Paradox of Change

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If this year has taught us anything, it’s how to be adaptable to change – whether we wanted to or not. In addition to rolling with the punches from 2020, I’ve been trying to make smaller changes in my life.

Being debt-free is a large goal, but I also have smaller ones. I’ve been trying to get healthier – eat less, exercise more, eat cleaner, that type of thing. What I have discovered while trying to make these changes is that there is what I’m calling the ‘paradox of change.’

The paradox is that if you want to be successful at making changes, you need to stick to a routine. Which is paradoxical, right? Whatever change you’re trying to make isn’t a part of your routine, which is why it’s a change. The trick is to make the change part of your routine, so it becomes something automatic – something you just do without even thinking about it anymore.

Sticking to a routine is hard, but so beneficial. Most people crave the structure of a routine – we are comfortable when things go as expected. And having a routine that fills most of your life means that when something unexpected happens, it’s easier to deal with it. (Although 2020 is sure testing that theory for me!)

As we get closer to the end of the year, I thought things would start to calm down. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. As things continue to escalate, my job has gone remote. Which is good, but also challenging. Figuring out how to effectively deliver instruction to preschoolers virtually is a challenge – we’ll see how it goes and how well we all (students and teachers) adapt to this new change.

In the meantime, I plan to continue to keep working on the small goals in my life and incorporating them into my daily routine. Here’s hoping I can overcome the paradox of change! 😀

Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Things have been kind of quiet around here because real life has been A LOT lately. I took on a new position at work, which has required more hours than I anticipated. I am enjoying it, so that’s good, but it’s been a bit overwhelming. And, since the one constant of 2020 has been that nothing remains the same for long, there are more changes coming my way.

Staff changes at work mean that I will likely be working even more hours. That means more money (yay!) but less time for other projects (boo!). So I am having to get organized to make sure that I have time to get everything I want to done.

Currently, I have work planned out through the holidays, so hopefully over the holidays I can get a jump on planning for next year. I still have to show up and work my hours, but the back end planning stuff is done. Whew!

I am working on a diamond painting (one of my newest obsessions) and am making a large canvas for my oldest as a Christmas gift. And I have actually started Christmas shopping – something I usually don’t start until December. My budget and my stress levels will thank me as Christmas creeps ever closer. 😛

Sadly, I have done almost no mini painting in the last month or so. I’m going to try and finish up some pieces at least over Thanksgiving, since I have about 5 ‘almost done’ pieces sitting on my painting table mocking me every time I walk by.

This week also marks the last enrollment for my oldest. She has one more semester to complete and she will graduate with her teaching degree AND have no student loan debt! She is making plans to move out when she graduates and I have no doubt that it will be a huge life change for both of us.

That won’t be the only big change – after my oldest graduates and leaves the nest, the rest of the family is planning to move east. Perhaps Maine, perhaps Canada, we’re not quite sure yet. (You can probably guess from the photo which one I’m rooting for!) I’m sure it will be a huge adjustment, as we have lived in the same place most of our lives. We’re also still debating whether we want to rent an apartment, buy a house, or buy an RV. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I want to continue working on having an online source of income so that I can work from anywhere with internet. To that end, I will be working on my Etsy shop, adding items and tweaking how I’m doing things there. I have ideas for additional products that I think will complement what I’ve already got for sale.

I’ve also decided to branch out and set up a TeachersPayTeachers store. After creating so many things for work, I’ve decided to try and make some money creating them for other people to use as well. So many ideas, so little time! I am also hoping to make some changes here on the blog. I received a notice from WordPress about fonts changing, and while it hasn’t made a huge difference in how my blog looks, it seems like a good time to do a refresh of it and make some updates.

So keep an eye out for changes and some milestones. In the next few weeks, I will hit 70 Monday Mandalas, which seems absolutely crazy to me – to think that I’ve been drawing them for over a year now. Wow!

Slow But Steady

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I still have tons of things to work on, but – as someone reminded me – even slow progress is better than no progress. In spite of all my dithering about, I did manage to get some things done the other day. I added items to my Etsy shop, I began working on additional items for the shop, and I did some back end work for opening a TeachersPayTeachers shop.

As I get older, I find that my motivation and focus are not what they used to be. However, I’m trying to remember that I need to be nicer to myself and that everything does not have to get done in a day. Even if I want it to. 😛

So, if I want to work on a diamond painting one day and paint some minis the next, that’s okay. The world won’t end if I don’t finish all the things at once. Slow but steady wins the race, right? That is how I’ve approached our financial goals, and even though it seems really slow some days, if I look back, I can see exactly how far we’ve come.

When I started working on paying off our bills, we had a mortgage, two car loans, a bank loan, and 4 credit cards. As of today, we are down to just our mortgage, one car loan, and 1 credit card. 😀 We’re still not where I want to be, but we are so much closer than we were to being debt free.

I’m hopeful that by the time we are ready to move, we will have paid off the last credit card. That means we will have more cash available for our move and associated expenses. We want to move so that we can be closer to my husband’s family. Lots of things are still up in the air (because nothing is normal in 2020), but at least we’re making progress towards our goals. So I’ll continue to try and remind myself that progress is progress, no matter how small it is. 😀

Fallacy of Time

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My brain is all over the place these days. I feel like I have so much going on and not enough hours in the day to fit in everything I want to. That feeling is not accurate, though. I may not have enough hours in a day to get EVERYTHING done, but I certainly have enough hours in the day to get MORE things done than I am currently.

I confess, I am easily bored. So I am constantly putting off things that feel like they are boring (like cleaning, paying bills, blog admin, etc.). I’d rather spend time thinking about new and exciting ideas, which is fun, but is then followed by guilt about putting off things I know I should do.

All of this got me thinking about that old cliche:

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

On its face, it’s a true statement. There are, indeed, only 24 hours in a day. No matter whether you are a Prime Minister, a company president, a pop star, or a peon, we all only get 24 hours in a day.

However, my 24 hours are different than yours, and yours are likely different than others as well. How much you can accomplish doesn’t really just depend on you. It also depends on how much support you have.

For example, for most people (read: peons), part of your 24 hours is spent on things like:

  • commuting to your job
  • cooking your meals
  • doing your laundry
  • cleaning your home
  • paying your bills
  • taking care of your family

If you are a single parent, you likely don’t have a lot of help doing any of those things. If you have a significant other or other family to help, you can (hopefully) rely on them to do some of those things for you. Add in sleep and work hours, and most of those 24 hours are filled.

But if you’re a pop star, a company president, or a Prime Minister, you probably (read: almost certainly) have a TON of people supporting you and helping you, thus freeing up a lot more of your 24 hours. How much more would you be able to get done in your 24 hours with more support? Someone to cook your meals? Clean your house? Do your laundry? Make sure all your bills get paid? Drive you to work?

Suddenly there is a lot more you can accomplish, because you have more time available to you. If I had a way to commute to work (like a driver or a mass transit option), that’s 40 minutes a day I’d have free to do other things – like write, draw, or blog.

I started to actually do some math on how much more time I’d have, but it just got depressing, so I stopped. The point is, even though we may all have 24 hours in a day, there are many people who have the luxury of using those hours in ways that are not available to most of us.

It’s a vicious cycle – you work to make money so you can pay for someone else to do certain things for you, which frees up your time for other things. But a lot (read: most) of those other things don’t make money, so you spend more time working to make more money, which means that time you thought you’d bought is no longer free.

People with lots of money and/or support like to tell the rest of us that we could be doing just as much, if only we were more dedicated, more ambitious, or more like them. The underlying implication is that you’re lazy, stupid, or somehow ‘less’ than them. What they ignore is that none of them could do all the things they do without that support.

I’m in that vicious cycle currently. I’ve taken on extra responsibilities at my job to earn more money, which is great. I’m glad I have that opportunity, because I know a lot of people are struggling right now. And while, in the long run, it will allow me to reach some financial goals I’ve set for myself, in the meantime, it’s incredibly frustrating because it’s taking up more of my time and thus taking away time from things that I enjoy, like blogging and drawing. You know, those things that I want to do in the hopes that at some point, I can make money doing them, rather than what I’m doing now.

Until I win the lottery, I’ll just have to keep plugging away on my own, finding ways to more productive in less time. Maybe I’ll even figure out how to motivate myself to get on those boring jobs and get them out of the way so I can spend time on other pursuits. 😛

Busy, Busy, Busy

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Life has suddenly gotten crazy busy.

I’m hip deep in lesson planning for school.  I’ve started a new diamond painting, this time with square drills instead of round ones.  I’m busily painting minis and trying to improve both my painting and photography skills.

I’m desperately hoping that my black thumb hasn’t killed all my garden plants, though I’ve yet to actually see any produce.  And my children are starting college, so I’m scrambling to pay tuition, buy books, and arrange schedules.

All while trying to get my Etsy business off the group, as well as launch a YouTube channel for my mandalas.  Speaking of, (insert shameless self-promotion here) if you haven’t checked out the mandalas on my Etsy store, you should!  They are larger and more intricate than my Monday mandalas.

Right now it’s just got coloring mandalas, but I’m debating putting some of my stickers up as well, maybe even some of my dot mandalas.  I’ve been hesitant to just jump in before now, but it’s amazing how having to pony up for college tuition can railroad right through your reservations about something!

I did manage to snap some photos of my most recent finished minis – I’ll try to post them later this week.  I think I’m learning how to use the contrast paints more effectively.  Now if I could just find the time to watch some tutorials on painting eyes.

Looking through my files, I found an old mandala I’d drawn using Amaziograph.  I can really see how shaky my hands are when looking at the lines here.

Amaziograph 3

I do like the flow of the design and that it’s fairly simple, but the shakiness of the lines bothers me.  Or does that make it seem more ‘authentic’?  Because it’s not perfect, so it’s clear it’s hand-drawn?  Do you consider it ‘hand-drawn’ if it’s drawn digitally rather than on a physical medium?

So many questions, so little time.  I’ve got to get back to work, so I hope you and yours are all doing well right now in this crazy world of ours.

Weighted Dreams

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I wanted to write about this topic a while ago, but I wanted to give myself some time to see how it worked. After a lot of debate, I purchased a weighted blanket.

I am a light sleeper – something I always attributed to having children. I very rarely dream, and if I do, I rarely remember the dream. I have trouble falling asleep and if I wake up in the middle of the night, it can take me some time to fall back to sleep.

After several weeks of using my new blanket, I’ve changed my opinion on a few things.

One – I don’t think I am a light sleeper, I think was just not achieving REM sleep.

Two – Since I’ve started using the blanket, I have dreams every night. And I generally remember them the next day.

Three – I’ve been falling asleep faster and staying asleep since purchasing the blanket.

I didn’t buy a hugely expensive one – it was one I found on sale on Amazon. It was $50 USD and so far, it’s been more than worth the purchase price.

The size says full, but it is actually about twin size. And even then, I don’t think it would cover the bed completely. But for my half of our queen, it’s a more than adequate size. I don’t have a cover for it yet, so I’m using it on top of my quilt.

I have to say, it’s been one of my better buys this year. My husband even tried it for a couple of nights, and it helped with his restless leg syndrome. When using it, I toss and turn much less and my sleep is more restful.

I’m kind of kicking myself that we didn’t purchase it sooner – I could have been sleeping better and feeling more rested for months. In short, 10 out of 10, would recommend!

Money is a Tool

When I started my journey towards being debt free, it was because I realized that I am tired of working for ‘things’ that I often don’t enjoy and/or have the time to enjoy.

My husband works 10 hour days and many times it feels like we are passing ships, greeting each other as we go about our daily routines. We’ve had many conversations about what we want our life to look like, and none of them include killing ourselves working to be able to afford the latest new gadget or the biggest house. I like our current house, but it was never intended to be our ‘forever’ house.

I want to downsize our next house. I want to be able to pay less in bills so we can spend more on things we want – whether that is a vacation, books, a new hobby – whatever.

Our current house is a good fit for our life right now, because my children are still living at home. But once they move out, we will be getting a smaller house. My car is over 10 years old, but it is paid off, and that makes it worth more to me than a newer car with a payment. Would I prefer to drive a newer car? Sure, but I don’t want the ridiculous payment that would go with it.

I was watching a financial YouTuber and she made a comment that has stuck with me. “Money is a tool – not a measure of your self-worth.” I think I’ve gotten so used to thinking about what we’re “worth” that I forget money isn’t everything.

Don’t get me wrong, I know money is important. But it is important because having it enables me to do what I want. Experiences are always going to be more important to me than material things. Do you know what is important to you? Or are you killing yourself trying to keep up with the Joneses?

I wonder sometimes if the ‘instant gratification’ culture of today is why so many people are in debt. No one wants to spend time saving up for a purchase, they just want it right now. So what if they have to pay 25% interest on the credit card to buy it?

I’ve tried to instill in my kids the need to budget and save and to consider the future. For example, my oldest wants a new pet desperately. So I’ve had several conversations with her about how expensive pets can be. Our last pet needed back surgery ($3K) as well as the routine costs for things like shots and grooming. Even though it was HER dog, WE paid the bills. (She got him as a gift when she was little.)

While it would be nice to have a pet, I’m not ready to get another one right now. And since she still lives with me, she isn’t getting one either. Although she isn’t happy, she understands the reasoning. Her money right now is better spent saving up for when she is ready to move out and live on her own once she is done with college.

I think people would be happier if they thought of money as a tool to help them achieve their goals and desires, rather than money being a goal itself. After all, you can’t take it with you. 🙂

Busy Bee

The last week has been very hectic. We’ve had a lot of appointments and obligations and I feel like I’ve been running around all week, which means lots of things I normally take care of haven’t gotten done. That leaves me feeling anxious and uneasy, because I don’t like leaving things undone. This weekend is looking like it will be just as busy, so – ugh.

There are always positives to celebrate, though. My husband is getting a promotion at work, which means a pay raise – awesome! 😀 My youngest may finally get to have a graduation ceremony – also awesome. I’ve been diving into my new job as well, which right now just means I’m spending a lot of time sorting, cleaning, and disinfecting so that everything is ready if/when we open up in the fall for students.

We’re still working on paying down our debt – something I hope we’ll be able to do a bit faster now with that pay raise. I’m still plugging away trying to create other income streams for us. My dream is to make a living virtually, so that we can live anywhere we want and still have a stable income. We’re a long way from that, but – baby steps.

I did also have someone ask me about buying one of my Monday Mandalas. In case I haven’t made it clear, the Monday Mandalas are FREE. You can grab them off the blog anytime. They aren’t very hi-res because of storage limitations on WordPress, but they are free. If you want to use them for something, an attribution would be nice, but if you just want to print one out to color or load into your favorite digital coloring app, feel free. 😀

If you’d like something a little more challenging/intricate to color than my Monday Mandalas, you can take a gander at my Etsy shop and see if there’s anything you like. I don’t have many items there at the moment, but I’m hoping to get some added this weekend.

That’s if I can peel myself away from my newest obsession – diamond painting. 😛 I discovered diamond painting one day when I fell down the YouTube hole. I used to needlepoint and embroider, but my carpal tunnel (and my bad eyesight) has made that impossible. Diamond painting is sort of like cross-stitch, but with little sparkly bits called drills. I found some cheap ones on Amazon (they are mandalas, of course!) and bought them to experiment with and see if I liked it before I spent a lot of money on some bigger, fancier pieces. So far – I love it. I’m a little annoyed with the first one (I got a package of 4) because they shorted me two gems for the design, so I can’t finish it. However, I do like doing it, so I’m planning on adding it into my craft rotation.

And, of course, I’m still trying to finish up those darn minis I discovered hiding in the basement. I have quite a few of them done – I just need to find the time to take some pics and get them posted. Maybe after graduation, when I have a few spare moments!

Hope everyone is staying safe and healthy.

Lazy Days

I’ve been lazy the last few days. I have a to-do list a mile long, but I’ve taken a few days just to chill and relax.

I have gone to my new job and spent a couple of hours figuring out what I need to do first. Unfortunately, it’s cleaning and inventory. 🤨 But at least it’s a start. So I’m heading there tomorrow to spend a few hours getting started.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time painting miniatures. I have about 14 done, so at some point I will take pics and share them. I am still experimenting with contrast paints. I bought some more Vallejo and contrast paint yesterday, as well as some new brushes. I’m excited to try them.

As I’ve been lazing about, I decided to try out ordering my groceries online. I thought I would hate it. Turns out, I was wrong. I love it. It also is saving me money, because it cuts down on the number of impulse buys from my husband. 😂 Instead of spending an hour shopping, I order online, schedule a pickup time, and only spend 30 min getting groceries. Plus, I don’t have to spend time in the store with people. Win-win!

The world is a crazy place right now. Stay safe and well, everyone. ❤️