Monday, 20 July 2009

Creating a new normality!

By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

We live in a completely over-scheduled society. Gone are the days of working 8-4 and spending evenings with your family or within your community, now a significant percentage of people spend evenings running errands, chauffeuring their kids to one activity & another, working, working from home, checking emails, hitting the shops. When I lived in North America, my local shops were open until 9 or 9:30 pm every night, my chemist aka pharmacist was either 24 hours or open until midnight, the book shops were open until 10pm as were coffee houses, cafes and many other establishments. Even though I wasn't necessarily accomplishing anything I was often out 3-4 evenings a week just doing "stuff" aka buying stuff. Then I moved back to England and a smaller town in the West Country where shops shut at 5pm, coffee shops 4pm or 6pm if you are lucky. And I hated it, yes this anti-shopping, simple living girl hated that there was "nothing open". Oh how I've changed.

Once I started my simple life, I started living. My evenings became time to be home, time to learn to cook, bake, sew, knit. I began joining activities like book groups and knitting clubs within my community, I began to volunteer an evening each week and 1/2 a day at the weekend. I began to meet people, neighbours, people in surrounding villages.

Today it hit me, as I sat looking at the sea in front of me, at a social event in the community next to mine, that my turning away from consumerism, from buying, from "stuff", I had created a new normality. A normality that gives me time to help others. A normality that gives me time to reflect and pray. A normality that gives me time to learn new hobbies and explore my interests. A reality that means I can work part time and follow what I really want to do in life, rather than working for a paycheck. None of this happened overnight, I had to pay off my debts, I had to have an emergency fund, I had to have changed my spending, established a difference between need and want, turn my back on the latest anything, but I for one couldn't be happier.

This week I lost a very good friend, far too young (early 40's) with young children and it was such a stark reminder for me about how important really living is, how important it is to have time rather than money or a bigger house; to follow your passions, to make a difference; to really live.

I'm really living now. Are you?