Midlife Malaise

Due to an unfortunate decision in my choice of major in my college years, I have been an administrative assistant my entire adult working life. I’ve been in my current position for nearly 13 years with the same company and my job has changed very little in that time. I don’t really foresee it changing very much in the next 13 years either.

The work is not challenging, my coworkers are not my friends (I am the only woman among 8 men), and culture of my company has changed from  we’ve-got-your-back to it’s-all-about-the-dollars in the last 5 years. Within the next year, my office will be moving inside an industrial plant where I will be forced to dress like a construction worker (goodbye cute summer sandals!) and share a space with my blue collar coworkers (they are good guys but there’s not a lot of talk about arts and culture if you know what I mean). Those are the cons of my current job.

Here are the pros: the pay is decent, the benefits are excellent, I have a mere 17 minute commute, I can pretty well come and go as I please, and I have 4 weeks of paid vacation plus 8 paid sick days per year, plus 10 paid holidays.  My boss is a good boss – my only complaint is that he’s an over-thinker to the nth degree and sometimes that can be exasperating, but overall I enjoy working with him. My job causes me very little stress and I don’t have to work evenings or weekends, or be on call.  Also, and this is a big PRO – I don’t have to work with the general public. On paper, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially in today’s job market.

I feel like I outgrew this position a long time ago, but it was a good fit for my family and see also the pros above – it’s hard to walk away from all that, especially since my husband is self-employed and doesn’t bring in any health insurance or a regular bi-weekly paycheck. I feel that I have more to offer than simply being able to do my job quickly and efficiently, but do I really? When I look for other jobs, I see gaping holes in my resume that hold me back from applying for those positions. I haven’t developed any marketable skills over my time here that would be useful elsewhere. And there’s a lot of fear of the unknown too – fear of starting over at another company, fear of rejection when going for interviews, fear of getting into a worse situation…lots of fear all around it.

I hear all of the talk about following your dreams! and dream big! Do what your heart wants you to do!! Honestly, that all sounds exhausting. Hustling sounds like a lot of work when I feel like I should be slowing down and settling in at my age.

I think what is really happening is that I have hit midlife and don’t have a career I can be proud of. I sort of hate that my kids say “my mom is a secretary” when I’d originally had such lofty goals for myself in college. My best friend’s title is Senior Director of Development at a major university…she gets to travel and go to fun events and talk to different people every day. I come to work and sit behind a desk and listen to podcasts so that I can distract myself while I do the same work I’ve been doing for 13 years. I’m not jealous of my friend – she has worked damn hard for her career and deserves every accolade that comes her way – she’s very, very good at what she does and I am so proud of her. I simply wish that I had a career that I could talk about with some sense of accomplishment and pride as well. I feel almost embarrassed to say “I’m an administrative assistant” when I have a French degree under my belt (also embarrassing: I remember very little French now, seems like a waste of tuition).

I heard a term the other day in a Ted Talk I watched on YouTube – “Midlife Malaise”. I think that perfectly describes how I’m feeling. I’m not having a midlife crisis as much as I’m just sort of bored, really. And I’m actually not bored with my whole life – my marriage is solid, my kids are good and healthy… it just seems to be my career or lack thereof that has me feeling inadequate.

This feeling cycles around every so often. A lot of times I can squash it down and ignore it, but it always comes around again eventually. Not sure what to do about it – do I simply need to learn to appreciate what I have or do I need to put myself out there and risk it all for something that may or may not be better? Should I develop one of my hobbies into a side gig and look for fulfillment there? Should I volunteer somewhere and hope I feel useful? Should I just go buy a lottery ticket and pin my hopes on a mega-millions win??

If only I could get paid to read books and drink tea all day…my life would be complete.

photo of teacup on top of books
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

 

Scarcity Mindset: what it is, how to overcome it, and most importantly, how to pronounce it correctly.

I have a little problem, and it shows up in a lot of areas in my life. It affects my finances, my weight, my generosity…it affects more than I ever even knew. I didn’t even know it was a thing until about a year or so ago – but I’m finding that a lot of people also have this problem. I’m ready to deal with it and overcome it. Or at least learn to manage it.

My problem (ha, as if I only have one) is that I have a Scarcity Mindset.

If you don’t know what that is, a scarcity mentality is forever thinking “there’s not enough”. There’s not enough money, there’s not enough food, there’s not enough time…it just feels like there is never enough of anything. If you find yourself saying “I can’t afford that”, or “I’ll wait until payday and then I’ll buy all of these things that I can’t get right now”, or “it must be nice that the neighbors can afford xyz”…then you too probably have that same lack mentality. This mindset can lead to over-spending, over-eating, needless worry, and basically it can just suck the joy out of your life, which is no bueno.

How does feeling scarce lead to the “overages” (over spending, over weight, over working) in life? Here’s an excellent example I heard recently: Let’s say you are having a dinner party with your family and friends – you wake up the day of the party and think “I don’t think I have enough food. I should have gotten more to drink. What if no one brings a dessert? I should probably go get some more just in case.” So you go to the store to get more more more, and when the party finally rolls around and everyone has eaten and is stuffed to the gills, you notice ALL THE LEFTOVER FOOD. There is so much food still uneaten, that you make up plates for everyone to take home because there is just no way you are ever going to eat it all. See? Now you’ve spent more money than you needed to because of your fear that there wouldn’t be enough, when in fact, there was and still is PLENTY.

For me, this mentality really shows itself like this: Cash flow is tight, so I put off buying things, then when payday hits I BUY ALL OF THE THINGS because HURRY I HAVE TO BUY THESE THINGS BEFORE THE MONEY RUNS OUT AGAIN BECAUSE THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH MONEY. And when I say “things” I mean stuff like getting my hair cut, doing a big grocery shop, buying whatever gifts need to be purchased, paying as many bills as I can…so then in just a few days, the money is tight again and the cycle starts all over. It’s exhausting. And with a self-employed husband, sometimes money is genuinely tight (hello winter), but because I’ve never developed habits to s p r e a d  t h e  m o n e y  o u t, it always feels like feast or famine, even when it’s really not.

Also, I feel like there’s not enough time – not enough time to do what I want to do and need to do, so my weekends end up being either SUPER PRODUCTIVE (do all the things because there are only 2 days to get everything done!!!) or I am as lazy as can be because I’m exhausted and just don’t want to do anything. Again, if I could figure out how to spread it all out over the week, I don’t think I would feel quite so frantic about not wasting time (because time is precious) (because there’s not enough of it) (see?).

Does anyone else see the restrict/binge cycle happening here??? I thought it only showed up when I was dieting (which I no longer do) but apparently I’ve also been restricting and bingeing my money and time. :/ Interesting.

In my research (let’s be real, I Googled it) about how to overcome this mindset of “not enough”, I found that the first thing usually suggested is gratitude and appreciation. In all of the articles I read, in all of the videos I’ve watched on this subject, incorporating the practice of gratitude is the number one habit to cultivate in order to combat that scarcity feeling. Appreciating what we have and being grateful can help us see that there is indeed, enough. Whether that means writing down what you are grateful for at the end of the day, or just simply thinking about things you appreciate while you are brushing your teeth, focusing on all of the abundance in your life will help dissipate that feeling of lack over time.

Now, I will admit to you that writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day sounds like something I will never do. In fact, it makes me want to roll my eyes and never think about it again, so I need to come up with a way to work this into my life in such a way that feels effortless so that it will eventually stick. I’m thinking it needs to be in the middle of the day when my energy is at its peak. Is there an app for that? Maybe I need an app to remind me. I’m still working all of this out right now (obviously) – I don’t have any answers as of yet, so if you do, please share!

All of the above is well and good, but my stupid little grammar-police brain cannot get over something else. Yesterday I watched a video about this wherein a 20-something girl had a 20 minute video about this very subject, and I’m sure she had some good info to share, but I couldn’t concentrate on what she was saying because she kept pronouncing it “SCAR-city”. Spoiler alert: it’s pronounced “SCARE-city” – it comes from the word SCARCE. At first I thought she just messed up, but she kept saying it like that over and over again – I couldn’t even watch the whole thing because I was so distracted by the way she was saying it! Yes I realize this probably makes me an asshole, but I can’t help it. If you’re going to make an entire video about a certain subject, make sure you know how to pronounce it correctly otherwise you don’t sound credible. (Cranky rant is now over)

So, I genuinely want to know: have any of you overcome this mindset? Or at least learned how to manage it? How did you do it? Do you have a regular gratitude practice and if so, what does it look like in your life (if you don’t mind sharing)?

This was a longer post than usual – thanks for sticking around if you’ve gotten to the end!! You are a warrior!

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My name is Inigo Montoya. This is a scar. Prepare to die. 

 

 

 

 

Updates and stuff

Happy Friday!

My car is getting fixed! For freeeeeee! They finally called yesterday and said “Well we just had a big meeting about your car and here is what we’ve decided – we can pull the valve covers off and if the engine is sludge-y, it won’t be covered under the warranty and you’ll have to pay for us taking off the valve covers before we can go any further. If the engine is clean, we’ll order you a new engine and repair the car, which will all be covered under the warranty”. I told him (with a wee bit of false bravado) “Well then you go ahead and take off those valve covers because you aren’t going to find a sludge-y engine – we have kept up with the oil changes and done everything we were supposed to do.” A couple of hours later, guess what!! Clean engine and a new one ordered! I was really nervous even though I KNEW there was nothing I had done to cause such a catastrophic failure, but sometimes you just don’t know how dealerships are going to play the game. My husband had the phone number of a good lawyer handy juuuuuust in case. My mantras for the last couple of weeks have been “I did nothing to cause this” and “Be anxious for nothing”. I’ve probably said those phrases to myself a hundred times since all of this started because I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra $5000 sitting around for a new engine. I’m really just so relieved that it’s going to be repaired and covered under the warranty.  And they gave me a loaner car so I don’t have to drive my husband’s work truck or borrow my son’s car anymore – which is a relief because I do not like not having my own wheels. 

Curly Girl Experiment – I’m one month in. If you don’t know what the Curly Girl Method is, it’s a technique of enhancing your natural curls by using sulfate-free, paraben-free, and silicone-free hair products. It’s a process, y’all. I mean you have be committed to it because it takes a bit o’ time and a lot of trial and error, but if you can reach curl nirvana, it will be worth it. Now, there are some people out there who are almost militant about livin’ that CGM lifestyle (CGM = Curly Girl Method) and there are those of us who are rebels because we do what we want! I mean I guess so far I’m following it pretty closely but because I have fine, thin, wavy hair there are some things I have to do differently than the original method, and I’m completely fine with that. Just like in health, there is no one-size-fits-all and you have to do what works for you (and your hair). Here are pics of Day 1 vs. Today (One month in):

 

Honorable mention goes to these two days which were somewhere in the last couple of weeks:

Yes, I take pictures of my hair when it is behaving nicely because it is such a rarity and I want to document it for posterity. You can see how much my curls have perked up already. This is a really fun experiment and I think that once I get a little more length, I’ll really love wearing my hair curly all the time.

Well, I’ve rambled on about those two topics that are probably of no interest to anyone except myself longer than I intended. My plans for this weekend are to just relax, get caught up on my handlettering course that I am 3 weeks behind in, and maybe declutter some areas that are driving me bonkers. What are your plans for the weekend? Whatever they are – I hope they are enjoyable!

 

Financial Things

Hello!

One of my New Year’s Intentions was to get my financial life in order, so I thought a good way to keep track of that would be to do a regular Financial Things post, both to remind myself that I am making progress and also to have something to post (I tend to tell myself that I have nothing to write about, but then I’ll read someone else’s post and ideas explode in my head). So without further ado, here are my latest financial things:

  • I reconnected with an old budgeting system I used to use. All of last year I used YNAB (You Need A Budget) to track my expenses and plan my budget, and while I really love almost everything about it, it just doesn’t make sense to me to pay $84 a year for a budgeting system when I a) am trying to cut expenses and b) there are so many budgeting systems that cost way less or are free. In searching for an alternative to YNAB, I tried several different options – and was getting frustrated that I couldn’t find one that I clicked with – when I happened to be looking for pictures on my desktop PC at home and discovered, buried deep in my documents folder, a budget template from 2015 that I had gotten from SimpleOrganizedLiving.com (which is now adreadekker.com). I opened it up and reworked it to fit my 2019 needs and the clouds parted and the angels sang and I found my one true budget template love. I sit down once a week to plug in my expenses and see where I’m at for the month. It’s easy and it’s FREE. I may have paid for it back in 2015 or maybe it was offered as a free download, I don’t remember, but I’m very happy that I have found it again.
business charts commerce computer
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • I bought a dresser from a Facebook resale group. Since my son moved into his own apartment, that means my girls get their own rooms now, and we are in need of a little bit of furniture. When they shared a room they had one large dresser for their clothes, but now they each want a smaller chest of drawers (side note: it’s chest OF drawers, not chester drawers, and that’s your grammar lesson for the day). I really do not want to pay over $100 each for brand new dressers (we’re also going to need night stands and different beds as well, which could add up to hundreds of dollars. Um…no.) so I found a small wood dresser listed on a resale group for $40 that we are going to repaint to match the room. I’m on the lookout for another dresser and eventually I’ll be on the lookout for the rest of the furniture, but for now, I’m happy with my find.
apply blue brush carpentry
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • I used a birthday coupon for a free large popcorn and drink at the movies. My son and I went to see Captain Marvel over the weekend, and I was able to use a birthday coupon from my theater loyalty card which got us free popcorn and a large drink which saved us $13.50. Oh, and my son bought the tickets for my birthday, so I only spent $5 for a medium drink. Seeing the Marvel movies is our bonding thing, so it’s worth it to me to spend the money to see a movie once in a while, but yay that  I didn’t have to spend much this time!
white and green pop corns beside red gummy bear
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Those are a few things off the top of my head that I’ve done lately to get ahead of my financial situation. And let me point out, my financial situation isn’t awful or dire, I just have some small debts that I’m tired of paying on and although we tend to break even every month, I want to get ahead of things. I want to better my situation, I guess you could say.

What have you done in the past to better your financial situation? What are your favorite frugal tips? What financial advice would you like to share? Hit it in the comments so we can all benefit!

 

Mimosa Sunday Afternoon

Okay I know I said in my last post that I would show you how you could use something pretty to help with your intentions for this year but I’m still working on that post. In the meantime, I thought I’d tell you about my perfectly lovely Sunday afternoon yesterday.

My daughter had a volleyball tournament yesterday morning (a continuation from Saturday) and we had to be there at 7:15 a.m. which meant we had to leave the house at 6:30 a.m. which meant I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning is the most disgusting thing I can think of. It just shouldn’t be allowed. Anyway, after the tournament, I had my husband drop me off at my book club meeting where we discussed this book:

If you have read it, what did you think of this book? We had one of the most lively discussions we’ve ever had in our book club! I still have so many questions, but it was fun to dissect it and discuss our theories.  I really love my little book club group!

We meet at the same restaurant every time – it’s kind of an upscale pub-type place with large booths that have high back rests, so you really feel like you have some privacy. They have great appetizers and also they have some really fun alcoholic beverages, if you’re into that sort of thing, which usually I’m not, but on occasion I’ll have a little somethin’ if the mood strikes, and yesterday the mood struck.

I was already tired from getting up at FIVE FREAKING THIRTY ON A SUNDAY MORNING and my nerves were a little shot from being in a huge echo-y venue for several hours where whistles a’ plenty were blowing, and so I decided that a Peach Bellini Mimosa would be a nice treat since I didn’t have to drive home.

Hey guess what happens when you’re a lightweight and not used to drinking alcohol?!?!? You get very tipsy, very quickly. And by “you”, I definitely mean “me”.  I thought that most of the alcohol would be absorbed by the soft pretzel I had but apparently not, because when I stood up to leave, my head was SWIMMY. Not so much that anyone noticed, and not so much that I couldn’t walk a straight line, but I was for sure feeling every ounce of vodka in that drink (I mean to be honest, there was probably only one ounce of vodka in the whole thing but see above: lightweight).

I decided that while I waited for my ride home, I would walk to the only other place open on a Sunday in our little downtown area – the antique store – which was thankfully on the same block as the restaurant.

I walked around the store for a little while and even though I’m trying to curb my impulse spending, I impulsively spent money on this:

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It was a whole $10.

Had I not been tipsy, I probably wouldn’t have bought it, but at only $10 I think I did okay. Plus I really, really like it and it’s perfect for my smaller utensils, so I’m okay with my drunk purchase.

When I got home, I opened my bedroom window (it was an unusually balmy 70 degrees), laid down on my bed, and took the best nap of my life!! Super tired + little bit tipsy = mini coma. It was great!

It turned out to be a really nice day. The upside of waking up so early is that my Sunday felt like it was 37 hours long, but in a good way. I got to do lots of fun things and I even got to bed a decent hour. Maybe I should wake up at 5:30 a.m. every weekend?

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Nah.

 

Please enjoy this personally-curated list of mimosa related items that I now want to impulse-buy. (click on the pics to find them on Amazon)

Set an intention and conquer the hair demons

So it’s the end of January – how are those resolutions working out for ya? Does anyone really make New Year resolutions? Honestly, I don’t know anyone who actually makes/attempts/sticks to any resolutions in real life.

And why make them in January? I feel January is a month for resting and recovering. A month for restoration, if you will. After the high adrenaline excitement of The Big Three: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I need at least a month to get my nervous system back to normal, don’t you?

So now that we’re all rested up and recovered, I think now – the end of January/beginning of Feb is the perfect time to decide how we would like the rest of the year to go. And I like to do that by setting an Intention for the year – the kinder, gentler cousin of the Resolution.

How do you set an intention though? Lucky for you, my coach/therapist/friend Emily Roberts has 4 steps for setting an intention, and I wanted to share them with you today:

  1. Get clear on what it is you want and really think about WHY you want it. Also, write it down somewhere – in a journal, on a post-it on your mirror, on your car’s visor, somewhere you will see it more than once.
  2. Share your intention with someone who will support you as you carry out your intention (make sure it is someone who absolutely has your back, not just any ol’ person you know.)
  3. Do something right now that demonstrates your commitment to your intention. It can be something as small as Googling an article, or finding a store that carries the supplies you need to carry out your intention. Just do something.
  4. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing the thing you said you would do! Acknowledge that you are moving forward, and then do the next thing that moves you closer to your intention. Keep reminding yourself why you want this.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Keep taking the next step and the next step and the next step…pretty soon you will find that you are well on your way to Achieving the Thing!

I mentioned some things I’d like to work on in this post*, but the only thing that I really made an intention out of is getting my finances in order. So as an example of how to set an intention, here is how I’m doing that:

  1. I would like to pay off at least 2 of our smaller debts this year, make a binder of all of our household information, and talk to a financial adviser. I want to do this because of the peace of mind it will bring.
  2. I shared my intention with Emily and with my husband (and now with all of you).
  3. For the binder, I bought the supplies and printed out some helpful sheets on getting all of our information organized (our monthly bills, internet passwords, copies of important documents, etc) and I am almost ready to put it all together. As for paying of our smaller debts, I have identified which debts I want to pay off and have already earmarked some bonus money to pay off one of those debts (maybe) and I have been exploring freelance data-entry opportunities to bring in some extra income to go towards that debt. For the financial adviser, my husband has a client who does this, so we already have someone chosen. I think I’m going to wait until we get our tax refund to go talk to him, so that will happen in a couple of months.
  4. Yay me for doing what I’ve done already!! Honestly, this is so unlike me but recent events have made me realize that getting things in order is not something to be put off until “someday” because our “someday” may come in an unexpected/unpleasant way.

Next time I will share with you a great way to remind yourself of your intentions – and I’ll show you how I’m reminded of mine. (Hint – it’s wearable AND pretty!!)

If you were going to set an intention for this year, what would yours be?

*Side note – I also mentioned in that post improving my relationship with my hair (conquering my hair demons is how I think I put it)…here is the mess I was dealing with vs CUTTING IT INTO SUBMISSION:

Take THAT hair demons!!! (Also, wow! My face is super puffy in the first picture!)

 

 

Happy New Year

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Well I totally meant to write a meaningful end-of-year post, but December got a little crazy and I just didn’t get around to it. I’ll do a quick wrap up right now before I move on to my goals for this year.

What I did well last year:

  • tracked all of my expenses for the year so I could see where all of my money went
  • stayed consistent with my book club – we met almost every month…we just couldn’t find time to get everyone together in November and December.
  • got much better at being mindful and listening to what my body tells me
  • finally called my doctor to help me with my weight

Those are just a few things off the top of my head. I’m sure I did other things well last year, I just can’t think of anymore specific examples.

This year I want to work on:

  • Making my money work for me – since last year was all about tracking, now I can see where I can cut back and maybe add in some extra so I can pay down some debt
  • doing more fun things with my book club – I’ve got a couple of movie nights planned for us and maybe some field trips in addition to our monthly meetings
  • getting better with my hand-lettering – I’d like to take some online classes for fun to see if I can really improve
  • making exercise and meditation a regular part of my routine – I know all the benefits of moving regularly and meditating, now I just want to do them often enough to really reap the rewards (better sleep, less stress, & clearer thinking)!
  • conquering the demons that have control of my hair – this may be the year I chop it all off. I’m so over it.

What did you do well last year? What do you want to work on this year?