My grandfather died in the early evening of March 25, 2020.

My grandfather died in the early evening of March 25, 2020. I imagine as the sun was setting, the last rays of light took with them his final breath, the last rays of hope of his seven surviving children and loving wife.

My grandfather did not die of the Coronavirus. In fact, a few weeks ago, he was alive and well, without the usual ailment that one would find plaguing an 85 year old man. But two weeks ago, he was admitted to a hospital due to a stomach ulcer, and afterwards, was released with a list of medications but no energy to take a sip of water, let alone food.

Last Wednesday, he was re-admitted to the hospital due to dehydration. Because of the Coronavirus epidemic, no one was allowed to visit him. We hardly spoke to him and calling the hospital led to dead ends at times, because they had many more problems of their own. I think of what it must have felt like to sit there alone without a face to recognize, without a warm hand to hang onto. To spend the last week alive in isolation, without a breath of fresh air.

At least when he did speak on the phone, he still joked with jubilee, telling my grandma that “there are a lot of beautiful nurses around” as my dad bantered with him, begging to switch places rather than stay at home “with these two oldies.”

It was Sunday night when he was diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer that had already metastasized. Although my aunts and uncles asked the doctor not to tell him, my grandfather already knew, as my father’s brother, who happens to be a nurse at the same hospital, told us that my grandfather had asked him, “Why have I been moved to the cancer wing of the hospital?”

My grandfather was never a fan of medicine and hospital beds, and had already told us a few weeks before that he did not want to undergo surgery when it came time. “Was he warning us of what’s to come?” my mother later wondered. There was no chemotherapy or radiation therapy to be had. So, per his request, they brought him home on Monday evening via ambulance. Home – where my grandma and aunts and uncles went to see him.

On Tuesday night, my mother called me sobbing, telling me that he was almost gone. That he had no words left to speak and his eyelids failed to even open anymore. She was on her way home and I asked her if she would like to stay with him but she said she was going home to rest.

Wednesday evening, my father called Mike’s cell phone and the minute I heard my mom wailing like the sirens of the sea and making gutteral sounds that could only come from the bottom of hearts, I knew it was over. She was the only one of the seven surviving siblings who wasn’t at his side when the sunset took him away. She was his baby, the favorite according to her own kind, and she wasn’t there.

Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to let go when someone we love is near. Maybe it was easier for him this way, to leave silently without the tether. My mother learned to understand that, but of course, at that moment she cursed the gods and herself for the choices she’d made.

He didn’t suffer emotionally, ignorant of the cancer growing within him. He didn’t suffer physically as he peacefully rested his eyes during his last few hours. Every surviving child got to see him one last time between his arrival home and his final destination. It was the best case scenario one could hope for, considering.


Yesterday evening, before getting the call, I read the Little Blaque Blog, the words of Erin Rose Belair. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Into the Blur

by Erin Rose Belair

It is one thing to say, we take this for granted. It is another thing to live in the knowing, to taste it, to have life so close you could reach out and touch it. If only…

The rest of my day is decided by how I spend my morning. I move carefully forward because if I slip, the entire day is lost to fog and worry, and pacing the room so quick I may wear the rug thin. If I make it through the morning hours without reading the news or asking why, then I know I can make it to sun down.

I keep myself busy by doing everything carefully. I untangle my hair in a hot shower. I make coffee slow and drink it even slower. I read poems to the dog and count the waves that come in. I am more grateful for this view than I have words for. We have so much more than we ever realize. I watch the waves come in and count clouds. I miss my mother. I set the table for no one.

I wonder what we will say about all of this later. I wonder sometimes if there is a later. How it will sound on our tongues, some strange fever dream we all slipped into? The lines are more blurred by the moment, night and day, day and night.

I name the days by the things that stand out. The day the bird flew inside. The day they took away the beaches. The day I slept fourteen hours. The day it rained so hard the windows rattled and blurred the horizon. The day you made a table. The day I learned to make bread.

Sometimes the fear is palpable and I envy people I talk to that don’t carry the weight like I am. I try to prioritize, narrow my focus, control my panic but it does little. I open the windows. I cry at night. I worry there is no going back. I worry even worse, that this is not the worst of it, that today will be something I covet in the weeks to come.

Everything that used to seem important feels like a forgone notion.

What I really want is to spend a summer in Maine and eat lobster, and drink white wine, and watch my daughter out the window in the yard of the house we rent for all of July. What I want is to be afraid of things like mosquito bites and too much salt in the salad, and whether or not you still love me like you used to.

It’s all a blur. Maybe we’re there already. Maybe this is all a dream. Eventually we learn not just how to endure it but how to thrive and stay alive in it as well. We still have to make something out of all this.


Every day I’m on here, spinning life as a gift. Every day, I implore y’all to just take things more in stride. Every day I preach that too many of us walk the world asleep. My mother didn’t expect it all to come so suddenly. It was why she was not there by his side.

Or perhaps, as the one closest to him, she knew, too. And she could not bear to see how it all unfolds. I wish I could have done more to shake her awake, but I couldn’t. Words, they only do so much.

But it taught me a valuable lesson in that sometimes, people do walk the world asleep. We do take things for granted. The freedom to walk outside, the ability to visit the dying and sick, the warmth of sun on the sand. We worry about when we can work again, when the kids can return to school, when the parks will re-open. We rush to our phones and laptops to connect, distant yet closer, until tomorrow, but our eyes glaze past our own loved ones, the cat sleeping on the couch, the parts of ourselves we’ve already spent too long ignoring. Even with the opportunity to stay home, where everything most dear supposedly lives, we fight to get some part of ourselves out there, on social media, in the workplace, via selfie and Skype call. Maybe a few times in our lives, we will wake, even for a second, to spot the present moment passing by, as if scenery on the long train ride which we call life.

I suppose all we can do is hold each other and lift each other and do our parts as best we can. I’ll be there today, offering words, even though I know they can’t possibly take the pain, or make the forgetting go more quickly. I can only use them to pass the time by, to fill each second with memory, love, or whatever else she needs right now, until the seconds burst one by one. But as a girl who processes things with words, words are all I have to offer. Words are all I have to write.

 

Productivity In Times of Quarantine with SkillShare

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

On the heels of the previous post regarding creating separate spaces between work and home, I thought I would be completely inclusive here and address people who, like myself, have recently found themselves at home without work, undoubtedly the greater of two evils. Not knowing how long the hiatus will last, it becomes difficult to spin this quarantine into more positive lighting, but spin this I will try.

If you are finding yourself suddenly at a loss (of words, a job, and/or purpose), may I suggest making quarantine time a time of productivity? I have partnered with SkillShare to give those looking for something to-do something to learn. Using this sign-up link, you will receive two months of FREE access to their Premium membership, because seriously, who knows how long this will last?!?

An ideal day of quarantine for me would include a morning of yoga, a rejuvenating shower to face the day ahead, a cup of mindfully made coffee, and a late morning lesson on SkillShare. All of this followed by a healthy lunch, writing for the blog, meditation for the mind, reading for the self, and tending to our home for the soul.

DSC00209

SkillShare is a platform that features some of my favorite bloggers teaching others their life skills in a succinct series of videos. This list includes Erin Boyle’s course on Minimalism and Kathryn Kellog’s course on Going Zero Waste (now’s the time!). If you for some reason find yourself jobless indefinitely, there are also lessons on SkillShare teaching SEO, how to create branding on social media platforms, how to edit videos and photos, how to launch a fashion line, how to design your first website, and more. Of course, if you wish to take this time to start a blog of your own and are looking for ways to make money, this course on How to Monetize a Blog is by far my most favorite.

I hope that this is helpful somehow to people who are finding themselves with unprecedented time on their hands and aren’t sure what to do. I hope the skills you encounter on this site will fuel your energy towards something fruitful, whether that be a hobby or a new profession. Either way, I hope to help in any way possible, and I think sharing resources for the first few months of uncertainty is a good way to go at it.

Likewise, for those interested in learning budgeting, you can find my own course on Mastering a Budget FREE for all. For those interested in minimalism and creating a lifestyle of zero waste, you can always ask me questions below, or DM me on my Instagram.

DSC00210

Every time someone signs up for a free-trial on SkillShare, TheDebtist will earn a small commission that will support the continued work in this space, which includes but is not limited to, a sharing for resources for all so that we can rise up from difficulties such as those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in togetherness. Thank you for your support of this work.

Recent Reads: Kitty O’Meara

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently. And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Thoughts on: Mundane Action

There are times when I think about what people will think once this loan repayment journey is over. The most likely truth is that most of my journey will be forgotten. All of the middle ground where the suffering happened will be overshadowed by the end result. The happy ending will supersede all. As humans, it is natural to only remember the beginning and the end as we take away the life lesson but forget the mundane events of the everyday.

It makes me sad to think that they’ll look at what we’ve done in paying back $575k in student debt and immediately assume that the going was easy.

Explanations will arise, however inaccurate, that dismiss the difficulty of the task, as people say things such as, “Well, she was a dentist and made a lot of money. Of course it was doable.”

Excuses from colleagues about why it wouldn’t work for them will also ensue. “She had a husband who also made decent income”, “She was fortunate enough to have a bakery that took off”, and “She had her writing to help support such a hefty loan repayment.”

It makes me sad because if that were the case, if everyone forgot the effort, then this would be for naught. People will continue to believe that paying back debt is an unreachable goal. People will still avoid pursuing financial freedom, viewing it as attainable only to those who have luck on their side, or to those who have more than.

But none of that is true.

They say that it would be difficult to pay back debt if it is more than twice your income. Well, mine was almost quadruple my income. But I still pushed myself to do it.

I want people to know that my success will not be a result of me making TONS of money relative to my loans.

It will be because of penny-pinching habits, mindfulness, diligence, and hard work.

I want people to know that any success I have will not be because of sheer luck.

It will be because of a constant refining of the self, a vigilant search for the essentials, and a questioning of the status quo.

I hope people remember that it wasn’t easy. I have days I never speak of, spent curled up in a ball on the floor, my hand in fists, my eyes flooding with tears. There were moments full of self-doubt around both my abilities and my choices. Days when I felt lonely because I worked so much. Days my back hurt from doing dentistry and my shoulders hurt lifting cast iron lodge pans. I have burn marks on my arms and bags under my eyes. It isn’t easy, but it’s a meaningful life, and I want people to remember that.

Maybe then, it would help push them through the tough times when they are most ready to quit.

I was ready to quit, too. Hundreds of times.

This story will never be told as widespread as other stories, because it is not an overnight success. The tabloids, the news, the audience … none of them want to hear about mundane action. But it is mundane action that will make ordinary people do extraordinary things. It’s a shame because, well, the non-telling of my story will mean that Regular Joe’s will never reach their potential to be super-heroes. Students will continue to carry debt. Society will continue on with their life-cycle.

But if my story gets shared once or twice, I have hope that it saves a handful of people.

The younger a person hears a story about personal finance, the easier it is to reach financial freedom. In much the same way, the sooner a person with student debt is convinced of their ability to pay it back, the more money they save. Every day that they wait to refinance is a day wasted and a few dollars lost in interest. Every day a person debates about whether they can dig out of debt, they dig themselves a bigger ditch.

I write to empower people in small ways, which over time lead to big results. After two years of writing this post, I still do not believe in the word negligible.

A water carves its way into solid rock, and over-time, forms the rock into an easier pathway.

This is how I want to transform people.

I am no SuperWoman.

I am so very ordinary.

If there is one thing people remember about me and my story, I hope it is that.

 

How Cyber Monday Can Grow a Blog

It was around this time last year that I got serious about turning this blog from something entirely personal to something more helpful to the general public. I would say that it was this exact weekend that I implemented a number of changes and additions that eventually led me to publishing TWO courses this past year (How to Create a Budgeting Tool That Works and Mastering a Budget). While there are other cyber Monday deals out there that you can spend your hard-earned dollars on, here are a few that actually gives back in terms of profit, making it more like an investment rather than a purchase.

Teachable – the platform I used to create both my online courses

If there’s anything I know, it is that you have valuable skills, experiences, and expertise in something. Every one of us, including you, has something to share with the world — something that others would love to learn.

And while creating an online course is one of the fastest ways to leverage on your time and increase your earning ceiling — it’s also one of the best ways to help more people.

When you create an online course, you’re able to change your student’s lives.

So my question for you is: who’s going to be grateful for you this year when you create your course and share your knowledge with the world?

Yes, you can earn a side-income from your course. Maybe even a full-time income from your course eventually. But there are so many other benefits to creating your course and sharing what you know with the world.

A surprising number of people have found that having their own online course becomes an amazing creative outlet. You get to share your passions and knowledge with the world!

And best of all, you get to do it on your own terms. You get to be your own boss, and you can pursue your biggest, craziest ideas without anyone saying that you can’t. When was the last time you had that kind of creative freedom?

On top of that, you’ll find it’s a real joy to interact with your students. 

Whether you have a course on parenting, or building a vegetable garden…watercolor painting…or even playing the guitar… (yes, these are all real courses on Teachable). 

You’ll find yourself losing track of time. You’ll be fully immersed in the course creation process, and you’ll get to talk all about a subject you love. (With people who love to listen!) 

You don’t need to be a big recognized expert to make a big impact on the world. 

We’ve seen it time after time. Newbie course creators will start off filled with self doubt, but then they take the plunge and share something.

They have zero expectations at first. But all of a sudden, one person enrolls…then ten more…and eventually hundreds, or even thousands.

These course creators are thrilled beyond belief. They never thought “lil’ old them” could be in demand like that.

The bottom line is this: You have hidden talents that the world needs you to share. 

You deserve to feel great about doing work you love. 

You can be the one who helps other people reach their goals. 

I 100% believe this.

That’s why I want you to take advantage of Teachable’s best deal of the year.

Not only do you have a chance to get annual access to Teachable for just $299 (saving $169), but in a couple of months, when you put in the effort, you’ll be able to ask yourself, “Who’s grateful for me?” And there will be a whole bunch of students excited to raise their hands. (And hey, you can be earning a pretty nice side-income as well.)

So if the idea of creating an online course excites you—if you’ve even thought about it for a second—you gotta check this deal out.

Facebook 1.png

ConvertKit –the platform I use to build an email following

It helps to have an email following. Subscribers are people who have a genuine interest in hearing what you have to say. They are a great group of people to connect to and if you are hoping to teach a particular topic to an audience, there is no better collection than your squad of subscribers.

My followers are amazing, supportive, interactive, and optimistic. They ask a lot of questions about budgeting, paying down student debt, and living a simple lifestyle. It is very gratifying to be able to help this community, and it is because of them that I continue to write.

Having an email following is also useful if you want to reach out to people en masse, or if you have something to share with like-minded folks. Convert Kit has an easy way of organizing people by category, so that those interested in simple living will not get emails about budgeting.

I would highly recommend Convert Kit to any online writer who wants to build a community.

There is a 30 day free trial for Convert Kit for those who are unsure about Convert Kit, but one thing is definite: do not wait to create an email following! It is something that I wish I did early on. It has brought me closer to my readers and has made my writing more meaningful, both to me and others.

After a year of trying it out, I have finally switched from a month-to-month subscription to an annual subscription today, thus saving me $86.

PicMonkey – the site I use to create banners for the blog and Pinterest

PicMonkey is an easy-to-use website for creatives using visual aids to accompany their work. It is especially useful for Pinterest if you want visually captivating banners. Most people who go to Pinterest are in search of something in particular. The ability to catch their attention and redirect them to what they are searching for is key.

Many bloggers underestimate Pinterest as a social media platform, but it is actually the most useful platform to bloggers. Imagery makes it easy to catch the attention of users who are searching for something, and the linking can redirect them to a specific blog post or page.

Off course, PicMonkey has other uses. I specifically use it to create banners for my website, or to create imagery that promotes my courses.

I will even use PicMonkey for personal things, such as invitations to parties or holiday cards. It’s as easy as Paint, but with more functions.

You can try PicMonkey for FREE for 7 days, and then decide if it’s useful to you.

Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing – the course I took that taught me how to monetize a blog

All of this, I learned from a course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing written on Teachable by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. I have spoken extensively about how this course helped me monetize my blog, so if you are looking to invest in a course about blogging, I think this is it!

Off course, the final Cyber Monday deal that I’ve got to offer is one that is my own.

Get 75% OFF my course Mastering a Budget by doing the following:

  1. Subscribe to TheDebtist below

2. Follow TheDebtist on Instagram.

 

All subscribers and followers will receive a discount code in their inbox tomorrow that will give them 75% OFF of the course. This is my way of saying Thank You to all my followers. I couldn’t be here without you.

Also, I would like to open the conversation up to those who wish to see something different or new in 2020. Reach out to me below, or just say “Hi!”

Images of White Fridays

I once wrote about the blackest of Fridays in dreary fashion, and reminisced on Black Fridays past, moments I could not take back. I wanted to write, this year, of bright Fridays ahead, away from all the frenzy. For the past three years, Black Fridays have been spent at dental offices helping Turkey-eating-sufferers and kids who are taking a break from school. But if it wasn’t spent here, I have many images of what it would be like.

Waking up late in a wooden cabin, sitting fireside with a cup of tea, for there would be no need for coffee. A book by the side table, ignored for now, to allow thoughts to passively wander in one ear and out the other. An occasional getting up for a bar of chocolate, but invited back into the loveseat by a cozy tabby. Wireless, eventless, motionless, all things timeless. Stockinged feet, and blanketed messes. We’ll let the candle burn out, let the windows frost, let the soup simmer a little too long. It snowed on the Grapevine only a few days ago, so is it too much to imagine snow?

Can we call them White Fridays?

I know this doesn’t send shivers down everyone’s spine. Most people will not be excited by nothing-ness. Some may even be itching to get to the end of this post to hear the deals. For those who are, I suppose there is value for this day. It gives us the opportunity to shop small, support local, and consume ethically. On this day, I’d like to support those small business owners who support this blog throughout the year. In the name of gratitude, here’s to you.

A guide to shopping slow, small, and sustainably this Black Friday.

+ This all-weather boot, and a Christmas shoe. (Select styles are 60% off and with the code DEBTIST25, you can receive 25% off all Nisolo products)

+ This mug for fireside mornings, and a cake plate for, well, cake. (Free shipping today!)

+ A photo book, for mornings in bed. (Use code VERYMERRY for 10% off site-wide, and tiered discounts for $100+ and $175+ purchases).

+ This gift wrap set for the upcoming holidays, and this notepad to organizing upcoming weeks. (40% off everything today only)

+ A toothbrush for after the Thanksgiving feast.

+ These earrings, paired with this dress, for simple gathering.

Thank you to all of you.

XOXO

 

How to Monetize a Blog

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

When I first started writing, I was a person filled with angst. I couldn’t quite place it exactly, not realizing  that the unrest lied in my lifestyle as a millennial yes-woman. And so I did the only thing I consistently ever did since becoming a teenager filled with regret and discomfort – I wrote.

In that writing, I found myself – buried under all of  society’s imposed expectations, fetal position underneath all the rubble and trash. When I first started this blog, I didn’t expect anyone to read it. I didn’t even think myself brave enough to share all the darkest parts. I couldn’t imagine myself coming out of it positive and vibrantly alive. And I certainly did not expect a following, nor did I think that my written word would turn into a business. It’s been two years in the making, but now I’ve been able to create a community and a space in this vast interwebs, while also make money on the side to fuel my goal of paying down my debt.

And it all began with Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing!

Where Blog Monetization Began

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner runs a personal finance blog called Making Sense of Cents  and is the author of Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I first heard of Michelle on ChooseFI, as an interviewer like myself, talking about a life of side-hustling via blog work. It was then that I was introduced to affiliate marketing, which allows someone to share useful products relevant to their blog or lifestyle in the interest of helping others, while receiving a commission from the company if purchases are made through you. Prior to this moment, my blog made no money. Since then, I have had the joy of receiving additional side-hustle income while doing what I love. My blog became my first side-hustle. 

What I Liked About This Course:

  • It taught me how to sell without compromising my values. I am very much against selling for the sake of selling. As a minimalist and a frugalist, what I choose to purchase is very important for me, and I wanted that to translate into my blog. I dislike sales-pushy people and am very much against excessive consumption. This course helped me to balance the implementation of affiliate marketing without feeling like I sold my soul.  I use affiliate marketing as a means to share with others products or experiences that brought value to my life. I help others by directly linking them to note-worthy companies. I am very mindful about not infiltrating my blog with a cluttered handful of advertisements, generally limiting each post to one or two.
  • It allowed me to invest in myself and helped propel us forward with student loan repayment. This course is an investment in your ability to make money. More than that, it invests in expanding your skill set and abilities. I knew nothing about growing a blog, but learning about affiliate marketing was a great introduction into running blogs as more than a digital day-to-day diary. I am the first to say that my investment into becoming a dentist (costing me more than $550k in student debt) was not worth the education that I received, albeit it was worth the life lessons I learned and the person that I became. But this course is worth every penny! If you are interested in increasing your income, speeding up your trajectory towards financial independence, or a flexible job that allows you to stay home, I highly recommend this course.
  • It gave me a job that I love. I get to work as a part-time writer, staying at home working in my PJ’s, and doing what I love to do. All because affiliate marketing makes my blog a money-making venue. I always hear people say, “I don’t believe anyone can ever love their job”, and when I do, I feel very sad. I also feel guilty, because I DO love my job – in fact I love all my jobs! I love being a writer, a dog-sitter, a baker, and a dentist. However, if I never discovered how to monetize my blog, I do not think I would be able to make that statement. If I never fell into this  sphere of making money on the side, I would have probably been stuck working as a dentist, five days a week, burned out from the emotional stresses and mental challenges with a crick in my neck and an aching back at the ripe age of thirty. This course gave me my first glimpse of what it means to step back from a traditional work-life. It gave me the opportunity to limit my time in other jobs, which prevents me from hating a mundane existence. If writing is your passion, then maybe it’s time to carve out a job for yourself.
  • It gave me the confidence to start other side-hustle ventures. It’s hard to step out of  a comfort zone. It’s hard to leave a job that promises stability. It’s hard to do what others are not doing. It’s hard to chase freedom, when it also involves the freedom to fail. But once you’ve left the zone, there is empowerment outside of  it. Using what I learned in affiliate marketing gave me to confidence to believe in my ability to sell my skills rather than work for pay. I started to see value in my ability to take care of dogs. I saw value in the bread that I was making. I saw value in a lot of things. I left an egg-shell that was already shattered, I crawled out of a cocoon by putting myself out there. I think it takes one tiny step to fall fantastically forward into a black hole of bliss. This course was my one. tiny. step.

What I Like About Affiliate Marketing

There are many positives to affiliate marketing. In the interest of brevity, and in the hopes of allowing you guys to figure what you love about it yourselves, here is a list of the things I liked most.

  • It increased my income and quickened our pace with loan repayment.
  • It taught me a lot about myself, in terms of what I wanted to promote and what I did not want to promote.
  • It allowed me to share with my community what brought  the most value to my life.
  • It allows my readers to connect directly to the source, facilitating a sharing of useful resources.
  • It shined the spotlight on small businesses and companies just starting out, especially those who I believed has a great impact.
  • It provided me with the lifestyle I wanted, and is a great opportunity for writers just starting out, or people interested in working from home, nixing a commute, or being with their family.

How to Start Making Money with Your Blog

So if you are interested in writing and earning money, start with this course! It’s an easy transition for beginners like me, who knew nothing about starting a blog. Right now, the course is ON SALE (which hardly ever happens!). If you use my affiliate link here and use the code OCTOBER2019CC, you will receive $28 off of the course, making the total price $169 after the discount! Now I know frugalist followers will be rolling their eyes at this price, but do remember that it’s an investment for the FI lifestyle. When done right, you can make that money back quite easily, especially if  you approach affiliate marketing from a mindful place. But do hurry, because this deal won’t last long! It ends Sunday, October 20 at 11:59 pm PT.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me if you need any help or would like to learn more.

A Lesson in Making Do with Where You’re At in Life

I like metaphors. I like them so much that I take mundane occurrences in the every day and aggrandize them into life lessons. Over-glorified moments twisted with a truck-load of positivism, spun into something better. Oh, the world in which I live!

So I’ve got a metaphor.

Last Sunday afternoon we were experiencing an Indian summer, not atypical of Southern California. It was hot, I was wearing shorts and a tee, my bangs were sticking to my forehead, and my skin was sticking everywhere else. We were at home, finished with the morning chores, the run to the farmer’s market, the 10am football games, an afternoon of nothing ahead. An ideal situation for me. Even more so for my husband. He had just sat down at the computer, when I suggested we go to the beach. We were there exactly twenty four hours prior, but I was hankering for a re-do and thought, it couldn’t hurt to ask.

It was not unfair of him to say no, either, but there I was, left with a decision to head to the ocean water on my own and trample in the waves, or stay. Due to a fear of being swallowed whole by fierce waters (to blame: a near drowning experience that resulted in a missing bathing suit bottom after being tossed around like a rag doll in the wash), I can never brave dousing more than my bottom half when I go alone to the beach. But the hot weather had me wanting more – a fervent dumping of my entire body into deeper waters. I needed a hand, though. Strung along were other excuses – I was avoiding the drive to the water which would sacrifice an hour of my weekend, en total, along with the cost of dreaded parking meters.

I realized that in that moment, the beach was something I did not have, but wanted. It was another case of wanting more out of life when plenty abound. In much the same way that travel can be a form of escape from the mundane, so too was the beach a way for me to escape an afternoon in idleness. In a matter of moments, I started to think of what I did have, and it dawned on me to apply my mantra of making do.

As crazy it this may sound, I decided to create my own ocean. I wanted to dip in water, to cool down, to play and frolick. I scoured the tub, dug the plugger from underneath the bathroom sink, and turned the faucet to Cold. I filled the tub with water and was reminded of the kiddie pools we used to own. Those tiny things we would spread out on the lawn and clamber into, practically sitting on top of each other, all arms and legs. For some reason, I wanted to replicate that childish scene. I put on my bathing suit (you gotta dress the part, you know?), and dunked right in. I moved around a lot, which caused the water to slosh. Just like that, I had created waves. I know it seems crazy, but I got what I wanted – an escape from the mundane. It was nice. I was happy.

Now let’s aggrandize.

In honor of World Mental Health Day, I wanted to share that on THAT particular Sun-day, I got something right. I didn’t run away from my unhappiness. I acknowledged what I wanted to do. I tried to make the situation positive and bright. I worked with what I had, which I know can sometimes be the hardest thing. And as this post is titled, Make Do with Where You’re At In Life, maybe today isn’t a day that you can will yourself out of bed. You sure can try but if your limbs are too heavy or the bed too soft, then make do and imagine you’re on a cloud. We need to raise a planet where there is no social stigma for these things. Where we protect people’s feelings. So what if a thirty year old wants to pretend she’s made an ocean out of a dingy bathtub? So what if an adult needs to be a vegetable for the day? It is only when we preserve and allow for these activities that we can make the world a bit more bearable, more light, more happy.