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The Temptations

July 27, 2011

Despite your initial optimistic response, sadly this post has nothing to do with a little do-wop music from Motown records,or baskets full of fair trade chocolates and organic wine, though I really wish it did.

You may have noticed an absence of content lately on the ol’ blog…well lets just say that I could have entitled the previous totally non-existent posts something like “EPIC Fails #1 – 48″…

It all began rather innocently actually, with a naive girl (me) signing up for a little adventure (a little Tri-a-triathlon) with some inspiring girlfriends. As ridiculous as it sounds, (and I think we have previously covered the fact that ‘Ridiculous’ should have been my middle name), it honestly never occurred to me that I would end up ‘needing’ to purchase exorbitant amounts of ‘stuff’ to outfit my little adventure. Not surprisingly, it actually had occurred to my very observant husband (he is a scientist after all)…though he chose to stand back and watch it play out. I can’t blame him, honestly, I think a psychology student could have observed and written an entire dissertation of the colourful train wreck that I was about to make of my project. There is definitely something to that ‘slippery slope’ analogy.

I had decided immediately that I would find and borrow a bike to train for and race the event on, and as luck would have it, a boot camp acquaintance offered up her fabulous road bike for my usage.

A month before I needed it, I was set, excited and grateful. The week that the cycling clinics were to start, her husband (unaware of our arrangement) decided to sell her fabulous road bike…and with one week to go and my heart set on trying out an actual road bike for the first time…I set out to find another solution..and fast.

I rationalized what I thought was a very practical and frugal decision (after all the shop-a-holic in me desperate wanted to head to Dutch Cycle here in town and fork over enough cash to by a small used car, to buy a gorgeous shiny new road bike I had been admiring)

Instead, I found an ad in the local classified pages, that simply read, “Bikes of all kinds and sizes starting @ $30.00. Available on Saturday from 12-5”, an address was listed and a photograph of a back yard filled with hundreds of bikes accompanied the listing. It was in a sketchy old part of town, but I was desperate and frenzied. (I should have recognized that frenzied feeling, but alas, I did not).

A cute little old man greeted my husband and I when we arrived and I felt a bit better immediately, I was certain that this ancient dude wasn’t scaling fences and breaking in garages to steal bikes to re-sell…(which honestly was my first thought when we pulled into the ‘hood). Turns out he had been buying old bikes at auction for years and refurbishing them for resale, to keep his mind active, and was basically only asking the cost of the parts that he used to fix them up. He had just ONE women’s road bike, it was old (older than me he said),well used, but a pretty pale blue and just my size…and only $30. START THE CAR! How could I go wrong?

A torrential downpour of rain started, literally, just as I decided to take it. Like some sort of not so subtle omen. As we drove off with the dripping bike wedged in my hatchback, and a silly excited grin on my face…the husbands says…”you just really needed to buy a bike hey?”

I brushed the trite comment off as purely cynical suspicion that I had broken my own rules (I was convinced at the time that I in fact had not)

But suddenly, it was like some sort of permission had been granted, by whom I don’t know…but suddenly any purchase relating to the event seemed totally justifiable. New handle wraps for the old bike, new tires (those it did need)..a water bottle holder (also needed)…and then a new water bottle …(not needed).

Then came the padded stretchy pants and reflective cycling jerseys (safety first right?), and really its like shopping fate when my favourite sportswear company suddenly releases cycling gear just when I happen to “need” it, you can’t argue with shopping fate…right? … oh and then there was the cutesy custom decal to add the name “Lindsey Loo Who” to the side of the old bike, very necessary, then everyone would know it was MY 120 lb ancient 10 speed road bike…then came the sporting swimsuits; I figured i needed a suit that wasn’t either sequined or ruffled, but in retrospect I suppose 3 might have been overkill…but I would be swimming a LOT…right? The fancy goggles (needed) the shiny pink helmet (needed, though certainly not practical), the compressed air gun and tire changing tools and fancy aerodynamic bag to store them in; necessary right? (despite not being totally sure of how to change a bike tire)….it also couldn’t hurt to grab a few new running clothes (a few bras, a cute new skirt, some tops) (since I am also training for another half marathon this year and would be doing plenty of running and put them to good use. (like the 265 other pieces of running clothes that I may already own).

That one little $30 ‘justifiable’ purchase spawned a big ugly bike lube drenched slippery slope of a train wreck…and I was embarrassed…but I just kept BUYING…egged on by the deep down feelings of having already failed, mixed with the addictive thrill of the acquisitions…I couldn’t stop.

I had at least 4 packages arrive last week. The triathlon event was over 3 weeks ago.

EPIC.

FAIL.

Luckily, I have learned quite a lot from my train wreck (so maybe it wasn’t a total waste).

I certainly wasn’t ready to ‘break the rules’ even if it did seem perfectly innocent at the time…I wasn’t strong enough. I hadn’t come as far as I thought I had. I now truly recognize that frenzied feeling…and I don’t think it should ever be entertained.

There is a big struggle that comes with my project that I didn’t suspect, that being,that by actively trying to ‘try’ new experiences I often end up finding myself in the position of needing ‘things’ to accommodate the adventures. The girls want to keep moving onward and upward in the triathlon world and the old steel road bike with the sticky rear brake just wont cut it…so Im saving my pennies for a nicer bike one day, and letting them have the fun in that for now. I did end up enjoying the cycling ever so much…but for now, other challenges to explore…ones that don’t involved any more new stuff.

Like say, skydiving…all I needed was a pair of shoes I already owed, some crazy friends, and a little less lunch then I’m used to…and off we went.

It was AMAZING. I’ve truly never felt more alive than when I was falling a kilometre every 18 seconds.

A great way to kick off a new year of living with less. Yes I’m going to start again, at the beginning. The very best place to start. Truthfully I’m totally rattled though…its a funny feeling, most of the time I’m sure I could do anything (like say jump out of a plane or run a marathon. Hell, Id wrestle an alligator next Tuesday if the opportunity presented itself…but this project is SO hard for me…its now one thing that I’m not certain that I can do. But as my friend Dory would say… “just keep swimming…”

So, here we go. Again.

Humbled and hopeful,

“Lindsey Loo Who”. (cute though right??)

Please don’t offer me your modern methods, I’m fixin to carve this out of wood.

May 7, 2011

I often say that I’ve never really liked young people…even when I was one. And there are certainly many days in my life where I have longed for the company of my elders…if for nothing else than to absorb every last bit of common sense that they seem to be so richly in abundance of.

Today on this eve of mothers day, it has been as though the universe is trying to remind me of something that I was once very much aware of…Those ‘older’ people..they know how to (insert what ever it is that you want to do here). At least it usually turns out that way in my case.

Earlier today the car got a desperately needed wash (my mother would have NEVER let it get even 1/4 this bad)…and while we were driving through the $14 deluxe hands free contraptions washing process, I was thinking back to the days when mom and I would grab some buckets and sponges and the hose and wash the car on the driveway (or in the garage in the winter), driving to and paying for a car wash seemed ridiculous back then. I smiled with the memories all the way through the automated washing bay and then as we were pulling out of the turbo blasting dryer area, the car just died….another turn of the key and is was running, and then it died …again and again we played this game start/stall, start/stall…finally managing to get it to a safe place to park just outside the bay doors…I did the first thing I could think of doing…I called my Dad.

My dad is super capable with just about everything mechanical…so I was confident that he would know exactly what was going wrong and would be able to tell me how to fix it. The conversation went something like this…

dad: “Hello”
me: “Hey Dad, um, I need your help”
dad: “Okay, whats up?”
me: “Well we just washed the car and now it keeps stalling,I lifted the casing and noticed there is a pile of corrosion on the battery contacts, is that causing it do you think?”
dad: “Are the connections loose?, you really should make sure you clean those off regularly, a little baking soda and water will work..”
…I wiggle the connections…
me: “No, they are tight”
dad: “Hmm, well…did you wash it yourself, or go through an automatic car wash with a fairly strong blast under the car?”
me: “um, Yeah…but, you’re sure it’s not the battery?”
dad: “Yes Linds I’m sure… is it raining there today?”
me: “No its lovely out…and except for the car being totally toast and Gavin needing to be at the Airport in a few hours the day is just freaking PERFECT…*grumble*”
…Dad ignores my tone that is bordering on frenzied and a bit insane…
dad:  “Okay good, open the hood and leave it open, lock the car and walk somewhere and get a coffee or something, take a half hour or so, then it should be fine.”
(long pause)

me : “………..The car is protesting because it wants a freaking coffee??…!”

As it turns out, the ridiculously strong jets that washed the underside of the car had soaked some of the electrical connections and they simply needed to dry out…The car is totally fine now…just like Dad said it would be. See? They know EVERYTHING.

So off I went to pick up a few supplies for one of my newest projects. Remember how I said that part of my goal was to get back to being creative? Another part of the challenge is the not buying of ‘stuff’ even for gifts…so making things is now the only way that I can give a physical gift. I’m all cool with that, and was excited to pick up a few things to get me started back on the road to creative goddess status. First up: a simple crochet project for one of my new nieces. Smirk.

I should have realized as I stood in the supply aisle, dazedly  fondling some pretty organic cotton yarn and quizzically  eyeing all the hooks and tools on the wall, that just because I had once crocheted back when I was ten ( I also took up knitting in my 20’s, but it’s hardly the same thing, and even that was years and years ago), that I was in WAY over my head. Nothing of the sort occurred to me , even as a little old lady in the same aisle eyed me in my naive state skeptically. I was confident that my ability to read and past experience would have me producing cute and modern woven goods in no time flat.

I purchased one skein from the clearance bin just to practice on and one appropriately sized crochet hook. My practice looks something like this…

yikes

Ill give you a few seconds to recover from your laughing fit and dry those eyes.

No I wasn’t attempting to create anything of any substance (I can’t seem to follow the cryptic instructions well enough to be constructive anyway) …I was going on all that I could remember from when Mrs. Dixie Fenton, my elderly neighbour when I was little had taught me. (Mrs.Fenton also taught me how to sew and to make coleslaw and meatballs in gravy and to bake bread) Apparently, despite her thorough efforts, all the I have retained of the crochet lessons is how to make a chain. AWESOME.

As I muddle through page after page of tutorials and project cards, I’m longing for the company of a sweet crafty elderly woman, Im missing Mrs. Fenton…Im not sure there is any better way to learn this stuff…but alas, Im stuck without the personal knowledge of even 1 little old lady…so my next stop will be Youtube…and when that fails…I will be trolling the hallways of the many old folks homes in my area in search of new friends.

In other news, one of my favourite little luxuries ran out recently…a small soy candle that smelled of warm butter, sugar and spices (it was supposed to smell like gingerbread, so I guess that is pretty close, but it mostly smelled of warm butter with sugar whipped in, like when you are making cookies). I had it on my desk at work to help me through dull or stressful days, and it worked marvellously.  I mourned its passing sadly…and then remembered a lesson in frugality and craftiness that my mom had taught me back in kindergarten. Mom used to collect all the little nubs of used candles and  wax crayons and the shavings from the sharpening of them and then submerge a tin can of the coloured remnants into hot water on the stove and use the resulting molten goo to make new little candles in baby food jars with my class on parent volunteer days (most likely to serve as either Christmas or Mothers day gifts to take home). There is a little rim of the Soy wax still stuck to the sides of the container, about 1-2 ounces (like a small shots glass’ worth Id say), and I must have a dozen other candles in nearly such a state…so a little experiment in layered yummy soy candle making is in the works…and I think it will be lovely. This way I can stretch out the enjoyment of one of my favourite, ‘little luxuries” and feel crafty and productive…TWO BIRDS!!!

Today I’m a little sad that I live so far away from my parents (the only elders in my life that I have a connection to)…I want to learn every last bit of (whatever it is I may want to know at the time) while they are still around…Im glad I was able to spend such an awesome childhood being involved in projects like building the dock, painting the sheds and helping to rewire the lamp, or install the dishwasher or kitchen tiles…but I still have what feels like  lifetime of ‘skills’ to learn from ‘the older folks’…

Tomorrow, instead of a mother’s day card in the mail, Im emailing my mom a little video we made today with us and the two dogs to wish her a happy day and tell her how much we love her. My mom would rather see our smiling faces and hear our voices than read a card any day…and it fits within my little project very nicely.

Here’s a little treat, enjoy this song by the I believe one day to be LEGENDARY, Brandon Flowers (where I swiped the blog title from)  Magdalena 

Ah, and while you are at it, you may as well enjoy this one too, on the topic of age…Only the young
Now, anyone want to loan me their Gramma?

Page Turners

April 5, 2011

My library card and I have been a great team lately, and I’ve been reading up a storm, courtesy of our awesome public library system. I think we will have a long and healthy relationship. I’ve decided to name her Winnie (the card of course, the system already has a long and lackluster name, for which clearly, I was not consulted).

 Over the weekend I popped into my small neighborhood branch to return a few books and to take out a ‘dummies’ book on Crochet (just my speed). I was so thrilled when the librarian asked if Id like the latest copy of ‘Yoga Journal’ to take out today, as they had just received it and it wasn’t out on the shelf yet. Now that is SERVICE, she must have noticed that I have taken out the previous copies over the past months. I smiled widely at her and happily accepted. I had just that morning been very tempted by the same magazine issue at the drug store while I was there mailing a few letters. Can you say ‘not-shopping fate?” :)  Yes Ma’am.

 The funny thing about my reading materials as of late, is that although many of the books seem totally unrelated to each other, most of them have a few pages or chapters of common thread, generally something to do with letting go of stuff, mental stuff and physical stuff as well as letting go of ‘ideas’ about who you are and opening your self up to new ideas and change. All of the ones listed below I have found inspiring and informative and a pleasure to read. Most have been uplifting and somehow all helping me work through the issues of ‘self’ that are so intrinsic to any type of addictive behavior.

 I met a friend for a run and brunch on Sunday and she mentioned that I seemed so much calmer than I used to. I’ll take that as a great reflection of the lessons I’m absorbing from the reading I’ve been doing, and a healthy byproduct of some regular Yoga and lots of ‘navel gazing’.

One surprisingly enlightening book that I borrowed simply for the health and wellness perspective was ‘Quantum Wellness’ by Kathy Freston. One of my loves is reading books on all perspectives on wellness and especially eating and food production. I’m interested in seeing the angle that the author is coming from, whether I agree with their stance or not, and I love spotting the commonalities among many of the different hypothesis’s that I read about.  Kathy is a well-known New York Times best-selling author, and life coach, who just happened to be a successful fashion model back in the day that chose her current path over modeling as that lifestyle did not suit her.(Atta girl). Her writing flows so nicely and is packed with information. She touches on mental wellbeing as well and physical wellbeing from a number of angles, and uses the input of medical professionals when appropriate. I was surprised to find a very well written chapter on letting go of habits and addictions. It’s a great read for anyone with an open mind about health and wellness, lifestyle and dietary changes and personal growth. Freston is Vegan and a small part of the book deals with that, but is not preaching or shoving anything (not even kale) down your throat.  (yum) A very well-rounded read. Highly recommended.

Favorite Quote:

“Indulging an addiction or negative habituation is an understandable grab at having a better experience of life, but it never works for long. It can’t because we are meant to come to know our true Spirit, the love within and around us – our connectedness with Spirit and with each other. False gods will always be exposed for what they are – hollow promises of deliverance.”

The reason that I had even heard of ‘Quantum Wellness’, was from Kathy’s recent appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, where her new book ‘Veganist’ was featured. (Yes, I agree, one of her close friends needs to tell her to think a little longer about her book titles)

I’ve dabbled with a Vegan diet in the past and like I mentioned above, am always interested in learning about this kind of stuff. If nothing else reading about other ways of life helps a person to see past their comfort zone and let go of those notions of what is ‘normal’. It never hurts to try something new! So I picked it up to give it a scan and devoured it.  (Pun intended) Again this one is packed with easy to digest information. (there I go again with the puns). There is only one chapter that is hard to read and she warns you about it and encourages you to skip over it, if you know you are not ‘ready’ for it yet. I appreciated that immensely, as a lot of books that focus on Veganism really emphasize the horrific treatment of animals in mainstream industrial food processing. I understand why they do, but as someone already familiar with this information, I enjoyed Kathy’s more delicate and well-rounded approach. I very lightly skimmed that chapter, knowing that I could not stomach much of what would be elaborated on. I really enjoy Freston’s writing style as again, this book was not at all pushy or finger-wagging. It was informative, open-minded and offered easy ways for meat lovers to ‘lean in’ to eating a more plant-based diet than they are accustomed to, as well as discussing ‘wellness’ from other perspectives such as mental and spiritual and providing some recipes and menus.

Another one, again a total surprise, was ‘Bikram Yoga’ by Bikram Choudhury. Picked up to help further my understanding of his particular series of Yoga poses, I expected nothing more from the book other than a how-to description of and perhaps a bit on the benefits of each posture. As far as the general public is concerned, he is basically a total lunatic (or a total genius depending on how you look at it), so I expected a bit of flamboyant writing and some lofty claims (which I found and enjoyed). What I didn’t expect is a wonderful and entertaining read, touching on everything from finding peace in rush hour traffic, to changing habits and addictions, all mixed into information on the healing powers of yoga and Bikrams incredibly fascinating life history. This one is on my list of books that I one day must own so that I can read again and again and again.

Favorite Quotes: (again this one has chapters and chapters of great ones)

“Being a slave to desire causes us to neglect our real needs. And in a culture of materialism, desire is rampant. Our downfall here comes when we expect that having things we want will satisfy us;[…] Thinking that way, when we feel the incredibly brief, transitory kind of satisfaction or happiness that getting a new toy brings, we confuse it with the real, deep, permanent satisfaction that is available to us.”

“Developing self-control circles back to faith. If you lacked faith and did not believe in yourself then there would be no motivation to achieve moral discipline.”

A friend and fellow newbie to consciously ‘living with ‘less’’ recommended that I get a hold of a copy of ‘The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay. This is a fabulous read, including step by step suggestions on how to attack purging your house and entire life of excess, and clutter,but also deals with the mental weight of the clutter, and the personal struggles with letting go of your attachment to ‘stuff’. Lets face is, we ALL like our ‘stuff’ a little too much more than we should. This read offered so much more than I expected, and is one that I consider to be an essential handbook for anyone wanting to simplify their life and lean toward a more minimalist existence. Love love loved it, and I’m sad to have to set it free again into the library system…though I guess it will be a great lesson to have to do so, and its nice to know that it can very well help another person along the way.

Favorite Quote:

“You are not what you own.”

There are a few more great reads that I’ve been enjoying, but I’ve got to stop somewhere. Most, if not all of these ones will be back in the Saskatchewan Library system this week, so if you are interested in checking them out you know where to find them. Otherwise I encourage you to send me suggestions on books that you think that I might enjoy or find helpful on my journey, Id love to know what you are reading lately!

On a related note, stay tuned for the details of my upcoming book-swap. It will be a lovely evening of book sharing and naturally some great conversations and tasty beverages hosted at my home. I’m planning for a Saturday evening, but have yet to nail down a date.  Please send me an email if you would like to bring some friends and join in on the fun. The more the merrier. Don’t feel like you must have books to swap, all of mine will be up for the taking as I’m trying to clear them out. Any books left over at the house after the evening will be donated to the fabulous public library system.

Happy Reading!

That Which Matters Most

March 25, 2011

That which matters the most, should never give way to that which matters the least.

 Yes, I understand the irony in starting off my latest anti-consumption rant with a quote off the side of a Lululemon shopping bag…however ‘Ridiculous’ most likely should have been my middle name…and during my recent vacation adventure, this phrase kept hitting me again and again.

I wondered how it took me so many years to realize that by entertaining my lust for shopping, and acquiring all these little things that I ‘needed’ at the time, that I was basically taking away what mattered most to me, and replacing it with things that really mattered very little (though at the time I could think of nothing more important that buying them). Perhaps I didn’t know what really mattered most to me, but it certainly wasn’t the shoes, or the kitchen gadgets, or the stretchy pants…or the latest book on how to live healthfully.

Being very much a visually oriented person, I experience what can only be described as a feeling of euphoria when my eyes fall upon something stunning, or different from what I’m used to. After all, I’m the nerd who walks around taking photos of fallen rotten trees for the interesting texture, or a close up of shadows dancing on the moss on a rock if the lighting is great. A change of scenery has truly an epic effect on me. I feel instantly inspired, instantly younger, curious and full of moxie. I feel alive, like I’m going to burst if I don’t start creating. I (and my camera) am reminded of this each time that I arrive in a place that I’ve never seen. Previously I had mistaken these effects as simple results of being away from ‘work’ or the doldrums of home… but this time I was aware that I was experiencing these feelings more acutely, and I chalk that up with not being completely distracted by the frenzy of finding the ‘perfect’ souvenir, or obsessing over the amazing ‘deals’ at the local outlets and markets.

You’d think I would have realized what mattered most to me many years ago, as I explored the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY and came across an exhibit on Elizabethan décor. One portion of the exhibit caught my eye and the combination of the items, and the care and creativeness by which the collection had been put together nearly brought me to my knees as I reached blindly for a nearby bench to sit down and started to spontaneously weep. I was totally overwhelmed and sat there appreciating the beauty for nearly an hour. Something was sending me a message, but that day, instead of listening, I decided to purchase a book on fashion history…and didn’t even take one photograph of the exhibit that had so affected me.

Being in the Southern Arizona desert last week had me feeling like a child in the very best way. I was enthralled with the fact that the mountains there are covered saguaros (Cacti) and not coniferous trees, I immediately fell in love with the local wild gang of pests called javelinas (collared peccaries), and giggled each time a quail strolled by, or a Roadrunner ripped through the yard. I delighted in the sounds of rattlesnake tails and coyotes howling and wondered what Wiley and his Roadrunner were up to. The adobe architecture, the land, the diverse and bizarre foliage, and the sky all drew me in, often rendering me silent (which is almost totally unheard-of). I was wide-eyed and giddy at ever single sight. Totally inspired, I wanted to sculpt and paint and dance all at once.

So what? I like cacti? No, I don’t think that’s it. What it is, I think, is that my surroundings matter to me more than almost anything; they are my most powerful source of inspiration. I can find beauty anywhere; after all I love my little City of Regina, but a fresh view really gets me fired up, which is partially which I appreciate the clear change of seasons I experience here.

So what’s more important, the ‘perfect for me’ house with an awesome view of the seasons changing, that lets in all the sunlight I could ever want, or the stuff to decorate it, or fill the closets with? Lengthening a getaway in a new and interesting landscape that inspires so much creativity in me, or spending that money at the gift shop? Not spending my income on stuff not only ‘free’s up’ my mind to more fully enjoy what matters more to me, but also allows me the means to plan more adventures.

I’ve been spending all these years obsessing over the acquisition of things assuming they are making me truly happy, while I ignored my real self and remained blind to what would really make my soul happy.

Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows that generally my focus (especially in North American destinations) is where the good shopping is. I typically come home having well exceeded the ‘limit’. This trip was transformational, I spent most of my time deciding which rock to take pictures of, and hunting the silly Javelinas…after all they are totally adorable, no?

I’m planning a little blog post on what I did while roaming the desert full of lots of photos…but it’s been a few busy days back in the ‘real’ world so I’ll have to owe you that one soon.

In other news, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson has recently hit the Forbes magazine list of billionaires. He ranks 651st on the list of 1,210 billionaires, with his wealth reaching $1.9 billion. That amount placed Wilson just outside of Canada’s 15 richest people. Lululemons success is due in great part to their unique marketing strategies and inventory control, which deserve an entire blog entry or two of their own. For now, I shall simply congratulate Chip and say, “you’re welcome”.

Oh and here’s a quail just for good measure  :)

Do These Shoes Have a Soul?

March 6, 2011

So, I’ve hit a major bump in the purging process. I think I’ll call this bump, ‘Nostalgia’. Funny word, nostalgia, sounds like something in between a Disney Princess and a chronic communicable disease. Today is making me feel like I’m dead right on that one, and it’s left me wondering; is there a difference between a ‘treasure’ and an object of nostalgia?

It’s an understatement to say that these beauties have seen far better days. The leather soles are worn, (okay WORN is another understatement, they look like they are made out of oatmeal and tar) the once gorgeous silver and gold uppers are scuffed and peeling and the elastic on the straps have completely lost their stretch…

Brought into the fold in the height of my utterly enjoyed, though generally irresponsible single girl life, these shoes have seen it all.

They have been on first dates and last dates, many of which happened on the same night. They have danced the night away and walked home at 3am. They’ve stood in huddles sharing after hour’s pizza with the best girlfriends. They’ve jogged, skipped and hopped their way across pavement, gravel and snow, wearing everything from business suits to puffy crinoline dresses. They’ve seen epic New Years Eve parties. They have danced with Neil Patrick Harris. They’ve kissed total strangers, and attended fabulous weddings. They were there the day I went blond. They’ve been sang to by the lead singer of a cheesy (yet remarkably talented) cover band. They were there when ‘The Cuz’ gave me the only nickname that ever really stuck. They’ve hailed cabs all over the place. They’ve left their number on a coaster for the bartender, who yes, incidentally, did call. They were there that fabulous evening, only two weeks into our relationship, that I met all of my future husbands’ friends and family. These shoes have lived.

Well okay, let’s not be totally ridiculous, of course they haven’t LIVED…but they were there for so much ‘life’, like the perfect, quiet, yet sparkly ‘wing-woman’, who just happens to go with absolutely everything. So is it totally weird that I feel that even considering letting them go, seems like some sort of bitch slap in their face? A kind of ‘thanks for all the good times old girl, but you’re looking kind of tired, and there are lots of newer shinier models in the closet’…I’m feeling like a dirty old man who tosses aside the old broad for a young strumpet…like I’m the one who deserves the bitch slap.

I’m so attached to them, I feel like I will MISS them horribly, even though; I likely won’t ever wear them ever again. Is it so hard to let go of them because they remind me of so many ridiculous and wonderful times? Is it that I feel like letting them go, means letting go of a part of me that I loved but grew out of? Am I the only one who attaches so much ‘soul’ to a simple thing? Why do we grow so attached to our stuff? Are these a true treasure, or simply an object of nostalgia?

They aren’t ‘useful’ anymore, but I just can’t let them go. Not yet. Are they a treasure? Maybe, I think so…gah – really though, the memories are the real treasures. How many ‘physical’ treasures can you keep for the sake of the memories, knowing that they are just collecting dust and taking up valuable closet space? Isn’t the point of memories that you remember your experiences? Am I afraid I’ll forget if I don’t have them around? I want to keep them, but I’m worried that this same ‘nostalgia’ bump is going to keep getting in the way of other ‘keep vs. throw’ decisions to come. Is keeping them a slippery slope?

How about I keep them if I promise to create an opportunity to wear them proudly, rocking them, scuffs and all?

No. (Because that’s not very likely).

How about if I promise that one day when I’m very old, and can no longer dance the night away that I’ll slip them on and remember the weddings, the walks homes, the huddles, the dates, and the weeks that I met the love of my life? OK?

Then I’m keeping them.

For now.

Lets be honest though, ‘old lady me’ will likely just end up sitting there holding them and dreaming that N.P.H wasn’t actually gay.

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Letting go of your ‘stuff’ can be really difficult. In ‘Throw out Fifty Things’ the author talks a little about your ‘brand’. She is speaking about your ‘business brand’ but I think everyone has a personal brand, an image of their best self that they should build upon, whether they know it or not. I’m keeping these shoes partially because I think they fit with my overall positive vision of me…and partially because when I look at them they inspire a sense of glamour and creativity in me, and of course for the memories. Here is one of the author’s thoughts on branding and how it can help you make ‘Throw out’ decisions…

“Throw out absolutely everything that either blurs or detracts from your brand – or drags you back to some false or negative idea of yourself. Be brutal.”

I haven’t done the ‘be brutal’ final sweep of the closets yet (more will surely drop), and there is still lots of ground to cover (I haven’t started on the ‘shoe bins’ in the basement even), but here’s how it’s going so far…

Throw -out’ / donation Score Card

3 ‘used up’ pairs of runners, (I was ‘saving’ them for dog walking and grass cutting etc, but I already have much cuter shoes for those occasions anyway.)

3 Pairs inexpensive strappy sandals that never get worn

4 Pairs of high heals that I can do without

4 Tubes of lipstick that make me look nasty (and not in a good way)

2 ‘meh’ nail polishes

3 ‘meh’ eye shadows

6 Old t-shirts that were previously kept to be sleeping/working in the yard clothes, but I like to look cute when I’m doing either one, so they all need to go.

2 summer dresses that would be better worn by teenagers.

1 never worn silver one piece bathing suit. (Don’t remember being a ‘Bond Girl’ when I bought it, but I must have been) Plus my torso is too short to look fab in 1 pieces.

1 blouse still with tags that is 2 sizes too big and always has been

1 Beautiful hand embroidered tank top that reminds me of some sad times, so I never wear it.

1 pair camouflage tights (for boot-camp, naturally) still with tags, and a little too small.

1 Pair knee-length gym shorts with tags on, as they look crappy on me

1 Black sweatshirt that is dullsville

1 tweed dress that I haven’t reached for in years

1 long white skirt that is just a little too country and not enough rock n’ roll

1 Pair workout pants that are too long and are missing a drawstring

1 ball cap for running that’s too big for my head (I know, imagine that)

3 sports bras that I never reach for

1 Pair never worn giant dangly earrings

3 Regular bras that don’t do the girls enough justice

Various pairs of drab socks and undies

1 Skirt that sits too high on the hip, but isn’t supposed to.

4 Sweaters that look as though someone’s mother bought them, (and not in a good way)

60+ books (so far…still more to look though) that need someone else to read them

Countless magazines

1 Orange trench coat

1 designer top that I used to rock all the time, but is just not me anymore

1 Pair perfect brown crocodile boots with a ‘timelessly pointed toe’ :)

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Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to comment publicly below, or shoot me an email @ theluxuryofless@gmail.com

A Hungry Ghost

February 28, 2011

It’s been a rough week.

Thursday was particularly hard for me, having to talk myself out of buying 5 things in just the one afternoon; 3 books (not available at the library, and a great price on amazon.ca), a high end juicer (found on usedregina.com for an incredible STEAL of a deal), and a gorgeous pair of work out stretchies (neither a deal nor at all necessary, but really really cute).

For me, deals are so hard to ignore, they leave me feeling shaky and panicked. This week, not being allowed to pull the trigger on these purchases, felt like torture.

Since the beginning of the challenge only one month ago, I’ve been compiling a list of things that I will purchase as soon as I am able to in a little over 11 months. At first, it was simply a way of not forgetting about and keeping track of the things I am surely still going to want. It’s actually turned into an incredible bit of therapy. There are currently 12 things on the list (yes that’s an average of 3 per week!), the totally unexpected part though is that things have been added to the list, and days later scratched off as they no longer seemed at all desirable or necessary. The ease at which I dumped them off the list just days later, was a stark contrast to the intense and frenzied feelings of necessity when I added them to the list in the first place. Suddenly I realized one of the benefits of not making an impulse purchase.

This is an EPIC result for me. Before my challenge, all 5 of the items from my Thursday panic would have been purchased easily in under an hour, no sweat, no second thoughts. On Thursday, all 5 were added to the ‘next year’ list…and just a few days later, only 1 of the 5 remains on the list…

I think February is tough on anyone who lives in a colder climate.

I am certain that I’m not the only one who has been grinning and bearing winter all these months, I had been doing really well actually, only to find myself finally snapping during this last miserable week of the month. Suddenly I was spiralling into depression, not wanting to get out of bed, ranting insanely to my husband that our house was not big enough or sunny enough to actually lead a happy life in, craving junk food, sobbing over how the dogs get in my way all the time, or how I think one of them smells like fish and its ruining my desire to entertain guests, or erupting in dramatic dissertations about feeling isolated, stifled and unfulfilled with the daily dull drums of my life. Most of it was complete nonsense. The one truth coming out of it all was that clearly I’m struggling with feeling fulfilled, but I doubt it has anything to do with the spirited dogs, or our lovely home…

I’m in withdrawal…Well more accurately I’m starting to face the ‘epicenter’ of my addiction. Just one month without my ‘fix’ and I’m becoming painfully aware of how much I had been using my shopping to distract me from my nagging inner turmoil and dis-contentment.

So I finally dug into “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” this weekend (its smelling much better)…and there it was, first page…

“This is the domain of addiction, where we constantly seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present”

I was totally amazed. First, that page after page of the book was describing exactly what I had been feeling…but also, I was amazed that it took me years and years to realize that I was medicating with shopping. Honestly, it hit my only 3 months ago that I may actually have an issue.

So yes, it was a tough week with a few tantrums and enough tears that I broke out the special reserve wrinkle cream for a deep moisturizing treatment.

A few healthy meals, a good workout, and some fantastic times with friends over the weekend, and I’m feeling much more positive. Hopeful.

Meanwhile, I’m still sorting through my ‘stuff’, getting rid of lots (which I’m finding to be totally exhilarating!)…planning a book exchange for the near future, and looking into some volunteer opportunities. I’ve been reading up a storm, and very sparingly using all my ‘use –up able’ items (like my lovely organic face wash that somehow delightfully smells faintly of ‘Pez’ candy, which I loved as a child) in order to stretch them out. So I guess you could say I have stopped with the pouting for now, and am pulling up my big girl socks (though they may have little pink hearts on them and a ruffle at the top) to get back on track.

After one month of not buying anything, I can’t say that it’s getting any easier, actually I think it’s getting a little harder. I expect I have a mountain to climb before it gets easier. The most amazing thing though, is that despite knowing that I have a pile of ghosts to deal with, and a lot of work to do…its already feels like I’m making some progress.

I think it’s working.

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Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to comment publicly below, or shoot me an email @ theluxuryofless@gmail.com

Welcome to Socialism

February 17, 2011

I’m lucky enough that I get to enjoy ‘moonlighting’ 3 hours every week at a small, locally owned, organic grocery store. The small sacrifice of that little bit of time, affords me the luxury of being able to bring organic groceries into my home each week, and the hourly wage for the most part pays for the weekly produce. Apart from gaining me a staff discount and insider access to amazing produce and other healthy foods, working there allows me to meet and have great conversations with many very interesting, diverse and healthy people, who often share many of my interests.

During my most recent shift I met a local farmer, who had come in looking for a product; he had the specific brand and product name written on a pink sticky note, likely composed by his wife or doctor, as he seemed to be totally unaware of what it really was…animal, vegetable…mineral? I led him over to the display and showed him his options; we talked about which was the best ‘deal’ , based on size, etc. The conversation grew into a discussion of lentils and beans (which he grows himself), then into quinoa (which he has recently started experimenting with in the kitchen), and then he asked if I knew whether or not a person could grow yams in our area, and where might he find seeds. Honestly, I had no idea; my expertise had been spent on extolling the glory of lentils in ‘healthy cookies’ and describing the ‘nutty’ flavor of black quinoa. But as luck would have it, I just happened to be planning on attending a seed swap and information session in a few weeks specifically aimed at growing in our area. So, I let him know that I would check it out for him and report back, even pick up some seeds for him there, if they existed. He was thrilled with that and as he walked out with his big bottle of Tamari and a huge yam, he promised to come back to see me and chat very soon.

 During another evening at the shop I met a lovely woman, perhaps just a bit older than me. She was picking up her weekly produce bin and the conversation somehow came to discussing my blog. I mentioned that I was looking to get ‘into’ using the library, a concept embarrassingly foreign to me. Incredibly, she just happened to be a Librarian at one of the local branches.

“That is AWESOME” I exclaimed. “I’ve been all over the website, and I plan on coming in very soon, but I can’t seem to find the price for a library card anywhere…”

”Oh” she said knowingly. “…you must be from Alberta.”

 “Well yes, actually I am, originally!” I replied.

 In response, she gushed, “Well…Welcome to Socialism!”

 The library cards here are free.

FREE.

I was completely astounded.

As in… books… for …FREE! Literally something fabulous for absolutely NOTHING!

Books are certainly one of my shopaholic triggers, I LOVE books. I love the way they smell and feel. I love the sense I get when I am about to start a fresh read, a feeling like I am becoming a more educated, eclectic, and better person with every smooth, crisp page that I turn.

I’ve been known to devour an entire book in one sitting. Prior to this project, trips to the bookstore generally meant a stack of books at least 5 high coming home with me, (along with possibly some cute novelty tissues, a bar of chocolate, and erasers shaped like slices of toast and jam). When I’m not in the book store; Amazon.ca is my drug of choice. Naturally, a gal has to order enough ‘moneys worth’ to get free shipping, so although I went ‘shopping’ for just one cookbook, Ill generally pick out 3. Most of the books that I purchase last an evening or two until they are read, then they float around the house from coffee table to shelf,  and then eventually sit stacked into one of many plastic storage bins in the basement full of other ‘finished’ books in my collection.

I’m certainly a gal who needs to become more familiar with the idea of borrowing.

More than 30 people were standing outside and at least 30 more standing just inside the exterior doors when we arrived. I figured that there must be a cool movie showing at the theatre in the basement, or a large group meeting in one of the conference rooms.

 When the doors opened and the crowd flooded in, the husband and I headed right for the front desk. After first stating that I needed to get a library card, I went on to gesture with flailing, emphatic arms and ask, “so what’s going on today?” Stunned, the clerk looks up from her screen, glancing over at doors still opening with a steady flow of  customers and says, “Oh, the line up?…it’s like that here everyday.”

All these people must be onto something.

After getting the lay of the land and perusing for about an hour, we went home with the latest issue of Yoga Journal magazine, a few books on container gardening, that copy of “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” a few books on wine making and a documentary film on DVD. I also placed an order through the online system for a few books that were at other locations across the province that will be soon delivered to my closest branch and held just for me! 
It felt almost wrong, all this stuff for free?
Yeah, yeah, I realize that I can’t keep them long-term (I have them for 3 weeks which is long enough for me to completely digest them), but the funny thing is that I don’t have any desire to keep them; I just want to take a good read of them, and then release them back into the world. Like a Sport Fisherman of shopping! All of the items that came home with me are in lovely condition, and even one smells perfectly new. The only one with any off-putting qualities ironically happens to be the book on beating addiction, which very faintly smells of cigarette smoke (and perhaps a splash of bourbon). I’m hoping it helped that soul escape the grips of there vice…eventually. In the mean time, I’m letting it air out a little before I read it, and instead using the other books to plan among other things how I’m going to grow potatoes and carrots in old large Lululemon shoppers (of which, upon inventory check,  I have enough to grow potatoes for all of China in.)   But seriously, this library thing is GOLD.

Who knew?

So it got me to thinking…What other goods and services, apart from ‘Seed swaps and information sessions’, and access to the world’s worth of magazines, books, music and movies can we gain for little or no cost? Have you ever considered working or trading your time a few extra hours a week in order to enjoy an expenditure that otherwise may feel exorbitant or irresponsible? What types of things are available in your community that if enjoyed could add a little more sense of luxury to your life?

Well for starters, who actually makes full use, or even any use, of the health benefits that many of us earn through our work? In addition to the usual teeth cleanings and such, the benefits from my full-time job even cover things like acupuncture, massage, chiropractor services, even psychiatry

So I’ve been looking into the details and plan on booking appointments and taking full advantage of these luxuries that for that most part have been previously ignored in our household. What about you?

Since I’m picking your brain anyway, does anyone have any great or unique ideas on charities or organizations that could make good use of my piles of old, (heavy emphasis on so-so cookbooks, fitness/health manuals and  beach read worthy British chick lit) (don’t judge) books? You know, something perhaps slightly more noble than holding down the foundation of my house?

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Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to comment publicly below, or shoot me an email @ theluxuryofless@gmail.com