Saying Goodbye to a Dear Friend

I heard some news this morning that really hit me hard. While it wasn’t completely unexpected, it broke my heart all the same. My high school band teacher passed away last night. It might not seem like a big deal to many of you, but for those of you who know me, and knew him, you know what I’m talking about.

Everyone had that one teacher… that one person who had such a profound influence in your young life. The one who sees YOU… the you that you didn’t even know existed. The one who sees your potential, and knows how to bring it out of you. The teacher that challenges you and you don’t even realize it’s happening. That’s what Mr. Ephraim Hackett was for me. He was that one influential teacher who pushed me to expand my mind and see the potential that I didn’t know I had.

As so many of you know, music is, and always has been, a huge part of my life. I swear it is built into the fibers of my being. I’ve been musical for as long as I can remember… singing, piano, guitar…  You also know that I was a very shy kid who was perfectly content hiding in the shadows. Music has always been one of the best ways that I could express myself completely without embarrassment or regret. Every note is a part of my voice. Every chord is an expression of me. Mr. Hackett saw this in me, and so much more.

When I entered my freshman year of high school, my early morning (unofficial) class was helping out in the band room while the jazz band class rehearsed. I filed music, prepared stacks of music for other classes, and so on. I loved listening to them play, and would often peek my head around the corner in amazement at my front row seat of live music. It was glorious.

I was in the normal freshman concert band that met later on in the day. I played clarinet, which I really enjoyed playing. A few weeks into the school year, Mr. Hackett asked me if I wanted to learn to play the alto saxophone because they needed another saxophone in the jazz band. Without a second of hesitation, I said yes. I mean, why wouldn’t I? I borrowed a saxophone from the school, and off I went. Within a couple of weeks, I was comfortably playing with the rest of the group. I still played clarinet in the concert band. I enjoyed it so much.

Every year in the fall, we had football. That meant the marching band for all of the band members. Oh, how I loved the marching band… the drum cadences, the parades, yelling out “guide front!” and “guide right!”. We were required to memorize the music for the parades and half time at the games. We were pulled aside randomly for testing to make sure we knew our parts. After my freshman year, I was never tested for memorizing my music again. Memorizing music was something that came naturally to me. In fact, after 30+ years, I STILL remember my parts. At this point, I don’t think I will ever forget. That is a beautiful thing.

The next few years I switched to alto saxophone in our symphonic band and the jazz band, as well as playing the baritone saxophone. Ah, the more bass the better! The baritone saxophone was so much fun. I think it was nearly as big as me!

I asked to borrow a flute because I wanted to learn. Mr. Hackett let me borrow one. I played it here and there for various things in band. It was wonderful.

We had a pep band that played for the boys’ basketball home games. We were allowed to dress the way we wanted, which was usually VERY strangely. I would sit in the back of the group with my friends and try to learn to play different instruments… I remember the brass being so hard! I did learn a chromatic scale on the trumpet though. Chalk one up for me there! The drummers taught me to play the drum set. I learned the bass guitar. I couldn’t get enough. I wanted to learn it all.

The day before graduation at the end of my junior year, Mr. Hackett asked if I wanted to learn how to play the bassoon. We would be losing a player who was graduating that year. Of course, I said yes. He sent me home with a bassoon, books, and music. I played that bassoon the next evening at the graduation. That was one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. I am stubborn and determined. I was going to make it happen. I ended up being the drum major for the marching band. I also played the  bassoon in the youth symphony. That was one of the best experiences I have ever had. You have to audition to be in this elite group. I played the bassoon for less than a year, and was able to be a part of this incredible group of talented people.

Loved band so much!

Think about all of this for just a moment… If I didn’t have Mr. Hackett as my teacher, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience any of that. I most definitely wouldn’t be the musician I am today. I am proud to say that I can still play the bassoon, saxophone, and the flute to this day. (Granted, it has been awhile, BUT I can!)  He saw something in me that I didn’t even know was there. I don’t think my parents even knew it. Somehow, he did. I can’t even begin to tell you how much confidence it gave me to be able to learn all those instruments in record time. Yes, I was still a shy girl, but the music brought something out in me.

After I graduated, I saw Mr. Hackett around town occasionally, and he would always, in his teacher way, lecture me about not going to college. Yeah, I know, I totally should’ve gone. Granted, my life would be so much different now. I could be touring the world, as some of my dear friends are. I could be playing in a symphony, also as some of my dear friends are, but deep down in my heart, I don’t think I was supposed to at that time in my life. I just wasn’t in a place that could have supported all of my social anxieties and life experiences.

Over the last year or so, I have tried to go and visit my beloved teacher as his health has declined. I am so thankful for the time I have had to support my dear friend, and to visit with her dad… Ephraim Hackett. It made my day to see his face light up when I said hello. It made me feel so special to know that he never forgot who I was. It was nice to just sit and talk… about whatever came to mind.

I have such fond memories of my high school years. I didn’t like high school in general, but music made it all better for me, and I am forever grateful to have such special memories of that. Music brought my friends and I together… and those friendships are still strong to this day. I am so very thankful for that. 

And so, as this day comes to a close, I tearfully say goodbye to my friend and mentor. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement. Thank you for your kindness and understanding. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself. Thank you for helping me be my best version of myself. Thank you for helping me discover and develop my passion and love for music.

You have had a positive influence for hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of lives over all these years. This day, I’m sure, has brought sadness to many.

The award for most influential teacher goes to this man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace Eph. I will miss you greatly. ❤

Summary of resolution month #1

Well hello friends! Can you believe January is gone already? I am amazed at how quickly this month flew by! Good thing I have been keeping track of all the things I’ve been doing this month!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have done some purging. My bedroom and my downstairs bathroom have been purged and cleaned. They are still in great shape. (I sweep the bathroom floor every night to keep it nice!)  I am contemplating what room to focus on purging next. I will make a decision this weekend and start on it at the beginning of next week. I’ll let you all know what room I decided on.

2 lemon slices, 2 orange slices, 2 cucumber slices, a handful of blueberries, and 2 sliced strawberries. SO GOOD!

 

 

My salad eating has gone fairly well… I ate a salad six days a week for the first two weeks. I lost a bit of momentum in weeks three and four, HOWEVER, my husband and I started a water challenge, and I have taken that a bit further and making my water fruit infused. I feel that between that and the salads, I have been doing a bit better. We have been trying to make more meals at home. It has been going well.

 

 

I have been trying very hard to have less negative thoughts. I was doing really well, then the negativity began to creep in again. I tried something new. I made a subliminal music soundtrack to play when I fall asleep. My own words telling me to love myself… to let go of the hate, and just be happy. I think that has been helping. I have still had some rage-mode moments, but I feel like they are a bit better.

 

Anything is better than nothing. Keep plodding along. You CAN do it!

 

I have eased my way back into exercising on my treadmill. My foot has been a bit angry with me with the additional walking, so I have had to give it a little extra rest. I am VERY pleased with my progress through the month of January. Every barbell throughout the month is a day I exercised… anywhere between 35-67 minutes per session. During the month, I walked more than seventeen miles!

 

 

My “January Jump Start” spending freeze went extremely well. I spent very minimal money, which was super challenging! I pretty much blew that whole month of no spending, in my opinion, because I ended up purchasing a vehicle. We knew we were going to be needing another vehicle in the next few months, with jobs, and my son returning home. We weren’t expecting to get the car quite this soon, but the deal was great, and everything fell into place so easily, we decided to go ahead and get it now. So, because of that, I am labeling February as “Frugal February”. Not a complete spending freeze, but the goal is to buy absolutely nothing at full price, including groceries. Everything MUST either be on sale or have a coupon for significant savings. We will be going through our menus for the month to make sure we can make that happen.

I think that covers everything that happened last month. Man, there was SO MUCH going on! All in all, I think I did well… up until the last day of the month, when the car was purchased. Try, try again, right?

That’s the beauty of this crazy life. We all have our weak moments. Let’s regroup and start again. It will be okay.

YOU CAN DO IT!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The projects continue: What have you learned this month?

Well, the month is starting to wind down, and I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit this month. I have learned some things as well.

The second part of this month has been spent cleaning and going through my downstairs bathroom. Even though this particular room is very small, we have SO MANY things packed in there, and so many of those items haven’t been used in years. Seriously! Why on earth are we holding on to ALL THESE THINGS? The counter top is small, with a metal shelf in the corner. That means that even a few things left out makes the entire counter look cluttered. The amount of things stacked up was kind of embarrassing. The same goes for the medicine cabinet. Perfumes… Numerous face lotions and other facial concoctions… First aid items strewn about… Also incredibly embarrassing. Under the sink was also packed full of various cleaning products some nearly full, and others just drops away from being empty.

I grabbed a large garbage bag and started with my counter first. What better way to start than to do the part that is seen every time someone enters the room! The calmness of a clean and organized counter is most definitely a motivator to carry on and finish the room. I sifted through every hair product, and every hair accessory. I threw away more than half! I had multiple products, which I use, that I was able to combine into one container. The majority of the hair accessories I tossed into the garbage. (I have this thing about used hair items… I just can’t donate them if they’re not washable… it seems so unsanitary!)

My four shelf medicine cabinet was tackled next. All the old band-aids, and other first aid items not really usable were thrown away. The good items that aren’t used frequently, but needed (like the thermometer for fevers, and sanitary band-aids), were put on the top shelf out of the way in a little box to keep them from getting spread all over. Perfumes and body sprays were set up on the next shelf down. I threw away any that were “so close” to empty, or ones that I haven’t used in the last three months. My face/beauty items went on the second to the bottom shelf. Any items that were purchased, used once, and never used again for whatever reason, were thrown out immediately. The remaining items were assessed thoroughly. I have a really hard time throwing these things in particular away. I see them and automatically think, “Oh yeah, I was going to use that before, but I forgot about it”. NEWS FLASH: if you haven’t used it yet, after months, it’s probably not going to happen. Say goodbye to it, and don’t give it another thought. You had already forgotten about it in the first place! Only the items I use regularly, and the ones that work are placed back in the cupboard. The very bottom shelf is designated for daily use items… toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, facial routine, etc. The smaller items were organized in a clear little bin, and the rest strategically placed.

The space under the sink was honestly the easiest for me to go through. All but five things were tossed or designated homes elsewhere. We live in the country, so we have well water, which I mostly love. The water is full of hard minerals that, over time, stain porcelain toilets and sinks, and create a ‘lovely’ yellow tinge to the bathtub. There are very few cleaning products out there that I have found that work extremely well without spending an entire afternoon scrubbing vigorously. I hear about new products, so I will buy it, try it, and discover that it DOES NOT do what I had hoped. So, then it sits under the sink, with all the other disappointing bottles. I took everything out and did an assessment. The nearly full items that don’t work for my hard water issues, I have placed in a box, and I will be taking them to work with me to be used there. The mostly empty bottles were used up on the sink, toilet and bathtub, and the bottles disposed of appropriately.

All of our towels in the cupboard were gone through. All of the ones in good shape were put back. The decent ones with frayed ends were deemed good for cleaning and put in the cleaning rag bin. The worn out ones were thrown in the garbage bag.

My last project was the walls and floor. This for me, is the hardest part. My house is nearly one hundred years old. I live in farm country. My house gets dusty in a record amount of time. Add to that a steamy environment, and you have the amazing potential for the kind of dust that sticks to steamy walls, and then dries there. Even when the little fan is turned on during a shower, it doesn’t help much. Years ago, I purchased the Swiffer wet mop wipes, and they are used most often in my bathroom. I attach one of those to the simple mop and wipe down my walls to get all the clinging dust off with little effort. Then, I mop the floor. I flip the “wipe” inside out and get the floor as clean as I can. Then, I get a new wipe and go over the floor again to ensure that it is clean. I know, I know, I could use altered microfiber towels to mop, in a homemade solution, instead of the disposable wipes. I have tried this, and for me, I find that this works better. At some point, I will probably revisit this subject, and work on finding a different cleaning recipe that cuts through the dust, sanitizes, and leaves a nice scent. For now, this is enough.

So now, I have two rooms completely done, from top to bottom. What have I learned from this? It is great to go through your stuff, clean, organize, and get rid of things. There is another factor, however, that is just as important. MAINTAINING. What’s the point of going through this if you aren’t going to put in the effort to keep it that way? It has been two weeks since the completion of my bedroom. I am proud to announce, that I am making the conscious effort to maintain it. In the past, I would let that small pile of clothes sit there “until tomorrow”. I have committed myself to taking care of those piles immediately, or not letting the piles happen in the first place. Shoes go back in their spot as soon as they leave my feet. Clothes are hung up immediately. Everything goes back in its place. I love it. I love walking into my room and feeling relaxed and satisfied when I look around. It takes less time to take that extra two to three minutes and simply put things away, than to take an hour to go through a pile of things every week or two. SUCCESS!

The month is almost over, and I will be giving you all a month end review then. I am so happy with the progress I have made. I am still excited about this ongoing resolution to literally clean up my life. (Haha!)

So, until then… KEEP GOING! You’re doing great! If you have faltered, that’s okay! Recommit to your goals and give it another go! You CAN do this. You WILL do this. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you! ❤

1030-blank-sign-illustration-pv

 

January resolution progress report

Hello my friends! Happy Saturday! How is everyone doing so far? Have you kept up with your resolutions you made on January 1? I sure hope so!

On New Year’s day, I also started the year by making some goals for myself… publicly. I figured, what better way to make sure I stay on track than by telling the whole world about it. If that isn’t the best motivator, then I don’t know what is!

Here’s a reminder of the resolutions I made for myself:

#1 – Eating better by eating healthier foods

#2 – Letting the negativity go

#3 – Exercising routinely

#4 – Purging my belongings and organizing what’s left

Nearly two weeks have passed, and here is what has happened thus far…

Resolution #1: I have figured out how to make the lovely vinaigrette salad dressing that my friend told me about, and I am extremely excited! I have salad greens in my refrigerator, salad dressing made, and homemade croutons in a vacu-sealed jar all ready to go. I have eaten a salad 11 out of 12 days so far. I discovered that slivered almonds and dried cranberries are a delightful addition to what I have in my bowl already. The possibilities are endless! I’m always willing to try something new and different. So far, my ideas have been surprisingly delicious. One thing I have decided to do, however, is have a limited ‘cheat’ day. That day is Thursday. Thursday evenings is when I meet with my girls, so I think that will be the day that I can cut loose a little bit and have a drink, and eat, in moderation, a few of the lovely foods that I enjoy so much. Hey, if I NEVER eat the foods I crave so much, the possibility for failure is much higher. I CAN do this!

Resolution #2: I have learned quite a bit about myself over the last 12 days. I take things WAY too personally. I have learned that I have a hard time letting things go.  I have a hard time not complaining about it. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially when I’m tired. I have had to stop myself multiple times from blurting negative things out loud. Even then, I haven’t been 100% successful. I need to find a different, positive perspective on all of the things going on around me. They say it takes thirty days to make a habit. I am hoping to prove that theory to be correct. We’ll see what happens as the month continues.

Resolution #3: I purchased a calendar/planner to log all of my activities in. This includes my workout schedule. I have set aside three days/evenings a week for doing my treadmill workouts. As much as I would love to have four or five designated days, I know from past experience, that I tend to burn down within a month when I do this. I also know that I have to give my foot some extra time to recover between workouts. I don’t want to do any damage that will have me spending extra time sitting on the couch any more than necessary. I have completed every scheduled workout so far. I did end up getting sick for a couple of days, but I managed to make up those scheduled workouts within the next week. So, I have, ultimately, completed all of the workouts I had planned for myself. I am already seeing a difference in my body. Yay! There’s some motivation for me to keep going!

Resolution #4: PURGING TASK #1- MY BEDROOM: I have completely gone through every shelf, drawer, and tote in my bedroom. I have gone through every piece of clothing I own and have been brutally honest with myself about my things. I looked at every shirt, pair of pants, coat, socks, dresses, and my unmentionables. I threw away the items with holes, and the other things that I had set aside “to fix” that had been piled up in one of my laundry baskets. I hadn’t missed any of them after all this time, so they are leaving. I made a pile of the pieces that were nice enough to sell online. I made another pile that weren’t as nice, but will put them in a garage sale that will happen in the spring. I put my summer items in a tote that I labeled “seasonal”. I also put my Christmas clothes (ugly sweaters) in this tote as well.  I went through my purses, bags, wallets, scarves, gloves and hats, and was able to eliminate more than half of those items as well. The majority of the extra hangers have been removed and put in a tote to use in my upcoming yard sale. The items left, that I wear regularly, were returned to my closet. Any item that I’m undecided about has gone back into my closet with the hanger hung up backwards. After two months, if I haven’t worn the items, they will be sold, either online or in my garage sale. More than half of my clothes are out! I dusted all the shelves, and all the flat surfaces in my bedroom. I have vacuumed the carpet, and used my carpet cleaner as well. I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH THIS ROOM!

 

SIDE NOTE: Part of my process of purging a room is having to post all of the nicer items I want to sell online IMMEDIATELY. This does a few different things for me. I AM COMMITTED TO MAKING THAT ITEM LEAVE MY HOME. I can’t keep it for myself if I have it for sale. I can be motivated by earning money when I sell them. I can’t move on to another room if I haven’t finished all of my processes. I have heard good things about Poshmark, so I took pictures of all those clothing items and posted them. That is part of my plan… posting my items. It keeps me motivated to get it done! I have already sold five items for a total of $45.00 in less than a week. NICE! All of the money I make from my belongings will be going into my emergency savings fund.        https://poshmark.com/

priority mail boxes      So far, I have been very happy with this website/app. They, of course, take a percentage of your selling price, BUT, it is all up front before you officially list your items. The shipping is super easy. Poshmark takes care of the shipping end of things. All you have to do is package up your sold item (very nicely please!), print out a shipping label (that they email to you), and tape it on your “Priority Mail” box (you get them FOR FREE from the post office!). Then you take it to your local post office, they scan your label, and you’re done!  I’m all for it!

I finished my monthly budget as well. It is very strict, but very doable! There will definitely be some self control needed, but we can do it! January is already my spending freeze month, (Boy, I have SO MUCH going on this month!), which coincides well with our new budget. I have done very well. Yes, I have been tempted of course, BUT I have squashed the urges to spend. Nothing I have been tempted by is a NEED, simply things I WANT. That’s the important thing to realize… the difference between the needs and the wants. ONLY NINETEEN DAYS TO GO!

*Budget done.

*Bedroom purged.

*Items have been put up for sale.

*Exercise happening routinely.

*Eating healthy regularly.

*Actively aware of my words and actions.

gold star

I’m giving myself a gold star for the progress I have made in these first twelve days. I have been successful in many things, and those I haven’t been completely successful in, I am aware of the problem and have committed to doing better and being better.

I hope you are finding great success this year. Stick with it.

YOU CAN DO IT!

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy New Year friends! I am hoping that 2018 was a good year for all of you. It was a decent year for me. A lot of things happened… some good, some bad. I really want 2019 to be MY year. I want to make things happen for me. I am determined.

I HAVE PLANS. I HAVE RESOLUTIONS.

Just like so many of you, I am jumping on the new year’s resolution bandwagon. Most years I don’t do the resolution thing. This year is different. I want 2019 to represent the start of something incredible… a journey towards self love, self improvement, and a more relaxed, stress free home environment. I am so eager for this journey, that I started purging my closet as I was waiting for 2019 to arrive.

Resolution #1 – Eating better/healthier – Don’t get me wrong. I am not a complete junk food consumer. I admit, however, that I thoroughly enjoy chocolate, cookies, and a nice assortment of candies. I like fruits and vegetables, although I need to make a more conscious effort to grab an apple in lieu of some sugar filled goody.  Part of the goal is to simply eat more salad… with healthier salad dressing included. I love ranch dressing, and I love bleu cheese as well. I discovered a lovely, simple, healthier dressing the other night while I was at my friends’ house for a party- a delicious vinaigrette consisting of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard. WHY HAVE I NEVER KNOWN ABOUT THIS? I’m hooked! I make my own croutons with homemade bread, olive oil, and a dash of garlic salt. Sounds pretty simple, right? I’M READY!

Resolution #2 – Letting the negativity go – This one has a few layers to it. Not only is my goal to not let negativity and bad things throughout my day bring me down, but I am going to try harder to keep negative comments to myself. I think it’s good to let my aggression and frustration out, but I will do that in private… that place may be in my office, my car, the restroom… that doesn’t matter, as long as I am not bringing others down with me. I will let it out, and then I will let it go.

Resolution #3 – Exercising – For much of last year, I had a good routine going with my treadmill. Then, my foot surgery happened, and I haven’t been able to do much since the beginning of October. My foot still bothers me, since I still am having some pretty routine bouts of swelling. I am not looking to run a marathon. I just want to spend 30 – 45 minutes on my treadmill a minimum of three days per week. That should be doable.

Resolution #4 – Purge my belongings – As I mentioned in my last post, I am ready to get rid of stuff! My goal this year is to have half of my belongings leave my home. I want the clutter to go away. I want to make my home more relaxing… a place of calm. I went through my entire closet this evening and I’m pretty sure nearly half is going to go away! Success! Some will be put up for sale on various sights, and what is left will be set aside for a garage sale this spring. My objective is to focus on one room every three weeks (or two weeks, depending on the size of the room), and clean from top to bottom… inside and out, getting rid of the non necessities, and nicely arranging what’s left. Yessssssss.

What goals have you set for yourself for 2019? Health? Happiness? Determination? Whatever your resolutions are for this new year, I wish you all the success you desire.

RR tracks 2019

Happy New Year!              LET’S MAKE THIS THE BEST YEAR EVER!

 

Minimalism – My new year will be the beginning of something wonderful

In a few months, my son will be moving back home from Japan. For awhile, he will be staying with my husband and I, until he gets settled back into a routine and gets his life situated. That means some rearranging of rooms will need to be done. I will be relocating my office/craft room upstairs to a bigger room where I won’t be so closed in. This room will be a multi-functional office, craft room, photo studio, and music studio all rolled into one. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Daunting? Perhaps, but I am super excited about the move. What I am most excited about, surprisingly, is the opportunity to go through EVERY SINGLE ITEM in my current room and deciding what I can get rid of! I’ve mentioned before about my fascination with minimalism. I know I could never pare things down as much as those minimalist, tiny house TV shows. I do know, however, that I can rid myself of things that I have been holding onto for years. You know, those things that have been stuffed in my closet and nearly forgotten about because they’re buried behind my guitar, cello, totes of fabric, stacks of paper, notebooks… There is seriously SO MUCH in there! You all should know by now that I hold onto things. I am a recovering pack rat, after all. I am always thrilled when the need arises for an item that I can run to my closet and, usually within a minimal amount of time, come out with said item in my hand. I’m telling you, it’s an amazing party trick! When my girls and I get together and the magic question is asked, “You know what we need?”, I can usually say, “Hold on a minute”, run to my room and emerge victorious. The response I get is, “Of course you have one!”.  That may be good, and it may be bad, but hey, I’m prepared!

Here are the questions to ponder, however… How often does the “magic question” get asked? How often do I use all those mostly unused things? Is it really worth having a closet so full of things that I have to take at least half of the contents of the closet out to find what I want? Is it worth all the stress I feel when I open the closet door and see ALL THE THINGS stacked up (as neatly as humanly possible) in there staring out at me? I WANT the answers to these questions to be truthful justifications in order to let my mind be at peace. It NEEDS to be a truthful reality that slaps me across the face… (Lightly though, I have delicate skin.)

Have you ever thoroughly deep cleaned and de-junk-ified a room? Vacuumed, dusted, completely organized… There is a feeling of complete satisfaction. You have a sense of relief and a wave of calm that washes over you. You look around and just… smile. This room is inviting and blissfully peaceful. I have felt that, and I want to feel it again… In every room in my home.

Too much stuff for sale

The new year is quickly approaching. I am mentally preparing myself for a year of being brutally honest with myself about my stuff, whether it be clothes, shoes, crafting tools, music related items, or camera equipment.  I’m determined to get rid of a lot of my things. I want to SELL as much of those things as possible to build up my savings. I have been told that Poshmark is a great app to use for selling clothes, so I am going to try it out. I’m going to use the Facebook Marketplace to sell other items. I’m going to contact my friends that have similar interests and see if they’re interested in those specialty items. I’m going to have at least one, or possibly two garage sales this year. Whatever doesn’t sell is going to be donated… IMMEDIATELY. What’s left in my home will be thoroughly cleaned, and put in a well thought out, very specific, purposeful, useful place. I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS WORK! The beauty of going to through my things this way is partly out of necessity, and part (to be honest) laziness. The more I choose to get rid of, the less I have to haul up a flight of stairs and find purposeful, useful places for. If I can make some money throughout this entire process as well, then that is an added bonus!

I will have approximately 4 months to get my rooms swapped around. That should be more than enough time to go through my current room and get everything moved upstairs. My son will be staying in my soon-to-empty office, and will have plenty of room and closet space.

I have quite a few goals for the upcoming year, which you will be hearing about very soon, BUT, one of the most important ones is this one. I have to have somewhere for my child to stay.

Are you tired of living under a pile of stuff? Are you ready to rid yourself of clutter instead it moving from place to place around your home? Are you ready to retrain yourself and your family to actually put things back in their designated place? I am!

I want 2019 to be a year of calm, peace, and a feeling of contentment. I’m so ready to make this happen! Are you? I’ll be your cheerleader. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

WE’LL DO IT TOGETHER!

 

 

Happy Holidays! Time to clean up your spending habits

Can you believe it? Christmas is finally here! In some ways it feels like just yesterday was the beginning of 2018. It also feels like it’s been, well, a year. How is everyone holding up? Have you all opened your presents after waking up entirely too early because of children or just sheer anticipation?

Merry Christmas one and all

This year has been a bit different than any other one I’ve ever had. My kids normally would wake us up around 8 am so that we can open presents, whether they lived at home or not. Today however, my son is spending some time in Japan, and my daughter and her husband (I love saying that!) are coming over this afternoon to exchange gifts and stay for dinner, along with one of my nieces. How bizarre it is, now that my children are all grown up and living on their own. Traditions are morphing into entirely new ones. I don’t mind, as long as my family is happy and healthy.

As I was getting ready this morning for the upcoming festivities, I was thinking about several things… First and foremost, I am gearing up for January. Those who know me know that January always means SPENDING FREEZE. The last month has been filled with buying presents and spending extra on groceries. It doesn’t take very long for my attitude and outlook to change when it comes to spending money. The Christmas season is brutal on me. I’m sure it has taken a toll on many of you as well. I have become accustomed to seeing things suitable for a gift and buying it. I will make a little side note here however… I AM very proud of myself for the amount of money I spent. With the help of coupons, store rewards, and rewards from my Amazon rewards credit card, I only spent around $25.00 out of pocket. My budget for Christmas was set at $250.00. I can’t complain about that! Every year millions of people go deep into debt because of Christmas. Maybe it’s the frugal side of me talking, or maybe it’s the budding minimalist emerging, but I am proud to say that I have incurred ZERO debt this holiday season! In fact, I am setting aside my saved $225.00 for next year!  WOO HOO!  

The second thing I was thinking about was a new budget for the upcoming year. In years past, I have dreaded drawing up a budget. We had a mountain of debt… multiple credit cards, car loans, house payments… It was incredibly stressful, and there was always too much month left at the end of our money. What a horrible existence! We have since paid off every credit card, and have locked them away. (I am still fighting with myself over closing some or all of those accounts.) All we have left for bills is the standard things… Mortgage, home and auto insurance, natural gas, cable/internet, cell phone, fuel, groceries, garbage, and our Amazon rewards credit card. There are still too many bills for my liking, but, I refuse to go without a phone, internet, or cable in some capacity. Please note that I DID NOT mention electricity. We invested in solar panels quite a few years back, and have never regretted it. I haven’t had a power bill since the month after we had them installed.  The panels paid for themselves in about 2 years! It is such a help to our finances. My husband renegotiated our cable/internet bill and got it lowered by $90/month. We did the same with our cell phone bill. Our natural gas bill is paid on an equal pay plan. No matter summer or winter, we pay the same amount. I always budget and pay an extra $10 per month to offset the winter months, just in case. They send me a check in the spring if there’s an overage. That goes straight into savings. I cannot stress this enough… HAVING A BUDGET AND STICKING TO IT IS SO IMPORTANT! I urge all of you to sit down over the next week and make a budget for 2019. I have included some helpful worksheets to help you. Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” is an amazing book that I have read and reread over the last several years. These worksheets, which I have included two below, are amazing tools that will allow you to build your budget. I highly recommend acquiring this book.

I’m going to let you in on a secret here. As much as I detest credit cards, I am in love with the Amazon rewards credit card. I pay every bill I can with that card… cable, cell phone, insurance, doctor bills, garbage, gas, and groceries. I budget the hell out of everything just like I would if I was paying cash. You have to have a lot of self control, but I am going to spend the same money, whether I pay with cash, check, or debit card. If I use my Amazon card, I get money back. True, it is only useful on Amazon, BUT, I can get just about anything my heart desires there, and sadly, usually cheaper than a brick and mortar store. On top of that, since I live in a smaller city, there are many things I can’t get locally. You might not get the item instantly, but I can get it FOR FREE. I have had this card for just over a year, and I have made more than $800! Items for my daughters’ wedding? Paid on that card. Homeowner’s and car insurance? Yep. Cable, cell phones, gas, groceries… everything possible, and I get a percentage back… anywhere from 1% – 5% depending on what I use it on. Every little bit helps. I pay my credit card bill every two weeks when my I get my paycheck, and I love it. My frugal self is ecstatic about it. Yes, I am still frugal about the things I spend my free money on, of course. I still want the most “bang for my buck”, after all. If nothing else, this card has funded my hobbies, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. There are other rewards cards out there, and I’m sure other types of rewards could be more useful to all of you… airline miles, literal cash back, etc. If that works for you, then by all means, go for it! Just remember the reason you’re using the cards. If you choose to use a rewards card, use that credit card solely. Do not be sidetracked by the rewards though, YOU STILL HAVE TO ABIDE BY YOUR BUDGET!

The new year is almost here, and I want each and every one of you to succeed. I want all of you to achieve your goals. Plan now, and reap the benefits in the months to come.

I hope this day has brought you love, peace, time with family and/or friends, and fond memories to reflect on later in your lives.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE

Love to everyone

Charity during the Holidays: Focusing on the GIVING instead of the GETTING

DECEMBER IS FINALLY HERE! Have I mentioned how much I love the holiday season? The music, the lights… I love finding/making the perfect gifts for my family and friends. Granted, I am not all that fond of cold weather and snow (I am nearly ALWAYS cold unless it’s above 70° F), but I can appreciate how beautiful it is… from indoors.

What this season also means for me is giving to those who are struggling. When I was a child, we were a very frugal family. My parents saved every penny, used an impressive amount of coupons, and had an amazing budget. Every meal was made from scratch, and our annual garden was gigantic. My mom canned, froze, or dried every food available. My dad was our sole income for a long time. He was an auto mechanic at one of the local dealerships, so his paychecks varied by how much work came through the door. No cars meant no money. There were times when my dad came home from work at noon and didn’t go back to work for a week. Times were tough.

Our church would put Christmas boxes together for the less fortunate (we always called them “poor boxes” when I was little) with presents and food. I distinctly remember getting some of those boxes one year. My brother and I never knew we were struggling financially. My parents never discussed finances with us. We knew things were pretty bad when the boxes showed up on our doorstep. My mom had tears of gratefulness and relief in her eyes, and even though my dad didn’t show a lot of emotion, I could feel the wave of stress flow away when he brought those boxes into the house.

As an adult, I also know what it was like to struggle. I remember one year, when my kids were small, how little we had. We couldn’t even scrape enough together to buy a Christmas tree. Honestly, we didn’t even have a place to put a real tree in our little home. I contemplated how I was going to make the season festive for our kids.

No money for a tree? Try taping construction paper to a wall. Sometimes it’s all you can do.

As you already know, I am a craftsy person. I hold onto various art materials… you know, just in case. (**NOT a hoarder! LOL!) I made a construction paper tree and taped it to the wall. I had some tiny ornaments that my grandma had given me. I paperclipped them to our little tree. I sure wish I had owned a camera back then. I recall being very impressed with myself for our little 3 foot paper tree. The kids were happy we had a tree to put presents under.

 

I WANT OTHER FAMILIES TO FEEL RELIEF AND JOY… ESPECIALLY DURING THE HOLIDAYS. I am able to do that, with the help of my employer.

Every year, my employer adopts local families for the holiday season. Every store within our company adopts a family. We contact our local schools or churches, and have them nominate families in dire need of assistance. Wish lists are made, and my coworkers and I get to go shopping and buy food, presents, clothes, shoes, and coats for them. I use my money saving skills to aid in the shopping. I use every coupon and sale to our advantage to give as much as possible with the funds available to us… Maximum benefits with minimal money. The more I can get, the better! We wrap them up, label them, and deliver them before school closes for the winter break. It literally brings tears to my eyes to see the parents’ faces when we walk in with bag after bag filled with presents. I cannot begin to tell all of you how much it means to me to bring some joy and peace to someone that is struggling.

Here’s what I’m asking of you for this year, and years to come… I want each and every one of you to do some random act of kindness for someone else – preferably a stranger. I don’t care if it’s as simple as a kind word or little gesture. Focus on giving joy. Don’t make this statement dirty, and don’t think it means that you have to give away everything you own. I just want there to be more good deeds being done. This world NEEDS more kind words and kind gestures… with nothing required in return, with no strings attached. The feeling of inner peace I get from serving others far outweighs any physical thing I could possibly receive.

One of my dear friends made me this pallet tree several years ago, and it’s what I use every year instead of a live tree. I adore it.

 

Let’s get out there and do some good in the world. Let’s show some kindness and set a good example for those around us. Let’s inspire others to do the same.

 

LET’S SHOW SOME LOVE!

 

Keeping your sanity during the holidays

This past month has been a whirlwind of activity in my world. I can’t believe how quickly it has flown by! Work, home, family, friends… oh my! The next month is going to get even busier. How are you going to handle the craziness?

I have mentioned in previous posts about ramping up for the Christmas season early. Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? (I’m SO CLOSE to being done. I have one person on my list that I’m still struggling to find the perfect gift for. I’ll figure it out, hopefully sooner than later.) Getting the majority of your shopping done earlier in the year can help take stress out of the season. The pressure isn’t there. You’ve already purchased your gifts (I’m hoping at a great bargain), and now all that’s left to do is wrap them up. I’m telling you, frantically running all over town on Christmas Eve, along with half of the population of my city, DOES NOT sound like fun to me. That scenario stresses me out just thinking about it!

Reuse, reuse, reuse!

Oh so lovely, and easy!

 

Wrapping presents is one of my favorite things about Christmas. I love making my initial present look just as lovely as what’s inside. I know I’m a weirdo, but I LOVE it. I also love finding the perfect box, wrapping paper, and ribbon. Yes, I’m a perfectionist on this subject. Cell phone boxes are one of my favorite boxes. Many of them have magnetic closures, and they’re really easy to wrap. Chip containers also make excellent gift boxes. Clean them out with a Lysol wipe, use wrapping paper or scrap-booking paper on the outside, and some ribbon, and you’re done!  You don’t have to use them just for foodie gifts… use your imagination here! I once log-rolled fuzzy pajamas into a Fritos can for my daughter. I was pretty proud of myself for that one, and she was impressed at my creativity. She had no idea what was in there.

 

Little items, like jewelry, wrap nicely in cute little boxes

 

 

This little metal box was actually a container filled with staples. It’s perfect for jewelry, or other little things.

I am also a big fan of using old Christmas cards and calendar pages for gift boxes. Gift cards would fit nicely in some of these, as well as jewelry. Add some ribbon to these little babies, and you’re good to go!

 

 

 

 

Instead of throwing cards away, repurpose into gift boxes

 

If you want to get really creative, you can make your boxes from scratch. There is an endless amount of gift box patterns available online. Poster board is one of my best friends for this. I have made some adorable boxes using poster board and gluing fabric to the outside. Like I said before… Get creative!

WHEN I AM PREPARED, I FEEL RELAXED.

Poster board and fabric… the possibilities are endless!

There’s a lot going on in here!

 

I’m pretty sure we all do. That’s what it’s all about for me. I have my stash, and my presents acquired. Crank up the Christmas music, and let’s get to wrapping! By the time Christmas Eve is here, all you’ll need to do is curl up with some hot cocoa, a blanket, and enjoy the fire in your fireplace (if you have one).

 

 

 

I’m not saying you have to be a hoarder of all things boxes, but it totally takes the panic out of wrapping when you have items on hand to choose from.

 

 

Let’s ENJOY the holiday season. Enjoy spending time with your family and friends. Think ahead, and have the time to do the really important things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The art of humility

Over the last few weeks, since my surgery, as I have been forced to stay off my foot the majority of the day, I have learned a valuable lesson in humility. I have always been a do-it-myself, independent woman. Over the last three and a half weeks, I haven’t been able to do… well, not very much. I went back to work two weeks ago, with the understanding that my foot has to be elevated for at least fifteen minutes every hour. All of this has reigned in my ego.

Not only have I had to rely on other people to fix my food, get me water, and pain medication, I have had to have help putting on my clothes, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, climbing the stairs, and getting situated in bed. I am so very grateful for all the help that my family and friends have given me.

I have always had a problem accepting help. I don’t want to say that I feel like it’s charity… It just makes me feel like I have no control of myself, I suppose. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel incapable. I have had to ask for help… straight up, verbally,  ASK for help… Not beating around the bush hinting that “it would be nice if… but I don’t want to trouble you just because I need to go to the bathroom” asking. It has been an eye opening experience for sure. I think the internal struggle within me stems from my shyness. I am happy to say that I am getting better about that.

Ah, the things we do to be pain free… eventually.

So, as I sit here reflecting over the last nearly four weeks of recovery, I can honestly say that this foot surgery has been the most painful, challenging experience that I think I’ve ever had as an adult. Seriously! I don’t think even childbirth was this bad. I deal with pain pretty well, but WOW! I’m sure it’s probably because it’s a foot, after all. I’m thinking that it will all be worth it if I can eventually walk without pain anymore.

 

My lovely daughter having a movie night with me.

 

 

My daughter, bless her heart, gave up an evening to have a movie night with me. She brought me a chocolate milkshake and we watched Hocus Pocus, the movie. I had never seen it. I know, I know… I’m probably the only one who hasn’t. It was cute, and dramatically, wonderfully cheesy. I loved it.

 

 

I have had a little bit of fun through all of this though. I have never used one of those electric motor carts at the grocery store. I got to use one at Costco, and it was so much fun! That made me pretty happy. I just wish that it went quite a bit faster!

 

 

What I’m trying to explain here is this…  It is okay to accept help when you need it. It is okay to feel like you don’t have it all together all the time. People feel the urge to help others. LET THEM. Not only is it good for you to receive the help, it is good for other people to provide it. Let people have the opportunity to provide a service to their fellow men and women. We need to feel needed.

So, what are you going to do to help someone today?