Small changes first ... I've removed the money and projects sections from the sidebar. The money sections because I got to feeling that I was only doing it to pat myself on the back, which smacks of gloating or boasting (both very unbecoming). The projects sections because, frankly, it was too discouraging. There are just too many projects I want to tackle that can't be done because of a shortage of time and/or money, and too many that can't be started until a gazillion other things are done first. Whenever I looked at the blog, instead of being pleased with what I have accomplished, I was disheartened by all the things I haven't. So those sections just didn't work for me the way I'd hoped they would.
And the big change ... a major change in myself. A change not in what I do but in how I think about it. A change in how I react to what goes on around me. A change in how I choose to feel about, and deal with, life in general.
Up to now, when I've talked here about the green/frugal stuff that happens at home, I've said "we".
The truth is, it's mostly me. Big Guy humours me a little; he dutifully shovels compost onto the garden and puts his newspapers in the blue box, he goes through the grocery flyers and asks me if XXX is a good price to pay for peanut butter, he takes all his beer cans to the depot to get his deposit back.
But ... although he says he "hates waste" ... he wastes so much ...
Time. Money. Food. Water. Energy, as in in gas and electricity. Energy, as in flying into pointless rages over things that don't matter or can't be altered ... like the traffic, or the weather. Any combination of these things. Perhaps the most frustrating to me is his habit of buying all kinds of materials for projects that actually need to be done, and then talking endlessly about the projects without ever actually doing anything. Case in point: the basement. We've been talking for years about turning the unfinished part of the basement into a family room. We have all the insulation, all the wiring/outlet supplies, all the lighting fixtures, all the shelving, flooring, wallboard, paint ... I've been chipping away at cleaning all the junk out, getting rid of what we don't have any use for any more, organizing what needs to stay, and so on. Every time I ask him what needs to be done next, he insists that he can't do anything until "everyone gets their crap out of the way". Guess what? Ninety percent of all the "crap in the way" is his. I don't tell him that, though. I just go on quietly working toward the day when I can gently point out to him that it's all his.
What scares me the most when I think of the future?
Him. I love him like crazy, I have for almost thirty years, I always will. But I worry that the time is coming when that love won't be enough.
He doesn't see money and debt the way I do. I see money as a tool, to be used as wisely and efficiently as possible in order to have the life I want. He sees it as what the world owes him to do whatever he pleases with. When I decide I want something, I look for the best price and I save up for it. He needs instant gratification - he sees something, he wants it, he buys it, he'll worry about how to pay for it "later". I see debt as something that eats up energy and resources I'd prefer to put to better use elsewhere. He sees it as a fact of life, something that everyone has and something that he will always have because that's just the way life is.
Another thing that's starting to worry me arises from the dark side, if you will, of his declared hatred of waste. He comes from a family of impulse shoppers and hoarders. And I'm seeing the tendency developing in him. Oh, not to the extent of some of his family, but it's there, and it's edging into problem territory ...
Our old dishes and cutlery were mostly mismatched pieces from the years before we got together. Yes, it would be nice to have dishes that went together, to have knives & forks & spoons that all matched, but there were more important things to spend the money on. We'd wait for a good sale on something we both really liked ... Well, the sale happened. We agreed on a set of silverware and bought it. But then he went back to the sale and bought three more sets! One more set went into the kitchen drawer, one set went into the camper, and one set he put away "for spares". I hope we never need the "spares", because he can't remember where he stashed that third set. Pretty much the same thing happened with the dishes; he's always had the mindset that if one of something is good, six must be six times better. But we can't ever get rid of the old beat-up useless stuff we've replaced, because we might need it someday, we might buy a summer cabin in the woods someday, the kids might want it someday ... It's the same story with sheets, towels, lawn rakes, you name it. If he dies first, I stand to make at least a year's worth of mortgage payments just by holding a tool auction! As of the last count he has forty-three work shirts, eighteen pairs of sweat pants, three dresser drawers full of socks, and twenty-two plaid jackets. Twenty-two. Plaid. Jackets. Oh, and nine pairs of steel-toed work boots. I don't think I have nine pairs of shoes unless I count in my gumboots!
So what does all this have to do with the "big change" in myself?
I've changed how I react to it, how I let it affect my actions and my feelings. I've realized that I can't change Big Guy, I can only change how I cope with the way he does things. I can stop stressing about how he deals with money, and focus on what needs to be done that I can deal with on my own. And I can concentrate on all the qualities I love in him, instead of the traits that frustrate or anger me.
When we make a shopping list, I keep it to what we need that's on sale, I go through my coupons, and I try to go with him so I can encourage him to stick to the list. I can't stop him from impulse buying in the grocery store when he goes by himself, but I can make sure he eats before he shops. I can't make him get rid of anything, but I can insist that he find a home for it where it's not going to be in the way of something we need to do or to get at. I can't make him do things ... but I can quietly just go do them myself.
Like I said, I love him. And I know he loves me. But it's kind of sad, sometimes, to think of all the ways in which I'm now living my life around him instead of with him.