The big scheme of things

Posted September 19th, 2014 by Penny Wise

My last day in isolation, woohoo! I must be on the mend because I've been feeling bored and can't wait to get my money saving mojo back. I think the boys have been quite impressed with the dinners I've been managing to come up with during my convalescence; even the dogs and cats have been eating home made feasts like little kings and queens! However I feel this is largely to do with the fact I own no other books other than cook books so have simply been lazing around all day reading about food. If I had been able to leave the house to go to the shops I probably would have made ALL of Mimi's wonderful recipes this week! Do make sure you have a look at her blog as she has really been cooking up a storm and the recipes are all too good to miss!

I have to admit, it has been rather nice just to stop and smell the roses for a wee bit and spend a decent bit of time browsing the many avenues of Simple Savings. The great thing about SS land is that it is constantly moving and evolving - of course anyone who spends any time in the Forum knows this, we have our work cut out just trying to keep up! However I never realised how different we are to other money saving resources until this week. You see, as it turns out I know a lot about saving money. A LOT. Who knew?! Of course you can KNOW as much as you like about it; it will only actually do you any good if you USE it. If the success of saving money was based on knowledge alone I would be a millionaire by now; you have to practise what you preach and I have a lot of catching up to do after my misspent years enjoying comfortable income and complacency! But I never actually KNEW how much I knew. As a Simple Saver you kind of just assume it; all the tips we constantly share and add to our repertoire add up to a pretty decent amount over time and we know we have the edge over non-SS'ers. But in my recent days of inactivity and without books I found myself scouring the Internet for new money saving inspiration; stuff which would inspire me and I could add to my 'must try' list. And I found - nothing. I searched and searched but everything was either old information, pinched from somewhere else, had already been covered at least 50 times before or dare I say downright stuffy and boring. Horribly pompous it may sound but I literally knew EVERYTHING. Which in some ways is brilliant isn't it - I mean, I really shouldn't complain! But I wanted more. I was used to getting more, I wasn't used to knowing it all! So back to SS I went and immediately I felt right at home again. Next month I will have been a member for 10 whole years and I think that's pretty good that after a decade I can still jump in anywhere on the site and find something which motivates and inspires me. It doesn't matter if the tips are five years old or five minutes old, I am constantly still finding new things. Not to mention the people here are lovely!

Which brings me to a rather important point *Penny adopts serious face*. It has been brought to my attention that some of you wonderful, kind hearted adorable people have been wanting to help the boys and I out. The three of us are truly deeply touched, bless you all but our little household is just one of many in SS land and that is why I feel able to share as honestly as I do, because I know that we are not alone and there are a lot of others out there contending with everything we are and much, much more. They just choose not to ramble on about it the way I do! I can't stress enough that members really are already giving us all the support and encouragement the boys and I need; we are so lucky to have this special place. Remember too that if it wasn't for you all sharing your tips and advice and cheering us on, I would never have been in the position to raise two hulking great larrikins by myself AND have managed to hang onto our adorable Nawtypoo these past 18 months! Just like Dory says in 'Finding Nemo', we have to just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I hope that one day I will also be able to say or do something to help someone else on here the way so many of you have helped me but please, no more talk of donations! If you want to donate anything at all, send me your favourite frugal recipe, I can never have too many of those and they will help us for years to come! In exchange I must direct you to this wonderful recipe from one of my heroines, Chelsea Winter. I tried them on one of my first nights home from hospital and she isn't wrong when she says they are the best meatballs ever. They are epic and I didn't even have any red wine, fresh basil, thyme or tomato paste. Considering I didn't have much more to work with than beef stock and balsamic vinegar they turned out amazing and very frugal!

I'm not sure what this has to do with saving money, probably nothing but on the subject of 'there's always someone worse off than yourself' there are a couple of people I met in hospital last week who inspired me so much I really want to tell you about them. On my last night in hospital I ended up getting moved from isolation to a ward with two other women a good 30 years my senior. My throat was incredibly sore, I could hardly speak and to be honest the last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone, I was enjoying feeling sorry for myself in peace thank you very much! Fortunately at around 8.30pm I figured my two senior room mates, Robyn and Joyce would be pretty much ready for bed. How wrong I was. 'Welcome to the party!' grinned Robyn from across the room. 'We stay up late but don't mind us!' Joyce said, waving her magazine. 'You're going to love these two', smiled the nurse and proceeded to hook all three of us up to our various drips. Well, I have to say it was the latest I've stayed up in longer than I can remember, the three of us were having so much fun, chatting and laughing! They really were hilarious and funniest of all was that ALL of us were having trouble with our drip alarms going off every five seconds. Our room looked like a disco with all the flashing lights and the poor nurses were in and out so often we told them they may as well just hop onto the fourth unoccupied bed in the corner and take up residency! What a couple of hoots they were, with their wonderful cheeky sense of humour and a youthfulness which far belied their age. I didn't know until the next day that Robyn's hips and legs were full of steel or that she was in hospital because she had fallen and broken her back and lain on the floor for two days, unable to reach her alarm to call for help. I didn't know that all her family lived overseas or far away, that she was on her own and that her nearest neighbour is away for four months at a time. I did learn however that she lives less than half an hour from me so I have made a promise to myself to go and visit her.

As for Joyce, what a wee pocket rocket she was! This tiny lady was so full of laughter and kindness. But she was fragile; so fragile her bones could literally break with the slightest movement. The day I was allowed home she was also discharged and while she was happy to be going home, she was really scared and I was scared for her. Why was she being allowed home on her own when she was unsteady on her feet and unable to do so many things for herself? She only lived half an hour from me in the other direction and if I hadn't been stuck in home isolation for a week I would have been on her doorstep checking up on her. My boys and me might make a bit of a rickety team sometimes but I felt so grateful to be going home to them; both these lovely ladies had so much more to contend with than I did, yet were going home on their own.

And then there was the Purple Plum. I have a feeling I'll be introducing you to her properly one day! Her real name is Maree and it was Joyce who introduced me to her the next morning when she burst onto our ward. I would estimate Maree as being around my age but the huge smile on her face and twinkle in her eye could make her look anything up to 20 years younger. Like all of the health care assistants she was bright and breezy and compassionate but Maree was really larger than life and rather than just passing through or ducking in and out, she always took the time to sit and chat with the patients for a couple of minutes and impart some little story or joke to make them laugh. 'This one is such a ray of sunshine you know', Joyce told me. 'Always full of the joys and got a smile on her face!' she nodded to Maree. 'Ah well, I never used to be like that you know', Maree replied. 'I used to be so shy, I never spoke to a soul! Then I got bowel cancer a few years ago. I beat it and decided I wanted to give something back. I wanted to cheer people up who were sick and in pain and make them smile so I quit my job as a chef and spent the next five years training as a health care assistant. Guess you could say I went from a shrinking violet to a Purple Plum!' she roared with laughter, gesturing to her bright purple uniform. Who would have guessed? Talking to Maree continued to be fascinating as she shared how when she was younger she bought a tumbledown miner's cottage. Everyone thought she was mad but bit by bit she saved and did it up on the cheap. Four months ago she married her Prince Charming. She sold her tiny house and the two of them now live in their dream house in the bush among the wildlife. Every morning she still wakes up and pinches herself at her good fortune and then heads off to work to spend her day making others happy.

So many wonderful people to cross my path in just a few short days and all of them have dealt and continue to deal with far greater challenges than me but nothing has made me count my blessings more than this heart wrenching post from another young mum who coincidentally also had bowel cancer but sadly was not as fortunate as Maree:

And So There Must Come an End

I warn you, it is incredibly sad to read but it is worth it. It is possibly the best piece of writing I have ever read and is a wonderful reminder that in the big scheme of things, many of life's trials are both manageable and temporary. I might even print it off and stick up somewhere to remind me how lucky I am next time I feel the slightest bit sorry for myself. And on Monday I shall jump out of bed and attack this money saving lark and life in general with even more renewed vigour; just watch me!

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