Laughing at and loving your imperfections

I’m going to be brutally honest here. I am one of the most awkward people you will ever meet… With the exception of my kids anyway… (They inherited their awkwardness from me. Sorry kids!) You may not notice my awkwardness right away, but at some point it WILL show up. Just you wait! Not only do I tend to be socially awkward, I’m physically awkward… Vertically challenged… Clumsy… Whatever you want to call it is okay with me. It’s the truth. Seriously, I fall down. A LOT. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and it hasn’t gotten any better with age. I still trip and fall, and I still bruise just as easily. I could be completely embarrassed by tripping all the time, or running into things. I could wear jeans and long sleeved shirts 365 days a year… Where’s the fun in that? I have embraced it. I have accepted it. I only hope to have an interesting story to go along with the usually incredibly colored bruises. Half the time I don’t even know what happened to get the bruise. I’m sure people assume that I’m in an abusive relationship… No. No I’m not. If you know me at all, you know the truth. All I can do is laugh at myself… A song title comes to mind… “Oops, I did it again”.

All of this awkwardness could totally leave me wanting to hide in my house for the rest of my life. It did, at one point VERY long ago. I’m over it. If nothing else, it is definitely a conversation starter. Most of the really good ones DO have hilarious stories to go along with them. Somehow, they usually involve one or more of my dogs.

That one looking at me? That’s Maya, the adventurer. Good thing she’s adorable!

My most spectacular one of this year? Oh, let me tell you all about it! It was a Thursday. I was just arriving home from work. I pulled into my driveway, and pushed the garage door opener on my sun visor. As the door goes up and I start to pull in, I notice the man door going to the back yard is open… (I’m positive I closed and latched it shut when I left.) Uh oh. I see all three of my dogs racing to the garage to see me. Wow, they run really fast! I pull in as fast as I can, pushed the garage door opener again to close the door, and fling my car door open to try and block them from running past me and getting out to the front of the house. (You see, they’re all very spirited, and two of them we rescued earlier this year. They don’t go out front without leashes. EVER. Open yard and a busy street. We just don’t do it.) Well, I thought everything would be fine, until I see Maya, the adventurer, start to go under my garage door with about two feet left before it closes. What’s a girl to do? Dive after her, catch her tail and hold on, obviously. Of course, just as I grab her tail, the door closes the rest of the way… on my arm. I’m talking an over-sized, very insulated, double garage door closed on my arm. BUT I STILL HAVE A GOOD GRIP ON MAYA’S TAIL. I didn’t let go. So there I am, laying on the nice, cool floor inside the garage while Maya is stuck sitting there on the other side because I have her tail. I’m starting to inwardly panic because I’m stuck down on the floor with no way to open the door, and my arm is starting to tingle a bit. About twenty seconds go by before the garage door comes back up because it apparently hadn’t shut completely… Just got to love those safety features. (I think.) As the door comes back up, the other two dogs make a run for the front, and my grip on Maya’s tail falters… And away they all go… in three different directions. I scramble up off the floor and start chasing dogs. I’m yelling and carrying on like a crazy woman as the dogs run across the street to two of the neighbors’ houses. Luckily one of these neighbors is outside and I frantically yell, “GET HER!” as I go and chase down the other dogs. I get Joshua and Masco rounded up, and put them in the house. Then, I go back for Maya. The neighbors, bless their hearts, have her on their patio. She’s so happy to see me. I talk to (wheezed is more accurate) my neighbors and thank them repeatedly for quickly catching Maya. I grab her collar and she and I head back over to my house… as I’m not so nicely telling her that she and I are NOT friends right now. I get her in the house, and the garage door is now closed… and my husband is mowing the lawn in the back yard. Clueless. SERIOUSLY?! I go inside, quickly tidy up the house, do some vacuuming, and then my friends show up for our weekly girls night. We’re all sitting there eating snacks, laughing, and I got a chill and rubbed my arm. I am startled. I have a HUGE goose egg on my arm.

Progression of garage door bruises. Does this only happen to me??

I hadn’t even done an assessment of the damage to my arm in my haste to get the house in order for guests. I had completely forgotten about it. I guess it looked pretty bad. The girls were staring nervously at it for the rest of the evening. I put an ice pack on it. The next day I had to fly to Montana for the first time to help with a new computer system launch. My arm looked HORRIBLE. At least I had a great story! That broke the tension and awkwardness of meeting new people. They had a good laugh over that one. Ha ha!

My social awkwardness is pretty hilarious. I get nervous talking to people. Evidently I anticipate what people are going to say…  and then I blurt out things that have absolutely nothing to do with what they just said. I get the weirdest looks from people as they try not to burst into nervous laughter. I’ll be at the store buying groceries, and the cashier is overly chatty. I try to be polite. We get done with my transaction, and then I think they’re going to say “Have a nice day”. They actually say “Thanks for shopping with us”, and I say, “You too!”  Wait, what?? Good grief. The cashier gives me an oddly strained look, and I make my way to the exit shaking my head. Yeah, I did it again. It happens all the time. WOW. I do laugh loudly when my daughter calls to tell me she had a “You too!” moment. I can relate.

So, what it comes down to is this… We can either be embarrassed and ashamed by our many imperfections, or we can embrace who we are and own it. At this point in my life, I’ve accepted the fact that I am one big casualty waiting to happen. I make sure to announce this to new people so they aren’t surprised. Trust me, they are usually surprised anyway. It’s okay that I have awkwardness every minute that I’m awake. It’s okay that I have to look down and watch my feet when I walk. It’s okay that I can trip on a completely flat surface. It’s okay that I have random bruises. It’s who I am. Not accepting it ISN’T going to change it. I can laugh and joke about it. It’s either that or cry. I don’t like to cry… No one wants to see THAT.

LOVE YOURSELF FOR BEING IMPERFECTLY PERFECT.

Mason jar mania: My obsession

I have a confession to make. I am, and have been, obsessed with anything and everything related to mason jars for quite a long time. Many just think of mason jars as what our moms and grandmas used for canning their peaches, cherries, and strawberry jam. It goes so far beyond that for me. I inherited A LOT of canning jars. When I say a lot, I mean HUNDREDS. I have too many reasons for loving these jars to list every single one, but I’ll address some of my favorites in my post.

My basement is full of mason jars

One of the main reasons I love canning jars so much is that, especially for me, they are readily available. My mom religiously canned every summer… Peaches, tomatoes, apple cider… you name it, and it’s entirely possible she canned it at some point. I have so many jars. Granted, I have given quite a few away to friends who can, but I still have so many! I decided quite awhile ago that I needed to use them as much as possible. So far, I have done a fairly decent job.

Yes! These really exist! Sleeves, coffee lids, etc.

Another reason I love jars so much… They are so versatile! The amount of accessories that are available for jars now is mindblowingly amazing. Several years ago I found some neat lids that could be used for drinking out of. I really like them. Recently, I have looked online, and the accessories are everywhere. This makes me so very happy!

I can use my jars as coffee cups, with real lids. No sloshing or spilling. Ingenious.

Use with your vacu-seal to extend the “life” of your dry goods

 

 

I use my jars for food storage. Not necessarily in the actual canning sense though… I use them in conjunction with my vacu-seal machine. I have the canning jar attachments that suck all the air out of the jars and seal them. I use them for most of my dry goods… flour, oats, pasta, nuts… the possibilities are endless.

 

I take my fruit salad to work in my mason jars. WHY NOT?!

I also love to use my jars in the fridge. They don’t take up as much room as other containers, since they’re more vertical. I also enjoy the fact that I can put them in my lunch box and take them to work. I decided to try and glue several lids together to make yogurt and granola more portable. I love parfaits… I sure hope it works out like I hope it will! I’ll let you know if it does!

 

Just…. WOW

 

The next reason for my love of jars is decoration. My daughter’s wedding is coming up in about 6 weeks, and trying to come up with elegant, frugal, and simple decorations are a must. I found a nice item that I think will be nice for the reception, and then be useful at home as well. These solar charging light strands screw to the top of the jars and look so beautiful. They make wire holders for hanging, so they could be hung up by my patio for a nice relaxing evening after dark.

 

 

If this self watering indoor herb garden works, I will be overjoyed.

 

My last, and newest reason for my mason jars… planting herbs for an indoor, self watering system. I read about this concept on Pinterest, and I was instantly intrigued. I have “the black thumb of death”. I am horrible with plants of every kind. I can kill any plant… just give me time! I either over water, or forget about them entirely. It’s totally unintentional, but it happens EVERY time. I do tend to get very distracted. So, I’m hoping that this system will forego all my plant flaws and let me grow things!

 

And there you have it… many of the reasons I love my jars. Jars are everywhere you look… Garage sales, thrift stores, attics, and basements. Let’s utilize what is already out there. Reuse, reuse, REUSE!

Why music is my passion

Everyone has their “thing”. You know, that something that has always been there… The thing that puts you at ease, that calms you down, relaxes you like nothing else can. For me, that thing is music. I don’t mean just listening to it. I mean creating it. Sure, I have other things that I truly enjoy doing… Writing and photography… but music is my first love.

Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mom used to say that I would sing harmony when I was a toddler. I don’t even remember when I started playing the piano… It was that long ago. I have always had a song in my heart… A tune running through my head. It is a bit distracting sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes I feel it’s easier for me to let people hear how I feel, rather than just use my words. I am fortunate enough to be able to put those feelings on paper.  I was so fortunate to have parents and music teachers who pushed me to follow through with my music education when I wanted to quit. I’m grateful now that they saw my potential. I feel so blessed.

I wish I had more time to do what I love. I would love to dedicate all day, every day, to my creative outlet. A few hours a week just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Just when I’m getting into “the zone”, it is time for bed, it seems. At least I get some time. I try to make the most of the time I have. I’m making progress. I am starting to spread my wings.  That’s the important thing.

I have also been blessed with amazingly talented friends. They are my soul sisters. These ladies are so creative and fun. I’m a lucky girl. Together, I think we have the potential to do something wonderful. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. Someday, I hope, with the poetic partnership of my gifted friends, to be able to bring OUR music to life. Our whimsical interpretation of adulthood could bring a new perspective on life. Sure, it might have been done before, but I think we have some unique experiences to bring originality to the table. I have faith that our time will come. (I will let you know when it happens. Trust me on this!)

There’s something about the whole creative process that brings me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I lose myself in the notes, and it transports me to a wonderful paradise. It really is a part of my being, and I am so thankful for it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq6hSvcwoz6LrNZwvuz7Eaw

Enjoy your life. Make the most of the talents you’ve been blessed with. Lose yourself in what you love.

 

 

 

My class reunion – reflecting on my life

This summer marks a pretty significant event in life… My 30 year class reunion.  It just doesn’t seem possible. 30 YEARS? In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday. In other ways, it seems like several lifetimes ago.  To be honest, I’m pretty excited about it.

As I reflect on my life, and what I’ve done with it, I start to ponder… Have I lived up to my potential? Have I left my mark on the world? Am I satisfied with the things that I have accomplished? Are those things actually noteworthy? I have experienced a lot of very different things in my life since school… both good and bad. Marriage, kids, divorce, death, among other things… All those events have helped make me who I am. I’m stronger. I’m more opinionated and outspoken. I’m confident. I’m a very different person than I was. I’ll bet most of us are, and that’s the beauty of living in this crazy world.

I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted, but I feel that I have made significant progress. It seems like most of those forward leaps have happened just in the last couple of years. I feel like I’ve contributed to society. I feel like I have made a difference. That’s really what life is about, right? Making a difference?

What I find the most fascinating about the anticipation of my upcoming class reunion, is that I am genuinely looking forward to seeing all those people I graduated with. I am looking forward to seeing and visiting with the friends I had. Were we all friends? Absolutely not. Will I recognize all of them? Maybe. I don’t expect everyone to recognize me. I certainly don’t expect for all of us to become best friends. I AM expecting to find that, at this point in our lives,  we have gotten past all of those social boundaries. As I’ve mentioned before,  I was a very socially anxious and awkward person. I’m excited to see how we have all changed. I know I have. I am excited to hear about everyone’s successes. It all sounds so wonderful.

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Do I know what I’m going to wear? No. I know I won’t be dressing to impress anyone. That doesn’t matter to me. I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl, so maybe I’ll show up like that. I don’t know yet. What I do know, is that I want to have enlightening conversations with all my fellow Bulldogs, and hear about all the great things they’ve done.

So, as our big day approaches, I wish all my fellow classmen and women well wishes and safe travels.  I look forward to seeing all of you, and catching up. May we be united in happy memories, and look to the future with excitement.

Hail West Albany High!

 

Minimalistic traveling

Over the last few years, I seem to have started traveling more. Admittedly, it is mostly for work, but not all. I have done more air travel recently than I have the entire rest of my life. That’s probably not saying too much, but it’s true! For the most part, I enjoy it. (I’d enjoy it a bit more if I didn’t get motion sickness from bumpy flights though!) I love seeing new places and taking in different scenery.

There are some things I have learned from my recent travels. First off, I really detest checking my bags. I like having my eye on my stuff at all times if possible. Okay, some smaller planes still make you hand over your small suitcase\carry on, but at least it goes from the trolley at the front of the plane directly into the plane, and right back to me when the flight is over. Hey, I don’t trust people! I’ve had my suitcase gone through more than once! Secondly, because of that fact, I have to pack smarter. As you have probably already figured out, I like stuff. I like taking my stuff with me. You know… just in case! I have finally figured out that packing lighter and smarter isn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be.

I think what helps me the most is HOW I pack. I used to fold everything all nice and neat and lay things on top of each other, just like I would in my dresser. Turns out, at least for me, if I roll up my clothes, I have considerably more room. (AND less wrinkles!) I can put the things that I would put in my backpack in there as well. I was so mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner. Seriously! This could have made my previous trips so much easier. I always bring too many extras. How about instead of 3 extras, just take 1? I actually did it. It’s amazing how much more room I have when I don’t try to take my entire closet with me! This doesn’t mean I can take a lot of other things with me. I see all that extra room in my suitcase, and I feel the need to fill it up with things. I refrained. I am making progress!

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This is half of what I brought the first time I came to Montana. One pair of jeans (besides what I wore on the trip over), pajama top and bottom, two tank tops (for under shirts), a t-shirt, a dressier tank, and two different styles of sweaters in case eating out was going to happen. I also brought three pairs of socks (one extra), same for my other under things, and an extra pair of more comfortable shoes. One layer in my suitcase! Woo hoo! I don’t think you realize how big of a deal this is for me!

I gathered all my other stuff. One small bag of makeup, one baggie of chargers, and two baggies of miscellaneous toiletries that I have to bring. I simply can’t use hotel shampoos and conditioners. My hair is too picky for that.

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There is still a ton of room in there. I would call this a success! (There is some dramatic dance moves going on right now!)

So, what it comes down to is this… Plan ahead. Make a list in advance of what items you want to take. Then, take the time to assess what is on your list. What can you eliminate? What isn’t necessary? Can you survive your trip without it? If you can’t, is there a smaller version you can take? It seems like it should be a no brainer, but sometimes these things just don’t occur to us when we’re in the act of packing. I actually did purchase a few “mini” travel items that took up half the space… Deodorant, first aid kit, and toothpaste. There was nothing overly extravagant, and the total cost was under ten dollars. The nice thing is that I won’t have to purchase them for a few more trips, so it’s totally worth it to me!

There is a certain feeling of freedom when we have less to (literally) carry around. Go on your trip, have fun, and take less with you! You’ll have less to keep track of. You’ll thank yourself for it!

My need to have less stuff

I have a confession to make. Lately I’ve been feeling very closed in and trapped by my stuff. Over the last year I have gotten rid of a lot of things. I’ve had garage sales, and donated trunk loads of my unwanted and unused goods. I have a lot less. So why do I still feel like I’m drowning?

I have theories of course. I have problem areas in my home… my dining room table, a certain oversized bookshelf, and my computer/craft/music room. These are either my high traffic areas, or where I spend much of my time. I’ll be the first to admit that when I get home from work lately, I’m tired. I collapse on the couch and don’t want to move. That is where the problems start. Everything that has happened during the day doesn’t get taken care of, so it starts to build up. It sure doesn’t take long!

The “drop zone” at the end of the day

Where items with no home hang out

I also bring things home. That offsets all that I have disposed of.

I’m sure you can relate. I know I’m guilty of not putting things away. We don’t have control of what happens in our homes when we leave for work, unless you live by yourself. It all adds up in a hurry. Then, within a few days, I start to feel the stress of all my stuff hanging around… far away from where their rightful place is. I feel like I’ve lost control. My stuff owns ME.

IT NEEDS TO STOP!

I’ve read many articles, blog posts, and books about decluttering and minimalism. It all sounds so appealing… so very nice. My big struggle is getting past my heritage and upbringing. You see, I come from a long line of pack rats. NOTE, I did NOT say hoarders. My family has long believed in stocking up on things… getting extra when there’s a deal to be had. It’s not garbage and nastiness… Just lots of items for later use… large boxes of various electronic cables, canning jars full of random nails and screws, shoe boxes full of artist paint brushes. I’ve noticed, as I look around my home, that I tend to do the same things. What makes it all the more ironic, is that I live in the house I grew up in. I still have things in my basement that my dad saved. (Cabinet drawers full of screws, nails, zip ties, etc.) There used to be A LOT more things, but I finally got up the courage to sift through most of it.

I just need to be brutally honest with myself when I take time to deep clean. I need to take every single thing out of my closet and start asking myself those all important questions that all those articles have brought to my attention. Do I use this item daily?  When was the last time I used it? If I were to get rid of it, is there another item that I have that could work similarly to this one? Do I know anyone that I could borrow one from if it was absolutely necessary? If there are several similar items, is there possibly one item that could do all the things that the multiple items can do?

I need to get a variety of boxes together and designate them for definite keepers, undecided, throw away, and donate/garage sale. Ultimately, what I like to do is have my garage sale, and then donate what doesn’t sell. I try to find a cause to donate the clothes, crafts, and other specific items to, whether it be shelters, nursing homes, schools, or various local charities that could use them before donating to my local thrift stores.

I have already decided to do a garage sale this year. I’m really not all that fond of putting on garage sales. I never have been. I work in customer service, so sometimes having a break from people is nice. However, I will admit, that when my daughter comes and hangs out all day with me, it is much more tolerable. We usually don’t make a ton of money, but I do enjoy her company. We listen to music, talk, and laugh obnoxiously… THAT I enjoy immensely. I think the biggest thing that I have learned about the yard/garage sale process, from my coworker, is to price all your items as soon as you have decided to sell them BEFORE you even put them in that designated box. When you’re ready to have your sale, you don’t have to spend the time pricing everything frantically as you’re staging all your tables. It takes so much stress out of the entire process! (Thank you, Angie, for THE MOST amazing advice!) I am even going to talk to my neighbors about the possibility of a neighborhood sale. That would bring in more potential customers. Why not? Last year, I designated the money I made for birthday and Christmas presents. It worked out really well. AND I GOT RID OF STUFF! Watching my things leave with an excited person was refreshingly pleasant. I’m glad someone will enjoy them.

As the summer season approaches, I am going to try and be more vigilant about putting things away as soon as I’m done with them. I’m going to recommit to my “5 things a day” rule. I’m going to put my reusable grocery bags back in my car as soon as I’m done putting my groceries away. If I bring something home, I am going to try to get rid of two things for every one thing I have brought in. I’m going to “Power Hour” my way around my house and have my biggest garage sale to date. (Last year’s was pretty big, so I have a lot of things I need to get rid of!) I’m going to go thru all my clothes and shoes, and get rid of the things I truly don’t wear anymore. I’m determined to reduce the amount of things in my home!

Sometimes all it takes is the realization to reawaken the declutter beast. That has happened to me.

ARE YOU READY TO OWN LESS? I KNOW I AM!

Finding myself

When I was young, I was painfully shy. I would literally hide behind one of my parents when someone talked to me. It was crippling to my social life. I couldn’t even order a burger without the pickles! It was difficult to reach out and make friends, so I honestly didn’t have very many. I was always the weird one… the quiet one… the poor one… the emotional one… I hated all these things about myself. I would try to take on a different persona to try and fit in. All I wanted was to blend in with everyone else. It wasn’t until high school that I found “my tribe” of people that I could really be myself around. These people didn’t care how weird I was. They didn’t care that I would laugh so much that I would get the hiccups. They didn’t care how I dressed. They enjoyed the same music and humor that I did. Most importantly, I could truly be me. They didn’t try to change me, and I didn’t feel that I needed to change myself.

After high school, we went our separate ways, and I started to lose who I was. The big world was full of selfish, cruel people whose sole desire in life was to make me suffer. Then came a bad marriage, a bitter divorce, and split custody of my kids. I became an empty shell… damaged goods with a trunk full of baggage. I lost myself somewhere in there. I hid behind a false smile. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and no one else really did either.

Fast forward 25 years….  20+ years remarried. My kids have grown into amazing adults and are doing great things with their lives. (Proud mama moment here!) There has been a lot of struggles, laughter, and sorrow. It took a long time to crawl out of the hole I was in and start to discover myself again. There was constant soul searching. It was hard, but I did it.

The tribe is back together too. There was a long time period in there when we lost contact. That was before I had a cell phone or email. Everyone was off to various colleges, and doing incredible things. I was a terrible letter writer. (I still am. Go figure!) My people found me on Facebook.  I was elated. 🎶 Reunited, and it feels so good!

Having these beautiful friends return has brightened my life and helped me see the part of me that has been missing for so long. I was most definitely me, but I didn’t realize what part was missing until it was restored.

I am back to being that “me” that I actually love. The more confident me… the adventurous me… the genuine me… the me that accepts ME for who I am. Sure, I  have my moments. We all do. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be happy and accepting of ourselves all the time? If you figure it out, please let me know!

What I do know is that doing things that bring me joy helps bring that feeling of accomplishment, satisfaction, and self back into my life. It helps me find my balance. It helps me relax.

Summer's little guilty pleasures

pink flip flops

Finding out who you really are can be a difficult process. When you find that part of you that makes sense, hold on tight and let the good things take you on an amazing journey. Find those people that accept you for who you are. Being true to yourself and loving who you are is extremely important. We all lose ourselves sometimes. Just be sure to take time for you and find your way back!

FIND YOURSELF. LOVE YOURSELF. BE HAPPY.

Finding balance: How I get more out of my personal time

I’m a busy woman. I have a husband. I work a full time job, and I have a multitude of hobbies and interests. By the time dinner is done, there doesn’t seem to be much time left for ME. How do I find time for myself and all those things that I enjoy so much? I refuse to get up any earlier. I am so very NOT a morning person. Waking up earlier will not do anything for me. I’ve made multiple attempts, and it just doesn’t work for me. I can’t stay up too late either… 5:30 comes too quick as it is. I require a lot of sleep. When am I supposed to have time for my hubby, my job, housework, writing music, doing photo shoots, photo/video editing, blog posts, exercising, taking online classes, doing my craft projects, meeting with my girls…. Oh my gosh, just looking at the list here is stressing me out!

It is so hard for me to find balance!

I’ll admit, there used to be days that I didn’t do much of anything when I got home from work… at least nothing that requires much moving around. We all have those days. I’m just too tired. I’d sit on the couch and watch tv, or play games on my tablet. There I’d sit until bedtime. It still happens on occasion, but not nearly as often as it used to.

I found some motivation.

I want more out of life. I’m tired of spinning my wheels and seemingly not moving forward. In order for me to get more, I have to do more. That’s pretty obvious.

I started making to do lists. This worked… kind of. I had an impossibly unrealistic list of all the things I wanted to get done. I would do great at three or four, and then I would get sidetracked. At the end of the day, my list was still incredibly long. I was frustrated. All I could focus on was all the things I didn’t get done instead of the things I DID get done. It was so depressing. I decided to come up with a different angle…

Doing more example #1:

My friends talked me into take some free online classes. (My girls really are the best!) They have the best “sales pitch”! Honestly, I’m really excited about it. I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to do it before. After all, I love learning. I always have.

Summer is just around the corner. My daughter is getting married in August. I also have a class reunion coming up. I started up my treadmill routine again. I don’t need to lose weight, but I would like to tone up.

My solution to #1:

I can take my online classes while I workout. I use my tablet to take my classes, and I can still do my walking and my free weights all at the same time. I get around 45 minutes of exercise AND get my courses done. Success!

Doing more example #2:

Music is my passion. I love playing music… as in playing the piano, among other instruments. I love writing music. It relaxes me. It excites me. Music speaks to me.

I thoroughly enjoy photography. I love the challenge of that perfect shot. I have recently branched out into the video end of shooting too. I love the art of editing my photos and videos. (I really do enjoy not having to edit them at all though!)

My solution to #2:

I started a YouTube channel (thank you, my friends, for yet another suggestion), and have incorporated my music together with my videos and photos for the world to see. Not only is learning how to edit video interesting and challenging, but it has given me a different, eye opening perspective on my music, and how to meld the two together. It has also helped me to step out of my comfort zone. Brand new territory for me!

When I get home from work, dinner and chores are first priorities. If I do some preplanning, (think menus!), I can have dinner over, chores done, and dogs fed by 7:00. Then I go upstairs with my tablet, and start up the treadmill. I’m done with my online classes and my workout by 8:00. Next I go to my computer room and power up my computer. I get to work on my music and/or photography. By 9:30, I’m trying to button things up and start getting ready for bed. 10:00 is bedtime. (My schedule varies from day to day.)

My weekday schedule looks something like this:

Get organized!

This definitely isn’t an exact science, but the routine works well for me. When I try to stick with my schedule, I seem to get a lot accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. At the end of the day, I am satisfied with what I’ve done. That is honestly what makes this worthwhile to me… being happy with what I’ve done with my day.

 

My weekends vary a bit, but they usually look something like this:

Get more out of your weekend!

You may have noticed that I wake up pretty late on the weekend. Hey, I mentioned before that I’m not a morning person. It takes me a while to wake up and get ready to face the day!

This may all seem like a lot, but as I said before, it works for me. Yes, life happens, and things don’t always work out like I plan them to, but having the routine helps me stay on track. I get so much more done when I have at least an outline to go by. I may not get everything done on my schedule that I have planned, but it helps to keep me focused. Sometimes I set a timer. It is so easy for me to get side tracked. (Squirrel!)  My friends know all too well how distracted I can get. I find it embarrassing, but they find it hilarious.

 

Whichever way you decide to plan your time is fine… as long as it works for you! Make your list of things you want to get done and do it! It’s such a satisfying feeling when you reflect on your days and see all the things that have been accomplished.

 

Make the time you have work for you.  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish

Plan out your days and get more out of life. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

The importance of friends and a support system

I have spent the last few days in Havre, Montana for work. I was excited to come and see scenery I had never seen before. I brought my camera. I was also extremely anxious because, never having been to Montana before, I didn’t know what to expect. New area, new people… I pulled into my location with my stomach in knots. How was I going to get past my own social awkwardness and do what I came to do?  I took a deep breath, gathered my courage and off I went. I walked in with a smile on my face and introduced myself. Please, oh please, just let me make it through the day without feeling like an idiot.

These people are amazing. They put me at ease. They made me feel at home in minutes. There is a low key, homey feel to the area, and I love that everybody knows everybody. They check up on each other. They help each other out. They bring in doughnuts and pie… just because they feel like it. (Very delicious pie, I might add.)  I can honestly say that I have made friends here. It’s been 2 days, and I have friends in a state that I had never been to before Sunday afternoon. We swapped phone numbers, and I know I will actually call or text them soon. I will check in with them and make sure they’re doing okay. I know they will call me if they need my help. I am their support system. It feels great.

Having friends and a support system is so important. We all need help sometimes. We all need to rely on someone at some point. We need personal cheerleaders standing on the sidelines to boost us up. We need people to look us in the eye and tell us everything is going to be okay, no matter what the situation is.

I have goals… A lot of them. I let people know what my goals are. They need to know. They can’t support me and help me along if they don’t know what’s up.

Last summer I decided that I was going to try to exercise every day, try and eliminate the majority of sugar in my diet, and eat vegetarian for 30 days. This was a big challenge for me. I tend to be lazy when I get home from work. I adore sweets. I also really love bacon and sausage. I told my friends what I was going to do, and they helped me so much. They laughed at me and thought I was insane, (hey, that’s what friends are for!), but they helped me through every single day with my internal struggles. I seriously could not have done it without them. They brought in healthy, meatless snacks… and they encouraged me to get a fitbit. I did, and I love it. I love my friends for helping me reach my goals.

Be that friend who lifts another. Be the friend that can be relied upon. Be the one that says, “I know chocolate comes from the cacao tree, but that doesn’t make it a fruit, no matter how much you think it should”. Be the type of friend that you would want cheering YOU on. 

 

My love/hate relationship with credit cards

Once upon a time, I had credit cards… A LOT of credit cards. I had one for every store in town, plus the Costco card, several visas, and so on. I could get one, so why not? I used every single one when there was still month at the end of the money. The splurge for having a great day… It didn’t take long until not only was our income not quite enough, then it became MUCH less than enough, with the credit card payments added in. It’s the worst feeling in the world… when you have to decide which bills are going to be lucky enough to get paid that month. Should I pay my car insurance or buy groceries? That’s when the depression sets in, and the stress and worry takes over.

Fast forward several years, and my credit cards are finally all paid off, thanks to some very creative financial means. I have closed several of my credit card accounts. I want to close them all, honestly. They’re nothing but trouble for me.

This is where my love/hate relationship comes into play. Credit cards have their place, and there are so many things in our lives that require one… rental cars, hotels, online shopping, among a variety of others. My problem, however, is that I have a very hard time finding balance when using them. I have them stashed in a secret place in my home. This way there is no way for temptation when I am in town. Online is a whole different thing entirely. I have given myself an allowance every month. I got a prepaid visa credit card from Walmart.  This card gives me peace of mind when I shop online, and doesn’t allow me to go over my budget. Along with that, if by chance my information gets stolen, there are limited funds available. It depends on which card you choose, but, the one I chose has a $3 monthly fee, along with a $3 fee when you have funds added. For me, $6/month is a small price to pay for piece of mind and control of my spending. My address is assigned to the card, so any online purchases are possible, unlike prepaid visa gift cards.

The one thing that my husband talked me into was the Amazon rewards credit card. I was hesitant. I didn’t want another credit card. I made a deal with him. We were going to be making a larger purchase on Amazon, and getting this card would not only give us $70 off that large purchase, but also pay us 5% back. If I use it for gas, I get 3% back. Anything else, I get 1%. That was hard to pass up. I closed several of my other credit card accounts to offset this one. Some say that closing accounts can damage your credit score. Some say that it doesn’t. I really don’t care either way. Honestly, I’m not planning on making any big purchases for at least the next 5 years, so I’d rather close them, and build my credit back up. I don’t intend to use it for everything. I will however, use it for my Amazon and gas purchases. I get points that I can use on Amazon on the next billing cycle. walmart-moneycard-preferred FREE MONEY! I’ll make it a point to pay that credit card every week, if it has been used. If I don’t have the money in my account to pay cash, I won’t buy it. Period.

I get an offer to open an account at every store I go to.  I’ll save money, they say. As hard as it is for me to say no when they dangle the carrot of savings in front of me, I simply say, “No thanks. I get in too much trouble that way”. They smile knowingly, and then the little impulsive, hazardous moment passes. Whew!

What it comes down to is this…  If you have credit cards, that, in itself isn’t bad. When they start to become a habit and a necessity, that’s when problems start to arise. I urge you to take a step back and really look at your financial habits. See if there’s an alternative method that can better your financial future.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE of your financial future.  Make it work for you!