Monday, July 27, 2015

Interesting Encounters

I think I've mentioned I pay attention to signs from the Universe, or what I perceive to be signs.

I recently had two encounters that have left me kind of bewildered, confused, amazed and somewhat humbled.

I recently traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to spend time with my mother. The first leg of my flight home to Burbank, California was delayed over three hours in Atlanta due to weather. We eventually landed in Phoenix, Arizona just as the last flight of the day to Burbank was taking off. With moments to spare, I was re-routed to Los Angeles International Airport, a large and bustling airport, some distance from my house, unlike the quiet, local airport in Burbank.

Once on the plane, I sat next to a friendly woman who asked a favor of me as we began to push back from the gate. It seems she gets a bit anxious at times, and that if she did show signs of anxiety, she asked me to simply have her put her hands above her head, and to remind her to breathe while telling her, "You will be fine." She also asked me to lay my hand across her upper back, while calming her down. She asked if I minded doing a dry run, before the plane actually left the ground to familiarize myself with the procedure.

And so we did.

She thanked me and assured me she would be fine during the rest of the flight.

She then asked me, "Are you a healer?"

"You mean as a doctor?"

"Not necessarily, your hands, as soon as your hand was on my back, I felt a strong calming energy coming from them. Do you practice Reiki?"

I told her I did not practice Reiki, but was on a Shamanic path, (which admittedly, I haven't done much with, lately).

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully; after all, it's barely a one hour flight, which gives little time for events to unfold. We talked of our spiritual journeys, she's into Reiki and yoga. And I explained a bit more about Shamanism. We talked of our families, our jobs and prepared our seat backs and tray tables for our final approach into Los Angeles.

"That explains it," she commented. She also saw teachers as healers as we help heal our students since we nurture them while in our classes.

We deplaned and wished each other well as we went on our separate journeys.

And I thought nothing more of it. Except to recall that two of my totems are representative of healing. The Bear with its ability to hibernate to look inside for its own answers to questions, for self-healing. The Snake, a symbol of caduceus-the medical staff, sheds its skin to reveal a new entity underneath, a transformation. And then filed the encounter away as an interesting anecdote on this trip.

This summer, I finally decided to do something to get out of the house and get healthier; at least, physically, which in turn, might help emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I started taking yoga classes. I tried evening classes which might fit into my schedule once I start back to school in August. However, one particular day I had to take a morning class as I had scheduled something in the evening.

I must say, I do not do morning classes, if I can help it. When school is not in session, I love my long, luxurious mornings at home, I have my rituals after all, and this class was at 9:15 in the morning, with at least 30 minutes to drive, park, check in, change, gather the props and begin to center myself for the class. I kept debating on going or not. I mean, I could always do some Sun Salutations here at home. Yet, getting out of the house was also a nice idea. But, to leave at 8:45 having showered and eaten at least two hours before class... Oy! As I naturally wake by 5:30, it wasn't impossible, but I still wanted to lounge around the house until I decided to get started on my day.

But, I pushed myself...and went anyway.

I arrived at the studio, checked in, staked out my spot, unrolled my mat, and placed my water bottle and towel to the side.

"Have you taken this class before?" asked a tall, slender woman, approximately my age, who was setting up her spot near me. "I don't know what props to get."

"No, I haven't, but I just get everything. Like the Boy Scouts say, 'Be Prepared.' Or the Girl Scouts, 'It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it'," I said as I walked to the prop area.

"Ah, good advice. Were you a boy scout? What about a girl scout?" She laughed jovially as she followed me. "How did you learn that?"

"No, just a Cub Scout. And I picked it up somewhere, I forget." Some more conversation went on as we gently stretched, and brought ourselves into the moment and into the room.

A few moments later, the instructor entered and began introducing herself to the new members in her class, and privately inquiring about any injuries or health considerations she should be aware of so she could modify the poses as we went.

When she came to me, I mentioned I suffered occasionally from vertigo and always from arthritis. After some discussion (No, I don't get dizzy in Downward Facing Dog) she offered me some suggestions on the vertigo- keep a focal point when you are steady, and move your head slowly possibly keeping your eyes closed as you move into different poses.
Downward Facing Dog

As the instructor went on to the few other class members, my neighbor offered her insight on my vertigo. She suggested finding a chiropractor who specialized in a certain treatment for vertigo, as one particular nerve in my neck could be pinched and causing the vertigo, especially if I've been in a car accident which I have, twice.

She also said something which threw me for a loop "You're also a Highly Sensitive Person. That can have a lot to do with it. You see, I'm also an HSP and have dealt with vertigo for years."

How'd she know? It's not tattooed on my forehead...

Coincidentally, I've been reading many articles on Highly Sensitive Persons and identifying with the definitions...

Highly Sensitive Persons tend to
  • avoid strong stimuli- bright lights, strong sounds, strong smells, coarse fabrics.
  • get rattled when we have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
  • make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows.
  • withdraw for a period of time on very busy days.
  • enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds or art.
  • feel emotions more deeply.
  • have been labeled as shy or sensitive by parents or teachers during our childhood.
This list is incomplete, and not necessarily all of the attributes of an HSP. And like most personality definitions, there is a spectrum corresponding to the different attributes.

As far as the list and I go, I don't necessarily avoid bright lights or strong sounds, okay, maybe that's why I don't go to bars and clubs, much. I will admit to not being fond of burlap, but don't avoid it. It depends on the strong smell- if it's more odoriferous than fragrant, I might avoid it, but I burn scented candles daily which addresses the fifth point. Teaching has taken care of the second point, and I will avoid violent movies and programs. I could go on, but the one thing I do avoid is crowds. Not because of a fear, but too much energy around it. Being around that many people can be exhausting.

And yes, I feel my emotions more deeply, both the positive and negative ones leaving me overwhelmed at times.

And, yes, my teachers did label me as sensitive and shy as a child. I was actually in a "Special" class one year, which was designed for "sensitive and quiet" children. I was never actually assessed, it was simply a question on the application for the school. My mother checked the 'sensitive/shy' box and I was placed in this class.

What does this all mean? Well, evidently I'm a highly sensitive healer. Maybe my life is getting ready for a new direction. After all, retirement is only a few years away...

Hmmm, a yoga instructor?

Yet, there is a quiet unease about this; after all, shamans are healers in their respective cultures. And as I met my different totems, and realized their different meanings, I grew uneasy. Bear and Snake are quite powerful totems in the Shamanic world; as are a few of my others; Swan- a symbol of spiritual awakening, Lion- courage and strength. Ferret is quite rare as a totem, and symbolizes keen attention to details, also a trait of an HSP.

Spiritual paths are difficult to walk, especially if one is new at it and if the path is very different from one's current, or previous, understandings. (I grew up in a conservative Christian home.) Receiving signs, suggestions and teachings from Animal Spirits doesn't fit into the traditional Western mindset very easily.

Besides, change is never easy.

One of my therapists and I are working on one simple goal:

To trust in the process...

So, it's not so simple for someone who has to have answers. And have them NOW!

But, I need to work on it...

Baby steps...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Turning Points

I believe I've mentioned once or twice before I don't believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason. And at the time they're supposed to happen.

April 2015 has become a turning point for me. As did September 2010 when my husband emailed me his decision wanting a divorce. Thus began a long healing process for me.

Three things occurred this month.

After years of stating I wasn't looking, not wanting a relationship, suddenly I find myself already in one. I think. It's still unclear where we're headed, but we're exploring whatever may lie ahead. And that has caused me to stop, take a breath and wonder when did it happen?

But, the two biggest events that happened this month are somewhat related. Okay, very related.

When my ex left, I kept the house, the furbabies, and my personal debt. I knew I had to keep the house for the sake of the furbabies, but I couldn't manage my debt and keep the house and furbabies. So, I turned to a debt management company who did just that. They took over my debt and managed it. They negotiated with my creditors to come up with a payment plan, and I sent my first payment in November 2010 with the plan to be debt free within five years.

Over the last five years, I witnessed my progress of paying down my debt and eventually watching my various accounts being paid off. With my final payment approaching, I arranged to send the payment a week earlier than scheduled. Why not? I mean, the money was already in my budget and I was getting antsy. I wanted this done. And, what's more, this final payment to this final creditor was now actually less than my regular monthly payment due to the rollover process- as creditors were paid off, their portion of the monthly payment was rolled into another account, thus accelerating the pay off. So, I arranged to send the payment to the management company on a Tuesday, and when I checked my account on Thursday, I saw the payment had posted and had been sent to the creditor.With this last payment to the management company, they were saying I was now debt free, and my dashboard on the website was changed to read "Next Payment Amount: n/a". Yet, we were still waiting to hear from the actual creditor, once the payment posted on my account with them.

On arriving at home that afternoon, I found a check in the mail from an insurance company who claimed I had been paying for a portion of a premium they had canceled a few years before. They discovered this error when auditing their books. The refund check even exceeded the final payment amount I had just sent to the management company! I felt like the Universe was saying, "Congratulations! You've done a great job, the last payment is on me and here's a little extra!"

The second major event to occur, coincidentally deals with financial issues. My school district and union have been negotiating a new contract as we've been without one for over eight years. Things had been escalating, to the point of strike talk. It's all posturing, I know, but that's the reality of labor negotiations. Having taught for thirty-two years, I've been through many negotiations, and only once did it lead to an actual strike.

The week after the final payment posted to the management account, I got an official email saying they considered me to be debt free as, according to their records, I had paid off my accounts, though we were still waiting for that final word from the final creditor, which we then got the next day, and that last credit account was finally marked 'inactive.' On Friday, the very same week, the district and union came to a tentative agreement which includes a salary raise higher than the union's last demand. And  a portion of the increase is retroactive to the beginning of this school year!

I find the timing of the two financial events to be somewhat interesting, coincidental, freaky. I get an official notice that I have paid off all my personal debt and no longer will be making payments to the management company, and the very next day my district and union settle for the first decent raise teachers in my district have seen in over eight years, after having had to endure pay cuts. It seems my finances are really turning around.

Perhaps the Universe is simply rewarding me for the struggles I've been through. And now, I can truly move forward.

I'll simply take it, and not say anything.

Except "Thank you."

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An Unexpected Teacher

If you look into the heart and soul of any relationship- be it a friend, a family member, or a potential romance- you might find yourself. Or, at the very least, you might discover pieces of yourself.

Sometimes, you may discover those pieces slowly over time, over the duration of the relationship.

Or, BAM! They may hit you upside the head like a two-by-four.

And that two-by-four hurts. Badly.

I’m still smarting from it; yet, very grateful for the encounter…

…and for the relationship itself that led to the encounter with the two-by-four.

... and to the young man on the other end of this relationship.

About four years ago, shortly after my divorce, I joined a few gay social (okay, hookup) apps to try and make some friends. I wasn’t trying to hookup and when I realized what was going on, I ended my memberships. I’d met a couple of men via them, some of them decent, nice guys. But, most of them were after one thing only, even if I said I wasn’t.

A young man messaged me on the last app I was on and we began chatting. At first, I was a bit resistant; as he was very young and my gut reaction was he was looking for a daddy, if not a sugar daddy. I thought he was cute, but wondered why he wanted all those facial piercings and stretched ears. As I didn’t want to be a daddy in the biological or gay senses of the word, I was guarded, but interested in what he had to say. After all, just chatting can’t hurt, can it? So, we kept chatting. Soon, he made his move and suggested fooling around. As there was over 1,000 miles between us, I didn’t see how that was possible, nor was I interested, so I politely declined. And he respected my wishes, and he never brought it up again. So, we continued to just chat.

Further on, he shared an intimate secret with me. He had a substance problem. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay, yet something held me back, something wouldn’t let me leave. After all, I reasoned, he was so far away and I could end it anytime I wanted. After all, just chatting can’t hurt, can it?

As we continued chatting, now almost nightly over the first year, I began to look forward to them. They helped ease the loneliness. Sometimes the chats would be superficial, about our days at work, or sometimes he shared his escapades with me. I kept asking myself, “Why is he telling me this? We don’t know each other, it doesn’t matter to me what he does.” Then it hit me, he was hurting, reaching out for help, whether he knew it or not. I offered what support I could not being a trained drug counselor, and I felt I did my best, if not more than I should have. He tried to go clean, but shared each relapse.

I took each relapse hard, I was very hurt. I had failed him; I wasn’t doing enough to help him solve his problems. He had rejected me. I told myself to leave each time, but still I couldn’t. And still, I couldn’t understand why. What kept me tethered to this young man who was causing me such pain?

As we chatted over the years, he shared with me some of the lyrics he wrote. I saw something in them. I saw glimmers of hope. Then I saw it, deep down he wanted to come clean. And maybe the Universe brought us together for me to help him get clean, to help get him to his destination, to help him continue his journey. This was either a grave responsibility laid on me, or would be merely a byproduct of our friendship. Either way, it was very humbling if that’s what the Universe saw in me.

At one point, he was arrested, and put in a drug treatment program. He went because he was forced to, being court ordered and because he didn’t want to go to jail. I tried to keep him upbeat about it as we celebrated his 30 day, 60 day, 90 day, and six month progresses

We also shared moments in our personal lives. He shared dates he went on, I shared about my divorce and the emotional and financial aftermath. I would share the few dates I went on (if they indeed were dates) and he shared his breakups. We talked about our coming out, our dysfunctional families, how and why he turned to drugs, and why I never did. We talked about the suicide of a potential boyfriend of his, the death of his baby brother, and the passing of my beloved dog and cat. We were there for each other.

He graduated his treatment program one year ago, and has remained clean since. We have continued chatting, and we both have enjoyed discovering who he is becoming; a talented young man, full of strength and creativity.

Yet, through it all, I was discovering someone else.

I was discovering me.

I have discovered, and come to accept, I am not responsible for his, or anyone else’s, actions. If he chooses to throw it all away and use again, it will be his choice, and as long as I know I helped as much as I could; I could (and would, this time) walk away with my head held high. Though I would greatly miss the dear friend he has become.

I have discovered that if, in the middle of a chat session, he suddenly disappears and I don’t hear back the same day, it doesn’t mean he’s discovered someone better than me who may want to fool around. His phone simply may have died, or he simply fell asleep. I’m learning not to take things personally nor make assumptions.

But, the biggest discovery of all, was that I had to go through the pain of his relapses. I had been reading a book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change, by Pema Chödrön, ©2012, Shambhala Pubs., when the two-by-four hit.  Pema Chödrön, an American born Buddhist nun, writes in this book that, according to Buddhism, we have a fixed-identity where we see ourselves as either good or bad, worthy or unworthy, this way or that way. People show up in our lives and they either just help us along, i.e., our friends, or they challenge us in how we see ourselves, i.e., our ‘enemies’. I never saw this young man as an enemy; yet, he has challenged me on how I see myself. In fact, he has challenged me more than anyone else. I came to see I was a caretaker, a fixer of people. Yet, I could not take care of myself. And that was why I couldn’t let go of him, he wasn’t fixed yet. However, it was I who wasn’t quite fixed. In learning to not take care of him, I was learning to take care of myself. And if I didn’t learn this lesson, I would be stuck in that emotional logjam until I did, if ever. And that was why he was brought into my life, for me to learn this about myself through our relationship.

And the beauty of this is; we have talked about this. I have shared this lesson with him and he lets me know when I’m either taking care of him or not taking care of me.

I have also shared with him I was no longer hurting when I thought he might be tempted, but was now afraid for him that he’d start using. The pain of my help being rejected had now turned to fear he’d start using again. He suggested that I be afraid, that I own the fear, that I let it dissipate over time, not to rush it. And that he learned that lesson from me. It stings a little when your words come back to you.

It seems we both are learning to communicate with each other.

Needless to say, we have grown quite attached to each other. Facing emotions he has masked with drugs for so long is very frightening for him yet, he is taking that step. I’m proud of him. I am facing emotions I have masked with fear, yet I am trying to take that step. He says he is proud of me.

We believe we were brought together for a reason, or two. Where life will take us, we are not sure.

People come into our lives for a reason. Some stay for a day, others for a lifetime. Yet, some stay for only a season.  I hope we continue this journey together for a long, long time.

I’m very proud to call this 22 year old man in recovery my friend, and I’m very grateful to have learned this valuable lesson about myself because of him as well.

And I’m grateful we can continue to help each other on our respective journeys and that the Universe has brought us together.

After all, just chatting didn't hurt, did it?

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Albatross

They say seeing is believing.

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, a sailor kills a friendly albatross, and as punishment, is forced to wear the carcass around his neck. This gave rise to the phrase of 'an albatross around the neck' being used as a metaphor representing psychological or emotional burdens often seen as overbearing, or as a curse.

I've had such an albatross hanging around my neck these last few months, though at times it felt more like an anchor weighing me down. The value of my house went up this last year, and with that, so did the property taxes. In fact, the taxes are the highest they've been since I bought my house eleven years ago. I've been cutting out any unnecessary expenses as I've been trying to save every penny to be able to pay the new taxes. I've also been concerned about whether my income tax refund would be enough to help with the property taxes, and if it would come in time to avoid penalties.

Come tax time, I gathered all my documents, scheduled an appointment with my tax preparer and waited anxiously for the (hopefully) good news. In the end, I was getting a decent refund, meaning I'd get enough for my taxes and have some left over. Now, all I had to do was wait for the actual money to be deposited into my bank account, so I could actually write the check to the county tax collector.

Within a week (!) of my preparer filing my forms with both the state and federal governments, the refunds from both sources were deposited, the check was written and mailed off. Now, like an anxious child waiting for Christmas, I'm waiting to see that the check has cleared the bank, and the tax collector has certified my account as 'current.'

While in my head I know I have paid my taxes, and I realize it's just a matter of time for the system to catch up and I know my other financial situations are improving, I just can't let go of this dead weight that has been hanging around my spirit weighing me down.

How do you let go of something like this? I know my situation is changing, and yet, I'm not in a place to accept it, to feel the impact it will have on my life; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I've even created a spreadsheet of what my monthly finances will look like once my debt management plan is over. It looks wonderful. So, wonderful in fact, I'm beginning to make plans on what to do with the increase in my budget. It's hard to imagine that I will be in that position, soon.

Maybe it's because I haven't seen it yet. I haven't seen the evidence my check has cleared the bank. I haven't seen the evidence on the tax collector's website that my account has been stamped 'current.' I haven't seen the evidence that my payment to my debt management company has been stopped. I haven't seen the evidence that my bank account is growing.

But, I know I will. Maybe that's when I can let go of this heaviness.

 And then I can feel that my albatross is finally gone.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

That Sinking Feeling

It's beginning to sink in.

I'll be debt free soon.

Except for my mortgage, that is.

I'm watching my progress on my dashboard at the debt management program's website where I'm enrolled. While I am embarrassed to state how much I owed before, I am proud to say I have paid off 96% of  that debt. One more account will be paid off in a month, and the last one the month after that. Visually I can see the progress as they show a bar graph with one bar showing what I owed when I started, and the second one showing what I currently owe. I love watching that second one shrink! I often check in on the website just to give myself a boost when I'm having a rough day.

I share my progress with some very close friends who congratulate me and I beam with pride, yet I can't quite internalize what I've accomplished even though I'm watching my progress.

And yet, I'm writing down lists of things I need or want to accomplish, once I am no longer sending that payment.

I need to:
  • clean or replace the upstairs carpeting;
  • replace the dishwasher and stove;
  • redo the front flowerbeds and back garden;
  • buy new pots to transpot my houseplants;
  • attend to small household repairs;
  • rebuild my savings.
I want to:
  • continue to make my mark on my house with artwork and other furnishings that reflect me;
  • replace the curtains in my office as they're faded and need replacing;
  • replace the curtains in the guest room to match the other drapes upstairs as I have a theme going;
  • replace the living room sofa as my dogs ruined it;
  • replace my camera;
  • replace my laptop;
  • update my wardrobe by replacing the clothes that are worn out or stained;
  • live a little! Okay, maybe live a lot!
I think the fact that I'm making lists is proof that I know where I'm going, I know what's happening. And that's good.

I think the fact that I can't feel good about the success is a bigger issue. And that's not so good.

I think that comes from never feeling good about my successes before, because they were never acknowledged for what they were, "Very good, but you can do better."

I just don't know how I can do better than paying off all this debt. On my own.

Well, I can do better by learning to better live within the means I will have, while making the necessary purchases I need and want, yet not all at once. And by truly asking myself if it is a 'need' or a 'want' and if it's a 'want', can I live without it? Then act accordingly.

I can also do better by taking time to just sit with the emotion I get when I start to see what I make of my house and as I see my bank accounts grow. In other words, as I make each repair or purchase, just sit and reflect on the fact that now I can do it, I can make the necessary repairs, or desired purchases.

And then appreciate it.

I'll just take it one step at a time.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Oxygen Mask

I did something unusual this past week.

I took a sick day.

Yes, I really was sick. I rarely take them, even if I am sick; which is rare, anyway. My district gives me ten days a year, and they accumulate over time. One of my former principals once advised me to save them as we never know what may happen in the future, i.e., hospitalization, severe illness, etc. When my first partner died, I used three weeks' worth as bereavement, since my district didn't recognize same-sex couples then. Ever since then, I've been collecting them, yet taking only one or two a year for mental health. As a bonus, if I have enough days saved when I retire, I can cash them in for extra service time, meaning I can either retire a year earlier than my current target and get one more year's credit for a full 37 years credit, or retire as planned in 2020 and get one extra year for 38 years. So, there's a plus to not using my sick days.

I do see the need to take them once in a while, at least for my mental health, if not for my actual physical health. This class has been exceptionally challenging this year. It seems each class has been more challenging than the prior since my ex left me. Maybe it is no coincidence; after all, my divorce has turned my life upside down-emotionally, mentally and financially, so as I'm coping through the changes, I'm not as 'on' my teaching game. My colleagues tell me otherwise. The students are just getting more challenging in their behaviors, and that my class is indeed a 'unique' group.

It's very stressful to take a sick day, planned or not. I need to make sure my lessons are up to date, I try to have everything ready for the substitute to make his/her day as easy as possible. Plus, I like to find a substitute I can rely on. In my years of teaching, I've encountered many substitutes who are very competent, as well as a few who leave a bit to be desired. I hate returning after taking a sick day to find out that the substitute didn't cover any of my plans and I have to reteach what I left for him/her to do, or that my class ran all over the substitute. I like to have a regular substitute or two who get to know my students and who my students get to know. It's easier for all concerned. Therefore, I keep a list of my preferred substitutes. It took me a while to find one, as many of my preferred substitutes were unavailable for the day I wanted, a Monday, as I guessed a few other teachers wanted to extend their weekend. But, eventually I did. So, I called the Substitute Office and reported my absence for Monday.

I've been feeling down a lot lately. A number of things have contributed to my feeling down, and ultimately to my getting sick. I've felt overwhelmed with all the changes in my life combined with the difficult class I have this year, the general workload that accompanies teaching and the continued demoralization of the profession. I must have looked so bad that when I walked into the faculty room yesterday, a friend told me I looked like I was about to implode. On top of all that, a number of friends have shared some of their concerns with me and like a good friend I've tried to be there for them. And yet, there's one friend I've ignored a lot lately.


Once I got over the fact I was actually taking a sick day, and ignored the actual cold I had, as well as the teacher guilt: will my class be okay? Did I leave enough work for the substitute? Will he survive? I knew I'd done the right thing. Yes, physically, I still felt miserable, but I knew my class was in good hands, though I feared they would they run roughshod over him. But, isn't that what he's being paid for? To manage their day and try and maintain my educational program?

A friend once reminded me of what they say in those airline safety demonstrations, "If you're traveling with a small child or someone else who needs your assistance, put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others."

So, I slept some more after I woke up to phone the school telling them I wouldn't be in; then, I read a bit, I wrote some, chatted with a friend, read some more, wrote a few more lines, continued chatting, took a nap, forced gallons of fluids, and noticed my general mood beginning to elevate ever so slightly.

I actually felt better emotionally. As this was a Monday I was taking off, I'd also slept and rested most of the weekend which contributed to my physical improvement. Yet, the one day off from this class did me a world of good. Okay, maybe a small world, but it felt good to take the day. For me.

Maybe I'll use my oxygen mask a couple more times before the end of the year. Just don't tell my principal.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Money and Self-Image

It's odd how one thing can affect your self-esteem. 

Like financial issues.

I recently blogged about the approaching turning point in my financial struggles. In May of this year, I will have paid off all my personal debt from before my divorce.

Paying off this debt, taking care of my dogs and cat, and managing to pay all the bills, including the mortgage- both before and after refinancing, while living alone has been a struggle. There have been times I've barely made it to the end of the month. But, I've learned I can be as frugal as I need to be. I've learned I have to do what I have to do in order to survive. No, I haven't necessarily enjoyed it. I've given up or seriously altered my spending habits, like my Yankee Candle obsession.

And at times I felt utterly defeated by it all. Even though, I knew I was doing all I could, and still managing to carry on, I was merely surviving. I wasn't enjoying life. I wasn't living. Depression was all around me. 

I even began to feel undateable. 

Yes, I could have found a roommate to help (and I tried, but no one seemed interested) but would I have learned to be as self-reliant and frugal if I depended on additional income? Would I have learned to appreciate my success? Probably not.

So, when I saw the end in sight and a bit more financial freedom, I felt a huge weight begin to lessen, that is until...

I got hit with a big car repair to the tune of an estimated $1,500 on top of the second installment of my property taxes and car registration, both due in April. I was counting on my tax refund for the latter two, and the repair threw me for a loop but I've also learned that whatever comes along I can handle it, maybe begrudgingly, but I'll get through it.

I did what I needed. I sold some securities I'd had for a while. I hated to, but I had no choice. The repairs ended up being less than what was expected and I ended up with a bit extra from the sale.

Just having that little extra began to lift my spirits and my self-worth. I felt like going out, or buying myself a little present. Or something for the house. I even began to glimpse the master bathroom remodeled, or see my back yard as a drought-tolerant California-native-plant-filled garden rather than the overgrown weed-filled eyesore that it is. But, I did nothing as the major expenses were still coming due soon. 
So, I just put it in my savings pending the outcome of my tax return.

And in time, I will achieve all what I want to achieve.

So, with the little extra money in my savings account now earmarked for something I have to take care of, my spirits have temporarily sunk once again.

But, it's very interesting how much we can tie our self-esteem to our financial picture. With the deeper breathing room I'll soon have, maybe everything will begin to turn around, and I'll actually feel like meeting people.
Or gasp! Actually date someone. Maybe.

After all, I still have my trust issues to overcome...