Monday, January 26, 2015

The Only Way Out is Through

Well I dived right into the "learn about money" thing and I've gotten a lot further than I could ever have hoped in 3 weeks. The hardest, and best (because isn't that just one of life's truths?) part was just taking my head out of the sand and shedding some light on our financial situation. In some ways it was much better than I expected (we do have some assets saved up!), in some ways worse (there really isn't much fat to trim in our budget, we have a lot of very expensive monthly expenses). Money had turned into something stressful and scary and the way I deal with stress & fear is to turn off the light, close the door, and slowly but surely sidle far far away from the situation.

Of course, denial is not an effective method of dealing with shit in life. And knowing that scary thing is still there, somewhere, and may have actually grown bigger & scarier ends up being more stressful than the initial situation. Once I actually confronted the situation, and got over the initial fear and anxiety, I could approach it in a very practical, emotion-free, and step-wise manner. I'm doing the math and the research, and making things happen. Seeing the cold hard numbers has also surprisingly helped me get over any guilt or remorse over sunk costs. Yes we lost this, but we still have that, and we overspent on this, but we can cut back on that and make it up. I feel like I'm in charge of this, and its all about choices I (we) make, and that is pretty empowering.

So, of course, I naturally started thinking about other areas of life I could implement a similar strategy and I've thought of several. These are all things I've actively worked on in the past and been completely unable to make much forward progress.  I have decided (and I literally just had this epiphany last week) to approach such problems with equanimity. While not initially obvious to me, I've recognized that there are elements of fear and guilt associated with issues as diverse as marriage, body image, parenting and work. (i.e. pretty much my entire life!) and I need to entangle those emotions to be able to see what the actual problems (if any!) are and then work on addressing them. Its not going to be a quick fix, it may indeed be a lifetime's worth of work, but I am up for the challenge.

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 Word of the Year and Fun List

I admit I like the "one word" for the year thing. Its completely arbitrary to declare a focus for any specific 365-day period, and to begin that period on January 1st makes it even more ridiculous. But, I like reflection and taking stock and making plans and goals so here we go.

My word for 2015 is: Strength.

This one came to mind immediately when I thought of my goals for the upcoming year. I've been working really hard on personal strength, both physical and mental (HIIT! Therapy!) and also on strengthening my marriage and relationships. I want to continue working on these things, and have no desire or space for starting anything new.

The Fun List for this year has a few repeats---things I did and want to do again, as well as things I didn't get through and still want to try.
  • Vacation, just the 4 of us
  • Orchestra performance
  • Summer concert in the park
  • Museum exhibit without the kids
  • Do an "activity" date---take a class, go bowling, etc...
  • Find 4 new bands/artists that I like
  • Ice-skating, with B (G refuses, L is too little)
  • Host a party at our house
  • Celebrate birthdays in big (yet small) ways
  • See Fourth of July fireworks
  • Weekend away without the kids 
These seem manageable---some are already in the works and some just require me booking the sitter and getting tickets. I really want to have a party, its been several years, and there isn't anything seriously wrong with our house that would preclude having party---just laziness on our parts.
I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Beginning Yet Again

I didn't really have it in me to do a "year in review" type post for 2014. It wasn't a bad year, nor was it necessarily a good year. It simply was. The whole-meal bread of life, as Bunny wrote. Flour, yeast, salt, and just a touch of honey to sweeten the whole thing and make it easier to go down. Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

On a more dour note, I woke up this morning with the incredibly depressing realization that nothing has changed in the past 365 days. Not just the big stuff---of course we haven't moved, changed jobs, or added pets or children to our family. That was expected and, actually, welcome after several years of big changes. I mean the behind-the-scenes things. All the goals and hopes I had for making things better---every inch of ground I gained was eventually relinquished and I'm right back where I started.

Last year I decided to work on just a few fundamental things: marriage, parenting, and work. And I did make progress initially. But things got in the way, or I got lazy or sick or tired or excuse excuse excuse and this past week? Was pretty much this again.

Its enough to make me want to give up, but I'm not a giver-upper so I'm recommitting. Yet again. This time with the secret weapons of therapy and accountability.  I will think it through and post again about specifics---re-trying what worked and ditching what didn't last year and hopefully adding some new tricks.

I also made a "Fun List" last year. Lets see how I did with that, shall we?
  • Go hear live music (not counting the 2 kiddie concerts we are going to)
  • See a non-music performance---play, dance, comedy routine
  • See an exhibit at a non-child-friendly museum
  • Add myself to carshare account and use it
  • Learn to make a nice cocktail for myself
  • Go to the beach
  • Go see fireworks
  • A trip for just the 4 of us---anything from a weekend to a week in length
  • Date night picnic in the park
  • Drive out at night to see the stars
  • Regular (i.e once every couple of months) lunches with my work friends
  • Regular brunches with my brunch friends
  • Go to friend's bridal shower
  • Find new music to listen to---goal of 5 new artists/bands*
  • Figure out something to do with my hair*
Some of these were pretty soft calls---the brunches ended this summer when one friend moved away, another had a baby, and then the third moved away this fall. We got the fireworks in on NYE. Some I definitely want to still try to do, and some I've given up on (the hair for the love of god I will never be happy with my hair).  This was actually kind of a fun exercise, and I'd like to do it again this year (so that post will also be coming soon!)

Wishing you all peace, sleep, and joy in 2015!