Monday, February 8, 2016

Get Ready to Jump

You've got to jump!

Last week, during that whole vaguebooking fiasco, my friend Ricardo private messaged me to make sure that everything was okay.  Once I'd explained the vague post and he was satisfied, he'd asked me how everything else was.  I told him that I was mentally exhausted and a little miserable, too, which prompted him to share a link with me.

That should help, my friend added.

The link was to a video from an unlikely source that I never would have otherwise come upon and you can check it out here.  It's a clip of a monologue by Family Feud host Steve Harvey, and it was filmed after a taping of the show while he was speaking with the audience.  I never knew Mr. Harvey was such a motivational speaker, and watching this one short clip has made me a fan.

Eventually you're going to have to jump

What Steve Harvey says in this clip is so simple, yet so profound.  It's a theory that I've always subscribed to, yet seemed to have forgotten these past few years.  It's something that he calls 'jumping,' and it makes perfect sense.

You cannot just exist in this life
You've got to try to live
If you wake up every morning thinking 
there's got to be more to life than it is
Man, believe that it is!

I thought I knew this secret, and I actually acted upon it once, back when I was 35 years of age. I'd been stuck in a job I hated getting up in the morning to go to, and so I found myself so miserable and wanting change that I jumped.  I jumped!  Today I find myself in a similar situation, and my past me makes my present me feel ashamed because I feel like I've stopped living.  I stopped taking chances. I stopped jumping.

The only way to see what living's like is you gotta jump!

Jump Into What?

In Harvey's discussion, he's talks about 'jumping,' or rather taking risks in life.  Without risk there is no reward.  He says that we're all endowed with our own special gifts, and I agree.  These gifts need to be employed in order reach fulfillment in our lives.  You use your gift and everything else falls into place.  It makes sense and I wholeheartedly believe that.  Being successful at something you were born to do and that you enjoy is a very worthy goal in life, but what I've found is that the jump I took affected my life for the better, yet eventually forgetting how to jump has lead me to this. Besides, what about all of the other things in life we should jump towards?

I almost always refer to the words of Madonna in my daily life, from her song Sky Fits Heaven.  In it, she talks about how we all travel down our own roads, watching the signs, and making decisions. Of course, the decisions we make will affect our path, for better or for worse.  I've always had a hard time making decisions, and oftentimes I've made the wrong ones, and they've stayed with me for a very long time.

Jumping is not only about making a living.  There are so many life changing decisions that could be made.  So many jumps I could, or maybe should, take.  Do I...

...sell my house and buy a condominium?  Rent an apartment?
...look for a new job?  Work in the city?  Move to the city?
...try and find some other way to use my skills to be more successful?
...or just say screw it and live it up without any cares in the world?

Regardless, at my age I'm feeling that I've got one last chance to make a big jump for the better.  As you can see, there are so many things to think about.  All of these questions would affect huge changes in my life, and if I don't jump I will continue on not living.  Steve Harvey says that when you do jump, your parachute isn't going to open up right away.  Eventually, he says, that parachute has got to open.

Though I've jumped before I don't really think my parachute ever really opened fully.  I know I'm not really living, and I so want to.  One thing I do know, it's about time to make another jump or two.  If I don't, then what?  I can't just talk about it though.  I've got to do it.  Stay tuned...

I haven't got much time to waste
It's time to make my way
I'm not afraid of what I'll face
But I'm afraid to stay
I'm going down my road and I can make it alone
I'll work and I'll fight till I find a place of my own

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vaguebooking Explained

Traveling down, this road
Watching the signs as I go
I think I'll follow, my heart
It's a very good place to start...

Vaguebooking: the act of making a Facebook post that unwittingly confuses people. (The term is coined by my pal Tim M.)

I haven't always made the best decisions in my life, and I'll always be the first to admit it. Oftentimes, bad decisions can lead to crises in your personal life, your financial life, your work life, etc., and I've got a track record to prove I haven't always followed the right signs.  I was never fortunate enough to have been taught from a young age all of the dos and don'ts of making sound financial decisions. Neither of my parents were ever very good with money and so I sort of picked up right where they left off.

Unfortunately, in this 'great,' capitalistic culture of ours, we learn from an early age to covet things we don't need and are encouraged to pay for them with plastic.  It's a dangerous game in which unwitting pawns (many of us!) end up so deep in holes that climbing out of them often seems like an impossible task.  From when I got my first job at Sterns Department store at the age of 19, I was handed my first credit card and thus began years of bad financial decision making and the digging of a deep hole I've been fighting to get out of for pretty much my whole adult life.  

I'd like to think that I am in "the know" now.  In the eight years since I became single again, I've had no choice but to tighten my belt some and choose better signs as I went.  But of course the inevitable car and house repairs, Christmases and birthdays, and many other unexpected expenses always seem to come up and they either gobble up what little I've managed to save or force me to take out the plastic again, leaving me still clawing to get out of that hole I began digging up so long ago.  

Once in awhile, admittedly, I still lapse into bad decision-making.  Shopping therapy, dinners with friends, or taking little trips are the occasional pleasures I allow myself in to escape the other problems in life, but they always leave me feeling worse about myself and of course still stuck in the mire.  When you're in the situation I am in, you tend to think sometimes whether it's really worth it to scrimp and save and deprive yourself of everyday pleasures because you've got bills to pay, or just say "screw it" and enjoy.  After all, who cares if I die owing money?

I've started the new year...well really the last couple of months of last year, making real progress.  I'm tired of having money for one day, on pay day, and then being broke for the next thirteen days till I get paid again.  I want to be able to enjoy my life a little with the decent money I do make.   I want to be debt free, and I'm getting there, which brings me to the whole point of this post...

I made a Facebook post earlier in the day that went a little something like this:

Just had to make a really difficult decision, one that I probably wouldn't have made in the past, but I have to believe that it's the right one and it'll make me better off in the end.

I didn't think anything of it when I wrote it.  I'd taken a short break during the school day and wanted to let out a little pride in this particular sign I followed.  Little did I even realize I was vaguebooking!

Throughout the next four hours of work, my phone lit up like a Christmas tree, seemingly every five minutes.  People were commenting on my post, texting me, and sending me private messages on Facebook.  A lot of people thought I'd quit my job.  Others were just worried that something bad had happened to me.  I tried to fend off the worriers by making a second post, but to no avail:

Wow, looking at the responses to my earlier post, I can see that my vagueness caused people to think something super-serious was going on. No worries! It was just a personal decision on something that I wouldn't ordinarily make and though I'm a little disappointed, I'm also proud of myself for my ability to take control. worries.

The notices kept coming.  People shared inspirational videos with me, made offers to talk, all kinds of things.  Finally, I commented that I would make a blog post to explain it all and voila!  Here we are.

You see, I'd actually been waiting to post here that I was going on my school's Europe trip again this spring.  Last year's trip was awesome, and up until a few days ago, I would have been rejoining two of my favorite people on a brand new adventure.  My participation in this year's trip had been iffy all along, but at Christmas break I submitted my information to the tour company and I was all set...or so I thought.  

With tensions over the Paris terrorist attacks a short time ago, several parents expectedly pulled their kids out of the trip and so I received a call on Tuesday that I was no longer needed as a chaperone.  If I still wanted to go, I'd have to pay a nominal, yet decent portion of the price in order to remain with the group on the journey.  Here's where the vague post comes in...

If this had all happened just a few short months ago, I know I would've jumped on it. From the moment I was given the news, in my head I was going to pay the money and go.  Something nagged at me, though. When I told my friends the news that very same evening, I could tell from their reaction that they still thought I was going to go.  They know me well!  

That got me to thinking about what the consequences would be.  Though the amount is still a fantastic price to pay for such a cool jaunt, it was still money, precious money.  Combined with what I would probably spend while I was over there, I'd be at least a few inches deeper in that hole when the trip was all said and done, and with summer fast approaching, I'd have to possibly cut, or at least curtail, some plans so that I could just survive those two months without pay. 

I mulled the whole thing over during the next couple of days, not really discussing it with anyone.  In the back of my head, I knew what I should do and that was to say no.  And so early this morning, sometime before that Facebook post, I passed on the opportunity.  Of course there were mixed emotions in the aftermath of my decision.  I that I'm going to miss out on this year's adventure. But on the other hand, I am proud of myself that I made a decision out of character for me, and in doing so I get to stay within my forecasted striking distance of getting out of this hole.  That's why I posted what I posted today.

So to all of my friends out there who showed their concern, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It makes me feel so good that so many of you genuinely care about my well-being and I am touched by you reaching out to me.  I also want to apologize for my vaguebooking. I truly did not realize that you would have no idea what to make of what I wrote and would take it negatively.  Yeah, it's a bummer that I won't be going to Europe this April, but at least I know that I do indeed have the mettle in me to follow a good sign when I see one, even if it makes me a little sad.  Who knows, maybe this decision will bring me a little bit of confidence that I can reach goal and start living life a little more easily down the road.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lost in Lotto Dreams

What would you do with $1.5 billion?  That's what a lot of people across 44 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are pondering tonight.  The grand prize jackpot in tonight's Powerball lottery is the highest in history, and had been climbing since no one claimed the prize this past Saturday.  I'm not sure if I, nor anyone else for that matter, can fathom just how much money that is.  A winner could opt for equal lump-sum payments of the prize over 29 years or settle for a lump sum payment of $930 million. Yowsah!  Even after paying 39.6 percent in federal taxes (the government ALWAYS wins!), that's quite an earning, and even though the chances of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292 million, like the popular slogans say: "you gotta be in it to win it" and " all you need is a dollar (um, scratch that....two dollars) and a dream."

So what would you do with all that money?  Even though most of us know that there's not a chance in heck that we're gonna hit all of the five numbers plus the Powerball number, it's still kinda fun to dream if for a couple of hours.  

Oh, there are so many things I would those I know who could use some extra moolah, pay off the mortgage, car and credit cards, fix up the house.  Heck, that much cash would allow me to quit my job (I'd find something to do!).  I'd travel, maybe buy a couple of vacation homes, ride lots of roller coasters, and, and...whew!  That was nice to write it all out.  

Of course, I'm not counting on anything...that'd be simply stupid, but it never hurts to daydream even for a little while.  Actually I heard somewhere that if these winnings were divided up, every single American could get a million bucks.  Wouldn't that be nice?  I bet that's stir the economy to all time heights.  But that would never happen.  Once a lucky winner gets his or her (or their) hands on the prize, the rest of us can go back to keeping our heads above water and to keep on dreaming until that next big jackpot comes along.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Own Little Rabbit Hole

My drinking is killing me
My smoking is killing me

My diet is killing me

My heels are killing me
My shopping's killing me
My ego is killing me
Can't sleep, it's killing me
My label's killing me

My friend Rich is always reminding me that I haven't been writing lately.  Well, he's right, and for good reason...actually two good reasons.  First of all, ever since school started I haven't had much time for writing on here, and second, I haven't been inspired to write.  That's a sad thing, I know. Anyway, today is the first...scratch that...second and third day, of the new year, 2016, and I usually get to writing some sort of reflection/looking ahead piece around this time, so here goes...

My phone is killing me
My email is killing me
These hours are killing me
My tour is killing me
This flight is killing me
My manager's killing me
My mother's killing me
My landlord's killing me
My boss is killing me
The TV is killing me
Your nagging is killing me
My boyfriend's killing me
My talking's killing me
Killing me
Killing me

I lost my iPod on New Year's Eve.  I think that was the straw that just pushed me over the edge.  One minute it was there, the next it was gone.  Ugh, the new year has already started off just like the old one left off and I think I am just about ready to check, nah, I'm not really gonna do that, but I'll honestly say that I don't think I've ever been as low as I am right now, and it's not the iPod (though that IS a killer!).  I feel so lost these days, and I no longer seem to have a handle on what I'm searching for anymore.

Can't sleep, it's killing me
My dreams are killing me
TV is killing me
My talking's killing me
Let go, you're killing me
Ease up, you're killing me
Calm down, you're killing me
My god, you're killing me

By now you might be wondering by now what the heck is with these strange lyrics and the Robyn video.  Well, it's kinda how I'm doing right now.  I think there are some of us who get a little self-destructive every once in awhile, especially when there's something not right in the head and that'd be me right about now.  When I feel like this, I tend to jump into my own little rabbit hole, cut myself off from the world and feel sorry for myself. Well I know that's not productive, and heck, by even writing this at least I'm trying to do something...

Well anyway, it's taken me three days to get to this point in my post and now it's Sunday night, the end of Christmas vacation.  Sigh!  At least I climbed out of my rabbit hole for a bit today, and maybe the order of life will set me off in a good place tomorrow.  We shall see!  To be continued...