New Year, New Goals

new-years-eve-4664930_1920
Credit: Pixabay

I can’t believe it’s 2020.  I remember when I was younger, thinking that the year 2000 seemed eons away.  20 years past that, I am starting to realize that I am old.  Sigh.

As the new year approached, I found myself thinking about what goals I wanted to achieve in 2020.  I don’t like to make ‘resolutions,’ because it’s too easy to forget about those as soon as you make them.

Over the last few weeks, I was thinking about what I want to accomplish this year – both personally and professionally.  I don’t want to set too many goals and overwhelm myself.  I want concrete, achievable goals – ones I can break into smaller goals so that I can measure my progress.

Goals for 2020

Professional Goals:

  • Launch sticker business officially
  • Create at least 10 products to sell
  • Upgrade WordPress to Premium to take advantage of Simple Payments

Personal Goals:

  • Save $
  • Get fit
  • Be brave

For my professional goals, I want to officially launch my sticker business here on the website.  By upgrading to the Premium plan, I can take advantage of the simple payments options and offer the products for sale via PayPal.  There are other things I will need to do to make this happen, but this will give me more control over my products and sales than I would have on Etsy.

I may still open an Etsy store, but the goal is to eventually have enough traffic to my own site that I won’t need Etsy.  It also lets me avoid the mountain of paperwork that would be required with an Etsy shop.

Before I launch, I want to create at least 10 different products to sell.  The last 3-4 months I’ve been setting up files and products that I can easily adapt for different options to minimize my production time when the products officially launch.

For my personal life, I want to budget more carefully in addition to hopefully bringing in more income with the business launch.  My husband’s parents live in another country and we would love to be able to visit them more often.  We will also be paying college tuition for our children, which will be another large expense.

In 2020, I want to improve my health.  My husband and I would like to travel quite a bit after our kids are done with school, and I want to be healthy enough to do that.  I am making some small changes to start, but I am hopeful that I will be able to stick with them.

Lastly, I want to be braver this year.  I am my own worst critic and I want to try and, if not silence, at least lower the volume on those critical thoughts.  If I fail, at least I tried.  And then I know what doesn’t work.

Happy New Year to you all, and may your year be full of love, light, and blessings.  ♥♥

Top 10 Christmas Songs

christmas-tree-1149619_1920
Credit: Pixabay

It’s Christmas Day!  If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you are spending quality time with your loved ones. 

In the spirit of the day, I thought I’d share a list of my top 10 favorite Christmas songs.  Christmas was my mom’s favorite holiday and I can remember many years spent singing and dancing around in our living room to these songs.  Mom made a cassette tape of her favorites – I still have it, even though I no longer own a cassette player. 

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
  2. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
  3. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
  4. Merry Christmas Darling by The Carpenters
  5. Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
  6. Go Tell It On the Mountain by Jim Nabors
  7. We Three Kings by Ella Fitzgerald
  8. You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft
  9. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams
  10. The Little Drummer Boy – tie between the Harry Simeone Chorale and the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet

There are lots of other songs I’m partial to, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without these 10 on rotation.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. 🙂

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation?

picture-416614_1920
Credit: Pixabay

I was having a conversation the other day with my oldest about demographics and the different generations.  I insisted she was a Millennial, and she insisted she was not.  Then we started talking about the different generations and who belonged to which one.

I did some quick Googling and discovered that the Census Bureau only officially recognizes the Baby Boom generation.  The other generations vary depending on who you ask, because there is no ‘final authority’ on generations, just mainstream/pop culture use.  There are as many definitions as there are people.

Turns out, she was right, she isn’t a Millennial, nor is her sibling.  However, they both thought that I was from the Baby Boom generation.  (That did wonders for my ego, I can tell you.)  I happen to be from that forgotten generation – the Gen Xers.  The kids who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and thinking that Merlin and Super Simon were technological marvels.  The generation of shoulder pads, big hair, and Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials.

I had my kids later in life, so they missed the Gen Y/Millennial generation.  My kids are Gen Z/iGen – those kids who think that there’s an app for EVERYTHING.

We started talking about all of this because of the current ‘OK, Boomer’ phenomenon.  My youngest asked me how I felt about it and was taken aback when I said it didn’t bother me, because I wasn’t a Boomer.  Personally, I think it’s kind of funny – on several levels.  Just surface funny, because I think it’s true – Boomers are now in their late 60s- 70s, and I think once you reach that age, you have reached the ‘Get off my lawn!’ stage of life.  And also ironically funny, because from what I’ve seen, it’s mostly Gen Z kids saying it to their parents, who aren’t Boomers, but are Gen X or GenY.

How do you feel about the ‘OK, Boomer’ issue?  What generation are you from?  Are there things you like/dislike about your generation?  Things you like/dislike about younger generations?

 

 

What is Enough?

nutshell-2122598_1920
Credit: Pixabay

What is enough?  This question has been on my mind a lot lately.  With an ever-growing gap between the haves and have-nots, is there a point where you have enough?

I think people would be a lot happier if they would stop and think about what it is they truly want.  Not what society tells them they should want, not what ads tell them they should want – but what they actually want.

I mean, I could say I want a million dollars, and that sounds great, because I currently don’t have a million dollars.  But is that really what I want?  And would a million dollars be enough?  What about 2 million? 10 million? 10 billion?  How much of anything do you actually need?

Now, I get that there’s a difference between need and want.  We all need a safe place to call home, to have our physical needs met (water, food, sleep, etc.), and love in our life.  But how much of the other stuff in our lives is because we’ve been convinced we need it when we really don’t?

I think this occupies a lot of my thinking because I want to move and downsize.  My current home is not a mansion by any means, but it’s still too big for the people who live in it.  There’s a large room in our home that doesn’t do anything but hold furniture.  We use it on the odd holiday, but other than that, it’s just a place that dust gathers.

I have a closet full of clothes, but I probably only routinely wear about 1/4 of it.  Our kitchen is full of gadgets we’ve used once and then forgotten about.  We have a treadmill, an elliptical, and an inverter table that no one uses.  (We got rid of the punching bag and the weight set.)  They, too, gather dust.  You know, for that day when suddenly we all become fitness fanatics.

When I’m older, I don’t want a huge house to take care of.  I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning things I never use.  I don’t want to tie my money up in useless things and then sit surrounded by those useless things.  I want to be able to travel.  I want to be able to stay home.

When I think about what I want, I need to be honest with myself.  For example, I’m an introvert and while I like to travel and see new things, traveling is hard for me.  It’s a lot of ‘new’ getting thrown at me, a lot of social situations I’m uncomfortable with, and if I’m not careful, the traveling wears me down and I end up spending more time in a hotel recharging than I do getting out and doing the things I want.

So while I’d love to travel, selling everything and traveling the world for a while, while certainly possible, is not at all something that would suit me.  My husband and I are fascinated with the tiny house movement and have often talked about buying a tiny house or RV and traveling the country.  It seems like a great idea for me – I can travel and see things, but I have my own house/space to recharge in when I need to.

I don’t want to travel forever, however, and I will eventually want another house.  A much smaller house, though.  Two bedrooms, two baths – enough room for guests when we have them, but no so much space that I spend all my time cleaning.

I think for most people, it’s not that we want to necessarily be rich.  It’s just that, generally speaking, if you have money, you have less to worry about.  Some people will argue that point, but I think for the most part it’s true.  Having money means you don’t have to worry about a place to live, putting food on the table, or having a medical issue sending you spiraling into bankruptcy.  And I think that’s what we all want, really – to not have to worry.  Money doesn’t solve every problem, certainly, but it solves a lot of them.

Of course, marketers and social media are very good at making you feel like you need ALL. THE. THINGS.  Have an iPhone? Great – is it the newest one?  If not, then girrrl, you need to get on down to the Apple store.  I mean, who doesn’t need to spend $1000 on a new phone?  Am I right?

And once you get it, don’t forget to let everyone on social media know you have one.  What?!  You don’t social media? Gasp of horror! How will you know your self-worth if you don’t have total strangers on the internet directing your self-esteem and validating your existence with likes and shares?!

Ok, that was probably a tad over-dramatic, but hopefully you get my point.

So, what does enough look like for you?  Do you need a million dollars? A billion?  A huge McMansion?  A sporty supercar?  A closet full of designer label clothing? Vacations all over the world?  What is it you truly want out of life?

Separate Lives?

car-communication-3105927_1920
Credit: Pixabay

Privacy has become a big issue in today’s world.  Big business owners like Mark Zuckerberg want to convince you that privacy is dead, while at the same time retaining a stranglehold on their own.  Why? Because they can make billions off your lack of privacy.  That’s all.  Simple greed.

I grew up before the internet existed.  (Yes, it is possible to survive childhood without the internet, I promise.)  Cell phones were not ubiquitous – mostly because when I was a kid, they were hella expensive and the size of a dictionary. 😛

When the internet became a thing, we didn’t think about the consequences.  (Same thing as nuclear bombs and plastics and asbestos and cell phones and, and well, pretty much everything we invent.)  It’s new, so it must be good, right?

I’ve always been a private person, even as a kid.  Probably due in large part to my lack of social skills, but also because I’m an introvert, and being around a lot of people is mentally and emotionally exhausting for me.  I don’t like, nor do I want, everyone knowing my business.

So, why am I on the internet, you ask?  Good question.  I suppose because I get something out of blogging that I can’t find anywhere else, and also because the benefits to me outweigh the risks.

I think of myself as a normal person, but my sister constantly teases me about my tinfoil hat.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I don’t think it’s wrong to try and limit the potential risks of being online.

I pay bills online, I blog, I am hopefully at some point soon going to open an online Etsy shop.  But I do try to keep my real life and my online life as separate as I can.  Is that weird?  Do other people not do this?

I have a cell phone, but I really only use it for texting and (gasp!) phone calls.  I do have an email account on it, but that’s pretty much it.  I have a few apps (less than 5) that I have installed, most of the rest of the stuff on the phone are things that came with the phone that I can’t delete.

I don’t really do social media.  I used to have a Facebook, but I do not like their lack of ethics, so I deleted it years ago.  I don’t have an Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or anything else.  I don’t like someone else (whether it’s a person or an algorithm) deciding for me what I should see and when.

Maybe because I grew up without the internet, being without those things doesn’t bother me.  On the other hand, my children, who have definitely grown up with the internet, don’t really do social media either.  They text their friends, and they play online games.  But neither one of them have a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever other new shiny has popped up lately.

As more and more information comes out about how companies are using data in unethical ways, I find myself trying even harder to maintain the separation between my real life and my online life.  Which, admittedly, is becoming more and more difficult.  Not only because so many companies are trading data as a commodity, but also because the people who use the internet (you know, us regular people), value authenticity.  (That’s what the prevailing wisdom says, anyway.)  Is it possible to be authentic and still keep your real life separate from your online life?

How Do You Follow?

follow-1277026_1920
Image: Pixabay

I’m afraid I’m going to become a Luddite in my old age.  I mean, I grew up thinking Super Simon was a technological marvel.  😛

I’m trying to keep up with the times, but it seems like everything moves too fast for me these days.  One of the constants today is that ‘there’s an app for that,’ right?  So I’ve been using the WordPress app on my iPad to keep up with my blog while I’m on the go.

However, I’m not sure if iOS hates WP, or WP hates Apple, but either way, the app just doesn’t work well.  In addition to eating my own posts, it often eats the posts I save so I can come back and read them later.

Which got me thinking – how do other bloggers/readers find and follow blogs?  It used to be that everyone used an RSS reader like Feedly – do those even exist anymore? If they do, does anyone still use them?  Or do you just use the built-in WordPress Reader to find and follow blogs/sites?

I know that I can manually add websites to my reader to follow, but it doesn’t seem to work well.  I did a quick Google search to see if RSS was still a thing.  Google didn’t know, either.  It seems some people still use it, but many have abandoned it due to the rise of social media.  One article said that people use things like Facebook and Twitter in place of RSS readers now.  Is that true?

Does anyone sign up to receive notifications about new posts via email?  I don’t, because I don’t want the email spam.  That’s why I use the WP Reader – then everything is in one place and I can scroll through and read when I have time.  I do miss being able to mark things to come back and read later – there’s an option for that in the Reader, but in my iOS app, it doesn’t work half the time.

So how do you follow all the blogs and websites you like?  Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Other social media?  Or do you use something like Feedly? Or just email?  Sound off in the comments and let me know.

Subscription Fatigue

App for that
Credit: Pixabay

Remember my music/phone debacle?  After that, I started thinking.  (Dangerous, I know, but bear with me.)  What do we own these days?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not a hoarder, I declutter often, and I’m generally good about letting things go.  I’d rather have an experience and memories than yet another thing/object.

But at the base, my frustration over the phone/music issue was because I own the things – the music and the phone.  I own them outright – they are not on loan, they are not borrowed, I am not still paying them off.  When I started looking for internet help with the issue, many of the responses were to get something like Google Play or Spotify.

I don’t want or need either of those.  My youngest has a Spotify account – but the notion of that still seems crazy to me.  Maybe it’s because I’m old.  I’ve paid for the account (a birthday gift) for a year now.  And when the subscription runs out, what is left?  Nothing.  Because you don’t own the music, you just pay to access it.

Same with lots of things – Netflix, Spotify, Adobe CC, Microsoft Office (or 365, or whatever it’s called now), Hulu – you name it, there’s a subscription/app for it.  But again, when you stop paying the subscription, what do you have?

Empty hands and empty pockets.

Now, I’m not saying that there isn’t value in these things.  Obviously there is, because people are using them.  So maybe it is just me.  For example, I want to own Photoshop, not rent it.  I want to own my office suite of products, not rent them.  Maybe that’s why I live in a house instead of renting an apartment.  Why I own my car instead of leasing it.  Why I still have DVD’s – which, come to think of it, I should rip onto my PC. I have a 1TB hard drive with lots of space to spare.  And digital storage is ridiculously cheap these days.

With college tuition for two suddenly looming over my budget, I’m trying to pay off debts as quickly as I can and saving as much as I can before next August.  Which means I’m paying a LOT more attention to my budget and discretionary spending.

House too cool?  Sweaters and hoodies instead of reaching for the thermostat.  Watch water consumption – shorter showers and as little laundry as I can get away with.  Eating home cooked meals instead of eating out.  Paying subscriptions for things I don’t actually need?  Ludicrous.  I don’t need Office 365 – there’s LibreOffice.  It’s free, open-source, and compatible with Office.  I don’t need Adobe CC – I only use Photoshop anyway, and there are free alternatives out there.  For now, I’m happy with my PS CS6 version.  Hulu, Netflix, and the like?  I can watch YouTube for free.

I guess maybe I just suffer less from FOMO than other people?  For example, I’ve never seen a single episode of Gilmore Girls, Breaking Bad, or Game of Thrones.  Do I miss some pop culture references?  Sure.  Not enough to matter.  And businesses with subscription models WANT you to keep paying for them, even if you don’t use them.  All I know is, I’m tired of everything becoming a subscription.  Plus, it’s been shown that when people use subscription services, they severely underestimate what they are spending.  This Money article from February 2019 addresses why people continue to pay for subscriptions, even when they aren’t using them (spoiler – it’s FOMO).

I’m hopeful that perhaps people are becoming more aware of the issue.  This article by Ernie Smith details how people are looking to move, change, or combine subs to save money.  (It mentions that you can get Hulu if you pay for Spotify – so I may have to check that out, since I do.)  TV/shows/movies are not a big deal for me – I rarely watch TV anymore anyway.  I haven’t been to a movie theater in over a year, at least.

Maybe I’m just becoming a Luddite in my old age.  Also – stay off my lawn! 😛