Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Quality vs Quantity

While I don't feel the need to defend myself, my actions, choices, and beliefs, I will say that I am continually defining myself, my values, goals and focus. I've recently had several conversations with different people commenting and/or asking about my continuing assault on clutter and unnecessary items. In one of those discussions, my friend confessed that she had done some rad Christmas shopping and then second guessed herself because I've gotten rid of so much that she didn't want to just add to the piles and then have me purge it later on! (A valid concern and one I was deeply grateful for!)

My response was that I welcome gifts, especially ones that come directly from the heart, thoughtfully selected pieces that are designed to enhance my personal style and enjoyment. Another friend, who knows I love to read and that I always carry a book wherever I go, recently gifted me The Revenant (Great story and I cannot wait for the movie to come out!) I welcome these genuine gestures and I will likely never be without books, I don't think that is even possible. 

My quest is not about refusing anything, rather it is creating intentional space for what I want to experience in my every day reality. The issue, as I shared with her, isn't necessarily the"stuff" as much as it was that I hadn't practiced "catch and release" on a regular basis. Instead of really getting clear about what I want to surround myself with, setting the boundaries for personal purchasing and then taking time to discern what I TRULY wanted and needed, I continued to bring in more items but I wasn't diligent about letting go of the ones I was done with. This is one of the taproots of the clutter tree. Our possessions become overwhelming when we don't take the time to prune them. They invade our outer environments but they also cast a burden on the inner spaces (thoughts and emotions) as well. 

I am a sentimental person and therefore I do enjoy surrounding myself with reminders of those nearest and dearest to me, as well as having mementos of my travels and experiences. I also adhere to my personal style of decorating, designing and creating my living spaces. I do not adhere to any particular "theme" rather I just go with what feels right to me. If I had to name it, I'd call it "wabi sabi" style (random items that feel right).

When I started clearing my space, my focus was to pare down to what I most enjoyed and appreciated. That's what all the books and Youtube videos say. Even my training and a professional Feng Shui consultant advises that we Live with ONLY with what we love. As it turns out, I LOVE A LOT OF THINGS! And therein lies the challenge. I've challenged this by asking myself, "If I were to live out of an RV, what would I take along?" When one is on the road, one brings essentials and a few "treats". Space is limited so selection needs to be specific and focused.  I wouldn't bring the cool drum that my mom gifted me, but I love seeing it hang on the wall in my entry way. I wouldn't bring my collection of art books, but I would bring my journals, pens, and washi tape. So I ask myself, "What would it take to house only those items?" What comes to mind is discernment, presence, truth, will power and choice. All those are the necessary components behind the mindset of living intentionally. That said, they are not as easy to put into practice as one might hope. 

I'm in a semi-plateau phase right now. The initial endorphins of clearing out a lot of crap has given way to contentment. And while contentment is peaceful, it is not going to get me further along on my journey to living with fewer items. This past weekend I came face to face with my choices and the way of navigating them that was in alignment with my values and focus. There's nothing like a NIKE store to test one's personal resolve. One of my weaknesses is my "shoe game". Oh how I love shoes (and purses and bags and books). I have released A LOT of shoes and boots lately, so I do have the space. But that not it. Not at all. I don't need anymore shoes, but that doesn't mean I don't want them!

When I came across these beauties, I was smitten. Given the fact that I had on a pair of very flat, minimalist shoes, that were really hurting my feet, I took a look at the shoe wall. I tend to pack these shoes because they are light and don't take up much room. They are, however, not comfortable. I made the mistake tried these on. 

Ahhhh.Yes, these felt much better. My first thought was, "I really don't need these."  My next thought, as I looked down at the uncomfortable pair was, "Why am I wearing shoes that I don't love? Shoes that really don't feel good?" Next thought: "I could actually release the ones I have on, and a few more pairs that I have lying around at home." Quality versus quantity. I don't need that many shoes, but I do wish to have really good shoes to walk in, especially in the city. I've also been walking every day and the current workout shoes are showing some wear.....Wait... does this sound like I am justifying and rationalizing? Over a pair of shoes??? Scratch that. I wanted the damn things, they felt REALLY comfortable so.... I got them. I LOVE them (who wouldn't want a pair of cool "elite" snowflake shoes in December????) It makes me sort of feel like the grown-up, work out version of  the Frozen Chicks (I really don't know their names and I'm not going to take the time to Google it either. Pryce was over that move the first time she saw it so I have no references here... now if there were Lego characters, I might have a shot.......). 

I walked out of the store with the snowflake shoes. It wasn't until the next day, when I returned to purchase a vest (that story will appear in another post), that I learned that these shoes are "elite" to the Nike store in Chi Town. And... they had just been put out for purchase the day I walked into the store. The salesperson shared that they do not stay around very long and that I had had incredible luck. Cool. I don't know the first thing about current trends, let alone the Nike elite line or what day certain shoes are going to be released. I do know that I am on board with taking care of my body and and choosing comfortable shoes versus ones that hurt my feet. 

Now in saying this, multiple thoughts come to mind. I realize that this could sound like I am an advocate for "throw-away" society. I am not. No, I didn't have to have them. Yes, the money could have gone to something else. The means were available to make this purchase. I also released the former shoes to go to someone who can appreciate them (and someone who hasn't had two foot surgeries). I am no a proponent of buying new in every case, either. I do not devalue items due to age. (My kitchen table and chairs are worn and metal and older than I am). It's not about old or new, to me, it's about how the items feel. How something looks is important too, I enjoy the aesthetics. Look + feel, or feel + look, are important combinations to me. 

I share this not to highlight my scattered, random thought process but to share that it is important, when we are in the midst of redefining ourselves, our style, our values and focus that we do let ourselves have some leeway. I could have just as easily walked out of that store and not made the purchase. I would have still been the same happy, sweet, person (I'm working on the self-love thing, ok?!?) I believe this is a key component for living with what we love; knowing what we are buying and why we are REALLY buying something. 

I would not have missed any sleep over missing out on the snowflake Nike shoes. I thought long and hard about the purchase, what it symbolized and the reasons behind it. I am not an impulse shopper. I do put thought into what I buy and bring home. This was a significant moment and one that honored the work I've been doing and the work that I will continue to do to create intentional space. 

I do not feel an ounce of guilt for bringing in these lovely shoes. Not.one.bit. I employed the catch-n-release principle even before I got home (I left the other Nike's with Leah to donate or sell.) I also came home and added two more pairs of uncomfortable shoes in the sell/donate pile.

While it is true that we can only wear one pair of shoes at a time, I also think that what got me into this predicament in the first place is...choice and variety. I will say it is nice to have the option to select from a variety of choices, but it is a luxury, not a necessity. This is the next aspect that I am working through. Not that I want to limit my choices and I certainly do not want to cut off any potential receiving, I do want to define my style in a way that is clear and efficient. Choice is a good thing, especially when it is conscious. It is also way to easy to become unconscious of the MANY choices we have in every moment. 

My intention is not to live a limited life, in fact just the opposite. I am directly challenging the limited thinking that I've used as a way to keep myself safe and avoid disappointments. In fact, I am questioning everything, observing and redefining what it means to living intentionally with far fewer limitations---including the burden of more material items than what I have a need/use for, finding new uses and appreciation for what I already have and staying conscious to what I am purchasing. I'm still greatly challenged in all of this, especially with the Christmas season upon us and the feeling that I SHOULD purchase additional gifts for my kids. (That's yet another post....). 

I'm imploring the idea of quality versus quantity. I've already proven to myself that I don't need a lot. I can hop on a plane with just a backpack and be happy as a....turtle (that's more fitting than a clam!) My routine is lined out and I start my day with purpose and fluidity. I know what I most enjoy and I know my thoughts and actions are being directed toward these (bring on travel + live music!) Being in alignment feels GREAT! 

I'm applying the idea of quality to other aspects in my life as well; relationships, clothing, food and how I spend my time. There are certainly some loose ends to tie up, but hey, I have the proper (and rad) foot ware to meet those challenges! 

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