August was another busy month for me – surprise! surprise!🤷♀️ I have not been journaling or habit tracking, which I think contributed towards my $hit mood. Normally, I wouldn’t even bother writing a blog post but I promised myself that I would post at least 1-2 blog posts per month and my calendar indicates that I haven’t posted anything for the month of August. I don’t know if you checked your calendar lately, but it is almost the end of August. The older I get, the faster time seems to disappear. As some of you may know, I turned the big 30 on August 4, 2021 and I am not gonna lie – I am not thrilled about being on the other side of 13 going on 30.
I spent my 30th birthday at my parents’ house and brought the husband, Rebecca, and Baby Aaron with me. My mom surprised me with a beautiful cake from a charming bakery called Bellissima. It turns out that you can have your cake and eat it too. We had the lemon buttercream cake which exceeded everyone’s expectations. This cake is hands-down, the best buttercream cake that I have ever tasted, and the macarons were heavenly! I highly recommend checking out this bakery the next time you are in Waterloo, ON! 🙂
Most people would be eager to brag write about what they did on their birthday and one would think that I am excited to share with you all of the deets. What I am giving you here is a brief synopsis of a couple of highlights, at most. Admittedly, I feel somewhat anhedonic towards a lot of things, and I am not sure what is causing me to feel this way. Currently, my life feels like one big blur, where the days bleed into one another and the nights are far from peaceful. My mind is its own worst enemy so the last thing I want is to be alone with my thoughts. It’s counter-intuitive really, because the best way to handle depression and/or anhedonia is to spend time along with your thoughts, basking in your stillness, and simply “being.”
A Trip Down Memory Lane
When I spent the weekend at my parents’ house, I was able to address an aching pain that’s been burning in my heart for the past decade 💔 Sadly, I learned that I still had no desire to try and patch broken friendships from my teenage years. A part of me was scared and anxious, but truth be told, I would have probably made an effort to reach out to them if I still cared. The idea of “let’s do coffee” seemed too awkward, and deep down, I knew that I wasn’t ready to take a trip down memory lane. I thought I was ready, but instead I chose to take the road of least resistance and binge-watched Season 3 of Desperate Housewives. 🤫
Now that I are back from our mini-vacation, most of my time is spent working, sleeping, doing chores, and taking care of the kiddos. Perhaps I am stuck in a rut or maybe this is the beginning of a #Milleniallifecrisis. In fact, over these past few years, I have slowed my life down by 50% and cut out 50% of the things that I used to do. Most of the time, we are too busy chasing our tails trying to find the next shiny thing rather than slowing the f*** down. So tell me, when was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses? 🌹🥀
▶ Want to know what makes me happy? Sunflowers 🌻🌻
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS
Flowers really do cheer me up, especially when I’m feeling like $hit. I’m curious to know if flowers cheer you up as well. If you like flowers too, what is your favorite flower? Please leave a comment by joining the conversation below 🠓 I am working this weekend and will try my best to respond to your comments. And if it takes me a while to reply to you, please be patient with me!
“I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment. And that is all I can expect of anyone, including me.”
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ 1000 Followers! Thank you so much for following this blog! ♥
This was one of my long-term goals which I was hoping to reach by Spring 2021. I can happily say that I reached this goal on July 24, 2021 which is good considering that I seldom post new content on this blog. My only concern about keeping a free blog domain is that I may lose all of these stats if I were to switch to a paid domain. Knowing that I am not committed enough to post on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, I should probably stick to this free domain for now. I hope that you will continue to join me on my blogging journey when the inevitable happens, because one day I will have no choice but to upgrade and buy a domain.
Honestly, I did not expect to gain 1000 wonderful followers, and yet, here we are. I still believe that this blog has a lot of potential and I am already envisioning it reaching 2,000 followers. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, for spreading the love and helping to keep this blog alive! ❤
The No. 1 Mistake that Bloggers Make
My No. 1 tip when it comes to gaining followers is to actively engage with the people who bring traffic to your blog. And by this, I mean responding to the comments that you receive, as well as visiting their blogs in return. Without engaging with your readers, you will have to outwork the algorithm by spamming the WP reader and annoying your followers. Please don’t be that person. Without comments from your followers, your blog is practically dead space in the blogging sphere. And I think that is a waste of your precious time and energy. At the end of the day, followers help keep your blog alive, and your blog is nothing without loyal followers. I know this sounds harsh but it is the truth. Somebody needs to say it, so it might as well be me. I do not expect everyone to agree with me, nor do I want everyone to agree with me. All that I ask is that bloggers are kind to one another and understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion. Not everyone thinks the same way as you do, so I stress the importance of keeping an open mind. I also stress the importance of supporting other bloggers, because it is not all about you.
You should be allowed to leave a comment without worrying about being blocked for having a different opinion. You should be allowed to have intellectual conversations without questioning it. You should be allowed to give another blogger constructive criticism/advice without getting snarky, rude replies in exchange. I shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but I feel like I am stepping on eggshells with some bloggers. Even though I still follow some of these bloggers after having some nasty encounters with them, I stopped engaging with them on their blogs. I stopped liking and commenting on their blog posts. And that is something that they should be worried about. They basically lost future business with me, and any entrepreneur would tell you not to make enemies with potential customers.
If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all!
Another Mistake That Bloggers Make
My No. 2 tip is not to anger your faithful readers and followers by pushing them away. Remember, the spammy genuine comments is the main reason why your blog is alive and well. Like a healthy garden, you need to water it often and trim the weeds 🌱 Also, you need to be able to regulate your emotions so you don’t piss off the blogging community and ultimately drive your loyal followers away. Personally, I love having healthy debates with people who are able to keep things mutual and respectful. Not everyone is going to agree with everything I say, nor should they. I am happy that people feel comfortable commenting in the comments section below 🠓, and that everyone feels welcome here. I am really grateful for the 1000 wonderful followers who chose to follow this blog! 🌻🌻
Ever since we moved into our new house, we have been in the process of making this place feel like home. The previous owners did a great job renovating the place, which won my heart since the minute I stepped through the front door. Each room was pleasantly inviting and tastefully decorated.
Since the day we moved in, I have been trying to re-create that same feeling. It is incredible how a seemingly large, empty room looks so spacious when nothing is occupying that space vs. having a house full of crap stuff. So this begs the question: how do we keep our new house organized and my stress levels in check?
Home Sweet Home
Cleaning has always been a challenge for me and I feel like I have ADHD when it comes to cleaning and organizing, because I have such a hard time focusing on any given task. I never understood people who actually enjoy taking part in cleaning rituals or people who have picture-perfect homes, like the previous house owners. Since moving last month, I have unintentionally manifested secret junk drawers. They appear out of nowhere and the universe seems to think that I need them in my life.
Personally, I do not think that my family will ever learn how to keep a house tidy like Marie Kondo, or learn to love cleaning/organizing despite our best efforts. My fantasy self would suggest otherwise. My fantasy self adheres to a list of rules that will change your life, such as the one I am going to share with you below ↓ Take my list with a grain of salt, since I have yet to figure out how this list has made any lasting impact in my personal life. I’ll go on these cleaning sprees until I burn myself out, only to relapse and become mentally lazy.
Disclaimer: I created this list from a bunch of different sources and kept it on my phone, untouched for years. And like any organizational expert such my fantasy self would tell you, one also needs to focus on removing digital clutter. Therefore, I am releasing it into the universe so that I can finally delete it from my phone, once and for all. Welcome to my little corner of the internet! 👼
Does This List Really Work? 🤷♀️
(✿◠‿◠)っ Why don’t you try it for yourself and let me know if it works!
1. Make your bed every day. 2. Put toys in a designated spot; use a storage system if that is an option. 3. Garbage belongs in the garbage. 4. Remove the dishwasher after wash cycle is complete. Load the dishwasher as you go and clean the counter top when you are finished cooking. Aim for #sink-zero every night. 5. Keep the bathroom countertop clutter free if possible. Wipe down with antibacterial wipes. Wipe the toilet and scrub the toilet. 6. Do one load of laundry every day. (2-3 times per week for us) 7. Keep kitchen countertop clutter free. Spray antibacterial in the sink. 8. Vacuuming the floor and heavy duty areas (kitchen and dining areas) once every day. Keep the floor clutter free and remove clutter as you go. 9. Shoe organization. Get some cheap storage baskets with a nice lining and/or a shoe rack! 10. Take care of the mail as soon as it enters the house.
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥
Since moving into our new house, I am still in the process of de-cluttering a lot of rooms. I have seen other bloggers post before and after photos which is a nice idea, but my after photos look just like my before photos. A preschooler does an excellent job of re-crapifying every nook and cranny. As I dig deeper into my strong desire to keep my home clutter-free, I am learning more about myself in the process. It took me years to finally realize that clutter heightens my already high anxiety levels. When I eventually figure out how to de-crapify my habitat once and for all, I will be the first one to write a ground-breaking blog post about it.
May was another busy month for me. I ditched my daily habit tracker which I now realize was a mistake. That journal thing was useful and I was actually crushing big goals when I was using it consistently. My life is a mess without any kind of schedule or normality. Everything in my life is different now – new home, new baby, new location (sort of….) bigger family (totally not used to a family of 4!), and new plans. Some readers even asked about my disappearance on WP and if I was okay – your concerns really touched me. Thank you! 💕 I just wish that there was more time to write/blog.
Re-grounding Myself Again 🌱
I also wanted to update you on my whereabouts. Up until the beginning of June, I was temporarily working full-time from home. We were also in the process of packing and moving to a new home. On May 20, 2021, I went to my appointment as planned, only to find myself in the L&D triage unit at the hospital later that day. I had abnormally high blood pressure a.k.a. gestational hypertension + fluid retention, so they wanted to rule out some things, like preeclampsia. I am grateful for the knowledge I gained from nursing school because I knew what signs and symptoms to monitor throughout this pregnancy. That being said, I became concerned during the final weeks of pregnancy when my BP remained consistently high, which is abnormal for someone who typically has low blood pressure. Ultimately, childbirth was the best solution to quickly alleviate my gestational hypertension.
On May 21, 2021 at 4:48am, Baby Aaron was born weighing 7lbs 1oz, and measuring 20.5 inches. He had some mild jaundice (more medical jargon, see photos below ↓) but the jaundice went away on its own and he didn’t need blue-light therapy. Most of this pregnancy was fairly straight-forward and uncomplicated up until the very end, the delivery went smoothly despite dreading childbirth the most, and Aaron is a healthy baby boy. His big sister welcomed him with open arms! ❤
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ FINAL THOUGHTS ♥
I am keeping this blog post short and sweet because honestly, I am not in the mood to write today. I am trying to write a blog post in the presence of others and the words aren’t flowing the way I would like them to – and good writing cannot be forced. I haven’t even touched my personal laptop in weeks which I mostly use for WordPress, but I consider it rude to spend hours blogging when we have company over. Also, my phone needs a major upgrade which I don’t see happening any time soon (it barely holds a charge), so I haven’t felt motivated to brainstorm blog post ideas, write rough drafts on my phone, or capture life’s precious moments. Perhaps it is time to revisit that habit tracker journal yet again, before I become a lazy potato.
An April 2021 recap blog post did not happen last month and I can explain. My [temporary] work schedule is crazy busy during the months of May and June as I am currently working 5-6 days/week until further notice. I say “temporary” because I do not know how long this pandemic will last, and the duration and severity of this pandemic greatly influences whether or not I get shifts. Although I am fortunate to be working these days, on my days off, I am often too exhausted to write a blog post, let alone do deep introspection which is necessary in order to craft a blog post that’s worth reading. And that’s the truth.
April Reflections ✨
Looking back on the goals that I made for March 2021, I noticed that my goals pretty much stayed the same throughout the month of April 2021. I believe that it is good to stay focused on a few big goals rather than flip-flop between a bunch of small ones. I call people who jump from thing to thing dabblers, which is something that I am trying to avoid, personally. How can anyone get good at something if they keep flip-flopping between things or take up too many hobbies? My advice is to stick to 1-2 hobbies and get good at them. No, you do not need a YouTube channel, a Podcast channel, 10 different social media accounts, and a small business in order to be successful, unless that’s how you truly want to waste spend your time. It is important to get very clear about what you want and make a plan, and my goals are loosely based on S.M.A.R.T. goals. I suggest that you do the same, but that’s my opinion.
How My Life is Changing
Reflecting on the months of April and May (so far), here are the goals that I managed to accomplish along with the goals that stayed the same since March:
Continue picking up more shifts if it fits my schedule As previously mentioned, I am not working at the hospital these days. Right now, I am working from home and my schedule is full-time due to increased employment opportunities. However, I have received some criticism from people regarding my work schedule (as if it is their business), saying that I should be taking maternity leave or time off to “relax”. Just because I am 37 weeks pregnant does not mean that I am incapable of working, nor am I entirely useless. Also, one should not assume that I qualify for maternity leave, because I don’t actually qualify for it. I only started working in February 2021 and thus, I have not accumulated enough hours. That being said, my husband qualifies for paternity leave.
Completed UWorld and Wrote the NCLEX-RN! As mentioned in a previous blog post, I wrote the NCLEX-RN on April 26, 2021. It was definitely the most challenging exam that I have ever written and I am super relieved that I passed in 110 questions! A few days later, I got my RN permit so I am very happy about that too! Even though I am too pregnant to be on my feet these days, I am excited to see what the future holds career/profession-wise. 👩⚕️
Publish 1-2 blog posts per month Let’s face it: I am still writing the bare minimum right now. I am not sure if I will be uploading more blog posts during the month of May. My schedule is busy and I have no time for blogging as a result. Like I mentioned earlier, blogging is not my priority right now even though I enjoy this hobby a lot. Connecting with other bloggers gives me a reason to log into WP every day, even though I am not actively posting new content.
Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments I am getting annoyed that some people are reiterating the same stuff that I mentioned in my previous blog post whenever I try commenting on a pregnancy forum which I won’t mention here. I am well aware that I might have iron deficiency anemia and I got my bloodwork done last week. I am currently waiting for the results and will find out if I am anemic on May 12, 2021. We still need to find a baby doctor which is hard considering that we are moving to the opposite end of the city at the end of the month. I know that I am running out of time, and I am not entirely sure who to turn to for advice regarding baby doctors. Finally, I got my COVID-19 vaccination (1st dose) last week! In Canada, we have to wait 12-16 weeks before receiving the second dose which is dumb in my opinion. With increased wait times between doses, how is the vaccine supposed to be effective?
I am going to be truthful and real here. I am not exaggerating when I say that these past few weeks have been rough health-wise. 3rd trimester sucks and I really have no other way to describe the aches and pains that I am dealing with as I near the end of this 9-month journey. As I write this, I can barely stay awake. I hardly sleep these days and get poor sleep if I manage to sleep at all. My body aches, both physically and mentally. Overall, these spontaneous growing pains make me feel blah which I think is normal considering that I felt the same way with my daughter. A lot of people like to glamorize pregnancy but there are a lot of unglamorous things about it too. And that’s the truth.
My husband and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary on May 7, 2021 ♥
We had cake on our anniversary and cake again on Mother’s Day. You can never have too much cake! 🍰
Baby boy is due any day now, and I hope he arrives sooner than later. I am so uncomfortable and hotel uterus is ready for eviction.
I am learning that I am much more capable than I give myself credit for 😇
My life goals are probably a lot different than yours, and that is okay. We are all on different journeys. One should not compare their journey to someone else’s journey.
COVID-19 is still really bad in my province (currently dealing with a 3rd wave), but we will get through this. On the bright side, the pandemic has given me shifts and I want to think that I am helping humanity with the work that I am pursuing. I want to think that I am contributing to something much bigger than myself. We really are all in this together! 😷
You might be thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” The title of this blog post will make sense in a moment. And no, I am not talking the illicit drug known as “ice”. I am literally talking about frozen water such as ice cubes, crushed ice etc. and weird pregnancy cravings. This is a vulnerable post so I encourage you to read the whole blog post before jumping to conclusions. Btw, all images are my own and any advice I share here is based on personal experiences. And just to be clear, I am not a medical doctor nor am I here to give medical advice.
Some Quick Life Updates
I have been busy this month studying for the NCLEX, so I don’t have a list of goals to follow except for the ones that were carried over from March 2021. I really need to pass this exam, and it is has been stressing me out because I still don’t feel prepared. To be honest, I don’t think that I will ever truly feel prepared for this exam. Also, I was working up until this past weekend, and had to decline another shift because it is getting increasingly more difficult for me to work; right now I am 34 weeks pregnant and feel totally useless. I picked up one CDC shift this week which is a work-from-home job, and I feel guilty for not picking up additional shifts right now. There is only so much that I can do these days without losing my sanity 🙄 In the meantime, my cravings for crushed ice are very intense. I crave ice more than I crave MCDs coffee and bubble tea.
Most of you probably enjoy munching on the ice at the bottom of your glass on a hot summer day, and it is quite normal to enjoy the occasional ice cube from time to time. But is it normal to crave ice every day, regardless of season? I have what is known as “Pica” which is defined as:
Pica – craving and chewing substances that have no nutritional value – such as ice, clay, soil, or paper. Craving and chewing ice is often associated with iron deficiency, with or without anemia, although the reason is unclear.– Mayo Clinic
For most people with pica, it is usually due to a deficiency and goes away once the deficiency is corrected. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved ice from 1st trimester up until I gave birth. We did not have access to the best health care services in Saskatchewan, so my anemia was easily overlooked. Apparently, I was severely anemic and nobody caught onto this, including myself. After I had my daughter, my ice cravings went away soon after. I think that pagophagia, that is, cravings for ice, are highly correlated with low iron levels during pregnancy. Now that I am wiser and have better access to healthcare where I currently live, I am suspicious that my iron levels might be dropping again, so I will be getting another blood test in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, I plan to start taking an iron supplement.
Symptoms Related to Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA)
I am going to share with you some of the symptoms that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Women in their child-bearing years are highly susceptible to Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA). You might have IDA and not even know it, since other health conditions can cause these symptoms as well. One particular thing that screams iron deficiency for me is pagophagia (cravings for ice) which is based solely on my personal experiences. Please speak to your doctor if you think that you may be deficient in iron or have similar symptoms as I do. I am not going to go into detail about the pathophysiology, pharmacology, and biological pathways related to IDA. If you are interested in that stuff, feel free to check out this link for more information.
My Iron Deficiency Symptoms:
Pica: Cravings for ice, dirt, clay etc.Has anyone watched My Strange Addiction? It is a rather disturbing show and yet I watched all of the episodes I could find on YouTube 😂 I am convinced that several of these people have Pica. Personally, I don’t think cravings for ice is that bad except that it is terrible for tooth enamel, but overall, I don’t think that my addiction to ice is hurting anyone. I know that every addict says that, but it’s just frozen water, people. It is not like I am eating paint chips or chalk. Personally, I prefer soft ice over hard ice (yes, there is a difference!). If you suddenly develop cravings for non-food items, please don’t ignore this red flag and speak to your doctor. I am not here to glamorize Pica – it is abnormal.
Extreme fatigue and lack of energyLike I said before, other conditions can mask iron deficiency anemia (IDA). From personal experience, I know that 3rd trimester is exhausting, and perhaps my lack of energy and feeling like I am going to pass out are linked to that. However, fatigue and overall lack of energy are also related to low iron levels.
Breathlessness with light exercisePerhaps this is related to pregnancy, as I am extremely exhausted climbing stairs these days. I can barely walk to the mailbox down the street without feeling totally exhausted. Even getting ready for work was a daunting task that I dreaded, and it is a miracle that I can even managed to get through the day without feeling like I was going to collapse any second. Other people have even pointed out that I look tired. Extreme exhaustion is not normal and should be discussed with your doctor if you are experiencing similar symptoms.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Since 1st trimester, I have been getting the worst leg and foot cramps at night. On average, I get anywhere from 2-6 leg cramps, including Charlie Horses, in a single night. I also get horrible itching at night, so I often need to resort to an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-allergy medication, which doesn’t always relieve the itching. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had similar itching so I know this is probably a pregnancy thing. But is it really a pregnancy thing, or an iron deficiency thing? 🤔 I already discussed this with my doctor and was told to increase my magnesium intake. The dose that she recommended for me is quite high so I am going to try a magnesium gel to help calm my restless legs at night. Apparently, gels and sprays are much more absorbent then magnesium gummies. If you are curious to know where I order most of my melatonin and magnesium products from, I use a Canadian site called www.naturalcalm.ca. Even though they only ship within Canada, I have seen some of their products in US stores.
Are you experiencing similar symptoms? Do you have weird cravings for things like ice? If yes, then I would highly recommend getting your iron levels checked. Sometimes, relying on food sources that are high in iron is just not enough, especially if you are also expecting 🤰 If you are struggling with pica or any of the symptoms I listed above, I want you to know that there is hope. Feel free to join the comments section below ↓ if you can relate to these struggles or deal with a deficiency. It helps knowing that I am not alone ♥ I will do my best to reply to your comments!
I wanted to upload a new blog post highlighting my goals for the month of March but I was working yesterday evening. And earlier this week, I was too exhausted to do anything productive. I am a very last-minute person when it comes to blogging because it is not my top priority these days, so consequently, my blog posts tend to be a bit late. As of late, WP has changed the settings yet again so I am not very eager to use the WP editor. A blogger suggested that I write my rough drafts elsewhere so I am trying Microsoft Word now. If this works, you might be seeing more blog posts from me in the future.
Although March started off slowly, I did end up picking up more shifts mid-March. In terms of the habit-tracker, I stopped using it because I find that a basic list is fine for my needs. I have simplified my life so much that nothing is overly complicated anymore. Furthermore, I believe that much of our anxiety and depression stems from having overly-complicated schedules and lifestyles. Don’t get me wrong – I still get anxiety and depression, but it’s manageable despite doing things that are still anxiety-provoking. I also pride myself for living medication-free and am living proof that one can work through their problems using a holistic approach.
Learning to Let Go 🧘♀️🌱
I feel less guilty declining shift offers as long as I do not have to interact with people. Much of my shift offers are done through texting/email which I am totally fine with. I ended up picking up extra shifts this month and my once-barren schedule for March quickly became a colorful mosaic. I am the type who feels like it is my obligation help out wherever I can, while forgetting that I have other things to do like studying for an upcoming NCLEX exam that continues to nip at my ankles. Reflecting on the March of March, here are the goals that I managed to accomplish:
MARCH GOALS 2021
Continue picking up more shifts if it fits my schedule I managed to pick up a few extra shifts during the month of March and I am proud of myself for doing this. Let’s not forget that I am a newbie and stepping outside of my comfort zone makes me feel uncomfortable. I will admit that I often cry before shifts because I am terrified of the unknown. My dad used to tell me that I wasn’t making progress because my comfort zone only stemmed from my study desk to the garbage can in my room. And he was right. A person will not make much progress if they are unwilling to step outside of their bedroom, unless they are a full time blogger of course. As a teenager, I hardly left my room and my parents’ friends knew me as the girl who hibernated in her room and lived in her pajamas. To this day, I still live in my pajamas but I have made a lot of progress since then.
If shifts become available for second job, try to bid on them I ended up getting 3 shifts for my side-hustle job which was surprising. I did not have much luck bidding on shifts this week but that’s okay. You win some, you lose some. I predict that there will be a dry spell in April 2021 so I am not going to get my hopes up too much. Also, I might lose this job entirely once my job title changes (long story). Any extra shifts I am able to get during the month of April will be a bonus and definitely not something that I feel entitled to have.
Complete 1-2% of UWorld each day ➡ Test date is April 26, 2021 Yikes. I do not feel ready to write this exam and will probably never feel fully prepared. It is very exhausting juggling this pregnancy with a busy work schedule, and I hardly find the time to study these days. I am currently 86% done the QBank which I am proud of but I am still terrified of writing the NCLEX. I really need to pass this exam because my future depends on it #no-pressure
Finish writing the 3-6 month learning plan I submitted the learning plan but I still question how I am going to complete everything on the list. It is stuff like this that keeps me up at night. My learning plan is ambitious so I am really hoping that I will be able to finish it on time. I continue to try my best at work, but is “my best” really enough? I always feel like I could be doing more and never seem to feel satisfied with things.
Publish 1-2 blog posts per month Let’s face it: I am writing the bare minimum right now. I am not sure if I will be uploading a goals-related blog post for April yet. Like I mentioned earlier, blogging is not my priority right now but I do find that these posts help keep me accountable for my actions. Also, I do not want to become complacent with my writing which is the main reason why I continue to blog.
Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments I went to all of my doctor’s appointments this month. However, I need to schedule a few more appointments which I plan to do during the months of April and May. I am still on the edge as to whether or not I should get the COVID-19 vaccine now or after I give birth. I am eligible to sign up for a vaccine now, so I am seriously considering it. There are a lot of appointments to keep track of so I recommend using a basic planner to keep track of everything, such as these ones:
Send some Easter snail mail I sent a bunch of mail to those who gave me their current addresses, but I have mixed feelings about continuing this craft. I love sending snail mail but I seldom get mail in return. Not only that, but half of the time, pen pals do not let me know if they received their mail so I often wonder if the mail got lost or something. Lack of communication drives me crazy and I try to practice what I preach. I try to let people know via email or text message when I have received their mail. Seriously, how difficult is that? 🙄
Continue tracking monthly spending I am really proud of this one, since I only spent $170.15 on myself during the month of March. My credit card bill was low because I cut out so many unnecessary expenses (except my monthly phone bill) and kept myself busy. I continue to shop at Dollarama but I go there once a week and spend ~$20-30 per trip. Did I mention that I still have money left over on that Tim Hortons gift card that I earned from Swagbucks back in January? I decided to finally use up the gift card by splurging on some treats for the family. It is hard to believe that $25 lasted me 1.5 months! With the Tims Rewards, Roll Up the Rim (RUTR), and hockey promotion thing, I managed to score some bonus drinks too! 🙌
My only “health goal” was to stay healthy 😷 I am doing everything I can to keep myself and my family healthy, especially since I am exposed to potential pathogens at my workplace. Currently, I am craving crushed ice really badly which is a sign of iron deficiency. It is called Pica and I had cravings for ice chips when I was pregnant with my daughter as well. It turns out that I was severely anemic last time. I am not too worried this time because my cravings did not start until 3rd trimester where iron deficiencies are quite common; therefore, I am trying to eat things rich in iron. If anyone happens to know any recipes that are loaded with iron, please let me know in the comments section below ↓ In the meantime, I will continue chomping in my ice chips 😋
P.S. A while ago, I uploaded a Virgin Pina Colada recipe on my blog. I can assure you that all of my drinks are non-alcoholic. My current obsession are Virgin Lime Margaritas. My takeaway is that you can still enjoy these fancy drinks even when you are pregnant. Non-alcoholic drinks do not have to be “boring.” Another reason why I like these drinks is because #crushed-ice. It’s so refreshing! 🥥🍍
February was a busy month for me. Although I have been using a daily and monthly habit tracker to keep track of my goals, it did not dawn on me to write a goals-related or monthly recap blog post. Now that we are well into the month of March, I am going to skip February altogether. I won’t bore you with a February recap, and March is pretty much a continuation of February. Overall, my goals have not changed that much within the span of a month.
March started off slowly as I did not have anything scheduled near beginning of the month. As the month progressed, my schedule got busier and I found myself with very little time to sit down, gather my thoughts, and write a semi-decent blog post that I was passionate about. Today, I feel like I do not have time to craft a blog post; however, anxiety is at an all-time high for me. Therefore, I feel like writing this blog post is not optional at this point. Right now, I am feeling very stressed with everything that is happening in my life, especially when trying to find work-life balance. I am grateful for the casual hours but I am still dealing with anxiety and feelings of inadequacy, nonetheless.
Re-grounding Myself 🌱
Today, I had to decline a shift offer which was incredibly difficult for me since I am a people pleaser. To make matters worse, I kept replaying the phone call in my head over and over again. This particular event has been on my mind all day which has hindered me from getting any productive work done. During times like these, I need to remember to re-ground myself and focus on the list so I can get out of my own head. I will show you my list for the month of March. My daily lists are very similar except that daily lists include mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning. So what does my list for the month of March look like? Here, let me show you:
March Goals 2021
Continue picking up more shifts if it fits my schedule
If shifts become available for second job, try to bid on them
Complete 1-2% of UWorld each day ➡ Test date is April 26, 2021
Finish writing the 3-6 month learning plan
Publish 1-2 blog posts per month
Keep tabs on doctor’s appointments/pending appointments
Send some Easter snail mail ✔
Continue tracking monthly spending
Don’t get me started on my health goals. My goal to make water my beverage of choice went out the window because I crave icy, sugary drinks these days. I am not watching my weight right now nor am I counting calories. I am not overweight so I am not concerned, but the amount of sugar I am consuming is a bit alarming. In happier news, I passed the glucose tolerance test (GTT) last month so I do not have gestational diabetes. My bloodwork also came back normal so I’m happy about that! It is hard to believe that I am in 3rd trimester already ❤ Grow baby, grow! ❤
I choose to believe that the quote by Roy T. Bennett is true. I have seen growth in my personal life because I continued to focus on my goals every day, regardless of how mundane they were. There will always be good days and bad days, and as long as you keep watering your plants everyday, you will be successful in life. I am curious to know if you use a daily or monthly habit tracker. Have you had success with your habit tracker? Are you building your dreams and chasing your life purpose? I am curious to know in the comments section below ↓
If you need a refresher, please go read No Spend Challenge | I Messed Up. Setting ambitious goals is one thing, but persevering despite a less-than-perfect month takes even more self-praise, motivation, and commitment. In total, I had 7 days where I “accidentally” bought non-essential items. Nothing is truly accidental because we are ultimately responsible for everything we do, including yearly subscriptions that we may have forgotten about 🤦♀️
Below is the PDF sheetthat I printed off and taped to my wall formonth of January. Whenever I had a good day, I got a sticker. I know it sounds silly but it keeps me motivated since I like to keep the positive streak going. I am also keeping a tally at the bottom of the sheet which indicates the number of days that I cheated or unintentionally spent money. I am aware that January has 31 days and felt that it was only fair to include that extra day in the challenge.
Perfectionism Was Not The Goal
I received lots of feedback from my readers throughout the month of January, and your comments meant a lot to me – thank you so much! ❤ I couldn’t help but notice that several of you a) agreed with me or praised me for attempting such a challenge or b) were appalled that someone like me screwed up the No Spend Challenge or c) questioned this challenge with much skepticism. To clarify, I am human too and make mistakes just like everyone else. God might be a woman according to Ariana Grande, but last time I checked, I was an imperfect human being and still am to this day. Remember, perfectionism was not the point of this challenge. In fact, perfectionism can be quite damaging to one’s mental health and probably contributes a great deal towards neuroses.
Setting Personal Goals
Sure, I could have chosen to lie about my spending habits, but that would have defeated the purpose of this challenge 🙅♀️ Although the No Spend Challenge was annoying and inconvenient at times, it made me more mindful of my spending habits and helped me develop a better relationship with money and unnecessary purchases. Rather than go cold turkey during the month of February, I have decided to continue tracking my spending using a planner. I also realize that banning myself from places like Dollarama did not save me money in the long-run. Therefore, I am limiting myself to one Dollarama shopping trip per week with a budget of $20-30 since I also shop for the family. Honestly, this challenge helped heighten my awareness, and I am even more mindful about my spending habits these days. I learned that I do not need to deprive myself of the simple pleasures in life, as long as I continue to live an honest and intentional life 🌺
A Small Victory!
I accumulated $50 worth of Tim Hortons gift cards from Swagbucks, which helped me survive the month of January 2021. My husband decided to join Swagbucks using my referral link, after seeing that I was able to redeem $100 worth of e-gift cards in 2020! Because my husband joined and earned 300 swagbucks (SB) within 30 days of joining, we each received a $3 rebate bonus. In conclusion, Swagbucks is legit and rewards people for shopping online, submitting receipts, completing surveys, playing games, and completing daily tasks (they’re easy). You won’t get rich from Swagbucks but you will be rewarded for your efforts.
A shoutout goes to Nicholas Tan (my husband) for supporting me! Thank you for the delicious Steeped Tea(s)! 😊💕
If you sign up using my referral link and start earning SB, you will be helping me out A LOT. For every 10 SB you earn, I will be earning 1 SB which adds up over time. Also, if you acquire 300 SB within your first 30 days of signing up, you will receive a 300 SB ($3.00) welcome bonus on top of the $3.00 that you have already earned. As a thank you for earning SB to help support my steeped tea addiction, I will give you a shoutout in a future blog post (your blog link included) as my way of saying thank you. That way, other bloggers can find and follow your blog too! ❤
Are you one of those people who could use a self-care day to recharge? Me! Pick me! 🙋♀️ If you happen to fit into one of the two categories below, then you would probably benefit from a self-care day. Personally, I fit into both categories depending on where I stand in my work and personal life. When I am unemployed, I learn more towards #2 and when I am employed or taking courses, I learn more towards #1. Not to mention that we are also dealing with a freaking pandemic, which has taken a toll on people’s mental health.
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ So tell me, what kind of person are you? ♥ 1. You are overwhelmed because you feel that you need to stay busy, or you have a hard time relaxing when you do have free time. 2. You do not know what to do with your free time so you end up doing nothing productive or rejuvenating.
Below, I have compiled a list of affordable self-care strategies that will not break the bank and will hopefully help you recharge and reground yourself. I cannot stress how important it is to take care of your mental health and well-being, especially during these difficult times. Obviously, I am not a party planner nor am I going to plan out the whole day from morning to night. What I will do is give you some free or budget-friendly suggestions for a self-care day. Self-care does not have to be elaborate or expensive! Let’s get started, shall we?
Go For A Walk Outside
When my cat was sick, my husband took him to the vet. Afterwards, my husband spoiled the cat by letting him venture outside. And the cat loved it! ❤ Pet parents do not hesitate to take their dogs (and cats) out for walks, but when was the last time you took yourself out for a walk? Are you spending way too much time indoors and not enough time in the great outdoors? If you live in Canada like me, I totally understand why you may choose to stay inside the house. Canada is cold AF, especially in this province. If the weather is nice where you are, depending on what your definition of “nice” is, I encourage you to stand barefoot on the grass as a way to ground yourself and reconnect with Mother Nature.
Spending time outside can be incredibly therapeutic. I encourage all of you to leave the house at least once a day if you can, and spend some time outdoors. Right now, I am not getting my daily walks and my mood is suffering as a result. I am probably Vitamin D deficient because I hardly ever see the sun 🌞 My blinds are closed as I write this and I keep my windows shut due to the frigid cold. Also, the paths are icy AF outside so I try not to leave the apartment. The affordable solution is to suck it up and spend time outdoors, but knowing how terrible my balance is, I rather not deal with a sprained wrist or ankle. If you live in a warmer climate, then you are incredibly fortunate! 🌴
Enjoy A Hot Beverage
There is something soothing about sipping a hot beverage any day of the week ☕💕 A hot beverage is fairly inexpensive if you make it yourself at home. Also, it is easy to make a basic coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, so there is really no excuse not to enjoy a cup or two. My favourite thing to do first thing in the morning is to enjoy a hot beverage while I read the latest blog posts from my fellow WP bloggers!
Read A Book
Got a book that you had every intention to read, but never got around to reading? Now is a good time to pick up that book and yenno, actually read it. I cannot tell you how The life-changing art of tidying up ends because I never finished reading it. Seeing my pile of unread books made me realize that there is no reason to buy more books when I haven’t even finished the ones I have. Reading can turn into an expensive hobby, which is why I encourage you to shop your own house first before buying more books.
Take a Bath
I used to be a shower person, but I have evolved into a bath person over the years. I take a bath 3-5 times per week, and thus, the shower gel and body butterdid not last long. Enjoying a warm bath is honestly one of my favourite ways to relax. Also, I noticed that taking a bath is the fastest way for me to warm up after being outside in the frigid cold. Not to mention, baths can elevate a crappy mood, relieve muscle aches and pains, and reduce stress levels. Although I prefer to take a bath midday, I still recommend taking a bath at the end of day before bedtime. Why? Because baths have the tendency to calm an overactive mind, relax you, and make you sleepy. If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety like I do, then try adding this bath ritual to your schedule to help you wake up feeling more refreshed the next day.
(っ◔◡◔)っ ♥ Final Thoughts ♥
Finally, I would suggest journaling. However, I do not find it very relaxing. I use a planner to stay organized but that’s as much journaling as I do these days. I used to enjoy writing letters to pen-pals and still do to an extent, but it has been difficult for me to find the motivation and energy to send snail mail. I apologize to anyone who I have not responded to via email; I haven’t had the motivation to write my wordy, thought-provoking replies. It is not that I have forgotten about you ❤ Same goes with pen-pals – I have not forgotten about you either and I will send more mail when I find the desire to write again 💌
I think I just screwed up the No Spend Challenge. I did not think it was possible to royally screw it up until January 8, 2021. One thing I learned about myself is how easily I call it quits as soon as I make a mistake 🤦♀️ And just like that, on January 9, 2021, the No Spend Challenge went out the window. Like I said in my previous blog post, No Spend Challenge | January 2021, I have an All or Nothing personality which can really hinder progress and prevent me from implementing lasting habits. I know I can do better and I plan to pick up where I left off… today, anyways.
Below is the PDF sheetthat I printed off and taped to my wall. Whenever I have a good day, I get a sticker. I know it sounds silly but it keeps me motivated since I like to keep the positive streak going. I am also keeping a tally at the bottom of the sheet which indicates the number of days that I cheated or unintentionally spent money:
Hilary, How Could You?!
This No Spend Challenge was going well until I received a disturbing email on Friday, January 8, 2021. This company had no problem telling me that they charged my credit card for a another yearly subscription of $30.00 USD. In all honestly, I completely forgot that my subscription was about to expire and assumed that I already unsubscribed from this service. I know that this is my fault and nobody else’s, but I wish they had sent me an email alerting me that my subscription was about to expire. Personally, I think that auto-ship and subscription services are dangerous when forgotten about, and I honestly do not know how all of you manage to keep track of your subscriptions. I will not mention the name of this company out of all due respect. Don’t get me wrong – this subscription service is pretty good, except that I no longer need or use this service. *Sigh* I tell myself that I am more forgetful than usual due to my pregnancy brain. Update: Rebecca is getting a baby brother in May. We are Team Blue! 💙
Calling It Quits 🙅♀️
I felt guilty. I felt shame. I was angry at myself because I was the one to blame. I was upset because I broke the promise I made at the beginning of January 2021. So, what did Hilary do to make up for this screw-up? She dug a deeper hole on Saturday. SHE SPENT MORE MONEY! 💲💲💲
I ended up spending money on sour watermelon slices, sour neon gummy worms, and OMGs ($13), postage for the US and international stamps ($17 + $8.20). and a few other miscellaneous items that I certainly did not need ($15). Even though I continued to avoid Dollarama like the plague, as mentioned in my previous post, I ended up spending more money by avoiding Dollarama, so avoidance was clearly a dumb decision. At least I learned from these mistakes; however, I still messed up the No Spend Challenge, nonetheless. Like I tell my fellow blogging friends, I do not expect anyone to have a perfect month, and this includes myself. Like you, I am human and I make mistakes. Like you, I need to start practicing self-love and forgiveness. It is okay to mess up, and the important thing is that we pick up where we left off. 🙏💕
Can you picture yourself not spending money during the month of January? I was inspired by Happy Simple Momto embark on this journey one year ago and I haven’t looked back. I did the challenge last year and felt much better after putting a temporary ban on buying non-essential items; thus, I was able to detox from the Christmas debt hangover. Is this extreme? Maybe a little, but I assure you that this challenge is totally doable. In fact, you might actually enjoy it. Chances are, you probably already have a lot of stuff laying around your house for future DIY projects (Pinterest, anyone?). And if you are like me, chances are you probably forgot about most of the stuff that you already own.
Below is a list of 10 non-essential items that I will not be buying this month. I do not encourage you to ban essential items like groceries, gas, phone bills etc. because these things essential for a reason. Non-essential items include extra things that you can learn to live without, and this list will vary from person to person. Remember, what you choose to give up for January is entirely up to you! 🙌
January No Spend Challenge
Here is a list of some of 10 things that I am not buying throughout the month of January 2021! 💰
1. Coffee and Steeped Tea I love coffee from MCDs and Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s. Even though I can make MCDs coffee at home, I crave their coffee when I am running errands. I also crave Steeped Tea from Tim Horton’s which is a bit trickier since I cannot replicate it at home. I have tried numerous times to replicate it but I have not found a good replacement for store-bought Steeped Tea. I am able to justify buying Steeped Tea in-store by using gift cards and Tim’s Rewards (buy 7, get one free).
In 2020, I used my Swagbucks Rewards to purchase $75 worth of Tim Cards. If reward programs like Swagbucks appeals to you and you are interested in signing up, my referral link is https://www.swagbucks.com/profile/hellokitty8404. It is free to sign up using my referral link and you will be helping me out too. It’s similar to “Buy Me A Coffee!” but doesn’t cost you anything! ☕💕
2.Junk FoodI have been a junk food addict for as long as I can remember. I could live off of junk food instead of real food but my guilty conscience does not allow me to succumb to poor lifestyle choices. However, I do consume a concerning amount of junk food on a weekly basis, specifically sugary treats like candy and chocolate. There is nothing wrong with junk food in moderation, but I admit that moderation is not a word in my vocabulary 😂 For this reason, I will be making my own treats in the New Year. In the past, I have made DIY honey-lemon candy, protein gummy candy, air-fried BBQ chips, kale chips, Dalgona coffee, and chocolate mug cake.
3. Ordering Takeout We told ourselves that we would only eat out twice a month, but we do not keep track of our spending. I feel like we were eating out at least 4 times per month, not including the Tim Hortons runs. I realize that we eat out way too much, so during the month of January, we plan to cook our meals at home. Often, I find myself giving into hanger when I am running errands, my husband wants to celebrate a special occasion, our daughter is hangry too etc. Next time, I will pack snacks when we travel, even if we are just running errands.
4. Eating at Restaurants We eat out at restaurants once a month because we spend more on takeout, and this goes hand in hand with point #3. Still, there is no reason to eat out if we can learn how to create our favourite dishes at home. There is no need for physical cookbooks since I can [usually] find what I need on the internet.
5. Online Shopping I pride myself for having self-control when it comes to online shopping. I keep online shopping to a minimum and only use a couple of sites, at most. There are some products which I can only buy online, such as Natural Calm – Calmful Sleep Natural Sleep Aid (powder) which you can purchase at an unbeatable price here. Now that my shipment has finally arrived, I do not need to buy anything else for a while. Oh yeah, and I avoid Amazon because of bad experiences/scams from questionable sellers.
6. Dollarama This goes hand and hand with #2 and #7 because two of my biggest culprits when shopping at Dollarama are junk food and stationary. Dollarama has good quality stationary and I cannot fathom why anyone would spend full price on greeting cards. The prices at Dollarama range from $1-$4 per item and the quality is decent, unlike other dollar stores I have shopped at. I shop there 2-3 times per week and usually spend $20.00+ per shopping trip. It is a problem that needs to be nipped in the bud.
7. StationaryWhere do I even begin with this one? I ❤ stationary! I love sending mail as much as I love receiving mail. Snail mail seems to be a dying art, and I usually give up when so-called pen-pals don’t reciprocate at all. I know I set my expectations too high and need to work on that. I also have an all-or-nothing personality, so this year I ended up mailing zero Christmas cards. That being said, I still have a problem when it comes to buying stationary and I get carried away sometimes. Therefore, I am putting a ban on stationary and will use up what I have before I buy more. 💌
7. Skin Care ProductsNot only did I find some great deals during Boxing week, which you can read in my previous blog post, my mom also mailed me a bunch of skin care products from around the world for Christmas 2020. I definitely have an abundance of skin care products not limited to: face wash/cleanser from Japan, mini shower gel(s), a family-sized shower gel imported from Greece, body butters, body creams imported from Greece, hair care products from Korea, pain relief analgesics by Kalaya, and body yogurts. There is absolutely no reason for me to buy more skin care products unless I run out of something, which is highly unlikely.
8. Alcohol We are not big drinkers, so alcohol has never been an issue for me. Also, I am 19 weeks pregnant so I am not drinking alcohol anyways. I find it incredibly irresponsible for pregnant mothers to drink, fully knowing that they are harming their unborn child. For pregnant women who want something a bit classier than sparkling water this holiday season, there is a non-alcoholic beverage on the market known as sparkling fruit juice and it tastes delicious. I like how this beverage even comes in wine bottles which closely resembles champagne. This drink is a treat and not an every day indulgence. Cheers! 🥂
9. Miscellaneous Gifts I often spend money on others before I spend money on myself, and I like to buy “just because” gifts for my husband and daughter. I feel like this is my way of telling them that they are important to me. I know what my husband’s favourite candy and snacks are, for instance. He is aware that I am doing this January No Spend Challenge, and I am pretty sure that my daughter won’t notice. A friend of mine has an upcoming birthday, and because she lives in a different province, I want to send her something by mail. This might end up being an exception to the rule as I have no way of sending homemade gifts without paying ridiculously high shipping costs.
Finally, I encourage you to try this challenge during the month of January to kickstart the new year! I also encourage you to track your spending habits using a budgeting app or free PDF trackerso that you are able to see the progress that you are making. The results may surprise you! 🙂
If you need some extra encouragement this month, feel free to message me on my Contact Info Page. Please note that I mostly use email and WhatsApp. Also, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ and I will do my best to reply to your comments! ❤