I don’t have time to do this right now….

I just got the email reminding me to renew my blog and my meaghan.sych domain name. And I was reminded of alll the amazing lessons I learned in my nine-ish months of buy nothing new. And how I’ve forgotten all the things I have learned. And how I just bought three pairs of shoes online cause I had a shitty morning with the baby (I had a baby since we last chatted, after a second miscarriage -did I talk about both miscarriages here? I don’t remember and wow I’ve really fucked up the punctuation in that sentence) and needed “retail therapy”. Food and shopping are my ultimate crutches and I can’t indulge too much in food because I’m trying to go dairy free for the baby and trust me, there is NOTHING fun about dairy free. Gummy bears only do so much.

I’ve just put aforementioned baby down for a much needed nap, the four year old is downstairs playing with her new toys she got for her birthday (new new, ordered off Amazon cause I’m like ten seconds away from a Prime membership and WHO AM I?!) and I really really don’t have time to blog right now, but maybe that’s when I need it the most? I didn’t have time to shop second hand for her birthday present, I didn’t have time to shop second hand for alllll the shoes I just bought, or the tank tops I ordered last week, or all the jewelry I ordered the month before that…but honestly, I have spent SO MUCH TIME (ha, I really am back) taking shit back to stores that I wonder what takes the time? The shopping? The thinking about shopping? The planning the shopping? Seriously, I need to go back and re-read allll my previous blogs because I have slipped sideways, and as a family of five, we gonna need every last penny. Even the minivan we bought was new (though that was mostly out of my control because my in-laws were involved. And everything where my in-laws is concerned is out of my control. Actually it feels like a LOT of my life is out of my control. The baby’s sleep schedule, my own sleep schedule, my children’s moods, my moods, my husband’s job situation, my diet, my own schedule in GENERAL. This is why I shop. It’s something I can control, something to enjoy, something to perk up these days of exhaustion and drudgery. Did I ever close those brackets? Nope.)

 

So maybe after I re-read those old blogs I’ll be a bit smarter again? Doubtful? I might need this again, in these days of retail therapy to deal with baby-life, I might just have to find time to write, to think, instead of just to react. So maybe see you again soon….

 

 

A month ago….

Was the last time I wrote! I had great ambitions to write some blogs over Christmas break and save some so that I was all prepared. I did not accomplish that. However, I have done lots of thinking and wondering and so here’s a quick recap of the last month, and some thoughts moving forward.

December. I committed to cutting out Instagram during the day. I actively pursued this, by moving the app icon to the last page of my phone (does that make sense?) so that I couldn’t just tap it while I was looking at my phone, as I had been wont to do in the past. I felt like my brain was emptier, calmer, that I wasn’t always being interrupted from some other thought. Instagram is my place to “shop” clothing and decor wants as well, so I felt like I was less in the zone of WANTING in December. Which helped, leading up to Christmas. I let it slide a bit over the holidays, but a freak accident with a houseplant left me with a “huge” corneal abrasion, an eye patch, and limited vision. This certainly helped my avoidance of Instagram, as it would, literally, give me a headache. I spent lots of time in bed, with the blinds low and my eyes closed. My husband brought me lots of audio books, which were a big help. It shifted my priorities though, as I made time for my kids first, and then rested my eye. It was a bit of survival mode at it’s worst, but left me feeling a bit rested and free from instagram.

HOWEVER. I was gifted MONEY for Christmas. For SHOPPING. This. This led to an increase in thought on what I could buy, what I should buy, what I wanted, what I needed, and where to get it. It turned into a bit of an obsession. Dear friends suggested that I give up the money and gift card or save for later. That idea made me shrink in horror and clutch the cash even tighter! I tried to use it wisely. But it triggered something in my brain that had lain dormant. I couldn’t, absolutely couldn’t, save it for later when something I really NEEDED came up. I have been wearing the same three pairs of jeans for 7 months, and the same three pairs of boots since the cold weather hit, so I convinced myself that I NEEDED new versions of those. Did I really? Probably not. The pants are comfy and cute and I got myself a new tuque, which I really did need. The shoes are still up for debate. I find myself wanting to send them back just so I can SHOP again. So that the possibility of something NEW is still there. Now, with the cute shoes here, I can’t dream of anything new again for another 5 months. Although my birthday is in there somewhere.

And did I make ethical, non-fast-fashion (is the opposite of fast fashion slow fashion? Have to look that up) choices? The shoes, yes, I bought Toms, which I think (possibly mistakenly) that they are a step in the right direction (get it, cause they are shoes?!), and the tuque and pants I purchased at a local store, supporting a friend, but it wasn’t a HUGE factor in my shopping. I honestly wanted to get the most bang for my buck –  the most possessions I could with my money. Not investing in a single piece from a company I’ve watched for a while that is made and manufactured right here in Canada.

So, I could definitely benefit from another 5 months of this! I was doing so well, but it’s like gambling, or smoking, or any other addiction. One hit and I feel like I’m right back at square one! In the meantime I’m cleaning out the filing cabinet, got rid of some more children’s clothing, and keep looking at my bookshelf and thinking I could purge down some more. (BTW, I still had the receipt from renting out a locker in my 4th year of university in a file. Like WHO NEEDS THAT?! Oi.) I’m also hoping to move forward with a career in editing, starting some editing courses online, and planning to start a freelance business! Wish me luck!

Moving forward with the challenge, January is going to be a lean month because of Christmas expenditures, and we are now paying property tax (Yikes). In February I think we will make it a CONSUMABLES ONLY month. It’s a short month, thankfully. But the idea of putting off things that the kids NEED for even a short time, has been something I haven’t attempted before. So. That’s where I stand. For all 27 of you who read this, thank you for a great start to the project last year, and please feel free to suggest some topics or areas you’d like me to look into on this topic. I’ve just started reading a new book on the topic, called “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay, which is reminding me of all the reasons I started this, and shooing all the lovely shopping images out of my head! Hoping to be more consistent and on time with these blogs this year!

 

HALFWAY DONE. Quit now or keep going?!

Wow. I didn’t think I’d make it this far. Except that I honestly haven’t even thought about quitting. Until today. When I thought about quitting. It was a strangely liberating feeling, that I could decide whether I wanted to continue or not. I think I will continue, but it was a lovely idea, that I was actually in control of this project, and could decide to cease or not. I think I’ve probably been way too lax with myself in a lot of ways.

But I digress.

I think having a complete moratorium on shopping for new clothing for myself has been good for me. It has required me to sort of stop, drop and think before just saying “I deserve X and Y and Z” and ripping out the credit card. I am much better able to observe my habits and know when I’m trying to solve internal problems with external solutions (see here for more on that). And when I am feeling like the end of the earth and need a retail therapy pick me up, I spend a LOT less on second hand items. And it isn’t nearly as often, and it isn’t the same. There isn’t that shiny, magical, life-giving quality to second-hand clothing or purses, or shoes as there is with new items. And it’s also so much harder to find something “perfect” at a second-hand store. You end up with something you didn’t really want, but it’s there, and it’s a steal, and you should bring it home cause it likely won’t be there next time. There are exceptions to this, but not often. A loooot of the clothes I’ve purchased second-hand I’ve ended up ditching a few months later. It’s a lot harder than shopping new. That being said, it’s amazing what you can find SOMETIMES. But it’s a process, and it’s slow, and as a mom of two under 4, I find it almost not worth the effort. But not buying new has definitely made me realize that those cute ankle boots, or that adorable poncho, or that gorgeous diaper bag aren’t going to make ME better, or smarter, or stronger, or happier. The power of “stuff” has (mostly) dwindled.

Another challenge: the library. I tend to request like 5 books at time and then they all come in at once and I don’t have time to read them all, and I inevitably leave the one that is due first to the last minute and end up having to request it and wait for it all over again. Probably need to minimize my library list and come up with a better way. Make a list of all the ones I want and then request them slowly? I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to books to read in a very non-minimalist kind of way. I have about 3 or 5 on the go at any one time and think I need to have at last two with me most of the time. And they tend to be large books…next project: Minimize reading materials. Just something to work on for myself. I think I have more time to read than I do!

What I miss most: wanting something, and just going out and finding it right away. Not having to search through like 1-2 or sometimes 3 second-hand stores. Or wait until I have a gift card for said store. Or being limited to the one store I have a gift card for! It’s all the rules, really, that frustrate me.

What I’ve been super lax about: Christmas presents. I’m trying to stick to four Christmas presents each for my girls (something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read). I bought local for their something to wear, I bought second hand for books and for the oldest’s something she wanted, but otherwise…it’s been new. For three of my nephews we ended up using a gift card we had from our wedding, for the Bay, on toys. And I’m trying to make some shirts for some gifts, but honestly, I’m not trying too hard to stick to the second-hand rule on this one. I think given my time limitations (kids) and my realistic knowledge of my sewing skills, it’s just not possible this year. And given that the biggest issue with my spending was on new items for myself, I’m not totally worried. Maybe next year I’ll be better at it! I also bought new for some outfits for the girls for Christmas pictures. Which I really do feel a bit guilty about. I had this vision in my head of what I wanted our Christmas card pics to look like, and I just didn’t want to sacrifice that, or go looking for 10 hours for second-hand versions. In the end the little one refused to wear her adorable denim overall skirt so that went out the window anyways. But I apologize to the buy nothing new adjudicators. I take a fail on that one. I didn’t buy anything new for myself though!

So. To continue to a full year or not continue? There are days when I want so so so so so so so so so badly to just run across the road to the mall near me and buy SOMETHING. A purse that is just perfect. Boots that would solve my clothing woes. A new sweatshirt that would be just perfectly cozy. But instead I usually manage to talk myself out of it. Which I think was the point of the exercise. So do I quit now, or keep going to see what kind of lessons lay before me? I feel like there’s still so much to learn. I want to start thinking about a zero waste home eventually. I want to cut down on the time I spend trolling social media (I think this will be my December project). I want to learn to meditate more. I want to eat better. Will not buying new help me with any of those goals? I have no idea. It frees up time, that’s for sure.

Where do you see I’ve fallen short? What can I improve on? Should I keep going? Or have I learned what I needed to? Thanks for coming along for the first six months!

 

If I didn’t take a picture, does it count?!

So. Last week was Halloween, and with the birthday cake and kitty cat running around and trick or treating, I just didn’t have a chance to write to you lovely folk (all 37-ish of you who read my blog sometimes! Welcome back!).

But here I am, and I’ve got a new mini-project within the larger project of buying nothing new this month. When I started thinking about not needing anything ELSE in my life/house/cupboards/closets, I started thinking about the things that were already there. Alllll the clothes, all the toys, all the cd’s all the stuff I had bought while lost in the sort of capitalist mindset of needing the newest thing all the time. This sounds like a manifesto…I don’t think it will get that poetic. We also just moved into our house in June, so there are many areas that we have not had a chance to go through and purge yet, especially places like the utility room that we don’t use every day, or the insanely large crawl space that we have. I’ve worked on some things, like my closet, creating my capsule wardrobe (Which you can read about here) and seasonal change clothing etc etc, but honestly, there’s still a lot to work on. (Especially since to create the capsule wardrobe, I mostly just moved the rest of the clothing out of my bedroom. It’s mostly still sitting in the closet downstairs! I’ll work on it, I promise).

Another thing I heard about from the Minimalists during their visit was about the Mins Game. Wherein you discard one item on the first day of the month, 2 on the second day, all the way up to 30 days on the 30th of the month. I followed another girl’s journey on Instagram during October, and figured I’d give it a try during November.

I’m on day 7 of 30. I’m starting to get a bit worried because though I have already found a crazy amount of stuff to purge, tackling areas like the front closet, the Christmas decorations, about 1/4 of the utility room, I did a bunch of purging without counting or taking pictures of it! I got rid of an entire small box full of CD’s. I donated probably 2-3 boxes full of my books during the summer. I went through and tossed about half of the girls’ play “food” that would have added up to probably 40 individual items. While doing our utility room I was too busy trying to do it in a hurry so that the girls didn’t dive into my mess that I didn’t count up all the items and document them. I know there was one 1960’s wooden chandelier, two picture frames, a giant stuffed ladybug pillow, an oversized Elsa doll, two throw pillows, probably 15 “cloth” bags, and at least two Ikea bags. I donated 6 items of jewelry to a silent auction I’m working on. But if I didn’t take a picture and count it all up, DOES IT COUNT?! What if I get to November 28th and I’m short EXACTLY that amount of items?! Deep breaths. 465 items. And I’m only on…hold on while I do some math….28 so far? Deep breaths. Discomfort, right? I need to make myself uncomfortable to challenge what is working and is not working for me in this life. Also, people have been asking for some of the things I’m getting rid of! So win win for everyone!

Anyways. That’s the mini project for November, a good way to mark my almost halfway point (next week I’ll do a halfway mark review. What is helping, what I think of second-hand shopping, how the library and I don’t always work, and what I miss most).

I’m thinking December might be a cutting back on Instagram, or cutting it out altogether (except for blog posts). As Instagram is my MAJOR time suckage activity. What could you remove from your life that isn’t serving you anymore? Happy Tuesday!!

 

Fall Capsule Wardrobe

This is so exciting!! Since like a year ago I’ve been eyeing those gorgeous pinterest pics of women’s capsule wardrobes! So simple, so put together, soooo curated and elegant! I, of course, am not quite talented enough to put together one of those images, but I’ve got a few different pictures to show what I’ve put together!

When I started this, I used a workbook from two different places. The first was from a blogger called Un-Fancy and it was soooo useful! I realized in that first workbook that I wear jeans, a tshirt and an accessory (usually a scarf) most of the time. I also realized that I HATED wearing fancy underwear on a daily basis. Dresses or shirts that need a strapless bra? I tended to leave them on the shelf for daily wear. A tight dress that I needed to wear spanx for? Not going to touch it when I’m home with the kids. So everything has to have thick straps in the summer, or be looser fitting. I also realized that my fall is a bit different this year since I’m home with the kids, and not going back to a job at this time. So those heeled booties that I loved for dressing up at court? Not going to work with a two year old and a four year old hanging off my hands or hips while we walk to the park! It was a huge help to use her “Build a Capsule Wardrobe” booklet, so start there if you’re interested!

The other one I got was from a sustainably-focused company called Encircled when I signed up as a subscriber to their newsletter, called The Mi I really really really love this company and hope to buy some of their dressy sweatpants, and one of their revolve 2 dresses one day…when I can buy some of the things new again! It also helped focus me in terms of colours I wear and silhouettes I like. There’s an exercise where you have to count all the items you own, and it’s embarrassing. I think I have 15 sweaters. Not including all my tops and tees. Just sweaters. Yikes.

I don’t actually remember where I got the schema for this capsule wardrobe but it looks like this:

  1. 15 tops
  2. 9 bottoms
  3. 9 shoes
  4. 2 dresses
  5. 2 jackets

 

So one day I just moved ALLLL my clothes to the spare bedroom closet and only pulled out those items. I fudged the numbers a bit, I have 4 dresses and only 7 shoes, and only 6 bottoms, but 16 tops and three jackets. Confused yet?! Basically it all worked out to the same net number in the end which is: 37. I did not count my scarves. It would jump up to a way higher number.

 

Here are some of the outfits I’ve managed to put together so far:

 

I did end up purchasing a few “new” items from my favourite new consignment store Plato’s Closet. I’ve wanted a long black skirt for the fall for a while, my chambray shirt just wasn’t the perfect fit (spoiler alert, the one in the picture, is PERFECT), I had only one dress that had long sleeves for fall, and I found the greatest slouchy dark grey cardigan that I’ve been throwing on with everything.

Here’s a shot of my messy closet with only tops on the right hand side: IMG_5941

 

And dresses on the left. You can see my underwear baskets but you can also see the shoes I’ve chosen so far. IMG_5942

I didn’t include much in terms of dressy clothes in this capsule, it’s mostly everyday stuff I can wear while mom-ing. A mom-iform if you will. I’ve also had to throw in a couple of extra pieces like shorts and tank tops since the weather isn’t quite at “fall” yet, but mostly when I get dressed I go to the same 37 items and it’s been a huuuuge relief after all. I feel good in all the clothes in my closet, I’m not trying like 10 different outfits on trying to find something that “fits” (I’m working on that, but until all the yoga kicks in, I’m still trying to hide some problem areas;)) and I don’t need a fancy bra with anything! Bliss!

I’d love to see your capsule attempts! Does this thing let you send me emails? ohhh the life of a new blogger!

I want my sucky!

This is my two-year old’s constant whine right now. “I’m tired, I want my sucky!!!” (which is what she calls her soother/pacifier/binky). And it’s a really interesting link to something I was thinking about last week, during a particularly trying Thursday with the munchkins. For some reason, they are both having a round of sleep disturbances, which makes me particularly cranky/exhausted. I had finally sat them down to quiet time and I had a few work-ish things to do, but while I plugged away at those I was looking up and messaging a friend about some beauty products (well, more like hygiene products, face wash, moisturizer, shampoo etc), was staring longingly at some new goodies coming from my accessories company, and thinking how much I wanted to go shopping to a new thrift store I’d heard about that afternoon. And I thought about it for a minute (insert lightbulb emoji here): Whenever I am struggling internally or emotionally, I use external methods to solve that. Stressed out because my day didn’t go as planned? Boom, the PERFECT face cleansing routine will at least fix my skin, maybe then I’ll feel more “successful”! $100 later…..would it really make me feel better?( I didn’t actually buy anything yet, so that’s a win for me!) Had a bad day with the girls? Boom, a new dress will fix that! (and I did go thrift store shopping, to get a few things for a fall capsule wardrobe that I’ll tell you all about next week – mostly dresses and bottoms) Mark’s mother making me feel inadequate? Boom, eat a piece/bowl/bag of candy/chips/popcorn! It’s always concrete, tangible THINGS (like a pacifier) that I use to solve a problem that is much more cerebral or emotional. That’s like trying to solve hunger pangs with soothing bird calls on a cd, it just doesn’t even address the problem! DING. LIGHTBULB goes on.

So today I had a crappy day with the girls. Actually yesterday wasn’t great either. During a fun little dance class, my youngest (she of the sucky demands) fell and smashed her face, teeth first into the floor. Blood blood blood and screams for HOURS. She was up at 11:15, 3:30-5:00 and 6:30 from pain. (Have you ever fed a two year old a Popsicle at midnight? Or frozen raspberries at 4:00am? Weird.) So today mama was CRANKY and emotional and a bit edgy. And the four year old, who starts kindergarten tomorrow and is kinda FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT, decided to be the most challenging four year old she could be. (Dear god of fast food establishments and public bathrooms everywhere: please remove automatic toilets and hand dryers for the sake of my nerves?!)

And I WANTED to go shopping. I wanted to eat. But I remembered my light bulb moment, and went for a (brief) run instead! And yesterday I did yoga in my office with a youtube video! Ok, and then I ate nachos, but STILL! I feel like these are much more sensible reactions to the problem of being emotional. Given that we know exercise creates some kind of upper (endorphins? Don’t ask me, English major) and so does nature, getting outside for a run actually helps. Whereas eating or shopping does not. Someone remind me of that after we do dr’s visit for little miss bladder infection and kindergarten orientation tomorrow. Cause I’m pretty sure I’m just going to want a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn. That sounds tasty now actually….But getting back to the sucky idea, it’s very similar to my two year old having ANY KIND OF PROBLEM and wanting her sucky. It’s comfort, it’s familiar, it soothes, but does it really fix the problem? Nope. So I’m basically the emotional equivalent of a two year old? Yup, sounds about right today. But I feel like I would never have figured this out if I hadn’t started this project. I would have just bought something else and wondered why it didn’t work. Again.

What do you do to self-soothe??

Nighty night!

My So-Called Life

I’m struggling. Does every blog post start out that way? Or am I just not giving myself enough credit for the mini successes that I’ve…succeeded at?

We’re hosting Mark’s family here for a housewarming get together on Sunday and all of a sudden I want the house looking perfect. So all of a sudden I’m running around the city looking for cushion covers for the basement couch, tea towels for the kitchen, light fixtures for every conceivable light in the house. And dropping off a literal trunk load of other junk at Value Village. Errands for stuff. Because I have a house and stuff, all of a sudden I’m doing errands around stuff. UGH.

My brain feels full of lists and even this small amount of shopping has made me hungry for more shopping. Is this all I complain about ever?

And having had surgery and not being able to exercise means my clothes don’t fit, and even my four year old complained about making her buy new shoes all the time. I swear shoes multiply all by themselves at night. And I don’t make her buy new shoes all the time, btw.

These are the ones that she complained about, when really she wanted them so bad she was like jumping up and down.

mirasshoes

I feel like I’m truly in search of another way of living, of another way of thinking, but when I’m tired and overwhelmed and don’t know what to think, I wonder why I can’t just buy something new and shiny to distract me from the painful thoughts of “Who am I? What do I want from life? Why am I so confused?!” Does a minimalist really have a stack of like 20 library books by her bed? And since I now have a sewing machine that works (which I got for free from a friend!) I want to start some projects, but that means spending money on fabric, on patterns, on thread, and really, do we NEED anything else? Like, do the girls need winter nighties or is that just another thing/distraction from the mediocrity of a life that revolves around STUFF?!

This is a bit of a sham blog, I’m sorry, it was a long day with the kiddos and I’m still reading and thinking and maybe you’ll get an extra blog later this week. Stuffocation has had some really interesting points about minimalism vs. experientialists and how Facebook has changed the way we think, and I’m reading one of the memoirs that Joshua Fields Millburn has written called “Everything that Remains” and there’s this really amazing passage on how he created a meaningful life for himself. But it all scares me. In light of the fact that I have spent ten million hours working on the house to make it prettier, I don’t think I’m really working towards a more meaningful life. Do you? I know it’s a smaller house, in a neighborhood that’s not quite a suburb, but I feel like I’m going in the opposite direction of a meaningful life this week. It’s a balance, I’m sure. Again, maybe I’m just not appreciating the process of discomfort and growth. I never appreciate discomfort and growth. I want to be good at life. Good at being good at something. And I’m not good at not shopping.

I have so many WANTS. So many things I keep thinking about that I could buy. But that is NOT the point of this project.

Do all blog posts end with the word, HELP!?

oi.