It's Good

25 Jun 2008


This time of year for me, like the week between Christmas and New Year , is a time for reflection and penny wise plans.

No matter how well I plan, three birthdays in a week is always expensive and add to that the regular bills that need to be paid at this time, the current almost daily price rises at the supermarket and the needs of children who seem to be forever growing out of clothes and there is plenty for me to reflect on.

When you are already living a frugal life, it is hard to see where you can trim off anymore excess. Sometimes it's not a matter of trying to find more money but of trying to find more ways to creatively avoid spending. This is something that Stephen excels in.

When various members of Stephen's family rang yesterday they seemed to be dismayed that he wasn't going to a restaurant for dinner or doing anything "exciting" with his day.
I have to say that this year he seemed to be the happiest he has been for a long time on his birthday. The reason I think is because he was doing exactly what he wanted to do and not worrying that he wasn't following the prescribed birthday scenario of our society.

The day began with some hushed last minute present wrapping, then while he sat beside the loungeroom fire that he had been trying to coax into action we entered the room with the presents and a lit candle singing happy birthday.
The gifts were simple but truly appreciated: a box of indulgent truffles from the chocolate shop, a book by his creative writing lecturer Gerald Murnane from all those years ago in Melbourne when Stephen was an idealistic young man trying to find out just what he wanted to be, some moisturiser with sunblock so that he stops stealing mine, some real beer shampoo soap that he so likes to use, a Cat Stevens DVD from the seventies and a perfect cardboard box containing a lemon and an apple to signify the fruit trees he is going to buy.
So something to feed body, soul, mind and something to grow for the future.


Breakfast was bacon and eggs , then the school run and home to start sorting the trailer load of timber a friend had given him, a mixed assortment of baltic pine lining, old cedar architraves, a couple of hearth surrounds and many weatherboards - a bonanza of goodies.

For lunch, not his usual sandwich or pasta but a big bowl of toasted muesli, he missed it at breakfast and couldn't go the day without it. My mum and dad called in to give him a gift, clothes and pyjamas, and have a chat.

After this he did a little more sorting and then replaced the slats on our bed with some of the timber. He built our bed many years ago from Tasmanian Myrtle and the slats that support the mattress had been attacked by borers.
Then he went off to collect Kate from Orchestra practice and while he was out went to the Salvage Centre to find something to use for curtain rods so I can finally hang the playroom curtains.
His mother thought he was mad - "couldn't you have splashed out on some new curtain rods" but he likes to support the recycling centre and thought he would find something sturdier there than if he bought something new. He has always been this way. It's not a trial for him to be creative and find new purposes for old things, it's what he has always done.

He worked outside until dark and then began taking phone calls from his family. For the first time he wasn't apologetic for the way he lives his life, he was just matter of fact.

We had a delicious dinner of all his favourites: steak, crispy potato, bacon and onion saute, broccoli and corn. A yummy very ripe brie with some wine. A sponge cake with masses of strawberry whipped cream.

We all spent the evening together, lots of talking, a little DVD watching.
He seemed to be very content and happy with his lot.

So back to my reflecting.

I think it's important to look at what you hope to achieve in your life and then look at what you have done and are doing.

Although life of course takes many twists and turns, it's interesting at this time of my life to see that we are living our lives the way we want to be, the decisions we have made , though sometimes seem completely out of the blue have helped to move us on to this place and this place is good.

We live a very family centred life, we try to live within our means, we try to live each day well doing our best and trusting that it is enough.
We try to live with integrity and to not take more than we need though the temptation is strong.
We try to love and enjoy all the many wonderful things we have been given and to see adversity as an opportunity to grow and learn and be grateful.
I love that Stephen , who comes from a family that seemed to instil the idea that what you are is never enough, has been able to slowly come to this place where he realises that he is living the good life and it is enough.
Striving is good but acceptance and revelling in all the joy that you have is good too.
Other good things grow from being grateful for what you have and life just gets better and better.

19 Responses to “It's Good”

  1. Hi Jenny :) What a lovely post! Belated wishes for a wonderful year to your Stephen. Love, Q

  2. I so enjoyed this post, Jenny! We have always had a special meal at home for birthdays, some gifts and family time together at home. We love it and still do the same thing with our now adult children.

  3. My husband had his birthday last week. There was no restaurant here. I pinata, teacake some magazines, his favourite cornchips & salsa and gingerbeer.

  4. It all sounds just perfect to me Jenny. A wonderful place to be both physically and mentally.

    cheers Lenny

  5. Sounds like the perfect birthday!
    It sounds so very thoughtful and wonderful!

  6. Dear Jenny;
    I am so glad that you have posted about this. Trying to live within ones means, not allowing our culture to dictate the how to live our lives - this in my opinion - is the good life :) Here in PA,USA, I am trying to do just that. With growing teenage boys, a little girl that is getting taller than her momma, well trying to be frugal is definately our way of life. Happy birthday to your husband! May he have many more fill with good health and lots of love :)
    Many blessings,

  7. Well said, all the way through!

    Happy Birth Days to everyone!

  8. Hi Jenny,
    Our children are allowed to invite one friend over for a sleep over and they pick what thay would like for dinner and of course there is birthday cake. Traditionally in the mornings the birthday child gets pride of place in between mum and dad in our bed and the others hand out the birthday gifts. A happy and cosy family orientated birthday. They love it and they are the ones who keep it going each year. Too cute.


  9. It sounds like a birthday my husband would also love--special meals at home and the opportunity to putter about the house are his idea of happiness. I grew up listening to Cat Stevens--I think I need to put one of his CDs on my Christmas list. I haven't heard those songs in many years!

  10. What a great post, and what a wonderful way to spend a birthday, just doing what you love to do!

    Christine from the NL

  11. Sounds so similar to what we do for birthdays, simple and uncomplicated, yet full of love. We lead a quiet, gentle life too, trusting God and rejoicing in His goodness and mercy to us every day...who could ask for more?

    Love, Tina :)

  12. Jenny,
    Enjoyed your post. You are so thoughful and I love to visit here. Birhtdays are special and no matter how old we get,we need to celebrate them. They are mile markers of how long God has allowed us to be a part of His great plan here. Happy Birthday to all in your household who celebrate one in the weeks ahead.

  13. It sounds like a perfect day Jenny. beautiful, quiet, reflections.

  14. This was a wonderful post. It's so hard sometimes to try to break from tradition on birthdays when you have family who really insist on taking you out to a nice restaurant. You don't want to seem ungrateful. They feel your feelings will be hurt if they don't do it for you, when in reality it's their feelings that are hurt.

    Anyway, it sounds like it was a wonderful day.

  15. A lovely post. Happy Birthday to Stephen and to your boys as well.

  16. Jenny, what a touching and meaningful post. That is what a birthday is, surrounded by family and feeling so loved. Money and posessions will never buy that. Thank you for your inspiring blog, it is the perfect way to start my day!

  17. Good evening Jenny
    Birthdays should always be just how the special birthday person wants their day to be. I recently had my 50th and some people thought it strange that I didn't want a big 'expensive' party. I was not in denial, just not a 'party'kind of person.
    May Stephen be blessed with many happy days in the years ahead.

  18. To me, it sounds like you made your husband's birthday a wonderful, special day. I don't like going out on birthdays either. I prefer a delicious homemade meal and an intimate company of family and close friends!

  19. Stephen is certainly rich in spirit. And in the family that is willing to nurture him. And in turn he give it back. May the rest of your days be as sweet.


Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I don't always have time to reply but I do read every message you leave.