Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Small Victory and One Piece of the Big Puzzle

This might seem really small, but the accomplishment of it has made a big difference. I successfully set and carried through on a weekly food budget for our family. I set the amount on Sunday, made the list, made the food plan for the week, organized the coupons and headed to the store with the girls, each with their own job of list carrier,  coupon holder and bargain finder. After I wrote the check for the food, I then wrote a check to myself for the amount we'd saved and I deposited it into a household savings account. I even made Jack pay me back for the amount he'd gone over, which he did with a certain amusement at my insistence that we adhere to the budget. We made it through the week and spent, almost to the penny, exactly what I set out to do and which included wine, chocolate and some really good meals.

A first step, one that has taken me a number of decades and the better part of this month to make happen. And which represents the most hopeful part of all of this because of its' smallness.

I've been described as a big person. Not in physicality, but in my energy. I think big, can usher in a big energetic wave that I recognize can be overwhelming to some, especially employers. I don't believe it's completely an issue of ego, but more how I feel about this life. How much I love this life and how much I want to live in and make the most of it for as long as I can.

So for me to do something as small as follow through on one week of our family's food budget, is no small thing. It is probably one of the biggest things I've done in a very long time, other than becoming a mother three times over.

The small victory of sticking to a modest weekly food budget that reflects our income and expenses is that I realized the bigness in a small and simple act in my own life. So often, the bigness of our world sets the bar for just how much we expect of ourselves in terms of out put, energy and accomplishments, when as Margaret Mead wrote:

"A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Our family is a small group of thoughtful people and I believe we can change the world. Our world, to begin with and hopefully, the larger world through the daily act of our living.

And the small act for my family that changed our world this week is that I proved we could set a limit and live within it. I taught my children that frugality is a positive way to live, as is planning and following through. They've watched their father and me go through this struggle, they've experienced the stress of it themselves in reduced activities, postponed necessary and wanted purchases, not to mention living with a high degree of stress. But as we rolled the shopping cart down the aisle and then they watched me write a check to our family, and the look on their faces when we figured out how much we'd save in one year if we put just this modest amount away every week, I knew I'd started a little revolution in our home. And in our life.

One small change showed up in the way of a shopping cart moving slowing down a grocery stores aisles.

Tomorrow morning, as I sip my coffee and read the paper, I'll cut the coupons and plan the meals. The grocery list is already made.

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