Getting Around to Goals

This new year felt different than years past. Maybe it was because I went right back to work the next day, but I barely had the time or desire to be introspective. The resolutions seemed unnecessary, because it didn't feel like anything had changed. Also, I don't think I made any resolutions at the beginning of last year, so I didn't have anything to measure up to. I learned a while back about SMART Goals, but always thought the method seemed a bit gimmicky. However, as someone who makes lists more often than she makes meals and firmly believes list-making is the key to getting shit done, I thought I'd give it a try. I won't post all the gory details I went into in the three hours it took me to hash these out, but here are my 2015 goals.
1. Improve finances. Save 20% of income each month. Learn about investing and start a portfolio with a small amount of money. Look into Roth IRAs.
2. Improve skin. I've been blessed with the dreaded combination oily/dry acne-prone skin (yeah...still...) and have never really managed to get it under control probably because I have been a lazy bum my whole life about getting into good skin habits. Goals: Less picking/nervous face-touching. Find a dermatologist. Get into the habit of moisturizing daily. Wash your damn make-up off every night.
3. Get healthier. I know that doing even just a tiny bit each day leaves me feeling less stressed out. Develop a routine (even for weekends). Buy at least one vegetable you don't usually eat per grocery trip and figure out a delicious recipe to prepare it. Take at least one dance class this year (see #1 to save up for it).
4. Make two new non-work friends. This sounds so sad, but I have no idea where or how to meet people in a new place.
5. Volunteer locally. I always have and it feels weird not to be volunteering in the community. Also, it's pretty likely this would help with #4.

Also, I am looking for your best resources on achieving these goals, so if you have apps, spreadsheets, advice/finance/skin blogs, peer-reviewed favorites or anything else that are your go-to on these subjects, then please do pass them along! Goodness knows I'm going to need all the help I can get.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Did any of you read these books when you were younger? A Series of Unfortunate Events used to be one of my favorite series, but sadly before I could get to the end (pun definitely intended), too much time had passed between the releases and I found that I had lost interest just enough that I didn't finish them.

Just before the holidays, however, I found out that a work friend had the complete set, and couldn't pass up the chance to re-read and finally finish this beloved series. There are definitely some aspects of the style that I find mildly annoying as an adult and the font size seems comically large, but more or less, re-reading them has been as charming and pleasant as I remembered; overall, a wonderful experience (contrary to what the author tells you at the beginning of each book). And hey, now, even if I don't read another book all year, I can still truthfully say I read ten books this year!

Do you have books you go back and revisit?


Tuesday Tunes!

It's that time again! Since we last spoke, Taylor Swift's 1989 and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness's self-titled album have come out, and I have been nothing short of enamored of both. The stories of Mugdha and these two artists are just stark opposites. I got into Taylor Swift the hard way {read: spent a lot of time hardcore in denial before deciding it wasn't worth it to pretend I didn't like her music (which, why do we do that to ourselves/each other? Ain't no shame in enthusiastically enjoying stuff, people!)}, but this album was especially good, I think. In contrast, Andrew McMahon has been a staple in the AVM household since way back in 2002 and I have so many t-shirts and pictures and memories and various keepsakes from the years of fandom that I would probably have a panic attack trying to count them. My point is, old music, new music, sugary pop, or piano rock, if it makes ya feel good, shout that you love it from the rooftops! Without further ado, Tuesday Tunes!

1. "I Know Places" - Taylor Swift**
2. "Cecilia and the Satellite" - Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
3. "The Hanging Tree" - Jennifer Lawrence (from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I)
4. "Desire Lines" - Local Haunts
5. "Find Love" - Stepdad

**(this is my favorite song on the album, but I can't for the life of me find a stream of the original song, grr)


Veterans Day

First of all, Happy Veteran's Day! Big thanks to those brave men and women who fight to protect our country and people. I hope I am not being insensitive or making light of the magnitude of what our veterans do for us, but I thought this would be a good time to highlight two other issues (of public health) that are extremely near and dear to me.
The first is mental health. We know that veterans experience an extreme change in their social, physical, and emotional demands upon return from active duty. Due to these changes and higher chances of physical and emotional trauma in the field, veterans are at very high risk for developing mental health problems (including PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, among others) that impact their relationships, ability to re-integrate, and their general health. While there are many important actions being taken to improve the state of mental health in this country, the rate at which progress is occurring is slow. Please consider making a donation to your local VA Hospital today or calling your newly elected congressperson to highlight the importance of improving mental health care (not just for veterans, but for everyone) and decreasing stigma surrounding it.
The second is vaccination. What does vaccination have to do with Veterans Day, you ask? Good question. Let me ask you this: Why do we support our troops? Naturally, the answer is because they fight to protect us and our freedoms. In short, we respect and value their sense of civic duty, and their commitment to protecting their country. Vaccination is really fulfilling this same civic duty on a smaller scale. Veterans put their lives at risk constantly, which makes them a full three or four tiers more reverable than those of us who get vaccinated (for which the risk of long-term adverse effects is literally one in millions), but by doing so, you or your child are protecting others in your community who are not able to get vaccinated. You are, in a sense, performing a service to your country and to your community because you are capable, so those who can't perform that service (the elderly, very young children, people with chronic illness, people with poor immune systems) are still safe and protected. I know that as vaccines become more common, we don't see many of the diseases they prevent, but losing that high level of vaccination in the community makes all of us vulnerable, much the same way that lapses in national security do. For every story I've heard about someone that had an adverse event after vaccination (whether caused by the vaccine or not), I've seen countless videos of babies blue in the face from coughing with pertussis and feverish and listless covered in measles rash. It's not just a matter of protecting yourself and your own children, but a matter of civic duty. Doing your part to your community and for your friends. So I urge you, there are an abundance of sites out there trying to give accurate information about vaccines. One of my favorites is the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Learn everything you can about these diseases and their vaccines and get yourself and your child vaccinated today.
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