I know Mother’s Day was over 2 weeks ago, so I guess you could say I am a bit late with a Mother’s Day post. It is funny, when I was pregnant with Nico during Mother’s Day 2015 people sent me notes to say Happy Mother’s Day. It felt a bit odd to me, as we had not yet met this little baby boy. This year also felt a bit strange — as he is still so young.
My mom passed away when I was 16, and even then she was not really present in my life going back to the age of 12. Those four years in between were filled with doctors appointments, hospitals, nurses, at-home health equipment, food stamps, depression, and so much more. I do not remember much about middle school and the beginning of high school, but I remember the bed pans, the pain, the fear of not being there for her. What kid should go through that? I also do not remember much about how we spent our Mother’s Day each year.
So why do I sound like the scrooge of Mother’s Day? I strongly believe that we do not need these hallmark holidays. Those that know Chris and I will know that my response to someone who says, “Chris, pamper Tami on Mother’s Day.” I would say to that, “pamper me everyday.” Why not, right? We should love, cherish, and take care of each other each and every day. Why find one day out of the year to share appreciation? Why not do it every day? I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day and a plethora of other hallmark holidays.
So since I have spent more Mother’s Day without my mom than I spent with her it maybe takes a bit of the pizazz out of the day for me. Since Nico is so small, why celebrate? When he is old enough to care I would rather he decide how he would like to approach the day. Some kids get really into it. At the end of the day, though, I would rather teach and model to him that we cherish each other every day. Why not, right? Life is short.
Sometimes you see something in life that just inspires and makes you think “I want to be able to do that.” I grew up in a small Midwest town, and well let’s just say nothing much happened in my small town. Sure there was crime and the usual everyday life, but for the most part it was just boring. I went off to a boarding high school, then to college, then to Boston. Somewhere along the way I grew interested in graffiti. I definitely did not find that interest from my small town. If there was tagging of any kind, it was with a non-artistic kid that went rogue with a spray can either because they were bored or because maybe someone had pissed them off and they decided to get back with a paint can.
I find it interesting that graffiti originates back to Ancient times, and today it can have a positive or negative connotation. In some neighborhoods, graffiti is welcomed as it means kids are off the streets and putting their energies into an art form. In other areas, it is looked at as controversial because of what the art might depict to other community members. Either way, I always gravitate towards graffiti that is done well, even if sometimes I find I do not understand what I am looking at – isn’t that the case with many types of art? You see what you see, or you see what you want to see.
Take a moment to watch this five-minute video of a graffiti installation (or part of it). The amount of time that must have taken, and the creativity and talent of these Australian graffiti artists.
Money is on the brain this week. It is official — the early bird does get the worm. I recently came across a Dave Ramsey money article that especially peaked my interest. It basically is the simple truth about money that almost all of us probably know. Yet, the visual he shared just hits you smack in the face.
I do not want to steal the visual from his website, so I will explain and link back to his site for the full picture. Meet Ben and Arthur. Ben starts investing at age 19 and puts $2000 in an account each year for 8 years straight and then does absolutely nothing with the account until he retires at the age of 65. A total investment from the ages of 19-26 of $16,000. A lot of money to put away in those early years of his life. Arthur begins investing $2000 when he is 27 years old and continues to put $2000 away from 27 to when he retires at age 65. Arthur invests a total of $78,000 over 39 years. A difference in $62,000 in the amount that was actually put away between Ben and Arthur.
The result: at age 65 Ben has $2,288,996 and Arthur has $1,532,166. Ben came out $700,000 ahead by starting 8 years earlier and only put away $16,000. Compounding interest is an amazing thing. How do we spread the word? I do not know many 19 year olds that a) care about investing, b) truly understand compounding interest, c) have $2000 a year they can or want to spare.
Why not have a prerequisite that you have to complete a personal finance class to make it out of freshman year of college (no matter what your major). Or maybe it is a class that every high school graduate must take (since many might never go to college). The class could teach many types of life skills, and maybe those that truly understand it might actually decide not to purchase that video game they are dying to have and rather put a bit more into their retirement.
To think that all it took was $16,000 for 8 years, rather than $78,000 for 39 years. If I only knew when I was 19 what I know now, I might have made very different choices, especially thinking of that $700,000 difference at age 65. How do we make compounding interest sexy?
Where do we learn the behaviors that make up who we are? For some reason I was retrospective today. Thinking about my childhood, my teens, college, and my early professional career. At each stage I was a different person and I am still growing into who that is today.
As a kid I was definitely strategic (even if I did not know it at the time). I would find a way to con candy out of the old ladies at church (maybe I would not have resorted to it if it was given a little more freely at home). I learned early on that my sister would get sick on rides at the county fair, so if I asked to go on the spinning ones first I could potentially get the rest of her ride tickets. I was often quiet in the presence of my father when I knew he was in a bad mood, I did not dare piss him off. And I was fun and playful. I liked to be silly.
Somehow as I grew into being a teenager, I grew quieter and more introverted. I had seen too much in my life. Death, anger, poverty, sickness, desertion. As I look back at my senior year of high school, I feel a sadness. I barely made it through to graduation. I was lost and sad, but did not really know it at the time. On the outside I probably looked fairly normal. I was social, had friends, was a cheerleader, but my sadness came from not really having a home or parents to ground my day-to-day life. My last three years of high school were spent at a boarding school, so living away from home (that did not exist) sans parents was strange and so different from my classmates and friends. There was no one I could really relate to.
In college, I eventually found my way and I found my voice. That voice evolved into my professional life and experiences. I began to speak up for what I believed in without fear and decided that I had something to say and did not care what others thought of me.
Throughout it all I have been strategic, relentless, and thrifty. When I decide I want something I figure out how I am going to get it. I had to be that way. No one was taking care of me through high school or college so I learned early on to depend on no one but myself. While I now have people I depend on in my life, there is still always a thread that floats in the back of my mind. Will they drop the ball and I will have to pick it up? Will they follow through with what they said they will do? Each stage of my life has evolved into who I am today. Strategic, sometimes introverted, sometimes extroverted, intuitive, blunt, thrifty, and relentless. I have to trust you, and when I do the rest is history.
Fitting in or not. It is a fact of life. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. What matters most is what we do when that happens. Do we try to change ourselves to fit in, or do we stay true to ourselves and not let who we are go even if it means not fitting in?
You would think that it only happens in school. Right? No, it is part of the world we live in, whether we are in school, at work, with friends, and sometimes even in our families. I definitely struggled at different points in school with fitting in. First, there is the question, do I even like the “cool” kids? Do I want to hang out with them, or are they annoying, mean, you fill in the blank. If there is a desire to hang with those so-called unattainable kids, then maybe you want to solve the magic 8 ball to find out how you can hang with them. You might find though that it is not always what it is cracked up to be.
It happens from toddlers to an old folks home, fitting in is just a fact of life. We all create tribes and cliques. We all have preferences and choices of who joins us. Yet, through it all, the most genuine way to fit in is to be yourself. I can remember countless times in my life when I never really felt I fit in. When I was younger and my mom was sick, my life was different, and it made it hard to relate to my peers. In high school when my mom died, I was back at boarding school within a week, and it made it hard to process and who I wanted in my life at that time.
Eventually something happens in your life and you learn that you just have to stick to who you are, regardless of whether others do not like you for who that is. It was in college when I finally said: “I don’t give a shit what others think. I am going to be me, and if others like that person, great, and if they don’t that is fine too.” We just have to stay true to ourselves, and let the rest happen. Otherwise if we divert from ourselves, it will take us that much longer to find our way home.