Show Me The Money 2

Good evening, Dear Reader. And it is…a good evening, right? You slept in a bed under a roof. You could have had breakfast, or maybe you actually did. You put on clean clothes – maybe. You picked up your phone or logged into some device to read this. In other words, you had choices, and that’s my point. If you have a job that pays (in the U.S.A.) $17+ an hour, you are making a living wage. If you have a running vehicle, a place to live, and food in your belly, you have more than 80% of the 7+Billion people on the planet. Stop being such a sourpuss.

We are continuing our Things To Let Go Of series, kicking off the new year with Bad Money Habits. If you want to go back to the beginning, click here. We started off with hitting on debt reduction and honestly, to recap, reducing debt (in theory) is simple. Reduce expenses, increase revenue. Don’t accumulate any more debt until you comfortably can pay for it. I say it is simple in theory because it really is nothing more than basic math. But, most of us got into debt or can’t save effectively because of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences surrounding money in the first place. I don’t have time to address that today – the entire first part of my blogging back in 2011-2015 was about getting out of the consumer mindset. You can go back to those, or really…watch this documentary and start reading my favorite blogger, Joshua Becker from start to present. I, literally, can not thank this man enough for getting me on my road to rational minimalism.

Managing money is easy. Managing our emotions about money is…well…a bit more complicated.

But. As promised…I’m moving into my ‘how to’ guide for raising your credit score. Grab a drink and settle in. I’m going to tell you how I raised mine from 480 to 720 in a little over 2 years.

  1. Get your reports. You are entitled to one free credit report from all three agencies one time a year. To monitor for identity theft or weird things on my credit, I don’t get all three of mine at once. I order TransUnion in January, Experian in April, and Equifax in November. That way, if something odd happens to appear, I’m not waiting an entire year to find out. I also subscribe to Credit Karma (and I look at that thing once a day, sometimes two because I’m a bit retentive.) Go on…put it on your calendar with a yearly reminder. Then mosey on over to this site and get your free report. Once you have your report, you’ll be able to list all your debt and decide what debt storm to use as I mentioned here to pay it off. You will also look for things that do not belong to you. I found a collection from Go Daddy on mine and I was able to dispute it (you can easily do this yourself, do not pay someone to do it for you) and start working with your creditors to move payment dates or to lower your interest. I recommend checking out this site for more detailed information.
  2. On-time, every time. I mentioned this in my last post, but I can not stress this enough. Late payments are a detriment to your score. A late payment on your mortgage can put a ding there that leaves quite a scar for a bit. If your payments fall in odd places (like three payments due on the 13th, but you don’t get paid until the 15th), then call your creditors and ask them if they will move your payment to another day (like the 16th, in this example). Some of them will. If they won’t, then sell a bunch of crap you no longer need or get a second job and put a month’s worth of living expenses into your account so, essentially, you are ‘ahead’ in the math game.
  3. Join a credit union with a ‘credit builder’ program. If you are local to SW Missouri (417-Land) I recommend this one or this one. Why a credit union (CU)? CUs are nonprofit organizations and many of them have financial literacy (financial wellness) programs to help people restore their credit. If yours does, then get on a first-name basis with the person in charge of that program. Use every resource and every piece of advice they give you. I mean, I like Dave Ramsey – I’ve seen him live and I agree with a lot of his methods – but I don’t idolize him. And I don’t follow 80% of his advice. So, if you drink his kool-aid…then you’re not gonna like the rest of what I’m going to tell you. 
  4. Get a ‘Secured Credit Card’ (SCC). Remember my ’emergency fund’ I mentioned last time? I took my emergency fund and applied for an SCC with it. An SCC is just that…secured. This means you have to give them YOUR money to ‘secure’ that card. I don’t have space to explain it, but you can read about it here. So. I got my SCC with my $1500 and it DOES function as my emergency fund 99.9% of the time. The other part of the time? I use it wisely to play a game. I use it to buy gas and pay for anything I buy online. NOW…I don’t buy things I don’t already have the money for – I just use the SCC because it is more secure for online purchases than using a debit card. Anything I would normally buy anyway (Netflix, gas, Spotify, toilet paper, dishsoap) is set up to be ‘charged’ on my card. Then I…
  5. Play the game. I pay for some of the expenses that hit every week. So, if my Netflix ($12) and Spotify ($10) hit my SCC on Tuesday, and I buy TP and Dawn at Walmart.com, I pay those charges on Friday so a payment is hitting my card every single week (Newsflash: You can pay your credit card bills more than once a month). Now…here’s where the game comes into play. Find out when your actual payment is due (Let’s say it’s due on the 20th), figure out what 30% of your credit limit is (Let’s say it is $300), and find out when the Credit Union is going to report to the credit agencies (Let’s say they report on the 24th). Armed with this information…make the MINIMUM payment due on or right before the due date (In our scenario – the 20th). Make sure you have JUST UNDER the 30% left on the day they report to the credit agency (I’ll usually pay my Verizon bill on the 21st and get gas so that I’m right under BUT NOT OVER that 30% of credit limit threshold). Then, on the first of the month, I pay the balance in full and start the clock for the next month. That seems complicated now that I type it out, so I recommend the video on this page.
  6. Diversify your debt. You’re about to see why I go off the rails when it comes to Dave Ramsey’s advice. I use debt and credit to my advantage and I use it wisely. I do not subscribe to the ‘have no debt’ and we may not agree here. You do you. But, back to my point on diversified debt. You’ll need an installment loan (i.e. Car loan, student loans, etc.), a revolving credit line (I have my SCC, a store card, and a credit card for a home improvement store – which comes in handy when remodeling), and finally, a mortgage loan THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. I know my credit score will most likely not increase much more than where it is now until I add a mortgage to my list of creditors. I am okay with this. A note if you are renting: See if you can talk your rental agency/landlord into using a service that reports to the credit bureaus. (Word of caution: Now you’ll be on the hook to pay rent on time so DO THAT!). Lastly, Experian will do a ‘boost’ a few times a year and bring in things like your cell phone company and some utility agencies. I share a home with a relative. The mortgage loan is in her name, but my name is on all the other expenses (Cable, utilities, etc.). I use the Experian boost (It’s free!) once a year. This is only effective if you pay those bills on time. You don’t want bad stuff hitting your credit reports.

    So yeah. That’s it really. I think I mentioned that I am working on getting my student loan debt down to 50% of what is owed over the next ten years. Why just 50%? Because I’ve worked with my loan company to get on a specific repayment plan that allows for student loan forgiveness after on-time payments over so many years. To be transparent, I wouldn’t be mad if Biden and his administration got their shit together to forgive student loan debt BUT I do understand that I made the decision to go to school and I made the decision to take on debt related to that endeavor. I own all of that responsibility. But, since most of what would be left would be interest anyway so I can sleep at night knowing I paid what I borrowed. In other words…I don’t feel guilty about using the tools at my disposal when it comes to paying down that debt.

    Notice we still haven’t talked about budgets. We’ll do that next time. Want a head start? Okay, then. Stop buying shit you don’t need and start paying for the shit you already bought. That doesn’t seem too hard to understand, but then again, I’m an INTJ so I can be a bit abbrasive. You want someone nicer to hold your hand through all of that? Then go on down to that Credit Union. They’ll even give you a lolipop. Ain’t that sweet?


    That’s all I’ve got today. I don’t even have a really good song that ties into this post at all, so how about I just leave you with this one: Wind & SkyBrandon Moore is a local singer/songwriter in my hometown and just a f*cking good human. You can’t help but smile in his presence. Wind & Sky is one of my absolute favorite songs on the planet. I want it played on loop at my funeral, I like it that much. You’re welcome.

Show Me The Money

You remember that quote, right? Please, for the love of all things good and holy do not tell me I’m so old that you don’t remember that quote, Dear Reader. I’ve been searching YouTube for ideas to share with you on this snowy day and I have to admit…I’m a bit overwhelmed. There is SO MUCH to tell you that I’m SO HAPPY this is a ‘series’ because this post would be a million words long if I tried to cram it into one piece. It reminds me, though, of my journalism days – researching theories and stories, finding sources to back up my words. All that jazz. The cool thing is though…this isn’t a journalism story so I can be as biased and opinionated as I want. And you know that rings my bell – Amiright?

Anyway, we are kicking 2022 off with the list I mentioned here, starting with Bad Money Habits. I beg your pardon? I remember specifically telling you that we would not cover the list in any particular order, so that’s where we are going to start. My blog. My rules.

I must begin by being super transparent, though. First, even as a rational minimalist, I would never call myself ‘cheap’. I like nice things just like anyone else, but since I embraced this lifestyle about ten years ago, I would describe myself as more of a quality over quantity kind of gal. In fact, embarrassingly, I spend a huge chunk of my “entertainment budget” on massage therapy and expensive facial products. I recently spent more money on a bottle of perfume than I’ve spent on perfume entirely in the last decade. I traded my Buick for a Subaru. I mean, I have upgraded considerably, but I don’t feel like I overspend or waste money. Every expense comes out of a line item on the budget. No money? No buying.

Secondly, just two short years ago my credit score was 480. Yup. I kinda take responsibility for that. I mean, you have to work really hard to NOT pay your bills to sink that low. However, let me also put this out there: I trusted someone else to pay the bills. In other words, I was the paycheck, he was the ‘money manager’ – and well, he sucked at it. It was until the “money manager” walked out on me did I realize just what a mess he’d made. I was broke. I was jobless. I was fucked. But I take full responsibility for my part of this problem.

Lastly, I’m well-educated and I have white privilege going for me. I do not take this for granted and never have at any point in my life. As long as you keep that in mind, we will be better able to understand one another. The best thing that ever happened to me was having the opportunity to take a position with a local nonprofit where my fancy title was “Director of Financial Stability”. In this role, I taught people about managing money and working with a personal budget. Funny thing, though? The salary wasn’t even a living wage. I was, literally, employed and teaching other people about managing money while my child was enrolled in the free lunch program at school and we were getting all his clothes free from the PTA clothing bank. Ironic how the Universe works, huh? With all the grit and gratitude I could muster, I decided that was bullshit. I got up, dusted off, and moved on – making significant changes as I did it.

So, together, we are letting go of many things this year as I wrote about here. We are starting with my financial story and how I got myself out of a big mess. This transparency and advice will hopefully enable you to let go of Bad Money Habits. Don’t worry. This topic is a big animal. And how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Keep that in mind.

We are going to start with the basics today. So. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let me share with you my fuck ups and my comebacks in hopes you can use my example to let go of your bad habits.

  1. Mind your money. That image above really says it all. Right now you may feel out of control because of where you are financially. But minding your money involves several steps, and the most important of all of them is Do. Not. Let. Anyone. Else. Have. Complete. Control. Over. Your. Finances. In other words, Your money, your responsibilty. Since the majority of you, Dear Readers, are women, I recommend a book by Suze Orman (love her or hate her, doesn’t matter) called “Women & Money”. Find it used. Buy it new. Get it from the library. Listen to the audiobook. I have no attachment to how you get ahold of it – just get it. Men, same goes for you. You can’t bitch about the fact that your wife spends spends spends if you don’t know where the money is going. I also recommend watching videos or reading books about money every day (I’ll post some of my favorites at the end of this series). As Stephen Covey said “Begin with the end in mind”. By reading or watching videos about managing money and debt, it keeps your thoughts in the end zone.
  2. Set up an emergency fund. After you decide to take control of your finances, this is THE first step. I don’t care what anyone else says to you…this is your first step. According to Forbes, the U.S. poverty rate nationally is 13.4%. This means that 13.4% of the national population lives below the poverty line. Over 70% of Americans would be financially devasted if faced with a $400 or more emergency (Like, um, a refrigerator dropping dead or having to buy two new tires for the only car used to get you to and from work). Ideally, your emergency fund should equal $1,000 for the first person in your home and an additional $500 for any others. So, for me and my son that would be $1,500. I saved $2,000 first and squirrelled it away in our emergency fund (Sorta…more to come on that). Again, emergencies are new tires, new car batteries, a new refrigerator when the other one breaks down, etc. etc. Emergencies are not that trip to Disneyland, kayaks or skis, roller skates, a down payment on a boat, etc. You get that, right? To be brutual…not having an emergency fund makes you prime prey for predatory lenders. Let’s not feed them anymore. (I love this organization. Check it out.)
  3. Choose your storm and attack your debt. List out all of your debts (include those in collections). List them by columns: Creditor name, total owed, monthly payment, and interest rate. Choose a Debt Reduction Storm: Either the Snowball method or the Avalanche method attack the debt. Compare them. (Here’s a new one for you: The Debt Tornado. Hmmm.) I personally used the Snowball method because I needed instant satisfaction and enpowering feelings of crossing the debt off the list, but in hindsight, I personally think the Avalanche method is more effective and smarter. With that method you spend less on interest even though it takes longer to cross the debt off the list as paid. (Those purple words lead you to links to explain those methods in depth.) In terms of those accounts in collections…well…we will touch on those in another post. If that makes you nervous, maybe this will help: Those accounts have already fucked with your credit score. They can’t hurt you anymore now so we will worry about them later. (One elephant. Tiny bites. Got it?) *Side note…I’m using the Avalanche method now with my student loans – which is the only debt I really have.
  4. Pay on time, every time. Remember, we are on a journey that includes reducing debt AND raising your credit score (not one then the other…). With your debts listed and a pay-down storm-of-choice method chosen, I can’t stress paying your bills on time, every time enough. This is the number one way to get that credit score moving in the positive direction and even though it will take some time to move the needle, it’s the ONLY way to move the needle at the moment. Credit cards are the most damaging to your budget and to your credit score, so make sure you pay them first, then your vehicles, then your cell phone (right?? who knew) then your mortgage/rent. This is a game and the game is won by the first person who beats everyone else to the finish line. In this case, credit card companies are used to people like you and so are cell phone companies (Fuck you, Verizon. Really). They are used to people not paying so they have incredibly high late payment fees and interest. They also report to credit bureaus faster than any other creditors. They know how to win by taking your money and charging you more for the priviledge of paying late, so beat them at their own game. Pay the minimum payments on all your debt FOR NOW until you build up your emergency fund…but pay that ON TIME. Mortgage and vehicles come next. Rent…well…it takes three months for them to evict you and even though there is a late payment fee most likely…it’s low AND eviction is costly for the rental company. In fact, most of rental agencies do not report to the credit bureaus unless you go into collection. My advice? Communicate and negotiate with all your creditors. Play by their rules – afterall, you agreed to them – but get better at the game. Again, always pay credit cards first. Period. Also…about those cards…do not close them (we will get to that later) but also, do not use them anymore for now. (We will discuss responsible use of credit much later in the series). When it comes to paying your bills on time, I don’t recommend automation (auto bill pay) unless you are just forgetful as hell. I think you need to LOOK at your finances every month (I look at mine Every. Single. Day – sometimes more than once. Yes, OCD. So? That’s how I caught two charges for Wal-Mart around Christmas that I didn’t make, so there). If the payments all fall around the same time each month, and it is difficult for you financially, try asking the creditor if they’ll move the payment. For example, I get paid on the 15th and the 30th of the month. I have half my bills due on the 1st and the other half on the 16th. That way I’m not hit with a huge group of expenses all at once and it helps with my forcasting (see…no words on budgeting just yet…). This video explains the game. Watch it.
  5. Make more, spend less. You notice I STILL haven’t even mentioned a budget yet, right? That’s because budgets don’t work if your expenses are more than your income. My favorite Dave Ramsey quote is “You can’t outearn foolishness.” Your days of spending more than you earn are over. Remember that rather expensive MBA degree I have? It comes in handy sometimes. In business when things are tight, the first things companies do: Decrease overhead (fire people, sell assets, etc) or they increase revenue (get more clients, sell more to people). Successful companies do both at the same time. I worked for a nationally recognized nonprofit when COVID first hit. Sadly, in July of 2020, 23 of my favorite people lost their jobs due to a ‘reduction in force’ AND the organization sold its main headquarter’s building going to a ‘Virtual First Workforce’ plan (which is just a fancy way of saying everyone is working from home now). BUT, they also dumped a ton of money into digital marketing which grossed 48 MILLION that year – the best year ever in fundraising revenue and it was during a global pandemic. Smart. Very smart. You need to do the same thing. Decrease expenses AND increase revenue. So, yeah. You’ll need another job – I recommend a side hustle. I was fortunate that I had been a licensed massage therapist before I got my MBA. So, I relicensed and went to work a few evenings and weekends a month making about $30 (pay+gratuities) an hour. Also…here’s where I piss you off…you can only make it so far with canceling cable and cutting out lattes. Your biggest expenses are: Housing (2800+ square foot homes for three people? Hmmm), Big Person toys (campers, beach front condos or timeshares, boats, four wheelers, etc.) and Vehicles ($50,000 Suburbans? You know there are people in who under bridges, right?). That said, I didn’t go without wine or streaming services during the leanest of times. Yeah, I may have purchased cheaper wine…and only had one streaming service, but come on. If HBOMax is your only source of entertainment (because you aren’t going to the movies right now…) then don’t cut it. I also don’t mess around with people’s cigarette/drinking habits or tithing – because I know it’s not an argument I’m going to win. My point is: No one wants you to be a grouchy asshole because you have nothing pleasureable in your life. But that boat? You aren’t going to have time to use it or maintain it because of your second job – so sell it. Buy one later if you can afford it, but for now…nope. FB Marketplace the shit out of it and any thing else you no longer need. There will always be another day to rent a kayak. My favorite minimalist quote is “You don’t have to organize the things you don’t own.”

I have so much more to tell you and to recommend to you, but it will all come with time. Remember, we’ve got a game plan, and this month’s plan is to help you let go of BAD MONEY HABITS. These first few tips will get you started.

In closing, I want to emphasize this: Money can be scary for some of you. The scarcity mentality is a real thing and shame around money doesn’t lend itself (puns are fun!) to getting you into a mindset of success. Face that fear. Everyone on the planet has made a mistake they are ashamed of (poor financial decisions, marriages, that last donut…) so get up, dust off, move on. Remember our 2022 motto?

Chin up, tits out. You got this.

Oh! I almost forgot your song. But I didn’t. I can almost visualize the pole dancers every time I hear this song. And I’m doing this for you, Dear Reader, because I can’t tell you how much I loathe Pink Floyd. You’re welcome.

The Pluviophile in Me

You’re wondering what a “Pluviophile” is, aren’t you? No worries. It’s not bad. A pluviophile (n) is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. And that’s not just a random opening sentence for this post. It’s part of the subject matter. Let’s carry on, shall we?

But, Dear Reader. before we get started, I just have to say: I don’t know which one of you sent this freezing cold weather down my way, but you can take it back now. Two days of temps in the low 20s is enough. I can’t get my steps in and that’s wreaking havoc on my HSA bonus money. So. Enough already.

I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days. You’ve been writing in and telling me I’m making a difference. I’m meeting new people who are saying “Hey – you’re that blogger! I love your blog!” and I’ve been pleased to see you are clicking the links I provide – even if my taste in music isn’t all that great! I reached over 12K visits on this site last week and while I may not be as popular as some, I am grateful that you are here with me. I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal anyway, so thank you. Thank you for being here with me on this journey.

As I stated a few posts back, my journey started in 2011 when I made my first post. The process all started when I read a blog by Josh Becker and then started following the likes of Courtney Carver and Adam Baker. And, for Heaven’s sake, let’s not forget Joshua, Ryan and Leo. In 2015 I took a break from writing. To be honest, my life was falling apart and I just didn’t feel like being chipper, if you know what I mean. I felt I didn’t have anything to offer you anyway since I was such a shitshow and therefore, I “disappeared”.

Me, launching my blog in 2011

I reemerged in 2020 as the shitstorm was beginning to dissipate. I found my focus on simplicity to be a bit different than before, though. Life’s experiences had given me several “opportunities” to let go – sometimes with the kicking of legs and gnashing of teeth. While my life was still about keeping material possessions at a minimum, I’d come out of my cocoon with ideas about how to release mental and emotional clutter (which I think adds to the ‘physical’ clutter) and I wanted to share that story.

As I looked over the posts of the last twelve months, I noticed some themes. First, I noticed there was really no theme at all. HA! I just wrote to clear my head. My ‘creepy online diary’ was a saving grace through so many life events – breakups, reunions, more breakups, death of beloved friends, job changes. I also noticed statistical trends (that’s the data analyst in me) and paid attention to the posts that received the most likes, shares, etc. Even when I deleted my personal Facebook account, the numbers grew – proving that the Universe and my friends were on board with what I was doing.

Today’s post isn’t so much about what I have to share, but more about what you can expect from me in 2022. Don’t worry – I’ll still be your foul-mouthed little friend from small-town Missouri, but I think I’ll be less bitter about it. I recently connected with someone from my past and he’s helped me to realize that small-town life isn’t so bad and the collective experiences of both our lives led us to this very moment – which frankly, is quite delightful. Last night I was surrounded by a few of my very favorite humans, talking smack and tasting bourbon…and I was so completely overwhelmed by how loved I felt in that moment that I broke down in tears when I was finally back at home alone. I can’t believe I have come this far in such a relatively short amount of time, but as I’ve said before…I’ve got grit. The last month has given me a huge sense of pride when I think of all I’ve survived the last five years – even when I felt I couldn’t face another day – because I get to stand in the moments now with people who truly love and support me. And while I love the rain…I am so very grateful I made it through the storm.

So, to bring this all around, I just want to tell you what you can expect from me – mostly so you can hold me accountable but also so you can plan ahead. There may be a random post here and there when my brain won’t shut off and those might be completely unrelated to the monthly theme – but we, together, are going to cover (in no particular order…)

Ten Things To Let Go Of In 2022

  1. The Illusion of Control
  2. Fear Of The Future
  3. The Need For “More”
  4. “Clutter” In All Forms
  5. Guilt About Letting Go
  6. “Frogs” You Haven’t Eaten
  7. Bad Money Habits
  8. Toxic Relationships
  9. Saying “Yes” To Everything
  10. Last Year’s Goals

I’m doing this so that I can be more organized with my thoughts and posts but also because I really, really, really (too many reallys?) want to work on my novel. Maybe with a little organization and planning for this blog, I can do just that.

So, before we launch into all of this, can I ask you to do me a few favors, please? I have some assignments for you. Grab a drink. Settle in. Let’s get to work.

Assignment 1: Define “F*ck Budget”. We are going to be spending a lot of time talking about our F*ck Budget this year. A F*ck Budget includes anything that requires your time, money, or energy. Please take 15 minutes of your week and watch this TedTalk so that you understand where I’m coming from when I mention your “F*ck Budget”. It’s important.

Assignment 2: Make A Vision Board. Back in August, I started working with a Life Coach and my first assignment was to make a list of all the important things I wanted for my life. That became a ‘Wish List’ and then grew into a vision board. If you don’t know how to create a vision board – or even what that is – here’s a link that explains it. To be clear – it does not have to be fancy or overwhelming. Mine isn’t.

Assignment 3: Watch “I’m Fine, Thanks!” – This is a short one-hour documentary that I watch EVERY YEAR in January. I got a sneak peek during its launch phase in 2011 when I donated to their Kickstarter campaign. Now, it’s on Amazon Prime, YouTube TV, and possibly Apple iTunes. A quick little search located free versions on PlutoTV and Tubi. It may be on other platforms, so if you can find it – please watch it. It will help set the pace for us as we enter this year.

Assignment 4: Send me your ideas. You can put them in the comments below, or post them on my FB page. What do you want to let go of in 2022? Material stuff? Anger? Scarcity mentality? What? I’m all ‘ears’ and I’m here to help. (I’m not a therapist – I’m just a blogger – but I feel like this blog has turned into a place where we can all open up and be real with each other.) Aren’t you tired of the bullshit life has convinced you to put up with? I know I am.

And I feel like I owe you a special THANKS. As much as I loathe social media, y’all are doing a fantastic job getting the word out for me. I really appreciate it and please feel free to continue doing it. Share my posts unabashedly!

As always, I’m leaving you with a song. It’s old and cheesy, and you’re welcome. Have a great week, Dear Reader. I’ll see you over the weekend.

The Privilege Of Minimalism

This month I, along with friends, have culled through excess belongings and started the process of decluttering. Having watched the new documentary from The Minimalists: Less Is Now, we all embarked on the game during January. Some of us want to continue through February, and I say, “Go for it.” I do this kind of thing regularly, so I’ve got a couple of stops to make before I’m in a place where I feel free of the clutter:

  • Another round through my son’s bedroom
  • Another trip through my closet
  • The ever-present crap in the garage

And while I know this was a needed task, something was nagging at me from day one.

I’ll dive right in and ask: Is Minimalism classist? Right now, the buzzword is privileged – rightly so – and it struck me, during a conversation at work (I serve on the DE&I Council), that one of the ways my privilege as an educated white female manifests is in the choices I have. I don’t have to keep that coffee cup because I can simply go buy another one if the one I did keep breaks. I can get rid of those clothes that don’t fit or are outdated because I have the money to buy a dress should I need one.

Stephanie Ladd, a writer, and social justice advocate writes about the documentary on her blog. 

In one scene, Joshua Fields Millburn reads a poem he wrote, talking about the things he needed to buy when he moved. He listed off things that I would never have dreamed of affording. Things that seemed ridiculous, as a poor person, to even consider purchasing. I’d never stepped foot into an IKEA. I’d never known rugs for decoration. Rugs were to keep feet warm if I was lucky enough to find someone who could give me one they no longer used. But there he stood, complaining about the ability, the privilege, to buy these things.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re confused by my sudden turn on minimalism. Rest assured, my life is less about minimalism and more about simplicity. I get that I’m not always frugal, and I spend money on completely unnecessary things. But these things (my Freshly subscription, my express delivery membership on Instacart, my access to Amazon Prime two day shipping) are not about frugality – they are about freeing up something more valuable to me than money: Time.

Wow. As I re-read that last sentence I’m ashamed. What a fucking elitist thing to say. Right? I’m not proud of this revelation. I am, however, more cognisant of it.

I know. I’m struggling with this because there was a time – not so long ago – that I was on food stamps. Here I sat with two graduate degrees in a situation where I couldn’t find a job in my hometown that paid a living wage. There were just more candidates than positions available. When I finally landed a full-time job with a local non-profit, it was still less than half what I was making when I moved from Michigan. I was grateful for the job I had, but I also needed a second job to make ends meet. I had separated from my husband and was juggling childcare expenses and basic needs while he decided when, and if, he’d provide any support. To say I was living paycheck to paycheck was generous. I was usually behind on some bill. It was a tough time mentally and emotionally for me. I was a single mom with most of the responsibility (my ex sees his son four days a month), and while I would not trade that for anything, the stress was overwhelming.

I say this because, yes, I agree with Ladd. Minimalism is classist. Consumerism preys on the poor (in spirit and in the pocketbook sense), and while none of my friends are hoarders by any stretch, I think we could all agree that we buy shit we don’t need, but want, all the time. And I’m not sure that’s bad – I buy things I want, too – I just wonder if it could be considerably different. 

I think it can be considerably different. And I want to share my thoughts on this:

1) Buy stuff you want. Seriously. I just ask you to consider this: How much is enough? I have petty discussions with my guy all the time because he takes in pyrex dishes like an old lady takes in stray cats. I simply do not understand it (because I don’t like to cook), and I don’t have to understand it. I have an affinity for glass storage containers and colored pencils. What can I say? But, I am more mindful of this now since January is coming to a close, and I plan to make better choices. For example, my employer loves their brand (and I do, too!), but there are just so many ‘free t-shirts’ I want the responsibility of washing. I have declined ‘swag’ before, and I have the choice to do it again.

2) Consider the ‘energy-exchange’ ratio for items you want. Every purchase you make – whether on Fakebook Marketplace, thrift stores, or brand-spankin’ new from Amazon equates to TIME. When you see that new television with all the bells and whistles, do the math. How many hours of your life will you have to work to pay for that tv? I did this recently and decided that energy was better spent taking a much-needed vacation. In fact, the television costs more than the lodging for the week. And I hardly ever watch tv, so why do I need a bigger one? I don’t. No one ever needs a bigger television, in my opinion.

3) Ask yourself how your money can be better invested. What else can I afford if I don’t buy that thing? Turns out when you stop spending money on stuff that will eventually end up at Goodwill or in an estate sale you have money to support a local school, provide food for those facing food insecurity, taking a short vacation, learning a new skill, or building an emergency fund. I’m not telling you to stop your latte habit. No one ever stops their latte habit. I’m asking you to stop your mindless spending. There’s a difference.

So, essentially, I agree with Ladd. Minimalism is elitist. The movement assumes people have choices. And yet, I support it. I support it because I want quality over quantity. I want to help my neighbors. I want to support my kid’s school. I want to spend my weekends blogging and figuring out Jake and Delany’s fate as my novel unfolds instead of organizing and cleaning. I want to take vacations that include sun and sand with my child instead of planting my ass on a sofa in front of a 60-inch smart tv. I’m a contradiction – I get it. I never claimed to have all the answers.

I guess, in closing, I never really considered (sadly, until I was throwing food away) I support a movement that may be a tad bit snooty. I promise you…people on food stamps don’t throw food away. I know because I was one of them. My brief three-month dive into the world of public assistance was enough for me to understand the lack of choices many face in our country. I don’t want to embrace minimalism to save money for a higher quality rug for my floor. I want to embrace minimalism to build my emergency fund without having to get a second job to do so and to help my community when I feel led to do it.

I wish I had the answers. I don’t. All I can do is live by example. I am not responsible for how many pyrex dishes someone owns or the collection of craft supplies owned by another. I am only accountable for myself and the choices I make. And I make bad choices sometimes, as does everyone. Whisky, anyone?

So – what do you think? If you accepted my challenge back on January 1st, did you learn anything along the journey? As you were discarding stuff without lids and expired OTC medicines and paperwork and broken toys and…and…and…(fill in the blanks)…did you ask yourself why you had been holding on to all of this? I did, and I realized my brief stint in poverty was enough to get me there. It wasn’t pretty to come to this conclusion, but I arrived. And I’m better for it.

As always, here’s your song. I’m a huge fan of Jason Isbell and this is one of many I listen to over and over again. Have a great week, dear reader, and consider yourself hugged.

Change in the Heartland

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So, it has been awhile, has it not?  I have no real excuse other than I’ve strayed from my simple life. I took on too much responsibility, took in too many items because the blank spaces needed to be filled, and all that left me shaking my head in dismay. “Freedom,” my soul whispered. “Find your freedom.”

Then, out of the blue, my husband begins to talk about change. Consider selling everything. Do something totally radical. Why? I asked. “Because we can.” he said.

Because we can. Because we can. Because we can. Because we can!

You know, I’ve been in the business field for a long time. Two graduate degrees and management theories galore to prove it. I know a business can succeed if they base decisions on values; if they have a mission / vision statement. Why can’t people have those to?

We got to work sorting out the values we hold dear: Simplicity, Knowledge, Experiences, Financial Freedom, Creative (Artistic) Expression. We began thinking about the most important ‘job’ we have: To raise our son.

The problem isn’t that we didn’t know these things. The problem is that we have allowed other ‘stuff’ to creep into our life preventing us from focusing on our values and truly giving our son a life for which he will look back and, hopefully, be grateful.

So, join me again, on a journey. A journey to create the life we’ve wanted. A journey to enable us to place a higher priority on those values we cherish and to spend time with the one we hold dear.

Stay tuned for some radical, epic activity.

Another Matter of the Heart

There’s a story I don’t share much. I allude to its content from time to time, but I don’t really go into detail. I don’t go into detail for several reasons such as:

1) Its content is not something by which I want to be defined.

2) After all this time, I try to tell a new story.

3) If I don’t discuss it, it won’t hurt as much.

However, I realize after eight years the subject does define me, to a point. It allows me to not only tell a new story, but to change my entire value system. And, while time does heal pain, the void is never really filled so it doesn’t really matter if I talk about it or not.

Tomorrow marks the eighth year I have lived without my only sibling. A young man with a seven-month old son left the world at the age of 27, suddenly without much warning. The one person I was to tease throughout my entire life. The one with whom I was to discuss matters regarding our parents’ health. The one I would leave my child to if something terrible happened to me first. In just one day I went from being someone’s sister to being an only child. It crippled me emotionally for nearly half a decade.

The details of the ‘old’ story and how this happened are not really necessary here. What does matter, however, is how life’s events are meant to teach us valuable life-altering lessons.

Lessons like…

1) Relationships and family are more important than work.

2) Saving for a rainy day is important.

3) When someone is in need, time is of the essence.

You see, I didn’t get on a plane from Connecticut to Missouri fast enough. I didn’t do it because I was really busy with work…I didn’t have a dime in my savings account…I thought it was a simple stomach ache and that was not important enough for me to fly clear across the country. Between the time I got the “You need to come home” call and the time I actually arrived, my brother had slipped into a place from where he would never come back. I never got to say goodbye. And that haunted me for many, many years.

It also changed me. It changed me in so many ways that I wish I could go back to those people who angered me with their “There is a gift in this tragedy” statement. I would say to them “You were right”. Because, folks, why else must we endure such pain if not for growth?

So, how did this change me? How did I grow?

Nobody’s work is more important than family. I live by this in my job now and promote this value to those I supervise and with whom I work. I also remind my superiors from time to time that family is a priority for me. I’ve quit ‘dream jobs’ to be with my family. It isn’t hard to make decisions when you live your values.

Buying useless crap takes valuable resources away from you. When I lived in New England, I lived in a house I really could not afford and bought items for this house I really, really, really could not afford. So, when I got the call my first thought was “Where the hell am I going to get $900 to fly to Missouri?“. Eight years later, I can tell you with all truth and honesty: I think of that moment whenever I am about to buy something major that would deplete my savings account. It has stopped me many times from buying something I do not need.

Don’t ignore your intuition. When a friend is in need, today is the day to pick up the phone. Today is the day to stop what you are doing and write that note. Not tomorrow, not next week, and certainly not ‘not ever’. I knew something was wrong on that Friday. I should have called home that day. Instead, I waited nearly 36 hours for my father to call me…and another 12 hours to arrive at the hospital. I think Facebook is a wonderful place to get information. It is not a wonderful place to show someone how much you care.

What does this have to do with simplicity?

I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Except that this event, along with a few others, led me to my decision to stop working so much, quit buying so much, and take the time to sit on a blanket in the yard watching a storm roll in last night with my son instead of washing dishes.

Every one of my ‘simplicity’ heroes has a similar story. An ‘Ah-Ha’ moment, if you will. What’s your old story and how did it help create a new story? Are you a ‘simplicity-minded’ soul and if so, how did you arrive here? Are you in the midst of your own painful life event that has given you pause? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy weekend!

PS…I’m giving my dear friend and editor time off to deal with her own set of priorities and family issues. If the blog is a complete grammatical mess – I take full responsibility.

Six Steps to Cleaning Closets: Doing the March Challenge!

We are a week into the March Challenge and I just want to say a few things about over-consumption of clothing. The truth is, we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time. When I first read this, I tested it. I brought out my seasonal clothes, hung everything on white hangers (the infancy stages, mind you, of my infamous ‘white hanger theory’). When I wore an item, I hung it on a colored hanger. Then, at the end of the season, I took note of everything still left on white hangers. I realized I didn’t wear these clothes all season (and there was A LOT!)…so out they went. Now, I do a version of the white hanger theory twice a year. Here is an idea if you don’t have white hangers.

If you haven’t started the March challenge yet (and you know who you are!) here’s how you get started:

Determine what you have.  The first step in your process is to remove everything from your closet. Do this when you have more than just an hour of spare time. Make it the project for the day. It is time-consuming and emotional. I find that a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with this activity. I also suggest bringing in your closest confident who will tell you, in all honesty, if you should keep an item. (My husband once said, “I hate that shirt. It makes you look like a hippie.” Well, even though I like to embrace my inner bohemian at times, the ‘hippie’ look isn’t quite what I was going for, so out went that shirt).

Decide what you really need. Like I’ve said, we wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time, so use frequency of use as a benchmark for deciding what to keep. You know you love it. You know it’s your go-to sweatshirt on the weekend. You know you look hot in those jeans. Keep them. But some things are only worn on special occasions, and truthfully those items can be paired down. Some would even argue one simple black dress is really all one needs for ‘special occasions.’ (Guys, I don’t expect you to wear a little black dress. But, seriously, all you need is one really good suit.)

Admit the relationship is getting old. If you are still hanging on to an item you used to love, acknowledge that…and be prepared to chuck it. My mother has a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt with a thousand holes in it. I’m pretty sure she still has it because it represents a family vacation. I’m also pretty sure she has photos of that vacation and therefore, Mickey could be thrown out (Mother, I know you read this blog…yes…I’m talking to you). There’s nothing wrong with hanging on to things because it holds sentimental value, but if you’ve still got your prom dress from 1989, its time for your friend to intervene. Pour another glass of wine, remember dancing with that special person to some Richard Marx song…and get rid of it.

Be honest about how you look in it. Does this flatter you now that you’ve lost (um…gained…) 40 pounds? Try it on, get the friend to give it thumbs up or down…and move on. Here’s the only time I would recommend that you set some time to go pick up some classic and flattering pieces of clothing – but only if you really need them.

Consider your life now. Last weekend I realized that all my old work clothes were stuffy business suits from back in my ‘high paid consultant’ days. Now, I work from home and usually in my yoga pants. I kept the black dress, a pair of black slacks, a jacket that matches both, and out with the rest. While you are in your decision-making mode, consider what you do on a regular basis now. “Well, when my child goes to school, I might reenter the workforce.” Okay, great. That’s five years from now. If you wear THAT you’ll look like a dork because it’s 7 years old. Toss it.

Grab those things you love and put them back. Grab those white hangers (or do this instead….). I’ve done this for two weeks. It’s not looking too good for that old Eddie Bauer sweater with holes in it…poor baby. No matter what ‘organizational system’ you choose (white hanger, reverse hanger, Project 333, etc.) make it easy. Avoid a system that is too complicated. Simple is better.

What to do with what is left.

Donate it to charity. Honestly DONATE IT TO CHARITY. I think people who talk themselves into selling stuff on the internet (like on Craigslist or eBay) are just looking for a reason to hang on to something a bit longer. Ugh. Just get rid of it already.

Throw it out. If your item has stains, rips, or ‘just needs a little mending’ do not donate it. Thrift store shoppers do not want your crappy stuff any more than you do. Be considerate. (I made cleaning rags out of my hubby’s old stained t-shirts – thus reducing my need to waste so many paper towels – so you can even repurpose it if you can’t bring yourself to throw it away. Here’s another great idea I’m gonna try!)

Give it away to a friend. Sometimes donating to charity isn’t as fun as giving it to someone who would really like it. I recently had a month-long Give A Way project that was a blast! My silver cocktail dress is going to my step-daughter this week. I’ve worn it one time. It will make a nice graduation dress or ‘fancy dinner’ outfit for her. My son was in the NICU for 8 days when he was born, so when he outgrew his NB clothes I gave them to the NICU in honor of those awesome nurses. Snow suits were recently shipped to my girlfriend in Massachusetts – (hahaha…you are up to your eyeballs in SNOW!!!). Same with several wool hats and scarves.

Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. You can do this. I know you can. It is not easy. It can be hard. Keep going.

Let me know how you are doing…I’d love to hear about it. Comments are awesome!

This Week’s Challenge:

Set a time to do this project now! Write it in your calendar. Call your ‘buddy’ and ask them to meet you for the day to start this project. Gather your supplies (boxes, trash bags, white hangers, um…wine…etc.). Get excited – you are about to take the first step in your life of ‘freedom’.

Announcement:

For the rest of the month, I will be taking time to get some posts ready so that my poor editor isn’t subjected to my lack of planning. Do not fret, dear readers…I will still post but will highlight some great guest bloggers. That way you will still get some really awesome info and be introduced to some wonderful like-minded people in the process. So excited!!

A Recipe For Life

So, last week I was faced with a major dilemma.  I started making chocolate chips cookies and realized, mid-recipe, that the largest mixing bowl I owned would not actually hold the entire batch of cookie dough.  I was stuck.  I panicked.  I told my friend “I need to buy a bigger bowl so I can eventually make this cookie dough correctly.”

A week later, with some down time, I stumbled (and I say “stumbled” because I’m sleep deprived these days) into some of my favorite blogs.  If you’ve been following me, you know the ones: The minimalism blogs.  I had been feeling so overwhelmed by the onslaught of baby items I’ve acquired recently (including, um, a baby) that I needed a quick reminder of what I was trying to do with my life and finances.  And after a few minutes of reading some of my favorites, I suddenly remembered my cookie-dough dilemma and I realized:  I didn’t need a bigger bowl.  I needed a smaller recipe.

Have many times have we done this?  Thought we needed a bigger bowl when in reality we really needed a smaller recipe?  I’ve done it a million times.  I bet you have, too, and not even realized it.

  • I need a bigger house.
  • I need a bigger garage.
  • I need more clothes in my wardrobe.
  • I need a bigger kitchen.
  • I need a bigger refrigerator.
  • I need a bigger dining room table.
  • I need a bigger salary.
  • I need a bigger wine glass.  (Ha-ha!  Just kidding!)

But what if we didn’t need those bigger things?  We just needed a smaller idea of what we need versus what we want.  When we start thinking we need something bigger than we actually do, we start being dissatisfied with what we have.

“To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” – Ken Keyes Jr.

Isn’t that true?  Doesn’t Paul (yeah, Paul of the Bible Paul) say “I’m learning to be content”?  He doesn’t say “I am fully content” because I think he’s wise enough to realize that even he, at  times, wishes for a bigger bowl.  But then he realizes a bigger bowl is truly not the answer and the key to his enlightenment is to scale back on his recipe.

So, instead of our list above, what if we thought the following:

  • If I get rid of all the extra stuff in storage, I would find that my house is the perfect size.
  • If I traded in my SUV for a smaller, more energy efficient car, then my garage would be perfect.
  • If I bought wardrobe pieces that were ‘classic’ and fit me better – even if they were more expensive – I would need less.
  • If I got rid of the griddle, the blender, the food processor, the waffle iron (or any number of items not needed or used) my kitchen would be less ‘full’ of items that drain my energy.  (My guilty pleasure?  I once had 3 bread makers, 6 ginormous pitchers, and saved glass jars to ‘reuse’.  I bet I had 20 at one point.  Now I struggle because I own a juicer and a Ninja.  Do I need both??  I don’t know.  Today I do, so I won’t donate either right away.)
  • If I bought only what I truly needed at the grocery store instead of ‘stockpiling’ items that were on sale ‘just in case’ then my refrigerator would be perfect.
  • If I stopped believing I was going to regularly entertain 12 people at a time, my dining room table – which seats 4 – would most likely work.  For those extraordinary times:  Folding tables and folding chairs.  It’s only once a year, if that.
  • If I had less debt, my salary would be enough.
  • And that wine glass…well…maybe another blog on self-indulgence J

Anyway, you get my point, right?  If, for just a moment, we’d realize that more is not always a good thing and bigger is not always better – we’d be free to embrace allowing ourselves to let go of old thoughts.  Our ‘stuff’ does not define us.  An empty corner in the living room does not scream “I can’t afford to buy something to put here.”  An empty corner in the living room does quietly remind us, however, “I don’t have to dust something and so I have time to go to the park and play with my son.”  How cool, right?

So – if you find that something isn’t working for you, as in “This isn’t big enough” – then I urge you to consider that maybe it is big enough…you are just trying to mix up the wrong recipe for your life.  I love getting rid of things.  I think I like getting rid of things more than I like buying things.   Even as I write, I’m looking around and see at least ten items that need to go in order for me to have more room to breathe.  My husband has learned to recognize this look and clears out before I decide that he has to go, too (Not really – but I do tend to make rash decisions on my cleaning/decluttering).

I bet, if you tried really hard, you could get rid of at least ten items this week.  If you do…let me know!  I’d love to hear all about it!

Self-Sacrifice is not always the best route for Minimalists.

As most of you know, about a year ago I embraced a ‘rational minimalism’ concept and have been weeding out the items in my life I don’t really need or use anymore.  Such items have included two bread makers, three pitchers (We had six!  Only two people live here!), DVDs, books, and the list goes on and on.  Seriously, the trips to the local thrift store seemed endless for awhile.   The entire idea behind this concept is to only spend money on the items you really want or need, even if it costs more.  Honestly, to me, Rational Minimalism isn’t about buying all your clothes at thrift stores and purchasing VHS tapes at yard sales for entertainment (although I do love me some good flea market finds!!).  It’s about saving and waiting for the items you really need to make life more enjoyable – and having the money to buy the really good thing versus the really cheap thing.

So, this week I went through the guest bedroom (because now it is the guest room/office) and pairing items down to meet the basic necessities for overnight guests.  I love the idea of having this ‘sanctuary of coziness’ for overnight guests, but in reality, I live in a three bedroom house and I need the room for something I do everyday – WORK! As luck would have it, everything I do these days seems to have a ‘life lesson’ attached to it and this process was no different.  As I went through all the items in the room, I realized something about myself that never really occurred to me before, and I’m about to share that revelation with you.  It’s actually not very pretty.  I realized I used to care more about what others, who rarely see me, thought of me than those who give portions of their life to me every day to show me how they love me.  In other words, I was saving GOOD STUFF for overnight guests and trying to pretend that old, worn out stuff was okay for me and my family.  And I really do mean ‘used to’ because this journey has made me learn a lot about myself and life’s simplicity.  Here’s the case in point:

As I organized the guest storage center, I came across ten beautiful, fluffy white towels.  The white towels were purchased about two years ago when Kohl’s had a super-dooper sale on linens and I remember thinking to myself “I’m going to get these towels and save them for overnight guests so that they don’t have to use our old towels.”  So, I purchased them.  And I saved them – all rolled up neatly and organized within the guest room cabinet – proudly waiting to be used by overnight guests.  And you know what? We only had overnight guests twice this year.  And not one of them mentioned the pretty white towels.  In fact, one only stayed a night and never used one of my pretty white towels.  And, I noticed some of these towels STILL had the price tag on them which means NO ONE used them!  What I realized this morning, as I took another look at those towels was this:  I was saving these towels for people who really don’t notice while the man I love (and even myself!!) use icky old tattered and bleach stained towels.  Clean…but ratty.  So I took those pretty white towels…and I marched right into my bath room and put those towels in the family towel closet.  And I’m going to use them myself and share them with my hubby because he’s really the most important person in my life.

Now, before you go and get all Martha Stewart on me, (“Umph!  That’s not how you create a comfy guest experience!!!”) I will admit I left items that seem a bit unnecessary.  I did leave the basket of ‘personal hygiene items’ for my overnight guests.  I left the basket of note cards, pens and stamps (although I hope none of my guests really don’t stay so long that they need to write to someone far way!!  LOL.), and there is still a small bedside pitcher for water.  There’s a CD player, several paperback books and Better Homes and Garden magazines.  I’m not completely inhospitable.  But, I’ve given up some space to keep my overnight guest room…I should, at least, be able to have some really nice towels out of the deal, right??  What I realized is I want my family – the people who make my life complete and live with me every day – to enjoy some luxuries, too.  You know?

So…if you come to stay with us…you will find along with my 8 plates and unmatched (cool, but unmatched) coffee mugs several nice towels in the bath room.  And if you find that my towels aren’t quite ‘new enough’ for you or that my “Un-Martha Stewart Before Prison” like guest room does not meet your expectations, then I have to tell you this:  The Holiday Inn is lovely this time of year and even has a swimming pool.  And they have lots of fluffy white towels. We will meet for dinner outside on our deck.  Bring your own chair because I only have two.

A Life in Focus

Husband and I got our family photos taken this weekend.  It was so fun, since we have not had any photos since our 2010 wedding.  We dressed simply, we acted like ourselves, and we enjoyed each others company in the midst of the Missouri fields.  This relates substantially to what I’m about to tell you, because Life is a lot like photography.  In order to be a great photographer, one must realize that every focal point is an opportunity to capture something memorable; to see beauty in all things.  Each photo, whether of a field of purple flowers, a flock of colorful birds, or a snapshot of a homeless man under a bridge, can contribute to a point.

So, I’ve been thinking. (I know, you are probably extremely shocked by this fact.  Some days I wish I could be one of those people who could shut off my brain and watch a football game…) I recently read a great book which helped me evaluate my core values.  Studying management and leadership for the past seven years has given me a lot of opportunity to consider ‘core values’ as they relate to my work, but I never really considered mine in an organic sense.  Maybe ‘ambition’, ‘power’, ‘wealth’, ‘control’, and ‘progress’ would have been the words I would have used if you asked me to define my core values.  I mean, if I examined my life – I certainly could not disagree that those core values drove me to where I am today.  Except, this time, I was more gentle with myself…I prayed and sought the Truth in finding who I really am.  What I found surprised me.

I learned I am happiest when my activities and my actions center around the following:

  • Abundance
  • Fairness/Justice
  • Relationships
  • Learning

But the most surprising and the most predominant of all:  Contribution

Contribution.  Wow. I never really considered that I have always desired to make a contribution until I went through this study.  But, while others sought wealth, fame, or prestige…I simply wanted my actions to contribute to the betterment of the greater good.  In other words, I want to make sure when I die the headstone reads more than just my name, date of birth, and date of death.  I want to make a difference.

This means I and my lifestyle need to change (or improve…whichever….)  and that includes this blog.  I am seeking a more focused initiative – in life and in all that I do – so I can get to the root of my true happiess – the values I hold dear to my core.  My main areas of focus for the upcoming year include:

  • A simple lifestyle:  Not just the ‘En Vogue minimalism’, but a true commitment to simplicity.  This, I think, will help me to find my Source of peace and contentment.
  • Paying close attention to income/expenses.  The goal is to narrow the gap between the two (as it currently stands, expenses are winning)
  • Health and Abundance.  This means reducing my dependence on anything that does not contribute to being healthy and having true abundance (not always financial, by the way).

In relation, I’m hoping these focused areas will also make a contribution to YOU, my reader.  Each post has got to come back to one or all of those three points, or it’s just a creepy online diary.  I want this blog to contribute to making my life, my relationships, my community, and my world a better place but I also want it to contribute to YOUR life, YOUR relationships, YOUR community, and making YOUR world a better place.

So, welcome to “My Still Life”.  Grab some coffee or a nice cup of tea.  Snuggle up…and join me.

Best,

DJ