Friday, March 9, 2012
What helps luck is a habit of looking for opportunities,
of having a patient but restless mind, of sacrificing one's
ease or vanity, or uniting a love of detail to foresight, and
of passing through hard times bravely and cheerfully.
Above is a picture of a cupboard that my husband made from a discarded window that we found on the curb. Our kitchen is small, 17 X 7 feet. So we don't have a lot of storage. But we needed something to fit inside the little niche that is created by the chimney wall. We searched for a suitable cupboard and even toyed with having the local Amish make us one, but in the end we came home, put on our thinking caps and created this one. And it's like it was meant to be! Lucky me!
So often I hear people tell me that I'm lucky. Lucky that my house is paid off. Lucky that we were able to put our boys through college. Lucky that we don't have any debt. Luck had very little to do with it. Indeed, we had more than our fair share of misfortune. But if there is any "luck" involved in our lives, is that we had enough foresight to learn to be thrifty at an early age, enough sense of ourselves not to be swayed by fads, enough patience not to become indebted to credit cards but to wait until we were able to afford what we needed.
There were years that we had only one car (and a clunker at that), which meant I walked to the grocery store with a baby in a wagon and another in a stroller. No wonder I was so skinny back then! There were years when we had no discretionary income. I learned to add interest to my small wardrobe by adding a pin, belt, or scarf. Turning the hem up or adding a peek of lace to it. Not eating what we were "hungry" for, but eating what we could afford from reduced for quick sale produce and meats and creative uses of leftovers. In other words, what we lacked in funds, we made up for in creativity.
I think that the most important muscle you can exercise in learning to become thrifty, is learning how to be creative. Really, that old phrase "making do" means just figuring out how to do or obtain something without spending money. How do I make that old ratty davenport look nice? How about making some cute pillows from the scrapbag and adding a throw knitted from leftover yarn? Sure is cheaper than going out and buying a new one. Can you combine several cans of paint to make a pleasing color for those old tired looking walls? Maybe planting a pretty garden from plants started from seed and painting the front door a pretty color is all you need to make your "less than a dream" house become a dream house. Which leads me to my second point .....
Be content! So many times I hear people be apologetic for what they have or the lack of what they have. You know those people. You compliment them on their home and they quickly start pointing out its faults and make it clear that its just a place to hang their hat until they get their "dream" home. But why? It's a perfectly lovely home. And maybe if they saw it in a different light, they might find it is all they really need and maybe even desire. Or the woman that you compliment on their pretty dress and they say "This old thing? I've had it for years!" So? It's still pretty! It's just a matter of attitude really. That old clunker that I mentioned earlier? It was a wonderful car and never had any mechanical problems ever. If the body wouldn't have rusted out, we would have been happy to drive it forever. I'm so glad we had it when our income really couldn't take a hit from costly car repairs. I never felt ashamed that it wasn't stylish or expensive looking. As a matter of fact, when people made fun of it, I felt rather protective of it and would give it a pat and let it know I appreciated it. I will continue to look at my life like that old clunker and instead of saying"poor me!" , I'll say "lucky me!'.