Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details. (Note: the schedule is now full until June — but if you don’t mind waiting, feel free to send me your submission!)
This week, I’m happy to feature Mohanalakshmi, who writes from Qatar. She tells us about how she gave up shopping in 2009, and what she learned from the experience. Please stop by her blog to read more!
(Re)Learning the Art of Abundance: No New Clothes
I gave up shopping in 2009 as a way to bring this impulse under control and people were kind enough to read along with my (mis)adventures via my blog. At times I did better than others but in most instances I was confronted by the truth that set me out on this quest: there were many lovely things in my closet I wasn’t wearing through no fault of theirs. I simply couldn’t see many things because they were so crammed onto hangers or in drawers.
Two unexpected things happened from this self-imposed diet: I was much more careful with the items I chose when it was my birthday, anniversary, or other gift giving opportunity. I would identify the one thing I really wanted and when it was given to me, I treasured it like the new possession it was. The second was more inexplicable: trimming back on clothes raised an awareness of the multiples I had of other items such as the twelve bottles of perfume on my dresser that I determinedly worked my way through. I suddenly wanted to use up things to the best of my ability and it also made it much easier to let them go: whether a bottle of mousse or sandwich I couldn’t finish, I realized the value of stopping when you’ve had enough of something. And you’re that much less likely to order with your eyes rather than your appetite if you see how much is leftover on your plate.
The other slightly wonderful aftereffect is that slight tinge of guilt when I wander the racks this holiday season. More often than not, I’m saying no, rather than yes, to most items. The sales tags which used to scream to me $15!! now clearly explain why a certain item was overpriced to begin with.
I set out in 2009 wanting to be content with the things I had and maybe by default, my life. I certainly developed an appreciation for the tried and true items like handbags or shoes.
So imagine my dismay to start 2011 with 5 suitcases from our trip to the U.S. We live overseas and this was the first time we had been home all year since the birth of our son in July 2010. Granted 1 of the 5 suitcases was entirely for the baby. But that still left 3 bags of nothing but clothes for me. I’m not exaggerating.
Have I regressed? Did I learn nothing in 2009? There are no easy answers. But I want to start the year again saying enough is enough. Here’s to hoping it finds me happier, with less things and more time for people.