I have been struggling with my blog over who owns whom lately. I have been doing a lot of work on my relationship with myself over the last year and my priorities have shifted. I am now taking more time to do things that I enjoy, especially time that I have previously used to zone out online reading clickbait from Facebook. I have come to value my time more and be more productive. My house has gotten into better shape as I have kept up on the chores better, I have been publishing this blog three times a week, and I have picked up my crafting again.
The issue really comes down to how much time I want to spend on my computer. I have long wrestled with internet addiction. I live a fairly isolated life, and yet, I crave social interaction. The isolation is a natural result of my chosen lifestyle (rural, SAHM), and so I have long turned to the internet for my socialization. Recently, though, I have started building more real life relationships. I am stepping up to coordinate the church quilting group which meets weekly, I have started attending a weekly crafting night at a local yarn store, and I am trying to interact with my neighbors a little bit more.
The life I fantasize about does not involve much internet. Yes, check email once or twice a day, but mostly I want to be able to just be. I want to sit in the living room and knit or hand sew in the evenings after dinner while my husband does something equally quiet in the same room with me. He isn’t really a newspaper reader or ship-in-a-bottle builder, but that sort of thing. We would each do our own projects but be together at the same time and have pleasant conversation as the mood strikes. I want to do crafts during the day, or home improvements, or massive cooking sessions. The internet just doesn’t fit in with those plans.
Addicted to a toxic lover
For me, the internet is a toxic lover. He lures me in with the idea that I “have” to get on to do some not-truly-important-to-survival task, such as checking email, or looking up some 80’s song lyrics, or writing a blog post. Then, I get seduced into sharing some random thought or picture on Facebook, and then I’m totally doomed. I have even gone so far as to write rules on our router to prevent me from accessing clickbait sites (and a rule for the internet at all) during certain hours. I do not need to stay up until midnight reading about 15 terrifying things teachers have heard their students say, or 20 nerdy actors who grew up to be really hot. It steals my time, my sleep, my productivity, and my happiness.
I am so much happier and productive when I spend those hours (yes, hours — sometimes as high as 10-12 in a single day) crafting or cleaning or just reading and even sleeping. And yet, I have to get my fix. And worse is when I come to believe that in order to earn any money from home I have to do it online.
I so desperately want to help my husband with financially supporting us. He works so hard to provide for us. I receive child support for the kids, and I do some babysitting on the side. I want to do more, though. I started this blog originally with the idea that I could earn money somehow. Yes, I wanted an outlet for my random philosophical thoughts and my slow, frugal, deliberate ideas and skills, but lurking in the background was the refrain, “You need to monetize it. This costs money and it has to pay for itself. We can’t afford [that horrible phrase that was burned into my brain as a child for every single thing] for you to spend money on this blog and not have it pay for itself.”
I applied for a job over the summer and was offered it. I was invited to join the crew at the local supermarket making $8/hour. I haven’t made less than $10/hour since 2000. Even when I worked as a temp I made more than that. $10 is the rate I charge for the most basic of my sewing skills. $8 was an insult. My husband told me that day that I was worth more than that staying home. I cannot express the effect that had on me. My husband valued me and my domestic skills. He values having a hot, homemade dinner every night, even if I am late getting it on the table sometimes. He values my keeping his dresser full of clean clothes, even if it gets low sometimes. I have value as a homemaker.
Saving v. earning
But homemaking doesn’t bring in the dollars. It saves them, yes. My hours at home mean that we spend much less money on food, on gas, etc. We spend nothing at all on daycare. Our electric bill and heating bills are a little higher because the house is occupied all day, but on balance, my staying home saves us much more money.
I have tried several ways to earn money from home. I have tried working for Amazon Turk, but that pays for piecework, and I was earning about $0.50/hour on average. Not worth my time. It kept me busy, but gave me jack squat in return. I tried an Etsy store, but I didn’t really have the money to put together enough inventory to stock it well enough to attract any customers. Not one sale. The internet promises lots of money, but I have been unable to capitalize on it.
My ideal life is one in which I can bring in money myself, but without selling my soul. I want to be able to live in the middle of nowhere so we can have our farmlet, and I want to live off grid. I want to live a simple life, close to nature. That requires at least income, though. And where does one find the income to support that life? Everyone tells me from the internet. Build a coaching business, become a writer, sell your stuff online. I can’t live offline and online at the same time.
And so my wrestling with this blog. I do enjoy writing posts, and making the pictures to illustrate it. I do like to spark conversation, though, with only 20 readers or less, that doesn’t happen often. I do like to hear that someone really liked a recipe I posted or found my Sunday post to be deeply thought provoking.
I don’t like feeling obligated to my blog. I don’t like feeling required to write on some schedule. I struggle to find things to write about in my Thankful Thursday posts. It isn’t that I’m not thankful for things in my life. I am. But it can be hard to write 300 words or more on a single thing that I am grateful for every single week. And really, it is just as vital to be thankful for the little things in life — a cup of steaming hot chocolate, watching the kids build a snowman after a storm, fondling some luxurient yarn — as it is the bigger things. But it is a real challenge to write at least 300 words about a cup of hot chocolate. A challenge that I really don’t think is worth the effort.
And so, I guess it all boils down to my cutting back on my blog postings. I want Slow Frugal Deliberate to be authentic. I want it to be about improving your life. I want it to improve my life, and right now, with the schedule I have maintained, it is taking more than it is giving me. It is hard to know what is useful to people when there is so little feedback. I am grateful for the comments that people have published, but they don’t really guide me in knowing what is most useful to people. I feel like I am working in the dark.
I will continue to post, but I won’t have a set schedule anymore. I will post when I feel like it. When I am inspired. When I find something special that I want to share. When a concept begs to be put out there. When I can feel authentic.