Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am a "kick" person. When I see or hear something that speaks to me I immediately begin to incorporate it into my life in the hopes that I can bring about a positive change in myself or my surroundings. I get razzed a bit by my family...and sometimes they might think I'm nuts...but usually I'm flying too high to really notice or let anything bring me down.
When I graduated from college and got my first "real" job, the bills started rolling in. It was time to pay off my $80,000 education (in the late 90's I attended a private liberal arts college). The credit cards that had practically been given away in the hallway outside of the cafeteria were now begging for attention. Somewhere along the way, I decided it was time to make a budget! I plotted out my expenses vs. what I brought home each week, tried to squirrel away 10% of my check and funnel it into savings, and kept it all written down in a spiral notebook that I would consult each week (day, hour, minute...okay 30 seconds). I kept track of when payments were due, how much I paid, balances on credit cards, fun money. I knew where every cent was going.
The problem is, that I was so gung ho about the "budget book" that I literally took it everywhere I went. I mean EVERYWHERE, not just to places where it might be reasonable. I took it to the store, I took it to camp, I took it to my parents' house for dinner, I took it to church (I did leave it in the car). I mean when I went to sleep, there was the budget book, when I woke up it lovingly greeted me. It was nothing short of obsession....never know when a question will arise about the finances! I was so afraid of financial disarray those first few years. I was afraid that I wouldn't have money to pay my bills. I was very scared to spend frivolous money on myself (Some people love to shop...I hear all the time about "retail therapy"... that is NOT me! Shopping for me is stress inducing.) If it is in the budget I'm okay with it but if I have to rob Peter to pay Paul I get very nervous.
So the budget was taking over my life...but thanks to it my husband and I could afford to pay for the majority of our wedding and honeymoon ourselves and all the bills were paid off before our first anniversary. I'm proud of that. Nowadays I still have the budget book (a different notebook) and it really hasn't changed much except now there's more money coming in, and more bills going out! BUT, I don't carry it with me. I look at it once a week, on Friday when the bills get paid, and that's that! It makes my life easier. I tried once to use a Quicken program or turn my budget book into an Excel Spreadsheet...but the book is what I love. Pen, Paper, and Numbers. Something to look at, feel with my fingers, and think about, but no longer something to obsess over.
Also, the "budget book" somehow emblazoned me with the title of "My Family's Financial Guru" two different siblings have asked me to help them implement "the budget" in some form or another into their lives. Another one likes to ask me for tax advice and the other has occasionally asked me money related questions about saving, investing, buying a home...etc. I'm not a money person...my $80,000 education didn't get me a degree in Finance. It was English. But thank you budget book, you changed me and made me better equipped to handle the money ups and downs in life!
Another "kick" of mine is food related. A couple of years ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and something in me clicked. I started to research some local farmers and I joined a CSA near my home (that's community supported agriculture). I am interested in gardening, but have yet to produce an abundant vegetable garden. I think about eating organically, growing my own food, supporting local farms etc. I saw Food, Inc. a few months ago: a documentary EVERY American needs to force themselves to view. I found an organic beef farmer who is also local and I am anxiously awaiting my first box of beef (to arrive in a short week or two!). Yes, it is currently more expensive to make these choices...but I feel better about them. This is money that I don't mind spending! I would rather spend money on stuff like this than on medical bills, that's for sure. If you want to hear more of my rant on food, click HERE. This is a "kick" in progress...I've got a long way to go...but so does the rest of this country!
Yet another "kick", combines food and money. It's called The Grocery Game. It's a game to help you save money on your grocery shopping by combining weekly coupons (that come in the mail or Sunday paper) with grocery sales so that you are able to stockpile items that you use in your home when they are at the lowest possible price at the store. I was way into this when I first started and while I built my stockpile, and lovingly became dubbed "My Family's Coupon Queen." But whatever, the proof is in the pudding: An average weekly grocery shopping trip in the year 2008 (when we were a very new family of 5) cost me WELL over $200 per week. I think I have some receipts that go as high as $240. And then there would be the additional costs of having guests over for a birthday party or celebration. Now in 2010, I spend $140 or less on a weekly basis. I've been able to cut my grocery bill by at least $60 a week. That's $240 dollars a month, people, and that isn't chump change. I'm sure I could save more, but I can't let these things become obsessions. I try to efficiently clip my coupons for the week, make my lists, and shop. One stop shopping is an essential time saver for me. I don't run to 2, 3, or 4 different stores a week (remember I hate shopping). I go to one store. Once a week (or twice if I didn't plan well enough). I'm proud to know that even though I don't make money outside of the home, I can use the money that my husband works so hard for wisely and my family is never wanting for something to eat...FOR SURE!
I also got into a fitness "kick" after Ava was born. A culmination of events brought me to a place where I realized that I was more than just a mom. I deserved to feel good about myself. I deserved to pamper myself on occasion. So it meant dusting off the treadmill and walking, then running. It meant lifting weights, doing a little yoga now and then. I'll always thank my cousin, Cari for motivating me. She started to take her physical fitness seriously just before me. She dropped a bunch of weight. She looked younger. Happier. No longer run down. The woman had 4 kids at the time (now she has 6!). I thought, if she could find the time to do it then so could I. And I did. And I lost 20 lbs which makes a big difference on a 5'1" frame! She is still going strong. I've taken a break to add two more to my brood...but you can bet after I get the okay I will be back on track--literally--soon after our newest little one arrives!
Blogging has been a lot of fun too...and you could say it's a "kick." I just can't wait to see where this journey takes me. I've only just begun this year and I have had some positive feedback from people I know...and a few I don't know and it is really motivating me to keep this up! I love to write. and write. and write. And that's how we end up with mile long posts...but anyhoo!
The latest "kick" has me clicking over to Flylady.com. I am not by nature a neat and organized person. I never made my bed growing up. I shared a room with my sister, Angie, at one point and we didn't need a line of tape running down the middle of the room to tell who's side was who's (although we did do that once, so my mess would contain itself!). My side was clutter clutter clutter and hers was neat and tidy, usually. In college, thank God, I had a roommate who was like me and together we lived in clutter and creative chaos. To anyone else it looked like a dump, to me it looked like life. I was too busy, too tired, to caught up in my old ways to change anything about it. Procrastination was my middle name.
I still don't really care about clutter. I don't judge others for it. But now I recognize that I live with someone who doesn't appreciate it, feels hemmed in by it, stressed by it, degraded by it. So I think it's about time I grabbed a hold of it. I do appreciate the beauty of a made bed, now. I like sitting in my living room when there aren't toys on the floor. I like cooking in my kitchen when there aren't dishes already in the sink. I hate looking at piles of laundry. So I've dived in at Flylady.com and already in 6 short days there has been some major progress around here! I never thought I lived in a dirty house..."lived in" is what I called it. Creatively chaotic. Slowly a couple of years ago, I transformed the house so that the main living areas present as: Neat, with a few little piles here and there, and major chaos going on behind the scenes (like in the basement, closets, under the bed and on low lying shelves!) Now I am planning to change that. This is more about time management, prioritizing, not procrastinating, and taking baby steps than it is about cleaning my house. I love it because it is making house keeping (a major part of my job as Stay At Home Mommy) more manageable. And as a side affect of my "kickieness," I am telling everyone about it! I'm sure the new nickname will be "Clean Queen." A side note: Thank you, to Janene (again), for posting Flylady.com as a link from your blog. She's my blogging buddy and you can find her at Perfecting Imperfection!
I love the feeling of diving whole-heartedly into something new. It makes me feel happy, healthy, and alive. It's so much better than drowning in a pile of debt, a pile of fat, a pile of boredom, a pile of clutter...whatever it is that needs changing!
My advice is to remain open to what God (the universe) puts out there for you to see. Be open to new things and to changing your old ways. Ocean waves pounding on the shore seems like a constant...but underneath them there are ever changing and shifting sands. Nothing feels better than letting the waves crash on your bare feet--feeling sand and water moving, pulling. Be open to it! Here's to what's changing in your life...Let's KICK it!
P.S. I should probably get on a "kick" of editing myself...but this is way too much fun for me. So, if you are still reading--Thanks! And be sure to post a comment! :)
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