November 23rd – “This will be a propitious time to reorganize your finances so as to prevent budgetary acrobatics, which are sure to exhaust you.”

Money and budgets are not something I like to talk about. I don’t have a problem with money, but it seems like a contentious topic of conversation for many people.

Despite my initial reluctance, money was a repeated topic on both my zodiac and horoscope predictions for the last two days, so I thought, “Why not!” I’m sure those horoscope writers are trying to help all those over spenders during black Friday weekend!

Yesterday, I purchased a new car, so I needed to reorganize my finances a bit. That didn’t mean that I opened up a spreadsheet and tracked all my spending. How boring and tedious! No, I’ve never budgeted in a traditional sense and I do not need to now. All I did was re-prioritize some of my daily expenses in my head.

I’m guessing you might be skeptical about my approach, so here’s support from today’s horoscope:

Just how you stay afloat is one of your little secrets. It’s almost a secret from you, too, because you’re not quite sure how you manage it…But you’re just doing what comes naturally. Like a cook who doesn’t follow a recipe, you can’t really help your friends out by sharing any tips.

This reading is really spot on! I’ve been working part-time for a while, but it all seems to get managed. I track nothing, get the bills paid, splurge on a few luxuries, and even have money put away for rainy days.

My predication says that I don’t have any useful tips, but I’m up for a challenge! Here is what I do to be financially sound:

  1. BUY WHAT I NEED – if I can live without it for a week, I probably don’t need it
  2. SPLURGE ON ONE THING, NOT EVERYTHING
  3. DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS – I still don’t have a smart phone…
  4. DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK – and I don’t care what you think about it!
  5. TREAT MONEY AS A RELATIONSHIP

Of the items listed above, the last has been the most useful for me.

I grew up poor, very poor. Many people are surprised because I had a good education and do not look the part.  I’m not sure what poor is supposed to look like, but I think some people are thrown off because I like to wear dresses. When I was young I didn’t like money, not only because I didn’t have any, but because of how others behaved in relation to it. Money seemed to drive peoples’ existence and that didn’t sit well with me.

Throughout the years, I have met and forged relationships with people from different walks of life. I learned that it doesn’t matter what your background is. Whether you love or hate money, it’s an obsession. We obsess about making money, get preoccupied with spending money, or take money for granted. It’s hard not to do.

To a certain extent, money can buy happiness, security, freedom, prestige, and even identity. However, just like any relationship, if you solely rely on money to provide these things for you, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself dissatisfied at some point.

Let’s put it another way.

If I’m in a relationship because I think that my partner can give my life meaning, happiness and anything else I’m lacking, what’s going to happen when he’s not there? I’d probably find myself without meaning, unhappy, and still lacking.

It’s crazy to give anyone or anything that much power over my life.

I have no illusions that I have control over my life, but I would like to try to be responsible for my own happiness.

Once I began seeing money as a form of relationship, it didn’t matter how much or little I had of it. I know that I’ll be okay no matter what happens.

November 22nd – “Be aware that your research concerning your past or future lives will not help you close your monthly finances gracefully.”

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Breaking news: I received my birth reading today!

Yes, I’m taking this astrology thing to a whole new level!

My 60+ page reports (there were 2 of them) gave me an overview of what the stars have in store for me based on the date, time, and place of my birth. I read both reports in one sitting, and I have to say, I think it’s pretty accurate!

How did my prediction know that I would be getting research concerning my past and future lives today?  This is the first reading I’ve EVER had, so it has to be more than just a coincidence. I’m calling it a SURE SIGN!

It’s too bad that I can’t rely on my latest discoveries, which say that I can have/did have good fortune, to pay the bills this month. Oh well! I guess I can’t quit my day job just yet.

I know very well that while the past and future can provide valuable insights into my world, it’s not the here and now. I’m trying to live in the present, so I’m not going to dwell too much on the past or future. What’s done is done, and what’s not yet done, may never be done.

My past can give me knowledge, my future can give me hope, but only I can make today happen!

 

November 17th – “Just hang out and enjoy the passing scenery.”

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That sounds like wonderful prediction, doesn’t it?  Well it was, but only for the first 15 minutes of my day! Just when you think you have it easy, it can get hard real fast.

Inadvertently, I woke up at 4:30 this morning. That’s my usual time when I have to commute to the city. Today, I didn’t have to drive. I jumped out of bed because I thought it was 6:30 a.m.

After some warm ups, I bolted outside into the darkness.  As I’ve mentioned before, I like to work out first thing in the morning before my mind has a chance to wake up and rebel. It was a cold 45 degrees, but I tried not think about it and forged on. I thought to myself, “I’m only going for a short run. It won’t be so bad.”

Strangely, there weren’t any other runners around the lake today. Normally, there are dozens of early risers getting a jog in before work. After half an hour, the sun still wasn’t rising at all. That’s when I realized that something was wrong. I was up way too early.

At this point, there was no way that I’d be able to rewind and go back to sleep. Even though I was tired and struggling, my body was awake enough from the chilly air that it didn’t make sense to quit.

I had read my zodiac predication the night before and almost laughed out loud. With all the extra time I had now, I decided to turn my short run into a long one. My zodiac gave me a clear sign to hang out and enjoy the passing scenery, so I did.

It’s a rare treat to be at the lake at night, especially when there aren’t other pedestrians around. Despite the piercing cold, I appreciated the stillness. The ducks weren’t even in the water and lined up at the edge, patiently waiting for the sun to come out so they could warm their feathers.

The chilly air and quietness made me focus on nothing but the moment, something which I haven’t been able to do for a very long time. I wasn’t distracted by Olympic-fast joggers wearing face masks for “resistance training” or by overhearing private conversations from urban strollers. There were no car horns, seagull cries, or traffic signals beeping. I couldn’t see very well with the dim lights, but it didn’t matter. It was just me, the lake, and no one else.

***

Some day pictures of the lake:

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THANK YOU READERS!!!

Today I planned on making mug cakes to thank YOU. If you’re reading this, then, yes, I’m talking to YOU!

I had scheduled a microwave baking night with a friend, but she was swamped with work. Coincidentally, my zodiac did advise me to, “change some deadlines or renegotiate terms.” I should have taken that as a SURE SIGN that mug cakes weren’t going to happen!

Instead, I wrote a poem for you.

***

Thank You Readers

Big thanks I give to all who read my work

Two months it’s been since I began this blog

On cats, on cakes, and sometimes my artwork

I share it all with you, even my jogs

Typos I’ve made on almost all the posts

But you don’t seem to mind that much at all

I’m glad because I like being your host

Of horoscope stories from big to small

Who knows what future tomorrow will hold

For now I will enjoy your company

And let the words in their slow calm unfold

Into a sonnet to accompany

The thanks I want to show to all of you

I appreciate you, and you, and you!

 

November 13th – “Beware of self-fulfilling prophecies, especially unconscious ones.”

Self-fulfilling prophecies are the worst because there’s no one to blame but yourself!

I don’t really like this ominous zodiac prediction, but it’s probably giving me good advice. Hey, it can’t be rainbows, kittens, and butterflies every day!

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I would not like to scold my future self, so I took time to think about my thoughts and actions. I asked, “What am I doing unconsciously to sabotage myself?”

I’ve been juggling a lot recently and the coming week won’t be any easier. I usually work part-time, but next week, I’ll be at the office full-time. I’ve been telling myself that I won’t be able to get any non-work work (i.e. painting, baking, and all the other fun stuff) done because I won’t have time. I better change my attitude and not throw in the towel before the week has even started!

To help me accomplish all my non-work work, I’m going to make sure that I sleep well, get plenty of exercise, and have a specific focus each day. I usually hate schedules, but I’ve been so frazzled that I need a plan.

Monday – Submit Application

Tuesday – Painting

Wednesday – Baking

Thursday – Submit Application

Friday – Painting

Saturday & Sunday – Article, Reading

My revised self-fulfilling prophecy: I’m going to be a ROCKSTAR next week and get all my projects done on time AND have fun doing it!

November 12th – “New discoveries happen every day that change your environment in radical ways…stay spry, get up on your toes, and be ready.”

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Change is inevitable. Kids grow up, photographs fade, and the color of leaves change with the seasons. In this world, change happens whether we will it so or not.

Even inanimate objects are not exempt from change. My printer can attest to that. It used to spit out paper at 17 pages per minute and now every other page gets jammed. I don’t welcome this particular change, but I must deal with it nonetheless.

Above all else, I think our thoughts and feelings change, even for stubborn people like me! I don’t think people are capable of sustaining one feeling or thought for a long period of time. Have you heard about the 7 stages of grief? It’s helpful to remember this especially when I have negative emotions. I tell myself, “Hey, it’s just temporary!”

FYI: I’m aware that I’m totally conflating feelings, emotions, and thoughts. For my purposes right now, I am grouping them together and using the words “emotions” and “feelings” interchangeably. I might change my mind tomorrow, but that’s what it will be today! If you’re interested, psychology does make a distinction between feeling and emotions. To learn more, click here.

***

My zodiac agreed with my horoscope today. It told me to “find ways to deal with changes.”

Yesterday, I had great plans to be proactive, get ahead of deadlines, and write cover letters. I was feeling motivated, inspired, excited and ambitious!

Much to my disappointment, I had a difficult time stringing simple words together. My mind was a mess! I felt disorganized, frazzled, frustrated, and annoyed. The blog post I wrote had way more typos than usual, so I accepted this setback. I decided to give up on the cover letters for the day.

After a nap, I felt refreshed and decided to work in the garden. It’s been days since I’ve given the plants any attention, and I was surprised to find that the brussel sprouts had taken over the beds. I didn’t read the directions when I planted them in early spring, so they didn’t have enough space. I’ll be surprised if they produce anything.

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In contrast, my basil starts were still tiny after weeks in their trays, so I transplanted them.

The succulents had a few more new sprouts as well.

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I hope you grow big and strong in your new home!

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I was satisfied with the effort I put into the garden and continued “work” by reading The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  It’s an incredible fairy tale fantasy book published in 1968. I got through the first 200 pages even though I was mentally exhausted from the whirlwind of emotions. As you can probably guess from the title, it’s not a happy story!

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In the course of one day, I experienced a range of emotions. I felt:

  1. Motivated
  2. Inspired
  3. Excited
  4. Ambitious
  5. Disorganized
  6. Frazzled
  7. Frustrated
  8. Annoyed
  9. Refreshed
  10. Satisfied
  11. Proud
  12. Sad
  13. Fearful
  14. Exhausted
  15. Curious
  16. Angry
  17. Pity
  18. Love
  19. Disgust
  20. Intrigued
  21. Quiet
  22. Paralyzed
  23. Worried
  24. Pessimistic
  25. Eager
  26. Sympathetic

It’s crazy to see my feelings documented this way because this is just a truncated list! I’m sure there were more feelings that I experienced and didn’t include.

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What have you been feeling lately?

 

October 24th – “Forces around you are pushing you off track…What bravery do you need now?”

I like it when my zodiac and horoscope predictions coincide, but I’m not always sure how to interpret it! I have been thinking about work a lot lately and have been feeling a sense of urgency in this aspect of my life. There are many external influences beyond my control and I think I need to assess my situation and make decisions on what to do next.

Over the past year, I started quite a few creative projects (including this blog) while working part-time. I quit The Worst Job Ever (TWJE), so it was a good opportunity to try out new ideas and do work I wanted to do for a change. Now that I’m ready to create a different lifestyle for myself, it’s time for me to complete these projects.

I certainly could have finished these projects earlier, but had a number of reasons for not doing so. One excuse for procrastinating was that I simply wasn’t ready for a new job. The logic in my head was:

finish projects —> more free time —> do more paid work —>  find a full-time job  —-> get a new job that might really suck —> feel trapped!

Since TWJE, I have been afraid to commit to a new job because I don’t want to feel stuck in a bad situation. I know that I’m being dramatic and overly cautious, but I’m sure someone out there can relate.

In reality, my side projects and new job opportunities are totally unrelated. It’s silly that I’ve linked these two things together in a causal chain. It’s more likely that this will happen:

finish projects —> feel fulfilled —> new ideas —> start projects —>   finish projects —> feel fulfilled

It’s clear that I’ve been exhibiting self-sabotaging behavior lately, so I better stop! If I can’t be brave today, when will I be?  I know I get tremendous satisfaction from completing my own projects, so I will commit to getting my mini-books and paintings done by the end of the year.

To help me with this process, I’m going to go back to “piling” organization and keep all my projects in sight. I did this in graduate school and it was very effective in keeping me on track.

For those of you who don’t do this, it can work well for creative types who get distracted by lots of ideas. Click here for a more detailed explanation. Here’s a summary:

  1. Forget conventional filing and organize your projects into piles on your desk or any other surface you have.
  2. Write down project deadlines on a calendar where you can see all 12 months.

I also signed up for a free course for training creative professionals. I’ll let you know if I recommend the course when I’m done with it in 8 months. I don’t know if this will be my cup of tea, but I’m sure I’ll learn something from it!

October 11th and 12th – “Get all your ducks in a row prior to launching a new project…You may need to take a step back to see what’s working and what isn’t.”

I’m beginning to think that these horoscope and zodiac readings really are signs! Once again, they pretty much say the same thing. I’ll have to start keeping a tally of how often the two match up.

This week, I investigated ways to get published. I did a pretty thorough internet search, but as usual, the results were varied and gave me more information than I could handle. Oh, how I love and hate you internet!  I did find some “good sources” (i.e. writers who have published more than a few books with well-known companies) and they provided some deep insights into the world of popular publishing. While I appreciated their suggestions, I realized that I was more discouraged than encouraged to know the ins and outs of professional publishing!

Writing and publishing are two very different things, and it helped me see that I needed to work on my material first before worrying about the challenges of marketing or working with a publisher. Eventually I would have to deal with all of that, but for now, I should get all those ideas out of my head and onto paper.  One of the things that I will work on is reading more. The more you read, the better your writing gets. I’ve experienced this first hand and know others who can attest to it as well. I do read a lot now, but lately it has been more of short articles online than books. If I want to write a book, I better start reading books!

I have many unread books on my shelf like Hegel’s Philosophy of History,, but maybe that’s not the best place to start. I like philosophy, but I think I would need to take a class or two (or TEN, let’s get real) to be begin to understand dense works like these. I’m also more interested in writing about popular culture for a larger readership.  This book below caught my attention last week:

What Philosophy Can Tell You about Your Cat edited by Steven D. Hales

It’s actually a collection of essays written by different authors, but it’s still useful to see how these different perspectives can work together to form (or not form) a cohesive book. It is philosophy-lite , so I think I can handle it. From the chapter I previewed online, it’s a great book for cat lovers, but might not be a friendly read for a dog or horse person. Be warned dog and horse lovers, you might find this book offensive!

October 8th – “You’re focused on your home right now, so hang out with roommates or your spouse.”

My significant other was away for the day, so I spent some quality time with my cats. We spent the morning in the garden and the rest of the day inside.

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I ground up cat food in the food processor, asked the cats how they liked the new cat litter, and gave them lots of head massages. We even watched a couple of episodes of My Cat From Hell together.

My Cat From Hell follows Jackson Galaxy, a cat therapist, who helps people cohabitate with cats. In many episodes the humans on the show believe that there is something wrong with the cats they live with. By the end of the show, Galaxy usually successfully retrains humans to change their behavior which makes both cats and humans happy.  One of ideas Galaxy regularly uses is the challenge line.

The challenge line is what a cat’s limitation is. Sometimes it can be measured physically – i.e., by how close two cats can eat together without fighting. While Galaxy is talking about cats, the challenge line can be practiced by humans too. He asks some important questions:

Where is your cat’s challenge line?

Is it about people? Children?

Where do you feel sorry for them?

Where is that place where you say, “Oh, c’mon, you can do this”?

The third line, “Where do you feel sorry for them?” really hits home. I don’t ever want anyone to feel sorry for me! It’s a terrible feeling to be on the receiving end of pity. This has happened to me on a few occasions. Many people are surprised when I reveal to them that I suffer from depression and had an abusive childhood. I am highly functional at work, generally exhibit a friendly outgoing personality, and don’t walk around looking like I have a rain cloud over my head. The reaction is often shock, but with a sense of understanding/empathy. Most people have gone through their own hardships or know other people who have. On rare occasions, the reaction is shock and pity/sympathy. I don’t know how to best way to handle these situations yet, but I am working on it. Since I have such a strong aversion against anyone feeling sorry for me, I better work on moving that challenge line!

Writing has been a challenge for me over the past few years. I have successfully completed a 200 + page manuscript filled with footnotes, research, and lots of hard work. However, I have not been able to do anything up to that level. I would like to complete and publish a book project of some sort. It could be fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or really anything that impresses me!

My journey so far:

September – 2015 – started writing short poems

January 2016 – completed writing short self-help book in poems and sentences

July 2016 – completed 1st draft of illustrations for self-help book; sent book out to 2 publishers, rejected by 1

September 2016 – started writing short blog entries

October 2016 – writing blog posts every other day

I thought I had done nothing this past year, but that’s not really true at all! My writing is going slowly, but it is going. I have pushed past my challenge lines before and will continue to do so.

October 5th – “You may be totally occupied in something, but you need peripheral vision. There are key things going on out of the corner of your eye and if unaware you aren’t going to know what you need to know.”

This is very strange. Or is it another sign? My career horoscope (above) from yesterday is closely connected with my Zodiac reading for today:

On the professional plane, an oversight may have made you miss an interesting business; you’ll be now determined to do everything in your power not to commit the same error again.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day trying to figure out what I wasn’t seeing. I combed through the job ads again and found one that I missed. The deadline isn’t until November, so that could not have been it. I also started writing an article, but wasn’t able to gather my thoughts well enough to compete it before the night was over. Perhaps I missed an opportunity there?

Around 10 o’clock last night, I gave up worrying about what I couldn’t see. Worry = Stress, and Stress = Health Issues! I didn’t think it was beneficial to keep thinking about it.

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Instead, I decided to make a pot of vegetable soup so I could have something to eat for the next couple of days. If I really did miss a business opportunity and will be determined to NOT make the same mistake again, I probably won’t have much time to cook.

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Below is my quick and easy vegetable soup recipe. The vegetables are often different and I usually use what I have on hand. I don’t really measure things precisely, so the quantities are estimates.  You can add more of what you like and omit things that you don’t like. It’s up to you!

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Lazy, but Healthy Vegetable Soup

 2 quarts – chicken or beef broth

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

6 small tomatoes or 1 can of stewed tomatoes

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander

1 glove garlic, minced

1 cup of dried lentils or 2 cups cooked beans

A large bunch of kale or other leafy greens

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Throw everything in the pot, except for the kale and lentils, and bring to boil for about 20 minutes
  2. Add lentils/ cooked beans and boil for another 15 minutes. For softer vegetables and a thicker broth, boil for another 15 to 30 minutes. The starch in the beans/lentils will further thicken the soup. You can also add a little corn starch to thicken as well.
  3. When the vegetables are done to your liking, turn off the stove, stir in your kale or leafy greens.