How did you learn about money? Did you learn in college when a credit card company sold you on all the benefits, and then you maxed it out not really knowing the repercussions? Did your parents teach you? Did you learn in school?
We can only truly take ownership of our money when it truly belongs to us. I remember when I was nine years old I had a paper route. I would usually keep some of my earnings and would give some to my parents to put into my savings account. My tips usually were my “candy fund” where I would ride my bike on a path that had been worn by the neighborhood kids to the Village Pantry. There I would select something or many things depending on how much money was in my pocket. There was rarely candy in our house, and occasionally we had some at my grandma’s house. So for me, candy was a treat. It was something special.
I truly believed the money I made on my paper route was my money. I worked hard for it. It was my choice to buy the candy. It was not my choice to never receive my money that I was told was put into savings. I have no idea now how much money I never saw. I trusted my parents to put it in my account, never knowing that was not happening. Which is why I loved reading the book: “The First National Bank of Dad: The Best Way to Teach Kids About Money” by David Owen. He talks about how he teaches his children about money. He sets up his own bank and a version of the stock market from his house. One idea he shared was about how kids have to know that the money belongs to them. If they know that, they will make different choices about money.
“My children’s accounts belonged to them alone. When they saved, they reaped the benefit; when they wanted to spend, they didn’t need permission. If my son decided to withdraw twenty dollars, I didn’t ask him why he needed the money—just as my bank doesn’t ask me. What he did with the cash was his business, as long as his balance was sufficient to cover his withdrawal. Why do kids need to control money of their own? Because if the money they spend money of their own? Because if the money they spend isn’t truly theirs, they have no compelling reason to pay attention to how they spend it.” Page 41
An interesting idea. I do remember having a savings account ledger and looking at it from time to time. I was more of a saver. I liked watching it grow and knowing I was working hard as the money accumulated. With the exception of my Village Pantry runs, I really did not spend that much of my money. Although I will never know how much never made it to The First National Bank of Tami. Alas. Live and learn. I will be teaching my kid(s) to take ownership of their money, and to know how to track what they take out and what they are earning. And, no, I will not steal a penny from them. If you have kids, I definitely recommend reading Owen’s book.
I started with the title: “Why I hate resolutions” but I decided to change it. Why? Well, whenever I hear the word “hate” I think about my dad who always told me that hate is a strong word, and that I should not use it. The funny thing is I am sure that he used it whenever he wanted, however, somehow whenever I use the word, he comes to mind and I wrestle and wonder if there really is a better word to describe what I am thinking.
So…this year I am not going to do resolutions. I am going to have goals. Instead of sharing my specific goals (I may do that soon) I want to share my thoughts around sticking to your goals:
Do not have others talk you out of your goals. I have had that happen. On different years I have made goals to read a certain number of books in the year, or write everyday, or run a certain number of miles. There are some people in your life that think you have carved off too much. They might think that you work too hard or too much and that you should chill out. For those that understand your goals and what you are really trying to accomplish, they will not try to talk you away from your goals. They will support you, challenge you, and psych you up on the toughest of days. Watch who talks you away from your goals.
Stay resilient. Do not give up. It is easy to tell yourself how tired you are, or how hard you worked that day. I think of my goals pertaining to running. While I have never run a marathon, I have done a half marathon, and I think about the days after. Do you never run again or do you give yourself a break and then once you have had the rest needed to recuperate, you go back out and run? Are you back at it, or once you hit your goal do you give up?
Have a support system. Maybe it is one person, or a group of people. For me it is my husband. He often knows when I have hit my limit, but I am usually not willing to call it quits for that day. I have a hard time giving in if I have not done my goal for that day. He barters with me and will say you can catch up tomorrow, and remind me that today I just need to take care of myself (most especially on the roughest of days).
Stay motivated. My goals sometimes fall over a calendar year and sometimes they fall over many years. I recently found a calendar that showed that after some intense health issues, I had started walking a mile a day (that was in 2006). Now I am running 6-8 miles a day. It did not happen overnight, and it required small, mini goals to just stick to my mile a day. Over time, I craved my run however long or short it was, my goals changed, and my life changed as a result.
Decide what is most important. I could have a long list of what I want to focus on. Or, I can prioritize what matters most to me right now. My motivation lately is to try to find balance in my life. That is not something that happens overnight. It is not something that just happens in a calendar year. It happens moment by moment in the choices I make. It is a priority for me.
Three things that are constants in my life on an almost daily basis are: exercise, vegetables, and writing. An odd amalgamation of things, but all critical for a bit of balance and inspiration in my life. You might wonder how these three have anything remotely in common. Their only commonality is that they ground me. On the days when I have the opportunity to run, eat a good amount of vegetables, and take the time to write, life just feels better. It may not mean that I have had an amazing day. Lots of shit could have happened, but these three stable aspects of my life help me to get through the shitty days and make the good days even better. Call me crazy, but it is true.
The ironic thing is that all three require discipline and none of them happened for me overnight. Consistent exercise was a gradual habit that happened over many years. My craving to run each day is the euphoria of pushing myself to the limits, having an hour that is just for myself, and the feeling at the end of a run when I am dripping in sweat and knowing I got through it. There is nothing else in my life that gives me that feeling and my day does not feel complete without my run.
How I feel when I run matters and, often, I can tell that if I feel horrible while running it has to do with some crap I ate earlier in the day. I am usually an evening/after work runner, so what I had for lunch and any snacks or junk food I ingest during the day matters. Which is why I have become a fanatic of eating vegetables. I have them in my green smoothie in the morning (usually spinach, kale, carrots), a salad for lunch, then for dinner, a vegetable, protein, and brown rice. Some sort of yummy concoction, but there is always a vegetable go with it. How far I have come from trying to get away with no vegetables as a kid and little to none in high school and college. Why have I become such an addict? I can now tell the difference in my body when I do not have these natural nutrients. More sugar + less vegetables and my body shuts down earlier in the day. More sugar = more exhausted. Since I know this about myself I do all I can to eat my veggies.
Writing. The final aspect to balance in my life. I write five blog posts each week and used to write in a journal too. My journal writing has waned in the past few months. It felt like work and I was not inspired to do it so I stopped. I know I will pick it up again, as that has been the ebb and flow of my life. There have been times when I needed to write, and write, and write to figure out my thoughts and unravel my world. Writing random olio keeps my mind open and aware. When you know that you are going to write a blog five days in a row you look at the world differently. It makes me more creative, have more wonder, and investigate the world.
What is not to love about my three life disciplines? A random olio of balance that is the core of who I am today.
We all have things in our life that are the constant battle for us. For me, it is finding balance. I have my ups and downs. There are days and weeks when I nail it and others when I struggle horribly. I try to do too much, help too many people, my to-do list is too long. I want a clean house at the end of a weekend, clean laundry, my personal life caught up and in order before I start into my week of craziness and full days. I want to connect with people, listen, and do what I can to help. Sometimes though it means my life is a little out of whack. Learning to even out the teeter totter of my life is all part of how I continue to hone me.
At times I find an idea that helps me remember that I am not the only one that struggles with the adventure of learning more about myself. A recent example comes from Shauna Niequist’s blog post: “Glimpse:”
“But I am inching, and I’m learning so much, and the awkwardness is worth it and the fumbling is worth it and the growing pains are worth it, because every once in a while I feel something inside myself that I haven’t felt for a long time, and it feels like peace. And every once in a while I experience a moment of connection with Aaron or the boys that feels so much deeper than my old way of living used to allow.”
As well as from Oprah’s: “The Life You Want” tour, Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about wanting to remove the word: “balance” from vocabulary. She says:
“‘With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it’s become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they’re not doing right.’ She later says: ‘let go of the word. For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am,’ she says. ‘And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that’.”
So let’s all embrace our beautiful mess of a life. Enjoy it, soak it up. Let the dishes go, sit on your butt a bit more, have someone rub your feet, and just be you. Let go of what you did not get done today, or how much you might berate yourself for doing too much. It is what it is. Be you. Beautiful mess and all…
I was always a hugger. I can remember at church on Sunday’s when I would see all the older women. I knew they had life savers in their purses, and I would charm them, give them a hug, and hope they would share their Lifesavers with me. See I never had much candy growing up, so Lifesavers were a bright light (especially after a church service).
In any case, I was never forced to give a hug to the older ladies at church. It was my choice. I have no idea what it would have been like for me if I was forced to hug them. This Daily Om titled: “Repressing the Inner Voice” talks about giving away our power. When we are forced to hug family members against our will. It will make me that much more aware when I have kids of my own, and make sure I do not put them in situations where they might not want to share a hug with another individual.
I know as I have gotten older, I am definitely aware of when I want to share myself with another. I am probably entirely more open with love and hugs than I was when I was younger, but it is still my choice. Kids are often in positions where they do not have a choice, and parents need to make sure they are listening when their kids voice their opinion that they are not comfortable. This is such a great end to this Daily Om:
“All we have to do is have the confidence to listen to our own voice and let it guide us as we make our own decisions in life and remember the necessity for balance.”
Balance? Yes. That seems to be an ever occurring reminder in my life. Balance. Balance. Balance. Be sure that you are not giving away your power and that you are not putting others in a position of giving away their power.