I have a magic basket. It is filled with fun activities. Some of these activities cost money and many don’t. I go to my magic basket when I am sad, bored, and/or when I need to reward myself for something. While I am going to share with you MY basket and its contents, please begin to think of what might be in YOUR basket should you decide to create one. And don’t laugh at mine!

          Before I retired, I thought long and hard about what I would do with my time once I didn’t have to report for work everyday or when I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night with solutions to work problems or when I wasn’t involved in all the myriad tasks related to going to and being at work, i.e. buying and maintaining clothes, making lunches, doing my hair, nails, etc. That adds up to A LOT of time! So, I wanted to be sure I had creative and fun activities to fill that time…not just to kill  time but to enjoy time.

          When I go to my basket, I try to pick an item that bests suits my emotion. If I’m feeling a little bored between tasks, I may decide to pick the ‘floss my teeth’ item out of my basket. Okay, I can hear you laughing at me behind my back already! But, seriously, sometimes just doing a simple thing like flossing or reorganizing a junk drawer can shift me out of one emotion into a completely different one, like feeling a sense of accomplishment or feeling cleaner or less like a procrastinator.

          My basket contains three main places to go and they are: the $$ store, a movie matinee and the library. None of these places costs much, if anything, yet they can entertain and liven up any day. All three of these activities can be done alone or with a friend.

          There are three Dollar Tree stores in Santa Rosa proper that I know of, one of which is within walking distance of my house (but, of course, I never walk). I can have a total splurge with $5 on any day of the year that they’re open. If I’m going to make margaritas only once a year, I’m not buying the glasses at Macys or Corrick’s for a precious bundle each. I’m getting them for a buck a piece and if one (or more) breaks…oh well! In addition, some of the best holiday knick knacks, decorations and stocking/basket/pumpkin stuffers are found there. And don’t forget the stationary supplies, greeting cards, plastic leftover food containers (which, at these prices, I can afford to send them home with others and never get them back). There are, however, things I never buy at the Dollar Tree and most of those items are foodstuffs and toothpaste. I find it so much fun to stroll the aisles ferreting out little diamonds of cheap goods that, when mixed with my halfway decent stuff, will be just perfect!

          The second of my special places is the movie house, specifically the matinees at these places. I have my favorite theaters where the seats are comfortable, my feet don’t stick to the floor and it’s not run rampant with bored teenagers and raucous pre-teens. There are a couple of theaters that still make their popcorn fresh and in small batches, and I frequent these places the most. If you’re a senior, you don’t really have to go to the matinees to get a break on the price. I think the senior price, which is good all day, is still a quarter or so less than the matinee price. It’s harder to get me out of the house after dinner, so I’m more likely to hit a matinee, even a late morning one. Personally, my favorite theaters are Summerfield Cinemas in Santa Rosa and the Rialto in Sebastopol.

          Lastly, my most favorite place to go is the library. To me the service provided by this county agency is a stupendous bargain. Many of you have heard me rave about the wonderful library system for years. I love nothing better than to read the Sunday paper or the New York Times Book Review and then go online to reserve the books from the best-seller list that interest me. Also, there’s that great service (mostly for free) that will get you books from other libraries if the local country system doesn’t have it. The last special request I made for a book like this was Health and Religion and the book wound up coming from some library like the Howard Smith Library from a college in Angwin. This kind of inexpensive availability thrills me to the core.

          Some of the things I identified may seem uninteresting and silly to you….but, hey, it is MY basket after all. The point I’m making, hopefully, is that it’s a good idea to think about things you can do to make yourself happy or entertained, whether you’re retired or not. Sure, we can all enjoy ourselves if we’re cruising across the Atlantic on the way to some exotic place for a few weeks, but that costs a lot of money; money I don’t have to spend on that kind of activity nor would spend it on that even if I did.

          As with the stuff in my basket, the things in yours will have nothing to do with anyone else’s opinion about them, they belong to you. I guarantee if you take a little time to create your own basket of things to do when you need something non-caloric, legal and within your budget, you’ll find these items will be cemented as your version of life’s little pleasures, as they have for me.

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