My whole life I have lived under the premise that to get anywhere in life you must work hard. To find happiness you have to work for it. To find love you must really work for it. As of May this year, I have torn off my garments and run free. No I am not running around the city nude, but I have bared my soul and taken to stripping down life to the bare minimum.
As of May, I quit my job of nine years to bike across the continent and came back to just be present. I found a place to rent for minimal funds. I found a job that is overtly flexible, fun and non-stressful. I have basically found that you do not have to work at anything. What you need to do is understand how much work you want to put forth and how many experiences you want to have. You then have to figure out ways to balance the two.
I heard about this book a month or so ago. I looked it up and then went on a search to find it. I tried second-hand stores, I tried indy book stores, but alas I had to set up an Amazon account just to get my hands on this book. ”How to be Free”, by Tom Hodgkinson, is likely the greatest $8 book I will ever own. I am only a chapter in and find it to brilliant, yet easy to read. It helps that I have similar life views, so I get what is being said.
So if you are tired of the rat race and the constant traffic issues, and you want to have a better life, learn to take control by letting go. It is so simple. I wish I could convey the message and eloquently as he does, but alas, I am not a writer. I have a hard enough time staying in the same tense throughout a paragraph, let alone the same voice.
First off, I read that this book was based out of French Existentialism. I was curious as to what that actually was, so I looked up some authors and ended up with a speech and an essay by Jean-Paul Sartre. Considering it is translated from French to English and that I am not a philosopher, this small volume is a very tough read. I also have this socialistic/anarchist book called Work. It is easier to create change if you realize how we got where we are. I am still a hater of economics, but I need to understand them to move forward and find a new way.
I also understand that for most drastic changes are impossible, basically due to their inability to let go. If you are not able to see life outside of your technology, you will never understand the way I want to live my life. I want to be free. I want to be happy and I most certainly want to live life rather than own it. You cannot live if you are wound up about things you own. I know this, because I was there. For the first time in my life, my mother, yes my mother, spoke up for me about this. When I was married, my husband had to have everything right now. We were so far in debt, but it was always my fault, because I went to school. I always let him make me feel guilty about it. My mother informed me that it was all him, it was always him. For the first time in my life, my mother validated me, which is a huge step for us.
What happens when you start acquiring stuff, is that you lose site of important things like relationships and doing stuff. I realized this week that in the last month I have spent more time camped in front of the TV than I have in the past 10 years combined. Sad thing is that I lost most of that month and did not even realize it. I have not had cable and so much free time before, I guess I lost myself in it. This was the first political season that I actually saw campaign ads, and I was horrified by them.
So going back to the book, if you let go of those things in the modern world and return to have real relationships with real people and experience life for real, you too can be free. I am not saying throw out your TV and phone, but more about turning them off and going out for a bit daily. Find a piano bar and drink fine wine and good ales, eat real food, sing songs with real people and learn to be happy. I have found peace with my past, now I must find peace with my present, so I can face my future with peace. Letting go allows a whole ton of amazing to happen.
This is going to be a short quick rant, just to get it off my chest. I had this friend, she was a dear friend, then one day she just snapped. She sent a weird e-mail about raising my daughter. I replied with what I thought was a concise and genuine answer to her concern. She then bashed me back with another e-mail about how I was wrong and she just did not understand. I reread the e-mails and had a couple of others read them. I beat myself up over it. I had no idea what I was doing that was so vile.
Later she was at a bar and I came in with my partner and my two best friends. I invited her to join us, she was sitting alone and seemed sad. She proceeded to tell me to “go fuck yourself” repeatedly for over 20 minutes. My partner heard some of it, but my friends did not. I finally went to get another drink and never came back. I went to another bar and texted my friends that I had left. This incident continued to eat at me. Another friend had told me that she was spiraling downward into despair and depression and alcoholism. To the point that she was no longer going to many bars due to no one serving her. I felt very bad and partially responsible. I decided to keep her in my friends list and when she was ready I would be there to be her friend. I had a good friend disown me when I was a trainwreck, I never wanted anyone else to feel that loss with no idea why or what happened.
Six months later she seemed normal again and started hanging out. The year went on and all seemed tolerable. It was never normal. She seems to have black outs and e-mails or texts the weirdest disconnected shit on the planet. Nine months after my collision she went back east to visit family for the holidays. She asked me to take care of her cat for three weeks. This turned into three months and I finally had to tell her the cat had to go. It was causing my old dog stress and tearing up the new carpet in my apartment. While she was gone she asked me to help move her out of her apartment. It was a huge task for someone that could not move well. I managed to get as much done as I could and then turned the keys over to the manager.
I have hung out with her and her partner a few times, they always invite me over for happy hour. I don’t hang out much, at first due to my living situation and getting over huge hills on a bike. As of late it has been that she has directed her rage and anger at me like a missle. It is hard to remain friends with people that accuse you of being heartless and rude to them. I had my stuff at her partners place in the basement. I got all but 4 boxes of books and she told me not to come get the rest but that they would deliver them. I was concerned on letting anyone but my partner know exactly where I live. I do not want to cause my housemates any drama.
And this has built up to the biggest drama in the World. She was derogatory to me on Facebook last month and I finally had enough. I got the last of my stuff and deleted her off of Facebook. She is still finding things I comment on and insulting me. I am hurt and I am tired of the negative vibes. I even stayed sober on Thanksgiving just to avoid a conflict with her. Actually, I had a bad hangover, but still decided to not start anything.
I realized that the entire problem is my life is not a trainwreck. Maybe this was why my friend that ditched me left. Maybe when someone’s life is spiralling so far into the abyss you have to let go. I am hurt. I will not deny it, no matter what kind of bullying you deal with, it always hurts. You always second guess your actions and words. It is exhausting and stressful. Dealing with someone in a fragile mental state is one things, but dealing with someone bent of revenge for some unknown action you have done is downright, I do not even have the word for it.
I do not wish her any illwill. That would make me as nasty a person as her. I wish her the best, but I am not going to sit back and allow the abuse to continue. I am not a vindictive person. I am finding my own light and starting to allow it to shine. If it burns you, maybe you need to find out why your light is not shining, instead of trying to estinguish mine. I will focus on my life and try not to be narcissistic about it. I will also try not to belittle anything anyone else has done, but please remember, up until two years ago I felt trapped and had frustrations in my own life choices. I have taken steps to find peace with my life. I am at peace with my choices. I will not allow your bitterness to deminish my joy. You need help. I have no idea how to tell you without just outright saying it. So my dear, you are abusive a drunk and unpleasant for most to be around most of the time. Your life and job situations are the fault of no one else but yourself, to think that anyone else is responsible for your problems, is well pathetic at best, at worst empowering someone over your life. It took me years to stop blaming God, my ex, and whatever else I could on my situtations. I took responsiblity for my life and my futures and my happiness, and as I am now finding out, the puzzle pieces are falling into place.
So I am sorry if I did the one thing I swore I would never do, abandon a friend in need, but you are beyond my ability to remain friends with you. I really do wish you the best. I hope you find your happiness, your dreams and whatever you are so desperately projecting onto me. As for now, I wish to have no further contact from you. I will miss the good times, but not the abuse. So goodbye to the most painful friendship I have ever had. And I do know that you will continue to make snide comments at me on Facebook on mutual friends posts, but I am bigger than that and I wish to no longer engage you.
This weekend was pretty spectacular. Well most of my days are, I guess because I have dreams that are coming true. Friday night Richard came over and I gave him some leftovers from catering and we had more wine then we should have. We spent the night watching TV and snuggling. Saturday was the highlight of the weekend. I got up and made coffee and breakfast. Well more like lunch. I had leftover chicken that I chopped up and made into chicken salad for Richard. I also made this awesome chicken pot pie for Richard and my friend Colleen. I made a mushroom pot pie for myself. We ate dinner and got ready to go. We had tickets to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the theater. So much fun! The movie was fun, but the live show is crazy good. After the show we stopped at DragonFish restaurant and had some light snacks and dessert. I had a Singapore Sling for the first time. OH my is all I have to say about that. Luckily I had a hangover all day and could only handle one, $11 a drink could have gotten steep.
I got up today and made breakfast, hippie hash and coffee. ( This recipe is not the one I used. I took leftovers from last night and what I had on hand and added some left over enchilada sauce to create a mish mash of flavors.) I decided that I had to get the dishes done since I was lazy Saturday night. I also decided to clean the kitchen and fridge up. I realized I could make my own yogurt dip for raw veggies and chop up the veggies for the week. I realized that I had cranberries that needed to be used up as well. I decided to cook those down and later found a pear and some apples that needed to be used as well. I ended up with cranberry applesauce. No added sugar, because frankly with that flavor profile why would you need to add anything to it?
I planned out my left overs and froze stuff that needed to be frozen to save it. It was a great project for a blustery wet day. I eventually ended up doing laundry and watching some TV. I feel like this next week will go smoothly now. I picked up shifts all week so now I have 6 shifts, and I have two on Tuesday and Thursday. This means that I have two days of doubling back. Ughhhh, hopefully the break between is enough to rest my legs up.
Last night a question came up that I felt like many people ask themselves but never quite find the answer to. When you see other people who are obviously “Wealthy” how do you overcome those jealous feelings of “that should be me”? I really do not have those feelings so often. What I realized was that this feeling is externalizing an internal battle. I too have had to purge myself of these feelings. However, mine are reserved only for my sister. In our younger years I was married and owned a home. I had the newer vehicles and the fairy tale life. I eventually got awarded custody of her first son and had her second one for a couple of years while she went to prison.
After my divorce and my coming to terms with the fairy tale not being my true happiness, I found liberation eventually. My liberation was from stuff. Once I let go of ownership and embraced relationships and experience, I found my happiness. Yet when my sister got the high paying job that I had applied for with the correct education and certification, my resentment stepped up 10 fold. I have always resented my sister, something that I believe is cemented in my mother’s denial of the things she has done. I used to look down upon her, and I believe it was in hopes that one day my mother would recognize her failures, but it never happened.
A few years ago my sister got married, bought a home, a new Mustang and Jeep and a boat. When I have seen her, my jealousy jumps in. It took me meditating on why I was so jealous to come up with the answer. My sister now has the fairy tale life that I once had, yet I gave it up and found happiness. So why would I be jealous of her at this point? It is not about her or her possessions. It is not about my loss or me actually. It is about my resentment of her. Seeing her succeed, makes my resentment and my superiority invalid. I knew it was not about her having things, I once had those and gave them all up. I made choices in my life to live outside of things.
I have aligned my life to match my values. I have let go of things and put value on relationships and experiences. I have never been happier, until I see my sister. I have very limited contact with her and my mother. I always felt that those relationships were not uplifting for me. Maybe it is because my life choices make no sense to them and they remind me of the things I walked away from. Maybe it is because they have a solid relationship and I never will with either of them. Maybe it is because someone once told me when I was 12 that my sister was prettier than me. I do not know why, but I do feel a great sense of jealousy and resentment when my sister or mother are around. I recognize it for what it is, and I take a deep breath and remind myself of the path I have chosen. I remind myself of my personal dreams and how their lifestyles are not part of my dream. I have to remind myself that I am nearly debt free and the stress of all that ownership is behind me.
I am able to curb my feelings and regain my happiness. I am never jealous of any other person, so I believe that this kind of unfocused resentment goes deeper than the surface. I have found my peace, but it has taken years, years of tears and frustration. It is not easy to overcome, but it helps to understand yourself. I know that my issues are based on my poor relationship with my mother. Once that was apparent to me, my happiness was so much easier to achieve.
I just realized that a local food co-op is less than 2 miles from where I live now. I also found out that my co-op membership is accepted there. Yesterday I fixed my bike and took it over there and picked up a few items for dinner. I found figs at a great price and could not pass them up. I also found cranberries, which again, I could not pass up. I packed up my bags and biked back.
I decided to roast the figs, unfortunately I did not have the ingredients for the best recipe I found. I had to put that off for a day. I did however, make the most amazing BLT sandwiches with a lovely sprouted tofu that had been baked and then sautéed to crisp up. Heirloom tomatoes and spring greens on a flax-seed bread makes a wonderful party in your mouth.
Today I had several errands to run. I biked up to Capital Hill to pick up my mail and talk to my bank about setting up a transfer of retirements funds. After I finished up I had a lovely lunch at The Wedgewood. It is a quaint little vegan Thai place. After that I biked up to my co-op. I needed goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. On Friday my partner requested Wiener Snitzle for dinner. I have never made this before, but I am adventurous, although I will not be tasting it.
I found a nice thin piece of pork for the snitzle. I also found spatzel and picked up some fresh eggs and veggies. As I was biking back I realized that my brakes were not functional. I ended up taking the light rail and making an appointment to have my disc brakes looked at, maybe the pads changed.
When I got back, I immediately prepared to roast the figs. These ended up amazing and I served them up on some homemade bread that made it even more amazing. After that I cooked up some wild rice with vegetables. I took chantrels, green beans, kale and shallot sautéed over low heat with mustard powder, cayenne pepper, and some red pepper flakes. I roasted up a handful of the cranberries in the balsamic mix left over in the pan that the figs were in. I took all the juice and poured it into the rice and veggie mix. It was the most amazing flavor combination. I am very pleased with the outcome of that combination and cannot wait to make it agian!
I worked in a lab for nine years. I thought that by going to school I would make more money. I thought a lot of things. I thought that working in a lab was making a difference. I thought that I made great money. I was so wrong. If we actually raise the minimum wage up to $15 an hour as proposed, I would have been paid less than minimum. My daughter has been working for a cafe for about 12 months now. She just got a promotion to shift manager and she is making nearly as much as I was after 9 years of giving my heart and soul to a company that obviously did not care about me.
I am now back in food service and the wages are higher and you add tips to that. Looking back I realize that I never hated food service, I hated the feeling trapped situation. I hated the customers that looked down at me. I hated the fact that my husband thought that it was my only option.
As I start working in food service again, I realized that not only do I like it, I like the freedom it gives. I can work whenever I want and I have the ability to live my life freely. I have that for the first time ever. I no longer have a partner who denies my ideas or desires. I no longer have the responsibility of children and pets. I also have no real belongings that trap me into debt. My basic costs are daily living expenses and a couple of medical bills. To me this is so liberating. I no longer have to achieve a minimum amount of money to survive. My rent is low, my bills are low and my life is free. Actually it seems very free and very liberating.
Taking the bike ride across the continent this summer opened up my life to a different way of living. A way that I desire to perpetuate. I want to live life without the stress of debt or bills. I want to live my life with the freedom to work as needed and work where I want to work.
I realized a couple of weeks ago, that I almost need to stress about life to the point of despondency and then pull myself up. Once I nearly give up, I take a moment to gather my bearings and I realize that stress is caused by our drive to be what others want us to be. When we cannot hold ourselves up to societal standards, it creates an impasse for us. For me, even though my ideology is quite different from society’s, I still find myself comparing and feeling like I do not measure up.
When I was married, I had a house, two nice cars and everything on the outside to align with societal happiness. My sister was arrested twice for Meth cooking and she lived in squalor. She had two illegit children and was always struggling. The first child I ended up raising, the second I had for a couple of years until his dad got out of prison. My sister now has that child, she has a house, several cars and a boat. When I do talk to my sister, I hear about all the great things she has and does. It enrages me a little bit. I still have this twinge of envy. I should be the one to have all those things. I should be the one with the great trips to places all over. I should be the one……..
The reality is that I am not envious of anyone, but I am not immune to the idea of a lifestyle I once had. It probably does not help that my ex-husband held a certain air of superiority to my sister. It affected me. I also, to this day look at my sister with a sense of something I cannot define. What I do have now is a sense of superiority, but not over my sister, over things. I realize that ownership is a form of slavery. I realize that obsessing over owning things puts all of us at a disadvantage. Humanity used to roam the Earth and build temporary shelters and follow the seasons. We had the freedom of movement and that freedom was only available due to the fact that we did not own much. We could pack our stuff on our backs and move forward.
I am not quite to that point, but I do have very minimal belongings. As I look back on my life, I feel badly that I looked down upon my sister. Other than the drug problem she had so much more freedom than me. I think maybe, my biggest regret is not understanding this years ago.
So I really did not think it would impact me, but today I found out that it will and does. Yes the Government shutdown has impacted my life. Not as profoundly as others, but it has. I have been very busy trying to figure out my living situation and job situation to pay attention to much around me. Today I shot myself in the foot.
So, I have this stuff that needs to be uploaded onto my Peace Corps application, I am so close to finishing. Oh what is that on my screen? It says I cannot access the page because of the government shutdown, no seriously it is just a webpage, why does the government shutdown have anything to do with a webpage?
I have no idea, but what it really means is that my plan is falling apart. Oh I will eventually get there, but not on the timeline I have plotted out. This is getting to be a serious problem. I have a date, everything I have been doing is based on that departure date. I know some people thought I was crazy to hold onto that, but it is sort of my thing. I plan things based on information I am given.
I do have a backup plan. I always do. I have a plan that will get me out of the conundrum of daily life and put me in the path of adventure. I will have to wait and see if I need to implement that soon. That trip to Europe may come sooner than expected if things do not break free soon. Oh what trip to Europe you ask? Oh the trip that I never return from. The one that lands me in a place that makes more sense to me. The one where I can live life the way it makes sense.
As a person so focused on sustainability, I have looked into places that make that lifestyle more reasonable. Places where orchards grow on the side of roads and bicycles are the main daily transportation choices. A place where farmer’s markets are just referred to as markets and GMO’s are mostly banned. A place where neighbors are neighborly and community is built around people and not technology. A place that sounds pretty foreign in our everyday life.
The Dial House created by the Punk band Crass is a great display of how to function outside of the reality of government. We create our own little safety nets based upon our current reality. When that reality is ripped away, we look at our safety nets and realize that they are not going to catch us. So we fall. Not only do we fall financially, but emotionally and physically. The frustration of not being in control is so powerful and so depressing. I actually fear about the mental stability of seemingly normal people spiraling into the darkness of despair over this loss of control.
I do not have an answer, but I do know we are not asking the right questions. We are allowing our wants to outweigh the needs of the many. We need change, but not in the form that it is taking. We need new leadership and we need new ways of doing things, but not at the cost of the majority of society. So I guess we should begin with trying to find the correct question to ask.