Depths of a Year 2020, Week Eight; In Which I Discuss Letters E, F and P

This isn’t the full list of what (if anything) happened in each Depth Year Letter since the beginning of the year, just the ones that are in the forefront of my thinking this week:

E: Exercise and Eating, sustainable:

I have been saying I need to “get back into exercise” for almost nine years haha. I first started exercising and collecting home workout dvds in early 2007, when I was pregnant with Baby #4. Very early in that pregnancy, I realized that the weight from the baby of five years ago was still hanging around – literally hanging over waistbands and things, a look which I really didn’t like. And I knew I would like it even less if I added on the pounds from another sedentary pregnancy. I bought a few dvds at that time, but didn’t get to them because I was sick in the first trimester. Then I was done being queasy and figured that pregnancy was as good a time as any to get in shape.

I started with the beginner workouts I had recently purchased, including a few Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home and some entry-level weight workouts like Denise Austin or Kathy Smith. Then (because I am an obsessive and a collector by nature) when I saw that I liked exercise and that there were sooooo many dvd options, I began to spend most of my online time reading the forums at – and I started buying and trying workouts in just about every genre and fitness level. After the baby was born, pretty much all I did was take basic care of baby/family and think about the best fitness rotations (meaning the elusive “perfect balance” of strength/cardio/restorative). Thankfully I didn’t fall into such paralysis analysis about it that I only planned exercise rather than exercising (I did work out almost daily).

In mid-2008, I got P90x, and it is unbelievable but the blog I kept then is still online and I detail my honeymoon period with Tony Horton in some detail there. I kept up with regular exercise and mostly-healthy eating until I was again pregnancy sick (with final baby #5) in early 2011.

what was in my journals and letterzines in 2008 –
same basic personality, different obsessions haha

Fast forward through the years since then –  I did hold on to a few pounds after Baby #5, but when I started intermittent fasting in 2017, the fat went mostly bye-bye without me exercising much. I have only very sporadically exercised since 2011, and I have felt myself becoming less fit and more prone to injury as I have approached and now passed age 50. I know I need to exercise now, more than ever, and not just for vanity’s sake. But I haven’t been doing it despite that huge dvd collection, and despite high cholesterol and thighs which were never a bit jiggly even into my later 40s, but which are now showing signs of gravity and the lack of squats. And I believe that part of the “A: Attitude, mine” problem is a lack of endorphins I got for years with daily walks, even before I got into “home fitness”.

Anyway, I have been mulling this over and envisioning myself in 10 years if I don’t get active again etc. etc. And then last weekend, God broke into this problem, and for a mere 8.99, dropped into my lap P90x3, which I did not even know existed and which seems to have all the good of the original (including the lovable Tony Horton), but at 30 minutes a workout instead of the hour+ of the originals.

I had already been thinking that I need to treat myself like I am an out-of-shape beginner again, and my plan was to go all “depth year back-to-basics” with the kind of workouts I started with – Leslie Sansone and Pilates (I am happy to report that I was able to complete Leslie’s Walk and Jog no problem, so I am still in better shape than I was in 2007).

But how that ties in with P90x3 is that there is a PilatesX which is exactly the kind of classic pilates (with a Tony twist) I was looking for, (after having recently bought a few new pilates discs that were disappointing). I’m not going to do the P90x3 “program” but I can tell they have reignited my love of exercise, and I am making it different by using resistance bands instead of dumbbells for the first time. I am hoping that has a more therapeutic effect on some long-standing issues in the left side of my body

F: Finances and Frugality:

This is the Letter which has had the most significant “progress”, which is good because it was probably the one in most dire need of it. Here is a reprint of my 2016 zine article “Finally Facing the Art of Money”, which will give you the background up to that time.

read the pdf here

Since then, I have started worrying more about our “financial future”, which could indeed be bleak but need not be if we start thinking about our money differently. My husband owns an established one-man plumbing business that supports our family at this time, but it MUST soon be expanded because we have almost no savings, and my husband is almost 60 and doesn’t feel like he can keep doing the hard physical labor for many more years. It is a resource I am grateful to have, but we don’t exactly know how to “take it to the next level”…which for us is not 7 figures or national renown, but rather just hiring another plumber and getting away from paper invoices.

Where we have made some progress is in our personal finances, because we have started using the You Need a Budget System. Our “net worth” (and it can hardly be called that, I am NOT kidding) when we began it in the last week of January, can only be called pathetic for our age (and our cash value has significantly declined since I wrote the Money article). Especially since my husband does bring in quite a bit more than we “need”. We have had to face how much money we have just wasted through ignorance, lack of forethought, sheer stupidity and also trying to alleviate suffering through retail therapy – but I know that looking at how things really are is the right first step.

Thankfully we have learned to stay pretty much out of the consumer credit card debt cycle – but guess how we learned?  By being IN IT way too deep, several times. I am not going to give a whole overview of the You Need A Budget system, except to say that it is user friendly and seems to be helping us communicate about a difficult topic as well as encouraging us to be more thoughtful about our spending. I like how it works only with actual money that you have and is not forecasting what you “hope to spend” in each category, and it gets you to think about and budget for the MANY (oh so many) categories of real expenses we have that we forget about (life insurance, daughter’s camp fund, etc) just because they aren’t a regular monthly expense.

We have been doing YNAB for about 6 weeks now, and it has been somewhat sobering, but also encouraging – because we are in a better position (in “resources and potential” if not in cash) than we realized when we weren’t paying attention to our finances – so I would like to move forward in that area with (hopefully) more wisdom, and hopefully before a catastrophic economic and societal collapse.

P: Prayer cards, make:

I have not made even one prayer card yet, actually – I have been stuck because I want to make several types of cards, but could not figure out how to integrate them into a deck I can use.

I want to have, in a single deck, cards in these categories (with each card having enough emotional/intellectual/psychological “content” that they will mean something to me- either upright or reversed – when I draw them in a tarot journaling session:

Personal Pantheon of Influences – people who have had a big influence on me but I don’t know them – like Jordan Peterson or author Mary Pipher. Or I do “know them” either online or have known them in real life, but they remain more in the realm of “impersonal mentor influences” rather than friends – like David Zahl or Anne Carlson Kennedy or my high school teacher Fred Lentz. I picture those cards kind of looking like Orthodox Icons but I’m not attached to that idea. 

Cards with important fictional characters: in January I made a Ruth Fisher card, which is not exactly the Queen of Cups or the Empress in Tarot, but is something like those with a bit more Death and Martyr element thrown in. Other fictional characters: Asher Lev. Cadfael. A few other Women of Six Feet Under. Ransom from The Space Trilogy.

the Ruth Fisher card

For prayer cards: in this deck I want to have the closest situations, relationships and people that I will likely be praying for all my life. I’d like for at least some of the art on these to be kind of symbolic, somewhat like the art on my favorite deck of iching cards. (I also would like to make a prayer deck for everyone in our church, but I haven’t nailed down any specifics for that one yet).

The final category I can only call The Archetypes: As an example, in this section there will definitely be a card called The Jew. Sorry if that sounds politically incorrect but I could write many many pages about being a Jew, what I think about “the Jews” and Judaism itself, and in relation to Christianity etc, etc. Other archetype cards: The Garret or Small Hidden Room. The Mistress of the Manor (see the pdf of my money story for a glimpse into that). The Deathbed. And of course, The Fangirl.

The backs of the cards were stumping me, because I can’t be sure I am always going to have the same paper pattern for the back of each category card. I decided that each category would be the same color on the back, not necessarily the same pattern (I love mixing patterns). So since the back of my Ruth Fisher card (as the first of the Fictional Characters cards) is green – the rest of those cards will have backs in the green family. I already have 18 3×4 watercolor paper cards already cut, so I don’t really have any excuse not to start this project. I would really enjoy adding this more personal element to my card readings.