The Bread Experiment

I hate buying bread. I dislike the fact that store-bought bread is not that healthy and I resent having to buy an entire loaf at a time, because most of it goes bad before I get around to eating it. I rarely buy bread as a result.

But yesterday, I wanted some bread.

I could taste that bread, the craving was so strong.

The thing is, I don’t care that I live just down the street from the store. I was raised in the Mountains, and in the Mountains, you just don’t run to the store because you want a single item.

Where I come from, you either make do with what you have or you do without. You do not run to the store for a single item.

And you especially do not run to the store for a single item when you know most of it will go bad before you finish it.

As I dealt with my craving, it dawned on me that in ancient times our ancestors didn’t have stores to go to, yet they ate bread quite regularly. They certainly didn’t have fancy equipment or a lot of different things to add to that bread, either. Maybe I had enough stuff at home to make some of that simple bread?

I decided to dig through my pantry and found a small bag of self-rising flour. Yes!

I wasn’t in the mood for biscuits, however. I wanted bread, and I wanted it fast.

I decided to experiment.

I took a bit of the flour, added some melted butter, and mixed it well. Then I added water until it made a dough.

Once the dough was made, I heated up a skillet, rolled it into thin pieces, and fried it for a few seconds. It looked like pita bread or a thick flour tortilla when it was done.

That bread tasted heavenly! I ate the two pieces that I made and went to bed happy.

My experiment showed me once more that we don’t need what we think we need. It taught me that the solutions we’ve been taught are not always the best solutions.

It also taught me that you can make small, quick batches of bread with minimal ingredients that is a lot more filling than the store bought stuff.

I intend to continue that experiment. The next time I go to the store, I intend to buy a bag of whole wheat flour and try again.

If I’m right, we don’t need half of the stuff we’ve been taught we need when we want a basic bite of bread to fill our bellies with.

My experience makes me wonder about all of the other stuff we’ve been taught that we need that we really don’t. What else have the corporations programmed us to believe that aren’t true?

Have you ever discovered that you could make something at home or even do without an item that you were taught was an essential? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Work. Wander. Rest When I Can.

Words of wisdom for all of us.

The title of this post is the answer that Kwai Chang Caine gave in the pilot episode of “Kung Fu” when asked what he would do next.

It is advice we all should follow.

For in this world we must work to live. We must wander, not necessarily physically, but at least mentally in order to grow.

And we all need to rest when we can.

Such simple words, yet they contain much wisdom.

And in that wisdom we find what we must do to survive our modern age.

~#~

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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

How a Bowl Taught Me the Truth About Minimalism

I work a lot. I not only work on this website, I am writing a book. I also work full-time at a factory job.

The factory job alone takes up 40-60 hours a week.

So after working a 10-hour shift in the heat and the dirt, I am bone tired. The last thing I want to do is fix a big meal or wash a bunch of dishes.

I usually have a meal waiting in my crock pot or leftovers in the fridge for when I get home. I toss it into a bowl, heat it up if it’s cold, and chow down because I’m starving.

Since I do dishes right before I go to bed, I leave them out to air-dry.

The next day, those are the dishes I use for my after-work meal.

I’ve had this routine for over a year now. I don’t even think about it. I grab my coffee cup in the morning and my bowl in the evening.

One cup, one bowl, and two spoons.

Those are all of the dishes I have used during the week for over a year.

While I cook a big meal on weekends, all I add to that list is a single plate and perhaps a fork and a knife, depending upon the meal.

Today I realized that, if I wanted to, I could eliminate most of the dishware in my house because of that routine.

If I had company (which I rarely do), I could always use disposable plates, bowls, and even silverware.

And yet what have I done? I’ve actually increased the amount of dishware that I own.

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the excess to make room for the important. And yet I’ve been increasing the excess while focusing on stuff that doesn’t matter.

Because it doesn’t matter if I have a matching set of dishes for when company comes. Even if they come, I still have options. It doesn’t matter if I have a glass or a cup for every occasion, especially since I grab the same cup and same bowl every day regardless.

What matters is that I have as little physical complications in my life as possible, so that I can focus on what is important to me.

And what is important to me at the moment is enjoying my life while building up my savings so that I will be ready for the Next Step.

What Do You Actually Use?

Have you ever looked at the things you actually use in your life? Do you use the same plate, the same bowl, the same cup?

Why do you have others if those are the ones you always grab?

What about gadgets? Do you have appliances that you never use that you’re still holding onto?

If so, maybe it’s time to let them go.

My bowl has taught me a valuable lesson today. My bowl has taught me that I don’t need the things I thought I needed. All I need are the things I use; the rest is just clutter.

I intend to spend the weekend clearing out some of this stuff I’ve accumulated. If I don’t use it, I don’t need it.

What about you? Is there anything in your life that you never use? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

You don’t need what you think you need

Imagine if you will a simple life. You have clothes, food, and housing. You are content.

But then company comes. It’s an old friend or maybe a family member. The Who doesn’t matter. What matters is that they own something you’ve never had. Maybe it’s an appliance, a gadget. Perhaps it’s a piece of jewelry or a piece of fashion. It could even be a new song that they play.

Suddenly, your life isn’t so content anymore. That something new has sparked a desire in you to possess the new thing.

But if you’d never encountered it, you wouldn’t have ever dreamed of wanting it.

That’s the way with so many things in our life. We don’t know that we want it until society shows it to us and tells us that we want it.

And it happens every day. Whether it be friends, family, television, social media, it’s all society trying to program us into living and being and buying and owning what THEY think we should own.

How do we tell the difference? And how do we break the spell?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

How to Spend Less Money

How to spend less money with one simple step.

Prices are getting kinda high these days, and the signs are such that this frugalista is paying attention.

It’s time to cut our spending, folks. We need to tighten our financial belts in order to hedge our bets as we move forward.

There is a lot of financial advice about how to do that. Eat out less, buy this or that, even don’t buy this or that.

Remember the latte and avocado toast advice?

Yeah, me too.

But you don’t really have to deprive yourself if you want to save money. The key to conservation is to become aware of your spending.

It’s so easy to spend money. When we swipe a piece of plastic to pay for everything, it doesn’t even feel real.

It does when we pay for it, though, doesn’t it?

How to Start Spending Less Money

Take a small notebook, one small enough to keep with you. While you can use your phone, I find that the ritual of writing adds to the effect.

Whenever you buy something, write it down in that notebook. Create a code for needs, wants, etc. Then, at the end of each week, tally up how much you’ve spent in each category.

Don’t worry about spending less. Just make it a point to write down every penny you spend.

That’s it.

In time you will find yourself not buying things because you don’t feel like pulling out your notebook. You will also look at how much you’ve already spent and decide that you’d rather not spend any more.

Sometimes you may even want to spend more by buying in bulk.

And sometimes you will make it a game to see how long you can go without spending money.

Anything goes. There is no right and wrong way. The key here is to become more aware of the purchases you do make; logging each purchase not only does that, it gives you a moment to ask yourself “do I really need this?”

So if you want to save money, start by carrying a tiny little notebook.

Your wallet will thank you.

Do you know any other quick money-saving tips? Please share them in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Are We Too Dependent Upon Technology?

After work, I tend to sit down and respond to the texts I have received during the day. As I typed, my cell service went down.

It was down until that next morning.

A friend of mine was visiting a city in a nearby state when it happened. She had been using her phone to navigate and was completely lost when her service went down. She finally tracked down a paper map to find her way out of the city and back to familiar territory.

She is just one person, but how many others found themselves in a similar situation?

I don’t travel a huge amount, but when I do, it is so easy to just get the directions from my phone. But when your service goes down you’re in trouble.

If you rely on the Internet to work, how do you work when the Internet goes down? When you rely on your cell phone, how do you call out in an emergency, or navigate in a strange place?

What if you’re in college, studying for a test using a digital textbook when your computer, phone, or tablet breaks? How do you study if you can’t access your book or your notes? How do you take an online test when your Internet goes down or your computer breaks?

What if you’re in a strange city and your navigation app won’t load? How do you get where you’re going, and how do you find the way home if you drop your phone and it breaks?

I adore technology. Technology is a wonderful thing when it works. But the experience of my friend is making me think long and hard about my dependence upon it.

What do you think? Do you believe that we may be putting too much trust in the technology we use everyday? Why or why not?

I would love to have your opinion on the subject.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

The Brown Rice Surprise

“My body is made of brown rice.”

Dirk Benedict

I’ve never really thought much of brown rice. No one ever ate it around me as a child, so in my experience, it was white rice or none at all.

But just because I haven’t tried something in the past doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try it now. Times change, and it is always best if we change with them.

I’d heard that brown rice had some qualities that would make it a healthier, more effective rice to add to my diet. While the taste is reputed to be a bit different, brown rice contains all of the things that have been stripped out of white rice. Basically, brown rice is the equivalent of whole wheat, while white rice is the equivalent of white flour.

Brown rice, like whole wheat, is healthier, because it hasn’t had essential nutrients stripped from it before we ever get it.

With this in mind, I decided to try a small bag of brown rice. I cooked up a small batch with some egg for breakfast this weekend to try it.

Have you ever noticed that, when you eat white rice, you never stay full for very long? That no matter how much you pig out, you’re always starving a short time later?

That doesn’t happen with brown rice. I ate a small bowl this morning and I still feel full and satiated several hours later. The only other food I’ve had that has made me feel full for so long has been old-fashioned oatmeal.

I am pleasantly surprised.

The taste is a bit nuttier compared to white rice (which is actually rather bland). It’s a pleasant taste. I can tell that, for savory meals, that brown rice is definitely the way to go. Why cook multiple times when you can cook once and it leaves you full for longer?

Now that I know just how effective brown rice is at eliminating hunger, I will definitely be incorporating it into my diet. It is a healthy, economical way to fill your belly.

Right now, my favorite ways to eat it are by cracking an egg on it at the very end of cooking and mixing it in. The heat from cooking the rice cooks the egg quickly. I like adding the egg and small chunks of whatever pre-cooked meat I happen to have available. I’ll begin to add vegetables to it when I go to the store, and a bit of soy sauce at the end will add a bit of spark to the dish.

Have you ever cooked with brown rice? How do you eat it? Do you have any simple recipes to share? If so, please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Signs of the Times

Watching your neighborhood can tell you more than the news these days. What does your neighborhood tell you?

My sleepy little town is typically unaffected by what happens in many parts of the US. Around here, things change slowly, so when they change, I know to pay attention.

When times are good, the rental houses around me stand empty. No one wants to rent a ratty old house from a slum lord when they can afford not to.

When I see these houses stuffed to the brim with families far too large for the space they’ve rented, I know that the economy is on a downswing.

This also applies to the river that runs near my house. There is a sheltered spot where the homeless squat during times of trouble. It is rare that anyone stays there for long; our community has a big heart. I’ve seen homeless people just passing through given apartments, clothing, food, and all of the necessities needed to help them recover their footing. The homeless get help in my town, real help. It is offered before they even have to ask.

So when there is life at the homeless camp, I always pay attention.

Both situations are happening simultaneously in my little area. Single mothers have crammed their children into tiny spaces, leaving them to roam free while they work to pay their bills. That’s what happens when people can’t afford childcare. Desperate parents have no choice.

The children in these homes have decided that I’m someone that they can talk to. They greet me as I step out of my car after work, telling me about their day and always knock on my door around my bedtime for one last hug before I go to sleep.

They were the ones who spotted the newest inhabitants by the river.

Another gentleman has placed a travel trailer on a spot of land that has been empty for over a decade. He runs a generator for electric. I’m not sure what he does for water. All I know is that he’s not bothering anyone so I hope that the city leaves him alone. He’s not exactly living “legal” based upon the rules in this town.

But my town is the canary in the coal mine. When people struggle here, there is something seriously wrong out in the world.

Because my town rarely changes.

I’ve had fun since my youngest left the nest. I’ve been indulging in things I’ve never really allowed myself to indulge in since becoming a parent. It’s been fun allowing myself to upgrade the things around me.

But I see the signs, signs that something serious is amiss in the world. This isn’t some news agency playing up a situation to get more attention. This is the reality of the people around me.

So while I am doing well financially, I see the signs that warn me to prepare.

It is time to tighten my financial belt to better ride out the coming storm.

In times past I’ve always focused upon my recurring expenses. Keep them low, and I can enjoy myself with the excess.

But I’ve never before seen three events like these occur simultaneously.

So this time I plan to do something a little different. I plan to not only monitor my recurring expenses, but all of my purchases as well.

I may have a job at one of the highest paying factories in town (along with my book royalties), but that does not give me an excuse to be complacent. I know from experience the danger of complacency.

Have you noticed any signs in your area that give you cause for concern? If so, what have you noticed, and what do you think it means?

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

The Power of MicroProgress

How to accomplish big goals by using tiny steps.

When you lead a busy life, it can be hard to find time to do things. Because of that, in many cases you don’t even start big tasks, simply because you don’t think you have the time to devote to it.

I’ve discovered a way to defeat that challenge, a way to achieve massive goals.

Instead of looking at that goal as a whole, break it up into teeny, tiny steps. The smaller the individual steps, the better. The trick here is to break it up into pieces that you can easily accomplish in just a few minutes.

I call these MicroTasks.

Once you’ve broken up your goal, decide to complete a single MicroTask each and every day. The best time to do this is in the morning when you first wake up.

This allows you to start your day on a triumphant note, knowing that you have gotten one step closer to your goal.

While it seems as if it would take longer to achieve a goal by only completing tiny sections of it, the fact that you do a tiny little bit each and every day means that you will actually accomplish your goal faster than if you wait for the time to complete big chunks, and even faster than if you waited for the chance to do the work all at once.

For instance, I now work on my writing for a few minutes each and every day. My goal is to write a single sentence when I’m writing, or review a single paragraph while I’m editing. By doing just this tiny amount every single day, I’ve already made a single editing pass on the book I wrote during my vacation and have almost completed the first draft of my next book.

And I’ve done it by making some MicroProgress each and every day.

To inspire myself, I place an X on the calendar every time I complete my daily goal. Watching that chain of Xs grow inspires me to do the work even when I’m not in the mood. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

If you have a goal that you want to achieve but think you’re too busy, try breaking it down into tiny tasks that you can do each day.

Because, as the turtle beat the hare, small bits of MicroProgress will help you win the race in the end.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Use it Up For Minimalist Living

Minimalism teaches us to only acquire the things we will actually use. But what about the excess we already own?

The things we toss will eventually end up in a landfill. If one of our goals is to reduce our ecological footprint, then we are defeating the purpose by adding more trash to the problem we are trying to solve. Plus, the things we choose to keep will eventually wear out, forcing us to replace them.

Why spend money replacing items when they wear out if we already own an excess?

It’s stupid, folks. It’s stupid to throw things away that you know you will use up in time just to follow the advice of an influencer.

Because you know what? Keeping those items and using them up costs you very little, if anything. Tossing that excess and buying more costs you a fortune over time.

Remember: it’s not what you spend, it’s what you keep that counts.

For instance, right now I own 10 pairs of jeans. I don’t need 10 pairs of jeans. I only use three pairs a week at the most. If I followed the advice of minimalist influencers, I would toss or donate seven pairs of those jeans.

But here’s the thing. Most of them were given to me as handmedowns. They cost me nothing to acquire and nothing to store, since I have plenty of room in my closet. Since jeans don’t last forever, they will wear out in time, so it would be stupid for me to toss that excess.

I will wring every last drop of wear out of them instead.

I will wear them on weekends. When my current batch of work pants develop too many holes for my job, I will replace them with the worst of those ten pairs of jeans. Then, when I run out of jeans that I can wear on the weekends, I will head to the thrift shop or a discount store and replenish the three pairs of jeans that I need.

I do the same thing with my shirts and other items. I wear them until they cannot be worn any longer and throw them away. I’ll buy more when I get low.

When my old washer decided to develop a glitch, I replaced it. I didn’t throw the old one away. It still works a bit. The timer is just dead, so I fixed it so that it runs nonstop while it’s plugged in and I use it for my nasty items. I’ll toss it when it completely dies.

This is how you not only survive poverty, this is how you build wealth for the future. You don’t just toss something because you have an excess. You use it up.

If you are tired of being broke, stop tossing perfectly good stuff away and replacing it with new! Because it doesn’t matter if the color is last season or it’s not part of a trend. What matters is that the item does the job.

So ignore the corporate shills telling you to buy their new stuff and throw your old stuff away and the minimalists who agree with them.

Their goal isn’t to help you. Their goal is to line their own pockets with your cash.

For more quick money saving tips, check out my book 400 Ways to Save A Fortune. Your wallet will thank you.

The Wise Love Thrift Shops

How to save money like the wise and wealthy do

Thrift shops have a tattered reputation, a reputation that reeks of poverty and desperation. But thrift shops are one of the best kept secrets of the truly wealthy.

How else do you think they build and keep their wealth?

The wealthy know that companies include an insane markup on certain brand name items.

But why pay more for new when you can pay almost nothing for used?

You see, the truly wealthy are incredibly frugal. I’ve seen them sift through trash bins to search for a good deal.

It’s the poor and middle class who always insist there is “status” associated with buying new.

But the truth is this: wealth isn’t about the stuff you buy. It’s about the money you keep.

I’ve seen people so poor that they couldn’t pay their electric bill who owned Rolexes. And I’ve seen people who dressed as if they were homeless that had millions.

You can find everything from high end luxury items to everyday stuff at thrift shops. If you treat it as a game, it’s fun to look around at the bargains. And when you find something you’ve been looking for, it’s an absolute delight to rack up the savings when you take it home.

You have to watch what you buy and where you buy certain items. Electronics and appliances should be bought at shops that offer at least a small guarantee, because few things are as frustrating as taking something home to discover that it doesn’t work.

You also don’t want to buy something that you’ll have to repair before you can use it. While there is nothing wrong with good intentions, it is a waste of money to buy something you have to fix if you never get around to actually fixing it.

You can even follow current home decorating trends with thrift shop finds. I’m noticing that more and more of the featured spaces in decorating magazines have thrift shop finds that they bought, cleaned, and put into use without any additional work. They tend to focus on older, solid wood items for that like shelves, tables, and things.

So if you like to save money and you want to do it like the wise and the wealthy do, head for the thrift shop instead of the big box store.

Your wallet will thank you.

If you would like to discover more ways to save money, check out my book The Shoestring Girl. I used the tricks in that book to live on a budget of $500 a month in order to be a stay at home single mom.

How to Save Money on the Things You Need

I love squeezing pennies. They shit the prettiest quarters when you do it right. One of the main ways I save money these days is by buying in bulk.

Most people don’t buy in bulk. They look at the list of things that they need and buy the smallest, cheapest container of each item that they can.

And every time they do that, they literally throw money away.

The other day I needed a single pound of ground beef. When I went to the store, I discovered that it would cost almost $5 to buy that single pound of meat.

A 10-pound package costs $29.25, so guess what? I bought 10 pounds of ground beef that day.

You see, by paying $30 for 10 pounds of ground beef, I saved $20. How? I saved $20 because I know that, in time, I will use 10 pounds of ground beef. If I had just bought a pound whenever I needed it, I would have spent $50 for the same amount of meat, so by buying the larger pack, taking it home, and freezing it in 1 pound packages I saved money.

When you buy things in bulk that you use, you do have to spend more money upfront, but the savings is worth it. I spent 40% less on ground beef than I would have normally, for instance.

It’s the equivalent of receiving a 40% return on your money, in investment terms.

The next time you’re out shopping, look to see what items you can buy in bulk to save money.

It will save you a fortune.

If you want to know more about saving money, check out my book The Shoestring Girl. Within that book I share the variety of ways I saved money in order to become a stay at home single mother while raising my kids.

Given the way prices are rising, you may need all of the help you can get.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

The Power of Choice

I was still a teen when I discovered that I was pregnant that first time.

I’d barely began to live, yet I faced a choice.

I chose to be the best mother I could be.

It’s been a long time since I made that decision. That decision is what set me on the path I now trod.

In order to be the best mom I could be, I had to go it alone. I built a writing career to make that happen.

And it was my choice.

Life was a challenge at times because of the decision I made so many years ago. Before I embraced minimalism and frugality, it was a serious struggle.

I wouldn’t wish that struggle on anyone…unless it was their choice.

We all have our unique paths to trod. I cannot walk your path any more than you can walk mine. Because of that, I have no right to tell you what to do or how to live.

And yet now, I, along with my fellow females here in the US, are now being instructed.

We are not considered intelligent enough or human enough or even just enough to have the ability to decide what is best for us and our lives.

I don’t have a response to that. I’m still processing the fact that I, along with my daughters and granddaughters, now have less rights than we did.

Because back when I was a teenager I had the right to make a decision. I am glad I had the choice. And I believe other women should also have the ability to make that choice.

I resented the people in my life back then who attempted to remove my choice, just as I resent those who have taken away my ability to choose now.

Because over the years I wondered about the path I didn’t take. How different my life would have been if I’d not had a child at such a young age. I may have been able to go to school, get a degree, who knows?

But it was my choice, and I am thankful that I could make it.

I hope that one day women will regain the ability to choose that I had, regardless of the decision that they make.

Choice is important. Even if you do one thing or the other, having the ability to choose—

It means something. And it’s something that we have lost.

The Case of the Wandering Mojo

I lost my mojo a while back.

It slipped away as my Katie grew up. I was so focused on her that I didn’t even notice at first.

When I hit that wall, I certainly noticed. It was a huge wall, and I slammed into it painfully hard.

That was when every single word I wrote turned to trash.

I desperately sifted through the garbage pile of my creations. I waded through the sludge of my brain. It was a total loss.

Without my mojo, the words had died.

“I don’t need no stinkin’ mojo!” I growled. If I just kept writing I would flush out the gunk and produce something that is worthy of you…

…or so I thought. Eventually, the stench from my rotten ideas grew too horrible even for me to stand.

There was no other option; I had to step away from the keyboard.

I did other things instead.

I worked at a job. I painted my house. I indulged myself with items long denied. After a lifetime of living with less, this act felt like a rebellious, decadent luxury.

The thing about mojos is that they don’t like to be ignored. They especially don’t like it if they realize that you are happy without them.

I was at work when my mojo returned. He creeped into my head and left an offering.

I pulled out my phone, jotted it down, and went back to work.

I didn’t want him to know that I was excited.

Day by day my wayward mojo tried to make amends with me. He’d slip in, deposit the gift of an idea, and disappear once more.

I’d jot them down and let them go.

He started waking me up at night then. Mojos are not happy when they see their gifts being spurned.

By the time my vacation arrived, my mojo had had enough.

“Why aren’t you using my ideas?” he demanded.

“Not much point if you’re going to wander off again,” I shrugged as I mowed the lawn. “If my writing won’t help anyone, I’d rather not write at all.”

Mojo kicked at a rock, abashed. “I promise I’ll stay this time…if you want.”

We struck a bargain that day, my mojo and I.

And then we got to work.

The rest of my vacation sped by at a furious pace. By the time I returned to work, we had created the white-hot draft of my next book.

As the words cool down enough for me to begin editing, we’ve launched into another one. We’ve decided to have fun with this.

Have You Lost Your Mojo?

Is there something you want to do or have been doing that has turned to shit?

You try and you try but the harder you work the worse it stinks?

That’s the classic sign of a wandering mojo.

Unfortunately, the harder you chase, the faster he runs. But if you step back and turn your mind to other pursuits, your mojo will return.

He just can’t help himself.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

Phase Two, Engage!

It‘s been over a year since Katie left the nest. I’ve used the time to not only come to terms with the fact that I’ve entered into another stage of this adventure called Life, but to figure out what I wanted to do next.

I’m not about to just rest upon my laurels, after all. That’s not the stuff that I am made of.

The first thing I did was take complete stock of my circumstances. I’ve come a long way! I’ve more than tripled my income since 2019. I’ve gained a bedroom and a bed which feels heavenly whenever it is time to sleep, along with some other items to increase my comfort level.

Quietly, I began to make plans. I didn’t speak of these plans, not even to you. Instead, I considered my options and formed a basic game plan while I engaged in the mindless tasks at my job.

Yet I did form a plan. To start, I knew that I not only needed reliable transportation, but I also needed to increase my credit score as well. This will allow me to take the steps needed to build my wealth even further as I move forward. I invested in a new car to accomplish that.

Once that was sorted, I crafted an office area in a private spot, invested in some books to build both skills and knowledge, and got to work.

I wrote in a post several years back that, after spending my life exploring frugality and life on less to achieve the goal of being a stay at home single mother, that I wanted to explore the other end of the spectrum, a life where frugality is a choice and not a necessity. I want to see how far I can go now that my maternal obligations have been discharged.

The basic preparation phase is complete. I have launched the next phase.

Forgive me for not sharing too much of my goal. While I’ve discussed it in the past (many of you should be able to work it out), I want to hold it close for a bit longer while I position myself to make this goal a reality. I will share more as I get closer.

For now, I am exploring options for long-term employment at a simple, yet less physically intensive, position. I’m not sure what the results will be, but the income from a public job will allow me to maximize my savings for a major purchase that I am planning. While I could do it without working a public job due to my royalties and investment income, the journey would take longer. I can reduce the time span by working a public job as well as pay into Social Security for my eventual retirement. I’m not sure if Social Security will exist by that time but I’m willing to take a chance.

At the moment I am taking advantage of the weather in my area. With the use of creative ventilation combined with some fans, I hope to keep my electric bill low for a few months in order to maximize the money I can squirrel away. I want to have as much down payment as possible in order to minimize my monthly payment when the time comes.

I’ve also began to teach myself how to cook. Every meal I can prepare at home is more money saved. It will also be far healthier than I could get at a restaurant. It will also give me creative food ideas as we continue to have shortages of one thing or another.

One of my investments has been an Instant Pot. It allows me to pressure cook cheaper cuts of meat to my desired tenderness while saving time. Given the price of meat these days, it has already paid for itself in the short time I’ve had it.

I have also began to rework my yard a bit. I wanted to pull my car off of the street to reduce the risk of it being hit, since I live on a narrow street. This will also allow me to avoid being snowed in; the snowplow drivers seem determined to plow anyone in who parks on the street in winter. I’ve had to miss work in the past or call for a ride after discovering that they’d blocked me in with piles of snow.

I removed a piece of fence so that I can save money in another way: washing my car at home. Commercial car washes are not cheap; I’ve no desire to give them money if I can avoid it. I’d rather stick the savings back to get closer to my goal.

While I will continue to invest in books, I have set a limit upon my purchases. I tend to buy several at a time based upon subject, so instead of running the risk of buying a mountain of books that I never get around to I refuse to order more until the current round is completely finished.

Every penny I can conserve will take me closer to my goal. My challenge is to maintain a higher standard of living than I allowed myself to enjoy in years previous.

I will keep you posted on my progress as I move forward. So far, my simple efforts have taken me $2,000 closer to my goal. I’m curious to see how well I do.

What goal are you currently working on? What stage are you at? Please share your stories in the comments below.

How to Motivate Yourself to Improve

It can be hard to find the energy or motivation to improve yourself these days. By the time you get home from work (or even wade through a chaotic day at home), you feel as if you have nothing left to give.

“I’ll do it when I feel better,” you typically say.

The problem with that decision, however, is that “feeling better” never comes. Inevitably, something will always arise that prevents you from working towards your goals.

Even worse, the longer you put it off, the easier it gets to procrastinate.

I encountered this situation shortly after my divorce. Forced by circumstances to work multiple jobs, I spent a mind-boggling amount of time either working, cleaning my home, and caring for my children.

I was stuck in survival mode. I wanted to improve myself. I wanted to take a correspondence class in computer repair, but I had no time to do it.

I was so exhausted that I cried myself to sleep each night. Just getting through the day was so draining; how could I manage to do even more?

I let the bad days motivate me.

Despite my misgivings, I paid for the class.

Every time something bad or simply frustrating happened, I’d promise myself that it would get better. I was doing something to make it better. This wouldn’t last; there was an end in sight.

That end would be the day I finished my course and started my computer repair business.

It’s amazing how that tiny shift in self-talk allowed me to dig deep, to find the time I needed to study. I found myself examining every moment of my life. Every time I felt the desire to throw up my hands I would ask myself “How can I finish this class faster?”

I began to look at my day with different eyes. That 30-minute lunch, the lunch I used to recharge a bit in order to make it through my shift?

I could use some of that time to study.

I began to take my books to work with me. My coworkers teased me, but after a bit they left me alone. I would nibble on my meal as I worked through the lessons.

Even if I only managed a paragraph, I knew that I was one paragraph closer to a better life.

Before I knew it, I was studying before I went to bed each night. I carried my workbooks everywhere. If I had to wait in line, I pulled out my book.

On particularly frustrating days, I made a point of studying even more. Every paragraph, every page took me closer to a better life, a life where I wouldn’t have to work so hard, a life where I could actually get some rest.

And it paid off.

In under a year I finished that class. Before I sent in the last few lessons, I took out an ad in the local paper to offer my services.

My life changed after that.

I stopped having to pick up extra shifts at work. I quit two of my jobs. While I kept the restaurant job for financial security (self-employment income is never guaranteed), I adjusted my hours based upon my needs.

In time I was able to take summers off from that job.

Eventually the skills I gained during that time allowed me to build an online business that enabled me to reach a dream that many claimed was unattainable. I became a stay-at-home single mom.

You CAN improve your life

Wherever you are right now, whatever your current situation, you can improve your life, too.

All you have to do is motivate yourself to do the work.

Look around. Use the bad days to motivate you. Ready to scream at your boss? Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are on your way out. Tell yourself that when you get home, you will study and work towards building the skills that will allow you to move to a better place. Soon, instead of complaining, you will be grateful for the bad days, because the bad days will motivate you to work even harder.

You will find yourself making immense progress every single day instead of just wanting to scream.

This was why, instead of just quitting my current job to focus upon my goal of skill-building as I decide upon the path I want to take to re-enter the computer field that I resolved to keep working. It’s easier to find the time and motivation to do the work when you’re surrounded by things that frustrate you.

Now, instead of focusing on the things I like about my current job, I look at the things that frustrate me. If I wake up sore after a rough day, I remind myself that I am on the path to an easier job, maybe even a job I can do at home.

All I have to do is keep studying.

Don’t let the bad days get you down. Use those bad days to spur you forward. Every time something makes you want to throw up your hands in defeat look around. Ask yourself if you can find another block of time that you can use to work on your dream, and then do it.

Are you allowed to listen to music at work? Why not listen to audiobooks on your chosen field instead?

Do you check social media on your breaks? Download an ebook to your phone and read that instead.

Does it take you a few minutes to fall asleep at night? Listen to a lecture on the subject as you fall asleep. You can even play audiobooks as you sleep; you may not retain as much as you would by actively listening, but you will retain some information–and that will build up over time.

Stop just plopping down in front of the television at night.

Just stop it.

Think about your asshole of a boss. Think about the raise you deserve but were cheated out of. Think about how you are forced to do the work of several people, and use it to drive you forward.

Feel the rage and use it to better yourself.

It works.


Have you ever allowed bad days to motivate yourself to change your life? Why or why not? What were the results? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

You Are Just Warming Up

I flicked the switch in my bathroom with a sigh. “I really need to change that bulb,” I thought as it released a low glow.

As I completed my self-appointed task, the bulb grew brighter and brighter. Soon, the bathroom was brightly lit.

As the lightbulb brightened, it dawned on me:

I am like that bulb.

It takes me a few minutes to awaken each morning. It’s taken me several tries to figure out how to do things at times.

And it’s taken me over a year to figure out what to do with my life now that the kid has flown.

We all take long starts. We back up, just to run at a barrier in order to jump. We warm the car up before we go to work in the morning.

Like that lightbulb, it takes us a bit to get started.

There is nothing wrong with us. Sometimes it just takes a bit for us to hit our stride. Sometimes we have to fall in order to succeed.

And like that bulb, if we continue to move forward, we will glow. If we continue to try, we will succeed. So what if it takes us a bit to get moving? The important part isn’t the dim light at the beginning. The important part is the glow of success at the end.

But that bulb would never achieve it’s potential if the switch is shut off too soon.

And we will never achieve our goals if we quit midstream.

Deep down, there is something amazing that you’ve always wanted to do. Buried deep within your psyche is an amazing dream you’ve always wanted to achieve.

Maybe you even started your dream, but you quit, shutting the power off before you hit your stride. Maybe you gave up because you thought you were a failure.

But you are not a failure.

You are just getting warmed up.

Flip the switch on your dream. Turn the power on for your goal. Let your light warm up as you go through the paces.

Then watch as your light begins to brighten the world.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

How I Gave Myself 10 Hours a Day to Learn and Study

When you work a full time job, carving out study time to learn something new can be a challenge, especially if you have children at home.

Sometimes, just thinking “where will I find the time?” can be enough to make you quit before you get started.

I’ve been there in the past. I find myself in that situation yet again after making the decision to deepen my knowledge. I decided to not only purchase several books, I also took advantage of a sale on Udemy to invest in some classes.

I had a bit of a moment at this point. I work 10 hours a day at the factory; aside from quitting my job and resuming life on my royalties, how in the world would I pull this off?

I don’t want to quit my job, however. I actually like my job. It gives me the interaction I need with the outside world that helps keep me sane. As long-term readers know, I tend to go a bit bonkers when I hang out at home for too long. I also like the fact that this job allows me to stick my book royalties straight into savings; this increases my future income should something happen that causes me to rethink things. Even more important to me, the money I earn brings me closer to my goal.

Since I didn’t want to quit my job, I needed to get creative. While I have two or three days a week that I can study (depending upon my schedule), I also need to clean my house and do any shopping. I may not shop as much as a lot of people, but I do need to buy food on occasion.

This is how I solved the problem and carved out 10 hours a day to study. You can use this method to carve out time for any project.

Unlearn

The first thing you need to do when you need to carve out time in your life is to forget everything you think you know about time management. There is a lot of confusing information out there, and most of it is contradictory.

Most of us lead unique lives, so our solutions need to be as unique as we are. Our goal is to improve our lives, not force our square pegs into round holes, after all.

When it comes to learning, we have all been taught from an early age that the only way to learn something new is to apply our butt to the chair and crack open a book.

The world has changed so much, however, that this no longer applies. While it is an effective way to learn, most of us don’t have enough free time to even think about sitting down!

Analyze Your Environment

Take a few days to analyze not only your environment, but your habits.

  • Do you wake up a few hours before you have to leave for your job?
  • Do you have a long commute?
  • Does your job have those “hurry up and wait” moments?
  • How long are your breaks at work?
  • Are you able to hide in your bathroom (at home) for some peace and quiet? (Moms, I’m looking at you!)
  • Can you carry any study materials around like a book or even a phone?
  • Are you allowed to listen to music with headphones or watch videos at some point during your workday?
  • SAHMs, do your kids still take naps?
  • Do you watch television, play video games, or scroll social media before/during/after your shift?

Don’t rush this process. Just go through your normal day while taking mental notes of any potential opportunities to study. Chances are, some ideas will come to you right away, but it may take a week or longer to notice an opportunity. Just keep your mind open; you may not be able to locate time to read, but you may be able to watch a quick video or listen to a lecture or podcast. Or you may be able to read ebooks or other digital materials in short spurts on your phone.

Remember, there are many different ways to learn these days. You have books, lectures, podcasts, videos…I’m certain that there are other ways to learn that I haven’t even thought of, ways that you can learn or even practice what you are learning during your day. By the way, do you know of any learning method I’ve missed? If you do, give me a shoutout in the comments below, thanks!

Devise Your Learning Plan

Did you see an opportunity where you could pull out your phone or a book and read a bit? Perhaps you’re allowed to listen to music while you work? Maybe you can wake up a few minutes earlier, or hide in the bathroom longer.

Even the smallest bits of time can be used to learn. Years ago when I decided to take a computer repair course and launch my repair business, I realized that I could read before I clocked in and on my break. It wasn’t much, but it was something! My coworkers teased me until they discovered that I’d actually leveraged the knowledge I’d gained in those studies to build a small but profitable business.

Prepare to Launch

If you discover that you have small pieces of time in which to read, prepare by either placing a book in your bag or loading an ebook on your phone. Test it; few things are more annoying than sitting down to read and not being able to open the book!

If you’re able to watch short videos, test to confirm that you can watch them. Some places don’t have quality cellphone signals; if that’s your situation, download some relevant videos to your phone.

If you are able to listen to music, download some lectures, audiobooks, videos, or podcasts to your phone in preparation. While you may not be able to sit down and watch a video, many are designed to allow you to receive the knowledge while just listening instead of actively watching the videos.

As for me, I now listen to audiobooks and related materials while I work each day. I mix it up with some music for variety, but I’ve now gained study time while on the clock at my job…with no one being the wiser except for you! Shh! Don’t tell on me! 🤫

Have you ever done anything creative in your quest to improve your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

How Will You Spend the Time You Have Left?

My father died when he was 57. My mother wasn’t much older when she was killed.

My nephew was just 35 when he died a couple of weeks ago, but my uncle was 88 when he passed away right after Christmas.

At my current age of 51, that gives me a wide range of odds, especially since I’ve relatives who lived to be over 100.

But with COVID on the rise, I may not make it to tomorrow.

So what do I do with my now?

As news has trickled through friends and family that I’ve actively began to immerse myself into computers again the reactions have been mixed.

“Why are you doing that? I thought you liked your job.”

“You know you’re too old to go back into computers. You’re the wrong gender, besides! All they hire are young guys. You know that!”

“I’m surprised you waited so long. You’ve always had a gift when it comes to computers. Way to go!”

“At least you won’t be binge watching movies any longer. That was so unlike you.”

“It’s good that you’re still learning. Shame that you’re on the verge of retirement, though–you won’t get to use the knowledge at a job.”

“Only you!” (spoken with a good-natured shake of the head)

Lessons Learned

One thing I have learned over the years is to disregard any negativity I receive. In fact, my greatest successes have been when the responses I received were overwhelming negative.

Even so, my critics have a point. I am older. In just ten short years, I’ll be eligible for early retirement. In 13 years, I’ll be eligible for normal retirement.

But if I wait until I’m 70, I’ve got 18 whole years to enjoy myself.

With modern medical science, I believe that it is safe to say that, barring COVID or accidents, I can live until my 80s. That’s almost three decades of life I have left.

So how do I spend that time? Do I spend it living, or do I spend it dying?

We all die

That’s a fact. None of us can escape it, so we need to accept it.

We don’t have to sit around and wait for it, however.

Whatever your age, you don’t have to just give up and wait for death to take you. Whatever your age, it makes no sense to continue living if you’re just waiting to die.

If we’re going to be here anyway, why not have fun while it lasts? After all, none of us really knows what the next adventure will bring.

So look around. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Do you want to take a trip, learn something new, change careers, or explore a path you’ve not dared to take?

Why not do it now?

You don’t have to take major steps. If you have always wanted to travel, you can research places and pick one to visit. Save up money, or maybe think of ways to go on your current budget.

If you’re interested in learning something new, you can take a class online. The prices are amazingly reasonable, and you may catch it on sale. I had a look around Udemy this weekend and I was amazed at how far online learning has came. You can take a class for almost anything these days!

I don’t care what society says, and I certainly don’t care about the opinions of those around me, and you shouldn’t either.

You may be old, but you’re not dead yet.

So stop acting like it!

Take the trip. Have the adventure. Join the class.

But don’t stop there. Make sure to tell others that you’re not done living yet. Share stories about your dreams and adventures. You can start by sharing them in the comment section below.

Do the Thing

Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from achieving your dreams.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I’m the daughter of an ex-con and a dancer. My formal education was a joke, yet despite everything I managed to achieve everything I really set my mind to.

  • I opened a computer repair service in my thirties.
  • I pivoted to writing by my forties.
  • I became a stay-at-home single mother by teaching myself how to write online.

And now I’ve given myself permission to dive deep into the world of computers in a way I’ve never given myself permission before.

If I can do all of that with barely a high-school education and all of the odds stacked against me, there is no limit to what you can do with the advantages you have today.

This is your chance. Don’t waste it.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

A New Journey?

It is time for me to turn down a glass. I have survived my very first year without my beloved Katie. I have not only survived, I have made some massive changes to my world, changes that have reaped some interesting dividends.

This year was a year for me to cut loose and have fun. I hit the ground running. I gave myself a bedroom, the first proper bedroom I’ve had in over a decade. I even gave myself permission to spend money, and boy did I spend it! I made sure to save 10% of each paycheck (plus all of my book royalties), but other than that, I allowed myself the freedom to do what I wanted.

I had a bit of a panic over that not too long ago but then I realized that I’d not really wasted much money. Instead, I’d acquired things that not only made life more comfortable, but would last for quite a while. I even acquired a few things that have helped me save some money. The air conditioner, heaters, electric blanket, and electric throw have all helped to lower my utility expenses. The car increased my monthly spending (due to the payment), but it allows me to travel to work in bad weather without fear and even allows me to visit my beloved aunt on occasion.

I never imagined that I would be thankful for having a car payment, but I am. It feels incredibly luxurious to be able to hop to a neighboring town if I need something immediately that I cannot acquire locally, and it feels like heaven to be able to make the drive to visit my aunt. I even got to spend Thanksgiving with her and my cousin due to that car.

I am immensely grateful for that.

One of my goals this past year was to increase my income. I managed that in spades. Now, instead of living on the shoestring budget of $500 a month, I bring home close to $3k. My mind boggles at the change.

In order to increase my income I took a job at a local factory. I ended up in a position that is rather mindless. I spend 10 hours a day painting latex onto a mold before I rotate it through an oven. That position has given me time to think.

What do I want to do next? I began to ask myself. Did I really want to spend the remainder of my working years standing on a hamster wheel? My life had fallen into a routine. I work 4-5 days a week, 10 hours a day. My weekends were spent cleaning my home, watching television, and chatting with family and friends. It’s a good life, a simple life. I enjoy it, but do I really want to spend the next decade or so this way?

I don’t want to retire. I’ve realized that, while pleasant in spurts, that I make myself a bit insane when I take time off to stay at home. I need to have that excuse to get out of the house, if only to provide social interaction. I could retire, even now that I have the car payment. I can afford to do so, but the fact is that I don’t want to. Sometimes getting what you think you want helps you to understand that you didn’t really want it as bad as you thought. I’ve realized that when it comes to retirement.

I need a purpose in my life, or what’s the point in living?

The beauty in my mindless job is that it gives me plenty of time to think about that, to ask myself the important questions while getting paid in the process.

I’ve realized that, if I continue on my current path, that I will simply become a mindless consumer. I will work, then I will spend my weekends decompressing with the latest movie or fad, shifting about on a path that will take me absolutely nowhere. While I see nothing wrong with that, it’s not what I want for my life. I’ve spent my life learning, growing, and experimenting. To stop…well, I don’t want to stop.

I want to do something new.

I don’t want to go back to extreme frugality. That’s served its purpose for me. It allowed me to be a stay-at-home single mother, and for that I will always be grateful. I’ve no real desire to write, however. After spending more than a decade knocking out books, blog posts, and articles in order to pay the bills I find myself burned out. I rarely even journal anymore. I find it a chore just to jot down a few sentences to summarize my day in my journal.

So now what?

I would like to increase my income a bit more. I love the security of having money in the bank, of being able to buy what I want, when I want, without fear. I love being able to replace an item immediately when it dies instead of having to budget. I love discovering an item on sale that I want and being able to take advantage of the cost savings. I like being able to buy things that make life better.

I want more of that, but I know that, if I remain where I’m at, that while my income will increase with raises over time, that there is only so far that I’ll be able to go. I also know that in time, the mindlessness of my current job will make me crazy, so I asked myself what I could do about the situation.

I’m too burned out to write. I’ve no real desire to hop from factory job to factory job in order to increase my pay. If I’m to work in a factory, I’ll remain where I’m at because the work is easy and management is good to me.

I came up blank. Perhaps I’ve spent too many years focused upon being a mom, but I could not think of anything else I could do that would not only provide something to occupy my mind, but have the potential of increasing my income over time.

Eventually I turned that question on its head and asked myself what would I do if I could do anything and money were not an object?

That question yielded instant results. As a child, I had two major passions. I loved to write, and I loved playing with computers. I was the child who could happily spend entire days in her room either writing stories or exploring the capabilities of her computer. As an adult, I even went to school for computer repair and ran a service/repair business for many years. Even now I take on the occasional client just for kicks.

I may be burned out on writing, but there are areas of study in the computer field where I’ve barely scratched the surface despite my curiosity due to money and time constraints.

I can make money in the computer field, but even when I don’t make a penny, I still have fun.

So I did a thing. I gave myself permission to delve as deep into computers as I desire. Even if I don’t use the skills to increase my income, I’ll be keeping my mind active and having fun in the process.

It would certainly beat spending my weekends holding the couch down as I watch my latest show.

I thought long and hard as I painted those molds. At my age, the odds of eventually acquiring a job in the field may be slim. The skills would increase my chances of employment in other fields, however, and even if it didn’t I knew I would have fun. It would definitely give me something to look forward to on weekends!

I decided to give myself a good review of the field, in order to ensure that my basic knowledge was current before I proceeded. I invested in a few books and began reading them at night and on weekends. Come spring I would treat myself to something I’ve not treated myself to in ages, a brand-new computer (not used, not refurbished), but a brand-new system that would make my inner geek scream with delight. I would acquire that computer and just play.

Excited at the thought, I began to price my dream machine. Due to space considerations, I settled upon a laptop, a gaming laptop because those are the ones that make me drool. I discovered that it would cost about $2,500 to acquire the machine I wanted to acquire, but since I was planning to use my income tax refund to pay for it (and I’ve already acquired everything else I want), I could afford the splurge.

A friend of mine had decided to invest in a newer system, so while helping him select a computer that would meet his needs, I checked out the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To my surprise, I found a laptop that ticked my boxes on sale for $1,400.

I had the money. Even with spending what seems to me an insane amount of money over this past year, I continue to spend quite a bit less than I earn so I had more than enough to make the purchase. I bought it along with a fresh round of books since I’d almost finished the review round I’d purchased earlier this year.

That purchase flipped a switch in my brain. I feel alive again. I couldn’t wait to finish my shift and come home the day it arrived, and I stayed up way too late getting it configured. I delved into the books and began experimenting.

Finally, after a year of hiatus from thinking and planning and struggling, I have a new journey to embark upon, and I am going to have fun with this. I plan to acquire some certifications as I move forward. While I don’t know if I will ever use them to gain employment, they will serve as personal markers of my skill, but at least one of the certifications may improve my odds of acquiring a job I can do from home if I ever get burned out at the factory or a shift in the economy sends me job hunting.

So life is good, and I’ve a new journey to pursue. While in some ways it’s a continuation of a journey I began long ago, this feels like a fresh start all the same.

It’s so easy to get caught in a rut, to do the same things you’ve always done and think the same things you’ve always thought. Mixing it up, allowing yourself to do something that you’ve previously not allowed to do can be good for the soul. Even if you decide that the path you’ve started isn’t for you, you’ve still learned something about yourself.

What do you plan to do with the coming year? Do you plan to start a new adventure? Please share your stories in the comments below.

BTW, I finally finished the adventure of acquiring a new smile. What do you think of the new look?

~#~

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I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!