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Archive for July, 2009

As a student, single, living in the city, how is one supposed to make it work? I just found out what my student loan amount will be.  It has me stressed and uncertain. I know I will go forward with school, it’s something i need to do and it will work out in the end, I’m certain of that.  But when student loans only amount to enough to cover tuition and books, how am I supposed to cover rent? hydro? phone? the car that I need to keep? 20 months suddenly seem VERY long.

Something will work out. Bursaries. Student line of credit at the bank. Appeal the decision with the student loans people. Job? I now hope/need more than ever to keep my job. I don’t know exactly how much I could make, that depends on what compensation package I get, or if I get to keep my job.

Sigh. On brighter news, I’ve booked my trip to visit my ‘distraction’. That is going to be a great trip. I will use some set aside money for it, and the last trip before the realities of school set in.

But for now I’m going to relax and take it one day at a time. It will all work out because this is the right direction for my life.

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I’ve had a lot going on in the last few days and I haven’t really known what to write.  On the one hand, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I don’t have to be concerned about my boss finding out about my plans. Yesterday and today, too, have been significant in that realm — I’ve told three co-workers who I felt it’s important that they know from me, and early.

So that’s good. I’ve also had an intense weekend. I went without caffeine and I have never had a worse migraine in my life. Monday was an entirely unproductive day at work, but it made me realize, how much I dislike being dependent on a chemical.  So I’m staying off coffee. I am tempering my detox though with matcha and green tea. I know these have caffeine in it, but after the headaches I need to at least reduce those or I wont be functional at work. It seems inappropriate to replace one chemical (caffeine) with another (pain killers). So I’m using green tea and matcha, but no coffee to try to taper off coffee. I would like to get to a point where I can enjoy a cup — even decaf — and not get into the habit of a daily coffee.

Why on earth did I do this now? Because one of my friends needed study participants and this was the weekend I was to do the testing.  It was interesting for me because I ended up getting an estimate of my VO2 Max. What exactly is my VO2 max? From a google search:

“VO2 Max is a measure of how fit an athlete is: It expresses the volume of oxygen a body consumes per minute”

It’s an interesting range to know, and it helps me to know where my heart rate needs to be for peak training. For those women who want to burn more fat than carbs when working out?? I know where I need to work at, for me, to do this.  In my case, I probably had more of a VO2 peak — the test I was given was on a bike and I’m a runner, so my tester said it’s probably safe to add on 3-4 more to my results if I were to test while running. The reason is, my legs gave out before I reached my breathing capacity. I just couldn’t pedal anymore, faster or harder.

What VO2 max ranges are normal for people of different ages? This information was provided in a table in the website I linked to, above. I’ll include it here as an image for reference. All citations and credits are to be given to preventdisease.com and should not be directed to me:

Vo2 max ranges for men & women

So what was my number? Mine was 42 which puts me in the ‘very good’ category, or perhaps higher if I’d been tested on a treadmill. This is a number that has me pretty proud of myself. It feels like an empirical number that I can say ‘I’m this fit’. I may not have a perfect body, I may eat too much chocolate on occasion (like tonight), but I am quite fit and that is a great way to look at things beyond the scale or how I feel (which is entirely subjective!).

So yeah, those are some thoughts going around in my head. For now I’m going to sleep being thankful, once again, for the AC unit I now have in my bedroom. I must say if this heatwave keeps up I’m going to have one organized bedroom!

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Running and Plunging…

My usual routine is work, come home and nap, do whatever I’m going to do in the evening. Most of the time I run a few days a week, with my long runs being on Saturday mornings. This week, though,  I’m doing a fitness assessment on the weekend so I can’t do my long run as usual.  So my kind running buddy came with me and we did our 29k run. I was not happy about running that distance. I was tired after a busy week at work, I was sore and generally weary.  But we went out, running buddy being very patient (all the while chuckling to himself) at my whinging and complaining.

We ran east (we usually run more west in our city), and headed through a number of neighborhoods — there were the up and coming gentrifying neighborhoods, the ones with the ‘edge’ to them, the Italians,  Chinatown, edging on the bad part of town and then BAM the trendy areas where we usually run. Running in a city gives me an interesting picture on who those people are, how they live and what the different cultures of any given neighborhood are really like.  I run races in other cities for that very reason: exposure as a visitor in a way that one does not get by seeing the sights or visiting museums.

As we ran I realized that, unlike my usual routine (this run was anything but usual), I didn’t start from a bathroom-offering location. So we first ran to a gas station. But the washroom was closed. Down  the street we go to the second one. Same thing. Across the street was a third: open this time. BUT, the bowl of the toilet was almost full (clear water, lets not be gross). So I test it out: it’s not draining. I’m a handy independent woman, who was getting desperate by this time so I grabbed the plunger and started plunging. This barely rescued the toilet from flooding but didn’t unstop it. At this point I washed my hands and w went on search for #4. This one was a coffee shop with a very long bathroom lineup. So down the road we were running. At this point we passed a Safeway and I knew I could find one there. Relief was at hand, 5 bathrooms + one plunging experience later.

The rest of the evening was running running running. A beautiful sunset made it all worthwhile and I felt strong and healthy.  I must say, I may not be much of a morning person, I definitely prefer to run or workout in the mornings. Thankfully I made it through, sometimes on sheer stubbornness, but I made it. The sushi reward at the end, and the great company through the run, made it all worthwhile.

The one drawback of running so long after work is that it’s difficult to get enough sleep. To recover from a long run, I usually have a nap plus a night’s sleep, and feel much better the next day. Friday hurt and was a bad day for many reasons but I can’t help but think that such a long run didn’t help.  After work, I began the testing for a friend of mine. It was fun, she’s a good coach! 😀 And the painful part of this weekend will be the no coffee. no chocolate. no alcohol.

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Yesterday was a big day for me.  It was my annual review day.  It made me laugh a little, my manager acknowledged that I’m a perfectionist — she noted that I’d told her that in my interviews and that it is both a strength and a weakness. It’s something I need to relax on and work on but I’m well aware of it so I wasn’t surprised or concerned. I chuckled more than anything because I told her exactly that in my interview for my job (and she commented that she remembered this).

It was an important day too, because it’s the day when I knew I had to present what I want to do with my career, where it’s going and how I want to get there.  I’ve been holding this quite closely and I’ve been very vague here on this blog (such as this post) — not mentioning it on facebook or in public (it’s this reason I’ve not posted my blog on my FB profile — though it may be a while before I’m ready to post this there openly), because I’ve been concerned that colleagues would find out — to me, I feel fairly ‘find-able’ on the internet. That being said, I have two close friends at work who do know the story, but my manager didn’t. Until yesterday.

I presented it gently, as ‘here’s what I’m thinking of doing’ rather than bluntly and ‘I’m doing this’.  My plans are defined, I know what’s going to happen, but I didn’t want to force my hand or back my manager into a corner. So she asked me how definite I was and I picked 80%. I’ll clarify that it’s 100% in a week or so once she’s back from holidays, but I wanted to let her know I would take the opportunity to think now that we’ve spoken. I also let her know that if I had to decide right away it was 100% and that my gut says to go forward.  The question becomes whether I’ll be working there part time or whether I’ll be looking for a part time job on campus.

My plans in the fall, the uncertainty of employment is why I’ve been focusing on my to do list, my finances, life and home organization: I want to be ready to do as well as possible in my plans.

So this brings me to my title. What the heck have I been alluding to in all my posts?!?

I know many friends read my blog and they already know what my plans are (how anti-climactic!), but many people read this blog who are unknown to me.  So for those who have been patiently reading and wondering and waiting: I will be going back to school, changing my career path and going into Nursing. I’m attending one of the major schools in town.  I start in September.

I’m pretty excited — it now seems real to me. Eventually I hope to connect the biotechnology/biology/science background and career that I’ve had, but for now I am pursuing nursing. Once I’m done school my plans will be to perhaps travel with nursing for a while, live as conservatively as possible, pay of debt and move forward with this new stage of my life. This is a huge bend in the road, and my gut is telling me it’s the right one. One I think I’ve resisted for a long time.

It’s created challenges too. My family doesn’t understand my career path, that people have many careers in a lifetime now, and that I’m doing what will make me happy. I’m stressed because I had hoped to be out of debt before I started school, but the reality is that I was paid more conservatively than I should have been (good stable company, but low paying compared with the market and industry. sigh).   I’m wrestling with what to do about this. There’s nothing I can really do to get out of debt completely in the next few weeks.  Especially since I’m not making ends meet as it is.  I need to be more proactive about managing my finances — as conscientiously as I did when I wasn’t working. That was helpful. Right now, I’m so stressed about money that I’m hiding it. I do the basics, pay bills, try not to use my credit card, try not to eat out too much. But I’ve been avoiding looking at numbers exactly.  But I need to sit down and face them.  It will make it better overall.

I need to organize my place. I want to go through things, as I described in this post as well as this post. Well, there have been a lot of posts lately about the upcoming changes.  Home, finances, personal life. It’s all integrated. And I want to have it in order before I go forward.

A few other things I’ll do:

1. Cancel my cable. I don’t need the distraction while I’m in school. I can watch movies or download shows and the news from the internet.

2. Get rid of my landline once It’s no longer needed (long story, I don’t pay for it right now).

3. Be more conservative when I eat out, or don’t eat out. I try not to buy my lunch very much. It’s been ramping up a bit lately, and ironically tomorrow I’ll buy my lunch.

I’m also thinking of trying the ‘No Spend Month Challenge‘.   Is anyone into trying this with me? Perhaps it would go well happening in September?

Anyhow, that is what the heck I’ve been talking about. I’ll be updating my profile now that I can be more public about what’s going on and I can now be more clear in posts. YAY.

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Tomorrow. That will be a big corner. I”m surprisingly not nervous, mostly because I don’t know what outcome I want to have happen.  I’ve got it worked out for what I need to say. I need to work out the details for the fall and how to afford everything.

Anyhow tomorrow’s a big day. So for that I’m going to sleep. I’ll post more and explain what’s going on with my plans, future, ideas, thoughts.

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Crossing Borders

I have nexus. It’s a wonderful thing, I’m pre-screened which means most of the time I don’t get many questions, I breeze right through border line ups and it’s all good. This weekend, I went down with someone who doesn’t have nexus. So we went through the regular line up. I’ve had my trunk checked a number of times going into the USA, that doesn’t surprise me. What surprised me was when they opened up my spare tire well and looked in there.  The many odd questions were strange too.

On the way home, though, it was worse.  We had to pull over, we got grilled and they ripped my car apart.  They made me feel violated and guilty of something. Anything. I didn’t know what. I am always scrupulously honest about any declarations so I wasn’t concerned about things when they said they were sending us in to verify my declaration. But then to be told that they were doing drug checks??? WHAT??? Why not just use drug dogs, at least it would give them a good idea that there’s no drugs on my car.  But they tore my car apart, they searched my purse, opened my toiletries — and now know my preferences about personal items I carry with me. I felt dirty, like I was believed to be a criminal.  Perhaps the young girl who was working as a border guard didn’t believe that two women could go to the states overnight and not spend more than $50 between the two of us. Perhaps they were confused that a person with a nexus pass was not in the nexus lane (which seems weird since I’m not supposed to go in the nexus lane with a non-nexus person). Perhaps my friend, who is very well traveled, had some unique enough visas in her passport that it was flagged.

Who knows. All I know is that it made for a frustrating end to a drawn out weekend. It was a fun weekend, a good blues party, not epic, and made me miss my favourite leads.  But, I must say, this border crossing experience put a damper on my travel plans. I think I may end up traveling alone more to the USA. Friends are more than welcome to meet me in Blaine if they want to ride with me, but really, I don’t want to deal with this #$@# anymore when crossing the border. Which is unfortunate since I’m traveling more and more.  But if people aren’t willing to go through the process of getting security checked they can deal with this crap at the border. I’d rather not.  Sigh. For now, though, I’m going to sleep. Blissful sleep in my own bed.

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This week has been nuts at work. It seriously has me second-guessing myself. It makes me pause because I don’t know how to broach my plans with those who need to know. Or if I even want to go through with parts of them. Maybe I should just go through with the other plans and deal with the debt later. Maybe that would be better for my sanity? I know I’m being vague right now, and for those who don’t know me personally (or who do know me but haven’t asked what the heck I’m talking about), I’m sure it’s frustrating and confusing to read.  Sigh. Anyhow, as soon as I have explained it to those who should hear about it from me, I will explain it in more detail.

Anyhow, after the last couple of days, I needed to decompress.  I’ve been planning on a berry run — to make jam and to freeze berries. Since doing things like this help me relax, I decided to skip running and make jam instead.  So, I made the jam tonight and now have 19 cups of jam. It may not make sense that I’m spending a lot on berries now when I have a lot of expenses coming up. But, this will hopefully stock me up so that I don’t need to spend as much on fruit for the next year, or two (two years might be stretching it).

So that’s me. Stressed but dealing with it by making 19 cups of jam and now it’s yet another night of being up much too late. Bootcamp’s going to hurt in the morning. Time to get ready for bed.

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