SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











I love the concept of an organized life.  I have a bookshelf full of how-to organize and how-to declutter.  In theory, it creates a sense of peace.

I’m not so hot at the application!

Most of what I’ve read on organizing and decluttering goes room by room.  Well, that means I get a room nice and neat while the rest of the House of Cheaptitude is a hot mess.  My bedroom, for instance, usually looks like it’s been ravaged by Hurricane Mama.

On Pinterest lately, I’ve seen a lot about a “Konmari Method.” Apparently, Marie Kondo is a professional organizer with a ginormous waiting list for her services in Japan, and she’s written a bestseller about her method.  She details the order of decluttering, even giving instructions on how to fold and store your clothes.

Have I read her book yet? Naw.  It’s got a waiting list at my local SoBo library and I’m certainly too cheap to purchase it.

My takeaway from other blogs and articles, however, is that you gather your crap target items in one central area.  Instead of room by room, you do categories – in a hurry!  And category #1 is clothes.  You take everything out, physically touch every single thing down to your socks, and ask ” Does this Spark Joy?”. If not, it needs to leave.

Can my drawers really spark joy?  I mean, my super dee duper VS bras spark lots of joy for me.  But for real?  Everything else I put on is for function and to be a law-abiding citizen.

But with the kitchen and living room straight (and I’m still mentally blocking lesson plans!), I need a project.  So this seems to fit.

I’m not sure why clothing is the first category. Using this method, you put all of your clothing in one place (I keep reading “floor” but I have a queen-size bed and aversion to laundry!). Please keep in mind, I have 3 baskets in the family room waiting to be put up, but since those are clothes I wear all the time, it makes sense that I won’t declutter them. Right?

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Closet before


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Closet before


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Closet before

So my closet is obviously overstuffed. Not only do I rarely get rid of clothes I purchase, my mom has sent a bunch of clothes when she worked at Coldwater Creek (for Monkey #2, but they fit me!), and I have a ton of hand-me-downs from family and Pioneer Woman. Many items are too big and need to be altered but time/Cheaptitude keeps them hanging out in the closet.

There’s also crap a lot of stuff that belongs elsewhere, to be dealt with later.

I did not realize just how much clothing was on my side of the closet until I saw this mess on my bed!
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I share closet space with Grizz and had this much on my own! And I broke a rule of the strategy, choosing to ignore shoes and accessories for right now. This was literally just clothing.

My dresser (which I don’t share was not much better.
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The top needs clearing, sorting, etc. The drawers were all closing (recall the 3 baskets in the family room?) and all of the clothes were in their proper pieces of real estate, but…decluttering was definitely in order.
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See the pretty striped bin? Bed, Bath & Beyond, from Aunt Janice for Christmas. I have 2 that size. Until this point, they have both been overflowing with tightly rolled spirit shirts for school. Who needs that many tees? There are maybe 36 Fridays in a school year and I always wear an 8th grade or Yearbook shirt. Cheaptitude at its worst, I suppose.

The worst part is I also had 2 full drawers brimming with other tees and knit tops. Plus my top middle drawer is full of tanks. Oy!

Once I unloaded all of my clothes onto the bed, I started the process of touching each piece and asking if they sparked joy. OK, not really. But I did cull 8 grocery sacks of clothes to donate, added to my T-shirt quilt pile, and filled a bag to be altered. The donation bags traveled straight to the trunk of the pimpmobile before I could second guess myself. The other items that weren’t going straight back to the dresser or closet were relocated as not to be in my way.

The Konmari method is very specific about how to fold and hang your clothes once you’ve removed the joyless stuff. I went to my good friend Google and found a YouTube video so that I could fold and file my clothes. Tees and tanks are still the bulk, so I tackled those first.

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Spirit shirts


Now my spirit shirts are easy to locate and take up only a bin and a half. I feel like I fit more rolled, but that lent itself to a bit of a mess, honestly. I can locate my options more easily. The extra bin has several non-work t-shirts now, which frees dresser space!
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Loving the semi empty T-shirt drawer!


I watched two YouTube videos and still cannot “file” my jeans or drawers properly. I gave it the old college try and it’ll work for now. Because the underwear drawer is so flipping neat now, I needed to create a divider. Use what’s on hand, right? I happened to have an old shoebox left over from Monkey #2’s much smaller feet. I could go purchase something cute, but I’m the only one who sees it, and it’s just not necessary.
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Neat and organized drawers drawerūüėČ


I felt really accomplished by the time I finished re-loading my dresser. With it being a league night, I just hung stuff back in the closet and didn’t really organize it. That’s tentatively on my list for tomorrow. I also didn’t take after pics of everything yet, but it was so great to pull clothes out today! Most of what I still have I actually love. As I folded the three baskets this afternoon, I added to my next donation pile. Laundry is going to be so much easier now!

I’m so excited to declutter the monkeys and Grizz next….

Have you tried the Konmari method? What are your thoughts?

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{May 31, 2015}   Of Loss

Jeepnmom and I spoke last night – no shock there – and while catching up on hometown happenings, she told me one of the guys we grew up with had passed away suddenly.

We aren’t that old.

We are healthy.

What is wrong with the universe?

I hadn’t spoken to this guy in probably 25 years.¬† But I can see his folks’ house in my mind.¬† He’d often be outside when I walked to a friend’s house.¬† I remember him in middle school.¬† He was smart, nice, not really in one clique, but friends with everyone.

What stands out in my memory is what a genuinely nice guy he was. And tonight I’m thinking of him as a friend to so many, a father, a son, a husband.¬† I feel awful for those left behind. I can’t imagine myself in that situation.

Even though we haven’t seen each other or talked in so long, there’s a bond developed among small town kids.¬† I’m sure we all feel the loss to a degree.

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Back when the four-legged monkey was a baby, she ate all of the cushions from our patio furniture.  She also ate socks, trash, and the swimming pool.  Although I’ve been trying to fix up the back porch and yard, the cushions haven’t been replaced.  At this point, it’s not even related to my sense of Cheaptitude.  I haven’t found anything I like. And why invest a significant amount of money in something that doesn’t make me happy happy happy?

Exploring Pinterest was helpful.  People are using all kinds of fabrics to reupholster outdoor cushions.  I saw tablecloths, shower curtains, vintage linens.  So many creative and pretty options! I have tons of cool fabric!

I don’t have any cushions left to reupholster.

So my next thought was to make cushions and stuff them.  Problem? Waterproofing. How can I make pretty cushions that I like that are waterproof?

Shower curtain liner.

When I replace a liner, I run the old one through the washing machine to be repurposed. 

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My plan is coming together.

I kind of estimated how much “material” I’d need, trimmed it down, and sewed 2.5 edges.  The sewing actually puts holes in the plastic, so I covered the seams with duct tape.  Yup, I could’ve saved a step!

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Then, I gathered my stuffing.  I had some polyfil from the craft store, the leftovers of a pillow the 4 legged monkey ate, and old bed pillows.  I didn’t need it super stuffed, just enough for an outdoor cushion.

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After stuffing, I sealed the last side.

I’ve not made the cover yet, but have it planned in my head.  It’s going to be an envelope case, easy on and off for cleaning.  I’m so excited for my outdoor living space to be more livable!

What’s your latest outdoor project?

~ Katie

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I missed out on the last big family trip.  It was a trip to New Orleans, right before Crazy Math Lady ventured off to Africa and I hosted her farewell bunco. The repercussions were bigger than I realized at the time, but it was important for me to stay home. Now I might choose differently.  Not sure.

So a month or so ago, Nana and the Biloxi Babe (awesome cousin!) started making plans for a Memphis trip. They set it all up, from hotel to tours – all we had to do was show up!

The trip fell on a weekend during state testing. Grizzly’s brother, sister, and spouses had work commitments and were unable to attend. While most of the family headed north on Thursday, school stuff kept the rest of us a day behind.

As soon as Monkey #2, the last arrival at the House of Cheaptitude, jumped off the school bus, we loaded up the pimpmobile and headed out.
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We did stop at Waffle house in North Shreveport before hitting the interstate!

Fast forward to 11 Friday night. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express on Union, in the Medical district. A Red Bull and Cappuccino in, I got the fam settled in our room and headed to the mini gym to finish my 10k steps.

The next morning, we met in the lobby for a yummy continental breakfast and called for cabs to Beale St. Why plural? We had 14 people to transport!
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We had requested a van, but you take what you can get sometimes. We sent the monkeys with Nana and crew, while the cousins waited behind.
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It’s a good thing we like each other. By the end of the night, we were piled in a Prius. Of the 6 of us, 3 of us are 5’11 and taller!

We were dropped off at BB King’s to wait for the tour bus. We sat on the outdoor patio, did a little shopping – I’m all about magnets – drooled over the apparent Corvette convention, and quenched our thirst.

Btw, I love 3 year olds. I taught Minnie Mouse that corvettes are “the best cars ever.”
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Finally, we crossed the street to the Hard Rock and boarded the Backbeat Bus Tour. So many amazing sites, with musical accompaniment!
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We saw Johnny Cash’s old house, Elvis’s housing project, Sun, the hotel where MLK, Jr was assassinated and so many other places! The tour guide was amaze-balls, sharing all kinds of cool trivia you can’t just get anywhere….
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After the bus tour, we crammed back into cabs and cruised back to the hotel. On the trip, 2 couples actually had vans and we figured it was a better idea to drive ourselves to Graceland for our tour than to wait for more taxis.
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There was free parking on Lonely St – near Heartbreak Hotel!

We started out touring the mansion and grounds. All I can say is WOW.
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We were given iPads and headsets and allowed to tour at our own pace. We weren’t allowed upstairs, to the family’s private quarters, but that would have added massive time to the tour and I was already on sensory overload. While the decorating was not to my taste, it was really lavish for the era.
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And the grounds were breathtaking.

I think the best part of the tour for the monkeys was the airplanes. I enjoyed Elvis’s car collection myself!

I think every part of the tour had shops and food. Grizz and I split some Memphis BBQ nachos.
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When we got back to the hotel, we took a little rest time before dinner, then cabbed to Overton Square to find dinner. Several places didn’t allow under 21 folks, so our options were on the limited side with 4 little monkeys. Did we end up eating world famous barbecue? Nope. We settled on a yummy German place. The tables were picnic style and we didn’t all get to sit together but we still got to visit while we ate. There was also musical entertainment from an impromptu barbershop quartet!

Nana and crew gave the marrieds a free pass so we decided to head back to Beale for some night life and grown up beverages. We tried to ride the Roo, a bus with a kangaroo on the roof, but her route didn’t go to Beale. We finally found a cab when I jumped in the street to flag one – and it was a van so we had a little more room!

We checked out several places on Beale, preferring the ones with no cover charge. It started raining so we popped into a gift shop for $3 rain ponchos. From a smoky pool hall to Coyote Ugly, we explored. We finally settled into some patio chairs on the sidewalk in front of a bar, Club Handy, with a to-go window and people watched.
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Eventually we located a Prius cab driven by the Serbian cabby and squished back in. Teacher Cousin knew his life story by the time we pulled into a convenience store for Grizzly and Music Man to pick up beer!

The fellas wanted to sit by the pool and visit and while I was exhausted I fixed coffee and prepared to join them. While doing so, I overheard the concerned security guard telling the night clerk about the “redneck that just went to the pool with a 12pack of beer.”. Oy! What memories! When I got to the pool area, I did feel apprehensive, spotting my ” redneck” excessively close to the pool! (Turned out he was taking photos of a duck in the pool!)

Sunday morning marked the end of our part of the trip. We ate breakfast and drove over to the famous Peabody to watch the ducks march.
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We walked back to Beale to grab lunch. The rest of the family was going on to the Civil Rights Museum, and we’d be heading home. BBQ King chose Dyer’s, a burger joint famed for its 100 year old grease (google it! Craziness!) and we’ve seen it on Man vs. Food.
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Now, the burger that Monkey 2 and I split was amazing but not for those watching their girlish figures. I restrained myself and partook in just a sip of her hand-dipped milkshake. Grizz destroyed a Diablo, which was a variety of meat and grease – and a slightly extended rest stop in Little Rock!

It was not fast food and the waitress was so rude. Just sayin’.

Grizz and I stepped outside in the sprinkles and did some more people watching.
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And found a nice alleyway that meets Music Man’s standards.

After lunch, we stopped to see the Irish jumping goats at Memphis’s answer to Pat O’s. Due to inclement weather, they were chilling in their hut, but we can say we saw them!
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It was such a whirlwind trip and I’m sure there is more to do, but we had a great time. Very family friendly overall and one heck of a bonding experience!

Do you ever do quickie weekend trips?

~ Katie

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{April 12, 2015}   Spring Broken

So Caddo Schools and Bossier Schools decided to mess with my schedule this year.  The monkeys were on spring break the last of March while I was out the first week of April.

Not that the monkeys minded.  They spent Monday through Thursday, while I worked, hanging out with PawPaw and MawMaw.  Thursday they slept over with Nana after church and did a walk for church Good Friday.  The weekend was hectic with Easter and all. Then Monday, monkey 1 went back to the grandparents for the day – probably due to my housecleaning plans.

Since the monkeys are not really self-starters, I was up early every day of my “break.”

Tuesday, Granny@thefarm took me for a birthday breakfast and a very indulgent shopping trip.  It was nice to be spoiled!  Then Best Teacher Friend harassed me into going walking.  It was a great day.

Most of the break, I just did stuff around the house.  I had lunch one day with Monkey 2, washed lots of laundry, weeded the flower bed.

I did nothing school related.

Nothing.

And I felt no guilt.

I still have some projects to work on.  I need to Frankenstein my pantry.  I have plans for my back deck.  But I did enough for the week.  I relaxed, recharged, and did what I wanted.

Lots of my friends went out of town, but really, I prefer my “break.”. Peaceful.  I’m kind of sad to go back to school tomorrow!

Do you do anything special for spring break?

~ Katie

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It’s an ongoing argument in my house: how to eat meat.  I can’t stand any pink while the Griz has the Woody Harrelson approach – wipe its hiney, etc.  In a restaurant or with store bought meat, it’s easily resolved.  However, most of the meat that comes in my house is game.

After a few years of hunting, Griz has come to my way of thinking, more bang for my buck at the processor with ground venison.  But we always end up with “cuts” as well – back strap, round steak, cutlets, etc.  To cook these cuts to make mama happy dries out this lean meat, leaving it more like jerky than the juicy steak my husband seeks.  But again, the first glimpse of pink and I’m done, son.

He refuses to budge on back strap, his favorite part of the deer.  It will always be “grilled” (um, barely seared!) medium rare.  And I’ll eat pb&j that night.

Cutlets we have found to be fabulous in a stew.  Otherwise, we really haven’t figured out a great option.

The round steaks, I googled and was frustrated with the results.  Even in a slow cooker, people report over drying.  The temp on most modern crock pots, even on the lowest setting, is too high.

Grrr.  Y’all know I love my crockpot.  Time to experiment.  This is how I did it:

A few packages of round steaks – not sure an exact amount, I just eyeball it.

Several splashes of Worcestershire

1 can cola

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 can beef consommé

A healthy sprinkle of Chicago steak seasoning

Add water till the pile of meat is covered

I set my crockpot on low for 8 hours and hoped for the best.

Results:  smelled like pot roast.  Tender, juicy, falling apart.  Monkey #1 and I barely had any because Grizzly and Monkey #2 devoured it. 

I’m trying it out again today.  Monkeys have karate and church, Grizzly has an 8-ball tournament, so dinner will probably be on the run.  This way, it’s ready when folks get hungry.  All I have to do now is fix some rice and brown gravy, cook up some broccoli, and call it a meal!

What cooking experiments have you tried lately? Any successes that should’ve been fails?

~ Katie

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{April 9, 2015}   On to New Adventures!

When I went to my family doc on March 29, I was very disappointed in myself.  More specifically, my weight.

Weight has been a struggle my entire life.  I remember being a size 22 at one point in high school.  I lost a lot of that weight in college and seemed to settle in comfortably around a 14/16, with a few fluctuations (a month of slim fast for Yo-Yo’s wedding when my dress was a size 8?? Two pregnancies. And so on.)

So when I realized how much I’d gained over the course of the past year, I decided it was time to do something about it.  And if I’m unhappy, I’m the only one who can fix it.

Problem #1: I really enjoy food. Especially Rolos. Milk chocolate is food, right?
Fix #1: watch my portions more closely.   

Problem #2: I really love my colas. Caffeine in general, but a good coca-cola in specific.
Fix #2: drink more coffee for the caffeine fix. Switch to water. Something!

Problem #3: the queen here does not run, do push ups, etc. Her Highness, in fact, doesn’t like to sweat.
Fix #3: plastic surgery?

One of my teacher friends told me about a program our insurance is offering for those with high risk of Type 2 diabetes. Boy, should I qualify! Health issues in my family along with my unhealthy 12 year-old habits? Put me in, Coach!

The Prevent program is the brainchild of Omada Health. The Core program is a 16 week program, with a health coach, support group, and weekly lessons. They provide some kind of equipment, as well. I like the idea of the accountability!

** Update 7/27/15 **

It’s been a busy summer! I’ve been accepted into the Prevent program and am currently in the final quarter of the Core. I’ve weighed in daily (sometimes several times!), am logging everything that goes in my mouth (much to Car Guy’s unending amusement), and am walking 3-5 miles each day. I’m drinking at least 95 ounces of water each day. I’ve also started some of the challenges from blogilates.com and set up my Skinny Binder, with everything from tracking sheets to recipes to motivation – you name it!

4 months ago my weight had me in tears. Today, I’m 27 pounds lighter, and have lost 4 inches in each of my target areas. My BMI is in the healthy range!

Did I go on a diet? No. I eat the same crockpot, comfort foods i love, with the occasional new recipe thrown in. But I keep up with proper portions and track calories in the MyFitnessPal app. I rarely drink a soda now and Rolos? Forget about it. But if I eat a cookie, it’s not the end of the world.

I didn’t expect much when I started this back in April. I’ve been pleasantly surprised! And now that I’ve started, I’m not ready to stop.

~Katie

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{April 4, 2015}   Aging Less Than Gracefully

I know people who dread birthdays.  They lie about their age, color their hair, shop in teeny bopper stores to feel younger. They know the newest music, fashion, dance moves. They want to be 20 forever.

20 was a great year for me, but that’s not me.

Monkey #2 tells people I’m 23 and I don’t correct her.  My students ask my age and I tell them not to be rude.  But apart from that?  It’s not a big deal.

I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I turned 39 – the big four-oh is looming.  I find new gray hairs daily.  I get reminders for mammograms and catalogs from companies for the “mature” woman.  My doc says I probably should get more exercise. I probably should be flipping out.

I’m not. Pioneer Woman tells me things get better at 40 and I believe her.  Is there a little more hell to pay for too many adult beverages?  Do I have to work a little harder to not have that Snickers bar take up residence on my thighs?  Yes indeedy do, neighbor.  Is it worth it? Yes.

I’m relatively healthy.  Monkey #2 thinks my gray is beautiful and calls it tinsel – like a Christmas tree? I still wake up every morning, full of plans and ideas and life to live.

And that’s why I’m OK with growing older. And I don’t worry about being graceful.  Every day is a day to celebrate another day on this earth.  I’d rather age than deal with the alternative.

How do you feel about growing older?

~ Katie

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{March 25, 2015}   Organizing: Schedules

The older I get, the crazier my schedule seems to be.  The monkeys have more going on at school, church, karate, grandparents.  My husband has work obligations and pool league.  I’ve taken on the school yearbook this year, as well as regular 8th grade activities and school obligations.  Hubby and I, now that the monkeys are more self-sufficient, have a lot more social doings as well.

How in the crap do we keep it all straight?

I have a calendar with my Google account on my phone.  It makes the grands nuts, but EVERYTHING goes in that calendar.

I have my paper planner.  I love love love it.  My mother-in-law ordered it for Christmas from a blogger I adore.  I had it printed and spiral bound at Office Depot and it’s probably my favorite Christmas gift this year.

I also keep a calendar in the kitchen, where everyone in the house has easy reference.  The monkeys have learned that if it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t happening.  Everyone has their own color on the calendar, just my CDO in overdrive, but I love it.

I’ve noticed the monkeys write things now, too.  “Military Ball.”. ” Sleepover with Karate BFF.” They know. They don’t color code, but that’s coming.

Do I still get overwhelmed, over worked, and over extended? Of course.  I’m a mom and I forget to ask for help.  But this system is working for me.

How do you organize schedules?

~ Katie

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{March 17, 2015}   Why I Don’t Hate….

I’m not what one would call a people person.  It takes me a minute to decide if I like a person or not. When I like someone, they have a ride-or-die friend for life, unless they do me wrong.  When I don’t like someone, it’s not any strong feeling.  They’re just not my cuppa Joe.

I’ve been accused of being bitter and holding grudges.  No lie, I can own that. Those feelings I tend to reserve for the most odious offenders, though. And I’ve moved past a lot of that.  I recognize that it’s really not healthy. Hatred gives me a headache, gray hair, and wrinkles.  Hatred causes one to lose sleep and focus.

I do not claim to be perfect.  I’m definitely a work in progress.  I’ll even own the occasional social media spying.  But I only do that to gauge levels of other individuals’ cray-cray.  And when I’m bored.  Better to be prepared, a wise woman told me.  That’ll go away soon, as well.

In general, I don’t feel strongly about non-friends or non-family.  I have enough going on that if someone is not a positive in my life, I view them as a waste of time, and a bother. Hate takes way too much time and energy to waste on the insignificant. Is this cold?  Maybe.  But it works for me.

The past year has been rough, and I don’t want to have negative energy around me and mine anymore.  People I’ve been social with in the past wouldn’t make the cut list today.  I don’t hate them.  There’s just no room in my life for them anymore. And that should be OK.

How do you keep the Debbie Downers away?

~ k



et cetera
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