I am SO smart, that even my smartness surprises me. But seriously, I didn't know it when I suggested this craziness... I just thought "Hey, we need to cut our expenses. We need to ditch a huge chunk of our monthly budget." I am so glad that my husband believed me and went along with me as we checked out a very rough garage bay conversion. What was once a modest (I am being kind here) office for my grandpa on his organic farm is now our home. Damn I was smart! Because anything after this will feel like the Ritz and any sort of setback that befalls us will be greeted with a pioneering spirit and an attitude of gratitude. As I sit at the computer right now, I am decked out in my favorite robe, warm socks, long pants, and a turtleneck....because we aren't turning on the heat until we absolutely have to. I like it. It feels good to see just how much we can move outside of what was once comfortable. How much can we sacrifice? How much can we do without and still find beauty and a spirit of gratitude for the simple things. I think we are capable of giving up quite a bit.
I was smart and I didn't even know it.
I didn't know how much this experience would test me, break me...save me? Absolutely. I am changed. Changed for the better.
Do I miss spending money at J Crew. Yes! Do I wish I had a bigger home and a dishwasher? Oh yes, yes I do. But I also know I can be happy without it too.
Some days I am sad, tired, mad. Some days I cry. Its hard living with uncertainty and limited means. Its really hard, and I am not going to downplay that or act as if everything is just peachy. Its not. Sometimes I feel hurt and frustrated at how completely unaware people can be. Sometimes we get remarks like "oh I would love to be able to quit my job and go back to school" as if we are SO fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in poverty (well we are but not in a way that most can understand) to that I reply "you can...we did" And although comments like that can be irritating, they also remind me to remind myself that we did choose this. We chose to do something REALLY unconventional and extreme in order to have something better for ourselves.
It's been an awesome lesson and we are only a 3rd of the way through it so I cannot wait for the continued growth that is yet to come. And I want to take this time to thank those that have been so supportive of us...cheered us on when things seemed bleak, or given us big things that were truly needed (ahem, fridge...money for dental work ), or just slipped us a twenty on the sly. Just as needed and appreciated, in fact even more valuable are all the encouraging words and "yeah that's awesome" or "keep going!" comments we get.
This experience has been like a diamond in the rough. Dank, dirty, messy, and just ugh...but beneath all that is a shining, life brightening experience that has taught me about my own capacity to sacrifice and find gratitude in simple things, and has reinforced in me that my personal relationships are the real marks of a happy life...Good quality people who add to my life in countless ways.
October is halfway over and I cannot believe it. I have no idea where the summer went and how we are now, essentially, staring down the Holiday season...but I am so glad that it is flashing by. Not because I want to rush the process...believe me, I am taking it in every time I rinse my kids' dirty underwear in the wash basin outside instead of just throwing it in the wash machine I don't have. I am glad because October through January is the hardest time of year for me and I know that once I get through it I can handle the rest of the year...and then (before we know it) we will be facing the home stretch. The last year. I am going to have to dream up something creative to commemorate this time in our lives. I don't want our kids or myself to EVER forget it. I don't ever want to forget how hard I worked, how I didn't give up even when it really sucked. I want my kids to know I did this for me, sure...but I really did it for them
Maybe one day they will say..."dang, mom was smart" ;)