I stared in disbelief as she handed me the change. Three nickels and a penny, along with the three dollars she had laid on the counter. The salesperson seemed a bit hesitant but continued to place the coins in my hand. She checked once more before she handed me the coins, assuring herself that is was correct. It was not.

‘These are nickels’ I stated. I wondered how she could confuse nickels for quarters.

‘Oh, I wondered why the coins were so small’ she stated to the manager as she came over to assist her. The older saleslady made some comment about credit cards. I guessed she had little experience with handling cash or had forgotten how the various coins looked.

After glancing at my receipt, I noticed she had rung up my purchase incorrectly as well. The item was entered as five dollars more than the price tag. The manager walked her through a return for the price difference which required my name, address, and phone number.

‘Are you kidding me?!’ I exclaimed. ‘Do you also need my date of birth and passport number’ I continued, but they pressed forward.

‘I apologise…but that is the procedure’ replied the manager.

Unbelievable, I thought, as I proceeded to reluctantly give her the information, providing her with my old address. When it came to my phone number, I refused to give it to them.

‘I’m not giving you my personal phone number’ I stated. They then used the store’s phone number instead and continued with the transaction.

All of this for getting a pair of sheer stockings I needed for work. I was getting tired of wearing my black tights and decided something lighter would be better for summer.

For a moment, I pondered this exchange and realised that we have come to rely so much on credit cards that we have forgotten the simplicity of cash. Of paying for things with money we had instead of delaying payment and placing our purchases on various credit cards. My own reliance on credit during these past three years has gotten me into so much debt that I see no end in sight. But change was necessary, I decided. Which is why I am returning to paying for most things in cash.

The return to simplicity came about recently as did my return to finding my way back to a path I had long since abandoned. The path to my life. These past three years have been a great challenge as I navigated through circumstances that most people do not even experience in one lifetime. Someone recently told me they would not go through everything I was dealing with ‘for all the gold in the world’.

Life certainly has its extremes but I realised this was too much. It was taking a toll not only on me but on my children. On our health and well-being. I also recently discovered that my children had previously dreaded coming over to my place but that now they were excited to do so. They were even looking forward to it. I understood why and chose not to expose them to further damage caused by circumstances in my own home. I also no longer wished to be exposed to them as well.

My children’s happiness is my priority and it starts by setting a good example. By taking control of my own life. My own happiness. It continues by taking that next step to change what has been wrong all this time. By taking responsibility of my own life. By making those difficult yet simple decisions. By realising that happiness comes from within and not from what you obtain. The return to simplicity is the start of my next journey. The journey down that path toward contentment and self-fulfillment without the drama, the stress, or the never ending conflict that obscures our way.