With the recession, talk of investments has dominated the media. For people who are further along in their careers than I am, I know that the recession has been devastating but being relatively young, I have yet to make any substantial investments in the stock market or in my retirement funds.
When I was in college, my little sister Susan (a savvy business major) gave me some advice I will never forget about making investments and going into debt. She told me that it’s never worth it to go into debt for a car; a car loses value the second it’s driven off the lot. The only worthwhile debts are in real estate and education. (Of course, we were having this conversation in 2005!)
I have yet to make any investment in real estate. I do not yet have the desire to commit myself to one specific place. In fact, in the past ten years (including college), I have lived in eleven different places. In my three years of working life, I moved every summer. Ugh. I have, however, made substantial investments in my education. I went to The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. It was an intense, wonderful place to study. I was surrounded by brilliant, passionate people (and clueless, bumbling tourists) and professors who took a real interest in my education. I went into debt to study at WM, but my investment in my education allowed me to study at the University of Heidelberg (in Germany) for free. In fact, based on my grades and accomplishments, the school awarded me a fellowship, and I got paid to earn my masters in one of the most beautiful cities in Germany (also incredibly tourist-populated–I might have to avoid that for my doctorate).
This summer, I have decided to invest in myself in other way.
I began Day 4 with a trip to the gym for Cardio Kickboxing. I like Kickboxing; I taught it myself in college when I worked as a fitness instructor. However, this was no ordinary kickboxing class–this was Val’s class. Val is like an urban legend in my family; she was working at the gym my mom attended when she lived in NJ over ten years ago, and even now my mom remembers the intensity of her classes.
Well, I ambled cluelessly into Kickboxing to be faced with VAL. We jump roped, we jogged, we punched while holding two pound weights, I kicked my heart out, sliding around in my own little puddle of sweat. I felt awesome. It was like working out with Jillian. I invested in this workout. I had an hour to really give myself something–a heart-pounding, muscle-building intense experience. Being in Val’s class yesterday allowed me to realize that I don’t always push myself. I get to the precipice and pull back. Yes, I have run a marathon and a bunch of half-marathons, but I don’t know if I have seen what I can do. I’ve just done these fitness activities; I don’t know if I’ve done them well. I’m not going to tackle something strenuous during these tumultuous months (or during New Jersey’s hottest summer in 108 years) but it’s something I am going to keep in mind as I move forward.
I made another investment yesterday. I went to see a Registered Dietician. One of my fave bloggers suggests this as an important step in gaining more understanding of our personal weight and nutrition issues. I will speak more about this in a later post, but the real lesson for me for the next two weeks is to make good choices and be in tune with my eating. I am not going to weigh myself or try to lose weight in the next two weeks; I am simply going to eat respectfully and responsibly. (Even minutes after leaving the nutritionist’s office this felt like a challenge when I glimpsed my reflection in a store window, but I think it will be worthwhile. I don’t want to fight for the rest of my life, and I would like to pass down a healthy attitude to my children.)
Type A-personality WIN: I got to check one of my goals off the list!
Actually, I got to check two items off my Spa “To Do List.”
I reunited with some people from my past yesterday.
First reunion: Mrs. Edmunds, my 9th and 12th grade English teacher
Mrs. Edmunds has a special place in my heart. She reached out to me when I was a nerdy, awkward 9th grader and involved me in all kinds of special English-related activities. She helped me to improve my repetitive sentence-structure my senior year of high school before jumping to the big world of college writing. She was a supportive, encouraging, and in many ways motherly presence during my time in high school.
I read Great Expectations the summer before 9th grade. I hated that book. I kept in my mind all through high school and most of my adult life how much I hated Great Expectations and Charles Dickens until last summer, when I picked up my 9th grade copy of the novel off my bookshelf. Out of its pages fell a clipping about Prince William, my high school crush. It had been awhile.
I brought Great Expectations to Grand Cayman last summer, and I devoured it. I was ready for it. I was ready to understand the pain of false hopes and unfulfilled dreams and the pain we experience and cause as we grow up. I was ready to empathize with a character who realizes that our expectations aren’t magically fulfilled, and it can be painful to watch them wither. I loved the book, and as a 9th-grade English teacher myself, I thought it would be fitting to thank my 9th grade English teacher for introducing me to the text and to tell her–after more than 10 years–that she was right. The book was pretty good.
I sent Mrs. Edmunds a postcard from Cayman (after some googling). She answered me via email, and finally a year later, we got together for lunch.
It was fantastic. She still had a project I did in 9th grade on her shelves. I told her how much I still think about her sentence structure advice when I am writing or grading. We talked about our hopes, dreams, and (dare I say it) great expectations as we face the next few years of our lives, though we are in very different places. It was such an honor to be able to say thank you to one of my teachers because I know how thankless teaching can be. Teachers spend hours helping students and then send them off and hope what we did meant something. Well, Mrs. Edmunds certainly meant something to me.
My other reunion was with my neighbors. I used to babysit their daughters when I was the gawky, awkward kid I referenced above. (This isn’t to say that I’m not still gawky and awkward, I just own it now.) Both of their daughters are now in college (one is a rising junior, the other a rising freshman), and I brought over a bottle of wine for some neighborly gossip in their brand new hot tub. Pretty sweet. I think that’s a pretty perfect spa ending for a day.
I am savoring being home.