Monday, December 20, 2010

Slacker, Yes I am...

Sorry for the sporadic posting. I am a slacker.

Well, everything is fairly normal here. Thankfully, the business bank balance is starting to look healthy. I have to register to pay G.S.T. (Canadian Goods and Services Tax - if you gross more than $30,000 in a calendar year, you have to register for it and pay it) in February.

So that's a good news/bad news sort of thing. As I said, it's gross, so it doesn't take into account your numerous expenses, or how much saved money I put into the business in the first place. But I am earning a living wage. And since I took the Self-Employment Course, that wage was subsidized, up until now. Now I'm on my own.

Not having a safety net makes me nervous, and I'm going to miss the extra money. I haven't been much of a Frugalista lately, and after Christmas I will have to become one once again.

I am living at my parents as they are wintering down south. Is it normal for a 41 year old woman to squat at her parents' house? Probably not, but I've never liked being called normal. I am also looking forward to living on my own again, but it really doesn't make any sense to when there's an empty house.

Speaking of down south; this is how my journey had started in the first place. What a difference a(n almost) year makes! It was January of last year when I was visiting my parents in Palm Springs that I decided on this journey. A year later I'm living somewhere different and working full-time as a massage therapist. I met an agent that wants to see my book when it's finished (projected completion date - end of Jan, first 50 pages edited by end of Feb). I am booked to visit Belize in May. I am very excited about that. And I have lost about 60 lbs so far. I need to lose a lot more but it's a good start!

Oh, and I'm traveling down to Palm Springs to visit the 'rents on Wednesday - yay! Can't wait to leave the winter wonderland that we call Canada. Even if it is only for 2 weeks.

Anyways everybody, have a merry merry festive season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Other Excuses

Well, a few things have happened since my last post. Business is going well. So that's keeping me busy. I am very blessed to have a full-time massage clinic so soon after opening.
Another development is that I went to an industry workshop hosted by CaRWA (Calgary Romance Writers of America). And we got to pitch to an editor at a publishing house and an agent. The editor passed on my pitch, stating it was too complex of a story and that I needed an agent to represent me for it to get pubbed.

So I pitched to the agent and she said that when I was finished, I could send her a synopsis and the first 50 pages.  Yay!

It doesn't mean she'll like my writing. But she could. And pitching to an agent before a book is finished is a no-no. But because it was an industry workshop, we were given a little leeway.
And this moves me onto NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge, if you choose to accept it is to write 50,000 words in a month. I thought 'this is a great way to kick my arse in gear and finish the novel'. So, I am behind due to working a lot of 12 hour days (oh, and I had a long weekend in there in which I did nothing but drink and socialise; I was celebrating my 41st birthday).

But I am getting there.

Oh, and the weight loss is going well. I'm on a plateau but I am motivated to get past it. It may take me a few weeks though. I am stepping up the intensity of my exercise. I read an article stating that Interval Training was the best way to budge the bulge. So far, I've lost just under 60 lbs. I have a ways to go, but I will get there eventually. I am hoping to hit 100 lbs by the time I go down to Belize...

So that's all for now. Sorry for the lackluster posting.... I shall try to get better.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flight to Belize is Booked!!

Well, my Belly Belly Belize Account was over $700. I booked a flight through WestJet to Cancun for $609! Yay! Now I have to fill in the blanks, but I will be there from the 11th-25th of May! :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soo sorry for the delay

I just noticed that I haven't blogged for ages. Well, a lot has happened in the past 6 weeks. My business opened.
I thought I would have a lot of time for writing as I would just be starting up. The answer to that is 'nope!'.

The great news is that I've been VERY busy. I haven't had much time to do anything.

But the weird news is the lovely writing group I joined in Lethbridge is not so lovely. Well part of it isn't.

There was a main group and a sub-group. The fiction sub-group is full of many enthusiastic and wonderful people. But the main group is led by someone who thinks that independent thinking is not allowed. I found out she set up the group to be worshiped and I'm just not the worshiping type.

So the fiction sub-group has become it's own group and I and a few others have been banned from the other group. Yes, banned. I never thought I was a rabble-rouser, but apparently I am :)

It is strange to be ousted. But it's for the best. Our fiction sub-group is full of a lot of like-minded people, so we'll see what happens there.

As for Belize, I think I'm coming for a visit in May. I'm going to get my PADI certification over the winter and then go for a scuba/relaxing holiday in Glover's Atoll and in Hopkins. Can't wait.

As for the Belly Belly Belize Account, it is a whopping $759. At $15/pound, you can probably figure out how much weight I've lost in the past 4 months, but I'll tell you anyway. I have lost 50.6 pounds! I have a lot more to lose but now I'm back to the weight I was 2 years ago.

So life is very good! I'll keep you updated more regularly from now on.....

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Belly Belly, Bruised Ego and Business

Well, I finished my Self Employment course this week. Got a graduation certificate and all. For all of the eight weeks, as a group, we have intermingled and been tolerant of each other for the most part. A little griping here and there but not too much.

So it was a little shocking to my system on the very last day when IdealistGuy almost bit my head off.  We were in a group meeting about problem solving. He walked into the meeting with a black cloud over him. He was disinterested in the exercise at first, and then he got involved. I suggested something at one point, and he said something to the effect that it may not be valid. I may have not hidden all of the exasperation in my voice when I said 'Well, if you've got a better idea, please tell us.'

Like I said, I may not have hidden all the exasperation, but it was not enough to merit the abuse, abruptness and rudeness that followed. I got up to leave at one point and he, thankfully left instead. I was so upset that I cried in front of the other two members of the group immediately after IdealistGuy left. Then I regained some pride and went to the washroom to finish crying. I have a thing about losing control of my emotions in front of people.

The funny thing is that I was a supporter of IdealistGuy and his ideas. I was even going to offer to help him on his website that very day. He doesn't have much money left and he needs a website for his company as he wants to do sales through it. I'm glad that I didn't now. As petty as that seems, I am.

My good angel says that he's working for a good cause. My bad angel says 'screw him'. Figuratively, not literally, that is.

Sigh. It took me two days to become calm and myself again. And it put a damper on the whole course.

As for Belly Belly, I've lost over 30 pounds. That sounds like a lot but considering I would ideally like to lose over 100, it's a drop in the ocean. At least it's a start though.

Good news! My business opens on Tuesday. I'll be open Tuesdays-Saturdays. I have 1 trade (with my physical trainer), 2 x one hour massages and 2 x half hour massages for next week all ready. Yay! So excited. So scared! :)

Well that's all for now. More later....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Prolific I am NOT, Belly Belly Belize Account Bursting and MEN

Prolific I am NOT
Well, I tried to have some goals about writing, but unfortunately I am not abiding by my rules. Part of the problem is that I am busy setting up the business and going to the Self-Employment course. The other part of the problem is the glowy box in the corner.

I am busy, but when I get home to my parent's house I watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune with my parents. I only watch it here. I have NEVER watched it on my own. But it is fun watching it with Mom and Dad. And then you get sucked in. Staying on the couch is much more appealing after sitting there for awhile...

Belly Belly Belize Account Bursting
I have mentioned before that I have a lot of weight to lose. Well, the Belly Belly Belize account is now a respectable $411. I hope I can keep affording to pay myself. Otherwise, that's another debt I'm incurring.

As for the Frugalista account, well, it's almost all gone. Sigh. But the Frugalista 2.0 account is getting healthy. So far I have saved $717.26. Hopefully I won't have to dip into that at all. But when starting up a business, who knows?

My little crush on IdealistGuy is over with. Thankfully. He's nice but I don't think I could live up to his standards. He expects a lot of people. And that's great, but it also darkens the rose-coloured glasses into a burgundy. So no more crush.

As for HomeTownGuy, well I am a walking, driving and sometimes sitting contradiction. I think about him, but I don't want to think about him. Well, until I indulge myself and let myself think about him.

I saw him working (he's a labourer outside and works for MediumSizedTown) yesterday morning. My heart sped up in anticipation as I knew I had to drive by him. But I pretended not to see him. Sophmoric? Well, yes, but it was also a measure of self-protection.

You see, if I let myself watch him, one of two things would have happenned. 1) I would have waited for him to see me, and if he didn't I would have been disappointed. 2) Same scenario as number 1, but he would have seen me and waved. Then I would be hooped. Getting him out of my head after that would require a lobotomy.

I have an obsessive nature. Not in a bunny-boiler/Glen Close/Fatal Attraction sort of way, but dangerous to myself. I fixate. My brain cycles, it's sort of like a CD on repeat play. And it's strange.

Like I said, when I'm not in MediumSizedTown, I don't think of him at all. It's like his brain waves activate mine. I KNOW that doesn't actually happen, but there's something in my makeup that makes my thought patterns work this way.

The answer to all this? Well, I am against getting a lobotomy. So I just have to stop indulging myself.

The strange thing is, I don't even really don't like him anymore. Not in that way. He's just a habit. Well I kicked smoking about 5 years ago, so I can kick him (but not to the kerb, that's just cruel :)).

I think celibacy is rotting my brain.....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Clinic and Other Odds and Sods

As I've stated before, I am taking a self-employment course. I have also found a premises to operate from.

So, as time has passed, there is more and more work piling up on the self-employment course, and in addition to that I have more and more work to get the clinic up and running. So I am working virtually non-stop.

I say virtually because I had a month off - well closer to three weeks off before I started the course. Before I moved from Medicine Hat to MediumSizedTown, I was working three jobs and usually 60-80 hours of work per week.

So compared to now, I'm only working about 55-60 hours a week. So less than I was before. But I got spoiled during my time off. I am used to a slower lifestyle now.

In regards to writing I have not kept it up. I am hoping that once I open the clinic I will have more time; at least initially before I build up a clientelle. Then I can work on my novel.

I am going to my writing groups so I have some accountability and I also learn things from them.

As for the Belly Belly Belize account, I currently have $321.00. So at least that is a small amount that I have towards my trip to Belize next May or June. Since I am paying myself $15/lb, you can figure out how much I have lost so far! :)

As for my Frugalista account, well, it's dwindling. I have about $1500 left. And that will probably all go to opening costs of my clinic. So the Frugalista account has become the Shareholder account that I transfer funds into my business account.

But I have started a Frugalista 2.0 account, and have saved $382.26 so far.

On a side note, I am coping with my high libido and lack of outlet. I have gone off IdealistGuy. He's incredibly nice, but I could see him easily driving me crazy. He's so passionate about his cause. I find that very attractive. But I also find that he is blinkered. He also presents opinions as facts. Don't get me wrong, I really like him, but the lust has worn off.

As for HomeTownGuy, well he will always be a part of my past. Just like SSgt Blue Eyes. But I have found a technique that works when I find myself fixating on him. I think of it as an attack from an external source (even though it probably is internal). I use a visualisation technique that blocks me from thinking of him. It works. Every once and awhile, I indulge myself and let myself think about him, but not very often.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Little Crushes We Get

So, since I am not allowing myself to fixate on SSgt Blue Eyes, my mind wanders and gets a little crush on one of the guys in my self-employment class. He's intelligent, a social activist, and I think he has a girlfriend. I'll call him IdealistGuy.

Even if he didn't have a girlfriend he would be the wrong guy for me. Better than SSgt Blue Eyes, but still not a good fit.

Then there's HomeTownGuy. This is a man I've had a crush on since high school. Whom I don't think about until I'm in a 1 km radius of him. He never crosses my mind unless I'm visiting or living in MediumSizedTown. He's a hockey player, he was popular, and he tends to date women at least 10 years younger than he.

I'm convinced that we've always had a mutual attraction for each other. But maybe I'm wrong. I think that he has always been under the impression that I wanted to 'date' him. Which I haven't. We have nothing in common. I am physically attracted to him and all I wanted was to have a fling with him to get him out of my system. But I've never had the balls to tell him that.

The thing with HomeTownGuy is that he lacks character, and that has become more and more apparent to me as the years have past. I think he is the type of guy that can never go against the grain. And I can't respect that. So my attraction to him has diminished cerebrally, and as I'm a woman, that has made an impact on my lust for him. The lust is not totally gone, but mostly. There's some lust memory left. Years and years of attraction doesn't disappear overnight. Unfortunately.

So, at the moment, it's safe to fantasize about IdealistGuy.

What I do wonder about myself is why I need to focus on a man at all. I have agreed to be celibate for the next little while. Which hasn't been hard. I have not been with anyone in that way since October of 2008. So it shouldn't be that hard to continue. I may even forget what it's like.

Why do I focus on men? I don't know. I should be perfectly happy on my own. And most of the time, I am . Except when I'm not....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm in Debt to my Belly Belly

Went to Weight Watcher's tonight, lost some more weight. But I'm in debt to my belly at the moment. I owe it money. So far, I should have $267 saved in my Belly Belly Belize account. I put the $160 in. I just got a commuting cheque today for $90. So if I put that in I only owe it $17 and I'll be all paid up.

That's not too bad...

I also did an account today of how much money I have spent on my clinic so far. Not including rent, which I will track down the landlord tommorrow (he's elusive, you think that he'd want to get paid!), nor including the sign I'm having made; I am -$1,321.48 in the red so far.

Adding onto that the rent, damage deposit, and sign, and the grand total so far will soon be $2102.88. Sigh. At least I have all of my equipment!

And for starting up a business, that's not too bad. Just being a Frugalista is not possible right now. I miss my Frugalista bank account. Once the business is up and running, I'll have the two accounts to build up (Belly Belly Belize and the Frugalista account). I look forward to prosperity again! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Belly Belly Belize Account

Well, karmically life is interesting. I just stated that I needed $225 to pay for the weight I've lost so far.

I cancelled my tenant's insurance when I moved out of my place in Medicine Hat. I just got a refund cheque for $160! That only leaves $65 to scrounge up. Well that and the additional amount I will owe when I weigh in this week. But I'm on my way - the Belly Belly Belize account has its first deposit!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Carrot and Stick; Hopefully not all Carrot Sticks

I have been planning/fantasising about my first trip to Belize. Since I'm starting up my own business, it will have to be on a budget. And it's got to be a reward for something. So I had a lightbulb moment (it wasn't original enough to call it an epiphany, even though my first instinct was to do just that) - I'm losing weight. I guesstimate that my first goal should be arrived at by early March.

So, the best thing is to put a mandatory amount away for each and every pound lost. I've figured it out, and I retroactively owe this pot $225. So, I will have to scrape that bit of money together as well as paying off my next amount, when I weigh in on Wednesday.

When I reach my goal in March, I should owe the pot about $1290, which should pay for my travel but not my accommodation. If I am earning a good living by March, I can afford it then. But if not, I'll have to wait until I get to my next goal.

My additional plan is to earn as many Air Miles as possible. So far, I've earned 1,111. In low season, I need 4820 to fly to Cancun. So a long way to go, but I'm trying to maximize them. I've downloaded a toolbar that can earn yourself an extra 30 points per month.

I am planning on retiring in Hopkins. So I will be staying there for most of the time. But I am also planning on going scuba diving at Glover's Atoll, just because it looks like heaven on earth.

I am a skilled swimmer, but I have never gotten my scuba qualification. That is one of my tasks to achieve this winter.

Now I just have to come up with $225..... :)

Baby steps, that's the way to make big life changes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Weight, Writers and New Kindred Spirits

I joined the Lethbridge Writer's Group and I have met quite a few interesting people. There is a fiction sub-group which I attend approximately every two weeks, and the fiction writers are even more engaging. It's really nice to meet people that you feel like you're going to be friends with.

I really shouldn't be surprised. When I was living in Manchester, almost all of my closest friends I met through my writing group there, the Monday Night Group. The friends that I still am in contact with are almost all exclusively from that group.

So it's exciting to meet up with kindred spirits again, as Ann Shirley would say.

As for the bulging belly, it's still bulging, but it's three pounds lighter than it was last week :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Weight Watchers and the CaRWA; Frugalista on Pause

Well, it's been three weeks and I've lost about 12 lbs. It's a drop in the ocean as I have a lot to lose. But it's a start. And this time I'm much calmer about the road ahead. It is a life change this time, not a diet.

The only irritation is the Weight Watchers leader, who is one of those people that call you 'dear' in a quite condescending way. And her meetings are boring. I usually try to stay for the meetings. Her's are dull and she doesn't really work on highlighting the achievements of her group of people.

Oh well, there are worse things!

I have been going to the gym three times a week for the past three weeks and I am starting to improve my fitness. The lady who owns the gym is willing to trade massages for training sessions. So once I am up and running, I will get my arse kicked by a trainer. Yay!

On Thursday night I drove up to Calgary to go to the Calgary Romance Writer's of America meeting (CaRWA). Don't let the 'Romance' fool you. These are a bunch of serious ladies, and a couple of men, determined to be published or are published. It is a great group to join as there are a lot of networking opportunities. In October, you get to pitch to a real agent and talk to an editor.

Lastly, I am not posting Frugalista stuff for a bit now, as I am spending some money and getting EI. My account is fluctuating a lot and will be for the next few months. Hopefully, I will be able to start saving again soon!

Life in MediumSizedTown is good, so far. The massage clinic opens in the middle of July and I am happier than I have been for a long time.

I have given myself permission to give up on SSgt Blue Eyes. I know he is a player, but until I've got someone tangible in front of me, I know he'll be in the back of my mind. I have an obsessive nature that way. And since it is unlikely I will meet anyone in the near future, I will probably still think of him from time to time. Unfortunately.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sucked in by SSgt Blue Eyes Again, Belly, Massage Galore and a Wonderful Group of Writers

Things are really going swimmingly at the moment. I have found a premises for a reasonable rent. I am starting my self-employment course on Monday which runs for three days a week for eight weeks. But the greatest thing is that I can continue to collect unemployment for the remainder of my claim while I am setting up my business.

So I am moving all of my equipment in on the 2nd of July. And should be open for business soon after that!

Another bit of good news. I finally, after 8 weeks of waiting, will finally get my first unemployment cheque on Monday. Unfortunately there are so many deductions taken out of it that it only amounts to just over $400, but at least I can start replenishing my savings.

As for Belly Belly, I went to Weight Watchers this week and am down 4.4 pounds. It's going to be a long haul, but I've lost almost 8 pounds so far - that's a good start at least.

I also am going to the gym three days a week, and it feels good to to aerobic and weight training again!

I formerly stated that I joined a writer's group in Lethbridge. Last Tuesday I went to the Fiction Writer's Sub-Group and it was bloody fantastic. All writers are looking to be published and dedicated to writing. They will be so good for feedback and accountability!

As for SSgt Blue Eyes, I am such a numpty when it comes to him. I started talking to him online again. And after about a week of messages and online chats, he disappears offline. Again. Repeating history. So he's either playing mind games, is with someone else, or has a wife that I don't know about. I ALWAYS promise myself not to get sucked in again by him, and he always does.

So hopefully I will find myself a living, breathing distraction by the end of the summer, after I lose a bit more weight :) I don't think that I want a long term relationship again. Hmm, well if I do, it will have to be a flexible relationship. And someone who would not be adverse to moving down to Belize. That's a tall order! Possible, but very improbable.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book, Belly Belly and Miscellany

I have had an eventful week. I met up with an old friend, her partner and her kids in Okotoks. They had me and a couple of other friends over for a BBQ. And they let me crash there overnight so I could have a little tipple.. It was lovely having a social life again. I then drove to Calgary the next day to meet up with another high school friend for coffee.

I am going back to Calgary tomorrow and staying at the same old friend's house. There's an event that we're going to called Gallery Calorie, it should be a lot of fun!

I went to a writer's group in Lethbridge that meets once a month. I met a whole bunch of nice people and hopefully I will get a critiquing partner out of it. There is a fiction sub-group that meets once a month and that is this Tuesday coming up. Progress, progress!

As for the belly belly; I joined the gym this week and have been twice so far. I went to Weight Watchers in Lethbridge and had lost 3.5 lbs, it's a start. Just a drop in the ocean of what I have to lose, but I'm at the beginning of this journey!

I also found a premises to operate my business. I wil be moving in there at the end of the month!

So things are going well so far. I think I have made a positive change in my life by moving back to MediumSizedTown. And hopefully, it will be Belize in a few more years!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Belly Belly and MediumSizedTown

Well, last Thursday I went to Weight Watchers. It was in a small town north of MediumSizedTown. Unfortunately, it was the last meeting they were holding due to low enrollment numbers.
But the former group leader gave me the intro book and I (and my mother) have been counting points. The next meeting is in Lethbridge this Wednesday.
Also in Lethbridge, I have a Writer's Group Meeting tommorrow.
And tonight, I am looking at a premises in town. I think it would be ideal, but the price has got to be right too. I have seen one other place that is not quite right, but the price is very affordable.
Plus, last weekend I met up with old friends and had a great time. Drove up to Okotoks and had a barbeque. I stayed over and then went to Calgary the next day to have coffee with a friend.
So, my life is looking up. Now I just have to get writing more regularly and then finally get published and I will be well on track for Belize in 2015!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sorry it's Been So Long, This Will Be a Mixed Bag

Okay to start out with I have to say that I did have quite a Frugalista Count-down in the past month. Living expenses, moving, etc. I am still waiting on EI. So I now have a balance of $3,555.19. That's a loss of $1311.33. And I may have to lose some more later when opening up my business.

So a week ago, we loaded up the UHaul and moved everything back to MediumSizedTown. Then I went back to Medicine Hat for a week and worked at the bar until the end of the month. I camped out in my house until Monday.

But, I am now living at my parents, and things are going quite well so far. I told my mother about my plan to retire in Belize and she thought it was a good plan. So that's all out in the open now.

As for SSgt Blue Eyes, it turns out he wasn't here. I recently talked to him online and he just was returned to that regiment and there wasn't a job for him on the battlegroup. So he stayed in Germany.At least we've cleared that up now. And happy that I haven't seen him. Even happier he hasn't seen me at my enlarged state.

This may be delusional self-talk, but I think I finally have my relationship with him under control. It is never
going to be more than it is. I just have to keep realising that fact and it will all be fine.

About my belly belly; I've always been big girl, but I did ALOT of grief eating after my brother's death. Now that I'm back in MediumSizedTown, I'm joining Weight Watchers. There's a group in a town 20 mins north of here that meets on Thursdays. So here I come Weight Watchers. And there will go the belly!

As for starting my own business in MediumSizedTown, I've enrolled myself in a self-employment course that people who are unemployed can take. That starts in Lethbridge on the 21st of June. It's three days a week and you can continue to collect unemployment insurance for up to 26 weeks even though you are unemployed - you don't have to claim any income.

Anyway that's all for now - more later.....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Philosophy 0.101

I'm getting ready to move to MediumSizedTown. I am/was really looking forward to it. But the reality has also set in and I'm getting scared.
I am leaving another chunk of my life behind and starting all over again. Which is scary, but it also makes me question whether it is the right choice. I hope it is.
It will be nice to only work one job. For the past 7 years I have been doing more than one thing. Going to college whilst having a job, holding 2-3 jobs down at the same time, etc. I'm pooped.
They say that 40 is the new 20. I'm just looking forward to not feeling my age and having a normal schedule.
But, I am moving to a smaller centre. Admittedly, it is a short drive to two cities. So it's not as if I'll be bereft of all things urban.
But living in a town changes things. You do have to watch what you say. Because if you piss off the wrong person, there goes your reputation and your business. Oh well, I think (or hope) I can handle that. I grew up in a town, so at least I have experience.
Also, this is a way that I can find time to write, finally, so I can make the biggest move in a few years - Belize!
Change of subject. I was wondering why I have been so obsessed with SSgt Blue Eyes. Up until recently, I had him firmly put in the 'dead file' folder in my brain. But I think with everything changing, that maybe I wanted 'closure' (isn't that a catch all word that means nothing and everything?).
Or maybe I just wanted to remember what it felt like to have that lust, that blush of feelings that make you feel all adolescent.
But I think that I have moved on now, or at least am almost there.
I have three more weeks here. Let's hope I make the best of them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Frugalista Count Up 12!

Bar job payday. Bigger then usual, as I put in a few more hours then usual. Added $472.14. Making the total $4,866.52! Every bit helps :) At the moment there are going to be additonal expenses in my life. Moving, and going out for dinners and drinks saying goodbye to friends.
Tomorrow night I'm doing that. And I'm looking forward to it. But I'm going to do something not necessarily underhanded, but it sort of feels that way.
SSgt Blue Eyes. I know he's bad news for me but I do want to know if he's coming out this year, if he's deceived me in the ways that I'm sure he has, etc. etc.
One of the girls I'm having dinner with is dating a guy in the same regiment. They've been together for about 3-4 years. I'm going to ask her to find out for me if she doesn't mind.
I'm at work at the bar and have plenty of opportunity to ask other soldiers in his regiment about him. But then it gets around that I'm asking. This way is more discreet. And if I don't find out anything, then I probably wasn't meant to know anyhow.
Am I obsessed? Maybe a little.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Frugalista Count-up 11! And may be the Start of the Dwindle Down, too!

I got my tax return the other day, adding $2,048 to the bank account making the total $4.394.37!

But the contract to my job ended on Monday and I have a little more pay coming my way. After that, I'm moving back to MediumSizedTown and waiting for EI to kick in. I'll be living in MediumSizedTown before the end of May.

I'm planning on opening up a Massage Clinic in MediumSizedTown. There is a small business course you can take whilst on EI (Employment Insurance). I have an appointment to meet with the coordinator of the course in Lethbridge on Tuesday. Lethbridge is near MediumSizedTown. So I hope that they will let me on the course. It is three days a week for eight weeks and the next course starts at the end of June.

As for my bar job, that has slowed down because the battlegroup has gone on the field for three weeks so instead of there being 2000 soldiers on camp there are only 70. We usually have three bars open (Junior Ranks Club, Sergeant's Mess, and the Officer's Mess). Now we turn the JRC (Junior Ranks Club) into an all ranks bar for the next three weeks.

Update about SSgt Blue Eyes. I don't think he is here. He may be due to come later this year but I won't be here. Which is good news.

Good news, yes. But  alas, I am female and my logic gene is not always intact when it comes to men. The logic part of me didn't want to see him, but it doesn't stop me from being disappointed in not seeing him. Got to love that internal dialogue! My best analogy for it is that I'm on a diet and he is chocolate. I miss the chocolate but know it isn't good for me.

Anyway, so starting a new life at 40. This should give me more time for the Belly and the Book, though. Working three jobs trying to make ends meet makes it harder to eat healthily, exercise and find time for writing much.

This moving and starting a new life will make the next moving and starting a new life in a few years easier, this is like a trial run, except without the great culture and weather!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Weirdness of Phasing Yourself Out..

Well, the countdown to my unemployment for my day job has started. As of April 26th, I will no longer be an IT Accountant working for BATUS.
I'm excited and very scared. I'm moving away in a few more weeks, and back in with my parents. Not an easy task for me at 40 or my parents either.
Also, opening my massage business in MediumSizedTown is scary too. What if I fail? Then is it me? Lots of insecurities dancing in my head. Sigh, only time will tell.
So I have been writing handover instructions and trying to get everything done. I'm getting overtime which will help.
I will still have my bar job and my massage clients up until the time that I leave. I will have time to pack and get ready and clean up the house so I get my large damage deposit back.
I have found that some friends have all ready phased me out and left me behind. But maybe I've done that to them, too. It's hard to know what your subconscious has been doing.
Other friends have been making more effort to spend time with me and me with them. It's been nice to know I'll be missed.
So I feel semi-transparent to some people, and vivid to others. It's a strange feeling.
And this time, I'm only moving a small distance. So until I can make my big move I will be able to visit too!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

False Sense or Not, I'm Feeling More Secure...

Well, I haven't seen SSgt Blue Eyes yet. My initial plan was to avoid him at all costs. I haven't seen him, but I haven't been in a position to avoid him if if he is here.
Let me clarify. One of my jobs is working in the bars on the Crowfoot side of BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield). The Crowfoot side is where the battlegroup are housed. On this side of camp there are three bars. The JRC (Junior Ranks Club), the WO2 and Sgt's Mess, and the Officer's Mess.
So your rank determines which bar you go to. Usually.
At the beginning of battlegroups, when the full battlegroup is not yet in, sometimes they make the JRC an 'All Ranks' mess. And everyone drinks together.
I was planning on working in the Officer's Mess, but since there isn't one open yet, I have worked in the JRC.
But I haven't seen him yet, and am happy. Relieved. Ecstatic. Perhaps he's one of the few not deployed. Maybe he's avoiding me. Ah well, who knows? All I know is I haven't seen him and I'm not jumping every time a new person walks in the bar.
So false sense of security or not, I'm feeling more secure. Whew!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frugalista Count Up 10!

Well, it is slowing down a bit. The bar has been shut for the past couple of weeks, so I won't get a paycheque for about four weeks after today.

I added $146.21 to the fund, creating a total of $2,345.90!

Turn that Impatient Frown Upside Down, and then Upside Down Again

I have a 35-40 minute drive on the Number 1 Highway (also known as the TransCan) every morning to work. This morning I was stuck behind a large modular home that was travelling at a snail's pace. I started getting aggravated. But then, I imagined how I would feel if I were driving behind my new Mennonite home being transported.

I immediately calmed down and started enjoying the drive. Someday, it will be my home holding up traffic.

On the flip side, the first flight of the battlegroup came in last night. There will be another flight of them tommorrow, and then the next day, and so on until the full battlegroup is in. So SSgt Blue Eyes could be in a briefing at this very moment. Apparently they get some quite vivid images of the types of STD's they can catch if they associate with the 'looser' girls, aka Bin Bunnies. Yikes (that's yikes to SSgt Blue Eyes, I'm safe from the STD's :)).

Aside: Why Bin Bunnies? Well, for years there was one main bar for the soldiers to go to. It was in a hotel called the Assinoboia Inn. It then got the nickname Sin Bin. Women who are always sleeping with soldiers hung out at the Bin all the time and were called Bin Bunnies. The Sin Bin got shut down about 4 years ago (after being the bar of choice for over 20 years). So the name Bin Bunny sticks.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Frugalista May Have to Have a Dwindle Down :(

 I am very proud of how much money that I've saved in just over nine weeks. But I have mentioned that I am probably moving to MediumSizedTown after my job at the base is over. My job here is (hopefully) over in four weeks.

Edit: Nope, looked through previous blogs and it doesn't look like I've mentioned it. Well, I work at the base and I'm covering someone's maternity leave. I hate the job, but it's a living wage. No other jobs have come up as there is a federal hiring freeze. I have decided that I will open up a Massage Therapy Clinic in a less saturated environment. The environment is, as previously mentioned, MediumSizedTown.

I would probably move about three weeks later. I can't give notice on my place until I know for sure that the girl that is maternity leave is returning. Since she only has to give two weeks notice, I won't know for sure until after the first week in April.

So since I will not be able to get out of my house until the end of May, I will apply for EI (employment insurance) and make sure that I get all of my damage deposit. I will work at the bar on the base until mid-May.

As an aside, I probably won't be needed after the end of April. The first battlegroup will be going on the field for three weeks on May 1st. They leave a skeleton staff behind, and we will only need one of the three bars there open during this time. That's usually the way it goes, with only a few exceptions over the years.

So hopefully I can dodge SSgt Blue Eyes until the end of April.

But I veered off subject there. All I was going to mention before my libido memory kicked in again was that being unemployed and moving will probably at least halve my savings.

And setting up a new massage therapy clinic will do the same.

But I will build it up again. Faster.

I'll be living with my parents for the first year and they will only take minimal rent off me. I will have EI until I start making more than my EI. So I will be able to save money soon enough. Stronger. Faster. (Cue Bionic Woman or should that be Frugalista Bionic Woman).

Frugalista Count-up 9!

Adding yet another meagre amount to the kitty. $214.59 more makes it over the $2000 mark. The grand total is now $2199.36!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Frugalista Count Up 8!

This month, the biweekly pay schedule comes up trumps and we get a third paycheque. So after setting aside my food, gas, etc money (plus a little bit to splurge on - I may be a Frugalista but I'm not insane), I have managed to add $658 to the pot. Making the total $1,984.77 :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weighing Down on My Psyche (or is that Psycho?)

Well, I haven't really committed to the weight loss thing as much as I should have. I haven't lost any weight really. Well a negligible amount.

A new motivator is on the horizon. In the years that I have tended bar out at the base, I have met several men. Liked a few. Really liked very few. Falling for a British Soldier is as sensible as thinking that cotton candy is a great diet food. But there are some that stick with you. The ones that have taken up a part of your memory and have a rusty old hook in you. One such person may be coming back for the first battlegroup of the season. Battlegroups are regiments of the British Army that go on army exercises, including live firing on a piece of prairie the size of Wales.

But I digress. He may be coming back. His regiment is. I was in contact with him, albeit sporadically for the past 2 years. Up until about 6 months ago when I realised that he wasn't good for me. He was my cotton candy. He was cute and sweet with amazing blue eyes. But he hid behind amazing lies. I knew he was lying when he did it, but I still was drawn to him.

I met him first 6 years ago. And every two years, his regiment comes back. Sigh.

All I've ever done is kiss him. A two and half hour snogging sesh last time he was here.

He has that rusting hook in my psyche.

In four to six weeks he’ll be here (if he’s with the battlegroup this year, there’s a small chance he isn’t - I am so hoping he isn't-well most of me is hoping he isn't). So I better get my arse moving so I can at least look good.

Still staying celibate though. Just want to look tasty. Just in case I have a tiny little hook into his psyche. I doubt it, but there’s always a chance huh?

Frugalista Count Up 7!

Dribs and drabs, dribs and drabs! The grand total now is $1,326.77!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What is it With the Un-Fairer Sex?

If we're the fair sex, men are the un-fairer sex. Don't misunderstand, for the mostpart I love men; I even understand them up to a point. What I don't get is why-oh-why-oh-why does it never fail that once you stop looking, you become amazingly attractive??
Up until I decided to move to Belize, I was open to seeing men and dating them. Now I'm not. I've got a mission and priorities and men are not in that equation. I know I'd end up meeting one and losing sight of what I want. I've done that before. And that's not their fault, it's mine.
I haven't had a man sniffing after me for over a year. Now there's two. Sod's Law, isn't it? Or maybe it's just spring fever....Or my now curly hair....

Frugalista Count Up 6!

Every little bit counts, and I've added a little bit this week. The grand total is (drum roll please) - $1,157.17.

Friday, February 26, 2010

In Need of an Agony Aunt?

Well, the past few weeks have been a bit stressful.  I mentioned in my blog last week that I had the winter blues. I had been fighting melancholy for quite some time, probably since my brother's death 18 months ago. Couple that with a change of job, scaling down my business, etc, etc. (see my bio entries for more info).

The end of last week was bad, emotionally speaking. I have been mourning my brother more lately. Even more than in the first year (after the initial shock of his death).

Maybe this mourning is because my Mom seems to be getting a bit better. Her grief has been so deep, so perhaps I have tried to be strong for her.

Besides phone calls with my parents, I haven't had anyone really to share my grief with. I had the initial support of my friends, but after a month or two, I sounded like a broken record and they were changing the subject as quickly as possible.

This is all understandable. It is hard to hear and support people through the grieving process, especially if you don't know the deceased. And none of my friends knew my brother.

When I was in my early twenties, about a year after settling in the UK, I slipped into a depression and had to be medicated for about a year. I hated being medicated, but it was better than the alternative. Back then, I had trouble getting out of bed and had gained considerable weight.

Sixteen years later, I could see the signs of another oncoming depression. I fought it tooth and nail. I was taking 5-HTP for the past 6-8 months. It's a natural supplement that and it is supposed to be a precursor to serotonin.

I had an appointment with my doctor set for the 1st of March. I had decided that I could wait until then. I would discuss going back on anti-depressants with him then. I couldn't face getting to the point that I was at last time. It was like being in a deep deep dark hole with no way out.

On Monday, I got out of bed and almost got back in again. I was so down that I couldn't face going into work. My sighs were deep and full. I went in anyway, on autopilot. I decided an hour into work that I needed to go to the Walk-In Clinic and get some antidepressants. Stat.

I left work at noon and went to Walk-In. Thankfully, the doctor at the clinic was understanding. He gave me a prescription for Cipralex (generic name is Escitalopram). He said it was faster acting.

I'm not feeling better yet. Antidepressants usually take 2-3 weeks to normalise a person, and up to 8. Side effects have varied from insomnia to hot flashes to feeling like I've got an air balloon in my head. But I can get out of bed.

I'm hopeful. And still moving to Belize, dammit!

Frugalista Count Up 5!

Well, I have now hit over the thousand dollar mark. The grand total is $1,047.17. I wasn't as good with money in the past couple of weeks, as a few things have come up, but more about that later... Slowly but surely, it is building though!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My apologies, today is a bit of a hodgepodge.

Winter Blues
It is mid-winter here. Thankfully today is a bit Chinook-ey and we're headed to +1 Celsius. So that sun is peeking out. But I'm in the middle of the winter doldrums.
Maybe everyone in the northern climes suffers from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in one way or another.
Working all the time has tired me out a bit. I think I should probably take a day off soon since I haven't had a day off in...hmm how long has it been. I'll be right back after I check the calendar. Okay, it's been 24 days. And I'm working this weekend. So if I get a weekend day off next weekend, it will be 32 or 33 days since I've had a day off. Gulp. I think I need a weekend day off next weekend!
It's down to me that I've worked that much. But if I don't take a bit of time off, I'll lose dedication to my objective. Note to self - call boss at bar and ask for next Sat or Sun off.
(Addendum, I called a co-worker and pleaded with her to take my Sunday shift. She kindly took it. So I have this Sunday off! Yay!)
Belize Living
Living Off-Grid
I have been looking into living off-grid. I'm hoping that I will be attached to local electricity, sewer and water. But I want them to be auxiliary services. A 'break glass in case of emergency' sort of thing.
The initial outlay seems pricey, but from what I have researched it looks like the prices of the photovoltic panels are coming down. I only then need a septic and cistern system on top of that.
So the amount I have to save will be more. But conversely, my monthly bills will be even lower. Just food, phone, health insurance, vehicle insurance, and upkeep of vehicle, including petrol.
Where to Move?
I can't guarantee that this decision is final, but from all my research sight-unseen, I think I would like to settle in Hopkins. It's not yet totally touristy and I don't think there are tons of expats there. The Garifuna culture sounds really interesting. There are a few different cultures in Belize, all intermingled.
I know that it is much easier to find real estate once there, but I can't find much online. So I will just have to be patient and not start panicking about running out of time. Which I do.
Researching Belize
I mentioned previously that I had bought and downloaded Lan Sluder's Ebook about living in Belize. It is a good start, but it has a lot of generalisations and out of date information. The last update was 2007. It eases you in and gives good information.
In my opinion, the greatest source of information is peoples individual experiences. Look for personal blogs and websites. Remember to take what is said with a grain of salt. As everyone has a different viewpoint. Read enough of them it will give you a more complete picture. It's a bit time consuming, but reading the blog from the beginning is the best way to go.
For anyone else researching Belize and has a question to ask, I would highly recommend Belize Forums. Also the Ambergis Caye forum is supposed to be good.
So, that's the mixed bag for today.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day - I Commit to My Goals

Since deciding to move to Belize in 3-5 years I have had to sacrifice a few things. I don't really spend any money on entertainment, and I'm changing a few things personally. I have given myself a few guidelines for this year:
*I have to get some weight off. I have to get down 3 sizes this year.
*I have to get my first erotic novel done by the end of June this year.
*I have to save as much money as possible.
*I am putting an embargo on men for at least a year.

So this is my Valentine's Day present to myself. I don't want any relationships to get in the way of my goals. So no flirtations, relationships, or anything in-between for at least a year.
Realistically a relationship will way-lay me. So I don't think that I will get involved with anyone before Belize (so for 3-5 years). But for now I am committing to celibacy for a year. I have not had a serious relationship since moving back from the U.K.. So making this commitment do myself is just a way to uncomplicate my life. I feel a sense of freedom in doing this!
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's a Secret....Shhhh!

I have told a select amount of friends about my plans to move to Belize. Most of them are outwardly supportive but inwardly sceptical. Now you may be thinking 'Barmy Belle, you are being paranoid'. This is not out of the realm of possibility, but I don't think so. And I can see why they are. The being self-sufficient and earning a living from my writing is the hardest part for people to swallow.
I will do it. The proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is going to take 3-5 years to make!
The thing I most trepidatious about is telling my parents. Thankfully they won't have to know for at least another year. I have great parents. But unfortunately, they are worriers. They have always been worriers. But since my brother passed away, the intensity of their worrying has increased. My brother passed away about 18 months ago. So I'm going to give them a bit more time to process.
It's not as if I'm not guilty about worrying about them. They're getting older. But they are thankfully healthy. And I hope that continues to be the case.
So, as  pre-emptive strike against some of their objections I have decided to do a little research. I know that they will be worried about the crime. I don't know if anything I found out will salve their stress, but it may.
Okay, the first thing I discovered about Belize is that it does have a high crime rate. And a high murder rate.  But according to the Crooks Report 'Annually between 45% to 50% of all murders are committed in Belize City.'  
According to a statistical presentation there were 97 murders in Belize last year. If 50% of all murders are in Belize City, then the rest of Belize has a murder rate of 20.23/100,000. This is based on the assumption that Belize City has a population of 70,800 and the population of Belize is 310,520.
This fact is supported, to an extent, by a statistical presentation on the Belizean government website. Below is a portion of the statistics reproduced from that presentation (click on image to view full size):

The population section was added by me from internet searches. If the information in inaccurate, my apologies.
There are many, many places with higher murder rates. The ten worst cities to live in Europe and the USA:



PER 100,000

(1) Washington, D.C., USA 69.3
(2) Philadelphia, USA 27.4
(3) Dallas, USA 24.8
(4) Los Angeles, USA 22.8
(5) Chicago, USA 20.5
(6) Phoenix, USA 19.1
(7) Moscow, Russia 18.1
(8) Houston, USA 18.0
(9) New York City, USA 16.8
(10) Helsinki, Finland 12.5
(11) Lisbon, Portugal   9.7
(12) San Diego, USA   8.0
(13) Amsterdam, Netherlands   7.7
(14) Belfast, N.Ireland, UK   4.4
(15) Geneva, Switzerland   4.2
(16) Copenhagen, Denmark   4.0
(17) Berlin, Germany   3.8
(18) Paris, France   3.3
(19) Stockholm, Sweden   3.0
(20) Prague, Czechoslovakia   2.9

Which gives Belize about the same murder rate as number 5 on the list; Chicago, Illinois.
But I live in Alberta, Canada. And the murder rate in Canada is pretty low:



PER 100,000

(1) Regina 4.72
(2) Saskatoon 4.39
(3) Sudbury 4.00
(4) Edmonton 3.50
(5) Vancouver 3.45
(6) Montreal 3.40
(7) Winnipeg 3.05
(8) Calgary 2.60
(9) Toronto 1.80
(10) Hamilton 1.70
(11) Halifax 1.25
(12) St. John's 0.00

But then again, stats are easily skewed. I grew up in a small town, population 1200. When I was growing up, one of my school friends’ Dad went berserk and killed his family and killed a local preacher and his wife. Then he killed himself. A total of 6 people killed.
So the stat for my small town for that year would be a murder rate of 500 per 100,000 people. Is that a way to manipulate numbers? Well, yes, it is a very extreme example, but it just illustrates how stats are not always the true picture.
Also another point on crime statistics. Statistics are only as great as the people who report them. I mentioned before that I lived in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. And that I also lived in Kingston, Jamaica. I lived in the U.K. for 10 years and had my house broken into twice. My car was broken into several times. I never reported any of them to the police because we didn't have insurance (that covered theft) and there wasn't any hope of anything but a report being filled. The police had more important things to do. They didn't have the resources to investigate petty crime. They were overworked and under funded.
I don't know if Belizeans report crime every time, or not....
I don't know if this will help my parents, but it has clarified a lot of things for me. I wasn't too concerned about the crime rate before, but after doing an in depth study, it has opened my eyes. Not deterred, just a little more informed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where the Heck are my Manners?

Just under 10 days ago, I was reading Dave and Dianna Rider's Blog, Belize - Adventures in Paradise. I sent them a message asking how much it all cost. They built a wonderful house in Corozal, and had a few challenges along the way.
Dave replied within two days. He also posted it on his blog 'So What's It All Cost?'. I would really like to thank him.
I promised Dave a t-shirt. In an earlier blog he was in the hunt for a t-shirt from BATSUB (British Armed Forces Support Unit Belize). He never mentioned getting one. Since I work for BATUS (British Armed Training Unit Suffield), I thought I would offer him a t-shirt that I have from work.
With all my jobs and general slothy-ness when I have a moment to myself, I have been a bit remiss. I had to find the t-shirt, firstly. I have now tracked that down and will send it in the next couple of days. So sorry Dave and Dianna!!
I would highly recommend their blog. I like reading blogs that interest me from the beginning. I just wish there was a way to read it chronologically without scrolling up :)

Research into EroRom....

As a writer looking into a genre that I haven't written before, I looked online and found two books that I am using for research. The first book I found and downloaded was 'The Cheater's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance For Publication and Profit' by Morgan Hawke. The second book that I downloaded onto my handy Blackberry (with Mobipocket Reader) was 'Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance' by Angela Knight.

By the way, the total cost of the two books was approximately $15 CND. Not much, but enough to hurt on my limited budget. Ah well, you have to spend money to make money...

I have not yet fully read both. But I so far find Ms. Knight's book more my style. Ms. Hawke's is more in your face. I will give a more detailed critique of the books later.

Both started as ebook authors. I know for a fact that Angela Knight has some hardbacks out.

I found out a few things. Erotica and erotic romance (aka EroRom) are not the same thing. EroRom has a happy ending (well, they both have many, but I'm talking about a happily ever after) in which the protagonists end up together or at least romantically connected in a relationship. Erotica is wham, bam, thank you Sam.

I chose erotic romance because I think it's a good fit. I am very open about sex and have no difficulty talking about it. Nowadays I talk about it and don't do it. So that's my entertainment; talking instead of doing!

So after I finish the books I have to get writing. Not that any of you know me well enough to worry about me, but I know it's not as easy as all that.

But we'll see how long it will take.........

Frugalista Count Up 4!

Slow and steady wins the race. I added 288.00 to my savings today. The grand total now is 638.06! Considering that I have been saving for just under four weeks, I don't think that is such a bad total.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Tiny Whinge-fest about the Wii

Okay, I love the Wii. I have a couple of games that provide sufficient torture.
But the voice in the Wii Fit Plaza is starting to drive me crazy! It is like a voice from a Japanese Anime Cartoon. It is sweet, child-like and INCREDIBLY ANNOYING!!!
Every other day it goes 'Oh!'in a suprised voice when I step on the Wii.
I think I mentioned it before, I'm a larger person and trying to get some of it off. I don't have any interest in being svelte, just a lot less curvy. So when I get on and weigh every day, and it tells me 'That's Obese! Dum dum dum!' It gets tiring. D'uh! I was obese yesterday; unless a fat-wasting disease hits me overnight, I'll be obese the next day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frugalista Count-up 3!

I had two massage clients tonight. One changed their hour massage to a 90 minute massage. So instead of $110, I made $135.
So the Frugalista count up is now $350.05!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frugalista Count-up 2!

No tithe, but I managed to add $50 of my main wages this week. Total= $215.05 Up, up we go :)

Non-settler going to Settle in Belize...Part III

Post England
Well, here I was, thyroid still slightly wonky and living at my parents house. On top of that, I was seeing a really great guy, we’ll call him SmartBoy, in the months after I decided to leave. We clicked, but the timing was wrong. We had planned to meet in Toronto in a few months. Unfortunately, he decided to date someone else a couple of weeks after I left.

SmartBoy managed to send me a romantic message on Valentines Day. Then the next day emailed me saying that he shouldn’t have sent me that message since he was involved.

Moving back to Canada was weird. I had lived in Manchester for 10 years. It took me about 2 years to get used to living there. I had culture shock again, plus I was living in a small town, living at my parents house, a wee bit heartbroken, plus all the friends I had made as a young adult were over there.

It took me awhile to get used to life here again. I worked at the 7-11 on night shifts, and worked part-time at a Curves to start with. Then I got a job as a coordinator for the Southern Alberta Summer Games.

After the Summer Games, I worked in Calgary (about an 1.5 hour drive from MediumSizedTown). The commute was brutal. I wanted to move to Medicine Hat. There’s a high British population, as there is a military base that trains British Soldiers. It’s called BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield). It’s at, surprise, surprise, CFB Suffield.

Medicine Hat was where I was living when I met my ex-husband, aka LBS.

I got a job at a computer firm. I didn’t like the job much, but my social life made up for it. I still had people I knew here, and the night-life was great.

I am not a slag, but I am not a prude. I met men that I had flings with. Besides getting over SmartBoy and a 10 year marriage, I was enjoying my freedom.  I was out every weekend and broke every payday. But I was having a blast.

I was flinging with a soldier from Liverpool, when one night right before he left he decided to be an arsehole.  I’ll not go into to details, but I was assaulted and my whole world changed in that time.

I had a hard time coping with work after that. I went on EI medical leave, and on EI and my RRSP’s, I went back to school for 2 years to become a Massage Therapist. After the EI ran out, I worked a bar job out at the base. Good wage, crap tips. The hours were great though. 6 p.m.-midnight.

Also, during this time I went to counselling to recover from the assault and other baggage.

I love being a Massage Therapist, and set up my own business after I completed college. I made the mistake of staying in Medicine Hat. It’s a saturated market. Plus, unfortunately, even though I am a great Massage Therapist, people do not always think big girls are great RMT’s. I am strong like a woman named Olga, and can do all types of massage.

That is another reason to get the fat off.

In November of 2007, my brother had a heart attack. It happened to be my birthday.  He was without oxygen for a considerable amount of time. We were scared that he would be brain damaged permanently. So I got in the car and drove to Winnipeg to be with him. My parents flew up from their winter home in Palm Springs.

When I arrived, we were told not to expect much. They expected him to be brain damaged for life. But he recovered and was almost 100% within 4 months of the heart attack.

Now, obesity is my problem. Not my brother’s. He had an arrhythmia, and was on some medication he wasn’t supposed to be on and his heart stopped. He had a defibrillator put in and everything seemed fine.

In the late spring of 2008, he had a mini-stroke. He was recovering well when on Aug 24 of 2008 he died (we hope) in his sleep. He was living on his own at this time and did not have the kids with him at the time; we are thankful that the kids didn’t have to see him like that. He was 43. His defibrillator didn’t go off and didn’t save his life.

So, our family has been coming to terms with his death since then. He was a community activist, well loved by everyone, a great dad, and he was a mover and shaker in the provincial government. He had just been made an Assistant Deputy Minister of community initiatives in the department of science, technology, energy and mines in the Manitoba government.

Before my brother had passed, I had saved up for a trip back to the U.K. to visit my friends. Their lives had moved on. It was great seeing them, but it wasn’t home any longer.

Last year, I closed down my Massage Clinic and moved into a two bedroom house (I had a 1 bed flat before that). This way I could treat clients out of my house. I still had the bar job, too. I looked for another job and in April of 2009 I got a clerical job out at the base covering someone’s maternity leave.

I really do sometimes wish that I hadn’t left the U.K., but you can’t go back. You can only go forward. And I am very grateful to have been in Canada. I got to be with him before he passed away. That is worth more than any other regrets.

So now we’re up to speed!! Am I ready to live life to the fullest soon? You bet. Am I ready for a good change in my life? Oooh baby, yes!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fudge, Says Frugalista

Well, getting derailed off the Frugalista express wasn't in my plans. A few things happened in the past few days:
  1. My microwave went 'BOOM'!
  2. I got an inner ear infection
  3. My main job may be ending...aaarg!
When the microwave blew up (well it actually just went kaput, it didn't catch on fire like its predecessor), I thought 'Hmm, should I try to live without a microwave? Will I have one in Belize?' Since my decision, I'm trying to ask myself, WWBBBD (What Would Belizean Barmy Belle Do?). I am planning to live a simpler life down there. But living without a microwave when you have three jobs is just not a viable option. So I went to WalMart (I hate going to WalMart, I feel like such a traitor to local business when I do) and bought a new one for $58.00+GST. Ah well, C'est la vie.
Then I got an inner ear infection. Thanks to universal health care, I only had to pay $40 for the prescription. Which I will get 80% back minus an initial $25 dollar deductible (excess to all you peeps in the UK). So I will get a whopping $7 back :).
So, I won't be tithing my wages when I get them tomorrow, as they will be paying back my credit card for the extra expenses. I will not touch my $165.05 saved so far. Plus I should make $110 this week as I have four massages this week. Unfortunately two are trades. One is a trade with another massage therapist (Yay! I get a massage back next week). The other is my friend and hairdresser. But the other two are paid :)
The third point I have known about since I got the job. I am covering
someones maternity leave. But I had assumed that I would have secured another job by now and that hasn't happened. I am peaceful now though. There are now rumours that the woman I replaced is not coming back, but I'm not sure that I want the job now that I've come up with an alternative solution.
I was starting to panic. Not only will my 'Belize or Bust' plan get waylaid, but I will end up, once again spending all my savings.
But I had a serious think and I came to some conclusions. I don't like working almost all the time. I am tired of scrabbling for money all the time. At the moment, I can barely make ends meet on my first wage (the main job). And I'm only doing that job for the money, like so many of us do.
Up until a year ago, I had a massage clinic. But I saw the writing on
the wall when the recession was about to hit. This city's massage market is over saturated. I hadn't yet built up enough clientele to make a living off of it before; so I was TOTALLY screwed once the recession hit. At that time I had the massage clinic and my bar job at the military base.
Now, I have a civil servant position at the military base, a bar job at the base, and I do massages out of my house.
So, I talked to my parents. One of the advantages of being this old and single is I don't have any major responsibilities. I asked them if I got laid off, would it be okay to move in with them for a bit and open a massage clinic in
MediumSizedTown, Alberta. I would be on unemployment, and could claim whatever wages I made until I more money than Pogey allows.
So I now hope I do get laid off, as that is the only way that I can move. And my expenses at my parents will be much more reasonable then renting a 2 bed house in the city with no insulation, and $200+ per month utilities in the winter (rent + utilities in the winter= $1000. My main job earns me about $1000 every two weeks so that's 50% of my wage).
So here's hoping I get my arse laid off in April :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Non-settler going to Settle in Belize...Part II

Young Adulthood
Well, not surprisingly, I was expected to go to college next. And all I had was wanderlust. I had great parents; but they expected me to get an education.

I went to Medicine Hat College, and took a University Transfer Programme in Journalism. I joined the college paper and then the editor (the only staff member) quit. I became the editor!

Instead of quitting the paper myself, I just slacked off on my classes. I quit the paper (and college) at the end of the college year. My brother urged me to move to Winnipeg. I have fantastic parents, my mother is controlling. And at that time, I didn't know how to cope with that. I moved to Winnipeg, got a job at the Bay and lived with my brother and his girlfriend. Didn’t stick. Didn’t like his girlfriend, his girlfriend didn’t like me and they moved out.

I then went to Calgary to take an LPN programme. I had the intelligence, but not the drive to be an LPN.

Hmm, what after that? Oh yeah I went back to Medicine Hat College and tried to complete the BA University Transfer Programme. Found drama. Ooops!

Whilst in drama, I met lovely British Soldier and fell in lust and love and ended up moving to England after the end of the school year.

The lovely British Soldier (aka LBS from now on) was getting out of the army before we met. After he got out of the army about a year later, and I settled with him in Salford, Greater Manchester. Which you can still see remnants of the Industrial Revolution and WWII.

LBS surprised me and bought a house for me before I moved there. He was thoughtful and thought we would want a home. We got engaged and married in 1994. My brother married his wife (thankfully not the same girlfriend) the same year.

The house unfortunately needed fixing up and we didn’t have the resources. We lived in a building site for whole time that I lived in it. Unfortunately, the area that we lived in went downhill and we had negative equity.

LBS had got a job with Salford City Council. Which paid very little and I got a job in a pub. I had tons of different jobs, all unsatisfying. The local job centre employees knew me by name and helped me out whenever I was looking for a job.

I didn’t realise how upper middle class my parents were until I moved to the U.K. I didn’t realise how tough it can be to make ends meet. I also didn’t realise that I was a spoiled princess.

There were a few hiccups on the way, but I learned how to live with hardly anything (hopefully I can put it back into practice to save my money for Belize).
Those first few years were the hardest. I dealt with clinical depression. I became agoraphobic and slept all the time. LBS had to deal with me. LBS was very supportive throughout. (Aside: One of the funniest lines that my father-in-law had to say about my depression was that ‘It was all in my head.’)

I think depression set in after 18 months of being in Manchester. In all this time, I didn’t make a single friend. I didn’t realise it, but I had ‘DESPERATE FOR FRIENDS’ tattooed on my forehead. And I didn’t have any takers.

The depression turned out to be a blessing. I was on the dole (social assistance). As I was getting normalised on the anti-depressants, I finally ventured out and found some local writing groups.

‘The Monday Night Group’, affectionately called the MiNGe by its members, became my home away from home, and its members became my closest friends and second family. They still are.

About four years after I moved there, I had been a resident long enough to get funded to go back to school by the Local Authority. Bonus! I went to the University of Salford and took a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. Computers didn’t interest me, but hey, there was money in it. And by this time, I wanted MONEY!

Plus, I was a student again! A 26 year old student, but a student nonetheless. Thankfully there was a good mix of mature students and young students on the course. There was a lot of teamwork involved, and I ended up mixing with the younger students more than the older ones. I didn’t have any children, and I was still pretty immature for my age.

Three years later (degrees are 3 years in the U.K.), I had a BSc in IT (Hons). I liked writing, so I thought I would become a Technical Author.

Back home my brother was moving up as a behind-the-scenes guy in the Manitoba provincial government. He and his wife had just had their second son. Things seemed to be going well for them. He loved his job and he loved being a Dad.

I found work as a Tech Author, and things were looking up for us; except for one very important thing. LBS was in the TA (Territorial Army) and to make more money; he, with my approval had decided to take a posting. He was posted to Kosovo when I was in my last year of University. And I unfortunately loved the time and space away from him. Kosovo was in Peace Keeping times. LBS wasn’t in any danger; but unfortunately our marriage was.

Two years after I left university, we separated for six months. We went to marriage counselling; but for some strange reason the marriage counsellor took my side on everything. Which didn’t seem fair, even to me. LBS took it though and we reconciled.

It didn’t stick though. I loved him, but he drove me crazy. I was mean to him and I didn’t like the mean shrewish like thing that I was turning into. You know those old couples that you see and one of them (usually the wife) is a bossy and terribly mean to their other half? I could picture myself becoming that. I didn’t want to become that, and I didn’t want to subject LBS to that as he really IS lovely.

After LBS and I split, quite amicably (we are Facebook friends), I moved to Whalley Range in Manchester. I was working and everything was going well. I had a male friend (but it was a rebound lust thing), and I had always had a great group of friends.

Then my memory started going and my hair started falling out. I was gaining weight too. But since I was overweight, I thought that it was from overeating. A dodgy memory is not a great thing to have when you are in the computer industry tasked with writing instructional manuals for complex software. Combined with that, my boss was a naturist and unintentionally was pressuring myself and a co-worker into travelling to his house and going for lunch. I don’t think he was being perverse in any way, but it was uncomfortable. My co-worker filed sexual harassment charges. I was interviewed and added onto the complaint. I didn't feel good about being the cause of someone else losing their job. He was a good guy that was just extremely inappropriate. Because of the memory thing combined with the sexual harassment suit, they gave me a severance and I was laid off.

My doctor tried telling me that it was depression, since I did have it in the past. I knew what depression felt like. This didn’t feel like that. Finally about six months later we found out that I was severely hypothyroid (low functioning thyroid). It took me another six months to go back to my normal levels. But thankfully I did.

Added to that, Sept 11, 2001 happened. I am not in any way marginalising the tragedy that occurred there, but the IT market crashed. So getting another job was hard. I did a couple of contracts, but then the market totally waned and finding a job was near impossible.

Since I and LBS had split, my mother had wanted me to come home. I had been unemployed for quite some time and I was having trouble making ends meet. My mother offered to pay for me to come home. After several times saying ‘No’, I finally said ‘Yes’ in a weak moment. Retrospectively, I don’t know if that was the right choice. I’m glad I was in Canada when some events in my family’s life happened. But other than that I wonder if it was the right thing to do….

So at the age of 32, I moved back to MediumSizedTown, Alberta. And I moved in with my parents!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Frugalista Count-up!

Well, I stated that I had $106 and change. I have always known that this saving bit won't be easy. After fixed costs and taking 10% of my paycheque, I will get about $80 per week to live on. That sounds fine, but I use $40+ dollars per week commuting. So it's about $40/week for groceries and such.

At the moment, I am only going to buy a limited amount of groceries as my cupboards are full. So I'm going to eat what's in my cupboards for now, buying a little here and there.

I have to cut out an addiction which is extremely pricey and bad for me, diet sodas. Aspartame is a poison but a very addictive one! I have quit before, but it's not easy.

How, you ask, am I going to lose weight just eating anything in my cupboards. Well, most of the things in my cupboards are healthy, and exercise for me is the best way for me to lose weight. I just have to get off my gloriously big arse and move!

So, I am not a master Frugalista yet. I have the option of going curling tomorrow instead of going to work. Hmmm, it only costs $20 and I get to sleep in, start at 10, curl and then finish around 3.

The Frugalista inside of me is shouting, but I am putting ear plugs on and ignoring her.

I got my commuting cheque in my account today. It was $84.55 for the month. I got an oil change with it (it's what I usually do, I drive 100 kms return a day, sometimes 7 days a week) for $53 from Mr. Lube. That left 31.55. I am using $20 from that to go curling, and I deposited the remaining $11.55 in my savings. I get paid from my bar job tonight, so I have pre-emptively transferred the money out of my chequing account and into my savings as it will be back up to the original amount when I wake in the a.m.. That was $47.39.

So, total savings so far are $165.05. But it's a start :) Remember, there is a reason why this is a 3-5 year plan. I will have some savings and an income from writing by that time. I'm hoping 3 years, but it will probably be 5.

P.S. I did cancel my landline. It is currently paid up until Feb 18th. After that date it will be disconnected. That will be a $40 dollar savings every month.