Friday, March 11, 2011

Taxes and the Dentist

I considered whether I should put both Dentists and taxes in the title of this blog entry.
After all might avoid it, with a title like that.
However, I'm here to tell you that neither has to be as bad as you think.

"As you think" being the operative part.

Ben Franklin so famously said:
" In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

I say: "In the world of the self-employed, nothing can be said to be certain except
taxes and medical expenses."
Self-employed taxes are high (we get charged a lot), complicated (oh the boxes of receipts to enter into the computer every March, or, eeks! April), and expensive (either pay someone to do it all for you or pay someone to check your work for you and do the paperwork yourself - pricey, regardless).
And medical expenses? A lot of the same - unless you have insurance (which, even if you have it, costs a pretty penny without a company plan to cover you at least partly): pricey, a lot of paperwork and complicated. Worse, there are places to help you with payment plans, and some docs are kind about docking off a percentage if you have no insurance, but mostly you are on your own - there no CPA's of the medical bill world.

So you can understand why, in the six years I've been self-employed, I have put off my terribly complicated taxes until (usually) the last minute, and I haven't been to a dentist for the same amount of time, though I had a (relatively) nice experience the last time I went and got work done. In fact, I wrote about it here. And here's another nice wise writing from that same era, this time about getting a lot of expensive and difficult chiropractic care with no insurance. Besides the normal discomfort of dentist (even with meditation practice), there's the payment factor; besides the normal dread of taxes (quite an old human habit) there's all that extra work.

This year, I did my taxes in medium time - not last minute but not first thing. I waited for just the right day, and today was it. Why?
Because I finally went to the dentist today for the first time since that blog entry I linked to above. Why?
Because Groupon made it cheap and easy to go to a fun west-sider dentist, with massaging chairs and nice quiet dental assistants, and get the cleaning done. The Groupon was for half-off, so a $120 cleaning cost $60. It was such a steal I got one for Dylan, too, who hadn't been in forever (let's just say, much longer than me).

"You have the nicest teeth I will see all day," the dental hygenisist said. I didn't tell her it had been five years - the clerk had written in "a couple of years" when I had answered vaguely that it had been "a few years." Regardless of this compliment, the cleaning was awkward - I have a very small mouth (she gave me a toothbrush for a teenager) and tight neck, and no matter how nice my teeth looked, I did need quite a bit of cleaning. I breathed as much as I could, though, reminding myself of what I learned the last time. I would notice my hands or neck or shoulders tensing and I would consciously, deeply, breathe out. It helped - I still feel sore now, but it made of pain a lot less suffering. I was so inspired after the cleaning - fresh haircut yesterday, clean teeth - that I came right home and started doing the taxes, which I had dreaded.

Let me tell you - and me - let me tell us something about dread. I am sure you already know this, as do I, but apparently it bears repeating, because none of us have stopped doing it.
Dread sucks.
Dread is lame.
Dread only makes things worse. Dread is, in fact, concentrated suffering, and we do it to ourselves.

Lately I have experimented with doing the thing I dread the most, first (obviously, with taxes and dentist examples above, this is a practice and not perfection) - because I have finally caught on that when I do not do something very important or overwhelming, it gets far worse with procrastination. AND I feel as if I have gotten nothing done in the interrim, not matter how many other work details/errands/tasks/appointments/classes/writings/emails/nose pickings I do.

So I encourage *you* to pick one thing - big or small. I recommend dentist or taxes, if you are overdue on either of those, but smaller is ok, too. No matter how much you have been dreading it (and now I get to go to another dread thing - wrangling with Delta to get the right price for our trip to London this August), see how it feels to just do it, or start doing it. Pull through it.
Notice - the relief when it is done, and if it was, in fact, worse than you had blown it up to be.

Rinse and repeat - the way we learn - do it and do it again, and if we notice the results, once and awhile a habit breaks, and we can be just that much more free. This is, I am quite certain, the true definition of Liberty, though I am not sure that Ben Franklin would agree.

1 comment:

  1. I have reserved the last March weekend for taxes. Usually, it's less painful once I'm at it. But it takes time, hours, and I like to do it all at once, also, because here in the Netherlands it's all done in a computer program and then transferred to the belastingdienst via Internet connection, and I don't want something to crash half way. You're right: the dreading is the worst part. So I try to make space for stuff which I don't like, and not dread it in the meantime. Doesn't always work, but is better than eternal procrastination and self-battering.

    And how great that your teeth are that good!