Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Taking on the Credit Beast ~ Imma Cut Ya

Well I finally did it! I cut my first credit card! Well, with scissors. Not the first time I've canceled one--not that I'm canceling this one. I don't have a ton of credit cards, and I know that the amount of credit available to me--not necessarily the number of cards I have--effect my credit score as well. So I want to stick to the amount I have now, and just pay them down.

  However, this is the first time I've cut one. I need to remove the temptation of swiping it at work. Because even those vending machine snacks, those awesome gardening deals, don't help me reach my goals. I need it to be out of my wallet until I get my spending and debt under control. If I so wish I'll get it reissued after I reach that goal. My idea though, is that I'll keep it as it is, and just run my basic bills through it, so that I have a payable balance each month, but usable for nothing else. Not using your credit card doens't really do much either--using it responsibly does.

  I have to say though--cutting that card in half felt SUPER GOOD. I couldn't help but smile. Because I had finally done what needed to be done. Goals come first--and I need to remember that.

  And now I'm watching Confessions of a Shopaholic. I thought it was fitting.

  Here's to a better year next year. And please forget the corny blog title.


  ~Nikki



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Thursday, October 5, 2017

When Autumn Comes In Life

There are days when Autumn comes, normally or just in a time of your life, and it can feel like just a season of change. It's good, it's refreshing. And then there are the days where you don't want to get out of bed for two hours, because you don't want to do anything. Nothing but lie there, and think. Be inside you head while the morning moves on grey and dripping. It's relaxing, but it won't move your your soul to action. Only necessity does. It's a mixture of a grey serenity, and your own depression. And with us women, our emotional spectrum is always off the charts. One day we can hop out of bed feeling we can take on the world. Then the next, we miss so many things, and we're overwhelmed by so many things, we can't bring ourselves to get out of bed.

  Until the meowing of the cat or the fact that your fish's bowl is dirty makes you. The fact that you have to eat makes you. And the fact that you have to go to work, or you won't make rent, makes you.

  And the biggest thing of all--your own future needs you to. You still have plans, you're hanging on to what life can be. You're fighting for its possibility.

  Currently I'm (again!) going to have to work two jobs. I need the extra cash to pay for bills that got out of hand, and I don't like asking for help unless it's really necessary. I need to get out of credit card debt, pay off my car, and find a way to provide for film school. I don't know how it will all work. I do know that I have to start at the beginning (again--I always feel like life is sending me back to the beginning on things, and it's incredibly frustrating. One doesn't live forever, or have all the time in the world to keep starting over) and just fight for each step. I honestly don't know what else to do with my day.

  I can just keep getting out of bed, and going to work. Finding moments to really enjoy. Fight for each step towards my goals. It's a reason to keep going anyway. What else is there, except our goals, our hopes? You never know where life will take you. What your day will look like. But at least we can picture what it can be, even on the days we can barely make it out of bed.



~Nikki


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Sunday, September 17, 2017

True Identity ~ What Is Truly Uniquely You

powerful identity quotes
~ Bhimrao Rhamji Ambedkar


  You know I was just looking at this custom fragrance that I was able to create on Waft.com. I'm not sure if I'll get it, as things are still financially tight. (I do love my perfumes, and get one every other year or so--I don't go through them quick enough). But I was just thinking about what they're really selling--it's something that is uniquely you. What you like. How you want to create yourself. The idea that you can have this modern, beautiful bottle of scent with your name on it. It can signify what you are. Someone can walk into your bathroom and think, "Oh wow she even has her own personal scent! How very posh and confident...I wish I could do that."

  I just sat and thought for a minute. I had only created the scent because of a link I saw on facebook, and thought it might be interesting. But after thinking about all that--the allure of having something uniquely mine, saying "This is me," I couldn't help but think of the minor, materialistic mindset of that. Sure, there is something genuinely alluring and great about the ability to create your own scent. But I was also recognizing that I tend to use too many "things" to define me. From the fantasy swords on my wall, to the vintage furniture, to the movie posters--to anything and everything. All these things are good--and should be a reflection of who I am. But not so much that I want to get them to feel like I'm defining myself. My real definition is in what I do. What I make. It's all about perspective....

  It's cool that I can make my own perfume. Maybe I'll get it, and love it. I'll have a lovely bottle on the shelf with my name on it, my quota. It'll be beautiful because it came from a confident woman who knows herself, not because the scent makes the woman though. And people say this all the time, but every truth, individually experienced, is still nonetheless potent and incredibly real. And the way we experience them effects our individual viewpoint, and can also effect others.

  I want everything in my life to be a reflection of my confident self. Come from a place of self-knowledge, and celebration. Not materialism, or a crutch of expression. Because sometimes I get things for the wrong reasons. They can be good things. If I need reminded of who I am, getting a book, or a perfume, is not going to remind me. Building a fortress with a label on it, so I can sit in there amongst all my "defining things" will never satisfy me.

  I think that is one of the hardest things though. To know yourself. Honestly that is the journey of life, and sometimes at the end we still don't completely know. We are our own greatest mystery. But their is beauty in the times of discovery.

  Just wanted to share that.


  ~Nikki


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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Finding a Way Forward ~ Bare Naked Letters



  I was still quite young when my mom told me that for her, getting her heart broken literally felt like her heart was breaking. It hurt so much. It took her a long time to get over her ex. That's not how it felt for me, although awhile after it started to. My chest hurt all the time. I'd wake up and my heart would ache, quite literally, and that ache would just spread through the course of the day. At least I didn't cry like I did, those first three days. I have never had such a breakdown before. Cried so much that the moment I finished a task, I'd just start bawling again--and then stare into space, thinking, wondering how it all went wrong. How I didn't see it coming. That first day was awful. Sometimes my chest still hurts, but I'm in a much better place.

  Having this happen, and certain things with my family, has pushed me to focus on my goals more. I need to get on with my own endgame. Refocusing has been a big help with keeping me grounded. I have things to do, and honestly, I have let a lot of things get in the way. Perhaps this is God's way of pushing me in the right direction. I don't know. I do know that I took the leap and applied to Film Connection again, and have been talking to them about possible mentors in locations at least within a 4-hour radius. Because I've looked for places in Amarillo. That's isn't going to happen.And Albuquerque looks way more promising. Albuquerque Studios has actually done some pretty impressive work--I'm in talks with my Head of Admissions about getting them on board with the Film Connection Program. We'll see what happens.

  In the interim, I have been writing. So much. Whether it's my new book, my journal, poetry--I've picked up my pen again and there is ink everywhere, metaphorically speaking. Change, in that aspect, has never felt so good. It is high time that I delve more deeply into my writing again, and get things going. I can't wait to share this new book. Bare Naked Letters. It will cover Letters to a Lover, Letters to a Absent Sister, and Letters to a Mother. All the words I never spilled, on paper. One invaluable thing I have learned--true honesty. Spilling everything on paper, as if speaking to them--every aspect including my love, my bitterness, my hopes, my frustrations, my anger--everything. Man. I can't wait until it's finished.

  I'm ready to write my way to hell and back. (Hell meaning that invariably difficulties will arise and they can be the best and WORST thing to happen to a writer trying to get to the end).

  And by the way, I'm on a new journal. My 20th. I'll have a library of journals by time I'm dead. I'm actually looking forward to what this one will hold.


  ~Nikki


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

There is No Victory Walk for Lost Love


lost love, love quotes


 A week ago today my boyfriend broke up with me. It feels like it's at least been two weeks, if not a month--not just one week. Time has no meaning for it. My life has just upended in a way that I never saw coming. In the space of one week I've lost someone I love, or rather it feels like they've set me aside, as if I was unwanted. But I know it's not the whole story. It's very weird. We're still friends, because the only thing that would be worse would be losing his friendship too. We began as friends, and honestly, in a way he is still my best friend. I just want to scream at him and hit him with a bat for being so...cowardly and dishonest for so long. Even though, in a roundabout way, I suppose it was because he loved me as a friend. And I desperately, desperately want him to come back.

  Whoever said that sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you--must never have been in love. Because, like a knife, they can slide beneath your skin, through sinew and bone, through the doorway of your heart into your shattering soul--and all in the force of a lightening strike. That's what it felt like for me. Like my whole being was in the middle of an earthquake. Your soul moves. You can feel it screaming, moving, turning over in the wretchedness that it feels. Part of me wondered something. You hear people say that when you make love, the souls meet. I wondered if it was just a part of his ripping itself back out. But if he never loved me that way, how could that even be. There were moments I could barely breathe. It felt like my soul was being sucked out, forced from my body by some storm. How is it that you can fall for someone that does not feel the same way? And be so blind, to not see it? Perhaps I wanted to just believe, on some intuitive level. I was still new to everything. So was he. But he is a damn fool, in a lot of ways, because we had a wonderful thing going, even just as friends. Plenty of people are not so lucky.

  I lost my lover, and I'm going to lose my apartment, because it's already rented out. I can't afford that house all by myself. Fortunately my complex offered me another apartment--a bigger, more expensive one, but I think I'll be happier there, even if it stretches my budget. My life has been upended like never before. I'm curious to see where I'll be next year, considering what a wild train this is turning out to be.

  I want to forgive him. I want to get to the point where I just feel joy at being with my friend again, not hurt and desperately wanting to hold him like I did, or kiss him, or just be allowed to love him. Be held in return. I don't know how long it's going to take. I have really no idea...some days it feels like it will never go away. Other days, I believe it has to. Time changes everything, even if it doesn't erase it. Some days I wonder if I should just walk away, for a time. I don't know. Like I tell everyone, I have my moments. And it's long from over. It's only been a week. It did give me some wisdom though, something I will remember my entire life. There is no victory walk for lost love. If it was good, even one-sided, you will always mourn it. You don't walk away saying, "His loss, I have better things to do." Because loving him was one of the best things you ever did. But I do have things to do. I have a life to live, and I'm finding a way forward, in the small things. The only victory is surviving it, as you mourn it. And God help me.


  ~Nikki


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Thursday, August 3, 2017

What Makes Me Happy ~ My Definition of Victory

personal victory quotes


  Things have been so hectic, I've barely had time to do anything but work. I've barely cleaned house, or paid attention to my blog, or even just relaxed. On a good note, my landscape business is gaining momentum. I'm loving what I'm doing. And I'm getting paid for it!

  I've been so tired, getting little sleep though. The difference between my usual exhaustion and this is that I'm actually doing something I love, and it makes me a happy person. Sure I have those moments at work still that I'd rather send someone to the guillotine than smile one more time at them, but overall just the knowledge that I'm doing something I love on the side, and getting somewhere with it, is an incredible sweet victory. Even if I can barely hold my eyes open at times, and I'm hanging onto that coffee or energy drink like a freaking lifeline.

  I've also been house hunting. Not to buy, just to rent--but I'm ready to have a bigger place. It was a bit of a short-notice decision, (which jolted my boyfriend a little bit, when I told him that I wanted to move after all) and I jumped on hunting everywhere for a proper place. Several things just fell into place that made me want to move. I need a place to keep my lawn care tools, (shed preferably) we wanted these akita pups a from friend but couldn't care for them properly in such a small studio (I fell in love with those pups), and I was ready to have a yard and showcase to the world what I could do with my own space. And above all I was ready to not be cramped in my own place. Oh, and the AC is leaking. AGAIN. Every year, without fail.

  Day and night for the past month or so I've been looking at rentals in any spare time I had. I knew that once I forfeited my lease renewal, my studio would be snapped up by someone else and I needed to find the right place asap. I was so stressed, looking on craigslist (be careful there), on trulia, on trovit, ANYWHERE and making endless, endless calls. Always one thing or another was not acceptable, or they just wouldn't get back to me. I had lists of places I had already called, and when, and what I was waiting to hear about. There was this one house we were so excited about--then I discovered that every single online review for this rental agency was absolutely horrible. So I dropped it like a hot coal, albeit with great disappointment. And perhaps even a bit of anger. I was so ready to be done. So freaking tired of it all.

  Yesterday (and I had a good feeling about that day) I used my day off to go see two properties. One all the way in Canyon (almost got stuck in a mud ditch!!) and one actually near to our friends' house, where we will be getting the puppies. It felt serendipitous, and I loved the house. Needed cleaning and painting, but it was perfect otherwise. I just saw fun projects. I got home, and told Jaciel that I was sure I'd found our house, and I immediately applied. I feel so right about this one. I'm just paying that we get it.

  Which led me to rework finances for the next few months, and that took like four hours. I was stressing, knowing how much we were having to come up with in a short amount of time, but we'd be able to do it. And it made me realize how far we've come already. Things feel tight yes, but it's because it's a step forward, and we'll have to grow into it. We have that chance. If certain opportunities hadn't come our way, then this wouldn't even be possible. It is because we both work so hard, and try new things, and find a way to make it work. The same will be for the coming challenges.

  In the end, everything will balance out. Things are moving forward. To me, that is victory.


  ~Nikki


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Monday, July 3, 2017

Financial Fiascos ~ How Will I Win My War?

financial freedom quotes

  For someone who doesn't like to cry, I got as close to a meltdown as I'd let myself. Several things have been happening lately, and it's gotten harder to stay positive. I know this seems like a turnaround from my previous posts lately, but at those moments it was a bit easier to stay positive.

  Like a lot of people, I struggle with being financially responsible. I don't save. I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. While I have a good job, I'm not well off. For awhile there I managed to live on a part time job, making less than I do now, but I didn't have a car then, and no pets, and ate extremely modestly. I still eat rather modestly, but every since I started wanting to "build my credit score" and got a credit card, and then a car, things started to happen. More of, "Oh, I need to treat myself. Oh, this happened just put that bill on the credit card so you don't get a late fee." How do things escalate so quickly?

  The sucky thing was that I spent ALL of my tax refund this year getting out of credit card debt. I was glad. Then...again, a couple things happened and I had to get food with the card. And I was too embarrassed still to talk to my boyfriend about finances. He was always helpful, taking care of us in ways, but I didn't show him how much I was struggling with bills and food. Feeding us both. Stupid me.

  Lesson 1#

  Let there be financial clarity between you and your significant other. It will ease the burden, at least. It can only help. 

 So after awhile I started being more open with him. Showing him what I was doing with my money, trying so hard every paycheck to put as much money towards debt--then, since I wasn't paying myself, giving myself spending money, I'd end up using the card for something. One of my cards. I have five now. One I rarely use, and I have no balance on it. The others have their designated uses, and then...whatever I choose for them. He started helping me put money towards the cards, helping  balance out the grocery budget, less spending going out to eat. It's been hard. But I have learned something I used to scoff at, because I'm a "hit hard, everything goes" person.

Lesson 2#

  Pay yourself, woman!!


People work hard. We need that little treat. I give myself $30 off of every paycheck now. Yes, that's little, but in the scheme of getting out of debt as soon as possible, it's the more reasonable option. If I struggle to much, then I might increase it a little bit. As long as I'm paying more than the minimum on my cards. It still slip up and get greedy. I rarely go out with friends, and this past Thursday I had the opportunity. I had no personal spending money left, and it was the day before payday. So I used my card. I didn't even spend a lot. A modest fast food meal, some deals at Hot Topic and Forever 21. Genuinely small things. But the reality is, now I don't have that spending money for these two weeks, because I spent it on the day before. I immediately put my allowance towards the card, since I technically already spent it. It's hard being stretched thin. 

And then came the kicker.

  Back in April/May I finally went to the doctor, and asked for meds for my sciatica. I've struggled with it more and more this past year, so I asked for the declined meds (that I got from the hospital physician) to be approved. One of them was a good painkiller that whenever my back started interfering with my work, would make it go away. I'd be able to keep working. I found out that the specific mix of prescriptions that he gave me put me at risk for seizures. Go figure. She said no to the prescriptions of course, gave me a new one, and signed me up for physical therapy. Yay to getting myself fixed.

I had no freaking idea how much that would cost.

  I called ahead, and got an estimate. Way off. WAY OFF. I got another bill yesterday, after when I thought I had the final balance to everything after insurance and my financial aid, and was like, "Wait, what??" So I called. No. That balance was for one freaking appointment. I'm going to be in even bigger debt than I imagined. Just for five days of some cute exercises and 8 minutes of electric therapy on my back. I hung up and could feeling the meltdown coming. I was so tired of being in debt. Tired of trying to get to the point where I could save money for whenever I get married, want to go on a honeymoon. Pay for freaking school. It's like I get setback after setback. If I wasn't in credit card debt (which all things considered, I'm handling ok) this would still put me right where I am with it. Heaven help me. And I'd like to be able to afford to go on a road trip. This year's was canceled due to expenses.

Overview of Current Situation:

Credit Card debt
Car Loan
Online Coaching Classes
Health Bill (which will be over $1k it looks like)
Boyfriend's Car repairs

  Credit card debt is in an uncomfortable place. My car loan, which is taken care of every paycheck, is a rip off APR-wise and final cost-wise. It's worth $1500, I got it for over $8k, and by the end of this financial plan I'll end up paying over $13k. Good grief. Health bill I don't know what the final balance will be yet. Online classes, roughly $220 a month. Car repairs--already spent $2k on it after a wreck, and then the starter wouldn't work. So there's that. Back down to one (functioning) car.

  Needless to say I was overwhelmed yesterday. I had had about enough. Enough worrying about debt, about work, about how I was going to succeed at being self-employed within two years.

  In the end, no matter the cost to time it is, it comes down to facts. Like Captain Jack Sparrow says, it's about what a man can do, and what a man can't do. (A nerd finds wisdom in the strangest of places, don't judge me). I can't make it disappear overnight. Or in a month. I can however just look at what I'm willing to budget, and stick with it for however long it takes. One step at time. Because wanting to punch something so hard you burn, doesn't fix anything. Looking at the facts does. Calmly setting down a feasible plan does. It will take more time. But slow and steady, I will win the war.


  ~Nikki




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