Tuesday, April 10, 2012


We all say we hate 'stuff' and want to de-clutter our lives. Why then do WalMart & Target have such huge businesses? C'mon... we all know we come out with purchases not on our shopping lists. Yesterday, I saw a family that bought nothing - zip, nada, zero, big goose egg - during the month of February. They watered down their milk (gasp - as if that isn't what 2% and skim are anyway), ate what they had, and walked everywhere so as not to buy gas. One of their daughters' sneakers came apart; she duck taped it and started a new trend at school.

Tomorrow, a moving truck arrives here with what we put into storage when we relocated from Oregon to Virginia. Most of you didn't even know us then, but we were told to pack only what we needed for the next 4 months. We were on temporary status through Jan. '08, or so we thought. When we moved to Canada in April '11, all that 'stuff' was still in storage... Although we picked through some of it, we actually added more when we left VA! I blame that on our small rental in Canada, but now I like "small". So... what comes tomorrow may well be A) a complete surprise to me, B) a little bit like Christmas, or, most likely, C) a lesson in frugality. I vote 'C' - your thoughts?

Why is it that we learn too late that we need very little in this life? My friend, Kathy, made this choice long ago when she wanted to free up money to pack Operation Christmas Child boxes. I've sort of grown into this attitude. I don't want more 'stuff'. I don't even like to shop anymore, unless it's for OCC boxes. I bought 14 stuffed animals and 12 bags of Smarties yesterday, and I'm already excited about building shoebox gifts around them.

When the truck drops off all these things we haven't seen, or apparently needed, I plan to have the Salvation Army ready to come pick-up donations. (Did I mention yesterday that they came on time and as promised? Speaking of integrity...)

I can't wait to have less 'stuff'. I'm thinking the boys are ready to give up all those Legos, and Michael & I don't need a thing beyond what we have. I'm liking this feeling...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Integrity - it's a lost art.

It's been months since I blogged, not out of a lack of thoughts but more so out of a time of thinking and reflecting. I'll blog soon about the house in Florida, the OCC team in Canada, and, yes, Jared's wedding to Rhiannon. They're all important, and many of you have been asking for details (and pictures). I'll get there, I promise.

Speaking of promises - I've been, as they say in Britain, gobsmacked* with the lack of integrity in business lately. For now, let's set aside the reason why we each feel called to represent well when we give our word. In business, where one would think competition would bring about good business standards, I've found just the opposite. Here are some examples:

1) Our neighbor tells us not to bother changing pool services because "they all stink". Sadly, our realtor said the same thing when I asked her for a referral.

2) Our Canada movers told me on a Friday night how to plan for Monday morning. Monday morning brought a completely different plan, with the promise that 'this plan' was correct. 4 changes and a week  later with no communication, the "customer service" rep. said, "Oh, my husband's in the military; I know how important it is to be kept up on changes...". Seriously? Yet she never thought to call me?

In the last 24 hours:

3) We made an appt. for a taxi. I called to make sure it went through, and they said they'd call "right back". An hour later, I called again, they took the info. over the phone and verified everything. This morning, they showed but changed the fare 'due to the price of gas'. I'm guessing fuel prices went up overnight...

4) At 8:45 am, I called about a delivery for today. The owner said he'd call me back within the hour. Still waiting on that call...

5) Our Virginia movers had a 'delivery window' of April 3-10th. This morning's email said they'll be here on the 11th. (Ummm...)

6) I scheduled a service appt. for today, and at 4:00, I called to see if they were still coming. They said they'd call me right back. (It's 6:05...)

What am I missing? I'm not complaining; really, I'm not, but we have made plans around what these businesses have told us. It's not only cost us time & money, but it shakes my eternal optimism just a tad. I like thinking the best of people. I want to encourage people and make them smile. I'm having a tough time with both right now...

Tomorrow's a new day. I'm hopeful.

*Gobsmacked combines the northern English and Scottish slang term gob, mouth, with the verb smack. It suggests the speaker is utterly astonished or astounded. It’s much stronger than just being surprised; it’s used for something that leaves you speechless, or otherwise stops you dead in your tracks. It suggests that something is as surprising as being suddenly hit in the face.