Empathy and Emotions 

Empathy and Emotions 

Listening is hard! Why would I want to listen to other people when I have so much to say?

I’m working on being more empathetic. It’s hard enough to understand my own emotions, let alone those of others.

Women have an advantage in this department. Ms. Coco is always talking about her feelings. I’m usually just trying to listen and not respond with something stupid or rude.

This is why she sometimes tells me “your not listening” or “why aren’t you listening to me?” I do hear the words coming out of her mouth. I just don’t always understand the underlying emotions that go along with the words.

So you might ask, what does this have to do with our monthly changes… nothing really. It’s just something I try to remind myself of sometimes.

So to recap the March changes.

Lent (give up alcohol and sugar) –  This went relatively well. I did end up drinking one beer and one shot during a basketball game with friends. The sugar thing, well the first week was a disaster! I have had much less sugar in my diet since then, but as I have found out, sugar is in everything!

Saving – This is where I exceeded my wildest expectations. I set a weekly budget.  I stayed under budget each week, and I ended up saving 20-30% of my budget each week. I did this by making cash only purchases. I had a envelopes system for my Food, Entertainment, and of course the Ms. Coco fund (which went mostly to ice from sonic, sour cream and cheddar chips, and Jones Blue Lemonade soda)!

This cash envelope system worked out really well. I did not feel restricted in what I could buy. Except for my daily coffee, that is going back into my budget. Grocery store sales and coupons helped a lot, in keeping me way under budget. Not drinking or buying junk food also contributed to keeping me well within budget.

So what am I doing with all my extra money? Well, I’m blowing it on a trip to….Cuba! Where I will hopefully be writing some posts and possibly doing a Podcast???

March Madness…from Ms. Coco

March Madness…from Ms. Coco

It is the final week of March Madness and if your bracket is still intact after the upsets of Wisconsin, Florida, Dook, and Kentucky losses then you must truly be a genie. I do believe the God knew what He was doing when he made the sky Carolina Blue (what a win over Kentucky; the Gentleman Farmer’s team and my employer)! As we all know what happens when the hometown loses (as I refer to Kentucky) we see that people have lots of emotions. The whole town of Lexington, and probably 90 percent of the state, will be feeling pretty sad about their loss for the next two weeks. I’ll try to hold it in while I go to work tomorrow.

With the craziness of March Madness also comes the craziness of other emotions. If I haven’t mentioned it previously, my love language is quality time. Specifically, I like to be heard when I am talking. And I have issues when I feel people aren’t listening to me, especially the Gentleman Farmer. We have discussed this on multiple occasions. Yet, I still feel slighted for not receiving confirmation or reactions to what I am saying. In this month of savings, I have not saved enough patience when being confronted with what I feel is a lack of understanding or engagement on his part. I feel twice as bad for not receiving what I need and then making him feel like he isn’t trying. One day we’ll get there….it just isn’t today…and probably won’t be tomorrow either. *shrug* I know myself to know that I need to continue to store up, or save, as much patience as he has with me. That cannot be an easy task.

We also are trying to do the hard work of training our new puppy, Bates, so that it will save us issues in the future. We are still planning our trip to Cuba and we will have to leave him with someone! His behavior has to be acceptable by that time! 🙂 I can tell you one thing, this is not for the faint of heart. He cries at night in his cage, uses the bathroom ALL over the house right after he’s taken a 20-minute walk, and he gets soooo dirty right after he gets a bath. But I wouldn’t trade him for any other puppy in the world. I just don’t remember my other dog, Puff, to be this rambunctious when he was a puppy. I think its so funny all dogs have their own little personalities. He’s exactly like the Gentleman Farmer. Haha!

Dollars And Cents

Dollars And Cents

I’ve never been much of a intentional saver. Saving money was just something I did and spending money was not something I always planned out. So this month has been all about trying to put effort into a system for saving both money and embarrassment.

I’ve also never been very good at thinking before I speak. I would more often than not just run my mouth unfiltered; this has on more than one occasion cause me serious problems. Making a system to prevent my own stupidity would undoubtedly be a challenge.

The system I set for my saving was a weekly and monthly budget. Cash envelopes would hold predetermined spending money for the week, when it ran out, that was it. Weekly spending broke down neatly into three categories Food, Entertainment, and money spent on Ms. Coco. All my other monthly expenses are consistent for the most part.

Mindfulness and apologizes are what I’m using to prevent myself from running my mouth. I’ve finally given in to the fact that I’m human and make mistakes; especially if hungry, sick, or sleepy. Since I’m usually in one of these moods most of the day, the lickleyhood of doing or saying something stupid is quite high most days. 

So far this month I’ve saved more than expected. Mindfulness is working sometimes. I’ve still found myself with my foot in my mouth plenty, that’s were my apologies come in, I’ve had to make a few of those!

I’ll Always Come Back To You…from Ms. Coco

I’ll Always Come Back To You…from Ms. Coco

March is here and you would think it’s the time for warmer weather. However, currently we are facing a cold storm as I type. If I was still teaching high school I would probably be praying for a two-hour delay…not a complete school closing. This way I’d still have my morning to myself and we wouldn’t have to make the day up. Instead of this prayer, today I find myself praying for my sisters (who are teachers in the county where I used to teach) and their students. The school district must face the issue of young people committing suicide in recent days. It makes me so sad to know exactly what the teachers are going through and to not be able to help them. I pray for my students (all of them known and unknown), my colleagues, the families, and the leaders of our community.

While thinking of the people I know who committed suicide I always wonder if I listen well enough. If I remember enough of the conversations I have with others so they know that I am invested in what they are saying. This is something that deeply impacts me because I know what it feels like to be ignored when talking of things that are important to me; that people don’t care enough to remember what I am discussing. I make it a point to try my best to recall the simplest of details because I want to make it clear that I am there in that space and moment. My boo thang says that it may not be a good idea to remember every detail. We are clearly on opposites sides of the field here. And not even on the opposite side of the field…I just want people to know what I’m talking about today if we had a related conversation on Saturday. I think he unconsciously thinks people won’t remember details and this is why he repeats so many to me…but like the Isley Brothers’ song Voyage to Atlantis says…I’ll always come back to you (The Gentleman Farmer). Even when I cannot remember the day-to-day details of our lives.

I think this also references my spending habits. I had a habit of buying clothes often. Not because I needed them but because I could. I grew up not being able to find clothing that fit me well. When I found the wonderful world of New York & Company (I was 20 I believe) it was instant chemistry between the store and myself. I loved their business attire that was somewhat fashionable. I especially LOVED their pants and jeans. For the first time in my entire life I found pants that fit me without altering. If you looked in my closet months ago I may have had 50 pair of dress pants. Even in the recent years their clothing has become even more my style and I have continued to buy excessively (I have 50+ dresses). I made a point to know when the sales were, how long they would occur, and what I wanted the most. I couldn’t miss it even if I tried. However, as the Gentleman Farmer and I have gotten to know each other so well he has rubbed off on me…which means my spending on things that aren’t a necessity has diminished greatly. I am focused on saving money for my retirement. I saw an article from CNBC  that stated a 30-year-old should have your yearly salary saved in retirement. I am far below that. So, I have focused on increasing my contribution to my accounts for this purpose.

Lent hasn’t been much of an issue, although I probably should have picked something more challenging. Something like soda (Jones’ Blue Lemonade is my ISH), potato chips (Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar) or something like that. I chose candy. I love candy but I don’t have to have it. Sonic is another situation. Maybe next year…haha.

 

Lent and Mojitos 

Lent and Mojitos 

When I was a young boy there was nothing better than a cold Ale 8 One on a hot summer day. I was usually pulling it out of an old cooler, perched on the bed of an old pickup truck, parked on the edge of a tobacco field. 

I remember the heat in Kentucky in August. Really it’s the humidity, like sitting under a wet wool blanket, in a sauna. 

We would have to top tobacco all day long, from dawn till after dusk, even by light of the old trucks headlights if need be. We would then cut it, spear it, and let it weather in the fields before housing it in the barns for stripping later in the coldest days of winter.

Working in the fields with tobacco was hot sweaty work. Your only breaks were to drink a soda, eating lunch, and smoking a cigarette, which most guys did while working anyway. I didn’t smoke as a child, luckily, so sodas and lunch were my only rest on these hot days.

I’m older now and I still enjoy a good Ale 8 One usually with some bourbon whiskey. I don’t have to work in the tobacco fields anymore, so I have to watch what I eat. 

I’m giving up sugar and achohol for my Lent challenge this year. I’m hoping that this will make sipping Mojitos in Cuba that much sweeter. Right now I can’t stop thinking about haveing a bourbon with a splash of Ale 8 One.