Being {Financially} Different

It’s not easy to be different. We learn that in the awkward middle school and high school years. Most people don’t have a goal of standing out because they are different. As an adult, I never really thought about being different or fitting in. I guess that means I’m fortunate to have found people who I had connections with – in college, in my career, and as a parent.

Seven years ago, we decided to be different and took Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. We learned that it’s ok to be weird with your finances and we wanted to be different. We made decisions about our future and our financial goals. We’ve been faced with a few tough decisions over the years, where peer pressure felt pretty strong. Admittedly, it’s a struggle in the beginning with wants over needs versus long-term goals. Our long-term goals have us living a future life that we get really excited about. It can be really hard to pass up a fun opportunity now for a future that you can’t quite touch. But, after some time to really think about it we both come to the same conclusion…most temporary things aren’t worth the financial setbacks when we think about our long-time goals. Sticking to a budget and our financial “morales” of not spending cash that we don’t have will always be the right thing for our family. If we really “need” it, we can save up for it.

One of the things I’m most proud of is our focus. We haven’t gotten distracted by exciting new things. We may not always create a monthly budget and we may have months we spend more than we realize, but our focus doesn’t change. We have multiple savings accounts with automatic monthly transfers to ensure we continue to fund our dreams. From 401K to college for the boys to car fund to holidays/gifts and even a basement fund. {Another thing I’m REALLY proud of. Paying outright to finish our basement. The majority of it has been done by my husband, but the things he has hired out came from our basement fund!} We both have wants and it can be a bummer when we “can’t” buy them, but after a few days of wanting you realize that you don’t actually need it. We have a house full of stuff that I’m constantly putting away, sorting, organizing, and cleaning. We aren’t deprived of anything.

The latest fashion or car isn’t something we needYes, we have our wants for a giant SUV vehicle. We’ve wanted it for more than five years {and maybe I’ve wanted it for most of my life}, but we don’t need it. Right now, a minivan {also not in my original life plan} works perfectly for our family. One of my children has spent the past year crashing his door into my van every time he gets in or out of Bryan’s car. Both of our vehicles are used and we’ve had them for more than 5 years. If they were new, we’d both be sick about it. But instead, it’s part of living with small, reckless children. And also proof of why one of our vehicles doesn’t have doors they can open…We’ll get our dream vehicle one day, when everyone in our house can appreciate and respect the vehicle. But also after we’ve saved for the vehicle. Because those are the things that are important to us. Living a life that’s a little different and maybe not as fun now so we can truly live a life we deserve later.

You won’t always find yourself surrounded by people who share the same opinions. The beauty of life is that everyone gets to make their own decisions and live the life they want. I do hope you are surrounded by people who respect you and your “weird” life choices. You can swap out “finances” with anything – type of school, health beliefs, fitness, food, clothing, anything. It’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive of your dreams and lifestyle – no matter how weird they are.

Do you have any lifestyle preferences that make you different from your friends? Or do you surround yourself with like-minded people? 

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Struggles with being and doing it all

On the eve of Maximus’ 6th birthday I’m left feeling a little deflated. My feet feel like dead weight kind of deflated. I spent the day vacuuming, sorting toys, organizing toys, and putting all things kid away. In between that I stopped to have a beer and buy party supplies. {The beer was extra delicious!} I haven’t planned a single thing for this party, but that’s the season of life I’m in right now. Maximus changed his mind twice on his cake, from Lego to Batman. And that means I’m not baking a cake this year. I’m too exhausted with life to feel bad about it. I’m looking at it as one less thing I have to do. 

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad timing that today I feel like I finally have the words to describe my struggles this summer. It’s a mix between being tired of doing It All and wanting some kind of recognition for doing It All. I know I’m not alone in any of this and having small kids only makes it all seem more crazy. But half the time I want recognition that I do a crap ton of stuff. That not everyone can do as much as me. {As I’m writing this I’m realizing that I need to tell my friends they are awesome. I can think of a lot of people who fit this description and I need to build them up.} Most days it feels like no one in my house can pick anything up. It’s utterly exhausting to just look around at all the things I pick up day-after-day. I’m trying really hard to raise boys who clean up after themselves but most days it seems like I’m talking to myself. {Please, no suggestions on how to have kids help around the house…} We make one good step forward and then someone {Quinten} is spreading tooth paste all over the bathroom like an animal. 

Clothes, toys, papers from daycare, and shoes. Every where. Every room I go into has something that belongs to a little person. All surfaces are constantly covered in things that belong plus random clutter. It’s like constant visual noise and it hurts my brain some days. I used to escape by watching shows at night. This summer I’ve found my escape to be my bed. For the most part, it’s a kid-free zone. 

It feels like the weight of all my responsibilities is finally getting to me. I’ve had plenty of pity parties over the past six years. Most of them have been about missing my freedom. Missing the carefree lifestyle and missing my individual identity. This feels different. It’s like I want a break from all of them. It’s a lot of hard work being a mom, wife, employee, boss, and volunteer. It’s really hard to be on from the moment you wake up until the second your mind finally shuts down at night. 

The things I can beat myself up about the most seem to be the ones that I want to escape from the most. Parenting and all the wife duties of taking care of our home. I should do more and be more. Yet, I find myself wanting to do nothing. I want to escape. On our girls trip, I so creatively coined the term “not adulting.” It’s been overused all spring and summer. It’s code for, I need a break from all of this so can we please go out for a drink {or 4}. 

I feel like I’m in Groundhog’s Day. Except it’s pleading with small children about the same things, picking up the same toys, washing the same clothes, making the same foods, putting the same dishes away EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, and doing the same bedtime routine every night. Even our weekly activities are the same – softball nights or band practice night. It’s so routine that I never know what day of the week it is. They all look the same. 

I’ve never felt like I needed spontaneity in my life but this routine and constant responsibilities seem to be doing me in right now. It’s a season, I know it is. That doesn’t make it any easier. I’m not even finding comfort in my friends who send out cries of non-adulting pleas. No solidarity pledge from me. Unless we’re escaping for a night, it’s not doing either of us good to know we both need out. It can be a suffocating feeling. And when I feel suffocated, I disengage with life. I solely exist in bodily form but can’t be expected to engage in meaningful conversation or do much but be there. 

I know I’m not more special than the next struggling mom. I’m not writing this to say I am. I’m writing this because I’m sure there are many who can relate to this feeling. I don’t know how to solve it. While the snaps from friends that say this sucks don’t help, I think our conversations do. There is comfort in talking with someone about the struggles. When people connect about struggling with all the parent responsibilities, it makes us feel less like we’re failing. Makes us feel more normal and ok with this phase. As long as we know everyone finds this hard, then we’ll make it through. Plus, find yourself a tribe who can not adult with you. Preferrably one who can help you have the best time of your life on those days or nights that you can escape! And added bonus if you can pretend to not adult while the kids run around and you drink an adult beverage. 

Feeling the raw emotion

When I wrote that post about finding your tribe, I didn’t fully realize how much I was going to need them. I don’t normally need people. I’m usually pretty self-sufficient and strong. I know strong sounds like a weird reflection of myself, but I don’t usually doubt myself or need others to reassure me. I love helping other people and I’ll usually drop everything to be there for someone. Yet, I don’t usually need that in return. 

To say I’ve had a lot going on in the past few months would be a gross understatement. I’ve spent most of that time telling myself that I’m fine and can handle everything. I’ve been stretched thin more times than I can count. Overworked until I’ve reached my breaking point. And then I’ve kept going. Honestly, I have no idea how. It’s always a new day with new responsibilities and a different schedule. So push through is what I’ve done. One day after another. It’s a lot like biking. Keep peddling.

I’m not proud of my parenting over the past few months. My patience is basically non-existent. I can’t figure out how to get it back. I’ve used up all my energy and brain space getting myself to the evening and forget how to parent two small boys who have a lot of energy. So I hope that each day they give me a new chance to be a little better and yell a little less. I try to build up a little more patience and remind myself that fighting and not listening is normal. 

Summer is crazy around here. I know it’ll get worse when the boys have more activities, but it’s enough to have us wishing for a few quiet days. If you’re not careful, marriage can be a lot of passing in the kitchen and text messages. Bless this husband of mine for being ok with all the nights I can’t “deal.” For understanding that I’m overwhelmed. For stepping up and doing things he normally doesn’t do. I know he hasn’t liked it and it’s been a strain on him too, but in a sense I’ve been on survival mode. Some nights he sends me away. Other nights he takes care of me. And there are a whole lot of other nights where we co-exist in a messy house with loud boys. 

One of my best coping mechanisms is sleep. Or laying in bed. I’ve been alternating between going to bed at 8:30 or going out with my friends. Which means going to bed waaaayyyy to late. It’s not a healthy choice to stay out so late. But guess what? When I go out with my friends, there are no expectations. We chat about life but I don’t need to do anything for them. I can talk through a struggle or complain about one thing, but it doesn’t make everything fall. I can forget all the things that are piled up on me and I can just be me. I know it’s not good to ignore the stress in your life, but it’s something I’m really good at. Pretend it isn’t there and it’ll eventually get better. Keep pushing through. 

I’ve reached the end of that line. It’s time for me to start processing my feelings and dealing with my emotions. Some day I’ll put together the right words to thank my friends. Our nights out haven’t been about me and most nights it was actually about someone else needing me, but that’s the irony in pretending that you’re ok. I now realize it was just as much for me as it was for them. And I know that all of the past few months have happened to each of us because we were the right people for each other. I needed a couple of close friends who could help carry me. Even on the days it looked like I was carrying them, it was still a little bit about me. 

They were distracting me and giving me a purpose. Giving me something to focus on that wasn’t a responsibility but was simply opening up my heart to help a dear friend. That’s the easy stuff. That’s the stuff I can do in my sleep. You need me? I’M IN! If I’m starting to crumble…well, I’m not good at that. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be alone, I want full-time distractions. I don’t want to feel. I want fun, uplifting distractions. Build up my confidence or compliment me. Ask me to go do something but don’t make me talk about real life. Keep it light and I’ll have the time of my life. And please, don’t ask me how I am. If I’m on the edge, that pushes me over. I can’t handle the compassion and concern. It opens up all my feelings and eventually you leave but I still have to deal with them. 

By this time, it’s pretty obvious that I do really good at ignoring, pretending, and distracting myself from myself. Until I reach my breaking point and then I break down. It doesn’t have to be something big that does me in. It can be a little thing. A small disappointment or small thing that didn’t go as planned. It only takes that one thing to make it all fall down. I had one of those moments last week. Well, it was longer than a minute. It was raw and hard and I am so grateful to have one of my best friends by my side. I didn’t solve anything that night. And it took me a good day to start to feel better. 

Maybe it was the really good cry, maybe I pushed the feelings aside again, or maybe it was the reminder that I’m the strongest person she knows and I’ll be fine. Either way, I’m ok. I’m kind of dealing. I recognize some of the hard stuff and feel it. I get close to not being ok but then pull myself out of it. So far. I’m not done yet. Honestly, I’m afraid I’m not even close to being done before I really get through them all and can feel safe in my head again. 

Recently, someone commented on how I can put myself out there on this blog. Writing is one of my passions. It’s not easy to write the hard stuff, especially when this feels so raw. I’m basically opening up my heart in this post. I’m admitting to not being able to handle everything. Admitting to not being as strong as everyone thinks I am. That’s really hard. But I’m also hoping that my words can help me deal. I figure out my thoughts through my writing and I realized a few things from this post. I feel confident in saying, I’m fine. 

The power of words

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around something for a while. Struggling to put it into eloquent words. Heck, I don’t know that it was necessarily eloquent but maybe just words in general.

I’ve had a few friends get pretty hurt lately. If I wasn’t so stubborn, I probably would have experienced my share of pain, too. It really has me thinking about people in general. None of these situations have been the same, but I’m still surprised at the way people treat others. It’s sad to see how immature some people can be or how they can have such a disregard for another person. I think I do a pretty good job of treating others how I want to be treated. I’m even nice to people who I kind of don’t want to be nice to. Maybe it’s the way I was raised or maybe most people just don’t have that characteristic. It seems like a basic rule to being an adult…

I’ve been surprised that people don’t seem to care about others’ feelings, don’t know what their words or actions can mean to someone, and in some instances how their words could ruin someones’ life. I want to call them immature and say they’ll grow out of it, but will they? That’s the part that scares me. Are some people destined to be awful people for their entire life? And these aren’t awful people – or appear to be people who shouldn’t act this way. People that on the surface seem normal, but behind backs they turn into malicious people.

I’m wondering where along the way of being a grown up, some of these people forgot the basic rules of friendship. The things I’m teaching my young children. Be nice. Share. Don’t be mean to your friends. Maybe that means calling a friend and having a difficult conversation. Explaining why you’ve made certain life choices that directly impact them. Or defending a friend when you hear a rumor. Or checking in on them when you know they are going through a difficult time.

Being a friend comes easy to me. Sure, I don’t treat everyone with the same level of compassion, but they don’t treat me with the same either. However, one thing is definite –  I’ll be there for anyone who needs me. Always. 

I wonder what people think before they talk poorly about others. Anything? I try to make a habit of not talking poorly about people. I like the “rule” of not saying anything you wouldn’t say to the person being talked about. Seems like a pretty good way of life. I especially pull back from talking poorly about people in group settings. It’s distasteful. I don’t want to be the center of those conversations, so why should I do it to someone else? What are my opinions anyway? They aren’t facts, they are my opinions. It’s a view or judgement not necessarily based on fact. And probably more based on rumors.

When people spread gossip, do they want credit for spreading it? Want to be known as the first person who knew? Is it a competition? Do they feel remorseful? From my experience, most of the things I hear aren’t true. It’s sad that so many people spend so much energy spreading rumors. What happened to sharing the good news? What happened to celebrating when good things happen to people?

{Rumor}: circulating a story or report of something uncertain or untrue.
{Gossip}: casual conversation or reports of other people, typically containing details that are not confirmed as being true.

I thought my adult life would continue to distance me from drama, but I’ve found that drama and gossip don’t have an age. I wish they did. I would have happily left that behind in high school. How come people can manage to pay their bills and do very well at professional jobs, but can’t stop themselves from saying untrue things about “friends”? Or, can’t bring themselves to be adult enough to have an honest conversation with a friend?

I don’t let a lot of things get to me. It’s either the stubbornness in me or hearing my dad tell me at a young age that people talk about you because they are jealous of you. It’s always stuck with me and when I self-reflect I think it’s true most of the time. If I find myself annoyed at someone or something, it usually comes from a position of jealousy. I remind myself that the grass isn’t always greener and I have the power to change my situation. I don’t talk poorly of the person, instead I adjust my life so I can be happy with where I am.

I hate when a friend is hurt by actions or words. Other than being there to help them process and get through it, I hope I’m a positive influence. I hope I do it with grace and lead by example. I hope that little-by-little “these people” begin to understand that there’s a much happier life out there if they aren’t concerned with everyone else all the time. It’s sad to think some people spend valuable time thinking and talking about others when they could be leading a better life. Be a positive influence on someone, even if it’s not obvious. Set a good example and you’ll feel much better about your own life!

Finding me again

There’s been a lot of talk on social media about finding your tribe. I absolutely love it!

I went on a girls trip a couple months ago and felt that girl tribe bond. I joked that I couldn’t wait for the trip because I was going to unadult. To adult: to work a desk job, care for a family, take care of a house, and be involved and/or lead multiple community projects. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from all my jobs! I was ready to do whatever Kyley wanted and not worry about taking care of anyone else. {Because on a girls trip you all watch out for each other, but you don’t have to care for anyone else.} It was the best! I found myself again. Me. Not the employee, mommy, wife, or volunteer. Just ME.

Whatever all this tribe talk is, I’ve realized that taking care of me isn’t about 5 am workouts, clean eating, or setting aside time to read and write. That’s taking care of my physical and mental health. While that’s important, I tricked myself into thinking I was focusing on myself. I hear so many parents of young kids talk about how hard it is to be an individual anymore. I get it. I get it hard. But working on your health is different than working on your soul. All this tribe talk has made me realize I need to work on my soul.

Spring is a rejuvenating time for me. I come out from winter hiding and am ready for sun, fun, and friends. I’m looking at this season with a different perspective this year. I’m going to focus on me and cultivate my relationships. Girls nights, trips, family nights with friends, and anything else that fills my bucket {preschool reference: bucket fillers make your heart happy}.

I miss Kyley. The girl who got me to this point in my life. The individual without all the titles. The one who built friendships, a career, and a family. Somewhere along the past six years I got caught up in the workload and keeping babies alive part. I lost sight of keeping the friendships alive and doing things that make me who I am. I thought one night a week sports and random celebrations where filling my individual needs.

Since having kids, I’ve slowly learned to lean on people. With one kid, I thought I had to figure it out on my own. Then came a kid who challenges me in ways I didn’t even know possible. I checked my humility at the door and found an even deeper relationship with my friends because of it. I don’t think I’m any more special than the next person but I have a very hard time asking for help. {Some people in my house would say the ornery blonde got his stubbornness from me. He might be right.} I’m learning that it doesn’t make me weak to ask for advice or even whine a little about my life. My friends are having the same daily struggles. It’s not a bad thing to reach out from the darkness and ask someone to pull you out.

All this tribe talk is making me love and appreciate my friends even more. It’s reminding me to make them a priority and connect with them more often. To make sure they are doing ok or just tell them how much they mean to me. And to spend a little more time focusing on me, even if that means skipping out on a night at home to just be Kyley out with friends.

Find your tribe

It’s ok, I’ve got your back.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve realized that I really enjoy being there for my friends. I know that seems silly to say out loud. It seems like one of those givens in life. Maybe it’s been a while since I was reminded that I have a purpose outside of my family and job. Being there for my friends makes me feel really good. And who doesn’t like to feel good about themselves?! In what is the craziest, most chaotic phase of my life, doing something and feeling good about it is a pretty big deal. My hands are in so many things right now that I have this cloud hanging over me. It feels like I’m doing an ok job at everything. Things get done but not the way I’d do it if I had an infinite number of free hours to think and plan.

I’m sitting in the bathroom watching Quinten hum a song and congratulate himself on a job well done. I’ve got a lot of great things in my life, but those great things are also causing me a lot of pain and work. It’s nice to be able to be there for someone else. To help them with something. Seems a little like another “thing to do,” but it’s just different. Maybe that’s a sign that I’ve been too busy and I need social interaction!

If Quinten has taught me anything lately, it’s that some days you have to congratulate yourself. Don’t wait for others to do it. Recognize when you’ve done something good and feel happy for yourself. Let your friends tell you thank you and know that they mean it. After all, only the special friends have your back.

My new outlet: riding

Riding is my new thing. It’s my chance at some time with friends, a carved out exercise plan, and an opportunity to push myself as an individual. It wasn’t something I ever planned on doing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.

I was a year plus into Quinten’s life and I needed something. I was struggling with doing random workout routines at night because they weren’t really fun. I didn’t have the desire to run on the treadmill. I knew I needed something that was consistent and a workout. I jumped in headfirst. I spent a lot of money on something that I wasn’t sure if I would actually like. By taking the steps to buy a bike, I made the commitment that I was going to do it even if I didn’t like it. Not a recommended way of doing things. Spoiler alert: it worked out. 🙂

I was a little nervous before my first ride. It had been 15 years since I’d been on a bike. I may be a little off on that, but I don’t think I’ve really ridden a bike since I was 15. But you know what they say about riding a bike. It all comes back. It took me two or three rides to fully feel comfortable on my new road bike.

I’m a little over a month in and I’m loving it. I love the way I feel after a morning ride. I love the way it’s kicking my body into shape. It’s nice to have friends along to chat with. I don’t have many opportunities for adult conversations with my friends, so it’s good for me. We’re slowly getting the miles in. Riding three-ish times a week and getting about 35 miles a week in. We’ve had some chilly mornings {we canceled our ride on July 2 because it was 48 degrees out!} and some wet and muddy rides. We mostly beat the heat since we ride at 5:30 am, but it was starting to get a little humid before that wet, cold snap hit.

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Beautiful sunset | Flooded river | 100 MILES!

I was on a solo morning ride when I hit 100 miles. In between some flooded waters that would later close half of our trail and make the other half a jigsaw puzzle of mud and water. It was a pretty great feeling watching my odometer turn 100! Other than the OCD side of me watching those numbers change to three-digits, it was a sense of accomplishment. I decided to do something before I physically knew what it would involve. Since starting, I’ve been pushing my body to go faster and longer.

We used the long weekend to push ourselves the furthest we’ve gone. My friends have been riding these trails for a few years, but I didn’t know what to expect. I knew where we were going, but didn’t know the trail. The hills were the biggest and longest I’ve had. It wasn’t easy. During all three hills I had to mentally push myself to keep going. I wanted to quit at least a couple of times. It was hard. But I pushed myself and I kept pedaling. I learned a few things about my bike and the way I ride it. Unfortunately, I learned them on the way back, when the hills were much smaller. I hope these changes make the next time a little better! I’ll be honest, I’m not really looking forward to it. I’m a little apprehensive because it wasn’t easy. And who wants to do something again when it’s not easy?! But I’m going to because the whole point is to push myself harder and farther than I’ve gone before. I’m not a quitter and not doing something well the first time is an awful excuse for not trying again. Plus, this long ride pushed my miles to 152 and I love watching those miles climb!

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Halfway through an early morning ride