giving away your power

Everyone does this at one time or another. I’ve done it through some of the most difficult periods of my life and I watch people around me do it all the time. How does this phrase resonate for me? Giving away my power happens when I’ve been hurt in some way so much that I obsess or fixate on the event or the person who I perceived to have caused harm and I give away the good within myself in order to devote it to negativity and darkness that ultimately overtakes me. When you give away your power, you are at risk of losing precious moments of your existence that you will never get back.

This has been on my mind so much lately and how much it really gets in the way of living. I originally approached this from the angle of what happens when I do give away my power, then I flipped the script. When I DON’T give away my power, I:

  1. Avoid the pain of assumptions. It’s ridiculous how many stories I can make up about a person or a situation. Every which way I look at it, somehow I’ve lost the most, when in reality, I am usually better off. When I make assumptions, I have no idea about the facts of a situation and I’ve closed off any opportunity to learn them. I create unchecked fairy tales and lose moments of my life to pain, sadness, and a false sense of control. I don’t want to lose another moment to assumptions.
  2. Stay connected to the people and things that make me happy and fill me up. When I give away my power and fixate on something or someone that hurts me, all the things I love to do and people I enjoy spending time with fall to the wayside and I spiral. It’s counterproductive to a full and positive life. The one I would rather have – where I am present with my kids, friends, and family, rather than giving away that precious time to a demon in my head.
  3. Bring joy rather than misery to my relationships. When I am out of control with my own pain and feelings, I try to control everyone and everything around me and in the process, I drive people away. I can wish all the evil in the world on someone and even lash out at them (reference the famous saying: hurt people hurt people) but when all is said and done, I am hurting myself the most. I don’t want to spread that poison to the people around me.
  4. Make sound decisions. When I fixate on something so much it overtakes good judgement, I can end up doing things that are out of character or have long-term implications for myself or others. Not giving away my power increases my ability to make good decisions and stay grounded in what’s important.

Although it is much easier said than done, it only makes sense for future happiness and peace of mind to heal and move quickly through these events and away from the people who conjure up these negative feelings and exert this power over you. Life reflects back to what you are giving to it. Don’t make the mistake of giving away your power to others.

the changes are coming

The other day I was walking past Noah’s bedroom and I heard a grown man on the other side of the door. A bit shocked and curious, I opened the door.

“Who are you playing with??”

He gestured towards the monitor and was equally confused by my shock.

“It’s Joe, momma.” (Not his real name – “Joe” is a longtime friend of Noah’s who I hadn’t laid eyes on since the end of this past school year).

“Why does his voice sound like that?”

Noah shrugged. I shrugged. What had happened to Joe? Most of Noah’s closest buddies still have that crackly in-between voice that’s not quite boy and not quite man. Joe sounded like he drove a one-ton pickup and had killed his own breakfast that morning.

More than any kid I’ve ever met, Noah definitely has his finger on the pulse of puberty and body changes. A good friend of mine thinks he’s headed for the field of obstetrics and gynecology. She’s convinced he will be the most knowledgeable and compassionate male ob/gyn ever. Fortunately, at this age, he is still thinking about paleontology and geology, not vaginas. He is truly a cool kid when it comes to these conversations. I can talk to a lot of people about a lot of things, but when it comes to the topic of puberty or sex, I imagine I look like most of Noah’s peers when their mother brings up those things. My eyes get wide, I start stuttering and I freeze up. Reference my responses to the 69 questions:

“It’s a year. A Bryan Adams song. From the 1900s. Ying Yang symbol. Some weird math in a new song by Ariana Grande. No, I have no idea why your friends are talking about it.”

One day as we were driving back from school, Noah shared that he found his uncles disturbing.

“Momma, I know what happens when babies are made. I’m so disturbed that Uncle X, Y and Z have kids. Do you know how those kids happened?”

“Yes, I do. Isn’t that wonderful that your momma didn’t have to do that disturbing thing to have you?” I felt very undisturbing for the moment in his eyes. One benefit of the donor process. Noah wouldn’t have to associate that disturbing event with his existence.

“Yeah. Sheesh. Wow,” he says.

Not long after that conversation, one of his friend’s mothers asked me if Noah was bringing home any school work from their reproduction classes. She said she had been interrogating her own son and he refused to share anything with her. I asked Noah. He disappeared into this room then returned, displaying large color drawings of the male and female reproductive systems, with correctly labeled anatomy (the child can’t spell “didn’t” but he knocked “fallopian tubes” and “clitoris” right out of the park).

“Do you mean these momma?” He asked proudly.

I shook my head and rolled my eyes. Who knew my son would be a reproduction system nerd? “Yes. Those.”

Seriously, this has been great. Most of my work is done on the technical education piece. We watched puberty videos together. I preferred the ones made in India. Very modest and general, focused on hair growth and the Adam’s Apple. All of this is still very scientific to him, with no shame and embarrassment. I consider myself very fortunate because I ended up not being that cool mom who can talk about anything.

get your s#*t organized, and don’t forget to enjoy the present

I hired a personal organizer a couple of months ago. I had always been led to believe that this was a luxury for the rich and famous and I needed to figure out how to clean up for myself. It’s not. Organizers are pretty reasonable. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart though.

The woman I ended up hiring was the only one who actually came and looked at my space, and then followed up with an estimate I couldn’t refuse. I was ecstatic. I was going to pay an organizer to recreate my space in lieu of a spring break vacation and my kids were happy because they don’t like to leave the house. I could not have anticipated the trauma that would ensue.

She brought two other people with her. I came to know them as the “New Girl” (mine was her first house) and the “Empathetic One” because every time I tried to remember their real names, I got them mixed up and they would correct me. Over and over. Until I started to feel really stupid. They each took a room in my house, minus the kids’ rooms and my living room. My job was really just to stay out of their way. Until I came across the lead organizer dragging a huge black hefty bag behind her and basically swiping things off my window sills into the bag. My anxiety forming quickly, I stopped to ask her what she was doing. She said she was throwing away what she thought was trash. Meanwhile, the Empathetic One was pulling down every picture and kid drawing on my refrigerator just behind her.

Here’s the deal. The organizer and her crew were not bad. They did a good job. Their work helped me start to think through how to organize things and since they came, I’ve been good about putting things away from the spaces they organized and keeping window sills and counters clean. I just didn’t realize the impact seeing my kids’ goofy, half-finished art projects being tossed or packed away would have on me. After they left that first day, I cried. Even after the lead organizer promised not to remove anything from the house. The huge black bag STILL sits in the corner of my dining room, waiting for me to go through it. Right alongside a bag with the kids’ first twin bedsheets in it (Lightning McQueen and Hello Kitty) that I can’t seem to haul away.

They came back again the next day and I cried some more. The Empathetic One was kind and acknowledged how difficult the process could be. I was glad the lead organizer showed up later, I would have been horribly ashamed if she would have seen me crying over handmade votive candle jars that were broken long before she had arrived and spelling tests saved from kindergarten (the last year my son would spell anything accurately forever).

Looking back, I would do it again. There are still rooms in the house that need serious help. I realized that I was not necessarily attached to the things, but more attached to an era that I would never see again. The era when the kids were small and innocent and sweet and created things with their whole heart and soul. A time that I took for granted while in the midst of, and sometimes even resented as a single mom. In a way, the organizing project caused me to stop and really take notice of the moments the kids and I have together, and to enjoy them, or at least sit in them. Sit in every moment, good or bad, because it is part of a period what will never come again. It taught me that worrying about work, or meeting the right person, or how I’m going to manage the upcoming year’s activities and driving, are really not the things I need to obsess about. That is all easier said than done, but sometimes I am able to achieve that state of present living, which is entirely peaceful.

getting older

It’s a lot scarier than I ever thought it would be to get older. I can’t see small print without glasses anymore, and my mind is definitely not as sharp as it used to be. I don’t remember names of songs or bands I’ve listened to for decades. I often wonder how these old men keep getting elected as president. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I know people are still brilliant when they are older, but it seems that the time it takes to process information and recall things from memory gets a little slower.

I spend a lot of time analyzing my skin in the mirror. I know it will never look better than it does at this moment. Working out hurts more, injuries take longer to heal. I’m more exhausted than ever before. I seriously have a different type of medical appointment almost every month as part of regular maintenance. I recently took my car in for an oil change and listened to the “advisor” in a shirt and tie at the fancy dealership I went drone on about service milestones at 48,000 miles, 60,000 miles, 90,000 miles and I thought about my own doctor appointments. How will I keep things straight between services for my body and my car? Do I schedule a colonoscopy at 50 years old or 48,000 miles? Is it time to get my brakes or my eyes checked?

Old age in this country seems frightening. If I live that long, I don’t want to be driving around when I’m 86, getting flipped off or cussed out when I get confused about when to make a turn (honestly, this is already happening), or running down to Walmart to pick up a prescription. I don’t want to be doing any of this even now at 50. By nature of the fact that I had my kids at age 39 and 40, most of my mom friends are in their 30s now. Sometimes when I’m talking with them, my mind drifts off to when I was their age. Busy traveling the world, finishing up my graduate degree, getting divorced, dating a few psychopaths, crying a lot, and finally thinking at age 38 that it might be nice to have a kid one day. It wasn’t necessarily the best time of my life and I don’t really miss that decade.

I have a precious few older female friends who have had colorful lives just like me and they are amazing, doing incredible things, and inspiring me every time I’m in their presence. They don’t talk about their physical and mental slowness or pains. They don’t focus their efforts on finding a companion due to some irrational fear of being alone. They no longer obsess about whether they are building a healthy and happy foundation for their kids or just screwing them up for life. They are just…free. I want that.

If Bedtime Sucks One More Time, I Will Eat Your Ears, One More Time

I posted the following back in 2016. As I scroll through my early posts, I’m reminded how much I used to laugh and how (almost) everything the kids did had some hilarious quality to it. We all seem more serious these days, we laugh a little less and a little less hard. My daughter will probably be taller than me within a year, and my son, who refuses to eat anything beyond lentil soup and fruit snacks, may not be. But they are both getting older, and quite honestly, we are all less funny. I’m just as lame now as I was back then with dealing out consequences. Along with giving everyone -including my children- too many chances, I’ve also convinced myself that everyone -including my children- is good at heart and has my best interests in mind and would never try to pull one over on me. Not true. This post brought back great memories though, and made me laugh hard tonight. _______________________________________________________________________________________

I am a sucker for second chances, third chances, fourth chances… In every aspect of my life. Naturally, my kids had this figured out in the first 48 hours they were on Earth. And instead of decreasing my tolerance for chance giving, I choose to stress out and create more ridiculous consequences in my mind, hoping one will resonate with them. This has resulted in the generation of outlandish and creative consequences by my children as well, particularly my daughter. Recently, our conversation went like this while returning home from school.

From the backseat: “Momma, I want chocolate milk.”

“Sweetie, I don’t have any chocolate milk with me. You will have to wait until we get home.”

“Momma, if you don’t give me chocolate milk right now, I will chew off your face and poop in your eye.”

Our conversations often go like this. She makes her request. I decline the request. Some possible responses I will hear:

“If I don’t have my bapu (pacifier) right now, I will throw up.”

“If you don’t let me go outside right now, I will eat your ears and then leave you forever.”

“If I can’t have candy right now, I will freak out and you will be sad.”

I have begun to realize that she is randomly compiling the stuff she hears from me when I am at my wit’s end, and she is rearranging it, adding her own flair. As I get more tired, more exasperated, my responses to bad behavior start to deflate, and resort to primal, animal-like responses. I don’t recall threatening to chew off her face, but I might have used some combination of these words? My chances go on, I don’t nip things in the bud, and now I’ve created a little girl who will threaten to poop in your eye if you don’t give her what she wants. 

As I write this, I look over at her lying on the bed, laying there, watching me, sucking intently on her bapu, with a calculated look in her eyes. If I give her more than a furtive glance, she will try to woo me like a siren at sea, breaking into “You are My Sunshine.” We are at the close of an extremely long bedtime saga this evening. Lots of stuff has gone down. My son brushed the dog with his toothbrush. My daughter announced and cheerfully made two trips to the bathroom where she made faces at herself in the mirror, lifted the toilet seat cover up and down several times and flushed, all without actually going potty. There were several incidents of pinching. Noah practiced counting up to 100 and backwards to 1 while Neelah belted out “Jesus Loves Me.”

I issued several verbal warnings. The warnings started out promising. “I will separate you.” “You will lose TV in the morning.” But the kids’ violations just didn’t seem that serious, not serious enough to follow through on with real consequences, and so I just kept throwing more stuff out there and I got more tired of reminding them to quiet down and go to sleep. I figured that I might outlast them and they might tire themselves out. And they finally did. There is probably a better way. I keep telling myself I have to choose my battles and their bedtime behavior isn’t really that bad. *Sigh.* There will probably come a day when there is a showdown, and the one who leaves with his or her face intact will be the winner.

I Love Hot Moms

My son and I toured a potential school for him recently. I had been trying to prepare him in the days leading up to the tour and took another swing at it about an hour before we left.

“What questions do you have for the school counselor?”

“None.”

“I don’t think you’ll be able to make a great decision without more information about this school. Let’s think of some questions.”

“Do they have to take showers after PE? Do I have to wear a gym uniform? Can I wear my shorts to PE or do I have to change them? How big is their gym?”

Wow. Bottom line for this kid: All that matters is that he can go to PE year round.

“You know, I’m not sure how much PE will prepare you for a career once you’re done with school.” I was starting to sound like my parents.

“Do they have recess? How long will I get to eat lunch?”

We arrived at the school at our scheduled time and he decided to wear his mask. He really wears it everywhere, even on individual outings with his mentor. Normally it’s fine, except that he already speaks quietly when he’s not in a shouting match with his friends during video games and so the mask makes him impossible to understand.

“Blurgh fum ruf foo worpurun moor?” He asked as we pulled up, driving into the school entrance going the wrong way, per the counselor’s instructions. I turned and glared at him. He pulled down his mask.

“Can we go in another door? There are too many kids at that door.”

Buddy, get used to it. The seventh grade here is about 6 times bigger than your current class. We trudged into the school, announced our arrival, and waited for the counselor. All the staff in the office lobby had little signs on the edge of their desks saying “Yo hablo Espanol.” The woman we checked in with tried to make conversation with Noah.

“What’s your name?”

“Mowah.”

“What grade will you be in next fall?”

“Zebeth.”

She smiled, she was so nice and trying so hard. I really admire school staff everywhere I go these days. They are certainly a lot friendlier and try a lot harder than I remember back when I was in school. The counselor came out and introduced herself to us and we started the tour.

The first thing we passed were lockers. Which I knew was a criteria for Noah. If a school had lockers, he was already partially won over. Lockers and year-round PE pretty much sealed the deal. Jerry Maguire – you had me at hello. Noah had probably already decided he wanted to go to this school less than 60 seconds into the tour. We were both impressed by the size of the school. He was certainly going to get his steps in. The highlights of the tour were the band room and woodshop. The band room was more of a highlight for me.

“Is he interested in band? What instrument does he play?” The counselor and band teacher looked at us, curious. I did the very thing I’ve been trying not to do lately and spoke on Noah’s behalf.

“He has an expensive trumpet at home so he’s interested and he’s going to join band.” Wow. I’m awesome. Noah smiled under his mask. Yup. I just committed 50% of his available electives time. In woodshop they were making miniature pool tables and Noah decided then and there that woodshop was going to be an elective for him. We finally made our way back up to the office where we passed two eighth graders. A cheerful girl in a gym uniform and a boy wearing a black hoodie that read “I love hot moms.” I was already making a list of people in my life that I could get that sweatshirt for as a joke. I laughed out loud. The counselor smiled and gave me a sheepish look. “We have to choose our battles here.”

By the time we left, Noah felt pretty certain that this was his future school. I even felt some peace about it. He even managed to ask his question about showers after gym, to which the counselor responded that the showers are currently storage for tables and they use lots of deodorant there. Sure, it was going to add about half hour to my already long drive time every morning, but it seemed worth it, year-round PE and all. Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling well by the end of the tour so we went home and he stayed in his room all day, doing origami. I had a snake in a box, a parrot, and two cell phone holders made by the end of the day. Sweet.

sensitive conversations

If I had a dollar for every time my kids asked me what 69 means over the past year, I would have at least 69 dollars. At least. You would think that they both attend school with several sex-crazed pre-teens. Or perhaps just kids with older siblings who keep them in the loop on such issues. My daughter is the worst because I can always anticipate when these conversations are going to happen: when we are going somewhere in the car alone together. My son just randomly popcorns sex into conversations.

“Momma, do you want to hear a fun fact about penises during puberty?”

He loves the reproductive system. He was his 5th grade classroom’s best pupil and he always wowed other parents with his openness to discuss puberty and reproductive issues while their own children froze with a pleading look in their eyes whenever the topic came up. All I can say is that I’m glad he always initiates these conversations, because I’m not the cool parent I’d thought I would be in conversations about sex. But that’s another post for another day.

My daughter on the other hand – I squirm. Because she doesn’t provide fun facts or tell me why baby boys get boners when they get their diapers changed, she asks tons of questions. For the purposes of this post, I will use the name “Jane” for female classmates and “Fred” for male classmates. I would use Dick (i.e. Dick and Jane? Remember them?), but that might get confused with content somewhere.

“Mommy. Fred moans in class all the time and the teacher tells him it’s inappropriate. Why does she say that?”

Me: “Well, what kind of moan is it?”

“I don’t know.”

I run through a handful of different moans. None of them are exactly quite right.

Me: “Well, I’m not sure then. But if your teacher thinks it’s inappropriate, then he shouldn’t be doing it.”

“Fred and his friends always asks me if I have any cookies. Jane tells me I should tell him no, otherwise he is going to bug me all day. I don’t like it when they do that. It’s annoying. What are cookies?”

I’m really not sure about this one. I’m assuming it’s inappropriate since it’s coming on the heels of 69 and moaning and that these boys are not looking for baked goods.

Me: “Are you friends with these boys? Maybe you should stop hanging around them unless they behave more appropriately and you feel comfortable. I don’t think a friend would ask you those questions.”

(Well, I might not have been that objective and articulate. I’m sure I wasn’t. Probably more along the lines of “I don’t know what they mean but they are gross. Stop hanging around them.”)

There were other words, slang terms, that came up. Ones that I’m even too modest to utter publicly, and having been based for several years in a police department for work, I can say a lot of things without shame.

Soon, I’m going to resort to some sort of question box like my son had in his classroom, and both me and my daughter can write our questions on pieces of paper, fold them up, and stick them in the box and my son can answer the questions once a week.

10:15 on a Monday Night

Day 5,468,901 of the pandemic…my kids are in bed early (10:10 pm – I know the doctor has repeatedly told me that a 9- and 10-year old need more sleep) and I am sitting here wondering if I should a) do early Christmas shopping (is the end of November early? My definition of “early” is pretty loose re: kids’ bedtime), b) continue watching “Away,” my current Netflix favorite about a mission to Mars starring Hilary Swank or c) keep reading a mystery series I’ve been into lately, where most of the scenes are set in a cozy house in a Quebecois village and always involve warm croissants, homemade jam and a Scotch. Decadent. I’m reading mystery novels for the food and drink escape. Or I could just keep sitting here listening to my kids through the wall talk about how they would spend Robux if they had it – this is a currency in their favorite video game. My son has fallen asleep mid-sentence and my daughter continues to talk…they remind me of an old married couple. My daughter sings random songs from TikTok while my son sleeps. There is no such thing as going to bed early for my daughter.

How are we holding up after the first week of remote learning? Not sure. I’ve never spent so much time at home in my life and I’m one of those people who gets out quite a bit still. Now the kids are locked at home with me and each day is a blur – I’m typically tied up with work all day long and they are back and forth grabbing really crappy snacks that I leave in a basket on the stove (fire hazard). I really feel for everyone out there these days. I probably have it pretty decent given the circumstances, and every day it can be challenging to keep my head straight and remain optimistic. I’m determined not to have the shittiest holiday season ever – I don’t like this time of year and each day I wake up, I start with my pro-holiday mantra of “this is going to be the best holiday season ever!” and “at the end of this week, it will be one down, one to go.” Yay!

If you are reading this, I hope you are hanging in there too. I am available to listen, change your flat tire, bake you some cookies, or buy you a coffee. Just reach out. 🙂

Solo Mama: If You Have Recently Awoken, Please Stay Awake

I’ve been writing posts in advance so I have content to publish regularly. My post for this week was supposed to be about mental health and pandemic environments, but it felt weird to let it post this week.

Everything that has happened over the past couple of weeks, the awakening that started when George Floyd was killed…so many people finally tuning in suddenly realizing how out of whack things are, even though they’ve been out of whack long before any of our lives began. People wearing t-shirts saying “Black Lives Matter” and studying up on white privilege. I’ve been waiting for these past couple of weeks for most of my life. For all this to matter and to finally hit peoples’ radars on a large scale.

I hope this lasts. Personally. Please see the depths of this. It’s not about police brutality. It is about a very broken way of life and a broken society. There are at least two reasons we should not place policing at the focus of all this.

First, when things go wrong, we look for someone to blame so we don’t have to look at ourselves and take accountability for how we have contributed to the issue – oppression, racism, privilege, opportunity (or lack of), etc., and what we can do differently at the most basic level as an individual.

The second reason, from a justice perspective, is that if we only pay attention to the front of the system, then we miss the accumulation of disparity – like a giant snowball of injustice – that occurs once people get past that first gate. Did you know that there are 5 black people for every 1 white person under some type of supervision in our justice system? There are 3 Latinx/Hispanic people for every 1 white person (and that is severely undercounted due to our poor ethnicity data capture in our justice system). People of color are less likely to make bail during the pretrial period. They are less likely to retain adequate defense. More likely to take poor plea deals. More likely to be sentenced more severely than white people accused of the same crime with the same criminal history (sometimes even less of a criminal history than their white counterparts). They are less likely to be diverted to programs the prevent further involvement in the system. Less likely to be sentenced to a treatment court that focus more on treatment of substances or mental health rather than incarceration. More likely to have their probation or parole revoked due to technical violations (as opposed to new crimes).

In our current system, this means that even if a populationally proportionate amount of people of color to white people enter our justice system, they still will experience disparate treatment at every stage of the process.

That’s just one aspect of our society. Looks for stats in every segment of our society, private or public sectors. Look for underrepresentation of people of color in our corporate executive leadership, the number of people who fall out of hiring pools because they have “black” sounding names, look at health indicators (look at who COVID 19 is hitting in disproportionate numbers), morbidity and mortality rates, high school graduation rates…

Oh – there is also intersectionality to consider. What is intersectionality? Think of these as layers of a person’s characteristics that either cause them to be more or less advantaged in society. Race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression are all examples of characteristics that, when layered on top of each other, can make life easier or harder for an individual in certain circles. Google KimberlĂ© Crenshaw to learn more about intersectionality. She coined the term more than 30 years ago.

Finishing with my beginning thought. I hope Black Lives Matter is not a trend. I hope people stay grounded and don’t fall into an “us versus them” mentality in regards to any group of people (which seems to be the trend on all issues over the past couple of years).

Finally, I hope people stay awake, stay curious and stay introspective.

Quarantine is a Great Time to Start Budgeting

I can’t find a lot to laugh about when it comes to personal finances, so you may find this post lacking a little in humor. I am very thankful to be working and I realize not everyone can say that. I will say that budgeting has been at the forefront of my mind now more than ever.

With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I have found some extra cash in the following areas these days: gas expenses, car maintenance, eating out, fancy coffees, clothing, personal care, and childcare. The only category I’ve seen skyrocket is my grocery expenses, but if I factor in all the eating out and fancy coffees and just shift this over to grocery expenses, it evens out. Here are a few things I’ve done to manage money over the last few months:

  1. Use a budgeting app. I actually started this last fall and it has literally become one of the most important things I do every week. I enter all my expenses for the week into my budgeting app (I was doing it more often when life was normal and I was shopping more) and keep track of what I have left to spend for the month. I also listen regularly to personal finance podcasts.
  2. Pay minimum payments. My job isn’t at risk at the moment but anything seems possible these days. Therefore, I am saving whatever I can (not much), and just paying mimimum payments on debt I have.
  3. Indulge once in awhile, because what else will help me keep my peace? My indulgences over the past few weeks have included good shampoo, a Netflix subscription, gas for long drives, tequila, and coconut protein powder. That last one is weird, I know.

I’ve never been a huge debt person. The first time I experienced really bad debt was when my dog died a few years ago. Her kidneys were failing and I didn’t realize that I couldn’t save her. I visited the vet at $3,000 per visit to help ease her pain and to prolong the inevitable failure of her kidneys. I was ready to spend anything to save her and kept throwing these visits on my credit card because I didn’t have $9,000 in savings. Looking back, I will never regret trying to help her, but being almost $10,000 in credit card debt was pretty devastating to come back from with all my other expenses.

It took me a LONG time before I realized that sticking to a budget was going to be the only thing that would help me improve my financial future. Having a budget has been less restrictive than I thought, and I can’t believe it took me 48 years to follow one…