Saturday, September 26, 2015

I'm Engaged!

To start, I wasn't sure I would ever get married again.

My children are the most amazing blessing ever and I do have my first marriage to thank for them.  That said, number one was a really bad experience.  I didn't have a partnership.  I didn't even know what that was supposed to look like, or feel like.  

I looked up the definition of Marriage, and Marry and I didn't really feel like they accurately represented what marriage means to me.  

Marriage: Two units who equally balance and benefit from one another combining to make a single unit. Where the combined unit is stronger than the sum of it's parts.   

Biblical, marriage is often referred to as equally yoked meaning, both parties understand they must work in unison to advance. One cannot constantly pull while the other constantly rests. 

I wasn't sure I would ever get married again.  Even when I met Mr. Bates.

From the very beginning everything was so different.  Many times, despite 13 years of marriage, I felt like I had no experience being in a relationship.  I wasn't used to letting go and relying on someone else.  That was really hard to do.  

I didn't know how to trust.  Trust that I was safe. Safe to be vulnerable and open. Most of the time I just had no idea how to let him in.  

He says he's thankful the bar was set so low.  I disagree completely.  I set the bar very high.  Once jaded I was more cautious, not less. 

Slowly, I fell in love. 

Meet my Mr. Gary Bates

I don't believe in love at first sight.  There is definitely attraction at first sight, then love can follow.  Love comes from a place inside of me, and extends to a place inside of him.  It is him as a whole that I love. His values and philosphy.  

The little things really are the great big things. 

My Gary always walks between me and the road. Always.  His mother taught him to be a gentleman. My boys asked why a man is supposed to walk on the outside.... I told them it's because women-folk tend to wander off into the street. They thought it was dang funny, and will never forget. 

He honors me by always picking up the check.  To some that might sound very anti-feminine, but I am old-fashioned.  I think a man should take care of his woman, and that the woman should take care of her man.  Both roles occur in different ways, but are equally as beneficial. Just Friends take turns picking up the tab.

(For real)

Gary has financial goals and is disciplined with money.  This is HUGE.  I love this about him in ways he will never understand.  I don't need him to financially provide for me and he doesn't need me to provide for him.  He isn't looking to me to keep us on track with our goals. I have complete confidence in him.

We laugh together.  Everyday.  When we are together it's nearly constant.  We both say completely inappropriate things all the time.  And I do mean all the time... and we love it.  We have so much fun together.

I don't think we have ever done "dinner and a movie" date night.  Mr. Bates knows what's happening in the community and plans ahead.  When we travel, he takes me to unique places.  We do a lot together outdoors. I tend to be reclusive.  I shy away from social occasions.  Gary has done the most amazing job helping me grow socially. And I don't think he even knows he's done it.

He takes care of himself.  This man puts me to shame.  He might miss one day a month at the gym.  His dedication is just amazing.  I've always believed that, once married, a man and women have an obligation to each other to maintain their appearance, and health. I always want Gary to feel proud to introduce me as his wife.  I want him to feel he is envied-- whether he is or not.  I am so proud to be with him. He is healthy and has amazing physical endurance.  I love this about him.

And um.  Other physical stuff.  OMG.  That's all.

Mr Bates makes his bed everyday.  He's very proud of the fact that he knows how to make hospital corners when he tucks in the sheet. This mentality flows into the rest of his home and how he behaves at mine. He picks up after himself.  Even when he's not home and not expecting me-- a place for everything and everything in it's place.  

(Holy Crap.  I actually found a cartoon picture of a man making a hospital corner.)

He buys fresh flowers when I'm coming over and stocks the kitchen with my favorite foods.  THEN he also cooks for me.  I don't hide that fact that I really don't enjoy cooking.  I can do it, and I will, but I LOVE that he enjoys it. 

I could continue to go on, but what really matters is that my Gary makes me feel loved.  In his words and actions I can feel his love for me. I truly feel blissful.  When I think about marrying him I have no second thoughts.  I have no anxiety --which is incredible because I always feel anxious about 

I finally understand what the big deal is all about when it comes to relationships.  I imagine that might be difficult to understand.  The first time I got married I was very young.  I hadn't had a long term adult relationship before jumping blindly into marriage.  I didn't know what it could be like.  I didn't know what was missing until Gary filled it. 

And so I picked up my heart.  I didn't give it to him, because... well... I sort of need it to be whole.  To be the kinds of person he wants to be with I need to be whole.  Instead of giving him my heart, I give him the whole of me.

He is my help-meet.

I love Gary Bates.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Brave Girls University

This is the coolest new site for Artists ever.

Want to take an online class,
on ANY subject,
from all of the TOP teachers,

All in one forum?

This is the place to be.  There is such a huge variety of course materials, and the content is beautiful and amazing.  These are not your "free tutorials" but in-depth, professionally developed instructional courses.

If you haven't checked it out yet, you should....

  xoxo Cam

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Brave Girls Club University

I had lunch with Melody and Kathy a couple months ago and they told me about their latest concept.

An online class venue for art instructors, where class content could be revived and students would not be limited to one instructor or art form.  Where students can learn "anything about anything art."

It's the Etsy for Art Education.

This is going to be so huge.

Come check it out.  I've saved you a seat:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Get Out of Debt

I despise debt. It makes me crazy.  Crazy anxious and nervous.  It feels overwhelming, and makes me fear the worst.

What if I lose my job...
What if I lose my house...
What if I can't feed my kids...
What if I can't take care of my kids...
What if I have to live in my car...
What if I have to live in my car, and then I lose my car....
What if it's winter when all this happens...
What if I freeze to death in a back alley behind a Chinese restaurant?

Rational? Maybe not, but it could happen. IT really COULD.

After my divorce in May 2013, my debt was at an all-time high.

June 2013: -$27,706.  Seriously stomach nausea, and insomnia. AND I was technically a homeless, single, mother of three.  I was not okay.

Here's was my debt breakdown:

Credit cards and student loans: $18,168 - Most of which was credit cards.
Car loan: $4,038
Balance due to my divorce attorney: $3,600
Charges for necessary items: $1,900 (mattresses for me and my kids)
Total: -$27,706

As of Today: September 20, 2014 my TOTAL debt is -$2,500 (aside from my mortgage.)

Yes, I have eliminated $25,206 of debt in 15 months.

When I posted this about a month ago on Facebook so many people asked me to write about how I did it.  So here you go.  I am not an expert, but these principles worked for me, and I hope thy can be helpful to someone else.

Everyone's situation is unique.  Income, outside circumstances, ability to change... these all vary. However, I think these principals could work for anyone.

1.  Reduce living expenses.  This is the number one most important change I made.

I will acknowledge this was easy for me because I was in a transitional period. I didn't have to proactively make hard decisions to change because the change part was already in motion. I just had to make the right choice to alter my lifestyle.

I should mention that prior to the divorce I was paying 79.4% of all of my families living expenses and still paying extra against my debt.  It wasn't necessary for me to change my lifestyle.  I could have elected to maintain the same standard of living-- and take a long time repaying my debt.

  • Buy a house. Unless I wanted to continue the transient lifestyle, I needed a place for me and my kids to live. I did not want to rent.  In my opinion, renting is just as bad as debt because you are paying someones return on investment and getting very little in return. When there isn't an option except to rent, then rent CHEAP and save your hard earned money to buy a house.

Off my soap box... I looked for a smaller, efficient home, to save on mortgage and also utilities.

Prior home: 2030 sqft
New home: 1850 sqft.

My new home is super energy efficient.

Prior home: average monthly gas and power bills: $270.00
New home: $90.00
Cash Flow: +$180.00

The mortgage obligation. I don't want to publicize the actual numbers, but here's the monthly cash flow: +$250.00

Eliminated services I no longer needed with a smaller house and yard.
Home Phone: +$40.00
Pest Control: +$40.00
Lawn and tree services: +$47.00
Cash Flow: $127.00

Add to this the my budgeted allocation for debt reduction: +$600.00

Cash flow: $1157/ month.

2. Meticulously track the debt. I downloaded a Debt Reduction Calculator from this website:
Credit goes to Vertex42.
  • I entered all my debt and interest rates. This made it so easy to focus on the debts with the highest interest rates. More importantly, the constant knowledge of EXACTLY how much debt I had-- and the total cost of that debt in interest, made it really easy to make wise financial choices.
The spreadsheet lets you choose paying off the lowest balances first (instant gratification) or highest interest rate first.  Now really?  Most of us get into these situations based on instant gratification, so just toss that.
3. SAVINGS!  Contributing to a savings account was critical.  I like to consider a savings account "budgeting for incidentals,"  With a savings account established, I never had to add to my debt for unexpected expenses.
  • I started out moving $200.00 a month into savings till I had about $1,500 reserved. That's not much, but it was enough to keep me in the black.  
4. Expected and unexpected "extra" income. Extra cash flow such as tax returns, escrow account adjustments, insurance losses, selling personal property... and of course then the divorce settlement check finally through.
  • It's so easy to take what feels like "free money" and go PLAY.  Vacation, shopping, new furniture, boob job, tummy tuck....  All the typical things a newly divorced woman wouldn't mind spending money on.  Instead apply huge payments against the debt.
This is one of the hardest disciplines for me. I feel like I have been so good about everything else, I deserve a reward.  I worked hard for this extra money, I deserve a reward.  This money wasn't planned into my budget so it won't effect my goals, I deserve a reward....

What I deserve is to get rid of the debt burden.
What I deserve is a financially sound future.
What I deserve is my money working for me.
What I deserve is peace of mind.

I think I would rather have these things than a new couch.

5. Don't cut yourself off.  I still wanted to have fun.  I still wanted to eat out on occasion.  I wanted to take my kids on vacation.  I wanted to be able to go shopping. At first, these purchases where a little tight, but once I got debt reduction under way I started to build a little room into the budget for frivolity.  Everyone should be a little frivolous, so long as they are not going into debt to do so. 

Here's some personal perspective from my past behaviors:  

As long as I was paying cash for the frivolous then it was okay.  I was completely blind to the fact that I was running out of money at the end of the month and having to charge gas for my car.   

I'm not saying it was easy, but once my goal to be debt free became more important to me than having the latest and greatest the mental battle ended.  

I'm so close I can almost touch it.

xoxo Cam

Friday, November 15, 2013

Yeah, I know...

I really owe an explanation for my long absence.

It's coming.  2013 has been a very long year. So was 2012.

2014 is going to rock.  Seriously.

I'll tell you about it as soon as I can wrap my brain around it and formulate something read-worthy.

xo Cam

Leather Gallery

Welcome to my tooled leather gallery!

Camille McClelland
aka. WonderCam
aka. Leather Whisperer

This is not a complete gallery of my work, but the most complete collection in one place.

Enjoy and Happy Tooling!

xoxo Cam

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


"When I was a kid..."

We all have at least one story of when we felt bullied. 

I remember one time in Sunday School class there were not enough chairs.  A girl I looked up to suggested to the class that I could sit in one of the small baby chairs.  It hurt my feels enough that I've never forgotten about it, and yet, I know she wasn't intentionally trying to be mean.  If anyone else had said it then it probably would not have bothered me.

I've been thinking about the power that comes with popularity.  The power to sway opinions that can make or break someone.  I remember being so afraid of this one girl in high school.  Not that she was mean..  Not that I ever had a conversation with her.  ever.  She seemed nice enough.  She was confident, and radiant, and so stylish.  Always in the spotlight with her accomplishments.  I don't have a negative thought about her individually.  But she still scared me. 

For me it was the power she held.  What if I did try to talk to her or be her friend and she rejected me?  What if I did or said something embarrassing and she saw it and told someone.  Such power.

This whole post makes me feel so uncomfortable.  Brings back all those high school insecurities.  What if there are people like THAT girl who came across my blog and thought it was stupid for a grown adult woman to still be hung up over stupid high school popularity?

I'm not so afraid anymore.  I have life experience that has taught me who I am, and helped me to understand my own worth.  Sure, I have my self esteem ups and downs...  here is a secret-- everyone does.  Even THAT girl. 

I wonder... does THAT girl even know the power she held?  I would hope not. Power can do nasty things to good people.  Power instantly results in a feeling of superiority.  Are any of us really superior?  Hell yes.  Of course.  Not overall.. but in individual talents and accomplishments there is a resounding yes. 

For example, a lawyer must attain a certain level of education to earn a law degree.  I do not have a law degree.  I have not been to law school.  I have only been to one semester of college.  So... does a lawyer have a superior education in comparison to mine?  Yes.  Does that make the lawyer a superior person to me.  Yeah, no.. I don't think so. Not that I have anything against attorney's and not that I consider myself superior, either.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses.. and that's what makes us unique, and and in many ways, provides an identity to hold onto. 

Where did all this come from?  This video...  I watched it.  Then watched it again.  Then called my kids in and we watched it together, and then talked about how it made us feel.

You should watch it.. right now.  It's from this website: and was created by Shane Koyczan.

I wish I could say that I know Shane personally..  because I am so impressed with him.

There is great responsibility that comes with popularity.  Power.  Power to make or break a person.  Bullying must stop here, where the power exists to stop it.

xo Cam 
(I can't stop watching it)