Tag: Christine

Our first year married

Last week, Ruth and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. We bought tickets to see the musical, Aladdin, which is something we normally wouldn’t do. In fact, we had a long conversation where we hemmed and hawed. Should we? Is it too expensive? We also toyed with the idea of saving up and seeing Anastasia on Broadway. Ultimately, Ruth decided we should just go for it, since our natural inclination is to put things off, especially things we’ve deemed “impractical.”

It was a wonderful evening together. It felt nice to do something special for our anniversary. I’m definitely the type of person who undervalues ceremony. “One day doesn’t matter as much as the other 364 days in between,” I tell myself. And yes, a single day does matter. It’s the marriage that matters. But an anniversary is about pausing to reflect on the past year. Consider the storms you’ve weathered and the calm waters you sailed through.

Some of my favorite memories of the past year:

  • going on many walks around the neighborhood
  • reaching many milestones, including finishing my bootcamp and her kicking butt with the GRE
  • thinking up potential baby names for our future kiddo
  • so much laughter
  • sharing turtle sundaes from our favorite ice cream parlor
  • going to Disney World for our honeymoon
  • Ruth losing her wedding band a few months into our marriage
  • our first Christmas as wife and wife
  • getting to say “my wife” as often as possible
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That’s how many books I’ve read this year towards my Goodreads count.

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I’ve read a few more books than that, but they were cheesy romance novels, which I don’t count. There are a few reasons contributing to my lack of reading:

  • coding bootcamp – I was regularly doing 14 hours days of classes and studying. There wasn’t much time for reading, and when I did read, it was usually fluffy novels. They’re quick and require little thought. They’re also easy to start and stop.
  • job search – the process of finding a job is incredibly demoralizing. It was a fight to open my laptop and apply for jobs. Most of my time was completing Buzzfeed quizzes to avoid life
  • starting a new job – guys, despite the joy and elation that is getting hired for a job that you’ve spend over half a year working towards, it’s still exhausting. My first couple weeks left my brain scrambled and I was exhausted.

But I love reading. I remember devouring books as a child. But somewhere along the way, books become a source of stress and pressure for me. I would have all these books I meant to read or had started, but was making little progress in.

So I’ve decided to reread all the books I own. There aren’t that many because I’ve pared down my collection. (My books are only the first shelf – the rest are Ruth’s).

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I’m hoping that this will ease me back into reading and help develop a better habit of reaching for a book in moments of stress or boredom, instead of my phone.

My first book is Persuasion, my favorite Jane Austen novel. I’ll follow up when I finish the book with my thoughts and reflection.

Anxiety and Committing to Living My Life

When going to therapy, I learned about ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. In a sentence, it’s about accepting the fact that I have anxiety, but committing my life and behavior to aligning with my values.

The whole point of the bucket list was to embrace the fact that our life is now. It’s not after we finish grad school or pay off our student loans or save up to buy a house or get a promotion at work. We’re living our life now and the things we hope to do one day won’t happen unless we commit to it.

So lasts week, we trekked downtown to see a performance at Millennium Park. I could feel my anxiety building, which happens when our usual routine is disturbed. What if it’s too hot and I’m uncomfortable and start snapping at Ruth? What if I get hungry and have to spend money on overprice food? What if the crowd is huge and there’s no space for us to sit? (Crowds is a major source of anxiety for me) What if I don’t enjoy myself and Even is disappointed?

So many what ifs?

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Here’s the photo I took at the park. There were some major hiccups on our way there, but we did it! We did it because we’re committing to living a life not held back by fear.

Finding a job as a developer: going from social work to programming

Good news – I’m able to mark our first item off our bucket list: find a coding job.

I graduated with a degree in sociology in 2011, then to grad school for a year. Afterwards I was utterly lost. No one in my family had ever gone to college, but their dream was always for me to go. I jokingly tell people that my family thinks that all I have to do is show up someplace with my degree and I get a job. It was a slap in the face when I applied for a few months with no luck.

I hopped around from dead-end job to dead-end job. Eventually, after volunteering at a nonprofit, I got a job as an AmeriCorps member, then full-time staff. The work I did was varied, but after nearly three years there, I left for a few reasons. I didn’t feel the agency was living up to its mission and the clients were the ones getting hurt. I couldn’t abide by that. Also, in that time, I got married and started thinking about my future. The life I wanted to provide for my wife and future family wasn’t going to be possible on social work salary.

I decided to explore my options and ultimately focused on technology. I took some online and evening classes to figure out – do I even like coding? Am I good at it? Could I make a career out of it?

After much research, I decided on Fullstack Academy. After three months of intense work, I completed the program on April 7 and was job searching ever since.

There were days I was sure I had made a terrible mistake. I quit my job – I could have been making money, instead of  scrimping to get by. No one was ever going to hire me. I was a fraud. These were all things the wife heard on multiple occasions. But the sweetheart she is, she encouraged and motivated me to keep moving forward.

I received the official offer a few days ago and I still can’t believe it happened! I’ll be receiving a substantial pay bump and working at an awesome company with good benefits. The type of stable job I could stick around for a while.

I just hope I savor this feeling – it took over 6 months to get here, and I put in a lot of time, effort, and money. But I had a goal – to get a job by July 1st, and here I am, a few days short, and I did it. I want to remember this feeling the next time I take a leap of faith and try something. I want to remember this feeling of accomplishing my goal. And really, that was the spirit and motivation of this whole blog in the first place. To go live life and really, truly experience it. To visualize what we want and to then make it happen.

Artist’s Way update

So how has the Artist’s Way been going for me?

Morning Pages:
I’ve been journaling since I was twelve, and I’ve dabbled with morning pages for the past few months, before I started this journey. I read about them online and instantly wanted to do them, but struggled. Julia Cameron insists, “there is no wrong way to do Morning Pages,” but she sure does have a lot of rules.

  • Completed first thing in the morning
  • Must be written by hand
  • Three pages in A5 sized paper

So I’ve picked them up and put them down a few times. Now I give myself permission to be more flexible. My notebook is smaller and I don’t always write in the morning, but rather whenever I feel like it. I figure what’s important is doing them.

Since I’ve been journaling for so long, I’ve fallen into a bit of a journal writing rut. I only write about my complaints, stressful things, anxiety, etc. So I’ve enjoyed working on Julia’s writing exercises/challenges. It’s offered some spice and helped me reflect in new ways, not just ruminating on my problems.

My plan for the upcoming week is to be more diligent about writing them everyday.

Artist’s Date:
These are a much bigger challenge than I originally anticipated, because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your week and not feel like they’re “important.”

Last week I decided to do a mini at home “spa” day. I felt stressed and all this pressure for the date to “look” a specific way. But I didn’t feel like leaving the apartment or spending money. So I decided to take an hour and pamper myself. This included: exfoliating, hair mask, moisturizing. My skin and hair felt amazing afterwards.

-Christine

Artist’s Way

“Morning pages map our own interior. Without them, our dreams may remain terra incognita. I know mine did. Using them, the light of insight is coupled with the power for expansive change. It is very difficult to complain about a situation morning after morning, month after month, without being moved to constructive action. The pages lead us out of despair and into undreamed-of solutions.” –The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron

I often find myself asking the questions, “Who am I? What the hell do I want? Who do I want to be?” The questions feel especially pertinent as I am unemployed and am in the process of finding a job. As I schedule coffee dates, (because that’s that you’re supposed to do to find a job, right? Networking?), the person across the table invariably asks, “So what are you looking for?”

I don’t know, so I fall back to old habits. Habits that were instilled in me as a young child, instincts to soften myself until I fit the mold of whatever the other person is looking for. I find myself shaping my answers around what I think they want to hear, what I think will help me seem more marketable, hirable.

Answers that will make me likable.

But my soul is parched and lost. I’ve decided to embark on Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I got a copy from the library and it’s 12 weeks of exercises and who knows what else. I’ll try to document my journey and path in here. I hope that somewhere in the process, I’ll find my creative voice again. I define creativity as the conviction to create something because you feel it must be created, regardless of external criticism or praise. So mucho f my being feels defined by the external. I hope to find a truer, sturdier inner self.

At the beginning of the book, Julia Cameron encourages readers to make a contract with themselves:

I, Christine, understand that I am undertaking an intensive, guided encounter with my own creativity. I commit myself to the twelve week duration of the course. I, Christine, commit to weekly reading, daily morning pages, a weekly artist date, and the fulfillment of each week’s tasks.

I, Christine, further understand that this course will raise issues and emotions for me to deal with. I, Christine, commit myself to excellent self-care – adequate sleep, diet, exercise, and pampering – for the duration of the course.

-Christine