There are plenty of people who start a blog because they’re experts in something. Fashion. Cooking. Taking selfies of their impossibly perfect bedhead. Apparently, some others start blogging because they are are self-professed experts at life, (as detailed by their $1000 online courses about the path to fulfillment and ebooks on balancing your chakras by quitting your day job and traveling the world on $5 a day.)
They have perfectly manicured Instagram feeds, and perfectly manicured hands. I have never been one of those people, despite my best efforts.
In 2011, I started a humble blog, FrugalBeautiful.com because I was a graduate student who was living on $800 a month and was attempting to make sense of my 20’s when there were way too many options and not enough cash to afford any of them. I guess you could say that I was an expert at being broke and frustrated, so blogging seemed like my place.
For the last five years on a frugality site, I explored and floundered on just about everything- from boys, to fitness, to fashion. I changed my mind a dozen times about what to write about. I blogged my way through a wedding that was never to happen. I ran half marathons (very slowly with lots of walking in between.) I paid off my student loans. I explored everything in a frenzy.
In between the time Instagram got downloaded on my phone and Facebook became sentient, I got sucked into a feed of stimulus to consume, compete, and compare that was fed by an algorithm that was smarter than I was. I fell for it every time. Clicked. Liked. Winced. Repeated. There apparently were Joneses somewhere, I was keeping up with- but not with money (had none), but instead, with a frenzied need to run like hell in a marathon of comparison I hadn’t trained for.
Every time the bell rang, I salivated.
Then, after some time, I was 29, you know how it is, as time goes. My mom died unexpectedly. I had called off a wedding. I had been laid off from my job. I lost a loved one to Pancreatic cancer in dizzying speed. I fell in love all over again. We moved to Texas.
Life carries on, and sometimes it takes tears to clear your eyes and make sight of what’s important.
Suddenly, I was given a double whammy of a gift- to both have made it to 30 and a chance to start with a clean slate. What to do? It was a fresh new decade.
In the best way possible, I started to slow down (along with my metabolism, sigh) I started to realize that I no longer wanted to celebrate being busy anymore. The frenzied pace of my 20’s was getting tiresome. I also started to realize that while I will always be passionate about saving money and squeezing the value from a penny, there are two things that really matter-freedom of time and freedom of money.
Life is a constant tradeoff- we sacrifice our time to get more money. We spent our money to save time. Our time for money. Money for more time. Usually, one seems out of whack with the other.
I’m 30 now, and I’m done running a one-woman sprint on the rodent wheel of stressing about one while chasing the other, without intention or purpose. I’ve recognized that when I’m feeling terribly unfullfilled, I fitter away my time and my money, usually to buy stuff, which I have to sacrifice more time to earn more money to maintain.
Who else is tired of wandering from store to store in the shopping mall of life looking for fulfillment in someone else’s window?
At this age, I yearn to water deep roots. I want to feel community again. I want to play outside until the street lights come on. I realize that my quest for meaning may alienate me from the paths of others. I don’t want a traditional path, and I’ve started to quietly close the doors to gain focus and figure out what truly matters.
I think most of us strive to be everything, all at once.
We want to kick ass at our careers, find true love, then maintain it, cultivate an awesome friend/family circle, pay off our debts, save up for the future, stay in shape, have stellar wardrobes, go on Instagram worthy vacations, brunch- and of course, figure out the meaning of life, while still having time to check our Facebook feeds and see how well everyone else is seemingly doing it better than we are.
If we gauge the joy of our lives by social media, and measure ourselves in likes and shares, we find the joyless life where everyone else is better than us, and of course, in much better lighting.
The Wonder Luster, as a blog, is my journey into sorting it out, with the assurance that it’s okay to slow down and be deliberate about how you live your day to day. It is a practice in closing some doors, knowing they can surely be reopened later, but to meaningfully pursue a select few things that bring you joy, grow your skill sets and not get overwhelmed by the thousand notifications going off on our phones.
I’m building a bucket list, well, a Wonder List, of all the things that I want to explore and do. I’ve realized I can’t live scattered (though we all have to keep so many balls in the air at the same time) and I can’t write scattered. There is power in focus, intentionality and completion.
I will still be writing FrugalBeautiful– but this blog will be focused on things that really bring me joy, and of course- exploration. Every day is a new chance to explore, learn, water deep roots, cultivate connections and find meaning and wonder in life.
Let’s explore, together.