I’m Back…

Using these words of Randy Quaid’s drunken pilot character from the movie Independence Day, I am proud to announce the return of the Frugal Fam blog. As those of you closest to me know the past six weeks have been strife with anxiety and stress regarding the health of my daughter. While we do not have all the answers as of yet, we are on the road.

The Frugal Fam
The Frugal Fam

Life has not returned to normal (is there really such a thing?) for our family. I am still behind on several projects and barely staying above water on others. Emily’s toy room is a total and complete mess. But the most important indicator, my moral compass, is once again pointing to its true north. Even through the clutter and deadlines, I am beginning to once again feel the happiness and strength brought by my family and friends.

So what I have been up to the past six weeks, you may wonder:

I have re-discovered an old flame…the Stephen Covey books including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The 8th Habit and First Things First. They have helped me to evaluate the projects I am involved in and where my priorities lie. They have also helped me to realise that nothing matters more at this time than my daughter’s health. So on the days I felt guilty for not blogging, it reminded me that for everything there is a season and then was hers. Although very popular in the US for over twenty years, I have discovered that few people in the UK are aware of the leadership, time management and wisdom books. But I highly recommend them, especially if you are facing a drastic change in your life perhaps brought on by these trying economic times.

I have continued to garden. My patio looks more and more like a jungle with an assortment of buckets and even an old sand pit that has been converted to a planter. But by far my proudest accomplishment in these area is working with other residents, the Islington council and our estate managers to begin a garden club on the estate and to start a community garden. Although I was not sure what type of response we would get to such a radical idea on a council estate (for my American readers think projects), it has been absolutely amazing. We have such a skilled and diverse group including a former farmer from Zimbabwe, an environmental advocate from another borough and a Jamaican gentleman, who possess a green thumb. Although still in the planning stages, I feel that this project may be one of my proudest accomplishments as a community organiser/volunteer.

I am also working to put together an e-course to help small charities improve their organisational development and fundraising. Although I could no longer consider working full-time as a result of my daughter’s health, I continue to run into small organisations such as her nursery, my community garden and many others, who lack the skills to attract and maintain the funding necessary to provide the quality services their constituency needs. Over the past four years, I have served as a consultant to many such groups. The difficulty is that often the organisations that need this help the most can ill afford the fees of a consultant (even if they are reasonably priced for the industry). The other problem is that the work always turns out to be much more complicated than I expected because the organisations lack even the most basic understanding of management and fundraising such as proper budgeting or the importance of a clear mission statement. This course hopes to help even the smallest charities to develop those basic skills so that they can grow and thrive…even in this challenging economic climate.

I will be sharing other little things that I have been up to, such as changing our family’s habit to include air drying rather than the burning precious resources on a gas dryer. AND we have managed to hit my goal of reducing our weekly shopping bill to below seventy pounds for almost the past month. This week we even were below sixty pounds…an amazing accomplishment for us. I will be sharing how we did that as well.

I hope all of you are as happy to have me back as I am to be back. I look forward to an exciting blog this week.

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