Great Things Have Small Beginnings
And it is with small things this year begins.
I was out walking Buffy this morning, and I found the above ring on the ground. The Latin words rang with an elusive familiarity. Sic Parvis Magna. Great things have small beginnings.
It’s a bit of a surreal feeling to Find a Thing like this. More so because it happened on the first of the year, as I began my morning. Before I’d even had my coffee.
When I think back on the last year, it was in many ways a year of planting seeds. Visiting conferences, struggling to keep our financial heads above water, writing new things and conceiving new ideas.
2013, this new year, I would like to think of as a year of reaping what I’ve sown. If not in total summation, at least a small beginning for great things.
Do You Have A Flag?
Over the past few weeks, there’s been a sense among some of my writer friends that we have something in common. Besides, of course, being slaves to throwing words at our computers until our fingers fall off. And not knowing how to “take a break.” You know. Beyond being just a teensy bit crazy.
That communal sense is that 2013 is the Something’s Gotta Give Year.
So, like Queen Victoria a couple centuries ago, I’m going to stick a flag in it. Because as Eddie says above, those are the rules that I’ve just made up.
I’ve had this feeling for a couple years. See above re: planting, planting, planting. My fingers are muddy and bedraggled from poking them into the ground over and over again. My fingernails look like they’ve been put through a meat grinder. It’s time to tend the sheep or something and hope the fields yield a measure of success this year.
No Flag, No Country. You Can’t Have One.
Never mind that the man who (possibly) coined the motto Sic Parvis Magna was a bit of a slaver shit and had a price on his head equivalent to $4 million in the sixteenth century — I’m adopting his words. If not his practices.
(I’m speaking, of course, of Sir Francis Drake. Who is remembered as a hero to the English, but we all know that in history, the opposing side’s view — meaning the side that got stomped in most cases — can often give a better and more well-rounded image. To the Spanish and the Puerto Ricans, Drake was a nasty son of a bitch. But he died of dysentery after attacking Puerto Rico, so we can call that poetic justice.)
The flag I’ll plunk in the ground today is that motto. Maybe even rephrased a bit:
From small things, greatness.
For 2013, I’ll keep working on the small things until something great happens.
What are you adopting for 2013?
After writing yesterday’s dismal blog post and spending a blur of a night at work miserable (mostly due to my entire lack of voice and making very little money), I was feeling a bit like this:
But yesterday some help arrived in the form of advice (both from you all in the comments and from a cousin who is a financial planner) and a loan. So we should be able to reach the surface this week and stop feeling like we are drowning. My cousin is lending us what we need, and without sharing too many details, we basically don’t have to pay it back — it will be repaid in the future by something else.
His condition is that we go through our finances with him in total, and I think I’m more grateful for his advice than the money. We needed help figuring out where we’re bleeding money and where we are holding ourselves back. We also needed a professional to give us some tough love. My cousin was able to pinpoint several of those areas in just one email.
I’ve always been a planner, and there is a chance (I’m not admitting anything) that I am a closet control freak. Maybe not a control freak, but I hate feeling like I’m surviving at the whims of others like I hate the smell of artichokes. And I reeeeally hate the smell of artichokes. Makes me urp.
So here’s what I’m going to do in the next month to get us from “back on track” to “moving forward:”
1. Pick up shifts. Lots of shifts.
We need to greet the New Year with more than a squeak. We need to greet the New Year with rent on the first and all our bills on time with room to spare. Ambitious? Yeah. But picking up at least a shift a week will help with it. I’ve already picked up one for this week. I’m going to try for another.
2. No Christmas presents under the tree.
None. We can’t afford it, and the holidays will come back around in a year. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we can make up for it next year. The biggest gift we can give ourselves this year is peace of mind. We’ll spend our day off on the 25th celebrating our marriage with a good meal and honouring our commitment to building a better life for ourselves.
Plus, if the world ends on the 21st, all that money spent on presents would be wasted anyway.
3. Second jobs.
Neither of us work 40 hours a week right now because we just don’t get the hours, and because Spouse’s music school job cut his hours, it means the steady income in our household has been halved. We both need to pick up something on the side.
For me, it means trying to get my foot in the door at Cracked, pitching articles and hoping they pick a couple of them up. If I can find something else a couple days a week, I’ll do that too. Anything for a boost in income to get our debt paid down and our bills ahead of the game. For Spouse, it will probably mean getting something else a couple days a week and consolidating his lessons so they’re not spread out over 7 days and getting more clients. It’s not going to be easy. But the hard fact is that if we were both working 40 hours a week, we would be more than fine.
4. Plan for a relocation.
We know we won’t be able to buy a house here, probably ever if we’re honest. The job market may be marginally better in Maryland/DC than in other places, but the cost of living is so much higher that we could take a significant pay cut elsewhere and still have more of a buffer of income. For instance, salaries in Buffalo are 12% lower than here, but the cost of living is a whopping 37% lower there than here. That’s a difference of 25%.
I’m going to start looking for Jobs (capitalised for a reason, meaning not serving tables jobs) in the summer and see what I find. The sad truth is that if I can find a decent paying job in a city like Buffalo, it would be as much as Spouse and I make now combined, with more purchasing power.
So it’s Monday. It’s a new day. I didn’t wake up with a new lease on life, per say, but I woke up with a little less of a rained on feeling. And my voice has returned from wherever it slunk off to on Thursday. Something about literally being unable to speak doesn’t help feelings of helplessness.
Thank you to everyone who left me comments yesterday and your well-wishes. We will figure it out. I’ll keep trying to get published. I’ll bounce back. I always do.
I just needed a little tough love.
I woke up this morning with a strange, between-times sense that November was Over, but not really grasping What Came Next.
November seemed like the longest of months this year, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Last year, with NaNo, it flew by. I was barely beginning to dive into one story than I bid the 30th goodbye with a new story racing through the gates.
Willow Kitty is doing laps on the couch, Buffy Puppy is gnawing on one of her beloved bones, and I feel at once like November has been all of 2012 and none of it at the same time. It’s an odd feeling.
But it is December, and with December comes some newness. A change of pace.
Today Spouse and I begin the Whole 30, as I mentioned a couple days ago.
We both had our morning weigh-in — the last before the New Year! Spouse was at 242.8. I was at 182 even. We won’t be touching the scale until New Year’s Eve.
People at work know what I’m doing this month. I spent last night trying not to talk (my voice is a sad memory right now due to my bronchitis and coughing) and hunting around our menu for things I can eat at work during the Whole 30. The verdict was that I’ll be eating a lot of salad and modified burgers. Even the chicken is marinated in beer, which contains both gluten and sugar. Plus, you know. Beer. And alcohol this month is a no-go.
This will be perfect timing, as well — we’ll finish up on the 30th and celebrate with our tickets to see Louis C.K. in Baltimore on New Year’s Eve!
I’ve gotten several questions about how and what I will possibly eat if I won’t be eating grains, dairy, and sugar — and how I’ll cope with the horrible devastating lack without alcohol.
Fear not, gentle viewers.
For instance, breakfast today will look quite normal. Centre-cut rasher of bacon, scrambled eggs, and an orange.
Lunch will be my homemade chicken soup, full of tomatoes, carrots, celery, kale, onion, and garlic. Hearty and delicious.
And dinner will be a bit of a trial, because I’m going to a TGIO (Thank Gods Its Over) party for NaNo at Red Lobster. I’ll find something I can eat.
I’m not fussed about eating this way for a month. I’m curious to see what the results will be, and I already have an inkling that they will be good. In the last few days, Spouse and I have already sort of begun eating this way. Results? Less bloating, two pounds down on the scale. In three days of not even doing it that well.
Tomorrow’s dinner will I think be: seared turkey patties with herbs and onion over a bed of steamed kale with lemon and clarified butter (which is the one dairy exception allowed), and a crunchy salad of peas and pine nuts.
That sounds pretty tasty to me.
Instead of milk, we’re drinking unsweetened almond milk this month. We’ve also bought lots of tea (green tea and vanilla rooibos) and stocked up on fruit. I have a feeling that we’ll not only be eating better, but we’ll be spending less money on food because we’ll be eating at home instead of elsewhere.
If you’re all interested, I’ll post a few recipes over the next few weeks. With the New Year, you can expect a new and improved Emmie, ready to bust out some slick moves for the zombie apocalypse. In the spirit of the Whole 30 and ZAP, I might even do a post on edible plants. 🙂
Wish us fortitude and good choices!