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Cleaning the Slate

60 Weeks of Gratitude-Week 3

My life is in chaos. Jeff has been insanely busy at work, the girls have been insanely busy at school, and I have been insanely busy with my own jobs and trying to keep all the plates in the air. Even though I am worn thin and feel more than a little overwhelmed, I am so grateful for the ability to do it all. My life is incredibly full.

Last weekend we took a family trip as our gift to each other. We spent four days in Times Square in New York City. It was amazing. Everything people say about the bustle of the city during the holidays was in evidence last weekend. The crowds were fantastic. Hundreds of people were crushed together to capture some small piece of the city that never sleeps, and we were part of it. The City did not sleep the entire time we were there. Sirens rang through the night, horns honked, and people shouted on a twenty-four-hour loop.

The girls are old enough to appreciate the magnificence and the shops. We went into Tiffany’s in honor of Audrey Hepburn and Holly Golightly and watched the clerks wipe down the display cases after every person left. We went through Macy’s and when they say it is the world's largest store, they are not kidding. We rode the escalator to the top and walked through all seven floors. I learned that Bel likes high-end bags and shoes. She shared knowledge about Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Gucci as we shopped. Who knew?

Olivia modeled with the mannequins. We went to the tree at Rockefeller Center and were part of the crowd. We did not ice skate. We visited the FAO Schwartz and played the famous floor piano (even though it is not the floor piano from the movie), or rather Bel played the piano and Livi posed as Tom Hanks’ Billy from “big.” We ate cheesecake at Junior's ( and surreptitiously loosened our belts. We visited the 911 Memorial, which felt infinite and inspired silence from us all. We took a ferry to visit the statue of liberty and had a great tour guide who was part actor, part teacher, and part bullshit artist.

We went to a Broadway show. We saw MJ The Musical (, The performances were energetic and entrancing. I left with a new appreciation for the man who had been such a caricature of himself because of the media presentation and his own oddities.

We returned to the Empire State building where Jeff and I got engaged in 2004. It has changed tremendously. My memory of that first visit was the simple act of taking the elevator up, enjoying the view, and coming back down. That is still part of the experience, but now there is a full sweep of security and a bevy of displays and information about the building. It was much more crowded this time but I didn’t mind. The displays added a lot to the experience.

We stood in line one morning for a seat at Ellen’s Stardust Diner ( where the waitstaff sings on their way from “burgers to Broadway.” We also ate at the 810 Deli & Cafe (, a true New York deli, and at pizza joints that had almost no seating and offered their pies by the giant slice. It was different and exhilarating. We took taxis and walked for miles as dusk fell three hours earlier than expected because all of the buildings reached the sky.

I did not observe the rudeness that New Yorkers are rumored to have. I struggled to catch the humor in some of the banter, but that is often true. I expected the crowds to make me crazy but everybody was moving on their way and it wasn’t like being stuck. It was like we were all in our bubbles moving together but apart.

It was a fantastic trip. I am grateful to my husband for being such a great planner. I am also grateful that our trip was paid for as we went and we weren't adding debt.

At the beginning of the year, we set out to get ourselves out of credit card debt. We listened to a lot of financial podcasts this year and learned a lot about the freedom that comes with not having debt. We paid off my car this year and around Thanksgiving, Jeff got an offer on his Jeep that was almost what we paid for it three years ago. It was a hard decision to let it go, but in the end, the benefit was that it would clear all of our remaining credit card debt and take away a monthly car payment and insurance costs for a vehicle that spent most of its time in the garage.

As we get ready to start a new year, we feel like we have a clean slate because the only debt we currently carry is a vehicle and a home. It is a wonderful feeling and we are determined to never carry credit card debt again. I worked two jobs this year, which I enjoy. Even though I am exhausted, I don’t even want to think about giving up either of them. Jeff’s job is sometimes like working three, but he loves his company and the technology he supports. He has a fantastic manager, and management team as a whole, who makes him feel valued and supported. His coworkers are all working for the same goals and the petty jealousies and competition he’s experienced in other companies is not present. He is stressed, and he feels a lot of pressure to achieve success in a territory that has been historically hard to work, but he is steadfast and he is making progress, so I think 2023 is going to be good for him.

I always think about what I want to do differently in the new year. It usually involves eating less and moving more, or some variation on that theme to hold aging at bay, but this year, I think I'm okay. I'm fifty-two and it has been an amazing journey. I don't mind getting older as long as I have Jeff to get old along with me. Getting older has some perks. I have a man who loves me and treats me like I'm awesome even when I'm not. I have kids who will talk to me about what is going on in their lives (sometimes) and will listen when I want to talk about what is going on in mine. I've written seven really good books (one due in 2023) and they will survive long after I am gone. I have two dogs who spend their entire day waiting for my attention. I still have my mom and I talk to her almost every day. I have a brother and sister who are closer to me now than when we were growing up.

I think I am good. This next year, I'm just going to try to keep all those plates in the air. I hope all of you are keeping your plates in the air, too. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2023.


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