How To Be Awesome When Times Are Hard

sun through trees

Thus far, the year of the snake has not been our year. The ever growing list of calamities is too long to mention, but let’s just say supply is not keeping up with the universe’s demands. It’s so easy to get depressed and believe that it’s never going to end. That things will never get better. That despair will always be a step away. No matter how hard you work, things will never change.

They say that money can’t buy happiness, and this time they’re right. But let’s not pretend for one second that a lack of it isn’t difficult. It is. That’s just a fact of life. But today, I want to change my story. Maybe I can convince myself by trying to convince you. This is an unusual type of post, but this blog has always been about real life, and making things awesome with less. It’s a necessary departure in our journey.

Here are five ways to stay awesome when $20 a day is a luxury.

Kailua sunset

Take back your power

I made a plan to cut our spending and try to rebuild our savings. I don’t know if it will work, but we’re going to give it a shot. Having a sense of control over your destiny, even if it’s an illusion, is empowering. I’m doing something about it, rather than just letting my problems control my life. I’m not throwing up my hands. I’m taking back my power. 

Making a budget is too much like math. I don’t do math. But building obscure plans and rules is right up my alley. I came up with a strategy for my husband and I to try to limit our spending and put some money back into our savings account. And there are rewards at the end when goals are met, so the incentive is awesome. It will force us to make some tough choices, but hopefully, we won’t have to live like paupers. Too much restriction is depressing. Too much freedom is a slippery slope to the poor house. I hope we’re hanging out somewhere in the middle. Somewhere called awesome. 


Get outside

This is, of course, both literal and figurative. I find the best way to clear my mind is to take a walk, preferably somewhere with beautiful trees and flowers. Sitting in one place and dwelling on your problems does absolutely nothing to solve them. It just makes you feel like crap. Decidedly unawesome.

Get up, get out, breathe deep, and just put yourself somewhere else for a while. Nature won’t ask you to spend a dime. The exercise will do your mind and body good. And if you go with a friend, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to laugh about. Getting out of your house, and outside of yourself, can be a tremendous relief. It’s awesome out there. Go get in it.

on the wall

Be exactly who you are

Sometimes you’re just flat broke, and there’s no way around it. Often, though, I find that my feelings about my lack of money have more to do with society’s expectations than from anything actually related to who I am or what I want. If I don’t have a decent house/car/clothes/pet/phone/gadget and on and on, people will think I’m a failure. If I don’t have a high paying job with an impressive title, people will think I am a useless waste of space. Wait a minute? Since when did I start caring so much about what people think?

It’s so easy to give into expectations, even if that’s not truly what makes you happy. Honestly, the thing that’s brought me the most contentment lately is writing this blog. It makes me about five cents a day. I don’t want to spend all my time doing something I hate just so I can buy stuff. It’s only making me miserable and making someone else rich. I would like to be more secure, but I don’t need things to prove that I am successful. I don’t need to play that game. I do occasionally need $5 for a mai tai.

So, you strike a balance. Trade some hard work for the moments of pleasure where life really happens. And you scheme to tip the balance more toward the wonderful moments. And you ignore the voices that tell you what you should be because you know who you are, and who you are is awesome.


Open up to love

Getting through hard times is so much about shifting your perspective. You have to confront your problems, sure, but you don’t have to dwell in them every moment of every day. It’s easy to isolate yourself, especially when you don’t have money to go out. Don’t do it!

Reach out to the people you love, and they will help to take you away, if only for a moment, from the heaviness. I, myself, sometimes have to dig a little deeper to find the happiness, but I’ve come to a point in my life where I want to make an effort to dwell more in the light and push the darkness to the edges. Gather your friends and family around you. If you need some time for catharsis, take it. But skip to the laughter as quickly as possible. That’s where the living happens.

And if you ask nicely and make a pouty face, they might bring a bottle of wine.


Gain perspective

Even with all the problems we face, they are still first world problems. We’re struggling in the perspective of our neighbors, but worldwide, we’re in the top 12% in income. The fact that I can walk into my kitchen and have drinkable water at any given moment is a blessing and a miracle. I may not have a dryer, a dishwasher, air conditioning, or access to affordable healthcare,but I have safe drinking water. I have a roof over my head. I am able to read. I really am privileged. Everybody’s life is complicated, regardless of income. We all have struggles. My problems are not any less real, but neither are my blessings. It’s worth remembering.

I know we’re not the only ones struggling these days. I am determined to hold onto my awesomeness. I just have to choose it. Who’s with me?

Awesome in June

Bad Day Rainbow

Well friends, the year is half gone. As for me, I couldn’t be happier. The year of the snake has been especially rough (though not the worst of my life), and June brought it’s share of hardship. But we make it awesome anyway. Broken down scooters, be damned. Nothing gets between me and awesomeness!


Awesomest way to get your Benedict Cumberbatch fix

We saw Star Trek Into Darkness this month and had a blast. A movie that combines action, humor, bad Scottish accents, well-natured emotional manipulation, and the world’s greatest cheekbones has got to be a winner. I’m not exactly a Trekkie, but I have to say that watching this movie actually gave me the urge to go back and explore the source material. I was endeared to the characters and wanted to know them better. Sometimes it’s good to just have fun at the movies. If you don’t enjoy yourself at this movie, you might be taking yourself too seriously. 


Awesomest source of simultaneous guilt and humor

This month, I’ve read two books by the amazing Sherman Alexie, a Native American author from the Spokane Indian Reservation, which is about two hours from where I grew up. I think that makes four or five of his books that I’ve read in my life, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every one. His stories are raw and honest, and his voice is completely uncontrived. I’ve run the gamut of emotions while reading Ten Little Indians and The Toughest Indian in the World. Along with my fair share of white guilt, I’ve laughed and nearly cried. I’ve felt angry, uncomfortable, and joyful. If you want some insight into the life of a modern American Indian, you absolutely must read something by Sherman Alexie. You won’t regret it.

Photo by Rebecca of Foodie with Family

Awesomest thing I need to stuff in my face

When I saw these filthy burgers from Foodie with Family, I almost died. I need NEED to eat this burger. It’s pure genius. Beef, pulled pork, and bacon all smashed together in one massive patty of ridiculousness. Top that baby off with some melty colby jack and slather it in barbecue sauce and then die and go to heaven. Am I right? Lord have mercy! You must go and visit this awesome blog and make this burger. Then send me a photo of you with barbecue sauce all over your face. Trust me.


Awesomest small screen diversion

Dudes, Firefly is the bee’s knees! I know I’m a little late to the game. What’s new? I don’t even know what day of the week it is most of the time. I’ve heard fellow nerds raving about Firefly for years, but just never found the time to watch it. We’re halfway through the only season of this Joss Whedon space western, and I’m already sad that it’s going to be ending so soon. My husband and I are both really loving it. We especially enjoy trying to figure out the Chinese cuss words. We may have picked up one or two of those during our time in Taiwan. It’s streaming on Netflix and awaiting perusal at your leisure. Don’t wait. I wish I hadn’t.

Things you thought were awesome

 Here are your favorite posts from Awesome on 20 this month.

You were digging some gluten free lemon polenta cake.

You think chickens are cool, and you really want to feed them with this DIY chicken feeder by Geoff.

But mostly, you couldn’t wait to get your hands on some Ono Hawaiian Bread Pudding

I hope your June was super awesome. July is going to be sweet! I can’t wait to introduce you to my assistant. 

Be excellent to each other!



*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links because a girl’s gotta eat.

Awesome in May


Awesomest Cheap Date

We had a most fantastic mid-week date night for about $25. Get this. One of our local movie theaters, Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 & IMAX, has $6 movie tickets all day Tuesday. And, it gets better. This movie theater happens to be right next to Costco, where you can get the cheapest dinner ever. Here’s the plan. I meet my husband straight after work, he buys turkey paninis that we stash in my purse, we buy tickets for a 4:30 show before the crowds arrive, and we’re home by 7. When was the last time you had dinner and a movie for that cheap? I think we’re going to do this every week.

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Awesomest Super Hero Facial Hair

What movie did we see, you ask? We finally saw Iron Man 3. I realize everybody in the world has already seen it, but we don’t like crowds, so we don’t mind waiting. I was thoroughly entertained, as always, by Tony Stark, and I was pleased to get to see a bit more of Robert Downey Jr.’s face. He’s an excellent actor, even when he’s not busy punching people in the face. I’ll also watch anything with Don Cheadle. What did you think? I love to talk movies. Let’s get into it.


Awesomest Thing to Happen to TV Since Cut-Offs

Are you absolutely in love with Arrested Development? Have you been excited about the new episodes ever since the rumors started flying a few years ago? Did you geek out when they started tweeting photos of the cast filming the new stuff? Yeah, me too! I’m so glad I have Netflix. Honestly, we haven’t even gotten to the new episodes yet because we decided to start from the beginning. But just the joy of watching the old episodes again has already made my month extra awesome. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I’m excited to make it to the new stuff either way. It will be like catching up with old friends.


Awesomest Joke that Never Gets Old

Not having cable or a radio, I’m usually not up on the latest thing. It doesn’t bother me at all. My vocabulary, though, is riddled with outdated references. I need everybody to know about Strong Bad. It’s often essential to understanding the words that are coming out of my mouth. Spend some time. And don’t skip Teen Girl Squad. Some things are funny forever.

Other Awesomeness

Having another month of work is super awesome. I need cheese and chocolate. Which means I need a paycheck. I’m grateful for a boring office job.

By far, the most awesome thing in May was launching this very blog. You are so awesome for being here. I don’t think I can say how excited I am without sounding horribly cheesy. But yeah, it’s awesome! So way very awesome!!!

Bacon and Egg Salad
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