Categories
Happiness Personal Simplicity

How to Know That You Are Loved

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

BoomBoomBoomBoomBOOM!

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

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

“Wha?”

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

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

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

It’s nice to be so loved.

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

I find it beautiful, and I am immensely grateful.

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

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

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

Even more importantly, today is a day of gratitude.

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

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

Categories
Personal

Chaos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,
Annie

Categories
Personal Security

Gremlins?

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

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

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

I could find nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTE: This bit of information is for the curious.


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

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

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

Thank you for your support!

Categories
Personal

My Heart is Broken for RheaLeigh

There is something wrong with a society where people hurt their own children. There is something wrong with a society that thinks severe child abuse only warrants a small charge. There is something wrong with a society that no longer cares what happens to our defenseless members.

This morning I received word that a friend of mine received a horrible call. She was told that her baby had fallen out of bed. When she rushed to the hospital, she discovered that the truth was far darker than that. Her own husband had been abusing that tiny little baby since the day she was born.

The guy admitted to it.

We can talk and we can preach about wanting to make a change on a grand scale, but in the end, the goal isn’t to vilify the rich.

The goal is to help our society.

I want to leave a better world for my children and grandchildren. I’ve seen a malaise within my tiny community, and based upon my research, if we can make things better on a small scale by providing more opportunities, people won’t be driven to such madness that causes then to harm the helpless.

But for now, I would like to set everything aside. For now, there is a tiny little baby fighting for her life in the hospital. Her mother isn’t rich. She can’t afford to play the legal games to bring her baby’s abuser to justice. I don’t even know how she will afford her baby’s medical bills.

I hope you will find it in your heart to help her.

Her GoFundMe Page is here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1vf6669ruo?utm_medium=social&utm_source=fbmessenger&utm_campaign=p_na%20share-sheet&rcid=86a21197ee21456aa71b928b2d37ccf8&fbclid=IwAR0Jp8C-83mzunRs8uKGRK6n7rnB-in1n-E74Oof6hS6zXEz7m3Ohi5KN4o

My prayers go out to little RheaLeigh.


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
Minimalism Organization Personal Simplicity

Physical Vs. Print Books

Over the years I have waffled between print and physical books. I love having the ability to pull a book off of the shelf and flip to my notes or review certain sections. I don’t know if it is because I grew up exclusively with physical books or if that is the way that my brain works. Regardless of the reason, I’ve collected quite a few print books over the past few years, believing that it was the best path for me to take.

Technology has changed immensely since I made the initial decision to focus almost exclusively upon print books so I have realized that this subject needs to be revisited. This article will discuss the differences between the two formats as I decide if one format is better for me personally.

Ease of Acquisition

If you want to acquire an ebook it is a simple matter of downloading the title desired from the Internet. If you have access to an Internet connection you can acquire almost any book you desire within moments. Websites that specialize in creating ebooks from titles that are out of copyright are prolific these days. There are very few books that one cannot download immediately now–especially if the book in question is an older one.

Print books can be located easily enough from libraries, book sales, thrift shops, friends, and a myriad of other avenues. If a book you desire cannot be located locally you can always order it online. You will have to pay for shipping and wait a few days but you can still acquire them.

The primary difference (aside from speed) when it comes to acquiring either print or physical books is cost. A large number of ebook titles are older and out of copyright; these titles can be acquired for free in digital format but even the oldest print book may cost money to acquire. If the title is an uncommon one (like a first edition), acquiring a physical copy can become prohibitively expensive. While it may not cost much to acquire an older print book locally, shipping expense on physical books can add up over time.

Ease of Access

One of my primary issues with ebooks is the DRM that is so prevalent when you purchase books from major retailers. If those companies go under, what happens to the books you’ve purchased? Will you still be able to access them? Will the money you spent on the digital books be for nothing if the company decides to withdraw your right to access those books? This is a major concern for me. Many ebooks come packaged in a special format that would make it impossible to read the books if you lose access to your reader software or the company decides to revoke your right to read them. That problem doesn’t exist for print books; you don’t need special software to read them and never have to worry about some company telling you that you can no longer access the books you’ve purchased. As long as you have a physical copy, you will be able to read that book. Even better, you can lend that book out if you desire. Many ebooks do not have this ability. Ebook distributors don’t want people to share the ebooks they’ve purchased so they seriously limit–if not completely eliminate–your ability to share the ebooks you’ve purchased.

Search capabilities

Ebooks win in this area. If you can remember a few words from a section, a quick search will retrieve all instances in a book where those words appear. This is much easier to do with ebooks than it is with print books; if the print book doesn’t contain an index, you are forced to flip through the pages until you hopefully get lucky enough to locate the area you are searching for.

However, when it comes to actually locating a book that you are looking for, print wins out if you don’t know the exact title. Humans are geared to recognize things visually. It is a simple matter to sift through a collection of physical books to locate a specific cover, bookmark, or other identifying mark when searching for a particular book. Even with modern ebook readers that feature covers this can be difficult. Publishers (especially indie publishers) tend to change their ebook covers occasionally. When they change the covers on their ebooks, the ebook reader system will update the title with the new cover–rendering your visual ability to locate that book useless.

Space and Portability

You can store an incomprehensible number of ebooks upon a single device and carry that device with you. This grants you the ability to keep an entire library of books in your possession wherever you may go. The only way to comprehend what this means is to try carrying aound a 1,000-plus page book to read during downtimes. I’ve had to do that in the past. When I began learning about computers, many of the books I read were in this page range or even larger. These books can be a logistical nightmare. Just trying to open one up to read a few paragraphs while you’re standing in line is almost physically impossible if you don’t have a place to sit down. With a small computer or ereader, however, you can accomplish this with ease.

Moving can also become a logistical nightmare if you possess a large number of books. These books must be boxed and taken to the place where you have decided to relocate to. If you are moving some distance, this can end up costing a fortune. I’ve encountered this issue several times over the years as I’ve moved from place to place. It was one of the primary reasons I began shifting to ebooks before I settled in this house. I couldn’t afford the time or the expense of moving my immense library from a practical perspective.

Once you settle into a place, physical books add another layer of difficulty to one’s life. You need to acquire some sort of shelving or devise another method of storage for the books. Once you have that in place, you have to maintain your physical book collection by dusting it, rearranging it when the titles get out of order, as well as protecting them from moisture and other hazards. If your physical book collection outgrows the space that you have allotted for it, you either have to eliminate some of the books or expand your storage. This can become quite expensive, especially in light of how much it costs in our modern age to rent or purchase larger homes. Very few of us have the financial luxury of being able to afford a home large enough to store an extensive library of physical books.

In contrast, even the largest library of ebooks can be stored on a tablet, ereader, phone, or backed up on a hard drive. I have several DVDs worth of ebooks stored away that I’ve collected through the years. It takes very little space to store those discs in comparison to storing the physical versions.

Privacy

A modern discussion of the subject of books would not be relevant without discussing privacy concerns. Our world is slowly evolving into a state of constant surveillance. Many of us like to read books that those around us would not approve of if they saw those books on our shelves. I encountered this issue personally many years ago; I was a member of a religious faith that “discouraged” its members from possessing and reading any book that was not officially sanctioned by the leaders of that faith. In fact, that was one of the reasons I began exploring ebooks. It allowed me the freedom to read what I wanted without anyone in that faith to become aware of my unsanctioned reading preferences.

While as a society we may not have degenerated to the point where our reading material can get us in legal trouble, there are some instances where discretion is encouraged. Certain subjects like the Law of Attraction, spiritualism, and even certain reference materials can make family and friends uncomfortable or even hostile if they happen to see these types of titles upon our bookshelves. Because of this, it may be safest to keep certain subjects of reading and research exclusively in digital format–if only to avoid questions.

My Personal Situation

As much as I prefer print books, the space that I have to store them is limited. The shelf I acquired to store my library is overflowing. At some point in the future I will have to reduce my collection by thinning out some of the titles I own. Many of the books I prefer to read are older titles so I wonder at the logic of paying for a physical copy when I could download a digital copy for free instead. Does it make sense to spend money to purchase, say, Moby Dick in a physical book when I can download an ebook version for free?

While I’ve not been openly criticized for my reading preferences in close to a decade, I still carry some emotional scarring from that time in my life. There are some subjects that I refuse to even consider acquiring in print format because of my experiences in the past. Even with that precaution, I have raised a few eyebrows when a curious visitor has taken the time to examine the physical books in my collection. I’ve got a small number of books that I’ve hidden away because I know that there are those in my circle that would not understand my interest in certain subjects.

Privacy hangups aside, my primary concern at the moment is physical. I have no desire to relocate to a larger home; in fact, I may choose to move to an even smaller place in the future to save money on housing. How can I juggle this? I already know that, should I decide to move that I won’t be able to take my entire physical collection with me. If a flood hits this place, I know that I won’t be able to take my physical books with me if I have to evacuate. The DRM limitations on ebooks purchased on major retailing sites makes me nervous; when I acquire a book, I want to keep access to that book, period. There are ways around that but those ways aren’t exactly considered politically correct. Even if I don’t share a single copy of an ebook I possess I may run afoul of the law at some point in the future if I pursue this avenue.

I do have the equipment now that will allow me to read PDF files and even make notes in them on my devices. It’s not the same as holding the physical book in my hand but it’s close. Books acquired in plain text take up even less space than PDF books; if the files are named with some sort of convention, they should theoretically be fairly easy to locate even in a sizable collection. Computerized search capabilities have improved immensely over the past decade as well to the point where computers can even search inside some PDF documents and they’ve always been able to search inside of text files.

I love the beauty of physical books but I’ve reached the point in my life where I need to make a decision. Should I continue to collect physical copies, or should I gradually transition to ebooks? And how do I deal with the fact that my physical book collection has outgrown the space that I have available? Am I being overly paranoid about the privacy aspect? Do I accept the risk of loss if modern DRM controls decide to block access from my ebooks, or should I seek a DRM-free source of any ebooks that I acquire? And should I focus on formats that I can read on any device I happen to possess or resign myself to a single ereader device that may become obsolete?

What book format do you prefer? Why do you prefer that format? If you were in my situation, a situation where space and privacy are major considerations, how would you handle it? Any and all opinions are welcome. I would like to hear a variety of opinions before I make any decisions.

Thank you for your consideration.

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
Personal Writing

Journaling is a Waste of Time if You Don’t Keep Your Journals

Last night as I sorted through my files to prepare them for long-term archival, I stumbled upon some journal entries I had written between 10 and 20 years ago. I had tossed them into a random folder at some point when trying to recover data from a dying system and had forgotten about them.

Unable to resist, I took a walk down Memory Lane as I perused those old files. Some of them were from the very first Windows computer I had ever owned, stored in plain text because I didn’t own a word processing program at the time.

I realized something important as I read those ancient entries. While I have been journaling from the moment I learned how to write as a child, those are the oldest journals I still possess. All of the other notebooks and other formats I have used over the course of my life have long been lost or discarded.

What is the point in keeping a journal if you don’t hold onto the entries? How can you discover the changes you have made if you can’t hold on to the records?

Absolutely none.

I realized that I wasted countless hours of my life creating journal entries that were eventually discarded. The only exception to this sad reality are the scattered text files I used to create quick journal entries over the years as I sat at the computer.

Computer journaling may not be perfect but for me it seems to be the only method that survives the test of time. I don’t like to keep physical things long-term if I don’t use them and sometimes paranoia has inspired me to burn my old paper journals. I store my deepest, darkest secrets in my journal entries so I have always been more than a bit paranoid about someone discovering them. No one touches my personal computer files, however, and a zipped archive protected with a password has worked wonders for my comfort level.

This discovery has made me realize that the best way for me to preserve my journal entries is to save them on the computer. As much as I love the feel of placing pen to paper, that method is far too transient for my needs.

I intend to take advantage of that discovery with the upcoming decade. From that point forward, all of my journaling endeavors will be written in plain text and filed away. In the event that I feel the urge to use paper and pencil I will scan those documents, convert them to PDF files, and destroy the originals.

Do you journal? If you prefer to hand-write your journal entries, how do you store them? Are you ever worried that someone will discover them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Personal

Nightmares

I had a frightening dream the other night.

I was the person I used to be back during my marriage. My husband had installed a two-tap sink in the bathroom. I turned on the right spigot and clean water gushed out.

I turned on the left spigot and raw sewage began to spew from it. I jumped back, screaming. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t figure out how to stop the flow. I turned the handle to the off position and the flow became even worse. Regardless of which direction I spun the handle, the sewage flow became faster.

I woke up with a slight scream from the nightmare.

Any thoughts on what it could mean?

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
Housing Personal

How I Spent My Day Off

I set my alarm bright and early. I had plans to visit the library book sale and have lunch with a friend before applying at some local factories so I wanted to get all of my daily tasks completed. That way, when I arrived home after lunch I could dedicate the rest of my afternoon to decimating the jungle in my back yard. My days off may be split up this week but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t get stuff done.

I knocked out my daily tasks, washing loads of laundry as I worked while I waited for my friend to awaken so we could head out.

By 10am it became obvious that my friend had decided to sleep in. I couldn’t blame her; she works more hours at her public job than I do so I knew that she needed the rest.

However, I had things I wanted to accomplish. I needed to have everything done by early afternoon in order to tackle the back yard since the chants of “Feed me Seymour!” were starting to get annoying.

Did I want to be the friend who blows up someone’s phone because they’re exhausted and overslept?

No, I did not.

I chuckled. She needed her rest; I needed to get stuff done. Lunch and job hunting could wait for another day, especially since I’m in no hurry to start working full-time. The money might be nice but it’s not essential since I’ve got money left over to invest each month even at my current wage.

Rather than bother her I grabbed my shopping bags and headed to the library.

I walked into the room filled with books and froze. Do I really need more books? I asked myself. I have quite a stack at home that I’ve yet to read. Even worse, many of the business and financial titles I’ve encountered lately hadn’t exactly been written for cheapskates like me. I certainly didn’t want to acquire more fiction; I’ve got quite the stack waiting to be read at home already.

I do not want to be the woman who accumulates stuff for the sake of accumulation. I may not be a minimalist but I am not a hoarder.

Heavy on my mind was the fact that every dollar I manage to keep brings me that much closer to financial freedom. With a 10% dividend, every dollar I invest equates to ten cents in annual income a year.

Eighty dollars invested in this way brings me an hour’s wage closer to my goal. Did I really want to spend the $50 I’d budgeted for the book sale or did I want my freedom more?

The voices in my head were unanimous: freedom was much more important than acquiring more books.

I couldn’t even look at the selections. My heart wouldn’t let me. You’ve got enough, my brain kept screaming.

I left that book sale without purchasing a single title.

Disquieted at the sudden change of heart, I wandered around town a bit to think. It wasn’t like me to pass up the offer to acquire inexpensive books but I’d noticed myself doing that more and more lately. I barely even visit the freebie section at the library these days.

Why was that? Was it just because I had an assortment of books already, or was there something deeper at work? I ignored the scenery as I pondered this.

I realized that my time is limited. There are only 24 hours in a day; I have to spend at least eight of those sleeping in order to function properly. That gives me 16 hours each day to work a public job, take care of my home, socialize with family and friends, and work towards my goals. I’ve reached my limit when it comes to juggling everything. Should I take a full-time job I will be forced to make cutbacks in other areas of my life.

According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of our efforts produce 80% of the results. If I selected the books I choose to read more carefully I would not only learn more, I could save time as a result. It might cost more to acquire the individual books but the time savings would be immense.

The goal is to learn, not just to spend my days reading, after all. If I spent less time reading things that aren’t relevant to my objectives, I would have more time to not only work on improving my home but to rest as well.

Considering how many nights I’ve face-planted into my keyboard lately, rest is something I desperately need.

It felt odd and uncomfortable to realize that, in a year’s time, I’ve managed to grow beyond the basic financial texts that I’ve been able to acquire locally. It felt odd to realize that I could no longer pick up just any old book and learn from it.

It felt really odd to realize that I had absolutely no desire to even look through the offerings at the library book sale and to know that I needed to thin down my current collection to narrow my focus and conserve my time.

I returned home, mind filled with my recent epiphany as I ate my lunch. I didn’t even bother to wash the dishes. I piled them into the sink, sat down, and began to share my thoughts with my journal.

My friend showed up at my door while I was writing. I’d been so wrapped up in my thoughts that I hadn’t realized she’d been messaging me. While she was apologetic about oversleeping, she was ready to grab lunch and go job hunting finally.

I looked at the clock. It was one in the afternoon. I still had that back yard to tackle and despite everything I was still on schedule to get it done.

I no longer had time to go job hunting, however. I explained to her that I had arranged my schedule so that we would have been done by that point. I had to start working on my yard. It wasn’t going to mow itself. With the current rain forecast and my public job schedule, I had to get it done.

I’m not certain if she was more upset at me or herself but she settled down at my kitchen table, went online, and started filling out job applications. I puttered around the house a bit, working on my laundry as I offered her lunch. She refused so I went back to work. I headed out back and started mowing.

“You need to sit down and take a break,” she counseled when I paused to catch my breath.

“If I sit down I won’t get back up,” I replied bluntly. “Sitting on my ass isn’t going to get this yard done. I am getting this yard done today, period.”

I got it done.

I wondered what thoughts were going through my friend’s head as she left once I’d finished mowing. Was she upset that I’d insisted upon keeping to my schedule? Was she angry that I had plans for my life, plans to improve my home and regain my freedom? Was she upset at the fact that I wouldn’t just drop everything I’d had planned for the remainder of the day to go hang out and apply for some jobs after she’d overslept?

Maybe she thought I was being a jerk?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that I wasn’t trying to be rude; I simply did not have the luxury of procrastinating.

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting my rooftop. I had made a sound decision the day before; my yard would have gotten completely out of control if I had delayed.

Time to get back to work.

Categories
Life Personal

Stiffly Moving Forward

My first thought this morning was that someone had replaced my joints with a box of Rice Krispies. Every part of my body snapped, cracked, and popped after yesterday’s adventure.

But at least I got the front yard mowed.

I may not feel like moving from this spot but I still had stuff to get done. While I’ve accomplished a lot towards my 2019 goals, there is one area I’ve barely touched:

My will.

I went online, revisiting the websites I’d trolled earlier. I located some examples along with a form where one writes out their funeral desires and printed it out.

In the next few weeks I’ll sort through the data, design the legalese, and concoct the paper that will serve as my Last Will and Testament until this cheapskate decides she can afford to have an attorney work up a better one. Once that is done I’ll round up a couple of friends and track down a Notary to make it legal.

For now I am going to swallow some pain meds, get dressed, and head to work. Sore muscles or no, this girl has got to make some money.

Categories
Housing Personal

Adventures in Weeds

I arrived home after work to discover that, true to Amazon’s word, my weed trimmer had arrived.

Squee!

This is the first time in a decade or so that I’ve actually owned a weed trimmer. While I borrowed mowers the first year I moved here I eventually started paying my neighbors to maintain my yard. I wasn’t sure if I was going to remain in this area so I didn’t see the point in bothering much with the place.

But this year is going to be different. This year, the old broad who lives in the tiny house on the ratty street is actually going to mow her own lawn for a change. While I can’t afford a mower (and have no idea where I would store one if I could), a weed trimmer was do-able.

I raced in the house. Finally I’d be able to keep my lawn trimmed to my personal standards whenever I gosh-darn wanted it trimmed! I ripped open the box and slashed my thumb in the process.

The kid slapped a band aid on the wound and I kept going. I wasn’t about to let a stupid cut prevent me from my goal of mowing my yard all by myself for the first time in years.

I fumbled with the gadget, trying to put it together as the instructions laughed at me from their packet. Thirty minutes of steady cussing later I surrendered. My progress went pretty quickly after that until it came to the time when I needed to attach the guard.

I needed a screwdriver for that. Where was my screwdriver again?

I looked in my junk drawer. I looked in my tool tote. I scrounged through my old computer repair kit. What the heck? I have a ton of screwdrivers, yet not a single one of those pesky little creatures happened to be in evidence. It was like a gremlin had entered my house and taken every single one of them!

But I wasn’t defeated. Oh, no…this girl was determined to mow her darn yard and she wasn’t about to let something as mundane as a stupid screwdriver stop her!

I decided to use a knife instead. Delighted at my ingenuity, I began attaching that last remaking piece to the device.

That was when the thunder rolled.

“Are you kidding me?” I gaped at the ceiling as the noise shook my house. First I cut my thumb, then I fail in my attempt to ignore the instructions, then all of my screwdrivers go AWOL, and now there’s THUNDER?!?!

“Oh, hell no!” I growled as I worked even faster.

I finished attaching the guard and headed to the bathroom to retrieve the gigantic extension cord I purchased a few years back to use with the heat tape I’d attached to the commode.

That was when I tripped over the dog. She was trying to be helpful but my bathroom is just a bit too small to have a 50 pound dog weave around the back of your legs just as you’re standing up after unplugging a heavy extension cord.

At least I couldn’t hear the thunder over the crash.

I sat on that floor for several long moments as Lily the dog gave me an apologetic look and the thunder laughed maliciously. My ole’ butt was going to be sore in the morning, I was sure of it.

I was going to mow my yard if it killed me.

I picked my lard butt off of the floor, shook my fist at the ceiling, and headed for the door. It wasn’t raining yet and even if it was I was still going to get this done.

I gave a determined snort, firing up the trimmer to finally begin the task of slaughtering the weeds officially known as my front yard.

That was when my new neighbor decided to say hello.

I turned it off with a sigh. Despite the fact that the guy will most likely be gone before winter I couldn’t bring myself to be rude. I chatted with him for a few moments, listening to the thunder overhead as I became convinced that the entire Universe was conspiring against me. It had taken me eight years to finally decide to take charge of my yard; I could wait a bit longer if I had to.

The skies cleared. Another neighbor captured New Neighbor’s attention. I was free! I attacked my yard with abandon…

…and Lily attacked the weed trimmer.

What?

Lily had never seen me with a weed trimmer in my hands. She’d never even seen me touch a lawn mower. Bless her heart, the dog thought she was defending me. I jerked the trimmer up and away to protect her from the flying strings. The kid came out to see why I was yelling again and laughed before helping me calm the dog down.

That sorted, I got back to work.

I am so glad that I have a tiny front yard. It didn’t take long at all to chop all of the weeds down once I finally managed to get started. To my amazed delight, there wasn’t a single drop of rain while I worked.

I decided against tackling the back yard tonight. I’ll deal with it in the next few days.

This girl is not about to press her luck any further. Instead, I am going to pig out on the batch of brownies the kid just pulled from the oven and go to bed.

I am so done with this day.

Categories
Business Investments Personal

Three Jobs?

Since yesterday was a maudlin day (as you could tell from my post), I called up my beloved Auntie early this morning for some much-needed encouragement.

“Well, it’s no wonder you’re exhausted and feeling emotional!” Auntie declared once I’d shared, “You’re working three jobs, taking care of your house, and studying like you were in an actual college class besides! I don’t know where you get your energy, but if you ever figure it out you need to bottle it cause I want some!”

“Three jobs?” Huh? How on earth did she figure I was working three jobs? I wondered.

“Three jobs, Missy. You’re working at that grocery store, you’re running your writing business, and you’re busting your butt to get your investment business going. Then on top of that, you study every night before you go to bed. You’re doing a lot!”

Hokay….

A bit flabbergasted, I concluded the call so I could sit and think. Was I really doing the equivalent of working three jobs?

I am. I really am.

I didn’t realize it, but the majority of my time is spent working. When I’m not writing, I’m researching companies, reading gigantic SEC filings as I brainstorm ways to come up with more money to invest and work out the best ways to invest given my limited funding.

When I’m not doing that I’m either working at my public job, studying nonfiction books related to business, investments, or my writing.

And somehow in the midst of all of that I manage to clean my house, take care of other personal business, and sleep.

How on Earth did I stumble into this?

More importantly…wow.

I hadn’t shared it with you, but I’ve got plans to incorporate my investments at some point. I’m not there yet but Annienygma Investments is a thing. It’s what I call it in my head, and it will eventually encompass not only stock market investments but real estate as well when I can manage it.

OMG. I’ve got a writing business that’s around a decade old (bit older, if I recall correctly). I’ve got my public job. And I’m in the very early stages of forming an investment company.

I had no idea.

It’s no damn wonder I’m so tired and moody.

What surprises have you encountered lately? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Empty Nest Housing

Broken Bones

I received a letter from Katie yesterday. As I was reading it the phone rang.

It was the kid.

She’d suffered multiple stress fractures in her right leg during a PT test in addition to injuring her knee. As a result, the Navy was sending her home.

To say that she was disappointed would be an understatement. Even with a fractured leg she was only 14 seconds shy of achieving her time on her PT test that day.

Well, shit.

I kinda liked this empty nest thing but I can’t fault the kid for getting hurt. I know from experience just how easy it is to be injured in the military. I’m just grateful it was caught before her leg shattered.

She’ll be shipped home in about two weeks. After that comes the process of helping the kid heal and building her up for her next adventure. Only time will tell what it will be.

In the meantime there is a bright spot. She’ll continue to share the bills once she gets back on her feet. She’s already gotten two job offers locally now that the news is emerging. That will give her time to recuperate and figure out her next step while making life a bit easier on me once she recovers.

Life is still good. It’s completely chaotic at the moment, but it’s still good.

So what’s been going on in your world? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Categories
Empty Nest Finances

First Month Without Katie

I just finished paying the first round of bills without the kid sharing half of the expenses.

I made it. I even had a bit to spare.

I must confess that I was worried so I clamped down drastically on my spending. I’m not quite sure why I was worried (this isn’t my first rodeo, after all), but that old demon Fear loves to play games with me.

In order to reposition myself for the future, I’ve decided to actively use up some of the stockpiles I’ve acquired over the past few years. Cleaning supplies, cosmetics, paper products, food–all this and more are going to be used before I purchase more. This will allow me to not only safely stretch my finances while I adapt, it will provide the opportunity to use up some of the things around here while I learn just how much I use when it’s just me as well as free up physical space in this little home.

This girl has got to go back to the basics, build her foundation, in order to move forward. Who am I? What do I want out of my life? These questions have been running through my mind since the tearful day I said farewell to my daughter.

There is life after parenthood. I’m going to embrace it. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been really, truly free to discover who I am. My dad died when I was just getting started; before I recovered from that I found myself pregnant. Even when you count my childhood years I’ve spent the majority of my life caring for others.

Now it’s time to take care of me.

Have you ever noticed that, for females, life seems to be focused so much on caring for others that it almost ends when all you’ve got to focus on is yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Empty Nest Food Personal

The Miracle of Water

It was close to midnight. I padded into the kitchen to quench my thirst and picked up the water pitcher.

I blinked at the heft. Huh? I raised it up to examine the water level. It was full.

My water pitcher is never full. The only way I can ever get a drink of water out of it is to fill it up, let it drip through the filter and then immediately pour a glass. This has gone on for so long that I’d become convinced that the Household Gods were determined that I die of dehydration.

“Hmph!” I filled my glass, topped off the pitcher, and returned to bed. It had to be a fluke.

The next morning I headed to the coffeepot. I paused, staring in shock.

The water pitcher was still full.

“Hokay, that’s strange,” I mumbled as I poured myself a cuppa Joe. Twice in a row? My Household Gods must be on vacation!

Before I left for work I filled a water bottle, topped off the pitcher once more, and headed out.

It was full when I got home!

Maybe, just maybe, the Household Gods that always seemed to drink my water or mess up my house, maybe they went on more than a simple vacation.

Maybe they went off to the Navy.

Hmmm.

I can have some fun with this!

Categories
Health Life Personal self-improvement Success

The Process of Recharging

Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.


Émile Coué de la Châtaigneraie

I sleep in when I can. I rest instead of endlessly working. Bit by bit, I can tell a difference.

Instead of scolding the dogs for their excitement in the mornings when they wake me to go potty, I gather my coat and take them out without a word.

Instead of sighing in frustration when my co-workers page me for help at work I cry “help is on the way!” and race to the front with a laugh.

Instead of internally bitching when someone wants a few minutes of my time on the phone or in-person I give it to them. I limit it, as I’m still drained, but I’ve regained enough energy that I can safely give something back.

When I have a small spurt of energy I get up and do something that needs to be done. Last night as I visited with a friend I noticed that my dog’s collars needed washing so I pulled them off and scrubbed them while we chatted.

Five minutes later I was one task closer to catching up on my backlog.

The fridge is slowly getting emptied of the detritus the kid left behind. Her little Katie-piles are being dealt with as I stumble across them.

I’ve brainstormed one thing I can do now to improve my quality of living and I’ve taken steps to make it happen. I’ll cover that in a future post when it is more than just a plan.

I’ve even went back to tinkering on my plan to reduce my smoking. I’d started on a plan before things blew up around Thanksgiving but let it go due to the chaos that surrounded me. Now that things are calming down, I’ve gotten back to work on my goal of being a nonsmoker.

Last but not least, I’m processing my emotions with my journal. I fill several pages a day with random thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I find my thoughts repeating. I dutifully jot them down regardless. The very fact that I’m noticing the repetition is a good sign.

I suspect that my internal battery had been operating in the red zone for quite some time though life had been a bit too chaotic for me to notice it. I’ve been pushing myself quite hard for a couple of years now in order to make up for time lost back when I was injured, and even harder once I’d decided to teach myself about investing while focusing more on this website. Between that and everything else I suspect I’ve been heading for this physical and emotional crash for quite some time.

And that’s okay. It’s okay because I’m taking steps now to correct the issue, and I’m aware of the fact that I need to slow down, which makes me a wiser person.

I’ve got something I want to do. I’m not letting go of that, but I’ve realized that in order to accomplish that goal I’ve got to take care of myself now in a way that I’ve never really been able to do before.

So I am still here, and I am still fighting. I will do whatever it takes to achieve financial freedom, and I still intend to take you on that journey with me.

This is part of the process.

Are you still working towards your goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Health Personal

Practicing Selfishness

It has been six days since I watched Katie leave with the recruiter. Five days since I saw her last, on the day she shipped out to BASIC. Four days since I’ve had any contact with her.

And I’m doing perfectly fine.

I’ve not had a day off work since last Tuesday, the last day I saw my little girl. One of the kids quit at work, so my schedule was adjusted to take up the slack. The change was exhausting on top of everything else (I’m still recovering from the Crud) but I’m not complaining.

I’m actually thankful for the busyness.

That said, I’ve still got a lot on my plate right now. Not only am I adjusting emotionally, I’m recovering physically from illness (101F temp at its worst). I’m also dealing with family and friends who are more than a bit concerned that I will go batshit crazy now that the kid is gone.

Among the well-meaning suggestions I’ve received:

  • You need to get a car so you can get a better job now.
  • You need to relocate to another part of the state so you will have better access to jobs/opportunities/housing.
  • You need to relocate to (wherever) so I can help you recover and so you won’t be alone.
  • You need to find a good man to take care of you.

There have been more but those are the highlights.

It’s been more than a bit annoying. They mean well, so I accept their suggestions with a polite nod and continue on.

Instead of heeding their suggestions, I’ve been politely distancing myself from them.

My first priority is to take care of myself, so I have been selfishly doing just that.

I allow myself to sleep in every morning. I need as much rest as I can get between my work shifts in order to recover physically.

I’ve paused all reading and research. I’m still thinking, but at the moment I’m no longer actively collecting knowledge concerning my goals. I want to be rested both mentally and physically before I continue.

I’ve limited my housework, as well as my writing. I do the basics in order to keep from falling behind but I’m not going to worry about the other stuff at the moment. I’ll get to it when I feel a bit better and my schedule eases.

I’ve readily accepted rides to and from work. I need to conserve my energy so I’ve shoved my pride into my pocket and allowed myself to take advantage of every single offer. I’ve even asked for rides a couple of times. While I don’t intend to make bumming rides a habit, I am wise enough to understand that the less energy I expend, the faster I will heal. I compensate my friends for their help, of course.

In short, I am being selfish. I am taking care of me. I am refusing offers to go out after work for shopping, meals, or a drink at the local watering hole. I work, come home, and rest.

And I patently refuse any attempts to persuade me to do otherwise. I don’t care how well-meaning the offers may be, I know what I need right now, and I’m going to get it. Period.

Sometimes you have to be selfish. Sometimes you have to ignore the well-meaning offers and suggestions on how to better your life. More times than not, you know what you need better than anyone else. In that case, you have to stand your ground.

You have to take care of you.

How are you taking care of yourself lately? Are you practicing selfishness in order to get the rest you need? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Life Personal

New Beginnings

This is it.

Last night I said my final farewell to the kid. The very last call was scripted, just letting me know that she had arrived safely and that she would be out of contact for the next couple of weeks.

I am now officially free of the full burden of motherhood.

It started a few days ago. We had a farewell party for the kid. Here are a few photos to mark the occasion:

With my grandson, her nephew.

Once the party was over (I didn’t show photos of others to protect their privacy), Katie made one final trip to say goodbye to her best friend who died. She left here on the 2 year anniversary of Emery’s death:

After her farewells, we kept it normal until the recruiter drove up to carry her away. She gifted me with some earrings to wear while she was gone in order to keep her close. I donned those to watch her pull away.

With her Recruiter.
Driving away.

I had quietly arranged to take the next day off, to see her one last time at MEPS. It was going to be a surprise but her uncle spoiled it when he saw us walk in. Darnit!

.I would include a photo of her uncle but he’s a rather high-ranked member of the military so I’m unsure of the wisdom. I will take the cautious route and not. I hope you understand.

Waiting at MEPS for Katie with her sister.
Katie’s final, official swear-in. She is now an official member of the US Navy.
One last meal together before we part ways.

I thought Katie was going to cry when we gave each other our final farewells but we all stayed strong. I’ve spent the past few days with tears streaming down my face so for now I believe I’m cried out.

Her last call was late last night. It was scripted. “I’m here. I’m okay. You will get a package in the mail soon. You will hear from me in approximately 2-3 weeks. I love you. Bye.”

So it is over. The 29 years I spent as a parent with kids at home have come to an end.

I intend to take the next few days to decompress. I want to get in the proper headspace before I move forward.

It is time to take a deep breath, relax, and to move on.

That is all any of us can do when we reach a turning point in our lives. We just need to breathe, realize that it is not the end of the world, and figure out what we want to do next.

I’ve already gotten the bones of that path started so I doubt much will change aside from my living circumstances. Just in case, however, I don’t intend to make any sudden moves until I know I am okay. While I’m a bit more okay than I was the day I watched her drive away, I know I’m not there yet.

We will all be okay at the end of the story. We can survive more than we realize.

I’ll write more when I can.