Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I am thinking about moving to a new house. My landlord has another house that I can rent at the same rent as I currently pay so that she can rent my current house at a much higher rent than I am currently paying, which is good for her and would be great for me because the other house is on a bayou. Yes, at the end of my future long sloping yard is an arm of "Little Vince Bayou". This is exciting to me because of the wildlife that will be coming by, of course there are fish in the water but also there are nutrias (see image at the top left), which look like very large muskrats (they can weigh as much as 20 pounds) and have deep orange front incisor teeth. They build their burrows on the banks of rivers and are generally interesting to watch.
Also there are turtles, great blue herons, snowy egrets, some roseate spoon bills, and some other water fowl that I am unfamiliar with.

The most exciting thing to me is that in theory I could have some ducks. I would love to get a few of these babies (see image left) they are called Runner Ducks and they are just as cute as a bug's ear. The neighborhood has a flock of exotic waterfowl that the neighborhood feeds and maintains and that wander the bayou. I think that Runner Ducks would make a great contribution to the flock. I am a little worried about alligators eating them but the other waterfowl seem alright so perhaps it isn't much of a problem.

I don't know if everything will work out with the new house, my landlord will let me know in January if it is available. Until then I am going to be doing research on ducks to see if it is feasible.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude for frugality

I am feeling so grateful for the people in my life who have taught me and modeled for me frugality. When I was growing up we were rather poor and we were way ahead of the trendy recycle curve, I have been making do, reusing and recycling my whole life.

When I was a kid my grandma (who raised me) was not what one would call domestic and I eschewed all things I perceived as “woman’s work”, so learn cooking and meal planning at my grandma’ s frugal knee, I did not. My grandma’s version of home-made food was to recombine processed products into a new thing. Her best dish was to take minute steaks roll them around Stove Top stuffing and stick a tooth pick through them then cover the whole thing with cream of mushroom soup and bake. Quite tasty, but not exactly from scratch nor without sodium count to give a blue whale hypertension. She had a lot going on in her life and she tried her best but Julia Child she was not.

When I was 18 I went to live with my ex-fiancĂ©’s brother and sister-in-law. Not only did they change my life simply by the way they lived truly Christ like lives but also Ellen taught me about meal planning, grocery shopping, and generally living within my means while still living well. To this day I use the lessons she taught me about stretching my food budget, household management and living well. I am so thankful to her for giving me that gift (plus she is the only other person I know besides me who reads in the shower). Thanks to the Internet I have been able to reconnect with Ellen and wonder of wonders she posts the recipes I remember from those halcyon days of my life that I have great nostalgia for. As a wonderful extra added value the recipes are completely within my food budget, whoo hoo!

I try to share frugal living tips with my students. Most of them are single moms with minuscule incomes. Whenever I am feeling constrained by my budget I think about them and their struggles. I have one student who has 2 children under 5 and lives on slightly more than minimum wage. When she finishes the program and gets her certification she will be able to make more than 3 times what she makes now. Many of my students are in the same boat. By passing along frugal tips I am hoping I can help them deal with the increase in their incomes and to help them pay off their student loans by living well within their means. Not only that but I think that by providing positive reinforcement for frugal living I help normalize it. Our culture is so consumption driven and people feel bad if they are not rolling in expensive crap, I am hoping that by my speaking about ways to live within one’s means it will make it seem not less than but a better alternative to the consumer culture. At least I can hope.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Navel gazing/whining about my acedemic career (try to restrain you excitement)

I am the first woman in my family to complete high school and (when I finally finish in the summer) will be the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s degree. In the fall I will then be starting my master’s program, a double master’s a MBA in health care management and a MS in public health education. I am pretty damn excited about the idea of getting a master’s but I am feeling a little alone in the world with it. I wish I had someone who could hold my hand through what has been a somewhat arduous process of selecting and then getting accepted to a program.

As the end of my bachelor’s and the beginning of my master’s get nearer I swing from excited anticipation to anxiety and back. Can I do the work? Will I be able to swing working full time in a demanding career with a master’s program? Will writer’s block return and kick my ass? I find that daily I have to release desire and release expectations with all this. I have to relax and be in the idea that I will have sufficient grace to do what must be done.

I tend to be a planner, a worrier and a perfectionist at times. These traits have actually served me but sometimes they can rise to a rather neurotic level and it is a pisser to make them shut the hell up.

I am finding that exercise has been a balm to my agonizing. There is something about working up a sweat that calms me down. It seems to take all that nervous energy and focus it on something which, for a little while at least, drains it of energy and makes me feel so much better.

Taking action and list making are soothing. I have done everything I can to do with what must be done between now and then and now I just need to walk in the plan. This is comforting as well.

I find I do best when I quit focusing on myself and my problems. When I am able to look outward instead of inward, to talk to my friends (several of whom have master’s degrees) and to believe what they tell me that I will do just fine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What wonder is this. . .warning:rambling post

This Friday I get to go to a teacher training. I absolutely love these things. I get to hob knob with seasoned teacher and they are SO amazingly generous with their advice. I carry around a little note book so I can jot notes after conversations because they just casually spout pure teaching gold. Coming into teaching in a rather backwards way has resulted in some odd learning curve bumps for me. I worked in the health care industry for nearly 20 years before I started teaching. The HC industry is VERY different from the teaching industry.
When I started teaching I decided to stop with the corporate climbing, the press for power and just relax and be with the moment of teaching. Now, after 2.5 years of it I am amazed at the personal transformation that has been wrought in me from this powering down. I am so much more relaxed and happy. (Of course it really doesn't hurt that I love what I do and by in large most every day is a fun adventure in magic joy land) I enjoyed being an auditor for compliance and I enjoyed performing physician and staff education I did, I actually thought I loved it. Compared to teaching however, it is a pale, pale love.

I am going to have to leave teaching temporarily rather soon and this really makes me very sad. Once I finish my certification I need to get a job and make some serious money for awhile so I can fund my master's degree and not be in some super crazy amount of debt from student loans (like nearly $100,000 of debt).
I know it sounds dramatic but the thought of leaving teaching makes me want to cry. The thing is that if I go back into the health care industry I will make more than double what I make as a teacher, yes friends that's right MORE than double. The plan is to pay for my master's degree as I go and not get any additional student loans while also paying down what I owe on my undergrad loans because they will be in deferment and I can pay against the principle. Fortunately I have no debt other than the student loans. It all makes just great sense on paper, it seems like the logical and rational thing to do but honestly it just feels dreadful. I also really need the master's degree, if I want to teach at the university level it is essential. ::deep resigned sigh::

I am hoping that I can find a job in the industry working at a teaching hospital or working in a training department that pays as well as my usual position as an administrator or an auditor. That way I could be well paid enough to do what I need to do financially and still be teaching. Here's hoping.

Are you alright, I noticed you just fainted from getting 2 blogs in 2 days, woah yah scared me there.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaBlPoMo Welcome to November

It is November already and never you mind that I didn’t post at all in October, I was busy procrastinating, shhhhhhhhhh.

So November is National Blog Posting Month and now for the second year in a row I am taking a stab at it. The idea is to post daily; I am shooting for at least weekly.

Thoughts for today:
Tomorrow is the election and I am, as usual, wishing for candidates who I genuinely like as opposed to having to pick the lesser of 2 evils. I really want to have representation that appreciates the little things like oh, say THE CONSTITUTION and THE BILL OF RIGHTS, ahem. Let’s not even get started on my general dismay over elected officials who want to abandon due process simply because they are outraged by the crime committed (the exact time when due process is MOST needed IMHO). My further dismay at those politicians who want to make their version of Christianity the state religion and work on building a theocracy, not based on Christ like love but on some distorted view of crusade mentality. My horror over those fear mongering bigoted reactionary politicians who build consensus not based on the shining light of reason, moderation and equality but on fear, xenophobia and EMOTIONAL knee jerk hatred. Alright, deep breath. . .
I dream of the day when I can find a true Jeffersonian republican or a politician who can be both one who values life and freedom, who is moderate, respectful, honorable, honest, scholarly and in possession of integrity.
I know, I know . . . dream on little dreamer.