Categories
Decorating Happiness Organization self-improvement

The Amazing Power of Tiny Changes

“If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life.”

Kevin Trudeau

The above quote resonated with me when I stumbled upon it several years ago. I’d always told myself that I’d make the big changes to my home and my life after I’d achieved financial freedom but after hearing those words I realized that there were some things that I could change while I waited.

So I did.

I’ve written on this website about some of the changes, about how I’d decided to experiment with the Diderot Effect, to see what it would accomplish. One of the things I allowed myself to do was to spend more money than old me would even consider to acquire the items that I really wanted instead of things that would just get me by.

I’d forgotten about that decision until recently. The changes I’d made were so subtle that they weren’t noticeable. Investing in a higher quality pen instead of using a cheap freebie, buying a large computer monitor when I found one on sale instead of making do with the small one I had, treating myself to a video game that I loved instead of doing without. Even the act of allowing myself to embrace the small television that my daughter had gifted me instead of insisting that I didn’t need it was an action inspired by that quote.

This was why, once the shock of achieving financial freedom wore off, I faced a quandary: what did I want to claim as my reward that I didn’t already have?

If you want the things in your life to change, you’ve got to change the things in your life. If you want a simpler, cleaner home, instead of telling yourself that you’ll do something with the next move or when you can afford the fancy storage system, start cleaning up your house now.

If you have a choice between buying an item now that’s cheap and saving up to buy the one that you really want, save up the money. The act of delaying the purchase not only makes the acquisition more delightful, you get what you want instead of just making do.

This is a big thing, much bigger than I’d realized. Just a series of tiny changes can completely change your life in time and you won’t even notice.

Since I made my initial decision to upgrade the things in my life so many little things have changed that I find it hard to recognize the person I was back when I started. I suspect the same will happen to you if you allow yourself to start making tiny changes as well.

As for the reward I’d promised myself, instead of focusing on acquiring things, I’ve decided to focus upon how I want the home to feel instead. I want a wave of tranquility flow over anyone who enters this home so I am in search of the right paint color and physical arrangement to make it happen.

Even this early in the process, I can already tell a difference.

I’ll share photos once this project looks a bit more finished but to my surprise, we don’t have near as much to do or acquire as I expected thanks to the tiny changes I’ve allowed myself over the years. Never did I dream that such small changes could make such a large difference.

Have you ever looked back on your life and realized that the tiniest changes made the biggest difference? 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
Happiness Personal Simplicity

How to Know That You Are Loved

I stayed up until sometime after 1am to watch the water. Even with the crest prediction being lowered, I wanted to be cautious. I gave my auntie one last call to let her know that we were okay and headed to bed.

BoomBoomBoomBoomBOOM!

My whole house shook from the banging. I rolled off the bed, landed on the dog, and knocked off my lamp as I staggered to the door.

GET IN THE TRUCK!” Katie’s uncle roared when I finally managed to open it.

“Wha?”

“Damn crazy fool, your house is gonna flood! It’s getting up to 26 feet, now get in the damned truck! Where’s my niece?”

He had apparently stressed his entire shift over the earlier crest predictions and raced to our house the moment his shift was over. It took thirty minutes and a phone call to the police to reassure him that the river was cresting and that we were going to be okay.

It was a hairy thirty minutes. For a time there we thought he was going to forcefully carry us out of the house!

It’s nice to be so loved.

I’ve had friends, neighbors, and relatives calling and visiting since this hit the news. I’ve received messages from near and far. The outpouring of concern and support even in the midst of this pandemic has been amazing.

I find it beautiful, and I am immensely grateful.

Today I am sharing a photograph that was taken as I stood at my front gate this morning. It looks scary but we are one of the lucky ones. Just up the street, cars are partially under water, streets are closed, and houses are surrounded.

So life is good in my tiny Kentucky town. It may still be a bit crazy, but life is still good.

I’m still a bit tired after staying up late, getting awakened, then climbing back out of bed again early this morning to monitor the water, so today will be a day of rest.

Even more importantly, today is a day of gratitude.

No matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for. Those are the blessings that give us the hope that will carry us through.

What are you grateful for today? Please share your stories in the comments below. We will all be thankful together.

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
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
Economy Happiness

The Problem With Wanting Change

“I don’t care what you say to me. Just give me the money!”

– unknown

The problem about change is that everybody wants it but nobody actually wants to do the real work that brings it about. I can preach about the dangers of the Walton Family until Hell freezes over, but if I’m still shopping in their stores I’m not part of the change.

I’m part of the problem.

I’ve wrestled with that dilemma for years now. I have seen cashiers in the front of their stores sobbing as their hours have been cut, just to walk in the back and hear the managers laughing over those exact same wage cuts.

I’ve watched factory managers tremble in terror at the thought that we were scheduled to run a Walmart order on the line – “Make sure you watch those boxes like a hawk! If Walmart sees anything wrong with a single box they will refuse the entire order and we could all lose our jobs!”

I’ve seen truckers curse them in a fury – “I didn’t get paid for my last delivery because I arrived outside of my window. How the hell could I arrive on time when I was stuck in traffic on the Interstate after an accident!?!”

I’ve seen Walmart shift one of their stores about a mile down the road because one little grocery store survived their intrusion. Walmart wanted to kill them all. They closed a perfectly good store just to open up next door to the one little grocery they had been incapable of killing in their last location–and I watched that old man cry as his whole entire life was destroyed.

I’ve personally witnessed Walmart do horrible things and yet the sniveling, worthless sack of shit that I am, I STILL gave those bastards my money.

Oh, I had plenty of reasons for my hypocrisy. Walmart was close, their prices were cheap, and surely to God the Government would figure it out and fix things in time, but you know what?

I was part of the problem.

Walmart doesn’t give a shit what you or I say. Walmart doesn’t give a fuck if we complain that they’re taking over our nation. All they do is laugh their way to their champagne carts because we’re still giving them our money.

For the record, I liked Sam Walton. It’s the actions of his kids now that he’s dead that I cannot condone. Sam was a nice guy. Yeah, he liked his money but he dressed like a real person as he drove around in his ratty truck. He would walk up to you and shake your hand and treat you like a human being. I met him once and fell in love. Sam Walton was awesome.

But Sam Walton is not his kids. His kids were raised with silver spoons in their mouths because Sam thought that was best. And I can’t fault Sam for that, despite the fact that he turned those kids into the greedy monsters that they are today.

So I reasoned that it wasn’t Sam’s fault that his kids were assholes. I walked in those stores and gave them my money as I tried to ignore how Walmart was changing.

And it was Sam Walton himself that gave me a clue:

“There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

– Sam Walton

Sam Walton was right. If you don’t like what is happening, all you have to do is cut off their food supply and watch them starve.

That’s why our lovely little nation freezes bank accounts when they’re chasing people: the government knows it will starve them out of hiding.

Cut off their food supply and anything will die. Yet I, in my hypocrisy, ignored that message.

That stops now. This month, instead of doing my normal thing, I found another place to acquire my pet food. I paid a bit more but my conscience is clear. I’m not happy about the place I chose this round but that’s okay. I’ll find a better place to shop in time.

I am done with being a hypocrite. I am done with being part of the problem. I am done with the fact that I have sat on the sidelines whining about my powerlessness as I made the problem worse through my purchases.

Every time you walk into a Walmart you think about that. Every time you order from Walmart remember that you are the reason they exist. YOU are the reason that they are destroying our dairy industry. You are the reason that cashiers are losing their jobs.

It is YOUR fault if the Walton family continues to manipulate the government of our nation.

It was my fault in the past but I have ended my hypocrisy. The rest is up to you.


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
Goals Happiness Life

Do We Need to Establish Goals?

Around the turn of each year the conversation tends to revolve around the establishment of goals. “What is your New Year’s Resolution?” seems to be the title of scores of new articles that proliferate this time of year.

One major issue I have with this annual deluge is the fact that so very few posts ever discuss the why.

Why should we bother establishing goals? What is their purpose? What makes one goal better than another goal? Is it okay not to set any goals at all? Does it really matter in the end?

Perhaps this is in the forefront of my brain because I have yet to set any personal goals for myself this year. Try as I may none of the ideas I’ve came up with seem appropriate.

I mean, what’s the point in setting goals if we will be dead in just a few short years? What is the point in trying to accomplish anything aside from survival when we are just a miniscule fish in the giant pond of the world?

I’ve thought about that a lot lately. I am just an old woman who started blogging as a form of self-therapy; a woman who skyrocketed to success in the minimalist arena and whose star faded just as rapidly. I am no one in this grand scheme of things, and now that the only purpose I had for my life has been achieved (being the best mother I could be), I am beginning to wonder if I even have the right to search for another path.

The Connection Between Goals and Purpose

It seems to make logical sense to create goals that align with our purpose, so let’s backtrack and start from there. After all, if we create a goal that doesn’t align with our overall purpose, we may not be motivated to follow through or may even sabotage certain aspects of our life.

The Funk & Wagnall’s Desk Standard Dictionary (1939) defines purpose as “to have or place before oneself, as an aim or intent; determine, resolve, or intend; have a fixed design or determination.” (p. 632). In other words, our purpose is something so important to us that it guides our actions throughout life.

Is there anything so important to you that it has (consciously or unconsciously) guided you so far in your life’s journey?

After giving much thought to this, I believe my personal purpose in life is to leave the world a bit better place than it was before I entered it. I may not have had a choice to be born but if I can somehow improve things a tiny little bit, the struggles I have faced will be worth it.

With that in mind, it is safe to say that my purpose has not changed; I still have a desire to make this world a bit better place. Whatever goal I decide upon should reflect that.

Have you ever contemplated your purpose in life? Do you believe that it is important to have a purpose? Is there any point in establishing a purpose or even to set goals?

And is there anything in your life that you would pursue if money were not an object? If you had enough money in your possession to grant you the freedom to never work at a public job again, what would you do with your time?

Please share your thoughts 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.

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
Food Happiness Holidays

The First Step to Happiness

There is an epidemic of unhappiness in this world. We don’t want to talk about it since unhappiness is now called “depression.” Depression is a bad word because it now means that we’re crazy and we need to go talk to a psychiatrist or take some drugs.

The stigma surrounding unhappiness makes it hard to discuss openly. Our current social climate makes it almost dangerous to discuss. So what do we do when we feel the darkness encroaching?

I believe that the things that have been programmed into us by society are the major triggers of unhappiness. We’ve been taught from birth that we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, earn a certain amount of money (more is better), and own a certain type of stuff. It is almost as if they want us to feel bad about ourselves to drive us towards impossible goals or simple insanity.

But we can step off of that hamster wheel. We can begin to change the programming. Maybe if enough of us do it we will even begin to change society as well.

The first step to happiness is related to that.

Honesty.

We have to start being honest with ourselves. We have to admit that there are things that we don’t like, don’t enjoy, or simply can’t afford.

In order to begin making changes to the world we need to be open with our honesty. I’ll begin.

Confession

I have an issue with cooking.

When I would get hungry as a child, there were times when I wanted to fix something on the stove to eat. My mother would be busy taking a nap or watching a television show, so I wouldn’t want to disturb her. I just wanted to toast a cheese sandwich on the stove or whatever.

Whenever I would begin, my mother would attack me. I was going to burn the house down. I was going to dirty the kitchen. I was wasting food. The litany was so horrible that I eventually quit trying.

As a result of that, aside from a few simple dishes my father taught me, I didn’t learn how to cook.

And when I reached adulthood, it showed.

I’ve set the stove on fire. I have burned things beyond recognition. When I tried to correct that, I prepared food that wasn’t near done enough on the inside.

I’ve watched people quietly spit my food out in distaste. I’ve seen them sneak it to the animals or scrape it in the trash. I’ve had people vomit after one of my meals. I even shattered one of my teeth after a particularly desperate attempt.

My lack of cooking skills quickly became legend. I’ve suffered from teasing for decades from people who would try to teach me and fail in the attempt.

While I have gotten to the point where I can make some simple dishes, I cringe at the thought of trying to prepare something new. It appears that I am stuck with the limited repertiore of dishes that my dad taught me as a child.

I am almost fifty years old. If you watch television, that means I should be able to cook like a madwoman, taking almost anything in a pantry to whip up something wholesome and delicious.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This is why I very rarely share recipes on this website or in my books. I am an atrocious cook and I know it.

So it is time to be honest now.

I cannot cook. I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t even have the desire to try. I am content with eating meals out of a can or a box, supplementing with the simple stuff my dad taught me how to prepare. If I want something more substantial I’ll visit a friend’s house to bum a meal or go to a local restaurant.

I am the woman who can tear your computer apart, fix what’s broken, and put it back together. I am the woman who can change the oil in your car without breaking a sweat. I am even the woman who can take wood scraps and build a sturdy porch.

But I am not the woman who knows how to cook.

According to our society, that makes me a failure. Even worse, in the frugality arena where I roam, that makes me a spendthrift since I spend more on eating out than I do on groceries because I happen to like food–I just can’t cook it.

My first step at achieving happiness is to not only be honest about that fact but to share it with the intention of giving the middle finger to a society determined to shove my round peg into the square hole called “cooking.” I no longer enjoy even attempting to cook and I am okay with that. I am who I am; if someone doesn’t like it they can keep out of my life.

This Christmas my daughter will be preparing dinner. I will contribute with a batch of deviled eggs (dad taught me how to make them) but otherwise I will stay out of the kitchen so she can work her culinary magic.

I accept that part of myself so society can kiss my ass. It’s safer for myself and those around me if I leave the cooking to the experts so I intend to do just that.

I have other things I can be honest about as well. I don’t really care what color my walls are or if my decorations all match. I don’t care if my yard is perfectly manicured or my house is spotless. I have many interests in my life but those are not among them.

If society wants to judge me for that, let them. The clock is ticking on my life so I have decided to no longer care. If someone wants to criticize me for my limitations I will drop my pants and show them where they can kiss. Heaven knows I’ve got the real estate back there.

What do you want to be honest about with this coming decade? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you happen to know of someone who doesn’t know how to cook either, instead of criticizing them, why not send them this link so they know that they are not alone? Even better, why not gift them with a visit to their favorite restaurant or cook them a meal? Once they realize that you aren’t making fun of them they will appreciate it immensely.

Categories
Happiness Life

Priorities

Sam Hagin pointed out that we “all live for someone” on my last post.

You are exactly correct, Sam. We all live for someone. We might live for family, we may live for friends, or we may live for a purpose we’ve set for ourselves.

Or we may just live for ourselves.

It doesn’t really matter in the end who or what you live for. What matters is that you arrange your life to give this area the priority it deserves.

When I began this journey, my children were a priority to me. I wanted to be the best mother I could be to them. I didn’t want my children to be raised by strangers. I had given birth to them, so I wanted to be the one to raise them.

That was my priority.

I had a second priority, however–that of my moral code. The thought of engaging in a relationship knowing, in the back of my mind, that I would be using that person (and essentially prostituting myself), bothered me significantly.

So I asked myself: how could I focus on my priority of living for my children, of being there for them without having to sacrifice my moral code?

By focusing on my priorities, bit by bit I arranged my life, placing my children at the top of my focus.

When employers asked me to choose between my job and staying home with an ill child, I picked my kid. I deliberately picked low-wage positions so that it would be easy to locate another position when faced with that choice. When some of these employers realized that I wouldn’t hesitate to walk away, they began to offer options. The options weren’t perfect, but they allowed me to focus on my primary goal–that of caring for my children.

I only have one life. I only had one chance at being a good mother for my children. Rather than live my life in regret, I chose to live my life by focusing on what was truly important to me.

We can all give excuses but in the end, when you face the darkness of that great night, do you want to go there with regret, or do you want to go there knowing that you did your best to care for what is important to you?

The choice is yours.

Categories
Happiness Life Success

You Have One Life

Life is not like a video game. At the end, you can’t put more money into the machine to buy a do-over. Just one shot, one chance…

…and then it’s gone.

How do you want to spend this priceless resource?

Do you want to spend it living someone else’s dream, or yours?

Many of you are living someone else’s dream. You’ve been told that to be happy, to be successful at the game of life you must be rich. You must have the fancy house and the new car. Oh, and don’t forget, you must get the job.

And the spouse.

And the kids.

You’ve got to buy the fancy clothes, even if you’re not comfortable wearing them.

You need the big television, because you’re nothing without it.

Your homes must be perfect or otherwise you are a failure.

You trade your lives for these things so ask yourself:

Are you happy?

In the end, when you are hooked up to machines breathing your last breath, will it have been worth it?

One life.

Just one life.

When will you start living it for you?

Categories
Happiness Life self-improvement

The Art of Embracing Change

It is so easy to become stuck in a rut, to do the same things you’ve always done each and every day. Those ruts can be simple ones like grabbing a cup of coffee as soon as you wake up each morning to how you spend your time.

While much has been written about how habits can make us more productive by eliminating decision fatigue, over the years I have discovered that there is a major downside to cultivating long-term habits. These habits cause you to not only resist change but to avoid exploring other options that may be available to you.

When I began this journey after my divorce, my lifestyle was fairly set. I believed that accumulating things was the key to success; that money and possessions were the only things that mattered. That lifestyle was exhausting to me. I worked multiple jobs just to pay the bills and spent any down time I possessed taking care of the stuff I’d acquired for my family.

I didn’t discover success until I changed things up a bit.

  • Instead of paying for cable, I cut the cord and encouraged the kids to watch movies we checked out from the library, purchased inexpensively, or located online.
  • Instead of using credit to buy the things we wanted I actively began to purge the things we owned that provided no benefit to us.
  • I started saving up for larger purchases or doing without instead of buying them on credit.
  • Instead of spending what little time I had free just goofing off, I began to use that time to read and learn.

And it paid off. Our expenses plummeted. It kick-started one of the major steps I used to attain my financial freedom.

But that would not have happened if I had not encouraged myself to explore and experiment with different ways of living my life. I was told that the only way I could become a stay-at-home single mother was to acquire a boyfriend, yet by opening my mind and embracing change, playing with it, I accomplished a dream that those around me believed to be impossible.

Since I left my last public job I’ve realized that I was stuck in another set of ruts. I would work and study. I would only read non-fiction, rarely allowing myself the treat that fiction would provide. I couldn’t even remember the last time I really allowed myself not to feel guilty when I sat down to watch a movie or read a novel.

Video games? Not a chance. Aside from the occasional game of Solitaire, I didn’t even bother.

If I wasn’t working or learning, I was wrong.

I am glad that I finally came to my senses and realized where my habits were leading me. I’ve deliberately began to mix things up now. Instead of a cup of coffee, I’ll drink a glass of water or orange juice in the mornings. Instead of selecting a non-fiction book, I’ll indulge in a novel.

I’m beginning to embrace the change again. It feels uncomfortable and liberating in an odd way but I’ve realized that I’d closed my mind to so many things that I need to mix it up to re-open myself again.

Katie’s Gift

Last year my daughter gifted me with a small television and a Roku device. I didn’t even know how to operate the remote on the silly thing, so I hooked it up to make my daughter believe I appreciated the gift and let it sit unused.

What do I need a stupid television for, I thought. I have a computer. I don’t watch videos, so I’ve no need to bother.

I brainstormed ways to eliminate the device for ages but I hesitated. My daughter gave me the thing for a reason; the least I could do is learn how to use it. Most importantly, I didn’t want to discard the gift for fear of hurting her feelings.

It finally dawned on me how close-minded I had become. I had created a lifestyle for myself that saw no need for a television, yet I understood that the devices could be useful. I reminded myself of how much joy I received during my childhood when I played arcade games and how the old black and white television in my room allowed me to learn about a world far different than the one that surrounded me. Television has changed so much since then…could it be that I was denying myself of something beneficial due to my shuttered mind?

I sat down one evening and forced myself to learn how to operate the thing.

And by doing that, by forcing myself to explore the potential, I opened my mind to a side of the device that I had not known existed.

A couple of button-presses on the remote and I could stream a variety of music from YouTube that I had somehow missed by using the computer. A few clicks and I could watch old shows from my childhood. I’ve yet to find a modern series on the device that interests me but I felt my creativity increasing. I started writing down ideas almost nightly.

When I didn’t feel motivated, I could press a button and pull up a video that would inspire me to jump up, hop on my computer, and write for hours. When I was done, one button would shut the whole thing down so I could go on with my life.

Curious, I decided to take it a bit farther as I began to wonder at the potential benefits of distraction. When a local store offered one of those gadgets that you connect to a television to play the old video games I enjoyed as a child, I allowed myself to indulge. If anything, it would give me an excuse to spend some time playing games with the kid that I could actually comprehend.

The kid now thinks I’ve been possessed by an alien. I’ll write or work on the house a bit, then sit down and play a round of Galaga. Once I’m done, I’ll hop on the computer completely refreshed and madly start typing.

My rut, my close-mindedness had caused me to dismiss the benefits of distraction. Instead of allowing myself to take a break and do something completely unrelated, I would try to power through. I would tell myself that I was being lazy whenever I wasn’t actually working on a project.

Yet it’s that very distraction, that process of allowing myself to cut loose without guilt that has enhanced my creativity.

When I woke up this morning, the only plan I had for the day was to power through my classwork. I worked on it for a while and realized I was getting nowhere. Normally I would have forced myself to keep banging my head against the wall of this latest lesson. This time I played a video game.

Just those few minutes allowed my head to clear enough that the problem was easier when I returned to it. And I would have never discovered that if I had not forced myself to change up my routine by experimenting with a device that I’d previously dismissed.

So look at your habits, folks. How do you spend your day?

If you spend all of your downtime watching movies, try something different. Read a book. Check out a new blog. Imagine a funny story in your head and write it down.

If you’ve not rearranged your home in years, change it up. Place your furniture in a different place. Take some items out and place them in the attic to see if you need them. Take some things out of your attic and use them for a change.

If you’re used to buying a certain item, switch to a different brand or try not using that item at all.

Is there a certain color you love but refuse to wear or decorate your home with? Why not allow yourself to embrace that color?

Why are you depriving yourself of your favorite color anyway? Are you afraid of what people will think?

Life is too short to be stuck in a rut by refusing to experiment. Open up and try something new!

The results may be surprising.

Categories
Happiness Minimalism

When the Seasons Change

As we move through this grand adventure called Life, we change. We have a period of development in childhood. A moment where we think we know all that we need to know in adulthood, then eventually reach the point where we realize that we know absolutely nothing in this grand scheme of things.

Transitions are typically marked by events. Moving away from our family, going to school (or not), working, starting families, retirement—all of these are simply seasons in the life we lead.

I wrote about this a long time ago. I discussed the belief that Minimalism can help ease the transitions we make in our lives by encouraging us to leave the person we were behind as we embrace the person we are becoming.

I embraced Minimalism with open arms when I first moved into this tiny home because of that belief. To ease the transition and reduce my moving expense, I eliminated everything I could. I ended up hauling the few items I chose to keep (mostly my daughter’s possessions) in a single vanload as I settled down to embrace her remaining childhood.

I find myself pondering that as I begin my second semester of college. Life was incredibly simple in those days. I slept on a futon on the floor. I used a coffee table from my childhood as my desk. Instead of spending my days cleaning, I spent my time living.

In hindsight, it was one of the happiest, most productive times in my life.

My Seasons marched onward. My daughter grew up. I embraced things again. Now I’ve embarked upon achieving a dream I’ve had since childhood. Yet instead of devoting every ounce of myself towards my goals, I find myself looking around this place and asking myself if the distraction of stuff is worth it.

I sit down to study only to look around and see things I need to do. The shelves need dusting. The cabinets need organizing. The floor needs sweeping. Each day I complete a list of tasks around this place before I begin, yet in the end there is always something more that needs done.

Is it worth it?

I am beginning to wonder about that.

Categories
Finances Happiness Life Simplicity

How to Live an Intentional Life

It takes a bit of thought to sort through the chaos and programming to determine just how you want to live your life.

My first trip down this path was simple in comparison. I had one goal I wanted to achieve. I wanted to be a stay-at-home single mother for my daughter, so I did what I had to do in order to make that happen.

Life isn’t static, however, so once that goal was complete it was time to set a new intention.

Throughout your life, you will encounter different phases. When you’re young, you may want to go out and see the world or strive to be on top of the world through your career choices. As you start a family, your focus may change to becoming a good parent, to raise your children in a thoughtful, responsible manner.

And when your children are grown, you will have to figure out what you want to do with yourself once your children are gone. Depending upon what you’ve already experienced, you may simply be tired and want some time to recharge.

There is nothing wrong with that.

I honestly believe that we will never have it all “figured out.” We will never be able to set a single path for our life because life is a journey with many different paths to choose from. Instead of trying to figure it out, trying to figure out a single path to follow until the end of our days, we simply need to determine what we want in the foreseeable future and head in that direction.

In my life, I’ve realized that I want to acquire the financial stability required in order to eliminate the need to work a public job. While I doubt that I will ever want to stop working entirely (sitting around the house can make you stir-crazy), I do want to have that option.

I want to focus a bit on my health as well as grow a bit mentally and emotionally, and I’ve also realized that writing is a part of who I am now. Even at my lowest points I search for a meaning that I can pass on to help others. While I never imagined it being more than a hobby when I first started blogging, it has now become a major focus of my life. I am okay with that.

I’m going to share with you the steps I’ve decided to take in hopes of giving you an idea as you decide upon the path you want your life to follow. I may not have everything figured out but that’s okay. I’ve got a basic plan and that’s all you need as well to get started.

In order to achieve financial freedom I will continue living beneath my means. I’ve changed my plan a bit to accommodate the fact that I want to reduce some of the stress on my life, however. I intend to take 10% of everything I earn (passive or active income) and place it in the safest investments that I can over time. This is based upon the advice given in George Clason’s book The Richest Man in Babylon (Clason, n.d.). In this book he stresses the need to keep 1/10 of any income earned to save and invest in the most cautious manner possible. I’ve decided to combine his advice with that of Michael Cheung’s from the book Sun Tzu The Art of Making Money: Strategies for Getting Through a Tough Economy. He discusses the importance of having a good foundation in place to establish financial security. (Cheung, 2012). To fulfil that need, at first the 10% will be used to fully fund an account that will only be accessed in the direst of emergencies. The overflow from that account will be invested in the safest investments I can locate over time. The money I have left over each month after the 10% deduction will be saved up and invested as usual, though perhaps not quite as often, since investing fees can add up on smaller stock purchases.

This new procedure will allow me to hedge my bets as I move towards my ultimate goal of financial freedom.

Since I prefer a simpler, calmer life I intend to simplify the things around me, eliminating my excess over time as I move forward. I’m wiser now from my previous experience with minimalism and I intend to use the wisdom gained. Instead of simply eliminating the excess I’ve acquired I have resolved not to purchase more until I actually need to. I will use up the items I already own instead. I see no point in donating them to an agency where they may end up on a landfill (due to the surplus already available at thrift shops) until they have reached the end of their usefulness. Items that I know that I won’t ever need again will be passed on to the best of my ability.

As you can see from my example, it doesn’t take an immense amount of work to reconfigure your life. With just a bit of thought and planning you can not only enjoy your present but slowly work towards the life of your dreams.

What steps can you take to lead a more intentional life as you work towards your dreams? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

REFERENCES

Clason, G. (n.d.). The Richest Man In Babylon.

Cheung, M. (2012). Sun Tzu The Art of Making Money: Strategies for Getting Through a Tough Economy. 1st ed. Allysky.

Categories
Happiness Life self-improvement Time management

How Do You Spend Your Time?

“To come but once into the World, and Trifle away our true Enjoyment of it, and of our selves in it, is lamentable indeed.”

William Penn (1706). Some Fruits of Solitude, in reflections and maxims relating to the conduct of human life.

These past few days I’ve had little to do but rest and think. It occurred to me that our lives have gotten so busy that we may not be doing enough thinking. It is only through self-reflection that we can learn and grow; barring that exercise, we run the risk of becoming stagnant.

While theories abound concerning the Afterlife, all that we know for certain is that we only have one life to live. That life, in the grand scheme of things, is woefully short. Therefore, it can only benefit us if we focus upon the things that truly matter. We don’t have enough time to do everything, so it only makes sense that we eliminate the distractions that would cause us to waste this irreplaceable resource.

Consider how you spend your day. How much of your time do you spend engaging in activities that don’t benefit you? Does your quality of life improve when you sit in front of a television, or does that time make you feel inferior because you don’t have the money to buy their suggestions or the skills to live the lives your heroes lead?

If so, then why torture yourself by watching it?

Does it make you feel good to visit Facebook and see the posts of others bragging about their latest meals, purchases, or experiences? Do you feel happy reading the political vitriol that is being shared by your friends?

Does it feel good to wander through a store searching for a particular item, or could a quick online purchase eliminate the need to spend your priceless time hunting for it in a store and then standing in line to purchase it?

The above is just an example of the questions you can ask yourself as you go through your day.

I have been asking myself these very same questions recently. I have discovered a lot about who I am through the asking.

My personal revelations about how I’ve been wasting the priceless resource of my time made me realize that I may not be alone in this situation. Society seems determined to keep our minds so distracted that we don’t stop to consider our actions. It has become verboten to take time away from our lives to contemplate. If we are doing nothing, we are wrong so we fill up every moment with tasks, entertainment, and social media instead.

It makes me wonder if there is a reason why we are discouraged from thinking anymore.

We expend an immense amount of thought about how we spend our money; since our time is irreplaceable, shouldn’t we treat it with even more respect? In the end, while we can always make more money, we are incapable of adding more time to our lifespan.

How do you spend the priceless resource of your time? Are there areas you would like to change? Please continue this conversation in the comments below.

References

Penn, W. (1706). Some Fruits of Solitude, in reflections and maxims relating to the conduct of human life. The seventh edition. T. Sowle: London.

Categories
Happiness Life self-improvement

What Would You Do Today if You Were Scheduled To Die Tomorrow?

“Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of every day and hour.”

Carnegie, Dale. (1948). How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever said this: “I can’t wait to achieve….”

We all do this. We spend our present moments focused upon our future in one way or another. We can’t wait to grow up. We can’t wait for the weekend. We count the years until we can take a vacation or retire.

My parents died at 57 and 61, respectively. While I am not a statistician, this made me realize that my personal time on this planet is limited. I may not live long enough to achieve financial freedom again. I may not live until tomorrow even; I could be hit by a truck as I walk to work for all I know.

Many people realize that, like me, they may never achieve their goals. They decide to enjoy life as it comes since nothing is guaranteed aside from our now.

While I may not live to see tomorrow’s sunrise, I live in hope of experiencing many more. While I may not live to achieve financial freedom I choose to live my life as if I will by planning my life and finances accordingly.

Yet I’ve realized that over the past two years I’ve spent the majority of my time working towards that uncertain future. Instead of savoring the life I have today I have kept myself focused upon the steps I want to take to achieve my overall goals. Instead of today, I’ve consistently focused upon my tomorrow, be it my next day off, my next investment, or the next stage of college.

I’ve taken some time off to consider what I really want in my life, focusing on the areas that don’t require money. I asked myself: if I were scheduled to die tomorrow, how would I want to spend my today?

The answer was surprising in its simplicity. If I were to die tomorrow, I would want to spend my today resting, reading, and writing one last blog post to pass on anything I believed might help you as you continue your journey.

I wouldn’t stress over pinching pennies. I wouldn’t constantly search for my next investment. I wouldn’t send every last dime I’d managed to save to my brokerage account. While I wouldn’t spend myself broke, I would allow myself to buy some new music, download an ebook that caught my interest (as opposed to waiting for a physical copy to arrive after I died), then I would stretch out, take a long relaxing breath of thankfulness, and quietly savor my last day on earth as I listened to the new music playing in the background.

That is something I can do right here and now in my current life. All I have to do is shift my focus. I can achieve the life I desire to an immense degree without having to wait and hope for a future that I may not live to see.

This is why I started taking time off each week to relax. This is why I began to eliminate drama from my life.

And this is why I encourage you to do the same.

Goals are a wonderful thing. They keep us alive and moving forward but it’s neither healthy nor productive to sacrifice every moment of your now striving for a future you may not live to attain or complaining that it hasn’t arrived yet.

Today I want you to take a few moments to step back from your entire life. Ask yourself how you would want to spend today if you were scheduled to die tomorrow. Focus upon the things that don’t require money.

Would you want to spend your last day enjoying your family? If so, make arrangements to simplify your schedule so that you can start doing that now.

Would you prefer to spend your last day free of drama? Then begin cutting the major sources of drama from your life.

Would you like to be free of the endless chores that come with caring for a home? While you may not be able to eliminate them entirely, you can begin to pare down your possessions and streamline your routine to eliminate much of the overhead.

Would you like to take one final trip before you leave this life? Start making plans and saving up so that you can take that trip in the foreseeable future.

You can still work towards the future, but you don’t have to sacrifice the entirety of your now to achieve it. I have discovered that, by simply shifting your priorities a bit, that you can live the life you desire to a significant degree immediately.

Take a moment to comment upon how you would want to spend your last day of life below. Share the steps you intend to take now to make that happen. Then share this post with the one friend is sacrificing their now to worry about an uncertain future.

Thank you.

I plan to discuss the specific ways I’ve began to streamline my life in order to spend more time doing the things I enjoy without sacrificing my goals for the future. If there is a particular subject you would like for me to address, leave a comment below.

Categories
Happiness Life

Why Bad Things Happen

The other evening I had a moment to chat with a young friend. This person needed to share the burden of some personal problems and wanted to seek my advice.

In the course of the conversation it became apparent that my young friend was placing far too much importance on what, in the end, was a rather trivial situation. To explain the difference I shared a few of the things I had experienced in my personal life.

My friend was somewhat shocked. “Why do these bad things happen to us?” She asked.

“To make us stronger,” I smiled.

I explained to her that while the experiences I’d had were traumatic, I had gained priceless knowledge with each event:

  • I realized what mistakes had led to the situations.
  • I uncovered areas of myself that I needed to change.
  • I learned how to work through my problems and resolve troubling situations, and
  • I discovered that I was capable of surviving anything that Life decided to toss my way.

In hindsight, the traumas of my past have not only benefited me; they have helped others as well. Those experiences inspired my desire to show others that they were not alone in their struggles. While I may have had to feel my way out of darkness alone, I ended up creating the beacon of this blog to help light the way for others facing their own personal darkness.

That alone has made everything I’ve experienced worthwhile.

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you’re facing. Regardless of how things seem there is someone out there who has faced far worse and rose to the challenge.

Remember that the next time you feel as if your life is ruined due to something that has occurred. In the grand scheme of things, our challenges are but a tiny blip on the radar. Chances are high that in a hundred years no one will even remember them.

So take a deep breath and relax. Step back from the situation for a moment and think about it critically. Realize that it’s not as bad as it appears to be.

Then form a plan to resolve the situation, pull up your big kid panties, and get to work.

You’re going to be okay.

Categories
Happiness Life

The Art of Stepping Back From Your Problems

In 2011 I achieved the dream of being a stay-at-home single mother for my daughter. I had managed to build a successful writing business that supported us for several years.

Then Life happened and the Internet changed. I saw my book royalties dropping and couldn’t think of a way to fix it due to the panic I felt since it was my only source of income.

Fortunately, by then my daughter was almost an adult. Rather than continue to stress over the issue I went job hunting.

A lot of people believe that I gave up when I made that decision. They took my actions as a sign of surrender and proof that a life of financial freedom was impossible for the average person to attain.

But I wasn’t giving up. Instead, I was stepping back from a situation that was causing me an immense amount of stress. Instead of surrender, I performed a strategic retreat in order to regroup.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since I made that decision. At first I was depressed. I felt like a failure in my own mind. I had achieved what I consider to be the ultimate success and I’d lost it.

I rode out the depression, pulled up my big-girl panties, and started brainstorming. Where had I gone wrong? I asked myself repeatedly.

I realized one of my mistakes rather quickly. In my determination to spend as much time with my daughter as possible I’d jumped a bit too soon. While I had a bit of savings it wasn’t enough to sustain us during the ebbs and flows of Internet commerce.

My second mistake was violating one of my major rules. Years ago I’d learned to always have a backup plan in place on mission-critical items. That was why I had started my computer repair business decades ago and had worked multiple jobs for years. It’s always best to have a backup income source in place just in case your primary income disappears.

I didn’t know how to fix that mistake without maintaining a public job or creating another business so I began to read on the subjects of business, success, and finance extensively. I realized that I could create another passive income stream through investing in dividend stocks and immediately got started. In the time since I’ve funneled every penny from my writing business (my book royalties are actually growing again—thank you!) as well as the leftover funds from my public job into the project. In fact, just the other day I invested enough to take me $45 closer to my passive income goals.

I only need $16.67 a day to maintain my simple lifestyle so I am now two-and-a-half days closer to my target.

Had I not stepped back from the problem I would have never been able to clear my head enough to search for solutions. I would be desperately trying to make ends meet on an income stream so low that even I have no desire to tackle it; so frightened that I couldn’t sleep at night, much less figure out how to fix it.

The Art of Stepping Back from your problems isn’t just reserved for crazy old women like me who want to escape the Rat Race of Wage Slavery. It can be used to solve any problem. It is almost impossible to come up with creative solutions when you’re neck-deep in a stinky situation. Only by stepping out of the mess can we think to grab a shovel and start to scoop it away.

How to Step Back From Your Problems

If the problem is with a relationship, take a few days to distance yourself from that person. Tell them that your Great-Auntie-So-and-So desperately needs her whatsit fixed so you need to go to her house for a few days. Tell them that you have to pick up extra hours at your day job. Tell them that you forgot to pay the bill on your cellphone. Tell them something believable that will allow you to take a few days away from them to clear your head and think.

Yes, I’m telling you to lie if you have to. They wouldn’t understand if you told them the truth so I don’t suggest even trying.

You may decide that part of the problem is you, work out a way to resolve it and then return to them a better person after the sabbatical. Or perhaps you’ll realize that your life is better off without them in it. Whatever you decide, take the time away to form a game plan and then execute it.

If the problem is with your finances figure out some way to make sure the essential bills are paid so that you can breathe again. You may have to move in with a relative or a friend for a time but that’s okay. It’s not forever; it’s just until you clear your head and work out a line of attack. If that’s not an option, you may have to bite the bullet (like I did) and take another job while you figure things out. You may do like a friend of mine did. She used her last penny to rent a truck and relocate to another state for a fresh start. She stayed with me until she got her first paycheck and then rented her own place.

If the problem is with your health, take a small sabbatical away from the ones who are telling you horrible things (don’t do this in a medical emergency, of course). You may not be able to escape your failing body but you can escape the Doom-Sayers for a time. I include family and friends in this as much if not more than I do the medical community. It’s hard to think straight when everyone around you is freaking out, especially when you feel bad. Relax, take a deep breath, consider your options, and form a game plan.

If the problem is so overwhelming that it seems to encompass the entirety of your life, leave it for a time. Pack a bag and take a trip somewhere. Camp in the woods, sleep in your car—do whatever it takes to bring a bit of distance between you and your life. Even a few hours spent alone in the park can help immensely.

I’m not advising you to run from your problems. Instead, I recommend that you simply step back from them for a short time in order to clear your head. Allow yourself some breathing room so that your mind can recharge and come up with some solutions.

By stepping back from my personal situations I gained a clarity that would have been impossible to achieve otherwise. I not only devised a game plan to re-acquire my financial freedom, I worked out a way to resolve a lingering health issue I’d not had the courage to face for almost a decade.

Today I would like you to target one problem in your life. What one thing is so overwhelming that you can’t think clearly about how to solve it? Select the problem and then step away from it.

Once you clear your head, share your solution in the comments and then share this post with a friend so they will hopefully be inspired to step back from a problem of their own. If you’re still struggling, leave a comment so that we can suggest options that you may not have considered.

Together we can accomplish anything.

Peace,
Annie

Categories
Happiness Health

Do Nothing

In a few short days my life is about to get extremely busy. While I would like to say that I am approaching the busiest I’ve ever been, thanks to the minimalist practice of eliminating the unimportant this would be a lie, so I refuse to mislead you.

Regardless of the exact details, the truth is that I have undertaken a course of action that will occupy a significant portion of my time for the next several years. At the end of this journey I will have achieved my life-long goal of graduating college so I consider the effort worthwhile.

It would be easy to fill the days leading up to my term. I’ve a house to maintain, a book to write, a blog to maintain, and a myriad of other items I would like to accomplish before I start this adventure.

Instead, I scheduled a day to do absolutely nothing.

The act of doing nothing can be immensely beneficial. It allows us to refresh both mind and body, recharging us so that we can regain the energy we need to keep moving closer to our goals. While you may not be able to do this very often, schedule at least one day a month to do nothing. One day a week is ideal but in this modern age that can be difficult to achieve. If you have children to care for you may not be able to spend the entire day relaxing (children need both food and supervision) unless you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who will watch over them while you rest. If you don’t have someone who can watch them, take them to the park. They get to play and have fun while you sit on the sidelines and relax. It won’t be perfect but it will be better than nothing. I used to take my Katie to the local parks on a regular basis in order to recharge.

When you institute a day of doing nothing into your schedule you will discover that you feel better and have more energy. Your mind will be clearer and the tension you didn’t realize you were hoarding in your muscles will ease. Your immune system will improve so you will fall prey to illness less frequently. This will result in you having to take less time off of work or reduce the times you have to work while ill.

I highly recommend it.

How to Do Nothing

Schedule a day off from work (you can use your normal day off to do this). Warn your family and friends in advance since they might become concerned if you don’t respond to their calls or messages and wonder if you are feeling ill when you don’t climb out of bed first thing in the morning. The goal is to reduce stress, not exacerbate it with the frantic concern of others.

If you don’t feel that those around you would understand you can use the Stealth Method: tell everyone that on this certain day you will be immersed in a project and unavailable. This is the method I personally use. Since I have a habit of limiting my daily communication when I’m immersed in a writing project they don’t think to question when I announce that I’m scheduling an entire day for this.

Turn off your alarm clock the night before. Put your phone on silent or turn it off entirely. Mute all notifications from Messenger apps that you have on any of your devices (computers too). You can completely disconnect your Internet if you don’t use it to stream music as well, but this is not required if you mute all of your notifications.

Right before you go to bed the night before, take a long bath or shower (your preference). Dress in something comfortable that you can lounge around your home in the next day. Light some comforting incense, turn on some soft music (I recommend Weightless by Marconi Union), and go to sleep.

When you wake up do not hop out of bed immediately. Just lie there and relax. Note any thoughts that travel through your brain but don’t act on them. Just let them flow. If you find any of your thoughts creating stress, focus on your breathing as you think about how nice it feels to rest. You have nothing to do today so just be.

In time you will find yourself growing restless. You will have to use the bathroom or will want a cup of coffee. This is perfectly normal. Your body is accustomed to constantly rushing so it won’t be used to taking a vacation. Get up, do those simple tasks, then curl up in a comfortable chair or go back to bed.

Ignore the dirty dishes. The world is not going to end if you skip them for a day. Just stretch out and savor the luxury of not having to do anything for a change.

While it is perfectly acceptable to read during this time, resist the temptation to turn on the television. The last thing you want is to waste your day of rest on mindless drivel designed to sell you something by making you feel inferior. That said; do not read anything related to your daily life. Read something soothing, inspirational, or completely fictitious.

Take deep breaths and long naps. You may discover that the only thing you want to do is sleep and that’s okay. In fact, chances are high that the first few times you do nothing that your body will demand it. As a whole we push our bodies hard and rarely give them sufficient time to recharge, so ignore the voice in your head that tells you that you need to get things done.

Give your body what it needs instead.

Do not go shopping with your friends. Reschedule your Tinder date. Skip the coffee shop latte. Just stay home, relax, and do nothing.

At the end of the day turn your alarm back on but don’t bother with your phone or your notifications. You can restore those settings tomorrow when you rejoin the chaos.

After you schedule your first day of doing nothing, send this post to your one friend who works far too hard. Tell them that the world will not end if they take one day to care for themselves for a change. If that person is a single parent, volunteer to watch their children during the time. If you are both single parents, offer to take turns so you both can rest.

Above all, remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, no one will.

Wishing you peace and happiness,
Annie

Categories
Future Me Happiness Law of Attraction self-improvement Success

The Magic of Dreaming

Beep! Beep! Beep!

The alarm clock blares, signaling another day of drudgery. You hit the snooze for as long as you dare, dreading the oncoming day until you finally jump up, catch a shower, and race to work.

You punch in at the time clock only to be greeted by your boss who has a litany of complaints and a hundred things they need you to accomplish ASAP, only to return home so brain dead that the only thing you want to do is scarf down the stale chips in your pantry and crash on the couch.

It never seems to end, does it?

Day by day, you barely have enough energy to survive, much less focus on escaping.

But you know what?

They may have enslaved your body but they can’t stop you from dreaming.

When you collapse into bed each night, imagine that you are laying down in the bed of your dreams. Use the good sheets if you have them and keep them scrupulously clean. Inhale the sweet scent of your pillow and relax because right now, at this moment, you are not a slave. You are free, and you are stretched out in your new life.

Imagine looking around at the tidy bedroom of the life you want. See yourself padding to the kitchen for a glass of milk or a midnight snack. Live your future life each night as you fall asleep.

Wake up a bit earlier each morning, turn on some classical music (classical makes one think of wealth), sit down, and think.

What can you do, right now, that will allow you to live your dream?

Write down the ideas that result from your brainstorming. In time, one of the ideas will click but for now just think.

Take a day off and just relax. Turn off the alarm clock. Cancel your appointments. Turn off the phone and ignore social media. Listen to the music that makes you feel wealthy and walk through your home. Pretend that you’ve made it; you’ve already achieved the life of your dreams.

Does your dream home contain empty take-out boxes scattered all over creation?

If not, then fix it.

Tidy the home of your future while you live in the home of your now.

Once you’re done with your quick clean-up, treat yourself to a long soak in the tub or an indulgent shower. Dress in your nicest comfy clothes and settle into your favorite spot.

For now, at this moment, you are wealthy. You’ve achieved your dream. You don’t have to go to the job. You’ve got food in your belly, clothes on your back, and your time is your own.

How will you spend it?

Perhaps wealthy you would like to research one of the ideas from your earlier brainstorming session? If so, then read a book or watch some videos on the subject. Whatever it is that you see wealthy you doing in a moment of peaceful down-time at home, do it the best that you can.

When you go to bed that night, know that you have lived the life of your dreams for a day. Savor the fact that, despite your current circumstances, they didn’t stop you from resting your body and opening your mind.

It sounds insane but it works. Taking the time to imagine the life you want to lead, to live in it now, where you currently are, will work wonders not only for your mood but for your future progress. It allows you to escape the ruts that you’ve fallen into, clear your head, and take those first tiny steps towards your dreams.

That was how I started down my path. At first, I took long soaks in the tub to hide from the misery of my life. Next, I started cleaning my home while my husband was away, pretending that I was free from my unhappy marriage and getting my life sorted.

In time I dreamed of a life where I could raise my kids without having to work in a public job. I started brainstorming ways to make it happen.

Since I loved to write and help people, I imagined a life where I could sit at home and raise my children in peace while I typed at my computer. I didn’t know how I would make that happen; I simply pretended that I was doing just that whenever I sat down to write a journal entry or whatnot.

Before I knew what hit me I had a successful website and a number of books published. Those books produced enough royalties for me to stop working entirely.

I started it all by dreaming.

I Have a Confession to Make

I had forgotten about those early days when all I could do was dream. I didn’t even realize until recently that those dreams were the first steps I took to create my reality. If not for dreaming about the life I wanted to lead, living it the best I was able in the moments I could, I would have never been inspired to start this website or write my first book.

Now that my kids are grown it is time for another dream. I’m living it now as I write this.

What do you dream?

Categories
Happiness

A Bit of R&R

I had the house to myself during my day off yesterday. I woke up early, knocked out my daily tasks, and then curled up with my current book.

It was so pleasant to simply exist. I didn’t have to go anywhere. I didn’t have to do anything. I could simply be…

…Until the messages and the phone calls started, that is.

I did what any woman who needs some time to herself should do. I muted the notifications.

The world carried on just fine without me. No major disasters happened because Annie decided to tune out for a day. This girl got to enjoy some serious “me” time uncomplicated by the drama of others.

It felt good.

Have you ever decided to just take a break from Life for a day? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Happiness Personal

I Don’t NEED Anything

Yesterday.

Walking to work.

I was crossing the street after checking the free stack at the local library.

That was when it hit me:

I don’t NEED anything!

I really, really don’t.

I have a roof over my head that I can easily afford even if Katie moved out tomorrow.

I have clothes on my back. A surplus, actually, that I will use up before I actively acquire more.

I have money in the bank.

I have a job that pays my bills.

I have a way to indulge my passion for writing, a way that allows me to potentially help others in some small way.

I have a quiet, peaceful life.

I am okay.

I am really, truly okay.

It feels good to know that I don’t need anything. Oh sure, I have things that I want.

But there is nothing that I really, truly need.

I am so thankful for this blessing.

What are you thankful for today? Please share your stories in the comments below.