Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Tag: life happens

Easing back into it. Also, Aldi really is pretty awesome.

When I start to feel overwhelmed and need to push some things off of my plate, blogging is usually one of the first things to go. And these last couple of weeks have been a little overwhelming. Not so much because there’s been more going on. I’ve just been low on energy and have had to pick my battles as far as deciding what really needs to get done, and allowing myself to let the rest go.

Last week, especially, was tough. I just couldn’t get enough sleep, despite turning in around 9:00 every night, and I couldn’t focus on my work to save my life. I was feeling spiritually whipped, too. A lot of this was just hormones making everything seem bigger and more overwhelming and more difficult than it really is, normally, but even when I know hormones are distorting my perspective, that doesn’t really do anything to make me feel better.

I ended up taking Thursday off and dedicating the whole day to prayer and meditation and spending time in scripture. Matt and I also spent some quality time just hanging out together on the couch, snuggling and talking. All in all, it was a healing day, and something I sorely needed.

I’m starting to feel back to normal today. It’s been a productive day — I wrote just under 1,000 words on the new novel, made my daily article quota for Demand Studios, and fleshed out some article ideas for some magazines I’m planning to query. That’s been one of the things that’s been dragging me down lately — feeling like I’m trapped on this content mill mouse wheel that I’ll never get off because it’s too hard to find the time to look for better quality assignments while writing enough content mill articles to make sure the bills get paid on time.

But this weekend I finally managed to grab enough quiet time to sit down and plan out some concrete goals, and break them down into small enough steps that I can do a little every day to work toward that goal.  By next Monday I should be ready to start sending out query letters. Hopefully, some better paying magazine assignments will soon follow.

So with that figured out, I’m trying to ease back into blogging. I’d like to get back to a two-post-a-week schedule, but for now we’ll see if I can stick to one a week for a while. I need to jump start things over at my author blog, too, and if I try to take on too much I’ll just get overwhelmed again and stop blogging altogether.

In other news, during the blog silence my husband and I finally got around to shopping at Aldi. After hearing so much hype for so long about how great it is, we were a little skeptical going in, but you know what? It’s pretty great. For the last few months we had been shopping at Walmart, but the last two weeks we’ve done our shopping primarily at Aldi, and we’ve left there with a lot more food for a lot less money than we typically spent at Walmart. And we’re pretty impressed with the quality of the food, too. I think that’s part of why we stayed away for so long — we were afraid that the Aldi store brands would be disappointing. But so far we’ve been pretty pleased with everything we’ve tried.

I was especially psyched to learn that they have their own version of the Totino’s frozen pizzas that used to be less than a dollar. I love those pizzas, but I haven’t had one in forever because they’re loaded with trans fats. But the Aldi’s versions don’t have trans fats, they ARE less than a dollar, AND they taste just like I remember. Mmm, cheap frozen snack pizza. How I missed you.

I don’t want to play ball anymore.

Remember what I said last week about how life keeps throwing curve balls at us? Well, this week it decided to switch things up and lob a hard fastball straight at my noggin.

On Saturday morning I was carrying groceries into the house when I slipped on a patch of ice on the driveway. Both my feet flew out from under me, and I was suspended in the air just long enough to wonder what in the mother-of-all-curse-words was happening before the concrete slammed really hard into my body. Or vice versa. My head was one of the hardest things hit, along with my left elbow and the right side of my hinder.

For a while all I could do was lie there, surrounded by my spilt groceries. I think I might have been crying in pain. Or wailing. I remember hearing my husband swear, and then my neighbor across the street calling over to ask if I was okay, and then Matt almost slipped when he got to me, but thankfully he recovered his balance before he landed on top of me. And then the neighbor came over, and I felt like I needed to be brave and put on a show of being tough and not alarm anybody, so I made myself get up — slowly, carefully, making sure nothing was broken which, thank God, was the case — and brushed myself off while Matt and the neighbor picked up the groceries. I made a joke about how it was a good thing I landed on the part of my rear with all the padding and avoided cracking my tail bone, took the grocery bags from my neighbor, thanked her and declined her offer to help carry them in, and proceeded to do so myself, insisting that I was just a little bruised, but I’d live.

After we got the groceries put away, we still had another errand to run, and I insisted that I was okay to go, even though I hurt like hell, so we went. It was on the way to the next store that I noticed my vision had gone all fuzzy and I didn’t seem to be thinking quite clearly. It was in the store that Matt noticed I was slurring my speech and acting like I’d had a few drinks. So we wrapped things up and went home, where I consulted Dr. Internet and figured out that I had a concussion.

Needless to say, this has all thrown my week off-kilter. I’ve spent the last few days resting, getting as much sleep as I could. I think Monday was the worst of it; not only did I feel like I’d been hit by a truck, hurting in places I didn’t even know could hurt, but I apparently had some kind of post-concussion syndrome that made me all sad and weepy and lethargic and useless.

Tuesday, though, I finally started to feel back to normal. I’m still sore, but it’s tolerable, and my head feels like it’s screwed back on straight. So I’ll be spending the rest of this week trying to make up for lost time and catch up on my article quota.

I know I have some things to be thankful for in all of this. I’m thankful that it wasn’t much, much worse. That nothing was broken, and I wasn’t seriously or permanently injured. I’m thankful Matt didn’t end up falling and getting hurt, too. And I’m thankful that we had just bought a brand new bottle of pain medication, which I needed a lot of over the last few days.

But I would really just like for Life to stop trying to play ball with us for a while, because we’re really bad at it, and we really just need a chance to catch our breath, please, ‘kay thanks.

On Curving Balls and Stretching Dollars

Sometimes, life has a way of throwing you curve balls that force you to abandon all of your plans and best intentions. Actually, life’s been throwing us an inordinate amount of those lately. The most recent involved raw sewage backing up into our bathtub, and also up through the drain under the water heater in the garage. After a couple of days of trying not to panic and praying that we wouldn’t need to call a plumber, a very helpful person on Facebook recommended Instant Power Main Line Cleaner from Home Depot. Two bottles, many pots of boiling water, and a few days later, and we’re able to shower again. Hallelujah.

All of which is why there was no post last week.

I had wanted to go over my 101 in 1001 list and talk about how that’s coming, but honestly, that feels a little overwhelming right now. I think I probably need to embark on a project that breaks the big goals down into smaller ones, but at the moment I’m too scatterbrained to figure that out.  One goal I have been working on this week, though, is creating a budget now that our income has stabilized a bit (for now). This has made me somewhat obsessive about learning how to stretch the grocery budget as far as possible. I think my husband and I both have a long way to go before we become coupon experts, but so far, these two sites are helping immensely:

1. Money Saving Mom – This blog lists weekly deals, coupons, freebies and giveaways, and has a ton of useful info for newbies (like us) to the whole couponing game. One really helpful feature is that it scouts out the best deals at various stores, like Target and Walgreens, and matches them up to coupons and rebates to help you get the ultimate savings. Pretty cool.

2. Swagbucks – I’ve been a Swagbucks user for a few years now, but I’ve always been pretty casual and passive about it, just using the search engine whenever I remembered and racking up the occasional Amazon gift card here and there. If you don’t know what this is, it’s a rewards program that randomly awards you “swagbucks” for using their Internet search engine, which you can exchange for gift cards and other prizes. You can also earn swagbucks by playing games, watching videos, taking surveys and various other activities on the site.

This week, I’ve gotten more serious — read: obsessive — about racking up those swagbucks, mainly because they also offer Target and Walmart gift cards, as well as an option to just swap your swagbucks for Paypal cash. And the awards really aren’t that hard to earn, with a little diligence. I already do a lot of searching most days while researching freelance articles. Searching alone usually gets me between 15 and 30 swagbucks a day. I’ve learned that I can significantly add to that amount pretty easily by simply installing the tool bar, going through the site’s To Do list each day (which takes less than 10 minutes), and letting the videos play on mute in another tab while I go about my business. It’s basically free money to spend at the places where we buy most of our groceries for not a lot of time and effort.

And for the sake of full disclosure, if you decide to sign up yourself using my referral link I’ll earn additonal swagbucks, not only when you sign up, but also every time you earn your own swagbucks. You’d be helping us stretch our budget as you stretch your own. That would definitely help to take the sting out of having spent the last week with our house smelling like poo.

Got any budget-friendly links or advice you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!