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
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.

~#~

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

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

Thank you for your support!

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
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
Life Security

Are We Being Watched?

I was born in an age where many people could not afford a telephone. An age where the Middle Class splurged for a Party Line (a single phone line shared between multiple households). One was considered wealthy if they could afford a phone at all, and only the “truly rich” could afford a private line or a long-distance phone call.

Such was the era that I grew up in that I didn’t even realize that computers were real until I started middle school. The only time I ever saw them was on television, so I dismissed them as fantasy.

Perhaps this is why I continue to be so fascinated by the machines today. I am astounded by the fact that a device as small as the palm of my hand can be used to connect with what seems to be a limitless amount of knowledge and information. I doubt that this is something that I will ever take for granted.

I have watched computers grow from keyboard-shaped devices that you connected to a television to becoming devices that are part of the television. They are even an integral part of automobiles, microwaves, air conditioners, thermostats, and innumerable other devices scattered around the average home. More and more of these computing devices have now gained the ability to connect to the Internet. They have even coined a new term for the phenomena, the “Internet of Things (IoT).”

While I am amazed at how far computers have come, I wonder about the long-term repercussions of having an entire home filled with devices that can “phone home” for updates and transmit “usage statistics.” Have we finally entered the age prophesied by George Orwell in his famous book 1984 or am I so old that I am just becoming paranoid?

My questioning began after my daughter and I discussed some items we would like to buy. Shortly after we had that conversation, I went online to do something and noticed that the ads were eerily related to that conversation.

I had never, not once, ever searched for the items in question.

How could a random website on the internet–multiple websites, actually (since the ads were repeated in various places) know that my daughter and I had been discussing this topic, a topic that had never occurred to me to be interested in prior to my daughter mentioning it to me?

No one else was in the room. My computer has neither microphone nor camera installed. The television is an older hand-me-down from my daughter, so it’s incapable of connecting to the Internet. My iPad was on the table as we had that discussion, however. And my iPad uses WiFi to connect to the Internet.

My daughter and I conducted an experiment after that event. She had noticed the same thing happening to her when she talked about things around her smartphone and was curious as well. We turned up some music, placed our gadgets by the speaker, and huddled in the bathroom to formulate our plan.

Sure enough, the topic we chose to discuss appeared in ads on both of our devices in the days after that. My daughter was so astounded that she began discussing the suspected eavesdropping in front of the devices in question.

After that, the ads stopped.

Was something or someone listening in to our conversations? Did they realize that we were suspicious of them after my kid mentioned the fact, or was it all a big coincidence that advertising related to our private conversations stopped appearing when the kid talked about it in front of the devices?

I don’t know, but it has made me more than concerned.

It is common knowledge that Google earns money through advertising. Microsoft began to follow that trend by forcing users to watch ads if they wanted to play their games without a subscription. Even Ubuntu Linux offered Amazon advertising based upon your searches in the Unity Dash for a time. In an era of devices set up to respond on “Hey Siri,” “OK Google,” and “Alexa, order this for me,” is it a stretch of the imagination to wonder if these devices are listening in more than they claim?

When you add the NSA to the picture things become even darker. Edward Snowden fled to Russia after he revealed that our government was collecting frightening amounts of information. Microsoft and other major companies actively aided the US government through a thing called Prism. While Apple was one of the holdouts when Steve Jobs was still alive, they now admit to the fact that they analyze the photos you upload to the Cloud. They claim that it is to help stop child abuse. In light of my recent experience with their devices, I am beginning to wonder if images are all they are scanning.

Businesses exist for the sole purpose of making money. They make this money by encouraging us to buy the things they want to sell. To encourage us to buy, they promote their products and services through advertising.

What would stop Microsoft from profiting from this? What would stop any company from profiting from this? Who would know if Microsoft sold our private information to advertisers? We can’t exactly go through the source code of Windows to find out if they’re harvesting it. What would stop Apple from doing the same now that Steve Jobs is gone? We already know that Google and Amazon do this with their devices. That is what they were designed for, after all. Watch the ads they display of people using their devices to order stuff online and that fact becomes obvious.

And what if all of this goes deeper than simple marketing? Is there a chance that the police will show up at our doors if one of our devices overhears us discussing something considered illegal? A woman has already been investigated by police after she searched for a pressure cooker online. Is that going to become our reality?

Should we be worried, even if we feel that we have nothing to hide? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Edit:

Another question occurred to me after I published this post. If the government is collecting information on us, could it be that they are secretly repaying their information sources in the form of tax breaks? Inquiring minds would like to know.


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
Economy Life

The World Doesn’t Care About Us

We’ve been raised to believe that we live in a nation that cares about our well-being. We’ve been raised to believe that the land we call home is a place that we can trust. This is why, when our government passes laws that are supposed to be “for our benefit” that we might grumble, but we invariably comply.

Our nation wants what’s best for us, after all.

But does it?

I’ve spent these past few days reading the report (warning, it’s a big PDF) that was composed by a Senate committee on the treatment of CIA prisoners in the aftermath of 9/11. Our nation as a whole became rather dark in the aftermath of that event. In hindsight, that is when the United States as a whole began to change. I began reading with eyes wide open; I remember the news reports from that time period so I expected it to be bad but even so, I was raised to believe that our nation has a respect for human life that other nations lack.

“We are better than them,” sums up my belief, the belief that my father, who fought in the Korean War, instilled within me.

Page 117 of the report details some of the treatment received by a prisoner called “Bin Attash.” The official report notes that pseudonyms are used heavily within it so I am not certain if that is his real name. In the Footnote #686 on the previous page (it’s the bottom of the first footnote on that page, continued from page 115) a memo is noted that states that the prisoners in question were not considered official prisoners of war so the Geneva Convention rules that pertain to the humane treatment of prisoners did not apply.

What I read next taught me exactly what they meant.

This man by the name of “Bin Attash” had one leg. Of all the prisoners discussed within the document thus far, it means that I can understand his physical limitations since my father had a leg amputated when I was a child. The CIA decided to treat this guy with a bit more consideration, foregoing what was euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques” due to his disability.

They forced this man to undergo “standing sleep deprivation,” a procedure where inmates are forced to stand without sleep (I gather they’re tied in a way where they cannot sit), for 70 hours. That’s not considered part of the “enhanced interrogation” procedure because it’s two hours under the limit. After that, they let the guy sleep for four hours and then shackled him in the standing position again, depriving him of sleep for another 23 hours. When you look at footnote #692, you discover that this man’s leg, his only leg, began to swell horribly at that point, so they decided to be merciful. They tied him to a chair and forced him to live without being able to sleep for another 20 hours.

Note that while they’re doing all of this they’re holding the man naked and giving him “dietary manipulation” as well. Based upon what I’ve read, “dietary manipulation” in this scenario can either be giving him things he may not like to eat or pureeing food and squirting it up his rectum. The report doesn’t specify.

My dad had one leg. He could barely stand for an hour, much less 70 hours or 23 hours. He had to sit a certain way and stretch out his good leg for a time if he stood up for too long due to extreme pain that resulted from stress on his good leg.

Yet the United States government forced a one-legged man to do just that.

If our government, considered one of the best in the world, the government that is supposed to care about people can do that (and worse, if what I understand about the waterboarding sections are correct), do they really care about us?

Or are we just the means to an end, a way to fill their coffers and keep the government running?

Think about it. We’re urged to buy even when we can’t afford the things we’re told to buy. We’re hiring Ubers to take us to the emergency room because we can’t afford to hire an ambulance. People are searching up ways to pull their own teeth because they can’t afford the dentist. Women have shared with me that they’ve not only sold their own bodies, but the bodies of their female children, just to pay their bills.

We’re told to incur huge amounts of debt to buy houses larger than what we need, informed that we need to incur tens of thousands (and sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars of debt to go to college, only to discover that we can’t afford the taxes on the houses we buy or that the paper diploma we’ve been told will help us get the job to repay the debt is worthless for our needs.

We’ve got tent cities and whole websites devoted to living in vans, cars, and tiny homes just so we can afford to survive while the elite in our nation buys supplements designed to allow them to literally shit gold. There’s even a restaurant where you can eat steak encrusted in gold; that’s how big the difference is.

And for what? We struggle and starve and die so the rich can get richer. Our food supply is virtually cornered by mega-corporations who use that money to pay off our politicians. Our medical industry sells us drugs with side-effects longer than the proposed benefits, promoting addictions so that they can grow even richer by selling us the cure.

The saddest part about the entire situation is that we can’t stop them, not on our own. The only thing we can do is make a dent, but if enough of us make a dent, if enough of us decide to give these bastards as little of our money as we can, maybe we can hit them in their wallets hard enough to make a change.

Because it’s reached the point where we can’t not give them our money. We have to eat. We have to have a place to stay. We have to have some medical care. Many of us need cars just to go to work and we all need clothes to wear. We need access to the Internet so we need to have computers or at least phones to acquire that. We have to pay taxes, if only to stay out of jail.

We live in an age where the “greatest government in the world” thinks nothing of tying a one-legged man into a standing position for days at a time! Do you actually think they care enough about the rest of us to treat us any better?

I don’t.

Please spend less. Even if you can just shave a few pennies off of your purchases, those pennies will add up if enough of us do it. If you can stretch the useful life of the things you currently own, you can avoid giving them the ability to shit their gold. If you have the skills and the land to grow a single tomato, do it. The less you earn, the less you’ll pay in taxes and the less money the government will have available to do stuff like this to people.

Because there is only one thing that they care about: money. They don’t care about you or me or anyone else. They don’t even have the common decency to grant mercy to a one-legged man; do you actually think they would grant you any mercy if you fell into their clutches, or would they throw you into a for-profit prison and brag about the money they’ve made?

I am far from an expert and I’m trying really hard not to judge but there is something broken in a society that can do the things I see it doing.

If we’re not careful we will lower ourselves to their level. As it is, we are all guilty of torturing that one-legged man because it is our votes and our tax dollars and even our purchases that made what happened to him possible.

WE did this! And while we cannot change our past, we can determine our future. We can rise above, we can say “no” by simply changing the way that we vote and earn and spend our money. It’s just like stopping a fire; remove the fuel that makes it burn, and the fire will go out. Stop giving them money and they will no longer be able to afford to commit atrocities like this.

I need to go think now. The tears are streaming down my face to the point where I can barely see the keyboard. I don’t want to live in a world where the poor are forced by necessity to sell their plasma or live in cars and brag about their thriftiness. I don’t want to live in a world where one-legged men are forced to stand to the point of agony for the purpose of “public safety” and hear it called “mercy.”

I want to live in a world where we all have the right to live in peace, with places to stay and enough to eat, a world where people aren’t forced to sift through dumpsters for things to sell just to survive. And the only way I know of to make that happen is to figure out a way to limit the money I give them and pray that it curtails their power.


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 Health

Are You Picky About Your Pots?

I have owned my current set of pots and pans for longer than Katie has been alive. I am quite proud of these pots; it took quite a while to arrange for their purchase since they were far from cheap. I located them in one of those “seconds” stores that they have in malls occasionally; it is a place where major brands sell things at a discount that they haven’t sold through their normal channels.

The particular set of stainless steel pots that I own are made of heavy stainless steel with thick bottoms, designed to handle everything that I can throw at them. I no longer own the skillet however; I traded that away in exchange for a cast-iron one many years ago.

I am very particular about the pots and pans that I use on the occasions when I do cook. I read somewhere ages ago that aluminum buildup in the brain may be one of the causes of dementia. Given the propensity of metals to leech into food while cooking, I decided to be cautious.

I stopped using teflon pots and pans decades ago for the same reason. No matter how hard I tried, the teflon coating always seemed to deterioriate so I became concerned about that stuff leaching unhealthy things into our food as well.

I may not cook much, but I am thoughtful about the utensils I use.

Do you ever think about the pots you use when you cook? What reasons do you have for selecting the pots and pans that you have? 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
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
Life Personal

How Deep Does Our Mental Programming Go?

As I sit here today I am pondering the thoughts and decisions I have made over the years. How many of those decisions came from me, and how many came from societal programming?

My reason for this line of thought stems from Christmas dinner yesterday. I ate that meal perfectly well, yet there is a part of me that is screaming over the fact that I’ve yet to get around to acquiring a set of dentures. I feel somehow wrong and less because I am toothless, but why?

I can eat perfectly well. I may not be able to eat nuts or really hard items, but I can eat. I can actually eat better now than I could when I had teeth!

So why do I want dentures? The purpose of dentures is to not just improve appearance but to help people eat better, right? Yet I can eat perfectly well without them and my appearance has already improved.

So how much of the desire for dentures is from me and how much of it is the programming I’ve received since childhood?

I am having similar questions with my pursuit of college. Why do I want a degree? An Associate’s Degree will increase my income potential a bit but to be honest; I’d make more if I took a job at a factory than I ever could with an Associate’s Degree.

As for the knowledge attained, I find myself doing busywork more than actually learning these days; if it were not for the pointless exercises I would have a lot more free time. I’ve reached the point where I do believe that I could learn more faster if I skipped the busywork and just read the books in my spare time.

Of course, college isn’t designed like that. If you don’t do the busywork your grades suffer immensely. Even worse, if you come to a solution in a way that varies from what the instructor wants you are wrong even if the result is exactly the same.

Yet we spend money just to spend our time doing stuff that really doesn’t matter in order to attain a piece of paper that is supposed to tell the world that we’ve become someone special.

I may be onery in my old age, but I’m beginning to question the logic of not only college, but other facets of my life. Just how much of my desires actually make practical sense in the grand scheme of things?

If the purpose of attaining a formal education is income, there are much faster and cheaper ways to do it. We can work at factories while they still hire humans. We can take a quick certification course and enter fields that don’t require a degree. Hell, if my only purpose is to earn more money I could start busting my ass on this website, produce more books, and go from there. I could even spend $500 to take a set of tests that would certify me in the computer field–and that would be a large boost in pay. I could start accepting new clients in my computer repair business or read a few books on phone repair and earn a tidy income from home.

So why am I so set on attaining a degree? With any of the other options I would actually be able to earn even more money a lot faster than I could by spending my time in college.

And if I said “forget about it” on my teeth I could save $1,000 or thereabouts and be done with the mess.

Just how much of these desires are from me, and how much is from my societal programming?

Have you ever thought about that? Wondered how much of your desires are truly yours? What is your opinion of my personal situation?

I could really use some advice right now so please contribute to the discussion by commenting below. I would really like to know if I’m on to something or if I’m losing my mind.

Thank you.

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
Goals Life Personal

Update

It has been hectic these past few weeks but I wanted to give you an update on my progress.

I have finally reacquired my driver’s license and I may have a vehicle coming my way over the next few months, depending up how the negotiations work out.

I have reached the next phase of correcting my dental issues, so in the next few days I will begin the process of acquiring dentures.

I became a full-time employee at my public job. At that place, full-time is like the Gold Standard. I suspect that the pay will still be garbage, but that is okay. I am taking steps to correct that issue.

College is going well. It is a challenge to work and go to school but due to the fact that I’ve been actively simplifying my life things are becoming easier. I plan to have the broad sweeps complete by the end of the year so that I can spend what little time I have to spare writing a new book.

All of this is leading to the next step of my plan. I don’t know the exact steps I will take yet, but they will become apparent as I move forward. All I know is that I need my teeth and transportation sorted before I begin the next step.

I am exhausted. I have not been sleeping well as of late. Despite the fact that I am deliberately scheduling in ample time for sleep I find myself waking throughout the night. I suspect that my mind is active on my plans.

Over the next three days, I will be working ten-hour shifts. I will write the two papers that are due during my lunch breaks.

Some days I wonder just how in the world I am pulling this off.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here, working in the background. I miss being able to talk to you.

Peace,

Annie

Categories
Health Life Personal self-improvement

It is Better to be Toothless and Healthy than to Suffer for Vanity

If anyone ever tells you that working a public job, running an online business, attending college, and getting all of your teeth yanked simultaneously is a good idea, please tell them that they are being incredibly stupid.

I can now say that from experience. I just tried it and it wasn’t fun. I highly advise you to take at least a week off from everything should you decide to get all of your teeth pulled at once, unless you happen to enjoy masochism, that is.

That said, I sincerely hope that the misery is completely behind me. I just looked through the maudlin posts I’ve been publishing and ended up depressing myself.

To summarize what I was trying to explain in my previous posts, living an intentional life is determining what you really want, making sure that it’s something you want and not something that society says you should want, and then living your life accordingly as you give the middle finger to the mindless masses who happen to disagree.

On to the story…

As all of you know, I decided to fix my painful visage once and for all by having every single tooth in my head removed. I decided that my health was far more important than my appearance and made my decision accordingly.

Society would like us to believe that the people who choose to have their teeth removed are all illiterate hicks. We either didn’t take care of our teeth or we destroyed them by using drugs as we showed off the car collection we keep on concrete blocks in our front yards. As a result, those of us who decide that it is best for our health to remove our teeth are stigmatized by society.

Oddly enough, it seems to be the poorest of the poor who hold that belief most often. I’ve had several obviously middle and upper class customers who actually praised my decision to forego immediate dentures, citing the pain they suffered from their personal decision to select vanity over comfort, while my less fortunate customers now sneer at me in disdain or tease me about my condition.

As one so eloquently phrased it, “I’ve got more teeth than you now. Guess you shoulda brushed!”

One of my neighbors decided to come through my line during the height of my misery.

“What happened to your mouth?” she asked with a laugh. “You look funny!”

If I hadn’t felt so bad I would have reached across that counter and slapped her into next week. It was obvious that she was determined to make me feel even more miserable than I already did from the expression in her eyes. It was typical behavior for her but I wasn’t in the mood for her attitude.

“When it comes between choosing between my teeth and my life, I choose my life every time,” I sniffed, outraged that she would attempt to humiliate me in the middle of a rush. “I plan to get dentures once my mouth fully heals.”

“I wish more people were as smart as you,” Mr. Mild Mannered Gentleman chimed in from his place behind her in my line. “Most people would rather poison themselves with rotten teeth than have the courage to accept the inevitable.”

Once my neighbor left with a splutter my defender continued the conversation. “I wish I would have been brave enough to not go with immediate dentures,” he confessed quietly as I scanned his purchases. “Those things are absolutely horrible.” He gave me a glimpse of his beautifully fake smile as he walked away.

For the record, I brushed my teeth faithfully. I flossed and did the other little things I could to take care of them to the best of my ability. Based upon the decade’s worth of posts I’ve written for this blog, I also believe that it is safe to say that I am far from illiterate. While I will own the fact that I’m a hillbilly, I know for a fact that my vocabulary can run circles around the more pompous I’ve encountered1.

But let’s face it, folks. Shit happens. We make a false step and end up scarred for life. We get in an accident and we lose a limb. In my case, I didn’t discover the dangers of soft drinks until my teeth started shattering in my head. It wasn’t common knowledge back when I was a child.

If a limb is gangrened, do we hold on to it or do we get that sucker amputated, attach a prosthesis, and get on with our life? Having your teeth removed is no different in the grand scheme of things.

Society is wrong for stigmatizing people who have made the intelligent decision to choose their health over their smile. What does it matter if your teeth are real or fake, if you have a complete set or not, so long as you are healthy?

It doesn’t matter one bit.

To the person out there in the world who is suffering because you are terrified of what society will think of you if you have your teeth removed: Ignore those idiots. It’s none of their business anyway. If they don’t pay your bills they don’t count and if they don’t like how you look you tell them where to kiss.

If you aren’t comfortable enough to do that you tell them I said where they can kiss. While they’re at it, they might be well-advised to tuck that stuff back in.

Their ignorance is showing and it’s ugly.


  1. For those that are wondering: Yes, I talk rings around them for fun. I find pomposity annoying. 
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
Life self-improvement Success

Know Thyself

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”

Laozi

When you start upon a journey, you must not only know where you are but where you want to go. Otherwise, you wont know which turns to make—or even realize if you have arrived at your destination.

Life is the same way, yet many of us tend to wander aimlessly through it. It is no wonder that we end up feeling lost and dissatisfied.

As you take time for yourself this weekend, contemplate your current situation.

  • Who are you?
  • Are you content with yourself?
  • Is there anything about your current life and circumstances that you would like to change?

Write down your answers in a journal or save them in the comments below.

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.