10 Take-Aways from Speed Mentoring Event

What it's like being on furlough (1)

I felt anxious and unsure when I was invited to attend a speed-mentoring event at work last week.  Yes, an opportunity to sit down with my agency’s leaders sounds great, but the thought of saying something stupid…or not saying anything at all…made my pressure rise.  Is this going to feel like an interview?  EEEK!

The large conference room was set up with four tables.  At each table was a senior leader at my agency and four mentees.  Each leader had a topic that they’d speak about to their mentee group for 15 minutes, and then we’d then have five minutes for Q&A and discussion.  After time was up, the mentees would rotate to the next leader.  The four topics were:

  • Self-Marketing:  How do I (the employee) make myself known without being annoying?
  • Innovation & Technology:  Where is the agency heading and how do I (the employee) fit in?
  • Political Savvy: How do I negotiate with senior leadership?
  • A Picture of Success: What does it take to move up the ranks, and what strategies are needed to overcome challenges along the way?

I made some notes and prepared some questions in advance, just in case nothing came to mind as the sessions were going on.  I prefer a more organic conversation, so I was a little nervous because I knew my questions sounded canned and prepped.  But that’s better than having nothing and risking brain freeze in the face of leadership.

The event went so much better than I expected.  The conversation flowed effortlessly, the topics were really interesting, and I actually had to force myself not to interrupt other mentees in my group when they asked their questions.  I struggled between furiously taking notes because so much good advice was given, and trying to listen and converse with the group.

So here are my top ten take-aways from the speed mentoring event:

  1. Order business cards ASAP.
  2. Make yourself both visible and vital to leadership.
  3. Say something in every meeting, and have an interest in what you say or ask.
  4. Attend social events, brown bags, or workgroup presentations.
  5. Say thank you if your supervisor approves training, and then follow up after the training to say what you learned from the course.
  6. Push yourself to talk to people you know by sight but have never spoken to.
  7. Understand how your organization operates and how decisions are made.
  8. Take note of who sits where in meetings and who speaks up first.  Also note if your manager or leader looks to someone else for input when questions are asked of him/her.
  9. Identify parts of your job that can lead to an innovative solution.  Tasks that take up a huge amount of time and have a lot of repetition may be able to be automated.
  10. Take time to master emotional intelligence and self awareness.

If you have an opportunity to attend events like this at your organization, I strongly encourage you to attend, even if you are happy with where you are, you don’t see the immediate benefit, or if you are a bag of nerves.  The tips and strategies discussed in this event helped put me in front of leaders I may not otherwise have had exposure to, and also gave me food for thought for my own personal aspirations, both in and out of the workplace.

Have you ever done anything like this?  What did you take away from the experience?

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My DC Staycation

DC trip 2 (4)I love a local getaway, or as some call it, a staycation.  I’m the queen of renting a hotel room, and acting like I’m on a legit vacation, regardless of whether I caught a plane or took a 20 minute car ride to get there.  Mentally escaping my day-to-day routine does not necessarily require taking leave from work or taking a flight.  So for Valentine’s day, my boyfriend and I decided to do an over-nighter in DC this past weekend.

I worked in DC for over 20 years, but that feels like a million years ago.  I’m no longer working in the nation’s capital, and now that I’m co-habitating, I live over an hour away from the city.  So going back to DC felt like a chance to revisit my old stomping grounds and it was also an opportunity to see what’s new since I was last there.

I don’t like to rip and run on vacation…or staycation.  My requirements for a trip or a staycation to be successful are pretty easily attainable.  I like to find a nice bar and a place to listen to music, I like a few nice photo opps, and maybe a cute store to buy a trinket.  If I can do those things, that’s a staycation well-done, in my world at least.

Staying one night in DC is hardly enough time to explore all of the new areas, such as the Wharf or Center City.  It really didn’t give us time to visit monuments or check out museums.  So what the heck did we do???

So here’s what I did.  I reserved a cute hotel for a rate that I thought was reasonable, packed my bags, and showed up there.  That’s about all the up-front planning that I did.  My thought was…there are bars and restaurants and cool spots throughout the whole city.  Once I get to the hotel, we can walk a few blocks and see what pulls us in.  Did that idea work?  Sorta.  Here’s how the overnighter played out.

Arrived at hotel:  Traffic from Baltimore County into DC made me realize that I don’t miss working in the city.  I chose the Kimpton Hotel Rouge in Dupont.  Kimpton hotels are always nice, and this one had saucy red lacquer and leather decor that felt very Valentine-y.  So I was super excited.  The rate was ok ($128), but there were so many additional fees that it irked me.  $19 taxes, $25 amenity fee, and $4 amenity fee tax…even the fees have their own taxes…what???  I was also concerned about the parking.  The hotel offered valet for $47—UGH! —plus $9 parking tax (are you kidding me!?!).  There were no garages in the near vicinity that proved to be a better deal.  And the only thing worse than DC street parking is DC street parking overnight.  The confusing signage just made my nerves bad.  So we opted for the valet.  This worked well convenience-wise,  but the price was steep and the tax on the steep price was just irritating.  This is definitely one part of being in the city that I do not miss at all.

Found a great restaurant:  After eenie-meenie-miney-moe to figure out which direction to head…we opted to walk towards Dupont Circle in search of a place for lunch.  After reading a few menus, we decided on a place called Magnolia Kitchen & Bar.  Affordable prices, a nice drink menu, and chic decor appealed to all of our senses.  Add an attentive staff, a perfect playlist and great food, and we loved this place.  I even pulled the manager aside and told him as much.

Stumbled into a beer garden:  OK, this was a complete accident.  While walking back to the hotel, I had to use the bathroom super, super bad.  I saw a bouncer and an open door and decided this was a good place to find a restroom.  We hiked a million stairs to the roof and found the PACKED Sauf Haus Bier Hall, where we were pretty certain we were the oldest people in the place.  After standing in line at the bathroom, we actually decided to stay for a drink.  Despite the fact that I HATE packed places and that it felt like I was at a frat house day party, we actually had a blast.  One drink transitioned into a dance…and then another drink and more dancing.  The dj was clearly more our age because I swear every song took me back to either high school or college.

Had free happy hour at the hotel:  We pulled ourselves out of the beer hall and headed back to the hotel for their free happy hour.  The selection wasn’t extensive, but we enjoyed a few glasses of free wine, and that was perfect for us.  They also had a hot cider with bourbon.  What more can you ask for for free??

Went to U Street for live music and dinner:  This is where the decision to wing it fell apart.  My coworker recommended Jojo DC, and raved about the food and live music, so this was one place I knew I would try on our trip.  And this was the one thing that didn’t quite pan out.  It didn’t occur to me to make a reservation, and since we went relatively early in the evening, I figured we’d have no issues with getting a table.  WRONG…so wrong.  It was standing room only at the bar, and none of the smart people who made reservations flaked.  So we never got a table and eventually left.

Had brunch before we left:  We did quite a bit of drinking on Saturday, so naturally the first thing on our minds on Sunday was food.  We decided to go to Commissary DC, which was only a few blocks away.  But I learned from my lesson the previous night, and this time I called to make a brunch reservation.  Good thing, because it was packed when we got there, and there was a long wait without a reservation.  The food was delicious!  The staff worked as a perfect team, and the ambiance was perfect and eclectic.

Even with the things that didn’t pan out, we had a great time.  Lots of laughs and dancing and snuggles…it made for a great V-day date and we’d probably do it the exact same way the next time.

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Five Things About Me

5 things about me

One of the issues I have whenever I try to start a blog is that I am not great at talking a lot about myself.  They say one of the keys to a good blog is the ability to be open and transparent, and that is really really hard for me.  (Does admitting that make me transparent??)

Well…in the spirit of attempting to be open, or at least on the road to openness, here are five things about me.  Probably not the most interesting of facts, but hopefully over time, I’ll get better at being an open book.

1)  I grew up in Charles County, Maryland.  This is why I have such a love of small towns and back roads.  I often look for the less-traveled route even if it is longer because I hate traffic and love the scenery.

2)  I am a cat mama.  My baby boy is about a 100 in cat years…if that’s such a thing…and 18 in human years.  I have owned him for 12 of those years and got him from a super sweet girl on craigslist when I was going through a break-up.  He’s my first pet, aside from a short stint with a goldfish when I was about five.   Since he’s been in my life, my cat Blake has been the most amazing, snobby, nonchalant, lazy, funny companion I could ever imagine.

3)  I have a boyfriend that I’ve been with for two years.  That in itself is a miracle.  But in addition to this, we have recently started co-habitating.  Also a miracle.  We are both in our 40s, and both are fairly set in our ways, so this merger has been quite an interesting yet rewarding challenge.

4)  I’m a cover band groupie.  If I walk into a bar and there’s a singer with a guitar, I’m planting myself right in front of them for the night.  Be it a solo act or a five-piece band, I will become your biggest fan in a matter of seconds if you play a few songs I know.  My boyfriend says musicians love me because I have no issue with being the only person dancing in a bar full of people.  My favorite cover band is called Lost in Paris, a band out of Philadelphia…but there are quite a few others that get honorable mention… 3AM Tokyo from Southern Maryland, Here’s to the Night out of the Baltimore area, and The Rockets also out of Philly.  If you see any of them on the schedule of your local bar or upcoming festival, check them out!

5)  I love being a local explorer.  Finding events and shops around town is one of my favorite things to do. DIY classes, festivals, expos, meetups, paint nights…those are my jam!  Why drive an hour away, or go all the way into the city, for something that I can do much closer to home?  That’s what prompted me to start this blog.  I figured I’d document some of my local shenannigans and discoveries and share them with the world.  LOL.

With that said…be on the lookout!  And if you’re in Maryland, please follow me on instagram @justa_mdgirl.

What are you up to this weekend?  And also, if you have any ideas for how to handle being transparent and open as a blogger, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Have a wonderful weekend yall!

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Five things I accomplished this week

Accomplished

Sometimes it’s easy to go through your week and not realize the small steps you take to get sh*t done.  In today’s climate of being busy and constantly being distracted, accomplishing even the smallest, most mundane tasks are worth noting.  Here are the five things I accomplished this week that I’m excited about…and trust me…none of them are really all that exciting.  But I’m glad that I got them accomplished.

1. Returned to work. After the 35-day government shutdown, it was nice being back in the office.  It was also quite an adjustment.  Remembering passwords, and figuring out where I left off before the holidays was a challenge.  But I’m back in stride and it feels good!

2. Reactivated Qapital and Acorns apps. Because I was on furlough, I stopped using these apps while I wasn’t receiving pay. If you do not use these, I highly recommend them.

Here’s a quick summary on both apps…

Qapital is an app that’s perfect for those of us that have money that they SHOULD set aside for a rainy day, but don’t do it.  Or for those of us that want to accomplish goals, make purchases, or take trips, but swear we don’t have the money to do so.  You link this app to your banking account, set up goals, and determine the way you want Qapital to set aside your funds.  You will be surprised how quickly a few dollars each week adds up.  I have some goals where I set aside a set amount every week and I have some that I set aside using other factors.  It’s up to you how you do it.  Withdrawing the money is really simple, and takes about two days for the money to be deposited into your bank account.  This has come in handy for emergencies.  It also came in handy when I wanted to go on a trip and happened to have enough money set aside in Qapital that I didn’t have to use money in my bank account or a credit card.  Or when my car needed work done, and I had the funds right there to use.

Acorns is similar to Qapital, but this app is a tool for investing.  You link the app to your bank account, set up rules (round up to the nearest dollar when you make purchases, set aside certain amounts per week, etc.), determine an investment strategy, and watch your money at work!

3. Purchased new jeans and boots.  I’ve been eyeballing  them but couldn’t justify buying while I was on furlough. Sometimes you have to treat yourself, right??

4. Logged in my first flex account reimbursement receipt for medical expenses. Does your employer offer a flexible spending account benefit for things such as childcare or medical expenses?  If so, I hope you are taking advantage of them.  One of my biggest challenges is logging in my receipts before I lose them.  Somehow, taking a picture, emailing the picture to myself, retrieving the picture from email, logging into the website, creating the claim, etc. was just all too much for me.  I missed out on a lot of potential reimbursements because I didn’t quite have my sh*t together.  To remedy that, I downloaded the new app they use for submitting claims and immediately submitted a claim for a prescription the day I got it.  I am determined to do this going forward.

5. Set up an Instagram page for my blog. Follow me @justa_mdgirl!

I hope your week was productive.  And if not, there’s always next week!  What did you accomplish this week?

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Why The Annual “State of My Finances” Is Important

state of finances 2

Money, money, money money….MONEY!!!  Some people got to have it, some people really need it…and some have no idea whether they have it or they need it because they don’t take the time to review their books.  “What books??” You ask.  Well, whether it’s a book or a spreadsheet or an app on your phone, I’m talking about your finances.

Every year kinda goes the same way when it comes to my finances.  I have a pretty strong start with being disciplined and focused, then I eventually lose focus but somehow the bills still get paid, and by the end of the year, things get pretty loosey goosey.  I am not aware of balances, I stop telling myself “no” to purchases as much as I should, I start becoming really focused on when I get paid again, and the paycheck-to-paycheck mentality kicks in a bit.  Then January rolls around and I force myself to get reacquainted with my finances, and I become focused and disciplined all over again.

So…here we are…it’s January and it’s time to know what’s happening with my finances.  It’s time to regain control, see the big picture, know my numbers and dates, and make the promise to myself to be more fiscally responsible than I was last year.

Where to begin:  I have a spreadsheet which has been my trusty companion for the last five years or so.  I use it to track account balances, financial obligations, and monthly payments.  So I pulled that out and got to work.  I went account by account, checked balances and limits, minimum payments, and due dates.  One page of the spreadsheet contains every debt that I owe for every monthly payment I make.  It has the date that those payments are due each month, the current balance of that account, the limit for that account, and the method which I make my monthly payments.  I update it for any new accounts and delete any old accounts that no longer apply.  I sum this all up and I see where I stand from a total debt perspective.  Then I compare that amount to the debt reported on my freecreditreport.com report.  (Side note:  Freecreditreport.com is a very useful tool. I highly recommend this or some type of credit monitoring service.)

So here’s the spreadsheet template that I use.

budgetspreadsheetcapture2

After I’ve updated all the accounts on my current payment roster, I go to my other sheet that lays out my monthly perspective.  I put in my paycheck dates for the year, the amount of each paycheck, and the bills that I pay each month.  This is where I track each time I get a paycheck, and each time I actually make a payment towards my bills.  This is also where I become a little lazy because most of my payments are set to be automatically paid.  I like that these payments occur behind the scenes and that I do not have to monitor them on a daily basis.  I feel like I should stay on top of my monthly payments, but because God invented autopay, I just don’t have the need to monitor it super close.

budgetspreadsheetcapture

So…between these two spreadsheets, this is how I go about performing my “State of My Finances” review.

Upon completing my review, here’s what I found out— I kicked ASS this year financially!  GO ME!  1) I paid off all credit card accounts except one that I use for vacations and such.  2) My credit score has gone up, up, up despite purchasing a vehicle last year! 3) My monthly utility, cell phone, cable, etc. have all been kept at a satisfactory level.  4) I am spending significantly less than I make.  5) And I have a much healthier surplus at the end of each month.  YES!  This is what it’s all about!

Doing an annual “State of Your Finances” is an absolute MUST for everyone, and here’s why:

You know where you stand:  Every adult should know who they owe, how much they owe, and when they owe it.  You need to know whether you need to make changes or stay the course.  You need to know whether you can withstand a financial crisis or an unexpected life change.  While credit reports are a great way to know this information, sometimes they are wrong.  If you haven’t done your own work, you may not realize there are errors, and that can hurt you in the long run.  A good example for me is, when I was furloughed for 35 days, and missed nearly three paychecks, my boyfriend was actually surprised that I wasn’t a big ball of stress.  That’s because I knew I had savings, I knew I had credit cards that weren’t maxed out, and I knew what sat in my bank account.  Granted, it wasn’t a great time, I definitely avoided Target like the plague…but I was able to survive it unscathed.

Knowing your financial status is empowering:  Every year when I do my self-audit, I come out of the experience feeling better.  When they say knowing is half the battle, that’s legit.  You feel empowered to do better, to plot a course, to move to the next step.  Or you feel validated in the way you spent money in the previous year.  Even in the years when I realize my financial situation was not great, when I was completely under water and overwhelmed, I still completed my finance-check feeling better.  I’d rather know than not know.  Knowing your starting point helps you determine your goals.  Just because things aren’t great doesn’t mean you can’t improve and get to where you want to be.  Trust me.  I know first-hand, and maybe one day I’ll write about my journey to this point.

Not knowing is stressful:  Flying blindly is a bad idea.  Not knowing whether you are close to financial ruin or well on your way to financial freedom can cause stress.  Playing fast and loose with your finances is never a good thing.  Getting to a checkout line and not knowing whether you have $500 or $5 in your account is not cute.  Going to dinner with your girls, and having your stomach in knots because you don’t know what the waiter is going to say when he brings your card back…is a horrible position to be in.  Remove one source of stress from your life.  Know for sure what’s going on.  Either way, the money is either in your account or it isn’t.  Don’t add to the stress by putting yourself in embarrassing situations just because you don’t want to know your truth.

You can set the course and let go of the wheel:  What I’ve learned is that by going over my bills and payments in the beginning of the year, I actually figure out what my plan is for the year, set everything up, and then I don’t think about it.  I just let the auto-pay magic happen.  Because I know that I’m not the greatest at being disciplined, I set myself up for success from the beginning and then I don’t worry about it.  Over the course of the last few years, I always dread this audit, and then realize things are better than where I started.  But that’s because I’ve set payments up, I’ve updated when things get allocated based on my pay dates for the year, so I don’t have to constantly monitor and look at things in order for them to get done.  Lay out your plan and let it go to work!

You can take advantage of opportunities: Whether it’s planning a trip you swore you didn’t have enough money for, or increasing your contributions to your 401k, knowing definitively where you stand with your finances opens the door to more opportunities.  For me, if I have money sitting in the bank, that’s money available for me to spend.  But instead, if I allocate it before I see it, then it’s helping me accomplish a goal.  I know I’d much rather accomplish a goal than purchase yet another pair of jeans.  Let your money help you experience life to its fullest.  Don’t let it be the reason you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.  I’ve been there–it’s horrible.

Start your year off right.  Don’t hesitate!  Know where you stand financially and set yourself up to be in a better position when you review your finances next year.  I know you can do it!

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Ideas for Handbag Organization

handbag organization

If you’re like me, you have a lot of purses.  A. LOT.  Despite my best efforts to purge and consolidate and minimize, I still have quite a few handbags remaining.  This wasn’t so much of an issue when I lived alone.  But now that I live with my boyfriend, I have to reign this in a little bit.  Apparently there’s no room for my handbag dresser, and having them strewn about the home is a no-go.  Fine.

Before I moved in, I trimmed down my purse collection, and now I have them all isolated to a corner of my closet, piled high.  Real high.  It isn’t functional and definitely isn’t pretty.  I find that I kinda just leave the last one I used on top, so it gets easy to forget about the poor ones on the bottom.  Some may ask…”well, doesn’t that mean you should get rid of the ones on the bottom?”  Of course not!  That’s definitely not logic that I’m going to follow, primarily because…I don’t want to.

So…in my quest to come up with ideas for storing my handbags in the space I’ve been allotted, I rounded up a few ideas from around the web that I thought were cute, functional, affordable, and relatively easy to implement.

 

Depending on your particular situation, one idea may work better than another.  For now, I should probably get to measuring and assessing to see which one will work for me.

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DIY Cake Stands

diy cake stands

I served as my agency’s campaign manager for our annual charity drive.  It was a big task, and one with high visibility at my job.  As you can imagine, there were some obstacles to the position, but I was honored to step up to the challenge.

One of our awareness events was a sweets tasting.  My fellow colleagues kindly stepped up to volunteer to bake and donate various sweets for the event, and I did the coordination and decor for the employee lounge.  While expectations are low for meetings and such at my particular agency, the fun and creative side of me wanted to “juj” it up a little bit.  I wanted banners and balloon clusters and tissue paper pom-poms.  And  I wanted cake stands and doilies for every item.  This is where I had to think outside the box a little bit.

My role as campaign manager did not come with a budget.  Everything was either donated or out of pocket.  With 20 people donating baked goods, it was not reasonable for me to spend $10-$15 each on 20 cake stands.  Think woman, think!  To the Google!

After some research on google and pinterest, I laid out my plan.  I saw DIY cake stands using affordable items, and decided to try using plates and candle holders from the dollar store.  So this is what I did.

Materials:

  • candle holders
  • plates
  • gorilla glue

Here are the items I used, all purchased from my local Dollar Tree store (except the Gorilla Glue):

img_20181125_160333

{glass candle holder}

img_20181125_160316

{glass plates}

img_20181125_160408

{grey geometric candle  holder}

img_20181125_160353

{grey ceramic plate}

img_20181125_160425

{gorilla glue}

Instructions: 

  • Dot the gorilla glue onto the top of the candle holders.  This doesn’t need to be excessive.

 

  • Press the glued side of the candle holder onto the bottom of the plates and hold in place according to the instructions on the glue bottle

 

  • Let the stands cure overnight upside down

img_20181125_162237

 

Here are my finished stands.  They totally looked awesome when I put doilies on top and delicious sweet treats on them for the event!

IMG_20181126_124133.jpg

I was ecstatic that I was able to execute my vision without breaking my bank!  And I got so many compliments on the presentation!  I wish I took better pics (bad blogger!!!)  In full disclosure, the glass stands made it exactly the length of the event before they toppled.  I’m not sure if they became unstable during the travel to the event or what.  The grey ones lasted and are still in tact months later.  So you may want to consider the fragility of the items that you select for your stand.  I could not have been happier with the outcome.

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What it’s like being on furlough

what it's like being on furlough

Shutdown 2018 is trending everywhere and is on every news outlet.  It’s a pretty big deal and has the potential to impact almost everyone in one way or another.  From visiting national parks to filing your taxes to catching a flight, in some way your life could possibly be touched.  While you may feel one way or another about the circumstances surrounding the current shutdown, which is now on its 24th day with no end in sight, the reality is that there are real-world consequences to this whole ordeal.

Living in the region that surrounds the nation’s capital, the impact of a government shutdown is a little more prominent than regions outside of this political hotbed.  With the current shutdown impacting 800,000 workers total, about half of those workers are located in the DC metro area.  It is the livelihood of this region.  It is hard to find a household that doesn’t contain someone that works for the government, or that doesn’t contain someone who is a contractor for the government.  Nearly every business in this region relies on government employees buying their products or services.  Restaurants rely on patrons that are government employees.  Caregivers provide services to children of government employees.  Even ride-share providers such as Uber and Lyft rely on the comings and goings of government employees in this area for income.  In short, when the government shuts down, this region suffers.  Money is not flowing, inventories are not being purchased, services are not being contracted.  It literally takes food off the table of a majority of households in this region.  And with this particular shutdown overlapping the Christmas holiday, a time when people go above and beyond their normal spending, a major employer shutting down is huge.

I’ve been a humble civil servant for 13 years now.  Prior to federal service, I worked for huge multinational businesses.  But I was always told by family and friends that true job security happens when you work for the government.  Known for its stable work structure and great benefits, those that work for the government tend to retire from the government.  For most, the stability is the biggest selling point for becoming a federal employee.  It was for me.  I was in a place where I wanted to think about my long term future, I wanted to feel like I was doing something useful for my fellow citizens, and I wanted the stability that came with a job with the government.  And in my 13 years as a civil servant, I’ve had two second significant shutdowns (the first being in 2013 and lasted for 17 days), the second happened so quickly that we only missed a day’s work, and this one is my third.  In addition, there have been too many to count shutdown threats.  I never had anything like this in private industry.

So on behalf of those 800,000 workers dealing with this situation, and waiting to know when and if they will return to work, let me explain what it’s like being on furlough.

Mild.  Initially.  The shutdown came as people were preparing for the holidays, doing last minute shopping, ripping and running to various events and parties, and traveling to their holiday destinations.  What better time for your office to close for a couple days?  The assumption was that come the new year, this would all be sorted out in time to jump back into work as scheduled.

Uncertain.  It began to become obvious that this shutdown had the potential to not see a quick resolution.  And then the real-world issues started coming to mind.  When and if I will receive another pay check, how far will those funds last me, do I have savings to last a while, what bills are due, how much money is available to spend on groceries and gas, how long do I have to prepare for?

Confused.  As you start weighing out the few options you have in front of you, you don’t know whether to hold your position and do nothing; file for unemployment knowing the consequences; or potentially be late with paying bills and deal with the dominoes that fall from making that decision.  It became imperative to start mapping out a few possible plans for money in the near future.

Worried.  I don’t want to say I am not feeling the stress of the shutdown, but I will say that I am fortunate to co-habitate with someone that’s not a government employee, and that my only dependent is my aging, ornery cat.  However, we are, at the moment, paying for two households, and our finances are kept separately, so any money that I may need will have to be asked for and paid back (my preference, not his).  While spending habits may have to be adjusted for the home, I am not likely to go hungry or homeless.  But…for those that live in single-income households, that have children, that take care of parents, that are dealing with a less than ideal situation, and that money paid on time every time, is imperative to their day-to-day survival, this situation is dire.  If you miss one check, you may be able to hold off a landlord or creditor for a little while.  You may be able to use gift cards from the holidays or tighten up the food budget to make ends meet for a little while. You can put yourself in a no-spend status for a few weeks and hope it ends quickly.  But that may not work for all situations because a lot of bills just do not work like that, and that’s worrisome.

Heartbroken. For those that are required to report to work with no pay, my heart truly breaks.  Commuting to work takes money, cleaning uniforms takes money, parking your car, catching a train, riding a bus…all takes money.  Paying for childcare while you’re at work takes money.  And for some, the ability to get to a job and work it, while getting paid nothing in return…is not only wrong, impossible, and f*^$’d up, it’s demoralizing and hurtful.  It’s causing people to call out sick, leaving their fellow employees overworked and vulnerable, which in turn puts the public at risk.  Workers ranging from prison guards to TSA workers, calling out sick because it’s too costly or too demoralizing to come to work, thus putting the other safety officers at risk because they are understaffed, or putting the public at risk because something slides through undetected.  Words like “involuntary servitude” are being used and that’s essentially what it amounts to.  It’s just heartbreaking to think about all of the people that are suffering or the people that could potentially be harmed.

Stressed.  As February 1st approaches, issues such as healthcare start coming into play.  With no paychecks, health insurance eventually will stop getting paid, and with no pay coming in, furloughed employees may be unable to pay their own premiums out of pocket.  Sickness and injury happens all day every day, and potential lack of healthcare leaves furloughed workers and their families vulnerable to risks.  In addition, February 1st will mark a month without pay, and the point where credit scores may start being effected, landlords may be unforgiving, and the pantry may start getting more and more bare.  All of that is scary and stressful beyond words.

Infuriated.  You feel like a pawn in a game that you have no control over.  You feel like people do not truly care about you, your family, your friends, or your livelihood.  All they care about are pride issues…winning, losing, saving face, how they are perceived, getting jabs in, media time, etc.  Meanwhile your family, friends, and neighbors are suffering in very real ways.

Hopeless.  The sides that control your situation are dug in.  Neither wants to budge.  Neither wants to listen.  And each day, it seems like they get more set on staying that way.  It feels out of your control, and it quite frankly, feels hopeless.

I do honestly feel like EVENTUALLY this situation will be resolved and things will get back on track.  I never thought I’d be at almost the month mark without knowing how long it will go on.  This has given me some time to do some things around the house (purge anyone??), and do some writing, which I feel like I never have time for.  But I’d love to put some of the emotions mentioned above to bed, and get back to work.

tata for now -m- (2)