I hate to spend money. I’m like a squirrel hiding away acorns for the winter when it comes to money. My anxiety has me believe that at any moment’s notice, my world can come crashing down at my feet, that I am one mishap away from financial ruin. While sometimes this has been true in my life – most of the time, let’s be honest – living life like this is exhausting. Budgets, balancing checkbooks, the budget wall, constantly checking the bank account balance, scrutinizing every purchase, watching every penny that passes through the account … it’s enough to make even the most grounded person go insane.
But take me to a farmer’s market and watch as every last obsessive thought over the bank account balance evaporates from my mind. I absolutely adore those under their canopies, behind their tables, pushing their product. The love of what they do is apparent. Their smiles are infectious. And I can’t help but want to support their business, to appreciate their product as much as they do, and to enjoy donating my money to the small business.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of these “never box stores, you’re a big bully running small businesses out of town” type of people. I love me a Target run – man, do I love Target – but not as much as I love being at the farmer’s market. I love interacting with the maker’s themselves, to feel their pride, and to know that what I am purchasing is supporting someone who worked their ass off to get to where they are. And let’s be real – they have the life I wish I had. They are living their dream. And they seem so happy.
I live in an area where every weekend from April to October, there are farmer’s markets. I wish I lived in an area where I could go to a farmer’s market every weekend, but we’ll leave that for another day. Unfortunately, I also live in an area where the weather isn’t pleasant from April to October. And weather often dictates how I feel and how motivated I am to get out of the house. But today, the weather was perfect – the kind of weather that makes me wonder how I could ever be so sad, angsty, or just blah. It was 65 degrees with less than 45% humidity. The sun was shining, and the clouds in the sky were those fun, wispy white ones that leave plenty of blue to fall in love with.
Normally, I’d wait for Tyler to wake up and convince him to walk with me to the market. And it would be a battle because of his hip or back pain, or just because he is always so tired, or maybe because he wakes up paralyzed with anxiety. But last night, knowing the market was in the morning, Tyler encouraged me to take the morning for me – to enjoy some solitude, something I don’t do very often. And this morning, I debated. I had a serious pros and cons list going in my head, almost as though I was fearful to walk the three-quarters of a mile to the market by myself. But, as I took the dog for his morning walk, I convinced myself that I could do it – that I should do it, and that I would enjoy it.
When I tell you that I enjoyed it, I don’t just mean that it was pleasant. I mean that every atom in my body was smiling. The sun warmed my soul. The solitude along my walk was invigorating. I stopped to take pictures of pretty purple flowers (which I won’t even pretend to know what they are). I was at the market as it opened for the first time in years, and it felt like it was my personal private market, where vendors gathered simply for me to stroll through their space and admire their colorful vegetables and soft, luscious breads. I chatted with the vendors, learned more about who they are, played with the dogs of the few other shoppers, and enjoyed the most amazing chocolate croissant I have ever eaten. I was so stupidly happy that the joy I felt in my soul brought tears to my eyes as I pranced on home. I smiled at strangers, and for the first time in what seems like an eternity, I was at peace with myself.
I wish I felt this kind of energy every day of my life. I wish that I wasn’t at the mercy of anxiety, that it didn’t take me half an hour to convince myself that a walk to the market is good for my soul, or that I wasn’t so fearful of enjoying some solitude more often than not. But unfortunately, that’s not me. Unfortunately every decision I make will come with a pros and cons list and serious deliberation – even the small decisions. But maybe that’s what makes mornings like today all the more special. Perhaps I wouldn’t have enjoyed the hour and a half of solitude, my interactions at the market, or that chocolate croissant as much as I did if it came more naturally. Perhaps my anxiety forces me to be appreciative of these moments because I know they don’t come around very often, and I have to work so hard to get myself to a place where I can enjoy them.
As a side note, I did spend $26 on items that I could have purchased for $5 downstairs at the grocery store or made myself (coffee). And I did check the bank account balance before and after my trip to the market. And I am over-budget for discretionary spending this month. But you can’t put a price on that elation, the joy, and the pure love I felt this morning. Screw you, anxiety; I win today.