Monday, December 17, 2012

Finding Balance

While this post is not about the recent violence in our country, I could not begin to write without addressing at least one part of this issue.  When it comes to firearm deaths per capita, we are the tenth worse in the world. Is anyone, even the NRA comfortable with that number? We're right on the middle of Mexico, Paraguay, Nicaragua and South Africa. We're afraid to travel to Mexico because of violence, but we have the same level in this country. Why is it that we take a person;s driver's license away for any one of a dozen reasons, but we'll sell anyone a gun. I'm not opposed to guns. I'm extremely opposed to this idea that anyone anywhere can have a gun, just because he or she "wants" one. And I don't understand why gun advocates are opposed to any restrictions, even sensible ones such as background checks and refusing to sell guns to those with a history of mental health. Oh, and honestly, does any one NEED an assault rifle?  Back to our scheduled program..............

Recently someone pointed something out to me. A friend mentioned that most people she knows who are happy living a fairly frugal life have one or two passions (in terms of financial spending) and spend very conservatively in other areas. They also set the same kind of priorities in living situations. You cannot always have the location, size, view, and neighborhood all at the same time.  The problem on occasion can be deciding what those priorities are. This is a very good description as to how many of us manage our funds. No one can have (or buy) everything. Even when it comes to adjusting and downsizing and lowered circumstances or expectations, the people I know who are most miserable are those who bemoan, not one or two things, but ALL the things they are missing out on. Different people will make different choices depending on circumstances. Some fellow bloggers care nothing about travel. Others feel the need for regular dining out.

As I move to downsize, I've been evaluating some of those priorities.  When it comes to areas of spending, well........I need good fabric and crafting supplies and money for travel-on a semi regular basis. I'm not saying that everything else needs to leave my life, just that those two areas are where I direct all my "disposable" income.  I've not given up movies, I just get them from Redbox, and hit the big theater a couple times a year. I enjoy concerts, but I'm willing to substitute mainly free and local events with a rare treat thrown in. My local town's Christmas symphony is an example.  I adore true gourmet food, but I'm willing to eat at home or in dinner groups and ask for my one or two your TV chef meal on special occasions (usually during restaurant week)

Certainly there are other passions that are important to me, family, church, volunteering, reading.....and more. These are not generally things that require financial commitment, but rather time and energy (a separate issue for sure). Having lots of these kind of passions and activities along with some high energy and or more expensive passions makes for equilibrium,

When it comes to how and where to live, as many of my readers know, I still am working that one out. At this particular point in time, I don't feel a passion per se for this house. It may be that once I've downsized I'll mourn both the space and lost home ownership, but I honestly I do not think so. It's true that there will be some adjustment. It's true that I've expanded to my available space, and that I enjoy my patio and yard (mainly for my dogs' sakes).  But when I choose those few things that affect me most in terms of housing, it's not the space or yard necessarily. I know I need space for children to come and stay. I know I need a low maintenance or no maintenance situation, and I know for now I need dog friendliness (not a yard, just grass and a dog park). I'm not even sure I feel a passion for home ownership, especially since in my case even with a condo that would be payments until I'm seventy.

So, I continue to work on the balance thing-trying to leave this house while taking some equity out, evaluating locations, and so on. Right now I intersperse those activities with intensive sewing and Christmas preparations. After the holidays I'll concentrate mainly on those issues, as well as planning my spring road trip (as much as I can with a house on the market at the same time), and doing lifestyle comparisons between Texas and Denver.

My immediate goal is to find balance in Christmas. This year for the first time, I am making all of my gifts for the Texas contingent of fourteen. (Next year, I'll be suggesting shopping for the younger generation or name pulling, except for my own two). That attitude has already been shown in pre-Christmas giving.  The sugar scrubs below were photographed on my island right before bagging-and made by my darling daughter, not myself. Peppermint and apple/cinnamon sugar scrubs were my gift to my woman's support group. I n like fashion, I received mini candles and floral arrangements (made), hand lotion and wreath ornaments (purchased) and homemade goodies. A great start to the giving season.

I've also started my baking. Rather than assign a baking day, my intention is to spend some time every day sewing, some time sewing and crafting, and some time baking or making food gifts each day. I will probably spend one day finishing up and wrapping the food gifts (standing in the kitchen all day will kill my knee and I just don't get the right angle sitting on a stool).  Every organizational book written talks about dividing the kitchen into zones. I do a poor job of that, good cook that I am (perhaps because I have a dog who can reach the island if he wants to). However, when it comes to baking, my little corner is set up. Mixer is always in place along with spices. I've pulled out flours and sugars and powders (all in bags to large to fit into a canister) and I'm ready to bake. On the agenda, decorated sugar cookies (a future business I hope), brown sugar short breads, Mexican wedding rings, chocolate chip, cream wafers, lime basil cookies....and at least one new recipe. Should keep me busy this week, no?

Finally, today that packet of lovely bird fabric arrived. That means sewing two and maybe three runners in the next day for Christmas eve delivery.  That and my current Christmas gift project should keep me busy today and tomorrow. How are your Christmas plans going?


  1. Great post, Barb... :) I need to bake, wrap, finish off some gifts, etc... but it's been hectic so I'm not really feeling it right now. :( Your runners look great so far! Hope you'll post the finished pictures!

  2. I agree that priorities are important when deciding how to spend leftover money. For us, it's travel and eating out in a few friendly neighborhood places. We have downsized Christmas quite a bit since our children grew up. Now we give to our grandchildren and do a "pick a gift or steal" at our annual family gathering.

    Our house? We love it but don't need this much space. We currently live in the upstairs except for the laundry room. Maybe we can do that forever!

  3. Thanks Carla..the white and thirties squares are not runners by the way. That is a full sized quilt.

  4. I agree with you on the guns -- no civilian needs an assault rifle, and there's no reason not to regulate guns like we do cars.

    As for the downsizing -- I myself downsized once before, after my divorce, and found out it was no big deal. We'll do it again once B retires.

  5. My four trips a year to see my grandson and twice a year to see mom suck up most of my travel budget. It is what it is :>)
    Glad to see you taking it one step at a time.


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