Tag Archives: guest posts

Living Better: Living Better With Less

Cindy spends her days with her doggy and her Mr. Sunshine in the deep south, is co-founder of Spoons 4 Spoonies, and one of my dearest friends. She’s here sharing what it’s like to live a minimalist lifestyle, and how she’s living better with less stuff.

When Cindy isn’t out making the world a better place, she can be found on the tweeter machine sharing her views on life.

LivingBetterWithLess

I remember, back in the 90’s, wondering where in the hell all these people were coming up with the money required to buy all the shit they bought. Looking back, I realize they weren’t–we were in the early stages of a credit-fueled spending spree that involved credit cards, home-equity loans, home improvement loans, second mortgages, personal loans, credit default swaps and other barely understandable made-up things that fed the consumerist frenzy that probably had its roots in the excesses of the 80’s.

Here I sit, post Great Recession, and I wonder why people are still buying all this stuff. Where are they putting it? What are they doing with it? We live in the great consumerist era, constantly bombarded with all kinds of messaging that tells us our clothes aren’t cool enough and we don’t have enough of them, our kitchens aren’t big/modern/gourmet enough, our hair isn’t shiny enough, our cars aren’t cool/new/big/fast enough, our dogs need shoes/coats/sweaters/toys/scarves/doggles/birthday parties, our electronic devices are built with planned obsolescence in mine so that in six months we will have to go get the newer/bigger/better/faster/more model, and if we don’t buy all this shit, we are somehow not enough.

I say enough, already. Stop the madness.

Dave Ramsey sums it up rather well.

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

Once we buy it, we spend an insane amount of time and money organizing and cleaning and storing all this stuff. We don’t own this stuff, it owns us. We become defined by our stuff. It declares our status in society. It dictates how we spend our time. It goes further than that, though. The stuff we’re buying today isn’t even made as well as the stuff we were buying in the 90’s. We’re buying more poorly made plastic/polyester/disposable crap. This crap doesn’t last–the clothes fall apart after one or two washings, the phones are not cool after six months, the furniture breaks if the dog looks at it funny, the couches look worn in less than a year, and the shoes fall to pieces after being worn only a few times. Even buying designer is no guarantee of quality–I’ve seen four figure designer dresses made out of polyester shiny grossness that looked like something a cheap hooker might wear. I’ve personally had to resole $800 boots after only six months of occasional wear.

When I look back over my 44 years of life thus far, my happiest memories don’t involve stuff.

My happiest memories involve experiences and people. Riding the tractor with my dad. Playing trivia games with my mom, brother, and sister as a kid. Watching “The Mikado”, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and “The Color Purple” from the stage left wings at The Strand Theatre. Standing on the beach on Christmas Day with my Mr. Sunshine, watching my little doggy bark fiercely at the waves as they rolled into shore.

Cindy

My deepest moments of serenity have come when everything else was stripped away and I was left with nothing standing between me and my creator. Finally admitting I was an addict, and surrendering to the twelve steps. Huddling on the floor as a tornado destroyed the world around me. Standing in the middle of a seemingly endless field of grass, listening to the wind as it whispered in my ear.

Over the last four years or so, Mr. Sunshine and I have downsized. We moved from a bright airy house filled with furniture, clothes, shoes, and tchotchkies into an RV that has just enough room for very basic necessities. I’ve become quite the minimalist–almost to the point of brutalism.

I wish Sunshine were as minimalist as I am. In his defense, the stuffs he stockpiles is all very practical and useful; it just takes up space that I would much rather see filled with the light of my creator’s love.

Since we moved into this tiny house on wheels, I have given away, consigned, and trashed more clothes and shoes than I care to think about. It’s embarrassing, it’s shameful, it’s rather obscene. I have given away knicknacks, tchotchkies, thingamabobs, doohickies, and things. I miss none of them. Sunshine has given away tchotchkies, sold furniture, and thrown away things we can’t even figure out why he owned them. He misses none of them.

Now, none of this is to say that we don’t buy new things. It’s just that, today, when we bring something new into the house, something old must leave. There just isn’t room for new things, so we think very hard about how much we need or want a thing, how will it add value or enrich our lives, and what we are willing to give up to get it. We no longer mindlessly shop. We no longer feel compelled to buy shit we don’t want with money we’d rather spend on experiences to impress people we can’t fucking stand anyway.

These days, cleaning the house doesn’t take long at all. It’s less than 250 square feet. When I open my closet door, I’m not staring at an overstuffed hellhole crying about how I have nothing to wear. I’m not spending hours organizing, storing, and cleaning my stuff. These days, I get to spend my time walking around the lake with my little doggy, hanging out with those few people I CAN stand, and traveling to pretty places that remind me of the beauty my creator has given to us to enjoy.

The other upsides to having so much less stuff? I have BETTER stuff. I have stuff that I use again and again and again. The clothes I have are all clothes that I love, that make me feel fabulous, that serve my life as it is now (and not the life I thought I wished I had). I am not drowning in debt. I have more time to take care of myself, and less need of self-care because I am not overwhelmed with all the things I am supposed to do and all the things I am supposed to own.

CindyKhakis
source

I am not my fucking kakhis.

Living Better: Parenting Through Pain

My gal Echo has graciously agreed to open up about parenting through pain with me and you all. She usually spends her days trying to hold on to what’s left of her sanity while raising and homeschooling two kiddos.

She can be found writing about her life on her blog The Domain of the Mad Mommy

 

When you are a parent, there are daily struggles.
When you are a parent, there are daily triumphs.
When you are a parent in pain, there is daily chaos.

Parenting is a hard enough job on it’s own. So much to do, so much to learn, so many sacrifices to make, so many benefits to reap. Add some pain into the mix and it can throw everything into turmoil!

Pain comes in different forms. There is physical pain, like the pain that I am experiencing with my mouth and multiple dental surgeries.

There is also mental and emotional pain. The pain that can’t always be seen, but is always there.

The emotional and mental pain, I believe, is more easily managed. Counseling, coping skills, natural remedies, medication, therapy. It takes a while to get into the “groove” of things, but it can happen.

Some of the coping skills I use to parent through my depression are:

*Blogging – Yes, blogging. I come online, I type shit out and I piss and moan to all of the people on the Internet that will read it. Does it help? It helps me. It helps me vent. It helps me process. It helps me laugh.
*Humor – They say that laughter is the best medicine and I happen to agree. I love taking the daily chaos and turmoil in my life and turning it into something that can make myself and someone else laugh!
*Drugs – Caffeine is my number one drug of choice! I need it, I love it, I wouldn’t be able to parent without it. I was on Prozac and Ambien for depression and insomnia, but I have weaned myself off of those and seem to be doing pretty good!
*Cooking/Eating – I love to go shopping, buy fancy ingredients, cook a fancy ass meal and then rub it in my extended family’s face! Like ha, see, see what I can do. Fuck you.

I also yell, swear, take a hot shower, take naps (when I can), eat ice cream, eat Taco Bell and cry. Yes, I cry. Sometimes, you just have to cry!

Physical pain is harder to navigate. When you are in physical pain, everything is amplified x100. Your kid’s whining sounds like a thousand babies crying. The chocolate that just stained your carpet, didn’t “just” stain the carpet, it stained your very soul! You feel like you haven’t slept in days and no one, no one is going to help you!

I’m a parent…
It’s never just one LEGO!
It’s like this:

It’s like this all the time!
It fucking hurts!

Here are some of the ways that I parent through physical pain:

*Let it go – Seriously, I tend to let a lot more slide because I am in pain. I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to get all worked up about the ALL of the toys being in the living-room.
*Sleep – I try to sleep when I can, where I can. Anytime, anywhere. If my kids are quiet and safe, I will sleep. Why? My body needs it to heal and I am less likely to bite someone’s head off when I am sleeping.

*Remedy – I try to remedy the pain in anyway possible! Seriously, I just want to stop hurting and when the doctors stop providing you with pain relief, you take things into your own hands!

It’s really about doing what you have to do for your kids and yourself. You have to parent through the pain because you have to be there for your kids. I know it sucks. Believe me. I deal with this shit everyday and although it sucks, royally, it is manageable. Give it time, make a plan and make sure that you have a strong support system. I’m not sure how I would cope if I didn’t have my husband supporting me and the support of the FABULOUS bloggers (my friends) that I have met online.

Don’t be afraid to reach out. Find a group. Online, offline, it doesn’t matter. Find someone you can talk to and not feel judged.

Write it down. Start a blog, write a journal. It really helps to get it out. To vent it. You don’t want to keep it bottled up.

Don’t be afraid to get help. Help for the emotional/mental pain and help for the physical pain. You do not need to deal with it alone!

Where I’ve Been And What I’m Doing

Last week I was MIA.

To start it off, I had my second Remicade infusion. Which didn’t go quite as smoothly as the first. Since I’m predominantly right handed, we decided to try my left hand this time, so I could have a little more freedom of movement during and after the treatment. Well, my left hand didn’t want to cooperate. We had to do four different sticks before we found a vein that would work. And then, in the last five minutes of a three hour infusion, we blew that vein. So my hand looked like a medical glove someone had made into a balloon.

The doctor came in and looked me over, and cleared me to go home, though with strict orders to ice my hand and keep it elevated. No movement for at least 24 hours.

You never realize just how much you use your non-dominant hand until you absolutely can’t use it. It was a nightmare.

I tried to catch up on emails and such on Wednesday, but typing one-handed just wasn’t working for me. Thursday I was able to start light activity, but then our internet crapped out. Clearly, the universe wanted me to take a break.

So even though we had the internet issue resolved on Friday, I hung back from the internet and worked on some stuff around the house. I went to therapy and worked on me. And I rested.

I continued resting all weekend, even while I had a guest post over at The Domain Of The Mad Mommy. I played board games with Scotty and watched football. I ate yummy food.

Today I’m back and feeling the groove. I’ve got some exciting posts coming up, some great swaps for Ask Away Friday, and a few friends will be visiting with some guest posts. So stick around, I promise you won’t be sorry 🙂