I could go into a long, drawn out explanation as to why I’ve not written…but I won’t. Not right now. Life has been crazy. I’m happy and excited for the future one minute, then the next, I can dream of nothing but extreme quiet. Complete peace. A sea of feathers to float upon.

Truth is, little over a year ago I uprooted myself for the job of my dreams. Without hesitation I packed and moved two hours away to enthusiastically bring arts programming to eastern NC. When that job ended due to budget cuts, it was little less than devastating, both personally and financially. After the initial shock, I hung on and eventually felt content with the laid back lifestyle of living along the Pamlico River. My many friends kept me busy as I kept my head above water best I could. I found solace in the beautiful sunsets and the walks along the river were joyful with my little Frisco by my side.

Life wasn’t perfect but it was working itself out. The small company I began working at felt like family. It didn’t pay well but they had patience and respect for their employees. The owners would bring in a crockpot of beans and sausage and biscuits about once a month and the rest of us just shared M&Ms or JuJu’s every so often. It was those small, kind gestures that I will remember best. That and the watchful eye of Mr. Billy as he cautiously found trust in his son and the employees.

In late February, a friend called to ask if I could come help with his business. He would pay me a weekly salary. While I wanted to help, I couldn’t very well leave my current employer on such short notice. Plus, I wasn’t too excited to uproot my life again after little more than a year. My little Frisco was getting older and I was’t sure she could handle another move either. I said I’d give it some thought.

About a week went by and he called again. He really needed me or he was going to have to shut down the shop. I agreed to come and talk with him on Saturday. He agreed to a weekly salary. I would work Mon-Fri and would not be required to work on Saturday so long as he could cover. To help with the transition, he offered a room with a private bath at his apt, no charge. This is until my house is available in Sept or I find another place.

With a heavy heart, I went back to Washington to talk with my boss. We went for coffee and he said he thought I was going to ask for a raise. I smiled, and said no, I’m just sorry I need to leave my position on such short notice. Effective immediately. That day was to be my last day. That was on a Monday.

That same week Wednesday, March 3rd, I began my new job managing a small independently owned company for this friend. Today is Saturday, May 6th and, while I honestly feel I could love the job itself, I’m hoping I haven’t made a very big mistake…

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2 of my paintings featured in VAE’s show “Food for Thought”. Block Party tonight as well – d/t Raleigh. Don’t miss it!
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So, the pride I feel since the end of my $1 per Day challenge can hardly be described. So many lessons and societal truths were learned that I feel could never be  taught in school or otherwise. One must witness being without before truly understanding what it means to have. I also know that I have barely scratched the surface of what interests me most today. 

 

That being said, spending money has become a bit uncomfortable for me. For the last three months, I had promised myself and others I would spend no more than $1 per day except for utilities, ongoing bills and gas for my car. Learning and becoming comfortable with bartering services, trading alternative forms of currency and pooling together resources for food, I saved every dollar that was set aside for this last Challenge. I still had the original ninetyone one dollar bills. That’s  $91.00!

People asked many questions, often ending with, “What will you do with the money you save?”

 

Hmmmm, I could donate it all to a worthy organization. I could donate it to a local struggling small business. I could give it to a homeless person. I could leave a huge tip after trying out the new Waffle House….
 

All my thoughts seemed too easy and too trivial. After all, $91 isn’t much of a donation to a large organization. Besides, much of the donations often go toward paying salaries to those who run the campaigns. 

 

After much thought and careful creative licensing, I came up with the Ninety-One Envelopes. On April 1st, we created 91 envelopes, each complete with explanation and instruction and of course, a dollar tucked inside.

The next few months, through June 30, 2012, the envelopes will circulate into the community to be shared and talked about. Dreams will be inspired, open forums will be born and a social experiment will take place.   

On or about June 30, 2012, all envelopes will be returned to the original source and great things will continue to develop. Stay tuned…

Hmmm, to what am I referring? It can’t be the laundry detergent or the homemade crackers, since I’ve already reported on that. It is, of course, coffee. In fact, to the wonderful coffee shops in the area, “I thank you”. Now here is why:

It was a couple weeks ago, after making the laundry detergent, and feeling my clothes were once again freshly washed, that I felt I could venture out in public. I agreed to meet with a potential business partner (art related) and while waiting, I decided to clean out my handbag. Women can get a little carried away with the things they stuff in their bags and then…well…carry away. I had post-it notes, coupons, pens, brochures, CDs, and gift cards. Nearly everything came out to file later but, the gift cards I decided to get to know a little better.

I had two Starbucks™ cards. I called the 800 number and after a minute or so, was informed that between the two cards I had enough money for a whole cup of coffee! Whoo Hoo!

I then called the local coffee shop to ask about that card. Although the card had been discontinued, the owner reinstated the amount lost and even doubled the amount to help me out. He had been following my story and thought it was very inspiring and a good lesson for us all. I think he missed seeing me around the place as well. Yay, I will be a lot more alert this month!

During my quest, I also learned that Chick-Fil-A never refuses an expired coupon. I had been purchasing those calendars for several years but never used the monthly coupons. Really Chick-Fil-A? Will you take a year 2009 coupon? I may have to try that.

Last week a friend invited me over for a glass of wine. This led to having dinner with her at another neighbors house. The discussion of my “Dollar a Day Challenge” came up and the  went through her pantry offering me some of the things she and her daughter would probably not eat.
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“Do you like rice,” she asked.

“Yes, I’m totally out of it,” I replied.

“Good, you can have this, it takes 30 minutes to cook and I’m not going to mess with that!”

“How about couscous?”… “How about peanut butter granola bars?” “How about this, How about that…” she continued.

It wasn’t until she asked about the sticks of butter that I really exclaimed “Yes! I need butter!!!”.

We all laughed as I tried to explain my reaction. “I love popcorn as a snack. I have a whole tub of popcorn kernels but no butter.” “What’s the fun of popcorn without butter?”
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Before the night was done, I had a better grasp of why everyone should set aside a time to look at what is in their pantry, their immediate environment, their lives. There is no better time than now to really reflect on what is really necessary.

The neighbor had taken me to the garage where shelf upon shelf was loaded with cereal boxes, boxed dinners, canned goods, you name it. She pulled down some coffee packets and handed them to me.

“Do you like coffee? I have a Keurig machine and will never use these.”

“Thank you,” I said as I walked back to my car with yet another idea.

Yes, my last post was January 16th and I was in a conundrum about my Packers’ loss in the NFL Playoffs. I have since relieved myself of that mild depression and have been on an upswing since.

My fridge and pantry are getting more and more bare but my life is being revitalized in a way I never imagined. I learned to make the best tortillas, wheat crackers, and laundry detergent all from scratch! Last night I threw an improv Mardi Gras party and made candied popcorn using Karo syrup, sugar and some almonds and pecans I had in the freezer. It was awesome!

When I first started this ninety-one day challenge, my goal was to spend no more than a dollar per day for 91 days, allowing each dollar to rollover if not spent. I was a few weeks into it without spending a dollar, and realized I wanted to finish out the month. Then I went a few days longer and then wanted to get halfway through the challenge without spending a dollar. I made it that far and, finally on Feb 20th, I broke down and made a trip to the grocery store. I just had to.

The gift card came in handy and I spent a total of $14 plus some change to get all the ingredients to make laundry detergent. I had about 3 loads of clothes to wash and the media reports about bed bugs was beginning to haunt me. I had a choice: Spend the money left on the card to buy the ingredients for the detergent or buy new sheets and undies and clothes.

I chose the former and am all the more proud.

Until next time….

My sincere apologies. I am not in a blogging mood, given my recent Packers loss in the NFL playoffs. So instead, I will continue to catch up on laundry, yardwork, taking down xmas decor, etc.

I have just two more weeks in this month. I have already gone two weeks without spending a single cent. I think I’ll push the not spending a cent to the very end (of January, that is). Then it’s back to just $1 per day.

LA