I love my car but sometimes when I think of the added expenses of owning a car, I cringe. As I type this post, I am standing at the train station on my way to pick up my car from the repair shop. I feel like a parent about to go get a child out of jail. I only have to post bond for said child. In this case, I have to pay $600 to set my car-free. It is about $300 more than I had budgeted when I first took it to the shop for routine maintenance of changing my brakes and oil. Anyway, I have no choice but to pay the money to get my car.
One of the reasons I moved to the Boston area was because it had a robust public transportation system. The MBTA is relatively easy to use and has a good spread. In that sense, I am lucky because I know in most parts of America, a car is not a luxury but a necessity because of bad or non-existent public transportation. I really did not need a car when I first moved to the city. I could hop on and off buses and trains.
A few years in this city though and I yearned for more. So I got a car. My car has allowed me to do things that I never imagined. For one, I was able to change jobs to one that required driving from one city to another to visit clients. In this aspect, my car has been asset. However, sometimes, I get frustrated with the added cost of owning a car.
It starts with the monthly car payment and included random costs like car wash and tolls. The thrice-weekly visits to the gas station. I have even turned buying gas into a game. I am always looking to see what gas prices are everywhere I go. Even though gas is cheap at some places, I don’t like buying gas anywhere. I am always afraid of ruining my engine so I have my trusted places to buy gas. I tend to like buying gas from BJ Gas or Speedway. Both places are cheap and reliable.
Now that I have bought my car for myself, I feel like there are things that I have learned. I am already dreaming of upgrading my car and how to make a better purchase decision. I’ll definitely start with going to more than one dealer to look at cars. I bought the first car that I road tested because I just fell in love with it.
I might complain about my car but it is my baby. I love that Toyota Scion xB because I bought it and it made me feel all grown up.
I honestly try not to click on Thought Catalog articles when I am on Facebook. Really, I try but I am one of those fishes that bite on click bait. So I end up opening up the article and I am disappointed.
Imagine my surprise when I clicked on an article from Thought Catalog and it made me think deeply. It struck such a nerve that I actually saved it so that I could read it again and again until I was clear on what it had struck.
The article made me rethink the meaning of self-care. I am one of those ones that thinks of self-care as doing calming/relaxing things. My favorite self-care so far has been getting an hour-long massage when I was stressed out this summer. It was glorious. The thing the Thought Catalog article made me realize that though is that self-care should not be about managing stress alone. Self-care should be about designing a life that minimizes stress and encourages self-fulfillment. Read more
I was a consumer behavior researcher, for a hot minute during my graduate school days. My research work dealt with the relationship between intention and behavior. One of the most important things I learned is that intention precedes behavior. Intention, for the most part, is within the full control of a person. Behavior is influenced by a series of factors that are not necessarily within the full control of a person.
Understanding and acknowledging the relationship between intention and behavior is an important part of living a guilt-free life, in my opinion. Sometimes we intend to help but we are unable to help. By understanding that which is beyond our control, we are able to let go of the guilt of being unable. I am reminded of this a lot when I volunteer on Mondays. This past Monday I was leading the shift when an older couple came in. Neither one of them could have been younger than 80. They were both almost frail but sort of full of life. They had stopped at the office to see how they could help.
There are many ways you can help a campaign. Not everyone is able to do everything. The older couple that came in were unable to help much because neither one of them couple could complete basic tasks on the computer. They both felt so guilty and kept apologizing. I kept trying to reassure them that their intention in coming to help was much more important than the fact they were unable to help. The fact that we are using a computerized system is beyond their control. As such, they shouldn’t feel guilty.
Personally, as much as I intend to help the campaign, I can’t do everything. Sometimes, I can’t do anything. Sometimes, I am unable to volunteer for more than 3 hours at a time. Sometimes, I feel guilty about leaving people behind and going home. I know this guilt is irrational. One of the things that I am working on is letting go of irrational guilt.
I have started spending a lot of time thinking about my intentions. What am I intending to do when I go to work in the morning? I intend to help customers have a wonderful shopping experience. However, if a customer asks me to answer a question and I am unable to answer it, does that mean I have failed for the day? No, it means that the question is beyond my volitional control as such I am unable to follow through on my intention.
By focusing on my intention, I have also been able to recognize my limitations. Yes, I would like to help. But, no, I am unable to help. I am learning how to say “no.” In the past, I would edge my bet and say “maybe.” Saying “maybe”was a way of not having to acknowledge my limitations. But “maybe” really was a way of delaying the guilt. Now, I am honest. I say “no.” By saying “no,” I set myself free and I am able to do the best of that which I can.
I am a big Marie Forleo fan. I discovered her when I was living in Ibadan, Nigeria and I was wondering what the next step in my life should be. I have kept up with watching her videos every now and then. For some reason, I saw her Facebook post on her interview with David Bach and it stuck with me. I was really interested in watching the interview because of financial curiosity. This interview was really enlightening about finances but the biggest take away for me was at the end. The final segment of the interview covers Mr. Bach’s sabbatical from his job for 18 months. This got me thinking about my own life. Read more
This is an old speech by Gabrielle Union that I love so much. I have heard snippets of it in the past. Today, I got obsessed and started looking online until I found the full speech. I couldn’t help myself, I had to share.
I am different. I am an original. And like everyone else, I am here to take up space in the universe. I do so with pride.
-Shonda Rhimes ‘Year of Yes’
Just finished Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes! OMG! This woman just changed my life. There are a few pivotal moments in my life. One of them was the moment when I realized I was not crazy or weird but an introvert. Recognizing my introversion set me free from the burden of trying to be like everyone. It allowed me to create my own space and celebrate me.
It is funny and powerful that a couple of days ago I was writing on Facebook about how I am learning to occupy space in public by watching men in the gym. I have always struggled with the idea of taking up space in the world. I have tend to favor hiding away from the world, both literally and figuratively. As a child and as an adult, if there were too many people around, I like to hide. As a child and a teenager, I hid in my books. I took books with me to parties with my sister and read in a corner while every one mingled. It was my thing. When I first moved to Boston and lived in a house with young adults that favored house parties, I liked to hide in my room and lock the door. They must have thought I was the strangest person ever. I have been struggling with the idea of needing my own space but wanting the intimacy of sharing space with others. I have never felt like I had the social skills to succeed out in the world. I am awkward. Sometimes, I feel ugly and self-conscious. I say the wrong things. I can be too passionate among people who would rather that share anything concrete. Sometimes I experience temporary deafness and I can’t hear what is being said. In my own world, with my own room and within my own imaginary world, my flaws are not fatal. So I choose to hide.I feel like Year of Yes is really about how to balance the need to be within yourself but still make space to be with others. Reading about Ms. Rhimes’ social anxiety was so relatable but encouraging. If she can break out of the box, so can I. I can learn to be social and connect with others.
There are so many moments in the book where I had to stop and take it in. So many life-affirming moments for me as a black woman, both personally and professionally. I am not exactly breaking ceilings in the work that I do but at the same time I am not exactly surrounded by role models who look like me in the work that I do. I like that Ms. Rhimes is not afraid to speak openly about what it means to be in a room that is often filled with ‘others’. I never realized the concept of the ‘other’ until I moved to the California at 16. At community college, I was underage, a non-drinker, non-driver, nerdy student in a campus where everyone thrived on being cool. Perhaps the greatest flaw I had in those days was my inability to be black. I was called an oreo more than once; looks black, acts white. I didn’t understand what that meant then, I still don’t fully get it now. To me, I am who I am. Color never had anything to do with it.
I know that I need a year of yes of my own. I don’t think I say it enough but coming to United States, especially Boston, made me yet broke me in more ways that one. I lost my innocence and optimism in Boston, one racist incidence after another. I think I allowed myself to be made small, to be told not dream, to accept that in many ways I can’t be the type of success I always dreamed I wanted to be. Some would say I did not try but I dare anyone to walk into a room where no one looks like you, sounds like you or understands you and still feel comfortable. I have been doing some of the work in preparation for my Big 30 but reading Year of Yes makes me realize that I need to do more.
I need to open myself to more things that scare me. Nothing scares me at the moment like dating does. Putting myself out there is like asking people to judge me and tell me if I am worthy. But the thing is that the dream for me has always been marriage, children, the house and maybe a cat or dog. My dreams have nothing to do with traditions of being an African woman. They have everything to do with the need to love, to care, to have my own tribe and to create a home. So as scary as dating seems, nothing seems scarier to me going out of my 20s that a life spent alone without a home, a place and a people to ground me. Ms. Rhimes says dreams don’t come true by dreaming but by doing. I need to be live life more fully in lusty pursuit of impossible dreams. I need to be a doer.
Be a doer, not a dreamer.
-Shonda Rhimes ‘Year of Yes’
Reading Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes, I can tell already, is going to have a huge impact on how I look at what it means to be an introvert. I have laughed, I have cried, I have had deep thought and really shallow thoughts reading this book. I have paused and raced through this book. I have felt the magnitude of this book. I have gifted out this book. I have recommended this book. I recommend this book.
I decided that I wanted more for my life so I decided to do something about it. Learn something new. Pick up some new skills, stretch myself in ways that I am afraid to. I signed up for classes on Coursera. I actually reached into my pocket, paid the class fees and started learning. 4 hours of learning later or so, I feel like I have reached the most logical point to give up. Fuck all my aspirations, hopes and dreams. Forget about my life time. In this moment when I feel uncomfortable, I have reached the logical point to give up. I could spend my whole life complaining about why I don’t feel satisfied instead of pushing myself to do something new.
I told my sister I was starting classes online. She told me she was afraid for me. I have been diagnosed with chronical lack of follow through. I have no willpower. I hate being uncomfortable. I would rather do the same thing over and over again then be uncomfortable. Haven’t you heard? I ate the same plate of food from a restaurant for a week because I was afraid that I might hate everything else. Why ruin a mediocre life with adventures when I could be just okay? Just okay paying my bills, just okay intellectual simulation, just okay lifestyle. I could tell my mother every phone call that I am grateful for the just okay life. Alihamdulilahi for the just okay.
I think it is probably a sin to confuse complacency with gratitude. A very thin line it is but there comes a point when saying “I am grateful for what I have” becomes a sin because you are refusing to push yourself just further. I think I have reached the logical point to quit just okay. I am done. I am going to put on my big girl pants and get to work.
This is one of the hardest things I will probably do. This is probably the most rewarding thing I will probably do. I feel like at 29, I am ready to let go of my inhibitions and become more than just okay. I want to see in myself what my mother, father, sister, mentors and friends see in me. I want to be more than just okay.
When we think about giving, we often think about billionaires or millionaires who give in such a lot way. Or we think about some big charitable donation. Or some heart warming story. All these are good examples of giving. But if giving scares you because you feel like you can’t make a grand gesture, there are ways to give in bits and pieces. There is no wrong form of giving.
As a child, one of the rituals that my mother built into our journey to school was giving. At the Festac gate, when traffic would trap us, she would extend her hands out and give to the beggars on the street. In my family, quite a few people are known for carrying spare change that is specifically for giving alms. Now as an adult, that is a habit that I am trying to cultivate. A habit of giving not in extraordinary circumstances or quantity but just as an habitual thing that I don’t think about. I have built a margin of giving into my budget.
For me, I have found that one of the easier ways to give is through my pay check. My company supports a charitable foundation whose goals are aligned with my ideals, so I simply have always chosen the option to donate a fixed portion of my paycheck. The other avenue that comes for giving is through tipping. Yes, there are times when I refuse to tip generously because of bad service. However, there are certain services that I have committed a certain level of tips for such as my taxi ride home. There are days when I want to give less but I have learned to give regardless of my circumstances at the moment. I have found that when I give, I never lack; and for that I am thankful.
Giving for is an act of self gratitude. It is a way of recognizing and appreciating my privileges. In the past, I have tried to give through specific organization like Kiva that allow me to give money as a loan and recycle the money. This something that I would like to return to in the future when I can make larger commitments. In the meantime, I intend to keep giving in bits and pieces here and there
How have you cultivated a habit of giving? Tell me in the comment section
In the past couple of years, I have pretty much maintained the same financial commitments. I have lived in the same house. Taken public transportation work. Used the same phone plan, etc. Lately though I have been thinking to myself that I want to move closer to the city or at least buy a car. Then I sit down and do the financial maths. I think I can afford to do this. However, there are days when I get scared and I tell myself to thread carefully. What about all of the other savings goals that I have set for myself?
So I have decided that the best way to ascertain if I can actually afford to increase my financial commitment is to act as if I have those commitments already. A few years ago, I was watching a talk show and I think it was Suze Orman who advised a couple to determine if they could afford a bigger house and a bigger mortgage by pretending like they had made the leap. The trial phase helps to figure out how much of a strain making the increased financial commitment would be on a day-to-day basis. It is always easy to make a budget on paper. You cut a little bit of this and a little bit of that. However in real life, your daily happiness quota might just hang on being able to afford that extra manicure every month. Or knowing that you can see a movie on a whim without breaking the bank.
Financial planning, I am learning everyday, should not be about living a miserable life now to reach some happy place later. Financial planning has to balance current needs and WANTS with future needs and WANTS! This is why I think practicing increasing my financial load will help me determine if I am ready or not. Practicing would mean figuring how much extra moving into a new house or buying a new car would cost me monthly. The extra is then deposited into my savings account. In about 3-6 months, I will be able to determine if the extra commitment is livable. At the end of the trail period, I am rewarded with more money in my savings account that I can use to cover short term expenses of either buying a car or moving house.
Do you have any goals that you need to practice for? Tell me in the comment section.