Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Spirit of Adventure

We hear a lot of talk about the economy these days. Everyone likes to play the blame game. The former president did this; the present president isn’t doing that. Foreign oil, American greed and the list of people to blame is endless.
Yet, for those of us who are living on a fixed income we can’t afford to even enter the blame game. We are struggling with simple things like depression, bill collectors, and poor credit ratings and learning to live without the use of a credit card.
In a world that has gone techno, it seems odd to only use a debit card and not charge anything to pay later. I am one who had at one time new cars, several credit cards and a full time job that paid decent. All of a sudden, illness made it impossible to continue my line of work. I had to learn to be creative and not depend on charging anything to pay later. Thankfully, my children were grown and able to take care of themselves.
My 401K was gone and suddenly I became aware that I had become dependent on credit. As a young couple we didn’t mind working to earn what we wanted. Somewhere along the line we got caught up in wanting things that our income did not afford. Credit cards made it appear that we were able to have those things.
When I was no longer working, the bill collectors began their new jobs. We began to seek counsel from well meaning financial consultants. Yet in the end we had only one choice. We sold everything and began a totally new way of life.
We went from a 3 bedroom colonial style home to a one bedroom apartment. That meant we went from having a garage, storage shed, attic, basement and several closets to one closet and a linen closet…period.
We no longer were able to join our friends in simple dinner parties at restaurants like we used to. Going on vacations to exotic places ended. Shopping sprees with impulse buying became a thing of the past. In fact, we no longer were able to shop at the big name supermarkets. Discount supermarkets and dollar stores became an adventure.
Did I say adventure? Well, it’s all in how you look at things. You see, it was hard to relearn how to shop, what to do for fun, and how to live on one income. Yet, if you think about the great depression of the thirties you will find that those people had it worse than we do now. Certain foods were not readily available. You had to have a stamp for meats and other items. Ration stamps! Will our nation come to that again? I hope not.
Yet, here we are with employment lows that boggle the mind. Children getting out of college are forced to take a job making hamburgers. Now, do not misunderstand me. I do not scoff at any job. Yet, we suffer more than just economic lows.
We are seeing a moral low that is staggering. Crime rates are increasing as witnessed by the news. When you walk by people in the stores, take a moment to look at their faces. Most will have a dazed look on their face as they search for what they can afford.
The health situation has changed with the economic low as well. People are eating what they can afford, which is a lot of carbohydrates. They are depressed and have no energy or will to get off the couch. They are gaining weight and that depresses them more.
People on a budget that barely gets them by seldom go to gyms. Yet, if we look to our ancestors who survived ‘The great depression’ we will see that they walked to most places. They ate smaller portions. They relearned how to cook, spend money and what to do for entertainment.
We can learn from their lives. I truly believe we can use this time of economic crisis to become creative in making ways to survive with the right attitude.
Simple things can become a great source of relaxation and recreation. This rests our troubled brains. My husband likes to have projects to accomplish. He has made our tiny patio his project. His plants are decorative and he does all the maintenance.
Free entertainment is not hard to find if you belong to a church. Or, even if you just visit a church. They always have plays, picnics, pot luck suppers and things to attend. This keeps your social life free from boredom and it’s a safe place for children. Your social life need not suffer if you can no longer keep up with the Jones.
Theatres have half price seating at matinees. Rather than having an expensive night out, why not plan a picnic lunch and a movie? Stay away from the popcorn and soda though.
My husband loves the smell of food baking. I love to mess around in the kitchen too. This is a peaceful hobby.
If you adopt an attitude of excitement over a new adventure rather than fear of what’s to come, you will find that your new life is not so bad. For instance, my husband and I spent a few weeks going from supermarket to supermarket to find out which one gave us more bang for the buck. We had fun doing this.
Recently, our rent went up so high that we felt it time to move. After weighing all of the options, we made a week end of it. We went to several apartments and condos with the idea of a fun week end. In the end, we found a perfect place that was less money and better than where we were.
Our life became an experiment in how much could we save. How much could we live without? But, we know that the Lord is not trying to get us to have a poverty mentality either. We enjoy a clean and pretty environment. We eat good food. We enjoy times of recreation too.
When the bad days come, and they do…we try not to go overboard in fear, anger and anxiety. Those are the days when I pray silently. I look to the one who gives me the strength. Yet, I do not stay in the Valley of Baca! [Weeping, bad place] The bible talks about this valley.
As a child of God, we are sometimes like any other child. They fall down, get upset and then get up. They then have a choice to either sulk or go on a new adventure. I choose adventure in these trying times.

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