Emotional Money: An Interview With Maggie Baker, Ph.D.

Until a few months ago, I was under the impression that money was all about math.  I thought personal budgets were the employment of simple equations, stocks were graphs, risks were variables, etc.  I suppose, in the purest sense, I may have been correct.  However, when considering the way money functions in our lives, I was way wrong.

Several months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the book, Crazy About Money:  How Emotions Confuse Our Money Choices And What To Do About It.  A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to sit down with the author, Maggie Baker, for a chat about money, emotions and relationships.

First we talked about money and marriage… and divorce.  Maggie told a (probably common) story about a woman who wanted to rent a house after separating from her husband.  While she was married, the woman allowed her husband to handle all of the finances and as a result, she found herself with a poor credit rating and needed someone more credit-worthy to sign the lease with her.

“…Women leave themselves so incredibly vulnerable if they let their husbands do all the finances.  Because if they do get divorced, they have no credit worthiness and they have to assume his.  And, you know, maybe it’s good, but maybe it’s not.”

In the book, Maggie talks about the different personas around money.  I imagine women who end up in this situation are Money Avoiders- it’s probably much more comforting to turn over the finances to one’s trusted partner.  Unfortunately, such a plan can have disastrous consequences regardless of whether or not a couple separates.

Maggie talked about how the finances are handled in her marriage…

“My husband and I separated our finances.  We have completely separate accounts because there’s enough difference in the way we spend and enough difference in how hard we work.  Even though both of us are very hard workers, it’s really interesting. We work about as hard, but I’m much more vigilant about collecting what I’m owed and he’s not particularly, because he just doesn’t think about money. And consequently he ends up making a lot less. And that’s where money vigilance pays off… He’d go out and he’d wanna buy X, Y and Z and he’s not a spendthrift at all. But, I’m so careful with money… And now, if he wants to buy it, God bless him! It’s great, I love it…  We’ve done that now for about seven years… We keep everything completely separate and he has very little interest in what’s going on with it.  And I like all the things you have to deal with that come with it.” 

I enjoyed hearing about Maggie’s arrangement with her husband.  Separating finances and maintaining independent accountability and responsibility can save a lot of stress in the relationship.  It also allows for a cleaner financial break in the event of a divorce.

We went on to talk about family members we knew and the vast differences in peoples’ attitudes and habits regarding money…

“The most important thing is to have a balanced attitude. To have a certain kind of flexibility about how you handle money, so that you have a golden mean.  So that you’re not too expansive and generous and you’re not too stingy and hoardy.  But, it’s hard because the emotions are so complicated and the learning around money is so complicated. It’s hard to be the golden mean.  Most people are extreme in one way or another and then they get caught up in really bad habits…. I think a lot of people feel a great deal of shame about the level of credit card debt they carry and they don’t want anybody to know that.  But at the same time, I think that people are far more comfortable having a lot of credit card debt.  They figure, ‘Everybody else does too, I’m no different from anybody else.’” 

We talked about parents and the desire to help their children.  I brought up the fact that so many divorced parents feel a heightened sense of responsibility to be the Best Parent They Can Be and yet in many ways, this can prevent some individual growth on the part of the parent as well as the child.  Single parents need to take care of themselves first and foremost, so they can exhibit a complete and whole-hearted example for their children.  Sometimes a parent has to step away from the role of being a provider.  Maggie went on to further discuss a topic she addresses in the book…

“What I see that really scares me is that with this generation, there’s been so much investment in the kids being successful so that they do well at college but then end up coming home.  Which has got to feel like a failure in some way.  And they can’t get a job and here’s this kid that’s been highly nurtured to feel that the most important thing in the world is their success, and nobody’s going to hire them.  And then if things continue to not evolve, then very often the parents step in and out of their own sense of frustration and guilt and feeling like they failed because they can’t help their kid, they may start to raid their retirement money to support the child…  To do more education, which may not really be what’s called for.  So my whole value in what I want to impart to the reader is, take care of yourself, you have to learn to see that you can’t fill in the blanks with money.  And you have a right to hold onto that money for yourself.  Even if it means denying your most loved child.  Because what will help the child much more is to sit down with the kid and help them figure out what they’re going to do.  Not ‘Oh, they’re in pain, I’ve got to provide.’  Especially for women, it’s almost reflexive.  And what do they do?  They spend their retirement money to help their kid out and then when they get old, they have no retirement money and then they’re dependent on their kid, who may have hopefully done well, but still most people don’t want to be in that situation…

There’s a concept in psychology called Self Efficacy, which means that people don’t really develop a strong sense of self and a strong sense of self-esteem unless they feel engaged and empowered through their own effort and through the struggle of effort…. Kids who are given too much don’t have that sense of self efficacy.” 

As the conversation continued, we talked about how emotions and money factor into a divorce, beginning with the costly decisions people make in order to avoid losing money (such as paying a lawyer $10,000 to receive another $5,000 from the settlement of the house)…

“And that’s the whole point of loss aversion, that under circumstances of feeling the pain of loss or the risk of losing money, that people do things that are far riskier than if they’re not feeling that pressure…  And if they’re vengeful in their heart against the person they’re divorcing, then it becomes far more important to hurt that other person than it does to just get out of the situation.  So they’ll spend thousands of dollars pushing their lawyer to do all kinds of nasty things to try to get vengeance and of course it’s never satisfied.  And they’re out a lot of money and they were so blinded they couldn’t not do it.”

Money is a big stressor on a marriage and an even bigger one in the event of a divorce.  What I loved so much about Maggie’s book was the way she pulled away the layers and exposed the emotional aspects and early programming that influences our attitudes about money.  While some see it as a weapon or indication of power, others view it as dirty and shameful.  Think about the judgments we make around the money-aspect of a divorce.  Have you demanded a higher settlement?  Have you offered a higher settlement?  Did you consider your ex to be financially abusive?  Did you agree to let him/her have all the money if only you could have the kids/house/dogs, etc.?

I asked about the effect all of this has on children.  Even the most cooperative parents can’t hide all of their frustrations from their kids.  I wanted to know how such a situation might influence the way children grow up to think about money.  In particular, I asked about the outcome of a “flipped script”— what happens, psychologically, when children go from having two parents who comfortably provide to living in a single-parent home where money is scarce.  Although Maggie couldn’t relate any situations about her current patients, she did share an interesting story about the sixteen-year-old daughter of parents who often argued about money.  In a session with Maggie, the girl confessed that she was stressed about money, because her parents fought about it all the time.  Her parents were surprised to learn their daughter felt this way because the truth was that they had plenty of money and simply disagreed often about how to spend it.  Maggie explained…

“She was picking up their emotionality and not the reality of the fact that they did have enough.  That’s what happens to kids all the time; they don’t necessarily know the reality of money but the pick up the affect.  They pick up the emotion behind it.  If there’s a lot of intensity and negative emotion, then kids, being as narcissistic as they are and thinking that everything is about them, they’ll start thinking ‘oh, what’s wrong with me that my parents are fighting about money?  Maybe I’m too demanding…’  They think that they caused the money shortage or the money fight, just like if they’re getting divorced; they think they caused the divorce.  That’s the most important thing with little kids.  They’re immature cognitively, so they can’t put the pieces together… The steamed upedness is what the kids pick up on, without any facts.  So you either end up with an avoider or somebody who feels that they’re a burden and aren’t worth anything.”

This is important to note, regardless of one’s marital status or bank account balance.  Children are perceptive and they pick up on adults’ feelings very easily.  It’s not enough to simply teach children to be responsible with money.  Part of writing a healthy script is to maintain one’s emotional equilibrium where cash is concerned.  If you’re stressed about money, the kids will be as well, and this might not bode well for that monetary golden mean you want them to attain in the future.

As the conversation wound down, I asked if “money” is a topic everyone should discuss in therapy…

“Absolutely, but nobody does.  Since I’ve been doing this and had this emphasis, I get people to talk about money, but I have to be active in asking otherwise they won’t talk about it.  The only way it comes up in therapy is setting the fee and if someone can’t afford it.  When I was being trained, nobody talked about money.  And yet it’s the number one stress in peoples’ lives.”

After reading the book and considering its content, I have to agree.  Money is important for many reasons.  Understanding how we feel and how we use it is key to understanding a whole new aspect of our lives.  This self-knowledge can help us unlock doors to less stress, better budgeting and financial freedom.  In turn, the result will likely be better relationships, more positive parenting and a more cooperative marriage or separation.

If you’d like to learn more about Maggie, you can check out her web site at maggiebakerphd.com.  If you order Crazy About Money through the site, she’ll send you a signed copy along with a bookmark and a money awareness exercise.

Compassionate Acronyms

Quick, think of the person you dislike the most in the world.  Do you have a name in mind?  Has this person hurt you?  Hurt your family?  Said awful things to/about you?  Did this person lie to you?  Stab you in the back?  Steal from you?  All of the above?

How do you feel when you think about this person?  What thoughts or emotions get stuck on “repeat” when you hear that name?  Are you livid?  Seething?  Broken?  Are you wondering, How could you? Or, Why would you?  Do you feel powerful?  Powerless?  Do you feel hateful?

I whole-heartedly believe that compassion is the antidote to all of those unpleasant emotions.  I also know that, when you’re upset with someone, you don’t want to be compassionate towards them.  And even if you do, it’s freaking hard.

To make this easier, I started using a new trick- it involves turning the person’s name into an acronym.  Wanna try one?

Let’s pretend the name of your nemesis is “Laurie” (my apologies to all Lauries.  This is nothing personal, it’s just an example).  This woman might be your ex, your ex’s partner or your partner’s ex.  She could be a cantankerous coworker or a feisty family member.  And it might be entirely true that Laurie is Loud, Angry, Ugly, Rigid, Immature and Egotistical.  However, that’s not a very compassionate perspective (although it is incredibly easy, isn’t it?).  Let’s be a little more sensitive to Laurie’s predicament and try again.  The next time you think about Laurie, try seeing her as someone who is…

  • Lost (perhaps Laurie is at a bad place and she’s having a hard time finding her compass)
  • Anxious (anxiety is a crippling affliction to live with)
  • Un-secure (maybe she can’t pay her rent or she doesn’t feel loved by her family)
  • Ruined (Financially? Socially? Spiritually?)
  • Ignorant (she doesn’t know the extent of the anger/anguish she’s caused you)
  • Exhausted (like the rest of us, she’s fighting a great battle)

I like this exercise because it shifts the identification from That Person to a person.  No longer is Laurie the woman who [insert crime here], she’s now a human being whose vulnerability we can identify with.  Under such circumstances, the juices of empathy flow more freely.  Thus, we are freed from the animosity that otherwise holds us captive amidst sixty shades of darkness.

“Compassion compels us to reach out to all living beings, including our so-called enemies, those people who upset or hurt us.  Irrespective of what they do to you, if you remember that all beings like you are only trying to be happy, you will find it much easier to develop compassion towards them” -The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

What do you think?  Have you been able to redefine the object of your enmity?  Do you feel any different towards him/her?  Do you prefer another tactic?  Tell me about it…

Do People Change?

Many years ago, I dated someone whom I’ll call “Don”.  He drove a sporty coupe and worked at a grocery store.  Back then, I wore short shorts and had a somewhat catty relationship with his ex-girlfriend.  Don and I ate at cheap restaurants, spent many evenings at the movies and engaged in a lot of “experimental” activity.  We were young and in love and… you get the idea.

Nowadays Don is married with a bunch of kids.  He’s a medical professional and owns a vehicle with four doors.  I’m sure it’s been a really long time since he vomited tequila and macaroni and cheese on someone’s bedroom floor.   Blue eyes aside, he barely resembles the guy who affectionately referred to me as “Boo Boo”.

Did he change?

It would be so easy for me to say “yes”.  I think most would agree, it’s often difficult to recognize our ex as the same person who was our partner.  It’s easy to point to things s/he has or does and assert, “[My ex] didn’t do that/want that!  This is a different person!”

And in some respects, that’s true.  I used to be a lovesick teenager, and I’m not anymore.  There was a time when I wanted to have children, and I don’t anymore.  Once upon a time I uttered the vows of matrimony, and now I’m divorced.  That’s a lot of flip-flopping— yet, I still feel like the same person.  And I think my closest friends and family would agree:  I’m still me.

There’s a difference between doing and being.

What we do changes quite a bit as we adjust to new hobbies and the different roles we play in life.  The Student behaves much differently than The Parent.   The Karate Expert dresses in contrast to The Rock Climber.  Yet, the Student, Parent, Karate Expert and Rock Climber can all be the same person— even on the same day.

And that leads me to being.  It’s easy enough to change what we do but it’s much more difficult to alter who we are.  Thoughtful Introverts don’t suddenly morph into Impulsive Extroverts (at least, not on a permanent basis).  Although they might be caring parents, Warriors don’t become Nurturers at heart.  Such inherent qualities remain with us, regardless of the circumstances of our lives.

There’s also a difference between what we look at and what we see.

To further complicate matters, let’s not forget the filters that our circumstances provide.  How is a warrior perceived by another warrior vs. a nurturer?  Sensitive individuals might cling to brutal offensive tactics when they feel threatened.  If she cheats with you, she’s a goddess… if she cheats on you, she’s a whore.

It’s kinda confusing… but at the same time, it’s not.

Present-Day-Don doesn’t act like the guy I used to frolic with on his college campus.  However, under the surface, Don is still that humorous and highly intelligent individual who loved (loves?) Scattergories as much as I do.

All of this makes me think… it makes me think about the qualities (not the activities) that truly make humans compatible.  It makes me think about the lenses through which we view our partners and our exes.  It makes me wonder what it is we’re looking for when we’re disappointed by what we see in another.

Do you have any thoughts to share?  Reflections on personal experience?  Opinions about whether or not people change?  Please, comment…

Social Media and The Relationship

“[Insert Female Name]: Great friend; greater lover.”

The text above was featured in the AIM Away Message of a friend of mine several years ago. Upon reading it, I remember wondering why he would want to broadcast his sexual escapades (with a mere “friend”, no less) to such a wide audience. Isn’t that the kind of thing guys are supposed to tell their friends over beer in a barroom? Apparently, not anymore. Since that message, I viewed many updates over the years that followed. My friend is now married to the woman referenced above. They have children. And a dog. I’ve seen photos of their family vacations. And it’s kinda funny, because I’ve only actually seen my friend in person about five times in the past decade.

That brings me to the current topic that’s on my mind: sharing the details of one’s life via social media. Methinks this is going to be at least a 3-part series.

While I was married, Facebook wasn’t open to anyone but college students, and Greg and I had “graduated” from the use of Instant Messenger. There was no login code for people to find out what we were doing on the weekends. We enjoyed a very traditional existence, one in which secrets were shared via hushed voices and photos were printed on glossy paper and then either framed or stashed away in a box. We had a close-knit group of friends that we actually hung out with and if something needed to be said, we used our voices instead of our fingers (whoa, I suddenly feel so old). I had no idea that I was experiencing the end of that era.

Ex-BF and I were already together for a couple years before we both signed up for Facebook. At first I got caught up in the constant sharing of status updates, photos, videos, comments, etc. In the beginning, I posted several photo albums featuring myself, ex-BF and the boys. And then I realized, those aren’t my kids and I don’t actually “know” most of my “friends” all that well. At that point, I went on a friend-deleting spree (this was before I had grasped the power of alllllllllll those privacy controls) and I stopped posting pictures of the kids.

As time wore on, I became increasingly sensitive about what I fed my Facebook page. At one point, I read an Eckhart Tolle book and became disgusted with the validate-my-ego nature of the FB Beast. I halted all status updates for a decent period of time and when I did return to posting, most of what I shared was cause-related.

As a couple, ex-BF and I did not publicize our relationship. Neither of us listed a relationship status in our profile. We didn’t post lovey message on each other’s walls. We usually didn’t interact with each other’s threads. We didn’t have to, because we lived together and we talked face-to-face. We even talked in person about what was going on on Facebook. I felt good about the fact that we didn’t publish all of our family or our life activity online. Sure, we were present on the network, but we weren’t all in-your-face about all the details of our lives, especially our relationship. Our Network didn’t know when we had sex, how often we disagreed or what we had for dinner. I liked that. It felt… mature.

Then the relationship ended. My family was obliterated. And now my eyes see things very differently. While it’s true we didn’t flaunt our lives on Facebook, we were still present on Facebook… and we are still present on Facebook. When my marriage broke up, the framed photos were packed in boxes and now they live in my attic. Not this time around. I can’t pack up those images- they’re all out there in a Timeline. Several Timelines, actually. Even if I deleted those memories from my account, there are many others that remain accessible by merely a few clicks and some scrolling. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’d rather pack a bunch of keepsakes in boxes and stow them away.

On one hand, I get the fact that the whole point of a timeline is to depict that which is past. But…does it have to be so public? Does everyone have to see that? Do I have to see that every time I log on? There was a time when it was just my life- and it was normal. Right now it’s evidence of a life I no longer have and that sorta hurts (interestingly enough, the stuff here on the blog doesn’t bother me so much because it was used to illustrate issues larger than myself). Later, the time will come when it’s no longer painful but simply irrelevant. Perhaps then I’ll wonder why my new partner has to share the same spotlight as the old one. I wouldn’t display my wedding pictures again, especially not if they were going to share wall space with images of my new family. In a way, it seems disrespectful to the past as well as the present. (…Not to mention the fact that I’m feeling somewhat possessive of that which is gone. I don’t want to look at it right now, yet I do harbor a desire to keep those memories as mine. I want to reserve the right to visit them on a rainy day…just me. Not my hundreds of friends and friends of friends.)

Is anyone else considering this to the degree that I am? If you’re separated/divorced, how public was your “intact family” (i don’t like that phrase)? Did you set intentional boundaries regarding the publication of images and family details? And how do you feel about that now? Do you prefer to have those outdated images out there? Or would you rather they be hidden from the public view?

Love Lesson From The Dog

Bullygirl’s medical crisis forced me to think about a lot of things.  From the upheaval of emotion and outflow of cash came an influx of inner peace and clarity.  I needed this.  I never would have asked for it, but I needed it.  I’d like to extend my humble thanks to The Universe.

It’s been eight days since I brought Bullygirl home and we are still adjusting to our revised lifestyle.  Read:  she hates me a little bit.  It’s no wonder, really- the doctor’s orders are that she must spend 99.9% of her time in her crate for the next several weeks.  She’s not allowed to romp, jump, play tug-of-war (her favorite game!) or use the stairs…ever again.

“It’s tough love,” the vet told me.  “But it’s for the best.  You don’t want her to have a re-rupture.”

I most definitely do not want to invite any further problems for Bullygirl.  In fact, I already kind of blame myself for her predicament:  I never insisted that she walk nicely on her leash and for years, her neck has been stressed from all that pulling/jerking.  All of this has me thinking…

Love Means Discipline.

Obviously, this is something we all know on some level.  But sometimes we forget.  Sometimes we’re too selfish to perform the selfless act of loving another.  Sometimes, it’s easier to follow our momentary emotions, “go with the flow”, or ignore the present situation, than it is to consider the bigger picture and take a more responsible course of action.  At times, we’re all guilty of this.  While the topic is plaguing me, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts…

  • Love/Discipline means teaching a puppy to obey commands for his/her safety and your own sanity.
  • Love/Discipline means encouraging children of divorce to continue positive relationships with both parents.
  • Love/Discipline means maintaining one’s integrity in the relationship.
  • Love/Discipline means building a ramp instead of risking a re-rupture.
  • Love/Discipline means communicating, even when the subject matter is uncomfortable.
  • Love/Discipline means administering the yucky-tasting medication.
  • Love/Discipline means moving at the speed of the slowest person, so all stakeholders can appropriately adjust to changes in the family structure.
  • Love/Discipline means enforcing house rules even though you don’t see your children very often.
  • Love/Discipline means exhibiting respect for others, regardless of your relationship status.
  • Love/Discipline means taking little ones to the doctor (or the vet) for shots, despite their protests.
  • Love/Discipline means prioritizing.

“She’s so cute!” is never a good reason to do (or not do) anything.  I lacked the self-discipline to train Bullygirl for her own good.  I failed her and there was a price to pay for that.  I feel terrible.  Moving forward, I know better.  And I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue loving my four-legged companion.

Love means discipline.  I’ll add this to the list of other life/love lessons I’ve learned from my dogs… perhaps I’ll write about more of them another time.

What Does That Mean? Married?

A few weeks ago, I entered into a debate on Twitter about the usage of the term “stepmom”.  I questioned the assertion that “girlfriends” shouldn’t call themselves “stepmoms” unless they have the proper paperwork, ie: marriage certificate.

Now, before I go any further, I should note that I always feel somewhat fraudulent when using the S-word to describe myself, given the fact that I’m not married.  However, I still have to ask the question:  what difference does it make?  What does a marriage certificate prove?  That someone paid for a piece of paper?  What does “marriage” mean anyway?

Last weekend, I took the opportunity to discuss the topic with Josh (age 9) after he mentioned several people he knew were getting married.  The conversation unfolded like this:

Me: What does that mean?

Josh:  It means you live together.

Me:  Does that mean Daddy and I are married?

Josh:  No, you need a certificate.

Me: How do you know we don’t have a certificate?

Josh:  You need rings too.

Me:  Daddy and I have rings.

Josh:  But you have to engage first.

Me:  What does that mean?

Josh:  It means someone asks to get married.

Me:  Oh, so you can’t get married if you don’t get engaged?

Josh:  I guess.  And you have to have a big party too.

Me:  A party? I thought all you needed was a certificate?

Josh:  Well, that’s what Mommy and Stepdad did…. I don’t know.  What does it mean?

Me:  I was just wondering what it meant to you.

Josh:  What does it mean to you?

Me:  I don’t know.  I’m still trying to figure it out.

At some point during that discussion, Josh told me that married people can file their taxes together (Why does he know that?).  He neglected to mention anything about the quality of the relationship or those famous vows that we all know so well.  … Or did he?  Actually, he did state that the worst part of his mother’s wedding was when they stood up front and the minister talked.  I thought that was an interesting tidbit.

Personally, I don’t believe that a piece of paper can prove anything about a relationship: not the husband/wife relationship and certainly not the parent/stepparent/child relationship.  When it comes to my own stepparents, I have an emotional desire to refer to my dad’s girlfriend as my “stepmom” and an alternate urge to refrain from using the S-word when describing my mom’s husband.  Again, it’s about relationships; not paperwork.

What are your thoughts?  Does marriage matter?  Why?  Does certification govern the titles in your family?  Does anyone use more creative titles to describe blended family members?

Relationship Reflections: The Crystal Ball Theory

For the first few months that Boyfriend and I dated, everything was perfect. (Well, everything between us, anyway)  I thought of our relationship like a glorious crystal ball in which we could see not only our past and our future  (one can never glimpse the present, it is a fleeting moment), but also ourselves.  I loved the fact that I could recognize the me within the us.  I loved the fact that everything was so clear and so simple.

And then came our first fight.  Despite our best efforts to keep things under control, tempers flared and emotions ran high.  I remember crying in his apartment as the dust settled, thinking that we’d just marred our crystal ball.  Never again would we be so perfect.  Never again would we be able to look at our relationship and see ourselves so clearly. 

Before Boyfriend, I hadn’t considered the Crystal Ball Theory.  Now as I think back to my marriage, I can apply it and see that the “crystal ball” that was mine and my husband’s relationship might as well have been one of those extra bowling balls at a bowling alley.  It was full of holes and scars and gouges that made one question whether it qualified as a “ball” in the first place.  It was heavy and rather embarrassing to carry around.  There was no clarity- the past was a miserable abyss, I could see no future nor could I recognize myself.  Like a used bowling ball, it served as a constant reminder that better options were available if only I’d make the investment.

Since the divorce, the ball has changed.  It’s much smaller now, as it carries less significance in my life.  But it’s also been polished up a bit.  The civility of our separation and the years we’ve spent apart have allowed for some fresh perspective.  Presently I see reflections of the past- the good as well as the bad.  And I can more clearly see and define who I was as well as who I’ve become as a result of our union and parting.  I sense a future as well… a future of friendly yet far-between chitchat, void of any atrocities which were present in our marriage.

I think I’m on to something with this Crystal Ball Theory.  For as long as we maintain any sort of relationship with another person, the ball will mirror the effects of the experience we subject it to.  Relationships fraught with disaster, disorder and neglect will produce the bowling ball effect.  Yet, when people regard each other with respect, care and compassion, the orb retains its shine and clarity.  Healthy relationships are those which comfortably reflect our past, our future and (most importantly?) our true selves.

Now, before someone reminds me that there is no way to predict the future… I know that.  Unfortunately, no relationship is flawless and therefore no sphere is spotless.  No matter how much we prime and polish and apologize, the ball will remain marked.  Those imperfections can have varying effects on an individual- from doubt to determination.  But always, the spots on the globe will leave the future reflections somewhat incomplete.  As always, the best we can do is respect each other and hope for the best.

(Now that I’ve written this, I feel like designing a workbook for myself:  something to keep track of the major crystal balls in my life: the one between myself and Boyfriend… between me and each of the boys… me and my dad… my boss….  Perhaps I should draw the circles or rate them on a regular basis, I should ask “Who am I?” and consider ways to diminish the effects of past conflicts…    …Or maybe I’ll just think about all of that while I make chocolate chip cookies…I was never all that great at art anyway…)