Monday, July 29, 2019

Making Ends Meet: Every Day I'm Hustlin'

I am a hustlin' fool these days. I have been attempting to pull myself up by my bootstraps for over five years. While I have met several milestones, I'm not nearly as far as I'd hoped. I'll try one thing for a while, then another thing for another while, then yet another thing. Nothing has ever seemed to be enough. 

I tried to go back to school to be a therapist and that was sabotaged by divorce drama. SO much drama.

I tried a few traditional jobs and that blew up in my face with scary abusive bosses and general bullshit that was SOOPER tRiGgErInG and threatened my mental health. NOPE.

I accidentally started a housecleaning business out of desperation and rolled with that for about three years, until I was ready to drop dead from exhaustion (and lack of air conditioning in my van in Florida for the third summer in a row).

Then I went back to school again, that time with a plan that had small incremental steps that included a 1 year certificate followed by a 2 year AS degree, then a bachelor's (or beyond). This was to ensure progress in my employability while working my way toward a business degree that would help me expand my housecleaning business. The plan was rock solid, right? What could go wrong???

Welp, I finished the pretty useless 2 year degree (with a 4.0, thank you very much!) but now I'm kind of stuck with that one for the foreseeable future because of several pricey car repairs that had to happen (air conditioning -- WORTH IT). My financial assistance ran out about a year earlier than expected and it's up to me and me alone to makes ends meet now. I'm kind of freaking out about it. I NEED AN ADULT!!! Wait. I AM the adult. Shit.

Now, I do have a day job. I transitioned from housecleaning to bookkeeping after I restarted school, a job that ended up being the business internship that was required for my degree. Low-paying, but kind of beyond my qualifications, too, so I accepted the low pay in exchange for OTJ training.

My boss. Bless her heart, she has been so patient with me. She took me under her wing and has served as my accounting mentor for almost a year now. I know I've frustrated the fuck out of her on more than one occasion, and I've screwed up a few times so spectacularly that it had me in tears feeling like a giant fuckup. But still she puts up with me; still she sees my progress and my potential. 

All of that said, the firm is a startup still in its toddlerhood, and there's just not enough money or enough clients to give me the hours and pay that I need to make ends meet yet. In a few days I'm going to drain my savings account to pay the rent. I'm officially in crisis mode.

I can't leave that job. I just can't. It has way too much potential and I am lucky to have the job in the first place, considering my lack of accounting experience or even education beyond my own very simple personal finances. My boss is flexible in a way that accommodates my needs as a single mother (appointments, sickness, etc.). The environment is low stress (and the job is, too; maybe not for Boss Lady, but compared to the rest of my life it's like a day at the spa). This job is a really really really good fit for me, and has the very real potential for becoming a very lucrative career for me. Or if nothing else, a big fat pad for my resume, should shit hit the fan.

I spent several weeks searching job listings, trying to find another part-time job to help me make up one full-time income, but there was nothing that fit my needs (or desires). Nothing that was worth giving up what I have. 

So what's a mama to do? HUSTLE!

One thing I know I'm good at is starting a business. I did it by accident before and now I'm doing it on purpose, times two. I've decided to go full-force with not one but TWO side businesses that I've been dreaming of for over a decade, both of which I've attempted in the past, and both of which never went anywhere because I had five young children at home driving me crazy on the daily.

So I've opened a new Etsy shop to sell hand-knit wool diaper covers (something I have made 30+ of over the years cloth-diapering my children), and I'm working on breaking into the freelance writing world and monetizing my newest blog (this one, obvs. The other five or so are defunct and/or obsolete at this point!). Both ventures are risky. Both take a lot of work to get up and running, and to maintain in order to become profitable. But hey, I just finished a whole year of going to school full time while working part time AND mothering five children. I've got tons of time and energy on my hands now! (ha.ha.ha.)

No really. I have spent several weeks researching two different industries and making lists of shit I need to do, and (get this) DOING IT. I'm so proud of myself! That was the problem in the past with these dreams; when it came down to it, all the work that needed to be done in order to make it anything beyond a hobby was just too overwhelming and I would scrap the whole project. Well, it's amazing what a little bit (or a lot) of desperation will do for your motivation!

So here I am, flexing my writing muscles in between furiously knitting yet another adorable soaker while listening to how-to podcasts, and whoring my side gigs on Facebook. I'm sure I have months of uphill work ahead of me but dammit, I'm not giving up this time! Mama's got bills to pay!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Dealing With Loneliness by Taking Initiative

Single parenting can get verrry lonely. Even when surrounded by children, the lack of interaction with other adults can be so crazy-making! I use a mood tracker and one of the things I track is whether or not I get any substantial adult interaction on a given day. I've noticed a direct correlation between that and my mood -- if I don't get any, I feel melancholy. So obviously that had to become a priority!

Sometimes, however, life gets in the way. Most of my friends are other single moms with young children, who work and/or go to school, so coordinating schedules to spend time together can be a nightmare. Yes, there's Facebook and texting, but that's not quite the same as kicking back with a friend by your side and shooting the shit. Having another person nearby can be so soothing.

On my loneliest days, I've learned to reach out via text just to get some sort of interaction and remind me that I'm real (if that makes sense). Sometimes I'll text 5-6 different people, and sometimes no one texts back. That sucks, but I don't take it personally because people are busy! Especially my people. We are a busy bunch of bees.

Then of course in hindsight I'll think, hmmm, there are at least 5-6 other people I could have texted, but didn't think of it. Hell, I suppose there are about a hundred people I could text. You know how it is; sometimes you're not in the mood to talk to anyone but your very most inner circle -- the ones who know all the details of your current life, who you don't have to fill in with all kinds of shit before you can talk about what you want to talk about. When those folks aren't available, there doesn't seem to be any other option. So I sit. Sometimes I stare. I'm lonely and bored. Don't wanna do anything, even though my to-do list is a mile long and there are a million things I should be doing. I just can't. It's depression is what it is.

At my most recent therapy appointment (through my local domestic abuse network), my therapist asked me what brings me joy (we were talking about self care). At first I said, kind of wryly, "eating food," but then I quickly realized that wasn't real joy, that was an emotional response to the loneliness and discontent I have with my life. So I thought for a minute and then realized it's my people who bring me joy. So I told her, "hanging out with my friends." Once upon a time in my old life, hanging out with my friends, a tight-knit group of other SAHMs, was so frequent that between them and my full house, I didn't even know what loneliness was! It was how I survived. A tiny bit of "misery loves company" if you will. We were thick as thieves back then.

So I was given the assignment by my therapist to make getting together with friends a top priority again. You know how you can mean well, and then things just slip away, seemingly without you knowing it? Well that's what has happened. I know there are things I can do to be more social, but I just don't do them. I'm tired at the end of the day, I'm feeling introverted, no one is available (although I truly haven't asked everyone, it's just my social anxiety talking). And then there's the whole not feeling like it thing that happens when you make tentative plans and the day arrives and you clam up and want to hide. Welp, that attitude of "I don't wanna" has been hurting me.

I'm in a rough phase of my life, rebuilding after divorce (soooo sloooowly, but steadily nevertheless), and I need my people. No one can read my mind, and everyone is busy, so it's my responsibility to reach out and make sure I'm getting the interaction I need to feel like I have a place in this world beyond mother and breadwinner. And that interaction goes beyond a string of desperate text messages. It means interacting in person, or at least a good old fashioned phone call (or video chat!).

So once again I have resolved to be more social, for the sake of my mental wellness. I started by RSVP'ing YES to a party next weekend, and goddammit, I'm going to go!

How do you cope with loneliness? Let me know in the comments!