Ya’ll, I’m all for “less is more.” Truly, I am. I transferred my life from Texas to the Midwest several decades ago and slowly let go of mascara, hair spray, giant silver jewelry, and a sizable twang.
More recently, I have cut my kids’ toys by 75%, and no one has died (or murdered me in my sleep). In fact, I am so damn happy not to trip over toy animals and blocks every four feet that I am never going to unpack the rest of the toys that at one time, I believed they “needed.” I am slowly embracing the idea– in a real and direct way– that having less “stuff” will make space for more authentic joy for me and my whole family.
What to do with all these feelings that I used to medicate with a teeny tiny trip to Nordstrom’s Rack or TJ Maxx? The discomfort of sitting with myself instead of, say, buying new bath gel or justifying a new pair of jeans is starting to give me the jitters. And I know this spiritual lesson is really sinking in, because I am not using saving money as the motivator. I’ve tried that in the past and all my best intentions around budgeting brought success, but not the deep, all-the-way-to-my-soul kind of change I want to see in myself.
Until I really let go of using spending/acquiring as a way to hide anxiety or boredom, I didn’t understand the true cost. Take this weekend: I traveled with my whole family to Texas for my dad’s 70th birthday. NEVER EVER in my life have I returned to Texas without a suitcase full of newness– new clothes for the kiddos, new shoes for me, maybe an accessory or two to go with a new outfit. Years of buying something to spruce myself (and later my kids) up had blinded me to the underlying message: my outsides are the most important thing.
I won’t lie. My mouse hovered over hundreds of items in dozens of shopping carts before the trip. “Oh, Simon will look so cute in this shirt for the family picture.” “New shoes for Sadie– they’re on sale and they match her dress.” I resisted. I walked away. I let the coupons expire.
I showed up without anything “new” except my pedicure. Instead of making myself crazy trying to dress everyone up, I went with the assumption that we already had everything we need. That each of us is enough.
Goddamn, it almost killed me. Today, the trip is over and, looking back on it, I can say that my kids looked gorgeous to me in the clothes I’ve seen them in before. My jeans were just fine, and Sadie never put any shoes on so it’s a good thing I didn’t buy any. We went in our bare feet with our bare souls, so I know it was a victory. Not just for the bank account, but for my spirit.
Now of course I want to celebrate the victory with a new pair of True Religion jeans I saw at Nordstrom’s Rack a few weeks ago. I won’t, but the pull is there. It feels like it always will be.
Progress not perfection, people.