January 28, 2015

Living Well Spending Less {a review}

For years now, many online writers have shared a word for the year. It is a word which directs, describes, and determines a path for the year. I've had my share of word of the year as well. This year is no different, except that I haven't displayed my word for all to see yet. Truly, I am just not ready to do so. I can most assuredly say that my word has a lot to do with living well. Doesn't everyone's word? Isn't that what we all, on some level, hope to do? live well?

When I saw the title Living Well Spending Less on a listing of possible books to review, I immediately thought the timing couldn't be better. New year, new word, new you! So, I quickly nabbed a spot for review.

The Book
Divided into two main sections, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, by Ruth Soukup, attempts to tackle a broad spectrum of topics. However, the main premise of the book is defining the good life and showing readers how to live it without going broke in the process. Soukup intertwines personal life experience into the pages.

In the first section, Living Well, Soukup considers what the good life really is. She offers readers a shift from main stream cultural thinking to a more sound definition of a life lived well. Individual topics include contentment, goals, time management, and decluttering.

Spending Less, which is the second section, builds upon the foundational thoughts established in the first section. In this section, Soukup offers ideas to help readers spend less. Though there are numerous, specific money saving tips mentioned, this is not the main focus. Creating a mind set of frugality and stewardship is the point of the second section.

Each individual chapter, regardless of the section, begins with several related quotes or Bible verses and ends with action points to motivate readers to practice what was suggested in the chapter.

My Thoughts
The premise for the book is outstanding. Who doesn't want to live well and not break the bank at the same time? The delivery and set up of the ideas are perfect for modern readers. However, the ideas presented are not ground breaking or new. These are commonsense, practical tips that have been around for a very long time. Perhaps that is the beauty of the book? By taking what we all inherently know, Soukup presents it in a way which promotes our understanding and challenges us to action.

Ways to Use the Book
While a straight through reading is easily done, this book would lend itself well to a 12 week personal or small group challenge. The chapters are of an ideal length for such an undertaking, and the quotes, tips, and action points within each chapter could serve well as talking points for a small group.

What I Will Do with My Copy
Here's the bottom line: I liked the book. I would even recommend the book to others to read and use. However, I won't be keeping my copy. My bookshelf is limited to books I either love or books I will need to return to in the future. This book, while well done, doesn't fit either of those criteria. I'll be donating my copy to our church library for others to freely read. It is my hope that it will be a blessing to those who do.

~ Dorie

Fine Print: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

January 21, 2015

A Better Perspective

"Which store do you hate more?" My daughter is asking me right before I leave.

I pause, thinking, weighing the options.

Which do I hate more? She only used the word hate because she's heard it from me before.

Finally, I form an answer, "Whichever one I am going to at the time."

We share a laugh, and I leave to go to the grocery store.

Grocery shopping and I are not on good terms. I actually do hate the task and the stores. I have for years.

For awhile, my sweet husband took over the task. I'd make the list and he would go. But it became cumbersome when his work hours increased. When that happened, naturally, the chore became mine again. I did not embrace it. Instead, I complained. I still do.

It most certainly did not become any better this summer when I went to gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and peanut free eating. I complained even more. There was no silver lining in grocery shopping for me...until this past Tuesday.

I was off to the store, again. My bad attitude kept me company through 2/3 of the store.

Stooping down to the bottom shelf, I hauled spring water up into my cart. Three gallons of the four were situated in the cart when I overheard a couple of people talking.

"Yeah, I had no idea I needed to be lactose free and soy free," the elderly lady chuckled as she spoke. "Use to think it was my momma's cooking making me ill. Then, when I got older and married, I still spent half  my nights stooped over with stomach cramps."

"Oh, my," her comrade says.

I'm not sure I should interrupt and share my own food intolerance experience. It doesn't quite seem right. So, I don't. I move on.

Through the aisles I tread. Picking up items and crossing them off the list. I've forgotten the requested dip for a party we will host on Saturday. Actually, I can't find it. The store has rearranged and I haven't a clue where the new dip section is located. It isn't where I think it should be, so I keep scanning the dairy shelves.

Finally, utterly frustrated, I leave my piled high cart smack dab in the aisle and inspect the shelves closely. Behind me a gentleman sighs and heaves his own cart over to the side. He's speed shopping and narrowly misses the obstacle of my cart.

Oh, I'm being rude. The thought dawns on me. In my frustration, I selfishly dismissed all the other shoppers. And, this, realizing that other people are here in the store also is what strikes me. Instead of hating the task and the store, perhaps I should see it from a different perspective. Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't be gritting my teeth through the aisles. Maybe I should be smiling at the other shoppers and speaking to a few of them. It is something I do everywhere else. I talk to others at the library and post office. I smile and make polite conversations. Never at the grocery store though.

Entering the check out, I ponder the thought. Has my hate for grocery shopping really skewed my perspective that much?

My groceries rest on the belt awaiting the scanner. The cashier is now ready to wait on me. She comments on my box of hair color. I'm not sure it is really a compliment and my bad attitude wants to rise to the occasion. However, I remember my diary aisle rudeness and my perspective ponderings. It helps that the speed shopper has whisked his items through the self check out next to me. I swallow hard and smile, forcing myself to forget about my grocery shopping dislike and concentrate on the person before me.

We end up having a lengthy conversation about hair color, divorce, computer dating, and children. I did have a lot of groceries. So, we had time.

Leaving the store, I realize how much hating grocery shopping has affected my perspective and experience while in the grocery store. Not just my experience...all those who came in contact with my grumpy, bad attitude grocery shopping self. Was I a shining light of His love and grace? Certainly not.

Determined to have a better perspective next time,

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