Dreadful Commutes!

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Well, you have probably noticed that most of my posts are cheerful and on the positive side because that is the kind of person that I am and if I find myself gearing in a different direction, I push myself back to happy land where it’s all sparkly and unicorns are pooping rainbows. My life is by no means perfect. I simply choose to focus on the positive, and that’s just me. BUT this morning I was reminded of how overly annoying commuting to work can be, and well hello here I am!

I feel truly blessed that just before baby no. 3 was born we were able to move to the south bay. I am not particularly a fan of the heat that comes along with moving farther from SF by the mile, but it was a great opportunity for our family to live closer to our work and also to a nicer neighborhood so that was a no brainer for us. My commute went from spending 45 – 90 minutes during the morning commute to about 20 or less. My evening commute also improved from 1 to up to 2 hours in afternoon traffic to 15-20 minutes. You can see what a difference that is, right?! I always wished that I could have some of that time back to spend it in something that I love much more and need more of: working out! Seriously, seriously! When you are siting on a car for 1-2 hours every day and just listening to the radio to stay busy and possibly snacking on something unhealthy to keep you awake or in a good mood while you are driving 16 mph on I-880N, and you could instead use some of that time to do things you need like running, or lifting some weights, or attending a zumba class or yes even take a nap that would be great!

Now while I have gotten a significant amount of time back by moving closer to work, I am not spending that spare time on working out all the time but I am doing others things that are equally or even more important such as: sleeping more, walking my kids to school every morning (this is my favorite one), cooking dinner (ok this only happens sometimes but it sure counts!), taking the kids to after school classes, among other things. And it doesn’t end there. Before my husband and I would find ourselves mentally drained after a 90 minutes commute at the end of a work day. You come home, and all you want is to lay in your bed and take a nap. There are so many stupid drivers on the road, I am telling ya! After having to deal with many of them for a long time you don’t even want to deal with people when you get home. But, oh wait, that’s not a choice to me because I am parent and have little ones waiting for me. So needless to say those days were rough!

Now I get why people are moving away from the Bay and being forced into long commutes every day. The prices for rent have been spiking over the past years like crazy. Seriously! There was a craigslist ad that made it to the local news not too long ago. This person was charging $1000/month to rent his walk-in-closet in SF. His closet! The closet was big enough for a sleeping bag laid down and maybe a couple of suitcases for your stuff next to it. So it wasn’t big enough but was that a good deal? It actually was! I know it sounds ridiculous but ask anyone who lives in the Bay Area and will think it was quite affordable despite of the ironic joke behind it. The rent prices are off the roof! Real state is really no different. I am imagining $900K is the average price for a house in the bay and that barely gets you a 3 bedroom/ 2 bathroom townhouse so no, that is not a lot of land I am talking about! This clearly explains why people are moving east to Tracy and Stockton area where the house price is cut in half as well as the rent. You get more value for your money. I get it. But you also are forced to spend 1-2 hours in traffic each way every day… I don’t think I can do that!

It’s no joke to live in this beautiful area, with great weather, with such diversity, with safe neighborhoods (not every where but you get me), there is price for it. And don’t get me wrong, I absolutely, totally, completely  understand some people are left with no choice than live miles away and have long commutes. Back to what got me thinking about this was a visit to my dentist which is located in the East Bay and since I only go every 6 months I figured it wasn’t too bad of a compromise. I had an early appointment too, at 7am. Was on the road back south by 7:30am. It took me a bit over 50 mins to drive 20 miles south during Friday morning commute which is typically light. That was crazy?! So what do you do when you have no choice but sit on traffic for  a long period of time? This is where the good can come if you allow it.

When I had the long commuteI wished there could be a way that we could make the most out of this “down” time. Sitting on a car for 2 hours that instead I wished I could go to the gym since when I got home I had no time… but wait a minute, there is something you can do! Actually, there are many things that can be done and I failed to consider before:

  • You can listen to audio books during this time! Knowledge is power my friends. The more educated we are, the stronger professionals we are. The stronger professionals we are the better our reputation gets. The better our reputation gets the more teams want us as part of theirs. Boom! Amazon has great audio choice called audible. Look into that. Sure we can memorize Beyonce’s new lyrics during this time, but if you can instead use that time to create more value for yourself better yet.
  • Listen to books of the things that interest you, or the things that you should be learning more about such as industry-related stuff. I am such a half-full-glass gal and I like motivational books so I have gotten some of those for me now. My commute might be less but I have now learned the value of every second of my time. I try to make the most of it. Learning on your drive to work, that’s a  great way to turn a dreadful commute into a productive one!
  • You can go to they gym by your work and get on the road later when the traffic is less. This only works for so many people, but if your responsibilities allow it, and by that I mean you have no kids or a good backup system, go to a class while waiting for traffic to die down a bit.
  • You can go to school after work and improve your skills! Find a community college close to your work and sign up for an evening class. Most start around 5pm. Go to school and learn a new trade or improve your current skills or learn a new language. Remember, we have to invest in ourselves first. The more you know, the better, trust me.
  • If your employer has flexibility ask about modifying your work hours. You might need to start much earlier but that means you can go home before traffic starts which means you will get there faster. Or you can ask about coming in later and waiting for evening traffic to die down to head home. Don’t be afraid to ask. You might think you don’t have a choice but sometimes we don’t have it because we didn’t ask for it.

Well, hopefully this helps you a bit if you are one of the many with a long commute. Try to make the most of it. I know is hard but let’s stay always positive. Shall we?

Cheerios,

Kim

When life gives you lemons…

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Have them with a tequila shot! Make it SHOTS-SSSS! Am I right? But since I am still not drinking alcohol because I am still breastfeeding, I shall make a lemonade with them. No, make it a raspberry lemonade! Who says you can’t add your own special twist to it? So, I was thinking about it because I had a conversation with a good friend just the other day about this, and by this I mean our attitude towards sschtuff life throws at ya, so here is my take on it. Keep reading, it might be something worth trying if you aren’t doing it yet.

For starters, let me tell you that I do not appreciate at all the victim attitude. Like I said sschtuff happens to all of us, and we can’t live pretending life is only mean to us (or you as you want to see it) or we never get a chance in life. Nothing makes me more… blah that people with such negative attitude. My family and I have been through quite some stuff. My mom raised my three brothers and I as a single mom after my dad passed away. There were some great days and some tough ones. You won’t hear me complaining about the bad ones, ever! Why? Because I know that it wasn’t my mom’s fault that things got challenging, and I know that she tried her best every single time, and I know that every single moment of our life is a learning opportunity. I won’t stress about how things happened or how they could have been different. I can’t change the past, but I can use it to learn and make better decisions now for a better future.

Second, I would like to highlight again how everything is a learning opportunity. I don’t mean to offend anyone with this, but I think only losers give up. We are humans, we are not perfect and we don’t know it all. It is in our nature to try things, to modify things, and to deliver results. Quitters don’t go past trying things. If at first the result is not what they want or expect, they don’t try to modify things to get the result they want. I am not a great cook but I love cooking (too many cooking shows have me feeling like a chef, ha!) I have tried numerous recipes from Pinterest. Sometimes the first time the food came out great! Other times the food came out really bad the first time, but after trying so many recipes I can often tell where I went wrong. Did I put too much of one ingredient or not enough of another? Maybe it overcooked and the texture now makes me think is not right? Maybe it’s undercooked and now I know to bake it a bit longer than the recipe said. Why did I continue to try after failing the first time? Because I love food! I don’t want to eat the same food all the time, I want to try new yummy things. They don’t come out yummy all the time but I keep trying.

Now back to sharing some of the things that help me keeping the best possible attitude in life:

  1. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Would have my life been better if my dad was still alive? Maybe. I truly can’t tell for sure that it would have or not been better with him around. What I can tell you is that I have a strong woman for a mother who raised me with strong values, who believes me, and taught me to believe in myself. It would have been nice to have my dad growing up, but he is my angel and his absence has made my mom, brothers and I stronger. Daddy’s spoiled little girl was not meant for me and I am okay with that especially now that I am mom. I try to be fair with my kids; I love their uniqueness and don’t want to spoil them.
  2. “When you hit rock bottom the only way is up”. Heard that before? I wouldn’t say I’ve hit rock bottom but there’s been difficult times. I call them lean times. And guess what? Lean times motivate you to go on the opposite direction. Do whatever it takes to get better. While a rough patch is an excuse to many to get stuck,  to me is a motivation to try harder and get myself out of it.
  3. Every experience is an opportunity to learn and grow. Experiences can only turn bad when you chose not to learn or grow from it. Change the way you think from a bad experience into a learning experience. It’s all about perspective here!
  4. Focus on the positive. Glass half-full you say? Heck yes! Use those lemons for something else. Sure the apple you wanted might have been nice but oh well, no biggy instead make a lemonade with the lemons you got! I am telling you, when you focus on the positive life will be a more beautiful and enjoyable.
  5. Laugh it up! (LOL so you can understand me).  I was just today showing my coworker the picture of my face when my wisdom teeth got pulled out. My face was so swollen for almost two weeks! Did I stopped seeing a dentist because now I hate dentist? Nope. Did I complain about it? Nope. Instead I posted this picture on Facebook because guess what? It- ISSS – HILARIOUS! I still use this picture often to make people laugh when they are having a bad day. You are welcome!

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