Thursday, March 31, 2011

In Search of Friends

At twenty-nine, I have no friends. I’m not trying to be self-deprecating, just honest.

Planning a wedding is often a reminder of what is missing in my life. So far it has been a very emotional process. Sadly, I won’t have any grandparents at my wedding. I don’t have close relationships with my extended family, so aunts, uncles and cousins will be absent as well. The wedding is a constant reminder of how far away my future stepchildren live, and the high costs of travel point to our frustrating financial and job situations.

There will be no bridesmaids or groomsmen standing up at our wedding. My husband-to-be has a few close friends to invite, but I do not. Traditional wedding events like bridal showers and bachelorette parties either won’t happen at all, or will be on a much smaller scale. My mother had the great idea of a private cooking lesson for a pre-wedding event. I answered “6” when asked how many people might attend but realistically I can’t fill that small guest list.

I think I make a great friend. There’s nothing wrong with me. But friendships from my past have ended or faded and meeting new people is hard.

How do you meet people in your twenties and thirties? My husband-to-be doesn’t drink at all, and I rarely do. The bar scene grew old for me a long time ago. I am not a mother yet, unlike many women my age, so “mommy” groups are out. We’re not religious so there isn’t a church community to pull friends from. I’ve never had a close relationship with my only sister, we’re just too different. My college experience didn’t lead to lifelong friendships – I attended two different universities and was a commuter student the entire time. I don’t take classes or participate in a lot of activities because they cost money that I’m trying not to spend. I’ve made fulfilling connections in online communities, but those friends cannot show up and be present in my real world life.

I work and I come home. My husband-to-be does the same. We’re homebodies and we like it, but sometimes we miss having people in our lives. An exciting milestone such as our wedding makes me want to have people to celebrate with. Life is good and I’m content, but a few genuine friendships would make things even better.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why Ruffled?

I'll try to keep this short and sweet. Why "ruffled?" To start a blog, you must choose a name. A daunting task when you're not sure what direction your blog might take.

Turning twenty-nine was my motivation to start writing, but I didn't want to be limited to one year with a "29" title. I hope to continue writing beyond this first year; although at barely one week in I shouldn't make too many promises.

I wanted to convey how I feel about life lately. Pulled in many directions, and unsure about which steps to take next. I came across "ruffled" while perusing synonyms for "unsettled" and it just fit. I feel ruffled more days than not. Confused, flustered, maybe a little bit crazy.

It's not all serious though. Ruffle is a sweet word. It's fun to say and fun to write. I love ruffles. Ruffles are feminine, romantic, and playful. I wouldn’t mind being described in the same way.

Kerfuffle is a fun word too. Kerfuffle: noun - a disorderly outburst or tumult. I hope to avoid any kerfuffles on my ruffled journey.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Financial Goals

I spend a lot of my time thinking about the future and worrying about all of the money-related aspects of life. Here are my goals for my 29th year:

1. Pay off debt For me, this is student loans. I don't have any credit card debt, but I did at one point in the past. My husband-to-be has some debt as well. My current student loan debt is approximately $8,131.

2. Become financially independent from my parents I need to stand on my own two feet. Having help from family is a wonderful thing, but it comes attached with emotions like guilt and shame. Not to mention I'm 29 and soon to be married - it's time to grow up!

3. Buy a car, the smart way I am lucky to have a free car, handed down from my parents. I would love to buy a used, reliable car in the near future. I'd love to pay for it in cash. Our two older cars make us hesitant to apply for jobs that involve commuting or planning long road trips to visit family. A newer car would improve our quality of life.

4. Build and maintain an emergency fund I believe in anticipating and saving for life's inevitable emergencies. A $1,000 emergency fund would be a great start and I'd increase it over time. An e-fund for me is a sense of security and peace of mind.

5. Increase my income I need a better job, with higher pay. I'd love to put my bachelor's degree to use as well. An increase in income is what will allow my other goals to be reached. No matter how comfortable I am and how much I dislike change, I need to change jobs in the near future.

6. Don't add any new debt Simple enough, right? Keep living within or under my means.

7. Continue learning about money I have learned a lot about finances over the last year. I want to learn more, and I want to continue working on budgeting, saving, being frugal, and spending consciously.

Seven goals. Some I will achieve, some I won't. Paying off $8,000 in debt over the next year (while still underemployed and dependent on my parents) isn't realistic. But the desire is there.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Am I The Only One?

Is anyone like me?
Don’t worry; this isn’t going to be about how 'special' and 'unique' I am. I wish there were more people just like me, so we could get together over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and compare notes.

Is anyone else marrying someone who has been married before?

I know second marriages aren’t incredibly uncommon these days, but I am a first time bride with a second time groom. In the first half of my engagement, I haven’t come across anyone in real life in the same position to swap stories with. Blogs or communities for second wives or second marriages aren’t for me because I’m doing this all for the first time. I don’t have wisdom to spout on married life or an ex husband to deconstruct.

Is anyone else entering step parenthood in a situation where the children are a long, long distance away?

Becoming a step mom is daunting enough; adding thousands of miles only complicates the situation. The (online) world of step parenting seems heavily skewed to the ‘blended family’ side of life, and I’m only trying to blend myself in. I have no kids of my own, yet.

Did anyone else reach age twenty-nine without knowing what their dream job or ultimate passion in life was?

Did anyone take eight, yes eight, years to finish college?

Is anyone else still relying on their parents for financial help, while also feeling incredibly unmotivated when it comes to finding a career?

Financial self-help books don’t often mention the ‘problem’ of financial dependence on one’s parents. And job sites rarely have any sage advice for people who have no idea what they are doing or where they want to go.

Does anyone else not feel like a grown-up yet? When is that going to happen?

I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, and that’s a lonely feeling. Because of my fear of being viewed as “weird” or “different” I’ve realized that I don’t talk about my life. Or I talk about it very selectively, leaving details out that other people won’t understand.

It’s not just about needing advice or help. I’m a reader and a researcher. No matter what stage or phase I am in, I crave information. Graduating college and finding my first job? Google it. Tough break-up or bad roommate situation? Google it. Want a better relationship with my parents, sister, or nephew? Google. Google. Google.

Any time I search for advice on my current positions in life I come up short. I long for similar stories, something that resonates with me personally.

Is there anybody out there like me? Even in a small way? If so, speak up! It would be lovely to have a kindred spirit to talk to.


Friday, March 25, 2011

My 29th Year

Most people probably don’t consider twenty-nine to be a milestone birthday. Turning thirty is more often celebrated (or dreaded, depending on the person), but for me twenty-nine carries more weight. In my twenty-ninth year I will face some pretty significant life changes. In my twenty-ninth year I will get married and I will become a stepmother to two children. In my twenty-ninth year I will change jobs (I will change jobs, I must change jobs), hopefully starting a career. In my twenty-ninth year I will move to a new town or city, or at the very least take concrete steps in that direction.

The ways in which my life will change this year are beautiful and positive. There is a lot to look forward to and celebrate. But in the midst of my excitement and happiness I also feel unsettled, scared, and stretched in too many directions. Simply put – change, no matter how wonderful, is scary. And I am someone who doesn’t always handle change well. Especially not a lot of change at once. I’m easily overwhelmed and not the best multi-tasker.

I am not sure exactly when it began, but in my twenties I became anxious. I worry more than I should and I struggle with negative thinking. My stress manifests in physical ways – tension in my back or shoulders, difficulty breathing, overeating, and worst of all my quality of sleep. I don’t sleep well anymore; some days I feel like I don’t sleep at all. I think too much and I have trouble turning my mind off.

My mind races not only at night lately, but all day long. I constantly obsess over my things like my financial goals and worry about wedding planning. I over think everything from the simple (household chores) to the complex (“what am I doing with my life?”). My desks at home and work are covered in to-do lists and frantically scrawled post-it notes. Even more post-its are crumbled in my purse and stuck to virtually every surface – my cell phone, laptop, iPod, and car interior. I write and re-write lists of things to do, things to think about, things I don’t want to forget. It’s embarrassing. I’ve become a little scatterbrained and have trouble staying focused. On my most negative days I wonder “why can’t I handle life? What am I doing wrong? It shouldn’t be this hard.”

Apparently I’m not alone. Before creating this blog I googled “significance of age twenty nine.” The results of that search directed me to this article by astrologer Skye Alexander. According to astrologers I am experiencing my “Saturn Return.” This can be an unsettling time, where one phase of life is ending and another is beginning. The author claims this Saturn Return marks the end of my youth and the beginning of my productive adult years. No pressure, right? I feel unsettled because I’m struggling to define my life, fit into new roles, and find my way.

I want to learn to embrace change, because this is life. Things aren’t going to slow down or get less complicated as I get older. Life events are not going to happen in single file, one at a time, nice and neat. I won’t always have time to fully adjust to each new stage. Experiences will inevitably overlap and I need to get better at juggling. Starting this blog is a small part of it. As I said in my first post, I hope this blog is a place to put my thoughts to rest.

As unsettled as I have felt lately, I also feel motivated and inspired. I have always loved new beginnings. Brand new school supplies, coming up with New Year’s resolutions, the first signs of a new season. I have always looked forward to birthdays and anniversaries. I love fresh starts, setting goals, deciding who I will be and what I will accomplish, remembering the past while planning for the future.

My twenty-ninth year should be my best year yet … at least until I turn thirty.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome to this Ruffled Life ...

I'm E. I'm newly 29 and I live in Virginia (for now). I love the color grey. From 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday I am underemployed. I am a bride-to-be who will become a wife (and a stepmom) in September 2011. It's time I started writing.

What are my hopes?
I hope this blog reconnects me with my writing self.
I hope this is a place to put my thoughts to rest.
I hope this is therapeutic.
I hope I find my voice.

What will this blog be about?
For now, there are no limits. Love, relationships, marriage. Wedding planning. Career seeking. Becoming a stepparent. Cooking, baking, finances. Crafts, DIY, health, fitness. Things, people and words that inspire me.