Thursday, August 4, 2011

Simple Satisfaction

Mark and I have an arrangement.  He makes the big money and pays the big bills (the mortgage and the cell phone bill, for example, and he's working on building up his business so there will be larger profits in the future).  I make the little money and pay the little bills. 

Mark gets annoyed with me lately because every time he asks me if I need money or he tries to give me money I'll only take $100 (usually about twice a month and only when I absolutely have to take it).  Then he usually tries to force more on me.  He's very good to me.  And there's something about having my husband force a crisp $100 bill into my hand that makes me feel very, very taken care of.  But I'd rather earn it myself.

Recently, I have found myself on an almost comfortable financial plateau, the first brief resting spot on my climb out of the pit.  I am within about $200 of being able to support my household on my own.  Granted, I'm not talking about the mortgage on my house or the mortgage on another property I own and there are debts I owe and bills I can't pay, but it feels SO good to be able to pay for my basic utilities (water, gas, and electric), fuel for my car, food for my family, and small payments on a couple of debts by MYSELF. 

I make a little less than $1000 a month, I am always in fear of losing my house, and I know my day with the IRS is coming, but I can turn on the lights and the TV and the air conditioning, I have hot water and (as of last week) cable TV (HOORAY!), I have enough food to get me though the immediate future (there were times when I was one meal away from that being an issue), and I am chipping away at my debt.  And I do this though my own efforts with just $200 a month in additional help from Mark's profits. 

There is peace and serenity and, yes, even joy in this humble accomplishment.  Six or seven years ago, I bought houses with cash and renovated them with cash and sold them for a pretty good profit.  Now I'm a secretary and I clean houses and I barely scrape by.  There was less satisfaction in that more prestigous accomplishment then than there is now in my current small, humble success at mere survival. 

Of course, I'd rather be renovating houses because I LOVE that creative accomplishment, but I manage to enjoy what I do now and I just trust that I am where I'm supposed to be and I'm being taken to where I'm supposed to go.  There is great peace and satisfaction here.  And I dare to hope as I look ahead.

I've been looking for a book I have to find a quote for this piece.  I finally found the book but now I can't find the quote!  I know it's in there somewhere.  Perhaps, the quote remain ellusive because I'm supposed to read the whole book while looking for it?  Perhaps I'm supposed to recommend it to YOU?  I'll trust the higher order on that one.  The book is The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo, PhD. 

It's pretty beaten up because I carry it around a lot!

The author interviewed older people about what is meaningful and important in life and wrote this book on what he learned.  It is powerful and important.  I recommend it to everyone.  I might hand it out on street corners if I had funds to burn!

The quote I can't find says something to the effect of this:  When looking back over their lives, people tended to remember the times of struggle and poverty the most fondly.  There was great nostalgia for the Great Depression, for example.  I'm beginning to understand this.  I can see how there would be nostalgia for the beginning of the dream.  Because, when you're sitting flat on you butt in the dirt and you have to figure out how to pick yourself up and go on and built a future for yourself, there has to be a certain degree of dreaming and a healthy dose of digging into the stuff that you're really made of. 

Merge all that with the way struggle and scarcity give appreciation for the little things and you have the makings of something that is likely to be looked back upon with fondness.  How many couples have you heard talk about when they were first married and they lived in a little tiny apartment/house and made do with a beginner's pay check and the fruits of their own labor and resourcefulness?  There's a sweetness is that -- in living small and dreaming of bigger.

There's a song about this principle.  It's Trace Adkin's "You're Gonna  Miss This". 

Here's the link to the video if you're interested.  I recommend it. It dispenses a healthy injection of appreciation for where you are, wherever that is  -- even with all the trials and struggles.

"You're gonna miss this. 
You're gonna want this back..
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. 
These are some good times. 
So take a good look around. 
You may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this."

I took a good look around.  There is joy in being here.


  1. The first job I ever had was at Chesterfield Cylinder in Enid. I was about 15. Every Saturday I would sweep the floor for eight hours. At the end of the day, they paid me in cash: minimum wage was $3.35 an hour, so I would get an envelope with $26.80. In some ways, that feels like the only honest work I have ever done. (Of course, since they were paying me under the table and avoiding taxes, it was actually not all that honest. But it felt honest.)

    Thanks for this post Annie. You are an inspiration.

  2. I remember $3.35 an hour! I was a file clerk in my dad's law office for two weeks one summer. I'm sure sweeping floors was harder but probably more rewarding! I'm a big fan of good, honest physical labor.