A holiday challenge out of turn

Ok so my husband read my last post and really liked it. He casually asked me, like I tell most of my young clients, if I am willing to tone down my holiday preparations money wise and still keep the fun? I was unsure if I am willing to accept the challenge as I have always been a careful person who budgets for everything from buying a Gucci bag to the smallest item on my grocery list. I was not willing to tone down this year also because I have saved comfortably for the party and the gifts and the biggest reason; I have a new one waiting to arrive anytime and its celebration time! The inner Aries in me refused to give up on this challenge. So changing plans meant changing the following :

  • A new Christmas tree and decoration– I had planned to buy a brand new Christmas Tree with white snow flakes this year, as I got bored with old one and already chosen my decorations from ‘Home Sense’. The challenge meant that I shelve all these plans and still not feel bad about it. I rushed to my basement and stripped my old Christmas tree of all its old decorations. My next destination was taking a u-turn,into the dollar shop. I was pleasantly surprised to see the decoration items they had. Instead of picking my all time favorite red, green and white.I picked up all purple. I went overboard with even buying the wreaths from there. After my shopathon I apprehensively turned to the cash register and waited for the cashier to tell me the golden figure. “Its $22”, she said and voila! I won this one. My Christmas Tree looks more than perfect now with those purple decor’s hanging in there and I cant even tell its my old one.
  • Gifts from ‘The Bay’– I have always shopped from here. I know I know its expensive.But I budgeted for it. I just loved the moment when I handed over the white ‘The Bay’ bags and loved the shine in my friends eyes. I always thought that if I get them something less than that, it might look bad for my image or they may think I am in some kind of crunch whenI am not (I wish I knew earlier, I was soooo wrong).  Ok, so now I had to forget this. Instead I went to Ikea and bought some wooden picture frames $7 each and printed a  picture with a personalized message. I was a meeting a friend over for lunch as she will be away for the holidays so I had to give this gift before she left. After a banana loaf and coffee at the cozy Starbucks it was time for the gift. I slyly took out the gift and waited for her phone call.The call didn’t come the same evening. This morning I got a call from her and it looked she was emotional after reading my personalized message on the picture I framed for her.Her words “Best gift ever” and I knew she meant it as she has always spoken her mind. The AHA moment. I was all this while underestimating my relationships. I get the hint. I was wrong all this while.
  • Gifts for little ones– So, I thought of spending at least $50 on each kid, a total of four kids (one including mine). ‘Toysrus’ my one stop destination. Alas! I had to give it a miss. My Plan B,I had bought the jazziest gift bags from dollar shop and filled it with lots of goodies like chocolates, crayons, play doughs, star wars figurines, Cars2 toys etc etc etc. My grand total for a pack of 4, $36. What?????? I cant believe the bill. I bought 5 bags and gave one as an experiment to my 3 year old son and he cant get over the variety of things he found in the goodie bag. I must say my challenge was turning out to be pretty satisfying.
  • Crib and clothes for the new baby–  I do not know why but I wanted to buy $300 crib from Sears for the new one. But keeping the new challenge in mind I had to hem my aspirations for this one too. The old crib I had given away so I had less options and time even less. For the first time I browsed through sites like Kjiji and found the best deals. A new mother was giving a great deal on a brown almost new crib for just half of the price of the new one. She also had some great deals on baby clothes she had hardly used. I made up my mind, that I will be honest and even try buying those clothes (One thing I had never done). It felt awkward to go and pick it up as she might be thinking I cant afford a new one (she didn’t know I as under a challenge), but I still did pick it up. After the crib has sat in the nursery for almost 2 days, I really cant stop thinking about how my thoughts really did not let me explore any new and more economical options.I cold have saved even more! It does not matter, where I got the crib from, what matters is who will sleep in it! What a learning experience.
  • Gifts for me – I have always been a person who loved to give gifts it gave me a lot of satisfaction. So I still had few people who were good candidates for my gifts.It is tough to skip them. But for the first time I am going to not only skip gifts for them but I will expect gifts.

I do have some handful challenges to meet but I have overcome the biggest ones. The money I planned to spend on the above is still sitting pretty in my savings account. Apart from having saved even more money, what I realized was what we lack in our lives, we often fulfill it by spending money on it that is even more bubble reputed. The challenge has become priceless for me.I am more self assured and confident. I am not worrying about my image, I am getting more real.Extra money never hurt anyone.I am certainly loving it !

Tra ! la! la! la! la! la! la!

When I cant stand myself !

Year 2007 : This is when I had attended an office training at Cornell University. On the last day of the training there was a networking high tea session that included some professors from Cornell, thinkers and some more dignitaries. Suddenly I overheard a gentleman talking to our team manager, the guy was introduced to my group as a lawyer from Yale and a management graduate from Kelloggs was soft spoken. They were discussing about how is it important to move vertical professionally and how the reviews they write can be a tool for their superiors to judge them.To this the courtly lawyer replied “It is important to be totally unaffected by the personal grudges and think objectively and that is quite an art.This art helps you think like a leader and not like a manager. This art segregates you from your peers and also evolves you as a human being. This art gives you an inner strength that your mere presence is enough to vouch something.This art also helps you when you know that you cant stand yourself because of your thoughts.You can only master this art by writing down your thoughts as they come about someone or some incidence.When you are done…the sequence will tell you how negative you can be..or how irritating you can be..and then you wont have to try improving, it will be done automatically .Writing helps because we get so accustomed to our thoughts that we lose awareness of them.” I didn’t pay heed to that piece as I had an interesting life to look forward to and pondering was the last thing on my mind.And I was busy discussing that how inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional marketing. And I was young and furious.Plus, I thought that I was too occupied and thought that I had no time for this self-help high thinker (there are plenty in this world).

Year 2011: Now that I am settled in my life in every way. I did an exercise. That I will try few things that I thought were way out of my league but were decent enough, before I scrap them and label them as useless habits. First was to try an exercise that I scrapped in Year 2007 by this self obsessed lawyer whom I thought as another aspiring self help Guru. I kind off weigh against Self help gurus, I believe in my own learning. So I have been putting off this from a long time due to my work;due to thinking that this is absolutely useless; this was an advice from a useless man that I have forgotten about..blah blah!But then I gave it a try because I was absolutely free. This was a good time to do this.I wrote down my every thought from my first yawn till my last yawn. At night I looked at that small piece of paper and guess what a revelation!!Vola! I am a weird person. I am a much better person at the end of the day. I am putting down some high points of my mental scribbler…

7:30 am – “this is a weird alarm tone..I need to change it”

8:30 am- “I hate to have this breakfast”

11:30 am- “I cant be having such fried stuff”

1:00 pm- “Someday I will give it back to him in words more harsh”

4:00 pm- “Susan(name changed)..is so selfish..I am cutting down any communication”.

5:00 pm- “I am tired..I cant excercise…I want to hog on food”

5:20 pm- “Cummon..hog on food ASAP”.

5:30 pm (after recieving a coffee offer from Susan) – “Susan is such a sweet girl”.
8:30 pm- “Yuck yuck I hate this soup”

10:00 pm- “I am going for a jog tomorrow”

11:00 pm- “uhhh…I guess I like the alarm tone”

This was my first attempt and since then I try to do it every Friday and fail off course. I ave attempted this twice and I really realize that after writing  my thoughts, I really took control of somethings and actually created my own reality. I don’t do it very often but this exercise acts as a flying squad for my thoughts..I monitor myself, read it and show it to my hubby…Its a surprise that this list ignites conversations over cuppa coffee, instills smiles and also makes for a good laugh that we share because I am so weird at times like all of you…try it…worth a try once…I know we don’t have time for this all the time but trying it just once will open some doors..somewhere deep in heart. This also helps to see that there are times that I cant stand myself.

NOTE: And by the way that gentleman lawyer whom I discarded as a high thinker and someone who has no struggles in life and will just give advice because he has nothing else to do…is now in the advisory board of President of US. And I am ashamed of myself  secretly(giggles) !!!