Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Resolutions Checkpoint 2017: January

Resolutions Checkpoint January 2017 - Rebe With a Clause

January is over! Time to look back at the resolutions I set a month ago and then get an action plan in place for February.

January Progress

I didn't set January focus items for each resolution, so here's a general evaluation of each:

1. Leap

I only felt as though I took one leap this month, and that was testing out my 5 in 5 Connection Challenge on two strangers at a cafe—well, the only cafe—in my hometown. I will write about this in detail soon, but I wanted to try it on more than two people before I share it.

Due to the original purpose of the challenge (briefly: to connect with fellow Americans I wouldn't normally talk with, inspired by the election), traveling doesn't seem the place for it (I usually have lots in common with travelers)—though I can certainly give it a shot when I share a language with someone.

2. Stretch/yoga/pilates

Before I took off, I researched a few good pilates moves for spinal fusion, made a quick one-page reminder with some images and printed it off to bring along. How many times have I done pilates in Madrid? Zero. I did sit and stretch while I had a half an hour to wait in Sol the other night, and did a quick nighttime yoga in bed last night, but I have a ways to go to make this one a daily practice.

At the moment, though, my only must-do daily is my journal writing (new 100 days project). I've had four things that I want to do each day—write, read, meditate, stretch/pilates—but when I tried tracking them earlier in the month I'd never hit all four (+ walking). I think I need to focus on just one daily thing until it's automatic, or give in and start a routine that incorporates them all. I've been excited not to have a routine on these travels, though.

3. Unplug/be outside

While sick earlier in the month I watched so much Parenthood on Netflix, and during the month felt like Twitter was getting the best of me. Here's my month report from Rescue Time, which feels yucky and scary to see all at once (182 hours!?, which includes 19 hours on Twitter!)—but this is why I'm tracking it:

At least I'll have some hard data to compare with in the coming months.


  • Values: I'll share a quick story from today. I was eating my lunch outside by Madrid's Public Art Museum, watching the taxis all lined up. Passengers get in the taxi at the front of the line, and then all the taxis roll forward a spot when it takes off. I was curious how long they'd all wait before getting a passenger (there were about 7-8 taxis lined up at the curb). During the whole time I was watching, only four taxis left. While watching, I noticed each taxi had a letter painted on the side, in the rear. Some said "V," a few said "X," but another said "J." What could that possibly mean? I thought about it some, considered asking a taxi driver, then just continued thinking. When I finished eating and got up to walk away, I thought to myself: You want to explore your curiosities, right? So ask! This is a great chance to be curious! So I went up to one of the taxi drivers who was standing on the sidewalk smoking and asked him what the letters meant. Any guesses?
    It's the day of the week that the taxi is not in service. So, if you see one parked on the side of the street with a "V" (viernes) and it's Friday, you know the taxi is not in service. After the man told me this, it actually rung a bell—I'm pretty sure Gregorio has told me this fact before and I'd forgotten. The man was very nice about it, found it amusing that I asked, and was happy to feed my curiosity. Anyway, I wanted to illustrate that by highlighting and deciding the directions I want to move towards via my personal compass, it is resulting in changes in my actions, however small they may be.
  • Meditate: January was much more sporadic than December; below is a screenshot of January in Calm. 

(A screenshot which, by the way, I'm lucky to have gotten at all. As of early January my power button stopped working on my poor old iPhone 4—as in, it is basically stuck down, no spring—yet that's one of the two buttons you must press for a screenshot. Got it on the second try this time! But I'll certainly be on the hunt for a used phone in the states come May, maybe an iPhone 5...)

February Focus

1. Leap
  • 5 in 5 Connection Challenge with 10 people
  • Contact five schools about using Alexandra Franzen's "Email Is Wonderful" PDF. (<<< Speaking of, have I mentioned yet how happy I am that this lady has come into my life? Her philosophy and writing is such a match with my life outlook! So inspirational and uplifting.)

2. Stretch/yoga/pilates
  • Make stretching tracker in bullet journal
  • Stretch/pilates 5x/week

3. Unplug/be outside
  • 50% online time - reference and learning
  • Make meditation tracker in bullet journal
  • Read >30 min. daily

How are you coming on your resolutions? What's one thing you can do in February that will get you closer to where you want to be?
• • •

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Contemplation on a Debit Card Transaction

The other day I had a little start while going through my recent credit and debit card transactions to make sure all was up to date on YNAB.

Context: I only use my two debit cards (Charles Schwab Investor and Capital One 360) for cash withdrawal, because they have no foreign transaction fees. I use my Capital One Venture credit card—as one would a debit card—for all other purchases, as it also has no foreign transaction fees (+ its points pay for free travel every couple of years). Point being that my debit cards haven't been used since I last took cash out in France/Spain this fall.

So when I saw a $10.44 charge dated January 1 on my debit card for a bar in town, I was really confused.

I wasn't even here on January 1, I was two and a half hours north with family.

Plus, I'd never used this debit card at that bar, because I only use my credit card for purchases.

I immediately disputed the transaction online—but man, what a mystery.

• • •

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Impermanence of Words

I've been thinking a lot lately about the impermanence of words.

When I was in sixth grade, we had to make a poetry collection in language arts.

For a little age context, here was the cover of my binder:

(This was right around the time when cell phones were coming out, and Verizon had that "free at last!" commercial.)

Take a look at one poem in this collection, "Tangled Feelings":

• • •

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sunday evening flag patch sewing project

After I ordered my backpack last summer (goodbye Jansport from college!), I thought it would be cool to display on it flag patches of the countries where I've lived. Conversation starters are always helpful!

But I didn't want them sewn permanently on the backpack; there are places and times where you don't want to stand out as a traveler.

My parents got me the patches for Christmas (thanks mom and dad!) and I had some scrap fabric lying around from a project years ago (St. Vinnies $1 fabric). I'd wanted a solid color fabric, but you use what you have, right?

• • •

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Facebook-free: Liz Pelton

Facebook-free Project - Liz Pelton

My recent reconnection with Emily quickly turned into another beautiful high school reconnection with Liz Pelton—who also happens to be Facebook-free. Liz left Facebook a year before I did, meaning she's been facebookless for three years, and I'm really excited to add her perspective to this project! Take it away, Liz:

The basics:

Age: 27

Location: Madison, WI

Interests: Traveling, yoga, cooking, weaving, reading, writing, hiking with my absurdly adorable beagle Ramona

Length of time with Facebook account: 7 years

Amount of time since leaving Facebook: Almost 3 years
• • •

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Stuck in Bed, but Letting Go

I've been sick in bed since Thursday, which makes today the fifth day here.

I cringe at what a waste these days seem—no reading, no meditating, no stretching, no writing—but my body needs these days to heal.

I cancelled four various plans over the weekend—two dinners with different groups, which had been planned over a month out to be sure we'd see each other before I left the country again; a day helping grandma take down Christmas decorations; and a Skype call with a new online friend.

It was frustrating to watch it all slip away in a snap, but there was no other option. I then had to let go and accept what was, instead of holding on to what was supposed to be.

My biggest worry in the thick of it was that my cold would turn into an ear infection, which often happens with me (the most recent being July). I'm not afraid of the potential pain, but more so of the fact that I'm currently uninsured in the USA. (Kind of a long story.) Fingers are still crossed that my ears will remain unharmed. (I'm really pushing the ginger, Cathleen—thank you.)

Also as of Thursday, I've been without phone service. Chatting with my company online told me it's either the phone or the sim, I would need to take it into a store to find out which. If it's a problem with the sim, they told me, then I'd have to buy a new one. (What?!) And if it's a problem with the phone... yeah. So with only two weeks left here, I'll probably just continue without any service. That also means I probably won't drive anywhere, because driving in the winter in Wisconsin without a phone is not a smart move.

But among all of these frustrations, I let the gratitude seep in.

Grateful to be sick with a warm roof over my head, soup in the cupboards, and parents who bought ginger and lemons for me at the grocery store.

Grateful that I'd had any plans with friends in the first place.

Grateful to still participate—albeit a day late, from bed—in Candace Rose Rardon's Moment Catcher's Project (first Saturday of each month).

In times of stress or frustration, it always helps me to take a step back and turn my attention to gratitude.
• • •

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Homemade Postcard Binder Book

In 2009 I read this entertaining Everywhereist post (which I just fished up now—super impressed with my memory there) about what to do if you lose/break your camera while traveling. Camera or not, I really loved Geraldine's second piece of advice: to buy a postcard, write memories from the day, and then mail it to yourself as a memorable souvenir. I often send postcards when traveling, but after reading that post I started to buy a postcard for myself as well.

I'd write a quick day's summary on the back, date it, but then keep it. Over the years I've collected many little postcard bags of these self-postcards, stored in various places in my room at my parents' house.

At some point (last year?) I got the idea to make some sort of book with them. But I wanted this to be a simple project—nothing time consuming. Slipping the postcards into sleeves from a photo book/binder would be easy, but I wanted both sides of each postcard to be viewable. I like things in chronological order, and also didn't want to have to rearrange everything if I later found a postcard from an earlier time.

And then the idea came: Binder rings!

The project got added to my "do while home" list for this fall/winter, and now that I have less than three weeks (ahh!) before I take off again, I'm feeling the pressure to finish several projects I won't be able to do on the road.

So I did this one today while listening to a few episodes of Meg's awesome Couragemakers podcast. Here's what I started with: six binder rings that my mom already had, and five years of postcards.

• • •

Monday, January 2, 2017