This site is “Splendor in the Sticks” and I think it’s a good time to discuss that last word. All too often, it seems that ideas about self-care and everyday joys focus on what can be found in cities. Speaking strictly for myself, I enjoy visiting large cities – New York, London, and so on (and I have quite a few on my list to get to one of these days) – but here in my Second Act, I have made peace with the fact that my own personal pace is much slower. This site is all about living well outside of a metropolis and it’s actually quite easy to do – once you commit to that as a goal. You’ll find many posts here in the “Diva Dispatch” section devoted to the nuts and bolts of that (let me suggest that you start with the “Essentials” posts – just type that term into the search box), but this post is a one-stop refresher.
A FIVE-STEP PLAN TO ANSWER THE QUESTION “HOW CAN I LIVE WELL, ON A TIGHT BUDGET, IN A SMALL TOWN?”
First, seek out the unique. Every small town has something they take great pride in – I grew up in a barbecue destination town and a small street festival devoted to All Things Porcine eventually became a behemoth. Autumn is Festival Season where I live – just yesterday, my adopted hometown had an Apple Butter festival and uptown was taken over by music, pets, and the hometown delicacy known as livermush. It’s great fun to simply wander at these events – talk to other people, visit the vendors (I was drawn in by a chalked sign and discovered amazing crème brulée soap!), ask for samples and freebies. I had to pick up a tote bag (free, of course!) just to carry all the giveaways! Your “sticks” may be different, but I bet you can find just as much to do! (And if not, come visit mine!)
Second, find the library. Talk to the librarians – these Temples of Knowledge are staffed by people who love to read and who don’t care at all what you like to read; just THAT you like to read. They will move Heaven and Earth to get you the latest book in a series you love or help you find a new series to try. No, not every book in the library will be to your taste – it’s a PUBLIC library, not your personal library and that is perfectly okay. But libraries are SO MUCH MORE than books! There are craft groups, history groups, and many more that meet at the public library – this week, I’m attending a Dia de los Muertos event to commemorate my mother’s passing into the Great Mystery.
Third, spend time outside. My town doesn’t have enough sidewalks, but it does have a number of beautiful trails and a few hidden gems, including a historic cemetery. Not everyone enjoys walking through cemeteries, but I find them beautiful, peaceful spaces for contemplation. If you do not, spend time outside in other ways – volunteer at a community garden, plant some herbs on your patio, or simply park your car and walk your errands when you can. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, of course!
Fourth, find the place that caters to your likes. This may be a bakery or a delightful coffee shop with plump cushioned chairs. Maybe it’s a salon or a day spa where you try a new-to-you service. Maybe it’s a tea room with mouth-watering scones. It could be the best used record store. Or used bookstore. Or vintage market. You’ll know it when you find it and you’ll find it if you look for it.
Last, make yourself a priority. This is harder than it seems, so I suggest you review the “Diva Drills” under the “Resources” tab up above, especially if you think that there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that you can do any of this. Without that original commitment, nothing else will matter. As you become more comfortable with this Absolute Essential, you may find yourself enjoying slowing down a bit and taking the long way around sometimes. At least, I hope so.
Spread joy, Divas!