refilling the well (inner thrift)

Welcome to Tuesdays with Chel.

photo by Hans-Peter Merten
photo by Hans-Peter Merten

Sometimes the concept of “thrift” unsettles me. I used to live next door to a woman who was quite comfortable financially, but she was so obsessed with living simply and saving money that she constantly deprived herself of the basic creature comforts. And she was desperately unhappy (my husband can attest to this). I’m *all* about self-discipline, but when we start short-changing ourselves to try and live “a simple life”, I think we might be giving up more than just the excess.

It seems like a very fine line sometimes. And I don’t want to encourage deprivation, because as someone who had an eating disorder way back when, I understand it a little more than I should. It’s powerful, toxic stuff. We can’t give fully to the world when we won’t give at least a little bit to ourselves.

So, I was a little stumped when I sat down to write about thrift. In desperation, I decided to check the definition of the word to see if it would spark something for me:

thrift (thrft)
1. Wise economy in the management of money and other resources; frugality.
2. Vigorous growth of living things, such as plants.

While reading that definition, the word “resource” stood out to me.

I love the word “resource”, to be honest. I grew up in the 1980’s, and resource was always connected to the phrase “natural resource”. And in the 80’s, the “natural resources” we had seemed unlimited, which is definitely a different philosophy than we have now in 2013.

“Resource” has always suggested something really rich and meaningful, something valuable and of tremendous use. (Something that is completely at odds with deprivation.)

And it never occurred to me that “thrift” and “resourcefulness” could be intertwined.

re·source·ful (r-sôrsfl, -srs-, -zôrs-, -zrs-)
Able to act effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.

As I write this, I’m kinda burned out. Not in a terrible way, just in a “zapped” kinda way. I know I’m not a lone- several of my friends have shared that there’s a lot going on, and while they are excited for spring, they are a little concerned that all the winter surviving might have taken more out of them than they have time to recover.

For me, I’m at the point where I know I need to sit back a little and take stock, re-evaluate some of the goals and plans I had at the beginning of the new year, and see what needs fixing before I head into the rest of the spring so I don’t totally burn out.

As I thought about this bit of burn out we all seem to be experiencing right now, I also started thinking about the idea of “resources” and “thrift”. And something occurred to me:

What if I look at the personal “resources” that I spend every day (time, energy, patience, etc.) as *finite* resources? What would happen if I was a little more “thrifty” with those resources, if I practiced “wise economy in the management” of those “resources”? Suppose I resolve to creatively and carefully draw upon my inner resources to sustain a sense of well-being and a balanced life?

The truth is, each of those things *are* limited. And from day to day, it’s different: some days I end up completely zapped of energy, other days I finish feeling like I’m all talked out, and other days I feel like I might never create again.

Would it change the frequency of the burn outs? Would I end the day feeling fulfilled rather than emptied?

Could I learn to “refill the well”, so to speak? Can I learn to replenish myself as I spend what I have to give with others?

I think it’s worth a try.

But how to go about this? I think it’s all about just a little more awareness. Whenever I’m close to my limit with anything, I get a pretty clear signal from my body or my mind or my heart that things are sort of tightening up. I think I need to pay more attention to *that* exact moment, and then immediately give myself the luxury of asking what could be done to alleviate the situation even a little bit. Or, at the very least, just gain a tiny bit more perspective on the situation so that next time it occurs, I am a little bit more aware and ready.

Like anything, this will take work and awareness. But I think it’s worth it.

How about you? Is there anything in your life you’d like to be a little more “thrifty” about? Your time, your creativity, your love? What do you feel you are constantly “tapped out” of? How can you refill your well?

Chel Micheline is a mixed-media artist, curator, writer, and avid gardener/reader/swimmer who lives in Southwest Florida with her husband and daughter. When Chel’s not making art or pondering the Bliss Habits, she’s blogging at (come say hi!) or posting new things in the gingerblue etsy shop.

7 thoughts on “refilling the well (inner thrift)

  1. Karen B says:

    For me it has to be about money. I’ve never been particularly thrify – or skilled in the art of money management, but this month has brought home that I can be when circumstances demand – and I’ve quite enjoyed eking (?) out what I have knowing that there really is nothing spare to top up! So I definitely think that this is a habit I’d like to develop – who knows, I might even end up being good with money!

    • For me I think it’s about time and multi-tasking. I’m realizing the choice to NOT do something is as powerful as the choice *to* to something. I don’t know if that makes any sense… I’m trying to be thrifty/resourceful when it comes to BOTH choices.

  2. I need to be more thrifty with the amount of time I spend on the computer. Thank you for the reminder to look for signals from our body. Many times, my shoulders are tense and I have a headache, but I stay on “for a little bit longer.” I need to learn to read these signals from my body as you suggest and get some fresh air and exercise.
    Signing off for awhile! 🙂

  3. Oh, I can relate to you feeling of burn out, Chel. Having just now been ill for some weeks, and on the heels of and intensely busy period of months basically… I feel kind of depleted. I’m on a good track for some goals I had in mind for this year. But I can see some room for some gentle rearrangement of things so I hopefully don’t burn out later! Having the flu just now, and in recovery, the enforced slowdown gave me time to consider where and how I use my energy and gifts. Quality of days is more what I’m tuning into to right now. Time away from the computer and all the usual things and work, gave me some great new perspective on what inner work I could be doing better. There’s only one us, we have to take care of ourselves!

    • That is such a beautiful idea- “quality of days”. What a GREAT concept. Looking a the entire day instead of how we spend the minutes and hours. You just changed my entire perspective of time, Tracy!! <3

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