Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Accepting Alternatives

One day I was heating some food in the microwave and realized there was a hairline crack down the side of one of my bowls. I was bummed but got another bowl from the cabinet....it too had a small hairline crack, there were two other bowls left and guess what, one of them had a small crack.

I remember moving to Florida on what most people would call a hope and dream, throw in my last dime and I was really trying to make things work. I bought my dish set at Goodwill. I remember looking at the sets and loving the flowers, when I turned a plate over and saw they were made in Ireland I decided to get them knowing I would never see these same dishes again.

Thoughts of new dishes raced through my head. I was thinking about Fiesta Ware in all red or some old Correlle dish ware from the 60's or 70's. It was fun, I was thinking about where to go and what my price point would be....but I had just paid my bills and I knew there were no new dish sets in my immediate future. I was struggling to find a decision that wouldn't land on a credit card and give me buyers remorse.

A light bulb turned on! My mother had sent me a set of plastic picnic wear her company had given to her at their annual company picnic years ago. It was bright blue and well...plastic. I had thought about giving that box of picnic ware dishes to Goodwill on numerous occasions but something always stopped me.

I pulled out the box they had been sitting in for three or four years, untouched and unloved. In that moment as I looked at the box I thought of something my mother often says about the 'pull of the universe', where instead of trying to force things to happen you have to let them happen on their own. I put the box on the kitchen counter and took out the items. My son immediately wanted to use the bowls for a snack. He loved them! I washed them and in the cupboards they went. Four brand new, microwave safe, blue bowls. I didn't have to leave the house, the answer to my problems was already present I just had to accept that what I had was good to use. No running out of the house to shop for styles and prices and try to sale and coupon hunt. I already had the solution in my home. 

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to saving money and living frugally is to get over the expectations in your head that you NEED things. We didn't need a fancy brand new, expensive set of dishes. Would it be nice? Sure. But is it necessary? No. I had to accept an alternative to the commercial idea that everything should be new and shiny and come in a box and look around at what we had already. Strangely enough it was new and in a box....hmmm but it was something we had that was utilized, so we opened the box and used it.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cleaning up the Neighborhood

In the last few months since finishing my last pre requisite class - with an A I might add!!! I've joined the neighborhood Civic Association, a non profit educational foundation committed to building community. It also has a Neighborhood Watch which works closely with it. 

Over the last week or so I noticed this tree while driving to pick my son up at school. In Florida we call this time of year 'season' where all the tourists flock and we have tourist season, affectionately said season as not to offend anyone. One of the small inconveniences we have from season is heightened traffic, the offset however is no state income tax. 

Back to the story.....I noticed this tree and while in stand still traffic realized that the lovely black and white things were shoes not birds!!! What?!! That's a gang sign!!! Gang's will rob someone and then string the person's shoes to a telephone wire or tree, or shoes in front or around a house mean that house or a house near by may be dealing drugs. I decided it was time to put a little NIMBY, not in my neighborhood, in action!!

On Friday I stopped at the house on my way home from picking up my son and obtained permission to enter the yard to remove the shoes from an adult member of the house hold. He said they had been there for FOUR years!!! And they were just waiting for them to rot off. He figured it was neighborhood kids that did it.....wow. The tree was bordering a canal, but can you imagine four years of living with that literally in your back yard? I was pretty astounded at the mindset to let them rot. 

Yesterday morning at 9 am the head of the Neighborhood Watch, my six year old son, and I went out with a pole saw, ladder, and garbage bag and got to work. 

We removed two garbage bags worth of shoes. Leaving six in the tree we just couldnt get to. Al, the Neighborhood Watch leader will be contacting the county to see if they will help in getting the remaining shoes down. 

One small step for the neighborhood reclaiming it's beauty and feeling of safety. 

The final results, the tree had six pairs of shoes/flip flops left when we were done. We removed over 20 pairs of shoes.