I just finished reading Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames (available at all major bookstores, but being frugal, I borrowed it from the library... of course!). This woman speaks my language. I honestly wasn't aware just how important frugality was to me until reading this. Through major portions of the book, I felt like she was reading my mind. This book is not really about spending less money: It's about living congruently. (Often, once we tap into that, we realize we don't need to spend as much money!). As a counselor and on a personal level, congruent living is a foundational belief.
Essentially, "Mrs. Frugalwoods" or "Mrs. FW" (as she refers to herself on her blog) and her husband worked in the city in cubicle-type jobs for several years before realizing it wasn't for them. It didn't represent their values. They started saving and upping their frugalness until they could purchase a homestead in rural Vermont, living off the land as much as possible, and eventually not needing to work but doing so because they enjoy it (my dream!). Mrs. FW is very open about her privilege--and I would like to acknowledge that, too. We aren't all born with the same deck of cards, and she is incredibly lucky, as am I. However, regardless of our deck of cards, there are many important lessons to be found in her words, with just as many tie-ins to mental health and overall wellness.
For me, I know I am happiest when I am connected to nature, to myself, and to loved ones. When I have community. When rock climbing. When I'm with my bees. When I'm lucky enough to accompany clients into deep healing. When I see myself clearly and see that my self is truly reflected in the way I live my life. It isn't when I'm spending lots of money, selling myself short, discounting my worth, or spending precious time on something I don't value.
Of course, this varies for each person, but I'm going to go ahead and state that most people spend money on things that don't really align with our values and goals on a shockingly regular basis--and our mental health and wellness would probably greatly benefit from some reflections on this, whether done alone, with friends, or with a counselor (like me!).
Here are a few questions to ponder:
A little self-disclosure: This book reminded me that I spend too much time on social media (can anyone relate?!) and not enough time writing and doing yoga. It also added fuel to the fire that I really want to invest into our one-acre piece of land so it becomes more of an ecotherapy paradise for humans and a sanctuary for my bees.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes from the book:
"In the city, our lives were divorced from the natural world. It didn't matter if it was snowing, or 95 degrees, or if blackberries were ripe somewhere--we were in our offices all day long, no matter what. Now we base our days around seasonality. Each month, each day, even, blesses us with the minutiae of seasonal imperatives." -Elizabeth Willard Thames
Regardless of if you have a "city job" or one that allows you work more seasonally, I think we can all work on tuning into nature more! (Or whatever values you want to see more of in your life--though my personal belief is that nature is something we all need... and science backs that up too.)
Happy reading, everyone!