Out of curiosity – blckmeta
 

Category: Out of curiosity

Out of curiosity: 

Does one truly have to go through a dark night of the soul in order to grow?

Is change really that painful? 

So often in life, we have to work up the courage to be our own champion. Never have I felt that more than now. I guess you could say I’ve lead a pretty easy, sheltered life. Some may even say spoiled. I grew up in a tight-knit, loving family. I did well in school, got the high marks, finished Uni, and got a decent job.

I basically “gave it all away” when I packed up and moved to Ireland, leaving everything I knew behind, including a teaching job which I felt gave my life meaning. Within me, I knew that moving away and furthering my education was the right thing to do at that time. Yet, a year later, a feeling of regret lingers in my chest along with the proverbial “Did I do the right thing?” question floating around in my mind..

Regret is not an empowering feeling to say the least. I blame myself for being silly enough to throw the comforts of a stable job away, to move to a country where I feel like an outsider. And yes, at times I do feel lonely and homesick, especially when the sun doesn’t appear for days on end and I long for a few moments of Houston’s heat and humidity.

Last night, after spending an entire day indoors because of Hurricane Ophelia, my boyfriend and I were preparing for bed. He looked over and asked:

Is everything okay?

Me: Yeah, why?

Him: You honestly just seem a little down recently.

Me: I guess it’s just who I am. 

We ended up staying up the entire night talking (and me crying like a sap into a cup of tea). Understandably, he was concerned by my low mood and, in typical boyfriend form, tried to come up with ways to solve it. Perhaps I was feeling sad because I was stir crazy from staying in the house for so long because of bad weather. Maybe the lack of a “normal” 9 to 5 has me feeling unimportant. Or maybe, the metaphorical elephant in the room was my loss of direction in my life and feeling as though I have nothing to show for myself. Quite a heavy discussion topic for a Monday night, but my rock of a boyfriend gave me the chance to explain myself completely.

The truth is: The self-respect I’m so desperately searching for will not appear from outside sources. I cannot make other people, especially my boyfriend, responsible for my happiness. Additionally, I cannot let my memories of the past occupy too much headspace. As the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Having spent so long comparing my life in Ireland now to what I had, did, etc. in Texas stole any chance I had on being content.

*Que the messy, ugly, emotional breakdown*

I’m shedding my perception of what makes me who I am. Without the labels (i.e. student, teacher, etc.) used to describe myself, I am left to define myself in new terms which is both liberating and terrifying. I’ve always had opportunities presented to me. I always knew my place, the role I had to play, the tasks I had to accomplish. Now I’m left with a blank page in front of me. Where do I go next? What should I do??

Each day is a chance to move forward. Though I may not have the clearest picture of where I hope to end up, fulfilling goals each day and being open to challenge myself are ways to fulfill my need for self-approval and dignity.

So, to answer the questions presented earlier:

Does one truly have to go through a dark night of the soul in order to grow? 

YES!

Is change really that painful? 

YES!

In closing, I am glad I shared my sadness and worries with my partner, and now I guess, the Internet community. Each day may be different, my mood may shift, yet I have to always remember that I have to experience the pain of uncertainty in order to grow and reach my full potential.

 

 

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of getting by with less. Noticing the increased popularity in “tiny home” living through trendy television shows such as HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Buildersindicates a growing demand for a more minimalistic approach to living. Recent films, such as the trending Netflix documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Thingsdiscuss the financial and personal gains one can expect to receive once adopting an excess-free lifestyle.

After the devastating housing crisis and financial crash of 2008, many Americans began accepting the realization that living beyond one’s means is not a viable pursuit. Keeping up with hefty mortgage payments each month while maintaining the upkeep costs of a larger home puts constraints on one’s pocketbook. Dealing with excessive monthly expenses just to cover the bare minimum of home ownership cannot be sustained in such a turbulent and uncertain economy and job market. The days of spending an entire career with a single firm or company are over. Even more concerning, wages have not increased to keep up with the cost of living. A recent study conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that only 0.1% of US minimum wage workers can afford a 1-bedroom apartment.

As much as I would like to remain positive and hopeful, seeing the reality through rose-colored glasses cannot blind from the truth. Numbers matter:

Okay, the average income in the US is slightly less than $52,000. The average house price is near $260,000. Generally, I’ve heard that one’s house mortgage should be 2 to 2.5 times the amount of one’s yearly income. In this case, the average American income should afford a mortgage of $130,000. This is half of the amount of the average house price. The numbers don’t add up.

Could tiny homes be the solution?

Minimizing= More Money?

While one may choose to build a luxury tiny home complete with top-of-the-line appliances and amenities, the average price for a tiny home is around $23,000 (91% less than the average American house price). This Spruce article showcases five tiny homes that were all built for a minimal price: between $500 and $12,000!

Besides the financial appeal of tiny home pricing, living in smaller accommodations encourages (or enforces because of space constraints) one to adopt a minimalist approach to life. Living in a 300 sq. ft. or less house means owning less stuff. You will have to downsize your wardrobe as an overly packed closet will not psychically fit in the confines of the home. You will adapt to less space by ridding yourself of knickknacks, collections of forgotten DVD’s and CD’s, and other space-taking, unimportant  possessions (i.e. the dreaded “C” word, CLUTTER). You will learn to do more with less. You will begin to easily decipher between the things you need to survive and the things which temporarily filled a want.

Small square footage also cuts back on utility costs. This detailed list outlined by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company (how cute is that company name?!) highlights the main ways tiny house living can save you hundreds of dollars each month! Furthermore, by saving less on housing costs you will have more money to save or invest in preparation for retirement. This is an appealing aspect of minimalistic living as the majority of Americans aren’t even saving for retirement.

Downsizing creates options

One of the main allures of tiny homes is that they can be attached to a wheel chassis meaning you are free to travel everywhere with your home! Just as a tortoise travels with his home on his back, you are free to move about and pick your ideal housing location. If you have the luxury to work remotely, you have the options of where you would like to place your tiny home.

You may choose to live in the places you’ve only dreamt about; an expansive mountain range region, a sunny beach locale, a sweeping prairie are all available options once you’ve transitioned into a tiny house lifestyle.

Community appeal

The stereotypical tiny house dweller brings to mind a long-haired, scraggly-bearded recluse. However, as this lifestyle has gained in popularity over the years, the community has grown tremendously. There are many charming, well-maintained tiny house communities all throughout the U.S. Likeminded minimalists and tiny home dwellers also share their thoughts, ideas, and experiences through online forums on Facebook and Reddit.

What’s the future of the “tiny home” movement?

As this lifestyle is still viewed as “on the fringe”, getting these minimalist ideas to the mainstream may take more time and convincing. The American mindset is still clouded by notions of grandeur and comparison. The motif of “keeping up with the Joneses” is still very much embedded deeply into the American psyche. Despite dire financial struggles many families are facing these days, the pressure to purchase the latest and greatest items and showcase an appearance of wealth and privilege are still coveted American ideals. Banks continue to lend out large sums of money, encouraging those on fixed incomes to buy, buy, buy and pay off later. The pattern of inflation and frivolous money loaning which created the last economic downturn almost a decade ago has reemerged. A pattern of bubbles looms over the U.S. Student loan debts. Housing mortgage debts. Credit card debit (which is the highest it’s ever been in history, $1,000,000,000,000.00). What happens when the bubbles burst this time?

On a positive note, I am encouraged by the steady growth in the tiny house market. Perhaps another federal/global financial disaster will encourage more people to assess their earnings to spending ratio and adopt a simpler, more cost effective way of living.

 

Possibly the only uplifting thing (besides this blog teehee) on the Internet these days are memes or videos featuring dogs and cats. These adorable animals melt our hearts with their fluffy faces, their silly antics, and their ability to quickly become our best friends!

However, often people adopt or buy pets and become either overwhelmed or are too lazy to properly care for them. Throughout my lifetime I have witnessed and experienced neighbors adopting a dog or cat and eventually treating their animal with complete disinterest which leads to neglect.

As a child growing up in Florida, I remember our next-door neighbor leaving their poor dog tied to a tree in their backyard. Alone for hours on end, with the only interaction being a daily delivery of food in his dish, the little dog would whimper in misery. My mother, being the strong willed woman that she is, swiftly took action and wrote her dissidence in a note which she posted on his front door. When that neighbor failed to take action and care for his pet, my mother took the next step and contacted a local animal welfare group. I’ll never forget the feeling of justice we as a family felt when the dog was seized by animal protective services. Though technically leaving a pet outside tied to a tree to live out its life isn’t considered animal cruelty, the fact that the dog was severely underweight was cause enough to have it removed from our neighbor’s property.

As the years went by, I have encountered more experiences of people failing to properly care for their pets. Owners are leaving dogs in cramped cages while they are away at work for 10+ hours each day. Cats being left outside to fend for themselves and brave the elements. How can people be so careless, irresponsible, and heartless?

I am writing this post because I am genuinely appalled by how common animal neglect is. Recently, my next-door neighbors got a cute terrier mix puppy. While one would be happy for a new addition to the family, my neighbors only interact with their new pet by screaming at it to “SHUT UP!” This is because the poor little dog is locked outside in the backyard in a makeshift crate. He whimpers hours on end for some attention and has even started banging his food dishes around to create a ruckus.

What can be done to combat this heartbreaking issue? Animals are not soulless beings. They are sensitive creatures capable of providing love and affection beyond measure.

 

Out of curiosity, why do some people treat their pets with such a lack of compassion? 

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