Sep 30, 2009

October Challenges

Well, tomorrow starts a new day and it’s time for a new set of challenges to add to my 52 Weeks collection. First up will be the on-going challenges and my one carryover challenge:

→Declutter apartment room by room – Here I should probably differentiate between clutter and cleanliness. The two are not mutually exclusive, like I would consider my apartment to be clean but cluttered. So the goal here is to move to that more is less mind frame and actually reduce the amount of stuff I have. It’s about evaluating what I have into what I need and use or what I want but don’t use.
→DivaCup Mastery – October will be my second month of my DivaCup challenge. A recap is that I want to use my DivaCup for two full days of my cycle for two months before I make a decision to incorporate the DivaCup into my monthly routine or just break it out on occasion. I’ll give a full report on this either the end of October or early November.
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room – This is my one carryover from last month that I was hoping to have completed by October 1. I have finally cleared away everything on the desk and posted the desk for sale, now it’s just a matter of getting a buyer. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be sold quickly.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment – Slowly but surely the pre-packaged, chemical filled items are being used up. I’ll continue to post on the bigger items that are replaced by eco-friendly alternatives.

On to the October specific challenges! This month it’s all about getting me healthy.
→Ban fast food – I have a fast food problem. It’s easy and convenient, but oh so bad for me and that’s why I have to declare a fast food ban.
→Begin a daily meditation – I do a guided meditation once a month and love how relaxed I feel even on the days that have been crazy. A daily meditation will force me to stop and slow down from the fast pace I tend to live at.
→Eliminate meat from my diet – This should be fairly easy since I have stopped preparing meat at home and with the fast food ban I will be enforcing. The only temptation will be when I eat at a restaurant (which I already know I will have to on the 7th) but should not be all that often.
→Introduce Green Smoothies into my diet – This will by far be my hardest challenge of the month as I do not like vegetables. Lettuce you can forget me even trying that one again, but I will give metallicy spinach another try with lots of berries to try to cover the taste and hide the color. My goal for this challenge is to do a 1-2-3-4 approach; 1 green smoothie in the first week, 2 green smoothies in the second week, etc. and hopefully by week 4 I’ll have changed my mind on spinach (as least in a smoothie).

Sep 29, 2009

September Wrap Up

Well, September is finally winding down. It feels like an incredibly long month with all the uncertainty and emotional ups and downs with the job situation. But I have survived, and I’m actually looking forward to an extended break from work to finish my masters and work on getting me healthy (which is the theme for October’s challenges). So on with the recap of how I’m doing with my challenges.

✔Get that body moving -- I have worked the Five Tibetan Rites in about 15 days this month. The idea was more, but I’m happy to have made progress. I will continue to try and work them into my new daily routine.
✔Shut down and unplug electronics -- I’m happy to report that this challenge turned out to be one of the easiest of the month with the exception of my desktop. This week the shut down script gets modified with an earlier time and I will be removing the desktop from my sleeping quarters at some point this week.
✔Switch to eco-friendly dish detergent -- This again was easy as I don’t use my dishwasher very often. I have noticed that I need to be more careful and pre rinse some items. But I am other wise happy with the switch and will continue to use it.
✔Turn down the AC and keep it down -- The positive effect this had on my electricity bill has proved that the heat is well worth the cost. I’m just hoping as the cold weather sets in I’ll be able to keep it up, maybe the down stairs neighbors will keep their heat up high and that will help. And I have my down comforter back and that will definitely keep me toast.
→Declutter apartment room by room -- Progress is still slow on the home front of decluttering, but I did finally manage to clean off the desk in the living room which was a huge feat. This one remains open but with the amount of time I will be spending at home starting in October I suspect this will quickly be managed. I also managed to sell a few things on Craig’s List that either I no longer needed (the TV stand) and items that had never been opened.
→DivaCup Mastery -- I’ll let you know how this goes after the two month experiment is over.
→Give away/sale oversized desk in living room -- The desk is going up on Craig’s List tonight. I can’t believe that it’s finally cleared off. That was probably the biggest battle in completing this challenged.
→Use up pre-packaged items in apartment -- Slowly but surely the prepackaged items are making their way out of my apartment. This morning I finished my mouth wash and my never ending supply of tooth paste is dwindling (though I actually got a travel size tube in the mail last month..crazy!).

I thought I’d also give an update on how I’ve progressed with my challenges from August.
✔Give away TV -- I have no regrets about this one. My desktop functions perfectly as my movie station and I didn’t have cable before so I’m not loosing access to anything.
✔Give up using handicap parking spaces -- I still struggle with this one as I try to use other spaces, but when pressed for time or just feeling lazy when there is a crowd I have used the handicap parking. I’m aware now and will double my efforts even on the crappies of days to look a little harder.
✔Switch to eco-friendly laundry detergent -- I love the smell of the laundry detergent. It last a good while and my clothes seem to be holding up with no new issues.
✔Take unused items to the Salvation Army -- I have a few boxes in the need to take now mode, but over all I’ve been doing good with continuing to donate to the Salvation Army.
✔Unplug and Freecycle flat iron -- The only times I miss the flat iron is on days I’m lazy and don’t feel like taking the time to do my hair. But I do enjoy the slight lessening of clutter in the bathroom.
✔Use Freecycle and Craig's List to declutter apartment -- See above, I’m making progress and I’m pleased as punch with myself for the effort.

Sep 28, 2009

An Extra Week

Well, that burning question for me finally has an answer. So "Will Hope have a job on Oct. 1st?" Why, yes for exactly seven more days in fact. My contract was extended seven days, though it doesn't look like it will be extended any further than that. But I'm still awaiting confirmation on that.

After having 40+ applications in and two dead-end interviews I have come to terms with the fact that I'm supposed to finish my masters. I'm one scary 80 paper away from it, so I'm gonna take the plunge, cross my fingers and hope come January I've received at least an interview or two that has lead to a job offer. Really with only 11 even weeks to write 80 pages for someone who doesn't write fluff I would be hard pressed to managed with a full time job so I'm going to look at it as a blessing. Even when I thought the class was going to start is a week later so tagging on an extra seven days will leave me with exactly four days to relax before jumping into the scary world of my Directed Research Project.

Sep 24, 2009

Status on the AC

Well the AC has been off for 24 days and I haven’t died from heat exhaustion or frozen in my sleep. There have only been a handful of days when I was even tempted to turn on the AC due to the heat, but I have persevered and the proof of the saving is in black and white on my bill. The difference from last month’s bill to this month’s bill is over $20, and from this month and the month before that was over $35. The previous month I ran the AC only on the weekends and the occasional evening. I don’t ever recall my electricity bill for a full month being this low.

Going back and checking my bills since being at this apartment (Apr. 2008), this month’s bill is lower than my first partial month. The difference from 1 year ago is over $20 for September. I’d like to see my bills become more consistent over the next three months instead of jumping around as they have in the past from month to month. I know this past month was made easier for me to keep the AC off because I spent 8 hours a day five days a week in a cube directly under the AC vent on full blast and freezing my buns off, so the heat of the apartment was actually a welcomed retreat at the end of the day. The electricity bill history has been significantly higher during months in which I spent a great deal at home. Hopefully since I am now more conscious of it, I won’t be tempted to us abuse the AC.

The real challenge will come as it gets cooler and I will be at the apartment more. Thankfully my down comforter is being rescued from the cleaners and I can once again wrap myself up in my blanket of warmth as I piddle about the apartment. And I’m sure my sweatpants will see plenty of use in the coming months.

Sep 21, 2009

Good Bye TV Stand

Though I would have loved to have spent the entire weekend decluttering my apartment, I have to say I did not. Instead I had a movie feast in bed most of the weekend with a major headache and then insomnia.

I did however manage to wash a load of dishes, and do three loads of laundry. And I managed to sell my empty TV stand. I also pulled a few things out of the spare bedroom for the living room. The cat tree is finally in use again by the cats (much to their excitement) and I pulled out my rocking chair. This opened up a bit more space in the over crowded second bedroom and allowed me to be able to open the closets in there.

I applied for a government job on Friday, and discovered that I needed a copy of the transcripts and spend most of Friday running around trying to get a fax of the transcript sent in, but no such luck apparently transcripts aren’t fax by any school which kinda sucks because the transcript had to be faxed in for the application and they wouldn’t except a mailed copy. The announcement closes today so I’m hoping an unofficial copy of the transcript will be ok and I can fax the official transcript when it arrives later this week.

One of my former co-works is looking for a mattress and box spring set, and I’m thinking of selling mine and just sleeping on the futon sofa. I had been planning on getting rid of the mattress anyway when I move (be in overseas or when my lease is up). I have until the end of the month to make the decisions. I’d like to get some more cleaning/decluttering done before I make that final decision.

Sep 17, 2009

It's that time again...

As the month creeps on, I figured it was time for another “Is Hope gonna have a job come Oct. 1?” updates. The short answer is I don’t know. But here’s the shorter version of the long version: My boss doesn’t know. The bean counters don’t know. The contractor doesn’t know. It all comes down to $$ and like all government run programs everyone is point their fingers at each other to place the blame. Come on people all I want is a job and the client (who happens to be my current boss) want me to continue working for her. This should be a no brainer. Her team requires so many people; she wants me to fill one of those slots. It’s not like she’s asking for a new spot that they had no idea about. *cough*my old boss*cough cough*

The end result: a lot of frustration on all parts.

ETA on budget blunder resolution: Last week, it was last week; this week is ummmm…errrr…can I get back to you?

So my stress levels are through the roof, and I can’t seem to quiet my brain to sleep so I’m still staying up watching movies on my iMac until all hours of the night. Even when I’m dead tired, I don’t want to stop the movies because that little nagging voice that goes “you’re not gonna be able to survive” “you’ll be forced into bankruptcy” etc. sets in and my anxiety gets even worse. Damn you Netflix and your Watch Instantly selections. So I’m gonna have to dig my heals in a little harder and be more persistent with when the script starts, the computers is shut down end of story no matter where I am in the movie or episode. If I manage to fail at this by next Friday, the script gets edited to go off an hour earlier. Sleep is important. I must have sleep in order to be a polite functioning human and not a grumpy holograph of a humanoid.

In lighter news I managed to remove the cat pee soaked sofa (sorry Aizawa but Oscar ruined it beyond repair even by the amazing Nature’s Miracle Odor Remove Oxy-stuff) all by myself. Considering it took my best friend, her dad, sister and then boyfriend (did I forget anyone?) to get the couch into the apartment it’s a minor miracle that I was able to remove by myself. I might just need to borrow some paint from maintenance to fix the wall. It was quiet a feat and there were many points along the way where I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get it out the door, but with my stubbornness I was able to conquer the challenge.

With the couch and TV gone (and the TV stand on the way out) the living room is looking empty, but that just means that I need to drag out stuff from the over stuffed spare bedroom. When it comes time to bring out the futon, I’m not sure how I’m going to manage that one: it came in pieces and I didn’t put it together. Hopefully the manual is helpful?

Sep 14, 2009

The Power of Postive Thinking

So I was feeling a little down for myself with this whole "woe is me, I might not have a job at the end of the month" blues I can't kick and I was reminded of the power of positive thinking last week. I'm a complete believer in the power of positive thinking, but I had subcomed to the negative impact the human species tends to have on thinking. Positive thinking is not an easy task when I'm freaking out (however big or small) about how I'm going to manage until my next paycheck, then realize that I may be a month out before I have any cash on hand for staples like groceries (granted my pantry isn't barren yet). So commence positive thinking. Here on in it's not if I have a new job or when I have a new job, it's my new job.

One of the things that really help propel me with my positive thinking is working with my less is more mantra. Apparently the universe was trying to give me a sign as one the blogs I read regularly had a link to the following article at Mindful Mama. Ok, before you go "but you don't have kids Hope!" just click the link.

Did ya?

Sometimes I need a little reminder that less is more, especially when I'm feeling the financial crunch like so many other Americans.

First step in getting me out of my funk is re-instituting the script on my iMac that forces it to shut down at a certain time. Why you may ask. Because if I'm sleeping I can't be freaking out and it will give my body the much needed rest to try and heal from it's everyday abuses or this nagging sinus infection that three weeks on.

Next step reduce. I'll be going back to the kitchen and see where I can reduce in there as I can't seem to get my sink empty for trying these days. Then it's on to complete the declutter of the living room. Then off to the spare bedroom, which wasn't looking too shabby the last time I dared to look when I opened the door. Then it's off to the bathroom which is looking better, but there is always room for improvement. And finally back to by bedroom and closet.

Third step, make sure I'm not cooped up in the apartment when I'm not freezing my buns off at work. I'm actually doing pretty good at this one, I just got to balance running like a mad woman during the week and refusing to leave my bedroom on the weekends.

Sep 11, 2009

100 Hits!

I hit 100 yesterday on my counter!

In other news, I'm exhausted and dead tired from a roller coaster week. Thank goodness it was a short week and I had given myself an extra-long long weekend. The sinus infection is still raging war giving me a lovely sinus headache.

However, I am doing my best to keep my spirits up, and was kindly reminded last night at my women's circle to keep thinking in the positive. Set my intention that the job is mine and let the universe catch up to that kind of thinking.

So far I feel I'm doing good on my September challenges 10 days in. The AC at the apartment has not been touched since August 30th, and I haven't died from heat exhaustion yet, but that's probably because it seems the heat has finally given way to the beginnings of autumn (at least this week anyway). Lamps are now officially the only items continuously plugged in that are not on surge protectors, but do happen to be in the plugs connected to the light switches; everything else is unplugged until needed. I've also got a few things listed on Craig's List to help declutter the apartment, but after the initial posting buzz I haven't find a buyer (that actually shows up). I'll give them a couple more days before I give way to Freecycle. My goal for this weekend is to finally finish clearing off the desk in the living room. It's no where near as bad as it was originally, but it's still not cleared off so it can be sold. I did fantastic my first week doing the Five Tibetan Rites, but my long weekend saw me skip a few days and getting back in the habit felt a little off kilter. But I persisted and increase my reps and feeling good about my body moving.

My War on Junk Mail is still going strong, I'm taking one day a week to contact all the junk mail perpetrators. It's still a few weeks before my mailbox will see the benefits but it feels good to be contacting various offenders and telling them to cut it out.

Sep 9, 2009

Shut down and unplug electronics

I can officially say that the only thing that isn't plugged into a powerstrip or on a switch is my alarm clock. Everything else has been unplugged until it's needed and the computers are turned off while I'm away from the apartment with the exception of the kitchen appliances. I wasn't sure if this was going to be an easy change, but the reality is that most things were plugged in for convince but rarely used. New perspective. I'm happy to have made this change.

Sep 8, 2009

Back at things

I’m back after a glorious four-day weekend, yes I said four-day weekend thanks to taking Friday off. After getting some much-needed rest, my apartment finally got some much-needed attention/cleaning. For once the laundry got done before the workweek started and I managed to find the kitchen counters again. I finally finished the dishwasher detergent and replaced is with Seventh Generation’s lemon liquid dishwasher detergent. So far I like it, but I’ve really cut down on my dishwasher use so it may take some time to really form an opinion. The highlight of my weekend was getting to spend the day with my best friend and her family at the Maryland Renaissance Faire. Be proud everyone, I didn't purchase anything at the Faire other than some fries.

The “interview” was today, but it was like the project manager chatting with me to find out what I was doing on the team and claiming he didn’t know I’d been added to the team and saying he’d have to check the budget before he could tell me whether or not they would be able to find me a place. I didn’t leave it with warm fuzzy, he basically told me that I was too expensive for his budget plus he was completely unprepared to interview me. It was not an interview it was a chat with a current employee.

Sep 5, 2009

Cat Litter Hunt

I’ve been shopping around for the perfect cat litter for some time now. Last month I tried Yesterday’s News. It was difficult and in the end I couldn’t wait for the bag to be empty. The ammonia smell was terrible, and it couldn’t be scooped. Two big negatives. I had previous used Feline Pine clumping. Feline Pine didn’t smell, but it tracked all over the apartment. I was out of littler last week and grab some Arm n’ Hammer litter. After several months without perfumed cat litter, the perfume from the Arm n’ Hammer is killing me. I can’t wait to get through this litter and try another one.

Sep 4, 2009

Still sneezy, but rested

I’m alive, still stuffy, but enjoyed the start to my holiday weekend. After a night a sneezing, I was thankful not to have to go into work today. Instead I started catching up on my much-needed sleep. And that’s the plan for the rest of the weekend, with some apartment cleaning.

I finally got the interview set up with the new contractor at work. It’s for Tuesday. I was supposed to have it before the week was out, but they took their time in getting back to me with a date and time. I also got some face time in with my current bosses and they gave me a create project to work on with the possibility to take on some more technical web admin type work. Hopefully the new contractor will make me a nice offer and I can give my notice. It’s not really the job I want, but at this point my job is up at the end of the month and I have to pay my bills until I get my dream job or what I really want is just a job away from the area. It’s one step at a time, a little job security while I’m waiting is a nice advantage.

Sep 2, 2009

New Month, Feels Like New Beginnings

It’s only day two, but I’ve got a good feeling about this month’s challenges. Despite having a sever sinus infection (I finally went to the doctor yesterday), I feel like things are going well. I’ve been doing the Five Tibetan Rites every morning this week, even though I really would have loved to stay in bed for a few more minutes. I also moved my iMac off the desk in the living room so that I can resume clearing it off in preparation to sale/get rid of it. I also shut down and unplugged my iBook last night, and turned off the iMac before heading off to work this morning (I went to bed watching a movie).

And the biggest news from the 1st day of this new month is that I finally got a call from the new contractor taking over the contract at work. It’s not what I want, but will definitely hold over until I get the call from overseas. I’ve got to pay bills until I get that call, so I’ll take this. An interview will be set up for sometime before the week is out and then in two weeks I can officially start working for the new company, which really means the only change will be from where my pay check comes and possibly new insurance (which means that hopefully I can get my new bridge within a few months…stupid dental insurance now won’t pay for it because they gave me a new one last year even though that one broke my tooth when it feel out).