Too Thrifty Chicks

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Food For Thought: Passionate Living On Purpose

Passion Photo 1

In the early months of living in New Haven, I remember thinking, “My life has fallen back into place. Now what?”

Was I just going to work and come home each day, collapse, and then do it all again?

I was (I am) in love with my new job. It was everything that I had asked the Universe for and more. I was falling in love with my new city and all it’s quirky unpretentiousness. But I recognized this head space — this state of being. I was falling asleep to my life.

Prior to all the crazy changes that took place in 2014, I had been reading a lot about mindfulness and meditation. The concept of being present, in this very moment, engaged and not mentally somewhere else, resonated so strongly with me. With Reese’s help, I practiced daily being present and engaged during the first year of our friendship, which we often call Our Magic Year.

We call it that because not only did we create this blog that year, but we created this safe space for each other where we could dream our biggest, wildest dreams. And the magic was so strong that we believed we could accomplish them.

During that year, I discovered Pema Chodrön. She is my Buddhist guru in my head and reading a lot of her books helped me stay afloat in 2014. I read more Alice Walker and bell hooks. But if 2013 was the Magic Year, 2014 was the Absence of Magic Year — also known as the Shit Storm Is REAL Year.

And by the time the clock struck 2015, I was weary of having survived the most difficult year of my adult life. Truth be told, I was especially weary and wary of dreaming and being creative. I mean, look at where my leap of faith had taken us.

We’re both now reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and listening to her Magic Lessons podcast and the lightbulb has gone off so hard, so many times about our Magic Year and why it was magical.

During the Magic Year, our lives were driven by our creativity. Whether it was styling clothes, cooking, writing and fixing our finances — all of those activities were infused by creativity. And while we were doing some of the things that we chose to do that year for very specific reasons like paying off debt, saving and traveling, other things we did — like starting this blog — because they made us happy.

At some point leading up to 2015, after all I had been through, I had taken what I learned from Pema and twisted it in my mind to think that because nothing was wrong, if there was nothing to fix, then there was nothing I needed to do. I didn’t need to be creative. I didn’t need to have goals and dreams.

For the record, Pema has never said anything of the sort. What she has said essentially is that you don’t have to tell yourself stories to do these things. You don’t need to constantly fret and contort yourself because you don’t think you’re good enough. And no you don’t “need” to do these things, but if you want to, it’s OK. All she was saying is that you can just be here, every second of every day, doing whatever you are doing with your whole self, present in the process.

To that end, I realized that when I’m at work, I am at work. I don’t often wish I’m somewhere else.  I can write and report for hours. At the job that I quit, I used to often wish I was home writing this blog.  But when I was physically putting together a story, I could do it for hours, such was/is my ability to concentrate. Such is my ability to create.

It took Reese to point out to me that I had given up dreaming and setting goals. And when she said it, I felt like she had given me a sharp, stinging slap to the face. I didn’t want to admit it, but I knew she was right. During our Magic Year, I would have just read a bunch of books and got myself together. But reading felt like work and I already had enough of that, no matter how much I liked it.

Passion Photos 2A few weeks into the new year, Reese sent me a link to this thing called the Passion Planner. Though she is a huge user of technology for planning purposes, Reese knows I’m a paper and ink kind of girl.

While I have spent much of my adult life trying to break free of the regimen and routine that I grew up with as an Army brat — and now am often plagued by my failure to plan — I have consistently, over the years, maintained a physical, monthly calendar.

When Reese sent me the link, I liked the story of the planner’s founder Angelia Trinidad. She’s a military brat too and I loved that it was a way to create some short and long term goals, write down actionable steps for achieving those goals, and be challenged to not only meet those goals but to reflect on and revise those goals as needed.

But when I saw the daily breakdown of the day, I was low-key intimidated. I’d never scheduled my time that way before and currently my boss dictates what I do throughout the day, which can make it hard to plan. Also, when I saw the price, I was like, “nawl.” I think if I remember correctly, I told Reese that I probably wouldn’t get much use out of something like that.

For some reason, I decided to give it a try. Maybe it was recognizing that I did need a planner for the year and had not bought one yet. But I went back to the site and saw that if you told people about it you could download the template for free. But like YNAB, after about 30 days of using it, I made the purchase. Now I can’t imagine life without it.

My first Passion Roadmap was a hot mess. I was like a child coloring for the first time and my Passion Plan wasn’t much better. But by writing things down, trying to plan my day, and thinking about how I wanted to spend my time, the Passion Planner helped me to prioritize.

More and more I found myself pulling out the planner to not only get ready for the week, but to look at my goals and what if any steps I had taken to accomplish them. When the six month check-up came, my roadmap looked different and my goals were more refined. The concept of Free By 40 crystalized in my Passion Planner and continues to get sharper every day.

And there is something about writing everything down, even your wildest, craziest, buried deep in your heart dream, that makes it start to materialize.  So many of the things that I have written down have manifested, or are manifesting, that I am stunned when I read them back.

  • I started dealing with a health issue that was really impacting my quality of life and a year later I’m feeling so much better
  • I needed to get on top of some of my mother’s financial affairs and now I have a much better handle on them
  • I wanted to become a better photographer and I participated in a workshop in November
  • I figured out that part of my debt free strategy is a) ignoring conventional wisdom and not using cash and b) moving what is left of my consumer debt into a small personal loan and c) cutting up my credit cards
  • I got back to blogging

But it’s not just my goals that are manifesting. My creativity is making a come back. Though I lamented purchasing a coloring book in another post it helped me reconnect with that part of me that always liked to doodle and color as a child.

My lifestyle in New Haven doesn’t present a lot of opportunities to play dress up, but I still play in makeup just for fun. It doesn’t matter to me that no one, but maybe Instagram, gets to see it. I just like the artistry of a well beat face even if it’s my own.

As a child, I loved to paint fingernails, but as an adult it felt like if I couldn’t go to the nail salon, I certainly wasn’t going to make time to do my own nails. In fact, the art of doing my own nails is very calming to me, meditative even.

Passion Photo3And all of the fun things that I’ve seen done to other people’s Passion Planners, and other kinds of planners, has opened me up to a whole community of people who take planning to a level that seems fun and creative.

So when Angelia started a new Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help the company be able to become a get-one, give-one company, I was down for the cause. She blasted her goal and my special edition #stayGOALden Passion Planner was here before Christmas just like she promised.

In the words of Pastor Troy, “We ready,” for 2016.

— Ricks

We hope you have not only survived but thrived in 2015. And we’d love to hear from all of you. Tell us what goals you’ve set for 2016 and what tools you’re using to help you crush ’em.


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Hello, World. Are You (Still) There?

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Selfie Nation, Stand UP!

I’m not going to lie, I’m afraid to write this post.

I’m afraid that I might be posting at a time when I am super enthusiastic about a lot of things — my job, my newly adopted city, life changes, re-connecting with old friends.

But I am also afraid that I will start and then stop. Afraid that I will lose steam, lose momentum. Give false hope. Let people (myself) down in some way.

I am afraid that I might be writing to escape. I don’t think I am, but I’m not prepared to say that I am not. Even less prepared to say that things will be like they were before. Today, I make no promises.

Saying goodbye to Reese and DCA.

Saying goodbye to Reese and DCA.

I might be back. I might not. Reese might be back. She might not.

Whew.

Now that I have sufficiently lowered your expectations and shared my current truth, did you miss me/we/us? I/we (maybe) (actually) missed you.

Returning to regular blogging is something we talk about, often, but haven’t quite acted on together.

Reese is deep in dissertation land. (Body roll for seeing the light at the end of the dissertation tunnel.)

I will leave it to her to tell you what she wants to tell you about her life, now. When she gets ready, in her own time, if ever at all.

Me? Last month, I wrote two whole blog posts that I haven’t posted yet. Why? Because I was feeling a bit shy. Truth be told I felt/feel rusty.

My "this weather sucks" face.

My “this weather sucks” face.

My voice doesn’t sound the same in my head when I’m writing. It’s my voice, but different. My voice, but wiser? More cautious? It’s complicated, I guess.

But the thoughts, the ideas — they keep arriving in my head when I least expect them. Uninvited. OK, occasionally invited.

The things I want to blog about keep flooding my brain. Case-in-point: It is 1:30 in the morning and I have an assignment at city hall in about eight and a half hours.

I. can’t. sleep. because. I. want. to. BLOG! Wanting to blog feels great. Wanting to blog feels terrible. (I’m sleepy, and I SHOULD) go to bed.

Instead, I write. And I wrote this post for you, and you and definitely you. But also for me. And for Reese.

Definitely for me.

I’m not back.

But I am (we are) still here.

– Ricks


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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.

-Ricks


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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.


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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.

So.

Grateful.

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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Farewell 5509

Today Team Too Thrifty handed over the keys to the place that has been our home, 5509 Holmes Run Parkway, to our property manager.

How bittersweet a moment it was.

The relinquishing of those keys marks the official start of our new journeys — Reese to Memphis and me, to parts yet unknown — and an ending of sorts to the journey we’ve been on over the last year and a half together.

But it seemed only right to pause and reflect on what 5509 means to us because it wasn’t just a house to us.  It was so much more.

5509 was the place where we slept most nights, often on our sectional couch after too much wine, so much laughter and not a few tears.20140630-184750-67670289.jpg

5509 was the place where we discovered our love for cooking and did our best James Brown impressions across the kitchen floor. It was the place where we often gathered our friends, but also examined the contents of our hearts. It’s the place where we created this blog, dreamed our biggest dreams so far, and created so many shared memories.

It was our home in every since of the word. But it is our physical home no more.

Today the lights are out at 5509, our beloved sectional has a new home and we are no longer the resident inhabitants of what we used to call home. We are in a grateful place of transition.

As we drove away, we gave thanks for the loving sadness that stains our hearts because we know that it comes from a place of knowing what it is like to have a physical home and to carry the memory of it — the peace of it — in our hearts.

We are forever grateful.

– R&R

 

 

 


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Swap it Out!

IMG_9863When in doubt, swap it out.

Spring is quickly giving way to summer, and you already know that in addition to it being toe-out season, it also is spring-summer dress season. Spending money for new-to-us dresses is something we’ll avoid if we can and nothing was more true for us this Easter.

I know you’re all like,  “But Thrifty Chicks, Easter was months ago. Why are we talking about what you wore from way back then?”
Well, because we’re rusty at this blogging thing and because any time is a good time to swap it out. Whether it’s Easter or some other occasion where you want to look cute without cost, swapping can be an even thriftier option than actual thrifting.IMG_9883

Swapping can be as easy as asking to “shop” a friend’s closet, or it can be a more
formal meet-up where everyone brings something to an agreed upon location to swap with everyone else. In fact, it’s a great way to clean out your closet and replenish it at the same time.

Instead of buying new dresses for Easter, we swapped. Our friend Tasha gifted  this fitted floral number to Ricks, and Ricks gifted a yellow frock to Reese. New fashion for each of us. Zero cost.