Saturday, January 14, 2017

Today's Random Thoughts

I wonder if people in "cave man" days were happier? Their lives may have been physically harder, but mentally I wonder if they were happier. They lived closer to their families, they had to work together, they didn't have to do busy work, they were self-reliant, they weren't so bombarded with meaningless distractions that clogged up space in their mind they couldn't hear a whisper from God. 

We now live longer, are able to travel more, can have damn near have anything we want and we are as violent, depressed and unhappy as ever. Humans barely love themselves so how can we expect them to love each other? 

I got this book from the library about a man who lives without money. Isn't that an interesting thought? To live free from of the trappings of this world. To be self-reliant. To have relationships based on authentic connection and not just based on what someone can do for you. To have enough space in your mind to let God work on you in the way that he does when your mind is not filled with meaningless and valueless distractions.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Story Time: The time I almost caught Rubella

Okay so I didn't catch Rubella, but for one very long day, I thought that I had it!

Check out my latest video to learn about the importance of reading, having patience, and learning to laugh at one's self.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

5 awkward conversations that you need to have with your parents

I get my passion from my mother

and my business sense from my father

1. Estate planning

Talking about money is always an awkward conversation. You are not supposed to ask your friends or coworkers how much they make. If a woman cares too much about how much a man makes, then she is considered a gold digger and although I am now an adult I still do not know how much my parents make. So why do you need to have this awkward conversation with your parents about their estate planning?

If you think talking about money is awkward, imagine how much harder it would be to have these conversations after your parents die or if they are too sick to make decisions for themselves. That is why it is best to talk to them about it now. Find out if they have money saved for long-term care or to pay for their funeral. Find out what their wishes are if they are unable to make health decisions for themselves. Find out if they have a will and what is in that will (this is especially important if your parents had a lot of wealth and you have siblings).

This is not about taking advantage of your parents or trying to live off of their hard work. This is about making sure that (1) you are able to fulfill their wishes towards the end of their life and (2) there are no misunderstands with siblings or other family members about your parent's wishes. Dave Ramsey says that every year he has a live reading of his will with the affected people in his life so that there are no misunderstands and he has a very successful business and is worth millions. Feelings can be hurt and relationships destroyed over $1,000 just like over $1 million.

Realize though that this conversation will be as awkward for you as it will be for your parents. There can be a lot of feelings surrounding money including shame about mistakes that they made and feeling that you as their child shouldn't be telling them what to do. So have this conversation, but be kind and loving and patient.

2. I am your child, but I am no longer a child

When I went away to college is when I firest experienced the conflict between who my parents viewed me as and who I was becoming. I went away to college about 2 hours away so most of the school year I was 100% responsible for myself and my time. When I can home to visit my parents still viewed me as a child. Many arguments arose because they wanted to exhibit control and I wanted to continue to be the adult that I had grown into. Even now as a parent in my mid 30's my parents sometimes forget that I am an adult. They worry about me getting home late (anytime past 9pm is late for my dad) and they sometimes overstep their boundaries when it comes to me parenting my child.

Part of becoming an adult is having the ability to have this conversation with your parents. It can be as easy as "I appreciate what you are telling me, but I need to make my own decisions." They are your parents. They powered your butt and changed your diapers. They love and care about you, but they do need to push you out of the nest.

What is fun bout this conversation is that it doesn't have to be a literal conversation. You can show your parents that you are an adult by no longer acting like a child. Don't borrow money from them, don't continuously ask them to bail you out of trouble, make decisions on your on, have a disagreement with them without whining,

3. I made a mistake

I do not like being wrong so I get that having this type of conversation with anyone can be hard. If you want to become an adult in the eyes of your parents, then admitting that you made a mistake is the  first step. They are going to love you regardless and let's be honest you probably should have listened to them in the first place :-)

4. I am mad at you

Your parents are not perfect. They are humans and they make mistakes as well. It is okay to tell them that you are upset with them. You are able to do that and still love and respect them, but even parents need to know when they stepped over your boundaries and pissed you off. You know what will happen if you don't talk to them about it? You will spend the next several years harboring feeling about what they did wrong and you will spend hundreds of dollars on therapy rehashing how your parents traumatized you and they won't remember what they did.

What will most likely happen if you have this conversation is that you will understand their side. You will see how things they see it and you may realize that the anger you feel is unjustified or at least not at the level that you have allowed it to reach.

Have that conversation, hash it out, and move on.

5. I love you

They know how much you care. They know in their heart, but they would also like to hear it. So tell them how much you love them and how much you appreciate all of the work and sacrifices that they did for you. Tell them loudly, in a letter, at random times, let them when they least expect it. Just tell them!

Leave a comment below and let me know what awkward conversations you have had with your parents and how you felt afterward.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The joy of doing nothing

My To Do list is always at least 10 items long. Some of the items are short term ("make a grocery list") and some are more long term ("pay off two student loans by the end of the year"). No matter how many times I cross something off there is always another duty, choice, or goal to replace it. Isn't that what we are told life is? One endless to-do list. Being busy is the goal and doing nothing is a deadly sin (sloth anyone?).

Every. Single. Day. Work, look busy, strive for more, don't just sit there, achieve, earn, move, faster, more, sleep when you're dead. We are supposed to do that every day of our lives until we retire and we are too old, tired and sick to do all of the things that we thought we wanted to do.

Here's a thought. Why do I always have to be doing? Why do I always have to have my day planned from sunrise to sunset? Why can't I do nothing? I tried it once. Doing nothing. The guilt I felt was palpable. Wasn't there something better that I could be doing? Why was I just wasting a day when I "should" be being productive with my time. Instead of actually getting the sleep that I need I should be out finding another job to pay off my debt. Instead of joyfully receiving the affection of a very handsome man, I should be writing my next great novel. I am sure that I could squeeze in 30 minutes of working out, while cooking dinner, helping my son with his homework, reading another great book, watching a movie, and curing cancer. Isn't being a multitasker a good thing?

When do we get to just enjoy time as it is now? When do we get to just enjoy being in the present? When do we get to live how children live in such a current state a bliss that they don't even have time to think about trivial things like eating.

I was sold the idea that we should always be doing something and when I am not I feel guilty. So much so that I have to remind myself of the productive things that I did that day so it wasn't a complete waste of time ("At least I shot and published a video").

I plan to send more time enjoying doing nothing. I want to spend more time being in the present and living some of my time less structured.  I want to be so blissfully happy that I want to forget to eat and then come home and take a nap.

Do you ever feel the joy of doing nothing?


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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dating while in debt

This world would be a much better place if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt- Earl Wilson
One of the most interesting experiences that I have to negotiate as a single woman is dating while in debt. I am always mindful of the places that I go on dates because although I am an old fashion lady (meaning that I believe that guys should pay for the first date(s)) I wouldn't expect or want to be taken to a place where I couldn't at least pay for myself. That got me to thinking about how difficult it can be to date while in debt. Where do you take someone and what do you do if your entertainment budget in slim?

In order to prevent you from another Netflix and chill night, I wanted to give you some great ideas for dates that are fun and budget friendly.*

1. Free days at your local museum #proudnerd
2. A good old fashioned picnic
3. Why don't you Dabble in something new? 
4. Free concerts in the park
5. Try a coffee "date" before a dinner date. It cost less and gives you time to feel out if you actually have a spark with a person. If all goes well you could invite them to dinner afterward. Because let's be honest. We can usually tell if we have a connection with someone within the first 20 minutes right! 
6. Take a walk along the beach. It's romantic and good exercise.
7. Free dance lessons
8. Go to the theater earlier in the day as the movie price is usually cheaper. 
9. Check out your local library to see if there are any interesting speakers visiting.
10. Organize a game night with friends. Bring along my favorite game Taboo and get ready for a fun night!
11. Or maybe you might make the decision to not date while you are getting out of debt.

Tell me what are your favorite places to go on dates that are fun, engaging, and budget friendly? Then check out on Youtube video on "Dating while in debt".


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*I know that most of my links are for Chicago locations, but that is why Google is our friend. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What I will say "no" to in 2016?

"Focus is about saying No"-Steve Jobs

I could take a note or two from my 5-year-old son. He has no problem saying no.

Do you want to eat dinner-No
Do you want to go to sleep-No
Do you want to share your candy with Mommy-No
Can I have a kiss-No

The list goes on! But do you know what does not go on? My son feeling any guilt about his no. If I tell someone no the "nice" side of me sends me on a nice one way trip to guilt town.

No is a very important, but very unappreciated word. No one likes to say it and no one really likes to hear it. My inability to say "no" has caused me to keep people in my life longer than needed, has caused me to incur a lot of debt, and has caused me to spread my attention on too many activities which don't create good momentum or success.

So while most people's New Years resolutions are about saying "Yes" more, mine are about saying "No" more. Here are 10 things that I will say no to in 2016.

1. No to negative self-talk
2. No to accepting that debt is a part of life
3. No to thinking that I have to retire at 65
4. No to feeling guilty of thinking about myself first 
5. No to writing for free (fuck you pay me)
6. No to living how everyone thinks I should live
7. No to continuing my position at The Vegan Woman (good times, but time to focus on my brand)
8. No to playing the victim
9. No to closing my heart to love
10. No to bad relationships. Whether they be romantic, friendship, working, or family.

Saying no makes rooms in your life for your "yeses".

Leave a comment below and let me know what you will say no to in 2016.


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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

$63K in loans for a BS in Psych?!? WTF is that about?

Pre-digital photo! Memories

If you watched my YouTube video "Intro into my debt free journey"  then you know that I currently have a little over $60,000 in school loans. Yes, you read the right! I know what you are thinking, "She must have a Masters or at least a Bachelors in a high paying field like Business!", but no my friends that is just from a Bachelors in Psychology...and few other fields of education. Let me start from the beginning.

I attended the University of Illinois in Campaign-Urbana with the intention of getting a degree in pre-veterinarian (I soon found out that that was not a real degree. I would have to get a degree in something like Biology to be a viable candidate in the Veterinarian School, but I digress). Unfortunately, I was not a focused freshman. During my first Chemistry class, I decided that this was going to be too hard and I did not want my dream that much so I decided to get a degree in Psychology instead. My brother was in college as well getting the same degree (I look up to my brother a lot) and I figured that I could use my degree in so many areas, so why not?

Since I was not a focused student I took 5 years to get a 4-year degree.  4 out of those 5 years, I took out the maximum amount of loans that I was approved for. I worked a full-time job my last 3 years of college, but I did not live on a budget, I did not like to say "no" to myself and others, and I saved nothing.

After I graduated college, I settled for a job that I thought was going to give me quick riches instead of going to Graduate School. I placed my loans on forbearance (I didn't have to pay back my loans, but they were still accumulating interest) and proceeded to work.  Several years and several jobs later, I got married and was working as a Substance Abuse Counselor, which I HATED so I quit. My husband was making enough money and we were able to "pay our bills" so I decided that I would go back to school to get a 2nd degree in Biology. I figured that I would be able to them go to veterinarian school or even get a degree as a dietitian. Mostly though I was bored and lost and since I am a nerd at heart that meant that I should go back to school. Both were fields that I was still interested in and both would require a Biology degree. At this time I still believed that the only way to go to school was with school loans so I took out the max that I was given again.

One year later I got pregnant and was too tired to even think straight. With someone new to focus my attention on, I decided that I was done with school. Being a stay at home wife and mom was going to be my new focus. Fast forward again several years and I am now divorced and unemployed and I find out about this awesome program where I could get a Masters in Humane Education. I was so excited because this program would allow me to combine my passion for animal rights and environmentalism and I would finally be able to get a Masters! Once again going into my old habits I took out the maximum amount of school loans that they gave me and used it to not only pay for school but to continue to live outside my means.

During my 2nd semester of my first year is when I began my bankruptcy process and it is also when I began to lift the veil of "debt is okay" from over my eyes. I realized that if I continued to finance this degree that I would finish with over $80,000 in debt!! Although I loved this program and what I was learning, the ROI was unknown. I didn't even know what I was going to do with this degree and everything that I would be interested in doing, I could do without the degree. After my first year, I made the decision to quit school and only return if I was able to pay for it with cash. That was at the end of Spring 2015 and it was also when I began to listen religiously to Dave Ramsey. His "debt is dumb cash is king" motto and lifestyle was rubbing off on me and I decided to get real focused and intentional with paying off all of my debt.

It has been a year since I left my Masters program and as a right now I have not felt the need to go back. School has always been something that I was good at. I enjoy learning, the structure, and the reward of an "A" for good work. What school shouldn't be is a high brow pacifier. Something that you do because you are too scared and too unfocused to live your life. What it also shouldn't be, is a reason to go into debt.


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