After the past five days, during which I experienced so many emotions that I thought myself manic depressive earlier today, I figured that tonight I should resume sharing my thoughts anonymously via Middle Class Guy. I have not only had a tough week, but a tough month. I have had tough years and sometimes it feels like I have had it mostly tough for forty-six years.
When things aren’t going your way, it seems an easier route to just give up, figure that things are not improving, and that writing for a handful of readers is not really worth the time or effort.
That is why it dawned on me this afternoon that although I enjoy sharing what I have read and what I have learned, it would be hypocritical if I continue writing about improving your attitude and lot in life, while at the same time thinking, “What’s the point?”
I have been trying to utilize much of what I have learned from the hundred or so books that I have read in what I call the Improve Your Life/Become Wealthy/Change Your Way of Thinking genre and the twenty or so that I have described on this blog.
These are the posts that my wife aptly calls “my book reports.” They are, in fact, like book reports with the major exception that for many years I was assigned to write book reports to prove that I read books that I mostly did not want to read, whereas now in my middle age I have been reading two to three books per week and love almost every page of them and cannot wait to share what I have learned with you.
That is how it comes about that I resume my writing tonight with a scattershot of ideas and notions that have been swirling through my brain, but also sharing some thoughts about improving one’s attitude including my own.
Can’t Control Everything
My employer prefers to control things as tightly as possible. While a noble endeavor, it is rarely, if ever, possible to control everything in a town.
I have long since learned that there are many things in life that you cannot control. You can give things your best effort, but you cannot always control what others think, say, feel and do. Sometimes people do not appreciate or like or abide by the rules that you try to enforce or the way that you would like them to behave.
Through my own experience, I have found that I can control my own attitude and effort when it comes to projects that I work on at work and in my personal life.
It took me over four decades to accept that – a long time to learn something important, but reading about it in dozens of books could never replace having lived through it and gaining the experience and knowledge that four-and-a-half decades of life have taught.
A Hard Teacher
Experience is a hard teacher. A challenge or test is put before you, and often you have to learn how to handle it on the fly, and the lessons come afterward.
When it comes to experience and knowledge, you are either blessed to have someone who can advise and guide you through it, like I have had the benefit of about half the time. The other half of the time, you have to learn lessons like I so often have, through the hard teacher of experience and a few hard knocks.
Small in the Big Scheme
Even though my Middle Class Guy family problems seem very difficult and overwhelming right now in April of 2017, I realize that a year or two from now, they may seem insignificant and I may not even be able to remember what they were.
(1) our minivan needed repairs and I had to drop a lot of dough at Car-X over the weekend. We also had to rent a car for three days while it was in the shop; (2) the one tub that we own in our 1.5-bathroom home stopped draining and we went three days (until right now) without bathing. Despite my wife’s and my best efforts, we had to pay a plumber $200 today to get our bathtub and bathroom sink to drain; (3) my employer and I, specifically, were threatened with lawsuit by a small business owner who I have been friendly and helpful to for years due to her purchase of a building that I “talked her into buying” according to her and her lawyer; (4) my bad ankle still kills daily; (5) our son is in a depression now about breaking up with his girlfriend; (6) our old clothes washer died and we needed a replacement ASAP last week; (7) I have to return to the dentist again this Thursday for the filling in my root canal; (8) I have an inoperable vehicle in my driveway that I must look at every time I leave my house; (9) they are changing everything up at work, giving me new tasks weekly and overall just stressing me out; (10) my Toro lawnmower does not like to mow, although I did mow the front yard yesterday.
I could go on about more ongoing problems, but those are the April 2017 ones.
When seeing them listed out, it does strike me that pretty much all of them with the exception of our son’s current disposition could be solved with money, as written in my last post on the book by Needleman, who referenced Money as a great Problem Solver.
Enough cash would fix our house, cars, washer and even shield me personally from a potential lawsuit, instead of just my employer. By the way, the potential lawsuit does not have merit per our counsel.
In the grand scheme of things, these are middle class problems, not life or death problems that many people face. It was far more stressful when our son was hospitalized during the Cubs’ World Series last fall.
April 2017 will cause a major hit to our checkbook, but I hope to come back from that by, you guessed it, more working and saving like us Middle Class Guys must do to make it.
As I have written in my posts on Needleman’s and Hill Harper’s books, I prefer to think of it as an exchange of my energy as an economic developer for the energy of plumbers, mechanics, a new washer, the delivery and installation guys, our corporate counsel, my dentist, my reluctant lawnmower, and other service providers who are expending their energy and expertise on our behalf this month.
I am a very big believer in Perseverance.
When my children are struggling with something, I subject them to a lecture of some sort or another, typically involving my own or another relative’s perseverance.
I remind them of this notion, when it is so easy to forget it. Both of our children have faced and overcome many school-related, band-related, dance-related and life-related obstacles over the years.
We never coined an official family motto, but I always tell them “We [family surname]’s believe in perseverance.” Both of our children are extremely fair-minded, generous, kindhearted children and hard workers. That is what gives me confidence that they will prevail in whatever they pursue, although our son is having a difficult time believing it right now.
If you have never been sued or threatened to be sued, and by somebody whom you have known and liked and worked with for years, it is not a good feeling. Especially because I have done nothing wrong and was simply doing my job, like I have done every day for over two decades and will continue to do.
I do feel bad for the impacted business person, and I still do not really feel any animosity, even though perhaps I should. In a way, I would relish the opportunity to tell my side of the story in court, but I doubt that it will ever come to that. Furthermore, if this person continues accusing me via email and social media, she just might find herself on the receiving end of a lawsuit for slander or defamation.
Either way, it causes a certain amount of stress but I know in the long run that I will come out on top in this case. Why? Because I always, always persevere.
This is Money Smart Week
You have never heard of Money Smart Week? That’s okay, I had not either until last year, when I saw some items about it in a local library.
I had originally planned to write a post for eight consecutive evenings, April 22nd through 29th, about something money or financial-related, but three days passed while I was too busy or stressed out to work on it.
We did have a very nice weekend throughout all this coming and going, attending a musical on Saturday night with our son and our daughter and two of her friends. On Sunday, we attended a major dance competition in a town about fifty miles away all day.
Due to our daughter’s plans for next school year, her freshman year of high school, she will no longer be part of our town’s park district dance company, so that was possibly the last dance competition that we will attend after several dozen over the past five or so years.
If that is the case, I will not miss them.
I am proud to be a Dance Dad, but those competitions are crazy!
There are many more reasons why I was too busy and consumed with other things to post for eight straight days about being smart with money, but suffice it to say that I did not.
Since I do not want to post just about them, I will add here that I thought that the Bulls would sweep the Celtics after crushing them two straight times in Boston. For anyone who watched either of those games, it was clear that the Bulls are a superior team.
Before game 3, they announce that Rondo had his thumb broken in game 2. Game, set and match.
Without a point guard, and believe me the dreck that they run out there does not count as a real NBA point guard, they cannot compete with the Celtics. They are playing four against five at all times, so I do not expect them to win another game.
I was able to enjoy the six championships in the Jordan/Pippen/Phil Jackson years, so what is three or four decades of sucking? I’m a Cubs fan, so I can be patient, but I am not sure how many decades I have left to wait for a Cubs-like rebuilding of the Bulls.
One thing that I know for sure is that it will not happen while Paxson or Gar Forman are involved with the team. Those guys fall in love with every super-tall stiff white spot-up streak shooter that they see.
In case you did not notice, the Nasdaq Composite Index hit a major milestone today, surpassing Nasdaq 6,000, amid a broad-market rally.
The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.70% touched an intraday record of 6,036.02, ultimately, closing up 0.7% at 6,026.
According to Seeking Alpha, one of the dozens of websites that I read regularly and receive updates from, the tech heavy index first passed 5,500 points on December 27 last year and started the thousand-point run from 5,000 on July 11, 2016.
What this means for me is that several of the mutual funds that I hold on my own and my wife’s and my children’s behalf are doing well. Do I think that they will always do well? I do not. Do I think that they might go down? Yes. Will I feel like I lost money when they go down? Yes.
But I am not on the sidelines and have invested for many years and sincerely hope that they continue to do well.
Administrative Professionals Day is tomorrow. After ten years of having an admin person who I did not get along with, my department has been blessed with a very nice, helpful and courteous administrative professional. We call her a Secretary.
We are all pitching in for a gift (I contributed $9 today) and are getting a nice lunch together tomorrow.
The reason that I mention it in this post is that one of the Millennials in our department volunteered to collect the money and pick up the food. He asked me if I want pop with my order, to which I replied the truth, that I do not drink pop, or very rarely do. I told him that I drink about a gallon of coffee every morning, drink water during the day, and an occasional beer at home.
His reply was great, “One to keep me awake, one to help me sleep, and one to keep me alive.” Touche! I also told him that I drink juice at home, but ninety percent of what I drink is coffee, water or beer.
I Can Bathe Now!
As I mentioned in my list of stressors this month, our sink had trouble draining, which my lovely wife remedied through a number of products purchased at Home Depot including Instant Power and a cleaning brush.
After several days and many hours of valiant attempts, our tub would still not drain.
Let me tell you, it is tough and stressful to attend multiple meetings for two days in a professional setting, including a meeting with the Mayor of your town, the Village manager and the Village attorney about a potential lawsuit without having bathed for three days. It is not something that I would advise.
I did take a 30-second rinse this morning, just to scrub my armpits, but I still had not washed my hair or scrubbed the rest of my body since Saturday morning.
Come to think of it, why am I writing this now when I could pour a bubble bath and read for a few hours? It is almost 9:00 p.m. this Tuesday night, the 25th of April in the year 2017 A.D.
Yours truly Middle Class Guy has another book to finish reading, so I can share what I have learned with you as well as taking it into my own heart as I write it.
As they say, everybody can have a good attitude when things are going their way. But what happens when a determined, perseverant Middle Class Guy like you or me encounters a few obstacles?
It is days, weeks and months like this that I remind myself not just to write it, but to live it.