Monday, November 12, 2012

Pick One Thing And Make It Better

I've been a little scarce around here of late. Some of that has been the general craziness caused by the collision of budget/goals time (at my work), a major release (at Mr. Snarky's work), potty-training (have I mentioned how much I suck at potty-training?) and the tougher than anticipated transition to Kindergarten (which is going sooo much better now). But I've also been feeling a little blocked. I finally figured out that the problem is that my emotions are unusually raw and at the surface. I'm not sure why, but recent news stories have hit harder than I'm used to, even post-motherhood. I was getting overwhelmed by all the bad things that happen in this world, and not really processing things well.

I can usually write my way through things like this, but this time, I didn't want to write about it. Any time I tried, it just made me feel worse. So I wrote about other things, or I didn't write at all.

Then, a few weeks ago, Mr. Snarky and I got to take a couple nights away from the kids. My parents came and watched the kids, and Mr. Snarky and I headed to LA, to see a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. (As an aside- if you've never seen a concert at the Hollywood Bowl and get the chance to fix that, take it. It is a truly special venue.) I was sitting there- in a box, because I thought that if we were going to do the Bowl, we should really do it- looking at the stars, enjoying the music, and thinking life is good. And it is. Life is terrible and good, all rolled up into a big mess. And you never know which bit of the mess you're going to get at any one time. It could be an undeniably awesome bit. It could be an unbelievably horrible bit. Most likely, it will be something in between.

And, trite as it is- and believe me, the rest of this post is going to be on the trite side- the answer just came to me. I realized two things:

1. The only hedge against the bad times is to enjoy the good times while you have them.

Me moping around feeling crappy wasn't going to make anyone else's life easier or make them happier. It wasn't going to fix any of the world's problems. It also wasn't going to protect me from getting one of the unbelievably terrible bits of the mess of life next time I stuck my hands in. So I should just let go of the bad stuff, and really enjoy the wonderful life I have right now.

Yes, this is obvious. But apparently, I'd forgotten it.

2. I should pick one thing, and make it better.

No, moping about wouldn't fix anything. But neither would throwing up my hands and declaring the world to be irredeemably screwed up and to have problems too big to solve. There are some really big problems. A lot of them. But I don't have to fix all of them to do some good. I can pick one thing. And I don't even have to completely fix it. I can just try to make it better.

It took me awhile to figure out what to do with that second insight. I mulled over several ideas, but ultimately rejected them as unrealistic given the parameters of my current life. But then I figured it out. I've got ads on this blog, and I do the Amazon Affiliate program. I do that because I am interested in how people might make money off of the content they produce on the internet. I'm interested in that partially because I think we're living in a time of great change for people who make content (and software) and I just want to try to understand the new rules in general, and partially because I have some ideas that I wouldn't mind monetizing at some point, if I could understand enough about the new rules to figure out how.

Therefore, I want to keep my ads and my affiliate links. I may even try some new things out. But they don't make me anywhere near enough money to really matter in our household budget, so I haven't been taking them very seriously. However, they don't make completely trifling amounts of money, either. The money could do some small amount of good in the right hands.

A bottom that never needed a diaper we didn't have
So I'm going to donate that money to the right hands. Since the majority of the money is in my Amazon account, the easiest and most cost effective thing to do with it is to use it to buy something on Amazon and send it to a charity. I've decided to send things to Home Start, a local charity that works with families who are at risk for child abuse or just having a hard time making it.  They get one of our "regular" charity donations, too, and run an adopt a family program we participate in each Christmas. (If you're a San Diegan- they also take donations of gently used kids' clothes and toys, and unlike many places, will take strollers and the like.)

I'm going to use my ad money to buy them supplies to be given to their client families. It will probably be diapers and wipes, because I think my "one thing" will be the fact that a lot of families can't afford the diapers they need, or are forced to make terrible choices between diapers and food. At my current rate of cash accumulation, I think I'll be able to send them a box of diapers or wipes once every couple of months. It isn't huge, but it isn't nothing, and I've almost got everything set up to send my first donation. I don't have to solve the problem, but I can make it better.


  1. YAY, that's a nice thing to pick. So should I go click all your ads now? ;) I'll try to remember it when I shop on Amazon.

    We are at Target buying diapers *all* the time, since apparently they don't carry the HUGE box of Size 1s we need. I wonder if our local food bank takes donations of diapers - I wish there was a relatively easy way to drop these off somewhere.

    1. Ha! No, if people change how they react to the ads or links, then it will mess with my attempts to understand how people can make money on the internet. :)

      Most food banks take diapers. Some places also have diaper banks. If you click on the link about diaper need above, it will take you to the national organization for diaper banks, which can help you check to see if there is a diaper bank in your area.

  2. Engineering Elf6:15 AM

    Yay, for finding a way to help others out a bit. As a cloth diapering family I can't help but to wonder if families in need would find cloth diapers to be okay, since they get washed and reused they don't run out as often as disposables.

    1. Actually, a lot of families who need free diapers can't use cloth, because they are doing laundry at a laundromat, and a lot of laundromats don't allow diapers. Also, a lot of day cares won't accept them.

    2. Engineering Elf11:34 AM

      Interesting, I have an email in to my local diaper bank inquiring if it would work for SOME of their families.

      Luckily we have been laundromat free, but reading that link and hearing about people trying to clean out disposable diapers instantly made me think cloth, cloth which can be cleaned even at home in a sink in a pinch.

      We did have a problem with maybe half of the in home daycares I talked to about cloth diapering so I can see that. The one we went with was actually pleased to be using cloth since she supplied the diapers for the other kids and ours she didn't have to pay for (she didn't have to wash them or rinse them either we did all that).

    3. If your food bank doesn't want them, maybe try to find your locality's equivalent to Home Start. Since they work more extensively with client families, they might know of one who wants to do cloth diapering but can't because of the initial expense.

      I think CA now has a law that requires day cares to accept cloth diapers, but I am not sure. We used disposables and some gDiapers (although not as many of those as we should have- we got lazy).

  3. Anonymous6:30 AM

    That's great!

    re: engineering elf-- cloth diapers are much less attractive and useful if you have to take them to a laundromat or use a laundry service

    I'm currently running on fumes and not getting anything done, two things I hate. If I'm going to be running on fumes I at least want to have been productive while doing it. Instead I'm battling gremlins. Can't do any real work until I finish scanning and fixing my external harddrive (this after spending a gazillion hours on the phone with HP about my new desktop that was supposed to replace my laptop that kept shutting itself down when it tried to data process and play a video at the same time, except the desktop shuts down just randomly for no reason, and the laptop literally fried (well, smoked itself if we're being literal) itself doing nothing last week.) Also all of our sinks are leaking and one of them is completely out of commission from DH trying to fix it and we haven't had time to call the plumber much less be there for the plumber. And I've burned a ton of personal capital at work the past two weeks and am a bit tired of being told I'm doing things wrong. Ugh, maybe I should go back to bed. (Instead I will work on the servicey things that I can do without my computer.)

    1. Oh, that sucks. I hope the computer gods smile on you soon. And the plumbing gods. I HATE dealing with plumbing issues.

  4. Post election, the ads following me to your site are now from Zappos, not Mitt Romney. Too bad I already bought my winter boots...

  5. Great idea, Cloud!

  6. This post really struck a chord with me, I'm taking a day off my classes today as I just cant seem to keep it all together. A few silly little things just really sent me over the edge yesterday and I just need a day to get back on track.

    Very good points and very generous of you to donate the money. I'm so drained that every time I try to think about things like this, I just start getting teary!

    I'm at a bit of a crossroads with my business and I'm just trying to make sense of it all and make things viable for me and my assistant, really hard work! I like the sound of making one thing better though...

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