Ways to Stay Productive and Focused on Busy Days

November 28, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWayToVeg #CollectiveBias

Is anyone else totally struggling with the fact that it's pitch black outside by 5:15 p.m.?!  I love winter, but the lack of sunlight is hard to deal with for sure.  With the hours of actual daylight getting shorter, I always find my energy levels draining throughout the day, earlier than they do in the summer.  As I mentioned before, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day to get John off to work and then I do chores around the house until I leave for work at a law firm downtown at 7:15 a.m. and I work until 5 p.m.  I have to stay motivated and productive if I don't want to crash midday so I do everything I can to stay energized and healthy.  Here's my top 5 strategies for getting through my busy days:

My Year Round Capsule Wardrobe

November 22, 2016

I've posted about my wardrobe before, specifically about how few pieces I have, but I've never given an overview of exactly how many and how I wear them.  I figured I would show why it's so easy for me to get dressed in the morning now that I've limited my options so much.  As someone who wore a uniform to school most of her life, I've never enjoyed buying clothes or picking out outfits.  Since I can't have a personal stylist come dress me each day, creating a year round very condensed capsule wardrobe was definitely the way to go.

Holy Grail Products: An Update

November 18, 2016

Do you have a holy grail makeup or skin care product that you'd never give up?  How about one in each category?  Because that's my goal.  I hate wasting money, so one of my goals on my 101 in 1001 list was to find my 'holy grail' status products in each makeup category as well as for skin care and hair care.  Personally, when I find something I really enjoy, I stick with it and don't feel the need to buy more things to try, thus saving me money.  Eyebrow pomade, for example.  I found one I love and now I never look at eyebrow products when I'm in a store.  Foundation, however, is something I keep trying and buying in the hopes that something better is out there.  It's been quite a process trying to figure it out and I'm still working on it.  But I thought it was about time for an update, and see if you have any recommendations for me in the remaining categories!

5 Things I Do At Night To Make Mornings Easier

November 16, 2016

I have never in my life been a morning person.  Like, I wouldn't even get up on Christmas morning (I'm an only child, not like everything wasn't for me anyway!), my mom had to drag me out of bed.  I didn't wake up early to watch cartoons, I got to school at the last minute, and when I started college I made sure to schedule all afternoon classes.  In fact, the only times I would actually get up early were to tailgate.  Mornings just weren't my thing.  Until this year.  Because now, and for the past 6 months, I get up at 4:30 a.m.  Yes, you read that right.  4:30 a.m.  It's when my alarm goes off and I'm out of bed at 4:31 - there's still a tiny struggle, I admit.  But there's no time for snoozing when I have to get up, let the dog out, make John breakfast, make his lunch while he eats breakfast, and help him get out the door just before 5:00 so he makes it to work on time.

Three on Thursday

November 10, 2016

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Back to Thursday, back to business as usual.  Let me be clear, this blog is business as usual.  Life is most certainly not.  But I don't talk politics on this blog, I did vote (I'm super embarrassed for anyone who proudly 'doesn't vote'), I didn't vote for Trump or Clinton, and so many other bloggers have posted many thoughts on the topic, eloquently enough that I don't feel the need to personally add to that narrative.  And although I do post about the times I get nervous in real life and emotional meltdowns over my hair, the serious(ish) posts are few and far between and instead you come to this blog for lightheartedness, simplicity, and a tiny bit of organization in a chaotic world (at least I hope you do), and that's what we're doing today.

So welcome back to a post of my weekly (and all time) top three favorites that I think you should do, try, or buy.  If you've missed any prior weeks and want to catch up, just check here.  

The Thing I'm Most Terrified Of (and Proud Of)

November 1, 2016

November 1st.  It brings the end of Halloween season (my favorite holiday) but it also brings my birthday month, so I usually get into celebration mode about now.  Might as well celebrate the entire month, right?  Treat yo self.  This particular November 1st is entirely different though - it brings the halfway point of John's 6 months in the fire academy.  This morning he took the national EMT test and he's officially done with that side of things.  Tomorrow he moves over to the 'fire side' where they break you down with massive amounts of PT, but also teach you the things you'll be doing the rest of your life, like, you know, running into burning buildings.  This is, on a not totally unrelated note, also the time I begin to freak out.

But let's back up a minute, in case you're totally confused.  I mentioned awhile back that John had officially started at the training academy for the Chicago Fire Department.  I might as well answer a few questions here about how that came to be, since he formerly worked for a union as a pipe insulator.  While he can go back to being a pipe insulator after his 9 month probationary period with the fire department, he knew it was never a full time career, so he had been taking police and fire tests for a few years, all around the north side of Chicago - but of course always hoping actual Chicago would open up soon.  A couple of years ago, it did.  Here's how the hiring process works: anyone can register and show up for the test.  It's just a basic knowledge test, think SAT but arguably easier.  Thousands and thousands show up for this.  20,000 in fact, back in December of 2014.  Once you pass (and let's be clear, almost everyone does.  2,000 failed out of 20,000) your name is added to a list, in random lottery order.  You get a letter telling you what your number is, so you can get a feel if it might be coming soon or if you need to find other employment - like the guys who got numbers like 10,872 or 17,102.  This is the first hiring Chicago has done for firefighters in many years.  For various political, financial, and legal reasons they were still calling guys off the last list, which was from 2006.  So John took that test in December and they started dolling out numbers in the spring of 2015.  From there, they called (I believe) 1 class in 2015, another early this year and then, as you know, John started in August.

Because John's number?  299.  Out of 18,000.  If that isn't a sign that he's supposed to be doing this, I don't know what is.  This is his dream job so we were very excited to get that letter.  It's also how we knew Chicago was the only option when house hunting, because city employees must have a Chicago address.  There were quite a few steps involved in getting from the test to the academy, like passing a background check and 'candidate physical ability test,' which took a few months, but he passed everything and waited for the call to start, which he got in late July (they're not big on notice.)  Since he's started, he's been learning EMT things, because firefighters are required to know how to perform basic life support until the paramedics arrive.

And now that's over.  No more tests and homework and books and studying, the things I've been familiar with all my life; now onto physical exhaustion and learning to squash basic human survival instincts to run into fires and save people you don't know.  You can probably tell that I don't understand the mentality behind this at all - if it's not an animal in danger, there's no way I'd jump in and save anyone from anything.  My flight or fight reflex is firmly in the flight camp (unless I'm drinking, then I'm feisty AF #letsbehonest.)

I may not understand it, but I'm still very, very proud of him.  The whole sexy firefighter thing aside, he is so good at this job.  He has no fears about this, he's at the top of the class in all the physical challenges, he's spending ride along days at firehouses getting tours from the chiefs - he's impressing a lot of people and should have his pick of houses after graduation (if he's top of the class, he can pick whatever house in Chicago he wants to go to.  He's determined to be #1 and I very much think he will be.)  I'm proud of how hard he's working and how easily it's coming to him.  I'm proud of how much he wants it and how he's willing to do whatever it takes.  And mostly, I'm very proud to be dating someone who will risk his life to save others, because that's a special kind of brave.

Regardless, I'm definitely starting to panic a bit now.  It gets more real as the training gets more intense, and I'll probably panic even more once graduation day comes in February and he actually starts working at a firehouse.  John is, of course, totally loving every minute of it and cracking jokes about how it'll be so easy to cremate him when he dies because he'll probably be halfway burnt to a crisp in a fire anyway, which, as you can imagine, is exactly 0.0% humorous at the moment.  (If you laughed, I'd normally applaud your morbid sense of humor but not right now, damnit.)

So that's my life currently - a daily mental battle between so proud I could burst and so terrified I could cry.

Also, he has to be clean shaven at all times because otherwise the mask won't properly seal.  So he looks 12 and keeps getting carded.  At least that part is funny.

As a side note to anyone who found this post because they were searching for details about the Chicago fire hiring process or what happens in the academy etc etc, please feel free to e-mail me.  I know lots of things now.

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