If I get sick one more time…

As a kid, I was pretty healthy. Ok yeah I was the only one that needed glasses. And yeah I was the only one that had to have their appendix taken out. But other than that, I was pretty good. Sure I got the chicken pox. And I got my colds and viruses. But I broke no bones, and I had no allergies.

A few years ago, things… changed. I don’t know what caused it. Maybe it was moving to a different part of the city. Maybe it was the hormonal shift that came with my thirties. I honestly do not know. But for the past few years, I have suffered one respiratory issue after another. Sinus infections, viral infections in my throat, freaking pneumonia, and on and on. Not to mention, I even got the flu for the first time in my life!

So yeah. Sickness. One thing after another it seems. A couple of weeks ago, right when I started my vacation, the sniffing started and the eye boogies and the itchy throat. So I jumped right back onto Claritin. The beau told me I was snoring like crazy, which I don’t usually do, so I started taking Flonase at night too. And my throat was bothering me that whole week I was on vacation. But it got better. And then it got worse. Way worse.

Yesterday when I woke up I felt like my throat was swollen shut. I could breathe, but I did not want to speak or eat or anything. For the first time in my life, I could actually feel the glands in my throat mostly because the one on the right side felt like a rock. When I told the beau to feel my glands, he did and I actually yelped because it HURT. Even my ear hurt. So I ended up at the doctor. Viral infection. No antibiotics. Just treat the symptoms and let’s try and make sure it doesn’t worsen.

What in the underworld is happening to me? I’m ten dress sizes larger than I was four years ago, my knees hurt like hell when I run, and I get sick all of the time!!

Boy is it hard to keep a positive attitude when your body is freaking out. Sheesh!

But I’m trying since I’m all about the good stuff right now. Trying to load up on positive so there’s not much room for negative.

Tonight, I’m meeting with a friend to talk about my tutus. She is a photographer, my other friend is a face painter, and I make some pretty darn cool tutus. So we are going to brainstorm. I’m not nearly as aggressive as I was about this. I’m more like, this is a for fun thing– a for fun thing that brings me a few extra dollars every month. If it becomes a big thing, that’s great and if it doesn’t that’s ok.

There are other things that I am fleshing out in my life. I started a local book club– our first meeting is in October. And I am going to host open invitation game nights through the month of September. Plus with school starting again, there will be lots of projects to work on since I’m helping the heads of the Homeroom Parents Association and am spearheading the Volunteer recruitment efforts as well as the Box Top challenges.

Oh and you know what else? I used to be super annoyed with Facebook (but addicted anyways) until a friend posted this really interesting article about what happened when one user stoped “liking” content on the site and restricted themselves to either commenting, sharing, or completely disregarding it. So I tried it, and it’s been so much better! Fun little experiment if you’re interested in changing up your Facebook experience.

So yeah, those are the ramblings going around over here. Trying hard to keep the lights on and trying to put systems in place to make it harder for them to blackout on me.

Self-Destruct Mode

Did you all have a nice weekend? I did even though it wasn’t quite restful. Still, time was spent with my friends and my family and things got done around the house to some degree so that’s pretty good for me.

Do you know what baffles me? And I’m not sure if this is a universal experience or not so do chime in.

I am noticing more and more that when things start to go dim for me, I really don’t do much to fix it. I actually do a lot more to make it worse than anything else. When things start to darken, I seem to instinctively stop doing things I like. I stop going to bellydancing. I stop writing. I am not so enthusiastic about seeing friends or family. Instead of running around trying to brighten things up, it’s like I can’t make it go dark fast enough.

I am not hardwired for survival apparently.

And I really only start to notice that when I am able to come out of the funk again. It’s like I’m dehydrated and starving and try to fill up again. And then all I can do is wonder, “why on earth did I stop this in the first place?”.

Speaking of abandoned things, a comment I got from Sandy the other day reminded me– I really miss Google Reader. When Google took that away, it really messed up blogging for me. I just never could get into Feedly. Reader was easy. Everything was right there. I check my email every day so naturally Reader got checked too. Not so with other services I’m afraid.

Which is just as well. Blogging keeps changing. Talk about accelerated evolution. I remember the days of blogs as personal diaries. And then as tools to connect with like-minded people. And now… I don’t know what they are honestly. I don’t really read them much. It seems they are all in existence to make money one way or another. Very few seem to be interested in only the community. Which I understand. Money is useful.

Anyways, hopefully I can keep the lights on longer this time. I do like it better this way.

The thing I like most

I love people who make me laugh

 

Last night, I went to a new friend’s house and I laughed a lot. The wine and the company and the calm in my head allowed the laughter to come easily and plentiful. It was nice.

I remember thinking or saying if I laugh like that once a month, I’ll be just fine.

Laughing more. It’s on my list. So is spending time in nature. Checking in with my kids. Reading more. Writing more. Making things because I want to make them. Watching more anime. Spending more time with friends. More living.

It’s my hope that by focusing more energy on things I enjoy, on things that make me laugh, on things that make me glad, I won’t have enough energy for darker things. Simple math right?

The Game of Company Thrones

Iron Throne

I’ve been reading the Game of Thrones series. Right now, I’m fresh into the fourth book, A Feast for Crows.

Funny little thoughts occur to me when I’m reading books, especially when it’s a series, and even moreso when the series is long. You really get wrapped up in the story world and it becomes part of your brain for a little while. So it makes sense I find comparisons in books to my life.

With the Game of Thrones, I can’t help but compare it to work. Each company is its own kingdom with various lords and ladies of different ranks in attendance. And while each lord and lady has their own castle to manage, large or small, they only have certain freedoms to do so. They have a King and/or Queen to answer to at the end of the day and depending on how strict the monarchy is, they have more or less freedom to manage as they will.

Part of the way to succeed and to survive in the game of thrones is to know your place, to know what you’re good at, to let go of things that are simply out of your reach or control. And at least in the capitalist game of thrones, you don’t have to worry about being tortured, hanged, or decapitated. You might be stripped of your land and titles but unlike Westeros, you can easily hop to another kingdom and begin anew, many times even at a higher rank.

For me at least that’s been an interesting way to grasp a concept I’ve struggled with. There is only so much one can do at the end of the day, especially if the powers that be are controlling and distrustful, as many monarchs tend to be. You do the best that you can with the powers you do have, you offer counsel when it is asked for, and you keep your head down. You try your best to make your monarch look good and you hope that the work that you are doing has at least some positive impact on the kingdom. But at the end of the day, it’s the regent that is judged for your work, it’s the regent that is praised for it, and you’re the one to blame if it goes wrong.

One of the things I am trying to get under control in my quest for peace and for quiet and for serenity is the way that I am at work.

I think that I sometimes I forget my place. I’m not much more than a lady in waiting to a highly ranked lord on the grand scale of things. I forget that there is some stress that is just not mine to take, and recognition and blame too.

So that is one thing I am going to work on this year, remembering my place at work. I know that has a negative connotation to it but in my case, it’s a positive thing.

I’m not exactly convinced that my frustrations and depressions are connected to my work although I am quick to place the blame there as it’s the easy scapegoat. While some of my frustrations are certainly financial, that’s not exactly tied to the work I do on a daily basis in an office. And even though my job isn’t challenging, it doesn’t have to be. If my mind needs more stimulation, that’s for me to find it– not for my job to provide.

I have a good job. It’s flexible and my coworkers are sweet and loving. It’s my life that has the holes in it. So I’ll stay out of the game of thrones work-wise. I’ll do my duty and do it well but I will find satisfaction and challenges elsewhere. I think that’s what’s best for me.

Hush

Yesterday I turned another year older. I know New Year’s Eve is the usual time for resolutions but I like to measure the passing of time in different ways and birthdays are a pretty good marker for me. Sad to say, I haven’t really made much of a change since my last birthday. Lots of words and lots of vows but that’s it– lots of warm air puffing about but nothing else.

I am very weary, inside. And so instead of continuing with the posturing and the panting and the puffing I’m changing tactics.

For a long time now, I have felt very untethered. I have felt very disconnected. I have felt very unsure. Who am I really? What do I really want? What kind of person am I really? What kind of person do I really want to be? Where do I really want to go? Lots and lots of questions and sometimes I think I have found an answer and so I drop everything and leap at that possibility to find nothing but more dust, more questions, more uncertainty.

So I am putting an end to all of that. I am calling for an end to this frenzy for something else, something more, something not what I have because what I keep seeing around me is lots of signs that what is important, really important, has very little to do with what I am constantly thinking about.

I need to settle down all of the thoughts and the feelings. I need to get myself a lot of clarity and calm and slow down the thought process. Life isn’t running away from me, I’m chasing it away.

So I am simplifying and cutting down to basics and wiping a lot of slates clean. I am pausing all pursuits except one– peace. Until I am there, and things are quiet in my heart and soul and head, everything else is going to have to wait.

I am going to do the things that help me to focus and let go of the things that fluster me. Embrace the things that help me and push away the things that hurt and that’s that.

A poem, because why not

These are my words now.
Purpose. Focus. Drive. Forward. Develop. Improve.
My mantra. My chant. My onward, ho!

I am better than this struggle that I have ensnared myself in. I must march on and on and on and on. 

More. 
I. Want. More. 

I want so much more and do you know if that’s ok? Because I’m not sure I’ve completely embraced that yet but…
 I’m trying to.

Because I’m tired of cringing when the FPL bill comes due. 
I’m tired of the breath I have to take when I pile together the stacks of money for the rent’s sake.
Beause I’m tired of saying
“Baby I’m sorry, we can’t see the new Transformers movie because I don’t have enough money right now. No baby, not next week either, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

But that’s over and that’s done now. I am on a new track. I am on *this* path– this way that I don’t really know, but it’s the way that I need to go.

Purpose. Focus. Drive. Forward. Develop. Improve.
My mantra. My chant. My onward, ho!

The Blogging Thing? Not so good…

I am just not so good at this blogging thing lately. I’m kind of lost in my head it feels like. There are different kinds of drama maybe. The external stuff writes itself practically. The internal stuff is pretty repetitive and tedious. I don’t really feel like I should be giving any advice on anything. And I don’t know, I don’t have things to brag about or anything.

Life is pretty mundane for this mutant. For better or for worse, I’m not sure I even know.

I’m out of touch too. Once Google nixed Google Reader that really killed the blogging thing for me. It was so easy to go into my Gmail and then my Reader and everything was together and seamless and nice and now it’s gone and I don’t even remember the name of the one that I went with because it’s been probably almost a year since I used it. Reading other blogs was often my biggest inspiration in writing my own.

That being said, I’m stubborn and am just not taking things down or announcing I am done with blogging or whatever. I like my place here, lonely as I’ve let it become.

You can still spy on me if you want. I’m still active on Google+ here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118303245777999095791/posts

And I have a Facebook page for my tutus that I’m sort of bipolar about but I’m trying to get better with: http://www.facebook.com/tullepretty

And I’m on Etsy and perfectly available for stalking there too: https://www.etsy.com/people/mutantsupermodel

Oh and Pinterest. I’m on Pinterest too: http://www.pinterest.com/mutantmodel/

I’m everywhere. Except here. But that’s for now. I take turns. And I’m not NOT here obviously or this wouldn’t be happening. I’m just like I said lost in my head and distracting myself with tutus. Lots and lots of tutus to keep my mind off big ugly problems. Yeah.

Tutus are fun though. Here is one I’m going to be putting on Etsy soon for Halloween.

Halloween Tutu with Train

Craft Fair Recap

SO! As I mentioned last week, I was going a little cuckoo getting ready for my very first craft fair. It took place this past Saturday and wow!

First things first, I sold enough inventory that I covered the table fee and then some. I didn’t sell a high number of items but that’s ok– I only went with big ticket items after all and wasn’t really to pull in too much revenue on-site.

I participated in the giveaway they had so 120 people got my business card taped to a Disney or Marvel themed pack of tissues. Another 130 picked up my business card at my table.

I had a lot of face to face time with customers and potential customers. Since I really want to push for custom orders, this was ideal. It also helped me make some decisions regarding inventory to carry at future craft fairs (oh yes, I will definitely be doing more) and even to stock Etsy with.

The face to face time was by far the most valuable part of the craft fair. It was also my favorite. I paid attention to everything– what sizes people were looking for, what colors drew their eye, what designs, etc. It even gave me courage to aggressively expand outside of tutu skirts and has started me thinking about potential growth paths I can take if I am so inclined.

I will definitely do more of these. The show organizer said they are trying to get another one ready for July but that if they can’t they will definitely have two more this year– in October and in December. I am also hoping that as I meet other crafters, I will hear about other fairs. If I can do six craft fairs a year, and ramp up custom and direct orders, I think it is very feasible to achieve my goal of making as much money as I receive in child support a year.

Where I have to be careful is with the holiday months as these are high seasons for my corporate job and are high seasons for my side job. So I will have to be extra careful with time management and will have to really pursue custom orders in the months leading up to October/November/December.

Overall, I’m excited and pleased. This is what gives me pleasure. This is what gives me confidence. This is what gives me pride. Being creative, being in charge, and being rewarded for it.

Tulle Pretty Table

 

Flurry

The past seven days have been absolutely wild. Things tend to happen like that– life’s nice and calm and then you hit warp speed.

There is a craft fair this Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale. I had applied to this craft fair pretty much just a couple days after they announced it. It’s been around a while and it happens a few times a year. It gets a great crowd and I think I’d fit in pretty damn well and I’d have a good time experimenting with my funkier concepts. This was in early April. They finally told me I had been accepted last Monday.

I swear to you, one hour after I got the email and possibly did a happy dance on the train, I got a text message from my friend to be on standby because it looked like she was going to be induced that day. I had been designated the child care for her two other children.

Super crazy long story short, I went to the hospital Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to visit my friend. For Monday and Tuesday I had 5 children sleep over at my house. Their father joined them Tuesday night as well.

So I am finally gearing up mentally for this Craft Fair thing that’s coming up next Saturday right? And I make these big giant plans for this weekend because the kids are with their dad and my friend and her baby are home and things are good. We went to get a yummy Jamaican dinner and as we settle down to eat my love jumps up in severe total pain.

Super crazy long story short, he had a kidney stone. I got home close to 4AM Saturday morning. Slept a few hours and have been making tutus non-stop.

This whole experience has caused a crazy emotional experience. I almost talked myself out of the whole craft fair actually because I was freaking out that it’d be a failure for me and I should just try again but then I told myself that as a new applicant, if I was like oh no thanks I can’t possibly be ready in time, they would never accept me again and if they did they would probably give me less notice because they’d leave me as a last resort type of vendor so I was like OK I AM DOING IT.

And then I was like well you know if it’s a total bust and I don’t even sell one thing at least I can look at this like a paid workshop with hands on demonstrations of what to do and what not to do and I can have the experience of interacting with people who do not know me personally and see what they think of my products. Because seriously I love my friends and family and my co-workers and they all love my product but maybe they’re biased a bit right?

Well NOW I am all super excited and thinking hey I might even make some money at this thing maybe possibly. And even if I don’t I am going to have so much fun because I love hanging out with a bunch of artsy people anyways and looking at handmade things and in Miami we just don’t get that opportunity very much and this is one where there will be 64 other artsy people besides me and we will be stuck in the same 40000 sq feet of space for five hours so that should be potentially super cool right?

And even if I don’t sell not one single tutu (which ok would be kind of soul crushing a little bit maybe) or get not one single custom order, I’ll have had the exposure and I’ll have had the learning experience and that’s totally worth the price of admission.

I like making my tutus. I like selling my tutus. I like coming up with designs and have people fawn over them and pay me to make them. It’s really FUN. I get to go all out and be all creative and have a good time with the process. And I like doing things that make people happy and putting girls of all ages in fluffy tutu skirts and watching the giant smiles on their faces is seriously happy-making you know?

PLUS I have committed to making a dozen tutus for the residents of my local Ronald McDonald house so if I do not sell not one single tutu, not only will I have all that amazing experience but I will have almost every single one of the tutus for the charity DONE. So there are lots of good things all around you see? It’s just a crazy wild ride and I am awash in a flurry of tulle and activity.

So how was YOUR weekend?

For my friend

I have a habit of writing really long comments that are blog posts of their own. I was doing that now on a friend’s blog and figured I’d just write about it here because it’s a good fit for my blog.

I have blogged on and off for many years and made many blog friends with many interests. Eventually this included personal finance friends as well and it is to one of these friends I was responding. Maybe you don’t have to deal with these kinds of problems, but maybe you do and if you do this is for you too just in case maybe it helps you too.

For years, I have read a lot about personal finance. I have read the blogs, the books, the articles. I know about snowballs vs. avalanches. I know about emergency funds. I know about the mint and the karma. I know lots of things I really wish I didn’t know.

The one thing that I have done that has helped me the most? I stopped obsessing over it.

Basically I stopped looking at and caring about the major numbers. The only balance I care about is my checking account. I don’t care about how much I owe to credit cards or student loans. I don’t care about my credit score. I don’t care about how much I owe or how much I’m worth compared to the average Jane. I just.don’t.care.

This doesn’t mean I go hog-wild and rack everything up. I already know not to do that. The few credit cards I have either got put in a different part of my wallet (the one for emergencies), got discarded (store cards), or got converted into Debit cards (I love you, Target).

I have a list of the bills that need to get paid and their amounts (the credit card line is padded above minimums) and then the rest of the money is for everything else– food, clothes, gifts, etc.

I know that I don’t have that much left over so I keep purchases down to a minimum. I check my checking account often to get an idea of what I can and can’t spend. And that seems to work just fine.

Sometimes things unexpectedly happen and they need to be paid for. I do what I can with my checking and if I need to, I use my credit card.

At this point in my life, my emergency credit card is just a part of my life. It won’t be for long but it is for now. And I decided to not feel bad that it is. It just is.

The biggest part of this was the acceptance of who I am and who I am not.

In the personal finance world, the stories that get the spotlight are the debt-free ones and not once has any of those stories echoed my experience. I am not them and I refuse to compare myself to them.

When you have been doing this for as long as I have and for as long as my friend has, you can let go. And that’s my advice to her and to you if you are in this situation. You know what to do. Trust yourself a little bit and let it go. Erase the counters. Stop analyzing the balances. Let go of the expense tracking. You are not a newbie. I think debt and money in general is a lot like a wound.

You want a wound to heal? Leave it alone!! The same with your money. You want it to grow and to get to work? Stop messing with it.

Stop evaluating it and re-evaluating it and changing your mind and changing your mind back again. You know what you need to do so keep doing it. Don’t check in every few days, check in every few months.

Seriously, it’s the best advice I have.

We all have this beautiful mental energy and we waste it on worrying and stressing about things that do best when you don’t worry and stress about them.

99 problems but 86

You are going to make it. You are going to make it and I am going to make it because we are aware and we are knowledgeable. We know we have the problems and we know how to fix them and we are doing what we can. Are we doing the best that we can? Maybe and maybe not. Maybe this doesn’t deserve our best effort and that is ok when you give yourself permission to make it ok. Maybe there are way more important things in your life that deserve your best effort and that deserve your mental energy and that is fine, that is great honestly.

Because seriously, seriously, do you want to look back at this time in your life and be reminded me of how much stress, anxiety, and fear there was because of something as fleeting as finances? Reality check: you do not need to be debt-free with an emergency fund and healthy retirement savings to be less stressed. You need to choose to be less stressed and those things come. Or they don’t. And that’s good and fine too.

When emergencies happen, and they always happen, stressing about how on earth you are going to pay for something fixes absolutely nothing. Often, it makes things so much worse. What fixes things is fixing things. Whether that means credit cards, going without, a combination of things, or something entirely else does not matter. Resolving it and moving on does.

When your life ends, the most important questions are not going to be:

  • What is your credit score?
  • How much money do you have in savings?
  • Do you even IRA?

I mean, I guess some people might have those questions but I know that money is literally the absolute last thing I want to reflect on as my life comes to a close. And I am pretty sure, my friend, that the same applies to you.

You have children and I have children and you have people you love and I do too and I know that I want to reflect on them and the beautiful moments we had together. I want to think about their smell and their voice and the way they felt in my arms. I want to reflect on their laughter.

So let it go my friend. You deserve so much better than the pain you inflict on yourself with all this mess. You really do and so do those wonderful people you love so very much.