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Monday, October 16, 2017

Definition of insanity

You've probably heard this -- the definition of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result.

I feel like that is what I have been doing for the last couple of years. Same thing, same thing, but expecting to feel differently about it all. With awareness, and in response, I am trying to create a different path for my life. This has led to me taking classes and preparing for a career. It is also what prompted me to turn over some of the dinner-prep tasks in our house to other members of the household. And it has led me to judiciously use more prepared foods.

I am trying to listen to my body and my spirit. Always making everything from scratch is tiring. There are some good shortcuts available in convenience foods, such as the frozen pie crust that I used last week. I'm making burritos for dinner tomorrow night, and using canned refried beans. I know that I could make refried beans and save about 50%. But just knowing that I can wait until the late afternoon to start on dinner prep frees my mind to pursue something else for the entire day.

Other areas where I am simplifying include the holidays. Christmas gifting will be greatly simplified this year. And I really am okay with that. I've asked each of my children to tell me one thing, just one thing, that they'd really enjoy receiving this year. If I happen to also buy or make something else, that will be a bonus. We all have so much stuff, anyway. There's no need to add to the piles and piles of belongings. Fewer gifts, overall, mean less wrapping paper and ribbon, which also means less clean-up on Christmas day. Fewer gifts mean a simpler credit card statement in January. We may spend nearly as much as previous years, but the statement will be simpler to audit for errors. Fewer gifts mean more time to spend relaxing during the season, and on Christmas. Fewer gifts may also mean fewer headaches for me. Fewer gifts mean less waste in the garbage for December, less gasoline used to get to stores or have merchandise delivered to me, and maybe less of a sense of greed. Fewer gifts mean greater appreciation for the abundance that we already have. Less gives us more.

What I've discovered is that I don't feel like less of a mother, wife, homemaker, friend, sister, etc. On the contrary, simplifying my daily work has given me more energy to really be present with the people in my life. Just something I was thinking about.


Linda M said...


CTMOM said...

I totally concur with your take on the holiday madness. Over the recent years, I've simplified, not that we were ever any where near over the top which is prevalent around here. I no longer send holiday cards. The cost, waste, lack of reciprocity *(not that I need recipients to send me a card in kind), the stress it caused me to get them out in time. I stopped, and haven't looked back. I only shop for my Mom (something consumable and usually a GC to a restaurant, which is a splurge for her; and my 4 children. The kid's SOs will all receive identical gifts as was done last year: something baked by me, what exactly is yet to be determined. When I formally retired in March, my budget was reduced in response. The kids were all told that my funds are less. We will have a lovely dinner together, some traditional holiday foods (many of the ingredients are being amassed ahead of time to avoid the crowds and to take advantage of deals at stores). Like you, I hope to be done with any brick and mortar shopping before Thanksgiving, which is my gift to myself. I can enjoy the season quietly, listen to carols, watch classic holiday movies, bake holiday cookies. It's all good as my older son says!

Live and Learn said...

So happy, Lili, that you are making these changes and life is improving for you. There are different phases in our lives and changes need to be made to live each one of them fully. You're entering a new one and from here, it looks really good. How is your family adjusting to changes in how some things are done?

Cat said...

Good for you! Figuring out what you need/want to improve your life and move forward. So many simply complain and never make those changes. Very proud of you!

Anonymous said...


I feel like you and I were traveling in the same boat, except my off-boarding was my current job. I have been at my job for 17y, but for the last ~5y, it has been a real struggle. I have been looking for several years now, and found one that appears to be able to appreciate my experience and treat me with respect. It hard to believe, but even though there is A LOT of emotions still, there is MORE peace than I knew existed. I feel like I have a chance to be me again. Life is short, appreciate the people and give the rest to God to handle. Take care and happy Monday! Lisa

Belinda said...

I laughed out loud when I read the title of your blog post, Lili. Just made a smile come across my face for some reason. I think we all feel some insanity from time to time. Convenience foods are a great way to relieve some of the stress from cooking from scratch everyday. I always use store bought pie crusts, and I'm OK with that. Learning to be OK with your choices will give you so much peace of mind.

I simplified Christmas a few years ago and it is so much better. I simply told extended family that we were spending the day with each other at home. That's what I always wanted to do anyway and we did it and loved it, so there is no turning back now.

You do what is best for you and don't feel guilty for the choices you make. Peace of mind wins for me every time. :)

I hope you have a good week.

Alice said...


Sometimes you just have to make some changes in order to have better physical health, mental health, spiritual health and emotional health.

We eliminated the gift giving at Christmas many years ago. Since we paid for EVERYTHING for about 18 years (including college to 22 years), there was no way I could afford more giving. I told them that we would have a time of family with dinner and conversation and maybe even a movie and that would be it.

But I also hate it when people ask "what did you get for Christmas" because I have to answer honestly, "nothing". I just can't afford it. I still need to learn how to deal with answering that question.

And, yes, go for some convenience foods. Obviously there are many to stay away from but there are many others that are an excellent substitute for homemade.

Keeping yourself healthy is absolutely a priority. Especially mental health. I can really identify with you on that part. Right now, our youngest has thrown in a huge monkey wrench into life that we now have to deal with. Not good for my stress/anxiety and yet it has to be dealt with. GRRRRR!


Linda M said...

When asked what you got for Christmas, just reply: I got the best gift from my family....they spent time with me and I loved it!

Lili said...

Alice, whatever it is with your youngest, I hope that you all find a solution that works. I'm sorry for the frustration and stress for you.

Lili said...

live and learn, hmmm, I think they are doing okay with the changes. Obviously, most people don't like it when someone else imposes changes that affect them. But if they really love me, they should all be able to make small sacrifices, so that I can feel better. That sounds like a selfish statement. It is, but not excessively so. Here's how I look at it -- In a community like a family we all need to make sacrifices. It's unbalanced when one or two people are making the majority of the sacrifices so everyone else can feel more comfortable. That's my best answer to your question.

Kris said...

I have sensed a new spirit from you and I am happy for you, Lili. I don't think it's selfish at all to get more help from family for meal prep or to use some convenience foods. If it is, well, then I'm incredibly selfish, I guess! I think you are setting healthy boundaries in your life in regards to what you can and cannot do to serve your family. My view is that a family is a unit which should work together. Sometimes, yes, mom/wife needs to step up and do what needs to be done to meet needs ... but no one can keep that up day after day, year after year without some form of mental/emotional/physical burnout. I think that by teaching your family to be aware of your needs (and they are needs, not wants!) you are teaching them to be more aware of others around them AND to pay attention to their own needs. I'm sure you have gotten push-back, but stay tough and don't let yourself get in that dark place again. And now I am done sermonizing. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it is OK to change your priorities. If I was writing a blog, I would think my readers may be disappointed that I have changed. It is fine that you have chosen to move on, and what brought you purpose and joy no longer satisfies.

I have fallen off the bargain hunting deal bandwagon completely, and about 10 years ago I fell off the financial deals forum which I participated with vigor for about 7 years. I think life's passage has changed what we see as interests and opportunity. What was right for us then no longer fits. Right now, again, I am in a different mindset.


Anonymous said...

I am glad that you asked your family to help with some things. Making everything from scratch is time consuming. We had a lot of easy meals this summer and it made life better.We have lowered our expectations and it has taken away lots of stress. Our Holidays are simple and have been for a few years. I started getting extended family magazine subscriptions. They love it and it is easy for me. If I feel like it I can do surveys to pay for them and get them free. I am enjoying simple this year we are even sorting things out and getting rid of them to make cleaning easier.��

Anonymous said...

It sounds like your frugality has allowed you to progress to your current position of being able to make choices based not on what is always is the most thrifty financially, but also time wise. We are also at that point now, where we can think about what is time saving as well as money saving. Also, our now adult children weren’t real fond of doing their own laundry & helping out with meals and housework, but as adults they were grateful they were made to do it. It’s part of growing up and being responsible. So, well done and good wishes for this new phase of your lives!

Lili said...

YHF, one of the things that I have happily discovered is that having and using some conveniences doesn't wreck the budget. In fact, with grocery shopping, I'm still below what I was spending in 2013, monthly. I'm choosing differently, but still doing okay. All I can think is there must have been "fat" in our spending before that went unrecognized. For you, maybe the bargain hunting for deals is no longer the best use of your time and resources. Perhaps you have more leeway in your budget than you realized. Or perhaps, along with the deal hunting you were spending extra here and there, due to a mindset of woo hoo, we just scored a deal, so now we can treat ourselves to XY or Z. I know that I am guilty of the latter scenario. I remember working from home for a small income years ago and spending every penny of my income on treats and quick meals for my kids, to make up for not having as much time for them. That was a short-lived experience once I realized what I was doing.

Lili said...

I have never met a child or teen (or adult) who actually liked doing laundry or cleaning their room, so I guess it goes with the territory that there would be flack for helping with housework. But you're right, they gotta learn some time!

Anonymous said...

Also, another reason, in both cases, for the bargain hunting and financial deals forum, the landscape changed. In 2008, interest rates fell and low hanging fruits, like high interest on reward checking accounts and other bank promotional offers, became extinct. I still have some of the remnants of those offers that today continue to make a difference. For bargain hunting deals, I think the same can be said. Stores have pulled back their offerings. I continue to look for good deals, but the little that is found is making it hard to justify the time to organize and do the deals.


Shara said...

Seasons of life change. I find myself facing some of the same things. The house is all but empty, and what was once frugal no longer seems as prudent to my current stage of life. I had just posted something similar this morning.

I’m glad that you are finding the things that work for you (and your family) at the place and time you are in now.

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