Categories
Finances Minimalism

This is Not the Time to Practice Minimalism

We are currently experiencing an entirely new situation. Millions of people are now out of work, told to stay home in order to control the spread of Covid-19 because that is the one thing we can do to minimize the spread and loss of life. Businesses are closing their doors and they may not be able to re-open once this is over. Some businesses that we rely on each and every day were so leveraged before this happened that they may very well fail before the “all clear” is given.

We do not know how long this will last. We will never even know how many people actually died from this here in the United States because there aren’t enough tests. My friends are dropping like flies, healthy friends. I’ve had several that were found dead already, or became sick and died. I look at the local obituaries with dread now, shocked that this is happening so fast that someone I can talk to one week will be listed in the obituaries the next. I’ve never seen so many people die in our area – and none of my friends who died were tested for coronavirus. There simply are not enough tests for that to happen.

Now, think about this.

Most of the things we buy are made in China. China is trying to restart their economy, but due to the fact that there is no vaccine for this, they could get hit again and have to shut back down. We don’t know what will happen over there, we don’t know what will happen to the other nations who manufacture the other things we need.

One thing we do know is that our nation is, for the most part, a service economy. Compared to the past, we do not manufacture near as much as we buy in this nation. I watch my governor go on television every day, begging for someone to open a PPE manufacturing plant in this state, because every time we try to buy the supplies we need, our state government gets a notice that the items we were expecting to receive have been seized by the Federal Government. From what I can tell, that’s now happening internationally. If the US can catch it in transit or whatever (and I gather the manufacturer’s headquarters are based in the US), they’re taking it.

There will be repercussions from that in the future.

We do not know what we do not know. We don’t know what will happen at the end of this story. This is why I am begging you to be cautious.

Think about it. Say you’re off because of this current situation and you think it is a great time to thin out your stuff. You’re bored, so you decide to go full-on Minimalist. You don’t see any harm in it because you believe that things will blow over soon. You can always replace the items you discard should you need them.

But what happens if you can’t? What happens if you decide to thin down your wardrobe to a week’s worth of clothes, and the clothes you decide to keep wear out before this is over? Where will you go to replace your clothes? Will you even have the money available to replace those clothes? What happens if you decide to toss that extra refrigerator in your basement and your current one dies? You can’t just hop out to Rent-A-Center and get a new one right now. You may not be able to find a store open to buy one (if you do happen to have the money). You might be able to order one, but with the chaos in our shipping systems, it could take a month or longer for a replacement to arrive. What will you do in the meantime?

I am speaking from personal experience. When I moved here, I decided to eliminate as much of my possessions as I possibly could to minimize my moving expense and to explore just how little I needed to live. I know what it is like to need a way to cook and store food and not have the money to acquire it. I know what it’s like to have the clothes you decide to keep wear out before you are able to replace them. While my situation was a bit different (my issue was money), it translates over to the current situation because not only do we NOT know if we’ll have enough money to afford to replace the items we keep that fail, we may not be able to locate replacements to purchase.

I am begging you. If it is something useful or functional, please keep it for the duration of this time. Box up your extra clothes that still fit. Save your scraps. Definitely keep your sewing supplies and other “craft” supplies for the duration. Depending upon how this plays out, you may need them.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope this blows over and we are able to go back to “business as usual.” But there is enough uncertainty surrounding this situation that we may not be able to do that for a time.

You need to prepare for that.

Excellent leaders prepare in advance for all potential scenarios. I would be remiss in my duties if I did not urge you to do the same. While I do believe that, on the whole, we own and buy much more than we need, there is a chance that you may need that excess before this is over with.

Stop throwing your stuff away! If it is functional, I am begging you to keep it. Stash your excess for now. You can always toss it when it is over.

Categories
Economy

Do What You Can, Where You Are, With What You Have

It is with a growing horror that I’ve realized over these past few days that my grandparents were right. My parents used to tease them for their decision to save most anything they came into possession of; even the tinest scraps of fabric were preserved to become quilts. Every winter, I would watch them sort through bags of old clothing and random fabric pieces, assembling those scraps into coverings that kept the family warm. I used the few quilts I had been given in my childhood until they fell apart, not because I understood their logic, but because I loved and missed them.

That memory has dominated my thoughts these past few days as I’ve kicked myself for some of the decisions I’ve made over the years.

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the excess in order to make room for the important. As practiced, it means that, when you no longer use an item you discard it in order to free up space and eliminate the need to care for it.

I experimented heavily with minimalism over the past 15 years or so. Due to that, when I moved here back in 2011 I eliminated a number of items that I never anticipated needing again.

I ran into problems almost immediately. Having left my stove, refrigerator, and other items behind, I found myself without a way to cook and store food when I moved to this house. I had to scramble in order to correct that mistake.

I made a note in my mind that, should I ever move again, I would make certain that I kept essential possessions. One doesn’t know what will happen in the future, and it is always best to be prepared. It is better to have a refrigerator one does not need than to do without when your current one dies, after all.

As the days ticked closer to marking a half-century of life, I realized that I made other mistakes while pursuing minimalism. Not only did I eliminate a number of books that would have been quite useful to have with recent events, I eliminated almost all of my sewing supplies. With the exception of a sewing kit that my daughters gifted me ages ago, every single piece of equipment I used to sew clothing and make quilts was given away – along with the massive supply of fabric that I had stockpiled over the years as I haunted yard sales and clearance aisles.

At the time, the decision made sense. Clothing and other fabric-made items were cheap and plentiful; it was easier to visit a thrift shop or a yard sale than it was to actually make things by hand.

But now things have changed. In some areas, one cannot even purchase seeds to grow a garden since they are not considered “essential.” Sewing supply stores have been forced to shutter because sewing is considered a hobby…far from “essential” in the minds of lawmakers.

Yet our medical and other essential workers need an item that we can no longer acquire easily on the open market. We all need one particular item that can no longer be easily acquired – a simple face mask.

I had more than enough tools and fabric to make a bunch of them. I even have the skills to assemble them fairly quickly in batches, but thanks to my belief that fabric would always be plentiful and that it would always be cheaper to purchase manufactured items, I eliminated every single tool I needed to construct them quickly. Even worse, I eliminated more than enough fabric to make a ton of them.

I felt horrible when my daughter asked me to make her some masks. While I knew that I had the skills to sew some by hand, I knew that it would take a lot longer than it would have if I had only kept my sewing machine and other tools. I hadn’t, so rather than continuing to curse myself I got started.

I got lucky. Come to find out, the kid had been given an old sewing machine several years ago. A friend donated some needles and oil, so I spent yesterday using a paper cutter to cut the pieces and started sewing. I watched a few videos on YouTube, combined that with my previous sewing experience, and made the first mask.

The kid wore it to work today, thankful that she now had a bit more protection as she works on the front lines.

I’ve began the process of stitching together an entire batch out of the fabric I had the kid grab for me at a local hardware store. They opened a fabric section several years back. The hardware store was allowed to remain open as an essential business; since the fabric section is in the same store, we can actually acquire a bit of fabric here.

After I ensure that my daughter has enough masks so that she doesn’t have to re-use them without washing, I intend to sew some masks for the local cashiers in the area. I’ll use what I can acquire to make that happen.

While our medical professionals desperately need masks, no one seems to be thinking about what will happen if our other essential personnel fall sick. I intend to do what I can to keep them safe.

This experience has taught me a valuable lesson. Never, ever eliminate something that has a practical use if it is still functional and you can afford to keep it. It may be considered clutter for a while, but in this world, we never know when something will happen that will cause those items to be essential again.

And as I watch the financial news with what knowledge I gleaned over those two years of researching the stock market and financial principle, I suspect that there are going to be a lot of things we need that might be a challenge to acquire for the foreseeable future.

In our current focus on medical personnel (which is completely justified), factories are switching over from making everyday clothing to medical garments. Clothing shops have been deemed non-essential, so they have been closed. I doubt that the factories assembling medical garments will be able to readily transition back to making clothes for the rest of us, so if you have it (and it fits) keep it. Even if it doesn’t fit, keep it. You can recycle the material for masks, towels, and even bedding in a pinch.

A friend of mine gifted me with a plastic tote. It has a few holes along the sides, but it will still hold dirt. I intend to use that to grow food. I’m also going to take the shovel I acquired when I buried my daughter’s cat and dig up a place in my back yard. I don’t have enough containers (or even sufficent access or money for potting soil) for dirt, so I am in hopes that I can grow a few vegetables in the back. Unlike my front yard, I doubt it has ever been graveled over and packed down for parking so it should grow food decently. I hope.

I am dreading that. I’m out of practice when it comes to growing food. That makes me nervous. However, with the shortages I am hearing about in the stores and my concern about what will happen as our essential workers fall prey to this illness, I am planning ahead. I refuse to go hungry when I know I can prevent that with a bit of manual labor.

Folks, some financial experts are already whispering the “D” word. When combined with the fact that it could take quite a while before they come up with a vaccine for coronavirus, the lockdowns might last for quite some time. In my lifetime, businesses were discouraged from keeping cash on hand to carry them through extended shutdowns. If they weren’t financed to the hilt, using “other people’s money” to expand, they were wrong. I only know of one major corporation who keeps a cash reserve, and that’s Apple. The others used their surplus over these past few years to buy back stock (the value of which has tanked and will likely go even lower). As their stock prices have tanked, highly leveraged businesses have already began to fail. One company I invested in went bankrupt so quickly when this started that I didn’t even have a chance to sell out.

And I suspect that will continue as this pandemic continues to sweep the world. The United States government can’t afford to save them all. At some point, they will have to allow Capitalism to properly rein by allowing those who do not have the resources to survive this to fail. As that happens, many businesses that we take for granted will go under. It is already starting to happen in the restaurant, hospitality and transportation industries. Airlines and bus companies are struggling alongside hotels, restaurants, and bars as well.

As people have less and less money to live on, items like computers will become unaffordable along with subscription services for software and entertainment. To me, it looks like a chain of dominoes, with the first one teetering. We can’t spend what we don’t have, after all.

So keep your stuff. Hold on to it until we get through this, at least. If I’m right, you may need those items in the future.

As for me, I have learned an invaluable lesson. This time, whenever I acquire something that is useful, I intend to hold onto it regardless if the world believes it is clutter. I intend to recycle what I can moving forward, and I don’t care what it looks like. Like my grandparents before me, I will wear the badge of conservation with pride.

I need to close for now. I have some masks to assemble.

Categories
Finances

Cautious Preparation

If you’ve paid attention to the news, some workers are discussing the possibility of striking due to what they believe to be unsafe conditions in the workplace thanks to the spread of Covid-19. I found an article the other day about Purdue workers walking out because of their concerns.

Before this hit our news feeds I realized that our supply lines might possibly be in danger due to Covid-19. If the current workers fall ill, would anyone want to step up and replace them? While I hope that my concerns are unfounded, I decided to do a little something now to ease my concerns.

I’ve recycled some containers, converting them into pots. Within these pots I’ve began to grow some vegetables from kitchen scraps and seeds. I have a challenge obtaining seeds since my daughters have joined the chorus echoed by friends and family that I need to stay home for my safety but my youngest has assured me that, as soon as her store manages to acquire some seeds, that she will buy some packets for me.

In the meantime I have started the few packets I managed to obtain before those around me began to pressure me to remain at home. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

The modern food chain revolves around workers in the field, the shipping companies, and in the stores. What will happen when more of those workers fall ill to this virus?

While I am not panicked, I have given thanks that I live in a somewhat rural area. There is a slaughterhouse nearby for meat, and a number of my friends raise gardens out of habit. Even with that I feel that preparation is best.

I have personally taken a “plan for the worst, hope for the best” attitude to this situation. As I watch more companies struggle, in a worst-case scenario they will fall like dominoes in time. I don’t even want to think of what will happen to our medical system, local, state, and federal governments. I can’t change it, so I see no point in stressing over it.

I look around for the things I can do right here, right now, with what I currently have available. I can keep my house clean. I can recycle plastic containers to use for pots, I can grow a little bit of food, and I can distract myself by reading books and journaling to keep myself sane. I can also eliminate leftovers entirely as I do all of this, which is something I have done. These little things may prove to be helpful in time, or I may end up laughing at my over-reaction once this is over.

In the meantime, the steps that I am taking allow me to sleep at night without stress. They allow me to sit upon my front porch and enjoy the sunlight without worrying much over the future. What will come cannot be stopped, but I can rest easy in the knowledge that I am doing what I can just in case things become even worse.

What are you doing to pare down your expenses and prepare for a potentially darker future? 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!

Categories
Frugality

How to Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic Without Bathroom Tissue

I never imagined that the time would arrive when the crazy things I’ve done to save money or live on less would be helpful to a large group of the population. I started doing the things I’m doing just to save money in order to be a stay-at-home single mother to my kid, and I’ve caught so much flak for that decision since then that for the most part I keep my eccentricities to myself these days.

That was before the fights started. Just today, a fight broke out at a local store over bathroom tissue. My daughter’s store is struggling to keep toilet paper in stock along with a number of other items. From what I can discern, the local police in this area are becoming hard-pressed to keep the peace with the shortages we have in our town alone.

If it is this bad in our little town, I shudder to think of what it is like for those who live in major cities. The worst part of this entire situation is that none of us know when the chaos will end.

I’ve spent my days recently documenting this point in history. I’m logging the things I hear and see as well as collecting the occasional news article now that I’ve noticed a few web pages disappear. I don’t know what I’ll do with this chronicle; perhaps it may help my grandkids understand this time period at some point in the future when they become old enough to ask questions.

For now, however, I am more concerned about the bathroom tissue (toilet paper) shortages that seem to be sweeping the nation. Folks all over seem to sense that things could become even more challenging in the upcoming months so they are trying to stock up. I don’t blame them. That said, it makes things hard when you need to wipe your butt and you don’t have anything to wipe it on.

Years ago I wrote several articles about family cloths. I eliminated our use of not only bathroom tissue during that time, but my personal use of sanitary pads as well. For those who may be worried about the shortage of bathroom tissue I am going to republish the original article. I hope it helps.

What are Family Cloths?

Family cloths are a substitute for bathroom tissue. You can take old tee-shirts, washcloths, or other soft fabrics to use when you clean yourself after you go to the bathroom. While you are stuck at home, you can also use them as menstrual pads. They are more bulky than commercial options, but since the US has an apparent shortage of bathroom tissue, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up with a shortage of menstrual products as well.

Hesitations About Using Family Cloths

The first hesitation some have is the instant ick factor associated with using cloth and washing it as opposed to using disposable paper. There is not much difference in washing family cloths than dirty underwear-both contain bodily solids and fluids.

The second hesitation is a concern over cleanliness. When wiping with cloth as opposed to paper you are free to use an extra cloth or so if you feel “less than fresh”-just toss it in the wash and you can reuse it. Compare this to regular bathroom tissue-how many children get scolded and conditioned to use less tissue to save money in the family budget? Have you seen the underwear of children conditioned to conserve bathroom tissue? It’s not a pretty sight. With family cloths you can encourage your family members to use what is needed to get clean, and even provide a bottle of liquid to help them with the chore!

The third hesitation is the gross-out factor of washing the cloths, but using the proper method you will not have to touch the soiled cloths.

The fourth hesitation is summed up as “What will the neighbors (family, friends) think?” Properly executed, no one will notice that you are using family cloths unless you actually tell them.

How to Begin Using Family Cloths

To actually begin using family cloths very little is needed.

The supply list:

  • Washcloths (old tee-shirts, cut into pieces, makes an excellent and inexpensive substitute)
  • Covered bucket or pail
  • Water
  • 1/4 cup bleach or vinegar
  • Squirt of dish soap or laundry detergent

Step One – Preparing the Family Cloth Bucket

Prepare your bucket by filling half full of water and adding 1/4 cup of bleach or vinegar and a splash of soap. Soaking the cloths in this solution will reduce odors and germs as well as allowing the cloths to come cleaner in the wash. If you do not have bleach or vinegar add some borax to the water instead, but bleach is the preferred liquid for its germ-killing properties. If your bucket is small or large you may want to increase or decrease the amount used. A half ounce of bleach per gallon of water makes a very weak sanitizer solution that is used to clean food preparation surfaces in restaurants. Do not use too much bleach-this will damage your cloths.

Place this bucket in an inconspicuous place within reach of your commode. I use a re-purposed laundry detergent bucket placed between the commode and vanity-my washer and dryer are in my bathroom, so no one notices a container of laundry detergent nearby! This is where you will store the used cloths until washday.

Step Two – Placing the Family Cloths

Place a pile or basket of washcloths within reach of the commode. The reason washcloths are chosen over other fabrics like re-purposed tee-shirts or flannel is simple: camouflage. No one thinks twice about a pile of washcloths in a bathroom, so you can hide these in plain view! Extra cloths can be purchased inexpensively at places like Wal-Mart-in January of 2010 the Southside Paducah Wal-Mart was selling an 18-pack of washcloths in white or a color assortment for $4.

Make sure you keep a roll of bathroom tissue in plain view at all times-this will make you look like you are using bathroom tissue the same as “everyone else.”

Step Three – How to Use Family Cloths

When you use the restroom grab a washcloth and use it to wipe instead. If you want to get really clean take a re-purposed squirt bottle (a dishwashing liquid or shampoo bottle is perfect) and fill with water and add a couple drops of tea tree oil (antiseptic), a couple drops or olive or mineral oil (skin conditioning – you can even use hair conditioner or lotion here), and a couple drops of liquid soap. Squirt this liquid on your cloth before wiping your private areas to get really clean.

When you are finished wiping place the cloth in the covered bucket, flush the commode and wash your hands.

Step Four – How to Wash Family Cloths

Take the bucket and pour it into your washer. Spin the water out of the cloths and wash them in hot water with bleach. Use vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse to get them extra clean. Dry well and place the cloths back in use.

Notes about using Family Cloths

Do not use a trash can to store your family cloths in. Someone will invariably toss a nasty piece of trash in there for you to fish out. Marking it as “Do Not Use” will only raise questions from company. Concealment is key. You can place your bucket in a covered wicker basket, or even stash it in the bottom of a laundry hamper-just do not use a trash can or diaper pail unless you are prepared for discovery.

Further Reading

If you are interested in my personal adventures with family cloths, you can check out the posts below. They are old but you may find them relevant to your situation.

Family Cloths

Family Cloth challenge

Forgetting the Family Cloth

Family Cloth and Company

Family Cloth Savings

Simplicity of Menstrual Cloths

On another note, I am also concerned that we may have shortages of items (or money) in the future. If you find yourself in that situation, you may want to check out my books discussing how to live on less:

The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing And You Can Too

The Minimalist Cleaning Method

I’ve written a few more related books. Rather than bore you, here is my page that contains links to some of the retailers that offer my books for sale. I’ve kept the prices low even during this chaos.

While I wish that I could afford to offer these books for free, I have to eat as well. Thanks to the Coronavirus, that eliminates me going out to get a job at the moment so that I can afford to do that. As I’ve said over the years, however, I keep the prices low for a reason. I am not trying to get rich, just pay the bills. At the age of 50, I am in the age group that this stuff is hitting rather hard, so I would rather not risk getting a public job at this time even if I could find one. With our local economy at a standstill, I doubt I could find a job even if I wanted.

If you believe that these books may help a friend, please feel free to share them. I don’t care if you buy a single copy and pass it around if it helps make this easier. Just remember that this old woman needs to eat as well.

Thank you.

Categories
Economy Health

The New Normal

“If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”

Unknown

The world is under siege by an invisible threat that is overwhelming our medical community to the point where desperate measures are being taken to reduce the spread.

Oddly enough, now that things are coming to pass I feel an odd sense of peace. I suspected that things would be seriously affected in our nation since the Wuhan lockdown in January, so I no longer have to wonder what is going to happen next. My worst fears are coming to pass. The unknown is now the known, which gives me a sense of relief.

I can deal with the known. It’s the unknown possibilities that frighten me.

The last time I left the house was on Friday, March 13. A friend of mine had purchased a television and didn’t know how to connect her devices to it. I take care of my friends so, despite the risk, I went to her home and got it sorted. I am well-aware of the fact that, as things continue to be shut down, that the television will become her lifeline so I wanted to ensure that she was ready, especially since she has yet to fully comprehend the coming changes.

In the midst of the chaos that marks our local community, my daughter’s boyfriend came in on leave. They were married by the County Judge, who was delighted to take a break to participate in something happy for a change. Her husband has since retured to his base in California to see what happens with his scheduled deployment.

So for now, all we can do is wait this out.

My daughter’s job won’t be affected too much. She works in a grocery store, a venue that shouldn’t be shut down in the foreseable future. I’ve got enough money held back to survive for a couple of months. We’ve stocked up our supplies to the point where we can hold out for at least a month if it comes to that. I’ve resisted the urge to stock even more, since the majority of folks in my area did not realize that the situation was so serious until the other day so they are desperately attempting to make up for lost time by hitting the stores hard. They need more access to food and supplies than I do at this point.

One of my closest friends is now in quarantine, so I divide my time between keeping their spirits up as well as checking in on my other friends who are frightened at the changes sweeping the nation. I’m not getting much sleep as a result of that; the different time zones I am dealing with mean that I get to bed in the wee hours of the morning and am awakened not very long after. I nap when I can to compensate.

We aren’t going to be able to escape this, my friends. All we can do is move forward. The challenge we face worldwide is to slow the spread as much as we can to minimize the burden upon the international health systems. The only way we can do that is to stay at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact by maintaining a significant air gap between us and other people. We also need to exercise abundant caution with our personal hygiene by keeping our hands washed and so forth. I’m certain you already know that, so I won’t belabor the point.

If you’ve not stocked up on food and supplies for at least two weeks, I urge you to do so now. While I hope that food and supplies will remain in supply, I am uncertain about the ability of local groceries to keep some things in stock. I hope you will prepare accordingly.

This is going to get ugly, folks. It is going to get ugly, and it is going to be scary. While I see our state governors taking charge and doing their best, I am honestly uncertain of how much help (if any) that the average person will receive from the Federal Government here in the United States. To avoid any danger of being misled, I’ve taken to watching our President’s speeches. Thus far I’ve heard our President bail out the oil industry, encourage the FED to inject a fortune into the stock market and so forth, and announce that he is in talks to bail out the airline and cruise ship industries. Aside from promising an increased availablity of test kits, I’ve not heard our President speak much about concrete plans to help those directly affected by this.

That makes me extremely nervous.

I am not going to lie. Based upon the speeches I have personally watched, I’ve caught our President in several lies just over the past few days. I don’t know if those lies are meant to reassure the general public or not, but between those and the fact that he seems more interested in bailing out the corporations than he is in helping the average person, I have little faith that the United States Government is going to be much help in this. Fortunately our state governors are really stepping up to the plate, which gives me immense hope.

Dr. Fauci gives me hope as well. I have taken to watching his speeches and interviews since he is about the only one in our Federal Government that I trust to speak the truth. The picture he paints for the future is not a pleasant one, but at least it’s honest.

So buckle up and hunker down, folks. It’s about to get real.

Sending prayers, Annie

Categories
Health

Kentucky’s Current Coronavirus Epicenter

On March 6, 2020, my town received some disturbing news: Kentucky’s first Coronavirus patient was a resident of our area.

The tragic part of this is, due to the draconian screening methods used, this person was refused the test for Coronavirus and sent home initially. Given her place of employment, we suspect she worked at her job until she returned as the symptoms continued. Once again, she did not meet the testing criteria. By that point, however, she was so ill that they sent her to UK Medical Center in Lexington, where she was finally allowed to be tested for Coronavirus. She tested positive. Based upon reports from the family, she is currently on a ventilator.

Here is the statement our local hospital released concerning their attempts to properly diagnose her:
https://www.harrisonmemhosp.com/https%3A//www.harrisonmemhosp.com/node/COVID-19

Our town is in an uproar. We live in a small town, so we know who she is and where she worked. We also doubt that the store in question properly sanitized her workplace after she was diagnosed. The place certainly didn’t shut down. Here is a statement from the store in question:
https://www.lex18.com/walmart-issues-statement-in-response-to-coronavirus-concerns

As a result of this, our area now has one doctor, one Physician’s Assistant, at least one nurse, a number of hospital staff, and some family members currently in quarantine:
https://www.lex18.com/healthcare-workers-who-treated-harrison-county-patient-with-coronavirus-in-quarantine

Given the fact that we are a town with approximately 6,300 residents, this has significantly impacted our area’s ability to provide for those in need of medical care.

Our local leaders have been wonderful. Schools have been closed and all public gatherings discouraged. That said, I am furious at the United States government for this.

You see, Trump has stated that he wants to keep the number of confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases low:
https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-reportedly-wanted-coronavirus-numbers-kept-as-low-as-possible-2020-3?op=1

How better to keep them low than by not allowing people to be tested?

And how ‘nice’ it would be for our governmental leaders if our disabled and elderly were to die, because if they die, the US government will no longer have to pay Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to support these people in their Golden years and through their time of need?

Think about it. An illness hits the United States that primarily targets the elderly and the physically compromised. That demographic is typically unable to work or have already retired. What better way for our government to reduce how much it pays out in those dreaded ‘entitlement’ payments than to allow an illness like that to run rampant? After all, it’s ‘only killing old people,’ as so many have stated.

Even worse, our nation allowed a family from our area, a family who lived in Hong Kong, to come to our area when COVID-19 hit Hong Kong without placing them into quarantine. Our little town is incensed at the US government’s carelessness to the point that the local paper, who ran a front-page article when the family arrived, posted this statement on Facebook:

I do not know if it was a coincidence that this woman and her family arrived here from Hong Kong just a few weeks before our first case was diagnosed. I do not know if she happened to shop at the place our first official victim of Coronavirus worked. I do know that it is a very small town with a limited number of stores, so this is a definite possibility. I also know that it is possible that her and her family were asymptomatic carriers. They may have introduced it to our area without even realizing it:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/26/health/coronavirus-asymptomatic.html

I am not faulting this family if that was the case. I am not faulting the poor woman who may have had to work while ill, because in this area, you are forced to work unless you are half-dead.

And apparently you are not allowed to be tested for this new thing unless you’re half dead as well, since Trump wants to keep our numbers down.

I feel so bad for the woman who is currently on a ventilator at the UK Medical Center in Lexington. I feel so bad for those who are currently in quarantine. I feel horrible for the family who may have unwittingly introduced this infection among our populace. They will never know if they did and I am certain that will weigh upon their conscience.

This makes me wonder even more if my grandson had the virus but wasn’t allowed to be tested. It makes me wonder if I had a mild case, and wonder if my friends who have presented similar symptoms were infected as well. It makes me wonder just how far the United States has fallen, that they care so little for their population that they are allowing an illness that has proven deadly to the elderly and disabled run rampant. We live in a nation where one of our reporters has actually suggested that this disease should be given to everyone, after all:
https://www.businessinsider.com/cnbc-host-everyone-should-get-coronavirus-to-save-economy-2020-3?op=1

Please protect your elderly. Check on them to make certain they have what they need. I have no doubts that they are watching the news with growing horror, knowing that our government is hoping that they will die.

And if you pray, please pray that our first official victim lives, and that our national government receives enough pressure to start testing more people. There have only been ten people tested in our state so far, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Categories
Food

Coronavirus Concerns

The disparity between the news reports I am reading about the Coronavirus outbreak are concerning. Despite the fact that documents have been leaked from China that reveal the official numbers have been under-reported, despite the fact that these people, who have been raised in a culture of compliance are risking prison if they share reports on social media, there are far too many taking that risk for us not to pay attention.

Yet the official news is ignoring that fact and taking the official reports at face value.

While I understand that the official totals for the US are low, I’m also well-aware of the fact that they aren’t testing a lot of people. A woman in Californa wasn’t tested for a bit too long because of the criteria that one must meet to qualify for the testing. My middle daughter and I have visited the UK Medical Center multiple times since her newborn daughter was transferred there shortly after her birth. Middle daughter’s eldest was diagnosed with the flu, pneumonia, and diarrhea during this time. His fever remained high for several days but he wasn’t hospitalized. The medical professionals questioned my daughter thoroughly about any contact her or my grandson have had with people outside of this area. She couldn’t think of any (she didn’t think about the international nature of the UK Medical Center) so he was not tested for this new strain of Coronavirus. He is slowly recovering.

There are several people at my youngest daughter’s work who have been diagnosed with similar issues. She became ill but had to keep working. I came into contact with people at the UK Medical Center, my Middle Daughter, my grandchildren, and my youngest, and I ended up falling ill with those same nasty symptoms. My fever finally broke so I am recovering.

I suspect that there are people being diagnosed with the same thing my grandson had who may have the Coronavirus who, like my grandson, are not being tested at present. As a result, they could recover or not depending upon the degree of their symptoms but the chances of them getting tested for this new thing are low so if they were infected, those numbers would not show up on the official totals.

This means that there is a slight possibility that the virus is spreading in our communities but not being officially diagnosed.

Whether it is or it isn’t, I have realized that the potential is there. No nation wants to panic their citizens so all of them are going to keep the official numbers as low as possible. However, if, and only if an outbreak is truly bad, by the time we as citizens will be notified that outbreak will be well under way. We are already seeing disruptions in our supply chains on a small scale today, but in the case of a panic, we could see our store shelves empty if we are all ordered to quarantine ourselves.

Due to this possibility, my youngest and I have decided to stockpile a bit of food. We’ve filled our pantry and intend to fill our freezer just in case. If it is nothing, we won’t have to purchase food for quite a while. If it does end up being serious, then we will be prepared. Several of my friends have started to do the same.

While I am not advising people to panic, the disparity between the official reports and my personal experiences of late have given me cause to be watchful and concerned. I may not be an expert in the medical field but it will cause no harm for people to stock up a bit on food just in case.

Pureed jalapenos used as a dip or on sandwiches works wonders for a variety of ailments. I have been living on a diet of that along with cayenne pepper and local honey for several days just to stay on my feet. Should you decide to stock up, grab a jar or two of jalapenos, dump them in a blender, puree well, and add it to your diet. Moisten ground cayenne pepper, mold into a ball, coat liberally with local honey, and swallow whole to help your throat and immune system as well.

Aside from that, keep your hands well-washed, keep your clothing well-laundered. Add a disinfectant to your wash to help with germs. Microfiber cloths and warm water will help remove germs from hard surfaces in your home. Wash them separately and disinfect them well before you return them to use. If you want to be super-cautious, supplement with disinfecting wipes or spray.

I’ve collected a small stockpile of both since several in my family have fallen ill.

Please look out for the elderly in your area. They seem to be the hardest hit.

And if you do fall ill from anything suspicious, try not to infect others. Go to bed, get some rest, and, if you can afford it or feel safe doing so, get checked out by a doctor.

Above all, be safe and cautious. I suspect that this batch of sickness may be worse than the official news is reporting.

Categories
Personal

Chaos

Due to pregnancy complications, at first one of my children and her newborn daughter were hospitalized. Now, my daughter has been released but her newborn has been taken to UK Children’s Center.

It has been a chaotic few weeks as I deal with this issue. While I would like nothing more than to talk about it here (I could use a shoulder to cry upon), I do not want to disrespect my daughter by sharing more than she has chosen to share publicly.

As I sit here, running on caffeine and adrenaline, the urge to bare my soul is intense but my morals disagree. This affects my daughter and my newest granddaughter; it would not be respectful for me to share this piece of their life without permission. Even as I have shared stories of those around me over the years, this is one story I cannot.

One bright side to this story that I can share is that I have been able to spend more time with my middle daughter and my other grandchildren as a result of this chaos. I spent a portion of time yesterday playing peek-a-boo with my toddler granddaughter. She would play that game as well as kick off one of her shoes and ask me to fetch things to her as part of the game, giggling every time that her grandma patiently participated in her antics.

That has been an immense bright spot in my recent days.

For now I have to sort some things around the home quickly. I am going to spend the night in the hospital this evening, so I need to sort things here before I leave.

Once the chaos settles I promise to return to my writing. In the meantime, I hope that you will bear with me.

Peace,
Annie

Categories
Life

Pheromones and Predators

Back in the early 1980’s my dad brought home a new dog – and a changed viewpoint on animals.

He had been out on the farm, sorting the cattle my uncle raised when, upon hearing a cacophony, he looked up to see what he thought was a little red fox being chased by a pack of dogs.

Foxes are not popular animals to farmers. They kill chickens and smaller livestock so when farmers see them, they kill them. Dad knew this, but he also had a soft heart. He didn’t want the animal to suffer needlessly, so he decided that he would kill the little fox quickly to avoid the upcoming torture and moved to intervene.

When the little fox spotted him, it changed direction. It barreled straight for my father and jumped into his arms.

That was when my father realized that it wasn’t a fox the dogs were chasing, it was a tiny red female dog. She was in heat and absolutely terrified. He kicked the pack of baying males away, sheltering the trembling animal in his arms as he retreated to his vehicle. He swiped a tear away as he recounted the story.

As the little dog he named “Foxie” gratefully settled in at our home over the next few days, he accepted all of the affection she gave him. He was her hero and she was determined to show him her gratitude.

“I never thought about it before,” Dad shared as she went out of heat and became his constant companion, “but it must be terrifying to be a female animal. Your hormones change and all of a sudden males come out of nowhere determined to breed. All of the years I’ve sat by and watched it but until Foxie jumped into my arms, I never knew. But she had to be terrified to jump into the arms of a complete stranger. I thought she was going to tear me into pieces until I looked into her eyes.”

~

As Spring approaches our tiny town I remember that little dog. As the weather warms I see the young girls coming out to play in the sunlight. When they hit puberty, the people those young girls hang out with change. Instead of roaming the streets with other females their age, the packs become predominantly male.

It makes me wonder: do human females exude pheromones as well?

I’ve searched for that answer several times over the years. From what I can tell, the science is inconclusive. Human females can become pregnant at almost any point during their menstrual cycle so I guess to science, the point is irrelevant.

I know something happens when human females hit puberty, however. Around the time I had my first period I was stick-thin. I was more interested in play than I was in boys so I spent my summers, stringy-haired and covered in dirt, playing in the creek and wandering the hills but during this time, more and more boys wanted to play with me.

Males young and old began talking to me more, wanting to spend time with me. They would surprise me with treats and random favors. The older males that my dad considered friends would talk to my non-existent chest instead of my face. The “innocent” touches and “accidental” contacts were focused on certain areas of my developing body. The sparks I felt within at the touches were simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.

Just looking back at my own behavior I can see shadows of that little dog. At first I would be flattered and then I would get scared. When I became scared, I retreated to my dad’s side or hid in my room.

And my dad promptly banned me from leaving the yard on my own.

Now I see the young girls on social media and out in public. I hear the whispers from the elders as they watch the pattern. On every post, a pack of males call every photo beautiful. Every move that they make is followed. Even my middle daughter, who is approaching her late 20s and pregnant, is worshiped both in real life and online. The words used to describe them range from crude to poetic.

If human females do exude pheromones when they enter into puberty, would that knowledge change our society? It’s not like it is something that we could consciously control. If it exists, it is a biological process, designed to attract males and incite them to mate.

Could it be that the young girls we call sluts are simply victims of biology? Could it be that the men who pursue them are the same? Could females be exuding some chemical that makes them desirable, makes men far older than them go crazy with the urge to mate?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. They are heavy on my mind this morning because I stumbled upon a social media page that “outs” what our society considers predators. The man in the video I watched had traveled over two hours to pick up what he believed was a 14-year old girl for sex. The chat logs leading up to that encounter made it obvious.

As I watched that nonviolent confrontation it made me think back, not only to that little dog but to my own experience and that of other females. Starting around puberty, the behavior of the males around us changed and part of me wonders if, despite the fact that I want to name the men monsters and do horrible things to them, if perhaps my view of the situation is inaccurate.

What if, just what if the female body at the onset of puberty does begin to exude pheromones to attract a male? What if we are all so close to the situation that we don’t even think about it? What if the males, scenting a female that is on the verge of fertility, begins to instinctively pursue her?

And what if teenage sex and pregnancies are the result of newly fertile females, not knowing how to deal with the pursuit, finally surrendering?

Because Foxie, that little dog who ran to my dad, would have eventually surrendered. She would have exhausted herself as she ran until she was incapable of escaping. I’ve seen that happen in the past in the animal kingdom and now I wonder if that is what happens to us humans as well.

What do you think? Do you believe it is possible that pubescent females exude pheromones that attract males to them? If you set your preconceived notions of child predators and young sluts aside, can you see what I have seen? And if it is true, if human females do exude a pheromone that attracts males to them, how do we as a society deal with that? Do we leave it alone or what? 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!

Categories
Life

Politically Incorrect, Morally Questionable, or Technically Illegal

As I delved into this novel about a grandmother who stumbles upon something morally reprehensible while doing something illegal, it occurred to me that there are a range of topics that I’ve not allowed myself to discuss on this website. These are things that poor people do just to survive. They aren’t in it for profit; in fact, when their finances are steady they abandon the procedures. But when the chips are down and they need to put food on the table, these are the routines that they fall back on.

I’ve never thought about the self-censorship I’ve employed. As friends and family have suggested that I write about certain things, I simply didn’t write about them or I changed them in ways to make them unrecognizeable.

For instance, it’s illegal to remove the tags from pillows and mattresses. There are people who find those tags unappealing for a variety of reasons, yet I cannot tell you whether I am among that number for fear that my post will lead the Mattress Gestapo to my door.

Another example that used to be common a decade or so back involved software, movies and music discs. Parents would burn copies of their expensive originals for their kids. Rather than allow their children to scratch up a disk that cost them $20, $30, and sometimes more, they would let the children use the copies while the originals were stored away. They didn’t do this for profit; they did this to protect their originals from damage. But this procedure was considered evil enough that operating system manufacturers began to limit and remove the ability from modern operating systems because these parents were “stealing” — costing millions of dollars of injury to the original producers of the item. That’s actually one of the reasons that software manufacturers started listing their products in online marketplaces. While they stated that it was for “convenience,” it was actually to prevent parents from practicing these preservation procedures.

I’ve read tales in years gone by of minimalists who, determined to remove physical clutter from their lives to be a bigger dog in the primordial pissing contest who would rip the contents of their music and movie discs to their computer and sell the originals.

That’s highly illegal since the money received from the physical copies is considered pirating so you don’t hear that discussed now.

I’ve got an entire case of music CDs in my home right now due to the illegality of the practice. Rather than sell the ancient music CDs I’ve acquired over the years once I rip them, I eliminate the cases and stash the originals in a binder. You see, it’s not technically illegal to rip your music to a computer so that you can listen to it on a broad range of devices, it’s just illegal to sell or dispose of the originals.

The originals are proof that you legally obtained your digital music, you see.

If you want to thin down your physical book collection by scanning the pages to create a digital copy, guess what? You’re breaking the law as well. While it’s acceptable if you have proof that you actually owned the physical copy at some point in the past (so that you can argue that you were the one who scanned it), it’s part of a legal gray area that’s best left untouched.

And don’t you ever dare to think about sharing a digital copy of a book with a friend. That’s considered pirating, my friends.

Yet there are people all around who practice these little things. They don’t do it for profit, they do it because they feel that if they bought the original item that they should have the right to change the format, back up their originals, or share them with a friend for free.

Some companies are even now fighting to make it illegal for you to fix your stuff. I stumbled upon an article about this the other day. They are involved in a court case stating that it isn’t “safe” for the average person (or even a shade-tree tech) to maintain, upgrade, or repair the devices. John Deere is currently turning farmers into pirates due to this. They are purchasing illegal software produced in foreign nations to hack the software in their tractors just so they can fix the things without facing an outrageous bill from the John Deere corporation.

None of these farmers can write about the practice on the Internet. If they did, they would be providing evidence that could be used against themselves in a court of law.

And finally, there is the court of Political Correctness that seems to be running rampant in our society. Back when I worked a public job a police officer came into the store searching for a suspect. He didn’t say who or why; he just provided me a description of the person. He visited all of the stores in our little area, so us managers were all gossiping. The poor officer must have felt the fear that his description would be considered politically incorrect and therefore punishable because, depending upon the race of the person he asked about the suspect, he would either include or leave out the color of the suspect’s skin.

Those of us who shared the suspect’s skin color were rather shocked at that discrepancy. That single piece of information may have helped us identify the person better yet this officer was so worried about his job that he felt the need to leave it out when asking those of us who shared the suspect’s skin color.

Yet to me, skin color is not a discriminatory issue. It’s a color, for goodness’ sake! Seriously, I know for a fact that I’m a poor white Cracker every single time I look in the mirror. It’s not going to offend me if somebody uses my color when they describe me. The tragic part of that is the fact that I have friends in a rainbow of colors who feel the exact same way. As long as the terms are used as a description and not an insult, as a whole we see no harm in the practice.

Yet people can lose their careers over that.

I’ve heard of folks who used what they consider to be their right to free speech in our nation that have lost their jobs because they stated beliefs that were considered “hostile.” While some of those people may have gone overboard (it’s not for me to judge), shouldn’t they have the right to express their views without being persecuted for their beliefs? After all, there is a line between words and actions. It’s one thing to say that you believe all … oh, let’s use a term most everyone can agree to hate … infant sexual abusers should be … treated, or perhaps punished in a certain way. As long as they don’t go out, track down one of these infant sexual abusers and do that to the person, shouldn’t they have a right to express their opinion of what should be done if said person molested their toddler?

And if you look at the paragraph above, you will notice that I censored myself yet again. I didn’t want to censor myself, I just did. I may still receive hate mail because of that, because even the topic is considered a hate topic in certain circles.

The very stories I grew up with in my childhood, stories whose names I don’t dare to repeat here are being rewritten by the Moral Majority or outright banned. I grew up with those stories, yet I cannot locate a physical copy of the stories in question because they are considered wrong now. Fortunately, some of these stories are out of copyright so it is actually legal to download a digital copy of the original texts. Yet I don’t dare confirm or deny that I’ve saved copies of the original stories from my childhood because I know that it would label me some sort of racist monster.

It’s getting to the point where I wish that I would have never allowed those in my physical circles to know that I actually have this website because it drastically limits what I can safely discuss in this realm. As it is, I’ve taken to publishing my fiction under a variety of pen names that I don’t tell anyone about for safety.

Some of the nonfiction books I have published have resulted in grief from my physical circles as it is. My view on things is a bit different from several around me so I burned some friendships when they stumbled across the titles online.

The sad part about the entire situation is that those who know me well understand that I don’t hate anyone. I may disagree on certain subjects, but I am open enough to consider other views and alter my personal opinions when the case warrants it. I avoid confrontation like the plague. I grew up in a home filled with violence and I want no part of that, yet now I have to censor my words and alter my “personal beliefs” depending upon the person I happen to be talking to.

I don’t even dare to share my innermost personal beliefs with you because someone from my physical world may stumble across them and use them against me in some manner.

That is the world we live in now, a world where we censor ourselves automatically for personal safety. A world where we cannot discuss the things we actually do just to survive, not to profit, but because the things we are forced to do are illegal, morally questionable, or politically incorrect.

Hell, just my stated opinion that in order to change things within our government that we should do what we can to stop giving the major corporations our money labels me an extremist. My personal use of the Linux operating system had me on a watchlist years back. A coffee shop I used to frequent received a notice that they should report the names and info of their customers who used it because we were all potential cyber-terrorists. We weren’t cyber-terrorists; my friends and I were tired of Windows crashing all of the time so we started encouraging our less technically inclined friends to try Linux instead. We would sit in that coffee shop, installing Linux or helping newbies install it because that’s what Linux was about yet our own government considered us the bad guys.

I was so spooked that I eventually bought a Mac, though I didn’t dare state that reason here. I just stopped writing about it and went underground. I have had that hanging over my head for years now, wondering how to handle it. Now that my kids are grown I no longer care. I used Linux to bring an almost seven-year old laptop out of mothballs so I could sit at my kitchen table and sit in the sunlight to write while having the ability to work on my stuff at the library or a coffee shop, and I’m tired of concealing that fact. The laptop in question was manufactured by a company that offers these exact same laptops with the option of Linux or Windows, so I doubt that they would legally persecute me for the switch. Microsoft might disagree, however. By switching to Linux I avoided paying the “Microsoft Tax” for an upgrade that would have rendered this old system unuseable.

I’ve got friends who stock up on groceries that have shared this with me in secret. It’s on a watchlist somewhere that people who stock up are considered “preppers.” Collect weapons and you’re another sort of extremist even if all you do is dust them.

And I don’t dare write about these things. Poor, honest people who stock up during tax time because they know that they won’t be able to afford a lot of food until next tax season are doing it in secret. I know of people who are actually concealing their stockpiles within their furniture or otherwise disguising it out of fear. The sad part is that when I had kids I did the exact same thing. I would spend hundreds of dollars buying stuff in bulk because I never knew if I could afford to feed my kids if I didn’t. I wasn’t preparing for the end of the world or whatever it is some think I was doing. I was making sure I had food on the table because I didn’t want myself or my kids going hungry. And just like my friends are doing now, I hid it from general knowledge. I concealed it in totes and called it clutter.

I have books in my possession that I don’t dare reveal to the public. I collected them for ideas and to expand my knowledge because I was curious yet those very same books could label me in negative ways so I hide them. As I stated earlier, some of those books are from my childhood yet I don’t dare mention them here.

Last night one of my daughters messaged me with a brilliant post idea about one of the ways that people in a financial bind stretch their money. I wrote the idea down with the intention of writing about it this morning yet with the cold light of day I realized that I couldn’t. Due to the current nature of our society, my discussion of this practice might get people in trouble. It is real, it is happening all around me, yet I don’t dare mention it even in passing.

I intend to save the idea and write about it in fiction. It seems that fiction is the only safe place to discuss certain practices anymore. It allows the author to disclaim the procedure by calling it a lie.

It saddens me to think that the only safe way to discuss certain things is in whispers or encrypted chats. It saddens me to realize that I have been editing my words and discarding potential blog posts for fear of repercussions. It saddens me to no end to realize that there are people just like me who are hiding the stories from their childhood and concealing books they read out of curiosity, who even conceal the fact that they stock up on food when they have the money out of fear of our current social climate.

I don’t even know how to handle that. I’m not even certain if it is considered politically correct to mention the dilemma here. In this case, I have resolved to take my chances with this post. Unlike so many others, I have very little to lose.

Have you ever found yourself editing your words or concealing things that you do on a daily basis out of fear for the current social and political climate? If so, how does that make you feel? Please phrase your reponses in generic terms should you share your thoughts in the comments, especially if you think someone you know in the physical world may stumble upon them. Thank you.

Categories
Frugality

Katie the Coupon Queen

My Katie and I have been discussing my muses of late, particularly my personal opinion that I wanted to encourage people to find ways to give the corporations less money. I thought my words had fallen upon deaf ears but then something interesting happened.

For a couple of weeks I heard Katie watching episodes of some show about extreme couponing. I was amused at the fact that my daughter, of all people, suddenly seemed interested in people clipping coupons and saving money, but I let it go, reasoning that she was probably trying to understand some of her mother’s eccentricities.

When she came home the other day with a bunch of coupons, I started to grow concerned. I’ve attempted couponing in the past and I had spent more money acquiring the coupons than I saved. I kept my thoughts to myself; there are things people should learn from experience.

Sensing my skepticism, Katie collected her coupons and dragged me to the store with her yesterday. Her plan was to stock us up on things we actually use while spending as little as possible.

I thought she was on a fool’s errand as I tagged along.

To my absolute shock, my daughter managed to shave 1/3 off of her total bill with that stack of coupons – and that was at the store on the corner! That particular store is known for its higher prices; we both try to avoid it whenever possible for that reason.

Now, for the first time in years, my daughter and I are having conversations about homemade laundry detergent, expiration dates, and reasonable stockpile levels. She has no desire to buy things that will go bad before they are used.

Her argument is this: at the moment, it is hard to purchase certain things without giving your money to the corporations that are running our government, so why not use coupons, specials, and selective stockpiling to give them as little as possible?

I must admit that she has a point.

Have you ever had luck with couponing? If so, do you have any tips that you can share? 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!

Categories
Inspiration Minimalism Writing

Minimalism and Creativity

In the book Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon writes:

” It takes a lot of energy to be creative. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.”

“Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon, page 119, para. 1

While I have written about that in the past, about eliminating the unimportant to liberate your time to focus on the important, I have never went into the details about how minimalism truly applies to creativity.

I must confess that the reason I’ve not covered this in depth was because I didn’t understand it myself.

I’ve always used minimalism as a tool to liberate my time and money to focus on things like success and family. Whenever I liberated a chunk of time, I used that time to clean my house, care for my kids, or study subjects that I believed would contribute to my long-term success.

This round I decided to do things a bit differently. When I quit my job I knew I was burned out, completely frustrated, and more than a bit disillusioned. I needed to step away from my normal habits and routines entirely just to recover.

So I gave myself permission to play. I tinkered with the television that the kid gave me. I allowed myself to read novels. Instead of banging my head against a keyboard every evening I made it a habit to play video games and watch a nightly movie. Instead of trying to force myself to write, to read and study and continually improve myself, instead of tinkering with Word or other writing programs to figure out how to format and use the programs to build better books, instead of reading books to improve my writing craft and search for ideas, I stripped it all away.

I literally said “fuck it.” I picked an ancient text editor and focused upon the words instead of the formatting. I allowed myself to write about whatever instead of trying to force myself to focus upon a single subject. I gave myself permission to use my time in ways that I’ve always considered wasteful and allowed my mind to wander.

I didn’t allow myself to think about what I could really write that would be helpful or make money. Aside from my daily goal of writing a single blog post, I allowed myself the freedom to do as little as possible. I used my minimalism, my freedom to spend my time however I like, to do just that for a change.

Which is why I skipped posting yesterday.

I made a pledge to write about the first thing that came to mind each morning, every morning, regardless of subject matter. I didn’t censor myself which is why I’m sure you’ve noticed that my language has changed. Instead of thinking “what can I write for somebody else?” I asked “what is something that I would want to read?”

Yesterday morning I awoke with a story playing in my head. It’s about a grandma who loves her kids, her dog, and her movies. While pursing these passions she discovers what she believes to be the Mother Lode of movies – only to realize that she’s uncovered something evil instead. Now she’s got to decide what she’s going to do about it.

The story was so vivid I could see it from the woman’s eyes. I could feel the things she felt and even smell the things she smelled.

So I started writing.

I didn’t do a single thing on my house yesterday. I didn’t check my email, work on this blog, or even feel the desire to take a break. If not for my kid making me, I doubt I would have taken the time to eat.

All that existed was the story, and I felt driven to get it out of my head. I went to sleep thinking about that story and was awakened with the same passion.

That story would have never came to me if I hadn’t allowed myself to eliminate the things that I had previously considered essential. If I hadn’t allowed myself to “slack,” if I hadn’t allowed myself to read novels, watch movies, and play video games, if I hadn’t allowed myself to “goof off” instead of work, I wouldn’t have given my mind the freedom it needed to imagine.

Sometimes we need to cut ourselves some slack. We need to stop worrying about what we “should” be doing and allow ourselves to relax and have fun instead. And at its core, this is what minimalism is about. By eliminating as much stuff and as much tasks and as many obligations as we can, we allow ourselves to get bored. We give our minds the freedom to wander.

And when we do that, amazing things can happen.

I don’t know what is going to happen with that story. All I know is that I’ve written over 3,000 words this morning alone. I feel a passion, an aliveness that I haven’t felt since I was a child when I would fill notebooks with stories and doodles instead of doing my homework. And I am going to embrace that sensation.

We have become so wrapped up in duty, we have become so sucked in to chatting with friends and updating our timelines that we’ve forgotten who we are.

And minimalism can help us regain that.

Turn off your computer. Cancel your appointments. Change your routines. Eliminate everything you can eliminate. Allow yourself to become bored.

Because that is when the magic happens.

Have you ever allowed yourself to completely mix up your routine, to eliminate everything that you can eliminate in order to truly experience boredom? What happened? Please share your stories in the comments below.

And if I miss another post, you will know what I’m doing. I’m busy getting this story out of my head.

~#~

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!

Categories
Happiness Minimalism

Sex, Celibacy, and Minimalism

Minimalism is the art of eliminating the unimportant to make room for the important. It is the art of eliminating the excess to focus upon the essential. On the surface, these definitions tend to make us think about stuff.

But minimalism can be applied to all aspects of our lives.

Perhaps it is because there is still a taboo surrounding the discussion of sex that causes minimalist writers to shy away from the subject. Perhaps it is because public media sticks the act and discussion of sex front in center in our media and entertainment. Perhaps minimalists don’t feel comfortable talking about sex because they believe they don’t have enough, they have too much, or feel somehow lacking.

Whatever the reason, it is time to open a discussion on the subject.

I realized this morning that it is safe to say that I have been celibate for two decades. I’ve not had sex since before I divorced. I never expected to be celibate for this long, so when I realized how long it had been I was surprised.

And if someone had told me twenty years ago that I would eliminate sex from my life, I would have laughed in their face.

I didn’t set out to become celibate. At first, I was struggling so hard just to pay the bills and keep food on the table that I didn’t have time to socialize romantically. I worked four jobs back then so I barely had time to take a shower, must less find someone to have sex with.

My life has slowed down immensely since those days. I dropped out of the rat race for several years, living on my book royalties to raise my daughter. While I re-entered the rat race after that to launch another life experiment which I eventually abandoned, I am once again living on the fringes of society in the slow lane.

I have had time over this past decade to establish sexual relationships but I haven’t. Why? I mean, I like men. I routinely admire the male physique and have no reservations when it comes to expressing my admiration. I enjoy engaging in flirtatious banter, yet I have no desire to take things farther. When pressed, I place the symbol of marriage upon the designated finger and tell people that I am unavailable.

Our modern society tells us that my decision to eliminate sex from my life is unhealthy. I have personally been informed that my decision to remain celibate is “unfair” both to the male population and myself. I have been instructed that I need to release my inner lesbian (because it’s “obvious” this must be my “problem”), and advised that I need to see a mental health professional.

I have been told these things many times over the years despite the fact that I am healthy and content. Apparently humans are supposed to “fuck like rabbits” so my decision not to is perceived as wrong. As has become my habit over the years, I nod along in agreement, promise to consider their advice, and do my own thing.

It wasn’t until this morning that I decided to analyze this decision. I hadn’t realized it had been so long until this morning. I’m not even certain what prompted the thought. Perhaps it is the fact that when I lay down at night I ask my personal diety to help me come up with writing ideas. I do not know the correct answer; I only know that I have made a pledge to discuss the first thought that enters my head upon awakening, and today that thought was about minimalism as applied to sex.

When applied to all aspects of one’s life, minimalism can help you sort the important from the unimportant. This sorting process doesn’t always happen on a conscious level; you just find yourself making decisions that, when you look back on them, are not only surprising but in-line with the goal of simplifying your life.

My unconscious decision to eliminate sex was one of them.

During my youth, my mind was filled with worry. Oh, he’s cute! Does he like me, or is he only flirting to be polite? Is he married? Does he have a girlfriend? Does he look like he might have a contagious disease? Is he gainfully employed, or is he searching for someone to support him financially? Do I smell nice enough? Has my hair gotten messy? He’s looking at my eyes – did my mascara run? OMG am I sprouting a mustache?!? Are my boobs lopsided? Is my butt too big? Do I have a matching bra and panty set? Is it good enough, or should I run to the store and buy a new set? Oh no! I forgot to shave my legs! Am I going to have to deal with another round of “put out or get out?” If we have sex on the X date, will he think me a slut? If we don’t have sex, will he dump me?

On and on the litany went. Whenever I was single, I found my mind filled with these and similar questions every time I encountered an attractive male, to the point where I spent so much time analyzing myself and the other person that I lost the opportunity to enjoy the moment.

But at some point the litany disappeared. I don’t know exactly when that happened, but at that time I unconsciously decided to drop out of the game. My stress levels dropped. Instead of worrying about the details, I focused upon the men I met as people instead of potential partners. My enjoyment of the interactions increased. As an odd side-effect, my unconscious decision to drop out of the sex scene made me more attractive. As one gentleman phrased it, it was refreshing to meet a woman who wasn’t “desperate” and who “obviously didn’t give a shit.”

But something more important happened when I made that unconscious change. By eliminating the pursuit of sex, I spent less time focusing upon my appearance. I dressed for comfort instead of male eyes. I shaved because I wanted to, not because I felt I had to. I wore cosmetics because they made me feel good instead of wearing them to make others feel good.

I started doing things for myself instead of from vanity and fear.

As I became more comfortable in my own skin, I not only freed up an immense amount of time from pursuing vanity and assauaging my internal fears, I liberated a large amount of time to think, explore, and pursue passions that had nothing to do with sex.

I dived into computers. I began to read a wider variety of subjects. Instead of pursuing a sexual relationship, I spent that time exploring myself. While I didn’t always like what I discovered, I grew immensely from each experience.

I wonder now if we pursue sex due to biology or if it has been programmed into us by society. Even now I wonder if I am somehow defective for my choice. I wonder if I should force myself to care, if I should set aside my comfy clothes, pour a bottle of dye upon my head, don my cosmetics, and go out in search of Mr. Right.

Yet deep down inside, I know that I am finally content with who I am.

Perhaps one day I will meet someone and decide to end my celibacy but for now I have realized that I no longer care if that happens or not. I have realized that there is more to life than relationships and sex. The world will not end if I sleep alone. If anything, my life has become richer as a result.

Have you ever given much thought to why or why not you pursue sex and relationships? Have you ever considered the advantages and disadvantages that come from eliminating sex from your life? For those of you who have decided to eliminate the pursuit of sex, do you ever question your decision? 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!

Categories
Economy Frugality

The Story of Bill

Bill is an American success story. He dropped out of college to follow his dream of making windows – and he hit it big. Bill is one of the people we look up to when we decide that we want to pursue our dreams. I used to be one of those people.

On the outside, Bill appears to be a saint because after he managed to convince everyone to install his windows in their homes and their offices, he used some of his money to improve his self image. He opened a charitable organization or two, convinced others to toss a few pennies of their wealth into the pot, and started doing good deeds, making sure that they were publicized so the whole world would see how wonderful Bill and his friends were.

What Bill didn’t reveal was the fact that he was actually playing a shell game. While our eyes were watching his charitable organization, him and his cronies were buying our governmental leaders in the background. They spent so much money buying our government that they decided that they didn’t want to buy our government and pay taxes too. Bill traveled to Puerto Rico, arranged to pay almost nothing in taxes (it wouldn’t look right if he got off paying nothing, he realized), and then “sold” the rights to some of some of his most profitable products to a tiny little company he created there.

It was the equivalent of selling a $100,000 home to your brother for five bucks, only in this case, Bill used the legal system to turn a portion of his money into the brother. Corporations are almost considered to be “people” in our legal code, so he essentially cloned himself, made the clone a resident of Puerto Rico, and transerred the rights to his most profitable products to this clone at a laughable price to avoid paying taxes in the US.

Bill did this because there is one organization in the US government that doesn’t contain elected officials he can buy: the IRS.

The IRS doesn’t discrimate. It is filled with low-paid employees who have one mission: ensure that everyone pays their fair share in taxes, if not a bit more.

The good people at the IRS watched Bill and his cronies pull stunts like this for years. They had been the ones getting yelled at when people noticed that Bill and his friends weren’t paying their fair share. They took it and took it until they got fed up and decided to fight back.

They not only decided to do a full audit on Bill, they called in the biggest legal guns they could to fight back.

“The nerve of these bastards,” Bill ranted when he received the audit notice. “Don’t they realize that I OWN them? I think it’s time they found out who their boss really is!”

Bill called up his cronies. His cronies called their friends. As one they hired attorneys and jumped into the fray. One by one they called the politicians they paid off, forcing politicians on both sides of the political fence to attack the IRS and start shoving new laws through the pipe to not only make the IRS stop, but to pass laws that prevented the IRS from trying to make them pay their fair share in taxes ever again. They also decided to punish the IRS for stepping out of line. Budget cut after budget cut caused the little agency that could to stop challenging Bill and his cronies whenever possible.

~

While the words I have written here are fiction, simplified for understanding and dramatized for effect, these words are roughly based upon a true story. This is the story of how the rich are using our money to manipulate our nation in their favor. This story is about one aspect, about how Bill and his friends manage to bully our government to get out of paying taxes, but they also use these same tactics to make our national leaders dance like puppets on a string.

Check into the donation records of every single politican in Washingington, and you will find evidence of how they buy our nation’s officials. Bill and his cronies make large donations to campaigns, knowing that these politicians will repay the favor whenever Bill and his buddies pick up the phone.

It doesn’t even stop in Washington. Up and down the political chain, from the smallest town to our national government, Bill and his friends are doing this. If you’ve ever looked at your mayor or sheriff and wondered how they managed to win their office, follow the money and you will find out. They’ve yet to make many of the campaign contributions private so you can still track them to a degree.

This is the sad reality of the United States. What was previously considered the “greatest nation in the world” is being turned into a puppet regime.

We can fight, we can scream, we can protest until the end of time and this will not change. The only thing that will happen is that we will be labeled as extremists and hauled off to jail as a terror threat.

But there is one way we can stop them. The method is completely legal, ethical, and non-violent. If we cut off their food supply, if we stop giving them the money that they need to buy our politicians, they will lose their ability to control our country. By removing our money from their pockets, we will cause their businesses to fail.

Even if you buy one less item from them, it helps. Even if you start patronizing one local business instead of the Big Ones, it helps. Even if you just keep the TV you have or the computer you have or the clothes that you have or the phone you have, it helps. Because every single one of these decisions places another nail in their coffin.

Our current business model considers a business to be a failure if it cannot show an increasing profit year after year. Our economic model is based upon exponential growth. Stop that growth, and they die.

If you are tired with the way things are in our nation, if you are tired of the rich growing insanely richer while the rest of us struggle, if you are tired of living in a nation that has turned into a puppet regime, then I hope that you will join us.

Use what you have.
Stop buying new.
Ignore their advertising.
Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

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!

Categories
Happiness

The Art of Reducing Paranoia

The subject of privacy is much like American politics: there are two main camps and they hate each other. I normally don’t worry about that but after recent events I noticed tinfoil hats appear on my head to the point where it was beginning to make me uncomfortable. I aim for moderacy, yet I was starting to question everything.

I finally resolved to sort through the chaff, separate paranoia from reality as much as possible, make adjustments where needed, and get on with my life. I was beginning to get on my own nerves.

It is reasonable to assume that anything you put online can be hacked, tracked, or somehow compromised if someone is determined enough. While there are ways to make it harder for all but the most determined to associate your web browsing with you, the moment you use your credentials to login to a website all assumptions of privacy can be considered forfeit. Websites, phone service, and Internet providers are all known for storing information. And since all of the above have been known to be hacked or otherwise reveal said information to other parties, a cautious approach would be to assume that anything one places over the Internet may not remain private forever.

It is also reasonable to assume that any device one uses to connect to the Internet has the potential of revealing more information than you would like. Articles about hacked baby cameras along with the occasional hacked television, phone, or computer confirm this assumption. I know for a fact that a talented hacker can quietly seize control of systems, browse your files, add your system to a botnet, or do other nasty things. I have worked with computers far too long not to be aware of the power of a determined hacker.

That said, one can achieve a reasonable level of privacy without being paranoid about it. If Osama bin Laden, the most hunted man in recent United States history, could avoid being located for a decade by some of the most determined hackers in the world by utilizing a low-tech solution, the average person can achieve some privacy as well.

One of the primary ways that bin Laden used to avoid being tracked was to keep his computer completely disconnected from the Internet. This method is called air-gapping, and is used by security techs and privacy experts worldwide. Air-gapping is extremely simple: Select a computer that does not contain a wifi card, do not connect it to any network that contains any sort of connection to the Internet, and use that machine to store your sensitive documents. Governments have used this method to protect sensitive data for decades and they use this practice even today. As long as someone cannot get physical access to a computer, this method provides a reasonable level of privacy.

If one is concerned about an undesirable person gaining physical access to an air-gapped system, there is an additional layer of security that can be used called encryption. Modern operating systems will offer to encrypt either the entire hard drive or the user folder; barring that, compression programs (ZIP files) can be encrypted so that they cannot be opened unless you type in a password.

Aside from my iDevices, every other system I own can be manually disconnected from the Internet and shut down. Since there are concerns about iDevices (and even my Katie’s Android phone) recording sound and video, I analyzed my daily patterns. The three most common statements I make on a daily basis are:

  1. “I just let you out ten minutes ago! Okay, let me finish what I’m doing and I’ll take you out again.”
  2. “Will you hurry up and pee already? I’m freezing (or sweating, depending upon season).”
  3. “I can’t give you treats unless you move out of my way!”

Anyone who hacks a camera in my home will be treated to the view of my wrinkly, saggy, toothless body. If I don’t break the camera, I doubt they would linger I’m so scary. If someone is that desperate for a free show, let them have at it. I really do not care. As for ads popping up related to private conversations whenever I go online, fuck them. I don’t buy that much stuff and I am slowly shifting what little I do buy to smaller, less intrusive companies so let them waste their time and their money trying to convince me to buy their crap. I will use those ads as a reminder not to shop at their stores and be done.

That said, I spend an immense amount of time writing in my journal or working up these posts when I am not beating my head against the keyboard as I attempt to bleed out another book. I also read books on a wide variety of subjects that would raise eyebrows for the casual visitor.

Those are the things that I truly want to keep private. Nobody needs to be exposed to some of the more eccentric ways I use as I compose these posts and I have no desire for anyone to have access to my intimate thoughts. I have had my fill of critism concerning my personal reading choices, so some of my more colorful titles need to be kept private as well.

This review calmed my nerves immensely and told me what I needed to do. A single computer kept completely disconnected from the Internet would resolve all of my privacy concerns. By dedicating a single system to my writing, journal, and more colorful reading material, I would have a reasonable assurance of privacy.

I selected my desktop computer for my safe haven. I installed a spare hard drive, encrypted it, and installed Linux Lite. Once I got it configured and updated, I disconnected the ethernet cable, transferred my personal files over, and breathed a sigh of relief.

I chose Linux over Windows because Windows 10 has gotten on my last nerve. Despite the fact that I have dug deep into the settings, configuing it to stay OFF when I turn it off, Windows 10 insists upon turning itself on at 5am each and every morning. While I didn’t want to erase Windows 10 entirely, I decided to completely disconnect the hard drive from the system while I continue my research into the issue. Since Linux stays off when you turn it off, it was a no-brainer for me. Few things are more disturbing than being awakened by your computer attempting to contact the mothership, scan your system, and God knows what else! I was already nervous enough without having to deal with that nonsense.

Due to the sensationalism that comes part and parcel with modern media, it can be difficult to avoid paranoia or emotional upset. If you allow yourself to step back and think things through, however, you will often discover that things are not as bad as they seem. Simply by stepping back and thinking things through, I eliminated my paranoia and got on with my life.

Have you ever grown paranoid over things in your personal life? How did you resolve the problem? 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!

Categories
Life

The Flood of FAKE

This evening a friend of mine pried me away from my keyboard. She insisted that some new scenery might clear the cobwebs from my head. Our local McDonald’s had redecorated, replacing the “wall of smut” that I had held in affectionate disdain so she decided to show me the new theme they had chosen.

Something felt off about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I played with my straw as we made small talk while I pondered.

“Earth to Annie!” K waved a hand in front of my face. I was so puzzled at the discrepancy that I hadn’t even realized that she had asked me a question.

“Something’s just…wrong…with this place,” I confessed. “I can’t put my finger on it so it’s bugging me.”

“Eh,” K shrugged as she took a bite of her sandwich. “It’s the same old McDonalds but with a different face.”

The brick wallpaper, carefully designed with a splash of ‘spray paint’ caught my attention. I followed it upwards, spotting the fake wallpaper bars. Glanced around at the plastic paneling that had been carefully curated to resemble plywood. Even the chairs had a worn look that had been artfully integrated.

But the chairs were new.

The chairs were new. The wallpaper was new. The paneling, the floors, everything was new yet it had been deliberately designed to look….

“Oh my God, they went grunge.” It finally clicked what disturbed me about the place. It had been filled with brand-new, very expensive decorations that were designed to give it a careworn, “welcome to the ‘hood” appearance all the way down to the fake graffiti.

This newly redecorated restaurant had tried to be what it was not and it had failed abysmally. It was the silk purse trying to transform itself into a sow’s ear, and it was the perfect symbol of what our society has become.

We are taught to be all of the things that we are not. We are supposed to look a certain way, act a certain way, do certain things because it is “important” when in reality it is not.

We have fake food now. Tofu masquerading as cheese and meat and God knows what else. We have fake fur, fake leather, fake cotton, fake nails, and fake jewelry. We have fake wood, fake friends, fake news, even fake money these days. We swipe a card filled with fake money instead of using real cash based on real metals with more fake money added to the pool whenever the government runs low.

We rarely even see the truly old stuff anymore. When we want something old we go to the store and buy a cheap new replica. Old means ‘poor’ and ‘dirty’ and ‘wrong’ so we buy the fake stuff and call it fashion.

We live in an age where people buy their pants pre-ripped so they can have the grunge without the grime. We want the gritty without the grit. We want the bling without the bankroll and it’s fake, it’s all fake.

My wardrobe of choice has become a fashion statement. Rich people want to look poor so they pay a fortune for the appearance. Poor people want to look rich so they max their cards to buy the brand names.

Neither group is what they are pretending to be and I find myself horrified at the revelation. It’s no wonder that Trump won the election. He was the only one honest enough to own the fact that he’s an asshole.

And who will they pit against him in the next election? Chances are it will be the rich bastard who’s playing himself off as a middle class saint. Millions of dollars, multiple mansions, yet he pretends to attack the very thing that he is and he expects us to swallow his bullshit.

Seriously, if you don’t like the rich, if you detest the fact that the rich are getting richer then get rid of your fucking mansions and come live in the ‘hood with the rest of us. We’ll be happy to share our roaches.

I don’t care if you’re rich or you’re poor as long as you own what you are to the world. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not because in the end we’re all going to end up dead regardless.

It’s okay to have money. It’s okay to be broke. It’s okay. It’s all okay. Just own what you are and get on with your life.

What’s not okay is when we waste our time and our money pretending to be the things that we are not. What’s not okay is when we waste our time worrying about what others think when it doesn’t matter. That is my problem with the world today and that’s a problem that I just realized that I have with myself as well.

I come from the Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. I am the daughter of an ex-con and a stripper. I grew up helping my daddy bootleg because we did what we had to do in order to survive. I learned how to talk my way out of trouble at an early age when dirty old men tried to drag me in their cars.

I hated school because it was boring and we skipped ahead every damn time we got to the interesting parts. It was more important to color inside the circles than it was to actually learn something. I can read and I can research and I can learn more in a month than most classes teach me in a year. I resented the waste of my time but I just tried to pretend that this wasn’t a problem. I told myself I needed a piece of fucking paper when in the end all I needed was the knowledge.

That piece of paper was just to prove to the world that I was a person.

I was molested as a toddler. I was raped as an adult. I had my first two kids out of wedlock and I thought that made me wrong so to fix it I got married. The worst part of that was that he was fake too. I just couldn’t see it through my own damn fakeness. I was too busy trying to be something that I was not.

And right now I am a toothless old crone who is aggravated as hell at the fact that the truth was all around me and I missed it for ages. I live in a run-down shack on a grungy street like so many others yet the world looks for us and all they find are the mansions shown on TV.

Hell, we all believe that we’re supposed to live in mansions now because that’s all we’re allowed to see. We glamorize the rich and vilify the poor because “fuck them, they’re trash.”

People jump here from across the world looking for streets paved in gold only to land in rat-infested tenements. They wonder what they did wrong when they thought they did everything right.

And they did do everything right. It’s the world that’s wrong.

It’s the image we give, the lies we tell when we say we’re all doing well while most of us are struggling. It’s the shit we buy that we can’t afford so we can brag to our friends that we’re special.

But Tyler Durden of Fight Club had it right:

We are not our job.
We are not how much money we have in the bank.
We are not the car we drive.
We are not the contents of our wallets.
We are not the clothes that we choose to wear.
We are the all singing, all dancing crap of the world.

We are. We really are. We are born, we live, and then we return to the earth from whence we came so the circle can continue.

There is no point in being fake. There is no point in pretending to be what we are not. All we do is make ourselves miserable in the end.

Life is too short not to be enjoyed. And we cannot enjoy it if we believe the lie that we are somehow wrong.

It is time we ended the fakeness. It is time to stop pretending to be something that we’re not. It is time to stop believing the lie that we are only worth something if we dress a certain way or act a certain way or buy the certain stuff or do the certain things.

It is time we realized that we are okay where we are with what we have right now.

So keep your stuff. Use the things you already have because something new won’t make you better – it will just make you broke.

And stop supporting the companies that feed you the lies that they’re ‘just like’ you and they ‘care about’ you and they ‘want what’s best’ for you because the truth is this:

All they want is your money.

They want to use you up and spit you out and laugh when you’re tossed in the gutter.

~

We are nothing to them, and it is time that we accepted that.

And it is time we treated them the exact same way that they treat us.

Just like that McDonald’s I visited tonight, they dress up their lies and call themselves authentic. They believe they have us brainwashed enough that we’ll believe it. I hope that they are wrong about that.

Don’t fall for their games. Stop feeding the monsters.

~#~

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!

Categories
Frugality Minimalism

The Television Adventure

When I eliminated my television back in 2009, I had no intention of acquiring another. I was perfectly content using my computer to stream videos or watch DVDs, so I thought I would have no reason to bother.

Katie disagreed. As everyone knows, my beloved daughter is not a minimalist. She works hard and shops with the same enthusiasm. I do not judge my daughter for this; she has the right to earn and spend her money as she pleases.

So when Katie came home one afternoon with a television in her arms, I shrugged and went on with my life. She wanted to watch movies and play games in her room and had decided to do just that.

I didn’t think about that television much. I watched it with her once a year, the day after Christmas, when we have a tradition of pigging out on clearance candy and watching Forrest Gump.

But then one evening after helping a friend move she came home with yet another television. Her friend had an extra that was larger than Katie’s and had gifted it to my daughter as a ‘thank you.’ Katie was delighted as she showed it to me; she could watch her videos on a larger screen thanks to the generosity of her friend.

My only question was what she intended to do with her old one.

Katie didn’t even give me the opportunity to ask that question. “As soon as I hook it up I’ll give my little one to you,” she announced. “It’s about time you joined the modern age and watched TV like normal folks!”

Oh geez.

That was how I found myself the proud owner of not only a small television but a Roku as well. She helped me hook it up and handed me the remotes with a smile.

I didn’t know how to work the remotes. The last television I owned didn’t have one. What the hell was I going to do with a television when I didn’t even know how to work it? I kept my thoughts to myself, thanked her profusely, and pretended to be happy with the gift.

That television sat in my room for a good six months untouched. I didn’t know how to work it, wasn’t motivated to try, yet I couldn’t bring myself to part with it because my daughter had loved me enough to give it to me. Eventually I realized that the situation was bordering on the ridiculous so I sat my butt down and figured it out.

Televisions have changed immensely since I last bothered with one many years ago. They do things now that I find amazing. I started out watching YouTube videos on the thing and eventually added one of those gadgets that play ancient video games and in time complemented it with a cheap DVD player.

It would save wear and tear on my computers, I reasoned.

As I developed the habit of watching a movie before bed, I realized that I could reduce my reliance on Facebook and the Internet if I had a way to capture the open air broadcasts from local news stations. I like to keep up with local news but I have a weakness for reading the comments. There was a problem with this, however. In order to capture the signals I needed to purchase another device and I was too cheap to spend the money.

That changed last night. While I was out to purchase some groceries, I stumbled upon a little antenna for $5. After asking the workers a few questions, I decided to give it a try.

It took several attempts but I managed to stick it to a window to gain reception. I fiddled with the remote, pressing random buttons until I finally found the proper menu and I managed to pick up a few channels.

For the first time in over a decade I watched the eleven o’clock news without losing myself in the comments section.

I feel as if I have stepped into an alternate reality. I can press a button and watch the news when it comes on instead of waiting for the highlights to go online. I don’t have to worry about my Internet going out when bad weather arrives. That’s an issue in my tiny area.

Part of me feels guilty for buying another gadget. Part of me feels odd because I am no longer part of the Minimalist Crowd that looks at televisions with disdain. But if I am going to allow others to live life on their terms, then that gives me the right to live on mine. The television was free, the antenna was $5, and now I can rest easy during storms. I can also use the device to play music when I slip a CD or MP3 DVD into the player I acquired, which means that I can shut my computer off entirely sometimes. I can even play games from my childhood, which I have discovered is a wonderful way to clear my head.

This little adventure has made me realize that change can be a very positive thing. It has made me realize that I need to abandon my comfort zone more often. It has also made me realize that if I embrace the older technology that I abandoned in the past that I can reduce my reliance upon the Internet. The world will not end if Annie cannot connect. To be honest, if I could teach myself to check email, respond to comments, and go offline after I upload my daily blog post, I would probably be better off.

I would definitely have more time.

If you happen to have a television (or manage to acquire one for cheap or free), you may want to consider buying one of those little devices that allow you to pick up stations for free. You would not only eliminate your cable expense, you may be able to drop some of those online movie subscriptions you pay for. They have a range of them, designed to pick up channels of varying distances from your home, so take care not to purchase until you find one that is powerful enough for your needs. The $5 one I purchased covers a 25-mile radius – just enough to watch the news, which is all I wanted. This is what the box looked like:

And always remember – minimalism is about living life on your terms, not the terms that some “expert” living out of a thousand-dollar laptop says you should live. You have the right to keep anything in your life that you find useful or gives you pleasure. If those experts want to judge, send them to me. I will be happy to show them what spot on my anatomy they can kiss.

So keep the old record player if you use it. Watch your DVDs. Play your cassettes and your VHS tapes. Wear the clothes you have in your closet. It is far better for the world if we use the things we already have anyway.

~#~

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!

Categories
Frugality

The Soap Rebellion

I’ve spent the past several days discussing the big picture that surrounds us but the reality is that some of the most effective rebellions take place at home. When we make changes in our personal life and use those changes as talking points to teach our friends and family, over time people begin to listen and make changes of their own.

I’ve noticed this over the past decade as I walked the path that led me to today. People who used to condemn me, who called me insane to my face are now slowly making changes as they start to emulate my practices. Relatives now announce that they are culling their clutter. Friends come to me for advice on financial matters. Readers email me for similar reasons and I strive to help every one.

One by one the people around me have discovered that my particular lifestyle allows me a freedom that they cannot conceive of and have given me the honor of assisting them as they make their first steps to freedom.

I follow a simple plan to accomplish this feat. I listen to criticism, acknowlege their concerns, and do my own thing regardless.

And now it is time for a story.

When my Katie left for the Navy I didn’t expect her to return quite so soon. I started arranging things in my life to suit myself rather than continue the compromises we had made over the years.

One major surrender I made to maintain peace in our home concered liquid soap. My daughter loved it. I hated it. I felt that it was wasteful to spend a dollar or more on a product that was mostly water when one could purchase a small multi-pack of bar soap that would last longer, have a lower impact on the environment, and cost less as well. I grew up on bar soap; there’s nothing wrong with it except for the fact that companies prefer the higher profits they receive when we are persuaded that liquid soap is better.

That was why one of the first things I did after my daughter left was chuck her bottles of liquid soap beneath the counter and replace them with bars. I would have them available whenever she would visit but otherwise I was free to follow my conscience. My wallet agreed with this decision.

When my daughter returned from the Navy after being injured in BASIC I faced a quandary. Did I go back to our old way of doing things when I really didn’t want to?

I decided to experiment with a compromise instead.

I left my bar soap in prominent display. Beside those bars I placed the containers of liquid soap that my Katie preferred. When she asked, I explained the reasons that I preferred bar soap over liquid. While I would not try to force her to switch to using bar soap, I would continue to use my bars. She was free to use whatever she liked but when we ran out of liquid soap, the burden of restocking the stuff would be up to her.

I’ve refilled the bottle by the bathroom sink once in the months since that announcement. Little by little I noticed her use of it waning. I can no longer recall the last time it was low; after that first refill the bottle has sat mostly unused.

Every time I look at that bottle I have a little chuckle. My daughter has now began to experiment with different brands of bar soap as she searches for one that she likes. She has even mentioned that we might want to consider switching to bar shampoo because that would help the environment as well.

It can be a challenge to live a simpler lifestyle while we are surrounded by people who don’t share our views, but if we do our own thing while allowing them to do theirs, in time they will not only experiment, but come around to our way of thinking–at least to a degree.

This is why it is essential that we live life on our own terms. We may not make a difference in the world as a whole, but we do start to create ripples in the fabric of the society that surrounds us. Create enough ripples, and those ripples will merge to become a wave.

That is the only way to create a lasting change. That is the only way that we can stop the progress of the monsters. If we buy less, if we reveal to others that we’re buying less and explain why, in time others will pay attention.

So pick a monster and stop feeding them. It doesn’t really matter which monster; just pick the one you dislike the most. Tell others why you are doing what you do and ignore their calls to stop. Use up the things you have. Spend less. Focus on the things that are important to you and don’t be shy about that fact.

Between us all, we can start to move mountains. It just takes courage and a bit of patience.

Has your decision to live on less inspired others to do the same? Please share your stories in the comments below.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

~#~

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!

Categories
Personal Security

Gremlins?

Remember when I wrote about the strange advertising issue I experienced recently? A friend of mine in another section of the country reminded me of another incident that happened several weeks ago. I want to share that incident with you today because this is becoming rather creepy.

As many of you know, I search out random subjects on the Internet for sport. I’ve done this for decades; whenever something pops in my head I reach for my computer and look it up. Maybe I do this since I grew up before the Internet was a thing and felt starved for information. I don’t know, but this is just something I do on a daily basis.

Several weeks back (a couple of months, maybe?) I was reminded of a high-profile criminal case in my area. I fired up my favorite search engine to refresh myself of the details.

I could find nothing.

I thought I was going insane. I remembered the case like it was yesterday; why wasn’t anything related to the incident showing up in my search results? Have I lost my touch? While I was digging, an old friend, who lives in a different geographical region than I do, happened to send me a message. I shared my frustration at my inability to locate anything on the incident. While I was venting, my friend ran a search on the subject.

The information I was seeking appeared on the first page of my friend’s results.

We were using the exact same search terms. We were using the exact same search engine. My friend pulled up the information easily but nothing relevant appeared in my results. We thought it curious, so I fired up the DuckDuckGo search engine and repeated the query.

I found what I was searching for on the very first page.

When my friend reminded me of that earlier incident, I realized that there may be something going on with my searches on this particular search engine in particular. For the past couple of weeks, I have ran troubleshooting procedures on my internet connection multiple times because when I would search for particular topics, the results page frequently wouldn’t load; if it did load and I clicked on a result, sometimes the link I clicked on wouldn’t load. Many times the results it displayed were completely irrelevant to my particular search.

Curious, I fired up Tor Browser to mask my location and identity a bit and typed in the queries that had been giving me issues.

The results appeared. I didn’t have a single issue clicking on the links or anything. I was able to locate the information I had been searching for without a single problem.

I don’t know what’s going on. I may be over-reacting. But I am starting to wonder if, for some mysterious reason, I’ve been shadow-banned on a particular search engine when I search out particular subjects. When combined with the strange advertising issue (which has yet to reappear since my Katie discussed it in front of our devices), I am beginning to wander if there is more happening in the background than I realize.

Over-reacting or no, I have started using Tor more and more for my everyday Internet searches. I don’t know what’s going on but I am starting to grow concerned.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, you may want to consider using DuckDuckGo as your search engine to see if that resolves your issue. If you are feeling paranoid (like I’m starting to become), you may want to consider installing the Tor Browser to obscure your searches a bit more. It isn’t perfect but it’s better than nothing.

And if you are experiencing a similar issue or have in the past, please let me know in the comments of this post. I would like to find out if this is an isolated occurrence.

NOTE: This bit of information is for the curious.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

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!

Categories
Frugality

Minimalist Revelation

I awoke this morning with a surprising revelation. Aside from food, I no longer buy much.

At first I thought I was over-reacting so I looked at my purchase history for this past year. I didn’t spend even $500 last year at Walmart and they were my primary online ordering outlet.

Once every month or so I would order a bag of pet food, add some food or household items to achieve the $35 amount for free shipping, and that was it. While I did visit the local Walmart store twice last year, even factoring those two occasions in I spent under $500 total.

I did order several books that I could not attain locally, but I typically ordered used copies through Thriftbooks. The majority of my splurges were at three local restaurants and one local coffee shop. All of those are completely local establishments.

I don’t spend near as much money as I thought I did. Certainly not enough to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. The largest purchase I made last year (aside from my investments) was a gadget I purchased used from my daughter. She had purchased an iPad Pro to replace her aging laptop, discovered that it would not meet her needs, and offered it to me at a sizable discount so she could purchase another used laptop instead.

I had believed that I had been quite profligate with my purchases over these past two years, so to discover that the majority of my spending was on food and household supplies is quite the shock.

I looked back even further. I didn’t have all of my records, but it was fairly easy to calculate. I can look at anything I’ve acquired since I’ve lived in this little house and recall where and when I purchased it. The conclusion is glaringly obvious after that inventory: I stopped spending money after my experiment with extreme minimalism. Since I currently feel as if I own too much, I suspect that the experiment affected me more than I thought.

My little $500 I spend at Walmart each year is a drop in the bucket compared to the $7,000 the Walton family earns in a single minute. I doubt that they will even miss that tiny amount. Still, that’s one less bottle of fancy champagne that they can buy so I will have to be content.

I wonder what would happen if we all embraced minimalism. Most people spend a lot more than me; I spent a lot more than I did before I began this path. If we all just started buying less, would that make a difference in the world of the monsters?

And who am I to complain about how large they’ve become when I drastically reduced the amount I give them over a decade ago?

This makes me wonder if I could make more of an impact by simply encouraging people to spend less overall rather than to boycott individual companies. Regardless, my little blog is invisible in the face of the big name frugality and minimalism blogs out there. Does it matter what I do, since my refusal to promote this website limits my reach?

I don’t have the answers to my questions. They are heavy on my mind, however, so I thought I would share them with you today.


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!