One week into our no buying stuff experiment and all is well. I haven’t had any major obstacles to overcome, and have generally stayed clear of stores. I’m not an excessive shopper anyway and have definitely gone weeks before without buying things, so I expected this first couple weeks would be pretty easy.
We did have an interesting experience the very first day we were officially doing this. It helped solidify the feeling that we have more than enough stuff and made me remember the excitement of using some thought and creativity to solve problems.
Milo had just received some Pokemon cards for the holidays. It was his first set, and he was over the moon with excitement. Kids in second grade at his school trade Pokemon cards at lunch and recess. They’re a pretty big deal. He took his cards to school in a ziploc bag for one day, and after school informed me that he needed a binder for his cards so he could trade them more easily. I had seen some kids with binders of cards when I had lunch with him a couple weeks back, so I knew exactly what he was talking about. Three ring binder, Pokemon design on the front, clear plastic card holder sheets inside.When brainstorming what things I could possibly NEED this year that I couldn’t figure out how to make with items I already had at home, those clear plastic card holder sheets didn’t come to mind. Shoot.
I felt stuck for a minute. I did have binders set aside from my dest cabinet organization that I had held onto for just this type of situation…but what would I do about those sheets? It didn’t seem to make sense to have Milo wait a whole year to buy some card organizers to play with his friends at school. They maybe could count as consumables, or fall outside the lines of the experiment because I hadn’t thought of them?
But wouldn’t that negate the whole idea? Of using what we have, being creative, being grateful, being patient, and thinking outside the box?
Suddenly I remembered that Dave collected basketball and baseball cards as a kid. He had a huge binder full of cards in those little plastic sheets. And that binder was in a storage box in the closet, unopened since we moved in three years ago. Bingo.
I called Dave and confirmed that we could use a few of his old baseball card sheets for Milo’s Pokemon card binder, and then we went digging for it. Not only was it fun to put a little binder together for Milo, filling the sheets with his shiny new cards. We also loved seeing Dave’s collection, and having him show off his favorites to the boys. It was a true win-win, and I felt like the universe was confirming with that small coincidence that we were on the right track with our focus this year. I can’t wait to see what other unique experiences await as we spend a little extra time thinking outside the (Amazon shipping) box.
I’ve always loved figuring out how to make things work.
Back in the early years when Dave and I were recently married we had no money, and no extra space in our 500 square foot apartment. We made holiday decorations from printer paper, Christmas ornaments from ginger bread, borrowed (a lot of) things from our friends and family when needed, and we felt completely, utterly happy. Filled with joy, adventure, creativity and love. We were so content.
Our lean years lasted a long time. We moved back east to work through law school, lived in another couple small apartments, and on even smaller budgets. I learned to make do and make work. Some of my most creative years were lived sewing in a closet and refashioning thrift store clothes.
We never felt like we didn’t have enough. We felt our lives filled with abundance. I didn’t learn to buy holiday decorations or multiple sets of dishes or shoes, because we simply didn’t have the space to put them. We lived minimalism out of necessity. If it didn’t fit in the cupboard or budget it wasn’t welcome. We made things work because we had to.
Although we loved our life, it was exciting to move on a few years ago. We jumped with both feet into a beautiful new home and a more comfortable budget. With three kids I was busier than ever and looking for every available quick fix to ease the crazy. I’ve never felt like an excessive shopper, but I did quickly learn the value of 2 day shipping and not doing everything myself.
With more space and more money came a quick turnover of most of our belongings. We sold almost everything before moving to Texas and set up life with 1 couch, 1 mattress and 8 chairs. I was quickly overwhelmed by the need to add things to make the house feel like home. Over a couple years we quickly added more than enough, and for the last few months just about everything has been totally decorated and styled. I love it. I love our home, and yet I’ve still felt compelled to continue looking for and finding things to change about it.
Just because I can? But at the expense of feeling every so slightly discontent as I look for more or better?
I am ready to let it all rest for a bit and enjoy the space we’ve created with so much love. I could keep redesigning and redecorating and redoing it forever and ever if I let myself. This will be a nice pause.*
We could all turn over our wardrobes again and again, and so many people do! This year will be a nice chance to evaluate what we really love and what we really want. And for my growing kids a chance for me to sit down and use the talent and materials I already have to make something special for them. Yesterday before church we sat and made little clay toys because Eliot had been thinking about it ever since I asked him last week how we could make toys this year without buying anything. It was a sweet experience and a chance to be so much more present with my kids than I would be in the aisles of a store.
All this to say, I’m excited to get back to those feelings of innovation, creativity, do it myself-ness, and general contentment that were my overall feelings about life for so many years. One week down and it already feels so good.
*I do have the last couple upcoming interior projects to complete this year: Plum’s big girl bedroom, the laundry room, and the boys bathroom. I’m excited about all of them, and look forward to sharing how we did them with intention.