How To Never Get Bored In Your Thirties

I’m almost never bored. I feel like there’s always something new to do, and a multitude of things that I’ve been wanting to get to. Sometimes I think I might be bored for a second, but then I realize I’m just not thinking about all the activities and projects and entertainment I want to play around with. Boredom is likely a symptom of poor planning. If you set yourself up to catch boredom in it’s tracks, you can either use the extra time for easygoing, contemplative moments, or put the time towards something you’ve been wanting to do anyway.

Start a list and write down a bunch of things you’d really like to do but never seem to have time for. My list includes:

  • Watch YouTube Videos on new hairstyle/makeup ideas
  • Practice singing (the word practice can easily be replaced by the word ‘start’)
  • Get out that dusty paint set and finally paint!
  • Organize Retirement Account
  • Rush a Broadway show
  • Study Turbo Tax for self-employed individuals so you can fire accountant and do your taxes yourself (hopefully my accountant does not read this blog).
  • Relearn Italian
  • Journal (I have many prompts for this, though freestyle works too)
  • Cook a new recipe from my huge and glorious vegan cookbook
  • Watch tutorials on basic Photoshop techniques

There are many more items on this list. When I’m done with my original To Do list (I’m somewhat of a to do list-aholic) I can look at my long term list and there’s always something big and/or interesting I can be doing that doesn’t include browsing Facebook or Instagram for hours (which does happen and is almost never happy-making).

Here are some other suggestions for stopping listless boredom in its tracks, effortlessly:

  • Start a list of tv shows/movies you want to watch that are currently streaming. When you’re bored, begin!
  • Make a list of people you’ve been wanting to call more regularly and finally call them! You have time!
  • Make a list of books you want to read…and finally start reading them!
  • Start a list of pampering moments you can give to yourself (face masks, hair masks, bath time, anything goes!)

I use and am obsessed with Wunderlist for all my to do list needs… this blog isn’t specifically affiliated with them in any way although I wish it was.

Here’s to never being bored again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is Unrequited Love Really Love?

Most of us have felt it. That horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, where we love someone who doesn’t love us back. Some of us have even been in full blown relationships where unrequited love has reared its head. What I’m wondering is: Is this ridiculously maddening kind of unrequited love actually love?

There’s a lot of debate on this subject (google it), but here’s my hunch: it depends. Whether your unrequited love is actually love depends on how well you ¬†know the person you’re deeply in love with- not just how long you have known them for or how much you’ve heard about them, but how much you truly know about who they really are.

When unrequited love occurs in situations where you only know a person on the surface or haven’t known the person for very long, it’s usually not love, but lust or attraction.

A counter thought to this that is more of a paradox: if you feel deep love for someone who does not love you back but you feel joyful simply loving them without receiving their love in return, this is true unconditional love. In this case, the type of love where you feel pain from not having love in return is actually not love, but attachment. Therefore a type of love needing no love in return wouldn’t truly ever be unrequited love because it wouldn’t need to ever be requited. In fact, the object of your love wouldn’t even need to know that you love them for you to reap the benefits of this love. You could simply let the love blossom within yourself and enjoy all its benefits on your own.

 

 

October Fools Month

We turned 3! This blog is officially 3 years old as of October 2nd- my birthday. I turned 33 and the blog turned 3. Lots of 3s going on right now. Which I feel is appropriate for a blog about your 30’s.

In honor of our 3rd year, Jane and I had a discussion about the purpose of the blog and some new things we want to try and play with. So October is kind of going to be April Fools Day – or April Fools Month, really. We’re not going to prank you- necessarily- we’re just going to experiment with different and possibly weird styles and topics.

Some of the changes may be unnoticeable, and some may be out there. Some posts may have exactly the same topics and tones as before. We honestly don’t know exactly what will happen. But we’ve turned off the comments for now so that we can feel as free as possible to bring you our deepest and strangest thoughts and desires without censorship ūüėČ

And this will likely extend throughout November and December as well, so it’ll be more like October Fools Month times 3! But we’re excited to play around and hopefully you’ll like it and will be inspired to try new things too!

For those of you who’ve been with us for all three years, thank you so much! And for those new to following OMGImThirty, we thank you so much for following us and hope you’re having fun!

 

Rebirth! How Beginning Something Can Feel Like Labor Pain

When I first start something uncomfortably new, I have major resistance to it. And not just slight, nervous resistance. Sometimes my body wages an all out down and dirty guns blazing battle to stay the way it was before.

This can manifest as anything from a mild depression to serious nausea or absolute panic. When these kinds of intense feelings arise, I’m easily sidetracked by the feelings and may not even realize they’re arising from the new activity or habit. I simply start dedicating all my mental space to “solving” the bad feeling(s), ¬†instead of working on the new habit- which is precisely what my fear is trying to trick me into doing.

A bunch of alarm bells go off in my mind. When I finally trace the uncomfortable feelings to the new habit, I of course want to quit my new habit and go back to the old way I was doing things. Sometimes quitting a new thing is the right choice- the new habit may not be right for you, or it may not be the right time in your life for that challenge. Other times, staying the course just a little longer allows the feelings to pass and enables you to grow more than you ever thought possible. The hardest trick of all is to know when to continue and when to quit.

When I first started tracking every dollar I spent, using the app Goodbudget (Which I talk about in detail here, I felt vaguely nauseous every day. I felt this unreasonable, irrational panic for what I thought was no reason. I couldn’t figure it out. I’m not the type of person to get panicked or anxious for no reason, so I tried to track down the source of these feelings, and would you believe it took me more than a week to figure out it was my little money app??

So I’m walking around with these unreasonable feelings of depression and nausea and I can’t figure out where they’re coming from until one day I realize they’re stemming from fear and guilt as I write down where I’m spending my money! Once I realized that the panic was coming from my new money habit, I was able to actually relax a bit, the feelings slowly subsided, and now I have zero panic about using Goodbudget to track my spending. Instead, tracking my spending makes me feel empowered, and I’ve been tracking money for over a year now.

There’s a huge range of new habits that can trigger what I called “Labor pains” in the title -since you’re birthing what’s essentially a new version of you into the world. I’ve never been in labor personally so for the sake of experience, I’m going to call these pains growing pains from here on out. Some likely candidates for growing pains (and what have triggered them for me) include a change in exercise habits, dietary habits, spending habits, a relationship or a relationship status, a job or within a job. Also, tracking or attempting to become aware of any personal habits can possibly trigger new growing pains- so journaling or meditating or getting a Fitbit or going to therapy or seeing a new doctor or opening up to someone for the first time may cause strange new feelings to arise- and these feelings can occasionally be confusing or painful or uncomfortable.

It’s up to you to decide whether you want or need to push through these feelings and find out if there’s growth on the other side. It’s a hard call and I respect you immensely whether you take on the challenge or make the conscious decision that it’s not the right new step for you right now. ¬†These kinds of growth challenges in our thirties aren’t at all simple.

I guess that’s why they call this adulthood, kids.

 

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You Don’t Have to Do What Everybody Else Does In Your Thirties

I guess it’s human nature to want to do what’s cool. It’s also human nature to want to feel included. And to figure out what’s best and then go and get it. To get all there is to get out of life. Conquer the world and have it all, you amazing thirty-something you!

As you may have discovered, “having it all” in your thirties, though the cool thing to have, includes a whole lot of things. And a whole lot of expectations. And the word “cool”itself is an extremely loaded word. Sometimes it’s even cool to be “uncool” (let these words play in your head for a moment and see what images of coolness they conjure: hipsters, stoics, romantics, math geeks, solo travelers, basket-weaving majors, parents… Simply labels, but the coolness levels will vary very much depending on who’s reading this.)

Because the thirties are such a loaded decade, we may tend to feel like life failures if we haven’t figured out all the things already. After all, it’s “cool” in your thirties to have figured out your career. Very cool to be financially stable. So cool it’s obvious to get married. To have kids. To buy a house. There are “everybody’s doing it you’renotwhynotwhat’swrongwithyou??” expectations here. Just because you or someone you know defies these expectations doesn’t mean the rules aren’t there.

After all, weren’t our twenties the decade where we figured out who we were? That’s over, that’s done. We already explored all our life choices in our twenties so we now get it together in our thirties. Wrap it up, people! Exploration’s over! The thirties are the decade where you have your shit together already! Right? Right??

Are we excelling in our career? Are we finally married? Do we finally have an adorable baby? Are we able to travel the world? Are we financially independent? Are we pursuing our dreams? Are we in a beautiful home? Do we have a perfectly fit and strong body? Are our morning and night routines down to a beautiful harmonious rhythm? Jeez, there are a lot of expectations in our thirties.

Sometimes I feel better when I cut out the expectations and the chatter. Because I’m allowed to let all of that go. Really, I am. And you are too.

Really?

Realize that you don’t have to do what other people are doing. You don’t have to do what you always thought you would do in your thirties. You don’t have to rush to accomplish a goal that other people expect you to achieve but you maybe don’t believe in or feel like doing yet. You don’t have to feel bad because other people are doing things you thought you would be doing. Or if you are doing a bunch of ‘societally expected’ things and are surrounded by people who aren’t, that’s okay too! You’re where you are and that’s where you should be. You can let it all go. Really. Truly.

Sometimes I realize that I’m asking everyone for opinions on my life and calling it “venting,” when really I’m chattering on as a nervous excuse to continue a negative thought pattern again and again. ¬†I ask friends for opinions on my life and then I worry about disappointing them if I haven’t followed their advice. Which sometimes changes anyway. Sometimes, it’s great to vent, and venting in itself can be very healthy. But venting negativity needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. I have to know when I’m venting for a fantastic release or when I’m venting to reinforce my own bad feelings again and again and again.

I’ve also found that sometimes I need to stop and center myself to think about what I really want. Do I really want to make a ton of money by climbing up a corporate ladder, or am I simply envious of some of my friends who are doing that? Do I really like being super busy, or is it just “cool” to be busy? Do I actually want to travel all the time, or am I simply surrounded by people who love to travel all the time? Do I want to be married because I’m 32 and it’s ‘getting to be about that time already jeeeeeez!!’ or do I want to be married because I’ve found a person I love and actually want to spend the rest of my life with? Once I see cultural expectations for what they are, they’re easier to spot and release. It’s always a case by case basis- some expectations are things that truly make my heart sing. While others- come to think of it- don’t increase my happiness at all.

It’s an amazing release to let go of what you “should” do. And gradually, but also suddenly, what you should do becomes strikingly clear anyway.

 

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Why Do Some People Annoy Me When They’re #Blessed?

I enjoy when other people are happy. Most of the time. However, every once in awhile, someone strikes me as false- like they’re hitting me with Bright Rays Of Sweet Sunshine Happiness…but my gut is bothered by something. And I never really knew what was bothering me before, but recently I think I can hazard a guess. It’s what I call a duality. Or really, ¬†in these cases, it’s a missing duality.

What is a duality? Well, I believe that a lot of times, two opposite things are happening at once to all of us. Usually we only think that one thing on one end of a spectrum can be happening at one time, but this is false. Here are some examples:

  • Dealing with future goals and being in the present moment at the very same time
  • Being happy and being sad at the same time
  • Something being painful but strengthening at the same time
  • Being upset about something but loving yourself anyway, simultaneously
  • Feeling really scared of something and being okay with that same fear all at once

There are many more of these examples, and it’s an interesting topic that I could write at length about…but I’ll keep it short because thinking about a duality is a counterintuitive way of thinking and I don’t want to convolute things. Dualities are paradoxes that aren’t obvious at first- how can two opposite things happen in our minds at the exact same time? But they can and they do.

So when I talk about ‘missing dualities,’ I’m talking about refusing to allow the second/opposite feeling into ourselves. I figured this out because I used to do this all the time- I’d be sad about something, but instead of acknowledging it, even to myself, I’d cover it up, slap on a smile, and not let it out. I’d push on without hearing the feeling at all- I’d just tell it to go away. I’d be #blessed but not actually happy or centered.

Or sometimes I’d be the opposite way- I’d feel anxious about something, and I’d think to myself “this is all there is. I’m always like this. It’s never ending,” and I’d go on and on about how hard things are…without giving one thought to the strengthening and good things happening at the same time.

When I acknowledged the dualities, I could better look at a feeling and know that it wasn’t the whole picture. I could hear my occasional sadness and know that it isn’t me. I could be happy and acknowledge sadness or fear that still occurs.

Dualities are everywhere. Knowing about them started to clear up what used to baffled me. I’m still working on acknowledging dualities and seeing them when they appear in myself. Maybe hearing about them will strike a familiar chord for you too.

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Travel Makes NYC Feel Like Land

I have a list of blog topics that I jot down when ideas strike me but I don’t have time to write an entire OMG post. When I go through this list weeks or months later, a funny thing happens. Old ideas don’t always make sense to me anymore. I forget where my head was at when I made the note. I literally have hundreds of these random topic notes. For example, I have one item labeled “a small concession in your 30s.” I assume this was to be the title of a post, and it’s maybe sorta catchy now, but for the life of me I’m not sure exactly what I was conceding at the time. I have some ideas now of what this could have been, but none of them necessarily sound familiar. There has not been an “ah ha!” moment.¬†

One of my topic notes is “Travel Makes NYC feel like land.” When I saw it again after what must have been at least a month, I thought I must have meant “travel makes NYC feel like home”..or even, “traveling for work makes NYC feel like home.” Because I feel like I usually enjoy traveling for fun, and less so for work. But even with pleasure travel, I always end up taking myself with me, so if I had any worries before traveling, being away doesn’t necessarily solve them. Being away makes me aware of other things, which in turn does help a lot, but it’s different…if that makes any sense.

But maybe travel does make NYC feel like land. NYC is my place- I was born and raised here. I know the crazies on the subway well. I know the familiar must-do sensation of pushing gently but hardily to get into a crowded train car. I know what it feels like to know my stop has arisen on the subway, even when I’m asleep. I know the feeling of walking along Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side, even in winter, and feeling the warm comfort of staring at $4,000 dresses through crystal glass. I have funny memories of trying to sell rocks in Central Park as a kid and dreamy memories of listening to concerts on the park’s grass while wondering about life.¬†

I guess sometimes I feel adrift when I travel away from my place, and NYC really does feel like land. My familiarity with New York in addition to getting to be here for awhile helps me feel centered lately. Especially after I’d been traveling for months straight without more than 4 day breaks and suddenly am able stay home for awhile- at least 3 weeks at a time. It takes awhile to clear out the imbalance from all the travel or to even realize it’s there. But I think waking up in my own bed day after day has helped me feel centered when I hadn’t completely recognized that I was off-centered. Having a similar schedule that I can control is similarly appealing. Seeing friends and family when I want to instead of being physically separated from them is very nice.¬†

I never would have realized that NYC felt like land if I hadn’t traveled away from it so much. I might have been one of the many people who gets tired of the big, bustling city and takes it for granted…its easy to be that way. I get that way with other things and have to manually bring myself back to appreciation. But I was adrift in the open sea and then I finally was able to get back to my land, New York, and grab ahold for a second and say yessssssss… thank you beautiful city!!!! And New York feels like a refuge.

What can I give you guys from this experience? I don’t know- I’m still figuring out the lesson. I’m resting and enjoying for now. Perhaps that there’s a centering you can only find if you go elsewhere and finally return. That’s when you really appreciate your way back to where you began.¬†¬†

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Is Your Mind Worried About Becoming Jobless and Homeless (or What is Meditation?)

A few mornings ago I didn’t feel like meditating. So I went to Youtube, where I get some of my favorite meditation videos, and typed in ‘Meditation when you don’t feel like meditating.’

What came back were a series of videos about what meditation is. A few of them were created by monks, and were quite interesting. I always love when people talk about what meditation is and is not, because I sometimes get asked this question and I can’t think of the answer exactly- not off the top of my head .

Anyway, this Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche, had a 5 minute video that really clarified a lot of things for me about meditation. I’ll summarize his video here.

First, the problem most of us have with meditation is that there are a ton of thoughts racing through our heads as we’re meditating, and we feel like we’ve ‘failed’ if we can’t quiet them.

But, as Mingyur Rinpoche says, and as many of the best meditation teachers say, meditation isn’t about forcing your ‘monkey mind’ to stop.

We are trying to block all thoughts and emotions and to think of absolutely nothing.

But meditation actually isn’t about blocking thoughts and thinking of nothing.

Or can meditation just about blissing out and being peaceful and open? Why can’t I do that? Why can’t I bliss out and be peaceful and open, dammit? What is wrong with me?!

But meditation actually isn’t about doing that anyway, so relax.

Another problem many of us have with meditating is that our minds will start telling us stuff to do during a meditation, such as “I have to call Zach, I have to buy detergent, I can’t be wasting this time- I have to put my expense report together” etc.

But meditation isn’t about following each and every demand of your monkey mind.

So what the heck IS meditation all about then? If meditation isn’t about saying ‘hey GET OUT!’ to your mind and your thoughts… And it’s not about saying ‘okay, yes sir!’ to your mind.. then..?

Meditation is about making friends with your monkey mind.

So what does your mind like and want? AND what do YOU want?¬†These questions need to have the same answer…Because you don’t want to just give your mind what it wants while you miserably follow (i.e I have to miserably think the same depressing thoughts over and over beccause I have NO CHOICE BECAUSE THAT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENS UGHHHHHHH WHYYYYYYYY.)

But screaming at your mind to STOP THINKING STUPID THOUGHTS GODDAMMIT ¬†JUST STOP IT STOP IT RIGHT NOW doesn’t work either. Your mind doesn’t like being yelled at or told to go away or to stop thinking- and it will sometimes royally disobey and do the exact opposite of what you’re screaming at it about.

So what does your mind like? It likes to have a job. “Without a job your monkey mind thinks it’s jobless and will soon become homeless” -Mingyur Rinpoche

Your mind is always active and wants a job. So when you give a job to your monkey mind, it’s a win-win situation. Your monkey mind is happy because it has a job, and you’re happy because you’re the boss. Your mind is your employee and you are the employer-not the other way around. And in this way, you’re free. You liberate yourself from the monkey mind.

So what does this mean????!!!

Meditation is giving your monkey mind a part- time job.

Just tell your monkey mind, “okay mind, we’re going to meditate, let’s do a job right now, let’s watch our breath.” or “let’s repeat these mantra words.” Don’t give your mind a full-time job…a few minutes a day of meditation is enough.

Also, don’t “punish” your mind if it doesn’t follow the ‘job’ all the time…just simply bring it back to it’s job. Your brain isn’t going to stop thinking just because you’re meditating, but when you give your mind a job and step back, you’ll be able to see those thoughts clearly and let them pass by. Mingyur Rinpoche says it best: In muddy water you can’t see anything, but in still water you can see all the fish swimming around.

So get still. And slowly, slowly, your mind WILL become more peaceful and pliable. And meditation really will bring you to a place where YOU are in charge and are friends with your mind…plus you may start to see some added benefits of newfound love, compassion, and clarity.

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What the Heck are Fixed Index Annuities? (And are they a good idea for retirement?)

One of the ways I fall asleep at night is by reading nonfiction books. I like these books, don’t get me wrong, but they still don’t totally suck me in and keep me awake like fiction books sometimes do. Usually, as I’m in bed reading my nonfiction book of choice for a few minutes, my eyelids get heavy and I drift off. It’s a very effective, as well as instructive, bedtime routine.

For quite awhile, my nightly book of choice has been Tony Robbins’ Money, Master the Game.¬†I’m a big Tony Robbins fan, as I enjoy his motivational talks and writings, and was extremely excited to see that he’d written a book on finance- one of my favorite topics.

I devoured a lot of the beginning of the book (which got me through quite a lot of bedtimes as the book is 638 pages long). I really enjoyed most of the way Tony Robbins was trying to make finance information accessible to everyone, and he even included interviews with finance experts I loved such as Jack Bogle from Vanguard. A bulk section of the book was concerned with savings accounts and starting a retirement account, as well as the magic of compound interest- I love these subjects. These are some basic money topics to me, but I enjoy being reminded, and many people don’t understand concepts such as compound interest, which Robbins makes easy.

However, somewhere in the last third of the book, I got lost. The subject of Fixed Index Annuities came up and stayed prominent for many, many pages. Robbins was touting how great annuities are, and how the right annuity would bring you retirement income for life. I was extremely confused and started thinking “how have I not heard anything about any kind of annuity from any finance blogger or writer or podcaster ever before?” I was baffled. For years, I’ve listened to the podcasts and read a few of the blogs and books of some quite entertaining and well-known finance professionals including Suze Orman, Dave Ramsey, Farnoosh Tohlrabi, J. Money, Shannon McLay, Ramit Sethi, Paula Pant, J.D Roth, and more. I couldn’t remember any of them ever suggesting, or even bringing up, annuities.

I actually reread the entire 638 page book (it’s a break from my other favorite bedtime book, The Elegant Universe), and once again attempted to understand Robbins’ take on fixed annuities, but to no avail.

In the back of my mind, I associate annuities with scams. But Tony Robbins was so convincing in his book, even talking about how variable annuities are the actual scams, and fixed annuities are the good ones. So I thought maybe I had missed something. And, in the interest of this blog, and for my own personal pleasure (I have some weird pleasures), I looked everything up, paying special attention to my favorite finance experts and finance news sites, including Forbes and Suze Orman, to see what they had to say.

Basically, without going into the extremely complex and intense detail, my hunch was right. Unbiased (i.e non-commission-based) finance professionals almost never recommend annuities- unless they’re still somehow trying to sell you something…like an annuity. There are very rare circumstances in which SOME annuities would kind of make sense, but those circumstances generally affect people in one of two categories:

  1. If you have an extremely high income and have maxed out both your 401k and IRA and want to try putting tax deferred money elsewhere.
  2. If you are extremely, incredibly risk averse and would rather have complete peace of mind that you will have some money while alive than a good rate of return. Because the odds are against you that you’ll have more money for yourself and for your beneficiaries (spouse, kids, etc) with an annuity than with any other retirement strategies (401ks, IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc).

Otherwise, low cost index funds in IRAs, Roth IRAs, and 401ks are significantly better retirement options, with much better rates of return and way lower fees.

Again, without going into numbingly complex details, the issues with most annuities include:

  • Most people selling them stand to make a major profit off of you, and may not inform you of the other retirement options you have. So there can be quite a bit of shadiness in the annuities business because of the high commissions paid out.
  • Your money is tied up for a very long time, and you will pay major fees if you try to take it out early! These fees can range from 10% up to 20%! So even if you purchase an annuity for $50,000 and in a month you change your mind, you can’t get that money back without getting hit with a ridiculous fee. About $5000 (10%) will already have been removed from your 50k as a commission fee to whoever sold you the annuity! Plus you’ll get hit with that major fee for early withdrawal, so your $50,000 can possibly become only $38,000 in the span of only one month!
  • If you die early, your beneficiaries can get absolutely nothing! The one major benefit of most annuities is a guaranteed monthly income for life, until you die. So if you live a VERY long time, you may somewhat benefit from an annuity. But an annuity is actually a life insurance product, and the companies are banking on you dying earlier rather than later- because if you die early, in most situations, the rest of your payout is their’s to keep! And even if you find an annuity that leaves your money to your beneficiaries (which will of course be pricier to begin with), the beneficiaries will have to pay taxes on all of the interest your money made! So if your original 50K grew to 150K, your beneficiaries will have to pay taxes on the difference- that means paying taxes on the 100K difference!! That’s a huge tax bill!

So, I’m sticking with my classic retirement strategy- the Roth IRA, filled with low cost index funds from Vanguard. I write about Roth IRAs and how to set one up here. ¬†And although I enjoy Tony Robbins’ advice and greatly respect him, I’m not planning on taking any of his advice on annuities.

If you want more information on annuities, here are some of my sources for this article:

The Motley Fool annuity advice

Suze Orman explains annuities

Time Magazine’s advice about annuities

Forbes talks in detail about annuities

Get Rich Slowly shares annuity knowledge

As always, feel free to ask me any questions. I’m just learning about this topic myself, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

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What Are Some of the Smallest Baby Step Lifestyle Changes You’ve Made in Your Thirties?

It’s amazing how habits take shape and slowly, incrementally change the structure of our lives. I feel like it’s usually not the big, sweeping ‘grand decisions’ made in bold statements that change our lives (ie most New Years Resolutions, most “I’ll never drink again!” statements, most “no more sugar for life” proclamations, etc), but actually the small changes made in private moments and repeated again and again that actually make a major long term impact.

In the past¬†year, I’ve made a few changes- most of them arbitrarily or unpremeditated. But these particular changes have slowly but surely changed my everyday patterns of thinking and feeling. Here’s a list of the ones the made the biggest impact.

1. Deleting the Facebook app from my phone- I did this in a moment of pain and anguish on election night back in November. I mean, you get it. But I never put the app back, and that in turn has me going on Facebook a whole lot less. Which in turn frees up a lot of my time. Which also in turn really tones down a bad habit I have of comparing myself to others. I still go onto Facebook and read stuff and post things, but the amount of time I spend on the site has decreased immeasurably. Results of deleting Facebook app on my phone: I feel happier and have more time. And I still have Facebook so I don’t even feel any weird “I deleted my profile feel sorry for me” stress or Fear Of Missing Out.

2. Starting to make green smoothies full of vegetables¬†– I’ve made green smoothies on and off for a few years now, but it’s only recently that I followed nutritionist Kimberly Snyder’s basic recipe for her diet staple: the Glowing Green Smoothie. This smoothie is made up of all vegetables with the inclusion of an apple, almond milk or water, and some stevia. She includes a bit more fruit but I’d rather eat that fruit separately. This smoothie is the equivalent of having something like three or four salads before lunch, without all that annoying chewing. The ingredients of my smoothie, if you want to try it, are a head of romaine, either a bunch of celery or a large cucumber, a handful or two of spinach leaves, a handful of cilantro, an apple, half a lemon, stevia to taste, ice, and a bunch of almond milk or water. Results: I put a TON of nutrients in my body before I have time to think about anything or eat a bunch of nonsense food. Therefore my mind feels clearer and my body feels happy.

3. Tracking my spending- I wrote about this in the post How Tracking Money is Like Weighing Yourself¬†and then again in The Anti-Budget Budget In Your Thirties. I began using the app Goodbudget to track each and every dollar I’ve spent. I started this back in June, and it was very painful. I didn’t want to track every dollar because I felt like I knew where every dollar went already, and the whole thing felt tedious and filled me with guilt whenever I spent a penny. However, after about a month and a half it all got a lot smoother and easier. I realized exactly where my money was going each month and that small purchases really add up to way more than I thought. I swear I’ve saved a ton of money simply by writing down my expenditures- because I think about where my money’s going every time I spend it. And I feel more accountable for a purchase if I know I have to write it down and it goes into my monthly total.

All of these small activities have added up to big change in my life. Are there any small changes you’d like to start or have recently begun? Don’t worry about those big, scary changes- concentrate on a¬†little tiny change every day, or even every other day. Don’t underestimate what seem like small¬†tweaks- they add up.

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Lessons From a Fever in Your Thirties

I was traveling for work for the last 25 days, and for most of that time I was well- physically at least. Mentally, I was exhausted at times, from both the amount of travel and the sheer magnitude of people and bustle and noise constantly surrounding me at most shows.

But the mental and the physical are intertwined, and during the last week of my travel, I developed a fever while working in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s funny how illnesses sometimes sneak up on you, and my weakening muscles deceived me into thinking that I had always felt so unsteady. I tried to furtively stretch while still on the work floor, but every tendon in my body ached, and it felt more agonizing by the minute to simply stand up, never mind give infinite presentations and answer the slew of questions coming at me. Plus, my stomach was wrestling with my mind as well- telling me it was utterly starving one minute and then agonizingly full the next- right after¬†I’d eaten only 3 bites of something.

My coworkers said I had The Cleve- a mythological disease known to strike first-timers to the Cleveland area we were in: the airport area of despair. You see, almost everyone who’d worked¬†this particular show fell¬†deathly ill at some point at least one of the years they’d worked it. Why? Who knows. The lighting is yellow and dim- sort of despairing. The convention center used to be a military facility, if that adds anything. I googled whether there was something up with the water supply in the area but my search returned nothing. No offense to any of you who may be from/live in Cleveland. The downtown area seemed awesome, but alas we weren’t ever near¬†there.

Somehow I made it to the end of the work day that day, and with the help of lots of zinc and rest that night was able to make it back to work the next day¬†(sick days are unheard of in my field during a show). Even though my muscles ached less and my stomach was slowly starting to unclench, I ended up taking it extra easy on myself for the remainder of the show…and even into this week. I probably should always be taking care of myself so thoroughly, if not more so.

This week -and last- I put myself to bed earlier and sleep in when I can. I eat and chew extra slowly in case my stomach turns on me. I lie in bed and bask in the sheer bliss of a few moments of extra meditation. Sometimes I’m not even meditating- just staring at the ceiling, feeling smooth sheets underneath me. I drink less- well, I drank less last week anyway. We had a Cleveland bowling onesie costume party one night, and somehow I got through that without touching a sip of alcohol. I allowed myself to go very slow as I packed for the next trip. I ran outside extra carefully this week. I spent a few lovely ¬†moments staring out of the airplane window or watching a movie as opposed to trying to accomplish tasks. I let myself breathe. I give myself room.

And as I do, I feel healthier, but I also feel more loved. I’m taking care of myself as if I love myself and as if I’m treasured. And as I do that, all of those things are¬†true to me.

But you don’t need to be sick to treat yourself with love.

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How to Exercise More Easily in Your Thirties (Or The Things That Don’t Have Labels)

I was never that into exercise classes, or into any kind of collaborative¬†workouts, really. But yoga classes and Pilates classes and Urban Rebounding (aka trampoline classes) sound so cool. Theoretically, workout classes seem like a great idea to me, but I never actually go. Well, it’s rare. Even when classes sound cool, it’s super rare that I can commit to being at a specific class at a specific time. Maybe it’s that certain rebellious streak running through me. Honestly, when I exercise, I just want to be alone.

Running and strength training became two of my favorite exercises around sophomore year of college, when I realized that I really liked the gym when I had headphones on. Before college, the idea of avoiding sports at all costs very much appealed to me, and I had lumped the gym in with ESPN and dodgeball. But running is a solitary sport, and no one can hold me accountable if I don’t run more than a mile (except self-critical me). And strength training is another loner activity most of the time, where I can lift as heavy or as light as I want and people mainly leave me alone save for the occasional ” here’s how to lift better!”

Both running and strength training are very mainstream, acceptable forms of exercises to do, even if not at the gym. But sometimes I don’t feel like going outside and running, or outside to the gym (my gym is 11 blocks away), so I do a “home workout.” These workouts usually consist of body weight strength training exercises (i.e lunges, squats, pushups) and the equivalent of half an hour of jumping jacks spaced out in intervals. When I get into a conversation with someone about working out, and I tell them I didn’t go to the gym today but instead did a “home workout, which includes a lot of jumping jacks,” people usually kind of snicker. Jumping jacks seem to be a weirdly unacceptable exercise to do. They are part of an unlabeled and non-mainstream exercise program that I made up. But that’s okay- it works for me.

Sometimes I feel too tired or too pressed for time to even do my home workout. For awhile, during one or two of the most exhausting auto shows I worked, where I was standing on a hard floor for 9 hours in heels all day, I would solely do my ‘5 minute workout’ every night before bed. All this workout consisted of was a bunch of different ab exercises (sit up variations), and a bunch of push-ups. Sometimes on super-motivated nights, I’d actually do this workout for 10 minutes instead of 5. This may sound like only a little bit of time, but the differences were notable to me. I felt better. And then eventually I’d go back to the gym and run and do hour long home workouts and get back to my irregularly scheduled program.

I guess the main thing about exercise in your thirties, or anytime really, is to do what works for you. I prioritize wanting to go back and work out again, and be consistent with exercising multiple times, so it’s important for me not to hate my workouts and feel like they’re too hard. They just need to be hard enough…or sometimes they just need to be easy. I try to stay kind to myself.

Once I’m actually working out, I find it easier to continue working out. The hardest part is usually starting- which is, coincidentally, the hardest part of doing anything.

And some days I just stretch…I put on music and stretch everything that hurts, and then I make up stretches that have no labels and that I have never done before, or maybe I have once but I’ve forgotten them. All I know is that it helps to let your preferences lead the way. Tell your body:¬†‘Remember, this is good- this is your favorite. This will be an easy one. We’ve got this.’

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Help! Something is Broken and I Can’t Fix It In My 30’s

Sometimes there’s an easy answer to what’s broken in your life.

The other day I realized my blender was leaking. Gooey green smoothie liquid ran down my wooden countertop and spilled onto the floor. When I lifted my blender jar, I realized that the smoothie was coming directly¬†out of the bottom of the blender and then getting everywhere. I didn’t know what to do, and I had no one around to ask for recommendations. So I googled.

There were a lot of answers to my blender question, but they all required me unscrewing the bottom piece of the blender jar. Alas, for the life of me I couldn’t remove that bottom piece. The sticky sugars from the fruit in the smoothies had gotten it completely stuck. I tried using every ounce of my arm strength, and even used my handy rubber jar opener, but nothing worked.

For this new issue, there were even more Google answers. “Go to the hardware store and grab a wrench,” someone said. “Unscrew your blender jar with the wrench and then put the wrench back on the shelf.”

“It’s even easier than that,” someone else chimed in to the above responder’s comment, “wedge your blender in a doorjam, and hold it tight with the door as you unscrew. But don’t put too much pressure or you’ll crack it.”

That sounded complex.

“Just put your blender jar back in it’s base and turn the jar counterclockwise,” someone else responded, “and voila.”

Voila indeed. I decided to follow that last direction it took me all of 2 seconds and zero effort to unscrew my blender and fix the problem. So easy! My god, what if I had gone all the way to frigging Home Depot to borrow a wrench???!

And the whole blender debacle reminded me of other ceaseless issues that I suddenly solved in seconds. For years it took me almost 20 minutes at a time to pull the damn cap off of my travel contact lens fluid container in order to refill it. I macguyvered my tweezers and my nail file into a tool to jimmy that awful cap off, and even then I usually broke a few nails doing so. For years I hated this task, sometimes just spending lots of money buying new containers of travel contact lens fluid in order to avoid the hassle of refilling my old one.

But then one day I randomly googled “how to remove your contact lens solution cap” and this Youtube video came up entitled: “How to Refill Travel Sized Contact Lens Solution.”¬†It solved all my travel solution problems. You just yank the cap off when it’s open in one fell swoop. Once I figured out that trick, it took me about 5 painless seconds to complete a task that used to take me a full twenty minutes of pain every time.

It’s funny how many broken or painfully annoying things may have easier solutions than we think. By our thirties, a lot of habits have been formed, both good and bad, and sometimes we need to find easier habits than we currently know. An easy, life-changing answer to an everyday annoyance might just be a google away.

On a related note for 30-somethings, what in the world would we do without the internet??

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Can I Put All My Debt on a Zero Interest Credit Card?

The other day a friend of mine was inquiring about paying off credit card debt using a zero interest credit card.

She had moved all of her debt from a high interest credit card to a zero interest credit card and had completely paid off that debt very quickly, which was awesome.  She had two other high interest cards and asked me if she should move the debt from those over to the same zero interest card or if she should open a new zero interest credit card. I had to pause a bit before I considered the answer.

First things first.

A zero interest credit card is a credit card that has zero interest for a certain amount of time, after which the interest rate spikes up, usually higher than a ‘regular’ credit card. If you’re really diligent about paying off a zero interest credit card quickly, you can pay it off before the high interest rate kicks in.

I wrote about these types of cards before in my post: Is a 0% Interest Credit Card Just a Blatant Lie In a Pretty Package?

Zero interest credit cards have their pros and cons, and both are pretty simple. In a nutshell:

Pro: You can pay off debt quicker when you have no interest gathering on the debt while it’s on a zero percent interest credit card.

Con: If you don’t pay off your debt fast enough on aforementioned card, you’ll have a hell of a LOT of interest gathering on that debt.¬†

So, let’s back to my friend’s question about whether or not she should move multiple balances to the same zero interest card. Here are the facts:

  1. My friend had 3 high interest cards she needed to pay off
  2. She had one zero interest credit card
  3. She had already moved two high interest cards onto the zero interest card and had paid off one card’s debt already.¬†
  4. In May, the zero interest would turn to VERY HIGH interest, probably around 20+ percent, which is awful. 
  5. She still hadn’t moved the third debt and was wondering if she should move it to the zero percent card or open up a new zero percent card for that last debt.

Here’s my answer, with additional questions, in 3 parts:

  1. Can you beat the balance transfer fee? Some zero percent interest cards have a 3 percent balance transfer fee. If your zero interest card has this fee, you have to calculate whether that 3% is less or more than the interest you will end up paying on the original card before your debt is paid off. For example, if you have $1000 in debt on a card and move it to a zero percent interest card with a 3% balance transfer fee, you’d have to pay $30 to transfer the debt. If you would end up paying less than $30 in interest on the original card before you paid off the $1000, it wouldn’t be worth it. If you had a zero percent interest card with no transfer fee (they do exist), you’re fine and wouldn’t have to make this calculation. If
  2. Can you pay off the second AND third debt by the time the zero percent interest expires? In this case, if she could pay off all debts before May, her interest rate would stay at zero percent and she would get all the pros out of the card with none of the cons.
  3. Can you put all the debt from various, different cards, on one zero percent card?¬† This was a question I had to ask myself, and then had to google. I wasn’t sure how things worked with putting multiple debts on one zero percent card. Turns out it’s fine. It’s equally fine to put the debts on different zero percent credit cards (you can open multiple at the same time, depending on your credit score and approval, of course.)

One last MAJOR note: Don’t close the original card after the transfer, unless it has an annual fee that you don’t want to pay. Closing older credit cards hurts your credit score.¬†

So my friend was able to get all her debt from 3 cards on one zero percent credit card, and is on track to pay everything of by May before the interest goes up. This will save her tons of money in interest in the long run.

Hope this helps you guys understand zero percent credit cards a little better, and wasn’t too complicated. If used wisely, AND QUICKLY, zero percent interest cards can be a great tool to help get you out of debt.

 

 

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