Archive | Just me being me RSS feed for this section

More and More Pieces of Me

11 Feb

I wrote Pieces of Me way back in 2012, but in a way it feels like it was yesterday. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to click through and check it out — it’s a more thorough review of my moles vs. melanoma saga. Back then I had four different moles removed and had resigned myself to the fact that I’d be getting annual mole checks the rest of my life.

Well, since then I’ve been sticking with my annual mole checks, except now my yearly checks have increased to every 8 months. My dermatologist takes a look at each part of my body in what I call the ‘worlds most awkward striptease’ and any sketchy looking moles are either photographed for observation or I’m scheduled to come back and have them surgically removed. Two weeks after each surgery, I return to have my stitches removed and get my lab test results.

Each time, my moles are considered between moderate and severe on the pre-cancer meter. Each time I am relieved to not have melanoma.

At this point I’ve lost count. I think I’m up to having between 10 – 12 moles removed? At some point, you would think I’d run out of spots. Right?!

Anyways, my latest round of stitches have come out. And I’m healing again. The scars this time are pretty gnarly, but they’re better than skin cancer. And eventually they’ll fade just like the rest of them.

So, consider this your reminder to please, please, please book a yearly appointment with your dermatologist to have your moles looked at. And tell your loved ones. And tell your friends. Because you might end up saving someone’s life.

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

My 2020 Goals

16 Jan

As I mentioned before, I don’t do resolutions. Instead, I like to pick specific and attainable goals to focus on for the year. I’ve been letting the idea of my 2020 goals marinate for awhile and I think I’ve finally come up with this year’s list.

Rather than choosing a word, like “Balance” in 2017 and 2018 and “Thrive” in 2019, I’ve decided to pick a phrase: “Do something about it!” This year’s focus is on being my own problem solver, not procrastinating and pushing myself outside of my box when necessary.

When it comes to my specific goals, here’s what I’ve come up with for this year:

Goal #1: To Get out of my Rut

Specifically: Plan a fun weekend each month of the year.

It becomes so easy to just work-work-work every week and then chore-chore-chore each weekend. If I’m lucky, I snuggle up on the couch with a book or a television show for a bit, but still… I get stuck in a rut. My plan for 2020 is to plan (and look forward to) one weekend of fun each month. I’d like it to be a weekend *away* each month, but I’m not sure if that is sustainable for the whole year.

My initial list includes: a weekend at Kingsmill to celebrate my mom’s birthday, a snow tubing trip, a weekend at my bestie’s house, possibly traveling for a conference, a trip to Universal Studios, beach weekends, and more!

Goal #2: Take Care of Myself

Specifically: doctor’s appointments, annual screenings, dentist appointments, massages, pedicures, etc.

I’m 42 years old, which apparently comes with a bunch of health-related appointments. Just off the top of my mind:

  • Annual physical – once a year
  • Annual OBGYN check-up – once a year
  • Annual mole check at the dermatologist – once a year, sometimes every 9 months
  • Annual mammogram – once a year
  • Doctor’s appointment/labs to keep an eye on my cholesterol – every 6 months
  • Dentist cleaning/check-up appointments – every 6 months

I feel like I’m missing something? Anyways, there are also extra appointments… like next week I get to have two more moles cut off and tested. Then I get to go back two weeks later to have my stitches taken out. If I have to force myself to get poked and prodded, and sliced and diced… I feel like I need to get some annual goal points for it!

The other part of taking care of myself is self-care. This includes hair appointments (cut and color), massages, pedicures and doing my own fingernails. These little things make me feel happy and I often put them off way too long. So my goal for 2020 is to keep up with a more frequent massage and pedicure schedule because it makes me FEEL good.

Goal #3: Improve Healthful Habits.

Specifically: increase our automatic deposits into our retirement accounts, drink more water, incorporate more movement into my day, pack my lunch, exercise, and learn.

Let’s break these into little bite-size goals:

  • Increase our automatic deposits into our retirement accounts: I’ve already taken the first step by having a call with our finance guy to discuss our plans. Increasing the monthly amount for our existing account was easy, as a verbal instruction was all he needed. Now, it’s on to the paperwork for our second account. It’s sitting on my desk and I’m hoping to get everything together and turned in… soon.
  • Drink more water: Why is this one so hard for me? I can literally go days with just drinking coffee and the occasional sip of water with meals, but I KNOW I need to get more water into my system. I have a big cup at work, so my 2020 goal is to drink at least that cup full during the workday, every day of the week.
  • Incorporate more movement into my day: it is very easy for me to sit down at my desk and not get up again for hours. Sure, my iWatch reminds me when I’ve been sedentary for too long, but I’m pretty good at ignoring it. I’ve decided to give myself a goal of doing laps around the office. I initially set 10 laps as my goal, but so far I’ve only gotten up to 5 laps. I’ll keep trying though!
  • Pack my lunch: I spend less money and eat healthier when I pack my lunch, so my goal is to pack my lunch 3 – 4 days each week.
  • Exercise: In addition to just being more active throughout the day, I also want to get back into a gym routine. I’ve already signed up for a 10k in April, so I should probably do some sort of exercise before I run it.
  • Learn: I am a total nerd and I really do love learning. I’m planning to continue checking out lots of random books at the library, and I’d like to take some lessons throughout the year. Maybe do an iSky visit and a cooking class (perhaps one with Jack too!). I also bought myself a ukulele because I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a stringed instrument, so I’m slowly learning how to play!

How about you…do you set goals or resolutions for yourself for New Years?

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

Financial Goals: Tips I’ll be Following This Year

9 Jan

Did you know that almost 65% of American’s make New Year’s Resolutions? (source) Yup. And the top five categories for New Year’s Resolutions are: Health (39.2%), Self Improvement (31.64%), Money (29.81%), Love (16.51%), and Career (13.69%).

I’m still working on my 2020 goals, but one of them is absolutely going to be to improve my finances.

I came across a really interesting article in US News & World Report called “Make the 2020s Your Best Financial Decade” and pulled out some of my favorite tips for you (you can find the full article here):

Set Clear Financial Goals

The article suggests that you decide on a key goal or two for the next decade and then break the goal down into steps. For our family, one of my big financial goals is to save more for retirement (which is also one of their suggested goals). When Travis left his last job and started his own business, we rolled over his 401k but then didn’t add to it since we were waiting to see how the business was doing. For our joint retirement account, we have a small amount automatically come out of our checking account on a monthly basis.

Well, for 2020 we decided to bump it up! I already had a meeting with our financial planner and we decided to increase our monthly savings. We started an automatic payment into Travis’ retirement account and we also doubled our automatic payment into our joint retirement account. As for my retirement account, I qualify for a 401k at my new company in June and I will absolutely start adding money there as soon as I am able to. While unfortunately we are not able to top out our annual retirement savings accounts, by adding a little more when we can it will certainly help!

Minimize the Costs of Unimportant Items

The article states that you should try to minimize any expenses that don’t really matter to you and gives the example of buying the store-brand in household supplies. For us, I’ve noticed a huge change when we shop at Aldi rather than our other grocery store. Sure, there are some things that Aldi doesn’t carry, making it necessary to also do a Martin’s run, but for the majority of the items we can save big. I’m making it a goal for us to do the absolute majority of our grocery shopping at Aldi throughout the year.

Learn How to Cook at Home

Everyone knows that eating food you make at home is much less expensive than going out all the time. And we do eat dinner at home the majority of the time on weekdays, only going out on weekends. One thing that really helps me is getting our Home Chef subscription. We had been doing Home Chef about once a month to mix things up. It’s like a compromise between making our own food and going out to eat, because the menus are so diverse and its fun for me to try making new recipes. I’m going to start using Home Chef more in 2020.

Another area for improvement for me is to pack my lunches more often. My big temptation is going out for lunch since I work right in Baltimore and there are so many yummy food options near my office. One of my goals for 2020 is to pack my lunch 4x a week. If a lunch averages $10 – 15, this could take me from spending $50 – 75 per week to just $10 – 15 per week. Based on an average savings of $50 a week, that is an annual savings of $2,600!

Question Every Subscription

The article points out that you might not need a Netflix subscription if you already have Amazon prime. Or you may not need a gym membership if you typically exercise outside. While I won’t be getting rid of our Netflix, Amazon, or gym subscriptions, there are other annual payments that need a closer look.

I recently got rid of my FabFitFun quarterly subscription, and Jack’s Highlights High Five magazine because we realized we could easily cut them. I’m also considering whether I need my Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription, our Amazon Free Time subscription for Jack’s Kindle, or my magazine subscription to Magnolia magazine. By being more choosy with our subscriptions we currently have, it also helps me to decide if it’s really necessary to add additional subscriptions to our monthly bills.

Are you planning to make any small financial changes this year/decade?

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!

Goals Review: A Look Back at 2019

6 Jan

When it comes to annual resolutions, I just say no. Instead of lofty resolutions, I make goals. As in attainable things that make me feel good about myself.

For 2019, I broke my goals into a set of Health goals and a set of Happiness goals. Now that the year has come to a close, I’m holding myself accountable with a transparent review of how I did on each of them.

Health Goal #1: Go to the gym 9x a month and mix it up with new gym classes.

How did I do: Not great

I certainly did NOT go to the gym 9x a month each month of the year. However, in the spring I did a 6-week bootcamp where I worked out 3x a week and I surprisingly loved it. It was awfully expensive though and quite time consuming too. I started my new job in June and was waiting until I felt acclimated to add going to the gym back into my schedule… and that never actually happened. Oops.

Health Goal #2: Sign up and run 5k and 10k races that look fun. Extra credit for running with friends and family!

How did I do: Great

I ran two 10k’s this year, the Sole of the City 10k in April and the Wayfarers Annapolis 10k in June. Jack (and Travis) ran the kid’s fun run at the Frederick Running Festival in May. We also did a charity 5k walk as a family in October. As for 2020, I’m already signed up for the Sole of the City 10k in April and on the hunt for more kid’s runs.

Health Goal #3 and #4: My Soda Fast and Packing my Lunch

How did I do: There is a lot of room for improvement…

I was getting a little crazy with drinking soda for a bit, so I reduced my consumption to just the occasional soda as a treat. However, I fell off the wagon a bit when I started my new job because they have Coke available everywhere for us. I’m back to just enjoying it every so often again and trying to make myself drink more water instead.

When I made my packing my lunch goal, I was working from home 2 days a week and at an office the other 3 days. I wanted to pack lunch at least one day a week. Well, since June I’ve been working in an office 4-5 days a week and I certainly have room for improvement on this goal. There are SO MANY yummy places to eat within walking distance of my new office, so I’ve only been packing my lunch about one day a week (yes, I know that was my initial goal). This is definitely one that needs to carry over to 2020.

Happiness Goal #1: Travel More

How did I do: CRUSHED IT!

As a family we went to Great Wolf Lodge in February, Harrisonburg for my sister’s wedding in May, Philadelphia in August, and Ocean City a few times over the summer. Travis and I also had our super romantic trip to Kauai in May, which was absolutely amazing. On my own, I’ve done a few weekends at my besties house in Annapolis and a work trip to Atlantic City in September.

Happiness Goal #2: Have more dates with my husband

How did I do: Eh… lots of room for improvement

Well, we did have an entire week of dates in Hawaii in May… so I’m going to count that. Other than that week, we had one weekend overnight for my birthday in September. And I think that was about it. This is going on the list again for 2020.

Happiness Goal #3: Learn something new

How did I do: GREAT

I’ve picked up a ton of library books this year and have enjoyed reading in my new, improved sunroom and also on my daily metro rides. Jack and I also joined my family for a session of making pottery on the wheel and then glazing our finished piece. I did the bootcamp at my gym, which was totally outside of my comfort zone. I also visited the AR Workshop in Annapolis to make some fun painted/stenciled signs, an advent calendar, and even learned how to hand knit a chunky blanket. Which turned into me hand knitting MORE chunky blankets and a tree skirt!

Happiness Goal #4: Spend time with my friends.

How did I do: Pretty good

I wanted to be sure to make more friend dates, happy hours and sleepover party plans this year and did pretty well. I also got a small group together in September to go to a local wine festival for my birthday. I had ‘friend dates’ at the AR workshops and also put more one-on-one dinners on my calendar.

2019: Thrive

In addition to my health and happiness goals for the year, I also picked a *word* of the year. For two years in a row, I went with Balance. But for 2019 my word was Thrive. So many times I felt like I was just going through the motions to get everything done, but for 2019 I wanted to focus on THRIVING!

When I wrote and published my goals post I had no idea that my work life was about to blow up. Just a week or so later my awesome boss was gone and my whole department went through a reorganization. A job that I had planned to be at for a decade or more suddenly turned into something that made me miserable.

And you know what… I thrived.

I decided to use the reorganization as an opportunity and ended up finding a new job that was a much better fit. Once again, I love going to work each day and I enjoy the people I work with. Without that work explosion, I probably would have stayed there forever… but it was just the kick in the pants I needed to take my career in a different direction!

Next up is putting together my 2020 goals. I have some thoughts, but I’m letting them marinate a bit before typing something up.

Like what you see? Share me with your friends!