This recession has done a lot to a lot of people mostly downsizing. When people find they are upside down in their houses they walk away. Not like in the 70's when people hung on for dear life, thinking and knowing and believing that one day their property would be worth more. And it was. A four bedroom home purchased in 1970 for 40,o00 would no DOUBT even in this recession be worth more. But these are different times. At a peak value of 600,000 to 700,000 homeowners pulled out value from their houses like candy and spent it. Spent it how ? Spent it where? On intangible good and services like vacations, groceries and babysitting. Some people did it backwards, using the house to pay off a truck. As if the interest on a thirty year loan represented some kind of savings over the interest on a five year loan.

At any rate the money is gone. People pout unable to understand how having received the money once already they can't have it again when they go to sell. Credit report rating be damned! Americans are mad as hell and they are walking about from their mortgages. Scaling down, retreating to quieter simpler lives in droves. Many have scaled back the number of times they eat out. Families are getting to know each other. The lost art of entertaining oneself is a fine art to cultivate.

When I grew up my parents traveled a lot. Traveling in a strange country makes TV, if it exists, a dull prospect because it is in a foreign language. My brothers and I created endless ways to entertain ourselves most of which were free many inexpensive. I am not sorry we all have this skill. From people watching to conversation, self entertainment is wonderful. For one thing, it is always under your control. You never have to be bored or lonely again. IF you are lonely, talk to strangers. Most people like to talk if you make eye contact, follow with a firm handshake, and have something of interest to say.

Be willing to try new things: I saw people playing chess in the park, and found it was refreshingly easy to get into a game. Soccer clubs and softball for grown ups abound. Not too co-ordinated? Join a hiking club. Or buy a good pair of sneakers and start jogging. Your heart will love you for it. Go places in nature, just to commune. These days every cell phone is a camera too - find your eye. Find your heart.
Photography is just a step away from sketching and painting. Take a pad and a number two pencil for hours of fun. Notice the light and darkness. Slow down.

Many museums and galleries are free, some have nominal fees, some have a time of month when they are free. Expand your knowledge base. I found after watching the fish in the aquarium that owning a tank could be a fun hobby. It was comparatively speaking one of the more expensive hobbies I ever had, which is not saying much. You can find tanks at yard sales or start with a small fish bowl and work your way up as you get more into the sport. It actually lowers blood pressure to watch them swim back and forth.

The lost art of conversation: talk to people, then listen. It's as simple as that and as fascinating as that. Everybody has a story. Ask open ended questions. Most people at least like to talk about themselves or their kids. Read magazines and books form opinions. Find people with ideas. Connection is only as deep as you are.