Unplugging.

Well, I’ve finally done it. I’ve been obsessing over the idea for well over a year at this point, and I finally woman-ed up and just did it.

I cancelled Netflix.

I cancelled Amazon Prime.

I cancelled WiFi.

My connection to the last of these will be terminated on the 15th of the month, in T-minus seven days.

Starting on the 15th of the month, I will no longer be a Netflix-binger, online-window-shopper, or internet-user in general.

At least for the foreseeable future.

At least until January.

Rather, I’m hoping I can make it that long.

Here’s the thing: my productivity levels at home su-uuuuck. Once I’m home, I’m basically done for the day. I turn on the TV, select a Netflix show, and promptly become a mindless zombie.

I can’t even be bothered to respond to texts; how dare they interrupt my solace.

I once read that a study was done on people who watched TV – they came out literally dumber than before the episode or binge or whatever. I don’t remember where or when I read that, but it has stuck with me for ages. And I’m probably imagining this to some extent, but I feel dumber lately.

When I was 16, I was working two part-time jobs and going to two colleges full-time. I was exhausted. But, like, a good exhausted. The kind you feel when you know you’ve used up every bit of energy your brain and body can produce for the day.

Now I feel bad exhausted.. pretty much all the time. The kind you feel when you have a mountain of to-dos and spend three hours binging Friends rather than completing even a single task. The kind you feel when you’ve been a zombie for so long that you struggle to get creative juices flowing, juices that used to flow freely and allow you to bang out a 5-page essay in 20-30 minutes.

EL. OH. EL.

Don’t even ask how long it would take me to write that essay now.

I was talking to a friend last night and he point-blank asked me if I was living any of the advise I freely give others about pursuing their dreams.

The answer was an obvious and awkward: “um, no..?”

And it was just the push I needed to finally get it together.

So I called Spectrum at 12:05 PM today, and cancelled my WiFi.

I’m hoping this exercise in unplugging will make me so. stinking. bored. that I actually want to tackle that mountainous task list.

I need fewer distractions and temptations to waste my life, and by getting rid of WiFi in my apartment, I’m getting rid of almost all of them.

Thanks to the recent declutter, I don’t own much in the way of entertainment. My books are purged down to just a Bible and 3-4 non-fiction books I’ve been meaning to get to for ages. My collection of movies is downsized to 3 – the Anne of Green Gables series. I have a handful of games and five partially empty notebooks. I’ve got an iPad, MacBook, and iPhone. Oh, and a keyboard.

All of these things are generally ignored in favor of Netflix or YouTube or window shopping on Amazon.

Getting rid of WiFi is getting rid of pretty much everything I do in my free time.

And this idea thrills me.

A world with no old habits to fill the time is a world of endless possibilities.

Who knows what I’ll do first.

I imagine I’ll catch up on sleep again, and maybe finally read those books. I’ll probably get outside more and call friends more and study the Word more. I’ll probably goof off on the keyboard and spend focused energy on developing my vocal range. Maybe I’ll finally get around to experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll go on more adventures to local museums or random far off places. Oh, oh – I might even become a consistent blogger (aaah ha)! After all, there’s nothing else to do.

Just to clarify for the nay-sayers: I’m not cutting the internet or entertainment out of my life entirely.

This should be obvious since my job is 100% an online gig.

Also, as I said, I have an iPhone which has data which means internet. And there’s no way on earth I’m giving up my GPS, the ability to check open/close times of businesses, or an opportunity to fact-check people in the middle of a conversation (because yes, I’m one of those annoying people who has to fact-check EVERYTHING).

I can even use the internet for other things if I should so desire, just not at home.

There’s a Starbucks with great indoor and outdoor seating areas and free WiFi less than a mile away. I’ve got a MoviePass membership (that will soon be swapped for the AMC membership because MoviePass just passed a bunch of new policies that are complete suckage) that I will use to enjoy the frequent theater experience. I have a DVD player and a library card. My iPad is already filling up with books I want to read, and my phone is overwhelmed with Podcasts I intend to listen to on long evening walks. I also have Ronnie, my delightful car that is more anxious to hit the roads than I am.

The point is: I want to make distractions harder to get to; I want to make them a reward, rather than my norm.

So here I go, starting my experimental mutiny of the internet. Wish me luck.

Unplugging.

Money Goals (This is real talk, y’all)

I’ve taken a look at my budget and spending habits for 2017.

And holy cow I suck.

Okay, so it’s not that bad. I don’t regret my 7 trips around the good ‘ol U.S. I don’t even regret the one to Canada (I tease, I tease). I don’t regret the car, or the books, or the clothes, but boy-oh-boy did I spend a lot of money on eating out. Like. A lot. Like. Um. Thousands of dollars.

What.

Even.

Here’s the thing, I struggle with committing to a purchase.. unless it’s food. Then I’m like – who needs money? “Gimme them P.F. Chang’s Gluten-Free Hokkein Street Noodles, no Meat please. Oh, I’ll take the Edamame appetizer, too.”

And every time I attempted a budget after becoming debt-free..

Well, let’s just say: I didn’t follow through.

So it’s time to get my act together again. After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to attempt a 5-part challenge for 2018. Lemme break it down:

  1. 30-Day Spending Freeze
  2. Live on $1,500 each month for day-to-day expenses
  3. Use the cash envelope system
  4. Get one paycheck ahead
  5. Only purchase 20 items or less that cannot be used up, and only if I’m willing to give up an item I already own to create space for the new one

It’s pretty simple, eh? Okay, if you’re anything like my mom, you’re probably like “wuuuuh???” about #2 and #5. Don’t worry, I’m about to freefall into detail.

30 Day Spending Freeze

A spending freeze, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is when someone stops spending on anything that is not a life necessity for a specific amount of time. For me, that time will run from January 2nd through January 31st.

I’m doing this for three reasons. One, I need to get past the “I just got rid of everything, so I get to buy stuff” stage of decluttering without doing any damage to my minimalist reputation. I want to break the habit of buying. Two, I want to break the habit of eating out and (hopefully) jump-start my weight loss goal (more on that later). Three, I want to use all remaining funds to build a cushion for my goal to get one paycheck ahead on bills.

The rules for the spending freeze are pretty simple: no spending money that doesn’t have to be spent. Therefore, dining out (groceries are needs, Chipotle bowls are not) and shopping (toilet paper is a need, new sheets are not) aren’t going to be an option.

$1,500 Per Month, Cash Envelopes, and Getting Ahead

I’m mainly doing the $1,500 challenge out of curiosity. In my ideal future, I’ll be self-employed part-time and doing whatever I want with the rest of my time. If I want this to be a thing, I have to learn how much I can cut my cost of living. I always thought that  $1,500 a month would be a plenteous budget and easily feasible as a minimalist. It’s time to challenge that theory.

I do expect spontaneous adventures (a day at the museum, a celebratory feast with my friends, etc.) to come up that I wasn’t able to plan for in my budget. But the $1,500 does give me about $100 of wiggle room for those events, so long as there aren’t multiple uh-oh-this-wasn’t-expected events each month.

With the rest of the money, I’ll be building my savings account, taking a couple of trips, and paying down my car.

Wait.. paying down the car?

WHAT?! RACHEL HAS DEBT?!

Yes. Yes she does.

After becoming debt free back in May of this year, I decided I deserved a new-to-me car. Lucy (my ’98 Honda Accord) had seen far better days and was beginning to struggle with day-to-day life. Enter Veronica (Ronnie), my smokin’ hot mama of a black 2014 Toyota Rav4.

I mean, yeah, my decision was not Dave Ramsey approved by any stretch of the imagination. I did it anyway. I expect to have it paid off in 2 years, and it’ll boost my credit score (which will come in handy when I’m ready to move into a new apartment in 2018 or 2019), and it has already allowed me to avoid having to rent a car on multiple trips. Lucy, babe that she was, was definitely not fit/safe for roadtripping.

Anyway, I’m like way lazy when it comes to tracking my spending (hence I can’t stick to a budget), so I’m hoping the cash envelope system (Dave Ramsey approved) will do that for me. When the money’s gone, it’s gone. I dunno. We’ll see how it goes.

The final way I plan to force myself to stick to the challenge is by getting one paycheck ahead. Once I’ve done that, I can automatically put all the money wherever it goes at the start of each month. That means I look at my bank account once a month, and then forget about everything but the cash envelopes after that. This may or may not be a good idea… I’ll, uh, let ya know.

20 Items or Less

I’m getting rid of a lot of crap. LIKE A LOT. If you could see the pile in my hallway and the pile at the bottom of my closet, you’d likely be horrified. But gosh my apartment is feeling swell. And I’m loving that feeling.

So I don’t want to reclutter it after I declutter it – ya feel?

PLUS, fewer purchases equals less spending.

And I’m a freak who likes to make unrealistic goals. If I don’t achieve them, who cares. If I do – whoa. I’m a friggin’ rockstar.

Anyway.. That pretty much sums up my minimalist money goals for 2018. How ’bout you? I’d love to chat money with you in the comments below. 🙂

Money Goals (This is real talk, y’all)

The Woman

Do you ever build fantasy lives in your mind? I do. All the time. It’s how I shut my brain up so that I can fall asleep. The act of focusing on painting a world in my mind calms the “you have to do this, this, this, this, and this, this, this….” side of my brain.

For a while, I thought I was a freak for this bedtime routine of cozying up in my pajamas, closing my eyes and telling myself a story with so many details that I could see and almost feel it. But thank JC! I’m not the only one. About a year ago, I found out that there tons of people like me, thank you Good Mythical Morning crew for restoring my belief in my sanity.

Anyway, there was one night about a year ago that I dived into my fantasy world and found myself in the following situation:

I was acne free and healthy (note the way I prioritized that – wow, Rach), had glorious long and healthy locks of hair, rocked a sweater dress and kimono and had kick butt high heels. I ran into my ex at a coffee shop and after a brief chat said “Listen, I must be off to my meeting with so and so, but this was nice.” before gracefully walking out the door and hailing a taxi – because I totally worked in the big city.

In that fantasy, I was literally The Woman.

Who is she? I’m so glad you asked!

She’s the woman we see walking down the street and, just because of her appearance, we imagine all sorts of things about her story. We picture her life from her incredibly successful career to her three wonderful children and handsome has-it-together husband.

She looks different for all of us, because what she actually is.. well she’s everything we wish we were. So for some, she a stylish world-adventurer and for others she’s a down-to-earth home maker. For me, it leans towards the former + plus a lot more.

When I first posted about this concept, I immediately came up with a game plan of who she is and how to become her. Since then, I’ve accomplished a lot.. and a lot has changed.

My first The Woman was a 9-to-5-worker who wears high heels on the daily, a U.S. traveler who occasionally indulges in other-country excursions, a downtown big city dweller who actively seeks out new adventures on the weekends, a college graduate with an ambitious exercise routine, and a black-coffee drinker who skips soda in favor of iced water with lemon. She had colorful girly clothes and was content with her life and though fully aware of her tendency to write run-on sentences, writes them anyway. 😉

Fast forward one year and I’ve accomplished a lot of that: I’ve been to several new cities and states, I live downtown (though in a small city), I’ve started school again and I dig iced water with lemon. I also learned that: I hate working 9-to-5 and heels are only great on perfect-weather days, I find drinking black coffee isn’t all that glamorous and soda is still a favorite, I hate wearing color and have learned to appreciate my black-white-occasionally-tan wardrobe, and I suck at exercise and active living.

It’s also amazing how much a year month week moment can affect your dreams.

Today, in this moment, I want to be The Woman who has her life’s purpose always at the forefront of her mind, who plays the cello so beautifully the heart can’t help stirring, who moves God with her prayers. I want to be The Woman who has been to so many places in the world, but doesn’t have picture proof because she lived in the moment and not behind the camera. I want to be The Woman who has memories and not things, whose worship inspires belief in people who never dared to dream of God, The Woman who speaks truth in love, who writes her heart and inspires action from her readers.

I want to be The Woman who dares to dream and pursue God in such a way that everyone calls her crazy and says that she is reaching too far and too hard.

I want to be The Woman who believes that impossible is a myth and will, without hesitation, go wherever God asks her and say whatever He tells her to say.

I want to be a lot of things. But what good is want if it’s not followed up with action?

So after a lot of thought and prayer, and a lot of scolding from JC (Jesus Christ) and confirmation from His kiddos, here is my new sort of plan. I say sort of, because God is always free to change the path I take and also because I really hope that someday I can add things like “get married” and “adopt a family” and “experience pregnancy” to my list.

Note: I won’t be updating this post in the future regarding where I’m at on the path to becoming The Woman, but you can follow my progress on this here page.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

THE NEW PLAN

Year One (2017):

  • Pay off remaining debt
  • Continue in school, working towards my AA in Human Services
  • Complete the German Mango Languages course
  • Walk/run a 5k (I’d like to run, but Lord knows I’m pathetic and walking is two million times as likely as running)
  • Finish writing the ebook on Chronic Illness, then self-publish
  • Visit Prince Edward Island with my grams
  • Begin fundraising and planning for Undignified Event 2018
  • Become a more consistent blogger and transfer to self-hosting

 Year Two (2018):

  • Buy a new (used) car with cash
  • Visit Alaska and 1-2 other new states
  • Buy a cello with cash (if my friend hasn’t come through by then with their offer to give me an old one for free) and start taking lessons
  • Finish writing my (I think) hilariously dramatic memoir and try to get it published through a more legitimate source
  • Save for first year of part-time Self-Employment as a blogger and full-time Ministry
  • Host Undignified Event 2018, plan and fund-raise for Undignified Event 2019

Year Three (2019):

  • Become Part-Time Self-Employed through blogging and go into Full-Time Ministry
    • Write to INSPIRE.
  • Take that month long, cross-country road trip I’ve been dreaming of for years and visit at least 10 new states (perk of it happening in Year Three- my kid sis will be old enough to go with me)
  • Graduate with my AA in Human Services and decider whether or not to pursue my BA in History (if yes, what era will I study?)
  • Host Undignified Event 2019, plan and fund-raise for Undignified Event 2020

Year Four (2020):

  • Go to Germany with my mom, which I’d say is a long-time dream for both of us
  • Possibly start BA in History, look for opportunities to join research teams and maybe even (dreaming big here) an archaeologist dig
  • Host Undignified Event 2020, plan and fund-raise for Undignified Event 2021
  • Start planning and fundraising for an International Undignified Event
  • Start writing a book about Undignified Event and everything I’ve learned about Worship over the years and try to get it published, bare minimum self-published

Year Five (2021 – 27 years young):

  • Continue saving for early retirement (goal: semi-retire by 30, fully retire by 40)
  • Host Undignified Event 2021, plan for Undignified Event 2022
  • Continue planning and fundraising for an international Undignified Event
  • Schedule a book tour from church to church, I want to inspire youth to dream big and work hard
  • Visit 12 new states, a minimum of one per month

*BONUS – Year Six (2022 – 28 years young):

  • Visit Hawaii and any other remaining states that I’ve never ventured
  • Possibly graduate with my BA in History and decide whether or not to continue on to my Master’s
  • Host the first Undignified Event International!!

What are your dreams and plans for the future? I’d love to know what The Woman looks like for you. 😉

The Woman