do you have a friend or loved one who has lost a parent or a child? Here is something you can do.

NEW – Introducing my newest Sacred Hellos remembrance greeting cards 

There are those days that come up; Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, perhaps a wedding, birth of a child or a deceased loved one’s birthday.

These are days where it would be so nice to have a card to send to the family member or friend who is desperately aching for a parent or child that they miss.

These cards are the perfect fit for those occasions.  Letting that person know you are holding them in love, for that specific day and all days. Letting them know you know and see them and their love, their pain. Acknowledging what they are going through without having to come up with the words yourself.

Do you know someone who has recently lost someone close to them?  Get this card, then set a reminder for 51 weeks from now, or for the anniversary of the passing to give that card to them. You’ll be prepared and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Click on the picture for more information or to see closeups.

For the parent missing a child who has passed:

   

For the person missing a Mother –

   

For the person missing a Father –

   

You can click on the pictures above or go to my etsy site to see all the cards. These cards to not mention a specific holiday so they are perfect for any day that you know your friend or loved one could use a little extra love.

I love living in a world, were even when we go through loss and hard times we can be surrounded by friends, co-workers and loved ones who take a moment to let us know they’ve got our backs, are holding us in prayer and surrounding us with love through those especially hard days.

Please share this post or a card link with anyone you know that would love to have this share with a person in their life.  Thanks,

could this be contentment?

 

I have a confession to make.

I have been experiencing something. It’s snuck up slowly.

I’ve tried to deny it, rename it, question it.

But friends, I believe it’s called Contentment.

Sunset 30 miles north off the coast of Cuba, taken this February.

After years of believing that I always have to be moving forward, growing, taking on more and more.  I’ve reached a place where I finally trust that no, right now for me;  I want to sit and bask in this time.  I don’t want to expand the time I put into my business, I don’t want to be involved in large numbers of art shows and networking and online classes.  I don’t want to join a bunch of mom groups.  I love my life right now.

After years of diligently looking at all my commitments and areas of stress, many which I wrote about in my ebook Finding myself in the Moonlight, I have added in breathing room and space into all areas of my life.  I’ve learned to trust myself more than ever before.  We’ve busted our asses for years and finally gotten to a financially free place where the only debt we have in the world isour home.  It’s truly freeing.  After years of having my head down and checking off an endless list of to-do’s I finally feel like I am in that place I prayed for so many times.

 

I’ll never stop learning (in fact I’m listening to a TED talk right now while typing this) but what I am getting better at is looking at classes and programs and knowing that now is not the time for most of them.  I’m still growing and learning and in fact my faith and spirituality is deeper than ever. Prayers and meditations and time in nature have all helped me to feel a contentment that I’ve never felt before. 

I share this to offer hope.  This may surprise you but I’m rebellous to my core.  I’m a rule following rebel I suppose.  I love to do good, I love to find good in others… but… the  minute society or people tell me that something should be done a certain way.. I question it.   It works though; I’m the happiest person I know.  I don’t feel like I need to do things the way everyone does them.   We all have areas we feel that pressure from. Here are some of the choices I’ve made that work for me (us) that have lead me more towards contentment:

  • moving 40 miles from the cities to a property where we can grow food, embrace nature, have a workshop to build and create in.  We are tucked into the trees and have privacy and also the rejunating energy of nature.  We get a whole floor to ourselves and the kids have their own bathroom, all in our cozy little 1500 sq. foot house.
  • getting out of debt.  We paid off $48k in just under 2 years (you can read about that here).  What that has done to our lives and the peace it has brought since though has blown my mind. We recently were able to take our kids on a week long cruise to Belize and also do a small road trip after we got off the ship and see the Everglades and visit a state park in the Florida keys.  The best part; we paid cash for the trip. It is so freeing to be able to plan and save and pay for a trip like that and come home and still have money in a savings account.  We worked so hard for so many years saving every penny, selling things and praying that I share that to say all that sacrifice was worth it.  
  • Homeschooling our youngest. Our oldest is in public high school and she thrives and loves it, I was faced last year with a decision to homeschool our youngest.  While I admit I wouldn’t prefer to have homeschooled my oldest, each kid is different and it has been the right decision to homeschool our little guy. And we LOVE it.  Just this morning in fact, sitting with him and watching him learn to read.  It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve gotten to do in my life. Teaching him about living from the heart, music and the arts, endless time for science and real life experiences.  I am so incredibly grateful for this time, piecing together a curriculum and resources so I can connect him with learning opportunities that help him become the best whole health and knowledgeable person he can be.
  • Our 16 year old just got her driving permit and I’ve had a similar feeling teaching her to drive. It’s so special to get to witness and be a part of that growth. In a world where everyone’s first reaction is to go to the fearful side of this time, and yes of course that part is there too; I’m choosing to really honor the blessings that this stage of life is bringing for her and us.
  • This past holiday season I did something that I had never done before.  After years of doing holiday art and craft shows and in person shows, hauling all my work from place to place, getting sitters and paying entrance fees I turned them all down and trusted this little voice inside that knew I could do it my own way. (At least for now, with kids at home I have found myself losing interest in shows. There is only 1 that I love where the people and atmoshpere and crowd are so amazing that I may keep doing it, we’ll see – lookup 4Angels boutiques if you’re curious)   Instead I offered very specific items online including remembrance ornaments and sold hundreds of them. I also got a chance to connect with small groups of people in online artwork parties. During these parties I was able to show videos where I got to explain the deeper meaning behind my artwork pieces and really hear people’s stories and what exactly what people around them were going through and connect them with the perfect gift they could get for those they love.  It was such a rewarding and special set of parties and I got to meet so many beautiful women. Plus I got to do all of those from my home on my own schedule. 
  • January 1st, I deactivated my personal Facebook. I was finding myself having underlying levels of guilt, after cutting my friend list from over 600 to around 250 that helped a lot. Ultimately though I had to get really real that me being at home and having endless access to “check in” was costing me many minutes once I added it all up.  Now after 2 months after being away I can see that the part I was really reluctant to admit to myself was that there was a continuous feeling of static in the back of my mind. Anywere I was, anything I was doing; I always felt like there was something else I was supposed to be doing.  I don’t know if everyone feels that, but for me stepping away has allowed me to feel so present in my day to day life.  At some point I’m sure I’ll get back on but for now it feels like the right choice for me.
  • I don’t do networking groups.  Or mommy groups.  Here is what I know about me. My go to emotion is guilt. I really want to honor and connect with people once I let them into my world.  What can seem like a fun one time, meet new people networking experience for most people leaves me feeling flaky and unreliable after the fact.  I connect with people and then within my daily life I have no room for follow up.  I am not available to do follow up coffee meetups, business meetings in person or mommy activities.  So instead I’ve chosen to honor this time and know that someday I may want to dive back in and network and meet more people and really give it my all then I will do so with joy. For right now though I feel fulfilled with those in my life and the simplicity of our day to day.
  • I don’t do phone calls or in person meetings if at all possible.  Artwork is visual and for me sharing information via email or online works best.  I am choosing right now not to do a ton of in person events.  What I have found also is on my deeper, more intuitive based artwork projects I attain better results if I don’t have phone conversations with my clients.  That my sound strange but I hate the phone. I don’t like talking to new people on the phone and it drains my energy.  So knowing that I choose to keep my internal energy high and my intuitive energy at it’s deepest level by honoring them.  This will change at some point, but for me right now with a kiddo in tow and a routine we stick to it is what works best for me.
  • Choosing to drive used cars.  We don’t do car payments and all our cars (4) are paid for in full.  I was especially glad the other night (when I hit a deer a few hundred yards from our driveway) that I don’t worry about scratches or other life things that seem to happen out here. For the record the deer jumped back up and was fine and so was my car.  Someday we’ll get some nicer cars but for now, this works great for us.  I’m grateful that Bruce knows how to fix cars and keeps them all running.  I think the biggest thing has been to disconnect our feelings of self worth from the cards we drive. Yes, of course it is fun to drive a super new, decked out car and we had fun last year when we rented a car for a weekend and chose a new BMW suv. It was really fun.  But I don’t feel like less of a person because our cars are from both the 90’s and early 2000’s.  I actually feel great pride and think of the other things we have been able to do with that time instead of having to spend it making money to pay for upgraded cars. Right now, I prefer more family time.
  • Minimalism – we have gotten rid of so much extra stuff over the last few years.  6 months after getting married and combining our lives (stuff) my mom passed and over the next couple years our garage filled up with furniture, decor, clothes and candles that were hers.  It’s taken almost a decade but we finally feel like we have just a few really special things that help me remember her but don’t need to have our whole house stuffed with things.  We spend less time organizing, cleaning and moving things which has freed up not only time but also energy for the things we really want to spend it on.
  • We don’t have cable. We have a roku with netflix and amazon and a couple other channels.  We don’t dvr things.  So yes, we miss things that are on tv quite often.  Years ago I spent so much time watching tv and scheduling out what things would be recorded and learning about new shows but now it has faded.  But somehow I’m still okay.  This past year I’ve bingewatched; Heartland, Hart of Dixie, Hallmark’s Home is where the heart it and a few other shows that everyone else enjoyed years ago.  I’m okay with that.  They are coming into my life at the perfect time for me to really savor them and enjoy them.
  • Diminishing toxic relationships.  We can’t always completely avoid people who bring negativity into our lives but I strive to eliminate unnecesary drama or people I don’t trust.  Today I don’t have to spend much time or energy on this but years ago I had a list of people in my life who I knew I needed to move on from. I send them love and I chose to limit or cut them out out completely and it’s been life changing.
  • We talk in the language of love.  If you where a fly on the wall in our home you would hear my 6 year old talk about how his heart is exploding with love. How he happy cried in the car yesterday while looking at the sunset and again last night when we all sat on the floor working on legos with him.  We talk about our love, what eachother mean to us and share gratitude fr
    eely. Even while having a 16 year old daughter I love that we can talk so openly and validate feelings, our intuition and have worked so hard to make our home a peaceful respite in contrast to a sometimes crazy and stressful world. 

I share some of these things because I know so many people do fill so much of their day’s doing things they “should” do instead of really allowing themselves to schedule in breathing room, space and peacefulness.  We want to make the people around us happy and sometimes we let the rule over that little feeling in our gut that knows something doesn’t feel like it fits anymore.  Give yourself permission to honor peacefulness as much as success and knowledge in other subjects.  It will make every area of your life better.  I’ve experienced the death’s of loved ones, a divorce, multiple moves, and defining and developing my business. Then later marrying a wonderful man and making choices that move me closer year after year towards a life I really connect with (including working really hard to un-learn so much I’ve been tought growing up.) That journey has led me to now has given me this gift of a chapter of contentment.  I feel so grateful, even grateful for the really tough times that make me even more grateful each day for good times.  I know life will be full of ups and downs and times where I can’t wait to be around people and others where I again crave solitude and quiet, but for now in this moment…  it feels so right.

Sending you all love!

The nitty gritty – behind the scenes how to pay $48k in debt off in 2 years

35things_debt

So hopefully you’ve read my other post here talking about why and the general how we got out of debt.  Let me be clear that when I say out of debt, I am referring to all debt other than our house.  Our house is a little further down the list but we wanted to take a moment and give reverance to this moment.  To paying off $48k in credit cards, principal on the house, school fees, cars and more.

Let me be really clear up front.  We busted our asses, worked a ton, sacrificed in every area we could.  But let me also say, we’ve never been happier, we’ve never felt more proud and we feel aligned with what is important in life.. not stuff but eachother.

For me saving was easiest if I could figure out ways to save behind the scenes or ways that other than a one time activity I wouldn’t have to change my daily behavior too much.  Progress came from places we could save money or places we could make money. Here are a few of those:

  1. We cut the cable.  Over the last 4 years this has saved us over $4,000.
  2. We found the lowest, most reliable internet provider we could.  We signed up for a year to get a promotional rate. Then I’d call back after our bill went up and ask nicely if they could still honor their promotional rate.  They did.
  3. We went cheap on cell phones.  We switched to Virgin Mobile and bought middle of the road phones.  No iphones for us, no phones with payment plans. Our phones could do the basics but nothing fancy, not too many apps. It was hard on me for my business and may have not been the best business move but I had to make a sacrifice here so I just went for it.  Now upgrading to a little nicer phone is on my list.
  4. Cloth diapers.  When our youngest wes little we bought a large batch of cloth diapers. They saved us hundreds of dollars a year.  I loved them. I got into a routine with them and since I worked from home while being there it was pretty easy to stay on top of them and have them not be too big of a deal.
  5. We cut back on eating out.  We cut down to $30 a month total for 4 people.  This is what worked best for our family.  Since I am home both with the kids and working I am able to make dinner each night.  This left eating out for only when we really were strapped for time or energy.   We said no a lot to eating out.  We had to be okay with being left out for a couple years, and after awhile to not be invited much to dinners.
  6. I made homemade toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners and more.  I found a diy version for everything I could.  I loved also that I knew exactly what was going into each product so I trusted their safety more and it saved us money.  Once I spent the time making these projects the time actually spent using them was identical to anyone else. So it was a one time investment of my time and researching and many share the same few products so buying them was justified even more.
  7. I sewed reusable cloths for our household.  We have these everywhere.  It’s helped us to go down to only 1-2 rolls of paper towels a year and we never buy tissues.  I would buy flannel baby blankets and wash them, then cut them apart and sew into rectangles.   dscn3970
  8. We bought a hair cutting clipper set.  I watched some youtube videos and learned how to cut my hubby and son’s hair.  This has saved us about $20/month and the time and energy of going to a salon.  I’ve cut my own hair too for the last 2 years and mostly done Sky’s.  Being a teenager she’s a bit more picky so she used some of her work money to got get some highlights and a cut a couple times a year.
  9. We bought most clothes from consignment stores or garage sales.  With the exception of a couple things for me and a few things the kids and hubby got for gifts, I became a garage sale queen.  This works especially great with a young boy.  I’ve also gotten myself barely worn champion and nike tennis shoes for a couple bucks each. Once I even found really nice Merrill dress shoes for a dollar. Amazing!
  10. Patience – there have been many times we’ve wanted something right away, especially after moving into a difference house.  The best and hardest thing was to be patient where we could. There are so many times that we can’t control what things are needed so anytime non vital things were added to our list we tried to keep our eye out for sales or checked online sites like the FB groups or craigslist.  A perfect example was this summer. The weather was getting hotter and my art studio would have the sun beating in it all morning and almost be unbearable. This would then cause the rest of the house to be hot.  So we knew it was time to get some blinds for that wall of windows and take down the super chic zebra fabric I had nailed over them.  We were actually on our way to the store to buy the blinds when there was a garage sale near our house.  We got out and found a ton of really great stuff I could re-paint and sell and then right there was a buck full of mini blinds still in their boxes.  There were 3 the exact size I needed for my studio and Bruce found 3 that fit his garage workshop windows perfectly too plus they were only 50 cents each!!!  AMAZING.  Thank you universe.
  11. We lowered our insurance costs.  For years I had been with one company, I finally agreed to have a friend who offers insurance give me a quote.  While our auto insurance went up by a couple bucks a month through her, she saved us almost $400/year on our homeowners and offered better coverage. We were stunned!
  12. We lowered our interest rate on our house.  For years we were upside down on our mortgage in our old house and couldn’t refinance. We had a 6.95% rate and it was killing our budget.  When we moved were were able to drop that to a 3.125% and get a 15 year.  This saved us instantly over $100/week in interest that instead is going to principal plus knocked over a decade off our mortgage.
  13. I had to limit my art supplies.  It’s easy to let a hobby or a business get out of control and justify every want.  I would justify endless classes, books, supplies to try new techniques and all sorts of other marketing goodies.  I loved it all.  I had to be very diligent about keep my inventory at a low yet good amount and taking home as much profit as possible these past few years.
  14. Sales – we had garage sales.  We sold clothes to consignment stores.  I sold lots over FB groups and craigslist.  I also donated lots.  It was both about getting more money into our funnel but it also was about mentally and physically clearing clutter from our lives.  I keep a lean household, if we don’t use something it’s gone.  I’ve watched too many people around me be buried by clutter and eventually not have the energy to deal with it.  I prefer thinking of things that we no longer use that our time with them is done and it’s time for someone else to get to enjoy them.
  15. We made simple things fun.  We camped, we rented most of our movies from the library for free. We had picnics and bike rides, we hung out with friends and family doing simple things. I turned down shopping invites and instead met to just hang out or go on a walk together.  I turned dinner invites into coffee dates.  We played games, had bonfires, made forts and had dance parties.  We only went out to 1 movie as a family in the last 22 months. We went to 1 county fair.  We bought a family science museum pass and also visited our local zoo.  We spent less than $240/year on entertainment. (this is separate from sports fees, school activities or vacations)
  16. We had a written budget.  We wrote down all our income.  We wrote down our monthly expenses that we knew we had, we created envelopes for once in a while expenses like toiletries, pets, gifts and we averaged what those took a month and we’d add that amount to those envelopes.  This helped keep our month to month expenses pretty even. It also took away many surprise expenses.
    1. Our envelopes- grocery, restaurant, misc, entertainment, clothing, gifts, g. sale, toiletries, chore $ for kids, each kid had an envelope for what we estimate their expenses to be each month (mostly school activities, friends events, etc), lunch $, pets, household projects, beer.  My husband agreed to only spend $20 a month on beer.  He’d then treat himself to a fun 6 pack a couple times a month of some new local brew or another favorite.
  17. We made furniture and sold it. We bought used furniture and other items and fixed them, painted them or repurposed them and sold them in our booth at a local store in town.  It created some extra income and was a fun bonding experience for us.
  18. We had to abandon our bi-annual 2 week road trip this past year and instead chose to be a bit more budget conscious and flew to where my in laws where staying for the winter.  We crashed with them for 4 days and got enjoy them and the warm weather during this past February. This cost us only 25% of what our normal 2 week road trip budget is, yet we still got to get away and have some great family time.
  19. We had to set some boundaries and say no… A LOT.  We said no a lot to the kids, we also had to say it to ourselves and those around us who would ask us to go out and do things we knew weren’t in our budget.  Sometimes this was even saying no to things that were “free” because we knew that the gas would be an expense over our budgeted amount.
  20. We had to change our thinking and instead of thinking of our available money being everything that was coming in.  Our available money was only that which we had budgeted for the month.  ALL the rest went towards debt.   We followed Dave Ramsey’s philosophy on the order we paid things down.  We started with the smallest debt and paid it off as quickly as possible.  Then we put that amount towards the next largest until that was paid off.  It helped us to see progress and also gain some momentum.
  21. We put $1000 in our savings before we did anything else.  What this savings did was help us sleep better at night, it helped in case something unexpected came up so we weren’t completely in desperation at all times.  We tried not to touch this money. The only time we did use some is when we had to buy a car this past summer.  Then we spend the following weeks building it back up instead of putting that money towards paying debt.
  22. We had to give up a lot of short term fun for the sake of long term security and genuine well being.   This meant camps for the kids were out, we cut back on hotels and some of the traveling sports.  We tried to just buy less in general.  As I mentioned in my other blog post; we sold our atv, land  up north, camper, extra trucks and more.  All with the vision of getting out of debt and preserving our energy so we could put more of both towards our bigger goals.
  23. We stopped trying to keep up with the Jones’.  Sometimes the Jones’ are relatives, best friends or even our kid’s friends.  We had to get real about all the activities we were involved in, we had to stop caring about what anyone thought about the car we drove. We got okay with being considered weird.  We had to constantly balance between being frugal and wise with money while NEVER taking on a poverty or lack mindset.  Being tight with money while also believing in abundance was a balancing act; one that I’m not sure I was able to perfectly reconcile.  Especially being an entrepreneur; there is an underbelly of that world where you dress to impress, you pay others to do things for you so you can focus on your craft and work in your genius. It would be highly frowned upon to become complete DIY’ers.  It’s true sometimes when doing that we were probably spending hours to save a few bucks.  But accumulatively it added up.  It was a lifestyle shift.  It also felt good to use our hands to create, our minds to problem solve and spend more time than ever doing simple family activities.   Some of my favorite times were having all of us outside last winter chopping and gathering wood. I loved it.
  24.  dscn0396
  25. I wore the same black dress to  many events.  I wore it with different necklaces or different jackets to change it up but I wore the same dress to my sister’s wedding, 2 funerals, many fun summer picnics, grad parties, my art studio open houses and more.  I just made do and wore it while I could.  It’s finally worn out now so I probably wouldn’t wear it out again but it sure did serve me well.   Between us, I also wore the same black dress shirt to my 20 year class reunion that I wore to the 15 year reunion… and I’m still alive nor did anyone care or notice….  What was important is I felt great wearing it. I wouldn’t have worn it if it made me feel bad, I instead chose to wear it with pride. It fit me and it carries lots of great memories with it.
  26. Gift giving – we had some big family discussions about gifts.  One thing I do differently now than I did in my 20’s… during my first marriage if money was tight we would not buy each other anything.  After that marriage fell apart, I knew there were several things I wanted to do different during my 2nd marriage. One of those things is honoring my spouse and not being a martyr or so self sacrificing that we don’t get each other gifts. They don’t even have to cost much but it’s the energy behind someone being able to put thought into someone and show they care. I value that so much now. Even if it’s flowers cut from the yard there is a different energy to that than saying lets not get anything. There are times we would also go out to an event for our gift instead of a thing too.  For others I created gifts where I could, got creative with some so we could do them on a budget. I still love to give so we just had to do it carefully.  We started to draw names for our relatives instead of buying for everyone.  Here are a few of the fun things we’ve made over the past few years to give hand made wreaths and coat/jewelry racks:
  27.  img_20141123_182527_011 dscn0283
  28. We quit the gym.  We moved to 6 acres now so we try to get outside each day.  We were also gifted a treadmill, this has been a life saver especially during the winter months.
  29. We kept each other motivated.  There were many times we were exhausted over the last few years.  Especially when you factor in the couple years of half assing trying to pay things off before that.  We had to keep our eye on the prize.  We talked a lot about dreams we have. What we will do someday when we don’t have a house payment.  We made sure to build each other up and be a great team instead of turning on each other or blaming.   There were times I felt isolated, especially after moving out here further and working from home.  I now homeschool our youngest also. While 95% of the time I absolutely love it all there are moments where I crave being around the hustle and bustle a bit.  So now I try to plan ahead so I don’t get depleted and instead every few weeks plan to run errands in the cities or be out and about and see family or friends.
  30. We’re teaching our kids that things will not buy you long term happiness.  Even the house we bought now is not large. We chose a house that was just big enough for us but also small enough that we can keep up with it and possibly grow old here.  I am always making sure the kids don’t have too much clutter, they re-sell toys or movies and put it towards new things. They are learning about budgeting and have both also done chores to earn money.  We try to create experiences with them and focus on those more than things. They are well loved and live amazing lives, my hubby and I took on most of the sacrifice but I do think it was important to let them feel just enough of the weight of this experience to help them stay out of debt in their adult lives.
  31. We take good care of the things we have.  My computer is 5+ years old.  Our cars, our lawnmower, our clothes.  We try to treat our things well. We wash them, we mend them, we be careful with them in the first place.  This has helped us in many ways being able to extend the lives of some of our biggest expenses.
  32. I hang our laundry.  Outside in the summer, inside in the winter.  Thankfully now we have a laundry room but for years I’d stretch out pieces across our living room to dry.  Now it doesn’t take up the whole house but it’s a win-win. It saves energy and it adds moisture back into the air of our home in the winter when it tends to get very dry.
  33. While we were completely frugal in some ways we also believe in luxuries where we can. For us that mean buying organic food whenever possible, having life insurance and hiring an amazing photographer for family photos every few years.  There were a few times we were able to donate to fundraisers for causes close to our heart.   I read blogs about how people can only spend $100 per person on groceries per month but for us that never seemed doable.  Our monthly grocery budget was $800/month. But as mentioned earlier we only spend $30/month on restaurants so that is the majority of our eating.  I also don’t drink except a couple times a year so there isn’t much spent on drinks and we very rarely have soda in our house.  It’s mostly water, milk or homemade almond milk.   We also made sure we all have life insurance.  We had 2 parents pass away in the last decade. My mom had life insurance and it gave my dad breathing room to take care of things. My hubby’s dad did not and I watched the complete stress his wife felt as she tried to pay for expenses and their day to day life. It left an imprint on me
  34. We bought organic, non gmo seeds and started them inside this spring.  We then grew lots of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers (many are now pickles), and other foods and herbs in our garden ourselves for a fraction of what they cost in the store.  We are hoping to expand this each year as our knowledge base grows and our time is no longer spent on so many house projects we’ll have more to invest in growing our own food.   We saved many food containers to start the seeds in and now this summer I got 2 large stacks of starter pots for free that I’ll use to transplant the sprouts into once they get too big for the small starter containers.  (we use applesauce cups).
  35. We heat our house using a wood boiler.  This was a large cost up front to get a wood burner that then heats the water that runs through our garage floor and our house but we now are able to use our downed trees in this burner to heat our house all winter.  This is more of my hubby’s department since my knowledge on it is limited but that is what I do know. For us, living on 6 wooded acres it’s been a perfect fit.
  36. We transitioned to LED bulbs.  The cost of LED had come down greatly the last few years but for us even back a couple years ago we transitioned each bulb as it burned out. Some we used CFL then transitioned those to LED as we could.
  37. We stayed out of malls and stores as much as possible.  I stopped using store credit cards and praising myself on how much I saved.  Instead we just stopped shopping and found other hobbies.  We literally only shopped to buy what we needed.
  38. We sat and talked a couple times a month about our budget.  We compared notes, we’d do our best to predict any possible expenses for each new month.  We’d go back over past months and see where we over spent or where we did good.  I LOVED these meetings.  I could talk about our budget and lay out spreadsheets and goals and dreams for days.  But I learned that my hubby didn’t share my enthusiasm. For him he liked a bullet points meeting and also needed to hear about what was being paid.  In the years prior to these past 2 hard core ones, I learned he was going to work every day for years but would only ever see that our bank account was just enough to cover bills.  So now communicating better he could see how much debt was being paid off and how great his and our hard work was indeed paying off.
  39. We try to never do anything with payment plans, even zero interest.  We don’t charge things and we aim to pay cash for everything possible.  It helps us to shift our thinking into the big picture cost of something instead of monthly cost.   We also only pay cash for cars now.   Our goal is to get our house paid off early and then only pay cash if we ever buy another.
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Life’s full circle moment. After selling the trucks, the atv, the camper. We have a fun jeep to plow the driveway and do some heavy lifting… and it’s paid for. 🙂

Mostly, it’s important to know that we had to find what worked for us.  I know that some of our situation is unique, but I encourage you to find what can work for you.  You may be lucky to have much more income to work with than we were, awesome.  Think of it as a bigger shovel to dig yourself out.  I do know this; people are in debt at all income levels.  There are a few that aren’t bothered by it (maybe like us years ago, thinking we had it all handled) other people are going to be with knots in their stomachs trying to figure out what to do.  I’ve spent way too many nights of my life with that feeling and I hope to NEVER have it again.  I can’t control all of life’s circumstances but we have decided to control what we can and get ourselves in a better situation.  Let me tell you… eating peanut butter sandwiches feels better than eating out when you know you’ve got your bills paid.  There is such a peace of mind that happens as things are paid off.  Plus, it’s an amazing journey to go on as a family. It’s hard and you have to get really real and vulnerable but the reward is looking the real you in the mirror and feeling incredibly proud.

I know there are many people who have their house paid for, tons in the bank for retirement and are just fine.  I celebrate you.   But I know for every one of you, there are tons of us here in the trenches where every dollar and five dollar decision can make a big difference in our days and years.

I offer you all the cheerleading and support I can if you see yourself in any of our story.  If you are buried so deep you don’t know how you can dig yourself out.  I offer you hope.  I offer you hope if you are someone who hopes to be home with your babies, or someone who hopes to be able to live in a different area or just feel internal peace.

We’re all on our own journeys and ours is full of hiccups and ways we coulda/shoulda did things different.  Let’s all give each other some grace and love and cheer each other on. I don’t know anyone out there who needs people to judge them or shame them.  I just offer support and encouragement for you and for myself to keep on keeping on and doing the best with what we can control.

Wishing you a life where you can have authentic joy, creative dreams and peaceful sleeps.

Noelle_Signature

in the midst of a body transformation – grain and sugar free

Warning; super vulnerable post.  Only read if you can help offer me loving thoughts of support. 🙂

I’m in shock people, I recently found a photo from our Feb vacation. It was after seeing these photos in early march that I decided to do dive in and commit to trying the Wheat Belly way of eating.  There were other things I was noticing as well that led to me deciding to make a change.  First off let me start by saying, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I love healthy food and after 11 years of a vegetarian (fish only) I felt great about my eating. It was that snack part that really was getting to me as well; lots of sugar snuck in and I hadn’t noticed.  To save money I had also been eating mass amounts of brown rice, beans, oatmeal and grains in order to keep grocery costs down as we worked towards getting debt free. (future post coming on that).

I admit I was someone who openly criticized the Atkins diet, didn’t understand all the craze around people avoiding bread or eating low carb.

As I read the Wheat Belly book I had to get real in challenging what I though I knew.  I had so many symptoms that matched the people before they changed their eating in the success stories I read about.

SYMPTOMS:Red dots on the backs of my upper arms (all my life), increasing skin tags, snoring, headaches and I was finding my upper abdominal area feeling so bloated after eating that I felt 5 months pregnant almost all the time.  I’d wake up in the morning fine and every night I’d look 30 lbs heavier.  I was at a loss on what to do.

I did the detox for 30 days, I felt great.  But by not staying diligent I slowly let myself cheat a bit, I never let wheat back in my body but I gave into a popcorn and corn chips and potatoes and didn’t consistantly watch my carb count. About 6 weeks ago I dove back in 100%. I was determined this time to not focus on quick results but instead just trust and know that consistancy will get me results. So when I was able to compare a photo from a couple weeks ago to the one in Feb my jaw dropped. I hadn’t realized what a difference there was. I’ve lost 14 lbs and my jeans are started to get baggy but nothing super crazy like the success stories I was reading about where people are losing 15 lbs in 3 weeks (mostly inflammation), just slow and steady.

This is so encouraging to me moving forward! I still have a long way I’m working towards getting but I’m not in a panic about it, just eating when I’m hungry and most importantly I don’t feel pregnant all the time now, my skin tags stopped and I haven’t even noticed them lately, my snoring has greatly improved and I’m actually starting to look myself again once the inflammation in my face is going down.  It is empowering feeling to find something that is working for me and my body!

I think it’s been harder for me than most will have on it because I don’t eat meat.  So I’m limited to fish and a few other protein sources.  I do have a Grain Free board on pinterest where I save recipies to try and ones I love. You can find it here.  Some terms to search to find recipes: keto, ketogenic, grain free.  I also recommend reading the Wheat Belly book or the 10 day WB detox book. They have been sources I’ve read and then gone back to over and over for clarifications. There are support groups online and a blog on the WB website.  It’s pretty simple once you get a routine and find some meals that work for you.

I strongly encourage you to look into it if you are feeling like your stomach is bulging (yet hard), your joints ache or even if you have an auto-immune disease.  I am no expert but I have read countless stories from people who have gotten off medications, reversed diabetes, lowering blood pressure and more from this way of eating.

For me it’s just been about reclaiming feeling good and eliminating inflammation.  It’s a long journey, I’m not suddenly a size 8 but I am feeling good and as you can tell from this photo, my face is looking so much healthier.   Hallelujah!!!

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I’m posting here to share my joy but also to offer encouragement if anything I was feeling before matches what you may be feeling or going through.  Wishing you all the best,

Noelle_Signature

When a child has a reaction to food – our story

Back in the fall of 2015 I shared this story. I’ve since been getting inquiries about it and wanted to share it in a permanent location here on my blog. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who is going through something similar or has young children.

For the last 3 months we’ve been going through something with our youngest child. In case anyone is still wondering about the power the food we eat has on our bodies, I have a story to share. In early Sept. he started grabbing at his butt. Like all the time. Like every couple seconds. There was no rash, redness, nothing. He’s 5 years old, so he’s able to articulate that it just itched inside. Over the next 8 weeks we went to the urgent care, tested for pin worms, tried yeast infection medication, every over the counter anti-itch, vaseline, triple antibiotic oinment, bordeaux’s, everything. A presciption for an anti-fungal. 4 doctors, no medical reason could be found why this was happening.

Then around early October he developed a facial tic. He was scrunching his nose and raising his brows dozens of times an hour. For a few weeks he also started moving his shoulders up and down in a tic sort of way as well. As a mom it is heartbreaking to watch this sweet boy going through this, trying to explain to his teachers that yes, I know it’s happening. Yes, I’m still trying to find the answer… So thankfully it appears we are almost through the strom and I wanted to share what has worked.

A bit after the facial tics started I talked with my cousin who is a pediatrician. She was the first one to suggest removing wheat from his diet. Not just gluten but ALL wheat. Ironically I had just finished reading wheat belly because I was noticing myself dealing with inflammation after eating wheat as well. So I gladly decided to jump on board with her suggestion. After thinking about it, this all began since he had started school I began making him toast for breakfast everyday. Thinking that because it was organic it would be fine. Apparantly it wasn’t okay.

For the next 3 weeks he ate no wheat, no bread, crackers, etc. Pretty much no processed food either since so many things added in. After 1 month of doing this there was about an 80% decrease in his itching/grabbing. The tic was still there however.
The 4th Dr. we visited is the one who actually verbalized that he was having tics. Before that I had just been saying he’s scrunching his face a lot. So he didn’t have many answers, suggested I could give him benadryl if I need him not to itch for a short time but otherwise suggested doing some research on tics. So here is what I found: milk can be a trigger for tics. Lightbulb – Aspen rarely had dairy milk growing up, and when he did it was the hormone free or organic. He had breastmilk until he was almost 2, then rice or almond milk for the most part. I was trying to be a laid back mom and go with the flow when he started school so I agreed to just let him have milk everyday while there. I also read a lot about food colorings in foods causing tics as well as ADHD syptoms. Have you ever looked at how many foods have colorings? Almost anything in a package.

Side note – I was in total disbelief that the doctor and nurses still ALL wanted to give him a flu shot at this visit. Just from a scientific perspective; if you are trying to dissect what is happening in his body and remove things, get to the bottom of what is happening. WHY WOULD I EVER ADD MORE THINGS IN? This goes against all I know scientifically. Sigh… Trust your gut, don’t be afraid to delay or avoid.

After hours of scouring every article I could get my hands on and trying not to be terrified of the super extreme cases parent’s faced; we cut out all foods with the colorings (including the go-gurts he was having at snack time at school that I had never bought before then, as well as other candies, fruit snacks, etc. We also cut out 95% of sugar and no more milk at school. I had to instruct the teachers that he’s not allowed to have ANYTHING from school. I send an organic apple sauce with him each day. So we could have a controlled element in our observations of him.

We also did an at home allergy test (still hundred of $’s but WAY cheaper than going in and getting him tested.) We are still waiting on those results also to hopefully validate what we’ve been doing as well as make us aware of anything else. Update: His testing showed no allergies. This just goes to show that even if there isn’t a technical allergy that our bodies can still be overloaded or have reactions.

So fast forward. Almost 3 months since the start… and his tics are gone. His itching/grabbing is 99% better. Hallelujah! My hope would be that no one else has to go through this, but I wanted to share just in case. m&m’s, licorice, fruit snacks, gatorade, colored pops, and mac ‘n cheese. All have this crap in them that can cause our kids bodies to have all sorts of reactions. If your kids seems super hyper after eating them or has some of the same things Aspen went through it may be worth expirimenting with eliminating them for a month and paying attention to the results. We’ve also been able to buy organic, grass fed cows milk from a local farmer and so far so good with no reactions to that. He doesn’t drink it often but since we’ve added it back in he’s seemed to be fine (we alternate with almond milk) He doesn’t seem to mind goats milk either. So fingers crossed that things will continue to get better. Thanks to those of you who have known what he’s been going to and sent prayers and well wishes for him.

Update: It’s been 6 months since this all started. I wanted to share that we are still avoiding food colorings. I’m very strict on this. We have experimented with him having small amounts of wheat. A homemade burrito here and there. We still avoid enriched pasta, bread and other wheat based things. So far so good. It’s been helpful to cut it all out and only add back in months later in small amounts to observe.

I’ve since heard from so many other parents who have had similar reactions in kids. I must say also that we see the chiropractor on a regular basis (our biggest health secret) and thanksfully at 5.5 years old Aspen has never had to take antibiotics or take other medications. So the more natural foods are helpful in that way as well. I’m by no means an expert on this but I have found that by talking about it and being vocal about our struggle that it’s opened up communications that have been incredibly helpful.

feel the knowing saturating the areas of uncertainty

december 31st, 2015

I feel myself coming up after being pulled down under the tide. A tide that held me too close to wanting to be understood, Scared to really be fully me.

I can feel that I’m ready to really hear my truest self.  I turned 38 a few days ago and it’s like a switch clicked and I see things a bit differently and it’s beautiful.

What I’m hearing… home school the youngest, help him to be is greatest self. Move on from dairy and sugar and wheat.  Give my body the truest nutrients it’s been looking for and craving. Own my voice, my powerful observations, knowings, challenges and hopes. Dare others to dream big, listen to their knowing. Teach myself how to cook and serve good to nourish my family deeply and satisfyingly. Listen, learn, pray, dance. I feel myself not caring what “they” think. Wanting to speak up for what I know and have seen. To be able to stand proudly and confidently in me, not needing to prove anything just receive and learn and know and love. To own the greatness that is waiting for me.

All those times I’ve been shown that I need to be brave, stand up and really dive into my deepest strengths… I thought it was all about art… it’s about my body, my temple, my family, my mind. Trusting and forgiving myself as I learn and grow and try and fall and GET BACK UP.

I see 2016 as a year of learning, growing and feeling. Listening to the universe, my body, my children, my love. Serving with love, laughter and richness. Done are the endless conversations about money, tightening spending, lack, only so much. Instead I trust that abundance is already ours. That as I step into my calling fully that an abundance of money, love, good health and peacefulness will cradle us and saturate all that is already good.

I feel my best artwork is yet to come, more than just about the artwork.. I use the art as a tool a way for us to connect, to feel, to believe in what is unseen and not yet known. Artwork that helps us to transport into another part of our our mind, our life, our being, the world. To feel. Yet also growing as an artist and owning my craft, my skill. Allowing my skills to grow and myself to continue to develop, to play and not take it all too seriously while also knowing it’s the most real thing I know; a piece of me. A piece of what I’ve seen, a piece of what is coming that even I don’t know yet.

I’m breathing in the changes, the healing, the love. Praying for courage to answer the call on why I’m here on earth at this exact time, with these exact people in my exact life; including you who are reading this.  Breathing in and owning the wisdom that has come from all my mistakes, shortcomings, past tries and successes.

For 2016 I feel an allowing happening. listening. a transformation.

Has anything been trying to get your attention?  Are you feeling changes coming or a deeper settling in what you already know to be true?  I wish you an incredible beginning to 2016!

Noelle_Signature

Thrifty Thursday – How to make big bucks at your next yard sale

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Garage sales and yard sales are in full swing this time of year.  

A few weeks ago we made over $1400 at our yard sale.  It was amazing!  Even better was that it was all donated towards my trip to Israel and Palestine in the fall.

 

Unfortunately just a week later I watched my neighbor attempt to do a garage sale.   I say attempt on purpose because they are losing out on hundreds of dollars in sales by missing out on some basic things.

I’ve watched them:

  • put in weeks worth of setup work
  • days of multiple people working their sale
  • not displaying things well
  • not advertising
  • poor signage
  • no prices on things
  • putting the wrong things in view
  • sleeping in and not starting until after 9am

They have had very little success.   How is it that there was less than 20 people that showed up to there sale just 1 week after over 200+ people showed up to mine right next door?

 

Are you like my neighbor?   Have you spent way too many hours on a garage sale only to make poor sales?  Are you needing to clear out some clutter to make room in your home for things that you really love?   I’ve been there.  I’ve had those sales where I’ve gone home with a hundred bucks and scratched my head wondering what I did wrong.

 

I can help.  

Introducing my new Girlfriends guide to bringing in Big Bucks at  your next yard sale ebook.   

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This downloadable PDF includes 9 pages full of steps and tips.

We’ll cover topics like:
Getting Ready
Timing
Location
Pricing
Setup
Advertising, Getting the Word out
How to deal with hagglers and people who want a deal on everything.
Collecting the money
After the sale.


Of course I can’t guarantee what amount of money you’ll make but I can help you turn what you have into the best sale you can do. I know my guide will more then pay for itself and will help save you a TON of energy spent on doing the wrong things.

 

You can find the guide in my Etsy store now.

 

Only $6!

 

Make sure to pass along the link to your friends and family members that are planning sales.

 

Cheers to a summer of AMAZING sales!!

Fear – perspective

 

Sending light and love to each of you today!  May be find a way to remove our fears and embrace what it.  Here is  a great quote from Brene Brown:

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They wanted to know so I thought I’d let you know also

Good evening,

 

There is only 1 week left until the big launch of Finding Myself in the Moonlight!!

 

I’ve gotten a handful of questions from women looking to participate in the Finding Myself in the Moonlight e-course.  I wanted to answer them all for you here.

 

Q: You’re not a therapist, how do you know how to help me?

A:  True story, I am not a licensed therapist or counselor.  I don’t pretend to be, I believe that life’s answers come to us from many places, each a different piece of a giant puzzle. A therapist or counselor is a different piece than mine. I have something that some of them do not have, I’ve lived through finding my most authentic, soulful self, that’s why I feel confident in helping others do the same.  In my early 20’s I’ve gone from trusting myself, being confident and taking the world by storm, to later feeling isolated, unsure, angry and depressed.  I have lived the changes that come with moving across the country, working for others and owning my own business and having  (recovering) from multiple surgeries.

I’ve waded through the devastating waters of divorce, miscarriage and unexpectedly losing a parent too young. I’ve held the hand of a dear friend while she got chemo and I’ve organized an intervention for a loved one facing addiction.  I have people that cheer me on and “get” what I do and I have people that don’t like me, that judge me and that think being an artist is not a valid career.  If I didn’t figure out a way to be content and in love with ME then I probably wouldn’t get out of bed many of the days during these past events. Fortunately I’ve always been a seeker of answers and learning from people. I’ve used the lessons I’ll share with you to feel confident in my role in the world, my family and career.

Today, I can honestly say that I wake up 99% of days feeling content, blissful and grateful for my life. But be sure that my happiness is not because I’ve never experience hard times. It’s because I’ve survived, grown, soul searched, cried, and learned as I did the hard work it took to be the person I am today.  It’s my life mission to help share what I’ve learned with others.

 

Q: What does this course have to do with the moonlight?

A:  Technically this course has nothing to do with moonlight however symbolically this course IS the moonlight. When we feel like we are in the dark, in our own space with no one watching, I imagine this course and the women involved are each giving us the space to make changes, decisions and declare our intentions for our lives without the pressure of everyone analyzing as we do.  We will bring our best selves into the light again!

 

Q: I don’t see anything about Religion, if I am religious will I connect with this course?

A:  Yes, the beauty about helping people be their own most authentic selves is that there is room for each participant to filter all topics through their own Religion or spiritual beliefs.  I have created this course so that people of any religion or those who are not religious should all feel at home and welcomed.

 

Q: Will you offer this course again this year?

A:  At this point I’m not planning to.  I do have a vision to do a larger, more in-depth course called Dancing in the Moonlight. The later course will feature interviews with women who are living amazing, authentic lives. It will dive deeper into the areas from this course and we will also work more in areas of having a vision for our life, connecting with own light, honoring our truest calling, rising above the outpouring of drama and negativity that we are flooded with in our world.  That course will be a higher financial investment, so this current finding myself e-course is a great way to dive in and start the work in these areas at a lower price point.

 

Q: My work and home life schedules are never the same from day to day, will I have to be at my computer at a certain time each day?

A:  This is on of the perks of doing an e-course, you will receive the materials and then you can watch the videos and view the lessons at your leisure.  So you can make this course fit your schedule. This is great for people that work various shifts or are super busy.

 

I am SO looking forward to sharing this online time, heart and experience with you.   None of us need to do it alone!

Invest in yourself with 2 monthly payments of $35 each here

or pay the $68 in full here.

 

Class begins in 1 week on Sunday January 19th! 

 

**Noelle

 

 

Make sure you’re not making your family feel this way

It’s a cold, make that very cold few days here in Minnesota, because of that the kids are off school today and Bruce’s shop closed for the day so we are all cozied inside playing games and watching movies. 

I wanted to take a few minutes to connect with you and share a few very personal lessons I’ve learned.

 

Some of you may not know why I feel so passionate about helping women re-find themselves and their place in this world.  It’s a very raw story and I share it with you with the intent of using the lessons learned from it to help other families never go through what mine did.  My new e-course starts in a couple weeks and it’s not just a class to me, it’s about women coming together and helping each other through the life’s variety of paths and making space for our lights to shine.

 

I think back to 2008 feeling so helpless, shedding tears yet again, trying to figure out what I could do or say to help my dear, sweet mother.  I was watching the woman I looked up to my whole life not see her value in the world.  It broke my heart.

 

I don’t want ANYONE to feel what I felt then.  Sadly I’m learning it’s a silent epidemic that people everywhere are going through, thinking they are alone.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

 

While my mother was an expert at creating the best family get togethers, giving the perfect gift or even cutting our hair when we were young, later on she didn’t take enough time in her life to stop and invest in her own well being.  Her joys, her passions, her friends, the way she could connect with the world and what she had to offer it all took a back seat to making sure everyone else around her had what they needed. Those last 20 years it was all about her family.  

On one hand, as a member of her family this was an amazing gift she gave us. We all had a best friend on standby ready to help us, hear about what we needed to say and help us figure out lifes messes.  On the other hand had she taken time for her self, learned to say no more often and had better boundaries I believe she would still be here today. Regardless of whether that last part is true, undoubtedly she would have had a much more joyous last few years here on earth.  

She passed away unexpectedly from pancreatitis in January of 2009.  

I can’t speak for the other people in her life but I can share the lessons I learned from those days, her death and the years following.

 

I made a vow to myself that I would help women just like my mom; Beautiful, loving, wise, strong women.  This was a woman who raised 5 kids and had more love for people than I’ve ever seen.  The thing is her feeling bad didn’t happen over night.  It came after years of her taking on more than she needed, thinking things would get better on their own. Choosing to think that there was something wrong with her instead of realizing her emotions were very normal for someone going through what she was. Also, feeling shame that she couldn’t fix everything she felt and that was happening around her. 

 

 

I learned a few very important things in the following months.

 

1) Taking on everyone else’s problems and not having healthy boundaries can actually, really kill you.

 

2) We all think we have forever.  We don’t. It’s so important we spend our lives doing things that matter, that make a difference and then are in alignment with our truest selves.  

 

3) You can’t take the stuff with you. Don’t spend your life focused on things. It’s the love, memories and wisdom you shared during your life that matters after you’re gone.

 

4) Shame is deadly.  Don’t let yourself live in shame. Get help if you need it, pray, ask for forgiveness, talk to those who care about you. Often the power those things we are so scared of others knowing have over us are diminished once we talk about them.

 

5) No matter how much you want to fix the problems of someone around you, they have to be willing to do the work and WANT TO CHANGE.  You CAN’T do it for them. 

 

6) If you are noticing that you are feeling sad, out of sorts or you’ve lost your confidence and aren’t sure what your life is about as you enter a new chapter then please know that there are resources out there for you and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

 

Even if you don’t take my e-course or resonate with the other things I’m saying please listen to this one thing:  If you aren’t feeling well, or your intuition tells you something isn’t right, please get help, get checked out.  My mom passed away of pancreatitis.  A very curable condition if caught in time. Be proactiv with your health.  That includes your mental health. Talk to someone, journal, find an online group that fits what you’re needing.  If you have a family member going through this, I understand how awkward it can be to have these tough conversations but try to have them, lovingly. If you can’t say it, try to write a heartfelt letter or have a qualified 3rd party help in communicating the message and hope of getting through it.

 

The thing is, I hope to reach women much earlier than those darkest days, so none of us will never have to feel that despair.  Even if you don’t know what it is that you should be focusing on, we’ll be laying out a variety of topics to help get you started in the right direction. Equally important to the information is the community this e-course will bring. Loving, wise, compassionate women, each with their own gifts.

 


 

If you are interested in really honest, open coversations about the subjects above and more, please join me for the Finding Myself in the Moonlight e-course!

You can learn more information and watch videos about the course here.

 

I  have a great new payment option also if you would like to break up the enrollment into 2 payments.

 

The online journey starts in a couple weeks on January 19th!!  Click the links or the photo