The Power of Routine

Many times a year, I look at my life and think, “I haven’t really accomplished much”. I feel like I am going through the motions day after day. Then, I realize the negative self talk for what it is and I stop. I take a look at my life, I find that I AM going through the motions…and it is GOOD!

Day to day activities vary only slightly for me. Most days, I have a certain activity I will perform on Mondays, Tuesdays, etc. During the course of the day, there are certain things that I do at specific times. It is all very deliberate and intentional…though not always fun.

There is power in intentionality. The times when I feel I haven’t done much, I can look at my daily activities and say, “I speak French a little better today than I did 3 months ago. I know more Spanish words today than I did 2 weeks ago. Because of my daily walks, I am the same size I was last year.” Do you get the point?

Having a routine, a daily schedule, that doesn’t vary much day to day, but is filled with things that are important to who you are and where you want to be in life is invaluable. Because daily life can be dull, it is important to know where you are headed. By charting a course and following a plan, inch by inch, step by step, we arrive.

Traveling with Children

I love to travel with Bean. We have been traveling together since she was about 5 months old. (That is, if you don’t count using public transportation to get from one side of the city to the other as travel.) We took a road trip with my parents from Texas to California. Being the minimalist that I am, we traveled light. We didn’t need many extras on the road with the exception of the car seat and plenty of cloth diapers.

Since then, we have been many places together. Because we are both inquisitive, it is a blast. I get to see the world through her eyes and she gets a global perspective at a young age.

Last year though, I think I pushed her to do a bit too much. We only visited France and Spain, but we had many friends to see and a lot to do while we were there. By week three, Bean was fed up with traveling and ready to go home.

For our upcoming vacation, I am doing my best to remember lessons learned. When traveling with children, it is best to have a central location in which to return nightly. Bean and I wake up early in the morning. Instead of rushing right out and seeing the sites, we take our time and have a good, leisurely breakfast. We then go and see one site of interest. We eat lunch either at our vacation residence or outside, we then return for a nap.

After a few hours indoors, Bean is then recharged. We see an evening site or do something outdoors in the afternoon. We eat either inside or out, depending on what we did in the afternoon. We are usually back in by 8 and Bean can relax and unwind however she chooses. This worked for us when Bean was homesick. I am planning to stick to this schedule for the next few trips until I see a need to change things up.

If you travel with children and have a routine that works for your family, let me know about it. I would love to hear from you.

Community Gardening Rocks

For many years, I have enjoyed the idea of working in a community garden. I even romanticized the idea of an urban homestead for a while. I like the idea of being self sufficient and growing most of what you need to survive, while having access to the cultural activities a big city offers.

Bean and I have been active in community gardening for a couple of years. She loves playing in the dirt and with the water, meeting other people and sampling fresh produce. I love that she touches worms, knows where food comes from and that we can do something positive in the community.

This year, we invited a friend to share our plot with us. It was a good call! She came to meet us this weekend with a bag of tools, gloves and seedlings. I was amazed. I thought Bean and I were just going to play around again this year! We weeded, put in more soil, and planted seedlings in a flash. We now have a properly planted garden plot that will be ready to harvest in a matter of weeks. Thanks, Ms. B!

Grief

If you asked me one week ago how I would deal with the loss of a loved one, I would have told you I would accept it. I would have said that I believe they go to a better place free from the troubles of this life. I would have said that their memories keep us strong and I would be thankful for the time that I had to spend with them.

And then, I lost my dear cousin who was only 31. He was loved by everyone and everyone loved him. It was completely unexpected and all of the platitudes and expectations of loss mostly went out the window. I discovered that losing a loved one unexpectedly feels a lot like a slap in the face to your soul even if you consider yourself a positive person.

While it may have been o.k. in the past to attend funerals where lives are “celebrated” and where people “rejoice”, when you just wish you had more time with an exceptional person, it doesn’t seem so appropriate any more. The only thing I can think of to say for hurting people is “I am sorry for your loss”. If I ask how I can help, there probably isn’t a way they can think of, so, it is best for me to just help how I can. Buy a meal, send a card, clean the house, feed the pets.

In trying to discover something, anything positive on which to focus when thinking about this past weekend, I discovered something of which I am proud. I was my best, most authentic self. The person that I have always wanted to be, the giving, caring, loving person I strive to be, I was she. Therefore, Kevin, thank you for many laughs, lots of fun and for helping me to be the person I have always desired to be.

Minimalism and Me

The older I get, the less I really know…or at least, that is how I feel sometimes. For instance, after being a thrifty person for a while, it took time for me to see how it tied into other aspects of my life like being healthier and more environmentally responsible living.

Well, sometime last year I discovered a name for my “just get rid of it” tendencies…minimalism! Wow. If I could have told my family years ago, “I am just a minimalist” they might have had a better understanding of why I didn’t want their clutter in my room. My mom wouldn’t have been so worried when I would purge my closet every few months. Maybe they would have just said, “OOhhh, she is one of them.”

Discovering that I am a “minimalist” truly gave me the boldness to get rid of more things I didn’t need, without apology. I no longer need to make excuses when I ask people not to by Bean toys. If they question our lack of television, I can just say, “oh, many minimalist do without a television.”

I remember one day last year some friends with small children came by the house. Toward the end of the visit, the dad began walking around the house like he was looking for something. Finally he said, “So you don’t have a TV, what do you do for entertainment? I see you do have a CD player and books, that must be what you do.” It was very amusing to me how uncomfortable he became at the thought of us sitting and staring at the walls because we were bored to tears.

Being a minimalist has given me so much freedom to hone in on what is truly important to me. I, like most people, don’t do well with deprivation. I would not want someone telling me I can only own a certain number of items. I love the lightness of being that comes when I get the unnecessary out of my life.

Minimalism has become one of my favorite topics in the last year. I have much more to say about it, so stay tuned.

The Cheap Thrifty Frugal Queen

I am one of those people who was born thrifty (or frugal or cheap, whatever you want to call it)! I remember saving my little babysitting money so that I could buy a special baby doll, selling brownies at school to fund my camp trip, working a little part time job to pay for senior activities. I didn’t like asking my parents, or anyone, for money. When I got to the university, I worked my way through school and graduated with no debt.

I remember all of that, but I attribute one person to my decision to be debt free… my boss…when I was 19. At that time I was working at the corporate office of a home furnishing store. My boss was 24 or so, just graduating from a private university in town. She was telling someone how she went bankrupt because she was in loads of debt. She had her boyfriend crash her car somewhere so that she could get insurance money and buy a new truck.

I was HORRIFIED and determined that I would never, ever be in her situation. I found it appalling that she could even brag. The next day I heard a lady on the radio named Mary Lynn Hunt. She opened my eyes to the fact that people do get in debt, but they can get out. Listening to her lead me to Dave Ramsey, who lead me to Amy Dacizyn. I was reading get out of debt books for fun! I found a way to make my meager salary last and do all the things I most wanted.

I have never looked back. I am blessed to have learned many valuable lessons that have kept me through my single life, my married life and now my single parent life. I believe that if you are in debt, you can get out… and most importantly, you CAN live most of your life debt free. I am proof!

What is a SPOC?

In trying to decide what the best name for this blog should be, I had several ideas. I bounced some ideas around with my brother and I came up with SPOC. It simply meant a single parent of color. I thought I was so brilliant, until I looked online and discovered others have thought of SPOCs too. Still, it fit me.

In my daily life, I see myself as a world citizen. I feel, for the purpose of this blog, the importance of stressing that I am a person of color, simple for the fact that people often feel that what I do it special. I would like to refute that and open your eyes to the fact that you can do it too. It does not matter whether you are single, married, have children or not, if you are alive and have the desire to live differently, you can live a debt free life of travel and adventure too.

I don’t meet single parents like me often. If you are reading this, I would love to know you are out there! Drop me a line.

Welcome

Rejoice single parents, you can still live a life of adventure. I am a single mom of one and I am here to let you know that we too can live the life that we want to live. I know that not everyone wants to travel the world and experience extraordinary events. Some people are content to stay home and are satisfied with putting food on the table week after week. That’s fine if that is TRULY what you want to do. But, if you are like me and the day to day life is just not enough, join in on my adventure of life.

I am not here to tell you how to do the things I do. There are plenty of people out here that offer that kind of advice! I am here to share with you what I do and tell you how I make it happen. I work a 9-5. I also work in a field that is not well paid, yet my child and I travel to a new country yearly. We live a simple, wholesome, debt-free life of adventure and expectation.

Come join our journey.