I did not participate in Black Friday this year. Oldest DD and I did go out shopping on Friday morning to buy some yarn for her Christmas gifts (she’s crocheting little purses for her cousins and some fabulous shawls for her grandmothers — and me, I hope). We also went to the little second-hand shoe store and got some boots to replace some that were worn out. We shopped leisurely (more people than usual at the craft store, but far enough away from the mall to avoid serious crowding) and enjoyed a decadent coffee while we were out. We were home in time for lunch and went to work balling yarn (me and youngest DD) and crocheting (her). I count all of these things as SUCCESS for me in the pursuit of semi-minimalism.
We ended up spending the rest of the day lounging on the couch with these projects while watching several episodes of “Bones” … our new favorite TV show. (Prior to getting our AppleTV, we hadn’t watched TV shows in about ten years, so we have an almost unlimited source of commercial-free television shows we can watch.) The day was enjoyable, and yet …
I feel like a slug for just sitting around. I’m used to the busy-ness of all those “errands” I used to run and feeling the sense of accomplishment from finding just the right thing(s) or getting a great deal. My feet would hurt from all of that walking around and I would be tired from a hard day “out there.”
So now what do I do with my time that will make me feel like I’ve accomplished something?
One of the first things I did as a commitment to the earth (almost ten years ago?) was to minimize my use of paper products. So over the years I’ve accumulated a LOT of cloth napkins and naturally, I maintain seasonal variety (which will be the topic of a separate post). I have a family of four and my signature accent color is red. So as I went through the stack this morning, I wondered what I must have been thinking when I bought the robins-egg blue napkins. And then I remembered that one year I “Summer-ized’ the house by replacing the red (pillows, throws and area rug) with this shade of blue. So as I think about it, I realize that I not only have these blue napkins in the kitchen, but I have blue pillows, a blue throw and some sea shells in a closet somewhere too.
Once I made this realization, my first instinct was that I had better keep these napkins just in case I want to Summer-ize again in the future.
Then I recalled a conversation I was having with my oldest daughter yesterday about the abundance of clothes that she has and she said that many of the items she didn’t actually like anymore but she kept them just in case she changed her mind again in the near future because she had already regretted some of her decluttering choices.
And what I really heard from her was that she was afraid that if she regretted getting rid of something, she wouldn’t be able to get it back or replace it. While this might be more understandable for a a teenager with limited sources of income, I think my own fears are not valid and need to be faced. I heard Debbie Ford say once that “Faith and fear cannot coexist.” and I need to remember (for myself) and demonstrate (for my family) my trust and faith that whatever I need will be provided.
How about you? What do you keep just in case and what process do you follow to let go of your fear?
The living room I'd like to have!
The Christmas decorations are out in the mall (our weekly tutoring for DDs is in a local Panera at the mall) and I’ve already received “What do you want for Christmas?” questions from my family. My first answer is a resounding, “NOTHING!” but I realize that my own desire to get rid of excess does not diminish my family’s desire to be on the giving end (and frankly, I really enjoy being on the giving end myself!). My family has established certain traditions as well:
- an annual tree trimming party (excess in it’s glory with all of the craft supplies and paint that get bought and put out so that people can make big messes making ornaments of their own pictures to put on our tree — not to mention the 17-years-worth of past ornaments that are stored as a result);
- a skiing trip (more excess with the ski paraphernalia bought and stored); and
- stocking stuffers for all of the extended family members (this one is my favorite to give because you can really get funny and creative, but the net result is more tchotchkes, usually from China).
Oh and did I mention decorations?! I have a “control journal” (ala Flylady) specifically for the holidays with pictures of all of the decorations I have and where I like them (smart, huh? allows DH and DDs to decorate, but to my taste! LOL).
I’ve tried to subtly suggest to my teenage daughters that we scale back — have a holiday open house instead of a tree-trimming party? So far the answer has been a definite, “No!” but they are very supportive of making sure that the traditions we keep are meaningful and over recent years we’ve tried to give gifts that reflect our own values — we make gifts (felt flower barrettes, crocheted scarves) and limit our purchases to the little mom-and-pop shops on Main Street whenever possible. We’ve also adopted “experience” gifts within our family (hence the ski trip) and focus on celebrating the holidays with candlelight tours, festivals, parades, plays or concerts.
SO, in my quest for semi-minimalism, each tradition, gift and activity this year will continue to get questioned, but will not automatically be “de-cluttered” unless it’s agreed by the family. After all, I will have many years as an empty nester to scale back, right?
I think one of the things I enjoy most about working my way toward semi-minimalism is that I appreciate what I do have much more. This Fall, I’m really LOVING these slippers! I put them on in the morning while still in my jammies. I wear them in the car when I’m driving DD to school. I wear them when I’m working from home. I wore them this weekend while driving to Indianapolis. Perfect!
I have that little fear in the back of my head that these will wear out before the end of the cold season so I should have a backup pair. I’m choosing to have FAITH that when these wear out, I will find exactly what I need at that time. Faith and fear cannot co-exist.
Failing miserably … that’s how my stop-shopping project is going. I discovered that I really enjoy recreational shopping. I love the ideas and the possibilities! I go out on “creative excursions” to inspire myself with the latest “solutions” that have been developed for modern 1st world problems. I live in a beautiful small town with a tourist-y Main Street that has the most gorgeous window displays (definitely a rival for those on 5th Avenue!) and walking up and down and b r o w s i n g the windows is something that actually brings me great joy. With a delicious peppermint mocha in hand … even better!
Does this mean that consumerist culture is so deeply ingrained that I have to go through withdrawal? Is it possible to be someone who actually just loves merchandise and merchandising? Is there a middle way?
This is what I know: On a recent field trip to Indianapolis, I enjoyed our time at the city park more than I did the mall. The park was amazing (I LOVE the urban renewal in Indianapolis!) and I just laid out on a blanket in the sun with the cool breeze blowing and enjoyed the activity around me and the feel of the grass and wind. I loved the way our high schoolers made up various games and activities and took off their shoes and ran around without a care.
So here’s my new belief: a day at the park is better than a day at the mall.
I did some more fall decorating this weekend. I love decorating with leaves and pumpkins and gourds and sunflowers and my dream someday (when I’m Martha Stewart incarnated) is to use the real stuff (grown in my own yard and fully biodegradable of course … if we’re gonna dream, dream BIG).
Today, though, my stuff is artificial (good stuff, though — full, big and a bit dramatic). I’ve got a wreath for the front door (accented by a giant mum and two real pumpkins), two long floral picks and a table scarf for the fireplace, two mini table runners and two ceramic pumpkins with jack-o-lantern faces on one side and plain on the other.
I used to have about four times as much stuff for fall — Halloween decorations, scarecrows, etc. — but now I’m down to one good box. And my goal is to keep only what will fit in that box and what will bring my joy. Maybe someday I’ll get a smaller box.