Friday, March 29, 2013

bennetts back to basics...

it's been an incredibly busy last few months (which i feel like i say all the time on here)... among other things, we took a vacation with some dear friends, i had galbladder surgery, we had a three part family christmas, a new year's party, work got crazy stressful and i hated it, then it got better and i loved it, and i launched my etsy shop!  as much as i'd like to say i'll be updating you about all of those things, i think it's better that i just move forward instead of trying to recap the last five months.  today's post is a bit long and there aren't any pictures, but over the past few months i've had time to reflect and there are some big changes coming, i can feel it coming!

not long after my dad passed away last May, i realized that there are so many things i/we take for granted just because they seem like 'normal' things to have... from big things like an affordable home, good jobs, amazing friends and family to the completely unnecessary things like a big-screen tv, laptops, and nice vehicles.  we even have an abundance of food and clothing, and our relative health (minus a gallbladder issue i had last fall and jhubs' recent cold, we're pretty healthy people).  while my dad was sick, my sister's family and we were blessed to be able to help out by taking meals over, running errands, doing a bit of work on their house to make it easier for dad and even help mom after he passed.  at the time it was a no-brainer, you give what you can, help where you can, step up and do what it takes but, afterwards, i realized how incredibly blessed we are to  have been able to do it and how thankful that i am that our parents raised us to be the kind of people that help other people.

looking back on my childhood, i really didn't understand how hard my parents were working to keep a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator.  i think that part of the reason i never realized it was because my parents seemed to be the people that were always helping out other people instead of the ones getting the help.  my parents started out their marriage in a very small, subsidized apartment with a seven year old daughter and within a couple of years they had me.  they were making very little money but they were doing the best they could in the early 1980's.  they still managed to make sure that my sister and i had food, clothes, a warm bed to sleep in and lots of love.  i do remember times when we couldn't have a friend stay for dinner because there wasn't enough food to squeeze out another plateful but usually, if someone needed a meal, they were welcome at our table. because my dad could sew, he was constantly doing repairs, minor tailoring or adjustments for friends and family but always refused to be paid for his work with anything other than cookies or a hearty hand-shake.  there would be times that, as a family, we would spend the weekend helping friends with home repairs, or volunteering for our church and by the end of the day be so exhausted that the thought of 'nothing sounds good so lets just go out for dinner' was on everyone's mind but because they couldn't afford it, it wasn't an option, we had to make do with whatever we pull together from the fridge and pantry, even if we were a few days past needing to get groceries.  as hard as they worked for everything they had, the call to help those in need wasn't lost on them and i want to keep that as a focus for my family once we have children.

don't get me wrong, we do help our friends and family when we can and we help with events at church but we've been lacking in the discipline to really do more with less, we're doing more with more in a sense.  we've gotten too used to stopping on the way home for fast-food or buying whatever toys/gadgets/electronics we want, spending way too much time, money and energy on things that don't really matter because of our 'first world problems'.  the way to get us back on track, i think, is my back-to-basics project.

i read a blog post the other day about a family that does a debt-free month (at least i think that's what they called it) where they basically use up everything they have, de-clutter the house and reevaluate their budget to get themselves back on track and had a total lightbulb moment, the project.  There are just a few basic steps:

1.) inventory what we have in the fridge/freezer/cupboards/etc and use up as much of it without having to purchase more than the bare minimum.

2.) pick one room/area a week and spend lots of time deep cleaning, organizing, purging and focusing on just that room

3.) cut down our budget on everything and try to spend as little money as possible while, inversely, saving as much as possible to pay off that last bit of credit card debt and recharge our savings account plus start a discretionary fund for donating to those in need

4.) reconnect with each other by doing things other than watching tv every night; make use of our extensive game collection, pool table, and tackle the projects on our to-do list that we have all of the supplies for but haven't had the time to do them

that's it, really just getting ourselves back on track and trying to live a bit cleaner, happier, healthier.  once we've changed the way we live, we'll be able to put our priorities back in order and focus on the bigger picture.  if you want to join us on this wild ride, be sure to check back next saturday (april 6th) to see what we managed to get done.  i think we're going to start in the kitchen!

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