Note: This post is not in any way a criticism of big box stores or those who shop there (I shop there). Rather it is a short essay on how my husband’s death affected my perspective in a variety of ways.

Youngest child: “Mom, this place overwhelms me.” Me: “Yes, it overwhelms me too.”

It had been months since my youngest and I had been to the local big box store. I chose to not renew my membership. Today, we went with another family member to buy a handful of things.

As I walked into the 100,000+ square foot room, I viewed it with a set of eyes I never had before. So much has changed in my world since I regularly shopped there.

Our family size is smaller. With my husband gone, we eat a completely different food menu. Now, the large quantities sold at the big box would never get used before expiration. Earlier this year, much to my embarrassment, I threw out a lot of outdated food. Food too old even for the food bank. However, I have been informed one can never have enough Nutella.

My husband enjoyed walking around the store, looking at the tools, appliances and sporting goods. I didn’t even go down those rows today. Lots of emotion there.

Our income is significantly less than before. I don’t have the financial resources to buy the “wants” I used to buy at the big box. I use my “wants” budget much more carefully now.

I had time to shop. I wasn’t employed full-time, so I could go check out the new things and go to “Sampleville” as our family calls it.

I live with less in my life. I am significantly downsizing, but not moving from my current home. I am fascinated by the Tiny House movement (but there is no way I am living in a 150 square foot home…). I have thrown out or given away so much stuff! But, I still have a ways to go. I am finding I am very happy living with less. I don’t have to remember where things are because I don’t have the items anymore! Today, I walked through the store thinking, “I am glad I don’t have to find a place to store that, or remember I own it.”

I wonder if my new eyes also come from my employment and those I work with. I work with poor and help them gain the tools to move out of poverty. Before my husband died and I went back to work, I felt I had a decent knowledge about poverty, but have found I really didn’t know. For the past two years, I have been working hard to have a better understanding, but come away with more questions than answers. Poverty is such a complex issue.

I have learned my new big box eyes aren’t eyes of guilt or judgment, rather, they are eyes of new perspective.