Magic Beans and the Ponies

In a purple mood

Our house is never quiet.

Every second propels us forward. Tic. Tic. Tic.

The last 4 years have been an adventure. The last 2 years have been a war. The last 4 months have been hell.

4 years ago beautiful Bean 1 arrived.

2 years ago uniquely determined Bean 2 arrived.

1 year 10 months ago I lost control.

I lost my heart, my focus, my strength, my courage, my determination, my justification, my awareness, my sense of humor, my ferociousness for life, my dreams, my body, my stamina, my joy, my sillies. I lost me. Postpartum depression is no joke.

I spent a year of maternity leave climbing a mountain that popped up out of no where on a beautiful clear day in the middle of the prairie plains.

I returned to work last October and over the last year I’ve reclaimed myself as a professional. I’ve dug deep to be Mom. To touch, to love, to encourage, to laugh, to play, to shake my sillies out in public, to find time for fun, to lower my voice, and stifle the voice in the back my head that wants to filter everything through a deep dark cloud of doubt, anger, fear, anxiety, hopelessness and judgement. I win every day. I get out of bed. I head to work. I do my job well. I care deeply for my colleagues and their work. I go home. I cuddle my kids until they fall asleep, and most nights I also end my day right there and then, amidst a pile of love.

Over the last four years Trent and I’ve tried to figure out what being married looks like; what being a team looks like; what healthy communication sounds like; and what financial stability and fortitude could be.

Money, like so many others, is our stumbling block.  We are, for the most part, a single income family. The money I earn is our money. It pays the mortgage on two houses, it pays insurance on two houses, two cars, and provides personal liability insurance to a certain hubby who may or may not walk the line in his writing. It clothes the kids, pays for utilities,  gasoline, AMA, Netflix, license registration, travel to my parents, interest on credit lines, taxes, preschool, clothing, swim classes, trips to the zoo, presents, craft supplies for an insatiable artsy little boy, dog food, haircuts, clothing, coffee, lunches, drinks before late night gigs, ice melt, repairs at our rental property, repairs at our property, a new furnace, a new power steering system on the car, etc.

Trent’s money is our money. Unfortunately, the arts community still thrives on free. It thrives on providing exposure, opportunity, and fun. It takes advantage of someone’s skills and someone’s enthusiasm to create, and expects that it doesn’t have to compensate in return.

Trent gets asked to participate in a lot of gigs that come with no compensation, but they come with planning meetings at bars, and rehearsals at restaurants, and pre-event discussions at pubs. They take place at locations requiring paid parking. They often take him out of the house for long periods of time, whether for rehearsals, writing or performance. The financial expectations for my husband to be able to participate and contribute to his chosen and preferred art forms are considerable, the least of which is the actual money spent.

There’s a cost to spending money, but there is also cost to each hour my husband provides his skills and expertise for free, and doesn’t compensated for the value he has provided or the time he has had to be away from his family.

It’s a thing. It’s a hard one for me to wrap my head around. I haven’t been able to reconcile how artists take advantage of other artists. Although, purely anecdotally, I can tell you that the people who ask my husband to create for free, who schedule all meetings in locations requiring hospitality expenses, who bail at the last minute after my husband’s been sitting in a downtown restaurant for an hour waiting, are from single or duel income homes with no kids.

So we fight about money, who, when, what, why. What’s the actual cost. How do we demand value for our time? Will there still be work on the other side of saying “I cannot work for free.” What if there wasn’t? How do you attach a monetary value to the things you cannot imagine doing, but what if you don’t?

Four months ago my dad got sick. I’ll get into that more another time. It’s a footnote here. My body has absorbed it all in fits and bursts. The extra trips home, stops for take out, stops for convenience food, stops for kid distracting knick knacks, do-dads, thingamabobs, do-hickies, and whatnots. It’s absorbed it all in exhaustion, weight gain, waves and waves of emotions, and sporadic I want everyone to experience joy spending streaks.

It’s not uncommon, lately, for me to burst into tears over a spilled glass of milk, or a broken egg.

Trent reminds me on the phone he needs to grab some time to workout. Working out is important to his mental health, to him, to our family. I get in a huff “when am I supposed to work out. when am I the priority. ME ME ME ME ME ME!” RAAAAAAAAGGGGEEEE. I end up in the doggy pile of kids and blankets and stuffies, before I ever even think about taking care of me again, and Trent spends 45 minutes in the basement trying to sweat his way through where we are and where we need to go.

Enter Facebook and a sponsored advertisement from Rhino Nutrition and Fitness.

Rewind. Years and years ago when a friend broke up with her then fiance. We bought a Groupon for one month at a gym called Healthy Rhino. She went 10 times. I went 3. It kicked my butt. Money wasn’t a thing for me. My health wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t of concern. Everything hurt. I didn’t go back.

Fast forward to 2017. I tried Fitset for a few months, before the limitations of maternity benefits had totally crippled us financially and I had to quit. Fitset allowed me to reacquaint myself with Healthy Rhino. I went 2 or 3 times. It was wonderful. Kathryn carried my littlest Bean around, Ryan give the older Bean some whatnow and whatfor sass for being a terrible sharer. I realized then I was slipping deeper into the postpartum waters at that time, but hadn’t fully lost touched. I felt alive.

Back to today. To here. To now. I saw the add. Healthy Rhino is now Rhino Nutrition and Fitness. They are at a new location and they had a sponsored add offering a limited amount of opportunities to participate in a 42 day challenge for free.

Free in our world is doable.

Free is possible.

Free is reasonable.

I went to the consultation. I cried. I discussed the extra weight on my body. I discussed not knowing what I weighed, but knowing nothing quite fits anymore, and we can’t afford to replace everything; so I squeeze and I squeeze and I squeeze, and try to be professional and polished and together. Katharine talked about community and accountability. I talked about the loneliness of only existing at work and for the kids, and having nothing left in the tank for anything else.

The challenge includes 3 work outs a week, a nutrition plan, and support.

The catch. You have to bet on yourself.

An impossibly high deposit (a legitimate cost for the time and expertise the staff at Rhino Nutrition and Fitness are providing).

In 42 days if you’ve done all of the things that Rhino staff have asked to document your accountability to fitness, nutrition and participation in the challenge, and have lost 25 lbs, you get your money back. They say they have a success rate over 80%

I wrote my credit card number down.

I signed up for my first weigh in.

I signed a contract.

I phoned Trent:  “I may have done something very bad. Very bad. Or maybe good. I’ll talk to you when I get home.”

I explained. I’m not going to put me first, I’ve proven that, but because I put money down that we don’t have to spend, that isn’t mine to risk in this way, that I should have discussed with Trent first… I have to put me first. I have to do everything possible to meet the target in early January. Because if I don’t put me first, I’m putting my family at risk.

Trent said, jokingly “you could have just bet it on the ponies, but of course we don’t have a track anymore.”

Trent said, “you can do it.”

’cause that’s the way Trent is. I obsess about the extra $11 spent at McDonald’s or an unexpected $5.99 google play purchase. But Trent. Trent hears a big scary sum of money, he sees my fear, he pushes down all of those moments I’ve been critical about smaller sums of money, and says “you can do it.”


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