The Plus Side

I figure I’ve subjected all of you (and me) to enough negativety for the time being and that it would probably benefit all of us if I were to acknowledge some of the good in my life right now because the truth is, there is lots of good.

I must confess, the three days since I published my holy-shit-we-can’t-take-this post have been pretty good. Mi.Vida and I have been more open and loving towards each other and on Thursday night his parents treated us to a yummy dinner. Before we went to bed on Wednesday we had a talk and conceded that while this was hard, it was only temporary and that things would probably get better sooner rather than later. The best part is, I think we actually believe that.

So, on to the (other) positives.

We are living within our means. I know I bitch and moan (incessantly) about how expensive it is here and how ridiculous it is that our decent salaries aren’t sufficient but the reality is, we are living off of what we make. Right now we are getting by without dipping into our savings, which is a great improvement over last year. I think I tend to obsess over all we’re sacrificing to live within our means, but fail to acknowledge the magnitude of the final result. Of course we need to start saving too, but maybe that won’t happen much until I’ve paid off my student loans, and that’s okay.

We are healthy. My probable depression aside, we’re all healthy right now and that is easy to take for granted when no one in your immediate family has ever been very sick. I know I forget how fortunate we are to be thriving physically and I don’t want to do that. We’re healthy, our parents are healthy and our daughter is healthy. In the end, that is really all the matters.

Yoga. Yoga has been so amazing for me. When I’m at yoga I feel strong, confident and self-assured. My body can do things in practice it could never do before I had a baby. I don’t think I’ve been this committed to yoga in all the years I’ve practiced and I can see how my body is benefiting from the investment. I’m eager to see what I’ll achieve after three more months of work.

My pre-pregnancy jeans fit. And I mean “my jeans,” my favorite jeans, not the random other pairs I own that I don’t really like. After just three months of yoga I’m within three pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight (I was lingering about 10-15lbs above it for months), and that was a weight I only achieved after many months of a restrictive TCM diet. To have achieved this weight while indulging in bread, pastas and processed foods is pretty impressive. I would venture to say I look better than I did before I got pregnant, at least in 95% of my body. Of course my stomach will never be the same, but that’s okay – my wardrobe has always been designed to hide my tummy flab.

We are learning valuable life skills. While the financial clamp down is stressful, I appreciate how it’s forced us to learn valuable skills for saving money. Not only am I changing the way I shop, I’m overhauling what we keep in the house, creating a less cluttered, more livable apartment for all of us. Not buying anything new allows me to  rediscover older clothes that have been tucked away for years. Even really wanting something I can’t have has it’s benefits. By the end of this year I will be certain of what materials things are most important to me. The items I still covet after six months (*cough, cough* Olympus PEN E-P3) are probably worth saving for. The stuff I forgot about? Well, I can’t buy something I don’t even remember wanting. We are also learning how to cope when our old fall backs aren’t an option. Throwing together a quick and easy dinner is no longer as difficult as it once was and I’m learning to semi-deep clean the house (or parts of it) in a reasonable amount of time.

Working part time. My current job situation has many pros and cons. For me the biggest pro is having the opportunity to see if I like it. I’ve always assumed that working part time would be an ideal situation and now I get to see if that’s true. Of course I’d much prefer four full days to five shortened days but that won’t happen with my position so I’ll take what I can get. And while this new situation makes me feel isolated and will force me to bring a lot of work home, I do appreciate have one less class to prep, teach and grade. Leaving early also means never worrying about hitting traffic, which is truly wonderful; I’m probably spending 2 hours less a week in the car. I also get to see Isa a little more, though it’s not much as she’s napping for the majority of my extra time at home. During nap time I have more opportunities to clean the house and do laundry; there is never anyone using the machines at 2pm so I can always get a load in. Finally, working part time is actually saving us money, as we are so fortunate to have people watching Isa for free during the day. I know how lucky we are to have that set up and I hope it allows us to save some money for next year.

We have support. The only reason working part time saves me money is because my FIL is kind enough to watch Isa for free four mornings a week. On Tuesdays a good friend is generous enough to watch her. Between my parents (who live about 45 minutes away, near my work) and Mi.Vida’s parents (who live less than 10 minutes away) we almost always have someone to watch Isa for us. They help us out constantly, watching Isa while we run errands or taking her for us so we can go out. They also do laundry for us (or just let us use their machines – which saves us $5 a load!), get us organic milk and yogurt at the store and drop off fully prepared meals; they even clean our house occasionally when we’re not around! Our parents are the main reason we haven’t really considered moving away from this insanely expensive city and that is because they provide endless support for us. We are truly lucky to have them around.

So yeah, there is A LOT of good in our lives. A lot. And I would be remiss in mentioning it here. Despite the very real difficulties it’s not all bad. Not by a long shot.

5 responses

  1. I think it’s always good when we are feeling depressed and overwhelmed by life to consider all the blessings in our lives, because there are always some. I am so glad you have such wonderful support from family- I have the same thing and consider it one of the greatest blessings in my life-this past year would have been so much more difficult if not for family.

    Also, I’ve said it before, but you really should be SO proud of yourself for what you are doing in terms of managing your finances and living within your means- you are definitely an inspiration to me!

    I’ve been thinking about your last 2 posts so much over the past few days and was trying to come up with some encouragement for you before I commented. I really couldn’t come up with anything great, mostly because I am struggling so much with the same issues. This year has been incredibly straining on my marriage and there are days I wonder if we can make it another day, much less the rest of our lives. But then I remember that is exaclty why you make a commitment- because if things were going to be easy, you wouldn’t need it.

    I hope that things start to get better, both in your relationship and your finances. It’s so, so hard- I know exactly where you are right now. Hugs!

    • Thanks for your words of support. I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said, about marriage being a commitment you make because it’s hard and it needs to be made. That is definitely important to consider and I will do that in the future. I’m sorry you are also having a hard time. I can’t imagine how hard your situation must be on a marriage – all the uncertainty and having to basically reinvent the wheel for Grayson because no one is quite sure what wheel fits him. Mi.Vida would be a wreck in that situation. I have so much respect for you and your husband, you’re doing such an amazing job.

  2. I think that while it’s all-too-easy to focus on the negatives (of which I am quite guilty!), your post is a great reminder to consciously shift our focus to the positives. And your frugality should be commended, as living within one’s means is so difficult in our hyper-consumerist society. I’m still trying to figure this one out (and it doesn’t help that I can easily justify large expenditures based on health-related needs)…

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