Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Learning as we go

As I mentioned previously, we are learning to live frugally since I have given up my career as a public educator and moved into the homeschooling sector. Thus far, our 14-year-old has shown marked improvement in many areas and alarming deficiencies in others. I'm happy to be able to help him grow in his learning.

The hardest part for us, of course, is learning how to pay all of our bills that we have each month on the single income that we now have. This is a task that I have learned is very difficult, but easy all at the same time. I am perfectly content with denying myself most things. I don't need much of what I have, and that which I do have I realize I don't even need. The hardest part is the children. Our daughter wants to do so much and we can't do it right now. Our son also wants to be able to participate in many things, but we can't afford them at this time. In reality, we won't be able to afford them at all. We are on a strict budget and we have each month's budget down to the penny. I feel awful about this. There is no other way to say it. I feel like the worst mom.

As it was we gave up luxuries, like cable TV and dining out. Honestly, we could probably give up even more if we really wanted to (cell phones, fresh foods rather than processed food), but I don't see that truly being an option we want to explore at this time.

I have begun making our laundry soap and dishwasher detergent. I also make our own all-purpose cleaner. I have sold a lot of things via craigslist and Half-Price books. Selling my books was the hardest. How can 5 boxes of books earn me a measly $25? That broke my heart. But it gave my kids that much more.

I have begun working as a substitute teacher on some days, but the pay for that is nothing like it was when I was the teacher full time. Then again, I like the sanity much more! I suppose there is a trade-off for everything one does. I just hope that by following this decreased lifestyle, our home will be happier for it.

It seems to be working so far, I think.

If you have any suggestions on things you make or do at home to help save money, please let me know! I am open to ideas!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

52 Weeks...

It's crazy to think that one year is a measly 52 weeks. That is such a short period of time, that I can't wrap my brain around it. I remember a year seeming to take forever to pass and now, I blink and another year is gone. Where does it go?

In an effort to remember my year, I have started an "awesome journal". I guess one could call it a blessings journal or something of the sort, but for me it's simply a list of things that I did each day that I consider awesome for me. Tasks I have completed, things that I heard, events that might seem insignificant at first, etc. I think this has been something that I have been needing all along, but never felt I would stick with. I guess that I might (some days) 'forget' to write, or perhaps I just might have bad days where I don't feel like anything was worth recalling. However, as I was thinking about it, every day must have some good in it. And that is my plan for keeping my "awesome journal". How awesome is it that (fill in the blank) happened? Stuff like that happens every day for all of us. My goal for myself it to remember that.

Yesterday, was payday. I was able to pay bills! That is a good thing. I was also able to buy good food! Another awesome thing. So many don't have days like that. I need to remember that. I am learning to live very frugally since I gave up my career to stay home and educate our son. It's often a difficult task, but worth it for us, for now. Being able to pay bills and buy food on one paycheck is very hard for me, considering how much we were bringing in before, and with Christmas just behind us, it was pretty scary there for a bit. This paycheck came at just the right time.

I don't much like living paycheck to paycheck, but I know that with some really serious budgeting and strong willpower, it will be fine in the end. That end will be this fall when we re-enroll our son in public school. He starts high school next year and I know that I am not capable of doing that with him as challenging this past semester has been.

So, 52 weeks is all we are given for 2015 and I intend to use each one of those to better myself and my family.

  1. I have been working out each day! Simple things really, I got a FitBit and I use it to challenge myself to walk more. I also love dance, so I have been using the fitness option on Dance Central 3 while wearing weights on my ankles. Yeah, that's tough!
  2. Money saving challenge: I know that we have all seen the money challenge where you put a certain amount of money each week and by the last week of the year you put in $52 and you have saved just over $1300 for the year. 
    Well, I found that I like a similar system from Household Management 101. They also do money saving each week, but rather than building up all year long, this grows to about halfway through the year then tapers off toward the holidays. It's really a great idea. Here's the link.
  3. Home cleaning challenge: anyone that knows me or has read any of my previous posts will know that I struggle with maintaining a clean house. I seriously have that whole CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) thing down. I panic at the idea of someone coming to my house. I'm not going to be on an episode of Hoarders or anything, but I just hate housework with a passion. I try everything I can to avoid it. I am pretty good at avoiding (I'm actually successfully doing that now by writing), but as part of my "Awesome Journal" I am making the conscious effort to change how I look at housework. I am using the Household Management 101 schedules to help with that. I have two days under my belt. I know that if I can maintain this whole month, then I will be successful for the year. I believe that once I have myself in place with this system, then I can reteach my children to be more productive and not rely on Mom and Dad to do everything as we tend to do now. A happy home involves all of the family contributing, not just some members. Of course, the kids might not agree with that idea for now, but I'm hoping that in time they'll come around. 
So, this is my direction for now with these 52 weeks. I can do it. You can cheer me on and be a part of my own internal melodrama as I place my words into my blog posts without really planning what I write.

52 weeks is a really short time. Want to join me on my weird journey? You are welcome to tag along. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year; New Me

Welcome 2015!

I am super excited you have arrived.

No really, I am.

I expect 2015 to be a transitional year for me and my family. I know 2014 was certainly that and with the known changes I have coming, I am excited to see how things go. Last year I quit my job and became a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling teacher to my son. He was experiencing such difficulty in school that we opted to pull him for a year and see how it goes. Next year, he returns to public school and starts high school. I return to the actual work force.

I have been working on building my confidence this past year and while I still experience many highs and lows with it, I have felt better about myself than I have in a long time. I'm not sure what the driving force for that is, but I like it!

I have also started a new program to get my home under control. I tried the FlyLady thing, but that just doesn't work for me. So now, I am following Home Storage Solutions Declutter 365 program. I am hoping that by taking the baby steps that FlyLady has taught me and pairing it with decluttering I will see some decent progress. I hate having so much stuff! I don't need this stuff and what I do need I have to find a better way to store it.

I am also on the way to better physical health. I am a small person. I don't weigh very much and I have a low BMI, however, I can't hold anything with weight for any amount of time and I can't do anything that involves any cardio expense. Therefore, I am working out again. I should never have stopped, but I did and my diet went to pot. Not the best options.

Now, in the past, I have scoffed at New Year's Resolutions because I don't think that you have to have a new year to start doing something. That being stated, this year just feels different. I woke up feeling differently. I am working on myself to make me a better wife, mother, and friend. Three things that I know I need to work on. I have always been bad about taking care of me. This year that is over! I will conquer the crazy within and become the amazing person that I know I can be.

Hey, you know what? I'm pretty awesome.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Surround yourself with Positivity

Step three to being more confident is to consider the people that surround you.

Do you find yourself starting your day off well, then somehow you end up feeling depressed, disappointed, or disenchanted? Did you wake up this morning feeling like the world was your oyster and then it seems as though it suddenly change?

This may not be your fault!!

I would go to my classroom each day with a smile on my face feeling relatively excited to start each new day. Some times, I would see other coworkers in the hallway and I would start to fade in my positive mode. Many people we are around each day are the typical Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer, or Pessimistic Patty.
Regardless of the obvious gender issue that I see with these phrases, we all know some of these people. I, at times, have been one or more of these people. I try to avoid it, or if I know I am feeling that way I will avoid others. I don't like having a negative impact on others. I know that I have a precarious mood at times and I don't want other people to perceive my negative moods and then cause them to feel influenced.

If the people with which you surround yourself are typically negative people, then you will likely feel that negativity and it will begin to ooze out of you. You may not intend it to happen, but it can. This is definitely not a good way to boost your confidence.

Surround yourself with people that are positive. I know that this may seem difficult, but it is possible!! There are more positive people out there than you originally thought!! You have that potential. I think Sandi Krakowski said it best:

You are in control of yourself. You may not be able to control the thoughts and actions of those around you, but you make the choice to continue to be around them. I learned, when I was walking through the school hallways, to not stop and talk with anyone that appeared to be having a negative day. I made the choice to continue walking down the hallway and to smile at the others around me to make both them and I feel better. I would greet people, there is no reason to be rude, but I wouldn't stay and chat. It doesn't make sense to allow someone else around you to suck out your positive energy. I believe that we all have a positive energy. We just have to tap into it. If you are not a morning person, this may be more difficult than not, but regardless, once you are up and moving, you may as well try to find some joy in the day.

I have a friend that I love talking with. She is very much a carpe diem type of friend. She is the one I call when I need a lift. I only met her two years ago, but she is very much my best friend. She emailed me the other day a list of positive traits about me because I couldn't list them for myself. She made me cry in a very good way. She helps me to strive to be more in the moment. I hope that we can all find a friend like that!

I think Bobby McFerrin said it best though:
Don't Worry, Be Happy

Final Note: The last thing I want to say is that depression is a very real issue. I have battled with it my entire life. In fact, fighting it was what prompted me to begin looking at what I needed to do be feel more confident. Depression makes me feel like a less than ideal person loser. I feel like I am useless and worthless. Therefore, I decided to start researching how to be more positive and how to be more confident. Then, I opted to write about it. I can only hope that if you are battling depression, you are able to write about it and find the positive. There are times when that is impossible. When you get to that point, please know that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with talking to a therapist. Furthermore, if you feel that there is nothing else for you and you want to end it all, PLEASE call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is always someone. There honestly is.

Celebrating Strength

Do you know what your strengths are? Have you ever actually sat down and thought about it? Or are you constantly critical and rarely stop to think about what you really can do well?

If you are like me, you are much more the latter than the former. 

My first thought when trying to determine what my strengths are is laughable. Literally, I laughed. I have no strengths. I can't possibly have anything of which I am exceptionally good to make me feel very proud. Rather, I started thinking about all the stuff at which I am exceptionally bad. I can easily make that list.

So, how does one make a list of things that one does well? Honestly, I'm working on that. See right now, I am writing this blog to avoid doing other things that I know I need to do. I do have an amazing power of procrastination. However, I doubt that is much of a strength. In fact, I'm pretty sure that is more of a negative. But, I realize that knowing is half the battle (Thanks, G.I. Joe for teaching me that) and at least I am aware of it. I also know that I procrastinate because I feel overwhelmed much of the time and I just don't know where to begin.

For example, today I have a lot I have to do. I know that I have a novel that I need to proof. I have a great deal of housework that must get done. I have meals to create, animals that need attention, and children that do as well. I know that I need to prioritize this to get done what needs to be done, but for some reason my brain screams NO!!!! TOO MUCH!!!! Play mindless games instead. Check out what others are doing on Facebook. Read email that you don't actually care about. Read random blogs. So many options are available to distract us from what we need to do. When we start giving into these distractions, we are no longer able to really focus on what we must do; the things that make us feel good and productive.

So, I challenge myself and you, too. For one day, 24 hours, turn off your distractions. Focus on what you need to have completed. When you see that you are able to accomplish so much, you will be amazed. Now, if you have young children that cannot function on their own yet, that's one thing. But if you are not glued to a television, computer, or handheld electronic device you can get so much done. Even if only for a little stretch at a time.When you are able to get things done, you see that you really have no excuses left.

So the whole point of this particular post was supposed to be celebrating the strengths that we each have. Rather, it turned in to a pep talk about giving up distractions. But really, aren't they both the same thing? When you get rid of the distractions, don't you have the ability to find your strengths? I think so. That's why I will be going to figure out my strengths now. You should too.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Every now and then, with the amazing world at our fingertips called the Internet, we come across an article that really puts things into perspective. Today, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across a couple of different articles and videos that different friends posted, but they all seemed to be directed at me. It's like they just knew that I needed to view these things today. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there was something causing me to see these today.  What I learned from these articles/videos is that I needed to take a moment and step back for some perspective. As one writer noted in her post here, it's a matter of looking through perspectacles. A silly, made-up word that I like very much because it makes complete sense. 

My house is a messy, unkempt place. We live in it. All the time. We have pets, children, and love. We have an amazing home that accommodates our mid-sized family perfectly. We have so much to be thankful for that at times we forget to be thankful because we take things for granted or we don't stop to smell the proverbial roses.

As the author posted at the beginning of the post noted above:

"If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we'd be happy with more?" -- Unknown

There is no need for us to "keep up with the Jones" or the Kardashians for that matter. It makes no logical sense to compare ourselves to those around us. We are always telling our children that, but why do we not follow that as adults? Why do we not practice what we preach? This is one of those times when I, dealing with my inner demons, need to put on my perspectacles and stop and smell the roses. 

I am a mom. I get to work from home! The best job in the world! I get to home-school my autistic son and help him to learn how to navigate this crazy, screwed-up world! I get to help my daughter learn how to be a confident, mature young woman. I struggle with that myself, but I am home and able to help my daughter find herself like I didn't really do as a young girl. I have a roof over my head, I have food on my table, I have fresh water to drink, I have access to anything I could possibly ever need and I take advantage of that.

When I was teaching, I had students that had no idea how to ride a bike, let alone actually own one! I have six downstairs right now! We can take family rides at any time we want. 

I have a husband that I love and that loves me. We support each other in everything that we do. We care for each other and provide for each other. We listen to each other and talk with each other. Note the with and not to or at. We actually discuss and solve and fix things together.

I am an amazingly blessed woman! If the rest of us were to step back and look through our OWN perspectacles, we might realize that we all are. We don't have to have the best of ANYTHING! We don't need to put ourselves so deep into debt just to make our home look a certain way or to have things. We need each other. Our home to protect us. Food to eat.

I have all of that. 

I. Love. It.

In case you wanted to watch the video that really got my attention today, you can find it here. Now, it's a Mormon made video, but the message is what is really important. Whether you are religious or not, regardless, the message is the same for all of us.

I hope that you are able to find your perspectacles as I did mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Becoming Good Enough

The first step in not being self-conscious is to set an intention.

Now, you may lean back in your seat and think, what the heck does that have to do with anything? Honestly that was my first thought, but as I am thinking about it, I realize it's like setting a personal goal. My intention is to like my self and my life as a positive representation for my children, particularly my daughter.

We are inundated with information about how to be some specific way for the world to see. From television, to magazines, to movies, even literature. everything has ideals on how people should present themselves to others. Nothing really seems to address how people feel about themselves, but looks to others for that validation.

One particular example that I can think of is the story Purplicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann. The story is cute enough, but Pinkalicious, after being teased and tormented about liking pink, doesn't really love her color choice until the new girl at school validates her choice to love pink and shows her that it makes purple which is the new girl's color of choice. Shouldn't she just like it because she likes it? Regardless of what other's think?

I realize this is super simplistic, and may not be the best analogy, but I think it is a pretty significant point. If we are supposed to feel confident, why should we need another person's validation that what we like is okay to like? Shouldn't we be able to just say, "Because I Said So!" and be done with it? Am I mistaken in thinking that most people don't automatically do this? I know I nearly never have. I have always felt that I had to have the outside validation.

Often we don't get that acceptance that we crave and it's really because other people are busy focused on themselves, to bother with validating others. What I know we get a lot of is criticism. With constant outside criticism, you hear only one thing in your head... "You Aren't Good Enough".

How hard is it just to type those words? You Are Not Good Enough. They require all capitalization because they are so significant. After a while, the outside support you may have been able to hear as a child quickly disappears and then you no longer want to seek that outside affirmation. Eventually, that negativity is all you can hear and you start to believe.

I think that is why middle school/junior high is such a tumultuous time for so many pre-adolescents. You need outside support because you are trying to find yourself, but if you don't have a solid support in place, you won't get it. You will hear the taunting, the snide comments, the hurtful things, but you will rarely hear the positive things.

By the time you get to high school, the damage is pretty strong and no you are really hitting puberty and feel horribly awkward and anxious. You compare yourself to others because that is what you are taught to do from everything surrounding you. Eventually, you come to the conclusion that You Are Not Good Enough.

So you start hating yourself for being such a loser, even if you never actually call yourself that. You think that all those evil little voices in your head that really do affirm the negative things you heard others say are right. You can't figure out how anyone could ever like you, especially yourself. So, you sit in your office one night, and look up how to not feel self-conscious. And you begin pouring your heart into a post on a blog.

You hope to goodness that no one actually reads this blog because if you do hear negativity, you are pretty sure it will all be for naught and every hateful thing you have ever thought about yourself is true. You really don't want to visit that dark place again where you told yourself that your husband and children would be so much better without you.You know that deep, deep, down it isn't true. And that little glimmer at the bottom is what keeps you trying every day. You decide to start today and you set your intention.

I think about my children growing up without a mom, my husband raising two children without a wife and partner. I know that I can never allow that to happen. So I set my intention.

I intend to like myself and my life. I intend to see the good that there is in me. I intend to find out what it is like to feel pride when I look in the mirror each day rather than disdain. It takes so much out of you to not like yourself. It is physically and emotionally draining. I intend to end that horrible cycle. Because it is horrible. No one deserves to feel that way. No one should feel that way.

No one.

Every person should be happy with themselves, because we have such an amazing gift! We get to live! We get to explore this amazing world, we get to experience things that are mind boggling! We are lucky! We are amazing! We really are Good Enough!