Present over Shopping

Here’s a fact about me. I’m always on the hunt for something. I love to research, whether it be our next vacation, an updated leather jacket, or a new home. And all that researching usually amounts to absolutely nothing.

Most of the time, I can spend hours scrolling the internet, walking up and down aisles, or driving down neighborhood streets, and I don’t make a single decision. I’ve just wasted time.

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, though. Specifically, memoirs by authors like Glennon Doyle Melton and Shauna Niequist, two people with wonderful – albeit very different – writing styles. But the common denominator of both is this: As women we must learn to be fully present where we are, how we are created.

love-warrior

Something I’ve realized through all this nonfiction therapy is that my researching is an addiction. An addiction wrapped in the guise of shopping, or planning, or bettering my family. Especially in the last few weeks, I’ve even felt the binge and purge as it’s happening. While looking for a new pair of boots online I spent hours and placed numerous shoes in my shopping cart (the binge). Then they just sat there without ever purchasing (the purge). I would wander into a store with the intention of finding a gift for someone else, and then I get this manic feeling, like I’m running out of time or someone is going to take everything away from me before I can get to it.

I need these things. I deserve to have this. This is what would complete my closet.

This is the binge. The purge is that I buy it and then return it the next day. Or I keep it but purge by vomiting my guilt out to my husband as I tally up what I’ve spent.

present-over-perfect

But this is in no way limited to shopping for clothes. I binge looking at vacations rentals. I binge birthday party ideas for my children. I binge on researching what book I’ll read next. And sometimes I either forget to purge, or think I can handle all this consumption. This is when I become sick.

When I become sick, the binging no longer works. I can tell I’m spending too much time looking up information or cities or black jeans because I’m doing it while nursing my son, or feeding breakfast to the kids. I feel a thrill when I begin a new hunt, and then get an anxious feeling moments later; a nauseous feeling like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.

That nausea is the holy spirit, gently guiding me back to the present. I have to learn to be in the here and now – not planning the future, or my wardrobe. The spirit has me lay down my phone and look into the eyes of my baby. The spirit asks me to enjoy my coffee while the children giggle about milk mustaches and jelly kisses. The spirit guides me to meditation instead of spending nap times searching for the perfect Halloween costumes.

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.

That nausea is my invitation to a better way. It’s a wake-up call to get out of my head and back to what makes me truly come alive.

Today I’ve come up with a new plan for my life. When I find myself slipping into research mode – whether that be shopping for kids costumes or vacation homes – I will either read or write. If the children are present, I can either read to them, or we can play a game.

There’s no room in my life right now for anything other than today.

Revisiting Minimalism as a Mother of Two

The more I acquire, the more I seem to want to simplify. Now that I’ve acquired another child and we’re a family of four, this has hit me with greater force than ever.

BrothersThe need to declutter goes hand in hand with my need to destress as much as possible. Is that even possible in this season of life? I’m not sure – at least about the stress level. But what I can control are my family’s possessions, and that doesn’t just mean the tangible “things” all over the house.

Our possessions have also shown up in the form of anxieties, frustrations, over-abundance of food and convenience products, and unnecessary cultural expectations (decorating the house and keeping it immaculate for any unexpected guests that may arrive).

This past weekend was Griffin’s third birthday, but it was his first that I didn’t allow the party to completely take over my life. Yes, it was still a great party with tons of food and everyone having a great time. But I didn’t go all out like I have in the past. This could be partly due to the lack of brain cells needed to do that – having a two-month-old hasn’t allowed me to focus entirely on any one thing. But the decor was much more scaled down than in the previous two years, and I didn’t worry as much about topping myself from previous years.

I compare myself to myself more than anyone else, always attempting to one-up the previous me and what her accomplishments were.

Griffin's BirthdayI’ve found it interesting that on the days when this need to simplify really strikes me the most, I will have a mental relapse and find myself shopping online for something frivolous, or going to the grocery store and loading the cart with pre-cut fruit and vegetables. I can certainly cut a sweet potato myself and save us money in the process, but the allure of having the produce guy at Whole Foods do it for me is too strong sometimes.

I also want to cultivate a minimalist wardrobe for myself – an overhaul of my current closet, to be replaced with quality pieces that are interchangeable and can be worn over and over. But that would require alot of time and money to get started, and I fall into that trap, telling myself I’m simplifying when what I’m really doing is online shopping.

These things are all an ongoing process, just like everything else where simplification is concerned.

It’s all about this idea of experiences over “things.” Having our family spend our time and money on what is lasting – on memories we will share and always have, versus things that are merely meant to be looked at or compared with someone else’s. Franklin, Tennessee is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, and we constantly have to watch ourselves from falling into the comparison trap. I want my sons to grow up knowing other cultures, other ways of living.

I never want them to belong to this entitlement society, even if they do live in it.

BeachSo I’m trying something new, and with a new year approaching I think it’s coming at the perfect time. We will not be spending a lot of money on things to make our new home more magazine-worthy; rather, we will be spending our money on experiences, starting with a two-month cultural immersion experience in Dublin, Ireland this summer.

More details on that to come!