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On budgeting. In love.

January 11, 2011

I have this story I love to tell about the day I turned my money around. I was broke. Busted, disgusted, can’t be trusted, as my college roommate used to say. So much so that I wondered if I wasn’t broke, but broken.

I was also training for a marathon. Running is free, after all. I loved the daily run. It felt like an accomplishment, not ever having been a runner before. I had unlocked the secret for myself, which was that running is a technical sport. It’s not just an activity where you throw yourself at the road, run really fast and it’s over. You can time your pace, feel each muscle, call on other muscles when those are tired. You can build your stamina by way of strengthening your heart, and you can strengthen your heart with a stretch of road and a wristwatch heart monitor.

You can also let your mind unspool out there on the path. And if you have a mind like mine, you know it’s like taking the dog out to play. You have to let it run all over the place at some point if you want to have a relaxing night.

Not love

For all I loved about running, I HATED the first mile. It’s horrible. It hurts. For the first eleven minutes of every run, I negotiated, one side a chorale spectacular resounding the suck factor and saying I was stupid for even trying. The other side just shouldered the weight, like a grim old man shoveling snow. Nobody else gonna do it ain’t no sun gonna clear it but me coffee’s gonna taste good this mornin, ‘f I don’t stroke before I git there.

So one morning, when I looked up and saw I had run two miles without so much as a peep from my choir, no aching joints, no pleading psyche, I gasped. I laughed. I searched my mind for what had occupied it so intently that I couldn’t feel the vice of my nemesis first mile.

It was my budget. I was juggling it. If I give $10 a week to x and pay my gas bill a little late, then pay y $25 every other…

Not broke

I wondered at this a second. Being broke took up every waking moment. I hated it more than I hated the first mile. But…I LIKED this juggling. It was a puzzle. My mind took it to task and I got all kinds of satisfaction being clever enough to figure it out each moment. In that moment, I was a changed woman. I decided that if I loved budgeting my debt so much, why not budget my millions? Within a few months’ time, I had queued up two job interviews at investment companies.

I got the job I wanted. My broke got healed. I’m not budgeting millions, but I’m not busted anymore either. I AM still enjoying the strategies of money.

So it occurs to me this morning to apply this to love.

The Law of Three

My dad used to tell me that I brought home strays. Which may explain why, in my late 20s, I finally instituted my Law of Three:

If the romantic interest was

Addicted (to even smoking or coffee or Tic Tacs),
On medication for depression, or
Deep in debt due to irresponsible spending

I could not date them.

Having the occasion to pull out the old Law of Three in a recent conversation, I wondered if it wasn’t a little outdated. Nope, still applies, I thought. We all have our issues, but these are the ones I personally need to stay away from.

Increasing the love budget

This morning, I stopped in my mental tracks like I did the day I was running for my money. In setting my standard here, at these bottom absolutes, am I not budgeting my debt, not my millions? If it’s all the same exercise, why don’t I juggle abundance instead of poverty? Poverty of spirit, love, vision, opportunity, happiness. Abundance of the same.

Same coin. Different side.

Same game. Different pride.

My friends, it’s a brand new awareness and I don’t know how to end this post. Seems silly to say it’s a new beginning. Jesus has the corner on that market.

Existential pie chart. Of love.

Maybe borrowing from Joseph Campbell is best here. We’re born whole. We break into pieces. We spend the rest of our journey questing for the pieces and bringing them back to the whole. Peace.

I was broke. I was broken. But that run keeps reminding me, when I’m ready, of different pieces I left behind…and where to find them.

Hm. I’m listening to Pandora right now. The lyrics, “Heaven tastes like this.”

Just looked up the song. “All That Money Wants,” by The Psychedelic Furs.

Don’t you just love serendipity?


What do marathons, business launches and story-making have in common?

One step at a time, Grasshoppa.

I had a girlfriend who trained me how to run. Weird concept. You’d think running is just putting some speed in your step. Boom. Finish line.

Not so.

She prescribed my daily distances, timed my pace, corrected my posture. She marked miles on my route, made Wednesdays speed days to increase my heart rate capacity. She tracked my heart rate!

I went from hating jogging all my life to bounding out of bed for my morning run.

What happened? She made the run make sense to me. Instead of pining for the finish and sucking wind the whole way, she showed me a structure. Running is not just one foot in front of the next. It’s your whole system working together: your breath, your heart, your pace, the view you’re taking in, the places your mind goes, the drum beat of your feet, the muscles that move you while learning to give some a rest and employ others.

Running broke open a new underworld of understanding, about what my body was doing and how I could do it better, easier. And those endorphins! Oooee! So worth the distance.

For the love of launch prep & speed days. And perspective.

I wax on. Why? Because I’m trying to give myself perspective here. I’m in the middle of this launch prep, and it feels like a Wednesday speed day, every day. It hurts my lungs and legs, and my mind is threatening to splash out of my skull. What the hell is a MailChimp and a CSS, and a codey mc blah blah but a techy headache when all I want to do is help people write?

I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a structure. It’s the law. Well, not a cop’s dream, but the law of the cyber-universe. And the law of attraction. And the law of: this is fun, dammit, stretch a brain cell and join the revolution, sister.

For the love of the writing-challenged.

When I put it together that THIS frustration is what people who have a hard time writing feel, it made my dive into this funky internet jive totally vibe. This is my tribe. These Tweeps are MY peeps. Word! It’s about the word. And how to shake it, pimp it, be it, say it. It’s about saying the things that make you you. About crowing and crooning and whispering sweet nothings, whatever it is that makes YOUR audience swoon and wrap their lovin’ arms around you till the night is through.

One foot in front of the other, one word and then the next. One breath, then heartbeat, one MailChimp and then code string. One system leaning and lurching, and soon, loping forward into a complete opus, be it marathon or blog post, website or launch.

One step at a time, Grasshoppa. Word.