When I’m sad—especially the sadness that comes when my daughters aren’t with me—there are some things I like to do for comfort. I go to the Portland Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. I go to Whole Foods to get a small (ha!) chocolate ganache cake and a container full of fancy quinoa/kale/beans/wheatberries kinds of salads. I might buy a few oil pastels that I’ve been doing without.
The meat I buy at the farmers’ market is from animals that have lived relatively happy lives and were butchered on the humane side of slaughtering. I don’t pretend that harvesting meat from animals is anything but brutal, but the farther away from a factory killing site the better. In other words, the meat I buy is expensive.
As I was going through some of these “soothe myself” activities today, I thought about living without enough money but choosing to spend the little I have on things like expensive meat and chocolate cake.
Expensive: meat from animals that lived happy lives and were killed in small, local slaughterhouses.
Costly: purchasing meat that feels like I’m eating death and feces; teaching my children that industrial farming is fine and dandy and harmless.
Expensive: chocolate ganache cake, gourmet salads, and oil pastels.
Costly: dismissing my sadness as something I should make go away; pretending everything is okay.
As I learn to live within my very limited means, I won’t put aside my personal values. Most of the time, I find inexpensive alternatives to those things I might’ve done in the past. I download my audiobooks from the library, for example. Or I brew my own coffee or make my own gourmet salads with stuff I have on hand or growing in the garden. At times, making the more expensive choice is an investment in my quality of life. If it’s my upper-class upbringing that makes me think this way, so be it. Small pleasures or purchases consistent with my values –> contentment –> emotional strength –> less stress –> better choices (more sleep, for example) –> living mindfully and in the present moment = not only surviving but really living, full of gratitude and joy. Sometimes I choose the more expensive option because the alternative costs too much.