Financial Fast coincides with plans to clean, count blessings

OK. So now, Michelle Singletary is psychic.

Well, that’s not true. But it felt that way last night when I began reading Chapter 6 of the 21-Day Financial Fast, which coincides with DAY 6 of the fast the Washington Post columnist is leading people on across the country.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMI had had a great DAY 5, and was up late. So I began reading Chapter 6 early.

I need to read Chapter 6 every day – even when this fast ends. Its title: You Can’t Buy Contentment. Its purpose: Reminding us to be content with and thankful for what we have.

I was already on that road. As I searched my closets for something to wear to a gala, I stopped for a minute and saw all the stuff I had. And I felt overwhelming guilt that I had not been thankful enough for what’s already in my house.

The gala went great, and as I sat having a cup of coffee, I was happy. But it didn’t last long because I began whining in my head about what I couldn’t do Saturday.

Saturdays are my favorite day.  Saturdays are the day that, no matter what, I get to choose what I’m doing. There is no activity already on the calendar, no work, no meetings, no plans.

I usually have a great lunch somewhere outside my house, alone or with friends – and I go to the movies. My daughter and I used to go to the movies on Friday nights. We’d see movies as soon as they premiered. When she grew up, I continued to do that like it would kill me to hear conversations Saturday about a  movie I hadn’t seen. And I began preferring to go alone most times  (I’m one of those people who cannot stand conversations in theaters. I think there should be fines).

hr_Jack_Ryan-_Shadow_Recruit_14I had already begun to whine in my head about not being able to see the new Jack Ryan movie. And that lemon artichoke tilapia that I love at a nearby restaurant? It was calling me!

But, I told myself, the movie will be playing for at least a month and will show up on the DVR. And the restaurant will still be open in February. (Thank you, God, for giving me a moment of clarity about why I’m doing this fast in the first place).

So I decided I’d keep myself busy Saturday by cleaning house, getting rid of stuff  I didn’t in December when I normally take bags and bags of things to the Salvation Army.

I kept reading. And there on Page 85 of Michelle’s book was a remedy for a lack of contentment and a great way to remember what you have.

“Clean every room.”

I stopped reading, told Michelle to get out of my head, and went to bed.

But today, that is what I’m doing. Between breaks for Facebook and Twitter and coffee, I’m doing an inventory of all I own and what could be blessing someone else’s life now.

Michelle suggested making an inventory, but I don’t want to waste that much paper.

But I’ll tell you this: I’m going to need bigger bags.


Facebook photo offers glimpse at a previous life

1521895_10201850275711718_677645523_nThe photo showed up in a Facebook post, like a squirrel unexpectedly popping out of a tree. It was a simple picture of a beautiful living room with a newly decorated Christmas tree. But it was more than that for me.

I once resided in that room, in that home, in that space. It is where my daughter and I lived when we first moved to Michigan.

A friend now lives in there and showers it with love. But in that simple photo, I could still see my family having Thanksgiving dinners and Golden Globe parties and fireworks-watching from the living room window.

I could still see my daughter chasing our dog, Lucy, through the large living room, dining room and kitchen, part of a home that still stands nearly 100 years after it was built.

I relived my daughter and me arriving home to a foyer of fluff that we followed to the living room where our dog, Lucy, who had obviously gotten bored, had chewed out the side of the sectional sofa.

I miss that room and that home like I do every home we’ve shared that has beautiful memories of every day moments, from baking cookies to doing homework.

I miss that space. I miss my daughter being 11 years old in it.

I miss watching her play with Lucy in the vacant lot that used to be next door, knowing she was safe and the doorman could get to her sooner than I could.

I miss her hamster experiment. She bred three generations of pets to study what traits were passed down from one to another to another. I told her that, in her room, they were hamsters. In my room, they were mice – and in danger.

I miss so much about that space. But I am so happy that my friend and the enormous love she shares with everyone every day are there now.

And from now on, my friend’s memories and mine will dance through the rooms and chase each other all around, mingling with memories from other residents through the years, decades of love getting to know each other.

Until the next memories come.