Halfway through the month of January, I went through a bit of a crisis. It started when I learned that the vegan bag company that sells a purse and wallet I had been lusting over announced a big sale. The purse and wallet that I felt were “essential” to my year-round capsule wardrobe were now 40% off the normal price. I had been using a diaper bag in place of a purse since I started staying home full-time, and I didn’t want people to perceive me as “just a mom” the moment they saw me. I wanted my clothing and accessories to reflect that I still had time to piece together a suitable outfit every day and that I wasn’t letting all the neccessary kid accountrements cramp my style. So when I saw the sale, I immediately asked Ryan if this purse and wallet could be my early birthday present. He said “yes” without hesitation, and I placed the online order that night. About a week and half later the package arrived in the mail. I was extremely excited to open it, but my home was a complete disaster (aka it’s normal state) so I wanted to get everything cleaned up before opening the package. I went about my regular business for the rest of the day – cleaning, cooking dinner, taking care of the kids.
Finally around 8:30pm, I felt the house was in order enough for me to reward myself with the purchase. I sat on the floor in excitement and carefully cut open the plastic packaging. I removed all of the tags and stuffing, setting them to the side to I could admire my beautiful, new, perfect purse. The first thing I noticed was that the purse was rather large. After a quick comparison to the diaper bag, I realized it was even bigger than the “enormous” diaper bag I had been carrying around. The purse felt stiff, like daily use would be hindered by how difficult it was to zip it open and closed. It was also difficult to access the interior of the wallet as it only opened partially, accordion-style. Neither the purse nor the wallet felt the way I thought they were supposed to feel. I dumped everything out my diaper bag and current wallet and started putting it into place in the new purse and a wallet. After everything was put together, I picked it up and slung it over my head, crossbody style. The purse felt unwieldy due to it’s size and weight from all my stuff. It was difficult to remove the cards from their slots in the new wallet. There was just so much that I was finding was not right. This was not how I imagined it would be. Had I made a mistake in purchasing this particular purse and wallet? Should I have gone with the smaller size? I sat on the floor of my living room and just stared at the purse and wallet. Maybe I’m just not used to it, but after a couple uses I will love it. I went to put the new purse in the basket where I kept the diaper bag, but it didn’t fit. I had this whole system of where everything in the entryway goes, but the new purse didn’t fit. I was really starting to regret my decision, but the purchases were final sale. I was just going to have to live with it. But did that mean that I would keep the purse or try to sell it? I just couldn’t figure out what I was going to do. What was going to make me happy? That night I cried silently as I tried to fall asleep. I was so frustrated with myself for not making the right purchase, not doing enough research, wasting money on something I didn’t absolutely love.
The next morning I woke up, still unsure of what to do about the purse and still feeling frustrated and embarrassed, but for an entirely different reason. Why in the world had I allowed myself to get so worked up over a purse? A PURSE! It was ridiculous that I had berated myself for not making a purchase that I was absolutely over-the-moon excited about it. I am a human, and I make lots and lots of mistakes. But the biggest mistake I had made in that moment was to allow myself to attach my self worth to an item. I am not defined by the things that I own, and therefore, I should not spend my time worrying about what item best represents me. The relationships I have with my family and friends, the hobbies I enjoy, the skills I develop – these are the things that make me, ME.
In this moment I realized I could no longer let myself be so consumed by things. I needed to do something drastic. So I started I would start a shopping ban. As luck would have it, one of my favorites bloggers Cait from Blonde on a Budget published a two-part post about how to go about a shopping ban. These posts were such perfect timing and such a good sign that this was something I NEEDED to do. Using Cait’s shopping ban as my guide, I have developed my own 90 day shopping ban that I am starting today.
The timeline for this ban is exactly 90 days – February 1st, 2016 through April 30, 2016. During this timeframe I will only be purchasing essentials for myself (my family is not included in the ban). My monthly budget review’s have outlined the items considered essentials, but as a refresher, this will include groceries, toiletries, and home cleaning supplies. All purchases will follow a one out, one in rule. I finish a bottle of conditioner; I buy one new bottle of conditioner. It all sounds simple, but this is an area I struggle with immensely (I’m even considering going on a social media diet to prevent myself from feeling the urge to purchase unneccesary skincare and beauty products). I will also be focused heavily on only buying essential grocery items. Healthy snacks and ridiculously expensive “superfoods” are my downfall. I thought about putting together a full list of approved and unapproved items, but I recognized that would be a waste of my time. I know what items are truly necessary. And if I feel any uncertainty, I just won’t purchase the item.
The purpose of this ban is to change my relationship with things. I know there will be financial benefits, as I will be spending less, but what I really want is to not feel consumed by the need to have more. I started listening to this podcast recently called The Mind Palace. There are quite a few old episodes, so I’ve had a lot of great conversations to listen to. The episode that has spoken to me the most is entitled “You Are Going to Die”. During this episode the hosts Jess and Melissa read an essay by Josh Wagner published in the collection of essays “Advice to My 18-Year-Old Self”. I was going to link it, but I was afraid people wouldn’t click through and then they would miss out on the life-changing message Josh is sharing with all of us. So instead, I’m including it right here:
I Need to Take this Thing That I Love and Get Rid of It
by Josh Wagner
Can you feel it? You’ve crossed the peak. For a long time you’ve been climbing up, pushing against gravity. Now it’s all downhill. You finally got the thing you’ve always wanted and it turns out having it is nothing like wanting it. There toward the end you started to develop a real taste for the wanting. That window of time where you knew you were closing in, where you could almost touch it. Right before you pounced. And hey, look at you—you got it. But in your hands it doesn’t feel the same as it “almost” did. Feels funny, tastes weird. It’s heavy. Looks different, too. Not quite the same shape you saw from a distance. What the hell are you doing? You can’t carry this. It fills your arms, obstructs your vision, affords no space for wanting more.
But you want to want more.
You thought you loved this thing but really you loved the arrows that burned around you. And now your entire focus becomes how do I get rid of what took me so long to achieve? Because it no longer feels like the end all be all of your entire life. Now it feels like guilt and confusion and naturally you have to wonder if you’re completely broken as a human because aren’t we supposed to want something and then have it and then we’re happy? But what you’ve forgotten is you don’t actually have it. We never have anything.
Here’s the painful truth you already know. Nothing lasts. Everything ends. The only eternal element in life is change. We call phrases like this cliché and roll our eyes when we hear them because we hate it. We hate that we’re going to die. In the morning we’re pushed out of the airplane and by sunset we’ll be a memory on the sidewalk.
So what to do on the way down?
If something has an expiration date you can let it spoil or you can turn it into fuel. What you have now in your arms, what you’ve struggled so hard to achieve, is ready fuel. You know you can’t keep it so you have two options: you can put it in a landfill or you can set it on fire.
You don’t have a choice as to whether your best days will end up devoured by time, but you do have a choice about how it’s done. You can waste it with passion, or you can waste it with doubts and regrets. Stop fooling yourself into thinking it lasts forever. That’s the thought that makes you panic, that ignores and denies your natural restlessness and turns it into careless impatience. Embrace your mortality, but don’t let that awareness cripple your immortal present. Don’t pour the oil back into the well. Strike it against a rock until you see sparks. Build the fire, tend the fire, and when the fire goes out don’t sit there sifting through the ashes. There’s only one time in your life when you can burn all the way down and walk away stronger, and that time is now. Waste your youth. That’s what it’s for. Don’t hold back. Love until it hurts. The fire will fade. You’re going to die.
Stop putting all that work into agonizing over the imminent loss of everything you love. Simply love. While it’s still right there in front of you. Time not spent burning is draining, every bit of it trickling away at one second per second. Do you want a landfill piled up over your bones, or do you want a trail of fire through the sky? Take the risks; no one is watching. Those people that you’re so worried about judging you aren’t even paying attention. They’re too busy worrying about what other people think of them. When it’s time to fight make sure you know how, but when it comes to love make sure you don’t think you know how. Grant yourself the license to fail. Failure will be your foundation. Your first steps will prepare you for the next. When you fall you will fall forward.
And when you fall in love—and you will, again and again and again—don’t stop falling just because you hit the ground.
Let’s just pause for a second and think about how important this message is.
At this point, you might be wondering what became of the purse and wallet. I did not burn them. It is technically a birthday present from my husband, and my birthday is not for another week. And I am not planning on burning them when they are finally in my posession. I will use both the purse and the wallet for the utility they provide. I recognize now that they are not items that will be determine my worth or provide me with all the happiness I need, but they are well-crafted items that act to assist me in living my life.
Thank you so much for reading.