Friday, June 26, 2009

To Carpe Diem or not to Carpe Diem

I love the phrase Carpe Diem... seize the day! Wikipedia says the poet Horace (who made it famous in his poem) used it as... "enjoy, make use of, seize". As one who feels time has been fast forwarded, I like that definition.

I am enjoying being stuck at home due to absolutely no money. No, really (which is probably why I love reading Laine's Letters so much... she had to do the same). I have a letter sitting on the breakfront ready to be sent but I don't have the money for a stamp.

Now, I'm not telling you that to feel sorry for me. I'm really fine as I am surrounded by beautiful nature, my diet is limited but healthy, and my son put gas in the car for me when he received his paycheck. He asked me to help pick out a bouquet of roses for his friend he's taking to the homeschool prom this evening and told me to buy a few groceries at the same time. He even let me buy a Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi and a pint of half-n-half.

Hehehe, I found a bouquet of gorgeous pink roses in a display which were half the price of similar roses in the refrigerator display. We came home and I "tweaked" the bouquet to make them look quite uptown. Doing things the frugal way can be fun.

It all becomes about attitude... if I allowed myself to get upset that all my favorite garage sales have now come and gone without me even having a dollar to spend... then I'd be ungrateful for everything I have. God has never failed to provide everything I needed, even if life was uncomfortable now and then.

It's all about seizing what is good about the day we live and corralling our expectations...

My New Mexican friend was telling me recently about a couple they knew who were just thrown out of their third rental house in a row for not paying rent. They had called to see if she and her husband could take their horses for awhile (the answer was no). What amazes her is the lifestyle this couple expects as both work but live far beyond what reality should be for their situation. They do not pay their rent but they have a brand new truck, horses, and other luxuries. Carpe Diem is good when within our means.

But then there are those who are just the opposite... my father-in-law had a Depression mentality and went far beyond being frugal. Even though they had plenty of money in savings and absolutely no debt outside of their mortgage, they rarely did anything to make beautiful memories. The time our children are at home is fleeting, one honestly does look back when the youngest turns eighteen and wonders where the years went.

My husband and his siblings have few good memories of growing up, even though they had a stable home life in a pleasant middle class neighborhood. When my father-in-law died, he had plenty of money in the bank but his children didn't shed tears at his funeral. I did, which shocked everyone as he hadn't treated me well... I guess having married into the family I "saw" him differently.

Don't fear the future. If you have an income and are financially stable... Carpe Diem! Who knows what next year will bring? Well, we do know the family will not be at these ages. Of course, I'm not talking about going into debt or spending the mortgage payment to go have fun. Don't buy a brand new truck and horses if you can't pay the rent.

No... but if you have a little "extra"... make some memories. I didn't have my father with me very long. His work was seasonal and he knew he'd be out of a job each winter. But I have never had to go into counseling due to my father for in the short ten years we had together he never showed fear about what life would bring.... instead he planted flowers, made furniture, cooked meals when Mom worked late, caused me to laugh, cried when Patsy Cline died (and I cry when I hear her music), made it impossible for me to see cows or horses when driving on a highway without remembering how excited he became when viewing animals, and planted those seeds I'd need later in life... our ability to enjoy life is not dependent on our bank balance.

Be careful... be frugal where necessary... become more self sufficient... try your best to stay away from debt... fill your recipe box with delicious frugal recipes... re-read favorite books... watch uplifting and warm hearted movies... hug your furry friends... sip tea from a beautiful English tea cup... organize your pictures while remembering pleasant days... sit on your deck or porch and watch the sun come up while enjoying the morning cup of coffee... surprise the family with a chocolate cake for no reason whatsoever... bake bread and serve it warm with real butter... live life... teach your children how the good life can be enjoyed on a budget.

Don't be afraid of the future.

Carpe Diem. Your children will thank you.

Picture: Sent to me in an e-mail by a dear friend a couple years ago to cheer me up. It worked.


Married life said...

I understand your thinking very well indeed. Dh and I have very little but we are happy, a trip to the zoo for us is as good as a trip to Hawaii hehe. Keep up the great writing and Carpe Diem!

Anonymous said...

Bless you!! This post so blessed me:).

Tracy said...

What a beautiful, wise, uplifting post, Brenda! I love your outlook. :)

Kim said...

Thank you! I needed this today!

Reviekat said...

What an encouraging post! Such great advice for everyone.

Anonymous said...

You've did it again. Totally made my day. I enjoy your posts more than I can tell you. Thank you for your time & thoughts.

Scrappy quilter said...

What wonderful words of wisdom. I totally agree with everything you said. We've decided to make some memories today....we are going on a road trip. We don't know where, just taking the day for some fun. We have a few extra dollars this month which is wonderful. I agree with you, attitude makes all the difference.

Brenda, have a wonderful day. I know you'll make it happen. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post and so very appropriate for me at this time.
Thank you for showing me a better attitude.
I'm going to adopt your philosphy if you don't mind.
By the way, keep up the blogging good work,I love it!
Hugs and God bless,

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

And you are so good at this, Brenda. You find the good in the grace of the moment and are not afraid. When I was first married, Paul said we should make good memories when we were young so we could have them to look back on in our older age. Well, I am sad that he is gone and I have to look at those memories alone, but so glad I have them. So glad my children have them too, and we are so close to one another.It is a blessing to us all.

Cheri said...

As always, great advice and great attitude.

Wouldn't it be great if they could read your blog post at the beginning of the evening news tonight?

Anonymous said...

As usual you are a real blessing and an encouragement. Here in Michigan it is getting real hard for alot of people, but our attitude can make such a difference. Thank you for a few good reminders. Kathy

A Southern Rose said...

I'm so glad that I looked at your blog tonight and saw this post. It really hit home with me. Also that was so sweet of your son! It made me tear up.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hey, Brenda, you're very sweet, thanks for the compliment. :) Believe me, I pay the price to be fit by going to the gym several times a week. So I sweat to look as good as I do...for my age.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Brenda, you are such a lovely writer! I think most of us have had those times when we haven't the money for the luxury of a stamp! I was just reminding Katie and Rosie that there were times when they were younger that, after paying all the bills (sometimes only some of the bills), we had twenty dollars to buy food for a family of five--for the week. And guess what?? We used to make the most surprisingly delicious and fun feasts from basically nothing!! Simple meals, such as white beans and corn bread (sometimes made without eggs or milk due to our forced frugality) and a simple Romaine lettuce salad or cucumber slices were served on our prettiest china. Other simple meals were eaten on a round tea table, pulled in front of the fireplace, with candles flickering on the mantle and soft music from the classical radio station playing in the background. More times than not we would liven a meager meal with family cribbage games where laughter and friendly competition mixed well with homemade Chile and grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas! Summer evenings found us eating at the old picnic table outside our kitchen door. We painted it the same gray-blue as the house (using left over paint) and shaded it with a pretty, matching, ten dollar, yard sale umbrella inserted through a hole Mike drilled in the center of the table. Sometimes I would serve the simplest meals of roasted or slow cooked chicken legs, and slices of fresh green and red peppers, cucumber, carrots, celery, and fruit in season all served in their own pretty, footed glass bowls, and our frugal luxury of fresh French bread from a wholesale bakery nearby was the star of this simple feast (it cost only fifty-cents per fresh loaf!) along with a crock of softened butter (I mix a softened stick of butter with about 1/4 cup of sunflower oil and blend well--doing this stretches the butter, cuts the saturated fat as well as the cost of butter, but tastes deliciously rich and buttery). Most meals were accompanied by a glass pitcher of iced water garnished with lemon Verbena from our little herb garden and served in our mismatched collection of stemware garnered for a song (ten cents to a quarter each) collected from yard sales and/or thrift shops. Desserts were often melon slices or an occasional scoop of ice cream or a Popsicle! During cold weather I served lots of pies, cookies and cakes...and soups of many kinds. For after dinner fun, we'd often take turns reading aloud from my beloved collection of classic books (old friends;)such as "Little Women", "Anne of Green Gables" or "A Wrinkle in Time"...or watch a movie that we borrowed from a friend or the library. Now that my children are grown, or, almost grown, we all look back on these times as among the happiest of our lives! You are soo wise in understanding this philosophy. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love your posting today! My little wise friend Corrie, age six, said to me yesterday: "You know what makes country folk so great? They don't have to have money to have fun!" Six and already has it figured out! Thanks for a great posting.

Marie said...

Brenda, another great writing from you. You always have important wisdom to impart.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

What a lovely post Brenda! You know I painted that saying on my bathroom wall so we would see it every morning.

It's going to be in the high 90's today and our air conditioner broke last night. No chance of anyone coming out until tuesday to even have a look at it! Hopefully it can be fixed but I'm preparing myself for having to get a new one. That's why emergency funds are so important!

Anyway, we could moan and be very upset about the whole thing but we're looking at it as an adventure and something we'll always remember and talk about in the future! Fortunately we're all in good health so the heat shouldn't be a health issue just a comfort issue! People used to and still do, live without AC! So we'll try to make the whole experience as fun as we can!


Beth said...

What a precious post to me...I have tears in my eyes. I also adored my dad...and still do...I am so blessed to still have my parents.
I love the ideas of living each day and also the idea of making memories. My husband has for a very long time wanted to have a little camper for our blended family. We both know that it is not something that we can really "afford"...but we have chosen a used inexpensive little trailer to pull behind my 12 year old van. He is wanting to "make memories" with our children. He keeps telling me that if we wait until we have plenty of money, we will never be able to do this with our children. Thanks for your reinforcement of his idea.
Your blog is so very sweet, humble and full of appreciation and grace.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for this post. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it. I appreciate your wisdom in staying balanced in this life.

Lori in PA

Vee said...

Beautiful! Simply beautiful. See? I do think it's time.

~~Deby said...

Brenda...what a beautifully written, poignant post.
I recall the time, we were dad loaded us in the back of his old pick up..and we drove old country roads looking for bottles to cash in..for a treat..we stopped, bought a loaf of bread..and a bottle of ketchup...Voila' ketchup sandwiches...or the dad put our tv. on our porch in the summer..and made popcorn...
My parents had 7 children..I am the parents and two younger siblings have been gone now 5 years...and it is hard at times..thanks for helping me remember the *good times* dad was a alcoholic..and many times I have recalled the *junk*..NOT TODAY...thank you...

bookflutterby said...

Oh my, this is one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read, and SO true! Often, too often, it's the little things in life that are magical yet missed! Thank you for this great post- I LOVE your blog! :D

Sherri from Hudsonville, MI said...

I was so happy to read this post. It is a great reminder to enjoy things in life that will make great memories. I will do many of the things on you list.