Latest Posts

Sites that promise enlightenment (of the financial type)

 

Do you want to hear my thoughts on some of these strategies below?

Let me know and I’ll untangle some of the good and some of the ‘optimistic’ at best, misleading and wasting your time at worst. 

Want to Pay Off Debt? 45 Honest Ways to Make Extra Money Online

offered by the The Penny Hoarder

50+ Ways To Make Extra Money

offered by Fitnancials

11 Sites That Pay You for Your Photos (Up to $100 per Picture)

offered by Moneypantry

 

This was my favourite web content this July (great to ready, hear, watch any month of the year)

I discovered Roads and Kingdoms as I was looking up Anthony Bourdain’s body of work left behind. I was trying to find out who edited the intro to Parts Unknown, his travel & food series. The introduction is so multilayered and absolutely amazing, if you haven’t seen it ever and are interested in seeing a great (really great) video edit then click. (The intro sequence that I am referring to always starts about 60 seconds into the beginning of each episode.)

But back to Roads and Kingdoms, we can talk about Anthony Bourdain again soon.

Roads and Kingdoms in their own words: “Roads & Kingdoms is dedicated to a simple idea: the more you know, the better you travel. We use talented local journalists, deep storytelling, and the good things in life—food, music, booze—to inform and inspire about destinations around the globe. R&K won the 2017 James Beard Publication of the Year award and is a winner of SATW’s Best Travel Journalism Site award. We focus on useful information for armchair and aisle-seat travelers alike.

The late Anthony Bourdain was our first and only investor, our spirit animal, our guide to so many things. continue reading

DO click right through to Roads and Kingdoms, you will not regret it but thank me! They have some of the best content that I have seen online in so long and where have I been to not know of them sooner! And: Where have you been? Let’s know interesting things.

Dispatched by Anthony Bourdain:

Roads and Kingdoms front Page:

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What I loved about this documentary: Well it’s informative and nothing snazzy but information doesn’t need to always be snazzy, does it? I enjoyed learning about the history of this building.

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Music I discovered: Paris Combo

Here is the first music video that I saw of theirs and it is so wonderfully lively and enlivening, quirky, happy sounding, but I admit I don’t speak a word of French, so I don’t know what it is about.

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ALMOND MILK (seriously do it! d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s when you use it how I do anyway. I suppose I better add my full morning ritual breakfast recipe some time soon! So that you can actually taste the amazingness that I am tasting daily!)

I enjoyed learning how to make your own Almond milk. This was the shortest video that I could find. It is super easy:

Turns our fresh almond milk is AMAZING. I make enough for 3 days worth of breakfast porridge for 2 with about 1 cup worth of almonds (? I need to double check that). We can’t stop making mmmmmmmmmm sounds when we have our breakfast now. YUM!

This is what I do:
1 part almonds that have been soaked overnight (!) + about 4-5 parts room temperature or cold water, more, less water it really is up to YOU. Blend finely. Pour through a cotton cloth that rests in a strainer into a bowl (squeeze). Transfer to a glass jar and put into the fridge until needed. My gosh is this stuff tasty when used in place of milk. What to do with the leftover, dryish almond ground? Press into a storage container and keep in the fridge. Make anything edible with this, add 2 teaspoons or more to your porridge. You’ll tank me later. DELICIOUS!

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This documentary about families in China. The cost of providing for one’s children, the cost of our global economy, too? It is food for thought. I recommend looking up more documentaries about this theme. I have seen some very strong ones in the past (better than this one, more comprehensive) but this one makes a thought provoking start. Do watch it and tell me what went through your mind as you did in the comments?

NOT a perfect documentary but a good thinking prompt. We found it left many questions unanswered for us, some information felt incomplete and could also at times be misleading. BUT what can one fit into a short documentary? To answer all the aspects that were left short would require our attention span for a whole day and who has so much time. Just use your mind when watching anything anywhere anyway. And look up the gaps as needed. (I probably say something similar to this about most information that I find in the world: it is always going to be incomplete as completeness requires ALL the time in the world.)

Fear of letting go, digital storage space & Freedom

I am not sure where all the things in my life come from, somehow I manage to accumulate additional suitcases filled with more stuff than I use, but which I also have a hard time letting go of. I tell myself that I am frugal. But this doesn’t really work in my favour.

This tendency to hold onto.. isn’t this really a form of hoarding? Even if I still have space to breathe and my hoarding doesn’t quite manifest in the true crazy person hoarding, I still feel that I have a problem letting go of things.

If belongings stop me from being free to follow opportunities or new ideas then surely I do actually have a real problem. So what’s going on? Why this fear of letting go? I always come up with great reasons why I need to hold onto this and that, and often the reasons are really solid, make great sense and are difficult to argue against.

However, in my heart I know that no matter how good the reason for holding on, the reason for letting go is better, letting go allows something to happen in my life that fear of letting go doesn’t.

All this wisdom is of little use unless I implement it, too. I’ll ponder on what is holding me back another time but next up is the issue of digital stuff.

My digital life is about as bloated, if not more so, than the life of my physical possessions. I seem to forever struggle to clear my laptop hard drive. Today I again had a warning from my mac that its storage is almost full. Oh, no, not again. I actually ran out of storage space on my external hard drives, too.

I will once more give in, purchase a couple of new hard drives. I always buy 2 external hard drives to be able to set up a mirrored backup system, I can explain why I do this and why you should, too, another time. Keeping onto digital files and storing them on external hard drives isn’t so bad, but now that digital files are larger and larger it is becoming an expensive habit. I estimate that I will need about 12TB storage space a year total from now on (double that for the mirrored backing up system). That sounds like a crazy amount! But I deal with a lot of images and video files and as I mentioned above I have a serious problem with letting go of things. So I hold onto most digital files, when really I should make it a regular habit to delete what is of no use to me.

It made more sense 10 years ago to hold onto each photo, I took fewer and my memories were more remarkable than they currently are. Or maybe that, too, is just a perception.

I like 4TB Western Digital for hard drives, they seem like a decent price point and a reliable brand. That doesn’t mean they are never going to fail, all hard drives may one day fail (or may not). Actually this brings me back once more to why I use a mirrored backing up system.. Ok I’ll leave this standing as is, but here is the hard drive that I will buy. I am planning on getting 2x 4TB red hard drives this time, as I already have 2 identical black Western Digital hard drives . I recommend these drives to all of my friends. I used to use the rugged Lacie drives, but in America they seem much more expensive than they were back in the UK, which is why I now use Western Digital (WD).

 

You can also just click on the picture of the hard drive that you would like and it will take you straight to Amazon, sometimes the red drive is a little bit more expensive than the black, which for me is worth it because I have multiple drives that are identical and it makes it easier for me to be able to just grab the right one in a rush, without even needing to read a label. If you want to save about $10 then you can click on the black drive and usually those are cheaper. For hard drive labelling I just use masking tape or anything else that is sticky and can be written onto with a permanent marker.

 

If you use the link to the hard drive that I am getting and purchase one for yourself, then I should let you know that this link is an affiliate link. It will NOT cost you anything extra to use the link, yet I gain a small percentage reward for bringing you to Amazon today. There is no catch and the recommendation is genuine: I use WD drives and am feeling confident that they are a good product.

We are petsitting again

After a several month long break from everything caused by an intrusive health issue that sent me to a Chinese Medicine Doctor while I waited to eventually to have surgery we are back! Petsitting was never really meant to be a career move, but here in San Francisco it really is a sort of low hanging fruit of income options when life allows the flexibility with regards to taking the time out to visit or stay with somebody else’s pets.
We are starting to build up repeat clients, who will give us a call before asking anybody else to look after their pets.

Over7Seas_Petsitting_cats_SF

Petsitting through Rover & by word of mouth.

To get started with petsitting as a ‘side-hustle’ we recommend using Yahoo Groups, neighbourhood message boards & Rover. Build repeat clients over time. If you would like to start petsitting using the booking agent Rover then you can follow this link to become a petsitter: https://refer.rover.com/s/Birgit5

I will get a bonus from Rover if you sign up AND book your first petsitting appointment within 90 days of signing up. Do read about the way Rover works, they take 20% of your fee and the host also pays a small booking fee to Rover. But despite this I still really value the platform. It has helped us earn $1000 over Christmas and New Year, a time when it is common to spend more than we earn. I think it is a great way to spend the holidays when one hasn’t got many family commitments. But petsitters are needed all year round. We get calls when people take a spontaneous weekend trip, visit family for a wedding or for other personal family reason, sometimes people have work trips or had a last minute cancellation from a friend who was going to look after their home and pets.

Over7Seas_Petsitting_SanFrancisco

A picture of our current petsitting engagement. We document playtime & feeding of the pets and send daily pictures to the pet owners to let them know everything is going well during their absence from their home.

We use Rover exclusively for housesitting petsitting & pet-visiting. We don’t take the pets to our home but stay at theirs. We don’t participate in the Rover Dogwalking at all, we don’t want to get too involved with dog walking. Ultimately Jason and I have careers that we are trying to build but our Rover experiences have been positive and welcome cash injections.

It is important to state that petsitting in somebody else’s home is a REAL job. We take on a lot of responsibility and we conduct our service very professionally. We don’t short change the animal or their owner. We now charge $60 per day/night stay but to start with we initially charged only $30-$35 for a regular night stay. Yes, of course $35 for a 24 hour period is not good money, but if, like us, you have a flexible work schedule, then it makes sense to take the $35, work from home if I was going to do that anyway, and take the dog for a walk 2-3 times. We only accept what works for us. This means: usually only medium sized dogs not large ones, but sometimes we say yes to a big labrador, it always depends on our schedule and how we get on with the pet owner, too.

Over_7_Seas_Petsitting_San_Francisco

We try to captures attractive pictures of the pets that we petsit, I think of it as added value for the pet and home owner. I recommend presenting pet updates nicely.

 

This is definitely a big tip: ONLY accept booking requests that work for you. If you are not feeling comfortable with the owner, turn this opportunity down. This ensures that your Rover petsitting experiences will be predominately positive.
Above I created lots of links to the referral link, every link in this document opens the referral window. If you sign up and also use Rover I will get a bonus (an Amazon gift card). You can then in the future also recommend Rover, but please only do it if it works for you. We really benefitted from being part of Rover, I would not recommend it otherwise. If you create an amazing profile, with great pictures showing you, you with somebody’s pets and with a strong write up answering the questions pet owners might have before feeling comfortable to request you to take care of their home & pets. Create an ambience of trust. And then BE trustworthy and professional. Don’t say yes to everything, take it slow. And over time you will build a good portfolio and make a nice little extra income, which might help you take a holiday or see the dentist or create a savings buffer for a small emergency in the future. I highly recommend it!

 

Things I buy & Why I signed up to Amazon as an Associate

I just signed up to Amazon Associates, again (I got kicked out previously for inactivity), which means that when I post a link to a product here on my website (or elsewhere) I can qualify to receive a small percentage of each sale that takes place as a result of somebody following the link.

Following a link to a product that I post on my blog will:

  • NOT cost you a cent more
  • Benefits me, as I get somewhere between 1-4% of the sales price

Why does Amazon pay me a few cents from the money they make of your purchase? So the way I understand it Amazon considers that unless you used my link to the product you may not have bought anything or that thing. So they pay this referral fee, which is kind of like an advertisement fee?

When you open a magazine of any kind, most have some adverts in it somewhere (some appear to be 90% advert, 10% content, but that’s another conversation), those adverts are paid for by the company. Now that so much of the information and content that we enjoy is on people’s personal websites it makes sense to reward us who are recommending something (because we personally enjoy or desire the thing in question) with a small fee for bringing a potential customer to Amazon, who stand to make their revenue through the sales..

Hang on, so the title of my post is: Why I decided to join Amazon Associates.  It is simple, I think it is amazing that if I use a product that is available on Amazon and I genuinely feel that it is something I can recommend then it is fantastic if I can over time earn a few cents for sharing what I like. Maybe to you that seems like a waste of time, but it is free money. Well, I know this is debatable because time is money and to create a link can take 10 minutes + the time to write a post to put here, so maybe there are other ways to earn $10 way quicker, but I like the idea of a tiny trickle that can come in over time here and there and surprise me.

Do you have any objections to this? I mean I am not sure why you would because I am not going to terribly spam you, however I will put everything that I purchase on Amazon here on this website with a link, and I may also put links for things I really want to have but can not myself afford.

So in the spirit of this post, here is what I am purchasing today on Amazon. I genuinely love Dr Hauschka, their products are very natural and I can never afford to buy them but right now I found the exact day facial lotion, that I have been wanting since before Christmas, on sale for under $25, the usual price is $45.

Dr Hauschka Rose Day Light Cream, 1 Fluid Ounce

I am not sure if this can really be true but I am going to order it now and find out. I read the reviews and it shipped via Amazon Prime, so I feel that I am thoroughly covered in case I need to return it (which I highly doubt I would do).. I look forward to pressing ‘buy’ in a few minutes, but first I wanted to share with you the direct link to my much desired face lotion. Here it is:

Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Light Cream, 1 Fluid Ounce

 

Update: The creme has arrived and I love it! I have wanted this for over a year. I paid 50% less than full price, I recommend being patient and waiting for good deals. It was really worth it for me.

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And then this happened.. deeply saddened to hear about the misconduct of Pattabhi Jois.

{{This piece is a work in progress. I am not finished writing it. But it is worth your while even in its fragment state as it is. The links I included shed some more light on the matter. And I think each of the 4 numbered links is an important read & view to begin grasping the complex and uncomfortable matter.. signed at 2:55am, December 12th, I will write UPDATE in this place once I have updated my writing}}

In a way I wish I didn’t have to face this conversation, another wildfire that once again reduces a teacher we once looked up to, to a problematic pyre of trust.

After glancing at a post on one of the Ashtanga FB forums I fell down a rabbit hole reading my way through several webpages and multiple Facebook Comments that each lead on to the next. It all began with a post about Karen Rain who responded to Mary Taylor’s post on www.richardfreemanyoga.com about Pattabhi Jois?

It leads through the following rabbit warren:
1) http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/karen-rain-responds-mary-taylors-post-sexual-misconduct-pattabhi-jois/

2) http://www.richardfreemanyoga.com/musings/2017/12/8/imsgnih1igya0m8ajzmx4n6yxyp8z8

3)
http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/silence-silencing-jivamukti-yoga-beyond/

4) This is one very clear evidence that the above allegations did take place. I recommend watching it LAST.
http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/pattabhi-jois-yoga-adjustments/

And now I feel nauseous and sad.

I am trying to untangle a few of my parallel thoughts, parallel to the conversation that is active on several Facebook forums and probably comments sections on the posted links above, too. 

“However, if she truly doesn’t want to blame ‘scantily clad or overly effusive women,’ for his behavior, she really shouldn’t mention them in an apology. By doing so, it says that either on some level she accepts it as an excuse and does blame the women or is hoping that other people will accept it as excuse. After all it is a classic, easy to use excuse. It’s the one that the most people buy into. Plus, it takes the focus off of the behavior of the perpetrator, which is a relief when you don’t want to talk or think about it.” Karen Rain (Please read her full statement on www.decolonizingyoga.com to get the full context of her words)

It took me a moment to have something to say myself about Mary Taylor’s writing about the sexual misconduct of Pattabhi Jois. But then it struck me as quite noticeable and in its own way quite shocking.. First a couple fo the passages that I am going to refer to:

“Around the same time, Western students stopped bowing to his feet in appreciation for class and instead began hugging and kissing him as a demonstration of gratitude. I am certain both of these things were mixed messages to him culturally.”

“Not to say that the scantily clad or overly effusive women were at fault for the sexually inappropriate adjustments. He was the teacher; even if he did misconstrue their message due to cultural differences, he should have seen through his own mind and through them. His behavior was wrong and it caused damage to many women, for which I, as one of his students, feel deep regret (as does Richard).” Referencing Mary Taylor’s post on www.richardfreemanyoga.com

Isn’t Mary Taylor’s playing Pattabhi Jois’s behaviour somewhat down to cultural difference a form of infantilising a grown person, a form of expressing that one is making excuses for an Indian man like as if people in his country and culture had no barometer of right and wrong?

Isn’t this ultimately insulting to tell a person in India that one makes such excuses like as if Indian people were not able to manage their physical actions? This sort of making excuses is naive when expressed by a 20 something-year-old with time ahead to grow the spectrum of their comprehension and learn that this sort fo statement is a form of racism and is simply wrong. But a longterm Yoga teacher who teaches a wisdom from the same country that they just publicly stated can’t control its urges..? Isn’t this a big contradiction? ‘Your ancient wisdoms are worthy but you are excused because you can’t differentiate right from wrong because you were confused by women’s clothing items not matching those of your own background’ (this is what inadvertently can be seen as the implied meaning of the above quotes by MT)… Are we not speaking about a man oftentimes declared a wise guru who surely could have found a way to explain that if clothing or lack of the same was an issue it would be mandatory to wear more of it? Not that this is even a rabbit hole that I want to take my contribution down. As I in NO way want to imply clothing is an excuse for misconduct! 

I am a little bit lost for words right now! So I shall leave this open ended, but I hope you understand my thoughts.

“First and foremost, I don’t think that his perverse behavior is an irreparable flaw in the Ashtanga system. It is a system of practice that has worked for me.” referencing Mary Taylor’s writing on www.richardfreemanyoga.com

I don’t want to untangle each mis-phrasing in Mary Taylor’s writing but the argument that there is no flaw because it ‘works for me’ is very flawed. It plays down the possibility that maybe the system is flawed; if it is or not needs more critical engagement than: “It worked for me”. For the whole text please do visit the website because you should not be informed by only my text selections if you wish to honour this complicated subject with understanding the entire context of somebody’s words. 

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I don’t want to chew Mary Taylor into pieces, I really don’t think we are all equipped to handle every sensitive conversation flawlessly. I think discussing what is at miss with each other’s way of responding to critical issues is exactly what will hopefully make us all better at handing them. But should each of us be flawlessly educated at how to discuss painful and sensitive matters? Probably not. Nobody has the time. We are all too stretched as it is. So please do not read my criticisms above as mean spirited, venegful, intentionally hurtful, positioned to undermine Mary Taylor’s authority as a teacher or anything else in that direction. Please consider it instead a contribution towards more awareness of the nuances in what we say, just for those who are interested. The last thing we now need is a bunch of gnashing teeth directed at each other

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None of the above should dismiss what I gained through my time at the AYRI shala. What I gained was life changing, perhaps a subject for another time. I did not experience any of the above described misconduct. 

 

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P.S. As I mentioned in the opening: This is a bit of a stream of thoughts and it is not finished. I have other thoughts on the difficulty of understanding why a victim of harassment might return to the place where further harassment then might take place. I would like to ask of you to not be too quick to judge and shall try and return to this piece of text to edit it a little and add my thoughts on the complexities of being at the receiving end of abuse and the difficulties that can be present in acknowledging one’s self being abused and acting ‘logically’.. It is not a clearcut situation.

 

My letter to Bloglovin’ about their inadvertently facilitating human trafficking

Dear Bloglovin’ team,

I have 2 people ‘following’ me on Bloglovin’ who clearly advertise the sale of females for sex in their Profile description.

This is one of the two ‘followers’ that I have on my profile with Bloglovin’ :               “Ashley Bartel
http://www.sеху.xxxxx (URL address altered by me)  rеmаrкаblе уоung wоmеn livе аds соmраrаtivе sех аnd sех in thе аbsеnсе оf оbligаtiоn is lоокing оut fоr уоu thеn.”

I sent you another email about the other person.

What shocks me is that I noticed the person, whom I am reporting in this message, starting following me maybe a week or two ago and I didn’t have time to figure out how to report this. I hoped and actually assumed that Bloglovin’ checks their content often enough to find and ban profiles like this. I thought hopefully somebody else will report this issue.

It is shocking that maybe 2 weeks later NOBODY else has reported this. And I think it is largely due to the absence of a report this user function on your platform. By omitting this (maybe you re short of staff and hope the problem will go away by itself?) you are giving a free advertising platform for human traffickers, the users of their services and the crime of forces sex, abuse and use of women as objects. Not offering an easier way of reporting this makes you inadvertently complicit. Yes I would go as far as that. Not because I think you express any personal support for the crime but you are facilitating the advertisement of it.

Could you please make it easier to report crime, every other platform at least has a repot hate speech / spam option. Spam doesn’t describe the magnitude of the problem but is a start. At least the content gets removed.

In your ‘what can we help with’ scroll menu you should have a ‘report abuse / spam / harrassemend / crime’ option.

Thank you for taking this seriously.
I will finish my message here and leave you with a couple of URL addresses about trafficking and sex trade. Since the adverts that I am seeing on Bloglovin’ specify ‘young women / girls’ I will focus at least one link on this target group.

Please take more action than only deleting these two accounts.:

https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking/sex-trafficking

https://technologyandtrafficking.usc.edu/report/human-trafficking-online-cases-patterns/

https://biometrica.com/sex-trafficking-america-children/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/20/us/sex-trafficking/index.html

hotline for help: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states

https://www.freedomunited.org/freedom-university/

https://www.americanbar.org/publications/judges_journal/2013/winter/human_trafficking_and_internet_and_other_technologies_too.html

“The internet facilitates access to victims and is being used to facilitate the sale of sex.”
http://www.nhregister.com/connecticut/article/Sex-trafficking-moves-to-social-media-to-find-11330629.php

70 Percent Of Child Sex Trafficking Victims Are Sold Online: Study
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/sex-trafficking-in-the-us_n_5621481.html

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I would like to also add that I DO really enjoy using Bloglovin’ , my concern about the lack of reporting options isn’t intended to beat down the entire platform. They are amazing. I follow my favourite blogs through this one platform, not needing to click on multiple open tabs or entre lots of URL addresses nor do I need to clog my email inbox, everything is right there in one view on Bloglovin’ . I recommend it. I just wish they took their responsibilities serious enough to not require prompting to create a report function of the obvious lack of misuse of the platform ..

Wildfires close to San Francisco : information resources (fire locations, air quality, health prevention tips)

List of information sources about the California fires, air quality & preventative actions for your health. :

The air quality in the Bay Area (San Francisco) and North Bay Area (Sonoma, Napa) today is in the red and deep red zone:

https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_city&zipcode=94110&submit=Go

From an official government page in case the air quality declines further, preventative actions to take:
https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.pmhilevels

Here something about breathing masks, it is recommendable to use them, the smoke particles are microparticles that are harmful to lungs and health:
https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/334-353.pdf

Where you can buy breathing masks (check the link about breathing masks above before buying): This is a link to masks on Amazon, select the quickest delivery option in case the fires will continue to burn for a while longer. Protect your lungs.

Here updates directly from Sonoma:
https://www.facebook.com/CityOfSonoma/

The active wildfire map, where you can check where there are active wildfires in America, updated frequently:
https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=df8bcc10430f48878b01c96e907a1fc3

 

 

The air quality in San Francisco is already in the RED zone. This means that it already can cause noticeable health reactions. However don’t panic: keep physical activity to a minimum, stay indoors as much as possible. As a tourist: these are the days for museum visits and spending time in cafes and aquariums.

In the North Bay the air quality is in the DEEP RED zone = very bad, it is strongly advisable to not expose yourself unnecessarily. Many people will notice negative effects on their health at those levels. Use the first link in this post to enter the postcode of where you re to check your aibquality and read all the links to thorough information.

RED::
AQI: Unhealthy (151 – 200)
Everyone may begin to experience health effects members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

DEEP RED:
AQI: Very Unhealthy (201 – 300)
Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.

Money saving tips from a frugal person:

#1 is my newest tip. A coupon website that seems brilliant!
I found out about ‘Honey‘ today. It is a website that searches the internet for money off coupons, use of the website is free of charge and from the research I have done so far it looks like there is no negative hook.

So I feel confident sharing the sign up link with you. Follow it and check if your an find a coupon the next time before you buy your regular brand new shoes. These codes seem to not be limited to clothing. So go explore! Save money. But don’t buy things you don’t need!

joinhoney.com/ref/1ktfzl   Check it out before using it, but it seems like an amazing tool to me. (I looked them up on Reviewopedia )

#2 is another money savings tip and this one is thoroughly tried and tested by myself and several of my friends is: Transferwise! If you use my link to sign up and make your first international transfer then you will get your first transfer for free and I will get a brownie point, too. I feel really good referring you to them because we saves at least $200 this year sending money from the UK to the USA with Transferwise rather than Paypal. I still use Paypal a lot because it is so convenient but not for international money sending anymore.  (I get brownie points only after you have made a transfer.)

https://transferwise.com/u/birgitd7

Also Transferwise now offers a borderless bank account! It can hold multiple currencies. This will be really useful if you live between countries, travel a lot, perhaps receive payments in several currencies.

 

Levitation practice in San Francisco

So where is this story at now? Well. We are part way through home sitting, watering plants, keeping the place safe, feeding cats and giving them time and attention so that they feel well… And how is all that going? I think ok.

I have my first German language students, taking 2-3 classes per week each, which is a huge, giant, levitation inspiring, relief.It has been a while since I have had such interested students and it feels incredibly rewarding.

But then there is the annual housing conundrum, the issue that always causes the break in our make-or-break life in America.. (You might know that I have had a green card since about 2013, or was it 14, and since then, even more than before been trying to make a go of living here. This year was the year where I made the big announcements that “I AM MOVING TO AMERICA”.. So here I am.. But really it is all as uncertain as it ever was. But the world is changing and we need to, too.

Today I checked in on an Airbnb listing that is just horrendous: a tiny shack for $2357 (I kid you not, Jason wouldn’t believe me but you can check it for yourself here).. You have to see it to believe it. It didn’t have a proper bed but a weird single mattress home-built contraption; I am not high maintenance by any standards at all, but for that amount of money: get a bed sorted will you..  It just made me mad and cross.

Cross because that is meant to be an acceptable deal and by any logical, rational, sane conclusion it just is not even borderline acceptable. I would be satisfied with an exclamation of “well but you don’t need to rent it” IF there were affordable options anywhere on the market that were acceptable. When I say affordable I am already thinking $1200 for a little room, or $2000 for an apartment with 2 rooms (not 2 bedrooms, just 2 different rooms, where the second room is not a toilet or bathroom, so we can once in a while have some privacy. ..)

Oh and then today I got pickpocketed! They stole my hosuekeys. Such a pointless exercise. I am so annoyed. It means I will have to spend $88 + the cost of 3 extra keys ($2 each) to make up for the loss and to guarantee that the home we are housesitting is safe. Jason says it’s safe and I shouldn’t worry because I took so many detours and stops on the way home I can guarantee that nobody followed me. Oftentimes on the way home I was the only person on the street, then I stopped at 2 different cafes, not once going to the house where I was locked out because I noticed that I was locked out before stepping of the empty public transport.. So I went to another cafe to wait for Jason to come collect me by car.. Between the point of being pickpockets and finally getting home were so many stops and several hours.

How am I so sure it was pickpocketing? I passed through a part of town that is just notorious for this. And even so I thought I had my wits about me (having twice before in life been stolen from by ingeniously talented pickpockets) I could just feel something isn’t right but nothing seemed to be gone until I realised that it was … I suspect they pulled on my key string hoping that this would be attached to my wallet, which was right nearby but probably more difficult to clasp..

I am going off track entirely aren’t I?

Well, it ruined my day that’s all I say now. And it will cost me money I can only afford with great difficulty at a time when there isn’t enough to cover our essential costs.

What next?

I don’t know. How can we live here? I feel this is such a waste of time, except for my lovely German Students. But I feel there is so much struggle and putting things on hold and moving back and forth between housesitting and petsitting just to bridge the times in which we are unsure how to find adequate housing.. And really it feels like lunacy. EITHER we stay here and suck it up and option a) get some sort of office jobs where one pay check pays the cost of a room (seriously! That can’t be right) and the other person covers food.. or b) we buy a bus and live in that. But it is dangerous here.

I mean really dangerous. People are desperate and I don’t know what is going on but since arriving here 3 weeks ago (maybe less!) I heard of a 71 year old man being shot when a thief stole his camera on Twin Peaks, earlier this year apparently 2 other tourists got shot. Then they found a body on Bernal heights Park the other day! Then today 3 people got shot dead in Dolores Park, which is a neighbourhood – community park where hipsters and families go to hang out. It is almost always busy with people. 3 people just died there today. And there was another shooting today somewhere East of Golden Gate park, but near it, the person was only injured, luckily.

So I am literally too scared to take my camera out to take photos, which is so defeating the point of being here. I am meant to move my photography forward and create a business for myself. It all seemed like such low hanging fruit and then : puff.. Now I feel like such an idiot with all my camera gear here and I am literally NOT ever taking it out of the house.

I am not sure what to do right now. Stay here? I like my German Language classes a lot but where will we live? With a bunch of 20 year olds who are in all day play mode? I was, why shouldn’t they be? But it’s not where I am at right now.

How would we cover rent for a room for $1800, they pop up here and there, when employment here is easy come easy go, with no real securities?

Tell me, do you believe in me and think I can levitate here? 

Aka will I sink or will I float?

A part of me is already in a wild flurry and wondering if I should run as fast as I can before it all goes bad again.. Losing the key today made me feel like it was already going bad.. But then.. It’s 2 German lessons and I can pay for the lock to be replaced.. But then.. we needed that money for very basic living essentials..

Can I levitate here with so many weights dangling off me? 

Daring to embrace New Horizons

My partner Jason and I have lived a peripatetic, nomadic life, straddling the far western coast of California and the West Coast of Great Britain. Growing the roots of our relationship in an ever changing plant pot.

Our 8 year anniversary is coming up very soon. It will make exactly 8 years since our first kiss, under the grand finale of Venetian fireworks at the foot of one of the two famous columns on the even more famous St Marco Square. We could have no idea that from this one, unbelievably romantic moment so much happiness and struggle would emerge. Neither of us had any plans of spending 8 years in regular intercontinental movement, not spending one whole year in any one place. We only once managed to spend a completely uninterrupted 13 months together, for a seemingly endless number of years we survived long geographical breaks, the longest lasting 5 months, twice! (But then again, we also know of course we only had 8 total, so it can’t have been THAT many years.)

We needed a lot of patience, endurance, faith, stubbornness and perseverance to make it as far as we did. Not that being together is difficult at all but the real challenges are how to maintain any kind of career while subjected to the rules of immigration regulations. And just because we could technically stay in one country doesn’t always mean that the person having to leave it all behind is ready to do so yet.

Everybody always says: ‘Just make a choice’. ‘Are you not tired from all this moving around?” “Have you thought of staying in just one country?” .. well.. I won’t even begin to answer. I always have to hold back my inner lioness and snarky modes.. Duh, of course we would love to stop moving, but it isn’t always that easy!

But let’s backtrack!

8 years!

I am about to embark on a major expedition of facing my obstacles, moving countries requires untold courage as incidentally does ‘giving your dreams’.. They always make it sound oh, so, easy in those blogs and blogs and articles and motivational memes. But following a desire to be somebody specific, breaking into a career that doesn’t just work out ‘just because we are following our dream’, incredible amounts of daring and research and study make for a better chance of reaching set goals. But honestly, who has ever set up their own business!? Fair enough, when we were 20 and had no care in the world and effectively the world just winked at us and it was ok to not do things exactly properly, but that’s a different story isn’t it, once you reach your mid 30s, or let’s be honest, your 40s and beyond!

Of us it is expected that we do things ‘properly’, do business by the books, register the correct things with the correct offices, jump the paperwork hoops and in short be a grown up or face some serious financial consequences if we goof and ‘had no idea’ how accounting / filing taxes works. It’s somewhat unfair that people think that just because we are a little older we ought to somehow a) know what the hell we need to do and b) are any good at it.

When instead of socialising with friends you find yourself sitting at the computer spending 2 hours learning how to batch rename you image files, when you have another one of those ‘aha’ moments where you realise you just filed the last 5 years of images in a really stupid and difficult to process way! Knowing you are now an adult and better sort your mess out.

Hang on, what was I actually planning on telling you today!?

That’s it: I am moving to America. This time properly, or at least relatively properly: I’ll be getting my paperwork in order this time. All those things I have successfully avoided these past, nearly 8 years, of relationship with my American love bug! Getting my own bank account, sorting out a valid driving license so that I can finally get around a bit more independently without always having to wait for Jason to have some time off, maybe integrate into local life a whole lot more than I have done in the past and last but not least, because it is almost the most important: I have no choice anymore, I must find the courage to do what I love; even if I worry that I might not be good enough.

There will always be somebody more amazing than I. In the meantime I have skills to share and passion for projects to develop.

San Francisco, I am moving back. Just 7-10 more days. Not sure which day I will hop on the plane yet. Let’s see.

3 ingredients I use to feel better quickly (all free, no sales in here)

This is part 3 of a video letter I recorded for to a friend, I thought maybe it is useful for you other people, too. This part of the letter doesn’t have any personal information in it, just a little insight into how I am today coping with stressful times.

 

keywords: How to win, How to do well, how to use time wisely
How to do well and live life today: from a letter to my friend

Choosing to direct the focus only on what makes body and mind: healthier, stronger and more knowledgable to conquer life hurdles, anxieties, uncertainties etc.