Things My Mother Taught Me

I have a love hate relationship with Mother’s Day posts so it’s ironic that I find myself writing one.

I struggled actually, even thinking about it. See, my mom passed away when I was younger ( 15) and it was very traumatic. It wasn’t her fault, but the circumstances around her death and after her death were rough. Life was just rough. And although I thought I was over it for many years, and was able to function, it took me a long time to process it. I’m still processing it. Grief is funny in a way.

But now that I am actually thriving in my life, despite circumstances that have happened lately, I can think about what my mom taught me. It may not be standard financial lesson such as a 401 K or taxes, but it is still pretty important to me nonetheless.

Life happens. Do your best anyways.

If I have learned anything this past year, it’s that life happens. I get so caught up loving life when it’s great that when something bad happens, it hits me harrrddddd. I get so upset that it’s literally all I can focus on and it takes me hours to calm down, only after I have bawled and cried to anyone who will listen to me.

I do have a condition that I actively seek therapy for ( borderline personality disorder if anyone is wondering) but a lot of my therapy involves changing thought patterns and healthy coping techniques. My coping techniques aren’t always the best but I am doing a lot better about not getting stuck in my head. And I have to remember life happens and I need to do my best anyways.

My mom was a prime example of life happening in so many areas of her life that I never realized it until recently when thinking about her. 

My mom and I at Disneyland! I still have that look.

My mom, who had never wanted children, found out she was pregnant with me after falling off a horse at a party. (Yes, my mom was a good time, something I like to think I inherited.) The doctor told her that she was fine and so was her baby and she sort of yelled WHAT BABY. She was on the pill being an independent woman y’all. Oops.

Life changed drastically for her and she did her best anyways. She moved to Phoenix so she could have more family support with her brother. She started a new job as a veterinary assistant so she could have more stable income. And she decided to be a single mother without telling the birth father, despite being chronically ill.

My mom ended up loving being a mother, something she had not imagined. She had such a great energy about her life despite her circumstances that she ended up dating the firefighter who came to deliver me. She maintained her single mother status until I was four and she married the man who adopted me, the father I’ve known (not the firefighter, she left him for my dad).

This wasn’t the first or last time she had a major life change. She ended up choosing to divorce my father a few years later. Things were tough financially for us then, since she was chronically ill and couldn’t work. But she still did the best she could and I never went without. And when she knew she was terminally ill, she still did the best she could, encouraging me to stay with my education even when I would rather be taking care of her. I ended up being home schooled the last few months of her life but I was okay with it and I’m happy I had the option at the time.

Life changed and she did the best she could. 

I wish I had more time with my mom. There is so much you need your mom for and I feel cheated on a lot of things. But, I am so lucky because I have so many people in my life who love me. And that is what I need to remember when life changes so I don’t become so stagnant in my own thoughts.

What did your mom teach you? 

Spring Cleaning? Follow These Tips!

I remember when I was younger, I loved cleaning the house. Growing up with a chronically ill mom and workaholic dad while being an only child allowed me to sucker in the cash. Before my mom’s medical bills got outrageous and she divorced my dad, I was able to sucker $25-40 a week just by cleaning, stuff most kids do to build character. Except my room. I hated cleaning that.

My apartment is sort of like the adult version of my room in that I don’t want to spend all day cleaning it so I make jedi mind tricks to help. Along with keeping a day job, freelancing, friends and being a cat lady, keeping a clean house helps keep me sane. It can help you too.

Allow time for breaks and time for work. 

I am the biggest proponent in the world of breaks. My mind is busy and I can get easily off task. Throw in some chronic health issues that require rest and anxiety that leads to being overwhelmed, I could use a nap.Which is why I allow time for breaks and time for work.

I am a big proponent for the 20-10 rule made popular by UfYH. You can read more about it but it suggests working for 20 minutes and then breaking for 10. It’s like the pomodoro technique but for those of us who don’t like tomatoes and can’t handle the idea of only breaking for five minutes. A professor in college suggested to my class only working on something for 20 and then doing a chore. This aligns nicely with that.

Don’t be afraid to throw shit out. 

I “think” hoarding may be generational. If you have parents who are hoarders or pack rats, then chances are you never really learned a healthy relationship with your own belongings.

My dad is the biggest pack I personally know and owns over 60 cars that don’t run. I can’t really discuss the idea behind this because it doesn’t make sense to me. But, I’ve had my own trials tribulations with personal belongings I didn’t need. Not only did I have a problem with shopping I will discuss at a later time, but I had a personal problem with letting things go.

After I realized why I had a shopping problem and why I was hanging on to things, I was able to declutter. Decluttering allowed me to move four times in less than two years  when my life was unsettled. I was able to move in two car trips instead of renting a u-Haul. Excess furniture I don’t utilize doesn’t belong in my house. And when my life feels chaotic, I know I can cut shit out.

Do a little bit each day.

Along with taking breaks, I don’t make it a big deal to do everything in one day. I do get stressed out if people are coming over or staying long term, like my boyfriend, but I try not to make a big deal out of it or cram it all on one day when I’m sure to get overwhelmed. Instead, I allow myself to do something everyday.

Maybe Monday nights are dedicated to the bathroom or laundry. Maybe vacuuming is something you do on Sunday mornings. Create a cleaning schedule and do things when you know you can, little by little, everyday. Along with a checklist for my night routine, I know laundry is done on Sundays and my fridge needs to be cleaned out on Thursdays.

Allow yourself some fun cleaning products.

Nothing is wrong with wanting pretty things in your home and that includes cleaning products. Not only do I buy sponges in fun prints from the dollar store, I also allow lavender scented Swifter sheets and bamboo smelling air freshener.

I like to have fun when I clean, so I power up the radio and pop out my hot pink spray bottles. You can get most cleaning supplies at the dollar store like me and splurge on a few items at Target. They are probably cheaper at Walmart but the one by my house is one frequented by Phoenix Police so I try not to shop there too often.

Do you have any spring cleaning tips to share?

What I Learned Going Back To School While Working Full Time

Copy of Pinterest Graphic – Untitled Design

I’ve never been the traditional college student. When I was a freshman at a community college, I changed my major five times. After the fifth major stuck, I only completed one more year before running away from my small town lifestyle to the busy lights of Las Vegas where I thought I would be way happier after hitting one of my rock bottoms. I returned to school after taking time off and graduated with an associates.  I don’t regret getting my associates one bit because it allowed me to earn more in the work force sooner than finishing my bachelors. However, I do regret not finishing my bachelors soon after.

After taking more time off, I started the journey of going back to school full-time while working full-time. I was denied an interview for a promotion based on my education despite already having at least ten years in the non-profit sector. I was disappointed in myself to say the least which just reignited the determination to get my education completed, once and for all. Now, I truly do love school so I can’t say, as much as I want, that I am never going back. I was offered various awards and scholarships to attend graduate schools, but after feeling burn out, this time it’s not right for me. I may go back at a later time, especially as my field ever changes. But for now, I am content with my bachelors and I want to share with you somethings that I have learned along the way. I hope you can apply them to your life to help you be a Money Smart Latina too!

1.I have time. No really, I do.  Going back to school full-time while working full-time seemed to be very daunting at first. And I acknowledged the privileges I had while doing so. I don’t have children or a husband, which do take time. Those are major commitments. When I first started going back to school, I rented a room from a friend and had a very caring boyfriend who lived on the other side of the country. So, it was fairly easy for me to come home and study or go to class after working 8 or 9 hours. However, circumstances changed and it made sense for me to move out on my own and into my very first apartment.

It gave me the space and silence I needed for a very demanding schedule. I also created processes that helped me cut down on time throughout the week like meal planning and batch cooking. Along with processes, I had to cut way back on other activities I enjoyed such as seeing friends for just about everything, reading and any other hobbies I once had, like blogging. It sucked and some of my relationships did suffer. But, I had time when I thought I didn’t and still averaged sleeping 7 hours a night. It was just all about finding it. This does mean I no longer watch TV ( maybe an hour every other day at the most) and I may or may not have gained weight that I need to lose because I stopped working out. Oops.

2. Failure to plan is planing to fail. Even if you don’t go back to school, start using a planner stat. I’ve always been a big planner nerd but I became even more so when I needed to keep track of where I was half of the time and not double book myself. Towards the end of my academic career, I even started planning out what I would be doing hour to hour. This helps you see what you need to get done for the day and keeps you from spending excess time on Facebook and other time sucks. I also have taken to laying out my outfits the night before, organizing my bags ( I have a lunch bag, purse and work bag at any given time), and packing my lunch all the night before. The thing I am still slacking on is reviewing my day the night before just so I can be extra on top of it and not be tempted to hit snooze if time does not allow. People, including myself, waste so much time not being organized so this really does help ensure life goes much smoother.

3. I believe in myself. I am okay. One of the most life changing things that has ever happened to me was when I was attending ASU. I was invited to study abroad in Israel as part as a counter intelligence training program for my dual degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. At first, I was weary. The program was going to cost at least $10,000 and I wasn’t sure I could fathom that. But, I did everything in my power to ensure I could go. I applied for scholarships, made dozens of phone calls and set up a Go Fund Me. Once I raised the funds, I crammed as much info about Israel and the people as I could before I got there and after.

When I was swimming in the Dead Sea, I cut my foot which later got infected. I had to seek medical treatment and so, when our group was out and about, I found a pharmacy, a doctor and got everything I needed on my own. I’m sure my instructor would have helped me but a lot of people had a gross stomach bug so her hands were full. And, you know, my pride. I didn’t speak the native language and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but with fierce determination I figured it out.

I don’t share this quite often, but I have a mental health diagnosis that causes me frequent bouts of anxiety, depression and codependency.  I can be perfectly okay and seem on top of everything and then have an awful week where everyday is a sincere struggle to get out of bed and feed my cat, let alone go to work. A lot of people are surprised because I seem so “high functioning,” which is silly to me. Mental illness looks different on everyone and there is no one general picture of people when they are manic or hoping to sleep the day away.

Going away to a foreign country and having that experience was a game changer for me. Since I’ve been back in therapy, my personal motto has been, “I’m okay.” And while I believe it from time to time, after having that experience getting myself medical treatment, I actually started to believe it all the time. Accomplishing this degree while working full time and keeping my sanity intact meant I was okay. I can write tons of papers and do research and take exams. I can rock in my career and come up with great events while in the middle of finals. And I can have bad days and know that I am still okay.

While I’m glad I finished school, I am even happier that I decided to go back. Any big life event is an opportunity to grow if you allow it. And grow is definitely what I did.

Have you learned anything surprising about yourself lately?
Athena