in the year of 30…

Technically, it’s my 31st year, but yo tengo 30 años…

So here I am, newly single…as in soon to be divorced (gulp). Two weeks before the birthday mentioned above, my then husband moved out. I saw this coming, but I did not see this coming. It’s really difficult, changing my future story that has been so neatly tucked into my brain for the past 7 years. There have been many painful moments in the past two months, many tears, many metaphorical head banging sessions. Out of respect for all involved, I will not go into details. I am here to focus on the next step.

I am choosing to see this new chapter as an opportunity. A chance to not only be single again, but more importantly freedom to become more of the person I truly want to be. To explore, love, and learn in the ways that I desire. To be intentional about setting and achieving goals. To dream bigger dreams again. To explore what the future might actually look like for me.

As with many major life events (marriage, graduation, a child, etc), my impending divorce is serving as a literal junction between the comfort of my past life and the unknown, much less comfortable, beyond. I am proud in so many ways of where I stand now in life, with or without a significant other. I work in a profession that gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction, flexible hours, and a nice paycheck. I have made wonderful friends in Sacramento.

My big conundrum now is where to live? I could stay in Sac. It’s really not such a bad place and I could be really happy here. I feel comfortable in my work and social life. I am a 1.5 hour drive to first rate mountains and only a bit farther from the ocean. But I didn’t choose this place. My ex is from here and my foundation has crumbled. I don’t want to settle for comfort. I place so much value on intentions. I want to have an active hand in creating the life I want, where I want it. I realize not everyone is given this opportunity, but now I have it and I won’t squander the chance to explore before I settle.

So, the details of this year?

Here are some preliminary goals and plans…

  1. Create a list of potential cities/towns to move to and visit them.
  2. Blog about this list of cities and their potential for livability.
  3. Find locums work as a PA (physician assistant) – ideally in cities being considered -and save money to invest in a downpayment on a home in my chosen locale.
  4. Travel the world in between job assignments. Blog about this, too.
  5. Write weekly.
  6. Meet and engage with people everywhere I go.

Wish me luck!

words to my 20 year old self…

don’t take yourself so seriously…

Men, marriage, and children…romantic love in all its facets are but one source of fulfillment. Believe in yourself as worthy, worthy of friendship, worthy of worth in the eyes of others…employers, friends, coworkers. Saying no to a relationship that is right (but more wrong) will not stamp out opportunities for more love. Love yourself and all your faults. Be the friend you want to have. People are lonelier than you think…

You do not have all the answers, nor are you expected to have many answers. Be comfortable with “I don’t know”. Be comfortable seeming foolish.  Older is not necessarily wiser. The wisest are those who know what they do not know.

Focus. Allow yourself to be absorbed in a task, no phone, no angst, no FOMO.

Be comfortable with less, but understand that sometimes more is definitely better. Thrift stores are not always the answer. Frugality is good, but not to obsession. Spend wisely where it counts. Study what that means…

Be. The quiet one in the room can also draw attention. Respect rarely goes to the loudest one in the room. Share thoughtfully, and do not be afraid to share. You are interesting and interesting people would like to know you. Respect the differences in others. Laugh at your insecurities and smile when others pick up on your flaws.

Do NOT underestimate yourself. Fulfill your potential. Do not let doubt hinder your efforts or goals. Get rid of the idea that studiousness is not sufficient. Allow yourself to accept your place in life, yet always strive towards something better. Yearning for something does not make that something happen. Work and suffering yield results. Set goals. Take the necessary steps to realize those goals. You want to know more about music…listen to music!

Love (yourself) fiercely. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are smart and brave. You are resilient.

why blog…

This post is for me.

Why the urge to start a blog?

I think for me, I know that I have a point of view that I think would be helpful to other people. Specifically, I think I can educated people how to create living spaces full of personal style, function, and joy without compromising a budget or giving in to cheap construction. I also have a lot of opinions on personal spending that I think would feel a little invasive if given face-to-face (and you decided to take out a loan on a gas guzzling Charger with 150K miles…WHY????). If I’m being honest, I could also use a little personal accountability regarding my own finances. I sometimes struggle to “walk the talk”. I consider myself a frugal person, but looking around the blogging world, I see lots of room for improvement.

I’d also like to catalog and share influences that have shaped me. I’ve recently found the following blogs (Reading My Tea Leaves, Frugalwoods, Cait Flanders, Mr. Money Moustache) and I want to spread the word that there is a better way.

I look at my peers, young medical professionals mostly who make some of the top salaries in the nation, and I see A LOT of debt. Maybe it’s California, where the cost of living is on everyone’s mind, but reports tell me young people everywhere are overwhelmed by student debt and lack of financial security. Millennials are delaying home buying, delaying marriages, and kids…all hallmarks that marked success in previous generations. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to rethink markers of “making it”, particularly with the delay in having children, but I do think that we’re bombarded with a consumerism fueled by social media that keeps us unhappy and drowning in debt. As a result, the things we are really after getting delayed, stress builds, and relationships suffer.

I am the only debt free (mortgagees excepted) in my social network. Why???

For the sake of keeping up avoiding newbee blogger fatigue, I’ll save the more thoughts for the next post…

happiness in a small kitchen

img_4940.jpgI love kitchens. Always have. The smells, displays of food, crusty stove tops, pantries of possibility…My kitchens have always been small spaces. Even as a child, I remember never having quite enough space to spread out a baking task the way one might desire. My first real kitchen memories are of kneading sourdough with my mom on the rollout dishwasher in our small house, because that’s the only space there was for this task.

As an adult, my kitchen’s have barely consisted of more than a counter or two. I was thrilled to have a garbage disposal in my current apartment…the first in my adult life. Still no dishwasher…but I have a gas stove!

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When your fate is small cooking spaces, using space wisely is imperative. For me, this means limited gadgets. I simply don’t have the space and I hate storing items that rarely get used. My exceptions, which I use weekly, if not daily, are my Vitamix (duh), a toaster, an espresso maker, a Ninja coffee maker (after using a Chemex exclusively for years, the convenience of the Ninja is just so nice), and a microwave. I have very little redundancy in my kitchen supplies: one set of bowls, one set of knives, one spatula, wisk, etc…

img_4944.jpgSmart shelving and storage baskets, bowls, and sacks are also crucial. But this doesn’t have to mean a trip to Target or the Container Store. Garage sales and Craigslist abound with cheap shelving and castaway furniture waiting to be repurposed for small space storage. My metal rack was a garage sale find and my wooden kitchen cabinet/island was found for free on a neighborhood corner (oh the thrills of a freebee!). Storage bags for things like mason jar lids, baskets for rags, and bowls for bag clamps are also so helpful for avoiding clutter.

More than anything, regularly assessing what is used or not used, loved or not so loved, is so helpful in a useful, tidy, small kitchen.

Maybe one day, I’ll be blessed with a kitchen with open shelving, an island, space for a full table, and a large window with beautiful views…until then, I’m more than content with the spaces I’ve got.

closet purge

Inspired by several bloggers and instagram feeds, I recently went on a vicious spring cleaning rampage. My closet, which I didn’t consider particularly excessive, was put under the microscope. Out went anything I didn’t love or regularly wear. Several items – like a neutral poncho from LOFT and a lovely sleeveless black Anthro turtleneck – had been purchased at a steep discount and were waiting for just the right moment to be worn…but the moment never came.

In my whole life, I have hardly ever purchased an item at full price and most of my clothing is second hand. I grew up in thrift store clothing. Consignment stores + Anthropologie + J Crew 40% off sales = my wardrobe since high school. While I always prided myself on my “thriftiness” when it came to clothing (and life in general), the reality is that I’d been acquiring clothing based on the degree of discount rather than degree of joy these items brought me.

Delving into the concepts of minimalism and ethical fashion have caused me to reconsider my motivations for my clothing purchases. In particular, I’ve been inspired by the capsule wardrobe challenges hosted by Elizabeth Suzann,Caroline Joy, and Lee Vosburgh. Erin Boyle (http://www.readingmytealeaves.com/) also writes extensively about sustainable clothing and the benefits of a minimalist wardrobe.

For me, the idea that truly beautiful and quality clothing items are expensive and unattainable (unless discovered on eBay) has been difficult to overcome. In the past, the idea of spending more than $30 on a shirt seemed outrageous…but accumulating 5+ items every month, even at a low price point quickly adds up. I’ve recently started tracking my spending on Mint (HIGHLY recommend!) and have been so surprised (well maybe more humbled than surprised) to discover how much I was actually spending on clothing (including shoes and accessories) every month – $300-$400! All of those $10-$30 purchases were really adding up. My obsession with sales and consignment meant I was continually exposing myself to the temptation of cheap purchases every week. Oh, and my habit of browsing eBay while lying in bed at night didn’t help…

I’m now determined to be a more thoughtful fashion consumer. Here’s are some of my resolutions…

  1. Write down items of clothing and accessories that I desire.
  2. Consider the following with every purchase…
    1. Do I love it?
    2. Was the item produced in a thoughtful and ethical manner – ideally of natural materials?
    3. Will I wear it often and does the item fit my lifestyle?
    4. Do I need it?
    5. Is it on my list?
  3. Keep a clothing budget and stick to it.
  4. Love every item I own – consider barrier to wearing my current items and fix them (ie. does a shirt need tailoring, does a hem need adjusting?)
  5. Seek out and support small brands.
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These Red Engine Jeans (made in USA, eBay find) were always too long for me and I didn’t wear them enough. I chopped off the hem and love the raw edge – now I wear them all the time. Also, these Eileen Fisher sandals are one of my favorite intentional splurges to date…

I’m pretty optimistic and excited to see where these principles take me this year.

Bonus to cleaning out my closet? Over $800 sold on eBay in the last 2 months! $800 to invest back into a better, slower wardrobe…

my small bedroom

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I think it’s important to understand what’s essential for a room. For us, we needed a bed, E’s dresser, and a desk in our bedroom. The bed and dresser are obvious. As for the desk, there’s simply nowhere else in the apartment for this Omaha antique store find. We really wanted a place to sit by the window, too. I’ve been browsing craigslist for the perfect vintage (ideally mission style) recliner within budget- they’re few and far between. We did have a neglected, but very comfortable, rocking chair pushed to the corner of our living room. My proud moment from yesterday was figuring out how to tastefully place this rocking chair in the corner of our bedroom.img_4841.jpg

The rearrangement required disassembly of our standing mirror which had previously occupied the corner. The desk was inched ever so slightly to the right. A snake plant provides good covering (or at lease distraction) for the outlet cords. The now stand-less mirror found a new home leaning against the wall.

While I would still like my vintage recliner someday, optimizing the use and placement of existing belongings is an excellent exercise in creativity. Saving money is a bonus.img_4842.jpg