2020 Goals: January Update

Hello! I can’t believe it is already February. January didn’t feel long and it also didn’t fly by, it just felt packed full of stuff! I started my field placement and work picked back up and school started and it’s just been a lot.

That being said, I’m still pretty excited about my goals. Let’s just get straight into it!

Max out my IRA contributions

Let’s talk money. This is probably going to be my most challenging goal. Mostly because my priority is to pay for grad school without taking any loans, so any cash I have to save goes straight to that first.

However, because I know future me will be thankful for any contribution I make, I am still focusing on investing as well. I have increased by savings rate and, through some fun frugality, have opened up quite a bit of cash to throw into savings or investments as well!

Visit somewhere new

This is happening! We stayed relatively local (aka Texas) this month, but we planned some exciting trips. In April we’re going to DC and Philadelphia for a wedding and I can’t wait. I’ve never been to Philadelphia (or Pennsylvania, in general) and I am 100% going to get myself a Philly Cheesesteak.

I’m getting ahead of myself. In January we went to Bandera for my 50k. I had never been to Bandera, and honestly didn’t see much of it since I was running the whole time. However, my race was in Hill Country State Natural Area – a park I had never been to – and it blew my mind. It was so rugged and beautiful; it could easily be a national park. I’ve recommended it to anyone who has asked about the race. I’m like, “forget about the running, let’s talk about that park!”

Unfortunately it’s roughly 3 hours away from Austin, but it would make for an excellent day or weekend trip!

Read a book a month (at least)

Not to be dramatic, but I am crushing this one. I started using Goodreads and it has helped me keep track of what I want to read, what I have read, and how long it is taking me to read books.

In January, I read: Economics for Social Workers by Michael Anthony Lewis (no, this was not for school), Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (did not like at all), The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker (a little scary at first, but a must read!), and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (fun read).

February is not off to as ambitious of a start. Mostly because the book I’m currently reading has been a slow starter and I’m struggling with it. Will update next month!

Pursue finance, professionally

Not a whole lot going on here, unfortunately. In early January I applied to be volunteer at the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, but haven’t heard back. I do think I am going to try to start a financial therapy group of sorts at my field placement, but that probably wouldn’t happen until later this spring anyway.

While I do want to make progress on this goal, January was just too crazy of a month to reserve a lot of time or energy for it. That being said, it is 100% still on my radar. I’m excited to attend an awesome investment event later this month, too!

PR my half marathon

Woof. We’re getting there. When I made this goal, I hadn’t run my ultra yet! I ran 31.1 miles on January 12th and planned on taking a whole month off before I began training.

Well, I needed to run. Life has been crazy (sensing that theme?) and while I have many outlets to process my stress, running is my favorite. I actually didn’t have my first run back until February, so that doesn’t really count here. I decided to just get my legs back underneath me with some casual, shorter runs and then I’ll start building speed and distance in a few weeks!

I’m pretty excited about that!

And that’s January! I cannot believe a month has already gone by! I’m looking forward to chipping away at those goals this year, especially since 2020 is going to be the largest year of my life thus far.

Talk to you later!

Juliana

Dinner$: Success!

Hi!

Life got crazy really quick. And this post is – uhhhh, like – two weeks late. Nonetheless, we made it through January without going out to eat (well, paying for it at least)! January was the right month to go for this goal. Why? Well, I started field placement for school and it has thrown a wrench in my normal life schedule. Along with working and doing my regular school work, I can already feel myself wanting to just go out to eat all. the. time.

HOWEVER, Patrick and I are working hard to resist that urge. Meals will probably become simpler than they already were and Patrick will have to do more cooking probably. TIA Pat.

Anyway, back to a few weeks ago. To be honest, I didn’t take pictures of everything we made and I can’t even remember what was on the menu that week. Regardless, we’re going to try our best:

Monday: Instant Pot Chicken Tinga

Not to be dramatic or anything, but these were one of my favorite things we’ve ever made in the Instant Pot. They were so good and so much better than crappy HEB fajita meat tacos.

Two pounds of chicken made tacos for the whole week. We probably ate this 12 times throughout the week. We also had rice and beans that we just mixed straight into the shredded chicken after our first meal of it. The chicken gets pretty oily, so definitely have a napkin handy.

We ate this as tacos, but it would be excellent in a burrito bowl!

Another day (oops, can’t remember when): Buddha Bowls

This is a staple in my diet. I don’t actually know what a true Buddha Bowl that you’d buy from some bougie restaurant for $14 actually consists of, but I love mine so I don’t care.

This was: roasted Brussel Sprouts, roasted asparagus, roasted sweet potatoes, a 5 grain mix, and fake Quorn chicken pieces. And, of course, this peanut sauce. Made in ATX. So delicious.

These bowls are so filling and are excellent leftovers! I’ve also added avocado or sriracha in the past. And if you’re someone who is a self-declared vegetable hater, do this: ROAST YOUR VEGETABLES IN OIL. ADD SALT AND PEPPER AND WHATEVER SEASONING YOU’D LIKE. For us, that’s garlic powder.

Again, another day: Green Lentil Soup from The Feed Zone cookbook

Color me unimpressed. Y’all, I had such high expectations for this and was just let down. For a couple reasons!

First, we make Ina Garten’s Split Pea Soup a couple of times a year and absolutely love it. This was in no way split pea soup, nor were the recipes similar at all, but it looked enough like the split pea soup that I was disappointed it didn’t taste like it every time I had a spoonful.

Second, it was so so so salty. Which is cray because I didn’t even salt it. I used chicken broth that we already had and I think that’s what took it over. The recipe called for broth or water, which was weird since they are definitely not the same. But whateva.

Third, it just didn’t satisfy me. I was not in the mood for it that day, but it’s what I made. Also we ate it at maybe 4 pm. We are old.

LOOK! I am missing two meals from this week… I know we cooked something, but I didn’t take any pictures so I can’t remember what it was. Whateva whateva.

I probably won’t keep doing these posts in February, because I just don’t have the time or mental capacity for it, BUT we will keep making food at home.

Why? Well, because of my budgeting and frugality in January, I saved an extra $1900. That’s EXTRA money, y’all. I had already saved and invested and included that in my total “spent” for the month. This crap was just not spent. I rule. Grad school debt, who? (Brb need to go knock on some wood).

Thanks for reading! Cook something delicious tonight!

Best,

Juliana

Dinner$: A Crazy Week

Let me begin with an apology. I forgot to take photos this week. I snagged a few, but ultimately mostly forgot.

I know you’re wildly disappointed. The people love my mediocre, iPhone food pictures!!! 😉 I’ll try to be better next week.

This week was a doozy. I started my internship and was running from South Austin to Georgetown multiple times a day and was tired. I listened to NPR and Marketplace like a maniac, though! I may be hustling around, but I am very well informed.

Anyway, we hosted a party last Saturday, so when the time came to meal plan for the week we were not super creative. The weather was also on the chillier side and rainy some days, so we went for comfy foods.

Also I want to mention that last night Patrick commented that he doesn’t even miss eating out. And neither do I! It’s kind of awesome. To be honest, I never really cared much about eating out unless it was for something I really craved. We normally just did it when we were feeling lazy or uninspired.

Cooking things that are:

  1. Cheap
  2. Quick(ish) & easy
  3. Fun to make
  4. All of the above

definitely improves the experience! And makes eating out less enticing. Anyway, let’s begin!

Monday: Spaghetti & Meatballs in Red Wine Tomato Sauce (from The Feed Zone cookbook)

YUM. Writing this now I wish we still had leftovers. Not going to lie, this took a hot minute. It’s like a 90 minute recipe because that sauce needs to simmmmmmmmmer. It was even better as leftovers the next day.

This may be the first time I have made my own pasta sauce. Well, this summer I made some from scratch but didn’t use a recipe, so it was a little more onion-y than I would have preferred. This sauce was excellent.

I even got hard parmesan to put in our new (to us) Parmesan grater than I got from Buy Nothing! And, of course, garlic bread. A must. My only regret is not eating this on plain old white spaghetti. I bought whole wheat (because fiber) and it was good, but classic spaghetti would have been even better! Highly recommend this one.

Tuesday: Ramen

LOL. This was not fancy, homemade ramen, y’all. This was the 19 cent ramen that college students joke about. I love me some salty, MSG noodles time to time.

A couple weeks ago I finally got Patrick to try it, because he swore he never had, and he acted like it was just fine. This week, though, he suggested it. We soft-boiled two eggs each (for protein) and didn’t add anything else.

Patrick might’ve overcooked the noodles just a tad. And evaporated too much water out. But we love him anyway.

Last time we had this we had leftover tofu and pickled vegetables from banh mi and I wish we had had them this time around, too! Either way, still delicious. I inhaled this 10 minutes before having to start an online video meeting for school. Fun!

Wednesday: Chili

Another day, another no photo! Does that make sense? Whateva.

It was rainy and dreary all day this day, which meant it was perfect for chili. I don’t follow a chili recipe and – before you jump down my throat – I am not claiming this to be Texas Chili! Why? Because there’s a whole lot of beans and zero meat.

I am particularly proud of this one, though. I bought dried black beans and kidney beans months ago to save money and not buy cans, but I attempted to make them once and didn’t soak them long enough and had a bad time.

When I was making my grocery list, I saw those dried beans and decided to conquer it. SAVING THAT CA$H MONEY!

I soaked the kidney beans and black beans (separately) for roughly 6 hours and then threw them in the Instant Pot (again, separately) for like 20ish minutes? I don’t know, Google it.

Anyway, in the chili went those cooked beans (nailed it), pinto beans, garbanzo beans, frozen diced bell peppers (that we already had in the fridge), some chicken stock I wanted to use up, a Ranch seasoning packet, and a chili packet. We ate it with tortilla chips and cheese and sour cream for me.

Confession time: I always make my chili too soupy. Yes, I could probably let it keep cooking until the water evaporates, but that requires patience. Do you not know me by now?

Moving on!

Thursday: Veggie Burgers & Curly Fries

Awww yeah. A classic. A grilled veggie burger and curly fries.

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

Eaten on a whole wheat brioche bun from Whole Foods that has been in the freezer. Topped with avocado. HEB curly fries (that we put in breakfast tacos the next morning).

I love our mini grill. I love Patrick for making this for me after teaching Bodypump.

Friday: Tuna Cakes with Rice

The photo is art, honestly. So, here’s the deal about tuna cakes. I used to work at a place that made jalapeno tuna cakes with cilantro lime rice. I didn’t become obsessed until after I left.

It’s just such a great pairing. The tuna, with the protein and the fats. The rice, with the carbs. The cilantro and lime and jalapeno with the flavor.

This was not that. I had forgotten to get cilantro and Patrick isn’t really into cilantro… or lime… or jalapeno. Loser. I found some random recipe for tuna cakes and ran with that. I added lemon juice and some salt to my rice, but I’m pretty sure Pat ate his plain…

Regardless, the most important thing to report on about this meal is that we ate it at 4 PM. Like actual old people. The early bird special. I still can’t believe it. We were both hungry and figured we’d just have snacks later.

Don’t judge us. Or do. Whateva.

Have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back next week with our final week of January! I have a feeling we will continue to just cook. I’ve got lots going on, especially in the evening, next week so I’ll be interested to see what our meals and distribution of meal preparing labor will look like.

I’ll report back. Eat something delicious this weekend! And transfer $20 to savings right now.

Okay bye!

Dinner$: Week 2

Heellooo! I survived my 50k! That’s a whole story for another time though. Let’s talk about dinner some more!

This is an easy week. Why? Because Erica is cooking for us twice this week and we’re going out to eat for Erica’s birthday on Friday! I know this goes against my whole not-eating-out thing but it’s a legitimate exception.

Let’s get to it!

Monday: Tuna Casserole (from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook)

This was a meal Erica made for us and it was delicious. It was basically cheesy, gooey mac n cheese with tuna in it and topped with jalapeno chips. Probably could have just cut the recipe in half!

Tuesday: Chicken Nuggets & Mac n Cheese

Erica was going to cook us salmon this night, but none of us were really in the mood for it and she ended up babysitting anyway! This meant that Patrick and I had to figure out dinner that we hadn’t planned for.

We went with a Nicolini-Mannon classic. Fake chicken nuggets (Quorn brand). And Annie’s Mac N Cheese. Two items that we almost always have on hand! So good. Feels like I’m 5 years old. Always satisfying!

Wednesday: Scallion Herb Chickpea Salad

Eaten #AlFresco. My favorite way to eat! I really enjoyed this one. I was skeptical at first, for whatever reason, but it was so fresh and creamy. I grabbed cilantro and parsley from one of the school garden’s I work at, so they were fresh and amazing. Also, pair it with chips. And lemonade spiked with cherry juice.

Also, this took maybe 3 minutes to whip up. I didn’t have the yogurt the recipe called for, so I subbed it with ricotta… I brought the leftovers in my lunch the next day and ate it with pita chips – highly recommend!

Thursday: Vegetable Pot Pie Skillet

Whoa buddy. This was awesome.

We followed the recipe to a T, except we added fake chicken to the mix and I used Red Lobster’s boxed biscuit mix instead of making my own. It was so warm and comforting and cooking it in the cast iron skillet was amazing.

Next time, I would cut the amount of biscuit I put on top in half because the biscuit to inside ratio was shockingly high! I would also make this with real chicken or would ground turkey, because I think that would rock.

Friday: Pinthouse Pizza

I didn’t take any pictures of this one! Patrick and I shared a large pizza that was half Honey Fig, half The Armadillo. Both were, unsurprisingly, excellent! Not going to lie, though. I think I get sick of pizza pretty easily. Especially since we made it last week!

I’ve enjoyed making food at home so much that going out to eat wasn’t that big of a deal!

I’m excited for what we’ve got lined up for this upcoming week! Stay tuned!

Dinner$: Week 1

This is some exciting news, y’all. Important things have happened in my life and I need to share. First, I discovered the joys of having a clean house. Imagine that! I don’t like to think I was a total slob, but I definitely only wiped down counters/surfaces when I noticed they were getting grimy. And I swept only when people were coming over… sometimes.

Fortunately for me, I stumbled across Clean Mama and got my act together. My new found cleaning habits, however, are for a different post some day. Today is about what having a clean kitchen taught me.

Cooking is really fun in a clean kitchen.

LOOK, I get it. Seems obvious. But don’t lie to yourself, it’s not as clear cut as it seems! I’ve always enjoyed cooking – I have a very Semi-homemade Sandra style of cooking btw – but found that in my kitchens since coming to college, it could become a frustrating experience and fell out of love with it.

I blamed it on the size of the kitchens. Little sinks, little counter spaces, ugh! Size does matter. 😉 BUT! It’s not a deal breaker if you’ve got a small kitchen.

If you have clear, cleaned off counters, cooking is a breeze and fun.

Tips I’ve learned so far:

  1. Make sure to do any dirty dishes chilling in the sink BEFORE you start cooking. Why? Because adding more dishes to the pile until they cascade out of the sink and avalanche onto your good mood is not worth your laziness. It takes 5 minutes, get on with it. (Listen to this podcast while you work & learn a lil, too. Why not?!)
  2. Clean your counters after you eat. JUST DO IT. Why? Again, because it can be done in a matter of seconds and makes the idea of cooking another meal so much nicer.
  3. Wear an apron. Why? Because you’ll feel like a fancy lil bish, that’s why.

Moving on…

Since having this revelation, I’ve rediscovered my love of cookbooks and cooking things that require slightly more than throwing a sheet pan in the oven. (Roasted sweet potatoes all dayyyyyyy.)

Additionally, y’all are all out here with your Dry January sin alcohol and I am refusing to eat out. Partially because I want to cook more, eating out is expensive, and I can probably make it at home anyway tbh.

So, to recap, I’m saving stacks on stacks on stacks, eating delicious home-cooked meals, and keeping my house clean?! I would say wife me up, but do this $h!t yourself! YOU CAN.

Anyway, to hold myself accountable with this cooking endeavor, and to hopefully inspire the odd reader that comes across this post, I figured I’d share what I’ve been cooking up. Cool? Cool. Wipe your counters.

Let’s get cooking. (Yep.)

Monday: Mushroom & Spinach Pasta with Ricotta

Okay, y’all… Here’s what happened. I doubled the pasta & then forgot to double everything else. I also didn’t have straight up spinach, so I used a spring mix (but I liked that sub). Ahhhhhh… It lacked on the flavor a lil, but we sprinkled on parmesan and the world was well. Here’s the thing though, ricotta is banging. I thought I didn’t like ricotta because it’s terrible in lasagnas, but things turned around after this meal.

Whole milk ricotta is key. It is so tasty and creamy and deserves to be held to the same level of cream cheese. I said it. Also, Pinthouse Pizza puts globs of it on their Greenbelt pizza and… *drools*.

Anyway, not a life-changing pasta but I survived. And it was my fault, but whateva.

Tuesday: Chickpea & Cauliflower Masala

Ooooh, she took pictures this time! We ate this with Trader Joe’s Garlic Naan and some plain white rice. It was pretty good! I’m spoiled with the Clay Pit, so I can be a critic of my own homemade Indian food.

Also, I accidentally made it pretty spicy – whoops! Help me out, tho. There’s a spice in the garam masala blend that I despise. Coriander? I also think cumin and ground ginger are a little eh? I don’t know! But some spice always sort of ruins Indian dishes – but only the ones I make at home – for me.

All in all, happy to eat the leftovers, probably won’t make again. Not because it wasn’t good, just because homemade Indian food never does it for me like I want it to!

Wednesday: Beyond Meat Sausages & Grilled Asparagus

Oh snap. This one is kudos to Patrick. Many moons ago we bought a lil grill that uses the small tanks of propane (like for a camp stove). It has been a game changer.

These were shockingly good for not being meat, too! Obviously, as seen above, we ate them like bougie hot dogs with sauteed bell peppers and onion and plenty of mustard. Patrick also grilled the asparagus with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and breadcrumbs. He said that was his secret ingredient.

The fake sausages are definitely not cheap – maybe $8 or $9 for 4 links, but definitely cheaper than bougie hot dogs out. Or the environmental cost of regular sausage.

All in all, I would buy those again but would split them length wise to grill. Or chop it up for a jambalaya!

Thursday: Tempeh Burrito Bowls

At this point you’re like, ummmm, does she make anything that’s not from Budget Bytes?? And the answer is YES, I just happened to be perusing her website when I was meal planning last week.

I forgot to take a picture because Patrick made this one while I was teaching Bodypump and so I came home and ate it right away. I, umm, also forgot to buy all the necessary ingredients so he had to just wing it a lil.

I liked it! I will say, we make our own burrito bowls with beans or Quorn meatless grounds and I think I prefer those versions over tempeh. They just have more flavor, I think! But we also didn’t do the recipe to a T, so that may be why as well.

Friday: Cast Iron Pizza (loosely inspired by Bon Appetit)

The stovetop is the only part of the kitchen that doesn’t get perfectly clean…

Ah, yes. The classic pizza night. We got this cast iron skillet for Christmas and have been putting it to work! I stumbled across a cast iron pizza recipe on Bon Appetit’s website and was inspired. We’ve made homemade pizza many times, but haven’t nailed it (in my opinion), so I wanted to do something different.

I used the pizza dough recipe from Bonnie Ohara’s Bread Baking for Beginners (a great book if you’re nervous about getting started)! It’s pretty straight forward once the dough is ready – you could also use store bought dough!

I preheated the skillet, added a tiny bit of oil, and then dropped the dough in there and spread it out to fit the skillet. For our toppings, we were trying to recreate Pinthouse Pizza’s Greenbelt, but didn’t actually have all the ingredients… #classic

So, on our pizza went tomato sauce, green & red bell peppers, mozzarella, garlic, and whole fat ricotta. I wish we had had cherry tomatoes, onion, and mushrooms.

All in all, it was pretty good! The dough was a soft, chewy texture that Erica compared to the Cici’s garlic bread “but in a good way!” I would probably make it again but with more exciting toppings and a nice coating of garlic butter on the dough before it’s topped!

And those were our dinners for the week, folks! We are headed the Hill Country today and tomorrow but are packing our meals to hopefully avoid eating out!

Also I’m running 31 miles tomorrow. Wish me luck.

I’ll see y’all next week for more fun meals!

Bye!

Juliana

2020 Goals or Whateva

I am not super into resolutions. Although, I love the idea of them! In my own experience, I tend to get overambitious and don’t think through how I’d ever actually stick to the resolutions. Eventually, they ultimately fail and I’m just bummed.

That being said, the time between Christmas and New Years may be my second favorite time of year (spring always being the first). I love the excited energy people have about wrapping up a year and moving into a new one. Resolutions may not work for me, but others seem driven by the change they hope for in the new year and I love that.

Fortunately, in recent years, I was reminded and encouraged to set SMART goals in my life (thanks, Jackie!). After some trial and error, I learned to set goals that I can actually achieve and create steps to achieve them. Some are bigger than others, but they all utilize actionable steps. I’m not going to lie, some of these aren’t wildly specific (the S in SMART, lol), but I don’t want to think of something random. The specificity will come when it comes.

Without further adieu, my 2020 Goals: An Working List for an Evolving Person!

Max out my IRA contributions

In 2019 I opened my Roth IRA. I auto-contribute each month, but it was sort of a pitiful amount. I recently increased my contributions, but I think I could do better. This one will be tricky because my job contract will end in Austin and we’ll be moving and I’ll be finding a new job in DC. Fortunately, I think I’ll have gained enough experience in my side hustles (thank you, fitness) to be pretty marketable when we get to DC, if I don’t get full-time hired right away. Part of how I plan on doing this is by attempting at least two no-spend days per week.

Visit somewhere new

This one is already set to happen, but I have specific guidelines for it. I want to visit somewhere new, with Patrick, once we are already living in DC. This could mean taking an Amtrak to Boston or seeing a Broadway show in NYC!

Read a book a month (at least)

I really want to be in a book club. I’ve looked around for some in Austin, but haven’t had much luck! Either way, I want to read at least one book a month. Believe you me, I can fly through a book once I’m into it, but I occasionally I read so fast that I can’t get myself to start another.

Pursue finance, professionally

This is sort of vague. All I know is that I want to get finance on my resume, in some form or fashion. That could be through volunteering, an internship, a job, or what have you. Financial social work is where I want my career to go, so I need to take steps that way.

PR my half marathon

Not going to lie, this is a bit lofty. The time itself is not out of reach, there’s just a lot going on this year! And this will take lots of injury prevention and effort. I run my ultra in a week and a half (what!!) and will take time off of running after that, so I intend to start this in mid to late spring.

And that’s what I’ve got! Five goals felt manageable. I’m sure I’ll still set smaller goals for myself, month to month, but they will hopefully be stepping stones to achieve these big five. I also want to start blogging more, so maybe tracking these goals and their progress will be a main topic to write more on. We’ll see!

It’s so cliche to talk about how 2020 will be so different, because nothing becomes different unless you actually do something different. That being said, I am looking forward to 2020 because so. much. is. happening. It’ll be potentially the biggest year of my life so far and I am excited and intimidated and ready!

I’ll: run my ultra, go to Las Vegas for the first time, turn 25, get married, move to DC, start my first field placement for the MSW, leave a job, get a new job, (hopefully) buy a house, and so much more! It’ll be grand.

Anyway, have a safe and happy new year!

Love,

Juliana

hi

things I am absolutely loving lately (in no particular order):

daily hot chocolate with caramel whipped cream

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (& Christmas) music

wandering around Target to enjoy the Christmas decorations

6 am yoga classes

foam rolling

fine tuning my budget sheet

turning the heater on in my car

thinking about 2020

turning the oven on

drinking my morning coffees with a splash of milk

the colorful leaves on the ground

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

perusing fun recipes on the internet

watching funny youtube videos and laughing out loud

watching The Great British Baking Show with Patrick

being able to wear my wintery pajama pants

baking bread and other goodies

edison bulb string lights

walking the dogs when it’s still light out

Patrick making me breakfast when I teach back to back BP classes

hanging out with family

making going out to eat an occasion

herbal tea from Trader Joe’s – although my favorite fall one is gone 😦

wearing leggings because it’s finally cold enough!

hanging around the house with my hood up

and that’s all for now, folks!

Things You Deserve

A non-comprehensive list:

  • decadent warm beverages in the afternoon
  • people who respect your boundaries
    • emotionally, financially, physically
  • fresh baked bread
  • a livable wage
  • annual check ups
    • and other appointments when you need them, in a timely manner
  • 100% acceptance for who you are
    • this includes the process of figuring out who that is
  • dogs to cuddle at night
  • a pair of sandals that can handle anything you throw at them
  • a pair of pajama pants with some ridiculous pattern on them
    • mine have llamas carrying christmas presents and wearing santa hats
  • music that makes you feel what you need to feel
  • food that satisfied you physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  • friends that are just there
    • even when you think they shouldn’t be
  • recognition that people love you
    • a people who will never let you forget
  • something pretty to look at in your daily life
  • an outfit that makes you feel like a boss
  • safety when you walk on the street
  • the same rights as the white man on Wall Street
  • a little garden to tend to
    • full of herbs to calm your mind
  • a creative outlet
    • mine is still dance
  • to shuck the expectations others have of you
    • and for others to remember your boundaries
  • a positive mental space when you look in the mirror
    • remember: you actually are beautiful
  • self-respect
  • an extra hair tie that is magically always there when you need it
  • sweat stain-proof white clothing
  • movement that makes you feel good
  • the time to make a list of your own

What would you add?

Much love,

Juliana

How I Handle Myself

Self-care is all the rage these days. And rightly so, it’s wildly important to take care of your physical, mental, and emotion well-being. My relationship with self-care has always been on and off. Mostly because I hate the stereotypical ideas for self-care that are typically projected into the world.

They feel so corny and cringy and typically feel pretty directed towards women as if men don’t need self-care, too. I also think the phrase itself is a little ehhh. Self-care makes me feel like I am a baby in need of help.

Nah. I’m not a baby in need of care. I’m a badass bitch from hell who handles herself and her shit. (Most of the time. It’s not always easy. Sometimes the handling doesn’t go well. Whateva!)

If you know me, you probably know that I would describe my current chapter of life as “straight hustling”. I work a full-time job, I am a part-time, online grad student, I teach swim lessons and Bodypump, I am training for an ultramarathon, and I volunteer with CASA.

Now, I know that your level of busy and stressed is a status symbol in life right now, for whatever weird reason. So I don’t say that to boast or garner pity.

After all, I literally signed myself up for all of it. What it does mean, however, is that my time is limited and precious and that I am typically on the go quite a bit. It also means that I have become pretty good at focusing on my task at hand so that I can try to commit fully to whatever I am doing in that moment.

I am definitely not perfect at that. Some things are more time-sensitive than others or are just higher on my priority list. I make exceptions when I need to. For example, when my brain is fried from school, I make the decision to not cram a new Bodypump release into my brain, I just teach an older one.

ANYWAY, in the midst of all this stuff, it can be easy for me to forget to handle my own self. Except, it’s also impossible for me to forget. Mostly because I’ve realized in the last year that when I am not handling myself, I can’t do anything else well.

Unintentionally I developed some practices that I utilize almost daily to ensure that my physical, mental, and emotional well-beings are in tip top shape. Or at least solid enough for me move on!

How I Handle Myself

A non-comprehensive, personal list of “self-care” practices I engage in that work well enough for me and might be useful for you but also maybe not I am not a psychic:

  1. Movement. Unless I am feeling tired or ill, movement of some sort always helps me out. This is walking, running, bodypumping, moving around in the pool while teaching a swim lesson, dancing to Woman by Kesha in the kitchen while doing dishes. Anything to get the blood flowing and my brain calmer. This is why I am able to run so much, lol. It’s a solid amount of fresh air, away from my house and it keeps me sane.
  2. Being a savage on social media. Let me explain. A couple months ago I went on a massive unfollowing spree. I basically went down my following list on Insta and decided if I knew that person well enough to care about their day to day or if they inspired me. If the answer to either of those questions was ‘no’, I unfollowed. I also have a relatively (again, not perfect at this) zero-tolerance policy. So if someone irritates me or rubs me the wrong way, I unfollow. I have enough to think about, so someone dumb on social media should not be taking up my mental capacity.
  3. Eating what I want to eat. And not caring about it. It took me a while to foster a healthy relationship with food – and I don’t mean it took me a while to start eating “healthy” food. My healthy relationship with food means I eat what I want, when I want and there is no mental commentary or battle at all. If I am craving two glasses of OJ to chug this morning, I am going to chug two glasses of OJ. If I feel like I want some solid nutrients in my life, I’ll have a salad with cheese on it, for sure. A donut from HEB at 8:30pm? I’m into it. Sure, the calories give me energy to do all my stuff, but no energy is wasted on an emotional war in my head about what I choose to eat.
  4. Being my own hype woman. When’s the last time you looked in your mirror and just high-key complimented yourself out loud. You are a beautiful powerful creature and you deserve to hear it. I like saying things out loud to myself because I am never wrong. 😉 So if I say I’m looking fly today and I can do literally anything, I can.
  5. Being honest. I could go on all day about this. At first it seems a little intimidating because vulnerability is hard for many of us and seems like it can come with consequences, but it is worth it. If I tell people I trust that I am having a hard day or am exhausted or completely frazzled, they know what to expect and how to react. If I don’t, they might be totally shocked by my attitude, which is sucky to them. It is also sucky for me, if I don’t tell them the truth, because then I play the stupid mind game of “oh did I upset them? Are they mad at me?” It also works in the reverse. Yesterday Patrick hurt my feelings. I straight up told him that he hurt my feelings and I did not like it. And guess what? We handled it and went home and ate our chilaquiles together pleasantly. No more emotional or mental taxation.
  6. Enjoying what I want to enjoy. And not caring what other people say about it. Right now, this means all things fall-related. It also means never shutting up about my social work coursework. Loving the things you love makes life way more fun, even if they aren’t the “cool things”. Be like this guy.
  7. Drinking a lot of water. I get gnarly headaches when I am even slightly dehydrated, so this one matters a lot. I also have a tiny bladder, so sometimes the water is an issue but it’s still worth it.
  8. Being organized. I love my phone calendar. It is colored and organized and detailed and, when everything else feels like a mess, at least I know what’s coming up in the next day or week. It allows me to prioritize what needs to get done and what things I should prepare for myself moving forward.
  9. Taking a break. For school stuff, I work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. Sometimes in that 5 minutes I hang out with Patrick, sometimes I do the dishes, sometimes I do other work, and sometimes I sit on the couch with the dogs. This also means that I try my hardest not to do anything work-related after 5pm. If I feel fatigued or just not in the mood, I reschedule runs. Cut yourself some slack. Draw some boundaries.
  10. Read a book. This is not a new concept, but it is new to me. Typically, when I read, I read very quickly and I read like 15 books in two months. And then I get burnt out and don’t read for another year. I recently started reading, at minimum, two chapters of a book right before bed. It helps me control how quickly I read, stay off my phone before I go to sleep, and it helps me sleep better. I also have chosen books that are interesting and help me learn more about myself and the world.

Those are 10 things I could identify as I sat here in front of my laptop, but they are invaluable to me.

Okay bye

Love,

Juliana

P.S. When is Trader Joe’s going to release all of the pumpkin stuff? Asking for ME!!!!

august.

When I initially sat down to write a blog post, I was going to just summarize the last few weeks.

I went on a Utah/Colorado road trip with my sisters that included driving miles down the wrong dirt road, hiking, sand sledding, and climbing a 32 foot ladder on the side of a cliff face.

Delicate Arch
Balcony House tour at Mesa Verde NP
Sunset on BLM land

I also flew to St. Louis to meet Patrick to drive to Illinois for a wedding in his hometown.

So I was going to write about all of that. Why? I don’t really know. I just felt like it! But then I stumbled across this…

And if that ain’t the truth. I honestly can’t remember if I wrote much about my summer last year. I think once I had the realization that I had come out on the other side whole and breathing, I didn’t really care to think much about it anymore.

July and August of 2018 were really hard for me. I faced self-doubt from the moment I woke up until I fell asleep. I felt like I had failed myself. The present I was living was nothing like the future I had imagined for myself.

I was ashamed of my part-time job. I was ashamed to not be working in a non-profit. I felt like I would never be able to do the work I dreamt of doing. And because we put such an emphasis on “success” in our world, my self-perceived career “failure” easily became my own personal failure in my mind.

My self-doubt called into question my self-worth. If I couldn’t contribute to society in the way I had wanted to, then I wasn’t valuable at all. Even a year ago, some small part of my mind knew all of that was a lie. But, buddy, it’s so easy to stay in your little hole of despair. Things are consistent down there. You know how you’ll feel and it takes so much of your energy that you don’t have to make any effort to better anything.

Fortunately, I learned to cut myself some damn slack.

I realized that giving myself some grace, cutting myself some slack, was not the same as giving up completely. I just finally decided to treat myself the same way I would treat anyone I loved going through the same thing. It didn’t mean that all my woes were suddenly solved. It didn’t mean that I suddenly felt great all the time. It meant that I had decided to get out of my little hole and just lay on the ground next to it, instead. Kneeling. Standing. Walking. Running. All of that would come later. August 2018, I climbed out of the hole, laid on the ground, and thought “alright, world. where do we go from here?”

Fast forward a year. Where did we go?

I went forward. I feel like I’ve spent the last year of my life straight hustling. Sometimes it feels like too much, sometimes it feels like I’ve got it all under control. I know there’s that whole balance thing we should all go for, but that’s so much easier said than done. I learned to prioritize tasks and emotions. I learned how to only let in what builds me up instead of tears me down. I will say, the door for that has a crappy latch, so sometimes the negative stuff gets in. Just because I finally learned how to do it does not mean I nail it all the time.

Just because I know how to wash the dishes does not mean I’m going to say no if Patrick offers to do it instead. Patrick gets it.

I still struggle with self-doubt and self-worth time to time. I kind of developed a mantra that I tell myself when I feel myself start to doubt.

Juliana, you’re literally the only one that cares about this.

Because any attack on my confidence or self-worth only holds weight if I care what people think. When I take that power away and give it solely to myself, I can quickly follow it up with a shoulder shrug and “whateva whateva”.

Healthiest coping mechanism? Probably not, but I am running with it for now.

ANYWAY. I made it through stronger, braver, weirder, and a little more caffeine-dependent.

I have a feeling the next few years of my life are going to throw a lot my way (don’t they always?) and I have a pledge. Or maybe an endeavor? Whateva whateva.

I want to be as honest as possible with myself about my energy levels, my emotions, and my priorities. I want to cut myself some slack and I want to hold myself accountable. I want to cry it out when I need to (healing) and I want to put my foot down and handle that shit. I want to write when I need to think things through. I want to share what I think with the world. I want to be brought down a peg and I wanted to be supported. I want to do more and do less. I want to fill my cup and give some away too.

August 2019 is just another month. But we’re a far cry from August 2018. I can’t wait to see what it brings.

Love,

Juliana