The Don’t Resolution

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Oh.

Here we go, again, into a new year pursuing weight-loss, budget-wrangling, perfection, idealism.

Here I go again, beginning the obligatory self-preaching routine: these are the things I need to do.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned: what I think I want isn’t always the prize I hoped or thought it would be.

Here’s what I’ve decided: it’s ridiculous to keep chasing the same carrot.

 

This year isn’t going to be the year I do the things I want to do.

This will be the year of not doing the things I don’t want to do.

 

I don’t want to wait.

I don’t want to deny.

I don’t want to worry.

I don’t want to dislike.

I don’t want to be difficult for any reason.

I don’t want to bow to unreasonableness.

I don’t want to scrutinize my shortcomings.

I don’t want to focus on the way things have been.

I don’t want to find out I should have or could have.

I don’t want to attempt to be something I never will be.

I don’t want to hold out anti-achievements as future possibilities.

I don’t want to accept this is all there is to here and now and forever.

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Quote for the Week:

It’s ridiculous to keep chasing the same carrot

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Don’t Outsmart Your Common Sense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcI15ose120

Don’t Miss This: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

Live Like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9TShlMkQnc

Goodly Abandon

For the greater good, I’m going to abandon the condo crises (plural) for a few days.

Mostly because I can do nothing about being stuck; partly because I’ve been told I’m starting to look like Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat has been internetly credited with obviously unreal verbalization of issues scarily close to my heart. While I find her amusing, and adorable in a weird way, I certainly don’t want to be permanently associated with an unusually high level of grump. Even though, admittedly, my recent level of grump has been unusually high.

It’s easy to ask, over and over, “Why Me?” I’m not amused by the “God only gives you what you can handle” rote. I think there’s been a whole lotta name confusion. I theorize my name has made it onto the “little tests” list one too many times. I supposed that’s what I get for changing my name so many times.

It’s easy to believe we have been abandoned; that we are alone. It’s infinitely easier to feel this way during a forceful holiday season. We abandon good sense. We over-spend; we over gift, we over please. Lineal, I cannot image Mary and Joseph not feeling abandoned. Why would God not have a room saved for them? Why didn’t someone last-minute cancel a reservation or change a plan to make way for a comfortable evening before an uncomfortable birth?

Perhaps our view of abandonment in context of negativity isn’t all there is to say. Moses was abandoned. Laid down in bull rushes, carried to greater care and cause; a life redeemed. Our view of abandonment as negativity isn’t all there is to say. Holding on is only a precursor to letting go, somewhere between Moses’ “Let My People Go” and that song that even those of us who have not seen the movie cannot ignore.

My Let-it-Go list will never see paper. I’ve heard its cathartic, but I can’t go there. I should have let some things go a long time ago.

I enjoy art as a consumer and creator, despite the fact that 15 years of creating and tweaking the same design, has given the same result year-after-year. Steadily unsuccessful at craft shows, I thought my luck would change if I wasn’t standing there like a nervous ninny hoping to make enough to cover the cost of the table. I thought I’d lucked out when there was interest and a generous offer to set them alongside other creations. It was disappointing that only 3 out of 51 sold, and that the plain, brown-paper hatbox I meant to decorate more than a decade ago remains crammed full of unchosen pieces.

There’s a put-off that’s been stress-listed for months; falling lower and lower, not even warranting a check box after so long. Weighing every little task against sleep, I’ve abandoned hope, and so much more. December’s Art Abandonment theme popped up in my feed three weeks ago and made me smile.  Noted and forgotten.

It passed by again today. Starry, Starry Night re-played, conjuring Don McLean, VanGogh, and painful artistic poignancy. It’s not unusual to love the things we create. The disappointment begins when these things do not love us back.

It’s important to pay attention when a blank mind begins to buzz, repeating until understood, waiting for that click of a moment, turning into “I know it’s in there… exactly what is needed.”

Today is my first day of goodly abandonment – a simple thing that could make a spirit bright.

They say timing is everything. I certainly hope so.

 

Quote for the Week:

It’s not unusual to love the things we create 12 23 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Positive Abandonment: http://michaeldemeng.typepad.com/art_abandonment/

Where to Find Good Stuff: http://www.artfaircalendar.com/

Let It Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk

 

 

 

Dear YouTube

Thanks to you, YouTube, the renovation of one tiny bathroom seemed like a workable solo project. A few simple prep steps, and I’d be on my way to easily saving three hundred dollars off a last-minute quote that came in at half the near $6,000 price of two others. Thanks to you, I could have what I wanted within a 10 x 10 space and within my budget. I got glittery-eyed when I realized I would not have to decide which elements of condo repair to put-off indefinitely. I bought in.

It’s not like I was going in with my eyes closed. Demolition in an unsafe environments, covered in Tyvek suiting, a construction helmet, steel-toe boots, long pants, safety goggles and working in 100 degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity had me envisioning November’s delightful little cool, easing into Michigan winter as a blessing. No sweat required, and even if I happened to break one, it wouldn’t come close to the New Orleans soakings post Katrina.

Thanks to you, YouTube, I gathered enough I-can-do-this confidence to tackle removing 1978 tackiness. Thanks to you, I knew I had to know what was underneath it all. Obviously water-soaked cabinet bottoms, the view from the basement up, cracked tiles and chips in the steel tub forewarned of scary issues that were better known than un. Scenes from The Money Pit and Mouse Hunt had me terrified of stepping into a fall scene.

Fears rallied commitment; commitment rallied knowledge. Knowledge decided YouTube would be the way to go. Numerous DIY tile removal blips demonstrated quick tap-taps scoring and popping off tiles in rapid succession, no special tools required. Any old putty knife and mallet would do. Did I mention with ease? Because, truly, YouTube, your guides were perfect and thorough, promising ease of removement as if life were a PG rated Disney movie, and wearing a ball gown would only aid my efforts.

Less than a dozen tiles in, my YouTube visions crumbled, unlike my walls. There was no firm tapping to score grout. Full blown arm and hammer swings sent miniscule shards flying, caused flint-arcs, smoke puffs and concern. Somewhere around a dozen and half down and three hours later, the putty knife gave up. The handle withdrew, but a major piece of flimsy metal remained lodged behind another stubborn tile, leaving the tool with some wicked curved edges and sharp points I theorized would make the goings easier.

My dear YouTube, the recommended rubber mallet scuffed up the neon turquoise walls a bit when I tried to come in at a closer angle, or when I full-out missed the shortened putty knife. I rarely missed, though. I mean, before the mallet head bonked me in my head and the handle flew past me in trajectory. It was a rather old mallet. I’m estimating its demise at 40 years or so.

After four hours, according to YouTube time, I should have been much further along, and not nearly tool-less. Resolute in non-deterance, YouTube savvy once again, proved not every demonstration employed a rubber mallet, and that the removal of tile is truly a cinch. My ancient ball-peen and I continued pounding brittle, yet indestructible, porcelain. Imagining life without the use of the top two digits holding the smooshed plastic putty knife handle I’d been less-surface-area-with-which-to-hit-the-target miss/whacking out of sheer won’t-quit stubbornness called an end to evening one.

Quote for the Week:

The smallest thing can be our biggest challenge

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Every Tile Was Like The First: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ML3wo4vYPI

Comedic-born Fear: https://www.google.com/search?q=gif+from+money+pit&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS483US483&espv=2&biw=1600&bih=775&tbm=isch&imgil=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%253BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.tumblr.com%25252Fsearch%25252Fthe%2525252Bmoney%2525252Bpit&source=iu&pf=m&fir=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%252CRqHT1-5NDap3kM%252C_&usg=__WFryHpZnZPiOcOR9JiSFL3xzUF4%3D&ved=0CDEQyjc&ei=Vc2QVPrHE9LZsATfvoGIBQ#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=rRk-Xf0S3tOxhM%253A%3BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252F38.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_lp5puciWMi1qze9ylo1_500.gif%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.tumblr.com%252Fsearch%252Fthe%252Bmoney%252Bpit%3B500%3B256

 

Better, Pickles

While most people are wrapping up presents, wrapping up the year, I have found myself a good way off-cycle. Having already started my new start in October, I missed the thankfulness kick-off. With Christmas racing up, I’m far-behind in spiritual matters.

Charity in passing has been this season’s theme. My regular yearly list is lacking check boxes, but I’ve been catching opportunities here and there. Food Gatherers were in the right place at the right time last Saturday. A $10.00 donation seemed just about right. I planned to get cash at check-out, but as I walked the aisles with my coupons and sales flyer, I decided to get personal.

I’m not actually sure how the organization prefers to receive their donations, but I choose to shop. I shopped as budget-follower, as if I were shopping for my own holiday table. I shopped as if I were the one who longed to set a celebration table, as if I would be beaming at the gathered, providing the feast.

$10.00 wasn’t going to make that happen. Doubled, there was possibility. There are foods that always speak to me of holidays. They’re not the normal ones, or the big ones; they’re the indulgent ones. Mini gherkins, black olives, pickled beets, marinated mushrooms; specialties passed over in favor of basics. I settled on smaller versions of olives and pickles, at 99 cents and $1.50. Per placard, the cost-per-ounce for less was more. It did not make economic sense, but spending less meant buying more.

The canned vegetable aisle required study. Each brand featured a special; none of them seemed to be the same kind. Fiesta corn, red beans, sweet peas with pearl onions, green beans made it into my cart. $7.00 in, around the corner pasta and tuna were pulled. 2 bags of macaroni at 50 cents each and one can at $1.00. Tomato sauce was 1.75. Just under $10.00, I had nothing like a feast.

Pre-made, shelf-stable pie crust and a can of fruit filling won over dough mixes and pumpkin, which would have required eggs and oil, milk and spices. I chose cherry for its festive red. Those two items took up as nearly much of my budget as the first ten, but I wasn’t going to put them back.

Packaged potatoes, the just-add-water type were a compromise. Fresh fruits and vegetables spoil. It’s as simple as that. One envelope seemed so small, so I started to reach for a second. A different brand’s ‘buy two, get one free’ caught my eye. I took in three traditionally butter flavored packets at $2.00 total.

$1.63 shy of my budget, I realize I was off-cycle again. Meat and poultry, fresh or frozen, are also a short-lived, requiring refrigeration. Ham in a can would do. Don’t think for a second that I was able to find a $1.63 ham in a can. The smallest and lowest priced was $5.49. I scanned the package knowing the ingredient list would be the same as the other higher priced offerings. Debating with my self is practically a sport, these days. I pulled out my contractor estimate philosophy, and decided a ham is a ham much as a fuse box is a fuse box. Don’t need the fanciest, just need it to perform.

$3.86 over budget. I could have re-shelved the un-holiday-like tuna, one bag of pasta, and the fiesta corn. I could have slid the gherkins back into the display. But, I couldn’t bring myself to. Instead I grabbed another can of indulgent olives, thinking, “why not?” Closer to $25.00 isn’t going to break me any more than $20.00.

I imagine the volunteer sorter wondering what kind of person buys frivolities for a food pantry. It’s one who doesn’t think giving involves only basics; one who believes special is important, too. I realize the likelihood of my festive planning unit materializing in one home as a romanticized Norman Rockwell feast is slim.

I just hope that little-bitty jar of pickles makes someone really smile.

Quote for the Week:

To call it charity 12 09 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

1 Carrot Way: http://www.foodgatherers.org/

Pickle Timeline: http://www.nyfoodmuseum.org/_ptime.htm

Giving is Good, and Good for you: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you

The Most Reliable Failure

It started in October. Offers and counter offers, inspections, concessions, estimates, paperwork, more paperwork, more paperwork. At the time it seemed it was all moving too slowly. So slowly that I had plenty of time to think, and rethink. Pros and cons constantly circling for landings were scrawled everywhere: sticky note, paper pads, the electronic note pad on my phone, texts and emails and voice memos from me to me. What about this? What about that?  What if, what if, what if?

More than once, I was ready to walk away. Just as many times, I was ready to run. The more I learned about the place, the less appealing it became. The more I had to say, “I sent that to you last night,” or yesterday or the day before, the less confident I became in my team. I didn’t get answers fast enough. The processing wasn’t fast enough. The details weren’t always clear. The pushing and pushing back was wearing. Slamming the door was constantly at war with the notion that playing nice would be a better idea.

Honestly, I played nice. I promised myself when this was all over I would explain everyone else’s shortcomings to them… in great detail. When it was done, after one final week of “is this or is this not going to happen,” it happened. Now, I know it’s normal to get cold feet. I wasn’t having cold feet. I was deep frozen. I was also 100% sure that I would have an easy out.

Ann Arbor is an interesting market. Housing is at 90% making it difficult for those whose lives swing with the academic schedule: schools of professorial and doctoral fish flood the spring and fall markets. The condo was offered off calendar. I tried a search about a year and a half ago, during spring flip. Bidding wars and $20K appraisal gaps eventually wore me down. After enough frog-leapt-over-mine offers, the searching stopped. I managed to find a rental in the neighborhood, and talked myself into a two-year lease, provided the carpet was replaced. I offered to pay half. The rent went up by a reasonable amount for half the carpet, then on move-in day, I realized, the landlord had only replaced half the carpet.

All summer 2014, I thought about my lack of outdoor space, and envied the porches all around me. Especially the kitty corner one, the one with a privacy fence fully in view from my couch. I spent many early morning weekend walks wandering through the commons, hoping to see for-sale signs, knowing I was locked in for another 6 months and not truly believing I would win in the next swell season, either.

I saw a sign early on a Sunday morning loop. Open House – kitty corner, with the privacy fence fully in view from my couch. I jumped on the wagon, started it in motion only to be met with no call-backs and “I’m really busy.” Obviously, I got what I thought I wanted. Until I learned what I would get, and the back-peddle plan began. Confidence in trouble comes easily to me. Probably because trouble comes easily, as well. Still coping with the frustratingly slow forward process, despite my ever-growing reluctance, I always had that back-of-the-mind comfort that comes with knowing the market and at what point the deal might fail to my advantage.

The most reliable failure would be the appraisal. The huge gaps of spring 2013 might be less in 2014, but it’s a rarity that an Ann Arbor property appraises for more than offer or asking. That would be my final line; that would be my back-away.

I often joke about unluckiness. In the realm of normal, it would be an immensely coveted situation to find, as a buyer, that appraisal has valued at more than cost. Valued at more than offered. Valued at more than asked. My stop-action rip-cord had failed, and the 30-year mortgage was mine. Without a doubt, the weirdest unlucky ever, was walking away from the closing table with equity.

Quote for the Week:

Value is as changeable as our minds

 

Enjoy the Week’s Discovery Links:

Walking Away from Home Purchase: https://www.discover.com/home-loans/blog/facts-about-walking-away-from-a-home-purchase-contract

About Equity: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/home-equity/what-home-equity-debt-is-1.aspx

Home Rate of Return Calculator: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/home-rate-of-return/