Creating a 5 Year Plan – Part 1

Click through to view the full article on simple ways to be happy. (via Huffpost)

Click through to view the full article on simple ways to be happy. (via Huffpost)

In five years, I’ll be nearing 38. Not old, by any means, but old enough to have accomplished a few things. From where I’m sitting, it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be that close to achieving any of my dreams at the rate I’m going. That being the case, I’ve decided to draft my 5 Year Plan. After reading multiple articles on the subject, it looks like the first thing I need to do is define my overall life goals, then start breaking them down. So today we’re going to start at the very beginning and sort out the overall life goals, then move on from there bit by bit. You with me?

First, here’s a list of things I think 85-year old me will be sad if I didn’t do:

  • See the world. I’ve seen a bit, but it’s far too early in my life to stop traveling. In fact, if I were able to figure out how, I’d be going on trips around the world until I’m old and decrepit…and hopefully then, too.
  • Go on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. This is technically part of “See the world,” but it’s deeper and more personal than just taking a vacation or learning about local architecture, so it gets its own bullet point.
  • Work in event coordination. I love to organize things and people, and I really “get” event logistics. Looking back over the last few years, the times I’ve been happiest are all centered around setting up events and making sure they run smoothly. To even get started in thinking about this kind of career move, I’d need to take care of the next bullet point…
  • Get my debt under control. It’s going to kill me. Literally – the stress will kill me if I don’t get it under control, and the #1 thing that’s on my mind 24/7 is student loan, credit card, and tax debt.
  • Stop feeling so dependent on everyone else. This one is hard to explain, but I guess what I’m really saying is that I want to be comfortable in my own skin, and not feel like I need everyone else’s approval to feel like I have a right to be here. It would be amazing to be the person that other people respected and looked to for advice and love, if only just sometimes. I always feel like I’m on the outskirts of the conversation, the edge of the in-crowd. I’d love to have the self-confidence to start feeling like I’m important, too.
  • Sing in a decent band. I have no illusions of grandeur on this point. I just want to sing with a group of musicians who like each other for the most part, and who can manage to have fun on stage together a couple of nights a week for any length of time longer than 6 months.
  • Be known as a writer. I know that I have several books in me, but I also know how difficult it is to get published AND noticed these days. I don’t want to win the Hugo or anything – I just want for people to know me for my writing. Right now I’d settle for a popular blog.
  • Make spiritual practice more central to my life. If life is about finding Truth, I should be seeking it out with more energy and consistency.
  • Build something solid and lasting with the right life partner.
  • Have children. This one is open to interpretation, I think. I’d really love to have children of my own, but I’m not opposed to adoption or fostering, given the proper resources. Also, if I never end up getting married, or if it becomes clear that children aren’t within my scope of physical or financial capabilities, maybe it just means moving closer to my friends’ children so I can be a spectacular aunt.
  • Be responsible for my carbon footprint / impact on my environment.
  • Stop putting so many chemicals in / on my body by choice. Obviously I can’t help everything that I’m exposed to, but I can do something.
  • Take care of my body, so that it’s in great condition for as long as possible. I deserve to be able to be physically active and pain free. It’s more than a right, though – it’s a requirement for a long life, full of adventure, where I can be present and active with my loved ones.
  • Learn to like food. Real food. Learn to eat vegetables and fruits and really like it, and to seek out fruits and vegetables for every meal. I’m already bored with this statement, but I’m pretty sure that it’s intrinsic to a bunch of the other goals on this list.
  • Have a house / condo / living space of my own. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just needs to be a place that I can live in when I’m old and unable to work any longer.
  • Have a reliable method of transportation that is not my own two feet. Although my own two feet are a perfectly great way to get around 90% of the time, and I hope to be using them for many years to come. But seriously, if I can’t afford to buy my own damn car at some point over the next 50 years, I’m going to be pissed.

That’s enough for now. Tomorrow I’ll work on narrowing in on the sub-goals for each (or maybe just a few) of these major life achievement-type goals. In the mean time, does anyone out there have any ideas or helpful hints for putting together a detailed 5 Year Plan? Tweet me at @compassandquill. I’d love to know how you created your own plan, and if there are any resources you’d suggest. Thanks!

Click here to read my next post about taking a personal stab at creating a 5 year plan.

Nerd Girl Meets Geek Boy – Take 1 (aka. Let Me Love You To Death)

When I was 15, I met a guy at summer camp. It wasn’t just any summer camp; at the time, I was enrolled in Air Force JROTC at my school, and during the summers I attended a special officer’s training camp at Fort Bragg. The week-long camp acted a little like a mini bootcamp. We slept in barracks, woke up at 5am to attend PT, slept/ate/drilled/etc. with our flights (groups of about 25 kids), and did all sorts of training exercises, like rappelling, doing a ropes course, crawling through the mud under barbed wire, running until we puked, that kind of thing. It was mostly pretty fun.

There were around 20 flights, named alphabetically; I was part of Bravo Flight. Weird to remember that, considering that it was almost 20 years ago. Even though there were teenage cadre who ostensibly held the reins for each flight, each group also had an adult advisor to make sure we didn’t go all Lord of the Flies out there in the summer heat. Ours was this really nice Senior Master Sergeant whose name I’ve long ago forgotten. Early on, he suggested that we all pick nicknames. There was Eggs, my best girlfriend at the camp. Before bed, she wore a beautiful red corduroy bath robe with a black velvet collar, and once she told us that she could squash a watermelon between her thighs. The SMSgt. started calling her Eggs after she puked during our post-breakfast drill exercise on the second morning of camp. Maverick was my camp crush – he even felt me up on the bus once. He had named himself after Top Gun, but I didn’t get the movie reference. At the time, I thought he’d named himself after the TV show character played by James Garner, and later I thought he might have been referencing that sweet early 70′s car, the Ford Maverick. I didn’t get the Top Gun thing until maybe five years ago. I used to be so blindly hopeful that other people I met might have imaginations.

My name was Flower Child. In early high school, I was really into everything 1960′s, but mostly mod/British invasion culture and fashion (you know, like Mary Quant, Twiggy, definitely crazy about anything Beatles-related and everything that Pattie Boyd wore during the Beatles’ stay in India…blah, blah, blah). But by the time I got to summer camp, I was also embracing Woodstock, Vietnam news coverage, the peace movement, anti-war protest art, everything Haight Ashbury, and of course, all things psychedelic. Almost all of my school outfits were deconstructed vintage 1960s and early 1970s fancy dress gowns – lots of floor length dresses in man-made fabrics, with flowing sleeves and floral motifs, which I then ripped up and sewed back together in weird ways. Still, I wouldn’t have voluntarily called myself a flower child, but the SMSgt. gave me my title, too.

He also named my other camp friend, Jody. Over the years, I’ve conveniently forgotten Jody’s real name, mostly because I was afraid that one day he’d turn into a stalker and kill me. (Which is still probably a possibility, and also a great reason to actually remember someone’s name, now that I’m thinking about it.) Jody had come to camp equipped with a book of marching songs called jody calls, and he took it upon himself to teach our flight a few of them to make running and marching easier. In particular, he taught us one that I still sing to myself when I’m running and feel like dying. It goes like this:

Call: “We like to party!”
Response: (We like to party!)
Call: “Party hearty!”
Response: (Party hearty!)
Call: “And when we like to party -”
Response: (And when we like to party -)
Call: “- we like to party all night long!”
Response: (- we like to party all night long!)
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Get on down!”
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Your left!”
Response: “Right!”
Call: “Get on down!”
Everyone: “Get on back, get out of our face, Bravo Flight’s gonna rock this place!”

Sounds complicated, but actually super easy and really fun to yell together. Anyway, Jody taught us a few jody calls to keep us going, and it really did help unite us as a group. I’m just now realizing that it might have been my first experience in seeing how instrumental teamwork is to making music with feeling – even if it is just a silly marching song. During camp, I got to make out with Maverick a couple of times, but Jody was the one I kept in touch with. He was a geeky little skater kid, rather anxious and seriously smart. I hadn’t ever met a guy I could geek out with about books and poetry, plus there’s something kind of romantic about meeting a boy at summer camp and exchanging letters for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, over the next year, things got weird. (Seriously, did you not expect them to? Do you even KNOW me?)

Jody lived in a small city about two hours away from me. For much of the next year, I sent him poetry and letters, and he wrote me back in short stories and plans for the future. We were both in JROTC for the sole purpose of having the military eventually pay for college. We both hated high school, wanted to see the world, wished people could understand us. But where my yearning to be heard expressed itself through 60s pop music and fantasy novels, his was darker, more primal, possibly just more male. I was yearning to open like a flower (and looking forward to the day when I’d subsequently be deflowered), and he was looking to jump into the ring swinging. When he found me, that frustration and anger underwent a softening and was redirected at me as a form of near-obsession. Pretty much every guy I’ve met since then who was hopelessly nerdy and ignored in high school went through something like this phase (whether the girl was real or not), so now it doesn’t freak me out so much. Then, though…eek. What really put it over the edge for me, however, was a mix tape.

During high school, “normal” for me was a mix of too many overlapping activities with which I still somehow managed to be bored and under stimulated. In the Fall, this meant performing in the color guard team at every home football game and attending every drill team competition within a 200 mile radius from my home town. In the Winter, there were color guard and drill performances during basketball games. Every weekend that I wasn’t attending a Quiz Bowl competition, I could be found doing something drill or color guard related with my other Air Force wannabe buddies. Eventually, at the end of my Junior year, my school hosted our own drill competition. Jody showed up with his school’s team. I was pleased to see him, if shy. He brought his skateboard, so he could show me some tricks he was learning. He also brought me a pair of green corduroy JNCOs that he’d outgrown and knew I’d dig, and the mix tape. I gave him one of my prom pictures, and at the end of the day, a kiss.

Once home, I put the tape into my tape deck, expecting music I’d heard before, or maybe even music that I hadn’t heard before but that I’d still find a way to like. Out of the speakers came this creepy gothic sound that built with intensity until it turned into harsh, wailing guitars and throbbing base. The lyrics were insane. It was obviously demonic in nature. The lead singer was talking about sweaty breasts, candlelight, sex, death. I listened to the song again, my trepidation building. My penpal was a psychopath, out for blood. He wanted to kill me, and just today I’d kissed him! What was I thinking?

Things did not go well from there. I wrote to tell him that we couldn’t be friends anymore, and through a series of letters and phone calls, eventually he came to terms with the fact that I was scared of him. We didn’t talk again for years, until he found me on MySpace when I was just finishing up with undergrad, and he was coming to the end of his first enlistment period in the Air Force. Conversation remained scarily obsessive on his part, and eventually I gracefully retreated.

But surprise! This post isn’t how a hippie nerd girl meets a goth geek boy and breaks his heart. It’s about how a hippie nerd girl finds out that she’s actually a witchy nerd girl, then goes on to fall in love with Type O Negative. Oh, and later find out that the goth geek boy she thought might kill her in high school turned into a legitimately creepy 20-something guy.

After ending my weird friendship with Jody the first time, I went on to have a pretty normal summer. I’d totalled my car in May, so from June through August, I rebuilt it from the ground up, with my grandfather and uncles overseeing my progress. In July, I met a boy and got kinda serious. In October, my grandfather died and I got drunk for the first time. In the following months, my family dynamic shifted considerably, I decided I definitely wouldn’t be going into the Air Force, and, oh yeah, I went full fledged skater goth. No skateboard, though – there weren’t any paved roads for me to practice on near my house. No, I’m not shitting you. Sometime in that transition to black lipstick and combat boots, that mix tape resurfaced and started to make sense. I suddenly understood that the words “let me love you to death” are about a deeply sensual moment, not about being ripped apart by a vampire during sex. Which still sounds kind of interesting. But not really. But maybe. I dunno. As I was saying…

Over the years, I eventually started adore Type O Negative. As I’ve gotten older, their lyrics have made more and more sense to me, and have grown to encompass layered meanings – for me, the sign of truly powerful songwriting, even if it is kind of cheesy in its own way. Today, when I hear Love You To Death, I see the story of a man who’s fallen in love with a powerful woman. He loves that power, and is drawn to it, but not weakened by it. He finds comfort in how well he knows her body, and how confidently she inhabits her skin. But he also wants to build on to what they’ve achieved together, to strengthen their emotional bond through physical action. He’s not saying that he literally wants to fuck her until she dies. He’s talking about the joining of life forces, dying together and rising anew. It’s gorgeous. It’s seriously romantic, and by that I mean romantic in a very serious way. Definitely not something you put on a mix tape for your long distance crush at 16, though what 16 year old could possibly come to terms with their first love not being as real as it seems at that precise moment?

Wherever he is, I hope Jody’s found his dream nerd girl. I’ve been through a few more geek boys, myself, but you know what they say: You’ve got to kiss a lot of geeks before you get to love one to death. Or something like that :-)

Past Life Puzzle Pieces

Fortune Teller, by Anna Harris

It’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m looking to be amused. Let’s pretend that the unusual things we’re most obsessed with somehow point to what our past lives were, shall we? For me, that would be (in no particular order):

  • Medieval monastic life
  • Walking long distances / the idea of leaving, wandering, seeking
  • Gulags
  • Siberia
  • WWII, as experienced by the non-military in continental Europe
  • Bohemia / Czechoslovakia
  • The Romani
  • Drowning at sea
  • The Alemanni/Suebi (a 3rd through 6th century barbarian tribal confederation mostly focused around the area that’s now Alsace)
  • 12th century Wales / England
  • Weaving and folk medicine in medieval Europe
  • Sheep & goats
  • 16th century trading culture in Italy and the Netherlands
  • Northern Renaissance oil paintings - particularly those depicting architecture and the life of the layperson (vs. religious subjects)
  • Ruby Glass (which also connects back to Bohemia)
  • Late 19th century cabinet cards (photos)
  • 19th century prostitution and drug use

So there you have it. This is the bulk of what I’ve been drawn to time and time again in literature, film, and via travel experiences since childhood. There are TONS more things that I’m interested in, of course – art, music, pop culture, clothing – all sorts of stuff. I love other cities and time periods, too. But these are the things that stick with me. Feel free to piece these together like some weird puzzle, and imagine who I might have been in a past life. Alternately, use it as a suggestion to start connecting your own strange obsessions and making up reincarnation stories for yourself, whatever floats your boat. Happy random Saturday!

 

 

 

Coated In Ashes

Bukowski

Today I’m thinking about mortality, for pretty obvious reasons, given today’s news reports about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 and Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. I was raised in a household where I was constantly being told that we were on the brink of WWIII, and that I should be ready to fight for my survival when the time came. My father wasn’t a survivalist, but he was – and remains – quite the pessimist. He scared the shit out of me, permanent emotional scars, lasting fears of a coming apocalypse that regularly play themselves out in my dreams (no, not nightmares…my nightmares are of much simpler, far more realistic things).

In hindsight, I guess I’d rather be frightened and knowledgeable about the risks of living than to be not at all worried, and completely ignorant to the world around me. I dunno. It’s a slippery slope between being a conspiracy theorist/alarmist and being well-informed. Today in particular, I’m seeing the headlines and thinking about all the chances people have had to do things correctly. Mostly, my thoughts settle on the fact that there are entire countries full of people just trying to live in peace, but then you add a few asshole nutjobs who feel like killing kids for shits and giggles, or maybe trying to blow up a plane because they think it’ll make them seem tough, and now here we are, millions of good men, women and children who’re about to be brutalized by war for what? Nothing. Idiocy. Pride. Machismo. Religious rhetoric. I’m scared, and I’m tired. Why must it be this way? What can we do, besides keep trying, like countless generations before us, to live lightly and be good to our fellow humans, and hope that it catches on?

I find it hard to believe in reincarnation, but a tiny piece of me identifies with a spinster woman who lives in the woods, away from the village. She helps ease difficult births, and treats common maladies. She is reviled for her knowledge. She will die for her love and goodness, and at the hands of those she’s cared for during their lowest moments. I feel for her. I feel like her. I am scared that I will become her. I’m scared that I will not be good enough to become her. I don’t want my fear to beat the goodness out of me. I refuse to let it.

And then what of hope and trust and love and happiness? And why now am I at the highest of highs in my personal life, feeling stronger by far than I have in so very long, when the world around us seems to be more frail than ever? Do I keep living like there’s more time to get things right, or do I throw caution to the wind, and rise along with it? Is my fear greater now because there’s suddenly so much more to lose? I’m forcing myself to bite my tongue lest I say too much. I’m digging in my heels and straining against my own need to run wild and frantic, this raw emotion burning away anything that stands between us. I am the Phoenix. I am the Crone. I am terrified of what will be, but confident that I can do no more than what I’ve always done: live. At least now there’s someone to hold my hand at night, to watch over as I sleep. The villagers will have to take us both, I guess.

My Heart Is A Drum

Anna Singing, by Crista Rock

Singing with my last band.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my passions lately. It’s gradually been dawning on me that I never do any of the things I love most, and I’m trying to figure out why that is. First and foremost on my list is making music, followed closely by writing, with watercolor painting and paper crafting following immediately behind. Dancing and running fall in there somewhere, though I can’t figure out if I like either more or less than origami. The hitch is that I do none of these on a regular basis. Why? My fear of failure, which at this point is appearing to be near-crippling, if I’m forcing myself to look at all of the things I avoid doing just because I don’t think I’ll excel at them.

I’ve taken lessons in piano, guitar, conga and basic percussion, as well as many years of voice. Not much ended up sticking with me; in fact, the only music I still make on a fairly frequent basis is a karaoke night. I love to sing. I want to do it professionally – always have. But I can’t read music (after multiple music theory classes – the terminology has never made enough sense to get stuck in my brain in a way that I can regurgitate it at will) and that makes it almost impossible to create music with other musicians who “get” the terminology required. I only know what sounds good, and can generally learn/remember an entire tune and cadence within a couple of attempts, then move on to harmony, so working in a band has been easy-ish, but not easy enough. I’m also scared of being on stage, so that doesn’t help. It’s not stage fright, exactly – once I’m up there, it’s generally OK. It’s just that I don’t know what to do with myself when all eyes are on me, and if I start thinking about it too much, it’s like when you’re driving and suddenly think about what your feet are doing. If you’ve never done that, try not to – at least once each road trip, I think about which pedal does what and almost kill myself in the process.

The other musical thing I love, and have always wanted to do, is play percussion. I used to have a djembe that I adored, but couldn’t ever find a suitable place to practice without annoying the neighbors. I’ve taken hand drumming lessons, but only one session – just enough to learn to love it but not get good. I’ve always wanted a set of congas, but sometimes I think that I’m getting too old to start something that takes so many years to master. But maybe one day I’ll get rich and have time, and I’ll hire a conga instructor to teach me. I’d also be excited to learn the bodhran (a traditional Irish hand drum), or maybe the tabla (small Indian drums that make this wonderfully deep water-dropping “wub-wub” sound). My favorite instrument, though? The clave, a set of two sticks that you beat together for Latin music in 3/2 or 2/3 time. Simple, yet effective. Plus, I love 3/2 time. It’s what my feet would sing if they could :-)

It’s time to start trying. I don’t know how just yet, but I do know that I’ve always had a deep interest in making magick when I sing, or with singing. So maybe I’ll tackle this from that angle. I can never be “wrong” if I’m doing it for the right reason – even if it’s just for myself at first (as all things must be, were I to be thinking about this logically). And of course, percussion is central to shamanic tradition, something that has long felt like my natural path. I’m starting to cry, a sure sign that I’m vibrating close to the right frequency right now. I’ve found my answer. Thanks for listening, constant readers. Much love.

 

New Week, New Goal(s)

As of Thursday, I was down to 174.4 lbs. – my first five pounds lost. However, I haven’t weighed myself, exercised, or watched what I ate since Thursday night, so there’s a good chance I’m back up a bit. But that’s OK. I’m going to go to sleep in a few minutes, then wake up early-ish tomorrow and get in a good workout. No worries.

My goal for this coming week is to be 173.4 by next Sunday, the 20th of July. I think that’s definitely within my grasp, especially if I do everything I’m supposed to be doing, like watching my calories, eating only fresh, whole foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting in a good 600 or so calories-worth of exercise every day. This week I’m going to up my game a little bit by starting to run every morning and trying to make it out either dancing or bicycling every night for awhile. I haven’t gone biking just for the sake of biking since I was a little kid, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe it’ll be fun!

Along with the weight loss goal, my other huge goal is to get my finances sorted out and come up with a solid plan for my budget moving forward. I’m spending way too much money on food and beverage costs lately, and need to get that firmly under control. If I can come up with some safeguards, I can be putting that money into my savings for much cooler stuff, like vacations, clothing, and paying off bills so that I can be in the black again. Which sounds completely unreal, but I think it can be done with enough hard work.

This is the most boring blog post ever. I’m going to bed, so I can wake up in the morning and accomplish at least a few things with my weekend. Wish me luck!

Week 1 Update: VICTORY!

A week ago, I started watching what I was eating and endeavoring to squeeze a leetle bit more exercise into my day. Using LoseIt.com, I found out that I should be eating about 1240 calories a day in order to lose 2 lbs. a week. Once you add in calories lost through exercising each day (around 400 to 500, depending on day), this meant that realistically I could eat around 1640 calories a day and still come out on top. I’ve been tracking every single bite, except for on the 4th of July, when I took an “off” day and drank/ate everything I wanted to. On average, I lost about half a pound each day.

  • Starting weight (6/30/14): 179.4 lbs. (81.37 kg, or 12.81 stone). 
  • Ending weight (7/6/14): 176.4 lbs. (80.01 kg, or 12.6 stone).

Reflections: The hardest part of this week has been dealing with my emotions. When I get happy, sad, or stressed, my strongest impulse is to eat. Not having the ability to fall back on food was REALLY tough. Also, there were several times when I was supposed to go out with friends to drink and/or eat, and although I cancelled a couple of social engagements due to not thinking I’d be able to cope, last night I went out and had a difficult time of it. I ended up eating a salad with no dressing (ugh) and a small cup of red beans and rice, then sipping on one cocktail when we went out for drinks. Since it was more of a “hanging out with acquaintances” thing than a “drinks with friends” thing, it was even more uncomfortable than typical. As they say, though, them’s the breaks. I’ll endure a few uncomfortable silences in exchange for losing pounds any day.

At any rate, I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I’m not hungry, or tired, or feeling like I’ve overworked myself at all this past week. My goal weight for this week was 177.4 lbs, so I’m a pound lighter than I planned to be, but that’s fine since I’m sure I’ll fluctuate a little in the coming week. My goal for next Sunday is to be 175.4 lbs. Also, I think that for the next week I’ll try stepping up my game just a little bit in the exercise apartment, maybe tack on an additional mile to what I walk each day, and try to get up to burning a solid 500 to 600 calories a day in exercise. Wish me luck!

Poisonous Shame

One of my least favorite personal traits is not always being able to fall down, get up, brush it off and keep moving. When I fail at personal tasks that affect other people – even tiny failures, like forgetting to call a friend at a previously set time – for days afterward I’m consumed with guilt that if only I had tried harder, been a better person, I could have saved everyone the inconvenience. Inconvenience of what, exactly? Being my friend? Having to suffer through knowing me? I’m not sure. It makes my heart hurt to think of all the ways that I could be a better person towards those I love, and on days like today, when my stupidity is playing on repeat in the background of my memory, I just feel sorry that you all have to deal with me.

Simultaneously, however, there’s another thought that keeps rising to the surface. How many people have proven their worth to ME? A handful of you. You know who you are. But only a handful. The rest have been much worse at this game than I seem to be. It gives me hope that maybe I am doing something right, even if I do screw up from time to time. It makes me think that maybe I’m one of the good ones, and maybe in some small degree, my shame is a symptom of that. It makes me regret my humanity less. Not enough to make me feel any less guilty, of course – I ache to be able to take back so many of my actions in life – but enough for me to realize that tomorrow I’ll most likely be OK. I’ll be able to file away the sadness of today and keep moving forward towards doing the right thing next time.

Oh, next time. Ugh.

Weight Loss Presents #1 and #2

I’ve been thinking about it a bit today, and have decided what I’ll be giving myself for reaching my 5 lbs. and 10 lbs. goals. First off, a little background. I started concentrating on losing these stubborn pounds on Sunday, June 30th, at which point I was 179.4 lbs. I’m working to lose 2 lbs. a week, which means that I should (hopefully) reach my first 5 lbs. goal (174.4 lbs.) around July 15th if everything goes right. That’s 13 days from now, slightly less than two weeks. Who knows, maybe I’ll do what I’ve done historically and drop that initial weight quicker – typically I end up losing the first 10 lbs. super quickly, then my body slows down and goes back to the normal 2 lbs. a week thing. Sometimes it will be as much as 10 to 15 lbs. in a week, which would be fun but is definitely not necessary. I just want to keep this gradual and ongoing for the next four and a half months. Anyway, so if everything runs on schedule and I lose 5 lbs. by 7/15, I should lose the next 5 lbs. (putting me at 169.4 lbs.) by the beginning of August. I know, I know, this is all very boring and full of numbers. I’m not too fond of numbers, either, but it’s kind of how this thing works. Just wait until I start taking and posting body measurements – now that’s gonna get super irritating, right? :-)

Anyway, on to the more exciting stuff – my presents!!!

I’ve decided that Present #1, on or around July 15th if all goes well, will be a day at the spa, with a facial, massage, and mani/pedi! Yeah, I know it sounds like I’m setting the bar pretty high, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a member at Massage Envy, and I’ve got 6 months’ worth of services waiting for me to redeem them. Plus, my favorite nail place is right next door and it’s a bit of a hike to get there, so I might as well make a day of it, right? So I’ll get the massage and facial for free, and just have to pay for the mani/pedi. Totally worth it, since I’ve been doing my own nails for a couple of months now and it’s really just sad – I should not be allowed to dabble in nail polish. I think that this time around, I’ll treat myself to a fancier nail design than I typically get. Maybe rhinestones in my pedicure, or chevron nails, or something cool and different. I’ve always been scared to ask for a special design, so maybe this is the time to get bold with it.

As for Present #2, I’ve been jonesing for a seaweed body wrap ever since my last one back in January of 2013 (so sad that it’s been that long – ack!). For those of you who’ve never had a body wrap, they come in slightly different formats, but in general the process includes getting coated in a mud or paste infused with essential oils and other goodness, then getting wrapped up in saran wrap and covered with a blanket. It’s kind of like getting a mud mask, but on your entire body, and it generally is cold and weird and awesome. Afterwards, you shower and get a short massage, and you leave feeling like a million and one dollars. They’re supposed to help you detox, have tighter skin, and shed excess water weight, but really I just love being pampered. Plus, when you get out of that seaweed treatment your skin is unbelievably soft, like baby smooth. It’s amazing. I have a gift certificate to the spa that I’ve been waiting to use, so as soon as I lose that 10 lbs., I’m allowed to head on over to get the royal treatment. I might even put a little extra down and get a second treatment that day, like a short massage, or maybe a salt scrub to make me even more buttery soft. We’ll see.

So what do you think? Have you ever offered yourself incentives when it’s time to undertake an onerous task like weight loss? How’d it work out?

Walletless Weekdays

Along with losing weight, my other biggest goal at the moment is to quit wasting money. Since I seem to be leaking funds like a sieve due to having absolutely no self control when it comes to spending money on food, and since I crave food most when I’m bored or stressed, I’ve decided not to bring my wallet to work anymore. No more boredom or anxiety-induced sandwich feasts, or late afternoon happy hour tacos. I’m only eating what I bring for lunch, which means that today I ate yogurt, hummus and carrots, and some amazing wasabi/soy almonds. It’s making me sad – I really miss self-medicating with bread, and I’d kill for a cup of coffee right about now – but it’s working. Typically by Wednesday I would have wasted $12 a day on lunch, coffee and a pastry, plus sometimes an additional $20 or so after work on cocktails, a bottle of wine, or some snacks to take home.

A dollar here and there adds up, friends. As of today, I’m $36 richer (just counting money saved on lunch/snacks alone) and 1.2 lbs. lighter. Not too shabby, and definitely on track to be at my next goal weight of 177.4 lbs. by Sunday, as long as I don’t screw up too badly on the 4th of July (which counts as a special occasion, and thus = drinking & yummy eats). I’m partially inclined to stay home, but that would be crazy. I’m going to have to learn how to control this at some point in my life, so it might as well be now, right?