26 May 2010

Wednesday Wisdom: Relative Wealth

Just like everyone else, money is always a stressor.  When I have it, I worry about keeping it.  When I don't have it, I worry about getting it.  

When I was in Albania, one of Europe's poorest countries, My Love was venting to an Albanian friend about the costs of travel in Croatia.  I recognized his venting as sticker shock after having adjusted to having a relatively wealthy lifestyle in a poor country, but this friend sagely cut him off and said, "Money is money.  Don't waste time worrying about it.  Money comes and money goes."

It was strange to hear such sage advice from someone whose annual salary is probably comparable to what I spend on six months' rent.  But sage advice indeed. 

The reality of income disparity really became apparent to me as I traveled last year.  But even then, I didn't realize that as much as I worry about about being poor here in America, I am actually really wealthy.  It's all relative.  

According to Global Rich List, my salary puts me in the top 0.93% of wealth world-wide.  Translation: 99% of the world makes less money than I do.  

At a $40,000 annual salary, top 3.17% of the world's population
At a $20,000 annual salary, top 7.16%
At a $5,000 annual salary, top 14.39%
At a $2,000 annual salary, top 17.62% 
At a $1,000 annual salary, top 44.1%
At a $500 annual salary, top 80%  (now considered "poor" but still wealthier than 20% of the world's population)

Damn.  I'll sure think twice about complaining about the size of my bank statement from now on.

25 May 2010

KtMac Confessions: Life Plans

PMac's graduation this weekend was really nice.  (Pics are on my parents' computer, so you'll see those when I do.)

But it got me thinking.  A lot, really.  Probably because PMac is so terribly stressed and worried about not knowing what his major will be.  He's convinced that he's behind everyone else because he doesn't have a plan. 

Oh, I remember those days...

And it's been a while since I confessed a secret....


It's been 8 years since I graduated high school.  4.5 years since I graduated from undergrad.  And 2.5 years since I earned my Masters.

None of which I'd ever trade in.  Not for anything.  


I've chased some wonderful dreams.  Met some fascinating people.  Had some crazy, holy-shit-I-can't-believe-we-did-that adventures.  Accomplished some amazing things that will (or already do) make a difference in this world.  Accepted the fact that I had to pay my dues.  Kissed My Love for the first time.  Discovered the deep satisfaction of proving to myself the awesome contentedness that comes with being really and truly independent after a lifetime of always being dependent on others. 


Even with its ups and downs, my life since I walked across that first stage all those years ago, has been nothing short of amazing.  And I love every.single.moment. of it.  Even when I don't.  

But truthfully, where I am today couldn't be further from the plan I had for my life when I graduated.  

No, really.  Could NOT be further. 


When I graduated from high school, I thought I'd graduate from my undergrad with a degree in education, and become a teacher in a small town somewhere.  

Most likely in the Carolinas by the shore.  

Be married to one of my guy friends.

 If I traveled at all, it'd be to the expected destinations: London, Paris, Rome.

And be done having babies.  Because nothing is worse than having babies when you're old.  And according to my 17-year-old self, 25 was old.  


Fast-forward 8 years, 3 states, 2 degrees, countless dates and my life couldn't be any more different than the life I had planned.  

I live in a major city.  I have no car.  The closest I come to the Carolina shore is spring break. 

I most definitely am NOT a teacher, nor are either of my degrees in education.  

I am not married.  Wedding bells are not in the near future.  I've realized that while that guy friend is a good friend, he'd make a terrible lover and a much worse husband (for me at least).  Instead, I'm in love with the perfect-for-me-guy who has shaken up my world in every way imaginable, for the better. 

Children most definitely are not in the near future (hell, I've started avoiding Facebook because it has become BabyBook these days).  

And the places I've traveled have been as unique and unexpected as my life: Tokyo, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania. 

And you know what?

I've learned:  Life has much, much better plans than the ones my 17-year-old self could have ever dreamed up.

So much better. 

24 May 2010

Dear PMac...

As your older, wiser, more worldly sister, I feel I should have offered you words of wisdom on your graduation day. 

But the truth is, all those cliches that you'll hear today are cliches because they are true.  Listen up.


Most importantly, have fun.  You'll never regret the fun.  Don't stress about choosing a major (it's really, really not as important as you think it is.)  And make sure you call your sis from time to time.  I'm good for more than bail money. 

XOXO
- KtMac

21 May 2010

It's Friday Afternoon...


So tired of the cube factory. 
So ready to be in an airport again.
Thank goodness I have a Friday night flight.

Happy Weekend!!

19 May 2010

Wednesday Wisdom: Cool Food News

Did you know....

*  Some brands of soyburgers have neurotoxins?  Might be time to carefully read labels...

*  That there's something as awesome as a cupcake truck?  Just like an ice cream truck, only, WITH CUPCAKES!

*  That the IHOP in Vermont is the only International House of Pancakes to serve real maple syrup?  (Or that if you are a teenage male stupid enough to accept a dare to chug an entire thing of blueberry syrup at IHOP, you will actually turn BLUE?!  True story.)

*  That even though Goji Berries are touted as the new "miracle" food, there's actually not enough research to substantiate the claim?

* All the cool shit you can do with cucumbers?  Like polish your shoes or get rid of bad breath?


18 May 2010

Just a Breath Randoms

*  Once again, I'm crazybusybarelyhavetimetobreathe.  And on the days I'm not running from before sunup to after sundown, I'm so exhausted, I haven't been able to get to the things on my to-do list.  That's true for both work and home.

The inability to get to things on my to-do list was beginning to stress me.  In a big way.  

So in the midst of chilling and talking smack over bottles of beer at a BBQ with friends this weekend, it was suggested that instead of making to-do lists this week, I make "accomplished" lists, and just write down the things I've accomplished this week.  Maybe, even if it isn't something I planned on doing, the accomplishments will keep me from stressing over the things I meant to do. 


*  Hand-in-hand with that decision, I'm really pushing myself to focus on the big picture of my life instead of the innane, microscopic details. 

The truth is: I am happy.  I am healthy.  I am wealthy (in so many ways).  I have a good, secure job.  I have love.  I have family.  I am secure.  I am independent. 

So why waste time worrying about money (after all, money comes and money goes) or whether my clothes are just right?


*  It also means I'm not blogging as much as I'd like.  There are days I barely get to glance at work emails, never mind sit down at home and spend the time thinking about what I want to say and how best to say it.  So while I may be quieter for the foreseeable future, I miss it.  It's my chance to sit down, think about things, and share my thoughts. Oh, and use all the pretty pictures I keep finding everywhere.


*  I can't wait to go home to see my family again this weekend.  I need a break from life in DC for a few days, and seeing family always cheers me up.  Plus, it also means getting to see my youngest brother dress up in white tuxedo tails (no cap and gown for his graduation ceremonies!) and accept his high school diploma.  

It's a bit bittersweet -- it means the family dynamics are changing once again, but we have always been incredibly close, so I have no doubt we'll still continue to be close as a family in the future, even as all three of us kids move out and into our own lives. 


*  It also means that the threat of family pictures has forced me to end my avoidance of hair salons for the last seven months -- can we say major split ends?! -- and get myself a hot new haircut.  I like it.  It's shorter than I wanted for a DC summer, but still much longer than the bob I really, secretly wanted.  My hair and DC's humidity do not do well together, which means I needed to keep my hair long enough to pull back into a ponytail on the sticky days.  And most importantly, it is SASSY.  So KtMac Sassy.


*  One of my coworkers has lost 100 pounds in one year.  Impressive, no?  I'm so proud of her for making up her mind and making it happen and for making all the necessary lifestyle changes.  I'm also proud because she is still aware that she's going to have good days and bad days and just because she hit her goal doesn't mean she can slack off.  Plus, with that accomplishment under her belt, she's focusing on losing the last 30 pounds, and that means I have a lunchtime workout buddy to kick my ass into hottie shape before My Love comes home.  Because, after all, who wouldn't want to be a hottie when welcoming home their love?

That also means I'm kicking ass all over the place - multiple workouts, healthy meals, lots of fruit and veggies and non-meat protein, no fake foods, and liters of water every day.  The scale isn't showing the difference all that much yet, but my body sure feels it.

I feel strong.  I feel healthy.  I feel energentic.  I feel less stressed.  I feel comfortable with the foods I eat. 

In other words, I feel exactly the way I should feel.


*  And, we're officially down to nine weeks until My Love comes home!!!

16 May 2010

She


She is pencil skirts and geek chic glasses. 
She is sweatpants and tank tops. 


She is vain and narcissistic, especially when it comes to her hair.
She is confident and insecure, especially when it comes to fitness and weight.


She is daydreams and high-flying schemes.
She is practical and to-do lists.


She is wanderlust.
She is a homebody.


She is excited.
She is anxious. 
She is impatient.
She is calm.


She is wishing for a dog of her own.
She is sure the dog will be named Jeeves.


She is soothed by water.
She is strengthened by water.


She is technicolor dreams.
She is proof that dreams really do come true. 


She is love, pure and simple. 
She is joy, calm and exuberant. 


She is she.
She is all she dreams to be. 

12 May 2010

Wisdom Wednesdays: Food and Health in America

* Did you know that obesity accounts for almost 10% of healthcare costs in America?  10% is equal to $147 Billion annually.  Let me say that again, $147 Billion annually for obesity-related healthcare issues.  In comparison, smoking-related healthcare costs are only $96 Billion  annually


* Did you know that today's generation of American kids are expected to be the first generation to die younger than their parents?  All because of obesity-related issues.

* On average, we are eating 100% more sugar daily than our parents, and our parents are eating 100% more than their parents.  Translation: we are eating 200% more sugar every day than our grandparents.  No wonder diabetes is on the rise.

* If you start reading ingredients labels, you'll discover that corn, soybeans, and sugar are in almost every single food item on the shelf.  Even things you wouldn't expect to have corn, soybeans, or sugar, like bread.

* The argument has been made, quite convincingly (in my humble opinion), that even vegans can eat oysters.

04 May 2010

With the Whole Damned World...

I know, I know...it's been a while.  And I missed you.  I'm sorry.  It sure seems like I've been saying that to everyone in my life lately.  It's not intentional.  But when it rains, it pours.  And it's been pouring beauty.  Even in last week's insanity, there was a beauty in the madness.  And when the time is right, I'll share all that with you, I promise.  I really promise.

There's been so much beautiful about these days that I want to write down, never to forget, to share, and see what others think too.  But then again, I don't know quite where to start.  

The beauty of being confident enough to speak my mind, call others to task while still talking them up, learning who to ask, when, and how, and managing to get exactly what I've wanted and waited, patiently and not-so-patiently all along.

I finally got that promotion I've worked so hard to earn.  

So I celebrated.  In my own little KtMac way.  And bought myself a necklace.

And I cleared the air that had been left stale and charged for way too long with a dear old friend.  

And when we saw each other, for the first time in a year, we stood there wearing the.exact.same.top.  No joke.  There's beauty in that.  And a lot of laughter. 

These days, trust me....I really do have a sparkle in my eye.  Oh boy, do I ever have a sparkle in my eye with all the whispers and hopes and promises and dreams come true.

I've explored museums with a beautifully, wonderfully independent girl and wandered the city while chattering about nothing at all, and politics, and food, and fears, and hopes, and love, and luck, and every beautiful thing in between. 

And you know how sometimes a conversation with a friend like that leaves you wanting to reach for the stars and pull them down and make them all your own?  But even better, she makes you believe you can do it, that you deserve to do it, and that she expects no less than that from you?



I adore those kind of friends.  I consider myself so very, very lucky to have those kinds of friends.  And I hope upon hope that I'm that kind of friend too. 

The other day, I was talking to My Love, and I told him, when I grow old, this is exactly how I'll be....with sassy sparkles on my cheeks and ears.



And he laughed loud and long and told me, "I wouldn't expect you to be any other way."  And if he had been home, he'd have kissed my forehead, half falling in love and half laughing at his silly girl, who, at the ripe old age of 25, is adamant about maintaining her sassiness when she grows old. 

But you have to admit, there really is something beautiful about this woman with her wrinkles and her sparkles. 

There's also an incredible amount of beauty in knowing that no matter how crazy stressed or overworked or anxious or neurotic or scared or ridiculously worried I get, there is an incredible number of people standing there, cheering me on, supporting me, loving me, and willing to do just whatever it takes to help me live a beautiful, wonderful life.  And that list includes a lot of people I never expected it to include.  Which also helps me see the beauty of life.  

And the truth is, I'm in love with the whole damned world. 

I really, really am.