The Importance Of A Spending Fast

For much of my life, I have not wanted to deal with my feelings. Growing up as an only child, I really didn’t have to. While my dad balanced two jobs most of the time (he used to be a workaholic), my mom stayed at home due to her ailing health. I had my mom all to myself and she was my best friend. Whenever I had an issue or a problem or was just being a jerk, my mom was there to listen and fix it. It’s no wonder that after her death I found myself so lost.

I’m not a special snowflake but I feel things more than the general population due to a few mental health disorders I battle on a daily basis. For most of my life, up until recent years, I wasn’t medicated or in therapy. I dealt with things on my own or rather, didn’t. I became codependent, wanting to be obsessed with my partner. I gained weight because I loved food or more like I ate until I was numb. And I gave in to a shopping addiction because stuff was gonna make me a better person. I remember threatening to leave in a fight with my ex-fiancee and he threatened to take away my Tiffany & Co jewelry because he knew it would make me stay. Yeah, I’m embarrassed too.

I’m happy to report that while I can still be codependent, I am now in a loving and healthy relationship with a man I adore and who adores me too. While I gained an excessive amount of weight due to a thyroid issue, I don’t eat my feelings anymore. And while I still enjoy nice jewelry and things, I would never stay in a situation because of them. But lately, I keep wanting more.

Revalation

I want to buy all the things lately. It started with a shopping bender at Bath & Body Works. Next, I added a bunch of Halloween decorations to my cart that I didn’t need.  Then, I bought a ton of Stephen King books. Granted, I never pay full price for a book but did I really need so many? Fast food started showing up on my bank statement and so did extra pounds on the scale. I stocked up on snacks like they were going out of style. Last but not least, I caught myself trying to dress up my office wardrobe. I could use a few new things, mainly black flats and black cigarette pants, but I didn’t need all of the items I was ready to buy. It was until last week that I realized I was miserable.

I can’t get into all of the details about my revelation but maybe one day I can. All I know is that I was spending money and buying things to make me happy when that wasn’t going to do the trick. Isn’t that why a lot of us buy crap we don’t need or even necessarily want? Because one day it’s going to magically make us happy? All I ever want is to be happy and healthy and that really means dealing with what’s bothering me.

Am I Spending On My Happy?

I knew I needed to participate in a spending fast like Anna from And Then We Saved talks about on her blog because I needed to plug some money leaks. While plugging a money leak is like a band-aid, it gives me time to figure out what is really going on with the plumbing and why I am leaking in the first place.

This is why evaluating your spending is so important. Every time you swipe your debit card, you are voting with your dollars what matters to you. Is it living in a nice safe place? Or driving an expensive car? Does eating out help you feel better? Or does shopping at Target every week?

I am not saying spending money is a bad thing. Instead, I am a firm believer that you should put your money where your happy is like Sarah from Yes & Yes (one of the best blogs ever) preaches. But if you are spending money because you don’t want to deal with something, you won’t truly be happy. And if you aren’t truly happy, what’s the point of just spending money on stuff?

Sangria with the boyfriend makes me happy.

I’ll be continuing on my spending fast until the end of the month and then I’ll re-evaluate to see how I feel about my money leaks. So far, so good, but I know this weekend will be rough. My friends are all going to a taco festival and I’ll probably suffer from a slight case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Instead of wallowing, I plan on cleaning my house, decorating for Halloween and just taking it easy. I won’t be home the next two weekends so I plan on taking it easy while I can!

How do you determine what your spending leaks are? Have you ever participated in a spending fast?

Athena

 

Taking Care Of Yourself Is Not Selfish

This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

There have been numerous times in my life I have felt like I hit rock bottom. Or had really shitty years. One of my coping mechanisms in my life, when I am overwhelmed, is to self-destruct. And believe me, I am really good at self-destructing. I have lost jobs, romantic relationships, friendships and money. Lots of money.

But, I have also seemingly kept it together for the most part. I was able to graduate twice from college with a double major in criminology and criminal justice, a minor in LGBT studies and a study abroad program in Israel studying counter-terrorism. I’ve been promoted several times at work in the past four years. I’ve built a successful online business. I have my own apartment with my cat in a hip and fun neighborhood. And I travel. A lot.

But no one sees the days I struggle getting out of bed. The nights I mindlessly hit refresh on my Facebook app because I can’t be bothered to deal with anything else. Days when I’ve only had three hours of sleep. How dirty my house gets. My anxiety attacks when I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and what I feel is my failing health. The constant worry of being abandoned. Or how trying to find the silver lining in shitty situations is what gets me through them.

Mental illness looks different on everyone. Just because someone seems like they are functioning doesn’t mean they are. And it’s not weak to admit you need help. I couldn’t do what I do without my amazing team of doctors who work with me to help me find balance and relief. I couldn’t do it without friends that are loving and understanding, even when I have faults. And I couldn’t do it without my amazing partner of four years who has seen me at my worst and still holds my hand.

If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m here to cheer you on. And so are others.

September Goals

Ahh, fall is here. Or, if you live in Arizona like me, the idea of fall is here. I’m okay with that though, temperatures are supposed to be dropping next week by ten degrees and that alone will be bringing some much-needed relief.

Since my birthday, things have been pretty quiet except on the health front. I’ve been in and out of the hospital and doctor offices for radiation damage done to my salivary glands. I’ve been under going treatment for thyroid cancer since January and while my radiation was in March, I am now suffering from severe radiation damage. It’s very common with the radiation I had but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Basically, my ducts are swollen shut due to inflammation and a softball size lump can appear in five minutes.

I’m hopeful though. My doctors are amazing, my support system is amazing and my job is amazing. All have allowed me to focus on my health during this time and have respected my new boundaries I’ve been putting in place by valuing myself and my time. Keeping this in mind, I’ve set the following goals for the month.

  1. Continue working on my health. I have a lot of doctor appointments including my six-month scan. I have also taken steps to further cut the crap out of my diet and would like to continue on this path. I would love to be eating 80/20 by the end of the year.
  2. Deep clean my apartment. Since I declared my year of value, I have been cleaning out a lot of clutter from my home. I would like to finish and then do a deep clean.
  3. Enjoy time with my family and boyfriend. Being in a long distance relationship is hard but it’s helpful my boyfriend works from home and has a flexible schedule outside of the summer. He will be here for a few weeks so I’m excited to soak in time with him and both of our families while he’s out here. My niece is turning one and she is the absolute cutest.
  4. Read two books. In the middle of two books and would like to get back into my reading routine at night.
  5. Track all spending.  Financial blogger confession- I just got back on the “tracking your train” and boy, it’s been eye opening. I’ve become participated in lifestyle inflation this year and while I thought I was saving adequately and paying off debt, I could still be doing much more. It’s so easy to get caught up even though you’ve been working on good financial habits for years.

Hope everyone has a good September! Does anyone have anything fun planned?

Personal Values

I am a firm believer that once the universe, or God, thinks you are ready, you will start to see signs everywhere. And once I declared my value to the universe last Tuesday, I have been seeing signs.

Now, to everyone else, they might not seem like much, but things I have considered signs?

  • Social media articles.
  • Prayers.
  • Quotes.
  • Conversations where I was able to let others know I didn’t feel valued in situations.

And much more. It feels everywhere I turn, I am seeing signs of knowing my value. Needless to say, I am actually excited about having the idea valuing myself my project for the upcoming year. I always set goals and have achieved some of them, but I really never thought about the why behind what I wanted to actually accomplish something. For example, I always set a goal to accomplish reading 52 books every year. Why do I want to read 52 books in a year

For example, I always set a goal to accomplish reading 52 books every year. Why do I want to read 52 books in a year? Is it because I see others do it? Is it because I like the idea of reading a book a week? If I do like that idea, why? Is it because I want to compete with others or myself? I could really go on with inductive reasoning but the main reasoning behind setting this goal is A.) It sounds nice in my head. B.) I am sad at the thought I’ll never be able to complete my to be read pile on Goodreads and C.) I truly value the enjoyment I get from reading, both academically and recreationally. Not everything is complicated in life, but you can easily see how much someone can really dig into things.

A while ago, after reading my friend Jason Vitug’s book, “You Only Live Once,” I made a list of things I valued and was willing to spend money on. Such things included travel, education, health, and friends. While my list hasn’t entirely changed, I still have some ideas of areas in my life I would like to really focus on valuing the next year, while still valuing myself. It’s always easier to value things and people than valuing yourself and that is exactly the type of behavior I am trying to get away from.

Areas of my personal life up for consideration?

  • Health– I value my body & mind. I hope to live a long healthy life to the best of my ability by taking care of myself both physically and mentally. What can I do to help ensure this is possible?
  • Self-Worth- I value my self-worth. I hope to one day not rely on others to make me happy or unhappy and instead, make myself happy. I do not wish anyone to pay attention to me or give me an opportunity. I know I am worthy of attention and opportunities. If someone fails to acknowledge it, it does not make me any less of a person. What can I do to feel confident and happy in all situations?
  • Education- I value my education. I have honored this to myself by getting a bachelors degree for me. While this will help my earning potential in the long one, it is my biggest accomplishment to get up every day and focus for however many years it took me. Since I do not want to lose feeling accomplished, I will continue to read and learn new things, as it relates to both my interests, self-development, new cultures and my career.
  • Wealth- I value my bank account and there is no shame in valuing security. I value not worrying about money at night or how I can pay my bills. I value knowing that I have money shall an emergency happen and I know I am blessed and have money for food and other necessities and even wants. I am also blessed so I try to share when I can.
  • My space- I value myself and anywhere I spend my time. I value my home, my office space, and my car. By choosing to not clutter, decorate in fun and meaningful ways and keeping cleanliness, I am showing myself I value my space and comfort.
  • Fun- I value myself and allow my inner child to have fun. I value spending time with others but I also value spending time with myself. I value reading, watching movies and anything else that brings me joy and laughter. Traveling and experiencing new things is something else I value spending time and money on.
  • My Business- I value making a difference in others lives through my career and opportunities I can create for myself and others. I value educating others on things I wish I was educated on so I could have been more successful earlier in life. I know I have great ideas and compassion for others and I can help them like others can and have. I hope to share my wealth and ideas with an audience of my peers to help them as well.

I think this is a great start for now and now that I know my “why”, I am happy to get started.

What are you choosing to value about yourself?

 

The Year Of Value

noun: the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

Last week, I had the honor of celebrating my 32nd birthday surrounded by friends. I am totally blessed in that while I don’t have a lot of family (really just my father), that I have a ton of friends that I have picked up along the way. Not only did I get to see one of my favorite singers live with free upgraded seating for my birthday, I also got to spend the weekend cooking great meals with friends and going on outdoor adventures at a friend’s cabin up north. And then right before that, I spent a week on the east coast visiting my boyfriend. We partied at a Roger Water’s concert, ate great food and sharing with him my love for Stephen King.

My life is blessed and very full. I have worked hard over the years to design something I love and get to enjoy. I was complaining to my friends just last week I had wanted to take a sailing class but can’t seem to be home for longer than three weeks. A first world problem so filled with privilege if there ever was one. Truly, if 27-year-old Athena heard those words out of my mouth, she would have reached over and slapped her hard.

And while I have joy in my life, mental illness refuses to let me enjoy it sometimes. Old wounds I have spent countless time, energy and money on still haunt me. I have been in therapy off and on for years, and when I think I am strong, something happens that is not even the worst, and I spend days reeling from it. I had a tough life growing up and it still follows me around even though it’s been years. I still play out unhealthy coping mechanisms because it’s all I’ve ever known. And when I feel on top of the world, I can get wiped out in a single wave.

This summer, I have spent a lot of time trying to reel things in before they became worse. I knew it was getting bad again when I found myself in two situations that I should not have been in, saying things I still can’t believe I quite said. It was so out of character, even for me, with my personality disorder. I also found myself unable to concentrate and blowing opportunities that would allow me to take my business to the next level. It was like I couldn’t stop myself, lighting everything close to me on fire.

I’m still recovering from my cancer treatment and losing a loved one from cancer. I’m recovering from a professional failure and then getting even more bad news professionally, four times in the past two months. And I spend my life just doing the bare minimum to get by if it has anything to do with just me. I can’t bear letting others done but for me, I could care less. If you saw the disarray in my house, my body, and my finances, you would agree.  I had to ask myself why I was not truly giving things in my life my all. Why was I not showing any value or letting people know how bright I could really shine and letting the bad circumstances knock out all the hard work I do

Truth bomb: I don’t value myself. Yes, I was literally in the car crying to my boyfriend about my day at work when it hit me like a pile of bricks. I don’t value myself because of my past, which had nothing to even do with me. And I carry around immense shame, scared and terrified people will leave me again, like they did when I needed them the most when it had nothing to do with me. I was a serious people pleaser in my relationships when I was younger and I thought I had outgrown it but it instead manifested in different ways in my life.

Because I don’t value myself, I am never fully confident in anything I do. I never own anything and sort of just let things happen. Sure, when I am really motivated to do something I can definitely do it but I am only like that with my education. Why can’t I apply that to everything else? Because that was the one thing I was always good at, from a very young age. I already had learned how to do that before the shit hit the fan in my life and stuttered my growth in other areas. And because I haven’t been able to own anything, I am behind or not where I want to be, in a lot of aspects of my life. Because I don’t value myself enough to do the work to get there. It’s a hard and slippery slope to admit you don’t value yourself out loud. It’s hard to feel valued by others and like you matter when you yourself don’t think so. It’s hard for others to respect you when you portray it unconsciously and don’t take yourself seriously enough to be confident in your decisions. It’s hard all around.

It’s a hard and slippery slope to admit you don’t value yourself out loud. It’s hard to feel valued by others and like you matter when you yourself don’t think so. It’s hard for others to respect you when you portray it unconsciously and don’t take yourself seriously enough to be confident in your decisions. It’s hard all around.

So this year, I want to work really hard on adding value to myself. I want to show myself, really show myself, that I value, well, myself. I value my relationships and my cat but I value me too. I need to start valuing my health (both mentally and physically), my wealth, my space ( my apartment and car), my career, my business and own personal goals, by making them a priority. I already feel I value my relationships in life so I would just like to keep spending time with loved ones and offering space and understanding when it needs to happen. And this isn’t about them. This is about me letting go of the shame and knowing I am deserving of love, good, and light. I add value to this world and others in it.  And I need to recognize that.

May Goals

April showers bring May flowers but if you live in Arizona, it brings a lot of wind instead. Along with out first 100 degree day ( yes, it’s hot!), everyone’s allergies have been crazy but will hopefully die down soon.

April was also crazy expensive which has been my life story since the beginning of this year, with a lot of associated health care costs. I have good days and bad days still but have been feeling a lot better. I’ve been working on my diet and supplements and next month I would like to incorporate working out twice a week. I also spent a lot of time and money on my car Sophia these past few months but she is now ready for the year. On to the May goals.

  1. Work out twice a week. This month I’ve worked hard on adjusting my diet in an effort to feel better and I lost 3lbs. Along with setting up little 5lb weight loss goals I’d like to hit, I’d like to add working out back into the mix. I’m going to Puerto Rico this Christmas and would like to lose 5 lbs a month until then.
  2.  Throw away 10 things a day.  Last month I had to pack up a lot of stuff in my apartment so it could get treated by an exterminator due to no fault of my own. Said stuff is still bagged up and in my closet and dining room. I already gave away 3 bags of belongings and I’m hoping to continue on my decluttering streak. 10 things can be easy like 10 pieces of paper, items out of my cupboard I am not going to touch or bath products collecting dust.
  3. Stick to my blog calendar on MSL. This is going to be my BHAG goal for the month. I always have tons of ideas for MSL, my own little piece of the web but client work always comes first for me. It’s a quicker return financially and I really enjoy the clients I have. But, if I want my corner of the web to grow, provide more income and really be all that it cane be, like a place for Latinas to find the financial knowledge they need, I need to step it waaaaaaay up.
  4. Read 2 books. I’m re-reading IT this month and that’s over 1,000 pages so I’ll only be shooting for 2. This should be doable even with a lengthy book as I aim to read an hour before bed 4-5 nights a week
  5. Send out thank you cards. I’ve been slowly but surely gathering addresses to send out overdue thank you cards to people who donated to my fundraiser. Better late than never? ( Please don’t hate me)
  6. Tally up spending for quarter 1. You know I’m a financial nerd, I need to run my numbers and figure out how to pay even more to this medical debt.

What do you have planned for May?

 

March Goals

It seems silly to make goals for the next two and a half weeks since I’m late but I’m going to do it anyways. First up, a recap of February Goals!

  1. Really think about my week and plan it. Success! I am happy to announce that I have finally started planning for my health better! I joined a gym right before radiation and now that I am off my medical rest, I can start attending. Along with the gym, I’m allowing myself time for rest. 
  2. Eat as healthy as possible. Fail.
  3. Read six books. ( Self explanatory) Fail, I read 3.
  4. Catch up with clients. Success!
  5. Do taxes. ( self explanatory) Success!
  6. Organize my finances. Fail. I keep trying to do an online system and I just don’t like it very much. 

March Goals

  1. Get my car detailed and fixed.
  2. Start working on thank you cards. 
  3. Read 2 books. 
  4. Continue doing yoga 5 times a week. 

What is everyone else working on this month?

I Have Cancer

As long as I can remember, Google told me I had cancer. Headache? Cancer! Sore throat? Cancer! Needless to say, I stopped googling my symptoms as much as my curiosity would allow since it seemed to never be that serious. Meanwhile, I’ve been battling auto immune issues for the past few years and consistently felt tired, among other things. Hoping that the exhaustion would go away after I finished my bachelors, I was disappointed to find out that wasn’t the case. On the weekends, I could, and still do, sleep 12-14 hours to just feel normal again.

Back in November, I flew to the east coast for a week. I felt fine, good even, as I walked around New York City with coworkers and went hiking with my boyfriend on the Appalachian Trail. Sure I slept when I could (boyfriend let me sleep for 15 hours one day) but I felt like my exhaustion had finally gone away.

The next week, I found myself knocked out with what seemed like a random cold. I’ve had problems with my ears my whole life so when I had ear pain, I made sure to make an appointment with my physician. Spending Thanksgiving in Texas with my boyfriend and in laws did not sound like a pleasant time when I had a busted ear drum from flying which has happened before. After being diagnosed with a sinus infection and not seeing anything in my ears, my doctor examined my lymph nodes in my throat and was alarmed when she found two huge masses. Actually, to be honest, she said, “OH MY GOD DO YOU FEEL THOSE?!?!” and I burst into tears.

I can’t explain how I knew, then, I had cancer but I did. I was just unsure what type I had. Perhaps it was her reaction which she later apologized for, my constant googling of symptoms or just feeling exhausted all of the time but I knew. Chalk it up to intuition.

The next four weeks were an insane blur, trying to find out what was wrong with me. An ultrasound led to a CT Scan, which led to an ENT, which led to a biopsy, which led to an official diagnosis ( although three people had already said it was probably cancer) and then I had my consult with a surgeon who referred me to his partner. I cried everyday to my boyfriend who got used to talking to me about dinner one second and then watching me have a breakdown the next. Although I have to give props to everyone in my life, the real MVP is him, moving in for a month and a half and taking care of me when I needed it the most.

Cancer is rough. Not only are you ever prepared for it mentally, you aren’t prepare for the logistics either. My papillary thyroid cancer had spread so significantly, I needed an open neck dissection instead of a thyroidectomy. DO NOT GOOGLE IT. Along with more recovery time, I had a longer surgery and one tumor needed to be chiseled out due to it’s size and location. Basically, I had a golf ball lodged in between my artery and jugular vein. I had an amazing surgeon but he was expensive and wouldn’t operate until he had $2,000 down. No payment plans here.

After surgery comes radiation. That is in two weeks and I am busy preparing now by not eating any salt, dairy, red dye 40 and basically anything fun because I already don’t eat gluten due to auto-immune issues. Radiation is confusing in itself because it’s administered in a pill form and then I’m radioactive at home for a few days, isolated with the BF leaving snacks at the door.

Between worrying about my diet, radiation, medical bills and adjusting to a new life without a thyroid, an organ that does SOOOOO much, I’m exhausted. Some days I cry and can’t get out of bed. And then some days, I feel lucky that I have thyroid cancer and not something else. I feel grateful for all the support I’ve received from so many, from a fundraiser a friend did online to people buying me scarfs and bringing me food. I feel blessed I have good doctors, my cat and a partner who has done so much for me.

It’s a long journey with many ups and downs but a journey nonetheless.

February Goals

Hello 2017 and hello friends. I haven’t been around in a hot minute and I’ll tell you why, including a few more posts regarding how I found out, what treatment has been like and my ongoing mental state but in a few words, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer right before Christmas. 

It’s been rough, needless to say, especially since I feel like my body is in a never ending battle with itself due to all of my auto immune issues. In an attempt to feel better and to help my mental state, I thought getting back into a routine and blogging could do me wonders and you know how I am about my goals.

  1. Really think about my week and plan it. I really need to think about my health and my immune system at the moment and this includes planning out my week. I thought I would be okay jumping into my old life but my body is quickly shutting that down. So I need to make time for errands and time for rest. If I plan to go out, I need to stay home the next day. Basically, if I do anything, I need to make sure I can rest after.
  2. Eat as healthy as possible! I need to eat as healthy as I can. I don’t properly plan like I mentioned before and end up spending too much on take out and then feel crummy. So I’ll be cooking and packing my lunch and making sure I have snacks in my purse. I think this will help with my immune system as well. 
  3. Read six books. ( Self explanatory)
  4. Catch up with clients. I’ve taken time off and put a few on hold so I need to catch up and see what my services are looking like moving forward.
  5. Do taxes. ( self explanatory) 
  6. Organize my finances. I started doing this last month but got side tracked. I enjoy doing my budget and finance goals quarterly but I need to update it with new medical bills and expenses.

I think that’s about it! Just enough to keep myself busy and take care of business while resting. What do you have on the agenda?

 

October Goals

My favorite time of year is here, Halloween!

Along with October hosting my favorite holiday, I also enjoy October because that’s when it finally feels like fall in the Southwest. I can wear pants outside and not die, as well as drive my car without oven mitts. That’s what a cheap cost of living will get you, insane weather.

Along with fun plans such as H coming to visit for a week, an adult puppet play and a taco festival, I also need to travel out of town soon to be there for my second family. My best friend experienced a tragic loss over the weekend so I plan on making arrangements to be out of town later this week or next. Life is so short you guys. Make sure you hug everyone and kiss them and tell them you love them .

  1. Decorate for Halloween/ Fall. While I usually have my house ready to go by August 31st, I’ve just been so exhausted this year with my arthritis and other chronic conditions. I’ve caught up on some rest so I plan on decorating this week/ weekend. I love Halloween!
  2. Eat Paleo 80% of the time. After eating strictly Paleo for three weeks then falling off the wagon, I can now say that I can totally tell the difference IN MY BODY. I’m not as achy or sore, hungry or tired. I lost five lbs without even trying and was still able to have things in moderation or by altering them. Now, I will tell you it’s hard to eat Paleo. While my grocery expenses have happily stayed the same, I am cooking a lot more and have to really think out and prep my days. Can I grab something here? Did I pack snacks? Can I leave early to go to the only coffee shop that offers coconut or almond milk? It’s exhausting and frustrating when recipes don’t come out or I’m tempted to just stop by and buy fast food, my weakness. But, I feel better, so much better, that my cheat day will be Friday and that’s hopefully it.
  3. Map out all expenses for the next three months along with savings goals. I have a lot coming up in the next three months. Not only am I traveling to NYC for work, I’m also going to Texas for Thanksgiving and have Christmas coming up. I need to figure out what my expenses will generally be and also how I can still save. And then, student loans are finally coming due. That’s another total budget buster! So, it’s important to budget and plan as much as possible. As Lauren Greutman said in her book, The Recovering Spender ( which I will have a full review of next week,) you need to stay in your fence. The budget is your fence.
  4. Read 6 books. Still desperately holding out hope for my Goodreads challenge this year.
  5. Get ahead at least one week in all client work. Self explanatory.
  6. Find an additional client. Self explanatory.
  7. Start my blog business plan outline. Now that I’m back from FinCon and have found some motivation, it’s time to sit down and actually do it.

What are everyone else’s October goals?