Happy Earth Day! Please do something for the planet today. Perhaps as you go walking, bring along a bag and pick up roadside trash. Feed the birds. Work on a garden or tend to indoor house plants. Enjoy the clouds or blue sky. Don't drive your car. Go for a bike ride, a picnic, visit a park. Take photos of trees, bumblebees, your winter white knees. Realize how blessed we all are no matter where we live, who we are and where our journey has brought us this far.

In two days I will be having a bone marrow biopsy to determine the exact nature of a gene mutation found in my blood. Much like cardiac sarcoidosis, what showed positive is rare, surprising all my doctors. I am hoping for the best but have read up on the worst. I was not going to write about this until I knew more but was encouraged by a certain noder that it might ease my worries. So that's that, for now.

My mother is turning 94 this week; a scattered group of family members will be coming to town. None of them really know what to say but I know I'll be prayed for, my Mom even praying for my doctors. She thinks it's fortuitous I'm having the procedure on what would have been my father's 90th birthday. Fortuitous, that's the word she used on the phone. Great Scrabble word though...

I've been just doing my daily routine with the addition of breaking in some high top gold glittery sneakers I picked out for my birthday as a gift from my sons. Snapchatted them and two people said they were "the most YOU sneakers ever." Just seeing the sneakers makes me smile. The cats don't like them. Watching movies that make me cry and laugh and lust after Al Pacino, Lord Have Mercy! The little things.

Tomorrow is my second interview at the menu company and I am very excited about the opportunity. I'm not sure whether the woman I will be meeting with again had a change of heart, the interview went better than I thought that it did, or perhaps she had a bad day, I did, or it was some combination of personalities that made me feel as if she was probing every job related emotional wound I had on Wednesday. I went to bed early last night and didn't wake up until very late this morning. Or maybe I should say I didn't get up and going until very late today. After I went to the spring I decided to stop at the office supply store and return the bullet journal I had purchased along with a notebook system that looks cool, but is far too heavy to carry around with me on a regular basis. I bought the system because I have tabs for it. Way back when I bought the tabs without realizing they were punched for a particular system, those are now a bust, but they match my pink mini clipboard so all is not lost.

Today I talked to my friend from Nigeria about being very lonely and wanting a romantic connection. We had a really nice conversation and I'm glad we are there for each other. A lot of the people I know who are in relationships have a hard time relating to singles. I wonder if perhaps I was less compassionate to the plight of singles when I was married or in a relationship. I've been thinking about my strengths and weaknesses and what I would need to do to level up in life. One of the things that helps is writing, it is so hard to stop and take the time for personal writing now that I have my computer back. I'm on my tenth chapter of my book, and while that's been fun, I'm afraid I went a bit overboard with that because I was drunk on unlimited time and internet access. Now I'm hoping to get back on track, this is an area that is tough for me, taking breaks from things I love to do the things that I want to be doing. It's the unwillingness to stop an activity that gives me pleasure to do one that will propel me forward, but I dislike doing, and this is pretty much what separates the successful from those who lack it in their lives.

Activity and exercise would really help. Now that I have a computer I can put in a video, but so far I haven't done that either. I don't have the girls this week so I really have no excuse. No job and no kids, no excuses not that those are really excuses either. When I was working that crazy Miller Park job I had to be organized and push through things I didn't want to be doing. I had a better routine because I didn't have the luxury of putting things off until whenever the situation reached an intolerable level. I would really like to take a class, but don't feel as if I have the money. I would like an exercise buddy, but so far haven't made an attempt to find one. I did buy myself an outfit, but as of yet I haven't used it to break a sweat. This is an issue and I know it will make a tremendous difference in my mood and energy levels so now it's either a matter of figuring out why I'm not doing this when I know it would help, or just doing it without getting into why I keep avoiding a beneficial life improving activity.

Since a lot of what I write is how I see the future and would like it to feel, I would like to take a moment to reflect upon my past. The other day I gifted shares of Coca Cola to each of my daughters. I have always imagined being the woman who would gift stock to people and I want to start doing this going forward. I don't feel as if I am in a position to do this now, but I'm going to do this once I get a job. When you work in finance you hear stories of how people made their wealth. I well remember the spry elderly couple who came in at retirement to discuss their portfolio. He worked for the phone company and when AT&T was broken into smaller pieces, he went from tolerably well off to wealthy. Many of the clients a broker I worked for had been or were employees of Sears. It was a cool story, two men, Richard Warren Sears, and Alvah Curtis Roebuck, got together to form Sears, Roebuck, and Company. Somewhere along the way Roebuck was dropped from the name and today the company is best known simply as Sears.

I could have purchased their stock, and perhaps my story today would be different if I had. But to me Sears represented another generation. Sears wasn't a store I shopped at, occasionally I would wander through their, I worked across the street from the mall and could travel their on my lunch breaks, but it never held my interest even if I would buy a thing or two there every so often. I got more excited about it when I learned about their Lands End collection. One year I had the bright idea to buy my children back to school clothes from their uniform line thinking to save myself time and energy on clothes that were well made and sensible. This turned out to be a huge waste of money as my darling daughters thought little of their mother's penchant for sweaters in navy blue and my oldest is probably still traumatized from the hideous plaid jumper I purchased to sit in her closet. But as entertaining as that aside was, I'm proud of myself for doing what I have with my money even though I'm disappointed I haven't made saving and investing a higher priority throughout my life.

I'm really excited to meet with my financial advisor whenever I receive some of the statements he needs to start transferring assets over to Ameritrade. I've never been a fan of men in suits profiting off of others for questionable value, I know how he gets paid, and he's the exception to the rule, maybe because he had a single mom and is really understanding of my plight. Bills clamor for attention and I've given plenty to them. I downloaded the Personal Capital app, I also have Fudget with is designed to help people with budgeting. I got rid of Mint and Clarity as they just weren't working the way I had envisioned that they would. The perfect app may not exist, but I'm impressed with whoever is behind Personal Capital as I feel as if this person understands concepts like cash flow better than some of these other apps. Personal Capital looks and feels more sophisticated than other apps, as you scroll down the list you're taken through what you own and owe with a chart that accompanies your movements.

Their bill tracker is weak and could be much better, Mint didn't allow me to delete bills unless I just couldn't figure out how. After trying to get their attention for support, I gave up on them and deleted the app. Clarity gives you an update on how much you spent which constantly scared me. Had they offered tips on how to save I think I would have done better with them. Fudget is simple to use without being interesting, exciting, or sexy. When I log onto Personal Capital I feel as if I am in charge of my money and in control of my financial future. It takes me back to the days when I worked in finance and heard terms like asset allocation and future projections. With one tap I can view which sectors my investments are in and now I'm realizing that having 77.35% of my money in Financial Services is not the most diversified way to divvy up what I have. Part of that comes from having worked in the industry and believing in it, but I can see the wisdom in diversification and wonder how I've been hurt by having the majority of my eggs in one basket.

Personal Capital offers to review portfolios valued at more than $100,000 and this is one of the things that annoys me about them. It's no secret that the rich get richer in America and this is one of the reasons why. Rather than take a look at everyone who is using this app and taking someone like me who may be open to a conversation about diversification, they're willing to punt on my investments. I think this is a poor strategy because I believe the point of these apps is teaching wealth creation and management. The worse off you are, the more a small improvement will benefit you. It's healthy habits that count whether you're getting the results you want or not. I would rather be poor with healthy habits than very wealthy with worse ones. Perhaps you would disagree and you're welcome to your view, this is mine and I like it. Being able to view cash flow graphs is extremely helpful to me, and in my opinion is one of the areas where Personal Capital really shines. Mint, Clarity, and other apps would do well to mimic what is being done here.

Another thing I think they do exceptionally well is capture your net worth and display it prominently. Every time I log in that number is the first thing I see. Viewing a large number and seeing what accounts contribute which portion to that makes me happy and excited about my financial future. Mint was okay about this, but Personal Capital is stellar, at least from my point of view. I can see people who are less savvy than myself struggling with the app, not because I am some super smart guru, but if you don't have a basic understanding of cash flow, the graphs are going to be less useful to you. The app was designed with people who are familiar with how the stock market works, how money is earned, spent, and taxed, and I like how easy it is to use the app. It would really be cool if it would allow you to pay bills from it like some of the other apps, but as far as a money management tool, I believe it is superlative when compared to everything else I've come across at this point in time, and I'm sorry I don't have a more comprehensive list of things I've tried that haven't worked.

Something that would make all of them better is to allow you to enter debt that isn't linked to an institution or bank. Since I owe quite a bit of money to an attorney my net worth appears to be much higher than it actually is. I don't worry about this because I know the truth about my money, but I know others are in the same position I am, and I would absolutely love to be able to input this number and watch it drop even if I had to manually enter transactions. This would be a completely accurate reflection of my financial health at any given moment in time and I'm going to ask if there is a way this can be done as soon as I'm finished writing this. If I had advice for anyone who may be just getting into this, I would say try a couple things out to see how you like them. Mint was not bad, but it didn't give me the depth I crave. Clarity was even less effective. The budgeting apps are pretty similar in my experience, none of them make me want to dance and sing, what would make them better is if they searched for ways to help you save as in; wow, you could save money on utilities if you did X, or this seems really high for Y, can you negotiate a better price?

Personal Capital rewards simplicity and has helped me realize that having a stack of checking accounts and money scattered across various institutions is inefficient and costly. I can't remember if I mentioned needing to wait for two years to transfer my former 401(k) money. I'm being charged $15 annually just to have the account, rather depressing as a fee when I see that my account is worth less than $4,000 and it was down more than $100 last year. What exactly am I paying my so called advisor for when this is the state of affairs? The guy is a complete jackass who sets up shell accounts and collects money on assets he has done nothing to earn. He's what I worked with and despise, people who have learned how to game the system and pick up retirement portfolios that make them money without them even being willing to answer basic investment questions when a participant dares to pick up the phone and call. I will be extremely glad to be done with him, but I will have to wait until the very end of the year to hit that two year anniversary.

Rather than waste my time and emotional energy getting bent out of shape with him and others of his ilk, I'm choosing to celebrate the fact that I found someone who at least appears to care and has truly helped me view the need for consolidation that has also helped fan the flames of passion I had for investing in the past. Moving has been on my mind and it's taking up a lot of my mental resources. I can feel the anxiety in the pit of my stomach building as I write this. I have choices, stay here and pay the rent, or move and deal with the pain and suffering that accompanies any housing that isn't already strictly gluten free. I need to make a decision and stick with it, fortunately I think that this woman I am meeting with tomorrow is a resource. She gets the big picture and understands how insurance can be more important than salary, which is also a factor to consider when accepting a job. I'm less worried about her paying me what I'm worth than I am getting into yet another situation where the fit just isn't there. Tomorrow will reveal more. I'm excited to see what it brings, for better or for worse, it's at least another opportunity and I'm blessed to have it.

Until next time,


P.S. I really want peanut butter cookies, but I also don't want to run to the store for peanut butter. I feel as if I'm cutting through more of the chase and doing less chasing. I have a better handle on what I want and where I'm going, and have made progress when it comes to self acceptance and the need to change while also respecting the changes I have made and realizing that nobody is perfect and we all have personal failures, struggles, and successes. It was hard to take a break from fiction to write this, but I feel much better than I did. Here's to a new streak, may God give me the motivation and inspiration to continue.


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