Is work optional?

The Daily Post posed this question: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, what would you do with your free time?

This question intrigued me because I’ve been contemplating this very thing for awhile now. My husband recently took on a new job and, honestly, I could quit my job and we’d survive. (My eating out habit might have to come to an end, but bill-wise – we’d survive.) In fact, we’ve even “run the numbers” as my hubby likes to say and it’d work out – both a thrilling and terrifying concept.

I’ve never been a huge fan of work, but I’ve done it since I was about 17. What would I do with my day? Would I even be able to NOT work?

So first, I’m not sure money would ever be “out of the equation” for me. It’s not my love of the almighty dollar, but my fear of it. Lean times have come and gone – times not to be forgotten or taken lightly. Pinching every cent is really not the most stress-free way to live your life and if I don’t have to then why would I choose to? Even though I know we could technically survive on my husband’s salary – it even says so on paper – it’s a scary concept to just walk away from consistent paychecks. The chest pain and shortness of breath return, just like when I couldn’t pay a bill. Or put gas in my car. Or when friends want to get a “bite” to eat and then split the bill instead of just paying for what you got – and they got full three course meals when you just got a hot dog. My head (and chest) hurts just considering it.

However. If I could get off this whole fear of money thing then quitting my 9-5 would be at the top of my list. Dreams of owning my own company have haunted me for a long time, but I’ve never been able to pin down what the company would be. That’s a problem Ted. You can’t really strike out on your own without some sort of plan. I do freelance work on Fiverr and Guru and that works out nicely. No overhead costs. No employees to pay or manage (except myself which can be just as difficult as the most surly employee) and no set schedule. I could take a beautiful day like today off and just go… enjoy it! In the middle of the week! No more waiting for the weekend hoping and praying for a decent weather day in order to enjoy my life! What a concept. But right now – the whole money thing. The pay isn’t fabulous from these freelances gigs – certainly nothing to live on. What if John left me? Where would I be then?

However, I’ve answered #3 – what would I do with my free time. Enjoy it. Do the massive amount of things on my “someday I’ll do” list. I would probably work (on my own terms) as much as I had work to do, but would take time off when I wanted like on a gorgeous day like today.

Instead – here I sit behind my desk yearning for the outdoors suffering through my 9-5 (okay – it is a cushy enough job that I’m writing a blog post in the middle of it, but still…)

So how about you? If you didn’t have to work – would you? What would you do with your free time?

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Three things that haven’t changed

Today I cracked open an old journal in the hopes of finding something new to post about or a story I had forgotten to write. What I got instead was a deep feeling of depression.

You see the journal started off about five years ago right after John and I married. In it I lament about not being a good wife and not holding up my end of the bargain in our marriage. In addition I discuss my weight battle by writing down everything I ate for about a month’s time. The first portion of the journal also documents my time on a mission trip to Galveston, Texas.

Not so bad you say?

Here’s the rub:

1) I still feel like I’m failing as a wife. Five years later. I nag too often and expect more from him than I am willing to give of myself. I know he often feels frustrated that he “can’t make me happy.” He’s right. Only I can make myself happy and I’m not doing a very good job at that either. Our communication has been lacking lately although we are trying very hard to kick start the kind of communication we once had at the onset of our relationship. But assumptions, past hurts and not enough time often leads to lapses in communication.

2) I still battle my weight. I work out, try to eat well and I’ve made some strides in this process. Although I actually weigh more now (part of the depressing part), I feel like I’m in a better frame of mind when it comes to my body. I’ve worked hard to look around me and see that everyone has their issues so it’s not just me, but also I’m noticing that no one else cares about my weight. I’m the only one. And my clothes fit and I often get complimented on my style so… I guess that’s a small win. But I’m still a slave to the food addiction. In my journal I complain that “if I could only be good on the weekends. But I tend to overeat and we eat out too much” – still guilty. I LOVE eating out. There is so much good food out there! So… I haven’t made any real progress there.

3) On my mission trip I couldn’t sleep, worried about being without John and basically didn’t get out of it what I should have… mainly due to all of my fears. STILL guilty five years later. I let my fears overrun me on a daily basis and I’m not getting out of life what I should be. I don’t often relax enough to enjoy anything due to my anxiety. I take medication to sleep (which is a God send actually) and I have neck, back and multiple other issues due to the amount of stress I carry around. I can’t let go. And I couldn’t back then. (Never could actually… this is more than a five year failure. More like forty.)  I was convinced I couldn’t do that trip without John. That he would leave me because I had gone away for a week. Once again those feelings of insecurity and unworthiness seeped in and robbed from me what I could have experienced. It was still a good experience, but… what else could it have been? And why am I still concerned with what everyone else thinks and not concerned about enjoying life?

So now I’m contemplating how I could do things differently. What I need to do to not spend the next five years (or twenty) doing the same things … or rather not accomplishing the same things.

It’s good to look back and take inventory. I want to start journaling again and be able to prove to myself a few years from now that I did make progress. And the first step is saying “No, I’m not going to do it that way anymore.” Instead I’ll make an effort to hear my husband and to do things for him for a change. Instead of worrying about every morsel I put into my mouth I’m going to appreciate who I am – no matter what weight. And instead of being fearful of everything… maybe I’ll spontaneously just go for a long weekend! (Okay – that scares the crap out of me so probably not… baby steps…)

One good thing: I did get a blog post out of it. :)

How about you? If you looked back five years in your life could you say you had made progress? If not – what do you plan on doing about it?


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Foodie Friday – Three Meals In One

Our pastor has a garden. Very often during the summer months we come home to find that said little “garden elf” has left quite a few pieces of produce on our back porch. So we’ve learned to make the most of the bounty.

Last week we were blessed with a large yellow squash, zucchini and cucumber. My husband wanted to give grilling it a try and had also been recently introduced to Gazebo Room Greek Dressing and Marinade.


He put the sliced produce into aluminum foil, poured marinade over it and plopped it on the grill. What resulted was some pretty tasty grilled veggies that caramelized in places to a golden brown yumminess. We paired it with some chicken breasts also done in the marinade and had a fine feast.


But that only used up HALF of the produce.

So the other night he decided to try it again, but we didn’t have time to fire up the grill so he used our toaster oven. Although the veggies didn’t get quite as brown, they were still quite good.

Unfortunately, I had quite a bit left. And now they were already cooked so I had to work fast to get them used up.

I thawed out some frozen shrimp that I had on hand and stir fried it up with the cooked veggies. Once they were all sauteed together I stored them in an airtight container for a quick meal the next day. I figured I could make up some instant mashed potatoes to go with them. (Yes, I do cook quite a bit from scratch, but life has been exceptionally busy so we do make occasional “short cuts”. Don’t judge.)

Today, after a nice walk, we decided to break out the stir fry for lunch.

“Do you want me to make up the potatoes too?” I asked the hubs.

“I was actually thinking we’d just put some of it in a tortilla,” he responded.

Hm… I hadn’t thought of that.

I don’t know if it was his time in Mexico as a kid but he just really loves tortillas. Like… seriously… LOVES tortillas.  He’ll put just about anything in them – some things that probably shouldn’t go in them (i.e. BBQ sauce and cheese) – so I was a bit skeptical about this blend. But I had some feta cheese to go on top and it could be kind of like a shrimp taco.

We gave it a shot.

Wow is all I can say. The combination of the Greek marinade, the stir fry flavor and the tortilla all combined to create one awesome lunch. It ranked up there as one of the ten best leftover lunches I’d ever had. It was pretty healthy too, made with stuff I had on hand and we had made three meals from ONE squash/zucchini/cucumber blend. I was impressed.

“You’re welcome,” hubby said, smug in his resourcefulness, stuffing more of his tortilla combination in his mouth.

“Watch it,” I told him, “I’ll start making you cook!”

What garden goodies do you utilize in the summer and how do you make the most of your produce haul?

Be sure to follow me on Pinterest - I pin all sorts of quick and tasty meals that I find online there!

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Here’s What’s Cookin’!

Yesterday I was chosen to host a dinner party for Chicken Soup for the Soul’s new comfort food line. Didn’t know they had a food line? You can check it out here. Basically because I am a past contributor (do you see me standing a little taller when I say that?) I submitted my name to be part of this dinner party idea and was selected! I typically don’t enter “contests” much, but this is one I really became interested in. I love Chicken Soup and the entire organization so it’s thrilling to keep being included.

They will send me some of their delicious comfort food, I’ll invite a few friends over, document our good times and submit it back to them! And post a blog about it!

Not only am I very blessed to be part of the Chicken Soup family, I’m excited to now continue working with them through this exciting new venture. Plus I hope to gain more exposure for myself through this great idea.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Here’s what I’m thinking now though: Am I being led to bigger and better things through this relationship and what do I want to do with that information? I feel pushed in a direction away from what I consider the “norm” and I’m scared.

But I’m moving forward and we’ll see where it leads! Stay tuned to my blog for more information on this exciting turn of events and to see how the party ends up!

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I’m Not Worthy

My boss bought me a new chair mat today. He didn’t even ask, but mine had been crumbling away beneath me for months. He must have noticed. But I never mentioned it because I didn’t want to be a bother. Didn’t want to seem more needy than irreplaceable.

My husband took one look at me the other night and said “You know there’s wine in the fridge. Want me to get you a glass.” Although I agreed, I felt guilty that I didn’t just get up and do it myself.”

“No,” I replied, “I can get it.” I don’t want my husband to feel like my slave. I want him to see me as a productive part of our coupling.

Then, while I was writing yesterday, my husband heard the laundry ding and he folded it and put it all away. Even most of my clothes. The laundry was right next to me and I had heard it ding too, but I was wrapped up in writing so I let it go. Next thing I knew – it was done and I felt bad that he had done it himself.

I’m here to make his life easier – that’s my job as wife. I felt guilty for not holding up my end of our bargain.

Too often, I think, we all do this same thing: we try to make ourselves smaller so people won’t notice us. We try to get it all done before others notice it needs done so, again, we remain valuable to those people.

For my boss – If I don’t say anything, just sit here quietly on my deteriorating mat, maybe he won’t notice me and I can continue in this job. I’m valuable because I’m not a nuisance. Even though I really don’t like this job, it pays the bills. But instead of thinking “I’m a valuable employee (because of the work I do – not my quiet nature). I should have a new mat,” instead I’m thinking “if I just be quiet…”

So… for me, in my head, to be valuable, it’s getting work done without complaint and getting stuff done before anyone asks. I am a good employee – I work hard, come in on time, get more than my share of work done in any given day, but I don’t see any rewards I receive in that light. I think to myself Why would anyone want me here? and Why do they keep me on? and Why do I deserve a new mat?

My value is depleted in my mind. I’m not a valuable person. My mind is so convinced that I am not worthy of anything that even a simple desk chair mat is too much. Even my husband making me pancakes this morning was too much. I’m not worthy of pancakes.

Where does this insane thinking come from? The Bible says I am worthy, I am valuable… God sent His son for ME. THAT’S how valuable I am to Him. Without doing a darn thing.

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Luke 12:7

What? He has all my hairs numbered? That’s pretty valuable. And yet, I don’t think I deserve even a new mat for my desk. That’s, what…less than $40?

So why do we all keep thinking this way? We are valuable. Each and every one of us. I’m working hard to grasp onto these biblical principles every day and claim my worth through His word. It’s slowly building my confidence.

How about you?




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Foodie Friday

I’m finding it harder and harder to get a good meal on the table these days. My hubby and I are trying hard to eat healthy, eat out less and find time for all the other chores and activities we have going on in our lives. Between work meetings, church activities and basic household chores, I sometimes forget that we need food to sustain us through all that stuff!

This week was a particularly busy one for us. John had a school meeting Monday night as well as Thursday night and I would be away for a work class all day on Wednesday. Add to that I had to fit the dog into a vet appointment for an unscheduled cyst he had on his leg and it didn’t leave much time for cooking.

We had some leftover pork and sauerkraut from the week before so that got us through Monday (Crockpot meal! And it made a ton!). As I contemplated what I could do for the rest of the week I remembered I had some frozen buttermilk biscuits (from the bag – not homemade) and some leftover frozen chicken pot pie (or chicken stew)(homemade). The biscuits take about 20 minutes to bake and, being the middle of summer, I didn’t want to turn on the oven. So I cranked up my toaster oven instead and did two at a time while I cleaned up around the house and did some writing.

I grabbed the stew out of the freezer and bagged up the baked biscuits so we’ll have dinner on the table in two shakes for the rest of the week.

What time saving food tips can you share?

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Let’s Take A Look At Your Work

I’ve been doing some freelance work over the last year or so through Fiverr.  I do some critique work as well as writer descriptions for people’s books. They can use that on Amazon or Goodreads and the like to help sell their work.

I don’t feel as though I’m quite qualified to edit people’s work, but I’ve written a bit myself and can give honest feedback. Also I do belong to a great writing critique group that has taught me a lot. (check us out – we have a conference coming in October!) I use that knowledge to help others. Along the way I have met some terrific writers as well. I don’t get a lot of money for the gigs, but I feel good helping other writers achieve their best self through their work.

The more editing, critiquing and description work I do on Fiverr the more I realize how lucky I am to have a local writing critique group. Many, obviously, are not so blessed. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my writing or even with my blogging without my critique group. My group happens to also be a Christian group so I have an extra level of fellowship with mine. Plus, I know the comments are coming from a good helpful place and not a place of jealousy or some other sort of nastiness.

We all truly care about one another.

If you’re an aspiring writer I encourage you to find yourself a good critique group. No matter how wonderful you think your writing is – you need someone to look it over. We often get too close to our work and cannot be critical. And it shouldn’t be your husband or your mother. They also cannot be objective.

All of us, let’s be honest, think our work is the best thing since sliced bread! But even J.K. Rowling has an editor and, probably, had many people read Harry Potter before it was ever published.

If you’d like to have someone give your work a once over – check me out on Fiverr:


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