Is Everyone Making Money Online Except YOU?

 

Excited Woman In Kitchen Using Laptop to Earn or Win Money. Screen can be easily used for your own message or picture. Picture on screen is my copyright as well.

I just sent an email to my father-in-law, and I closed it with a heartfelt wish that I had a few days to go “back home” and visit the folks. My parents are gone but I have dear in-laws and cousins and most especially, my sweet daughter Everly, all living six hours away.

And here I am, stuck, not only working full-time, but working at a place where the vacation days are so limited I’m lucky to see my family three times a year. Sometimes I feel so angry about it. If my family lost me, it would devastate them. If my company lost me, they’d have me replaced in two seconds and never bat an eye. Yet who gets my time, my energy, my devotion? The company.

Let me say, I am praying about it. DAILY. Can you pray for me too? Send me your name and I will gladly return the favor.

I’m grateful for my full-time job, but constantly on the hunt for an alternative, or at least an additional stream of income. Isn’t it funny how we’ve all picked up these phrases in the last few years? “Side hustle.” “Passive income stream.”

Years ago, women with a burning ambition to earn something were more isolated, dreaming their dreams while they washed the dishes, waiting for a great idea to strike. I think of people like Mrs. Fields, the cookie queen.  Mary Kay and her makeup empire. Joy Mangano, millionaire inventor of QVC fame.

When they succeeded, they were inspirational to other women for sure, but they were very, very, unusual. Extremely blessed. Regular working women probably looked at them the way they looked at lottery winners or movie stars, and said, “Wow, her life must be great! Now let me finish typing and filing so I can go home and get the meatloaf started.”

Times have changed, and nowadays, it’s awesome that with the online world at our fingertips, our opportunities are limitless. We can work at home making great hourly pay (with benefits!) between diapering and feeding. We can sell goods we enjoy making and services we’re talented at, on our own sofas in our pajamas. We can even just blog about our lives and get paid for it! Or so I read on Pinterest, anyway.

The problem for me is that whereas in the past that would have seemed like a crazy-awesome existence enjoyed by the fortunate few, now the blogosphere has me believing that everybody is succeeding at it except ME.

And that gets discouraging. I don’t understand how thousands of women are making it sound ever-so-easy, while nothing I’ve tried has worked out yet. Is it me? Do I give up too easily? Do I not have enough “hustle” to side hustle, or am I pursuing the wrong things? What have YOU tried that actually resulted in real money?

If you’re feeling discouraged too, let’s get together on this. Neither of us has time to try everything we read about, but maybe we can form a tribe, and report back to each other about what actually works and what doesn’t, without giving each other an inferiority complex. Anybody with me?

It’s the Weekend, Woot Woot!

Okay, will somebody please tell me why I am so ridiculously excited for this weekend? I really don’t have any big plans, but somehow my heart is light just from knowing I have two days to do largely as I please! My party began at 5:20…

party

Maybe it’s just because I was totally not feelin’ it at work this week. Usually I do pretty well with staying motivated, but this week I was bored, restless, and watching the minutes tick by. Next week should be interesting: we have a new, female head honcho coming to visit us from our corporate office, and she’s staying the entire week. Uggghh. Maybe she’ll be nice, I hope so, but there’s still going to be that feeling of being watched and judged.

At least her visit was timed to coincide with my spring shopping, so I have some new work clothes to wear while she’s here. (Maybe I’ll do a “What I Wore” post later.) I don’t do an awful lot of shopping throughout the year, but since I live in a warm climate, around Easter is a good time to stock up on work dresses. And I have to tell y’all, Dress Barn has been giving me some good deals!

discount

One reason I gravitate to Dress Barn is that I know what size I wear  in their brand, and that makes it so much less frustrating to shop. (I also absolutely LOVE Cato and I recommend it highly–I bet I could go to my closet now and pull out six or eight Cato garments that have lasted so long I don’t even remember buying them. But I don’t have a Cato handy to my current home. 😦 )

Anyway, I went to Dress Barn a couple of weeks ago and got two nice work dresses. They were on sale, plus I got $10 off for buying two, so it was like $60 total. And THEN they gave me a coupon for $15 off my next purchase, so I went in the following week and got another dress plus matching shoes at 75% off. And today in the mail I got a new Dress Barn card and a 25% off certificate. This will cover me for the year, thank you!

card

As I cut up my old card, it brought back a childhood memory. Although I was raised in the Deep South (think Mayberry), my grandmother lived in a high rise in New York City, and she would sometimes send eclectic care packages that were fun for both my mother and me. Once she sent me a little castoff purse, and her old credit cards from Macy’s and Gimbel’s to play with. I played “store” with those things for years! Fun to remember the days when we didn’t have to worry about identity theft.

church-window-366817__340

Okay, last thing…Brad and I are planning to visit a new church this weekend. For several years we attended a very nice local church but, long story short, we reached a point where it didn’t fit our needs anymore.Plus, we moved across town making it a bit less convenient. We’ve been un-churched slackers for several months, but now…and if you knew us, this is surprising, BRAD suggested that we get off our duffs and try a nice looking nearby church that happens to be my preferred denomination. Yay, this will feel like going home, I hope! Good ol’ familiar hymns and ways of doing things. I hope we like it and I’m so proud of Brad for taking the lead on this! (Although there is a diner right near this church that he likes an awful lot…you don’t suppose….no, I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt!)

Happy weekend to you and yours!

 

 

Extremely Simple Chicken Pot Pie

I’ve been making this thing for years and years. It’s as easy as this…just take those four ingredients (store brands taste fine too), drain the liquid off the chicken and vegetables and mix ’em up. You can throw some salt and pepper in there or any kind of seasoning you feel like, and pour it into a ready-made crust. I use a Pyrex pie dish (or do you call it a pan even if it’s glass?) but you could also use a metal one. I’d avoid those flimsy disposable ones, though.

If you’re a total non-cook you might think my fluted pie edge looks fancy, but it totally tells you on the box how to do that! Just follow the directions on the ready-made crust box and then stick it in the oven at 425 for around half an hour, or until it’s brown.

One thing I forgot to take a picture of is my pie shield. It’s like a big metal ring that you can put around the edge after your pie has cooked for a while, to make sure the edge of your crust doesn’t burn while the rest of it browns. I bought the pie shield at some specialty store…maybe Williams-Sonoma or something like that, but I’m sure you could order from most anywhere,  or just use foil in a pinch!

This is seriously really good and if your family doesn’t eat it all up, the leftovers are just as good to take to work the next day. And this is a super fast recipe for busy days. I left work today at 4:30 and this was already in the oven by 5:15. Hope you enjoy!

Do You Pray About Your Job?

 

businesswoman eating sandwich

Do you ever pray about your job? Not just prayers like, “Please don’t let me snap on my annoying coworker today,” but about your actual work?

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the greatest prayer warrior, but I do easily find time to pray about my job, as well as my husband’s job, every day, because I do it while I’m driving there.

I don’t know about you, but where I live, a prayer for safe travel to work is needed every day! So, as soon as I get backed out of my parking place at home, I start out by praying to make it to work safely. This leads me right into prayers for friends who are sick, injured, or grieving, prayers for my children and family, my marriage, and so forth.

And make no mistake, ‘most every day I remind the Lord that my desire is to be at home, and I ask him to please give me an opportunity to do that, and please let me recognize the opportunity when it comes. (Sometimes I second-guess myself when I decline offers of odd jobs here and there, and I wonder if I’m declining the very thing that could grow into a work-at-home opportunity. But, you know, it’s a balancing act…because I only have so much time and energy to spend on what I’m already doing!)

As I get nearer to the office, I always remember to pray about my work and my husband’s. Some of the things I typically mention include:

  • Let us master any skills we need to master
  • Let us accomplish everything our bosses expect of us, and more
  • Let us give a great job performance and be well-regarded
  • Let us keep our income flowing so we can support our family
  • Let other team members, etc. do their jobs so that we can do ours
  • Let business pick up (things have been slow at Brad’s work lately)
  • Let the CEO (a temperamental guy) be calm and rational
  • Let there be peace among all the coworkers

I believe these prayers are effective not only because they are answered, but because just taking a minute to focus on these things improves the frame of mind I’m in when I begin my workday. We might want to be someplace else, but we have to remember to be grateful for our jobs, y’all!  We have to remember the day we walked in there and said, essentially, “Please let me work here because I need the money.”

Bottom line, that’s it! We have to stay humble about our positions at work. You can often  go wrong with overconfidence but you can never have too much humility, so I think we all have to remember that, number one,  we wouldn’t be there if we didn’t need that job, and number two, if we could have found a better job we would have taken that one instead!

For whatever reason, this job is where we are today, so with God’s help,  let’s get in there and do the best we can.

A Peculiar Ladylike Influence

ladylike

For several years I worked at a small company owned by a lady who was a, well, an oddball.

You might not have guessed it at first. If you were to meet her at a church function or a networking event, you would no doubt think that she was:

  • Nice
  • Well dressed
  • Smiling
  • Conservative

But if you worked for “Miss Nancy” (as she insisted on being called by grown women) you would soon learn that she had some rather restrictive views on:

Chatting. Talking while working was entirely frowned upon because she felt it led to broken concentration and mistake-making. It was okay to say “Good morning,” to coworkers, but other than, or directly work-related communications, she expected quiet.

Venting. She did not see the point of sharing with coworkers the frustrating conversation you’d just had with a customer. She desired that all negativity be kept out of the office.

Profanity. Nobody needed to tell me that office was a no cussing zone—it was obvious by the general atmosphere—but frequently customers would walk in and let fly with the raunchiness that made up their normal daily communication style. On one memorable day, an angry woman actually screamed a few vulgar phrases right at Miss Nancy, to which she replied, “Now that’s not ladylike at all.” (My coworkers and I, hidden behind a partition, were doubled over laughing, and we said those words to each other from that day on. Even now when my husband is in any way unmannerly, I chide him in Miss Nancy’s voice that he’s being very unladylike. 😀 )

Clothing. In staff meetings, she would actually say, “It’s wintertime now; you should be wearing winter clothes, winter colors. I don’t want to see anymore sandals,” and such as this. Everyone found it very insulting.

Smoking. Nobody did. Nobody. She didn’t ask me during the job interview; maybe she sniffed me. Not sure what her method was, but nobody on our staff smoked.

For these among many other (some more serious) reasons, she was the object of much derision. In fact, Miss Nancy herself was the fly in the ointment of that job, and having to navigate around her more onerous peculiarities was the reason I finally had to move elsewhere…to what I thought of as a real company.

My new boss (male) is a normal person with no weird personality traits, so that’s a relief. And my coworkers, well…they’re okay too. But when I first started there, I couldn’t help but notice, they really smelled. (From smoking.) And then, as I would sit with them during lunch, I noticed, “Boy, they sure cuss a lot.” And so unnecessarily, it seemed. They weren’t upset about anything, but they were just apt to say, “This is the greatest effing pasta I ever made.” My ears were no longer used to hearing it, and I felt uncomfortable and almost embarrassed for them, because it made them seem low class. Not only do they cuss…several of them belch out loud. Often. And act like it’s acceptable.

Frequently during the work day, I wish they would stop the chitchat; in fact I’ve had to start playing music with earbuds in my ears for the first time ever, to cut down on the distraction level. Every morning seems to get started with a coworker’s tale of woe, or the rundown of what everybody did the night before, whereas I like to get zoned in to my work asap to have a more productive day.

What took the cake was one day in January. It was unseasonably warm, I’ll admit, but I had a coworker who wore sundresses three days in a row. It just looked so odd and wrong to have that much skin showing in the winter, that I found myself thinking, “If I were the boss, I’d make her stop that.”

Then it dawned on me: I HAD BECOME MISS NANCY. (EEEEEEEEEEEKKK!!)

So okay, whoa, it was time for me to put the brakes on, lest I become the Conduct and Decorum Police at the office, a position that I doubt would win me any friends. I’m in a different place now, no longer in Nancy World, and everyone can act as they choose, so long as our easygoing boss is okay with it.

But Miss Nancy changed me. I get more done, I talk less, I complain less, I dress more appropriately, and wouldn’t you know it, I shock my coworkers if I say anything the slightest bit naughty, because their image of me is that I’m ladylike.

My closest confidantes wouldn’t necessarily agree. But projecting a mature, hardworking and respectable image at work cannot be a bad thing! So thank you, oddball Miss Nancy.You were a pain, but thank you.

When Sharing Crosses the Line

overshare edited

I have a friend–let’s call her Caroline. We’ve known her for years and though our families no longer live near each other, it was nice that we could stay in touch via Facebook.

Except that she was SUCH an over-sharer. As you’ll no doubt hear me say on countless future occasions, I think of Facebook as being like a party where all your friends are milling around. It’s fine to walk up to them (virtually, y’know) and say, “Hey, guess what, guys? I got a new job,” or “My kid made the honor roll,” or “Look at this pie I made!” It’s even okay to say, “I had a really crappy day at work,” or “Slow drivers in the fast lane make me crazy,” or whatever.

But after your friends respond, it’s then time to say, “And what about YOU? Hey, I like your new sofa! Congratulations on your engagement! Sorry your boss is such a jerk.” It’s give and take, see? Just like real life. We say what’s on our minds, we support each other, laugh with each other, argue, tease, and advise. What we do NOT do is: 1) go on and on and on about OUR lives as though they’re endlessly fascinating to everybody else, and 2)share sensitive information about our families without their consent. Pretty simple rule of thumb: if  you wouldn’t stand up on a chair and say it to all your assembled family and friends at a real life party, then don’t say it on social media.

My friend Caroline–mother of  four and  you’d think she’d be too busy, but I’m not judging–used to post to Facebook a dozen times a day if she posted once. And every post was longer than this one is going to be, and included multiple photos. On and on she went, with the details of every doctor’s appointment, every school lunch with the kids, every shopping trip, every meal cooked, every everything. And seriously nobody needed to know that much about her family and her day. We’re still friends, but I unfollowed her quite some time ago, to avoid the information overload.

Eventually she started a blog, and this seemed like a perfect solution. She’s a good writer and photographer and a fun, energetic person with a busy life, so with a blog, those who want to can read the minutiae of her day (though frankly I envision even the most doting of grandmas smacking her forehead and saying, “Oy, enough already”), while the rest of us can go on with our more balanced give-and-take exchanges.

It seemed like a great solution, only now she still posts her briefer thoughts and impressions to Facebook, plus she links every blog post to her Facebook page. We check in on her once in a while to see what the fam is up to, and such was the case last week when my husband reported he had looked at her blog and read something that broke his heart.

It seems that her oldest child, whom we’ve known since he was a fetus, is having serious trouble with depression. Caroline detailed her surprise at his behavioral changes, his admission that he needed help, and even the shocking moment in a therapist’s office when he revealed that he had been harming himself for some time and had made plans for suicide. It was indeed heartbreaking, and frightening, and when my husband told me what he’d read, my heart went out to both Caroline and her son.

But when I read the post myself…which as usual was handily linked to her Facebook page…I…WAS…FURIOUS.

I’ve been thinking of and praying for her son ever since, but I have not even trusted myself to say a word to Caroline because I want to SHAKE her. How dare she lay bare her child’s pain and suffering for the entertainment of everybody her family knows? Not to mention that she’s publishing the information for the general public to find, now or years in the future, since her blog contains pictures and names of each child. Does this intelligent woman have NO judgment at all? Does she care nothing for her son’s privacy and HIS feelings, or is her self-expression and, if I dare say it, need for attention all that matters?

How will that vulnerable boy feel if a casual acquaintance, a teacher, a friend, walks up to him and says, “Hey, so I read all about what’s going on with you.” How will he feel a year from now when the mother of a girl he wants to take on a date does a little online research and finds THIS out…”Oh no, honey, you can’t go out with that boy, he’s unstable.” How about when a potential employer searches his name, which nowadays they all do. Why doesn’t she just take him to the town square and yell everything out with a bullhorn, I wonder?

I want to tell  you this. I have blogged for years. I’m also a writer and many things from my personal life and the lives of others wind up in a disguised form in my fiction. Self-expression and creativity are fine and good, but you must always take care to protect the innocent. Your family did not sign up to be your blogging material!

My Introvert Considers College

finalteenboy

Dear Reed,

I get it. More than you know. The other day when it was mentioned that some people have talents so great they skip right over college, I saw the relief wash over your face, and I remembered being your age. College, college, was what everybody talked to me about, but the very idea of communal living filled me with absolute dread.

I wasn’t afraid of it, per se, and I’m not especially awkward with people, but I thought I couldn’t psychologically tolerate being in a situation where I had no space of my own. The idea was abhorrent to me.

So I dug in my heels and refused to go, and you see how that worked out. I’ve worked all my life at jobs that barely get me by. I want better than that for you, sweetheart. Staying holed up in a dark bedroom playing with a computer may be fairly normal when you’re a teenager, but it’s not gonna fly when you’re thirty…and thirty comes faster than you think.

So first of all: you can go to school online, or you can commute to school and live at home. If you apply yourself, you can get a degree. And a degree is a nice piece of paper that I admit I’d like to have, because the lack of it has barred me from plenty of jobs I was perfectly capable of doing. A degree from an online school or the local commuter college is better than nothing.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand that  college is supposed to be more than four more years of tedious book-learning. It’s designed to help kids like you transition into competent adults. You’re supposed to live independently and you’re expected to screw up sometimes because college years are your training-wheel years. It’s a time when you can become someone a little different than the person your family and your old friends have always known. It’s a time to make contacts with people and organizations who can help propel your future.

It’s a place to learn things that staying home with your parents can’t teach you. You really do have talents and skills that your dad and I admire and are impressed by, and we have no doubt there’s a career path in there somewhere, but we don’t have the faintest idea how to help you find it. We love you so very much, but we don’t know how to help you turn your passion into your job. The best we can do for you is to place you in the hands of people who do know.

We won’t force you, sweetheart. But we hope, for your sake, you’ll at least give it a try.

Vanity, Sooner or Later

vanityLately I’ve been dreaming of getting veneers for my teeth.

My teeth have never, in my life, been a great feature, but once my braces came off they were at least okay; not a particular detriment. And then all these dad-blame advances in teeth whitening came along, so nowadays, everywhere I go, every person I meet seems to have such blinding teeth that I feel distinctly less-than-good-enough. I’ve tried and continue to try every bleaching treatment there is, but none has satisfied me.

So…do you know how much veneers cost? It varies, of course, but let me throw out an average of the various types I could select and say it’d be around a thousand dollars. Yeah…PER TOOTH.

I assume they just do the ones that show when you smile, but I figure even so we’re talking about a cost of over $10,000. I fantasize about it, but I have such a deeply frugal nature that I just cannot get my head around how an ordinary person spends ten thousand dollars for pure vanity. It makes me feel guilty to even consider… what important things might my family have to do without, just so I could pay for pretty white teeth?

Yet I have friends who have had cosmetic surgeries. I have lots of friends with breast implants–I even have two friends who got their breasts and their teeth done. At this point in my life, though, is it even worth considering? Or is it like over-improving a house in a declining neighborhood?

If I splurged and got veneers, or a tummy tuck, or all the other nips and tucks I pine for, I might feel happier when I looked in the mirror. But truthfully, even the finest cosmetic surgeons on earth today could not change the fact that I am a middle aged woman, way past my physical prime. I can’t buy youth, at any price.

Which brings me to my point. If you despise your nose, your weight, your flat chest or your giant one, your teeth, your moles, your sags and bags and double chin…DON’T spend your next twenty years believing that a change is not possible for you. You think you can’t afford to get something done? Speaking as the voice of experience, you will probably never have that much extra money just lying around, but neither did my middle-class friends who got their surgeries (they worked at the same places I did!) and yet somehow they managed to swing it.

Don’t be like me; still longing in my heart for improvements I could have made decades ago, because I couldn’t believe I deserved anything so expensive.

If you want to do it, girlfriend, do it now.

 

 

Valentine Call

valentine-call-editedYesterday was Valentine’s Day, and my husband went to dinner with not just one, but TWO women. Then they all went back to their hotel for the night.

Okay…that’s a joke. I mean it’s technically true, but Brad was away at a seminar, and when he went down to the hotel lobby to go find some dinner, he happened to run into some other attendees who invited him to go with them. (Dinner with ONE lady I might not have liked very much, but two, I didn’t mind!) He hates traveling for business and hates eating alone, so I was glad he had people to talk to for a couple of hours.

He called me afterward and told me all about it; how they had discussed families and children and jobs. I’m sure he must have mentioned that we’ve been married over twenty years now. It’s something we’re both so proud of, yet we try to never take it for granted…never feel too sure that we’ve made it and we’re in the clear. We occasionally hear of long marriages splitting apart and we wonder if they were miserable all along, or if they were like us…proud of themselves and thinking they had it made until some terrible thing came along and ruined it.

We want to avoid terrible things.

This is what was on Brad’s mind last night when he told me that he’d been thinking…and he bet there were people that very night in his very hotel, doing things they ought not to do, and how he had come to see that as one of the lowest and most despicable forms of human behavior he could imagine. To selfishly do such harm to the person you’d made a life with, and for what? For something so relatively meaningless. Excitement. Physical pleasure.

Oh, but the kicker is, we’re not saints. Neither of us. I’m not saying we’ve gone all over town having affairs, but I will tell you that we understand the urges that drive that kind of behavior, and how in a split second, they can hijack your common sense. “I didn’t know how dead I felt until this person made me feel alive again.” “I wasn’t looking for anything like this, it just happened.”   Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah blah. Until the new wears off, and you glance behind you and see the wreckage of your life.

We’re so thankful to have stuck together, somehow, through the years when our hormones were calling too many of the shots. We wish we could tell younger couples to just hang on to each other through those years that pass more quickly than you’d think. Do that, and one of these days you will be holding the hand of someone that you literally spent your life with. Even taking nothing for granted, that’s a proud feeling.

 

What You’ll Get

Blogs are mystifying things. I’ve had several…all unsatisfying. The first one was when I was deep into my writer stage and I just wanted people to read what I wrote. I’m not sure what I hoped to gain with that…a following or an agent? I don’t even remember.

Year later, I heard amazing tales of women who made a living just by blogging! Amazing! Sign me up! So I tried that, only to learn that I had naively started the kind of blog where you can’t really run ads or sell anything. Plus, I wrote about stuff that I only wanted strangers to read…religion was on my mind at the time and while those posts went over quite well with a certain target audience, I didn’t want my Facebook friends to ever run across them and think I was a kook.

Then for my third blogging attempt, I really WENT for it, with an expensive custom self-hosted site, complete with ads and affiliate links and all the stuff that should have made me a millionaire but didn’t, because by the time it crashed one day, I had forgotten all the techie little fine points of how I got it up there to begin with, and I no longer had the free time to figure out how to fix it.

So yeah, I don’t care anymore, about trying to craft a blog persona that will somehow make people want to open their wallets and buy things. I don’t go around in real life trying to get people to like me–they either do or they don’t–so I’m not going to take that approach here, either.

I still want to write, and sometimes I have things to say that other people may find interesting or worthwhile.

Sometimes I just need a place to complain about bad spelling and other annoyances.

Occasionally I want to say things to my kids that they won’t sit still and listen to, but one day they’ll wish they had.

So you may get some of all of that sort of stuff. Welcome to The Real Unvarnished.