Saturday, November 1, 2014

See the Beauty Through the Regret

     Yesterday it rained most of the day. Then, right about 5 o'clock, it stopped and the clouds moved out just in time for sunset to begin. As the sun shone on the water, I searched the sky for a rainbow. I never saw one. What I did see was a magnificent sunset that turned gray clouds to pink. The earth glimmered as the rain drops became mirrors to reflect the light. And the water turned shades of deep blue, growing softer as it rolled to shore. It was exquisite.
 
     I was glad that I didn't stop watching just because there wasn't a rainbow.

     How often in life do I give up because I don't get a rainbow? What beauty do I miss?

     I live with regret that I didn't go home in time to see my Dad before he died. Now I see that that's not my rainbow. My sisters get that rainbow.

      What I have is memories of long phone conversations we had all most every Sunday for the last few years. Those were magnificent.

     What magnificent beauty are we missing out on because we don't see the rainbow? Or because we live with this foolish notion that we should have no regrets. Regrets remind us to do better next time. We shouldn't be ruled by them, instead we should learn from them.

     I will always wish I had, but now the tears that covered my life are reflecting the light of a magnificent beauty around me. The gray clouds are turning pink with the light of family and friends shining around me. And the water is turning softer, as it gently rolls in to remind me that time moves on.

     What regret are you hiding in a closet because someone told you it doesn't help you in any way? Or because you rather like having a dark cloud to throw around? Take it out and say it out loud, "I wish I had/hadn't...." Then look at all you learned from that choice and how your life is better for it. You can't change what happened, you can change the influence it has on your mindset. Choose to find the beauty that you have because of, or in spite of, the regretful moment.

    Rainbows are a gift, they aren't meant to be chased. The beauty of life is all around us. If we use our tears as mirrors of light, instead of refraction of regret.

   

    

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Heart songs

As my mother lay dying, I knelt by her bed and said, "I love you Mom." I heard a whisper back, "I love you." I was shocked at the power of my imagination. My mother was full of morphine, there was no way she heard me, much less responded.

A little while later my sister was in with Mom and I realized they were talking. It wasn't just want or will or imagination. My mother had responded to me. What a blessing.

Now, fourteen years later, I think about that moment and how easy it was to think Mom hadn't really said anything. And I realize how I do that in life.

How easy it is for me to accept the negative words that are hurled at me, while dismissing the positive words are impossible.

That day my heart was listening better than my mind, perhaps it's time to not take the negative words to heart, but to listen to the words that make my heart sing.

I love you Mom. Thanks for the message, I hear you.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On Writing and Feelings

I wasn't prepared for the impact that losing my Dad would have on me. I knew I would be incredibly sad and that I would miss our Sunday evening chats. Never did I expect that I would not have an inkling to write. I write about everything, all the time. Why would that change?

It's been as if the heart has gone out of me and took the words along. Sudden inspiration and characters waking me in the night all stopped. The very thing that connected me to my paternal family, writing, became void of voice, form and will.

At first I missed it, like an injured athlete being told they can't play anymore, I was heart broken. I accepted it as lost and waited to see what would take it's place, preparing to move on to something different. Then, a few days ago, a line strolled across my thoughts and refused to stop. It felt a little strange, like meeting an old lover on a crowded subway. There we were, face to face. Being jostled about, holding our ground until,by the crowd and the force of movement, we are pushed together. Awkward and uncomfortably we started a conversation, occasionally stopping to stare, then turning away. Slowly, between interruptions of load speakers and stops, we are reconnecting.

I'm a little excited and a little nervous. This old friend and I are working through some things, like who I write for and why my voice matters. You know, little things. I'm letting go of the feelings of anger and resentment for what wasn't finished. As I work on myself, all my relationships get better. And today I work on the line...

"She was surprised by the tears that filled her eyes. Never had she felt so amazingly wanted and cared for as she did in that bed, that night. After a lifetime of being told to never need anyone, to be independent, she felt completed by another. Love turned out to be real, and it was in her arms."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fear of losing inner self

No matter how many wonderful people I have around me
When the voices in my head go quiet
It is incredibly lonely

Cold as a room full of strangers
My mind finds nothing familiar
Nothing to go to for comfort

When nothing I see or hear inspires words
It's as if I have lost my hearing.
No inner sound creates a void

Feeling like a child lost in my own world
Wide eyed, seeking something familiar
Seeing only blurs of color flash by

In these times all I can do is function
Hope the inner voice returns
And wonder who I'll be if it doesn't this time.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Plant your path with careful choices

Life is not a lot thrown for you or a hand dealt to you. Life is a path forged by you.
     If you choose to let the weeds grow, then your life will be full of creeping vines that make progress difficult and tear away at the fiber of your life. Ivy growing up old, brick buildings looks beautiful, but in reality the roots are boring into the brick. One day the brick dissolves to a crumbled mess.
     If you choose to see only weeds, your life is full of desolation that leaves only stems and stumps that entangle you and make you fall. Your life becomes so full of hurt that there's no way to move.
    If you choose to look at each step, using only the tools needed, your life path will clear away. Sometimes you need a machete, other times you only need to gently push the vine away. Wisdom and knowledge of where you want your path to take you will train you to be the master gardener of your path.
    Only when you choose to see your path as more than eradicating weeds and choose to plant the seeds that will grow the things that will bring nourishment and beauty to your life will your path be a peaceful place you seek.

Peace, Love and Peanut Butter cookies for everyone!


I trudged through life's path
Machete in hand
Cutting down everything
That seemed to stand
In the way of my garden path

I was left with bloody stumps
And invasive weeds took root
Tearing me apart
Until I crumbled to pieces
My strength destroyed by the weeds

I began again
Herbicide in hand
Destroying the root of everything
That seemed to stand
In the way of my garden path

I was left with desolate ground
And vast empty land
Leaving me parched
Until I became disoriented
A dehydrated mass of soulless bones

I began again
Pruning shears in hand
Carefully cutting back anything
That seemed to stand
In the way of my garden path

I was left with neatly manicured weeds
Growing bitterness
Leaving me lonely and sad
Until I became harsh
Seeing only trouble for my toil

I began again
Spade and seeds in hand
Removing the things that blocked the sun
Planting the things the added life
Creating my garden path

I sit, surrounded by the goodness of it
Strong from a good work
Nourished by the fruit of labor
Softened by the fragrance of flora
A place for my body and soul to rejuvenate

My path is not without obstacles
Rather it is easier cleared
With the knowledge that comes
From choosing, each day
To begin again

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Reality Strikes

Reality Strikes

Reaching over the pillow
I put my ice cream dish
on the table by the sofa
without looking
when I picked it up there was a fly
dead
squished by the orb that fell from
the sky
Sometimes I feel like that fly
sitting and drinking up the ring
of condensation left on a table
happy to be just getting through the day
when BAM
I am crushed by the weighty reality
of someone's empty ice cream dish
Someone else was enjoying the sweet
creamy goodness and left me with the
headache
No matter that the fly had eyes all over
it's body
And could swiftly fly away from harm
It was no match for
Reality
I hope it died happy with it's last drink of
cool water
I will go on enjoying the goodness around me
while knowing some one bigger than me
may be enjoying
Ice Cream

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Navigating the fog of life

    A friend was telling me about the fog around her home the last few days. A couple of days ago all around her house was socked in, but she went just a few feet up the road and it was clear. The next day, she watched the fog approach, then suddenly retreat.
     How like fog life can be. Some days you wake up expecting sunshine, and you're surprised by being socked in. Other days you see the fog approaching, and are relieved it stops before it reaches you. Then there are the days you wake up to the fog, push to get moving and ride out of it to discover a sunny day. And there are days the fog stays put all day, leaving everything gray and wet from dew.
     Fact is, fog is going to happen. Like the weather, there's often nothing we can do to control it. What we can control is how we handle those days. Some days throwing the blankets over our head and pretending it's a sunny day is a great option. Most days we have to forge on, in spite of the fog. Turn the headlights on, drive slower, and hope we drive out of it.
     And those times when the fog stays, we can find solace in time to enjoy a book, the company of friends and loved ones, or a good nap. While knowing the dew that comes from it is watering the earth and adding to the beauty of life around us.
     If you can't find your way to being content with the fog, do those around you a favor, blow a fog horn to warn others of the danger they're approaching. We're all just making our way through the fogs of life, no need causing another to crash into the rocks.
    And when you hear the warnings of others, remember to heed them. It's not your job to move the rocks, just to keep your wreck from cluttering the beaches. Steering clear is not a bad thing.
   We all have to work with the conditions of life we're given. Sometimes they will control what we do, where we go, or how fast it gets done. But through it we can know that it's only for a time, sunny days will come; that is where there's hope in the darkness.

Peace, Love, and Sourdough Bread for Everyone (Ha, got ya. I've been baking this week.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's Just Not The Same

Have you ever watched a movie that was based on a book and been disappointed that it was not the same? The book was good. The movie was good. Just the movie was too different from the original story, so you were disappointed.

That's how I'm feeling about life today. This is not the way I wrote it. It's not bad, some parts are really good. It's just not what I thought it would be like right now. I am finding it difficult to think about the future in concrete ways, because I know the reality is nothing like concrete. More like asphalt on a hot day.

This.

It is a strange sensation
Walking on asphalt
In sweltering heat
Watching your shoe sink
Into solid
Or what is supposed to be
Solid ground

It's funny to see
Then you wonder
What happens if my shoe sticks

Panic sets in
You quickly search for
A place to escape
Continuing on is
A terrible risk
Knowing that leaving a shoe
Means horrible pain

Finding a place to land
Leap to safety
Look back at the print
Left by your shoes
Laugh

It's easy to laugh
When you feel safe again
But the prints remind you
Of the trouble you walked into
And the need to be wiser
On the journey ahead

The grass may not be green
On this path
But it's won't burn you

Step

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When Life Hands You An Unplanned Sabbatical

     I didn't plan on taking a sabbatical from active writing. I planned on writing my way through Dad's death as therapy and example. For nearly 40 days, I haven't felt inspired to write much of anything. Even now it feels a bit forced.
     It occurred to me recently that I don't know how the Red Sox are doing. I'm not a big baseball fan, but Dad would keep me apprised of their play off possibilities. There's no garden report or damn crows being complained about. No contemplation of taking the pole down to the lake to put his line in, which never seemed to happen but got talked about a lot. No end of the league bowling statues' or parties to report. No 6 pm Sunday phone call to make.
    Such a small thing, really. Call between six and seven, west coast time, talk until the news came on, east coast time. I miss his voice, "Hey Laura, how ya doin'?"
    Now there's funeral expenses and VA claims and a house to get rid of and on and on. These are not the memories I would have chosen for this time. They have been thrust upon us and we are dealing with them.
    
     Think about the legacy you want to leave. Start with a will. Even a simple one is better than nothing at all.

     So, my finances were just coming together and they got kicked on the butt, again. The whole situation put me in a place of darkness that made hope hard to see. For a while there I was groping around, searching for some source of light or even a landmark to start from. It came at work, when a co-worker said something about how I was going to be alright. When I returned with a negative comment she sounded alarmed; "You're usually the one that can find a bright spot in anything. If you can't be positive, we're all doomed."
    She made me look at how I was approaching the situation. Anger is a stage of a loss situation, I am angry. It's hard to admit you're angry with someone that you love so much and have lost. But I am. I had expectations that were not met. Expectations of care. I'm unreasonable, it's not an expectation that he would never die. Instead, that he had taken care to have his estate in order so this time would be as uncomplicated as possible.
    It sucks to be angry with someone who's dead. You can't yell at them or get an explanation or have them fix their mistake or unfriend on Facebook. I found myself displacing my anger on other people. This, of course, served no good at all.

 I came to the realization that my anger is with my Dad. That's okay.

 It doesn't take away how much I love him or miss him or mourn him. He didn't mean for it to be like this. He never wanted life to be harder. He just didn't see the forest for the trees.

    Stop today. Stop looking for a lotto win and check your mortgage insurance. Stop looking for a rare find at a garage sale and take out at least enough insurance to pay for your funeral. Stop talking about how you could make lots of money and figure out how to live on what you have.

    Play the lotto, if you enjoy it. Garage sale, if you enjoy it. Keep working on the next big money maker, if you enjoy it.
   None of these things are bad. Just every now and a again, put both feet firmly on the floor and your head in the game, and take care of the realities of life and death.

   There's hope here too. Hope that this will keep someone else from going through a hard time. Hope that we will leave our messes smaller for our families. Hope that, as time goes on, we can have peaceful resolution and the memories can be weeded out to just the good produce.
    I'm off now to set up my craft table to get things ready to sell to help clean this all up. I'll keep paper near by, perhaps by being creative with my handiwork I'll be inspired to words.

One can hope.
Peace, Love, and Peanut Butter Cookies for everyone
    

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A time to mourn, A time to dance

Two weeks ago the call came, my Dad had died. It's been a whirlwind of hurried trip planning, arrangements, family, and goodbyes.

Now that I'm back in the quietness of my home, every moment is accentuated with a memory of Dad. As I write this, I'm watching the sunrise on the cove and the fish are jumping. Dad loved to fish, but I don't think he did as much of it as he talked about doing.

What has caught me by surprise is the realization that I no longer have a living parent. The two people who created me, who loved me from the time they knew I existed as a possibility, who held my hand from my first moments, are gone now. I know they loved me, but to no longer have the physical presence of love is an aloneness that is difficult to explain.

It is a strange feeling I wasn't prepared for.

Just as the earth turns to find the sun again and the day is illuminated with brilliant color, so it is with this darkness. Rays of light create hues that aren't seen any other time. This is a treasured moment of peace and reflection. Mist rises off the water and dew forms on the grass, reminding me that tears are a natural gift of cleansing. The day comes to life. Fish jump, birds flit about, flowers open all reaching for the warmth and light of the sun. I reach to my faith in the Creator for the same.

The work of the day begins just as it does every day. Somehow there is comfort in this knowing that life goes on around me. It sends me into a familiar groove to go on with my life. Then comes a moment that the familiar is changed by Dad's absence, I pause and decide how to fill that hole, then move forward. It is a slow, arduous process. The road will never be smooth, but it will be better for taking the time at each place.

So, as I walk through another darkness of life, there is hope here too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Way laid by icky ness

Well I had every intention of being part of the poem a day movement. But life had other plans for me. Down sick for nearly a week now, very little writing has gotten done at all. Very little anything has gotten done. Except for cough, blow, groan, drink water/tea, cough.

I have way too much going on to be sick. When do we not have way too much going on for that?
Sometimes our bodies take over and we are forced to stop.

So stop I have. See you all soon. In the mean time, write a poem.

Friday, April 4, 2014

#4  24

There they are again

The same 24 hours I was given yesterday

Waiting for me to make the most of them

And I do, at least I try

Filling every fold and crease in a day

With sweet cream filling oozing out the sides

Until it is ridiculous to keep filling, but I do

Every box filled with multi color dry erase marker

With much calendared event planning

Formal; semi-formal; casual expectations

Cheese Hors d'oeuvere; cheese plate; spray cheese

In decorative holiday forms

When I don't finish every project

Or achieve every goal

I am left feeling guilty and unaccomplished

Like seeing a B+ as nothing but less than an A

Never mind the astounding amount finished

I will only see what is undone

Wish there were more hours in the day

When I should recognize my limit and

Stop.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I didn't realize how long it's been since I made an entry.

I wasn't going to do a poem a day for National Poetry Month, but I'm jumping on the band wagon.

So I'll do three today to catch up.


#1 Band Wagon

Jump on a band wagon
Do what others are doing
Hope your dreams come true


#2 Fruity Friends

The apple trees remind me of my friendships

New friendships budding with tiny leaves, into

Fragile flowers blooming into full fragrance

Some stand the test of wind and rain and drought

Others fall away to become rich compost

Flowers become fruit, clustered by leaves

Fruit withstands further battering.

Disease and worms and birds peck away

Until the apple becomes ripe and must be picked

or will go to rot, which also becomes compost.

The longest lasting friendships are not the apples

Ever present, withstanding the worst of the storms,

Providing contrast of color

No, the strongest friendships are not the apples

They are the leaves.


#3 First Kiss

That moment when

Conversation stops

Two smile nervously

Swallow, breathe

Tilt head so noses

Stay out of the way

Warm electric shiver

Contact made

Relief or Disappointment

It's done or begun

In that moment







Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bitter and sweet

As long as I live
  I think I shall love and hate
You the most of all

Isn't it amazing how one person can reach such extremes in our feelings. I am trying to remember to learn from all they mean, or meant, in my life. All of it is food for growth in my soul. It is up to me to choose to let the bitter enhance the sweet, rather than consume only the bitter. And consuming only sweet becomes sickening, eventually. Balance in all things.

Friday, March 14, 2014

More than I bargained for, in a good way

     Go. I am in a hotel room tonight. I have brought my daughter to Portland, OR to see her new college. She's in the dorm, I'm in a hotel. Doesn't seem like a big deal, does it?
   
     What is so remarkable about this event is that, I think, it's the first time in 30 years I've been in a hotel alone. I traveled by plane, across the country alone. But I have not been in a hotel alone. I dropped her off; made my way into downtown Portland; enjoyed Powell's Book Store; found this hotel; and here I am.

     I am flying by the seat of my pants on this trip. I, usually, plan every step ahead. This time I decided to wing it. There was a moment when I wasn't sure I had made the right choice. I compounded the problem by trying to find a place to stay in a new fashion, and it wasn't working out. I didn't take the time to learn what the safer areas were, so I found myself in a less than desirable part of the city. So I plugged a fast food place into the GPS and found wi-fi for the price of a fish sandwich. (Note: This place wasn't comfortable, but it also wasn't uncomfortable. Do not stop if you are not sure for your personal safety.)

 As I ate dinner, in a place where I was sure I could see my car from my table, I went with the familiar. I went to hotelcoupons.com and found a reasonably priced hotel, with breakfast. I got the address for Powell's, munched down my fries, and zipped to my car; I did not unlock my door until I was next to it and locked it as soon as I was in; plugged the address into the GPS and off I went.

Powell's is phenomenal. It's a bookstore that's bigger than some libraries I've been to. Then serendipity showed up.

I just love it when that happens.

I was tired and thought I should find the hotel while it was light, "Just go lock yourself in a safe hotel room and write. Use this time away from the house to work on the poetry." my safe self resigned.

Then I saw the sign for a presentation by Haroon K. Ullah, at 7:30 pm, this evening. Mr. Ullah is the author of "The Bargain from the Bazaar: A Family's Day of Reckoning in Lahore" You know I'm a sucker for a chance to hear directly from an author. I stayed.

What impressed me about Mr. Ullah is that this extremely intelligent, well educated gentleman is very rooted in his small, eastern Washington up bringing. His presentation was engaging, informative, entertaining and intelligent. Not at all pretentious or condemning. This book is in my que. If you have ever wondered how the average person lives in the violently political, war torn world; read this book.

My book budget was spent on Wednesday's book purchase at the Hedgebrook Literary Series. I will either get this from the library, or wait until next month to purchase it.

Today's message of Hope:
1) Push through the panic and go, the gifts that are there are worth the trip.
2) None of us are alone in our concerns for a better life.
3) Don't let the fact that you can't buy something stop you from going. If I had, I would not have had the opportunity to shake the hand of a gentleman that put himself in the heart of, truly, life threatening situation to show me (and you) that we are all human.
4) Know how to use technology to bring the plan together
5) Hotels make funny noises when you're alone. When you assign the reasonable explanation for them, they're not scary. Annoying, but not scary.
6) Some risks turn out yummy, my hotel has a hot breakfast. I'm going to sleep so I can wake up and enjoy it.

I think my wings just got a little stronger.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lessons from the Penguins

A friend posted a video of penguins sliding on ice and even falling down several feet of rock then standing up and shaking it off.

I would have thought that penguins would have developed grips on their flippers to prevent this from happening. Instead they have thick skin and strong, yet flexible, skeletal structure.

It got me to looking at my own failings and strengths. Where do I look for stability, where what I have is resilience? Why don't I see that as strength. It is not that I won't fall, but that I am strong enough to get back up. That is it's own kind of strength. Perhaps there are times when I am more careful, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try.

So, what ledge have I avoided because I fear the fall? Submitting my writing? Taking the next class to get my degree? Organizing the paper work? Taking a real look at what's left undone?

Letting go of the stuff has been easy, so far. It's been stuff with no real meaning to any one. Now I am going through things that give me pause to think of someone or some time. These things are harder to let go.

Coupled with the discouragement of realizing, for all I've done, not one room is finished.

It's been tough to get motivated to do anything. Ironic, isn't it.

So I do a little, for some is better than none. 10 things.
1) The junk mail that never should have made it in the house, out to recycling
2) The beans that refused to cook, out to compost
3) The sale items that people said they would get, but haven't arranged for.
4) The paperwork from work that has to be kept, but not in the office, boxed
5) Bathroom cleaned
6) Seed starters assembled and put with garden tools
7) Books searched on book buying site. Those they'll take put aside. The rest in the car to go to the library.
8) Dishes put away
9) Sale items taken out to the garage
10) Blog written

Done. Going to go enjoy the day.

Some days you can scale a cliff. Some days you fall on your tail and have to bounce back up and start again.
Both are days of strength building. Shake it off and go on. Lessons from the penguins.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Encounter the Art of Conversation

Sometimes I think moving would be easier than cleaning out. There is so much to do. Every accomplishment seems to be followed by another point of disarray.

Discouragement is a black cloud that moves in fast, then stops. Make life dark and cold and uninspired. How do I keep going? What is the motivator that gets the breeze going to move that cloud along?

It is a clearly defined goal. Just like a business, you have to have a mission statement to focus on. "I want a clean house" is too vague. What do you want to do with your home?

Mine home mission statement is: "To have a comfortable, inviting space to welcome friends and encounter art."
Art for me is the art of conversation, book readings, house concerts, perhaps even a small exhibit.
But that's not where I started. When I began this mission the goal was to be able to walk through a room without having to step over something. The mission is ever changing.

I am excited this week. I am going to call a local charity to pick up a bunch of stuff. I'm boxing it all up now. Letting go of not only the item, but the idea of selling the stuff. I am, finally, able to let things go without having to make money for bills. It is an amazing feeling.

More than two years this has been my life. Now life is changing. Even positive change can be difficult. But I'll get through this too. I have built a firm foundation, I'm ready to build a new home for myself, even if it is in the same house.

Today, clean out 10 things. Throw away, recycle, give away, sell 10 things. Then, tomorrow, do it again. It's amazing what will happen.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Today's Mood = :-)

I hadn't very much more than woken up this morning, when someone came knocking on the door. I was, pleasantly, surprised to find a friend at my door with a frozen coffee for me.

We sat and talked for a bit, then she went on with her day. After she left I got to looking around my home. I have been so wrapped up in making money, I haven't really paid close attention to the details lately. So, I set to work.

I did clean the garage, and make my treadmill usable.
I also scoured my kitchen and picked up the living room.

It was a beautiful day, so I opened the windows and "changed the air", as my Mother would say.

Other than to take the clean laundry upstairs, I haven't spent any time playing hermit in my room. It is so refreshing to be in this open space. I hadn't realized how being in that tiny space, most of the time, was affecting my mood.

It is so nice to be at a place where I can spend half and hour cleaning up and it's cleaned up. There's still too much in the garage. And the craft room is a disaster. My house will not be a feature in any magazine.
 But my living area is peaceful. It is so much easier to be at home, not out spending money, with it like this.

It's been a long road, but it's coming to an end. It's not a dead end. It's a point of deciding left or right.
The possibilities are exciting.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Next

I sat and enjoyed a glass of wine at my favorite wine shop today. It was a nice break from the normal routine of coming home and posting things for sale. It was nice to visit with friends. Connection is so important.

That, and a nice stroll around town, was the break I needed.

I have several people coming tomorrow to pick up items I've posted on line. As much as I dislike garage sales, I may post that the garage is open for business. I am going to organized the garage tomorrow, it wouldn't be horrible to have people stopping by, while I clean.

I have developed a few bad habits lately, they are affecting me physically. It is time to break those habits and get back to the good ones I once had.

So tomorrow's goal is to organize the garage enough to be able to use my treadmill again. The nice weather is arriving, I want to be able to hike the beautiful trails near by my home.

I have gotten into the habit of being on my computer, while sitting in bed. I then fall asleep in that position. My hip is paying the price. No more of that. Made a nice sitting area and  put a lap desk, of sorts, together. I will incorporate yoga in my exercise to routine.

What's the use of having a little extra money, if I'm too unhealthy to enjoy it?

How about you? What improvements are you making in your life?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A day of rest

The thing about meeting amazing people who are doing amazing things with other amazing people, is that it leaves you wondering if you can be amazing enough to be invited in.

The temptation in moments like this is to spend money on something extravagant, that makes you feel amazing. With several credit card applications sitting in the recycle bin, it would be oh so easy to do.

I am not the kind of person who can, easily, say "I am amazing."

So, what does one do when one doesn't feel amazing and has no money to buy artificial amazing?

What I do is abandon amazing and shoot for acceptable to society. Really, lower your expectations for a while. Not forever, just for a while. Give yourself a break.

I should have spent this day working the sale pages. There are bills to be paid. Instead I schlepped around Facebook, read poetry, wrote poetry, and called my Dad. Do I feel better. No. But I didn't do something financially stupid, that makes me feel good.

Tomorrow I'll be ready to go again. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the fabric softener on the pillowcase.

Life is Rich


It was the same brand name coffee
Today, it tasted richer
Plain, ordinary eggs on store bought bread
Today, tasted more savoury
Promise had become reality
Today, the world was a palate to be savored.
Tomorrow would be full
Today, the coffee was richer
 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Almost very bad...phew

Oh that could have been bad. Very bad.
In calculating my post payment balances, I almost forgot a withdrawal. I am not a fan of automatic withdrawal, for this very reason.

That was a serious breath holding moment.

I have gotten this far without missing a rent payment or a car payment. I did not want to mess that up now.

Some times it feels like this is never going to end. It's like climbing up a ladder with the sun in your eyes. All I can do is reach for the next rung and hope it's strong.

So on I go. Tomorrow's pay day isn't the finish line. There's two weeks until the next pay day. So what would I have done if I have messed up? I probably would have cancelled all my plans for the weekend and worked my tail off to make the money I needed. If that wasn't an option, I would have had to pay a late fee on my car payment. Wasted money.

Sigh of relief.

I'm starting to think about the next goal. Putting something in the bank. Savings.

How am I feeling? Proud? Accomplished? Mostly just tired. Ask me in a couple of months, my answer may be different. But for today, I'm ready for a break.
This process is hard enough when you have someone to go through it with you. Doing it alone is just exhausting.

But I have you. You listen so well. :-)

Discouragement isn't quitting. It's an emotion based on fatigue. Take a break. Get some sleep. Come back strong. I'm going to. I still have earning potential. This could be a very good weekend for me. Wish me luck!

And stretch

    In a conversation tonight I young woman was discussing how she didn't want to be defined by the things money could buy.
    That's what I feel like right now, that I am defined by things. For so long I was defined by the way may house looked because of the mountain of things that filled every crevice. Now I am defined by the amount of things I am selling. I am looking forward to the day when possessions don't rule my life.
    Today was productive but overwhelming. The release of possessions is the release of a burden. While it is good to be relieved, it is still a lot of work. Sometimes the stretching to a standing position is difficult.

This is no excuse to not improve our lives. By stretching our muscles become stronger and my limber to withstand life's challenges.

What can you release today?

Monday, February 24, 2014

A new attitude

Reality, saving money; paying off debts; losing weight; organizing your home are all pretty straight forward things to do. Not always easy, but there are some definite ways to do them successfully.

What is difficult is changing your attitude to make those things happen.

"I want to lose 20 pounds, but." Stop. When you hit the but, it's pretty much guaranteed you're not getting off yours.

"I want to pay off my debts, but I can't." Stop. Nope, you can't.

It's your attitude. Change your words. "I want to lose 20 pounds, but I am so tired when I get off work." Becomes. "I want to lose 20 pounds. After work isn't a good time to exercise, so I'm going to take 20 minutes of my lunch break for a walk."

Rightly placed attitudes find answers to obstacles.

For me, my goals collided nicely. By using the stuff that was cluttering my home to sell and pay off my bills; I get a clean house and no debt. Because I am staying home to save money, there is time to exercise.

I am asked quite often if I coupon. Not actively. If I see a coupon for something I'm going to buy, I'll use it. But I don't mega coupon. I have been that person that gets $200 in groceries for $30. That takes time and effort. For just me, my time is better spent on my writing.

There are terrific coupon websites and Facebook pages out there with couponing tips. The only one I offer is that you organize your coupons by the lay out of the grocery store you shop at most. It makes it faster to pick out. imho.

We all have two things to spend, time or money. If you spend the time on couponing, you will save a lot of money. Sometimes it's better to spend the money to save the time.

In the end, it's attitude.

Once it's good, you will have positive outcomes!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

One sure thing: Taxes

I have decided I need to go back to selling on a national sale sight. I am to the point that I am cleaning out my craft supplies and, I think, I can make more money there.

With that potential increase in income comes the responsibility of taxes. I don't know why this subject frightens me. What if I get it wrong? How do I do this? Should I hire someone? It becomes overwhelming and I fix that by not moving forward in business.

I've spent a little time with successful business owners; I've learned a few things.

1) Taxes are an expense of business. If you move to make money, you agree to share a portion of that with your country, state, and locality.

2) While they are an expense, they also pay for services that I can use to further my small business.

3) It is all learnable and doable by even a moderately intelligent person, such as myself.

What wrong attitudes are holding you back?

Time to let them go and move on to a better life!

One foot in front of the other

The world came to a stop for me the last few days, as my Dad has been in the hospital. Now that he's home, I have ground to make up.

Today I was given a Dove candy, the kind with messages on the wrapper. It said, "Follow your instincts."

As I sat down to write I realized that I don't know what that is right now. My first instinct was to gas up the car and go. Then sell everything and go. Then, I don't know. My mind is still whirling.

So I slowed down for a bit. Taking time to be sure that what ever I do, it's thought out.


I realized that just by putting one foot in front of another, I am following my instinct. So, I posted more on line. I'm crocheting like crazy. And I'm available for inspiration.

I can do this, and it will be great.

I had another moment of opening my hand to release something made room for something I wanted to come in. I was given an organizer for my office. These carts are $50, I would not have bought it, at least not any time soon. I was so excited, I actually squealed a little.

By having a plan, even if it's an abstract plan, I can continue to move forward in a direction that will help better define what I want for my future.

The plan is financial freedom. Each day I move a little closer to whatever that will mean.

Even if you can only see a few steps ahead, take the steps, it's moving you ahead.


I was asked what I crochet, here's a cowl and fingerless gloves I did.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A #%^$$# Moment, they happen

I'm not really sure what hit me tonight. On some level, I suppose it was a panic attack. Definitely fatigue driven. I suddenly felt the need to have noise in the room. I put on Ted Talks and streamed from one to the next.

In these moments I trust my brain, heart, soul to guide me. I picked up my sewing and listened to inspirational speakers tell me how to succeed and to hang on to creativity. Did it help? Well, it didn't hurt.

Moments like these come during the course of any long term goal. Self doubt. Fatigue. Escapism. All, very normal. I hate being normal, don't you? I want to be the super woman who forges through with an assured plan for success.

Ya, no, it's not me either.

But I didn't quit. I stopped pushing and just held my ground for a little while. Rest is important for any goal to succeed. I'll call it good.

When moments like this come for you, stop. Listen to what your still small voice is calling for. Meditate. Pray. Sing. Dance. Read. Sleep. Scream.

I gave it a little time. Then I let out 3 or 4 really good anguished screams. Not so loud as to alarm the neighbors. Then moved on with life and the plan.

I didn't make ground, but I didn't lose any either.

Peace.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bartering is fun!

I love a good barter.

Today I sold some furniture for cash and made a deal for the gal to paint a frame for me in exchange for some home décor items I had. Win-win, nice deal.

I have almost made all the money I spent on my trip to Seattle. I am still floating on that cloud, so it was well worth the work I am doing for it.

There is a bitter sweetness about this process. I wish 'I hads' wonder into my brain. Regret isn't something I allow myself to linger in for too long. But I do wish I had realized sooner the burden all the stuff was putting on my mental being.

Now that the stuff is leaving, experiences are filling the space. I am so much happier in my life. I don't imagine I will ever be a true minimalist. And I'll never be a clean freak. But not having so much stuff is making room in my life and heart for experiencing the joy of the simple things around me.

Yesterday I enjoyed sitting with a friend and chatting, then a nice walk, finishing our visit with a glass of wine. I realized I was, finally, enjoying the realness of adult friendships, without the worry of "how much is that wine"? It is a beautiful feeling.

I told this young woman today, I am looking forward to hosting parties at my house. What a wonderful idea that is for me.

It has been a long process, and it's not done yet.

How am I doing?

I am happy. The rest is coming along.

Nope, You Can't

I can't...because...

I can't exercise because I can't afford a gym. I have to have that motivation.
I can't eat better because the good foods are expensive.
I can't save money because things just cost too much these days.
I can't stop ______ because of the stress in my life.
I can't...because...

I went for a wonderful walk around my little town yesterday. It was a little more than a mile. Felt really good to get out in the fresh air. Total cost $0

I had a salad with a piece of grilled check for dinner. $5ish. Hint: when cooking for one or two, buy a side salad at a local restaurant and take it home to add your own protein. If you eat salad every day, buy the fixings from the grocery store and make it yourself. But if you don't eat salad every day, this is a cost effective way to get a salad and not end up throwing away food gone bad. So, salad and add my own grilled chicken.

Things do cost a lot. How many of those things are worth your piece of mind?

I can't stop...having hobbies, good or bad ones, is a choice. There are free alternatives to hobbies or habits that are our stress trash bin. Like, for instance, the afore mentioned walk.

You can't, because you make another choice. If you want to do something but find an obstacle, do the research to find out how others worked around that obstacle.

You can. How will you?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Star for my dark nights

I splurged and made a trip to the Seattle today. Out going Washington State Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken passed the baton to Elizabeth Austen.

I left with, what I felt was, plenty of time to find a parking spot. When I turned on the radio Natasha Bedingfield was belting out "...today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten..." from her song "Unwritten".

Sunny weather quickly became torrential rain, slowing traffic. A missed ferry, further discouragement. More rain, why do I keep going. 20 minutes to find a parking spot. Main event over.

I went in because I figured I had come that far, I was going to meet them. It turned out there was an after party, so I had the privilege of meeting several wonderful people from the arts community, as well as the laureates.

This morning I listened to Elizabeth Austen perform one of her poems, "Go Into the Woods", it is what kept me going today. I kept saying, Go anyway. I am so glad I did.

It was such a privilege to meet both these women who share my passion for poetry. I am so glad I took the money to experience this occasion. It was so worth it.

I am inspired.

I may not have, or need, the sun and the moon; but a star every now and then is nice.



http://crosscut.com/2014/02/14/arts/118742/meet-your-new-state-poet-laureate-/?fb_action_ids=783715561653549&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time to Rise Up!

Two busy days haven't left much time for writing. I was privileged to attend a 1 Billion Voices Rising event last night.

It was a powerful night of true voice and letting go of things our mind is holding on to. Things that are holding us back as people from speaking up for our selves and others.

As I have been clearing the physical things out of my home, I've been clearing the mental things out of my heart and brain.

Letting go of ideas that have deep roots is nearly impossible. I have come to the realization that I will never get the roots of the weeds in my soul completely out, but I can recognize the weed and remove it before it can grow and spread it's noxious seed. I could try to kill it with toxic substances, but that kills the green grass and the flowers too. Last night I came to the realization that I will always have weeds to deal with, but I am wiser now and know how to deal with them.

That removal of guilt for not being perfect has left me with peace and energy to continue with the physical work.

Tomorrow I finish the office.

It is time to rise up!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Another day in paradise

Found a treasure today, brand name chocolate chips for $1.99.  Woot! I wasn't going to include chocolate chips in the muffins for tomorrow's bake sale. But hey, why not, at that price?

I bought milk today. I don't drink a lot of milk, so I bought the smallest amount I could. Yes, buying a larger carton is economical, but only if you're going to use it. If you're throwing milk or food away, you're not saving money.

My newest venture is to find ways to travel comfortably and affordably. There are so many options here, I'm looking forward to exploring. It's still the off season, so now is the time to enjoy lower rates. By getting a place with cooking, even if it's a microwave, I can save on food. And day trips are a great option.

I'm going to give $40 fancies a try. Going out and seeing places without spending more than $40. With my fuel efficient car, I think it's doable. We're going to find out.

It's fun to be able to think about things like this. Two more weeks and I'm free of credit card debt. Hard to believe. I don't know how I feel yet, I'll let you know when I get the $0 balance statement.

The office has taken a back seat on my sick days. The next couple of days are busy, but I'll post an update on Sunday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Creative fun

In the line of whose life is worse then whose, my life fairs pretty well. I've had life's ups and downs. For a while I wondered how I would make it through. I forged on and, with a lot of help, I'm coming out on the other side with only minimum damage.

I have to admit, there were times when I was less than likable. While it would be nice to think that I was always up beat and smiling, it just isn't so. I'm thankful for the people that stuck with me through the hardest times. There have been plenty of apologies on my part.

One of the biggest blessings my upbringing gave me is the ability to do fun things on the cheap. While I am living it up, I'm doing so without spending a lot.

If my favorite music group is playing at a local restaurant, I will go and have coffee and a salad. If the place is packed, I let the host know that I would welcome company at my table. This always turns out well, because unfun people don't agree to that arrangement. And I don't take sales away from the establishment.

I wait for movies to come out on dvd, which happens a lot faster now.
Borrow books and movies from the library.
Enjoying local parks for walks and picnics.
Going to preview night at local theater.

All add up to being able to enjoy the things in life I want to enjoy.

Tonight I wanted ice cream. I have the money, but I really didn't want to go out. So I pulled some bananas out of the freezer and blended them up with chocolate powder and water. Yummy frappe. No extra money spent.

It hasn't always been easy to see life as good. It got mighty dark for a while. Hope for better days kept me going. It's getting better.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vertigo and perspective

Sick day number two, compounded by a winter storm. When the barometric pressure drops it effects my ears. Vertigo becomes a concern. I have drugs for that and the medical folks gave me some distraction therapy tips. I really try not to take the meds, but some days you just have to do what you have to do.

Distraction therapy? My brain can be distracted by using another part of my brain. Smelling a strong scent, like peppermint or thinking about something else. "Don't think about it and it will go away" really works for me.

By using these techniques I was able to drop my ER visits to just one last year. There were probably two other times I should have gone in, but I recovered at home. It's slower, but it's not as expensive.

It doesn't work for everyone with vertigo, I am fortunate.

Yes, fortunate. I choose to not concentrate on what I don't have and focus on what I do. A good attitude will take you a long way.

Take some time to think about what you do have. It won't make all the troubles go away, but it will help you get through them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sick day

Sick day. Comfort comes in chicken broth from the freezer with shredded zucchini and some corn, topped with day old bread turned croutons.

Planning makes sick days easier.

Planning makes all days easier.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Americans Spend $151 a Week on Food; the High-Income, $180

Americans Spend $151 a Week on Food; the High-Income, $180



I was reading this Gallup Poll on American food budgets and am shocked by the idea of spending $600 - $800 a month on food, in a household without children.



Those making less than $30,000 a year are spending an average of $127 a week on food.



Why? I question answers like, "I ate at home last night." Does that mean you cooked food or brought in take out?



And, does it mean that people don't have staples in their pantry, so they spend more daily?



I don't have a problem with the idea of people choosing to spend money on better quality food. I just wonder if people who are struggling financially, really know how to solve that problem. Perhaps there's not a willingness to make the sacrifices. Or perhaps it's geographical.



I heard a news report recently that this is the first time in history that the poor are obese. This is a result of bad foods being readily available at a low price. Particularly in inner cities, the cheapest foods are the worst nutritionally.



In some areas, I suppose, $127 a week doesn't sound like so much. And, at the end of a long day, picking up a $6 fast food meal doesn't sound so bad. But what if you knew you could have the same food, but better quality, for about half, with some simple planning.



It is a great case for teaching home economics in school. At least one generation is missing the knowledge of how to make a food budget and how to make it stretch. How much is a serving size, so it can be planned for properly. In order for these things to be instituted, it has to be re-introduced to society.



And we have to learn to do with out in the short term, for the benefit of the long term.



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Joy in the mourning

No, I didn't misspell that.

I went to a gathering today to grieve, in a community way, the loss of some people who were special to me. Each in their own, very special, way.

As I looked around at the diverse group that had gathered there, I thought about how much love was represented. There wasn't discussion of worldly goods. Only of care and hope and joy.

Joy in having been so loved that we would take time to gather and remember.
Joy in the memories of good times.
Joy in knowing we loved them fully.

Things take time. Time that could well be spent building relationships. Relationships that will fill our hearts with joy.
When the time comes to mourn, we will have joy.
So much more precious than things.

If it doesn't bring life, light or joy into my life it is not coming into my home.
That is the measure of value.
People bring all three to me. Now I have a home that welcomes them.
Mourning comes. There is joy in it. Because of the relationships that I gave time to.

Let "it" go to hold the hand of one you love.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Moments of fun

While hanging out on Facebook today a "Like, Comment, and Share" contest came up. So I played along. And I won! A free fish and chips from Keystone Café in Coupeville. That works out quite nicely. I am headed in that direction tomorrow, I'll enjoy my free meal on the way.

I don't always play along on those, but hey, there food's really good and the service is terrific.

What I don't play is anything that costs me money. Lotto, bingo, or casinos are not in the budget. Are they bad? No. As long are you only spend what you can afford to lose. If you are rolling pennies to get enough gas to get you to work, you can't afford to lose $1. If you enjoy the game for the sake of the game, go on ahead.

For me, it's about where I want my entertainment budget to go. The average player spends $5 a week. That's $20 a month. For that I could see a movie or a play or have a pretty good meal. Choices.

Choices. Life can be fun without spending money. If you decide that it's fun.

When my children were little, I would get coupons for fast food places. This was way before the dollar menu. We would go out and find cans, redeem them, take the cash and collect on the coupons, then go back to the parks where we had found the cans and have a picnic.

I was talking with my son about that years later, he has no memory of the cans. He remembers the shmorgishborg picnics and the fun at the park, but not the work to get it. Attitude. That's what made the difference.

Tonight I enjoyed a fine dinner. It was left overs with off casts. A piece of salmon that had been frozen from an earlier meal. Hummus made in a large batch and frozen in small servings. And home made tortilla chips, from unwanted tortillas, were flavored with a little bit of parmesan cheese that most people would have thrown out.

A terrific, money saving meal. Now I will watch a movie I already own, rather than rent another. And crochet for a commission I was asked to do.

All in all, not a bad night. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sacrifice

What are you willing to give up for piece of mind or to fill a dream?

I'm selling two things today that I didn't think I would. They aren't family heirlooms, just things I like. But they aren't being used. So I'm letting them go.

A friend put a treasured item up for sale. She has a chance to fulfill a dream and she knows her loved one would want her to do this. She found a place of knowing that letting go of the thing didn't mean forgetting the love.

It got me to thinking about sacrificing things, or ideas, on the alter of a greater life.

What ideas are holding us back? What needs to be willingly sacrificed?
It seems obvious that this would be an easy thing. But our hang ups are comfortable, even the bad ones. We like the way they feel because they are familiar.

I have fought off the idea of not being good enough.
I have fought off the idea of not being able.
Now I am fighting the idea that it's enough.
It's not enough to just pay a little at a time. I can have freedom, I am willing to make the sacrifice for it.

I found myself day dreaming about taking a trip in the spring. The money will be there for me to do that. A few months ago, I wouldn't even have considered it.

Sacrifice can be painful. The rewards are worth it.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nine Days

Nine days, that's how long it is to my next payday. I made a large payment to the debt this pay period. There isn't any play money, unless I find a way to earn it.

It would be easy to slip into woe is me syndrome. Then I remember that, while I got myself into this mess, I am getting out of it now. I have paid off over half my credit card debt. Now I am developing better money habits to not get back to this place.

Someone asked me if I was following a program. No, it's kinda like dieting, I've done it enough over the years to have a pretty good idea what works for me. 

Apparently there is a new financial guru that people are following. The main idea is to get your money in cash and put it in envelopes for each thing, and to only use cash. I have lived that way. It is very effective. It does not really flow with how I live now. Automatic withdrawal and online bill pay are also effective tools.

So which is right? Yes. They are all right, for someone. You have to find what works for you and commit to it. I have a combination approach. I use electronic sources for the bills and I use cash for the day to day expenses. So I can keep very good track of what is in the bank account by not putting a bunch of $5 charges on my card. It also makes me aware of who I turn my money over to.

Awareness.

It comes to that one concept. Awareness of who you are. What you are comfortable with. Where your resources are being spent. When you are at a profit or a loss. Why you aren't comfortable. How you plan on getting to a place of comfort.

Half way there, I can do this.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

No Time for Fussing


I wrote tonight's installment on a document and now am hurriedly posting it, before the gremlins eat the connection again.
The internet provider I have is having a problem tonight. I lost connection for about an hour. It came back for 30 minutes, and now it’s down again. This happens so rarely that I’m inclined to believe that someone hit something. I hope everyone’s alright.

So, what do I do when there’s no internet at home?

A)   Clean out the paper in the office to sort and/or shred

B)   Take a shower, then get a cup of coffee

C)   Make popcorn and put a movie on

D)  All of the above

I spent the time labeling the storage in the office for quick put away. And I am watching a movie, with popcorn and coffee, after taking a shower.

I called the provider and they already were working on the problem.  No amount of fussing was going to make it happen faster. It’s not like I didn’t have plenty to do.

This has gotten me to thinking about how much time I waste fussing. I could have sat here and sulked. Perhaps I could have called or texted friends to complain, or go online on my phone, resigning myself to settling.

It wouldn’t have turned my internet back on. And I don’t believe I would feel better.

So, the shredder is humming. The room is cleaner. And the popcorn is delicious.

As bonus rewards, I am relaxed and ready for sleep and I found a folder with poetry I wrote over 20 years ago. Perhaps we’ll revisit some of those.

Fussing, whatever that means for you, really helps nothing. I am not advocating not expressing how you feel. What I am suggesting is that the way you do this is positive. When faced with an obstacle, you be flexible enough to go in another direction.  


 

This has also given me time to think about a poem for a fun, new website that my brilliant friend, Katie Woodzick, and I are pouring our creative spirits into,

Poetrybytheshot.wordpress.com

Come throw one back with us.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Process or IS THIS EVER GOING TO END? ahem, I'm fine.

Some days are so good. I look around and see how far I've come. Other days I want to back a dumpster up to the house and go live in my car. Right now, I'm somewhere in between.

"There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them." Jim Croce crooned.

I have found what I want to do, but stuff is slowing me down.

Time to take my own advise. I took a few deep, cleansing breaths; then I got to work.

First I made a list. Not a list maker? Give it try, maybe you've changed since the last time you tried.
I didn't think much about it, just started writing to do's. Then I went down the list.

No time was spent prioritizing or deciding, just started at the top and worked my way down.

It worked splendidly.

Today's writing time, check.
Call Dad, check
Put library books with bag to take with me tomorrow, check
Clean office...ugh...oh yeah. the office, check

I didn't touch the place yesterday, but today I defined the space. Office. Not exercise room. No leaving the hand weights just in case I want to use them. Being realistic here. I'm not going to stop writing for that. The exercise equipment will go to the place it belongs. If I want to work out and write, I'll go to them.
Also thinking about what I need for the room. By making a list, I can know what I need and try to buy them at a bargain.
 
Then I removed any large pieces that didn't add value to the space.
Next, I started at the door and worked from the right.
Swept the floor.
Gave thought to what I wanted the room to look like.
And posted five items for sale on line.



It is already nicer. I spent about 30 minutes on it today. Not too shabby. Nothing took a lot of thought.
 
I am thinking about what I want that space to be used for and how I want to feel when I walk into it. Peaceful, inspiring, easy to think in, easy to function in.
 
And if all five things sell for asking price, $110 dollars. I'll tuck some of that away for things I need for the room. I want it to be right, so I'm patient to find the right pieces.
 
I'll let you know how it goes.
 
It's all part of the process. Breathe

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Legacy

Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks!

It has been a day for legacy. I attended the placing of a memorial leaf today. A dear friend, my former boss passed away a few months ago. So on this, her birthday, we gathered to honor and remember this amazing woman.

As people told stories about her there was a realization of what we had lost. More than that was knowing what we had been given.

There were stories of plants and books and recipes. Greater than those were times of great encouragement and belief in each person. Her lack of anger, not that she didn't get up set but that she didn't get angry.

What am I leaving for a legacy?

Tonight the Seattle Seahawks handily won the Super Bowl. They leave a legacy of hard work and perseverance. Long after the rings tarnish and the money's gone, it is their will to win that will be remembered.

A gentleman at the party I was at said, "Do not play dirty. The Seahawks do not want to win but have an asterisk next to the game, referring to how they won dirty."

They played fair and they played clean, as did the Denver Broncos.

That is a legacy, win or lose, to be proud of.

I want a legacy to be proud of. Not one filled with debt. Not a house full of stuff that will mean nothing to anyone when I'm gone. Not a reputation for using people or playing dirty.

A legacy of love, supporting others, working hard to achieve my goals. This is a legacy I would be proud of.

Football

I don't usually follow football, but when the home team is in the Super Bowl, heck ya!

Good luck Gentlemen, may the best commercial win!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

On a different note

I wanted this to be it's own post.

Katie Woodzick and I are teaming up to produce a new website. With a shot glass collection as incentive, we are taking turns writing poetry for our new website:

www.poetrybytheshot.wordpress.com

It will be fun, lively, poignant, and clever. We hope you enjoy it. CHEERS!

At time to sell and a time to give away

There is a time under heaven for everything.

I have been selling online for a couple of years. This process has been tedious and, sometimes, annoying. It has also, however, been fruitful and full filling. There have been times when I have been all in to it, and times when I have sat and cried because I'm so sick of it.

It has served a great purpose. I haven't made a lot of money at it, but it has provided enough to get me by. And I've made terrific friends.

As the truly unnecessary is clearing away, I am finding more time to enjoy my old crafting hobbies. Finishing projects if very satisfying. It also serves to continue to clean out the house.

The one room that is really getting me is the office. What is it about this space that is so daunting? I have a vision for the room. I have the primary pieces to complete it. When I go to work in that room I feel nothing but drudgery. Perhaps it's all that paper. Or perhaps what it represents. What ever it is, it's time has come. This week I am committed to making the office an organized, workable, enjoyable space. It looked so nice just a few months ago, then I gave away a piece of furniture and it hasn't been nice since then. Step one, post a before picture here so there is incentive to succeed.

Organization is important to keeping a budget. Miss place a bill, add late fees. Get a gift card, it expires before you can find it again. Age old story.

The first month of this great freedom trip is finished. I've had a few down days. Spent a little more than I planned, but not nearly what I was spending. February gets a little busier. There are a few things I want to do that take money. So, as much as I'm ready to pack things off to the thrift, back to work on the sales boards I go. That doesn't mean I'm off the hook for the office.
So here's the before:

The Walls are Closing In

The walls will close in
If you sit too long
Pushing against you
Like a trash compactor
Making you as small
And condensed as it can
So that you take up as
Little space as possible
Until there is no air
or water
or life
left.

Cut
the strings
That bind you
To one size in one box
Stand up and stretch your arms
Tuck your chin into your chest
Push the walls back
Like a super human being
Saving yourself from certain demise
Throw your head back and scream
I Am Strong!
I Will Live!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thanks

I don't know who the five of you are, but I'm tickled that you immediately open my blog when I post it. Thanks.

Let it go

So easy to say. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do. Uncertainty weaves it's way through our brains, like a like a worm, eating holes in our great plan. When the time comes to actually do the work, we have plenty of excuses, those also have holes in them.

Money
Weight
House cleaning
Job
Love
Past
The list goes on and on.

What is it that you can't put down. Perhaps it's a combination of some or all.

Some things are easy to put down. Some you can drop with a dramatic thud, making a huge mess. Some, the heaviest, need to be set down slowly, perhaps with help.

Evaluation of what is holding you back is so important. This week I had the thought that I would like to lose the 40 pounds I've gained in the last few years. I had lost 90 pounds and really felt terrific. But as the week went on it became a burden. I'm clearing out my house and paying off my bills and building up my writing and working and...I don't need another project. So I'm being more careful about what I eat and working more walks, free entertainment, in my schedule. If I lose some, terrific. What I let go was this idea that I had to be able to do it all at the same time.

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Ha! I'm punny.

 For now, I'm dancing in the living room, which is made possible by the great clean out.

Choices Must Be Made to Eat Cheap

Everyone wants to know how to save on groceries. It is an expense that really bothers people. While I am not thrilled at the price of ground beef, I am glad that we have regulatory practices that keep our food safe. And, as the mom of truckers, I'm glad everyone who gets me my food gets a fair wage to do that. I really am glad I don't have to hunt, kill, carry home, clean, and store and cook.

What really gets me is the people who beg me to teach them how I fed a family of five on less than $300 a month, including non food items, but don't want to give up expensive choices. When I say things like, "Buy the off brand" or "You don't really have to buy $4 packages of cookies and expensive mini juice boxes", the battle cry starts. "Oh I can't stand XYZ jelly. I have to have ABC." "My kids love their fake fruity sugar water, I can't say no." Or, my personal favorite, "There has to be a way that I can have what I want and not clip coupons."

Welcome to America, Land of have your cake and eat it too.

How did I, and do I, keep my food budget tight? I checked unit pricing. I bought off brand.I tried to find a way to make my own. I planned carefully and I clipped coupons. I used left overs. I followed portion suggestions.

Unit pricing. I was shocked when I discovered that two small cans of tuna cost less than on large can. Ounce for ounce. Check the unit price.

Quality. Ask yourself how important it really is that this item be the end all. I knew a woman who bought the cheap jelly and poured it into the name brand jar so her husband would eat it. In the four years I knew them he never knew. Really, will your entire day really be ruined if your jelly isn't perfect? Expensive steak is better than cheap steak, but cheap steak can be really good, if it's prepared well.

Home made. Being a fair cook is important. There are lots of web sites to help a frugal cook. It goes back to unit pricing. An already prepared chicken costs the same as a raw chicken, not exactly. The cooked chickens tend to be two pounds, where as the raw is four. Put that chicken is a roaster with some salt, pepper and garlic powder. Easy. The prepared meatloaf cost comparison is the same, however, preparing a meatloaf requires more time. The way to save there is to make two and freeze one for days when you're running late.

Menu planning. I did this loosely. I wrote a list of meals for the time between paydays. I counted the use of leftovers. And shopped for the list. Then I would pick one to make each night. So there was planning with flexibility.

Coupons. There was a time when I was a super couponer. I had a register tape that had as many coupons as items. It is a job. If you have the time, which can include clipping while watching t.v., it can be very beneficial.

Leftovers. If you have to throw away more than two items a week because they went bad in the fridge, you're doing it wrong. If you always have two pork chops left over and you throw them out because they got stale. Cook fewer pork chops. If you have a bunch of vegies, make stew or hash.

Portion. We eat portions that are way too big. Granted, there are some people who need more. For the most part, we could all use to stick to the recommended portion size. Fill up on vegetables with proteins in a salad. Garbonzo beans or nuts are good choices. It may take a little while to get used to, but your body will figure out that you are not starving.

Snacks. Be creative. Quesadillas made with inexpensive tortillas and cheap cheese are a nice treat. Graham crackers with peanut butter. Pretzels. Stay away from anything in individual packaging, unless it's a big sale.

Juice boxes. I get it. I really do. But thermos' don't shatter anymore and it only takes a minute to fill. And learning to enjoy flavored water is so good. A slice of lemon or orange will make it very flavorful by lunch time. Better for teeth, better for the environment, better for the budget.

Nothing really new there. You have to ready to commit to the challenge. Interestingly, it is becoming more affordable to buy fresh from local farms. So don't discount that. And be thinking of ways to barter with that gardening neighbor.

Please, please do not cry about the price of groceries if you're (1) not willing to give something up and (2) if you have a $6 coffee in your hand. I have nothing against $6 coffees, but you need to look at the bigger picture first. If you can't give things up, you must give up more time to work to afford things.

Eat, drink and be debt free!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Evaluating Self Worth

This isn't about self esteem. It's about the true worth for the work that is done.
When I sell on the online yard sale type forums, I do not make very much per hour. But I make enough to keep my head above water and it gets stuff out of my house. If I didn't need the money, I'd take it all to the thrift store. The tax deduction, likely, would be a better investment of time.

When I sell my hand crafted items, I'm fortunate if I make $5 an hour. Think about that the next time you are looking to buy something hand crafted.

So why do it? Because something's better than nothing. Because I truly enjoy the process. Because it is working well enough.

I have no intentions of this being my life forever, even if it often feels as though it is. For now, it is providing what I need.

And now I'm looking at it all from another angle. How much is my time worth to clean up and around all the stuff? How much time is spent fussing about stuff? Buying stuff. Cleaning stuff. Storing stuff. Disposing of stuff. It costs time as well as money.

My mantra has become: If it doesn't add light or life, it's not needed.
If it doesn't make me light, happy or it doesn't sustain existence, it's not worth keeping around.
So, more cleaning out tomorrow. Here's to hoping for lots of sales.

3 more days until the big payments. Sucking it in to tighten the belt. Breathing is over rated.

Monday, January 27, 2014

I Quit, I've had enough

Okay, not really. But some days just feel like that's the answer.

Just when you think you're doing well, something comes along and makes you want to throw in the towel. It may be an outside influence. Or, more likely, it's an internal instinct. The one that says, "This is bad, but it's what we know; so let's stick to it."

Change, even positive change, is frightening.

I have been thinking about the places where I have had to put aside my old way of living for a better life. In the last few years, there have been several stepping stones along the way. Few have been easy. Mostly they have been too small for my foot and slippery. I've slipped. Friends have helped me find my balance. I've fallen and pulled myself back up. I keep going.

But tonight, the pity party is forming. I want a day, heck a couple of hours, to curl up with a book and a cup of tea, without feeling guilty for not working on selling stuff. I want to go buy a cup of coffee, without calculating what I have to do to make it up. I want...

I want what I'm working for.

fine. You're right, universe, I'll keep working.

So what am I afraid of that is causing me to feel discouraged? I realize I'm afraid of losing my identity. No, really. Broke, scraping by, making do has been who I am for years. I don't know who I'll be when I'm done.
I am starting to think about what "me" will look like when money doesn't dominate every waking thought. I'm excited to meet that person.

Having clear goals has helped my through this rough patch of thinking it would be easier, and more fun, to just go back to living as I was.

I want to buy a cup of coffee, without figuring out if I just took money out of the electric bill for coffee.

Perspective.

Tomorrow I am going to schedule time to do something I enjoy. Read a book, watch a movie, take a walk. Something to keep my mind fresh and ready for a new way doing things.








Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trash Talking

No, I mean trash, real trash, garbage.

I took a trip to the dump today. I guess they aren't called dumps any more, but that doesn't change what it is.

By taking my own trash to the dump, I saved about $50. With my new resolve to compost, recycle, and reduce what I bring in to begin with, I hope to not need to go back to the dump.

By buying a whole chicken and cutting it up myself, I have just the bag to discard. No more plastic tray.
Taking my own bags to the grocery to put produce in. Shopping the perimeter saves money and resources again.
Being aware of take out places that have compostable containers is worth the effort.

I am really encouraged by the resourceful uses of common items I'm seeing again. Pinterest has glorified imagination so it's trendy again. That's wonderful.

I am collecting tin cans to make lanterns. Pounding holes in the cans for the light and using old, wire coat hangers for handles. Pictures to come.

Tiny pallets, they're about 1/4 of a regular pallet, are becoming table tops. Or, perhaps, a plant stand. Imagination isn't a skill that has been exercised in a while, it's coming back to me fairly quickly.

And I finished a cowl to post for sale with a pair of fingerless gloves. Crochet really is something to fall back on.

The most important resource, people. By spending time with friends my needs are met. 

Vivid imagination and active reduction all lead to better uses of all my resources.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Appreciation

A few months ago I went to an event that didn't, socially, dictate tipping. I appreciated that the young man working that night was doing so for salary alone and ended up staying late for us. So I slipped him a few bucks. It really wasn't much, later I wished I had given him more. That young man remembers me every time I go into that establishment, and falls over himself to make me feel welcome. Not because he made so much money, but because he was appreciated.

2, 4, 6,8 Who do you appreciate?

Do you tell them? Do you show them?

I'm not always good at it, but I try to practice a spirit of appreciation for the people who make the world a better place, in a big or little way. It catches on and comes around. 

It takes thought, but the world is such a better place if you see the effort people make for you as a gift, even if it is their job. It lifts them up and makes them want to do better.

Like a child wanting to please a parent. I guess we're all still children at heart, some times.

As I have run the numbers for the January/February budget, I've become appalled at my ability to waste money. Is so easy to not see it when we think of it in $10 or $20 increments. When it's added up, it's amazing. This has been a great reminder, already, of be conscience of my gifts and where I give them.

I appreciate you, each one that takes time to read this blog. Those who "like and share" it. When it is retweeted or google plussed. I am humbled that you would find my words worthy. Thank you

Yes, I still want a tablet. Yes, I still want a new couch. Yes, I still want to go to plays in the city. But I am thankful for what I do have.

When we can appreciate, be grateful, for what we have, it is so much easier to forget what we don't have.


Time

Since I have been spending less time filling time, I take time.

I take time to care for things. Things I've been, ostensibly, too busy to do. Today I cleaned my HE washing machine. Which is supposed to be done every month. It's not like I have to climb in and remove parts to do this chore. Realizing that I have neglected this I decided it was time to do something else I've been avoiding, making a household schedule. So, on the 24th of February, my washer will be cleaned again.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
"It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?"Henry David Thoreau

In holding a discussion with some friends tonight, I realized I hadn't been to the eye doctor in over 2 years. I have insurance. Too busy, not enough time.

 "Time is what we want the most, but what we use the worst."  William Penn

I am taking the time to finish projects that have been hanging around. And to organize new projects so as to include a time frame.

"Make use of time, let not advantage slip.'" William Shakespeare

I am writing more than I ever have. Knowing that the kitchen is clean clears my mind to focus on the words that need to be written. My writing is filling a void that has been longing to be filled for my whole life. Lack of time management relegated my poetry to personal journals. Not wasted, but not valued.

"Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it." M. Scott Peck

 If you, like me, have said, "I wish I could, but I don't have the time." look at your life. What will it take for you to have the time? Are you willing to make the sacrifice?

If time is money. How will I spend it? How will you?

Time passes by
like the plate on Sunday morning
If you are not prepared
the tempo is stalled
All around you stare, wondering,
"Didn't they pay attention?
Why are they not ready?"
The musician makes the song a little longer
You drop in your offering
Perhaps a little more than you intended
Because it's quicker
Then you wonder how you will pay
for gas to get you home and hope
that you can't out give God.
You hope, in your unpreparedness,
there is a way to make it up.
You hope there will be enough
Time