Saturday, April 30, 2016

Money (or the absence of).

I am terrible with money. In my adult life I have been in debt, paid off the debt, then fallen into greater debt multiple times. I get a paycheck and 2 days later I have no money and no idea what I have bought. I am an impulse buyer. . .see it, want it, own it, forget about it. Going to Target is a mini-vacation for me. Wandering the aisles scooping up any and everything into my cart, thinking that the cheap clothing and cute kitchen accessories would somehow make my life better. It doesn't.

So now I am 38 years old and am nearly $200,000 in debt. That is some scary shit. Yes, $160,000 of that is my mortgage, but it is still debt. $13,000 in credit cards, $28,000 in student loans and then various other little debts - $300 for my phone, $400 in past medical bills - and it adds up.

I feel like we are raised to believe that being in debt is normal, that we will always have a car payment, a house payment and a wallet full of plastic. We are a society of instant gratification - we want a new shirt, we drive to the mall and buy it. Shopping is a hobby, a form of recreation. We spend and we spend a lot.

And now, you don't even have to leave your house. Buying on-line is way too easy. It doesn't even feel like you are spending money. Sites like Amazon store your credit card information and have one-click shopping. . .you see something you want and you literally only have to move your index finger half a millimeter and 2 days later that item arrives on your doorstep like economic magic.

Even your friends are selling you stuff. You are added to multiple Facebook groups where your friends morph into products and suddenly you are buying cleaning supplies, ugly leggings, a monogrammed yoga mat and essential oils to help with your anxiety over having no money.

About a month ago, I was done. I was tired of having no control and being a slave to my debt. I added up my monthly minimum payments and realized that just paying the MINIMUM amount on all of my debts, NOT INCLUDING MORTGAGE, was over $1,000. Throw in my mortgage and it was over $2,000. That is nearly half of my take home pay.

So, I did it. I cut up the credit cards - EVEN THE TARGET ONE - and I made a budget. A real budget. I eliminated impulse spending - if it isn't on my shopping list, I ain't buyin' it. I put a stop to all extraneous purchasing - I don't need any clothing or "cute things" for my house. If I want something, I save the money for it.

No more restaurants, $11 glasses of wine or $40 bar tabs. No more trips to Toys R Us, just to have fun with Max. No more $5 cinnamon dulce lattes at Starbucks because "I deserve it".  No more garage sale shopping on Saturday morning where those $2 and $3 items add up. NO MORE.

I am taking control over my finances and over my life. In ONE MONTH, I have been able to pay an extra $1,000 of my credit card off. Next month I will pay off my car. My goal is to have all debt, except mortgage, paid off by my 40th birthday next year.

In the process, I have felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I am no longer looking for ways to make myself happy on the shelves of stores. That new dress won't make me thinner and that new saute pan won't make me a better cook. I have let it go.

I have also found a new need to simplify - to declutter my existence and to rid my home and my life of old things I no longer use or love. I went through my house and as I sold and donated stuff and more stuff, felt the weight grow lighter and lighter. Things that I have held onto because of guilt or fear. . .gone.

So now. . .I have more space. More physical space, more mental space. As my debt goes down, I feel more and more free. As I declutter my home, it becomes more and more a space that I love. As I limit my needs and wants, I feel more and more in control. . .and more authentic.

40 and debt free. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


I don't know where to start. . .I am a gypsy soul trapped in a 9-5 world. I am not unhappy, not by any means. I have a beautiful son, good friends, a good life. I have a secure job and enough money to pay my bills. I love my neighborhood, and I love my sweet, little 90 year old green and yellow bungalow. 
I just know that this is not how I want to spend my days.
I love to write. I love people. . .their insanity and their stories. I am a nurse and although I left the bedside, I still visit patients in the hospital for my job and the best part of my day is listening to them talk. Their struggles, their pain, their memories. I collect their stories.
I love adventures big and small and I love finding beauty in odd places. I love the chaos of my life. I love color and movement, words and noise. I like to be challenged, both mentally and emotionally. I like to create. I like to grow.
I love my son. He is a 4 year old force of nature, my own little hurricane. He exhausts me and frustrates me, then refills my soul with a single touch. Being a mother is so painful, so terrifying, and so amazing.
I love life. Making mistakes, growing older, growing wiser. Plucking out the white hairs that have been appearing more and more often. Long walks, feeling my leg muscles stretch and that slight pain in my left knee that never quite goes away. Sunshine on my skin. Sweat on my back. 

But I want more.

I am both starving and terrified, curious and and closed. I should be content with where I am and what I am doing. But I'm not. There is a dull, persistent ache that keeps me awake at night, like the pain in my knee. It never quite goes away and I know it will get worse as I get older unless I do something about it.

But what?

What do you do when your dreams are vague but your longing is real? When you know, you just KNOW, that you are meant to do more than you are doing, that you are capable of great things, of amazing things. That you are not living up to your potential, not even slightly. That your hands long to create and your mind longs to explore. That you are not making the most of your brief time on this earth. That there is more you should be doing. There is more inside of you. There is more.

I just don't know where to start. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016


I haven't written for a few months (at some point, I will address that hiatus from reality, but this is not the time), but this morning I felt compelled to share. My soul is turbulent - picture an angry sea, dark and violent with heaving crests and great crashing waves. My mind is pulsing with electrical energy. My body tingling with restlessness. I need change.

All was well. . .and by "well", I mean that life was cruising along at a comfortable speed. I was happy and enjoying the day to day challenges and delights of life. I love my life - my little house, my amazing kid, my eclectic group of friends. I have a stable job and a nearly paid off, reliable car. My phone beeps throughout the day with notifications of texts and messages from a wide variety of people. I am healthy. I am happy. I am loved.

And then. . .a moment, an interaction, a bolt of lightning. . .and everything changes. That sudden bolt of lightning illuminated the world for a fraction of a second. . .and I realized that there is more, so much more.

This is my one life, my one collection of moments, my one opportunity to exist. I am more than this.

I still love my life. I am still happy. But I feel awake, alive in a way that I haven't for a long time. I feel determined and energized. I feel hungry and eager. I feel excited and focused.

I can have this life and I can still have the world.

I know this is all very vague, and I am not trying to be mysterious or evasive. I am sharing this awakening with the hope that in time the changes will be apparent - both the subtle and the shocking.

Never underestimate me.