Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet the face behind Nans Common Sense: An interview with Georgina Kalwak

'A simple liver to me is someone who has mostly forsaken commercialism and lives more true to nature and replaces what they have used.''- Georgina Kalwak 

Georgina and her handsome husband

1. Describe yourself in 5 words
Compassionate, Industrious, Independent, Loyal, Frugal

2 Introduce us to your family
Well, my family is a blended one. Both my parents remarried when my brothers and I were young. This added 2 stepsisters and a stepbrother to the brood. I too now have a son who is 21 and a stepson who is almost 7. Because we have an extended family it brings certain challenges with it. One of those is financial. This is where the skills that both of my grandmothers taught our family comes into fruition. They both raised their families during the Depression. Times were tough and this lead to serious and necessary budgeting. It also made it easy to lay the ground work for the Nan's Common Cents blog and Facebook page. My mother and I both joke that we could squeeze blood from a penny if we had to - and can - due to those skills.

3. What do you see as your priorities? How does that play out in your life?
Again, my mother and I have a saying that we bounce back and force, “You only go around once – this ain’t no dress rehearsal.” I am blessed to have my health, a husband who loves me, a good relationship with my son, a career that has provided many challenges but pays the bills, and (hopefully) a fair share of common sense. Everything else spring boards from there. My priorities are always to help provide for my family, but now that my son is a young adult, there is more time to focus on my next career, which will begin in 2 years when I retire from the military. 

4. September’s challenge is going to focus on simple parenting. Do you have a tip on parenting an adult child? 
My son now being a young adult and him living on his own means most of my daily parenting is over. Our relationship is mostly defined by being more friends and as an on-call advisor, lol. If I look back over the last 20 years, I would have to say that there are some things I would do differently; things I am now trying to establish in our time together, such as being a better listener. Seeing my son as his own adult helps that to happen easier. We all tend to hold those memories of our children when they are younger and it's easy to remain seeing them that way. By seeing them as adults, their abilities and talents are more recognizable and appreciated. I also try to be supportive of his ideas and be that cheerleader that we all need sometimes. My son had a hard time in school growing up, so I guess some of it is trying to make sure he has more positive support as he makes his own way in the world. 

5. We have been considering the power of words in August. Would you like to comment on that? 
I think that there is a lot of both goodness and ugliness in the world and whatever brings, contentment, joy, peace and compassion is what we need more of in our day- to-day lives, especially concerning the words that we speak. I believe we are called to our talents and abilities and that each person should try to follow their heart in what they believe is the best path for them. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do that. In turn, that strength is there for an example for others to do the same in their lives. Words of encouragement are what women especially thrive on. That in and of itself is a powerful force that balances irreverence around us. 

6. Would you call yourself a simple liver? How does your life reflect that? 
A simple liver to me is someone who has mostly forsaken commercialism and lives more true to nature and replaces what they have used. A society such as the Amish defines that for me. Simple living is a personal goal, not so much an adjective. Do I strive for that? Yes, in many ways. Do I always meet that goal? Not nearly as much as I would like - it’s a never-ending pursuit of being mindful. What I’ve learned in my lifetime is to appreciate the blessings given to our family and to be mindful of other cultures and what can be learned from them. 

7. Who inspires you? Perhaps you could share with us who set you off on this path.
Both of my grandmothers, who have both passed now, continue to be my inspiration. They lived simple lives and had so much common sense and wisdom. Their core values will live on because, I now see my son using their wisdom in his life choices. It makes me both proud of him and proud of my family and that we all learned those invaluable skills early on in life. I guess you could call it our family legacy.

8. Do you have some favourite books you could share with us? 
To be honest, most of the books I read these days are simple living, frugal living and entrepreneurial in nature. It's almost become an obsession. Go ahead and ask my husband, lol.

9. What are you reading right now? 
I hate to say it, but as an adult my attention span isn't what it us to be, so I usually start several books at once. Lately, most are on home improvement or self-sustainment, frugal living or on how to be an entrepreneur.

10. What are you passionate about?
My first passion is budgeting. I am a list maker and tend to rework our budget from a variety of ways, always looking for an opportunity to pinch a penny or stretch a dollar. Secondly, I am passionate about bodywork. I retire from the military in 2 years and am starting massage therapy school this year. This will allow a clientele to grow by the end of my time in service. How the body works, especially during recovery from injury, has been a growing interest. Proper body movement and structural alignment is so important to well being.

10. What do you hope for? Dream of? 
This is a tough question to answer. On a smaller scale, I just hope to continue simplifying day-to-day life in any way that seems right for our family. There is a lot of peace in organizing and decluttering. It makes you appreciate what you really have and not just in terms of material possessions. Recently, time has become more important and the drive to not waste that asset is always on my mind. 

11. What can we learn from you? (Or if you prefer – what have you learnt?)
Wow, this is a humbling question. If I could pass one thing along, it would be to appreciate what time we have here on Earth. Life is precious and can be so fleeting, so we should live our lives with passion according to the gifts and talents that we have. God blessed us each with differences that are meant to inspire and uplift each other. To not use them takes away from the blessings for ourselves and others.

12. What is one of your biggest simple living challenges? 
I tend to go to extremes sometimes with our budget. We spend a lot at times, but we also save a lot too. When my husband and I married, we decided to stay out of debt and are now paying off our mortgage. As exciting as it is, it requires some discipline, so it's hard to sometimes balance that all out when you want to go to the stores to shop. That is probably the hardest thing - to NOT make shopping a hobby. It can get you into trouble if you don't have much control. Thank goodness I have a wonderful husband who is kind enough to remind me of our goals when needed.

13. You have a fantastic Facebook page. Would you like to share with us why you started that page and what your intentions are? 
Facebook is supposed to link to my blog and eventually link to the eBook that I'm writing. The topic for all three is just to try and inspire folks to find independence from debt and to have fun along the way. That can happen in many different ways and is a different path for each person. No one way is right or wrong. Facebook and blogging are fantastic ways to meet like-minded people like yourself, Asta. It's exciting to meet people around the world and learn of their ideas and passions. Everyone needs a fan club, right???

14. You are a valuable contributor of The Simply Living Challenge. What appeals to you about the page/ blog? How can we support you? 
The Simply Living Challenge is so inspirational. Just when I kind of think life is figured out a bit (silly, right?), a post will bring a perspective that blows me away. The most striking thing about your blog is the sincerity and genuineness of you and your contributors. Again, your passion for sharing this is humbling and inspires me to be a better writer/blogger.

Lovely words Georgina. Thank you!

15. Anything else you want to share? 
Just that living frugally and simply doesn't have to be hard. Some of the best times we've had was when we had the least money. It gets your creative juices flowing and brings your family closer. If you are trying to get out of debt, be patient with yourself and your situation. Debt doesn't usually happen overnight, so it takes as long to get out from under it. Find someone who inspires you and stick to your goals - you will get there.

I can't thank you enough for being so open and sharing with us, Georgina. Keep fighting the good fight! We love what you have to say. Can't wait to see what you come up with for our The Simply Living Challenge Manual. 

Asta x


  1. It's lovely to meet you, Georgina of Grandmotherly inspiration. I remember emotionally connecting to my late grandmother, Oma (dutch) in a whole new way when I was pregnant with my first child. While I was birthing my firstborn I experienced a sense of 'birthrite' and 'rite of passage' (labels I've since stuck on the experience to try and make sense of it)that connected me to my mother and Oma on another level. Since then I've taken my mother (living!) and a picture of my Oma to my birthing places - it's truly a blessing when a woman can sense that they've been invested in by their predecessors. I, too, value the legacy in 'penny pinching and dollar stretching' that my Oma's left me. Thanks for connecting that part of yourself with Asta's audience today. Catherine (still fighting anonymity).

    1. Oh Catherine you made me laugh - 'still fighting anonymity'. I have no idea why! I am sure you will overcome yet. You strike me as an overcomer.
      My grandmothers were also very instrumental in teaching me the value of all things simple and honest. I miss them, and yet they are with me in my lifestyle.
      Asta x

  2. Hi Georgina,
    I'm really pleased to meet the face behind Nan's Common Sense. I love the advice and great, simplifying ideas you post on Face Book.

    1. Thanks for leaving a message for our Nans, Paula. Yes - she is a source of real encouragement to me, and I know to many others also. - Asta x

  3. Thanks for introducing us to Nan's blog. I like her idea of decluttering the mind.

    1. Yes I agree about decluttering the mind Wendy. Certainly a key to peace. - Asta x