Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Benefits of the Compact

January hurtles to its finish line, along with our first month of our Compact Commitment. With the exception of my family's deviation for my birthday gift, we have kept our full commitment (see previous post. Please note that I had repeatedly told Cliff NO storebought presents, only HOMEMADE gifts. Obviously, he could not expect the children to create anything of value in the 45 minutes he alloted for birthday shopping, so he forced me to give him a budget, which he then recklessly abandoned. When the children weren't looking, I returned it all, except the pastry server, which they used on my cake, and the chocolate, because DUH, that falls under groceries.)

At this point in time, we have no negative experiences to report. In fact, we have been pleasantly surprised with the depth of benefits we are experiencing.

Some benefits have been obvious from the start. My bank statement is so short it's laughable. Bills paid. Cash withdrawn for grocery and gasoline budget. Nothing more. No debit charges. No checks to Target. A whopping 90 seconds to reconcile my checkbook.

We expected benefits with increased savings, less paperwork. What we were not expecting was the feeling both of calmness and clarity that has eased into our consciousness.

Waking up each morning, we tell ourselves: today, our needs are met. We need nothing that is not under this roof. For today, we are self-sufficient and autonomous.

Quite surprising just how much mind-space this frees up.

I've put a decent dent in my pile of "to read" books. I've tackled some homeschooling organization projects that have been nagging me for months (reducing clutter), and I was able to tackle them wisely because I had the time to research and evaluate different organizational options. I'm adding fun, new meals into my weekly menus, since I've taken the time to go through untouched magazines and sort out recipes that caught my eye.

In the past, I would have purchased new books that caught my eye; purchased some catchy new organizational structure to catch all the clutter, which would quickly fall into disarray since the main organizational problem was not addressed; and bought new magazines since looking through ALL the old ones seemed overwhelming. All things I am ashamed to admit, but it's the truth, and I am SO glad to see the light.

With the realization that right here, at this moment, our needs are fully met, I realize just how much trouble we create for our own selves. Walk through a book store and look at the walls of self help books. Where does all of our stuff and accumulation and desire for bigger--bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger job titles--leave us? With bigger debt, bigger feelings of emptiness, bigger messed up kids. Bigger problems.

I've done my fair share of creating my own bigger problems. I have found that the Compact has really taken a lot of "noise" out of my head. Without that "noise," I can really concentrate on how I feel about things. When I am in imbalance, making poor decisions, I can feel it. My stomach knots. Anxiety. Something's off.

The thing of it is, I know what creates imbalance, and what doesn't. I haven't yet to find a situation where I am not the creator of my feelings of imbalance. I know when I'm not giving something my all, or when I'm taking the lazy way out. I could--and have-- made excuses, blaming my husband or the layout of my house or something completely immaterial. And you know what? All that damn "noise" made it so easy to pass the blame.

I'm approaching a stage of my life where, if I want to be truly successful by my personal definition, I have to squash this imbalance. Being a mother of 5, homeschooling them all, I don't want to give chaos too much room. Why at times I make some of the most basic things so difficult is beyond me. Am I stupid? Certainly not, but by some of my actions, you would be hard to prove otherwise. It's not about sweating the small stuff--it's about obliterating the small stuff so that I can focus on the things that truly matter.


Sawatzky Kids said...

Yet another great post Sarah!
Shelly and gang

me said...

You have no idea how much you are inspiring me. Congratulations on a successful first month!