tackling perspectives and opinions

I have been thinking for many years what a small-scale/restricted life I have had; how my perspectives on experiences and opportunities were focused but small; and how expanding or changing my perceptions/the way I evaluate things would be useful to see the beyond and brighter (especially lately). The events in the last weekend motivate me to seriously think about this now.

I think I have a small-scale/restricted life because I live in a small city with small number of activities that interest me and I work the majority of the time, or occupy myself with it, which leaves little room to reflect on or experience anything else. I have known this for a very long time. After years of struggle, I came to accept the beauty of the simple and safe life this city provides me with and all the financial awards and mental satisfaction (despite its stress) this job gives to me. It also gives me the opportunity to not face what I must face in life most – my fears; by working and trying to control my work, I get a sense of safety away from my own thoughts (it is not new news to you that I have anxiety).

————————————————————————————————————-

My perspectives on experiences and opportunities are focused but small-scale as well; in the last few years, I focused on saving money/frugality, simple and leaner life, with little outside activity. I do not even read books as much as I used to. My plans or priorities concentrated around money and appreciating the beauty of simple and frugal life. There is nothing wrong with these, but it naturally restricts the options one may provide themselves; no vacation somewhere; no movies or other cultural activities; no new furniture I may need; no spontaneity; no sense of adventure. As one of my family members rightfully told me this weekend, money is not everything, however.

The main reason I wanted to save money was to cope with the daily expenses after especially buying my home and investing for my future. This is the right decision and I benefited from it. I would love to be comfortable in my future and have the freedom to pursue interests, take care of myself and my family’s needs better. I am almost half a century old and I do not have enough accumulations for my retirement. But I wonder whether I over-did and strained myself to a point that I have lost my jest for life or spontaneity. Where is the energy and excitement coming from unique and exciting experiences?

There must be a difference between being grateful for everything I have (or not) and be happy with status quo, and aiming better by looking for additional things/way/experiences to better my life, my experiences, and nourish my mind and soul with even at the expense of money.

Being grateful is amazing, but forgetting to aim for better if that is going to enrich my life and remove this being “restricted/small life” feeling may not be. This is what I am trying to say here. That is what my family member was trying to say. Life is short. Our plans and predictions may not happen, good or bad.

——————————————————————————————————-

Just last week, I was thinking about letting my mind expanding or changing my perceptions/the way I evaluate things, which would give me a different view, different opportunities, and better outlook about life. Take work-related stress for example; I am stressed but I also progress and succeed. Why can I not be happy for these?

Challenging my beliefs/opinion on my approach to work and people was one thing that came to my mind. Rather than evaluating my hard-work as stress, I could approach it as something that gives me an opportunity to reach my goals. Rather than evaluating people as annoying, I could see them as souls that needed attention or love. Rather than being feared about being un-appreciated, un-credited, under-respected/recognized, or threatened, I could talk or ask whether these were correct or how to fix. I have not done any of these. But I can. Maybe the situation I evaluated can be evaluated in a different way. If so, would the restrictions I put on myself and the stress and negative feelings I experience be relevant anymore? No.

What keeps me away from this?

I know my anxiety problem is contributing to these. I want to control my life/experiences or be prepared as much as possible to protect myself and my future. I know some of the risks are real so I still need to be vigilant.

But can we really protect our future by sacrificing today?

 

In need of “me” time

I have been running and running from one work related issue to other. I think it is true that if you do work hard and well, more work will come to you. Whether it is self imposed or others dump things on you is a separate issue.

I want to have “me time”, now more than yesterday and the day before yesterday…. I missed planning for grocery shopping and getting items at low prices that make me feel incredibly abundant and grateful.

I missed keeping my money to myself and having a simple life.

I missed being excited by the smallest thing in life, a little plant, a beautiful thrift treasure, a healthy meal.

I missed being grateful…

———————————–

by the way, am I the only one who absolutely dislike the new editing features on wordpress? It is so hard to write now, with many props popping out constantly. Tell me I am not the only one please.

Rant over.


all the good things – check

  • deciding to feel good as nothing much in our daily/work life matters that much – check

I have had a kind of relaxing but also somehow nerve-pitching week. All work related issues of course. On the other hand, weather has been incredibly nice and Spring is really here. I have been feeling awesome about this – there is a real feeling of “hope” and “new beginnings” induced by the arrival of Spring. Should I be wasting these great feelings with focusing on shitty things and behaviors?

No.

Right. 🙂

  • walking to the office in the morning – check

I have been walking in the last few days from home to office in the mornings. This feels great really 🙂 Last year was the first time I had made it a routine activity to walk in the mornings (weather permitting). It makes me feel calmer, energetic, happier, and healthier 🙂

  • working without much of stress and taking care of a tricky document – check

I knew that it was gonna be tough but I also told myself repeatedly that I would do overcome this too. The last year has been particularly very challenging in terms of work, stress, agitation, changing myself and my work attitude, growing my gray hair (I did not update you on this, did I? Man, I have gray hair alright – looks better somedays than the others, but I am still resisting the idea of dyeing it 🙂 ), and undertaking new professional roles. One of the benefits of it has been to go through really tough time and tough decisions, so no new challenge is a big deal (at least so far) – great! 🙂

  • taking my time to enjoy the plants on my floor – check

it has been a pleasure really, looking at all the beautiful plants and flowers that have been around me for so long but have never been cherished or recognized by myself. I feel awesome now that I know each one of them. Plants are amazing, friends. There are so many different types of them, they do survive with little help, and they make one feel great emotions and joy…. Go hug a plant 🙂

  • walking to a nearby store and buying groceries – check

there have been many food that I needed and were on sale this week – I feel lucky 🙂 I want to get some succulents nowadays. There were some aleo vera that were on sale in this store, but I did not want to buy them this time. There is a store 30 min away on foot that I can go check sometime to see whether they carry succulents. Even reading about the succulent made me feel excited and happy yesterday 🙂

  • drinking fresh kefir – check
  • eating good home-made food – check
  • making a conscious effort to not dwell on negativity – check
  • enjoying a comedy show – check
  • having a simple life with minimal expenses today – check, check, check! 🙂

Daisy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

————————————

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/flowers-TFA5yuQIIoVUc

I have almost lapsed into extra spending today :)

Almost….

I wanted too 🙂 I really did – I wanted to come home early and get that junk food again..

It was an internal struggle really. I thought “it would be such a shame if I lapse right now, after a great day of frugal and simple life yesterday“.

Thank goodness I remembered that my computer does not run well nowadays and if I had come home and worked here, it would be a disaster. So, I stayed and did some work in the office. My craving for the junk food got subsidized at the same time.

I know in a couple of days I will forget these and will not even think about the junk food or other additional expenses I make to feel good in the midst of all the stress and hard-work. I know if I can go through a couple of weeks frugal, it is gonna be just easy after that.

Really. 

 

 

at last; frugal and simple life again

Today I have been completely expense-free; I took the bus in the morning even though it was icy on the road; I did not treat anyone at the office with food or coffee; I walked back to home in the evening; and I did not buy the junk food that I have had an habit of eating every day since July (aka the busy work season).

I saved $30.5 today by these today.

$30.5…. in a single day…

It feels like a lot of money for me today (although I did not care doing these expenses every single day in the last 7 months..).

I feel like during only Monday-Friday this week, assuming that I will keep repeating my frugal life-style today, I will be saving over 150 bucks of mine. This is like 15 x 10 pounds bread flour (more than a year’s of what is needed to bake a sourdough loaf every Sunday); 3 weeks worth of grocery; >1/2 sewing machine (new); a night at a hotel; around 50 bus trips to work; around 8 generous thrift store purchases; or a lovely pre-payment.

Can you imagine how abundant I feel??? 

Very abundant and wealthy indeed!

I am so excited and so proud of myself.

🙂

#2 topic for reflection during holidays

I kind of started doing my traditional holiday reflections today; I am early this year 🙂

Anyways.

#2 topic for reflections during holidays will be my life.

In the last few years my main personal interest was to have a more frugal but enriched and simple life. I have done a good progress in this. 

Life goes on and years pass fast. While I am busy with work and trying to control my finances, many other aspects of my life are neglected. One important thing would be my family. Other important thing would be my health and emotional well-being. It is time that I realize as I get old, things that I can do get limited. What is important for me in the remaining years of my life? I must find this out.

This year, I would like to remove money out of my main focus and rather concentrate on these under-served areas in my life. I know that I enjoy simple and frugal life and being resourceful. If I focus on these, I know that financial stability will follow. It is a shift in perspectives. Hopefully this will work out well.

Additionally I want to have a healthier and stronger body and mind. I missed my weight-training exercises and leisure walking. I missed my push-ups at home and exercises that help strengthen my lower back. Maybe I would care my eyes better; since I keep working and reading, I wear my glasses all the time. This is not good – my vision is negatively affected. I lost some weight in the last year and I can keep doing this by focusing on it. My aim would be to lose another 10 pounds. This is not a huge amount, but can take significant effort. I will see how it goes.

Also I want to keep developing new interests and abilities. Lately it has been pickles and marmalade. What will be the next interest of mine? Will I start writing that book finally this year? Is this my next project? Will I start a side-kick, an additional source of income this year? Will I start or undertake something with a significant impact on not only my life but others? Is it my time to start being an advocate?

What will happen to my work, though. Without the stability it gives me, none of these seems like a possibility. I am seriously fed up with the environment and the responsibilities I have. Maybe I should keep looking for work elsewhere? Other positions? What would it be? Where?

I feel like my life will reach a tipping point this coming year.

frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style activities this week

I want to remember the activities that fulfill my interest in frugal, waste-free, and simple-life style this week; I am positive that they will help me see the brighter side in everything and motivate me to do more 🙂

 

Here is the list:

Frugal activities:

1. I messed up with my budget and frugal life-style big time lately. Nevertheless, I managed to walk to work one day (rather than using transportation) saving myself 10 bucks.

2. I did not over-spend on grocery. As a matter of fact, I have purchased much less than regular in order to eat what I already have in my fridge.

3. I used a coupon. Now, considering I am wasting more than 200 bucks a week nowadays I wonder why I have even cared finding or using this coupon. Every penny counts I guess…

Waste-free life:

1. I continued to bring my tote to stores in order to reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags in my home. There has been a considerable improvement in this and I am happy to say that I reduced the amount at least by 2/3 🙂

2. I ate the food in my fridge before they went bad. Some of them still did, though, which I resent…. Next time I will be better.

Simple/self-sustaining life:

1. I baked my own bread.

2. I made my own strained curds/cheese from kefir 🙂 I am straining another batch today. I want to try one from yogurt for a change of taste.

3. I did not unnecessarily made my day complicated by filling it in many different activities (only work).

4. I made sure to do other things than just work after 7pm everyday to give my mind a break and enjoy my life.

5. I did not socialize with anyone, which helped me keep my time and energy to myself (yes, this is one of the benefits of living alone 🙂 )

6. I cared for my yard and removed weeds to make sure they will not take over the yard (a preventive measure for a long-term simple life)

Decluttering and minimalist activities:

1. Nothing particular than regular, except that the unnecessary paper that were on my study table are now dumped. 

2. I bought no item (other than personal hygiene products and grocery) for home or myself this week.

I want to go back to my regular self

It is not good to work under stress and undertake too much.

It is not good to eat junk.

It is not good to drink so much soft drink per day.

It is not good to spend money on cab while I can take the bus or walk.

It is not good to feel like nothing I work on moving while they actually do.

I want to be fine again, like prior to 5 weeks ago when I was walking, eating healthy, visiting thrift stores, saving money, and feeling great about myself.

I really do.

I think it is time that I take a couple of days really off and slowly start doing what I used to enjoy; thrift stores will be a good start. Hopefully sometime soon.

benefits of decluttering

…are a lot.

I started doing my bedroom and master bathroom. I already found a nice facial mask, wash cloths, nail polish, other make up materials that I was looking for, and many blouses and t-shirts that I either did not like at all or did not remember that I have had.

So as you can guess, a number of things will be gone soon, either donated or cut down to be used as cleaning cloths. A number of things will find their use too. Hello nail polish! It has been sometime that we saw each other. Now, remind me how it felt to have nice, decorated, and good looking nails. Right? 🙂

hmmm. I have started and I am feeling good. Decluttering always feels good. I wonder what other treasures and trash I will find during the entire process 🙂 I will keep you posted!

job situation assessment

I do not know whether what I am doing is right or plain stupid, but I am looking for jobs. I think I have found one ad that may be a good fit for me.

But I am hesitant to apply – is it too much of a work to make this application/interview? Do I really want this change in my life? What if it is not a unionized position and they can kick me out anytime they want?

What are my choices really?

Right now I have a respected position. I have a nice-figure salary. I have benefits. I am capable of doing many different things and getting involved in a variety of activities that are related to my profession. I have a simple life in a small city. I am capable of saving money. I have a routine. Life is easy and abundant. I am bored sometime, but life works well. Work, however, is stressful and full of problems and problematic people. One problem of mine is to be involved in too many stuff and getting fragmented. We also have the demoralizing financial issues, for now and for the future, and the constant nagging feelings of “we should be doing more” and “I am not good enough“.

While the idea of resigning and leaving things behind sounds awesome to me, I think I should be careful about the risks of potentially incorrect decisions. I realize today, for example, that being unionized is very important to me. I also realized that my salary is in fact a great one that many people would love to have. So would it not be possible for me to look into the positives of this job and identify more as to what is important for me?

Analysis

What I appreciate about this job and my life in this city?

  • Great salary/respected job position
  • Some level of safety/being unionized
  • Freedom on projects and activities undertaken
  • Ability to save and invest for my future
  • Simple and easy life

 

What I do not like/appreciate about my job and my life in this city?

  • The stress of undertaking too much work/not being able to say no to requests for help (This can be fixed)
  • The delays in organizational support systems; lack of efficient systems to keep things moving (I cannot do much about this, other than accepting the situation as it is)
  • Feeling inadequate. The constant struggle to “achieve” things. (This feeling is constant and life is too short – so what do I do? How do I handle this feeling? Work better? More? Smarter? Luckier? Among everything else, this is the one that is hard to digest. I really dislike this feeling)
  • The unhopeful future financial forecast and pension plan changes; the possibility of deeper provincial financial issues that can erase what has accumulated in terms of pension contributions and the house equity (This is very scary)
  • The possibility of more pressure on us because of the fiscal problems; the talks and acts of firing; the demoralized and agitated environment

 

I can still apply for jobs and who knows, maybe I will come across a great one. I do not have to seriously consider a new job unless I have got a great offer. Those that did not yield an offer, or with unsatisfactory offers are not the problem – I can turn them down. So.. With this in mind, I think I will just relax now. I gotta relax and handle the future uncertainty as well as the feeling of being inadequate… That is the best remedy for now. Let’s hope I can do that.

another #no-expense day

Today was one of these no-expense day 🙂

I have not spent any money, not even for the transportation; I walked.

These days were very rare last year; I was amazed the first time I could manage not to pay anything (including the bus fare) in a single day. I still am! It just is becoming a routine thing now. Routine, but still exciting 🙂

Talking about surprising myself 🙂 The feeling of empowerment is high. I am one step closer to simple and self-relying life.

Go try something you think is almost impossible 🙂

Tom Cruise GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/movie-from-mission-gVhplI9SzXgoo

on being self-sustaining

Since I started baking my own bread last year, I have been feeling more “able“. 

Bread has always been my favorite food. Strange enough after I started baking my own loaves, the amount of bread I consumed has reduced. How strange… I wonder whether it being a natural product with no additives or chemicals has anything to do with this? Anyways, I am proud of the fact that within the last one year I did not buy any store-made bread; I only consumed my own, mostly the precious sourdough loaves. Talking about the joy of baking and the happiness coming out of it 🙂

Anyways, when I bought my sewing machine last November, I thought it was an additional step towards being resourceful and a self-sustaining life-style. I was planning to sew my own blouses, which I have failed so far, but one day I will do this. This and others, like sewing quilt, doing repairs (which I have), and sewing cloths/placemats to be used around the house (which I have, too) will keep me feel independent and able. It feels good indeed.

We may not realize but there are so many ways that even someone like me, who does not like  house chores, demonstrates the ability to self-sustain. Consider cooking at home and feeding ourselves, cleaning our own houses, taking care of the yard (boy, thinking about cutting the grass… argh… one thing that I really dislike, but keep doing anyhow), dyeing our own hair to name a few. I feel so again when I walk to or from the office, or to the shopping malls, instead of taking the bus or the cab.  By walking I freely transport myself and relax at the same time. Do you not think that we in fact all are, to some degree, independent of others/stores/services and rather are self-sustaining?

I have spent sometime reading posts about homesteading this evening. I have no practical interest in homesteading myself as a single and middle aged city girl, but I sure enjoy reading about the daily lives of the homesteaders, their farming adventures, issues, and relationships with nature. My current life and level of sustainability is no-where near the homesteaders’ life, but I am doing way better than many people living in a mid-size city. I guess even though I do not realize it well, I happen to have a kind of simple, affordable, and sustainable life that I must be excited about 🙂

Flower GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/flower-qkeGZ2VqV381G

improvised two loaves of sourdough today

 

Yesterday I visited a bulk-produce retailer and bought myself some flax seed, rolled oats, and some other dry food at very affordable prices!!!

This excitement had to be experienced – I love it when I can get great food at such low prices. I feel grateful 🙂

This being said, I have bought the rolled oats and the flax seed to experiment/improvise new bread recipes. So, today I baked two different sourdough loaves – one with oat+bread flour and the other 100% whole wheat flour+flax seed. 

Boy – they are beautiful, do you not think? So soft, so nicely risen, such great oven spring, and the air bubbles inside are making me fall in love with each one of them.

It is official; I have the greatest sourdough starter ever, which I hope to bake with forever and ever… 🙂

————————-

Recipe

Levain: I have a 100% whole flour “Monster” starter that I feed with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour+1/3 cups+1 tbs water on Friday afternoon. I then let it rest at room temperature overnight wrapped in a thick towel. The next day I feed it again the same way; one hour later divide it into two: one part goes into the fridge till use next week, and the other continues to rise at room temperature for 5-6 hours. At that point it becomes very bubbly and that is always exciting to see this 🙂

img_0499

Prior to preparing dough, I mix the levain with water and sugar to make the liquid base for dough (my measurements were: 1+1/4 cups of levain, 1 cup of water, and 1.5 tbs of sugar)

Sourdough with rolled oat:

add 1/2 cup rolled oat and 1/2 cup water- mix and let stand for 20 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of bread flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Mix well and form a shaggy dough – do not worry about kneading or forming the perfect dough. Just cover, rest, and *stretch and fold every 20 or 30 min or so for 4-5 times.

*I lately started to “slam” the dough to the mixing bowl 7-8 times during each stretch and fold, which I kind of feel like helps stretch and form the dough. It is a strange feeling to do this to my dough and yeast, but then it feels also right…Try if you wish.

Then, cover, wrap with towel, and let rise at room temperature over night (my kitchen is usually cold around 17C. If you are in a hot climate, you may rise the dough at the fridge).

 

100% whole wheat sourdough with flax seed:

Rinse 1/2 cup of flax seed and add 1/2 cup water, let stand for 30 min

add 1+1/5 cups of levain/water/sugar base, 1 cup + 3 tbs of water, 2.5 cups of whole wheat flour, and 1/2 tbs of salt. Follow the procedure above.

Since whole wheat flour requires a little bit more water, I wet my hand before each stretch and fold to humidify the dough a little bit – it did help with a relatively softer dough. Alternatively you can add an additional 1-2 tbs of water while preparing the dough.

 

The next day; gently place the dough on a surface sprinkled with flour, deflate, stretch and form a rectangular shape, and fold & shape. Cover and let rest for 10 min. Shape again and place in proofing containers (i used a small mixing bowl for the oat loaves and a baking dish for the flax seed loaf).

Proofing time: 2.5 hours for the oat loaf, and 3.5 hours for the flax seed loaf

Baking: I recently started not to use roaster to bake my loaves. It gives a thinner crust and the oven spring is equally successful. I used a non-pre-heated oven for the oat loaf (375F, 50 min, baked uncovered). Once I was done with it, then I placed the flax seed loaf (pre-heated oven, 30 min open lid, 15 min closed lid, and 5 min open lid at 375F.)

Results, observations, and verdict: both loafs are gorgeous and better than what I thought I would get.

I know it is difficult to get the whole wheat flour rise so I was pretty impressed with the oven spring and the overall crumb of this lovely bread. It also had a nutty flavor and was an absolute delight even though for some the 100% whole wheat bread may sound a little bit intimidating.

The oat loaf was a delight from the beginning on – so easy to handle and the first rise was amazing with big air bubbles that I only had experienced with commercial yeast in the past. The taste of oat was undetectable but that is perfectly fine with me.

In both cases (oat and flax seed) the resting them on water prior to adding with flour and water produces a little bit sticky and mucus-like liquid, which I kind of think that helps with “binding” the dough. But of course we need a scientific proof for that.

I would certainly try these two loaves in the future and perhaps with the oat loaf I would increase the amount, just to see how the dough would respond.

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

 

oat sourdough

img_0506
smooth dough at the end of the stretch and fold episode

img_0527
what a beautiful loaf, waiting to be enjoyed 🙂 )

 

img_0531

100% whole wheat and flax seed loaf

img_0505
at the end of the stretch and fold episodes – kind of tough dough. would be better if I had added an extra 1-2 tbs of water to dough. I made up for this by wetting my hands prior to handling it each time so that it could get some more hydration. it did work 🙂

random thougths

I decided to walk to office this morning. While it was cut short as one of my colleagues saw me walking and gave me a ride, I was amazed to see that walking was coming easy for me and I was enjoying it. I was almost sad the entire day that I did not complete my walk, but this tells me how much inner motivation I have for walking in the mornings. I love this.

With my decision to bake my own bread yesterday and  with my decision to walk this morning, I felt like I am becoming more `normal`, going back to my natural life style. I also felt an urge to spend more time outdoors, with nature. I cannot wait for Spring to come, which will led me use my backyard and do some light gardening.

Am I returning back to my origin as a human, a part of nature? Have I got too engulfed in technology and work-related activities so that I forgot what it was? Have I got too dependent on store-made stuff, even bread, that I could not even think about baking it myself? When did I become so dependent on others manufacturing+marketing while our moms did their own pickles (well, I learnt how to make pickles this year from mom, so I am good for this one), dried fruits and veggies, canned their food?

I feel like I had lost my connection with a more natural, less industrialized life-style. And I feel like I want to walk more, keep a simple life, cook and bake more, and be happy with the outdoors just to re-connect again.

I know it is not possible right now, but I really would like to live in a farm and homestead. And grow my own food and be with the nature.

Man, who knew that baking one loaf of bread would make all these positive realizations possible?

thanking myself for my life style

Self-appreciation is something we do not even think about, but we all deserve big time.

I have many things to celebrate and appreciate about myself, work, character, life-experiences, and resilience. For this post, I will just focus on my life – style. Specifically, for its being simple and cost-effective.

here are the things I come up that makes me quite satisfied about my life-style:

1. Having no car: True that it may be restricting my mobility, but that does not apply to me. I have other means (walking, taking the bus, or flights) to go to places. I do not have to buy or lease one, I do not have to pay for the insurance, I do not have to apply for a parking permit to the city or pay for a parking spot at work, I do not need to look for and pay for parking space in the city, or I do not have to maintain or pay for repairs/replacements.

I am not arguing against having a car or two. Having a car is a necessity for many people, especially those who commute, or have kids to transport to schools or activities, or those who live away from their work places. I also know that it is a must for many where there is no public transport (like many cities I know in the USA).

My monthly transportation expenses, assuming that I take the bus or walk, are around $25.

Just by looking at that amount I now realize how easy it is for me to save…

2. Brewing my own coffee at the work days: I have been brewing my coffee at my office in the last 7 years. There were occasional buys from the cafeteria, but that is pretty much it. I am not sure how much I am saving by this habit, but considering I drink around 4 cups of (light) coffee per day, it must be quite so. A large can of coffee (~$10), 300 grms of coffee mate (~$3), and 200 grms of sugar (~$1) are enough to brew coffee for two weeks.

Can I guess how much I am saving compared to buying 2 cups of coffee/work day from Tims, for example? I think I can:

$3/per day x 5 work day = $15 per week. $60 per month. $120 per two months. Based on this calculation, I am saving around $50/month only from coffee…

3. Not eating out frequently: Since I started my budget last June, I limit it to maybe one or two times a month. Sounds pretty good to me. I used to eat out at least once or twice a week prior to that.

4. Having simple and low-cost pleasures:

   a) My weekends almost always include a morning coffee and bagels at a cafe. This is my signature pleasure – I must have them! 🙂 Honestly, I do not mind giving $6-10 per weekend to them.

   b) Over 90% of my books are second-hand books, purchased from second-hand book stores or the thrifty sores.

   c) I do not eat dessert or meat regularly, or buy food from convenience stores. The last one is mostly because there are 2 grocery stores within 10 min walking distance to my home – I am lucky.

   d) I live alone and I cook for only myself. And if you follow my blog, you know that I do not like to cook… For myself, I cook simple things and salads are my favorites in addition to soups. At the work days, I do not have breakfast and lunch is usually a canned fish or other snacks like trail mix. I am aware that this is not an healthy eating style. So please go ahead have your own delicious meals regularly as you need them, as you wish them. This is how it has been for me for decades and I guess that is what works for me.

   e) I am not interested in fashion and I often buy clothes and shoes when they are on sale. Holiday sales are my favorites. When I travel to other countries or cities, I shop there too, which are often much less expensive than where I am.

   f) Using internet for both entertainment and learning: I am very happy with my computer and internet connection. every evening and night, these give me a chance to read blogs and articles on the net, and watch TV series/movies. being content with these is something I must truly celebrate.

5. Exploring international stores and other small businesses: I can find many food, diverse food, at a reasonable cost in these stores. There is one close to my home where the spices, oriental sauces, pickles, canned beans, noodles, legumes, and olives are way cheaper than the stores. Many of these items I cannot even find in the big chain grocery stores. Plus, there is a pride and satisfaction coming out of supporting small business owners. Win-win situation in so many different ways.

6. Not hosting dinners at my home: Again, I am not arguing against this.. As a matter of fact, it is sad that I do not do that. Main reason is the fact that cooking for my lovely guests is an incredibly stressful event for me (only because I usually mess one or two dishes each time…). Maybe once a year or so, I will have my good friends over – but that is it. They understand and I am glad they do.

7. Not comparing myself with Jonases and giving up upon peer pressure: i do not do these. I do not need to have the latest computer or the TV, nor the cellular phone. I time to time get talks from friends about how I need to replace my old TV or replace my phone etc, but I do not give in. Give me a break. It is my life. I will replace my stuff when I need or want them. Not when the others suggest. I hope you do not have such toxic people in your life.

8. Vacations: I take one vacation per year and that is to visit my family. I do that every year and I am glad I do that and I am financially capable of doing that. My friends from other cities and countries invite me to their places, for which I am really happy and touched. If I had more vacation time or more funds at my disposal, I would love to do these visits – they are truly lovely and nice people. But I made a decision long time ago that my family had more priority over my friends. And I am glad I have done that, as now that my father passed away, I am glad I have seen him every year in the past decade or so, or before that whenever I could make it.

 

I am sure I have a longer list of experiences and choices to appreciate. Perhaps at another post.

I am sure you have many thing to appreciate about yourself. I would like to encourage you to find and appreciate those choices you have that enrich your life without breaking your bank account or psychology.

cheers 🙂

 

weekly budget check

Here is the account for the last week:

weekly allowance expenses (grocery, eating out, and transportation): $106.5

funds left from the allowance for the “fun funds” account: $120 – $106.5 = $13.5

total fun funds: $103.5

savings from the would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to do, but did not): $152

 

on fun funds

I have this wish to assign my “fun funds” for something really useful. At first I thought I would spend it freely but now I see that is not the case. As a matter of fact, I am so fond of my fun funds that I do not want to spend them at all…..

I know this is not gonna be possible as at one point I will have to have a hair cut, buy myself a dinner, have an unexpected expense here or there, or will need to buy gifts for people more than I budget for. So, it will have to be spent but I keep hoping that at the end of the year, I will have some funds left in that account.

Then, I would like to use it for a good cause. I would like to say that “by saving from my weekly allowance, that is what I have done now”; whether it is helping someone, buying a nice artwork, or paying down my mortgage. I do not know. But I know that I want to see it be useful for a specific and special purpose.

That is why this week I considered opening a second chequing account with my bank. My plan was to use this account only to deposit my fun fund each week and see it grow over time; that would be incredibly motivating. I almost did that and then decided not to; I thought that was an extra layer of complexity in my life; do I really need an additional account to see my fun fund accumulations? No. I am glad I did not open the account as I later realized I would have to keep a minimum balance in the account, or pay a monthly fee.

Peeew… I was lucky. Good job intuition! 🙂

the dream of a future simple life

It is not un-obvious that my current life is full of routine and lacks excitement. I keep thinking whether I could leave my current job, which is stable, respected, and provides me with a good income and benefits, and move to somewhere more exciting but possibly not as prosperous and stable as this one.

It is, I guess, normal to have this conflict as in life we always strive for the best living conditions. Considering that I am also very aware of having only one life and it is not fully satisfactory, I do not mind re-visiting this idea time to time.

I was having a conversation with one of my friends lately and she made an excellent point; she said the issue (of leaving my current city for a more exciting one) did not come to a “boiling point”. Boiling point is when we do not think or question; it is when we know we are done and take the action (in my case, resigning from work, selling my home, and finding another job to work  and another city to live in).

I have been wishing to move to a country where people are lovely and lively, culture and history is interesting, living conditions are not too bad, there is political and civil stability, nature is amazing and vibrant, and life is simple…

Simple life is so appealing… Not thinking about all the hurdles and complexities of my work or how to maintain and manage my house for example.. Would it not be wonderful if I had less time and energy spent on these issues and more time, effort, and time put in finding a greater meaning, a greater happiness, and a greater satisfaction in life?

It would be.

Thanks to my education and job, I have got to move around many different countries and cities. I have been to developing countries and developed countries. I have been bombarded by the news and issues as well as opportunities and great health care other services. I have seen the rich people as well as homeless people. I have seen how the technology made our lives easy and then how it made us dependent on it. I have seen good people as well as bad people. I have seen comfortable life and also very dry, de-socialized, and most importantly, always “rushing” life.

I do not want to rush anymore nor be away from people. I do not want to regret being in the city I live. When I walked in the street of the city, I would like to feel the energy. When I look at it, I would like to see a character. I would like to be somewhere where I would not be marginalized, discriminated, or stereotyped because I was not originally from there. When I live in the city, I would like to feel like at home.

I also would like to be intrigued by the history, culture, and daily life of the people in that city. I dream them being nice and smiley all the time, being positive and hopeful, having time for each other, curious and respectful, protective of the environment, animals, and people, cheerful and happy with their lives and their people. Content with what they have and satisfied with their conditions. Not fully complaining, not feeling insecure, not feeling unsafe or unsuccessful, not gossiping or back-stabbing. Happy, healthy, content, relax, wise, and humane.

I do not know whether there is any place like this on earth – at the end we are all human and human have predictable behavior. But I believe that there are places where I can find at least the half of these features and where I can get rid of the stress and “rushing” of this modern, high-tech, and high-demanding life and work. Where I can find myself, without the clouds and mess of the current life conditions, obligations, issues, stress, and others.

The simple life I am dreaming of would include serving the society; maybe as a teacher. Having a small but safe house with a yard and lots of trees around. Having a study at the house where I can have my library of books and a study desk. On the desk I would have my laptop or computer and I would write. I would write the stories that I could not formulate, develop, or write yet. On the streets I would talk to people and at the market I would buy fresh produce. I would eat my food with interest and with admiration. I would chat with my neighbours and invite them over for ice tea at my yard. We would laugh and enjoy our moment. I would have a cat, better yet a cat and a dog. I would read the most extraordinary stories by the most beautiful writers. I would cook at my kitchen with a large wooden table in the middle. I would cook for the people I love. I would walk on the streets with a smile on my face, thinking about almost nothing, phasing out with the rhythm of my breath and the kiss of sun on my cheeks..

And, before I forgot, I would have financial means to do so, live like this, without depending on anyone or anything.

That is the most depressing part of this dream; I do not have the financial means to make it come true. If I stay with my current job and current budget for another 25 years, I may have enough for my retirement. Maybe in my retirement I could move to such a place.

But, my dear friends, would it not be a waste of life?

simplified life, routine, and the change

I am eager to keep a simple life style and daily life so that once a system is establish, my time and energy can be leveraged to more important things in life (such as work).

I am happy to have a simple daily system and way of life; yet when everyday repeats themselves over and over, it gets boring.

So today I was bored with the prospect of spending this beautiful sunday with the same activities, often with the same sequence, and thus together with the encouragement of family members, I have tried different things; I have changed the cafe house I go every saturday and sunday and landed up in a nearby nice cafe; my regular breakfast that I am so fond of was not available so I tried soup (which was awesome). I walked a little bit longer and it felt good. I did my grocery shopping the first thing in the morning, which I regularly do on thursday or friday afternoons. I am sitting in my kitchen table with my laptop and working/blogging. I even had my favourite tea at the table, which felt good.

Now I am excited to plan what else I can change (little changes, nothing too drastic) every day to make everyday interesting and new.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: