Winter arrived the day after Christmas, just in time to transform the walk I like to take whenever I visit my dad and step-mom.
My week spending time with family for the holidays was lovely and relaxing and unfolded just as I hoped it would, being present to the moment and the people. I took a break from the computer, hardly going online at all. I also made sure to find time for yoga, going out for walks and curling up on the couch reading.
Seasonally appropriate, my holiday reading is The Long Winter. (You can read more about the events of the long winter here. You can bet I won't complain about winter weather after reading this!) I'm also thoroughly enjoying The Wilder Life. If you're a fan of the Little House books, you'll want to get this one out of the library.
So another year winds down and the new one is rung in. I'm not insistent about making resolutions. Some years I make 'em, sometimes I don't. In 2008 I made a big one and it utterly changed my life. That was enough for a while. This year however, I feel the need to have a guiding theme to carry me through the coming months. I have some big changes planned for 2012. I'll be leaving my job at the end of the summer, and moving out of my basement apartment sometime this year, in search of above-ground living. And I'll be taking a train to this event in September that I am crazy excited about.
In light of all this, what feels important to me now is a return to and refocus on frugality. It's a value very important to me, but one that I feel I have lost sight of lately. I don't spend excessively and I'm still debt free, but my savings account growth is crawling along at a snail's pace, and I want to change that.
My weaknesses are books on herbalism and permaculture and garden items like seeds and tools. I justify these expenses as contributing to my larger goals, but the reality is they still put a dent in the pocketbook and I could live without them. I buy these things because I want them, not because I actually need them.
So I have resolved that it is time to rein my spending in again and be very intentional about my budget. It's time to trim the fat and so 2012 will be a year of frugality for me. But this isn't going to be an exercise in privation or hair-shirt asceticism. Nor is the point to become a miserly curmudgeon. My yearly donations have dropped this year, because I have been spending more in other areas. When I spend less, I have more to share with the causes I believe in and want to support. If there is one thing I've learned in the last few years, it is that great abundance can be found when you pare things down to essentials, and this will be my aim. I plan to strive for a kind of frugal abundance.
A while back, the ADG brought me a very used copy of Warren Johnson's 1978 book Muddling Toward Frugality. I never got around to reading it at the time. I think it's time to pick it up and have a look through it now.
In the first chapter he writes that, "the origins of the word frugality in Latin are frugalior, meaning useful or worthy, and frux, meaning fruitful or productive. These meanings give the word a nice feeling, but unfortunately, the word has changed over the years, and has come to mean thriftiness, the abstention from luxury and lavishness. In this book, the word will be used in its original meaning-...to make full and 'fruitful' use of all [one's] resources."
Yes. I like that. It sounds like a good place to start.