living large on a government salary

I’m a state university employee which means I’m not making the same kind of cheddar that my peers in the corporate world are. It’s a conscious decision that I made 16 years ago and I’ve never looked back. I have amazing benefits, I get to be a part of educating the future, and my colleagues at work are like family. Plus that whole week off between Christmas and New Year’s off work every year, seriously can’t beat it.

But there are some “life hacks” that I use to help stretch my monthly pay. For one thing, I satisfy my daily coffee cravings by making my own fancy stuff at home. I also have a tendency to take my own breakfast and lunch to work so I don’t have to eat out. It’s a hell of a lot healthier, too.

When it comes to buying food we shop the sales. And since I like to make my own smoothies, no kale or spinach please, I stock up on fruit when it’s on sale and in season and then freeze it myself. I’ve also started buying the really ugly bananas that are super cheap and running then through my tiny little blender and then freezing the puree in 1/2C containers. It’s great to throw in with my smoothies. It works great with peaches or strawberries that get a little too squishy. No sense tossing perfectly good food.

I have a tendency to make my “convenience” foods a lot. You like that whole yogurt / granola parfait thing? Make your own. I take a 2C container, dump in a container of yogurt, add in 1/3C of dried fruit, and then take a separate little 1/2C container of granola. (I almost always eat breakfast at work, don’t ask why.) It’s cheap and it’s super yummy and I can customize the daylights out of it.

What kinds of “hacks” do y’all use to save some green?

this is not the droid you seek

I’m in what one of my colleagues aptly referred to as a “reinvention period.” And he’s right. Every so often I completely turn myself into a vastly different version of myself. In the past this has been brought on by failed relationships, wanting to keep relationships from failing, or wanting to keep the next relationship from failing.

No more.

It’s a well documented fact that I’m not very good in relationships. I’ve been married and divorced three separate times and been in too many other relationships to remember. But they don’t last and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. So here’s the list of reasons I’m not “that” droid.

  • I’m too old
  • I’m too young
  • I’m too short
  • I’m too fat
  • I’m too smart
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’m too passionate
  • My taste in music is too weird
  • I’m not a musician
  • I work in education
  • I can support myself
  • I don’t make enough money
  • I have tattoos
  • I don’t have kids
  • I do have cats
  • I don’t like to drink wine
  • I have weird hair
  • I have short hair
  • I have bipolar disorder
  • I’m opinionated
  • I will speak my mind
  • I’m not great at singing
  • I’m not politically active
  • I don’t like Trump

Lastly, but I’m finding now is most important, I don’t give a good goddamn about any of those things and whether or not a man puts stock in them or not. This is me, this is the skin I wear, and if you don’t like it…

The door is over there. I’ll be busy enjoying my bellydancing class, grilling myself a steak, and rubbing my kitties’ tummies.

karaoke

When we went to the conference in July there was karaoke as one of the evening events. I wasn’t quite drunk enough to be comfortable getting up in front of a bar full of strangers and singing, although later that same night I did some crazy dancing in front of strangers. Anyway, it’s been bothering me. My excuse that night, aside from a lack of sufficient moonshine, was that I couldn’t think of The Right Song. And of course since then I’ve thought of about a thousand.

I’ve only actually done karaoke once, at a tiny country bar with my second husband. I’m pretty sure I sang “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. It’s a great song. The one above by Pink is too. And so is “I Am Waking Up Today” by Bowling for Soup, and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, and pretty much anything by Flogging Molly.

Way back I actually could and did sing, quite well. I was in choir at school and loved it. I sang constantly. When I was diagnosed with bipolar and started taking lithium I lost my pitch. Can’t carry a tune in a bucket these days. Pretty well the only time I sing is when I’m alone, in the car or the shower. I’m just way too self-conscious about the way I sound.

But I shouldn’t be. I sound the way I sound. I’m good at lots of things, I don’t have to be good at everything.

So next time the opportunity to go out and do karaoke presents itself I have every intention of raising my glass.

when last we left our heroine…

My trip was good, all things considered. There were no real issues with the travel itself, we saw some beautiful scenery, learned some neat stuff, and had a good time. I actually laughed more than I have in a very long time. I needed the laughter, probably more than anything else.

It was an opportunity to recharge my muchly depleted batteries. I have a tendency to push myself far harder than anyone else ever would. That’s great, but only to a point. I had been working too many hours, going in on weekends, and not allowing myself breaks. Not good for anyone but seriously not good for someone with mental health issues.

And now the real fun starts. August on a university campus can, and often does, provide a close simulation to all of Dante’s levels of Hell. This is my 16th go at this. Bring it.

I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy helping people. I enjoy pushing myself to the absolute limit just to see if I can push a little further. One of my mantras, one that I think should probably turn into a tattoo soon, is “fall down seven times, get up eight.” I love it because, well, I just don’t know how to quit.

turn the page

Change is HARD.

My world feels full of change anymore. The department I work for got restructured in February and that created a fair bit of upheaval. We’re making a significant software switch on campus and that’s causing more upheaval. My continuing relationship with my ex is in a perpetual state of flux. I lost an uncle to suicide this summer.

Life is constant change and change can be HARD. But life is also constant opportunity for CHOICES.

I choose to see all of the change as a chance to make my life better.

I will be more than the labels I wear and I will be better than the foul mood I find myself in right this very minute and I will be the compassionate human being that I know myself to be.

I choose to see the good in the changes.