Too Thrifty Chicks

Think.Thrift.Create


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Food for Thought Friday: Too Tired Thrifty Chicks

As I write this, I’m sitting at Busboys and Poets, waiting for an 8 p.m. flight to Chicago for another conference. Ricks is working an 11-hour shift at her temp job. Between me working an hour away from home and writing a dissertation, and Ricks working long hours at her temp job and kickstarting her business, life is busy and tiring.  Couple all the changes happening in each of our lives with vexing things like Renisha McBride’s murder (which deeply effected both of us) and you get two tired (and sometimes discouraged) women whose creative juices are running low. All of these things make stepping back and taking stock of every aspect of our lives, including our commitment to this blog, not just a exercise in reflection, but a necessary force for self care.

Our love of thrifting is what initially connected us, and we started this blog because we each wanted a creative outlet that allowed us to freely write in ways that our jobs at the time would not. Over the last year, the blog has served that purpose beautifully. Now — a year later — we’re wondering what we want this blog to be. Our conversations have changed, deepened in some ways, and we’re asking ourselves how do those conversations make it to the blog? In other words, how do we write from “the center of our passion,” as a friend once asked me? We believe we’re pretty honest people, and want more of our whole selves to be reflected in our writing.

So what does this mean? It means that until we figure out the answers to some of these questions we’re taking a break. We are alleviating ourselves from the pressures of one more thing to do — something that the blog was never supposed to become. For the remainder of 2013, you might see a post or two or none at all, depending on what life brings in the coming weeks. In December, we’re heading to South Africa and hope that disconnecting from our current day-to-day lives will inspire us to come back and write with gusto about all the things we’re passionate about.

We’d like the blog to be somewhat of an extension of our couch time — the time we dedicate to talking about life, love, struggles, etc. Of course, we can’t let you in on ALL the conversations (smiles), but we’re hoping to honor our gift of writing not only what makes you smile and laugh but also stimulates your thoughts and encourages discussion. We haven’t figured it all out yet, but we will and when we do, we’ll be back in full swing!

-R&R


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60 Days of Purpose

Yesterday we began 60 days of intense purpose at the Thrifty Palace. A few weeks ago, we decided we need to focus on some important goals and prayer requests. Ricks has tasks related to her freelance writing career, and I have dissertation chapters to write. In addition to those very practical elements that will help Ricks get more writing gigs and help me earn this PhD, we have very real things we’re beseeching the universe for: ways to cut spending, how to get out of this current lease, and what next steps each of us should take career wise.

To do this, we’ve decided to cut out (or fast) from certain things over the next 60 days.  So what exactly does this mean for the Thrifty Chicks? It means no Scandal, no Martin reruns, no Shrimp and Grits, no Starbucks coffee, and no Backyard BBQ ribs.

But it also means more quiet time, more prayer time, more focus, and more action-oriented thinking and planning. We’re not of the mindset that because we ask the universe for something it will automatically be granted. That’s not the kind of faith we subscribe to. However, we do believe the universe recognizes purposeful action and values honest prayers/conversations. We know that if we do our part, the universe will do the rest. Whether or not that works out in the ways our limited thinking can foresee at the moment is irrelevant. What we know is 1) work needs to be done and 2) changes are on the horizon and we want to be ready.

1.5 days down. 58.5 days to go. We’re looking forward to the successes that are on the way!

How do you refocus when you need to accomplish a lot in a little bit of time?

-R&R


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Food for Thought Friday: Just Stop Already

Guest Contributor: Naya Jones from http://www.root-work.comCrack Up

(Especially for recovering overachievers and people who do too much)

This Saturday I woke up at 4 AM with a hefty to-do list on my mind. My body was tense. My head hurt. (But) I immediately grasped for my computer. I needed to check something off my to do list. I booted up my laptop, started writing drafts, and then, thank goodness, the Internet stopped working. Suddenly the connectivity just. . . stopped.

My forced departure from “productivity” came at just the right time.

I was hunching over my desk in the wee hours of the morning, on one of the few days when my calendar was actually clear. Like my spotty Internet connection, I needed to completely, utterly halt. I needed perspective.

As a meditation facilitator, I sometimes share these workaholic, overachieving moments with participants during classes or retreats. They look surprised. But if you were born and raised in the United States, or simply in a culture/society that equates productivity with hard work and long hours, you know that stopping is all too often censured. Time is money, right? To stop is to lose money, time, networking opportunities. Stopping delays progress.

AltarI’m a recovering overachiever who still has my bouts. Social signals encourage me to keep doing what I did for the first 25 years of my life: do too much, too hard, all the time.

Cases in point:

* My partner and I just bought a home. While buying some items for the house, we witness Lowe’s slogan: Never Stop Improving. (Message: Your house is nice . . . but is it ideal?)

* On a recent plane trip, a fellow female entrepreneur told me to always answer the phone. After all, you never know when a potential client is calling. (Message: Never stop being “on”).

* In the grad school hallway, I’m greeted with, “How’s the research going?” rather than, “How’s your summer Naya?” (Message: Graduate students should have no lives outside of research.)

Add to these signals stereotypes based on race/culture/gender/sexuality or more  – and the messages thicken. The inner pressure can be immense. If I stop as a Black Latina, am I lazy? Am I proving my ancestors proud? Am I showing that we ( = all Black Latina women in the country) can succeed?

If you are overwhelmed, doing too much, or a (recovering) overachiever, I’m telling you and telling mySelf: Just stop!

Saturday morning I closed my laptop, gathered my drum and journal, and went to a nearby park.  Sunday, Monday, and today, I’m still stopping. On campus I stop en route to my destination or slowww down (Why am I walking so very fast?!). At stoplights,  I take deep breaths. Today after an inspiring office hour with a student, I decided not to grade papers. Not just yet. Instead, I took a long walk back to my car. I drove a long route home.Rootwork_collage62

I’m also noticing how other people stop around me. My partner goes to the gym. On a deadline, he will still meditate for 5 minutes to refocus. (Yes, he inspires me.) A friend of mine who has two children and owns a business meets with girlfriends for coffee. She also takes a dance class once a week. As a more luxurious example, one of my aunts plans splendid Hawaii vacations for herself and family. She stops in two ways: by planning the trip and by taking it.

How do you stop? Is it time to take even just five minutes to stop, breathe, regroup? Is it time to do something – or be with someone-  that nourishes you?

If you are a fellow (recovering) overachiever, I remind you, and I remind myself:

By stopping you are not lazy, unproductive, unaccountable, or irresponsible.

By stopping, you nourish yourSelf. You connect with yourSelf and loved ones. You gain perspective.

Stop! and be well,

Naya

Rootwork

http://www.root-work.com


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Food for Thought Friday: Quiet Time

“We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly. . . spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” -Susan Taylor

IMG_9515In our house, each of us has a quiet time space. Ricks has a yellow recliner chair that she thrifted, and I have the window bench I built at the beginning of the year. We wanted to have places designated for reading, journaling, etc., but the truth is, they hadn’t gotten much use until a few weeks ago.

It happened sort of spontaneously. Every morning, each of us got up –around 5:30-6am–went to our quiet time spaces, and started our respective quiet time rituals, which include thinking, reading, praying, and writing in silence for an hour or more. There’s never a specific agenda other than to have a deliberate, calm start to the day. Everything in the house is quiet until we’re both done. Neither of us interrupts the other….and though we do almost everything together and share so much, it’s not hard to respect that space, because we know the clarity and peace it offers and wouldn’t want to deprive the other of that.

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” -Edgar Allen Poe

We let our thoughts roam, our dreams take root, and our pens write as much as IMG_4451they’d like (I swear we’re each gonna go through 10 journals this year).  It isn’t an agressive time.  I just let myself be present, engaged, and open to whatever the universe wants to share. For me, that might mean listening to the birds sing to each other, paying attention to my visceral reactions to what I’m reading, or writing down my thoughts and feelings without judging them.

This week, we’ve been working hard on separate work projects and teaching vacation bible school at night, which has made it challenging to get up early to have that quiet time. And each of us has felt every bit of it. I missed how it slowed me down. I missed offering the praise and worship that has now become the first thing I want to do each day. I missed taking the time to journal thoughtfully and honestly at length about whatever BIG dreams and goals I have. It’s not that I didn’t do these things at other points in the day; but by the time I got around to them, they were competing for time with other thoughts, feelings, and responsibilities that seem to crowd the day as it wears on. The morning time when each of us first wakes up–before the sun rises for me, when the light hits the window for Ricks–is the golden time. For whatever reason, when Im sitting on my bench at 5:30am, looking out the window as I read, write, or think, I feel like I can accomplish anything.

How do you start your day?  Do you give yourself the opportunity to have a quiet time (no matter how long or what time of day) that you can spend however you want?


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Food for Thought Friday: The Universe Provides

The Too Thrifty Chicks know a little bit about the power of the universe and what it means to have something that looks bad work out for good.

We are both big fans of the The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and are reminded daily that,

“when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

We believe that when what you are doing in all areas of your life is perfectly aligned with whatever you should be doing, the universe will help you out.  We believe, because we’ve seen it manifest before we knew each other and definitely since. We know exactly what it’s like to want something really bad and finally get it. We also know what it’s like to want something just a little bit and to get that too.

Rick’s reflections…

I probably didn’t pay enough attention to what the universe was doing early in life, but this year I can truly look over my life and say the it has been up to something over the last decade, if not my entire life. Instead of giving you the whole story, I’ll start in January 2009. I was on a bus from Montgomery, Ala. coming to the Washington,D.C.-area for the inauguration. I was here as a working journalist documenting the pilgrimage of a bus load of people from that city, many of whom had lived through segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, to see the inauguration of the first African American president. The history of the moment was clearly not lost on me, but I remember standing on the National Mall in the freezing cold with my mother and my fellow Americans thinking, “I’m ready to do this. I’m going to live here.”

I’d always had this loose, but clear idea that I wanted to live in the Washington, D.C.-area. It developed after I started covering state government and politics in Alabama and culminated in that moment on the National Mall. I kind of had an idea that I’d like to be among the hard working journalists you always see in the gaggle asking the tough questions of our top leaders. Then we’d spend a long day covering the Alabama State Legislature until after midnight, or I’d miss another Friday happy hour with friends because I was filing stories and then I’d seriously rethink whether that was exactly what I wanted to do if I ever made it to the area.

But the reality is that I had no idea about how to make it happen.I hadn’t applied to The Washington Post, or even any of the papers that my own company owned in the area. But when a job opportunity came out of the blue, just  two years after having that very thought on the National Mall, I jumped at it and got it.  I hated leaving all of the friends I had in Alabama, but knew down deep it was meant to be. When I learned that my mother had early onset Alzheimer’s and could no longer live alone, I knew for sure that I had made the right decision. Since that moment life has not been a walk in the park but the universe has given me signs along the way that let me know I am exactly where I need to be right now, doing exactly what I need to do. Whether it’s been making better connections with my family, meeting new friends like Reese who have been exactly who I needed them to be right when I needed them, to the birth of this blog and Operation Do Better, the universe is up to something and I am excited about what’s next.

Reese’s Reflections…

I often tell people everything always seems to work itself out in the long run. When applying to undergrad as a naive 18-year-old, I unconsciously only applied for private universities. When I realized this (and acknowledged that my family didn’t have thousands of dollars for college), I sat on the edge of my bed, said a simple prayer and waited. I ended up going to undergrad basically for free. When I was a senior, I had one post-graduation plan: teach. I applied first deadline for Teach for America and was accepted. When I started teaching, I knew I’d only be there two years, I knew I wanted to go to graduate school, and I knew I wanted to go to American University. During the second year, I went to visit AU during a conference weekend, ended up lost in the middle of D.C., sitting on a park bench….and right then and there, before I even stepped foot on campus, I said, this is my next home. Less than a year later, I was off to AU with full funding.

This year, my funding was over and I didn’t have another fellowship lined up. I was stressed out about it so bad, because I knew I didn’t want to get a fulltime job while finishing my dissertation. One day, I recounted all the things the universe had provided for me:

In a week or two, my finances will change, and there’s a great deal of anxiety about that. But I’m reminded that the universe brought me here; that I survived the first year with more bills than I have now and with less money. Then I was blessed with an NSF fellowship that was more than 2x’s the amount of the first. i was blessed with friends who send me random gifts in the mail that first year. Then an unexpected check from a company for a bill I wasn’t supposed to pay. The RISE fellowship my second year…great families to babysit for to make additional income…the opportunity to build a great friendship that led to a roommate situation that has allowed me to save more money in preparation for these changes. Regardless of what happens next, these are the things I know: 1) I’ve never been left or forsaken, 2)I’ve always had necessary provisions–even when I wasn’t as responsible as I should have been, 3) I know better, so I’ve done better. That will work in my favor. I have no reason to be scared. I have what I need and what I may need in the future will take care of itself. It always has. Besides, Which one of us by worrying can add another day to her life?

A week or so after writing that, I received an offer for a part time research position in my field. I believe it was always in the cards for me to get the job, but I had to replace my anxiety with gratefulness before I could receive it.

Who knows what my next steps will be? I surely don’t. But as I like to say: The universe has provided. The universe is providing. The universe will provide.

Sowing into the universe

We humbly and happily accept all that the universe provides, and contribute to the cycle. Giving back is a priority, whether it be celebrating friends with chucks and cupcakes, donating clothes to our church and the salvation army, cooking dinner for friends, or contributing financially to organizations we care about.  Could the universe provide without our contributions? Of course! But we know that as great as it is to receive the blessings we have received, it’s even better to give blessings to others.


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A Pie for You, Mama

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI loved picking blackberries when I was a kid, but not for the sake of loving it. I loved it because I knew that if my sisters and I picked enough, my grandmother would take those berries and make a pie. My goodness, I loved my grandma’s blackberry pie. I’d watch her roll out the dough, line the bottom of a 9×12 pan with dough, pour a layer of berries, add another layer of dough, and repeat it until the pan was full. Most times, I’d sit in the kitchen and wait, or I’d run next door to my house only to return about 30 minutes later to see if the pie was ready.

Today is my grandmother’s 81st birthday. She can no longer make blackberry pies or garden or fish or drive herself to church 3 or 4 times a week. She can’t do any of these things, because she can’t remember how to do them.

My grandmother taught me how to sew. She taught me how to bake a cake. She was the person who heard me spell my winning word when I qualified for the Scripps National Bee in 3rd grade. She took me fishing, picked me up from athletic practices, disciplined me when necessary, and made me wear stockings to church even though I P1080648hated it. She showed me what grace looks like in action and reminded me that raising my voice wasn’t the only way to be seen or heard. She was devoted to her church, but more than that, she was committed to the idea of loving thy neighbor as thyself. She is the one and only person I have called “mama” my entire life. She’s strong, a classic example of not succumbing to the woes of the world.

I cannot be in Texas today to celebrate her birthday. Even if I was, she wouldn’t know who I am. Instead, I celebrate her day by baking a blackberry pie (not as good as hers…no time to make dough from scratch), and committing to volunteer at least 20 hours over the next six weeks. What better way to celebrate the person who taught me the beauty of working with my hands and the joy of helping others?

image (4)Mama, today’s pie is for you. I frustrated you when you taught me how to sew. You often thought I talked too much. There were times when you felt like I was not always appreciative of all you did. But, I also know that you were proud of me and your other grands. I cannot go back and redo those awful stitch lines or close my mouth instead of arguing or show you more appreciation during the times you felt like you were undervalued. I do hope the pride you felt was enough to make the frustrations worth it.  What I can do is sow your legacy into the world and spread goodwill and justice wherever I go…and one day, if I have a tiny human, I will teach her that her great grandma was a gentle, loving reminder that the Universe’s love is spread through how we choose to treat people. Happy Birthday, Mama. I am so proud to be your legacy.


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Food for Thought Friday: Partnership

Friendship is essentially a partnership. ~Aristotle

Partnership is a funny thing, because it can look so different depending on the context. We see it everywhere: in businesses, in romantic relationships, in team sports. Somehow, people have to navigate the highs and lows and potential power struggles to find a system that works. If you’re lucky, you won’t have too many of those lows or power struggles. If you’re double lucky, you won’t have any. I guess you can say we’re double lucky so far.

I’m not going to pretend like either of us are perfect people or that we sit around singing kum-bah-yah every night (although, you might catch us rockin’ out to some Betty Wright or sliding across the kitchen floor in socks…but I digress). We’re both quite open with each other about our flaws and screw ups. But somehow two imperfect friends have managed to create a bond that reflects what I think is important about partnering with others.IMG_3865

What I’m learning is that partnership isn’t about splitting things down the middle.  There are times when Ricks gets home late or her days are hella stressful, and it makes me feel like it takes a little bit of the pressure off her to come home and not worry about cooking (or worse–just eating cheese for dinner…LOL). I sort of operate on a “see a need, fill a need” basis in terms of our household, and I trust she does too. We don’t have a chore chart. We don’t keep tally of who’s doing what. Sometimes I cook more, sometimes she cleans more. Sometimes she writes more blog posts, sometimes I do most of our scheduling. There are times when one of us picks up a lot of slack because the other is feeling really blah. This is what partnership means to me. It means figuring out how to best support people in ways that make sense–not just following some legalistic structure just for the sake of being “right” or being “even.” We’re in this together. In my mind, there’s no success unless we’re both reaching our individual goals, so I’m willing to do whatever it takes….and I know she is too.

IMG_3861Our partnership requires us to have a great deal of trust and openness about a number of things, including our finances. We talk about ways to cut our grocery bill (we’ve done a fantastic job, btw), we talk about the challenges and stresses of trying to pay off debt, and we talk about our visions for the future–what it will feel like when we reach all our goals. There’s really nothing off limits, because we’ve both learned that there’s no way to reach financial freedom alone. This is a long-term process that I’m sure will extend beyond our time as roommates, so when I think about focusing on the little things–like who’s cooking or who took out the trash or who washed dishes–it seems silly. When Ricks and I talk about our blog, our home, etc., there’s a lot of “we” talk, because if something doesn’t go well or doesn’t get done, there’s no pointing fingers. We usually ask, “ok so what do WE need to do?”

When you’ve decided to partner with someone, you agree to create a space where each person’s talents, time, and treasure can be used for the good of you both. You submit to being held accountable and you commit to being a cheerleader, a supporter, a hugger, a tissue bearer….whatever your partner needs. You truly learn what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself.” You check your ego and judgment at the door.