Those Lightbulb Moments In Your Thirties

So I’d been starting to get SAD in my new apartment because of a bizarre lighting setup.

When I say SAD, I’m referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder- the state you get into when seasons change, and you start to get depressed because it’s dark. This usually happens in winter, not summer. But because my apartment was very dark, it was more difficult to feel sunny- in every sense of the word.

There are no overhead lights in my main room- just the kitchen and the hallway. This alone would leave the main room very dark, but the situation is compounded by facing into an alleyway, surrounded by a brick wall which very much blocks the sunlight.

I fretted about this for quite awhile once I moved in. I definitely had other things to think about, but for whatever reason, fixing the lighting issue consumed my mind. I thought about all the different lamps I could get. I worried about all the money I’d have to spend on more lamps. I already have two lamps, and their dim yellow glow didn’t make the room any less dreary.

On a recent trip to CVS, I went to buy detergent and spotted a cool looking ‘Flood’ lightbulb sitting on a shelf. It was cheap and it was 90 watts. I couldn’t remember the wattage of my current lightbulbs, and the floodlights seemed like they might be better, so I bought two of them.

When I replaced the lightbulbs I already had with my new findings, the room lit up. Problem solved.

Its so funny the things we sometimes stress about forever that can be solved cheaply and easily in minutes. Occasionally an item on my to do list that I’ve been agonizing over for weeks or months and finally force myself to do ends up being finished in minutes. This was one of those lightbulb moment times.

Of course then there are the times when you think something will take minutes, but it takes hours. And that can suck.

But it the point is, you have to force yourself to start- to at least try SOMETHING- in order to figure out if you have a simple lightbulb task on your hands.

And wouldn’t it be nice to cross that task that’s been bugging you for weeks off your list- in minutes- once and for all?

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What’s Been the Best Use of Your Money So Far?

Hope you’ve been having a great weekend so far! Mine has been pretty relaxing. My fiancé’s father was in town, so we hung out with him and enjoyed the city. We saw Spy on Friday night (amazing! who doesn’t love Melissa McCarthy?) and have been eating our way through West Los Angeles – highlights have included brick oven pepperoni pizza, graham cracker frozen yogurt and spaghetti squash sautéed in garlic. We’ve also been running long-delayed errands.

While we were wandering around in Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday and I was fawning over expensive Keurig coffee makers, I started thinking about money. Specifically, how money makes us happy. Many of us have more disposable income in our 30s and we’re able to spend more money on things like rent for nicer apartments, clothing, electronics, trips and having children. Granted, I’m not as far along money/nest-egg wise since I was just in graduate school, but it seems fair to say that most 30-somethings are financially better-off than they were in their 20s.

So the question circling around in my head yesterday was: what’s been the best use of your money in your life so far? For me, it’s been anything education or writing related: writing workshops, grad school expenses, the cost of entering competitions and trips. All of these are experiences, which most research says make a person happier than spending money on material purchases. There’s a great article about this phenomenon in Fast Company, The Science of Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things.

I found this particular aspect to the rationale of spending money on experiences fascinating:

You’re also much less prone to negatively compare your own experiences to someone else’s than you would with material purchases. One study conducted by researchers Ryan Howell and Graham Hill found that it’s easier to feature-compare material goods (how many carats is your ring? how fast is your laptop’s CPU?) than experiences. And since it’s easier to compare, people do so.

– Author, Jay Cassano

I guess it’s also because we all value such different experiences. I’m sure a ton of people would find spending $500 on a writing course that meets for three hours one night a week after work to be a waste. They might rather take a weekend trip to go sky-diving.

Looking back on your spending in your life thus-far, what’s been the most profound bang for your buck, so to speak?

 

How Prosperous Are You In Your Thirties?

Today, I meditated for the first time in quite awhile. It felt amazing after all the chaos of the past few months.

My favorite feel good meditations are from the Meditation Society of Australia, and their podcast is called ‘Learn To Meditate.’ It’s a free podcast and I highly recommend it. What I like about these podcasts is that there’s a short lesson before each meditation. The lessons are gentle and always put me in a good state of mind before I meditate. Most of the meditations are also guided, which I like. I’m impatient and not the ‘best’ meditator, whatever that means, so it’s nice to have a guiding voice and some structure sometimes.

I’ve already listened to all 50 of the society’s podcasts, but I just listen to my favorites again and again. Today I listened to one called Authentic Prosperity.

As I listened, I could actually feel myself  relaxing and putting better energy into the room. Now, I know that sounds hokey, but bear with me. I pride myself on being reasonable and down to earth, so I’ll clearly explain what I mean.

Prosperity comes in many forms. I immediately think of it in terms of money, but the meditation explains it in so many other ways.

You can be prosperous in health.

You can be prosperous in friends.

You our can be prosperous in family.

You can be prosperous in career.

You can be prosperous in peace.

You can be prosperous in love.

You can be prosperous right now.

As I meditated, I felt a small bit of peace and calm I hadn’t felt in awhile. I remembered the love I felt before I went through the issues of the past few months. Nothing new had happened, and at any moment, life would come back and throw random things my way. These things might hurt me, maybe even a lot, and everything might get chaotic once again.

But for a few minutes, and in the present moment, I was okay. And for a few moments, before the possible storm of life might hit me again, I realized how prosperous I truly am.

Even when chaotic messes are going on around you, and everything looks dark, see if you can get a few minutes to just sit. Try and feel peace and love inside and around you. It may feel hard, but just relax for a moment.

And you may realize how very prosperous you truly are.

Discovering More About Your Body in Your 30s

I don’t know about you, but since I turned thirty three years ago, I’ve learned a lot of new information about my body. Maybe I’m just taking better care of myself and scheduling doctors appointments where I ask for professional feedback, or maybe I’m just more curious than I’ve ever been before. Whatever the reasons, I’m finding out new information about my physical self that surprises me each time.

In this past year alone, I learned from my eye doctor that I have an enlarged optic nerve and more than one nurse/doctor has commented on how surprisingly low my blood pressure is. One nurse joked that I must be really adapting to the laid-back California lifestyle. Then, at a pilates class last weekend, the teacher informed me that I may have mild scoliosis in my back. Instead of being alarmed, I was surprised and somewhat excited! It was the same feeling I get when Aaron (who I’ve been with for six years) reveals some new story from his past. Just when you think you know all there is to know…there’s more.

I find it fascinating that we live so intimately with our bodies, and yet, can be unaware of so many of our own inner workings. Our bodies keep revealing themselves to us as we get older. We get to live in a state of perpetual discovery and wonder.

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The Paradox of the Unpacked Box in Your Thirties

I’ve been thinking a lot about boxes lately. This is probably because I just moved.

There are boxes all over my new apartment, most of them still neatly taped up. I’ve been beyond exhausted this month, as I talked all about in my last post, Is The Saturn Return In your Thirties A Real Thing?  So, the last thing I’ve wanted to do is unpack. image

This is unlike me, as I usually like to get things done fast, and all at once. But it seems I used the last of my energy to get the boxes packed, and now I can only stare at them listlessly and hope for them to magically put themselves away.

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Alas, it’s been four days in the new place, and nothing has put itself away yet. So today I decided to crack open a bunch of boxes.

And everything got a lot more messy.

The nice stack of boxes all sealed and piled up was so much neater than the messy pile of clothes and nonsense that I pulled out and didn’t know where to put.

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And for awhile I just wanted to put it all back into the boxes again and seal them up. Or I wanted to jump to the end and have everything all be done.

The hardest part is being in the middle of the unpacking process (still there now), where I have to make things more chaotic in order to progress.

Tonight, I was talking to a friend about how if you’re feeling sad or upset, you need to feel your feelings and express them in order to grow and move on from them. And to move through them. Fake positivity all the time just leaves you in a state of stagnation and  annoys all your Facebook friends.

Then I thought about the boxes, and how in your thirties, all you want is to feel like you’re on top of things and like you have things figured out. You want things to be neat and squared away. Boxed away, perhaps? But the real truth is that in order to get things squared away for real, you have to get messy and uncomfortable. It’s not going to feel good and is not going to look good when you take things out and they get everywhere for awhile. And maybe people will judge you when you’re in the middle of that. But screw those people. You have to unpack the neat boxes, get messy, and see what’s inside.

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It’ll likely look like chaos and maybe feel even worse, but only then can you begin to put it away.

And move beyond it.

What are some of the boxes in your life?

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Where’s Your Happy Place?

Firstly, thank you Laura for your honest post yesterday. When you’re bombarded with happy Facebook posts and people’s gorgeous Instagram pictures that look like they’ve been professionally creatively directed, it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about their struggles.

I’ve been in a kind of crappy mood this last week. Mainly, it’s because I graduated from my MFA program and have no set path going forward. I also feel alone in my city, LA, which still feels new after almost two years. But on the bright side, today I went to Santa Barbara to accompany my boyfriend to his doctor’s appointment. Since my schedule is pretty flexible – um, completely flexible now – I thought I’d take advantage of my ability to be free and take spontaneous road trips.

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One of the Santa Barbara court rooms

It was pretty glorious. Santa Barbara is a city (town?) that always makes me feel connected to myself. While I can’t articulate exactly why or how, it feels like me.  The three times I’ve been there, I feel like I’m glowing and happy. Do you have places like that? I can’t say I have many, so when I find them, I’m always intrigued and grateful.

When I’m in Santa Barbara, I love wandering the main stretch on State Street, having a very affordable and amazing massage at the Relaxation Station, eating delicious things (deep dish pizza today), and wandering the Santa Barbara Courthouse (which is gorgeous and also a working courthouse during the weekdays).

Here are some pictures from the adventure today.

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Me at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Not on trial (thankfully).

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View from SB to the Mountains

 

Is the Saturn Return in Your Thirties a Real Thing?

I wasn’t going to write this post. You’ll see why below. I’ve decided I’d rather not live in secret hardship, so I’m sharing a very private experience with you guys.

Remember the post I wrote about the Saturn Return that happens in your late twenties and early thirties? If you want to know more about it, click the link above. I basically said that Saturn is the planet of difficult and important life lessons, and when he returns to the same place he was at at the time of your birth (about every 28-31 years), you end up going through a LOT. (We’re going to call Saturn a ‘he’ because I’ve anthropomorphisized ‘him’ into this strict, male professor-like character. Just go with it.)

Well, I thought my Saturn Return was over, plus I thought I didn’t even believe in anything astrological. But if the Saturn Return is real, Saturn hit me hard last year with a terrible, dragged-out and heartbreaking breakup to someone I’d been with for five years who I thought I was going to marry. And then Saturn hit me again with a major, harrowing move out of the apartment I shared with my ex.

I felt some peace this year and thought Saturn had come and gone, but he just tapped me on the shoulder for one last laugh (perhaps I didn’t learn some lesson the first time?) and turned my world completely upside down once again. I don’t think I’ve ever been as stressed as I’ve been for the past few months. So stressed that I’m afraid to even write this now, because I keep thinking ‘oh my god, what if things aren’t over? What if the hardships keep coming like they have been? Please no!’

Do you ever feel this way? Afraid to even talk about the bad things, because you’re afraid there will be even MORE bad things? And then you’ll be like ‘I wish I was grateful for THOSE bad things, because these NEW bad things are oh so much worse!’

Ugh. I usually try to be so positive and so grateful. But I’ll admit to you finally- it’s been hard. I feel completely burnt out.

I can barely write about what happened, because it’s too fresh, but I don’t want to leave you guys hanging. So in a nutshell I’ll say it involved a major betrayal by someone I thought was my good friend, a terrible and destroyed living environment, complete paranoia, exposure to amazing cruelty, and a very difficult and dragged out move…once again. And I think this was all extra hard because of my first bad experience with the ex before. I just kept thinking ‘why is all this stress happening AGAIN??!

I’m trying to be more positive and grateful for all that I have. And also let myself feel the sadness and the stress because it’s healthy.

Yet I’m still living in post-traumatic fear, and I just keep thinking these terrible words ‘please don’t let anyone get sick or die. That would be worse. So much worse.’

Ugh. Ok, I wrote it. So now you know: if you’re going through some secret hell, you’re not alone. Please don’t think you’re alone. I’m here. We’re here. Reach out 🙂

And last night I even slept for almost 13 hours. Which was very helpful. And probably very necessary.

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