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Holiday Traditions Are Important!

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Goodness me! What a busy year it’s been for me. So much running around: balancing bills on our tiny budget (yes we live under the poverty line), making sure food stays in the fridge (learning new recipes to stretch out our amount of food stamps we’re allowed every month), keeping things clean, making sure the husband and our cat are happy. Boy, I’m tired! However, this is not the reasoning behind this post – however, if you’d like more information on what I do to live on such a tight budget let me know, I’ll be happy to make more posts on that. I’m here to talk about holiday traditions. I’ll be using Christmas, but any holiday that’s celebrated should be packed full of traditions.

I’m not speaking about traditions that everyone says you should have, although I use some of those too. I’m talking about traditions that your family creates for themselves; something to add to the holiday that makes it unique and memorable. I know you may say, “but that’ll cost extra”… well, that depends. I’ll share a small list of traditions I’ve picked up, both from my childhood and from my position as a wife.

  • Childhood – My parents, every Christmas morning, would make my sister and I wait upstairs (can be done just by staying in a room) while they made their way down to start choosing the Christmas music they want to play for that year, make their pot of coffee, get breakfast (baked ham & apples) started. They made us wait for what felt like forever, which added to our excitement – as we were always so eager to charge down the stairs when we were finally called. The music playing, the aroma of breakfast, and the lit tree with everything organized the way they wanted us to see it.
  • Childhood – Every Christmas Eve, to break in Christmas, we would go to our church for the midnight service. This always gave me something to do instead of sitting at home, twiddling my thumbs while watching the clock all but actually slow time in front of my eyes. By Christmas Eve there’s normally nothing but reruns on, as I had already watched as many holiday movies as my little brain could possibly pack in. It brought peace to my mind to listen to my mother, who sang in the choir, and to sit with my dad whilst holding his hand; my sister sitting on the other side of him. Our pastor there always made sure to add a little fun for us and other children who would show up for that service. It was always enjoyable, that feeling while traveling back home, that it was Christmas. However, falling asleep after that was always super difficult – as stated in my first bullet, we were made to wait for Christmas morning, and then what my parents wanted to do.
  • Childhood & Now – Putting the tree up has always, in my life, been a family event. Putting a Christmas tree together, as a family, always adds to everyone’s enjoyment, as everyone has equal say where placement of anything goes. Except my mother’s village under the tree, that was all hers. My grandpa, at their house, had his own toy train that would run a track around the base of the tree. My birth mother (yes, adopted and I know both mothers), who adds as many teddy bear ornaments as she can find and made sure that me, around the age of 28, created a childhood ornament just for her tree to go along with my half siblings. I used my other hand to write, so it appeared authentic. Anything extra that can be added, whether handmade, or a tradition that one member loves to add by themselves – they are all so super important.
  • Childhood & Now – Every December, growing up, my father would make many big pitchers (over the month not all together) of homemade eggnog. This is not your typical eggnog, it tastes more like melted ice cream than that weird off flavor of the stuff from the carton (SO much better tasting than the carton!). It wasn’t until after I was moved out of the house and was in a serious relationship that I finally asked him for the recipe. Now, it’s a tradition that he and I both make it every year. Even though I’m living miles away from home – one sip of that eggnog and it feels like a hug from my dad.
  • Now – Ever since my husband and I were given a boxed tree to use from my loving brother, we’ve been working hard at adding our own uniqueness to it every year. Even though that tree is retired now, but the tradition continues with our new tree. Every year, we both pick out one ornament at the store (each) that we enjoy. Slowly, we are needing the basic tree ornament balls less as we run out of room adding a little more each year. They are marked on the bottom with the year and which one of us picked it out. So many memories hanging on our tree.
  • Now – Another tradition we do each year is add two new cocoa mugs to our collection (2 of the same). I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to do this before running out of cupboard space, but each mug has memories. It’s nice to hold a hot cocoa in a mug we bought years ago, feeling the warmth of a memory in my hands.

All of these traditions mean so much to me and fill my heart with joy and love. Knowing that I get to look forward to so much every Christmas helps me to keep the Christmas spirit and pushes me to work so hard to create more joy for those around me – which isn’t that hard, but traditions are so very important to me. I’ll tell you why…

Traditions – no matter how poor or rich you are, no matter how much you can give, no matter how much you’ll receive, will be there with you & for you every single year. I don’t remember many of my gifts growing up, I can’t even remember every present I got last year… but I do remember the traditions. They are what remain in your heart and you mind for many years. What counts it the love you put into showing your family how much you care, whether or not you can buy anything at all.

Traditions matter. They are important. Happy Holidays to everyone.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Fall Cleaning – Clutter Beware!

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Well, I didn’t get but an hour’s sleep and couldn’t get back to it. I may as well write for a few minutes then go back and try again. I’m hoping that clearing my mind a little of what I need to do may help ease my mind into a better slumber.

I was folding some laundry last night – something that I had put off for too long. I came to a huge realization when I went to put what I folded away; our closet is full, as are our drawers. I had no space to put what I was able to finish folding and I just got absolutely frustrated. It was then I realized that I had missed out on the popular practice of spring cleaning… so I’ve decided that I’m going to do that during the fall when temperatures begin getting more comfortable (to me – to each their own on temperature comfort).

In order for me to be able to scrub from top to bottom, I am going to have to go on a clutter purge. This is something I thought I had done, rather well, before our move here a little over a year ago. We threw away a lot, we gave a large amount of items to Goodwill, and I felt a lot better with less clutter. Sitting here, in a place larger than our apartment was, I still feel surrounded by clutter. I need to dig myself out and find peace of mind; I’m sick of holding onto items that I haven’t used in years!

Here is my current plan:

  1.  I did some reading about purging clutter, again, to remind myself of some of the regular checklist items (do you need it, do you use it, etc.). Since I have a little experience at this under my belt, I’ve decided to follow a clutter challenge that I found. I’m not considering it a challenge – merely a starting point – but it’s a good one. The challenge is to get rid of 50 items… I think I can do that! I’m making this my goal for the rest of this month. I will not be counting clothing into that 50 items, that would make it too easy and a lot of clothes are going to be leaving anyway… it’s not a challenge, just the inevitable.
  2. Next month, I will be continuing my clutter purge. This is most likely where a lot of the clothes are going to go (although I’m sure I’ll rid myself of some during step 1). This will be the part where I question certain clothing items – seeing if they fit, do I have plans to wear it, etc.
  3. According to a quick look on Google, fall/Autumn will be starting the 23rd of September. So for the first half of September I will be doing a secondary full sweep over everything I own to take out items that I was on the fence about, or items that I may have missed, or areas that I forgot to even go through (I can see that happening to me, easy). At the end of September, I will be starting my cleaning… of… well.. everything.

I would like to enjoy the Halloween season clutter free, happy, and relaxed. Even if I don’t finish the cleaning process by the beginning of October, I still have the most of that month to get things done. I believe that decorative items will be the toughest challenge for me. I’ve never gone out to buy specifically to decorate any area of any place I’ve ever lived… unless you count knickknacks. I want to have the room to plan a better looking living space.

I could use all the support I can get on this… some cheering on… tips/tricks that could help speed the process… anything that you think I should add to my goals. Even if nobody responds, I’m going to conquer my clutter and take the handles on my life back up. I’ve let everything roam free and I need to pull it in and enjoy life to the best of my abilities.

Have a good one, everyone. Thanks for reading. 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Camp NaNoWriMo Update

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Hi, everyone!

Just thought I would check in and let you know how my month is going. So far I have kept my writing goal at 10,000 words, and am somewhat glad I chose low. This month has been throwing rotten tomatoes at me since it began! Finances are crazy bad, so many worries, but I’ve been able to keep up with my goal so far. I haven’t been able to write every single day, and am glad that I started off strong which has given me some wiggle room to work with. It seems every time I attempt to participate in a NaNoWriMo event, something always goes awry… drives me nuts! I know I need to get myself into the habit of writing a set goal amount of words each day, but I’ve found I’m having problems getting myself in the habit. Any advice on that? I know what Stephen King says about it being the first on the to-do list before doing anything else – although, I’m sure bathroom and breakfast are included in that, haha. I wanted to follow in his footsteps for a daily writing plan, but 2,000 seems high. I’ve read about that and found that it’s okay if you can’t do 2k a day and that some books were written over longer periods of time at around 200-400 words a day. Now, that seems low. I need to maybe shoot for 1,000 I guess? That sounds like a happy medium.

This being my second attempt at writing a manuscript (the majority of my writing journey these past couple years has been reading and research – I don’t suggest this method, not much gets done although I do feel a better understanding about it this time) I’m finding that my strength in writing seems to be setting up a story. Once I get close to the meaty bits, I tend to struggle. I can’t ever seem to find the words to describe what I’m seeing in my mind. I don’t seem to write linear during these parts, either. I’ll write one paragraph, then decide that there’s something that should go before that paragraph, then one before that… so I’m going backwards and forwards at the same time – adding more beforehand and continuing what happens. I cannot keep my thoughts straight. By the time I’m done I attempt to read it over, and wonder what the heck I just wrote. Fun times!

At any rate — Current word count is 4,520/10,000. I’m right where I need to be but hardly have any wiggle room left. I need to crack that whip and bunker down for a few hours and get myself ahead again just in case anything else wants to go wrong this month, which I hope is nothing.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Writing Journey

 

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Writing Journey: A Fortune Cookie Rocked My World!

Fortune Cookie that says You have a charming way with words and should write a book.
(Apologies for the poor photograph, I’m not great at taking pictures. Just glad it’s readable.)

Camp NaNoWriMo began today (a free online writing camp for those that don’t know what that is). After reaching my daily word count goal this morning, I talked my husband into getting dinner out tonight. He wanted Wendy’s, but I had the biggest hunger for Chinese take-out… so we decided to buy from both. My food was so yummy I was feeling my eyes glaze over just into my first bite of a spring roll, I had been longing for that taste for a couple months. At any rate, I got to my fortune cookie and was absolutely taken aback when I read my message. So much so, that I had to read it four times thinking that it said something different and my mind was just too focused on writing to think of anything else. Holy cow! I honestly had to just share this with the world because this is the first time I’ve ever had a fortune cookie relate to my current life.

As far as my current writing project, I have spoken about it on another blog post. With current life stresses, I did knock my word count down to 10k instead of 25k. I need to use writing as an outlet to relax and not stress deadlines. I don’t get along with deadlines. If I have to do something then it’s no longer fun. To all the NaNoers that follow this blog, I hope your first day has been a good one!

I’m off to add more to my word count and maybe let my cat play in my yarn stash. Have a good night, everyone!

P.S. – I ate that fortune cookie… make sure it sticks!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Writing Journey

 

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Writing Journey: Make It Or Break It

PlotJar
(My jar, which is now full of story ideas… Read about the Plot Jar)

My writing journey began in November 2012, when I first was introduced to the NaNoWriMo community. I was excited, filled with hope, and amazed at myself for “winning” with a 50k word count in 30 days; it was truly an empowering experience. After the first win, I was excited for the next. However, by the time the next November rolled around I was overwhelmed with stresses of life and had been on a downward spiral for quite a few months; I was unable to do well during that one. I’ve spent the past couple of years on a journey of research, while balancing survival of living on a low income, looking up many aspects of writing: different ways to organize/outline, using different programs for writing, grammar (all that stuff back in school that I hated when teachers brought it up), weak words to avoid in writing – the list goes on and on, there is so much to know and not enough space in the brain to contain it all (at least that’s how it feels). I’ve also been through ups and downs of the beta reader process with my first manuscript – that was an interesting/frustrating/awesome time – there were many great ideas, many caught typing “whoopsies”, and some ideas that just… well… no.

I’ve been doing some reading – some of my past blog posts, blog posts from other people, even some of my old Facebook note ramblings. I came across my New Years Resolution that I wrote at the beginning of this year and have made my decision. I would not be able to ever be actually happy if I did not at least make an attempt at publishing. I will be following through with sending out some pings to various agents / publishers to see what comes of it. However, with the amount of work and revision I’ve decided upon for my first manuscript… it may not be happening this year, or even with that particular story, but I am going to run the race even if I come in last… hell, even if I have to sit halfway and feel accomplished that I at least tried… I would print out a certificate for myself that I gave it my all and did not give up.

I feel accomplished enough already that I’ve researched so much about writing and about being published. I want to see how far I can take this. I will not let this be yet another something I put down and did not finish. I think about writing way too often to just brush it off.

Thanks for reading. ❤

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Writing Journey

 

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Writing Journey: Camp NaNoWriMo 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant 2015

Even though I have come across such a large list of reasons why I shouldn’t attempt my hand at becoming a published author, there is one constant that’s a part of my life. When I’m not writing, my brain is still coming up with story ideas, still plotting, still giving me awesome dreams, still writing… even though I’m not physically putting the words on a screen or into a notebook. My journey has brought me to the point that I am a writer at heart. I may not have perfect grammar all the time, I may not ever put my work out there, but I’m not going to give up my writing. It’s been a full year since I’ve last attempted writing anything. My last attempt was Camp NaNoWriMo from last year (2014), and I fully skipped the regular NaNo during the fall. I had many of my own inner pity parties, and some fires under my butt to look things up when I’m trying to figure all of this out. If only everything came easy, right?

For those who wish to know my list of reasons why I shouldn’t attempt being published… here ya go:

  • I am disabled. With not much work background due to my disability, I’m placed on the lower/welfare version of benefits called SSI. If I were to put books out there and start earning money, that would need to be filed on a monthly basis with the SS department, which in turn would cause my benefit to be lowered the next month depending on what I made that particular month.
  • Torn between choices. If I were to attempt to publish through a company, I would have to sign a contract, live on a deadline, and be ultimately unhappy with what once was a passion because someone else is pushing me to always be more than what I am. At the opposing end… if I were to publish myself on Amazon (or whatever site I chose to go with) there are many terrors there, as well. People that steal your work to post online for free, taking away income. People that purchase e-books on Kindle and then read them quickly, or copy/paste to read later into a document, and return before the timer runs out for them to receive a refund… and from what I’ve heard these people either leave nasty remarks about the novel or don’t post any review whatsoever about it, not only hurting the author’s reputation but their earnings, as well.
  • Self Worth. I’ve always considered myself a rather humble person. I’m also introverted, shy, and have social phobia. The biggest wall in my life, at least in my mind, is putting myself out there to sink or swim. I know I can swim, but what blocks will be tied to my feet to weigh me down? How many sharks are going to swim by and take a huge chunk off of me and swim away leaving me with nothing but hurt? There are jerks no matter what you do these days… so many people don’t understand the meaning of “support” any more, so much so that I feel it would be against my best interest to try to push my way through the doors of opportunity.
  • Cost of Editing. Given my first up there on the list, SSI/disabled, I cannot afford to shell out hundreds of dollars for someone to read my manuscript and give basic feedback with a red pen. I’ve read article upon blog post upon Facebook post about how “if you want to give it a go at publishing your work, nobody is going to take you seriously if you haven’t been properly edited” and then offered services for the majority of my monthly income. Why is it looked down on, so much, for an author to spend years reading their own manuscript over and over, with a red pen in their own hands, and edit it until it’s almost broken (like a “proper” editor does) and turn it into something beautiful? Is it really that difficult to think that someone has the capability to be self-sufficient? So yes, thank you all those “proper editors” who have scrapped apart the dreams of many aspiring writers by merely flinging a price and twirling a red pen.
  • If you don’t read, you can’t be a writer! Reading puts me to sleep, the majority of the time… unless I’m behind a door that later involves flushing. When I read, my brain takes me into the story. I don’t pay attention to how it’s written, where the current author I’m reading could possibly improve, nor do I look at someone else’s writing style to see if it’s “for me”. I day-dream, I watch shows and movies, at night I’m a vivid dreamer (many ideas flow there). You don’t need to read to have an imagination – just my thought on that. If you enjoy writing, but don’t enjoy reading, my advice — don’t take to heart the rules that someone else puts out there, which is normally mainly for themselves or a group of people. You follow your own journey, your own way… and that, in my mind is the only way to truly be happy. At any rate, so many readers out there have heard this “rule” and consider it law. If they come across a book where they find out the author doesn’t enjoy reading, where the author hasn’t spent the money to get professional editing done… they lose ALL interest before even attempting to read the story.

These are the main ones that keep me wanting to stay in a dark cave. If it weren’t for NaNoWriMo I don’t know if I ever would’ve gotten as far as I have with writing. My first, and only so far, manuscript is loved by a few… an iffy read by a few… and known by hardly anyone. I’ve been researching, and playing around with, different methods of writing – outlines specifically, lately. I enjoy the research of it. I enjoy playing around with writing software. I enjoy writing so much that I’m even enjoying writing this blog post. (I love blogging, even though I’m not great at topics. Not much outlining or plotting needed, just think and type!)

The story I’m going to be working on for Camp NaNo 2015 is going to be another horror novel — I can’t get enough horror, I’ve tried! It’s a story that I’ve lived, with extra twists added in. Thanks to Google images I’ve created a faux book cover for the purposes only of sitting in the picture slot on the Camp NaNo page. It’s a little extra added fun and motivation as I write, a picture to take me out of my living quarters and into a completely different place. Here’s my “cover” for the upcoming NaNo, followed by information I’m allowing out for my month of “OMG I’m writing something! No way!”

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Starting Goal: 25,000 (Not starting too over the top, but not giving it to myself easy)

Synopsis: With so many tales from the community about a spooky old bridge out on an abandoned road,
**character** travels on a nightly basis to see for herself just what is really out there.

If you are planning on doing the camp this year, I hope to see ya there. We’ll make some bead bracelets and join the polar bear club. Just don’t lose track of the most important part of writing – do it for yourself! If you get frustrated, put it down and reflect on your own writing journey and figure out if it’s something you feel passionate about. Most of all, have fun! May all the new characters come out to play!

Have a blessed day, everyone. Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Writing Journey

 

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Social Security Needs A Major Overhaul (2015)

Homeless-Sign
(Thank you Google Images for this picture. I claim no rights to it.)

As lucky as I am to have loving family that is willing to allow me to stay, currently, in a trailer they would rather sell, I can’t say that becoming homeless isn’t one of my worst fears. I see more and more, over the years, how people with disabilities (due to lack of a decent benefit amount) are being pushed out into the streets. I thought it would be a good idea to give and up-to-date status of what we go through. I’ve seen other blogs on this subject, from different years, and they all say the same thing: people that need help, need more to live a healthy life. I am here to follow through and perhaps be the blogger this year that touches this subject. I’m hoping that, somewhere down the line, a president will take heed of all these blog posts and say: “Wow… this has gone on for far too long!”

I will begin by stating that all the stealing of funds for people who are in need of this money needs to stop. All the people who play the system, all the higher-ups (congress/president) need to stop having a blast off of what could put so many people into secure housing, and to add (last but not least) all the drama about arresting people who assist the homeless by giving them food… it’s nonsense! People who are homeless are not criminals… it’s the ones who keep the benefits way too low for anyone’s good who are the ones that need a good whacking with a police stick. Shame on them for even thinking this is enough, and I dare every single one of them to live a month off of what they would get on benefit (SSI specifically). Let’s see how confident they feel then, and let’s see how successful they are at finding a place to lay their head other than a cardboard box.

As for my own personal story on this, I am disabled with 2 lower spinal conditions. I have difficulty walking, but am still stubborn to not use the motorized carts at a grocery store as I’m able to use a push cart to hold myself up and would rather those who are worse off than I have them available as needed (although, some days it has crossed my mind). I also deal with social phobia and manic depression, both make it quite difficult to go out in public spaces and make me not a very likely candidate for gainful employment… not to mention throughout the day I have to take breaks with my feet up to relax my back. Even though I have had jobs in the past, I was unable to gain the required work credits to be placed on SSDI (I’ll get more into that in a sec.) and have to use extreme budgeting just to keep myself and my husband afloat, with the help from family on our residence… for now.

Here’s the part that makes no sense to me.

A judge deemed me disabled. Doctors have deemed me disabled. Social security office accepts those rulings and assist me because I’m disabled. Yet they put me on SSI. SSI, which stands for Supplemental Security Income, is meant for those who need to SUPPLEMENT their already existing income.I have no existing income other than my SSI benefit.

The rules to keep this program going are ridiculous! SSI for 2015 pays out a maximum of $733 a month for an individual, or $1,100 for couples when both are on SSI. Have you researched what 1 bedroom apartments are going for these days (plus the added rule that apartment complexes want you to make 3 times the amount they’re asking per month to ensure you can pay them)? Social Security has ZERO coverage for rent or utilities (this covers both SSI and SSDI)…. so where are we, who cannot work, supposed to find this extra money to afford a place to live? Everywhere I look suggests HUD housing / Section 8…. who NEVER has any openings for new applicants. It feels like a slap in the face. This keeps many who are on SSI in fear of many things: attempting to find work even if they feel they can’t to try to live off the streets, not being able to afford much more than a bicycle for transportation (or bus pass), fear of running out of the food they’re able to purchase using food stamps because everything else costs so darn much. If someone on SSI earns more than $65 a month in wages, the SSI benefit amount begins to go down. This program should NOT be allowed to be a punishment for disabled who cannot work to pay into the system. How are we supposed to feel secure?

Then there’s the SSDI program, that pays out a lot more and allows for a lot more income before they begin reducing the benefits. The SSDI program does not put a limit on the amount of assets or unearned income you have (or income that your spouse may earn), unlike the low-income disability program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). On SSI, my husband’s work income was counted against my benefit, which lead to nothing but struggle. Those who are approved for these benefits receive monthly SSDI payments determined by their respective earnings records (the average amount is $1,165 in 2015). What I would LOVE to do with an extra $432 a month! I would be able to afford a small apartment. I may even be able to ditch my 1996 Ford Ranger for a vehicle with working air conditioning and that doesn’t sound like it’s about to fall apart at any moment. But no, those who get SSDI paid out more so they get more… and from some of the people I’ve spoken with… they feel absolutely entitled to be “above” those of us who could not gain these coveted “credits”.

At any rate!!… Things really need to change. Rent prices need to go down, or SS benefits need to go WAY up to match. SS needs to include rent/utilities into the benefits programs. Security is in their name, and I feel like I’m about to fall off a cliff with no bungee and sharp rocks at the bottom. I do not feel secure in any way, shape, or form. Something has to change! Someone needs to step into the higher office and fix this. Otherwise, a very large percentage of this country is going to be homeless… or worse.

Thanks for reading. Hope my babble here wasn’t too much. I hope someone that is able to fix this problem sees this post. We are in dire need of help, and have no way of getting it… and it’s deeply depressing a good amount of people who live here in this country.

 

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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