Friday, April 18, 2014

It’s Friday? Time for a high five!

Hey, hey!  As a Friday treat to myself, I’m carving out some time for a Friday High Five.  Life is good.

{ONE}  This month is B-U-S-Y with work.  It’s April, so that means in Texas, it’s mating season for bees and the honeybee lab is a flurry of activity.  It’s also the final month of the semester, so it’s the last push for students to finish their courses with a good grade.  I’m happy to be working, especially with my tutoring students, but I’m also in danger of losing my mind.  Keep it together, Rose-Anne, just keep it together…


{TWO}  The wildflowers have been particularly gorgeous and abundant this year.  Also, anyone who has lived in Texas needs to check this out…too funny.

Short Hair

{THREE}  I got my hairs cut!  I’m loving my short ‘do—it feels very light and spring-y to me.

Bike on an April Day

{FOUR}  Today I rode my bike in the sunshine for a lunch date.  Our spring has been rainy and depressing, but today was warm and beautiful.  I’m typing this with the patio door open and rays of sunshine streaming inside.  Lovely!

{FIVE}  I’m getting excited for my upcoming trip to Michigan.  My sister Theresa is getting married, JD and I are running a 10K race together, and Paul is meeting my family for the first time(!).  It’s going to be an epic trip.  I’ve been pretty anxious about it, but I think I’ve come to the realization that I can’t control everything.  Life happens, and so will this trip.  We’ll figure it out as we go.

Happy weekend, friends!

PS  Check out Chrissy’s High Five for today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

On Making Room

At Lake Bryan Together

This weekend, Paul and I were supposed to go camping with friends.  Instead, we skipped the two-hour drive to Bastrop State Park and ended up at Lake Bryan.  Spring wildflowers have bloomed all around us, including the hillsides at the lake.  I asked a friend to take a few pictures of us—I have surprisingly few, considering how long we’ve been together now—and this photo was my favorite.

In between work and the everyday tasks of life, I’ve been trying to get my apartment ready for Paul to move in with me.  Once I started brainstorming ways to clear out the second bedroom, I felt a burst of energy to get it done, now.  Which was not really possible, but I did move my desk into the living room, and that’s where I’m sitting now, typing this post.

Desk in Living Room

I’ll tell you a secret: before Paul, I would have guessed that giving up my personal space for a partner would be really, really hard.  I have lived alone for a long time, and I like my space and private time.  Even with Paul, I find that I am better able to appreciate our relationship if I have time alone.  Since Paul isn’t a runner (he has one running speed: a full sprint), running is an easy excuse for alone time.  But for the most part, I love being with him.  I enjoy it when he stops by unannounced—that always feels like a special treat.  It feels good having him around.

I sometimes wonder, even worry, about the longevity of this relationship.  It’s natural to worry, I think, and I question everything, including my own doubts.  I am a doubtful person; it’s why I became a scientist.  But making room for Paul in my heart and my home feels like the most natural thing in the world.  I welcome the changes that are happening; I wish I had more time now to make them happen faster.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that Paul and I have been waiting our whole lives to find each other.  After many years alone and wondering, “Is there someone for me?” it feels like nothing short of a gift to share my life and, very soon, my home with him.

(But we are still keeping separate bedrooms!  Best decision ever?  We’ll see.  That was a fun post to share.  I loved hearing different stories and perspectives on that question, so thank you for sharing them with me.)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Week in Thoughtful Consumerism, Vol. 11: Two Transformational Ideas

Welcome back to “This Week in Thoughtful Consumerism!”  Lately, I’ve been motivated to unpack a lot of my mental baggage around the issues of money, autonomy, and partnership.  You may recall that I have two jobs: a part-time lab gig and private tutoring.  My income is up and down this year, depending on how many tutoring hours I’m booking during a given month.  Being a freelancer forces you to deal with your money fears, and being a freelancer who is dating a freelancer?  That REALLY asks you to unpack your deepest beliefs about money and its role in your life.

I’ve always been pretty responsible with money, but I also have chronic anxiety about it.  I used to do all the things a real grown-up does with money: track your expenses; stick to a budget; save money for retirement, a house, a rainy day, a new tooth for when you break your old one.  I did all these things when my income was sufficient to cover them.  But now?  Now I am lucky if I break even each month, which, for the record, I am not doing.  I am covering most of my expenses with current income, but each month, I pay for the remaining bills with savings.

It’s not my ideal situation, but I trust that it’s temporary as I transition out of research and into a more teaching-centered career.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to find some peace around the issue of money.  Truly, money comes and money goes, just like jobs.  We live in uncertain times.  But maybe there’s a way for me to stop worrying incessantly about money.  Here are two ideas I had:     

* “Have I missed out on anything because of a lack of money?”  The answer is no.  Paul and I had a wonderfully adventurous year of dating, with tons of travel and friends and date nights.  On my own in the last year, I’ve run my first marathon, had four trips to Michigan (where my family lives), bought new or replacement items as I wanted (new boots come to mind, as well as a gorgeous dress from Ann Taylor Loft), eaten well, and adopted the best kitty in the world.  Life is good.

My Favorite Officemate   

“Money is a game.”  I saw this on a post someone wrote about marriage, and I liked it a lot.  Paul and I aren’t married, but we do share expenses and resources.  I believe that his good fortune is our good fortune and vice versa.  How we choose to spend our time and our money really is a game.  What do we want to do?  Do we have time for it?  How busy are we going to be that month?  So many puzzle pieces to consider.

For us, the time question is usually more important than the money question.  Despite both being freelancers, we have substantial work commitments—“freelance” isn’t code for “unemployed” here, even if I feel under-employed right now.

I’ll be keeping this idea in mind as we prepare for our move to Austin.  Game on!

Have you found any money-related ideas to be transformational for you?  If so, what were they?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

On the Question of Separate Bedrooms

In my last post, Chrissy was curious about why Paul and I plan to have separate bedrooms, and I thought, “Hey!  That could be an interesting post!”  Let’s talk about it.

First, let me acknowledge that we are very lucky that we can make this choice to have a particular arrangement.  We don’t have to move in together.  It’s not a personal requirement, nor do our finances tell us we must do this.  We want to live together, and we want to be realistic about what we need to do that happily.  I know that some couples live in tiny spaces because it’s all they can afford or because they can’t afford to move.  If you are in a situation like that, let me say this: hang in there, and I hope things improve for you.

It’s kind of a miracle that Paul and I like spending time together because we’re both hermits by nature.  We like solo hobbies (reading), we both spend a lot of time working alone, and we’re homebodies.  We’re classic introverts.  That being said, we do enjoy our friends very much, and we enjoy each other.  Our goal is to create a living space that honors our shared need to be alone while still living, you know, together.

Separate bedrooms seem like a great solution to a significant problem.  A bedroom is a sacred space in a home.  It’s a room with an aura of privacy around it.  By having separate bedrooms, we are creating spaces where we can retreat.  We can close the door and soak up the privacy of not interacting with others.  With separate bedrooms, we give each other the chance to maintain a private self.  When you are in a serious relationship with someone, it is so easy to lose your sense of self.  You start not only defining yourself as your role in someone else’s life, but you also start thinking of yourself not as YOU first but as so-and-so’s partner.  I love being Paul’s girlfriend, and I love it because I choose it, every day.  Every day, I choose him and I choose us, and I choose the life that we are building together.  But before there is an “us,” there has to be a him and a me.  Our separate bedrooms are a way of honoring the individuals we are.

On a more practical level, Paul is an engineer.  He’s always designing or building something, which I love.  Having separate bedrooms gives Paul his own room and project space.  Honestly, what I really want is a studio for Paul to use as his work space.  I can’t offer that right now.  But a bedroom of his own is better than nothing.

A room of his own is our dream.  For now, that room looks like this:


And this:      

Better I Think{Whew—that’s better.}

I love that window in front of the desk.  I’m a little jealous that Paul will have it in his room—it lets wonderful warm breezes into the room on beautiful days.  But mostly I’m delighted to give him a nice space like this and to see our daily lives become a little more integrated into a cohesive whole.

You can see we’ve got our work cut out for us.  Wish us luck!  I’ll report back in a month, if all goes well and I remember.

Friday, March 28, 2014

(Somewhat Neglected) Goals for This Month

Oh, you guys.  I have been feeling so out of sorts this month.  My cold has tightened a death grip around me, dragging me down into sickly misery for the past week.  I’ve been freaking out about everything—work, money, love, family, my closet.  And my thoughts have been very dark in a scary way.  I’ve been feeling hopeless and depressed, definitely not my usual happy self.  In short, it’s been a hard, hard month for reasons that I barely understand.

I haven’t been writing enough, whether it’s journaling or blogging.  I find myself feeling paralyzed about what to say and worried that it’s too stupid/dark/banal/boring to bother writing.  But I also know that writing is a way to the other side of whatever it is I’m feeling this month, so I decided to finish writing this post I had started earlier this month.  I’m trying to re-establish some momentum on my life goals.  (Speaking of which, maybe I should write that neglected 2014 goals post?  Yes?)  Truthfully, all of these goals are good ones for April too, so here we go.  Let’s finish this post, and I’ll add some end-of-the-month commentary.

* * *

Here is my not-so-big realization this month: I need to work on my self-discipline muscles.

From what I’ve read, self-discipline really is like a muscle (metaphorically, at least) in that the more you work on it, the stronger it gets.  Now that I’m partially self-employed, I need to be more driven to reach the goals I set for myself.  One of my strengths is that I am good at adjusting my plans on the fly, during the normal course of a day.  It’s good because it means that I handle setbacks and interruptions well.  But it’s bad because it’s easy for me to “adjust” my goal by putting it off until tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s goals never get accomplished.  I need to be working on today’s goals.

For this month, I set three straightforward goals.

Clean Out the Spare Bedroom_March 11{Calendar image source.  Edited by me!}

* Cleaning out the spare bedroom this month.  First, some news: Paul and I are moving in together this summer!  We’ve decided to consolidate our lives into my two-bedroom apartment before we move to Austin later this summer.  Funny story: we’ve known for many months now that we are happy living together, as we lived together for two weeks while traveling out west last summer.  But we were both happy in our respective living situations, so we decided not to change things.  (Plus we’d only been dating for about five months, which seems a little bit fast for packing boxes, at least for my taste).

Fast forward to this summer, and living together feels like the right fit.  The only problem?  One of the bedrooms is my office, and by “office” I mean it is filled with crap.  So the challenge before Paul can move in is to clear space for him to have a bedroom of his own (yes, separate bedrooms—we each like alone time).

Earlier this month, I had been working on it, at least a little bit every day.  Then we went to Dallas and things got really busy, then I went to Detroit and I got sick.  Now I’m going to resume this project for the rest of the month and for April.  I think the goal will be for Paul to be able to move in by the end of April, if he wants.

Study More

* Four hours of chemistry study this each week.  I mentioned in my last post that I have ideas for finding more tutoring business.  My best idea so far: chemistry tutoring.  I was a chemistry major in college, so the subject is a firm part of my background.  Plus I love and enjoy chemistry, so tutoring in that subject sounds fantastic.  In order to brush up on my working knowledge, I bought a textbook and am actively studying in the hope of attracting chemistry students.  This week, I had my first chemistry tutoring session (found via Craigslist), and it went well.  Win!

I have another new student scheduled for Sunday, so onward we go.

Ready for Walking

* Walk at least 15 minutes each day (in addition to “commute walking” to get to work).  One of the hazards of my work life now is way, WAY too much time spent in a chair.  On top of that, I have not been great about getting exercise since the half-marathon at the beginning of the month.  I decided to challenge myself to get at least 15 minutes of walking every day on top of any other activity (bike riding, climbing stairs at work, etc.).  I love meeting this goal.

END-OF-MONTH EDIT: I was doing great on this goal until I went to Michigan, and then I just fell flat.  It was cold, I was tired/busy/distracted and just didn’t fit my walking time into the day.  But!  No time like the present to jump back into things, so tomorrow morning I’ll be strolling around my neighborhood.  Is it weird that I’m thinking of doing the Couch-to-5K program to get back into a fitness habit?

* * *

Whew!  It feels good to finish this post.  Hopefully that didn’t read too awkwardly, as I awkwardly try to find my way back to a routine that makes me happy.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Where I’ve Been

In the air…

Descending into Detroit

…and on the ground!

Pretty Colors


Snow on the Ground

Hi, friends!  It’s been a whirlwind week around here.  I flew up to Michigan for my sister’s bridal shower, which went swimmingly yesterday.  But before we could shower Theresa in presents and good cheer, my brother John and his fiancĂ© Thom got married on Saturday, in the short window during which same-sex marriage was happening in Michigan.  We celebrated their surprise nuptials on Saturday night with pizza and beer and balloons and a hand-finished banner.  I was finishing up the banner in the living room after they arrived while John was wondering, “Why is Rose-Anne doing arts and crafts right now?”  But they loved the decorations, and we loved celebrating with them.

Today I’m hoping to get my hair cut and spend a little time with my parents.  Yesterday I started feeling some cold symptoms, so I’m not at 100% right now.  But after coffee and a light breakfast, I do feel a bit better.  I am really looking forward to getting my mop trimmed—my hair is at the point where it just looks and feels like it lacks any kind of structure or style, and it is driving me nuts.  I need help, ASAP!

I’m glad I made the trip up to Michigan for the weekend, especially after what became my hardest travel experience yet.  My original flight was delayed and then canceled due to mechanical problems, and I wasn’t able to get out of Houston on Thursday.  I ended up on the 9 AM flight Friday morning.  Fortunately for me, my sweet friend Courtney was able to rescue me on Thursday afternoon after I spent eight hours in the airport.  (As a fun bonus, my suitcase went to Detroit without me, so I had no extra clothes or toiletries with me.  Yay!)  So my day on Thursday went from okay to awful to much, much better, once I left the airport.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of uncomfortable feelings lately, giving me sleepless nights and a zombie-like state during the day.  As you might remember, this year I started a new part-time job as a lab manager and I’ve continued tutoring privately (which I started in November 2013).  The lab manager gig is okay, I suppose—my boss is great, but the fact remains that I don’t want to work in a lab any more.  I’m tired of lab work.  Tutoring is awesome, but it is really hard to land tutoring gigs.  There’s not a huge demand for biology tutoring, and even when students do contact me, there are a lot of cancellations and reschedulings.  So my work life has been a source of distress for me because I’m not able to find enough business to move away from lab work.  I have been brainstorming ways to find more tutoring business, but clients remain elusive.

On top of my work disappointments, I’m feeling really anxious about money, which is causing problems between me and Paul.  We’re working through it, and I think we’ll come out on the other side stronger and with a deeper understanding of each other.  But it’s hard when he doesn’t understand my anxiety about money, therefore he doesn’t understand why I’m upset that things aren’t going more smoothly this year.  “Worry about today now; don’t worry about tomorrow until it’s here” is Paul’s attitude about money.  Me, on the other hand?  I live in a perpetual state of worrying about money.  I don’t know how to not worry about money.  I wish I did—I’d feel a lot better if I did.  But that anxiety is practically woven into my DNA.

* * *

To my sweet blogger friends, I’m sorry I’ve been MIA this month.  I’m looking forward to catching up on your blogs and seeing what you’ve been doing!  Here’s hoping that spring brings with it some brighter days and lighter feelings after a long, cold winter of gloom.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

This Week in Thoughtful Consumerism, Vol. 10

Hello, friends!  I’m embarrassed that it’s been a month between volumes of “This Week in Thoughtful Consumerism.”  I’m busy, you’re busy, excuses, excuses—you don’t need to hear them.  Today I’d like to share with you a funny, insightful blog I found when I googled “shopping ban”:

The Year of Nothing New 

It’s a blog that starts with Danielle, an aspiring actress in Chicago, deciding to put herself on a year-long clothes shopping ban.  Before the ban, Danielle is a nearly out-of-control shopper who has too many clothes and yet spends way too much time coveting what she doesn’t have (paraphrased from her words, I promise).  She stops shopping so she can learn to work her closet, discover her unique sense of style, and stop spending a fortune on new clothes.  I love Danielle’s daily outfit posts, tips on how to manage a long-term shopping ban, and reflections on her struggles and successes.  As far as I can tell, the blog isn’t updated any more, but I’ve been reading the archives and enjoying them.

The Year of Nothing New digs deep into the questions about why we buy clothing and the roles that clothing has in our lives.  For many (if not most?) of us, our clothing is more than functional; our style is an expression of who we are.  As another favorite blogger put it, “style [is] an act of narration.”  If that’s true, then what happens if your closet must be sufficient to dress and express you to the outside world with no updates for an entire year?

Not to spoil any of the fun, but what Danielle finds is that less can be more.  We like to think that we own our stuff, but when we have too much of a good thing, our stuff starts to own us.  Finding the sweet spot is an art and a science.  Danielle’s honesty and good humor make this blog a treat to read, and she looks so much like Chrissy that I kinda think she might be Chrissy writing under a pseudonym!  Ah, I kid, I kid.  But The Year of Nothing New is a great read.  If you need to find me, I’ll be digging around in her archives, finding posts to pin to inspire me in my own closet adventures.