Friday, September 28, 2012

Learning to be Gracefully Poor

T and I are in that stage of life that I always hear older, well-off people talk about. They lean back in their chairs, stare dreamily into space as if into the Past and reminisce about the days of eating dinner out of a can, putting babies to bed in dresser drawers and making ends meet in creative ways.

Yeah. We're there. It's lucky we don't have a kid because that kid would likely be sleeping in a laundry basket.

Seriously though. I have seen this stage in our lives on the horizon for some time now--since we got married, in fact. I halfway expected it to hit RIGHT when we got married but, surprisingly, it didn't. And while we did not go out and spend thriftlessly, there was a thriftless element to our lives--a certain license we gave ourselves for impulse buying and occasional sprees--that we absolutely cannot afford now. We probably couldn't afford it then. Now, we know better.

My first impulse, as we settle into a long stretch of relative poverty, is to rage. Rage! And to fret. I did not grow up in a "rich" household. I didn't always get what I wanted, when I wanted it. But when I became a young adult and got my first real job and opened my own bank account, suddenly... I had this new-found freedom to spend. There were people around me (notably, parents) to pick up the slack, if needed. I got used to that.

Now, I'm having to un-learn that, because that is generally not how real adulthood works. I am grateful that my parents helped me transition into this stage of my life, but now that I'm here, it's hard.

T and I have had to learn discipline: to not go the easy route on everything; not alleviate boredom by spending; not eat out because it's convenient; not drop money on something that will give us instant gratification... but maybe, learning to wait a little bit in order to get that something for less. (Or even for free!) We haven't always been comfortably cool in our home this summer; we haven't been able to see and go to many of the places we want to see or go to in this endlessly interesting and expensive town.

But it's okay.

As we are now settling into a routine of careful, careful spending, I find that I'm beginning to wear this stage of our lives as a badge of honor. I'm proud of nights spent in, playing cards. Of meals prepared in our own kitchen. Of books checked out from the library instead of bought.

I find that I'm starting to not miss spending. It feels good to stretch out what little we have in our bank account and to make it last.  I dream of traveling and wearing the clothes I want, and all that, yes. But thank heaven I am learning not to take any of that for granted. Hopefully, this is something we can pass on to our children, who will likely grow up in a home where they will want for nothing. Just as we both did.

In the meantime, the key is learning how to be poor, but gracefully. Cutting back where we can while maintaining Generosity. Saying in our hearts, "I would give, if I could. And I will give what I can." Also, to be grateful is key. We don't have a lot of discretionary spending money right now, but we are not poor in the direst sense. We live in a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood. We have nice furniture. We don't go hungry. We have what we need. Indeed, we are so far from poor, it's almost laughable to say that we are. Much of what we have is due in large part to the generosity of others.

So here's to generosity. Here's to being rich in the ways that matter. Here's to paying it forward and backward and every direction we can.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Workout Diaries: Day 210 (more or less)

Travis and I took a little hiatus from working out when we first moved to Nevada. Moving in and getting settled required all of our attention. So by the time we were settled and had found a gym to go to, it had been a little while and we both needed to work our way back up to snuff.

As many of you may recall, my primary goal for working out (ironically) is to GAIN weight by gaining muscle and increasing appetite. Let me report on that. Net weight gain=0. Net weight loss=0 (so that, at least, is good.) Net appetite increase=0. I went to the doctor this week and when I mentioned I'm having a difficult time getting up to a healthy weight, they decided to test me for hyperthyroidism. Again. I was tested last year and it was negative. Now, don't get me wrong. It's good to have a healthy thyroid. I don't take that for granted. I know too many people who don't. But... sometimes, I just wish there was some medical diagnosis once and for all for what I'm going through. It doesn't seem right that I don't change anything about my lifestyle, and suddenly (well, not suddenly, but steadily) I drop over ten pounds. Ten pounds, I might add, that I do NOT have to spare. And when I DO change my lifestyle it only slows the weight loss instead of reversing it. ??? I can't just "eat more." It doesn't work that way. I physically cannot.

Occasionally, I think about all of these things and it depresses me for a day or two. I feel helpless and scared and out of control of my body. It isn't a chronic depression, by any means. I don't curl up in a ball and cry. But it is awfully hard to get out of bed, and I feel like I'm moving through jelly all day long. (Of course, part of that moving-through-jelly feeling may be a result of soreness from the previous day's workout.)

But then, when I look at myself in the mirror, I don't see the reflection of someone who is starving to death. My cheekbones aren't poking through my face (although, I found some pictures of me from eight  years ago, and my! what chubby cheeks I had!); my collarbone doesn't look like it's going to tear out through my skin; my thighs touch when I'm seated. I actually have pretty impressive musculature now in my back and arms. I look...actually...really good! And I mostly feel good, if I'm eating healthily--and i DONT step on the damn scale!

So maybe that's what I need to do: NOT step on the scale, NOT measure my overall health by an instrument that only tells me one thing about myself.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

And This is Why I Will Never Publish

< writing process >

I'm gonna write. Where's my computer? 

[ten minutes, and a snack, later]

Ok. Gonna write. 

First, I gotta check my email. [Strongbad voice] "Email! Email!" I could have some important message, like maybe someone, somewhere, did... something really cool... Nope. Not even an automated message from the library.

That was disappointing.

Facebook! I haven't been on Facebook for like...five whole hours! My newsfeed's gonna be like...THREE FEET LONG! I may even have a NOTIFICATION! Maybe someone responded to that thing I posted... [ten twenty minutes later.] Wow... surprisingly little happened in five hours. What a shock. {sarcasm}

Well, okay. Back to my draft. I really don't have any other "pressing" web-related business.

Oh, wait! BLOGS! Yippee! I have at least twenty blogs I read, and I haven't checked them all day! Ooo, I love spying on other people's lives... [twenty minutes later] Ok...90% of these people haven't posted anything in over 3 months. One person posted one thing that was kind of long and I spent the entire time clicking the various links because I'm desperate to find ANYTHING INTERESTING ON THE INTERNET.

Close tabs. Open gmail. Again. Open Drive. Open draft. Stare blankly. Level of creativity status: Underwhelming, having been all sucked away by the mind-numbing distraction of voyeurism.

Wait! I can blog about this! That's writing, isn't it? It's being creative AND wasting time at the SAME TIME.  *mind blown*

Also, I forgot to check Twitter and Reddit...

< /writing process>