Monday, July 12, 2010

Destination #3 - Progress Update

My husband and I try to get together once a month and have a finance 'date'.  We talk about our finances, where we are, our goals, and keep each other motivated and on track to complete the goals we have together.  Of course, we don't always make it once a month, but we finally had a finance date a few weeks ago.  At the meeting before I thought we had set some concrete goals and mapped out a plan, so that was what I had been working on.  At our most recent meeting, I learned that was not the case.

It seems I pushed my own goals and values on my husband and he agreed only to make me happy.  I learned he wasn't 100% on board and that I hadn't listened to him.

I did much better at our most recent meeting.  I listened to him, discovered his goals and we worked together to come up with a new plan.  We are communicating more (and better) since then and I am so glad that we got together.

It turned in to much more than just a financial date.  I learned so much more about him, myself and our relationship.  Not all of the meeting was pretty, there was the occasional raised voice (it was mine, I admit it), but by the end were were closer and are now working together.

I am so lucky to have a patient, kind and loving huband.  I want him to know how much he means to me and that his dreams are important to me too.  I hope that I will be able to show him through word and deed how I feel.  Communication is so necessary to a healthy relationship and it's not something that I am really good at.  So, I will continue working on my communication skills!

We've already planned our next date and I think it will be great!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Destination #2 - Progress Update

I feel pretty good about the progress I've made with Destination #2.  In my original post I briefly mentioned participating in a family Biggest Loser Competition.  We weighed in for the final time recently and I was the Biggest Loser!  By eating healthy and occasionally exercising I lost 26.6 pounds.

Some family members are interested in doing a watered-down version of our competition for the summer.  So, we will take 2 weeks off (I am planning on eating chips, macaroni and cheese and drinking a lot of coke) before starting over.  I don't want to undo any of the hard work I've put in, but there have been some things I've missed.  I am hoping that I will be able to balance some of the foods I've pretty much avoided for the past 5 months and maintain my current weight (or lose some more). 

I still have a long way to go towards a healthier me, but at my journey's end I would like to be able to not avoid foods and eat what I enjoy (in moderation, of course) and maintain a healthy weight.  I think a 2 week hiatus will be a good test to see if the new habits I've developed are easy to maintain and find out what I still need to work on.  I view this as a practice period, and when I get to my goal weight I'll be able to stay there.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Destination #1 - Progress Update

I've been on this journey for a few months now and am a bit disheartened by my lack of progress.  I have not attempted to practice the guitar or voice at all and did not do much with the violin.  The only thing I've done on a regular basis is the piano and even those attempts have been spotty since I returned from my vacation

I find myself making excuses as to why I can't make time to practice; and like all excuses - they are lame.  I'm fighting an internal battle right now.  This is something that's important to me, yet I can't - or won't - make time for it.

So, I am making a renewed promise to myself.  I will make time to do at least one thing I love everyday!  It is time to recapture my dreams and pursue them with passion!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How Tow Accomplish Destination #4

Destination 4 is by far the most expensive goal on my list.  This is also the only goal that I have been working on for quite a long time.  For almost 2 years I have put 10% of my net paycheck directly in to a savings account, and I only take money out of this account for travel.

I have this deduction scheduled to happen automatically and I've learned to live on 10% less.  Setting this money aside is such a relief, I know no matter what or when a trip is in order I can afford it.  (I include traveling to funerals, graduations, etc here as well, so somtimes my travel plans can be a bit sudden.)  This also enables me to jump on travel opportunities I might otherwise miss or have a tough time financing.

If one of your goals is costly, set up an automatic transfer of any amount you can afford directly in to a completely separate account.  It may be 10% or 20% of your paycheck, it may be $10-$20 a week  Whatever you can comfortably afford.  Over time this will grow to an amount you can really do something with and you'll be glad you did!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Forgotten Destination

I have always loved traveling and it's something I would love to do often.  I have decided to add a goal to my list of destinations.  However, the goal of 'traveling' is pretty ambiguous - I need to define my path.

Destination #4:  Travel
  • Visit Greece.  I love Greek mythology, art and architecture.  I need to go to Greece and see everything!
  • Go to Europe.  There are many European countries I want to visit:  England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany....just to name a few.
  • I want to go on an African Safari.
  • I want to go to Egypt.  Again, the art and architecture are what draw me in.  I also need to see the pyramids.
  • I want to visit every states in the U.S.  If I'm going to Europe, I might as well see the U.S. too!
  • I want to go to Australia and New Zealand.  Surfing and snorkeling - woo hoo!
  • I want to go to Japan.
  • I want to visit our neighbors to the North and South.
  • I want to see the Amazon River.
  • I want to cruise around the world.  This will hit most of what I want to do and see and I love cruises, so why not?
Really, this list could go on forever.  I want to go everywhere and see everything!

Monday, June 7, 2010


You know what they say...hindsight is 20/20.  I recently went on a much needed week-long vacation.  It was wonderful and I had a great time, but now that I'm home I realize how many opportunities I missed to focus on my goals.  Let me share with you what I did and did not do so you can learn from my mistakes!

I did not eat healthy and I could have.  My excuse was "I'm on vacation and I am going to indulge myself."  Now don't get me wrong, it is perfectly acceptable to indulge yourself on vacation, but don't let your common sense fly out the window...use good judgement!  Moderation is key.  Looking back on it, I am most ashamed of not eating better because it was so easy to make good food choices.  Many menus had low calorie options that I just turned my nose at.  Oh self, so young, so foolish.  If you - like me - simply must have Chocolate Melting Cake every night for dessert, do it, but get one of the 390 calorie entrees!

I did not practice any instruments.  I really don't feel guilty about this.  Who takes their piano on vacation?!  If I had a more portable talent - say writing or drawing - I could have done that by bringing a pad of paper and a pencil.  So, if you can take your goal with you do it, but if you can't don't feel bad.  After're on vacation!

I did not work on any music theory.  This is another goal that I feel bad about not doing, because I took my theory book with me!  I just didn't open it.  There were many hours spent in the car that I could have pulled this out and worked on it.  I could have done much better here.  If you do take your goals with you, make sure you do it!

However, I did do a lot of walking.  I did not take advantage of the gym that was available, so again improvements to my vacationing self are needed, but I am happy with what I did accomplish.

Most importantly I spent a lot of time with my husband.  This is the goal that I most want to excel in.  Despite all my failings this past week I have succeeded overall, because I was able to be with him with no pressure to keep the house clean, dinner on the table and no work concerns stealing my focus from him.  We had many conversations and talked to each other a lot.  He also shared a podcast (Stuff You Should Know) that he really enjoys with me.  I learned something new about him, and we both got to enjoy listening to several old podcasts he had on his Zune.  Sharing something you enjoy or are passionate about with your spouse is a wonderful way to bond and grow together.

You do not need to accomplish everything everyday or even most things most days.  If you only accomplish one thing a week you have succeeded.

What tips and tricks for success do you have while vacationing?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Music Theory

I recently finished my 1st theory book Fundamentals of Piano Theory - Level 1 by Keith Snell and Martha Ashleigh.

I reviewed:
  • Note names
  • Time signatures and rythms
  • Accidentals
  • Intervals
  • Whole and Half Steps
  • Key signatures
  • Form
  • Ear training
  • Sight reading
I actually learned:
  • 5 finger patterns and triads
  • Tetra chords
  • Primary triads
  • Inversions
  • Accompanying with I and V Tetra chords
  • Transposing
  • A bit about the 4 periods of music history
It's amazing how much you discover you don't know.  When I picked up this book in the store I thought "I know this stuff, maybe I should start with book 2 or 3."  Then, I figured a review would be good, so I bought book 1.  I am so glad I chose to start at the beginning!  There was obviously so much that I didn't know.  It was a bit of a humbling experience.  I have 12+ years of musical background, and yet there were so many things I didn't know at a beginner level.  Things I chose not to learn or pay attention to, which really set me back.

My piano teacher tried to get me to learn these things years ago, but I was not interested.  Now that I'm old enough to appreciate the lessons she tried to teach me, I am much more confident that I will accomplish my goal of becoming a better musician.  I am also grateful for her initial attempts, as much of the lessons did sink in.  So, a heart-felt "Thank you" to Suzi!  (Also, thank you mom for assisting me with the ear training portion!)

What lessons surprised you when you discovered you didn't know them?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


A few weeks ago I wrote down a few places I was interested in volunteering.  Eventually I whittled down my list to one - I want to volunteer in the Emergency Room at the local hospital.  However, since that decision was made, my mom asked me to help her with a large scrapbooking project.

I've decided that for now I will use the time I'm helping my mom as my volunteer time.  Additionally, once this project is over, I'll already have this time carved out of my schedule.  Transitioning from one project (helping my mom) to another (the hospital) will be pretty seamless - time wise at least.

So far we have been through 3 boxes of pictures and papers, etc and separated them in to 5 other boxes.  Each box is for a different scrapbook.  We still have so many boxes to go through and separate out.  It's amazing how much stuff there is!  A few more weeks (no, really!) of sorting, then we get to organize each box into a time line.

Honestly scrapbooking is not my thing; but I am looking forward to spending time with my mom and learning more about my family.  Not to mention, she can occassionally assist me with my piano, so it's kind of a win-win situation.  I'm really excited to continue this project - even if I don't find the actual activity all that thrilling.

There are so many skills that I will be able to develop while doingt his project.  Patience comes first to mind.  I am not a very patient person, but working on something that overal doesn't light my fire will definitely help me practice this.  This will also help boost my creativity and organizational skills.  All three of these skills will help me no matter what I do in life.  I've quickly discovered that volunteering isn't just about improving another person's life; it's about improving yourself as well.

What projects do you do that increase your skills?  And please share any scrapbooking tips/ideas in the comments too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

During one of my recent self-induced piano lessons I decided that I had given myself too much to practice in a 30 minute time frame.  Actually, I realized this during my practice sessions, but during my lesson I made the decision to decrease the amount of things I practice during the week.  I also decided that I needed to re-do a few of the pieces that I didn't get to practice as much during the week.

There's something to be learned here.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  You'll only frustrate yourself if you try to accomplish too much in a single day.  You'll also find that you won't make as much progress if you try to do too much than if you break down your efforts in to manageable chunks.

I feel that if I work on practicing well (taking things slow, correcting mistakes instead of playing through them, etc) I will get better faster and I've seen evidens in this pretty quickly.  My sight reading has improved quite a bit and I make fewer mistakes, even on new pieces.

Hearing yourself improve is a great boost!  If possible, record yourself so you can hear your progression over time.  Recording yourself and listening back on it will also help you correct your mistakes.

If you find yourself not making the kind of progress you hoped for, take a deep breath and step back.  Have you tried to accomplish too much too quickly?  Pare down your project into smaller tasks and focus on one thing at a time.  Really hone in on improving one skill at a time.  It may seem small and tedious at first, but as you get better, you'll get faster and when you move on, preforming that skill well by rote will save you huundreds of hours later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eating Healthy

I used to eat a lot of potato chips, pizza, macaroni and cheese, McDonald's and drink tons of soda.  You'll notice that there weren't a lot of fruits or vegetables in my previous diet.  Fast forward a few months, and now I try to eat several servings of fruit and veggies a day.

A typical day now is:

Breakfast:  yogurt or applesauce (I sometimes add 10-15 almonds to my yogurt)
Snack:  carrots and/or apple slices
Lunch:  salad (with light or fat free dressing), a sandwich (with cheese, mustard and spinach - no mayo!), carrots and/or apple slices
Snack:  light or fat free cottage cheese with tomatoes and salt and pepper, or a snack size bag of microwave popcorn
Dinner:  chicken, brown rice, and vegetables, or stirfry, always a salad and sometimes more carrots and/or apple slices (can you tell what fruits and vegetables I do like?)
Desert:  Weight Watchers or Skinny Cow ice cream snacks - so far every treat I've tried is delicious

I also drink a LOT of water.  I decided when I changed my eating habits that I wanted to eat my calories, not drink them, and I happen to like water so this is not hard for me.

I know what you're thinking, and yes, I do eat a lot - and there are several things I could do even better in regards to my eating habits, but trust me when I tell you that I am eating so much better now than I was 4-5 months ago.  Not only am I eating better, but I feel better as well.  I still occassionally have a burger and fries from McDonald's, but that is an exception rather than the norm, and I can tell the difference when I do. 

I have found that what is easiest for me is to have my snacks ready to at.  So, yes, I spend more on pre-sliced apples than a person should - but if all I have to do is reach my hand in the bag and pull out an apple slice, that's just as easing as reaching in and pulling out a potato chip, but it's better and much more filling.  I have tried to make healthy eating as convenient as possible for myself so that I'm more likely to stick with it. 

What do you do to make healthy eating a habit for you?