Personal Finance stuff

When I was super broke, I haunted personal finance sites, blogs, and forums.

I moved away from those in the past few years, dealing with a (another) change in career, cancer, a roommate that took a lot of emotional energy, part-time grad school and other online learning, and, as always, my mental health.

I didn’t have the bandwidth (or spoons, if you prefer) to deal with my money or to keep up with blogs and forums. And I slowly slipped deeper and deeper into the negative.

Now, I’m digging out of a mountain of debt. I’m too embarrassed right now to say how much, but it’s a number I couldn’t even conceive of 5 years ago. There are lots of reasons why it got this high, and I’ll probably talk about them over time. Right now, I’m in the stage where I am facing the actual issue head on (because I can deal with a crisis but I can’t maintain a smooth course*) and focusing on that issue.

That means going back to some old places, like Get Rich Slowly, The Simple Dollar (that site has really changed!), the (old) YNAB forum and similar places.

It also means finding some new places. JD Roth of Get Rich Slowly recommended Bitches Get Riches . They are hilarious and insightful and talk about life as well as money, check them out.

There’s a thread in the personal finance world that always used to upset me, and the Bitches really call this out in this post on making personal finance more inclusive. Here’s a piece:

Special suggestions for our fellow personal finance bloggers

Quit writing shallow, bullshit success narratives

There is a fine line between being encouraging and being full of shit.

When you say, “If I can do it, anyone can!” what you’re really saying is, “It worked for me, and my experience with people who aren’t like me is so limited that I have a hard time even imagining their existence!” Hard work, discipline, and sacrifice may have led you to financial stability. But it’s ignorance to suggest that everyone’s life circumstances put them on equal footing.

I don’t want to hear any more exclusionary nonsense about how people who can’t make it work are “complainypants” losers and whiners. If you honestly think that willpower is the only determinant to success, you’re ignorant as well as a jerk. And you’re using personal finance and your platform to flatter yourself.

Mr. Money Mustache got popular with this kind of narrative. I was never able to follow him for long. Ramit Sethi is another one like that.

My recently retired boss tried to pull a narrative like that on me once. He had been a government employee in one form or another for 35 years and was making more than $100k/year for quite some time, and usually had a 2 income household. Right about the time he bought a house for well over $500k, he told me that anyone at any income level could save money. I shut down that shit real quick with some highlights from my story.

Anyway, what financial blogs/sites/podcasts are you following these days?

Gardens

I didn’t have a lot of time to write this week. The political situation this week was insane, so here’s some happy inanity as an antidote.

On Saturday, BFF and I went to the Apple Hill area of Placerville. Most of the farms open next week, but a couple are open now. We spent too much money, but got some Ginger Gold apples, an orange-fleshed honeydew melon, sage honey, and a nice cover-up/scarf versatile garment. We stopped in the downtown Placerville area for lunch and wandered around in some of the stores.

 

Sunday, I went to my daughter’s new home and played in her garden. Found some cucumbers that were hiding from me last time, got some lovely tomatoes and peppers, and cut up some figs to dry.

At home, I processed a bunch of dried lavender that I picked earlier this summer. The lavender had been hanging to dry for a few weeks. I pulled the dried flowers off the stems and put them in jars. If anyone needs lavender, I might have more than I can use before next years harvest.

 

 

Here I am again

and again and again and again.

When I first started this blog, I was trying to work on self-discipline issues. And I still am.

So many things in my life are chaotic because of my lack of self-discipline and inability to form new habits.

I tried to start a bullet journal a couple of times, so that I could do habit tracking. I didn’t even make it one month each time.

I’ve bought lovely planners. Even when I remember to carry them with me, I only use them sporadically.

Right now, I have a list of a few things I’m trying to start. I have managed . .  . 4 days in a row of 3/5 of the list out of the last 2 weeks.

I’m listening to the audible book version of Atomic Habits hoping to use it to help. Clear talks about “habit stacking” – making a small change, then another, then another on top of each other. Which completely makes sense.

Until I start trying to implement it.

I know I’m not unique in this way. I mean, books like Atomic Habits or blogs like Zen Habits wouldn’t exist if I were unique.

But I continually feel overwhelmed trying to start new, healthier habits.

And I look back and see, I was struggling with the same things years ago. My house is not as bad as it was in 2013 when I wrote that, but it still isn’t the way I want it, either.

For right now, I’ve made a chart on a dry erase board for starting a few small things.

  • 15 mins of housework
  • 3 homemade meals
  • 30 mins of study toward a self-study course

I know to some people, making homemade meals and doing a minimal amount of housework sounds. . . piddly? little? bare minimum? But for me, even doing those small things on a regular basis would make a big difference in my life. Making all my own meals would help with both health and cash flow. I tend to do housework in large chunks when I have energy or am motivated. If I did even a little every single day, my environment would be so much nicer.

One thing I did last year that sort of forced me to pay attention to my environment was to start gardening. My apartment complex started a small community garden. Last fall, I took over a plot no one else was tending and planted a bunch of winter veggies as well as tended the perennial herbs I’d planted the year before. Then I went a bit crazy and started a bunch of plants on my porch. It required me to tend them pretty much daily, and I did well for 8 or 9 months. Then I got sick, was sick for about a month, then took another month to fully recover. I couldn’t bend over to fill the watering can or to pour the water. It was depressing and all the plants I started last summer died. I’ve just begun replacing them.

What healthy habits do you have? How did you get them established?

*Note: links to Amazon are affiliate links.

Image by Zoltan Matuska from Pixabay

Roller Coaster of Emotions

Wow. I knew I’d ignored my blogs for a while, but didn’t realize I haven’t had a substantive post since 2014! A lot of ups and downs in that time.

  • Summer 2015 – got a good job with grown up money and benefits for the first time in over a decade.
  • Winter 2015/2016 – an old friend needed a place to stay, and in the interest of paying the universe back for the help I received, I let him move in with me. Signed up for a Master’s degree online program. Then I got diagnosed with colon cancer. Since my daughter was grown up and moved out, having someone in the house while I was going through that really helped. Although I had to give up privacy that I crave. (Also, he’s an alcoholic, but that’s for another time). I had to put the Master’s on hold. Moved to a 2 bedroom apartment.
  • Spring and Summer 2016 – dealing with chemo, but also connecting to other women veterans through a new local group.
  • Fall 2016 – jumped into the Master’s program taking 2 classes, which really stressed me out.
  • Winter/Spring 2016/2017 – got a credential for work, was completely buried under with the Master’s. Over my head a bit. Ended up with C in one class I took, and had to redo it.
  • Fall 2017 – got a promotion at work.
  • Winter 2017 – forced Roommate to go to the V.A. for addiction counseling. There was a whole big deal with the neighbor calling police and everything.
  • Spring 2018 – took time off from the Master’s to give myself a break and reevaluate if I wanted to keep going. My daughter graduated from university.
  • Summer 2018 – got sick of the alcoholic roommate. At this point, he’d lost a couple of jobs, started a new one and now was drinking regularly again. I couldn’t take it anymore. Asked him to leave.

So, up, down, up, down, up, down.

But that’s life, right?

I’ve missed writing, but in the time since I stopped blogging, I was somewhat disconnected from my emotions and spirituality.

Also, when I was blogging before and trying to make a business out of my witchiness, I was steeped in dozens of courses and other middle-aged white women trying to do a spiritual or coaching business. There was a whole circle-jerk of us? them? advising each other to up-level and increase your email list, and get the clients who will pay hundreds of dollars for a couple hours of talking with you.

I grew to hate it. Especially after one such coaching session, where I said I wanted to make a set of affirmation cards or something like that and the coach insisted I needed to do intense coaching sessions to make money, just like she was. No. That isn’t what I want to do. Then she insisted I put more coaching sessions on a credit card I didn’t have.

I don’t want to hustle to find broken women and take money from them, often when they are at a really low point. And it began to feel like a multilevel marketing scam.

No, I liked my blog when it was just me, trying to figure life out. I’ve really wanted to get back to blogging for a while, but couldn’t find my voice. I think it’s important for me to get back to it, to center myself again.

How are you doing? What have you been up to the past 5 years? FIVE YEARS, good grief.

 

 

New Routines

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For a long time, my evening routine, such as it was, consisted of coming home exhausted, getting on the computer, and staying on it, even if I wasn’t doing anything at all, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. At least when I’m working.

And when not working, even less than that. It would be a “good” night if I spent time exercising or cleaning or anything at all, really.

Lately, I find myself turning off the computer, putting on a new age station on Pandora and sitting on the porch as twilight turns to dark.

Sometimes, I simply sit.

Sometimes, I read – right now: You Are Here by Thich Naht Hanh.

Sometimes I write, either in my personal journal or working on The Desire Map or one of my other journaling/goal setting notebooks. A couple of times, I’ve taken my watercolors out there, too.

I think it started with the Mindfulness class I did at the VA Mental Health Clinic. I started meditating in silence, which I think I’ve mentioned was a little new to me. And I began to crave the quiet time.

And then Tuli came along.

She’s so different from Pumpkin.Image

She likes being outside (Pumpkin didn’t like open spaces).  But it’s dangerous around here, so I can’t really let her out to just explore.

As often as possible, I open up the sliding glass door to the porch and let her go out there.

Having the door open somehow makes me want to go out there more.

I’ve spent more time out there in the last month than I probably have in the 6 years I’ve lived here combined.

I keep wondering why I didn’t do this ages ago. It’s pleasant and relaxing. My allergies act up a little, but still, it’s nice.

Next step: work yoga into the routine, either in the mornings or evenings. I need more movement in my daily routines.

Pagan Blog Project: H is for Herbs

When I was a baby witch, just learning my craft, I got really into herbs.

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Like REALLY into. 🙂

I had the classic Herb Book, which is likely still in my library somewhere!

I bought herbs at magick shops and food co-ops.

I had mason jars and containers full of herbs.

Cooking herbs.

Healing herbs.

Essential oils.

Tinctures.

I made my own incense.

I made massage oils and candles.

I made tea (technically tisanes) and potions.

Wet and dry potpourri.

Cordials.

I’m not much of a cook, but give me a shelf full of herbs and a pot of water, and I’ll mix something that smells good, at least.

At various times, I’ve had herb gardens.

Herbs are at the heart of magick for me. laurel-272961_640

In pretty much every culture, there has always been a healer, a witch, a wise one that knew the ways of plants and how to use them to ease suffering or to conjure dreams and visions.

And this is another thing that somewhere along the way I lost touch with.

I had an herb garden when C was a baby. When we lived in Washington, there was a huge herb farm nearby (which seems to have “retired” now).

But as we moved around, I had to leave behind living plants, or give up space on my shelves for things that had a higher priority.

I used up or got rid of my stash.

Eventually, all I had were the basic cooking herbs.

As our financial situation worsened, and my daughter grew, and my faith waned. . . I gave up my herbs. I gave up my magick.

Last summer when I was going to one of the local farmer’s markets, there were big bunches of purple basil and mint.

I brought them home and used some of the basil for a tomato sauce and mint to flavor my water, but I didn’t want to waste the huge bunch, so for the first time in a long, long time, I hung up my herbs to dry.

Weeks later, I was looking for my regular, old, bought-for-cooking dried basil and couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered, among my cluttered shelves, I had hanging this beautiful basil.

My mortar and pestle, if I still have them, are in storage, so I pulled the leaves off the stems into a bowl and rubbed the dried leaves between my hands to make them smaller.

As I was doing it, I wondered, “How did I ever get away from doing this?”

My hands smelled like fresh basil, and the taste of the herb was strong in my sauce.

Basil is for flying, faithful love, and drawing money to you.

I felt so good to be doing that simple thing. Refreshed.

One of my Core Desired Feelings is “Restored”.

I felt restored.

As my daughter is pretty much grown up now, and I’m rediscovering who I am without the “C’s mom” added to my name, I know that I need to bring the herbs back into my life.

I regret leaving them behind and not bringing my daughter up with the full appreciation of the art of herbal magick.

I don’t know if I can realistically fill up my shelves again the way I did in my early 20s, but I want to start again.

I wonder if the apartment complex will notice if I cut a few rosemary branches?

 

Pagan Blog Project, D: Divination & Dreams

Oneiromancy: Divination by dreams.

Dream divination is not a new thing. It’s been around as long as humans. The earliest cultures talk about dreams and interpreting them, from Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream to Gilgamesh sleeping on things to think them over to Aristotle’s treatise, “On Prophesying by Dreams“.

Image
from lucindafaye on Pixabay http://pixabay.com/en/users/lucindafaye/

I think Dreams may have been my initial introduction to divination and magick.

Being young (preteen maybe?) and experiencing very strong cases of déjà vu, remembering a flash of a dream months earlier. Luckily my mother was open to the idea that this might actually be divination, in fact, she’s probably the one that told me that’s what might be happening.

Over the years, I’ve kept a dream journal on and off. Sometimes my dreams have been intensely rich, colorful and true-seeming. Other times, they have been confusing, dark, scary.

You know, like everyone else’s dreams. 🙂

But sometimes, still, that strong sense of déjà vu hits and I start flipping through my dream journals, and sure enough, I find something in there that directly relates to what I was experiencing. The frustrating thing is that I can never tell what dream is going to be “real” and what’s just stuff working out in my head – until an event actually happens.

For a few years I didn’t remember my dreams very well at all. Maybe that was sheer exhaustion and depression. Maybe it was medications. Maybe it was my crisis of faith. For whatever reason, I lost touch with dreaming.

It’s coming back – strong, vivid dreams that I can remember in meticulous detail. I need to put a notebook by my bed again.

Do you keep a dream diary/journal? Do you talk to other people about your dreams? Do you think dreams are significant, either from a psychological or magickal perspective? Have you ever analyzed your dreams?