Thursday, October 30, 2008

letting go

When I write this blog I often focus on the financial side of my simple journey. What I don't focus on is the soft side, the side of Simplicity that I really probably most need. That is living for the moment, in the moment. Being at peace. rejoicing in the moment, not getting worked up about what will happen, or if it is fair, or who did the lion's share of the work last night and who read the paper. (just keeping it real here). I pray for peace. Peace for myself first for I do believe if I am not at peace then how can I work for peace with others?

Letting go of Christmas (the cat not the holiday) is a good example of this lesson.

Christmas was our stray cat found at our old condo a year after we moved to Singapore. She was a 6 month old kitten, hungry and skinny but approachable and very loving. From the first time we saw her and took food downstairs to her, to the following two days where we watched her (to make sure she didn't belong to someone) she worked her way into our hearts. We brought her home the next day, took her to the vet to have her checked out and cleaned up and let her into our lives. It was fun having a kitten around the house. She caught any stray bug or lizard that worked its way into our house (and at our current Condo on the ground floor that included a bird). She was all cat and all play. Christmas was not the kind of cat that withheld affection. She was all about love all the time. Finding her on Sunday, broken and battered, near death was excruciating. She was silent, until Jeff and I saw her and called her name, at which point she started to cry. It killed me.

Jeff took her to the Vet and they did all they could but the real choice was known when we first saw her, we would have to let her go. The rest of the day was one filled with what happened, did we fail her, did we not hear her get hurt, could we have saved her if we found her earlier? What did we do wrong? These thoughts circled my brain and I know Jeff did the same. The truth is, nothing short of keeping her locked in the house would have protected her. Nothing we could have done would have made a difference. Christmas was an outdoor loving kitty, she loved being able to sit in the grass and watch the world go by. She loved chasing lizards and bugs, she loved just sitting on the edge of the patio and taking charge of her world. This was a horrible tragic accident and it was just that, an accident. There was nothing I could have done.

So, I now struggle with letting go. Not letting go of the great fun memories of my little kitten. Not letting go that Christmas had a better three years of life with us than she would have had as a stray. Not letting go of the fact that she brought love and joy to me and my family. But letting go of the pain. Letting go of the doubts and misgivings we had about our responsibility for her death, letting go of the tears, letting go of the negative thoughts.

Living life fully, for me, means feeling the pain, understanding that it hurts and then letting it go. Living in the moment means knowing that holding onto the pain doesn't make me a martyr, doesn't make me better than you, doesn't make my life richer.

Living fully means rejoicing in her life. remembering the joy. being with her in spirit. memorializing her life. That is about now. that is about love. that is peace.

An Oprah quote for the day

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

RIP Christmas Kitty

we lost our beloved Christmas kitty today. we think she fell off a ledge. She was our malaysian jungle kitty and we miss her so much already.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Global Crisis-my thoughts

I know that a number of people have thought this was coming for a long time. I guess the signs were there, I guess people should have been smarter than to spend way beyond their means. But the banks made it so easy. Credit cards with limits far exceeding income, sub-prime house loans, banks investing in banks that were investing in incomprehensible financing functions. Hey, while I may not be the smartest person around, I guess even I could see trouble brewing.

Until this week Singapore has been fairly well insulated. A few investments were hit, but these were the "ultra risky" investors in Singapore that actually invested in some type of banking shares. By ultra risky I mean it wasn't in your mattress nor was it in your savings account that earns no interest in Singapore. Let's just say that whole life insurance is the biggest investment vehicle in Singapore (and frankly much of Asia). The investment market for the average Singaporean just doesn't exist, they are beyond careful when it comes to investment. But with the market doing what it is doing, I guess I can see why. First, I should clarify, I believe in the stock market, I think it will rebound, I see that Jeff and I will take the opportunity to put money into the market now while prices are low.

But, I think this is a good time to remember why we invest with care, introspection and caution. I often thought that Jeff was a bit too conservative in our investment choices, but overall we have not really lost too much. We have most of our funds in a short term money market and we have a few conservative shares. Overall we have not lost the amounts that others have. And, more importantly, we are still earning and planning for retirement.

I see this as an opportunity, not a bad thing. I see this as a chance for us to further tighten our belt, to continue to save money, to invest with caution and to live within our means. Our current area of spending and concern is over the fate of my little side business for scrapbooking. Which, not atypical for the industry has failed to generate a real positive in the account books. But, perhaps atypical for the market, we have done it all with cash, nothing has been 'borrowed' in order to finance the business. No credit lines were attached and the business, a microbiz really, still has potential. As long as I don't need to go into a loan mode for now and continue to work the business we will continue. I still have lots of ideas and I hope that one of them will turn into a real profit generator for us.

So, tightening our belt, continuing to live on CASH. We have not had a credit card balance that was not paid off every month for over 10 years (excepting a month here or there for example when we moved this year). This has been key for us. We have gone through multiple job layoffs and readjustments, we spend more than the average family on good and quality food and we travel more than the average family. But we have done it all on cash. If we can't afford the trip, we don't go. If we can't afford a car (which we can't) we don't buy one...even if we want it. Our house is filled with largely used or Ikea sourced furniture, the kids still have WAY more toys than they ever play with. We are very happy even as the economy plummets.

So, our long term plans include investing, now if possible (again depending on J's job). I plan on running my business purely on Cash. We reevaluate our spending habits (which I think will be this weekends activity and should be under constant re-evaluation) and we look to the future with guarded optimism.

So, tomorrow I think I will post what we came up with for cost saving ideas based on our "spending habits".

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fighting sickness

Jeff is sick, upstairs neighbors are sick, just want to stay well myself. Started eating more whole foods, lots of great new recipes from the Clean Eating magazine. Tonight's dinner was brown rice and Mango Chicken with asparagus for veg. Yum and healthful.

Spent lots of $ at the store this week, but lots of it went to organic foods and staples, should have stuff stocked up for a while. Looks like Aussie strawberries are coming in (would love to have local, but this is the tropics afterall) so it may be time for another round of Freezer Jam!

Back with pictures of Malacca soon.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kinda sums up why I now believe in living within my means

First a great SNL skit... called don't buy stuff you can't afford.

Second... this cover of the Economist sort of says it all....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Audacity of Hope

I hate to count chickens, I have been too disappointed over the last 8 years in the election results, but I have hope. I have faith that American citizens will understand how very important the balance of government is and how we really do need new ideas in office, not a so-called maverick and his less than meritorious co-candidate.

See here

I have hope

Monday, October 06, 2008

It was too bad really...

We went with high expectations, of course having attended the Portland Brewers fest many times before set us with unrelistic expectations for the inagural Singapore Beer Festival. We went Sunday evening, on a family day, which meant the kids and our helper didn't have to pay the admission fee. But we did and at $40 per adult it was a bit steep. Each bottle of beer/glass of beer was around 10 each as well, sold by ticket sales only. While there were a number of great beers available, the price was just a bit too steep. So Jeff and I purchased 160 dollars worth of tickets (which you also needed for food) and we each only had 4 beers. We were able to have a bottle of Rouge Dead Guy Ale, very yummy btw, and I had a very nice Belgian Brown beer, but the food was way over priced and while they said there would be kids activities there were not. The food options were slim and way overpriced ($20 for a bratwurst?). The highlight of the evening was that one of the distributors let us buy "bottles" of Negra Modelo to bring home with our remaining tickets.

It really was too bad that the festival wasn't that great overall, the bands were great, the beer was good, even the venue was good, it was just the obsene pricing. it would have been better to charge less for the venue and keep the beer at $10 a glass or reduce the cost of the beer per glass. i hope they try again next year as I am an optimist at heart and while I can't drink too much beer anymore, i hope. Get the pricing sorted out and we will be back but a 300 night for dinner and 4 beers just doesn't make it work.
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