2020 Q2 Goals – Accountability, Check in, and an Uneventful Spring

Financial Independence Goals for 2020 Q2 snapshot

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions = monthly deductions mean this happens automatically!
  2. Build up my emergency savings to 6 months/~$18,000 = $10,200 in current emergency savings and $5800 in savings for car/computer/travel/phone
  3. Save 50% of my income =
  4. Don’t renew housing lease end of July (no rent spending 8/1 onwards = change of plans. We have renewed our rent with our current house as travel and house sitting is not a good option right now. I will continue to use house sitting as an option for potential low-cost travel. I love looking for new listings weekly on Trusted Housesitters. You can use this link to get 25% off a membership at Trusted Housesitters: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

Here is an updated snapshot of my budgeting goals and how I’m meeting them. Red indicates going over the monthly budgeted amount and green indicates staying under.

Notable spending:

  1. I bought a used ebike for personal and business use! $1000
  2. I supported an IndieGoGo campaign for a few hundred dollars
  3. I tricked out my garden DIY style ~$200
  4. I bought a garage fridge for $220
  5. I bought a pull-up freestanding bar and under-desk elliptical and inversion bench used for $195 total
  6. I spent $75 on a 4-week nutrition and health program


Here are my fitness stats for Q2 of 2020:

  1. Biking: 36.5 miles
  2. Pole classes: 1
  3. Stretch classes: 7
  4. Other classes: 4 Pilates classes, 3 handstand conditioning classes, 1 Alexander Technique class
  5. Other activities: Gardening, Beach Body Workouts!

Health goals 2020
1. Full P90X for 90 days!
2. Lose 3% body fat (I went from 26% to 29% using the BodyScan measurement 01/19 to 06/20)
3. 5+ pull-ups any format (I purchased a secondhand pull-up freestanding bar) and can currently do 4 chin ups, 3 pull-ups, 1 wide grip pull-up, 3 narrow pull-ups

Writing Goals for 2020:

  1. Deplete my physical book inventory = I sold and gave away several books in January and February but still have significant numbers of print books left. I will perhaps run more giveaways or do something creative like sell a book along with a free ARC reading or x amount of words edited.
  2. Break even on Ataxia and At One’s Beast = I met this goal in Q1!
  3. Revamp my website = I haven’t made any substantial changes to my website yet
  4. Write 4 short stories = I wrote 2 short stories thus far for two separate anthologies
  5. Send out 4 newsletters = 1 sent out 1 newsletter and am working on my Q2 newsletter this week
  6. Publish a new coloring book = Haven’t made any progress on this goal yet. I’m still deciding on the subject material.

Here is a list of my accomplishments for Q2:

  1. Run a giveaway
  2. Sell more print books (half of what I currently have in inventory)
  3. Give out review copies of books
  4. Redo all interior files for Seize the Donut, At One’s Beast, Ataxia and push to all marketplaces
  5. Create another niche coloring book
  6. Read 25 books
  7. Write 6 book reviews on my blog
  8. Create a promotion and marketing plan for the rest of 2020
  9. Write 1 short story
  10. Send out 1 newsletter

The view from 520 Bridge as I bike home from Seattle on my new e-bike!

My first forage in the PNW! Juneberries, Huckleberries, and Salmonberries

My favorite new breakfast! Grilled Portobello mushroom with egg and cheese on a bed of spinach surrounded by strawberries


What are your goals and how are you meeting them?

2020 Q1 Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Future Uncertainty

I’ve decided to move from monthly updates to quarterly updates… Here is quarter one 2020 update that encompasses January – February – March.

Financial Independence Goals for 2020

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions = My HSA contribution is deducted automatically from my paycheck every month and my Roth IRA is automatically transferred at $500/month
  2. Build up my emergency savings to 6 months = I have just under 6 months emergency savings currently if I were to only spend $2500/month. I want to build this up to $18,000 by the end of the year
  3. Save 50% of my income = Due to travel in February and the yearly car maintenance in March I have spent 79% of my income, however; I moved all my business/secondary income outside of these calculations and if I were to add that back in I have spent 70% of my total income from all sources. Subtract again my HSA (part of my savings plan) and the amount spent is closer to 66%. Q2 should be even closer to 50% as I won’t be doing any leisure traveling or have extra car expenses.
  4. Don’t renew housing lease end of July (no rent spending 8/1 onwards = this is a new goal that I’ve already started preparing for by gathering a list of friends and family who are willing to host myself and my partner starting August. I will also be working on a combined post-housing budget and look at our finances together. We have already joined TrustedHousesitters and had our first house sit and are now verified. Closer to the summer I will start applying to house sits starting August and planning out our travel and where and who we will be staying with.
    You can use this link to get 25% off a membership at Trusted Housesitters: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

Here is an updated snapshot of my budgeting goals and how I’m meeting them. Red indicates going over the monthly budgeted amount and green indicates staying under. I have also shifted the budgeted amount going forward from previous Q1 spending over/under amounts.

Notable spending:

  1. AAA membership $138 for myself and my partner but we share 1 car so now that I think about it, it doesn’t make sense for both of us to each have an account and perhaps I can transfer to another family member or cancel one of ours and get some of the extra cost back.
  2. Health category has ballooned as I have increased the amount of supplements I’m taking and storing as a precaution. My recommendation is to have a 3-month’s supply of all supplements, prescriptions, and medications where possible.
  3. My grocery/eating out spending was significantly low in March due to categorizing all ‘eating’ expenses while in Mexico under ‘travel’
  4. My gifts category is high because I sent money to my family
  5. My partner and I spent $1041 on car maintenance (he got us a discount and I got them to take off some labor costs for several hundred in savings from the dealer – always check the invoice!)

My business earnings have significantly decreased due to the COVID-19 and has since reinforced my determination to find more passive income sources and work-from-home earning potentials. Some of my mystery shops and usability studies are available online but most of my income came from cat sitting and dog walking. When I have the mental motivation I will check out editing/ARC/reviews as a secondary source of active income.


Here are my fitness stats for Q1 of 2020:

  1. Biking: 16 miles
  2. Pole classes: 8
  3. Stretch classes: 2
  4. Other classes: 1 Booty class, 1 boot camp class, 1 Boudoir class
  5. Other activities: 1 soccer game and several soccer practice sessions

What are my fitness goals for 2020? A new fitness/health goal each month… Sigh. I made a general goal that isn’t very useful and I’m going to scrap it.

Fitness goals 2020
1. Stretch class 1x/week and stretching 10-15 minutes at least 4x/week
2. Ab exercise 4x/week
3. Cardio exercise/class 1x/week

Potential weekly fitness schedule:

Monday 4/6

Tuesday 4/7

Wednesday 4/8

Thursday 4/9

Friday 4/10

Saturday 4/11

Sunday 4/12

Handstands exercises and conditioning 15 minutes

Abs 5 minutes

Cardio (biking, boot camp, etc) 15+ minutes

Pilates 60 minutes

6pm-Divine Stretch class 60 minutes

Abs 5 minutes

Lower abs 7 minutes with 1 minute timed ARAP sit ups: Lower abs workout for strong and clean pole inverts (8min follow along)

Cardio (Boot camp, biking, etc) 15+ minutes

Pilates 60 minutes


Abs 5 minutes

1pm-Divine Stretch 60 minutes

Cardio (biking, boot camp, etc) 15+ minutes


Writing Goals for 2020:

  1. Deplete my physical book inventory = I sold and gave away several books in January and February but still have significant numbers of print books left. I will perhaps run more giveaways or do something creative like sell a book along with a free ARC reading or x amount of words edited.
  2. Break even on Ataxia and At One’s Beast = I met this goal!
  3. Revamp my website = I haven’t made any substantial changes to my website yet
  4. Write 4 short stories = I wrote 1 short story so I’m on track for this goal
  5. Send out 4 newsletters = 1 sent out 1 newsletter and am working on my Q1 newsletter this week
  6. Publish a new coloring book = Haven’t made any progress on this goal yet

Here is a list of my accomplishments for Q1:

  1. Ran a birthday giveaway
  2. Sold several print books
  3. Had 1 author tea date
  4. Sent beginning of year newsletter
  5. Wrote a short story for the WCPNW anthology
  6. Redid my interior files to fix a typo and editing issue from For the Love of Donuts Book 1
  7. Wrote 6 book reviews on my blog
  8. Read 12 books

Here are my goals for Q2:

  1. Run a giveaway
  2. Sell more print books (half of what I currently have in inventory)
  3. Give out review copies of books
  4. Redo all interior files for Seize the Donut, At One’s Beast, Ataxia and push to all marketplaces
  5. Create another niche coloring book
  6. Read 25 books
  7. Write 6 book reviews on my blog
  8. Create a promotion and marketing plan for the rest of 2020
  9. Write 1 short story
  10. Send out 1 newsletter

Enter my Q2 giveaway HERE:

Green GF pancakes for St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast

GF homemade pizzas with a mix from my favorite section in the grocery story (the squished can section)

What are your goals and how are you meeting them?

True Cost – Mexico City for 10 days in 2020

We touched down Friday night and I’ve been itching to fully record and go through all the expenses from our trip to Mexico City. Our first two expenses were the majority of our travel costs, i.e. plane tickets and housing. We found a lovely AirBnB in Roma Norte and we bought plane tickets from Seatac to Mexico City (MEX) for $940 each (I went with my partner and SO). The plane ride there was overnight and left at 10PM. We scored the row to ourselves (as did most of the other flyers on this less-than-full flight). They even gave us food a few hours in! Arriving early, we were initially wondering what to do prior to checking into our AirBnB but our host graciously let us check in 6 hours early and we took a much needed nap!

Surprising things:

  • The altitude is no joke! I could feel it in the shallow breaths that didn’t quite have as much oxygen as I wanted (almost like asthma) and how difficult it was to walk up stairs without becoming short of breath. I’m very glad we didn’t schedule our Teotihuacan trip until several days into our stay.
  • The traffic – if you are within a mile of your destination – driving might not be faster and Ubers don’t turn on their air-conditioning (opening the windows doesn’t create much of a breeze when you’re not moving that fast). There are lots of ride share bikes and some ride share scooters available but we decided not to stress about it and just walk. There was always traffic and it just got worse during ‘rush hour’.
  • The more popular restaurants were crowded all the time! Contramar, a fancier seafood restaurant, was always busy, even if it was 3PM!
  • Most of the time we ate at smaller places and they wanted us to pay after we were done eating. Sometimes it was confusing knowing how to order, where to stand in line or even if there was a line, and how to pay!
  • Most of the people who live and work in Mexico City don’t make a lot of money and their rent is surprisingly high! Our Merced tour guide told us that rent is oftentimes as much as a month’s pay (Mex$8,000) for a single bedroom. He told us that tips make up 30% of his take home pay. Tips are not obligatory in Mexico City, but after hearing this, I went from happily tipping nothing or 10% to 15% at every restaurant (and 20% at the fanciest/most attentive restaurant we ate at).

What I really loved about Mexico City:

  • How affordable it was for us
  • Being able to communicate almost all the time with the Spanish I know (rather rusty from not using for 10 years)
  • Being able to walk everywhere (so many little shops, cafes, and restaurants really close to us)

Recommend places to eat and what to get:

  • The Secret Donut Society – such a cool experience. The donut was just okay, but figuring out how to order and find your donut was rather exciting
  • Mog sushi (for a change of pace get some sushi – our favorite that we tried was the Spicy Maguro roll)
  • La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles (all the sandwiches tasted the same to me but if you order the “bomba” I think it’s a combination sandwich)
  • 5 Hermanos in La Merced (Aisle 9) and get the Longaniza tacos!
  • Moles Dona Balbi in La Merced (close to door 5) has amazing Almond mole and other moles
  • La Gruta for the atmosphere and the Ensalada La Gruta
  • El Vilsito – the gringa tacos are amazing! Don’t forget the avocado salsa and limes.
  • Santa Clara (chain ice cream shops) has amazing ice cream (avoid pistachio)
  • Contramar has amazing tortas (appetizer) and queso flan that is divine!
  • Vips (for late night munching this chain has you covered)
  • El Cardenal has amazing mole
  • Tacos Joven – the adobo taco was amazing!
  • Agua y Sal – we absolutely loved everything we ate here, but especially the plancha frutos del mar

Prior to leaving the states, my partner took out $200 USD worth of pesos just in case and we got a decent exchange rate. Our plan was to use my Charles Schwab account to pull out pesos at a local ATM (they claim no foreign ATM fees for withdrawals in Mexico and indeed I have already received the fee back from my first withdrawal last month).

I pulled out $11.04 USD =Mex$200  on 2/26 the first day, $158.45 USD =Mex$3,000 on Saturday 2/29, and $25.03 USD =Mex$400 on Thursday 3/5
Prior to leaving the states, we bought some peanuts and drinks at the airport = $12.14

The total the two of us spent together was: ~$3100
AirBnB: $715 USD
Airplane Tickets: $1150 USD
Transportation: Mex$2,469.50 ($120 USD) + $25 USD
Food and groceries: $12.14 (Airport Snacks) + Mex$12,891.50 ($626.49 USD)
Entertainment: $190.78 USD (La Merced) + Mex$5,357 ($260.33 USD)
Bathrooms: Mex$25
Misc (gifts, etc): Mex$410

Here is the list of most everything we did and everything we bought with our Mex$ cash and credit cards:

2/26 Wednesday:

  • The secret donut society. #5 Mex$50 cash
  • El Pescadito Taqueria. Tacos de camaron, tacochango, que-sotote, quesadilla, Agua natural. Mex$198 visa Rachel CC ($10.39 USD)
  • Panaderia: mocha donut and lemon cookie donut Mex$16 cash
  • Bosque de Chapultepec
  • Street fruit Mex$35 cash
  • Groceries Mex$76 cash
  • Mog sushi Mex$1017.50 visa Jon CC
  • El Moro Churrerria: Hot chocolate, chocolate bar gift, red velvet seasonal churro, regular churros Mex$173 visa Rachel CC ($9.08 USD)

Uber Mex$134.20 ($7.07 USD)
Uber Mex$37.34 ($1.81 USD)
Uber Mex$46.94

2/27 Thursday

  1. La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles Mex$230 cash 5 sandwiches (each type of sandwich)
  2. Street vendor: Hamburguesa de piña y hamburguesas de piña y queso Mex$96 cash
  3. Street vendor Churros. 3 regular and one filled with chocolate Mex$26 cash
  4. Corn esquite from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  5. Bares y Pulques Los Insurgentes: Pulque mango y pulque de la casa con smokey and sweet mezcal shots Mex$340 cash

Uber Mex$45 ($2.48 USD)
Uber Mex$37.33
Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$47.26

2/28 Friday

  1. La Merced tour Jon paid in advance $190.78 USD

1. Tacos McTeo. Carne enchilada tacos with cactus, onion and fries.  Location: In the banquetón (the large food hall that runs the perimeter of the market), near Aisle 16.
2. Fried Tamal. Location: Banquetón, between Aisle 14 & 15.
3. 5 Hermanos. Tasty tacos de suadero. Location: Banquetón, at Aisle 9.
4. Moles Dona Balbi. Mole tasting. Location: close to door 5
5. Señora Edith’s Pre-hispanic Ingredients. Chapulines, jumiles and more. Location: Nave Mayor (main fruit and vegetable building), between Aisle 12 & 15.
6. Tacos de Cabeza (Beef Head Tacos!). Location: Outside the Nave Mayor, in the road that runs between the market and the meat section.
7. El Pollo. Quesadillas de Huitlacoche. Location: In the center of the market Aisle.
8.Taquería Arandas. Tacos de cabeza. Location: Calle de Bolívar 15, Centro Histórico
9. Here we finished up with a refreshing drink.

  1. Farmacia Mex$113.50 visa Rachel CC ($5.84 USD)
  2. Mercado San Juan vanilla bottle and vanilla beans Mex$320 cash
  3. Lucha libre Mex$400 cash
  4. Lucha libre bebidas Mex$300 cash
  5. Lucha libre Mex$8 cash propina
  6. Lucha libre Mex$10 baño propina
  7. El Vilsito tacos Mex$400 cash con propina: 2 gringa, 2 milanesa, 2 al pastor con queso, 1 al pastor, 2 pollo con queso, Coca Cola

Uber Mex$55.53
Uber Mex$84.88
Uber Mex$60.13
Uber Mex$58.57

2/29 Saturday

  1. Maxidona 4 filled donuts Mex$134 cash
  2. Prepared mango from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  3. Pizzeria Cancino Cibeles – large Margharita pizza Mex$288 visa Rachel CC ($14.81 USD)
  4. Pizza tip Mex$20 cash
  5. Santa Clara Ice cream double cones: taro and triple chocolate; lemon and spicy mango Mex$210 visa Rachel CC ($10.80 USD)
  6. Cinépolis movie Invisible Man Mex$167 visa Jon CC
  7. Cheddar popcorn and sprite Mex$109 cash

Uber: $162.59 ($8.33 USD)

Uber Mex$171.85

3/1 Sunday

  1. La Otilia GF cafe/bakery Mex$240 visa Rachel CC ($12.34 USD)
  2. Agua Mex$10 cash
  3. Contramar Restaurant: tortas de Atun y calamari, witch fish, pescado a la talla, pan de queso, lemonade, orange refresher, passionfruit water Mex$1634 after tip visa Rachel CC ($84.03 USD)
  4. Turibus Mex$360 cash

3/2 Monday

  1. Bus tickets to archaeological zone round trip Mex$208 cash
  2. Entrance to Teotihuacán Mex$160 cash
  3. Bathroom tip Mex$5 cash
  4. Sparkling lime water Mex$20
  5. La gruta Mex$1525 Jon CC
  6. Cold water Mex$25 cash
  7. Water Mex$14 cash
  8. Chai tea Mex$50 cash Guell cafe
  9. 5:30-6:30pm intermediate pole class free
  10. Vips Mex$657 Rachel CC ($34.31 USD)
  11. Casa de Toño Mex$85 Jon CC
  12. Oxxo 2 waters, apple soda, 2 toilet papers Mex$64.50 cash

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$165.04
Uber Mex$47.49
Uber Mex$102.41

3/3 Tuesday

    1. Banana flan Mex$26 cash
    2. Pays coranado Mex$276 Rachel CC ($14.39 USD)
    3. En dharma massages 60 minutes with 30 minutes cupping Mex$2800 Rachel CC ($146.22 USD) Mex$500 cash tip
    4. Sabe: Salad of the day, bolognaise, manzanita soda, agua del día Mex$299 Rachel CC ($15.34 USD)
    5. Contramar coconut flan and cheese flan Mex$300 cash
    6. Doble ice creams Santa Clara: pistachio and macadamia; triple chocolate and coffee Mex$206 Rachel CC ($10.74 USD)
    7. Mex$151 cash Taqueria Los Cocuyos: longaniza x2, sesos, cabeza, cachete, Coca Cola
    8. We checked out El Zocalo y Miralto on top of torre Latinoamérica and the cathedral near the zócalo and walked around inside the house of tiles

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$36.99
Uber Mex$71.82
Uber Mex$42.11

3/4 Wednesday

      1. Zócalo baño Mex$10 cash
      2. Turibus purple line Mex$320 Rachel CC ($16.41 USD)
      3. El cardenal : mole tradicional de pollo, 4 tacos longaniza, 2 flan de queso, limonada x2, naranjado. Mex$742 Rachel CC ($38.69 USD)
      4. Mex$55 cash oxxo waters +small items
      5. Turibus sur verde (already paid)
      6. Hot chocolate and mocha from street vendor Mex$90 cash
      7. Dorilotes 2x from a street vendor Mex$100 cash

Uber Mex$70.85
Uber Mex78.25
Uber Mex$116.65
Uber Mex$59.45
Uber Mex$134.68

3/5 Thursday

      1. Tamales Doña Emi Atole de cereza de manzana y chocolate Mex$45 cash
      2. Tacos Joven- Tacos: adobo, chicharrón, carne con mole verde, papas refritas Mex$76 cash
      3. La Pipope, Taro y refresco manzanita Mex$70 Rachel CC ($3.59 USD)
      4. Museo de chocolate entrance fee Mex$150 cash
      5. Museo de chocolate hot chocolate with milk, hot chocolate with Chile, natural chocolate cacao cake, Mika cake Mex$163 Rachel CC ($8.36 USD)
      6. Museo de cero y museo de Ripley Mex$500 Rachel CC ($26.07 USD)
      7. Oxxo aguas y más bebidas Mex$97 cash
      8. Finca santa Veracruz Cibeles ensalada Cam Mex$56 cash
      9. Agua y Sal Mex$1730 Rachel CC ($88.74 USD)

Uber Mex$38.53
Uber Mex$60.38
Uber Mex$59.03

3/6 Friday

      1. Sabe near our Airbnb $205 cash machaca con huevo y avocado toast
      2. Vanilla extract at the airport $90 cash

Uber Mex$124.21

2020 January Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Birthday Freebies!

Financial Independence

First month of the year and I have budgeted $2589 per month. I spent $3006.75 because I prepaid for my flight and half an airBnB for 9 days in Mexico City. I have budgeted $300/month on ‘travel’ and I put $100/month into my Savings goal in Capital One for ‘travel.’ This account currently has $1704.80 so I moved the $940 I spent from that account and back into my general emergency savings fund in Capital One which leaves a balance of $767.14 for travel. I moved the money into emergency savings rather than use the money directly for paying the plane ticket and housing costs because I had some excess cash in my checking account already to pay for these travel expenses. I don’t plan on many more travel costs for the Mexico vacation because I plan to put food costs into my eating out/food budget and anything that isn’t directly travel related into their respective budget categories for the month.

I bought a year’s subscription to Trusted Housesitters, a website where you can find houses to sit or conversely for people to sit your house and watch your pets while you’re away on your own vacation and trip. You can use this link to get 25% off: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

I had to renew my driver’s license (cost of $78 cash for my enhanced renewal) which was absorbed into my transportation budget category

I signed my updated will (cost of $30 at Pony Express).

I still managed to earn $120.23 this month that wasn’t related to my business.

I continue to spend more than I want to for food – both eating out and groceries. I only spent $46.41 eating out (we went out many times but it was covered by mystery shopping). I spent $479.20 on groceries. I have been keeping a close eye on what I spend for food, but we often splurge at the grocery store for unnecessary items (ice cream) or new and exciting items (Thai chili Doritos). I do save money by going to Grocery Outlet and combing through my favorite squished cans section and making bulk meals with ingredients like rice and dried beans. Part of the issue is my partner and I both love trying new foods and eating a variety of different meals. We don’t eat the same thing every week. I did spend an average of $763/month on food last year, so just reducing that number down closer to $500 is a win and will end up saving me nearly $3000 in a year. Ultimately my conservative budget of $400 is not going to be easy or very realistic for our current lifestyle (I buy most of the groceries and half of the bill when we eat out).

One way I decrease my spending is to not pay money for what I will already spend money on. For instance, I like to eat out several times per month and I get to do it for free or nearly free through Mystery Shopping. We went out to eat 3x for mystery shops which cost me $19.86 plus my time. I also recently was hired as a trade at one of my dance studios where I get paid to clean the studio in class credit. I have already saved up enough for 6 classes! We are also working on reducing our rent and housing expenses to $0 after our lease is up in July with house sitting. Finally, it was my birthday last month and I was able to get a free specialty pancakes from Ihop ($8.99 value), a free coffee from Starbucks (a $6.77 value), and a free pastry from Panera (a $2.49 value)

My business earnings for January were $546.24 (as some payments were pending and didn’t clear until February so the next month will show a much higher earning). I’m not sure what I will be paying in taxes so I will plan to set aside at least 30% of all that money and put it into my savings account at BECU, to save around $500 to have in the account at all times to pay for expenses. I did spend $27.75 on a bus card refill as I sometimes use the bus to get to clients’ houses when it’s snowing. A bus costs $2.75 for unlimited rides within a 2-hour window so I can usually pay once for a round trip. I opened up a BECU business checking account at the end of last year to use for my business financials because they have ATMs (I sometimes get paid in cash) and they don’t charge fees.


I started stretching every day in late December and have continued every day (minus one day where I was in a pole class). I follow this Blogilates video and spend anywhere from 10-15 minutes doing these stretches after  completing her 2020 challenge! After finishing this challenge I went back to the 100 abs a day challenge from last year and am currently on day 15. It’s amazing the noticeable progress I can see with 6 weeks of daily targeted stretching! I can almost place my palm on the floor when trying to touch my toes (from just barely touching the floor with my fingers before). I’m not sure my pancake or splits stretches have made much progress but I’m absolutely thrilled with my hamstring flexibility progress! I have also unfortunately mildly injured my right upper leg/lower butt? I’m not sure what I injured exactly as normal walking or bending over doesn’t make it hurt, but pushing my right hip up and out makes it flare up right below my butt and when I do the pancake stretch it hurts in that area. Now I cannot stretch my pancake but do the legs one at a time and gently stretch that side.

Here are my fitness stats for the month:

  1. Biking: 10 miles
  2. Pole classes: 3


  • I sent out a 2019 summary and 2020 goals newsletter
  • I signed up to write a short story for my writing group’s next anthology (haven’t written it yet)
  • I sold 12 print books from my inventory
  • I ran a giveaway and gave away 2 Donuts Books, 2 of Nichole’s Book of Practical Things, and 2 Vanessa’s Book of Awesome Things
  • I read and reviewed 2 Indie books

Don’t forget to come visit me this February at the following event:

Come see me and get all of my novels this Sunday from 12PM – 1PM at the Enso Center Winter Marketplace! The event goes from Saturday to Sunday, but I will only be there for a limited time on Sunday. All four of my novels will be on sale for just $10 each.

Since my partner and I plan to move out of our house at the end of June and stay with friends, family, or in house sits we have to par down our belongings. This means that I have lots of items to sell and donate! I have to say goodbye to my glass jar and box hoard. We are Tidying Up!

Here is a picture of my homemade (from a gluten free squished bag chocolate baking mix) and cheesecake frosting with Taro powder as coloring that I piped myself!

What are your goals and how are you meeting them this month?

GFF Damian Pole Camp – Gran Canaria 2017

Europe is expensive.

Of course it is. I knew this. The dollar isn’t worth as much as the euro. But I went. And it was one of the top experiences of my life. I’ll never be able to replicate those 9 full days in Gran Canaria. It wasn’t just a vacation. It wasn’t just pole camp. It wasn’t just a Spanish Island. It was so much more.


Here is the breakdown:

  1. 4 days of pole camp (16 hours of training including pole tricks & combos, heels class, doubles, pole heels, beach stretch, acrobalance, salsa, and dancehall)
  2. Gran Canaria is a Spanish island so I got to practice my Spanish!
  3.  Parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing, tanning, drinking, eating, and exploring the ocean and the island
  4. Meeting over 20 people who also love poling as much as I do
  5. Traveling with one of my favorite pole sisters
  6. 19 hours of travel to get there and 21 hours of travel to get back
  7. Asthma getting better and then worse with a nasty cold developed on our last flight back


Culture Shock:

After growing up in a country where people don’t bat an eye when you drink out of the garden hose – not having access to ‘free’ water was a shock. I saw many people drinking juice, alcohol, or small glasses of water. How are people in Gran Canaria not dehydrated? I made it my mission to drink at least one of the 1.5 liter bottles that were sold everywhere (from 0,50 to 1 euros apiece). A little ice water anyone? Most of the water was mildly cold at best and ice was not always available. The glasses provided at the IFA hotel were perhaps 8oz glasses and only available if you paid for ‘all inclusive’ – which was 13 euros a day for the remainder of your stay (you couldn’t just pay for a single day or choose which days you wanted to be all inclusive).

Sunscreen was everywhere you turned but most people weren’t using it or were using a 15 spf or just tanning oil. With my 55 spf facial lotion and 45 spf sport sunscreen, I was the odd woman out. I was also one of the only light skinned people in our group who didn’t turn into a red lobster. I did burn my hairline when I forgot to pull my hair back into a ponytail on one of our outdoor excursions.

You would think that out of a group of Polish, English, Australian, and the two N. Americans, that someone would be fluent in Spanish. I spoke the most Spanish out of anyone in our group. Most of the time, Spanish was not necessary to get where we needed to go, but it was useful to be able to do more than point and speak a few words. I’m glad I got to go to a Spanish-speaking country (island).

What can you get that’s made in Gran Canaria? Not much. Jewelry made out of lava rock. Some special aloe soaps. Beer. I was a bit disapointed that there weren’t any special Gran Canarian candie. Fish? Yes. Sauce? Yes. Chocolate? No.

Everything costs money. Want to weigh your bags before you head to the airport? 1 euro. Want to drink some water? Who knows how many euros. Want to use the safe in your room? 2 euros a night. Want some wifi? 2 euros a day or only obtainable in the lobby. Want a fan? (mind you there is no air-conditioning). 2 euros a day.

I always forget that when outdoors, people smoke without regard for others. I despise cigarette smoke. After a bout of nasty bronchitis following Seattle’s poor air quality and the smoke from the surrounding states’ fires, I was especially vulnerable to toxins in the air. People smoke everywhere in Europe! In the bars. On the beach. While eating. While tanning. While in the hot tub (which is not hot, by the way). While with friends. While walking. I couldn’t get away from the smoke. Towards the end of our trip, the smoke would trigger an asthma attack where I would cough violently with my entire upper body and then suck in air without getting adequate oxygen for about 10 seconds. The night before we left, I coughed so violently I vomited. I broke my record for not vomiting on planes as my coughs were still so hard that I vomited three times on our second flight and was very afraid of any coughing thereafter.

Where was all the wifi? Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes you had to pay and sometimes it was free. It was never very fast…

Anybody else notice all the cats? We saw at least 7 cats lounging in the sun, some in better shape than others.

The food was so delicious! I just wish there were more vegetables! Every day at the IFA was a buffet and I tried so many new dishes! I even went to the McDonald’s closest to us (nobody there spoke English). I had a super sweet cider (Kopparberg), a European KitKat, rock hard donuts, and every smoothie under the sun.

And I didn’t forget about the donuts! I found a lot of packaged donuts and then hit the jackpot with this delicious Oreo donut (0,70).


What about the pole camp classes?

I got into some pretty rad poses and did some awesome combos! These pictures are courtesy of Instagramer #kandipicss and #gffdamianpolecamp

Shout out to Kasia for her amazing beach stretch classes and rolling with it when the sand was so dirty we devolved into handstands and running into the water. Her flexy pole class was still within my reach, which was amazing since I’m still at the beginning of my flex journey.

Shout out to Sam and Dan. Their doubles class was so amazing and their doubles poses were spectacular. Dan’s pole heels class had such great choreography and I loved his static poses we worked on in both intermediate and advanced. Sam’s advanced spin pole combo was fantastic and I’m glad I got at least one gravity-defying butt pose (not sure of the name haha but it’s pictured below as my last pole picture).

Shout out to Artur for all the photos, videos, and the cardio! I loved the salsa choreo we learned. Dancehall was fun until all those squats! Then it was a challenge to stay low! I still can’t get the hang of moving my hands in half time to my hips.

Super shout out to Damian for an amazing trip and a very organized trip at that. His class was a whirlwind with moves I was very unwilling to try (hands around your neck to hold the pole), willing to try but failing to grasp, attainable at a later date, and an aha I’ve got it move! I can’t wait to go back and practice these moves. Thanks for letting us take video back with us and for all the epic, funny, and profile-worthy photos!

Another super shout out to my pole sister Rockin’ Kandi for encouraging (and there was a lot of that in the beginning) me to go and rooming with me, putting up with my coughing, going everywhere with me, sharing poles, and doing doubles with me.

Thank you to all the other polers on the trip. Tak? I had so much fun poling, laughing, sharing taxis, going out, eating, sitting by the pool, goofing off, stretching, getting sandy together, and everything else that went on in class and outside of classes.

A final thank you to Dragonfly for the gift certificate for winning the street pole challenge with Rockin’ Kandi!

Our instructors were so amazing! My favorite class was probably the doubles class. After the first day, where I opted to try both intermediate and advanced classes and poled for 4 hours instead of 2 (along with the beach stretch and dance hall), on the second day one of my calluses broke and I had to switch hands for our doubles move! I also stabbed my own foot in heels, sigh, because I’m still so awkward in heels. I thought I could fix my incorrect footing mid-air and instead just stepped on myself. I was very reticent to do anything in those heels and took them off for the remainder of the combo. I just made those heels tighter so I’ll be less wobbly in them, since they didn’t quite fit before.

Now the cost:

Round trip plane tickets from Seattle (stop in Chicago, stop in Madrid, and final stop in Gran Canaria and reversing to get home) ~ $1200 but you can pay less if you don’t mind an extra 6 hours of traveling 😉

Pole camp = ~$750 after the exchange from dollars to pounds (the hosting studio is from Manchester). This was the biggest steal since the cost included the 16 hours of pole camp with some stellar instructors and room and half board at the IFA (at times a questionably 3 star hotel). Since we paid around 200 euros for 2 nights at another hotel of similar value and food was not cheap, getting 6 nights at the hotel and 4 days of camp for only $750 was a great value! Most instructor workshops are $45-$100 stateside and we took 7 workshop-type classes along with all of our other classes.

Money spent during our stay ~ $800 (Because I wanted to do watersports, get a massage while there, stay longer, eat out, and buy all the little things this number is higher than it could have been).

And don’t forget that exchange rate! Before we left I clocked it at .84 (for every dollar you’re only getting 0,84 euros). At the hotel our first night we got the fabulous exchange rate of .86, but they conveniently didn’t add the fee that night. Trying to exchange more money later we were only promised .74 rate and the bank only gave us a .76 rate. The exchange place down the street in an auto body shop was only a .60! Our final exchange place (to pay for something we were promised could be paid with a credit card and then later couldn’t) was miraculously .80. Add in the fact that your credit card purchase adds a fee on top of the poor exchange rate and then the business might also add a foreign transaction fee and you’re looking at money running through your fingers like water.

Totally worth it.