Week 46: Scaredy Pussy

Week 46: Scaredy Pussy

I am not a revolutionary. I’m have not even been an activist or even political for the most part. But now I am…or I’m getting to be.

I honestly don’t know how you can afford not to be in this climate, this crazy, critical, chaotic time.

I recently came to the realization that the most radical thing I could do right now, is get my citizenship…even though, at this point in time, it seems like the thing I want the least. But, think, with that simple shift in status, my view is more valid, I have a voting voice, I can sign all the petitions I want and call all my representatives and be able to state that I am a citizen and I demand…such and such.

And then I got scared. Do I want to open myself up to the scrutiny I once again will face by Homeland Security…only this time under a new dict…I mean…whiner….I mean leader?

Even writing this kinda scares me (‘then why do you do it?’ you ask. Because I am compelled to. I do not wish to be complicit in my silence).

So, I got as far as printing out the paperwork…but there it sits. I haven’t even written down my name…not even gone to look for a black ink pen as required.

Cost of citizenship, about $725.

Crazy but we even have to consider if that is feasible budget-wise. At least, enough to give pause and consider in what month we might be able to swing that. Makes me think of all the lower in come families than ourselves, who might not be able to afford citizenship at any time.

Anyway, I don’t really know what I want to say in this blog. Just, I guess, that more has been on my mind than trying not to buy things. I’m actually quite pleased that my go-to-stress relief is not to shop at all, it’s not even on my radar. So, I suppose that is progress.

I leave you with a pic of me, my one woman parade. A friend of mine had invited me to a small Women’s March, and I gamely showed up with my girls and mum-in-law, all in purple with as-close-to-a-pussy hat I could find,(the purple was in solidarity with Indivisible Sonoma that helped organize a mass attendance at¬†a town hall meeting that I had gone to that morning)…to discover I had been given the wrong date. So, in a way I was super radical…I walked the entire down town with my signs held up, drawing looks from all the locals and tourists alike, even getting a “Good for you mama!” as a one woman protester. Far more exhibitionist than I’d normally go for. A big thank you to my mum-in-law for gamely coming along as she is most definitely NOT an exhibitionist. I apologize for drawing so much attention.

So here it is

Love over Fear…and I Don’t Have a Big Enough Sign.wp-1488242927317.jpg

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Week 45: Quitting Time?

Week 45: Quitting Time?

It’s week 45 out of…I can’t do the math right now…okay, I Googled it :52 weeks…

and I just want to quit.

By now, I know this is probably as good as it is going to get. I am not going to be tightening my belt much more. I will still spend on things, mostly just the necessities, sometimes small splurges for my joy and/or mental health. I realize that I like to spend on treats such as date nights, or taking a friend to lunch, getting the occasional fancy coffee, entrance fees to museums and activities for the girls. I realize that these are not necessities but I am not content living the austere, spending free life. I don’t believe in saving for future joy. Joy now please ( not to say that only things that cost money provide joy, but it certainly can facilitate it at times). I do believe in saving for some security now and in the future (because a safety net/security contributes to my happiness) and to also enjoy some of it right now. Scrimping and saving is not my MO.

I am very proud of the progress I’ve made in the area of compulsive or emotional spending. I now am able to project myself into the future (when the let-down and remorse happens ) before I spend so that I can re-enter the current moment faced with the temptation and pass on it. That is HUGE.

I feel like I’ve reached a certain equilibrium. I don’t know that many new insights will be forth coming. And most of all, it is SO HARD to get the time to write. I sound whiney, but it’s true. By the time I have the kids in bed…I am no longer inspired to write. And trying to compose a thoughtful blog entry whilst my toddler talks incessantly beside me is…well…insanely frustrating. But I’ve made it this far, so…

I am also feeling a disenchantment with social media at the moment. There is so much out there. I feel like I am just adding to the chatter. And if what I put out there isn’t excellent…or even original, maybe it is best left to the medium of a journal. What is the necessity of making this public except perhaps as an ego boost? I think I talked about this in depth a few blogs back.

Mostly, what’s gotten me into this state is this crazy political climate…I feel like I am exposing myself. Part of me wants to scream, YES! This is my right and I shouldn’t be afraid to express my opinions. “What are you worried about?”, you ask, “this blog is about not shopping”. Yes, true, this is mostly innocuous stuff. But at times I have veered off this blogs main point to rant on politics. It felt good. It still does. I have a hard time staying quiet. But it also puts my views out into the net, accessible to all, even those who might…say at the border… judge me and as jury of my fate, decide that I am not welcome. This is a real fear. As a non-citizen but resident, I’ve recently begun to fear leaving to visit my Canadian family, in case I am refused re-entry. I know, some of you think there should be no reason why any of this chaos should affect me, a Canadian, not a minority etc., etc. But folks, all my worst, most out-there, outlandish fears have become reality in the last few months, thoughts I had that others comforted me by saying could not happen…have happened. So, no, I’m not ruling out being barred from my own husband and girls should I choose to leave for a visit to Canada.

I am fluctuating so much between wanting to continue to be public and wanting to shut off all connection and hide in a hut in the woods.

The other day, feeling overwhelmingly angry, I wrote a rant…and didn’t publish it. No, I wrote it in a Google Doc, since I didn’t have any writing program. Then…as I finished I started thinking and feeling fearful because, of course, Google Docs is cloud based. All of it is out there folks, accessible with a log in. I am so close to picking up a pen once again, and working through the necessary joint pains and calluses, to return to the analogue form of writing.

All that to say, I want to quit…not this challenge…but blogging and social media. I’m not quite there yet, but I feel it building. This is, of course, a very inconvenient impulse as I am right now trying to start a photography business that will rely heavily on getting my name out there via precisely these outlets.

So, if it does come to a point where I want to quit it all, I will have had to have found a lot of courage and will power to do so…because it is an addiction and a creative outlet, my connection to family and friends, to news, to it all.

I’ll let you know if and when it comes to quitting time.

Until then, thank you for reading this blog.

S

Week 43 & 44: Steady

Week 43 & 44: Steady

Where was I last week (…this week even, as it is already half way)?

Okay, to be perfectly honest: cowering in shame, not sure what to write.

But now it’s the next check in and I just have to write what happened. The point of this challenge is to do it publicly for all to see, for accountability. To lie now would be to run ripshod over the point.

So…after all the talk about needing to pair back, quit my studio because of the expense and donate to worthy causes…I’ve done exactly none of those things. Oh, and it gets worse:

We bought a “new to us” used van. Yeah. Right when I thought we were just too tight…my hubs actually informed me that the reason he needed me transferring money from savings was not (as I had believed) because we were falling short this month trying to cover the mortgage, but because he saw a mini van for sale on his way to work. This was our chance to ditch the Volvo before it gets too old and starts costing waaaay too much in repairs, and pick up a more easily (read cheaply) fixable Toyota Sienna. For me, it has always been about needing more space. And when I learned that it would use no more gas than the Volvo does already, I was sold. In a whirlwind we were taking it for a test drive and then doing the deed. It was a good deal for us. When all is said and done, when we sell the Volvo, we will be out a couple thousand. But gaw…right after I reported how tight things were.

See, this is what I mean when I talk about how even as lower middle class income holders, we are seriously so privileged.

As for pairing down household expenses by cancelling my membership to my barre studio…I did some soul searching. Know thy self, right? Well, I do. In a few days I will be 36 (okay…I’m not 36 since my birthday came and went and this post hasn’t been posted)…and I kinda do know myself now. I know that I can be very motivated when I want to be…I’ve proved that to myself before. However, I know that I will not be getting up in the wee hours of the morning to self practice. I also know that I will not be able to do a self practice with the kids running in and around and over me. I need to get away and do it in a place where my kids are not, and where someone is telling my lazy, tired butt to move it. I long and yearn to return to my Bikram practice and awesome studio…but that is 20 minutes across town, not 5, and it is 90 minutes, not 60 minutes, AND gets you so sweaty you have to set aside time to shower…and no child care…also hours are not as good. So, even though it is actually more affordable ($25 less a month) it is not realistic for me right now.

So…being that it is my birthday in a few days ( it’s now passed), I thought the hubs might see it in his heart to let me have another month (he actually told me that he thinks its important to me, so I should keep going). In the mean time…I just fired off an email to the owner asking if I could do tradesies for doing some studio childcare…or some photography for her. It felt super awkward asking. I have never done anything like that before. We will see what comes of it; I am determined to not feel ashamed or embarrassed for seeing what my options are. And, it felt good to at least be exploring ways in which I might be able to pair down the financial drag of my “self care”.

(Update!: I got a job doing childcare at my studio on Fridays for a small wage and discounted membership! I am SO excited! Proving it pays to ask.)

I have not donated to any cause. Unless you count the $20 I slipped to the young kids asking for donations to the food bank outside Safeway. The previous owner of our “new” van gave me $20 back because she noticed the tail light was out. I felt like that $20 might not have been mine if not for her honesty, so I just wanted to pay it forward. I thought of my sister as I put it in the young girls hand and saw her smile of surprise. My sister is always so generous in her giving. She’s the one who always notices the homeless guy and hands him a bill or two, slips bills into collection jars, opens her purse when someone asks for help. I admire her generosity and need to emulate her more.

I have several organizations in mind to donate to, but want to run it by the hubs.

A friend of mine also suggested that, if at this time in my life I do not have the monetary thing going on, I could also offer up my time. I hadn’t thought of that as being of value..but of course it is. I should most definitely already know that. So I might look into that as well.

The thing is that the cogs and wheels turn slowly. If I were sans kids, the research part of all this would be much speedier and I might take action faster. I also would have far more time to offer up. I need to be more gentle with myself in this regard. Beating myself up over what seems to be inaction is not helping me in any way. I do, however, want to remain motivated to help, to be active.

I was invited to a Huddle ( a Women’s March initiative). A mommy huddle where we can talk about what actions we can take to be part of this democracy, while also chasing our children. Should be fun, and it is something I can do to stay active and motivated.

Some Observations on my Change of State Due to Shopping Detox:

I still get a sense of excitement when I know there is something we need that I must shop for, but it quicky fades. Somehow I have accelerated that high to low arc so that before I even purchase the item, I am already having the deterrent feeling of disgust. This is a very positive thing as I am not actually spending on anything needlessly. The other day I walked into Target needing some pull-ups for my potty training kiddo (I’d washed the bed sheets three times in 24 hours), and I was feeling excited because I was on my own and I wanted to look at several things. Well I did, I checked out their $1 deal section and found nothing I actually wanted in my house…eyed the car seats to get an idea of what the upgrade for our youngest might cost (she’s getting so big! I will miss that bucket car seat!)…looked at the kids clothing sale rack and considered a few items then realized that we were doing just fine getting by with what we have…looked at a few T-shirts for myself…but all of it lost its luster after looked at the actual products. The idea of having new items was exciting, the actuality of their existence…not so much. As I stood in-line with the one item I was purchasing (the pull ups) I looked around at all the junk everyone else was buying…and I kind of felt ill. I could see that this was the norm, this is our culture. Not to be judgy (…but I guess I’m going to go ahead and do just that), but I could tell that the folks in front of me were not of the “wealthy” set, in fact they acted a lot like what I have experienced as lower-income…probably a stereotype…but they were loud and crass and rude, their kids disrespectful…yet they all were wearing brand new items, baseball hats with the silver sticker on its bill, shoes without dirt on them, the girl was whining about having a terrible day and her parents refusal to buy her soda was the icing on the cake…she was wearing spotlessly new everything, an entire matching outfit from head to toe. They spent $200 on credit. I couldn’t help but think that not only did they all not look one bit happy (perhaps just a bad day and ordinarily they brim with joy and fulfillment) nor did it look like the items in their bags were going to bring them much joy (“Whats this?!” the angry young girl demanded of her mom pulling out shiny water bottle, glare from the mom.) more likely heartache when the bill came due.

I dunno. That could have been a figment of my overactive imagination. But as I stood in that line I just felt like most of us there were just void filling. I was happy to leave there with only my most necessary item: pull ups for my amazing potty training toddler.