New Year's Diets
The Winter Solstice came and went without the World ending. Winter is a time for turning inward and nurturing our interior lives so that we can bloom in the Spring. It is probably not accidental that we celebrate New Year’s at this time of year or that most people’s thoughts turn to creating better lives in some way. The dark days and nights give us time inside our homes and heads to think about what we can do to improve ourselves, our community and the World. If this is a new era, as was actually the Mayan’s belief, then are we not each of us a part of that? If we make our own lives better are we not making our community better as well?
Like most people my New Year’s goals are always to be physically healthier. Actually, I’ve been working on that since my life hit a perfect storm of my husband leaving to work out of state and my discovery of some health issues that have caught up to my Baby Boomer body. I’ve managed to lose some weight, am working on keeping my blood pressure down (not an easy feat with Dave 1,500 miles away) so that there’s no further damage to my heart and eyes, and getting my right eye treated for an occluded vein. A friend recently asked me how I was keeping from over indulging in the sweet goodies of the season. It’s simple. I don’t want to die just yet. I’d like to live long enough to enjoy my husband’s company when we are living together again.
The other sort of health that we are working on is fiscal health. The reason that Dave went from our home in Gig Harbor, Washington to Prescott, Arizona was to get our finances in better order for retirement. The bursting of the real estate bubble and the “Great Recession” of 2008 deflated our plans for retirement. We are several years behind in our plans for selling our Gig Harbor home (or even the ability to do so) and moving to our 131 year old Victorian cottage by the sea.
Since Dave left in June of this year there have been some glitches along the way including a hiking accident he had in Arizona necessitating him coming home for surgery, going on short term disability (less money), and trying to get compensated for out of state physical therapy. We also saw this Christmas as a last time to give generously albeit not excessively. With the beginning of what is supposed to be Dave’s last nine months as a “commuter husband” we are working toward the birth of fiscal stability and the creation of a new life and maybe a new bathroom in our antique house. Nothing fancy, but our current one was installed in the former pantry when indoor bathing was instituted in the house. I’d like the pantry back to its intended function and a shower that is actually supposed to be a shower and not a shower head nailed to a piece of 2X4.
By living frugally in Arizona, Dave has been able to pay down our home equity loan from $43,000 to $8,000 today. Having a debt-free retirement home should be a piece of cake, but we’d like that bathroom as well so the challenge is to spend as little and save as much as possible. In the past when I have written about frugality for the Tacoma News Tribune I have been accused of attempting to undermine the American economy. I have actually been called un-American. It seems to me that as American individuals we have spent our way into the situation of the past four years through over-consumption, easy loans, and living beyond our means.
So our physical diet and rehabilitation will be accompanied by a fiscal diet and rehabilitation as we head into what I hope will be lucky ’13. My mother-in-law called it “making a penny scream.” I spent enough time as a low/no income single mother to know how to do that. I can make do pretty well and while I’m not disposed to go to the extremes of those on The Learning Channel’s “Extreme Cheapskates” (I will NOT recycle tush wipes), I can cut the fat out of both sorts of diets. I'm not sure whether or not the nation should or will go off the fiscal cliff. Maybe everyone should count on a fiscal diet...oh, yeah, that would make everyone unAmerican.
I believe that the main reason “New Year’s Resolutions” fail is our belief that a day or two of falling off our wagon means failure. Every new day can be a New Year’s as long as the sun comes up and now that we’ve learned that the Ancient Mayans saw us as not ending, but as entering a new era we can make each day a new beginning. Things to ponder as sleep our Winter's nap with dreams of Spring.