Mindful Life: Money

Where do we spend our money the most? How much waste do we make? Why? Why? Why? For the most part, all the questions ended up with, why? Why do we eat out three or four times a week? Why do we end up throwing out most of our vegetables and fruits? Why does it feel like we have no money left over?

Mark and I made lists. And lists. Some more lists, and why not, another list. These lists that we made became important. We look back at them now wondering what was wrong with us. Damn, there goes all our money…

List one: Our debts, interest rates, bills, and other payments.
List two: How much we both made and how we made it.
List three: Where we spent our food money.
List four: Where we spent our other money.

List one was as we expected. We owed a lot of money all over the place. Both Mark and I went to school, bought vehicles, have visas, both own a cell phone, rent our home, and have other little debts. Individually we both spent around $2,000 on debt and bills a month. This is one of those unmindful parts of our journey. We knew that it was a lot, but didn’t know how much.
To solve this problem we have made a mindful plan to be 80% to 100% debt-free by next fall. (More on how we’re doing that later.)

List two is extremely hard to predict. Mark’s job is weather dependent. Bad weather equals low pay cheque. My job is fairly constant as long as I don’t get sick. Putting all this together was easier this time around. When I was a nanny I had eight clients and writing where all the money came from was harder to do.

List three had our jaws on the floor. To save money we are currently running off of one vehicle. Mark has to go to the Tim Houston’s beside my work to pick up his coworker so it couldn’t be more perfect. One gas bill, I have time to work on my writing in the mornings and afternoons, and we save money on insurance. Win!
The downfall to this is our food spending. When I get dropped off at Starbucks, a few steps away from the Timmies, they also give free refills to gold members. I pay for my coffee, using my travel mug to get a small discount. I then work on my writing before I walk to work. Sometimes I order a bagel. This is still cheaper and more time efficient than making a pot of coffee at home due to how many refills I get. That’s a plus. At the end of the day, Mark sometimes doesn’t get into town until 7 or 7:30. By the time we get home, and cook and eat dinner it’s 9ish…and then there’s the cleanup. We get no unwind time…so we eat A&W. Healthier than Mc Donald’s, but still fast food…
In a month we eat out at a fast food place about ten times, give or take a few days. We get so tired, not to mention hungry, by the end of our work day that we want food, now! We do mix it up and go to other places to eat. In the end, we end up throwing out food that has gone bad in our fridge. That part always hurts. We intended to eat healthily. All those vegetables and fruits that had gone to waste. We might as well threw away our pay cheques…

List four happened to be a sad little list of one thing this month. We went to Blackberry Fest. A block party that the whole town goes too! It was a blast. I got a $40 blackberry tattoo that I adore. Mark drank more than he thought he could. (I was the designated driver.) We spent less than we put aside for the party which was a surprise. Mark and I hadn’t gone out in months. It was fun to see what the whole town was talking about. Everyone said we had to attend Blackberry Fest, and now we know why. It was super fun.

In list one I had mentioned that we wanted to be 80% to 100% debt-free. It seemed highly unlikely that we would be able to accomplish this in a year. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, watched that show Till Debt Do Us Part, money management Ted Talks and whatever else I could get my hands on for free. I also talked about our debt and bill payments. These were the key to how we plan to get a grip on the hand around our wallets. We listed all the payments and interest rate, this included what we owed family. At the top of the list was the highest interest rate down to the lowest at the bottom. If they had the same interest rate we put the lesser amount owed at the top.
There we had a neatly organized disaster we had created ourselves. I know I could have bought a used car instead of a new one. We didn’t have to have five credit cards. But there they are.
Here’s the game we play. It’s like stacking dominoes in a neat little line. Push one over and they all fall over.

Ready…
Dept one: Visa. Owe: $673.00. Interest: 18%. Payment: $100 (I always round up to the nearest $50.) PAID OFF.
Dept two: Visa. Owe: $1,300. Interest: 18% Payment: 150.00. Added payment: $100.00. (And there’s the first domino hitting the second.) The payment bounces to $250.00! It will take about 6 months to pay off that debt.
That $250 will be added on to the next debt payment, and so on and so forth. The bills I pay now won’t go up or down until all is paid. At the time I will still be making all rounded up regular payments to my debt so it doesn’t go to collections. It’s a fun fast game that will get my debt caught up and gone.

I want to bring some light onto list three. Even though we are running off of one vehicle and eating out we’re still saving money. The cost of double gas and insurance out weighs our eating out habit. The horror is in the food at home that we throw away. Mark and I talked about how we can make this into a better plan. We know there are going to be days we eat out. It’s going to happen. We tried the zero eating out thing and came up short on money elsewhere because we did eat out.
Our meal planning needed to change. Instead of planning for seven meals a week. We plan for four or five. We try to get frozen whenever we can that way things don’t go bad as fast. And I cut up most of the fruit and freeze it. This way we can still enjoy it fresh with minimal waste. The frozen fruit is great for smoothies, breakfast toppings, and dessert.
(There will be a post on our house waste and the environment in the future.)

These are simple changes that Mark and I have brought forward to get our handle on money. As much as I hate to admit it, money has a strong hold over the world. We’re just making sure it’s grip doesn’t kill us. It was time for us to make mindful decisions on our money to bring less stress to ourselves. We made them so they fit into our lifestyle, and so can you.

All money above is in Canadian dollars.

YouTube Video: Our Journey to Family: Save the Money

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Mindful Life

Ever look at your garbage bins and wonder if you could make less? How about that look you give yourself in the mirror wondering how you can help your body become healthier? Then there’s that empty wallet that you wished would fill its self.

Mark and I have wondered these questions and more. From everyday stress to the everyday impact on the environment. We didn’t know it then, but this was only the beginning of our mindful journey. Those thoughts turned into conversations, then into actions.

Our journey began years ago before we even knew what we were doing. We traded in the plastic disposable water bottles in for a reusable one. For us, it was a way to save money. That choice was more than a money saving choice. It was less plastic water bottles being made and disposed of. Another money saver was us using a reusable tea/coffee cup that had the same effect. Mark and I had no idea what was going to happen in the future as these choices began to snowball.

The decision to become debt-free made us think more about what we used, how we used things, and what we could reuse. Last year Mark and I lived in different towns. I lived on Vancouver Island and he lived across the ocean on the Sunshine Coast. We lived like this for a year while he tested out his job, and then last spring I moved to him on the Sunshine Coast. With the move came a new job. It cost us a lot of money in travelling between the island and mainland. So, I bit the bullet and made the move. We wanted to cut expenses where ever we could.
When I lived on the island I worked with individual families as a nanny. At my clients home, I found this amazing book for preschool to grade two children called MindUp Curriculum. (They have three books that span all the way up to grade 8.)  I read once and loved it. I told my new boss about the book. She loved the idea of it and put it in her next Amazon order. I didn’t want to start the Curriculum until September, but the children had questions about the brain. With their interest peeked I snuck in the first lesson of MindUp, which teaches children about their brain and what it means to be mindful and unmindful. This is when I realized what Mark and I had started doing without noticing it.

Mindful- conscious or aware of something.
We discussed better options when it came to our money.

Unmindful- not conscious or aware of something.
We had no idea that we were creating less garbage, being healthy to our bodies, and affecting the world around us. Even if it was in a positive way.

I brought this up to him in a conversation as we sat outside one summer night. “Did you know that we’re doing this?” Mark then began to state, that we’re finally getting a handle on our finances. And, saving the planet. We both had huge grins on our face. We love the beauty our world has to offer. That’s why we live in a place surrounded by trees, lakes, and ocean. We wouldn’t, couldn’t, have it any other way.

A few weeks later I finally got time to go to the library here in town. I was blown away by how stunning it was inside. It was freshly built and still has that slight smell of fresh paint…and coffee! They had put in a cafe in! It’s a non-profit organization that gives the proceeds back to the town. I ended up talking with the barista about how Mark and I wanted to limit our impact on the planet as best we could. That we wanted to live a mindful life. We were already using reusable cups, eating at home whenever we could, but we still created too much garbage. In Victoria, there was a compost program that picked up table scraps at our door. The woman then told me that there’s a program here in town. I was thrilled.
(I will do another post about our mindful garbage goal.)
Mark and I had another discussion like we do every night. We’ve adopted the compost program into our home.

Mindful Life

  1. It’s easy changes that save you money!
  2. The life style makes you healthier. Not just body wise, but mind, body, and soul!
  3. Simple changes go a long way.
  4. Takes only a few minutes out of your day.
  5. Get’s you thinking in the way of working smarter not harder.

I will be writing a Mindful Life series about the changes that Mark and I have been doing to become healthier human beings. Healthier to ourselves and the environment that we love.

A New Life. A New Place to Read.

Every day, and every night, I pull the blinds closed so no one can see into the house and watch me. I have this people paranoia. It might stem from the genre I chose to write or all the horror movies that I love to watch. When I have the windows blocked up I feel safe, cosy, and unbothered. No one can know what I have if the curtains are pulled tight enough that even the sun has a hard time peering in.

And then we moved.

We found this beautiful coastal home where we have an ocean view out the front and a forest in the back. Holy shit, I feel as if I am in heaven. I feel like Anna from FroZen when I throw open the curtains for the first time. I want to be able to look up from my breakfast to see the sail boats going by and hopefully a pod of Orcas. It’s a strange feeling I’m getting as people walk by, our eyes meet and we smile at one another. For the first time in my life, I feel okay with people looking in to see my weird art on the walls. Our mass amounts of books. It’s okay.

the year-long journeyOur library found the perfect room to grow. We’re able to put our TV room hidden away in the house. It’s nice to have the main area not aimed at this ugly black box. It’s beautiful to have people walk into our home and comment on the books. Mark and I even have room for new shelves…which may or may not be a good thing, only time can tell us that one. We also need to get an armchair for our reading spot. I can’t wait to set up a comfy chair facing the water.

It feels fantastic to have the windows open so Mark and I, plus all three of the cats, can see out. I’ve decided to toss my paranoia to the side for the daytime. At night though, they must be closed. I do, from time to time, peek out to see if the cruise ships are going by.

I like our new tiny coastal town. It’s might be hard to reach across the water to touch civilisation to get our box store wants. I like the simple life that this town has to offer me. It makes me realise how much I took for granted, and how little I truly need to be happy.

C.B. Dixon

If you’re interested in checking out my novel: Wicked Soul Ascension

Lost in the Sea of Written Souls

If someone came up to me and told me that writing the book was going to be the easiest part of writing a book I would have gave them a grin of disbelief.

A book is a piece of the soul the author has given out to the world to cast judgment. Whether you like the book or not; be kind. It’s hard work pumping out thousands upon thousands of words. If you enjoyed the story, or not, I beg you to leave a review somewhere. Let others readers know why you did or didn’t like it. Any review is better than no review at all.

My first novel Wicked Soul Ascension made its way into the light November 2016. It hit it’s high in the first few months. For a first time author, I thought the feedback was overwhelming. I got all these phone calls about my story. The rollercoaster that the book took them on left them begging me for more. I kindly asked them if they loved the story, please leave a review. Any review is better than none at all. Leave it where ever you like, just please leave one. I remembered from earlier research about marketing Wicked Soul Ascension to ask for them. They said once the readers read a book, a review is the last thing on the mind. Out of the 250 books that are out there the most reviews I have in one spot is two…that’s not enough to get a new reader into a new author.

Why a review is important from the reader to a reader?

If I were to buy a book; 99 cents? $3.99? $20.00? I would like to know if the author can write. Times are tough for the average person. We’ve come to notice every cent that leaves our pocket to make sure that it is spent wisely. If I don’t know the author, how do I know if the story is worth my money? A review lets me know that my money is worth giving to this author. The same thing goes for anyone that is selling indie merchandise. If you buy music, you’d like to make sure the songs are worth the money?

This is where the dead months begin. I have now begun to think out of the box in hopes that maybe I’d land a sale. If the right person finds my story, who knows what would happen to it. I know that my blogs are my raw writing. I don’t care for my own…all natural writing. I edit it a bit, but not in with the intensity my novels get. This is me in black and white. This may be dangerous to do as it might harm people’s view of my work, but I’m going out on the broken limb.

The Sea of Souls has Many Covers.

There are countless amounts of books in the world that have been published, unpublished, hidden, written and burned, and who knows what has happened to all of these stories. These tiny pieces of souls that have been scattered around the world…and mine is in there. Lost with a tiny title with a unique cover to help if stick out from the crowd. One day it may make its mark. Or, maybe it won’t. I know that it’s little family will grow around it with others members written by C. B. Dixon.

I’ve dipped my toe into the chilly waters of the published world. Even though the plunge is discouraging. I know that I will swallow the twitch to run the other way. I will jump in, eyes open, to observe every moment that will pass me by.

This is My Choice. This is My Life. I Will Enjoy Every Breath. Every Heart Beat. 

Right now for a limited time Wicked Soul Ascension is available for free on Wattpad. Here’s the link: Wicked Soul Ascension on Wattpad

 

Regular?

I always thought I would become a regular somewhere. I do go to coffee shops quite often. Ever since Mark and I moved town we’ve have been trying to be more frugal with our money. We eat breakfast and dinner at home, and we’re running one vehicle.

I get dropped off at Starbucks every morning to work on my writing, and then walk to work from there. In the past two weeks, I have become a regular. The people I see every morning great me with a wave, smile, and sometimes a joke. The baristas ask me if I would like my usual, a regular tall in a grande cup…lots of room for milk. With coffee in hand; I write.

Problems with everyone getting used to you… 

There is a problem with being a regular when you want to work in a coffee shop. People like to talk to you. I’m a bubbly person and love a good laugh…I also get swept away in conversation. Today, I talked with another regular about…I don’t remember how it started, but the conversation led to Christmas, and how people with certain faiths don’t celebrate Halloween. I told him, “I don’t get it. I much rather Halloween; you dress up and share candy with the village. People don’t go bankrupt buying candy, are far less stressed out, and happy. People at Christmas time are overstressed, dig into money that they spend all year to pay back, and are miserable. All for one day. Halloween doesn’t start three months before the one day. Christmas is madness. Halloween is simple, sweet, and fun.” -Random Wednesday morning conversation.

When you want to get work done before 8 it can be challenging with all this attention. I usually cut the conversation somewhere after ten minutes. I may have lost that writing time, but it’s nice to start the day with a smile.

Today’s writing mood, morning style: It’s a great day to be an author. I got this.

Novel: Wicked Soul Ascension

Hiccup…was I Drunk?

I don’t remember an alcohol beverage in the last half of my manuscript…sure feels like I was totally wasted.

Normally I have a single drink when I consume alcohol. I know what being drunk feels like, like come on, we were all young once. There was something that happened in the middle of my newest story that made me feel that all my marbles rolled right out of my head and all over the floor. I know that I can’t even blame being drunk.

I love this hobby that I’ve chosen to dig deeper into. It’s a passion that burns within me. This incident made me reconsider my life choices.

I’ve Become to Much of a Dreamer.

Here’s the deal. I had written 80,000 words in my new story. I breathed life into the characters. The setting couldn’t have been more magical, and the plot twists left this yearning. The fourth draft gem was almost ready for a polish. As I read the words I noticed this tiny problem that seemed to rip until all the words dripped from the pages with my tears.

I Dreamt Up the Best Part…

I remember pounding in the words to this part. It was an almost all nighter. The piece was so juicy that I ignored my own blatter to write…and there in the pages of the story I bled. The characters connected better than I thought they would. Their unlikely team blended together better than cake and icing. The creation of such a piece made me write day after day off of that part.

Until, last Thursday. I needed a small bite of information that was in the story. A bite that didn’t exist…it wasn’t there. The piece that I had fallen in love with had vanished. No, it wasn’t lost from not saving. The chapters never had a skip. The more I thought about the writing experience, and where I was at the time that I wrote it. The whole thing didn’t make sense. My desk was in the wrong spot, there wasn’t anything on the walls, and my cat never interrupted me. All things that brought me to the conclusion…I dreamt up the perfect part.

Here’s Why I Didn’t Catch It.

I don’t read back into my script until I have finished writing it. I spend to much time messing up my story if I do. I only go back to find the small things, if it’s important. I didn’t do this with my first book and spent too much time editing when I should have been writing. I’m glad that I did go back this time, or I would have finished the story with a gaping hole. It wasn’t even something I could add in…I couldn’t remember it. I could only remember the feeling it gave me.

And that will end this entry to the journal of being a writer…Today’s mood towards it:

Today’s mood towards being a writer: …no comment.

Book Promo: Wicked Soul Ascension