Thursday, December 18, 2014

Maxi vs Mini

Over the past month, there have been huge changes in my life. One of the biggest changes is the fact that I am now single.
I wish I could attach photos, but the monitor on my laptop was broken by an irate husband and until I can get it fixed or find a work around to upload my pictures, my posts will be without photos.

Previous House:
1890 sq. ft. with 1 acre of land
Current Home:
Approx. 500 sq. ft. with a stamp-sized yard

I was always overwhelmed with the large house. It was never clean. It was never tidy. It was too much for two people to keep up with. It drove my bonkers.

Todd and I had discussed moving into our 33 ft. RV and I looked forward for the day that we were to downsize! I was done with the “stuff” in our lives! We have also looked into tiny homes for after our RV adventures took place. Though these dreams will not come to fruition for the two of us, I have been implementing them for myself!

I am currently living in a 50’ trailer with the two dogs (Lana is 76 lbs and Buddy is 98 lbs!), and though I don’t know the exact size, I estimate that it is approximately 500 sq. ft. Let me tell you, this is the perfect size for me and the dogs. Actually, if it wasn’t for my jewelry business, I could probably have done without the second bedroom.

When I moved, my mom kept asking, “Do you want to take this?” and “Do you need that?” My answer was always, “There isn’t enough room, mom.” We were able to fit all of my belongings in a 10 ft. U-Haul tow-behind trailer. To be honest, I was worried if it would all fit into my new place, but it did! The ONLY items that did not fit were two of my dining room table chairs (my dad is storing them for me because I do not have space anywhere for them in the house!). Everyone who has come to see my house immediately says, “This is cozy!” And that is exactly what it is for me too.

At the big house, we had duplicates and sometimes triplicates of things like sets of dishes, dining room furniture, living room furniture, etc. I love having just ONE of everything. I have 6 plates, saucers, bowls and cups and even that seems excessive. It’s just me! I like the fact that when company comes over, it takes me less than an hour to clean up.

Though there are some comforts that I would prefer to have in a home (a little bit of land, quietness of the country and a garage!) but I really do like this trailer. I find that because I cant just let the dogs out to roam the neighborhood (darn leash laws,) I am getting out more than I ever have before. I walk the dogs at LEAST 5 times a day with 3 of those walks being “around the block” so they can get their exercise and let their sniffers do some exploring. If it weren't for the dogs, I would probably never leave the house and meet some of the people from the neighborhood. Since moving, I have lost 10 lbs without changing my eating habits! Hmmm…maybe there is something to be said about daily exercise.

I also love the fact that I am close to everything. I work just 6 miles away from where I live which enables me to come home during lunch to let the dogs out to go potty, get a walk in, eat a quick lunch, and get back to work with time to spare! I may never hit 250,000 miles on Bianca, but the daily commute went from 2 hours a day – 90 miles total, to just 40 minutes a day – 25 miles total.

I am really enjoying my downsized (mini) life.
Life is good.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Two Sides to Every Story

It has been a while since I’ve posted on this site. Life has thrown more challenges this year than I’ve ever experienced, but I am here to tell you that I am confident that everything has happened for a reason and in my best interest. This post is to set a few things straight about what has been going on in my life, my marriage, and is my side of the story. Please keep in mind there are always (at least) two sides to every story.

First things first, Todd and I have separated after 7 ½ years of marriage (nearly 9 years of being together). I have written posts every year on our anniversary about how we made it yet another year. Most years it was surprising even to me that we made it, but I was not about to give up and would try whatever I could to make things work between us. There were many issues within our marriage, some easier to move past, others not so much.

There was a post I wanted to publish on the blog for years but never got the nerve to click “publish.” The post was about my struggle living with an alcoholic to let women who also deal with this issue that they are not alone and that I am here if they want to talk about it. I have learned over the years that alcoholism in a marriage is never really discussed: it is an up and down roller-coaster that many women deal with internally (as I had) until it gets to be too much to handle on their own. I learned of many women that I knew (for years!) that struggle(d) with the same issues but never ever mentioned anything about it until I opened up about my struggles with the disease. There is nothing I could have done to help Todd’s alcoholism. Until the addict realizes they have a problem (or hit rock bottom), things would never change.

Todd has complained about pain through our entire relationship. He took dozens of pills each and every day for all of his ailments: caffeine pills to wake up, pain pills for his hands, stomach pills for his acid reflux, magnesium pills to help who knows what, pills for his depression, more pills for the pain, allergy pills, sleeping pills and alcohol because after all the pills, that was the only thing that “truly helped with the pain.” I never agreed with all of the pills and I became extremely unsympathetic when it came to all of his (supposed) ailments. To me, I felt like he was the boy who cried wolf.

I felt in our marriage that Todd always played the victim role and was never able to get past any grudges he had against others. Nothing was ever because of his choices but because of who did what to him. Though he was very close to his mother and father, he had no real relationships with any of the rest of his family (including 4 half-sisters and many nieces and nephews.) To this day, Todd is taking no responsibility to the demise of our marriage.

In no way am I stating that I was the perfect wife in this marriage and that I had nothing to do with the destruction of our marriage. There was a statement I made during counseling many years back that I wish I could take back and I know Todd never forgave me for because it was still being thrown back in my face with each disagreement we had up until the very end. In conflict, I tend to shut down and am unable to talk things through until I calm down. I have a hard time admitting fault in a disagreement but I have no problem apologizing and making amends in the end. But if nothing else, I tried to make this marriage work for many many years.

In the end, it was Todd’s decision to separate. There were many things that were texted to me while at work on a Friday: some of which would have been very difficult to forgive. I took the dogs and went to my parent’s houses that weekend until Todd calmed down. I decided to start looking for places to stay. Three days later, something really stupid set Todd off and there was rage, flying objects being thrown across the room, more verbal abuse, screaming at the top of his lungs, destruction around the house, blame that I made him do all of these things and at the very end, him stating in a round about way that he wished I were no longer alive. That was my sign from God that there was no turning this marriage around. Luckily, that morning, I had looked at a place very close to work and had a deposit down until I decided what I wanted to do. I called the very next day asking how quickly I could sign on the place and move in. Two days later, my brother and my mom came with a 10 ft. U-Haul trailer to pack my things and help me move. And when I say “help me move,” I really mean they did the moving because I was useless. I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained.

Today, nearly a month after all of this took place, I can look back and see how extremely toxic our marriage was to one another from the very beginning. The first week in my new place was extremely difficult not only emotionally, but it seemed like something happened every single day.  By the second week, things started to turn around for the better.

Frankly, I am glad that Todd made the decision to end our marriage. If it wasn’t for his decision, I probably would have tried to work things out yet again for the umpteenth time. In the past, when I wanted to leave, I always wondered if there was anything else I could have done to make things better for us. Now, I know there was nothing more I could have done to save our marriage. It takes two people working together to make a marriage through the good, bad and ugly. That being said, there are more (big) changes ahead for me whether I am ready for them or not.

And I repeat, please keep in mind that this is just my side of the story. I am sure Todd would paint a very different picture of our issues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When it Rains it Pours

A few weeks back, I wrote about my unrealistic expectations when it comes to our finances and the fact that I am striving to let go of all of my unrealistic expectations. I wrote about finances, but it really applies to everything in our life: The RV, garden, our jobs, my new business venture, and repairs to our vehicles and home!
A few days after posting the blog, Todd received word that his usual 12 hour shift has been cut to 8 hours. This means an even larger cut in pay than what we have taken over the past year due to my hours being cut and Todd changing jobs. On top of that, we have learned that Todd will need surgery for his debilitating carpal tunnel in both of his hands which will result in a total of 6 weeks of recovery.
Do you ever feel that you are being led a certain direction in life whether you like it or not? I am being taught that I am not the one in control, and I am learning to TRUST in the one that does.

I have faith that we will get through the next several months and come out stronger than ever before: we always do. We are blessed to have the family and friends that we do and each other to lean upon in these times. I am prepared to welcome whatever God gives us and embrace the changes that are coming. If there is one thing I know for certain is that the only constant thing in life is change...whether I like it or not!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stick With it Marriage Day

Friday, June 27th was “Stick With it Marriage Day.”  There were articles on MSN and Yahoo about famous couples (Tori & Dean) who chose to stick with their marriage after conflict.  It is ironic because Todd and I were having a horrible argument pretty much that entire week!  After seeing that Friday was Stick with it Marriage Day, I thought about how fitting it was.

People often say that they married their best friend.  Admittedly, I am a bit jealous when I hear this being stated because I did not marry my best friend.  Not at all.  If Todd and I were not married, I don’t feel I would associate with him.  I am not saying this because I am being mean or because we are in the middle of some rough times: I am saying it because it’s the truth.

Over the past several months I have learned of several people that I know through work and through friends or family that are getting divorced.  Their reason?  “I just don’t love him like that anymore.”  Are you kidding me?!?  That is not grounds for divorce in my opinion.

Todd and I are going through a really rough time right now.  I am COMMITTED to making this marriage work as I have for the past 7 ½ years.  It would be so easy to walk away (and I believe that there are grounds in our marriage for divorce), but I CHOOSE to stick it out.  Just like I CHOSE to marry this man: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. 

I have been working hard on taming my biting tongue while in conflict and trying to be more subservient in our marriage.  This has pretty much gone unnoticed but I know deep down that I am being the best wife to Todd that I can by serving him...whether or not he notices.  It is difficult because I am so selfish and I will not say that I succeed in doing this all.the.time, but I try.  And really, what more can I do?


I am not looking for praise or approval, I just wanted people to see that not every marriage is a happy one, not all times are bliss.  What may be portrayed online with smiling photos of fun outings with the hubby is not how our marriage is 100% of the time.  Marriage is a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of pain.  But in the good times, it can be so rewarding as well: Even if he’s not my best friend.  I choose to stick with our marriage not just on Friday, but every day.

And just as a side note, I highly recommend reading this article about sticking it out even when marriage is difficult.   


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Garden: June




This year, I decided to keep the garden simple.  I have been overwhelmed over the years with too many plants, too many weeds, and not enough motivation to spend time out in the garden giving it the care and attention it needs to thrive.  My goal this year was to spend less than $50 on the garden, and to attempt to grow my garden in pallets we had picked up for free.

I will tell you that so far, I am really enjoying the pallet garden.  We had to get four times the amount of soil we needed because the nursery did not have the type of soil we wanted - we had to make our own.  Instead of getting just a ½ cu ft of soil, we ended up having to get 2 cu ft!  The price for that alone was $31.03!  I ended up using much less soil than expected in the pallets so we decided to use the rest of the soil to fill in low spots in our yard.  Waste not – want not.



This is what the pallet garden looks like (after 3 straight days of rain and no time to mow the lawn!) 



The zucchini and summer squash were planted by seed and took off almost instantly after I planted them mid-May.  I have 4 pallets of zucchini and summer squash planted.



I also planted yard-long green beans and cucumbers.  They have taken off as well! (the are the ones closest to us in this picture.)



I have 1 ½ pallets full of cucumbers planted – I am going to have to add a pallet tee-pee for the cucumbers to start climbing soon.


 I gave a friend several packs of Roma tomato seeds last year that I wasn’t going to use and this spring, she gave me several seedlings!  Unfortunately, the cats decided to use the pallets as a litter box and killed many of the seedlings before they could get established, but I have at least 4 Roma tomato plants that are difficult to see in this picture but believe me, they are there.

If I were to do the pallet garden again, I would put all the pallets together.  I did not space them to give enough room for the lawn mower to go through, so every month I have to take hedge clippers and cut in between the pallets when the weeds get too tall!  Also, if I decide to do a pallet garden again next year, I will be putting cardboard or weedblock under the pallets.  I still get weeds though they nothing compared to our garden last year.

Total cost of the vegetable garden in 2014: $38.88.  
This includes the price of soil and the cost of the seeds.

Now onto the fruits around our property.




I have no idea how to take care of concord grape vines, but I trimmed them back pretty far this spring.  Other people leave their vines as they are and new growth comes in each year.  I can see where the grapes will start to produce on the vines, and the vines have taken off like crazy since mid-May!  I joke with Todd that I can sit on the front porch and watch them grow.  I am hoping to propagate several of the vines to take over to the house next door to get established before we hit the road full time in the RV.  Plus, I don’t believe you can ever have too many concord grapes– they are probably my favorite fruit!



For the first time since we purchased the pear trees (5 years ago, I think it’s been), we finally have pears growing!  There are 5 of them!  I am beyond thrilled about this!

  

We purchased a blackberry plant last year at a flea market and it has just taken off!  We have a lot of these beautiful white flowers and I look forward to those plump, juicy sweet berries in the next few months!


   
I neglect our red raspberries every single year, but without fail, they always produce for me.  I didn’t even trim the red raspberry plants from last year and they are taking off!  It looks like we will have a bumper crop this year from the canes I transplanted two years ago. 





These are our cherry trees – we bought one along with the blackberry bush last year and we’ve had the other in the ground for a couple of years now.  It does not appear we will be getting cherries this year, but hopefully next year!  These are rainier cherries which are yellow and red in color and so sweet! 

There you have it.
This is what our vegetation looks like so far this year, and we’re just getting started!  It amazes me how things grow from seed and how quickly!

How is your garden doing this year?


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unrealistic Expectations


I have said it before, and I will say it again: I am a dreamer.  I dream big.  The only problem is that what I dream and what actually happens are two different things.  


Take, for example, our budget.
I like numbers.  I like planning.  I have always taken on the budget in our marriage.  By doing this, I have taken on quite a bit of stress because I am married to a spender. 

We bought an RV, and though I do not regret the purchase, I hate that we have a loan on it.  I had all of these great plans on how to pay it off and pretty much live like paupers until October to do it.  Well guess what?  It’s not working.  Again, because I am married to a spender.

Now, when I say that Todd is a spender, please realize that I’m not talking big ticket items.  He buys things that we need around the house and a couple of frivolous items once in a while (or what I think are frivolous such as an extra set of pots and pans for the RV when I was OK with trekking the pots and pans for the house back and forth).  I call him the spender because he spends more than I do.  If it were up to me, I would not buy anything but gasoline, groceries and dog food!  I am good with “making it do.”    

After a week of stressing out about finances, having a car break down, a garage door spring pop, and a couple of medical bills to be paid, I threw my hands up and said I was done with scrutinizing each penny that comes into our home.  I am done worry and stressing about how we are going to pay off the RV by October.  It will not be the end of the world if we don’t get the RV paid off until December!! My marriage may actually benefit from putting off the payoff date by a couple of months!  We have had over a $12,000/year decrease in our income this year – I cannot have the mindset that we can still put away the SAME AMOUNT as we had in previous years based on our previous income.

I have decided that it is time to loosen up a bit when it comes to the finances.  As long as we are accelerating our RV payments, squirreling money away into savings and not “pissing away” (for lack of a better phrase) our incomes, I am content with lightening up about our finances!  We have worked hard for years to pay off our debt and pay down half of our mortgage: it is time to enjoy ourselves (within reason)!


Are you hard on yourself when it comes to finances?
Do you have unrealistic expectations as I do?