Thursday, January 2, 2014

30 Days to Hustle: Days 1 & 2

For Jon Acuff's "30 Days to Hustle" challenge, we start off by thinking of one thing we want to go after: reducing debt, losing weight, training for a career/marathon/test... and then focus on that for the month. Each day, we're e-mailed reminders and tasks meant to help us further define what we want and how to get there.

"Get out of my rut" is to vague of a goal.

So is "Become a real adult" and "Figure out who I am"...

And for each of these, there are a number of ways to break them down into something a bit more measurable: "Get out of debt/pay off 25% of my debt this year", "Land a full-time job", "Pray a 54-day novena", "Begin and stick with an exercise routine", "Eliminate 1/3 of my possessions (so I can better manage what I have)", "Set actual boundaries". And which did I choose?

"Raise $500"

I panicked and shared it with the 30 Days support group. I could use that $500 to pay for a trip to an event that is on my bucket list, or pay off a chunk of debt. Or, as I wrote down last night, I can use it to fund a project of mine: Building a 'DJ Dalek' (Dalek, from Doctor Who, but it plays music).

However, today I struggled with the task of defining why this was important to me. Because other than it looking cool (and maybe having an excuse to show it off when it gets finished), I'm overwhelmed with the thought that this is just another ploy for attention. "Hey! Look! ...She built a Dalek! Let's pay attention to her and her machine for 12 minutes."

So now I'm thinking that my goal should be to eliminate (or list for sale) 1/3 of my possessions. It would make things a lot easier to manage, AND would generate a little money for future projects.


So, dear readers, what are your goals and ambitions for the new year?

I'm... Back?

Do you ever feel like there are so many fragmented thoughts and conversations floating around in your head that you could just explode if you didn't vent them?


I had a lot of time to think, and about 13 months of internal agony, questioning my identity, my worth... and finally came to a point where I felt like I could try finding my feet again. That maybe, I could rebuild this concept of who I was without basing my identity or worth on the role I play. That if I wasn't a wife, a mother... if I wasn't the one to keep things running in the house or fetching this or that for someone.. that I still held value.

Because deep down (and this was something I've only recently realized), I was still 8-year-old me, wondering why I wasn't good enough for my parents to stick around. I'm still the 9-year-old who only gets approval if I'm parading around in someone else's ideas (even then, approval was fleeting). I still wanted to be loved. I wanted to be wanted by someone because they wanted me, not what I could do or give them.



Even now, in the wee hours of the morning, I agonize over words I fail to speak when the opportunity is there to speak frankly with friends. With one in particular, I ...I don't even know how to begin. I freeze up, try to keep my distance because I'm second-guessing them, questioning their motives when they try to be open and personal. But the moment I'm alone or headed home, I just kick myself for wasting the opportunity to tell them how much I honestly care for them, or how my trying (like inviting them to a movie or to grab a meal) feels so pathetic...so foolish after I've failed and find myself sitting alone at a restaurant. How I really want to be with them, or hug them back, or just relax around them and be me again... but I'm incredibly afraid.

I'm so afraid.

I'm afraid of ruining things, of making a complete fool of myself, of proving their pessimistic theories right.

I'm afraid that every horrible thought I've had about myself, and every uncaring word directed at me would be true.

That I am unlovable.

So, just as I tried to tonight, I back off, throw up my guard and push people away.

Just because I don't want them to see how afraid and weak I am.


***


I realize from time to time I'm going to have to do some 'night blogging'... spilling my guts and being brutally honest about whats going on in my head. It doesn't do me any good to keep it in.

But I will begin again to blog about the projects I'm working on, the books I'm reading (including a year-long book challenge) and perhaps, even some link ups. It'll be slow going at first, but with your help, I'll get there again.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Start 2.0: Day 3 -- Refining 'Audacious'


 Do three rounds of revision before you settle on your new risk. In the first one ask, “Is my audacious crazy enough?” In the second revision ask, “Is my audacious mine?” In the third round ask, “Is my audacious fun?” Refine until you’ve got a yes on all three.

***
I have this vague vision of how my Round 2 experiment will look like by Day 24: I'll have pretty glass jars lining my bathroom counter...each filled to a varying degree with different homemade concoctions or multi-purpose ingredients. My small bathroom garbage can will be filled with old, half-used products I no longer need. Slowly, as time goes on, the number of products in our cupboards and above the washer will shrink. Eventually, a miracle occurs as my grandmother say "You know what? We have all these plates and things... why don't we use them instead of sending you into town to get paper plates each month?"  And one day, when my grandparents see that I've saved them money, they will praise my efforts and not refer to my ideas as stupid, or me as a "good for nothing idiot".

...I know, total pipe dream.

But to be honest, I kind of like the idea of being known as "the crazy one", especially if by "crazy" they mean my ideas to rip out the lawns and replace them with a three-part garden. Or my push for solar energy (Fun Fact: I use to charge my cell phone with a solar charger way back before I had a smartphone). As much as I love to sit at the coffee shop with my cup of chai and a book, I actually spent YEARS avoiding Starbucks until a friend quite literally dragged me into one and insisted I get the Caramel Apple Spice (which, possibly because I'm sick with a cold at the moment, sounds really REALLY good right now). But this dream to live simply and cheaply isn't something I dreamed up overnight. I've had this brewing for years. But okay, let's look at this challenge of mine --this audacious, as the questions deem it-- through the three questions at the top.

Is my audacious crazy enough?

Yes. The last time I tried gardening, we only planted tomatoes. Grandma loves tomatoes and she threw a fit because we grew tomatoes. In buckets. Without having to dig anything up. It was low-maintenance, just plant and water. I was told "never again will you even THINK about growing something."

So the idea of tearing out a lawn and planting a garden? ... crazy. "Incurring-the-wrath of-Grandma" crazy.

Is my audacious mine?

There are two things that I'd say were mine: this one is 95% me. (The other is "become a locksmith" after becoming fascinated with them in the seventh or eighth grade. I seriously resorted to picking locks on my jewelry box, diaries, ...grandma's jewelry box... because the keys were flimsy and would break like uncooked pasta.) I would say 100%, but I know that influence could cause me to go overboard with things, but if I stick to "I'm doing this because it's better for me and saves me money" then I'm good. Both ideas (locks and diy products) are something that reflect things I honestly enjoy, and are also things that I've mulled over off and on for years. If it wasn't a me thing, I'd have either dropped it or be very uncomfortable with the idea.

Is my audacious fun?

I would say yes, to both the diy stuff and the lock stuff. At least, I find them fun and have spent hours watching videos and reading about both topics. In fact, one can help the other. For example, when I figured out what I could set aside for a conference I'd like to attend (it's on my bucket list to go at least once and bonus!...they have talks and an entire room set aside for everything that has to do with locks and security!), I found that sticking with my half-dozen diy projects will more than save enough for me to pay for the registration fee. Being frugal in other areas (and recycling or selling a few other goodies) would help pay for hotel fees. I could be frugal using my craft skills...and use what I save to pay for an event where I can learn more about locks and keys! Win-win!

(and if I don't go to the conference... I can take a course on lock smithing next summer and see about qualifying for a state exam)

My audacious could be seen as strange or out there, maybe even "not really a goal"... but making this (frugality and minimalism) my lifestyle allows me to better manage my finances and thus, (to paraphrase Dave Ramsey) I'll be able to "live like no one else".

Monday, August 12, 2013

Start 2.0: Day 1-- How to be Audacious

"Some people can name six impossible things before breakfast. I can name three that, honestly they all fall under the same banner but still... three things that my household says I wouldn't have the audacity to do. Really, they say it like a threat, but I must have a good portion of Great-Grandma Ella's genes in me because I took it as a challenge."

Audacious: "recklessly bold, rash"; the act of doing something awesome and unconventional while the people in your world say it can't or shouldn't be done.

***
I think yesterday's conversation with my friend best summarizes the audacity of this whole idea:
Why would anyone with access to modern conveniences and products want to make something themselves, especially when a) I can't find everything I need locally and b) the state only gives a hoot about (where we live) when it comes time for elections... even then, it's "water issues" and "Hey! He's not a real farmer!"

But there are two ...no... three really good reasons for wanting to make my own things:
1) I like to make things.
2) I get sick, a lot, and if reducing the amount of toxic crud I'm exposed to helps in any way, I'll do it.
3) I'm a cheapskate.

So what Audacious thing will I be doing today?

I'm going to start with a plan! (I know, how audacious of me...) First, I'm going to make a list of the D.I.Y. cleaners or body products I want to make. Then, make a shopping list (I've started hitting up the local stores and...it's not looking good) and finally, start cleaning.

I'm already in the middle of a 30 day de-clutter challenge, so I'm finally going to get rid of all the products that make me break out. Anything new that I'm unsure about, I will call around and donate it somewhere. If anything, our community's Clothing Closet takes in all sorts of goodies and gives them away to anyone in need. I'm sure with school starting next week, someone will be in need of shampoos and lotions. (and yes, I make sure they're not expired before donating them)

If anyone has a heads up on where someone can procure some Super Washing Soda (aside from Amazon) or some Fels Naptha (or know if something like Dr. Bronners Castile Soap bar....or Zote... would be a good substitute).... Please, for the love of chocolate, tell me in the comments!

***
Edit: Hey! The amazon review of the Dr. Bronners soap said they use it in place of Fels Naptha so... I should be okay, right?
***


Just a heads up, but it feels like it's taking me all day for a simple post about how I'm going against expectation and stereotype as all I seem to want to do at the moment is sneeze and make Jon Acuff-centric song parodies.

For example:
 Duh-na na-na na-na na-na 
Duh-na na-na- na-na na-na Acuffed!
Acuffed!
Acuffed!
BATMAN! ....I mean, ACUFFED!


and...

 "If you havin' Start problems I feel bad for you son. I got 99 problems but a fear ain't one. Hit me! *raised hand for high five*"


***


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Start Another Round

Getting really upset at all these websites telling me I can find everything I need for making laundry detergent right in my grocery store. News flash: No I can't. You can find Zote at one store in town, but not Fels-Naptha. And I can't find Washing Soap for the life of me.
I can find everything I need for making laundry detergent right in my grocery store. It's called "laundry detergent."
ha...... ha......
I have a whole book on "things you can make yourself" that is almost useless unless you live in a city with access to Whole Foods or have the money to ship it in from some place.
Exactly.
Welcome to Chowchilla.





This is how Round 2 of "The Start Experiment" began.


The Start Experiment (as I noticibly didn't speak of it enough this past month) was 24 days of focus, support, networking and sharing as we (individually) worked toward a stated goal. My goal was health related, so I was naturally grouped with the Health Nuts of Group 17 ("The Fightin' 17s!" as Stephen Colbert would say). No two people had the same goal. Some were similar, as with the people training for different events (5k runs, 10k runs, marathons...). Mostly, we just wanted to improve our health. That's it.


Long story short, I totally failed at my first goal. In fact, I told a group member that my stated goal was a cop-out... my real goal was to find my passion for life. Some...thing...that would make me want to get up in the morning and keep going. For someone like me who struggles with depression, it was a tall order to fill.


By the end of the experiment, I hadn't lost weight (in fact, on the eve of Round 2, I'm battling a head cold to boot). However, I got in touch with someone who had changed their life and was now doing things I was so passionate about years ago....before I found myself in this quarter-life pergatory I've lived in for the last several years. She added me to some gardening groups on Facebook. From there, in such a short time, I was chatting with other Start Alum about organizing, de-cluttering, and digging out my old recipes for diy amenities and household cleaners.


I seemed to have rediscovered a lost passion in the final moments of the first Round. So in a way, it seems I didn't fail at meeting my goal after all.


Cut to this afternoon: I was finally feeling okay enough to venture out of the house (after all... we were out of milk and Dr. Pepper so a trip to the store was a bit of a necessity). I looked through my list of what I could make, jotted down the ingredients I was likely to find (or rather, I really REALLY hoped I'd find) at the store, and headed out.


...I found a whole THREE things on my list.
(and milk... there isn't a place in town that doesn't sell milk.)


A new store in town had a fourth ingredient, but I'm holding out hope that if I venture to the next town north of here, I'll find what I'm looking for. ...except for Washing Soda. I've tried for years and can't find it within a 40 mile radius of home.


Monday, July 29, 2013

We had to come up with a Time Magazine article on ourselves for our Start Experiment...
I chose extra credit: Time COVER!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Step Past Minimum

Have you ever started a simple home project only to have it turned into a never-ending tale of "What the Flip! How did things get this bad?!" Like wanting to paint a room... it's a task you can tackle on your day off and it sounds like fun (and hey! ...Instant improvement to a room, right?) but before you start to paint, you need to fix a hole in the wall. When you (or if you're smart, someone who knows how to fix walls) dig in and start repairs, you realize there is another problem. Maybe, as you're checking out hole, you see mold and realize you now need a plumber to check things out. Or worse (worse because I hate bugs) ...you need an exterminator. Now your simple afternoon plans to paint that room turn into a laundry list of repairs and clean up. That's not even including the call you'll make to the insurance company to see if your insurance will cover the repair (spoiler alert: it probably wont).

That's how this project started for me.

It's a little (not so little) project whose details I really don't want to go into at the moment, but suffice it to say, it involved a simple little project: losing weight. I sat down, wrote out how idyllic my journey would be (spoiler alert: it isn't) and made a short list of action items to tick off each day... But then something would come to light. "I don't get enough rest, and when I do, I sleep away my most productive hours." So I set a bed time, set multiple alarms, schedule in things I will do when I get my ideal rest and I wake up refreshed each morning... But one new problem would ultimately lead to another. I don't drink enough water...I use caffeine as a crutch...Meal planning? Pfft, I can't even plan on attending the same mass time two weeks in a row!

This morning, as I laid in bed with swollen, painful balls of hell fire at the end of my legs (my feet are swollen and painful, probably due to the bug bites I've recently acquired... did I mention I hate bugs? Oh, and that I'm allergic to some and end up swollen and painful when bitten? No?) it occurred to me that I have lousy self care. When it comes to caring for others, my cup of compassion and patience runneth over. I am on top of their schedules like syrup on pancakes! But my own care? Nope... It's not just a matter of putting myself last, but of not even caring enough to do the basics. If left alone in the house, I eat very little, drink no water, lounge in pyjamas or the prior day's attire... brushing my hair? Why bother when you won't be leaving the house that day.

When I don't have someone else's expectations to meet, I simply don't care about myself...and when I do have to meet someones expectations (such as having to dress up to take Grandma to her hair appointment...because she expects me to) I do the bare minimum.

I have makeup and clothes unworn because I just don't care...
I have resources and the capacity to make lasting, healthy changes, but I just don't care...
I have medicine to help me feel better, but... well, you get the picture.

So fifteen minutes after this moment of self-realization, I'm up, stripping the bed and gathering laundry. I shower, brush my teeth and do just one step more than minimum. If minimum was getting some ice packs and propping up my feet, I was going to empty the trash while I'm making my ice packs. If I'm going to have to rest and get the swelling down in my feet, I was going to grab the computer and pay a few bills... and blog.

One step past minimum isn't much, but it's more than yesterday.