Sittin' Crooked, Talkin' Straight

Just a Conversation Between Two Friends

Remember when we were kids? I vaguely remember that sweet sweet time in my life when I had no worries and no responsibilities. The one memory that is pretty constant is I did not appreciate the joys of childhood as much as I really should have lol. Guess thats why they say hindsight is 20/20 right?

The best thing about childhood was the ole Routine. Basically a kids life is about the same each and every day. They get up, various things happen *breakfast, getting dressed, getting to school* , once at school typical school politics, lunch, carpool/bus, homework, dinner, bed. For the most part M-F during the school year looked about the same and during the summer or school breaks there were variations, yet each day was pretty much the same.

As my 1st “adult” decision after being dropped off at college, I decided I was done with routines. My life was finally my own! I was gonna get up when I wanted, go to bed when I felt like it eat whatever the hell I wanted. It was my world baby and that’s all that mattered! Looking back on that time I realized I spent much of it flying by the seat of my pants with little to no direction. The funny thing about life is 16+ long years later I have learned the beauty of a good ole “routine“. In fact routines are now my bread + butter. By the grace of a good “routine” I am a functioning adult, running a business,household and basically keeping my sh*t together one day at a time.

Studies show that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so basically each and every one of us are only 21 days from a habit that could very well be the turning point in our lives to be our very best selves.

Steps to Creating a Routine:

  1. Be honest with yourself: Lean in friends because this one was the most hard for me. You have to be honest with where you need to change and take true inventory of yourself and of any current unhealthy habits. Without knowing where you need change there is no way to actually make changes that will help you get where you are trying to be.
  2. Start Small and Build: A very small percentage of people are able to just drop a bad habit cold turkey and be truly successful in changing that behavior. Setting yourself up for success may mean taking 1 habit on at a time. Once upon a time I had a very unhealthy relationship with FRIES. It was terrible. I was literally eating fries 4-5xs a week. I set a goal to only have fries 2xs a week when I started, then reduced that to 1x a week. Now I have fries whenever I feel like it, but the difference is my habit was changed so now I only have fries 2-3x a month.
  3. Set Yourself Up: This one should be easy, do the work that sets you up to be successful. If you know you have an early day, go to bed at a decent time. Know that you get hungry and less focused around 2p, pack yourself a snack. Know that you need to put gas in your car before you even get home (guilty of this, I always say Ill just leave earlier in the morning to get gas and I never do), get the gas so its 1 less thing to worry about. Remember that self inventory we did? Good because that means you are pretty familiar with what needs tweaking and you probably even know the steps you can take to make better habits.
  4. Stop Making Excuses: Habits and routines both good and bad take time to develop. If it takes a little longer to swap a bad habit for a good one, dont make an excuse and give up. Keep trying, keeping in mind that your bad habit is more than likely several years in the making so undoing that would take some time. If you have a set back, dont make an excuse just do better next time. If you decide to stay out all night knowing you have a flight in the morning, own it and do better. Eat a tub of ice cream, dont make excuses and continue to eat badly over 1 mishap. Stop. Making. Excuses.
  5. Make time: A routine is a series of habits that basically happen on auto-pilot. We all have good and bad habits that add and take away from our daily routine. Structure your day in a way that minimizes and eliminate the bad habits while amplifying the good ones. Create time for the things that help you be your very best self. Make time for morning routines, meditation, breakfast, tea/coffee or whatever helps ground you and prepare you for your day. Structure the middle of your day to ensure that you are your most productive self. Meal prepping, grocery shopping, laundry, essential tools for the day are all gathered and readily available. Make time to structure your evening or nights where you are able to unwind and prepare for the next day. Night time routines, meditations, reading, glass of wine, bed at a decent time; whatever helps you settle in for the night.

In just 21 days a habit can form, a string of habits emerge as a routine and a routine evolves into the blueprint that is you. Take some time and do that self inventory to see if there is something that needs a little tweaking. Dont just talk about what needs to change, take action and work at making those changes. A routine can be daunting, heck it can be down right boring. But you know whats not boring? Setting yourself up for success and living your very best life.

If you are like me, you are a grownup who’s father/parent has always taken care of certain things for you all your life. Car buying was one of them. In my life only one other time had I went out and purchased my own car. That was about 5 years ago, after countless issues with my used purchased car from a family member that left me on the side of the road yet again I was completely over it. I went down to the Ford dealership with nothing but a prayer and hope and walked out 3.5 interest, no money down, brand new Ford Fiesta with only 7 miles on it!! You couldnt tell me nothing! Fast forward present date, this car now has several recalls including door hatches that just stop working. Yep! I was driving in my neighborhood when the latch to the door my daughter was sitting next to gave way, releasing the door open WHILE I WAS DRIVING!!

You already know, I was over it once again and found myself looking for a new car. Now the catch is I was just about done with my current car payments and I thought a trade in was the way to go. This is where things get sticky. To my horror I learned I was pretty much upside down in my car. I later learned there are so many people who are in this same stupid situation. Lucky for my Big Little Bro came through with some CLUTCH advise that actually worked. So lean in close my friends time for me to drop these tips!

  1. Know the Figures: Its important and tedious to know all you can in regards to your trade in. Log into your account that you financed your car through and see what the payoff amount will be. Alot of times this number will remain the same for 5-10 days. Next go onto Kelly Blue Book https://www.kbb.com/ and check your cars value. Its important that you are honest with yourself and your cars condition because although the dealership you trade with may not notice or take off for dings/issues here and there its important that you have a realistic idea of your cars worth. Compare the estimate from the site with your payoff amount that you gathered above. If the value of the car is less than what you currently still owe you are considered to be “Upside Down” in your car, meaning you owe more than its worth.

For me this wasnt too bad, hurt my ego more than anything. I was devastated to find out that I was “Upside Down” roughly $1200, which although it isnt alot basically this meant I needed to consider that this $1200 amount would be thrown on top of the cost of the new car + I needed to talk them down from whatever the sticker price was.

2. Come Up With A Number: Now that you have the Figures from above you now have to think about how much you want to spend and for how long.

Knowing what I knew about the $1200 additional cost I would be bringing to the table + the fact I KNEW I wasnt trying to go over my current car note or be killed with interest, yet another #truthmoment. Just for example sake, in a perfect world the dealership would give me the full worth of my car + come down on their original ask + we all walk away happy 🙂

3. Research Cars: The moment we have all been waiting for! Time to get online and take a look at whats out there. There are TONS of cars/trucks/suv’s ect + if you are anything like me too many choices sends my anxiety threw the roof. Its important to go into a dealership already with an idea of what you want because its the sales persons job to get you out of there in a car and they can glamorize a shinny new snail if they needed to. Dont go in open to anything unless you got it like that lol but even then just as any other purchase this day and age there is too much technology not to be a informed consumer.

Remember we were on Kelly BlueBook right? Now that you have your list of cars you wouldn’t mind hitting your city in long term its time to back to that website to compare the cars. There is a great feature that allows you to compare up to 4 vehicles at a time. Plug in your cars and go through a process of elimination based on whats most important to you. In my list I started with 10 cars and by the time I gotten through all the comparing I was down to just 4.

Overall cost was the most important factor to me, followed by size, recalls and overall reviews. Once I had my 4 narrowed down I was able to search Kelly BlueBook to see what cars were within 100 miles of me that fit my needs. When searching for used cars its always a great idea to add “certified” to your search criteria. Certified used cars go through this additional level of inspection to ensure everything is up to standard. One owners, non smokers + none rental were all criteria I added because again, anxiety and I needed that list to come down. Plus if Im spending the money shouldnt I get exactly what I want verse settling for something I dont exactly want? For each of the cars I liked I was able to locate one that was relatively local to me and see their current pricing which I included on my spreadsheet notes. Because this would be my 1st time “haggling” I decided to go into it with the thoughts they would laugh at my attempts to get the price reduced and what the sticker said is what I had to work with. Another thing to consider are the number of miles a car has. Typically a person drives between 10k-12k miles per year so you want to keep that in mind as well as too, if your potential car has high mileage for future use and trade-in ability. For example a 2016 should roughly have 40K miles, 2017 should have 30K, 2018 should have 20k and so forth. If the mileage is way over those numbers then that contributes to decreasing the cars overall value.

4. Seek Out Financing: Something that I never considered is finding financing BEFORE you go to the dealership. Now it is true alot of dealerships will give you a rebate of some sort if you use their financing but dont be fooled. Thats typically $450 which isnt really a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. With alot of banks there is a loan called a “Check Ready Loan”, for the most part these types of loans have better interest rates than what a dealership will give you. The information requested from the banks can vary, from my research they all ask the amount you need, year, make, model you think the car will be, trade in value + number of months you want to pay back. From here they can give you an estimate of your monthly cost all from the comfort of your own home!

What I LOVED most about this is I had full control over how much I wanted to go in debt lol. Its almost like working of the cash system, you know start with $20 on Sunday to last the week and once its gone its gone. Me selecting exactly how much I needed basically capped me out at what I could get which actually played in my favor later. Now mind you, you can ask for the maximum if you want and spend less than what they give, I just didnt want that extra pressure of “oh, with just a few thousand more I can get a newer model” business.

Once you are approve by your bank basically they give you a “blank” check up to the amount you are approved for/asked for. That check is as good as cash, you can literally walk into any dealership and walk out with a car with that thing. Now this next part is the trickiest of tricks. This is the time to pull out your Poker face, Resting B**ch face, Dont F**k with me face. All of the next tips are at the dealership with people who could sell water to a fish, this is not a drill people. Do not go until you are ready to play some motherf*ckin’ ball.

Couple of things to keep in mind about dealerships:

  1. They have Demo/lender cars that they will sale for way less than the cars on lot.
  2. The Sticker Price can ALWAYS be negotiated
  3. When giving offers say OTD (out the door) most all dealership have additional fees they tack on like registration transfer, extra warranty ect. Your offer OTD means this is what Im paying including EVERYTHING. This is my ass heading out the door at this price.

My Experience

With all my research before hand, I basically was set up for success when I drove onto the lot. I already knew the car I wanted from Kelly BlueBook, I knew the cost, what I would offer, my blank check and how much my car was worth. Walked in with complete confidence and asked to test drive. Because I researched if I didn’t like this car during the test drive I had others in mind that I would try. My sticker price was a little less than $17000, so after the test drive I offered $16k OTD including my trade in. The look on the sales man’s face was priceless because he didnt expect me to go that route and he was fully prepared to woo me at a$17k + some since trade-in.

So the dance began, and the haggle process started. The counter to my $16k, was $20500 including trade in, which was a hit to my confidence immediately. I didnt fold though, I countered with $17500 including my trade-in looking the sales man straight in the face I stated either you can do this or not. IF not I would be happy to leave and re-evaluate my options. Another thing about dealerships is they dont want sure money walking out the door. Remember the sticker price is them trying to get the very most of the car they have for sale. They come into the ring swinging high so dont be afraid to swing lower to your comfort zone. What also helped is I knew by looking on Kelly that same car was over priced by at least $2k. At what felt like hours we came to an agreement and they accepted my counter offer including my trade-in and I was still under my blank check amount! I officially talked them down almost $3K plus had them take my old car that was worth a can of beans.

Last week, in a matter of moments my regular Wednesday went from peaceful to stressful. For some reason I continue to check emails throughout the day versus just unplugging like a sane person. In said email it’s bad news. Very Bad News Bears (a saying from my childhood when something went terribly wrong). Ok so in a former life I was in a position in which I had to deliver bad news to employees. The rule when delivering bad news is “the sandwich “, basically sandwiching very bad news between good or decent news. Back to this email, it essentially blasted a bunch of shallow yet good news followed by impending doom topped with another level of “we can do this”.

I dont know about you but I am a spiral-er ( I dont even think thats a word) but basically I have a tendency of working things up in my mind in a manner that drives my anxiety into hyper-drive.  Although this email didnt say anything specific to me per say, I still took its words and created all kinds of drama right in my own head.   I cant be alone in this.  Or at least I hope Im not alone in the fact that I blow these things up in my mind. 

As people, why do we do this? The ole over react/under react song and dance that lead to other self inflicted issues.   Never before my adult life had I suffered from the level of anxiety as I do now.  Mind you its ALL self inflicted in my case.  If there is something to worry about, I find a way to worry about it; if there is nothing to worry about, dont you know I will find SOMETHING to still worry about.

I started to come up with different ways to deal with my stress and anxiety to help me help myself prevent being overwhelmed.  A major turning point for me (minus last Wednesday), is I typically dont check emails after 5pm.  If its after 5pm, in my book thats basically the next day so Ill get to it then.  Another item that brings me anxiety sometimes can be social media. Social media is amazing with the fast information and constant connecting with people but sometimes me scrolling all day can allow energies and information that I cant “unsee” or not react to such as various devastation in the world. With that one I get a little help from this app called Moment, it really helps me be mindful of the amount of time I am spending mindlessly scrolling. But the biggest help with my anxiety has been yoga and meditation—-*if you did a big eye roll here I get it lol*  I use to eye roll at it too until it actually started helping me get out of my own head.  

I challenge all of my WorryWarts, Spiral-ers and Bad News Bears subscribers to find something this week that helps you get out of your own head and unwind.  Something that sparks Joy and brings you satisfaction if possible.  If its a social media break, yoga class, working in your garden or whatever it’s time to stop waiting for that other shoe to drop and just push forward.  One thing is for sure, if you live long enough things will happen good, bad and indifferent whether you worry about them or not so you might as well get some satisfaction out of it while you do this thing so-called life.

 

Its funny how my family was formed, how our paths crossed and we all came to be. After the last few years I have just 1 lonely takeaway…….. this isssh is hard y’all!!! Being blended is HARD, every aspect of it is trying and down right difficult. AND is one of the most hardest things Ive ever done and Ive gone through labor. Having a child from a previous relationship is the most obvious along with the fact that we are an interracial couple, yes those things place strain. But its the other stuff that no one tells you about. Like how you both view money, the fact that your sweet baby girl will become this ticking time bomb of emotions, or the fact the differences and preference of a person could grow and change over the years.

Preferences is such an odd thing isnt it? When I was a kid I absolutely hated tomatoes and mushrooms, today I eat them weekly in some form or fashion. A person never really notices a preference change until after it happens and then most of the time if they really think about it, the preference was more than likely a push from their up bringing. When I was a kid there were plenty of things we didnt eat, try or go to based off my parents preferences. For instance I had never had Sushi until I went to college because Sushi wasnt my moms thing. I mean dont get me wrong we went places where there were Sushi but based on her upbringing she thought that all Sushi was raw fish. She never questioned it, never ventured out to try it and just passed the same preference to us. I, a rebellious child decided from the start to question and try everything LOL.

Living in Charlotte so far from my family has given me many opportunities to update my own preferences on so many things. Drama Tween is a constant changing of preferences from one minute to the next, the Minions (pets) are in their own world with their own quirkiness in the race to be Alpha lol and Husbae is trying his best meanwhile I balance it all.

That being said Blending is HARD but 2019 is the year of me. The year that I be a little selfish in putting my needs ahead at least 3% of the time. It is perfectly fine if we order Postmates 2xs a week, or that it takes me 2 weeks to actually put my clean clothes away. You know why? Well its because instead of folding and putting my things away I went to yoga to center myself. Yep I sure did, and you know what? It probably saved that lady’s life at Starbucks when she messed up my order after I repeated it 3xs. Yep because I was so Zen from yoga, I was unbothered. Instead of making it to the grocery store I took the pets for a run, which helped them be chill for the afternoon and I didnt have to threaten to get rid of them to again.

At the end of the day we all go through constant changes, that can affect our mood, preferences or even interrupt the entire day and thats ok. This is our life to live and story to tell.

The Birth of Sittin’ Crooked, Talkin’ Straight

The idea to start a blog was actually born 5 years ago and like most great ideas, I had every intention on following through with it but life. Life got in the way and I just kept saying,  I’ll do it next week or I’ll start at the top of the month or whatever excuse I could come up with. Those little push backs added up, weeks turned into months, years and here we are 5 years later and I have finally taken the step.  Now mind you, this blog has nothing to do with becoming Insta famous or recognized in any manner like that, this blog now is really me doing something that I *knew* I should have been doing 5 years ago but couldnt follow what my intuition was telling me.  Have you ever experienced that? Knowing that you should be doing something different with your life, career or family but being too worried about the “how’s”? I am terrible at that. If you ask my husband Im sure he will tell you its a control issue, but I get so boggled down on all the steps between point A and point Z that I lose focus on the actual journey to get there.  Everything doesnt always have to be worked out to the “T”, its nice when it is, but lets be honest even in those moments there is always a wrench thrown in the plan that causes you to have to pivot somehow.

That wrench, in Oct 2018 was my very last straw that made me question everything about who I was and who I was showing My Girl (DramaTween) to be. In Oct 2018 after suffering a major pay cut of $5 an hr at my virtual workplace we were informed in a meeting that even more changes could be on the way that would be devastating–I know what your thinking what the hell could be more devastating than losing $5 an hour lol. Im not gonna go into the details about that part, because that part isnt the beauty of this story.  The beauty of this story is that conversation with the team made me for the 1st time in my 34 years question what the hell was I even doing. Now mind you, on the very best days I love my virtual job (dont love the pay as much now) but out of the grand scheme of things I could be doing for money (Ill let you draw your own visuals) this job is nothing to sneeze at by far. I have had the pleasure of working with this company for 6 years, during a time that I was a single parent. This job has provided me with so many opportunities to be present in My Girl’s life as well as work around her schedule and for that I am FOREVER grateful and will never say a bad word (even though they took $5 an hour lol, yes Im butt hurt STILL).

At any rate the conversation in Oct made me question who the heck was I?  My Girl (DramaTween) has wanted to pursue showbusiness her entire life. Seriously, this girl has the guts and balls to dance, sing, act in front of anyone who will listen or watch.  She has been in the spotlight since she was 5 years old with dancing and so forth. I watch her sometimes in disbelief at how aggressively she pursues what makes her happy. I wouldnt be honest if I didnt say at that I was a little jealous that she had a clear idea of who she is and what she wanted and went after it.  I mean we stay up late going over lines, she goes to school 2 hours before the bell for rehearsals and stays sometimes 2 hours after for more rehearsals. Like where did this kid and her drive/determination come from? Meanwhile her mom, working for a company that can make changes at any whim and though she likes her job it isnt that same kind of deep down love passion My Girl has for all things broadway.  I had to be honest with myself. I had been lying to My Girl for far too long. Telling her to follow her dreams, to not take no for an answer and to work hard. All awhile Im over here pushing my dreams off to the next day or week ect. I made a decision, I needed to have that same determination, I needed to not just tell her to follow her dreams but I also needed to do the same and show her.

The day that I came to this realization is the day that something else was birthed inside of me. A tiny annoying seed that I already knew what I loved and what I enjoyed doing, the jig was up I really couldnt bs my way out of this any longer.  Sittin’ Crooked, Talkin’ Straight is exactly what you imagine. When you are really deep in a conversation, no longer bs’in around you tend to lean in into the person you are talking to. Maybe your leg is crossed, but when you mean business you are all up in there eye contact and body language fully engaged with the person you are talking straight with. That’s what you will find here my friend, me leaning into you and being completely honest with the good, bad and ugly.

A day off during the week, no negotiations

Currently I work in a virtual office where I have the pleasure of creating my own work schedule how I deem fit from week to week. Which has been one of the best things for my family, especially when I was a single parent. Up and until that dreaded Oct 2018 meeting this meant I really could have my most ideal schedule that really worked around my family allowing for some amazing Work, Life, Balance.  Now with the changes I still have the pleasure of creating my own schedule from week to week, the twist now is the number of hours available are extremely decreased for my team. Which makes it very difficult to schedule what I would love to have. Now mind you its still far better than going into a brick and motar and having to be there at a specific time and you dont have a say so in when you work.

So fast forward after a few weeks of pulling split shifts between morning and afternoons and some weekends I had had enough!  My household suffered in a way that sometimes I wouldnt be able to have dinner with my family, go to the store or help with the homework because I was working. Also my workouts had started to suffer because I was just drowning trying to keep everything afloat. Something needed to change, I was literally overwhelmed.  I made a decision.

I decided that I needed a day off lol; for so long I would always make sure I had Saturdays off so that would be the day I could spend with my family.  But the gotcha with that is I am an empath, on top of being a Libra with a dash of introvert, who can mimic an extrovert. If you didnt follow all of that, basically I need alone time from time to time to recharge. If I dont get that time and space just to be alone to do whatever, those crazy hectic days become that much longer and I dont do myself or my family any justice. Each and everyone in my household deserves the best version of me and I know how to balance to provide that best version.

Now I know all of that sounded very inspirational and hallmark channel lol but truth be told I didnt come to this conclusion on my own.  I actually found out on a fluke of a chance happening. In another week of scheduling chaos, I found myself off on a random Wednesday. My Girl was at school, husbae was at work and I found myself at home completely alone with the trio (pets) and NOT  working! I took that day to do things I hadnt had a chance to do, like take a nap lol, I went to Pilates, got some Starbucks and read a little in a book that was gifted to me for Christmas. I made it to carpool so early I was able to sit in the car and have a late lunch while finishing my book. By the time My Girl was in the car and husbae was home I was really charged in a way to be my best self.

Now each Wednesday looks different for me on the things I will get done or not on my day off. Some days I meet with friends and have Brunch, or I might catch a movie Ive been wanting to see,I write for my blog or I put on sweats and binge watch something on Netflix.  All I know is making sure I have a day off to recharge myself has really improved my overall mental and physical health. And the bonus of it all is it also breaks up my work week schedule, so nothing but #Winning all around.

Why Pilates?

Since I can remember, Ive always had a plan for my life and what is should look like.  These last 4 years has basically laughed in my face and said f*ck your plans lol. After many setbacks, some self afflicted and most just how the cookie crumbles I am starting on a new journey yet again, but this time with clear direction of who I am verses who I have been told to be my entire life. I have always had a love for fitness in one capacity or another, playing softball for more than half my life from childhood, running on the cross country team in college, and your typical gym rat all and in between.

The summer of 2018 I took a Pilates class and instantly fell in complete love! I love every single aspect whether its Mat, Reformer or Tower, each and every part woke my senses and made me have that deep love of my body again. After months of going and leaving it all on the Mat, I had this sinking feeling this is what I was suppose to do with my life. So I did what any sensible person would do in 2018, I got on the google to research how I could transform my love into a career.  Now mind you by this time in my life I have had ALL kinds of jobs so Ive done the leg work on making a whole lot of money while hating what I do, making a little money and not really hating what I do but not really loving it either. I figured that if I could make even what I make now (yes even with that $5 pay cut) and actually love love deep down in my soul what I do I would be happy.

So the major things I found most surprising about Pilates is its a pretty badass program to go through.  Especially if you go about it the correct way, now Im sure you could go to a chain studio like Pure Barre or somewhere like that and get a certificate after a weekend to teach there BUT to go through the classical training and get PMA certified (this is like top shelf), you really gotta work your butt off.  Im gonna lean in and be honest with you, Ive been to alot of studios and you can clearly tell the difference in instructors that have gone through the rigorous trainings and those that may have gotten a certificate over a weekend bootcamp not to mention the instructors who actually love what they do vs the ones who are just there (and girl I get it, Ive had a ton of jobs that I was just there).

I thought because I lived in a very major city, I mean who has never heard of Charlotte NC? That it would be easy to locate a place to be trained appropriately in my pursuit of all things Pilates. Well, it isnt as easy as it would be if I lived in lets say NYC as far as the traditional classical training goes. In my research I did find that there are a ton of individual studios that offer those weekend certifications which is ok if you are into that sort of thing.  The pro’s to taking that route is if that particular studio is looking to hire you are 1 step ahead of the curve by training with them. The major con to that route is, it doesnt really translate if they are not hiring and you want to work at another studio because 9 times out of 10 they wont take that certification and will require you to go through theirs. So there are a ton of variables and routes a person could take and it really is based on the end goal and what you want out of your training.  

After a ton of research I finally decided on Power Pilates program because of their bases of more Classical training as well as power training. I am very proud to announce that I will be starting my very 1st step and taking certification for Mat I this month. Wish me luck!!