Discord to Harmony
Dear Readers (if you're out there),
This first post of mine will be an introduction.
Hi, I'm Erin.
I am wife, mother of two, musician, teacher, DIYer. I am an aspiring composer. I am creative. I am awkward. I'm a Pennsylvanian living in the South. I am introverted, but I love people -- all of them. I care about the world, and in particular the environment. I care about spending time with my family and really BEING together. I have too many pets (two cats, plus one who sorta claimed us, a Golden Doodle that was passed to us from another family, a bearded dragon and goldfish which both belong to our seven-year-old, and most recently, a Husky/German Shepherd mix puppy that we literally found in the middle of a busy road at night). I'm sure we've got some Palmetto bugs around here too, but we try to keep them outside. :-P
I'm starting a blog.
Why am I starting a blog?
Right now seems like an important time for our family. We have faced some changes and challenges lately. My dad has advanced Parkinson's and has just moved to the Florida Keys to live with his brother in order to be cared for without having to go into a nursing home. My mom and her husband live in Pennsylvania, so for the first time in my life, neither of my parents is close by (at least not full time). (Side note: my in-laws are, and we are very grateful for them!) We are all at once relieved that my dad is finally getting settled in at his new home, and sad that he's no longer just 45 minutes away from us.
We are working to change our financial situation. My husband, Travis, is an elementary school teacher here in the great state of South Carolina, where teacher pay is fantastic (can you sense the sarcasm?), and I teach piano and violin lessons on a part time basis. We have almost always struggled, except when he did well for a while selling his T-shirt designs at shirt.woot (check him out at www.oakenspirit.com). We saved up some money, moved to a larger (and much older) home, and have never since been able to replenish our savings account. It's very disheartening, especially since we have always been pretty frugal, so it's hard to find anything to cut back on, and it seems like unexpected expenses keep popping up just when we think we're almost out of the woods.
So why don't we just get better jobs? Why don't I just go work somewhere full time or get a second part time job?
Travis and I are artists at heart. He teaches art (digital art as of this year) and is a fabulous writer. He is really the most creative person I know, and has already completed one book in the YA Sci-fi category and another which is a children's chapter book. He's got other ideas in the works and has been searching for an agent for these two for quite a while, which has been a trying process to say the least. I hate to see him start to lose hope at times, because he deserves to be successful at this.
And as I mentioned, I'm an aspiring composer and songwriter. I won't go overboard discussing that in this post since you can find out by exploring the site, but my plan is to have all of my music linked here soon, including some recordings and some sheet music, which will all be available for download.
In order for Travis and I to pursue these dreams of ours and hopefully turn our hobbies into our careers, we need to be able to devote a significant amount of time to them. Maybe it's silly, maybe it's a poor decision to keep trying, but we can't bring ourselves to give up on what we each feel we were meant to do.
So, rather than going back to school for better jobs or spending all our time working at mediocre ones, we are looking for small ways to make (or save) a few extra bucks here and there. I've picked up more students this year. We're working on figuring out a more exact budget (our strategy has always been to just try not to spend more than we need to on anything, but we don't often sit down and actually look at the numbers). I've made myself available to do a little bit of interior painting. I'm selling some things. Travis is still doing some T-shirt designs, even though it is more hit-or-miss than it used to be.
One philosophy I am trying to embrace as a way to save both time and money is minimalism. A quote by Buddha recently caught my eye: "Attachment leads to suffering." Truthfully, I haven't done any further reading to find out the context that was meant here. But, to me, it resonates because when I am attached to too many THINGS, I suffer. Having too many items in my house means I have to find time to care for them all. To clean them, clean around them, put them where they belong, fix them when they break, make sure the puppy doesn't eat them. It feels like an endless job to care for all of our belongings, especially to keep them put away so my house doesn't feel cluttered. Some people can have a lot of things and not go crazy. I'm not one of those people. If I see piles of stuff in my house, I can't focus on anything else until I have it under control. I feel robbed from spending time doing the things I'd much rather be doing, like reading to my kids, talking with my husband, taking a walk in the woods, making music, visiting a friend... Really, I'd rather do almost anything than clean, especially when it feels like it takes hours every day and I'm still never done. This is my biggest frustration in life right now, and has been ever since I've had more people in my life to clean up after than just myself.
Part of the reason I'm starting this blog is to keep myself accountable. My goal is to declutter my house and get it to a point where I can easily maintain it and get out of what feels like Housewife Hell, so I can spend more time BEING a mother, a wife, a composer. I have no idea how long this will take. It feels like I've been working on it in spurts for ten years. Because I have been. But I'm going to continue to work on it, and if I can continue to make progress on a regular basis, maybe I'll get to a point where it doesn't take up so much of my time.
I also want to be accountable for continuing to make new music, even when I feel like I don't have much time for it. So, at least once every few weeks, I hope to feature a new song here. I may even try to collaborate with my four-almost-five-year-old, who loves to sit at the piano and improvise! I've thought it would be fun to take parts of what he plays and turn them into real compositions.
This blog will be updated at least twice a week, so if any of this sounds like something you'd like to read about, I'll have details and updates on all of it in future posts, coming soon! I'd love to see your questions and comments below, and you can also enter your email address below if you'd like to be notified when I post new content or offer discounts or giveaways!