Monday, March 27, 2017

On Hiatus

If you couldn't tell by the lack of postings, I am too busy of late for keeping up with the blog. I barely even check in on any of my social media pages lately. There is a reason, though. It's...


                                                   Image result for new beginning


Here's the deal: I am moving. (Yes, again, but this time for keeps!).

Last time I tried making a break with Alaska, I had a perfect storm of health issues (my own, a friend's and my sisters) to rain all over my intent. This time, I have nothing holding me to this place. I'm ready. More than ready. At this point, a move is almost necessary for me to proceed with anything else in my life.

I had to do a lot of praying to get to this point. I've been through a lot of struggles and stressful life changes that I never imagined I'd have to deal with. There's been death and divorce and a lot of other causes for sadness. About a year ago, I was talking with someone about how rough the past 10 years have been for both of us (and she has had it way harder than I have!). This image reminds me of what she told me at the end of our conversation:

Image result for starting over
Good advice for the battered soul
So, I am hitting the Reset button on my life. Of course, that is a major event. Moving is a major, time-sucking process.

For now, my book (that neglected project) is on hold. My other book is on hold. My plans to start video blogging... all on hold. Just until I get moved and settled into my new surrounding.

I almost don't even want to mention the moving process. Ugh! Moving is right up there on the stress scale with death and divorce and going to jail. Not that I know anything about the latter!

I started thinking about moving right after my sister passed away but didn't want to make a hasty decision. As soon as the first anniversary of her death came and went, I knew it was time to start making a life and a home for myself.  It only took me another year to make the decision final in my head. Most of that time was spent preparing myself to be more than a car ride away from this little piece of my heart:

I love him so
💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔💔
It's going to be tough not seeing him every day, not snuggling with him to watch his Iron Man videos or have interesting little conversations or pretend that we are communicating via radio. This is the kid that got my heart and soul safely through the last couple of years. Thank goodness we'll be able to use video messaging and phone calls to stay in touch. Also, he usually does an annual stateside visit where I can get over to see him. I think he'd much rather have a happier aunt that he sees once in a while than one who is slowly suffocating in sadness and inertia. And the kid is so smart that, this time next year, he'll probably be able to spell both those words!



The thing about moving is, it's very tiring.   VERY tiring   😫😫😫😫😫😫😫
                                 Image result for moving is stressful

Because of my medical issues, I had to give myself plenty of time to work with my current doctors in setting up a new care team. That went easier than I expected. The most tedious part of this move is that I am not looking back so I have to get rid of almost everything before I go. Not that I have a ton of stuff, but I have enough.

A friend of mine is helping me to get rid of a bunch of stuff. She is doing donation and consignment runs for me each week. I can't believe that, as broke as I am, I have collected eight - EIGHT - garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and purses already. Don't ask me why someone with no money needs that many purses!

Image result for moving is stressful
Lesson learned!!!
                                         
Let me tell you something serious: I am NEVER going to accumulate so much stuff ever again. Ever. There is no reason for me to have a couple closets filled with clothing when I basically wear four pairs of jeans, maybe ten tops, three pairs of footwear, and a couple of coats. I can spend $6.00 and do all my laundry in about two loads - and that's allowing for separating lights from darks.

I was telling my best friend that the other day and she just laughed at me, but I am for real. My new attitude is going to be not to buy, accept, or even look at anything unless I have a plan for using it. I mean it. I don't even want to collect groceries that I don't have a meal plan for. I am so disgusted with myself now for having so much stuff that I haven't used in years when there are people going without things they actually need. Besides, think of the wasted money. Ugh!

The other thing that is giving me heartburn is just arranging the few things I am shipping ahead. There's not much I plan to keep, but memories are always hard to pack. I gave up on the idea of taking my car. Believe it or not, I feel attached to Ol' Bessie Lou... And my lovely trailer. That's going up for sale also. That was another hard thing to think about getting rid of.

I'm glad that I am giving myself so much time. I made the decision around the beginning of February and waited a couple of weeks to see if I had any trepidation. When I realized that this is a necessary life change, I decided on July as my be-somewhere-else date. Then my docs here did such a good job with referral appointment, I had to move that date up a bit.

So far, I'm doing okay with getting things in order, but the fatigue is really weighing me down. Almost anyone dealing with a chronic disease can tell you that fatigue is a constant shadow. I'm trying to keep my stress levels low so that I don't aggravate my condition, but... moving. Ugh. I'll be so glad when I can sit down (okay, I probably won't have chairs for a while) and know that I don't have to worry about all the little details I'm dealing with right now.

Do you get any sense of the anxiety, excitement, hope, and the sheer shivers I'm feeling?                                
Anyway, I had to post something to explain this little hiatus I'll be taking. My blog numbers are so low right now, it might take another year to build them back up!

When I get back to this blog, I hope to see you guys still dropping by and supporting the effort. In the meantime, I'll be welcoming all prayers and positive vibes to get me through the rest of this summer.


💓
Peace
--Free                          

P.S.: If this post is rambling, my apologies. Fatigue.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

**REVIEW** MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Methylsulfonylmethane.Try saying that just one time without spitting. Or you can just call it MSM.





It was a podcast that even led me to learn about this type of product. I was listening to The History Chicks discuss Madam C.J, Walker. Apparently, one of the ingredients Madam included in a product was precipitated sulfur. I remembered that my mother talked about how when she was a young girl, her own mother used sulfur for various things. Then I thought about the Sulfur8 hair products that are around today.

When I went looking for uses for sulfur, I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole. This is some of the information I found:

Nothing added
  1. Of course, I started with WebMD because, you know... The first thing I saw is what really hooked me in: People take sulfur by mouth for shortness of breath, allergies, swelling in the back of the throat (pharyngitis), high cholesterol, clogged arteries, menopause, and upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. Well now. As someone with a chronic disease that affects my lungs, among other things, I had to know more. That I didn't see anything about interactions really brightened my attitude! (BTW: Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider before trying ANYTHING, even supplements that may seem harmless.)
  2. This helped explain the different forms and uses of sulfur. Still, I wanted to get even more specific.
  3. I'm sure a lot of folks would want to know if and how sulfur could promote hair growth. Since I take a medication that damages my hair, I wanted to know about this. Livestrong has an article on MSM and hair growth. It seems that more and larger trial studies are needed to support hair growth claims. (Also, please notice that sulfur comes in various forms. I have the crystals - or 'flakes' - but I've seen powders.)
  4. Black Hair Information led me to another form (or type, I guess) of sulfur that can be used topically for the hair and skin. There is a recipe for making an oil to use. I didn't even see the 'sublimed sulfur' when I found the crystals I have. I also saw information on some powders that strongly suggest checking amounts to use directly on skin and hair. So... go forth with caution!
Like I just mentioned in the last note, there are plenty of warnings to be careful of using sulfur direcly on the skin and hair. This was bothersome to learn because I really want to try treating my eczema with sulfur. For now, I am taking my crystals internally so that's all I can discuss from personal experience.

This is what the MSM that I am using looks like:

Like thick salt crystals...

The Kala brand came with a double-sided scoop - one side in a teaspoon measurement and the other in a tablespoon. Personally, I decided not to even attempt doing a full dose of either. I have been using about a quarter teaspoon twice a day.

The first time I took a tiny dose, I was pretty wowed. For one thing, I was super happy that the juice I mixed the MSM in totally masked any bitter or foul taste. (I haven't tasted the crystals solo, but I understand they can be horribly bitter.) The big surprise was that I could feel some physical effect just minutes after taking the MSM. It's hard to describe what I felt but, basically, there was a slight buzzy feeling of energy. Keep in mind that I only took about a fourth of a teaspoon because I wanted to be sure that my body would tolerate MSM.

As far as my eczema (which is on my feet), I haven't seen any results yet, but it is still only a couple of days into my MSM use.

Finally, I just want to share a thought I had the other day when I was considering energy supplements: A lot of us mistake 'energy' for 'motivation'. We'll say that we are tired when we might just be depressed or in a rut. I actually do suffer from fatigue, but I also have mild depression. I'm trying to be really careful to distinguish between the two. All the energy pills in the world are not going to get me up and functioning if I'm suffering from the blues. Anyway, I just wanted to throw that out there. I'm no doctor, of course, but if anyone is feeling prolonged symptoms of fatigue, they should probably see their doctor. Don't let things go undiagnosed or treated.

I will be back to update on my results with the MSM. In the meantime, keep smiling. Oh, and I'm including a video of a really nice song I heard while watching the show "Goliath". This is a real soul-soother. I'm going to have to buy a copy of this one!

Peace
--Free




Thursday, March 09, 2017

TV and Podcast Bing-a-thon

(I haven't posted for a while. Fighting fatigue and I have a whole lot going on with my life right now. This is, I guess, a "filler" post. Just so y'all don't think I've forgotten about you. Pretty soon here, I'll be back to post a couple of product reviews - for some MSM supplements and a re-hash of a hair product I tried once before. Meantime, here's a little something random.)

Whenever the subject of TV comes up, I automatically admit that I'm don't watch much. That's kind of a lie. I don't watch TV on a regular basis the way a lot of people do. I know some people who can set their schedule by what's on TV. For me, television shows (via my computer) are an alternative to sleeping pills. I will pick a show and set the timer on my PC. Some nights I might make it through more than one episode of a series. Lately, I've been suffering insomnia so I've been getting in about 3 episodes a night.

"The Wire" is a show I just finished binge-watching. I'd never seen it before. What a great series! The storylines and cast were superb. (I still don't think Idris Elba is all that sexy. He is, but he isn't. I am impressed that he pulled off a regional American accent as well as he did.)

bingeing on the tube

I gave "Hannibal" a full episode and still can't get into it. Next, I tried watching "Oz", but... that one I'll have to get back to. Also tried "24" and got bored after about ten minutes. I'm not sure why that was such a hit. Maybe I just need to give it more time? I did find a quirky show called "Fleabag". It's British and I do like the lead character, but sexual activity is such a centerpiece that I'm having trouble just connecting with the cast. Another show that isn't clicking for me right off is "Sex and the City". Or is it "Sex in the City"?

Now, that's some Mandela Effect stuff right there!

I'm glad I made it far enough to see that part. I've heard all the Mandel Effect talk about the title of that show. How interesting, huh?

One series I expected to hate was "Enlightened" with Laura Dern. I ended up only hating when the series ended. It was a very different kind of show and I haven't found anything else like it. That's the way I feel about "Grimm". I love the series for it creativity with other beings and worlds. Lately, though, it's getting hokey.

So, when I say that I don't watch "much" TV, I guess I am lying quite a bit. Still, I don't own a TV set. I gave mine away a few years ago to a friend. Recently, to cut back on spending, I gave up my Netflix account. If I can't find something via YouTube or Amazon, I'm out.

I also have given up my Audible membership for a while. In its place, I'm using Overdrive to listen to books from my local library and I'm heavy into podcasts.

Podcasts are a favorite thing with me. It's easy to listen while I'm doing chores or sitting through treatments. I listen to a couple of podcasts for pure guilty pleasure, but there are others that I find to be educational and highly informative:

  • The History Chicks is done with such an easy conversational banter that you almost forget you are being informed. Recently, I binged on their episodes covering black women of history. Now I am listening to their episodes on the Victorian age.
  • The Rachel Maddow Show is a must for me. I love the way she manages to put current news into a story-telling format. I also like that she backs up her news with facts listeners can check for themselves.
  • I listen to Real Time with Bill Maher mostly because he's the only foul-mouthed athiest who can make me laugh as hard as he does.
  • Strangers is wonderful for the true stories as well as for the host. Lea Thau comes across as someone you'd really want to hang out and have deep conversations with. She allows guests to tell their own stories and, truly, every listener can find a story to relate to.
  • This Is Actually Happening is a bit like Strangers but I find it a bit more haunting. The stories are not really about people I can relate to but more about people I'd like to understand better.
  • Remarkable Lives Tragic Deaths is about just that. I've listened to episodes covering MLK, Kennedy, Cobain, Hendrix, Holly, Trotsky, and Blackbeard. Interesting stuff.
  • Uncovering Unsolved Mysteries (UUM) is just plain fun. This is two young dudes discussing episodes from the old "Unsolved Mysteries" show. This isn't for everyone, but I loved the old TV show and I like the way the UUM hosts banter.

I was so excited when I found the Slate Magazine sponsored podcast, History of American Slavery. I'm downloading episodes tonight!

The only thing I need is to find the absolute perfect podcast app. I think I've gotten close with Podcast Addict. It's easy to use and very functional.

I didn't link to the podcasts because I figure you'll want to download to your phone. That's what I do, Also, you can easily find the podcasts now that you have their titles. If any of you can recommend some other shows or podcasts, please do.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Laughing in Heaven

My sister passed away on this day in 2015. I still miss her, but I have finally stopped mourning her. A few months back, I made up my mind to celebrate her memory. Here are some things I can't help but smile about when I think of her.
Once, my sister and I went out with some of our friends. It was a girls' night situation so all of us were wearing our best hair, clothes, and nails. There has never been much of a nightlife here in Anchorage but, back then (around 1999), 'going out' meant patronizing any of the nice hotels that had a dance floor. On this one night, we started at a smaller hotel. After some appetizers and a few drinks, we heard that things were really jumping at one of the larger hotels. Off we went. Downtown parking is bad during club hours so we ended up having to walk about three blocks. In dresses and heels. And with a few drinks in our systems. Just as we were about to walk into the hotel lobby, I see that one of my friends needs to adjust her skirt because it's riding down her hips. Just as I notice this, one of the other friends steps on the hem of the first friend's skirt. First Friend is oblivious to this and keeps walking until she has stepped right out of her skirt. Thank goodness, she had a slip on underneath. She didn't even blush. She just stepped back into the skirt and wrangled it back up her hips.


There was another time when I was out at a bar with my sister and one of her friends. When my sister was younger, she drank Johnny Walker - Black or Red, I can't remember. Unlike me, my sister could hold her liquor. I'm sloppy after about three mixed drinks. Anyway, there were a lot of G.I.s at the bar. For some reason, one of them bet my sister that he could drink her under the table. After 22 shots of liquor, that dude was almost unconscious. My sister might have been wasted, but she managed to stand up and strut (in three-inch heels) to the bathroom without weaving.


One of my favorite things to do with my sister was people watch. We could be anywhere - store, church, hospital - and she would have me cracking up with her observations. Of course, not only was she better at holding her liquor than I was, but she could also keep a straight face while I'd be dying of laughter about something. She'd say something hilarious about someone ("Does that chick know her wig is on crooked?") and then tell me I was going to be on my own if I got my butt kicked for laughing.

More than anything, I remember that my sister had the ability to make everyone feel loved. She was a peacemaker, a "bring-er together-er" kind of person. People confided in her without worrying that she'd betray them. You could cry on her shoulder and she wouldn't make you feel like a lesser person for doing so. Because she didn't connive, bully, manipulate, or 'stir the pot', people trusted her.  Because she spoke so softly, people listened. Because she was so strong, people didn't always see her pain.

When I think about Mike these days, I imagine her in Heaven. I think of her with a new body and a new joy. I miss her. Not just today, but every day. Rest in peace, sis.

Peace
--Free

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fencing with the Devil

I almost titled this post as "The Bounceback". After going through such a low of depression for the past couple of days, I had a good talk with my best friend. Sometimes, just talking with someone who "gets you" can be all the medicine you need. The funny thing is, we didn't really talk a lot about the things that have been bothering me. We talked about life in general. As always, before we hung up, she said she loved me. That may have been the best medicine. People sling around the word "love" like they use the phrase "Have a nice day". The word(s) really mean nothing at all unless they mean everything.

Thank God for best friends.

I'm still a little blue - but not the deep, dark blue that I was yesterday. I'm at maybe a medium-rare state of blue. "Usefully blue" is what I like to think of how I'm now feeling. This is the place I tend to write best from. This is the place where I can get really in touch with my feelings and, therefore, empathize with the feelings of others. (Hope that last bit makes sense. This is a methotrexate night and my mind is as unreliable as my gag reflex!)

One of the things my friend and I talked about was how things build and build until you get to a breaking point. One ordinary bad thing is just one bad thing and might ruin your day. One bad thing on top of another (and another, maybe) can ruin your week. You can handle a certain amount of "bad" until you get to that point of snapping. In my case, I've been having a bad few months, but I was able to maintain a level of coping. The car break-in was just that one bad thing too many.

I told my friend that if I happen to run into someone wearing my boots or scarf, she (my friend) will need to bail me out of jail. She agreed without even pausing. I love that chick!



Another thing I said to my friend is that I feel like I'm being stalked by something bad in the universe. I was joking but I started thinking more about it later. What I have decided is that the "Devil" is too busy to mess with me, but he's sent humans in his place. (I'm still joking. Sort of.) When you think about it, it's humans who do petty and hurtful things to each other. It's humans who are bored (or unhappy) with their own lives and find sport in messing with other people. We all know certain people whose main activity is in stirring up drama, gossiping, being nosy, etc.  These are people who spend most of their time playing other people like chess pieces. I call these folk the "white noise" people. They need the constant hum of trouble to drown out their own miserable existences.



Or maybe I'm being too critical. Maybe.

At any rate, I am re-directing my frustration and anger away from depression and into action. If I stay productive, I stay positive. For now, though, I am going to go eat some Saltines so I don't throw up. #TMI

Peace
--Free

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Life, Losses & Losers

I was going to label this post as a **RANT** but decided that I'm too tired to be angry.

At least I'm blogging today. It's been a while, hasn't it? That's because I've been working on the book. No worries. It's a finished manuscript. The problem is the template I am using with Create Space. For some reason, I have been unable to simply do a copy/paste job. What I am having to do is retype the entire manuscript - every single word of it - carefully into the template. Ugh! From reading the comments in the C.S. community, I'm not the only author struggling with the templates.

Okay. Maybe this post will end up being a rant. I just realized that I need to catch you all up on things before I can get into what's recently happened. Here goes.

Aside from having to retype my manuscript (and every other writer will tell you about the temptation to edit and revise when doing that), my sarc is acting up. Stress seems to make my disease "rage". When the sarc is on a rampage, I have more trouble than usual trying to focus and concentrate. Also, I've noticed over the past couple of years that my methotrexate tends to make me sicker than usual when the sarc is raging. (I have no idea if that last sentence is coherent!)

So.

I'm plugging away on the manuscript in between colds, bouts of fatigue, and the metho-sicks. By th way, the weather here is horribly bi-polar this winter. Every time I have to go somewhere, I'm either having to cope with deeply negative temps (up to -14 so far) or - and I don't know which is worse - I'm having to dig my car out from under piles of snow. The only bright spot to the weather is that I had saved up for and bought the absolutely cutest ever scarf. It was extra long and wide and just perfect for keeping my head and shoulders warm. I got so many compliments every time I wore it and a lot of ladies would ask where I got it. Answer: Burlington Coat Factory (because they have layaway).

My scarf was a a mottled grey/black (not plaid)


My favorite pair of boots, my beloved scarf (and a pair of prescription driving glasses and a pair of those yellow-tinted night-vision driving glasses from Walgreen's) was stolen out of my car sometime Thursday night/Friday morning.

I have no idea when the break-in could have happened. Thursday night, my niece and nephew were both up and moving around the downstairs until around 4 in the morning. I was up (with nausea from metho) from midnight until I time for my appointment. At about a quarter after 9, I went out to warm up the car (and clean off the snow...) and saw that the driver's side car door wasn't closed.

Keep in mind that this is not the first break-in I've had. I've lost count, but the problems started on Mother's Day 2015. I remember that because my sister had passed away in February that year. That time, the break-in was part of a rash of them in a couple of local neighborhoods. My passenger window had been smashed and absolutely nothing was stolen...

I got the window replaced and stopped bothering to lock my car doors. Someone mentioned that if the doors weren't locked, there would be no need to break the windows. Fine, I never keep things up much value in my car except a back-up pair of shoes or boots, gloves, and my driving glasses.

The only damage from the next break-in was papers and stuff strewn around the car. Next time, same thing. Next time, my glove-box was busted up. Nothing taken any of those times.

Because of what was taken this time, my niece wondered if the thief was possibly a female. I've decided that whoever he or she is, they just wanted to pawn the eyeglass frames and maybe keep the other stuff. (The boots by the way, were ones I also got a few years ago. Burlington layaway again. They were Vera Wang's that I got for a discount at $75. Very warm and really sturdy footing on ice and snow.)

Like the saying goes, material things can be replaced - even if you have to use a layaway plan! It's not losing the things that bothers me. What really sent me into an 8-hour depression is this was the wrong thing to happen at the worst time.

I have so little right now - so little money, so little dignity, so little respect - that this felt like a gut punch. I'm seriously hanging on to hope and faith by a thread. When this happened, there was a brief moment when I just felt like giving up.

If you are thinking that I am weak and a bit of a whine-baby right now, then you have never considered the principle of water and rock. Given enough time, water can wear down rock drip by drip. I've been dealing with my own 'water problem' for about five years.

I think what bothers me most about the break-ins is that I am starting to feel targeted. I really don't want to be that paranoid person, but I do have a suspect in mind. I won't speak any more about that, but...

You might also be wondering why I haven't done more to secure my car. Well, that one is kind of on me. I have one of those standard built-in anti-theft alarms but it only works if your key fob works. My key fob broke a long time ago. When I first looked at replacing it, the cheapest one I could find cost around $40. At the time, I didn't think I could afford it. No layaway (ha. ha. ha.). Now I am determined to order one asap.

This is just one more drip of water. I will try not to be worn down but, damnit. Right?

Anyway, it has felt good to vent (maybe that should be the post label?). I will close by sharing what I posted last night on Instagram:



Peace (maybe)
--Free

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

**RANDOM** Seeing Blind


This is actually a post from my other blog. I haven't put a lot of work into MillChron so the readership is low. I hope to update more when the story collections that I have been working on are done.



Too many of us today only imitate love without knowing  (or caring) what real love is. We know what it is to post a heart emoticon. We know what it is to send a hug and a kiss via our social network pages. We know how to "love". Until real love is required.

We have forgotten - or maybe never knew - what it means to be wise. We know how to find the memes and gifs and eCards that illustrate wisdom. We know how to appear wise but we don't bother learning to live wisely.

We substitute cute smiles and the sound of laughter for true joy.

There is no shame in posting about the beauty of faces and bodies, but it takes real courage to bare the pain in one's soul.

We collect a quantity of 'friends' while ignoring the quality of friendship.

Online, we talk, talk, talk and keep talking. Like lost prophets, we speak in the tongues of the internet. We chitter and we chatter, texting, tweeting, Skype-ing, Facebooking and never turning away from our phones and computers. We talk without making sense and we listen without hearing.

We live in a world so full of things that are of so little value. We can't spend our money fast enough on the latest thing we don't need.

We are so over-stimulated by the excesses that we are insensitive to simple blessings and pleasures.

Remember tasting and savoring? Breathing in the scent of a memory? Feeling the sun or rain or wind on your face. Do you remember the last time you had a thought or memory of something to amazing that it took your breath away? Do you remember the last time you looked at someone you loved and noticed their hurt or joy or discontent? Or their need of your time in real life?

We run fast with no destination, wasting our time and energy just to kill the hours. We prefer to see through the blurred lens of a distracted reality. We wrap ourselves in the gauze of disillusion and delusion so that we don't have to deal with growing pains.

We are living on empty. Walking dead and lifeless. Seeing blind.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Devil Is a Liar (Part 2)

Old folks used to be wise folks. These days, old folks are those silly young folk I grew up with. In today's world, we have too much political correctness and not enough wisdom. That makes it easier for the Devil to tell his lies. I'm about to tell the truth about some of those lies. Let's look at some of the serious lies:

  • Not everyone who disagrees with you is a racist. They have their opinion and you have yours. The Devil would like to keep the two of you from having a civil conversation because you just might end up respecting one another.
  • Being free and over 21 does not give you permission to be an idiot, despite what the Devil says. Being free and over 21 gives you the responsibility to act your age and be an example to your children.
  • Black lives do matter. White lives matter and no one in their right mind ever said differently. Red lives matter, Yel- Wait. Maybe our biggest problem is that we have to talk about the color of the lives that matter. The Devil likes to keep some facts out of the conversation. For instance, why aren't we working toward a day when we only have to worry about life and not the color?
  • Don't let the Devil tell you that you can dress like a punk and act like a punk, then be mad when you are treated like a punk. If someone sees you wearing a Klan hood,, they'll think you're part of the Klan. If you walk around trying hard to look "hard", then people will think you are trouble to be avoided. The Devil never makes you think about any of this. Trust me, though, if the Devil tells you to walk into a bank dressed like a robber, make sure he agrees to pay your bail when you get arrested.
  • Being good-looking does not give you the right to be rude. Being rich doesn't give you that right. Being old or disabled doesn't give you that right. The only right you should care about is the right to be a decent human being. 
  • Being a bully - online and in real life - doesn't hide your own problems. The Devil is the biggest bully there is. You might not want to take his advice about how to treat people who are weaker, kinder, different or just more civilized than you are. 
The Devil doesn't just get into our heads about the serious stuff. He loves to help us make asses of ourselves.
  • Dear Walmart shoppers: Do not dress as if you have membership in the place. You are not the only ones out there when it comes to public displays of "I don't give a damn", but you are becoming the poster people of that syndrome. The Devil who told you not to be worried about what other people think of you? Well, he's got a point, but you should still care what you think of yourselves.
  • Dear Broke people: You are impressing anyone with your Fucci purses and Folex watches. We see you in the layaway line just in front of us. The Devil is trying to make you think that you can fantasize your way out of poverty. You can't. You can work your way out, you can dream and motivate your way out. You can even save your way out of poverty, but not as long as you're spending money on designer bags that you keep in the closet of your rental home.
  • Dear good looking guy (or gal): Yes, you were really hot-looking when I first saw you. Then I smelled your nasty ego. I got a second glance at your low self-esteem when you were looking down your nose at everyone around you. The Devil gave you good looks, but he didn't teach you that the world will see you through their own eyes, You're not looking good enough to cover up the ugly of your ways.
  • Dear Selfie Nation: Posting photos of your loving relationships with friends and family is not a substitute for actually showing love to your friends and family. The Devil may have told you how cute you and your mate look in all those couple selfies. He may have told you that taking cute photos with your kids can substitute actually spending time with them. Or that posting hearts and flowers in honor of the dead substitutes honoring their memory with your actions. Don't know if he told you that you aren't fooling those of us who know you in real life
The Devil wants us to imagine him as a little red imp with horns and a pitchfork. He doesn't want us to see him reflected in our own behavior. The Devil is hidden in our own cruelty, arrogance, selfishness, and willingness to always put ourselves ahead of someone else.

I think one of the biggest lies the Devil tells good people is that we are not good people and that we are not of value to anyone else. To the people living in fear and ignorance of decency, the Devil probably tries to convince them that they are more valuable than others.

The bottom line is, the Devil doesn't want you to be happy unless it's at the expense of someone else's happiness. The Devil is a liar and we all have to be smart enough not to fall for his deceit. 

The Devil is a liar, but he sometimes to use our tongues to speak. Silence him every chance you get.

Peace
--Free

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pennies Make Dollars, Dollars Make Sense

Remember that I gave up on making New Year resolutions a while back. I stand by that, but I have started making some New Year changes. The biggest one is to do with money.

When I think of saving money, I normally think of a regular account with my bank. That's not savvy enough. Plus, no matter how much I save in the bank account, I always find reasons to dip into those funds. Always. That money is too freaking accessible for someone as impulsive as I sometimes am.

I'd heard about ways to save with small investing apps. There are a lot of them that sound interesting:

Image result for i see broke peopleWhat sounded great about most of them is the small amount required to start an account. What I balked about at first were the monthly fees. Also, I was nervous about the idea of ~gulp~ investing. The only time I've ever been involved with investments is through employer offerings of IRAs and 401ks. Thinking of handling any kind of investments on my own sounded a little scary. Plus, my budget is so tight I actually call it a "budg". 

Still, I knew that I wanted to do something so I had to work on my doubts and concerns.

First, paying a buck-a-month fees to invest in a couple of plans is not that scary. I could give up chewing gum and never feel the loss of that.

Second, yes, my budget is tight, but only because I can be less than smart about my spending. 

My first step was to trim the "luxuries" from my budget. Here is what I cut:
Image result for broke people memes
  • Netflix was the first to go. I don't own a TV so streaming is my one way for that kind of entertainment. It's a $7.99/month charge I can easily give up. I have Amazon Prime which gives me access to TV shows and movies. Also, I get all the other Amazon Prime benefits that I do use a lot. (I have no idea why I didn't cut Netflix sooner.)
  • Planet Fitness was a $20.06 monthly fee that was a little frivolous. I could have had the $10/mo option if I used the gym enough to warrant a membership in the first place. My nephew has a couple of pieces of gym equipment that I can use anyway. 
  • I used to give myself a $40/mo allowance for makeup and other girlie goodies. I cut that down to $10. I don't need to spend so much money on hair and makeup until I am getting paid for my appearance.
  • I canceled my $15/mo Audible account. That hurt the most. Sort of. I listen to and read books the way some people watch TV. It's my addiction. I rarely am without a book in my hands or ears! The only way I am surviving this cut is by depending on my local library and Overdrive accounts for my fix. (By the way, I highly recommend these for anyone who loves books.)
Image result for champagne budget beer tasteI am making some other minor cutbacks too. When I grocery shop, I only get what I know for a fact that I'm going to use what I buy. I realized that this was a cut I could make when I looked in the freezer and saw meats that I'd bought a couple of months ago. 

Basically, I've cut over $70 a month from my spending. That might not be a lot to some people, but that's a huge amount to someone in my position. What the heck was my broke, champagne-tastes behind thinking all this time?!                         

I can now invest those amounts. Any type of investing involves risk, but I'm only risking the money that I was previously just giving away. This is a classic win-win for me.

For anyone who thinks that small-change investing is not worth it, take a glance at this:




That there is a screenshot of my Google Rewards history. All those tiny amounts in the middle column have added up over the last few years to the $120 amount you see at the top of the right-hand column. That's how a pennies make dollars. Seriously. 

So, yes, investing small amounts of money can make a lot of sense for people who can't afford to deal with big investment firms. As for myself, I'm really not that high-maintenance. If a ton of money suddenly rained down on me, the first thing I'd do is lock myself inside a nicely stocked cabin with book-lined walls!

I decided to start with Stash. It was a pretty painless set-up process. Now, I am looking at a couple of the other app choices. I can't recommend this for anyone else, but I can tell you that this is one New Year change of habit that I feel really good about.

Peace
--Free

Thursday, January 05, 2017

**REVIEW** Jewelry by Passage 7

This review post will be a little different from my usual type. This time I am doing a review for a set of items from a brand.

Some months ago, I became acquainted with the Passage 7 brand. They carry various types of goods (as you can see from their Seller page on Amazon), but I was able to try several pieces of their jewelry.

 Nice, yes? I think so. I actually gave each of the items away as birthday and Christmas gifts recently. When I got the first item, I was intending to keep it for myself, but it was so nice that I thought it would make a really nice gift. The jewelry is so well-made and impressive-looking that I decided that I would give the other pieces away as Christmas gifts. I'd have kept cheaper-looking stuff for myself!

The reason I thought the items might not end up looking as nice as the product page photos was because of the prices. There are some places locally that sell plated jewelry for about the same price and... well, they are not so great. It's from the "get what you pay for" school of reasoning.

One of the other things I like about the pieces I have is that they feel like nice jewelry. What I mean is that they aren't flimsy. The thickest chain (that I gave to a nephew) was weighty and solid in my palm.


Another thing that gives adds to the appeal of gifting this jewelry are the pretty velveteen bags they come inside of. The gold lettering is nice, but on one of the bags I got, I could see the square outline of the whatever was used to make the impression. That was a minor thing and I was able to use a dry cloth to rub away the outline.


By the way, each piece comes in a thick and protective plastic sealed bag. The plastic bag is inside a pretty blue pouch. When I gifted the jewelry, I just put a name tag on the pouch string and hung the bag from a branch of the Christmas tree. (Tell me I'm not creative! LOL)

I'm over at the Seller page looking at some of the other items that are offered. Some of their leather goods are much pricier than the jewelry but they look amazing. When I mention that the leather goods are pricey, I don't mean that they are out of the normal range for good quality items. The attaches look really nice and I'm thinking they would make great gifts for the college grad or a spouse. There's a gorgeous expandable leather backpack. These are the kinds of things that you would gift a person with when they are more responsible or have accomplished something. Beautiful looking goods.

Now that I am being more savings-minded than ever, I'm glad I found a spot to pick up some nice and affordable gifts for special occasions throughout the year.

I will review other Passage 7 products as I purchase or receive them. For now, I can tell you that the jewelry pieces are great quality items as a really good value.

Peace
--Free

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