When You Have Less You Appreciate More

I’ve learned to keep my expectations low since we moved here.

We have a farmer’s market once a month and the first time I went to it I was brimming with excitement and even had a grocery list. I imagined I’d be able to stock up on loads of local produce and goodies. I had my big city brain turned on.

When I arrived and there were just a few tables set-up: one for a local vegetable producer, another for jams and honey, one for dog biscuits and a butcher. I bought kale, carrots and onions, a pork roast, local honey and local organic free range eggs. Not the bounty I was hoping for but enough for a few meals.

It took a few months but I adjusted my expectations about the services and goods I could expect on the island. Our first few run-ins with outages at the grocery store, no chicken or no bananas, made me put my adaptable chef hat on. The other day there was no sour cream at the Marks & Spencer’s. A while back I was craving chicken wings but had to hunt around for a butcher that sold them. I found them but they weren’t the same cut you would get in North America: it was a full wing with tip attached.

Even the indoor play centre is run differently that it would be at home. Maybe it’s the relaxed West Coast attitude in Vancouver but most of our play centres run on a drop-in basis. Over here it’s in one hour sessions and when they blow the whistle your kid has to get out of the ball pit pronto.

There are lots of festivals and events on the island that we enjoy going to but my big city friends, and my big city brain, wouldn’t be impressed by them. They’re usually quite small and have local talent. There’s a vibrant music scene here but I’ve never heard of any of the bands or artists before. Most of the fairs or events have the same two fun rides at them: the carousel swing and a bouncy castle.

Having fewer options, and less available, has made me appreciate what we do have more.

The other weekend we went to the Southern Agricultural Fair near Castletown. Friends had told us it would be good fun, or good “crack” as they say, for the kids.

We took the train down and then walked over to the field it was set-up in. I hoped there was at least an hour’s worth of things for us to see or we’d be taking Henry back to a park to play as we waited for the next train home.

The fair was beyond what I hoped for. There were loads of farm animals out for children to feed and pet, a fun fair section full of rides I had never seen before, a large arena for shows, vintage tractors and sheep races. We spent a long afternoon wandering around and got sunburns. Henry fed goats and watched chickens and petted donkeys. He ran around with some of his little friends and saw a bee hive. It was a fabulous day and we didn’t even see all of the fair.

City me wouldn’t have been that impressed with the fair. I would have appreciated it and been happy to see Henry interacting with the animals, but it would have been just another event. There is so much for families in Vancouver: music festivals, the Aquarium, the Planetarium, Stanley Park, huge community outdoor pools and the list goes on.

Here on the island we have less choice. There’s almost always something on every weekend but it’s usually just one thing.

I’m thankful for this move overseas and this chance to live in a smaller town. It’s teaching me to appreciate what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. Hopefully I can hold onto to that mindset when we move back to a bigger city some day.

Heading over to London for the Olympics and will be away for the rest of the week. Won’t be able to respond to or approve comments. Back Monday. Go Canada and go Team GB!!

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  • I felt the same way when we moved to Savannah, GA from NYC, but like you I loved it. There were still most of the things you wanted (great coffee shop, beautiful park, excellent children’s section in the library), but there was just one or two of each of those things instead of 20-100. As long as the quality is still there, the quantity doesn’t really matter. Now, we could use an amazing breakfast place. I really miss an awesome breakfast or brunch in NYC or San Francisco! We’ve gotten pretty great at making the perfect eggs and breakfast fare at home now though.

  • Thanks so much for this post- I really needed it this week! We are preparing to move from Atlanta, GA to Chattanooga, TN. Not necessarily comparable to your Vancouver-Isle of Man move, but we are going from a city of 5M to a city of 350k. Still plenty of opportunities for our family, but not the ridiculous bounty of offerings we have in a bigger city. That’s actually part of our motivation to move- a less hectic life. Still, an adjustment nevertheless.

  • It’s funny because as you describe your new home with less, it has so much in comparison to what we have where I live!! That farmers market sounded plentiful in comparison! So no matter what you have, it could always get even more minimal. Cherish everything.

  • Insightful post, as always. :)
    Out of curiosity, something fun is spelled “craic” in Ireland and N. Ireland. Is it spelled differently on the Isle?

  • It is all relative, isn’t it? I moved from a small community in Nunavut (1,200) to Yellowknife (20,000); so I’m enjoying what’s offered here. Used to live in a larger city (Halifax) but this is the size I am comfortable with and I think that’s what is important.

  • This is very true! Appreciating the smaller pleasures in life sometimes takes a while but it is so worth it. It’s good that you are able to move between the two mindsets!

  • “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” Socrates (as quoted last week on The Frugal Girl).
    Mainland UK has many more options, but I rather like the sound of the IOM way of life!
    One area, for me, where less definitely makes you appreciate what you have more – is food . Which in my book is a good thing!

  • It sounds like you’re finding lots of to love 😉 I’ve always lived in a larger city, so I am not sure how I would adjust in that situation. I enjoy going with Brian to visit his family in Gibsons BC, but even though that is not super small, it annoys me that I can’t find staples I like, like jasmine rice or BBQ pork.

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