It’s true that the best things in life are free. They’re just not always available to us, which perhaps adds to their value. Sunshine is one of those things, whether it is a sunrise, a sunset, or the sun at high noon. Lately, we haven’t had as much sun as we’d like here in South Dakota, but we can be content that our beloved sunshine will show itself for the next week or so, starting on Monday. One of the things that not many know about the state of South Dakota is that its nickname is the Sunshine State. Well, actually, it’s unofficial now, because in 1980 the official name was changed to the Mount Rushmore State; despite the fact that South Dakota gets an average of over 200 days of sunshine each year, we just couldn’t compete with that other Sunshine State, Florida. Our other unofficial nickname is The Blizzard State, but let’s not go there. I know, I know, snow is free, too, but it’s not one of the best things in life. Well, to some people maybe, but not me. Moving right along…
A starry sky is another favorite freebie of mine, whether there is a moon or not, and here in Brandon, you can actually see the stars. There are so many more stars in the sky than the city folks realize. I love to look at the moon, as well, and to notice its phase. I especially love a big, bright full moon just as it is coming over the horizon. Like a lot of people who have spent time in a foreign country, I was comforted when I looked at the moon to realize that my loved ones might see that same moon in a few hours.
Spending time in nature is a favorite of many, especially if you have time to daydream, another blessedly free activity. I don’t spend as much time outdoors as I would like, due to allergies, but this summer I’m going to give gardening my best shot, so hopefully I’ll be spending time outdoors two or three days a week, at least. To prepare, I have been taking allergy meds daily, and have also had one teaspoon of locally-produced honey per day.
We’ll see how this works.
Daydreaming has always been a favorite activity of mine, and as a child, I never let school get in the way of my daydreams, to the consternation of my teachers. I daydreamed my way through teaching, too, but by then I was a lot better at not showing it.
Sleeping and dreaming are also favorite activities of mine, and I know there are those in my family who think I do too much of this. I don’t, actually, get that much more sleep than they do. I just get mine at a different time. I rarely go to bed before midnight, and sometimes don’t get into bed before 6 am. However, I rarely sleep more than about 7 hours at any one time, and many nights I get considerably less than that.
Fortunately, holding babies is free, too, just not something I can engage in every day, unfortunately. A close second is looking at baby pictures, which I can do often, because there were three babies born in my extended family within the last few months. How lucky we are to have access to those pictures online, rather than having to wait until the parents remember to send us some!
My friends have been a constant source of joy to me. Nowadays, most of them live far away. I love being able to travel to see them, especially in the summer, but these days the true blessing is being able to connect with so many of them via email and Facebook. If it weren’t for Facebook, I would probably have deeply regretted moving to Brandon after retirement, mainly because I had no friends in this area. The rationale for moving here was proximity to family and a less expensive lifestyle. Via Facebook, only have I been able to keep up with friends I already had, I have also gained friends from all over the world. The last time I checked, I had 702 friends, which is a lot for me, and they come from all corners of the globe. I’ve had the good fortune to meet at least one-third of them or more, and since many of them are ECKists, I hope to meet more of them at Eckankar seminars in future years. Although I do pay for my Internet connection, there is no fee to belong to Facebook, a fact for which I am so grateful.
Another online freebie that I have grown to appreciate recently is Skype, which allows me to make video calls to friends far away. Skype and other instant communication apps used to be rather unstable, and it used to be a common experience to be “kicked out” of a group chat, but advances in technology have resulted in stabilization and improved video and sound quality. For a person like me, who depends quite a bit on lip-reading, video calling with Skype has been a true Godsend, and the fact that it is free is icing on the cake.
Smiles and laughter are freebies that few of us could live without. I know there are a lot of people who say I don’t smile often enough, but I just don’t have one of those big, wide smiles like the girl in this picture. I do enjoy sharing smiles, though, and I love to laugh. I took me six whole months to laugh again after my divorce, and when the laughter came back into my life, I vowed that I would try to have at least one belly laugh per day. I’ve been pretty good about that, except for the time I went through chemo. Whether I’m laughing with friends, watching a movie, reading a book, or scrolling down my newsfeed page on Facebook, I love to laugh. Try listening to Ed Wynn singing “I Love to Laugh,” from the movie, Marry Poppins. You’ll probably be giggling by the time it’s over.
Family is another thing we have for free, whether we want them or not. If we’re lucky, we come to appreciate them, especially when some of the rough edges that marred our time with parents, siblings, and cousins when we were younger begin to smooth out as we mature.
Kisses and sex are free, too – and if it isn’t, then you’re not getting the right kind. This is one area that is, frankly, lacking in my life. I keep hoping, and they say you’re never too old. I’m open…
Meditation and prayer are free, which gives us better access to the ultimate freebie, without which we could not live: God’s unconditional love. Meditation has other benefits, as well: lowering blood-pressure, increasing oxygen in the bloodstream, stress-reduction, and clarity of mind. That’s a pretty good return, for a freebie.
Birthdays are free, whether we like them or not. Parties are pretty spendy, but the day itself comes around for free every year like clockwork. My last birthday was one of those “round” ones that come every decade. Here is the cake I made for myself (definitely not free), which I freely shared with my family, who mostly chose not to eat it. I tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself, but I ended up throwing most of it away. Didn’t spend any money on the get-together itself, though.
Finally, hugs are free, and these days there are even people going around with a sign that says “FREE HUGS.” Hugs are another thing that I haven’t had a whole lot of, being single for so long, but I’m lucky to have a great many hugging friends. At Eckankar seminars, hugging is definitely the preferred mode of greeting, and I love getting hugs on seminar weekends. The hugs and love of my friends fill me up for a whole year between Worldwide Seminars, held in October each year. (We have a Springtime Seminar, too, but these days I can’t afford to go more than once a year.) If you haven’t watched the “Free Hugs” video on YouTube, do go and watch it. I promise, it will warm your heart. 🙂