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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