Category: Financial Independence


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

 

 

 

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*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

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

anarchist kitchen tiny house and land

Tiny House and Land

1 I am The-Brightest-of-Stars

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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!

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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.
http://www.fyi.tv/shows/tiny-house-nation

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1 I am The-Brightest-of-Stars

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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” – http://affordanything.com/about/
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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