It’s astonishing, really, how some of the simplest changes and smallest things can redirect the course of one’s life. Of course, there are the big things…birthdays, graduations, illness/death of loved ones, marriage, having kids, etc…that we know (obviously) will change our lives forever. However, there are also little discoveries one can make while living in the day-to-day humdrum we call “the everyday” that changes the way we see ourselves and how we feel about/experience this amazing gift called “LIFE”. This past year, I have come across many of these mini-catalysts that have given me a new perspective on my life…helping me realize just how marvelous it can be, even in the mundane and boring. Some are events, some are activities, some are products…but ALL are things you would never expect would have such a profound effect on one’s journey through life.
So…without further ado…
#10 – Leaving your Work at…well…Work!!
Working as a teacher for three years, there were very few days I could leave work without carrying some amount of work (grading, lesson planning, etc) with me. It’s just the nature of teaching – yes, we have set teaching hours during the day, and yes, we have winter/summer/spring/fall breaks. But it’s rare that any teacher (within the first 3 to 5 years of their career) would spend an evening or vacation without doing some amount of work-related tasks/projects. I always thought that was the way life was and that the whole “relaxing at home” bit was an urban legend of sorts. Perhaps SOME of my friends in other lines of work seemed to have more time to themselves after work/during their vacation leave, but I’m sure they were at least THINKING about the work they were missing out on.
Fast forward to October 2011, as I begin my new job at MSUCOM as an Admin Assistant. In the first 6 months of my job, I had the same mentality of going into this job as I did teaching. I hooked up my work email to my Android Phone, I brought work home to finish after work, etc. In the beginning, it helped simply because I was still in the middle of my learning curve and I was pretty slow in getting tasks done. But once the summer hit, and I started to speed up in getting work done at work (shocking), I started to realize that I didn’t need to bring work home anymore. I deleted my work email sync from my phone and was physically AND mentally “leave my work at work”. Let me tell you, it has been one of the key factors of reducing the amount of stress I place on myself. I am SO much more relaxed and a much happier, nicer person to be around. I’m sure those around me will agree…it has changed my life (and their lives too, when they’re around me).
#9 – Video Chatting – Google Chat, Skype, Oovoo, FaceTime…any others I should try?
Being apart from so many of my friends and family while in Michigan has been tough. I’m normally a fairly independent person, and I can’t say that I haven’t enjoyed the solitude to some extent. But there are always those moments I so wish I could simply drive to Midtown to see my friend Stephanie…or call up Sylvia to see if she has some time for me…or email “the gang” to see if they want to organize a weekend get-together. It’s ok chatting on the phone (at least we can catch up). But being able to SEE people and their expressions while speaking really takes the edge off of homesickness. Enter “video chatting”…I didn’t really use any video chat system much (a little bit while in Atlanta as InChul was doing his med school rotations in places far, far away). But after one video chat with my sisters back in the Summer of 2012, I was hooked. I wanted to video chat with EVERYONE! It’s so nice being able to see people, even if it IS on a computer screen. Makes my life here in Michigan that much more bearable, knowing technology allows me to talk with loved ones (digitally) face to face.
I don’t have a system of preference – I do use Google Chat a lot just because more people is on it. I also use FaceTime, but is only limited to my friends who have an Apple product with FaceTime capabilities. Which brings me to my NEXT discovery…
#8 – The iPhone 5
OK, not that I’m knockin’ on the Android Smart Phones (I owned a Samsung Galaxy S before, and it served me fairly well), but getting the iPhone 5 (my very FIRST iPhone, by the way) seriously changed my perspective on smart phones completely! With my old android phone, I did have a good number of games and apps that I used…but the system was much to complicated for me (either I’m getting older and not as able to keep up technologically…or I’m just a simple person to begin with). I always would think to myself, “I really don’t need to have a smart phone…I’m not even using it to a fraction of its potential…maybe I’ll just get a regular cell phone next time around.” Even with the introduction of the iPhone 5, I was still skeptical about my relationship with the smart phone world. When InChul decided he would switch to the iPhone once out Verizon contract was up, I reluctantly agreed to give it a go.
Now, I cannot imagine not owning this thing! The combination of usage simplicity, the compatibility with my home computer (iMac…I can FINALLY listen to AAC music files on my phone!), and the speed of LTE internet access, I actually feel as if I am using my iPhone 5 as a smart phone was meant to be used. Without a doubt, I am an iPhone user for LIFE!
#7 – Counting the Calories (Thank you, MyFitnessPal.com!!)
Of all of the apps I use on my iPhone 5, the one that has changed my life the most is my calorie counter app – MyFitnessPal (you can also access via internet…just click on the link). I’ve never been one to stick to a diet. I always thought that counting calories and reducing my eating could NEVER happen, as I loved food too much! But once I hit 145 lbs (a weight I never thought I would hit), I decided that I needed help. Of course, I got drawn into looking for the “quick fix” diet programs first, but I didn’t want to spend the massive amount of money it would take to do those. One day, as I was reading my friend Helen’s Blog, she mentioned a simple, FREE smart phone app that she had used that had been VERY effective for her. So, I took her advice (more like a command on her blog – “…go download this free app NOW. Go. Now.”) and downloaded the app. I started using it immediately, and realized that I had been eating about two to three times the number of calories I needed. NO WONDER I WAS GAINING SO MUCH WEIGHT!!
It took a week or so, but I finally got into a groove of using the app!! It’s a good way to lose weight…the program won’t allow me to eat less than 1200 calories (minimum amount needed to keep my body from going into starvation mode, apparently) and won’t let me lose more than 2 lbs per week (at the moment, they have me losing 0.7 lbs per week). Now, I’m down about 20 pounds in just under three months (since I started on October 22, 2012…not bad, eh?) and feeling pretty good about myself. The weight loss has slowed, now that I’m getting closer to my goal weight (10 more pounds to go!) and I’ve put my workouts on hiatus due to freezing temperatures (bad, I know), but I plan to stick with it…because it’s easy!
#6 – Pinterest
I’m not sure why it took me so long to get wind of Pinterest, but I’m glad I did. It all started as I was reading my friend Shin’s Blog about preparing for her daughter’s birthday party. Both Shin and I share one common trait – we are both EXTREMELY organized people. Normally, when she mentions some sort of tool or website that she uses to make things easier, I pay attention. In this instance, she mentioned Pinterest and I was curious as to what she was talking about. So I looked it up online, and lo and behold, I found myself in a crafter/organization freak/wannabe interior decorator’s PARADISE! The concept is pretty simple – you have a one-stop place where you collect ideas, recipes, tips, etc from all over the World Wide Web. It helps access places you want to revisit and helps organize ideas and thoughts by allowing you to “pin” them on these virtual “boards”. You can create different boards for different categories (currently, I have 18 boards and 855 pins).
Granted, I have to admit that I have many “pins” on my Pinterest boards that I won’t get to use for a long time. But there are several boards that I visit on a frequent basis – usually my recipe boards (to cook meals) and my “Fashion 101” board (when I go shopping…so I pick out pieces that I know how to put together into outfits). It has made me want to cook more, organize more, dress better, etc. I seriously don’t know how I got along without this…so glad it has come into my life.