1. Cleaning a 2 1/2 bedroom apartment with a teeny closet-sized bathroom and a tiny closet-sized kitchen is so much easier than cleaning an entire house. When I mop, it takes about 5 seconds. When I vacuum, maybe 5 minutes for the entire house. Every time I want to complain about our circumstances, I remember cleaning my two-story house with three bathrooms and a basement, and I feel totally content for now.
2. Our kids are happy with less. When we go to the store, they still want things. I ask them if they have the money to buy it. They say no. I tell them I don't have it, either. They shrug and move on with life. No tantrums, no begging, no tears. It's lovely living in The Swamp!
3. I can live with less. I've learned this lesson over and over during the last decade, and I'm glad to learn it even more right now. Sure I want lots of new things, but do I need any new things? No.
4. My kids can be best friends. We don't have a lot of children living around us, and more often than not they just have to play together. They still argue enough that it drives me crazy sometimes, but I love to listen to them chatting in the next room, sharing ideas and dreams and toys. Seriously, as a mom, there's nothing that could make me happier!
5. We have to watch what we do and say. We have neighbors all around us who can hear us fighting or laughing or being crazy. We're still too noisy, and I'm sure we annoy the people next door and below us, but we're quieter now than we've ever been. And it's good for us, being more mindful of our actions.
6. Anywhere can be home. Sometimes the bugs (and spiderwebs that are everywhere!) start to get to me and I feel homesick for the dry West. Or the walk to the laundry room starts to feel too far away and I get homesick for my house and my washer and dryer. But if I had to move away tomorrow, I'd miss the abundance of flowers, the palm trees, and especially the amazing people we've met. But I know the next place we end up will feel like home, too, if I look for the good in it.
7. You can never see too many alligators. They are laying (or floating) around everywhere we go, but we still have to stop and stare for a while. And I've noticed everyone else around here does the same thing. The biggest thing I've learned since moving to The Swamp is that watching the Gator Boys on TV is as close as I want to get to wrestling with real alligators.
One year down, two to go!