The Perfect Day.

Hi there! D&T here!

I’m so excited to have Tony be a guest blogger today, in introducing our next podcast! THIS was such a fun one! (Listen to the podcast now on Libsyn!) You can also find it on your Podcast App/itunes @ meaningful childless life.

We got this idea from Mike Bledsoe (Barbell Shrugged Podcast) and Kent Clothier. So here’s the premise: Write out the details of which create YOUR perfect day! Without any financial or location restrictions, how do you see yourself spending the day from wake up to bedtime? It helps (and is most fun) to be as detailed as possible. You’ll quickly come to realize that it’s a considerably tough exercise! I found that starting with the first question… Where does this perfect day take place?… to be tremendously hard.

So we thought it would be fun to go about this exercise individually, and then share them for the first time to each other on the podcast! Cool! I should add, that this exercise is meant to get you thinking in terms of your future you. In other words… this day you come up with, is something that you should be striving for and/or something you can pull ideas from! So without further ado, let’s introduce our next podcast with Tony’s essay style guest-post!

 


The Perfect Day

What is it? What should it be? So farfetched that it is ridiculous, and unobtainable? Or something you can reach out and touch? Would you celebrate New Year’s in all four time zones flying on a private jet to some swank roof top party? Or would you have a fire pit burning and 4 or 5 of your closest friends and family? Is it a beach landscape, mountains, how about a desolate desert with the only hopes of color coming in the form of an oasis? What is more important; the company you keep, or where you keep your company?
I have had many great days in my life. Days that resulted in those memories being seared into my mind like grill marks on an overpriced steak. As I prod the basement levels of my mind to find those memories, I am seeing a pattern form. They were simple. There was nothing overly special, or incredible about them. At least not to the naked eye. A few minutes have passed since my last keystroke. A little more digging. A lot of cobwebs in here. As I am reaching the sub-levels I am making the same realization as before; simplicity.
You may be wondering why I am digging through years of memories just to create a fictional ‘perfect day’. Shouldn’t it be easy? A day at the beach if you will. Ha, see what I did there? Here is something way too deep to be included in an exercise that should be fun and carefree. It is a lesson I learned after Uncle Sam and I signed our divorce paperwork.
WARNING WARNING – We’re getting off track!!
It took me a while to figure out life after the military, and the one of the most difficult things to accept was that I now had the freedom of choice. Let me retype that; THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE!!!!!!! Not that you don’t make choices in the military, but let’s face it, many of them are made for you. Civilian life provides you with almost unlimited choices.
BACK ON TRACK!!
So back at it. The reason why this is challenging (for me at least) is that once again, I have unlimited choices. I go back to my first paragraph (beach, mountains or desert?). And that is just one choice. Let’s not forget the who, what, when, why, how we still have to figure out. Am I making this too complicated? Probably. Maybe it is just the way my mind works.
I am also realizing that you may learn a thing or two about yourself in this exercise. For example; are you the type of person who will queue up memories or your own personal happiness, or achievements? Or perhaps a time when someone very close to you was happy? For you parents out there, do your happiest memories include your children? Or do you include a time in your life before children were present? Would your perfect day include your children, or perhaps just you and your spouse? And let me be perfectly clear here, I am NOT trying to judge anyone, or call anyone self-centered or anything crazy like that. I missed the day they were giving out PhD’s in Psychology, so no judgment or analysis happening here. Well not true, I am analyzing myself. But I don’t think I can offend anyone by doing that.
What a mind fuck this is. I never in a million years envisioned myself struggling to put together a rock star day to have. I think the reason I am having such a problem is that I have probed opposite ends of the spectrum throughout my life. I have learned to live under high stress with adrenaline pumping, but also with extreme calm, and boredom that would drive a Tibetan monk insane. I love skydiving, but I also love sitting on the couch and running through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love being surrounded by family and friends, but also love a quiet day to myself.
I think in the end I am realizing a perfect day is more of a feeling, rather than something tangible. We’ll see what D thinks of that answer. Perhaps I’ll have a backup plan when we record our episode and reveal our answers to each other. Hmmmmm skydive in Dubai for breakfast, surf North Shore for lunch, a remote restaurant along a fjord in Norway for dinner, riding a horse in Australia’s outback to watch the sunset, and fall asleep on the Tran Siberian railway……..

Importance of Goal Setting for the Childless/Childfree

If you’d like to start with the podcast instead of skipping through this outline, here it is! =) 

It’s also available on iTunes! For Apple iPhone users, you can use the  icon_340.png (podcast) app! We have fixed the issue with the search for “Meaningful Childless Life” and it should be easy to find now. Also, if you would like for the podcasts to download when they’re available, go ahead and subscribe to the podcast. If you need help with any of this please feel free to ask or leave a comment and I’ll get back to you! Free free to rate the podcast and give it five stars ;)))

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Hey everyone! Dee here!

Tony and I finally sat down to record another podcast! Shwew! This past weekend was the OCB Body Sculpting Championship in Hampton, VA and Tony, Paul and I knocked it out! The last handful of weeks prior to the show absorbed every last minute I had, but we’re back in podcast action!

In this podcast episode, I’ll share a few lessons I learned along the 12 week journey to the stage.  Also, we delve into our most recent and future goals and the importance of goal setting for the childfree folk. And without fail, we get into a few ramblings, admixed with goal-setting tips for our fellow MCL tribe members!

I wanted to share the outline to our show in blog format for those of you who don’t have time to listen to our ramblings.

The importance of setting goals for the childfree folk: Raising children is God’s work. Parent’s deserve all the kudos in the world for what it is they do on the daily. What I’m saying here, is that living without children comes many “cons”… those of which we won’t dig into today. But with these cons in the background, we must put all our PROS into the forefront! HELLO PROS! One pro includes TIME. Ahhhh…. something you just can’t make more of or get back. Well, with the added time on your childless hands, you are much better off tackling goals than sitting back and letting time take you away. Years could go by and you could be the same person! Ew! No thank you! Now let’s get to the goal setting:

2 RULES ON SETTING NEW GOALS:

  • Focusing on less… is more —> You are capable of greatly enhancing one aspect of your life if you are not trying to tackle all things at one time. Focus on less, and do it greatly, vs focusing on everything, while doing it poorly. Set a single goal, put your head down and DRIVE. If you are comfortable with setting a fewer small goals vs one larger goal, then go for it. Just be sure you are organized enough to schedule out time for these things and stick to them.
  • DO NOT set unrealistic goals! What’s that saying? “Shoot for the moon… if you miss, you’ll still land among stars.” Yikes. I don’t know about you, but if I shot for and missed the moon, those stars would be getting some dirty looks. haha. Let’s set realistic achievable goals so that we can keep our winning streak up and our momentum going!

TAKING ACTION:

  • SELF TALK
    • Insert your new sentence here: I am a ________ (writer, podcaster, athlete, etc). This is important. You don’t have to 100% believe that it’s true, but writing that down on the daily can really start to convince anyone. Provide yourself with positive self talk and you can literally fake it until you make it. “Create a catalytic voice that accelerates your mission.”
  • CREATE
    • If what you want doesn’t exist in chasing, then create your own industry and let the world try to break into you.
  • FOCUS
    • Focus on the process of learning, not the end goal. The transformation phase happens right under your nose. Open those nostrils and get a big WHIF!
  • COMFORT ZONE WARNING
    • People confuse comfort with happiness. You must chase discomfort to achieve your next goal. When your life is comfortable there’s no anticipation. You must break out of your comfort zone, because change only comes when facing resistance. At the end of a difficult journey is an even more peaceful state.

HOW TO MAINTAIN, FOLLOWING ACHEIVEMENT: 

On the ride back from the competition we talked about the things I enjoyed vs the things I did not enjoy. It’s important to have a takeaway from the achieving the goal that you can utilize for the rest of your life. Hello! So… pluck those gems out of your journey which you found enjoyment and add them to the next phase. Maintaining takes much less effort because you’re not dealing with as much of the discomfort. This opens yourself up to receive discomfort from your next MAIN GOAL.

PODCAST TAKEAWAY:

When you invest in yourself, your relationships and the world around you are enhanced. 

——– Connect with us! ——–

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Dee_Viapiano

Email

meaningfulchildlesslife@yahoo.com

 

Childfree: Responses to the “Selfishness”

Hey all! Dee here!

I’m excited to get into this discussion today! This little play on words is something that just came to me one morning during a sweat sesh and I thought I’d sit down and write about it.

And don’t worry – of course Trex and I will be doing a podcast on this subject! Our goal with discussing this topic is not to get any feathers ruffled but rather to get the 🐘’s out of the room so we can get to the fun stuff!

So let’s do it! We have found that the MOST common argument made against childfree folk is that we are selfish. Many examples of this are listed on endless blog posts and forums in which childfree people and parents spend time out of their day battling about these things. Ahem… who does that?? Anyway.. let’s get this out of the way so we can get to the things that add meaning to our lives!

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“People who are childfree just seem so SELFISH.”

Boom! A salty parent just verbally smacked you across your childfree face! What do you say to this unasked for opinion? Well, here’s your answer. I’ve thought long and hard about this.. wait for it…

____insert crickets__.

Okay, maybe you can’t go mute on a coworker or stranger, but when it comes to that relative who won’t get off your back… here are a few rebuttals to the “selfish poke.”

“I’ve decided to contribute to society in other ways. Maybe they’re not REPRODUCTIVE ways but in fact they’re PRODUCTIVE ways.” The real key here is to not be lying. That really helps with the delivery. My second tip is to wait for the response and to not feel pressure to have to list examples. What you’ve said is enough.

“I’ve found that my career has led me to the lifestyle that I don’t agree would benefit a child. It would be irresponsible of me.” This is a good one for those who live an insane lifestyle. No one can truly shake their head at you for being responsible.

“I, alone, am enough of a financial burden. I believe bringing a baby into a situation where I couldn’t properly provide for them is irresponsible. Having one right now, regardless of my support capabilities, would be selfish.” This one’s for those who absolutely can’t fathom taking on the $300,000 (average) of financial expense in the next 18 years, on top of student debt and cost of living. How on earth is this decision selfish?

___________________________________________ _Mcl

 

Meaningful Childless Life Podcast Launch!

It’s finally here!!!

My thoughts have been brewing over this idea for two years now and I’m finally giving it a GO! This may seem sort of strange that I am proud to launch a childless life podcast but this has been a topic I have been too shy or embarrassed to discuss and it’s time to make a change to that. It’s a bit of a taboo subject but I believe it doesn’t have to be. I would like to share my story in hopes that I can reach a few readers/listeners who relate. When you live a nonsocial norm lifestyle, it is important to surround yourself with a solid community who you can share thoughts and moments with. It is my dream, with the help of my husband and closest friends to create a Childless Community.

Here’s my story:

I was so distracted I didn’t have time to mourn the news. I was nearing the end of Graduate School at WVU. I couldn’t wait to finally settle in somewhere, buy a home, start my career, start a family, and live out this life. I was readying myself for my final presentation on breast carcinoma when I had to skip off to a doctor’s appointment. An ultrasound was scheduled to take a look at my ovaries which were giving me tremendous pain upon exercise. Polycystic Ovarian Disease, they mentioned. I knew what it was. In fact I’ve dissected many ovaries with this disease. I rolled my eyes at it, telling myself “I told you so.”

Then it came. The technician took the cold slimy stick and aimed it at my uterus. She turned the screen in my direction and said, “Did you know you have a bicornuate uterus? …potentially with a septum?” It looked evil. Maybe like a “hook-em horns” off a Texan’s sports cap? Or did it look a little more like a heart? Maybe this was some nightmare and I could aim that ultrasound stick at my martian-looking organ, have it shoot lazer beams and disintegrate my uterus? Humph.

My malformed uterus didn’t have that dome shape like a hot-air-balloon does, in order to house a growing baby. In fact, the technician carelessly blurts out, “Oh, yeah, people with your malformation have about a 20-30% chance of carrying to full term. They tend to lose it in the 2nd trimester due to growth restriction complications. If it does survive, you could be dealing with a load of birth malformations due to growth restriction.” The polycystic ovarian disease certainly doesn’t increase my chances. Wow, thanks for the comforting, informative chat Technician. That was the longest elevator ride to the parking deck I’ve ever had.

With my unfinished presentation in the passenger seat, I knew I had to do two things: focus… and eat. I felt numb as I carried my food to the back corner of Chick-fila. Within minutes, I realized I was sitting next to the playscape and distracted by children playing when it all finally hit me. A little boy (of about 3ish) paused to sit in the plastic bubble in the very top of the play tower. We locked eyes. He placed his hand upon the plastic wall and it felt as if he was looking into my soul. Maybe he felt my sadness (maybe he thought I was some creeper staring at children?). Then he smiled at me for what seemed like forever. It was this moment I realized I’d never have a moment like that with a child of mine. I’d never see his/her smiling face. I’ll never come out of the bathroom with that excited, “Surprise! We’re pregnant!” Life would be much different.

The next morning the numbness eased up a bit, due to my shift of focus. I had to make this presentation good. I have an interest in breast pathology more than any other pathology, so at least the subject had me excited. I was pretty certain that the puffy bags under my eyes were visible to the entire room. Were there holes in my summary, for all the interjected thoughts I had while putting the end together? I left afterward not telling a single soul, but receiving compliments on my presentation. The focus on this project was life saving, as sometimes, distractions are pure blessings. I realize now that sometimes that’s all we let life be – one big distraction.

It’s been almost four years. My state of acceptance versus an ache for childrearing is now at 99% to 1%. I consciously know now, what I’ve always known in the past: That life is what we make of it. I now refuse to be distracted in order to tuck away unwanted emotions. We live to feel and to be felt. I have “settled in, bought a house, started a family and a career” and along the way, these four years alone have taught me a lot. Some of us are meant for something much different.

I have always had the tendency to appreciate simple things in life. I have recently worked on aligning and tending to my desires and needs and am allowing myself to tap into avenues others don’t find time or energy for. Holding a meaningful, fulfilled, happy life isn’t only for those with children.

We all have tough choices to make in life. I can choose to go forward with a procedure that could put me in tons of risk of uterine rupture. I can choose to adopt. But it is 2017, and I can also choose to be childfree.

If you’d like to take a listen to our very first podcast, please do! Please no harsh judging as I was very nervous for this first one! haha. I know it’ll get much easier and more and more fun with each episode. We plan to share much of our insight on the topic but also the ways we add “meaning” to our lives. Many trips and hobbies will be shared! Come along with us and let us know your thoughts on the subject! We want to hear from you!

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Cheers – to changing lives for the better.

meaningfulchildlesslife@yahoo.com

Follow us on Facebook!

Click here to listen to our first Podcast episode on Libsyn. 

Also available for free download on iTunes (or on your Podcast app)! th.jpeg

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It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking.

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than it is to think your way into a new way of acting. – Founder of Habitat of Humanity.

I love the featured image, as it’s one of the first moments I had launching myself out of an airplane solo. So close to getting that sky diving license! I digress….but I promise it relates! Because to do that, you have to act your way into a new way of thinking. =P It takes a lot of mental work! I would like to use this post as a follow up to my previous emotional blog post. Did I completely lose it or what? This is what happens when you’re calorie depleted, if you wanted to know! haha! I went to bed that night so negative about the “prep” that I’m currently up to the knees in. Physique competition training is beyond mentally exhausting. We all know how to exercise. But a competition like this is really just all mental. And it hit me harder than a ton of bricks yesterday.

A few ways I pushed through that moment:

Friends and family – They are so good at knowing how to be supportive of any decision I make but also providing motivating words which revitalize me and remind me of who I am and can be.

Faking it – I had my outfit, food and work stuff prepped for the next day like nothing was to change. I woke up with my energy feeling like a 5 out of 10, but I went through the motions… “faking” like I was still a “competitor.” The least I could do was step foot in the gym. Even if I don’t try, I’m still there right? WELL… that’s when endorphins kick in and then you end up having a KILLER workout! So there it is… act your way into a new way of thinking!

Respect – If could split myself into two people: Person # 1, who is super motivated and ready to take on the next day, and Person #2, who is a drag and just wants to eat and have more free time to do nothing… I would NOT let person number #2 influence person #1. Why should person #2 self destruct and take person #1 down with her? That’s disrespectful to all the hard work she put in. If you wouldn’t do it to someone else, DON’T do it to YOURSELF.

You can accomplish anything in 12 weeks – Surely this isn’t nearly as bad as bootcamp or grad school. Get on with it. It could ALWAYS be worse. Maturity comes when you postpone immediate pleasures for long term values. 

People have accomplished more than you, with LESS and complained LESS – Haven’t you seen Million Dollar Baby!?

You are not your emotions – That person inside of you can be a complete winey bitch. That isn’t you self loathing, it’s your hormones. Whether they’ve got you spilling over due to low calories, low carbs or just pure stress… that is not YOU talking. See this post about me being Emo. If you can’t get out of your mind, get into your body (always, alwayyyyys works).

Countdown – My husband and closest friends are big on countdowns. We have a cruise set up just two weeks after the show!! It’ll be an amazing gift at the end of all of this. And having that to look forward to and countdown to helps tremendously!

And those were techniques I used to keep at it. I am officially past half way and counting. I’m proud of the work I’ve put in and ready to hit the stage at 100%.

Cheers!

– BnG –

 

To Compete or Not to Compete

I’ve gotten through the hardest part of this prep. It’s been 5.5 weeks of training THROUGH Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 

But I sit here on Monday, January 2nd with second thoughts. Why on earth would I look back now when I have just 6.5 weeks left (almost HALF way), and this second half will be tough no doubt but without the strain of the holidays goodies and get-togethers. 

What happened today of all days that I hit a weakness and wanted to give up? Today that itch is really scratching and it’s making me nervous.

My first mistake was this morning when I dug through all my pictures from my first show (last year). I placed second in the Open Figure. Just one place shy of getting my Pro card on my first show. It was until that moment on stage that I told myself I’d never do it again.

After the show I found myself looking at my stage self and wishing my shoulders were more defined, I had more veins popping, etc… I should have been more than happy with it. But all I was, was critical of my hard earned physique that got me second place.

So, this morning, after getting up at the usual 4:20am for the weight training and cardio session, I tore through photos and started comparing my “6 weeks out” photos from then and now. Nothing different. In fact, I must’ve been feeling pretty miserable because I actually thought I looked less ready this time, this far out when all this time I felt I had a head start. (??) 

In these moments, I asked myself (AGAIN), what I was getting out of competing? If I’m going to look exactly how I looked the first time… then what’s the point? I certainly don’t have the adrenaline of doing my first show lighting my way. If I could walk off stage last time as critical as I was… and I was in the same boat right now… what’s the point of all the misery?

So why did the idea of doing a second competition come about? I had mentioned competing one more time because of getting that close to a pro card. But the idea was to do it in the SPRING. But as I looked up shows for the Spring, I saw one for Feb 18th (OCB). I shook my head at it because it was during the holidays and you have to be NUTS to give up your happiness (ahem, Buckeyes, neighbor Gene’s coffee cake, Jim and Mary’s cooking😳)… for a show?! No thanks!!!

Then one morning my husband comes home from working a 12 hr night shift. Somehow he pulls energy out of nowhere and wants to work out! He’s so pumped he tells me he wants to do the Feb 18th show and to tell my coach RIGHT NOW so we could get on board the gain trainnnn! 😂oh boy. He hadn’t done a show before and I got excited he was wanting to do one with me. It can’t be that bad if we do it together right? Which means a spotter! And no distracting treats in the house! Yesss! 4 to 6 days later, he threw in the towel because he was told to consume 4 times the amount of food he was used to and it was physically making him ill. I wish I had that same prescription (or do I? I’m not sure). But regardless, I don’t blame him AT ALL. 

So see… at this point, I don’t want to disappoint my coach I used the first time around. Kenny (my coach) had just earned his PRO card THAT weekend and he was willing (and super excited!) to work with me again and I didn’t want for both of us to up and quit his already worked up plan. So I stayed the coarse. 

Not because I wanted to be on stage, or win a pro card, or have that “figure physique” for like a week… but because I didn’t want to be a quitter. 

I cannot believe I’ve gotten this far based off of my motivation being truly 80% “not wanting to be a quitter.” It’s borderline insane. If it weren’t for a refeed on Christmas… 🤤(THANK GOD) I truly don’t know if I would have made it this far.

SECONDLY, nothing good comes from establishing a poor relationship with food. I now remember who I was back in my first prep. I now remember why I said in the weeks leading up to the show that I’d never do one ever again. I hate that I want all the things I can’t eat so badly when I never wanted them before prep. It’s about to get real scary post show. Pray for me 😜.

THIRDLY, I’ve already said this briefly but I feel the need to reiterate… if I was going to quit, it should have been during the HOLIDAYS!! 😡😡😡

So here I am. I’m thinking because I’ve had the last four days off of work to be surrounded by these devilish foods without a distraction, that I’m at my tipping point. 

I told myself I’ll wait until the end of the week once I’m back to crushing it at work and in my distraction filled routine, to see if I still feel the same.

I hate quitting. I know I can do this. I would be crushing the training regardless. There’s just something about the drag of food owning you, your time and your happiness. I feel so selfish. I’m promising myself right here that I will never do another show. And I make that promise even if I snatch up a Pro Card. 

Any other blog post I would normally share would be filled with motivation, and words of mental toughness. But let’s be real… we all feel really weak sometimes. Sometimes we need to re-evaluate why we do the things we do. Why so much pressure? Who’s putting on the pressure. We can’t live in pure comfort because you get no where fast with a plan like that. But on occasion, we all need to release our inner turmoil. Thanks for reading! Means a lot! 😉

Cheers 

-BnG-

    Synergy

     

    What do you see in this photograph? RED! The color is so prominent and beautiful that everything else just fades into the background. The sunlight hit this row of bushes one morning so wonderfully, I had to snap a photo. For a second I thought this was beyond beautiful… But then.. it got me thinking.

    ______________________

    Synergy, in definition, is “the interaction or cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” – Oxford Dictionaries. 

    _____________________

    This word has stuck with me for YEARS in that… “This word will inspire my next tattoo” sort of way.   I recall visiting my Nini during one of my college summer breaks and explaining to her that I needed to draw something that would resemble this word. I wanted to brand myself with a synergistic image that reminded me daily about the importance of balance in life. To me, synergy is a strong personal growth concept that can change your outlook entirely.

    Keeping balance in today’s day in age is utterly exhausting. When we spend too much energy on one category of our lives, other categories suffer. Maybe you pride yourself on being a “career driven person,” but what does your social health look like? It’s NEW YEARS (!) and a great time to reflect on how the following categories have stacked up in your life:

    Spiritual

    Vocational

    Non-vocational

    Social

    Financial 

    There’s much research that notes the importance of journaling and writing exercises. I’m a huge fan. Who doesn’t love the old school feeling of a nice sharpened pencil and piece of paper?! I would suggest you set a goal to sit down at least annually to complete the following exercise.

    You’re going to need one page per category (feel free to add categories). Begin by writing the category at the top. Then answer the following questions for each category.

    • Start with ONE category at a time.
    • On a scale of 1-10, what do you rate your (insert one category) health?
    • Have you improved on this category from last year? How so? Really dig in on this one as it’ll allow you to elaborate on your rating. 
    • In what ways is your (insert category) health limited?
    • Brainstorm a list of related goals for next year! Fun fun! Let it be serious to silly – to outrageous! 
    • Rate them from most important to least important.
    • Take your top three and spend time on each one, listing ideas as to how you can achieve this goal. The ideas might be as crazy as – Start a Meetup! (Social health) or as small as – practice for 5 minutes per day. You could do it! 
    • Once you’ve evaluated each category, take a look at how you can organize your day to pick away at bettering your balance!

    I have yet to get that tattoo. If you have any artistic ideas, I’d love to see/hear them! ;))

    Also! Upon listening to The Radical Personal Finance Podcast, host Joshua Sheets gives a huge shoutout to Michael Hyatt – a New York Times Best Seller and creator of LifeScore Assessment! I loved the sound of it (obvi) ☺️. Head on over to his website and take a more calculated look at your rating!

    Happy New Years!

    – BnG –

     

    Paying $64,500 of student loan debt in 1 year/10 months.

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    You read it right. My husband and I paid off a $64,500 student loan in 1 year and 10 months. And I’ve never felt so free.

    For the past 9 years, my life has been about how much student loan debt I was either wracking up or paying down. When you start college, and take out loans to do so…you make a deal with the devil. You tell yourself, “I will graduate with an everlasting career and I will pay back my loans x 3 (interest).” For most of us who don’t have parental financial support (which I wouldn’t have wanted anyway), scholarships or any other college fund assistance… it’s inevitable. But what is not inevitable is you tapping to the choke hold debt puts on you the moment you graduate. Lets talk. These are the rules:

    ___________________________

    If you can guarantee yourself that your graduating annual salary will be MORE than your sum of student loans… then you’re “OKAY.” I stole this one from Clark Howard. He’s the man. When in undergrad I heard this as I geeked out on his radio station and I told myself that that was my goal. When I graduated from undergrad with $9,000  student debt but only making $13.50/hour, I was still right side up but felt upside down.  I laid out my options. I reallllllly wanted to go to Graduate School to be a Pathologists’ Assistant. But, would I graduate with the annual salary being more or less than the two years of additional school debt I’d wrack up? And is this a pretty promising career path? I did the math and research. I submitted my application right away!

    Once you have saved (in liquid cash) 6 months of emergency fund… every single additional dollar should go toward your student loan. After obsessing over the podcast Radical Personal Finance with Joshua Sheats, I realized how important it was to KNOW what you’re actually spending money on every month. So for three months time we told ourselves we would track every single penny that went out.  You may have thought we then became tight asses – but that’s not true. We spent the way anyone else would but we just kept a record of it. Trust me, it’s a pain in the ass. Entirely. But it was so worth it. All along we thought we spent $300-ish on groceries, but it was more like $450. You get the point.  A real eye opener this was. But here’s the take away. Even if you don’t want to adjust your life or make a budget… you should know at the end of tracking for a few months exactly how much money is “left over” at the end of the month. This money does not belong to you – it belongs to the student loan. If you don’t have extra money at the end of the month – you’re doing something wrong. Maybe you need a budget.

    Finding supporting ways of income WHILE going to school.  This can be drudging but in the long run, you’ll be glad you made the sacrifice. I was so lucky to have grown up in a small town. But the only real way out was the military or college. I decided to look into the Air National Guard unit because I wasn’t sure as to which one I wanted to pursue. It turned out I could do BOTH!! And the Guard would pay 80% tuition for the private college (100% state school tuition) I wanted to attend. Sweet. During school, I opted to deploy a couple of times. With two boluses of money earned on these deployments I didn’t bat an eye to toss it toward the 20% I was owing on school. I used what was left for living expenses. I remember coming home from deployment the first time and I had $15,000 saved up. I sat staring at the computer screen getting ready to push the “pay” button with $13,000 going toward my student loan and I felt so nauseous. I was a Junior in college with just a couple thousand to my name… had spent the last 7 months doing some of the most intense work I had experienced in my lifetime… and I was about to send it off to the bank. It hurt. When you have the guts to do that – give yourself a pat on the back.

    DO NOT defer your student loans. Are you willing to increase the total amount you owe? In the case of deferment of unsubsidized loans and for all forbearance, any unpaid accrued interest is added to the capital (source). Also, private loans usually have a fee for deferment. You have to really read the fine print. Because where you may have the option to defer for a full year, you may end up more indebted in the long run. At the very least, the minimum payment should be priority and you should shape the rest of your lifestyle around it. So unless you are having some serious medical health issue or have been laid off… you have no excuse to not make that minimum payment. Or else you’re literally “buying” time.

    Stop being a consumer and start being a contributor. Think back to the American homestead. Our homes, our backyards, our belongings were all assets. They used to work for US. You planted gardens, your home was paid off/passed down. Not until recent decades did we start making granite and hard wood floors a MUST have item in our homes and stopped planting gardens. We have truly gone so far away from what is necessary and what used to provide us with something to what we need to “dish out” to even live with all of our belongings. Example: People don’t keep cars after they’ve paid them off. We trade them in while still owing on them, only to begin a new payment schedule on a newer car. Therefore, your vehicle isn’t working for you. You’re working for it. Nowadays the things we collect or have bring us down. If what you’re buying isn’t an investment on your life in some way, shape or form… you’re just another consumer. How lame. Self investment example: Maybe a new pair of shoes WILL help you get through your day in comfort. Maybe you love to hike every weekend and you need a backpack to hold your snacks, water and gear. THOSE can be called investments. Buying a dress in 3 different colors….not an investment. Hopefully you get the point. Find ways in which you can contribute or make a difference in your life or in those around you instead of focusing on all that material crap that will drag your ass down the debt hole.

    Be a bit radical – it’s only temporary. I have to give my husband a TON of credit. He had his nest egg. But he was onboard with tackling this student debt of mine (since he didn’t have any himself) and it was his chunk of money we tossed at it that got it down to a good manageable amount. But that didn’t happen until we hit about $45,000. Once he decided it was time to toss his nest egg at it, we started to see the light and it was time to play dirty. It was our common enemy. The sooner we could pay this off.. the sooner all that income was OURS! Mwuah hah hah haaaaaa! Throughout the two years of repayment we dumped our entire tax returns on the sum, a lot of random bonus checks, ect. We would literally earn a chunk of money and never even focus on the total, in knowing that it wasn’t actually “ours.” It worked! The more and more you make the debt something fun you’re destroying together the easier it is to make those radical and sometimes risky moves!

    So those are my tips! Don’t get yourself down about it. If it’s a gigantic monster of a number, just plug away at it a little bit at a time. Always make the minimum payment and figure out how much at the end of the month you have in free floating money that you can use to destroy it. Don’t go buy yourself a blue shade of the same shoes you have in gray – put it toward your loan. You don’t deserve that sort of play money just yet. Then a couple of years from now you will look back and thank yourself each and every day.

    P.s. We saved almost $80,000 in loan interest by paying early. How’s that for motivation?

    -BnG-

     

     

     

    Privilege vs Adversity: The Art of Failing.

    This isn’t war. This isn’t you’re dead or undeafted.

    You’re allowed to fail here.

    “He’s going to be crushed if anything every REALLY happens to him!” screached my friend’s mother. She was dealing with her husband throwing a temper tantrum (ahem, at the age 55) about some small pidly thing he was obviously overwhelmed about. “This happens all the time. He has no clue what REAL problems are because he’s never faced any. So now when something doesn’t go his way, it throws him into a downward spiral.”

    I was only… ehhh.. maybe 18 when hearing her say these things and I got to thinking about this more. Obviously, it has stuck with me. I thought back to my upbringing. Most people will proclaim how “hard” they had it. I’m willing to bet that those who say this out loud haven’t even had a real run in with adversity. Especially nowadays. Even worse, many of those people use their “tough upbringing” as a scapegoat (eyeroll), but this article is not about that. It’s about our struggle with providing a cushy upbringing vs exposure to adversity. But nowadays, do people even know what adversity is? How are adversity, privilege and success related? While trying to provide a perfect world for our children, we are stunting their growth.

    ——————————————————————-

    Adversity – Difficulties and/or misfortune.

    Privilege – A special right or advantage.

    Failing – To be unsuccessful in achieving one’s goal.

    Coddling – To treat in an indulgent or overprotective way.

    ——————————————————————-

    Coddling: You’ve heard this before: “I just want to give my children more than what I had. I just want them to have it better than I did.” Puke. Sorry… that just always makes me queezy. You turned out alright, right? I’m not saying you have to send your child out alone in the wilderness, force them into 4 hours of daily chores, yell at them, toss them into a sport you know they won’t flourish in… but gosh dangit.. STOP CODDLING THEM! Let them explore. Let them climb the tire swing up into the tree without you freaking out they might somehow die from it. Let them feel failure and teach them how to get over it. Let them feel what it’s like to be “second best” and that desire in trying again for first place. Stop handing out participation awards to everyone. Survival of the fittest allowed humanity to thrive over time and now, in my opinion, we are putting a stop to thriving.

    Privilege is all nice and fluffy. A nice bubble forms around you and nothing can touch you, test you, challenge you. Here you are given opportunity after opportunity without the hard work, focus, perserverance and internal checks and balances. Fast forward from a privileged childhood to your adult life. You’re getting constructive crisitism from a boss, maybe heard that a rumor was being spread about you, maybe you missed your bus to work and now you’ll be late. What happens now?  You spaz out. The rest of your day is ruined. You call your mom and whine. Then you top off your evening with a few glasses of wine because… well… “It was just one of those days.”

    The real issue here is that people have heard “adversity is the key to success” a million times, but they just don’t relate that to their own lives. YOU CAN FAIL. YOU SHOULD FAIL. WITHOUT FAILURE, YOU LEARN NOTHING. YOU DO NOT GROW. For example, why does Military Boot Camp work so well? The process includes breaking down the mental state and then building it back up again. The trainees are constantly under stress and confronted with setbacks. Soon these things become the “usual” every day and they begin to respond more positively to those setbacks. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable is key. It’s the only way to ensure you can perform a task and complete a mission without being constrained by an unexpected event.

    In order to be stronger, to be resilient, to be adaptable and to be able to get on with life unmoved by it’s itsy bitsy stressors… you must not be sheltered. You must be tested and you must fail. Because after failure… success tastes so good.

     – BnG –

    A New Chapter. Bonus: To-Read-Book-List

    A New Chapter.

    I sit here eating asparagus and chicken… for breakfast. No fancy coffee and no belly warming carbs. At least they’re grilled. It’s the first meal of only 4 exactly like this. The chicken is a bit dry, and unfortunately I only get a 1/2 gallon of water today to wash it down with. My first Figure Competition is tomorrow morning!!! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not starved. In fact I get to carb load tonight like a mad man depending on my physique. It’s just the fact that there’s no choice in the matter. It’s just listening to orders… measuring, preparing, time managment, routine, discipline and acceptance of food for what it really is…. all of this is a phase. Not a lifestyle. This phase is almost over!!! I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

    Life in phases: Who you are today is not who you’ll be 6 months from now, and certainly not years from now. You’ll learn so much from here until then and the synergy of those things learned will morph you into a more well-rounded person. As we move along this timeline, a lot of times we catch ourselves doing the same thing, at the same time, every single week. Routine is great… but it’s the ever evolving routine that keeps us growing and progressing through time. If not evolving we may very well then always be the same person. How lame!

    We have choices: Everywhere you look, we have them. They poke at us through our technology, through our relationships, through receiving new information. But sometimes we get stuck in a comfort zone which keeps us from making a choice which will pull us from that comfort. In nearing the end of this “Phase” of my life, I can’t help but be so excited about what may come next! I have enjoyed this journey and challenge and have learned a TON from it! Next up… who knows? But certainly there is a whole world of choices to be made!

    If you’re like me, you may struggle with having too many choices. I tend to start all of them at once and barely chip away at them. This figure competition stuff has reminded me that sometimes in order to achieve that goal, you may have to put those other “fun” things on the back burner.

    I once heard (and unfortunately can’t remember the source!) that in order to help yourself decide on the next “phase” or goal, you simply ask yourself these questions:

    Which would you see yourself actually finishing?

    What’s the easiest one to finish?

    Which one gives you the most reward?

    The trick is to make a list of things that interest you and then begin placing them into the catagory. If one falls into multiple/all catagories, that’s the one you should tackle! If there is more than one that lands in all three… Well, shoot, there’s a choice you’ll have to make. Haha. I guess we just can’t get away from it!

    ———————————————–

    My Next Phase

     old-books

    I would like my default state to be reading. I have a ton of nonfiction books I would like to read but haven’t had the time to read them. I think this is going to to be my next phase! Of course I’ll slip some fiction in there because I’m currently on the fifth book in the Harry Potter Series and I’m told it’s a sin to not read them. <— I must agree now that I’m addicted. lol. Hmm maybe I’ll list those nonfiction books here. Don’t make fun. This is where I push up my nerdy glasses in nervousness. Forgive me if I just have the titles jotted down! I’m pulling them from a list on my phone which I update usually in a rush from place to place! lol

    1. Sex at Dawn.

    2. The Go Giver.

    3. Financial Early Retirement.

    4. Random Walk Down Wallstreet.

    5. 4 Pillars of Investing.

    6. The Success Factors.

    7. 4 Hour Work Week – Tim Ferriss

    8. How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    9. The Carpenter.

    10. The Autoimmune Solution – Amy Myers

    11. The Heroes Journey – Campbell

    12. The Language of God – Francis Collins

    13. Vagabonding – Rolf Potts

    14. The Art of Learning – Josh

    15. A town Called Alice.

    16. Daily Rituals.

    17. The Hormone Reset Diet.

    18. 100 Countries or an SUV.

    19. Alan Turing: The Enigma

    20. The Millionaire Next Door.

    21. Your Mind or Your Life.

    22. Rich Debt Poor Debt.

    23. 10 Day MBA.

    24. The Power of Full Engagement.

    25. Start With Why – Simon.

    26. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

    27. Influence – Robert.

    28. The Compound Effect – Hardy.

    29. Love Does.

    30. Radical Acceptance.

    31. Super Better.

    32. How to Travel the World on $50 a day.

    33. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon

    34. Black Swan (NOT THE MOVIE).

    35. Mom Inventors Handbook.

    36. The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion.

    37. Rich Dad Poor Dad.

    38. Impact: Four Phases of Financial Impact.

    ——> Looks like this Christmas I may need to ask for Kindle bucks. =)

    ——> Can you tell I love finance, self betterment and entrepreneurship and traveling?… and Lists?

    ——> Holy cow, I have a lot of choices to make, haha! I had no clue there were that many on my list!

    This is a short one and really not much substance, but I hope you may have been inspired to pick up something new today and focus on finishing it. I know I’m excited for the next chapter of my “book.”

    If you have any suggested nonfiction reading material please add it in the comments! I’d love to add it to my never ending list!

    -BnG-