A little fun and frivolity are essential to our wellbeing and happiness, says Penelope Wilcock

"Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.

When I read these inspirational words online (original source unknown to me), they made me smile. What a beautiful thought. It evoked a memory from more than a decade ago.

I’d been working out how much money I spent on non-essentials – going out for lunch or coffee with my family or friends, buying make-up and pretty clothes and earrings, going to the cinema; that sort of thing. When I added up how much I could save if I cut all these out and bought only the necessary basics, the total amazed me. Gasp! The money I could amass! I resolved I would do it. I would put myself on a strict essentials-only regime, and stash away everything else to create a pot of money for the future improvement of my life.

This had an immediate result. My back went into spasm. I never had back problems before. This was not the whole of my back – the dorsal region, not the lumbar region. If those anatomical technicalities are mysterious to you, let me make it simpler by saying I mean the part of my back where my wings grow from!

The spasm didn’t stop until I relented about the money, and promised myself I could continue to have an allowance for playing, for pretty things, for going out and having fun. Then I got better.

The incident reminded me of a highly responsible friend, the only child of a very demanding and fussy elderly mother. As the old lady became more querulous and petulant, very hard to satisfy, eventually my friend’s back went into spasm – the dorsal region, the bit where her wings grow.

I am not recommending that you throw all caution to the winds and run up an overdraft on costume jewellery and afternoon tea at Fortnum’s. But my experience and my friend’s helped me understand; the fun, the playtime – yes, even the complete frivolities – are not as unnecessary as first appears. They are essential to health and happiness. They allow us to open our wings in the exuberance of joy, metamorphosing into the beauty of happiness. Be good. Be responsible. But be kind to yourself too. God made you for love and compassion, but he intended you to have some freedom too, to take delight in life. Give yourself the latitude you need to spread your wings.
Three ways to flex your wings

+ Give yourself a treat
Even when money is tight and you have to be careful, award yourself a little happiness treat now and then – a pretty top at a knock-down price from eBay if the high street prices are too high; a cappuccino in a chic café if lunch out is too expensive. Girls do thrive on having fun!

+ Share an experience
Caring for our families, running a home, helping out at church and earning a living are priorities for us of course. But wise is the woman who also makes time for a romantic date with her husband or a night out with the girls; a walk by the sea, a picnic, a film enjoyed together.

+ Make time for you
In busy lives, time is on as tight a budget as money. Be generous with your time, but don’t give it all away; keep a little back to lose yourself in a good novel, take a stroll in the sunshine, enjoy a hot chocolate and a quiet time by the fireside as the evenings draw in.