Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Price of Busy

When we run into people we haven't seen for a while I've noticed they frequently say something to the tune of "How've you been?  Keeping busy?"  If you answer "Yes," this is a sign that you are doing well and everything is fine.  In fact, it seems to be something of a badge of honor.  Isn't it?

Exactly a year ago, I was engaged in several side gigs: PM School, Saturday School, SAT, ACT, and a few miscellaneous things here and there.  It filled my pocketbook, but not my spirit.  I found myself completely exhausted, tense, and stressed out.

I thought about things outside of work that I felt most passionate about: writing, acting, singing, directing, cooking, travel, meditation, exercise, and time with friends and family...  I didn't have time for any of them, at least not any substantial time.  Sure, I could sneak some of these things in the cracks of time remaining here and there, but it was just enough to know what I was missing--MY LIFE!

The money wasn't even as good as I thought it was!  The SAT/ACT didn't take any money out for taxes, cost me over an hour commuting, requires me to pay my accountant for an extra tax form...  When I took those things into consideration, it was only really paying me $10/hour (or slightly more)...  Hardly worth getting up at 5:00 AM on a Saturday for!  PM School and Saturday school paid well.  Well enough to place me into a higher tax bracket.  I didn't really enjoy PM school. It tacked an extra couple of hours onto my day, when I was already exhausted from a full day of teaching.  I am the sort of person that cares about doing a good job at things I take on,  it was difficult to feel like I could do my best under that level of exhaustion.  To further add to it, my students frequently skipped class.  If the students aren't there, then I'm tacking on extra hours to my day, but not actually helping students to accumulate credits.  To answer the question looming.. Yes, I would still get paid regardless.  But that didn't really matter.  If I wasn't helping students, I would prefer to get some of my time back.  Saturday school was a tutoring program where students could come in if they wanted extra help.  I enjoyed it actually.  I was going to continue it, but they increased the hours and changed it to a credit-bearing class.  These changes in programming left me feeling like it would simply be too much for me.  These programs would go on without me; the students would still get the support they needed.  The opportunity would simply float to another teacher.

I can always earn more money, but I will never get my time back.  I love my students, but I also love myself enough to recognize that I deserve time to pursue other passions as well.  By stacking my life with these side gigs, it was as if someone said they'd "pay me extra" to give up my passions.  For a short time, I actually said yes!  I finished the year strong, wrapping up all of the extra programs to which I had attached myself.  By years-end, I had decided that I was letting go of my position in those programs, and gift the opportunity to another teacher the following year.  The price of busy had simply become too high.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Pride Post: Marriage, Money, and the Power of Choice

I'll never forget where I was...It was June 26th, 2015...  I was cleaning out my desk, packing up my classroom for the summer when I noticed the buzzing of my cell phone against the desktop.  I glanced over to see that my partner had sent me a message.

"It finally happened.  The Supreme Court has ruled.  We won."

Cell phone in hand, I ran.  As fast as my feet would carry me down the hall, I ran.  I flew into the chemistry teacher's room with hot tears streaming down my face.  Without a word, he nodded and smiled.  His smile always seemed to carry some nugget of wisdom that streamed from a life filled with stories...

Eventually, we parted company that day, and I finally composed myself to send a message to my mother.

It simply read:

"I finally have the right to be like everyone else."

Those words have some real weight to them, the kind of weight that comes from a thousand little stories.  You see, this would be the appropriate place for me to describe the myriad of more technical financial gains we're entitled to tax statuses, survivor rights, insurance rights...  I am incredibly thankful for all of these things.  Many people fought long and hard to afford us these rights, ones I will never take for granted.  Rather than, going down that road, I think I'd prefer to get a bit more personal.

I will get married.

So many people have asked us "What's taken so long?"  We've been together for 12 years now (as of the date of this post).  What straight people don't realize is that we never thought we could get married.  Some people were ready right away, and that's wonderful.  It's taken me a little longer.  I really didn't ever feel like I "needed" to get married.  I still don't, but it occurs to me that I've framed that wrong.  I wake up every morning and choose my partner, and she chooses me.  So eventually, we will do that as a married couple, and I'm proud of that.

For a number of years, some of the various financial aspects of getting married concerned me.  I'm proud to say that they don't anymore.  At all.  We've more or less ironed out those kinks.  I've always had wonderful financial habits.  My partner?  Less so.  But I really have to give her credit where credit is due.  She really rose to the occasion.  At first, I think she was motivated by a combination of things: me and wanting to feel less financial stress.  Who can blame her?  A nagging partner and empty wallet aren't exactly the best for finding your zen!  She started small, focusing on one step at a time.  As she saw more success, she gained more confidence.  As she gained more confidence, she became a more willing participant in our overall household finances, and that is huge!  I really need to have a partner that is willing to engage with me on that level.  Not only was she willing to do this for me, but she was also willing to love herself enough to do it for her.  Now she has an Accounting Degree, Tax Preparer License, excellent credit, a substantial personal savings (in addition to our joint one), and two retirement accounts that she funds.  Boy does she commit! I'm incredibly proud of her and feel confident that I can trust her completely with money and pretty much everything else.

If you're in a relationship right now, I'd like you to ask yourself:  Can my partner trust me financially?  Can I trust my partner financially?  I am proud that I can answer "yes" on both accounts.  If your answer is anything else, it may be time to love yourself and your relationship enough to start the conversation.