Week 49 & 50: Taking Care of Business

Week 49 & 50: Taking Care of Business

Again, this is a two-weeker update.

One thing that always irks me is that it is so hard to keep to a grocery budget. My ideal is to spend no more than $150 a week, but inevitably, even if one week I miraculously scrape by on something like…$140, the next week it’s more like $175 or $200. I must say that I do not keep tight track of all the expenditures on food in a week. Sometimes I go to the grocery store once, sometimes twice because the first time I forgot a few key ingredients. Then there’s also the extras, like eating out on a Friday, or a cappuccino with a friend. And I’m not sure that there is much of a solution to be had; that is just what it costs to feed my family of four, and keep my sanity ( more on that last part, in a moment).

California is the font of amazing foods, but it is also EX…PEN…SIVE. I’d sort of never realized how expensive because I came straight from South Korea where money was entirely different and not entirely comparable, so it didn’t compute. Before that, I was at art school and my idea of cuisine was perogies and the occasional head of broccoli. I only realized how pricey the cost of food was here when I had family visiting from Canada who pay attention to these things (and who made the Canada to US calculation) and informed me, that yeah, it’s uber pricey here in NorCal. The price we pay for AMAZING fresh produce, novelty foods and health foods. I’d say I am a conservative shopper: I load up the cart with fresh produce first (only going organic on the “dirty dozen” items and any sale organics) then a few packaged foods like bread, and yogurt, skipping most of the middle aisles. And yet, still…

I can cut out the cappuccinos…but then who wants to kill joy? Honestly, I don’t spend very much on myself, so the occasional fancy coffee…or a lunch here and there with friends is my sanity keeper.

Last week I was just so focused on this business building thing that I really wasn’t thinking about how not to spend. I am firmly in the realm of trying to build my photography business, starting with my website: www.SharolynTownsendPhotogpraphy.com and my facebook page by the same name. Where I can tie this new focus to this challenge is that I am making sure to not spend on equipment or much of anything until I actually start making money and can justify the expense. The motto, right now is “make-do”. And there is fun to that challenge in and of itself. I need to prove to myself that you don’t have to have all the right gear to do an amazing job.

What I did spend on was a couple hundred basic business cards via Vista Print. The trick there, I learned through luck, is to only order 100 and then after the purchase wait for their 10 minute deals where you can add another 150 cards for only $9.

The cards are a stop gap measure while I figure out my logo and design my own personal cards, but they are certainly handy. It’s nice to have something to hand to someone when you are talking about what you do.I have been putting myself out of my comfort zone and finding ways to tell people what it is I do and directing them to check out my website. I really felt I was on a roll this past week, networking and finding potential clients. The goal, as I mentioned before, is to not get discouraged. This is pertinent to keep at the forefront of my thinking as there is often a lot of interest but not a whole lot of follow through. I found myself holding a lot of mental space for the people who told me “they’d for sure be in contact”. I realized that I can’t just wait around for that and try to stay available. I am available until I am not, and until then I just keep putting myself out there. Still, from the little I’ve been doing, I feel like I have some forward momentum, and I hope that soon I will have a few more clients lined up.

I am finding it hard to split my head between creative work (photography) and being mommy. When these two worlds collide, often, if I am not careful, I become frustrated. That’s not the vibe I want to be giving off with my kids. Luckily, today my hubs was very supportive of me seeking mental space, and he watched the kids while I went out for a few hours.

The thing I chose to do? Thrift shopping.

I had a few things in mind that I want to find, props for a shoot essentially. But mostly…I like thrift shopping. I’ve been so good. I have not gone in such a long time, and when I have it has been just for books for the kids and kids clothes. Today, I looked for me.

Now, I must say, that thrifting is a little too trendy these days. Know how I know this? Because it’s getting bloody expensive, that’s why. Goodwill is one of the worst. The standard price for shirts is $6.99. Now, I know, that’s not a huge number. But this is USED clothes; donated clothes. Half of the shirts there are Massimo (Target brand), Old Navy, or H&M. You can get those brands, new, on the sale rack at their stores for less than that. I say for shame, Goodwill. I was actually about to leave in a huff at the ludicrous prices, but since this was more for mental sanity than anything, I just browsed to see what there was. It was depressing to discover, once again, that though I think I want new/different clothes in my wardrobe, there’s not much that peaks my interest.

Then I discovered that this being Sunday, any clothes with a blue tag were 99 cents. So I targeted just those racks and found a couple of dresses. Getting those helped ease my dis-ease with the fact that I have nothing nice to wear when the rare “date night” comes up. I also picked up a nice faux leather jacket for the full price of $8.99 which was a deal for me, to ease that desire I’ve had since art school days, to posses a really cool leather jacket. This desire surfaces now and then, but I have never actually sprung for one. This one fit the bill, and hopefully will put that demon to rest for a while. So, you see, it’s all about balance. Complete austerity doesn’t work, I just feel deprived. It felt good to get a few things for me, for, all told…$11 for two dresses and a jacket. Hopefully I will feel sated, both for new (to me) clothing…and time away from the kids. A new week begins anew tomorrow!

And that’s it folks. I’m all business these days, most of my free time is spent figuring out how to entice new clients out of the woodwork. Wish me luck!



Week 48: Home Stretch

Week 48: Home Stretch

The shine of this challenge has worn off.

And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, if it still felt new, it would mean that I was making no progress. It would seem that slowing my consumption of useless products has become the norm. That is not to say that I don’t still have my moments, but I have not had any major splurges followed by deep regret. ( I say that as I currently fight my almost obsession with Blundstone boots. Gosh darn, once you do an internet search for a product, it keeps showing up in my feeds and on the border of webpages. They really track you! Not easy for the resistance!) Splurges now are, on the rare occasion, going ahead and buying that cheapo toy for my kid as we make our way through the dollar store. Or getting a fancy coffee and a steamed milk for the kids as a self motivator or reward for having done the groceries. Sometimes a used book for each kiddo at the thrift store.

I still look around me at my home and see excess. I think it is just the nature of how my family and most of the people I know, live. We are so lucky. We are not suffering. Even though I and my friends and acquaintances talk of struggle at times to: pay the rent, find work, afford a new car, etc etc, we all have roofs over our heads, food in our bellies, and lots and lots of stuff. I know not one gal pal who does not have an over-flowing wardrobe ( okay, my sister-in-law is pretty good at the minimalist life style). I who don’t even like to shop for clothes, still have clothes and lots of it. None of us are without cell phones or computers. I think I currently have 4 different types of strollers for different scenarios with the kids (used, but still!) I could go on, but you get the idea.

I’m deep into trying to start up a photography business right now, so my attention has been pulled elsewhere. Yet I am still applying what I have learned from this challenge. In the past, when I came up with a scheme to start a business (yes, I’ve done it before: pet portrait artist, art card designer/seller) I’ve launched into it with the wrong focus: I needed all the stuff before I could be a legit business. That meant that I bought the display infrastructure, the packaging, the tent, the book-keeping ledger,the what-have-you, thinking that I needed it all to be professional.

This time, I’m approaching it differently. The motto is “fake it til you make it”. I refuse to exceed my earnings with start-up costs. With photography, it would be extremely easy to go out and buy equipment. There is always new and better stuff. But since my income is close to nil, close to nil is what I plan to spend. Luckily I already have the camera, I have the photo program, I have my skills. So far, what I’ve invested in is the website, and today some business cards (now that I’ve started to network I have been asked several times for my info). I will try to go as far as I can with this to test the waters before I invest more fully.

That isn’t to say that I am not serious about making this a successful business. Au contraire. This time I intend to apply some stick-to-it-ness. I have too often given up before starting, or given only a half-hearted attempt, so afraid of failure that I don’t try hard enough and give up too early. I want to be like so many people who have inspired me with their gumption, their fortitude and willingness to keep working hard at something.

Just saying all of this out-loud terrifies me. I am afraid of failure. But this time, I’m not going to let that be an obstacle.


Week 47: Winning

Week 47: Winning


Feelin’ kinda thrifty at this moment. Or, at least, like I’m playing the game a little better this week.

Some weeks, it seems like no matter how much I try, I end up having to spend. No matter that they are necessities, sometimes it just feels bad when large chunks of cash are going out and not the other way around.

Whether because of my own sloth or not, I managed to skip the weekly grocery shopping and just pull from my pantry and back of my fridge. It’s a bit challenging what with the kids needing constant snacks (those are the first things needing replenishing, always) but somehow we managed. Today we are down to the bare minimum, and a shopping trip is definitely required, but it was nice to empty out the pantry a bit and know that there is nothing moldering in the back corners.

And then, and then…I went online to shop for a new car seat. My littlest is finally about to outgrow her bucket seat (alas!) and it’s time for the next iteration. I have been mulling it over for quite a while because I want to be smart about it, I don’t want any unnecessary mid-step that will have to then be replaced again to the tune of several more hundreds of dollars. So, I did some calculating and realized that I can put my one year old into the seat my three year old currently uses, because it does have the rear-facing ability even though we aren’t using that for our eldest anymore. So…I can switcheroo her to a new car seat that will be a 3 in 1, ( it converts from a harnessed forward facing, to a booster with head support, to just a booster- the last car seat we’ll need to purchase for her essentially). Ta da! And it will also solve the problem of my eldest feeling jealous if she sees her baby sister get a new seat, we get to skip that drama all together- yay! And would you know what? Amazon prompted me to use my rewards points on a Discover card I haven’t use in a long time. I remembered suddenly that we probably did have a bunch of points because we’d done a lot of house reno purchases on that card, thinking we could redeem for flights to Canada…which turned out to not be so because Air Canada and thus it’s US affiliates don’t accept Discover ( long story). So those had been useless points to us.

Until now.

So…I got the whole car seat with just our points and with some to spare! Score!

So yeah, I’m feelin’ pretty good about that.

It also helps that I have extremely generous family. This week my mum-in-law paid for another round of music classes for the girls. No small chunk of change that is.

And then my sister-in-law went ahead and got some dance classes for my eldest.

I’m feeling really blessed right now.


Thursday, Mid-to Late Week Update:

I am so past my posting date that this is turning into a twofer. I’m not sure why, as it nears the end of this challenging, getting my posts up in time seems to get harder and harder…

So, after all that thriftiness I wrote about up there… well, I went to Ikea with my Aunt and the girls and did a small splurge. Some was necessary: art supplies we were running low on. At this stage, the girls just sort of make a mess with paint, and use too much, and wast the stuff, so Ikea’s paint and brushes are amazing for low budget supplies.

But then there was the splurge stuff, like the cloud shaped light I wanted for C’s room to complete the look. And a twin sized duvet with cover that matches the room. Not a necessity but a heart/completing-the-vision sort of need.

I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say that, there is still some “ping back” from being thrifty. When I do a good job of resisting, often I then unconsciously want to reward myself, and thus a small spending spree. I don’t know what to say about that. I feel like those ping backs are getting smaller; and I can recognize them for what they are.

I’ve also (if we’re here confessing) been obsessing over Blundstone boots. For some reason I have gotten it in my head that these would be the perfect boots for me as a mom: I like the golden brown ankle boot look, they are super long-lasting and durable, all weather for this climate and they pull on. I’ve gone browsing for them more than once. Luckily nothing has been in my size if they have the style I like, or vice verce. I’ve even gone as far as fantasizing that I’d eliminate 5 pairs of shoes if I got those. I’ve then sat staring at all the shoes I already possess in order to talk myself down. This is the first purchasing obsession I’ve had in a while. I will let you know how it all works out…so far I’m winning…I think…



Week 46: Scaredy Pussy

Week 46: Scaredy Pussy

I am not a revolutionary. I’m have not even been an activist or even political for the most part. But now I am…or I’m getting to be.

I honestly don’t know how you can afford not to be in this climate, this crazy, critical, chaotic time.

I recently came to the realization that the most radical thing I could do right now, is get my citizenship…even though, at this point in time, it seems like the thing I want the least. But, think, with that simple shift in status, my view is more valid, I have a voting voice, I can sign all the petitions I want and call all my representatives and be able to state that I am a citizen and I demand…such and such.

And then I got scared. Do I want to open myself up to the scrutiny I once again will face by Homeland Security…only this time under a new dict…I mean…whiner….I mean leader?

Even writing this kinda scares me (‘then why do you do it?’ you ask. Because I am compelled to. I do not wish to be complicit in my silence).

So, I got as far as printing out the paperwork…but there it sits. I haven’t even written down my name…not even gone to look for a black ink pen as required.

Cost of citizenship, about $725.

Crazy but we even have to consider if that is feasible budget-wise. At least, enough to give pause and consider in what month we might be able to swing that. Makes me think of all the lower in come families than ourselves, who might not be able to afford citizenship at any time.

Anyway, I don’t really know what I want to say in this blog. Just, I guess, that more has been on my mind than trying not to buy things. I’m actually quite pleased that my go-to-stress relief is not to shop at all, it’s not even on my radar. So, I suppose that is progress.

I leave you with a pic of me, my one woman parade. A friend of mine had invited me to a small Women’s March, and I gamely showed up with my girls and mum-in-law, all in purple with as-close-to-a-pussy hat I could find,(the purple was in solidarity with Indivisible Sonoma that helped organize a mass attendance at a town hall meeting that I had gone to that morning)…to discover I had been given the wrong date. So, in a way I was super radical…I walked the entire down town with my signs held up, drawing looks from all the locals and tourists alike, even getting a “Good for you mama!” as a one woman protester. Far more exhibitionist than I’d normally go for. A big thank you to my mum-in-law for gamely coming along as she is most definitely NOT an exhibitionist. I apologize for drawing so much attention.

So here it is

Love over Fear…and I Don’t Have a Big Enough Sign.wp-1488242927317.jpg

Week 45: Quitting Time?

Week 45: Quitting Time?

It’s week 45 out of…I can’t do the math right now…okay, I Googled it :52 weeks…

and I just want to quit.

By now, I know this is probably as good as it is going to get. I am not going to be tightening my belt much more. I will still spend on things, mostly just the necessities, sometimes small splurges for my joy and/or mental health. I realize that I like to spend on treats such as date nights, or taking a friend to lunch, getting the occasional fancy coffee, entrance fees to museums and activities for the girls. I realize that these are not necessities but I am not content living the austere, spending free life. I don’t believe in saving for future joy. Joy now please ( not to say that only things that cost money provide joy, but it certainly can facilitate it at times). I do believe in saving for some security now and in the future (because a safety net/security contributes to my happiness) and to also enjoy some of it right now. Scrimping and saving is not my MO.

I am very proud of the progress I’ve made in the area of compulsive or emotional spending. I now am able to project myself into the future (when the let-down and remorse happens ) before I spend so that I can re-enter the current moment faced with the temptation and pass on it. That is HUGE.

I feel like I’ve reached a certain equilibrium. I don’t know that many new insights will be forth coming. And most of all, it is SO HARD to get the time to write. I sound whiney, but it’s true. By the time I have the kids in bed…I am no longer inspired to write. And trying to compose a thoughtful blog entry whilst my toddler talks incessantly beside me is…well…insanely frustrating. But I’ve made it this far, so…

I am also feeling a disenchantment with social media at the moment. There is so much out there. I feel like I am just adding to the chatter. And if what I put out there isn’t excellent…or even original, maybe it is best left to the medium of a journal. What is the necessity of making this public except perhaps as an ego boost? I think I talked about this in depth a few blogs back.

Mostly, what’s gotten me into this state is this crazy political climate…I feel like I am exposing myself. Part of me wants to scream, YES! This is my right and I shouldn’t be afraid to express my opinions. “What are you worried about?”, you ask, “this blog is about not shopping”. Yes, true, this is mostly innocuous stuff. But at times I have veered off this blogs main point to rant on politics. It felt good. It still does. I have a hard time staying quiet. But it also puts my views out into the net, accessible to all, even those who might…say at the border… judge me and as jury of my fate, decide that I am not welcome. This is a real fear. As a non-citizen but resident, I’ve recently begun to fear leaving to visit my Canadian family, in case I am refused re-entry. I know, some of you think there should be no reason why any of this chaos should affect me, a Canadian, not a minority etc., etc. But folks, all my worst, most out-there, outlandish fears have become reality in the last few months, thoughts I had that others comforted me by saying could not happen…have happened. So, no, I’m not ruling out being barred from my own husband and girls should I choose to leave for a visit to Canada.

I am fluctuating so much between wanting to continue to be public and wanting to shut off all connection and hide in a hut in the woods.

The other day, feeling overwhelmingly angry, I wrote a rant…and didn’t publish it. No, I wrote it in a Google Doc, since I didn’t have any writing program. Then…as I finished I started thinking and feeling fearful because, of course, Google Docs is cloud based. All of it is out there folks, accessible with a log in. I am so close to picking up a pen once again, and working through the necessary joint pains and calluses, to return to the analogue form of writing.

All that to say, I want to quit…not this challenge…but blogging and social media. I’m not quite there yet, but I feel it building. This is, of course, a very inconvenient impulse as I am right now trying to start a photography business that will rely heavily on getting my name out there via precisely these outlets.

So, if it does come to a point where I want to quit it all, I will have had to have found a lot of courage and will power to do so…because it is an addiction and a creative outlet, my connection to family and friends, to news, to it all.

I’ll let you know if and when it comes to quitting time.

Until then, thank you for reading this blog.


Week 43 & 44: Steady

Week 43 & 44: Steady

Where was I last week (…this week even, as it is already half way)?

Okay, to be perfectly honest: cowering in shame, not sure what to write.

But now it’s the next check in and I just have to write what happened. The point of this challenge is to do it publicly for all to see, for accountability. To lie now would be to run ripshod over the point.

So…after all the talk about needing to pair back, quit my studio because of the expense and donate to worthy causes…I’ve done exactly none of those things. Oh, and it gets worse:

We bought a “new to us” used van. Yeah. Right when I thought we were just too tight…my hubs actually informed me that the reason he needed me transferring money from savings was not (as I had believed) because we were falling short this month trying to cover the mortgage, but because he saw a mini van for sale on his way to work. This was our chance to ditch the Volvo before it gets too old and starts costing waaaay too much in repairs, and pick up a more easily (read cheaply) fixable Toyota Sienna. For me, it has always been about needing more space. And when I learned that it would use no more gas than the Volvo does already, I was sold. In a whirlwind we were taking it for a test drive and then doing the deed. It was a good deal for us. When all is said and done, when we sell the Volvo, we will be out a couple thousand. But gaw…right after I reported how tight things were.

See, this is what I mean when I talk about how even as lower middle class income holders, we are seriously so privileged.

As for pairing down household expenses by cancelling my membership to my barre studio…I did some soul searching. Know thy self, right? Well, I do. In a few days I will be 36 (okay…I’m not 36 since my birthday came and went and this post hasn’t been posted)…and I kinda do know myself now. I know that I can be very motivated when I want to be…I’ve proved that to myself before. However, I know that I will not be getting up in the wee hours of the morning to self practice. I also know that I will not be able to do a self practice with the kids running in and around and over me. I need to get away and do it in a place where my kids are not, and where someone is telling my lazy, tired butt to move it. I long and yearn to return to my Bikram practice and awesome studio…but that is 20 minutes across town, not 5, and it is 90 minutes, not 60 minutes, AND gets you so sweaty you have to set aside time to shower…and no child care…also hours are not as good. So, even though it is actually more affordable ($25 less a month) it is not realistic for me right now.

So…being that it is my birthday in a few days ( it’s now passed), I thought the hubs might see it in his heart to let me have another month (he actually told me that he thinks its important to me, so I should keep going). In the mean time…I just fired off an email to the owner asking if I could do tradesies for doing some studio childcare…or some photography for her. It felt super awkward asking. I have never done anything like that before. We will see what comes of it; I am determined to not feel ashamed or embarrassed for seeing what my options are. And, it felt good to at least be exploring ways in which I might be able to pair down the financial drag of my “self care”.

(Update!: I got a job doing childcare at my studio on Fridays for a small wage and discounted membership! I am SO excited! Proving it pays to ask.)

I have not donated to any cause. Unless you count the $20 I slipped to the young kids asking for donations to the food bank outside Safeway. The previous owner of our “new” van gave me $20 back because she noticed the tail light was out. I felt like that $20 might not have been mine if not for her honesty, so I just wanted to pay it forward. I thought of my sister as I put it in the young girls hand and saw her smile of surprise. My sister is always so generous in her giving. She’s the one who always notices the homeless guy and hands him a bill or two, slips bills into collection jars, opens her purse when someone asks for help. I admire her generosity and need to emulate her more.

I have several organizations in mind to donate to, but want to run it by the hubs.

A friend of mine also suggested that, if at this time in my life I do not have the monetary thing going on, I could also offer up my time. I hadn’t thought of that as being of value..but of course it is. I should most definitely already know that. So I might look into that as well.

The thing is that the cogs and wheels turn slowly. If I were sans kids, the research part of all this would be much speedier and I might take action faster. I also would have far more time to offer up. I need to be more gentle with myself in this regard. Beating myself up over what seems to be inaction is not helping me in any way. I do, however, want to remain motivated to help, to be active.

I was invited to a Huddle ( a Women’s March initiative). A mommy huddle where we can talk about what actions we can take to be part of this democracy, while also chasing our children. Should be fun, and it is something I can do to stay active and motivated.

Some Observations on my Change of State Due to Shopping Detox:

I still get a sense of excitement when I know there is something we need that I must shop for, but it quicky fades. Somehow I have accelerated that high to low arc so that before I even purchase the item, I am already having the deterrent feeling of disgust. This is a very positive thing as I am not actually spending on anything needlessly. The other day I walked into Target needing some pull-ups for my potty training kiddo (I’d washed the bed sheets three times in 24 hours), and I was feeling excited because I was on my own and I wanted to look at several things. Well I did, I checked out their $1 deal section and found nothing I actually wanted in my house…eyed the car seats to get an idea of what the upgrade for our youngest might cost (she’s getting so big! I will miss that bucket car seat!)…looked at the kids clothing sale rack and considered a few items then realized that we were doing just fine getting by with what we have…looked at a few T-shirts for myself…but all of it lost its luster after looked at the actual products. The idea of having new items was exciting, the actuality of their existence…not so much. As I stood in-line with the one item I was purchasing (the pull ups) I looked around at all the junk everyone else was buying…and I kind of felt ill. I could see that this was the norm, this is our culture. Not to be judgy (…but I guess I’m going to go ahead and do just that), but I could tell that the folks in front of me were not of the “wealthy” set, in fact they acted a lot like what I have experienced as lower-income…probably a stereotype…but they were loud and crass and rude, their kids disrespectful…yet they all were wearing brand new items, baseball hats with the silver sticker on its bill, shoes without dirt on them, the girl was whining about having a terrible day and her parents refusal to buy her soda was the icing on the cake…she was wearing spotlessly new everything, an entire matching outfit from head to toe. They spent $200 on credit. I couldn’t help but think that not only did they all not look one bit happy (perhaps just a bad day and ordinarily they brim with joy and fulfillment) nor did it look like the items in their bags were going to bring them much joy (“Whats this?!” the angry young girl demanded of her mom pulling out shiny water bottle, glare from the mom.) more likely heartache when the bill came due.

I dunno. That could have been a figment of my overactive imagination. But as I stood in that line I just felt like most of us there were just void filling. I was happy to leave there with only my most necessary item: pull ups for my amazing potty training toddler.

Week 41: Here We Go

Week 41: Here We Go

Wow. What a week. I spent my Friday studiously avoiding all media. I am thankful to a dear friend for providing the space and time to get together to watch our kids wreak havoc and to chat amidst the chaos, temporarily forgetting what was going on in the outside world.

I also took my kids on a small spree of sorts at the Goodwill…we bought a stack of books. I could think of no better way to sate my desire to ’emotion spend’, then to spend it on books ( I was not in the mood to resist spending). I also had my eldest select a book she thought was great (and might want for herself), to give to her friend. I want to start to instill in my kids a sense of generosity…though how effective such lessons truly are at this stage of their life when everything is only about them remains to be seen.

And then, the next day, I marched.

I woke up Saturday feeling out of sorts. I had this feeling that once again I would be all talk and no action, that I would let this march pass me by. I have never been to a march. But I have also never felt so galvanized to participate. I also felt frozen with trepidation about whether or not such an event would be safe for my family, would there be irrationally angry people threatening the safety of all? This is America land of the free and the gun toting, would we be gunned down (these are the extreme fears I now have as a mom)? I will forever be grateful to my sister-in-law for calling me up and saying “hey, wanna go to the march?” Her calm and confidence that this was obviously something we could consider doing was freeing. Suddenly it felt possible. Suddenly I didn’t feel frozen. And so I ran the idea past my toddler to see if she was interested and she was…so we went about the business of digging out as much pink clothing as we could find…which wasn’t too hard for her given her recent interest in that color…but a little tougher for me.

I didn’t forget about the vigilance I would have to have, the spidey senses I would need to engage. I tagged my toddler lest she got lost. We started on the periphery and never got to deeply into the crowd. However, pretty soon, I began to feel at ease. It was amazing. It was what all such gatherings should be: positive, full of love and acceptance, and safe. The police were smiling and fully supportive. It was the best possible experience.

I don’t know what my three year old thought of the whole thing. On the walk there she slept in my pack. For the gathering and march she alternated between my carrier and shoulders. She had a scowl on her face…the expression she wears when she is taking things in and processing it. I don’t know how much she will have understood from it, but it felt good that we were there together, participating in something historical and significant and meaningful. My first step out of petrified stasis. I have yet to figure out how I will stay engaged, but I will. I must.

As for spending, well, the small book splurge was valid I think.

And as for future spending, I want to actually put my dollars into some organizations that will be essential to us in the next four years. I just need to do a bit more research.

And that’s all folks.

Love and hope.

A woman with her own kid walked by and offered to take a picture with this awesome frame she had made. Of course we said “yes!”