Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Responsibly Irresponsible, or Irresponsibly Responsible?

I remember the moment I thought I was a grown up. It wasn't when I turned 18, like most people would think. I never felt grown up in college. Or even for a while after. I didn't feel like an adult until I was 22, working full time, paying rent, and paying back student loans. I thought it wasn't too bad. But I also still had a lot to learn about being an adult.

A few years later, I felt even more like an adult. I had more loans to pay back (thank you credential program), a car payment- plus all the other bills that seem to accumulate, a more than full-time job, and no roommates to help with cooking, cleaning, or utilities.

And when I have kids, I'll feel even more like an adult when suddenly I have to take care of someone other than myself, and have even more bills to pay, and even more things to do.

I'm wondering, how are adults supposed to function? It seems nearly impossible to work, exercise, eat right, do chores, and get a full night's sleep all in the same day. Something always has to give, and it never seems like a good thing. It seems that I always have to make a choice to be responsibly irresponsible (by giving things up and not getting everything done to preserve my health and sanity), or to be irresponsibly responsible (by doing it all, even if it wreaks havoc on my health and sanity).

I don't know which one I choose yet. All I know is work seems to have taken over my life lately (stupid report cards) and I'm sick.

And at the moment I envy the people who wake up at 6 to go to they gym, then breeze into work between 8:30 and 9:30 (because who's keeping track really?), think to themselves, "Golly gee, what am I going to find to do today?" and waltz out at 5 p.m. on the dot (or slightly earlier, because almost 5 is just as good right?) to head to their fancy cars to go home to their nice house with a landscaped backyard where they can eat their organic chicken and vegetables and then relax and watch their favorite cable TV shows before going to bed and dreaming about their next vacation. I won't envy them when it's summer time and I'm by the pool and they are stuck at their computers... at least I don't think so.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Like Nothing You Could Even Imagine

Why is it that so many things about Lake County are unimaginable except to those who live here and experience it daily?

Lots of things pop into my head: the poverty, the drugs, the addictions, the number of ex-cons, the ignorance, the anger, the illiteracy, the mental health problems... All of those are so abundant here that seeing is the only way to believe.

But scattered throughout this swamp of negativity are some really wonderful things.

The way snow covers Cobb. The way clouds envelope Mt. Konocti. The way the lake looks so blue and peaceful. The way the grape leaves cover the hills in fiery orange. The way people drag beat up boats behind their beat up cars on a soapy track...

This weekend was my first ever time at the speedway. What brought me there, you might wonder? The boat races. Don't let the name mislead you. There were no boats floating in water racing on the lake. THESE boat races involved junkyard cars towing junkyard boats around a track while trying to knock everybody else's boat to smithereens.

$10 and a Saturday evening well spent!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reflections on Self Identity

I am
grown up (almost)

5 years ago
I was
communication major
environmental science minor
sick from May until February

10 years ago
I was
social butterfly

15 years ago
I was
girl scout
soccer player

I will be
world traveler

Interesting how the way we define ourselves changes over time.

I will always be


Because she said so...

Once upon a time a lady told me about my future. She told me about teaching, writing, travel, relationships, and even where I should live. Two things she said really stood out to me. #1: "You are surrounded by children. You are like a beacon of light to them." Seriously that was the first thing she said to me, before I ever said anything about my profession. Did I mention this lady was a psychic? Anyway #2: "Are you also a writer?" I answered yes, because at the time I was ghostwriting for someone else's blog, and completing other miscellaneous writing projects for this person's business. I explained this to her and she told me that was a great start, but I needed to express my own voice and create my own blog. She then told me why I needed to do this and what would come of it. Naturally, like most people would, I took her words with a grain of salt and filed them away in the "oh isn't that interesting" part of my brain. But you know what? Except for one thing, everything she said has come to pass or turned into a real possibility. It's funny how life is full of choices, and no matter which ones we make, things just have a funny way of working out. And that makes me smile.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

My life seems to revolve around themes. This week's theme appears to be budgeting. However, that wasn't apparent to me until I went out today (Yes, I actually left my house for once!). So anyway, lately I've been thinking a lot about ways I can save money. After a year of paying rent alone and spending a lot of time hungry, and not going shopping (except for food), I'm ready to re-evaluate my living expenses and figure out ways to live better while not going broke. First up (since it's my #1 priority): how to save money on food. Here are 10 tips I'd like to share that will keep both my stomach and wallet full.

1. Stock up on items you use often when they are on sale
I love macaroni and cheese. Usually it's really expensive. But today, it was on sale for $.69 a box. So I bought 4 boxes. When you figure that each box contains 2 servings, there's 8 meals for less than $.50 each! Other items to stock up on: rice, pasta, canned goods, and other non-perishables.

2. Buy items you don't normally use, but would like to have, when they are on sale
Usually I'm a wait-till-I'm-starving-and-then-get-groceries kind of a girl. Common sense dictates that this is not a good idea. So when I have to do this, I usually make a list and try to stick to it. Unfortunately, when I have to make a one time purchase of something I need right then, it's notBold on sale. So a smarter strategy would be to see what's on sale every time I shop and purchase items when they are discounted. For example, I could buy my favorite bottle of wine when it's on sale and save it for later, rather than buy it later for an extra $2.

3. Don't buy items you don't need just because they are on sale
Sales can be tempting. Very tempting. But don't spend money on an item you don't normally buy just because it's on sale. For example, I don't normally buy cookies, so I wouldn't buy them just because they are on sale.

4. Check the unit price
At first glance, it may seem that you save money by buying the $2 toilet paper instead of the $3 toilet paper. But when you look at the unit price, you may find that the $2 TP is 30 cents per square while the $3 TP is only 5 cents per square.

5. Don't buy more than you can actually use
I cringe at the thought of how much money I've wasted by throwing away food that spoiled before it was eaten. If you do buy more perishables than you can eat before they go bad, then portion them and freeze for later, or cook several dishes using those ingredients and freeze them. Otherwise you will be throwing money out like garbage.

6. Look at those grocery flyers you get in the mail
You'll find valuable coupons as well as be able to comparison shop without ever leaving your house. You may be surprised by the deals stores offer to entice you into their market. It also helps to clip the ads for items you planned to purchase anyway, so you can check prices and make sure you're getting the best deal.

7. Organize your coupons
Place your coupons in a coupon file organized by type of food (dairy, produce, meat, etc.) with the soonest-to-expire coupon at the front of each section.

8. Don't be afraid of discount stores
You may be wary that discount grocery stores don't offer the same quality food as large chains. While this may be true for produce (but sometimes not), you will usually be able to find name brand non-perishables, as well as some name brand frozen foods, dairy, and meat that is perfectly fine and offered at half the price. You might even be surprised at the quality of the produce found at a discount store.

9. Don't forget about the dollar store
While dollar stores don't always offer a great selection of grocery items, you can often find several deals on paper towels, cleaning items, disposable dishes and utensils, sodas, crackers, spices, cookies, and sometimes even bread.

10. Make a list and carry cash
One of the easiest ways to make sure you don't go over budget on groceries is to pay for them with cash. At home, make a list of all the things you need to buy and estimate how much they will cost (using coupons will help you figure out the prices). Add 10-15% of the total as a buffer and for tax, and only carry that much cash with you to the store. Check your list and total up the price of your items as you go. When you reach your limit, it's time to head for the check out lane.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Secret in Action

It began as sort of a whisper, coming into my life here and there, but never very specific. I would see it on TV, hear it mentioned in passing, notice it at the bookstore; but I never paid much attention to it. I was too busy, thought it was probably all just hype; and yet I remained curious.

Then one day, one of my classmates brought it up in conversation. Suddenly, it was secret no more. Soon after that conversation I watched the video The Secret and I was definitely underwhelmed. The people on the video seemed too happy and made it all sound too easy and too good to be true. I thought it was probably all fake, maybe a coincidence at best. And yet I remained curious.

So I decided to try it. The back story here is that in my infinite wisdom, I told myself I never wanted to be one of those people who are obsessed with wealth and material things. So to prevent that, I have had it stuck in my head for several years that I'd be fine with "just enough." And I have been, but it's been kind of a curse. I've always had literally "just enough" to get by, and sometimes it's come down to pennies. Around the time that I discovered The Secret was one of those times I was wondering if I'd have enough. So I put The Secret to the test.

Lo and behold, it did seem to work like magic. I got paid much more than expected for a magazine article that was published, I got another unexpected paycheck, and I got a lucrative tutoring job, all within weeks of putting my thoughts out into the universe. The Secret worked in other ways too, things I don't remember exactly. I might even go so far as to say The Secret helped me get my current teaching job. Eventually I let The Secret slip back into oblivion and went on with my life as normal.

A few weeks ago I found myself thinking about The Secret again and wondering how I could put it to work in my life. And suddenly, things started to click into place. I was reminded that The Secret isn't about getting what you want without working for it, but rather using what's available to you to bring about what you want. So I looked at the opportunities present in my life and a light-bulb went off over my head. I'm very excited for my new endeavor, and hope that The Secret continues to deliver it's magic!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It Was A Rainbow Kind of A Day

Today I saw a rainbow on my way to work.
It was the most remarkable rainbow I've ever seen.
Not because of its size, or the colors, or even its shape. All of that was pretty usual.
What was unique about this rainbow was that I could see the end of it!
The rainbow went straight down from the sky onto Anderson Marsh.
And I could see where it touched the ground.
Of course there was no pot of gold, but I felt pretty lucky.
And my day turned out to have plenty of luck.
I found a flash drive I thought I'd lost.
The state gave me and extra hundred dollars on my refund.
Jorge got me a ticket to go see Sugarland on Friday.
I don't have to give up Miley for good.
And I got to have bacon for dinner.

And for the record, that picture is not of the rainbow I saw today, but of a double rainbow I could see off of Siegler Canyon Road in February.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A San Francisco Memory

Instant calm
Deep breaths of salty sea air
Ocean breeze turning my hair into a swirling Medusa
Toes chilled by the water
Feet massaged by the sand
Seemingly endless steps to spectacular views
Countless possibilities for adventure
And I love it

Sunday, April 25, 2010

American River Bike Trail Walk

Last weekend Megan and I went for a lovely walk on the bike trail near Red Bridge in old Fair Oaks. The first thing we saw was the roosters. They've been there for ages. Some of them ran away from the camera, but a few decided to model for me. :) Once we got on the trail we saw a lot of different wildlife. We saw a snake, baby squirrels, butterflies, birds, and lizards. And, because we've had such a rainy spring, the vegetation was lush and plentiful.