Ten Quick Things I Learned from Dr. Tererai Trent*

I just got back from the 2016 National Women’s Leadership Conference* and have returned with more laser-point focus than ever this year. I may have finally stepped far enough outside of my comfort zone to really connect with my tribe of awesome business women (and a couple men).

I still owe travel posts on my trip to DC but. . . this is still fresh at my fingertips so you’ll be reading it hot off the presses!

On the very first day of conference, very first thing in the morning, our speaker was “Oprah’s All-Time Favorite Guest”*, a writer, speaker, scholar, humanitarian, and – I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind me calling her this, a total bad ass.  I can’t write up enough to do her justice so read more about Dr. Tererai on her site.

I want to share with you the most poignant points that I took from her powerful talk. Of course I’m paraphrasing and she delivered it with a way better aura of owning it, but since you couldn’t be there, I hope you enjoy these snippets!  If you have a women’s / girl’s organization that utilizes speakers – she is sure to win them over and inspire them in an instant – definitely consider booking her.

Lessons from Dr. Tererai Trent*

Go for the great hunger

Dr. Tererai explained the two different hungers; the little hunger which is what you can resolve immediately like eating, and the great hunger which is more of a purpose like becoming educated. Don’t get lost in the little hungers, keep your focus on your bigger purpose!

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that

Don’t put up with the bullshit

Ok, this woman was a powerful and charismatic presence, with her accent from Zimbabwe, and the last thing I expected her to say was the word “bullshit” BUT, she did! She explained that where she grew up she could see the little boys being raised to be leaders while the little girls were being raised to be domesticated and she called that out for being exactly what it was, bullshit! She eventually grew to question that, and because of that courage she is now a humanitarian leader and scholar. You call out that bullshit and let it know you’re over it!

Sometimes it’s ok to say bullshit at a business women’s conference

I know this point sounds ridiculous and completely out of context for a general blog post but since it’s MY post and I’M writing it – let me explain.  I ran for a position on the national executive board of my organization in 2015 and I was at-odds the entire year with being completely myself vs. my “business lady-ish” self. The thing is, I swear sometimes. I use slang, I make laser sound effects, I dance – all the time, I have a unicorn phone case, I take stupid selfies, my mom says I have no “solemnity”, and again – I swear. When I was campaigning I would be myself around my campaign team – using “eff” and “ish” because Mary Jane (MJ) is over 70 and I just can’t say the real words around her. But to say “bullshit” on stage???  NO WAY! Let me be clear, Dr. Tererai only said the word twice and with complete deliberateness – and everyone laughed. And let me be clear, I’m not thinking I can go around swearing like a sailor – or that I would want to – I’m just saying, hey, she said bullshit and none of the women over 70 caught fire or walked out, huh, neat!

Say “no” to certain batons

Dr. Tererai told the story of how the “baton” of early, arranged, and abusive marriages in which girls were traded for cows had been handed down from her grandmother’s mother to her grandmother, on down to her mother, and then in turn to her.  This was another point where she used the word bullshit (AWESOME!) and told us that, NO, don’t accept that baton! Or if you have to accept it, make it a little different when you do end up having to pass it down. When you hand that baton down to your daughter, redefine it – make that marriage a chosen marriage, add in being able to get an education. Say NO to the arranged marriage baton in your life. Or if you’ve been stuck with a “bullshit baton”, do everything you can to pass on a better baton to your next generation.

Do not be afraid to fail

Dr. Tererai, who has received an actual Doctorate degree, written a book, built 11 schools in Zimbabwe, and has been the keynote speaker at several super important conferences (like mine!), said it took her EIGHT YEARS of failing her GED tests before she finally passed.  EIGHT YEARS.  If she gave up that first year – that third year – and you KNOW you’d be thinking about giving up after 5 years (I would!) – 5,000 kids in Zimbabwe would be without education right now. Because she stuck with it, undeterred from her failures, she made a big dent in her part of the world.

Tinogona

Tinogona, as Dr. Tererai explained it, means “it is achievable”. If it is something you can dream, it is something you can do. She came from a place of poverty, moved to the United States and continued to live in poverty while pursuing her degree, and through her determination she achieved her goal of higher education – and a whole lot more. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but she made it happen. If you want to make this your mantra, it was pronounced something like teen-oh-gone-ah, at least that’s what I have in my notes. Double check with the internets.

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that-1

Leadership is action, not position

AMEN! I wrote this down in all caps and underlined it. I see a lot of people act entitled in certain ways just because they have a title. And I see a lot of people without titles being super bosses without the pay or recognition – and they could care less! Actions speak louder than words and a great leader doesn’t need the placard to inspire others.

Be grateful for what you have

At a point in Dr. Tererai’s higher education she was living in a trailer, working multiple jobs, going to school, and taking care of her kids all at the same time. She told the story of how her kids were getting cavities because the only food she could afford to buy them was processed and not real actual fruits and veggies, which were plentiful back in Rhodesia. One of her professors worked it out with a local grocer that they would leave a box of old fruits and veggies out for her by the door until 5, but at 5 it had to go into the dumpster. She would try to get to the dumpster every day after work by 5 but never made it there in time so she would end up digging out the box. But – she said to herself, “Who am I to complain? I’m getting an education, I have a trailer, these are free fruits and vegetables, I am in America. Who am I to complain?” So. . . think about that next time you’re sad you don’t have beer money until payday.

Do a little ritual with your dreams

If you have a dream, make a big deal out of recognizing it. I do new moon rituals every month. Dr. Tererai buried her dream in a can! She actually wrote a book about it, which my ma bought and Dr. Tererai signed while at the conference. Whatever your dream is, make it even more important with a ritual of some sort – make it your own.

 

and lastly, my favorite. . .

 

Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

 

*Disclaimer: Absolutely no person, group, or association mentioned above endorses or is likely even aware of my mutterings – do not take this post as an endorsement.

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Swearwords as motivation

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of weeks you may recall this post here:  It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

In that post I shared a lovely graphic that I made in the hopes of inspiring you to embrace failure.

Well, after asking a representative at Canva if I could use swearwords in a non-defamatory way with their site to make my graphics, I got just the answer I was looking for: yes.

I bring to you, my motivation through swearwords version of that graphic.  This one should not be displayed on cubical walls.  But definitely text it to your bestie if they’re having a hard time at work.  They’ll appreciate it.

Copy of When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear. (1)

It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

I made up another thing with words that I thought up.

When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear.

Word.

That’s all I got for tonight.  I’m trying to write about leadership – which is a lot harder than my stream of consciousness!

 

PS – I make all of my little “things” via Canva – it’s an awesome website with tons of free stuff to use.  They don’t pay me, I just don’t want y’all thinking I’m some graphic designer.  Plus, if you wanna make “stuff” like this – you totally can now!

Chronic Loneliness – Is it or isn’t it?

Ain’t No Pity Party!

Lemme preface real quick and say that this is no woe-is-me post, this is simply me indulging in my love of psychology and weird ability to observe then write about my own feelings.  Perhaps others have felt this way too and can relate, maybe even feel a little better about those feelings!

 

Single but NOT Alone!

So one time at a brunch with a bunch of people – some friends and some strangers (ok, friends of friends – for a birthday) the server was going around the long table asking who would be on the same ticket.  Apparently I was the lone single lady at the table of all couples so when the server looked at me expectantly I proudly said “Single! But NOT alone!” which added some levity to the situation (it wasn’t an awkward situation by any means, I was just being funny).  That was a couple years ago, or maybe one?  The friend’s birthday is coming up so I guess actually less than a year. . . Man.  My concept of time is awful.

Fast forward to today.  I’m single.  If you’ve read my other posts you know that I rather tumultuously exited a 2-ish year relationship with an awful fraud toward the beginning of the year then briefly dated (and “destroyed” a la Dresden Dolls Coin Operated Boy) a Very Nice Guy (who I actually tried to reach out to recently, have not heard a word, not surprised) and am now very definitively single.  I have friends trying to play matchmaker but. . . yeah, no.  Just. . . no.

a party of one is still a party!

 

Friends with Benefits

I’m not talking the sexy kind here.  My “friends with benefits” are my BFFs – the ones I can hang out with and talk for hours on end about nothing, leaving them feeling worlds better than when I got to them.  My BFFs are the people I love hugging.  I *want* to be a hugger, and I *try* being one of those people who hugs people they first meet (only if the other party comes at me first) but I just can’t.  I only like hugging people when I MEAN it.  So my BFFs get all my good hugs – and I love the hugs they give me in return.  My BFFs know all of my quirks already so anything that I do/say/think that’s weird to others, they’re already on the same page with me when I’m 10 minutes into whatever random story I’ve got going on in my life.  My BFFs know exactly what to say to make me have an A-HA moment, or realize I’m just being -insert whatever I’m usually being here-, and to make me feel completely ok with everything – the good and the bad.

My BFFs live far away.  My very best friend lives in another state – that requires a plane ticket to get to.  She has odd work hours and I actually have to call her LAND LINE!  Ok, she lives in the BEAUTIFUL mountains so it makes sense, and the view from her house it totally worth it, I just love saying land line in 2016.  My other BFF lives in Indiana.  I’ve only seen her when she comes to visit and she’s got tons of people to see when she’s here so our time together is rare.  She’s also about to pop out baybay number 2.  Another BFF only lives a two hour drive away.  She’s actually going to put me through “Baby Boot Camp” with her new 2-month-old baybay so I can learn how not to break a baby.  She’s hilarious and I really do need to hang out with her more.

Locally I have friends.  There are a few people I have Deep Conversations with.  There are people I hug and don’t mind it.  There are people I love hanging out with on a week or weekend night.  There are only a couple of people I could sit on a porch with for a few hours and just talk about life.  THAT is what I miss.  THAT is what I feel like causes Chronic Loneliness, at least in my life definition.

 

Chronic Loneliness

I had heard this term while watching a TED Talk on Mental Hygiene and it was new to me, but it immediately made sense.  In the American culture, we tend to run around making these superficial connections through business or our cellphones/social media and seldom delve deeper than that with others outside of our pre-existing friends.  CONNECTIONS seem to be lacking.  I work 9-6 and when I was living with my ex, I would go home most nights and connect with him – only a few nights out of the month would I venture outside of that bubble to connect with other friends.  Now, being single, I’ve been going out a lot more with different friends and we connect, but we don’t CONNECT.  It’s still superficial.  That’s not to say my FRIENDS are superficial, not by any means, in fact most of them are the opposite, but our connections typically are.

I suppose this is something that may come with time, developing a friendship to be deeper, but part of me wants to challenge people to have a face to face conversation about the deep stuff right up front.  Just for funsies.  Get to the real human grit.  Can you make a new BFF in less than a month with a new friend?  Would it take some sort of shared trauma?  Or is that something only a romantic partner can achieve in such a short amount of time?

This whole ponderance comes from my insane desire to cuddle with someone after a really rough day today.  Someone other than my adorable kitty because sometimes she gets sassy and bites.  I’m pretty sure there are things like cuddle booty calls (ok, I know there are) but that’s not REAL.  It’s not real human CONNECTION.  And then I remembered the term Chronic Loneliness and started googling it – yay internet always giving you complexes you didn’t know you had!  But when you’ve had a rough day, you just want someone to hold you and assure you that it’s ok, you’re ok, tomorrow will be better, and there are still rainbows in the world somewhere.  People who don’t have that for years on end, I don’t know what that’s like.  I’ve been single here and there, but not really for more than a year and a half (or so) at a time.  I don’t know how I would handle not cuddling with someone for more than a year.  I mean, according to this internet article (must be true!) loneliness can lead to all kinds of wicked bad stuff.  Why aren’t we connecting more?

 

Try New Things

As part of getting out of my apartment I’ve been trying new things.  I tried this crazy thing called acro yoga and it’s pretty much using all of your muscles to stack humans in pretty ways.  If you’re really fancy, you can do “transitions” where you go from one position to another.  It’s insane.  I did three poses as a “base” and then was peer-pressured into doing a transition between two super basic “flying” poses.  I was a hot mess and my muscles were sore the next day.  However!  The people were super cool.  I went because of a friend I met through roller derby who happens to also perform circus acts – she’s pretty bad ass.  I’ve definitely got to get some core strength, and like, arm and leg strength too, but man!  It’s pretty rad when you can sit on the bottom of some dude’s feet without holding onto anything (except your fear, on the inside).

I’ll also be learning music things starting next week!  The circus friend’s boo is musically-inclined and apparently likes teaching so we shall see how that goes!  I wanna be able to play the keyboard and sing in key – make up my own songs and such.  Just for myself – for funsies.

 

Super Awkward First Date Idea!

Ok, so I heard about this on a podcast, how to fall in love with anyone and I totes wanna try it one day.  Do I have faith in it?  Not likely.  Do I think it would be super uncomfortable and weird?  YES!  Do I find it exciting to make a potential date feel uncomfortable and weird?  DOUBLE YES!  So you have to ask a series of questions, and then you have to STARE INTO EACH OTHERS EYES.  FOR FOUR WHOLE MINUTES.  As part of some leadership exercise I had to stare into a partner’s eyes for one minute and that was TORTURE!  FOUR MINUTES???  WITH A DATE???  Oh man.  Totes gonna do this ish.

Oh, and that’s related to this post because I’m pretty sure it creates a connection.  Perhaps a temporarily superficial one, but come on, there’s no going back after staring into someone’s eyes for TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY SECONDS!

The Expiration Date of Humans – YOLO

Doctor’s Orders

I’ve been sick with allergies for the past week which for the most part has made me useless – thus no blog and very little social activity.  I had a long overdue follow up appointment with my rhuematologist on Tuesday in which I received multiple sass downs (like 6 shades less than a smack down).  One for the lateness in my follow up appointment (I was in TWO car accidents, lady!), the fact that I still like going to the beach (I will only compromise my quality of life so much for something), perhaps maybe I told her that I decided to only take one pill a day because I didn’t entirely believe that I had lupus and she wasn’t too thrilled with that. . ., and that I didn’t wear my sun hat from my car to the medical building (really?? we’re gonna be sassy about that???).  After the glares, she went over the bloodwork with me and. . . The test results came back to be “most likely” negative for systemic lupus (the whole body) so I mostly likely have cutaneous lupus (skin only) FOR NOW.  Lupus is difficult to pin down and apparently can progress so I’ll be getting bloodwork done every 3 months.  I agreed to take the actually prescribed dosage of medication from now on.  I asked and yes, the medication is ok with pregnancy.  I just hate adding more pills to my already lengthy list of the ones I take for bipolar.

So yay!  Let’s add lupus to the mix of diagnoses!  I’ve been super careful with the allergy sickness though because the last time it progressed into a full on cold/flu I was knocked out for several days – stuck in bed.  I’ve been downing Emergen-C daily and resting.  Except!!!!

 

YOLO

On Wednesday three friends and I trekked out to the Weeki Wachee Springs for a 5 mile kayaking trip in crystal clear waters where we saw 11 manatees!  Three of them were BAYABYS!  My friend got a GoPro video as one swam by her, I took a screen shot (because apparently you’ve got to pay to post videos).  So check out this lil’ cutie baby manatee who was all of 3 feet long.  *Side note, lest you think I’m some kayaking badass, it was my very first time in a kayak and I fell out of my kayak, capsized it (filling it with water which is a huge pain), and ended up ramming my kayak into no less than 10 innocent kayakers who had the misfortune of being in my path when I had no control over where that path was headed.  It was a mess.

manatee

 

You do You

I had taken the Wednesday off of work, knowing that it was going to be a busy week, because you know what?  This year has been a crazy year for death and tragedy.  I’m not yet doing what I love for a living, I’m still searching for my partner in crime, and although I do have friends and hobbies that I find fulfilling I’m not quite at the YOLO level to where I feel like I’m “carpe diem-ing” enough.  Instead I’ve decided to focus on the mantra “You do you” because I have to live within the world of paying rent and trying to change what I can “within the system” little by little.  I realize life is super short and I’ve been taking big steps in (hopefully) the right directions to make it the one I want, I’m just putting a whole lot less of the stress-inducing pressure that I used to on myself.

 

Your Expiration Date

So if you came with “Use by [this date]” on your arm like a tub of your favorite guac, what would you be doing differently?  Would it be radical changes?  Or gradual?  Would that depend on the expiration date?  Consider this “food” for thought!

 

The Self Help Savant

I consume media of the “self help” genre as if it’s an essential component of my existence.  I wish I could explain exactly why but I don’t have a 100% certain answer – it could be that one day I want to be a life coach, or that I’m still lost on the search to find my purpose, or I’m driven to know EVERYTHING, or just because I’m fixated on bettering myself (then sometimes trying to push it on others – oops).

 

Current Read:  Wishcraft

My livre du jour is Wishcraft by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb from the late 70’s.  So far I’m only 80 pages in (out of about 250) which equates to having completed 6 “exercises”.  The book is split in two parts, the first being a focus on learning your strengths and skills, and the second is supposed to show you the strategies to put your dreams to work for you so that you can live them.

Exercise 2:  Your Original Self – This one was fun!  You were supposed to remember back when you were super young, up to 5 years old, and write out everything that you loved, daydreamed about, wanted to grow up to be, fantasized about, or were just absolutely fascinated with.  I could not for the life of me remember anything outside of two facts; 1. I broke my arm “couch dancing”, and 2. I remember getting in trouble for putting stickers on EVERYTHING.  So I enlisted the help of my ma and asked her what she remembers me doing all the time, getting in trouble for, having a penchant for, or saying I really wanted to be.  Below are the points she made:

 

When I Grow Up

According to my mom:  Young Jessie. . .  put stickers on EVERYTHING, made friends very easily, was VERY persistent (apparently convincing McDonald’s employees to go through Happy Meal toy bins to find the toy I didn’t have yet – and frequently imploring my parents to take me to the mall for My Littlest Pet Shops with some “tiny people logical” points), broke my arm couch dancing but then was found on the monkey bars hanging from my good arm the next day, had a fear of sleeping by myself, always adventurous, was “messy Jessie”, very artistic – finger painting-play doh-craft kits-cutting and pasting-and this weird worm mom and baby worm eggs sitting on a bench with a tree statue thing that my mom still gushes was super advanced for my age, had a good way of looking at things (told a story of how I said that trees were dancing on a windy day), had a way of taking what I saw in my head and making it real, and was very social/chatty.

At this point, I’m only 80 pages into Wishcraft, I’m assuming eventually the book is going to tell me to take all of the exercises and somehow come up with what I should be doing.  With that stream of consciousness list above I’ve thought of a few possible outcomes but I’m not jumping ahead yet.  I’ve still got more homework yet to do before the figuring out really starts.

But. . .

Recently I’ve had two A-HA moments completely unrelated to these exercises but could possibly provide some form of life purpose fulfillment because I actually got excited when I thought of them.

 

Remember When You Used To. . . ?

I can’t recall any solid memories of acting as a young child but during high school I started to try my hand at it. As a child the only thing I vaguely remember is my brother getting me to help him perform “magic tricks” (stop motion filming where we disappeared behind a shower curtain – ooooooo special effects of the early 90’s!) that we recorded on our hefty VHS tape recorder, I don’t think that counts.  In middle school I worked on the morning news which, when I just typed that out sounds pretty hilarious.  In high school I did speech and drama, the drama club, and started the Mojo Show (the first talent show at my high school) as I got my feet wet in the world of being someone other than myself.

In college I was part of a sorority and loved doing the Greek Week and Homecoming skits so I usually volunteered for those.  During my last year in college I met a super creative and fun dude who made comedic Youtube sketches and we ended up dating for a few years and moving to Denver together.  I got roped into acting small parts sometimes, then started helping to write skits, and then eventually wrote my own character.  It was really enjoyable and completely outside of my comfort zone.  I MISS that.

I recently watched the skit of the character I created and I remembered how fun it was to BE that character, to not be myself for those 30 minutes of filming.  It was ridiculously awful and I will never claim to be a good actor – the skit was terrible, I’m not saying it was a masterpiece or anything.  I just got that flood of feelings of nostalgia.  So.  In my Toastmasters groups one of the members teaches imrov classes so I’m thinking I’m gonna try one of them – just to stretch that creative muscle again.  See if maybe there’s a career calling there, or just a new hobby that makes my heart happy – both are equally important for the soul!

 

Biggest Regret

During Table Topics (impromptu speaking portion of Toastmasters meetings) sometime a couple of months ago I was asked “If I could go back in my life and change one thing, what would it be?”  I took that to mean “What’s your biggest regret?”  At the time I couldn’t think of any REAL Life Thing that I regretted so I spoke for 2 minutes about how I’d relive my run for national office of the business women’s group and go in with more confidence.  Just this last week I found old pictures from college that I shared on the Facebooks for the TBT jazz where I was wearing a Mates of State shirt.  Mates of State is the husband-wife band who’ve been making delightful indie-pop jams together for over a decade.  I saw them play live a bunch of times while I was in college and the way they both look at each other as they play (he was on drums and she was on keyboard-organ) is the most endearing interaction between two people that I have ever seen.  I would leave every show swooning from witnessing that kind of adorable, creative connection between two people, and then sweaty from dancing to their super fun tunes.

Ok, so take that little example of Mates of State floating around in my head and – remember the “super creative and fun dude” from above – and picture a time when said dude asks me to sing with him while he plays drums or guitar or bass.  Then picture him asking me again and again and again.  And me shying away from it EVERY TIME.  Now, I’m not a good singer, I’ve got no training in any form of music whatsoever, but that’s why I SHOULD HAVE tried my hand at it with someone I considered a “safe zone” in a practice space where skill level didn’t matter.  So this combination of remembering Mates of State and the small potential that I could have at least TRIED my hand at having something like that, gave me a moment of inspiration.  You know what?  It’s never too late to try.  This here Self Help Savant is going to take some music lessons and take a stab at this ish – because, WHY NOT???

 

Apparently I’ve got my schedule pretty well booked up for the next few months, helping myself explore potential areas of happiness in life.  And I haven’t even gotten half-way through that damn book!  It’s ok, I’m up for the challenge.

 

I see what you did there, life

That right there is one of the 9 intentions that I wrote down for myself back at the new moon (no, it doesn’t actually look that cool in person, I just happened to do some filter stuff post-production).

They say you should put your intentions out there and accept them as they come to you. Looking at my 9 scraps of paper last night I realized that this one is coming to fruition in a slightly different way, for the good of my own personal development I believe.

The big 2-and-a-half year relationship that ended a few months ago hurt me. I had never felt so betrayed in love and I honestly wasn’t sure if I’d be able to separate the feeling from whatever relationship came next. After a few weeks of dating a genuine good guy though, I began to see the difference between the two and started to feel safer (still a bit guarded, but safer). I was in fact capable of dropping that baggage off at the train station and just sending it off to the other coast.  This is awesome news.

I wrote that intention after being with someone who had, without my conscious awareness, fostered the building of a fortress within me.  I’m not proud to admit that I let that happen but I am proud to admit that I came out of that relationship determined to figure out who I am.

Looking back at this scrap of paper, I can see what I was trying to go for: rather than finding (notice how I changed it from “find” to “attract”? sometimes I just have to have a laugh at myself) someone who would either encourage the wall-building or just allow me to go about my life with the wall intact, I wanted someone to actively help me challenge myself to be happier and healthier in my habits.

It took a tough discussion, a panic-and-run, some continually feeling awful, and a lot of contemplation to figure out something which has broken down a Wall of China-sized wall for me.  This level of deconstructing should NOT happen in a relationship (at least not a newly starting one), at least not for me.  I have some shit to figure out and building myself (mySELF, not my wall) back up as the sole brick layer is the best thing I can do right now.  Yes, I do still want to find that ultimate partner in crime to join me on the roller coaster ride of life, but for once I realize that I have some work to do on my own for a bit.

Thanks to a paid plane ticket to Baltimore for work, a friend who lives in DC with his girlfriend (so a free place to crash), and cheap public transit between the two, I am officially taking a 5 day vacation by myself to tour DC.  SOLO.  I am SO FREAKING EXCITED.  I have never in my life traveled solo.  I’ll be there on a Saturday-Wednesday, probably hanging out with the couple on Saturday and Sunday (ummmmm I found an EIGHTIES party at a club that Saturday night, costumes encouraged, so YEAH we’re going to that) but they work weekdays 8-5 so I will be on my own then.  I’ve already started planning my sites to see and I can’t tell you in words how excited I am to do this.  Traveling solo probably isn’t a big deal to a lot of people, but this is something new and exciting for me.  On my list so far is the American Indian museum, 80’s party, the Holocaust museum, drag queen brunch, the Museum of Natural History, M Monday at the Duplex Diner, the Washington Monument, karaoke at an awesome gay club, I even requested a pass to tour the White House from my Congress woman, and the Smithsonian Zoo (because: baby red pandas).  That list is not exhaustive by any means – I’m sure it will only get longer.  The whole trip will be an excellent time to just let myself think and breathe the different air without a concern in the world.  SO EXCITED.

So you see, world, I’m on to your little game.  I get it.  I shouldn’t need someone to break down my walls (though there certainly was a catalyst in this) and I shouldn’t be relying on anyone but myself (and perhaps the assistance of a qualified mental health professional) to figure out my true core and build it out from the ground up to be more whole, happy, healthy, loving, accepting, and empowering.  I think I can play by those rules.

Podcasts for Your Brain

Ever since a fellow former-roller derby entrepreneur friend introduced me to the world of podcasts as a form of not only entertainment but a potential way to share an idea I’ve been kicking around, I have been an avid listener of them on any commute.  Now, I know I’m way late to this podcast party, so I’ve been catching up on podcasts that are YEARS old but that doesn’t make the information in them any less useful.  Below I share with you some of my favorite

Fun learnings: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff You Should Know, Serial

Business learnings: Introvert Entrepreneur, Design Matters, The Accidental Creative

Money learnings: So Money  (I’ve tried a few other podcasts for finance but they’ve bored me to tears, so if you have a good one you like, comment below!)

A neat tip I learned on some podcast or business blog I can’t remember, by increasing the playback speed of the podcast, your brain actually does good things (yeah, there were more scientific things said to back this up but I don’t recall what they were).  They suggested listening to them at 2x speed – I’ve gotten up to 1.5x speed because it’s still enjoyable at that increase – I found 2.0 too much for my liking.

So definitely check those out, and comment below if you’ve got favorites of your own!

Finances are FUN 01 – Mint.com – DO IT!

Hey everyone, I’m here today to talk about a very sensitive subject. Some might say it’s the last of the taboo topics since so many people avoid it – when’s the last time you asked your BFF about their finances? But I bet you can remember when you last asked how their love life is doing!

This year I’m focusing on money management because I have the goal of getting out of debt in mind as well as working on my credit score. Today’s post is an introduction to a website (I get zero kickback from this, they are not a sponsor, I just really dig how helpful their site is) called Mint.com.

I’m gonna give you a super personal glimpse into my financial jazz because I’ll be an open book as I go on my journey to debt-free living to hopefully show others that this is something anyone can do – and there are tools out there that make it a lot easier on you. So without further ado, I present to you the very basics of Mint.com and what it can do for you!

  • Account Overview – this is where Mint tells you your overall cash value. I’ve linked my bank account, the only credit card I have, my student and car loans, my 401K, and then they have this neat thing where it estimates the worth of your car if you’re paying to own it. Note: Anything in pink is something I entered over sensitive information, Mint shows the bank name, etc.

my account image

So you can see here that my net worth is a positive!  WOOHOO!  That is probably not a big deal to many people out there but for me, after being in credit card debt for a long time, as well as student loans then a car loan, this is a BIG DEAL.  This information on Mint is updated every time you log in, so if you put more on your credit card, your net worth goes down, but if you make payments on your debts, you get to see that number go UP!  It’s such a great feeling!

 

  • Account Transactions – This function is super helpful in that it forces you to LOOK at what you’re spending on.  Now, judge not lest ye be judged, dear friends!  Clearly I spent a lot on fast food during this time but by point this out, Mint is giving me the cold hard facts in a way that I can’t just avoid.  This also ties into an awesome budgeting feature where I tell Mint how much I’m allowing myself to spend that month on a certain category then it calls me out if I go over budget.

transactions image

 

  • Budgeting – This is the function that I mentioned just above. I set up this budget based on what I believed I would be spending every month in the categories below. Mint will send me a friendly email notice if I’m nearing the budget for the month, just to let me know “Hey, you’re getting awfully close to your budgeted allowance for fast food, perhaps you shouldn’t buy that cheesy bean and rice burrito on the way home!”  You can look at this information historically over several months to see if maybe you need to adjust your monthly budget on a certain category as well, for instance if you keep going over budget on groceries maybe you just set up the
    budget without actually knowing your true monthly expenses.

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  • Spending / Graphs – As a very visual person this function helps me to see where my money is going in comparison to all other categories. There are a ton of other functions that I won’t go into here but they’re really fun (no, seriously!) so take some time to try them all out.

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  • Email Updates – Every week you’ll get an email from Mint letting you know where all your money went (if you opt to). I like it because it reminds me to go back and categorize my expenses (something you’ll have to do every once in a while to increase the accuracy of the budgeting feature). And again, it’s a nice colorful graph that makes me despise the fact that it’s numbers a little less.

emailmint

 

So there you have it, a very rudimentary introduction to Mint.com and how it can help you stay on track of your spending/saving/debt destruction! I really hope that if you haven’t started using this (or another similar site) you sit down and consider it. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me get my poop in a group (my dear friend’s way of saying “get your sh*t straight” around her kiddos) with something that has seemed so overwhelming for such a long time. Even if you just take 10 minutes a day logging into Mint and looking around to get used to it for the first week, every single baby step is a giant leap toward your financial success. I know so many people like me who have just been floating along down the river of “Meh, it’ll sort itself out” for finances and really, darlings, there is a much better way.

So do it!!!!  Sign up on Mint.com!!!!  Go and get your financial poop in a group!!!!