My uncle and aunt in Winnipeg are grand masters in saving and using everything. My uncle used to be the treasurer for the Mennonite Central Committee and he was the best man for the job. Though he will dispute 3 cents on a bill and not waste one pasta noodle I would never say he is cheap. My uncle is a generous man who has helped fund many important projects and given openly to people in need. My aunt, a nurse, has worked tirelessly for others and her door is always opened in hospitality.
This morning just as I was chiding myself for overspending yesterday I had a call. It was a friend wanting to meet for coffee. I accepted right away. No it didn’t work into the plan of saving every penny but it did work into the plan of creating the life I want to live. My friend has cancer and tomorrow, 9/11 she will have a difficult surgery. Don’t get me wrong. This is a strong and wonderful woman and we would not be embracing and weeping and melodramatic. She is not her disease. I knew with her we’d be laughing, sharing and living. We went to a wonderful arts cafe, the Watershed in Walnut Grove and enjoyed our scones and coffees (mine was a hot cocoa with hazelnut, yum). We talked for over two hours and hugged. The money spent enriched my life far more than the few dollars could have ever done. his challenge is about more than just saving money. The point is destressing, decluttering, self discipline and organizing priorities.
When I was a social worker at a care home I led a caregiver support group. All of them had a lot of stress but some held up remarkably well while others crumbled. One of the exercises we did was to have people write down their top five priorities. I then had them write down their top five usages of time. For the people whose lists were very close, they had the best handle on the stress. For the ones with almost no crossover they were depressed and scattered. They felt incredibly frustrated. What are your priorities? What and who do you treasure?
For many people the token list looks something like: 1. God 2. spouse 3. children 4. friends 5. recreation. Often time usage is 1. work 2. TV 3. video games/e-mails/facebook etc. 3. shopping 4. cell phone 5. family.
Investing your time in your priorities is essential to balancing your life. If you say you have a best friend you haven’t seen in a couple of years you need to get them on your calendar now. As a Canadian I am here to tell you that you can’t vote on American Idol so your favourite will not be sent home if you miss this week’s episode, but your friendship may fade to nothingness if you don’t act fast. Marriages need constant upgrading. Even a palace will look like a dump if it isn’t maintained. Go have fun with your spouse. Enjoy your kids rather than just letting them get caught up in the frustration of your out of control life. It doesn’t matter if I create a cool rug if my son is feeling more and more detatched each day because his achievements go unnoticed and uncelebrated. In a lot of ways we make our lives more complicated than we need to.
So today I took my friend for coffee and I feel completely on track with my goals. Next time I will entertain at home. I will strive to live my priorities.
Money spent today $10.78, avoided fast food on the way home and have dinner bubbling in the pot. I gathered 4 cups of blackberries and now have enough for jam. Hooray!
And mom? I love you.