Finding peace

Today is a better day, the plumbing problem of yesterday was resolved…it seems that putting the carrot scraps down the garbage disposal was a bad idea. Turns out that the fabulous carrot cake I made Sunday night was worth $150, its going to take the Spousal Unit a while to live that down, since he is the one who clogged the plumbing.

However a comment left by a friend yesterday has reminded me of the need to live in the moment. Its a lesson I struggle with especially as someone prone to panic attacks. The last big attack was a couple of years ago and was pretty costly since it required a trip to the ER.

I generally seek peace in the Bible and through prayer but truthfully I often come up short. In all my years of living,I find it’s a lot easier to be in the moment when my needs are met. I suspect I am not alone, in fact its no wonder poor folks especially in the US tend to kick the bucket too soon. How does one be in the moment and be at peace when you are struggling to get the basics such as food, shelter and utilities and be an upstanding adult and honor your commitments to other creditors?

In recent months, we have heard of folks who are so bogged down with financial pressures that they choose to take not only their lives but the lives of family members. Clearly many of us are grappling with the increasngly turbulent financial landscape, a place where despite working one still may not earn enough to pay their bills…jobs with no benefits, etc.

Yet nothing is ever promised, even the pursuit of education no longer translates into a good steady paycheck though you can be assured that if you took out loans to get that education, you will have that debt hanging over your head…just one more pressure to add to the many that so many of us face.

I wish I had the answers, then if I did, I would probably be selling it. No, I don’t know that there is an answer but I have started a seemingly simple activity that makes me see the value and joy in each day….even the bad ones.

I end my days writing out the 5 things that I am thankful for or that gave me joy in the day. As of late, its included things such as my daughter not having tantrums, the Spousal Unit taking her out to give me a break and so on. Its really the small things at this point that add the joy and make me realize that its not all gloom and doom despite the low numbers in my bank account and the fact that I owe more than I can afford to pay out.

So when the world feels like its going mad, what do you do to find the joy and seek peace in your life?

Seek serenity not security

Its a busy week up here in Maine, work deadlines and monthly female woes have me under the weather so I may be a tad sporadic in posting this week. That said, I wanted to share something that I read this week from this book SimpleAbundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. The author wrote this book during the economic downturn of the 1990’s but clearly with the financial happenings going on at present the lessons can be applied to our current day.

Too many of us of, yours truly included seek security in having financial stability yet as we are learning in this downturn, our so-called stability from either our seemingly stable jobs (not) to our hefty savings in 401K’s and other financial instruments can be taken away at any time. Even those plastic cards we keep in our wallets can suddenly mean less if the card issuers decide to take away our high limits.

So in these turbulent times, I invite you to join me on the quest for financial serenity…to seek peace no matter where we are financially. If you are like me, you may have a mountain of debt yet if your basics such as shelter and food are taken care of, then you have much to be thankful for. In today’s NY Times, there is a piece about the growing numbers of families across the country who have lost their homes but are living in motels…folks who were formerly middle class and at the moment are not being tallied as homeless, they are living below the radar. It goes without saying, these folks are having a rough time.

It also served as a reminder that as I look at my large house that through God’s grace and blessings, no longer carries a mortgage, though I will of course have to pay insurance and taxes that I am indeed blessed. So while the daily news is grim, lets look at what we have and be thankful.

Catch ya later…happy Hump Day!

Simple Living, race and class

I know, the title is goofy as hell, but right now no sooner than I start feeling better my allergies decide to act up, so back to hazy head. Please bear with a sista.

Anyway this is more of a rant and a chance to stop thinking about the election before I start raising my blood pressure. See, I love looking at blogs and sites that talk about simple living. It always touches that Suzy Homemaker side of me when I visit a blog with some cool ass pictures of some homemade treats. Hell, just the other day I was inspired to make some banana-chocolate chip muffins which I must say were very nice. (sorry no pics, them babies is long gone)

However most of these sweet Suzy Homemaker blogs that go on about the joys of cooking from scratch are written by white women. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but I am starting to think that middle class white woman’s view of inexpensive and my Black view of inexpensive are two different things.

In the crafty Mama circles there is a woman who blogs who is well known, now this blogger lives in Maine, probably about 20 mins from me as best as I can tell plus I know someone who knows her (that whole 6 degrees of separation thing). Now this blogger does a wonderful job of making her little life look cosy and affordable but living here in Maine, I can tell you she is full of shit.

See, every store or restaurant she mentions shopping at, us locals know is not cheap. She often writes about what she cooks in fact she posted an amazing recipe for pasta sauce, she got the tomatoes from her CSA (community supported agriculture) and the local farmers market. Well how come my Black ass spent $21 yesterday buying the tomatoes to make this recipe? Yeah, it came out tasty and shit but 6 pounds of tomatoes at $3.60 a pound ain’t cheap. Shit, I could have bought some Classico for $2.29 a jar and been done with it. Since in addition to the tomatoes I had to get garlic and basil. By the time I was done, I could have eaten out and it would have been cheaper. And, there usually aren’t many deals for organic and healthy; but Kelloggs coupons are a dime a dozen.

I see this sort of thing happen a lot online, where folks are seeking a simpler life and often white folks will say make it yourself its cheaper. Now all summer I have been pricing shit out and the fact is I spend more at the farmers market than when I shop at the grocery store. Ultimately its worth the money to me to eat local and organic since I think in the end the benefits outweigh the costs but lets not lie to ourselves its not always cheaper dollar for dollar.

Take bread, I know all these folks that suggest making your own bread. I almost fell for that until I realized that my bread consumption (low) is not worth the cost of a bread machine or the kitchen-aid mixer I need to make bread. Have you seen the price on these items? Sorry, my local Goodwill don’t ever have shit like that lying around… I know I keep hoping to find em.

No, all this ranting is about the fact that in my humble opinion, to live a frugal, simple, healthy eating style life generally requires you already have some resources at hand. I mean if all you got is $30 to feed you and a kid or two for a week, the reality is eating produce from the farmers market or the co-op probably won’t stave off them hunger pangs. On the other hand some lunch-meat sammiches on white bread and ramen noodles while unhealthy as hell, will keep the hunger pangs at bay.

In an online community that I am part of, someone brought up a KFC commercial that is running that speaks of getting a chicken dinner to feed the family for $10. Many of the community participants said that was a rip off and that they could make a fried chicken dinner for under $10. Damn, well my hat off to you because I will admit I stopped frying chicken because it was too time consuming for starters plus when I buy enough chicken to feed my crew it ain’t cheap. Even in my little hamlet here in Maine, barring a sale on the chicken, a fried chicken dinner with some fresh mashed potatoes and handmade biscuits costs me more than $10. So again, dollar wise that KFC deal would in fact be a bargain, but taste wise cooking myself would be better.

Now I know most folks would say, well you buy when stuff is on sale and stock it up in your freezer. What about if you are broke and don’t have extra money to stock up for the future? See, I been there too. Thankfully I do have a spare freezer that is stocked but again having been po, that wasn’t always my reality and for folks on the financial edge that often isn’t their reality either.

Nope, while I think its great to strive for a simpler life where one can home cook meals if that is what they desire, I think its naive to not see the privilege inherent that makes such a lifestyle not available to everyone. Back to the blogger I mentioned earlier, she is a stay at home Mama but her husband has a very lucrative career. Lets just say she is not married to a freelance writer like yours truly.