A Few Words of Encouragement

(First,Happy Halloween Everyone!Today is our final move into our new homeWe are exhausted but so very excited to begin our new journey!)

One of the most amazing things to me is how my life has changed over the past year.For one thing, last November when I first decided I wanted and needed to quit drinking, I set out to mainly regain a sense of structure and stability. My MAIN goal was to eliminate toxicity( of all kinds) from my life. I wasn’t even sure exactly what the ‘end goal ‘ was or how to go about it. It took many steps and some deep self-analysis to understand exactly what I wanted and some of the processes that were ahead of me. January 18th, 2019 I decided to stop messing around and have been 100% successful in my recovery. Now , rather than spending 2 nights a week either drunk or dealing with a hangover, I am now spending that time and much of my other time actively engaged in the pursuit of goals that had seemed impossible for a very long time

Many other smaller goals  along the way have been accomplished and I am fairly proud of myself . But in July of this year  I knew, in spite of my hesitations, that one of the key pieces to my continued success was to quit the chaos, craziness & life sucking toxicity of social media.

Similar to most recoveries, I looked forward to 30, 60 and now 90 days. Within each of those time frames, while those goals evolved the most important thing has been an increase in focus on reality, clarity and vision. In that way, i have come to the following conclusions:

  1. I no longer want to participate in the community in the ways that I had been attempting in the past 8 years. Not even in the ways I have endeavored to do in the last 3 or even 1 year prior to July. I have set new, more realistic and peaceful goals that are more in keeping with the life I have imagined for myself. The chaos will no longer reign and my efforts will be more decisive and productive.

2. My personal goals have changed as well, including keeping my life more private in order to experience a more balanced and healthy day-to-day. 

3. I have added some material/financial ambitions, some health related goals, family related intentions and some decisions pertaining to future relationships.

I expect to have some bumps along the way and even a few setbacks. But I am more confident than ever that the goals I aspire to can and will be achieved over time. 

I will never regret the positive choices I have made this past year and i hope to inspire others to also work toward  living their best life and achieving their goals. Remember -Life is a journey- Enjoy the Ride!

Namaste

When You Wish Upon a Star

This photo was taken sometime in mid 2010. I was ecstatic that I finally found a live starfish on the beach that I had visited every summer for over 15 years. I had been looking without success for so long I had almost given up. I took it inside and put it in seawater for a bit to show it off to my family but it died after only a few hours. So, I placed it on the kitchen window sill to ‘dry out’ ( hoping I could preserve it.)

Alas, it was not to be….

Unbeknownst to me, certain starfish are very fragile and fall apart to a consistency of sand when dry unless preserved in a very particular way. I was pretty upset. Fortunately, the following year, I found one already dead on the beach ( after a hurricane) and was able to preserve it properly.

Sometimes this is how life goes. You may wish for something fervently only to find it wanting when you receive it. Or you may receive the wish and find you are not prepared for it. Or you may receive it and find out you really didn’t want it after all. People often use the phrase “be careful what you wish for” and I often add “even if wishing upon a star” ( then chuckle at my own inside joke).

It’s not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing to wish for something. It’s human nature to desire things we don’t have- whether they be materialistic, emotional, or situational. Many times, it gives us hope or something to look forward to. But if we are not clear and focused about what it is we truly wish for, just like my star fish, it can quickly crumble. Additionally, if we are not prepared or aware of certain aspects, we may find ourselves wishing we never wanted it in the first place. Much like a child who wishes for a pet , then loses interest or finds it’s needs too demanding, sometimes the object of our desire becomes an innocent victim of abuse and/or neglect. We need to carefully consider exactly what will be required of us to attain and maintain down the road.

As a homeowner once again, I recall the first time I held the responsibility of ownership. There were many times in the first year or two that I wished to be just a renter again. Taxes, repairs,  and responsibilities seemed daunting. There were electrical upgrades, a balcony that needed replaced, a muddy yard that was not compatible with my 3 dogs, and permits required to do EVERYTHING. Eventually, I got through it all, learned to enjoy the process, and reaped the rewards when I later sold it. I certainly learned a lot and was able to make decisions with more discernment when purchasing my next few homes.

If you are wishing for something in your life right now, please take some serious time to consider all of the consequences should you get your heart’s desire. Especially if it’s a person you believe you want in your life. Consider their shortcomings , their needs , and their  views and how that will fit in to your own life BEFORE you commit. Because failing to do so makes YOU partially responsible for resulting problems related to ‘turning a blind eye’.

When we are fully aware to the best of our knowledge regarding our wishes, we are more likely to endure any hardships or even surprises along the way. I am looking forward to my new home and the projects that i have planned, but I am also very aware of many possible unexpected issues. And with that, I will go forth in this adventure with courage, hope and excitement!

Peace!

It’s Official!!!!!!

I am now a proud Home Owner! Settlement was today and went very quick & smoothly…Finally, I can relax just a bit and let it sink in.

We started moving and will be all week with our longest day being Thursday. It will still be exhausting, as it always is when moving, but we are very happy and excited!

On another note: I deactivated again from Fb tonight, as promised, after the 24 hr. reactivation. I noted that out of 112 views and 55 visitors, I only received 2 likes and 4 comments( on this Blog).. again-amazing what you learn about Facebook when you experiment like I have been. I believe only 31 “friends” out of 1284 even liked the FB post itself and only about 7 commented. It truly puts things in perspective. You find out how totally unimportant you really are out there. And how much the world really cares( not!) about any status you may post…LMAO!

It was very weird to even be on FB for the 24 hours though. I didn’t even have the urge to scroll or look at anything else. It seems that the old patterns and addictions are well on their way to the trash bin as I progress with my new life and lifestyle. So far, everything has been very positive about the changes I’ve made with the exception being continued mild loneliness and some depression related to seeing that world for what it is. But honestly, I regret none of it and it is certainly proven to be a move well made.

For now, I will be unpacking, setting up home and  pressing forward to meet my goals.. I expect more challenges along the way but also more insight and determination. Thanks to those who have followed my journey and to any new followers! I am extremely grateful for you input and support. 

Namaste!!

90 days Facebook Free!

I reactivated tonight for 24 hours to since again share this Blog link in case anyone missed it in July and wishes to follow along. But i will be deactivating once again.

So now that I am at the half way point of this project, I felt it was a good time to re-evaluate , to go over some changes from my initial ideas and plans, and be honest about what has happened so far on my journey. Hopefully this will inspire some, and put others at ease, because even after 104  posts, 90 days in, and 52 years of life, I sure a s h*ll am not perfect and have not passed every challenge with flying colors. 

  1. I have been producing less art as a result of not having a place to “show it off”. In addition to the complete absurdity of self-validation via Fb ( i.e.- selfies, vanity posts, and attention seeking behavior)I have come to realize that I was also using Fb to validate myself by posting art. So, I was at faultin that area. There is something very sad about “needing” that type of validation to feel good about oneself. Additionally, a side effect of art taking a back seat at the moment due to the home buying process is that it has forced me to reevaluate my continued role in the community moving forward.
  2. At first I was somewhat upset when 99% of those I interacted with often did not “reach out “ to me when I deactivated. Only a handful have even glanced at this blog. But, I was also guilty of not reaching out. I have started messaging several people that I value and would like to remain friends with. Too often we egotistically blame others for things we do or don’t do ourselves. This was one of my shortcomings. At any rate, it’s pretty damn lonely out here at times.
  3. In the first week or so my goal was to get up and do other stuff before getting online, like take my bath. I have failed at that. I get up , have my coffee, and STILL go online first. Bad habits. But I have had to accept that it’s one habit I won’t be able to break completely. Part of this is because when buying a home, much of it requires online stuff done in a timely manner. So, I still check my messenger, my emails, my bank account and then look at a few other blogs that I follow. BUT- all of this still takes only a few minutes—way less of my time than aimless scrolling.
  4. I have been up & down in my healthy eating. At about 6 weeks in, I started slowly eating junk again( chocolate, some bread items, some potatoes here & there) . I chalk this up to going through some depression and loneliness from the withdrawal =compensation. In the past several weeks I have been steadily improving , making small changes each day – it’s part of the process , guys. No one is perfect. 
  5. I have been rethinking physical fitness in my life. I have rediscovered the joys of walking/hiking and have casual ambitions to train for a thru hike in the next two years. So, I may just trade in my gym membership for some hiking boots and continue to reconnect with nature and my inner-self  while getting physically healthier at the same time.
  6. I have gone through several “pink clouds” and false starts on various projects (it happens) -after which inevitably comes the part where you either stay committed, tweak the plan or abandon the idea altogether.
  7. I am learning the hard waythat many of my ideas, goals and new perspectives are mine & mine alone. I cannot expect anyone else to follow along or do what I do. Many of my initial plans continue to change and evolve during this time as I become more aware of myself and others around me. I no longer assume that everyone is “along for the ride” and that it is definitely a more “solo” adventure than I anticipated -both in the physical daily realm and internally. Therefore, I have adjusted some of my priorities. I have and will be letting things go, and moving forward as my discoveries and challenges dictate.
  8. I’ve learned that people get bored way more quickly and easily than I do with most things. There is precious little commitment out there. They begin a project or talk about it and ultimately abandon it. Often, they exchange it for the next , newest or more exciting idea then abandon that one too. Again, I believe that having too many opinions, choices and ways to opt outhas caused a plague of less discipline and stability. While it is always disappointing to watch, I have had to come to terms with it.
  9. My view on friendships has definitely changed. Although I will always be friendly and not anti-social, I have developed a more discerning stance and value my privacy more. Not everyoneis worthy of my time and energy( and I do not mean that in an egotistical way).
  10. I still roll my eyes when I see people with their nose in their phones. It’s judgmental, I know. And I promise to work on that. My journey is not their journey .
  11. I am happier with myself in ways that I did not expect. I no longer wake up and ask “what is wrong with me?” as I have done for years. Since I have taken the time to TRULY remove myself from the chaos and naivety of social media and work on “real Life”, lots of things have changed.  And I am more grateful than ever that I made this decision.
  12. Facebook is still Facebook and now has added a “Dating App”– As if i needed another reason to remove myself from the stupidity. It’s become the world’s largest “idiot convention” with an ever- increasing # of negatives over positives. The ONLY value I can still even consider is being able to see events going on at places( galleries) that have no other website. Blogging has been such a joy and so much better. I will soon be going back to edit and delete the less important posts and possibly adding photos for some as well. I may or may not continue the blog after 6 months ….or who knows, I could start writing a book! The sky is the limit!

 I’ll leave it at that for now because I still have 3 months to go. Lots of things can change in that time. As long as I am open , honest, and continue to apply myself daily I grow more confident. “Who I thought I Was” has been replaced by “Who I Really Am” and “Who do I aspire to be”. The peace I feel, the growth and the accomplishments  have been amazing. Thanks for reading!

Et tu, Brute?

Often times when we are feeling sorry for ourselves,  a quiet voice starts whispering little lies to us. Ones that tell us we are not really at fault for our woes, but, rather that someone else is. It starts very subtly- usually when we are alone-maybe while we are getting dressed one day, or taking a shower. Then, maybe when we get in the car and head down the road to work. Then, perhaps another time when we are in our bedroom trying to fall asleep. 

The whispers grow louder and more frequent, eventually invading not only our alone time but whilst around others. At first we keep them inside- considering, rationalizing and validating. We may begin to believe some of them. And after a while, we may even begin to express them to others. 

“I wouldn’t be in this position if _______ hadn’t done _____to me.”

“I haven’t had it easy because my parents split up when I was young.”

“The boss didn’t like me, that’s why I got fired.”

“My sister was always the favorite. I’ve always felt inadequate because of that”.

“I have a disability. I can’t get anywhere in life.”

And so on…..

I’ve posted about the “victim mentality” before. Most of us have heard all of the above before, or a similar version of it, from people who seem to blame everyone or just life itself for their problems. But what about someone who isn’t generally like that but experiences a betrayal? What about that feeling of “Et tu, Brute?”

Even stable, balanced and generally happy people have a person or two that we trust our hearts to, trust that they will always understand and validate our feelings as well, whether those feelings are justified or not. We may even call it ‘support’. It may be a friend, a spouse or family member. And when they do not agree, we feel unloved, spiteful, angry and sometimes even vengeful .It can cause us to isolate ourselves, dwell on our resentments, and worst of all, react very rashly. 

It happens. It’s awful. And can lead to some very bad life choices.  

So, what can you do to keep from spiraling down into a purposeless, paralyzing depression or reacting in an extreme manner? What if you are already there or have done so? How do you get back on track when it feels like there are no road signs or even tracks to get on again? I’ve been there, and it’s no picnic. And from real life experience I say the following:

1.Sometimes we just have to face the reality that our feelings cannot be validated 100% of the time. And that some feelings we bear are of our own creation. As much as we want that trusted friend to commiserate with us whenever we want or our lover to understand our deepest fears and cater to them, this is not always going to happen.

2. Once we accept this, we have to make a decision to continue allowing those feelings to obstruct our progress in life or decide to “deal” with them head on.

3.Once you make a decision, realize that dealing with them takes actual EFFORT. And no one but YOU can do the work. It’s uncomfortable, it’s humiliating, and it can take time.

4. You can forgive them. You can still love them. And you can set boundaries that cause no harm, but still keep you on track towards healing.

5.Here’s the good news. You can start today. That’s right. No matter what happened. EVEN IF the other person may have been wrong. EVEN IF they will never apologize or accept responsibility. But especially, EVEN IF you realize YOU were in the wrong. You can begin the process of emotional recovery without blaming anyone else or expecting them or someone else to fix it.

I hope someone can benefit from this list. It’s taken a lifetime of hurt for me to be able to pass along my best advice here. It’s what I’ve had to do many times and still have to do. But, the alternative is a life of misery and stagnation. And that is not something I recommend to anyone. Namaste!

Fall in Love, But only if You Want to…

As the ancient philosopher Atticus wrote, “I hope to arrive to my death late, in love, and a little drunk.”

I ran across this quote online recently. It resonated deeply with me, and I give pause to really take the feeling in as well as all that it implies.

Being a woman over 50 in the United States during this era, I have experienced many things women of previous generations did not- personal computers, the birth and explosion of the internet, the embrace of older women as “sexy”, the admission of woman in military combat, the legal marriages of same sex partners, epidurals instead of gas/anesthesia for childbirth, advances in birth control methods and the ever increasing choice of more women to remain single and childless .

We are Generation X, also called the “Latchkey” generation. We grew up in a world where there was less parental supervision or structure to our days. Media, and our environment in general became more focused on adults over children than at any other time in history. Many of us loved “hair bands” but we also experienced the advent of MTV, and the formation of Grunge, Hip Hop music and independent films. We saw sky-rocketing divorce rates, the beginning of the crack epidemic and the horrifying discovery of AIDS. We had junk bonds, pyramid schemes and the rise of “terrorist attacks”. And we are sandwiched between the two biggest population generations -Baby Boomers and Millennials.

For sure , all of that has affected both genders. But i believe women have been the most affected  in that their roles have completely changed compared to any previous generations. With more choices, comes more decisions, consequences and responsibilities.. as well as changing issues with self-esteem and femininity.

Compared with my grandmother ( a stay at home mom of 6) and my own mother ( worked outside the home but only in menial, minimum wage jobs ) , many of us are now not only able to choose to work as much as we want but are EXPECTED to( even in a marriage ). To compensate for that, the general consensus is that we are no longer expected to always fulfill the traditional role of the wife/mother either. It is perfectly acceptable for the man to stay at home and raise the kids, or for the middle income family to hire outside help ( nannies, housekeepers, party planners, etc.) I personally know many women who have NO idea how to cook, clean or plan a family get together. They seem to know more about the stock market & politics as well as current health trends and scientific discoveries.

And I know many wives who also choose to sleep in separate bedrooms, have multiple lovers of both sexes, have their own bank accounts, and vacation alone or with friends over family.

On the flip side, our kids (those of us who had them) are no longer expected to attend college, get a car at exactly 16 along with an after school job, or even move out! Some families are taking in parents, other family members along with housing their own children and grandchildren in order to save money , and help the other generations in today’s economy. More & more children are being homeschooled and there has been a consistent  shift back to the focus on children as opposed to adults. We watch our children and grandchildren use technology that astounds us, as well as the increasing ability for younger & younger ages to master it.

So, what does all of this mean to me? 

Upon reflection and in light of my own future, it means that I still have choices for a very long time to come. I am no longer practically “dead” at age 50, or destined to be sent to a nursing home as I age.It means that, God willing, my own children and grandchildren will not see me as the decrepit old lady who needs to be taken care of. It means that I can stay single or I can even get married at age 70 if I chose. I can buy my own home and go back to school .It means that I can still feel viable, sexy, relevant and important in the world. I can vacation alone or with friends instead of family when I want( no permission required).I can chose NOT to host holiday dinners, NOT to have a spotless home or even a home that is child proof. It means that I can enjoy and experience my bucket list without guilt. And I can sleep in, take time off, cook only for myself and be a damn artist, poet, or CEO .

Because of all of this, (and despite of all it all) even at my age and beyond–I get to choose.And that’s the biggest difference i see in comparison to my predecessors.

And recovery issues aside, I can still get a little drunk (when the end gets closer), have a lover, and live to a ripe old age without guilt , or feeling like I didn’t matter. 

It’s a good time to live, and be alive! Namaste!

To Do, or Not to DO….

So, yeah- I’m one of those idiots who watched “Wild” , got inspired and decided to make thru hiking something ( hopefully the AT ) a bucket list goal..

Yeah, I know- sounds ludicrous ,right? But consider that I have also been a competitive rock climber, gotten my auto mechanics license( as a female), white water Kayaked, trained as a Body builder, gone spelunking, parasailing, hot air ballooning and bungee jumped. I’ve been married & divorced 3 times, had 2 kids, lived on the streets, been through several physically abusive relationships, been alcoholic, and even gotten my motorcycle license ( though I never used it). And I could write a book on all the death defying stunts I’ve pulled in life and situations I’ve survived.I am what they call “small, but fierce”.

Would I be a good hiker? I have no idea. But, as they say, it’s about the journey and not the destination. As I sift through hundreds of documentaries, articles, blogs, books and other information as I casually plan a thru hike in about 2 years, I constantly doubt myself:

“What about my bunions, back pain and allergies?”

“How will I ever be able to afford it and/or quit my job?”

“I am so short, how will I overcome certain situations if I am alone?”

“What if I become paralyzed with fear at the worst possible moment?”

“Maybe I am too old, out of shape, and stupid to do this”

But, worst of all:

“What if I FAIL?”

I will say this– they say you cannot prepare for a thru hike. I’ve heard it over & over. But I have to disagree(sort of). I don’t mean the physical part( many senior citizens, young children, overweight persons and first timers out there) or the “itinerary”( which most state they throw out the 1stday)- I agree with all that well enough and understand it. But- I have to stand firm that looking at your proposed route ahead of time and gobbling up as much insight as you can before the actual start date is extremely helpful. I have learned so much in such a short time already- gear I never knew about or even dreamed of, potential injuries and illnesses, wildlife issues( bears, insects & snakes) and, especially, watching the emotional ups & downs of actual hikers on the trail in real time- I cannot even begin to describe how much this has changed my perspective over & over. As I watch the literal MISERY, pain, fear and hardships I take in the potential realities of the goal and constantly re-assess . I watch all three of the triple crown hike videos from many varied hikers. Usually , I’ll see something like Grizzlies, rattlesnakes, hip deep snow, and swarms of mosquitoes.. along with twisted ankles, giardia symptoms, and ledges along downhill slides that look like Olympic skiing spots and I start thinking “no way, this is stupid.. I could NEVER deal with that…”. Then I will allow it to settle in and I go back for another round of tales , trials and tribulations anyway. To me, this is a little mental prep- way before the actual trip.

The thing is, I have faced real life every single day for 52 plus years and I am still alive. I look back often and remember many truly scary and life threatening things I have survived. Things that I did NOT chose, things that I would never want to go through again, and things that NO ONE would want to experience. So, really…is planning a thru hike- potentially inspiring and soul altering, something many actually WANT to do and choose, and would do again if they could—a bad thing? I think not.

If I get in my car and drive on dangerous highways daily and live ,walk and play in a high crime area, & regularly go to places I don’t know at all( and alone at that)…why would I hesitate to drive to a trail head, hike for 6 months, and experience the natural wonders with a MUCH lower danger level than those things I do without batting an eyelash? Even with all the potential scariness or miserable-as-hell stories, I deal with much worse, much more often and don’t have a snowballs chance in Hades of getting the potential rewards. So, there’s my rational .

Worst case scenario, I train and get in shape…buy cool equipment , save money and then decide not to do it anyway…and that’s ok. Because I will still be healthier, have that cool stuff( which I can sell or use other times), have learned a ton just in researching the whole thing and extra money to use for something elseJ

I say, it’s a Win/Win!

P.s.- I believe I already have a fitting trail name, or will be given it shortly after beginning.. which I will own-“Flatulence”- hey- it is what it is…lmao!

Just a Hump Day Post

I realize it seems as if I jump all over the place on this blog. Please keep in mind the original intent- the discovery of a real life without social media. This means not only exploring the reasons WHY social media is not all it’s cracked up to be, but also including various recovery processes that have helped me regain a healthy, productive and more peaceful lifestyle. In that regard, I have numbered some of the main “steps” if you chose to follow them, but also various “project” style posts that are covered over several separate posts. Hopefully this doesn’t confuse or ( gasp!) bore you to tears. Please feel free to skip around as you like and remember that my ‘advice’ is not for everyone. Take what you need and leave the rest. But, please- leave some comments if you can- I need boosts as well! It’s lonely out here!

The easiest way to visit my blog is to save it under your favorites or bookmarks. That way, you can just look when you want, it won’t be in your face and it won’t clog up your email, etc.( I do post everyday so it can be a lot) Several have had issues with the subscribe or follow buttons not working. That is because you need a word press account to ‘follow’ and have to submit a valid email to ‘subscribe’. Please send me an email at nirvanadiva@gmail.comif you have questions or any other issues.

This post is just a quick update as my roomie and I are counting down to the final days until our “Big Move” into our new home. We are surrounded by boxes and I am taking care of all manner of last minute details and such. I hope the few who are following along have enjoyed my posts so far. And if there is a topic or question you want to suggest or have me cover I am open! So, until tomorrow.. Happy Hump Day & Hugs!

Step #5 Monetary Goals

(How I  established my credit, saved money, and rebuilt my life)

Warning:- This is a long read.

This post is for the desperate soul who says time & time again “I am no good at saving money” or “I have no money to save.”Neither of which is usually true, but rather just a habitual phrase used as an excuse for not doing so. I say that directly and without apology but with the following disclaimer only:

If you do not have a job, a place to live, or transportation- this post is not for you. Take care of those things first in whatever way you can. I am not able to offer advice or help for those issues. If , however you have those things and are reading this  , I hope the following is of some value.

First: A short background for the usual “nay sayers”: I have been both a single mother of two with no job skills and a person without a partner to help with finances( many times). I come from a very poor back ground ,and by that I mean a childhood in which we often went without heat, hot water, and/or electric for various time frames and/or lived with others because we were without means. Food was scarce and usually acquired from our own garden, hunters in the family, and government assistance ( my mother was also often single). There was NO family help available for education ,a graduation trip or even a class ring, much less a first car . I was emancipated at the age of 15 and worked my butt off to become the person I am today. I have had NO help from the usual sources or any generous hand-outs. I am in no way “privileged” unless you can write me a check right now making it so. Just saying.

Ok, moving on.

I started learning about money at an early age. I made stupid mistakes (as we all do) but unfortunately for me, those mistakes lead to serious life issues. I have worked at tax paying jobs since the age of 12, and in the naivety of my youth( up until my late 20’s)- I spent that money on fashionable clothes, purchasing specialty foods on a whim, taking  days off work for no real reason –often resulting in getting behind on real bills and having my utilities shut off, being unable to buy groceries, and many times stressing over how to afford even diapers & baby food. It took a few years of suffering and then having to file bankruptcy in the early 90’s ( after my 2ndchild was born) to realize the endless folly of my ways.

After filing , I knew my credit was shot for 10 years, but I began my recovery immediately. I was able to raise my score, buy a car and home , and acquire a reasonable credit card before the decade was up. Here’s how:

  1. I started an cash envelope system. I did this because using a bankcard , bouncing checks and paying fees for overdrafts , etc. was part of my problem. I closed ALL my accounts( for a while) and converted every pay check to cash weekly.. I had an envelope for and put cash in each for every bill / payment and used money orders to pay for anything I couldn’t just use cash for outright. Stuff like rent was divided into weekly amounts to be paid on time by the due date. This alone helped me to avoid ATM fees, the temptation to withdraw too much, or write checks and “hope” I could cover them.
  2. I attacked my credit score with a vengeance and used guerilla tactics to raise it. I was weekly at the credit bureau clearing up mistakes, making sure anything I paid off was removed promptly and making deals to pay debts off for half of what I owed  immediately in exchange for the debtors written promise to remove it from my credit report.
  3. During this time I learned to do extreme couponing. I didn’t have a newspaper or magazine subscription, I simply stopped at a local laundromat and went through their community free boxes. I asked friends, family & neighbors for their coupon sections if they weren’t using them. In addition, I went the extra mile and GOT THOSE MAIL IN REBATES…even the ones for just $1( as long as the postage was paid for or the rebate amount was worth paying the postage) .
  4. All of those rebates, along with loose change, ‘found money’ and random bits of income from yard sales or small side jobs went into and STAYED in a savings account.
  5. I started a daily record of expenditures, even down to a quarter used for a phone call( yes, I’m old-lol). I eliminated all stops at convenience stores, started getting most groceries at dollar stores, making all my own meals and coffee at home, packing lunches from home ( crock potting & freezing portions).
  6. I cut out cable, any unnecessary travel by car, called for reduced rates on EVERYTHING, and lived in 1 room efficiencies for periods at a time to save money, even though I had 2 children. I did not buy anything I didn’t need or use, did not eat out, and wore clothes only from the salvation army or what was given to me. I used this money alone for a loan costs on my first house in the late 90’s AND I bought that home ( from a friend) by using a contract which allowed paying rent for a year and that amount to go towards the down payment. Those types of arrangements are out there, just look around and ask.
  7. I applied for a credit card through Capital One where I sent them $300 and they sent me a secured card to start re-building my credit. I would spend $25 on something I needed( like gas) every month then pay it off on time. It took 2 years but eventually I was allotted unsecured credit , and it was increased as I went as long as I paid on time.
  8. Next, i purchased a reliable car( not a pretty one) through the buy here pay here program. The total cost of the car was $1500, which I paid off in 12 monthly payments totaling a little over $2000. Then, I went to a real dealership with my established credit and got a much newer car. Eventually, I was able to get a brand new one.
  9. All of this lead me to a point where I COULD start actually setting aside money for any unforeseen emergencies and begin upgrading because I  had my basic needs met.I fixed up my 1sthome and sold it at a profit, then I bought my 2ndhome in 2000.I went to school for my LPN , and got a job after. I incorporated the “Pay Yourself First” plan. I gave myself $30 only every week( allowance) for whatever I wanted ,then I put away $25 faithfully until I could afford $50 a week.I sold my 2ndhome for a profit then I bought my 3rdhome( this time with a husband) in 2007 and completed my 2ndnursing degree(RN) in 2008 through an online course(taking 18 months) paying off the loan as I went and then got a better paying job.. Eventually I worked up to $100 savings a week and over time I saved $8000 . I also put the maximum each week into a 401k which built up to $40,000 (which I stupidly cashed in at a huge loss my Mid-life Crisis in 2012- see The Mid Life Crisis Recovery .
  10. Food- this is an area where most people actually have some control, they just don’t want to. You CAN pack your home prepared lunches from scratch every day. I saved an average of $25 a week just by doing this in 1997/98 and have done it ever since. At today’s prices-5 shifts a week , approximately $7-10 for an average lunch bought out, that is $1820-2600/year!
  11. I opted for the cheapest (and preferably free) entertainment possible. This included walks, listening to music and dancing at home, riding my bike, buying used movies to watch (only $2 at a pawn shop- today online streaming is way cheaper than buying any movies or cable- some are even free!), using household items to work out with, and playing board games instead of going on vacations, to the movies, gym memberships or out with friends to dinner or bars. For me, this saved about $300 a month! Again- it went into savings.
  12. Pets are expensive. I could have saved much more if I did not have them( when I looked back it cost me about $100/month including food, bathing, grooming, vet appointments and general cleaning up after them- the list is long and varied). Plus I had to buy allergy medication for myself at the average cost of $25 a month. Todays costs are much more. I have not owned one since 2012 and will not again until I am retired and have time for them- but , even then, only if I can easily afford their care and upkeep without sacrificing my own.
  13. At any time possible, I paid all credit cards each month before they acquired interest. I transferred to 0 interest cards every time I could.For large purchases, I paid as much as possible from any and all money not used for basic life needs and bills. Some weeks I had an extra $50, some weeks I had an extra $100- and paying off items that accrue interest is a priority! Yes, you can  forego that double latte espresso or that cool hair accessory or that neat motorcycle gadget until you are at a zero balance. Start yourself a small weekly allowance for that stuff- if that’s only $10, then that’s all you get.
  14. Over the years I have acquired several degrees. The highest loan amount I have ever accepted for these is $2,200 . Everything else I paid for as I went, sacrificing whatever I had to so as NOT to go into debt. Sometimes I had to wait for a month or so until I could afford the next class. If you desire an education, either get a scholarship, grant or commit to the pay as you go program. In this country, too many are in debt for a lifetime with school loans and most will not overcome it until mid-life, later or never. And, consider the next item:
  15. It IS possible to make decent money with a simple tech school degree or by working your way up. It IS possible to get a decent wage paying unskilled job if you keep your nose clean– meaning don’t use drugs, get a DUI or acquire a criminal record AND be committed as a good employee( not coming in late, taking off, or not showing up) but also not whining,gossiping, spreading negativity and blaming others on the job. I hear many today complaining , but most are usually unwilling to adhere to common sense and would rather make excuses than viable effort.
  16. I’ll finish up here- YOU are the only one who can do this. No one is going to do it FOR you- no matter how witty, beautiful, or young, ..no matter how old, broke, disabled or otherwise “underprivileged” you are. Most who have never gotten ahead and most who never will are the ones who remain stuck on repeat of old , ineffective, and purposeless patterns .If you give up, give in or quit- you get nothing, not even a chance.And if you change nothing, nothing will change—-So, take a really hard look at yourself , your choices, and your situation. And maybe, just maybe- you CAN save some money, make some changes for the better, and have those very things that seem impossible right now.

Good Luck!

Pirates, Mermaids, & Gypsies

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a pirate. I mean, how COOL would it be to sail a huge wooden ship all over the world looking for treasure? From the first time I watched Peter Pan- I didn’t want to be Tinkerbell, Wendy or even Peter Pan. I wanted to be Captain Hook. Then there was Treasure Island, The Pirates of Penzance, Hook, Sinbad the Sailor and, later, The Princess Bride. As I grew older , I read and collected books specifically about life on the ocean , like Moby Dick( fiction) and many historical accounts – Blackbeard, Anne Bonny and Mary Steed –as well as any books about pirates and ocean life/lore that I could get my hands on . I still do. Of course, I own all 5 of The pirates of The Carribbean Movies. Even my astrological sign fits the bill- Aquarians are the ‘Water Bearer’, yet they are an air sign( on the ocean but above the water- see where I am going with that?). Wearing those cool hats, visiting exotic locations, seeing whales & octopuses, owning a parrot or monkey… the list of my obsessions with it all is endless! 

Yup- a pirate’s life for me! 

(Naturally, as a Pirate( if only in spirit) I gave birth to a land Mermaid (my daughter) and a Gypsy( my son- although my daughter calls him a Hobo! lol). And, in many ways, their very natures reflect those designations.)

So, even if I cannot , literally become a pirate, I can and have incorporated things in my life that remind me of my first love. It’s one of the things that keep me grounded when the tides turn ( pun intended).

Not only do I collect books and movies, over the years I have collected shells, pirate décor, and focused much of my own art( painting) on marine life and ocean scenes. I study the nuances of the ocean and water itself. I even sometimes wear pirate-y clothing, sing pirate songs ( I know quite a few!) and sometimes eat like one. It’s a tiny bit of my true spirit that makes everyday life bearable. Alas, I cannot handle rum though( and probably a good thing)!

As adults many of us have lost that playful nature. We get too serious, and too far from our imaginations. But, we need to try to keep our inner child in ways that are harmless, uplifting, and inspiring. It can bring us joy and sentiment,  innocent laughter, deep philosophy, as well as a reconnection with our soul.

What is your spirit child?Who does she/he long to be? And how can you bring that spirit back to life?

Allow yourself to daydream a bit and remember. You never know what you will rediscover. Namaste!