Week 24: A Temple Rubber

Week 24: A Temple Rubber

By temple rubber, I don’t mean prophylactics (what would that even do?). I mean, I need to rub my temples in consternation as I try to figure this out.

A relatively easy week; I stayed distracted with lots of play dates, most of them at our place, far from any temptations. I don’t even think I opened my laptop more than once, so no online shopping to speak of. I did go on a thrift store expedition in an attempt to find gear for redecorating my toddlers room on a budget (that was a wash) and to get some basics for fall, but more on that later.

The thing that has me rubbing my temple is this: I had an amazing camping weekend with my family on the coast. The weather could not have been any more spectacular.The girls were having so much fun and at their best, so stimulated by the sights and sounds. My hubs and I felt so good we kept looking at each other with a sparkle in our eyes, flirty like we were when we started dating. And in a moment of happiness, looking at my girls rolling in the salty sand, watching my hubby dip his toes in the freezing ocean, seeing my mother and father-in-law enjoying their grand-kids, I felt euphoric. And in that height of euphoria (…I could have missed it, but I’m sensitized to it these days )…I thought about buying a new wardrobe!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Yes, as I looked at my family and felt content, I wanted to celebrate by buying new clothes. Where in the HECK does that come from?

After that moment, all I could do was wrack my brain for an explanation. What is it that equates contentment and happiness, with consumerism?! What the F#@*%? Why can’t I control it? I mean, I didn’t run out and physically follow through, but just the fact that this crossed my mind, right at that awesome moment is…baffling…preposterous…embarrassing…

Ok, the exact thought wasn’t: I need a new wardrobe. The thread was, ‘this is amazing, the sun feels so good, we need to do this more often, N is so happy, so are the kids, and they are so darn cute I can’t stop taking pictures, I need to really soak this moment up, and I feel really  good, I am getting really fit from doing barre class, it would feel good to have some high quality clothes that really fit my figure…’

blablabla. You kind of get the idea. It’s really hard to pin down the exact thoughts, but I did catch the moment it turned to consumerism. WHY!??!?! Will I ever be free of this?

Was I freezing and in need of more layers? No. Had I perhaps forgotten an item of clothes at home that I needed, like, say, pants? No. I purely just wanted something new.

Maybe it was the sun and the surf, it reminded me of a catalogue for LLBean or something. Maybe I thought I was a model in the catalogue with my beautiful family and likened our beauty to a picture repleat with great clothes…? Gah. Such a stretch. Maybe the sun just got to my head, period.

Simply put, the euphoria of the moment chemically equaled the brief euphoria I feel when I buy new clothes.

Yet, quantifiably they are not the same. One is wholesome, heart based, real stuff. The other is…false, a shell of a promise of attractiveness, a passing love affair that ends with the purchase. 

That is probably the reason I feel so bummed. Am I really as shallow as all that?

I’m still mulling it all over. I would love to hear any insights someone else might have, please do comment below!

So…I went thrifting. This is inherently a dangerous proposition because I am a collector at heart. However, since starting this challenge I have managed to repress the urge to collect (though I am always still looking) and have used the thrift stores to acquire necessities for the family. Clothes, toys, household items. My aunt is a thrift store genius. She has the mojo, not only will she find something great, she’ll also find it at it’s deepest discounted price. In the past we have been known to thrift together for the entire day, barely eating or looking at the clock. Those days are over though, now that I have kids in tow. There just so happens to be a great thrift store called Eco Thrift close to her, so last week we paid it a little visit. I wanted bedding and an area rug for my kiddo as she transitions into sleeping in her own room at night, I want it to be her little haven. Unfortunately it was not in the cards. Rarely do I find the thing I am looking for. But, I did find a handful of amazing winter sweaters for her in her new size, I found a larger cooler/picnic bag that I’ve been looking out for for a while, we got a few kids books (the one thing I think we can never have too much of), a large picnic blanket (something we use ALL the time), and a shirt and sweater for myself. A quilt for my baby’s bed to cozy it up as the weather gets cooler. A S’well water bottle that normally retails around $25 for just $2. I walked out with what looked like a santa sack full of gear, for $35. Nothing was frivolous, all went into immediate use. I think I was successful.

The only down side of buying anything, even if needed, is it triggers the shopper in me. I have been thinking about other things I want…possibly need. But, so long as they remain thoughts, I am still on the right side of it all.

So, that’s it. Please give me your thoughts. Thanks.

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Week 23: Vive La Resistance!

Week 23: Vive La Resistance!

I want to keep this as brief as possible because I have a few hours to myself, and rather than just blogging, I want to try to paint. But I do have something to report this week:

My puffy jacket arrived in the mail. Yes, the one I bought on-line after many attempts at trying to not do so. Well, it arrived and I was pretty excited. I anxiously unwrapped it and tried it on…and it fit horribly! It looked great on my body but the arms were way too wide.

So, I returned it. I didn’t even dick around with sending it back. I was on my way to somewhere with the kids and I veered off to return it to the physical store. I did wander around the store and try on a few puffy’s there…all ludicrously expensive and out of my league. Resisting them was not hard. I walked out of there with nothing except the $145 dollars I had spent, back on my card.

And folks, I considered returning to those websites to peruse for another deal. But I didn’t. The thrill is gone. I feel quite silly actually. I have been wearing the “ill fitting” puffy I already possess…and quite frankly, it is warm, it does it’s job…and I can’t see myself unless I look in the mirror, so I just won’t! Problem solved. Ill fitting or not, I am using it because I have it. End of story.

Our family hangs at the precipice of massive changes in our lives. We are most likely going all-in on a property on which we will build a new wood shop for Glenn Pope Woodworking. This is serious business. I shouldn’t say more, because it’s not really for me to tell at this point. Also, we still are dealing with trying to get our medical insurance claim processed to get back the large sum of money we paid to CHEO when C was ill in Canada. It’s a bit of a nightmare…but again, I will not go on about that too much.

Simply put, as far as spending is concerned, this is no longer just a personal challenge, this has direct impact on the whole family. I need to use what I have and be conservative with what we need. Are we watered and fed? That is the main thing, and all else is extraneous.

I need to get over myself and my wants. They are not important. I am not defined by what I possess. My happiness does not hinge on what I possess. I am not more attractive as the result of my possessions. Others’ opinions of me are not formed by what I possess…and if they do, then I need new friends! Lol!

That’s it. That’s all I have to say. I need to go paint.

 

Week 22: The Lure of Online Shopping

Week 22: The Lure of Online Shopping

For the third week in a row I end up posting on Monday instead of Sunday. The slow slide…

I will aim to be back on track with the Sunday posts, I promise.

 

For the most part, this challenge to not spend needlessly has started to feel more natural. Perhaps it is because I have found a balance, finally, between complete austerity and over indulgence. I know I am doing well when I feel neither deprived nor guilty.

This week I thought I did rather well. The cure of having focused on de-cluttering stuck with me for well over half the week. I focused on getting the kids out doing things and on me making sure I was meeting up with mama’s with whom I could happily shoot the shit – essential for a happy emotional state. I’ve also been hitting the Dailey Method studio three times a week; and though it costs me, it is an investment I (if not my hubby) am happy to make. I am getting super strong, healing my diastasis recti, and gaining energy from it to help me though my busy child centered days. It’s also an added bonus that some of the physical changes are visible, which is very encouraging!

And I would have gotten through this week with nary a spending temptation, had it not been for a brief conversation with my hubby in which I told him my mom was sending me my puffy down vest and coat back to me (I forgot both back in Canada this past visit) and he said “Oh, we need to get you a good puffy. That one doesn’t fit right”.

Uh oh. A hubby sanctioned purchase?! And I am sorry, but my husband’s opinion on how I dress has always affected me. His appraisal of my ill-fitting puffy coat was a death-blow to my resolve. I know that sounds horrible, but, in the past too, if I wore an outfit I really liked and I got “the eyebrow” from the hubs, no matter how I tried to re-frame it in my head, that outfit would start to be worn less and less. Perhaps this is a blow to feminists everywhere. It certainly sounds terrible that I let someone else’s opinion on how I dress affect me. I have struggled to not care. But ultimately, folks, he is my husband. He is the one person in all the world whom I want to have look at me and still say “dang, you look good!” ( I am laughing inside, because I am pretty sure my hub’s internal dialogue has never included the word ‘dang!’). And truth be told, if anyone else were to tell me they didn’t like what I was wearing or how I looked, I would have no problem telling them where they could go.

So…with an essential blessing, and even a helping hand in finding a few sites to check out sale puffys (yes, he directed me to steep and cheap and REI Garage), I was thrown headlong into temptation central. At first I entered with caution, opening up one tab, scrolling briefly through a few options, then closing my computer. How could I buy such a big item (well over $100 on average) online? How would I know how it fit?

I was able to walk away from the idea thinking that I should go into a physical store and try out some of the big brands, like Patagonia and Marmot, before seriously looking online. Knowing how challenging it is to get to any store, let alone a store to shop for something for me with the kids in tow, I felt pretty confident this would be the block I needed to stall this venture. Then my crafty other self remembered that my sister-in-law wears these brands, and I asked to try them on when I was at her house. Oops. Now I knew exactly how they fit.

See how that works?

So now, armed with the valuable sizing info, the mystery of the online shop was not quite so mysterious, not quite so risky provided I stick with the known brands. I even have the hubs telling me I should get a Marmot because his has been great and they usual deep discount them at some point. Gaw. No help at all. And have you checked out steep and cheap? They know the ropes! The pressure of the quick, and often too hasty, decision. Deals go up on the page with a 5 minute count down. The sense of urgency grips your body as you try to research the product; is it truly cheap? Is it good quality? Do I need it? 5 minutes is not enough time to answer those questions.

I shut my computer and walked away for the day. But I kept the tabs open.

I even took a peek via my smart phone.

Finally, Sunday, I opened my computer back up. It had been a cold day. I was shivering. My mind was going to the camping trip we are going on in two weeks. I thought, well, I could just wear my old puffy, to heck with fit…but then the hubs will say something maybe…or I’ll know he’s thinking it. I bet a new puffy would have better fill…It would feel so good to be cozy…

Folks, I tried SO hard. I resisted and resisted but that nagging temptation monster kept rearing its head.

I even told myself that, because we had gone on a date night that I initiated, that money for the puffy was now gone, gone, gone. Too bad, so sad, wasn’t that date night worth it? Yet still, on Sunday night, I selected a blue Marmot down coat, 35% off on REI Garage, and I clicked that buy button.

My only possible reprieve is that REI has a 100% money back guarantee…precisely one of the reasons I bought it from there. But I was weak, so very weak.

And perhaps that is why I didn’t post last night, because I was too busy with the shell shock of having failed so miserably. I was in the grips of a battle; and I lost.

I’m trying to figure out what this means. I am part of a consumer culture. I am fully immersed in it. I am definitely not impervious to it. If I somehow manage to walk away from spending, I seem to inevitably return.

On a deeper level, what does this indicate? Why does the thought of something new make me feel like I’m receiving a reward; and choosing to use the old feels like, well, like impoverishment or lack. It sounds absolutely ludicrous. Especially when all I have to do is look up from this screen and see the wealth of things I posses. My generation (this is a generalization) has no idea what true need is. We are surrounded by stuff and yet we want more.

Yes, the ultimate dream for me is to have a home full of only the items I use on a regular basis, with a home for each and every item. In my closet, only the highest quality and/or most loved items I choose to wear on a regular basis. I could say that this puffy is an investment piece, because, truly, the other puffy is dead to me…but am I fooling myself? Is this just a clever trick my mind plays to justify? Because it can go both ways, it could be that I am just helping to fulfill the goal of only possessing things I truly love…or it could end up being yet another item that fills the temporary void.

Time will tell. I am hoping that, this being week 22 ( 30 more to go!) I am better equipped to figure out what is a necessary/good purchase. It ain’t over yet, I can still return it…or, at least, that’s what I am telling myself…

Week 21: The Cure

Week 21: The Cure

What is the ultimate cure for spending? Ummm…cleaning. More specifically, de-cluttering. This long weekend we had, as usual, made no plans in advance. This left us wide open to come up with some great spur of the moment activities. Being that we have had a rough week, the two of us, short on sleep and high on stress, we couldn’t think of much. Sometimes what is needed is simply time at home.

Unfortunately, time at home means looking at things more closely, aka: the mess. So, it launched us into de-clutter mode. I have been saying for months that the next de-cluttering frontier is the garage. Oh, the garage. The bane of my hubby’s existence. When I moved to California, permanently, from Ontario Canada, I brought a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that I could not get rid of, you know, the paraphernalia of personal history. Memories, in other words. I look at those unopened boxes gathering dust and I wonder why I couldn’t face de-cluttering all of those years ago when I had a chance; when each box and the amount it contained equaled a really sizable chunk of money, all sent through the mail. The cost of memories. I had a literal cost for being unable to let go.

I’ve always been a collector, but these days I am starting to change my perspective on things. I imagine us getting old, passing away and leaving this burden of earthly possessions to the kids. Who needs that? I know for a fact that I cannot bring anything physical with me when I die. What is this need to posses? What will happen to me if I don’t have all this stuff? And most importantly, if I do get rid of something meaningful, and I do, in the future have a pang of regret…what does that do to me? Really. And what will I gain in terms of mental emotional/clarity when I don’t have all of this stuff lingering around, cluttering my life?

Ultimately, that pang of regret is a transient feeling. It will not affect who I am nor the life I am living, nor the memories I carry with me. The pangs we have for physical things, the nostalgia, it’s just that: nostalgic feelings that can be felt, observed and let go of. 

I sound so confident and zen, don’t I?  In actuality, this is the ultimate challenge for me. I managed to empty quite a few boxes and send some things off either to the dump or the thrift store, but there are boxes I have designated my “search my heart” boxes. I will have to tackle each and every item in them and really honestly answer the questions: do I need this? Will I use this? Is this necessary? And, most importantly, is this an item of joy or a burden? If it’s a burden, I need to let it go, no matter what it is, no matter how personally historical.

One of the hardest thing for me is photographs. What to do with this precious documentation. To destroy it seems to be sacrilege. Yet, of all the things I possess it seems to be the biggest burden. The burden of a reluctant archivist. I do not possess the interest, time, or ability to organize and store all of it properly, so it weighs on my mind. I have to ask the questions: For whom are these photos? Will these photos be viewed? Will they be of value to anyone other than myself? Do I simply need one photo or the negatives too? The negatives are the DNA of the photo, yet they are inherently set to decompose, break down which, if I’m honest, is a source of anxiety for me too (this is proof of my existence, when we are all dust, there will be no record). Until such time as they are no longer viable, what will I do with them, can I let them go?! Would the regret of letting them go eat me up inside?

When I was younger, I actually thought that perhaps, one day, I might really make something of myself. Enough so that someone might be interested in my personal history. My ego-self envisioned that all the stuff I’d collected was like my personal museum, my biography, some day, long from now, someone would find my stuff and think it was gold, would gleefully delve into it all and glean something of my personality and life, a museum could be set up dedicated to my creative life. I am laughing so hard. And I am also so sad. The death of dreaming and the onset of reality and the likelihood of a lovely yet unremarkable, decidedly non celebrity life. Don’t get me wrong:

I love my life. I am just, probably, not the stuff of legend.

So there will be soul searching and brutal honesty in my future…when I get a chance. With kids, those chances seem to be few and far between. Ultimately that might help me be more swiftly decisive and brutal.

I turn to you, my lovely community: how do you deal with your personal artifacts? What can you let go of? What do you find you must keep and why?