goal has appeared on my lists of goals throughout the years, and I am still at the same skill level I was at ten years ago. Resurrecting this goal is two-fold, since I not only really do want to play guitar better, but it will also help me to practice something I’m not good at, which has been the main obstacle in my guitar playing. Now that I’m into YouTube, I can utilize that as a learning resource. I’ll also be making Josué help me (surprise! lol).

We all had high hopes for 2020, and probably even higher hopes for 2021. I think our nation is heading towards a better place, but who knows. I am hopeful for the year though, and I’m excited for all that 33 will bring. And I’m thankful for hindsight, because even when things are bad in the moment, we can look back and learn and grow.

Remote Life Tips

Hello blog land. Los Angeles (and a lot of the world) is kind of freaking out right now, and in turn, so am I. That being said, I am very much aware of my privilege right now–I have the resources to go to the grocery store and buy as little or as much as I want. I bought toilet paper two weeks ago before knowing that it would very soon become a hot commodity. And I have the luxury of working for a company that is currently stable and is fully distributed.

For those who are now being given the opportunity to work from home and are trying to make the most of it, here are some tips I thought I’d share that work pretty well for me.

  1. Designate a work space.
    Since I work remotely full-time, I made space for a desk in my room. Not everyone has the opportunity to do that, but even so, if you can designate a section of your dining room table as your workspace, that will help simulate going into an office.
  2. Stick to a morning routine to start the day.
    I am not a morning person. While I do occasionally succumb to the temptation of rolling straight out of bed into an early morning meeting, I’ve found that I’m so much more productive if I get up and get dressed, make coffee, and take a little time to myself before jumping straight into work. I even know of some people who go on morning walks to take place of the time they would have spent commuting. Which leads me to tip #3…
  3. Go for walks!
    I have a dog, so going on walks is almost a forced habit, but getting outside is one of the best ways to break up the day and help combat the feeling of being cooped up. And with today’s social-distancing in effect to help stop the spread of COVID-19, taking a walk around your neighborhood is still, fortunately, an OK thing to do.
  4. Take breaks.
    Along with walk breaks, remember to take regular breaks too. One of the toughest shifts for me with going from working in an office full-time to working from home full-time was fighting the idea that I’m expected to sit at my desk for eight hours straight. That just is not realistic, nor is it a reflection of productivity.   Treat your kitchen like a break room. Make yourself coffee and/or a snack. Schedule coffee or lunch dates with friends, or if being forced to quarantine, set up virtual hangs with tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Loom.
  5. End your work day.
    The biggest reason I advocate for designating a workspace (see tip #1) is so that you can also designate an end of the work day. Even if your work allows for a more flexible work schedule, I have found the value in still distinguishing my time between work and personal time. Since your work is now also in your home, it’s much more difficult to separate the two. Making a point to end your work day can help you maintain some work-life balance, even if life doesn’t look normal at all right now.

All that to say, the most important thing to do right now is to have grace. Have grace for yourself when you are not feeling as productive as you’d like to be, and have grace for those around you who are feeling the same. This is an unprecedented time right now, and it’s OK if we aren’t fully OK. Here’s a list of ways to help businesses that don’t have the luxury of working remotely and are being severely affected by this quarantine.

Stay safe, everyone!

32: Bloom

I am 32 today. I love being in my 30s. I’ve kind of been slacking on my goals the last couple of years. There has been so much change so far in this new decade that I’m in, and now I’m pushing the reset button to refocus on what I want to do and who I want to be. Which brings me to my word for 32.
Last year’s word was spirit. These past few weeks, I’ve been sitting with the word thrive. I realized that, while I’ve been enjoying many aspects of my life lately, I’ve been feeling as though I’ve merely been existing. Surviving, but not thriving, you might say. So I thought I’d make that my word. I recognized that it’s a little cheesy though, so I mentioned this to a friend, and he suggested the word flourish. While I liked that better, it still didn’t feel like my word.

Then, while reflecting back on the last few years, I remembered how before I moved to Orange County, I kept hearing the word rooted. And now that I’m in LA, I feel as though I’m well on my way to becoming fully rooted where I am. But that wasn’t my word either.

Rooted. Flourish. Thrive.

As I thought about these words and what they all mean, it came to me. Bloom. That was the word. Coincidentally one of the definitions for bloom is “to flourish or thrive.”

Thanksgiving

When a parent dies you’re left feeling a little off kilter. That’s one less person in the world who loves you unconditionally. You only have one parent now. It’s different for everyone, obviously, but that’s how I feel. Like the world around me is now off balance.
I was sick a few weeks ago, like classic Rachel-stop-being-dramatic sick, and therefore really missing my dad. I always felt most loved by my dad when I was sick or hurting.
I could feel his worry for me resonating off of him. You don’t ever want your parents to worry about you, but you can feel their love when they do. He’d hover at my door, quietly checking in on me, and if he did speak, it was always gently.
dad-rachel
This was Thanksgiving last year, and the last photo we ever took together. He was getting ready to leave, when we remembered that we hadn’t taken any photos all night, all of us knowing that it would likely be our last holiday all together. I had left my shoes upstairs. Stella lingered behind us.
Thanksgiving’s always been my favorite.

July

It’s July now. The year 2019 is halfway over. So weird. So much has happened these last six months.

I moved.los-angelesLA is starting to feel more like home to me, which is weird, and something I thought I’d never say.

My dad died.dad-rachelWe were prepared. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in August, and didn’t want to go through chemo. So we were ready. Though it’s still hard to believe it happened. This was the last photo we took together, over Thanksgiving last year. I’m finding that I’m more like him than I thought, now that he isn’t here. For better or for worse. Though maybe that’s what parenting’s all about. Try to be the best version of yourself that you can be, then have a kid and hope that they’re like you, but better. Though there will always be someone better than you. At least that’s what my dad used to always say.

I quit my job. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing, and the commute was getting to me.

I started a new job. And it’s great!

Josué and I celebrated a year together.
We made it. Here’s to more!

And to whatever else the rest of this year will bring.