Too Thrifty Chicks


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I am tired. Not even angry. Just tired. Tired of not expecting the system to work, only for it to meet my low expectations. Tired of how heavy this feels; how the contours of life in America are hauntingly shaped by race and all its struggles–so much so that I can go from being incredibly excited about my dissertation that deals with race in historical and theoretical perspective to tonight’s announcement that remind me of the material realities of racist, flawed systems. I am just tired. My feelings might change tomorrow, but unfortunately, systematic disenfranchisement does not change as quickly as feelings….and that is, perhaps, the rub of institutional racism. We (our society) has largely bought into the idea that racism is simply personal; that it is about how we feel about people. The irony, of course, is that once the realities of the deeply flawed system are revealed, those who feel angry, hurt, or frustrated are denied the full range of their human emotions through policing tactics, admonition to be part of the “solution” and not the “problem,” to be civil and peaceful. Craziness.

We have been here before. When Zimmerman received a “not guilty” verdict, I wrote the following:

14 July 2014 5:16am

We are not free in this country. Every human life does not have the same value, especially under the law. I am sitting here at 5am in a very expensive hotel and I’m grieving with folks all around the world….because I know my presence here in this hotel, no matter how nice it is, doesn’t mean “we’ve made it.” In fact, right now, it serves as a reminder of how quickly we can forget that we have not. It’s still raining but it looks like the storm may pass soon. I’m thinking about justice. I’m thinking about how beauty, pain, and joy coexist. I’m wondering how we find the balance between them all. I’m thinking about N. who fell asleep crying in his mother’s arms after the verdict. I’m hurting for his friend who said, “why study and get good grades when a stranger still looks at me and sees a criminal?” I’m crying because I don’t have a legitimate answer. Everything I can think of seems cliché and insufficient. I’m thinking about parents like Lisa and Greg who let their kids be angry and let them process their emotions. we cannot tell our children they are part of humanity but then deny them the right to feel another’s pain or their own anger. I’m frustrated with posts like, “God has the final say” and “God is the ultimate judge,” because I know these sayings are cloaks that help people sleep at night and shield them from responsible action. Even if there is a God who has a final word, there are a lot of sentences, commas, and periods between the beginning and the end. We are the authors of those stories….

…and so we are here again. Here I am again….thinking. And feeling the numbness that comes with knowing way too much about how deeply ingrained the devaluing of black life is. It is not simply historical. It is daily. It is ongoing. It is sometimes paralyzing. Deadly. I know people believe education is a key to liberation–even I believe that–but right now, in this moment, after years of studying theories and histories of race/racism and how systems of power work, I am not liberated. I am at as much a loss as those around me, even with my fancy education….because even when we know the outcome is not going to be on the side of justice, even when we know, we hope. We hope, because even though we know, we are waiting for the day that we are proven wrong. Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Maybe one day…


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Adventures in Commuting by Foot: Crosswalks, Cat Calls, and Conversation

When I moved to Memphis, I had a vision of biking to work. I live 1.5 miles away, and the main street I would bike has a bike lane. Perfect. Except it isn’t. Cars routinely ignore the bike lanes. Some park in them. I’ve seen quite a few cyclists almost get hit biking uphill on the street I would use. Needless to say my vision of biking is on hold until I build more confidence in my ability to avoiding being hit by a car.

Anyway, last week I decided that just because I wasn’t biking to work didn’t mean I had to drive. I could walk.

During today’s thirty-four minute walk, I walked by a group of male nurses outside a senior care facility who asked if I needed a nurse. Recently, 27-year-old Mary Spears was murdered after refusing a man’s advances. Her death was fresh in my mind. I passed three drivers who felt the need to honk at me. Whenever people honk, I roll my eyes. What does honking do besides startle people? Ugh.

When I got close to campus, I had to cross the street using a crosswalk that isn’t controlled by a light. A few days ago, my colleague (who is blind) and I were walking in this crosswalk and two cars nearly hit us. I was thinking about this today as I watched a car speed up to pass an elderly woman who was already in the crosswalk. I thought about how awful it is that we seem to always be in a hurry.  When the woman and I passed each other, we smiled and exchanged pleasantries. If the car bothered her at all, there was no evidence.

When I got to the college’s gate (yes, gate), I greeted the security officers, one of whom stopped me and asked, “who is the woman you were walking with the other day?” He was referring to my colleague. We talked about crosswalks, speed racers (aka drivers in the area), and my name,to  which he said “I’ll treat the “A” as silent. I can remember Shante.” I replied, “that’s fine…that’s what family calls me anyway.”

When I drive to work, I don’t have to worry about catcalls and honking. But I also don’t notice signs announcing new construction or exchange words with moms and babies on the way. I often wait until the last possible minute to leave,which sometimes puts me in the “hurry” mentality.  If I had driven today, I wouldn’t have met Jimmy and Shirley. Sure, it is likely I would meet them later, but I hardly ever use the main gate to the campus. When I drive, I use the electronically controlled gate instead–less human contact.

Even though I have to plan my time differently, deal with unsolicited street harassment, and hope I don’t get hit in the crosswalks, I like walking to work. It is one, small step towards challenging the tendencies to always be in hurry. Walking reduces my carbon footprint. I hope I work up the nerve to bike, but until then, walking will do. Besides, how else do you “stop and smell the roses” If you’re never out among them?

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When Less is More: Thoughts on a Minimalist Life Pt. 1

I must admit I came to minimalism through tragedy.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. Part of dealing with her diagnosis has been dealing with her stuff: her house, her physical personal belongings, her finances.

I discovered that my mom, retired Army veteran, lover of all media, homeowner and divorcee had an overwhelming amount of stuff! Honestly, if she wasn’t so neat and tidy, I would call her a borderline hoarder.

And I, her only child, had to dive in, when she couldn’t.

The experience of going through her house — our house — and trying to decide what to do with it all broke me down. I cried. Sobbed in fact. I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff, but also by the memories.

At some point in the process I realized my mama wasn’t ever going to live in her house again. She had no need of all of the things she had accumulated over her now 58 years of life. Me, her only daughter? I haven’t lived in the same city longer than four years. Ever. I’m a nomad, at home every where and no where. Where would I put all this stuff if I kept if for nostalgia’s sake? I don’t have a house and the way this journalism thing is set up, I might never have one.

I’m still dealing with what to do with my mama’s stuff. It’s come a long way since that very first time I went through it, but the process continues. Dealing with her stuff forced me to have a come to Jesus meeting with myself about my own stuff. I had questions.

  • Why did I continue to drag things from my imagined life of living in a permanent space into my actual life of living in temporary spaces?
  • Did I place more value on “owning” a thing, rather than on its function in my life?
  • What would happen to my self-worth, self-esteem if I gave a lot of it away?

These are questions that I am still trying to answer.

In the beginning

When I got my first full-time gig at The Tuscaloosa News, I was stoked. And I wanted a grown up apartment to go with my new job. I did no math. Rent in Tuscaloosa and Alabama can be cheap. I would not discover until two years later how cheap it could be. All I knew was that I could get a whole townhouse for less than $500 a month. But a whole house needs furniture, right? And decorations, and, and, and…..

Yeah. That was a thing. Until I realized how much money I did — or rather, didn’t — make. I had to move to a less expensive apartment across town and try to get my mid-20 something head around the dismal state of my finances. I moved from Tuscaloosa, Ala. to Sarasota, Fla. in 2005, for a job that paid more, but I couldn’t afford to take my stuff, which I’ moved to Georgia. The re-location money wouldn’t cover getting all that stuff to Florida and I was broke. I also didn’t have a place to put it. This was Florida, pre-housing bubble bursting. Apartments were being converted to condos and rents were outrageous compared to Tuscaloosa.

Instead, I shared space with great roommates until I moved to Anniston, Ala. for graduate school a year later. I was moving toward minimalism mostly by circumstance, and a little by choice. I lived for three years without most of my stuff. I told my mama to keep what she wanted for her daycare and sell/giveaway the rest. I was on the road to Montgomery, Ala. vowing to never, ever accumulate that much stuff again.

A broken vow

While I never accumulated a house full of furniture again — Reese can attest to this — I still managed to amass a closet full of clothes, kitchen supplies and books. Oh, and there were the huge pieces of art that I had been dragging around since my summer internship in Zambia, circa 2001! And did I mention the heavy, vintage typewriter? Yeah. That was a thing. My house was mostly a statement in minimalism, but it also didn’t feel like home. It felt empty. Disconnected. I knew I wanted less stuff, but I didn’t have the language to talk about it when everything about growing up seemed to be about getting more stuff.

Two steps forward, two steps back

I got to test these questions again when I moved to the DMV. I left Montgomery, Ala. with only what I could fit into a two-door, 1997 Saturn SC2. Clothes, kitchen supplies, books. I was jammed in that car like toes in too small shoes. And still I ended up leaving a lot of things behind at a good friend’s house.

Though I had successfully managed to give away a ton of stuff, I still couldn’t bear to part with anything more. I mean, for goodness sake, I got my book collection down to four small banker’s boxes. Who does that? I vowed to purchase a Kindle and to never physically turn a page again.

And then I met Reese. This girl loves books. When she became my roommate, she came with books. Her books reminded me how much I enjoyed reading. How much I enjoyed turning a physical page and devouring a book in a 24-hour period. Her books reminded me how good it feels to walk into a book store, especially in Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital is home to Sankofa Video, Books and Cafe, The Children of the Sun, Busboys and Poets and Kramerbooks & Afterword Cafe. Not to mention thrift stores where you can find out of print books dirt cheap. (True story: I purged my suitcase while in Memphis because I bought books at a thrift store. Reese still had to bring some of them when she last came to visit.)

Ahh, glorious books. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Operation Do Better, we would have spent every dime we made on books. The public library near our house, saved our pocket books to be sure.

But then it was time to move. And we both realized that in creating a home together, we had managed to amass a lot of stuff. That troubled the minimalist spirit that had developed in my heart from all my previous moves. Orchestrating a move is not my most favorite thing in the world, even though I have moved a lot in my 35 years. (Hello, Army brat.). I felt it whenever we visited friends, who had these spry, carefully edited apartments. Nothing more, nothing less. We had created an amazing space, but it was starting to feel like too much. Moving helped us both realize just how much it was.

Throw it out

When a friend posted a great article that encouraged us to throw everything away, ish got real. We jumped on a challenge to intentionally get rid of three or four things every day for 30 days. Because I was in transition, I had to modify the challenge. But I’m happy to say that by the time I unpacked my last box at my new space in New Haven, I managed to purge about 200 items over the last month.

While my stuff is still a little bit more than is necessary, it’s not much more, and that feels right. I learned while living with Reese what it means to create a space with intention, and I believe I have achieved minimalism without sacrificing comfort in my new place. I have some thoughts about how to ensure that I continue to travel light and ready for new adventure that I will share in another post.

So, I’ll leave you with these additional question to ponder: If you had an opportunity to pick up your life and move it to another country, state, city would your stuff hold you back? Would you chuck it all for the experience of a lifetime?

My courageous line sister recently did it. Check out her story and blog chronicling her adventures teaching abroad.

Do you consume, therefore you are? Share your thoughts on minimalism in the comments below.



Through Reese’s Eyes: The Other Side of Hardship

Ricks: Good morning. I scheduled a post.

Reese: I saw it. I’m teary-eyed in my car, girl. I’m so proud to call you friend and soulmate. Supporting you during the hard time was one of the most challenging things ever but also one of the most rewarding.

Ricks: So happy to have you. I want you to write transparently about your struggle helping me.

Reese: ::crickets::

When Ricks asked me to write this post, I thought, the best way to tell the story is through how I captured my feelings at the times I felt them. My journal, perhaps the place I am most candid, honest, and raw, holds those moments, some of which I will share with you, starting from the day I knew she would either quit or leave her job before she even told me.

25 May 2013: My roommate’s very close to losing her job, not because she doesn’t have the necessary skills, but because the passion isn’t there. Nor is there a desire to just lay down and give into the demands of people who believe she is expendable. Universe, you have shown and taught her much this year: the tools and steps to get out debt, the power of assertiveness, the value of righteous rage, the promises that lie in “be still and know that i am god.” I believe with all my heart that none of this is accidental. I feel in my spirit that things might get rougher before they get better but all things work together for good. The whole universe is conspiring on her behalf…thank you for the honor, privilege, and responsibility of being a friend, prayer partner, helping hand, and listener. My prayer is that if there is anything I can do during this time, that it be revealed to me. If I should pray more, fast, talk less, listen better, I’m down. I am part of the universe. I’m part of all the universe that is conspiring for all the desires of her heart to come to pass, and I’m excited about that…In the meantime, may there always be a praise and in the times where things feel too heavy for a praise to spring forth from her bosom, please accept mine on her behalf.

….and as with many things, a honeymoon phase followed. Ricks was pumped. I was excited and ready to do whatever it took to make it work. Then, after a particularly bad experience with freelancing, it all started to tumble.

27 February 2014: Today I came home to Ricks still sleeping. I try not to be bothered by it, but I am. I don’t get to sleep in. I don’t get to linger in bed as long as I want. I know that is not compassionate. I guess I feel like her sleeping in is inconsiderate, especially since a while ago she said she’d get up when I get up. That doesn’t happen. But if the tables were turned, would I do anything differently? I’m not sure. More days than not, I think she is wasting time. All talk and little action. This is the same person whose work ethic I valued a year ago. Funny how quickly our perceptions change. It’s all situational. None of us are a simple reflection of our current positions. Me getting up earlier, going to work doesn’t make me a better person than she is. And I certainly don’t know how this process feels on the inside of her. Today I pray that survival mode transitions into thriving mode-for her and for me. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a giver. I don’t know how much more I can take though, to be honest. But I believe the universe is teaching and changing us through this process. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes we both cry because we have no idea what to do and we’re afaid this process is tearing us apart. Sometimes I carry resentment and regret. But there have been opportunities to get us out the fire, and nothing has come through. That must mean you’re not done teaching us in this phase. I pray that i am a receptive student and that I show compassion to my classmate.

…and there was prayer.

2 March 2014: People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soulmate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soulmate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. -Elizabeth Gilbert

Thank you for my current soulmate. This has been a rough period of tearing down walls and smacking each other awake. It has been hard and it hurts. I feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Today, I feel like this current phase of our collective life will end soon. Praise god. Today I face the hard truth that even if someone cannot continue the journey with me, the journey must still continue. I must still press on. My physical, emotional and spiritual well being are my own responsibility not anyone else’s. Ricks reminds me of that every day. I have to do the work with or without her. For almost two years god has blessed me with her guidance, love and friendship. I have focused so much on the future and what I could potentially lose, but today I give thanks for what I have: a soulmate who shows me my reflection-the good, bad and ugly. The ugly isn’t so easy to take but it’s all part of me. Thank you for her life. These last eight months have been hard on her. I pray joy returns. For laughter to abound. I pray for something so big and undeniably orchestrated by the universe to happen. Something so big it restores her faith. And when it happens, I pray my own heart is filled with joy and gratitude.
…and more prayer.
2 July 2014: It is really difficult to watch someone you love struggle. Markeshia didn’t get the job and naturally she’s disappointed. She cried last night as we went for a long, aimless drive. I had to reign myself in from trying to be the savior. I didn’t say–hey just move to memphis with me, although I wanted to. I did say she can come stay as long as she wants. Part of me feels like this process is hers to navigate. She has to do this on her own, but with cheerleaders and support. After she interviewed for the job, I could tell she wasn’t excited. and I wasn’t sure if the job fit her skills or credentials. But last night, none of that mattered. I was angry with god and frustrated that s/he did not provide. But a small voice reminded me that s/he is always providing, even now. so I wanted to be angry because someone I love, my favorite person, is hurting and sad. But there is benefit to struggle. This road isn’t easy but it’s worth it. The fact that after she found out she said, “I hope the person who got it has a really good year,” speaks to her integrity, growth, and character. This year of struggle has been worth it. Now, god bless her with a job to match her faithfulness in her self-growth pursuits. Amen.

…and thanksgiving.

27 August 2014: I am alone in this new place for the first time since I arrived in Memphis. I’m grateful, sad, hopeful, content. Ricks is at the airport soon to board the plane. I want to write a blog post, but not sure I have the right words. I’ll miss her fiercely. This time we can’t whine and say, “I’m so ready to come home” when we’ve been too long apart. But I am grateful for this time we both need. I have nothing else to write today except thank you universe for trusting us with friendship. Bless her. Keep her. Amen.

I am unwavering in my belief that the support I gave–financially, spiritually, and emotionally–was the right thing to do. But it was hard. It required significant alterations in my lifestyle, even though I wasn’t the one who quit my job (taking on a third roommate, for example).Sometimes it was hurtful.  I’m sure most of you cannot even fathom Ricks and me arguing or not speaking to each other or not being comfortable with the silence between us. If someone had asked me a year prior, I wouldn’t have imagined it either. Yet those things, and many others that I’m sure we will bury between the two of us, happened. Watching my favorite person experience depression happened. Feeling completely frustrated by what I perceived to be a lack of effort towards building the dream she wanted so badly happened. Shouldering resentment and feelings of being taken advantage of happened.

Yet, somehow, the faith I had (have) in her, her dreams, and abilities remained steadfast, albeit bruised. I always thought I was really good at keeping enough distance from people’s problems so as not to make them my own. And I was. Until they were on my doorstep, in the kitchen, on the couch everyday.  I knew her potential and every day I saw it threatened. So I kept throwing rope down into the pit where she was…until I ran out of rope. I saw in myself something I knew wasn’t helpful in the long run: I was sometimes helping too much. Sometimes, I overextended myself to try to bring some type of normalcy and joy that I sorely missed. But with that, I also felt like she owed me something for accommodating her hardships (hard to type…something I am not particularly proud of).

I found myself at a crossroad: do I jump down and see what I can do in the trenches with her or do I trust that she will figure out a way to bridge the gap between the rope and where she is? Quite honestly, a lot of this was resolved simply because, I too, reached an “enough” point, and I had little left to offer. Whatever happened in her life, it would have to happen on her own accord or with the help of others. Being her sole confidant during that period was heavy. And one day, I had to put it down.

If we’re lucky, we are given opportunities to support people; to grow in our understandings of partnership and unconditional love. But with that luck sometimes comes hard moments, harsh realities, and shifting perspectives of who we (or the ones we love) are. I didn’t always understand her experiences, so I lashed out. I yelled when i didn’t think I was being heard. I, at times, accused my friend, my family, of seeing me as nothing more than a way to keep a roof over her head.  I am convinced that our relationships sometimes call for sacrifice but never for losing ourselves. Perhaps I’ll do a separate post on this later, but one of the things that helped me tremendously was art therapy. During the roughest period, it is one of the few self-care practices I maintained. And I’m glad I did. Since art therapy is built on multiple modes of expression, I sometimes drew, collaged, or painted my way through my feelings. I’m thoroughly convinced that therapy plus making some time to do other things on my own are what kept me afloat.

Sometimes I managed the balance between caring for myself and for my partner-in-crime well. Other times not so much. It’s a delicate balance. I am SO thankful we’re on the other side. We are much better humans on this side of struggle. I am much more rooted in my convictions of what it means to be “ride-or-die” while still caring for myself. And if (should I say when?) we hit another rough period in our lives, we have a written record that proves we know how to make it through.


Breaking the Silence: Another Too Thrifty Update

Saying goodbye to Reese and DCA.

Saying goodbye to Reese and DCA.

It is 2 a.m. and I can’t sleep. I’ve been thinking about what to say and this post just wouldn’t leave me alone so here goes nothing.

::deep breath::

This post  has been a long time coming because, frankly, I haven’t known where to start.

I’ll begin with honesty.

As you all know, Reese’s journey has taken her to Memphis where we are expecting her to do great and wonderful things like finish her dissertation, do more research and shape young and old minds. What you need to know about that is Team Too Thrifty is still on this journey together, even if we’re thousands of miles apart.

But many of you have rightly asked, “What about Ricks?”

For a long time, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I didn’t know what to say.

Life was happening, and happening in a painful way.

Ever the wise one Reese said, “I don’t believe the Universe would provide for two and not for three.” I’ll explain what she meant a little later in the post.

Bear with me for a second, please. We will get back to fashion and fun one of these days. I just need to get this one out.

The Real

This last year — the last few years really — have been incredibly hard for me. I mean grueling, faith-shaking hard.

  • There have been a lot of changes in the last three or four years
    I uprooted my life in Alabama for a job in the big city. A job where I started off great and then burned out
  • My best friend of nearly 20 years died of an asthma attack. Her death rocked my world to say the least and it is still sometimes to tender to touch with my thoughts
  • To top all that off, my mother — my rock, my biggest fan, my biggest challenger — was diagnosed with early onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type

Yeah. If this where a blues song, and I had a dog, somewhere in here it probably would have died.

Don’t get me wrong. There were good moments. Great, life-shaping moments.

  • Making great new friends and getting to know the DMV, which I learned to love and thought I would call home
  • Reconnecting with old friends
  • Having family reach out to help with mama. So I could work, knowing she was somewhere safe
  • Meeting Reese and birthing this blog

I would even count the day I decided to quit my job as one of those very, very positive moments.

But then my grand plan for an independent career, wasn’t so grand. Freelance is hard work. Period. And being the employer, the HR department, the complaint department, the finance department and the employee, was not what I had in mind. Hell, I don’t know what I had in mind, but that sure wasn’t it.

And I began to slide.

If it hadn’t been for Reese….

Well, I don’t like to think about what might have happened if it had not been for Reese. She was my anchor, and I will always be grateful for her love and support. For her prayers.



Last year, I probably would have benefited from some good mental health services. I was depressed and I didn’t know how to get out. Life was throwing a lot at me, and I didn’t want to do anything but let it pummel me. I didn’t want to fight back. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of trying to make it all work.

I didn’t want to die. I simply wanted to walk away — to disappear. I wanted to abandon my life as I knew it, and all the people associated with it, because it felt so damn hard.

And the one thing that had given me — us — such buoyancy was this blog. But I couldn’t bring myself to write about any of it. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t think you all would understand.

So I kept silent. Many times on the verge of breaking down.

When spring comes….

As winter started to give way to spring, my depression started to break. My outlook shifted. I didn’t want to disappear. I wanted to be intensely present for everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Life had been trying to get me to wake up. But I hadn’t been paying attention. It was time to stop sleep-walking and be engaged. Here.

Freelancing was still tough. I decided that it was time to go back to full-time employment. I applied for a lot of jobs. Instead of the sting of rejection — though there was some of that — it was the silence that was so stunning.

If you didn’t know, cold-submitting a resume is a pretty unpleasant experience — one that I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid for much of my journalism career. It is an employer’s market and people don’t even bother to send you a, “Thanks, but no thanks” e-mail. Trying to get into the mind of a potential employer is a feat of mental gymnastics. I like to think I got really good at revising my resume at the end.

(Yes, there is an end. Stay with me.)

I applied for a fellowship that I really wanted. I was even among the final candidates. But I didn’t get it.

I was crushed. I thought I might slide again, headlong back into depression. Reese thought I might slide too. I didn’t.

I cried. But I didn’t slide.

I put my focus on helping Reese move to Memphis and trying not to panic. I saw another job that I really wanted. A job that so many thought I might have in the bag after my interview. But the position was ultimately eliminated because of restructuring. Strike two.

And then a funny thing happened. The editor at the fellowship I had applied for passed my name along to a reporter who was in the process of leaving a news organization in New Haven, Connecticut.  I talked to the editor in New Haven by phone. He invited me up for an interview. And the rest is history.

Not really. I don’t mean to minimize. It really is amazing how so many things came together from that phone interview to the moment that I am writing this post. But that is another post for another day.

But Reese was right about the Universe. The Universe didn’t leave me out of whatever pact that we, the women of 5509, had collectively signed in our prayers and our journals.

Reese, of course, landed in Memphis, but our roommate Tasha, who you will get to meet soon, landed a job in Winston Salem, N.C.

And me? I’m so glad you asked.

Today, is my first day as a reporter for the New Haven Independent, an all digital, hyper-local, five-days-a-week news site. There are so many life lessons in my experience, some that have not even been revealed yet. As I unpack it, I will share. But today I just want to be present with this moment.  Today, I am excited and present with that excitement.

- Ricks

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Snowballing Debt: A Free Tool

It has been a long time since we talked about debt reduction here. Truthfully, part of the reason is because debt reduction took a hard nose dive in 2014 (perhaps more on that in other posts). Now that I’m settled in Memphis, I’m ready to hop in the saddle again. I have had this plan to be completely debt free for a while–2013 produced great strides toward that goal–but I still didn’t have a clear vision. Today I sat down with pen and paper, wrote out all my debts, interest rates, expenses, and planned adventures. 

Seeing all those numbers didn’t mean a thing to me with little idea of how to go about paying debt. I knew I wanted to attack credit card debt first, but after that… ::blank stare::

I thought about trying Dave Ramsey’s snowball tool for a 7 day trial period, but a friend encouraged me to look online for a free one….and I found one! Vertex42 offers many different tools to help people manage their finances and time.  


For the last two hours I have input my information, played around with numbers, and come up with a plan: I will be completely debt free in three years! The tool is easy to use (formulas for each cell are already formulated) and has instructions and a video if you need additional help. If you have more than 10 creditors, there is an extended version that costs $9.95 that allows you to input up to 40. Besides the ease and cost, another reason I like Vertex42’s calculator is it works with OpenOffice and Google Sheets. No Excel? No problem. 

If you’re like me and need to visualize your plan, this tool might help. Let me know if you use it and how it works for you!



First Day of School!

Ok, not really. More like new faculty orientation. But I was excited. I woke up, went for a nice run, leisurely got dressed, and then went to meet about twenty other new faculty members, which was pretty awesome. Before I left, Ricks insisted on taking “first day of school” pictures, so here they are!


This is my “I’m so excited” look. lol

My top and skirt were thrifted and the shoes were 50% off at Old Navy (had to have a pop of bright color). Not too formal, not too casual.


Y’all know I’m still getting settled in….excuse the stuff.



One more picture on the way out the door….ok Ricks, that’s enough now.

How do you like to present yourself on your first day at somewhere new?


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