Interview: Sí, Se Puede! Yes, I can!
Leslie B., 36, is an HR/budget analyst and a happily married mother of one, who admittedly doesn't have it all figured out but nonetheless has been blazing her own trail with creativity, passion, and purpose. She shares, in her own words, her thoughts on regrets, money, marriage, expectations, finding her flow, and more.
I believe my calling in this life is to be kind and to learn and grow.
I believe my soul is here to evolve and I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing in any given moment. I don’t think I have it all figured out or that I need to. As I have grown older and challenged old beliefs, I finally understand that. I simply can be in the moment, listen to my intuition, and take one step at a time.
I see regret as wanting something to be different than it was/is.
I really just learned acceptance in my 30s. I believe I made the right decisions for me at the time with the knowledge and awareness I had at that time. I am learning and growing no matter the outcome; therefore I have no need for regret.
When I was little (12 and younger), I thought I would be a dancer or choreographer.
I used to make up dances for me and my family. I had this image of being on stage or behind a camera. That was the only image I knew then. Now as I’ve gotten older, I understand that things can look different with the same or even better results. I still see myself as a dancer, but not in the conventional sense. I go to an adult ballet class when I get the opportunity. I do Zumba at least once or twice per week. I blast my Zumba Fitness Pandora station in the kitchen while making dinner and dance around the kitchen with my hubby and son. I learn the latest dances from YouTube. Not too long ago, I did a choreographed routine that my husband posted on Instagram. These dancing opportunities bring me joy. In this reality, I don’t think I could have been happier with the outcome. To top it all off, I don’t have to deal with the pressures that come with the professional spotlight and I will still do all these things plus more for the rest of my life.
I have struggled to overcome societal expectations of having multiple children, particularly in a happy marriage.
There are a multitude of reasons that I chose to have only one child. In the end, the only person that needed to be a part of that decision was my husband. All that mattered was that we were on the same page and we supported one another. You have to be true to yourself and follow your own heart. You are the only one responsible for your choices. I decided early on that I never wanted to look back and say I made a choice based on or for someone else. As my son grows older, I have grown more confident in that decision and in my own skin for that matter. In hindsight, I would not have stressed out as much early on about other people’s opinions. It was a lot of wasted energy for me. I love the life that my family is creating together, and I’m growing as the mother that I always wanted to be.
After I was engaged and got my job in Maryland, my husband and I made the decision to live together a few months before we were married.
We made the decision that was best for us, but I received a lot of push back from my family on the basis of religion and morality. I stressed out a lot about it daily, even through to the wedding. I learned that I have to do what is best for me regardless of other opinions. I do not discount sincere concern. However, people had their chance to live their lives; I need to live my own and be joyful in the process. In hindsight, I would not stress about it. If I could back then, I would have heard the concerns and comments and moved forward wholeheartedly and joyfully in my decision.
I had a drive and a determination to manage my finances differently because of the environment we grew up in.
Money was constantly an issue. I knew there had to be a better way. I learned about minimalism a few years ago. Through educating myself and personal reflection, I found ways to incorporate minimalism in my personal finances. Most people think minimalism is just about getting rid of the clutter and downsizing, but I found it was more than that. It challenged me to dig deeper into what was important to me. As a result, I looked at my budget, focused on what was important to me, and eliminated anything in my spending that did not align with my goals and desires. Consequently, it forced me to get creative. For example, if I wasn’t spending money on clothing, how was I still going to be fashionable? I started thinking outside the box. I would spend money on accessories to enhance what I already had. I would borrow clothing for a special event from family and friends. I received gently worn clothing from family and friends that they no longer wore or could no longer fit. I made sure to incorporate more timeless pieces when I did purchase any item of clothing.
I set 2 financial goals early on for myself:
1. Live within my means. I think it all starts there. If you can’t start there, there is no place to grow from there and you will always be in debt. This is where discipline can really come in handy, but you have to figure out what you’re willing to live with and what you are willing to live without. For me, I rarely eat out during the work week and I regularly cook meals at home. I find free or inexpensive events and activities to participate in with family and friends versus going to happy hours and expensive social events.
2. Pay myself first. Once I really knew how to live within my means, I could start saving any extra money that came along through promotions, extra paychecks, or bonuses. This extra money went towards my retirement savings, emergency savings, and large purchase savings for trips and other planned expenses.
My next financial goal is to invest for the long term beyond my 401K. I am looking to build wealth, especially for the next generation.
I want my son to be able to graduate from college with a clean slate and have resources available to him. Moreover, I want my husband and I to live a long, prosperous life and have the resources to care for ourselves.
I always say find what works for you. We are all unique and have different ways of doing things.
For example, I don’t want a side hustle, at least not right now. I don’t want another job or financial building activity to occupy my time. I understand that it is another opportunity for me to build wealth. However, right now I prefer to find creative ways to cut my expenses, because my priority is to spend time with my son (volunteering at school, helping with homework, playing Uno, playing tennis, etc.) and take time for self-care.
I recharge through daily morning meditation and mindfulness throughout my day.
I love a good nap when I can squeeze it in. I build resiliency through self-compassion and shifting my mental perspective using positive affirmations. Sí, Se Puede! Yes, I can!
I love to read and educate myself through podcasts, books, courses, and webinars. I have also accumulated many life hacks, [which] allow me to be creative in how I operate in my life, and I find my flow in that sweet spot. [Here are a few favorite life hacks and resources]:
Love and marriage – The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman – Touch my significant other (specifically if his love language is physical touch) in a gentle way even in the heat of a disagreement. It reminds both of us that we still love each other regardless of the disagreement.
Parenting –The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary – Practice compassion for myself and for my son. I have been able to learn to see from a different perspective and put myself in his shoes. It has allowed me to break old patterns from my own childhood.
Finances – The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey – Using the envelope system for monthly expenses. I now use cash for most of my everyday purchases and it is a very tangible way to see my physical money coming and going. It challenges me to think again about what I really want to spend my money on.
Health – Learning to Use Positive Affirmations by Louise Hay – Use positive affirmations to shift my thinking. I use affirmations to change my old thinking patterns. It puts me in the habit of saying what I want instead of what I don’t want.
Photo Credit: Kontradict