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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The POWER of Do-It-Yourself

Good morning, gentle readers.  I know many of you right now are struggling to get back into routine with your families and may even be battling a little anxiety (maybe yours, maybe that of your children) about going back to school.  Of course, we home school so this is not a battle I have this morning. To help take your mind off it, this blog post has nothing to do with back to school.

This post is about why I bother to DIY.
Many times when I see an item I think I would like to have, instead of figuring out if our budget could allow me to buy it, I find myself examining the item to see if I could DIY it.
I often get eye rolls when I talk about DIY.  Once I got asked "Why do you have to do everything the hard way? Just buy it!" But I admit it is a comment I continually get from someone I love dearly that gets under my skin most often.  He says to me "It might only cost you $8 to make but you're forgetting to factor in what your time is worth.  What is your time really worth to you, dear?" But he's missing the point. And indeed I think many other people are too.  Those who dismiss DIY in favour of "buying it is just so much easier" or some other self justification.

There are three main reasons I DIY, but before I even start I want to be clear that the first two reasons I list are the minor reasons. The happy undeniable results of DIY. The last reason listed, that is the real truth.

This reason, and this reason alone is why I started DIY to begin with. Rewind six years to when That Guy and I had only been married a year. We had so many great events coming up with our friends and family and those events melted nicely into the Christmas season.  After buying cards, gifts, hostess gifts, shipping ect we quickly found out we were out of money before we were out of events and functions to attend. Enter the very first year of my DIY Christmas.
Where I used to budget a small $40-50 for every person on our Christmas gift list I moved to thinking about gifting to families and couples as a whole, rather than to each person.  That first year our gifts were simple. We gave bottles of wine we had put on at one of those "brew-your-own" establishments, a jar of homemade jam and a jar of pickled carrots. I tied it all up in a bow and added an inexpensive yet pretty Christmas ornament to the package and we were done.  I was floored that I could gift to a whole family for about $12 total rather than $50-200 (depending on how many people were in the family). This is what got me hooked and has kept me motivated. It kept me motivated long enough to keep trying new things to find new ways to stretch our dollars so we didn't have to give up attending great functions.

The cost savings also allowed us to enrich our lives other ways.  Still being DINKs (Double Income No Kids) we were suddenly able to afford to do things we never really thought of. Trips to parks or museums or wine tasting or festivals that we would have figured were out of our budget before.
Significant cost savings also allowed us to save for a down payment on our first home and begin the adoption process. (We had started the adoption process a few months before we found out we were pregnant with Walter.)

I was surprised at how good it felt to not always be giving my money away to large corporations.  Suddenly my eyes were opened.  I did not have to buy boxes of Christmas ornaments because the seasonal section of the big box store had them on display.  I could use the wedding bells place card holders left over from my friends wedding, spray painted gold and tied with a ribbon.  Suddenly I had almost 80 Christmas tree ornaments for mere pennies.
I did not have to be sure I could get to the grocery store before Walters baby food ran out.  I went to the farmers market and bought the fresh fruits and veggies That Guy and I would be eating int he coming week and made Walters bay food from that.
It was also a huge added bonus that I was able to develop personal relationships with the farmers that grew the food.  They knew me personally, but they also knew Walter and that I was turning their produce into baby food for him.  That kind of ownership and accountability goes a long way. As a side note, but in all seriousness, please support your local farmers!

Less and less I found that I was scheduling my non working life around when stores were open so I could buy things.  Instead, if I needed something I could just go home and make it. Even after 9pm when the stores were closed.  Leaving me daylight hours to enjoy my family and friends.

Sounds a little over blown, right? I promise its not.

I am sure I am not the only one, gentle readers, who struggles with self confidence, self image and even self worth.  I have held whispered conversations with dear and cherished friends about these monumental internal struggles and heard in response that they are often fighting the same battles.

On days when I feel like a failure because my body doesnt look like it did seven years ago. Or because I burned cookies. Or because I left the dinner dishes from last night until the morning. Or because I shouted at the children. Or because I spend so much time mentally beating myself up sometimes I hardly notice I'm doing it....  On those days (and I will be honest- those days happen more than they don't) it feels so good to tell myself I CAN.
To get an idea, see an item in a store or online and think "I can make that."
A few I CAN statements a week really help lift me up.  They help me to feel powerful and in control of my own life. They make me feel secure in my place in our family. That even though I don't make much money I am contributing.

Don't get me wrong. There are a ton of things I try that turn out to be total fails. Or things that I just cannot seem to get the hang of ( like knitting for example).  But even if I fail at my attempt I first had to try, which means I first told myself I could. I am totally convinced that telling myself I could do something is responsible for many many more of my successes than talent or skill ever will be.

My I CAN statements help me try again if a project turned out less than I had expected.
My I CAN statements have brought me into a world where I own and operate power tools, and a sewing machine. Both of which I had told myself I wasn't smart enough, or capable enough to use only six short years ago.
My I CAN statements have opened up a world where I use beeswax, essential oils and other such items that I secretly thought were just for extremists a few years ago.
My I CAN statements have me  living a life where I treat bug bites with baking soda paste instead of buying AfterBite for Kids (which is baking soda paste in a tube but a ton more expensive). This life has me using a spoonful of local honey to treat seasonal allergies in our home, rather than medications.  I use simple white vinegar for much of our household cleaning without worrying about our kids ever touching/ drinking it.

In closing, why do I have to do things the "hard" way? What is my time worth?  Its worth joy. Its worth living my life with my head held a little higher and my outlook a little brighter. DIY might not be a total game changer for you. But it might.

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