action · avoidance · progress

Eating Frogs.

4.21.18

(I was sick yesterday, so this is Friday’s blog!)  

With the last meditation challenge complete, I’m re-listening to the 21-day audio meditation Manifesting True Success from Oprah and Deepak.  Yesterday’s was focused on “T” in the acronym SMART: Time.

On the phone with my new goals group this past Sunday, I told them that, while my larger goal is to write a book (details emerging), my relationship with Time must needs be my other focal point for our 6 months together.

“I cram,” I told the ladies.  In the last goals group, I would do all the writing the hour before the call and felt like I didn’t get out of the group all I might have.  Perhaps by writing a little throughout the week, I could have more time to reflect and therefore more time to evolve.

And, wouldn’t you know, the meditation this week was, “Timing for Success.”

I really liked the reference Deepak made to this categorizing of our daily lives:

  • Sleep time: Getting a full night’s restful sleep
  • Physical time: Time to move and let my body be active
  • Focus time: Being alone for a while to concentrate on what matters to me
  • Time in: Time for meditation, prayer, self-reflection
  • Time out: Time to simply be here, and rest into existence (How do you like that phrase?!)
  • Play time: Time to have fun and enjoy myself
  • Connecting time: Intimate private time between me and those I care about.

What strikes me immediately, and pointed out by my therapist many months ago, is that I make little time for Play.  What happens in that structure is that I avoid or procrastinate Focus time (and Physical time) because I feel deprived:

If I haven’t done anything fun or creative, I have less in the well.  If I have less in the well, large tasks become insurmountable.  And so the cycle continues.

“Fun leads to productivity” seems like a strange concept, but for the deprivation addict that I am/have been, it’s key.  Because the reverse is true, too: “Productivity leads to fun.”  If I don’t put off what must be done, then I don’t feel guilty doing something fun.

When I feel guilty, I procrastinate even my fun!  It’s a terrible cycle.  So I have to shift to feeding all the parts of my day, and therefore myself.  If I want to focus more, I have to play more.  If I want to play more, I actually have to focus!

“Eat the frog first,” as they say.

With the new goals group, I hope to have a bit more accountability for my time—for my play time and therefore my accomplishy time.

Advertisements
action · goals · real estate

One Foot, Two Foot

4.9.18

On Saturday, I attended the First-Time Home Buyer’s workshop put on by the San Francisco housing department.  It’s one of the 2 pre-requisites to becoming eligible for their Below-Market Rate (BMR) units, and in the workshop I learned a number of tools, was dizzied by “math in public,” and was familiar with a number of concepts.  But the most important thing I learned was: I do not want to buy a house! . . .

What I realized sitting in that workshop was that buying a BMR (or winning their lottery once I’m in the pool) would keep me in a relatively small box.  I’d be required to live in that unit… forever.  Or if don’t want forever, then I sell but I won’t make a profit because it’s kept at a BMR rate for the next person.

All this to say, I’d be locked in to the life that I have now, when I have no idea what my life may be later.  That condo on Lake Street that brought me into this whole process altogether?  Well, it’s a 1 bedroom.  If I marry and have 2 kids, as I do intend to do, well, that won’t work at all.  In fact, it’s against the program’s rules to have more than 2 people living in it.

It’s a great option if my life were to stay the same size for 30 years.  But my hope and intention is that it will become much, much bigger.  And so this option is likely not the right one for me.  I don’t mind paying the $900/month rent that I have right now (yes, that’s insanely cheap for Bay Area standards, yet perhaps insanely costly by others’) and continuing to save up my money.

Because what I realized is that while I don’t want to buy a BMR, and I don’t want to buy a single-family home, I do want to buy income-producing properties.  I want to own a unit I can rent out, I want someone else to pay down my mortgage, I want to amass some land, some wealth, and realistically I cannot do that if I put every penny of my savings into the “American Dream.”

Forgive me if this blog is dry to you (don’t worry, there’s a HEAP of emo, relationship, back-in-an-“it’s complicated”-phase update to be written), but I do think it’s important to honor that my vision is changing.  My intentions are changing.  I’m honing in more specifically on what I want in life, and how on earth all the hard work I do every day can support that.

I do not want to blindly go through life, aimless, without goals or actions to support them.  I want my days to support my life, not drip from it.  In order to achieve that, I must learn, I must sit in 6-hour workshops and understand what a “cap rate” is.  I must invent my path.  And part of that is sharing with you the minutiae of real estate acquisition;)

 

action · inspiration · self-care

That’s Better!

3.28.18

Not usually one for a “day in the life” blog, but it seems essential following yesterday’s declaration of time limiting my literary indulgences.  So what did I do yesterday with all my “new-found” time?!

Firstly, on the drive to work, I did listen to The Success Principles… but only after I tried to listen to NPR, to music, (dontwanna dontwanna… oh wow, this is really inspiring).  And so it was.  The author, Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, was describing the “principle” of delegating anything that is not in our “core genius” or core competencies.  (I immediately texted my girl friend to ask for the number of her house cleaner!)

At work, during my break, I went outside where it was sunny and hot and I could watch my soon-to-be-graduated 8th graders play basketball while making gangly attempts at flirting with one another;)

On the drive home, my copy of The Year of Yes had expired, so I went into podcasts to see what Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations had for me — and they had Lin-Manuel Miranda.  *swoon!!*  I think his interview has been the most authentic of those I’ve heard, and I was thrilled to listen as I slogged through the traffic home, where we were all set upon by an awful accident that increased my 45-minute commute to 1.5 hours… BUT!  After Lin-Manuel, I began the Stephen Colbert interview and by the time I parked out front of my house, it was still sunny, warm, and light out.

Drop off my bags, change into stretchy pants and sneakers, douse on some sunscreen — and text a girl friend.  I arrived home to the pair of tickets I’d ordered to SF Symphony’s pipe organ recital — THE THING HAS OVER 8,000 PIPES!!!  I’m enamored of pipe organs and would go and diddle around on the one at Mills College when I was studying there.  The one in SF is grand, gorgeous, and I had a gift certificate, so I bought two hopeful tickets without an idea of who might accompany me.

Yesterday, I finally had a brainwave (with all my extra, non-dragon-eaten braincells) to connect with a girlfriend from Mills whose been active in a group of medieval songsters.  Yeah, that sounds like the right person.

So off into the sunshine I went, for an hour and a half!  I walked the cemetery/park I used to run, and talked with a heron and an oak tree and some sparrows.  I jogged the downhill and leapt into the running/flying part I love so much.  It was light out, warm, and easy.  I remembered how much I love to run/fly.

On the walk back, I texted with another girl friend and on arriving home went straight to the couch to read.  Physics.

I’d ordered a college text in January when I thought I’d be able to attend College of Marin’s physics class, but it turns out I need the prerequisite that’s only offered in the fall.  (The math-based prerequisite.)  But!  One step at a time.  So I lay on the couch, reading the dry humor of a physics professor for an hour, watching the time tick towards 8pm when I could finally open the 5th book of the Game of Thrones.

But there was still time to spare… I couldn’t open it til 8:00… what to do??

Well, I could floss?  Okay.  I could do those dishes in the sink?  Okay.  Ah, and here’s my Mills singing girlfriend agreeing to accompany me in May.  And now it’s 8:01!

Perfect.  Truly, perfect.

 

abundance · action · possibility

A bigger database.

3.21.18

I’ve heard it said while languishing in scarcity-mind: G-d has a bigger database than you.

And this is good, because frequently it’s hard to imagine a life bigger, more full, more “optioned” than the one I invent from my brain.  In particular at present, I’ve been having a brain-expanding (exploding?) moment around property, homeownership.

Perhaps if you’re like me, you’ve considered that owning a home is something for people who have saved a ton of money, who have worked in high-earning fields, or who have family to help them out.  I’ve certainly thought this way.  I’ve made homeownership to mean “something for other people.”  People who are lucky (and in my darker moments, ungrateful) enough to have family to support them (ingrates).  People who earn copious amounts of money that I never imagine I’ll attain.  People who’ve scrimped and saved, while I’ve rubbed two pennies together, hoping for a nickel to pop out.

But.  G-d’s database is bigger than mine.  I don’t know everything.  (Luckily, cuz then I’d die!)  For example, I didn’t know that my paltry-for-the-Bay-Area salary means I qualify for affordable housing opportunities.

Like this one-bedroom condo on Lake Street in San Francisco.

This all came to pass because of an email describing a program I don’t even qualify for.  At work, my boss forwarded an email from the County Education Office heralding a program for teachers to get assistance in the downpayment on a house.  Galvanized by this idea, I emailed the company and they replied that it’s a program only for public school educators, not for a private school teacher like me.

But between the moments of excitement and deflation, I went to their website and used their calculator to discover that with my (paltry) salary and their loan terms, I could afford a house costing $350,000.  So I went onto Redfin, typed that number into the search features in San Francisco, … and found the most wonderful home.

Wait a second, even teeny tiny condos on Lake Street go for $600,000 — what is this?  Well, it’s an Affordable Housing unit where the prices are held artificially low for people, like me, to have a chance.

This led to a flurry of activity.  I discovered yesterday that to qualify to be considered for this property, I have to complete a housing education class, I have to apply to the program, I have to talk to one of their loan officers, and then I have to wait in the lottery to win the place or any place in their program.

Huh.  Okay.  …  Well, I can sign up for an education class.  I can apply to a program, talk to a loan officer, and carry on with my life while my number may or may not come up.  In other words — I can do this.  I can do this.

Absolutely zilch may come of it—it is a lottery after all—but you can’t win a lottery unless you buy a ticket.

And furthermore, the remarkable idea that a person “like me” could own a home in this crazy messed up market makes my little heart flutter with possibility.

 

action · clarity · fear

What’s the Hurdle?

run 2.20

As a Middle School teacher, I get the vast privilege of leading a cohort of students to see things differently, try on new ideas, and form new (hopefully positive) habits.

A few weeks back for their journal prompt, I instructed each class to draw 3 columns, the last of which to remain blank that day.  In the first column, they were to write any tasks or accomplishments that they’d been procrastinating on but that they wanted (or needed) to do.  In the second column, they were to write allll the reasons (real or imagined) why they could not complete these tasks.  The next day, they’d brainstorm with their classmates on how to get over the hurdle.

I gave them my own present example at the time:  Not completing my “Synonym Wall.”  In the classroom, I have taped colored slips of paper with “Bad” or “Said” or “A Lot” inside a “No” symbol, and then surrounded each with a plethora of alternatives for students to use.

But I stalled out.  I began this project in August(!) before the students arrived, and I still had “Nice” and “Good” to go.  Okay, so that’s column 1: Finish the Synonym Wall.  What’s column 2?  What are my hurdles?  Well…:  I was using these fancy scallop-edged scissors to cut out the synonyms, and the scissors are ill-effective and hurt my hand when cutting the strips.  I had been using a system of color coding each word group, and I wanted blue paper for “Good,” but I didn’t have any blue.  I was also using a colored-marker pattern I wanted to repeat, but that was feeling cumbersome and complicated.  Finally, now that it’s been so long, who cares whether it gets done; are the students even using it?

Hurdles for me can be MINOR(!!) inconveniences, like “the scissors hurt my hand,” or larger fears like, “My work makes no difference.”  Yet, whatever the hurdle is, I cannot overcome it if I do not identify it.  So, even though writing all these hurdles down made me feel a little silly and immature to see that I can be stymied by such gossamer blockades, I knew it would lead me to column 3.

“What the hell are you gonna do about it?”

In fact, that very afternoon, after having modeling this process to all 4 of my class sections—pointing to the Synonym Wall, reading the hurdles aloud, and considering again and again the hilarity of such stalled action—I went downstairs to a coworker’s materials closet and fetched whatever colored paper was available, grabbed any freaking Sharpie I had and a pair of OMG-so-non-hurty normal, straight-cut scissors, and COMPLETED the Synonym Wall!

The next morning when I modeled column 3 for my students, I was able to write down each of the above in “Overcoming the Hurdle.”  One Overcome I also got to write was, “I think the Synonym Wall is important, whether the students use it or not.”  And: “The perfect is the enemy of the done.”

I rewrote this last one on a sign that now hangs above the whiteboard. (In whatever color and on whatever color I had available!)

Every day, I could write a list of Tasks I Procrastinate, Hurdles, and Overcomings.  And maybe I should.  Because each of the remaining hurdles on that list 4 weeks ago have now too been vaulted.

 

 

abundance · action · courage

Never Have I Ever…

2.8.18 stocks

Yesterday, I bought stock.

This is what a first time should feel like!  With all the nerves and excitement and planning and pondering and reading of others’ experiences… and then, finally, the just doing it.  Omigod.  I should have smoked a cigarette afterward.

At the start of November, I looked into what kinds of low-fee brokerage houses were out there.  Even writing the words feels like marbles in my mouth.  Brokerage house.  What do I know from investments?  The lady with less than $3 in her bank account every 2 years?  The woman crawling back from chemo and its resultant absence of paycheck?  The person who ran in to a room of folks, desperate, angry, and frustrated at the slicing paycheck-to-paycheck existence I’d been living?

Well, I suppose what I do know is that I’ve stayed in that room of people, for nearly 7 years now (the length of time for all your cells to turn over) — and maybe all the braincells that had been attached to deprivation and loneliness and despair have come to the death throes of their lifespan, and I’ve begun to take action using the new cells with the new programming and the new ideology I’ve learned.

What I do know is that none of this has been as simple as a click on the laptop … and yet, in the end, it was as simple as a click on the laptop.  The final action step (or start of many): click “Buy.”

Why so many months since the opening of the account to the purchase of my 1st stock?  Oh, procrastination, avoidance, inconvenience of the way it was set up, stymied by a technical error that prevented me from moving money into it.  You know, hurdles.

But when, yesterday, I opened The New York Times and merely read the word Tesla, something within me shifted to high gear.  Google the price of a share; pull up the brokerage account; try to remember what on earth I’d chosen for my password anyway; and lo! The account could link today!  Link it; transfer it; choose it; buy it.  Done.

It’s not much; it’s one share that may tank at any point in the future.  But, for today, it feels like the most goddamned abundant thing I’ve ever done.

 

 

 

action · authenticity · friendship

All in.

2.5.18 caravaggio Tour_Cheat beter

With daylight still apparent after my hour-long commute home, I dashed into my apartment last week, threw on sneakers, and grabbed my phone.  I was in too much of a state of agitation and pent-up energy to listen to the tree sounds yet, so I opened the audiobook app and continued listening to Better Than Before, the habit-formation book by Gretchen Rubin.

She was talking about the strategy of “Pairing,” wherein we unite 2 things that need to be done (for example, treadmill desk at work).  As I continued stalking over to the park-like cemetery in my neighborhood (where many folks run and walk dogs; I swear, not creepy!), I stopped suddenly struck.

I could unite 2 things I want to do.  

For long, I’ve wanted to read more classical literature.  I am an English major, MFA, and teacher, after all, and an avid (near-penitential) reader.  And like many readers, I have on my shelf “aspirational books”: those that I’d love to have read, but struggle to actually read.  E.g. Moby Dick, Ulysses, The Iliad.

What thunderstruck me on my walk was this: I could listen to the audio versions of these classic books.  Perhaps that would not only help me to “read” them, but also to understand them.  First up?  Anna Karenina.  I have indeed attempted to read the paper and cardboard version of this novel, but have been stymied by the names — who are they talking about again??  The Russians love to use the full “Christian” names, the diminutive names, the LAST names, all interchangeably to the point where I’ve absolutely lost track of who the hell is Tolstoy talking about anyway?!

So, thusly, my brainwave led me to the ebook app where I discovered Maggie Gyllenhaal(!) would read me Anna Karenina.  Downloaded, earbuds in, I began to walk again in the falling light.

And folks, I UNDERSTOOD it!! I listened again on the slog-ride home yesterday, and I could actually recall portions of the plot and (for the most part) retain who was who!

I shared my discovery and attendant elation with a friend on the phone this past weekend.  And she, too, was elated — and suggested we start a book club.

Now, Gretchen Rubin is a book-club lover and, honestly, I thought I would jump at the idea — it has been hard for me to read these books on my own.  But with this new-found habit of listening to dense books rather than reading them (which I do plan to do once I hear it all), I’m not sure that I truly want to meet up and discuss them.  I talk about books all the time.

I recounted this conundrum to my therapist last night, and she asked if I actually wanted to be in a book club. … “Well, not really,” I replied.  “But what I would like is a regular poker night.”

Several years ago, I opened my apartment door to find an Amazon package on my welcome mat.  The package was addressed to me and the packing slip inside was as well.  But without a return address or orderee.  Inside the box was a slim, silver case, within which was a brand-new poker set.  Chips and cards, even dice and a disk with “Dealer” printed on it.  I’ve no idea from where it came, and have held onto it (in aspirational fashion) ever since.

I’ve lugged it to campsites, to winter cabins, but still the deck of cards remains sealed in its plastic sleeve.

“I’d love to have a regular girls’ poker night,” I said to her again.  “To gather and kibbitz; to have fun, because, in the end, it is a game.  But I’ve always been stymied by the fact that my apartment is too small… I’ve wanted a game night for years.”

And so, it seems, I’m going to have to enlist a few friends–maybe even a few new friends–to join me for blind betting, cut decks, and bowls of tortilla chips.

No, I don’t really know how to play — but I will.