So, I didn’t win the $380 million Mega Millions jackpot. But all is good, because I wasn’t expecting to. Like most Americans, I don’t typically pay attention to the lotto unless the jackpots are large. I had no intention of buying a ticket until someone came around at work, collecting money and I figured I’d give it a shot. Plus, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf was having their quarterly open house (woohoo free seasonal coffee), so I just took the $5 I’d normally spend on my weekly coffee and put it towards my share.

Later on, Justin & I were at the grocery store, when we noticed the rather LONG line of people waiting to purchase a lotto ticket. J expressed interest in buying a ticket, and he owed me $5, so I bought another $5 ticket. I joked that if we won, our kids could be trust fund babies, and I’m pretty sure J wasn’t amused by that 😉 However, he did let out a chuckle when I corrected myself and said that Roxy could be a trust fund puppy.

8pm came and went, and I got the winning numbers from a friend. Truth be told, I didn’t even look at all my numbers. I gave my tickets a cursory glance, saw that I didn’t get the mega ball number, and set the ticket aside (although, I suppose I’ll scan them to see if I could even get $5 back). Worst case scenario – I’m out of $10 that probably wouldn’t have been spent productively anyways.

$380 million dollars is definitely not anything to joke about. I’m not even sure what I’d do with out, once I got the typical debt payoffs/travelling/charity donations out of the way. And honestly? I would be ok with even just a million dollars (post tax)! I’m only 28 years old and still have a long life ahead of me, so I wouldn’t retire with just a million dollars. And I really don’t want to retire. I think I’d be too bored at this point in my life.

However, I could take active steps towards fulfilling a lot of goals. I could:

  • Donate directly to organizations/charities near and dear to my heart.
  • TRAVEL – specifically SE Asia and the Americas.
  • Quit my job and really pursue a career that is mentally, emotionally and financially fulfilling for me
  • Pay off debts, specifically my student loans, so that I could…
  • Apply to grad school!!! Grad school has always been on my radar, but the cost of tuition has always been daunting to me. USC is high on my list of grad school options, simply because I’ve always loved the campus and they have a program specifically geared to my career of choice. Plus, I’ve always wanted to change my USC status from Legacy to Alumni =P
  • Get a second puppy! I love Roxy to bits, but I’d love for her to have a constant playmate. But owning a dog definitely isn’t cheap, and we spent quite a bit on her last year.
  • Finish renovations on our “new to us” condo. If I had extra cash, I’d pay the mortgage off completely.
  • Hmm. Maybe I do want the entire $380 million, or at least a large amount of that. Then BF could quit his job, and we could finally move out of SD! We’re only here b/c he owns property in SD and he has a stable job in a field he really enjoys (and is specific to a few cities around the nation). If I had my way, I’d be living in NYC or Chicago (or even near my parents in LA!)

Yikes. Now I’m getting ahead of myself. If anything, I appreciate how the lotto allows me to dream (and I dream BIG). Once someone else wins the jackpot, and I’m brought back down to reality, I realize what is really important to me. All of my dreams are feasible, eventually. But then I stop to prioritize them, and brainstorm how to achieve them NOW. There’s an item in particular on the wish list above that I’m trying to strive towards this year, and I’m absolutely certain that once I achieve it, everything else will fall into place =)

So far, 2011 has been full of laughter, love and cherished time spent with family and friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year, and I know that this is a sign of wonderful things to come!

My NYE was great. It was crazy, it was fun and 100% hectic (someone stole our cabs at the hotel, so we had to figure out who was good to drive and then deal with parking). Overall, it was worth it and the night culminated our group of friends ringing in the new year on a rooftop in Gaslamp.

Somehow, we managed to wake up early and drive home to spend New year’s morning with my mom (it was her birthday!) Then, we went to an amazing party at the W hotel in LA in honor of my BFF’s BF’s dirty 30 (did you get that?!)

I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I just have a really GREAT feeling about the upcoming year. For the first time in a long while, I’ve entered the new year surrounded by pure positive energy, and I’m just going to embrace it!

As for eating and spending, I was a bit indulgent. However, I don’t feel horrible about it at all! Carne Asada fries, a few drinks and korean bbq*? It’s all good. It was worth it because I was able to reconnect and celebrate with friends I wasn’t able to see for most of 2010. I’m giving myself a pass for the holiday, and I’m working on creating healthier habits for the new year.

I definitely don’t feel guilty about spending money on Korean bbq because 1. it’s delicious and 2. it’s sooooo much cheaper in LA than it is in SD!

2010 is coming to an end and I can actually say that I’m glad. While this wasn’t the case with 2009 (now considered to be one of my favorite years ever), I am waiting to welcome and embrace the new year. When I reflect upon the past year, a small part of me wants to cringe. This is definitely not to say that I don’t have any fond memories of 2010. It’s quite the contrary actually. There are many memories that are near and dear to my heart.

However, the things I let bother me, get under my skin…those are all things that I have the power to change in some way, shape or form. These things are so grating on my nerves because I’ve sat complacent for far too long. I’ve sat and complained. I’ve cried. I’ve stressed out to the point of emotional eating. I haven’t been given the amount of respect I know I deserve. I let the situation suck the life out of me, and have found it difficult to see any silver lining.

I’ve known that these things bother me, but I never did anything to make things better. It’s embarrassing to admit that these have been items on my New Year’s resolutions list for the past two or three years. At this point, I am not even allowing myself to complain. Complaining won’t help. I need to take initiative and make things right. I have the power to make things better. I want to be in a different place come December 2011. I want to be in a happy place.

The thought of making these changes is terrifying. But I know that they will be so beneficial to my mental, emotional and financial well being. And when that time happens, I’ll be so happy for a story to tell, to stop being so cryptic.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/an awesome Saturday!

Maligayang Pasko! Feliz Navidad!

So, tonight (thanks to the rainstorms Southern California is experiencing) I participated in my very first fitblog chat. I admit, I was nervous at first (and really had no reason to be!) I almost didn’t press enter on the very first intro tweet, but I’m glad I did. I was afraid that I wouldn’t “fit in” or something would be said that would trigger my insecurities, but it was great to be in a space where there were people that understood how I felt about some things.

All in all, a great first experience. We’ll see if I can continue to participate in future chats!

This blog has been on the back burner for far too long, but I’ve thought of it often. I took a break in October with the promise (to myself? to my 3 readers) of coming back in a few days and clearing the air. But I honestly had no idea what to say.

My blog reading began in 2008. I had gained 30 pounds and was trying to jump start a new fitness regiment. While at the local 24 hour one day, I looked at the list of available fitness classes. I saw Pilates. Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure WHAT pilates was. I’ve heard about it (even recalled an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. that mentioned it), but what was it exactly? So to Google I went, and upon searching for reviews on 24 hour fitness Pilates classes, I inadvertantly found Cara’s blog. So I read it, and was hooked. Through her blog, I found “big blogs” like Jenna’s, Tina’s, etc. and from them, other “smaller blogs”. Who knew that there was a whole blog world devoted to healthy living? Fact – I didn’t know what Google Reader was before I started reading Healthy Living Blogs!

So, I read and I read. Eventually I started logging all my meals and workouts on Sparkpeople.com and created a blogspot blog (a web address I can’t even remember) where I blogged for about a month.. I was motivated and I felt like I had found a support system. I considered myself to be a lurker on most blogs, but was posted on various Sparkpeople forums. Eventually, I lost the weight and was living a healthier lifestyle.

Somewhere along the way, I caught onto Personal Finance blogs. I began reading bloggers like Single Ma’s, FB and Give Me Back My Five Bucks and strived to become financially fit as well. Again, I started a blog and promptly abandoned it weeks later.

Eventually, I stopped reading blogs altogether. I wasn’t sure why at the time, but for some reason, I wasn’t drawn to them anymore. I let my Reader fill up and only glanced at it here and there. And then, just like that, I started reading them. I had gained some weight and was becoming too irresponsible with my money. And then, this blog was re-incarnated. I was at a loss,however, with what direction I wanted to take it in. I decided not to blog about PF because I wanted to keep this somewhat public. I wasn’t about to publicize it amongst my friends and family,but I wouldn’t go out of my way to hide it. So I decided to go forward with healthy living. And again, I was stuck. I had no idea what to say. Posting about my food and workouts made me nervous. I had ideas for posts in my head, but failed to blog about them because I kept playing the comparison game. My eats weren’t as healthy ( I don’t eat big salads, am allergic to nut butters and hate oatmeal – FOR SHAME!), my workouts were nothing compared to other bloggers( I don’t run sub 10 min miles, I couldn’t ride a bike to save my life,I don’t have money for a yoga studio membership, I don’t even wear Lululemon). I didn’t have helpful advice or interesting stories. There were so many blog cliques, how could I ever fit in?

Shortly before I stopped blogging again, the whole Marie Claire fiasco occurred. At first, i was fiercely defensive of the bloggers in question (and of the blog world). But, I began to realize that there was some truth in the story, if not necessarily about the “Big 6”. I thought back to my break away from blogs/sparkpeople, and I realized that while I was at my fittest/”healthiest” at the time, I WASN’T HAPPY. I was pushing myself too hard. I was constantly comparing myself to bloggers. I measured/weighed out every single morsel or bite of food I ate. If I slipped up and ate popcorn or nachos at the theater, I would get SO angry with myself. I emotionally ate, and subsequently fell victim to other disordered behaviors.I felt like I had to run races in order to be “healthy”. Thus, I ran a race i wasn’t ready for. I’d go on vacation, and if I didn’t have a gym available, I’d find the nearest Target/Wal-mart and buy a workout DVD to use inside our hotel room. And still, even on vacation, I logged every single bite. I wasn’t enjoying my food, I was feeling guilty about it. I wasn’t enjoying working out, I was pushing myself too hard. I was crying because I wasn’t good enough, or didn’t have enough discipline. I was perpetually cranky. Instead of recognizing how far I’d come (losing the weight, developing healthier habits), I had the mindset that it wasn’t good enough, that if I worked harder, I’d be better. Mixed in with an already low self esteem, I was starting to hate myself. It took me awhile to realize how unhealthy all of this was. I wasn’t myself. I was subconsciously trying too hard to be like everyone else. (The same occurred, on a smaller scale, with personal finance blogs. I tried so hard, but just like healthy living blogs, I would hate myself would I couldn’t be as disciplined as PF bloggers).

I’m much better now, but I still struggle sometimes. Blogs aren’t innately bad. I’ve learned a lot from them (delicious recipes, fun apps, useful websites such as Sparkpeople and Mint.com, etc). I just need to be careful with how they affect/influence me.

Which brings me to today. Why bother blogging if I don’t have anything substantial to say? But I do. I’ve decided to blog for me. If I want to talk about my workouts or something delicious I ate at a restaurant? I will. But I won’t force myself to. I can write about how much I spent here, there or everywhere…but I won’t HAVE to. There may or may not be a million posts about my dog.Or there might not. I won’t cry if I don’t have millions of readers. But most of all, I’m going to try my very hardest to do what’s best for me, without making comparisons to anyone else. I am who I am, without forcing myself into any one box.

Today, I am going to blog for ME. Who that is, I’m not quite sure, but I look forward to figuring that out. For now, I’m ok with having a blog that “lifecasts” rather than “mindcasts”. That could be subject to change later on, and that’s ok also. I’ll consider this a stepping stone into the world of blogging =) Hopefully, I’ll be able to find my voice, and my own niche in this huge community. There’s a lot of good in the blog community, and I would love to be part of that greater good. For every bad thing I’ve experience, I’ve experienced at least three more great things!

For your viewing pleasure – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. “The One with Rachel’s Other Sister” aka the first time I ever heard of Pilates!

Today, I turn 28 years old. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends.