May was an extremely busy month full of lots of change and evolution. I made some major overhauls to my relationships, got fully immersed in therapy, spent a lot of time with family, and also did some really fun things! I surprised myself on how at ease I felt about money and my magickal practice in May, especially considering I was doing something big: going to NYC for the weekend to visit with friends! Normally I have a really hard time sticking to a travel budget, but I surprised myself on where I splurged and where I saved last month, and how it affected my mindfulness and daily practice.
Save: my trip to NYC! I was surprised at how economical I was on this trip. Big cities are expensive, and I am not always great at being reasonable when it comes to how much I spend when I break my daily routine. However, even with the inflated prices for Memorial Day, my flight was less than $400 roundtrip, and my parents paid for it in January as my birthday present. I was flying to meet two friends of mine who were driving up from Pittsburgh, and they found an AirBnB that, split three ways, ended up only costing $100 per person. And it was a super cute (and large!) apartment in a cute neighborhood. I slept in a super comfy bed, woke up to views of a lovely backyard garden, and walked to get bagels—all for what I would have spent sleeping in bunk beds at a hostel! Score. Before I left for the trip, I went to my credit union and withdrew cash for the trip. I had been squirreling away money that I had received from my mom (she knows how much of my income my rent takes up and spots me cash here and there, for which I am undyingly grateful) and tiny freelance jobs, and had budgeted a comfortable $250 for spending. This $250 included any airport snacks, transportation costs, meals, and entertainment I wanted to do, which is honestly super tight for New York: I know plenty of people who could blow $250 in one DAY in Manhattan, let alone an entire weekend. However, I promised myself before I went that I would not buy more than one drink a day, would spend no more than $20 on souvenirs for myself and my mother, and would not suggest eating at any super expensive restaurants. With these restrictions, I bought plenty of food when I was stuck at the airport between layovers, subway passes for two days, entrance to the MoMa, parking on our last day, bagels and coffee, two dinners, two lunches, a couple drinks, admission to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, two cute souvenirs for my mom, a new sketchbook for myself, and still had $60 in cash left over! I was honestly shocked that I had spent less than $200 to have such a great weekend in the city. Considering my gifted travel expenses, I had a wonderful weekend with two of my closest friends in an awesome city for $300, and I couldn't be happier. I have no guilt attached to the trip, and can look back on the memories with total fondness. Plus, it let me relax and enjoy my time with my best friend who I don't get to see often since she moved, which is priceless.
Splurge: fostering a cat! Before I left for New York, I noticed the local animal shelter had put out an emergency call for fosters due to the extreme rain and weather we've been having. I've thought about fostering before, and the time seemed right to step in and help out my community. I filled out the paperwork and brought home an adorable senior cat named Maggie—I refer to her as Margaret Catwood. She's been with me for a week, and it's going to be SO HARD to let her go! She's so calm and sweet with my dog (who is terrified of cats), she's curious, and loves to cuddle and be patted. Even though fostering is free, and the shelter pays for her prescription food and medical care, I still needed to purchase some basic things for her to be settled. I already had a cheap litterbox I ordered from Amazon, but I had to buy litter, litterbox liners, litter mat, a brush, a bowl, a collar, and a tag. I also bought her a simple toy which she ended up not liking, so I'm going to donate it to the shelter. The benefit to buying these things is that they are one time purchases, and I can reuse them for any other cats I foster, but it was a bit of an unexpected expense especially considering my trip to NYC. Luckily, since I was so economical on my trip, the extra $60 I needed for these supplies was already in my budget! Plus, helping out an animal in need brings me so much joy and makes me feel connected to my community. Senior cats are awesome guys! So much personality and love but with way smaller demands on your time and energy. Adopt senior cats and dogs!
Save: healing spells and crystal pendants! Since starting therapy, I've really been focusing on healing magic and grounding myself through crystals. I am quite crafty by nature, and I used to make jewelry much more often when I still lived at home. I've made several crystal pendants using stones I already owned, or purchasing the very cheap $1 raw specimens from the local rock shop. I stockpile craft supplies, so I already had some cord, and I managed to find a huge roll of lovely gray string at a local creative reuse store for $1. I've made four necklaces so far and the cost per necklace is a whopping $1.33. Crazy how my new favorite jewelry costs less than $2, when some of my other favorite pieces from a once-local designer run more than $50! As far as healing spells go, I've been relying heavily on the big bag of calendula I got three months ago for $3 at a Pittsburgh magick shop. Calendula mixed with salt and sage is a simple but very gently powerful healing mixture than can be burned, scattered, or mixed into a jar spell for all kinds of intentions. Most recently, I mixed a jar spell with the above ingredients and added a pinch of hair from my healthy and thriving dog to promote healing and recovery for a fellow witch's canine familiar. Calendula can also be made into tea or tinctures to treat physical ailments, but since my healing spells have had a mental and emotional focus lately, I've been using it in a purely symbolic way which allows me to use much less than I would need if I were making a tea. It's been really nice to focus on my existing ingredients and expanding my grimoire rather than doing research and coveting a wider variety of harder to get (and therefore more expensive) ingredients. It plays into my waste-less outlook I've adopted with my food and groceries, and helps me ward off the consumeristic tendencies I often rely on to avoid my anxiety and depression.
I have no more travel in my immediate future and life in general is starting to slow down a bit, and I welcome the respite! I feel like I've been moving at a breakneck pace the pace few weeks, both at work and in my personal life, and I am looking forward to having some down time to think about all my recent experiences and what they mean to me. I might even get a chance to make a dent in the giant pile of library books I have sitting on my coffee table!