Monthly Archives: April, 2013

I Love You But…

love-and-other-drugs_LRG

Love and Other Drugs

Yesterday evening I watched the film Love and Drugs with Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal about a serial womaniser who falls in love for the first time! A catch enough in itself, except that the woman he falls for is also sick with the early onset of  degenerative Parkinson’s disease.

Such a condition is would be a lot for any couple to get their head round, let alone a brand new couple, one of whom has never been committed in their life! Needless to say, when Jake’s character is given advice to run for the hills by a husband of a fellow Parkinson’s sufferer, he heeds the advice, probably thinking he had had a lucky escape.

Love is a funny thing though, as the last 10 minutes of the film point out. If love, in the form of someone, touches you, there is no going back. As the film is based on a true story, so it will ring true for most people in a relationship. No, having a debilitating illness as part of the equation is far from ideal and possibly at the extreme end of what most couples have to cope with. How often though have you wished he didn’t snore or that she was a little bit slimmer? That he would just listen more instead of jumping in with the answers or that she wasn’t always so tired when you were in the mood and so on?

I have already written of how I would like another child, whilst at the moment Other Half wants to stick at two. There is nothing to stop me having another child if I really want, right now, but it wouldn’t be his. Other Half could have a wife right now who was more than happy to stop at two children, she just wouldn’t be me!

And therein lies the crux. You don’t get perfect. You probably don’t even get ideal. You get who you want though and, for all their faults,  be honest, you wouldn’t have it any other way!

Sometimes A Borrower Be.

This week seems to consist of various blogs about money. Unintentionally, but here comes another one!

We have saved ourselves a small fortune recently by borrowing things from people rather than buying them. Items include: A blender ((saving £20), a digital camera ((saving £200), a rucksack (from Other Half) , a drinks bottle (from little lady) and 3 DVDs (roughly £30). There were other items, but I am sure by now you have the picture. Yes, Other Half will need a digital SLR at some point, but he didn’t need to own one for the one off birthday  present of a photography tour at night. Again, I made soup, which as it was such a disaster I am loathe to make again anytime soon. Should I make it again and fair any better I shall then purchase a blender of our own. Until then we have very kind neighbours who are more than happy to lend us theirs. That is long before going into how neither Other Half, nor Little Lady were using the said items that I borrowed when I did, so their loans were of no loss to them.

And maybe that is the whole point, it didn’t cost anybody anything to lend their items to us, because we return said items in one piece, often with a small gift to say thank you. The family, friends and neighbours that kindly loan to us, save us no end of money, space and convenience (sugar, carrots, onions, milk etc borrowed rather than walk to the bottom of the road when you have already started dinner) though.

By borrowing, everyone is a winner and that includes the environment!

A Lack Of Clothes Maketh The Man.

nelson mandelaMy first, full-time permanent job was as a customer service assistant for a bank and involved wearing a uniform. I remember it well, 5 blouses, 3 skirts and 1 blazer for which I would have to pay £100 pounds if I returned the uniform (read left the job) within a year. Hence I stuck that job out  for a whole year!

I almost wish that this job that I am doing came with a uniform too, as my finances are no better now, marriage, children and mortgage down the line, than they were all those years ago when starting out with student debt and the remnants of my last social security cheque! Everything needs replacing, updating or repairing and having been at home for as a stay at home Mum for 3 years I barely even have work wear! The replacing etc. I spoke of were my casual clothes!

What I take comfort from though, besides the knowledge that with each paycheque I can start to purchase appropriate attire, is that Nelson Mandela went to work in the one, same suit he had for FIVE YEARS! Enough said really. I am not down to one outfit and I shall not need to wear it for 5 years before I am able to purchase another one.

Like Mandela, sometimes rather than feeling beaten down by what you lack, you have to know you are strong for getting out there and doing what needs to be done, using whatever resources you have, no matter how few they may be.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention.

shopping trolleyAt least once a week I go through our accounts as a family. Ideally to check what has been paid and what remains outstanding. For the last few years though it has been to check that we are not overdrawn! How can it be that we only in the middle of the month and already I am borrowing from the children?

As sad as I felt doing the accounts, it was doing the weekly shop – having borrowed said money from the children – that almost reduced me to tears. A not insignificant budget was overspent by 17 pounds. I realise that 17 pounds doesn’t seem much, but if you were to see what the shopping budget that I had was and the state that our accounts are in, you would be on the verge of tears too.

I came home and told the Other Half that that things were going to have to change. In future we needed to bake bread and biscuits, make soup and popcorn and cut down things like orange juice to once a day. I also said that we would all be on the same cereal, bought in the family size, rather than the 4 different varieties we all eat at the moment.

Brave words, but my heart started to sink even as the words left my mouth. To be honest food is one of the few joys that we still have – a social life together seeming to have gone out the window once we had children!

Yes I am going to start trying to make certain things, starting with tomato soup and scaling down the volume of what I buy, bearing in mind that each purchase now is around 1 pound. Primarily though I am shopping online next week. Not only will I not espy all the items I would usually throw into the trolley without further thought, but hopefully I won’t miss them either. And as my total bill amounts to a few pounds under budget I shall smile and reward myself with a well deserved chocolate bar, thereby hitting my limit!

Just please don’t let there be any substitutions!

Resort To Toss.

power of lessI have finally finished Leo’s book and would certainly recommend it. I bought it due to feeling completely overwhelmed by possessions and commitments. Nothing has changed yet regarding either, but with the book’s help I  know where I am going wrong and how to correct my course!

Between the book and my friend with the beautiful and pristine house, I intend to spend Thursday mornings de-cluttering. All the charity bags that get put through my door, for collections – usually at 8am on a Monday morning (why?!) can be filled and stored in the garage, until a request for items comes again or I make some free time to do a charity shop run.

Originally the plan was to sell various items on Ebay. In all honesty, the amount of things I need to get rid of would make that a job in itself though. Between the photographing, writing, working  out the weights and postage costs, all before the listing of each item and eventual postage, I am better giving the things to a charity. You all know that we could do with the money, but you all also know that I need the free time and to stay away from a nervous breakdown even more!

These of course are the items that can happily be used by others. Then there is everything else. All non-essential. Paperwork. Mementos. Advertisements that will come in useful one day when I have money and so on. No, no, no! Now it goes in the bin (garbage or recycling), without  passing go and without collecting £200.

I resort to ‘toss’ and it feels wonderful! Try doing the same and let me know how it goes.

Plan Your Escape!

No pictures today as my illustrative examples involve mini-beasts!

Picture this. We spent the afternoon as a class in the middle of a forest hunting mini-beasts under logs. As we gathered together to discuss our findings, said MBs (for the squeamish) were left in pots the size of your average paint pot, but without lids. These white, plastic pots had extremely high sides and were sat on the ground.

What was so interesting though, and as squeamish as I am I had to look, was the response of the different MBs to their situation. Obviously not a situation they wished to be in, having their own freedom curtailed whilst being able to see the beautiful sky belonging to the life they had recently had, there were 2 responses. Group 1 just crawled round the bottom of the pot, I presume until sheer exhaustion would have stopped them. Either they couldn’t get out or were not even going to try. Perhaps they tried scaling the walls but failed. And then there was group 2. One creature was particularly long, yet quite speedy and got over the pot’s wall with an efficiency quite staggering. Another creature was far slower in their attempt, but admirably persistent and again escaped to freedom.

What the MBs in group 2 didn’t know of course was that 5 minutes later one of the forest centre volunteers would grant all those left their freedom, returning them to the wild. Would it have stopped group 2 from expending so much energy? I think not! They knew what they wanted and that was what they were going for. Waiting around in the hope that someone would rescue them had clearly never crossed their minds! And what of group 1? Had they been left in the pots with no food, darkness or shelter from the elements, they would have died. Period! Their rescue was fortuitous luck!

The whole scenario, taking 5 minutes tops, just made me realise how often we all become like group 1 rather than group 2 when we find ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in. How often too, we look, hope and pray for some sort of rescue. As shown by group 2 today though, what we need to be doing is planning our escape so quickly that becoming tired, despondent, giving up or metaphorically dying is not even an option, because by then we have high tailed it out of there!

Relationship 101.

men are from marsWould you drive a car without learning first how to drive it? Or fix an appliance without first having googled what to do, or at least discussed the problem with someone who could help remedy it? What about expecting to pass an exam without having had a lesson, lecture, seminar, tutorial on it or done any research on the subject?

No, you say, of course not! And yet, another friend, another relationship, is not going well. One party keeps everything going on, bottled inside themselves, the other talks to all and sundry, but essentially only to vent enough steam to be able to continue the modus operandi. At the moment they have no money for counselling, no time to take a marriage course and have no knowledge of self-help books and films that would help them.

This couple have children. Walking away from the relationship would have caused enough damage to the couple and other people in their lives before they had children. Now they have children the damage would be untold! Any of us in a relationship, even the ones we want to be in for all the right reasons, will on a regular basis neither be, nor have a picnic! To continue the metaphor though, if you want decent meals then you had better learn to cook!

None of us can expect a decent relationship without learning first what a decent relationship looks like, finding out how to get one and then finding out how to keep it. We expect no less for the products in our lives, how much more important then, is it to work hard to fix and operate the relationships in our lives, i.e. the things that really count!

Live In The Moment.

You know this. I know this. But do we live it out on a daily, hour-by-hour, minute by minute basis? So many of our fears and worries will never come to pass and how much time we will waste on the Plan B, C and D that was never needed as a result? Inversely, how many opportunities will pass us by because our minds were in the future, not in the place and time that our bodies were?

Living in the moment turns life the right way up. Available to the people and opportunities right here and now, we leave our worries and fears to the future where they belong!

No!

What a refreshing response to a question asked of my mother one morning as to whether I should go and visit her on the Friday. No,” I have made other plans”, or, “Well what time?”, or, “Well ok,” when actually that wasn’t what she wanted at all. Just a simple, “No”. Absolutely categorical in her denial of my request and immediately I knew where I stood.

How often do you just use the word, “No”? Not even necessarily adding the words, “Thank you” . I know I don’t do so nearly often enough, but after being reminded of the power of the brevity of the word I shall be applying it in my life far more, for equally powerful consequences!

Stand Your Ground.

“The customer won’t budge”. This is what a customer service assistant told her manager about me after giving me her manager’s decision. I had bought some items of clothing for Little Lady on a day when they had 20% off. Returning the next day to purchase further items and to exchange two of the items bought the previous day for bigger sizes, I was told that the discount no longer applied and therefore would not be applied to the exchanges.

I asked to see the manager about this. Instead the person who served me conversed with the manager by telephone, in front of me, put the phone down and confirmed what they had said 5 minutes previously.

 To stand your ground, you have to be sure that your request is fair and that the treatment you are receiving is not. I did not want the discount applied on the new pieces, only the pieces which were a direct exchange, in size only, for a child that I thought was one size, but turned out to need bigger in certain styles. This was fair. Having spent what I had over the two days, for this store to quibble over the discount I was asking for was not.

Hence, the staff member was correct. I refused to budge. Instead I asked the manager to come and tell me her decision herself and that if she intended to reiterate it, she should bring the store manager with her. Unbeknown to her, had the store manager concurred I was at the ready to write to Head Office and newspapers afterwards if necessary. So far, Head Office has always sufficed, but it is nice to know the option of the press is always there.

Thankfully the manager agreed to my discount and the matter was left at that.

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