Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The best ME (Women Inspired post #2)

This is the second post of a three-post series. On the first post, I wrote about how I became the person I am today--which was writing a list of goals and working on crossing them off, one by one. On this post, I've been asked to write about how I can improve to be the best version of myself, as well as my aspirations and inspirations.

For most of my life, I could be described as: the introvert, the "practical" one, the worrier, the shy one, the people-pleaser, and the scaredy cat. These are traits that are just ingrained in my genes, and in my late 20's, I finally accepted that. I know I'm never going to be the super fun talkative chick at a party who everyone is just drawn to; I'm never going to go seeking out crazy adventures all in the name of living on the edge; and I'm never going to get rid of my practicality and fly by the seat of my pants. It's just not me!

However, I have also discovered, in my late 20's and early 30's, that amazing things don't just "happen"... I have to step outside of my comfort zone (sometimes so far it hurts!) and the reward can be huge. Take flying, for example: I missed out on SO MANY amazing trips and adventures with family and friends over the years because I was too afraid to get on a plane. When I finally started flying again in 2010, I have experienced some of the best times of my life! I'm still scared of flying, but I learned that a little (okay, a lot of) wine goes a long way to get me on the plane ;)

[Side note: Ironically, one of the things I agreed to for this Prudential program was to speak on a panel at the BlogHer conferences in July in NYC. I'm terrified of that! But I know the reward of stepping out of my comfort zone will far exceed the few moments of fear.]

I'm pretty sure I was born with anxiety; my mom has always been a worrier, and I can remember having severe anxiety when I was in elementary school (and probably even younger). Back then, I worried about my pets dying, or my parents being mad at me if I did something wrong, or kids not liking me. Now, as an adult, I worry about my kids--I want them to be happy and healthy. I'm always trying to find a happy medium between being too laid-back and being overprotective, which is hard to do. I don't want my kids to grow up sheltered, but I don't want anything bad to happen to them, either. And I want them to have great memories of their childhood, long after I'm gone.

I also worry about money--even though we certainly get by okay, we don't have any savings to fall back on if something major should happen. When I fainted in 2010 and broke my jaw, it came completely out of nowhere. We weren't at all prepared for the huge hospital bills! We have decent insurance, but the deductibles and co-pays were in the thousands of dollars, which we were unprepared for. Jerry also took a week or two off of work (unpaid) to take care of me. So, that "little fainting spell" cost a lot more than we could have imagined.

I would love to get to the point where I don't have to worry about unexpected financial burdens popping up: the furnace dying when it's 20 below zero, or getting in some sort of accident, or Jerry losing his job, or God forbid--a death in our family. We aren't prepared for any of these things, but I really don't know where to start. The thought of saving up an emergency fund is totally overwhelming to me! That is where I hope this experience with Prudential will help me come up with an idea of where to get started.

To answer the question of how I can be the best ME, here are just a few of the things I want to include in my life to be healthy and happy:

Maintain goal weight- Something that will never come easy to me, but I am definitely happier when I am at a weight of 130-140. My goals is to get back there and maintain it.



Travel- I was too scared to travel for so long (fear of flying), and even though I am still scared of flying, I haven't let it stop me from going new places. I'd love to continue that as I get older.

Reach running goals- I always feel on top of the world after I conquer a goal that I've been working on for a long time. No matter the goal, I'd like to continue to work to better my running.

Practice random kindness- Doing things for others has always brought me joy, and I'd like to continue to always look for opportunities to help people. (I can't mention random kindness without remembering Mark, who was all about helping others...)



Step out of my comfort zone- I never achieved anything worthwhile in my comfort zone, so stepping out is a must!

Create family memories- I want my kids to have fun memories of us as a family, so I'd like to always look for ways to be creative in our time together. (I don't love swimming, but I did a lot of it in Punta Cana so the kids would have memories of me swimming with them)



Be adventurous- Doing things I never thought I could/would do!



Be financially secure- Not worry about money, and have an emergency fund set aside in case we need it.

Laugh it off- Sometimes I get stressed or anxious, and I don't look past that to see the humor in situations. I want to remember not to sweat the small stuff.

Maintain friendships- I have some really amazing friends, and no matter where life takes us, I'd like to make our friendship a priority.




What are your aspirations and inspirations? Share your vision by joining the growing community of women inspired in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #womeninspired. With your long-term goals in mind, do you have any financial challenges you want to tackle?


37 comments:

  1. Your list sounds a lot like mine! For me, now, it's living in the present and not allowing my weightloss project/midlife makeover to dominate my life. I'm healthy enough now that I need to get used to living this way and not worry so much about every little thing.

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    1. Living in the present is hard for me, too! I let my worries take over sometimes, and that's something I'd love to work on.

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  2. These are very worthwhile aspirations! But I have to ask, wouldn't some of your financial worries be alleviated if you considered getting a job now that your kids are in school? Even a part-time income would go a long way toward an emergency fund/greater financial security.

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    1. That's definitely something that has been on my mind! It's a tough situation because of Jerry's work schedule (he has a swing shift, and works very strange hours); but I was thinking that maybe in the fall, I could find somewhere to pick up a couple of day shifts while the boys are in school.

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  3. Love this post! I have anxiety and have had it for as long as I remember I am not one to just go with the flow I need a plan schedule etc. However I am working on getting better at just going with the flow of things. I am switching jobs the end of next month following a dream job I have wanted since childhood. Scary leaving my good paying office job but I know the pros outweigh the cons.

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    1. I'm going through something similar right now, and I know how scary that is! I always play it safe, but I feel like I may be missing out on things because of that. Best wishes on the new job!

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  4. You just took the words right out of my mouth! Are you secretly reading my mind? ;) I have those same worries and fears. Anxiety is so hard to live with and escape from.

    I am struggling so much right now. I find it hard to figure out what to believe? Organic with it or not? Are normal cleaners really that harmful or do I need to go Non-Toxic? I want what is best from my family, but I find myself second guessing every single decision I make.

    Reading your posts is one of the highlights of my day!

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    1. Thanks so much! :) I struggle with all those little decisions as well. It's hard to know what the "right" answer is. I second-guess things too!

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  5. One of the things I would tell you to do right now (if you haven't) is get a term life insurance policy for each of you. I have had two friends widowed in their 30s, and insurance made a huge difference in how they each were able to handle it. We have 500k policy each, and it costs us $60/month, and I couldn't believe how relieved I felt when we got that established. I hope that we never, ever use that policy, and if that's the case, it's the best money we have spent. I went through SelectQuote and they were great, but you may have a local broker. (I am not an insurance salesperson! Just really glad that I have it.)

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    1. Thanks Gretchen! Life insurance is another of those "I'll worry about it later" things, but I know I would have peace of mind if we just do it. It's something I hate thinking about, but I know it's important. That's so sad about your friends!

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    2. Th woman who started the charity I am running the marathon for just lost her husband at the age of 55. No life insurance. That's the best place to start. Jerry's job doesn't offer any plans?

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  6. I would also suggest term life insurance, particularly for Jerry since he is the income you rely mostly on right now. Make sure it is term and not whole life. You only need it for a period of time.

    You could also consider doing something like dog walking/ pet sitting for extra income right now. That would be great to incorporate getting outside and exercise in while earning. It might also be something that you can do with your boys as long as it is okay with the owners.

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    1. Life insurance is also something I need to research. I had no idea there were different types (term vs. whole). It's kind of overwhelming!

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  7. I love this post! Financial planning is a goal of mine. I'm weak in that area and that's one thing I could really improve on. I save money. I have 401k's... But I don't think it's enough and I don't know where to turn to figure it out. And another weakness is letting time pass without doing anything about things like this. I really need to work on that!

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    1. I'm in the same situation! I don't really understand investments, and I always think, "I do it later"... but I'm not getting any younger ;)

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  8. What great goals! In college, one of my professors shared he believed that our growth zone is outside our comfort zones. I think it's true-- when we're stretched (like you said) even when it hurts-- that's when we're growing.

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    1. Definitely! I didn't really start reaching goals until I did things that were uncomfortable. It's scary, but effective!

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  9. This was a great post. Like you, it's taken me a while to entirely accept who I am and then a bit longer to branch out in order to experience new things. I'm a very shy, introverted person but traveling alone has helped me engage with total strangers in a meaningful way, which then helps me engage with friends and family more easily. I was at a restaurant in Budapest, alone, and when another (random, unknown) solo traveler came in I asked if he wanted to join me for dinner. We both ended up really enjoying the evening. He taught me about urban planning (his profession), I gave him some tips on surviving long term solo travel (I had been on the road, alone, for 10 months at that point). It's something, just a year earlier, I NEVER would have done.

    Your random acts of kindness are very inspiring. I've made a goals list and on it is to do something extra nice for someone every month. Additionally, this year I've taken to heart the phrase "Be Generous", similar to how you approached Mark. Everything about that was generous and I want to live a life of generosity towards others. So.. I wrote a few extra generous checks for graduations, and baked pies for work and tried to be a very, very amazing host when my friends came to town.

    As for financial goals, I really want to start investing. I have decision paralysis though. There's so much information out there that I become overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. I probably just need to hire a financial adviser and have that person tell me what to do.

    Anyway, great post!

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    1. I love that story of you having dinner with a stranger! That sounds like it would be so fun and interesting. Traveling solo like that is something I wish I'd done after school. I hope that my kids will do it before settling down :)

      I also love your "Be generous" attitude. I'm going to start thinking of what I can do as well!

      And I'm totally clueless about investing, but I'd like to do that. I'm hoping Prudential can help get me started!

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  10. This is a great post! I am working towards making myself a better person. (Frankly, everyone should be doing this all of the time - there will ALWAYS be room for growth and improvement). Almost all of that growth is coming from outside of my comfort zone. Thanks for the reminder!

    PS - I'm sending you an email, Re: anxiety. I've been thinking about it for awhile and I'd like you to take a look. (Just doing THAT is out of my comfort zone - LOL!)

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    1. I love to write and work on goals! Even if I don't complete them, I feel like a better person for trying :)

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  11. I love this post! I sound a lot like you with the goals I have to. I've been in my current job for 7 years and my goal right now is to look at other things to figure out other options for me. I like my current company but I don't know what else I can do here. For your financial goal, I've had a similar goal in the past and I use a program called YNAB (You need a budget). Google it. The best money I've spent. It works great and is so helpful showing you what you are spending. I don't work for them, I just like it that much.

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    1. I think it's awesome that you're going to explore other options--best wishes with that!

      And thanks for the YNAB suggestion. I'm going to check it out!

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  12. We used what little savings we had over the past year when my husband was unexpectedly laid off....thankful we had it, but now we are struggling to keep up month to month. SO I completely understand your goals and fears when it comes to finances. I am totally overwhelmed too. How on earth do you plan for the future when you barely make it through today? I have a goal to worry less about it as well, of course I cant ignore it, but I do not want to let it consume my life.

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    1. Wow, thankfully you had that savings to fall back on--I'm so sorry about your husband's job. That's a worry of mine, also, because if Jerry gets laid off, we won't last a month. And yes, it's so hard not to worry about it--we know it doesn't help to worry, but it's nearly impossible not to!

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  13. Great post Katie! Thank you for your openness, honesty, and for practicing vulnerability. I need to see examples of that to help me out....

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    1. Thanks for reading Steve! Sometimes I find that sharing this kind of stuff helps me to stay on course with my goals :)

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  14. Katie, check out the blog The Simple Dollar. Lots of great info on there about all things financial. Plenty of tips on how to start small and build savings, credit card info, travel info, life insurance info, investing information, ways to make extra money, everything you can imagine. I have no connection to it, just discovered it and really like it.

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    1. That is a lot of great info! Thanks for sharing!

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  15. Great list! I need to work on mine! :)
    I know you've mentioned finding a part time job in the comments... I could totally see you become a running coach. I'd hire you in a heartbeat if you lived nearby! A woman here started coaching a group for plus sized women who want to start running and it seems to be very popular... :)

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    1. I would LOVE to do something like that, particularly coaching plus sized women (or total beginner runners). That is definitely on my radar of possibilities! I have my running coach certification, but I've always been intimidated about actually coaching (again, I need to step out of my comfort zone, haha)

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    2. I think you'd be great, especially since you've been plus sized before! If you ever want to try long distance coaching, let me know! :)

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  16. I don't know how else to put this but just to be honest- PLEASE, for your children's sake, consider getting life insurance and starting a savings account. The amount of overwhelmed you feel at the thought of saving money is NOTHING compared to what you AND your children would feel if God forbid something happen to put your family in a financial burden. You can't afford NOT to save. I just cannot stress how important this is.

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    1. It was never a conscious choice NOT to do it--it just seemed like the time flew by so quickly, and we kept saying, "Oh, we need to take care of that soon...". But yes, that is our top priority right now.

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  17. I swear you read my mind and then wrote this post. I would do anything to not have such bad anxiety. Mostly because of how frustrating it is to try to get "normal" people to understand that I just can't "forget about it". I could rip my hair out when someone says that, even if they are just trying to help.

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    1. I hate that, too. If I could turn the anxiety off like a light switch, I would have done it years ago! It's so hard to explain to people who don't experience it themselves.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)