family · finances · goals

Family Meeting

12.17.18I asked J if we could schedule a “family meeting” for this weekend to set down our goals for 2019… and he agreed(!).  So, yesterday afternoon, all cozy as the wild wind blew rain and leaves around the house, we took out our calendars and J began to take notes.

I wrote in his back-country ski trip; he wrote in my Spring and Summer breaks.  I added in his birthday; he told me he still had mine on his calendar, that he hadn’t erased it from when we split up earlier this year.

Then we turned to our travel priorities for the year: the local weekend trips, maybe back East for Thanksgiving, the Paris trip for his mom’s 70th birthday… and how that would work best for us—since “Paris with your mom” doesn’t quite ring like “vacation” in our ears!  So, what would we need to do to help us all have the kind of trip we’d want?  (Hint: 3 days all together, then go off with your own person, is what we’re thinking!)

After that, we talked about our vehicles: are they in a good state for the upcoming year?  Mine is, his isn’t.  What does he really need?  If it’s to tow motorcycles to the track, as he’s planning to do, can he use the one he’s got which needs significant repairs or should he buy a new one?  So, we put an action item in the notes to research motorcycle trailers with brakes.

We talked about the house, if it’s meeting our needs or not.  If yes, how to improve upon the situation, if no, what steps to take to change it.  This precipitated talking out his career plans and that if, as he’d like, he’ll be moving into his own venture soon, we’d need to keep cash out-lay pretty low.  He’s got a call with someone to talk about home options in the area that would improve our financial circumstances, and if there aren’t any, then we stay, but don’t do any major home improvements.

Then, we came to another piece of business: whether or not to attempt to have children this year.  (And his leg immediately began to jiggle!)

While we’ve spoken of it before and, as a teacher, I laid out the timeline that would make the most sense before, it was time to really ask: Will you do this with me?  Will we do this together?

Because of my financial situation right now, I’m able to save quite a chunk of money (even after setting aside a large portion for retirement).  I could be apportioning this savings toward the first year or two of child expenditures.

So, do I?

It’s a huge question and even though he’s been the one more “deer in headlights” about it, I began to feel my own adrenaline rush.  Because it would mean trying in the summer, this summer.  *rush of adrenaline as I type!*

There wasn’t a resounding, “YES! I totally want to and can’t wait to have children with you,” but his answer was: “I’m in it to win it, babe.”

We’d spoken yesterday about the difference between “a default” and “a choice” when we were talking about the house, and the same applies to kids.  I can’t allow bringing humans into the world be a default for him, just because it’s “part of the package.”  It’s unempowering for him, and it’s distancing for me.  (This isn’t, “Guess what, I bought tickets to the opera,” here!)

As our business meeting came to a close last night, he on the couch next to me, darker now outside, we snuggled and agreed that we have a pretty good plan for next year…

and you know what they say about plans*;)

 

*If you want to hear G-d laugh, make a plan.

 

 

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fear · finances · insanity · isolation · recovery · relapse

Without Defense

In the summer, I’d texted friends nearly daily, asking them to help me not quit my desk job. I wrote to them that quitting my job without a plan would be just like an alcoholic taking a drink: Disastrous. Painful. An uncharted trip through hell. 
But. I wasn’t connected to the things I knew to do. Few meetings, no sponsor, stuck in the middle of step work I’d started months before. 
And so, I drank. Metaphorically. 
In the fall, I quit my job, without a plan. I felt elated, relieved, free. Exactly like taking a drink. 
And now, I am living the consequences of that decision. 
Yesterday, as I walked back to my apartment after more than 8 hours on my feet and little to show for it, I catalogued all the things I missed about my old job. 
The short commute, with no bridges or tunnels involved. The normal hours. The flexible hours, when I could take off to go to Trader Joes at lunch, or walk around the gorgeous suburban landscape, or nap at a nearby friend’s before rehearsal. The co-workers I could have conversations with about things that were intelligent or fun or informative.

The kids. The chickens. The pianos.
The sitting. 
For all I wailed about wanting a job that didn’t require me to sit in front of a computer for 40 hours a week (and granted I still don’t) the ability to actually sit at all during the day sounds vastly luxurious. 
And as I walked home, the catalogue ever increasing, I said aloud, “I made a mistake.”
It was a mistake to quit my job the way I had, without a plan. I knew and had catalogued all the ephemeral perks of that job countless times, knowing what a cush place it was. But I was antsy, restless, hopeless and defiant. And I made a decision to leave. 
Now, in the school of life that I’ve come through, I hear much about “not regretting the past,” and true, through the interim period without work, I befriended another unemployed bright person who suggested a crowd funding campaign to pay off my back-rent cancer debt. The campaign was wildly successful, and a check is in the mail this week. In addition, because the goal was quickly reached, a very generous family gave me a donation insisting I spend it on “something fun,” which is how and why I have this fancy new laptop to replace the dinosaur I’d had. 
But… other than that? I mean, couldn’t those goals have been accomplished anyway? A campaign have been suggested another time? 
Look, I know this retail job I’m in now is temporary. I am trying my best to stave off the Stockholm Syndrome that seems to have engulfed everyone who works there, or anywhere in retail, into thinking that the paltry, hiccuping pay-scale, weak health insurance, and unpredictable schedule is acceptable. 
Today, I am trying to forgive the faulty thinking of mine that sent me on this fool’s errand in the first place, comparing it to how I did behave when I was drinking: It’s not cuz I was an awful person that I did what I did, it was because I didn’t know any better, and I didn’t have any tools to combat my insane thinking. 
I have to offer myself compassion for the misguided, instant-gratification seeking decision I made. I was not using the tools I knew to use. I was disconnected from the community that helps me not make insane decisions, financial and otherwise. 
I do feel, however, that admitting that I made a mistake in quitting that job without a plan is a good first step for me. I am not immune to my own thoughts. I am not solved from throwing myself into the abyss because I think my house is on fire. 
I have decades’-driven ruts and habits that I fell over into. And I did not have the diligence or connection to haul me out before I burned my life down instead. 
That’s okay. 

I mean, it has to be. Right? 
fear · finances · hope · recovery · relationships · romance · self-love

"There’s gotta be something better than this…" ~ Sweet Charity

Why, didn’t every 7th grader want to become a botanist and live in a tree to be away from people? 
I am at the radically awful and hopeful place of beginning to work on relationships, and my relationship to relationships. 
Coincidentally or not, the last time I started this kind of work, I was into the deep and dredging and combing-over-my-sad-history-of-self-abandonment-and-isolation part when I was struck with a bout of Leukemia, and had to stop.
Now that I’m through a round of work on my relationship to money, scarcity, “under-being,” under-earning, me and my mentor agreed that we could work on the other side of the “romance and finance” coin.
Color me thrilled. 
In fact, I am looking forward to it, … sort of. Not the work itself, but the results of it. 
I am not meant to continue my early patterns of self-insulation through isolation or self-abandonment/-destruction. Or, rather, I’m not content to. What I’m meant to do is really only up to me, isn’t it? And a few strokes of fate, I imagine. (hello, cancer.)
But, whatever role I can have in loosening the noose of “Trust No One,” I am signing up for it. 
I do feel that I am in a better place to begin this time than I was about 2 years ago. I’m working with someone who knows me well, who’s walked this path with and before me, and whom I trust and love.
Even though our particular histories are dissimilar, their endings and the feelings they’ve evoked in us became the same. 
She’s told me that my feeling of imminence, urgency & impatience with myself and “the world” will fade: I am a 33 year old healthy smart beautiful woman. Why the fuck have I never been in a relationship that’s lasted over 6 months, and only two of them at that? Why have I been unintentionally celibate for years on end or find myself particularly attracted to taken men? My “hot” years are fading; I want to take advantage of them!
And yet. I seem to land in the same place each time I try to throw myself into the ring, or try to avoid it. And so, it’s time to try something else. Something I know will work, because it works for thousands of other people who walk a path of recovery. 
I’m not stoked. But I am. 
It’s sad stuff to riffle through. There is a Trail of Tears that’s led me here. But I feel ready for this. No, not eager to riffle; yes, eager to heal, move on, move forward. Let whoever I’m supposed to be, or whoever I’m hiding, to integrate. 
Does this look like a bright shiny pot of gold(en haired children) at the other end? Likely not. 
I finished the work on money, and I’m still in the thick of the results of patterns that brought me here. But I imagine they’ll shift over time. 
So, too, I imagine with the love and relationship stuff. I won’t buy a wedding dress at the end of it. But perhaps I’ll buy date one. 

(p.s. this missive is in no way a passive request for dating invitations. but thanks.)  😉 
action · dreams · finances · performance · self-abandonment · self-worth · work

The Truth Will Out.

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(A quick note before I run off to our full-day tech
rehearsal. To Kill a Mockingbird opens this Friday!)
On the heels of the “Don’t forget your North Star” blog
yesterday and contemplation this week, I went to have a voice lesson with a
former castmate. We spoke afterwards about my job transition and how he’d
realized what his North Star was years before, and sure, he had to jump through
hoops to get there, but it was and is worth it. 
He was telling me we have to listen most of all to
ourselves, not to others, and to not let their voices drown out our own. But I
replied, Their not giving me their ideas, they’re asking “What do you want to
do?” and I keep on answering, “I don’t know.”
But I sat with that for a moment, and I corrected myself: No, That’s not true. I do know: I want to perform; I just keep dismissing it.
That, performance, is
my North Star.
I went last night to see a friend of mine perform at her CD
release party. The talent was phenomenal, but beyond that was the
brilliance of her pieces. Honed, practiced, cultivated brilliance. That’s
beyond, “You’re talented.”
I sat in the audience, and during one of her songs, I was
brought to tears with its beauty. With the privilege of being alive and able to
listen and be moved by such art. She created an atmosphere and an experience
that wouldn’t have existed if she didn’t.
I want to do that
And I think it’s possible. I just have a few hoops to jump
through. And a lot of learning and honing to do.
It is very easy for me to dismiss what it is I want, because
it sounds frivolous or flighty in the light of day. It sounds vague and too
artsy and too uncertain. But I’ve fought with myself for years to cop to my
desires, and each time I dismiss it, I pull myself back into the dance of “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
I can dismiss performance for many reasons: believing I’m not
good enough; that it’s too late; for financial reasons; for I-want-to-be-approvable reasons. I want the easy check-box on the form of life: What do you
do for a living?
Or, more accurate, What does your soul want to do?
In talking with my voice teacher, he basically said it’s
possible, and it’s worth it. I drove back from there to meet with two women to
get some perspective on all this job transition stuff, and to firm up actions steps I can
take in the maelstrom of “What the F* are you doing?” that invades my brain.
They said, too, it’s possible, and it takes work. Don’t give
up. Do not go back to sleep.
Here are some steps to take, Yes you’ve taken some of them
before, but here they’re being suggested again. Try again. Talk to my friend,
my sister, this guy I know.
No, it won’t look like being a self-supporting performer,
but it will look like earning enough to support those endeavors.
The artists I’ve met and spoken to this week all have day
jobs. But they do it in service of their dream. It’s not an either/or
proposition: Art or Financial Stability. Dream or Devastation.
It’s hard for me to keep my eye on where I want to go, and
that’s why I have you guys to help me. When I finally ask. And when I finally
am open enough to listening. To you, and to myself. 

abundance · desire · finances · fulfillment · growth · vision · work

a short note, just to let you know I’m not dead.

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the end.
just kidding.
I have to leave to go meet up with some folks at 9am I
haven’t seen in a very long time. I had my dailey method shift yesterday at 530am, so I
didn’t write, and sunday mornings are my check-in with my mentor, and usually
lead to more emotion than can settle enough to show up here – which is good.
so, tuesday, it is!
i just wanted to reflect on something that occurred to me as
I sat in meditation this morning, back into another one of those deepak/oprah
21-day meditation challenges: I am living the schedule I wanted.
sure, it’s not perfect! but I’d wanted my days divided into
thirds: mornings in private work, working on art, or music, or writing;
afternoons working in the community somehow – how I didn’t know; and the
evenings spent in performance.
and here I sit today, my morning spent in meditation, a
little writing. this afternoon, I’ll head over to the synagogue to teach 4th
grade. and this evening, I’ll have rehearsal (well, we’re off tonight, but you
get the point!).
without intending to, I’ve come to the structure of the day
I’ve always wanted or thought i wanted. the one I didn’t think I could achieve until I was 50, and
had more going for me.
but, today, even though it doesn’t look perfect, even though
I am only earning about a third of my needed income through teaching two days a
week… this is what it will feel like. this is what it does feel like:
awesome. fulfilling. purposeful. open. creative. engaged.
important. 
thanks, universe, for this taste of what it will and what it
is like. i was right when i discovered that’s the day i want for myself. now,
help me achieve it sustainably. thanks. 

career · death · faith · family · finances · hope · loss · love · perseverance · recovery

Tossed.

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On a shelf high in my closet sits a box. This morning, I
took it down, dumped it over on my bed and picked through the pieces of
paper I’d written and thrown in since it was given to me as a one-year
sobriety present.
Someone mentioned recently the idea of dumping out their “God
box” every once in a while, to see what “god” may have already taken care of,
and to see what we’re still holding onto, even as it’s been “surrendered” to the box.
It’s sweet and astonishing to me, all the things that
tortured me so hard, I found them listed on multiple post-its, torn pieces of
paper, even a square of toilet paper.
The ones that I got to separate from “still actively seeking
hope/help” included a lot of men’s/boy’s names that haven’t gotten a rise out
of me for years. I had to wrack my memory at one of them, and then got to see
the number of times others’ names had been tossed in there in the hope for resolution
and divine intervention, and indeed, they’ve become completely old news. Today, those got
tossed to the resolved pile.
In that pile, I also tossed, Food issues and Smoking. Issues
that I haven’t had to box with for years, so much so that I am surprised to
remember them, and to notice they caused me such pain (well, smoking was a
bitch to quit – and I never doubt that one will always lead to more).
The ones that remain in the box, that I am throwing back
in there, are varied.
One reads:
      Jesse Morris will live.
      And he will find recovery.
      And he will be beautiful.
      Amen.
Jesse Morris did not live. But I believe him to still be
beautiful.
I also have the memorial service booklet from Aaron Brown’s
funeral following his heroin overdose.
I have the necklace my father gave me when I was sick with
cancer. A photo of my mom holding my brother, age 2. A photo of the ex whose
innocence we shared.
And the torn shreds of a fortune cookie I didn’t understand
why I’d ripped and torn in there until I pieced it back together: “As long as
your desires are not extravagant, they will be granted.” – I can easily see why I
would bristle at such a fortune!
Finally, what will stay in the box, rethrown in, and
recommitted to allowing them to be “taken care of,” are those issues which have
remained “issues” to this very day.
The best illustration of these being an actual illustration:
Home, Love, Health, Security, Happiness.
(Or at least I think that’s happiness, and not Pirates.)
There are a bevy of papers with some amalgam of these on it. Some verbose pleas to a higher power, others simply a heart drawn on a
post-it.
It is cleansing and reaffirming to dump and sort this box,
this box that over the years I’ve begged over for things to change, hurled words
in there like grenades, or exhausted, dropped them in tear-stained.
There are ones that I don’t know if “resolution” is
possible, like those untimely deaths of beautiful people. And they will stay in the box.
There are ones where I still can’t see what resolution will
look like at all, as with my dad, my career, and “my life,” as I wrote it again and
again. They will stay there, too. 
But, luckily, there must be hope from a sorting such as
this, because the pile of “resolved” issues is nearly half. Those torturous
achings that caused me to toss names and circumstances in that have simply
fallen out of mind, out of importance, into the fate and design of my past…
These ones that make me smile now for the girl who wrote
them, and for the wisdom of time that solved them: They give me hope for the
others. 

acting · band · courage · fear · finances · progress · scarcity · trying

Progress is Boring.

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(in an effort to release perfectionism, I’m going to
admit this blog kinda bored me, but I’m putting it up anyway. achievement
unlocked!)
I’ve heard there’s a difference between planning and
projecting.
Do the first to create peace; do the second and create
angst.
As with most of my plans lately — job stuff, the Boston trip,
even the acting (I’ll be auditioning again on Saturday) — it’s been a lot
easier, though not easy, to take the action and let the results be what they
may.
What I’ve gotten to see out of this way of being around the
trip and the acting is that indeed, the action was worth it, regardless the
results. In fact, that the results are still positive: I get to feel the joy of trying, and the smile associated with
remembering. I get to feel proud for showing up, and a sense of peace around
having not “gotten my way” or gotten in my way – unlike the outcome of projecting.
It’s nice to be able to recognize that the effort was worth
the effort. It could be easy to dismiss, and say, That wasn’t worth my time
since I didn’t get what I want – but, we know, I did. I got to spend time with
someone I enjoy; I got to experience auditioning (and even acting). I got to
see who and how I am in relationship, in perseverance, in something new – and I like who I was,
and who I saw.
I’ve been hemming around signing up for my work’s retirement
plan. I’ve been eligible for almost half a year, and it’s been on my list of
“action items” to talk to the accountant at work, find out how much would be
taken out of my paycheck to hit the minimum, which would be matched by my
employer.
Some people dream of
this kind of benefit… and I’ve been scared to look. What if there isn’t enough
for me now? What if there won’t be enough for me later? What if it’s too late?
What if …
“Clarity leads to freedom,” is a phrase I hear around now.
And the truth, like my student loans, could be a lot more palatable than I
imagined/feared/projected.
So, this week I did ask for those numbers. I sat, listened,
saw the highlighted figures on the page, and then stuffed the paper into my purse! Carrying around this step toward clarity without actually looking is still being in vagueness.
I’m still scared. As if looking at a page will harm me!
Clarity leads to freedom. It’s better to know than not know.
It’s better to try than not try. It’s better to live in reality than in
fantasy, mostly because my fantasies are pretty nihilistic.
If I’ve gotten anything out of the last few months, or even
year, it’s that trying can actually be fun.
No matter the outcome.
I think about my band. I think about playing bass in that
band. And how freaking fun that was. It was some work, and not always serene,
but it was fun. It was enlivening.
And I quit.
It was time to move on, but that doesn’t discount the value
and the importance of that experience in my life.
From the vague listening to the accountant, I don’t think my salary
can support those retirement contributions, modest though they are. But, also,
I’ve learned that my estimation of things can skew toward scarcity and fear, so
I’ll be taking those numbers to friends who can help me get more perspective on
them, since there may be a truth that I can’t see through that fog.
The other thing that comes up lately, is that I think I
wanna band again. Active verb. To band. I want to band.
So, I’ll plan, not project.