I’m back! And here’s what I’ve been up to…

Why yes, it has been one year since my last blog post. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you know that I’m not the most consistent blogger in the world. I try to put out quality posts (says the girl who once wrote a post called “People with no friends make me sad” and another called “Chicken fried waste“) that truly reflect where I am in life, mentally/physically/spiritually/everythingually.

A lot has happened in the last year. To name a few: got a new job, started posting a ton of photos of food on my Instagram, moved into a new apartment (woo!), broke up with a significant other, went to 5 weddings, pulled off a sweet Furby costume for Halloween, started boxing, started riding my bike more often, made significant progress on my PhD (I’ll be done THIS year), got a new tattoo, tried to foster a kitten, traveled to a bunch of cities in Georgia, Rhode Island, Florida, New York, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Italy (like how I just threw that one in there?). It was also a personally challenging year because of family/life stuff that was way outside of my control, and probably too painful to discuss on a blog. But we’ve all been there, so I am sure you can imagine that this year had extreme highs that were often overshadowed by some serious lows.

So yeah, I’d say it was a very transformational year. After a couple of the big events (re: breakup, moving, new job, PhD), I thought about and even drafted new posts. But it felt less than genuine to share thoughts with the world when I could barely get one thought straight in my own mind. I’m certainly not 100% cured of the heartache or difficulty expressing myself. I’ve been using social media as a stand-in for the blog, something that would help me express myself without much risk. I’ve certainly shared bits and pieces of the last year of emotional rollercoaster riding, but I haven’t felt clear enough to get back to this space–the space where I can more fully examine my life and share stories about personal accomplishments/faults.

I won’t do a full synopsis of the last year, because you will certainly be bored out of your mind. But I’d love to share some highlights of some sustainable projects and updates!

Big Girl Apartment

I finally moved off campus! In a post from December, 2015 I wrote about everything I was looking for in a new place:

  • No roommates.
  • A dishwasher.
  • A place walking distance from downtown, campus, and most of my friends.
  • A small space.
  • Rent below $600 (not including utilities).
  • A safe place.
  • A little charm.

I am happy to say that I FOUND IT. I’m so in love with my new apartment. I live in a beautiful, charming historic neighborhood within walking distance of almost everything I need/want. I have a co-op grocery store around the corner, which has become my all-time favorite place to shop! I love my 18″ wide appliances (dishwasher & stove), which are adorable but also the perfect size for one person. I love my two mantles, which both used to be functioning fire places back in the 1800s when this house wasn’t divided into 6 apartments. It’s a studio, but I still feel like I have separate spaces. And it’s beyond charming. Since you wouldn’t believe it without seeing it, here are some photos of the sweet new place ❤

My sweet porch area, which has seen a lot of dissertation writing and a normal amount of wine drinking
My sweet porch area, which has seen a lot of dissertation writing and a normal amount of wine drinking
My bedroom/living room, where 100% of the sleeping occurs.
My bedroom/living room, where 100% of the sleeping occurs.
My kitchen table--another popular writing location
My kitchen table–another popular writing location
A sweet accent in my bathroom, which is decorated in all white and grey. It's very soothing and it might be my favorite part of my apartment.
A sweet accent in my bathroom, which is decorated in all white and grey. It’s very soothing and it might be my favorite part of my apartment.

Big Girl Budget

With a big girl job and a big girl apartment, comes a big girl budget. Moving was pricey. I had to buy a lot of new furniture so I didn’t have to sleep on an air mattress and line my clothing up on the floor forever. And with the new job, I needed at least a few new pieces in my wardrobe to make sure I looked presentable. Thousands of dollars later, I saw my bank account as a reminder of how much I’d really been indulging. I gave myself a little time to enjoy my new job, celebrate birthdays and weddings, and go on my wonderful trip to Italy. Then I made a plan to get back to budgeting. I’ve done some hardcore budget challenges in the past. It’s always a fun way to save more in a set amount of time, but it wouldn’t be realistic for me to stick to a really limiting budget all year long. I love traveling, buying gifts, and going to events with friends.

My first step to tackling my budget and attempting to rebuild my savings was to spend one month being conscious, but maintaining my spending habits. I didn’t change much–I ate out with friends, bought clothes when I wanted them, spent a bunch of money on Amazon. At the end of that month, I critically went through all my spending. My first reaction was, “Damn, girl.” It turns out that I’d spent $400 more than I’d earned that month. On top of that, I determined that I spent $450 on things I didn’t need. Talk about a wake up call!

None of the budgeting apps really work for me, but I know that Google Sheets do! I created my own sheet with budget categories and sections for me to fill in each purchase I make in a month. Just for fun, I also included the amount of money in my Checking and Savings accounts as well as how much money I was spending and saving that month. So now, every time I spend money I add it to this spreadsheet. Right now I have a very generous budget that allows me to do/eat/buy almost anything I want. The biggest change is that I’m going to be saving money if I follow the budget I set. And the more I practice with this generous budget, the more I hope to tighten up and decrease spending even more. My only goal right now is to SAVE, even if it’s just 5% of my paychecks. I’m really looking forward to sharing my savings tips, but I’ll start with one: stop buying things that don’t add some sort of value to your life. If I follow my own advice, maybe I’ll be a rich girl one day. Or not. We’ll see.

Big Girl (Literally) Diet

Yeah, so I’ve put on a little weight. I’m not exaggerating or understating–it’s just a fact. It happened slowly, as I skipped more workouts and ate more takeout food to avoid the “hassle” of cooking. Sometimes I’d skip a workout to do something that made me genuinely happy (hanging with friends, napping, writing) and sometimes it was just to be lazy and sit on my couch. Netflix and Hulu get some of the blame there, but I’ll take the rest of it. Eating takeout every once in a while isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially in my town where I can get delicious vegan food from places within a very short walk from my house. The problem was that sometimes the takeout was pizza, or burritos, or other cheesy (and delicious) treats.

I eventually spiraled into a not-so-great pattern of eating at restaurants for up to three meals a day. I’d grab a bagel on my walk to work, then a lettuce wrap with chips and a pickle for lunch, and then maybe butternut squash soup and a couple of empanadas for dinner. Not too healthy and not too cheap. I’d also feel so lethargic from greasy or filling food that I’d skip workouts quite often. It really wore on my physical and mental health, with one affecting the other in an endless cycle.

I didn’t wake up one day and change my routine 100%. I seem to be in need of slow transitions and easing in these days. I worked on a plan based off this amazing program my yoga studio encourages, The Big Medicine Hat. It’s essentially a genius point system that a person can use to reward herself for healthy habits. Some of these habits are related to physical health–exercise and proper nutrition. Some are related to mental or spiritual health–meditation, acts of kindness, developing cognitive skills. My favorite thing about this concept is that it’s entirely holistic. It makes me feel like I can use every part of my day to be a healthier and better person.

Moving Forward

You can look forward to upcoming posts about my efforts to reduce my waste at home, budget successes and challenges, and where I’m at with health and wellness. For now, my biggest focus is finishing my PhD. Tied for first place would be spending time with people I love. My friends and family become more important to me every day and I’m incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful support system. The other stuff–my job, my health, enjoying free time–is incredibly important too. And anything else is just trivial at this point. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s to let go a little bit, spend time doing what makes me happy, and check in with myself to practice a good amount of self care. Thanks for joining me on this journey. Feel free to drop a line in the comments section about your experiences with the topics I mentioned in this post, or anything else really!

 

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4 thoughts on “I’m back! And here’s what I’ve been up to…

  1. Nice to have you back, Jane 🙂
    Loved reading, as usual.
    Keep up all the awesome things you’re doing. Love looking at your Insta.
    <3,
    mull

  2. So proud of the courageous woman you are to express yourself in a blog! One of my highlights this year has been getting closer to my younger but sometimes wiser (and funnier) cousin! Love you 😘

  3. Congratulations on your new job and new apartment. Life can be hard. Certainly sounds like you’ve got this. Best wishes as you continue on your journey. Love from your cousins in NJ.
    Randi

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