Staying motivated, journalling, side hustling, and goal setting.

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Do you feel inspired when you see a blank sheet of paper like in this photo above? Or does it stress you out?

I don’t know about a lot of you but I journal just about every day.  A blank page in a notebook is actually exciting to me because writing helps me to stay grounded and focus on what is going on in this befuddled brain of mine and put things in some semblance of order. Below is the abbreviated version of the thoughts rumbling around in my head for the past week or so.

Side hustling:

I haven’t been blogging as much over the past week or so because I’ve been doing a lot of transcribing for my friend Elaine.  Have to do the side hustle work when you can get it!  None of that time is wasted as I am continuing to learn about topics of which I knew almost nothing about beforehand. The day I stop learning is a day I never want to experience!

I am continuing to do the Proofread Anywhere class with the goal of eventually being able to do that as freelance income. It’s actually helping me to become a better writer.  I’m re-learning a lot of grammar rules that I forgot so long ago.  So while it may appear that by going through those exercises, I’m digressing from my other goals, I don’t see it that way.  I see them all melding together in a beneficial way.

Changes to finance goals:

With the new tax bill providing me with a whole $15 per pay check (note the sarcasm), I decided to increase my 401(k) contribution to 8% of my paycheck.  An additional $9 per paycheck, but as anyone knows when saving for long term goals, every little bit helps.  Plus, the government gets $1 less per paycheck this way if my calculations are correct.  Every extra dollar for me is a dollar less for them, so I’m okay with that!

I’ve learned that many of my coworkers (including my boss) don’t have a 401(k) set up yet and the thought of that scares the bejesus out of me, to be my age (45) and not have anything saved up.  That was the situation with my mom – never had a 401(k) and I REFUSE to let that become me.

I am starting to plan on paper for what I want to happen over the next 12 months, monetarily-wise.  That involves making some good headway on my auto loan, of which the balance is currently $4,079.12.  My monthly payment has been $141.42.  I plan on increasing that to about $155/month.  That way, I have made at least one extra payment on it by the end of the year.

I’m revamping my budget to see where things can be cut and how I can save more money on things like groceries.  Becoming a full vegan will help, as a lot of the junk foods that I used to eat would contain things like cheese or milk  chocolate, so I will be eating better as well. I’ve taken my lunch to work for years, but now it involves a salad pretty much every day and I’m learning ways to make the salad more filling (using tofu, adding peanuts, etc.) so I’m less likely to snack during the day or crave something that isn’t good for me.  And really – veggies and other produce don’t have to be expensive if you are careful.

I have decided I really need to live by a budget if I am going to get ahead.  A future post will lay it all out.  I need accountability partners for it!

Writing goals:

Due tomorrow for my Writing for Social Change class is a plan regarding what project I want to work on for the semester, with the goal of having something to publish.   I’ve decided to write a memoir, and I’m learning that it’s definitely different than writing your autobiography.  (That’s a good thing because my autobiography could probably be used by people who suffer from insomnia.  They wouldn’t need any sleep aid after that! LOL).

From all the memoirs I’ve read, I’ve learned something.  Also, I have realized that writing this blog is kind of like writing my memoir in a way.  With each of my posts, I hope to touch someone’s heart or soul and inspire.  That’s why I share as much as I do in my posts.  I want to give words or comfort to someone else who might have experienced the same as me or had the same thoughts as me, but who just can’t put those into words.

By tomorrow, I need to and shall have a schedule prepared for just how I plan to accomplish that over the next few months. It is going to involve a lot of my telling my inner editor to Shut the F Up! 🙂  I am not sure yet how it will all unfold but I do know that animals will probably play a prominent role in my writing of it. My pets and my love for animals are behind so many of my decisions.

Accountability Partner:

I have already asked my friend Dan if he would like to be a reader of mine for my memoir.  He knows me very well and will be able to tell if what I’ve written just doesn’t sound like something I would say, or if something is coming across to the reader in one way but is meant to be understood in a different way.  He’s always been blunt with me about things, and sometimes I even ask him to play devil’s advocate.  He’s the one who tells me to “Focus, focus, focus!!” when I start telling him about all of my goals and thoughts and they seem to be bouncing all over the place.  I need that, trust me!  By the way, if you want to follow him on youtube, he is known as Wander Dano.  After watching his recent video on why he chose his Class B, I have to say, he really has me thinking about saving up for one.

Thank you:

I wanted to thank those of you who have written comments or sent me messages about my dad.  He died on Sunday morning, ten years to the day that his younger brother died from early-onset Alzheimers.  It is for the best, and all of my siblings and I will be converging at Boston in the very beginning of March for his wake service.  He is being cremated so it can be pushed back until then.  Although the circumstances suck, it will be really good to see my friends again and to have all five of us together again.

Below is a picture of all of us at my brother’s wedding this past May.  In case you’re wondering, I’m the short girl standing next to the really tall guy in the suit!!

 

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We range in age from 44 (the groom) to 58 – if you ask me, I think we look pretty damn good for our ages!! My oldest brother, Mike, is on the right, and is currently overlanding through South America with his wife, Geneva.  (And yes, “overlanding” is a real word.)  You can read about their adventures at It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast HouseHe will be flying to Boston from Nicaragua.  His wife, Geneva, writes most of the posts and she is a great writer, so please check out their blog.  You’ll learn a lot!  Living an unconventional life appears to agree with him, wouldn’t you say?

What kinds of activities do you do to ground yourself?  How do you make plans or do you make plans on a yearly basis, or longer or shorter?  Anyone out there willing to be an accountability partner with me about any of my goals?  Especially my financial ones??  Please comment below!!

This post has already become much longer than I planned, so as always, I thank you for reading.  Please share it if you think it will help someone else out, or resonate with someone.

 

 

 

 

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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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.)

 

Wants vs. Needs

Now that I am making roughly 25% of my income from last year, I really have to know the difference of needs vs. wants. It’s a necessity for me to be able to make this distinction, not a luxury. I know the four walls concept of needs: food, shelter, transportation and utilities. But of those, what is really necessary? Read more

Getting Rid of My Debt: A New Beginning and Focus

This is a post I’ve been contemplating writing for the past two or so weeks, but for some reason, couldn’t bring myself to hit the “publish” button. I’m not sure why. I have just felt out of sorts when it comes to my financial situation because I still haven’t been able to look at a full month’s worth of expenses and salary, to see how it’s really setting itself up. Maybe that’s why. I’m pretty sure it is the reason, actually.  Read more

Setting Priorities and Goals

I promise this entire post is not about food. But I have clarified a few things in my head over the past few days.

1) Watching the movie Cowspiracy really hit me hard this weekend. Until now, I’ve found it pretty easy to not eat any meat products for the past few years. Whenever I felt like “oh, that meat smells good….” I would then remind myself of why I don’t eat meat. Not because I don’t like the taste, but because I don’t want to be part of anything that involves an animal being slaughtered. But I couldn’t give up the dairy quite so easily. Maybe because I’d been brought up to drink milk as if it was water – literally, we used to go through so many gallons of milk every few days in our house. It was nothing to have a few glasses of milk at dinner time. It didn’t matter what we were eating. Spaghetti with milk? Sure! (I know, gross, right?) And it wasn’t skim milk we were drinking but the whole vitamin D milk. Yep. (Let’s not even talk about the powdered milk we drank when times were tough, money-wise. Eeww.)

Even when I was married, when I went to the store, I would buy skim milk for my husband and whole milk for myself. Eventually, he talked me into trying 2% and I noticed I didn’t have as many stomach issues as I used to have. So I slowly worked myself down to where I was drinking skim milk. And now I only use almond milk or coconut milk and I find that I don’t miss regular cow’s milk.

I believe I have mentioned I have fibroids, and that’s why I will be in surgery just three weeks from today. I didn’t realize until watching that movie over the weekend, that dairy products can contribute to fibroids. Now, while I will be having my fibroids-producing organ removed (ahem, uterus), I still want to continue not drinking cow milk. The movie showed how many acres it can take to feed a vegan per year vs. just a vegetarian. The difference was astounding – .6 acres to feed a vegan, whereas it takes 1.8 acres to feed a vegetarian. Imagine what I might be able to do with my own garden! (By the way, I love gardening, getting out there and getting my hands dirty, watching something grow from my own labor, and that tastes amazing!) So, priority #1 is to no longer bring dairy products into my home (I’m going to probably still eat the chocolate yogurt I have in my fridge until the next grocery day, just because I love chocolate and I already bought it), but after that, no dairy products enter my doorway.

2) Priority #2,  I set over the weekend was to save even more from each of my paychecks. I’ve been putting away $750 out of every paycheck since last summer. Before that, I was definitely saving but not at such a rate, as my focus had been more on paying down my private student loan, whose balance sits at $12,777.97 as of today (just checked.) As of this weekend, I decided I would start trying to save $835 from each paycheck. That may not sound like a lot more – it’s $170 but I’ve already been cutting down my expenses as much as I can. So this means really tightening the grocery budget and keeping the pet expenses in check as well. I have to admit, looking back at what I’ve spent with Chewy.com (a company I can’t recommend enough, and one, who when you call their number, you get a real live person on the other end, imagine!), I’ve been doing pretty good. I’ve been planning budgets for pet food, etc., for about $180 per month and I’ve actually spent more of an average of $130/month, so I was feeling pretty good about that. That’s just for their food and litter, pee pads for Osito, etc., no vet expenses.

My take home after savings is now about $2460 a month. I budget it like this:

  • $1050  – rent
  • $55 – internet service
  • $35 – cell (with Cricket Wireless, I get 2.5 gb of data/month, suits me just fine.)
  • $25 – electricity/gas (this goes up a bit in summer, with the AC, but not too much.)
  • $167 – private student loan
  • $538 – interest only payments on federal student loans (yep, that only keeps the loan from growing, folks)
  • $250 – food
  • $160 – zipcar (this is to get back and forth to volunteering with the livestock animals.)
  • $150 – pet food, etc. (still gonna budget higher because some months, it’s higher than others, etc.)

I totalled this up and it comes to $2430. So as you can see, I need to be frugal and keep an eye on these expenses, as there isn’t much room for error. I’m considering it practice for when my life plans change.  Not drinking coffee, and not eating a lot of processed foods should help a lot with the grocery budget. Plus, soon, I can start riding my bike more regularly and going to my local grocer guy who only takes cash for payment but offers produce at an amazing price, and always with a smile.

And yes, I do plan on including personal care items more and more into the grocery end of the budget, such as toilet paper, the occasional need to buy shampoo and conditioner, get a hair cut, etc.  I buy some things in bulk, like toilet paper, paper towels, pee pads, from amazon, so the cost is defrayed over a few months. I also don’t cut my hair that often (it’s below my shoulders) and when I do color it, it’s done at home by me. I take care of my eyebrows mainly by myself. It’s amazing what you can save when you take care of things on your own rather than paying someone else to do it. (Speaking of, after my surgery, I will continue using instacart for my groceries, but once I’m healed, it’ll be me going to my grocer guy.)

You’ll notice I don’t really have laundry expenses added into all of that. That’s because I use a Manatee portable washing machine for almost all of my laundry (blankets and towels, excepting), and a spin dryer (mine is similar to this one on amazon) and then air dry most of my laundry.I used to spend upwards of $10/week on laundry. The cost of the two portable machines has more than paid me back over the past year or so.  Here’s a video of how to use the Manatee on youtube. I just keep mine in the tub and fill it from the tub directly and then let the drain hose go right into the tub drain.

3) Priority #3  – Don’t let up on the downsizing. I need to sell my scooter which will soon be coming out of storage, and also other items in my apt that generally just take up space. I have some items from my grandmother I will likely sell – I have realized, if my apt were to catch on fire, I wouldn’t rush to save them, but I would rush to save the photos of her I have on my bedroom dresser. That tells me what truly holds meaning for me where she is concerned.

4) Priority #4 – this one is still being defined in my mind but it involves making some changes in this world, becoming more involved with causes I care about. The environment. Animals. When I watched that movie, I saw all these people who were so passionate about a particular subject.  I’m going to start researching groups in my area now and in NC and learning ways to get involved. Start reaching out to people now and learn how I can be of help. See if they need someone to help with preparing any written materials for them, on the web or in some other form of media (especially when I won’t be able to do much physically after my surgery.) So maybe it’s more like a goal right now than a priority as I need to make it clearer in my mind. I’ll keep you updated.

I’m home today trying to get rid of a very stubborn cold that came back with a vengeance this past weekend and is totally pissing me off. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and am going to ask them if I can take an antibiotic of sorts, to get rid of it. I need to be done with it for my surgery! Coughing after abdominal surgery – yeah, not something I want to do!

Anyway, sorry this post has appeared to ramble a bit, but I felt the need or urge to write today and put some of these things out there. I like the accountability aspect.

If you’ve liked this post, please hit like or subscribe or drop me a line below. And thanks, as always, for reading.

A New Direction

Part of my inspiration for today’s post: 

Instead of my usual thankful post to end the week, I wanted to share some information about some decisions I’ve made about my life. Whereas before I was changing my mind almost week to week, this one has stuck, and when I see videos like this, it hits me in the gut that the decision I’m making now is the right one and probably one which I’ve been drawn to my whole life, but didn’t know how to properly act on.

In case you’re a recent reader, I’ll recap briefly. A few years ago, I thought, well, since I’m so interested in fitness, why not get certified to be a professional trainer? (This idea was prompted in part by many of my friends and coworkers saying to me, “you know, you should be a trainer!”) So I took two certification tests, and also took a few specialization tests, so I could work with a few different “populations” and I got a job at a fitness club so I could see what that life is like from the other side. I really kept telling myself that that was what I meant to do, even as I started to question things as I was studying for the second (and very difficult) certification test. And it started to nag at me that I wouldn’t be able to be outside more if I became a trainer, and of all the hours I would need to spend away from my animals. Then, I thought of living in an RV and doing the travel and workamping thing to support myself, but I realized that lifestyle might not be best for my animals, and also, it would likely not end up costing me less than living in a stationary place. That, and I do like some stability in my life. (This is not to say that I won’t ever end up full time RVing, just not right now.)

Then, I thought “well, maybe I should do some sort of survival program, or even go into organic farming.” Notice, both of those kinds of paths would keep me outdoors a lot. So that seemed to be a theme. I also found that I was happiest when around my pets. Yes, it’s the unconditional love thing at work, I am sure. But it’s also that animals don’t play politics, so we understand each other just fine. Because that’s one thing I just don’t do. Play politics and say yes until I feel like a bobblehead that’s been broken. It’s just not me and I will never apologize for it.

Then there is that punched-in-the-gut feeling I get whenever I read about animals being neglected or abused, or treated like they are just a thing without feelings or souls.  It makes me ashamed for not doing more to help them on a day to day basis. So, I’ve decided I am going to go back to school for an associates degree of applied science with a concentration in veterinary technology. My plan is to go through the formal application process over the next few months with Colby Community College, based out of Kansas. Yes, they are accredited by the AVMA, or I wouldn’t even consider the program. They have been quite responsive to my questions so far. They have just recently been accredited so I am sure they want to really get the word out.

I might be thought insane to do this at age 42, and I do know now that a lot of the job is learned on-the-job but I’ve always felt better also having the book knowledge behind me. Plus, while the program I will be going to will be a distance-based program, there are lots of requirements that will have me learning on the job. An externship/internship will be required, and I’m hoping that the fact that I am going to school for it will help me find a job working for a vet in a new location. And when there is time, I also want to be more involved in animals’ rights issues.

So, since I have been out of school for a while and I didn’t have the foresight as a teenager to take more AP classes than I did, I have a lot of prerequisites to catch up on, like Biology and Chemistry, etc. I will be taking three classes in the spring semester while working, and three over the summer as well. There is also a 1-credit class called Intro to Vet Technology that I have to take, so I’m hoping to squeeze that in by August. This schedule may seem a bit aggressive, or insane, to some, but when you finally figure out what your heart desires or what you really want to do with your life, you want that life to start NOW.  There is also the incentive to start now and take as many classes as I can because my employer will pay 75% of the tuition up to 10 credits taken per semester, even if the classes are not related to my current position. This, and the fact that I will be auditing the Animal Law class in the spring means it’s going to be animals, animals, and more animals for me this coming year!!

Just an aside – do you know how weird it felt to call up my high school last week and ask for my high school transcript? Talk about transported back into the past! Seeing those classes and grades listed again, there are no words….

By the way, I usually don’t get into politics on this blog, but I just have to say, this speech did bring some tears to my eyes and a big shit-eating grin to my face last night. Whatever you think of her, Elizabeth Warren is someone who is not afraid to call Bullshit when she sees it. She is my new role model. I’m hoping her husband’s door is open on Monday morning when I go into work so that I can say a personal thank you for her bravery for naming names and taking numbers. She might be one of the most hated women in certain circles, but what’s that saying? Quiet women never changed history.  And with that, I wish you a good weekend!

As always if you have liked this post, please hit like or subscribe, or leave a comment below!