A New Journey?

It is time for me to turn down a glass. I have survived my very first year without my beloved Katie. I have not only survived, I have made some massive changes to my world, changes that have reaped some interesting dividends.

This year was a year for me to cut loose and have fun. I hit the ground running. I gave myself a bedroom, the first proper bedroom I’ve had in over a decade. I even gave myself permission to spend money, and boy did I spend it! I made sure to save 10% of each paycheck (plus all of my book royalties), but other than that, I allowed myself the freedom to do what I wanted.

I had a bit of a panic over that not too long ago but then I realized that I’d not really wasted much money. Instead, I’d acquired things that not only made life more comfortable, but would last for quite a while. I even acquired a few things that have helped me save some money. The air conditioner, heaters, electric blanket, and electric throw have all helped to lower my utility expenses. The car increased my monthly spending (due to the payment), but it allows me to travel to work in bad weather without fear and even allows me to visit my beloved aunt on occasion.

I never imagined that I would be thankful for having a car payment, but I am. It feels incredibly luxurious to be able to hop to a neighboring town if I need something immediately that I cannot acquire locally, and it feels like heaven to be able to make the drive to visit my aunt. I even got to spend Thanksgiving with her and my cousin due to that car.

I am immensely grateful for that.

One of my goals this past year was to increase my income. I managed that in spades. Now, instead of living on the shoestring budget of $500 a month, I bring home close to $3k. My mind boggles at the change.

In order to increase my income I took a job at a local factory. I ended up in a position that is rather mindless. I spend 10 hours a day painting latex onto a mold before I rotate it through an oven. That position has given me time to think.

What do I want to do next? I began to ask myself. Did I really want to spend the remainder of my working years standing on a hamster wheel? My life had fallen into a routine. I work 4-5 days a week, 10 hours a day. My weekends were spent cleaning my home, watching television, and chatting with family and friends. It’s a good life, a simple life. I enjoy it, but do I really want to spend the next decade or so this way?

I don’t want to retire. I’ve realized that, while pleasant in spurts, that I make myself a bit insane when I take time off to stay at home. I need to have that excuse to get out of the house, if only to provide social interaction. I could retire, even now that I have the car payment. I can afford to do so, but the fact is that I don’t want to. Sometimes getting what you think you want helps you to understand that you didn’t really want it as bad as you thought. I’ve realized that when it comes to retirement.

I need a purpose in my life, or what’s the point in living?

The beauty in my mindless job is that it gives me plenty of time to think about that, to ask myself the important questions while getting paid in the process.

I’ve realized that, if I continue on my current path, that I will simply become a mindless consumer. I will work, then I will spend my weekends decompressing with the latest movie or fad, shifting about on a path that will take me absolutely nowhere. While I see nothing wrong with that, it’s not what I want for my life. I’ve spent my life learning, growing, and experimenting. To stop…well, I don’t want to stop.

I want to do something new.

I don’t want to go back to extreme frugality. That’s served its purpose for me. It allowed me to be a stay-at-home single mother, and for that I will always be grateful. I’ve no real desire to write, however. After spending more than a decade knocking out books, blog posts, and articles in order to pay the bills I find myself burned out. I rarely even journal anymore. I find it a chore just to jot down a few sentences to summarize my day in my journal.

So now what?

I would like to increase my income a bit more. I love the security of having money in the bank, of being able to buy what I want, when I want, without fear. I love being able to replace an item immediately when it dies instead of having to budget. I love discovering an item on sale that I want and being able to take advantage of the cost savings. I like being able to buy things that make life better.

I want more of that, but I know that, if I remain where I’m at, that while my income will increase with raises over time, that there is only so far that I’ll be able to go. I also know that in time, the mindlessness of my current job will make me crazy, so I asked myself what I could do about the situation.

I’m too burned out to write. I’ve no real desire to hop from factory job to factory job in order to increase my pay. If I’m to work in a factory, I’ll remain where I’m at because the work is easy and management is good to me.

I came up blank. Perhaps I’ve spent too many years focused upon being a mom, but I could not think of anything else I could do that would not only provide something to occupy my mind, but have the potential of increasing my income over time.

Eventually I turned that question on its head and asked myself what would I do if I could do anything and money were not an object?

That question yielded instant results. As a child, I had two major passions. I loved to write, and I loved playing with computers. I was the child who could happily spend entire days in her room either writing stories or exploring the capabilities of her computer. As an adult, I even went to school for computer repair and ran a service/repair business for many years. Even now I take on the occasional client just for kicks.

I may be burned out on writing, but there are areas of study in the computer field where I’ve barely scratched the surface despite my curiosity due to money and time constraints.

I can make money in the computer field, but even when I don’t make a penny, I still have fun.

So I did a thing. I gave myself permission to delve as deep into computers as I desire. Even if I don’t use the skills to increase my income, I’ll be keeping my mind active and having fun in the process.

It would certainly beat spending my weekends holding the couch down as I watch my latest show.

I thought long and hard as I painted those molds. At my age, the odds of eventually acquiring a job in the field may be slim. The skills would increase my chances of employment in other fields, however, and even if it didn’t I knew I would have fun. It would definitely give me something to look forward to on weekends!

I decided to give myself a good review of the field, in order to ensure that my basic knowledge was current before I proceeded. I invested in a few books and began reading them at night and on weekends. Come spring I would treat myself to something I’ve not treated myself to in ages, a brand-new computer (not used, not refurbished), but a brand-new system that would make my inner geek scream with delight. I would acquire that computer and just play.

Excited at the thought, I began to price my dream machine. Due to space considerations, I settled upon a laptop, a gaming laptop because those are the ones that make me drool. I discovered that it would cost about $2,500 to acquire the machine I wanted to acquire, but since I was planning to use my income tax refund to pay for it (and I’ve already acquired everything else I want), I could afford the splurge.

A friend of mine had decided to invest in a newer system, so while helping him select a computer that would meet his needs, I checked out the sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To my surprise, I found a laptop that ticked my boxes on sale for $1,400.

I had the money. Even with spending what seems to me an insane amount of money over this past year, I continue to spend quite a bit less than I earn so I had more than enough to make the purchase. I bought it along with a fresh round of books since I’d almost finished the review round I’d purchased earlier this year.

That purchase flipped a switch in my brain. I feel alive again. I couldn’t wait to finish my shift and come home the day it arrived, and I stayed up way too late getting it configured. I delved into the books and began experimenting.

Finally, after a year of hiatus from thinking and planning and struggling, I have a new journey to embark upon, and I am going to have fun with this. I plan to acquire some certifications as I move forward. While I don’t know if I will ever use them to gain employment, they will serve as personal markers of my skill, but at least one of the certifications may improve my odds of acquiring a job I can do from home if I ever get burned out at the factory or a shift in the economy sends me job hunting.

So life is good, and I’ve a new journey to pursue. While in some ways it’s a continuation of a journey I began long ago, this feels like a fresh start all the same.

It’s so easy to get caught in a rut, to do the same things you’ve always done and think the same things you’ve always thought. Mixing it up, allowing yourself to do something that you’ve previously not allowed to do can be good for the soul. Even if you decide that the path you’ve started isn’t for you, you’ve still learned something about yourself.

What do you plan to do with the coming year? Do you plan to start a new adventure? Please share your stories in the comments below.

BTW, I finally finished the adventure of acquiring a new smile. What do you think of the new look?

~#~

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!

Chapter’s End

“I hope you hate your new job!” Gemma’s eyes flashed as she flounced up to me.

I smiled. “I’ll miss you too.” I had heard that sentiment several times over the past two weeks; managers and coworkers alike were upset when I had given notice. While on the outside the statements seem harsh, they are actually the highest compliment one can receive in the restaurant industry.

That is the statement you receive when you are truly loved.

So many people pass through the restaurant industry. Few stay. They become a blip on the radar to the crew who sticks it out long-term. Many times the old-timers don’t even bother learning the names of the new ones. Why bother when they’ll be gone in a few days?

While I’d never planned to stay when I started working at that restaurant, I’d lingered long enough for the crew to get attached. I’d gotten attached, too, so when I turned in my notice I quietly began to say my farewells.

While it was bittersweet to work that last day, this was something I had to do. Now that all of my children are grown, it is time to work on me for a change and for my next adventure I’ve decided to continue my exploration of finance and life. I’ve spent the last two decades actively exploring frugality (most of my life due to circumstances, to be honest). Now I want to see how far I can go in the opposite direction.

The job offer I’ve accepted is part of that process.

This new adventure is a continuation of the experiment I began with the purchase of a journal a while back. I gave myself permission to buy something luxurious to explore the Diderot Effect. I’d taken a good hard look at my home and realized that my personal environment had changed in a way that did not please me. I did not enjoy having my home look like something out of Deliverance, so I decided to change it.

I am still working on that.

I asked myself what I would own if money were not an object and I didn’t have to count my pennies. I asked myself what my ideal home would look like if finances were not a concern, then bit by tiny bit I began making changes, but I didn’t stop there. I also asked myself what I could see myself doing in my ideal life.

Once I adapted to Katie moving out, the answers shifted. I discovered that I needed the face-to-face interaction that a public job provides. Few things give me more joy than watching my coworkers smile when I sing out my greetings each morning. That said, I didn’t see myself remaining in the restaurant industry. I saw myself in a position that not only provided a stable schedule, but provided a larger income and insurance benefits as well.

I start that new job on Monday.

I will miss my old friends, so after that last day at my old job I took the evening to mourn.

Now it is time to move on. I will make more friends starting Monday.

Change can be scary, but change is also the way that we evolve. Like the butterfly, we have to dissolve ourselves in order to become something better. We have to pare down to the bones of who we are deep down and rebuild ourselves from scratch if we want to grow.

Have you ever decided to change your life, to evolve and explore something new? If so, what did you do? Please share your stories in the comments below.

~#~

If you happen to find this post helpful, would you consider sharing it with a friend or on social media?  Thanks!


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

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

Thank you for your support!

Pandemic, Hornets, and Floods, Oh, My!

The field across the street from my house.

I’ve spent the day today watching the water rise in the field across the street from my house. They’ve already called and told us to evacuate, so we’ve made plans to do just that.

Hopefully it won’t get that bad, but the forecast calls for it to get in my house about three foot or so. I lived through the Flood of 1997; our current pattern is worryingly similar so I am watchful. Katie’s boss sent her home early and they’ve already started closing store on this end of town.

I just may have to bug out, folks. I’ve set things up so I should still be able to blog through this so all is well.

Just wanted to let you know so you won’t worry.

How do you feel about hypocrisy?

All of us have met that person. The person who claims that “sex outside of marriage is bad” but brags about one-night stands or is constantly in and out of relationships. The one who tells others not to judge even as they are judging others.

Or the one who tells you to throw all of your stuff away just to buy new.

There is nothing wrong with having beliefs. Beliefs are part of what shapes us and makes us unique. Without a range of different beliefs and opinions, this world would be a very boring place.

The problem with having beliefs is when your actions run counter to the beliefs that you state publicly or even say that you believe yourself. They can not only lower your sense of self-worth, they reduce your value in the eyes of others.

How can we respect someone who scolds another for smoking while they’re puffing away on a cigarette? How can we respect someone who preaches celibacy outside of marriage when they have a live-in partner? How can we possibly respect someone who condems the wealthy when they brag to others about how much money they spent to buy a new car or a house?

We can’t.

I have no patience for people who do not practice what they preach. While it doesn’t matter to me what others believe or don’t believe, I have an issue when someone’s stated beliefs run counter to their actions. If someone tells me that they don’t believe that women should wear their hair short or use cosmetics, I expect that person (if female) to have longer hair and a clean face. If their hair is shorn to the roots and they’re wearing a cosmetic counter on their face, I am going to lose respect for them.

If we can’t practice what we preach, why should anyone bother listening to us? If we can’t follow the advice we offer, what does that say about us or the message?

Does it bother you when you experience hypocrisy in your daily life? Do you strive to keep your stated beliefs consistent with your actions? What do you do when you realize that your actions run counter to your stated beliefs?

Please share your answers 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!

Notes to your Future Self

Katie and I started a little tradition when we defrosted our refrigerator for the first time several years ago. We didn’t know how long it had been since we had defrosted it so sensing an opportunity we each wrote little notes to our future selves (Katie even left herself a gift) and stuck them in the back of the freezer for the next round.

My last note was dated April 16, 2016. In laborious chicken scratch, I told myself that “life sucks but it will get better.”

It definitely has!

So now the time as come to write myself another note. I think I’ll write more in this next one. In the meantime I have a nice, clean, defrosted refrigerator to enjoy.

 

Have you ever written a note for your future self to discover later? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Maintaining Balance

Back to school season is always a bit hectic around here. A local church hosts a free yard sale that is packed with donations and yard sale discards that would normally end up in the trash while the local clothing closet has a yard sale where you can purchase bags filled with the clothing of your choice for a dollar apiece.

Along with that we have to go to school registration day and make the trip to WalMart for Katie’s and Donavon’s (my grandson’s) school supplies.

Each of these acquisition trips are accompanied with purging. When new clothes come in, old clothes go out. The ones that have been worn into rags are discarded while the items that are in good shape are bagged up and donated to the local clothing closet for them to either distribute among those who need clothing or to sell during their bag sales.

This is one way that we maintain balance in our lives. Since our space is limited, we refuse to allow our possessions to grow beyond what our house can comfortably handle.

What do you do to maintain balance?

Blogging

Sometimes the Law of Attraction is about following hunches.

I’m following another one. I started another blog about simplifying my lifestyle. Just uploaded a couple of pictures from my kitchen stash on there. Perhaps I’ll gather some new ideas on how to organize and simplify things.

Not only that, but by organizing and simplifying I will be happier as well, enabling me to better concentrate on the more good things I wish to attract.

Not quite sure how it will all tie in, but I’ll figure it out!

I love hypocrites!

I really think they are hilarious! It is so much fun to bait them and let them rant and rave like they are all that..

Religious hypocrites are the best. They go to church and all the other churchgoers think they are such good religious folk…

I know a lot of people like that. The druggies who can’t live without their fix but get praised on the church steps cause “they do so much” for God….

I know some who are gay, and yet have fits when someone discusses homosexuality around them – can we not say “the person doth protest too much?”

I know wife beaters, tax cheaters, thieves – all upstanding church citizens.

Just mention one person who finds happiness outside of church walls, and they get soo hostile, because they are SO much better than those who leave the church – all the while you can hear them puffing on their joint over the phone lol!

One uptight churchgoer I used to know had a roommate who was an open gay male. Just for kicks, I used to have the most gorgeous women go up to this man and ask him to go out just so they could record him saying he was happily living with his boyfriend… I even asked the dude about it myself and he admitted it!

Of course, the church-goer denies that his roommate is gay, and gets all upset at the questioning, even going out of his way to announce every place in the whole entire earth where he has had sex with all of these “women” (like “who cares?”).

Honestly, I have no respect for people like that, but they do amuse me.

It says in the Bible, to let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no.” It also says not to judge in there as well.

I have so much more respect for someone who is open and forthright about who and what they are about as opposed to those pretending to be someone they aren’t. So you’re a queer and u like to do drugs? Who gives a flying flip! Just be yourself, and if someone doesn’t like it, who cares?

What is the point in going to a church that shuns drug use and homosexuality if drug use and homosexuality are what u are really about? Why live a double life? Your church friends can’t come around cause they may smell the dope, but your druggie friends can’t come around either cause your church friends may see them!

What type of life is that?!?

Gosh, people – be yourself and tell the rest of the world to fuck off! If you think it is so wrong to whore around or do drugs – then quit doing them yourself before looking down at others!

What makes a person have such low self esteem that they think this group or that group is necessary for them to survive? If you’re worried about salvation consider this: Jesus hated hypocrites, and membership in a church is not going to help you if you aren’t practicing what you preach. Much better to be honest and forthright than lying and sneaky…

I know one guy who chats with me constantly about how he hates men who abuse women, yet he abuses his significant other constantly. Calls her stupid and dumb and threatens to kick her out constantly, then relents cause “she isn’t able to survive on her own cause she has mental issues”. Her offenses? She will disagree with him on something. For years I have wanted to tell her that she can escape, but she isn’t ready. She reminds me of myself when I didn’t think I could ever master something as big as an escape, much less living on my own. Oh yeah, this dude is a “real asset” to his church as well…

Do we see a pattern here? Are all church going people hypocrites? If so, count me out, cause it just makes me sick!

I Hate the Housing Projects

Some people must truly be miserable. Truly miserable.

Those people are the ones who cannot be happy for a person’s accomplishments, but have to find fifty reasons why they made the wrong decision.

I detest people like that.

I know some. Couple of them actually.

Okay, I am not rich. After an illness forced me into the projects about 4 years ago, I promised one day I would escape. And I did. Now I have managed to buy a mobile home. I own it, free and clear.

I am delighted.

What do I hear from these people? I hear how much “better off” I was when I lived in the damn projects, how much “better” the schools were in the hellhole I left, and how I’m going to “regret” this decision…

I wanted to call these people some serious names. I really did.

I am proud of where I am today. Damned proud!

So I don’t waste my money on stupid crap like televisions and video games. So I don’t see the pleasure in owning a bunch of trash that you have to make paths to wade through.

So frickin’ what!

Whatthehell, so I gotta be like them in order to be happy? Live like a rat in a cage kissing the asses of the government, worried that I will get evicted if a friend lets an animal set foot on my front porch?

Worried about who visits me and when, or did I remember to report that twenty bucks I made the other day, and OMG don’t open the damned door for the sunlight, cause the freaks will just barge in without knocking!

Can’t own a pet without selling your soul, and if that pet gets too big to meet their precious regulations too bad – get rid of it or be evicted…

I hate the projects.

True, it has it’s place. Its place is for people who can’t afford a place of their own, who are physically incapable of taking care of themselves, whose only income is a couple hundred dollars in child support or a disability check, or the retired ones who know they have no where else safe to go….

The projects are great for that. But for the free-spirited soul, who loves to go where she wants to go and do what she wants to do — hell no!

Do you know that they can force you to rearrange your house if they don’t like how you fix it?

And these morons think they are better than me with their multiple car payments and mortgage that will outlast how long they will be alive – they think I’m stupid for wanting the freedom of my own place.

Fuck them.

Fuck them all.

The Small House Book Has Arrived!

Finally, the day I have been waiting for:  Jay Shafer’s Small House Book  arrived in my mailbox!

I must say, Jay likes his books as small and high-quality as he does his houses!  In the book he gives basic building plans plus a treatise on small house living.  I will describe more when I finish the book.

As I was reading the book. a friend stopped by with a visitor from Hawaii, and she talked about how reasonably priced the Amish are for constructing in this area.  I became amused when she said she didn’t have running water when, after a couple of questions I realised she had a pump pumping her water from a cistern, that she classified “running water” as water from a public utility system!

Ahh, and here I thought I had met another person willing to sacrifice!  Truthfully, I doubt they would have understood the years my “running water” came from a creek, carried in buckets to care for household needs! used

Pleasure of a Job Well Done

The lawn is mowed, my neighbors have said hello, so now I can sit and relax a touch before my daughter arrives home from school.

It feels quite warm outside, but the thermostat says that it is only 66 degrees.  I am just glad I have one more chore out of the way for the day.  It feels so good to have something finished and not staring at you waiting to be done, sitting there like a silent accusation.

In my neighborhood two of my closest neighbors are single women, so I don’t feel so alone.  It’s like we all stick together, you know?