Ha! I just Googled: How many weeks are there in a year? and it came back with 52 weeks and change. Hilarious, I passed my year mark two weeks ago and didn’t even realize it. I thought it was 54…or that was the number in my head. So here we are, a whole year has rolled around, and what have I learned from this self-imposed challenge?
I’ve realized that the need to shop is truly an illness in our culture. Not to judge everyone else, since this was just about me, but I’ve seen the same struggle going on for many of my friends. I’ve always considered myself to be one who is not susceptible to marketing, (my mom trained me from an early age to be really, really skeptical of advertising ) and yet, I am very much a product of my culture (those wily advertisers/marketers!), and unfortunately our Western culture is based around consumption, to the detriment of all.
I can’t say with any certainty that this year-long exercise has saved me any money. I do know that living the life style that we do (ie living in NorCal with two young kids, a single income, with a house and two cars ) there are expenses that are not going away. Unless we move to a shack in the woods, we will not be free of the cycle of earning and spending. We need to spend in order to maintain what we have. I’m okay with that, I like my life and lifestyle. I have also learned that,without a doubt, complete austerity/conservatism when it comes to spending only leads to backlash: I build up my need to spend and it eventually boils over.
I have also come to appreciate how fortunate we are.
The struggles of this year, to clear my head of the useless search for things, to stop spending just to spend and stressing from the resulting clutter and the attempt to de-clutter…all of this is first world problems. I always keep that in mind. And with all that has happened in this year of insane politics, this exercise has almost lost its meaning.
But I do want to acknowledge myself for making this effort. The pay-off has been great, even if it is hard to measure:
One thing that stands out ( and my Mother-in-Law confirms) is that my kids no longer expect us to shop for things. We shop for groceries, but that’s all the shopping my kids see. We have chosen playing outside, at museums, libraries, and parks over shopping. My kids have been instrumental in helping me overcome my desire for things. When I put them and their needs first, we always end up doing something fun rather than wandering the endless, fluorescent aisles of yet another store. My kids, amazing beings that they are, have for the moment, been de-consumerized (not a word, I know, but fitting).
Another change is that I now am equipped with a “Slow-it-down-and-think” process that helps me eliminate about 80% of the things I consider buying. “Is this love” introduced to me by a friend is a great question that has served me well when considering any purchase.
I have not in any way felt deprived this whole year. I have everything that I need and more. I have just learned to eliminate the excess spending and the resulting stress/depression of over consumption.
I am by no means cured. I still have my moments of desire and want. Yet I am more able to continue to talk myself down, to consider the necessity, to come up with alternative ways to sate the desire to acquire. Sometimes just simply looking at the things I DO have is enough. Definitely a tidying session in my cluttered house is a definite if temporary cure.
The change has not been necessarily very visible, but the impact on our family is large. Or, at least, I think so, though my husband has stayed completely and blissfully unaware of any of my efforts and has not once read a single blog entry of mine. Lol. C’est la vie!
And now what? Will I, at the finale of this year-long challenge, go out on a wild spending spree?
Naw. More likely I will continue to maintain, as best I can; to stay vigilant so as not to slide back into my former ways of consuming mindlessly to fill a void.
So, what happens to this blog space?
I have an idea.
What has been brewing over the course of this year of self analysis and deeper seeking, is the desire to reconnect with my spiritual center.
Part of spending needlessly is the want to fill a void. Needless spending is an empty practice that is cyclical and un-ending. In trying to break that cycle I had to delve deeper to the root causes of disquiet and state of dissatisfaction. What is in that void? I’ve been standing at the edge of something big, hesitant to make the jump.
Now I’m ready to go deeper. I want to be the person and live the life I can envision for myself but haven’t managed to become or do yet. I want to be, in all aspects, more conscious.
And so, I propose that this 365shoppingdetoxblog become a detox from our toxic world of brain-dead smart-phone over-usage, media barrages, over-sharing sharing apps and the constant need for feedback, of acceptance and acknowledgement. I want to go deep and find the core of me that requires nothing but itself. I want to be a better person, more loving, generous, empathetic, thoughtful. I want to be all of these things for me and my family. No more of this in-out of who I am. I want to firmly be me in my centered and best state.
What does that mean?
It’s going to take a lot. I’ve been mulling over the changes that I will need to make in order to make this a reality.
I don’t plan on blogging as regularly as every week; it would be counter to my need to lighten my use of media, but I will regularly check-in and report on my plans and implementation of them.
More to come!
Blessings. Thank you for following my journey!
PS. That last useless splurge-impulse-buy, that ukulele I got off of Amazon? I LOVE that thing. I’ve happily been playing for a year, teaching myself bit by bit; first as proof that my last splurge would not become another useless relic, now as a happy addiction. I’m going to be a ukulele rock-star, just you wait!