The Art of Stepping Back From Your Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Step Back From Your Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Together we can accomplish anything.


Reviewing the Past

Every day I make it a point to restore at least one of the older posts that I had to delete several years ago.

The post I restored today had to deal with relationships. I really wanted a relationship back then.

It’s amazing to see how much I’ve changed in just a decade.

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I restored that old post. Just this morning I was brainstorming responses to keep the males at bay. I no longer want a relationship; I definitely have no desire to be pursued by the current crop of males that tend to target me. As I wrote earlier, I purchased a ring to discourage them from even trying.

What changed?

I did. I’ve went from just surviving, from trying to keep my expenses as low as they could go in order to get by and spend time with my daughter to actually having a major goal.

Instead of hoarding every penny to take time off from working, I’m now picking up extra shifts at work so I can combine the money with my book royalties to provide seed money for my investment business.

I want to prove that the American Dream isn’t dead, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

That is a huge mindset shift for me, especially when you notice that just those few short years ago I dreamed of meeting someone who would sweep me off of my feet.

I think I like that change.

How has your mindset changed in the past decade? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Valentine’s Day means that all of the lovely people around me will be focused on romance. As a cashier and a single mother, this means that the volume of questions will increase. My regulars have gotten so close to me that they feel completely comfortable asking questions that many would consider rude.

“Are you married?” No.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” No.

“Do you want one?” Meh.

I had one gentleman come through my line with his adult daughter the other day. When he started tickling my taste buds by describing the meal he was preparing to cook his daughter loudly announced “My dad needs a new girlfriend so he can cook for her. Do you know anyone?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheepish expression on the gentleman’s face. Either Daughter saw my lack of a wedding band or they were one of the many who have inquired about my relationship status over the months.

It has gotten to the point where I jokingly refer to some of my male customers as my harem. It’s hard not to think of them that way when so many like to sneak up and surprise me with friendly hugs! A shift does not go by where I don’t receive at least one.

I have been given phone numbers on everything imaginable. A few have included little declarations about just why I should call (and assuring me that they were serious).

While I never call the numbers, I keep every single one of those notes. When I stumble upon my little collection I smile.

The hardest part of being single is fielding one particular question: “Why?”

How do you tell someone that you’re content with your singleness when the whole world seems obsessed with romance? That you’ve not seriously looked for a relationship in years because you’re happy to go home to an empty house?

I usually just shrug and say “I don’t know.” It’s the truth, in a way. I honestly don’t know what to tell them.

While normally it doesn’t bug me, Valentine’s Day is the worst. Upon the day of romance I am usually looked upon by my beloved customers with well-meaning pity.

That’s okay. Their concern just tells me they care.

For now I need to get dressed, head to work, and deal with a stream of customers focused on love and relationships. My boss will doubtless have something silly for me to wear (she’s discovered that I’m the only one aside from her willing to dress up on holidays) while my customers invariably try to hook me up.

Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to it.

How do you handle being single in a coupled world? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Minimizing Relationship Stress

It’s painful to watch friends self-destruct, to watch them slide down the slippery slope of insanity. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You’re unable to turn away. You reach out your hand, only to have it slapped away time and again. Either they realize they are slipping and don’t care, or they’re enjoying the ride. Regardless, you try to help.

Eventually you realize that this person is causing you misery. You dread your encounters. Instead of offering them another hand up, give them your foot–to shove them out the door of your life.

There is no shame in this. It is not beneficial to keep people in your life simply because they are friends or family when all they do is give you pain. Loyalty is stupid when the person in question bites the hands that feed them.

Minimalism is about so much more than stuff. It is about curating all aspects of your life to bring peace and tranquility. While you cannot eliminate all of life’s storms, you can reduce the day-to-day strain on your emotions.

Today I urge you to look at your relationships. Determine that one person you would be better off without.

Then let them go.

Relationship Epiphany

It has just occurred to me that perhaps I am resisting the happy relationship I could be having.

I talk about being lonely, and make plans for spending the rest of my life alone, yet part of me wonders if I really want to be alone.

I want happiness.  I am going to stop and ask for a lead for happiness….

If that happiness is to come from being in a relationship, then the perfect relationship will materialize.

If that happiness is to result from being single then I will have a sign given to me concerning the issue.

Regardless, I need to stop making plans to be alone, for I may be attracting loneliness into my life…

If you ever get the opportunity, read the books by Florence Scovel Shinn.  She has three wonderful books on the Law of Attraction.  You can read them here.

I’m going back to my book.  Florence is speaking clearly to me tonight.


The perfect person

I have put in the hands of Attraction that I would like to meet the person who is the one for me. Within days my ex-boyfriend came back in my life, and has been coming over quite regularly. This was quite surprising.

While I do not know if he is the one that is meant for me, I do know that if he is not he will fade away and I will not feel loss from the absence. That is good, regardless of the ending.

While I watch this surprising development, I have decided to work on being more minimalistic, in order to promote more peace and tranquility in my life. The happier and more peaceful my home life is, the more I can work toward attracting more peace and tranquility.

As such, the kitchen is on its way, and I am thinning out the living room once again. Some would say that I don’t have enough stuff, but I still feel that I have too much, for it is a burden to clean and arrange, much less move should I decide to relocate again.

Also, if I’m to attract the perfect person in my life, I have to make room for him, don’t I?

Gold in the Stream

We have to sift through a lot of sand to find the gold within the stream. Sometimes we think we find it, only to analyze and discover it is not the real thing.

What do we do at that point? Do we accept what is in our possession, or do we keep searching for the real thing? Do we settle for less than we know we desire and deserve?

Several times in my life I have thought I struck gold. The test of time proved them all to be false. Crying many tears, I thought I could accept the hand I had been dealt, but in the end I have always folded, moving on to the next game, the next pail of sand.

I know in my heart that I deserve gold – not pyrite. I deserve to be treated with love and respect – not bullied or abused or placed on a shelf until convenient. I just have to keep sifting the sands of life and one day I will find my piece of gold.

It is lonely standing there sifting the sands in the stream. Sometimes I tell myself I should just accept the pyrite and move on, or chalk up the whole experience as a loss and finish my life alone, but I will not give up. I will not surrender. I know that somewhere there is a piece of gold waiting in that stream for me.

I just have to keep sifting….

Cheap Therapy

Okay, it is time to make this blog pay for itself in the form of cheap therapy.

Seems here lately every single female friend I have is having relationship troubles, and it reminds me of a person I used to be close to.

Years ago, we used to be best friends. He would come over and visit every chance he got, helping with the kids and stuff. He was so sweet back in those days…

When the kids would go to bed we would sit and chat for hours! I so adored his company and the refreshing way he looked at things. Even though we were just friends he made me feel special, you know?

Eventually time wore on and we would spend hours on the phone together while he drove (he was a truck driver). One night he asked about us maybe becoming a couple, with possible marriage in mind at an unknown time in the future. It was so sweet how he brought it up I wanted to cry. To this day it is one of my most cherished memories.

Then came the request for us to move closer so that he could be around more. Considering I lived several hours away, it was a reasonable request.

At first all was well after the move. He was wonderful in the beginning, and even surprised me with a cell phone as a gift. I was flattered and touched.

Slowly, things began to change. When we would all go places together it seemed I could do nothing right. I would wear heels and dress attractively to please him, but it only seemed to annoy him. He would complain that I walked too slow, “with my head up my butt” or “my nose to the ground.” His comments cut me to the quick, and eventually I began to avoid going places with him.

Then one day I began to feel that the cellphone wasn’t a gift – it was an invisible chain. If I did not answer when he called he would ring it over and over, and get upset because I wouldn’t answer. Wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I had better answer that phone.

I really began to dislike that stupid cell phone.

I was dependent upon the safety it represented, however. He would get mad and punish me by taking gifts back – including the cell phone, leaving me afraid to go anywhere in my older car for fear of breakdowns.

As I rebelled from the tightening noose and shied away from the verbal cuts, we started growing apart. Whenever he offered me a gift I learned to either refuse, or pay him for it somehow. I told him it was an honor thing, but honestly it was because I resented getting comfortable with something then having it jerked away whenever the mood struck him. I purchased my own cell phone, keeping it in reserve at first for whenever he demanded his phone back. Eventually I began using it full time and returned his phone to him.

Anyhow, we grew apart. He stopped visiting as much, while he was telling others that we were closer than ever.

Then he told his employer that we were married, and used me as an excuse to get extra time off of work. By then we only saw each other maybe once every few months for a couple hours. That hurt, but it’s all good.

He would make promises to spend time with us, then stand us up cause “something came up.” I learned that if he wouldn’t answer his phone the night before he was not coming the next day. Whenever he was around, especially in public, he felt he should be in charge, which I resented.

I feel now that I started the rift between us a long time ago, but I tried to discuss the lack of closeness in our relationship, and a need to spend more time together. I was rebuffed more than once. So I quit.

When I became so lonely that I was starting to look outside of the relationship for friendship, I broke up with him. I didn’t want to disrespect what we used to have by cheating on him.

Now we rarely talk, and while he has called me for help getting to a couple of appointments, we don’t visit anymore.

I miss what we used to have, miss the person he was in the beginnning, and still mourn that all of these years later.

I have to remind myself that people change, and I don’t miss the cutting words he liked to use when he was annoyed. I don’t miss listening to him scream and rave at other drivers on the road. I don’t miss how he enjoyed punishing me by taking away things that he called “gifts” whenever I did something he disliked. I don’t miss how he would look at me and tell me to do something and the fear I would feel inside.

I am proud of how I would face that fear by brazenly doing whatever it was he wanted me to stop, and for telling him he was out of line a couple of times.

Perhaps it was my resistance to his authority that placed the last few nails in the coffin of our relationship. I don’t know.

I miss what we used to have, back in the beginning. I miss his refreshing attitude, his open way of living his life regardless of approval. I miss the live and let-live attitude he had at the beginning. I don’t miss the person he became. I don’t miss that at all.

He blames our breakup on me, and perhaps he is right. But it’s all good. Some things were never meant to be. People change, and we just changed in opposite directions.