Tag Archives: reading

How I Self-Care

In my line of work, people talk a lot about self-care to ensure that you do not forget to take care of yourself while being so wrapped up in taking care of others. Now that I have worked at my job for over a month, I have started to notice changes in my self-care routine. My nightly journal entries are often rushed. Sometimes there are long lazy lines my pen made as I started to doze off mid-sentence. If I exercise twice in one week, then it’s considered a good week. I eat unhealthy food late at night. My body struggles to recover from staying up all night for work. I find that I spend most of my days off inside, behind a computer screen. It has been weeks since I have done something for fun with friends. My job is going great, but my self-care is not. 

All of the self-improvement goals I thought were firmly implemented into my life have been thrown off balance by my new employment. There are a little more than three months until I turn 24 and, by then, I want to be on the right track in terms of my mental and physical health, my social life, and my rate of creative output. Hence, I think it is fitting that I update my goals to reflect my self-care goals. I want to be able to work full-time and also really focus on my own well-being.

The following are preliminary ideas I have for a quality self-care routine:

1. Pack healthy food to bring for work. With my current schedule, there are five meals I have to eat at work per week (one lunch, three dinners, and one breakfast). The breakfast is pretty easy to skip or to get away with just eating a piece of fruit, so it’s really those three dinners and one lunch about which I’m concerned.
a. Bring a healthy entree, but also bring healthy snacks in case there isn’t time for a full-            blown meal.
b. Make a salad from the salad bar and eat a vegetable side dish to satisfy your appetite               long enough before you get a break.
c. If the dessert looks like it’ll be really worth it, then eat a few bites or half of it.

2. Make plans with people for your days off. Find the people in your social network who may be free at any time during your free days and make a plan. See a movie. Get coffee. Get lunch. Go bowling. See a play. Something.
a. If no one is free, plan out your day doing something that is productive. Clean your                    room. Go to the bank. Go to the doctor. Complete a task that has been looming over                your head.
b. Additionally, make plans to do something that just makes you feel good. This can be              watching a TV show or lying outside or going for a bike ride. You name it. There are                  ways to be absolutely happy and content that are not dependent upon others.

3. Exercise as often as you can. Something I have discovered about myself is that I feel so good after a workout. It gives my whole day a brand new, shiny outlook. Based on my current schedule, my exercise schedule should be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before lunch, and then Saturday during my break at work.
a. Sign up for a fitness class on your day off or before 1:30 on weekdays to meet new                   people and peer pressure yourself into the workout.

4. Leave work at work. In other words, be completely present in work while at work, but leave it behind during my days off. Beyond a few sentences on how my day at work was, it should be out of my mind so I can relax.
a. Check work email once a day, but not before bed! This should reduce the frequency                of work-related dreams.

5. Use overnights for creative output. I’ve already started a few experimental writing projects during my two overnights so far. I would love to continue this, as the overnight is a time when I’m not supposed to be doing anything else. I can’t exercise or go outside. It’s the perfect time to sit behind a screen and write something!

6. Use those 66 hours well. Sometimes, it feels like I’m working ALL the time, but it’s not true. I did some quick math and discovered that I have 66 awake hours per week that I can use in whatever way I want!


Goal Updates #5

Welcome to Week Five! I thought I would make an update on how I have been doing in terms of my goals.

1. I reached my goal BMI of 20.0! Now, all I have to do is maintain it indefinitely. I also now wear size 2 pants, size 0 skirts, and size 0 dresses. This is absolute perfection for my body.

DSC047782. I found a pair of skinny jeans that make my butt look good! Well, at least decent. Jeans generally don’t look amazing on my pear-shaped body type, which is why I love dresses and skirts so much. Generally, jeans just accentuate the fact that I have short legs and they make my butt look blah. I do want to have a staple good pair of jeans, though because sometimes life just calls for jeans. Now I am happy to say that I have a pair! These dark wash skinny jeans were only $30 from American Eagle. They are size 2 short, which fit decently well, although you can see that the excess material bunches at my ankle because I’m pretty darn short. I just read that AE has petite options online, but I’m not one for purchasing clothes online that I haven’t tried in person first. In any case, these babies will do just fine paired with heels or boots!

3. I have been doing a fabulous job keeping a food/exercise journal. It’s pretty simple: I just write down exactly what I eat, include calories if I have time, and write every workout I do, too. Now that it’s more of a habit, it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal to maintain. I’m going to continue doing this until I am confident that I regularly eat healthily.


4. No job news, but I have continued to make daily efforts in securing one. I have sent thank you notes and emails, I have made follow-up phone calls, and I have applied to absolutely every job I could possibly find. I will never, ever give up!

5. I finished reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. I have been reading sporadically, but at least it’s progress. I just need to get a hold of a bunch of books I’ve been wanting to read, then I’ll be good to go.

What’s in My Purse?

This post is for fun (not that any of my others aren’t for fun, of course). I don’t have very many purses, but I do switch purses from time to time. Sometimes, when men see me with a big purse, they ask, “What on earth could you possibly have in there?” or “What are you lugging around with you? I’m sure that’s filled with stuff you don’t need.” For anyone who is curious about what you might find in a women’s purse, then fear not.  Without fail, you will always find the following in each of my purses:

IMG_9794A pen. Specifically, you will probably find my favorite pen, which is currently a purple Pilot G-2 Limited .7 mm pen. Take a look at that beauty. My boyfriend gave one to me as a gift and I was hooked (he has a bunch of them in different colors, too). I gave one to him for his 26th birthday, which was the first birthday we spent together. He likes to tease me about it because it sounds really lame that I gave a pen as a birthday gift. But really, this pen is that amazing! I have two (I picked up the other at a Longs Drugs in Honolulu): one for my journal and one for everything else during the day.

My wallet wristlet (and all its contents). I’m not sure if that’s the proper term, but it’s made by Vera Bradley and has space for all my ID card, credit cards, library card, Starbucks card, Bell card, and all those other cards I use. Sometimes (gasp) I even carry cash in there! It also has a spot for my cell phone, which is always tucked in there.

Chapstick. This one is pretty self explanatory. I have all different kinds of chapstick and I always have at least one to keep my lips looking healthy and shiny.

Lipstick. If I happened to have put on lipstick that day (which is maybe four days out of each week, on average), then I always put whatever lipstick I originally put on in my purse in case I need to re-apply. The funny thing is that I rarely actually reapply my lipstick anyway. I just like having the option if I felt so inclined.

A book. Whatever I happen to be reading at that moment will always find itself in my purse. As a result, I make sure that every purse I buy is big enough to accommodate the average-sized book. If I’m somehow not reading a book at the moment (the horror!), then I select one from my shelf and that book becomes the book I’m currently reading. I absolutely hate the idea of having downtime and not having a book to occupy me, which is why I always have one.

Water. Whether it’s in one of my reusable water bottles or a plastic water bottle (I know, I know; it’s bad for the environment and I need to stop buying 24 packs), I always bring water with me.

A healthy snack. I don’t like the feeling of being really hungry when I’m out and about. If it’s not a meal time and I’m hungry, then I take comfort in knowing that I’m not going to have to make a bad decision (both financial and health) on some peanut M&Ms or something.

Sunblock (summer) or lotion (winter). The sunblock is a newer addition to my purse, but I always have a high SPF sunblock with me in case I spend a lot of time outside and I can feel the sun on my face. Sometimes, I’ll put the sunblock on while I’m on the train to save time. My hands get EXTREMELY dry during the winter months, so I always carry a small container of lotion.

Hand sanitizer. This one is pretty self-explanatory. You never know when there isn’t soap in the bathroom you use (it happened to me yesterday) or when you might be forced into using a portapotty and there’s no hand sanitizer available. In an effort to be as healthy and clean as possible, I always carry a little Bath & Body Works hand sanitizer with me (they smell so good).

A notebook or journal. I’m not talking some big hefty five-subject notebook here. I’m talking about a simple 70-page college ruled notebook or the small notebook I bought at the Louvre in Paris. Sometimes, a thought comes to me and I don’t want it to get away from me, so I write it down. I write anything in my little journals from ways to answer questions on job applications to to-do lists to short poems to reflections on certain aspects of my life. I started carrying a notebook with me since the few times that I had to resort to writing my thoughts into the book I was currently reading (luckily, it wasn’t a library book).

Camera. I will not leave the house without a camera in my purse, whether it’s my Sony point and shoot or my dSLR camera with any of its lenses. I hate the idea of missing a photo opportunity, so I always make sure my purse is well-stocked with this essential electronic.

(Optional) Laptop. This is the only thing on this list that isn’t *always* in my purse, but I do always bring it with me when I plan on doing longer, more formal writing or working on job applications. My biggest purse is fashionable but still big enough to comfortably strap in a laptop.

What’s in your purse? Let me know if you make a post about this and I’ll stop by!

Feeling Fat at the Pool

meswimsuitI read a passage a story included in David Foster Wallace’s collection called Brief Interviews with Hideous Men that really spoke to me.  Here is the passage: “This woman above you should not wear a suit as tight as the suit she is wearing. She is as old as your mother, and as big. She is too big and too white. Her suit is full of her. The backs of her thighs are squeezed by the suit and look like cheese. Her legs have abrupt little squiggles of cold blue shattered vein under the white skin, as if something were broken, hurt, in her legs. Her legs look like they hurt to be squeezed, full of curled Arabic lines of cold broken blue. Her legs make you feel like your own legs hurt” (Wallace 9).

I know that I’m not fat by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t have varicose veins, but this boy’s description of the woman describes how I used to feel about myself while wearing a swimsuit. I can recall very distinctly, maybe 7-8 years ago, feeling like anyone who saw me in a swimsuit would cringe at my cellulite, blindingly white skin, and fine white stretch marks.

Regardless of how I actually look, eating healthy food and working out greatly diminishes this impression of myself. As a result, I thought I’d share the passage for anyone else who is motivated by such things. By the time I’m 24, I expect to feel carefree just as carefree as ever while wearing a swimsuit. 🙂

P.S. The picture above is me in Hawaii! It was the most recent swimsuit picture I could find, but I weighed eight pounds more then than I do now.

Goals of Week 4

I had a little bit of a rough week because I discovered how hard it is to do it all. For example, when I’m working on job applications with tunnel vision, then I have no qualms about just grabbing whatever food I see that doesn’t take time to prepare. I also don’t prioritize exercise the same when I’m busy either socializing or working on my professional career. Any tips on how to actually do it all would be much appreciated!

1. HAIRCUT. (Beauty) Yeah, my hair still remains a little frizzy, wavy, long, and riddled with split ends. I have a weird thing with my hair where I don’t like getting it cut. I guess I’m pretty change averse about anything that’s out of the box. I’ve also never gotten a different haircut (except when I grew out my bangs in elementary school) and I’ve never died my hair. Hopefully this week will be the week to tackle this baby.

2. Brush twice and floss every day. (Health) It’s weird that this goal isn’t easier to relieve from my list. I brush every night without fail and I always floss now. This is a big improvement because I used to floss like twice a month (ew). I’ll work harder on establishing a morning brushing routine this week!

3. Lift weights regularly. (Health) I’m not ready to let this one go yet. I did weights three times, but I still don’t feel like I’m working myself hard enough. I will say that my last weight lifting session (if you can call that when I’m lifting FOUR pounds) was more productive than ever because I realized how much harder it was when I only waited 10-15 seconds between sets.

4. Read Game of Thrones. (Hobbies) I haven’t touched this book this week, but I have been reading Interviews with Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace, a short story collection. I crossed off this goal because I think I need to re-define it into something more of a habit and less of a specific accomplishment. So…

4. Read every day. (Hobbies) I’m not talking about articles on yahoo! or Thought Catalog (no offense, TC). I’m talking about books, stories, and poems of literary significance.

5. Do not bite cuticles. (Bad Habits) This goal is officially my biggest fail of the week. The good news is that I have not bitten nine of my fingers’ cuticles in weeks. The bad news is that I have chewed the crap out of the skin next to my right finger nail. I mostly bite it because it’s sticking out, making it a big old ugly cycle.

6. Enter sweepstakes every day. (Novel Experiences) I’m not going to lie. This is, hands down, the most inane item on my list of goals. I know it’s stupid and silly and insignificant and a pretty bad use of my time. And yet… I entered to win several things last week, including tickets to Fiji, a Vitamix, an entry into the Chicago Half-Marathon, and an iPad Mini. All of these have been decided already and I didn’t win. I feel like I can’t take this off my list until I win, although if I really have made entering a habit, then maybe I should retire it. Let’s check in next week and decide!

7. Keep a food/exercise journal. (Health) I’m rocking this. I’m giving it one more week to make sure it’s a solid habit, then I can release it from my focus list. Sometimes I don’t have time to record the calories, but I definitely write down every single thing I put into my body, as well as all exercise.

8. Keep a positive things journal. (Personal) I’ve been going at this for ten days and I love it! For example, yesterday felt like a negative day because I lost my shirt on the stage at a school (long story). However, when I wrote in my positive things journal, I realized my day actually kicked ass (I volunteered at a south side school, received an incredible compliment from a volunteer, networked a TON at the volunteer event, bought five renowned hard cover books for $9 at a book sale, and explored a new neighborhood and new cuisine in the city with my friends).

9. Apply to every teaching job in the Chicago area you can find. (Professional) Now that I’ve gotten the hang of applying to jobs, it’s time to step it up. It’s getting to the point that schools are hardly putting up notices for jobs anymore. As a result, I need to make sure I apply to every single one I find.

10. Make inquiry calls about positions for which you applied. (Professional) This one is a little tough because there are a LOT of jobs I applied to weeks and even months ago. I have not had a single teaching interview or any feedback about positions being filled. Some employers specifically ask that you don’t call, but others don’t condemn it. I need to make inquiries to those schools that presumably allow phone calls.

11. Do not pick scabs or bite skin on lips. (Bad Habits) Okay, this is kind of like the cuticle one, so I figured I may as well focus on this bad habit, too. I’ve been doing decently the past few weeks without making a concerted effort, so hopefully I can knock this one off soon.

12. Establish a proper skincare routine. (Beauty) I’ve been winning with this in two ways since I started this: I always take off my makeup before bed and I wear sunblock almost every time I leave the house. I have not been winning at this in that I don’t really wash my face and I don’t use any skincare products (like moisturizer or exfoliating stuff).

Here are my accomplishment goals from the week!

1. When nail polish starts to chip, remove it and re-paint. (Beauty) I paint and re-paint my nails without dragging my feet now. I realize how incredibly easy it is to do, as long as I make a point to do it.

2. Early to bed, early to rise. (Health) I can’t believe I’m removing this from my list this early in the game, but this is really going well. Notice that in my “Health” goal tab, I specify that there is one exception to early to bed and early to rise: socializing. I broke my sleep schedule once this week and it’s because I went to my friend’s birthday party. I fell asleep at 4AM and then woke up at 6:45 AM to volunteer the next morning. You better believe I woke up at 10 AM this morning!

3. Write one-page journal entries. (Hobbies) You know what, I win. I’ve got this. My only exceptions to this are when I’ve stayed out late with friends and I do a quick quarter or half page. As long as I make up for it the next day or during the week, then I’m good to go.

4. Submit three job applications. (Professional) I applied to SEVEN jobs this week! Also in the professional realm of my goals, I did a two-day interview. Despite any lagging in the health department, I am proud of the solid job progress I made this week.

Have a fantastic week everyone! Be the best you. 🙂