Finding Peace In The Present Moment

Our airport snack food. Whole lot cheaper to bring our own!

Our airport snack food. Whole lot cheaper to bring our own!

No one wants to be in an airport. It’s a place of transition and flux and it’s not a final destination. Being in an airport means you’re in process towards something. You haven’t arrived anywhere yet.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I spent almost 8 hours at Chicago O’Hare airport last Thursday waiting for my parents’ flight to land. The quick logistical background is that the cheapest flight from Boston to Chicago arrived at 9am and my parents’ flight from San Diego didn’t arrive until 5pm. We were hitching a ride with them in their rental car to Rockford, IL (1.5 hours away) for my cousin’s wedding and figured it would be easiest to wait for them in the airport.

We had plenty of work to do and ample free internet–not to mention our brown bag frugal weirdo snacks of homemade peanut butter sandwiches, almonds, bananas, and a waterbottle–so we didn’t mind it one bit. But, it was a day spent in an entirely impermanent place.

Impatience With The Present

Being in airport for a full day caused me to reflect on the ways in which we handle transitionary times in our lives. In many ways, we’re constantly in progress. Life is an unending succession of waiting for the next big thing to happen. But I dislike feeling as though I’m hoping for time to elapse. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I know I do it all the same.

In the airport of our lives

In the airport of our lives

Mr. FW and I are in a sort of holding pattern at the moment, anticipating a number of major life changes to be wrought. Our first baby is due in five weeks, and in a few short years our ultimate goal will come to fruition: we’ll both quit our jobs and move to a homestead in the woods. For the moment, however, none of this has come to pass.

At times, we’ve both felt frustration with the fact that we’re merely working towards these dreams and haven’t attained them yet. We’ve set up Babywoods’ nursery, installed her carseat, researched infant care, picked out a name, and tried to prepare Frugal Hound as best as one can prepare a dog for the impending arrival of a tiny human. But she’s not here yet.

Similarly, we talk about our homestead daily, I write about our homestead often, we look at homestead properties with regularity, we research homesteading, and we make plans and decisions in the present that’ll yield this future lifestyle. But we’re not there yet. We’re in the proverbial airport of our lives right now.

The Peace Of Living In The Present

Fully embracing each moment

Fully embracing each moment

In my (free) yoga class the other day, I had a moment of realization. My fellow yogis and I were dutifully crouched in chair pose, which as you might’ve guessed, entails bending one’s legs to resemble sitting in chair–minus the support of an actual chair. Needless to say, this is a fairly uncomfortable position since your thighs are essentially parallel with the ground and your arms are stretched above your head. Not exactly a posture you want to be in for the long term. In other words, it’s a transitional pose. But on this particular day, the teacher had us hold chair pose for what felt like 5 minutes (it was probably more like 1 minute).

As we did so, she asked us to embrace the sensations we were having. She didn’t advise that we think ahead to after class, or even to the next posture. Instead, she calmly instructed us to honestly feel the emotions and pain of the pose. To breath into the burning, to be OK with the sweat dripping down our noses, to be thankful that our bodies were strong enough to support us, and that our minds were clear enough to allow us to persevere. She told us to close our eyes and simply be present in the moment of the posture. To fully submit to it and ultimately, to accept it and be grateful for its role in getting us where we were headed.

My aunt and uncle's lake view from their home. A good spot to reflect on the present.

My aunt and uncle’s lake view. A good spot to reflect on the present.

Soon enough, we moved out of chair pose and the temporary discomfort was forgotten. But what stayed with me is this idea of breathing completely into the present and living it wholly and without reservation.

Rather than constantly looking ahead and planning for what’s next, can we find peace and acceptance in the imperfect present moment, regardless of how far away we are from our ultimate goal?

Our financial independence goal, like all financial aspirations, will be achieved slowly over time. No one decides to reach financial independence, or become debt free, or buy a house and then immediately has it happen. Rather, these lofty objectives are realized slowly and through ongoing perseverance. For most of us, it takes years of sound decision-making to bring about such large changes. But playing this long, slow game is what renders the greatest happiness. Frittering away our money every month might bring us temporary excitement, but it would prevent us from achieving the monumental ambitions that’ll bring us lifelong gratification. A challenging goal is the best kind of goal because it strikes at the core of everything we want.

Finding acceptance for the length of time these endeavors will take is a key aspect of happily living in the present while maintaining a focus on the future. Time will elapse no matter what we do, so we might as well constructively pursue the things we actually desire.

Nostalgia For The Past

At every significant turning point in my life, I’ve lived in breathless anticipation. For example, I barely remember being engaged to Mr. FW because I was so anxious to get married. What I often seem to remember most from the twilight days of one life event is just how much I was visualizing the next big move. I’m now actually nostalgic for those “missed” times. I was so driven, bound, and determined to get to the next thing that I didn’t allow myself to comprehensively live out the lead-up to those changes.

Me & Mr. FW at my aunt's house last week. I'm 35 weeks pregnant today!

Me & Mr. FW at my aunt’s house last week. I’m 35 weeks pregnant today!

While I think it’s of paramount importance to plan ahead, have specific goals, and not wing it through life, I sometimes skew too far to the opposite direction of being entirely destination-oriented. I lose the present in the process. With this latest slew of preparatory time, I’ve resolved to live it instead of wishing it away. I’m actively engaged in enjoying my pregnancy and not hoping for the time to birth to pass quickly. Babywoods will be born when she’s ready and I’m in no rush.

And while our sights and minds are set on our eventual homestead, we savor living in our current city and taking advantage of the fun it offers. There’s nothing wrong with relishing the present while simultaneously and methodically mapping a different future. What I’ve realized is that there are so many benefits to each mode of life and not embracing them fully leaves us with a life experience deficit.

For me, this is the time in my life when I’m pregnant, working a traditional job, and living in a city. I’m not an early retiree writing full-time on a homestead with my kids already born. I’m not there yet and I’m at peace with that. Because I know there will be times in that homestead future when I long for my days as a childless career woman in the city.

I also aim to be proud of my past self. With each stage of life, no matter how ephemeral it seems, there are opportunities to bring joy to others, to experience fulfillment, and to do good work. I want to look back and know that I did my best at each juncture: that I was the best pregnant lady I could be, that I was the best city-dweller I could be, and so on. There’s no reason to create regret for how I handled situations or for rushing through time with family or friends in my haste to summit my next accomplishment.

Loving Every Day

Frugal Hound loves every day!

Frugal Hound loves every day!

Something I notice in my yoga practice is that if I give my entire effort to each posture–going deep, holding it, and breathing through the pain–I feel amazing at the end. My body knows I worked hard and knows that I reaped every possible benefit from each pose.

A dear friend of mine, L, who won her battle with cancer a few years ago once told me that she loves living every single day–whether she’s at home with her baby and husband, or at work, or at the grocery store–she sees every moment as a gift. She explained, “What more is there than loving every day? What more could anyone want than to simply be allowed to live?” Wow. I can’t imagine a more perfect articulation of the importance of living each moment to its greatest potential. What more could any of us hope for indeed?

How do you stay grounded in the present while looking ahead to the future?

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93 Responses

  1. Fantastic advice. I’ve been guilty of not embracing the moment as well. Our engagement was very short and I didn’t really take time to enjoy it, and I didn’t even take time to enjoy being pregnant which is one of my greatest regrets. Even with our financial goals, it is so easy to get sucked up in the future, that enjoying the present can become a struggle. What a great reminder!

  2. Happy Wednesday Frugalwoods!

    Wow, this post really hit me hard today. I’ve so been guilty of not embracing the present moment too. I feel like as a Mom, it’s so easy to get caught up in the details of everything that needs to get done on a daily basis, that I sometimes forget that I need to just ENJOY. That’s what life is all about! Congrats on hitting 35 weeks too, only a little over a month until you get to meet your sweet little girl. How exciting! It’s great that you are realizing you need to find peace in the present moment before she comes, I think it’s going to help you cherish those newborn days so much more 🙂

    Cheers to a great day!


  3. Joanne says:

    A timely post again Mrs FW!!

    I’m currently embarking on my own journey of discovery by studying Practical Philosophy and we talk often of living, fully awake in the present moment. There is nothing to be gained from living in a past of regret or a future of day dreams, there is only the present. Each moment is to be embraced, savoured and fully experienced before we can truly move onto the next.

    It’s hard, but in the rare moment that it is glimpsed – between working full time, being a mom to two boys aged 14 and 11 and as a wife to a husband whose job (he’s an actor) takes him away from home for long periods of time, often at short notice – makes it all really with while.

    I applaud your drive, vision and true grit in your long term approach to life, future planning and working towards that goal is a wonderful thing, it’s when people daydream and don’t DO anything about it is when life becomes an existence rather than a life fully lived.

    Ps love the FW greyhound pics by the way! My labradoodle won’t entertain the notion of dressing up, much to my disappointment!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I really like how you phrased it: “living fully awake in the present moment.” That’s exactly what it is! Truly being awake and engaged in the present. And, great point on incorporating “doing.” All my best to you on your journey!

  4. To enjoy the present, we’ve decided not to focus toward “early retirement” or “financial independence,” but toward increasing our usefulness today–through anything from DIYing and learning new skills, to volunteering, helping out friends, or charitable giving. This makes the journey highly rewarding and it means that our frugal lives aren’t really about money. So if we one day no longer need to work for income, we’ll still have close relationships and a useful life to enjoy.

  5. Nat says:

    Happy happy hump day, Frugalwoods! This is something that I’ve been working on: living in the moment. My boyfriend and I just moved in together, and I have been in such a rush to get everything in our apartment (we just moved to Somerville, so we’ll definitely be hitting up Market Basket, although we have yet to figure out where that is haha) that I feel like I haven’t gotten a chance to just slow down, look around, and take in what’s going on around me… I’ve also realized how easy it is seems to spend money now that we’re moving in together: ‘Oh, we totally need this cutting apparatus for vegetables, we totally need this long scrub that can reach into skinny glasses.’ AH. Overwhelming!! I’ve had enough shopping for a LONG while, and the thought of buying more things frightens me.

    Anyway, yes, living in the present is very important – I think it improves the quality of people’s lives exponentially. Thanks for the post, and let’s hope that I can work with my partner to spend less and save more.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Welcome to the neighborhood! Market Basket is at 400 Somerville Ave :)–definitely check it out soon! And, I totally understand the drive to buy when you first start a household. It can be overwhelming! Helps me to remind myself that I don’t have to get everything right away. I like to wait and see if I still need it in a month or two–more often than not, I’ve totally forgotten about it by then.

  6. Great post, Mrs. Frugalwoods! I, too, have struggled with being mindful and present. Especially when I’m awaiting the next big life event. I can only imagine the anticipation you’re feeling about your baby. For me, taking some time for myself in the morning really helps. An ideal day would be waking up around 6:00 AM, enjoying a coffee, reading blog posts, writing, and cooking a proper breakfast before work. It’s not always possible. But I’m always appreciative when I can start my days like that. I prefer slower, more quiet starts to the day. It gives me time to think.

    • I’m still working on establishing those quiet mornings, even when I do manage to get up much earlier than I absolutely need to, I still don’t give myself enough time – for some reason I always assume that waking up, getting dressed, and having breakfast will literally take no time at all, but in reality, it takes 30 minutes. New goal: get up at least two hours before I need to leave.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Yes to early mornings! As a former snoozer until the last minute, I can tell you that my early mornings have changed my life. I feel so relaxed and productive waking up at 6am–it really puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

        • Diana says:

          need more info on how to get up early and not hate it! I LOVE having jetlag coming back to the west coast and that feeling of being wide awake and ready to take on the day at 6am- but that kind of jetlag only lasts like a day, and then I’m back to being a slug. I go to be around 11 so it’s not like getting up at 7:30 should be some huge problem, but usually I pry myself out of bed after 8:30. I’m assuming you’ve discovered some sort of magic bullet 🙂

          • Andrea says:

            Diana, as someone who is definitely an early riser, I think you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. My wife doesn’t like to go to bed as early as I do and I don’t like to stay up late. It’s more important to honor your natural energy rhythm and make the best use of your time. I used to get up at 4-5am. for years and years, now I sleep till 5:45 and it only gives me 45 minutes before I have to get ready for work, but I’ve found that it is enough, and my body relishes a little extra sleep. It’s all about being present to what your mind and body need. Good luck!

  7. Mr. 1500 says:

    Living in the future goes with the territory! That’s what much of this journey is about, isn’t it? Save for today so you can enjoy tomorrow.

    However, I don’t think its healthy either. There is that phrase I read recently in a King novel: “Wishing your days away is wicked.” And it is. I have a very hard time living in the present day though.

    And I don’t have a good solution yet. I’ve been getting better, trying to enjoy my non-working hours of the workweek. We go on bike rides whenever weather allows. We’re at the library at least 3 days per week. We hike on on the weekends.

    Perhaps the best thing to do is to not sacrifice too much, no matter where you’re at in life. Bi ‘sacrifice,’ I mean life sacrifices, nothing to do with money or spending. If your job sucks, move on. Surround yourself with great people. Get where you need to be in life.

    Completely unrelated: I noticed you said “kids!” Plural! Already planning the sequel, eh!?!?

  8. What a timely post! We have been planning for a move across the world for two years now and it is not going to happen before next year. It is so easy for me to feel anxious and feel that I am living in an in between stage. I had a day off today, normally I have a huge to do list in my mind but instead I decided to enjoy the moment. I started looking at photos from the past few years and realized how I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful people around and great memories. I was reflecting on how many of the things that have happened the past few years have been important part of my journey . I have started writing a gratitude journal to remind myself of the beauty in each day.

  9. Linda says:

    Excellent reminder, which I need often. I was notified this morning of the death of a long time friend. I am thankful for every moment I spent with her over the years. No matter what your goals, always remember that people come first.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. Tragedy does have a way of highlighting for us the importance of savoring our time and of prioritizing people.

  10. Rob says:

    Sigh, I’m terrible for constantly thinking ahead,, my wife finally got mad and said “ya know I still have to work”. So I’m trying to balance living in the now with my penchant to plan way way ahead!

  11. Have you guys ever read Brave New Life’s classic post “The Waiting Place”? (

    Reading this I got chills down my spine at how similar the mindsets were, and had to go google the link to re-read it for myself. I think mindfulness is all about 1) not letting ourselves become fixated on the future, and thus enter the waiting place; 2) not being trapped in knee-jerk instinct level emotional responses, thus living on impulse and being trapped in the present.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thanks for sharing that–I just read it and indeed, the mindset is very similar! There’s certainly a balance to strike between planning for the future in a comprehensive way but also enjoying what we’re currently engaged in doing.

  12. Reminisce about the past, dream about the future, but don’t forget to live in the present. I am similar in that I constantly think and plan about the future…which is a good thing, but it’s also not good when you forget to enjoy the journey. I really saw this evident when I went with my wife and toddler to the aquarium. We only had a few hours and I looked at the event schedule/map to plan a schedule to make sure we could see all the cool things. I was trying to rush my little toddler along so we could see everything but he was fascinated by the big tank of fish which was near the entrance. Instead of planning out the whole trip and trying to rush him to another exhibit…I should have tried to enjoy the moment and see the excitement in his face watching all the fish swimming around.

  13. Great reminder, we often dwell on the past or are impatience for future things. We do need to savor the day, the now moments. I’m trying to remind myself now, as I search for work, that my extra free time will be gone at some point. I need to enjoy it I have and use it wisely.

  14. Mrs PoP says:

    I once took a quiz on evaluating my “time perspectives” and the results weren’t surprising – my primary focus is the future and the suggestion was that the extent to which I focus on the future might be limiting some of my happiness in the present. I try and fight that (and Mr PoP’s natural tendencies to focus much more on the present than me help quite a bit!), but it’s definitely not in my nature to “live in the moment”.

    As an aside – next time you have a long layover in Chicago, track down the yoga room. It’s free and last time I was there, a hydroponic herb garden was set up just outside of it. I hung out there for at least an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the airport since it’s off the beaten paths.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Are you kidding me? There’s a yoga room at O’Hare??? I said those exact words to Mr. FW, “the only thing I need is a yoga room.” Can’t believe I didn’t see that on the map. Hah!

  15. Justin says:

    Great advice! If you aren’t able to enjoy “now” then you won’t ever be able to enjoy “now”, even in the future when you reach your goals. Back in my still-working pre-retirement days, I always took the opportunity to relax, reflect and marvel at everything around me whenever I could. Even if it was nothing more than sucking in the beauty of all the oak trees surrounding me on my five minute walk to work through downtown Raleigh.

    Now that I’m in the early retirement stage of life (or “the rest of my life” as I sometimes existentially think of this phase), there’s always another event just over the horizon. The kids will be a little older, they can do more, we can travel to crazier places, etc. But that’s always going to be the case, so we have to enjoy right now and embrace the good and the (temporarily) challenging in life. No point in squandering the limited minutes and days we have waiting for something great to happen in the future!

  16. What a great post! I didn’t know that I needed to read this, but I did. I too focus too heavily on what’s next and forget to enjoy where I am currently at in life.

  17. If you can’t find joy in the journey then the end goal won’t be as satisfying either. Sometimes we live life with blinders and only aim for the goal and miss out on the experiences happening all around us that truly help us to become who we are today. Life is about becoming not achieving, that is where the most self worth and satisfaction comes from.

  18. Elisabeth says:

    Definitely get into the habit of enjoying where you are now, before your daughter is born! If you are planning to go back to work after the birth, you will appreciate being in the habit of enjoying the present, because as a working mom with a tight schedule it can be easy to long for more time with your baby (who won’t stay little forever).

  19. Pat Pickett says:

    Oh my – living in the present has never been so present to me as the present. My first jaunt into adulthood found me in the convent. Oh, there were so many wonderful things about that way of life but meditation was not one I could ever understand, or get my arms around. It just didn’t make sense to sit there and “think.” Many years forward my whole life has changed: no longer a nun (obviously), children grown and I’ve more, or less remade myself several times. It was only 12 years ago that I first understood about yoga, meditation, Pema Chodron and really living in the present. This was all thanks to my dear Sam who was a quiet teacher and great love of my life. I think my life with Sam was so fulfilling because it was present oriented. While his death was way too premature, he left me with a lasting legacy I might never have without knowing and loving him.

  20. My husband helps me with this. Like you, I tend to live for the future: when we have enough to pay for his dental implants, when we have enough to pay off the mortgage, when we have enough to buy a rental property. All but the first goal is years off, so my husband makes sure that we enjoy ourselves a little bit now so that we don’t look up one day and think about all the missed opportunities.

  21. Liz says:

    Best post award! Bravo!

    Your words really spoke to me. It is so hard to find pleasure, patience, and contentment with life. Here’s to enjoying the pose we are in now!

  22. With the aid of hot beverages.

    No, really. Whatever task I am going to perform goes down so much better after or with a nice cup of tea. (In the summer, I enjoy iced coffee with almond milk and chocolate Ovaltine. Please don’t judge :-).)

    I’m a naturally contented person, so that’s a strength. On the other hand, I am less good at slowing down and enjoying ONE thing. (Last night, I kid you not, I was folding laundry, putting away other laundry during commercials, watching television, and eating ice cream simultaneously.) So that’s what I’m working on, especially in regards to the kids.

  23. It’s definitely a tough task when this whole FI world is about planning for the future. It definitely takes reflection and stepping back at times. I’ll never not be a planner looking into the future, but I will work on getting better at living in the moment.

  24. Mr. SSC says:

    I totally relate to this. It seems like ever since Mrs. SSC and I have been together we’ve always been looking into the future, and maybe not focusing as much on the present. For instance, we met and were looking forward to getting relocated to our new work locale, getting a house, planning the wedding, starting work. Then it seemed we were always focused on our next move which was ~4 years away. Mainly in certain home upgrades and the like, as in, “We don’t want to do that, we’re going to be in this house for XX more yrs, it won’t be worth it.”

    Even now, with our FFLC date around 2018, things are in the “3 years out mode” and it just gets frustrating. I like moving and experiencing new places, but it would be nice to breathe and enjoy where we are instead of always feeling like we’re just looking towards the next thing. I don’t have any better answer for it other than trying to slow down and enjoy now, and just be. It’s difficult when you’re constantly evaluating your plan, researching “new” houses, locales to relocate to and the like. It’s a tough line to toe and stay in the present when the future is so “forward” in your thoughts.

  25. Helen says:

    My kids do that… they’re in the middle of fun and what are they talking about? Tomorrow, or the next planned fun. I keep telling them, cut that out, enjoy NOW! But they’re young, LOL.
    We’re in such transition now. Sold the house we’d lived in for 12 years, we’re in an apartment (for the first time in 23 yrs for me), hubby is in month 5 of a new job that has him traveling 7-10 day stretches once a month, the new house will be done soon and closing is in December. Everything is up in the air. I think I’m very ‘now’ with it but hubby is definitely mentally already making the apt to house move. Ever built a house while married to an engineer? The picky-ness!!
    I love airports. I’m a huge people-watcher and the hellos and goodbyes are so intense there. My mother met each of my kids in an airport.
    Enjoy Babywoods. I can tell you for certain no matter what you do, one day she’ll be 14 and you’ll be thinking “But you were born yesterday! I was there!”

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Good luck with your moment of transition–very exciting things on the horizon for you! I can absolutely imagine the picky-ness of building a house with an engineer (as I’m married to one 😉 )–they’re just very precise people, aren’t they.

  26. You are so right. I feel often like you, thinking of the next move. Except when I was pregnant. It was the first et perhaps only moment in my life where everything was just in the present, enjoying the miracle of a baby growing inside… So enjoy your moment – and every other!

  27. Timely advice for me today. Thank you!
    Working on plan B isn’t what I thought I would be doing at this time in my life.
    But, I am going to own it and, breathe through it. 🙂

  28. Kristen says:

    I am laughing – according to my friends (I have never had a baby) – soon enough you will be in a rush for her to arrive because you will be sooooo uncomfortable. Balancing now and later and not looking back too much is hard. I find to stay grounded in the now I just have to practice mindfulness. I also find setting small daily goals keeps me focused more on the here and now and less on in 6 months etc. etc.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Small, daily goals is good approach–that helps me a lot too. Focusing on the here and now is my constant struggle, but totally worth trying to achieve it!

  29. Hmmm, now just to apply the practical application to the concept.

  30. This is one of the challenges of life in a nutshell: how do we enjoy the present without always racing forward? I admittedly suck at this, but one thing that’s helped me is practicing gratitude. That sounds cliche, but when I’m rushing through stages of my life, I can stop and feel grateful for where I am at that very moment. Sometimes I even pretend I’m telling my 10-years-ago self where I am today, and I imagine how excited I would have been back then to imagine the future I have today. It gives me some perspective and a lot to feel grateful for!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Practicing gratitude is a wonderful approach! I like the idea of imagining your past self being excited about your current self–good advice!

  31. I spend a lot of time trying to re-ground myself to live in the present, especially when times are difficult. When being a mother of young children was exhausting, I would cuddle with them as long as they would let me because I knew someday I would no longer be able to hold them. When they were both in high school and our entire lives consisted of all the activities on their schedules which seemed to demand all of our time and money, I enjoyed every moment knowing that one day I would miss those days. Even when I was going through my divorce, instead of sitting in a state oblivion for those couple of years waiting for each event to pass that I knew would bring me closer to the end, I made it a point to use that time to work on myself and my future on my own.

    The time will pass; the future will happen. There is something in every moment to appreciate. Find it! Love one another! And don’t forget to laugh at the lunacy.

  32. Revanche says:

    As a chronic planner, this was always a problem for me until .. well, I don’t know what exactly was the moment that let me figure out how to turn that switch off but I’m glad it came before our little came along. Once I got through the worst part of healing and recovery, I found it became easier to appreciate that this is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy each moment, whether ze was cooing or screaming at me, because far too soon, ze will be grown up and doing so much more and different things. If we “can’t wait” for the moment to pass, we’re just wasting life.
    Of course at our 5th wakeup with an upset LB at 4 am, I think I was ready to wish that moment over ;D

  33. Kim from+Philadelphia says:

    This might be my favorite Frugalwoods post to date! I love the topic and the way you wrote it, Mrs. F.

    I’m currently in a professional state of flux. After my layoff in February, another department expressed interest in recruiting me just days later. Though no position existed with them, they started the long process of getting approval to create a spot for me. Though it’s taken months, it will be worth the wait; wonderful, technically skilled coworkers who are good people I’ve known for many years, and an overlap of patients and families that I already knew!
    Financially we could swing my not working, even after severance and unemployment dried up. That hasn’t been the hard part.

    As someone ( much like you described yourself, Mrs F) who always “worked to the next goal”, having a chunk of hours free every day was a new challenge for me. I started off with massive lists of projects. I was the epitome of productivity! The purging! The organizing!

    Now that I’m 9 months in- it’s only recently that I’ve truly begun to savor this time. I’m not worrying (yet) about all the new things I need to learn. I’m focusing on enjoying each day. Fall is my favorite- so my days are filled with fun, weekday adventures- many with just me and my dog.
    Whether it’s spending the day with a retired loved one, baking pumpkin bread while listening to great music, hiking, or even doing my weekday chores- I’m enjoying TODAY.
    You know what? It’s glorious!
    The gift of time, the gift of life, the gift of health.
    We never know what tomorrow may bring, so like that beautiful quote from your friend, enjoy today.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      What a wonderful mode of existence you’ve come into! I love that you’re savoring the time. I think I’ll be the exact same way when I stop working–a frenzy of “productivity” and then finally, the surrender of enjoying the moment. And, baking pumpkin bread, listening to music, and hiking sounds like the absolute perfect day to me :).

  34. Cary Fortin says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this! I was walking with a dear friend this morning, mulling over the same topics of trying to be present and deeply grateful for this current stage in life while thoughtfully preparing for the future…. Your words and honesty just could not have been more helpful, more what I need to be reminded of! No need to respond, just a heartfelt thank you to you!

  35. Believe it or not, I am reading this post IN AN AIRPORT! True story!
    I love reading your thoughts about yoga as a way to get more into the present moment, as this has been a huge benefit of yoga for me as well. (And I agree that chair pose is crazy hard.)
    I definitely think that because financial goals/journeys are typically pretty long-term, it can be easy to think that the goal is to get somewhere (for you, to your homestead; for me, out of student debt). Your post is a great reminder that it’s not just about the goal, but also about each step, and each breath, along the way. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, IN AN AIRPORT–that’s getting very meta! It’s totally about each step and each breath–although I find I have to remind myself of that fact every day/moment ;).

  36. Marcia says:

    It’s hard. But nowadays, for example – I walk the kids to school every Wednesday. (Mine and the neighbors). I don’t care how late I get to work. I walk there, chat with the kids, talk to other parents, do some PTA stuff, then push the 3 year old in the stroller UP over the hill home.

    Then I take him to daycare, and if he wants to snuggle on my lap for 5 minutes, I do that too!

  37. Kurt says:

    No day, no moment, no sensation is devoid of value. No matter how mundane or tedious or boring or painful or stressful or whatever the present moment, I aim to immerse myself in it, breathe it in, feel it, acknowledge it, embrace it, and live it. Of course I often fall short of this aim; like anything, habitual mindfulness takes practice.

  38. Mrs. DisIndebted and I were actually reflecting on this on our nightly walk with our debt-free dog. We haven’t shared all of our plans and dreams yet with our readers, but we have shared our end goal of vagabonding around the world. However, before we do that we have to pay off a mountain of debt and then create our early retirement savings. It is a long journey and we are holding pattern right now. But that long journey is made up of many short excursions, each with its own mountain of challenges and layovers. Before we disembark for debt-free vagabonding we hope to buy a house (or more likely a duplex, in order to create a rental income), have a few baby DisIndebteds, and more. I could go on, but the short story is that we want to plan every step of every adventure.

    As you said, “I don’t want to wish my life away, but I know I do it all the same.” We are guilty of the same thing. We thrive on the next big thrill. It isn’t just us frugal weirdos who do it. I hear people every day say “is it Friday yet?” as if there is nothing to enjoy about Tuesday or Wednesday (Monday I understand). We are all anxious for the future at the cost of calm today. And, it isn’t a new phenomenon. 2000 years ago, Jesus instructed his followers to “not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:34). It is easier said than done.

    How do we stay grounded? I think it’s a combination of things. We busy ourselves with our reading and our passions. We go camping. I write my blogs and lift my weights. She reads my blogs and does her yoga (coincidental to your post today, she is having a version of “I have arrived. I am home.” tattooed on her this Saturday). We have “screen free” days when we agree to shun our smartphones and laptops. We cook, eat, laugh, love, and live. After all, what better use can we make of our moments today?

    All our future thrills will someday be past memories. But can you imagine if every moment of life was spent thinking about the next? Even our future moments would be filled with fears over further futures beyond. How disappointing that would be! I’d rather enjoy the simplicity of this happy moment and wish you well in achieving the same.

    Fun fact about the future: As of today, 10-21-2015, every minute of the future in “Back to the Future” happened in the past.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Well said! It certainly is easier said than done to find that peace in the present, but it’s wonderful that you’re able to strike that balance. The “is it Friday yet” sentiment is exactly how I don’t want to live!

  39. It’s crazy that for many it takes a health scare to really appreciate each moment, because quite frankly it’s hard to do. I find even 10 minutes of meditation sometimes makes me antsy and anxious to move onto the next thing. I think the one place where I take a moment is after I do a beach run. I complain about the COL here but then if I just pause when I’m done and look out over the ocean, I have to pinch myself that I’m here at this point in my life. Somehow every single thing I did in life led to that one moment of starting at the ocean. But life does then get busy. I think it happens to everyone.

  40. NZ Muse says:

    I’ll be honest, I just can’t do it. I cannot be content while dealing with unemployment and being the breadwinner. So peace for me is going to come from making a plan to put myself first and get ahead.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I feel like knowing that about yourself, and embracing it, is a wonderful part of creating that peace. Kudos to you for making a plan to get there.

  41. Gwen says:

    I’m in the middle of the FI Chautauqua at a gorgeous resort in Ecuador. We’ve been talking about a number of different topics, not just financial stuff, and living better is one of them. MMM and I were talking about just sitting down, taking a minute, and absorbing our surroundings to form a memory to store for later. We happened to be sitting on a huge rock next to a rushing river in the middle of the rainforest with flocks of birds flying overhead. I’ve been taking just a bit of time everyday just to pause and think about what has happened and appreciate how great things really are 🙂

  42. Sarah Jane says:

    A strong yoga practice is a prerequisite to finding the beauty and grace in every moment of one’s life.

  43. This post resonated with me more than probably any of you previous ones! I have struggled with the same tendency, since first becoming aware of it a few years ago. At the same time, I realized that, not only do I anticipate the future so much that I miss out on the present, but I also tend to romanticize, or only see the positive aspects, of whatever I’m looking forward to.

    Buying a home and becoming a parent happened within a few months of each other for me, and after each of them, I realized that they both entailed much more than just the rosy pictures I had been fixated on. Somehow I never thought about cleaning up diaper blow-outs, the “terrible twos”, cleaning bathrooms, or paying hefty propane bills until they were already a part of my life.

    Since realizing this about myself, I’ve learned to try to have a more balanced view of whatever I’m anticipating, and to remember that we’re never guaranteed any time beyond the present moment, so I really need to live in the moment. I’m not perfect at it, but it’s important to me to keep working on it.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ahh yes: “we’re never guaranteed any time beyond the present moment” –that really sums it up well.

  44. Suze Wannabe says:

    Today, I flew a spinner kite at our ranch and watched the clouds.
    All the work was done.
    It was time to play.

  45. Fiby says:

    “No one wants to be in an airport. It’s a place of transition and flux and it’s not a final destination. Being in an airport means you’re in process towards something. You haven’t arrived anywhere yet.”

    I love traveling. And while I don’t particularly like the flying aspect of traveling, I love being in airports. Not necessarily for eight hours, mind you, but I really like going to new ones. And spending time in them.

    I think the reason is I like seeing how efficiently (or inefficiently) an airport is laid out.
    For example, I think ATL, my home airport, is pretty well done for the most part. Five parallel terminals, all connected underground with a train that moves perpendicular to all of them.
    LAX is one of the worst airports I’ve seen.

  46. Megan says:

    Ugh. But it’s so hard to live in the present when what you really want is 4 years away still!!! 🙁 (yes, i would like cheese with that whine! lol) But i’m trying. I whittle away my days semi enjoying my current life while simultaneously daydreaming of 4 years from now when i’m due to hit FI and i can go down to part time and spend my extra free time on stuff i actually want to do!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Hey, I think sometimes “semi-enjoying” is the best we can do. It’s not possible to be tripping rainbows every minute ;).

  47. JH says:

    I love this sentence in your post:

    “There’s nothing wrong with relishing the present while simultaneously and methodically mapping a different future.”

    I love both daydreaming about a future state and planning for that state, and, like you, I have to be careful not to let that get in the way of enjoying my present state. There have been phases in my life (e.g., 90-hour work weeks as a lawyer in a big firm, or in-house during the financial crisis) where I was focused more on “the next phase” than my current existence.

    There have been some tough lessons along the way that led me to change my lifestyle so that there was a better balance between enjoying the moment and preparing for the future. The car accident my sister had (when she fell asleep at the wheel because she was burning the candle at both ends), my mother’s premature death (just after she retired), and my own back injury about 5 years ago each caused me to rethink matters like work/life balance and make concrete changes in my life to align how I spend my days with what I value. For my own part, I now appreciate every day where I can stand up and move pain-free, walk to work (or even run a race).

    More recently, I was deeply sad to experience the loss associated with the death of several animals I loved at the shelters and sanctuaries where I volunteer as a photographer. Their passing was a reminder to me that while I (and others) value the portraits I create of these wonderful individuals, I must not let the goal of making the perfect portrait get in the way of simply spending time with them – my furry and feathered friends and teachers. So now, I try not only to photograph the moment but live the moment with them. I bring back not only the image but the peace and joy of being there with them.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That is beautifully said, JH. Thank you for sharing this. I think it’s very common for those challenging situations–your sister’s car crash, etc–to be the catalyst we need to jolt ourselves to the present. And, pets are a wonderful way to live in the present. I find with Frugal Hound that she has no concept of the past or future–it’s all about the moment for her, which is refreshing.

  48. Oh, goodness, this post left me in a bumbling mess of tears. I don’t usually thank people who leave me in a wilted-mess of emotion, but I really needed to read this today, so thank you.

  49. MEL810 says:

    Having had a brush with death because of health issues in the last two years and facing the thought that I might end up having to be hooked into a dialysis machine at some point, I can tell you, everything else is just gravy! If you don’t do anything else right, take care of your health and physical body! You can get more money, a different job, a different house, etc.: but once the old bod is caput, that’s that! And talk about expensive: even with ‘good’ insurance the co-pays can get you if you have a chronic illness. I owe all my spare cash to Laborps,etc..I had so many bills last year I went past my out of pocket expense cap! I can tax deduct!
    Look back and grin, plan and look forward with relish, but relax and enjoy the NOW! The STRESS of anticipation of a future that may or may not come to be and of beating yourself up over past mistakes is a killer!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Well said! You’re so very right about valuing our health. At the end of the day, it’s kind of all we have. I love this: “Look back and grin, plan and look forward with relish, but relax and enjoy the NOW!” Perfect.

  50. Hi Frugalwoods, peace for me is when I feel I am satisfied with my accomplishment with regard to financial goals and am debt free, which I notice happens a lot this year. At this moment, I am at peace.

  51. Jessie says:

    I’ve read every single one of your posts, and this one is my favorite. I relate very much to being too destination oriented and learning only recently to slow that down. I think I needed that attitude in my 20s and can only let go of it now in my 30s.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Oh wow–many thanks! I appreciate that. Yeah, I definitely did not have this attitude in my 20s :). I’m striving for it in my 30s!

  52. I remember the few weeks leading up to Will’s birth being crazy because we were building a home and wanted to move before he was born. Looking back, I hated that it was so crazy because I realize now that that time was really our last true opportunity for peace. It’s hard to find peace with a child and two careers but hubby and I try as much as we can to take some downtime to enjoy a walk in the state park nearby or just sit on our deck and enjoy a quiet night. It’s challenging, but like anything you can and should fight for it because the results are awesome.

  53. Susan says:

    We have been living in a state of flux for three years! Your words were an excellent reminder to enjoy the NOW as part of the journey. It always feels like we are waiting for Godot. 😉 This in between is our life, so I am striving to embrace it rather than wishing it away. Thank you.

  54. Kay says:

    I just want to say thank you so much for the time you put into writing this blog!
    I love the way you view frugality and life in general. I’m currently a full-time grad student, and while I’ve always been a relatively frugal weirdo, you’ve given me some great ideas on how to keep it up during this extra-expensive (and extra-weird) period of life. I’ll admit grad school is not quite on the level of incubating a tiny human, but this post reminded me to enjoy the learning experience and the brilliant people I get to interact with instead of hoping for graduation to come faster. Wishing you much peace!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Kay! It’s an honor and a pleasure for me to write it, so I’m delighted to hear you enjoy it :). Having done both grad school and pregnancy, I actually think grad school might’ve been more difficult! So hang in there–and enjoy it as much as you can :).

  55. I really love the metaphor of an airport representing a transitional stage in life. You’re between stages, but you have a ticket booked for the next leg of the journey. The impermanence can feel uncomfortable and at times meaningless if not embraced for what it is. Because the problem is we’re always going to be in airports, whether saving for a house, trying to have kids, going to school, being engaged, preparing for retirement, changing jobs, and the list goes on. Every phase is always in transition to another, so if we’re not careful, we end up missing the enjoyment of all of them, yearning for the next one.

    I really like how you said it so succinctly: “There’s nothing wrong with relishing the present while simultaneously and methodically mapping a different future. What I’ve realized is that there are so many benefits to each mode of life and not embracing them fully leaves us with a life experience deficit.” That sums it up absolutely perfectly, and is a great reminder that I needed today.

    One way that I sometimes ground myself in the present is to remind myself that the phase I’m in is one that I longed for and worked toward for a long time. While we have goals we’re looking forward to like buying a house and retiring early, sometimes I have to step back and look at where I am in relation to where I was. I’ve graduated from college, married a beautiful woman who I love, found a job that pays well and which I enjoy, and have had the opportunity to travel to fun places. All of these are things I dreamed of being able to do one day, but somehow when they become a part of your life, the desire for novelty can drain out the contentment and joy they bring over time.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      So true–we’re living today as our past self hoped we would! Good point on the desire for novelty–it’s so important to capture that contentment with life as it is.

  56. TomTrottier says:

    Embrace the pain…childbirth is a-comin’….

  57. That was a beautiful post and I know I was meant to read it today. I totally needed that. Thanks and Happy Almost Baby’s Birth Day! 🙂

  58. This is something that I try to work on as well. I am definitely more intentional in enjoying every day that is given to me. Like your friend, I think when a person realizes their time is finite, that’s when one starts to contemplate and become aware of today. I have 3 kids, the youngest is 10. We knew that he was going to be our last and I never enjoyed my kids as much as I did the last one, knowing that I would never go through the infant, baby, toddler, etc. time with a child again. But I am also guilty of wanting the days to pass quickly so that we can achieve our goals..but we try to enjoy every day as well!

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