A Journey Shared

I think I’ll just start typing and see where the words take me today.  I have a story to tell, but there are many dimensions to it and I’m not sure what is the most significant element.

I’ll start at the beginning and we shall see where we end up…

Yesterday, I went to the grocery store with my sister to pick up a few things that the family needed.  I say needed because we’ve been in a sort of financial dilemma for the last couple of months.

By dilemma, I mean that a combination of miscalculations on my part and factors outside of my control have combined to mean that there is just not enough money.

We’ve eaten down the pantry and freezer and are being creative about meal making.  No worries, we are pretty creative types.  Still, honestly, there has been some stress around our household about the situation.

Anyway, I arrive at the grocery store with my sister and as we are parking we notice a young family with four small children standing around a car with the hood up.  Various car parts that appear to be from the engine are leaning up against the car.

It is obviously a bad situation, but since I know nothing about engine repair and don’t know what I might offer to do to help in this situation, I continue into the store with my sister to purchase what I need to feed the family through the weekend.

I complete my purchases, excited that by combining markdowns, sales and coupons, I am able to buy quite a bit for a relatively small amount of money.  To be completely honest, I didn’t spend more than we had available so I won’t overdraw the account.  Life is good.

On our way out of the store, that same family is at the service desk.  The four children are sitting quietly nearby,  Mom and Dad are doing something with some Western Union paperwork.  My sister walks over to talk with them and upon completing the conversation discretely hands the dad all of the cash that she has.  My sister does stuff like this all the time.  She’s a giver.

I help my sister out to the car and while unloading our groceries, I ask her what their story is.

The mom had landed a job cleaning at a hotel just up the street from the grocery store.  The hotel was letting the family stay in a room while she worked there.  She got laid off because they were overstaffed.  The family had resorted to living in their car which had now broken down.  They had found someone to fix the car, but were attempting to make arrangement to get everything done.

Four kids, no job, no home…

I don’t know what choices or decisions guided them to that grocery store and that parking lot and that situation.

I’m not even sure that I completely understand the choices and decisions that have landed me where I am today.

The journey is complicated and we make a thousand choices and decisions along the way.  Sometimes, we take the right turn.  Sometimes, not.  Anyone of us could end up homeless with a broken down car in a parking lot.  Of that, I am sure.  For millions around the world, that would be a step up.  Life is crazy that way.

What I do know is that in that moment I was hit full force with the realization that “need” is relative.  I had just purchased groceries that I was certain that I was in “need” of.

Now, in comparison with the “needs” of this family they seemed like luxuries.

I did some calculations in my head and went back in and purchased a gift card for the family.  The groceries I had purchased for the next few days will need to stretch further than I had planned.  I’m okay with that.  I’ll be eating them in my house at my dining room table.  My family will have a car to drive to work in.  There is a paycheck coming in the future.  It won’t be enough, but we will make it work.

I wanted to do more, but at least I know that they won’t be hungry for a day or two.  And I hope and pray that they hold hope in their hearts and that there journey will become easier.

I have continued to think about that trip to the store.

Did I do enough?

What else could I have done?

What was my responsibility?

If “need” is relative, what standard do I use to determine our needs vs wants?

Many questions.

Many choices and decisions.

Lots more to think about.

Need vs Want.

Sharing.

Kindness.

The journey continues.

kindness

Doors

I took a shower today.  I woke up this morning and realized that I couldn’t actually remember the last one I took.  To be honest, days around here are a bit confused anyway. Too much T.V. and morphine (my sister, not me).  I’m thinking about getting one of those little whiteboards like they use in the hospital…Today is Saturday, August 27, 2016.

Anyway, I took a shower.  Please don’t judge.  Some days we have to grab the small wins and run with them…

Now, I’m thinking about doors.  This was prompted by a Caring Bridge post by a friend with stage IV colon cancer.  She just found out that she wasn’t accepted into a drug trial that she was hoping for.  “No further information.  Just a closed door”, she wrote.

I’m thinking about the slammed, closed and locked doors that I’ve faced in my past. About the disbelief, grief and pain those door have caused.  The teen-age crush that didn’t work out.  The job that I didn’t get.  The phone call that never came.  The dream that wasn’t realized.

I’m wondering how many times I accepted that unopened door as a permanent “no”.  The times I didn’t go looking for a different door.  A different way to access that dream.

And, I’m pondering the times I did look for an alternative route and a different portal.  Or sometimes the opportunities that I didn’t actively seek, but that presented themselves with time and patience.  The man I married, a different job…

Looking back, some of those closed doors were a blessing in disguise.  I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but now it’s evident.  The teen-age crush that was based more on looks than compatibility.  The job that would have involved moving to another location and would have prevented me from being available for my sister now.

But doors that don’t open hurt when you run into them.  Sometimes, in hindsight, it may turn out to be for the best.  And sometimes, it may turn out that they were just stupid, closed doors that you  couldn’t get through.  You may never know the difference.

Still, there is hope in believing that there are many doors in life,  and most of them can be opened – with time, patience and discernment.

Today I will be in continued thought and prayer for those dealing with doorways…

Those standing at locked doors and looking for the next one.

Those hurt from the slamming of the door.

Those facing a door that is slowing closing and limiting their access both literally and figuratively.

Those locked behind a door wanting out but afraid and unsure of the next step.

Those who don’t have any doors available to them at all.

Those who can’t see the door because they don’t know where to look or are choosing not to.

And those standing in front of the door, but who are afraid to knock.

 

Losing It!

Last week ended on a rough note. I kinda lost it. I was so frustrated with life that I just blew. All the little (and some big) things that I’ve been dealing with pretty well, just started to seem like insurmountable hurdles…

The washer?  I’ve been okay with waiting on a new one or a new to us one and have been pretty patient – maybe not happy but working on a plan to get a new one. Until – Matilda the Basset Hound ate a whole lotta cream cheese that she stole off of the counter and threw up all over the sofa. Every stinking sofa cushion. And the stinking is an adjective in more ways than one. Yuck. The washer may sound better with our “poverty fix”, but it’s not washing very well. Yuck. I could only wash a slipcover or two at a time and even then they didn’t look or smell much better. I confess that I took the stick out that holds the washer at the appropriate angle and tried to beat the washer to death.  Didn’t even dent the washer – shattered the stick. Might have scared a few family members in the process.  Sorry guys.

The bad mood continued for two days. Bad moods aren’t productive. They happen because we are human, but they don’t solve any problems. They just create more – like guilt, anger, hurt feelings and headaches. I’ve gotten back to work on the three biggest issues that are causing our life to be less than perfect – the three main obstacles to a simpler, more intentional life:

  • Clutter and it’s contribution to an untidy, less than serene home
  • A diet and exercise that contributes to better health and to us feeling better mentally and physically
  • Financial well-being which includes better money management, a savings account and paid-off debt.

On Friday, we went to Houston to help our second daughter move into her first home post-graduation from college.  She moved from a suburb of Houston to almost down-town.  She did a lot of research and found a cute little apartment in a great neighborhood at a reasonable price.  Very proud of her.  Did I mention that it’s on the third floor?  She decluttered a lot of stuff, but the apartment is still on the third floor. A big thank you goes out to family in Houston that dropped everything on a Saturday and came to help haul stuff up. Up to the third floor in case I forgot to mention it.

She has inspired me to come home and recommence the decluttering effort. I can’t imagine (and don’t want to) what it would take to move us at this point. More has gotta go.

Anyway, I’m working on trimming down the budget some more to increase our debt snowball plan. I went back to look at the totals when we first started so I could feel a little bit more encouraged about the whole process and we have made some!

I’ve re-subscribed to The Fresh 20 meal that we used to use. I’m not advertising here, but I find it to be really helpful. I got an email for 40% off the subscription and it seemed like a good omen. I like it for three reasons:

  1. It helps limit the amount of groceries I buy. I tend to overbuy and we waste some food or just have too much in the pantry. I’d rather have just what we need and use the extra cash to pay on a bill.
  2. It includes a lot of veggies and fruit so we eat healthier. It’s reviewed by a dietician so I feel better about our diet.
  3. The main reason. I don’t have to figure out what we’re going to have for dinner.  That’s less stress for me and we are less likely to eat out at the last minute because I didn’t have a plan.

I’m getting closer to an actual budget (as opposed to a spending record).  I’m using You Need a Budget  which I find to be very friendly for a non-numbers person like me. The subscription is $5 monthly which is worth it for me because it helps keep me on track (and does the math for me). I just found out about Mint which is a free online budget. I’m trying it out, but am struggling with it a bit. It doesn’t track debts as well that are closed credit accounts or medical debts. It links to open credit accounts and automatically tracks payments, interest, and balances. Once again, not an advertisement – just information on what’s working for me.

And that’s why this post is titled Losing It.

Last week, I lost it and had a complete meltdown.  That sucked and was not helpful.

Now I’m to lose it in a good way:

  1. Lose more stuff!
  2. Lose food waste, unhealthy food and lose weight!
  3. Lose unnecessary budget expenses and debt!

Life is all about choices.  I’m going to keep trying to make good ones.

Weekend

We’re hustling and bustling around getting ready for a busy weekend.  Always so much to do on the weekends.

Hubby and son are working at their jobs and planning on some home improvement projects.  They are hoping to splash some paint on the walls of our main living area – a clean and bright white shade to lighten things up.   Plywood “flooring” has also been purchased.  It’s going to be installed in full sheets over the existing floor and coated with some shiny polyurethane. I’m hoping for a clean and simple “Scandinavian” look.   We’ve researched and pondered many different flooring types and decided that this is an affordable (and therefore, possible) option.  If we get rich later on in life (HA) we can just floor over the plywood.

This has been a good learning and growth experience for me.  I’ve had to think about what I need and what I want.  I’ve had to discern what I can be happy with and let go of what others might think of my choices and decisions.  It all comes down to what will make us happy when we walk in our front door. In my struggle to be “normal” and balance that desire with who I really am, I’m constantly comparing myself to others.  But, that’s changing.  Yea!

I’m happy with our new floor plan.  But, more importantly, I’m comfortable with it.  It’s a good decision for us.  I think it’s going to look great and suit our lifestyle.  Even better, it’s not going to cost a fortune.  We’ve saved up the cash to pay for it outright.  As we save more money, we can continue it throughout the rest of the house and not have to worry about matching the flooring. No debt.  No overextending ourselves.

While the family is slaving away here at the homestead, I will be off once again to Sherwood Forest Faire for another weekend of fun and merriment.  Well, mainly I’ll be slaving away in the kitchen while others are making merry.  Never fear, though.  I’ve managed to have a bit of fun myself. 

I don’t watch a lot of television. (I thought about not sharing this and fostering an image of an intellectual who reads the classics and eschews television in favor of more life-enriching experiences.)

But, the fact is, I freakin’ love Supernatural.  It’s just about the only show that I watch, other than British mysteries.  And I have an embarrassing infatuation with Dean Winchester.   And this happened last Sunday!  I always hoped that I’d be the mature individual who saw a celebrity and calmly walked past without becoming a flaming idiot.  Nope.  Didn’t happen.  I turned into a crazy, stalker-fan.  Sigh.  At least I haven’t printed it out and framed it…yet.  It would look great next to my life-sized cardboard cut-out of Jensen Ackles that currently lives in my studio.  For the record, I didn’t purchase said item.  It was a Christmas gift from my son.

Well, off to another adventure filled weekend in the Forest.  Wonder what will happen this weekend?