I was clocking in at work the other day when one of my managers approached me and some of the other employees about Girl Scout cookie season.
“I bought several boxes, you three want any?” she chirped.
In my head I was thinking, “I make cookies that are way better than anything a Girl Scout can make,” but what I said was “No, thank you.” She glanced at me suspiciously and I added, “Girl Scout cookies aren’t really in my budget right now.”
She looked a little offended before she said, “They’re only $5. I don’t think that’s gonna break the bank.”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes before saying, “I don’t think you realize how little I’m living off right now.” Which then caused her to launch into a spiel about how many years she was a single parent, and how many jobs she worked at the same time, and how tight money was.
How I am still afloat on this part-time job income is beyond me. When you add up rent, utilities, gas for the house, internet, insurance of all kinds, medical bills, car care, various living expenses, and food+car gas, my logical brain says… There is NO way that this math is gonna work out… and yet I persist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fighting through the jungle for a full-time, higher paying, salary job – that’s some security I long to have at the moment – but for now this is the income that I’ve got until I pick up another part-time or finally earn a full-timer.
And somehow I’m 26 and don’t have a single credit card. Yes, I know how important credit is. I’ve heard all of the lectures. But for now…in this moment I’m enjoying the fact that I paid for my own education, and my car, and my stuff. I have zero debt. And even though my cash flow charts don’t exactly have the numbers I would like, the reality of having no debt to lug around is real real nice. It’s a feeling I recommend experiencing. That’s the reason I could take off several months without income to travel at the end of last year. #worthit
Anyway, the point of this post is not that debt-free-ness is awesome (although, I’m all about that Dave Ramsey life. And I made it to the 5th of 7 interviews for one of his Marketing positions before they decided to terminate the position I was applying for. Poo.). The point is that I grew up around wealthy kids. And I grew up wealthy. And having a low income for a while has shown me that I can live off little and still have enough and still take care of myself and still be happy.
Ok, so I’m still working on that happiness part. With my other jobs, I got used to buying whatever I wanted. And booking flights whenever I wanted. And buying Whole Foods groceries. That’s not in the budget anymore.
BUT SOMEHOW my income is sufficient for my needs. Maybe not for my wants, but for my needs. And all this got me thinking about my expectations.
Yes, I want things to change. I want a different job. I want to use my brain at work. And I want to have a higher income to more comfortably support myself, but in this moment this is what I’ve got. This is the reality of my situation. And I am trying to get myself to remember that EVERY situation has awesome parts and sucky parts. Right now money is tight, but right now I have the lowest stress job ever, the people I work with are decent human beings, I get exercise at work, and I can take time off whenever I need it. In the future if I land at one of the corporate offices I know there will be more stress, less control over my ability to move from my desk during the day, and a strict vacation time policy. There are always tradeoffs.
Every decision I make will come with a “poo sandwich” so to speak. It’s that yucky part that comes with each decision and I get to decide if I want to eat it or not. This is the way life works.
I don’t even know how, but somehow my income is sufficient for my current needs. For some reason God has me in this place right now. I have no idea why, but somehow I’m surviving, somehow this is sufficient for now.
My therapist wants me to focus on my “wins”. Focusing on my wins keeps me grateful for what I have and away from pouting about what I do not have.
So here’s today’s gratitude countdown from this morning’s early-morning-writing-session before work. It goes something like this. You say, “GRATITUDE COUNTDOWN”. And I say – out loud – 10 things I am grateful for and why starting with #10 and working my way back to #1.
#10. Sufficiency – Because even though things are tight, I have what I need.
#9. Sunshine – Because even just feeling it on my face in the morning before I walk into work makes me feel instantly alive and well.
#8. Laptop – I got this Mac at an incredible price and thanks to it I can write anywhere and anytime I want.
#7. Peppermint tea – It’s herbal so it won’t give me the caffeine shakes. And it’s hot minty-ness is waking me up and soothing my sore throat.
#6. My home – I feel safe here. I belong here. Here I have a place just for me and my things. A place that I get to keep just for me.
#5. Spotify – Because even the free version offers endless soundtracks for my mornings and nights of writing.
#4. Warmth – Several Christmases ago my parent’s got me a down blanket which means I can keep warm even while the heat is at 65 and it’s 25 degrees outside.
#3. In-home washer and dryer – Because that means I can wash and dry a load whenever I want.
#2. Working for a clothing corporation – Because that means I can get awesome discounts on clothes for work and play, which helps the budget even more. Woot!
#1. I woke up this morning feeling well – Which is awesome considering that I’ve been feeling terrible for the last week.
Now it’s your turn.
Gratitude Countdown. GO.