Tag Archives: #20

Read #20 books: 101 Weird Ways to Make Money

101 Weird Ways to Make Money
by Steven Gillman

In the hopes of owning my own business, I need to get out of debt and start saving! I’ve had more time than money lately so I’ve been looking for ways to bring in additional income on the side. This book caught my attention at the library yesterday and I decided to take it home. After flipping through it I found a myriad of potential profit-makers that have a “big upside and not much competition”.

From among the list of low-to-no-cost startups I’ve compiled my Top 7:

7. Virtual Assistant
Basic secretarial and computer-related work from home can earn you $15 to $35.

6. Home Organizing Consultant
If you’re neat and organized you can start your own business de-cluttering garages, bedrooms, kitchens, closets, or home offices!

5. Used clothing seller
You’d be surprised what vintage Levi’s go for on eBay these days. If you’re willing to do the research and scope out garage sales and thrift stores for deals then this could be a money-maker for you.

4. Used book seller
Many used books can be turned for a profit on Amazon, depending on the title and quality. You can get started right away by selling a book online. Once you get some momentum and experience you can invest as little as $100 into selected books. And unlike physical bookstores it doesn’t matter how many books you have or what genres; if you have the title they want at a good price then they buy it.
The Home-Based Bookstore: Start Your Own Business Selling Used Books on Amazon, eBay or Your Own Web Site by Steve Weber

3. Diaper Cleaning Service
This idea may seem silly or super-gross to some, but I liked the idea of it for some reason. Many parents have been returning to cloth diapers in recent years, but they haven’t been returning to washing them. Now that cloth diaper services exist many parents prefer to have their dirty diapers picked up weekly, and it can even save them money over disposable diapers.
http://www.realdiaperindustry.org has information on the cloth diaper industry

2. Specialized Tutor
If you’ve worked in schools previously (or currently) the idea of being a tutor may have occurred to you. As a teacher and tutor myself I can guarantee that the most money is to be made in starting your own business. Tutoring companies are great for gaining experience, but they charge the families upwards of $50-75 per hour and give you $15 or $20 if you’re lucky. Why not go into business with families directly and undercut those larger organizations? The only downside is that while you’re building your name and customer base, you may run into difficulties with families who just want to go with a company they trust. Thankfully not everyone is satisfied with those “big-box” tutoring groups and there’s still space for independent tutors.
http://www.tutoringservices.com – free meeting place for tutors and clients

1. Pet Services
Pet services gets my number 1 because of the ease of access and the extremely low startup costs. The book actually breaks different pet services up, but I’ve rolled them together into my new temporary business. You’re looking at Minneapolis’ newest doggy poop scooper! I’ll be offering yard cleaning services, litter box cleaning, dog walking, pet sitting, and light grooming. You can do this too! All you need is a love for animals and a lack of squeamishness!

Here’s another great resource that lists 10 businesses you can start for less than $100!


So far over the past 6 months I have cut our debt in half and gotten current on my student loans through focused effort and planning. That may be what others would call “progress,” but as always, rebuilding your finances takes longer than you like. Celebrating your accomplishments can be hard when you’re not yet arrived at your ultimate goal. It’s hard specifically not to get caught up with wanting things to be different than they are now, or wanting more money, or wishing you could make things happen right away. That’s living in the future, which won’t help us  gain anything except a vague yet persistent dissatisfaction. I’ve been trying to counteract my impatience to reach my goals by employing mindfulness techniques. When I remind myself that happiness is always accessible to me in the present moment, I can find things to be grateful for right now. Here are some tips for finding happiness in the present moment!



Read #20 Books: The Mindfulness Sampler

Book: The Mindfulness Sampler: Shambhala Authors on the Power of Awareness in Daily Life

Author: Shambhala Publications

This book is a delightfully arranged sampling of writings on mindfulness, Buddhism, and just plain living your life in general. From the very well-known to the relatively unfamiliar, this book of authors on the publications list at Shambhala Publications covers topics from the precepts of mindfulness, to communication, to addiction, and to relationships. It’s a great excursion into the different writers and writing styles on the subject and I recommend it for everyone – including those new to mindfulness and those with years of practice.

In the first chapter, Thich Nhat Hanh – in “Happiness and Peace Are Possible” – explains the fundamentals of mindfulness and how it can be nurtured in our own lives. He describes the healing miracle of mindfulness. As a gardener I am especially drawn to his vivid imagery:

If you look deeply at a flower, at its freshness and its beauty, you will see that there is also compost in it, made of garbage… The flower is also going to turn into garbage; but don’t be afraid! You are a gardener, and you have in your hands the power to transform garbage into glowers, into fruit, into vegetables. You don’t throw anything away, because you are not afraid of garbage. Your hands are capable of transforming it into flowers or lettuce or cucumbers. The same thing is true of your happiness and your sorrow. Sorrow, fear, and depression are all a kind of garbage. These bits of garbage are part of real life, and we must look deeply into their nature. You can practice in order to turn these bits of garbage into flowers.

He speaks beautifully and simple of things that are very complex and can take a lifetime to truly understand. He speaks of using nature as a bell to call us back to mindful awareness the way a crying baby calls it’s parents to attend to it. He softly encourages us to drive with awareness and avoid the autopilot effect. Such simple images convey that by small actions we can come to understand how to transform suffering into well-being. His path seems beautiful and full of joy, so it doesn’t seem to matter when I arrive.

In another favorite chapter – chapter 3 – zen teacher and pediatrician Jan Chozen Bays discusses meditation as the practice of ordinary life. She said that when the mind ” checks out” it tends to go one of three places, the past, the future, or the fantasy realm. “Is this bad?” one might ask. Well, Bays says it’s not something to feeling ashamed or guilty about, but perhaps it’s sad that “when we spend a lot of time with our body doing one thing while our mind is on vacation somewhere else,” it can mean that we aren’t really present for much of our life. “When we aren’t present,” she says, “it makes us feel vaguely but persistently dissatisfied.”

Mindfulness helps us become aware of the mind’s habitual and conditioned patterns of escape and allows us to try an alternative way of being in the world… Anxiety is fueled by thoughts of past and future. When we drop those thoughts, we drop anxiety and find ourselves at ease. How do we drop thoughts?  We drop thoughts by temporarily withdrawing energy from the thinking function of the mind and redirecting it to the awareness function of the mind.

So all in all it was a wonderful book and I learned a lot and you should definitely read it… blah blah blah

Now for your mindfulness exercises for the week, from this book!

Use Your Nondominant Hand

Use your nondominant hand for some ordinary tasks each day. These could include brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or eating with your nondominant hand for at least part of each meal. If you’re up for a big challenge. try using the nondominant hand when writing or when eating with chopsticks.
Remind Yourself: Put a bandaid on your dominant hand and when you notice it, switch hands and use the nondominant hand. Or put a small sign on your bathroom mirror that says “Left Hand.”

Leave No Trace

Choose one room in your house and for one week try leaving no trace that you’ve used that space. The bathroom or kitchen works best for most people. If you’ve been doing something in that room, cooking a meal or taking a shower, clean up in such a way that you leave no signs that you’ve been there, except perhaps the odor of food or fragrance of soap.
Remind Yourself: Put a sign in the room you’ve chosen that says, “Leave No Trace.”

Today after completing this book I meditated for 5 minutes using these beautiful bells. If you’ve never done this before, simply sit comfortably and breath and watch your thoughts. If you catch yourself completely drawn into your thoughts, don’t judge, simply bring your awareness back to your breathing and watching your thoughts. When the video ends with a slightly higher and quicker bell slowly blink open your eyes, wiggle your hands and toes, and mindfully continue with your day. Namaste.

Read #20 Books: The Radical Doula Guide


As you may already know if you’ve ever met me, my world is lived in the highly political, the in-between, and in the realm of social justice activism. So when I heard about the release party for The Radical Doula Guide back in 2012, a mere few months after I received my doula training, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. And boi am I glad I went. Getting to network with people from groups like Isis Rising (a “prison-based pregnancy, birth, and parenting project provided to women currently serving time at the Shakopee Women’s Prison”), Everyday Miracles (a non-profit “dedicated to providing education and doula services to low income families with the goal of improving birth outcomes”), and other self-identified radical doulas like myself was reason enough!

Not only did I get this great reference guide, and the chance to find out about some great organizations… But this release party also represented the start of a new organization that I am now a part of. The SPIRAL Collective is a full-spectrum doula organization like those described in the book. The Radical Doula Guide opens with:

“The guide provides an introduction to full spectrum doula work—supporting people during all phases of pregnancy, including abortion, miscarriage, birth and adoption—as well as a discussion of how issues like race, class, immigration, gender and more affect our work as doulas”

Now, almost 2 years later I found my bookmark in this book only halfway through and decided it was time to finish it. After rereading it from cover to cover I feel reinvigorated with all that it inspired me to consider.

For example, it’s got me thinking a lot about how race, class, gender, sexuality, age and ability impact bodies. We have a lot of work to do if we want to see a reproductively just world. I give this primer 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone – not just doulas, midwives, doctors and nurses. It’s a quick read and it’s worth it!

Read #20 books: Things Fall Apart


I just finished reading the tale of Okonkwo, a Nigerian man growing up amidst violence, war, suffering, balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence. In this story the protagonist is a self-made who has worked all his life to overcome his father’s weaknesses. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband of three wives and father to several children.

Yet things start to unravel for Okonkwo when a young boy from another village comes to live with him and his family. Okonkwo becomes fond of the boy – treating him as his own son – until a plague of locusts prompts the village elders to sacrifice the boy to appease the gods. Things go downhill for Okonkwo so much that he is eventually exiled from his village for seven years.

This book is fraught with themes of colonialism, gender, masculinity, and community. It’s deep but it’s plainly written and could be a quick read. You’ll be thinking about it long after though.

#20 Read 20 New Books: The Warrior Heir

The Warrior Heir

The Warrior Heir is the first book in the trilogy, The Heir Chronicles, a young adult fiction novel about a young boy who discovers his destiny as a warrior. One day when sixteen year old Jack Swift forgets to take the medication he’s been taking his entire life, he is filled with the sudden power to send his rival and bully, Garrett Lobeck, flying into the net at soccer tryouts. Soon his small-town Ohio life is turned upside down as he is thrown into a secret world where a powerful wizard ruling class dominates, enslaves, and hunts to near-extinction sorcerers, enchanters, soothsayers and most of all, warriors.

From the back of the book:

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great—until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game—a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre magical heritage isn’t enough, Jack finds out that he’s not just another member of Weirlind—he’s one of the last of the warriors—at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.

I am a sucker for teen fiction so I give this book 4 stars. It kept me engaged with its twists and turns and ruthless politics, and I found myself rooting for the main character’s independence. By the end I was already excited to read the next book. Coming soon, look for my review of:

The Wizard Heir

#20 Read 20 new books

~~~~~ 1/20 ~~~~~

The first book I’m reading toward my goal of 20 books is…

Vegan’s Daily Companion!


So far I’m truly enjoying it. It’s a pleasure to read and it’s also helping remind me of one of my other goals: gratitude.

To be honest these days I rarely even think about being vegan. I’ve done it for so long and it’s become so natural that sometimes days go by without me noticing. And from that forgetting comes taking that part of me for granted. I haven’t thought about the positives or negatives of being vegan in a long time. And because of this I haven’t felt as excited about being vegan lately. This book has been getting me excited about being vegan again.

It’s not full of do-gooder save-the-world vegan propaganda, although there’s no denying it’s propaganda of a sort. It’s written like a mantra, reminding the reader of ways to live as a joyful vegan. Its like a Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul!

So far I’ve learned – or been reminded – through reading and reflecting that my ultimate goal as a vegan is one means to and end: unfettered compassion. I personally cannot allow my personal convenience to outweigh animal violence, and being vegan is one easy way to bring compassion into my life. Not to mention it encourages me to get creative with ingredients and cooking techniques, and I would say that I eat more diverse foods now than before I became vegan.

Ahimsa – the idea of causing no harm, is a phrase I am drawn to while reading this book. I’d like to meditate on this and learn more about ahimsa and nonviolence this year.

The Companion is organized like a day minder, with a passage for each day of the week. Monday is dedicated to “the love of food” and Friday is “stories of hope, rescue, and transformation.” Saturday and Sunday are for “healthful recipes”!

Promise to review more fully when finished!