In the spirit of love day (but really isn't every day love day?!), I thought I'd actually check in long enough to share some of the many things I'm loving currently. In truth, there are way more than I could list here, as several times a week lately I've been crying totally blissed out, happy tears.
1) Having the house back: L moved out earlier than I expected (a bit before the end of January), but truthfully I have been SO ready to live solo again. The dogs and I have been loving sleeping with the bedroom door open, being able to turn the heat off during the day and leave the back door open so the dogs can come and go as they please while I'm at work, not having to worry about excess electricity usage (and hopefully seeing utility bills drop), running around in whatever I desire to wear without worry, and really just being able to have full run of the house as I desire. I rearranged the furniture (again) but I really am loving the current lay-out. And truthfully every single day, I'm just so incredibly happy to be living alone....and to finally have hit a financial place where it's even possible.
2) Budgeting & Meal Planning: Last month I decided to pinch as many pennies as I could and since I also tend to struggle with eating enough/well, I have been implementing the 1-2x a week shopping trip, 1-2x week meal prep, and limiting all other spending. I've cut back on social engagements so that I'm not really eating out (I give myself the okay once a week max). I'm trying to only fill the car up once a week also, so am mindful of hiking locations and errands, etc. I'm also being even more mindful of utilities than normal, buying in bulk when possible, and not allowing myself to go into any stores (other than for groceries). In reviewing last month's expenditures there are only groceries, gas, and regular bills.
3) Incredibly Rewarding Job(s): It's a BUSY term between the two institutions and the load I took on this term, but truthfully my job is so incredibly rewarding. It's challenging at times, but it allows me to interact with a wide variety of students and to work in the fields that I love. Next term will be a lighter load than normal, which also might allow me to fit in a few massages for the clients who have been requesting them.... I also had some great news land about work for next year that I'm really excited about although it will change my schedule immensely....and I'm also scheduled to return to Tanzania this summer, Argentina next December with students, and I get to venture to Yale's campus for a conference in April (which I'm pretty excited about both for the content and the fact that I've never been to the NE before!).
4) Other Travel Plans: Beyond the work travel, I just bought my ticket for a girls weekend in New Orleans in Sept, I'm planning on tacking on a week trip to see Reg D in his Peace Corps placement in Malawi after the Tanzania trip concludes, if funds (& work permits) I might also try to tack on a stopover elsewhere on the way back to the US, I potentially will get to D.C. this spring also, and I'm also hoping to get at least a long weekend trip in to see my gal Cait (& visit a potential PhD option) in Arizona.
5) Awesome Family Time & News: In January I had a lot of really wonderful moments with family. I hosted my dad & granny for dinner, had cousin A over for dinner a different night, celebrated cousin Ang's bday, had a coffee/tea gathering at cousin A's, met cousin M for coffee, had a great day getting my aunt up to the mtn & meeting cousin M & her hub for lunch, and had family dinner night. As much as I was less socially engaged friend-wise, I was also more family engaged. My dad also had some really awesome health news arrive that was pretty incredulous and I'm still beaming from it.
6) The Billion Other Little Things: Like a soaking wet hike up a mountainside today with an old friend. Like super warm days this last week that allowed me to get out in the yard finally putting the raised beds to "rest" from last fall and also adding compost & turning up the soil in preparation for planting this spring. Like seeing my credit card statement the lowest it's been in a looong time and knowing that it will be paid off in full in just a few short month(s)---even with a few items added to it this evening. Like registering for the Flat Traffic Half marathon for the 4th of July (even though I swore I'd never run another official half marathon). Like chopping 3 inches off my hair and refinding a bit of the random wave of my 30s return. Like glistening up & bringing out the cast iron for use in the kitchen again...and day dreaming of all the other "green" items that will be coming back into my life. Like seeing Dad's old picnic table, newly sanded, painted, and functioning as my main table finally fulfilling the dream of a "farmhouse" table. Like knowing financial "stability" is almost here (hoping, hoping!). Like finally reading a book for fun until 2am on a Thursday last week. Like polished tea kettles with no oil splatters. Like the awesomeness that comes when a student asks what else you're teaching so they can make sure to take you again. Like dinners of steak, red wine, and asparagus. Like stew in the crock pot & bread in the breadmaker while clothes dry on the laundry line. Like dogs who make you feel like you are the best thing that happened to their day. Like arroz con leche (aka rice pudding) sprinkled with cinnamon for an evening snack. Like finally unpacking some of Granny's old china. Like feeling like the house that you've (consecutively) lived in the longest in your entire life (aka this one) is finally a home. Like even in the tiredness and when reflecting back on the struggles, recognizing that life delivers you exactly where it wants you...and being oh so happy to be here.