The other day, my husband caught me darning my underwear. The pair had a hole near my hip. They’re a few years old, so I had thought about tossing them, but pulled out my needle and thread instead.
This frugality runs in my blood. My mom grew up poor, her mother was a child of the Depression, and I, an anxious child who didn’t much like shopping anyway, learned from both.
Mom would cut the rot off strawberries and serve the good parts. She faithfully reused plastic bags and containers (once, my birthday cake, stored for a few hours, tasted of detergent, because the bag she put it in had previously lived in the laundry room). We were pretty well off, but our sound system and TV stayed old.
Simplicity, then, comes naturally to me. But for a very long time, it did not feel like a blessing.
So I tried to do with less. I bought my clothes on sale, and always felt a little anxious about shopping at all. Always put off haircuts, and always felt a little shabby. I thought I had to pursue any practice where I’d save more, spend less, and do with less rigidly. That if I did not cut corners, I was lazy, profligate, and ungrateful.
It was as if I were trying to make all my needs disappear.
My life did not feel spacious. I worried about my stinginess—both towards myself and towards other people. I knew very well how to say no to myself. And I was honestly a little tired of it.
And then, a few years ago, I started focusing on saying yes. I called them little yeses at the time: small choices to choose joy, and use my gifts, and be present.
As part of the process, I thought a lot about what yeses to say. What made my heart joyful? What brought a little bit of beauty into my life?
Those intentional choices transformed my life.
I’m at The Mudroom, talking about how, to my surprise, frugality can become a blessing. Won’t you join me there?