Possum Living: My Frisky Bitz Bring All the Cats to the Yard

Normally Fridays are reserved for politics, but this week threatened to send me into a tailspin, so it’s Possum Living instead. My biggest and most challenging goal for 2018 is to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. When I am stressed, depressed, or anxious, I have a bad habit of either eating compulsively or spending too much, and I’m drawing the line. There are less destructive ways to cope. And I’ve found one.

First, let me tell you my successes.

  • I survived the State of the Union without feeling compelled to spend money or eat things that I shouldn’t. I was really proud of myself. I was anxious, tense, scared, stressed, but I didn’t make bad decisions.
  • I passed on a deal for a book that I wanted. It was a sweet deal, too, but I sent the email to the trash folder without blinking.
  • I made a trip to Lowe’s for work, and I walked right past the sick plant section, even though I could see they had two Norfolk Island Pines that needed rescuing. I didn’t even look at the price. That was my hardest challenge. Plants are a weakness.
  • I have become more comfortable with being a little hungry during the day. I haven’t panicked as if I would NEVER EAT AGAIN. You can laugh, but some part of my twisted brain thought/thinks it is true.
  • My muffin-top has shrunk a bit.
  • I signed up for a 1/2 marathon.

So let me introduce you to the thing that is filling in the blanks for me. Neko Atsume.

The premise is simple. You download the free app, and you get a yard, a food bowl, and some cheap cat food. The goal is to attract cats to your yard. There are a gajillion of them. After they leave your yard, they leave fish behind as a thank you. Some of the fish are silver, but some are gold, (what you’d normally pay money for). You use the fish to buy items in the store – everything from fancy food to new toys to try to lure rarer cats to the yard. I’ve played it for a week-and-a-half, and I love it. It’s adorable, it allows me to make some purchases in their little store, set goals, develop a strategy for meeting those goals. It’s SO MUCH FUN!

On Tuesday, instead of choking down cookies or surfing Amazon, I checked in on my cats. I rearranged the furniture. I made sure the kitties were fed. And I didn’t worry. Or stress.

Kittehz! This is the original yard. The cat with his back to me cracks me right up. Isn’t that just like a cat?

The cats filter in and out at will, and the most fun in the morning is checking in to see who dropped by during the night. Only 5 cats can occupy the space at a time, so it’s a good idea to maximize the area by purchasing the items that are likely to bring in the most gold fish. It only takes 180 gold fish to expand the yard to hold more cats to bring more fish to buy more yard to hold more cats… And so on it goes. It may seem silly or pointless, but it’s working for me.

Different kittehz, and see how the little black one wore itself out playing?

I saved, I strategized, I read all the online tips, and I expanded my yard. Was it all I had hoped, Oh, yeah!

This is the yard and the inside of the house. The fat white cat on the grass is Tubbs. Most people hate him. I haven’t seen him often enough to be anything but amused by his chubby countenance.

The kitty condo holds up to 5 cats, which brings the total of cats at one time to 13!

I am late to this game. Lots of people discovered it before I did, but better late than never. I don’t know why it works, or even for how long it will work, but I’m okay with it. I’ll take what I can get, and if it quits working, I’ll find something new. I’ll make it to good health and a happier bank account one day at a time, one kitteh at a time.

What ways have you found to help manage stress? Have your methods evolved over time?

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Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

So back at the beginning of the year (is 2018 over yet, because it feels like it has hung around long enough!), I shared some of my goals. One of them was the most ambitious thing I have ever tried. Inspired by the book Possum Living (cool video here), I plan to go all of 2018 without buying anything I don’t NEED. Sometimes there is a giant grey area between needs and wants. Take books, for example. I need books like I need air. But do I NEED to BUY them? Unless it is a text for my job, probably not. This outline is rather fluid, and time may force some changes, but I will share any changes as a means of holding myself accountable.

Needs:

  • Gasoline
  • Food
  • College tuition
  • Clothing (but NO T-SHIRTS)
  • Utilities and mortgage
  •  Cellphone – I have a Tracfone, so I have to get service cards periodically. Texts are $5 for 1000, and it’s the primary way we communicate at work
  • Books specifically relevant to work – must be read within a month of purchase
  • Car (I signed my car’s death warrant when I put my favorite sticker on it)
  • Potting soil and bare bones supplies for growing plants to sell at Farmer’s Market
  • Photo books – I do these twice a year as a gift for my mom, but I also get one for me. My photos are essential. But no superfluous photo gifts. I use Snapfish, and they usually provide me with good coupons.

Wants:

  • Books (Goodbye, BookBub! Until next year?) – Not even the illustrated Goblet of Fire due out in October
  • Harry Potter memorabilia (this kills me!)
  • Music (unless I already have gift card credit on the music site)
  • Toys for the pets. It’s too bad, really, because Lumen is quite destructive, but she LOVES HER TOYS SO MUCH! I stocked up on the one toy she hasn’t managed to completely murder and dismantle, so she won’t have nothing. Don’t look at me like that!
  • Additional pets – (no more snakes? WHAT? But… but…)
  • He wants a friend…

  • Additional pet housing, beyond basic supplies (food, UVB bulbs, etc
  • Toys in general
  • Impulse buys for the kids
  • Clearance holiday stuff *whimper* unless it’s for prizes for my students
  • Squishables
  • Coffee or meals out – unless I am traveling or it is pre-arranged date-night
  • Postage for packages to friends
  • Gifts – beyond family birthdays and gift-giving holidays
  • An addendum to the above rule: no creating gift-giving holidays. In our house, Valentine’s Day is a children’s holiday. I cannot turn it into a “Hey, gimme this Funko Pop! figure” holiday.

So you’re here to hold me accountable.  Almost As much fun as a host of fleas nesting in your armpits.

I make a lot of impulse purchases when I’m feeling sad, lonely, depressed, excited, anxious. I admit that I shop (and eat) to deal with feelings and to fill a void. So what am I going to do when that shopper vibe starts bouncing in my brain? I’m going to be creative. Literally. Like, I’m going to create something. Here are some ways to channel my energy

  • Write – I’ve been successful with this one. I have been writing a LOT. I have written so many blog posts this year already, and that’s not even the tip of my brain’s iceberg. I think I could spend the next few weeks and write out blog posts for each day for the rest of the year. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could. And I wrote a short story and entered a writing competition. So yay.
  • Take Lumen for a walk or a run- I ran with her a few days ago, and I totally freaked her out. “If Mommy’s running, someone must be chasing! LET’S MAKE TRACKS!”
  • Who’s the happiest dog-parking dog in the world? And maybe the most exhausted. Little Pittie mixes are fast and intense, old girl!

  • Read – I am on NetGalley, and I’m working on reading a book I’m super-excited about. And when I read the book, I can REVIEW it, so that brings me back to WRITING!
  • Knit – I have the basics down. Yay, me. But I suck at it. Practice makes perfect, so I shall practice.
  • Give stuff away – Stuff begets more stuff. If I clear out some of the clutter, I am less inclined to buy matching clutter. Also, moving stuff out helps me to realize how much I already HAVE.
  • Make little turtles out of Sculpey – I’m good at this, and I owe some people some critters. I gotta get on this as soon as my right arm begins functioning again.
  • Play Neko Atsume -What better way to practice becoming a crazy cat lady than to learn to attract stray cats?

    My yarn balls bring ALL the kitties to the yard. And I can’t get rid of them. Help!

 

How do YOU deal with anxiety or depression? What’s the most effective thing for you? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

Doing Nothing Sure Does Take a Lot of Planning!

My new goal to buy absolutely nothing I don’t need comes at a good time. I’ve got a kid in college, an old car, a new dog roughly the size of a grizzly bear. Not buying crap will be a good thing. But it will be a challenge. Where do I even start? The first order of business is to cut myself off from advertising. That meant closing the door on all those wonderful companies I have invited into my inbox. I had to unsubscribe from:

  • Panera – (shockingly the hardest. I am not even quite sure that I am unsubscribed. Spinning circle of death. But if I mark them as spam, I’ll teach Gmail to route those to the junk folder.
  • Fandango – I almost never go to movies unless it’s something big – like Star Wars, so this isn’t a heartbreak. I can catch movies on DVD next year or on Netflix.
  • Funko – I am seriously in love with Funko Pop! figures. I collect most of the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Stranger Things items. But not this year. Maybe next year.
  • Squishable – This website sells the most ridiculous and wonderful stuff toy thingies. I have two. That is all I need. SO cute. So sweet. But no.
  • Target – I unsubscribed from them a while ago because they were spamming me to death! Two or three emails PER DAY! Bye, Felicia!
  • Lemuria Books – I ordered a signed copy of THUG before it was released, and now it’s a treasure. But I don’t have room for tons of books.
  • Verdant Tea – I think I bought something from them once as a gift? I don’t remember. I don’t drink tea. I drink the blood of virgins. And coffee.
  • PayPal – I use them as my primary for online purchases because I can dispute them if the seller turns out to be shady. I will still use Paypal for necessary purchases, but I don’t need the marketing. Also, their algorithms have been drinking. They sent me a link to deals on diamond rings. Yo, dudes, it’s no secret that I dig through poop for a living. What part of that says diamond to you?
  • Hot Topic – Don’t judge. Tons of sweet Stranger Things and Harry Potter merch.
  • Box Lunch – Same.
  • Artscow – a photo gift site that I used a great deal in the past. But their prices have gone up so much that they are unaffordable (like, final cost is now 200% what it was two years ago). This one was a tough goodbye. So many memories, so much business done with this site.
  • Loot Crate – a monthly crate subscription to sci-fi/fantasy stuff. I like sci-fi/fantasy, and I love surprises, so Loot Crates appeal to me. Maybe next year.
  • Loot Vault – cheap, cheap sci-fi/fantasy merch. One of the few business that still offers NEW Firefly goodies.
  • Japan Crate – Like the other “crates,” it’s a monthly subscription for themed surprises. I love such things, but I never ordered. Came close a time or two, which is another reason why they are off my list. I can’t be tempted by cute toys and  tasty snacks.
  • GameStop – this was one I subscribed to because it has a rewards card. They have a few exclusive items a year I was interested in.
  • Poo-pourri – If you’ve ever met people who were all, like, “My poop don’t stink!” it’s because they use Poo-pourri. This stuff WORKS.
  • Kool Kid Toys – They have great prices on Funko Pop!, and I ordered from them once. I love Funko, and I do not need this temptation.
  • Passive Juice Motel. I bought Dark Arts coffee from them for the Severus Snape packaging. I don’t need it.
  • Shutterfly– I tried them once. Too expensive. Even with coupons, and the quality isn’t any better than anyone else. But they send me “free book” photo book coupons. Get behind me, Satan!
  • Ebay – How I ever got on this “personalized for you” list, I don’t know. But Ebay is my kryptonite. Need an obscure herpetology text? Check Ebay! Maybe next year.
  • Hallmark – I used to work for them, and I do try to get their Harry Potter ornaments. That’s how they get me – encouraging me to come in and buy more to build points for “free” stuff. This one will be hard. They have beautiful HP ornaments. But not this year. Maybe next.
  • Amazon Prime- this one was physically the hardest to unsubscribe from. It’s a five-click, multi-page process. Exhausting.
  • Joanne Fabric – I am not a serious crafter, so this one was easier. But I do buy some stuff, and if I get into knitting, I will be tempted. “You sure you wanna do that?” “Positive?” “Okay, but, like puppies will die and stuff.” “It’s your call, man. If you’re sure.” “You didn’t mean that.”
  • Tractor Supply – don’t laugh. They offer GREAT dog toys. Lumen-proof toys. Also? TRACTORS!
  • Dave’s Deals – this email is from Dave Ramsey. He offers some of the best financial advice there is, and Dave’s Deals shares the hottest deals on his books. Somehow I think he would applaud my decision to unsubscribe.
  • Booksamillion – I like my local store, I enjoy the events that they host, but I am way too tempted to buy stuff from them. TOO TEMPTED. Because BOOKS!
  • Book bub. This site was the hardest goodbye. It’s a website that shares daily deals on e-books. You can choose your favorite authors and EVERYTHING, and it will give you alerts when a deal comes up for one of them. As my hands get worse, I am relying even more on my e-reader. I only get hard copies of Herpetology books and things heavily reliant on photos(and illustrated Harry Potter because DUH) because my hands cramp pretty quickly just trying to hold open a tree book.

Holy crap! Look at all the businesses that slid their way into my email inbox! It has taken me two days to hunt down and unsubscribe from marketing. It is stunning to look back and see how much I have allowed businesses into my inbox without even thinking. I have set myself up to be hammered by advertising because I wanted a coupon, or I was hoping for a good deal, or just because I signed up for a loyalty card and didn’t check the box that disallowed marketing emails. Some of the temptation is gone, or it will be in a few weeks.

What stays:

Kroger – They are my store. I get good service and decent prices. I’m good at ignoring deals that I don’t need at the grocery store. For now. And also? Friday Freebies. It’s a thing! Every Friday they release a new freebie deal. You don’t have to buy anything in order to get it, just download the coupon. It’s a good way to try new things.

Snapfish – Their photo products are excellent, and they offer numerous coupons via email. Good coupons. Not quite as inexpensive as Artscow used to be, but affordable, good quality, and FAST.

Netgalley – This website offers Advance Reader Copies of upcoming books. I don’t usually meet publisher requirements to receive them, but when I do, these books are FREE, and if I read one that is a real treasure, I can add it to my Christmas wishlist. Yeah, my family shops from lists. They make life SO much simpler. I recommend.

Union Avenue Books – They are a local brick-and-mortar, independently owned and operated, often imitated but never duplicated bookstore. They offer events, like FUN events, book signings, etc. And I don’t get an email more than once a week. I may decide later that they are too much temptation, but for now, I’m keeping them.

 

 

 

 

A Brave New Year

Everybody makes resolutions. Some people are even all clever and make resolutions NOT to make resolutions, thus proving we can’t get away from this tradition/trend. I’m no exception. This year, I’m going in big. Go big or go home, right? Actually, it’s cold outside. Going home sounds not-so-bad at the moment… Just kidding.

2016 was a dumpster fire. I said there was no possible way that 2017 could be worse than that, which 2017 took as a personal challenge. It was not a good year overall. But you know what? That’s partly my fault. I am not going to spend this brand, spanky new year sitting passively in the passenger’s seat. 2018 is my year of being brave.

This year, 2018, I am going to:

  • Learn to knit. I don’t know a whole lot of people in person who knit, so I am REALLY going to have to go to the interwebs for this one. I have never learned anything from Youtube before, except to pee BEFORE watching an episode of Bad Lip Reading, so this will be an adventure. And for some reason, it makes me a little nervous. But if I practice knitting for a year, I’ll get decent, right?

  • Breed my dart frogs. I have a bunch of them at work. Three different species. And none of them have bred. I have done everything recommended, and I have gotten to the point of getting them in condition and getting them to call, but so far, no luck. If you have bred them before, hit me up. I gotta know what I need to do differently.

Why you little dudes take a vow of chastity?

  • I am going to put my interest in plants to use. I am going to grow some things to sell at the local Farmer’s Market this summer. I can’t stop myself from growing plants. It brings me joy and energy. If I am stressed, I can soothe my spirit by checking up on a cinnamon tree or a root peeking out of a fig cutting. And since I have no self-control where it comes to growing stuff, I can maybe share my joy with others. And make a little cash. To buy more plants…
  • I am going to learn how to make saagwala at home. I love Indian food. I have attempted curry, and I’m good at the recipes I have. Now it’s time to learn saag.
  • I am going to vote in any election that pops up. It’s my civic responsibility, and I’m going to take it seriously.
  • Call my representatives when there are issues I am concerned about. Which is, like always.
  • Add ALL my reps’ numbers to speed dial so I can leave them messages in all of their offices. I currently only have one number each in my phone.
  • Produce 2 pieces, either short story or essay,  to submit somewhere for publication. This means re-learning how to write a short story. Eek! But it’s time to start building my wall of rejections. Or acceptance, but it’s the rejections that make us stronger, right? I am gonna be STRONG!
  • Actually submit these pieces. This is me closing some loopholes.

And here’s the big one. The one that is the biggest change in my life. Are you ready? Am I ready?

  • I am going to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. I read a book by Dolly Freed called “Possum  Living.” It’s a non-fiction book by an 18-year-old. She and her dad spent 3 years living like possums (not eating them!). They ate what was around them – raised chickens in the cellar for meat, raised gardens, saved money however they could. They spent about $1500 a year. Even in 1978, that was chump change. And her motto when it came to buying things was “Not now, maybe later.” That’s my mantra for 2018. I’ll unpack this whole goal in a separate blog post, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. A surprising amount of planning goes into inaction, really. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. It’s just a few minutes long and worth a watch!

How do you plan to make 2018 your lap dog? Inspire me!