Sunday, July 26, 2015

And Now We Fight

     Rent went up $250.  Yep.  I knew it would go up when it came time to renew, but I figured it wouldn't be that much. I love my place, but paying more than $1600 for 800 square feet is isn't in my budget and is ridiculous.  
     I got the news about 48 hours ago.  Fortunately Mom was already on her way to town.  As my life has navigated the roller coaster of these last 12 months, she's become my sounding board. This rent increase was going to require a lot of sounding and boarding. 
    In the midst of my shock, I loaded the boys up in the car and drove to other nearby places to imagine if I could live there. After trolling a few parking lots with junked out cars and seeing unkempt buildings, I decided that no, I couldn't live there.
    When life hands you lemons, there are a few things you should do.  Here's my list for surviving a lemon season:
     1.  Do not jump to any conclusions:  Just because they offered to increase my rent doesn't really mean they mean it, know what I mean?  I refuse to believe that this is the final offer.  Through work, I've been given a bunch of training on how to negotiate and have difficult conversations.  This is the time to put that to the test.  
     2.  Confess your concerns:  As soon as I read the letter, I called my mom and texted with my sister-in-law. Getting it off my chest and out to the world made me feel better immediately.
     3.  Things change:  The only consistency in life is change, so become a master of change.  Taking a moment to look at all the other changes you've endured and mastered will show you that you are capable of getting through this.  But first, you need a plan.
     4.  Make a plan with options:  After the shock wore off, I took a look at what I want my life to really look like.  First, I'd like to have enough money to go on vacations and play tennis.  Putting another $250 into rent each month would absolutely prevent that life.  Imagine the life you want and go for it.  Do not let anything stand in your way from achieving your dreams.  You deserve your dreams being realized.
     5.  Mediate, talk to God, and listen:  Time and time again, God has shown Himself to me - whether I'm running to catch a crosswalk signal or needing to get out of a bad relationship.  He'll get me through this - but I must be patient and listen for His wisdom. This is my greatest challenge in life. I make decisions hastily because I don't have faith. I've decided to change this about myself, so I'm going to just listen and act when it's time.
     7.  Choose courage:  Going to your mother, landlord, family and friends when you're at your wit's end is very hard.  Do it.  They love you so much (well, not your landlord).  Choose courage and share your battles with them.  Choosing courage is very hard - but going through life alone is paralyzing.
     The world is flowing with love and goodness.  Some times it just takes a moment to work its way to you.  I believe it is coming to me - and to you!  Don't wait for your life to fill with love and goodness.  Go fight for it!  I promise that you'll win.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Not all hookers look like Julia Roberts

     “You want some business?” the lady inquired across the darkened plaza. I walked closer, my dogs coming into her view line. “Oh, nevermind, just thought you were looking for some business.”

Not what hookers look like
     “What kind of business?” My request went unanswered as she wandered off into the night. I continued my walk, thinking I’d quickly staved off getting wrapped into a pyramid scheme situation that would include me going to meetings and pushing products on Facebook. Upon further reflection, it came to me that the business being offered was the oldest profession. Giggles filled my body, “She sure didn’t look like a hooker!”

    When you move from mid-sized-town Alabama to Seattle, you’re bound to learn a few things. For example, my frame of reference for hooker looks comes from Pretty Woman – but in reality, most hookers don’t look like Julia Roberts. The Hookers’ Beauty Not Equal to Julia Roberts’ Beauty was my first lesson.  My second lesson was that life here is harder and more expensive than I could have ever imagined.

We’re going to get real personal here. When I moved here, I had no idea that the cost of living was so high. Rather than being warned about the rain, I should have been warned about the cost of living. After staying with family, I moved out on my own and I had to buy everything new (dishes, towels, furniture, a bed, a couch, dog bowls, seating, shower curtain and liner, tools, sheets, cleaning gizmos – you get the idea). Oh, and the dog got sick and then maybe had cancer. And the car accident. The savings was gone and I was terrified. I took out loans to pay off my loans. Robbing Peter, Paying Paul – yep.

Where my money went
Throughout this time I was in therapy. When I told a co-worker I’d been paying out of my own pocket, I was told our insurance covered it - a fact my therapist denied. That began a five-month battle with the insurance company and therapist to get my money refunded. Turned out the therapist was double billing. This person I'd shared my most intimate details with was deceiving me all along. It shook me to the core. I got the refund just as that sick dog he sprained his knee, his hips started showing signs of dysplasia and his muscles atrophied. All the while, I smiled in public and cried at home. When I finally broken down to my mom, we created a plan to get me out of this hole.

I haven’t been writing because I’ve been so tormented with these struggles, it’s all incredibly embarrassing. But then I remembered that only people who really love me read this and that those people really love me so it’s okay to share this with them. And I also remembered that I am not alone in these struggles. Each of us has our struggles. It’s okay. It’s fine. No shame.

I thought I was tough, but I am not Big City Girl tough. Being Big City Tough means more than elbowing your way onto the train for a good seat or knowing the best places for lunch. It means fighting the fuck out of every-fucking-thing for yourself. That backbone you thought you had – it’ll do you no good here. You need street smarts, tenacity and humility.

My view is pretty good.
Henceforth, I’ll be writing about the lessons I’m learning as I rebuild my life so I don’t end up on the streets offering my business to strangers. Yeah, I made a series of bad choices, and they created my situation, but they don’t define me. I’m a badass – on her way to becoming Big City Tough – and of course, I hope you’ll join me on this journey.