The Art of Evolution

When the economy tanked in 2009, I found myself laid off with bills to pay and a child to support.

Instead of becoming bitter at the fact that the world was changing, I evolved instead.

I threw all of my energy into a free blog I’d created to toy with, mastered the fledgling online-publishing field, then I wrote and published my very first book.

When it became obvious that I wouldn’t be able to afford to continue living in the house I rented, instead of fighting the inevitable I evolved again. I cast about for cheaper housing, traded for an older mobile home, and settled into a life where I would continue to evolve for some time.

I realized that, by helping others help themselves, that I could help myself achieve my goal of being a stay-at-home single mother. To better facilitate the process, I shifted my spending patterns, cutting my expenses down to a level I’d not anticipated.

I didn’t do it all at once; the evolution from Average American to Minimalist Frugalista was a slow process. I evolved by making one small, single change, allowing myself to grow comfortable with that change, then moving on to the next item of transformation.

By evolving, I turned a situation that was considered disastrous by many into an opportunity to achieve a dream. I thrived where many struggled simply because I adapted to the situation.

We are now facing a similar era of change. Covid has upended our daily lives. People are dropping dead around us. Employers are severely understaffed, and childcare is not only dangerous, it’s prohibitively expensive if you have access to it.

If you attempt to maintain your status quo, the chances are high that it won’t work out so well. But if you allow yourself to roll with the changes, to evolve, then you can come out on top of the situation.


How can you evolve to better prepare for the future? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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

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

Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

You Can’t Change Your Past

Every so often I encounter someone who shares with me their belief that they cannot be successful.

“I’d love to [insert dream here] but I can’t. My parents were abusive/poor/absent so I’ve got too much of a disadvantage.”

If it’s not some variation of that excuse, they claim that they got married or had kids too soon. Sometimes they’ve even spent time in jail or in mental health/rehab centers.

Many times they tell me that they’re too old to even try.

But you know what?

You can’t change your past but you can refuse to let it limit your future.

I was raised by alcoholics.

I helped my father in his bootlegging crimes.

I turned to alcohol after my father died and didn’t sober up until I discovered I was pregnant.

I had to carry two young children on a three mile journey to the grocery store whenever we needed food because my husband refused to help.

I was committed by that same husband after I made an escape attempt. He told them (among other things) that I’d attempted to kill one of my kids. I was so depressed after that I tried to kill myself.

But you know what? That’s the past.

I can’t change it.

Instead, I placed it behind me the best that I could and moved forward.

I escaped my marriage.

I built my writing business.

I became a stay-at-home single mother in order to raise my youngest child.

I now work to help others learn how to help themselves as I focus on the next step of my journey towards self-improvement.

Excuses are Easy

It would have been easy to throw up my hands and say “I can’t.”

It would have been easy to give in, spread my legs, and find a “good man” to take care of me. Heaven knows that enough of them have knocked on my door and hit on me over the years to establish that.

I could have said that due to the way I was raised that I didn’t have a chance; that I wasn’t raised to amount to anything.

I could have said that I was too scarred from my marriage to even get a job. My husband had me certified insane, after all.

I could have even said that I had my kids too soon and so all of my opportunities had passed.

Hell, I could say that I’m too old to go back to school now. I’m almost 50 so what’s the point?

Fighting is Hard

Every time you make a step forward, you win.

Every time you say “yes, this happened, but so what?” you win.

Every time you ignore the haters you win as well.

And every single time you prove the world wrong you really win.

Is it easy?


But winning is worth the effort.

What part of your past do you want to move beyond? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Necessity of Facing Reality

Now that I’ve had time to breathe, it is time to face my current reality. I need to know what I’m facing in order to move forward.

Facing our current reality is a necessity. Burying your head in the sand won’t help one bit. You must know exactly where you stand, regardless of how shaky the ground so that you know what you are dealing with. That is the first step in overcoming any challenge you may face.

I’ve sorted my reality into a list of advantages and challenges. I’m leading with advantages first since good news always helps to soften the blow of the bad.


  • I currently have a public job that brings in a bit less than $600 these days due to a cut in hours. Worst case scenario, I can live on that year-round once Katie moves out, though it will be rather tight during the winter months due to increased utility expenses.
  • I have my writing business, which is my passion. It brings in anywhere from $50-$120 a month, depending upon sales and runs a couple of months behind of my actual earnings. For instance, the royalties I receive in November will be from sales in September.
  • I have a checking account with roughly $1,000 in it; $500 is my pillow, and the rest covers my bills for the upcoming month.
  • I have over $1,700 invested in the stock market at the time of writing. My investments aren’t currently valued at that due to the slide in stock values, but it still brings in a bit of money each quarter.
  • I have a small investment in silver that can be sold if needed.
  • I have marketable skills in computer repair and sewing that can be utilized to earn extra money if needed.
  • I have no debt that I need to worry about paying off.
  • I have the amazing ability to live on very little money when necessary.


  • I am facing the emotional upheaval of my daughter moving away. This may affect my reasoning if I’m not careful.
  • My expenses will double when the kid moves out. More than double from my current budget, since expenses are much higher here in the winter.
  • I have no idea what to do with my life as I move forward.
  • I possess neither vehicle nor drivers license, so employment options are limited if I need to seriously increase my income.
  • My cash padding is reduced due to my stock market investments, so I am running a bit leaner than I like as I head into the coldest months of winter. That makes me nervous.
  • I’ve realized that I have an unhealthy relationship with money and things that I need to deal with. I tend to focus on money (since my spending is under my control) when other facets of my life seem out of control.
  • I have realized that dental issues have been causing the exhaustion I’ve experienced this past year. If I don’t attend to this issue the infection could kill me in time. Since I have no intentions of leaving this world for some time to come, this is something urgent that I need to address.
  • I have very little saved up for retirement.


Overall, looking over this list I’m not doing too bad. It seems scary but the challenges are far from insurmountable. I’ve faced much worse in the past. History indicates that I will sail through this winter just fine. It might be tight, but it is workable. To be safe I won’t invest any more money into the stock market unless I know that I can definitely spare the funds. I will hold on to that money just in case I need it to pay bills this winter.

In the meantime, I need to keep a close eye on my spending. I need to reduce the amount I spend to adjust to the fact that I will have less free money in the future. It isn’t a pleasant reality to face but I have to deal with it. Fortunately, I have a few avenues available to make extra spending money if needed. I can take in sewing work by doing repairs and alterations. I can repair computers. I can even work on MTurk in my spare time.

I am already taking steps to correct my dental issues. As a result, I’m already noticing an increase in my energy levels. All I have to do is continue my current action plan and this issue will be eliminated. I will have to save up for a pair of dentures but I’ll figure that out as I go along.

I’ve realized that I do have an unhealthy relationship with money; understanding that you have a problem is half the battle won. I’ve altered my focus a bit to compensate. That said, that unhealthy focus will actually benefit me in the upcoming months since I may have to get creative to stretch my limited funds. I’ve got lots of experience with saving money as a result of my previous obsession with keeping expenses low.

I’ve formed a basic game plan to help deal with the emotional fallout of Katie leaving. I invested in a nice journal to provide a safe, pleasurable place to work through my emotions. I’ve altered my focus to the person I want to become instead of making financial goals at the present time. Once Katie moves out I’ll keep busy by sorting and rearranging my home to accommodate. I’ll be able to sleep in the bedroom and I’ll have more room overall once she’s gone. That is an advantage I want to keep my attention on. I will handle things better if I have something to look forward to.

I’ve got a nice stack of books in my “read” pile. These will keep me occupied and provide ideas and inspiration for the cost of free since I already own them. This will not only be cheap entertainment, it is educational as well.

I will eventually need to work out a definite goal but that is not an urgent need. I’ve waited twenty years to begin saving for retirement; a few months is not going to change things much. In fact, it might even benefit me. I may come up with ways to increase my income that don’t rely on working full-time.

Hmm. Thinking about it, that is actually a reasonable and safe goal to shoot for. Take this time to regroup, research, and brainstorm in order to increase my online income to the point where I can not only invest in my future but to supplement the income from my part-time job. I do like my job so I would like to remain working there; if I can arrange things to do so, while improving my standard of living, I would be much happier than I would be if I had to trade 40 or more hours of my life each week to earning a paycheck.

That is definitely something to keep in mind moving forward. I would like to work less, not more.

do want to improve my standard of living. I’ve thought about it, and I would like to invest in certain items like a small washer and dryer at some point in the future. I would also like to invest in a few items purely for decorative purposes over time. I’ve realized that I enjoy a bit of bling in my life so it is time I embraced that aspect of my personality. Minimalism be damned; I’ve settled into this home, I’ve no plans to move in the immediate future, so I see no point in deprivation so long as I can afford the occasional treat.

In Summary

By facing the reality of my current situation, I’ve realized that things aren’t as bad as they first appeared. I know where I currently stand. I know what I’m facing in the immediate future. I’ve got a workable plan for the short-term and a hazy long-term goal. It’s a start, which is all I need.

Have you ever sat down and thoughtfully analyzed your situation and the challenges you are facing? Please share your stories in the comments below.

When the Unspeakable Happens

We all have our demons. For the most part I keep mine stuffed in a box that I have hidden in the back of my mind. They like to escape sometimes, as they did recently when I made the mistake of watching Ford testify during the Kavanaugh thing.

Those demons caused me to go on a crying jag and write an incredibly long, painful post that I deleted once I returned to sanity. Some things are best left buried.

This doesn’t change the fact that sometimes Life allows the unspeakable to happen. How we deal with the unspeakable is what defines us. Do we cry over the injustice and allow it to control us or do we take a deep breath, accept what is, and use the incident to grow stronger as we move on?

How do you deal with the unspeakable in your life? Please share your stories in the comments below.

The Power of Priorities

We don’t think much about priorities. We’re usually too busy putting out fires in our day-to-day existence that we shove them aside.

This is a serious mistake. When we don’t set priorities, we set ourselves up for failure.

My personal goal is to achieve complete financial freedom. In order to achieve that goal I set a series of smaller goals like researching various avenues of passive income and targeting them one at a time. I’ve been working on them but I forgot about something that is very important:

It won’t do me a bit of good to become financially free if I’m not around to enjoy it.

I focused my time and energies on studying and working instead. I created a plan to develop a second source of passive income (my first source is my book royalties) through investing in the stock market. I spent every moment I could spare working towards this goal.

When my energy began to wane I rationalized that I was pushing myself too hard. I just needed to slow down a bit in order to recharge. That didn’t work. Despite taking extra time to rest I was growing more and more exhausted, to the point that it was a chore just to make it through my shifts at my public job.

I assumed it was because I’m getting older and kept slogging forward.

That was when my tooth shattered. Within days the remnants of that tooth turned black and began to hurt. The pain began to keep me up at night so I used the time to continue my studies. Might as well do something productive, I reasoned. When the pain became too much to bear I finally worked up my courage and went to the dentist.

He promptly pulled five of my teeth.

Within days my energy level began to increase. It wasn’t up to normal levels but it was enough to get my attention. I was sabotaging my own success because I didn’t set my personal health as a priority.

It is time to correct that. By the time you read this I will be back in the dentist’s chair getting the stitches removed and having a serious discussion about correcting the issue. If I am going to achieve financial freedom in my lifetime I need to have the energy to do what needs to be done–and the health to enjoy it in the end.

It won’t be fun to go through my day looking like an Internet Meme while I sort this and save for a pair of dentures. To be honest, that’s one of the main reasons I’ve allowed myself to procrastinate for so long. It won’t be fun acknowledging my physical limitations even as I take steps to deal with it. It definitely will be frustrating to slow down, if not temporarily stop the physical pursuit of financial freedom during the process but that’s just how things go.

I know that I will be much better off in the end. I’ll have more energy and focus once the process is complete. Hopefully that will allow me to make up for the lost time.

There is a lesson in this for everyone. You must take care of yourself first. That means not only getting proper rest, but taking care of health issues before they become a major problem. It also means giving your goals precedence in your life. You’ll never achieve financial freedom if you spend your time watching television or playing video games, or run a marathon if you spend most of your time sitting on the couch.

You have to take definitive action and set priorities.

Do you have any priorities that you’ve shoved aside? Please share your stories in the comments below.



A Word on Coping

There was a study done about drug addiction a few years back. Scientists took two rats. One was placed in a basic cage with no mental stimulation, while the other was placed in “rat heaven,” a cage filled with mazes and other things that the rat could use to keep occupied. Each rat had two water bottles. One bottle contained plain water while the other bottle contained water laced with a common street drug.

Both rats sampled the two water bottles but the scientists noticed a distinct difference between the two. While the rat that was in the basic cage used the drug-laced water bottle semi-constantly, the other rat, the one that had other things to occupy it, preferred the bottle that contained plain water.

This difference helped the scientists to conclude that one of the reasons that drug addiction is so prevalent is because people either don’t have enough to keep them occupied or they lack hope for a better life.

When life is a constant struggle, when we see people on television or in certain neighborhoods, or even in our own extended families who have so much more than we do, it is easy to get frustrated and give up. Instead of fighting to improve our lives we focus on methods of escape, be they drugs, alcohol, or fantasies. We get to the point of “well, my life isn’t going to get any better so why bother? This helps me cope so I’m going to use it.”

After a while we become so attached to our coping mechanisms that we fail to even try to improve our lives any more. Once that happens we have a reason to use our escape mechanism even more in a vicious cycle that never really ends.

I’ve dealt with this vicious cycle many times in my life. As a child, I didn’t think that I would ever manage to escape the drama of my alcoholic parents where in reality all I had to do was wait until I was a legal adult and move out. As an adult trapped in an abusive marriage, I became addicted to fantasy since my reality was so miserable that there were times when I didn’t work to escape my marriage and pursue a better life.

And now, in this current challenge, there are times I want to sit on my butt, whine, cry, and say that “I can’t” continue to fight this damn disease in my head and continue to function as a normal adult. I want to escape into a fantasyland where I am hale and hearty. I want to forget the fact that I can’t do everything I want to do.

But you know what? I’m not going to allow myself to do any of that. I know from experience, from watching my parents before me, that if I allow myself to start down that path that I won’t have a chance in hell of beating this. Even worse, I will have to give up the hope that some way, somehow, my struggles will inspire others to keep fighting.

It doesn’t matter what you are facing. It could be something physical like an illness or an injury. It could be financial like a job loss. It could be something personal like an abusive relationship, a divorce, or your kids growing up and leaving the nest. Whatever it is, if you lose hope, if you allow yourself to give up, if you choose to try to escape your current reality and instead pursue something that makes you feel better, you won’t ever be able to overcome whatever it is that you need to overcome.

In other words, no matter what your current challenge may be, you need to get off your ass and do something about it. If you need to earn money, figure out a way to earn money. If you suffer from a disability, figure out workarounds for that disability. If you are in an abusive relationship, figure out how to get away or end the abuse somehow. Do not allow your challenges to define you. Rise above them and keep fighting until you kick them to the curb.

You can do this. It won’t be easy. Some days you might want to hide beneath the covers and cry. You might try and fail, then try and fail again, but as long as you are trying you are making progress, if only figuring out the things that won’t work. It took Edison hundreds of tries to figure out how to design the light bulb. When asked about his numerous failures he said that he hadn’t failed, he had just figured out XXX amount of ways that wouldn’t work.

We need to apply that to our own lives.

So no matter how many times you have tried and failed, remember that if you keep trying a solution will eventually appear. Keep that hope in your sights and never allow yourself to forget what you are fighting for. Remember, every sacrifice you make in order to achieve your goals is for a reason.

And never, ever give up.

What keeps you going? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Fighting the Good Fight

Life, no matter how you arrange it, is far from perfect. We all have things that we need to deal with. In my personal journey, I am dealing with a brain disease as a result of an injury I suffered some time ago.

I have a choice: I can sit on my ass, whining and crying, or I can plow forward and keep fighting. On the days that I glitch, when I transpose numbers at work , my hand refuses to work, I stumble over thin air, or the words that come out of my mouth sound like gibberish and the pain makes it hard to think it is easy to sit down and give up. I am terrified that my boss will figure out that something is wrong with me and fire me as a result.

But you know what I do? I keep trying. Every day I use the tricks that I’ve invented to keep moving forward. I get friends and family help me to remember things. I use notes and Outlook to keep track of stuff I’ve done and stuff I need to do. When my hand doesn’t work right, I switch to doing things one-handed until the glitch irons out. When my words turn into gibberish I play it off as I’m just dingy.

And when I hurt, I take whatever is available to dull the worst of the pain and I keep moving forward.

It would be so easy to give up and to say that “I can’t.” But you know what? Can’t never could do anything. Can’t never managed to get a damn thing accomplished. The only true failure is to stop trying and it will be a cold day in hell before I do that. I am going to fight, and keep fighting until I either beat this shit or I am dead in my grave.

And I want you to learn from that.

I want you to understand that, no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad things get, that the only way out of them is to keep fighting. You may make a lot of mistakes. You may hit a lot of brick walls, but if you allow these things to defeat you then you will never be able to achieve your dreams.

So please, whatever you do, keep fighting. Don’t let the darkness win.

What challenges are you facing that make you want to give up? Please share your stories in the comments below.