Bible Verse of the Day

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Senior Games

I'm heading out tomorrow to see family and take a 3-day Florida vacation. Today is busy, but I wanted to post how I did at the Kentucky Senior Games, which were Sunday, Sep 16. If you've already seen this information, feel free to skip this post.

I ended up with 5 golds, 5 silvers, and one bronze. Some of those medals are qualified with, "Kentucky gold," etc., meaning I didn't take first place overall, just among KY participants. Which means, in cases like the javelin where I was dead last but was the only one competing from KY, I got a gold medal. So the medals are not a big deal to me.

What matters is that  I qualified in the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m race walk, shot put, javelin, discus, high jump, and long jump for the National Senior Games next June. I'm especially excited about my 100m race, where I had the fun of actually beating someone (LOL) and turned in my best time ever--23.62 sec, or around 9.5 mph (I was second). The 200m makes me even happier--54.64 sec, or a little less than 8.5 mph. I have never done either distance that fast before. None of the rest of my results are all that exciting, but the 100m and 200m make me feel proud.

So, it was a great day where I also had a lot of fun and enjoyed talking with like-minded women my age and older. Tropical Depression Florence stayed away--only a few sprinkles of rain and it wasn't unbearably hot. I won't train all this week, just do normal exercise and enjoy the moment!

Yesterday was a rest day, so today I run myself ragged, metaphorically speaking, to get ready for my trip. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Poor and Middle Class are Still Under the Wheels (Links)

Courtesy of Free-Photos on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.
This blog post will be long on links as we approach the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the bullshit known as the Great Recession, among other names, of 2008.

The Recovery Threw the MIddle-Class Dream Under a Benz

There were those who could recoup their losses and those who could not...

Please note the story of Terry Sadler of Richmond, KY. More and more people are in her position ten years on.

The Banks Changed. Except for All the Ways They’re the Same.

I used to document software used by big banks. I have worked for the Federal Reserve Banks. Banks are emphatically not your friend.

The Next Financial Calamity Is Coming. Here’s What to Watch.

Debt levels are higher than ever. Hackers are a wild card.

Did the Government Bailouts Work and at What Cost?

The short answer is Yes, we avoided financial Armageddon — but at a cost. 

Read. Reflect. Talk about it. And remember in November.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Who, me?

I am an athlete.

I have never said that before in my entire life.

Last night my first-ever pair of track shoes arrived. Today I tried them on the EKU track to see how it felt to sprint in them. Wow! I felt positively propelled.

Yes, they are meant to be two different colors.
I cannot believe this is ME who runs miles, who sprints at track meets, who actually hired a coach to teach her how to throw the discus, javelin, and shot put, and how to do the long jump and triple jump.

I cannot believe that, if I qualify at the Kentucky Senior Games a week from tomorrow (Sunday, Sept 16), I will be eligible to compete at the National Senior Games next June.

Look, I was such a nerd in high school. I HATED gym class. I felt stupid and uncoordinated playing sports. I never felt that way in the classroom, where I shone.

I always liked to walk long distances and to run and jump, but I never thought that was anything special. It's just what kids do when they play outdoors.

But eight days from now, I'll put my practices and training to the test.

I keep waiting to wake up. Surely this is not me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

My Head is on FIRE

I am a material girl. I am not ashamed to admit it. But not in the pursuit of diamonds and luxury. I'm all about pragmatism and I'm hard-headed about numbers. Save now, spend later. "Only boys that save their pennies make my rainy day."

(I had fun blasting this song while driving through my little town earlier today...)

FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) is all the rage. I see bloggers praising quitting your job and retiring once you have enough money to live on for the next 50 years. (Notably, the bloggers doing the praising are pulling down big bucks as famous bloggers, so, consider the source, y'all...)

Let me be clear: I am all for quitting a job you hate and following your bliss if you can do so! As most of us in their 60s and beyond could tell you, life is short. But I find so many of the FIRE bloggers rather clueless on the practicality of FIRE. They are in their 30s and they simply can't envision the day when they can't find another job because they have aged out of the market.

You have to turn 50 or 60 to run into that concrete reality.

I remember those days... basically I could go out and pick a job off the job tree and never, ever worry about periods of unemployment. But these days, after 50, especially in certain fields, doors shut forever. Don't believe me? Okay, go ahead.

I am all for frugality, for fun, for spending as much time as you can with family and friends, for doing only work you love (or at least tolerate well). But Millennials and Gen Xers entranced by FIRE should keep this in mind:

"Just go find another job" if/when you run out of money only works up to a certain age.

Trust me, you do not want to be still working at 67 because you must. Or be 67 and no one will hire you because you are old. Or be 67 and work at a job paying minimum wage that's beating up your body because otherwise you will starve.

Or be 67 and have all your money gone because health care costs were higher than you thought they would be when you retired at 35. As someone who has paid for their own health insurance, it only costs more the older you get. You might be shocked.

Yeah, you're 35, have a family, and think $500,000 that's well-invested will do the job for the next 50 years? Good luck with that. I do mean that. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who makes it work. Maybe you're a market genius and your investments will pay off wildly well. Maybe you will be spectacularly lucky with your health or with life in general.

Most people aren't.

Please, please, for the love of God, if you are considering FIRE and feel cocky about how much you have saved/invested, think again, or at least consider the following suggestions:

  • Find someplace that has a low cost of living.
  • Find something else to do if you truly hate your job that you can do in said location with a low cost of living that still supports you.
  • Be free of debt.
  • Know how to live without all the perks of 21st century life. (If you can't do without cable or a new phone every year, you might not be ready for FIRE.)

Take a look at our country. The trend is to provide less of a safety net, not more, for people in trouble. It's a cold world when you can't pay your rent/mortgage, when your EBT card (food stamps) runs out of money before you run out of days, when you have to get to work but can't afford to repair your beater car.

If you have never been there, you're in for a rude awakening.

FIRE is a fine goal. But know yourself, and be honest about what the next 50 years will cost you to live. I suggest FIRL (Financial Independence, Retire Later) and aiming for a 45-50ish retirement rather than throwing in the towel at 35.

In any case, may you never run out of cake to eat.

Photo courtesy of gorartser on pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

When Failure Feels Like Success

From the memorial created after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, April, 2013
My photo
While reading a friend's blog and enjoying her artwork, I was struck by something she said:

"...reflecting on why in the world I keep putting the energy into applying for these things that have remote chances of success, and realized being awarded a grant or submission to a show is secondary (although lovely) to the necessary hard work of building self-confidence and identity as I am putting my work out there for review. For me, it is this vulnerability of exposure that is the hardest part of being an artist, yet I know it is the only way to keep moving forward." --Michelle Hayden

I have felt this vulnerability in my fiction writing, but I am especially feeling it in my current athletic pursuits.

I am training for the Kentucky Senior Games, something I didn't even know existed until about two years ago. This year, the stakes are high because my dream is to get to the National Senior Games next June, and this is my only shot at it, pretty much. Otherwise, it's wait another two years for a shot. But participating involves the risk of so much failure. So. Much. Failure!

As the man who has been training me in all types of freakin' hard track and field stuff said today, there can be only one world record holder, only one world champion. And someone has to be last, too. (In other words, don't stress about it.)

So, what if I fail? The first 5K I ran, I was dead last (and embarrassed about it). The next race I ran, a 3K, I was second in my age class. Knocked me out. My first medal!

To get to the Nationals I have to battle my injured knee (and my natural dorkiness--I am by no means a natural athlete). And yet becoming an athlete feels so natural to me. I am amazed at how my life has changed since I began running a little over seven years ago in an effort to "lose a little bit more weight." I have more mental toughness. I care less about what others think of me. After all, you can't be a dorky 67-year-old runner and care what you look like while doing so.

I don't know what's going to happen. Training at the moment is painful and difficult because of my knee. I am hugely disappointed I injured myself and haven't been able to heal the problem. Until the Kentucky games, I have to walk a fine line between training adequately and not overtraining, in order to keep from injuring myself worse so that I can't compete.

We all do this, you know--take chances, push beyond comfort levels--and we are the better for it. It doesn't matter what you are doing, or what you are risking--taking a chance, to me, is what makes life worth living. Sometimes you lose in terrible ways, like Rebekah Gregory, who lost a leg in the Boston Marathon bombing, April, 2013. She wasn't a runner--she was a spectator. And yet her trauma inspired her to train for--and run--3.2 miles of the Boston Marathon on a blade prosthesis. She's a winner in my book.

On September 16, I will put myself out there in the starkest way--I will compete in about 10 track and field events, where winning or losing is clear-cut and can be separated by hundredths of a second or by hundredths of a meter. But failure still feels like success to me. This dork loves being an athlete.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

I Went Back on Antidepressants/Tenth Year Anniversary of the Death of Dreams

Image courtesy of creozavr on Pixabay. Creative Commons licensed.

I went back on antidepressants, and it's not helping.

It's not the fault of the antidepressants. They work like a champ on my SAD--seasonal affective disorder. No, it's just that too damn much else is happening in my life. So I'm going to vent. Lucky you!

I post on Twitter under a pseudonym because it gives me some much-needed freedom to say whatever I feel I need to say. I don't abuse others, but I don't hold back when it comes to my opinions or my thoughts about life, the universe, and everything. Yesterday, I tweeted something like, "I think I might have just quit my job."

The reasons why and the story behind the tweet are complicated (still no resolution at hand), but my feelings are shifting all over the place about it. To know why, we have to rewind 10 years.

We are coming up on the anniversary of the day our lives ended, as I used to think of it. My husband's place of business died, Lehman Brothers was told, "no bailout for you," and the stock market began its months-long, extreme crash that killed our investments. I remember feeling like a deer in headlights, watching the approaching disaster, and not able to do a damned thing about it.

I'll never forget Monday, September 15, 2008. The panic had not yet set in. Eventually, it did.

Fast forward to Spring, 2015, and the job I landed. I've been there 3 1/4 years. If I leave, I know I'll feel that old panic about not receiving a paycheck. [OMG! We're going to starve! We'll lose the house!] So I'm feeling panicked about not working again. It's an emotional reaction. We are so much better off than we were in late 2008 that the panic is, honestly, irrational.

But who said emotional reactions were rational?

That unholy mess, plus an insane number of committments, including training for the Kentucky Senior Games for my shot at going to the National Games, and I am feeling an incredible amount of pressure. Nothing in my life feels right. (Except when I exercise, which exorcises demons.)

This, too, shall pass. At least, I keep telling myself that.

Back to work.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I Don't Know What to Call This Post

Nietjuh on Pixabay. Creative Commons licenced.
Don't worry, this is not really a political post. It's more about class blindness and frugality and hungry people. If you consider talking about hunger political, well, bless your heart. The rest of you, bear with me, K?

Sometimes the best way to see the wealth divide in this country is to read what middle-class/up-mid class folks read in their off time. I imagine most of us would include NPR in that class group, right?

Recently NPR posted an article about how to reduce food waste.

"Here's advice from one family who significantly cut back on food waste for three months:
▪️ Plan out meals for the week to reduce excess food purchases ▪️ Know when food is actually spoiled ▪️ Stray from recipes ▪️ Study personal food waste"
Someone on Twitter reposted the NPR link with this rather savage comment:

Or, you could lose your job/income and need to eat everything you have, along with lots of rice and beans. Both have a great shelf life and are cheap as fuck....

These days, I'm probably considered middle class, though I grew up much poorer: I have a graduate degree, I own a home, I have health insurance, I own a paid-off car, I have a decent job, and I can go to the grocery story without flinching too much at the prices or counting my money before I get in the checkout line. (In the past, I have done the latter, however, hundreds of times.)

I live in a state with a high degree of what is called "food insecurity" these days. Nationally, as of 2016, "41 million people struggle with hunger in the United States, including 13 million children and 5 million seniors. A household that is food insecure has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life."

The disconnect between those with plenty--the NPR audience, for the most part--and those who don't have squat really bothers me. When people are hungry, there is no planning meals, there is no "buying local," there is often no using recipes (you just throw crap together, BT, DT), and most of all, there is no "food waste." You eat everything you've got. You're hungry! (Disclaimer: I have been hungry because I did not have enough money to buy sufficient food for months at a time.)

Yes, if you have plenty, don't waste food, by all means. I do my best never to throw anything away. But get out of your own head now and then, and think about what the people down the street might be doing to get by. Yes, I'm talking about the folks who moved out in the middle of the night because they'd been foreclosed on. (Do you cluck over how they ran and that they had a better car than you?) Foreclosure is still a thing. Our neighborhood has one or two foreclosed homes almost all the time.

Give to your local food bank today. Do whatever else you can if your life is bountiful. And, again, if you consider talking about hunger "political," well, bless your heart. Sure hope you don't consider yourself a Christian.

Did I make you angry?