Who doesn’t love it when they find a pleasure that’s absolutely free? Not only do I know I’ve treated myself to something wonderful, I feel very clever about it, which makes me feel, well, rich. And that is the whole point of my philosophy of living like a millionaire on a retirement budget.

Sunshine Tea

The weather for making sun tea has rolled around. As in, ice tea powered by the almighty sun. Yes, the sun will do this for you as a gift!

In the morning, I fill a lovely carafe with beautiful clear water and float in some lovely herbal tea bags, or even loose tea. It could be white pomegranate, lemon ginger, peppermint, chamomile – whatever is your favorite. I place the pitcher in the sunshine and hire time and the sun to do their work, for free.

In a few hours, I have a beautiful infusion of crystal clear herbal tea powered by the sun’s energy. I put the pitcher in the refrigerator and I cannot tell you how marvelous it tastes later on in the day.

I love knowing that I didn’t spend a cent turning on the stove or kettle, that I used natural energy to accomplish my super-saturated, solar energy infusion. Sunshine tea feels infused by the mystical power of the universe.

If you don’t live in a super sunny place, put your pitcher of water on a windowsill where some sunlight will hit at some point in the day. Time is your bigger ally here, and it will still work. Now, speaking of tea…

A Tea Vacation

When is a cup of tea more than just a cup of tea? When you use it as a moment, an event, a ritual.

There are two ways to drink tea. One is as a beverage to accompany a meal like breakfast or lunch. The other way to “have a cup of tea” involves something like a tea ceremony. That’s when you ritualize it to become a sacred moment of communion with yourself or a friend.

A mid afternoon tea break envelopes me in a blanket of my own thoughts and dreams. It’s a mind vacation, a soul vacation, a refreshment spa. It is a sacred time to sit with my thoughts and write in my journal.

The steaming tea creates a cloud pocket of time: gentle, contemplative, nurturing, inspiring – all at the same time.

Reading Aloud

When we were children, we were read to – hopefully. We loved being read to, we begged for it. It was our way of being close to our parent while entering a private world of our own thoughts and fantasies. Being read to developed our own mind’s eye as we went on the journey inspired by words.

Then we became parents, and we read to our children. I recall such intimate times with my children, one on each side, at a beach condo where there was no television. This is where I got my children hooked on reading. We would lie in bed during the hottest afternoon hours when the sun was impossible to be in.

I had one child on each side of me, and we read Goosebumps. Oh the journeys we went on! I relish the memory of feeling their small bodies next to mine, hearing their breathing as they were lost in the words, creating images in their minds.

Reading aloud to adults can have the same effect. Reading aloud is something people don’t do anymore. We see it done in movies placed in times past, as it used to be an evening pastime, an evening entertainment.

Someone would read aloud to the present company. Often there was a nightly reading of chapters until a book was finished and another one began.

Being read to is one of the kindest things I can imagine. It is something so powerful, so sexy, so calming, so inspirational. Reading aloud to someone is intimate. You feel special and close, like you’ve shared a magical secret. It is a huge gift to read aloud to someone, and to spend time together like this.

Poetry Is Perfect

Poetry is especially good to read aloud. Read slowly, calmly. Let the words sink in. Then read the poem again so you know what’s coming, so you can enjoy the words a second, or third time around.

Discuss the poem. Poems are for dissecting, probing, exploring. Live in a poem. When you read aloud, you share a memorable ‘moment.’

A Performance Piece

Memorize something, and yes, that’s an order. Or rather, it’s a very polite, respectful request. You’ll thank me for it. A Shakespeare sonnet is good. A Mary Oliver poem works as well. It could be any passage of literature you love.

This is a tiny bit of effort with undiscovered rewards. It’s even fun as you challenge yourself to commit something to memory. It’s also great for convincing yourself you don’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s. You’ll feel great when you conquer it.

Here’s the thing. This is a totally cool, priceless gift, not only for others, but for yourself, too! Then watch what happens.

When you memorize something you have a party piece a performance piece – forever. You can stand up and declaim, entertain, inspire. You feel great, and people love it! It’s a real life enhancer. You’re oh so special, and all you did was memorize a nice passage that you really like.

I’ll put on my thinking cap – remember those? – and think about some more free life enhancers to share with you another day. While I’m at it, Sixty and Me is a terrific life enhancer and it’s free. Thank you, Margaret Manning! Carry on beautiful friends!

What are some things in your life that you enjoy and which cost you absolutely nothing? What life enhancing gifts do you enjoy in your life? Have you put a cool passage to memory? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments box below – it’s where the fun is! Let your voice be heard.

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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