Happy Cow Day!

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Several years ago my husband was driving with both kids in the car. He asked my daughter what cows give us, and she said, “Milk, meat, love, and more cows!” It was (and still is) sufficiently cute that now May 4th is Happy Cow Day.

Photo by Amanda Kerr on Unsplash
Photo by Amanda Kerr on Unsplash

 

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Results and how they’re achieved

So here’s a question I’ve been rolling around in my head a bit:

Is a thing accomplished because of the preparations or in spite of them?

I’m not sure that’s exactly how I wanted to phrase that, so let me elaborate.

When it comes time to sell your home, you basically just need to find someone to buy it, sign some paperwork, exchange money, and the thing is sold. That’s essentially it. If you use a real estate agent, they may put it up on the Internet on the local home listing site, then another agent with a buyer comes along, the real estate agents hash out the details on your behalf, but the rest is the same.

But it is possible that you will clean the house first. Maybe you’ll put out throw pillows and remove all your personalization. Professional photography and videography are options to put on the Internet, and maybe you even have a website created just to list details about your home that will let people immerse their imaginations and find your home through Google instead of a Home Shopping Mall website (you know who I’m talking about if you’ve bought or sold a home in the last ten years).

So the question is: did your home sell because it was for sale, or because of all the prep work that happened (the cleaning, staging, photos, video, website, postcards to neighbors, etc)? If you just cleaned and staged your home and slapped it up on the local home listing site, would it still have sold? What if you had moved out first and then put pictures up of empty rooms? Would it have sold as quickly then?

I can offer this scenario in a book analogy, too.

If I write a great book and pop it up on Amazon and Smashwords, will people find it and read it? Assuming I have a great blurb, spot-on keywords, and an adequate cover, will it still sell? Do I have to also place an ad on Facebook, have a mailing list, curate a Pinterest board full of things to do with the book, schedule Tweets, and maybe create a book trailer for YouTube? Will the book sell in spite of the marketing, or because of it?

I don’t think the house sells because of the extra preparation, but I do think that extra preparation sells the house. Does that even make sense? Probably not to everyone, but I’ve seen it. Great homes don’t sell and there’s jack shit wrong with them. Moderate homes jump off the market because of the effort put in before and when they’re first put up for sale.

And in the other scenario, the book is going to sell to more people more quickly because of the ads, tweets, mailing list, etc because you’re putting it in front of more eyeballs. But, as a writer, your time is better spent writing another book. Once someone finds one spectacular book, they’re going to want more, and you want to have more to sell them.

All of this was to say: if you’re in the business of selling things, consider that the extra effort at the start may make the entire process move more quickly, or it may just keep you from making more sales.

Or maybe all of this was to say: damn it, I just did all this work to market your home and you went ahead and sold it in the first week on the market! Was that really necessary?

Answer: yes. Yes, it was.

Cooking (sort of) and Cleaning (sorting, really)

I made a dressing this morning that I had found online a year ago for a simple tahini dressing. The first time I tried it, I used hummus accidentally, but it was delicious. So I thought I would try it today actually with tahini.

I know what tahini is, I’ve had a jar for about a year (oops), and still I had a completely different taste in mind when I opened the jar. It actually is much closer to peanut butter than hummus in its flavor, and I have since learned that I was expecting garlic, not nuts.

I’m not going to overthink that. Neither should you. On with the story!

So I made the dressing – it’s just tahini, water, salt, and garlic powder. Turns out I didn’t have garlic powder, but I did have minced garlic in a jar that was still good, so I put that in.

I kind of measured everything, but not really. Not really because I have a drawer for all my large utensils, and it’s a damn mess. It barely closes. Things start out at the front and make their way to the back. Some things are broken and don’t work well. Other things are just…I don’t know. Weird.

So the dressing came out a bit…strong. Strong would be the nicest word. At work I cut a lemon and added a bit of juice and that just made it Lemon Strong.

I’m blaming this on the drawer, and winding the post back around to cleaning. I wanted to clean off my desk this week, but I think instead I’m going to clean out the damn large utensil drawer. My cleaning and decluttering plan is completely all over the damn place, but that’s because I am, too. I don’t have time to dump everything in the center of a room and spent an entire weekend getting everything sorted and put away. I have an hour here, or three hours there. I can clean off an entire shelf, or maybe just a drawer, and clean that one thing.

It’s going to mean that I’ll have to go back and redo the drawer at some point. Possibly more than once. I’ll find more large utensils in other hidey places and put them in the drawer, find it’s stuffed again, and have to fix things again. That’s what’s going on with the shelves right now, actually. Sometime in the past year, I already cleaned those suckers off. But then this weekend, I did it again. And then I saw other areas with more books. I’m going to end up doing that a third time, too.

Oh, for a week where I could just concentrate on cleaning, so I could make a dressing that doesn’t feel like I’m trying to turn myself into a garlic-breathing dragon.

If you missed the link before, here’s the recipe I tried: 3-Ingredient Tahini Sauce

I fixed a thing (a toilet)

Sometimes I am very disappointed with myself.

I am a strong, capable, smart, beautiful (gah, that’s still a hard one) woman, and I can do the things. I can do all the things if I needed to, but I have a fabulous husband who helps me with a lot of things.

And he’s good with house things.

This weekend, after the cats peeled away some of the caulking in our bathtub, he spent the few precious hours he had before going into work to recaulk it for me. When I asked if he could do it, and he’d done it before but did we have enough caulk left, he said yes, he’d done it before and it was AWFUL, but yeah, he could do that.

And he’s put in both of our toilets when they needed replacing.

And he knows how to tighten a pipe, and how to turn off the water in the house, and where to put the buckets when the ceiling leaks in the kitchen during particularly windy thunderstorms (we’re not talking about that).

So when the toilet off the kitchen got to the point where it would keep trying to fill after flushing, my husband figured out how to get it to stop. And then when it became a chronic issue, he taught us what to do (we had to pull up on the short arm just a bit so the floater thing would register the toilet was full).

And we’ve done that for probably the last year. The kids, too.

And our water bill keeps going up, and that’s a thing I have to deal with, but that’s not what this post is about so we won’t talk about that right now, either.

In the last week, even when we do The Thing to get the toilet to stop trying to fill, it works for a few minutes, but then stops working. Can you hear the loose change swirling down the sewer line? Because that’s exactly what it sounds like from my living room.

And I was like, Dear Hubby (DH – that’s the initials you’ll see me use), the toilet won’t stop filling even when we do The Thing. And he’s like, I don’t know how to fix it. I’m sorry. (Which is totally okay. I imagine it was less “I don’t know” and more “I don’t have time right now”.)

Erm. Well fuck. That needs fixing, I think to myself. I wonder what Google says, I thought.

Sure as shit (sorry-not-sorry for the language, folks), Google told me what to do. And because I’m a strong, capable, smart, beautiful (getting easier) woman, I went and fixed it.

Turns out, when your toilet fills and then the water keeps running in the tank, there’s a bar attached to the bobber that’s connected to the water line that feeds the tank. If your toilet is old it may be metal, but if it’s new it may be plastic. On my toilet, there’s a + cut out of the (plastic) head so, in theory, I could have used a screwdriver, but I ended up just turning it with my fingers. I turned it five or seven times until I could see that it was slowly moving up the plastic thread at the top and that the gaps at the bottom were changing. I did it and walked past the toilet once or thrice before leaving for work, and it stayed off. And I came home, and the toilet was still off!

I’m very excited.

I fixed a thing.

I’ll be honest – this is almost as exciting as the time when I was 15 and I disassembled and then successfully repaired and reassembled a VHS copy of Short Circuit 2.

(Oh, if you have a metal bar, you’re to bend it a bit for the same effect.)

…but wait, there’s more!

Why was I disappointed with myself, you may be asking. (Thank you for asking. I forgot I asked that question.) I was/am disappointed with myself because I didn’t get my ass on Google earlier to find my answer. Hell, I have one of those orange Home Depot books. It was probably in that. I’m disappointed because I didn’t even try to take care of the thing on my own. I just complained to DH and hoped it would get fixed.

I can rely on my husband, but I don’t have to rely on my husband. I can do these things! I’m actually good at these things, really. I like seeing how things work and are put together, and I really like it when the instructions work for me. I’m disappointed that I didn’t teach my daughter that she doesn’t need someone else around to figure out the things for her. It’s fabulous when you have someone like that, but she’s smart enough, strong enough, beautiful enough, and resourceful enough to get it done on her own.

I should have shown her that a while ago.

Here’s the article that showed me how to fix The Thing.

Shame

“You did this wrong.”

“This is wrong.”

There is such a huge difference in tone here for me. One makes me feel shame, the other opens up the possibility for gratitude to know where I may have gone wrong and open to fixing it because I don’t like to put out poor work.

I am careful to use the latter with my children, also going with, “I like to do this task another way because…” so it’s clear that I am not shaming them for not doing it my way. I realize my way is not the only way.

I feel shamed when I am told, “You are wrong.”

I have an opportunity to learn when I am told, “This should be done another way,“ or, “It should be done this way.“

I can’t believe I’m letting this eat me up so much right now.

I realized a moment ago that this would be a good chance to think about why I’m getting so upset over this. Was it really a personal attack? No. It was probably a word choice. I probably never entered their mind except as the person on the Reply end of that email. I am upset because I don’t like to be thought of as a person that makes mistakes.

But everyone makes mistakes. It’s just a thing that happens and we all do it and nobody is perfect.

It’s something for me to reflect on.

Hello, veg* my old friend*

Technically veg*ism (vegetarian/vegan diets) are not “old friends”. There were a couple weeks last year where I ate a mostly plant-based diet. I took a break from it to accommodate a major work event and never got back on the wagon.

But I did really enjoy it. And then this weekend I watched both The True Cost and Food, Inc. (Okay, I fell asleep during the last 1/3 of The True Cost – I was really tired. I’ll rewatch it.)

I am upset at the cruel and “disposable” treatment of the animals in the films. I am upset at the corporations that seem to only be interested in more money. I am disgusted by the lack of control we have to ensure the food we receive is safe. Not just healthy – safe. Safe to eat, safe for the environment – is it too much to ask to have food that we can be sure won’t kill us (allergies aside)? And I’m upset that so much clothing is being produced and then thrown away – especially items that have been donated.

What? I’ve been contributing to that!

So right now, I’m on a mission to be more mindful of what my family acquires in terms of food, clothing, and “stuff”. I will gradually be eating a more plant-based diet (but the odds of my family willingly coming along on that journey is very small). I can be mindful of how I wear my clothing, when and where I discard it, and how I keep it in good repair – the same for my kid’s stuff.

Both documentaries just fell in line with where my head is right now: I need less. I need less stuff so keeping my home clean is easier and so there’s not chaos everywhere I look. I need less negativity, whether it’s in the form of animal cruelty when my food was made or the negativity I feel when I look around my living room and see an inch of dust on the high shelves. I need less people trying to sell me on their newest “can’t live without it” ebook or program or Kickstarter.

And I need more love, more peace, more gratitude.

Veg*ism, I’m ready for you. I’ll even dust off the blender.

 

Charm-ing

Bad puns abound but I added a piece of a much-loved necklace as a charm on my #bujo and wanted to share.

Changing

I have found lots of great, small creators online over the past year or two that seem to be slowly turning into businesses only concerned with generating more revenue. I’m disappointed when my favorite bullet journaler or vegan lifestyle coach turns from videos on their interests to email campaigns with clickbaity titles and “deals” on their wares that are ultimately only designed to bring the author more money instead of bringing value to their audiences. It may have been designed to be helpful in the beginning, but by the time they’ve been through the marketing classes taught by someone else in the online sphere, it’s not helping anyone.

Maybe I’m bitter because after re-cleaning my shelves today, I found a lot of things from various sources that at one point seemed like things I couldn’t live without. A coloring book by a blogger, stickers and bookmarks from a charity competition, and books recommended by a class that I enjoyed, but won’t be choosing to read ever again.

I think maybe I’m angry at myself most of all for thoughtlessly giving away my money. I’m disappointed that I haven’t, until my 40th year, challenged the way I was raised by media to do what my friends do and buy what my friends buy because of the insinuation that there can be nothing worse than not having the newest toy that they have and being left behind with lesser goods.

So maybe it’s not the content creator’s fault for wanting more money and trying to get it. Heck, I want more. I want an income derived from my writing that will support my family and my retirement when that rolls around.

But I desperately hope I am never going to be a pushy newsletter kind of person. I don’t want to sell, I want to converse. I want to share and connect, not hook new clients around the neck with a long wooden crook.

I have good examples that I can follow and learn from. And I’ll tune out the pushy sales and pick up other channels and feeds that may be smaller and less pushy.

I’m done being sold to.

What I got rid of today (books)

I packed up about 2/3 of my remaining books. They filled five small boxes, and I have them out in my car so I can take them to 2nd & Charles to see if they’ll buy them from me. I figure about half of them will get picked up, and the other half I’ll need to put in their outdoor bins (or perhaps take to Goodwill, because I think all of the books have value).

I put one book completely out of commission because I couldn’t in good conscience rehome it or ask someone else to sell it. I feel good about that decision, and am grateful to have it off my shelves, and not on anyone else’s.

I kept books I want to read (fiction and nonfiction), books I love (same categories), books I’m keeping for a while because I think I should (and I’ll work on getting permission to get rid of a few of those, because I tend to keep things out of guilt), resource books that I don’t reference often but feel strongly about keeping, all my filled bullet journals and the gratitude/affirmation logs I kept before those, four card games, some stationery, and a full half-shelf of blank notebooks.

In this minimalism journey I’m going on, there will be lots of stationery, notebooks, and office supplies that I keep because I will use them and I am determined to not acquire extra in the next five years. I have so much it’s silly, but to be honest, it’s a good thing, too. I have always loved notebooks and journals, and I have always loved writing by hand. I will use and enjoy these items, and I hope to value them in new ways while I limit myself from buying more.

Lots of other things will be easy to give away. I’m not a clothes horse, so that’s easy. I have two good coats that I wear, and the remainder don’t fit. I have worn the same pair of earrings for at least the last ten years, and I have two necklaces that I love. The rest of my jewelry seems to be from my childhood, and I’m no longer attached to most of it. I have one pair of work shoes, a pair of walking shoes, and the rest don’t fit (oops – a trend).

The issue will be with everyone else’s stuff. I really hope (although there’s no sign of it yet) that my kids will be excited about how easy it is to keep my areas clean, and how much nicer our room will look, that they will start to follow suit. We can pick three hours on a weekend day and just sort anything.

I’m oddly excited about that.

Updated to add: I was right. They took almost four boxes of the six I went in with. I left a few of the older books in the free bins outside, and the rest I’m taking to Goodwill. There are some good romance novels in there and a couple resources that I think will be helpful to someone.

Stories

I got a story idea on the way to work today, but I won’t be able to work on it until tomorrow, unfortunately.

In the meantime, I found this lovely article (which is not new) about using Thank You instead of I’m Sorry. Immediately I thought of several ways I can use this right now to completely change the tone of a necessary conversation. I have it bookmarked (and posted here to share with you) so I don’t forget it.

So back to my story. Since I have transcription work that currently requires I use one computer that is not travel-friendly, I will be able to write to my heart’s content while doing laundry tomorrow. That’s good since there are frequently a bazillion interruptions in laundry doing. I will be productive and maybe even productive enough to get something published quickly over the weekend. Wouldn’t that be something?

Hint: yes. Yes, it would.