July passed quickly which is a nice change from last month. Overall, I think it was a pretty good month. Without further ado, here are my reflections for the month.
No Job – I love not working. I have been studying pretty hard, so sometimes it feels like I am still working. However, I just remind myself that I get to start later, take lots of breaks, and have no commute. I am still finding time to enjoy myself even with the studying. I have watched several movies including Black Panther, Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass. I made it through all of The Following Season 2 and Stranger Things Season 2. I read five books with my favorite being The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. It is so nice to feel like I can plan my day based on my high and low energy periods and rearrange as I feel the need.
4th of July – I was a little hesitant about the 4th of July plans that my husband committed us to doing. However, it turned out to be a really good time. I have always loved the holiday. My childhood was spent going to a great uncle’s every year where I went to a parade, spent all day at a family picnic, and saw illegal home fireworks in the evening. As an adult, I have dropped out of the family arrangement, because I no longer do much with that branch of the family. It has been replaced with a hodgepodge of inconsistent activities over the years, but nothing that quite brings the right feelings. While this year was definitely different, I felt relaxed, entertained, and well fed. I still think the rail pricing for Great Meadow is a bit high, but I am glad we went through with it anyway.
PA Trip – I took an unplanned trip to PA this month. My aunt threw a family picnic because her son and his long-time girlfriend were coming home for the first time in a few years. I originally was not planning to go because I just feel like I have taken too many trips this year already and have a few more that I am committed to doing in the next few months. However, my Grandma’s health has been shaky and so I decided that I should. It was a good trip. Other than the picnic, I tried to keep it low-key, hanging out at my sister’s, eating some local favorites, and relaxing in my hotel room. Sunday afternoon was the actual picnic. Aside from the wayward cousins, there were several extended family members there that I have not seen in a while either. It was very relaxing, and I felt more part of the family than I have in a while. Plus Grandma seems so much stronger than she did when I was there in June.
Hike – I made it out on one hike this month. My husband and I went to Seneca Creek State Park in Maryland. It was a five mile hike around the lake. It was not my favorite destination, but it was somewhere I had not been before. It was a beautiful day when we went, the weather was sunny and unexpectedly cooler (70s). There were lots of people out and about when we were there. I have taken a couple smaller walks around our neighborhood too, but I am only counting the Seneca Creek one toward my hiking goal. This puts me at the halfway point in my goal, 6 out of 12 hikes. I wish I was making more progress, but weather and other activities are getting in the way.
Diet & Exercise – I have done much better with my health activities this month. I followed the same calorie plan that I have been using, 1200 calories two days a week and 2000 the other five days. I hit my goal approximately 71% of the time this month. I think I am ready to try to knock that 2000 number back to 1900 for August. I also have been more consistent with my exercise. I am aiming for 4 active days a week, and I have been at 3-4 days each week for the month. I have been going with a friend to the gym on Mondays to do a weightlifting circuit. I go to the Pilates class with the people at work on Wednesdays. Thursdays I plan to go to Ballet Burn every week, though this is the one I have been dropping the most. Over the weekend, I try to get a decent walk around the neighborhood into my schedule. I feel good about where I am.
Grandma – I mentioned last month and above that my Grandma has been struggling health-wise. I am really worried about the situation. My Grandma broke her hip a couple months ago. She was recovering nicely from that, but then fell again a few weeks later and got progressively worse (mobility problems, memory problems, and appetite problems…she was so weak). Then, she had a small stroke. When I saw her at the end of June, she was so fragile looking and so out of touch with what was going on around her. Everyone was really worried that she was going to just waste away. Now she is doing much, much better physically. Mentally though, the stroke has set her back. She has lost the cognitive ability to do the little things (like use silverware properly) and has short term memory problems. She is currently at her home with my mom and two aunts providing round the clock supervision. This is not a sustainable schedule for them, and they have to figure out what to do with her going forward. Everyone is very worn down by the situation, and Grandma is very angry that she cannot just proceed with her life as normal. My mom in particular is handling it badly, showing signs of depression and emotional instability. I am not sure how this will resolve itself, but I am worried about Grandma, I am worried about my mom, and I am worried about my aunts.
CPA Studying – It would have been nice to have the month of July to just dally around the house, not doing much of anything. I made the decision though to dive into the studying pretty quickly and commit to the scheduled Sept 8th date. There is a lot of material to cover for FAR. My study schedule requires around 4-6 hours a day, six days a week, just to get through the Wiley CPAexcel sections. I struggle with putting in the required time and really focusing on the material, but I am making myself push through it. My hope is that come September, I will have passed the exam and can relax a bit before the next life steps.
Lake Anna/Hamilton – I have two big weekends in August already planned. I am trying to keep the remainder of the month pretty open so that it is easier to stick with the required study schedule. First, I have the annual trip to Lake Anna with friends. I usually have a good relaxing time, and I expect this to be no different. The last weekend in the month, my cousin and her boyfriend are coming to VA to see Hamilton with my husband and me. This is something my husband really wanted to do (see the show, I do not think he cares so much whether my cousin is there), so I am glad we were able to obtain the tickets for it.
Minimalism Game – I want to declutter the house a bit. There is just so much junk lying around. The mess makes me anxious and I feel like I can never make things clean. I have decided to play The Minimalism Game (see The Minimalist’s site https://www.theminimalists.com/game/). For this game, you declutter one item on the first day of the month, two on the second, three on the third, and so on. If you make it to the very end of the month, then you will have gotten rid of just under 500 items. I am not sure I will make it that far, but I will try to go as long as I can. I am making one change to the rules, and that is the requirement to get the decluttered stuff out of the house on each day. Instead, I will trash anything on the same day, but donated items will go in a collection box to be taken to Goodwill on the 31st. I just cannot take 31-ish trips to Goodwill.
CPA Studying – Of course, August will be heavy on the CPA studying. As I said above, I need to maintain 4-6 hours a day, six days a week, just to make it through the Wiley program by my exam date. Having the two busy weekends is going to make it even more difficult. Plus I am already tired of studying so much. I am just going to keep pushing though, and we will see how the exam goes.
Hiking – This goal is always in the future section. No new plans associated with it this month. I have one hike to make up still to be roughly on track for 1 hike a month during the year. August might be a bit tough, between the studying and the two big weekend plans already there. Weather has not been cooperating so much this summer either. It has been ridiculously hot (pretty normal) and very rainy (more so than normal). I will keep my eye out for a good day for this month, and maybe hope to get 2 in during September to catch up.
Blog – I have made the decision not to extend my blog beyond what it currently is. I had mentioned possibly expanding to do a weekly update on the no job journey. I also played around with the idea of doing some blogs on Youtube. However, the studying situation has made me reconsider doing anything more. That already takes up so much time, and I do not want to create even more work to try to do during my time off. I would rather commit to the studying and relax the rest of the time. So the blog will remain as is, monthly reflections only.
There you have it, my month in review. See you next month!