Late gratitude.

Today 07.25.2014:

I’m feeling: contemplative.

I’m listening to: one of my co-workers blasting music in Spanish.  It’s the end of the work week and big bosses took the day off, so why not.

I’m thinking: I’ve come a long way, but still have a very long way to go.  I shouldn’t let life get in the way of blogging weekly or so.  I need a real vacation.

I’m reading: The Social Work Interview. Only a few pages in, but at least that’s a start?

I’m looking forward to: getting my hair done; it has been over 3 months.  Having next Friday off for seeing my stepmother & sister next weekend.  Getting away for that weekend.  The time when I’ll be able to really travel again.  The time when I’ll finally be back on my feet, independent again.

I’m learning that: I’ve come a long way, but still have a very long way to go and more self-work to do.  Sometimes, just listening is all a person needs to begin healing.  (Luckily as an introvert, listening is one thing I do alright.)  I don’t have to allow someone else’s negativity to affect me.  I’m seeing how some people give without expecting anything back in return.  I may have to do even more than I’m already doing to lose weight (and trust me, I’m tracking & doing everything possible).  Expecting less = less disappointment.

I’m enjoying: my aunt’s NutriBullet juices & smoothies.  The experimentation has been quite tasty.

I’m grateful for: being employed in spite of the job being imperfect.  The ability to buy a bus ticket to see my stepmother & sister.  Paying off 3 debts so far this year.  Doing the tarot reading that my friend kept insisting I should try; it was a new experience and gave me lots of food for thought.  My aunt & uncle.  My stepfather.  Learning something new every day. Dodging literal bullets.  Joining the gym.  Finding a Groupon deal for the local kickboxing gym; it helps me mix up my exercise/workout while saving a few bucks.  Finally making & completing one of my doctor’s appointments.  Living in a peaceful home with aunt & uncle from the very start – they say it’s my energy/spirit/aura, but surely it isn’t just me contributing.  Chatting with my friend’s daughter in England on Whatsapp – she’s getting married next year, very happy for her and will definitely attend.  Getting a call from another expatriate who’s still in England but hopefully returning here soon – it was so good to hear from them.

Around the house are: fans and an air conditioner.

In the kitchen: fruits that aunt bought to experiment with juices & smoothies.

In the coming week, I plan to: follow-up with one more doctor’s appointment. Cook once or twice. Work out (as usual). Get a lock for the gym locker. Weigh myself (for better or worse, it hasn’t been done in over a month and it needs doing).  Work late to have Friday off to see my stepmother & sister. Speak with someone who can verify my hours for my next professional license paperwork & test.  Think even more about my tarot reading – so much food for thought.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: Growing Pains

Weekly update 06.29.2014.

Today:

I’m feeling: neither here nor there.

I’m listening to: blowing fans keeping us cool. The TV – FIFA World Cup Costa Rica vs. Greece with my uncle. (Haven’t followed the World Cup aside from this, to be honest. Basketball is more my game.)

I’m thinking: I’m so glad that this is a short work week. I want to re-start studying Portuguese again. I need to brush up on my Spanish; I took it for too many years (even minored in it in college) to just let it die. I need to update my résumé, fill out some paperwork for the next highest professional license, and apply for another credential. I wonder if I should take up my friend’s offer of getting a psychic reading? Never did one before…

I’m reading: nothing now, but that should change this coming week, as my now-former supervisor gave me 2 more reading books for my profession. I should be able to get myself a Kindle in July.

I’m looking forward to: having a short work week. Going to the gym; it really impressed me and I look forward to going regularly. Paying off 1 debt. Having something to do for the weekend (hopefully).

I’m learning that: I must stop always feeling the need to explain myself. Losing weight won’t mean much if my self-confidence is negative. Nothing will get done unless I do it – someone on my social media news feed said “Never ask for help. The ones who tell you don’t be afraid to ask are the same ones who claim they can’t help.” and sadly, I must agree. It isn’t even from a place of frustration anymore; it’s just a resigned acceptance and the story of most of my life.

I’m enjoying: these pita chips, which are healthier than buying & eating a bunch of cookies.

I’m grateful for: taking a free Krav Maga class last week, although it made me quite nostalgic about taking it while overseas. (I can admit that sometimes, I miss that place in spite of what they did to me. Blog post about that coming soon.) Joining the gym. My stepfather. My aunt & uncle. The ability to choose to stay away from (potential & definite) toxic situations with toxic people. My work team (minus upper management). Speaking to my friend’s daughter in England earlier today – I miss their family so much.

Around the house are: lazy folks enjoying a lazy weekend.

In the kitchen: new groceries.

I’m planning this week to: follow-up with the doctor’s office – doing the job of 3 people at work makes me quite forgetful, and it is time for me to just write a note so that I don’t keep forgetting because my health is more important that any job. Cook once or twice. Go to the gym. Get extra workout clothing and a lock for the gym locker. Do something for the long weekend. Look for a ticket to see my stepmother & sister since I couldn’t see them this weekend after all (long story).

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: none that I can think of for this week. However, I suggest DailyOM for wise words when you want.

Week (or 2) in review.

Today:

I’m feeling: physically better – allergies seem to have gone away for the most part.

I’m listening to: Ginuwine on my phone. The slight tapping of my fingers on this keyboard.

I’m thinking: June will be a busy month – a few birthdays, a graduation barbecue in Pennsylvania, other business to handle, work, etc. I need to look into filing paperwork for the next highest professional license and a new credential… I just need to make the time between work & commuting. I’m feeling a bit out of it.

I’m reading: nothing now. Hopefully by the end of this month, Kindle here I come.

I’m looking forward to: the free trial kickboxing class. If it’s good, I’ll take it once per week, which will help knock out a big chunk of the 180 minutes of exercise per week needed for weight loss & healthy lifestyle.

I’m learning: while I’m glad that people appreciate my overall work ethic, even I have limits on how much I can do, at work and otherwise. That I still have a long way to go in my personal & professional journeys. That lots of people are just winging it through life; in other words, most of us don’t know WTF we’re doing. That some people in power are doing a damn good job of winging it. :-| That either I’m winging it too, or I need to improve my self-confidence a bit.

I’m enjoying: the ability to help those who need it because now, I know exactly what it’s like to be in a seemingly bottomless pit. And I’ll never forget it.

I’m creating: what I hope is a healthier, more stable life overall. I’m paying down debts, and I’m trying to strengthen my boundaries even more than they already are.

I’m grateful for: losing 4 pounds since April 1st. SparkPeople – that website is a godsend for healthy living. Getting a pedicure. Having dinner with step-dad and giving him a present that he loved. Going with my intuition for step-dad’s present. Seeing my sister this past weekend for the first time since before moving overseas – while we’ve lived different lives, as we’ve gotten older, I think our relationship will strengthen. My sister’s weight loss – lost 50 pounds so far, looks even more amazing than she did before, and it inspired me even more to lose weight & live healthy as a result.

Yep... same hair.

Yep… same hair.

Around the house are: winter clothes that need putting away since we’ve clearly jumped from winter straight into summer. :-|

In the kitchen: not sure because for the first time since visiting my sister, I haven’t cooked for the house all week and plan to keep it that way until next week.

I’m planning this week to: attend a couple doctors’ appointments for the first time since returning to the U.S. (still have gripes about the U.S. healthcare system). Cook once or twice. Take kickboxing class again if I like it. Figure out what to get my uncle for his birthday. Figure out what to get my sister for her birthday (I think I already know). Attend the local NASW lecture/workshop. Visit my friend’s family and play with their 6-month-old baby & 3-month-old nephew.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is:

Once in a while life simply takes a pause, stops to take a breath and re-consider its direction. Pause with it. Breathe into the new direction.

(I must try remembering this for the upcoming week and beyond.)

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Week in review 13-18 May.

Today:

I’m feeling: under the weather. Damn blasted allergies. :-|

I’m listening to: myself typing on this keyboard, along with silence. Aunt is taking a nap, uncle is outside doing who knows what, and I’m recovering from exercising and a night out.

I’m thinking: when aunt wakes up and we go run errands, I need to get some extra-strength allergy medicine. :-|

I’m reading: same as last week. Hoping to get a Kindle some time next month.

I’m looking forward to: the upcoming long weekend (Memorial Day). Dinner with (ex) stepfather this week (he had a family emergency last week, so we postponed). One of our staff members returning to work from knee surgery so that my load is lightened a bit. (I’m also glad, of course, that the staff member is recovering well.)

I’m learning: that I can’t make a person change; one must want change for oneself. It sucks feeling helpless about it, but I can’t do anything to change another. That I may have a few extra opportunities to advance my career, thanks to hearing things confirmed through the grapevine. That even though recruitment agencies from England keep contacting me, not a damn thing has changed with their social services system. (One borough wants to interview me when they come to New York City next month, but I’m extremely ambivalent about returning there for many reasons. Here’s one of the reasons why.)

I’m enjoying: being “in the know” just a little when it comes to some things at work. I appreciate being valued by a job and knowing a few inner workings of upper management. I don’t know what the future holds, but if nothing else, this job is definitely a learning experience.

Work bound.

Work bound.

I’m creating: dinner tonight, and they better eat every bite. :-|

I’m grateful for: getting to celebrate my good friend’s milestone birthday last night. Seeing a few people at the gathering who I’ve not seen in as little as a few years and as much as double-digit years. Lots of laughter. Being mindful of what I ate and not going overboard (healthy living can be hard – but not impossible – sometimes). Enjoying Reese’s peanut butter cups and still not going overboard. Allowing myself exercise breaks when needed, like today. My (ex) stepmother graduating with her Master’s of Social Work yesterday; I’m so happy for her, and I hope that I helped her even 1% with my advice. I couldn’t attend the graduation, but I’ll see her and my youngest sister at her celebration next month. :-)

Happy birthday, friend.

Happy birthday, friend.

Around the house are: weekly groceries to be put away. New laundry to be put away.

In the kitchen: dinner food in the refrigerator, waiting to be cooked later. Dishes in the sink that aunt is complaining about even though I told her I’ll wash ‘em after I finish cooking. :-| Food to be prepped for the rest of the week; always better to get it out of the way now when I have time. :-|

I’m planning this week to: schedule a doctor’s appointment for the first time since returning to the U.S.; I won’t bore anyone with my gripes about the healthcare system. Cook once or twice. Find out if anyone is having a Memorial Day weekend barbeque or gathering. Get a well-overdue manicure & pedicure for my upcoming trip to see my sister and a friend or two. Shampoo 9 years’ worth of dreads (D’NALI started ‘em for me 05.15.2005).

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My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: It wasn’t a waste of time if you learned something.

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Gratitude whatever-day.

Today:

I’m feeling: my usual tired self, as I almost always am on Mondays. For some reason, I don’t sleep well on Sundays. In spite of that, Mondays usually go by quick & smooth. Grateful to be employed again, after almost 8 months of unemployment & sheer hell. Glad that Memorial Day weekend is almost here, as it’s a national day of remembrance and a day off from work. And finally, grateful that I got to speak to my 3rd & 4th nephews yesterday; the 3rd one celebrated his birthday yesterday. :-)

I’m listening to: myself typing on this keyboard, along with silence on this floor. Everyone is either out to lunch or out doing visits. It’s a nice change of pace for an introvert like me, as I’m kept very busy here and there’s rarely a dull moment. I usually have my headphones attached to my ears no matter where I am, but for now, I’m enjoying the silence and rhythmic tapping of my keyboard.

I’m thinking: of all the work that I’ll finally get to complete. I’m also thinking of the things I have to do for work this week and having some time to catch up for once.

I’m reading: nothing now, unfortunately, unless you count keeping abreast of news & views on the internet. I’ll get back into proper reading once I get a Kindle. I love reading, and I look forward to getting back into it with something lighter than a regular book.

I’m looking forward to: having dinner with my (ex)stepfather for his birthday, which was yesterday. He has been one of the very few people who’ve helped me since everything happened to me, and I can never repay him the way I’d like, but the least I can do is go out with him for his birthday (especially since we haven’t seen each other since I began working and our schedules don’t match up). A short weekend trip later this month to see my (oldest younger) sister and a friend or two on the side.

I’m learning: boundary reinforcement. I can only take on but so much, and when I’m offered help, I should accept it more often.

I’m enjoying: learning more about healthy living since starting the journey over 1 month ago.

I’m creating: a healthier life physically and otherwise. Future opportunities to move up in my career.

I’m grateful for: not having to pay for my short weekend trip to see my sister. Employment. Rebuilding, very slowly but surely. Being able to help others going through hardships, this time with a lens of having experienced similar situations. The very few who’ve stuck with me through all of this. The ability to create my own family because blood isn’t thicker than water in some cases.

Around the house are: laundry to be put away. Goodness knows what else. No problem, though – the house is in good overall condition, and I’m just glad for the unconditional love that my aunt & uncle extended to me.

In my kitchen: my aunt is making ribs (now at work, but she already planned this). I’ll eat ‘em sparingly since I’m on a healthy living journey.

I’m planning later in the coming week to: look at getting short-sleeved shirts since it’s getting warmer. See my (ex)stepfather. Attend my good friend’s milestone birthday gathering.

My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: Little by little, step by step, day by day.

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NaBloPoMo February 2014

Spinster:

National Blog Posting Month, also known as NaBloPoMo, is 2 days away. I never heard about this until reading the post that I’m reblogging. I have neither the dedication nor the material needed to participate, but if any of you are interested, check it out.

Originally posted on Somewhere there is Jeannie:

One of the things I’d like to do more of is write.  I have heard about NaNoWriMo but it came around once a year in November, and I always learn about it too late! Well, I recently learned about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), and I’ve decided to participate and write a blog post each weekday. I’m participating via BlogHer though I don’t think I will blog based on the theme, which is Perspective.

NaBloPoMo February 2014

If you’re also interested in blogging more, and want to participate in NaBloPoMo, you can sign up here. For inspiration, you can check out their daily prompts for this month.

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How To Have The Most Kick-Ass Road Trip Of Your Life

Spinster:

Have you ever taken a road trip? If so, how was it? If not, would you consider taking one? Why or why not? Check out this post, and feel free to comment.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

People fuck up opportunities to have great experiences all the time. I want you not to do that.

I’m a road trip fiend and I think I finally cracked the code.

We have a romantic idea of road trips. The wide open road and all your worries behind and having those life experiences that you need to have before you’re old. We ruin these romantic ideas by acting unromantically (trying too hard).

These were my rules for my most recent cross-country road trip and they made it a life-changing experience. For the first time, I had a road trip that was everything it was cracked up to be.

1. Plan extra time

If you feel pressed for time then the whole thing won’t work. The wide-open road becomes another check on your to-do list. What could be a freeing experience becomes a practice in practicality.

Not having enough time by…

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10 Beautifully Simple Things You Forget To Do In Your City

Spinster:

It usually amazes me when someone from here tells me that I’ve visited places here that they’ve never visited before… and they’ve lived here all or most of their lives (!!!). Here’s a short & simple guide for those of you who don’t explore your own hometowns. You may think your hometown is boring or worthless or useless, but maybe if you take on these simple suggestions, you’ll re-discover your city in a new light.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. See the classics, the trademarks, the shining emblems of what makes your city yours.

Don’t be afraid to be a tourist now and again. It’s funny how we get so caught up in wanting to prove that we are natives, that we belong, that many of us go our whole lives without ever seeing the statue of liberty when we live only a few minutes away.

2. If you don’t live in the crux of the city, in the middle of the hustle and bustle, pretend you do for a day, and do as the locals do.

Eat like a local. Shop like one too. Consumerism can get the best of us all, so you have to remember that there are always fantastic little spots tucked away in secret if only you take a little time to look. When I was growing up, I used to tell my parents…

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3 years (part 3).

(If you didn’t read the other parts, here you go: part 1 & part 2.)

Last but certainly not least, what else have I learned here so far?

11. If you can make it in another country, you can make it anywhere. Add a bonus if you live in a big city within another country. Becoming an expatriate is not for the faint of heart. Many people can’t make it for many reasons. That doesn’t automatically make those people weak, so don’t assume that that’s what I mean. What I do mean is that some people have illusions about what it’s like to expatriate. I’m sorry to break it to you, but Eat Pray Love is not real for anyone except Elizabeth Gilbert (or other [Caucasian] people who can afford it, and since the economy has been garbage for the past few years, maybe they can’t either). So if you can put aside your bullshit illusions, accept what you aren’t familiar with, and be as patient as a saint, maybe then you’ll survive with just a bruise or two.

12. I need to live in or near a big city. I already discussed this here.

13. I appreciate living near the European mainland. It’s easier & cheaper to get to other cities & countries; sometimes it feels like the center of the earth for that reason. Even for me, getting home is as simple as a direct flight without any layovers or plane changes. It’s unfortunate that I’ve not taken as much advantage of this as possible, but real life got in the way. I hope to take more advantage of this next year; I’m well overdue for a long trip somewhere far away.

14. You’ll have to do almost everything (if not everything) on your own. One of the annoying things about living here is the amount of red tape one has to cut through to get anything done. For example, if you need a technician to check your boiler and the expected wait time is 1 week, just go ahead and add an extra week to your wait time. You may as well buy a book for dummies and check the boiler yourself because you’ll get it done quicker that way. There’s another way that people get things done around here – either threaten to cancel a service like I did or raise hell until you get what you need.

15. No matter where I am on this planet, I’ll look back at experiencing expatriation with indescribable feelings and a wiser mind. I’m glad that I made my dream come true.
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There are more, but that’s it for this series. I think too much sometimes, and I don’t want to make this any longer than necessary. Thanks for reading.

Keep calm and drink tea.

Keep calm and drink tea.

While each expatriate’s experience is unique, have I missed anything that you’d put on your own list?

3 years (part 2).

(Did you miss the first part? Well, here you go.)

What other things have I learned so far?

6. There are a few enlightened Caucasians in the world who fully acknowledge systemic & institutionalized (or overt) racism/prejudice. “What do you mean?”, you say. Follow me for a moment:

As a person of color growing up in the most racist country on the planet (based on my personal experiences travelling and living abroad), everyday life is often colored by, and viewed through the lens of, race. Honest conversations about race & privilege – historical, current, and future – are rare in the United States. Conversations about race (and sometimes privilege) usually turn ugly and more often than not, those in the majority (or those who identify more with the majority) don’t understand where people of color are coming from. (Some don’t care to understand, but that’s another topic for another day.) I admit that when I first arrived here, one of the first things I asked my colleagues of color was “So… how racist are the White people here?” I admit that because I’m willing to look back, personally and for this blog’s purposes, and see how presumptuous that question was. But understand that coming from where I’m from, race & privilege are part of our daily lives.

I’ve been very lucky to work with, and meet, non-American white people who are open to these sorts of conversations and have them in a frank, honest & calm way. I’m not saying that there aren’t racists or racism in this country. As a matter-of-fact, stop-and-search (as it’s called in the United Kingdom, like stop-and-frisk in the U.S.) and outright racism especially in suburban & rural areas are just two of a few problems in this country when it comes to Black and minority ethnic groups. I’m saying that I have been lucky to work with & meet British (and other non-American) white people who are more open to discussing these issues. It is refreshing, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m ambivalent about returning to the U.S. for good – the United Kingdom is the lesser of 2 evils for now.

7. Contrary to popular belief, the United Kingdom – like the rest of Europe – is not a (socialist and/or liberal) utopia. As a matter-of-fact, with the recent benefits reforms and other changes now afoot, the United Kingdom is looking more like the U.S. as time goes on.

8. I appreciate having access to universal health care. There are some in the business classes who want to privatize the NHS (Wikipedia), and while it isn’t perfect (what health care system is?), I prefer it over U.S. health care. Health care is a right, in my opinion, and shouldn’t be a privilege. It’s a shame that those in the business classes want to take that away from people.

9. British humor is different from American humor. It’ll still take me some time to fully understand it, but the little I understand so far is pretty damn funny.

10. Aside from tea, which I’ve always loved, I now like a few different foods and/or food combinations. I like chutney on sandwiches, digestives (even better with chocolate), condensed milk in my tea, and my renewed love of bacon. Now granted, I need to cut it out because I’m not in the best of health :-|, but those are just a few things I’m now used to.

Consider this part 2. I think I have enough for a (last?) part 3; I could do more parts, but I don’t want to bore anyone. To be continued…