full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

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listen to your instincts

I bought these sandals five years ago in Athens and wore them for the first time yesterday for all of three minutes. They are the worst pair of sandals I have ever bought. In. My Life. They are promptly going in the donation bin. But here’s the story behind them:

After lunch, I went to find The Poet. He is a famous, published poet – his works have been translated into English, French, German, and Italian. His best known work, The Rubaiyat (a tribute to wine and life), is on the curriculum of a number of American universities. His day job? He makes sandals! His name is Stavros Melissinos, and he’s touched the feet of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, Rudolph Nureyev, Anthony Quinn, George Pappard, Gary Cooper, as he fitted them for his sandals which are based on ancient Greek designs and are as famous as his poetry. He is actually retired now, but his son Pantelis, also a poet, runs the family business now. I hadn’t intended on buying any sandals, but I was caught up in the experience of being in his presence.

(Excerpt from my travel blog from Athens.)

DSC_2871 DSC_2872

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shopaholics anonymous

I’m in debt. Like a lot. Like I should be going to a credit counsellor. But what is he going to tell me that I don’t already know? Stop spending money.

It wasn’t always like this. When I went back to Australia for my 30th birthday, I spent $3,000 on shopping {ok, maybe it was always like this…?}. But that’s not the point of this anecdote. When I returned, I was fired from my job {that’s another story}. I had no savings and a humungo credit card bill to pay off. Hashtag panic! Hashtag anxiety! I promised myself I would never be in that type of situation ever again.

And that was when I started building my emergency fund. The famous financial experts advise you to save at least three months’ salary for your emergency fund. For me, at the time, that would have been $8,500. Also recommended by financial advisors was to set up a certain percentage of your salary to be automatically deposited into your savings account. So, that’s what I did. I started with 5% {I had found a new job within a week} and never touched that account.

It took me nearly five years, but I had managed to save $10,000. What a financial accomplishment! What a financial RELIEF! But that same year, due to an unforeseen rental apartment incident, I took all of it {and every other penny I had} and put it towards a down payment on my first condo.

And that was the beginning of the end.

I already had my birthday trip to Greece booked and didn’t take possession until three days before I left, so I had to pay my last rent and first mortgage for the same month. After that, I just couldn’t keep up with the additional expenses—my mortgage plus strata fees plus property tax was double what I had paid in rent. I could feel myself going under and was sure I would drown any day. Hashtag anxiety. Hashtag desperate.

One of my favorite books was Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the movie had just come out. The main character ends up at a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. I thought, well, if they have it in the movie, surely, they must have one in real life? Right?

So, one night, I googled “shopaholics anonymous” and found a meeting called Debtors Anonymous. Ah! So, that’s what they’re called in real life!

I started going to the DA meetings in 2010, a few months after I moved into my new place. In the first meeting, I cried while explaining my situation. But I felt relief in being able to share the seriousness with kind people who had or were going through exactly what I was going through. I felt comfort and hope. The meetings also kept my money issues at the top of my mind, which made me reassess the need for purchases before making them. The meetings were on Friday nights in my neighbourhood, and I looked forward to connecting with the others who attended.

But then my now ex-friend started asking me to go for a drink after work every Friday. Being social was a strategic part of my life given my history with depression. On most nights, I thought I would finish in time to go to the DA meetings. But, that never happened. And eventually, I stopped going completely.

That’s when my debt got worse.

641-01517495Being unhappy at work, I decided to go back to school and take an animal welfare certificate program and a community engagement certificate program. The latter alone was nearly $5,000. And then there was my weakness for retail therapy. And then for kitty health reasons, I had to switch my four cats to very expensive vet food. I put everything on credit because I didn’t have any cash as I could barely keep up with my condo expenses—they sucked up one entire paycheque. My credit card was going to be maxed out soon. My credit line, which had helped me consolidate some previous debt, was also maxed out. So, what’s the sensible thing to do? I increased my credit card limit and got a travel credit card. I figured the travel card would help me pay for three trips planned over the next two years. But it was supposed to be pay as I go. Very quickly {how the hell did it happen?}, I started losing the battle, and the credit on that card, too, started piling up. But that’s not even the latest. Last week, I booked an expensive trip to California due to family pressure. The new card is almost maxed out.

I have wanted to go back to the DA meetings for a year. I even put it in my calendar last year, so I would be reminded to go. But I never do. I’m embarrassed. I’m sooo embarrassed. I tripled my debt in three years. I’m not even using my regular credit card—I make more than the minimum payments, but the interest piles up faster than I can make the payments.

I’m not The Girl in the Green Scarf. Cutting or freezing credit cards doesn’t work—I have the numbers memorized. I don’t have lots of fashionable clothes and accessories to sell at an auction. {Though I did sell my red microwave from my old apartment. My new one came with one, and I hadn’t used the red one in five years, so I let it go. I’m also converting all my remaining CDs into mp3s, so I can sell them on Craigslist. I am definitely asking more for them than I did when I sold my first 300 due to downsizing into a smaller place. But those will amount to only a small payment.} And I’m not a fictional character.

I need to—no, I MUST—go back to DA. There is no other option. The solution has to start (again) from within.

What’s the evil number? $43,500.

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accidental fading

i’ve had a lot to say but not much energy to say it. the last few weeks have been a blur. nothing bad per se, just lots going on. saw my doc and was pleased to tell her my allergies to the kitties have been minimal. unfortunately, i’d been eating a shitload of junk food, and my blood pressure is a bit high now. i’m supposed to cut out the salt/junk food (which i have started to do) and exercise (not yet {sigh}) to lower it in the coming weeks before my next appointment. yah, i have to get on it. the good news is that last month, i didn’t have any bad headaches and didn’t have to take any naproxen. that’s the first time in two years or more, so i was quite pleased about that, too. i went on the scale a couple of weeks ago and was nearing my heaviest. i’ve probably surpassed that now, so i’m too scared to get on the scale again. it’s shitty to be fat during winter because none of my coats fit, so i look even fatter. ugh. good thing my feet haven’t gotten fatter – i bought a pair of mini-stilettos and two pairs of boots today. that was an accident – i was actually on my way to my hair appointment, and the shoe store was next door, and i was a few minutes early, and. . . well. . . 😉

i’ve had some sad moods at times – partly to do with my friend in australia and his lack of understanding and compassion {we are talking again, but it hasn’t been the same}, and partly to do with T. the longer time passes, the more content i become with being alone, i.e. being without him, but the more my hope fades. some may say that’s a good thing, but i don’t want it to fade. in my heart, i still love him. and no one could ever take his place.

my fur kids are my treasures. aside from the occasional sadness, i don’t feel as depressed as i did in the summer. i have a few days off this week (making up for last month when i was called into work on my vacation. . . twice), and we’ve all been spending quality time together. oreo allows me to hold him now (albeit for only 30 seconds, but that’s still a big improvement). clea is still naughty, but when she crawls into bed with me in the mornings and sets her head on the pillow next to mine so she can have a cuddle, i forget about her naughtiness. tomorrow is my last day off, and i can’t wait to wake up with her next to me. =)

i keep my camera handy – there is always something cute or funny that they are doing. it’s hard to pick a few favorites to display here, but i narrowed it down to 25 (lol), or you can see all of the pix here and videos here.



so, to continue my story, because my plans were cancelled, i decided to stop by a clothing store near my place to shop for a new black skirt because the one i was wearing was getting tight again because of my unhealthy habit of eating chips for dinner every night. but, the store had literally just closed. oh well, i thought, i’ll save that money today. then, i stopped off at the drug store a few doors down to buy a new bottle of nailpolish of the same colour i was wearing. why, you may ask. because i had air bubbles on my nails (my girly readers will know what i’m referring to). the nailpolish wasn’t old, so i didn’t know why that had happened. as i was looking at the array of colours, i noticed some were on sale. the expensive opi brand was on sale for $6.99, original price something like $11 or $12. now, normally, i would never spend more than $4 for nailpolish. but the only bottle that matched my current colour was the opi. i negotiated with myself that while $7 was a bit much for a pot of colour, it *was* on sale from $12. usually, when i am already down this line of thinking, i will end up buying it. but this time, i debated back and forth with myself (which is much like hearing voices in your head), and decided that instead of buying it, i would contact my good friend google and find out if there were some simple solutions for getting rid of the bubbles. i put the bottle back on the shelf and proudly left the store. (by the way, there were two suggestions about the bubbles, so i’ll have to try them.)

after work today, i stopped off to take a photo of the sign in this store – gumdrops, a trendy rain boot store…

and of course, on my way home, i had to walk by one of my favorite home accessories store and went in. i ended up buying some unnecessary but nice-to-have stuff for my bathroom (so much for saving that money!). that’s the problem with girls and shopping, lol.

on another note, remember the woman at work who was moving? let’s call her caroline* – she sent me an email over the weekend which i got on tuesday telling me she couldn’t get a hold of anyone on thursday night to stay with, so she drove up to this town up north, which is a four-hour drive from here. just the other day, she told me she a tonne of people to stay with, so WTF?! i decided to ignore her email and just leave things. when i saw her at bellydance class later that day, things seemed fine. i didn’t want to draw any more attention to the now awkward situation. the rest of the week was fine, and then today, she called me and asked if i would help her look for places tomorrow night. despite my hesitancy, i said ok. {i know what you’re thinking…} i called her back and told her because there was miscommunication (her word) last week, i wanted to be clear that she had a place to stay on friday night and that she wasn’t expecting to stay with me. thankfully, she said yes. i hope we can find something suitable for her tomorrow. but i’m not going to help her move!

*again, i’m making up this name because i can.

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more pet purchases

yah, so… i found another pet supplies store, lol… actually, i had forgotten yesterday that i had one more to visit… and it turned out to be the best one in terms of size and variety. i hadn’t originally been planning on getting any cat toys until closer to “adoption”, but they had everything i had read about in my research, so i went ahead and got them today. i also bought a travel kennel. the best part about the store (tisol) is that they said if my cats (“my cats”!!!) don’t play with a toy, i can return it. and the store is within walking distance of my place, so even with all the stuff, i could easily walk home. bonus!

i also saw my doctor today, and she seemed to understand why i wanted a cat – she mentioned another patient of hers who has depression got a cat, too. but she was concerned about my allergies, especially my asthma. she asked if i couldn’t get just one kitten, and i told her that wasn’t an option, lol. i am determined to do this. she gave me my options for controlling my allergic reactions, but ultimately, i’ll have to wait until i get the kittens to see how badly i react.

i had one other errand to run (buy some household stuff for my sister and the kids’ visit at the end of august), but i got sidetracked and ended up buying a bunch of tops. i wasn’t going to buy any clothes until i had lost the weight, but my breasts aren’t going to get any smaller (not yet anyways), so i bought a few new tops that fit.

my last errand took a lot longer than needed, partly because i ended up talking to a woman at length about pets! by the time i got home, it was after 7 pm. and when i woke up this morning, i thought i’d be back by 3ish, lol.

finishing laundy now, and soooooo tired. there is no way i can take and post photos of my new pet purchases tonight. i can’t wait for a good night’s sleep!!!