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

Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

Benefits of Boredom

I have been working my way through Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed. It is a great read. Sometimes I find her to be a sage, other times she annoys me, but she is always thought-provoking. In my mind, that’s an all around win.

The book has an interesting format. It is part memoir but the bulk of it is a series of short essays on life. I just finished a couple. I find this book to be like a rich meal. Just little bites and then digest. Repeat. Today I read several and am now ruminating on them. In one she writes about the Hebrew word, selah. Glennon writes,

Selah is the holy silence when the recipient of transformational words, music …. pauses long enough to be changed forever.

Glennon Doyle, Untamed.

Perhaps, for me, the pandemic aloneness (not isolation or loneliness) is my selah. A pause. A moment to reflect and even be bored so I can spark my own creativity and pursue some endeavors that may have otherwise been ignored or undiscovered.

My selah is not going to necessarily be holy or spiritual in nature. Who knows, maybe it will. But I am being given a pause and space to reflect, organize my life both physically and financially and now pursue small projects that could bring joy, meaning and/or closure in my life.

I have to remember how incredibly fortunate I am to be in this place. A small, tucked-away place where I am safe, housed, employed, financially secure and content while the crazy storm of politics and pandemic rage around me. I need to double down on my gratitude and use it to create beauty for me and others.

I have found myself kicking up my retail therapy of late. That needs to stop. I replaced some clothes and shoes and had an Ikea moment. I have enough abundance. Shopping does not fill any emptiness I might be feeling. I just purged my apartment and got rid of more stuff than I imagined possible (box of books, bags of clothes and more). I need to turn off the TV or at least ration the amount I watch. Get it down to an hour during the weekdays and maybe a little more over the weekend.

Most of all I need to continue to look inside myself and enjoy the company of me, myself and I. I have plenty of work to do around my apartment. Projects that will bring beauty and closure into my life along with joy for others. How lucky am I to have the space for these things? Let me embrace this time and find ways to fill it with meaningful activities. For now, excuse me. My laundry is calling… LOL.

Small Steps

Small progress steps are sometimes hard to notice until you take a look at the total accumulation over time.  Self-help gurus talk about 1% change and compounding it in order to reach big results.  Unbeknownst to me, I actually did this over the past year with my weight loss. 

I keep a small notebook with my measuring tape in my bathroom.   This notebook dates back almost two years or so.  I write mini entries of weight, measurements and general comments about what I am or am not doing as it relates to food and exercise.

Since September is my New Year when I look at new beginnings, I leafed through the book earlier this week to see where I was this time last year.  This time last year I was 10 pounds heavier.  Say what?  You mean to tell me that even with all my false starts, lack of consistency and other things I have been berating myself about, I still have lost weight.  How about that?  Cue in a happy dance.

That gave me tremendous hope and inspiration to keep swimming.  My small changes have accumulated to meaningful results.  I am thrilled.  I am charged up and ready to keep going.  My brain immediately thought “Well golly, if you lost 10 pounds mucking around, imagine what you can do with your current focus and portion control?”  Perhaps I can double the result.  That would be thrilling and put me within 15 pounds of my goal weight.  Dare I dream tripling it and being single digits from my goal weight in a single year?

Easy, girlfriend.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  I just need to keep doing my small steps consistently.  The past year has shown me how they add up. 

“A little progress each day adds up to big results”

a quote from someone whose name I didn’t save…sorry…

Sore Loser

Today I am a sore loser. Oh I played gracious and nice on camera, but when the meeting ended, I was pissed. Plus I can’t really verbalize how pissed I am because I will simply look like a sore loser.

Well I am pissed and since I don’t feel comfortable ranting about it publicly, then this is another reason to blog.

I was in a contest for public speaking. OK, you know which one. I will have to blur a few details to protect the guilty, me and the innocent. I spent 4 hours of my weekend on Zoom. Yes, 4 hours. Not all on camera, but available, listening, etc.

I had won my club contest and now I moved up to the next level. I had 5 other competitors in my category. My speech was tight and very well rehearsed. I will go out on a limb and say it is probably one of my top 5 speeches of all time. Definitely top 10.

I paid attention to the details by making sure my lighting was good. I set up my laptop so I could stand in order to have better body language. I fucking put on makeup AND lipstick.

I was early in the speaking order, which isn’t always a good thing. I made sure to project energy, strong eye contact with the camera. I had vocal variety, my pacing and pauses were there. I am telling you – I nailed this speech.

As we waited, my club president and VP were sure I had placed. I felt pretty confident too. I listened to all my competitors and it was a competitive field. But my energy, my lighting, my speech’s structure and my winning smile were sure to win the day, right?

Nope, I didn’t make the top 3. That puts me on the bottom 3 and I am PISSED. As I write this, I get angrier. I was fucking robbed. Now keep in mind that I am sharing with you, Dear Reader, my innermost thoughts on this. I won’t say it out loud. But FUCK – I was seriously robbed.

Our club president was texting me and he thought I was robbed. I told him it reminded me of horse shows which can be quite politically subjective. I didn’t say politically, just subjective. I thanked everyone, said congrats to the winners and smiled.

WTF, he and the VP were getting texts from others outside our club who were watching and they thought I had nailed it. I did nail it. Argh.

This reminds me of my days in my old professional life when I would compete for business, do everything perfectly and not get the business due to an existing relationship or some other subjective reason. Fuck subjective. I never, ever win when the criteria allows for subjective. Never.

Argh. I played nice. I will do it again too because I also need the practice in learning how to be a better loser. Right now I suck at losing – anybody can see that. Maybe I should go take a walk.

OK, I did go take that walk. A short one around the small lake nearby. The sky was blue, the breeze was lovely and each step calmed my mind. I was able to recognize that today simply wasn’t meant to be my win. That’s life. I am happy with my effort. I am grateful for my club’s support and encouragement. I stepped outside my comfort zone and did my personal best. That’s a win in itself.

I still hate losing though – LOL. Who doesn’t?

Not my pond. Photo by Kat_ G on Unsplash

Primal Screaming

My September theme of new year, new beginnings also causes me to reflect.  One thing I have been thinking about is my lack of stress these days.  I don’t have any.  Seriously – my finances are fine, my living situation is lovely, my work is pleasant.  I have no worries.  When I say I have no worries, don’t get me wrong.  I think about the big picture stuff of mortality, retirement, how are my kids, pandemic, elections, politics and stuff of that nature, but it doesn’t give stress me out because I cannot control any of that.

Anywhoo, in the context of appreciating the simplicity of my life, I have been thinking back to my parenting, child-rearing days as a working mom.  Good lord.  How the heck did I do it?  I have no idea. What did pop in my mind were thoughts of the days I would frantically be driving to work and be screaming with primal frustration and anxiety. 

Yes, on my 45-minute to hour-long commute, I had more days than I care to admit when I would be screaming with all my might to release the pent-up anger, frustration, anxiety, etc. that was overwhelming me.  Once I finished my primal screams, I would then use my words to scream my emotions into the empty minivan.  I would fantasize of just driving away from it all. For context, I was good for a screaming about about 2-3 times a year, so it wasn’t a weekly occurrence.

What is somewhat funny is that when I thought of just driving away, I would think about driving to Orlando.  Why Orlando I have no idea.  It is 3 hours from Miami and I guess just far enough away from my insane life to feel liberated?  It definitely wasn’t for the attractions.

Perhaps this primal screaming in my morning commute was my therapy that kept me sane.  It was a release for me.  Was it a healthy one?  Who knows.  It seemed to have worked as a band-aid for me.  Somehow I kept it all together as I dealt with all of the activities of two busy, school-age kids, coordinated all the logistics of household maintenance, shopping (including gifts and clothes), social calendar, bill paying, pet care – you name it, I did it.  Where was the father of my children and my husband?  Working.  Going to Happy Hour with “clients”, working on Saturdays (I actually liked that).  He believed that working as the “primary” breadwinner meant that he didn’t have to carry any of the household load. 

Yes, he did drop off for a year or two off and on.  Yes, he handled the annual income tax because he had an S-corp and the accountant.  But he did little else. He wanted me to work 40+ hours and handle all the same responsibilities of a SAHM.  I did the groceries, cooked the meals, cleaned the kitchen, made the school lunches, did the laundry.  I had a weekly housekeeper to help control the chaos which was a necessity, not a luxury.  I bought clothes for everyone – him included, any gifts for family members.  I arranged medical care for the kids and me.  He expected me to do it for him, but I drew my long, overdue line there.

Plus I was responsible for our social calendar.  God forbid we had a simple weekend or two staying home.  That was unacceptable.  We had a full sports calendar for the kids including me being team mom oftentimes, we had family nearby so birthdays were frequent, we hosted many large (12-24 folks) holiday gatherings. Towards the end, we did a 30+ person Memorial Day barbeque.  It was just a very busy time of my life. I look back and wonder how I did it all.  No wonder I had some mornings spend primal screaming.

Now I look back and ask myself, “was it worth it?”  I have to say….yes.  My kids had a wonderful childhood.  We had an interesting, busy, fulfilling life filled with activities, family and more.  I spent too much money, drove myself to the brink of sanity, but I can accept that.  If I had to do it over again, I would strive for more boundaries, but I chose a partner who was never going to co-parent.  Shame on me, but man, we created some amazing kids.

My advice to you young un’s: be more like RBG when you seek a partner.  Go find your Marty.  I am blessed that Taz found her.

Starting Over – a Year Later

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

I have always found September to be the start of the new year for me.  After 20 years of kids in school, my life ebbs and flows in sync with the school year calendar rather than the traditional calendar. I have just celebrated my one-year anniversary in my new apartment by renewing the lease. Additional festivities include a thorough cleaning out of my shit stuff. 

I think I have found the golden egg to my motivation.  Sunday brunch.  I began Sunday with a long, beautiful walk in a new walking path I have been exploring in increments.  I returned and made a delicious brunch of a small goat cheese omelet and mini-waffles. Mini-waffles are going to be a problem.

On Saturday I bought a $7 mini waffle iron from Walmart.  Best $7 I have spent in some time.  That sucker churned out 4” pecan waffles every 5 minutes.  I devoured 3 of those.  The sugar rush coupled with the double espresso caffeine rush fueled a 6-hour marathon of paper sorting. 

First I tackled my bookshelf and got rid of about 10-15 books.  Next I went through my old files, my mom’s papers, tax returns. If it was paper, I looked at it so it could be sorted into piles of dump, shred or organize.  The result is a box to be shredded, a garbage bag for recycling,a bag of books and a half dozen empty binders to be donated. 

I felt lighter at the end.  I looked at my bookcase when I was done and I was very pleased with the result.

I also had an idea for my photo project.  You know, the photos I am always bemoaning but making small baby steps of progress. I have been coming to terms that the photos are only one aspect of the project.  What I really want to do is create a series of scrapbooks that include photos, letters, cards paired with my journaling about these items or the event it captures.  It is a much, much larger project than just organizing photos into boxes or albums. 

To contain the photos during the process and break them into smaller, bite-sized chunks, I want to convert a small 3-drawer container into my “hobby cart”.  I have one that I can hopefully re-purpose for this if I can add the wheels.  It can store a couple of shoe boxes of photos in the bottom, largest drawer; several photo albums in the middle drawer; and supplies in the top drawer.  Then I can move it around and it will have a neater, more contained appearance.  The clutter of all these boxes is what is bothering me the most.

I have mapped out a multi-step process on clearing out, organizing and then decorating my apartment. I was inspired by the Netflix series by the Home Edit ladies.  Although they are a bit too OCD for me, they do have some excellent suggestions on the process:  determine the zones you want, edit (huge step) and then organize.  Only in Step 3 can you have a field day buying containers. Right now I am re-purposing what I have. When I get to the end of my editing, then I can determine what containers I need. 

One of the categories I shed is my self-help and business books.  Is it because I have attained my highest level of nirvana?  No.  It is simply that those books are no longer pertinent to me.  I have moved past them.  I am at a different stage and they are no longer applicable. 

I thought back to this time last year when I packed up and moved up here.  It was a huge step of leaving Miami behind, leaving my 20+ year career and identity, leaving my old,bad habits around debt and money.  It was about wrestling to regain control of my journey.  It was about no longer compromising.

Make mine a double

New Etiquette

I had a fun day planned last minute with some Miami girlfriends. Long story, but they were moving, cleaning and the like. I was invited to go along for the ride and hang out by the pool. Delightful.

I planned to wear a mask in an hour long car ride with one GF and maintain my social distancing at all times otherwise. A change of scenery would be nice.

But….we had 2 more Covid cases at work. One is a person I see every day albeit only in passing. I disclosed to my GF. After sleeping on it, she cancelled with me. She was quite apologetic. I reassured her that I was 100% understanding and fully on board with her decision. I didn’t push or question her decision because I don’t want her doing something outside her comfort zone.

Am I disappointed? Of course! It would have been a fun day. Am I upset with her? Not one bit. I get it.

This pandemic has caused a shift in social norms. I have written about my own reluctance to hang out with friends. In my case, my reluctance avoided a day spent with 2 dear friends who had COVID and just didn’t know it at the time. So when my GF un-invites me, I get it. I have been in her shoes. Trust your gut.

I don’t understand people who want to push their agenda on others. I hear/read stories of people being pressured to gather at social events. It’s one thing if it’s your choice, but hopefully societal norms are shifting to allow people to speak up and step back. No more being too nice and accommodating!

Regret?

I don’t regret anything I’ve done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.” 

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Wow, I read this quote this morning in one of my newsfeeds. I looked at it all day. Regret. I think regret is a powerful, strong word. It represents things undone, unsaid, unaccomplished and so much more.

Which word is stronger – regret or fear? I think that is a conundrum for many people. As Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” I think Thoreau was talking about how fear was outweighing regret. Perhaps the confirmed desperation was partially regret.

I use to have my fair share of regrets. Actions I did not take, things I did not say. However, I have also let go of those regrets. I cannot change the past and those regrets cannot be solved today — the time has passed. It has taken me some time to let go of those regrets. I carried them around in a big, heavy sack on my shoulders. I am still tossing out some leftover regrets on occasion, and fortunately my burden is much lighter these days.

I think Trevor also speaks from a place of youth. He sees regret as coming from a place of inaction, words unspoken. I think regret can also come from impetuousness.

I have tamed my regret and my fear for now. I like to think regret has been stored away forever. Fear, well that fiend will perhaps always be with mankind. For now I have it tucked away as well.

Do you have regrets?

Let’s Talk Money

I have been saving like a mad fiend during the pandemic. There wasn’t really anything else to do. I have loosened my purse strings a little the past two weekends, but I want that to be exception. I need to remember that spending money is not a solution when I am lonely or sad. That had been my crutch when I was married. Man, did I spend some money on a whole lot of stupid stuff.

I am preparing to pay off my car which will reduce my savings but increase my monthly cash flow. I can replace the money in my savings in about the same time I would have paid off the car loan. My savings can take the hit. I prefer to have the cash flow and zero debt.

It will be the first time in my adult life that I don’t owe anyone a single penny. No car payment, all bills paid on time. Savings for retirement, my HSA and emergency fund all accumulating nicely. I have been saving over 25% of my income. Yes, it’s a tad aggressive, but I needed that catch-up. Once my son is done with school and his stipend ends, I will increase my disposable income. I got a modest 2% raise this month which I applied towards my 401K. I am thrilled to have any type of increase during these crazy times and I say a word of thanks for this job each and every day.

When that car is paid off, I will have paid off over $50,000 of debt in the past year. Yes, $50,000 between the IRS, credit cards and the car loan. Wow. Yes, half of that was my dad’s most generous Christmas gift. In my mind, it doesn’t matter so much where it came from. What matters is that I took responsibility for my situation and did what I needed to do to make it right.

My credit score is now over 800 for the first time in my life. I never dreamed getting it up there so quickly. Yes, it will take a hit when the car is paid off, but I don’t give a rat’s ass. I pay off my credit card in full each month and use it only as a convenience and to keep it active. Sometimes I make two payments in a month so it doesn’t get away from me.

I will have a little more disposable income with the car loan paid off because I won’t send the entire payment amount off to savings. I am in the midst of renewing my apartment lease. They foolishly asked for a 6% increase. Yeah, ask all you want, but that’s not reasonable in today’s economy. I have already countered. They have no idea of my negotiating skills, but they are about to find out.

Life is good. I am feeling peaceful. The next big audacious undertaking is to get the weight loss program back underway. I can do this. I just need to make better choices. At the end of the day perhaps that has been my biggest lesson over the past several years — make better choices….

6-Year Anniversary

I have been writing this blog for six years. Wow. I blew past the anniversary last month, but I want to make note of this milestone. Six years of putting my innermost thoughts and feelings up for the world to see.

I have been reading my posts and unlocked a few more. The most tawdry may stay locked, but if you wander through some comments last year the password can easily be found.

What words of wisdom do I have? None. I haven’t been consistent about writing. I sometimes vomit up my thoughts and when I later read them, I wince. It does help me understand myself a bit better. I see my impetuousness nature and difficulty saying “no” as impediments, but once I have recognized them, I have also been able to tap the brakes on occasion.

I have learned a lot by reading the blogs of others. Some are no longer blogging and I miss them. I see the transient nature of the blogging community as a reflection of life in general.

Blogging helps me put words to my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process what is rattling around in my brain. The weight loss coach I occasionally listen to (until her nagging, yelling self annoys me) is a huge fan of journaling. I agree. When I flick back through my posts, I see my immaturity at times, my pain, my confusion, my happiness, my struggle, but most importantly my growth. Damn I have grown a lot over these past six years. Let’s see what happens in the next six years.

Always my happy place.
Photo by Corryne Wooten on Unsplash

A Little Anxious


I have not heard my internal drumbeat for quite some time. I had heard it in March and April, but then it thankfully faded. Now, this week, it started again, albeit softly. My drumbeat is my sign that I am anxious. I don’t feel too much in control and I like to be in control.

Perhaps this is a lingering PTSD effect of Isaias swinging past and we haven’t even hit active storm season. Perhaps it is a discussion board on a professional site about the gloomy future of business. Perhaps it is the hard conversation I had with my son about school expenses, my thought that his dad is struggling to meet his obligations, so my son needs to talk to the financial aid office about more money. Maybe it is a combination of all three and more.

One thing I know is that I am a trifle weary about my utter lack of social life. I am trying to dig deep into focusing on things I can control: diet, exercise, sleep and finances. I am holding back on my spending. That is always a false stress-reliever for me so when I want to buy shit, I now stop and ask why? My cozy apartment can’t hold much, so any purchase needs to be carefully analyzed. I am focused on saving, saving, saving and frugal living, but honestly, that’s boring. No razzle dazzle there, but I do like seeing my savings grow, so I need to savor that.

I need to focus on what does bring me joy these days. I need to embrace the simple pleasures. My Beachbody on Demand (BOD) has been a surprising happiness builder for me. Yesterday was rainy so I couldn’t go outside for my nightly walk. Instead I did 30 minutes of Country Western dancing. This was in addition to my morning 30-minute Barre Blend, which combines barre and Pilates. To know me is to know that I have 2 left feet, no flexibility or rhythm. BOD has been introducing me to my hips and teaching me about coordination, stretching and footwork. Plus I get to look ridiculous in the comfort of my home with no one judging me. I also get to do these workouts repeatedly on my schedule and I advance when I feel comfortable moving on. I really like that. Look out Shakira – when I find my hips, they won’t be lying!

The other thing bringing me joy these days is the simple pleasure of being able to go to an office and be around people. This week is a trifle boring because I am in a lull with most of my projects. I have a few interesting things to do and some not so interesting, but I am around pleasant people all day without pressure.

I am reading a good book. Finished another last night. I have listened to some interesting podcasts. I have a weekly Zoom Toastmasters and this week I have a Zoom bingo night with another professional group. I am sleeping well. I just wish I could go to dinner or brunch with some girlfriends. I wish I had some girlfriends up here. The pandemic quashed all my plans of developing a social network up here.

Part of my internal drumbeat of anxiety is what I am seeing and hearing out of my professional networks. A tsunami of more layoffs and shutdowns is coming. Companies are distributing boxes to employees so they can pack up and work from home permanently, however, as those employees drive off the company knows most will never return. Lots of companies are closing up offices as of the end of September to coincide with the end of the third quarter. More will close up in December so horrific write-offs can be done for 2020. This will enable companies to potentially salvage 2021 after shedding everything possible.

Add to that mess the fact that as a woman over 55 years old, if I am laid off, I will be the last hired. Age and gender discrimination ratchet up during times such as these. Don’t believe me? Go read the studies. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bye-boomer-the-coming-cull-of-workers-over-50-2020-07-29

For now let me be thankful for what I have. I am thankful for my job, my work colleagues, my cozy apartment, my growing savings, my health and much more. I am very lucky to have what I have.

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