Lists

Every December, I have to complete a self-assessment that will be part of my annual performance review and this year I meant to write “I consistently deliver results” but mistakenly typed “I consistently deliver resluts” and spellcheck didn’t catch it so it’s a good thing I proofread everything before I hit Submit because otherwise my boss may have thought I am involved in some sort of strange human trafficking effort instead of completing my tasks.

The end of the year is somehow full of lists to make. On my self-review I list out everything noteworthy that I did at work all year, summarizing twelve months of eight- to ten-hour days in a few paragraphs of highlights. Not mentioned are the day-to-day things that probably did make a difference but don’t warrant a shout-out from myself to myself, like making coffee in the break room when I go in there and the pot is sitting empty, or cleaning up that same break room because whoever took the last of the coffee and didn’t bother to brew a new pot also spilled some of that coffee on the counters and didn’t wipe up the mess, or not murdering the girl who sat a few desks away from me with my mind when she dissolved into yet another fit of tears because someone had the audacity to slight her by only thanking her once in writing but not verbally in a staff meeting for some task she half-completed and then abandoned to her colleagues when she lost interest.

Just as popular as the things-I-did lists are the lists of New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve written some of these lists myself over the years, but more often than not I choose to skip over the whole resolution thing. I am especially not a fan of weight-loss resolutions. It’s an epidemic: people feel especially bad after a gluttonous holiday season, and resolve to get back on track in January with healthy eating and fitness.

Here’s the thing: I like the idea of resolving to take better care of myself. What I hate with a passion are all the people and businesses out there preying on people who want to use the New Year as a starting point to make lifestyle changes. Already, my social media feeds are clogged with “New Year New Me” pledges and those damn MLM’ers (side note: I found out that they’re referred to as “Huns”, because the stupid messages they send usually start out with “Hi Hun!”) are out in droves, peddling their wares to anyone who professes a desire to drop weight in the new year. Guys, diets don’t work. They just don’t. Those pills and wraps and teas will not work. The only thing they’re guaranteed to reduce is your bank balance. Diets like Keto aren’t going to work unless you literally eat that way for the rest of your life, which most people cannot realistically do but even if you can realistically restrict carbs forever you’re probably going to damage your kidneys in the long-run. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to only make changes you’re willing to make forever. End of story. If you really do need help figuring out what to eat, enlist the help of a registered dietician. Unlike the “health coaches” on social media, RDs have actual training in nutrition and can help you get on track to eating healthy in a sustainable way. And, for the record, every RD I know hates Keto too.

A lot of gyms are no better: this time of year, there are all these great introductory prices for new members who sign up for long-term contracts. In the past, when I’ve belonged to Gold’s Gym or 24 Hour Fitness, I could count on the gym being a ghost town in December and filled to the brim with new members come January 2. The issue I have with all this is that by March, only a fraction of these new members will still be going to the gym. I get it: working out at the gym is not for everyone. I myself only have a membership because I like to take dance classes. But people who sign up for these gym memberships at the beginning of the year are often stuck with them even after deciding that they aren’t a good fit, so they stop going but still pay the monthly fee because it’s expensive to buy out of the contracts they had to sign to get the lower prices. I highly recommend that anyone looking for a gym to join find a reputable one that has a month-to-month option, even if that place is more expensive. 

As an alternative to vowing to lose weight in 2019, could we maybe change our approaches and vow to take good care of ourselves instead? Yes, part of that is eating well and moving our bodies, but it also means doing things that make us feel good and banishing harmful things (like diets!) from our lives. It means making meaningful and longterm changes that help us to feel better.

Surely this is better than throwing money at the diet industry. And who knows – maybe at the end of 2019 we can add “did substantial financial harm to diet-product companies by not buying their crap products anymore” to our lists of accomplishments.

 

 

The Exorcism of MLMs

The following is a cautionary tale. It doesn’t matter whether I behaved stupidly and brought these events on myself, or if there was no way I could have known that my seemingly harmless actions would lead to this. Either way, I share this story to protect others from a fate similar to mine. 

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that was shared to a podcast group I’m in by one of the other members. I won’t re-share it here, as I don’t know the original creator, but it was a health and fitness-themed motivational quote and it resonated with me. Huh, yes, perhaps this little saying could be motivation for me when I’m telling myself I’m too tired or it’s too late or I have other things to do and I should NOT throw on a quick video and do a workout in my living room. Okay, yes, I decided, that could actually work to motivate me. Cool idea.

I hit ‘like’ on the post.

*quick pause for ominous “oh no don’t do that why did you do that you should have turned away but you just HAD to go forward and now you’ve kicked off a chain of events that you won’t be able to control” music*

The action of ‘liking’ the post was innocent enough. I’m pretty liberal with my liking of things on social media, especially when it comes to either cool old houses or cute puppies and kitties. Likewise, I enjoy posts that contain sarcasm, snarkiness, or absurdity. I’m not usually a big ‘motivational sayings’ girl, but every now and then something will genuinely land with me and I’ll hit ‘like’.

I wasn’t prepared for the consequences. 

Almost immediately, my morning social media scroll was interrupted by a notification that I had a new message waiting for me on Facebook Messenger. Assuming that the incoming message was from either my husband or one of my friends, I clicked over to check it. Instead, I found a waiting message from some girl I’ve never heard of, and all it said was “Thank you for liking my post.”

Huh? What post? I’d ‘liked’ quite a few things this morning, since as I already mentioned, I’m not stingy with the Facebook reactions. What the heck did she post that I reacted to, and what about it was so poignant that it warranted a follow-up thanking me for doing it? Since I wasn’t going to reply to her just to say “You’re welcome” or anything, I deleted her message and moved back to Facebook to continue my mindless scrolling.

She’d sent me a friend request!

The only thing I loathe more than being sent a friend request by someone I don’t like in real life who follows up to mention to me that they sent me said friend request, making it all awkward as I try to come up with some excuse for why I’ll never be approving that request while mentally kicking myself for not blocking this person before all this had to happen, is being sent a random friend request from someone I’ve never met. Who the hell IS this girl? I thought, as I went to stalk her profile.

A quick profile review told me everything I needed to know: she was in the same podcast group as I was, which helped me narrow down which post of hers I’d interacted with. She’s got “stay at home parent” as her job, “Mom and Certified Health Coach” in her bio, and all of her posts are public and are sharing before-and-after photos of girls that have lost weight using whatever MLM* crap she sells online, with some diet quotes mixed in with for flavor (no pun intended….okay, okay, yes, absolutely pun intended).  I couldn’t make out which company she’s peddling wares for, which is undoubtedly part of the idea: if you want to know, you have to reach out and ask her and then you get the sales pitch.

I do not want sales pitches before 8am. Or ever, really. 

Now I knew what this girl was all about. She would message those of us that were foolish enough to hit that dumb like button her post, add us as friends, and proceed to tell us how her products would help us lose weight forever and change our lives! Yay! She would use lots of smiley and heart emoji’s, call us “girlie” or “gal” or some other moniker that would make me want to strangle her with my shoelaces, and enthusiastically and with LOTS of exclamation points tell us all about her life-changing crap that would make us look like Barbie for the absolutely reasonable price of a million dollars a month. Or something like that – you get the idea.

This is not my first rodeo – I fell for these sorts of tactics back in the earlier days of Instagram, before I learned to pay close attention to profiles before I’d like a post or follow someone. These days, if someone manages to make it into my DM’s trying to sell me shit, I simply block them rather than deal with them. I haven’t really had this experience with strangers on Facebook though – usually the MLM’ers there are people I know who either auto-add me to their virtual parties or inundate my news feed with their products. I believe it is absolutely justified to unfriend those people, like exorcising my Facebook feed of MLM garbage.

I really can’t decide which I hate more – random strangers trying to sell me pseudoscience, or the pseudoscience itself. Full disclosure: I have very stupidly tried many different diets, some of them of the MLM variety, which all promise to make you lose weight faster than you ever could with diet and exercise, and the only thing I can promise you about all of this stuff is that it does not work. As I’ve said before on this blog, the only time I was able to reach and maintain a weight I was happy with was when I threw all diet mentality out the window and got myself into the habit of eating reasonably healthy and exercising regularly. Once I put myself on that first diet, it all went to hell and I’ve struggled ever since. Furthermore, people who parade around with titles like “Certified Health Coach” are not doctors or dieticians and they don’t actually have the qualifications to tell you what you should be putting in your body. Actual registered dieticians warn against all of these supposed miracle diets, because they’re not going to do anything but make desperate people shell out money they don’t have for products that don’t work. And I can absolutely promise you that none of that MLM stuff these “health coaches” are trying to sell you is going to lead to any long-term weight loss success, because if it did, everyone would be doing it! If some company out there had finally cracked the code and knew the magical answer to the question of how to lose weight, don’t you think that everybody and their mom would be all over it? 

The conclusion to this story is rather unremarkable – I deleted the friend request and unliked the post that started this whole mess so that hopefully that girl doesn’t find me again. If she does, I can definitely block her, but for now we’ll see if she takes the hint. 

I do still really like her original post though.

 *MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing and it is a nicer way of saying “pyramid scheme”.

All I Want for Christmas is You (to Help Whisker City!)

The holiday season is officially upon us, and arriving alongside it are the annual pop-ups of gift-giving guides. People came out in the usual masses to shop Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. From now until the end of the year, we’ll be thinking of our friends and family, trying to find that perfect gift to show our affections and make their faces light up.

This year, I am so incredibly grateful for everything in my life. I have a warm home, all of my needs are met,and I am surrounded by love. Sadly, there are many in my community who are not as fortunate as I am, including many homeless cats. These innocent kitties are looking for a home to call their own this holiday season, and as much as I wish I could, I cannot adopt each one myself.

Last year, I began supporting a local cat sanctuary in my community called Whisker City. They are a small rescue dedicated to protecting the lives and interests of unwanted cats, committed to rescuing and rehabilitating abused, neglected, and abandoned kitties. After my cat Angel passed away, I went to Whisker City to donate unused medical supplies that I had left over. I was happy to know that other kitties could benefit from the supplies I had once Angel no longer could, and the volunteers at Whisker City were compassionate toward me and my recent loss while also welcoming me and inviting me to take a tour of their facility and to meet their cats. I’ve been supporting them ever since with monthly donations and a sponsorship of Voodoo, a beautiful Siamese that probably would live at my house now if she particularly liked other cats.

I am not asking for gifts for myself this holiday season; as I’ve said, I have everything I need. What I am asking for, what would mean the most to me and make my face light up, is for my family and friends to please donate to Whisker City. Whether you donate once or sign up for monthly donations, whether you can spare five dollars or a hundred, every contribution helps to take care of these kitties and to keep them safe while they wait for their forever homes. I honestly cannot think of anything that would mean more to me this holiday season than to see a rush of support for this organization that is so important to me.

To donate to Whisker City, check out the fundraiser on my Facebook page, or follow this link: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MzE5NTY=

Thank you and Happy Holidays! 

If It Doesn’t Scan, It Must Be Free

I think too many years in customer service scarred me in some ways.

Yesterday morning, I stood in the usual line to catch my usual bus to go to work, but when said bus arrived it took the driver a really long time to open the doors and let us all on. When he finally did open them, he stood in the doorway and announced to all of us that the meter thing that takes money wasn’t working, so we didn’t need to scan our cards or pay any money. “Just get on the bus”, he explained.

While I felt that his instructions were rather straightforward, this turn of events apparently stirred a deep need in many of my fellow riders to ask clarifying questions or make their glee at not having to pay bus fare known to the driver. “Are you sure I can’t pay you?” one woman asked. “What a nice gift for us!” a man in track pants enthusiastically said.

During these exchanges, I eye-rolled so hard it’s a miracle I didn’t hurt myself, all the while thinking just shut the hell up and get on the bus already, quit stopping in the doorway to act like your stupid joke is the funniest thing the driver has ever heard in his life, oh for the love of god people just freaking sit down already. Lady, he already SAID not to pay, so stop making such a show of searching for coins in your Louis Vuitton knockoff bag and SIT YOUR ASS DOWN ALREADY. My inner voice was getting decidedly shouty.

Naturally, the majority of the people who got on at the next two stops repeated the exact same stupid comments, because of course they did.

When I was but a starry-eyed teenage cashier back in high school, I quickly learned that any item that didn’t ring up would prompt the customer to say “I guess it must be free!” because, yeah, that’s exactly what happens now, Susan. Look at you, finding the hidden free stuff in the store, you clever clever girl! It was at that young age that I learned the valuable skill of pasting a smile on my face and forcing a “haha” while quickly calling for a price check. Another one I grew to know all too well was during my call center days, when customers would shout the very triumphant “Thanks for nothing!” right before hanging up on me when I couldn’t make whatever thing they wanted happen.

Lest I seem completely persnickety, let me pause to say that I really do enjoy funny people and witty comments. On more than one occasion, an angry customer would hit me with a one-liner so good that I would chuckle appreciatively before I could stop myself, and when they’d demand to know what was so funny I would reply honestly that their comment was clever and I appreciated their sense of humor even when they were mad. Those conversations would typically end pretty well, and I think that’s probably because witty people are usually smart too and they can appreciate reasonable explanations even for things they don’t like. The “thanks for nothing” crowd, on the other hand, seemed to feel that reasoning and logic was a lot less valuable than giving them whatever they were demanding.

Perhaps these experiences left me hopelessly jaded and unable to experience the joy that comes with telling the cashier, “Yes, and many things I wasn’t!” when asked if I found everything I was looking for. We all have our burdens, and I suppose this is mine.

Thanksgiving Shopping

Over the weekend, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start working out more than once or twice a week, and pledged to ourselves that we would work out both days of the weekend and at least two days of each week. We dutifully followed through and did Beachbody workouts in our living room both Saturday and Sunday morning, and on Saturday we even had salads for lunch from the salad bar at the fancy grocery store where we went to do our shopping for Thanksgiving, and we feel pretty good about our efforts. Today I wanted to keep the momentum up so I went for a walk at lunchtime with one of my new coworkers. We went to Bellevue Downtown Park and walked around the little trail three times, and I’m pretty sure casual passers-by probably thought that I had something slightly wrong with me because my legs are super sore from the squats I did over the weekend and so right now when I walk is sort of looks like a duck waddle, but not as waddle-y as the real duckies that were playing in the fountains so I guess there’s that. But I also ate cookies and bagel pizza bites and drank some nice scotch over the weekend, because I don’t want to get too healthy too fast, after all. Balance and such.

Anyway, back to Saturday. I haven’t done a proper Thanksgiving shopping in, well, probably ever in my life, because I’ve only ever hosted for the holiday once before, and that was eleven years ago and if I was along for the shopping portion of planning I have zero memory of it whatsoever. I think I’ll remember Saturday’s experience though, namely because it was one of the few times in the last few years that I can recall going grocery shopping without feeling at least a little bit anxious about being in a crowded store. Normally I hate grocery shopping unless it’s during one of those rare times when the store is nearly empty and there isn’t really anyone around me. I’m not a fan of being in crowded stores – I don’t like it when there are too many people in an aisle and I’m not able to walk through it, and I’m constantly feeling as if I’m in the way. But Saturday was actually pretty fun.

We went to Central Market, one of my very favorite grocery stores. I had a huge list of the things we needed to buy, and I was actually able to enjoy browsing shelves and looking at all the different spices and vegetables and available meats at the meat counter. Normally I have a short list of the things we need for meals for the week and try to rush to grab the things we need as quickly as humanly possible, causing myself to somewhat resemble a human tornado. This time, though, I was able to slow down, and thought more about which ingredients would best enhance the flavor of the things I wanted to make, not really giving a damn if I was in some dude’s way while I read each label.

About two hours after entering the store and sitting down with our salads, Husband and I emerged victorious with two shopping carts that we triumphantly pushed through the parking lot. We loaded up the car with what was probably more food than I’ve ever purchased in one trip, feeling pleased with ourselves and very accomplished. I’m super excited for Thursday, when I get to make all the dishes I’ve planned for people I love.

Answering the Call

Remember blogging?

I do. I remember writing my very first blog post back in 2004. That was before I knew what WordPress was, when the platform I used was the little blogging section of my MySpace account (ah yes, I remember MySpace too, and fiercely maintain that in its heyday it was far better than Facebook has ever been). My audience consisted of my friends, because I seriously doubted that anyone else cared about my little MySpace account.

Blogging got more popular and more platforms became available. I switched over to a Blogger account in the mid-2000’s and started writing Angry, Young and Poor. It was fitting at a time where I was coming into my own and finding myself increasingly irritated with the state of everything around me from my boring call center job to the wars that then-president George Bush charged the US into after September 11th. On my blog I could talk about anything from a stupid driver in traffic on my way home from work to how helpless I felt as I watched the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolding on my TV every night, with no resources to personally help the victims. It was an outlet. It helped me figure out what I wanted.

V in the Northwest was born in 2010, when I made the move from Southern California to the Seattle area. I had no idea what I was in for, but I knew that I wanted to write about what I was experiencing. Now this little blog has seen eight and a half years of my life unfold; it’s seen me go through some of the best and some of the hardest times of my life, it’s connected me with other amazing bloggers that I never would have known otherwise (shout-out to you, Jill!). It’s a living history of how I got from who I was then to who I am now.

We bloggers don’t really write as much as we used to. A lot of us have slowed down and don’t post as often as we used to, if at all. Some lucky bloggers are published authors now, and tell their stories in their books. People tend to use Instagram stories and YouTube rather than traditional blogging to share their lives and their stories. But what about our blogging community? What about the connections we built and the good that we’ve done?

Today Jenny Lawson, writer of the Bloggess, posted a call to all bloggers to celebrate our community and to reach out to each other. She encouraged us to write, and that encouragement was just what I needed to start working on this post. I thought of all the blogs I love, of all the writers in the blogging community that I love. Some have gone silent, and I miss reading their posts. Others are still here, sharing their lives with any who want to read what they have to say. So here I am, inspired to start writing more, just in case some of you missed me too.

The Payoff

Last year, I wrote a blog post revealing that I had enrolled in college at Western Governors University (WGU) and was recommitting to finally achieving my dream of earning a Bachelor’s degree. I had wanted it for so long, and I was hopeful that I had found a college with a program that would work with my busy schedule and that I could do it this time. And now, that dream has finally come true – I submitted my application for graduation on Monday, after submitting and receiving a passing grade on my final project.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I’ve done it. I’ve been told by colleagues that have recently graduated that it may not fully sink in until I attend commencement next spring, that for them at least it was walking across the stage and receiving their degree that cemented the accomplishment for them. I can definitely see how that would be the case!

I did everything out of order, getting a job and dropping out of college after one semester, and working through my twenties while my friends attended universities, graduated, and began their own careers. Now, at 34, I have an established career and I finally have the degree to go with it. Being able to check that last box will afford me opportunities that I may not have been considered for without it, and I am so very glad that I did it and so very proud of myself. Earning a degree later in life is no less an accomplishment than it would have been if I’d done it directly out of high school; in some ways, I think it’s more of an accomplishment, because I had to work harder to do it. I’m also relieved to graduate without having to worry about a pile of student loans, because I was able to take advantage of tuition assistance programs at work that paid the majority of my way through school.

I don’t think I could’ve done this without the support and love I received from my husband along the way. He knew how important finishing college was to me and he was very encouraging when I enrolled in school. He always made sure that I had time to study, and was more than happy to take on much more than his share of laundry and other household chores so that I could focus. Each time I had to take a test, he kissed me good luck and then celebrated with me when I passed. When I cried tears of frustration over hard classes, he comforted me and assured me that I was smart and that I could do it. He believed in me every step of the way, even when I doubted myself.

Now I am left with a sense of accomplishment and a whole lot more free time than I’ve had over the last year. I’m excited to read books for fun again, instead of using all my reading time for studying. I’m excited to get back to writing blog posts now that I no longer need to write papers. I’ve been promoted at work and am excited to start my new job on Monday, knowing that I can focus completely on what I’m learning at the office and that I don’t have any homework waiting for me at the end of the work day. I’ve worked so hard to get where I am, and now all that hard work is paying off and I’m enjoying every second of the life I have because of it.

Appreciating the Bumps in the Road

Yesterday was my first day returning to work after a wonderful trip to visit friends in Denver. I felt refreshed and ready to take on the stack of emails and meetings I knew were waiting for me, and was even ready to leave the house earlier than normal. I kissed Husband goodbye and made my way downstairs to our parking garage, where despite repeatedly pressing the Unlock button on my key fob I couldn’t get my car to unlock. Unfazed, I returned to our condo and got the spare set of keys, certain that the battery in my regular fob had died and I’d soon be on my way.

Back in the garage, the second set of keys wouldn’t unlock the door automatically either. For some reason, putting the key directly into the door lock tends to set off the panic alarm, so I hate doing it, but I was out of other options. The good news is that when I manually unlocked my door, no alarms went off to deafen all of my neighbors at7am, but the bad news was that I quickly realized it was my battery and not my key fob that was dead. And we’re talking REAL dead here, probably the deadest dead battery I’ve ever encountered in all the years I’ve been driving cars.

Husband tried to jump-start my car for a good half hour, but the battery was just too far gone. Eventually, I assured him that he should get on the road and go to work, and that I’d work from home while waiting for AAA to show up and revive my car. He reluctantly agreed, hesitant to potentially strand me despite my promising that I would be fine.

Upstairs, I got to work, quickly sending a note to my boss about the situation and promising to be in the office just as soon as I was able to be. AAA showed up about an hour and a half later, and got the car running in no time.

Having a dead car battery is definitely annoying, but this morning left me feeling far more grateful than irritated. For one thing, I realize how lucky I am that I can afford a reliable car that I honestly just assume will always start and function properly. I recognize that there are many people who get anxiety every time they turn the key in their ignition because they have no guarantee that their car will actually start on any given day. I’m also super fortunate to have my husband, who loves me and tries without complaint to start my car after I’ve killed my battery by leaving my dome light on for five days straight while we were out of town. He never once grumbled about the situation or got even the slightest bit cranky at me, even though it was all my own fault for being careless and I am well aware of that. Had I asked him, he would have even gone completely out of his way to take me to work and then retrieved me at the end of the day, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. And that leads me to another thing I’m grateful for – I didn’t have to scramble around in a panic and figure out how to get to the office, potentially inconveniencing other people. My company is so flexible and my boss is understanding and kind, and it’s so nice to work in an environment where it’s understood that things do come up. I’ve had jobs before where being late would have resulted in potential discipline, no matter what my reasons.

Life may not always go completely smoothly and there will inevitably be bumps along the road, but I believe that we can focus on the bad things or we can find good in them and move on. Today reminded me that even the things that do go wrong in my life are so minor and so easy to overcome, and I am so very lucky. Things are the best they’ve ever been for me and I know what it’s like to struggle, and I also know that things can change and that there’s no guarantee that I’ll always be this fortunate. I know this, and think of it daily, and I am so appreciative of all that I have.

International Childfree Day 2018

Happy International Childfree Day, everyone!

Last year, shortly after returning from my honeymoon, I wrote a post about the decision my husband and I have made not to have children. I can admit now that I was very nervous to hit that Publish button and to openly proclaim that we were choosing not to have kids – a lifestyle that for some reason is still upsetting to some. I was afraid of the criticism, the rebukes that I’ll change my mind, that not having kids is selfish, that I’ll never know true love until I have a child. You know, all the usual things people say when a woman declares herself childfree, all the things people have said to me in my life. The things that make me feel pressured to change my course in life just to please others.

Happily, the responses I received were supportive and positive, and in the year since I wrote that post I’ve become a lot more comfortable owning my childfree status. Writing openly about choosing a life without children led to such a remarkable change in my thinking. I no longer worry that I’m going to offend people with kids when I say I don’t want kids myself. I don’t feel bad because my path in life is different from theirs or because I want different things out of life. Why should I? We humans are inordinately different by nature and so of course our dreams for ourselves and our choices in life are going to be vastly different as well. I don’t question for a second anyone else’s choosing to have kids; it’s just what they want for themselves and their lives.

In honor of International Childfree Day, here are some childfree facts about me. Feel free to add your own childfree facts in the comments!

• Even as a child, I never thought of myself as growing up to be a mother. I chose playing with My Little Ponies over baby dolls; I much preferred to imagine the grand adventures the ponies would have and didn’t enjoy pretending to care for a baby.

• I don’t dislike kids – I actually have several children in my life whom I love with all my heart and spending time with them makes me happy.

• I didn’t choose a career over parenting. While I do work full time, I don’t feel such a strong dedication to my job that I’d sacrifice things I want in my personal life for it. I am fortunate to work for a company that highly promotes work-life balance and while I do enjoy working hard, I’m not the person consistently leaving work the latest and I am happy to take my vacation days.

• I believe it’s important to really think about why I do things in life. My husband recently told me about reading an article discussing people’s motivations to do things and summarizing that we either do things out of obligation or out of genuine desire. I try to live my life so that the obligations are few and far outweighed by the things I want to be doing. Thinking this way was a big part of my ultimate decision not to have kids – I don’t crave parenting, and I think it’s something you should only do if you are craving that life.

• My heart aches for people who do crave parenthood and can’t have kids. One of the major drivers for my decision to break my silence and be more outspokenly childfree was not so much my own experience with negativity around my decision, but frustration at the questions I was regularly asked about when I would be having kids. I imagine how terrible it would be to be asked those same questions if I did want a baby while being unable to have one, and I want to lead the charge in helping to educate people about the harm they do when they ask such things.

• I love my childfree life and I want other childfree people to love theirs, too. There isn’t anything wrong with choosing not to be a parent!

What I Don’t Want for My Birthday

This Saturday is my birthday. I will be 34.

I think there are people who look at their upcoming birthday and the year ahead and have ideas for what things they would like to do and how they would like to improve their lives and themselves as they embark upon a new trip around the sun. Maybe I’m lazy (okay, the ‘maybe’ part is probably a stretch), because I don’t have any grand plans for things I’m resolving to do as I officially turn one year older. I like myself and my life, for the most part anyway, and I’m quite content to just let it continue to be the way that it is.

Now, there are some things I would like to NOT do in my 34th year, to be sure. I do hope to continue to not have any grey hairs, because keeping up my roots when my hair is this blonde is already a pain and I don’t need to add any other shades to the mix.

My current hair

I would also like to not go on any diets because I love food and I also love alcohol and I think anything that prohibits me from having things I enjoy is stupid. Furthermore, I would like to not put any pressure on myself to be good-looking or busy at all times or to do too many things that I don’t like doing just because someone else feels I should be doing those things. I honestly don’t know how many birthdays I’ll get to have in life, and when you don’t know how much time you’re going to get, it’s just silly to waste the time you DO have doing or thinking about unpleasant things. And if I do happen to be lucky enough to advance into old age, and I certainly hope I do get that lucky, I don’t want to look back on my life and realize that I could’ve had a lot more fun if I’d concerned myself more with what I like to do than with what everyone else thinks of me and my life. I already primarily spoilt my high school experience by trying to live up to other people’s expectations and it seems crazy to waste my adulthood in a similar fashion. And, doing too many things I don’t like or listening too much to what other people think of my life makes me enjoy being alive a lot less, and since being alive is a temporary condition I don’t have time for people and things that lead me to stop appreciating life fully.

Also, I don’t want to do any running because I hate it. There are so many things that I love to do that are healthy and active things, like dancing and riding my bike and taking walks. I like doing things that make me feel good and running is not one of those things.

I think that pretty well sums up the things I don’t want for my 34th year of life. I do always want cookies though, if someone so desires to bring me some.