Earlier I wrote here about my Acquisition Suspension, a decision to buy no non-consumable items this year. One month in and I am loving it! I honestly feel like I have just quit a part-time job or finished a big volunteer project. A load has been lifted that I did not even realize I was carrying.
The dominant feeling I have of is of freedom.
The first glimmer of freedom appeared as I did a few Christmas returns. I had four places to go and expected that it would take half the day. I was actually finished in 45 minutes. In the past I would be not only returning items, but also shopping for replacements items, checking out the after-Christmas sales, and taking a peek at new merchandise.
While there is a sense in which it would have been fun to shop, it would have taken a lot of time, required me to make multiple decisions, and exposed me to the stores’ clever merchandising encouraging me to buy even more. Instead, I was free to leave without entering into the fray. I just took the money and walked out. Continue reading →
Owen was 8. His brother’s friend was 14. We were all in the car driving to the lake for the weekend. The friend called his mom. “Did you remember to pack my contact lens solution?” “You didn’t! Mom, you always forget that!”
I looked at Owen in the rearview mirror. He was staring at the friend with a look of serious concern. Once the friend was off the phone he asked, incredulously, “Did your mom pack your suitcase?”
“Not very well!” the friend replied. Owen began to giggle. “My mom has never packed my suitcase!” Although this was not completely true, Owen had never known a day that he did not pack his own suitcase.
The youngest of 4 boys, Owen has always thought he was as old and as capable as his brothers. Early on, I would give the older boys written lists of items to pack for trips. Owen could not yet read, but asked me to draw pictures of what he needed. Pretty soon he could not be bothered with the list and just made his own packing selections. Admittedly, he has a preference for packing light. Once for a week at the lake house he packed a toothbrush, two swimsuits, a white t-shirt, and his church clothes. He managed just fine.
Enough is enough. My resolution for 2013 is to suspend my acquisition, for one year, of any additional non-consumable tangible goods. No clothes, no shoes, no earrings, no throw pillows, no magazines, no lamps, no dishes and definitely no banana slicers. I will still, of course, purchase consumable goods such as food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper goods, and office supplies. I will also still purchase things my husband and children need and gifts for others, but will not buy more things for me that sit around taking up space and demanding attention.
I am not doing this to save money or to practice self-denial. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with buying and having nice things, as long as you also give generously and avoid debt. But I am doing this because I think it will make my life better, and I think I will learn from it. And it might help me hone my skill in “thinking like a lawyer.” Scented candles are consumable and therefore allowed, right?
I awaken and am immediately struck by the silence . . . the complete stillness. I breathe in the sweet calm of Paradise Valley, Montana. Its name fits.
The western view out my bedside window is of the Gallatin Mountain Range, massive rock faces covered with expanses of white snow, interrupted by bands of deep green pine forest. Even at 8:00 a.m. all I survey is bathed in muted tones of gray as the sun still works its way up from behind the wall of the imposing Absaroka Range to the east.
The Yellowstone River runs through the property, not 100 yards from my window. The sides of the river are beginning to freeze. The only sign of movement in the landscape is the center of the river where the water rushes away, as if trying to escape winter’s grasp, tossing chunks of ice downstream. The bed is warm, the log cabin cozy, and outside is some number of degrees below zero.
Husband stirs beside me. What time is church, I ask. Not until 10, he responds.
That’s good. Time to figure out the espresso machine downstairs. (It’s quite a log cabin.) Let’s go sit by the fire, drink coffee, and watch the sun come up over the mountains. He agrees. For once he has time. I have time. Continue reading →