Financial Friday #9 – Scattered

Avoidance

Every day this week, I have chastised myself about sitting down and writing about our debt story, and every day this week, I have filled my time with errand running, baking, walking the dogs and cleaning the house. Basically, I have found every excuse in the book to not sit down and write.

Financially also, my husband and I have not made the time to look at or organize our finances, pay our bills and formulate a plan for the unpredictable weeks and months ahead. Fortunately, we have built some forgiveness into our finances by sitting down weekly, so missing a week will not financially harm us. The only fear is that we will slip into old habits of putting our blinders on and not making a plan for these unpredictable times.

Scattered

Pondering the situation, I finally understood what has been driving my need for busyness this week and avoidance of progressive work. I feel scattered, completely and totally lost in the unpredictable nature of this historical time. The not knowing what each day or even what the week holds leaves me drifting from mindless task to mindless task.

Let’s Be Friends

So, I’ve decided to make friends with scattered and give myself some space and time to gather myself together. Instead of hiding in baking, cleaning, errand running and walking, I am consciously choosing to do those tasks in which routine and mindlessness brings comfort and with permission to befriend my scattered self comes the desire to bring some structure back into this unpredictable world. This starts with a desire to keep it real regarding our finances and to update you on the current financial effects of COVID-19 for our family.

Financial Effects

This week’s financial effects have been largely income related. My own work has been slashed in half. Suddenly, I find myself with 20 hours of time that I used to long for, and I’m now lost in. I have the first weekend in years where I will not be working, and the thought of it is both exhilarating and terrifying. For my husband, there is unpredictability in his work, but he is still working

Gratitude though permeates my scattered brain and translates into action. My husband discussed with me passing down shifts to junior employees who were not getting as much work as him. In the past, our financial situation would have made us not even consider this option because we had to take care of our own over-stretched financial commitments. How appreciative and privileged do I feel to be able to support him in sharing those shifts so we can all help take care of each other. This in itself makes me realize that the road to financial independence is not only about freedom for ourselves, but the opportunity to make decisions not based in fear.

Action Plan

Following publishing of this blog post, I will be making a list of things I want to accomplish with my free time including baking, walking, cleaning and errand running, but also incorporating creating a financial plan with my husband (as much as we can) and writing my blog. The time for scattered is slowly ending, and it’s time to get back to a plan even if involves reading a good book all afternoon or indulging in Netflix. A plan for laziness is still a plan!

Until then, here is a link to a delicious vegan banana muffin recipe that I discovered this week so that I could make my daughter a treat.

Spruce Eats Vegan Banana Muffins

Don’t Panic and Other Unhelpful Advice

The Virus and Attempts at Comfort

During these weeks of isolation and worry at this time of COVID-19, I have been noticing a few comforting phrases that have been cropping up continuously, some uttered by myself before I realized how condescending they were after they were thrown at me.  I’m appreciative for the wake-up call though because I’ve noted how these phrases keep me at a distance from another’s suffering and from the seriousness of the pandemic .   These phrases are often delivered with sincerity and care but need a little more reflection.

Don’t Worry

Don’t worry, even if you get it, you’re healthy.  It’s only deadly to those who are elderly or immune-compromised.

Is it just me or does this phrase make it sound like being elderly or immune-compromised is a serious character flaw punishable by death.  Not being a big believer that anyone including my immune-compromised friends are expendable, this phrase is entirely unreassuring.  The only people that may be expendable are toilet paper hoarders…just kidding. I’m imagining a sort of purgatory involving a bathroom and running out toilet paper.  Good thing, I’m not in charge of karma or purgatory.  Though if I was, there’d be a certain fitness salesperson who tricked my naive 19-year-old self into a 2-year fitness contract.  I’m thinking 2 years of treadmill time all uphill, but I digress.

Don’t Touch Your Face

Unless you have a medical degree or are a government official, stop waving this phrase around like you’re the hygiene police. This idea just sinks down into my subconscious and seeds the desire to touch my face.  It’s like telling me not to look…I’m going to look, just with obvious subtlety.  The itch is just too strong.

Thank you for this perfect picture – Photo by Kat Love on Unsplash

Enjoy the Time to Bond with your Children

 No school is a great opportunity to home school and bond with your kids.

Being a home school (almost finished) and working parent, I feel I speak with a certain amount of expertise on this subject.  First, this statement assumes all you were doing while your kids were at school was indulging in selfish pursuits like Netflix, lunch with your friends and yoga, not out earning a living, and also there was a consistent lack of bonding in your home.  Now that your children at home, you will no longer be idling the day away selfishly, and you will finally know your child’s favorite color.

As for home schooling, any parent that can dish out this statement obviously has been too indulgent with the flask that every homeschooling parent keeps nearby.  In my memory, homeschooling my children did have and still does have many magic moments, but it also had moments of stress, anxiety, self-doubt and the worst…having no one to blame for your child’s misbehavior.  Can’t blame little Billy for that bad word your child picked up…very disempowering.

And My Favorite

Don’t panic.

This to me is one of the more serious sentences bandied about when talking about anything that approaches stress.  To be honest during this whole pandemic, I have not yet met anyone who would fulfill the criteria as panicked, but apparently, they’re out there because we keep telling people not to.  I’ve met greedy, worried, anxious and even angry, but not panicked, people.  Also, wouldn’t you think that those are the most ineffective words to say to someone who is actually panicking?  It’s like telling a 2-year-old to stop crying.  The child ceases immediately and returns back to calculating their taxes.

In truth though, don’t panic is one of the most dismissive sentences that I have encountered.  When someone is sharing their worries and fears, don’t you think this would be completely invalidating.  I have found it so when said to me and am guilty of using the phrase. In fact, the most validating moments during this whole roller coaster journey have been when I have shared my concerns with someone, and they have said “I know, I feel the same way” or “I totally get why you would be worried.”  That simple. The relief of being heard was such a gift.

Wherever Possible Choose Empathy

So if you can avoid it, leave these sentences at the door and start to listen to what people are actually trying to say which is probably they have no idea what to do with their kids all day while trying to work from home, they’re worried about health or finances or even that they’re scared for their loved ones.  There is no problem solving to be done, no hug able to be given (social distancing), but you can say “I feel you” because isn’t the best way to emotionally support each other is to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see their world through their eyes.

Add in a little social distance! Thank you for this lovely photo – Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another. – Alfred Adler

And you can ignore the fact that I encouraged you to be grateful in my last post (Setbacks and Pandemics)…if you’re not feeling grateful you have every right feel that way, I hear you and have periods where I feel the exact same way.

Seriously though, this horrible circumstance has made us all have to slow down which makes it a beautiful time to nurture all our relationships…at an acceptable distance.

Oh, and don’t touch your face…you want to now, don’t you.