Never Stop Learning

There are always new skills to master in life. When we become proficient or skilled in something new, that isn’t the time to just rest on your laurels. It’s time to learn a new skill or find new ways to use the ones we have. For example, I’m always trolling food blogs at work, trying to pick up new recipes and techniques to try out.

food-blog

I mean, I went to culinary school. I’ve learned a lot about pastry and savory cooking, but I can’t have learned everything. There’s always more out there to see and do and try (and eat!).

I realized at some point that I had a suite of Adobe software on my laptop that I didn’t know about (thanks to the ex, I suppose). It includes Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro, all of which I think I could stand to use in my life. Maybe someday I’ll need to know a bit more about graphic design or want to make video tutorials of some kind. You never know! And it may come in handy for this blog or for my work someday.

Luckily, there’s a ton of great tutorials for these programs on YouTube. Sure, it’s also full of cat videos, but YouTube can be incredibly helpful when it comes to learning a new skill. So get out there and learn – and never stop!

The Meaning of the Holidays

The holiday season is, for me, a strange time of year. Having been raised areligious, I don’t assign a lot of deep, spiritual meaning to the Christmas holiday. It’s always been a (sometimes) nice family day, with some notable exceptions thanks to family in-fighting. Honestly, we weren’t very close to my extended family, so that didn’t really lend any more weight to holidays. Mostly, we baked and cooked and listened to my father play songs on his guitar – Jingle Bell Rock was a favorite. It was a small and quiet affair with a tree decorated in white and gold.

White And Gold Christmas Tree Christmas Trees Pinterest

When I was a kid, there was the perk of presents, too (bribery almost always works on small children – it definitely worked on me). But as I got older and moved into my teen years, the shiny glow of presents no longer really won me over. It wasn’t that I wasn’t grateful; rather, I found that I just didn’t really want stuff. It didn’t make me happy anymore. So the charm that Christmas had offered to me when I was little had also faded away.

Without religion, family, or the promise of gifts to anchor me to the season, Christmas was just a couple of days that I got off of school and an excuse to eat a giant ham (and leftovers for a week or two).

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After I graduated from college, I discovered that I much preferred creating and giving hand-made presents and baked goods over shopping for gifts. Maybe it’s my ever-tight budget or maybe it’s my powerful urge to make things with my hands, but those are my favorite presents of all. I’m sort of a people-pleaser; feeding people just makes me happy.

If you’re like me and maybe don’t put a lot of weight on presents or big, elaborate dinners, please consider making a donation to a charity organization who can help spread cheer this winter where it is needed most. Some of my favorite secular charities are:

Christmas Gifts

I’m being a bit of a bum about Christmas gifts this year. Money is insanely tight, so I’m only buying anything for immediate family. The only exception to this rule is the Secret Santa I’m doing online with some bird lady friends. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but she’s getting a Birdlump! She has one bird, a crimson-bellied conure, and I’m making a push toy of him for her.

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As you can clearly see, crimson-bellied conures are very colorful little guys! This means that this plush is the most complex I’ve made to date, with lots of little patches of bright color all over his body. I’ve made some decent progress on the plush so far, but I’m debating whether or not to embroider on some of the details on or not.

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It’s coming along nicely and I hope that, when it’s done, it will find a new happy home with its inspiration and the woman who will own them both.

I Need More Hours In The Day

In addition to all of the side gigs that I do to try and cobble together enough money for rent and bills and such, I really still need to be writing for me. At the moment, I’m barely touching any of my personal projects. Book 2 of my series is stalled and has been for a while and one short story is sort of living in draft 4 editing limbo. I just feel so drained by the divorce, my health, my mother’s being incredibly ill, and having to get ready to move by myself.

I need more hours in the day.

I’d like to think that I would use them to write or be productive, but, let’s be honest here, I’d probably just use them to sleep.

One Box Lighter

I sold some old books today and it was, honestly, really difficult! My instincts when it comes to books is to collect them, not pare them down. Still, I need to cut stuff out of my life (clothing, costumes, and fabric are going, too) and books are some pretty heavy stuff! I’m probably only going to have one small book shelf in my place and it’s going to have a good chunk of DVDs on it (wow, I own a lot of DVDs – way more than I’d thought).

dvd-recycling

If I had my way, I’d probably have enough books in my possession to build a fort out of them and live in it. Unfortunately, I’ve got to live light for a while so that I can plausibly make a cross-country move in a year. Less is very much more in this case.

Anyway, I gathered up a big, sturdy, office box full of books I’d already read or would probe;y never get around to reading and took them to a second-hand bookseller near me. They picked about half of what I brought and I made a whopping $6.50 off of those titles. The rest I donated to a Friends of the Library used book store.

It’s not much, but when pain knocks me on my ass for days in a row, one box can be a pretty big deal. I’m proud of myself. I have a lot more work ahead of me, but I know I can handle it. It may not be easy, but I’ll make it work.

The Pressing Question

Moving house leaves you asking a lot of questions. Do I move everything myself or hire some guys with a truck? Will something break during the move? How much is this all going to cost? And, most notably for me, How did I end up with so much stuff?

moving-truck

I know I’m guilty of book-buying; there’s no denying that. I seem to have more DVDs and video games than I remembered; that’s fine. I’m a crafter/seamstress, so I’ve got a backlog of just in case supplies; this is a problem. I’m a costumer and I have a ton of old costumes that don’t fit me anymore and aren’t trendy now, so I can’t sell them; those, I just have to cry a little over and throw out.

But all of this clothing and shoes and toiletries and tchotchkes! I feel like such a capitalistic chump! I don’t need all of this. I don’t even need much of this. So I’m working hard (though the pain and exhaustion because thanks a lot, broken body) for the next few weeks to really seriously just throw junk away.

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I’ve said it in previous moves (and done it to a degree), but I really need to get rid of more stuff**. And this time I literally have no other choice because I’m moving into a small 1 bedroom apartment with no space to spare for junk. I kind of look forward to downsizing, honestly. I need to stop relying on things to make me happy.

**Of course, things with some degree of value will be donated, not just thrown away.