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Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

Let’s Do the Numbers

I have been running through my budget numbers trying to figure out how much money I need each month for the basics and how much I’ll be able to apply to paying down my debt.

Ever the optimist, I am hopeful that I can sell some stuff, take a loan from my whole life insurance policy and with the remains of Maggie & Co, pay about 75% of my debt in one big whoosh over the next 6 months.  I want to do my taxes before I get aggressive with my lump sum payments.  Lord knows I don’t want to be in trouble with the Tax Man again!  This 75% debt reduction is possible, but I have to be smart.

Right now I have $1500/month going towards debt and paying my son a small stipend.  I tell myself this is all temporary and by the end of 2021 I will have that money going straight back to my bottom line.  The majority should be back in my pocket by the end of 2020 with the stipend ending in 2021 as my son finishes school.

The other area I am looking at is lowering expenses.  My cell phone, cable bill, car insurance all have some fat.  I just got a quote that would reduce my car payment 50% from my previous insurance company.  Thank you, Progressive!  I’ll tackle that after my move.

I am not going to rely on side hustle income from the Hunter and a colleague who wants me to do some content writing for him.  That will be just found money.  I am also not holding my breath for the Hunter to come through on paying me back on his Promissory Note ($500/month for 24 months).  It hasn’t been signed and I haven’t heard mention of it every since.

If I can get all of my money sorted out, debt paid off, Maggie & Co expenses cut off, I will be hunky dory.  I just have to keep my eye on the ball and stay focused ….forever.  I was going to write “until” but this needs to be a lifelong habit.  I can never let expenses creep up on me like this ever.  I have to control my money and not let it control me.

Once I have the debt paid off, it is time to focus on paying off my car and then savings.  Saving for retirement, maxing out my 401k, paying back my life insurance loan to keep that healthy and have some savings allocated for things like car repairs, new car, traveL (yes, I have to have some fun), set up a clothing allowance, a fun allowance, more savings.  You get the picture.  I will stretch that $1500 every which way possible, plus it will grow to $2000 once my car is paid off.

For all you youngun’s, listen to old Maggie over here.  Define “youngun” – anyone under 40.  Feel good now?  Anyway, start saving now.  I started my 401K in my late 20’s/early 30’s.  I should have done more, but I did enough to get the match and later slowly inched it up.  Best thing I ever did financially.  Is it enough?  No, but it’s a heck of a lot more than most people have in their 401k.

Worse thing:  credit cards.  Those damn things are the bane of my existence.  So easy to say, “oh, I’ll pay it off in a couple of months.”  Well, if that is so, then I should just save up the money and pay cash.  Just say no to debt and use the cash envelope system for optional spending.

I used retail therapy during my marriage to soothe my psyche.  Bad habit.  I understand why.  I know why for about 8 years I spent over $12,000/year so my daughter could have a horse and go to horse shows.  I know why I would throw money at any problem or situation at hand.  But it was never the right answer.  Money doesn’t buy happiness.  It only masks the problems.  I understand that now.

I also understand that the lack of money causes unbelievable stress.   I read the posts by folks on various FB pages (like Dave Ramsey, YNAB, etc.) and they have so little and are trying so hard.  They are working several jobs, frugal to an unbelievable degree and working so incredibly hard to fix their financial life.  My hat goes off to them.  I admire their tenacity and am inspired by it.

For now, I keep working my spreadsheets, making my plans and remembering that I have to take care of me first.  I also have to remember that spending is optional.

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Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

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He’s Back!

My son is home safe and sound, but he is visiting for less than a week.  He is literally passing through to pick up his stuff and head off to grad school.

He is staying with his dad, which is fine with me.  His dad is living with his GF, now fiancee, in a large house (even larger than what we had when we were married).  My son will be more comfortable there because at least he won’t be sleeping on a camping cot.

But his dad is once again trying to plan everything and those plans don’t include me.  It leaves my son stuck in the middle.  Nobody handles any of this with any finesse and my feelings got hurt. Ugh.  That’s the short, non-ranting version.  But I don’t write this blog to spare readers from my rant, so here goes.

I had made arrangements to have my son’s car taken to a repair shop that is owned by a friend of the Hunter.  This way the car could be thoroughly inspected before my son embarks on his long trek to school.  That repair shop is very close to where my Ex lives.  I set it up so my son could pick up the car a day or two after he arrives.

My son arrived late at night, so I didn’t go the airport thinking we could all get together for lunch the next day.  I had even texted that to his dad.  Somehow that all seemed to go sideways for a spell.  My Ex wanted to take him to do fun activities and things that didn’t include me.

It finally got straightened out, as I sat at the mechanic’s getting new tires.  My son really needs to manage both of us better.  Now I have to wait about 48 hours before I see him again.  I hate taking turns.  I hate when my Ex tries to monopolize him.  I feel like a second-class parent.  My son needs to be more assertive with his dad.  I know he just landed and what not, but really?  There were going to be no plans for me to see him the first day he returned from a YEAR away?

It all sorted itself out and the three of us grabbed a quick lunch.  I got to hear some about my son’s most recent adventures.  I heard recent news of the Ex and his family.  I just have to take a deep breath and relax.  My poor son is dealing with jet lag, culture shock and two very demanding parents.  OK, OK, I get it….grudgingly.

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My Son is the rope in this Tug-of-War…LOL    Photo by Darinka Kievskaya on Unsplash

 

Self Awareness

I was listening to This American Life about David Dunning  and his work on cognitive bias.  Don’t fade on me yet, it is really interesting.  If you prefer to read about it, here’s a link to his Wikipedia entry on the topic.

Basically, his theory is that people think they are smarter than they really are.  People aren’t aware of their lack of ability.  They simply don’t have the self awareness necessary.  Fascinating.  The conversation on This American Life was really interesting because it tied into something I have been pondering for the past couple of weeks.

I sucked at my former profession.

Yes, my whole idea that I was great in my profession was wrong.  I wasn’t.  I’m not.  I’m average at best.  If I had not found this job, I would have gone down in flames.  Maggie & Co. has crumpled into dust.  I got out just in the nick of time.  If I hadn’t gotten this job, I would probably be lining up to sell my plasma or something like that.  Seriously.

I listen to my new vendor who has my previous role and he’s good.  Quite good.  Better than me in some ways and he’s friggin’ the age of my kids.  Good grief.

I thank my lucky stars that I have this job.  I focus on being a diligent, good employee and pray every day that my good fortunate with this company continues.  My boss was telling me how relieved she is to have me in this role.  It has freed her up so much.

However, I also have realized that my new boss is a political creature.  She will never be my friend.  I must always keep my private life just that — private.  She overshares but does it from a need for attention and validation.  I like her.  I think I understand her, but I will never fully trust her.  She doesn’t like to confront and wants everyone to like her.  Those types of bosses can be dangerous.  I just have to remember her likes and dislikes and act accordingly.  I too can be a political creature…

Anyway, I digress.  I have to keep in mind this cognitive bias concept.  Listen to the podcast.  It is fascinating.

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Photo by Pedro Dutra on Unsplash

I’m Chugging Along

Life has been chugging along without any awful drama.  Work is great.  I’ve been there for 3 paydays and another one is coming up this Friday.  Some of my Maggie & Co. business has taken some wicked turns that would have left me gasping in panic if I had continued.  I thank my lucky stars, Karma, God, whatever you want to call it, every day.

I tried joining a gym to exercise in the morning before work and shower at the gym.  I hated the showering part, so I’m cutting my losses by cancelling the membership.  Instead I will just run around my neighborhood several times for 20+ minutes in the morning.  It’s dark, but my neighborhood is lit up like it’s daylight and I feel comfortable doing that.

The Hunter and I took an amazing road trip over July 4th.  It deserves its own post.  Suffice it to say, we had a fabulous time.

I want to write about how I am feeling about the pending move and all the upcoming changes.  It’s daunting.  Tomorrow I go to look at places in the new town for the first time.  I have someone from work helping me.  She is a realtor and does most of the company’s relocations.  She is super nice and I see our friendship continuing (hopefully) after this.

I have no complaints other than the drive is tiring.  Two hours of highway driving every day does wear me down, but at least traffic flows.  I am preparing for a very frugal life once I move.  The Hunter and I have struck a deal that will be my side hustle going forward.  He is winning a new piece of business that will be substantial.  I am so proud of him.

Anyway, I am alive.  I am fat and happy.  I figure the fat will solve itself once I get settled.  Both kids are doing great and my son returns from Asia in about four weeks.  I can’t wait to see him.  He will be packing up and heading off to grad school shortly upon his return, but at least we will once again be in the same time zone.

My oh my am I relieved that I have come out the other side?? Abso-fucking-lutely.  Now I have to help my BFF get there.  She is in her valley of despair.  Fortunately she says that I give her hope.

Anyway, let me get some rest.  My 5:30 am wake up and jog will be here before I know it.

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Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash

My Beach Read

My beach read for my recent trip was “The Naked Truth” by Leslie Morgan.  That damn bitch wrote my book.  Actually she wrote the Hollywood version of my book.

She’s doing the newly divorced 50ish woman re-discovering her sexuality with a flair that only privileged white women can do.  That’s my snarky side peeking out.

Leslie is a beautiful, fit, successful writer with two homes.  That hussy was living the dream — my dream — in her memoir.  OK, enough of my green-eyed monster.  Give me a minute and let me tuck my monster away….

OK, I’m back.  Leslie was right on point.  Her pain, her honesty, her humor but mostly her blinding candor made this book a great read for me.  It reminds me that women in our 50’s with an empty (or nearly empty) nest really need to spend some time discovering and uncovering ourselves (pun intended).

No spoilers.  If you have a chance to grab the book, you’ll spend some time with someone who automatically feels like a friend.  Here are some of my favorite quotes – no spoilers, I promise.

“I was crazy about men now the way Lyon had loved each of his high school hookups.  Including me.  Each of the men in my life was a chip of self-worth, helping me rebuild myself”

“Ever ask yourself what are you really looking for, honey?  Sometimes it seems like you’re willing to pay an awfully steep price in order to feel loved.  That’s what you always say about your first marriage — that the definition of an abuse victim is someone who pays too high a ransom in exchange for love.”    This one hit home for me.

Sara (this is her therapist) had warned me to be careful.  She cautioned that the first serious relationship following a divorce can be more intense than the marriage itself, because after a divorce, you are raw and broken and filled with hope that the next time, you’re going to find lasting love to make up for the love you lost.”  Damn, did that ring true.

“You know it sounds to me like Jake (her boyfriend) is your burn ointment.  Your sexual healing after years of Marty’s (her Ex) sabotage.  But that doesn’t mean he’s your soul mate.  Each man you date now is a building block for your self-esteem.  Not the foundation.  Don’t confuse the two.”  Damn, I need her therapist.  That woman is worth her weight in gold.

“Withholding emotion is a form of manipulation.”  Yeah, I may be guilty of this…

“Part of this journey was, obviously, that I had to learn and re-learn that the way I allowed men to treat me was up to me, and only me. I had to thread a particularly challenging needle:  to find validation from men in my life without completely giving myself over to them.”  Yep, still working on that.

“You grew up in an alcoholic home.  Fundamentally, this means that the people who loved you, who were supposed to take care of you, didn’t protect you.  It’s why you are so independent, and yet paradoxically susceptible to abuse and manipulation by those closest to you.”   This was a biggie for me.  My family wasn’t necessarily an alcoholic home, but it was dysfunctional.  Something to ponder further.

Anyway, buy Leslie’s book.  We divorced nymphomaniacs need to stick together.

Naked Truth

Family, Recharge, Nature

I spent Memorial Day weekend at the beachside town I have been visiting with my family for over 28 years.  It was my first overnight visit in over 5 years.  My first post-divorce stay.

My Ex began coming back to this town about 1-2 years ago.  I was glad he did.  He has been visiting with his fiancee and our son.  It holds special memories for all of us.  To put it in perspective, this is where I have told my kids to sprinkle my ashes when I’m gone.

I was the third wheel with my girlfriend and her husband.  They had never vacationed here, so I was able to provide some tour guiding assistance.  I was careful not to be too pushy with my advice and let them suss out what they wanted to do.

I was so happy to drive up by myself.  I brought my bike and pedaled around a couple of times.  We hit some of my favorite spots for dinner, but not all of them.  They are low-key, so we didn’t hit the busy places or the bars.  I would have enjoyed an evening of live music and drinks, but that didn’t happen.

The weather was perfect.  Our beach house was ideal for the three of us and their dog.  I spent my days walking, biking — busy and I felt really good the entire trip.

This place brings back happy memories.  My Ex and I rarely fought here.  It was a place of peace.  As my blog title explains, this place has always been about Family, Recharging and Nature — the beach is breathtaking.  My drive up and back was relaxing.  I stopped at a waterfront restaurant and enjoyed an amazing view and a delicious meal.  My friends were chill and fun.  My room was cozy.

I spent a weekend completely at peace.  The Hunter fucked me silly before I left.  I wish I had taken my vibe, but that’s OK.  The walls might be a little too thin for that.  LOL.

The weekend was the perfect buffer between ending Maggie & Co. and starting my new job.  I had a full day at home to shop and cook before starting my new job.  I felt fully prepared and eager to get going.

As I sat on the beautiful beach, I prayed, “May God grace me yet again with the opportunity to correct my mistakes and begin again.” Then I enjoyed a walk down the beautiful beach.  I was already in heaven….

Beach Selfie

Beach Selfie

Peace

Good morning! My friends who have dragged me along as their third wheel are playing golf this morning. This leaves me with a precious morning of privacy.

I’ll write more about the trip later. It’s been magical for me to return to a place that holds so many happy memories.

I will slowly be unlocking bits and pieces of my blog. I don’t like having it hidden. I like having people read and follow me. Just be patient and I’ll open it back up. Except maybe the juicy bits like my topless photo. We’ll see. No hurry.

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