2017 Annual Review

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It's that time of the year again!

If you've been following my blog, or me, for awhile, you'll know that at the end of every year, I do a kind of annual review. It's to look at the goals I sent for myself last year (not resolutions), what worked, what didn't work, what goals were met & to think about where I want to take my life for the next year. So let's start by looking at my 2017 goals.


GOALS FOR 2017

TRAVEL

  • Spend more time actually exploring the PNW that's already around me.
  • Disney birthday trip with my girls
  • Road trip & hike Canada

LEARNING

  • Read at least 1 book a month (Take two!)

FINANCIAL

  • Buy myself a new (adult) car. It's time for the Scion tC of  my 16-year-old self to go.

HEALTH

  • Workout on a more regular basis, despite work schedule - focusing on cardio & weights.
  • Teaching myself to cook more & eat out less.

So What Went Well, What Not So Well?

I'm actually proud to say, that of all the goals I set for 2017, I accomplished all but two: working out on a more on a regular basis, and reading a book a month. In total, I read like 4 books, which is still an improvement. As for working out, it's still a struggle to find a consistent time todo it, when you work a dynamic schedule like I do. I did pick up some, should we call, alternative workouts?  I manage to scatter my year with hikes & ski days, at least until I sprained my ankle skiing (picture 4), and after I recovered I picked up kick boxing!

The biggest thing in 2017, was me "cutting back on traveling."

Somewhere my coworkers are rolling their eyes at that statement. Ok, fine. I kind of cut back. Baby steps okay? I "only" went to Disneyland twice & did only one international trip. It was the challenge of shifting my financial responsibilities, but all that overtime, and 70 work hours week, paid off! I bought my dream car: the Lexus NX F (emphasis on the F), which I named Becky. It's such a good feeling too, because I know I earned it, and I feel so grateful everyday when I drive it, & with how safe I feel when I take it up to the pass, or on and hikes. 

Other than that, I set out to road trip to Canada & I did (with Becky). I set out to do a birthday trip with my girls & we blew it out of the water.  I set out to work on my cooking skills, and now I'm packing lunch 4 times a week. I even saw my first total solar eclipse & added Scotland to my travel resume. A successful year! Now my goals for 2018!


GOALS FOR 2018

FINANCIAL

  • Put away a set amount each month so I can buy my own home at the end of 2018, or the beginning of 2019.
  • Any desired expenditures outside of that (like travel) or any other financial responsibilities (bills), must be financed by lifestyle changes to save money, or overtime! (Lots of overtime.)
  • Set a smaller amount aside each month, for a mission trip to Guatemala in February 2019

HEALTH

Be more consistent with working out in general, in any form (hike, ski, swim, kickboxing, etc)

TRAVEL

  • Trip back to France with my friend Shahrzad, where I learn more French history.
  • Road trip deeper into Canada for hiking.
  • (Hopefully, pending approval) A trip to China: particularly Shanghai & Hong Kong.

LEARNING

  • Read at least 1 book a month (Take three!)
  • Take a surfing lesson - California?
  • Learn Spanish so I can communicate with patients at work & for Guatemala 2019
  • Teach myself to more 100% dairy-free meals & maybe put together my own personal cookbook.

And finally, the mission statement. 

2018: THE YEAR OF epic FInancial Responsibility & the Independent woman

In 2018, I will challenge myself financially, more than ever. I will set aside a big portion of my income every month, with the intention of own home in Seattle's housing market, on my own, by the end of 2018 or early 2019. That is my priority. Everything else I want do this year, whether it be traveling, fitness, or education, will only be a secondary a result of how successful I am at learning to save money & how hard I work (overtime). 

Can you tell I'm ready to take this year by storm? Watch out 2018. I'm about to slay this! Love, JEN

Smile

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The Foreword

As I've noted in the past, I've struggled on and off with depression for a good part of my life. The worst of it was probably in 2014, when I found myself losing my appetite, making excuses to not see my friends or face the world, and wanting nothing but to lay in bed & sleep all day. I was trapped in quicksand & I was struggling to get my head up. 

Despite working in healthcare, I personally don't put a lot of weight into solving your problems (physically or emotionally) with medications. I felt stuck, discontent & unhappy. While I was living a life that was "great on paper", perhaps I wasn't doing what was right for me. After a long hiatus (on literally everything), I made the conscious decision to make lifestyle changes, in hopes of improving my emotional state. I read a motivational book (here), exercised more to excrete endorphins, changed the way I saw things, traveled the world, and it worked!

Well it worked for most of 2016 that is. Soon the high from my trips were over, and despite landing a full time slot at my dream job, I still found myself occasionally swinging into periods of despondence. They weren't as bad, but in a way, I realized that this would probably be something I'd have to deal with the rest of my life, and it was okay. 

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The Meaning Behind the Tattoo

"Smile," is the name of a lesser-known song by one my favorite singers, Michael Jackson. Originating from a Charlie Chaplin movie, it's been noted as MJ's own favorite song. It's a beautiful, but somber ballad:

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
With your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just...

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile

The song kind of worked as a reminder to myself over the years, that even though you're feeling down, tomorrow might be a brighter day. It says that bathing in your sadness is actually futile, and I agree. Sometimes though, we still need a reminder. In the same way that some people write reminders to themselves on their wrist, I've thought about doing the same for myself, to just remind myself to smile. 

The thing is though, for a long time I've thought about getting this tattoo on my wrist, but I was hesitant. I felt like putting it on my wrist, like some kind of reminder, was like admitting to the world that I was broken. I didn't want to open a door so personal to the world. I never liked talking about my depressive slumps. 

As time went on and I realized this was a lifelong process, I become more comfortable talking about my intermittent problem. For the first time, I talked to my friends about it. It's so easy to talk to a camera in an empty room, or write about it on my blog, but to face my friends in the face to talk about when I need a little extra help, was hard. By doing that though, I knew I was ready for my tattoo. I wanted put it on my outer wrist, or wear this struggle (and seeming accomplishment) on my sleeve per say. Just like how some people wear the hearts on their sleeves, my reminder was out there for the world to see. I was comfortable talking about it, because it was okay. 

Next I had to choose a design & font. Font has the ability to weigh in how you read/hear a word & express the weight of it. I decided that I liked the personal feel of cursive, but couldn't find anything I liked online. Some were too formal looking and none felt like me. Then I thought, why don't I just get it in my own handwriting? It truly is a reminder from me, for myself. Plus, it had always been important to me, that if I got a tattoo, that I draw it myself. I appreciate others artists, but I didn't want to disregard my own creativity for my own body, out of politeness.

For months, I wrote variations of the word smile on every scrap paper that ended up on my desk, until I settled with this. No caps, just the simplicity & subtleness of lowercase cursive. The two dots over the "s" makes a smilie face, bringing lightness to a elusively dark meaning tattoo. And I must say, I love it. It was liberating to get it & it actually makes me smile every time that I look at my tattoo.

So concludes my essay for the meaning behind my tiny tattoo, because who says great depth can't be hidden in the most tiny people & things. - Jen

Sparkling 4th

Happy post 4th of July everyone!

Hope everyone survived the explosive holiday, completely safe! New Years & 4th of July are always fun for me, because of how much I love to photograph fireworks and paint with sparklers. After my trip to Vancouver & experiencing the Canada Day fireworks, this year I decided it was okay to sit-out the Seattle ones. Don't get me wrong, I actually prefer the Seattle ones, due to how close you can get to them around Lake Union. Sometimes though, you just need to just chill at home (avoid traffic) & hang with your cousins, which I did! :)

 THIS IS MY COUSIN TIFFANY

THIS IS MY COUSIN TIFFANY

 THIS IS MY COUSIN & BEST FRIEND, ISABELLE. 

THIS IS MY COUSIN & BEST FRIEND, ISABELLE. 

Ok, enough shenanigans. Thanks for reading! Love, Jen

*Sweater & shorts from American Eagle

Moment of Discovery

Who am I?

Lately I've been doing a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do with the next 5 years of my life. Coincidently, I also recently got a reminder about my high school's 10 year reunion. Has it been 10 years already? Time seemed to have just flown by, yet it's crazy to think about how much has changed in those 10 years. 

In ways, I am very much the same: always hyperactively seeking a creative outlet, with border-lining, minimalistic, OCD tendencies. In other ways, I feel like I'm a completely different person, compared to who I was 10 years ago. My wants are different, my hopes are different, and my outlook on life is different.

 

If you could have met 18 year-old Jen, the outdoors meant bugs & physical activity was not in her repertoire. Her eyes would double in size & sparkle in the face of brand names & luxury sport cars. In fact, she could probably identify the brand of any clothing item, on the spot. She was ready to work her life away, however many work hours it took. She wanted to take life by storm, by the standards of the materialistic American Dream, big house & all.

Now?

What's the point of putting your money towards sitting in a big fancy house, when there's so much of the rest of the world to see? I see no point in giant collections of designer bags, shoes, figurines or DVDs. I am no longer impressed by site of Christian Louboutins or other high end brand names, and the fashion world feels empty. I seek more; more adventures & more experiences, more sites unseen. I am on a mission to live the most interesting life possible for myself, and that means being ok with having less. But is it less, if by giving up things, I gain so much more?

I've cleaned out my DVDs & CDs (moved to all digital), and have slowly donated about 1/3 of my closet so far. It feels good to remove the clutter & live only with what you need. I've begun to travel the world, but The question is, where do I go from here? What's my next step?

Currently, I don't have the answer (suggestions welcomed). It's definitely been a  thought that's been clouding my mind every night. I just have this impending feeling & that I need to make a drastic change. Love, Jen

"Once you've been still too long, it's best to throw a grenade where you are standing - and jump. And pray.” - Robyn Davidson, in Tracks

Becky

May I finally, formally introduce you all to Becky.

After 10 years in my Scion tC, I finally moved onto another car. Once a car enthusiast, always a car enthusiast, but my family has never been the type to go car hopping. We buy cars we like and we hang on to them for a long time (like a decade, or two, or more). Because of that fact, it took me 5 years to pick Becky. It's a commitment!

Basically, the car I wanted & needed, didn't exist. I loved the sporty 2-door look, but at some point, you just have to stop asking your friends to climb in the back seat. We're too old for that shit. At the same time, 5 years ago, I didn't think a car looked good, unless it was a 2 door sport car. My active life needed a 4wd SUV. 2-door sport cars don't usually go hand-in-hand with 4wd. I wanted electric, but I wanted power, without the price of a Tesla. Everything I wanted was completely opposite of each other, but time was running out & I was outgrowing my teenage car.  I'm not in the position to have 2 cars, so I had to find something that gave me a little bit of both.

Then, 2 years ago, Lexus released the Lexus NX F. Besides the Range Rover Evoque & and the Porsche Cayenne, I rarely thought SUVs looked good, because of their sheer size. The NX F intrigued me though.

Initially, when I told people I was thinking about getting A lexus, I suddenly learned that everyone "had an opinion."

The thing is though, they're not going to be driving the car, you are. They're not the ones paying for it, you are. It's not a secret that work a lot & I work hard for my money. I'm a car enthusiast, so chances are, that's where some of my money is going to go & I'm ok with that. So after 2 years of reading Kelly Blue Book reviews, for what felt like every SUV on the market right now, I went with Becky. Then on Valentine's Day 2017, she was  mine!

Here's to a good long run & many adventures with this sexy lady! Love, Jen

P.S. Totally worth it.

My 2016 Annual Review

Last Year I TRAVELED MORE THAN EVER. So, What Now?

Since 2014, I've made the habit of working on an end-of-the-year Annual Review. It's something I learned from reading Chris Guillebeau's The Happiness of Pursuit, and I can honestly say it's been the best habit I've ever picked up. (Check out 2015 & 2014 here). At end of each year, I sit down & look at what went well during the year & what didn't go so well (personally). What goals (not just resolutions) did I set for myself, and which of those did I accomplish? Then finally I set new goals for myself & write myself a mission statement for the coming year.

For 2016, I dubbed it my year of adventure. While a lot of crazy/sad things happened around the world last year, I'm personally, still riding on my high of accomplishing just that. While I didn't cross off every goal on my list, I set out to finally pursue my dream of traveling the world & I did it. That is a feeling that no one can take away from me.

I've heard so many people tell me they want to travel the world, yet so little people put in the extra WORK, those long hours & sacrifices into making their dreams a reality. 

 While in x-ray school, I thought the study load was an impossible standard, but look at me now (I'm getting paperr). I never could run more than 2 miles & blamed it on my scoliosis, but that was before I trained for 3 half marathons. This feeling you get from setting what seems like impossible goals for yourself & then constantly achieving them, will open your mind to a world of possibilities.

We are truly unstoppable & limited only by our mentalities.

Ok. Enough motivational babbling. (Can you tell I'm pretty excited?) Onto the review!


What went well in 2016

Let's just start with this infographic I made, shall we? Why? Because I'm the only one nerdy enough to make one.

  • Got a full-time x-ray tech position, with the best hours/schedule a travel-addict could ask for
  • Finally went to San Diego Comic-Con for the first time & saw Adam Savage
  • Completed my 3rd half marathon (and in Paris!)
  • Blogged more. Actually, way more! More than excited with all the photos I've gotten too.
  • Sky dived (for the first time) over the Great Barrier Reef, oh and landed on a beach. No bigs.
  • Pulled the trigger & now I have purple/lavender hair!

What didn't go so well

  • Completely threw my goal of making Youtube videos, right out the window. There are only so many hours in a day and pictures take up a lot less time to produce.
  • Only went on one hike in Washington this year. If I wasn't traveling out of the state, I was spending time with friends, sleeping or working 70+ hours a week.
  • I wanted to read a book per month last year. I read a total of 5. Again, very busy.

Goals for 2017

These goals are probably the reason I've been putting off this Annual Review. I crossed off a lot off my bucket list last year, in a real short amount of time, so I've been kind of at a lost as what to put my efforts toward next. To me, there are 2 types of people in the world. There are those who (only) do the responsible thing, work the 9 to 5, and put all their focus to developing financial assets & a family. Then there are those who put their dreams first like there's no tomorrow. I spent 2016 doing the latter, but I believe in balance, so it's time to catch up on the former. Not that I'm giving up on furthering those dreams, I've just had my share of fun. Subject to additions, here's what I have thus far: 

FINANCIAL

  • Buy myself a new (adult) car. It's time for the Scion tC of  my 16-year-old self to go.

HEALTH

  • Workout on a more regular basis, despite work schedule - focusing on cardio & weights.
  • Teaching myself to cook more & eat out less.

TRAVEL

  • Spend more time actually exploring the PNW that's already around me.
  • Disney birthday trip with my girls
  • Road trip & hike Canada

LEARNING

  • Read at least 1 book a month (Take two!)

2017: The Year of Self-Growth

In 2017, I will direct my focus towards my own financial development as an adult, and make the jump in buying myself a well-deserved, new car. As a supplemental trade off to my traveling, I will spend more time exploring the Pacific Northwest that already surrounds me. This includes skiing in the Winter, year round hikes, and Summer road trips through the Canadian wilderness. I will have also found a regular workout rhythm, that fits my irregular work schedule. 

Hope you guys enjoyed the read. Here's to another colorful (and maybe purpler) year! Love, JEN