10 Ways to Get Your Life in Order

Woman on Computer

One thing I struggled with for a long time was feeling out of control in every aspect of my life. I never seemed to have time to do anything all the way and as a result, my life was full of half finished goals and lots of stress and unhappy feelings. Being home for the past six months has been a great chance for me to reset and figure out what my priorities are. I added and subtracted some key things and now am much happier and healthier and finally feel more organized and prepared. If you are in the same place I was and are trying to get organized, I compiled a list of some of the key things I did/am still doing. Here are 10 ways to get your life in order.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if clicked at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.

10 Ways to Get Your Life in Order

Review Your Finances, Create a Budget and Stick To It!

Personal finances tend to ebb and flow for me. As a woman in my forties, I have always created budgets for myself but haven’t always been the best about sticking to them. Being home so much and therefore, spending less money has been a great way for me to actually stick to the budgets I create.

I use a couple of apps to help me out. Mint is one of them. Mint brings together all of your bank accounts and bills so you can manage all of your finances from one dashboard. I also use CreditKarma to monitor and check my credit score for free.

Move Your Body Regularly

Whether you go for a walk around you neighborhood, head to the gym or take your bike out for a spin, moving your body will have so many positive impact on your list. Exercising regularly strengthens your bones and muscles, improves your quality of sleep and mood and helps keep your thinking, learning and judgement skills sharp as you age.

I try to get 10,000 steps every day and have been meeting this goal regularly lately, which makes me very happy. I track my steps on a FitBit. An Apple Watch is another good option for monitoring physical activity. A good way to hold yourself accountable is to recruit a friend or family member to join in your physical activities.

Go to Bed at a Decent Hour

“Decent” is very subjective and is different for everyone. For me, a “decent hour” is 11pm.

We all know that sleep has many benefits. It reduces stress. Sleep can improve memory. It can lower blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Sleep also puts you in a better mood, one key to having a good day. Therefore, getting more sleep may be the most important in any list of ways to get your life in order.

The next step for this one is to get off my phone by 11pm as well so I don’t start scrolling and the next thing I know, it is 1am.

Log off of Social Media for Extended Periods of Time

Speaking of scrolling on social media cutting into sleep, this one will help with that. Not only does scrolling on social media prevent us from getting things done, it is also not great for our mental health at times. FOMO (fear of missing out) and feeling less than adequate after seeing other people’s best lives over and over can take its toll.

I am committing to logging off of all of my social media accounts – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – for 24 hours at a time, three times a month. It will be hard but it is necessary.

Create a Morning Routine

A good morning routine can be the difference between having a good day and a bad day. It sets the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us. Benefits of creating a morning routine include being less likely to forget something important you need to do during the day, reducing stress and eating healthier.

My morning routine includes making my bed, washing my face and applying skin care, SPF and make up to my face, getting dressed for the day, opening all of the blinds (and windows if it is nice outside) to let the natural light flow in, journaling for a bit and then making myself some green tea and a light breakfast. I also like to add a few puppy snuggles in if I can.

Journal

Journaling is a new habit for me but one that I really enjoy. Benefits of journaling include keeping your thoughts organized, improving writing skills and relieving stress. Journaling can also allow yourself to reflect, boost your memory and inspire creativity.

Journaling doesn’t have to be hard. I started by writing down threw things that I was grateful for each morning and then built my way up to more thought provoking prompts.

If you are looking for some inspiration to get started, you can check out a list of 25 journal prompts for women and beginners that I created when I started journaling here.

Declutter Your Living Space

I am notorious for having a cluttered home. I live alone and quite honestly, don’t care. However, now that I am working from home and have been spending almost 24 hours a day at home, I am realizing that I hate having so much stuff everywhere.

I am now tackling one room a week and my goal is to go through everything in each room and throw things away or donate items I no longer want/need/use. So far, I have gone through the bathroom, the bedrooms and the kitchen.

All of these spaces look so much better and make me happier when I am in them.

Organize the Apps and Photos on Your Phone

Anyone else have 20,000 photos on their phone, all in one, unorganized folder? Hopefully, it is only me.

In the past, organizing the photos on my phone was something I did a lot when I was sitting on airplanes. Strange, but true. It was the perfect way for me to pass the time without internet access. Unfortunately, since I haven’t traveled in almost a year, my photos folder has exploded and is now out of control. I have started to tackle it as I am watching TV was night. It is working but it is a very slow, tedious process.

Organizing the apps on my phone is an easier task. I try to delete the apps I no longer use often. I also check how much storage they are using and delete the data within the apps if they are taking up too much of my storage (Apple Podcasts app, I am looking at you!).

The good things is that I have a lot of storage on my phone so it isn’t like the old days when I would need to delete apps to take photos on my phone. However, it is still a good habit to get rid of the apps you are not using. Not only does it diminish clutter, it is also good for privacy since apps may track your activities and location too.

Read Books

Reading books can be such a great escape from day to day life. A good book will take me to another place and make me wish it never has to end. I used to be a voracious reader! I’d start a book, finish it in a day or two and then be looking for my next one. Unfortunately, I am no longer this way and it is something I am not proud of. I will read a book or two here and there but nothing consistent. I like being well read and knowledgeable about a lot of things.

If you struggle with this too, set a daily or monthly reading goal. Start small and build up if you can. My current goal is to read two books a month – one fiction and one nonfiction or self help/inspiration.

Create a Vision Board

Creating a vision board is something I have wanted to do for a while but kept putting off over and over. If you don’t know what a vision board is, it is a collage of images and words that that you should display in a prominent place to remind you why you do what you do every day. It should include images and words that spark your motivation and remind you of your values, goals, or dreams. It could also be filled with things that inspire you or leave you feeling happy.

A vision board is the perfect visual reminder of why you get up each morning and what you are working towards. It can focus your energy and help prioritize the things most important to you.

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How to Get Your Life in Order

10 Amazing Destinations for Solo Travelers

One thing I get asked about a lot is solo travel. I hear a lot of “I could never do that. I am not brave enough.” I don’t consider myself to be brave or particularly adventurous to be honest. So why do I travel solo? I do it because I don’t have someone to travel with regularly and I refuse to sit at home and let life pass me by while I wait for a travel companion that may never come.

To date, I have traveled on my own a couple dozen times and have some amazing and funny memories from these trips. I have found a peace in traveling solo, problem solving on my own and not having to please anyone else along the way.

If you find yourself contemplating taking a solo trip but are not sure where to start, I have some ideas for you! Below, I list 10 amazing destinations for solo travelers.

Three Things to Consider Before Booking a Solo Trip

In general, there are three things in particular that I consider before booking a trip as a solo female traveler. They are:

  1. Is the destination “safe” and how does the country treat women?
  2. What is the native language and will I encounter people on a regular basis who can speak some English?
  3. What is the transportation situation? Is renting a car or driver necessary or is public transportation easily accessible and reliable?

10 Amazing Destinations for Solo Travelers

Hawaii, USA

I know that Hawaii doesn’t seem like it would be an amazing destination for solo travelers but it is my favorite place to go as a solo traveler. I have been to Hawaii four times, three times solo. Yes, you will be surrounded by lots of couples and families. However, there is plenty of beach and pool space for everyone.

I like Hawaii because I feel very safe there. The weather is almost always nice. You will get the occasional rain shower but it means there is likely a rainbow to follow.

Renting a car in Hawaii is necessary but the rental process is easy and most of the driving is small towns and paved so it is easy. If you do go somewhere you are not comfortable driving (ie. the Road to Hana), join an organized tour and let an expert do the driving.

There are lots of restaurants with great food and the Hawaiian people are wonderful. I do encourage you to learn about the Hawaiian culture before you travel so you understand Hawaii’s history. It is key to respecting that culture while you are visiting.

Traveling the Road to Hana in Maui

Greece

I booked a trip to Greece in 2014 to meet up with some friends who were visiting there. While I spent several days with them on the island of Skiathos, I traveled through Athens, Santorini and Mykonos on my own.

I found exploring Athens and then traveling to and around the islands to be fairly easy, other than one evening when all of the ferries were canceled as I was trying to get from Mykonos to Santorini. The islands were small enough that I felt like I could walk around and see most of what I wanted to see, even without a car. There were restaurants everywhere with delicious Greek food.

Amazing Destinations for Solo Female Travelers
Oia in Santorini, Greece

Australia

Australia is a GREAT option for solo travelers. There is so much to see and do. The one thing to keep in mind is that Australia is a huge country, so you will need to pick and choose what you want to do.

I started my trip in Sydney where I met up with a couple of friends. We toured the opera house, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge and did the Coogee to Bondi Beach coastal walk. After a brief stop in Canberra to see a friend and her mom, I spent time on my own visiting Uluru and then scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.

I flew from place to place within Australia since the country is so big but when I was in different areas of the country, I was able to walk to restaurants for dinner each evening with no problems.

Croatia

While I traveled to and from Croatia on my own, I traveled through the country as part of an organized tour with Trafalgar. This was my second time traveling as part of an organized tour. I was much more comfortable with splitting off and doing my own thing this time. I did a lot of my own exploring and ate meals at restaurants I wanted to try this time.

I liked that my transportation around the country was taken care of. Croatia is filled with great people and good food. It has an interesting history as well. Dubrovnik. Split. Hvar. These are just a few of the places you should check out while you are there. While you’re at it, add Slovenia to your Croatian itinerary. Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries I have visited.

Italy

This one definitely isn’t a secret. I have been to Italy twice and definitely think it is a good option for solo travelers. Rome, Florence and Venice are all easily accessible by train. All of them are easily walkable too.

I would recommend going during the shoulder seasons (April and September or October) if you can to avoid the massive crowds. Also, make sure to plan ahead. I am all for going to a place and then deciding when to do things but Italy is not the place for winging it. If you want to check out the Colosseum, the Vatican and the museums in Florence, make reservations ahead of time so you don’t waste hours of your trip waiting in lines.

London, UK

London is my favorite international city to visit and definitely one of the most amazing destinations for solo travelers. It is also the first city I visited solo. I landed in London in 2013 to meet up with my Contiki travel group. It was my first time abroad and I never felt uncomfortable or unsafe, even with minimal travel experience.

There is so much to see and do in London. This is one city where the hop on and off tours buses are popular. I recommend joining one of them to start you visit so you can get the lay of the city and then plan to hop off and on accordingly.

New York City, USA

New York, New York! One of my favorite cities to visit. I have been there several times and still don’t feel like I have even scratched the surface on all there is to see.

Go to a Broadway show. Check out Times Square. Walk through different neighborhoods. Visit the Top of the Rock. Meander through Central Park. Explore the museums. Take the subway.

Your feet will be sore when you leave but it will all be worth it.

Chicago, USA

I can’t write an article about amazing destinations for solo travelers and not mention my favorite city – Chicago. Obviously since I live here, I love it and think it is a great place to live and visit. I admit to my biases.

There is so much to do here! Take an architectural cruise via a boat on the Chicago River. See the Bean in Millennium Park. Have a drink at the Signature Room in the former Hancock Tower. Step out on the ledges at Willis Tower. Go to a baseball game a Wrigley Field. hang out at one of the many beaches along Lake Michigan. Enjoy delicious food all over the city.

Chicago is also a great place for a girls’ weekend if you are looking into destinations for that as well.

A view of Millennium Park from Cindy’s Rooftop in downtown Chicago

Grand Cayman

There are a lot of great places to visit in the Caribbean. However, I am very picky because I do not like staying at all inclusive resorts. I think they are the worst for solo travelers to be honest because options are so limited and I tend to feel trapped on the resort. While many islands in the Caribbean are full of all inclusive resorts, one that is not is Grand Cayman. And therefore, I think it is a good option for solo travel.

I flew to Grand Cayman to finish my open water scuba diving certification. It seemed like a much more pleasant way to do it than in a local quarry in rural Illinois.

I stay at the Sunshine Suites, which was across the road from Seven Mile Beach. Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman is one of the nicest, most picturesque beaches I have been to. The sand it white and the water was clear. I did not rent a car but was able to use the buses to get around. They have some great restaurants worth checking out too. Diving was great too if you are a fan of scuba diving.

Alaska, USA

I visited Alaska as part of my quest to visit 50 states that I finished in 2018. I spent a week in Alaska, visiting Anchorage, Kenai Fjords National Park, Denali National Park and finishing my trip in Fairbanks (where it was 90 degrees F the day I left!).

I did not rent a car, instead choosing to utilize organized tours and the Alaskan Railroad to get around. I LOVED LOVED LOVED taking the Alaskan Railroad through the Alaskan countryside. I splurged and got a seat on the first car where food and drinks were included. The best part was the little balcony off the back of the train car. I spend a lot of time out there during the trip admiring the Alaskan scenery as it went by, looking for moose and breathing in the fresh air.

If you are going to Alaska, I highly recommend taking the train for at least part of your journey. You won’t regret letting someone else do the driving while you relax and gaze at the scenery.

Amazing Destinations for Solo Female Travelers

There you have my list. I hope it inspires you to go for it! Solo travel can be so rewarding. There are many benefits to traveling solo. You can check out some of them here.

As for me, I can’t wait to keep traveling solo. Some of the places I hope to visit soon include Switzerland, Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand and Japan!

I cannot wait to start planning and take off!

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Amazing Destinations for Solo Female Travelers

How to Make Friends as an Adult

Three Friends Walking

Have you looked at your life recently and wondered what happened to all of the friends you had in your 20’s and early 30’s? If you’re like me, many of them have gotten married and had babies. Others have moved away for new jobs or to be closer to their families. Other friendships just naturally drifted away. The thought of making new friends as an adult can be hard, especially if you are single. There are ways to do it though. Here are my tips for how to make friends as an adult.

How to Make Friends as an Adult

Travel Solo

Stick with me on this one. I know this sounds counter-intuitive but it works and it is a great way to make friends as an adult, particularly if you are single and female. I started traveling solo in my early 30’s and have met some amazing friends along the way. Solo travelers tend to naturally find each other, particularly when traveling through Europe. Sign up for food tours, stay in a hostel, visit museums and take the train or ferry versus driving a car on your own. These are all great places to meet other solo travelers and make friends while traveling.

Volunteer

Volunteering for an organization whose mission you are passionate about is another way to make friends as an adult. Women’s education is one cause I am very passionate about. By doing a quick Google search, I was able to find a local organization that educates girls in Kenya and Senegal. I contacted them and am now a member of their Audit and Finance committee. Everyone on the committee and board are volunteers and I have made several friends through our mutual passion for women’s education.

Take a Class

This option could be as simple as taking a cooking, writing or pottery class to starting a degree program at a local college or university. I have an unquenchable desire to learn new things and am always looking for answers to all of the things I question and wonder about. A few years ago, I earned my MBA and one of my closest friends today came from that experience. I have also met great women from sewing classes and various exercise classes I have taken over the years. A great way to find classes is by checking with your local part district or library.

Adopt a Dog

This one comes with a big commitment but if you are up for it, it can be a great way to make friends as an adult. Walking a dog gets you out of the house regularly and it’s a great way to have conversations with other dog owners who are out walking their dogs at the same time. You can also go to dog parks, where you will find other dog owners. The connections made from a dog park is where I met many of the ladies who eventually became members of the book club I was in. One of the women who started it started spreading the word at the dog park she took her pup to and ended up recruiting four or five other women from those meetings. Ten years later, these women are some of my best friends now. We’ve shared so many fun times and laughs over the years and I look forward to many more.

How to Make Friends as an Adult
My book club at a wedding – some of my favorite people in the world are in this photo.

 

Join the Vicariously Through You Facebook Group

Joining a Facebook group or two is another great way to meet people and make new friends. There seems to be a Facebook group out there for everyone and every thing – from travel, to entrepreneurs, to moms, to pet owners. You can probably find one on topics you’re interested in.

My favorite Facebook group is one I manage. The Vicariously Through You Facebook group is made up of successful, fun, diverse, open-minded women aged 35-50. The goal is to connect, support and cheer each other on. Careers. Dating. Money. Books. Food. Women’s Health. Exercise. It is all on the table for discussion.

We would love for you to join us! You can do so by clicking here. Once you are approved, make sure to introduce yourself so we can get to know you and feel free to post and comment on other women’s posts. We want to hear from you!

Want to read more? Check out a Letter to My Younger Self. You can also read about a recent date I went on here. Spoiler: It’s a funny story.

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How to Make Friends as an Adult

The Best Face Sunscreens for Rosacea

Best Facial Sunscreens for Rosacea

If you have rosacea and sensitive skin, you probably spend a lot of time researching and trying out new products to protect your skin. One of the most important ways to do that is by always wearing an SPF. I will admit that when I was younger, I wasn’t diligent about wearing sunscreen but over the past five years or so, it has become a part of my daily morning routine. Throughout those five years, I have tried a lot of different sunscreens. Some have been good, some have not. There are three that have risen to the top and that I repurchase over and over. These are the three best face sunscreens for rosacea.

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common skin condition that causes redness and visible blood vessels on the face. It can also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. The signs and symptoms may flare up for weeks to months and then go away for a while. Rosacea can be mistaken for acne, other skin problems or natural ruddiness. Triggers can include exposure to extreme temperatures, sunlight, exercise and alcohol consumption.

Rosacea can affect anyone but it is most common in middle-aged women who have light skin (that’s me!). There is no cure for rosacea, but treatment and lifestyle measures like limiting one’s exposure to sunlight can control and reduce the signs and symptoms. Therefore, wearing a facial sunscreen is very important for those with rosacea.

Best Face Sunscreens for Rosacea

Disclaimer: Please note that this post includes affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you click on a link at no extra charge to you. All opinions are my own. 

EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum 46 for Sensitive or Acne-Prone Skin

This sunscreen was recommended to me by my dermatologist. It is expensive but worth it. When I know I am going to be in intense sun for many hours, such as when I am in Hawaii, this is the sunscreen I prefer to wear. You can get it tinted or not, both versions work great. It doesn’t have a strong smell nor does it make my face feel greasy. It is $36 USD for 1.7 fl oz.

EltaMD

Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 30

The Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense from Paula’s Choice is relatively new for me. I started using it this summer. I have read and heard a lot about Paula’s Choice over the past year and have wanted to try their products for a while. I finally ordered some skincare items in the spring. The Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense was included in my order.

This is a light sunscreen (as advertised) and it is tinted. It doesn’t feel greasy nor does it have a strong smell. I haven’t noticed any impact to my makeup when I wear it over top of this sunscreen. It is $32 USD for 2 oz.

Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence

This is the sunscreen I have purchased the most over the past couple of years. It is also the one I use most for day to day. The issue for this one is that while I can order it from Amazon, it has to be shipped from Asia because it is not sold in the USA. Therefore, shipping takes a few weeks. It is worth the wait though.

The Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence is very light. It is not greasy. It has a very slight smell but it is not unpleasant. It is also the least expensive of the three I mention in this post. It costs about $10 USD for about 2 fl oz. Because shipping takes so long, I usually order two or three at a time.

Best Face Sunscreen for Rosacea - Biore Watery Essense

Two That Are Not Worth The Hype

Supergoop’s Superscreen Daily Moisterizer

I put this on and spent the rest of the day looking forward to nighttime so I could take it off. It was really heavy and SO GREASY! I hated the way it felt on my face. I hear about this brand all the time and was excited to try it. This may just be the wrong product for me though. It looks like they may have some lighter sunscreens that may be more of what I prefer so I might try one of them in the future. If I do, I will let you know my thoughts. This product is $34 USD for 1.7 oz.

COOLA Organic Classic Daily Face Sunscreen Lotion

I wanted to love this one but I got burnt when wearing it while I was in Hawaii. There isn’t much point in wearing it if it doesn’t work. It comes unscented, which I love. It wasn’t heavy or greasy. It is $32 USD for 1.7 fl oz. It may be okay for day to day when I am in Chicago and not out in the sun too often but it is not worth having it around if I cannot trust it. This one was a bummer for me.

What About Body Sunscreens?

I covered the best face sunscreens for rosacea but what about body sunscreens for sensitive skin? To be honest, I don’t really wear body sunscreen too often. During my second trip to Hawaii in 2015, I bought a swim shirt from Lands End. The shirt is equivalent to wearing a sunscreen. Since discovering these shirts, I wear them whenever I am at the pool or beach in the sun and have not had any burns. Therefore, I usually skip coating my body in sunscreen. The swim shirt I have has a high neckline and long sleeve, so it protects my chest and arms. When I am in the pool, my legs are in the water and not exposed.

Did I Miss Any?

There are my recommendations for the best face sunscreens for rosacea. If you have tried any of them, do you agree with my assessment? If you have another one not listed that works well for you that you think I should try, tell me in the comments below. I love to hear about and try new products.

If you want to read more, check out 15 Self Care Ideas that you can do at home here.

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Best Facial Sunscreens for Rosacea

A Letter To My Younger Self

A Letter to My Younger Self

A few weeks ago, a high school classmate of mine sent me a message. Her mom was an English teacher at my high school and when we were in her class, we wrote letters to our future selves. My classmate wanted my address so she could send me the letter I had written. We wrote the letters a few weeks before high school graduation for ourselves five years in the future.

It is now 20+ years in the future.

I told my classmate when I responded to her that while I was interested to read the letter, wouldn’t it be great if we could reverse the process and write a letter now to our high school selves instead? Oh the mistakes we may be able to avoid!

That got me thinking though. What would I tell my younger self? What lessons have I learned that I could pass on to her, if her stubborn self would listen?

So I decided to do just that. I wrote a letter to my younger self and it is below.

But First, That Letter from High School

Before I get started with the letter to my younger self, you may be wondering what the letter from high school said. It was full of typical teenage angst. I didn’t have a job for the summer yet so I was lamenting about that. I was also understandably nervous about going away to college in the fall and wondering what the future held for me. The thing that struck me the most was how neat my handwriting was back then. There is zero chance I could replicate that now.

A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Younger Carmen,

Hello from June 2020. What a six months 2020 has been so far! I will spare you the details so you are surprised later on but get ready for a crazy time! Since I have a bit of time right now, I thought I would take some of it and write you a letter with a few pieces of advice for you as you get ready to set out on this crazy journey called life.

Start Traveling Now!

Travel is going to be one of your biggest passions so start planning and heading out as early as you can. Study abroad in college and use all of your paid time off to travel as much as you can afford from the moment you get your first job.

Traveling the world will open your mind and your heart. It will expose you to different cultures, different beliefs, different religions, different people and new ideas. You will be so glad to have these experiences and memories as you go through life.

Get Involved With Politics and Organizing

Trust me when I say politics are important. They matter at all levels – local, state and federal. Get involved! Register and always make sure to vote. Educate yourself! Learn about the candidates and where they stand on issues you care about. Make sure your voice is heard. Also, use that voice to lift up others who may not be as loud.

Get Your Master’s Degree

Definitely get your Master’s degree but be thoughtful about where you want to go in life versus what seems to make the most sense. With an undergrad degree in Accounting, an MBA is obviously the logical choice for a Master’s degree. But what if your passion is community development, helping people and trying to make the world a better place?

A degree in Public Policy may be the less obvious but better choice. You won’t ever regret any education but try to choose a path that better aligns with your vision for the future.

Don’t be Afraid to be Alone

I know you think your life’s journey will include a husband and kids but it may not work out that way. Date a lot when you are in your 20’s and 30’s. If you are still single in your 40’s, know you gave it your best shot and be at peace with a life you didn’t expect. There are lots of advantages. You can spend your money however you want, travel wherever your heart desires and sleep like a starfish every night.

Life Your Life

Be kind. Think before you respond. Help others without expecting anything in return. Recognize your privilege and the advantages it affords you every day. Use that privilege to make the world a more equal and just place for everyone.

Laugh. It really is the best medicine. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them. Forgive yourself more quickly. Hard work doesn’t always get you the results you want but it will teach you something. Find the lesson, pivot and move on.

Friends come and go. It is an inevitable part of life. Let go when it’s time but cherish the memories.

Mom and Dad are usually right, even if you still don’t want to admit that in your forties.

And Finally…

Since I am writing a letter to my younger self and can tell her whatever I want…

When you buy a place in 2017, make sure it is pandemic proof and has designated outdoor space. Fourteen weeks and counting of being cooped up inside is a LONG time. 🙂

—————————

With much love and immense pride for how far you have come so far,

 

 

 

Want to read more? Check out what it’s like to Date in Your Forties here and the Things I am Grateful For Right Now here.

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A Letter to My Younger Self

25 Journal Prompts for Women

Journal Prompts for Women

When I made my new year’s goals in January, one of the things I wanted to start doing regularly in 2020 was journal. I made journaling a goal because I think it will be a good way to improve my writing skills and a great outlet for my negative inner thoughts and complaints as well.

Well, it is June and I have not started journaling habitually yet. I could blame it on the pandemic and all of the changes that have come with it but the truth is, I am not sure how to start. I thought about it last week and decided that I would start by researching “Journal Prompts for Women” on Google and Pinterest and compiling a list of questions I am interested in thinking more about and writing out a response to.

As I reviewed my final list, I realized others may be interested in starting their journaling journey with this list too. Therefore, I decided to share it. Here are my 25 Journal Prompts for Women.

25 Journal Prompts for Women

Self Love

1. What makes you most happy?

2. List 5 things you love about yourself.

3. What sets your heart on fire?

4. What are you most proud of?

Self-Discovery

5. What is something that has been on your mind a lot lately?

6. What is the most important thing in your life right now?

7. What is preventing you from pursuing the things you want to pursue?

8. What do you need to let go of?

9. What is your biggest weakness?

10. What are you most grateful for in life?

11. What is one thing you wish you were better at?

12. What is your biggest fear?

13. What are your top priorities? List them from most important to least important.

14. What do you look forward to the most?

15. What is your dream job?

Self Improvement

16. What do you judge yourself for? How can you be more compassionate towards yourself?

17. What positive thoughts could you use to replace the negative ones?

18. What is something in your life that is making you unhappy that you can change now?

19. What do you want for your future self?

20. What 3 books would you like to read this year?

21. Do you forgive yourself for your mistakes? What can you do to improve this?

22. What qualities in other people do you admire and how do you think you can also have those qualities if you don’t already?

23. What are three things you want in your relationships (friends, family or romantic)?

24. What are 3 good habits you would like to develop?

25. Where do you want to be one year from now?

For more self-care related articles, check out 15 Self Care Ideas for Women here and Ideas for Staying Sane During Quarantine here.

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Journal Prompts for Women

How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone

Ten weeks. As of today, May 24th, that is how long I have been self-isolating at home. Chicago is still under a “stay at home” order so other than a few trips to the grocery store, a trip to Target and my once a week excursion to restaurants to pick up food, I have been at home for ten weeks. It seems like the time passed so quickly while at the same time it feels like I have been home forever. I am not going to lie. Sometimes, figuring out how to stay sane when quarantining alone is difficult.

The Hard Truth

This week, the hard truth came. This is my normal now. We had a call early in the week and the “read between the lines” message was that I will probably not be going back to the office in 2020. They can keep us safe in the office but for cities like Chicago and New York, they have no way to keep employees safe on public transportation.

Oof! That was a tough thing to hear. Not unexpected, but not easy. Telling myself that being isolated and working from home is only temporary is not true anymore. I do however, appreciate their concern for keeping us safe.

What’s Next?

So the question for me now is how do I proceed from here? Do I continue to stay by myself in Chicago? Other than having one friend over for dinner five weeks ago and a few courtyard visits with my neighbors, I haven’t had any in person human contact since the stay at home order started. Am I better off staying this course or should I pack things up and plan to spend the foreseeable future with my family in Iowa.

On the farm in Iowa, I can be outside without a mask and around people (my family) every day. It is tempting. The thing that makes me nervous is that Iowa is opening up quickly and is not taking social distancing as seriously as we are here in Chicago. I am worried that I have spent all of this time self-isolating in Chicago only to go to Iowa and get sick.

While I ponder all of that and try to make the decision that will be best for me, I thought I would share a few of the things I have done over the past ten weeks that have kept me sane while quarantining alone.

How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone

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Keep Up a Daily Routine

I am a creature of habit so keeping up a daily routine has been key to keeping myself sane while quarantining alone. For the first few weeks, I kept up a daily routine that was similar to the one I used when going to the office. Over the past couple of weeks, it has evolved a little bit to fit my new normal life. I have been sleeping in a bit later since I do not have a commute and I make myself breakfast every morning. I wasn’t always so good about breakfast before. Many things have stayed the same though.

  • My routine after waking up is basically the same. I wake up, brush my teeth, put in my contacts, brush my hair, get dressed for the day, make my bed, put on some SPF and makeup and then make myself some tea before logging on for the day.
  • When I am done working for the day, I go for a long walk with the dog, workout and then I make myself dinner.
  • I also go through the same bedtime routine. I shower (I love my night showers!), do my evening skincare routine, brush my teeth, take out my contacts and then get into bed and try to read a bit before falling asleep.

This routine keep some semblance of normalcy in my life and is much needed for my mental and emotional well being.

Log Off of Social Media

One habit I have that I have disliked about myself for a long time has been how much time I spend on social media each day, particularly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These three apps are my crutch when I am bored or trying to kill time or happy or sad or anytime really. I live alone (besides the pup) so it isn’t a problem due to me ignoring people. There is no one to ignore. But I so find that I can so easily get sucked into the vortex and next thing I know, an hour has passed.

I decided to break the cycle this weekend by taking a 48 hour break from the apps. I deleted Instagram from my phone and logged out of Facebook and Twitter. The number of times I have mindlessly tried to find the Instagram app on my phone or clicked on the Facebook and Twitter apps over the past day is so sad!

Opening those apps is such a habit. It is even worse than I thought and something I really want to work on stopping.

Find a Way to Stay Physically Active

For the first four weeks I was at home, I didn’t do much to stay active. It was still cold in Chicago. The gym was closed. I wasn’t walking to and from the train each day. I wasn’t leaving my house for lunch. It was all part of the “this is temporary” mantra. I was doing so well at being active leading up to quarantine. I was going to the gym and working out with my trainer and getting 10,000 steps every day.

Then it basically went to nothing. Lucky for me, my trainer sent me a text asking if I wanted to start doing training sessions via Zoom. I said “yes” because I didn’t want to lose all of the progress I was making up to that point. Now we work meet twice a week via Zoom. I also try to go for long walks when I can to get some steps in. I am still not up to where I was three months ago but it is better than nothing.

Journal

This is a relatively new activity for me. I had wanted to start journaling daily for a while but was never able to get into it. I started journaling by keeping it simple:

  • In the mornings, I list three things that I am grateful for.
  • In the evenings, I list three good things that happened during the day.

This was a great way to start my journaling journey because it is easy and quick. Since I have been doing it for a bit, I decided to compile a list of things I wanted to journal about. You can find my list of 25 Journal Prompts here.

Keep in Touch With Family and Friends

Zoom has become my best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Who else can relate?

I love Zoom for chatting with my friends and family. Zoom has actually allowed me to keep in touch more with some friends and family members now than before we started quarantining. I love hearing all of the crazy things that my nieces and nephews have to say on our family calls. Catching up with friends who have moved away and my book club via Zoom has also been a pleasant experience.

Zoom for work though… I am not really sure I like it all that much. It is a great way to connect with my co-workers. It can also be too much though. Zoom call after Zoom call after Zoom call throughout the day gets really tiring. I find audio calls to be a great reprieve some days.

Do Some of the Things You Haven’t had Time for in the Past

I have done a lot of work on this blog while I have been home. I also completed some projects around my house that I had been meaning to do. Finally, I am getting through some of the books that have been on my “to read” list for a while. I finished “My Lovely Wife” and “The Wedding Party.” I currently have It Was Me All Along,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” and “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” on my Libby shelf.

Be Patient With Yourself

Finally, the most important thing you can do to stay sane while quarantining along may be to be patient with yourself. This situation is not normal. We are not working from home. We are working at home during a pandemic and a time of great uncertainty and stress. There is no road map for how we should behave or react.

I’m an introvert by nature. I like being alone and thrive when I have time to myself to think and recharge. My home is my happy place. I also have a four legged beast who depends on me for food, water and walks.

That being said, some days I feel more alone than others. At times, my emotions have been all over the place. I will go from happy to overwhelmed to sad to over everything in life in a few minutes. The key for me is to recognize the feelings and let myself work through them. If I need to, I call a friend or my sister. Or I go for a walk. Or I take a nap. I allow myself the space I need to get back to a place of peace.

There is my list of ways to stay sane while quarantining alone. Do you have other ideas that I did not mention? If so, tell me about them in the comments below or via social media. I would love to hear them and add them to my list.

If you want to read more, you can check out a list of Self Care Ideas for Women in this post and 20 Things to do When You’re Bored and Home Alone in this post.

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How to Stay Sane When Quarantining Alone