The True Cost of Stuff

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The True Cost of Stuff

My daughter Katie finally saved up the money to purchase her very first cell phone. She will be paying for the service out of her own pocket since she now has a part-time job.

When she told me how much the phone cost, I was struck by how much of her life she had to spend working in order to earn the money to pay for it. She worked an equivalent of two weeks to buy the phone and pay for the first month of service. It will cost her ½ of a week’s pay every month to pay for the service.

I asked her if the phone was worth losing two weeks’ of her life working in order to pay for it. Katie gave me a blank look before regaling me with how wonderful her new gadget was.

That made me realize that most people have no concept of the amount of time they sacrifice from their lives in order to pay for things.

For instance, say you decide to purchase a new computer. You want a nice one so you select a model that costs $1,000. If you are on minimum wage ($7.25 in this area), that means you have to work full-time for a month to buy the device.

If you decide to buy a new car for $20,000 (I’m just picking a random price here), you would have to work 20 months just to pay off the base price, not including taxes and interest if you finance it!

Calculate Before You Buy

Before you purchase an item, calculate just how much of your life you have to sacrifice to a job in order to pay for it then ask yourself: Is this item worth so much of my life?

If it is, you’re good to go. Buy that whatsit and have fun.

But if it’s not, save your money. Remember, the less stuff you buy, the less you have to earn to pay for it. Also, remember that there might be a less expensive way for you to get what you need/want. For instance, if you want to own your own car, instead of purchasing a newer one that you have to finance, take the down payment and buy an older vehicle outright. You will have transportation at a fraction of the cost—without having to worry about a monthly payment.

If you want to own a home, consider purchasing a smaller, older, simpler home instead of that fancy one the realtor shows you. I have personally purchased older mobile homes on a rented lot for less than $2,000—one time I even purchased one for $100 and some furniture taken in trade! Some mobile homes and older houses in the country can be purchased for $10,000 or less if you look and are patient. You could purchase one of these, live in it, and save the difference that you would normally pay in rent to buy something better. Once you buy a better place, you could sell the first place (saving the money if you want to upgrade again) or rent it out for extra income.

If you practice this method of thinking before you buy, you will end up saving a LOT of money over time. You can either put that money away or decide to regain some of your life by working less.

I discuss this and other ways of saving money in the book The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, available in print and ebook at many fine retailers.

Fun and Games Shoestring Style

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Fun and Games Shoestring Style

My daughter and I haven’t owned a Monopoly game since our last one bit the dust in a horrible accident. We missed it but such is life.

We struck gold the other day, however. Sitting on the top of a trash can was a Monopoly box. We snatched it up and brought it home to discover that only a few of the pieces were missing. We gathered up some of the stuff we had managed to save from our old game and created the items we still needed using pieces of paper and whatnot, then sat down and started playing.

We had a blast! Hopefully we will be able to scrounge the cards we’re missing over time, but until then the game is playable. We just have to remember that giving an IOU for rent when just two people are playing doesn’t work out so well. We kept passing that ticket instead of one of us giving up until we finally called a draw. It was fun, though!

Have you ever scrounged or created something you could use by just piecing it together from scraps? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Old Computers

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Old Computers

I have a confession to make. I really, really love computers. In my heyday when money was flush it was common for me to purchase at least one new system a year. One year I would purchase a new desktop, the next I would buy a new laptop. If a new version of Windows came out or a computer with an operating system that I wanted to try entered the market I would buy even more.

These past few years of being financially strapped put a stop to that. The last new computer I purchased was around 2015 when I sold my van and even that computer is long gone due to finances. At first I was upset about it but then I realized something:

Computers haven’t really changed much over the past decade.

The other day I found myself at Wal-Mart with some time to kill while my ride did their thing. I wandered into the computer section to check out the latest specs and drool. To my surprise, there was nothing to drool over. The computers being offered didn’t have any better specs than the ancient machines I already had at home. The only difference was the operating system.

In fact, the computer I use the most these days is an 11-year old Toshiba laptop that runs Windows XP. I don’t even take it online. I use it to play music, read the occasional book, and write. I connected an adapter to it in order to have sound (the speakers on it are shot), an external keyboard to type (since the keyboard is shot as well), and a nice large monitor that I traded for years ago and kept for troubleshooting purposes. It is an ancient piece of shit but it still works and does what I need.

While I do have another computer that I use to access the Internet (2011 laptop running Ubuntu Linux), I have realized that I no longer need to purchase new computers. In fact, the refurbished business computers available these days are actually more powerful than the newer systems and they cost a lot less. As an example of this, here is a link to the refurbished desktop I have on my private wish list. It runs Windows XP, which is what I want, but if for some reason my other laptop decided to die I would invest in one of these and install Linux on it to have a nice, powerful system minus the constant nagging from Microsoft to buy this or update that.

If you have any older computers in your home instead of buying a new one I urge you to consider using the ones you currently own. If it was manufactured during the last decade, chances are that it is more than enough to meet your needs. If the operating system is out of date (and you need to take it online) install one of the many wonderful versions of Linux out there or get a friend to do it for you. You might want to upgrade the RAM (commonly called memory) on your system, but that’s a lot cheaper than buying a new system.

If you have an older laptop with a busted screen or a failing keyboard, connect external devices to it and convert it into a desktop system. That’s what I’ve done with this ancient Toshiba and it serves my needs perfectly well.

In other words, stop buying crap you don’t need when something you have works perfectly well. Stop giving the corporations your money when you don’t absolutely have to. They’re not out to improve your life…they just want to improve their bottom line. They could care less about you.

What one thing do you have now that you could continue using that you’ve been thinking of replacing? Please share your stories in the comments below. And if this post has made you think, please share it with others. Thank you.

Busy Work…and a new Genre

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Busy Work…and a new Genre

Hello everyone!

I’ve been keeping busy writing here. I didn’t want to share what I was up to until I had something to show for it however.

I’ve managed to finally get around to publishing my little weight loss book for 99 cents. I’ve got the page up with all of the distributor links here.

And I’ve created a new pen name in order to try out another genre. My first title is a bit of erotica aimed at the geeky crowd. I’ve got it priced at 99 cents as well. I’m curious to see how it does since there’s not a huge amount of competition in the genre.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve been doing a lot of writing with the goal of entering into another genre so that I can afford to stand fast to my personal beliefs about commercializing this site. While I want to help others and make a little money doing it, I do not want to go overboard and constantly try to persuade you guys to buy stuff. I want it to be there and available if you feel it will help but not charge a fortune for the knowledge either.

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

Clothing

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on Clothing

I have a confession to make. With the exception of my panties, every single piece of clothing that I am currently wearing was either gifted to me secondhand or thrifted.

My tee shirt was a handmedown from my daughter Katie when she became sick of it. The button-down shirt I’ve layered on top of it was purchased at the local clothing closet during one of their sales, where you can purchase a whole bag of clothing for a dollar. I bought the jeans I’m wearing at the same time as the shirt. My flip flops were originally gifted to my youngest from my middle daughter then later passed down to me.

You wouldn’t know it if you passed me on the street. I am clean and everything is in good condition. While I may not be dressed in the fanciest items, that is by choice and not by necessity. You can get some really fancy clothes at a thrift shop if you know how to look. In fact, I have a leather jacket that looked practically brand new when I stuffed it in my bag at the same sale where I purchased my jeans and the button-down top, which means I paid less than a dollar for it.

Of course, companies don’t like it when you do this. They want you to spend your hard-earned cash buying new stuff. They’re even selling clothing that looks ragged and filthy for hundreds of dollars these days, clothing that looks so nasty that I wouldn’t be caught dead in it unless I had spent the day digging a ditch!

So before you visit your local mall I urge you to hit the yard sales and thrift shops in your area. Instead of buying new I encourage you to look through your closet and use something you own already.

And above all, I urge you to stop spending cash to buy something you don’t absolutely need.

Where did you acquire the clothing you are currently wearing? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Constant Connectivity

Published / by Annie / 6 Comments on Constant Connectivity

The other day I found myself thinking of the days of dial-up Internet connections. You went online, did your thing, and then went offline to go on with your day. As a result of the intermittent connection you didn’t have the constant interruptions. Your email wasn’t constantly pinging, your Facebook contacts weren’t constantly demanding your attention…when you were online, you were online, but when you were offline your time was your own once again.

It is easy in this modern age to lose track of time with the constant demands of others. Instead of being present with your family and friends, we stare at our phones as we text and communicate with everyone but the ones we are with.

This needs to change.

Now that my daughter is working at a public job we are no longer able to spend as much time with one another as we have in the past. Our interactions are crammed in between her school, her work, and her studies, so it has become much more valuable. At first I didn’t realize this but when my daughter came home after a stressful day at school I knew what had to be done. I messaged my friends and told them that my daughter was off for the evening and I needed to spend time with her. I then shut my computer down and did just that. We sat and talked for hours, eventually settling down on the couch to read books. Not talking by that point, just enjoying the company of one another as we did our own thing.

Of course I was hit with a bunch of messages when I went online this morning but that’s okay. My daughter was more important and I gave her the time that we both needed to reconnect.

I went to sleep thinking about this drive we now have to be constantly online. This pointless need to check our Facebook fifty times a day and to converse online with everyone but the person we happen to be face to face with and it disturbed me to realize just how far I’ve fallen. Instead of spending time with the person I love the most I spend it online doing pointless stuff.

The thought made me so angry that I was tempted to cancel my internet on the spot. However, I realized that the problem isn’t with the Internet, it is with me personally. It’s not the fault of the Internet that I spend too much time online any more than it is the fault of food that people overeat or the problem of alcohol that people become alcoholics. The problem is with ourselves and a lack of setting limits in our lives.

So this is me, setting another limit in my life. Just like I only eat when I am hungry (and stop when I’m full) I am only going to use the Internet to check my emails and surf occasionally. Instead of being constantly online I will go on, do my thing, and then return to my peaceful offline existence.

For the record I’m not sure how well I will manage this. The hardest part will be managing the expectations of others but it is something I need to do in order to reclaim my life.

Will you join me in this new goal?

Simple Indoor Hobbies for Everyday Happiness

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Simple Indoor Hobbies for Everyday Happiness

Written by Zak Andrews. 

 

Living a simpler life means you have to see the beauty in everyday things and activities. But in the midst of a hectic lifestyle, it’s sometimes hard to have spare time to sit back and relax. People are so busy with work and some even have extra jobs on the side. Others have businesses that require almost 24/7 attention. While being productive is great and necessary in the long term, there are times people forget the simpler things they have that can also bring them joy.

Verywell.com emphasized the importance of hobbies. They not only serve as outlets to relieve stress; they also provide small pleasures and happiness. Here are some simple hobbies you can do in your home to have your everyday dose of happiness and relaxation.

Learn a craft or two

Photo: Pixabay

Picking up a craft or two will not only increase your knowledge, it will also give you a sense of fulfillment after each project you have completed. At times, the creations you make may even give you an extra source of income.

Immersing yourself in DIY tasks is an excellent hobby, due to the fact that you can choose any type of object you like to create. As such, you will be happy with what you are doing. There are furniture, decorations, gardening projects, etc. Blankets, cushions, vases and storage boxes are some of the daily house items which are easy to make.

Watch shows and play games

Photo: Pixabay

There are thousands of great TV shows out there. Shows like The Good Wife or The Walking Dead, which was conceptualized with our little town in mind, will appeal to audiences who want a dose of drama or suspense.

Meanwhile, the acclaimed fantasy title Game of Thrones may have paused after Season 6, but nevertheless lots of people are anticipating the next arc in the story and fans are temporarily getting their GoT fix through related media inspired by the sensational series. Video games based on the medieval show now attract global attention as well, thanks to the popularity of the show. The famous Telltale Games which created a version for The Walking Dead also has their own take on Game of Thrones as a decision-driven narrative game; while the popular slots game platform Spin Genie collaborated with the show to bring titles like Game of Thrones 15 Lines to GoT fans worldwide. Either way, whether watching an episode of your favorite TV series or playing its game iteration, the effect is the same: it can help you unwind after a hard day’s work.

This is not just a baseless claim either, given that the stress-reducing capabilities of these visual hobbies are backed up by science. For example, research shared by Men’s Health tackled interactive games in particular, which were found to “evoke a stronger sense of relaxation”. There’s an abundance of studies that correlate watching TV or playing video games with relaxation.

Indulge in cooking

Photo: Pixabay

Cooking is one of best hobbies you can partake in. Indulging in food is among the guilty pleasures we all succumb to from time to time. Considering that there are innumerable cuisines from various cultures, you will never run out of things to try out, not to mention that you can acquire kitchen techniques which are highly useful. In our Food section, we’ve shared topics like bread making and meat tenderizing, both of which can be utilized in everyday living.

Of course, it’s also recommended to balance the kinds of food you eat to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle. Aside from regular meals and dishes, you can also check out healthier alternatives such as gluten-free recipes.

To sum it up, happiness is all around, even in the simple things that people have or do in their homes. What’s needed is to just appreciate everything around you and make the best of what you have. Don’t worry, be happy!

Sardines

Published / by Annie / 3 Comments on Sardines

A friend of mine and her family is down from Michigan.  They want to move to this area to help me out while I get situated.

They arrived late this evening, so we removed the mattress from the sofa sleeper to make them a bed with. My couch will be a spongy sleep but it works.

When daylight comes I’ll see if I can snap a picture for you. It is wall to wall sleeping in the living room tonight. We are crammed in like sardines! Right now there are five adults  (counting my Katie since she’s almost 18), two dogs, and two cats in this tiny one-bedroom house, and we are doing just fine.

This just goes to show that you don’t need a huge house just in case you have company. If they love you, any space will do.

How did you arrange things for your last overnight visitors? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Difference Between Men and Women

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on The Difference Between Men and Women

There’s a difference in how men and women are treated in this world and it’s time I pointed out one of the major ones.

When a man says he’s broke, guys offer to loan him money.

When a woman says she’s broke, guys offer her $$ for sexual acts.

I’ve had it happen more times than I can count. Very few men in the world have responded otherwise in my experience, but the ones that do I cherish.

However, if either a man or a woman tells a female they are broke, the women generally respond with sympathy–and help out when they can.

What other differences do you notice in how men and women are treated? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Threes

Published / by Annie / 13 Comments on Threes

They say that death comes in threes. If that is the case then we’ve got one more coming to deal with.

A month after Emery’s death we received our second phone call. My middle daughter’s SO had passed away.

On top of all that, thanks to an apparent mixup with our new mail carrier my electric bill failed to arrive and we had our electric disconnected. I managed to scramble around to get it taken care of but still!

It has not been an enjoyable time around here.

This will pass as all things do. Unfortunately, things will never quite be the same again.

What have you been facing lately?

Consumerism has Gone Too Far

Published / by Annie / 10 Comments on Consumerism has Gone Too Far

The other day I discovered that there is a new fashion piece that has taken over the Internet. It is a pair of jeans with a piece of transparent plastic at the knees. Here’s a photo of them:

This is a prime example of how businesses are deliberately creating things that encourage us to spend our hard-earned money to purchase things we don’t need.

Think about it: exactly what purpose do these pants serve? Reviews say that the plastic causes your legs to sweat, sticking to your knees and becoming physically uncomfortable over time. The plastic is too high up on the leg to be useful as a knee guard for those who like to garden, so they aren’t very useful to protect your pants from stains in situations where you need to work on your knees. Considering the lack of comfort, you would definitely be better served by using an old, stained pair of pants that you already own if that’s the reason you want them.

If the purpose is purely cosmetic, purely fashion…why are you so shallow? Do you actually think anybody really cares what type of clothing you wear?

Now let’s be honest: why were these pants really created? They were created as a gimmick. People aren’t buying as many pants or whatever so the designers decided to create something controversial to spur their sales. Every time you purchase these pants or something similar you are encouraging them to market more stupid stuff to reel people in.

Stop it. Just stop buying this crap!

Seriously, how many pairs of pants do you need? How many shirts, or shoes, or underclothes do you need? I’m willing to bet that you’ve got enough clothes in your closet, right now, that would allow you to wear a completely different outfit every day for several weeks, if not longer.

You don’t need new clothes any more than you need a new car or a new television or a new computer or a new phone. What you’ve got already does the job, so stop it! Use what you’ve got already and stop giving these assholes your money. Save that money or use it for something you really need.

Until we stop encouraging these idiots they are going to continue creating artifical needs, they are going to keep designing ridiculous products in an attempt to keep us roped into working two jobs, taking extra overtime, and running up credit card debt. Do you think these businesses give a damn about you? Hell no! All they want is your money. All they want to do is keep you trapped in wage slavery until you fall down and die. Then they will focus their market on the next generation.

So stop it. Just stop. Don’t you dare let them win.

Would you like a Tiny House?

Published / by Annie / 4 Comments on Would you like a Tiny House?

If you’ve ever wanted your freedom or independence here’s something you might want to sign up for. A tiny house is going to be given away to one special person. All you have to do is apply. If you win, you agree to foot the expense to have it towed to your place of choice.

Here’s the link if you’re interested: http://www.augustasinclair.com/tiny-house-gift.html.

Good luck!

Annie

Big Book Sale

Published / by Annie

Hello everyone!

I’ve enrolled all of my books in the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale. To celebrate not only surviving yet another winter, but to give thanks for just being in one piece I’ve deeply discounted every single book, making many of them FREE.

This sale will only last a few days. Visit my Smashwords profile page to grab your copies while the sale lasts.

While you are there, please check out the other lovely books that are being offered by other Smashwords authors. There are a lot of gems there.

Peace,

Annie

Gratitude List

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on Gratitude List

One thing that has really helped during my current challenges is keeping a gratitude list. Sometimes it is a mental list, other times it is a written list, and frequently it is a combination of the two.

Here are a few things I am thankful for:

  • We have a roof over our head with electric, water, and Internet. I have no idea how I’ve managed this on my current income but I am extremely happy that I’ve accomplished it.
  • My book royalties are going in the proper direction. That feels so nice!
  • My Katie is doing well in school. She is a straight-A student and I am so proud of her.
  • I am able to read and write again. Sure, it’s not as easy as it was before I got hurt, but who cares? I can do it, and that is all that matters!
  • It was a beautiful day today. The sun was shining and life was just…good.
  • I’ve got money in my pocket. It has to go for bills but hey, it’s money. I haven’t had cash in my pocket for so long that this is a treat!
  • My belly is full. We ate a nice Spaghetti meal earlier and I am still stuffed.
  • Katie washed dishes tonight. That is always a treat!
  • We are slowly coming to terms with the loss of Emery.
  • I have a dedicated writing computer! I managed to piece together another laptop so that I no longer have to switch over whenever I want to go online. Yay!
  • The fact that my tech skills are coming back so that I can actually manage to piece together another computer! That feels heavenly!
  • Anytime I’m bored all I have to do is read the news. The current political climate makes for some interesting reading as you try to sift through the propaganda to find the truth behind it.
  • I am thankful for my ancient, aging tech even more as I read the news. My writing laptop is Windows XP and never goes online. My other laptop is now running Ubuntu Linux, so I am safer than the average bear when it comes to online spying, malware, and the like. I don’t have a television, so no worries of being spied on there. My internet connection is so slow that I would instantly know if something was using any bandwidth so I would know to check things out.
  • I have more friends than I ever imagined. Even Katie’s friends have taken to adding me on Facebook and shooting me messages to ask how we are doing. Folks I haven’t heard from in ages have been reaching out to me. That means so much.
  • Soon I will be starting a new adventure. Katie will be off to college and I will be moving on. I have no idea where I will end up but the fact that I’m so close feels amazing! For a time I never dreamed that this time would be so close.

I could go on but I don’t want to bore you. Once I get started thinking of all of the awesome things I have to be grateful for it is hard to stop.

What do you have to be grateful for? Please share in the comments below so that we can be thankful together!

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

At first I was nervous when the water started rising. “What will I do if the house floods?” I worried. I don’t exactly have the resources to move and this is the cheapest place around. The fact that it was happening 20 years to the day that I was flooded out in 1997 made me nervous as well. Would it happen again?

But then it hit me. What’s the worst that would happen?

First, I would have plenty of warning. There is a huge field that has to fill up before it gets to my place. We would be able to gather up our essential items, pack a few clothes, crate the dogs, and bug out.

Then if the house washed away we would be homeless. If the water got up that high this whole town would be considered a disaster area. There would be help available.

So you know what? We would be okay. Yeah, we would lose some stuff but who cares? Other than the critters, everything we consider essential can easily be stuffed in a couple of duffel bags apiece. For me, that means I would have a bag filled with my ancient, aging tech and important papers while the other would be filled with clothes. As for Katie, who knows what she would stuff in hers?

But the important thing is that we’re not attached to this house. We’re not even that attached to most of the stuff that’s in it. We have a small list of things that we consider essential but as for the rest? It is all replaceable.

After realizing that I relaxed. Even if the worst happened, we would be okay.

Of course, once I calmed down the water started receding. Ain’t it always the way?

Weathering Storms

Published / by Annie / 5 Comments on Weathering Storms

We have had an interesting time as of late. Not only have Katie and I lost a young friend, now the rough weather has rolled in.

That is the view across our street. The river near our house is currently at 16.44 feet. Flood stage is 20 feet, and it will touch our floor joices at 22.98 feet.

Isn’t life fun?

Fortunately it has a long way to go before I have to get worried. I will have plenty of notice before we have to worry about bugging out.

In the meantime I am working to get back on track. I wanted to let you guys know what was going on so that you would know that we are still alive.

My book royalties are starting to drift in a  positive direction. It isn’t instant but I am delighted with the change.

I’ve completed an author interview on Smashwords. You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/annienygma. If you have any other questions you would like for me to answer shoot me an email at annie(at)annienygma.com and I will add them to the list.

Also, Smashwords is having their Summer/Winter Sale starting March 5. I’ve deeply discounted all of my books on the site and made several of them free for the duration of the promotion. You will be able to take advantage of the sale on my profile page here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/annienygma.

That’s all for now. I will send out a reminder when the sale starts so that you can take advantage if you like.

Have a nice day!

In Memory

Published / by Annie / 7 Comments on In Memory

A friend of my daughter’s has died. The police are calling it an attempted murder-suicide.

I don’t know what to believe.

The young man in question was my daughter’s close friend. He was a regular visitor in my home. Just the other day he came over. We sat and watched YouTube videos while we all laughed over dumb stuff.

This is the young man who would come over and shovel my sidewalk in the winter. He would pick us up and give us rides when he would see us walking. He would give my daughter a lift home from school when she had to stay over.

And now we have to watch him be vilified on the news and in gossip.

They don’t know about the young man with a passion for video games. The one who would play for hours with our dog. The kid who would call me mom and tease me because he couldn’t think of me by any other name. The youth who enjoyed showing me strange videos just to watch my reaction, who loved to sneak up on my daughter and startle her just for a laugh.

He might be gone now but, like my daughter, I will remember.

High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on High School Parents: Beware of the C3 Scam

The other day my daughter received a letter in the mail informing her that she was selected to attend a special workshop to help her receive financial aid for college. Considering that I’m scrounging around for enough money to keep our water from being shut off today, I had her there with bells on.

Come to find out, this was just a ploy. They were marketing a service for $2,000 that would tell us what we need to do (like completing the FAFSA and study for the ACT).

My first warning sign was when they started talking about their service. My head popped up because in the letter it was indicated that the basic financial aid help was free.

The second sign that something was up was when they po-pooed the fact that my daughter has already received one scholarship plus money from the state due to her grades.

“We go after the big money,” they told us.

The third sign that something was off was when the “counselor” didn’t know an important fact about taking the ACT.

The straw that broke my back was when they told us we either had to shell out this money now or my daughter would never be able to go to college because open enrollment ended the next day.

This wasn’t my first rodeo when it comes to folks like this so after I refused we went home and looked them up. Even the Better Business Bureau is warning people about these folks. Complaints ranged from not doing what they said they would to refusing to accept their cancellations. One person reported that this company was taking money from their mother’s account two and three times a month despite the fact that the service had been cancelled (sorry, I misplaced the link on that one).

Even more interesting, my daughter went online and promptly found a number of websites that do the exact same thing that they claim to do for FREE.

So if you happen to get a letter from this company, I advise you to toss it in the trash.

The Stupidity of Self Talk

Published / by Annie / 1 Comment on The Stupidity of Self Talk

The past few days I’ve had a sick kid at home. I’ve been chowing down on jalapeño peppers as I hacked my way through writing this novel in hopes of not catching what she has.

Brilliant woman that I am, I stayed up past five in the morning on Wednesday knowing that I had to get up at 8 to take her back to the doctor. I told myself “I’ll just take a nap once we get home and start work.”

Right. Cue Johnny Depp and the strangest dream ever to keep me from getting any sleep at all. The whole dream was nothing more than dear old gorgeous Johnny waking me up every single time I tried to visit La La Land.

So I gave up trying to sleep and made a cup of coffee. I NEEDED to work on my book despite the fact that I felt like crap. I felt so bad that I was ready to just call it a loss for the night and accept a big ugly goose egg on my word count log.

But what did I do? I fired up my ancient writing rig and started talking to myself.

“Okay, Annie, here’s the deal,” I told myself. “You wanna get this book written, right?”

“Right.” (Yup, I even answered myself.)

“Well, you ain’t gonna get it done if you don’t start writing, so sit your happy butt down and knock out a single word.”

So I did.

“Now write another one, you idiot.”

Word by word I ordered myself to write. When one sentence was done I would bully myself until I managed another. By the time I finished I had 1,200 words written for the day.

I met my daily goal and then some.

The thing about having a goal is that you won’t ever achieve it if you don’t do the work; some days you won’t feel like even bothering, just like I didn’t today. When those days come you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to force yourself to get busy. It won’t be fun, but by the time you are finished you will be that much closer to wherever you want to be.

What can you do today?

The Meditative Properties of Bread Making

Published / by Annie / 2 Comments on The Meditative Properties of Bread Making

Here’s a treat from way back during my Associated Content days. Enjoy!

It’s there.

Waiting in the darkness. When you turn out the light it comes.

Whispering, worrying, tormenting.

You toss, you turn – sleep eludes as you continue to be tortured by the thoughts swirling within your mind.

Oozing, shrieking, pulling at you, dragging you inexorably toward an abyss of fear.

Finally, you can’t take it anymore. This demon, this fear, this worry, this concern – you must purge it to have peace.

Walking to the kitchen, you pull out your tools. Two cups of flour, a package of yeast – stirred and set aside.

You take care of the liquids – 2 cups of milk, perhaps one cup milk with water for the rest instead. Perhaps all water, save the milk for the kids. A tablespoon of butter or shortening, two teaspoons of sugar, few shakes of salt, warmed on the stove just so – the butter hasn’t fully melted, but the mix is warm like a baby’s bottle.

Perfect.

Combining this with your flour and yeast, you mix with your wooden spoon, mixing, thinking, adding flour one splash at a time, working as much in as you can before sprinkling the table and kneading the dough.

Knead, press, work, strain. Imagine your tormentor is in the dough as you beat and pull and knead it into submission. You breathe softly, regularly. Your worries and fears come under your control like the dough beneath your hands.

Feel the life beneath your fingers. Know you are participating in an ancient life-giving ritual. Think about your ancestors, standing, kneading just as you are at this very moment. Recall the peace they must have felt as they too worked their worries into the bread.

Finally you step back and give it a poke, smiling when the indentation disappears. It is ready.

You place it in your greased bowl, flipping it once to make sure it is evenly coated, inspecting it lovingly. Covering it with a cloth, you treat yourself to a gentle relaxing bath. Life is truly good.

Enjoy the heat; enjoy the warmth. Consider the life blossoming in the other room, rising as a result of your care. By the time you are finished, rest assured in the knowledge your loaf will be waiting for you.

Dress, dry your hair, and check upon your masterpiece. Perfect, beautiful, mounding within the bowl. Ancient, perfect peace.

Taking your fist, you gently punch it down. That air escaping is your problems, hissing away into the atmosphere. You are free!

Split your dough in half, shape and place in your pans. Or perhaps in your relief you wish to play, and braid your loaves instead? You are free now from your tormentors, enjoy yourself! Relax while you watch your life-giving creation rise again, breathing, just breathing in the knowledge that you are safe, and all is well

As your loaves bake, think about how delighted your family will be to awaken to the aroma of fresh-baked bread, as you stretch out on the couch with your favorite book, calmly glancing at the clock.

Pull the loaves out to cool, covering with a cloth, and go back to bed, knowing you have worked away your demons and can now truly rest, knowing that your family will have not only a fresh healthy treat in the morning, but knowing that everything is going to be okay.

It really is.