"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for January, 2020

Adulting

I was thinking about a Bucket List of places to see before I can no longer get up and go.  Before I jump into that fun list of places, I need to focus on saving for retirement.

I have a decent low 6-figure 401k balance, but I need to double it (or more) to feel secure.  I don’t want to rely on my kids.  This plays into my bucket list travel plans.  It falls down to three questions:

  1. Will I be able (or want) to stay at this job for roughly a decade?
  2. How much do I need to sock away to hit my retirement savings goal?
  3. Will that leave me enough to live nicely today and still save for some big trips?

Answer to all of the above questions:  I don’t know.  That’s the short answer  However, nobody knows much of anything.  The retirement calculators are a pile of crap for the most part.  Actually, let’s have a bitch session about retirement calculators.  Here’s what happened:

Step 1:  I wanted to see what would be my Social Security benefit.  I went up on Fidelity’s Social Security calculator and than the actual Social Security website.  Both were within a 10% range of each other.  OK, cool.

Step 2:  I went to Fidelity’s and then my 401k provider’s retirement calculators.  Both sites estimated my Social Security benefit being HALF of what the previous calculators provided.  HALF.

The cynical side of me says that the investment companies do this on purpose.  Think about it:  the more you invest with them, the bigger their fees.  Thus, why not use fear and extremely conservative estimates of Social Security to get more money out of people.  I know many people will debate the viability of Social Security, but let’s not digress.

I then wanted just a straight investment calculator, so I hit Dave Ramsey’s investment calculator.  Bingo.  I put in a conservative 8% and 10% return.  OK, conservative for me because I am a gambler/high risk investor.  This calculator shows that I will hit my target in 11 years.

To offset my high risk nature, I have my retirement fund in an S&P Index Fund (70% or so) and then the balance is in an Index US Bond fund.  I will keep that going for another five to seven years.  I am not too worried about the stock index fund because one thing I rely on is time.  Time still remains on my side.

When investment/retirement advisers recommend reining back the risk as you approach retirement, I ask, “Why?”  My retirement will be approximately 20 years or so.  Am I really going to plod along in the slow lane for 20 years?  I am not saying to jump into the most aggressive fund available, but I think a growth strategy works until maybe Age 75 or so.

This all digressed from my original thought of Bucket Lists, but don’t worry.  I’ll do that in another post.  This retirement savings question has to come first because it plays into my travel plans.  In my retirement, what happens to my healthcare costs?  What about assisted living?  Dementia runs rampant on my mom’s side of the family.  I need to be ready for that.

But shit, if I have high odds of ending up drooling in a memory unit, let me go make some damn good memories to forget!

I came up with some rules for financing my Bucket List:

  1. Trip must be paid in full with cash that has been saved specifically for this.  No credit cards, no robbing emergency funds or savings for other things.
  2. That travel cash has to be sitting in the bank before the first reservation is made.

How am I going to get there? First I have to get my financial house back on a firm foundation by completing the following:

  1.  Pay off the balance of my debt.  I have a little remaining with the IRS and my last credit card.  That should be paid off by May at the latest.
  2. Fund my emergency savings.  I want to get it to $15,000.  Currently it has $5,000.  This savings is specifically for my “Oh shit, I lost my job” situations.  Depending upon Maggie & Co proceeds, I think this will be funded by the end of the year.
  3. Have another $5,000 emergency “Shit Happens” savings for things like unexpected car repairs, broken phones, medical expenses not covered by my HSA or insurance.  Just a modest savings to cushion me from Murphy’s Law.  This would give me a total savings of $20,000 before tapping into anything else like my whole life insurance or retirement funds.  I think this also can be funded by the end of 2020.
  4. Complete my obligation to my son to pay him a modest monthly stipend while he is in grad school.  This should end in about 18 months.
  5. Boost my 401k contribution by 2% by mid-year.

Am I delaying my gratification too much?  I don’t think so.  I need to do some serious adulting.  Once again, it is very clear that 2020 is my catch-up year.  A year full of small steps and changes.  Nothing radical, just a steady habit of conservative, frugal choices to set my ship on a clear course to calm waters.

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Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Kicking Butt

I have started 2020 with some big physical reaches/challenges.  First is signing up for my company’s corporate 5K run in April.  I have never participated in a 5k much less run that long a distance.  I am training using None2Run which is going really well.  I just completed Week 2 (LOL) with out swearing, so that is already a win.

My next physical challenge is a company weight loss challenge.  I had tried one last August, but there was so much other stuff going on with planning my move, long commute, etc., that I floundered.  Not this time!

I have been doing well with staying on a schedule, planning my food, exercising every day and I am already seeing positive results.

To kick up the weight loss, I toyed with the idea of doing another Whole 30.  A Whole 30 isn’t a huge switch from my current diet habits, but I need to think about it another day or so.

The weight loss challenge is based on the percentage lost, not total pounds so the playing field is leveled.  I inadvertently helped myself the night before the first weigh-in by making cornbread in my cast iron skillet.  DO NOT DO THIS if you live alone.  I ate way too much.  I stashed the rest in the freezer to save myself.  Ugh.

I enjoy giving myself some goals and activities a bit outside my comfort zone.  I have a quote on my bulletin board at work:

“Great things never come from comfort zones”

So true, so true.  I have hung outside my comfort zone before, so the unease is not unfamiliar.  Time to push myself again.  Happily this push is in the areas of my health and not work or money.  I feel safe and secure in those two areas.

Now let me make plans to crush my weight-loss competitors……

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Photo by Linda Xu on Unsplash

Vision Board Party

Good grief — PEOPLE!!  They continue to astonish me.

I was 20 minutes from the start of my Vision Board party when it because clear that I was going to only have ONE PERSON out of the TEN I invited was showing up.  Was I pissed?  Yes, a bit.

Pissed at two cancellations that occurred about an hour from the start.  Annoyed at the other person who cancelled at 8:30 the night before and another who cancelled on Friday.  Plus add in the five who didn’t even acknowledge their invitation or a follow up email.

There I sat all ready to go.  Food and drink purchased.  A simple but elegant spread prepared, a table laid out with scissors, vision boards, glue sticks, etc.  It was so frustrating.  I wasn’t sad which I found remarkable.  I give myself massive kudos for not giving up and having a pity party for one.  I didn’t cry or curl up in my bed in the fetal position.

I realized that it wasn’t me.  It was them.  I toyed with the idea of cancelling completely, but I said “fuck it.”  I called my one guest and explained the situation.  She was the realtor and co-worker who helped me find this place, so she still wanted to come by.

I was hopeful perhaps a few non-responders would surprise me, but they didn’t. It was just me and M.  We drank a bottle of champagne, noshed on the delicious food and chattered away for a couple of hours.  Our vision boards are fabulous.  I had a wonderful afternoon in spite of the no-shows.

That is a lesson in itself.  I didn’t allow myself to wallow in self-pity.  I didn’t blame myself.  I forged ahead with what life gave me and it worked out just fine. I drank a lovely bottle of champagne with my guest and I feel good.

Now, what do I say to the non-attendees if they say something?  Do I tell them to truth and let them feel uncomfortable for standing me up?  My first thought was to be graceful and fib a little, but no, I am not going to.  If they feel awkward, then that’s on them.

Perhaps that’s the other lesson to learn from today — forgiveness.  I am sorry they couldn’t make it today, but you know what?  It did not ruin my day.  I enjoyed it regardless.  I am so terribly proud of myself for that.

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Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash

20 for 2020

I have been talking about my 20 for 2020 which comes from my girl, Gretchen Rubin.  I could not bring myself to do a 19 for 2019 because my head simply wasn’t in a place for it.  2020, new year, new decade, is a different story.  Here it is, in no particular order:

  1. Organize the 5 boxes of photos and photo albums.  An albatross of family memories I need to get cleaned up.
  2. Vision Board Party – I will be able to cross this one off by the end of January.
  3. Get both my general physical and gyn check-up.  Ugh, but it must be done.
  4. Flu shot – 2x.  I just got the first and I will get the second in the Fall.
  5. Pay off debt.  Thanks to my dad, this is almost 100% complete.  I hope to knock out even the car payment in 2020.
  6. Save $3000 in my emergency fund.  I want to have a more robust EF, but this will almost double what I already have set aside.
  7. Go to 3 live music events.  I love live music and whether it is a big concert or something small, I need more of this in my life.  Bonus points if it is outside.
  8. Connect with my Cousin Heloise.  I have a cousin (our grandparents were siblings, so however that works out) and she lives right in my backyard.  I have her phone number, now I just need to make the call.
  9. Try one new social event each month for 6 months.  This is part of my effort to work on my relationships (i.e. make some new friends up here).
  10. Go the beach for the day –  6 times,  I love the beach and I really need to make more time for it.
  11. Plan a special trip.  I don’t know if I will take it, but I want to start thinking about where, when, etc. logistics of a bucket list trip.
  12. Embrace YNAB and use it weekly.  Ugh, this may be one I  struggle with.
  13. Try two new sport/fitness activities.
  14. Ride the Palm Beach bike path.  I better hop on this before summer creeps up on me.
  15. Go visit my dad in his new assisted living digs.
  16. Visit a particular state park nearby on the ocean.
  17. Try 3 new beaches so I can find “my” beach.  Yes, it ties into going to the beach 6 times (#10), but I want to experiment.  Thus, it gets it’s own #.
  18. Have a spa day.  I love a good massage and it has been too long since my last spa day with facials, wraps, massage and the like.  I want a big indulgent spa day.
  19. VOTE!  I want to be an informed voter, so I need to understand local politics and the candidates better.
  20. Embrace my bullet journal.  First I have to start the damn thing, then I want to use it regularly.

What is interesting as I read over these none are specific to weight loss which is a big push for me this year.  Few are tied to exercise goals, another focus area.  Most embrace my “relationship” theme.

There you have it.  Big things and small things, but all of them are SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-based).  Yes, I know the A can often mean attainable, but to me that is too much like realistic, so I swap it for action.  Anyway, I will be writing throughout 2020 as I cross these off my list.

Have you made any goals for 2020?  Please share!

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Photo by Denise Karis on Unsplash

Live the Bigger Life

“Live the Bigger Life” and “Step Into the Future” are mantras that Gretchen Rubin and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, discussed on their podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.  Live the bigger life — what does that mean?

Back in Episode 237, they talked about when faced with choices, you should choose the choice that expands your life.  Gretchen used the example of getting a dog.  In her very rational mind, the pros and cons of a dog were equal.  She got Barnaby because she thought he would provide a richer experience for her family.  She was right.

This concept is what I was searching for the Fall of 2019.  I wrote this post back then, put it aside and now I found my handwritten notes and the concept still resonates with me.  My relationship shift with the Hunter (meaning me moving an hour away from him) is part of my effort to Live the Bigger Life.  I want a life filled with the richer experiences that I enjoy.  Simple things such as farmers markets, live music, morning walks, cooking new foods, community events and more.  The Hunter doesn’t care for most of these activities. Live the Bigger Life for me involves experimenting with exercise and diet.

I believe by minimizing certain aspects of my life and my living arrangements, including my relationship with the Hunter, leaving the chaos of Miami behind will free me up to live the Bigger Life.  That is what I have been striving for with all of these changes, but until I heard that mantra, I didn’t have words to articulate it.

I have been nervous about my big changes.  Don’t think for a minute that I am not.  As I approached my big move, I got a bit more nervous.  Nervous about my new budget, if my stuff fit in my cozy apartment, nervous about throwing all my eggs into my new job basket.  I made a huge change this past Fall, but I did it in the hopes of leading to a Bigger Life.

I am still in the process of defining this new phase of my relationship with the Hunter.  He has expressed some discontent with it.  The distance is an issue.  I am in no hurry for any changes in our relationship status, which to me is dedicated monogamy.   I have asked him to give us some time to settle down into routines.  We have not had enough time to determine if this works or not.  Let’s see if he can step aside from societal norms.  I don’t know why we need to structure and define it, but time will tell.

In the same podcast episode, (fantastic episode — I highly recommend it), Gretchen mentioned the interesting concept of time being “stretchy” or elastic.  How if we really want something in our life, we will create a way for it to fit in.  I agree 100%.

When I look back at my years of raising my kids, I wonder how the heck did I get everything done.  I had a long commute, defined daycare hours, kids to be fed and bathed every day.  How did I do it?  My Ex was little to no help.

Anyway, this stretchy time concept lead into their chat with Chris Guillebeau, author and podcaster of Side Hustle School.  He talked about side hustles and how they can enrich your life.  Sometimes I think I want a side hustle.  I think my potential side hustle would enrich not only my bank account, but my life.  I haven’t been able to focus on it due to all the recent changes in my life.  However, it has never left the back of my mind.  I sometimes think I have a good idea and then again…

Live the Bigger Life.  For now, defining that on my own terms is a big enough challenge.  Part of my 2020 settling into my big changes will include thinking about a potential side hustle.  Stay tuned.

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Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Wanna be a Rock Star?

I had a surprise visit from my BFF.  She had a job interview in my neck of the woods, so we grabbed a last minute drink.

She insisted on a particular spot — a high-end restaurant she recalled from several years ago.  As we chatted, it began filling with regulars and the bartenders catered to those.  My BFF is back on the prowl for a rich man, but this spot was too old and all couples.

Our conversation was interesting in retrospect.  I was a bit put off by it and felt unsettled both during and afterwards.  My defenses were up as my BFF launched an almost full assault on my current life and choices.

She inquired about my goals, any career growth plans, what growth potential does my current job hold, etc.   Then she segued into my relationship with the Hunter.  Was I going to move back in with him eventually or break it off?  Did I not think I could find a man who would take care of me financially and that I would want to live with?  She had no contentment with my status quo.

This conversation was all done in a seemingly loving friendly way designed to push me forward.  I left our get-together feeling unhappy and unsettled.  The day had started with me dancing nekkid around my apartment and ended with me in a gloomy self-reflection.  Oh, watching that Jeffrey Epstein special did not help.

As I sat back and thought about it, I realized some very key points:

  • All this push for me to achieve is really about my BFF’s perception and definition of success.  She wants to earn $1 million and she is perfectly capable of it.  I don’t.  Just hand me a winning lottery ticket instead.
  • She ties happiness to money.  I no longer believe that lots of money equals happiness.  I believe that a stress-free work environment and a simple lifestyle frees me to be happy,
  • She is still struggling to come to terms with her early workaholic life choices that resulted in no marriage and no kids.  She wanted both.  She is still looking for a marriage to a rich guy who would take care of her.  I get it.  She has spent her entire adulthood being solely responsible for herself.  However, I had the long marriage and kids plus I don’t need nor want a man to take care of me.  I explained that I have zero desire to take care of anything — even a plant is a bit more of a commitment than I am willing to make.

I woke up the next morning and realized that this evening was about her, not me.  She may have thought she was turning the spotlight on me, but it really wasn’t.

When she pushed me on my 2020 goals, I explained that I had no big reaches because I had made so many changes in 2019.  2020 is a coasting year for me. A year to sink into the reality of all my 2019 changes.  Yes, I made a 20 for 2020 list, but there is nothing earth-shattering on it.

My doubts are gone.  She is still looking to be the rock star.  God bless her and I fervently hope she gets there.  I am happy to be in the audience singing along and flicking my lighter.

Not all of us will be rock stars.  The vast majority of us are not and that is perfectly OK.  That may be my biggest lesson of 2019.  You don’t have to be the lead singer.  You don’t even have to be part of a successful band.  You can be in the audience and just as happy with your life.  It’s OK.

So I sit here in my simple apartment with the crockpot brewing my week’s meal prep.  I spent the weekend scrubbing down my little abode, running errands, working on my taxes and bills.  I went to a small art festival with another GF.  Guess what — all of this makes me happy.

In my mind, I am a rock star.  It’s just that my stage is smaller.  That’s all that matters to me.

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Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

 

 

Relationships

Relationships – that is my word for 2020.  I love goals, action/strategic plans and all that stuff.  I hear the groans, but I am a sucker for a good planner.  Plus I don’t actually achieve many of my lofty ambitions, but I like the thought and planning behind it all.  I just happen to suck at the execution.  “To thine own self be true.”  Yep, execution is my Achilles heel.

I have tried this picking a word to be my theme for the year.  In 2019 about midway, I chose “journey” because I was on quite the journey. This year, my word is “relationships”.  The more I have been thinking about this word, the more I like it.  There is so much I need to do with various relationships in my life, but two are first and foremost:  money and food.

I need to improve my relationship with money so I never get myself in dire straits due to my own foolish spendthrift ways.  I would like to say that I am cured, but I am not.  I have bills to pay, savings to create, a retirement looming sooner than I care to admit. My 401k paints a pretty rosy picture if I croak by 84.  I would like to see 90 plus what if the stock market tanks again or I have significant health issues? I need a back-up/margin of error/robust savings.

I started with You Need a Budget.  Shit, it is a mind teaser.  Since I failed Accounting in college and barely scraped by Economics (mostly because I was sleeping with a grad student who tutored me through it), this struggle with YNAB is not too surprising.  But my brain needs to learn new things, so I will push through.  It is encouraging (?) to see folks on the FB page confessing it took them several tries before it clicked.

Next on my relationship list is food.  My relationship with food is improving.  I have never eaten as healthy as I am eating today.  Corinne Crabtree, the weight loss coach, said something so true about my food choices.  She said that if it came from the ground or has eyes, eat that.  That is basically the most diet advice she gives.  This has been what I have been focused on doing lately.  Good, natural food –  no processed meats, reduced meat, no processed foods with additives, preservatives and the like.  I am following along with the Mediterranean Diet guidelines which hopefully will yield results.

I have my sugar addiction (another relationship, but a bad one) tamed for the moment.  I cook virtually all of my food.  Take-out is non-existent with me and dining out is a big, rare treat.  However, like any addict, I know I could lapse easily.

Right now my brain has been telling me to have a drink after work.  It’s a new mind worm from my inner devil.  I rarely drink and my brain is saying, “Have a cosmo and unwind.”  Yeah, that cosmo is full of sugar.  Then it swaps to “then have some red wine because that is on the Mediterranean Diet”.  Yeah, I have a $20 bottle, nothing cheap and I don’t drink enough to make it worthwhile to open it.  I don’t want those extra calories.  Ugh.

Just like any addict, I need to take it one day at a time.  I need to divert my mind from the cravings.  I need to plan, make healthy choices and think calmly about how my stomach feels before and after a meal.  Not too full either way is my goal.

I gained 15 pounds last year due to stress eating.  I have to stop gobbling food and drinking when I am stressed or happy.  I must learn to treat food only as fuel and not my dopamine fix.  That is one of my key relationship goals this year.

Tied to the weigh issue is another relationship for me to improve:  my body/health.  I love my body, no matter how much she weighs.  She has given birth to two beautiful, healthy kids.  She has remained healthy no matter how poorly I have treated her.  I need to treat her better by getting into shape, getting complete physicals and making sure her fuel is top-notch. Otherwise how will I hit 90?

In a moment of inspired insanity, I committed to running a corporate 5k run in April.  I have started training this week.  I want to run with all my colleagues.  My boss is a fitness empress — she’ll run that damn thing in about 10 minutes.  I just want to finish it without paramedics. I am using the None 2 Run program for this insane goal.

Personal relationships fall into my 2020 goals also.  I want to make new friends in my new locale plus maintain the existing ones.  I have a distant cousin nearby that my Aunt recently told me about.  I have her phone number, so I need to call her and see where that leads.  There is a lot to be thought about in personal relationships, so more will come as the year moves forward. The Hunter and I have had some interesting conversations as we feel out this new phase of our relationship. Hey, Love – I am talking about us – LOL.

2019 was a big year of change for me.  I truly want 2020 to be one of re-grouping.  That is why I like my word.  Relationships tie into this re-grouping and re-centering as I settle down into my next chapter.

What is your word?

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Photo by Brittney Burnett on Unsplash

 

The Big 500

I began this blog back in 2014 and have reached 500 posts!  My initial purpose for blogging was to tackle the issues/ thoughts/feelings I was having about being a 50-year old woman facing divorce, dating, sex, more sex, dating, sex, relationships and sex.

However, as I continued to write, this blog became the place I sat down to unpack my feelings, concerns, fears, and happiness about my life.  I find it hard to believe that I am six years away from my divorce.  It seems so long ago and yet so recent all at once.

On this blog, I have dug around and unpacked my anxiety about work and trying to earn a decent living.  That has been my biggest topic of late.

I have also looked at relationships with my kids, my dad and the Hunter.  I might not have been forthcoming about the Hunter recently because the man keeps sneaking on and reading my blog and then getting upset.  Geez, what a vicious cycle. Plus there simply isn’t much to say about us right now.  We simply…are…

My Dear Readers, you who give me a few minutes of your precious time, have provided wise words of advice, encouragement and general comments.  Thank you.

I have no idea what the next 500 posts will be about or if I will even make it to 1,000 posts.  What I do know is that this blog has been far cheaper than a therapist.  It has been an invaluable tool and haven for me.  To be able to reflect and stew is paramount to my mental health.  To be able to go back and read my previous posts gives me clarity on what I was thinking at that time.

I was going to go back and curate a “Best of” list, but guess what — I am too lazy to do that right now.  I just wanted to get this post up to celebrate my amazing accomplishment.  Plus to be honest, my first year or so of blogging is really XXX rated – LOL.  Not that I am a prude, but I am gainfully employed, so I will prudently keep them locked.

Thank you for reading.

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Trust Your Body

I had a jolt of reality today. I get daily industry-specific newsfeeds and one article rocked my world. Back during my job search, I wrote about Queen Bee. This week, an article popped up that she switched firms. WTF? She was a partner in this company. Something big had to have happened.

In an uncanny twist, she had been on my mind. I was thinking about my final interview with the CEO and how my eye decided to swell up with an infection. I was thinking about how this was my body telling me not to take that job. I wasn’t listening to it at the time, but now I recognize that my body was pulling out all the stops to tell me not to pursue that job.

We need to listen to our bodies.  I had only had an eye infection like that once before. It was the strangest thing and it disappeared very quickly after the interview.

Fascinating.  Simply fascinating….

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Photo by Gerax Sotelo on Unsplash

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