Let’s Talk Money, Shall We?

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Don’t you just wish money really DID grow on trees?  (Image from pixabay.com)

And why am I bringing this up?  Well, I looked to see what the stats were on some of my blog posts over the years, and lo and behold, it seems like the ones where I talk about money or some other personal finance topic, tend to get the most views.  Is it because we have this voyeuristic impulse to find out what others are doing when it comes to money?  Do we think someone else has the secret key to unlocking all the answers to the problems we’ve experienced or hesitations we feel about money?

I know I’m always willing to talk about money and I’m fine with discussing some of my details on here.  But I know people who would rather have hot lava poured onto them than to do so.  Hell, I’m even related to some people like that.  They’ve just never felt comfortable discussing it, and I think it’s partly in the way that they were brought up.  That’s okay, I won’t judge them and I know they don’t judge me.

I was brought up by a single mom that was pretty open when it came to money.  We didn’t have a lot of it, and we didn’t pretend we did.  In fact, I remember ducking down to the floor of the car on several occasions as I was mortified to have anyone I knew possibly drive by and see my car pulled over to the curb so my mom could check out what someone else was getting rid of.   Nowadays, I think doing that is cool, because you never know what you might find! As they say, one woman’s trash is another woman’s  treasure….

So here’s some numbers from me.  When I was a librarian, living in a big city, I made over $84K/year.  These days, I live in another city but make roughly $24K per year, not counting my freelance work. Back in Boston, I paid $1100 in rent for a studio.  Here, my roomie and I split $550/month for a one bedroom apartment with a fenced in yard and half of a two car garage.  Oh, and I am saving 7% of my meager salary into a 401(k) and $100/paycheck divided among a few accounts.

Here’s a look at my average monthly expenses, with a disclaimer that our gas bill will definitely be higher this month due to heating costs, and our last electric bill was around $140 since we erroneously thought using two space heaters would be cheaper than paying for heat via the furnace. D’oh!

Rent = $550 (split by two) so $275
Electric = $33 (split by two), so $16.50
Gas (household) = $27 (split by two), so $13.50
Private student loan = 162.11
Car loan = $141.42
Internet = $47.23 (but my roommate is paying for all of it via his going back to school through the GI Bill), so $0 for me after reimbursement
Gas (auto) = $50 (only tend to gas up 2-3 times/month)
Food = $200 – ish (this has definitely fluctuated)
Entertainment (eating out, etc., and yes, it includes coloring books and materials) = $40
Car Insurance = $60
Renter’s Insurance = $20
Savings for Travel = $50
Savings for Emergency Fund = $70
Two Credit Cards = $120
Cell Phone (Cricket Wireless) =  $35

TOTAL = $1253.53

Take Home Pay for One Month (we get paid bi-weekly) = $1356.78 (after taxes, 401(k) and insurance deductions)

Full disclosure:  These expense numbers don’t include my vet bill at work which is about $1200 at this time because I plan on paying it off I get my student loan money for the semester.  My work charges 18% interest (ridiculous since we work there), and the student loan will be at 6%.  I will also use some of the excess to pay off the credit cards, because again, the interest rate is much lower.  Then I’ll pay the accruing interest on the student loan and not use the credit cards.  Into the freezer they will go!

Looking at the nunbers, you will notice that there is a bit of wiggle room.  That wiggle room will help me when it comes time to pay our heat bill.  And when it’s not working to pay bills, into the savings it goes!  And two months per year, we get that bonus third paycheck which I will use to pay down debt (or go into the tiny home/condo fund.)  Editor’s note — oh wait!! I forgot my pet food expenses!!   They barely have me breaking even!!  Yep, not so much wiggle room left over.  So that tells me that I need to keep a better handle on where my money is going.  I’ve started writing in my planner at night what I spent during the day. 

In case  you are wondering, my other federal loans are currently in deferment while I’m in the master’s program and when I start paying on them again, it’ll be at the IBR (Income Based Repayment) rate, since I know I will never be able to pay them completely off unless I were to go back to my same job at Harvard as I had in 2015.  Yes, I will end up paying them for 25 more years, but the amount of my monthly payment will vary depending on my income, and at the end of that time period, the amount unpaid will be written off.

WARNING — SIDE TANGENT:  Some of you might get upset at the idea of my loans eventually being written off.  But here’s the thing.  I have paid back those federal loans’ principal balance AND THEN SOME over the past two or so years.  I really have.  And the balance has barely moved.  Paying again for the next twenty five or so years – trust me — they WILL get THOUSANDS more out of me before then! So, in my mind, I will have paid and paid and paid them some more when it’s all over and done.  I just don’t want to be paying and receiving social security at the same time.  (Of course, assuming social security still exists by the time I get to that ripe old age.)

OKAY, SIDE TANGENT/RANT OVER.

My roommate is in the process of paying me back for a few months over the past year when I was carrying the expenses for both of us. So, as he pays me, I’m paying off my debts or putting the money into savings where/when I can.  (And no, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that amount on here because it’s a debt of someone else’s, not mine.  I don’t think he’d be comfortable with my sharing that.)

My roomie and I live pretty frugally.  Mainly our entertainment is watching movies/YouTube videos or taking the dogs for walks in the Bosque, and in my case, reading and coloring. And writing here (and soon, again, for school), or in my journal or elsewhere.  Things that don’t cost much in terms of money.

I wish I had known when I made so much more money, what I know now.  I speak for a lot of us when I say that, don’t I? 

I can’t beat myself up for the money mistakes I’ve made.  All I can do is learn from them,  listen to my heart and follow my priorities.  I share my mistakes and financial numbers on this blog so that hopefully they can help someone else in some way.  Maybe you’ll feel better about your salary when you see how low mine is.  Maybe it will help you to see areas where you can cut out expenses you really don’t need.

Or, maybe you will feel sorry for me or disgusted at the thought that I could have thrown away such a good paying job.  I hope that last sentence isn’t the case.  I don’t want pity.  And if you are disgusted by it, maybe take a look inward and try to figure out why you are having that reaction.  My experience as a librarian at Harvard Law will always have value for me in so many ways.  I just no longer felt that it and Boston were right for me. (And seeing the winter blizzard and freezing cold that they have right now, well, I just shudder at the thought of experiencing that again!)

This post has been a lot longer than some others, so if you’ve stuck with me to the end, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to hit like, share, comment or even subscribe to my blog if the feeling so moves you!

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Plans, plans, plans!

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I hope everyone had a happy New Year and that it was a safe one, too! Me, I stayed home.  Too many drunks on the road, and I’ve noticed that in most places, prices go up for celebrations on that night.  You pay more for the same experience you could have had any other night.

All the talk about how cold it is on the east coast, and in the northeast particularly has me thinking that wherever I end up after ABQ, it will be warm.  As in all year warm.   I just can’t handle the cold anymore.  It makes me want to hibernate.

To be able to handle a move like that, I need to earn extra income, so that’s one thing I am working on.  I’m not saying the move is going to happen soon.  I really want to do my research and plan for things financially and otherwise, etc. I’ve been journalling a lot of my thoughts.  Writing always helps.

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Some of you know I do transcription.  The lady with whom I’ve worked for the past 13 months or so is shutting down her business in March (for a well deserved retirement, I might add), so it’s a good thing I have lined myself up to start doing transcription for a company that does a lot of law enforcement work.  Jail house interrogations, courtroom transcription, depositions, wire taps, police dash cams, etc.

The pay is decent, and they say that they always have a lot of work – one thing that’s recession proof is the law,  and therefore crime.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that crime increases when the economy is bad.

I plan on setting up two separate bank accounts just for this work.  This morning, I applied for an EIN (employer identification number, not a social security number), so I will have one account into which my pay will be deposited, and another bank account into which I will transfer money for taxes, because all this work will be done as an independent contractor.

I’m excited to begin this work.  When it comes to legal stuff, I can be a total nerd, and I actually like listening to this sort of stuff! Having been a librarian for so many years, I love LOVE LOVE learning about new things every day.  I never want my brain to become stagnant.

My school starts up again in another week.  I can’t believe it’s already the spring semester! I’m taking courses in Animal Protection and Writing for Social Change, and I am super excited by both!

I have been reading up on how to grow this blog – the more I write for it, the more I want to write, and I really want to get information out there, both on topics I care about, and on those that you, the reader, find interesting.  I’m putting together an editorial calendar so I can be regular with my posting (I’m thinking Tuesdays and Fridays are good for posting), if not 3x per week.  I’m always looking for more bloggers and readers to connect with and follow, so I TRULY do appreciate all the comments everyone leaves.  I can’t stress this enough!

I hope you enjoy the illustrations – I’ve been coloring a lot lately and it helps to relax me, plus all the positive thoughts in my Good Vibes coloring book (which I got for just $2!!) help me to stay motivated.

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As always, thanks for reading!!

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

Arched Cabins: an option for a tiny home that won’t kill your budget

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com (and no, this isn’t an arched cabin!)

This post has changed a lot over the past few days, from discussing multiple options for “tiny” living such as park model RVs, converted sheds, etc., to just covering Arched Cabins.  I’ll discuss park model RVs in an upcoming post!  And just so you know, I’m not being compensated to talk about arched cabins – with my tiny blog, I would be surprised if they ever even find this post. 🙂

I prefer a studio type of layout to anywhere that I live, rather than a bedroom type situation. When you have a bedroom, inevitably one part of the house is going to get used a ton more than the other — at least that has been my experience.   For example, before my roommate moved in, I hardly ever  used the living room.  I have some shy cats who tend to stay in their “safe” part of the house and not venture beyond the bedroom, so if I want to spend time with them, I go in there and sit with them, giving and receiving cuddles. 🙂

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Finished cabin from Arched Cabin website

So, thinking along the studio-layout, I’ve come across an option which is a prefab home, but not the one you might traditionally think of.  A coworker of mine had a house fire a few years ago and on their property, they are now putting the finishing touches on something called an Arched Cabin. It’s delivered and put together for  you on your property but then you have to finish the interior on your own (or hire someone to help you with that.)  The company is based in Texas, and they ship to 48 US states.  (Their patent is only in the US so far.)  Transportation fees are $2/mile for the smaller models, $2.50/mile for the larger models.

With the arched cabins, there are many sizes to choose from, with the smallest kit costing about $1,000.   (I think my coworker is getting one of the biggest ones.)   If you’re wondering what comes with an Arched Cabin kit, they have a lot of answers on their FAQ page, including this important one:

“Our Arched Cabin kits include a build manual, floor plates, ribs, ridge beam, standard R13 insulation, Super Span Roof Paneling, trim and fasteners needed to assemble the cabin. The kit price does not include the foundation, installation, interior, end caps, delivery, or anything that is not included in the list added above. Our upgrade options include a color upgrade on the roofing panels (choose from 26 colors including Energy Star rated colors), a fireplace thimble, insulation upgrade to R25, a custom loft, foundation (choice of pier and steel Ibeam or block and beam), stairs leading to the loft, and a quote for rough-in labor and delivery.”

Now, if I were to go with one of these cabins, I would definitely go for the upgrade on insulation!  I would also likely go with a blue color (or the one that is Energy Star efficient).  And I have a feeling I would be happy with one of their 12′ foot cabins – the 12 x 12 would be awesome! You would have a 12 foot ceiling at the apex, more than enough room to build a loft, especially for a little short person like me who is just five feet tall!

If  you live in an area prone to high winds, they are able to withstand 150 mph winds. (I’m looking at you, Floridians!) And if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, they can withstand 30 psf (pounds per square foot).  (Again, see their FAQ page for more info.)

 

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Photo of finished cabin from Arched Cabin website  – notice all the windows!!

I also know if I were to have an arched cabin, I would like a lot of sunlight. You can build them with big windows on the “end caps” and if you want skylights or windows in the walls/roof, you can build them but they can’t be more than 2 feet wide due to the ribbing that you see in the roofs.  I would also want a second door on the other end as a means of egress in case of a fire or some other problem.

I’ve talked with my coworker.  Her arched cabin will be 24 X 40 and they will have a loft.  They have lots of windows on the front side of the house and a sliding door in the back. They will have a patio on the backside of the building.  She told me that working with the Arched Cabins folks was very pleasant, and the actual erecting of the cabin on their property went really quick! It was the permitting and planning stages with Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties that created the most headaches.

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Photo of cabin on trailer from Arched Cabins website

My coworker mentioned that the company can now help you with having an arched cabin built on top of a trailer! So  you could have an Arched Cabin on Wheels or ACOW (I just made up that acronym, lol.)  But they can also be erected on top of a concrete slab if that’s what you want to use as a foundation.  The photo above is of their 12 X 8 size trailer.

 

When it comes to financing, the Arched Cabins website says that most people use a construction loan or a home equity line of credit to finance their project.  Getting a traditional mortgage might be a bit difficult due to most lenders wanting to find comparable properties, and well, you don’t see arched cabins every day.

So yes, there is a lot of things to think about when you’re considering building a tiny home.  Budget can be a main part of it, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from imagining what could be.  Do your research, spend hours on Pinterest (here’s my page), read through blog posts, look at design books.  And write down a list of what you really value, what you like to spend your time doing, etc.  Do you want to live off-grid?  Use a composting toilet?  Or be connected to all public utilities or have a well?  That can really help you properly plan out your indoor (and even some of your outdoor) spaces.

What do you think of the Arched Cabins?  Could you live in something like that?  Please add a comment below and let me know your thoughts! And as always, thanks for reading!

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What do I value and why do I save?

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

I feel like these two questions are interrelated (at least for me) so I’m going to try to tackle them in one post.  When I thought about my long term goals, these questions inevitably rose up in my mind.  And because I love that feeling of opening a journal and finding a blank page and then covering it in ink, I started writing a few lists.

What do I value? (not in any specific order)

  • independence and me-time (to create, to think, to just be content)
  • time in nature
  • exercise/physical fitness
  • eating food that is good for me
  • family
  • my animals (and all the other animals out there)
  • writing and being able to express myself creatively
  • reading

I just noticed something – money doesn’t show up in that list.   Hmmmmm

But now here is the list of why I save:

  • so I can buy a tiny house to provide shelter for myself and my furbabies
  • so I can buy some land on which to put my tiny house
  • to be able to write more often and eventually be able to be more of my own boss
  • so I never have to face my phobia of being homeless
  • so I won’t have to work for the rest of my life and can eventually retire

Yes, I have a phobia (or very strong fear) of being homeless.  And living in Albuquerque, there are reminders of this possibility at so many intersections, with people holding signs asking for money or food.   I think the fear goes back to my early childhood, when my parents got divorced and our income was so drastically reduced at the drop of a hat.  It’s a fear that came back full-force when I thought of leaving my husband back in 2010, and ultimately did.  I think it’s a fear I will always have somewhere in the back of my mind. But it’s a fear that also helps to reinforce to me what I do value and why I save money with every paycheck.

What do you value?  And why do you save?  Do  you see the two as being interrelated? 

Please drop me a line below and share your thoughts.  And if you know someone who might enjoy this post, please share it! Thanks, as always, for reading.

 

 

 

 

My long-term goals

Notice I didn’t call these resolutions!

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image courtesy of pixabay.com

I came to the end of a journal I have been writing in this year, and came across a page on  which I had written a list: my long term goals. I knew at the time I had written them down that it was necessary to get them on paper so I could keep myself focused at times when I might feel tempted to do something random or spend money on something that doesn’t align with those goals.

I thought I’d share my list with you.

  1. To be able to write and educate/inspire people.  To use writing as my job.
  2. To be able to live simply, but comfortably.  By comfortable, I mean being able to keep a roof over my head with enough income to be able to provide for my expenses and that of  my animals.
  3. To have a tiny house and a garden that I can tend to and grow a lot of my own food.
  4. To live close to the water, even if it’s a short drive.  While being close to the ocean would be amazing, I’m realistic enough to know my budget probably can’t support that, so being near a lake or some other large body of water would be fine with me.
  5. Have that tiny house be somewhat close to a decent size town.  Doesn’t have to have a million people in it like ABQ, but I don’t want to have to drive 75 miles to the nearest town from where I live.  Been there, done that.  It was so depressing to me and I felt so isolated.
  6. Save enough money for retirement so that I don’t have to work until I’m in my late 70s like my mom did (she just retired this past year.)
  7. Be able to save enough money so I can see my family more often.
  8. Be able to look back on my life and think “Yes, I did make this world a better place.”

Writing down this list made me think of items or experiences on which I place a lot of value, and prompted me to write down “why I save.”  I’ll share those with you in future posts so as to not clutter this one up.

Please drop me a line and let me know what are some of your long-term goals.  How do you want to go about achieving them?  (And as always, thanks for reading, and please share if you know someone who might enjoy or benefit from this post.)

 

Feeling Contentment (Without Spending a lot of Money)

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image courtesy of pixabay.com.  The ocean and nature, what could be better?!

This holiday season, if you shop for holiday gifts online, via Amazon, would you kindly use my Amazon Affiliate link?  It will cost you nothing extra but I will earn a small percentage of your purchase!  If you’re looking elsewhere, please use my Ebates referral link – I will get a small referral fee, and you can save money on something you were going to buy online already it can even be airline tickets or hotel reservations, etc.).  Please!! And thank you!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been getting daily emails from Mrs. Frugalwoods of the Frugalwoods blog.  Today’s email asked the following at the end:

When are you most content?  When you are spending money?  When you are spending less money?  Can you be content with fewer material possessions?

The first is an easy one for me to answer – I’m content when:

  • I am with my animals (The Herd) watching them all sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe and sound, and they will not go hungry, wanting for another meal.
  • I’m writing (blog post or otherwise) and I feel like I’m “in the flow.”
  • I’m reading a good book that I just can’t put down! (Check out my Helpful Books page for some of the most helpful to me.)
  • I’ve just finished an awesome run or workout at the gym. I don’t smell like a rose but who cares?!
  • I’m spending time in nature, feeling at peace and just “being.”
  • I’ve just finished up a transcription or other type of project, or accomplished all the goals I set out to complete on a certain day.
  • I help someone over the phone at work, and feel my inner librarian coming out, and they tell me I’ve been very helpful with all the information I’ve provided.
  • I check my retirement accounts and see that the balance is growing! It’s hard for me to save right now with such a low salary, but I’m trying to sock away 7% into a 401(k) and $95/paycheck for my Don’t Touch (emergency) fund, my insurance premiums and travel/tiny house funds.  (I just calculated that $95 savings amount to be roughly 13% of my after-tax salary!)

As you can see, I’m perfectly content to spend my time in activities that cost me very little, or nothing, and in some instances, actually earns me some money.   Also, I can definitely be content with fewer materials possessions! When I moved from my Boston apartment to Utah, to live in the fifth wheel travel trailer, my car held everything of value I owned (and my animals who I don’t own as they are living creatures and my family).  All except for one painting of a coastal setting, which I ultimately gave to my friend Michele back in Kanab.  I just had this feeling that she was the right person to receive it and her reaction to it confirmed that.

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You can only see two pet carriers in the photo, but there were five of them inside, plus Osito on my lap!

These days, I don’t buy much. When I do, it’s usually something I have thought about a lot, such as my first Christmas tree since 2014.  Someone told me that Hobby Lobby was selling all of their Christmas stuff at 50% off, so I bought a 4.5 foot tall tree and ornaments.  It makes me happy to look at it, and I feel like it makes the house more of a “home.”  When alone over the holidays, it can be very easy to feel down.  Believe me,  I know.  And it’s small enough that I can put it up in a tiny house later on!

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My first Christmas tree in three years. A whopping 4.5 feet tall.  My baby girl, Callie, approves!  Yes, one of the ornaments is a tiny, vintage travel trailer!

When do you feel most content? When shopping or indulging in retail therapy?  Or some other type of activity – exercise, etc.?  Tending to a hobby?  Reading a book?

Please drop me a line below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading, and if you think someone else would like or benefit from reading this post, please share it!

Focus, Leap, and Do Good “Stuffs”

As of today, the plural of stuff is stuffs! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

 

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FOCUS!

 

I had a conversation on Facebook over the weekend with someone who was in the first class of law students with whom I worked as a professional law librarian, while at Boston University Law School. That was a long 12 years ago, but he still remembers me and when I was typing back and forth with him, I could still hear that accent of his and see his big smile on his face. I remember thinking back then that he was so, so, so incredibly smart, and how in the world did I think I could help someone like him?!

Anyway, the point of this walk down my memory lane is this – he reminded me of how much I enjoyed teaching others and teaching them to teach themselves how to do things.  How sometimes when a patron would come up to me, completely lost and not exactly know what they were looking for, and sometimes it was a subject I didn’t know much about myself, how I would fumble through with them until we’d finally hit on some piece of knowledge or thought and then we’d both run with it! (Not all interactions were like this, of course, but it was these types that made me glad to do my job.)   He told me that I was so devoted to helping them learn, and a few other nice things, and said he thought it had been the opinion of many of his classmates as well.   He also told me that time and kindness are two of the most precious resources you can give.   I certainly gave them a lot of my time, and especially in the beginning of my career as a librarian, when I was learning so much myself every day, I remember thinking to myself how confused the foreign students must be, and how different it all must seem to them to learn about this whole other country’s set of  laws.  And how scary it can seem.  So if they saw my manner towards them as kind, well, I am glad, because I wanted to treat them the same way I would have wanted to be treated if in their shoes.

 

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LEAP!

 

One thing I don’t get to do much of these days is teach people.   Also, because it’s a for-profit business, sometimes, I feel like I have to really hold my tongue from expressing my opinions to customers, such as on issues of declawing cats, docking tails or ears of dogs such as Doberman’s, breeding in general, and failing to spay/neuter your pets.  Sometimes, I just want to scream at people, “What are you?? Stupid??!! Don’t you know all the various health issues with not spaying or neutering? And do you really think the world needs MORE unwanted animals?  WHY in the hell are you going to a breeder when the shelters are FULL of homeless pets?!” (Anybody who works in animal issues that says that they never say these things or even think them to themselves is lying, trust me.)  I also see the animals that come in that are being fostered after being removed from bad situations.  It sickens me.  Days like that, you catch yourself saying things like “I hate people” to yourself or under your breath.

However, there was one random day that a lady came in and asked about where she could get a German Shepherd dog, and we started talking.  The librarian in me took over, and before I knew it, I had turned the computer monitor towards her and started showing her how to do some searches on sites like Petfinder.com, how to navigate the ABQ city website, and started asking her some more questions about what it was she was really looking for in a dog.  As with some of my favorite interactions at the reference desk in the past, she took out a pen and paper and started writing stuff down so she could look on her own later on.

I’ve been doing some soul searching and thinking about what it is that makes me tick.  What kind of movies or videos I like to watch, or podcasts I like to listen to, or blog posts I like to read, and then share with others because I find them inspiring. I have tried to figure out a common thread between them.  In the past, I wrote this post about the movie called Opening Our Eyes.  I think I need to go back and watch the movie again.  I also wrote this post about the movie, I’m Fine, Thanks in which the filmmaker travels around the country and interviews people who want to make a change in their life, and then DO IT.

I may have talked about this on the blog before, and I thought about applying in the past, but of course, the issue of money is one that has stopped me from applying.  But I’m starting to really feel this pull inside like this is the right thing to do.  There is a Master’s degree program in Humane Education offered by the Institute for Humane Education.  The degree is taught online and has a week long residency requirement in a beautiful part of Maine, not far from Acadia National Park. The program is accredited through Valapraiso University, and the program I would look to finish is a Masters in Arts in Humane Education, because if I’m going to educate, I would rather it be outside of a traditional classroom, and have it be through my daily work, either with a non-profit, or a civic engagement, or an animal shelter, etc.  (They describe the MA in Humane Education as “designed for educators who wish to work outside of school settings, such as through community work, non-profits, arts activism, social services, law, and many other professions.“)  I like the idea of being able to use the education in many fields.

Part of the program involves a master’s thesis. It can be creative, professional, and/or research-based. All of those sound right up my alley.  If I could find a way to marry research with a realistic plan of how to bring my ideas into reality, I will feel successful.  And hey, maybe it could even become that book I have been wanting to publish. 🙂

 

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DO GOOD STUFFS! (Picture from the ABQ BioPark where lots of good stuffs are happening!)

I am grateful to have friends to bounce these ideas off of.  I swear to God, my friend Dan is kind of my grandmother reincarnated in the way that he kindly asks me probing questions to get me to think, and he reminds me that I’m always “go, go, GO!!” when I set my mind to something.  He wants me to sit back and breathe and really think about things, and for that, I love him to death.  I need someone like that in my life.  Especially when I’m 44 and considering putting yet even more money into education without the 100% guarantee it will get me a job that will pay that tuition money back, and again, I’m 44!   Putting myself through school again?  Didn’t I just consider this with the vet tech program at CNM? These are all questions I really need to think about. 

 

Dan has asked me to think about why I would want to do such a program, and here is my long-winded answer.  Many of you who have read my blog for a long time, or who were gluttons for punishment, and decided to go back to the beginning and start and catch yourselves up (and I LOVE all of you!), know that I have these big dreams, or big ideas, and I want to do so much, both in every ordinary day of my life, and with my life as a whole! But one of the problems I know I suffer from is being able to focus.  I can be like a raccoon that you throw something shiny in front of, and I’m already distracted.

My point is this:  I need the structure and guidance of someone else who has felt the same way and knows how to narrow down the wish list, how to take all the grandiose ideas and ACTUALLY put them into concrete action.  And I want to meet with others, both virtually, and in person, through the online class tools and at a practicum where I live, who feel the same way, who I can be made accountable to, and who can encourage me when I get discouraged along the way.  And I can learn how to integrate some of my ideas, because really, a lot of my concerns are interconnected:  animal protection, environmental protection, etc. You can’t really look at things in a vacuum anymore.  I look back at these earlier posts of mine and know now that figuring out how to focus my energies and integrate my ideas, has been my problem.

I also want to be like some of the students you see profiled on this page.  Some of the students who really caught my eye were involved in issues related to animals:

When I die, I don’t need to have been known for winning a Nobel Prize or having been someone like Bill Gates, or Mother Theresa.  I just want to have left this world in a little bit better place than it was when I entered it, and for some people to think of me and think “You know?  Terri was all right.  She did some good stuffs!”

What kind of good stuffs have you seen being done around you or do you want to achieve in your life?

Dream Killers (and how to stop them)

 

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image from pixabay.com

Okay, so as soon as you read this post, I want you to RUN, and I mean RUN, not walk, over to my friend Becky’s blog, Interstellar Orchard.  She is an amazing writer, (and person too!), and she recently wrote a post on What Kills Dreams.  As I read it, I was nodding my head like yep, yep, yep, and yep!! All so true!  Becky is a wonderful example of what determination and guts and practical planning can combine to create – a life whereby she lives the way she wants to, the hell with what everyone else thinks!

The thing that I hear the most from people is about fear.  When I first shared my dream with folks about leaving my librarian job at Harvard, it was a lot of their own fears projected onto me in the form of their worrying about me and whether I could make it.  Would it be too big of a change?  Could I handle it financially?  Why would I want to leave something so stable?  Something so high paying and that I went to school for, for MANY years and spent so much money on?? (Yeah, I’ll be real and admit that that last part still weighs on me some days, more than I’d like.)

Another fear I had (and still have, although to a lesser extent) is the fear of isolation when taking such a big step away from a life that you have taken years to cultivate.  It was actually this fear of mine that prompted this video by my good friend Dan of the Wander Dano channel on YouTube:

Ramble: Don’t Buy into the Fear of Isolation

I admit to still thinking of wanting to do the nomadic life like he does for part of each year, but part of what keeps me from doing it is the fear of isolation or loneliness.  Even though I’m usually an outgoing person, to still always be on your own, without a set of good friends physically close by, always at the ready to catch you and lift you up, it can still seem a bit scary to me.

One thing I heard a lot from my mom while growing up was “you can do anything you put your mind to.”  From my grandmother, I would hear my name repeated, “Terri, Terri, Terri….. don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.  One step at a time. ”  Meaning:  CALM DOWN and BREATHE.   (I had a tendency back then to sometimes take a small problem and get myself all worked up.)  These days, when I can see myself starting to act that way, I try to ask myself if it would be a problem I would be concerned with a year into the future.  More often than not, the answer is “no.”

I am very grateful today to have had two women in my life that were strong and showed me that I could be the same.   Neither ever felt like they were successful, but they were good at raising grandchildren and children. None of us ended up on drugs or addicted to alcohol and I think we’re contributing members of society in one way or another.  My brother with his music and innate running and coaching abilities, my sister with her abilities to educate kids and overall be a great mom, and me, well, I guess with my love of animals and the ones whose lives I have saved either by adopting them myself, or helping them to get adopted.

I used to be so afraid of what others thought of me.  I really did.  Then I grew up.  (I just wish it had happened before I hit my mid-30s.)  I used to always think everyone was smarter than me (a lot of people still are, but I don’t take what everyone else tries to tell me as the gospel truth to which I should always adhere, and I try to keep my own mind’s opinion on things, while still realizing there is stuff out there for me to learn.

Realize that if you chase your dreams, you ARE going to make mistakes.  You WILL.  But it’s how you react to them and learn from them that is important.  Looking back, I see lots of mistakes I’ve even made over the past two years, whether it be through dating, or choosing to live in an RV thinking it would be long term, and only lasting for 8 months, or thinking living in a small town would be the antidote to the stresses of big city life for so many years. I made mistakes by moving into an apartment in AZ that was too expensive for me to sustain, which kept me locked into a position at work that I didn’t feel suited for, but the salary was enough to keep me going.

Realize (and I know this is a cliche, but it’s very true) that it really IS the JOURNEY and not always the destination that matters.  When I first thought of moving out of Boston, I was so focused on the WHERE (ask my long-suffering friend Dan — he’ll start bobbing his head up and down like crazy.)  Having now lived in three towns/cities in 2 years, and in 6 locations over that short period of time (if you include the trailer park in Kanab, the employee campground at Lake Powell, the two studios in Greenehaven, the studio I moved to in ABQ, and the house/apartment I find myself in now in ABQ), I can now say that the location isn’t as important as I thought it once was.  Granted, location is somewhat important as it can determine the type of climate you live in.  I now think it’s a combination of what you are doing with your life in that location.   I may not be solving world peace every day here in ABQ, but I like to think I am enriching the lives of at least a few others I come into contact with every day.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m inspiring a few others to make small, incremental changes every day in order to help them chase their dreams.   Even if it’s just inspiring someone to write their dreams down on paper.  Or to go volunteer at an animal shelter one day, or to walk some dogs that desperately need the attention.  Or to wake up that little bit earlier every morning to get up and do a workout or go for a run. Or to just pull out their computer and do a little bit of research every day into other locations, or jobs that could make them feel happier with their life.

 

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A scene from the Bosque, one of my favorite places to go for a run!

 

If you’re feeling “stuck” in the life you currently lead (as I hear from a lot of people), then just try one thing, one small thing, every day.  Nothing is worse than feeling stuck in your life but not doing anything to change it.

For me, what kept (and still does keep) my dreams alive is when I get out of my head and write them down.  Seeing them in black and white, on real paper, or writing here on this blog.  It’s a practice of admitting things, putting them out there in the universe, for just yourself (or in my case, a few others), to see.

And again, as I said, check out Becky’s blog post on what kills dreams.  She decided her life in Wisconsin and then South Carolina wasn’t exactly right, so she set out to change that.  She bought a Casita and a truck to pull it with, and then she traveled and did seasonal work.  Now, she’s a writer, and only does seasonal work for part of the year.  The rest of her time, she’s inspiring others to live their lives the way THEY want to, not by the way that conventional society would probably prefer.

What kind of dreams do you have?  What keeps you from fulfilling them?  What little action could you take today to move one step  closer to chasing them? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Running and Thinking, Staying Positive

 

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Something I’ve begun doing – laying on the grass and taking pictures of the trees and sky above.

Yesterday was July 4th, Independence Day!  I know a few more active duty folks this year, and living so close to an air force base, I am reminded of the sacrifices that a lot of folks do every day so that the rest of us can live our lives out the way we want to.  (Even if for some of us, that means living the “American dream” even if it makes them unhappy.  The point is we get to choose what our lives look like.)  So to those of you currently serving, or who have served, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

After working an 11 hour day on Monday and facing a 10+ hour today, I decided to do something for myself yesterday morning, and go for a run in the Bosque.  Being at such a high altitude, and an arid climate, ABQ can have some wide temperature fluctuations every day.  I try to do my runs around 6 or 7 because usually the temps are in the 60s, but it’s a dry air, so it’s perfect running weather in my opinion. And yesterday was no exception.

The road near the  Bosque was closed for an “event” and it turns out it was a road race!! It’s funny but part of me misses running races, and part of me doesn’t.  For one thing, they can really add up financially, and I am definitely not the speedster I used to be.  It could be the altitude slowing me down, or my age, or just that my focus has shifted from always wanting to go faster, faster, faster, to now focusing on how I feel when I’m out there on a run.  It used to be about competition with others and myself.  It’s not anymore (and in fact, I find that running with my Garmin now stresses me out as I’m looking at the distance run, and the pace is so much slower than it used to be that I start to feel down on myself, and it takes the joy out of it.)

When I found myself breathing too heavily yesterday and stopped for a quick walk to catch my breath, I caught myself from going down that negative pathway I used to go, whereby I would berate myself or feel discouraged for having to “stop” and walk.   Instead, I said aloud (I really did, and yes, I can be such a dork at times), “That’s not what today’s run is about.  Today is about feeling good, enjoying nature, and having this time to myself.”  And you know what?  Talking aloud to yourself can really help sometimes.  I found myself smiling.  And then I picked up the running again.

Yesterday was unique in that normally I run with music (my phone strapped to my arm but no headphones, so I can hear if bikers come up behind me.) Well, yesterday, I mistakenly left the armband at home.  So it was running with just the thoughts in my head and the sounds of the breeze rippling through the trees around me, and birds flying in the air, with the occasional greeting of “good morning” or “Happy Fourth of July”  when I infrequently saw someone else on the trails.  I understood what others have meant when they’ve said that sometimes running without music can be a meditative experience.  It’s just you, your body and your thoughts.

 

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Taken from the Sandia Crest – altitude of 10,678 feet.

 

Yesterday, I thought of all the times I’ve said I WANT to do something.  Like, I WANT to write more.  Or I WANT to do more transcription work and have more money to pay off bills at the end of the month.  Or I WANT to simplify my life even more.

You know what?  You can WANT or desire things all you want, but until you put your money where your mouth is,  that’s all IT is, a THOUGHT.  I’ve always been so afraid to write and try to get paid for it.  I look at other published works (either self-published or traditional) and think “THIS someone got paid for?”  or “this person decided to do something and did it, and here I’m paying money for it.” I COULD DO THAT if only I could get over myself and my self-doubt. I need to stop THINKING and start DOING.

I was also thinking, I like my job, but it’s not something I want to do forever.  There are certain parts of it that I love – getting to see some of the cute dogs and cats, (and yes, even avians or funny reptiles like bearded dragons), but some of it can be really monotonous too, like running credit cards through the machine over and over again.  I do feel like I’m good in the euthanasia situations that we face just about every day, and think I do a good job with comforting the owners, or at the very least, making the situation at least a little less horrible for them.  And yes, I’m seeing animals hands-on.

But I’m also seeing that so much of it is a business.  So many times I answer the phone and hear someone in tears or close to it, about their pet, and hear them say that they can’t afford the treatment that they know their pet needs.  Or I’m ringing up credit cards for several hundred dollars or even more.  And after a while, it’s like when I worked at a bank, you don’t see the numbers as real money. It’s just another figure.  And then I think to myself, if I didn’t work here and didn’t get the huge employee discount I do have, I would be one of those people on the phone, in tears, wondering how to pay for their care and still afford rent and food for that month.  In a city like ABQ, where people don’t make a lot, it’s a call I hear way too often.

I have a brain and I want to use it more.  Many of you might remember that I first moved to ABQ because I wanted to be a vet tech.  After working in an animal hospital now for about 7 months or so, I don’t think so, anymore.  I think the pace at my hospital is very stressful for a lot of the techs and employees (we see emergency cases all day and all night long), and I’ve heard some of the animals crying back in treatment or in ICU and the techs have to deal with that much more up close and personal than I do.  They’re the ones restraining the animal who is scared or confused or hurt, or holding the oxygen hose over its mouth to try and stabilize it.  I see the stress on their faces and the toll it takes.

It could just be that it’s the “hospital” side of things that has made me change my mind on being a tech.  Working on the sanctuary side of things is a very different aspect to animal care.  You have a different mission in mind.  I’m still figuring these differences out in my mind and learning what makes me tick when it comes to animals and creating my life (financial and otherwise) around them.

I always have so many plans each day as to what I want to get done – I want to exercise, and write, and do more freelance work, and some days I’m super motivated, and then some nights I get home, and am so mentally exhausted that I just sit and stare at the wall. Or pet my own babies and then go to sleep.

Being in a hospital setting, even one with animals, can be very stressful.  People can be short with one another, and I try to remind myself on a daily basis, and sometimes several times during the day, not to take the shortness or abruptness of others’ attitudes personally.  But I’ll be honest.  I am human, and sometimes I get pissed off. Luckily, I now have a roommate who I came home and vented to the other night.  (Yep, I’ve got an air mattress in the living room and things seem to be working out well so far.  I’ve set up the mattress so it doubles as a couch.)  It is a guy roommate and he could tell just by the way I walked in the door that I needed some down time and quite frankly, needed to bitch about some things.

So today when I go into work, the day after the Fourth of July, when I am sure we will be slammed with folks picking up their fur babies from boarding, or folks calling to see if someone has found their pet who escaped last night, freaked out from fireworks, and having our busiest vet on the schedule, and just the usual amount of walk-ins, I will try to remind myself to take a moment and breathe.  Don’t take the stress that others are pouring out and onto me, personally.   Realize that not everyone has the same coping skills that I have tried to hone over the past few years.  Realize it’s a job.  And that yes, I did give up my past life to take on these new roles willingly, and realize it’s not going to be where I spend the rest of my life.    And as one of my coworkers once said to me, “be like a duck, and let it all wash over you.”

And remember, I can come home.  I do have a roof over my head.  I can hug my furballs.  I can pull out this laptop and write here or in my personal journal.  I can take control of my finances and look for second and third jobs (the paper route didn’t work out, I will discuss that in a later post).  And use my skills and smarts to change my life if I don’t like the direction in which it’s going.  If I’ve learned nothing else over the past few years, it’s that I CAN make changes, I don’t have to stay stuck in one place, or in one job, or in a role that I think others perceive I should be doing.

I realize this post might seem to have been quite a ramble, but it’s also been quite the therapeutic one for me.  Hopefully, there’s a point in it that can provide someone else reading it, with some clarity.  For me, I’m glad to have gotten up early to complete it, and to now still have time to get some transcription done, or to complete my profile on flexjobs so I can look for some more side work to fill in the gaps.

I hope that you will have a good day after the fourth, and as always, to the very few of you out there still reading, thank you for doing so. 🙂

 

 

 

My Money Mindset

 

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Totally unrelated to the subject of this blog entry.  Cochiti “Lake” (really more of a reservoir) but just exemplifies the vast open spaces and views of the southwest.

I love a particular podcast called Budgets and Cents.  One of their recent episodes talked about their money mindsets, and it was interesting to hear how their mindsets had reversed over the past year.

 

One mindset that a lot of us have is one of scarcity. It’s one that I have fallen victim to off and on in my life.  Recently, I found myself going down that road, and I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it at all.  I’m one of those individuals who feel that whatever energy you put out into the universe will affect the situations and individuals who come into your life.  So I knew I needed to make a change. I really think you can change your life or your circumstances if you put your mind to it.

When I was first separated from my marriage, there was a day that it became very clear to me that my outlook on life was hugely important to my everyday life.  I could choose to be sad and miserable and hate myself every day or I could choose to wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Today is going to be better than yesterday.  Even if it’s just one small thing, that counts.”

So, when I found myself feeling very stressed about my financials recently, I decided to take a deep breath.  Then I started to ask myself what I could do to change that.  I thought of the transcription work I’ve already done over the past several months and started to look into other companies that are hiring, to supplement the income I make from my first priority company.  (It’s also run by a friend, so I can’t and won’t let her down.)

I also looked into Flexjobs, and just signed up today for a membership.  It costs $49.95 for the year, but they also offer promo codes, so I got 30% off of my first-year membership with them.  I like that the jobs and employers are vetted by real, live humans and not a computer!  At the very least, I will know that the jobs I am applying to are real and not scams.  The way I look at it, paying $3-4/month in order to have the opportunity to obtain flexible side-hustle work is a very low fee to pay. Even if I only get one job off of there, I think it will pay for itself. That’s my attitude and I’m sticking to it!

As soon as I changed my attitude, I heard good news from my friend who asks me to do transcription jobs.  It looks like there will be a good amount of work coming my way, very soon, and I can’t wait.  I like being needed and knowing that my efforts are helping someone else out.  Plus, the work is generally pretty interesting.

And finally, a friend of mine has had a delivery route with the Albuquerque Journal for several years.  I’m going to ride along on a route tomorrow and see what I think, if I can handle it.  It would involve getting up early every morning (usually papers have to be delivered by 6 a.m. during the week), but Hello! That’s something I already do, get up early! At least this way, I could get paid for it. I would be paid as a 1099 contractor, so I know I would need to hold money  back for taxes.  But it would still allow me to pay off my debts very quickly and then start putting money aside for things like travel, etc.

A good friend of mine was concerned I was losing sight of my goals by entertaining this idea.  But I’m not.  Rather, it will help me stay on board with those goals.  My day job really just covers the day to day expenses.  If I want to get ahead, I have to sacrifice in some places, and in this case, the sacrifice will be in time. But it will be worth it.  I will pay off my credit cards, then pay off my vet bill at my employer, and then pay off my car.  I really want the car paid off before I reach 100K miles.  And the best part about it?  I will be able to do that work and be productive before most people even get up in the morning and have their first cup of coffee.  And you know what?  A lot of people are in the same boat as me, having to work more than one job.  I know some of you readers have done this before.

One thing my mom taught me is a good work ethic. She taught me to do whatever you need to do to get things done and take care of yourself.  And that’s what I am going to do. By the way, if you like to listen to podcasts like I do, there is a good one called His and Her Money.  They had a recent episode called 3 Words That Will Help You Get Out of Debt Faster.   And those words are Whatever. It. Takes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a few skills tests for Flexjobs to add to my skills already listed on my resume. 🙂  And snuggle with a few furry ones, because, as you know, they are the reason for the changes in my life I’ve undertaken over the past few years. ❤

As always, thank you for reading.