My First (and Only) Holiday Venting Post

While my other half and I were driving home from a torturous trip to the laundromat, I was surfing the radio and came across a couple of Christmas carol stations. Like some sort of superhuman reflex, I immediately changed stations. When I was a kid, I used to LOVE listening to Christmas carols. Hell, the first thing I’d do after Thanksgiving was track down which station started playing them first.

Now I can’t stand listening to them; those overplayed songs that you only wish were broken records. As someone in their early 20’s, I’ve really taken on a Grinch-like attitude when it comes to the holidays. Personally I feel it’s for a good reason, but so does anyone else who rebels against the masses.

I stopped making Christmas lists in my early teens. The concept of needs and wants really pushed me to do so, which made it a nightmare for my parents and the rest of my family. Even now I still wait until the last minute before I finally think of something that I need.

To be honest, Christmas is about kids. They shouldn’t be forced into growing up under an iron fist that rules what they can and can’t “want” under the tree. I’m not saying I was brought up like that, but I see many parents today telling kids if something they want is right for them. As long as it doesn’t blow your bank account out of the water, what difference does it really make?

As adults, though, it’s our duty to make sure the “magic” of Christmas is alive and well for kids. This commercialism bullsh*t and pissing contest to see who can put the most presents under the tree is ridiculous. Black Friday? Let’s trample people for $0.29 towels. Just bought an Xbox One? Get ready for someone to follow you and rob you at gunpoint for it.

I’m done with my Grinch rant, but hopefully someone reading this while loading their Amazon cart full of meaningless junk might take a second to realize that we really have lost touch with the holidays. I don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore not because I’m not Christian, but because I don’t find anything merry about this time of year. The holidays tend to bring out the worst in people.

Fight for Your Right to Be in Control of Your Money

Currently I have three outstanding student loans. They rear their ugly heads around the same time every month, and two of the three are entirely manageable ($50/$40 per month). The third, however, is a monstrous private loan that has me by the hypothetical balls and will for the next 15 years. This beast is a monthly $470 payment.

Wanna know the fun part? A $30,000 loan was for ONE year of school. ONE.
$30,000.
One year of school at a PUBLIC university.

Before I go on a rant as to why people wonder why the education system is wrecked, I’ll continue.

I was trying to make my monthly monster payment when I happened to be charged twice. Seeing as I only planned to be charged once (unfortunately), my bank account was about to dig a tunnel to Russia once the mistake was processed. I promptly got on the phone with the loan provider and even though it was after 5 pm, they said it was “processing” and they couldn’t do anything about it. I’d have to go through my bank, they said.

So at 5 pm, I call the bank. “There’s nothing here… we can’t reverse what isn’t charged…” I knew this and they knew this, but it was comforting to know that the loan company could give two sh*ts. The bank rep gave me the phone number to the claims department and said to wait until the payment is posted to contact them.

Fast forward to 8 am this morning. I groggily dial the bank claims number after seeing my account in the negatives. I muttered my problem and explained that the two payments were really supposed to only be one and that I need the charges reversed. He agreed to put a stop payment on the account and I should see it reflected immediately. Very comforting, right?

Next I dialed the loan company and explained that I asked the bank to reverse the charge because it was made in error. I didn’t say their error or my error, just error. The rep became incredibly snotty and essentially told me I was screwing them up, which I just chuckled at. I had confidence in my bank.

A few hours go by and I start to worry. It’s around 11:30 am and nothing has been done with the bank account. Usually they’re pretty fast when they say “immediate”, so I decide to call the bank again. This time the gentleman explained that stop payments can only be placed when you’re expecting a charge. They’re ineffective against charges that are already applied to your account.

Well f*ck…. would’ve been nice to know that this morning, huh.

Anyway, he does something remarkable. He thinks outside the box and comes up with the idea to call the loan company via conference call so he can use his weight as a bank rep to back me up. I think it’s a marvelous idea, so I dialed the loan company and merged the calls. The woman who answered was much more helpful than anyone else I spoke to, and after they talked for a minute, the wonderful wizard of a bank rep managed to reverse the $900 charge on the account. The loan bill was paid correctly via phone, and I can finally breathe again.

TL;DR – If something gets screwed up with your money, don’t be afraid to own up to it and work to resolve it. However, don’t take no for an answer, either. If you get a rep who basically tells you “tough sh*t”, call again or speak to a supervisor.

Oh, and don’t make important calls at 8 am.

25 Things You Don’t Have To Justify To Anyone

Thought Catalog:

This is a must read for anyone and everyone. Sometimes we need a gentle reminder that we are our own person. Always remember to be who YOU want to be, not who everyone expects you to be.

Originally posted on Thought Catalog:

1. Your job. Yes, even if you’re working something that other people condescendingly term “not a real job,” such as retail or service. If you have a job of any kind in this economy, you’ve already won.

2. Whether or not you have debt. If you managed to get out of your education debt-free, that doesn’t mean that your life is a financial walk in the park that you constantly have to be apologizing for. If you are in debt, it doesn’t mean you got a “worthless” degree and now deserve to be shamed for struggling to find work after you were convinced by your school that you were making a good decision.

3. The kind of food you enjoy eating, or why you enjoy eating. (No matter how “uncultured” or “boring” or “gross” someone else might deem your favorite food.)

4. Your decision to have children, or…

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A Question for You!

One of the things I’ve been thinking about for quite a while is the idea of offering custom herbal blends in my Etsy shop. I’m still trying to do a bit of spring cleaning, so I’m looking to get rid of as much as I can.

Plus this would be great for those who know what they want but don’t have the means to go and buy the herbs and combine them.

What do you think?

My New Favorite Meditation Technique

I thought I’d share my new favorite meditation technique. As someone who finds it incredibly difficult to sit still and think of essentially nothing, I came up with this meditation to satisfy my restless mind.

Sit in your normal meditative posture. Clear your mind the best you can and picture yourself sitting beside a gentle stream. Don’t worry about developing a picture in your mind that’s perfect and pristine. Do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up if you’re struggling. Visualization is something that always takes practice.

Lakes2011 (34)

Lakes2011 (34) (Photo credit: bonzoWiltsUK)

Anyway, you’re sitting next to a gentle stream. Focus on the water for a few minutes, just as you would study bird circling overhead or raindrops on a windowsill. Next, visualize placing your finger in the water. Watch as the ripples form a V shape behind your finger. Listen to the noise of the water becoming displaced. Feel free to place your whole hand in, swirling it around.

The untrained mind always seems to recognize the perfect time to interject random thoughts. This is especially true during meditation, and every practitioner has a different way of gently pushing these thoughts away. One of the things I do want to mention is that, again, you’re not supposed to beat yourself up while meditating. There’s a reason why it takes years to master your mind.

If a thought pops into your head during this meditation exercise, visualize it as a leaf falling from the sky. Adjust the leaf’s color to match your thought. For example, if you’re worried about a bill that’s due tomorrow, the leaf would be green to represent money. This helps you acknowledge the fact that the thought is there instead of forcing yourself to push it out of your mind.

English: A fallen leaf floating in a stream at...

English: A fallen leaf floating in a stream at Millfield School, Somerset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once you visualize the leaf falling, picture and landing in the stream and floating away. That’s all there is to it. Some days you might see three or four leaves, and other days it might feel like fall. Either way, this exercise helps me focus on both clearing my mind and recognize what’s going through my head

Hopefully this meditation works just as well for you as it does for me. If you try it, please leave feedback in the comments. :-)