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Your gift is your poison - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

I think it was 1999 or 2000 when I came home from alternative school, turned on Oprah and heard something she said that really struck me.

Oh my god, whenever I’m texting my younger sister and start typing the word “oprah” I always hear Mike Myers in my head. “OHHHppraahhha”. Never gets old.

So Oprah had a couple of women on her show to talk about self acceptance. They may have written a book about it, I don’t remember. Oprah posted a photo on the screen from her vogue photo shoot. The picture was from a few years back. In the photo she was thin and beautiful. She said that the criticism she received from those pictures she took extra hard. Those pictures made her feel like an imposture. The guest speakers essentially drew the conclusion that if Oprah didn’t subconsciously agree with the criticism it wouldn’t have stung so deeply. The heart of their message was to acknowledge how you really feel about yourself deep down.

Your gift is your poison - Finger Pointing To The Moon Quote - Anarchist Kitchen Blog


OHHHppraahhha paused and rephrased what the women were saying. If someone hurts your feelings and you spend all your time focusing on who said what then you’re distracted by focusing on them. They are the finger pointing at the moon.

Your gift is your poison - Finger Pointing To The Moon Quote - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

So 15 years later brings us to 2015. I wrote about that year calling it The Year of Death & Taxes. As mentioned there I ended a friendship which is a huge waving flag that something had changed in me.

The day the cord had been severed my head was spinning. Should I tell her why I’m abruptly ending all communication? The catalyst was some bullshit she said in passing while talking on the phone that day and it lit a fuse. We can not be friends anymore my mind announced but I didn’t say it to her.

A huge amount of the decision had nothing to do with her per se. It became super clear that I was the jackass over extending my energy while engaging with her. I’d drain my battery thinking about shit she’d say & do trying to make sense of it. She’d tell me a story and draw rock solid conclusions. This is what it all meant, every store had a concise conclusion. I’m not kidding, rock fucking solid. She’s incredibly descriptive…. but then parts of the conversation would bubble up in my mind later that day. I’d reexamine all of the details and come to wildly different conclusion. I’m talking the logic would be different, the moral stance would be different, who the true victim or victor was would be as different, on and on. Light years different. Every time. And because all of her stories had a strong sense of struggle there’s really no place to jump in and tell the victim who struggles to overcome adversity that maybe they were never a victim in that situation in the first place. But why risk hearing the words “victim blaming” being pointed at me when I’d hear those were so easily coming out of her mouth to point them to others. In the end we just thinks differently. And the silly part was that I LOVED hearing her stories. I learned major life lessons from the things she talked about. Her stories were so descriptive that it was like reading an imaginative novel with quirky characters and epic amounts of wit! Always laughs to be had and wisdom to gleam.

But when it come time to bring this to an end I really struggled with whether I should say, “I don’t want to be friends any more” because that is an opening line which leads to picking apart someone’s short comings. All they have to ask is “why?” and it’s all over.

For days I imagined starting that conversation with her. Every time I’d think of a way to point out something I would imagine her feeling deeply hurt. Essentially she told me a million secret over the course of 3 years or so and by no means was I thinking of bringing up anything on that level. It’s just to say, if you tell me all of your secrets then I have a very good idea of what hurts your feelings and I do not want to do that at all. Knowing her sensitive areas meant I couldn’t be impartial. “I’m a computer. I just ran a report. Here, go work on this” Ah, no. I’m going to error on the side of caution and not act like I’m just giving you data or “FACTS” as the kids arrogantly say on facebook.

Plus I asked a friend of mine who I think is super fucking perceptive to the trappings of human relationships. She told me an allegory of living in your own backyard. If you’re living in someone else’s then who’s living in yours?

Your gift is your poison - Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

All I could think was, “If she’s just going to misunderstand me AND feel hurt then I what’s the point”.

When I later came cross this quote “Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. It pointed exactly to a feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on. And this is why you stay in your own backyard regarding unsolicited advice. She’s busy working on her own shit. Everyone is trying their best.

I committed to silence. I wasn’t going to talk about her, think about her or see what she was doing on the sly through social media. Internal silence didn’t happen immediately because I was still trying to process all of the mixed emotions I had about the situation. When the momentum was winding down it struck me! Really, whatever negative thing I had to say about her was actually intertwined with all of her strengths. The more I thought about it it started to seem universal. If I say some mean shit (even with good intention) I’m crapping all over the things she should be proud of. Criticizing her really wouldn’t make sense.

I reflected on shitty criticism of me. Instead of staring into the abyss of “I’m found out. Yes, I am still working on that. Why can’t I stop doing that.” then taking the baton to go even further into how this negative behavior is somehow a reflection of my damaged self I decided to turn around. Could there possibly be a fundamental strength to any of these criticism? Clearly by the title of this post you can see that I did found diamonds in the rough.

Your gift is your poison - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

Things are very much a matter of perspective to varying degrees. Just spewing negativity, only seeing what annoys you and obsessively focusing on the shit that stinks is compulsive behavior. How often you see something is NOT an indicator of how accurately you’re perceiving it. I’ve kind of touched on this in my post You ain’t a hypocrite You’re cognitively dissonant. I’m talking about tunnel vision people. Seeing my weakness as the parts of myself that I need to ignore, change or remove might be living in a tunnel.

I love reading books and listening to stories about strategy, habits and behavior. Our quality of life is the expression to our inner world (to a certain degree). I heard this quote which I can’t remember for shit so it will only come out as cliche but this post already has plenty of that so away we go! The people who master their genius are the ones who embrace their madness.

Maybe the old me would have interpreted that to mean embrace for the sake of manipulating and change. Hold to handle & to manage. But current me is hearing embrace as intertwine & cradle. Like the very thing you think is harming you could being your saving fucking grace. Minus crack cocaine.

There's a crack in everything That's how the light gets in - Anarchist Kitchen Blog

I’ve been wanting to write about this for the last couple of years but I’m glad I didn’t. At some point last year I heard this podcast and it completely blew me away. I am amused easily. According to her tendency grouping there’s 4 ways people deal with expectations.

four tendencies four interlocking circles - Anarchist Kitchen Blog After hearing her talk about it on the podcast mentioned above I dug through her own podcast to hear about each of these in more details. Here’s a pretty good overview on the 4 ways people function and the pros & cons to each. I completely nerd out to this.

Her specific way to talking about it exemplified the idea that your gifts are your poison.

I’m an upholder so my strengths are that I’m self directed & take direction from others. You need something, I gottachyyyou! I want to starts some shit? We’ll sit back because I’m all over this. Don’t need someone to remind me to count my calories or upload another video to youtube. I direct myself. Those are major strength but for a very long time I couldn’t figure out why I am so rigid. For years I felt secretly ashamed that I was so into health and that I took it so seriously. Being rigid is complete fodder for second guessing myself. I remember being really into raw food and wondering “Why do I care so much about this?! No one else cares.” I think that’s the main reason why I admire people who couldn’t care less about shit I care about. It’s like “wow, that person is intrinsically more flexible about these subjects than I am.” I can’t help but admire that.

Even though upholders and rebels are kind of on the fringe I do think a lot of my friends are rebels. I wasn’t until I listened to her take on this personality trait did I see that I was judging you guys all wrong. It’s easy to see someone else’s poison but that poison is truly the yoke holding their genius to their body. The majority of folks are obligers & questions. They’re all good and bad. Everyone’s gifts somehow are breaking their own balls.


There’s been generous amounts of “flow” this year, things have been coming together, unfolding…. and the synchronicity! Crazy amounts of the standard 11:11, magical, only-I-would-get-it type of bullshit going on around the clock. 2015 is worth talking about… but not too much.

Dude, the level poverty that we were thriving at in 2014 is award winning. No one wiped our asses, no one housed or fed us… well, we did have food stamps for about 2 weeks but overall there was no Uncle Sam’s credit card involved.  But hey, I’m not shaming your game.

When I was a youth of America I read Evasion (3 times), crimethic, anarchist, anti-$, vegan propaganda. My ego desperately believed that I could one day live without all the bullshit; no forced job, no elusive money, none of the man’s system. Sure it’s all gray area but I was young and my heart understood what my head was vaguely thinking. Looking back I think the indirect goal was to live with no strings attached unless they were in my favor 😉

So for many years I clung to this mindset. I didn’t question my own assumptions. But even worse I didn’t consider it valid that these beautiful and pure thoughts of mine would denature after sitting in my mind for more than minute & in morph into toxin death. I think the process was THINK ABOUT SHITTY THINGS IN THE WORLD & ALL OF THE ASSHOLES WHO DON’T CARE—> then randomly feel depressed and suicidal for reasons that I do not know. The days of idealism were pretty awful. Why won’t everyone stop killing animals and using oil and supporting war?! Ha!

The first big shift was when I discovered 25 (and counting) major myths to veganism and had to jump ship to that decade of false assumptions (I love you, Vegan Friends, don’t read into that last sentence!). The second major shift was when we saved $24,000 in 18 months while working bullshit jobs to buy our Tiny House & Land. The plan was to cut the strings and learn to fly on the way down. By the time we saved our first $8,000 I was in living in two worlds. For the first time I had money (which in theory was bad) while working towards “freedom” (which in theory is good). Having money didn’t change me, it made it even more clear that I had no idea of where this “me” even was.  I know I’m not my clothes & car, duh. I would think I’m my thoughts & values but when I meditate or create a space between “me” and my thoughts it doesn’t seem like I’m really there either.

Moving to the land pretty much broke me as a person for reasons that have little to do with the land. When we sold the land I wiped the slate clean, for better or worse. I would rebuild my values and priorities from the ground up. I would move slowly through life in order to feel instead of think. This was the year of anti-logic in a sense. Shit got real, shit got extreme. For months we were eating on $1-$2 a day. Then we mastered the ropes of dumpster diving with the help of the diving community and lived 100% off of trash for 9 months straight. Zero $ for food. 2014 I think we earned $800 a month! We’d be rich if we were homeless but we had an apartment, phone bill, internet bill, electric bill, washing clothes, buying toilet paper. We weren’t living on the streets and we weren’t burdens to our family or the state so our asses very carefully got by. Because we lived so low key and just took what the trash would give us I had never felt so relaxed in my life. I was not stressed at all, I was rolling with the punches and that felt amazing.

But when the 2015 New Year was on the horizon I had a moment of clarity. I recalled that I had a brief run in with magical thinking  right before I met Mark. While magical thinking had delivered on some pretty big requests it had also distorted my ability to not act like a total avant garde douche bag. I also thought about my attraction to “Doing More With Less”. I let all of these things sit in my mind and came to the conclusion that I could use focus (aka magical thinking) to simply intended for more money. That my love for “do more with less” has morphed into “I need to have less to do more”. My ego needed to be put it check. Being proud of doing more with less is a great when it’s your first day on the playground but I’m trusting that the skill is there, no need to keep sharping the sword. Time to grow up! And dream big! I’m wishing for 2015 as the year of $$$.

New Year’s Eve 2015: Mark is with his friends and I’m alone having the world’s biggest pity party. I fall asleep that night and have the most suggestive dream ever. DREAM: I’m in a situation where a stranger is complaining about a valid mistake I’ve made. It never crosses my mind to advocate my intention. Instead I completely sympathy with the offended , I am the world’s biggest piece of shit. I’m a fraud and the person berating me knows it. I feel like I want to give that person the world, I want them to know that I never meant to offend them so badly. I want to make up for my mistake X 100. Then someone else shows up and tells me that a $10 item I sold them was damaged. My feelings are amplified, I give them way more money than the item is worth, I’m throwing the money at them before they even ask for it. I’m overextending myself. My stress builds to the edge of a melt down and a large group of guys are now surrounding me. They have guns and my nerves can’t take the pressure any more so I yell, “Shoot me” and so they do. The gun goes off and I’m hit in the mouth. The moment it hits me I feel knocked back into reality and completely regret what I said. I didn’t really mean to say “shoot me” I just couldn’t handle the feelings anymore… but I got what I asked for. I’m in shock, I bleed out and die. Moments later I’m barreling through a black tunnel at the speed of light til dropped back into my body. To that I wake up. Something inside of me feels dead. The part of me that wants to overextend myself no longer gives a fuck. Things come up in the coming weeks and I don’t have to rationalize what it means to me, I simply couldn’t care less. I feel out of my nature and the lack of identity feels good.

With that dream 2015 is off to an interest start. I figured I would simply focus, I’d hold the thought of us having money & freedom and let the magic run it’s course. A series of small light bulbs went off in my head, complete elementary stuff on how to improve our ebay business. At the end of 2014 I walked away from dumpster diving, it was too much of my focus and identity. I could tell I needed to shift gears. That’s where food stamps made it’s brief entrance. At the time we had over 800 listings up on ebay, all stuff from the trash. Up until that point I was simply rolling with the punch, taking what the trash would give us to sell. It had gotten us by for 18 months but the light bulbs going off reveled that we could be more strategic with our business. Quitting dumpster diving was essential. Following each small light bulb step quickly lead me to taking down about 500 listings. Right when we were approved for food stamps I got word of CD Source needing temporary employees to help the permanent closing of their store. Mark started working there and our food stamps were instantly cut off, Uncle Sam’s food credit card lasted 2 weeks. The closing of the cd store took longer than expected so for months we had real income (think minimum wage-ish). Since we had mastered poverty Mark gave me full reign to take his earning and invest them into our new ebay business model. I had boxed up 500 items in at the end of January and had about 2 weeks of trying out our new business plan when the results started to come in. It was shocking. For that last 18 months we gross about $800 month with 800 listings. When we reworked our business we sold $800 our first week with a little over 300 listings. Magical thinking, game on.

When Mark’s temporary job was coming to it’s end I parted ways with my year long part time ice cream shop job. (thanks Carnival Barker!) It really seemed that Mark and I could make better money and have a more flexible lifestyle if we kept our focus on ebay. Money & freedom, that’s the plan. More money, more taxes.

We finally started making enough money to no longer need our roommate. The boxes of ebay stuff sat in messy piles for months. The first weekend that the weather was nice we dragged everything out to the lawn and set up shop. The whole morning I was obsessing on my high school best friend, Heather. Heather’s mom was the most ghetto person I’ve ever personally known. She would steal from other people’s garage sales to sell shit at her garage sale. I thought about Heather and her mom all morning while setting up our garage sale. Actually, Heather had been on my mind a lot for the last 18 months. Right before we left our land I got in touch with Heather and told her that I really wanted to write about her crazy life. When I was 14 years old I felt really attached to Heather. I’ve always had best friends but this feeling of friendship felt different. And as the saying goes, “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long”. Within 2 years of us being friends I really felt we were going in two different directions in life while my previous best friends I could still connect with. Even though we saw each other sparingly after that I didn’t even consider removing my loyalty for Heather out of my head. I loved Heather. That morning of our garage sale Heather was front and center on my mind. Sitting at our table of junk I got a call, Heather had been murdered. She left 5 kids behind. Then it seemed really clear why I had such an urgent need to see her those last 18 months even thought it had been 15 years since we were really close. My worry for her kids had me in a tailspin for months. Thank god for the kid’s father, he’s truly the world’s number 1 dad. If I had a million dollar I would give it to Julio.

Heather dies and I’m at a loss. Before her funeral arrangements are made Mark’s Grandmother dies. Now there will be a Two Funeral Friday. Marks grandmother in the morning and Heather’s that same evening. Seeing someone’s young kids stand next to their young dead mother at the funeral was completely awful. In the back of my head I remember that a few months before hand I had gotten together with Heather and we recorded a couple hours of her telling me her life story. We get home from the day of funerals and I bury myself in the pile of blankets that is my bed. I start crying really fucking hard because I miss Heather and because I just realized why, in part, I’ve loved her so much. Heather was one of the few people who would chat with me, really let me ask her a million questions about her life while giving me very particular body language and posture that my subconscious took as a sign of her really listening to me. At 14 I felt heard by Heather in a way that pretty much felt like love to my little teen soul. Does that sound crazy that I took something so subjective as posture and put some much into it? When it clicked I was almost taken aback. So chit chat & feeling heard are the corner stones to my loyalty!? Okay, duly noted.

Shortly after Heather dies I end a friendship with a chick who viewed me as her BFF. After a gut wrenching conversation of her white self telling me about awful white privilege I was deeply annoyed for days. While that talk was one of the last straws it had zero in common with the other straws that had slowly been breaking my back during our friendship. Why would some lame conversation, shit that I used to believe, get under my skin so much? It’s really tricky. She’s the wittiest, funniest, most entertaining & talented person on the face of the planet. I think I’ve learned more about everything, including myself, from being friends with her…. but shit just wasn’t right. I think it was 2014 when I interview my friend Jess (Jess is not the BFF I’m referring to) after she got back from being a train tramp. The audio “13: LIVING AUTHENTICALLY & GENUINELY: how to disappoint and empower loved one”  is about Energy vs Form. If I had ever come across that concept before then it must have gone in one ear and out the other. The things Jess said felt like she was talking directly to me. For so long I had assigned people, places, things and foods very black and white meaning and written off the more subtle feelings. Jess talked about the obvious positive or negative attributes to people or situation so you’d feel foolish to not act logically but logic can mask the energy and energy matters. She talked a lot about those dynamics in respect to Her Husband vs Her Boyfriend, husband sounds right but boyfriend feels right. It’s tricky. I really encourage everyone to go to CakeorDeathRadio and find that interview (my sister Bonnie’s Autism interview is on there too). So some petty shit was under my skin, I feel like I seldom even notice petty shit but something was going on. I mentally suspended the loyalty and admiration that I had for my friend. I needed to objectively figure out what was going on and not take her explanation of shit into account. What does it all mean to me? I was putting up some serious mental wall, it was pure dogma. I really didn’t want to think about what my problems with her might be but the irritated feelings didn’t go away. After many long bike rides I remembered shit she’s said & how she treats people, mostly men, and I simply asked myself how I felt about her behavior. The truth was I felt like she was endless disrespectful. Owning up to that was liberating. I hadn’t considered those feeling before because she justifies her life much differently than I do. But I’ve been way overextending myself for years trying to make sense of her and her ways. So it turned out to have actually have nothing to do with that stupid conversation, it was the canary in the coal mine giving me a heads up, it’s time for shit to go down. I keep friends for life… so 2015 was a risky year.

Half way through the year it becomes clear to me that I was baiting certain people into being my friend and talking with me on facebook. If they post some lame shit and I know it’s the only subject they want to talk about I’d engage them. You only want to talk about fruit then I’ll talk about fruit with you…now you’re suppose to like me! No, it’s not that I actually think anyone should be talking about fruit but you’re putting it out there; your approval depends on fruit. So I chose to play along. She’s a person I wanted acceptance and approval from for a while, I’ll admit it. It’s pathetic but until I became aware the game I was playing it wasn’t resolving itself. How did I resolve that? I acknowledge that I was needing acceptance and approval and it was going to have to come from myself. Corny but true. I ended that fake friendship, I’m sure that chick feels as much relief about that as I do. It was long over due and I feel bad about pestering her for so long. But I’m feeling fine a million times better now.

Shortly after that another friend I’ve been good with for 15 years started posting shit on facebook that I got really butt hurt about. The shit he was saying wasn’t anything I hadn’t thought about a million times before but if you know I eat meat, you know I’m married and you know I’m on your friends list then when you post anti-marriage and anti-meat shit I want to know how much you’re thinking of me when you’re clicking “post”. I’ve posted passive aggressive shit in the past when I didn’t respect some  folks that I had grown apart from and I secretly wanted them to see certain posts. I know what’s up. It’s so embarrassing that I would post shit targeting to my friends. If I don’t like them then I need to move on or grow the hell up. I wouldn’t say that bridge is burned because I like this guy a whole lot and internet personalities are the WORSE way to draw conclusions on people. So what I took from my fake-friendship-trolling and getting butt hurt about bad science memes on facebook was that I was OVEREXTENDING my energy. It was total epiphanic (real word). The thought started like this: If I took all of the energy I put into trying to be friends with people I want to understand me, trying to understand the rationale of people who do fucked up shit with a straight face, getting butt hurt over opinions & ignorance AND INSTEAD put it into starting a business, writing a play, working on ebay, building a ship in a bottle, sewing myself a new wardrobe, learning underwater basket weaving, etc THEN I’d be rich and have something to show for myself…maybe self mastery or inner peace. Who fucking knows because I’m too busy playing on facebook all day while feeling lonely. <— No more of that, no thank you.

After that I vowed to avoid facebook feed. I log in, post my latest recipe video & picture on my Rich Bitch Cooking facebook page, engage strictly with message and the funny shit my younger sister tags me in to check out *then* get the hell out. I will engage with people, so feel free to message me, but not the feed that’s just posted out there so anonymously. Oh, you saw that? And that hurt your feelings? No my problem. <— I’m not going to thicken my skin, I’m going to refocus my priorities. 99% of posts are not so dramatic but one bad post is too much. The new priorities became lots of reading. Man, I guess I hadn’t  really gotten lost in a good book. For too many years I’d only read health & diet books so when I got over “clean eating” I pretty much stopped reading all together. But when I get over facebook I found reading to be a really fulfilling thing. I’m picky but a really good novel or biography, man, I’ll read 6 hours every night. 2015 has been my absolute least social year and by far the least lonely. Yay! Plus I started journaling and doing yoga and shit! I was feeling on point.

So 2015 has been on the up and up. Regardless of the form the energy has been perfect…. so I hate to end this yearly reflection with this story.

December 9th I awoke to my phone ringing at 7am. I never get calls that early, I seldom hear the phone ringing at that hour because I’m asleep. It says my older sister Bonnie’s name so  I pick up. Thank god I pick up. It’s my oldest nephew Jerzy. He’s never called me before so I’m thrown completely off guard. He says something but I have no idea what he said. I said, “wait, what?” then in the exact calm tone he repeats precisely what I just told me, “I found my mom stiff on the floor, she’s ice cold, her lips are blue. I tried to feel for a pulse but couldn’t feel anything.” It felt like my heart completely exploded. “Are you serious?” My body knew it was true and started shaking uncontrollably before I even finished the sentence. He said, “yes., I found her….” then repeated to me again everything he told me 2 times before. “Did you call 911?” “I don’t know how, can you help me?” “Hang on, let me get a piece of paper” Mark jumps out of bed beside me, runs to the other room and grabs a pen. He tells me his apartment address and I tell him that I’m heading over from the city to the suburbs in rush hour traffic but I’ll get there as soon as I can. I call 911 and they transfer me to the 911 in city. I tell them that I think my sister is dead and that it’s likely her 3 special needs kids are there alone.

We jump in the car. My mind is calm but my body can’t stop shaking. 10 minutes into the drive it dawns on me that I have to call my mom. I can’t just shown up on her door step with Bonnie’s kids and tell her. I need to give her time. I call my mom. She normally picks up with a worried tone but today she sounds more causal. “Yes?” “Mom, I think Bonnie’s died”. She sounds like all of the air had been kicked out of her. “What? Why?” Her voice was so tiny and she sounded so panicked. “I don’t know. Jerzy called and told me that she was ice cold so I called 911…..Ice cold, there’s no way around that, is there?” She quietly said, “I’m going to get off the phone to tell your father.” We wait in traffic and the closer we get to Bonnie’s exit I feel like I’m going to shit myself. I run into a gas station, shaking  but probably looking calm to everyone else. I’m scared to go to her apartment. We pull up and there’s a couple cop cars out front and the front door is open. The second I see the cops I feel so much relief, like I’m not all alone to figure this out. I’m so thankful they were there first. Jerzy walks out to and looks calm. The cops talk to me while Reyna walks in and out of the apartment playing quietly by herself and Xzavion sits outside on a chair near the open front door. He has dried tears down the side of his face but he won’t give me much eye contact. Jerzy keeps repeating to me the details of what he’s saw, his mother  found dead on the floor beside her breathing treatment machine. I want more than anything to not have to picture it but I don’t want to tell him to stop. He was being so calm, I didn’t want to break the spell. Within the first hour of me being there I walked passed the 3 cops standing front of the closed door where my sister lays died on the other side so that I shit my brains out… I do this about ten times. My mind is calm, my body is not okay. I try calling my younger sister, Heather, but she’s a sleep. She calls me back, I tell her what happened but have to get off the phone to talk with another officer. He’s asking me questions that I don’t know the answer to. I offer to call my mom for him so and do so & hand him the phone. The first thing he says to my mom is, “I’m sorry for your loss” then asks her the questions he asked me. Maybe an hour goes by and Bonnie’s husband, Travis, pulls up. Travis went to work that morning at 5 am. He got a call from the police telling him what happened and to come home if able to leave work. Travis later told me that he collapsed on the floor when he got the call. The whole drive home he was sure it was a dream. When he pulls up to Jerzy, Mark and Me outside with cop cars all around he starts crying again. He asks Jerzy where Reyna is and Jerzy explains that he put cartoons on in the back bedroom to keep the 2 younger ones distracted. More time goes by and I’m crawling out of my skin. I just want to take the kids and go to my parents house. I feel so lost. Travis’s brother and sister show up and are hugging Travis and the kids. Travis’s dad and step mother were catching a flight out of Mexico and should be with Travis asap. Then the van pulls up to take Bonnie’s body away. The kids are all outside at this point and Jerzy says, “take the kids so they don’t see this”. I was blown away! “Who are you?!”, I thought. It was like he had matured that day in front of my eyes. It was amazing, I had completely underestimated him.

After that we were free to go. The two little ones rode with us and Jerzy stayed with Travis. 30 minutes from Bonnie’s apartment we were at my mom and dad’s house. My mom played it tough because the kids were there, no tears. Later she told me that she was heartbroken. Shortly after we arrived Travis, his sister and Jerzy are with us at my parents house. I take Jerzy to Mcdonald’s and we buy all the kid’s food. We talk about what the kids are going to do; Jerzy is going to live with his Grandma on his dad’s side. They have a strong relationship and she wants him. Travis calls everyone he has numbers for on Xzavion’s dad’s side and informs them of Bonnie’s passing. Him and Reyna go back to Travis’s uncles house to wait for Travis’s dad. We quickly leave in order to drop Jerzy off with his Grandma on time since they’re having a family birthday party that day. On the hour drive to Jerzy’s grandma’s I want to ask him how he was able to be so calm. Apparently after I called 911 they called him, I gave them the number, and had him push on Bonnie’s chest…I mean, doesn’t that not all sound traumatic? But I was scared to ask so I said, “Hey, how do you think the kids are gonna be?” and he said, “Reyna, I don’t know. Maybe okay. Xzavion, not as good.” He was so matter of fact about it I said, “what about you, how are you handling it so well?” I wanted to cry when I said that. “Well, when 911 called and told me to push on her chest I just thought, now or never.” When we got with his Grandma she talked matter of fact about it and it made me feel less care of “it”. I’m so thankful he has his Grandma Daun.

I got home that evening, posted on facebook about Bonnie’s passing for friends and distant relatives to see then opened my messages to see that Bonnie had written me the day before. She wanted to know when we could get together and work on some projects we’d been talking about. Mark and I had just seen Bonnie that Friday to give her and the kids a ride to the doctor. Then Tueday according to both Travis and Jerzy Bonnie had went to the library, made and ate dinner, horsed around with the family, wrote me on facebook then died before getting the kids up for school. Cause of death was her bronchitis on top of her asthma was too much for her lungs. 2015 I made a first time (and successful) habit of not letting my the wild horse that is my mind steer me down an endless, draining road. I’m not going to think about non-friends, I’d rather build a mental empire. That first night as I laid in bed still shaking in my body I kept picturing Bonnie coughing and sneaking off while her family was asleep to give herself some relief with her breathing machine. I minimum all sickness so this just blows that attitude out of the water. For about 48 hours all thought about taming the wild horse completely slipped my mind.

When Travis’s dad, Terry, got in town he was on top of all of the arrangement. He’d been down this road before. The amount of support we all got from Terry is more than I could ever thank him for. When he was talking about making arrangements for the memorial service I told him that it sounded so sad. And up until that point I felt too scared to go but he pointed to the celebration aspect of it which turned my feeling completely around. Terry has a great way of wording things: cleaver and smart. I really, really appreciate Terry’s point of view. My dad, Travis’s brother, Mark and I got together with Terry the following few days to help empty Bonnie and Travis’s apartment. The drive back to Bonnie’s apartment triggered feelings that my body took as me reliving the morning of her death. Being at Bonnie’s apartment seemed super scary at first. I was having flashbacks to the front bedroom door being closed and her body being right on the other side. When I finally went in that room, stood where she died and next to the breathing treatment machine that was sprawled out on the floor and remembered the moment of clarity I had when we were driving to her that morning. Death is and has the ultimate respect.

Best Family Picture

Bonnie, Xzavion, Reyna, Jerzy – 2011




*Click on pictures to see full size

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This was one of the best trips we’ve taken.

We got to meet holy scrap hot springs bloggers who are living life on a whole other level. They’re currently 7 months solid traveling full time. I hope we hang with them again. Their blog/lifestyle seem so well rounded. One of the things I mentioned to them was that they are so out of the box but seem to be functioning so well. Unlike so many people I know who are on the fringe they seem to be eating good, doing book tours, traveling, leveraging their time and creative efforts, etc. Their list of creative accomplishments and self expression is something I admire. I’d say they’re one of my few examples for folks who have wealth in many avenues regardless of their (perhaps small?) income. They live in New Mexico but we hung out with them in Portland.

Before we got to Portland we spent some time in Colorado. We hiked up a mountain in Boulder with crazy amounts of camera equipment including the large format film camera. That large camera has a suitcase size carrying case.

One thing that made this trip a million times better than the many road trips we’ve taken before this was our lack of requirement for specific food & drinks. We didn’t need a cooler or ice, we didn’t need to cook grass fed beef or bring 12 gallons of spring water. <— all of our former trips. I lived mostly on vegan canned soup and chips and Mark mostly lived on canned ravioli and chips. We drank water and lemonade out of a gas station styrofoam cup that we refilled at every gas station. We showered at a truck stop and slept in cycle to the moon. godddddddd that sounds nice.

We saw Brian and meet his “twin flame”. Seeing them was another major highlight on the trip. Brian’s girlfriend pretty much is a no non-sense kind of girl EVEN when she’s talking about total non-sense. That type of personality totally is fitting the bill on what I’m connecting with in people. Dynamic! Plus she supplanted my mind with Pallas Athena… so we’ll see where that goes (it’s in my 3rd eye). I didn’t want to leave them so we hung out much later than expected which was cool cause it was Audrey’s birthday.

We spent some time in Utah which was nice. We went down to Taos, New Mexico to see Michelle’s earthship. She hosted True Taos Radio which interviewed us live (as shown in a photo above). After the interview Mark took pictures of the gorge while Michelle and I just chit chatted on the bridge. I really needed some lady-chit-chat time so thank you.

The last day of the trip we took the time to discover the podcast app on our iphones and listened to some good stuff during the drive. We had a ton of music and audio books (“shit my dad says”, 2 nora ephron books, david sedaris, etc). We were over listening to music and had quickly burned the audio books. One of the podcast we listened to was about sleep. It really pumped me up want to address how smoothly my sleep had been on the road which was in contrast to how sleep has been most of my life. When we got home I implemented a “7 pm Get Off The Internet” & a “9 pm Turn Off All Screens For The Night” to turn my problem solving mind off early instead of letting it overtake me 24/7. Now we act like it’s little house on the prairie days after 7 pm (LOTS of reading, maybe a board game or a movie) then even more reading til bedtime. The trip felt like a reset. I’m sure no one wants to hear how people I love in real life post douchey bullshit on facebook and that I pretty much has ended my interest with interacting there. I’m cool with personal messages but scrolling makes my soul want to die. 2 weeks without the internet, sleeping with the moon/sun cycles, hiking mountains, travelling, seeing good friends… it really reset something corny in me that makes me want to just do what feels good in life. It’s like this trip renewed some inner guidance, it’s hard to explain with out sounding lame. Plus being in an earthship is pretty mind blowing and makes everything next to it seem to be lacking something. Speaking of something lacking, out of nowhere I got a really clear idea that we needed to change our apartment around. When we got home it’s kind of like we reordered our living space to create creative space for us each to do our own thing. And we got a sweet vintage crushed velvet couch for the living room from the thrift store…hooray.

The large black & white pictures were all taken with the large format film camera. Mark developed the film in our bathroom then scanned them onto the computer. Mark was new to the camera and did a hell of a job setting the camera up and taking great pictures.

With all of these wonderful things said and done it’s great to remember that this was a business trip. The trip was pretty much required to help soak up some of our profits and reinvest the money back into the business (via this trip) instead of sending that money in as taxes owed. During the 2 weeks we were gone we sold $956 worth of stuff on ebay. We kept our store open but changed the handling time on the listings. I also messaged everyone who bought stuff as a reminder on what day we’ll be shipping out in case they didn’t take note of the extended handling time. While $956 gross for 2 weeks is about half of what I would hope to earn at home we made this money while “traveling the world”. To me that is amazing. The mileage for the trip was 5,144 which cost us about $500 but due to mileage reimbursement being $0.575 per mile we credited $2,957.80 in deductions. Self employment has benefits that are unseen to traditional worker. Sure you don’t have a steady paycheck but we just got paid to see the world.

The rental was free and here’s the story. After checking out our car rental options we drove off and debated if it was worth the money to rent a spacious SUV vs take our non spacious car on the road. Our car is old and junky and i was worried about it lasting on the trip. Plus we had an insane amounts of (huge) photography equipment so where the fuck would we sleep? Within 2 minutes of leaving the rental place a car backs into us which sends our car into the shop for almost 3 weeks! While it was at the shop we got a rental from the insurance company at no cost…. like magic!

Here’s a video from our first trip to an earthship in 2013

dream of gemini

7:30 this morning i got up to work on some things. around noon i went back to the pile of blankets on my bedroom floor and took a nap.

my vivid dream starts out with me walking up to a garage sale that julio has organized. the day is feels incredibly calm, no wind or harsh light. the day is glowing and there’s a stillness or peace in the air that’s hard to put into words. no background noise of cars or people. maybe my dream is secretly taking place on a movie set. i look around at some of the childrens clothes that are folded. in an instant the front lawn sale disappears and is replaced with a very large table that is so long it distorts when i look to see who all is sitting at the other end. heather is sitting towards the middle of the table, i can see her perfectly but she’s out of touch. i walk up to the table specifically to see her but sit at the end where there’s an empty seat. she gives me a warm smile, she looks really happy and full of life. i figure i’ll hang out for a bit. everyone at the table is all of the folks we used to hang out with back when we were best friends. all of her kids are there as well. renee is sitting next to me and we’re catching up. every now and then i look around the table and heather and i catch short glances at each other. her acknowledgment feels really good. some time passes and i feel like it’s time for me to go. when i get up i feel really satisfied. i don’t see heather very often, once every blue moon so seeing her even though we didn’t talk had this huge sense of relief to it, like we were still connected even if it’s not like when we were young.

rushing back into my body i wake up.

my eyes open. the swell of relief that filled my real but dreaming body does a complete reverse. the swell of relief doesn’t deflate like balloon. it’s more like a detailed sandcastle that i had been building in my sleep turns into quicksand when i awake. the sinking feeling is like the floor dropping out from under me. i lay there, i don’t move. i’m not sure if i should feel my feelings or push it all away. i choose the latter.

i go downstairs and sit in front of my computer next to mark. 20 minutes pass and i stand up to make a smoothie. i get the blender out of the cabinet and my brain says. “tell mark your dream”. i turn to mark and start the story. i sound casual until i say heathers name. i pause, i can’t say thing. mark stands up. pretty much i just have to cry for a little while. mark silently hugs me. through my tears i recall that this last year or so i’ve been begging heather to get together with me. right before we moved back from arkansas this urgent feeling to get a hold of heather had started coming up. it’s such a complicated feeling. i don’t want to force a connection. i don’t want to pretend we’re the same people we were 18 years ago. i just want to sit beside you and i don’t know why. but i think i understand now.DSC_0120green

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section.

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Cognitive Dissonance (and other logical fallacies) Can Be Sour Grapes – My Story


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  • formal fallacy (aka logical fallacies) is a pattern of reasoning which is rendered invalid due to a flaw in its logical structure which can neatly be expressed in standard system of logic. *wiki*

  • cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it. *wiki*

    When i was 17 (over 14 years ago) I read Diet For A New American and became vegan. Day one started with me reading information and pretty much every day for 9 years I had a book in my hand and I read everything about veganism, health, and how factory farms destroy our planet. I took it very seriously and personally that my diet had a real impact. I was always hungry & excited for information, even after 9 years so I knew I would be vegan for life because being engaged with the lifestyle was so effortless. The final 2 years of veganism for me were done as a raw foodist. I created 70 *lame* youtube raw recipe videos, helped open a raw cafe and found an entire community of like minded people to be apart of. Everyone was 100% on board with raw food, unschooling and conscious awareness (via thoughts and language). To say I lived and breathed raw veganism would be an understatement, not to mention the 7 years prior to that where I was just vegan. The raw vegan community at the time had a lot more gurus, leaders and  the “look at my body” types than the regular vegan community so when a handful of raw food celebrities were having an event the next state over I had go. My friend Jessica and I drove up to Oklahoma for the event. I knew Jessica from the raw food community, she was a few years older than me and had been into raw food way before I was. On the drive up to the event she played an audio from a multi hour long program by Daniel Vitalis. I was a huge Daniel Vitalis fan from watching his spring water videos  a couple years before that. I assumed he was a raw foodist like me from how his water videos moved through the raw vegan community. The 3 hour drive consisted of him talking about the value of animal foods and the fallacies of veganism (raw and cooked). What he was saying was really hard to hear, it was like some sort of mental, emotional, physical discomfort and I was not at all into it. We get to the event and it was great seeing so many people that I followed online including the raw model who’s blog I followed for years. I didn’t think about the Daniel Vitalis talk after that and it was pretty much was out of sight, out of mind. However I had already committed myself to seeing him live, he was coming to Dallas. I originally assumed it was a pro raw food kind of thing but stuck to my commitment to go once i realized otherwise. I knew my veganism was rock solid and his water videos had a huge impact on me so I couldn’t see any harm in attending the event. Plus so many friends from my community were going that it wasn’t just about seeing Daniel. Long story short his talk blew my vegan mind. He was vegan for something like 15 years (his tale is a pretty standard). It pretty much took someone who had been in my shoes, walking my path to make different sense of my journey.

and there’s where cognitive dissonance start to come in……


Don’t expect real science from AnarchistKitchen

Okay, lets say I have a world of information. My brain for some reason pictures a lime green jello salad. Each little chunk of gross shit inside is a nugget of truth, in and of it self it is what it is. Now the green goo could be the whole of my brain on the microcosm or the universe on the macrocosm. The goo is whatever it is that is holding (not sure that’s the right world) life and consciousness together.

Let say I zero in on one single nugget of information, cauliflower chunk on the left (raw food has lots of enzymes) and another nugget somewhere else (cooked food has less of the same enzymes than before when it was raw) and another nugget (our body uses enzymes). now these pieces of information are always out there in the ether. 99% of people will never zero in on those nuggets but they’re always there. Maybe 1% of people zero in on those nuggets of information and with that volume of information the brain could start to draw conclusion. Here’s what that drawing could look like:


STARS are nuggets of TRUTH. The squiggly line is where    we connect the dots which paints a picture that draws                                             conclusions.

Our brains are fucking complex so there will be a lot of information that it’s taken in and an infinite amount of information that is weeded out. Part of how our brain weeds out the literally infinite amounts of information involves cognitive dissonance. If we have a vested interest due to strong held emotional beliefs/past experience it’s likely our brain will do us a solid and just leave out all of the dots that don’t maintain your already painted pictured (aka conflicting information). I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I see some overlap between what I’m saying in regards to connecting dots and quantum mechanics (which I truly know nothing about outside of cheesy documentaries in my early 20s). Remember this sweet chz ball?

In my head what I’m hearing is that the brain is the map, not the territory. So an infinite amount of stuff is present forever and always, our brain takes in whatever capacity it can handle then starts making sense of it all. The more of “I know it already” you are the more your brain will starting taking completely unrated dots to weave it into the really big elusive story of the mind. Ever meet someone who will take irrelevant pieces of their life and use those piece to exemplify what they already know to be “true”? All extreme people do this (I’m raising my hand, super GUILTY). To that person everything is an example of how men hate women, how The Man is trying to keep us down, how shits gonna collapse, how something back in the day is prophetic, how too little or too much of a particular food is the the cause of X,Y and Z.

There’s more dots out there than we can take in and there’s more that we’ve taken in than we can process. So there’s an infinite number of ways to connect dots and make sense of a given amount of information. I had all of the vegan facts, a large amount of dots were connected which painted a very clear picture of veganism being the one and only way for a healthy planet, for healthy animals and healthy humans. Then I added in more information, the dots stayed in the same place but the connections were radically different. When I look into the world I can not see what I used to see as “the answer”. When I was vegan was I wrong for connecting those dots? No, I don’t think so. Am I right for how I’m connecting dots right now? No, I can’t imagine I’m right either. I’m seeing things how I see them and I’m open to change, what else can I do or expect others to do.

While it was embarrassing being a vegan know-it-all but I think the 4 years I did paleo after veganism seem WAYYYY more embarrassing. When I was Paleo I was listening to Robb Wolf and Daniel Vitalis. I felt niave that I believed veganism was natural because of Weston A Price documentation of traditional people each following their same non-vegetarian diet multi generations deep and all having outward signs of “superior health”.  I don’t know of any historical book that follows tribes of vegans for multi-generations, there was no living and breathing proof but just information and i put a huge amount of myself into it. but now i think paleo is the lamest most gimmicky bullshit ever. i used to have a charge with veganism which i no longer have. no i have a charge with paleo, i hear the word and cringe…. i’m hoping to not give a shit one way or the other.

The time in my life where I felt super solid in my brain I was raw vegan and on another wave length which felt almost like another planet. I felt really different and “the truth” was all super clear, i felt spiritual. That was also a time in my life that i was seeking the most “truth” and leaving very little room for new information. I locked my mental door, didn’t watch movies, listen to music, ate the least amount of food, lived alone and wouldn’t allow more information in (or out). So perhaps I had 1,000 dots to connect instead of 100,000 which created the illusion of clarity.

more dots mean more information and information isn’t good or bad, it’s what’s already there whether or not i was aware of it. I don’t need to be aware of more but its misleading to draw conclusions with limited information. I’ll take what my brain gives me and try to stay open. Truth is no longer my job, I don’t need big meaningful answers/conclusions.

For almost 2 years I’ve been wanting to write about cognitive dissonance. I started to see that as I unwound from my emotional investment with different diet bullshit as well as the radical anti-civilization bullshit that there was a quiet little space where I could observe, connect dots, honor what i’m seeing and not compulsively draw conclusions about how my thoughts and feelings “SHOULD” predict my behavior. Let me give you an example. The day I learned about sweatshops I will never forget. I was vegan for 2 years at the point, almost 20 years old and bought a progressive book from whole foods that talked about everything fucked up. It was a super simple book, I want to say it was almost like a photo book with a paragraph on each page. There was a page about sweatshops, human fucking slaves! I mentioned it to my roommate and he was like, “oh yeah, that’s pretty standard”. My emotional reaction to that was OH MY FUCKING GOD!!! I was poor as shit growing up so I already felt like an outsider to buying new clothes, like I’m not privilege enough to go shopping and everyone can tell. you guys know that feeling right? where you don’t feel entitled to shit and think you stick out like a sore thumb. so I went from thinking that I personally don’t deserve to have nice clothes to the compound feeling of buying sweatshop items is grounds for a panic attack. the level of cognitive dissonance involved to feel like i’m going to have a panic attack because i need to buy some bullshit at walmart was off the fucking chart. 2 years ago when I started making peace with having two conflicting beliefs I felt like i was in my skin for the first time in I don’t know how long. I can hate sweatshops AND buy sweatshop items as needed without all of the drama. The stupid thing is that I would spend all that time in the past making a huge ordeal in my head, “give away all of my power” (not to walmart but let my power drain from my body). it’s stupid because minus all of the emotional turmoil the actions are still the same. On some level I felt that my stress and anxiousness about the situation morally meant something. If i buy walmart products with joy in my heart then i was an asshole. if i felt a soul crushing amount of guilt that would elevate the sin and be proof that i really care.

and I see that line of thinking everywhere. I’m going to tell you why something is fucked up/extreme, then you’re going to prove you get it by saying, “oh my god that’s so fucked up/amazing, blah blah blah, my emotional stability is so out the window because this is fucked/blissed out amazing”. Like when someone tells you about their amazing fantastic religion, political party/candidate, their amazing diet or the truth on factory farms. It’s often seems like my emotional reaction is more important that them simply giving me the information and letting me make an unbiased opinion, the facts aren’t enough. Then when you don’t jump through their hoops they act like you must have not gotten it and want to re explain it. (i’m speaking from experience here, i’m way guilty of that too.) And it’s always the folks who are emotionally invested to a particular belief who want to call folks out as being biased and closed minded. Hilarious, takes one to know one, bro!

Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, traveling on pilgrimage, came to a muddy river crossing. There they saw a lovely young woman dressed in her kimono and finery, obviously not knowing how to cross the river without ruining her clothes. Without further ado, Tanzan graciously picked her up, held her close to him, and carried her across the muddy river, placing her onto the dry ground. Then he and Ekido continued on their way. Hours later they found themselves at a lodging temple. And here Ekido could no longer restrain himself and gushed forth his complaints: “Surely, it is against the rules, what you did back there…. Touching a woman is simply not allowed…. How could you have done that? … And to have such close contact with her! … This is a violation of all monastic protocol…” Thus he went on with his verbiage. Tanzan listened patiently to the accusations. Finally, during a pause, he said, “Look, I set that girl down back at the crossing. Are you still carrying her?”

Logical fallacies, like cognitive dissonance, are tricks our mind plays on us. Logical fallacies are really misleading. Think two pieces of truth sandwiched around some bullshit, it’s hard to decipher. PETA memes are perfect examples of logical fallacies. They tend to be “this fact + that fact = GO VEGAN!”. Let’s bust out an example: PETA meme: “Not eating a pound of meat saves more water than showering for 6 months” then the caption “animals raised for food produce more than 10 times more the poop and pee as humans do much of which ends up in our water. Go Green/Go Vegan”  The first part is a fact *but* only as far as factory farmed animals are concerned. Using vague words like “meat” as a blanket statement takes something that’s true (excessive amounts of water is being used for factory farming) and distributes that truth onto something inaccurate (meat raised in a polyculture or on pasture doesn’t require excesses amount of water AND the “waste” is now a benefit to the system). The logic conveyed is there’s only one way to raise animals for food (which is a huge fallacy) and that veggie is you’re only solution to their made up problem. Another misleading vegan slogan is “meat rots in your gut”. Everything rots in your gut, it’s what your gut does. Or the billboard with the the pig and puppy that says “why love one and eat the other” the fallacy is that you can’t love something you kill. i’ve been to small family farms where the husband, wife or kids play midwife when their cows or pigs are giving birth at 4am. They always aware of the safety of their animals, always protecting, feeding, giving affection and attention around the clock 365 days a year. They definitely love them. Is the point blank issue about love or is about killing? is killing an animal right or wrong? I honestly don’t know. Is the issue black and white? If killing animals is wrong then that would apply to all carnivores? Is it more wrong for a human to eat a deer than lion or a coyote? Could someone explain how you’d even go about figuring that out? PETA never talks about all of the animal death involved in growing vegan food, their one sided memes just seem really misleading.

Our preferences are not wrong. We don’t choice what we’re attracted to and we don’t always need to base our decisions on our preferences either. Life is flexible, break your own rules since they’re arbitrary anyway. Just try to be aware of the conflict of interests that lie within you and don’t snuff parts of yourself out (or shame others into snuffing them self out). This is something I wonder, there’s one school of thought that acts like we’re this eternal being that’s truly formless and can not be touched by this temporary worldly experience. And often that same crowd of people will also say that some disgraceful acts are somehow a blemish on your being.

The Fox and the Grapes is one of the traditional Aesop’s fables and can be held to illustrate the concept of cognitive dissonance. In this view, the premise of the fox that covets inaccessible grapes is taken to stand for a person who attempts to hold incompatible ideas simultaneously. In that case, the disdain the fox expresses for the grapes at the conclusion to the fable serves at least to diminish the dissonance even if the behaviour in fact remains irrational. The moral to the story is “It is easy to despise what you cannot get.”

Sour grapes aka The Fox and the Grapes is a great example of what people do in the health community. you take whatever food you’re not allowed and tell your self how much you don’t miss it and never really liked it. whatever, it’s how you’re coping. i saw my friend last summer who’s doing a low fat diet/lifestyle. she mentioned (and I don’t know if she remembers saying this) “i love french fries but i’m scared of all of the fat”. in that moment i was really rutting for her. i LOVE that she’s doing what the fuck she wants to do. she’d a grown up, she’s trying her best, she has dreams and goals and she wasn’t lying to herself. she deserves a goddamn metal! let’s all be straight up, say how we feel inside even when we have conflict within our self. Let’s not walk around correcting each other, that shit is old and feels dirty as fuck. Self correct and don’t get sucked into your own fallacies. and to save embarrassment down the road don’t try to suck other people into your fallacies.

DSC_11363 days ago i pissed away most of my day going down a rabbit hole on air purifiers. at first i was looking online to buy one new one then got on craigslist and decided to buy 2 used ones. the more info i looked at the more i wanted to spend a bunch of money and get really nice ones. i was leaning towards a craigslist ad where someone was selling 2 different models of a pretty expensive brand.DSC_1134

i played around on the brands website for a while and looked into the cost to replace and maintain filters and such which lead down deeper into the hole. i started looking up reviews for this craigslist brand on youtube and on the sidebar i was being enticed to watch DIY videos on how to make my own filter at home.DSC_1156

This was the first video i watched and the comments were so intelligent that i had to watch every video on DIY fan filters to see if anyone was taking the recommendations that were given in the comments.

While these filters don’t have an ionizer (which i really like) or any other bells and whistles there is one major factor that i couldn’t dismiss. a 20″ fan has more power/draw to move air so removing particles in the air is ultra efficient.  one of the reasons i’ve always like the ionic breeze air purifier is that you clean the filter instead of replace it but the air filters that were really catching my eye the other day all had proprietary filters that seemed way over priced. DSC_1134.1

for $88 (with tax) we bought everything new at home depot minus the duct tape that i think we found in the trash. 2 box fans (20″) were $17 each. The wicked fancy furnace filter that removes “Bacteria, Filters Dust, Filters Mold, Filters Pollen, Pleated, Removes Odors” each cost $20 and a 3 pack of lower rated filters for $8 total. DSC_1177

Take the fan, put on the “feet” for stability, tape one fancy high rated furnace filter to a lower rated filter then tape those to the back of the fan. Seal the filters to the fan with duct tape to capture the most particles. I’ve watch a ton of videos and some people put the filter on the front with a tiny piece of tape. Some people put the filter on the back and let the suction hold it to the fan. it appears that most people use a single filter and not necessarily the one with the highest rating because they cost more. from the comments under the video i posted above it seemed the best use of a fancy expensive filter ($20) is to extend it’s life with a cheap ($2) filter over it catching most of the junk. Sealing the fan isn’t required but it keeps the efficiency high and does not overheat the motor as explained by someone smart in the comments. DSC_1180

i’ve had a couple different purifiers over the year since hearing daniel vitalis talk about requiring support for all 4/5 elements to bring health, not just focusing on food “the earth element”. for the last 6 months we haven’t had a filter in our room. i noticed one day in the ray of sun pouring through a tiny spot in our curtains that we have insane amounts of dust. it was like a solid body of tiny little glitter dancing and whirling around that i was breathing in. i wish i had a particle counter to tell you how shit really went down but i can only say this, after the fan filter running for about 20 hours straight i looked through the light and saw a MAJOR reduction in dust. MAJOR! like instead of a solid body of dust there was just random little particles a foot apart. i’d say 95% reduction! since the fan filters are running 24 hours a day, one upstairs and one downstairs in our apartment the air quality has completely improved partly just because the air is constantly moving. i am pleased, this is good. DSC_1182

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So after a year and a half of paying rent again I’m over it. It was pretty much like I woke up one day and was just over it. and that’s apparently how i function in this world. I run my life on major amounts of repetition. Overall I prefer to do, wear, eat and move through my day doing almost the same as the day before. If you look at myfitnesspal I seriously eat the same foods over and over; pasta, bananas and chocolate are the staples of my diet. If you look at what I wear it’s the same Carnival Barker “ice cream freak” shirt 29 out of 31 days. So on and so forth. Because no ones forcing this level of repetition on me I’ll get on a quinoa kick and that will replace pasta and there’s an ebb and flow to it all. I’ll get into small pockets of enchantment where all I’m bathed in magic and feel a tingling & pulse of life everywhere and like everything else in my life it gets replaced almost of it’s own volition. Working out and (these days) dumpster diving food are the standard trying to pump myself up about it but it’s the type of chore that’s enjoyable but always excusable.

To review I’m content with a simple life but just like a light switch going on changes happens in my life often. I think the precursor to change is saying “i don’t want”. Someone asked me if I would ever do a tiny house again and I felt hella embarrassed to admit that I did not want to. For the last 1.5 years I’ve been decompressing from 17 years of work and have reasoned a “real” job isn’t for me. For many people (like my husband) life is very solid and black & white. For me everything is relative which is why I beat around the bush when trying to explain anything, all details are crucial factors.

Scavenger Life podcast (about selling on ebay) mentioned Mr Money Mustache. Mr Money Mustache’s blog really flipped the switch on many areas of my life that I had in the dark. I’ve NEVER thought about retirement and had an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude about it. I think that if something doesn’t matter then it’s fair game to look it. If you have an area of your life that you don’t want to look at because you say it doesn’t matter then talking about it should be easy. If an area of your life is challenging to look at that’s totally fine, we’re complicated humans but it’s unfair to write something off with white wash statements of unimportance because those are just not honest statements. Unimportant things shouldn’t make you clam up.

This is my absolute favorite video right now because it addresses our crazy behavior which branches out from our ideal and the reality. There’s a level of disconnect it seems we humans may always have in our lives. i want to write a blog post on cognitive dissonance.

So I didn’t want a tiny house and a job but now I do. MMM’s blog got me thinking about my future, thinking about what I wished I had given my current self and what I want to pass on to my future self. I think a job will be the fastest way to my goal and like any worth while goal there’s a timeline attached to it.

Having this last 1.5 years away from traditional work has been an eye opener. It seems that time and money are often influx. When I’ve had the most money was I was working a lot and had very little free time. When I was busy one of the main things I wanted was the freedom to go to sleep and wake up when I wanted. Now I have a lot of free time and no money. I get as much sleep as I like and wake up when ever I want but I have very limited options on how my life can play out while maintaining this ultra low income. When we had $24,000 saved we could move where we wanted and could come up with a different arrangement for our lifestyle, options we don’t have now. We don’t want a lifestyle overhaul, we don’t want to live on someones land in exchange for housing and Mark doesn’t want to live in a van. We want to live very much like we live now but smarter. Paying $550 a month for our 2 bedroom, 2 story apartment is not the end of the world but it’s also not smart. We have some of the cheapest rent in Dallas while living in a tiny apartment complex in a nice area and I’m not at all taking that for granted. I am 100% grateful! However paying rent is money we’ll never get back. If we financed a home and payed $550 a month on it then we’d get the money back if we sold the house. I’m just feeling trapped with rent and now that I have serious goals I feel constrained a bit by the trap.

   My goal is to retire in 10 years or at least be very close.

“Time or Money” seems to be the dance most of us are doing. One without the other feels unbalanced and I’m concluding that I really need both. My retirement plan is 100% about having the minimum amount money coming in while having the maximum amount of free time while maintain a lifestyle that isn’t constrained by either.

LIFESTYLE the numbers: Last night I asked Mark to spell out exactly what his lifestyle would look like if he didn’t have time or money constrains. He has one life to live and I wanted to know what his ideal life would look like. Ideally Mark wants to drink top notch coffee that he brews on a top notch machine at home daily. He wants the option to go out to eat (nothing too fancy) about 3 times a week with me if he so choices. He’s like to buy 1 really top notch pair of shoes (a couple thousand dollars) or a few slightly less nice shoes a year. He’d like a few thousand dollars to put into hobbies a year and have a larger budget for buying fancy beer. add in a nice vacation and we concluded that $17,000 a year would cover his lifestyle preferences. $17,000 in very doable! Either I’m some sort of saint or have poor persons mentality but I don’t have any real list of lifestyle wants. Maybe I’d get into permaculture (which cost money… wait, or does it save money?) Or I’d use the tools he has in his hobby budget to create art. Plus most of this shit i think about (going for bike rides, going to the gym, chit chatting with friends) is all hella cheap stuff. Well I do have entrepreneur blood but we’ll not focus on that for now.

RETIREMENT the numbers: Let’s assume that when we retire in 10 years we own (debt free) our home. Let’s say it’s a tiny home and property taxes are $1,600 a year. We build efficient in combination with alternative energy and our utility bills are ultra low.  We eat on the cheap and may grown some of our food. Gasoline, internet, insurance, etc. Maybe we could get by with $10,000 for our livelihood (remember we’d already own our home). So $17,000 for lifestyle and $10,000 for livelihood would require us to have $27,000 as our household income. If we saved $3,500 a month we’d have $615,991.86 in 10 years (8% compound interest). The $615,991.86 would produce $49,279.28 in 8% interest a year so if we just scraped 4% off of the interest that would give us $25,000 to live on while maintaining safety margins and accounting for inflation. This however doesn’t account for taxes ($5,000 a year at 15%), health insurance or unforeseen disability. While these numbers are not perfect they do create an outline on what the approximate steps would be to get from poor to retired.

SAVING for retirement: In order to save $3,500 a month (for 10 years!) or $42,000 a year I’d need to make $42,000 to save plus the cost of living $13,000 would require me to bring in $55,000 net income. While that is a bit of stretch for me to do that all on my own I do have plan. I want to get a full time waitressing job ASAP. If I could earn about $120 per shift and do 6 shifts a week then I’d bring in $37,440. The remaining $17,000 could likely come from ebay because my sellers dashboard shows that i’ve done over $15,000 (gross) this year when I was just dumpster diving and selling $10 items. Plus i’m not leaving the ice cream shop, I love carnival barkers and just making $3,000- $5,000 a year there helps out a lot! Again these numbers are not perfect or taking taxes, health insurance or unforeseen disability into account.

SAVINGS BONUS: my off the cuff savings plan is coming from the point of view that i’m doing all of the work. Marks in school so maybe I can kick some ass, do my best and save a bunch of money. Then in 4 year from now Mark will have a grown up job and we can put 100% of his money into savings. Let’s say he starts out making $45,000 after taxes and within those 4 years of his school I’ve accumulated $194,018.42. Then we add in 4 years of 100% of Marks paycheck then in 8 YEARS WE COULD RETIRE, two years early!!! say what!?! after 8 years our grand total would be $633,442.51! or if we just commit to the 10 years then those extra to years would give us a new grand total of $909,399.02…. almost a million dollars in 10 years. so Marks contributions would double my efforts! that’s a bonus!

This is where the second tiny house comes in!


RENT the numbers: Our rent is about $6,600 a year. In ten years that’s $66,000 and that same $66,000 could actually be more like $96,798.72 if I could invest it (at 8% compounded interest) instead of giving it to our landlord. When I look at those numbers it makes me want to move in a $2,000 van and reclaim the $550 a month in order to invest it. Our first “tiny house and land” cost $8,000 for the land and about $5,000 for tiny house. <— that’s about the same amount of money we will have spent in when this second lease it up!

If you google “building costs house calculator” there are websites which will show the break down of everything (foundation, roof, plumbing, etc) as well as separating the material costs from the labor costs for whatever basic house design you have in mind. I have my heart set on building another tiny house but a bit different from our last one. Tiny houses are attainable. While they’re more expensive per sqft the overall price can be significantly less if you keep it simple, find affordable appliances and do what you can where you have the skills.

Since this post is long enough I will simply state that it’s now starting to sink in that we actually lived in 150 sqft with no plumbing in the woods for a year. holy hell! We need plumbing and more than 150 sqft, I understand that now. We don’t need it like it’s life or death but i’m no longer trying to live like life or death are my only two options. I’m also willing to admit that I no longer have a desire to move to the woods. I like cities that are under 100,000 people but I live in Dallas and honestly shit is fine out here too. It would be ideal if we could get a small city plot, have our tiny house and do urban homesteading. If we could do urban homesteading in walking distance of friends that would be epic but I’m not hearing anyone say any of that. Urban plots are expensive but right now i’m seeing the value. We’re talking about a 550 sqft floor space with a large loft. I can see us having a shed for Mark’s projects. I can see an epic amount of landscape design for beauty and function.

Besides a lack of money being an obvious derailer for this to come to fruition there’s other issues. I didn’t realize how good we had it zoning/permit wise on our last piece of land until til I started looking through permit requirements just in our area. There are so many requirement it’s hard to absorb it all. Plus “If you want to make god laugh then tell him about your plans”. right on.

 Have you seen this new tiny house TV show? I’m all over it! Mark doesn’t like it but i do.

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you guys know i’m crazy and nerdy so i’m sure this post will come as no surprise.

here’s a little bit of financial/fanatical history to paint a personal picture as to where i’ve been and where i want to go.
i grew up poor as shit by pretty educated people. at age 14 i got my first job which i kept for 9 months until i switched to another job and ultimately worked consistently from age 14-17. when i was 17 my partner in crime and i moved out of our parents places and got a sweet duplex together in the humble and hispanic neighborhood that we called “ave R” or “Our Avenue”. short after getting our own place we felt the only way to complete this new found freedom would be to quit our jobs (and somehow get rich to avoid ever working again). freedom guys, that was goal then and that’s the goal now. i had a few homeless vacations and lived in the woods without plumbing for a year all with the feeling of freedom in mind and trying to see where i fit on the spectrum of freedom in respect to lifestyle.

while freedom is a blanket word there are two means according to webster with a total of 11 variations on that. at a daniel vitalis (oh yeah, that guy….boring) said at one of his jazzed up talks that things are fucked when people think that free means “something for nothing”. so let’s think about all of these things, freedom; the quality, the state of being, the restriction and the privilege.

then add in a few more thoughts.
1. we only have the mental capacity to focus on and execute a limited amount of tasks so we can’t do (or undo) it all. “we can do anything but we can’t do everything” –
2. being aware that often perfect is often the enemy of good (which keeps us all stuck)

From age 17-28 I thought on varying degrees of consciousness that i hated money. the system of money is illusive and the system of slavery is dependent on making this making of cash-money. when i was 28 and we saved $24,000 in 18 months it was completely coming from the place of wanting to drop out of the system for a variety of reasons. i was really wound tight and thought dropping out would chill me out. when we saved the first $8,000 it was like, “i don’t hate money. my quality of life hasn’t changed and i’m the same person. having money and not having money is seriously a non issue to who and what i am, point blank.” money did impact how i was in the sense that i could buy quality things; paying local farmers for their goods, local artists for their tattoo art, donate a shit load of money and contribute to services that won’t get by with moral support. There was nothing bad about having more numbers on a dead screen saying “you rich, bitch!”. we never had anxiety about making ends meet, shit was good. but i was building up to drop out so there were limitations to that goal. limitations being that now 1.5 years after leaving our land we’re on food stamps and not even scraping by.

jumping into selling full time on ebay did 2 shifts in my thinking.
1. i love money. i never get a sale and feel defeated or unsatisfied. when i make $$$ i feel great because i love money.
2. all i care about is selling fancy, quality, expensive and/or rare shit. period. i used to hate fancy brand, not any more.

humble sales are a thing of the past, we’re over dumpster diving to make a living. dumpster diving food is still great but since trash digging is a bit more out of the loop for our lifestyle we’re paying for food too.

loving food stamps (which i do!) is an extension of me loving money. i think loving money is okay even if i don’t love having a standard job. i love money because it the glue that connects me to the things i love so clearly it’s more about the things than the money itself. if there was another magnet stronger than money then i’d go that route instead. getting things & having options is the root to my love of money. for me, money is freedom. it isn’t the only form of freedom and for most of us (debt) is far from freedom but it’s all in how you use money. when you love something you tend to treat it well. when i thought money was shit i pissed it away. now money is a cute little kitty or puppy that i want to take care of and grow and sail on to some rainbow filled, unicorn dancing future of love and freedom.

while i’m new to loving money i will admit that i don’t fully understand it. using mr money mustaches website as inspiration i’m back in the head space that saved us $24K except this time the goal is early retirement via saving ultra crazy amounts of money (instead of pissing it away).

Mr money mustache and his wife retired at 30 years old!!!!  TEN YEARS AGO! and it all makes sense. what they’re doing makes total sense to my nerdy brain. money is the only math i like. him and his wife had fancy jobs so they lived simply (on maybe $25k a year) until they were 30 years old. They had something like $700k (i’m new to their blog so i don’t remember) and found the 4% – 6% interest pays them $28k a year to live FOREVER. maybe this is totally boring to you but i’m beyond jazzed up just writing about this! we’re living on $18k (or less) so the idea of maxing and relaxing while the dollars roll in just seems like a maricle and it’s more than our bottom dollar lifestyle. and they own their own home and they are always investing the interest and have grown that hundreds of thousands of dollars….it’s all too good, i’m completely on board.

i would like to retire in 10 year or even be million times closer than i am today. i care about my future self. today i scrape by and have to think about where our money is at and making ends meet, i’m not stressed but i could do much better. it’s completely possible to gift my future self by getting my shit together. i actually think we’re in better shape to save now than when we saved our first $24k because we spent way too much of food, way too much on art, way too much on hobbies (well, not really but you know what i mean).

here’s my plan: mark’s taking off of next semester. well, maybe he’ll take just one class. we’re going to get balls to the wall strategic with selling on ebay. we’re going to take concrete steps towards “A to B” goals and see if we can surpass our current plateau. (hopefully we can afford to grow) we’re going to get on the grind and see where we’re at! we’re doing about $1k a month, not shit, so quote me in 4 months to see what our progress may be. in 4 months if we’re not seeing reward for our work then mark will get a temporary job before going back to school. i love ebay so i hope it doesn’t come down to me getting a job but i love early retirement more than ebay so i’m willing to walk away even though i’m hoping i will not have to.

freedom for me is working smarter now to sail on further, longer and easier later. saving them $579 per month and investing this savings would compound into about $102,483.00 every ten years. all i’m saying is that i’m seeing a more passive future ahead.

if you have a different plan towards freedom let me know!


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Tiny House and Land

so i’m about to explode, it’s been days since the stupid incident and i keep trying to talk myself into putting it to rest but it’s not happening. i’ve been confronted by this type of person before and while it’s super uncomfortable i’ve always left the situation with an uncertainty on how i could have done things differently. that uncertainty seems like a black hole and the black hole puts thinking about it on hold. however this time is different, i finally know what i wish i had said but i pretty much want to tell the whole story. I need to get it out me.

there’s a local chain that we’re talking marketing pictures for. i worked for the company 8 years ago when it was starting out and the founder/owner was still very hands on. because i was 22 at the time i was a little too transparent and talked loudly about train hopping and veganism, blah blah blah. for whatever reason the owner appreciated my transparency and we’d have ‘real talk’. i’ve cried in front of him more times than is appropriate, once due to a conversation about styroform killing the planet (embarrassing). my point is that he knows what to expect with me and consistently has honors my judgement. he’s a really really great guy. we’ll call him Mr Awesome.

so we’re taking pictures of a handful of customers who volunteered to participate in this project. we’ve taken a dozen pictures over the last few months. last week we’re in this strangers house taking his picture in his kitchen. his wife is home, his little kids are in their room and all is well.

after the picture he signs the photo release and as he hands it over he says “i just wanted you to know that you’re welcome to come to our church, we go to the watermark, i don’t know if you’re familiar…” i cut him off, “oh, yes, i’ve seen that church before” i have a big stupid grin on my face because i think what he’s saying is incredibly polite, i’m honored and a little surprised but then he picks back up. “i don’t know what your religious background is…” i cut him off again, “i’m 100% jewish” i say with my stupid grin. historically speaking a lot of christians assume my star of david is a satanic symbol so i figured he was thinking i was satanic and in need of something better or whatever. (when i was 22 and on the clock a christian woman told Mr Awesome that she thought it was interesting that he had a witch working for him then he connected the dots and clarified what my tattoo actual represented and i was indeed not a witch). so i say i’m jewish and he zooms pass that. he starts talking a million miles a minute, every run on sentence grows longer and there’s no space for me to get in and say anything. he repeats “we’d really like it if you came out to lunch with me and my family” and his invitation to church maybe 3 or 4 times. he told these run on sentences of stories about what god has done for his marriage and mentions his friends drinking problem, mentions something to the tone of what kind of man he would like to be but fortunately for god keeping him straight he’s a better husband. he quickly asked how long we had been married. when we said almost 5 years he pretty much said that we must be a struggling with our young marriage then went back to the vague reference of him being a inner creep, trying to relate his nasty desires to what he imagined we must all be going through. my face instantly sunk, i fucking had tears in my eyes. i could barely hear over the voices in head saying, “fuck do we cry?!? do not cry! wait, maybe crying would take him down a notch. no, fuck that, do not cry.” the chemicals in my body were saying “you’re being attacked” with large sirens going off in my head. everything he was saying felt too personal, i felt like i wanted no part of it.

it wasn’t purely what he was saying but how he was saying it. he was talking in a way that was specifically to ensure that he got all of his words and thoughts in my head and that i couldn’t politely say anything. for 15 minutes he talked straight, he didn’t ask us anything for the sake of getting to know us. he baited a few times with loaded questions to further his golden opportunity to talk at us. he didn’t ask how me and mark met, he asked how long we were married so he could segue into saying more of what he wanted to say. i could have said anything, truth or not, i meant nothing in the moment. it’s fucking disgusting to have a conversation where you know what the other person wants to hear, it’s a total set up conversation. why even have it?

if a stranger asks me very private and personal shit that is a complete red flag and my brain will sound the fucking alarm, “we’re under attack! retreat!”.

what are we going to talk about my sex life next? maybe my childhood?

in my heart with my values i know that “god” pretty much trumps EVERYTHING. there is nothing more personal and sacred (and universal and maybe even mundane?) than something as literately wholly as that and you think i want to talk about that with you? that doesn’t even fucking compute… but neither does wearing clothes and having a job but i’m beyound civilazed enough to play along. i understand what is really going on, i’m being talked down to and being talked at. i’m on the fucking clock and all i can think is “if Mr Awesome or my father or another “real” adult was here this conversation wouldn’t be on this level. this stranger would likely invite them to his church but it completely felt as though this guy was crossing boundaries that he wouldn’t do with someone he had more respect for.” that’s my assumption. i felt completely disrespected.

this guy thinks he’s pulling one over on me, he thinks that if he uses smiles and the polite gesture of inviting me to spend time with his family that saying nice things in disrespectful ways some how makes it okay. if you treat me like a piece of shit by talking at me then you acting like a nice guy is just manipulative. i don’t need your approval or your family’s company. that sounds like the worst fucking self serving idea ever. hell no.

just to get on a high horse real quick, this guy doesn’t know me, doesn’t know what special little relationships live in my heart. since he doesn’t know me he’s taking the high road of assuming that he has more answers than i do. and assuming he knows what my questions are in the first place. let’s see, he had answers for shitty marriages and alcoholism…if i was god i would have fired him in the moment, “take your shit and get out of here. she doesn’t even drink you asshole”. you’re not a palm reader, i’m not asking you to guess my sign. we’re talking about THE TRUTH, i don’t need your bullshit guessing games. go work on your marriage because i promise you’re using me to distract yourself from your own issues.

am i really all bent out of shape with this religious version of being tele-marketed to? no, the frustration is pretty much 2 things which have to do with me.
#1 in my head it feels like the person talking at me is silencing me but it’s really the voice in my head that says if i speak up i will be written off. if i say that i think something they’re saying is bullshit they’re just going to do a character assassination. it’s the devil in my that i closing my heart or some shit they may assume so i feel defeated, unlistened to and unheard then silence myself.
#2 some of the frustration i chalk up to the growing pains of the shoe being on the other foot. how many times i have i posted some stupid article on facebook as an indirect way to talk at someone. it’s belittling and i was doing it because i didn’t respect the person i was secretly hoping would see it. (again, embarrassing)

so here is what i’ve figured out:
1. i do have a voice. if someone is playing the run on sentence game i can either scream or walk away.
2. if someone is saying some crazy stuff to me vaguely about god and i can contest. i’m not contesting god i’m contesting every word in the sentence except the word god. i don’t have to be scared of people attacks and fear tactics. if i’m not credible to listen to then why act like we’re having a discussion?

if i could go back in time here’s what i would do, i would interrupt the guy and say this:
“no, you’re taking advantage of me & you’re belittling me by trying to just slide this conversation past me with out even checking in to see if you’re crossing any of my boundaries. No.”

if i’m in your house then the ball is in your court. if i’m on the clock and us speaking to each other is required as part of my job then you’re taking advantage me.

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