Where to even start?

First off my heart goes out to my mama friend who is in the thick of the worst thing imaginable: her husband has just received a very bad diagnosis. I can’t and won’t go into details, because it is not for me to tell. But WUMP does reality set in when something like that happens. So much runs through my own head about mortality, I cannot even begin to fathom what they are feeling as they begin to process this and formulate a plan of action. I don’t know what to do in this circumstance, I feel impotent. Does my compassion matter? What can I say or do? What I won’t do is disappear for lack of knowing what to do, or for feeling awkward. I want to make myself available to them in whatever way I can.

So with that as a preface, take everything else I write as interesting…but maybe, in the scheme of things, not that important. Some things in life have a way of giving us instant perspective.

What I had been thinking about this week was, well…why does it all happen at once? Both my car died and my cell phone in a span of less than 24 hours. While I have a tendency to bitch and moan, I already had my girlfriends news spinning around in my head, so I had my instant reality check and I decided that these small matters could be taken in stride.

So yes, the phone was irritating…since it had been a new phone purchased via ebay less than a year ago. At the time I thought I was really smart, that though it was cash down all at once, I ultimately saved a hundred bucks. More fool me. Apparently these things can’t even last a year. If I had just gone with my provider and paid for their phone via monthly installments…yes ultimately it would cost more…but there would have also been recourse if the thing just up and failed as it did.

Thus my attempted thriftiness was actually a loss. That’s $500 I will not see again. I can’t even believe I am writing that much money…how did cell phones get this expensive? ( I know, I know, they’re mini computers…but I don’t need all of that).

And now I have a new phone that I am paying for monthly…and I am paying for insurance on it at $11 a month because now the fear of implosion is instilled in me, so I don’t want to take any chances. Also, I do believe that while there, and very distracted by my two young ‘uns, the guy upgraded my plan…so I really feel kinda ripped off. Not sure how much more I will now be charged monthly. But it seems, any time I interact with cell phone providers, I always leave feeling I’ve been played. The plans and add-ons and small print are so frickin’ confusing on a good day, without kids. I dunno what to say about all that.

Luckily, the car turned out to be a minor fix that my hubs managed to do. So for the moment, no major expense (though he had purchased $200 worth of parts expecting to have to replace the ignition, but those can be returned).

I did get a strong sense of dejection eminating from the hubs on the morning after all of this hit the fan. I know his heart was with my friend and her husband. I know too he was worrying about all the additional unexpected expenses.

Which then got me thinking about how I might do better with reigning back spending. Because although I am doing this 365 shopping detox, it still seems like at best we are just hangin’ in there. I was just reading an article about the tenuous state of the middle class, how most of us, faced with a job loss, have only enough socked away to stay above water for 3 weeks. I gave that a thinky thunk, and I think that could be pretty true for us. Since I no longer work, we rely soley on my hubs’ income and while that is awesome that we can do that and stay afloat…afloat is all we are.

We have never, as a couple been good about laying out a realistic budget and sticking to it. Mostly because of me, I suppose. I have always just kept an idea of what we have, gone with gut feeling about what we can afford.

That’s probably not good enough right now.

There are so many little sucks, so many small leeches. Not only these days do we need to pay attention to what goes out via physical bills, but we need to pay attention to what goes out on automatic payments, what pre-approved bill via Paypal, etc. All of these things are there for our convenience, but it’s also dang confusing and easy to lose track of. I have Skype that draws a fee if and when I use up minutes, I have web addresses that have auto charges when their annual fee comes up, monthly Cloud storage fees (to back up all those photos I take on my smart phone. Grr.).

If I had been really brave, I would have said “screw it” to another smart phone. I would have gotten a basic cell for incoming texts and calls and that’s it ( if they even make those any more?!?) But no, I am well and truly in it. My privilege is showing: I want me my Instagram and Facebook, I want to take pictures and share them instantly with my family. I am no Buddhist monk, able to walk away from all of the clutter and wants of life. I have to accept where I am at. I do feel somewhat ashamed.

I thought of one way I could help. I could cancel my monthly membership to the Daily Method. I have been loving it. It keeps me strong and healthy, but it is also an expense. Is it a necessity? Can I not now take what I learned and try to do a home practice? If I were truly serious about saving and being efficient with money, I would. It remains to be seen, but I think I will have to do this. I can do this.(I know, some of you might say, but Sharolyn, you deserve something for you. And you are right. But if I really look at it, I have so much: I wanted a laptop, I got one, I wanted a ukulele, I got one (gifted), I wanted a website, I got one, I need shades, I got them (gifted). See where this is going? I have. So, if I can just use discipline, I too can have a home practice that takes care of my need for exercise, without spending $125 a month, and in doing so, will be taking care of my hubs as well, who has always seen this as too big an expense).

Of course, that might save monthly, but because of the current political climate I also feel compelled to now support agencies, groups etc. that will help us resist what is happening in this country. If I do not, I will be merely a talking head doing nothing. I can’t be that. I won’t be that. Where to begin though? Free press, the ACLU, National Parks…all the amazing people now working on overdrive.

So, the other thing is that I need to rally. I want to have an income again. The conundrum, of course, is what can one do while being a full time mother? If I were to return to the work force in a 9 to 5 the pressure would be on to find something that would pay enough to actually take something home once childcare costs have been covered. I don’t want to work just to work; I love raising my kids. I don’t think I have qualifications to be gainfully employed in that way.

Then what? My plan is to use my photography skills. I got my site up and running: SharolynTownsendPhotography . Yes, it cost. Of course it did. I can only hope that (this time) it is an investment towards future success in earnings. I am terrified. I fear failure. But I also admire those who DO. And so I want to become one of those DOers, and here is my chance.

S

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