Reflections on “Being Poor”

fall

Today, as my friend and I dawdled two blocks to the nearest grocery store, I caught myself saying something that I’ve probably said 20 times this month: I’m so poor. Getting paid in one lump sum at the start of the month has its challenges, and one of those is making sure you can budget like a boss. After two years at my job, I have yet to master this seemingly obvious task and, at the moment, money is tighter than normal.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Fiction is Great; Reality is Better

austenland

Last week, I rented the movie Austenland which, if you haven’t seen it, is a pretty whimsical-to-the-point-of-cheesy play off of Jane Austen’s prized works. Jane Hayes, Kerri Russel’s character, has the chance to fulfill her dream of living in an Austen-themed fantasy land. On the surface, this whole thing seems brilliant except that she spends all her time cultivating relationships in a fictional environment instead of the real world. Why? Because to dwell in reality means the pain and consequences that accompany it are also real. In her case, love was played out vicariously through imagined scenarios — like a live-action role playing game for the Jane Austen fanatics of the world.

Austenland references aside, there is something very human and natural in wanting to stay within the comfort of fiction. For those of us whose goals and dreams only reach as far as the limits of our imagination will let them, this concept is not at all foreign. We imagine how things could be, what we would say to a certain person, what we might do if a special opportunity arose. We weigh all the pros and cons, but often don’t move towards anything that might produce an actual result. As soon as the chance presents itself for us to turn those dreams into something concrete, we shut down. We spend so much time dwelling on the fantasy of an idea that we label it as nothing more than fiction, put it aside and never attempt to cross it over into warm-blooded reality. To fight for that dream requires a level of vulnerability that we’ve learned not to exhibit.

Continue reading

Traveling Doesn’t Make You A Better Person

181222_10101224280878368_203080766_n

Yes, you read that correctly. My fingers cringed a little as I pounded out that title on my keyboard because, for the last couple of years, I’ve believed quite the opposite was true.

Traveling exposes us to new cultures. Traveling forces us to leave the comfort of our own bubble and embrace the unknown. We are brought to our own attention on those 14-hour Transatlantic flights when ghosts of the past, present, and future rise up from the depths of our memory to test us. We are alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our fears — though we are surrounded by strangers and possibilities. We learn to rely on our instincts. We learn who we are when no one is around to remind us. We discover that people are people, regardless of longitude and latitude lines. So how can we help but evolve?

Continue reading

How to Travel Alone

230093_10100913140091998_1715159047_n

The grounds outside of Blarney Castle

Prior to my 25th birthday, I had never really experienced life on my own. Thanks to my tendency towards serial monogamy and a multitude of college friends, I always had someone to accompany me to late-night movies or dive-bar concerts. This was both a blessing and a curse. I didn’t know how to be comfortable with just myself. Even the thought of eating at a table-for-one in a restaurant was terrifying. My greatest fear being, while others become engrossed in deep conversation with the human beings sitting across from them, I’d twiddle my thumbs while staring at a plate of lukewarm fettuccine. Or worse yet, I’d become the subject of their conversations, as fellow restaurant patrons would surely take notice of my loner status and assume I was some anti-social android with lots of cats at home.

For someone who considers herself relatively independent, I’m amazed at how insecure I was at the thought of being tossed into a social situation solo. But as luck would have it, just as I graduated college and moved into real adulthood, I suddenly found myself very much on my own. My long-term boyfriend was no longer in the picture; my friends were all married and busy building lives of their own. In that moment, I knew I had to redefine myself and make the most of this blessing in disguise.

Continue reading

Beautiful People are Everywhere

1384001_10101486982292628_1782701379_n

In life, you are indefinitely making choices. You choose to get angry at that minivan that just cut you off in traffic. You choose to drink hot chocolate without whipped cream (how dare you). You choose to hold the door open for the mother pushing her stroller into Woodman’s on a Sunday morning. You choose to check endless forms of social media, or to read a book. Every second you’re alive, you are making a decision that will build upon other decisions and, ultimately, frame your life.

Right now, I am writing from my favorite coffee shop that’s being illuminated with natural light pouring in from the floor-to-ceiling windows. I’m half-listening to two families share memories about their favorite pets. Their children are laughing and giggling to one another, as they make paper airplanes with the napkins before them. It’s refreshing to see people so authentic with one another. Part of me would argue that this is rare – to see human beings talk, face-to-face, without checking their mobile devices or posting to Facebook, and the world isn’t imploding.

Continue reading

The Importance of Being Idle

There are many things I’ve inherited from my parents. My mother’s green eyes, her ability to spell, her feisty attitude. My dad’s height, his pride, his desire to understand the “why” of things. The family line runs deep in me, as it does for anyone really.

But then there are those traits that make one question whether or not the milk-man paid a non-business visit to the family establishment approximately 9-months before your birth.

In my case, this would be the gift of being able to savor idle pleasures. I call it a gift because that’s precisely what it is.  While I may not have talent in sports or art,  this skill enables me to enjoy the following: napping, sitting quietly, reading a book I have no intention of finishing, laying in the grass, going for walks without thinking about calories burned, watching sunsets, traveling without a plan, and essentially putting off all things that most say HAVE to be done right now.

(I have a keen understanding that the world will not implode if I leave those dishes in the sink until tomorrow morning, as crazy as that sounds.)

I did not get this from my dad. My dad does not sit still. The man looks and acts like the love-child of John Wayne and Harrison Ford. He has a gritty pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mindset from growing up as one of 17 to a poor, farming family. If there is something to be done, he does it and does it to the absolute best of his ability. If there is nothing to be done, he finds something to be done and does it to the absolute best of his ability. His work ethic is a rare thing of beauty and I admire and respect him for it.

10540_10101256440684858_178194072_n

In some ways, his take on life has woven itself into my own character. I don’t like to half-ass things. I take pride in my work, regardless of what that may be. And I hate wasting time. The distinct difference between he and I is that I don’t see being idle as a “waste”. I believe it is as necessary as remembering to exhale.

This weekend, I was able to give this gift to my dad.

Continue reading

Southwest Quinoa Bowl with Avocado

Like most people, I love food. My day would be absolutely ruined if I skipped a meal. When I hear about someone forgetting to eat lunch, I have to peel my jaw off the floor because I just don’t understand how that can happen.

-1

Now, I eat pretty healthy and am fairly good about making sure I keep things in moderation (despite the constant temptation to say “screw it” and live off of chocolate chip cookie dough and pineapple pizza for all eternity). One thing I have noticed is that, since beginning my job that keeps me in a desk for the majority of the day, my metabolism has taken quite the dive. This, combined with the fact that I’m not up to running the long distances yet, has made me feel pretty sluggish. So, I decided to give my diet an overhaul!

Starting this week, I’ll be focusing on eating cleaner and healthier, eliminating heavily processed foods, unnatural sugars and also trying to buy more organic.

Continue reading