Today I am taking the time to say thanks- While tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I think its worth taking the time today to thank people and then tomorrow, focus on being with family and not worried about my blog.
I am thankful for my husband and our relationship. Its not perfect but its pretty great!
I am thankful to have health, not everyone does
I am thankful that we own a dog now, and am kind of amazed at how much it has enriched our lives in a short time
I am thankful to live in a country where I can express my beliefs and thoughts without fear of retribution
I am thankful for cranberry sauce and stuffing
I am grateful after three years of work and sacrifice we are debt free
I am thankful for good friends
I am thankful for family of choice spread across the map
I am thankful for the opportunity to give back to the community
I am thankful for my Mom who always has a corny joke to share to make me smile when things seem pretty hopeless
I am thankful for my niece Quinn and her super great hugs
I am thankful for my Toastmasters club and their constant striving for greatness (We are the Greatest Toastmasters Club in the Known Universe so that takes time and effort)
I am thankful to God who gave me the ability to write and speak and motivate others with this blog and speeches
I am grateful for the opportunity to work for a company where my enthusiasm is not only encouraged it is rewarded and applauded.
What are you grateful for? Considering that we all have things that are rough in our lives, sometimes its hard to find that “happy” but in most cases if you scratch the surface you can quickly find something to be grateful for and focus on that, not the negative.
Bonus points— If you are having trouble finding the “happy”- Might I suggest you try this.. http://100happydays.com/ I am on Day 63 and I have to say it has made me much more grateful for the “little” and “big” things!
Dear Readers, I am delighted to tell you that after 3 years of hard work and sacrifice and budgeting my husband and I are very excited to share that we are completely and utterly out of debt! 11/16/2015 – DEBT FREE DAY!
We have both worked extra hours, second jobs and paid careful attention to how the dollars and cents were spent, but mostly, we were intentional with our money and the ways we directed it to work hard for us and moving towards this goal of being debt-free.
Here it is by the numbers– 3 years, over 30K– 🙂
Started November 2012- Ended November 2015
0.00 REMAINS!!!!/ 36,945.91 PAID OFF
DEAD CHEETAH!! We are DEBTFREE!!
Why is this important? Well for one thing, when you are out of debt, you have the ability to take the money that was previously funneled to car payments, student loans and credit card payments you can save that money and possibly even invest it. This is not new advice, in fact its what your grandmother teaches you if you are lucky enough to have smart and savvy grandparents. It is nicely packaged in the program presented by the Ramsey Solutions Team in Nashville.
Five years ago, my good friend Keely Locke and I were brainstorming about how to plan my upcoming nuptials on a budget. My fiance and I were in debt in the single life but we did not want to go into further debt to get married. She gave me a book called “More than Enough” by Dave Ramsey and it seemed like a good idea but I didn’t really think we needed it since we weren’t super heavy in debt but I did think it was a good book and wanted to continue down the path we were on which was not adding debt to our respective totals. Later in the planning, I realized how expensive things were going to be and heard about a live event happening in San Antonio so went in the car and went to the event. Dave Ramsey is an excellent speaker, and whether you agree with his politics or not, what he says makes a lot of sense. I found myself wired and fired to GET OUT OF DEBT— after this event
If you are unfamiliar with him and his programs, take a look at this website for the Baby Steps-
This post is not about his program but hey if it interest you, you are welcome for the introduction, The main thing this post is about is the major hard work and dedication my husband and I have done to pay off 37,945.91 *to be precise* in 37 months.
We gave this speech at our Toastmasters club on 12/1/2015
It takes Communication, Organization and Dedication- Those principles can be applied to anything that takes hard work but in specific to this situation it looked like this.
Communication- We talked about what we wanted out of life and why we didn’t want to be in debt, we talked about how we would accomplish this goal and how long it would take. We discussed the sacrifices (time together while doing extra jobs and hours at work) and the steps it would take. I gave up buying movies and shoes (which was super hard because I LOVE SHOES!!!) I am planning to celebrate with a debt-free shoe shopping trip in January– (stay tuned for the blog post about that one)- Communication also comes into play when you have setbacks and trust me, we had plenty, Right there in the homestretch, we had several car repairs but because we had a plan and were patient, it wound up working out.
Organization – We had a budget, and truth be told, its a saving grace, because I really like to spend money, and having a plumb line to tell me “NO” was a good thing. We also had a rule that anything at the 50.00 or above mark MUST be discussed before a mutual agreement to purchase. We also had our own spending money to be spent on whatever the other wanted, no questions asked (keeps you sane for sure).
Dedication- Unquestionably, that has been the hardest part, when we decided we were going to do this three years ago, I delivered pizzas part-time, was a hostess at a restaurant, and finally an office assistant. All in aid of putting a little more away to help fund the debt reduction plan. The most exciting thing that happened was I discovered and created my business Haston Helping Hands (my personal coaching business) and that hustle has really taken off, in fact one of the clients I had this past year really helped move the needle for us to get the finish line even faster.
As I sit here typing this, our new dog, Cachet is sitting on my lap and its a feeling of utter happiness to be out of debt and with a dog (we wanted a dog for five years, but knew that we needed to be financially responsible before getting one) on my lap. Delayed gratification at its finest.
I write about a lot about relationships in this blog and that is because they are VERY important to me. I think I am not alone in saying that the relationships we have are a big part of who we are. We are “relational” people. Meaning that, we are informed by our relationships with others and taking the time to determine if someone is here for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
I have to admit to making errors in this department. Many times I will think when I meet someone.. they are a lifetime friend, but it turns out that no, they were here for a season (say when I was in college or early in my dating life) – they morph into acquaintances that occasionally like posts on social media but no more effort than that is put into the relationship. But at one time, this was a person you saw daily and you were sure, “this is a lifetime friendship- It used to hurt my feelings when this happened and I took it VERY personally but now I figure, if its not meant to be, why force it?
The reason is the hardest one for me mainly because that person usually shows me something about myself that I do not like and or it can be a difficult relationship which firmly plants it in the “reason” category which is hard because growth is hard. It stretches your muscles and ligaments and makes you literally bust out of your comfort zone.
Defining these relationships helps you to clarify who you are and what you are after in life. It becomes even more important therefore to hone the skill of surrounding yourself with people who want to be in the circle. Don’t waste your time with people who don’t want to be around you. It seems pretty simple but if you are not careful you can find yourself in toxic relationships that don’t enrich you at all.
Be sure to “seek people who “fan your flames” and help you to be MORE of what you already are.
As I was preparing for the “First Monday Night Prayer” which is a night our church family shares in community, food, and prayer I got to thinking about labels.
Somewhere along the road, I decided that being a Christian meant that you had to quote the bible all the time and it “looked” a certain way. I am delighted to find that life is full of so much more gray than that.
Take me for instance, I have many hats. I am a speaker, a manager, a coach, and an actor and a singer. Those are just a few. I am also a sister, an aunt, and hopefully one day, Mom. This singing that I did for the church is as a direct result of my performance history and my wanting show my love for God. This post is not so much about that as the realization that you don’t have to accept the label that people give you especially when its a negative one.
Statement- Oh, she is a Christian- so she is righteous and religious and judges me.
No, I am a Christian, who believes in God, and is here to serve others and more importantly to meet YOU where YOU are. No judging here.
Statement- Oh she is an actor- so she is flighty and undependable
No, I am an actor which means I show up on time ( to fight that stereotype ) and am dedicated to my craft and work harder than anyone you have ever seen to bring a character to life.
So what is the point in all this you ask? Simple, you are the only one who puts limits on who YOU really are. A wealth of things await you in this life, all you have to do is be brave enough to call yourself what you are and own it.
This quote from Zen Pencils (you should really check this stuff out its inspiring) really landed on me.. especially because this is one of my favourite quotes by Marianne Williamson-
“our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate….. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”
It was scary for me to sing for God, mostly because I have never done it before, but shining my “light” in that way made me feel really good and I hope it helped someone else see, “Hey, I could do that, too!”