Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

Guilty Pleasure’s Annoying Cousin

Christmas time can be the discount bin of emotions.  There is the occasional gem but there is a lot of stuff that is no bargain. Yes I am talking about the neon leg warmers of feelings, guilt. In recent years I’ve been a little more savvy in my approach to my finances for Christmas.  I put aside a set amount a month and create a budget.  By Christmas time I know what I have to spend on everything from gifts, food, travel and clothes.  Since I know the amount I will have, my brain has a framework and things seem to slide in rather neatly.  That is the financial side.  The other part, the emotions thing, can occasionally grinch it all up for me.  It doesn’t just leave me with a curled lip patting my little dog while looking down on Whoville.  It tends to push me down the mountain and bundle me in any layers of guilt I might roll across. In the past the temptation was to spend without a budget because I didn’t have any money anyways.  Excellent logic.  Now the temptation is to purchase that one extra thing.  I say I do this because I want to give and that is true.  I say that those I love are worth it.  They are but honestly I also want to feel good and pretend that I’m not as pinched as I am.  Gift giving season makes me think about my finances and I don’t want to.  Worse I do not want anyone else to know that I cannot buy them the ultra deluxe turnip twaddler with the GPS feature.  This is when the worst of the guilt appears. It is the irrational guilt, the things over which I have no control, the things I should not carry, that jumps right into my shopping cart.  This is the big ticket item. Out of anything you pick up this season this is the one you cannot afford.  You have to put it back.

The real harm in this sort of guilt is that it usually brings its seedy little friend judgement.  We label ourselves for things that are out of our control.  I feel guilty for not being able to live up to some artificial standard. I feel I have failed and it must be my fault.  Rationally I know this is not true and it is this truth that has to guide my feelings and behaviour.  I have to switch from distorted thinking to accurate thinking.  A great blog post on doing this is Renee Jain’s                                     http://blogs.psychcentral.com/stress-better/2014/11/forget-positive-thinking-try-this-to-curb-teen-anxiety For this Christmas season I want us all to receive the gift of freedom from unreasonable guilt, the freedom from judgement that should have never been.

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Sept. 15th Here there be dragons

I’ll admit it.  I’m finding that decluttering, saving money, simplifying, and trying to make things by hand do not all play nicely together

Doing it yourself can end up being much more expensive than buying a finished product.  Is saving money more important than shopping for local produce?  Is it better to thin out the wardrobe to live simply or keep the old clothes to save money?  That last question assumes that the clothes you let go of will ever see the light of day but who knows.  The gingham taffeta bridesmaid’s dress with the football player shoulder pads might one day be a big fashion hit, besides, it was stinking expensive. Those Hammer pants in leopard print could be adorable throw pillows. Maybe. OK lets skip that one, but it shows the problem. To declutter you get rid of the pants. If you are saving money you find a way to repurpose them.  To make something of them you will need to buy interfacing, thread, trim, a pillow form and any other embellishments.  You have made use of them and done it yourself but it cost you money to do it.  It also does nothing to simplify your space as you have just added another object.  Did you need another pillow?  Does it go with anything you have?

This whole process will hit rough waters without a clear destination.

I want to save money.  I want to eat healthy foods.  I need to simplify my possessions.  During this journey I ran into a few cross currents.  How can I let go of my crafting books as they hold the information as to how to make many items I might one day want.  I am a huge information junkie.  I used to say that I was an info. junkie but if you say it out loud you realize that that does not sound nice!  I become an avid hunter and gatherer when it comes to back issues of Rug Hooking Magazine, Polymer clay books, crocheting patterns, and material on mosaics, beading, wire jewelry and basketry.  I have done all of these crafts and tend to flit back and forth.  All of these crafts require tools and materials.  Did I mention mult-media sculpture?  I am proud of being able to create and sometimes even sell.  Art is a form of communication and these things are often our words and our language.  My desire to repurpose, to be able to make whatever I want has me huddled protectively over these possessions and it requires a plan so that these artistic impulses do not lead me in the opposite direction of my goals.  Tomorrow I will share an unexpected sandbar related to crafting.

In terms of my established goals I brought another two bags to the thrift store, left a full bag for the food back drive, picked a few end of season blackberries and had a great lunch of perogies, farmers sausage, onions and peppers.  Today was the day I let myself replenish some fruit for the week, and then bought myself dinner.  I didn’t need to.  I gave into an “I want that ” moment.  My trigger?  Doing errands by myself when I knew my son wasn’t coming home tonight. My need to reward myself with food is still strong and I’ve got a long way to go. I also gave into the nursery (plants not babies) that is closing out and bought a number of pretty plants for the front of the house.  I didn’t need but wanted pops of colour for the front.  I want to feel like I’m winning my own war of independence by not letting my divorce make me sad and invisible. See my bright and beautiful gerberas and know that I am still a woman to be reckoned with! 🙂

In trying to get your life together you need clear goals to help you navigate these uncharted waters because here there be dragons,

With dirt under her nails and Chinese food in her belly,  sincerely, Deb

Sept.12th The Tyranny of Excess

One of my favourite authors is Mary Hunt who has an online site called the Everyday Cheapskate.  When I have a few minutes I like to ready over her “Dear Mary” column or articles like http://www.everydaycheapskate.com/marys-perspective/paralyzed-by-too-many-choices/.

In my grandmother’s day most everything was done by hand and hard work but the one thing that they had was the gift of simplicity.  What I mean is that you knew what they would harvest, how to use the foods and what was expected.  You knew that when you went visiting you would be offered a fruit plaatz.  There would be relishes at the table, sliced meats and buns. You learned to cook the soups, stews and breads.  You knew how to succeed.  You had measurable goals and tried and true recipes.

Today we are awash of international fare that needs to be served on coordinated plating with themes that take into account vegan cooking, gluten free, wheat free, sugar free, cholestrol reduced, low cal, low carb., environmentally and socially sensitive foods.  No genetically modified please. Menu planning is like looking at a closet with thousands of separates. We can’t see what we have and we don’t know how they go together.   No wonder we stand frozen in the aisles unable to formulate a meal and head to the drive thru instead.  Yes we are condemning our bodies to a three mile island of toxic ruin but at least all our choices are on one board.

This month as I’ve been eating from my pantry there has been a certain freedom in restricting my choices.  I know what I have and what I can use. If I’ve gone to the store it is for milk, butter, or a red pepper.  It was almost like I was breaking the rules not to look to fill every empty spot with food I might want.

Yesterday part of the challenge was to remove one item from my wardrobe. I’d already sent out bags of clothes but I knew there was always more to go.  My fingers landed on a crushed velvet, 3/4 length shirt in shades of purples and grays.  It is beautiful. It fits but any time I put it on I tended to change out of it before I’d leave the room.  The few times I’ve worn it I feel blocky looking.  It was one more choice but it wasn’t adding anything to my life. Then I grabbed another piece and another.  It felt good.  I’ll admit that there was the old fear that if I let go of these piece I’d never be able to afford to replace them.  What I realized today is that choice is good but too much is a tyranny that can grind you to a halt.

Being free of the pressure to grab a deal, and to own it all can block your freedom and happiness.  I look forward to continuing to simplify my life through decluttering, narrowing my choices through donating and using what I have.  Today I ran out of fruit so I picked some of the remaining apples from our two trees.  It is nice to know what to serve for snacks and dessert.

Wishing you all lives free from the tyranny of stuff,  Deb

Miss you Oma.  Thanks for all you taught me and all I still have to learn from your beautiful and godly example.

Sept. 4th Pillow Talk

So today I’m taking on the first challenge of the “Year of Less”.  Ironically it is to get rid of things.  Fear makes you hold tighting on to things in case you need them.  To hoard is a natural reaction to the fear of poverty.

For those who know me that may seem like a silly worry but it is something that has been with me since my first big trip with my mom.  In May 2009 I took a European trip with my mom in honour of the trip she was supposed to have taken with my dad before he passed on.  One of the stops had us by the spice market in Istanbul.  As we crossed the plaza a hand reached up and a woman vacant eyes caught mine.

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What shocked me was the blueness of her eyes and her blonde hair.  A voice in my head said, “One day this will be you.”  I am not given to hearing voices so this frightened me good and proper.  It was ridiculous. I was in a secure marriage of 16 years and we’d always look out for each other.  The next month my husband told me he was leaving.

Scroll forward to today where I have a good relationship with my ex., my finances and health seem stable. Unfortunately the voice never went away and so I began gathering like the ant for winter.

Now to the challenge.  It was to get rid of throw pillows. It is an exercise in getting rid of what is not beautiful or useful.  It was to re-identify things in terms of what enhances our life and what is stale.

For me I only have one throw pillow and it goes on my bed and I find it beautiful so I had to on the hunt for my equivalent.  It was books.  Immediately my rationalization muscle started to flex.  “But books are useful. Books are beautiful.  Books tell a story about you, but.,,,,”.  I have hundreds of books and I have given away thousands.  Having a thrift store with .25 cent pocket books on Saturdays made accumulating very easy.  Regularly they were just .50 cents so it was easy to create stacks of books.  It was time.

I created my rules.  It went out if: 1.  I had had it over a year and still hadn’t read it. 2. If I’d read it but wouldn’t recommend it to a friend and 3. I’d read it and it hadn’t touched me.  It was painful to fill the donation box with these unread, unrealized adventures but I knew it was time to let go of what was stale and simplify.

Update: The good news. I spent zero dollars on food.  I came out ahead by being given cucumbers and plums by a wonderful friend Nancy. Bad news? I ended up with a $150 plumbing bill.

Tomorrow is another adventure in eating and living thoughtfully.  Let’s hope the electrical doesn’t get jealous and decide short out! 🙂