Category Archives: Gratitude

Hello 2015! Goodbye 2014. And so on…

It has been one hell of a year. Accounting for all that has happened, no wonder I feel mildly overwhelmed. As life speeds ahead, I’m grateful for this one day a year to stop and reflect on how much changes in the course of 365 days. A lot, to say the least.

I’m trying to become a more mellow person, but that’s a struggle. Whatever seems massively important today, unless it has to do with your loved ones or close friends, isn’t really that important at all in the grand scheme of things. When I care too much about everything, that’s when shit starts to hit the fan. Work is work, love is love, and the two should never be accidentally interchanged. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t work hard and get shit done, but the amount of stress I create for myself on this impossible quest to perfection, and the ultimate downfall of such anxiety, is not worth it and it doesn’t help anyone.

In 2015, I’d like, more than anything, to manage a solid and productive year at my current job. This will not only enable me to reach or at least get near my 2015 financial goal of $400k networth (up from $300k today), but it will also provide me with the confidence I need to be highly employable going forward, with a playbook to use which can be followed in any role I take, at least within my specific type of position and industry. It’s creating the playbook that’s hard, especially when you have to learn from trial and error.

In my last opportunity, I realize now that a lot of the challenges there were not my fault. I didn’t make the right plays, for sure, but sometimes young companies have issues beyond what a marketing or sales person can help. Lesson learned there is to never take a job unless I believe 100% in the product and also know there’s a large pain point it is solving.

That’s not to say anything is going to come easy in 2015. I am in a much better situation, but some of the realities are the same as the last and I want to make sure not to make the same mistakes. While I don’t want every year of my life to be dedicated to my career and working long hours, I think 2015 is the year to do it. I don’t have kids yet (but hopefully will soon) and outside of a stable relationship with my boyfriend of nearly nine years, I don’t have much of a social life to speak of, so I might as well invest my 2015 into, as calmly as possible, kicking ass at my job. (And accepting help from the right people who can actually GSD. I.e. hiring smart and making decisions not based solely on resume but on my gut.)

I’m also accepting that there are some things I’m good at and some things I’m not so good at — and I want to forget about that and try my very best to see what I’m truly capable of — if that isn’t good enough for this role or this type of role then, well, I need to figure something else out. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but we’ll see. The difference this time around is that I want to push myself to do whatever it takes to succeed. It is going to be a struggle every step of the way, but what good taste of victory isn’t?

As a working professional, I’m not allowed to be scared, but I am, but I’m also reminding myself that it isn’t worth being scared over succeeding or failing in a job as long as you believe you’ve actually done your best (and you have enough of an emergency fund in the bank to help you through whatever transition needed should you falter.) I have to wake up every morning and ask myself — what needs to get done today? And I need to get that done. Period. No getting distracting on projects that may help the bigger picture but aren’t contributing to your core objective. To succeed at work, you have to be selfish. You have to learn to say “no” a lot. And you have to get results so people trust that when you say no, it’s for good reason.

Outside of work, I hope 2015 will be an exciting year on the personal front. It should be the year my boyfriend proposes to me, which I’m actually excited about given we’re pretty much married at the moment and there is no other person I’d rather spend the rest of m life with. What I have learned about myself is that – while I thought I’d want to marry someone who is career-minded and well-traveled, for many adventures throughout the next however many years of my life, I’m actually much more of a homebody who prefers stability in my relationship. That’s not to say we don’t take trips on occasion, but we’ve yet to travel abroad with each other (my Southeast Asia trip was with a high school friend, not with him) and that’s ok. I’ve discovered that the value of a relationship is having someone to come home to at night, to share a meal with, to watch a movie or tv series with, to cuddle with and wake up next to in the morning. And, of course, to raise a family with when the time is right. All of the other excitement can be obtained outside of a relationship in the form of individual adventures and sharing time with good friends.

2014 has also been a year of seeing my parents go through their own transitions. My mother turned 60, my father, in his 60s, still has terminal cancer, yet is doing miraculously well, #knockonwood, and they’ve been remodeling all of the bathrooms in their home, considering purchasing a condo in Florida to spend the long winters, and surprisingly enough have not killed each other on a series of road trips across their part of the country. I have to remind myself often that I’m now old, and so are they. I mean, 60 isn’t that old necessarily, but 60 year olds are grandparent age, and neither I or my sister have had a child yet, so they’re occupying themselves with a variety of other engagements. But it is strange, how fast life goes, and remembering your parents when you were young, and knowing your time with them, even without accident, is limited. Living far away, if you see them twice a year, for 30 more years, that’s even just 60 more times to say hello and goodbye to the people who made you, and that’s a terrifying thought, no matter how many times they drive you to want to jump off a bridge on each visit.

I hope that 2015 is filled with success, love, and friendships. My resolutions are to go to the gym every weekday (or walk at least one hour with commute), to NOT pig out, binging on crap food just because it is the only thing that helps combat my terrible anxiety, to focus on the primary success metric on my job and relentlessly show results to my boss and team so they can trust me and I can expand to do the things I enjoy most while still delivering unprecedented results, and to spend reasonable amounts of quality time with my family who are across the country, not just my parents, but my cousins, grandparent, and sister. I also want to get rid of tons of shit and live a simpler life.

Finally, my New Years resolution, which is crazy, is that I don’t want to buy anything (other than perhaps a new suit and coat) between now and June 2015, as my focus is on losing weight and saving money. I want to have my 401k and HSA maxed out by March ($20k), following by investing in a post-tax IRA ($5.5k) and manage to save another ~40k-75k through some serious frugality over the year. I can’t focus on that though, as it distracts me from what gets me there, being successful at my job, and growing into an actual executive who looks nothing like the me prior to 2014. Bring it on 2015, I might not be ready for you, but let’s make it happen.


Let’s Give Some Thanks Here

Gratitude. It’s the one thing that can turn a bad day into a good one. Thank goodness there’s one day a year that makes us stop and remember to be thankful. We should be thankful every day. I’m guilty as charged of forgetting to, as my therapist suggested, think of three things I’m thankful for every night. It’s time to make a list. Since I just turned 31, I’ll write 31 things I’m thankful for. This will take a while…

1. I’m thankful for my boyfriend who is just as alien in this world as I am, yet who completely connects on our strange sense of humor and INFP idealist sentimentality towards the world around us. Even though relationships are never perfect, I’m so ridiculously thankful that the stars aligned so I could meet him 8.5 years ago. He’s been there with me through a whole lot of ups and downs, and, other than being upset about my mess, never once judged me for who I am or my various faults. I often think that without him I don’t know how I could have survived my 20s – he is my rock, my quiet, awkward rock, who is always there to give me a hug or hold my hand or genuinely laugh at a bad joke I make because just the act of making it feels like an inside joke to both of us. And I’m thankful that even though he’s avoiding proposing to me because I suck at cleaning up and need to figure out how to remain organized for a period of time I know that one day soon we’re going to get married and have a family together – he’s going to be a wonderful father. He has that parenting gene that I never got. We’re a good fit together. A good, awkward, alien race fit together. So much thanks here.

2. I’m thankful for my good friend who is now helping me out with work projects as well. I don’t often make good friends but he is one of the only people I know IRL who actually reads this blog (because I gave him the link) that’s how well he knows me. And he also doesn’t judge me for it, which I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for him being there to help set me straight on when I’m overreacting about things at my job vs whether I should be feeling the way I do. I’m thankful for him being chill enough to not “defriend” me when I stood him up for sushi dinner because I’m terrible at being on time and got stuck at work. I actually “talk” more to him (if you count skype) than anyone else I know – usually about work stuff, but still. Bonus points that he is the magical friend who I had always dreamed of who will sing duets with me (though I’ve yet to convince him to do any broadway beyond pop.) And I’m thankful for whatever reason that he believes in me and my abilities, because I know he’s wicked smart and amazing at what he does, so it means a lot.

3. I’m thankful for my dad, even though he’s nutso :), because he gave me a lot of the crazy spunky psyche that makes me me. He thinks he’s funnier than he is but he still has a sense of humor that sparked my interest in attempting to be funny in a sarcastic way. He’s also very smart in a math sort of way, and, you can say, believed in me and my intelligence when I was young so I didn’t let myself completely fail, even when I was struggling, because maybe I wasn’t quite as smart as he expected me to be (or able to focus, yeay ADHD). And somehow I do appreciate that in his own guilt-trippy, overprotective way, he cares about me, or at least me in the sense of me “being alive” and “safe” a lot. I know that no matter where I am in the world, as long as he’s around, I’ll never go hungry or live without a roof on my head.

4. I’m thankful for my mother, even though she’s nutso :D, because she is so amazingly unafraid of speaking to anyone and has no anxiety whatsoever in social situations, which is incredible to watch. She will say any thing that comes to her mind, especially things that will embarrass you and/or others, and she will tell anyone what she’s thinking, even the janitor who came over to fix the toilet. While this trait can drive a child crazy, it’s also quite amusing to witness, especially as an adult who can turn off the embarrassment and just appreciate crazy for what it is — entertainment. I’m thankful for my mother’s artistic talent, even though she doesn’t use it any more, for her love of the arts and teaching me to appreciate aesthetics. I’m thankful that she’ll always be there to pick up the phone if I need someone to talk to (not about anything serious because the empathy is entirely missing from her personality) but just to talk to pass the time and have someone to respond; or, to have someone to have talk at me about things that don’t really matter just because I want to get my mind off of the things that do. And i’m thankful that she always welcomes me back into the house whenever I want to come home. And even though this was a double-edged sword I’m thankful that she cared so much about what I look like as – while it gave me a binge eating disorder – it did teach me how to do my makeup well and how to appropriately pose for pictures (she trained me like a dog to smile in pictures as she’s happy-photo obsessed, so I know how to take a damn good posed shot.) 🙂

5. I’m thankful for my sister who I’ve gotten much closer to over the years, even though she’s so far away. I’m thankful that I have a sister in the first place. I’m thankful for having the opportunity to witness a girl who was told she would never go to college and always struggle with her life find her passion in amusement parks and this year graduate from a state college. I’m grateful that she got my dad’s sense of sarcastic humor too and enjoys teaming up with my boyfriend to poke fun at me in a lighthearted way, and that the starts also aligned for my awkward boyfriend and awkward sister to get a long quite well (this is our close family going forward, since my bf is an only child, and a small one at that, so that’s very important.) I’m sad she won’t be able to make it to thanksgiving this year due to her internship, but I look forward to hopefully having her come out to the west coast to spend more time with me in the coming years, and having time to visit her. Plus I owe her a graduation trip to Australia or Hawaii…

6. I’m thankful for my job! It’s extremely challenging, impossible to be perfect at, and filled with lots of things that I struggle to do (details are not my forte, to the bane of anyone who has hired me for a role requiring strategic leadership and endless execution) but – I’m thankful that my boss sees something in me (and I see it too) how I can be really great in this role. I have a long way to go and I hope he has the patience with me and I have the ability to focus on the big wins so we can work together as I build myself up into the executive I know I can be. It’s going to be a bumpy road for sure, but I adore my team and can honestly say that I’m in with a group of really wonderful, talented and smart people who  are making great things happen. I need to play my role and play it well. If I can, this can turn out to be a very good thing. It’s not easy, not anywhere near easy, but since when was I motivated by easy?

7. I’m thankful I live in the U.S. and not some third world country where women are raped/beaten/hung/tortured on a daily basis as part of social norms. Even though the U.S. isn’t perfect and has to get its shit together regarding a lot of important issues, it’s a pretty nice place to live for the time being. I’m thankful that I live in a country big enough where there are so many different types of places I can choose to live – that I can come home to the east coast and witness a November snowstorm and leaves completely dropped off trees, and then return west where the sun will be shining and the hills, while not green due to the drought, will be filled with some form of foliage.

8. I’m thankful for California, for that dream I had as a little girl to one day end up in this magical place where my mom grew up chasing around movie stars, for – thank goodness – my father’s sister and my mother’s sister living in northern California to show me there is a better way to live in CA 🙂 and for my picking myself up after college with just an internship and no idea what I was doing with my life, and heading west to figure shit out. I’m thankful for that decision every day. I’m thankful that when things got really tough the year out of school when I felt completely lost and unsure of what to do, I forced myself to stick it out, I managed through a deep depression, I pushed myself into a social arts project where I met my boyfriend, and I started to build a life for myself. I’m thankful for not giving up and returning home to live in my parent’s house for the past 10 years, which could have easily happened.

9. I’m thankful for Thanksgiving – because today I’ll get to go to Pennsylvania to my aunt and uncle’s lovely home that is always so warm and comforting (she has that old American style which always looks to be out of a catalog and always feels a bit like Christmas (they are one of the few parts of the family that does have a Christian home so this may be why.)) I’m thankful for this opportunity to be here and spend time with my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandmother for what I’m sure will be a fun day of heated political debates and updates on what’s going on with everyone, plus a group of the guys watching some sports game on TV.

10. I’m thankful that my boyfriend doesn’t understand sports and would much rather go to see a play than get tickets to the world series or superbowl.

11. I’m thankful that my parents were able to pay for my college experience. I had no concept of money at the time and they very well could have told me I had to go to the state school (which was actually a good school that I got into for the same major in a prominent arts program and would have cost a lot less each year) but they never once asked me to go to the lower priced institution. While I do have privilege guilt over this, I’m thankful for being able to live in another new city for college, for not having to worry about working through my school years and instead was able to take nearly 8 classes per quarter (the norm was 3-4) and learn about a lot of different things since I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. This enabled me to find journalism, to learn that I actually adored writing and reporting, and also to explore sociological issues in a variety of social sciences classes. If I had gone to any other school I’m not sure how that would have turned out with a more limited, rigid curriculum. I’m thankful that life lead me to the freezing midwest city where I completed undergrad, and I’m thankful I managed to graduate in four years, even though I wouldn’t have minded a fifth.

12. I’m thankful for randomly finding a person finance blog when I was about 21 called “Her English Major’s Money.” Unlike the other personal finance blogs I had read, hers was not about debt. Instead, the post was on how to invest an inheritance. I grew up with such messed up ideas about money and wasn’t making a lot at the time where it felt impossible to save. But reading her blog, and then other blogs she linked out to, I realized that I could focus on investing and saving and actually aim for small goals and turn those into bigger goals. I started this blog and took my $8k out of a low-rate CD and opened a ROTH IRA (which I had not known about previously – my dad, who was a pension planner for a living, did not think to mention this to me) which turned out to be a key move since I ended up working for companies with no 401k access until my mid 20s (and not yet has one provided a match.) I’m so thankful for that day where I found her blog and something switched in my brain where I decided to get serious about money and saving. Ten years later I’ve saved over a quarter of a million dollars, even though I’m by far perfect with my money or frugal.

13. I’m thankful for reading pieces of Ramit Sethi of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” Even though I never paid for one of his courses (they are so expensive!) I’ve taken away his basic premise that you should not focus on saving money by giving up, say, your daily Starbucks, but instead should focus on how to make more money – making more money is always better than reducing your spend in order to live the life that  makes you comfortable (I agree with that unless your comfortable life is completely extravagant, but he’d argue then you just have to make more.) His take on the world and email marketing newsletter suggestions led me to realize that people make as much as they ask for, or at least they need to market themselves in order to earn more. Lots of people doing the same exact things in this world are all getting paid varying amounts. I’ve managed, through an ongoing turbulent road of sorting out my career, to obtain what I consider high pay that is not unreasonable but definitely is more than I could be making because I learned to negotiate hard and hold my ground, to know what I’m worth. Despite being insecure and not actually believing I’m worth that, I was able to fake it enough to get the salary I wanted. Now I don’t have to think about salary or feeling like I’m being underpaid and I can focus on my job.

14. I’m thankful for being born in 1983 – for having had the opportunity to live for a few years before the internet was everywhere. To really experience live when it was a bit slower, when people still, gasp, mailed letters and you had to drive more than 10 minutes to get to yet another dunkin donuts, starbucks or drug store. When people came home after work they actually were able to join dinner and sit with their kids and ask how their day was because they didn’t / couldn’t jump back on the computer to respond to emails and finish work for the day. I’m also thankful to have lived through this rapidly accelerating world of technology, one where now there are self-driving cars I see prancing around my neighborhood on a daily basis, for having the ability to look up any piece of information quickly using a tiny device that fits into the palm of my hand that, oh, I can also make calls on. I’m thankful how living so far away from family and friends technology makes me feel much more connected to them than I would have felt if I lived pre home internet and mobile phones. I got the taste of both worlds and I like them both for different reasons.

15. I’m thankful for cheese. Because, come on, who isn’t thankful for cheese?

16. I’m thankful for my friends from high school who I can meet up with for a day after so many years of not seeing them and we can click and connect like old times. I’m thankful that those few friends that I stay in touch with have always accepted me for who I am and accepted my role as entertainer in our group.

17. I’m thankful for shoes that fit. Especially my new shoes that I splurged on because I have shit feet and I’m tired of buying shoes that make me want to cut off my feet at the end of the day. Yeay shoes that fit.

18. I’m thankful for my grandmother who had a large family (6 kids in total) so I grew up with such a large network of cousins that I just assumed was how everyone’s family was. Holiday gatherings were really massive parties as each child of hers had two kids, so the years we all joined together we had 24 people in one house, which made for some good parties. It makes me sad to know that this isn’t how everyone grows up and that my own family – unless I start popping out quadruplets – will never be this large and vibrant (me with one sister and my boyfriend an only child.) But we’ll figure out how to make the holidays feel special with a smaller family nonetheless, and borrow some non-blood relatives to extend the festivities.

19. I’m thankful for the brave people in Hollywood who have shown that there is no one right way to be. We live in a unique era where celebrities can come out of the closet and still be successful, where the uncool is cool, where different is ok. There’s still a long way to go here in terms of acceptance, but we’re in a much better world today than we were when I was born in terms of accepting that everyone is different and that’s ok.

20. I’m thankful that I’m at number 20 because this is harder than I thought. Ok, I can’t get off that easy here… I’m thankful for sleep, because there’s nothing better than cuddling up next to someone you love completely exhausted and waking up with them still holding you close.

21. I’m thankful for airplanes which make it possible to travel and see the world in a relatively short amount of time.

22. I’m thankful for my good friend and our adventure last year to southeast Asia — life starts to blur once you reach a certain age and the only major memories are those that are from the days you were out of your normal, day-to-day routine environment. There were so many fun and exhilarating moments of that trip. Travel is exhausting for me as I admit I like routine to some extent, but it’s one of those things that make life worth living. I hope to do more of it throughout my life.

23. I’m thankful for the sun. It’s just crazy to think how that one giant star is holding up our entire world as we fall through space together at 30,000 mph (yes, that’s how fast we move around the sun guys, holy shit, that roller coaster where you go from 0 to 80mph doesn’t seem that scary any more.) But, really, I’m thankful that the universe managed to all fall together to make this very unlikely world of ours exist. For the religious it’s easy to thank god for this. For the non religious it’s just incredible to experience and be part of this wonder.

24. I’m thankful for carpeting. Wooden and tile floors can be so cold.

25. I’m thankful for my friend back west and her beautiful baby boy who is absolutely hilarious. She is an amazing mother and a good friend. I look forward to watching her child grow up into an adorable kid and a kind young man. I hope when I have my first kid we can align so she will have her second at the same time, but she’ll probably be on to her second before I’m on my first!

26. I’m thankful for oceans. Nothing in the world makes me feel more at peace than sitting on a beach and watching the waves crash to shore as water extends and sparkles out to the horizon.

27. I’m thankful for all of the turkeys that have sacrificed themselves so that way a bunch of Americans can stuff themselves silly today.

28. I’m thankful for mistakes, because without them we’d never know if we were right to begin with.

29. I’m thankful for my future children, because I’m excited to meet them, assuming I can have kids one day.

30. I’m thankful that this list is almost done because 31 is a lot of things to be thankful for. I’m also thankful for all of the pecan pie, even though I shouldn’t eat it, I’m going to eat it, and it will be amazing.

31. I’m thankful that my father, who was told he has two years to live about seven years ago, is still alive. While we don’t always see eye to eye it truly is a miracle that he’s still here and doing so well. He mentioned last night that his doctors are amazed by how well he is doing (and he goes to one of the most prestigious cancer hospitals in the world so clearly they know what they’re talking about.) I’m hoping that he is still around in a few years and doing so well so he can meet my children and so they can meet their grandfather. Knock on wood, maybe he will be a miracle, who knows. He said that his grandmother apparently had lymphoma and decided not to treat the condition, but still managed to live to 90. Her doctors noted it had somehow been cured on its own. While it’s crazy to think it, maybe our bodies are as stubborn as our wits in this family.

So there you go, 31 things I’m thankful for. I’m sure there are many more, but these are what came to mind this morning. What are you thankful for?