Thursday, June 20, 2013

Money Musings

When I said changes, I meant serious business. My husband and I have recently both put in resignations at our current day jobs, and are starting our respective new ones on the exact same day in july. There is substantial risk here, for we are taking a pay cut and leaving the comfort and safety of insurance and benefits. The exchange? More flexibility with our hours, which means increased creativity and more time with each other and our loved ones. For once, we are shifting focus away from the worry of the dollar sign and toward the light of our intuition. Like I said in the previous entry: Simplicity and joy. Bottom line.

For the Me of even one year ago, all of the changes necessary for a life overhaul would not just have seemed terrifying, but damn near impossible. Back then, it was a good day if I took a shower. But conscious growth and intentional living are powerful tools, indeed, and I now find myself poised and ready for whatever life brings. 

So far, I've found true change isn't pretty or comfortable at first. It requires you to sit and marinate in your crap for awhile. It requires you to detach from yourself and look at the situation to see where you may have screwed up to get you here in the first place. It requires you open the closet and let the skeletons fall out on top of you. It requires forgiveness. 

In short, change requires you to be really, really brave. And brevity isn't about not being scaredquite the opposite. It's about feeling the terror and walking through it anyway, a yearning to be on the other side of the pain. And it is in this holy instant that pure alchemy takes place, for it is through even the smallest willingness to see things another way that miracles occur.

For me, a big block in the way of my happiness has been finances. Like many, I grew up with parents who were not always wisest with their money (they would tell you this themselves if you asked!). Many of these habits have slowly and unconsciously seeped in, going mostly unnoticed or ignored for my entire adult life. It is only through going through the discomfort of facing the mistakes I've made, and looking at the numbers objectively that I felt moved to change the story, once and for all. This meant taking a long, hard look at our spending, resulting in an overhaul of our entire budget. We are looking at the situation through different lenses, and are spurred to embrace what we once ran from: paying bills on time, massively cutting expenses, and actually picking up the phone when Sallie Mae calls.

i've enlisted many helpers along this new path. One is the book "Peace and Plenty: Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity," by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Comforting, yet practical, this little gem has had a marvelous impact on the way I see abundance in my everyday life. It is divided into short, daily chapters, allowing you to take her sensible advice in bite-sized chunks. I don't know about you, but just thinking about finances can get me tense, and this book certainly eases the pain. It helped me to understand that I have it within me to face my past hardships while still being kind and loving to myself. Also, this book is chock-full of thrift and household tips to help you improve your living on a budget.

Which leads me to the next tool that has aided me in my financial overhaul. Living Well, Spending Less is by far my newest blog addiction. Writer Ruth Soukup is a thrifty mom of four with a beautiful story and a fabulous voice. Her user-friendly site has advice on everythingclipping coupons, Do-It-Yourself home projects, organization, and wellness. The website has way too much content for one visit; I recommend starting with her series, The Beginner's Guide to Savings. Make sure to download these awesome free budget worksheets

Overall, I am feeling more confident about my financial future than I ever have before. I've faced the demons, and now there's nowhere to go from here but up. 

I'd like to encourage all of you to seek freedom from your money woes! Ask yourself the question: "What small step can I take today toward financial serenity?" One small step. That's all it takes.

xo, Morgan

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Observations From A Coffee Shop

hands clasped in front.
staring holes through the barista,
who conveniently never catches your eye.
waiting for coffee, waiting for traffic to subside,
waiting to be home.
waiting for the instant when it doesn't constantly feel
like the other shoe will drop.
listless, restless, mindless, 
you constantly grasp for fictitious moments
that haven't quite arrived, and sadly never will.
future is elusive, always one step ahead,
slipping with a whisper, beckoning us
with better things.
so instead of being now
instead of the soft jazz music,
the smell of coffees blended like a nasal symphony,
the taste of expectancy for your afternoon fix
instead of any of this (or in spite of it all),
you fill your mind with jibber jabber,
like an annoying next door neighbor
who keeps you in the yard too long.
the chatter keeps you stagnant,
blocks you from feeling, from knowing, from being
exactly who you were designed to be.
shut up, wake up, smell the coffee!
and the cosmos will arrive at your feet
ready for you to put aside your guilty past,
and your worrisome future.
accept the the fullness of this holy instant,
and the peace and joy you crave
will fall upon you like waves.
the entire Universe is contained within you
as you pretend to wait for a latte,
standing. hands clasped in front.

―Morgan McClure

Monday, June 10, 2013

Emerging From the Fog.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. 
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” 
― Albert Einstein

For the past ten months or so, my husband Tim and I have been emerging from what I'm now calling the "Mid-Twenties Fog." Looking back, it's as though the past three years were a party we threw to forget that we are growing older. While going through growing pains and loss, we made irresponsible choices, or sometimes just ignored the tough stuff completely. We turned up the music and danced faster, ignoring adulthood and the doom it would undoubtedly bring. And ignorance was certainly blissfor a while.

Now that the bumping base has been turned down, the smoke has cleared, and the guests have gone home, we have awoken from our ego-medicated dreams to the reality of the life we have: debt, bad spending habits, and jobs that leave us unsatisfied. We are looking deeply at our lives and find ourselves on the same page. We are agreed in our spirits that it's finally time to get real and grow up.

Don't get me wrong, I am certainly aware of every single blessing: wonderful family, friends, food to eat, and an apartment that we have made our home. My creativity is thriving. I am healthy. I have a great dog. The list goes on. I will say one thing about a spiritual journey: it will teach you gratitude. Joy and gratitude go hand in handI've found it's impossible to feel one without the other. When one fully allows herself to appreciate the abundance that already surrounds her, joy multiplies and the universe always brings more.

This newfound awareness of the value of what one already has does come with a flip side: "I want more. I deserve the best life possible for me here on this earth." After all, if we're not at our best, how can we ever expect to give our best to others?

So here we are, ready and willing for change. And we're not playing around here. I find myself now addicted to money-saving and thrift blogs, pouring over their contents for ways to cut our expenses. My husband is venturing into the foreign world of car mechanics. We are leaving no stone unturned; there is no idea we won't listen to, no book we won't read, no method we won't try. We are looking for ways to simplify and add joy. Bottom line.

And the results so far? Abundance and blessings are falling in waves. I recently accepted a new teaching and directing position at a local children's theatre, which will certainly add to our monthly income. I'm auditioning like crazy. We are looking at houses.

And, oh yeah...
Yesterday we brought this guy home to join our family:

World, meet Bandit!
Changes, indeed. :)

xo, morgan