CANOEING

John and I went for a canoe ride today.  And it was fun!  I was apprehensive about going because I am afraid of boats (yes, a canoe is a boat to me!) and I am not fond of lakes either.  Bad things happen when I am in boats and all I could envision was a gator chasing us around the lake.  I am happy to report that there were no gators (that we saw anyway) and we did not tip over, I did not even get wet. 

 It was supposed to be a moonlight canoe ride and my niece said she thought it sounded romantic.  We met people from John’s church for a picnic and then hauled the canoes out to Lake Down, put on life vests and off we went.  Once I got the hang of paddling it was less tense and then actually enjoyable.  The temperature was cool, probably mid 70s and there was a nice breeze on the water.  The breeze made the water slightly choppy but not bad.  John would tell me to be still so that I didn’t rock the boat because when the boat rocked I would get nervous. 

 There was no moon, but we did get to see the sun set. We rowed out pretty far and then stopped and let the current take us back.  We were able to be still and focus on the sunset.  It was beautiful, colors of pinks and purples.  Of course the reflection on the water was really nice.  It was quiet and peaceful and I asked John “Is this romantic?”  I just don’t seem to get the romance thing.  He thought romantic was being with someone you love and enjoying the moment together.  So in that light, I guess it was romantic.

 When we got home, I looked it up in Dictionary.com and this is what it said.

Main Entry romantic
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: sentimental, idealistic
Synonyms: adventurous, amorous, bathetic, charming, chimerical, chivalrous, colorful, corny*, daring, dreamy, enchanting, erotic, exciting, exotic, extravagant, fairy-tale, fanciful, fantastic, fascinating, fond, glamorous, idyllic, impractical, lovey-dovey, loving, maudlin, mushy, mysterious, nostalgic, passionate, picturesque, poetic, quixotic, sloppy*, soppy, starry-eyed, syrupy, tear-jerking, tender, unrealistic, utopian, visionary, whimsical, wild

 Ok, it was kind of adventurous of me because I had not done it before.  I was afraid so letting go was a bit daring.  And trusting John was fascinating.  It was even a bit corny, canoeing on the lake at sunset, which was picturesque, where was our camera?  It was not wild or tear-jerking, nor dreamy or enchanting.  So I guess it was romantic if that is what you think of as romantic. 

I don’t think about romance much.  I am not sure if I am not a romantic person or if I have never really known it   To me romantic ideas are just another way of setting myself or my spouse up for failure.  I will either think so big it will be impossible for John to do or John will try and I will miss the entire point.

I am happy to have had a pleasant moment in time where I let the world be still and I did something out of the ordinary.  I had a wonderful evening with some great people. We had good conversation, good fellowship and a nice canoe ride with my husband, enjoying a beautiful sunset.   Life was good today.

FRIENDSHIPS

Do you know the difference between Friendships and Acquaintances?  I am constantly amazed by the number of people who confuse the two. 

I have many acquaintances; I am just blessed that way.  I enjoy being around people and for some reason, people are drawn to me.  I don’t mind, I am actually honored most of the time.  That does not mean these people are my friends; they are just people I know.  That is an acquaintance. 

Many people expect their friends to be everything to them, to be there whenever they are needed, no matter what. I have learned not to expect one person to be all things to me.  I have friends that I share everything with and friends that I share nothing with.  Some friends lift me up and some I lift up.  And sometimes we take turns.

My husband is certainly my friend but sometimes I just don’t want to talk to him, I want to talk with someone else.  It doesn’t mean I love him any less, it means that I intuitively know who will support me in the way I need at the moment.   I think that is key, to understand that sometimes the closest of friends are not capable of being what is needed.  We all have strengths and weaknesses and I am not going to expect someone to share my joys and sorrows when they just don’t get it.  I have one friend that is the one person that will say whatever I need to hear, no matter whether I want to hear it or not.  I know when to call her and I don’t like it.  But, she gets to the heart of the matter and makes me face what I do not want to see.  I have another friend that is so gentle with me and I always go to her when I just need love. 

Another friend says when you learn each other secrets it changes everything.  She is right too.  Adding intimacy does change a relationship. It adds a trust element that some of us are not willing to or capable of accepting.  I think more friendships are broken here than anywhere else. 

There are friendships that I call the Dump and Runs.  They call and dump all their stuff and then I don’t hear from them until it is time to dump again.  This one frustrates me the most because I want to hear the good stuff too.  I at least want to hear that everything is ok.

Friends come in and out of my life and we pick up right where we left off.  It is amazing how that happens.  I don’t worry about the absences anymore.  I know that life takes us all different places and when the time is right, we find each other again.  My friend Phyllis and I hadn’t seen each other in years and then we met at a pool tournament.  We hugged and laughed and talked like it was just yesterday because it was to us.  Our lives are very different but are hearts are still the same.

I am blessed to have long term friends; I hesitate to call them old!  And I am blessed to have new friends as well.  That tells me that I am still growing and open to new things.  In my life there is always room for another friend.

DOWNSIZING OUR LIFE

Making lifestyle changes is much easier when there is a joint agreement.  John and I have decided it is time to do just that.  I think John decided long ago and I have just come on board but that is another story.

John is a member of the Brethren Faith and I am Catholic.  Brethren have a simple living philosophy and Catholics have a Franciscan order that is similar.  We thought it might be time in our lives to embrace this lifestyle as we start the downsizing process.  We know this is going to be a long hard journey but we think that it will eventually be worth it.  I am not ready to sell everything we have but we can certainly live much simpler than we do.

All that said, you skeptics can stop laughing at the fact that two weeks ago I purchased a big gas hog SUV.  We can live in it if we have to!  And, the discussion and decision came after that purchase.  John says that was very convenient and I tend to agree.  This is more about changing our spending habits than a social statement.

Breaking habits will be difficult. Luckily I am not a clothes horse so that is not an issue.  When I shop, I find one thing I like, buy it in every color and go home.  This drives John crazy but I keep telling him he is lucky.  It is very rare that I need a brand name anything.

Eating out is probably going to be our biggest challenge.  Neither of us like to cook and neither of us are good cooks.  Eating out is just easier for two people, two lazy people.  I cannot live on fast food so we have to come up with ways to eat out that are healthy and less expensive.  Off the top of my head, I made a list of restaurants in our area that are non-tipping restaurants.  (I’m sorry all you food servers, you have treated me very well over the years, I just have to limit my time with you!)  Besides takeout pizza and wings, there is Chipotle, Boston Market, Crispers, Panera, Tijuana Flats, Pollo Tropical, a sub shop on every corner and the deli at our local supermarket.  John loves Captain D’s and insisted I add them to the list.  We do not eat out every night so this should be a month’s worth of choices.  We can add in John’s favorite sushi place and my favorite Texas Roadhouse here and there and manage this better.

I am really good about taking leftovers to work for lunch.  Unfortunately, I am not good at actually eating them.  I will ditch them and go out more often that I want to admit.  So, there is another expense that can be cut.  I am ashamed to admit how much money we spend on food.  It is embarrassing.  No wonder I am overweight.  When this all comes together my diet should be much easier to follow.

When you buy a new vehicle now, most manufacturers give you XM radio free for 90 days.  I am sure that is so you fall in love with it and pay when the 90 days are complete.  I did that with the Honda and found that I still listened mostly to local stations.  Given that, when our 90 days are up, there will be no more XM.  GM products give you one year On Star free as well.  We tried to use that service for driving directions yesterday and their computers were down. They have 11 months to convince us it is worth keeping. 

I am trying to key in to “wants vs needs” now.  As I said, I am not much of a clothes shopper but I can go to Yankee candle and spend $100 with ease.  Yankee Candle is a pretty weak need, but a strong want.  Yesterday at Walmart, I filled my cart with fall decorations.  As soon as I realized what I was doing I put everything back.  It isn’t that I cannot have and enjoy these things, I just don’t need them.  I have a box of fall decorations that will accomplish a festive look for a few weeks. 

I have plenty of Tchotchkes in my home and at different times have loved every one of them.  There are many today that I pay no attention to at all.  I don’t have to get rid of them, it is ok to enjoy their memories, but I also do not need to buy any more.  And, as we downsize, some of them will be sold.  I was listening to financial expert Suze Orman one afternoon and she said holding on to items for the memories was not necessary because the memories will always be in our hearts. (Obviously not a direct quote!)  I have found this has helped me let go of many items.  In the end, who wants my stuff anyway?

I have drawers full of sample soaps, creams and make up that I don’t use.  If I don’t like the product, I need to either give or throw it away.  I have free gifts from makeup manufacturers that I have never used.  Why did I wait to make a purchase to get the free gift that I don’t use?  I am not buying anymore until my drawer is empty.  All those half bottles of shampoo that I bought and didn’t like need to be used.  I realize that some shampoos really are a problem for some people but I have fine straight hair, it really doesn’t matter what I use as long as it cleans my hair. 

I cannot say that I am a big environmentalist because I am not.  Why do I use paper towels and paper plates when I have a drawer full of towels and a cupboard full of dishes?  The washing machine and dishwasher work just fine.   I can stop wasting money on those items and use the appliances that were purchased for our convenience. 

The spare bedroom will be turned into a “garage sale” room.  Everything that we don’t use or need is going to be stored until we are ready to have our sale.  It is time to get rid of the clothes I won’t ever wear, the shoes that kill my back, spare furniture that we might use, books that I have read or will never read and closets full of other stuff that will be surprises as we open boxes.  The eventual plan is to downsize to a two bedroom home.  To me, it is easier to make these changes in stages rather than all at once.   

I am not good at using coupons, I cannot stand the mess.  I don’t like my Facebook and email clogged up with all those advertisements.  It really makes me crazy, but as I progress, maybe that is something I can embrace. I am sure there are a lot more ideas for saving money and living simpler that I can find.  Share your thoughts with me.  I am going to need all the support I can find.