What’s a novelist, writer, creative, any kind of person, to do amid COVID-19? Preface: I know I’m super lucky that to date, and fingers crossed that it stays that way, my circle has been relatively unscathed by any coronavirus. That said, I invite you to join me in whining…
There’s only so much writing and reading I can do during this pandemic sheltering-in-place without feeling stir-crazy… lonely… and just plain hot. We’re into the dog days, the part of summer when there’s no evading stickiness and the persistent “fragrance” of each other……
These days, masking up, talking to people from afar through the muffling, and daring the germs feels like endeavoring a safari, albeit not a blood-letting one. (Dear reader, my condolences if you’re plagued by maskne.)
Nevertheless, we decided to make a foray — to the shore — dog beach, to be exact. Mid-week and mid-morning, we calculated, would be sparse. Once we got there, no lifeguards shooed us away, so the three of us were tight.
Masks on… it was time for our dear little K-D doggie to learn to swim!
After all, my lovely girl has water-loving labrador-ish-ness twined into her DNA. Unfortunately, her older lab-ish sibs taught her to be suspicious of water. The sorely missed Lola and Pierre would tremble through warm showers. Their hearts, nonetheless, were huge, their love of their hu-Man great. That water-fearing duo steeled themselves to wade into a shallow lake when they thought their hu-Man was drowning, never suspecting that he was play-acting.
K-D is defined by two loves: playing and eating, in that order.
Joy! She found something to play with; a stick.
With gentle persistence, my dear Khashayar enticed her deeper.
It took time for play-mode to kick in — that plus her aversion to getting left behind by her fave hu-Man.
At some point, she set down her toy to pursue other activities — but when another critter showed interest in it, she told ’em off. Three sessions of that, and she’d had enough. Dang it, she was going to play with it with her hu-Man… maybe…
Khashayar had confidence enough for both of them!…
… and Khashayar has patience…
O-m-g!!! We should’ve brought a surfboard for her to hang ten!
Patience and love work well in all situations, no?
Turn up your speakers and sit back for a cooling video of one of her many subsequent swims that day. Bliss out to wet ears flapping against a happy dog’s face, one who’s fresh from a doggie paddle frolic and free of the day’s worries…
Happiness Between Tails embraces joy — of writing tales… reading tales in books… cohabiting peacefully with our fellow creatures, some who have tails…
… arts… including music.. dance… cooking…
… and happiness — that includes living debt-worry free!
Here to address money is blogger Mr. Nahas. Down-to-earth and compassionate, he offers uncomplicated financial advice…
I hope all is well with you! My name is Justin Nahas, aka Mr. Nahas on my blog about economic freedom.
I was born, raised, and still live in sunny Florida. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Economics.
I have a passion for personal finance and economics — I just find the subjects so fascinating. I love how they can be applied to real life, and that there is always something new to learn about them. On my blog, I try to help people become financially literate, to take control of their finances.
Money is a problem in every part of the world and in many households. It’s important that those like me who enjoy personal finance and economics share their knowledge with others. One day I hope that I can blog full-time and continue to teach others through my failures, mistakes — and successes.
Today, I’ll discuss debt — but not how you might expect. I’m going to go over the emotional struggles that come with owing money and how to overcome those challenges.
Debt has a significant impact how we think, talk, and behave. I believe that getting over the psychological effects of debt is the crucial first step to living debt-free!
So, grab that cup of coffee that you made at home because you enjoy saving money, and let’s get started!
Have you ever thought about your debts and immediately began to stress out or have anxiety? Does the thought of your burdens make you feel like you can’t breathe? Do you constantly wonder if you are going to be able to repay the money owe?
Whether we want to realize it or not, debt impacts our well being. It can lead to stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even depression; that’s not something you should live with.
A study conducted by Elizabeth Sweet, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, suggested that “higher debt is associated with worse health in a national cohort.” It proved that, “reporting high financial debt relative to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure.” Sweet’s is only one study of many that link debt to well-being.
You aren’t alone in emotionally struggling with debt. Many are in the same boat as you. Many others feel stressed, depressed, anxious, worried, and worse.
That’s okay. It is normal to have that feeling, but you don’t have to accept it as the end-all. Together, we can tackle this emotional struggle.
By now, you’re probably asking, “But Mr. Nahas, how can I get over these feelings?”
That is a fantastic question. Read on for steps you can take.
1. Feelings Validation
I want you to know that it’s okay to have feelings about your debt; there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s essential that you know that your feelings are normal, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed. That said, you can’t live in your feelings; you can’t let them get in the way of your goals and overwhelm you to the point where you shutdown.
At the same time, just because you feel anxious doesn’t mean that you should just sit down and do nothing; you need to do the opposite. Instead of saying, “I am feeling stressed. I am ashamed of feeling stressed; I don’t want to do anything,” tell yourself, “I feel stressed, and that is okay. I need to let this stress motivate me to get out of debt.”
You have the biggest asset known to man – your mind. The beautiful thing about your mind is that you can control all of your thoughts and actions. Use your thinking to your advantage; tackle these feelings.
One way to do that is to accept that it’s okay to feel sad, anxious, stressed, etc. Another is to know that you don’t have to continually live with these feelings. Be proactive. What I mean by this is that when you get these feelings, tell youself, “It’s okay,” and then say, “I don’t have to live with this debt; it’s possible to get rid of it, and I will get rid of it.”
Always remind yourself that debt can be managed and that it’s totally possible to get rid of it entirely. Keep affirming to yourself that what you owe doesn’t define you and that it’s only temporary. This journey starts with your attitude and thoughts. Think, and it can be achieved!
Now you might ask, “Mr. Nahas, can I take a run or workout whenever I feel stressed or have these feelings?” Absolutely! Physical exercise can help tremendously with those feelings, but don’t forget to tell yourself what I mentioned above!
Validation: It’s okay to feel the way you feel. Don’t be ashamed. Use your feelings to make you stronger.
2. Acceptance and Realization
You need to accept that you have debt; it may seem trivial, but it’s an important step.
“Mr. Nahas, why would I need to do this?” Good question!
You can’t shy away from this problem; you need to tackle it head-on. It’s not one of those things where you can say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” It’s actually really dangerous to say that because you will then let compound growth take effect and wreak havoc.
To be in control of your debt, you must take control of it. Make a list of all the debts that you have and accept that you have them — and then realize that you don’t have to live with them.
You can pay them off and be free, but it’s going to take some work. It’s totally possible to dig yourself out from them, even if you are at the bottom. There are so many people who have then climbed out; they will tell you it’s hard work, but they will also say that it’s completely possible and worth it.
3. Be Proactive
Before you move on to this step, you must understand and practice the two previous ones. You need to know it’s okay to have bad feelings about your debt, but you shouldn’t accept that you have to live with them. You need to accept that you have the debt — then realize that it’s possible to pay it off.
This may be hard for the first couple of months, but sacrifice now is worth living debt-free later. Once you stick to your financial philosophies and budget, you will see progress. Your mood, attitude, and feelings will change for the better. How long it takes to get rid of debt only depends on how much you owe. You got this!
I hope that I was able to help you with the emotional struggles of owing money. It’s totally possible to resolve all your bills; you just need to believe in yourself and master your mind. There will be struggles and days ahead where you feel like you “just can’t” — but you need to be strong and move forward. Keep being proactive.
If you have any questions or need me to clarify something, post a comment and I will reach out to you as soon as I can.
Thank you, friends, for stopping by! Take care and see you soon!
P.S. Don’t forget to visit my site, where my goal is to help as many people as possible!
What are your tips for feeling happier about your money?
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Picture me sitting on my haunches atop a conference table, assigned to perform an entertaining Toastmasters speech titled, “The benefits and the Politics of Squatting”…
The subject first piqued my interest years ago, when my mom moved in with us. To make things extra comfy for all, we had some construction done on our snug home.
Each morning, a crew of men assembled under our backyard gazebo. Aged from early twenties to eighties, each hailed from Cambodia.
What intrigued me was the way they waited for each other to show up. In totally relaxed full-squats, the gentlemen sipped coffees, munched pastries, chatted, and smoked. Once all were there, they stood — not a one groaned or complained of creaky bones.
Lunch involved more of the same. They full-squatted as they passed around freshly steamed rice with fragrant grilled meat and veggies. Afterward, still squatting, they finished with smokes and maybe a sweet.
Squatting was still on my mind when, a couple of years later, I broke my knee twice in the same year. Torn cartilage, fractured bone, stretched tendon, blah, blah, blah. Ouch!!!! and Ohno!!! don’t begin to cover it.
Voila! Thanks to his suggestion that I squat five times a day, for thirty seconds each time, as I watched TV, my knee is so great that I never needed the surgery that two doctors prescribed! Yesterday I went for a terrific jog, no problemo!
By aligning muscles and organs from toes to neck, squatting aids in…
Getting rid of hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, and hernias.
Preventing heart attacks caused by straining on European-style toilets.
Alleviating incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
Making pregnancy easier.
Guarding reproductive organs, including protecting against prostate cancer.
How are you faring during this challenging time? I mean individually in your slice of the globe? Let’s all help each other — tell us — how do you keep your spirits high?
“I do everything the man does, only backward and in high heels!” — Ginger Rogers
Here in Los Angeles, weeks ago, cleaning supplies were nowhere to be seen. Still, it wasn’t until I grocery shopped a couple of days ago that the sight of ravaged shelves was genuinely arresting. And then yesterday — things reached a tipping point. Long lines of heaped grocery carts, jammed parking lots… a friend canceled a much-planned birthday party, Iranian-American family shelved Persian New Year’s festivities…
Connecting with loved ones in any way I can, keeping fit — and having fun!! — are what keeps me afloat. Fortunately, everyone I know has their toilet paper and we’re all okay. That includes my family in worst-afflicted Iran, Italy, and Spain, along with Australia, Argentina, England, and Canada.
It also helps when my husband reminds me that people elsewhere have endured far worse for much longer. Another thing that lifts my spirits is when I visit blogs like RoiJoyeux’s. His is filled with kisses, interesting biographies of non-straight people, the treats he bakes for his loved ones, and dancing!…
“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.” — Truman Capote (read, don’t watching his phenom “Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories.”)
Is there a certain day that you least enjoy spending alone? Valentine’s Day is meant to be about love — let’s start with ourselves! It’s only a day — only one day — as are all days — wise reminders from guest blogger/ poet/ daydreamer/ writer R.K.B. …
You won’t die. It’s not the end of the world, but I know it feels like it.
I get it. This day might even cause you to become depressed every year.
This year, let’s change that.
You are still worthy.
You are not worthless.
You have love, because you love yourself.
I know, it sucks because you might want to know what it feels like to be spoiled on this day. Or maybe, you just would like to know what it feels like to be acknowledged and told that you are beautiful. Sure, you can take yourself on a date and get all dressed up, but you’d want to know the feeling of having someone else to appreciate it and share it with.
I get that, too.
This isn’t your typical, feel-good post about how “loving yourself will cure all wounds,” because even though that is true, nobody really wants…
How do you deal with rejection? Whether you’re a fellow novelist — or you adore reading fiction as much as I do — or simply you too are human — at some point we all experience disappointment and frustration.
Here, while I take time off to complete my upcoming novel, “Flamenco & the Sitting Cat,” Lynn Love opens her heart to us. This is how she keeps rejection from getting the better of her novel writing…
Writing novels is a strange way to spend your life.
You take months (in my case, years) working alone on a project then there comes a point – if you want your baby to develop, to grow and not remain swaddled to your over-protective breast forever – when you must push what you’ve made into the world and watch from a safe distance to see if it will fall on its face or walk, perhaps even run.
But what if it manages to both face plant and saunter cockily round the block on the same day?
A few weeks ago, I learned I’d come second in a Writing Magazine competition (more on that nearer publication day). My prize was either a modest amount of cash or a critique of 9,000 words.
Now, as I’m a writer with heaps of artistic integrity and a yearning to polish my craft…
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This famous quote — which surely Williamson is proud of however zillion times it’s attributed to Nelson Mandela — reminds me of how sneaky my fear of success can be. As a kid, I worried that setting myself apart would invite criticism, jealousy, and ostracism. My ultimate goal, I was firmly instructed when my imagination soared, was predetermined. Girls must be cute and sweet so they’d be attractive to boys. Women, I was told, were born to be wives and mothers.
Fears continue to gnaw at me. Now they’re sophisticated, requiring constant vigilance to upend them. Art begs an audience. When art is personal, it’s difficult to not give a damn what others might think, not to mention how wicked my own self-doubt can be. An hour after I was awarded an Emmy, a stranger asked me how the honor felt. My reply was blather. He reminded me that I had indeed won it…
Williamson is correct to point that that being our best benefits everyone. When I’m upset about my goals, I remind myself of her wise words.
Do you ever hold yourself back?
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In the worst situations, strength and compassion shine brightest. Terrible times strip away everything but what’s essential, leaving bare the best in us and those we encounter during our trials.
The first time I learned the depth of this truth was when I co-produced a video for the Leukemia Society of America (nowadays Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). They’d hired my business partner, David Hunt (who has written for HBT here and here), and me (our non-profit company was called, Vista Educational Media) to encourage therapists, as well as people struggling with leukemia to get involved in the agency’s support groups. Executive Producer was Maureen Nunn. We videotaped at Wellness Community South Bay Cities, which is now Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach. The Los Angeles Times wrote of participant Roger Kahl’s valiant life here.
The way David and I worked was always to let subjects speak their truths, then we’d do our best to edit and narrate accurately. For each project, David and I would alternate who would be in charge and who would assist.
Thank goodness for this one David conducted the interviews, wrote, edited, and narrated. It took all I had not to sob while I stood to videotape behind the tripod. Reviewing it all these many years later, I still cry at the incredible bravery of the interviewees and David’s outstanding storytelling.
On David’s site, he details his experience with this project. Here’s his preliminary description for my site here…
“By the 1990s health educators understood that video-assisted storytelling was an effective way to engage patients and get them involved in their own health care. But many of the nation’s top health organizations, including the Leukemia Society, used actors as stand-ins for actual patients in their health education videos. In 1992 I was part of a documentary team that convinced the organization to trust people with leukemia to share their own stories.”
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Even in the best of times, relationships can be complicated. Sometimes we know something is wrong, but we’re not sure whether we should keep trying to make it work and whether the problem lies within our own actions or those of the other person. On her Looking for the Light blog, Melinda Sandor of Texas offers a link to a list of insights on how to ‘Keep Moving Forward’ in the worst of times…
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My inner cynic can loom monstrous enough to be laughable. When it skulks, it can be harder to address. Caz, who lives in England, understands that emotions are part of being human. Without being syrupy, without promoting denial, she offers practical help. Her Invisibly Me site deals with living with invisible chronic pain, including living with an ileostomy (not to be confused with a colostomy). Here’s a sample of her best advice…
I wrote this with chronic illness in mind, but it also applies to other spheres of life, from living arrangements to your financial situation.
Focussing on what you can’t do. It can become a vicious cycle, leaving us exhausted and disheartened before we even begin. It can happen for various reasons. Looking at how things used to be in the past, such as before chronic illness took hold. It may be from social pressures concerning what we ‘should’ be doing at this point in our lives. It may be from comparing your life to how you thought it would look, or comparing your situation to that of your peers.
For whatever reason, it’s good to work on acknowledging and accepting the situation and what you can’t necessarily change right now. Then, redefine what’s important to you, not what you feel you ‘should’ value or want. Write your own rules. Find new paths to explore and get creative to find ways to get there. Maybe you can’t do certain things, but there will always be options and alternatives. There are always small changes you can make and actions to take to improve your situation or live your best life. You may just have to look a little harder to find them.
It’s also about readjusting expectations and making them more realistic and manageable. Take note of the things you can be grateful for that often get lost in the midst of pain and illness, or stress and worry. It’s about looking at the things you’re good at and the positives you can eek out of your situation and experiences. You’ve become stronger and more resilient. Perhaps you’ve met new people in person or online, such as through blogging or support groups. Maybe you’re more compassionate, empathic, have found a new skill or have become more appreciative of the small joys in life.
When we focus on the negatives, the limitations or the things we can’t change, we give up our power. By honing in on those things you can’t do or have, or the ways in which you feel constrained, it limits your perspective and experiences even more so.
By focusing on the can’t-dos, you’re reducing yourself & your life. You are more than just the things you can’t do.
Empower yourself by looking at what you can do, no matter how small. Look at the things you can change, the tasks you can accomplish, the things you can choose to do.
Instead of ‘I can’t do…’, change it to ‘but I can do…’.
You’re doing the best you can, with the cards you’ve been dealt and the situation you find yourself in. A little jiggle of perspective can make a big difference. Don’t close yourself off from possibilities. Instead, think outside the box and take back some control over your life. You may just find that you’re capable of more than you imagined.