After two months of working seven days a week non-stop, of churning out brand voice guides and strategies, of working with graphic and web designers, and Skyping with a new client in Tuscany–I was wiped out. Every Sunday I re-enacted study hall with one of my closest friends, and we’d sit on her couch, side by side, taping away in silence. We’d work for hours and sometimes I’d read something aloud to her, something that wasn’t quite working, and it felt comforting to be able to bounce ideas off someone, to feel foolish in front of a friend–better that than your client, right? And we’d lament over the constant stream of emails, conference calls and deliverables, and then we’d feel grateful to have these problems. Because better a storm than a drought. Better to pay your rent than put your rent on your credit card.
To say that I’m far from financially solvent would be an understatement. I’m still paying off six-figure graduate loan debt; I’ve the burden on monthly IRS payments and credit card debt from a time when I cared about such things as designer footwear. And although I buy everything in cash and try to be smart about spending, I’m nervous that I haven’t put anything away from retirement. No safety net exists to catch my inevitable fall.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, about getting my shit together as my accountant has begged me to do, but up until yesterday I’ve been plagued with an irrational fear of no work, no money, and all these bills to pay. So instead of paying down my debt, I sit on savings. Believe me when I say that I know this isn’t smart or rational. I’ve read all the books, watched the shows and once worked with an advisor. My relationship to money has always been fraught, deeply emotional, and I’ve only just become to untangle myself from many unhealthy habits.
For two months of significant labor, I’m collecting a check and I’ve decided to pay off two of my credit cards, bringing down my debt to the level it was TEN YEARS AGO.
Because I’m nearly 40 and I’m really fucking tired of carrying credit card debt.
An old friend reminded me that I have to consistently invest in myself, know that I am the greatest hand I can play and I will get work. I will be able to travel and live simply.
There will come a day when I will no longer shoulder the burden of mistakes made in previous lives.
Until then, cheers to small steps in paying down debt and celebrating with muffins.
INGREDIENTS: Recipe from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, with modifications
1/4 cup millet
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 medium red plums, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Soak the millet in a bowl with 1 cup of water for at least 12 hours. Rinse the millet in a fine mesh strainer and transfer to a small pot. Add 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and allow the pot to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and fluff the cooked millet with a fork. You should have about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cooked millet.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
Mix the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine the orange zest, lemon zest, orange juice, maple syrup, olive oil (or coconut), almond milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the ingredients emulsify.
In another bowl, toss the plums in one tablespoon of flour. This will help keep the fruit from sinking in the muffin pan. Gently stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Fold in the plums and 1 cup of cooked millet.
Divide the batter between 10-11 muffin cups, filling almost to the top. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and the remaining 2 tablespoons of millet. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and cool for 5 minutes prior to transferring to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.