*Pinned* Changing a Lifetime of Negative Thinking One Day At a Time

My son isn't speaking to me right now, because he says I'm too negative. He's right. I spend way too much time on Twitter reading about politics and thinking about all that I don't have. I catastrophize my health, and use it as an excuse to not do what I don't want to do.

This blog used to be just another place for me to bitch about things, but that is going to change. This is going to be my daily journal of the positive things that have happened and what I have accomplished every day of my life.

I actually do more than I think I do, because most things are small, so they don't show. Such as, this weekend I recycled a load of plastic food containers I had been hoarding. I got that habit from my mother with her hundreds of margarine and whipped topping containers under her kitchen counter. My sons and I would go in from time to time and clear them all out, leaving her just the ones that actually had lids. She always had a fit over it, but she survived. So yesterday, I was searching for something to store food in, and decided not to be my mother anymore. It's not like I don't have any other plastic containers, in fact, at one time I gave away a whole box full of them so I'd quit creating science projects in the back of my refrigerator.

From today forward, I will post daily accounting of all the things, small and large, that I accomplished, and the things I'm grateful for, so that maybe, maybe, like Norman Vincent Peale said, I can change not only my thoughts but my world. I hope you will join me.

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When Having Just Enough Isn't Enough

People say I'm brave, and they admire me for my tenacity, the way I go on despite challenges to my life. Some say they could never live like I do, with just enough to get through and no more.

Well, I'm not brave, I'm not always strong, and sometimes having "just enough" is not enough.

My computer is dying. I knew it would die eventually, and didn't plan for it. Stupid of me, and there really is no excuse. I've gone through some bad times, but then I've also had some good times when I could have saved up and bought a new computer before this one died, but I didn't. It's all on me. No one and nothing else is to blame.

So now I need a new computer because I work online, and I have to find a way to get the money for it. Right now, having "just enough" isn't enough. I don't need much, just a few hundred dollars, but I don't have savings and I don't have charge cards, so it means working harder until I get the money, and praying every morning that the computer starts up and runs all day.

So this is where going on when you don't have the strength comes in, and looking at what I DO have instead of what I DON'T have.

I have one blessing where this is concerned - the local library. If my computer indeed does die, I can get my senior monthly bus pass for $17.50 and go work at the library. It's not simple working at the library, because you can only have the computer for 45 minutes at a time, and there is no way to save your work unless you work in the cloud. I don't like working in the cloud, but I'll have to so I don't lose my work if I run out of time in the middle. You can only renew that 45 minutes once, and only if people are not waiting for your machine, then you have to get off and put in a request to get another machine. Most of the time, you can just renew, so you can be on for a full 1.5 hours, but then you MUST get off and put in a request to get another computer.

So it's aggravating and riding two buses to get there is not fun, but it's a blessing nevertheless that will keep me working when I would otherwise be stuck here not doing anything.

Another blessing is that one client I work for will have a big, well-paying project starting in a couple of weeks, so I can make that money quickly. In the meantime, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and save as much as I can.

All this has shown me that I need to plan better for eventual expenses that affect my life. I can't always live as if having just enough to get by is fine. While that's a more stress-free lifestyle on a daily basis, on days like this, it just creates stress. Most people call this an emergency fund. I'm going to call it my security fund, because it will make me secure in the fact that if something bad happens, I can deal with it.

Sometimes, we have to change to be more of who we are, and live more like we want to live, and sometimes, you have to just keep going, when your heart and mind want to give up.
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A Simple Pot of Soup

One of my favorite quotes is "The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for." Today I'm thankful for soup. 

Due to some needless beauracracy and January being a lean month for freelance writers, I am literally at the bottom of the barrel as far as food goes. I've picked up some work now, but am still waiting to get paid, so my cupboards are pretty bare.

I try to plan out my day's meals every morning, based on what I have in the cupboard. Today, it was hard not to be sad. I had just spent my last few dollars on eggs & bread. In my cabinet, I had one can of diced tomatoes, one sleeve of crackers, and one sprouting onion. In the freezer, I found 4 chicken drumsticks and the last of my frozen veggies. In the refrigerator, I had 2 baking potatoes and 7 carrots. So I pulled out my soup pot and went to work.

I had just read an article on how "souping" is actually a dieting thing now. Of course, the people doing this are eating fancier soups than what I was going to create today, but it seems that filling yourself up with water and veggies can keep your belly full enough to make you eat less. Unless you love soup like I do, then you might eat more.

As I peeled and chopped up my potatoes, carrots and onion, I thought about the story "Stone Soup," and how the man had tricked the villagers who refused to feed him into giving him everything he needed for a delicious vegetable soup. As I poured water into the pot, I thought about people in South Africa who are running out of water, and people in Puerto Rico right now who are drinking polluted water just to stay alive. As I added my ingredients, I thought of the  people in Haiti who were forced to eat mud after the earthquake. As I stirred the pot, my mind went to starving faces from the refugee camps all over the world full of war survivors.

Suddenly, I felt very thankful for my soup, which will likely feed me for a couple of days. By then, I'll have money coming in and won't have to be hungry anymore, at least for awhile.

The U.S. is in crisis, and people are so negative, only looking at what is wrong with their lives. They've forgotten that all over the world, there are people who are praying for a simple pot of soup.
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Minimalizing My Life as a Gift To My Son

Today, I was reading this blog post and part of it struck me hard.
As an only child saddled with the responsibility of going through three generations of “stuff” — mine, my parents’ and my grandparents’ — I don’t think I can ever fully articulate just how much that process changed my relationship to the objects in my life.
I don't want my child to go through that. I have two children, but one is not speaking to me, and probably never will again, so my beloved younger son will be stuck with all of it.

I've rid myself of around 75% of what I had in my 3br/2ba/1car garage, 1/4 acre yard home that I lost in the recession. I had to move 5 times in 5 years, and every time but the last one, I got rid of more and more of my "stuff." This is the smallest apartment I've ever lived in, 560 sf of usable space, and I can't use my 11 x 14 bedroom because it is piled with boxes.

I have all those boxes because I thought this was all that was left of my life, the stuff I could not part with. My plan was to go floor-to-ceiling to make it all fit in here, but as I go through boxes, I find that I just don't want or need most of it anymore.

I'm 65 now, and who knows how much time we have left? I'm thankful that I don't still have that stuffed 3 BR house & yard that my children would have to get rid of, but I don't want them to have to deal with this either.

I've been saying for the entire 2-1/2 years I've been here that I'm going to get rid of those boxes, but it's easier said than done. I've had all kind of plans for doing so, but never follow through. Some of it is because there are things in those boxes that make me cry for what I've lost, like the curtains from my old house, the wooden doorknobs I was going to use to re-do my kitchen cabinets, and unframed artwork I always intended to hang.

But I don't have that house anymore, nor do I have the 2 BR house I used to live in. I have this place, and I have to make it livable. I also need to make it so when my son comes to clear out my stuff, it will take them no more than a day, because most of what needs to be done will already be done.

Of course, along the way, I'll also create a simpler, more meaningful life for myself, which will make my golden years much more golden.

Are you hanging onto things you don't need and hardly ever use whose disposal will only be an encumbrance on whoever has to deal with them when you're gone? You may think you have time, but we never know how much time we have, so what are you doing toward making your life as simple and meaningful as you possibly can right  now? 

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Changing Your Thinking: Turning Negatives into Positives

I have a horrible pessimistic attitude sometimes, but I'm learning to turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts by looking for the good in the bad

So this morning I was feeling overwhelmed about having too much to do when I really need to be working - apartment needs cleaning, courtyard needs cleaning, leaves need to be raked, and I have to walk to the store & back to get some essentials I can't really do without. I took a deep breath and decided to look for some positive aspects of all this, and this is what I came up with.
  1. I have an nice, affordable apartment and a regular income to pay my rent.
  2. I have a wonderful little courtyard where I can sit outside and enjoy nature in privacy.
  3. Raking leaves is good exercise and give me free mulch for my garden.
  4. I have work available to earn money to pay my bills.
  5. I am physically able to walk to the store, and have money to purchase my needs.
  6. I have food in my kitchen enough to get me through the end of the month.
So I am truly blessed, and all that needs to be done will be done eventually, probably before the weekend is out. In the meantime, I'm blessed to be able to work from the comfort of my home, nice and relaxed, not having to be on my feet all day as I was at my last brick-and-mortar job. 

I hate to use the cliche "Look for the silver lining," and I realize that in some circumstances, this is pretty impossible. I've been in situations where "I'm still alive" was the only positive I could find, but even that is a blessing and a starting point toward better things.

See if you can do this the next time you're overwhelmed and feeling like the world is crashing down on you. Find at least one positive thing to hang onto while you clear the wreckage. 

Feel free to tell me your survival stories in the comments, where positivity helped you get through hard times.
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