Exciting Things Happening

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here. We went on vacation the first week of April, and catching back up with work and other exciting things just made the rest of the month total chaos. I’ll start with telling you about our vacation:

Vacation started with Opening Day. We spent most of the day downtown enjoying the beautiful weather before watching the Cardinals beat the Cubs that night.¬†The next morning, we left for Pensacola, FL. We drove, and somewhere in Tennessee, my check engine light came on. I texted my cousin who does all the work on my cars and he said as long as the light wasn’t flashing, we were okay, but he said to stop by an Autozone to have them pull the code. We did, and fortunately, it was nothing to worry about (we stopped at a Chevy dealer to double check before we drove the rest of the way).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, as any good vacation should be. We ate at all our favorite restaurants and tried a few new places too. We got to go to the beach twice, and we got in the water, believe it or not! The water wasn’t as cold as I expected, but the windiness made getting out of the water freezing! I didn’t have any books to read with me at the beach because I was in between library loans (I had just returned one and was on several waiting lists for others, which, of course, weren’t available until we got back).

It ended up being a great vacation, albeit a little too short (driving really cuts down on the amount of time you get to spend relaxing!).

When we got back from vacation, things were more than a little hectic. We still hadn’t finished our taxes, mice were still nesting in our oven (that should probably be its own post), and my car needed an oil change, plus we needed to figure out exactly why the check engine light came on.

On top of all that, I got called in to interview for a job I had applied for. The interview went really well and they offered me the job the next day. After some negotiations, I accepted the job! I put in my two weeks’ with my freelancing jobs and I start my new job as a full-time copywriter tomorrow! ūüôā

All this craziness and stress had not helped my shoulder, though, and my¬†other shoulder started hurting too. I went back to the doctor but got no answers, which was really frustrating. Finally, I decided to try getting a massage to see if that would help. It was only my second massage ever, and it was my first deep tissue massage. It ended up being so much better than my first. It didn’t eliminate my shoulder pain right away, but by the next day, I felt so much looser and more relaxed in my shoulders, upper back, and neck. I may need to make deep tissue massages a regular addition to my self-care. I’m still having some slight tenderness¬†in my right shoulder, but it’s not nearly as bad as it was before.

I’ve been running a lot more lately to make up for all the yoga I’m not doing. Most of my runs have been with Copper, which makes them more challenging because she stops so suddenly! That stopping and starting really works the legs! My runs are slowly improving, though, so at least I’m seeing some progress. I’m probably going to start doing some light weightlifting again to start re-strengthening my arms. More than a month without any weightlifting has made me weak! I’m considering going back to yoga, too, and just avoiding/modifying poses that will cause my shoulder too much irritation. We’ll see how my first week at the new job goes!

I hope you’ve all been well!¬†I’m hoping to blog a little more frequently now that things are starting to calm down! ūüôā

-AB

 

Setbacks

I finally decided on Monday that I should maybe ask my yoga instructor what she thinks about my shoulder problem. Her response? Get it looked at asap. Bummer.

I attempted to see the doctor on Wednesday but, thanks to an insurance snafu, had to reschedule for today. My doctor said it could either be tendinitis in my rotator cuff or a slight tear in the tendon. Either way, I’m under strict orders to avoid weight-bearing exercises for two full weeks. So no yoga. ūüė¶

She also gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxer. If I don’t see any improvements within the first week, she said she wants me to take the anti-inflammatory for a full month. She said I’m too young to have to have shoulder surgery, but didn’t really say what the next steps would be if the rest and anti-inflammatories don’t help.

While I was there I asked her about a few other things. One thing was, thankfully, totally normal and nothing to worry about. The other could be some sort of deficiency, so we did some blood work. We’ll see what that turns up.

I guess since yoga is pretty much off-limits (at least a normal flow practice is anyway), I should get back into running this week. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out for a run (that whole lack of energy thing is mostly to blame, but also pure laziness). We’ll see what the weather does. St. Louis is expecting snow tomorrow.

If you have any exercise tips for me that don’t involve my shoulder, I’d appreciate it! Hope you guys have a great weekend!

-AB

Marching On

Despite being a short month, February felt incredibly long. While I managed to make some progress toward some of my goals for this year, I fell behind on others. I completely stopped my strength training and went from doing yoga every day to doing it just two days a week (if that). At some point at the end of January I messed up my shoulder and more than a month later, it still hurts. I’ve tried taking ibuprofen, icing it, stretching, and mobility exercises only to find temporary relief.

I’m giving it another week with some new exercises and more ibuprofen before I give up and go to the doctor. Because I need my shoulder working properly. I already have bad knees! I can’t have a bad shoulder too–I have big yoga goals this year…like doing hand-stands and whatnot. I need strong shoulders for that!

So on the exercise front, things are not going so well. I haven’t had a ton of energy lately. It seems to take me everything I’ve got just to get out of bed most mornings, despite getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night.

I did manage to make more of an effort to work on some personal writing projects in February. In the past month I’ve written and revised a new poem and wrote and article I’m hoping to submit to an online publication pretty soon. Re-dedicating myself to creative writing has really sparked my motivation. I’ve got some great ideas for some future projects that I can’t wait to work on.

I have pretty much completely cut out all the foods I’m allergic and/or sensitive to, including dairy, gluten, and eggs. I’ve been doing dairy-/gluten-free on and off for several years now, so that was never a huge deal to me. But throwing eggs in the mix has been a huge source of frustration. My options for eating out are so much more limited, and breakfast options are pretty much non-existent.

What’s even more frustrating is that even after cutting all this junk out of my diet, I still don’t feel great. I was hoping I’d have more energy, fewer breakouts, etc., but no. I seem to wake up every other day with a new pimple or zit, the eczema on my toes won’t go away, and I’m as tired as ever.

We’re looking into gym memberships so my hubby and I can start working out. Our thinking is that if we’re paying for it, we’re more likely to use it. And I’m hoping that if we go to the gym together, we can motivate each other and keep each of us accountable. I know once we get going, the energy and motivation will come back. It’s the getting started part that’s the hardest.

As far as my goals for budgeting/saving/paying off debt goes, we’ve made some progress! I paid off one credit card last month and put my entire paycheck from my second freelance gig toward another. It was a really good feeling. We’ve also been setting aside money in three separate savings accounts: Emergency, Vacation, and Car Repairs/Home Renovations.

We booked our next vacation, and we’ve been using money from the Home Renovation account to slowly but surely make some necessary upgrades in our house. Most recently, we installed a new toilet and vanity in our master bathroom, because what was in there looked¬†ancient. We have a long way to go with our house, but it’s a start. And we are more committed than ever to putting money into savings (or towards debt) when we have extra. We aren’t quite budgeting, but we have a system right now that seems to be working pretty well for us, so I’m not gonna mess with it.

In an effort to save money and save me the frustration of eating out multiple times a week (really hard when you can’t have gluten, dairy,¬†and eggs), we meal prepped together on Sunday. It went by so much more quickly with both of us doing it together and we have plenty of quick and easy (and healthy!) meals for the week now! We are going to make more of an effort to meal prep together so we aren’t eating out as often.

This month, I’m hoping to spend a little more time exercising (providing the shoulder pain goes away) and a lot more time reading and writing!

How are your 2017 goals coming along? Have you run into any obstacles? How are you dealing with them?

2017 Goals Check-In

I posted my 12 goals for 2017 about a month ago. Now that we’re a month into the new year, I figured I’d do a check-in to see how things are going. Some things I have really focused on while others I’ve made little to no progress with at all. I started the year off by doing yoga every day (31 Days of Yoga by Yoga with Adriene) which was incredible. I’m going to continue trying to practice yoga every day.

I can’t remember the last time I did any strength training exercises. I was feeling a little under the weather early in the month and thought lifting weights would just make me feel worse. Since I’ve been doing yoga–sometimes twice a day–I just haven’t gotten back into the weights. I’m hoping to get back to that this month. I also have not gone for a run in what seems like forever. I’m just not cut out for cold weather running, and the days it has been warmer, I haven’t felt up to getting out there.

We haven’t done any traveling yet, but we’ve got a nice vacation fund going. We’re hoping to take our first trip sometime this March or April. It’s kind of up in the air right now, but hopefully we get it planned soon.

Toward the end of the month, I finally got some inspiration to do a little writing. As a freelance copywriter, that’s all I do, all day every day. By the end of the day, it’s hard to find the energy or inspiration to do my own thing. But for the past week or so, I’ve been working on a little side project that I’m pretty excited about! Hopefully I can get it finished in another week or two.

I’m not quite sure if I’m on track for my “read one book a month” goal. But I’m almost finished with our first book of the year for book club and I’ve got a long TBR list going. I finally gave up on audiobooks. They just aren’t for me. But I’ve been making it more of a priority to read at least a little bit each day, so I think that’s going to help me with this goal.

I finally took that social media hiatus I’ve been thinking about for more than a month. I’ve been social-media-free for two full days now and it has felt great. I have¬†so much free time now that I’m not constantly checking Facebook. I’ve been reading, writing, and I even got my violin out and got it tuned yesterday.

I haven’t made a ton of progress on my other goals so far, but it’s still early in the year, so I’m not too worried. I’m excited about the changes I’ve made so far and looking forward to making more changes to bring me closer to my goals.

Tell me about your 2017 goals. Are you still going strong after one month?

12 Goals for 2017

In my last post, I talked about how I felt about my goals for 2016. For 2017, I’ve come up with 12 goals to focus on. I’m debating focusing on one per month (better get started if so!). I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about picking a “word of the year”. I though a lot¬†about it. I made a list of goals and words, but I just couldn’t pick any single word for my year. The ones that most stood out were Grow, Simplify, and Explore. I suppose I could say “screw it” and have three words. For now, I’ll just stick to my goals:

  1. Continue strength training. Since starting the Harder to Kill Challenge back in October, I’ve been strength training at least a couple times a week. It has really made a difference in how I feel and it’s something I want to continue this year.
  2. Practice more yoga. I’m currently participating in the Yoga Revolution challenge by Yoga with Adriene. It’s 31 days of yoga for the month of January. So far, I’ve done yoga every single day, and hope I can continue without breaking the streak.I really want to grow in my practice and I’ve considered looking into teaching.
  3. Travel more. My husband and I finally created a dedicated savings account for vacations and we’ve been fairly successful about building that up. We’re hoping to plan a trip this spring (location TBD), and maybe another, shorter trip this fall.
  4. Write more. I’m a writer. As in that’s my job; it’s what I get paid to do. And that’s completely awesome. Except that it sometimes means I don’t get around to blogging or doing the creative writing I want to do. I announced more than a year ago that I intended to write a book, but I’ve made very little progress with it. My goal this year is to make some progress.
  5. Read at least one book per month. That’s at least 12 books this year (and at least 12 reviews over on my other blog, Black Coffee Books). I’m hoping to exceed this goal, but I never seem to achieve the loftier 25 or 50 books a year. So maybe by setting a smaller one, I can surpass it and feel proud of my accomplishments.
  6. Create a business plan.¬†I haven’t officially¬†announced this one yet! But my husband and I are seriously discussing opening our own business in the next couple years. So my current goal is to figure out the start-up costs and create the business plan.
  7. Volunteer more. Although I had planned to volunteer last year, I never actually did. This year, I really want to become more involved in the things that matter to me. I want to look into volunteering at the library and maybe participate in a community clean-up event.
  8. Increase sustainability. By the end of last year, we were using cloth napkins pretty much exclusively in our home. My goal for this year is to continue finding ways to be more sustainable and create less waste. I got an amazing Starbucks travel mug for Christmas that I intend to start taking with me to the coffee shop so I’m not using paper cups as often. We’re also still using paper towels (although much less so now), so I want to find ways to reduce our dependence on those as well.
  9. Minimalism. Along the same lines of sustainability, I also want to focus on minimalism. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of¬†stuff we have. I want to be more mindful this year about the things I choose to buy and bring into my home. Is it something we¬†really¬†need? Are there other things I can get rid of to make space for the new? I’m also really intrigued by capsule wardrobes, but haven’t quite managed to start one. Maybe 2017 will be the year of the capsule wardrobe.
  10. Focus on my marriage. I want to have the best marriage we can possibly have, so I want to do what it takes to improve our communication and other aspects of our relationship. I think doing so will go a long way in our happiness for the year and in the long run.
  11. Spend less time on social media. I’m as guilty of it as everyone else. I check social media every free chance I get (and sometimes when I’m really not free to do so). I only half-listen to things my husband tells me if I’m scrolling through Facebook while he’s talking. It has interfered with my work and frankly, it’s just exhausting. I get more and more frustrated with it every single day. I think at some point in the very near future I’m going to take a hiatus from social media. If/when I return, I plan to severely limit the time I spend on those sites.
  12. Spend more time outside. Because I work from home, I never have to leave the house (which is totally awesome sometimes). Of course, right now, it’s freezing outside and I don’t want to leave the house. However, I know it’s definitely not good to stay cooped up inside all the time. So I really want to make more of an effort to get outside when I can (especially if the weather is nice). I want to go on a few hikes this year, and I need to get back into taking my dog for nice long walks.

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Somehow, running didn’t make my top 12 goals! I do have some running goals this year though! I want to run a few more 5ks and potentially run my first 10k sometime this fall (before it gets too cold). Right now, I’m focusing on yoga and strength training because I refuse to run when the temps are below freezing. I think both of these will help me ease back into running when the time comes.

What are your goals for 2017?

As always, thanks for reading.

-AB

Reflections on 2016

Just before the start of the new year, I blogged¬†about my goals for 2016. Below are¬†my 2016 goals and how I feel about them. I’ll be doing a separate post on my goals for 2017.

  1. Eat Healthy.¬†I feel like this has improved, especially since we moved back to St. Louis. While we were in Dallas for the first part of the year, I feel like we almost felt like we were on vacation (at least when it came to food). Trying new restaurants and finding new places we loved was one of the more exciting things about our new city. Unfortunately, most of those restaurants served less than ideal foods. After we moved back to St. Louis, I feel like I turned things around with my diet. I have still struggled at finding the right balance with my food sensitivities, but lately, I feel like I’ve been doing well.
  2. Be Active.¬†I improved in this area immensely. While we were living in Dallas and I was unemployed, Copper and I were going on at least two walks a day. Most of these walks were two to three miles. In one month, we walked over 100 miles together. On top of that, Chris got me a yoga membership for Christmas last year, so I was taking classes several times a week. After we moved back to St. Louis, I got sick, so it took me more than a month to get back into an exercise routine. But I started going to yoga twice a week again. Then I ran my first and second 5ks of the year and also started strength training thanks to the Harder to Kill Challenge. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in the last half of the year and hope to continue my progress in strength and running in the coming year.
  3. Read More.¬†I’m not quite where I wanted to be with this goal. I read intermittently while we were in Dallas. After I started my copywriting gig, it became more and more difficult to have the energy to read after work. Once we moved back to St. Louis, I got back with my book club and am in the midst of my second book with them. In an attempt to read more, I started a book review blog. I have not yet reviewed any books, though.
  4. Unplug More Often.¬†I’ve made some progress here, but not a ton. I really struggled to sleep in Dallas, due to living in a noisy apartment complex in a noisy neighborhood (a mere two-ish miles from the airport!). So I tried to stop checking my phone after a certain time. I tried reading before bed. Nothing ever really worked. I finally started sleeping better once we moved back home. I’m still trying to limit my time on my phone and checking social media, especially. I think in 2017 I’m going to do a social media detox, at least for a while. It has become overwhelming in recent months and I want to spend less time there.
  5. Be Present.¬†This one was connected to my goal to unplug. In unplugging, I aimed to be more present. I have tried to avoid checking my phone during meals and at family gatherings, but I don’t always succeed. Lately, I’ve also tried to limit my phone use even when I’m eating alone. This is another goal that will take some more work in the coming year.
  6. Drink More Water and Tea.¬†I wanted to drink more water and tea and less alcohol. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve really succeeded or not. In most cases, I’m at least a little bit more mindful¬†of when and what I drink. If I’m going to drink a beer, it’s going to be a really good craft beer that’s totally worth it. I do drink a lot more tea than I used to, which I have really enjoyed. Lately I’ve been trying to drink a cup of tea before bed to help me wind down at the end of the day.
  7. Be Kinder to Myself and Others.¬†I’ve been pretty successful with this one, especially after moving back to St. Louis. I have taken more time to be kind to myself by doing yoga, finding ways to re-energize, and get rest. I went on a day-long yoga retreat in early November and participated in the Harder to Kill Challenge. Being kind to myself has always been difficult, but I think I’ve made some great strides in how I think and speak to and about myself.
  8. Have Better Relationships.¬†This one tied in with unplugging, being present, and being kinder. It was especially important to me to stay connected with family and friends after we moved to Dallas. I made more of an effort to send cards to friends and family for birthdays and holidays. And although it was difficult, I tried to make a point to call people more, like my parents and grandma, (I know this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I really don’t enjoy talking on the phone). Our time in Dallas was pretty challenging as a newly married couple, but I think we are better now having gone through that experience together.¬†¬†
  9. Budget: Reduce Debt, Increase Savings.¬†I had lofty goals with this one. I did, thankfully, make some small gains here, though. We paid off only one credit card debt this year. We did, however, increase our savings. In fact, just a few months ago, we opened up two more savings accounts. We now have an emergency savings, as well as one for car repairs and home renovations, and one for vacations. We had an unexpected expense come up about a month ago, and it felt good knowing we had enough in savings to cover it. It sucked using it since it had taken quite a while to build it up, but thankfully, we didn’t have to use it all. So now we’re working on building the emergency savings back up to where it was and beyond. I’m hoping to really hit our debts hard in 2017 and make a bigger impact there. It felt really, really great getting that first card paid off, so I want to continue that momentum in the coming year.
  10. Write More.¬†This wound up being a big success and not much of a success all in one. I got a job as a freelance copywriter, so writing is currently my full time job. I spend between six and eight hours a day writing. I also did a fairly decent job of maintaining my previous blog back when we were in Dallas. After we moved to St. Louis, I really lost the motivation because I was sick and trying to get everything unpacked and get readjusted. On the creative side, I have not written much of anything this year. I have had plans to write a memoir, and I still want to do so, but I made very little, if any, progress on it this year. I’d really love to get into the habit of writing for pleasure a little every day in the next year.
  11. Find a Job I Love.¬†Well, I get to write every day, and when people ask, I get to tell them I’m a writer. I get paid to write. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. Freelancing has its own challenges though. Dealing with taxes and health insurance is all frustrating and overwhelming. And although I do have a steady gig right now, the pay is not the same from month to month, which makes number nine on this list more difficult. Overall though, I do enjoy the work I do, so we’ll call this one a win.

Those were my primary goals for 2016. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. What were your goals for 2016? Where did you succeed and where did you struggle?

I’ll be back soon with another post about my 2017 goals–stay tuned!

-AB