About Me · stories

The sound of traffic.

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by the idea of living in a house that was on a main road. I thought it would be so cool to be able to step outside and watch cars rush by all the time, instead of only seeing the neighbors drive by slowly like we did at my parents’ home in a suburban development. Whenever we passed a house that had a front porch that was on a busy street, I wanted to move there. My parents thought I was nuts – they knew about the many impracticalities of living directly next to street traffic, like getting in and out of the driveway and hearing the cars all day and night – but I still held onto this weird little dream.

The apartment complex I’m in now is just off of a pretty busy U.S. highway, with two lanes of traffic both ways and a 55mph speed limit. While there is a parking lot and a little bit of landscaping that separates the building from the road, we’re close enough that I can see and hear it from my balcony. This was completely unintentional, though I like to imagine the universe was giving my childhood self a gift. It’s incredibly soothing to me, especially at night – I could easily spend an hour sitting outside, watching the cars go by. In the springtime, when we have the windows open at night, I fall asleep listening to the rhythm of traffic – there are two stoplights lights on either side of the apartment complex, so there will be a stillness when the lights are red, followed by the hum of motors as the lights turn green.

Pinpointing why I’m so enthralled with this has been an interesting examination of myself. I think it stems from my discomfort with both stillness and solitude, or more specifically, isolation. While I do enjoy the quiet noises of nature sometimes, I prefer constant movement or noise, especially in the background. Cars driving by on a constant basis provides exactly this. I like having something to focus on, even when I’m taking time to relax. Watching traffic gives me a passive activity to do while my I sit on the balcony and take in the fresh air.

My preference for observing traffic at night has to do with avoiding isolation. Sometimes, as a night owl, as it gets later and later I start to feel like I’m the only one awake. Yes, I know that there are other people awake at any hour of the day (especially thanks to the internet and having friends in different time zones), but seeing or hearing a car go by at 2am is a physical reminder of that fact. So is passing a house with lights on when I’m coming home late from someone’s house, or seeing a fast food restaurant or store open 24/7, or walking through Times Square in NYC at any ungodly hour, all of which bring me that same peaceful feeling. Put simply, it’s the feeling of knowing I’m not isolated in my experience. I’m not the only human who stays up until 2am sometimes.

Most people would hate to live within earshot of a highway, but I have always cherished it. It’s why I could never live anywhere but the suburbs or a city – the slow, quiet lifestyle in other parts of the country that people find relaxing simply don’t suit me. I need the cliched hustle-and-bustle, the 24/7 reputation, as my reminder that I am never alone.

About Me · Goals

Step by step.

pexels-photo-58457

When I was growing up, I loved all things that involved following instructions. I was the girl who got Lego sets and, after carefully organizing the pieces into piles based on color, size, and shape, would follow the instructions step-by-step. There was no desire to use my imagination – I was satisfied by having a completed structure that mimicked the one on the box.

I got a lot of craft kits as a kid, but again, they involved little creativity. My jam was ANYTHING color-by-number, whether that be coloring books, those plastic stained-glass sun catchers, or my favorite (and I hope someone else knows what I’m talking about): the paper sand art where you peeled each section to reveal a sticky background and covered it with the appropriate shade of sand. Man, I wonder if I can still get those at Michaels?

This also explains my adoration of baking and my general disinterest in cooking. (“Flavor to taste” is not a unit of measurement, thank you very much.)

In my adulthood (HAHA, what’s that?), I have found this to be an issue for the simple fact that life doesn’t come with instructions. Many of the responsibilities that we undertake as adults – budgeting, grocery shopping, wedding planning, etc. – don’t come with any guidelines. Sure, you can ask Google for the answers, but that isn’t always straightforward.

Same thing goes for goal-setting. See, if someone gave me a list of things I had to do along with how to do them, I’d be totally set. But coming up with that list myself? It’s a struggle.

This means my goals are usually not task-based. They’re abstract: drink more water, exercise more, read more, get on a better schedule. I don’t follow a budget, I just do my best to avoid impulse shopping and don’t buy things unless they’re absolutely necessary. Theoretically, I know I have to carve out time and create a schedule to complete these things… but I don’t. Because I have little practice in being creative, even when “being creative” means drafting a daily timeline of activities.

So, when you ask me what my goals are this year, this is my big one: make an attempt to organize my life. This means sitting down and physically writing in my planner what time to go to bed, what time to wake up, when to stop eating at night, and dedicating certain days or certain hours of the day to specific activities. In addition to that, I have a couple of actionable goals, some measured and some not:

  • Reading one book a month (my Goodreads goal is 15 books, because I’m ambitious and hope to read two books in three of those months)
  • Blogging once a week
  • Exercising daily, even if it’s just a little bit
  • Bring lunch to work whenever possible and cut down on Dunkin and Starbucks trips
  • Stop! Impulse! Shopping!

If I can force myself to sit and come up with a super detailed plan, as silly as that sounds, it might actually help me feel a little more in control of my life.

Do you love following instructions or do you approach everything with creativity?

About Me · Goals

Learning to be present.

whereveryouaresource

I’m a planner by nature.

Planning for and anticipating an event is part of the fun for me. Figuring out what outfit I’ll wear, what nail polish to pick (and always, stupidly, apply ten minutes before leaving), and what food to make are fun. Writing to-do lists and having a schedule of tasks leading up to an event help me channel my anxious energy. Always having something to do next lets me go on autopilot and never stop moving. Having an empty weekend, except the part where I get to sleep forever, makes me uncomfortable.

The problem I have is the lack of being present. I’m always thinking, what’s next? Right now I’m thinking of the ten things I have to do before bedtime, what I have to bring to my parents’ house tomorrow after work, and stressing about all of the unplanned details for my birthday party on Saturday. I’m not ‘here’ right now, mentally, and so I’m never relaxed until I fall asleep at night.

I do this at work, too. Our company went through a lot of changes this summer and there is always something to do, so I just go go go until the clock strikes 5:30. Usually I break for lunch, sometimes I don’t. Today I had to force myself to stop and make a cup of coffee at 2pm.

Being still is not my strength. Being still means the opportunity to actually think and process and feel things. Being busy numbs me from that, from the anxiety and the uncontrollable overthinking that pulls apart every insecurity and gives me fifty ways I’m a screwed up human. But that also seeps into the good things that I try to enjoy fully, but can’t. I won’t let myself sit and watch a movie with Erik, and sometimes it’s difficult to shut my brain off when I’m trying to enjoy the company of my friends. If you’re doing something to drown out the bad – something that is taking your focus away from reality – then it’s going to affect the good, too.

Born from all of that is my word for 2017, a word that I always brushed off and never paid attention to: intentional. Yeah, okay, I need to be more intentional. I need to “be here now,” blah blah blah. I always overlooked this word that’s everywhere. Until this year, when I was working on Holiday Council work, and it kept coming out of my pen in almost every prompt.

This year I will do my best to be intentional. To be present. To be here, now. Not in my head, not thinking about tomorrow or Saturday or next month’s calendar full of events. Not constantly hopping from one thing to the next thing to the next. Just where I am, right now, no matter where that happens to be.

Are you good at being present? Do you constantly think about the next things coming up on your agenda, or do you savor the moment? Any tips on staying in the moment?

About Me

Well hello there.

first-blog-post

Long time, no see!

For those who are new to this blog, my name is Cait and I have been blogging here at Finding Her Balance since around 2008. For those who know me, after not posting too much in the past two years, I decided to start fresh (same blog name, different platform) and give it another go.

A few personal tidbits about myself: I live in New Jersey, where I was born and raised, with my fiancé Erik. We’ve been together for 6 years, living together for just about 2 years, and engaged for 3 weeks. I work in the accounting department for a company that owns fast food franchises, which is crazier than you might expect. For fun, I like to bake, craft, binge-watch whatever’s on Food Network, and watch hockey with Erik. I’m on the verge of my 30th birthday (on January 8) and I’m looking to take a little more ownership of my life this year. More on that in a later post.

For those who are not new, you read that word ‘fiancé’ right: Erik and I got engaged just a few weeks before Christmas! We are still basking in the glow of excitement and not getting too bogged down in the planning process yet, but we’re prospectively looking at May 2018. In addition to that, we are planning on moving into another apartment when our lease is up in April, even though the prospect of moving and then planning a wedding this year makes me want to break out in hives. But, better to move this year instead of waiting until next year, as next year it would mean moving mere months before we’re looking to get married.

Upcoming posts will include wedding planning details, daily life recaps, goal-setting and self growth, and any other ideas that pop into my brain. I’m hoping to channel more of my creativity this year, so perhaps I’ll have some DIY posts on things I create. I hope you’ll stick around and see!

And now a request – say ‘hi’ in the comments and tell me something fun about yourself! Examples: your latest accomplishment, big or small; your favorite TV show; a quirky personality trait or habit that you have.