Lots Happening Over Here

Much has happened this last week...

S and I were denied on our co-housing bid! On very short notice, we heard of this co-housing development, toured the construction at an open house, and put our hats in the ring. Honestly, it was an awkward and challenging process, and S and I learned as much about each other and working as team as we did about the community and their requirements and opportunities. The super enticing part of this co-housing development for me was - well, of course living in co-housing, in which you have your own separate unit, as well as share a large common kitchen, common space, and community meals and activities - but also that we could buy in at 2% and work our way up to 5-10% ownership in the LLC. For S and I, who don't have huge savings, this was an exciting avenue for ownership and increased security.

But it was not to be... I found the four people who were current members and "in charge" of the process to be woefully inadequate at group facilitation, as well as just generally not very warm and welcoming. To make it worse, the head guy who started the project and secured the financing, thought he was a *great* facilitator and just generally had a very high opinion of himself.

Additional factors included S and I having a couple of drinks at an event before the first group meeting and S talking a bit too much (which could easily have been managed by a skilled facilitator). It wasn't some drunken tirade or anything, just a little too verbose, which the head guy actually brought up to him at a separate meeting with us (!) and S responded non-defensively and positively. Also, they wanted people of color, as all four of them are white and they want to represent the diversity of the neighborhood. This is positive but also difficult, as the starting group is not diverse.

In any case, I think it's for the best it didn't work out and am hopeful we will find a better situation for us. Part of moving forward with that is clarifying what type of place we want and where we want to be located... complicated by the fact that I may find a part or full-time counseling job in a number of cities in the B@y Area. My business is growing, but I am not yet ready to completely rely on it financially. Overall, an exciting planning process, actually! But some stress, too.

Also, since I mentioned my birthday in the last post, I wanted to share that it was a great day and night! Mani-Pedi was lovely and relaxing, I did a bit of Xmas shopping, as well, and then met S for appetizers and drinks at a fun and surprisingly tasty upscale vegan restaurant, then moved down the street to another cozy restaurant with a lovely ambiance and waitstaff for dinner. Chocolate Pot for dessert - yummm.

I am doing very well with Christmas preparations for Oregon but suddenly here we are - leaving tomorrow morning! Ack! I still have some shopping to do, Zoey needs a bath, and I need to pack! What I have done is make banana bread and cookies, do all the laundry, including Zoey's, and do much of the shopping. So. many. people. to shop for, and I'm once again thinking longingly of the families that pick one person out of a hat or just buy presents for the kids. Ah well, it will be nice on Christmas. Speaking of which, I better get going on my long list for today! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! I will check in again from Oregon...

p.s. S seems to have wrapped his head around being a Dad and a Grandpa (his young daughter - early 20s - had a baby this year), and we have been talking about possibilities... Of course, we need to get through the next phase of his treatment.


Holiday Hustle

December is clipping along... I can't believe my birthday is next week. I made my Christmas shopping list for family, though on reflection, I should probably lower the budget, as my income is uncertain starting in late January. I will get one more full paycheck from the college on January 10th, then will be working a four-day counseling gig in mid-January as part of a math support intersession program. I also will begin receiving unemployment in January, though it will obviously be much less than my regular paycheck.

Good news on the business front: I now have five clients! Yay! I just signed another one on Friday for a two month package. My goal is to increase that number to 10 in the next two months; wish me luck!

I still need to figure out how to plan for dramatic monthly income variations, due to some clients paying for counseling packages up front, then not paying anything for the next couple of months. I imagine part of strategy for managing this is figuring out your average monthly income, then budgeting for that amount. But I also want to have a way to calculate the necessary rate of new clients I need to sign each month to maintain my desired level of income. I can see that will vary depending on whether I am signing clients for four sessions, six, or eight. If I have 10 clients, theoretically I am bringing in 2200+ a month, but most clients thus far are not paying monthly. I'd actually prefer they pay monthly, as I think it through, though of course it's exciting and fun to get large payment sums up front (at least for me who is still new at this). For now, I think I will aim for the number 10 and seek to maintain it. Does this make sense to you business-minded folks out there?

In "holiday event" news, S and I went out to my pre-birthday dinner last night and then to a beautiful and inspiring men's choir concert. S knows one of the choir members from work, and he had a solo, which was fun. The music spanned continents, cultures, and centuries, and many of the songs were in different languages. I found this interesting because when you don't know the words, you appreciate the musicality of the song, aside from meaning - a different perspective for word-oriented folks like me. S liked the Latin songs, and I did, too, but I also enjoyed the German songs. Part of the concert was a sing-a-long with traditional Chr1stmas songs, so we were given a fun chance to do some caroling. The restaurant was okay... took forever to seat us and the atmosphere was loud, but the Spanish tapas food was super yummy.

Lots more events this week: Repub debate on Tuesday with kids xmas shopping beforehand (S is very political and likes to watch all the debates, even though he's a dem, and we like watching them at this cool local theatre with food and drink); my official bday on Wednesday, for which we're meeting for happy hour drinks and appetizers, one of my favorite things to do; and finally S's holiday work party on Thursday at what looks to be quite a nice location in downtown SF. Monday, I have an alternative networking event with a more conscious bent to it... I generally dislike networking events but I'm giving this one a chance and am attending with two friends from my business program. I hope my Introvert can survive all the socializing! ha

My saving grace will be having daytime off on Monday and Wednesday, so I can get some down time. I'm going to get an inexpensive pedicure on Wednesday for my birthday, which will be a nice pampering experience; plus, my shoes for Thursday are open-toes and no one wants to see my feet, as they are!

I hope you are enjoying the holiday festivities and finding down times to rest and escape the hustle and bustle. 


Finances, Fellowship, and Festivity

First of all, I'm happy to report that I am getting some traction with my business! I had my first month of bringing in over $1000 (around $1500) and sold my first 6-session career counseling package. I admit I did the happy dance on that one. If you're willing, please send positive thoughts to keep the flow going.

Then yesterday, S offered to contribute his marketing expertise to help me generate more leads through social media, blog posts, and newsletters. He wants to create a business providing these services to clients, so I am his guinea pig. It's a definite win-win!

In other financial news - hope this isn't too boring - I spoke with my financial advisor friend yesterday, and she is setting me up to manage my money on Quicken, which also has reporting features to help with planning and decision making around how many clients I need to maintain and bring in per month for relative financial stability. This is all new and I'm so grateful for the support.

I still plan to apply to any open part-time counseling positions I find, as well. In fact, I have a lead for the college in Napa where my friend and former colleague works, which I will apply for today.

On the relationship front, S and I did some shopping over the weekend, and he bought me an early birthday present of a fancy, sequined dress and matching sparkly shoes for two upcoming parties: his work Christmas party next week and the NYE party at my family's athletic club in Oregon. We also bought him a very nice lavender dress shirt to wear. I'm excited to attend his work party, as work is an area he has compartmentalized during all of our previous time together. I have never met his co-workers or attended any work functions and am looking forward to seeing that side of him.

We also had a counseling appointment over a week ago, shortly after Thanksgiving. It went okay, though we didn't yet create agreements for how we will handle communication when one or both of us are triggered and tension starts to escalate. I made sure to request that be forefront on the agenda for our next meeting. We did, however, have a vulnerable exchange in which I said I didn't want our relationship to be threatened by these type of conflicts. I want our commitment to be stronger than that, and a bit later (I felt very vulnerable in the meanwhile!), he said he wanted that, too.

Then, last night, after a little bickering where I felt criticized and unwanted, he reassured me that he wants me, that despite things he might prefer were different, he loves me and specifically wants "me." I'm not sure if this is coming across very clearly, but it was a significant moment. He has hesitated in reassuring me during these moments in the past.

Oh, and we bought and decorated a little Christmas tree last Thursday. It's so cute and festive and is bringing good cheer during this darker, colder month of December. S is coming over tonight, so we will have the chance to enjoy it more together. :)