Easy Christmas Cash!

Make an easy $90 (or more!) to spend on Amazon for Christmas (if you start now).

(Yeah, I *know* it's currently the middle of August. Bear with me.)

This is easy. Seriously. It's hard to save money for Christmas. We've all seen those novel ideas about saving through the year but how many of us actually do it? Or commit to it every week? So then, especially if you're a single parent, you're on a fixed income or disabled, we come up to the holidays each year wondering how we're gonna get all the gifts on our list. This isn't a get rich scheme or anything by all means, but something you can do while watching tv in the evenings or relaxing to put back just a little. (You can cash out to PayPal as well but I do Amazon gift cards because you can buy everything from toilet paper to lawnmowers on that site.) Also, disclaimer, this will be a referral link but trust me, it's not gonna be making me rich either. I'll just get a few points as you earn each day which helps me get closer to my Christmas shopping goal. Totally recommend sharing with your friends after you join!

First, you're gonna click here or click the image below.

Join Swagbucks!
You Can Get Free Gift Cards For Shopping, Searching and Discovering What's Online at 


Next, you'll register (sHAiRah is me, the person referring you) and begin to earn Swagbucks which are points you can cash out for PayPal cash or gift cards.

To get the bare minimum (easy 90 bucks before Christmas), notice at the top it mentions your daily goal. It's generally going to be between 70-112 a day. Easy to hit most days. That's gonna equal about a buck a day, in three months, that has you cashing out for AT LEAST $90 before Christmas. You can earn soooo much more though!

Surveys are how I earn the most. You can complete these while watching tv and they don't take long at all. I cushion those earnings by downloading the Swagbucks app and watching videos on my phone while doing them. Also, there's an awesome facebook group called Swagbucks Swaggernauts where members discuss tips, tricks and best paying offers.

I've been doing Swagbucks for about six years. There are lots of "get paid to" sites out there but this has been the most reliable one and the most consistent earner for me.

Shut In, NOT Shut Out: How can I help a shut in person?

(If you haven't already read the first post in this series you can do so now by clicking here. It may help you identify someone in your life you may not have associated as a shut in person before.)

So, you know a shut in and you want to help. How? You want to be supportive and care for them but you just don't know what would be helpful versus hurtful or where to begin. I hope to provide some ideas and get you moving in the right direction towards being an amazing source of support and joy in this post.

1. Empathize, not sympathize. 

It’s easy for someone who doesn't understand or has never experienced a chronic illness or a hardship that would have you stuck at home to get frustrated with someone who won’t or cannot leave their home, so try looking at things from their perspective. I can guarantee you it's not the life they exactly planned. Think about how they feel looking out the window to see others walking down the street laughing, enjoying outings with their families, traveling and having a blast. Being isolated is like prison. Don't be dripping with sympathy, however. There's a difference between having the "oh, I'm so sorry" sentiment and actually taking the time to try to gain perspective and understanding. Grief, self-pity, depression, a cycle of negative thoughts is already a daily battle for many so combating that by trying to help us find the silver lining and being positive is incredibly helpful.

2. Small gestures of kindness.

While there are larger needs that must be met, we will get to that later. You don't have to stress about grandeur. The tiniest gestures can be a big difference maker. A card in the mail, a phone call just to check in, stopping by for a few moments to say hello, a small gift left at the door or an inexpensive gift. Does the shut in you know enjoy word puzzles? Snip out the puzzles from the newspapers and include them in a mailed card. If it's a child/teen, maybe drop a couple puzzles or a new video game at the door. A nice bouquet of flowers or a small houseplant would be a lovely idea for anyone.

3. Meet a need.

Imagine not being able to run to the grocery store at will, struggling to take your trash out, needing someone there with you at all times and you'll get s glimpse of the dependency a shut in person may be having to deal with. It's hard on them as well as their caregivers. Offering to grocery shop for them, do some lawn maintenance or chores or even just come sit with them while their caregiver gets out of the house for awhile would be an amazing gift. A shut in may be missing getting to go to church services and someone committing to coming and doing bible study with them would be incredibly beneficial. Bring copies of sermons, books, pray with them and if you can find a ministry they could help with from home (provided they are able) it could remind them how valuable they are! Social visits to play games, visit, have a meal together are wonderful but be sure to assure your loved one that they need not worry about having the house clean or how they look as trying to get the house "company clean" and themselves all dolled up may exhaust them too much to even be able to enjoy the visit. If they have a pet, offering to vet them or take them for a walk could be helpful. If they have a hobby, bringing them supplies to continue doing that would be incredibly kind (knitting, crocheting, painting... just a few common ones that are easy to find supplies for).

Think inside and outside of the "box". Spend a few moments thinking about the personality of the shut in person you know. If you really cannot figure out the best way to be helpful- ASK! Let them know you want to be supportive and do something nice for them. You may be met with hesitance because it's hard to depend on others and accept so much help but you may also uncover a need you hadn't thought of.

Shut In, NOT Shut Out : What, or who, is a "shut in"?

ˈSHəd ˌin
noun: shut-in; plural noun: shut-ins
1. a person confined indoors, especially as a result of physical or mental disability.
Confined to a home or hospital, as by illness. Disposed to avoid social contact; excessively withdrawn or introverted.

Wiki- shut in is a person confined indoors, especially as a result of physical or mental disability agoraphobia.

Hi, I'm a shut in person. I have left my house successfully only a handful of time thus far this year. There are two reasons. One is my fibromyalgia. Getting in and out of vehicles hurts, getting dressed and putting shoes on hurts, walking long distances is exhausting and I get sick a bit easier than others. The other is agoraphobia. Anxiety and panic attacks have been a battle I've fought most of my life but every few years I get a flare of it that's a bit worse than other times and this past time, it's been the worst yet.

There are lots of people like me all over the world. We're young and old, male and female. I know before I became a shut in I pictured a shut in as a very old lady in a nursing home with no family. Some shut ins, in fact, are elderly ladies that reside in nursing homes or alone. Not all are. Some shut ins are teenagers who have had to withdraw from public school to home school. Some are middle aged men with health problems. Some are even healthy young moms. So, the first thing to do to understand who is a shut in is to wipe your mind's picture away now in order to re-imagine it. Got your eraser out? Okay, I'll wait. Good to go now? Great.

I'm going to give you some examples of (fictional) people who could be considered shut ins in order to trigger your thoughts towards someone you may know that fits the bill:

  • He's recently turned 85. His wife has passed away, his son lives in another state and his daughter has her hands full with her new grandchild. He sits alone day in and day out, nobody to tell his long life full of stories to. Meals are only once a day and do not consist of much because there's only him to cook for. A layer of dust sits on many things in his house because he's unable to get to them well enough to clean them off. His medications are delivered to him but his milk has been out of date for a week and could use some new slippers. His eyes sparkle with wisdom and memories and there's nobody there to share them with.
  • She's a newly single mother. She was uprooted from the place she grows up and moved to another place when her former husband took a new job. Now he's gone and she's busy with two toddlers she's raising alone. She lost her car, so she has no transportation and doesn't have a steady income. She wants to get out and find a job, a church, some friends... but she's feeling trapped. 
  • He's 16 and is finishing his high school years online. Panic attacks began to plague him a couple years ago and bullying at school intensified his anxiety so much that he missed a lot of instructional time. Agoraphobia has now gripped him so that the only social interaction he has is through video games. His parents are supportive but do not understand his anxiety and they unable to be there for him all of the time.
  • She's developed a chronic health condition before she even found her first gray hair. Pain never leaves her body and her immune system is low. Going out in public can be exhausting and puts her at risk for catching what would be a common cold for most but could be worse than a flu for her. She has friends and a family but they have busy lives so she spends most of her time in the bed trying to stay out of their way. Depression is a blanket over her and it's hard to see through that fog. 

I'm pretty sure most people know someone similar to one of the four people listed above. You may have a different image in your mind now or the image may be the same but you've been able to see a few different perspectives. The thread in common with all of these people is the need for compassion. Not sympathy, compassion. 

In my next post, I'll shed some light on how you can show care and compassion for shut ins.

I'm Still Here!

As anyone with chronic illness knows, depression can seep in easily. It's incredibly easy to lose interest in things when you feel "stuck" sometimes. I've let my mind get to that place a bit over the last four months and abandoned my writing. Not completely, as some drafts have been typed and some ideas jotted down, but enough so that I have let just shy of four months go by without hitting the "Publish" button.

I thought it'd be a good idea to put some accountability on myself by making this post showing what I'm working on coming up, so I will *have* to get it done.

The Shut In, Not Shut Out series is what's taking the longest to get out. It's heavy for me, personal and tough. I just really hope it's gonna be worth it.
I start a new job this upcoming week, speaking of Work From Home 101, so my most recent job hunting has provided me with some new insights to share.

So, maybe I'm just talking to a wall, cuz, ya know, if *I* was subscribed to a blog that went dormant, I might unsubscribe but hopefully some of you are still with me!