Stop storing. Start living.

Good morning, Dear Reader! The weather today is a bit dreary but I’m a writer. I like depressing days. Nonetheless, I’m settling into my new life and closing the chapter on several others. If you know anyone who wants to buy a spacious three bedroom two bathroom home that requires a bit of elbow grease, I know where you can find one a tad bit below market.

Me? I’ve either sold or given away all my shit and damn it feels good. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this kind of thing, but it is certainly one of the few times I’ve done it voluntarily. Years ago I was inspired by Adam Baker, who sold everything he owned to backpack with his family, but never really took it that far. Each year I re-watched the short documentary, I’m Fine, Thanks!  (And, if my new friend is reading this…I’m talking to you. If you were looking for confirmation to follow your dreams…you’ve come to the right place. Watch that film!) 

So. Grab a drink. Settle in. I’m feeling inspired and inspiring all at the same time.

In the documentary, one of the folks they interviewed says “I climbed the corporate ladder only to learn it was leaning against the wrong wall”, I felt that. I had changed careers in November last year and the opportunities for growth and earning were like none I’d ever experienced. But…I missed what I had done before. So, I left that position to return back to my old spot on my old team. It feels good when you finally realize you don’t need a lot to be happy, but when you aren’t happy you know it in your core. 

But, back to you and me and that drink. How did I decide what comes with me and what goes over to Goodwill? Here we go…

1) If I didn’t love it or use it regulary, it goes. At some point today I will relinquish some of my glass jars to my friend who has decided that she wants to “can things”. I know. This is a big move for me. Additionally, the cast iron skillet that I wrote about here, was returned back to its rightful owner – my ex-husband. I didn’t use it much the last few years and I’m not super crazy about the person who gifted it to me, so I figured, it can be his problem to solve, not mine.

2) I want a life of experiences, not stuff.  Does this item lend itself to that? Hiking boots, bicycles, camping gear. Five years ago I wouldn’t have been so keen on keeping these things. Now I am. But electronic devices? Unnecessary clothing? Ridiculous kitchen gadgets? Gone. 

3) I want to say “YES” more often. Imagine this if you will: Your home is organized and clean. Your social calendar is empty. It’s a beautiful day. Over coffee, your favorite person says “Get in the car. We are going to (insert whatever cool thing you’ve been waiting to do here)” and you can. Because you’ve simplified things so much that you can say “Yes” without guilt.

4) I want to be creative. Recently I’ve taken up learning to read tarot. I’m not great at it, but I do okay. Also, I’m working toward that bucket list item: Grow something I can eat. And finally…well…there’s my writing. Opening up some space allows me the opportunity to be more creative. Creativity comes in all sort of ways from quilting to canning food to writing to building the business of your dreams. Maybe you like whiskey and coming up with good drinks or trying out new brands is a thing for you now. My point: With less to tie you down, you can do the things you love to do.

So, if you’ve been looking at Winnebago’s online now just might be the time to sell your crap and live your life. I walk around my new space and it’s so…calm. Just the right amount of ‘stuff’ that I don’t feel homeless but not enough to consume a weekend cleaning and organizing. I’ve even thrown stuff in a Goodwill box as I’ve unpacked. Bird By Bird is how you and I can choose to move down this path of simplicity.

And so, for today, the sign goes in the yard and, hopefully, the house will be under contract by the end of the week. Fingers crossed. Send good vibes. Until then, here’s your song. It’s a bit older and was featured in 50 Shades of Grey so there’s that. I mean…not that I watched 50 Shades of Grey or anything.

SIlly. Of course, I watched it. What were you thinking? 

PS…If you liked this post, feel free to share it on all those social things. Please and thank you!

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A Poorly Managed F*ck Budget

Good evening, Dear Reader. The quintessential Missouri summer has arrived, and my disdain for soupy air is suitable. It’s been so muggy out that even my cat is, like, “Yeah, um, no” opting to stay inside instead of killing moles. And this isn’t even hot weather. Can’t wait for July. And yes, in case you were wondering. That was sarcasm.

As I mentioned last post, I wondered if this – this writing thing – was something I could continue doing knowing only a few folks were reading. I decided to put out a ‘fleece’. For those not familiar with a ‘fleece’ in this context – it’s essentially a test of the Universe. Mine was simple: If I get twelve visitors, I’ll stay. So…here we are. You and I. Whiskey lovers and foul-mouthed friends, indeed, right?

My nine-year-old keeps telling me that fame and fortune come from having a YouTube channel, and while fame and fortune isn’t the end goal, I’ve been pondering this. WordPress also has a plug-in that can turn any blog into a podcast, and we all know how I loves me sum good podcasts. Of course, this would require me to have some kind of theme, and at the moment, I feel as though I’ve done an excellent job this year honing in on three specific topics: Being smart with money, reducing clutter, and being a somewhat responsible minimalist.

Um. Or not.

Speaking of that…gosh. The sale of this house has led me to realize that I absolutely suck at keeping purchases at bay. I have taken so much crap to the DAV Thrift Store over the last week, and I’m not yet done. Again, I ask you, how many magic markers does a grown woman need? My child has fewer toys than I do. And the number of weird kitchen gadgets? God. Where did these come from? I finally gave up and rehomed my Instapot. And what’s with this bread maker that found its way into my space when I am not really eating bread anymore? Sigh. Goofy, really.

Honestly? When something is missing in your life – and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is – it can be easy to try to fill the void. So last week, after my third trip to the donation center, at the stoplight by my favorite grocery store and Pineapple Whip, I asked myself: What the hell has been going on with you, Girl? The answer?

Grab a drink. Settle in. You’re gonna wanna hear this.

With every box I delivered, I felt freer. But I also questioned those other emotions bubbling to the surface (hello, INTJ much?). I felt something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. But then, right after dropping off box number eight, it was there – like a redneck at a fried food stand at a carnival – halter top and all…

Shame.

Shame in all sorts of shapes and sizes. As I handed off some pretty good shit to the teenager doing community service, I realized every bit of that box represented a total failure in managing my fuck budget. (Not sure what a fuck budget is? Click here.) All. This. Money. Wasted. And not just money…the time I wasted at work to pay for it. And the energy I’ve expended to maintain it. I could have spent time, money, and energy on an experience with my child. Time, money, and energy could have been spent building my own home, writing my book, or becoming healthy. Time, money, and energy spent could have allowed me to move to the coast and buy a corner bar where I serve good wine and halfway decent whiskey with tapas to underdressed vacationers. (Yeah, I dream of this life.)

So why? Why did I waste all this time, money, and energy? What happened? I think it’s what happens to most of us, if we are honest with ourselves…

Sigh.

Because I could.

Let’s explore further, shall we?

  1. My income increased this year. But I hung onto the scarcity mentality. Most people, when their income increases, spend more and I was no exception. However, I had been living paycheck to paycheck for so long, that the scarcity mentality had crept into my headspace, and was living there rent-free. I was buying used items at thrift stores that I really didn’t love but thought I needed and hanging on to other things ‘just in case’. For the record, ‘just in case’ rarely happens.
  2. I gained the COVID-20. I wasn’t happy with my body, and when momma ain’t happy, she shops. There were other things, too. I was in a relationship that wasn’t healthy. I was in a job that was unhealthy. I lived in a home with a relative that brought all my triggers to the surface – again, unhealthy. It was a trifecta, I guess. So, I’ve changed my eating habits, I’m getting more rest, and moving my body in a way that works for me. I’m no longer tolerating unhealthy relationships in any form or shape, and I’m setting boundaries. I’m settling into work I enjoy, and I’m relocating. (Fortunately, my new fella doesn’t mind a thick gal, so that pressure is off. These changes are for me.)
  3. I wasn’t mindful. Mindfulness teaches us to be responsible for our feelings and intentions and to be present. I’ve volunteered a lot, worked on fixing the house, and spent many hours simply doomscrolling. I have not, however, been mindful. So, back to my roots. Back to some meditation and breath work. Back to making intentional decisions. Back to protecting my time, my energy, and my money. Essentially, back to managing the Fuck Budget.

So, what about you? Do you look around and see some misplaced emotions? Are you filling voids with people, items, or activities that are not good for your soul? What can you do to combat these things? For me, being intentional is…well…intentional. (I don’t know how else to explain that. Sometimes, as a writer, I’m amazed by how badly I can explain these things.)

For what it is worth, May is Mental Health Awareness Month so here’s your song for the weekend. Keep swimming, kids. Just keep going.

Also, if you are reading this, feel free to share out on all the socials. And, also also [sic]…my fiction writing is moving to another site. So, I will keep you in the loop. (Hint: Pseudonym).

All the best, Lovely Reader. I wish you peace. I wish you joy. I wish you…above all else…love. For love is the greatest of them all.

Reflections of a Blogger

Good morning, Dear Reader! It is a glorious day in the Ozarks. I think summer has arrived with its 80+ degrees and sultry air. I’ve got some kind of virus – a cold or something non-COVID-ish. I’m coughing more than I’m sleeping and feeling like I need a nap every passing second. And the grass is green…and tall. Mowing the grass in temps like this with some viral-like crud in my lungs is always a pleasure. And, in case you are wondering, yes. That was sarcasm.

I’ve been pondering my existence here on the interwebs. Wondering if the time I put in to share my extreme wit and ideas on living a more simple life is worth the effort. It makes me smile when someone I barely know says they like my work, but am I making a difference? I try not to let the WordPress stats govern my self-esteem. Some days it’s hard, though.

Making a difference is important to me. I recently accepted a new job – one with a pay cut – to return to my non-profit roots. Making an impact, feeling like I’m improving someone’s life…well…it’s something that brings me joy. I shouldn’t be surprised that I missed it. Many years ago, I was forced to take the whole Strengths Finder test, and “Significance” was way up there on the strengths list for me. Funny, isn’t it? Just when my reign as PTA president is ending, I go back into a job that supports making the world a better place.

My fella and I were having a conversation over coffee the other day. I said to him, “I think this may sound weird…but I’m okay living a mediocre life.” Not that I’m okay with just simply existing, but my dreams aren’t grand. They don’t include purchasing a beach-side condo and jet-setting around the world. No, my goals are more like finding ways each day to have interesting conversations with strangers and sharing a glass of wine on the patio with my peeps. The dreams I have include being able to wake up in the morning, kiss my son on his forehead, and enjoy a nap during my lunch break. Sure, I want to do some fun stuff. But more importantly, I seek freedom and peace more than anything in the world. I’ve hung my hat on that dream for a few years now.

Read this blog from one of my favorite humans: https://www.alifeinprogress.ca/want-mediocre-life/

I like my freedom. Freedom of expression, freedom of my free time, and freedom to be who I am. I’m 50 now and more than happy to keep my simple, humble life for the remainder of my working days and leave the “schmoozing” to others more capable and brown-nosed than I. I will continue to be me and be a quiet voice behind the keyboard. The anniversary of my brother’s passing always makes me wonder: If I had made better choices the day I got the call to get on a plane to come home – if I hadn’t been so selfish and full of myself – would I have been able to say “Goodbye”? They say in every death, there is a ‘gift.’ I hope the ‘gift’ I received was to learn to appreciate the little things, love those who love me and let go of those who aren’t good for my soul.

So. Drop me a “like”. Share on social media. Let me know below what you long for as the years close in on you. I’m happy to find topics to help you through life, but only if you want me to do so. I suppose I’m looking for the affirmation to continue. Let me know…

Oh. And, here’s your song.

Stop Yelling At People

Good morning, Dear Reader. I know it’s Friday, and you were expecting a juicy, saucy section of my novel for Flash Fiction Friday. Honestly? I don’t have the energy right now.

It feels yucky out there, doesn’t it? I love the rain, but this constant cold drizzle-then-thunderstorm has gotten old. Amiright? But in all fairness to the rain and Mother Nature…that’s not what feels icky.

It’s all that other stuff.

The assault on women’s rights, the mess in Ukraine, the employee shortage, and the lack of human decency are working together to undermine my joy. The thing that irritates me is that people seem to be more worried about the Will Smith/Chris Rock/Johnny Depp bullshit than what really matters.

I was at Walmart pickup last night, and it took nearly one hour and fifteen minutes for the delivery dude to show up at my car with my eleven items. I could have purchased twice that amount in half the time had I shopped on my own. Right? But this poor kid shows up at my window, almost in tears, explaining that the lightning had blown their system, the computers were down, people were angry, and he said to me “Please don’t yell at me.”

Why on Earth would anyone yell at a man-boy who had been schlepping groceries all day in the rain so that our sorry asses didn’t have to get out of the comfort of our cars to do a simple task like grocery shop? If you have ever yelled at someone for something entirely beyond their control (like a waitress at the mercy of the kitchen), then shame on you. Really. You need to control yourself.

I just said to him, “I’m not going to yell at you. I’m just grateful for the hour of peace and quiet I just got to enjoy my music and play my game on my phone. Thank you for what you do.” And I meant every word of it.

But, back to us and this yucky world. Are you feeling it, too? Have people lost their ever-lovin’ mind out there? I think so, and I think that’s why I’ve been more reclusive than ever before. Now, mind you, Mercury is about to go retrograde, and we feel that. If you aren’t…you will. She’s not very nice when she’s traveling backward in the Universe. Here are some tips on how to survive a Mercury Retrograde.

While you are skipping that link about Mercury, read on. I’ve got some tips on how you can combat the yuckiness out there to share with you today.

So, grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s roll.

1) Laugh more often. My fella sends me silly videos throughout the week, and while some of them are super ridiculous, every one of them makes me laugh. I watch a lot of FB reels and giggle my way through the day. My favorites seem to be the ones of Family Feud, and I do love some Dusty Slay. Laughing is beneficial to fighting the blues. (Here’s one he sent me. Coffee still comes out my nose every time.)

2) Get out in nature. Of course, it’s been pouring down rain here since, oh, I don’t know, forever…but I carve out a few minutes to go outside during a downpour pause and breathe in the cool air. Just three deep breaths (Inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of eight) can dramatically stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (which was just a fancy way of saying, “It will calm you down”.) Try it.

3) Do something nice for someone else. This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and since I’m the PTA president for twelve more days (who’s counting?), preparing and dropping off teacher gifts has been my lunch-hour gig. Not gonna lie…it’s been a slight pain in my ass…but the appreciation of the staff and teachers for the gifts we’ve given each day has made it all worthwhile. Yesterday I gathered up two of my favorite third-grade students and asked them to help me deliver gifts to classrooms. One was grumpy – it was recess, and he wanted to code some games (yes, this was my kid) – but the other one had a blast and asked if he could help again. Doing something nice for other people takes the focus off the blues and restores your faith in humanity.

4) Rest. I mean, truly rest. I’ve been hit with seasonal allergies, I’m in the middle of packing and preparing my home to sell, and we are wrapping up year-end school activities. It’s been…well…hard to rest. But I implore you to try. That means no multitasking and no guilt about sitting still. Rest is important. We all need it.

5) Eat better. Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “Am I being kind to my body when I eat this food?” Most of the time, the answer is no. I hate to play the ‘mom-card’ with you, but eating fruits and veggies is good for you. Do it more.

There are so many other things you can do to be kind to yourself and others. I could write pages of this stuff, but these are my favorite. What thoughts do you have about this, and what do you do to combat the blues?

As always, here’s a song. I love this guy. He’s local, and he’s a cutie. I’m, sadly, a groupie. My friends and I love to go watch him. I’m a sucker for a musician, not gonna lie, but this one is actually good.