Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Little Words

My Mother never said I love you until the day she thought she might die. She was lying in the gurney crying. Not sobbing but just enough that I could see her holding back, trying to articulate things she hadn't said all these years in just a few tears. I had seen these tears before. First, the day our German Shorthaired Pointer died. Then, at my Grandfathers funeral. Maybe I was going to die. They were rolling her out of the room and she muttered "I love you." That was it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I just read this article, and it was one of those moments of clarity, because what I was reading was what I have been feeling for quite some time now.

The basis of this article is that the majority of the world is going through the motions, perhaps without actually enjoying what they are doing in their daily lives. You're career path, social group, romantic partner-- perhaps it's all "fine," but does it "make your cells dance?" ( I loved that line from the article itself.)

It all makes me question: if I died today, would I feel fulfilled with my life and what I had accomplished?

You see people who are suffering from life threatening illnesses, such as Brittany Maynard, who find out about their disease and if they have 6 months to live, and they drop everything. They realize what truly makes them happy, and the dreams they want to fulfill-- and they do it.

They go out into the universe and Belly Dance, or visit the Taj Mahal, or finally go meet Mickey Mouse at the Disney Castle. They use their fine china and crystal wine glasses, kiss their lovers, hug their children, and live.

But don't we have that choice now? Why do we put these bars around ourselves that constrict our every day happiness? Is it in the name of practicality? So we can properly save money for that one day when we will need it?

For me, since I have graduated college, I have assigned a ball and chain to myself called Student Loans, which has become a daily stress upon my life; an obsession of sorts.

My good friend Sallie Mae left me with 65k of student loan debt for 5 years of college at a state college, in which I earned two degrees: A BA in English and a BS in Elementary Education. I graduated at the top of my class in both majors, but the market for teaching wasn't as booming as we were taught to believe. All the "Baby Boomers" were staying in their jobs, because the economy was down, and they needed more time.

So I landed a job in Technology Sales-- and I can't complain, because half of my friends didn't land a job at all, and even for being a completely different career path than I was prepared for, the company itself treated it's employees with fantastic benefits, and it was a young, fun environment, where I could actually enjoy a Cube-Job.

In my first year and a half I was able to obsessively save my pennies and limit my personal spending to the point where I had paid off almost 30k of the loans by setting a $1500 payment each month, and applying my Tax Refund to the loans as well. I started with the loans with the highest interest rate of around 6% down to the lowest rate of 2% to reduce any additional payment as much as possible.

I have now been at the same company for 3.5 years and am down to 14k in loans. I'm not ashamed to say that I drive a used, beat up 2000 Honda civic, shop thrift shops and sales for my wardrobe, and save wherever I can with my goal in mind to fully pay off my loans by the age of 28. ( I turn 27 this coming January)

I know this goal is completely do-able if I keep consistent with my plan-- it's practical.

The only issue is that after 3.5 years at a an office job where I only feel about half-fulfilled, I have begun waking up less-than-enthusiastic about what my life has become. Sure-- I do a lot of other fun things in my life. I go out with my friends, I play with my puppy and cat, I play guitar and write music, I write.

These are all fulfilling things, but somehow I feel as if something is missing. For years I have had this uncontrollable urge to travel the world and all of my life, I have felt an intense connection to nature. I started doing some research about working in nature, working on farms, living off the land and living sustainably, and wound up finding an organization that I could absolutely connect to: WWOOF. (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farming.)

The thing that is particularly cool about this organization is that it is World-Wide. You can choose almost any country you are interested in living in, and you can almost certainly find a farm in need of help. During this process, you reach out to the farm, schedule your trip and then work on the farm depending on their needs during the duration of your stay, in trade of room and board (usually including meals/ general needs). Every farm and situation is different, so it is important to do your research and find a farm that fits your needs.

I found one in particular in Italy called Podere Amarti that drew my attention as it is not only a farm in the middle of the Italian countryside, but the farm is Vegetarian and is also a Meditation Center including Drum Circle and Trance music-- all things that are already a large part of my life. I have reached out to the farm and have plans to one day visit.

But I feel as if I cannot fulfill my dreams until my loans are completely paid. I feel that it wouldn't be responsible.

I was talking to a few of my peers at work about this personal dilemma, and they came up with a simple solution: Start a Go-Fund me page.

Easy enough to create, simple enough story to share, but would people contribute to my own personal dreams? Something about it feels selfish to me.

I've never felt comfortable asking anyone for anything. I enjoy working hard and reaping the benefits of the work. I also know that if I continue to work hard, I can achieve this goal of paying off my loans completely on my own. The problem is, (and the cliché too...) "I'm not getting any younger."