top photo: wardrobe additions
middle + bottom photos: the start of this year’s household purge
Despite naively and wrongly thinking I don’t succumb to a terrible amount of excess, I’ve come to realize how much I shop to assuage emotions. The moment an item has been purchased I begin looking to something else for satisfaction. I’ve gotten better about resisting, but this year I’ve wholeheartedly made a commitment to only purchasing items on the list, as well as keeping that list as small as I can. We don’t have a tremendous amount of extra spending money, so we have to use it well. Carefully choosing luxuries (let’s be honest, it’s all luxury) ensures longevity and helps to maintain a thoughtfulness that goes beyond purchasing.
The house renovation is taking even longer than we thought (I feel like I start every sentence this way), so rather than dwell on the stress I feel about it, I decided to get a head start on ridding the house of things we just don’t need. We do this to some extent every year, but now is the time for a more far-reaching objective, I think. All those back-issues of McSweeney’s I know I won’t get around to reading? Sell them used at the bookstore. The clothes I never wear, forget I have, or don’t feel like me? Sell and donate. Boxes of National Geographic I haven’t looked at in years? Recycle. Just let things go.
I find it’s good to balance purchases with downsizing, both mentally and financially. It’s a relief to say goodbye to things that serve no utility and bring me no joy. I’m obviously not opposed to buying, as this post is evidence of the gaps I recently filled in my wardrobe. But I am opposed to buying that’s motivated by negative emotions and thought patterns, or holding on to things for unproductive reasons. Like so many others, I tend to have an unhealthy attachment to possessions, even the very idea of possessing, so I’m grateful for small lessons in letting go, in not judging myself and not basing my value on the things I have or don’t have. Whether clothing or objects or opportunities or roles in life, none of it defines me and it’s my goal to untether myself from these limitations.
I can’t wait to tackle more areas that need trimming as we get closer to moving, whenever that is (I won’t lie, I’m rolling my eyes as I type this). In the mean time I feel a small bit of peace knowing I’m going in the right direction–towards being smarter about my choices and present in my life beyond mere possessions.