Downsizing.

Week 1 - 3693

I want to make a change in my life.  A big change.

A friend of mine from school is getting rid of everything she owns and leaving on a big travel adventure.  I find myself so jealous.  And not even for the adventure- well, maybe a little.  In thinking about leaving to go to school in the fall, I realize how much stuff I have, most of which means little or nothing to me.  It’s weighing me down, even just thinking about getting rid of all these things.  Some things I’ve been holding on to for years, and I couldn’t even tell you why.  Is it precious to me in some way? No.  Is it unique? No.  Would it be expensive or difficult to replace? No.  And scarier- have I used it lately? No.  Scarier still- Have I ever used it? No.  Why do I have these things?

I think it’s a feeling of security.  My parents (and their parents before them) worked hard for what they have- they still do.  And there is value in that, earning something.  Saving for something of quality.  But my generation, we have everything we need, and too much more.  Things are so plentiful and so easy to attain that we all own way more than we need. Sure, most things I own are really cheap, or hand-me-downs – there’s nothing wrong with that, but I rarely say no when someone offers to give me something.  And I take it home, put it on a shelf somewhere, and there it stays.  Of all the things I own (excluding artwork/things I’ve made), very few are things that I feel I’ve worked hard for, earned, or value in a real way.  It’s been about accumulating, or getting a leg up, so to speak.  Or saving broken umbrellas for a rainy day.

And I think it’s costing me something.  How much more money would we have, if we didn’t feel the need to go shopping for more clothes, or my biggest weakness, books?  How much more freedom would we have? How much more would we value and take care of the things we do own? As I think about leaving to go back to school, I am amazed at how much crap I own.

I’ve realized that I do it with things like art supplies and groceries too. I buy more material than I anticipate needing to build a certain project, even taking into account the possibilities of mis-measurement and errors.  For instance, I bought four yards of burlap a few months ago, and for what?  I don’t know.  I still haven’t used it, and don’t know if I will.

B and I always buy certain things at the grocery store that we never seem to eat at home.  I don’t know how many bags of dry noodles and spaghetti sauce are in our cupboards, or cans of soup. Or frozen vegetables, perogies, or burritos. How much food do we throw out of the fridge because there’s been too many “better choices” to eat, or even that we’ve forgotten it’s there?  I think on some level I am afraid that at some point in time, there won’t be enough, or we will run out, and so I have got to collect and hoard as much as I can while I’m here.  Do you see how much of a problem this is?  How fear, even unarticulated, could cause so many problems which, if I could just change my point of view, might be fairly easily avoided?  And the reality is, I’ve never been in need of anything that wasn’t somehow attainable to me.

Wow.  We are priviledged, to be able to afford to be so spoiled.

So, it’s time to make a change, for me, at least.   I want to be more conscious of what I spend my money on, what I actually need and use, versus what I think I need and use.  I want to clean the “garbage” and unused supplies out of my studio and my life, the things I’ve been saving for God-knows-what reason.  The clothes that I don’t like, or that don’t fit. The ratty towels that never get used.  I want to start to buy groceries so much more consciously, keeping in mind what I can and will eat before food goes rotten or gets forgotten about.  I want to spend my money that much more consciously, not doing what is convenient all the time, but what might have the most value in it for me.  I want to have enough – enough food, enough things, enough money, enough experiences, and enough freedom – to enjoy my life and what it could be, but not so much that I am limiting myself with too many possessions (which could be related to bills), too many responsibilities (working to pay for the things), too much food, etc, etc. etc.

Time to make a change.

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So here’s my experiment.  The photo at the top of the post is $36.93 worth of groceries (yes, Cracker Barrel was on sale).  You can see that I was trying to eat healthy, although there are a few treats in there.  I am planning to track how I eat this week, where exactly this $36.93 goes and how far it lasts, with one exception- I had some hamburger meat and taco shells set out for dinner before I went to the store, so they’ll be part of that too.  B will not be included in this, as 1) He and I don’t have similar eating habits- he won’t eat most of this anyway, and 2) his schedule is so busy with running his Taekwondo club that he’s not home for meals anyway.

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PS> As the next few months pass, up until August, I will be giving away/ selling a lot of things, those of you in Calgary stay tuned if there’s anything of interest.

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