The best things in life are free? What a crock of *&%$

Ok, Ok. I know that I’m already starting off on a less positive note than I have been recently. Stay with me though, I may have some insight…although this may end up just becoming a rant…

The best things in life are free.”

I don’t believe that. I don’t really believe that anything is ever truly “Free.” That word to me, means that you don’t have to make any effort or payment in attaining or keeping something.

Even love! People say “Oh, my love is for free.” Well…no, I doubt that it is, really. MOST people will eventually stop feeling/giving love to someone if it is not reciprocated in SOME way. Even people who are in abusive relationships receive a glimmer of something in return for the ridiculous amounts of love that they give to these abusers.

But I digress. This post, for once in my crazy life, is not about love.

This post is about money, and how CRAPPY it is that I don’t have enough. Kind of.

I make decent money. I live on my own. I pay my bills, and I do go out and do things.

But each week, towards the end of the week, I start to stress out about my paycheck.

Ok. What is due this week? Oh bugger, my phone bill was more than I thought it was going to be…can I take an extra $30 from rent and make it up on the next paycheck? Maybe if I just eat ramen this week…”

Grocery shopping is a nightmare. I’m overweight. (Please don’t start with the “No, you’re beautiful” comments. Yes, I’m beautiful. But I’m also overweight. Its ok.) I want to get healthy, and eat better. But has ANYONE else noticed how expensive it is to eat well? Seriously. Veggies, fruit…all the wonderfully healthy things are SO expensive…and yet, we have candy at the check out aisle that is “3 for $.99!” Ramen, a staple of any broke college kid or bachelor (or me on a tight pay week) is SO high in sodium, and is SO bad for you…Macaroni and cheese…my very favorite comfort food is SUPER cheap…and SO fattening!

I want salads. I want strawberries and blueberries and granola and low fat yogurt. I want grapes, and zucchini. I want asparagus! Mmmm…asparagus…I want apples and peanut butter…

Picking up some of these items isn’t super bad, but when you start buying more than one or two, it can become really expensive.

Why are the things that are good for us so expensive? The junk food and crap food should be more expensive. The healthy food should be more affordable. Maybe then our nation wouldn’t be having such a problem with obesity. That and our portion sizes, but that’s another topic for another day.

I would love to live comfortably. I’d like to pay my rent, eat healthy, pay my bills, and actually have a little money left over to SAVE.

And to be honest with you, I really don’t spend THAT much money on myself during the week.

Yes, I have a Starbucks habit. I’m working on that. I’ve taken my spending down, though, from anywhere between $5-$9 A DAY to $3-$5. (Depending on if I get a brownie…I am a fat kid after all!)

Today my coffee only cost me $2. I got a smaller cup. Of course, part of that reasoning is because I just bought a big box of tea, and I plan to drink tea at work today, so I didn’t want to put coffee in my work cup.

But in the grand scheme of things…I don’t buy new clothes very often…and when I do, its generally out of necessity. (Like when I wore a hole in the only pair of jeans that I owned and had to replace them.) I’ve been wearing the same clothes to work for over 3 years. Last year, I spent $30 and bought myself 3 new sweaters. I haven’t bought any new work clothes since. And just this morning I discovered a rip in the only pair of work pants that fit me.

I know I need to set my priorities a little better. This week and next, (well, after today) I will probably not be having any Starbucks. Which is fine with me. I need to save that $3 a day for the next 2 weeks so I can maybe splurge and buy…wait for it…TWO pairs of work pants! Maybe that way I won’t wear holes in them so fast.

Now, I will readily admit, part of me REALLY doesn’t want to spend that money on clothes right now. But lets be realistic…I don’t have the time or energy to work out right now with the crazy ass schedule I’m keeping right now. Morgan is working 10 hour days at least 4 days out of the week, and we carpool. I’m up at 5:45 am getting ready for work, and don’t get home till 6:30 pm at the absolute earliest…by that time, I am EXHAUSTED. I’m lucky if I eat before crashing out with The Doctor. While I’d rather not buy another pair of fat pants…I have to be realistic. There is no way I’m going to drop 50 pounds overnight, so I have to buy at least one pair to get me through till I do lose the weight.

I’d love to pick up a second job. The only problem with that is that I no longer have my own form of transportation. And in order to have that…I need a second job. So I need something that I can do on weekends from home or from a coffee shop or something…

I want to write. I think it would be amazing to make a living from writing. But, as I have several friends who ARE writers…I know that the chances of my silly erotic stories actually selling well enough to count are slim to none.

I could probably write something else…but what to write about?

I’m not politically minded at all…I don’t read the news…I could write about “The IT Crowd” and “Doctor Who,” but who besides my crazy group of friends would really want to read all of that?

As it is now, the one thing that I know I need to do is stop stressing about money.

This time in my life is happening for a reason. There are lessons here, and I know what they are: Set your priorities. Learn to do without. SAVE. PLAN AHEAD. Don’t panic! (where’s my towel? Good gods, I am a NERD.)

Stressing out is just going to make me sick again though…which costs more money. So I’m not going to WORRY about it. I’m going to be mindful about what I’m spending my money on, and cut costs where I can. I actually will probably stop going out to karaoke for a little while, since I REALLY like to be supportive and buy drinks and food when I’m out. Granted, I usually get cheap things, but…even $3 on a whiskey sour could be put aside for a new shirt from Ross for work, or could be put aside for a rainy day. $6 a week is $24 a month…that’s my renter’s insurance and then some…

So anyway…I guess this did turn into a little bit of a rant…but more importantly, this post was more of an outlet for some of the stress that I’m feeling. I feel a little better now, and intend on reworking my budget, and seeing what I can cut out to help get myself on a better path. Realistically, making more money probably won’t happen any time soon…I’m still going to try to find a way to make some spare cash, but in the meantime, I need to do what I can, and quit thinking about all that I “can’t.”

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Early morning ramblings

I’m sitting up at Starbucks this morning, 2 hours before I have to work.  Morgan has been working 10 hour days since January, and since we carpool…I usually have some time to kill.  Normally, I’d be trying to sleep, but I got plenty of rest last night, and I’ve got a lot of things on my mind.

I’ve been on new anti-depressants for almost 2 weeks now.  I’d like to think that they are helping me to balance out my awful mood swings.  I do think they are working…but given the fact that Aunt Irma is visiting this week, and some circumstances over the last couple of days, I’m feeling angsty and emotional today.

The funny thing is, I’m not sad. I’m angry.  Well, ok and a little…down.

I’m angry because there are many situations occurring around me that I am unable to control.  Not that I need to, because its not anything in MY personal life…but my best and closest friends are being effected…and in a negative way.  I want to bulldoze all of their problems so that they can be happy.  Health problems?  Gone.  Money issues?  Not anymore.  Car trouble? Fixed.  Relationship issues?  Resolved.

But I can’t do that.  And even if I *could* do that, I shouldn’t.  A good friend reminded me yesterday that there is a reason that my friends are experiencing these things.  I can’t take them away, because there would be no learning experience for them.

And it also provides a learning experience for me.

I’m learning much more about myself from watching these events unfold. Some of the things I’m learning, I don’t like so much.

For example…one of my friends has been very down, and negative lately, for good reason.  Everything gets to this person, and even attempts to make them laugh backfire.  This morning, I felt as though the Universe was holding up a mirror.  Is this how *I* appear, when I’m in my moods?  Is how I’m feeling right now, the frustration that NOTHING I do gets them out of their funk how everyone else feels about me when I’m like that?

*shudders*

I’m glad I’m on these new meds.  Even though I know that they are not “happy pills,” and that I will not always be in an amazing mood…if they help me to NOT go back to this place…

I don’t ever want to be like that EVER again.  Focusing on all the negative ALL the time…failing to see the little bit of good that IS going on…or if I do see it, failing to acknowledge it…

I’m feeling down for the same old bullshit reasons.  Trying to focus my energy on what I DO have, rather than what I don’t have.  Its hard, but I’ve been doing a little better lately, I think.  I’ve been cherishing the time that I do get with the people I love, fleeting as it may feel…enjoying all of the little things that I tend to overlook sometimes…a text, a call, a “like” on facebook, a new follower on my blog…a lingering hug, a look that speaks more than words could ever say….and of course, hearing and actually taking to heart the words “I love you.”

Its one thing to hear it.  But to hear it, and acknowledge in your heart that this person, whoever it is: friend, lover or otherwise REALLY truly means it…

Which leads me to the other reason I’m feeling a little low today.

I have a question that probably should remain unasked…but part of me feels the need to know something about a situation from the not too distant past…I’m sure I’m going to regret asking, but I’m feeling a sense of urgency since this morning.

I’m being cryptic on purpose, to protect individuals who may or may not be involved…I don’t even know if this person reads this blog or not…probably not, to be honest…but in any case…

I’ve decided that at some point or another today, I want to try to have a conversation with this individual, just to get some things set straight before we each move on with our lives…My gut is telling me that I’m going to be saddened at the answer…but maybe my gut will be wrong this time.

At any rate…Sometimes we have to do things that aren’t pleasant, or don’t feel good for the betterment of ourselves.  I feel that I will be stronger for obtaining the answer to this question.  I feel that I’m stronger already for admitting that I need help.

I know that I’m making progress.  I look at my life now, and my life 4 years ago…and I don’t even recognize that weak child anymore.

I have a long way to go.  But I’m going to make it.  I know I can.

The best part is, and this goes for EVERYONE who reads this:

I can do it on my own.  But I don’t have to, because I am surrounded by friends who are walking the road with me.  Not FOR me…but with me.  They are my support and my cheerleaders.  When I fall, they help me up.  When I need encouragement, they cheer me on.

Can I do it without them?  Of course.  But allowing them to be there to help me makes the road that much sweeter to walk.

Fail forward

Fail: 1. To fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired or approved. 2. To be or become deficient or lacking; be insufficient or absent; fall short. 3. To dwindle, pass, or die away. 4. To lose strength or vigor; become weak.

 Such a negative word to be on my mind after such a phenomenal weekend. “Fail.” “Failure.”

 Is failure really such a negative thing though? If you stop and think about it, what options do you have when you fail? You can give up, or you can try again.

 Up until recently, the option that I would have picked was give up. I would utter those two words I was so fond of “I’m done” and just give up. What’s the point in trying again? Seriously, especially if its something that you’ve failed at over and over again…if you’re just going to fail again, why bother?

 The problem with that thought pattern, however, is that it very quickly becomes a downward spiral. Soon, you are failing at seemingly everything you try, and then, what becomes the point of even living? So you give up. You give up trying, you give up hoping…and when that happens, most people end up trying something really foolish and stupid.

 Not this girl.

 This girl saw the pattern beginning. I saw myself “failing at everything I tried.” But the problem wasn’t that I was really failing. I wasn’t really trying. Even more to the point, I wasn’t “doing.” Yoda’s famous words are so very true: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

You either make things better, or you don’t. You either communicate, or you don’t. You either change or you don’t.

 Does this mean that when you realize that you’re not “doing,” that you suddenly succeed at everyting you attempt? Of course not. Sometimes you continue to fail. It doesn’t mean that you need to stop “doing” or “trying.” You just have to do something different. If you want different results, you can’t continue to do the same thing over and over again…that would be the definition of insanity, folks.

 And so, on this lovely Monday morning…I have failed. I have failed in an effort to communicate, and in an effort to control my emotional side.

But I’m not giving up.

What I realized is that the assumptions that I made were incorrect. Therefore, I will not be making them again. Not in the way that I did anyway. I will make more informed decisions, but not assumptions.

If I give up, then what is the point?

Its in the trying again, the doing something different to get the desired result…THAT is where life happens!

And so, I have accepted my failure today. I have allowed myself a few moments to wallow in the defeat. And I am moving on.

Back when I was a church-goer, my old youth pastor used to say “If you’re going to fail, fail forward.” Sound advice. Go ahead and fail. But learn from it. Learn from it, and don’t go back.

And whatever you do, don’t give up.

Location, Location, Location!

Sunset at Ocean Beach, San Diego

Sunset at Ocean Beach, San Diego

Sometimes, it really is all about location…

For example, I am currently sitting in a 24 hour coffee shop in lovely San Diego with my friend Joy.  I’m drinking a lovely cup of coffee (with chocolate and hazelnut), listening to Les Jumeaux, and have just finished downloading and installing Open Office on my lap top again.  Maybe now I’ll stop making excuses and do some of the “actual writing” I’ve been threatening to do for so long…

San Diego is a nice change from Vegas.  Don’t get me wrong, I DO love living in Las Vegas.  But there are times that I feel like I’m living on another planet instead of just another city.

Las Vegas is the City of Sin.  Neon lights!  Fake breasts!  Drug addicts smoking meth out of a coke can on the sidewalk next to your favorite karaoke bar!  Wait…(yes, that is a true story…I’ll tell it some day.)

It saddens me sometimes that I live in such a place where culture is SO absent.  And that statement shouldn’t make sense.  People move to Las Vegas from ALL over the WORLD!  We should have so much culture we don’t know what to do with it.  Perhaps that is the problem…no one knows what to do with the culture that we do have.

I miss museums.  I miss Art Institutes…REAL art galleries…not a gallery I have to be in or near a casino to enjoy.  I miss all the cute little indie shops that I used to frequent back home in Chicago.

Walking downtown today with Joy really brought that to the front of my mind, although its something that I really have been thinking a lot about recently.

We strolled along the sandy beach, sat and talked and ate cheesecake…I even went in the ocean and got splashed…but AFTER that, we walked around all the little shops and just browsed around a bit.  There is so much in the way of artistic culture here…just walking down the beach, there were people making jewelry, singing songs, playing guitars…there were bunches of awesome record stores, tattoo parlors and hippie shops…I feel as though I’ve traveled back to a familiar place…a place that feels a bit more like home than Vegas does.

When I lived in Chicago, I took all of the amazing cultural things for granted.  I didn’t ever really appreciate the fact that The Field Museum was only an hour train ride and a short walk away.  I forgot that the Art Institute was available for me, whenever I was bored and had “NOTHING to DO in this STUPID STATE!!!!”  (I’m pretty sure I was about 14 years old when that statement happened.)

Now that I live in a place that is devoid of any significant displays of artistic culture, I feel whole again when I am able to experience a community where it thrives.

Looking around the coffee shop, hearing the barista calling out “ARCTIC POLAR BEAR!” I am very impressed by the display of art on the walls, the welcoming decor, and most of all, the many varied “types” of people that are here.

We have a large table of people in their late 30s, early 40s sitting around a low table chatting.  There are  college students of assorted ages sitting around with their notebooks and laptop computers doing homework or studying for finals…Punks, Goths, girls all dressed up for a night on the town…and it seems that everyone gets along just fine with everyone else.

I’ve said 10 times in the last day and a half that I would love to move here.  Part of this is not a true statement, as I love Vegas: most of my family is there, and many of the people who matter the most to me are there as well.

But I definitely think That I want to start visiting places like this more often…San Diego, L.A., Phoenix…and when I can, Chicago.

If I can start introducing more culture and art back into my life (and I don’t mean to exclude the Belly Dance community here, but that is not exactly the culture/art that I’m longing for right now.) then I believe that I will feel much happier, more at peace, and much more content.

It could also be that I’m just exhausted and rambling, riding high on the awesome emotions brought on by taking a road trip for the first time in 4 years BY MYSELF, and spending time with amazing people.

At any rate, I’m really enjoying myself here, and am not anxious to leave, although it will be good to be home tomorrow night.

Relationships and other things…

This weekend for me, has given me cause for reflection again. 

Not bad reflection, by any means, but reflection nonetheless about relationships.  Specifically, my relationships.  Friendships and otherwise. 

I had a really lovely weekend.  This week was a little emotional for me, for many reasons which I do not wish to discuss…lets just say there were some minor disappointments, and low points…and moments of me acting like a child.  I’m feeling much better now. 🙂

I’ve been reflecting on the relationships that i have with my friends, and the very many levels of friendship that I have, because there are many.

I have a fairly large circle of “friends.”  One look at my facebook page will show you that.  I have 434 at last count…and the funniest part of this is…the vast majority of these people are people that I’ve met at LEAST once.  Yes, there are a few dance friends on this page that I haven’t actually met in person yet, but we’ve maintained an online relationship for quite some time. 

But, when I’m REALLY down, or when I’m in need…there are only a handful of people that I’m really willing to reach out to.  I can think of them all right now, and I can count them on 2 hands, with a couple extra fingers left over. 

Its not that these people are necessarily any “better” than my other friends…but each of these individuals maintains a 2 way relationship with me, and it never really feels one sided…(whether the one sided is them or me)

Its this small group of people that I consider to be my group of “Best Friends.”  That’s not a term that I like to throw around loosely, however I do not believe that one person can have only ONE best friend.  These besties each know and support me in ways that some of the others do not or cannot…making a pretty damn amazing group. 

The best part is…(with the exception of 2, who have not met the others due to distance) all of my besties get along with each other, therefor making my circle even better. 

I have friends who give it to me straight, who don’t sugar coat anything…who don’t spare my feelings when I’m being stupid.  I have friends who sometimes will just listen, sit with me and keep me company when I’m feeling sad.  I have friends who help me move, and help me decorate, and help me keep my home full of happiness, positivity and good energy.  I have friends that can be relentless about getting me out of the house when I’m depressed, because they KNOW that I will feel better when I get out.  I have friends that I’ve been able to help with their kids, and moving, and dancing, and listening to problems, I have friends that I’ve been able to help by picking their drunk asses up at 2, 3 in the morning, and making Robertos runs, and bringing them home for a good night’s sleep and hangover food the next day.  I have friends that I’ve been able to help simply by listening.  I have friends who know absolutely every single thing about me, with no secrets, who know me better than I know myself sometimes (not always though!) who look out for me, and who love me no matter what.

I love that my friends and I have this circle of giving and receiving that is beneficial to us all.  I love that I am able to give support and love and help when they are in need, and that they are always so willing to return it to me as well.

These relationships are so fulfilling to me…I hope that I can be as good a friend to these people as they are to me. 

I suppose I was just feeling reflective today, and grateful because I had such a great weekend with friends this weekend.  I had real quality time with old friends who mean the world to me, and new friends who are rock-your-socks-off amazing. 🙂  Ups and downs in life are inevitable, and I feel very lucky that I have friends who are a constant source of balance for me. 

To my besties…you know who you are.  I love and appreciate each of you more than I can ever express.  You guide me, laugh with AND at me, cry with me, grieve with me and celebrate with me…you’re the best. 🙂