1. 10 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

    February 9, 2019 ♥ Posted in: Bucket List, Journal, Seattle, Writing by Kristina Horner

    Something about me that’s always been true is that I am, without a doubt, a dreamer. I’m always thinking ahead to the future, making plans, setting goals, and feeling more inspired than I have time to be. I’ve got an extensive bucket list I’m always adding to, I’m always juggling about three too many project ideas, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything. That’s why, now that I am in my thirties, I decided to take a step back and make myself a nice little top-ten list of the most important things I want to accomplish in this life time. That way, next time I am feeling overwhelmed, I can use this as the razor by which I evaluate how I am spending my time. Does what I am doing bubble up into one of these buckets?

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    I’m always looking for good ways to really focus in on what’s important to me, because time is our biggest non-renewable resource. So here’s where I’m at, in terms of what I want to do with this one glorious life I have:

    1. Publish a book (the traditional way!)

    This is always the top of every list for me. It’s something I totally have within my power to make a priority, but it’s one that gets pushed down by other things that might feel more immediate, more flashy, or just plain easier. I need to buckle down and just get something ready enough to go for it. You only get one debut novel, yes — but after that, I feel like the biggest obstacle is taken care of. There’s something scary about “your first book”. I want to conquer this fear to pave the way for my second, third, and twenty-fourth book.

    2. Celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary 

    Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, since we haven’t even celebrated our first wedding anniversary — but this is something that matters a lot to me. I want to make my marriage a priority and work on it every single day, and never take it for granted. I want to be in love for a very, very long time. I want to be adorable little wrinkly old people who know each other better than anyone else in the world. I want to have one big massive joint 80th birthday and 50th wedding anniversary party because all three will happen within 6 months of each other. I just know we’ll get there.

    3. Give birth to a child

    I’m not making any strong goals about number of children or anything like that — I just want to make sure I experience natural birth at least once in my life. I’ll be honest, the whole idea is a little terrifying to me, but I am fascinated by the idea that my body was built with the ability to make the choice to do this. That my body already knows how to do this. The fact that I could make a little human is incredible, and I’m starting to feel it in my bones that I’m meant to do so. I’m not quite ready… but someday. 

    4. Visit all seven continents

    I just feel like this planet is too beautiful not to try to see as much of it as I possibly can. So far I’ve been to Europe and Asia on top of the obvious North America. Hoping to go to Australia later this year, but that leaves Africa and South America. And I’m not ruling out Antarctica. There’s a cruise that leaves from Ushuaia, Argentina (the southernmost city in the world) and takes you up close and personal with some penguins. Someday, I’m going to be on it. I’ve also never gotten over that time I got second place in a contest to win a trip to Antarctica, so amends must be made.

    5. Live somewhere else for at least a year

    Sometimes I lament the fact that I grew up in what I fiercely believe is the best city, because I never saw myself as a person who would live in the same place all her life. I guess I moved from the suburbs to the city when I turned 20, but ultimately that wasn’t really a paradigm-shifting move. I love Seattle. I love how liberal it is. I love how tech-driven and nerdy it is. I love how much there is to do, how many of my friends live here, and how green it is. I love that we care about recycling, and not using plastic shopping bags, and how temperate the weather is most days. I want to raise my family here. Because of all of this, I would love the chance to live somewhere else — just for a little while — to have a completely different experience.

    6. Start my own business

    For four years I was a freelancer, and I made plenty of money — but that felt like “getting by”. What I’m talking about is dreaming up a concept, putting together my business plan, and launching something. I have a lot of different ideas swimming around in my head, and someday I just have to take the leap. I haven’t had a lot of extra time or funds lately for an extensive side-hustle (particularly while planning a wedding and then searching for a new job), but once I get a bit more settled at my new job, some of these back burner ideas might get more love. I just want to keep making things. 

    7. Own a home

    This is something that I’ve been thinking a lot more about, especially as Seattle has taken its spot as the third most expensive city (in the US) to own a home in. It beat out New York City and Los Angeles, which… I’m going to be honest, sometimes keeps me awake at night. Anyway — despite all that — I still wanna do it! I want to feel like a little plot of land in this big wide world is mine. I want to paint walls without asking for permission. I want to live through a messy remodel. I want to have a tiny little garden, and have to learn how to unclog a drain, and have a place to put a couple boxes of Christmas decorations. I want a place my future kids will be excited to come home to when they’re grown up because they have so many fond memories of the place. I want a place that really feels like “home”, because we made it that way.

    8. Voice a character in an animated show or radio drama

    Okay this is the only thing on the list that’s a little silly, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I have dreams of being cast in a cartoon web show, or some sort of radio drama, or just writing and performing my own narrative podcast. I’ve done a good amount of acting, and plenty of singing — but I’ve never just straight up done voice acting. I’d love to help bring a character to life. It just sounds fun. It’s my one frivolous selfish goal on this list and I just think about it all the time. 

    9. Create something wild just because I want to

    This is a bit vague, and possibly could be tied in with many of the goals above (#6 and #8 in particular) but someday I just want to invest in something outrageous just because I can. I’m talking like rent a summer camp and make it a writing retreat space for adults. Buy a house and turn it into an Airbnb that looks like Hogwarts. Turn a whole wall of my house into a 1:12 scale dollhouse and fill it with miniatures. Put on some kind of crazy performance in an abandoned space and sell tickets. Fill my yard with rubber ducks. I don’t know, man. I want to be like that guy in Seattle who turned his house into Diagon Alley for a few months and then let people come look at it. I can’t afford to do any of this stuff now, but someday. Someday I want to make something really outrageous just because it sounds fun.

    10. Live a life without regrets

    This one is obviously a bit more conceptual, but I’m really hoping the end result of #1-9 in this list is that I ultimately achieve #10. I am a person prone to stress and anxiety. I want to do a lot of things. I cannot do all the things. So my biggest goal is to be intentional about how I spend my time, to create things that matter, to love deeply, and to share my life with people who make it richer and vice versa. I want to look back on my life and know I spent my time in ways that bettered the world, or fulfilled me personally, or at least made other people smile. I want to learn to be happy about the things I choose, instead of always wishing there was more time for “something else”. 

    So that’s my list! My thirties have already held some of the biggest adventures of my life yet, and I’m so excited to try to tackle more things on this list. Which of my goals are yours as well? What other life goals do you have for yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

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  2. On being unemployed

    October 3, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    On May 29th, I came back to work after taking nearly a month off for my wedding and honeymoon. I was feeling refreshed and excited, ready to get back to my routines, ready to take on my next project. That day, however, I found out things had not been going exactly as planned at work. I found out that most of my coworkers had been living in an unnerving sort of unknown for weeks, due to hallway talk and things said in hushed voices.

    On May 30th, an email came out letting us know our org was being dissolved effective immediately, and while no one was losing their job that day, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered.

    On July 9th, after a month of not knowing what was going to happen, my team was laid off – along with a whole bunch of other people we worked with.

    A lot of layoffs at Microsoft are interesting because they don’t happen immediately. Though I got the news of the layoff on July 9th, my last day wasn’t set until September 7th. This is because they give you time and resources to look for a new job within the company, hoping you’ll stay. I’m thankful for that time, but what this did was create a very stressful summer, in which I felt a ticking clock constantly echoing in my ears, reminding me how many days I had left to find a new job, how many days until I would be let go for good, how I wasn’t working hard enough or applying for enough jobs or scheduling enough informational meetings.

    All I wanted was to leave the stress of wedding planning behind and start the next chapter of my life on a healthy and happy foot, and yet, instead, I stepped into a new pit of stress and anxiety, worrying that if I couldn’t find another role in the allocated 60 day time period, then I must not be good enough.

    Well guess what. I didn’t find a new job in the allotted 60 day period.

    September 7th was my last day at Microsoft, which honestly felt pretty bad. I loved my job. I loved my team. I loved the work we were doing, and the culture our org cultivated, and I honestly loved being a Microsoftie. I loved the campus. The farmer’s market. The ham and swiss and granny smith apple sandwich I ordered way too often. I didn’t want to leave. I worked hard there for four years, I stopped making YouTube videos, and I leaned into being a ‘career person’.

    And then as quickly as it began, it was over. And I’ve learned an important lesson in not counting on anything as a sure thing, not believing anything might be ‘forever’ – and it’s not a fun lesson to learn, nor is it a very optimistic way to approach life. As quickly as I have learned this lesson, I’m trying to figure out how to unlearn it.

    Now it’s almost been a month, and I’m in a slightly better place with this whole situation. I finally feel like I have time again, now that the “60 day pressure” is off. I’m still working on finding a new job every day, but I’ve also given myself some room to breathe. Your job isn’t your only defining feature. It does not dictate your value or your worth. I’ve been taking a cycling class. I’ve been teaching myself new crafting skills. I’ve been writing and catching up on shows I never have time to watch and playing Pokémon Go again and cooking, and I’ve gone on a couple of little trips.

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    I’m going to find a job. I know I have an impressive resume and useful skills, and soon enough I’ll be back at a desk, back to my commute, back to the routine. For now, I’m trying to appreciate this time, and see it as a gift. How often do you get a few months off? How often can you decide to teach yourself embroidery just because you have some time? How often can you schedule appointments during business hours and go for a walk at noon and actually make it to bars in time for happy hour?

    Don’t get me wrong – I definitely look in the mirror some days and ask myself, “why haven’t you gotten a job yet? Why did the other people in your predicament find something right away while you’re still floundering?”

    But that kind of thinking isn’t helping me. All I can do is keep being brave, keep putting myself out there, and use the time as best I can. No one will be able to look back on my unemployment period and say I wasn’t living it to its fullest.

    Now excuse me, I’m going to go learn how to make glow-in-the-dark slime.

     

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  3. Cherry Creek Falls – Hike #1

    June 11, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Hiking, Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    For the last year or so, I’ve had this inkling that I wanted to start hiking. Which is funny, because when I was young I hated when my parents would make me go hiking (“why would we just want to walk around in the woods when there are books to read?”), and I also distinctly remember in college making fun of the fact that the very first thing you’ll see on anyone’s dating profile here in the Pacific Northwest is that they “enjoy hiking”, like there is nothing more stereotypically Seattle than a loud and proud love of hiking.

    But… I mean. I work at Microsoft and graduated from the UW and started hiking and even recently bought my first The North Face jacket, so honestly… maybe I just need to admit that I’m pretty stereotypically Seattle. Maybe I should just embrace it.

    Anyhow, my friend Jenn and I decided to start hiking. We’ve both been trying to be more active lately, including signing up for (and actually going to!) a gym, and signing up for a 5k (The Bubble Run!) at the end of the summer. And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    25 foot cherry creek falls hike seattle

    The Hike: Cherry Creek Falls Trail
    Description: A hike along old logging roads to a 25 foot tall waterfall on Cherry Creek just outside of Duvall, WA.
    Length: 5 miles (out and back)
    Elevation Gain: 718 feet
    How long it took us: About 4 hours round trip, with about a 30 minute stop for lunch and pictures at the falls, and Jenn struggling with a hurt ankle on the walk back.

    Thoughts and anecdotes:

    This was a fantastic first hike! The trail itself was moderate to easy, with a few tricky mud puddles to cross here and there. There’s also a point about 2/3 of the way in where you have to cross a literal creek, which added to the challenge and excitement. I’m not sure if it’s because we went early in the season, but there’s also about a half-mile stretch in the middle where the trail is really thin and a bit overgrown, so you spend a bit of time pushing through bushes and shielding your face, which was just a little bit annoying but overall not too bad.

    When you get to the end of the trail, there’s this beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the falls from above, but the real magic happens when you hike down the last steep stretch to find yourself at the base of the little body of water that forms at the bottom of the falls. We were disappointed it wasn’t warmer, because what a place that would be to take your shoes off and splash around in the water. We made due just eating the sandwiches, carrot sticks and chocolate chip cookies we’d brought along which enjoying the view.

    The people we encountered on this hike were friendly and had cute dogs, and even offered Jenn a beer after we passed each other multiple times during her ankle-hurting saga. We respectfully declined, because as savvy new-hikers, we’d already brought our own tiny wine bottles. Because we’re classy.

    The only strange thing that happened on the hike was near the most treacherous mud puddle – Jenn and I were cautiously making our way over when we heard a phone alarm go off. Jenn wasn’t too concerned right away, because she assumed it was mine, but I don’t use a phone alarm. I use the silent vibrate alarm feature on my Fitbit. I assumed it was HER phone, but it quickly became clear it wasn’t coming from her direction. In a few seconds time, I was certain either someone had dropped their phone on the trail, or there was someone waiting just off the path, ready to kill us.

    Once we’d cleared the mud, we walked a few more paces, and a man was just standing at the top of the next hill, by himself. It was his phone. He was holding it in his hands. And he obviously had been able to hear us saying “where is that alarm coming from? Whose phone is that? This is creepy!” from just around the bend but chose to say nothing!

    He was friendly as we passed, and we all laughed about it, but I was still pretty creeped out. I might have to write a scene in a book sometime where characters find out they’re not alone in the woods by hearing someone else’s phone go off loud and clear. Probably at night. Probably when their flashlights have gone out.

    For the record, I packed extra batteries for my flashlight, so this fictional horror scenario would not happen to me. Always be prepared.

    We’ve got our next hike planned for next weekend, and I’m so excited to make this a regular thing! Stay tuned for more blog post updates/reviews of the hikes I go on.

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