Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A while ago, I wrote my . . .

Five rules for learning to be more independent.

1) Start with something simple like learning how to make your own bed and wash your own clothes. It seems simple but from the evidence available this must be one of the hardest tasks known to humankind. The more you rely on someone else, Mom or maid or life partner to do this simple task the less independence you have. And for me that is the secret of taking control of your finances and your life: to have a sense of independence or rather self-dependence towards whatever faces you.

2) Read, even if its just your daily dose of blogs. My life has been tied to books since I was three and hiding under a blanket with flashlight so I could finish reading a Classic Comic version of the Count of Monte Christo. Being able to make sense out of written material has been my savior many, many times, counting the GRE. Two years after I started teaching I decided to go back and get my masters. In order to score well on the GRE I needed to know my math as well as I already knew my language skills. So down to the library I went where I spent the next four weeks checking out and studying (reading) beginning math, algebra, geometry and calculus texts. I crammed into four weeks a lifetime of ignoring math while I covertly read any literature I could get my hands on. Still, I had confidence that I could read and make sense of what I read. And I did, which was proven by my 1350 total score.

3) Ride alternative forms of transportation to get to and from work. I was thinking about this yesterday as I rode my bike back from Borders books where I had been studying a new book by Matt Bai. I have been riding a bicycle for 40 years. I bought my first one as an adult when I sold my car and moved to within a mile of my new job. The thing I learned almost immediately, and have enjoyed ever since, is that a bike can take you off of the beaten path. It happens both physically, as you choose alternate routes, and mentally, as the routine of riding frees up your left brain for cogitation and rumination while your right brain takes over the guidance system. It great for working out problems and for coming up with new ideas. And as a philosophy it ain't half bad either.

4) Pay all your bills first. This too is tied to independence. Even if it's is just a pittance of what you owe, pay a little on each, use the snowball approach, starve yourself, live without, but pay off what you owe and you guessed it, you are free. Of course, Bobby McGee may have said it all when he pointed out the true freedom is when you have nothing left to lose. But I'd rather be able to say I owe no one.

5) Work no work, no work work. When I first started teaching, I came across this concept in a unit I was putting together about world religions. It struck me then and stays with me now. When work is work that you enjoy, then it really isn't work.

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