Survival by You

Homeless, Lifestyle, Military Family

Hardship is indiscriminate; it can happen to anyone with the best of intentions, morals, highest GPA and earning potential. No fingers may point and if it’s a consequence, it can and will consume any who bed down with their mistakes with any sense of permanence.

It starts off very simply — like a car crash in slow motion. There was a laundry list of occurrences in our case. Little things we would try to fix, but hit dead ends, unsure where to turn next. As my husband’s time in the Navy drew to a close, we were being told by many to go to our local JAG (military legal aid) office to report multiple legal concerns involving the separation. JAG never answered their phones and the recording didn’t include an address. I walked the entire base, asking everyone I met how to find them; no one knew… not even the friends and Drew’s co-workers who referred us. Even the FFSC was rendered useless as JAG had apparently relocated without telling anyone.

Over time, I melded together a make-do plan by the emblazoned brass of my lady balls. I came to realize my state of being is my attitude — homelessness, is an attitude. We became homeless, alright, but for us, it’s been an adventure in re-discovery of what’s truly important in life.

Ultimately, our survival depends on us. Your personal circumstances in life are no disqualifier, no matter what they are. Our original choices aren’t always the best. In our case, we re-defined success for ourselves making room to add value and joy to our lives. The pen is mightier than just about everything, swords included — you alone have the power to re-write your present story into the future.

Go get it.

Simple Bullet Journal

Art, Lifestyle

In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking about schedules, time management; the mess we make it. Sometimes I feel in over my head, which can quickly mire up my mission and goals. So, in order to identify and weed out the unnecessary committments in my life, it was time to do something a bit more drastic; enter the Bullet Journal.

I don’t use schedules as they [hourly, in particular] legitimately upset me. I’m not fond of being controlled by an inanimate entity such as a dayplanner. Sure, I set up Google Calendar alerts for important appointments as they occur, but I don’t allow time much, if any room to control my day. The clock hands may move forward, but I will join them of my own volition. -sticks out tongue in rebellion- And that’s how I’m staying 27 forever! [Warning: this practice is by no means an eternal fountain of youth.] We would all do well to take heed to the level of power granted that prominent figure, the calendar.

Though I’ve not been at this long [barely a week], I decided to share a couple pages of my design / spreads after watching several Youtube videos on bullet journaling. I was disappointed there weren’t many with simple, minimalistic structures that were also lightly artful, with little sense of permanence. I want my own journal to be a thought tool. A basic collection of the things I need and need to do. It may at times double as a writer’s notebook, though I find great satisfaction in chucking any completed journal with a thump of finality. That doesn’t mean it can’t be artful as well, or that I cannot preserve some special aspect of it.

Credit goes to Ryder Carroll who came up with the bullet journal system I’m using. I love that he coupled a video with a reader-friendly instructional (see above-linked website). Comparing the two helped to figure out some major components of the system and how I wanted to implement them in my own notebook.

Here are some things I did a little differently from the model provided:

  1. Zero Page is not the Index. It’s a handwritten copy of To the Mother of All Loss — this journal is a place to write out the bones of some creative writing attempts, editing more deliberately, also…
  2. …I’d like it to be similar to a writer’s notebook.
  3. The Month Log seemed redundant to me at first, but I’m using it to write in immediate events. For example, bill due dates, birthdates. This would also be where I would log the fact that someone else’s kid threw a basketball through the glass in my back door [because if the cat was frightened into pooping the floor, my landlord should know why]. 
  4. I also chose to edit my Task Log (above, on the right page) a bit. I split it into 3 boxes (similarly to the Future Log) and wrote Daily, Weekly and Month in the top corners of each box. For the weekly box, I added a checklist to mark off items as they’re completed each week.

Looking for a sampling of my favorite simple office supplies? Find inspiration at this Pinterest board.

Daring Feat Challenges:

  • Create your own qualifiers.
  • Try out a 3-item to-do list using bullet journaling OR just try having a 3-item to-do list and converse about it below.

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

Book Review

It’s taken me quite some time to read this book. I began my minimalist lifestyle in mid-2012. There have been a lot of hiccups in the journey and my spouse and I have definitely made this lifestyle our own.

A well-written account of two friends’ considerations of minimalism, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life discusses everything from where it all began [for the Minimalists themselves] to in-depth examples of the core values they discovered in the process. I was particularly impressed by the suggestion of making contributions fun. This recommendation coupled with videos I’ve seen have proven Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus to be the most fun-loving individuals to ever pen a how-to book or a memoir.

Most remarkable is the obvious care with which the book was written. Never patronizing of it’s readers, nor does it assume singular superiority on any subject. These two authors bring to the table a varied, yet unified understanding of and empathy toward their readers, providing relatability on a level rarely experienced today.

Though this book does not delve too deeply into the authors’ personal stories [covered in Everything that Remains], it explores minimalistic lifestyle in a way which causes the reader to think. I found myself re-introduced to ideas I’d already considered, only now, they appeared in better lighting under the lamp of this book.

So thankful for this clear glimpse into an often over-complicated lifestyle. 

To Route427 Readers: If you’re struggling to find a copy of this book in your state [like I did] ask your local librarian about inter-library loans. In the meantime, I learned so much just from reading their blog, The Minimalists so be sure to check it out as well.

    Consider Reading

    Book Review, Kids Books

    I visit my favorite library at least once weekly — often borrowing up to 8 or more books at a time. Noting this stack of random books, a friend recently asked how I go about choosing a book to read. Mid-answer, I realized I was more or less making the story up as I went along, yet it still sounded canned.

    As an INFJ  my reasons for why I do certain things are gemstone nuggets of thought which I hurl into the chasm of my mind, allowing them to lodge wherever they will. Over time, thought-sediment solidfies over the gems and one must dig to find them again. It’s the cave in which I live… But then people wish to know, “So why this book? What made you choose it out of all the hundreds of thousands available…?” This is a legitimate question deserving a well-curated response; yet I’m so tempted to parry, “Why do you want to know? Why is this a thing you would ask?” This would be very rude, so I don’t, but I do end up occasionally offering a canned answer, while notating a need to dust off that particular diamond and give it a closer look. Here is the result of the book-choice diamond dusting:

    To read is to learn is to live freely — to hold the world in your hands.
    I truly believe that those who read can  and will do more with their lives. They will live more meaningfully, no matter their station in life. Some are overwhelmed by a set of imagined ‘reading rules’ society has imposed upon us. I urge you not to listen to them… reading is whatever you make of it.

    Start simple.
    Find a book you think you’ll enjoy. Find a comfy spot. Commence reading. No constraints; don’t tell yourself, “I’m going to read for an hour” or “I’ll read this many pages”. Also, don’t fault yourself for preferring to ‘listen’ to books — some people just want to be read to and that’s okay. 

    If you’re watching the clock, you haven’t made time to read…
    …and you will need to make the time. Reading is like exercise. Imagine a friend was trying to get healthier. You go over to his house and watch him do 5 push ups. Suddenly, he remembers the laundry, so he races to the laundry room to fold clothing in the dryer. He comes back, starts to do another push up and realizes his allotted 30 minutes of exercise time is up and he should get ready for work. A week later, he comes to you moaning that he gained a pound. You would be inclined to explain to your pal that he was too distracted from what he claimed as his mission. We’ve 24 hours, 7 days per week to do all the things… your priorities will shine through inaccurately unless you control them.

    No more book-shaming.
    As I’ve perused book stores and colleges, I’ve often heard conversations in which readers are told the books they choose to read are stupid or juvenile. Not true! Reading any book expands the mind, vocabulary and imagination. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve learned things about Japanese culture from some of my favorite manga and anime. 

    Honestly enjoy books.
    If you like something –even if you’re and adult reading Winnie the Pooh– own it. You don’t have to be obnoxious and rub it in our faces {that would be immature}, but do be honest in sharing and discussing with others {see Discuss below}.

    Return unread.
    Remember the stack of 8ish books I get from the library each week? I don’t read them all. Sometimes I get a book home and upon looking at it more closely, I find it’s not going to be as interesting or helpful as I thought. I place it on the shelf and read something else instead. If I haven’t come back to it, or find myself dreading it every time I look at it, I return it. I can always check it out again if my circumstances change and I no longer feel it attempting to suck out my soul.

    I wish more people held conversations exploring stories outside of book clubs, and such. How much more could we learn if we had a collective conversation on the subject of a single magical tale? You might think fans of different books who are opposed to reading each other’s favorites, would have nothing to talk about. Actually, they do. They may find common ground, or choose to be respectful of one another in listening to what they each liked about their respective books.

    In summary…

    • It’s not about aesthetics, though clean, crisp, fresh and striking books are attractive. Particularly those which hold organic papers. The feel is just different. Bonus points if they smell amazing.
    • It’s not the summaries or orginality, though I love a good summary. It lets me know what to expect from the book. I enjoy some predictible plots, but when I’m looking for something fresh and new, the summary can make or break the moment.
    • It’s not the host of parodies which may well be inspired by the book, but I do love humor.
    • It’s not the first few lines, yet I’ll let you in on a secret. Authors have about 3 lines to a paragraph to draw me in and let me know whether the book is right for me at that point in time.

        It’s about the value drawn from reading, the discoveries made and adventures trekked as a result of having read. The point, then, my dears, is not what you read, but the fact that you do so at all.