Sunday, January 31, 2010

Orphan Winter Survival

I'm in the middle of a snow storm now. I have several cans of food saved up. I got some candles and a lighter and a flash light. I got to leave work early. My tires were covered in ice. Thought I would post on the topic on how to survive in winter as an orphan.

1. Store up extra cans of food before winter. I buy some extra cans and stuff them in the back of the cabinet and let them pile up over a few months. This way incase there is a storm and I can't go get food I will have food already. Also the stores were so busy before the storm and fights broke out. I was already prepared.

2. Collect some candles and a few lighters. They provide light and warmth. If you lose power you will have light and some warmth.

3. Make sure you have a flash light. I have a small crappy one. I figure candles will be enough. I will invest in a nice flashlight one day. Maybe the kind that don't need batteries and you just shake it to make it work.

4. Warm clothes and blankets. You will need to stay warm. If you lose power you may not be able to go to a shelter because of ice. So layer up and stay warm.

5. Get batteries to that radio. You will need to find out where nearby shelters are incase you lose power.

6. Charge up your phone. You my need to call in your are stuck with out food etc.

7. Keep that laptop battery fully charged. You can check the weather online and find local shelters.

8. Spare ice. I keep a bowl of frozen water in my freezer incase the pipes break and I have no water. This happened in the summertime. The water was shut off and I wanted some tea. So I melted some ice cubes and made some tea.

9. Keep your faucets dripping. All faucets, even the bath tub. A thin stream of water falling from your faucet will keep your pipes from freezing and breaking in below freezing temperatures. Below freezing is 32F degrees, Just so you know. And of course it is also 0C.

10. Keep that gas tank full. This keeps your tank from getting moisture in it and freezing. Also you may have to drive to get food or something. So keep your gas tank at least half way full all through winter.

11. I keep my windows covers with blankets to keep warm air in and cold air out.

12. When you are driving and you start to slide on ice or snow, pump your breaks. Not all cars have anti-lock breaks. My other cars did. My current car doesn't and I hate it.

13. Keep your car doors locked and don't leave anything valuable inside your car. There are many car thefts in the winter time. Keep you car clean and empty. So when burglars look inside they have no reason to break into your car.

14. Keep an ice scrapper in your car. You need to scrap that ice off your windshield before driving. Make sure to have your defroster on while your scrap that ice off and don't lock yourself out of your car.

15. Keep some extra blankets and flash light and canned food and can opener in the trunk of your car incase you get stranded somewhere. Very rare in the city but if you are out in the country this could save your life.

16. Also have a cell phone charger for you car. Yes, there are cell phone chargers that you can attached to your car cigarette lighter and it will charge your phone incase you break down and need to call for help. I once had one but I never used it.

17. Remember to call 911 for emergencies. I know that seems obvious but you would be surprises at what guardians never teach their kids.

18. NEVER pour hot water on ice. Never pour hot water on a frozen car windshield. It will crack. Scrapping is the best you can do.

I can't think of anything else. Stay warm. Summer is easier. Winter can be so dangerous. I hope I covered the most important stuff. Wow, the lights just flickered. Ice covers the power lines and car break them also cars can slide off the road and hit utility poles and thats how the power goes out usually. Its kinda scary. Some people are out of power for days. Oh shit. The lights are flickering again. AHHHH! No! I'm an orphan. I have no where to go and no one to take care of me. Don't let the power go out! This is Deathany reminding you that it sure sucks to be an orphan. Bye!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tips for families who have just adopted

It is great when a family has the love and compassion to open up their home to an orphan. Some may think it is easy, especially relatives that become guardians. It is not like raising one of your own. They have special needs. If those needs are not met then the happy family that you had hoped for my end up becoming a nightmare for everyone.

1. Understand that females and males tend to grieve differently. Males tend to be more quiet and reserved while females may want to talk about it. I wanted to talk but I didn't. I was quiet and kept to myself. I never really became myself until college when I was away from my former guardians. A few times I did try to be myself around them but I got in trouble so I just kept quiet and stayed in my room listening to music. Now I have tried to talk about it. I've asked my sister and my aunt about my mom. Understand that weather your new child is quiet or talkative make sure to be there for them. If they talk, listen to them. If they are quiet, try talking to them a little. If they don't want to talk, then just be there for them. Let them sit and watch tv with you. Take them out to lunch. Spend time with them. Give them attention. make them feel like a part of the family not just some adopted kid sitting in the corner watching.

2. Understand that they will not stop grieving just because they have been adopted. For the rest of their life they will miss their parents and think about them every now and then. Never tell them to get over it. It just doesn't happen that way.

3. Nightmares are very common for orphans. They may have dreams of talking to their parents or their parents coming back. It my not be a scary dream but it certainly doesn't help the grief. Don't shrug it off. Show them that you care and are concerned. Make sure they don't eat a meal right before going to bed. This makes nightmares more likely. Wake them up in the morning so the first thing they see is you. I find the worst part of being an orphan is waking up. Thats when I remember my reality. Every morning it hits like a ton of bricks again.

4. Watch out for "triggers". Triggers are things that may bring back sad memories of their parents. Avoid movies that include characters that die in the story. There are a lot of movies like that. Movies are meant to be enjoyed. Maybe try some classic Gumby. Gumby was actually created by an orphan named Art Clokey. I think they may be one of the reasons why the Gumby shows are so good for young orphan kids. Watch out for other triggers like their parents names, food their parents made, places their parents took them. Triggers will cause them to cry and stress out. Certain times of the year can be triggers. For example the anniversary of their parents death may make them more vulnerable. Also Mother's and Father's Day can be very awkward and upsetting for them. Take these into consideration and don't get upset if they get upset. Try to plan ahead and make it easier for them during those times.

5. Understand that you will never replace their first mom and/or dad. I found it very difficult to call my aunt "mom" and my uncle "dad". So I didn't. Sadly my aunt took this the wrong way and felt like I didn't accept her and that I had rejected her. She was hurt and didn't understand why I couldn't call her "mother" or "mom". That may be why she started to treat me differently than her own kids.

6. Don't treat them differently than your own kids. They will notice. Don't treat them like they have something wrong with them just because they are an orphan. Even when I got older and went off to college I would get "family" letters about the happenings of our family. I was never mentioned. Even when I graduated I was never mentioned. She only mentioned her own kids and their jobs and kids. Don't make your new adopted child the black sheep of the family.

7. Be mother/father to them. Don't just let them live quietly in your house and hope that they move out once they are 18 so you can retire. If they are female make sure to teach them things that other girls would learn at her age. For example cooking, how to put on make-up, and how to dress for certain occasions. No one is gonna want to marry a girl who can't cook because her dead mom never taught her and her adoptive mom was too lazy to teach her. If the orphan is male teach him how to play sports, teach him about cars and how to fix them, teach him how to tie a necktie, teach him about finances. There is so much these kids need to learn. My aunt sells Avon and she never once showed my how to put on make up. She never let me go to prom. She never taught me about dating or what to wear on a date or how to act. She never taught me how to cook. The whole point of adopting or becoming guardian is to make their lives easier. So teach them things they will need to know for when they have a family of their own. The only thing my Aunt and Uncle taught me was how to drive and got me my first job so they could get me out of their house.

8. Let them make friends and spend time with other kids. I was sent to three different high schools after my mom died. The first move was because of location, the second was because she wanted me to go to a Christian school. When a teen goes from school to school they aren't going to make any friends. Also when you move them to a school where their grade has only 12 other teens in it they aren't going to make any friends. If you child is home-schooled make sure that they somehow learn social skills and are able to spend time with kids their own age. Otherwise when they grow up how will they find a spouse and start their own family? My aunt would have Bible study and my cousins found their wives from the Bible study. Even my sister found her husband at the Bible study that was held at my Aunt and Uncles home. But when it was my turn they stopped having Bible study. They didn't care if I was alone.

9. Never say you wish you had never adopted them. Never say that you can't wait until they are out of their house. This makes them feel terrible and very unwanted and unloved. I bet you can't imagine who said it to me.

10. Never give up. If it was your own child you would never stop loving them. Why stop loving the adopted child? Are you not mature enough as human being to take responsibility for your own actions? Are you just going to quit when things get difficult? Thats not what parents are. Parents never give up, they never stop loving, they try to understand, they are selfless instead of selfish.

I'm not sure at what point my Aunt and Uncle didn't want me anymore or what I did to make them feel that way. I just wanted to be myself. I just hope other orphans have better luck and I hope adoptive families will learn and take better care of their new family members.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to ease the pain of grief and sorrow?

We all want to make life easier. Everyday I wish life were easier for me. I never want the pain to come back. As time has gone by I have made some discoveries that have show me how to ease the pain. I don't forget who I have lost. But I am not overwhelmed my grief as much anymore.

1. Helping others. When I help others cope with pain and grief it takes the pain away from me. I'm not sure how. Perhaps helping someone heal is also helping me heal. We all heal together.

2. Donating to help others. When you donate money to help others in need it makes you feel like you have really made a difference. My pain goes away. I feel stronger. Like I have righted a wrong. It almost feels addicting. And it is especially easy. Everyone should donate to an organization at least once in their life.

3. Cleaning and decluttering. I know sometimes when you are really sad or going through a tough time we lack the inspiration or motivation to clean our home. But once I get started I feel like I am accomplishing something and when I declutter my place my stress is watered down. My life seems more simple and organized. I went through some boxes of things and donated to Goodwill. It feels good to get rid of things I don't need.

4. Reading a good book. The books that I find that help me are the ones that inspire me. I like biographies because I can walk in someone else's shoes and try to relate. I also like books about Zen sayings and see how they relate to my life experiences. Sometimes the book makes me cry but its a nice crying. A healthy crying. Other times I laugh because I find something funny and I read something that is so me.

5. Be a kid again. Eat a little bit of chocolate. Try to get some chocolate that isn't made by child slaves off the Ivory coast at This will make you feel even better knowing that you have made a difference yet again. Sit and watch some cartoons. Relax. See the good things in life. Take is easy.

6. Take life a little bit slower. Drive the speed limit. Eat slower. Read slower. By doing things slower you are taking time to enjoy life more. This will also reduce stress.

7. Enjoy the weather. Sit outside on the porch and relax. Look up at the sky. Feel the breeze. Think about the good things in life. Think about the future and what you hope to accomplish. Try watching the sunrise. There are times when I am outside getting the mail and I think "Gosh, when I get back to the house I'm gonna sit on the porch and relax" because its such nice weather out.

One milestone in my life that has made life seem amazing was the Hope For Haiti Now telethon. It was a worldwide telethon to raise awareness and donations to help Haiti. It was awesome. Yes, the earthquake was tragic but how the world came together to help is exactly what I have been wanting for years. I would wake up every morning wondering how can someone change the world really fast? I watched the live tweets about Haiti. People tweeted about crying like they had never cried before. It was so inspiring. So much hope. So much unity. People crying and hearts growing all around the world. I loved it. The world is learning to love again. I wish my mother could have seen it all. It was so nice waking up the morning after knowing that lives have been changed. Hopefully life will be easier for the orphans now. People won't laugh when we tell them our parents are dead. Friday, January 22, 2010 had to be one of the best times of my life. Twitter is awesome. Like a world wide message board. I hope we never forget that night.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Anderson Cooper - The Silver Fox with a Heart of Gold

Most of my posts are just articles trying to help other orphans, and make the world a better place. But I thought I might give an update on more personal things right now.

As you may know an earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude hit Haiti a little over a week ago. Thousands of kids were orphaned as a result. One thing that I find very inspiring is how Anderson Cooper, a reporter of CNN, has been shining the spotlight on the orphans of Haiti. I love this. He actually realizes the impact of becoming an orphan. Back when 9/11 happened I never heard anything about any orphans. Same with hurricane Katrina.

Ironically when I was a teen living with my aunt, she had a pile of bumper stickers that said "CNN lies". So we never watched CNN. Never quite understood the whole CNN lies thing. I never put one on my car. Now I am glad.

It has all been so inspiring. The people of the US are realizing it sucks to be an orphan. I just can't wait until Haitian orphans are able to be adopted and Anderson Cooper covers it all. Could you imagine having your life changed and getting adopted because someone like Cooper has a heart?

There needs to be more men in the world like Anderson Cooper. Men who are not afraid to care. Men who know right from wrong. Men who have a heart. Men who make a difference.

Anderson is one of us. He has had a hard life. He lost his father at a young age and then lost his older brother to suicide. Again it seems like tragedy is what makes us grow hearts and keeps us human. He has been a reporter for CNN for several years and covered several tragedies including the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina. I he recently published a book called Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival on his experiences as a reporter. He has been dubbed "The Silver Fox" hence his silver white hair. His silver hair is probably a result of such a painful life. But he still has the sweetest mother.

On Saturday, January 23, 2010 according to Anderson decided to stay in Haiti and report for another week. Great, more help for the orphans of Haiti with orphan awareness. People all around the world need to see that these orphans need new families.

Who knows how long it will be before the orphans can be adopted from Haiti. Right now there are still bodies that need to be uncovered, mouths that need to be fed, wounds that need to be healed, many people still have many needs. Then buildings need to be rebuilt and soon after that maybe the adoption process can get going. It could be a few months or maybe a year or more. Lets just hope our hero Anderson Cooper covers it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hope for Haiti - Watch on

Adopting an Orphan from Haiti

The recent tragedy in Haiti has been very upsetting. But I also see that it is bringing the world together to help Haiti. It has opened peoples eyes and their hearts. Millions of people around the world want to help. It think that is great. I hope it just gets better from here on for Haiti.

I haven't really touched on the topic of adopting orphans from outside the US. I think this is an excellent time. Before the Earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, 2010 there were already thousands of orphans in the process of being adopted. Now there are even more. It is very heartbreaking. Its a very hard time for them now. As a result of the earthquake the adoption process has been put on hold. Many orphanages have collapsed in the tragedy and various adoption paperwork has been destroyed. But even more people around the world want to help and adopt.

I suggest that everyone who cares should donate at least once a week to help Haiti. The most we help the faster the recovery. The sooner we can help these orphans. I found a site that has a list of several organization that you can donate to

Thank you so much for wanting to adopt a Haitian Orphan. Don't give up on the wait. It means the world to these little ones. You will be making their lives so much easier.

More info on Haitian orphan adoption:
These links contain info about paperwork and passports etc. Hopefully this can help you do your research while we wait and donate.

Haiti Adoption

This one is espeically nice. It is a blog written by a family that has already gone through the wait and paperwork of adopting an orphan from Haiti.

Beathany Christian Services - Haiti - The Voice of Adoption

Any updates or other links I come across I will post here:

Again don't forget to donate at least $10 once a week to help Haiti.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to save money on gas

Back in college I never had to drive. I could always walk everywhere. I saved so much money. Now I live in the city and sometimes you gotta think of other ways to save gas. Here are a few.

1. Drive the speed limit. You use more less gas when you drive slower.

2. Fill up the gas tank in the morning when the gas is cool. You will get more in your tank this way. Later in the day the gas will be hotter and will expand and you won't get as much gas that you are paying for. This rule is especially true during the summer.

3. Drive less. Stock up on movies and food on Friday and stay home all weekend.

4. Keep your tires aired up. Low tires makes your car work harder and wastes gas.

5. Turn the air conditioner down a tad. The air conditioner makes the engine work harder and use more gas.

6. Ride a bike.

7. Carpool. This may not save gas for the person driving since the car will weight more and cause the engine to work harder but you won't have to pay for the gas.

8. Gas is usually cheaper a few days before the holidays.

9. There are some websites online where you can see who has the cheapest gas prices. Just google "cheap gas prices".

10. Get pizza delivered. That can save you some gas. Shop online and get stuff delivered. You can even get your groceries delivered.

I remember back when gas was so much cheaper. I can't even remember what it was like to get a full tank. You would think people would be driving less but they aren't. I supposed thats a good thing. I think its easier to cut your electricity bill than your gasoline costs.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ways to Relax in Winter and Summer

I am burning a candle and listening to nature sounds of a thunderstorm and my dog just farted and it smells terrible. He totally just ruined my zen. Anyways I have found that it is somewhat more difficult to relax in the winter for me. Summer is so much easier. If you can find ways of relaxing you enjoy life more and reduce stress and cope with grief easier. This topic is divided into two parts. Winter and Summer. Spring and Fall tend to be very short and are very easy to enjoy.

Ways to relax in Winter

1. Warm bath. Sometimes it can be difficult to get warm water in the winter. But if you do it is so nice to take a warm bath. It was so nice as a child to be in the bathtub and it was so big. Now the tub is so small.

2. Candles. Its nice to watch a warm glow in your home. Write something or read a book while burning a candle. Try a vanilla, or gardenia candle. The possibilities are endless.

3. Snowfall. Its so nice to watch snow. Its also nice when you get to stay home and not have to go to work or school because of the snow. Its like you are a kid again.

4. Warm Tea. It keeps you healthy and warm. Also tea is out of season in the winter and the tea you have to make by hand is usually the only kind available. It is at least the cheapest. I recommend the Green Tea.

5. Warm bed. Just like a warm bath only your hands don't get all wrinkled. Extra blankets save energy and a nice stuffed animal is fun to put your head on.

6. No rapists. Rapists are much more likely to roam in warmer weather. I still keep an eye out while walking from my car to my door. This is not meant to be funny. I am serious.

7. The holidays. The holiday can be stressful but yet its nice to hear the Christmas songs for a while and see the Christmas lights.

8. A new year. Everyone likes a new start. It makes life more exciting. Something to look forward to.

9. No birds. Yes, no annoying birds chirping in the morning. We really take this one for granted. Then summer comes around and we have to get up early because of those darn birds.

10. Driving slower. Icy roads force you to drive slower. This saves gas also.

11. More gas in your tank. Since gas expands when it is hot you get more when its cold out. You should always full up your tank on a cool morning anyways so you get more.

12. Don't have to walk the dog as much. Its a snow storm out there. Keep the pup inside.

Ways to relax in Summer

1. Sunsets and sunrises.
With the nice weather it is easy to go out onto the porch and watch the sunset or sunrise.

2. Rain storms. Summers have frequent rainfall. Its nice to listen to the rain and take a nap. Rainy days tend to make you sleepy. Its also nice to watch the rain fall from your window. Maybe put a jar outside and watch the rain fill up the jar.

3. Growing plants. You can also grow plants in the summertime. Its like having a tiny little green kid. Watching it grow from day to day. And seeds are quite inexpensive.

4. Less clothes. Spending time at home in more casual wear. Its much more relaxing and free. Much better than having to wear sweaters all the time.

5. Candles. Who says candles are for winter only? Yes, they may be a little too much if you have the AC on. But on a stormy night a candle is nice while you read a book.

6. Longer days.
When the sunsets later you can stay out longer. Remember to go inside when the sun goes down. Thats when rapists tend to prowl.

7. Tires stay aired up. Since air expands when it is hot, your tires stay well inflated. In the winter tires tend to have a beer belly.

8. Gas tank stays more full. Gas expands when hot. So it looks like its more full. In the winter is always looks like I need gas. Plus in the winter you need to keep your tank full to prevent moisture from freezing in it.

9. The Zoo
. Yay yes the zoo is free in the winter but how inconvenient. Take a nice trip with some friends to the zoo and enjoy nature and eat some food.

10. The ice cream man. Ice cream delivery. Even if you don't buy any ice cream because of the price, your diet, or other ethical reasons, you can still enjoy that little tune the truck plays when going through the neighborhood.

11. Walk the dog. In the cold months you can't walk the dog in a snow storm. But in the summertime you definitely can. Just be on the look out for other dogs.

12. Cheaper electricity bill. Its the heater that takes a toll on your electricity bill. In the summertime you can really save on your electricity bill. Open a window and let a cool breeze in. I bet that breeze is also enjoyable.

I still prefer summertime. Winter tends to be a hassle for me which is why I wrote this. Trying to find the positive in a situation. Now I have a little to help me relax but I still can't wait for summer.

50 Ways to Save Money to the Extreme

Want to get ahead in the economy and in life? Here are 50 drastic ways to cut on everyday costs. I should change all the numbers to little boxes so you can check ' em off. Make sure to pass this list on to all of your friends.

1. Cut your dryer sheets in half. Only use one half at a time.

2. Drive the speed limit. Everyone speeds but if we drove a little slower we would avoid traffic tickets and save gas.

3. Unplug your tv, microwave etc. when not in use. This cut my electricity bill in half. I also lost some weight plugging things back in when I needed them.

4. Bring a lunch to work. I used to go to a nearby restaurant everyday but now I just bring something cheaper to heat up in the microwave. This not only saves money spend on fast food but on the gas it would take to go to and from the restaurant.

5. Fill your gas tank when its cold. In the winter time this is easy. In the summer time make sure to fill up your gas tank in the morning. As the day goes by the temperature gets hotter and gas expands causing you get get less gas for your money if you choose to fill up in the afternoon.

6. Keep your gas tank at least half full in the winter time. Condensation may collect in your gas tank and cause engine problems. Keeping your tank more than half full will prevent this.

7. Buy those energy saving light bulbs. they look more like coils than bulbs. They last longer and save energy. This should reduce your electricity bill.

8. Lose the landline phone and just use your own personal cell phone.

9. Eat healthier. This will build up your immune system keeping you from getting sick and preventing hospital bills.

10. Cut your own hair. Get some clippers from the store. They come with attachments where you can buzz off your hair leaving about an inch long all around.

11. Add a little bit of water to your milk when having cereal. You will barely notice. Your milk will last longer. I've tried just using water when I run out of milk and it just looks gross and isn't as cold.

12. Water down your shampoo. Make sure to shake it up. Its going to be kinda runny.

13. If its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down. This will help the water bill. I don't recommend it if you have any ladies in the house.

14. A full freezer uses less power to stay cold.

15. Get rid of those credit cards. They only create debt.

16. Use Forever stamps. These stamps can be used at any time. Even if the cost of postage goes up. So you don't have to buy one cent stamps to keep up with the cost of postage.

17. Pay bills online. then you save envelopes and stamps. Sometimes you can get a discount for paying bills online.

18. Some car insurance companies will give you a discount if your car insurance is automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month.

19. Check with your electricity company to see if you can sign up to pay the average amount that you use each month. It will be kinda high in the summer but it will help you in the winter.

20. Sit down each pay day and plan out your expenses. If you have any extra money, put it in a savings account. It is always good to have some money set aside just incase you lose your job or there is some type of an emergency.

21. Also keep in mind that when you put money in a savings account you earn interest. Its like getting paid to save money.

22. Stay in on your days off. Relax and plan your budget. This will save gas and unnecessary expenses.

23. Have your girlfriend cook for you at home instead of going out to a restaurant. She needs to get ready for the married life.

24. Join Netflix instead of buying or renting movies. Netflix saves gas and late fees.

25. Borrow books from the library rather than buying new from the local store. Library cards are free and you might meet a girl that can actually read.

26. Buy online. The cost of having something shipped to you is cheaper than you driving to the store to get it. You can also get it cheaper online. YOu just have to wait a little longer to get it.

27. Instead of going to the strip club, have your girlfriend/wife strip for you. That way you don't have to tip her.

28. Save unwanted Holiday gifts you got this year and re-give them to other people next year.

29. Give the toilet paper core to your dog. They love chewing on them. And its cheap too. You just saved $5 on a dog toy that would have only lasted a week anyways.

30. Finding professional clothes for work at a thrift store can be difficult but they do have a lot of ties to choose from at really good prices. Maybe even some belts too.

31. If you take your girl out to the movies, take her before 7pm. The ticket prices will be cheaper and the sun may be setting when the movie is over. Oh, how romantic.

32. Buy less cable channels and go over to your friends house to watch tv. Eat his food while your at it.

33. Text your friends instead of calling them. Texting is cheaper for me. Not for everyone though.

34. Wash your dishes by hand. This will save water and electricity.

35. When washing clothes use the warm setting and not hot. This will save electricity.

36. Use coupons. If a chick sees you using coupons she may be impressed and follow you home.

37. Stop buying soda and drink tap water.

38. Grow your own veggies. Free water and veggies. Its like you're a freaking hippie.

39. Get rid of your internet and take your laptop to places that have free wifi like Taco Bell, Barnes & Noble, Panera and McDonalds.

40. Buy a winter coat in the spring when they are on sale.

41. Buy summer clothes in the fall when they are on sale.

42. Don't have kids until the economy gets better.

43. Don't get married until the economy gets better.

44. Stop dating. Spend your hard earned money on your savings account and not on her.

45. Don't renew those magazine subscriptions. You can view free magazines online. There are a few exceptions to this rule if you know what I mean.

46. Do your laundry at your friends house.

47. Drive less and get an oil change less often. If I got an oil change every 3,000 miles like they say I'm supposed to I would be getting an oil change once a year. So I have to settle for every 3-4 months.

48. Pay bills with your debt card. Remember the thing I mentioned earlier that takes money that you actually have out of your bank account? Use that and save money by not using checks.

49. If you do plan on getting married, try to talk her into eloping rather than having a big wedding. Just take a nice romantic trip instead. Or post-pone the wedding until the economy gets better.

50. Get a prenuptial agreement just incase things don't work out. Its like divorce insurance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to save money and make it grow

1. Open a savings account with a bank. Usually you have to open a checking account first and then have at least $25 to open the savings account.

2. Put some money into the account each paycheck. Even if its just $10 or $100. This is how it will grow.

3. Plan your budget. Write down what you earn each week. Write down how much each of your bills are. See if you have any money left. Take what money you have left and put it into savings.

4. If you don't have much money left after bills are paid then try to make some extra money. Maybe a second job, or sell somethings. Maybe try to cut down on some of those bills. Like get rid of cable, or buy cheaper food, or use less electricity. See my post on ways to save money.

5. Find out when your savings account is compounded. Is it monthly or quarterly? If it is quarterly then every three months your banks statement will show how much interest you have earned with the money that you put into savings. If its monthly it will compound it each month.

6. Calculate how much you will have if you keep saving. If you put $10 in savings each month you will have $120 in a year. if you put $100 in each month you will have $1,200 in a year. It give you a goal and something to look forward to.

7. If someone give you some cash for a holiday gift. Put it into savings. Use those dumb gift cards to buy stuff that you need and take the money you saved and put that into savings. Take your tax refund money and put it into savings.

8. Always think of ways to save money. Maybe you will think of something no one else has thought of and then you be a head in the game.

9. Never take money out of savings unless its an emergency like if you need to pay a deductible as a result of a car accident.

10. Decide why you want to save money. If you are saving up to buy something, or saving just for financial security, or saving for a millionaire retirement. Set a goal. How much do you want to have saved in a month? How much in a year? How much in ten years?

11. They say to envision what it will be like once you reach your goal. I have read this but have never really thought about it. What will you do once you reach your goal?

12. Remember the more you have in savings, the more interest you gain.

Moving in with a new family

After the loss of a parent one may move in with guardians or be adopted. Its nice when you are adopted because that means that they actually want you to be in their family. They pay money to have you in their family. But moving in with guardians isn't as welcoming.

When my mom died my aunt and uncle took me in. I was not adopted because I would lose my scholarship if I were and also I don't think they could afford it. When you are adopted the family really wants you and treats you like a member of the family. But sometimes families become guardians just because they feel they have to.

Also I was 15 and I found it difficult to adjust. Most teens do. But as time went on I realized they didn't treat me like part of the family. Especially when I got older and went off to college. They would encourage their own kids to get married and they would ask how they are doing but they would never ask anything about my life. In HIgh school they wouldn't pick me up from school on time. I remember once they had to drive me to school and they didn't know which school I went to. They drove me to the wrong school. Then they suggested another one and it was still the wrong school.

I remember after I graduated from college and I had been working at a company for half a year, my uncle asked how classes were. My uncle even attended my college graduation and didn't even remember me graduating.

Here is my advice to orphans that have been put in new families. If things are going well, then good. Enjoy it. Be thankful. But if things are more like what has happened to me then here are some pointers.

1. Save money. Once you get your first job make sure to put some into a savings account. My Aunt and Uncle wanted me out of the house fast. Ironically they have a 40 year old son who is still living with them. So make sure to save up some money so you can get your own place just incase they throw you out.

2. Make some friends. Its always nice to have some roommates for when you get your own place and get away from the family that doesn't want you. I know when I was a teen I was very quite and I didn't have very many friends. College is what helped me. I guess that counts and moving away and getting my own place.

3. Keep your mouth shut. Their own kids can say what they want and not have to worry about losing their home. But if you say anything they don't like they will consider getting rid of you. I just stayed quite. I sat in my room and listened to music. I spent a little time online. Once I got a job and my car I went to concerts and made some friends. I know being quite and keeping to yourself and keep you from getting close to your relatives but I knew the ones that I were with weren't gonna change their minds about me.

4. Enjoy school.
I miss school so much. You can be yourself. Be with kids your own age. No guardians around. Like a little vacation from them. I loved lunch time and art class.

5. Think for yourself. I was put into a Christian home and they had some really messed up ways of thinking. I remember my aunt sat me down and told me that Its wrong for me to like boys and that I have to stop talking to them or I will go to hell. I once gave my phone number to a boy at youth group and when he called my aunt picked up the phone and told him to never call again. I blame her for ruining my young romance life. Once you get into college most of the good guys are married and the ones that are left are lazy druggies that play videos games all the time. I should have realized that of course its normal for me to talk to and like boys. One day you will really be on your own and you need to learn to think for yourself and make your own decisions.

6. Keep a journal. Remember how I said my aunt told me that I can't talk to boys anymore. Well she denies ever saying that. But I kept a journal and wrote it down when it happened. So I know it happened. How could I make that up? Also keeping a journal reminds you of how messed up your guardians are. The dumb things they do. How unfair they are to you. The hateful things they say.

A real family that cares will be supportive. They will understand you are going through a hard life. When you show them your artwork they won't say it looks like crap. My mom would NEVER have said that. A real family will continue to be supportive even after you turn 18 and move out. They would never say " I wish you were out of this house". Most of the time there isn't much we can do when we have crappy people taking care of us. Yes, they are feeding us and giving us shelter but is it too much to ask to be nice and understanding and not screw up our lives even more? Remember some kids have it even worse. Some are abused or neglected. And remember to try to enjoy life. I lived in the attic and some mice would visit every now and then.

If I could go back I would have done a lot differently. I would have pretended to be a lesbian. And have tons of pics of women in my room and cut my hair short. Then my aunt would tell me to hang out with boys rather than girls. And plus it would be fun to pretend to be a lesbian. I would also have gotten rid of things that I don't need. Just kept clothes and cds and the basic things. They way it would be easy for when I had to move out. I also couldn't make art back them because Christians only like paintings of Jesus and stuff. Those are the main things I would have changed if I could go back. Also save money. I actually did save quite a bit with my first job since I never went out and didn't have to pay rent. I have $2,000 saved up when I was about to go off to college. I hope this all helps. Any questions email me. I will also work on an article just for families who have just adopted or become guardian. I think this will help a lot. *hugs*

Monday, January 18, 2010

Creating a minimalist kitchen

I always thought the kitchen would be the easiest to declutter and make minimal. For some this isn't true. Most things can be stored in cabinets and in the fridge.

1. Keep the counter clean and free of items on it. My aunt would stack cereal boxes and bags of chips on the counter. Terrible. I put my cereal boxes in the fridge. It keep bugs from getting inside. Then the bags of chips can go where the cereal would normally go. (in some cabinet above the stove I think).

2. Salt and pepper shakers should be small and out of the way. Perhaps on the dinner table. I don't have a dinner table so I keep mine on a little shelf above the sink. I used to have a pair of salt and pepper shakers on a dish. I got rid of the dish and replaced the salt and pepper shakers with a pair of Ying Yang Salt & Pepper Shaker . The two join together taking up less space and has a little dish it sits on. Perfect.

3. Clear the fridge. Not the inside but the outside. Keep your magnets down to a few. I pity you if you have those alphabet letters on your fridge. They are cool but very clutter. Get rid of those. Just a few magnets. I have about 5 and I keep emergency numbers stuck to the fridge door. Also a few groceries receipts to keep track of my spending. And a picture of a hot guy to greet me in the morning. Any extra magnets I stuck on the side of the fridge where you can't see it because its next to a wall.

4. Keep the stove top clear. Put pans in the cabinets. And how many pans do you need? A small one, a large one, and a frying pan. Anything other kinds? You don't need ten different pans.

5. Keep the sink empty. I wash my dishes by hand right after I eat. Then out them away. So the sink stays clean and empty. If you don't have time then rinse the dish and put it in the dishwasher. Don't stack dirty dishes in the the sink.

6. I got rid of my microwave. I started making funny noises. So I took it to a recycling center. I decided to not get another one and save some money. I did want to get a nice small one. Maybe black or white but I liked having the space too. Now I just cook with the stove. How zen.

7. Keep that floor clean. No rugs in the kitchen. Maybe a little mat in front of the sink. Keep the dogs food and water out of the way. Maybe put it in the dinning room. Have a little trash can under the sink. Don't forget to change it out often. I have never had a trash can in the kitchen. I just hang a trash bag from one of the drawer handles and take it out when its full.

8. Most kitchens have no room for artwork on the walls. Usually there is a wall opposite the kitchen. Again use small picture frames. This allows for easy cleaning. The air in the kitchen can get dirty and a painted canvas will not be easy to clean.

9. Do you really need a box to keep bread in? A cover for the toaster?

10. If you have a landline phone have it so it can be hung on the wall and not on a counter. Otherwise lose the landline and just have a cell phone and that doesn't need to be kept in the kitchen.

11. If you don't have anymore room to put food in the cabinets then you have too much. Try going through some things. Have a cabinet for emergency canned goods incase of a snow storm. Have a cabinet for chips and snacks. Have a cabinet for other items. Have a cabinet for dishes on one shelf and cups and mugs on the other shelf. Now that is four cabinets. I'm sure most people have atleast four cabinets in their kitchen.

12. What is on top of your fridge? I have ONE phone book. Any extra phone books need to be recycled. Don't store food on top of the fridge. That food may end up being replaced with mouse terds.

13. Clean out your cabinets and make sure you have no holes in the walls. Check behind the microwave and make sure there are no holes in the walls. Holes in the walls mean your food could be eaten my mice. In the winter mice go into homes. They can even get into drawers. Check your bags of semi-sweet chocolate used for making cakes the mice love those.

14. Try going through the drawers and get rid of things you don't need. Keep a flash light in a top drawer close by so you can find it if you lose power. Less important things are stored in bottom drawers.

15. I would go with a plain solid color on the walls. No wallpaper. Wallpapers are usually repeated patterns and isn't very minimal.

16. Keep the kitchen table cleaned off. Don't let the mail stack up in a pile. Go through the mail each day. Sort out the trash and what is important.

Animal Cruelty-free Toothpaste

I'm still working on changing all of my usual toiletries to products that are not tested on animals. I have already posted shampoos that are cruelty-free. Next on my list is toothpaste. I also heard that Tom's of Maine is eco-friendly toothpaste. They have an orange Mango flavor. Nature's Gate is also a brand of organic toothpaste and they have a Raspberry mint flavor and a cherry flavor and more. On Amazon most come in a 6 pack so its more. You also save on shipping by getting more at once.

Animal Cruelty-free Mouthwash

Eco-Dent also has cruelty-free toothpaste and mouthwash. Yes, mouthwash is next on my list too. Tom's of Maine has mouthwash also. Nature's Gate has various flavored mouthwash including Raspberry. Which is great because it will match my bathroom. I don't have to hide the ugly green mouthwash anymore.

Animal Cruelty-free Facial Scrub

When I want to exfoliate I use St. Ives Apricot scrub. It is made by Avon. And we all know that Avon is cruelty-free and they do not do animal testing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to cope with grief in art

I'm an artist. Some say that art helps them relax and forget their problems. It doesn't always work for me. But I think it is something everyone should try.

1. Pick a medium. If you have never really done any art before you may want to start out basic before investing on a canvas and some paint. Try a basic pencil and paper. If you find that you really like making artwork and expressing yourself then you can move on to canvas and paint.

2. Pick your subject matter. You may not want to paint your loved one. This make create more paint for you. Perhaps try doodling. Make a basic pattern. A landscape. An animal. Try drawing something that you like. Flowers, vampires, cars, clothes, etc. You may find you have some hidden talent.

3. Feel free to erase is you don't like what you come up with. But sometimes its nice to not erase lines and just keep going with it. That used to be my rule. Never erase and just work with what you have done and see what you come up with.

4. Try mixed media. Maybe glue some magazine clippings on to the paper. Add paint or markers. Maybe glue hair or yarn on to the drawing. Experiment a little. Be creative.

5. Try looking at other art and learn about other artists. Read biographies on other artists. Maybe they painted certain things when they were going through a hard time.

6. If you still don't like what you come up with try starting a new piece or take a break. Sometimes I have to be in the right mood to make art.

7. Take your time. Sometimes art can take days even weeks to complete. Sometimes people rush through their work. Its nice to have a large canvas that you can work on whenever you have spare time or get lonely or bored.

8. Don't forget to frame your work. If you really like it want want to keep it or even sell it you will need to frame it.

9. If it is sculpture you won't have to frame it of course. You may have to paint it or fire it though.

10. Some towns have a paint in place studio where you can pick a ceramic piece and sit down and paint it and then you pay a firing fee and pay for the piece itself and then you get to take it home. A place like this can be loads of fun. Try doing a google business search for a paint in place studio in your town.

Those are just a few ideas. Lots of people draw to take their mind off of things. Its been known to help people quit smoking.

Tips for thrift store shopping

Some people have a problem with shopping at thrift stores. Some think it is depressing. Some think its evil. Some just think its trashy. Saving hundreds of dollars on items is not depressing to me. Shopping at thrifts stores can be evil because you save and Jesus saves and Jesus isn't evil. Yes, some items are thrift stores can be trashy but there are some great finds also. You know what else I heard? I heard that millionaires shop at thrift stores. You may run into one and end up getting married. See! Thrift stores are good. Here are some tips I've learned over my thrift store shopping years.

1. Some thrift stores have half price day. I know the Salvation Army has half price Wednesday. This is when you can get the best deals. They sometimes even send out coupons where you can get half price on anything in the store even if it isn't Wednesday.

2. Check not only the size of an article of clothing but also how it is washed. Sometimes the main reason it ended up in a thrift store was because it was dry clean only. Sometimes I just ignore that and end up ruining the item anyways.

3. Check the movies. I always have to look at the movies. They are usually just a dollar and you can find some old stuff from the 80's.

4. Most people go to thrift stores just for clothes but they also can have artwork, dishes and books. Mugs for 50 cents. Sometimes you can find some really weird artwork too.

5. Cheap furniture! They might deliver also. Like a nice couch for your new apartment.

6. Remember Antique Road Show? These people would buy something from a thrift store and find out that its worth hundreds more. We all got to try that sometime.

7. Kids clothes. Those kids grow fast. Why pay for new clothes every few months when you can save money and get used clothes? Then you can use the money you saved while they were growing up and use that for the name brand stuff they are gonna want in high school. Pure genius.

8. Prom dresses. New prom dresses are usually hundreds of dollars. At thrift stores they are $20 - $100.

9. There are some resale stores that only carry name brand clothing. They cost a bit more but the selection is more pleasing. No more blood donation T-shirts.

10. You can find uniforms at thrift stores. Anything from old mechanics shirts with various names stitched on to them to polo shirts from fast food restaurants. Some people like to wear these just for fun. They can be used as a halloween costume as well. You can also find old army uniforms. So much cool stuff.

11. Some store have their clothes divided by color which can make it easier to find something more you.

12. The ties, man! Why pay $10-$20 for a new tie when you can get one for $1 at a thrift store? Its a great deal. I've even seen some girls buy a whole bunch of ties and sew them together and make a skirt.

13. Stuffed animals are practically free. They also have children's books and toys. If I ever have kids I am so saving and going to the thrift store.

14. Lots of purses. I'm not sure how much they cost new or used but the thrift stores have purses.

15. Some thrift store will have a bag sale. Its where you buy a paper bag for maybe $5 and you stuff whatever you want into it. Its like steeling only you are paying for it. Its a lot of fun.

Gosh! Now I want to go thrift shopping. I usually only go for some button up shirts and ties. I used to go each week back in college. Now I only go once every two months. I once came across a ton of shirts that had been leftover from a cancer benefit and all the shirts were pink and said "I heart boobs". I got a few for my friends. They only costed $1 each. Sweet.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Jan. 24th is GAGA FOR HELPING HAITI day.

Go to on January 24th and 100% of all merchandise purchased goes to earthquake relief. They even have a special Haiti relief shirt and all proceeds from the sale of that shirt will go to help Haiti relief.

This is another great way to help the people of Haiti rebuild their lives. Last Tuesday a major earthquake hit Port au Prince and thousands died. People need food, water and shelter. Thousands have been orphaned. Families torn apart.

If you are not a fan of Lady Gaga or the merchandise doesn't quite suit your style. You can always donate $10 to

Friday, January 15, 2010

What to write to a long lost dad?

Well. I was recently sent a letter from a relative and it contained an address saying that my dad just moved back to the US. I have never met my dad or had any contact with him. I had heard that he was living in Hong Kong for the past several years. But now that I had his new address, I figured why not write to him? I don't expect him to write back. I don't expect him to be kind if he does write back. But what do I say?

I don't understand men. Some like to read a lot. Some don't. Do I write a lot or keep it short and simple. Should I say that I think he is my dad or talk about my dad in third person?

I know I want to tell him that I am not mad at him. I got that down. Told him that mom is dead. Told him that I don't want money. I dunno. I know he doesn't want to be reminded of mom.

This is so much more than I have ever asked for. All I wanted was pictures of him and to learn a little bit about him. I got pictures and info with the help of a few distant relatives. But this is so strange that I am given this opportunity to write my dad. I cry not tears of grief nor tears of joy. Just tears of surprise I guess. Just overwhelmed of how painful my life has been. What would mom think? To know that I got to write to dad.

I finally decided to write him saying that I am not mad at him and that I love him. Even though he hasn't been in my life and that he may be mad that I say that he is my father. Even though when he first saw me in my mothers arms he asked her for a dollar. I still say I love him. If he has had a change in heart then he will be please to hear that I love him. If he is still a jerk then he will be mad that I say that I love him. Perfect.

I didn't ask him any questions. So I am not left hanging. But told him that he can write me back if he wants someone to talk to. He is about 75 years old. And with this harsh cold winter who knows if he is still alive.

I sent the letter about a week ago. I am writing this assuming he may never write back. If he does write back I will let you guys know. I will cry again. Its like someone coming back from the dead. I have never had any contact with him and been an orphan for over ten years and now I am able to write a letter to my dad? I get to have the last word? I think perhaps God knew I would not write words of hate to my dad. So He gave me a chance to say something.

I always try to understand why people do what they do. And forgive. They don't know any better.

I also wrote something else. I wrote Goodbye. Just incase he never wrote back. Funny because I don't think I wrote hello. Just I am not mad at you, I love you, Goodbye. Goodbye so I am not left hanging.

I hope mom would be proud. Could you imagine? Leaving a daughter in the US and coming back decades later and getting a letter from her finding out she has been orphaned and yet she still loves you and isn't mad at you. Pain makes us human. Pain makes us care. Pain is how our hearts grow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Johnny Depp saved my Life

You all know Johnny Depp, right? A famous actor who has played in several movies. Edward ScissorHands, Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeny Todd and many more. Let me tell you an amazing true story of how Johnny Depp saved my life.

As you all know I am an orphan. My mother died when I was 15 and I never met my father. So when times are tough I can't just borrow money from mom or dad. I can't move back in with them. I gotta work. I was about 23 years old. I was working two jobs. delivering pizza in the morning and popping popcorn at night. I was still living in the dormitories at Northeastern State university. I was trying to save up so I could get my first apartment. I knew my scholarship wouldn't pay for another year of me living in the dorms. May came around and I was just about to move into my apartment when the owner of the movie theater I worked at wanted me to only work for them. Usually I worked at the pizza place on Fridays but the movie theater wanted me to work for them only or they would fire me. I had to pick the movie theater. It was the better paying job. The owner of the pizza place let me go. Sadly enough the movie theater did not give me enough hours to make up for the other job. I had to choose between food or electricity. It was summer time so I knew I wouldn't freeze so I lived all summer without power. I had no bed. I slept on the floor. I still barely had enough food to eat.

Finally in August a friend gave me her bed. Several times I would go to work irritable from not eating enough food. I wrote a letter to the owner of the movie theater explaining my situation. That I am an orphan, I live alone, I have been living without power for half a year and there is no one to borrow money from to get electricity or food. My aunt sent some money to start the electricity but I knew I wouldn't be able to keep up with the payments. I have to use it for food.

Everyday I was working at the register in concession. I would see the ushers sitting on benches talking. I wasn't allowed to leave concession or sit. Winter was coming and I knew I had to get electricity soon. Then Pirates of the Caribbean 2 came to the theater. It sold out every single set for four days straight and of course I had to be in concession on register the whole time. But I was paid overtime as a result. I usually earned $400 a month but that month I got $1,000 and was able to get electricity for the winter. I also applied for food stamps and got $100 worth of food a month. It felt so nice waking up in the morning knowing that I was taken care of. In the midst of Johnny Depps acting career little did he know that he was helping feed and shelter an orphan.

That winter was a very harsh winter too. Ice covered the branches of the trees. Limbs fell and broke though students windshields. But I had a warm home. After Pirates of the Caribbean had finished playing in the theater, the ushers took down the poster but they were too lazy to take it back up stairs to the projection room. Instead they left it in concession. A kind family would always visit each weekend. The father saw the poster sitting in concession and asked if he could have it. Usually when I customer wants a poster we have them write down their number and say we will call them back. But I have seen the manager just throw away the posters. I figured why not just give him the poster. The movie theater workers are allowed to take just about any poster home that they want. It is illegal to sell them. So I handed him the poster. The owner of the theater saw what I had done and told the man to give it back.

About a year later the owner of the theater went on vacation in August. She paid us early since she would be out of town. But as a result the dates on my check stubs were not bi-weekly. I had to show the check stubs to DHS so I could keep getting food stamps. They didn't understand why the check stubs were dated incorrectly even though I explained that the owner went on vacation and paid us early. Since the check stubs were not counted it showed that I was earning too much even though we were not working summer theater hours anymore. I went from earning $100 a month in food stamps for $14. I barely had anything to eat during the month of September 2007. I was very irritable. I remember eating food off the floor that people had brought in and left behind.

One night it was time to clean up concession after the last show. The ushers were still sitting on benches talking while I was cleaning. I accidentally dropped a salt shaker over the counter and it broke. The ushers said I threw it and sat on the benches while I went out into the lobby to clean it up.

The next day I was called into the office and fired without notice.

Each day after that I worked so hard to find another job as fast as I could. I was supposed to report my unemployment to DHS to stop my food stamps but I had to keep the $14 I was getting in order to eat. I few weeks past I was about to move into my car because I didn't have enough to pay rent.

One day as I was walking home from class I saw a postman sitting in his mail truck in the parking lot where I lived. It was the father of the kind family I had tried to give the Pirates of the Caribbean poster to. He asked how I was doing. I told him what had happened. He gave me $10. It was enough to feed me for a week. And at the end of that week I got a new job. I got the best boss I have ever had at Campus police. he was very understanding and hardworking. My first day at work was on Halloween. I kept that job until I graduated.

Thanks so much to those who have made a difference and helped me. Thank you for understanding. It was probably one of the hardest times of my life. And thanks to Johnny Depp for being a great actor and selling out. Make sure to go see Johnny's new move Alice in Wonderland in theaters March 5, 2010.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ways to enjoy the Zen life

Since I have decluttered my home and become minimal I was trying to think of the little things in life to enjoy. What I want most is to be with my mom and have a family again. Now I know that is all that matters in life but I can't have that. I have barely any other wants. I watch movies to cheer myself up after a break up or during the holidays. I may find a nice book to read. But I was just wondering what are the simple things in life to enjoy that we seem to forget or at least what to do after you have decluttered your home and are saving money. Here are some things I have thought of.

1. Rainy days. I have forgotten how much I love rainy days. Sitting by the window and watching the rain and hearing the thunder. Then taking a nap. Maybe even opening the porch door and feeling the cool air come into the living room while I lay on my futon.

2. Candles. Its terrible when you are given yucking candles on the holidays. But it is so nice when you treat yourself to a low budget vanilla candle or honey dew melon candle. Those are my fav. Its also nice to keep track of how long the candle lasts. It helps pass time. The smell can bring back memories. Sitting and reading a book and listening to some music while a candle is burning. So Zen.

3. Snow falling. Nature and the weather are the things in life we tend to forget. The snow can be a hassle sometimes. But it is nice to watch the snow fall. So calming. It reminds me of being in school and knowing that I will be able to stay home with mom the next day.

4. Music. So many kinds. That nice feeling of sitting and listening to a new cd. With each track you pick your favorites. And you listen to them the next day. Music can bring inspiration also. Maybe you happier. Help you make art. Help you write. Help you meditate.

5. The sunrise. In the spring and summer I like to get up and sit on the porch and watch the sunrise or at least watch the sun light move across the floor of my porch. Hear the trees move and feel the wind. Think of the future, the past and the present. It all seems so happy and exciting. Knowing that the sun has returned after traveling around the world. Its also fun to visit and watch the sun rise on the other side of the world. At midnight in Oklahoma the sun is rising in Paris.

6. Running around in your underwear. This is so much fun to do in the summer. In the winter you have to wear a sweater around the house but in the summer time you can be a little more casual. There is much more freedom. Nothing like sitting in your underwear and watching Saturday morning cartoons while eating a bowl of cereal.

7. Having a pen pal. Its so nice to get the mail and see that you have a letter from someone with a message inside. Its so much better than bills and junk mail. The walk back to the house is nice. You wonder what they wrote. When you get back in the house you read it. How nice and simple.

8. Donating to Goodwill. Its a great feeling to take a box of clutter and drop it off at the Goodwill store. Its nice to know that its out of the way and that you helped someone. Its like a new life. You have made progress. You have simplified your life. Cleaned up your life.

9. Donating your hair. To grow out your hair and then have it cut off and donated to help make wigs for people fighting cancer is a beautiful thing. the new haircut is life a new fresh start. I can't wait to cut my hair again. I will be back to using less shampoo. You can donate at Locks of Love.

10. Using cruelty-free products. Its may be difficult at first but once you find your new brand you like it is easier. You feel better knowing that you are making a difference by not using products testing on animals. Avon, Revlon, Giovanni, Mary Kay, Shaklee, Arbonne and Jay Manuel products are cruelty-free just to name a few. No guilt anymore when buying shampoo, make-up, soap, toothpaste or any other products. Even some chocolate from the Ivory Coast are harvested by child slaves. One Slave-free chocolate company is Endangered Species Chocolate.

11. Donate to I just donated to help people in Haiti. They just had a terrible earthquake yesterday. Thousands have been found dead. You can even donate through your account.

Those are just a few things in life that are to be desired and bring enjoyment to your life. I will post more if I think of any. I'm sure the list is limitless. Don't forget your family if you have one. And dreams. I love it when I have nice dreams. Dreams about being back in college and getting attention from guys. Yay Zen dreams.

Chocolate made by slaves?

Child slaves may have made your chocolate. According to the television programme, Slavery, made for the BBC by Kate Blewett and Brian Woods of True Vision, thousands of children in Central and West Africa are being stolen from their parents, shipped to the Ivory Coast and sold as slaves to cocoa farmers.
These children earn no money for their work, and are barely fed. They are beaten if they try to escape, and most will never see their families again. Nearly 50% of the world's cocoa supply is grown in the Ivory Coast.

Check out these links about Slave Chocolate:

Here is one company that produces slavery-free chocolate:
You can get their products at Walgreens, Whole Foods Market or on their website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why is there so much pain in this world?

I just learn about how children are being enslaved off the Ivory Coast to harvest chocolate and then I hear about an earthquake hitting Haiti. It is all so upsetting. Why is there so much pain in this world?

I sit and watched all the tweets on twitter about the earthquake and most are saying that they are glad it wasn't them. Some are praying and others are donating.

Sometimes it seems like bad things happen so others will care.

Of course a Tsunami will occur after the earthquake. More tragedies.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if nothing bad ever happened to you? When a tragedy happens and its all over the news you wouldn't care. You wouldn't be able to relate. Pain keeps us human.

Buildings can be rebuilt. Crops can be replanted. Fires can be extinguished. Even livestock rebred. But the main impact of this earthquake is lost loved ones. Bones can mend and wounds can heal. But families are torn apart.

Its strange how some tragedies make the news and gain the sympathy of the world and others go unnoticed and remain a secret for the most part. I was living without electricity when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. I'm not upset. I managed. They needed the help more than me.

Now with new technology we can help people even faster and news can spread even faster. Thousands and thousands of people on were tweeting about the quake. I remember on the morning of the 7th year anniversary of 9/11 hundreds of people were tweeting tributes to the victims and survivors of 9/11.

I still don't quite understand. If everyone cared then all tragedies wouldn't be so harsh. But still why must it happen. If nothing bad ever happened then we all really wouldn't care about each other.

And is death really that bad? Yes, we can't see or communicate with our loved ones for the rest of our lives. But what about when we die also? Will we both be together again? Is there just a wall between the world of the living and the world of the dead?

Is the whole point of human existence to teach us how to love and to care by experiencing and witnessing tragedies?

Its all so complicated. I don't understand. Why is it that when the Earth grows and expands it shakes and causes life forms on the surface to be injured and die? I hope one day we will all understand.

The more you know. the less you understand. - Tao Te Ching

A Thank You from another Orphan

This blog is only a month old and I have gotten several visits. Some were people searching google for "orphan jokes". Teh Get a life! But some were other orphans. Some leave comments and say exactly what I am hoping to accomplish with this blog. (by the way my email is on my profile) No spam or hateful emails. I wanted to post one of the comments I received the other day:

"I came across your blog when doing a web grief counselor wants me to write a 2 page paper on what it means to be an orphan--I have to complete this by tomorrow. I wanted you to know how thrilled I am to have seen your blog; I never thought I would see anything like this.

I became an orphan at age 16 (mother died when I was 16, father died when I was 15). I have been an orphan for longer than I have been a non-orphan. I am just seeing grief counselor now because I apparently never grieved appropriately earlier and an event occurred this past year which apparently set off delayed grief (which sucks--really would have been nice to keep this in a small nice little box buried deep inside me). So I guess I now have to grieve/mourn for my parents. Why now? No adult in my life guided me to such when I was in high school and I was too busy trying to take care of the house my parents left behind, participate in school activities, work my after-school/summer jobs, getting myself into and off to college etc to do anything about it myself.

My main reason for leaving this comment is to let you know how needed your site is--I wish I would have found this or something similar years ago. I really do not know anyone else personally that was an orphan as a child and from my previous web searches there really are not any groups etc that would bring orphans together or provide them resources.

I think your efforts to create the orphan handbook and to bring orphans together are admirable and so needed. I really could have used someone else to talk with about being an orphan, or a book/blog to get information from to learn how others grieve, how to do the things in life that your parents would have taught you were they here, what to do with yourself during Christmas break when the dorms are closed etc...

Thanks for creating the orphan handbook—and for your willingness to put yourself out there. I really admire and respect your willingness to share your own story and for broadening awareness about orphans (I think many think once the orphanages closed there just weren't orphans in the US anymore). Your efforts will inspire me as I do my dreaded “grief homework” today.

Thanks again!"

Your feedback is an inspiration and it reminds me that I need to keep writing. Never keep your grief buried. That isn't healthy. Grieving is normal. Orphans are normal people who have had a normal thing happen in their life. Its just not very common. Its normal to love someone who has passes away. Its normal to miss them and it is normal to cry. Don't bury it.

Sometimes we are distracted after we lose our loved ones. I was busy thinking about boys. I never really started to miss mom until I was 21. Then I started to miss her everyday. I still do. She was meant to be a part of my everyday life. Why would she not be even if she has passed away?

I remember a time when I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish college. I tried to get a scholarship because my mom had died of cancer. I had to write a paper about losing my mom to cancer. I cried and I cried. You know when the muscles in your face tense up and your body shakes. Finally I got the paper done and I read the rules and I didn't qualify because too much time has lapse since she died. I was very upset but I think I needed to write that paper.

Grief is a strange thing. I'm not sure why it is necessary. Why does water have to come out of our eyes? It is so inconvenient. But it is better than holding the sadness in.

Thats is great that you have a counselor and that you are dealing with your grief. Thats the problem with this world. Everyone runs from their problems. They even run from other peoples problems. The world doesn't know and doesn't want to know what its like to be an orphan. We all need to learn to care. Thats why we have feelings. So we can care about others and help others. Otherwise we would just be robots and just go through motions.

I never really looked into having a counselor or a therapist etc. I never thought they would really understand me. But for some it is just what they need. At least have someone to talk to. I remember getting a tattoo because it was like paying someone to talk to me and spend some time with me.

Perhaps you are starting your grief now because this is the best time. Back then I hadn't started this blog. Perhaps this blog will help. It all happens for reason.

I hope this blog does help others of my own kind. I hope it stay around for a long time. I have always wanted to find others of my own kind. To see how they coped. So far we all seem to be reacting the same way. Which is good. It also makes me feel that I am not alone. We become an inspiration to each other. We strengthen each other. Like a family.

I remember in High school I had a mother figure. She was a French teacher from Canada. I wanted to work at an orphanage in Canada. I wrote letters to several orphanages in Canada. Finally my aunt told me the main reason why there aren't so many orphanages is because of abortion. I guess I gave up. The next year over 1,300 kids were orphaned by the terrorist attacks of September 11th. I hope this blog will help them one day. Here I am still trying to help orphans.

I have thought about telling others to write about their grief but I don't want them to be overwhelmed. Keeping a journal helps. You grieve a little each day. Then you can look back on your thoughts as time goes by.

Thanks for the feedback. Go ahead and spread the word about the Orphan Handbook. We all just want to make life easier of all of us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The 100 Things Challenge

While browsing various blogs on minimalism, I came across the 100 things challenge. You try to minimize the number of your possessions down to 100 things not counting furniture, books, or collections. I don't know why a minimalist would have a collection of anything. I guess it would include dvds or a photo album etc. I think I could do the 100 things challenge. I think I am already there. I just haven't listed them. So here goes. I guess going by room would be easiest.

1. bed
2. pet carrier
3. radio
4. art on wall
5. alarm clock
6. purse
7. curtains
8. pillow
9. shoes
10. comforter

11. soap
12. shampoo
13. toothpaste
14. tooth brush
13. comb
14. patchouli oil
15. deodorant
16. make up
17. hanging rubber bat
18. bathrobe
19. shower curtain
20. rug
21. shower brush
22. loofa
23. hair dryer
24. curling iron
25. hair spray
26. medicine
27. mirror
28. towel
29. face cloth
30. floss
31. mouthwash
32. razor
33. laundry bag
34. bottle of 409
35. girl toiletries

36. blender
37. dogs medicine
38. salt
39. mug
40. dish
41. rag
42. pan
43. frying pan
44. spatula
45. art on wall
46. dog shampoo
47. laundry detergent
48. can of raid
49. dish soap
50. strainer

Living room
51. tv
52. vcr/dvd player in one
53. clock
54. lava lamp
55. bowl for laundry quarters
56. lotion
57. framed picture
58. art
59. fake skull
60. skull candle
61. books
62. dvds
63. VHS tapes
64. stuffed animal
65. wooden cat
66. dog bed
67. blanket
68. space heater
69. futon
70. chair
71. trunk
72. mac book
73. universal remote
74. notebook
75. backpack
76. photo album
77. magazines
78. dog dish
79. bean bag
80. art supplies
81. giant T-bone steak sculpture
82. broom
83. umbrella
84. table
85. lamp
86. dog leash
87. other purse
88. coat
89. scarf
90. gloves

91. clothes
92. extra shoes
93. dog paper
94. skateboard
95. vacuum
96. art
97. rug
98. empty boxes
99. box of stuff to go to Goodwill
100. rack for clothes

I am pretty much there. I only have 5 pairs of shoes. I didn't list my dogs nail clippers. I know there are some things I listed that could go I guess. The empty boxes are for if I move or get rid of more stuff. My sister gave me the wooden cat. I do only have one dish and one bowl. I wash them by hand. its nice to know i am quite close to only 100 things. But still the place looks cluttered since it is such a small place. All those pictures you see on Google of the minimal homes....they are actually big rooms with lots of space. I am still not satisfied. I want to be more minimal. When winter is over I want to get rid of one of my blankets. Get rid of some more clothes. Almost there.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

20 Tips on Creating a Minimalist Haven

One thing a recommend to reduce stress in your life is to declutter and simplify your home. This is especially good in case you need to move to a new place in a hurry. This is especially easy if you live alone. If you have roommates this can by kind of difficult.

1. Try organizing one room at a time. The closet can be a good start.

2. Picture in your head what you want the room to look like. See how simple it is and that can help you to move towards your goal. Try googling pictures of "Zen homes". This can be quite an inspiration.

3. Tables, shelves and drawers are good to stack things on and for storage. Its the clutter around it that needs to go. Remember to keep what inside of those drawers organized also.

4. Smaller artwork on walls is better. This will help you visualize the minimal home you are wanting. Roll up that giant movie poster and put up a framed 8x10 photo of a friend or loved one. Small frames are also cheaper than a big poster.

5. Keep counter top items to a minimum. Put the items in drawers or on a shelf.

6. Go through your clothes. Anything you don't wear anymore sell or give to Goodwill. Remember to remove the hangers that hung the unwanted clothes so you don't end up adding more clothes later on.

7. Any shoes that you never wear anymore or that don't fit get rid of. Remember you only have two feet. You don't need 20 pairs of shoes. I have just 5 pairs. I keep them in a box in my closet.

8. When going through those storage boxes, only keep what you need or what really means a lot to you.

9. I only use a few pots and pans. I don't need 3 different kids. Only a couple of mugs. I only have one mouth. I wash my dishes by hand right after I use them so they are clean the nest time I need to eat.

10. Sell somethings on or This will give you some extra cash. Give to Goodwill what you can't sell. Make sure to ask for a receipt so you can use it as a tax deduction.

11. I used to have three cans of hairspray. Now I am down to one. I just stopped buying hairspray and used what I had. They aren't that good for the environment anyways.

12. Get rid of extra towels. Just keep a few in the bathroom.

13. I also started using products that aren't tested on animals. Products made by Avon, Revlon, Shaklee, Mary Kay, etc. The only hassle is trying to find ones that match my bathroom.

14. Clean out your inbox on your email account. And change your computer desktop picture to something more simple.

15. Only one loofa. You only have two hands. If I had 5 hands then I would need 4 loofas. A loofa is the lacy ball that you clean yourself with in the shower. Kinda like a sponge. Its usually on a string.

16. I do keep an extra toothbrush just incase and extra combs.

17. One box of cereal at a time. If you live with other people you will have to guard your cereal.

18. Do you have stuff stuck to your fridge with magnets? Take those off. Only keep emergency numbers and important stuff on your fridge. Maybe a picture of a hot guy to greet you in the morning.

19. Why not clean out your car too? Throw out trash. Keep important car maintenance receipts in your glove box. And ice scraper and an air freshener is the only thing in my car. Plus some sunglasses. Yay, zen car.

20. Get a universal remote control. Mine works on the tv and the dvd/vhs player. Having only one remote also means using less batteries. You just have to program the remote. Its easy. Or you could just put the remotes in a drawer and try getting up off your butt to change the channel. I do a little bit of both.

Once you have your place as minimal as you want it. Remember to keep your place clutter free. And go through the home again once a month. This can become a nice hobby. Maintaining your stress free Zen home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How to simplify your life

One of my biggest regrets in my life was not simplifying my life earlier. I had too much stuff. Eventually I lost it some of it gradually. I lost some after my mom died and I moved to the south. I lost more when I moved to college. But in college I could only have what was in half of a room. I was so happy there. Everything was simple. I had less but I had everything I needed in one little room. I moved into my first apartment and at one time I was about to move into my car because I couldn't pay rent. I always liked the idea of having everything I needed in one little backpack in case I needed to hop on a plane and go to another city and start a new life. All that would be in that backpack would be a sweater a pictures of my mom.

So last Spring I decided to simplify my life and declutter my place. I looked for online articles on decluttering and simplifying my life. They talked about Zen. Yes, Zen is what I wanted. Simplicity. What is really important is life and family. Not stuff. We orphans have been shown that. I don't understand wanting things. I want things that help me survive. I want to be with my mom. But I don't want stuff. I want life to be easier. I want to reduce stress in my life.

1. During the week I would go through a box of stuff. Old papers from college, books I didn't want anymore, clothes I never wore, old phone numbers, old drawings, sketches, trash. I kept what I needed. Of course what I need I use everyday and it wouldn't be found in a box in the closet. I also kept what meant something to me. Things irreplaceable. Like a old family photo album. I has several extra photos. I threw those out. On the weekend I put together a box of items to be donated to Goodwill. Also some bags of clothes that I just never wear. On Saturday I would donate usually about 2 boxes and 3 bags of clothes to Goodwill. I could have sold them but I just wanted to get rid of it now. I kept doing this for about a month. It took a while.

2. I took down big movie posters and put up small black and white 8x10 photos of my best friend and my mom. My microwave had started to make weird noises so I took it to a recycling center. I only use the stove now. I got rid of books that I never read. Kept the ones that inspire me. Only 4 I kept. I got rid of DVDs and movies that I didn't want to watch ever again. I kept the ones with hot guys in them and the ones that made me laugh.

3. I wanted to make my home a haven from the stress of the world around me. I would google photos of "Zen homes" and "Zen bedrooms" to get an idea of what I wanted. I threw out old magazines and only kept ones that I really liked. I got rid of a lot of stupid stuff that I didn't need. Probably one of the smartest things I have done in my life.

4. As an artist there is always some clutter of art supplies and paintings. I have a giant T-bone steak I have no idea where to put. Some more clutter has accumulated over the past 6 months. Especially from Christmas gifts. As a minimalist I hate the holidays. I am usually given things I have no need for. More clutter. Since this is a new year I thought it would be good tell you guys about what I have done. Maybe give you guys a better year with less stress. I also may be having two friends move in with me and I want to be able to keep my areas decluttered.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to plan for Valentine's Day

Its a new year. I went to bed early on New Years Eve. It wasn't too bad. I watched a movie. I won't mention which movie because it had some dumb orphan joke in it. If I ever come across a good movie with no orphan jokes I will let you know. Right now my only recommendation is Bottle Rocket. It was a lot funnier than I thought it would be. I watched it before Christmas. I thought if my mom were alive she would have liked it. We always had similar tastes in men.

Anyways, I posted on doing your taxes. January is here and you gotta get your taxes out of the way. Also Valentine's Day is coming. It shouldn't be too lonely since its not a family holiday but it can be hard for some people so I thought I would give some more advice so we can prepare.

Back in college we always had an art show at a local cafe on Valentine's Day so that took care of me for 4 years. If you have someone to spend the evening with then you are good. But if you have no one to hang out with what do you do?

1. Well we can go old school like I have suggested and stay in and order pizza. Watch a movie.

2. Sometimes there are dances in town you can go to. Maybe go to a club. Keep in mind you aren't the only person who has no one to spend Valentine's day with and some clubs want singles to gather there and have a good time. Try listening to your local radio station.Sometimes the local clubs will have a commercial about VDay and special events that you can go to.

3. Maybe try the movie theater. I worked at a movie theater for two years and singles do go to the movies on Vday. You may meet someone. Keep in mind there will be other couples there also.

4. The good thing about Vday is that its not like other holidays where everything is closed. On Vday you can go anywhere. Eat anywhere, shop anywhere. All of the couples will be having dinner and watching movies. Think of where the singles would be. Vday should be a gold mine of singles all around town especially in the evening.

5. Try hanging out at a bookstore, or a cafe. You want to do something to occupy or time or maybe even meet someone. I don't think any single person would be opposed to meeting someone on Valentine's Day and if they were I am sure they would be at home watching tv or something.

These are all things you can do if you have no one to hang out with on Valentine's Day. But you know I always say you should try to prepare. Ask some friends what they are doing on February the 14th. It doesn't have to be a date. Maybe just hang out with friends and have a nice time so you aren't so lonely. My theory is that a lot of people are single on Valentine's Day because the guys don't want to spend the money on their girl, so they break up with them. This case if true for some. This will be the first year that I don't have an art show or have to work on Vday. I'm not sure what I will be doing. I may order pizza after going shopping or something. We all have more than a month a head of us to think about it.