Philadelphia Spectrum demolition: Smashing!

Oh, hello there, LIFE.  (Photo credit: Rhys Asplundh)

I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep a blog for half a year – it’s a new record for me!

The last two months have been especially difficult.  I’m at that awkward midpoint of having made a lot of changes and achieved some progress, but still feeling defeated by having a long way to go, and for some reason I’ve been on an intense string of relentless setbacks, and bad bad bad luck lately (Seriously, WTF God/The Universe/Whoever is Responsible?  Can you torment someone else for a while?  Please?).  Getting knocked down so much all at once has made me sad, and when I’m in that state, I gravitate back to old comfort behaviors – notably shopping.  I found myself shopping online today to make myself feel better, and even put a dress in an online shopping bag.  I didn’t go so far as to buy it – I stepped away from the computer and told myself if I came back later and still wanted it, I would buy it.  And while I was stepped away, I got a speeding ticket.  For the EXACT cost of the dress I wanted.  Coincidence?  Or just more colossal bad luck?  Hard to say.  Needless to say, I didn’t end up buying the dress.

I used to listen to a lot of Marianne Williamson, and I remember her saying in one of her lectures that when it seemed like a big wrecking ball was crashing through your life and tearing everything apart, it was actually a good thing, because it meant a true new beginning could finally start being built.  I am trying to remember that right now, when everything feels terrible, and I really just want to give up and do whatever makes me feel better.

While I’m waiting for things to improve, here are some highlights from the past six months:

  1. I have not bought any new candy since the bag of jelly beans I bought right after Easter.  Some gifted candy has drifted into our kitchen, but I have stuck to my vow to not personally buy any.  We still have a fair amount of candy that we’re working our way through, but we’re nowhere near the glut of sugar we used to have.
  2. I am out of credit card debt.  It has been a loooong time since I have been able to say that.  It is a massive relief to not have to figure out where that payment is going to come from.  I am now focused on helping Ron pay his card off, as well as our joint credit card, but having mine out of the way makes it a little less stressful.
  3. For the first time since we moved into our house about six years ago, all my clothes, shoes, and accessories are consolidated in our bedroom.  I do still have a costume closet in the basement, but everything in it truly is a costume, and not something I would wear on a daily basis.  It is so nice to have a reduced number of options to sort through, and to have them all in one place.
  4. Because we started meal planning, we are no longer wasting food, which feels GREAT.  We also feel a huge relief that we know what is for dinner every night, and going to the grocery store is considerably easier, more focused, and less expensive than it’s ever been.
  5. I have really loved finding creative ways to use stuff I already have on hand to avoid buying more stuff, like making my own thank you cards, creating my own wrapping paper for gifts, and using recipes that employ what we already have in the cupboards.  My stashes of stuff that I kept because “I might be able to use it someday” are in fact getting used.  Who would have guessed?
  6. I’ve continued to get rid of stuff, while at the same time not buying anything new, and at this point, it’s become noticeable in our home that there is less clutter, less things to put away every day, and more airy, organized spaces. Some rooms do still need some work, but I’d say at least 4 out of the 9 spaces in our home are lagom.

And since finding lagom is all about balance, here are the lowlights of the past six months:

  1. Despite being out of debt on my credit card, we are probably looking at another full year at the least of living as frugally as possible while we shovel our way out of the rest of our debt.  That thought absolutely depresses the hell out of me.
  2. Everything in our house has decided to break all at once.  Our dishwasher just broke last week out of the blue.  So while we may not be spending money on stuff we don’t need, we keep having to spend money on repairs for stuff we DO need, and therefore financially, we just can’t get ahead.  I feel like we are living out some kind of karmic punishment for wrongs committed against appliances in the past.
  3. I hate how often I’ve had to say no to going out with friends because of money, and how many times I’ve had to curb spending money on gifts for people.
  4. I really miss going out to eat.  Portland may be one of the best foodie cities in the country, and we are surrounded by great restaurants, with new ones popping up every month.  I’ve never been a big fan of cooking and doing dishes, and we’ve done a TON of both over the past six months.   While I like knowing that cooking keeps us on budget and takes away the “what should we have dinner” conundrum, I still really wish we could go out more often.
  5. I miss going to the movie theatre.  We have been to exactly one movie in the past six months.  We do have cable so we get to watch movies when they show up there, and for that I’m grateful.  But for me, nothing will ever take the place of going to a movie while it’s still in the theatre.
  6. I still miss shopping – though at this point I miss it less because of the stuff, and more as a way to self soothe when I’m feeling down.  I haven’t come up with anything yet that makes me feel as good, so there is a void there that I don’t know how to fill, and when I feel bad now, I have to just sit there and feel bad, which totally sucks.  On top of that, life has given me a lot to feel bad about lately.

I’m hoping by the time I do my next quarterly check in in September, some of the longing and wistfulness I feel right now will have subsided.  And that I will have found an emotional replacement for shopping.  And that this bad luck streak will have run it’s course.  And that some financial miracle will have resolved all our debt.  Probably unlikely.  But a girl can dream, can’t she?