Passion not Panic

Almost nothing is so urgent that it requires an absolute split second decision. There is time. Time can be our friend in most cases.

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Chatting with a colleague friend yesterday I uttered the words “the decisions I’ve made recently have been borne of panic not passion” and a moment of clarity ensued.

I desire to live a life of passion, to passionately pursue my goals and to enjoy my 72 free goes around the Sun. Continue reading “Passion not Panic”

The surprise benefit of being free of bad debt

To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

I am pragmatic.  I decide to talk about positive things.  I believe we either talk and act ourselves in to or out of a happy life.  However I don’t care whether the glass is half full or half empty.  I know how much water is in the glass, I know what I am working with on any given topic.

So the benefit, or even blessing, of being unshackled by debt during a period of potential financial constraint is a superb comfort and reassurance.

Like everyone, I have income and expenditure.  Thankfully I was blessed with the moxy and ability to get out from under a serious financial burden in the tens of thousands of pounds range and reset the financial accounts to “we don’t have a lot but we’ve paid our taxes for the benefit of the country and what we do have is our own” as we paid down every debt we’d been left with.

When guaranteed income is in jeopardy we start to look closer at the expenditure side of the spreadsheet.  It has been one of the few delights recently that unlike previous times either house or income is at risk, this time I am not carrying a negative financial legacy like an albatross around my neck.

I have to find a way to generate revenue to cover our modest living expenses but I don’t have the worry of paying for things on instalments, I don’t have the worry of credit card debt, I don’t have the worry of consumer spending spread conveniently on an unreasonable monthly payment at an exorbitant APR.  I just have to make sure that enough comes in for Mortgage, utilities and groceries.  That’s it.  That is far less of an ask than carrying the worry of paying for something I bought and used up two years ago.

Being in this fortunate situation brings a degree of peace, a calmer disposition than I would otherwise have had.

It also frees me up to be flexible with regard to the future opportunities I can pursue.  I don’t have to find a position to cover Bills and Debts, I just have to find something to cover Bills and anything else is a bonus.  That is a freedom for which it would be hard to quantify the optimism and relief felt at the moment.

I am the head of my household and the responsibility sits on my shoulders.  Until you’ve been the head of the household you have no idea what so ever how heavily that mantle sits on the shoulders.  It is completely and utterly different to being the 2nd earner.  Head of the household is like being an Adult Plus.  Nobody is going to bail you out, you are it.  The buck stops at your feet.  The responsibility for keeping everyone in your abode alive, sheltered and fed sits with you.  Once you get the hang of it, it starts to sit easier a little but the knowledge in the back of your mind never actually quite goes away.

If I could wish for you one thing, it would be the freedom of being bad debt free.  It is worth the blood, sweat and tears, the overtime, the going without for a while, the humble birthday and holiday presents, the dinners in rather than takeaway or restaurants, the forsaking holidays in the sun or snow to reach the goal of being without that burden.

Bad times come for such are a part of earth life and mortality.  To not be shackled to yesterdays worries so that we can fully face todays challenges is a beautiful gift.

 

I Hate Sausages

I hate sausages.  There, I said it.  The food item is what I am talking about.  I buy a sausage roll to eat the pastry and discard the meat, I buy a sausage in a roll (a different thing to sausage roll) just so that I can have a warm bun and ketchup and throw the sausages away.  To be fair, the cheaper the sausage the better it taste but the less you want to think about the contents.  I eat sausages at home because it is cheap food and we are still of the pile it high sell it cheap variety right now at this phase of our lives.  I could never enjoy living in Germany or Poland, purely because of the culinary choices.  But I surely hate sausages.

Wasted Saturday

A wasted Saturday is a rare and glorious gift to ourself.

It seems that I am good in company at the moment, feeling genuinely cheerful and happy to be in social situations just chatting or dancing or listening to buddies, but am plunging in to worry and anxiety when alone when there is nowhere else to run from myself.  Feeling emotionally breathless is absolutely rubbish and I recommend it to nobody at all, not even my worst enemies.  So, Saturday my daughter and I took a day off of everything, absolutely everything.

When I’d awoken before dawn I realised that I could afford to get a bad day out of my system as I wasn’t required to be anywhere particular this weekend apart from Sunday Services.  I had a two A4 page of Honey-Do’s I’d written for myself, each line being a tiresome project which needed completing in the house preferably before winter falls. And I couldn’t face it.  I was close to tears, on a Saturday! What a waste of tears.  I determined I was not going to cry on my own time!  Instead, I was going to be still.  I was going to ignore the day as long as I could.

My teen padded in to my untidy room around midday and flopped on the bed.  We conspired together that we deserved a complete day off having run ourselves ragged for years.  It was exciting to be in this together.  We chatted a while about books we were reading on Audio because we’re both a little dyslexic and I’d rather listen to a book than struggle with text and so would she.  We’re both perfectly capable of reading but sometimes for recreation we just have someone read the darned book to us.  It feels like cheating but what is the point of technology if you can’t use it to enhance your experience of literature and make available that which you wouldn’t have tackled without the electronic intercedent.

After a while she padded off again and I settled in for more breathing.  Breathing is something I’ve taken for granted all these years but of late my glorious mind keeps trying to trick me that there is insufficient oxygen in the atmosphere.  Stupid glorious mind…

So, I lay there in my unmade bed and breathed.  Then when I’d done that for an hour or so I took a nap, then listened to a show and then breathed again.

I was roused only by the offspring’s enquiry as to what was for dinner.  Without said offspring I would gladly have spent all the hours until the next day in my room, but I’m contracted to care for the kid so up we got and a dinner of beef burgers and pasta was rustled.  Then, relocated to the living room, I sat and breathed some more until I realised it was now 2am and I really should go to my untidy room to breathe.  Brushed my teeth and toddled off to my chamber for some more breathing.

Is it me, or did somebody really turn down the oxygen supply in the atmosphere?  Asking for a friend.

Somewhere between here and infinity

If all your peace of mind is gone, and is replaced by hypothetical money worries, you need to speak with your friends.

Don’t you love friends who talk you down from the emotional ledge?  (The correct answer is yes, yes we do love those friends).  I’ve been using much of my spare time to ponder next steps now that we are in the privileged position of being in credit for the first time in almost ever, and for the first time since becoming a fully fledged adult taking care of adult responsibilities.  For clarity, it’s not much in credit but there is a plus sign not minus on the ol’ bank account and that’s a good enough start for me.

When I was working toward bringing credit agreements down to a zero balance, there was a definite goal, a specific figure had to be reached for that to be successful, there was a stopping point.  While the task was immensely difficult, the actual ability to quantify the required outcome was simple.  Keep paying for stuff until there is no more to pay.  Reducing to a nought.  Simple to keep straight, eh.  If there was more than a nought on the balance of the credit agreement, I wasn’t there yet and had to keep going.  Simple.

What has had me vexed is the next step.  The next baby step.  It has kept my mind occupied while I pondered, cogitated, and strategized.

Now that the little number is increasing there is no ceiling, no natural end goal.  Numbers go up to infinity plus one as any clued up 8 year old will tell you.  It vexes me because there is no way to know how much is enough.  How much will we need to have set aside to get by in the next month, year, few years, decade, until retirement or until the end of my natural life.  There is no figure.  It will always be too little.  It will always be more than we had.

With no natural end result my mind has been in a spin.  It has in actuality been quite a little more difficult than dealing with paying down credit.  At least if we had almost nothing we knew what we could do with our little porridge pot.  At least if the money ran out we knew or at least hoped that we had food storage and petrol in the car and the bills were paid.  Although awfully difficult, there were specifics and I am a lady who loves specifics.  I need to know the end from the beginning and if I don’t then all merry emotional hell breaks loose.  Uncertainty does not sit well with me, never has, likely never will.

So, all merry emotional hell has been breaking loose as a consequence of feeling somewhat untethered.  Which is ridiculous.  How can success make a person uneasy?  It’s daft.  I felt like a fool.  I’d met a target, a stretch target as we like to say at work, and yet I was managing feelings larger than before I started.

Anyway, with a sky’s the limit, no end in sight, don’t know how much is enough mind-set I wasn’t feeling very settled.  Until in walks a buddy called Sinead, who herself was hot on the heels of a friend called Mel.

When I was in a tailspin and worrying out loud “what if the roof falls off?”, Mel had quizzically looked at me and said “you have house insurance”.  I slapped my forehead, of course I have insurance, of course if there is a disaster at the home not of my doing and that I cannot fix myself I can rest well knowing we are covered.  It soothed my troubled heart.  That worked for a few days.

Then I went on to fretting on the topic of “how much is enough to have set aside and when do I need to have it by?” because bills have due dates, don’t you know!  I was and still am in a due date mentality.

After confiding in Sinead in the corridor at Church between classes (sorry, missus!) who had only congratulated us on getting to where we were, she came up with the plan of having an account with a specific goal or figure in mind, like £500 for example, and when that is achieved, that is full.  I’ll have done it, it would be completed.  Then open another goal with a slightly increased figure in mind, work toward that and when that reaches the pre-determined figure, I’ve succeeded in that too, and it is done.  Then do it again and so on.  Effectively, we cannot determine the future but we can set goals and work toward them and tick them off when they are completed.  Is this making any sense?  Add a finite factor to an infinite problem.

It had the immediate impact of settling my troubled heart.  How simple.  How insightful of her to realise I wasn’t faux-probleming and that this really was a big deal to my family.  To both these ladies I doff my hat and say thank you in writing as well as in person.  Complex worries had simple solutions, these ladies comprehended the worries and helped by suggesting ways through.  How beautifully hearted of them.  Aren’t they lovely?

I was told a few years ago that someone perceived me to be a Solution Oriented Optimist.  Someone who could see the genuine problem, review, decide, act and stay positive when possible and even stay positive when highly improbable but never deluded.  Their opinion of my was a surprise because I knew what went round in my head at pace to get to the Solution they saw in front of them.  I think this experience over the past couple of weeks has fallen in to this category, without my friends I couldn’t see the solution.  They helped me peep through the fog of worry.  A fog which was of my own making but real to me none the less.  A solution has been formatted and we are making great headway.  Thanks for listening while I got this out of my head and on to electronic paper so to speak.

Prepping: Water outage

I have a slippery landlord.  Very slippery.  Right now, with a cracked cistern in a 1 bath house and no water he is holding us hostage with the invoice to replace a poorly fitted, old and broken WC before they’ll replace and fix and turn the water back on.

For clarity, we officially have no piped water for sanitation, food prep or drinking.

We are impeccable tenants, we maintain the home, we hire window cleaners, we garden, we take in parcels for the neighbours, we pay the inflated rent on time every time.  In the dictionary where it lists “Model Perfect Tenant” there is a picture of me.

The idea that somebody could hold me hostage for water is shocking and despicable.  I have discovered that it takes  more than 30 litres a day to wash your body and to flush and to get one drink each.  30 LITRES!

What the landlord may or may not have been ready for is water storage.  We’re rationing like crazy but Mormons got the water storage thing going on a strong game.

So, who blinks first?  This is about to get interesting.

 

+++++++++++

5PM UPDATE:  We won!!! (so far, anyway)… without continuing to make a fuss the landlord replaced the equipment and turned the water back on while we were at work.  We discovered the great news upon returning home today.  I could hear the office maintenance guy rolling his eyes on the phone yesterday evening (eye rolling and “whatever” attitude is so loud) but all’s well that ends well and the showers and taps are now operational.  They apparently viewed my video this morning chatting about how the plumber had mentioned the cistern was not attached to the wall correctly and there was too much give and play which caused the crack and leak and were a little easier to deal with once their hostility subsided.  Me to them “In the nicest possible terms, we have no sanitation, could you confirm when we will have access to sanitation please?” was apparently a reason to become terse.  We won!!!

Prepping Made Easy, Next Steps

Time to inventory what we have and plan for what we need for a one month supply. Just payday to payday.

I wrote recently about how a water outage inspired me to get back on the preparedness horse.  It’s been a week or so since I last did anything that would count as productive in this arena so tonight is the night.

I’ve just been paid.  I have to do a grocery shop this weekend.  Now would be a good time to find out what I have vs. what I need to be ready for a month – excluding Fresh Fruit and Vegetables.  In case of Emergency, I figure we can deal with Scurvy as a secondary concern!

So tonight I shall INVENTORY our foodstuffs.

Then I shall knock up a quick meals plan and see if we would have the required ingredients to meet that.

Whatever I don’t have which could be bought in one shop is what I need immediately.

If they have BOGOF (buy one, get one free) sales on the products I’ve identified as being a requirement, I shall pick up the spare and put it in the “storage” section.

I’ll also pick up a few bottles of water and set them to the side.  I have water purification tablets now, but if you have no water it’s difficult to purify anything! 🙂

I have a tiny kitchen with only two small cupboards for storing food and cooking implements.  I’ve been keeping an eye on “dead spaces” as I’ve been walking around our house and I have found a lot of places that with minor and reversible tweaks, because it’s a rental, we can have places to put and easily rotate our provisions while keeping them out of sight.

I’m getting excited.  Can you tell?