Surrounding Myself with Beauty, Because It's Important
My grandmother is in her late eighties and still uses Facebook. Her comments are sometimes cryptic and often off-base, bless her heart, but at least she's participating. The other day she commented on a photo, "Jess your life is filled with so much beauty." I laughed, thinking "if only you saw my house and self right now." Then I was looking through some old pictures and realized that she's right, and it's not unintentional.
We don't have beautiful stuff around us. We're very basic and family-friendly. We're not into fashion, beyond appreciating quality. We don't put an emphasis on being beautiful when we talk to our kids. Be clean, be appropriate, try and coordinate your clothes, keep your room tidy. That's it. But I do make an effort to surround us with beauty. I had never really thought about why until my grandmother made the comment.
It's one of the reasons that when we prioritize our duty station requests, "pretty" is in the top four requirements: 1. safe 2. good schools 3. affordable living 4. beautiful. And to be honest, sometimes #3 and #4 are interchangeable. Remember Boca? We brought the monthly income level down a couple notches in our neighborhood, but it.was.gorgeous. It's the reason we'd rather risk money being tighter here on Cape Cod so that we can live in this beautiful neighborhood vs. living on a military base.
Beautiful scenery feeds me—not in a superficial way, but in an "enjoying the small things" kind of way. We don't always have the time or money to go to fancy restaurants, we definitely don't have time or opportunity to vacation. When you live somewhere that's naturally beautiful and unique, all you have to do is walk out your door to feel pampered. Going to the beach for a picnic, walking around town, even sitting in your backyard can feel like a break from the ordinary.
When day-to-day life is so full of mundane work, serving our children, and making personal sacrifices for the good of our family, our environment is crucial to our personal happiness. It fuels our creativity, draws us outside, and inspires us to work hard. It also enables us to live simply. Chicago and Dallas are the least expensive places we've lived, but we spent more money in those places than anywhere else, because we had to for entertainment.
This is the only instance I can think of where pretty is genuinely important to me, pretty can assist in a more frugal lifestyle, and pretty trumps a lot of other, more practical things.