On top of it all, we've been working on our 10 year plan, as well as plans for the house for this year. So I've been forecasting our budget for the next few years to see what our progress towards our goals both in the short and long term will look like.
A few hours with the budget can make me a little depressed. Not because we don't have enough - we do. We want for nothing. But our goals are aggressive, and plentiful. It can be overwhelming to determine what to focus on.
When I reach the point that my coping mechanism is overflowing, I typically just shut down and take a day to myself one weekend. Relax, nap, cook, write. But this time, even that wasn't working - my to-do list for the quiet days just kept growing, and my stress level, along with my ability to get a restful night of sleep because of the stress, just kept me spinning a few thousand RPMs too high. And then I started getting sick for the third time this winter - enough was enough.
I've been here before. When I was young and in debt, and barely making ends meet, I spent much of my time feeling like this.
So this time, I had to take action. I had a deadline reprieve at work which allowed me to slow down my schedule. I still have some aggressive schedules ahead of me, but not quite so drastic as before.
Knowing what you need to be at your best is tough. For me, it's a healthy diet, exercise, and time at home with my spouse, as well as time with family and friends. It's also important to me to eliminate chaos and clutter - I feel better when the house is clean and the stacks of stuff aren't breeding in the corners.
So I started tackling each of the things that make me feel better. I went to the gym, and I ran and lifted weights. Getting myself back into the routine feels nothing if not good.
I cooked. A bunch. I made a menu plan, I packed lunches, and I filled in the holes in our freezer and pantry.
I reconnected with my husband over some lovely meals and a few bottles of wine (not all at the same sitting). Just hanging out and talking makes us feel better.
I started cleaning. Piles of laundry got put away, junk mail shredded, the 'to be ironed' pile steadily decreased, and I even tackled a couple of the last 15 or so boxes of things that have been hanging around waiting to be unpacked since we moved.
I planted my seedlings. Watching them grow, watering them, transplanting them, plotting the garden - it makes me feel connected to my home and the earth. This will be our first true garden at our new home, since last year we only managed to plant some asparagus and a few raspberry bushes. I cannot wait.
And then I spent time with the most important people in my life - parents, siblings and their spouses, and my 7 nieces and nephews. Especially the nieces and nephews. When my two-year old nephew looks up at me over the picture he is coloring and says 'I love you. I do.' , while gazing at me as though nothing else could be as significant to him as that (and having the green chalk to color with), it is more important than any goal I could set.
Oddly, as a result, our goals started feeling less overwhelming. I started feeling more financially in balance. I know that sounds odd - that by cleaning the house, running some errands, exercising, planting some seeds and spending some time hanging out with my nephews and nieces it made our financial situation better. I went back through the budget and 'found' some options. I counted my blessings.
Getting me focused on the important stuff did make our financial picture a happier one - or at least it made my perception of it better. I feel renewed, refreshed and up to a challenge of meeting our goals over the next few years.
When I feel in balance, all the other parts of my life, including the money part, feel balance. When I feel out of balance, my finances feel it too. I spend mindlessly. I go over budget. I get frustrated easily.
We all get out of balance sometimes. You decide to look your debt full in the face, and then get overwhelmed by how long it will take to dig out, and wish you had never looked. You focus on work or something else to the exclusion of all the other important things for a little too long. It happens.
When it does, recognize it, and take some steps to make yourself feel better. Get up and go for a walk on the beach at sunrise. Have your spouse watch the kids so that you can go get a cup of coffee - all alone - for an hour. Go for a run. Make some brownies.
Whatever it is, do it for yourself. You are worth it.
And so am I. Now excuse me, I have a nap to take.