In an effort to have some sort of baseline, so that I can know if The Plan was a success a year from now, here is where I am now.
What Works: I am basically healthy. I have the hope of being much healthier with a little work.
What Doesn’t: I can not tolerate gluten. And I keep eating it. As a result I’m exhausted all the time, I don’t get restful sleep, my hair is falling out, my skin is a dry scaly mess, my belly is constantly in turmoil, and every joint aches like I’m an 80-year-old with arthritis. I also weigh just over 300 pounds. I am also anemic and low on vitamin D. I am NOT taking good care of myself.
A Year From Now: With a year gluten free and giving myself the needed nutrients, my hope is that my gluten symptoms are gone. I also hope to have built an attitude of self-care that will carry through the rest of my life. It’s definitely time to realize that I can’t continue the way I am and expect to have a long life.
What Works: I have a good basic knowledge of being frugal that comes from 10 years a single mother and several years helping people balance their finances. We do not use credit cards.
What Doesn’t: That basic knowledge is not translating into any sort of real-time results. We are living within our means, but just barely. And as has been made painfully aware lately, should our means change we’re out of luck. We have no savings, because we spend every penny that comes in.
A Year From Now: A year from now, our goal is to have saved on average $1000 a month, and to have $12,000 saved. In order to do that, we’ll have to have become very mindful of our spending and reduce as much as possible. Spending only $125 ($100 each week, and an average of $25 per week saved for bulk shopping twice per year) a week on groceries, rather than at least twice that amount is a good start.
What Works: I do not have a simple life. Period.
What Doesn’t: My life sometimes feels like a cacophony of noise and craziness. Like a symphony where every musician is playing as loudly as possible–and each a different song. For the most part, I thrive in chaos and wouldn’t want a life that was so calm that I ended up spending all my time rocking serenely on my porch while the world goes by. But sometimes too much is too much.
A Year From Now: I hope that a year from now, with my dedicated 10 minutes a day of time to myself, plus all the other parts of The Plan working together to make my life work more smoothly, I have a clear underlying sense of simple serenity under the chaos.
What Works: I am a natural researcher. As a result, I have a lot of knowledge about Peak Oil and the economy and other disasters, running around my head. That understanding that the world is changing, like it or not, has given my family the opportunity to move away from a total dependence on ‘the system.’ Twice a year we build up our pantries when our local grocery store has a case-lot sale, using our loyalty card points to get a 25% off coupon. So we have from six months or so to no less than three months of food in our home at any given time. I also allocate some money each month toward emergeny purchases, such as candles, batteries, wool blankets, etc. It isn’t perfect, but compared to a couple of years ago, we’re getting there. I also include in sustainability my list of ‘income streams’ that will allow income should our jobs fall through.
What Doesn’t: I have failed completely in all my half-assed attempts to grow some of our own food. We have no way to heat our house should we find ourselves with no electricity. We have no reserve of money.
A Year From Now: My fondest wish is to be able to grow food this summer. I am determined to figure it out. I also want to figure out how to preserve food, so that we can do that ourselves rather than relying totally on canned food from the grocery store. I want to know how to make sure that if we get a windfall of food, it doesn’t spoil.
Life Long Learning
What Works: I own a sewing maching, and I know how to use it (mostly.) Kevin’s bought me some patterns for Christmas (yes I know, it’s only Christmas Eve…but I picked them out!) I have a few really good books about sewing.
What Doesn’t: I am terminally disorganized, and often what stops me from a project I want to complete is that I have to dig out my supplies from every corner of the universe. I am nervous about sewing for myself, mostly because I’m not happy with my body. I need some self-confidence and to learn to love myself the way I am (wow, talk about finding a deeper meaning!)
A Year From Now: I hope to be a confident seamster with the ability to whip up additions to my wardrobe and my family’s, as well as re-working thrift store finds. I have a room packed full of vintage clothes, and I’d love to be able to make some of them work for me.
What Works: My husband makes me laugh like a loon every day. I have a decent sense of humor, and I like to be happy, so I am pretty good and seeking out the fun and insane in life and appreciating it.
What Doesn’t: Some parts of my life suck the joy out of it. Mainly, the lack of savings sapping away our freedom.
A Year From Now: I plan to have enough money saved to give us back the freedom to find our joy where we want it.
What Works: I’m good at forgiving. I don’t hold grudges. Ever. As long as I can think through something and figure out the other guy’s side, I’m usually able to move on. There are situations, of course, where for my own sanity or possibly my family’s safety, I don’t forget whatever I’m forgiving. But I’m able to forgive and move on without the past pulling me back, for the most part.
What Doesn’t: There are a couple of things from my past that I’ve had a hard time finding real forgiveness regarding. Both are situtations where I feel it’s important for me not to forget what happened, how the people involved behaved, but for my own sake I need to face them and get over them.
A Year From Now: I hope to have faced one of these situations head on and moved on from it.
What Works: My husband has a slight case of OCD and an honest love for cleaning. That works really well for ME. I’m not sure that he would agree that it works for him.
What Doesn’t: I am terminally disorganized (see above.) I am the kind of person who knows just where anything is at any given time, but where it is isn’t somewhere it should be. I have books covering every flat surface, clothes in every corner, and I hate washing the dishes. We have at least 50 percent too much STUFF. Maybe 75. The main reason this doesn’t work, is because it makes my poor OCD husband incredibly uncomfortable. To say that our levels of mess tolerance are widely varied would be wildly understating the obvious.
A Year From Now: That 50, maybe 75, percent of stuff that is just too much and no needed? It will be out of here.
What Works: I know what I want.
What Doesn’t: I’m not there yet.
A Year From Now: A year from now, I want to be in a position to make writing my career and not a sideline.
What Works: I have a strong sense of what makes my spirit soar. I know the direction I want my spiritual growth to take.
What Doesn’t: There is not a Unitarian church within 250 miles of me. I do not feel like I have a spiritual ‘home.’
A Year From Now: I hope that a year from now I’ve made spirituality an everyday part of my life, rather than something abstract.
What Works: I have a really great family. My marriage is strong and happy. My kids are amazing, and I have a good relationship even with my teenagers. I have an extended family that I’m close to.
What Doesn’t: I can be very honest with myself, and with you, and say that I struggle with building relationships with people outside my family. Maybe this stems from having eight sibilings, and growing up feeling so insulated in that huge family that everyone else was apart from us. Maybe my son’s Asberger’s doesn’t fall far from his socially awkward mother’s tree. I don’t know. But I really struggle to make and maintain friendships. I have one very close friend, and I haven’t talked to her in probably three months. Terrible.
A Year From Now: I hope to have stretched my comfort zone to where I can include people not related to me in my inner circle.
There you have it. We’ll revisit this in a year. How exciting to think of what can be accomplished in a whole year. It’s like the perfect package of time, isn’t it? Like a box with twelve perfect bonbons all lined up, ready to be enjoyed.