A Whole New World

You know the scene: Aladdin and Jasmine flying through the night sky batting their big bright starry eyes at each other singing about finding a whole new world.  Every time I watch that scene it brings tears to my eyes.  I’ve been fortunate enough to find a whole new world, at this time in my life; unfortunately, my new world doesn’t involve a prince, a flying carpet, or a magic genie (I wish, right?!), but it is oh so much better than it was a couple of years ago.  You see, two years ago I found myself standing along a stream in the mountains, staring up through the trees, balling my eyes out.  At that moment, in that place, I dropped all acts, all pretense, and had a real heart to heart with myself.

I had reached a point in life where I had done everything I thought I was supposed to.  You see, I thought I had everything I wanted.  Career, husband, house, two kids, dog, cat, and the oh so popular mini-van.  What did I have to complain about?  I tried to tell myself over and over again to be grateful and appreciate what I had.  Slowly, oh so slowly though I began to realize I didn’t have what I wanted, I had what my adult self had fallen into.  What she felt was expected of her.  Since I was a kid, I felt like I had to be a working career Mom. Que the Enjoli perfume commercial in my head:

“I can put the wash on the line, feed the kids, get dressed, pass out the kisses and get to work by 9.  ‘Cause I’m a Woman, Enjoli!  I can bring home the Bacon!  Enjoli.  Fry it up in a Pan! Enjoli.  And Never, Never, Never let you forget You’re a Man!  Cause I’m a Woman! Enjoli!”

Unbeknownst to me I had become this commercial.  Trying so hard to please everyone around me, but losing myself along the way.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are a lot of successful working Mom’s out there, and believe me I tried my best to keep the pace, but ultimately, I reached a point where I didn’t even recognize myself anymore.  My life had become unrelenting work deadlines, gridlock traffic, an endless barrage of managing the kid’s school activities, and extracurricular activities, plus trying to keep bills paid on time, doctor’s appointments made and kept, the house from disappearing beneath piles of junk mail and laundry, and squeezing in some “quality” family time in the mix.  After twenty years, I was simply exhausted.  I found myself starting to lash out at people around me.  My husband, boss, kids, and quite frankly anyone who needed anything from me.  One more request from anyone needing me to do something for them could send me spiraling out of control.

I tried my best to get my feelings under control.  I saw a therapist, who advised I should take time for myself to do hobbies and things I enjoyed.  This of course, sent me into a frenzy.  How could I possibly squeeze me time in?  She didn’t know what she was talking about.  She didn’t understand.  Or did she?  I ran across a quote on Pinterest a few months ago:

 “Ignoring your passion is a slow suicide.”

I realize now, this is exactly what was happening to me.  I was muddeling through my everyday life, but I wasn’t taking time to enjoy things I was passionate about.  My younger self had always been artistic.  I had spent many a rainy afternoon as a child with my drawing pad.  I had also loved to write.  I was shy and afraid to put my inner thoughts and feelings out for the world to see, but I still loved to create characters, plots, and scenes in my head.  Many a night as an adult, I would lay awake with story lines playing out in my head.  Then 5:30 would come and that dreaded alarm clock would bring me back to reality.  But the truth is, if you are given a passion for something, and you ignore it, it will claw, and kick, and scream until you have no choice but to pay attention, or it will slowly eat away at your soul.

This brings me to the heart to heart with myself by the mountain stream.  I promised myself then and there I would find the time to pursue the things I loved.  Those things were: Myself, my family, and my passions.  When I got back from my trip I talked to my husband about making changes, and laid out a game plan.  Two years later things seem to have just fallen into place.  I think in that moment, my heart knew exactly what I needed, and once I finally acknowledged that inner voice, the universe went to work on my behalf.  An opportunity arose for us to move back home closer to family and friends and we took it.  We now live in a small town in the country, and my commute is from my bedroom to my office.  We eliminated all unnecessary expenses, and we live very frugally now, but I am happier than I have been in quite sometime.

I left the crazy rat race I had stumbled into, and now spend my days with the kids, trying my best to nurture their inner talents and passions. I also decided to go back to school to learn Web Design (exploring the artistic side) and I have begun writing.  Finally, taking time to get the stories bouncing around in my head out.  I might be the only one to every see them on paper, but at least they will be out of my head.  Once I started writing again, the words just flowed.  I just finished Chapter 14 of a book I am working on, before I got on here tonight.  I also started this blog as another venue to hone my writing skills.  I hadn’t written in over twenty years, mind you.  Quite simply, it is a whole new world for me, and I am loving every second of it.

Amy

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Myrtle Beach (Our fun, frugal, fabulous vacay)

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I don’t know about you, but I love to vacation during the off seasons.  You don’t have to sit in lines of traffic, wait for an hour to get a table at a restaurant, or fight crowds at local attractions.  Luckily, both of my kids are homeschooled now, which gives us flexibility in our schedules.  I personally would rather do school a couple weeks into June and take a couple of weeks to travel over the Fall months.

I’ve found that Myrtle Beach in the off-season, is a fabulously frugal, family destination, and now that we are a one income family, this savings is even more crucial than ever.  We traveled at the beginning of November, and we were able to stay in an oceanfront efficiency unit for $60 / night.  The same room over the Summer months would be at least 3 times that amount.  The hotel had a heated indoor pool, and daily continental breakfast (which we did not use, since our room had a fridge, stove and microwave).  One draw back was that the oceanfront pool and lazy river were not open, nor were there daily activities for the kids, like during Summer months, but we didn’t really miss those things.  The ocean water is also too cool for wave jumping, but I’m not one for swimming in the ocean, I like to relax on my balcony and drink in the view, so the cooler water temperatures didn’t bother us either.  It was still warm enough to enjoy the balcony and the view, and the kids enjoyed the indoor pool and game room.

While we were there the local convention center was having a gathering for horse enthusiasts and since the beaches weren’t crowded, they were allowed to ride their horses on the beach.  I can’t begin to tell you how relaxing it was to chill on the balcony and watch the beautiful horses meander down the beach.

Horses on the Beach

We fixed breakfast in the room, and we were able to sit on the balcony, eat breakfast, and watch the sunrise.  It was so beautiful and peaceful.  It felt like it was rising just for us.  We had just gone through a pretty stressful time in our lives, and this trip was the beginning of a new journey for us.  This sunrise felt like a promise that everything was going to be ok.

Sunrise

I could have stayed on the balcony, looking at the incredible view the whole trip, but the kids not so much.  They were anxious to go explore all the cool things we saw driving in. The area has a lot of activities, even in the off-season.  We went to the pier and walked around the different beach shops, played skee ball in the arcade, and grabbed a slice of pizza at a local place.  We also visited Broadway at the Beach, where we had a late lunch/early dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and the best part, we were seated right away.  We have been there in the Summer months and the line is out the door.  Broadway at the Beach has a lot of shops and boutiques to explore.  My daughter had some chore money saved up, so she spent her time in the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where Princess Bubblegum came to life.

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Broadway at the Beach also has an area for kids with carnival rides from the old boardwalk.  During the off-season not all of the rides are open, but it is still a fun time.  My daughter also enjoyed feeding the fish in the ponds.

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The main difference going to a beach town in the off-season, instead of Summer, is typically in the Summer months most people stay by the pool or beach during the day, then head out to dinner and attractions in the evening.  During the off-season, it’s the opposite.  It is cooler at night, so you want to play mini-golf, ride go-karts, etc. during the afternoon, then spend the evening in the heated pool at the hotel.  It is still a lot of fun, and I actually found our trip to be a lot more relaxing, than when we have gone during Summer months.

So if you are like us, on a tight budget, but still want to have a quality family get away.  Consider traveling during the off-seasons, and definitely give Myrtle Beach, SC a go see!

Happy travels,

Amy

Meet n Greet Time!!

Dream Big, Dream Often

Per our usual agreement, here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post and/or in the comments of these MnG links: Meet n Greet from 7/12  and     Meet n Greet from 7/31
  2. That means there are 3, three, opportunities to connect.  This new comment thread and the threads from 7/12 and 7/31.  If you have not left a link in all 3 please be sure to do so as this means more exposure for your page!!!
  3. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  4. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, community, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  5. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook…

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Crazy for Fall

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I’m so excited to be starting out in the blogging world at this time of the year.  I absolutely love Fall.  I would guess most people would say they love Summer and Christmas time the most, but personally I have always loved Fall.  My favorite t.v. shows are almost ready to start back up (How to Get Away with Murder) anyone?  Opening day for college football is right around the corner.  The morning air is cooler, but the afternoon skies are sunny and bright blue and hints of Fall foliage are beginning to show in the trees.

With the changes in weather, I’ve found myself daydreaming about Fall decorations, family and friends gathered around the t.v. for college football, cook-outs, and evening campfires.  Then reality hit.  We are a one income family now, how are we going to afford our usual Fall gatherings?

Solution, plan, plan, plan….. We usually have at least 3 – 4 cook outs and football parties during the Fall, plus this year I am planning a cook-out for my soon to be 18 year old son’s birthday.  Step 1:  I decided how many gatherings we were going to host;  Step 2:  I planned my menu for each gathering, using frugal recipes;  Step 3:  I’ve begun looking for coupons on items we will need and will match to sale prices as they come available, so I can cheaply stock-up.

I’ve never been big on couponing, because it seemed like it took so much time, but since I’ve been home, I’ve found some fabulous coupon clipping sites and a wonderful app that matches up local store adds and current coupons for you.  The app is Favado and the coupon clipping sites I use are http://www.couponbeat.com and http://www.weclipusave.com.  If there are items you typically use, you can order how many coupons you need for those items only.  I set myself a monthly budget for coupons and I usually spend about the cost of a Sunday paper each week.  With planning, budgeting, coupons, and store sales, I know we can still have a fun, frugal, fabulous Fall.

Be on the look out for some of my frugal Fall recipes and decorating ideas under the Recipe and Decor tabs.

Happy Fall y’all!