Lesson Learned

Some time ago I wrote about helping a friend of mine with their failing business. What I didn’t discuss was what I was doing.

I was the DJ at a local bar. They couldn’t find reliable help because, to be honest, they really couldn’t afford to pay them. I worked for free on many nights and earned a few bucks when they had it to spare.

It was a shock to my system, going to a bar almost every night. It brought back memories of my childhood that I believed were long forgotten. Memories I didn’t care to relive but I did and survived.

I talked to lots of new people during those nights and I learned something about myself in the process. I saw my future, and it wasn’t pretty.

Observing the complacency in many of the customers made me realize that I had become complacent. I was frozen in time, holding on to a life that I had outgrown like an old jacket two sizes too small.

That is why, when my friend decided to close his business, that I decided to go back to KFC. I wanted enough money coming in so that I could think things over without the worry of paying the bills. It has been a huge transition but the benefits to my psyche have been immense.

To be honest, I’m not sure what this means for my writing, at least not yet. I am driven even more to help people improve their lives but no longer convinced that minimalism and frugality are the only answers. Living with less should serve a purpose other than pinching pennies or making do. It should serve as a springboard for something bigger and better, as a tool to help you reach for your goals and live your dreams.

As a result my question of the day is what am I jumping to?

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Breaking the rules

After almost two weeks I’ve finally decided to break the rules my doctors have set before me. Here is a list to give you an idea of what I’m not supposed to do:

  • No computers
  • No television (easy, since I don’t own one)
  • No reading (print or ebooks)
  • No writing (not lists, not on books, not on paper, not anything)
  • No strenuous activity
  • No bike riding

To say that this has been two weeks of hell would be an understatement.

I can understand their reasoning; my speech and thought patterns (among other things) have been affected and they want me to heal. But what is the point in living when you can’t do anything that you enjoy? I would rather go through life partially damaged (and trust that I can recover in time) enjoying my life rather than have a bland, boring existence as an invalid, unable to do the very things that give me reason to live.

That said, I get tired very easily so I am not going to push myself. I will work in small spurts as my energy levels allow and stop when I become exhausted or the migraines hit.

What I’ve Accomplished (and not)

I was in the last days of formatting my car-free book for ebook release when the accident happened. I’ve not done anything toward that yet. I haven’t even began to start on formatting that sucker for print. Takes deep breath Baby steps, Annie.

I threw up a new blog to chronicle my journey towards becoming a nonsmoker again. It’s a bit rough, but it’s a start. You can find it here. This method has really helped me reduce my cigarette intake and I hope to help others do the same. I’ve managed to put up all of the posts I’ve been sneaking around to write behind Katie’s back (she’s quite the militant when she wants to be) so it is actually up to date. I’ve got a few more things to add to it (I want to add a spreadsheet of my totals to show others my progress (and hopefully inspire them to attempt quitting again) but it’s live and I’m happy with that right now.

I went to my first book signing and offered my books for sale in person. It was at the Grant County Fair and I rode with friends from my writer’s group to promote Snapdragon, a literary journal that currently features the works of local writers, myself included. I didn’t sell any of my own books but we sold several copies of Snapdragon, some of which I had the honor to autograph. It was a welcome change from being stuck in this house twiddling my thumbs, even if it meant I was twiddling my thumbs at a fairground instead.

Embraced the editing process. I’m rather distractible right now and have trouble figuring out some words. Thanks to editing I’m coherent (in print at least). Not so much in person these days but I’m getting better. In fact, I’m not very comfortable talking much these days because (to me) I sound like the village idiot. I make a lot more sense in print after I edit my words.

Wrote a poem. I haven’t written a poem in years so I’m rather proud of this achievement. I see things a bit differently now and the connections have inspired me. I had to sneak around and draft it out on Post-it Notes so Katie wouldn’t catch me, and I plan to polish it up a bit and submit it to Snapdragon for their next issue. Wish me luck!

Gained some story ideas. I’m not sure where they will lead but that’s okay. I may turn one of them into a short story for Snapdragon or something.

Gotten a LOT of sleep. Seriously, if I could make money from sleeping I would be quite wealthy. Even now I’m fighting it cause I want to get this post out.

The Immediate Future

For the immediate future I will be working in small stretches when my daughter isn’t looking. She gets rather upset when she discovers me violating the Doctor’s orders but I’ve got to do this. She just doesn’t understand that this is who I am and I am NOT going to let something as silly as a 30-lb box of cookies to the head stop me.

There are still a number of posts scheduled for publication on this blog. I will let them play out while I recover to make it easier on me for now. In the meantime I will attempt to update the smoking cessation blog as time and energy allows.

I also need to get cracking on the formatting of this ebook. Time’s a wastin’!

What have you guys been up to lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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I’m not sure what I hate most about televisions. Is it having that big, black screen on the wall that spews advertising every few minutes? Or the fact that when one is turned on everyone forgets about actually talking because they are all too busy staring at the screen?

Is it the fact that they promote an unrealistic life: poor people who always seem to have the money for big homes and designer clothing? They can go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money yet never ever appear to be broke?

Let’s look at the television itself. It is an innocuous device, promoted to give us entertainment and education and news. In reality it gives us unrealistic expectations of life and programs us to purchase this or believe in that.

When you buy a television you immediately have to start giving away your hard-earned money just to feed it with a cable or satellite subscription, and for what? Just so it can sit in your living room and tell you to spend even more of your money, because you are worthless if you don’t.

Televisions are the opiate of the masses. Go to work, come home, and sit mindlessly in front of it for the rest of the evening instead of doing something useful like learning a new trade or cleaning the house. Instead of doing something to actually improve their lives they watch the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.”

Step away from the remote for a while and you will be shocked at the mindless drivel that you were watching when you come back. You will sit there, observing those around you chortling in glee, wondering why in the world they find that crap amusing.

I know. It happened to me.

While I’m not saying that you should avoid visual entertainment entirely (I sure don’t), what I am saying is that televisions will brainwash you if you watch them too much. Get a Netflix subscription so that you can entertain yourself occasionally sans the commercials and for God’s sake, cancel the cable!

Don’t get sucked in.

When you go home tonight try something different. Don’t turn on the boob tube for a change. Grab a book or do something to improve your life instead. Better yet, pick that sucker up and throw it in a dumpster. Your mind will thank you.

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Car Free: The Bicycle Workout

Oddly enough I feel like I’m getting a better workout now that I’m riding a bike to work than I did when I was walking the distance. You use a different set of muscles when bike riding and I can feel the difference every single day.

My calves and knees seem to be getting the biggest workout. Since I ride my bike over some hilly areas, the intensity of the workout varies. Also, the more I push myself, the faster I get to work — an added incentive to pedal harder. I suspect that I will have legs of steel before this is over with. :)

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The other day at work I met an older lady. She watched me work as I wiped tables in the lobby. As part of my job I go around to the customers and offer to refill drinks, take away trash, etc. When I reached her table she gave me a surprise.

“You work so much harder than anyone realizes,” she informed me.

“True, but it is a honest paycheck at least,” I replied with a smile.

She agreed, then confessed that a few months back she had gotten a job across the street at McDonalds so that she would have something to do in her retirement. She thought it would be an easy paycheck and help to keep her active and involved in life.

She lasted a single week.

She admitted that she had never realized just how hard fast food employees worked. Like many others, she had always taken them for granted. “Never again,” she promised. “You work harder than I’ve ever had to in my life.”

Her words put a spring in my step for the rest of my shift. It felt nice to get some respect for a change.

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It is a little after 5am in my tiny little house. I’m blinking the sleep out of my eyes as I write this post. I cannot help but wonder at the changes I’ve seen in myself over these┬ápast couple of months. I’ve always been determined but it seems as if I’ve taken things to an entirely new level.

Never before have I willingly woke up before dawn, yet now I watch the sun go up and come back down on a daily basis.

It is beautiful.

Have you noticed any changes in your life lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Car Free: The Road Less Traveled

Since the path I usually take to work has a high volume of traffic (bumper-to-bumper on some days), I decided to see if a longer, alternate route to work would be better. This new path is a bit hilly (thank goodness I bought a mountain bike), but traffic on it is virtually nonexistent.

It took 18 minutes to traverse the longer route. This is only four minutes more than my usual path, so I will definitely start taking the longer way in the future. It sure beats dodging traffic.

Have you ever decided to take the road less traveled? Please share your stories in the comments below.

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Felled by Cookies

Hi guys!

The other day at work I was hit in the head by a 30-lb box of cookies. I didn’t think I was hurt that bad, but last night I bowed to the pressure from family and friends and I got check out at the hospital.

I’m suffering from a nasty concussion and have been ordered to take time off to allow my brain to heal from the trauma.

While I’m recovering, posts will go on as scheduled. However, I won’t be able to respond to email and other correspondence since I’m banned from the computer on doctor’s orders.

I hope you understand.



P.S. This post was typed by Katie in order to keep Annie from the computer.

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The Smartest Thing I’ve Ever Done

The smartest thing I’ve ever done was a fluke. We couldn’t afford cable so I cancelled my subscription.

It was many years ago but I still recall the incident vividly. My kids were furious. “What are we gonna do?” my daughters whined.

They started talking and playing together.

I was just as lost as they were. I had been weaned on The Beverly Hillbillies, Archie Bunker, Gilligan’s Island, and The Price is Right. My teenage years were spent absorbing Battlestar Galactica, Dukes of Hazzard, and The A-Team. The television in my home was never turned off once 24-hour programming became available, so I had no idea about how to fill the time.

First I started reading and then I taught myself computer repair. I opened a computer repair service that served me well for over a decade.

When I got bored with that I reinvented myself as a professional writer.

If I hadn’t cancelled that cable subscription I would probably be sitting in front of the boob tube right now, mourning the life that never was because instead of working to get ahead I lived my life through others on the screen.

I sure wouldn’t have the relationship with my daughters that I have. They would still be fighting over the remote.

What’s the smartest thing you’ve ever done? Share your stories in the comments below.

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Car Free: Windy Biking

The wind was gusty as I rode to work the other day. When it hit my face I had to pedal harder to keep my speed. When it hit my back I felt like a surfer riding a big wave.

When it hit my side it almost blew me over. I wobbled dangerously more than once, trying desperately to keep my balance. Thank goodness I was using the back road!

They didn’t talk about wind in the car-free books I’ve read but you can bet your bottom dollar there’s gonna be a rant in my book on the subject.

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