Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Though they don't have to be, sacrifices are often extreme - that's why the word "sacrifice" can sound so scary. However, an expensive goal, coupled with living in Midtown Manhattan, can warrant extreme sacrifices.

Renting a $1400-a-month, 200-sq ft apartment - with a bathtub in the kitchen and a bed that is both a couch and dining room table - comes to mind. I mean, I'm sharing a 500-sq ft, 4-floor walk-up, 2-bedroom apartment in Hell's Kitchen with two other girls at a price that trumps home mortgages in North Carolina, but still. I've seen apartments where one could wash the dishes and take a shower at the same time, and it's just not as funny in real life as it was in that one Seinfeld episode.

There are some sacrifices I am going to have to make - or attempt to make - if I am going to have a genuine shot at making my goal to cycle across North America a reality.

1. I love working as an executive assistant in the corporate mecca of Manhattan; however, I may have to consider resigning from a company in which I have enjoyed gainful employment over the past three years if I am not approved for eight weeks of unpaid leave. If the less preferable, but likely alternative is necessary, I'll give my boss a heads-up in advance and provide the company with a 4-week notice in May 2010.
2. I will have to sacrifice my single-income lifestyle and join the ranks of second-jobers this September, which will forfeit many evening and weekend extracurricular activities and the free time that I covet.

1. Save money by eliminating or severely limiting happy hours, dining out, updating my wardrobe, and [gasp] Starbucks. Note to Self: This will be very hard to do in New York City and will require extreme will power.
2. To minimize buying lunch throughout the workweek, keep loaves of bread, peanut butter, protein bars and healthy snacks in my bottom desk drawer at the office; store jelly in the employee kitchen refrigerator. Order food in bulk from YourGrocer.com when possible (e.g. bags of almonds and walnuts, Pure Protein high protein bars, 100-calorie bags of popcorn).
3. Keep Tupperware in my desk to save leftovers when the office caters on-site meetings and take advantage of our company's test kitchen, which leaves out entire dishes for our employees to sample.
4. I left my beloved Equinox at a whopping $139/month corporate rate and began working out in 2008 at Mid City Gym at a significantly cheaper special introductory rate of $299 for the entire year. However, I was recently lured to Bally Sports Clubs by a no-contract, $39.99/month special. I can continue my strength training program and take advantage of Spinning and Fluidity classes ... and though I still miss Equinox's posh facilities, Bally's offers the basic fitness necessities for a budget-friendly price.
5. Change to a cheaper cell phone carrier or downgrade to a cheaper plan.
6. Get a second part-time job to supplement my full-time income after my boyfriend returns abroad for the next overseas professional basketball season in September.
7. Find a reliable tenant to sublet my bedroom in Hell's Kitchen from June 20 - August 9, 2010.

1. Continue to make physical fitness a priority over happy hours, nightclubs and other social activities without necessarily cutting them completely out of my life. When possible, plan ahead for alternate gym off-days if social activities will create scheduling conflicts.
2. Get plenty of sleep as many nights as possible each week (definitely a challenge in NYC).
3. Make distance bicycle training a priority beginning in January 2010.
4. Be picky about what I put into my body, yet enjoy eating a well-balanced diet.

1. My plan is to save enough money to cover my rent for June, July and August without income for most of the summer of 2010 - just in case I cannot find a suitable tenant to sublet my bedroom from June 20 to August 9. The latter would be the ideal situation, which will mean letting go of the OCD factor regarding my space and ignoring the anxiety of returning to a bedbug infestation and curtains that reek of cigarette smoke.
2. Embrace The Great Reset; create more periods of introspection, where I consciously decide between what I really need and don't need - want and don't want.
3. There will be friends, associates - and maybe even family - who aren't supportive of the changes I need to make in my lifestyle or the priorities I need to set and maintain. Ten percent of those people may truly believe that my goal or the sub-goals surrounding it are ridiculous; they are absolutely entitled to think so. But I have to be mindful of the fact that the other 90% are likely intimidated by witnessing determination and discipline that they can't find within themselves. I will need to ignore the naysayers, find a way to laugh with those who don't respect my decisions to consume alcohol less frequently, and make light of the fact that a good night's sleep and the gym are now major priorities.*

It's scary to blog publicly about my goal to cycle across North America without really knowing if I'm going to be able to afford to do it. With current news headlines, I feel simultaneously lucky and selfish that my current major financial concern is whether I can bike across the continent - not about losing a mortgage or being surrounded by civil unrest in a politically-torn nation. But I hope that my appreciation for being in a position where more-than-the-average-is-possible will help keep me focused. And I hope that sharing the ups and downs of my journey will help keep me motivated - even if cycling across an entire continent remains an unfulfilled dream.

In the end, what's life if you didn't get in a little over your head from time to time?

*"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"


Anonymous said...

One thing you might think about is making a sort of registry (like for weddings and babies) for things you need for the tour. And that might also include cold hard cash. You have parents, maybe relatives, your boyfriend and friends who will probably already be planning on giving you gifts for birthday and Christmas. Those add up to a lot of money. If some of them give you gear and/or money toward the bike, etc. it might defray your costs quite a bit.

I also think it's a total publicity op for your company and they'd be crazy not to capitalize on it and support you by giving the time off and maybe even a little financial support.

I'm excited for you!


Katie said...

A gift registry is actually a really good idea ... I'll have to consider it further.

As for publicity for my primary place of employment (job #1), I'm a little weary of seeking corporate sponsorship because we are so inundated with "sponsorship opportunities". And I've never been comfortably directly asking for money.

Thanks for all the ideas, Xine!