I’m Gwen, and this is 2020.
(this would probably work better if my name was actually Barbara, but I had to give it a shot!)
Welcome to my post on all the goals for 2020! I’ve got big plans for the year and I’m excited to put them into action! .…. and since it’s now March, I’ve included an update on how I’m doing on all these goals. (also, this is not a post on anything to do with Covid-19 — this was written before shit really hit the fan in the world)
1. Settle into St. Louis
My one and only city for the year. As I’ve previously mentioned, I grew up in the area, so I’m by no means a stranger to St. Louis. However, visiting once or twice a year and living here day in and day out are completely different realities. I’ve been in St. Louis just shy of 2 months so far and made a decent amount of progress at settling in, but I feel there’s more to do. I live in South City, so I’m dying for the weather to warm up so I can properly explore the area around my new home.
I’ve found a few different groups to help me settle in. There’s a Young Professionals group that does things around the city that are a fun group to be around. There is also a Women’s 30 and Nerdy meetup group I want to start attending. They have some fun things planned for the weeks ahead! Later in the spring, I’ll be joining a softball team so that will help me get out of the house and meet new people as well.
Finally, I somehow managed to convince a guy to date me (haha just kidding, I’m awesome — who wouldn’t want to date me!?) so a lot of my St Louis exploration has been in the context of fun dates. We’ve been to the local soda fountain for ice cream, Central Library for an amazing date of book and architecture chat, attempted the board game bar, and hit up the arcade bar. I’ve also been to the ice skating rink in Forest Park and a few breweries with real-life friends.
(Oh, and the local personal finance groups will be a solid social outlet as well! Can’t forget them!)
2. Start Cooking
I was really into learning to cook for myself when I started living on my own. I had space, time, and the drive to eat well and save money. Then I moved around a bunch, had less than ideal kitchens (or lived with other people and used their kitchens), and pared down my kitchen supplies. I’ve been eating basic foods that require minimal prep for the last year or so and my waist is starting to show it. Too many mac n cheese, frozen pizza, and sandwich dinners.
So, to get back into cooking for myself like an actual adult, I’ve taken the following steps already:
- Bought a nice knife set: The first knife set I had was nice, but not really practical for the long run. All the knives were serrated, so I couldn’t sharpen them. Thus, their life was limited. I left those behind when I moved from Minnesota and made do without a knife set since then. It was a struggle to cut brussel sprouts, so I got a new knife set after asking all my friends for recommendations. I went with a nice Wüsthof set that came with a sharpener. My fingers can attest I don’t need to sharpen them anytime soon!
- Bought cooking equipment: I’ve been making do with some cheap substitutes and hand me down kitchenware, but it was time to get serious and get equipment that makes cooking easier, not harder. I want to reduce barriers to cooking as much as possible. So, I got 2 new bamboo cutting boards, a set of prep dishes, and 2 sets of nice dishes to use (one for every day, and one for fancy meals). Next up on the list is a set of pots and pans that work for a variety of needs. Right now all I have is one beat-up skillet and one big pot. It works, but sometimes isn’t optimal.
- Signed up for a CSA: I’m a new member of the local Community Share Agriculture (CSA). I pay them $55 a week for a full share that includes a variety of vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy items, and other local goods. By getting a carefully curated selection of local, organic, antibiotic-free, and grass-fed food each week, I’ll have the building blocks of food in my kitchen to try new foods and recipes. For example, I would never buy a turnip for myself, but there’s one in my kitchen so I guess I’m going to find a way to cook and eat it. Rinse and repeat!
3. Find a Therapist
One of my goals last year was to start therapy sessions. I went to 1 session the whole year. That one session was helpful, but one is not enough. I’m feeling a lot more stable this year, but I still think it’s helpful to have a neutral third party to help be your sounding board and navigate through life. One of the major roadblocks last year was trying to go through insurance. The ones on my plans were full or didn’t specialize in the areas I needed. I also changed insurance providers 3 times as I moved around.
So, this year, I signed up for Talkspace. It’s significantly more expensive, but I’ve had a few sessions already and have found them to be well worth the ~$200/mo. (Now that I have little debt, a cash cushion, and lower monthly expenses all around.) Instead of logging on through the insurance portal, calling therapists or emailing them, and then driving to their office.…. I can just log on to my computer and start the video session. Removing those barriers to get started REALLY helped. I don’t know how long this year I’ll keep going with it, but I’m getting great value out of it so far.
This one is going to be one of the most difficult goals for me to take on. I am a social person and need accountability from others to work out. I prefer to follow a set list of exercises so I don’t have to put the mental energy into figuring out what exercises are going to work what muscles and how that all balances out long term. Right now, the only exercising I’m doing is running my mouth and that’s not helping my pants fit.
I have access to a fitness facility at work, but it’s fairly small and crowded when I would want to work out. My employer also has a deal with the local YMCA, so I could sign up for that. The closest location to my house has a Master’s swim team which go a long way towards helping me work out.
Finally, when the weather warms up, I’ll be able to bike commute to and from work. I’m only about 5 miles away, so it would be a pretty easy ride. I’ve been told traffic from the Cardinals games will make getting home rough after work on game days when the season starts, so I might actually get home faster on my bike than I would driving.
5. Bullet Journal
Shortly before 2020 began, I downloaded and read the book The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll (affiliate link). As someone who feels hopelessly disorganized, I thought this might be a good way to help keep track of my life. I have friends who swear by their bullet journal and post a lot of cool art from their books.
3‑month progress report:
I started writing this post at the beginning of January. Then, work took up a ton of my mental energy and I more less stopped writing through February. So, now that it is March, I feel like adding on this progress report is a good way to not waste the drafted post.
- I’m settling into St. Louis nicely! I’ve felt right at home from the beginning and have only felt more at home since. I’ve met some of my neighbors, made new friends through the meetup groups, and deepened friendships with my friends who already live here. I also started dating someone so it’s been really great to have a built-in exploration partner when I want to go do things. I did not expect to join a D&D campaign, but I did and it’s been a good way to get out of the house, meet more people and have some fun.
- I’ve got my new-to-me pot and pan set, which I have been using fairly regularly. My motivation to cook comes and goes. Some days I make my own alfredo sauce (which was delicious!) and other days I make mac n cheese. I try to cook most of the food before it goes bad and have been doing a decent job at it. I made a cinnamon apple turnip soup which was pretty delicious, but I suspect made me sick. I didn’t eat the leftovers. I also picked up a good blender so I’ve been making more smoothies for breakfast and eating less cereal. I’ve found it’s helpful to have the basic ingredients on hand for most things, so I’m not tempted to cop out. The only problem is I’ve discovered the magic of cooking with heavy whipping cream, which is probably not helping my waistline go down.…
- I’ve been seeing a therapist since the end of January. She is really helpful to have as a neutral sounding board for things I encounter and to encourage me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t do in a timely manner (like trying to find my Minnesota car title so I can get my car titled to Missouri…). I’m not entirely sure how long I will stay with her as I’ve realized I’m in a much better mental space than I was last year or the year before that. I talk to her virtually through a website called Talkspace, which is fairly reasonably priced, but still an extra ~$200 or so a month. It would be nice to have that money freed up for other line items.
- Out of all my goals, I’ve probably done the worst at working out. I’ve ridden my bike a few times on nice days and went to 1 swim practice. (That one swim practice kicked my ass and I loved it!) I have the sign up sheet ready to go for the YMCA and will be signing up for real shortly. The weather is warming up nicely, so bike commuting will commence as soon as it’s over 40 degrees at 7 am. I’m a wuss and anything colder than that makes for a miserable, cranky Gwen in the morning. I try to avoid inflicting that upon my coworkers.
- I was pretty faithful to my bullet journal through the middle of February and have stalled on using it regularly. When I was using it, it really did help me organize my life and keep track of everything I have going on. Using it helped me realize I couldn’t go to my alma mater’s huge reunion event as my friend is getting married that weekend. I also took notes on events that happened which has helped me remember details I might otherwise forget. I will be using it more often!
So for good and for better, there are my goals for 2020 and an update on how things are going so far! If you set goals for the year, let’s hear how they’re going so far! Thanks for reading!