You all have likely heard the phrase “Work hard and play hard!” I must have misheard it when I first encountered it. For the past 50 years or so I have “Worked hard and then worked hard some more.” I was busy working as a nurse and raising my kids and taking care of the house. I thought that there wasn’t much playing going on. But now that I get enough rest every day, I can see that I did mange to sneak some fun in.
I did have fun blogging about cooking and living on the amount of food that Food Stamps would allot us. It brought out my creative nature. And I loved making homemade Halloween (and Latin Club) costumes for my kids. Bonus fun if I figured out how to do it on the cheap. That also brought out my creative nature. And I loved studying about voluntary simplicity and putting into practice the mindfulness of setting down the activities and objects that did not serve us and focusing our time and money on the things that did. That, too, brought out my creative nature.
It turns out, I am an artist, whose medium is a life lived in creative frugality. I feel most free when I figure out what is just enough (clothes, food, furniture, transportation, learning, community) and lean in. And then I want to share what I have learned, to help others find the freedom in “just enough.” The thing is, nobody else’s “just enough” will look like mine. We all have different personalities, responsibilities, creative natures. Just Enough by definition provides for our bodies, our emotional needs, our intellect and our spirit. It will reflect our unique ways of being in the world. It can be useful to study other people who are living their authentic natures, to get a reference for how it looks different than what our culture tells us to do. Our authentic self will not look like anyone else. We can find it by trying new things and seeing if they are fun or meaningful. We can become curious and playful. We can empty our calendars of the events we find irritating and boring. We can rest. And when we are refreshed, we can look around to see what work looks juicy; what play looks intriguing.
And those green toes? Part of the fun is the impermanence.