Friday, November 19, 2010

Time to buckle down with grace and humility

Money hasn't been so good at the restaurant this past week. Former $100 a day tips have now dwindled to around $30 a day. We were told that the season would slow down which means that anyone making money from tourism will suffer some kind of loss. Ski season kicks off next week which is said to bring more people into town. Right now it is just too cold and not enough going on to entice people to visit. Locals who work in this economy year round are prepared for this. They know it is coming so I suppose that they set back money when it's real good in the summer as a cushion for the winter. Unfortunately for us and the timing of Riki getting this job we didn't have that knowledge or opportunity early enough so here we are....right before the holidays no less and remember how I promised to not be stressed out this year? Well, luckily I did go ahead and buy things for the kids already so I have that burden off my back. It is what it is. Our monthly expenses are minimal. It just means that we have to be very mindful of where any extra money more eating out or shopping exclusively at the local health food store either. I am determined to go through this gracefully and to be humbled by it. We found out last week that Riki has to work Thanksgiving and at first I thought I would feel sorry for myself because we are not used to a job where you have to work holidays....but then I thought about all of the people in retail who work holidays. I realized that there is nothing any more special about us than anybody else working those hours. You just suck it up and do it. I really appreciate the idea that suffering is universal. At first this sounds like an awful thing to say but there is a real sense of connection to humanity when you realize that your plight isn't unique or more important than anybody else's. It just is. Sure, the timing is awful. I was hoping to have some money to introduce us all to winter sports and that just may not happen. In some ways I like the challenge in the same way I like the challenge of trying to conserve energy and see just how far we can go with it or without it I should say.

I also realize how much better off we are in a small space with cheap rent in these circumstances. Ever since we've moved here I've been pining away for that earthship next door. I swear that it almost taunts me just to sit there, as if to say, "haha, you are living in that crummy little house when you could be living here." Oh, it is beautiful. It has plenty of space, the lovely fireplace, clawfoot bathtub, you name it... but the rent is over double what we pay now. Then I imagine how much more dire our finances could be if we were stuck in a house that was that much a month. I've never been big into the house poor thing. As much as I love a beautiful house like the next person I don't like the idea of being trapped in it, never able to go out to eat, travel, or spend a dime on anything else just so I can live in it. When I remind myself that I'm not a victim of circumstance and that I've made certain choices for a reason these weaknesses don't bother me as much.

I was also reminded of simplicity when we visited the Pueblo today. This was a field trip as a part of Ellery's Native American lesson block we are wrapping up. The Pueblo is unique in the fact that it is the only southwestern Pueblo structure that is still a working community where people actually live there and it is much like it was when built in the 1300's. It wasn't crowded due to the season and the cold but that made it even more enjoyable to visit with the people there. You can't actually go inside of any homes but many former ones were made into shops where you can get an idea of the scale of these living spaces. They really are small with low ceilings and small windows (to protect from early spanish invaders). They have two for living/sleeping and another for cooking. All of the little converted shops had their cozy fires inside with the intoxicating smell of pinon burning of course. Walls are falling apart here and there. Furniture is old and weathered. There is no electricity, only propane. We talked to one shop owner who showed us his lunch, beans in a can. Nevertheless, there is so much art and culture there. The people are friendly. It reminds me that we will all get by no matter what. We may not have our little luxuries but look at all of the beauty that surrounds us out here.

The Pueblo also has a Christmas eve event I would love to start as a new family tradition. There are bonfires, a huge procession where they carry the Virgin Mary (they are mostly converted to Catholicism with some of the old earth based symbolism), and it is said to be much like such a celebration hundreds of years ago here. That is just incredible to me coming from cities with crowded parades and holiday events which all center around shopping. In fact I was amazed to open the paper the other day and find that all of the black Friday sales here are craft fairs, lol. How cool is that?!

So maybe that is the lesson to learn from this. I said that I wanted simple, quiet, old fashioned holidays this year. Sometimes you get what you ask for.The challenge is of course how to maintain all of the frugality and simplicity in a predominantly commercialized culture. At least I can say that I can't think of a better "non commercial" environment to weather out the slow season and figure out how to manage it all. It will be a true test to the values I espouse but don't always entirely live up to, that's for sure.


S said...

The plus to working holidays, people always tip more! This post was great, I need to see this community your writing about. Your last post really inspired me to become more proactive in getting my own business going. Sometimes hearing someone else go through the same motions is all it takes to push forward. Good stuff, thanks for sharing!

Tammy said...

Hang in there... And I totally get your "universal suffering" idea. Not that we want others to be facing hard times...but just nice to know we aren't the ONLY ones facing hard times. There's comfort in that even though it sounds strange.

Hey, I wanted to let you know I had to make my blog private because of everything Eric is going through these days. If you email me at I'll send you an invitation.

Wendi said...

I just wanted to chime in with the other two posters. Your last post also inspired me to get moving with the shop I've been wanting for the past two years, and hard times just seem to be the theme lately.:o)

I actually like the changes I've seen in my children as we've pulled together to face these life challenges.

I also get the lusting for the amazing earthship I started drooling over the New Mexico earthships about 10 years ago. At least you made it out there! I've yet to see one in person.