Lifestyle Changes

Does “getting old” mean you start to become a boring homebody who doesn’t go out at night and instead spends the weekend doing home maintenance projects (both the kind you want to do as well as the kind you don’t)? Or does it mean you do all of the above but don’t care anymore if people think that makes you old?

Today J. Miguel and I were musing over all the lifestyle changes we have gone through within the past month (which coincides with our permanent move into our new condo). It sort of makes us feel like we’re getting old, or as my friend Amy likes to say, “Adulting.” It was J. Miguel who mentioned how we’re “nearing our forties” now and therefore, our priorities should be changing.

In our previous home, we lived in a pretty walkable, urban area. There were plenty of stores and restaurants within walking distance and as a result, we ate out several times a week. Part of it was due to the fact that it the convenient thing to do (I mean, after a hard day at work, who wants to go home, prepare food, cook it and then do dishes?) and in all fairness, another reason for our frequent dinners out had to do with the fact that we had an efficiency-sized kitchen with aging appliances that didn’t work properly. There was hardly any room to actually prepare food and the appliances weren’t reliable. The oven temperature was off and one of our stovetop burners didn’t work properly, despite numerous complaints to management.

Since moving to a more isolated area, we’ve consciously decided not to eat out as much as  before. We tell ourselves this is a financially-driven decision (although it isn’t really saving us money because we’ve just shifted our spending to others areas). I think one big reason this has been an easy change to implement is simply because we just love where we live now and would rather spend as much time as we can in this place that brings us joy, calm and peace, especially when the alternative includes facing the masses and chaos associated with going out for a meal, not to mention the expense, which does add up.

But we’ve made other lifestyle changes besides our new meal routines. For example, I now have our groceries delivered right to our door every Saturday morning. Sure, it costs a few extra dollars, but it frees up our weekend and takes a big chunk of stress out of our normal routine (which included battling traffic, tolerating crowds at the store and long lines at the check-out). And instead of going out to catch a movie or enjoying some other nighttime entertainment, we opt to stay home and rent movies, read books and attend to hobbies we didn’t feel we had the space to do back at the old apartment.

And that’s just the weekends. We have also decided to shake up our morning and evening commutes, and while these changes cost us a little bit more financially than the public transportation option we’ve been doing for so many years (although it’s really only a matter of a dollar or two thanks to the wonderful Uber Pool option), it has made the trip into the office less stressful and the trip home less exhausting, giving us the energy to do things we have usually been too tired to do such as going to the gym after work. (Those of you who are familiar with the Washington, DC metro system will know exactly what I mean by a stressful, time-consuming commute that continues to increase in price despite terrible service.)

We have made so many little, but also really big lifestyle changes in the past month, and so far, they have all been for the better. We both work hard during the week. Really hard. And we’ve both come to the conclusion that with a little shifting in our spending habits, a huge portion of daily stress has been removed from our lives. J. Miguel is right, and I don’t know if it has to do with us nearing our forties (although I remember my friend Marisa talking about the decision to buy her new home as being part of her desire to have a home for her forties), but our priorities have definitely changed. But not only have our priorities changed, our way of living has changed. And overall, so has our outlook on life and how we want to spend our limited time on this earth.

Simple Pleasures Part II

I have these quirky little fantasies. One is to call in sick to work on a cold, rainy day and spend my time at home painting acrylic on canvas pictures while listening to classical music or jazz. (Something that will never happen as I don’t call in sick unless I really am.) Another is to spend my entire weekend in my PJs, curled up on the couch reading books or watching Netflix. (My sectional and accent chair arrive early August and then that fantasy can come true!) Another is to be able to write this blog from my new private balcony with a piece of key lime or pecan pie (depending on the season) on the table next to my laptop. (That dream might be a few months away as I need to save for outdoor furniture.) Kind of weird, right? At age 38, I’m starting to sound like an old woman!

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This morning I got to experience one of my other quirky little fantasies—sitting at my new kitchen table, coloring in my favorite adult coloring book (sounds so scandalous, but it’s not) while enjoying a warm cup of milk tea.

Some people might read all this and think of me as being painfully introverted. It’s true, when taking the Myers-Briggs test I always score slightly introverted, but just barely, for some reason. I do feel I am more introverted than I test, however, but it’s not because I feel uncomfortable socializing—I don’t. I have no problem introducing myself to a group of people I don’t know or killing it at networking events. I can also speak publicly with little anxiety. It’s just that after a while, it all starts to drain me. And on top of an extremely stressful job, the easiest way for me to unwind is to spend some time alone doing some simple, but relaxing activities. For some reason, these bring me a lot of joy. Sadly, they are mostly fantasies, however, as life rarely seems to slow down enough for me to do any of these things I long to do.

Today I got lucky, though. J. Miguel is at a Peruvian festival I opted not to join so I’m alone in the condo, finally able to enjoy my new home as these past weekends have been full of work or social obligations that have taken me out of the condo. So today I’m going to finish coloring this picture (or not), publish this blog post, make some pasta for lunch with a glass of crisp white wine and finish watching “The American,” starring George Clooney, on Netflix.

I will accomplish absolutely nothing today except a total recharge of my social and physical batteries, and I will enjoy every single minute of it.

Simple Pleasures Part I

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I love Saturday nights, and I love them even more in the new condo. I have absolutely no qualms about staying in with an oven baked pizza for dinner, sparkling pear juice from Sweden, a good book, some movies and J. Miguel and Soju the Cat as my company.

It’s been a stressful week at work and an expensive few months with the purchase of the new condo and the physical move to a new city (even if it is only 10 minutes from where we were living before). So a weekend in is probably a wise decision anyway from a financial point of view. Besides, it’s not even worth leaving home right now with the horrid 97 degree heat and humidity we had today and continue to endure this evening.

So here’s to being a homebody on a Saturday July night. No guilt. No shame. Just relishing the simple pleasures of life that make evenings like this so enjoyable.

Rebranding

A lot has happened in my life over the past several months. I bought my first home which I am in love with. It’s in a new city but literally just 10 minutes away from where I lived before. It’s newer, it’s quieter, it’s overall a thousand times nicer than where I was previously. I’m not done unpacking, and I still need to buy furniture, but I love it. I’m truly, really happy—at least with that part of my life. And it’s a big part of my life.

Since moving, I’ve realized how key it is to love where you live because it makes life’s other obstacles easier to handle: the commute to work, the stress of the job, the rude people in the street, etc. All of that stuff seems to bother me less now that I have a peaceful, comfortable home I can call my own.

But besides the move and home purchase, some other changes have occurred in my life as well. For one, J. Miguel and I are weathering some relationship storms, and I’m not sure when we’ll find the sun in this current disturbance. I don’t know what it is that made things change, but we’ve been struggling since the move. I guess we were struggling a bit before the move, too. We’re still living together, but we’re distant, and I’m afraid, but also, it’s altered many of my thoughts and interests and ultimately what I want to write about on this blog.

In all honesty, “Katalina, Katalina” was never really about me. It was about J. Miguel. And it worked for a while, but the changes that have occurred recently between us have brought me to the conclusion that maybe it’s time to spend more energy on me—what makes my mind tick, what interests me, the stories I want to tell and the photos I want to share.

So this blog is going through some rebranding. I’ll keep the title but am considering what to change the tagline to. I’ll occasionally dabble in Latino issues, but not as much as I was before, back when I was a little more connected to J. Miguel and when he was more open to sharing his stories with me.

Who knows what will happen to us. If you pray, please pray that whatever happens is ultimately the best thing that needs to happen, because I want to believe that whatever the outcome is, it will be the right one. And in the meantime, do know that some things are going to gradually change here on this blog. It’s up to you to decide if it is for better or for worse. 🙂

Home

It’s a simple but incredible concept, having a place to call home. They say that if your home life isn’t safe and sound, your professional life and your relationships will also suffer. Finally, since embarking on the home-buying process for the first time in my life in May, I moved into my new condo just yesterday. And even among the partially opened boxes and chaos inside these walls, I am more in love with this place than I was when I first made the offer to buy this place. It is bigger than my previous apartment although not huge (perfect for me, J.Miguel and Gato), it is modern, in wonderful condition, full of natural light and in a peaceful neighborhood–just the sanctuary we have needed from our busy lives at work.

And while I still have a lot of ahead of me in terms of unpacking, organizing, decorating, I haven’t felt this stress-free since April when I decided I was going to give up renting and invest in my own place. The mental stress of buying a home for the first time–as a single woman–is exhausting. Even though the sale itself was smooth sailing, just the process of buying a home (and making arrangements to move) can wear on you. I can’t tell you what a load off my shoulders it is to be physically living in my new home. It’s like I hadn’t been able to mentally (or physically) rest until I got this point. There was always something that needed to be done: dense legal documents to read and sign, forms to fill out, payments to make (I have been bleeding money ever since going under contract), people to call, people to meet, tasks that need to be done during business hours on the side of my demanding full-time job…hiring movers, packing our belongings, physically moving, cleaning out the old place…the responsibilities have been non-stop but now, I am finally in a good place.

After a long hiatus, I will be able to return to blogging. I will be able to go to the gym. I’ll be able to read for pleasure and cook at home. And for the first time in years, I will be able to do my laundry in my home home without having to go to the communal laundromat in my old apartment building and pay $5 per load. I’ll be able to park in a covered garage. I’ll live in a truly safe and secure community, and I will be able to settle down for once in my life. (I have never hung up pictures when renting, for example, because I never knew how long I’d stay the way rental prices keep increasing.)

So after all this time, I’m back! A little disconnected from all things Latino but alive and recharged. To anyone who has stuck around during my time away, thank you. It’s good to be back. It’s good to be home.