All posts by Danica LeBlanc

The Long Road

I’ve known I needed to get back into therapy for nearly two years now. This was at the same time as I was opening a business. I’ve been funnelling all of my money, time, energy, and mental bandwidth into the shop – with great results. Unfortunately, I have less and less to give. A big reason I’m working temporary contracts is the ability to save some money. Eventually, I’d like to have enough to start spending on myself again. And while nail polish is fun to purchase sometimes, I’m aiming for something that truly relaxes and reinvigorates me. I don’t mean to diminish anyone. If nail polish is your self-care, you do you. When I have time to sit down, and the world doesn’t feel too hopeless, painting my nails is one of my top choices for making myself feel a bit better.

I’ve tried a few different things that people seem to respond to during self-care, but so far, nothing works better than a few hours of Netflix and not thinking about my problems. Which I’m pretty sure is more avoidance, rather than taking care of the problem(whatever it may be that day). Whatever, I’m a long way from getting proper recovery, and this is what I can afford and have time for at the moment.

Pretty sure I worried some of you in my previous post. I’ve been dealing with depression all my life – you think I’d be able to handle it by now – and This Too Shall Pass. There are some things in my life I can’t control, and I’ve improved at not focusing solely on those factors and scenarios. Doesn’t mean the stress and horror of life doesn’t paralyze me occasionally, but I’m getting better at concentrating on that tiny little light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, I desperately need someone to talk to, but we are all going through something right now, and my patchwork explanations must be focused at one person as soon as they comfortably can be. I’m going to try my best to write sometimes, and hopefully, the whole story can come out at some point(if you want to hear it).

Hey, remember when I used to write about organization and decluttering? That was fun.

Anyway, please leave your preferred type of self-care in the comments below. I’m curious what everyone does to get through the day.

Going Through The Motions

So….

I’m averaging a post once every two weeks or so, and that’s pretty much all I can give you right now. My depression and anxiety have kicked into high gear, and I’m going through way too much to properly deal with. This will not be a post about getting better, faking it til I make it, or any other mental health bullshit that I simply cannot handle at this time. All positivity has left the building.

Not sure what’s worse. All the triggers I’ve discovered lately, or the fact that a lot of days, I don’t want to get out of bed. I have created Store Danica for this purpose. She is functional, cheerful, and everything is Great! She is how I get by. If you’ve been in the store, that’s who you get. Not sure if I should keep her a secret, but since my face doesn’t hide emotions well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you know something’s been going on. Currently, I have no ways of coping with any of my mental issues, so a lot of Netflix is being watched. Reading is tough for me. I can’t concentrate, and I end of skimming most things – which means less enjoyment. I used to be able to immerse myself in stories. I could imagine a tiny movie in my head while I read. Now, the images are scattered and few. I’ve lost so much.

In addition to all this, my imposter syndrome strikes daily, and of course my problems aren’t important. Of course others have it worse, and what even are you complaining about, you stupid girl? You’re a bit sad. You’re not dying. You’re not being shot. Everyone else deserves self-care, a healthy body image, and fun. You, who are unworthy of relaxation and joy, must suffer through your days. I am trying SO hard to find that tiny light of goodness – you know, the one at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train?

Pretty sure it’s worse now I have a support network of kind and caring women – that I am totally ignoring because they can’t know the real me. If I haven’t called or tweeted you in a while, it’s because I’m horrid and push away everyone good in my life when the depression hits. Even my goddamn cats. I say terrible things to them, and have a short fuse even when I’m home. I love my cats more than anything in this ugly, violent world, but that’s apparently not enough to be kind to them.

I have no more kindness to give, friends. I cannot bothered with your life problems because I am too busy not dealing with my own. I’d say I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy. My brain is full of depression, anxiety, thinking about how to make the store better, trying to get to sleep before midnight, loneliness, sadness, and trying to occasionally be a useful human adult person. It’s not going well.

My Shopping Ban: Is Done!!!

Welp, May was something else.

Reasons June will probably be better:

– I might get a day off work (more time for reading and Netflix!)

– my student loans are completely paid off (more on that in a moment)

– Time with friends (schedules TBD)

– more money coming in if I get a contract (savings? Currently unfamiliar with that term)

– maybe maybe maybe spending a little bit o’ money on my self (thinking pedicure)

Let’s start with the big news. My student loan. It’s done. Paid. Gonzo. The last automatic payment was transferred early this week, and I couldn’t wait to get rid of the rest. Made a payment for the last $88 yesterday, and look forward to receiving one of those nice letters congratulating me on paying off the loan. My next step? Paying off my credit card by the end of the year and saving money on top of all that.

May wasn’t a very spendy month. The Beyoncè concert (which was bloody cold, but amazing) resulted in a $55 tank top, which was lower than what I originally budgeted for merch. After buying a denim jacket for $8 (it fits my She-Hulk shoulders!!), I visited Winner’s (after Goodwill did not have all the items I was looking for – always try secondhand before buying new, friends) a knee-length dark denim pencil skirt and a navy blue knee-length knitted vest(with pockets!). Haven’t bought new clothes in a long time, but I’m happy to report I’ve been wearing both a couple times a week since the purchase. With that purchase of $52.48, my clothing expenses came in under my desired budget of $150.

I’m not going all out like I thought I could previously. Instead of spending $200 on myself in June, since I spent over $100 on myself in May, I’ll fold that into my “reward budget”. Which is why I’m going to attempt book a pedicure this month. That’s about all the self-care I can handle right now.

As of this posting, I’m hopefully relaxing and reading on my day off from work – but more likely cleaning the house because why would I ever stop doing things? Ugh, I need someone to fix my brain BUT AT LEAST MY STUDEN LOANS ARE PAID OFF.

Later, nerds. 🍷

Quick updates on life

Haven’t written in a while. Currently working two jobs, the second one ending at 10pm – not much time for writing. Or rest. But some money is coming in, so the next couple weeks should feel a bit better, financially.

My student loan is around $300. I put $15 in this morning, and have been pretty good about keeping that habit up. Another $200 will go out about 10 days from now, and then I’ll pay off what’s left with part of my latest paycheque. After that, I’m setting aside a bit of fun money (may be more like $100, rather then $200) and spend a bit on myself in June. Then back to crushing my credit card debt. I’m hoping to start saving a bit every month as well, because that would be smart and I should have been doing it all along, but whatever! Life sucks, but I will start saving money for when it gets better at some point. 

So, two jobs. My agency called me last week because a call centre had been set up to answer Fort McMurray fire related questions, so I’m there until the end of the month. Again, tired, but it’s not a bad job. People are nice, and I can read when the phones are slow. 

Speaking of reading! In the last week or so, I’ve finished “Black Widow: Forever Red” by Margaret Stohl, “Dead Girls Don’t” by Mags Storey – both amazing YA mysteries. Would highly recommend you seek them out. 

My Shopping Ban: 6 More Weeks

As of this writing, my loan is at $620.65.

Hard to believe this weight will be gone from my life in 6-7 weeks. I looked it up and I will have had this loan for 7 years and 7 months by the end. Silver lining? Shorter than I thought. I had always rounded up the time to 8 or 9 years. It really does feel like I’ve been paying it off so much longer. Now that I’m so close to the end, there’s a part of me that just wants to fall off the wagon. Who am I if I’m not paying student loans? Who am I when I don’t have debt one day? I’m weirdly uncomfortable with those thoughts.

My mixture of financial feelings are as follows:

1) The overwhelming sense of freedom. I’ll have $200 extra dollars a month! I can go places and do things with all the extra money!

2) The crushing realization that I still have to dig myself out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I have barely any savings after putting everything into the store, and haven’t been making a lot of money over the past year.

The happy medium? I’m going to keep getting contract work as often as I can. I’m going to continue paying my credit card off, but not as hard and fast as I am with the student loan. I am going to add to my savings and when I have reached a comfortable place, then I can hammer down my credit card debt.

In between all that, I want to have fun with my friends. Go out to dinner, see movies, go for small trips. Since I’ll be more relaxed about paying off my credit card(it’s not too bad, only about $1300 owing on it), I’ll create new goals to keep myself motivated. My next goal after June is too see if I can save $1000 by the end of September.

Do you have a summer financial goal? Leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter.

Closer To Free

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve been even harder on myself lately. It took Brandon telling me how stretched thin I was to make me realize I couldn’t handle more right now. Every day is a rollercoaster. I’m both empowered and weak, close to financial freedom and so far away from any savings, confident and terrified – and I need to somehow come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of everything right now. Frankly, I’m sick of it, but realize this is a long, hard road I must walk down.

Oddly enough, a podcast has been helping. I discovered a show called “The Big Payoff” ( http://www.acast.com/bigpayoff ) the other week. They were doing a 4-episode series on women and their relationship with money, and I found the whole thing full of captivating and valuable information. Topics ranged from women being the breadwinner’s in their respective relationships to your money history and fantasies (dreams of a financial future come from somewhere). I know now I must have a closer relationship with money, so will be listening to more of their episodes in the future.

I spent the last decade thinking I would always be in debt. Very glad at least that’s progressing to a point where I can breathe a bit easier. Right now, I’m thankful to have that One Thing I can focus on completely obliterating from my life. One Thing that is under my control. Thank you for keeping me going. Thank you for giving me motivation when I was weak, and keeping my eye on the future when I have achieved this goal.

My Shopping Ban: Creating a Plan

Since I last wrote about my ban and student loans, I’ve since acquired a job, both dealt with and removed stress from different areas of my life, and am in a better place emotionally.

I spent some time one evening plotting out a payment plan to squash my student loan once and for all. Since I am being paid weekly, I will be taking out $15 of each paycheque and put it towards the debt. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is over and above the $200 I already have going out at the end of the month, so it adds up over time. My final $200 will be taken out of my account at the end of May, and I will pay the remainder (I’m estimating it to be around $100) that week. My personal deadline will be Friday, June 10, to send off my final payment.

It feels unreal to be this close. I grow impatient and want to pay it all LIKE RIGHT NOW, but I don’t have the money like right now. This way, I can pay it off and still grow the cushion back in my main bank account. I’m hoping with this job, I can put a bit into savings as well.

~~~

I’m getting time before the busy season to catch up on some reading in my lunch hours, which has been a nice treat. In the last week, I’ve read Letter 44 Vol 3, Astro City Vol 1, and am currently halfway through Civil War.

Letter 44 has been amazing, and I’m crushed we’re sold out of the single issues in store because I really really want to keep reading, but will *hmph* patiently wait for the next collection.

Astro City is kind of interesting. I may check out volume 2 to see if it’s enough to keep my reading.

And Civil War is making a bunch of stories I know make a bit more sense, so while it’s not great, it’s filling in a bit more of the timeline for me.

Otherwise, I’m reading Watchmen for book club, and it’s to be expected. I find it offensive, and boring, so congrats on doing that, writer dude.

Borrowed The Best Laid Plans (which won Canada Reads a few years back) from my dad, and I’m enjoying it enough.

Generation X is on the bottom of my bedside table book pile. Does that book make sense to anyone else? I’m thinking it didn’t age well.

Worth It

Let me unpack what’s been going on in the last week.

I have a job now. I have a job for two months and it is glorious. I love temp work because you get to try new things and learn new things and get paid really really well because you’re also not getting health benefits, but it’s alright because you are getting a Paycheque. And Paycheques feed your kitties and sometimes yourself. Frankly, I was more worried about the cats. That reminds me – I need to buy kibble this week.

But I digress.

So far, my schedule is working out well. I’ll be at the office week days and at the store on weekends. You may have noticed already if you’ve visted VE, but fear not, I will be there occasionally, shining my light on you and conversing on how to smash the patriarchy.

I also experienced some unnecessary stress, but because I am strong (I am woman, hear me roar), I didn’t put up with that bullshit. And I will continue not putting up with such bullshit in my life because I am above bullies. I will absolutely have my weak moments in the future, but I will remember to listen to Beyoncé or Fifth Harmony and know that I am Worth It.

Debt, Fear, and Time Travel

When I think about all the money I needlessly spent in my 20s, I get a little sad. I realize now that I could have have paid off my debt by now if I had been more serious about paying it back when I was making more income. I often want to go back to my 20-something year old self and tell her to be more cautious with her money. But then I think, would I have gone to school, would I have moved to Vancouver(and returned to Edmonton less than a year later, broke and alone), would I have made similar enough choices to end up meeting Brandon? Then I get really sad there’s another me out there that didn’t end up with an amazing husband, two beautiful cats, and a business we can both be proud of. Or maybe she(I?) did, and they have six cats and have two separate jobs that aren’t anything alike, but they are still happy. Good luck, Earth 2 Danica. Hope you don’t have to worry about lizard overlords.

I have a lot of regrets in my life. Some of them are decades old, some are less than a year. I try my darnedest not to regret anything, but I am not strong enough for that. It’s almost ironic I didn’t get serious about paying off my debt until I could barely afford to.

When I think about my future, it still somehow seems attainable, even with my current financial status. I don’t have large dreams for retirement. I’ve always wanted a small life, and that won’t change when I don’t have to work anymore. I hope that I’m in a position to choose when I retire, that I have some control over my future in the future. I don’t feel that currently, and that scares me. My goal for this year is to get some of that feeling back. I will pay off my student loans, pay off my credit card should I be bringing in enough income, hopefully take a small vacation, get back to being more comfortable financially by having a little bit left over after bills each month, start building my savings again. I don’t think these are far flung goals. I feel they’re attainable, and I’m going to try my hardest to focus on the long term instead of This Exact Moment, which is what my depression wants me to focus on.

My Shopping Ban: Making Sacrifices

Why does feeling good never last?

As much as I’d like to continue celebrating my student loan getting smaller and smaller, my income is also getting smaller and smaller. I’m going to have to make some tough choices very, very soon, and I’m extremely stressed out by that (and everything else). Yes, once the debt is gone, I will have more freedom with my money, but I’m not making a lot right now and most days, it doesn’t feel like it will be enough to get by.

I’ve signed up with four different temp agencies, but am also starting to think I should be seeking a permanent position as well. The store is where I want to be, but it can’t offer me stable income and health benefits like a lot of other places. On top of that, Alberta’s unemployment rate is higher, so I feel as if I’m stealing a job from someone who needs it more because I, technically, already have a job. I hate everything about this situation, and even though I’ve sent out a bunch of resumes, I feel powerless.

Brandon and I are trying to figure out what we can cut from our expenses. Since we don’t go out much anyway, it will have to be things that we usually consider “necessities”. I’m going to look into downgrading our cell phone plan, and cutting even further back with groceries. Selling some of our things will probably be next. I will keep looking for a job. He is too, but I feel his focus should be the store. It’s his dream, and as far as I’m concerned, his store. He is the reason it exists. I hope I can get a job and support our family, so he can focus on making the store as wonderful as I know it can be.

Danica LeBlanc // Twitter