Bucket List: May, 2014

With May just 1 day away, I’m setting myself up for this bucket list, specifically designed for the month of May, for well, no particular reason. It might seem on a whim that I’d decided to do this, however, it is not. In my search of living more consciously I’d wanted to document memories, much like a public e-diary of sorts that I can look back on and reference. I imagine myself a few months, years or even decades down the line reviewing this post and going: “Ah…so that’s what I was up to when I was young and stupid not so experienced.”

1. Explore a part of my city I’ve never been to.
            – For the lengthy time I’d been here, I realized I’d never set out on my own to discover my city. Yes, truly. I take for granted that I live in an extremely beautiful environment on the West Coast of North America, yet I let the day to day grind get to me to the point I forget how lovely my surroundings are and in turn forget to appreciate the beauty that is all around me. I remember a conversation in Europe last year, with a friend, born and bred European, while commenting on how beautiful the canals and the historical row houses that overlooked them were, she told me, people there just went about their days not really noticing their beautiful surroundings. I imagine, they’re used to it. Habituated with their surroundings since birth, they’d come to accept that it is nothing too extraordinary, all I can think of at the time was, “Lose out on appreciating this amazing sight? Not a chance!” And went on to snap a LOT of pictures. I think the same principle could be applied to my city. If I chose to look at it through the lenses of someone who hadn’t lived here all her life, then very well, I could be in for a surprise. (Given I have 4 weekends starting from now to do it, 8 DAYS, no excuses!)

2. Do something that would normally scare me.
     
        – I’m not the biggest adrenaline junkie out there, but as risk-adverse as I am even I know you only have a limited time on this earth to experience things you truly want to experience before your time is up. Why the heck not right? Now I just have to decide what that thing is. Possibly something along the lines of going against unspoken rules of norm, because if you really thought about it, who ‘created’ norms in the first place? Other people? And what role should their opinion have on your day to day life? Of course, this means if I had wanted to get out of the house in mismatched sneakers and a giraffe onsie I could and should without fear and anxiety. Or go to a cafe, start a conversation with a stranger, random conversation, something people just don’t do these days in favor of looking on their iPhones or tablets these days. I’m undecided on this one, so suggestions are welcome!

3. Start and Finish a Book.
     
        – Does not include books I have to read for school. And I’m doing 1 book for now just to see how I do! Suggestions are welcome here as well, if I don’t get to it this month I will get to it the coming months. For the month of May I’ve chosen, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Always wanted to read it and finish it, but never got the chance! Now I have no excuse!

4. Research a topic I’m curious about and write a blog post on it.
     
       
– Self explanatory. I’m curious by nature but a lot of times I find myself veer from one interest to another without actually dig into something and understanding it fully beyond the 5 minutes exposure I get from an article or news feed. So this month I will go out of my way to discover a topic or an issue I’m passionate about and blog about it!

5. Develop healthier habits
   
       
– This is a hard one as health is not something you could improve overnight. I know myself well enough to know I have some really bad habits that I need to change. i) I drink coffee all the time, it’s like flavored water to me and gives me a boost, and did I mention free coffee at the office? But at the same time I think it contributes to my insomnia more than I like to admit. ii) I don’t eat enough vegetables…yes I’m in my 20s…and I make excuses for it like…it takes too long for broccoli to steam… iii) Pretty sure I also don’t get enough exercise. So for this month, I’m going to cut my coffee down to at most 2 cups a day, eat my vegetables and go out there and get some much needed exercise! Shouldn’t be a problem!

6. Stick to my budget!
   
       
– Surprisingly, I think #6 is the most challenging of them all. Sticking to the budget and not overspending because a lot of my funds are going to my tuition but on top of that there’s books you got to buy for your class which comes out to be a very hefty amount. And this is not an one off occurrence whereas that iPadAir sitting in the shop might be, $800+tax is one off purchase, tuition by term not so much. It’s a hefty amount and I for one do not believe in student loans (perhaps I shall explain in another post altogether about that) but for whatever it is worth, I will stick to my budget and treat myself to whatever’s left over in the ‘fun’ money envelope…

7. Treat myself to something nice at the end of the month!
   
       
– Using ‘fun’ money I saved up of course to mark the small milestone of end of May and all the things I’ve accomplished in the month. Possibly going to one of my favorite cafes and blogging from there. I’d be doing a month of May recap.

Yay! So let the shenanigans begin!

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Ready or not!

April’s coming to an end and in this month I’ve realized a lot of things, not just about myself but about the world around me. I’ve learned that life is a continuous learning process and there are just things you must learn to let go of even if voluntarily parting with them meant discomfort or distress. Here are five things I’ve come up with and thought I’d share.

1. You will adapt to change and face challenges.
2. You will go forward.
3. You will not look back, you’re not going that way.
4. You owe yourself to be happy and that is all.
5. You are made to live the life you want to live. That’s why you’re here. Go live it!

On a rather surprising side note: isn’t it scary how time just flies? We only have 7 months left of 2014!! So whatever’s on your to do list, bucket list, goals you set out for yourself, go do them!

Making time, and other grown up things

This week, I’ve learned 2 more things about myself that I didn’t know before hand.

1. I need to work on my time management skills.
2. I need to live in the moment.

I have to confess, going back to school is not what I had previously imagined.

Where did all the time go? I ask myself. Surely, I have plenty of time in the week to do ‘things’ that ought to be done. But something is not quite right with me as I can’t seem to get up in the morning and accomplish all the task I’d set out for myself to do. My thoughts tend to veer off all over the place as I’m trying to tackle the first few things on that to do list. My mind begins to wander – even know I have approximately 5 tabs open on my browser that are completely unrelated to this post – (cue to closing those tabs) definitely something to work on, because I realize how crucial time management is in the grander scheme of things. Having better time management skills would allow me to do more in a 24 hour span. And I know just how much is on my plate from the right-now to December.

Yes, I already have a conservative goal of how much I would need at the end of November to fund my travels, and to be honest it is not a small number as Europe and Scandinavia are definitely not wallet friendly if you want to do it for more than two weeks (I’m going for much longer than that). Hence the planning and the stress of it all. I’m cornered between the choice to downsize everything or search for another job (tuition is also another thing burning a hole in my wallet) all the while juggling with school and other responsibilities. On most days, it really feels like I have too much to do, but in practice, very little is done (see point 1 and 2).

I spend countless hours looking for jobs, with fruitless results. Then I stress because I could’ve used that time to work on things for school. But when I’m working on things for school I stress some more because it’s almost the end of April and the beginning of May. I need to come up with something good and come up with it fast.

Either way, I think for the most part. I need to breathe. Realize everything will fall in place eventually, and I will do what I always do, adjust accordingly and make the best of it all. 🙂

Easter Sunday Job Search

Easter Weekend and I am looking for a job.

Not just any job, a job that offers flexibility and decent compensation (but really, aren’t we all looking for something like that?).

What I’ve realized recently is that, most of us don’t know what we’re doing. Forget what your parents told you in your youth, you aren’t going to be a ‘doctor’ or ‘lawyer’. Why? Because reality doesn’t match up with expectations. In their expectation of you being a hot shot lawyer or most sought after surgeon, they’re discounting the fact that tuition isn’t up in the tens of thousands and that you actually want to live a life where you are ‘working’ almost 24/7/365.

Personally, I don’t see how enjoyable a hefty paycheck is when I’m up to my eyes in debt and have 0 hours of my life to enjoy my earnings. On top of that, your parents most likely forgotten the fact that you are not a robot or money making machine just for the fact that you want to sustain life.

There are many ways to sustain life in this world – but more often than not, I meet people who are existing and not living and simply put I don’t want to be one of them. So, there has to be a healthy balance somewhere, don’t you agree?

remember to enjoy life!

I used to think everyday as a grind. Starting from the moment I opened my eyes to the moment the dreaded clock at work told me it was time to pack up and head home. Then the dreaded commute with exhausted strangers filing into the same train as I. And at times, I was guilty of not giving up my seat to an elderly because I was too drained mentally and emotionally to make that decision.

I’d thought life would just continue on with me feeling dead on the inside, that after a certain point in your life, it just all went downhill. I didn’t get how people could continue to be happy after a certain age. No matter what the numbers told me from reports, I held onto my cynicism.

Fast forward to now.

I’ve learned to accept that life has ups and downs.

I’ve learned that I’m strong enough to handle what life has thrown at me and has yet to thrown at me.

I’ve learned to let go of things that just aren’t meant to be and in turn, am not afraid of serendipity.

I’ve learned to enjoy the little things in life, to go after my dreams and discover life as it should be.

Money diet, it could be healthy!

So, ever since I made that pricey plane ticket purchase on the weekend, I found that I’ve been less inclined to spend recklessly. I mean, the idea of going out and about to a cafe and enjoying a personalized latte is trumped by the number game in my head: I’ll save on average $5-7 dollars per work day just by mooching off free coffee at work. Followed by the thought, I’ll save even more by going home for dinner instead of dining out. No taxes or tips there either!

Foregoing small pleasures such as the aforementioned used to be a struggle, for I’d always had the idea that I was in for another hellish day at work.

Like many young people, I’d justified my spending habits by desire. I’d earned my money fair and square after all, so I could treat myself to whatever that was in vogue or just because I fancied.

It is an expensive habit to have that is for sure, but it also gave me a sense of ‘normalcy’ and ‘belonging’. That’s what everyone did, right?

This is also not the first time that I’d set out to do something about it. I’d felt uncomfortable with this type of hyper-consumerism that modern society facilitates before. It seems everyone has bought into the idea that massive consumption is what drives growth in the economy and it is considered ‘healthy’ – but I do wonder, how many of us stop and think about just a few of the consequences that follow (ex: environmental consequences of mounting hills of urban waste in some remote area of your city).

What we don’t see, often escapes us. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

But the point is, when I really think about where my money is going, ie: if the accumulation of one foamy latte a day until the end of the year was worth the trade offs of not having enough fund to travel to more places at the end of the year, then the answer becomes plain to see. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what makes you smile more. A latte now, or a lussekatt with some expresso later this year.

How I almost unknowingly died and learned how to live.

The fact that I’m sitting here and typing this post is by miracle. Seeing as on last Thursday I was struck by a vehicle. Yes, I can casually discuss this while pushing images of the incident far from my mind now. The tire marks left on concrete and the crushed bushes beside the sidewalk that could’ve been me instead.

It was barely six am in the morning. It’d happened in the space of a heartbeat.

I’d gone from walking to work on the sidewalks to having my heart stop in my throat. I’d felt something shot past me with unprecedented speed in the darkness and unknowingly one of my arms went flying in the same direction. With only blurry traffic light to guide me. It took me a second to realize that thing that shot by me, hit me in the arm, was indeed a car. A silver sedan that’d forced its way up from the road to the sidewalks had skidded to a stop on the rock bed of a nearby apartment, after taking out a huge portion of the garden in its wake.

Yes. I was extremely lucky. For the incident lasted exactly five seconds more. The car stopped for only a second before the tires turned and zoomed back onto the road. As suddenly as it came, it was then gone, leaving me in a state of shock.

The epiphany: ‘I’d almost died’ shook through me.

And then came the gnawing sense of emptiness and a wave of fear. The fear does not come from death itself, as I’d come to realize, could be as swift and as uninvited as a gust of wind. But the knowledge that I’d yet to live. I had yet to experience what I wanted to experience in life was a more depressing than the thought of losing my life…

But then, I went to work. And continued the work week, while thinking, did I survive just so I could do this? Again and again?

‘I’m not dying in this country’ was the conclusion I came to. ‘When I die I want to be elsewhere, perhaps at my own volition after a full life. I want to die with a sense of dignity and peace.’ then I came to realize, that will never be unless I moved to somewhere like Belgium, Switzerland or the Netherlands.

Then over the weekend, I decided, despite how unwise and insane it might seem to others to book my ticket for later this year. I’d been dithering on whether or not to travel this year seeing as I’ve already headed back to school and the arguments of putting my paycheck to anything other than tuition seem like a luxury I just could not afford. 

But then I reminded myself of the incident.

And everything became easy.

Winter in Northern Europe it is. 

So. Stop being so afraid. You really might not get another chance. So go live. Go talk to that person you’ve been too shy to talk to. What’s the worst that could happen? There are close to 7 billion other people in the world if it doesn’t work out with one. Go explore the cities of the world. Do what brings you joy and make you feel alive. Because life is too short to be settled. We go through our days with expectation of continuation tomorrow, the day after tomorrow – but it is only at seeing through that illusion do we truly realize the precariousness gift that is life.

4.1: the importance of health is no April fools!

Nothing matures you faster than realizing you couldn’t get away with what you used to easily get away with in your teens. It came as a shock to me last weekend when I not only fell ill but began reflecting on my hectic work week. It appeared to me that I was so busy with ‘work’ that the priority of health took the backseat altogether.

I find it ironic because I always used to think how could adults ‘get so busy’ to the point their health is jeopardized? Why do society emphasize that money = success and everything else has to make way? I began to reflect and realize (despite the pounding headache and sniffles) that I had become another stereotype that I used to think was silly. I didn’t think it was possible for me to become a workaholic (especially at a job I care very little about) but I’m a person of standards, even if I do not like the job, I take great pains to see the job is done right.

Hence my downfall, putting everything else before my personal well being. I began to think if my general unhappiness was caused by giving too much of myself at things that had no place in my life in the long run (because essentially, at work, I see it purely as a transaction of time into money and I’m only dying in the process). Yes my outlook might be bleak but it’s exactly how I feel, no satisfaction gained from the job (despite how much work I put in). Not even a pat on the back from my boss could swat away the nagging feeling of alienation. ‘I don’t belong’ – ‘I could do so much better’ – I tell myself, yet find no strength to prove my internal statements as valid.

To top it all off, my health, which really should be one of my top 5 concerns gets booted to the backseat. And every time work calls, me the individual fades a little more into the background, to the point, last weekend I felt weak and achy all over as a result of how ignorant I’d been half thinking, half hoping my age would offset the effect of an unbalanced diet and nonexistent fitness regime.

Fast forward to now, almost Wednesday, my workweek had yet to begin, why? Because I’d been sick at home nursing the flu of the century. Though, I did discover something incredible to me, but perhaps not so to doctors whose advice often fall on deaf ears.

Because I was sick I’d little desire to continue in my ways of heavily processed foods. From Sunday until now, I’d stuck to mainly whole unprocessed foods with tons and tons of organic vegetable and fruits. To my surprise, the hacking cough I’d experienced since Saturday had disappeared and this would appear to be the speediest time I’d gotten over a cold in my twenty something years of life. And if that wasn’t enough motivation to switch over to a more healthful diet, I don’t know what is.

So for the entire month of April, I’m going to dive in, research like heck and try some of my new discoveries.

Stay healthy, stay focused, stay happy!