Time to Woman-Up Financially Speaking

I have owned Suze Orman’s Woman & Money for well over a year.  Possibly longer.  This was a gift – a not-so-subtle suggestion that I get my financial house in order.  Finances have never been something that brought me pleasure.  I abandoned the ongoing losing skill of balancing my checkbook long ago.  In my 20’s, I lived just above the poverty level.  The idea of dealing with money simply terrified me.  As a child and teenager, money was never discussed in my presence.  There is little in my background that existed to teach me how to handle money.  I realize that this has been true for too long, and I’d like to be able to help young woman learn to manage their money.  Before I do that, I must be able to manage my own.  Or at least know where it is at any given time.

I have discovered through the anxiety creating process of reading through page 84 of the book that I am far from alone.  In so many of her interviews, Orman has discovered the sheer numbers of women who refuse, or simply don’t know how to face their financial situation. We bump along without the awareness that taking charge will allow us.  Excuse me – this is not about you.  I bump along hoping that each paycheck will cover what I need.  I have been that woman for all of my life.  Fearful of looking at the reality of my situation, even though I am in a dual income house.  I think I’m simply afraid that I can’t do it.

Last night I took the terrifying step to read that first part of this book, and then actually go to my checking account and see what I had spent last month and where, which almost sent me into an anxiety attack.  But I got through it.  And I found things.  Wow…I discovered I had paid several bills twice over a month’s period, had been charged too much on one bill, the bank had sent in an extra payment on another.  It was an eye-opener.  Not a pleasant one, but I understand that if I am to take control of this and make it work for me, I must do this.  And I’m ready.  Teacher, student – all that.

I don’t have the right to ask any of you who haven’t yet done this to do so.  That is your decision.  I know that at the end of the 5 month period (Orman has 5 month schedule to help you learn the ins and outs), I will feel better about my situation.  Just knowing will eventually make me feel better.  I’m so grateful for her approach – No blame and NO shame.  I have to keep working on that part.  I’m an intelligent and capable woman.  I can do this.  When I get through the next chapter, I will tell you about it.  Trust me – I am as poor at this as any woman could be.  But I can be frightfully honest about what I learn.  I’ll share with you, and you are welcome to come along with me if you’d like.

Here’s to being a more savvy financial person in 2012.

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Opening up my Head and Heart to Listen

On occasion, I’m smart enough, or perhaps simply willing enough – to trust my intuition and allow the universe to lead me.  I open my mind, and let the connections that are coming my way – connections of a sort I would normally ignore or question or doubt – allow them to seep into my subconscious and even my conscious thoughts.  I just wait and listen and allow – and that can become a most amazing experience.

What am I talking about?  Recently, my awareness of and response to dogs has taken on a new level.  We have two German Shepherds.  We have had dogs throughout our married life, and I have allowed myself to get close to only two of the five that have been big parts of our lives.  Our first dog was a step-dog for me – she came with my husband.  She had been the dog of my spouse and his first wife.  They treated her like she was a child, and she acted much like a child.  Not her fault, but I resented her for it.  I couldn’t make change her, nor apparently could I change myself (the only being we can truly change), because I believed that the situation was more like me becoming a stepmother – my input was not necessary nor desired.  I was probably wrong about that as I have been about many things.  Plus I had two pre-teenage sons, a baby on the way, and a new business.  This lovely little dog wasn’t going to get much of my time or attention.  She truly was a lovely, border-collie looking dog.  Luxurious black hair, a shrill warning bark – lovely.

Later, we ended up with a Dalmatian.  I loved that dog.  He was big and beautiful, emotionally responsive, protective, and shed tons of little white Dalmatian hairs.  Then along came Champ.  Champ.  The largest, most beautiful German Shepherd I have ever known.  He had a mane like a lion.  He smelled like baby powder.  I had a difficult time getting close to Champ – for the first year, he pooped all over our house and tore down wallpaper.  I have no background in training dogs, and chose not to learn.  Stupid stupid me.  Then I had a partial hysterectomy.  Within two weeks, Champ and I became inseparable.  He was my dog, and I deeply loved him.  Of course, here comes the tragedy.  We came home one Friday afternoon and Champ was missing.  I went searching and found him.  Under our front deck… in a coma.  Champ died before we got to the emergency vet.

My heart closed.  Every dog I came near after that threatened that emotional wound.  Especially any dog we brought home.  My husband and youngest son wanted a new dog right away.  I didn’t.  We ended up with another German Shepherd, Prince, 2 months later.  It was way too soon for me.  No way I was allowing him into my heart.  Sweet Prince.  He has never forced the issue.  Then we got Bella two years later.  I think one dog often needs a playmate, especially if the owners are often away.  And what a playmate.  Bella is all energy and excitement.  Too much for me to handle.  I just wanted her away from me.  For awhile, I convinced myself I was allergic to her.  What if I am?  Allegra works well for me.

So here is the Universe knocking on my door. I’ve grown weary of reading bad fiction, and burned out on reading books that relate to my history major.  But I love to read.   A couple of months ago, I picked up a book about a woman who is part of rescue operation of boxers in New York. I was deeply touched.  Then I found Dean Koontz‘s A Big Little Life, about his dog, Trixie.  Having finished that (and cried like a baby – no, actually sobbed like a grown woman at the end), I went searching in my book shelves.  I found The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell – Learn how to communicate with your dog for willing cooperation.  I don’t know what’s going on exactly, but the universe is talking and I’m listening.  Feels very good.  I’ll see where this takes me, and I shall follow its lead.

I love Books about Dogs & Dean Koontz

Most of you are likely familiar with the author, Dean Koontz. Perhaps you have lain awake reading one of his novels, and found yourself terrified to get out of bed – what is lurking in the shadows?  I used to read his books until his imagination got the better of mine.  So its been a few years for me.

I went searching yesterday (via my android) to find a book that was light yet encouraging, fun and inspirational all at the same time.  I searched through the Amazon listing of beach reads.  Those books just leave me wishing I had started my writing career thirty years ago.  Suddenly, I remembered reading a book about dogs while on vacation recently.  I thought, what the heck, and what-the-heck caused me to stumble on a gem of a book.

A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog. This is a GREAT read.  I am careful about how often I add those words to a book, but this is a true jewel.  Koontz brings all his great descriptive gifts to this loving memoir, along with the amazing gifts given to him and his wife, by his dog, Trixie.  He captures the essence of the wonder of dogs and their ability to bond so deeply with their owners.  If you are in need of a wonderful, delightful, feel good read, take a look at this one.  I’m in love with Trixie.