We don’t have to “deal”

Today, I went to a sex store I’ve been to before. There was one car in the parking lot about 10 minutes after the store opened. I assumed it was the employee. I walked in and saw her sweeping. I continued into the back portion of the store and for the next 15 minutes until I left, she hung over my shoulder. This woman was white and I am not. 

For the first time, in a long time, I felt that I was being racially targeted. Most of my friends and lovers have been white. As a result, I haven’t had to deal with or be exposed to racism. I am very grateful that I’ve had very few racist experiences. 

When someone is covertly racist, I feel uncomfortable, bothered, like something is “off.” Later I realize what was occurring. This reminds me that using my voice is very important. I need to advocate and defend myself. If something feels weird, if someone is making me uncomfortable, I don’t just have to deal. No one should have to. 

Work

Have you ever had a workday so bad that you thought about walking out? Or maybe not walking out, but you realized that the stressors had been piling up and you’re reaching the tipping point? Something has to change. Its almost always me.

I’ve been working for the same company for three years. I deal with customers constantly and have to handle very sensitive, serious, and energy-draining situations every single day. The help I provide is fulfilling. Everything else is simply not adding up. I work at least 40 hours a week. My boss is new and his inexperience is negatively affecting my performance. He doesn’t seem to realize or concern himself with how this affects me. I am the top agent on our team. I feel at times that he takes this for granted. I am not connected to any of the co-workers on my team. I’ve withdrawn from socializing at work. I don’t feel like I am apart of the team or family they’ve built at the company. I don’t want to be anymore. Today, after a meeting with my boss, I almost walked out crying.

I’m not going to up and quit my job. I’m not impulsive. I’m a strategist. Sometimes that gets in the way of the action but I can’t afford to lose anymore time, health, or energy in that situation. I am taking action. I will change my situation and find new work even if it means taking a pay cut. My health and sanity are not worth a paycheck.

I thank God for my friends. Sometimes, I forget why they’re here. I love them and they love me. I support them and they support me. Life is hard. Being an adult is hard. We’re all just trying our best. Remember that.

Money

These past months have been a roller-coaster of emotions and events. I don’t even know where to start.

Let’s start with money. There’s goodness in this area of my life. I recently discovered Dave Ramsey and downloaded his Every Dollar app. Its changed the way I understand my spending and my budgeting skills are scores better than I could have imagined, which explains why I could never balance my budget before. Then I found his podcast and I’ve been listening to it almost everyday. Not only is Dave hilarious but he’s down-to-earth, straight-forward, and kind. He’s like the dad I never had. Any who, without reading his books, I understand that there are “baby steps” that must be taken to achieve “financial peace” and one of those is paying off all debts. I’d already tackled about $10k in credit card debit and cut up the credit card. I realized that having that debt around made me feel stuck, like I didn’t have space to breathe, like if anything….ANYTHING happened, that would be the last straw. That credit card debt was initially from my move from Iowa to Arizona. Then it was from everything from clothes, bills, homewares, anything that I could buy with the hopes of getting cash back. The interest and stress I caused myself was not worth the pathetic cashback rate.

By the time Dave worked his way into my life, I worked on getting my budget under control…or more specifically my spending. I spent way too much money on the regular basis. I felt like I should be able to have the things I want and not be deprived. I felt like if i restricted myself, it was a punishment. This came from old feelings. I grew up poor and middle-class. Money was not plentiful and I didn’t learn how to manage money. I didn’t have tools to manage my money well. As a result, I barely knew where my money was going. I tried apps like Mint and some others but I just couldn’t stick to them. There were too complicated and complex. Once my credit card was gone, I fully committed to debit card and cash life. For the past two months, I have not used credit. I pay with cash I took out from the bank or with my debit card. I rarely make purchases outside of my budget, and when it comes up, I quickly move money around to make it balance out. I keep all of my receipts until I can log them in my Every Dollar app. I don’t sync transactions to my bank account because I need the accountability of keying in every single dollar I spent. Its really changed the way I think about my financial state. I realized that I had enough to live comfortably without being over-indulgent. I don’t have to worry anymore if the purchase I will make will mean I won’t have money to pay a bill.

Now my goal is to tackle my student loan debt. I have about $3k left and my goal is to pay it off my the middle of 2019. Once that is gone, I’ll start saving for a new used car.

There’s no reason why anyone should have a credit card, debt, or a loan. Nothing good comes from spending money that you don’t have and paying more because of it. It took too long for me to come to my senses and realize I can live without a credit card and still be normal. Check out Dave if you haven’t. He’s really helped me and I sure he can help you….that is if you want and are ready to receive the help.

I Minimized My Apartment and It Was the Best Thing I’ve Done This Year

I don’t want to buy for fashion. I’m not talking just clothes − water bottles, dishes, kitchen appliances, office supplies, notebooks. When a new sleek double-walled water bottle that keeps water cool down to 20o comes out, I don’t need it. My plastic YMCA water bottle still does what I need it to do. It holds water. I also happen to prefer my water lukewarm.

Things don’t make life better or make us happier. Getting a newer version of what I already own doesn’t increase my happiness or ease any perceived burden by enough degrees to warrant the expense. They are just tools. We make life better and we make our own happiness.

I had so many things, some days I thought about throwing them all away. They crowded my physical and mental space. Every time I looked at them, I thought about how they are not serving me. How they were drowning me. How I couldn’t think about writing a poem because I had a pile of dishes in my sink or piles of laundry (half of which I didn’t wear often).

In June, I had a garage sale and eliminated 40-50% of the items I own. What wasn’t sold was donated to the Boys and Girls Club. That was really the gamechanger. I had officially minimized my things and now I could focus on how I wanted to live in this new space. I rearranged some furniture to increase the spaciousness. I reorganized the items I still have to make them easier to use, clean, and store. It was like moving into a new apartment. Some of the best moments that have come out of this are:

It takes less than half the time to find an outfit and get dressed.

You know all of those clothes that you have that you haven’t worn because you don’t have anything to pair it with, that you are telling yourself you’ll wear when you lose 10 pounds, that you haven’t worn in years but its in great condition, that looked good on the rack but when you tried it on at home it made you feel bad….I got rid of them. When I look in my closet, I don’t feel unhappiness, shame, guilt, or not good enough. I have all of my favorites and I look forward to wearing them all. I just pick an outfit, lay it on the bed, and get dressed after my shower.

Less time and money spent on doing laundry.

With less clothes, there are less resources spent on maintaining them. I can do smaller loads more often and wear my favorites more. I spend less money on electricity running my washer for multiple large loads. I don’t end up running a load multiple times because I hated hanging laundry and forgot about it in the washer for hours.

Cleaning is relaxing.

With less things, I have less things on the floor because they all have a home now and can fit into my existing furniture. Putting things away takes a fraction of the time and vacuuming and sweeping is a breeze.

I don’t have significantly less dishes than before. I kept most of them. What happened is that the rest of my house became easier to clean and the tasks that used to take the most time and the most energy, I now have time and energy for and seem small compared to before.

I no longer dread cleaning and maintenance and actually do a little bit everyday like, putting away clothes that I’ve worn, wiping down counters, making my bed, washing dishes, sweeping, filling the water filter.

For me, there have been no negatives. I love my new space. I love how I have more options. I love the light feeling I get whenever I am there. Rather than bring happiness, this process has removed stress and burden.

Now that my possessions are under control, I have put more effort and time into continuing the journey to minimize my use of technology to increase time and space for more important things in my life; and to minimize the way I do things to increase productivity and decrease double-work. I look forward to sharing that once I’m done.

Managing Emotion-Triggered Impulses

A few days ago, I was upset about some coworkers on my team getting back late from lunch which meant I couldn’t go to lunch on time. I had to go to lunch nearly 30 minutes later than usual. I don’t eat breakfast. That’s my thing. Lunch is very important to me. After I left for lunch and ate, I was still frustrated. Not just at my team but with work in general. I’d also had some other mild anxieties roaming round in my head I just needed a break from all of it, but I couldn’t leave work. I took out my journal and wrote during lunch that day. Here’s an excerpt:

“I want comfort. I’m glad I’m here at the page instead of down at the food truck or at the vending. I don’t want to eat for comfort but it feels like my brain is starving for it right now. The frustration I feel wont go away after I eat, it will just be dulled while I’m eating. I’ll be distracted. I’ll regret it. I’ll be mad at myself for being weak then try and tell myself not to be too hard on myself.

This is an opportunity to serve my body, not just my mind. My body has a voice and so often I don’t listen. I let the brain’s voice take over because the body doesn’t “think” right?

The body knows itself better than the brain. The body had no sub-conscious. It does not hide things from us. It screams and sings when we listen and when we don’t. With the body, there’s a tangible breaking point.

The brain is a Matryoshka doll. Each doll holds a part of you. As a child, we can see all of our dolls/selves and they are complete and visible. As we age, we are taught to hide certain selves. Our brain learns to do this on its own, requiring no conscious thought, hiding parts of us we didn’t know were there.

Prying them open is hard, painful, and releases trauma. Most people need a professional for this. I did. The brain is so good at smoothing out the seams. The body can burst them open. Sometimes it takes trauma to the body to recognize trauma in the mind. It doesn’t have to get to that point, if we listen to our bodies. We’ll recognize the brain and body may not be in sync and there we start to work on why.

Listen to you body as you would your brain.”

I did not pacify my emotions with food. That was a win for that moment. I continued to write about what was really bothering me and worked to come to terms with those feelings.

In the moment, its hard to stop your id in its ravenous tracks, reflect, and make a conscious choice. That’s best way to grow. It’s a lot hard after the fact, when your belly is full and your mind is drunk.

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