Friday, May 17, 2013

Debt Free Marriage

This picture was taken exactly 10 years ago, almost to the minute. We were young. Blissful. Naive.

Ours was a whirlwind courtship. We got engaged after six weeks of dating. We were married eight months later. We were basically complete strangers just sure we were in love. I can't even remember what made us think that it was a good idea to get married so quickly. We laugh now thinking about how little we actually knew about each other.

During our engagement we both made the commitment to try and live debt free. We both entered the marriage with debt: student loans, vehicles, credit cards...typical consumer debt. We wanted to set our marriage out on the right foot so on our honeymoon we agreed only to spend the cash we had saved and what we had received as a wedding gift, which meant midway through our honeymoon we were eating "Bowl Appetites" made in our hotel microwave and watching really lame movies on cable TV. It wasn't "fun", but it started us off on the right foot by keeping our commitment to living debt free.

It took us several years to reach the point of debt freedom. While we have never been without, we also made sacrifices. We spent one anniversary eating tuna melts at home because we didn't have "extra" money that month. In general, we have not bought expensive gifts for each other for birthdays, Christmas, or our anniversary. The process of us moving in the same direction as a couple has been worth more to our marriage than an expensive meal out or a consumer gift that is soon forgotten.

Having a shared focus in our finances has helped make us stronger as a couple. Now that we are debt free, we are starting to be a little more open to spending money on some "fun" things to celebrate our marriage. But it also means that for now we are still driving our 11 year old van until we can save up enough to pay cash for a newer one. It means that we still make a budget every month. It means we keep a common commitment to stay debt free.

The concept of living debt free carries over into our relationships. I did not want 1 Corinthians 13 read at our wedding. I didn't want to be held accountable for "love keeping no record of wrongs" (surely that's not the correct's in my nature to keep a record of wrongs). My husband is a natural "forgiver." I swear he forgets my faulty actions before I can even say "I'm sorry." I'm much different. It's in my nature to want to hold on to every little hurt, hoarding them for future ammunition. Yet just like it's not easy or necessarily fun to live debt free, it is certainly worth the peace. The peace that forgiveness brings is worth more than gold, silver, or even a new minivan.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Becoming Me

I feel like a bad friend. The kind of friend who just comes around when it's convenient. I've been a little silent on a blog front...and for a few reasons. One is I have been censoring some of my post ideas like "Keep Your Opinion on My Uterus to Yourself". Another reason is I have been working through some perspective issues when it comes to food, weight, activity, and how that all fits into my identity.

A year ago I was at my lowest weight ever. I had accomplished something. As a people pleaser, I felt on top of the world with all the positive comments. And although I said the scale wasn't important and I said my value was more than how I looked, how I looked was becoming the biggest thing in my life. And even though I was at my lowest I was never satisfied with how I looked. Something was always wrong, and I was becoming highly self more than normal.

And then around the holidays I started to gain back some weight. Little by little it was creeping on and I found myself searching for the next magic bullet of the diet world. But I also saw others on that merry-go-round of weight up, weight down, weight up, weight down...going from one perfect "plan" to another in hopes that THIS would be the last one. I wanted off that merry-go-round, but I was afraid of what that meant for my weight.

You could say I was in a bit of a mental/physical tailspin. I had stopped doing any major exercise for a time since I was literally wanting to cry I dreaded the things I "should" be doing. For someone who loves being active, to find myself hating activity was not a happy place to be. I also struggled with my identity. After I lost weight I was ready to define myself as the gal who had always been overweight, finally been able to lose it, and I was going to be the one who kept it off and inspired others to do the same. It was going to be Me.

But I really wasn't liking that Me. The one who was self-absorbed, obsessed with the scale (despite saying otherwise), and a little over cranky with my family if they messed up my eating or exercise. My husband said I was pretty unhappy, although I couldn't see it. I was ready to try "the next big thing" when I came across "Intuitive Eating". Although my introduction to IE was through a fitness magazine that promoted it as a weight loss tool, IE is more about self-awareness that has nothing to do with the scale. I'm learning a lot about myself and by no means am I an expert on IE. I will say that the process is leading to a place of self-acceptance while also seeking health through fitness and nutrition. That may or may not mean weight loss (or weight gain). For me, it has meant improved mental health, a better perspective on the things that are really important in life, and a renewed interest in exercise and nutrition for health having (truly) nothing to do with weight.

I was a little sad to say good-bye to the thinner me. I looked back at pictures yesterday and thought "dang, girl..." But I decided what it took me to get and stay there wasn't worth it. So I'm not going to be the woman who lost weight, kept it off, and inspired others to do the same. I'm not going to be someone I thought others would like based off of cultural stereotypes of beauty.

And I promise not to write about a uterus (mine or anyone else's.)