At the end of July, I followed through on my plan to increase my savings. Still, I couldn't resist the urge to make an extra payment on my student loans because I had a relatively small payoff amount on one of my loans. It was a great feeling to cross another loan off my list and contribute a large chunk of change to my savings in the same month.
I've got 10 weeks left here in Tokyo, so I'm trying to keep my eyes wide open and soak it all in. This will be over in a flash! I'm also trying to start planning for my return to the States. So far, this has amounted to searching for apartments online with uninspiring results. I feel a lot of pressure to get things right with my next move--I want to leave this nomadic chapter of my life for a more settled period, but I am having trouble translating that abstract idea into specific wants or action items. To help with this, I'm going to take a few minutes to jot down some ideas here.
- To stop moving every year. To do this, I need to find a place in a practice area or office that has enough work to enable me to make the expected billable contributions and learn and grow as an attorney.
- To give myself permission to establish traditions and celebrate holidays. For a decade, I haven't bought a Christmas tree, baked Christmas cookies or carved pumpkins because it's seemed wasted on a household of one. (Frankly, it also sometimes feels silly, as an adult, to want to participate in these kid-centric activities.) I've been waiting for the day I have my own family to rekindle these traditions. At this point, the sadness I feel when missing out on holiday traditions outweighs any perceived waste. (This should probably be expanded to include planning an annual vacation.)
- To work on/invest in my relationships. I'm concerned about my relationship with Ben and having a lot of trouble getting him to discuss where things stand. I'm not sure what the problem is here. I still want to move back to Austin and live together and he talks like that's true for him too, but his actions aren't consistent with his words. My relationship with my family is great and I'm so looking forward to my reunion with C & B (my pups), but this goal mainly has to do with working on friendships. Some of the most valuable experiences I've had in Japan include a re-education in forging friendships and a reminder of how nice it is to have social time on the calendar.
- To connect with my community. I think that a feeling of connectedness with people or, more broadly, my community is something that helps me feel happy. This connectedness--I think--is part of what made college a lot of fun. It's why I enjoy the Tokyo office, where there is a community of young associates, more than my home office. Some of this has to do with the previous bullet point (friendships), but I also think it's about feeling like a part of something bigger than yourself. I would like to volunteer for a literacy program or volunteer as a board member for a non-profit (the latter would be difficult because the firm asks us to refrain from board membership in connection with the firm's risk management policy). I also think that finding a local yoga studio and favorite park where I could walk the pups would help.
- To grow my own vegetables and herbs. In the immediate future, this will probably materialize in the form of a few potted herbs on a balcony, but, one day, I'd love to have some raised flower beds with veggies too. It would be a dream come true to have a couple citrus trees!
- To take better care of my health. This last year I've been terrible to my body. I haven't gotten much exercise and have slept on my office floor (or not slept at all). I've had many days when my only meal was a late-night trip to the 7-11 in the office building (before you get too grossed out, let me assure you that the food quality in Japanese 7-11s is better than what we see in the US). I am so fortunate to be in good health despite all this. Moving forward, I want to exercise and eat better. This isn't so much about looking better, but about feeling better and treating my body with some respect. Exercise, particularly dance, is fun for me so I'm not anticipating a problem there. Eating well is more difficult, but I'm hoping to leverage how much I've missed cooking and American groceries to jumpstart some good habits.
- To cook my own meals and bring lunch to work. Lately, I've been collecting a bunch of online recipes that I want to try when I get home. I want to be more deliberate about what I'm eating, doing some menu planning and preparing some staple items on Sundays. It is difficult to cook for just one person, but I think buying some tupperware and returning to my Cooking for Two recipe books from America's Test Kitchen will help with this.
- To have all my debt paid off by November 2015. I am on track to meet this goal and have a detailed Excel workbook that proves it's possible!
That's it for now. Time to get ready for work.