life & love

I SWEAR I’M STILL HERE

choose happy

Hello, Internet? This is Em. You know, the girl who writes this blog. Well tI just wanted to let you that I’m not dead, as evidenced by this very post. So you don’t have to worry about me.

K? We good?

I know it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted anything, but i just haven’t had the energy. I really haven’t had the energy to do much of anything other than dragging myself to and from work these days, and half the time I feel like I’m going to fall asleep at any moment.

Basically I’ve been in a … funk, I guess, for lack of a better word. It’s been coming on for months and it finally reared its ugly head a few weeks ago and I basically had to admit to myself that I was probably depressed.

You might ask why a 23 year old girl who has a kickass apartment. loving family, amazingly supportive and good looking boyfriend with a stable job, and a not so shitty job herself could be depressed. Well, it happens, and it happened to me.

I used to wonder if I suffered form bouts of depression, now I guess I know. And that’s sort of a depressing fact.

But the good news is, the days of laying in my bed alternating between binge watching House and 30 Rock are over. After a long talk with my best friend, my mom and James, I’ve realized that nothing is going to change until I do something.

So starting about a week ago, I started exercising again. It’s amazing what a little cardio and yoga will do for my energy and my mind. I’ve also tried to come home every day with at least half a smile on my face, a whole one if I can manage. I’m trying not to dwell on things that are out of my control, and focus on the things that are.

I also scheduled a doctor’s appointment to find out if this is scary real or just real enough to make life shitty for a few months before it all just fades away and I’m OK again. I’m a little nervous about that part, but it seemed like the right decision.

Anyway, I’m not writing this for the attention I’ll almost certainly get from concerned friends and coworkers, but just because it’s another way for me to just deal with it, to call it what it is and do everything I can to not let it control my life.

Today, I’m choosing to be happy. Hopefully it’s not a superficial happy where I just pretend, but true happiness.

I came home and was happy to see my dogs. I’m happy at the prospect of seeing James when he gets home, and for hopefully kicking some butt at our cornhole game later tonight. So I think I’m off to a good start.

It seems like a good strategy for every day, to choose happiness. It’s a very mindful thing. I think maybe I’ll try it again tomorrow …

Photo by Paper Coterie.

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life & love

RECHARGING MY BATTERIES

relax

My father raised me with certain ideas and principles about what it means to be a good employee.

It’s probably why I started my first job when I was 15 years old, working in the ice cream parlor my grandparents owned. Dad thought it was a good idea for me to start making my own money. Working would teach me responsibility and give me some character. It would make me appreciate my life and my belongings more, you know, to see how hard I’d have to work to pay for all those nice things I had. Plus, working is a major part of life, so why not get startd sooner rather than later? Right?

Dad logic can be legit, but it can also be kind of intense.

Just because my grandma was my boss doesn’t mean I got any special treatment. In fact, I made sure I didn’t. I wanted to be treated like any other employee, which meant that I had to act like I was one. And that meant working my ass off to prove that I deserved to be there.

When my grandparents sold the business, I stuck around with the new owner for about six months before some scheduling problems no longer made it a good fit. Rather than just quit and enjoy my free time, I went straight into my next job as a hostess at a local restaurant. Four months later, I fulfilled my dream to to become a camp counselor at the local YMCA Day Camp I had been attending since I was 10.

And no, I didn’t quit the hostessing job. I did both.

I should have known then that I was a workaholic. I worked 40 hours per week at camp from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., then had just enough time to go home, clean up and be at the restaurant a few nights of week for an additional 20-25 hours.

I did that for three years during the summer. I was exhausted, but I liked it. There’s something about working that makes me feel, I don’t know, good.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good employee. I show up on time, I don’t make excuses, I get my work done and I do it with a smile. I also hardly ever call off sick, even when I probably should. If I’m not dying, I should be at work. That would be some more of dad’s logic kicking in.

The unfortunate consequence of all this non-stop working and borderline psycho mentality about never having a day off has been that I also rarely put in for vacation time. And that’s probably not good.

Last year, I didn’t take a single day off work until the end of August. And even then I only did it because it was a use it or lose it scenario and I figured I why not just give myself a mini birthday vacation?

During that week off, I realized how much I needed to get some separation from work to just… relax. I’m already a high stress/anxiety prone kind of girl, I’ve known it for years. Being a workaholic AND a high stresser pretty much means I am never relaxed. It’s sad really.

So this year, I put in some time off a little early and started a five-day weekend today. I slept in, enjoyed my breakfast while reading the news, took my time getting ready and spent some quality time with Jordy. Now I’m about to clean up the apartment and plan out some crafts/blog posts I want to write in the upcoming weeks.

And to think that last Friday I nearly reached across my editor’s desk to tear my vacation request slip up. Seriously, the psycho stressed workaholic in me nearly did it. I was panicking over how I was going to get all my work done in just three days when one of those days I don’t even get to play reporter. I didn’t think I could do it, and I was willing to sacrifice my vacation (i.e. my mental health rehabilitation period) so that I could work more.

Man, I am a piece of work sometimes.

But I didn’t do it. Because wanting to tear up that paper seemed like the very confirmation of the fact that I needed the time off.

So far my mini vacation is off to a good start! I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the rest of these five days plays out.

Mostly this post has been a way for me to get all of this off my chest, and face the fact that I can be a little crazy when it comes to work and that it has to stop.

But I hope it’s also a reminder to you that we all need to recharge our batteries every once and awhile. Don’t put it off and make yourself crazy. Take a few days to soak up some sun, smell the flowers, sleep, play with your dog, smile, laugh, and just be you. Who knows, it could be just what you need.

Photo credit: Colour Moon

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life & love

ATTEMPT NO. 7350 TO CUT BACK & SAVE MONEY

who doesnt like money

Apparently it didn’t take too long to break my promise to blog two to three times a week. Last week was a lonely week on Adventures with Em, and for that I am sorry.

I could probably rattle off a few good excuses for you, like the fact that I was so tired I thought I was going to fall asleep at the wheel on Monday or that I had a jam packed weekend with the family, but I’ll save you the screen time.

Hopefully this week will be more productive, but I’m guessing it’s going to take some time before this little adventure of mine becomes a habit.

But enough about that.

I was recently inspired to take a long, hard look at my budget and the current state of my checking & savings account. Although what I found did not horrify me, I certainly could stand to do a little less spending. Especially in a few key places.

Have you heard of Mint? It’s a website/app that compiles information from all your checking & saving accounts, credit cards, assets, loans, etc. and shows you detailed information about your spending habits. It also shows you your net worth.

I am proud to tell you that as of March 25, 2014, I am worth a grand total of -$41,889.11. Note the negative sign. Thanks student loans!

In reality, I’m  not in that bad of shape. I was able to save up a nice rainy day fund while I was living with my parents after graduation. The thing is, I haven’t added much to it since I got my own place.

But that’s about to change. Here are three ways I can start banking some more cash by making minor changes to my lifestyle:

1. Stop going out to lunch: I’m a sucker for a Panera bagel and smoothie combo, and ever since we got one 10 minutes from my office I’ve been struggling to stay away. The temptation to sleep in an extra 15 minutes by sacrificing packing a lunch is taking a toll on my wallet. If you don’t have time in the morning (I usually don’t), try packing your lunch the night before. Usually this starts with making sure the kitchen is stocked with lunch foods and snacks. I catch myself going out to lunch more often as a result of not going to the grocery store to buy what I need.

2. Start taking advantage of the community gym: One of the perks of moving into my apartment complex is that it came with a pretty nice gym. It has all the ellipticals, treadmills and free weights a girl could need. And how often do I go? I’ve probably only been a handful of times in the 9 months I’ve lived here. What’s more, is I recently started paying $80 a month to attend 3 yoga classes per week at a nearby studio when my free gym has two free yoga classes per week and the Lululemon at the mall has free classes on Sundays. My excuse was that the free classes didn’t mesh with my schedule, but if I can make it work, I could get the same amount of yoga time for free. Then, if I want to kick it up a notch, I could supplement with maybe one or two classes per week at the studio for just $40 or $60 per month. (It’s so logical it hurts my brain.)

3. Set a realistic shopping/entertainment budget and DON’T break it: When I first started using mint, I was living at home with my parents. I could afford to spend a little more on things I wanted, like clothes, going to the movies or having a few drinks with friends. But now that I have rent and bills to pay, I no longer have that luxury. And yet I still cling to it. I scaled back my shopping budget in Mint, but I still seem to get a notification each month that I’ve busted it. Maybe it’s OK to spend a little more than what I have scheduled, maybe not. Either way, I need to set a realistic goal and stick to it. If that means my shopping budget is killed three days into the month, so be it. Money never gets away from you faster than on a shopping spree that loses control, and it is SO easy to convince yourself going just a teensy bit over budget is OK. We’ve all been there. Being stricter with myself is a start, but staying out of temptation’s way is probably a good strategy too. That means less time spent at the mall, and more in the great outdoors or finding new places to go with friends. And instead of going out to the movies, I know there’s an overflowing queue of movies on my Netflix account just waiting to be watched. That’s not to say I’ll never treat myself with a new pair of shoes or tickets to see my favorite band when they come to town, just that once I hit that ceiling that’s it until next month.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on paying off my credit card. I already invested half my tax returns on that front, which felt very financially responsible of me.

I’ve always prided myself on being smart with my money, it’s just time to be smarter.

How do you save money? Feel free to leave your tips/advice in the comments. I’m sure we all could use some extra inspiration to keep us off the path of empty bank accounts (;

“I mean- Who Doesn’t Like Money?” print is by artist Chris Piascik.

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