Quarreling with blessings.

I am at war with my body. That was the thought that came to me toward the end of the massage I had on Friday. Sometimes the oddest things come to me when I’m not focusing on a dozen things at once.

Oddest, and usually the most apt. When my defenses are down, the truth sneaks up.

I’d been talking with the massage therapist about the events of the past few months. Chief among them was my sense of shame over being so damned tired. I felt that I should be completely over the gall-bladder surgery by now.

Sure, I pushed it too hard the first week or so. Yes, I was already carrying a cumulative load of fatigue and trying to meet too many deadlines. Somehow it came across as some private perversity that made me refuse to heal. Or maybe I was just a big whiner.

The massage therapist said pretty much what the Group Health doctor and nurse had said: You had surgery. Your body underwent the loss of an organ and has been busy ever since healing the incisions and the internal trauma, and adjusting to life without a gall bladder. For extra credit, she explained the immune system and the stresses that healing creates.

“You’re not a wimp,” she concluded.

Then why did I feel like one? Because I’m at war with my body.

I ask more of it each year although it has less and less to give. I refuse to slow down. I hesitate to say “no” to any opportunity to write, to be interviewed, to contribute to a project. In short, I don’t believe in health if it interrupts my plans.

A too-crowded life

It may sound like I’m quarreling with blessings: Pity me, for way too many good things are happening in my life. I understand that many people would love to have this so-called problem.

But I’ve been on a dead run for years. I started out tired and the more things I take on, the more tired I become. Too often I meet deadlines at the expense of a personal life. Too often, writing is my life.

The punch line? All those opportunities are sending lots more readers to this site – right when I’m too drained to produce stuff worth reading. Consistently, anyway. Of my last 14 posts, three were roundups of work I’d done elsewhere and seven were weekly giveaway announcements. Not good.

Surviving and Thriving has always been a hybrid, but I like keeping personal finance in the forefront. Trouble is, I now have to come up with five ideas per week for my new main job — the Frugal Cool blog at MSN Money — and one mega-topic every other week for Get Rich Slowly.

What’s left, idea-wise, for my own site? And if I do come up with a fresh(ish) topic, will I be too fried to write it?

Painted into a corner

I don’t want Surviving and Thriving to become too introspective. My navel isn’t that interesting. No one’s is. And I definitely don’t want it to be only about the Zany Things that happen to me. Yes, I’ve had some peculiar experiences at the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition or during a frugal trip to the U.K. These make for fun reads. (I hope.)

But it’s pretty tough to sustain a day-in-the-life blog because some days will likely be Not Particularly Zany. Besides, I like sharing money tips.

I’ve got to dance with them what brung me, so I can’t let my work for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly slip even a little bit. Yet I don’t want to let days and days go by without putting up something new and useful here.

When other authors go a couple of weeks between posts, I stop reading them. Thus I’m acutely aware of what prolonged radio silence can do to one’s readership.

Decisions must be made, though, because I’m past the point where sleep rests me.

Stoics R us?

Logic would dictate that I give up at least one major commitment. Logic would further dictate that Surviving and Thriving be the commitment that goes bye-bye, since it’s bringing in only a small fraction of my total income.

But I don’t want to stop writing my site. Here I can do whatever I want. Show me another employer who would let me put up posts like “Who would Jesus strafe?” or “Walking around in your underpants: Sometimes it’s good to be single.”

Another coping mechanism would be to stop traveling so much. Yet it’s hard to decline the opportunities that come my way, especially when they are business expenses (three conferences in one year!) or house-sitting jobs.

For example, I’ll be spending almost two weeks in New York City this summer thanks to an apartment-sitting gig. Since New Jersey is right next door, I’ll tack on a visit to my dad, my brother and my Aunt Dot.

If I turn down an opportunity like that, will the chance come again? Maybe, maybe not.

A couple of situations in my personal life are also muddying the waters. I’m not quite ready to write about those, however.

When choices lead to collapse

After telling me that I wasn’t a wimp the massage therapist added, “You may be a stoic. But you don’t have to be.”

She’s right. I can choose to change. I’ve touched on this subject before, and created a plan to improve my life. It worked for a little while. But then my job at MSN Money morphed into a daily deadline and I had to have surgery. Now I’m at least as weary as I was before.

Back when I was a newspaper journalist I freelanced a lot on the side and was also responsible for all the housework, child care, cooking, shopping, home repair and snow-shoveling. Once or twice a year I would get really sick and have to spend a few days in bed. My physician noted this was a common dynamic among working mothers: Overdo and overdo until they could no longer go on; collapse; sort-of heal; start all over again. She urged me to find a saner way of living.

I didn’t. I still haven’t. The only difference, besides being divorced and no longer responsible for a child, is that I am now a contractor vs. an employee. Contractors don’t get sick days.

My exhaustion is due to choices that I’ve made, not to circumstances that fell on me like an anvil on a cartoon character. Unfortunately, those choices have left me feeling just about as flattened as Wile E. Coyote.

It’s hard for me to admit that I can no longer handle all this. My life has mostly been about fitting 28 hours’ worth of work into a 24-hour day. In midlife, I have to acknowledge that this is no longer the way I want to operate.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve received. I just wish that blessings didn’t so often come in bundles. More to the point, I wish that life weren’t so often about choosing what to keep and what to set aside.

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  1. Beautifully written. Loved this one. I remember you telling me this when we met at blogher, how you’re always feeling “behind.” While I don’t always comment, I love your S & T posts.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Kathryn C: Thanks. I appreciate it.
      Any chance I’ll be seeing you at FinCon12 in Denver???

  2. Midlife is a shocking struggle and you’ve captured it. Love the visual of Wile E. Coyote! So true. This is one fan that will keep checking in because – you capture so much of my life. Thank you!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Wende: Seriously, life rolls by like the Roadrunner and too often I feel hammered by various Acme devices.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  3. Suzanne

    You have to do what is right for you but I sure would be sad to see this S&T site go. I have followed you for a long time here and enjoy your stories and advice. I dont do frugal cool unless you post it on Facebook (still cant get the rss feed) but certainly understand your loyalty to msn (thats how i originally found you , the living large on 12k story – or something like that). Anyhow you have my support and best rah rah wishes!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Suzanne: There isn’t an RSS feed for Frugal Cool, and there won’t be one. Management wants people to get in the habit of coming to the site each day vs. reading it in e-mail form. I’ll continue to post it on Facebook.
      Thanks for your kind words. My hope is to be able to do the site, but to do fewer posts or shorter ones.

  4. When I was almost fifty-years-old, I realized I could no longer stay up too late, get up too early, and still function properly. I was becoming ill too often. since my grandmother died of Alzheimers, I thought my failing memory and ill-temper were the start of decline into senility. It seems I am on the same trajectory for other reasons. But, when I started realizing I could not function on less sleep anymore, I went to bed earlier. I had a prof friend who would not give in to this aspect of aging and being overworked at the same time. I was blunt but kind in offering her my opinion as she was sharing her feelings and looking for feedback.

    When I had thyroid surgery (half taken out), it took me over six months to regain my strength. I was whiny, stressed, felt like I could not cope any longer and generally leaned lots on a new guy in my life. He understood since he met me ten days after surgery. The more I let go of things, the better I felt. My body could recover. You need to do that too.

    I had not noticed your blog was not the same. You are on my blog roll, so I just see you have posted. I don’t have to come to you to see what you are doing.

    Maybe you could just limp along here on S/T and NOT stress about it. We won’t really notice you are limping as long as you give prizes…LOL…just kidding!!! I did notice that your posts were not as often, but I was going to be patient.

    You say you chose all, that nothing just befell you. How about the sprained ankle that you could not rest for healing? Gall bladder surgery? You, like all of us, make choices in the context of our lives. Often the choices are neither acceptable or what we would really like as a choices. You are not choosing to run yourself into the ground with work. But, the reality is that we all have limited satisfactory choices. You need to make a living!

    It seems this blog is your recreation blog. So, you need it to let go and say weird and hilarious things sometimes. If you leave, I think you will always regret it somewhere deep down inside. (I could not post pictures on my blog for a week and became depressed and lonely…lol) It was weird how much I missed blogging-with-pictures. But, you know the decision is yours alone. Unless we can scream and cry and beg you to stay as we hold onto your ankles, we will abide by your decision.

    I am facing being homeless in less than ten days. So, stress is always with me. It feels like I will never be rested again in my life. I sympathize with your feelings and thoughts. However, I think your emotions right now are driven by the post-surgery recovery period. Maybe if you give yourself permission to spend less energy on this blog and feel okay about it, the stress will leave as you recover from the surgery.

    Just throw us anything and we will not complain. The guy at the hotel in UK and the man auction in Alaska is worth the wait…lol.

    Another thought–my daughter had a miscarriage and shortly thereafter had gall bladder surgery. I mentioned to her that maybe the toxins from the gall bladder aborted the baby. Maybe the tiredness you felt long before surgery was the result of the gall bladder playing havoc with your body. Maybe? I could be wrong about both of your situations.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Practical Parsimony: I’m sorry to hear that the house snafu hasn’t been fixed yet. Just sent up a prayer that it will be.
      Gall bladders are just storehouses for bile. The stones that form aren’t made up of toxins. But getting used to life without one is apparently a process, rather than instant relief. I need to be kinder to myself — and that, too, is a process.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  5. “I don’t want Surviving and Thriving to become too introspective. My navel isn’t that interesting.” Hilarious!! That’s what keeps me coming back, but I do understand your fatigue.

    Why not just cut back how often you post here and let the readers know? Continue to do your bigger paying jobs, but keep this as your connection to the readers and sanity (blow off steam here!)….I would love that! I already read you on Get Rich and Frugal Cool so it’s not like I don’t get to read your articles often.

    I’d rather have you cut back here than leave completely!

    Good luck!

  6. teinegurl

    I forgive you and understand if you want to close this blog . I read you on the other sites. Sometimes let go & let god. This was your baby but now it’s all grown up take care donna pls. slow down

    • Donna Freedman

      @Teinegurl: I don’t want to close it…but I might have to scale back, at least for a little while. That sounds too kiss-of-death, though, since some people will drift away if posts become less frequent.
      On the other hand, they’ve been a lot less frequent lately but readers have hung in there. Maybe they will continue to do so.
      Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Weird. How do you manage to write about things that are exactly what I happen to be thinking about…all the time?

    Y’know what? Sometimes we just have to STOP for awhile. Take something out (uhm…other than the gall bladder) and set it aside and let it rest, while we let ourselves rest.

    I’m about to deep-six the first decently-paying client the sidekick & I have landed in a long, long time, because he’s batshit crazy and is making unreasonable demands (like…he seriously thinks I’m going to ghostwrite his book in 10 weeks). Do we need the money? Let me count the ways! Do we need the nervous breakdown? Let us count the ways not.

    Meanwhile I’m teaching three courses (sidekick and three subcontractors are grading the most obnoxious of the papers), keeping two blogs alive, working toward a real estate license, wondering how to get a job in said real estate industry, applying futilely for every other job that comes my way, trying to compile an e-book, copyediting detective novels, repositioning the editorial business as a packager for electronic & POD books to be used as marketing tools for small businesses, taking care of a house and a pool on a a quarter-acre of land, and incidentally wrangling two wacked-out dogs.

    Fatigue? Yes.

    This afternoon while studying the real estate textbook I fell asleep on the sofa (think it was the chapter on the grade-school arithmetic billed as “real estate math…”). Stayed passed out until the dog barked me back to consciousness, an unknown number of hours later.

    When I woke up, I felt so. much. BETTER. Just an hour or two of extra rest made a vast difference. Wouldn’t have had that rest if I hadn’t decided to quit working on the madman client’s project until a meeting of the minds can be arranged (or not).

    So if there’s a point in this, maybe it’s this: Take ONE THING out of the craziness — prob’ly doesn’t matter which thing — and make it stop. Doesn’t have to stop forever. But for the nonce, quit working on it and quit thinking about it and don’t answer the phone to anyone who wants to talk about it.

    Just stop for awhile.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Funny: Just reading your site makes me tired. I will take your advice…
      Illegitimi non carborundum.

  8. A better way to fight fatigue is to sleep a lot to force your body to heal! It’s a more subtle war!

    If you do want to post more regularly, Laura Vanderkam seems to have done a pretty good job keeping both a personalish blog and doing a lot of freelance. She does some reposting articles from her past published work (sometimes far in the past) as well as smaller commentaries linked to things she has recently written elsewhere. And once a week she has a page of links to where you can find her writing across the internets. (Of course, she generally gets a lot fewer comments than you do! So erratic doesn’t seem to be hurting you much at all!)

  9. I too am struggling with healing and trying to fit everything I used to fit in, but my body just isn’t able for it. Its so hard to let something go that you care about. I personally love when you link to another post you’ve written, I don’t see it as a cop out at all. 5 ideas a week is a lot!!!
    I live in Europe and while out work life balance could be better, in the US its insanely out of synch. I get 27 holiday days a year plus 8 bank holidays I work full time, 40 hours a week, and still struggle to fit in my chores, social life and other stuff I want to do (read, get healthier, relax).
    I wish you the best of luck in getting your balance right. Im trying to do it too!

  10. I have been reading Frugal Cool every day and it is really good. I was beginning to wonder how you were keeping up with it all. We’d all rather you cut back to occasional posts here than run yourself ragged. Believe me, we get it. Many blogs only post once a week or sporadically. The whole advantage of working from home is to have more time for a life, not less. Do what is best for you and be well!

  11. Hard as it is, you need to replenish yourself (although I love your writing, and would miss it greatly if you gave up this blog). That being said, it is absolutely essential to take care of yourself (something we’re all much better telling other people to do than actually doing ourselves!). Best wishes as you grapple with difficult decisions. For what it is worth, I would check back with this blog even if you didn’t post regularly–I enjoy it enough to not give up on it–and I’m pretty positive that I’m not the only one who would keep the faith!

  12. There’s no crime in scaling back…remember what the flight attendants say-put your own oxygen on before you try to help others. We’re here, and we’ll be here however often you’re able to post. I hope you start feeling better soon!

  13. IMHO you need to take care of yourself FIRST. Those of us “faithful” followers will be here when you can be here. As much as I love your blog posts, I also follow you on Get Rich and Frugal Cool. Do the gigs that pay the bills, take the trips (you deserve them) and get some rest. Come back here when you want to share or blow off steam. I’ll be here.

  14. SherryH

    I wish I had more to offer than, “I’ll still check in, even if you’re posting sporadically. Take the time you need to heal, chill, recharge – whatever your body & soul need time for.” S&T is one of my favorite blogs, and I’d miss the combination of solid advice and casual tone.

    Would it help to think of some downtime as systems maintenance?

    > I am now a contractor vs. an employee. Contractors don’t get sick days.

    Ain’t that the truth! But you need to be able to have them, and so I guess, as the boss, you have to be the one to build them in. Maybe?

  15. jestjack

    This is troubling…I always thought if you “did what you loved…you wouldn’t work a day in your life”. …LOL. Unfortunately our bodies know before our mind that it is time to set limits. Perhaps you are just tired of writing the same old thing…The story you wrote from the UK and the experience you had sharing space with strangers…was a hoot! Perhaps a bit of sharing about your daily trials and tribulations in acquiring goods and services. You did share that your gall bladder surgery was $10K and thanks to your insurance you only had to pay $2K. But how did you come to get insurance…the hassle….the naysayers..etc.
    I certainly understand your “pooped” sometimes but think of all the folks that would love to be in your position with a following waiting to read your latest essay. I would think you could write an entire story on why ink jet cartridges are so expensive or why in your/our youth basic pens were 19 cents a piece but today one can get 10 of basically the same pen for 19 cents or that the aluminum can you drank your diet Coke out of today will be more than likely recycled and have a new life as a new soda can in less than 60 days. Maybe you are just in a bit of rut…..I would think this travel to NY would provide plenty of “fodder” and may even recharge those batteries!!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Jestjack: That idea sounds great but is not accurate. I do what I love, but it is a lot of work.
      It’s kind of like saying, “Invest in real estate and you can quit your job and live off the rents.” As a landlord, you know how much work is involved maintaining a property.
      Ditto writing. You don’t just scribble a few lines and quit for the day. You have to:
      Come up with ideas. Just for MSN Money that’s five every week, no matter what — and the editor doesn’t always approve each one. If he doesn’t like two of them, then that means coming up with two more. They have to be extremely focused and offer a specific strategy on how to save money. (Those that aren’t a match will likely end up here, or as guest posts on other sites. Yes, I do guest posts in my spare time. Ahem.)
      Research. Sometimes that’s easy. Sometimes it isn’t.
      Write! Organizing the material so that it flows instead of galumphs is work. People who say, “Oh, I love to write — it must be nice to get paid to do it!” do not have a clear idea of what’s involved.
      Deal with edits. If you have an editor, that is. If you don’t, then you need to self-edit.
      Approve and answer comments. For example, it’s probably going to take at least 10 minutes for me to read and answer your note. That’s not a complaint; I love feedback. But responding thoughtfully requires time and effort.
      Promote your work. Through social media, through e-mailing fellow writers to ask them take a look, through doing those guest posts and interviews. Here’s an example: The day of the first Frugal Cool post, I hit “publish” and then raced for the bus to the local National Public Radio affiliate. Late in the afternoon of the previous day I had been invited to be on “Talk of the Nation.” Preparing some notes and doing final edits on the inaugural post kept me up late that night. Naturally I was delighted to appear on the program, but getting myself there and back ate up about four hours of my workday.
      Read other sites. Leaving comments on other people’s work tends to lead new readers to your own site. It may also give you starting points for other articles, e.g., “Over on I Pick Up Pennies, the blogger is writing about the Accumulation Of Stuff — here’s what I think about that.”
      Dealing with mail. I get many, many press releases. Usually I can tell within the first couple of paragraphs whether or not it’s a match for what I do. Usually it isn’t, but sometimes it is — so I keep reading them.
      Dealing with proposals. Would I like to write a guest post? Would I be available for an interview? Would I like to contribute to a project? In theory, I’d love to. In practice? I need to become a lot more selective.
      Keep coming up with ideas. In my newspapering days we called this “feeding the beast.” It’s relentless. If you’re a recreational blogger you can take a few days off from writing, or put up an easy post like “It’s Friday! What are your plans for the weekend?” or “If your dream job became available tomorrow at half the pay you’re making now, would you take it?” I can’t do that at my two paying gigs. The MSN Money editor likes me to be at least five (and preferably more) ideas ahead at all times. It’s like a baseball player who has to pitch and field. And incidentally, it isn’t just a matter of stating an idea — it’s developing an idea thoroughly, usually in several paragraphs, so that the editor knows exactly what you’ll be writing.
      Yes, I love my job. But it is by no means easy. That is, if I want to do it properly — and I do.
      Thanks for being such a consistent reader and commenter.

  16. Chris D.

    I look forward to your S&T blog entries, and your turns at GRS, and of course Frugal Cool, but I know that it takes energy to heal up after surgery. Please don’t feel guilty about needing some time to restore yourself. As other commenters have said, your loyal readers will be waiting for you. Don’t compromise your health out of a sense of obligation.

  17. Donna, you are wonderful! I love your writing. Please don’t be down on yourself anymore for not being able to do everything. I know that after my gallbladder surgery I felt tired for weeks. I’ve heard the anesthesia has something to do with it, too.

    My advice is to do whatever you need to do to heal. If you possibly can, take at least a couple of weeks non-working vacation. I learned the hard way that without your health you have nothing!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Kathy: I’d love to take a non-working vacation, but that’s not possible right now. I’m a contractor and my contract says “five posts a week.” To take a week off, I’d have to work extra-hard the week before to do an additional five posts.
      But I’ll do what I can to heal. I’m heading up to Alaska for May and June, and will ask people who want to visit to come see me vs. me trying to get over to see them. I’m also looking forward to sitting in my niece’s back yard watching the kids play, and sitting on the sofa with my hostess watching “Dr. Who” and sharing small amounts of really good dark chocolate. Why, yes, I am easily amused.
      Thanks for your kind words, and for reading Surviving and Thriving.

  18. Oh, man, do I ever hear you loud and clear! I was in the newspaper business years ago, and blogging, much like news, is a lot like trying to dig out of a black hole with a spoon.

    I think the idea generation is probably the most challenging, followed by finding a time to write when my kids aren’t underfoot. The worst is when you have a block of time to write and the words just don’t come. Ugh.

    I love all your writing, and will follow you wherever you go, so my advice would be to cut back where you can and take care of yourself first! I’m (slowly) learning that I can’t be all things to all people, and that I NEED to take breaks or I’m no good to anyone. And it’s making me a happier person. Hope you can find a groove that works for you!

  19. Donna,
    Take care of yourself and write fewer posts for S & T. I will keep reading even if they are fewer and further between and many people will. You received a lot of support and good advice so I won’t belabor the point but take care of yourself first!

  20. Donna, do what you need to to take your life back, because without that, nothing else will matter. I read your other stuff too, so I will understand if you need to let this go…but I’m hoping that you’ll be able to just cut back and write here less frequently, because your life observations are wonderful to read! Once you make the decision, you’ve pretty much won half of the battle already. Most important, is that you take care of yourself. I wish you peace with whatever decision you make 🙂

  21. Echoing Funny: I have been thinking precisely this. Exactly this. Except I was literally so tired I couldn’t say it months. Still can’t. So I’ve left my blog, in some ways my therapy outlet, limp along, nearly silent, for this whole time. I actually prescribed 15 hours of sleep per night for myself this weekend in a lame attempt to reclaim some sense of energy and life. It 15% worked.

    Pain’s still there, tired still there but I’m not walking like an extra from Night of the Living Dead.

    Honestly, I would read whatever you write here, when you write it. You’re not going to lose me as a reader (oh so valuable me) just because you took a little longer between posting in order to schedule some rest in. I would encourage you to if that’s what allows you to let the brain lay fallow enough to recuperate. You and we all need some balance and you should be able to take advantage of at least this part of your self employment – giving yourself a bit of time off on your own blog even if your other contracts don’t allow for it.

    My best to you and if there’s anything I can do to help, just holler.

  22. Ro in San Diego

    You remain my main go-to gal for all things frugal. I like your posts and would read them anywhere. I don’t mind going to Frugal Cool to see what you have to say on a given topic.

    Aging doesn’t have to be a bad thing – we just have to work with what we’ve got, even if it’s not what we used to have to work with – a new reality.

    I hope you feel better soon and I will continue to read your work wherever you happen to be.

  23. I am agreeing with the post-once-a-week pack here on S&T. And definitely let us know where you are the rest of the writing time (besides the usual suspects, which are already on my “favorites” button.) I agree with FaM (another favorite), gaze at your navel and take one thing out. But please take care of yourself!

  24. lostAnnfound

    I look forward to reading your posts here and even if they were only once in a while I would still be coming back here because to me what you write is worth waiting for.

  25. priskill

    Oh, I do hear you — and your body really has had an ordeal with surgery, so you likely feel WAY exhausted on top of rushed and anxious about ideas. The massage therapist is right. I so echo everyone here — make Donna happy! If that means a couple less postings here, so be it. We’ll wait because it’s worth it. And you can always quickly check in here with a sentence or two directing us toward your other venues followed by a witty riposte. Or chocolate giveaway, just sayin’.

    Alaska sounds exactly right — both relaxing and doubtless fodder for many articles and clever apercus. You can heal and gestate and eat dark chocolate. Whenever I am feeling tired and low, it’s tempting to think this is the new normal — but it isn’t. You are still reeling from the the assault on your body — no small thing! Some time with moose and nephew should make a big diff. And, even if this is the wrong time to say it, Congratulations on your many successes! It makes sense that even success requires adjustments . . . anyway, whatever you decide, your fans are here rooting for you.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Priskill: If by “gestate” you mean “brainchildren,” I’m with you. Otherwise? That ship has sailed.
      Hanging out with nephews, friends and, yes, ungulates does sound appealing. The question is making sure I don’t spend all my time rushing around. My last trip there (November and December) I was already dragging and saw far fewer people than I wanted. Of course, that time of year is pretty fraught due to the holidays; summers are more relaxed and the long days mean people have more energy.
      Here’s hoping the light stimulates me as well. I’m picturing a couple of get-togethers to which I invite the friends I want to see; one-stop shopping, so to speak. That plus the fact I am not renting a car will ensure that I don’t spend too much time running from place to place.
      Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for reading.

  26. Swimmer

    Hi Donna,

    So sorry to hear about your stress and energy levels – if you can, try one of my favourite web sites about self care and trying to juggle all the tasks/people in your life. msmindbody dot com. You may already know about Kate Hanley but she writes about how to fit some time to just breathe and catch up with yourself. I agree with the other posters about just giving yourself some time to rest, heal and relax but totally understand about paying bills. Hang in – we’ll wait for you 🙂

  27. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself fully recovered and feeling strong. So long as you have your health, the possibilities are endless.

  28. Nicole Berry

    So sorry to hear about how frustratingly slow your recovery has been–surgery is definitely the pits! I love how some of your readers have suggested ideas for you-they’ve inspired me, as well. Donna, you’re in Seattle (if I’m not mistaken), you’ll be heading back to Alaska soon and then onto New York. I imagine there must be like-minded bloggers in those other states–why not compare how frugal lifestyles differ in each place? You could interview the bloggers certain days and comparson shop others… It could be extended through the course of a week, I would think. Just a thought. 🙂

    Get well soon. And put those feet up for a change!

  29. The Cookie Monster now tells kids that sweets like cookies are “sometimes food”: not to be eaten all the time, but to be enjoyed as an occasional treat.

    I would be totally fine with Surviving and Thriving being the occasional treat of my blog reading. I would rather enjoy such treats occasionally for a long time to come, rather than all at once for a short time and then not at all.

    Take care of yourself, lady. I doubt your loyal readers will stray.

  30. ImJuniperNow

    I’ve found that – sometimes – when we can’t seem to part with or give up some of the blessings in our lives, they simply fall away. We are sad about it for a while. But then we realize that that hour (or 2, or 8) we devoted everyday to that thing is now open and we embrace the freedom of doing nothing (or something else, if you’re determined to keep on the treadmill).

    Personally, I’m determined to work as much as I can for as long as I can stand up and sock away all the cash I can in anticipation of the day (coming closer and closer!) when I simply can’t get up anymore.

    Let me know when you’re in Jersey – I’ll treat you to a Rita’s ice!

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: You’re on! I’ll be in South Jersey but may also edge down as far as Atlantic City and over as far as Philly. E-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com to let me know where in Jersey you live.

  31. A little treat is better than none at all. Slow down ! Have you thought about cutting back on the posts and having guest posts ??

    • Donna Freedman

      @Lynn: I’m going to have to cut back on the numbers of posts. However, I’m committed to keeping this what my MSN Money editor calls “a personality-driven site,” i.e., my voice vs. a bunch of voices.

  32. You so often write the words that so many women need to hear. We all need more down time and when we do get it not to feel guilty about it.
    Fight the good fight!

  33. average guy

    Sometimes the ‘blessing’ is the ability to say No.

  34. deb coye

    I agree with the opportunities that come your way, I wouldn’t give them up and a chance to visit friends and family at the same time. I look forward to your articles and forward many to friends and family. I have followed you since you wrote on MSN, read it everyday. Take care of yourself.

  35. Holly Samlan

    I will miss you (even though I do read GRS & MSN) if you drop this site.

    Maybe the answer is to cut back significantly & commit to posting 2x/week (tue & Fri?), perhaps about the funny things that happen and/or go on in your life. Example: trip to NYC for house sitting gig HAS to have funny travel story(s) be it TSA, fellow passenger, bus/cab driver……And of course there are the WONDERFUL, cheap eating place in NYC and the GREAT shopping outlet places nearby (mostly NJ) (been to both numerous times and done both).

  36. Is there other places you could save time and ultimately stress now that you are doing better financially ie. hire a cleaner, order pizza or other food a couple of times a week? After I read your post I realised I was doing too much, mainly work, charitable activities, frugal cooking from scratch, housework and gardening. Tonight I cancelled a meeting to allow myself to rest at home and on Friday I intend to get some take out food to save on the stress of preparing dinner. It’s a small start but I feel better already.
    I love reading all of your posts but I’d hate to see you wearing yourself out!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Ash: I’ve begun, slowly, to turn down obligations. The other day I passed on an interview opportunity and also declined to participate in a project. And while I did suggest a freelance idea for the Daily Worth site, I also told the editor it would be a few weeks before I could even think about turning it in.
      Plus I scheduled another massage for tomorrow (yay!) and will have my usual post-massage meal at Nasai Teriyaki in the U District.
      I need to be better about ordering meals out, i.e., I feel weird about it still. A good compromise would be to buy high-end frozen meals or prefab dinners at PCC Natural Markets, Trader Joe’s or Central Market. I’ll get there, eventually.
      Glad that you’re paring down your own too-busy life.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  37. I like your roundup posts and I’d read “2 years ago today” or some other form of reposting old posts, too.

    If you go to seldom posting, just make sure you let us know on facebook when something new is ready – we’ll come back. Or at least I will.


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  2. That’s me, all over. | Surviving and Thriving - [...] I took a two-week hiatus from writing for GRS, in part due to extreme busyness and in part because…
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  4. How you gonna keep ‘em down on the content farm? | Surviving and Thriving - [...] all sounds like quarreling with blessings once more. Yet I can’t keep discounting the physical and mental toll of…
  5. Meet my new boss (same as my old boss). - Surviving and Thriving | Surviving and Thriving - […] Quarreling with blessings […]

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