I’ve spoiled myself too much recently. No one else has ever done it for me, so I took matters into my own greedy, crooked fingers. I’m not placing blame on my parents; I always had enough and never had too much. I’m not placing blame on my husband; our relationship is a cooperative one, not that of a queen and her servant.
I don’t get attached to things. We have had to shed our possessions so many times in the recent past (two cross-country moves, 4,500 miles here, then there, then back here again in about eighteen months) and I’ve learned that stuff is only stuff, even the stuff one might usually think of as sentimental.
Still. I like clothes, and makeup, and pretty home furnishings. We had so little after our moves that I’ve grown a bit batty with it. I read Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge fanatically, and love shuffling what few old pieces we have around with new, inexpensively bought pieces from places like World Market as well as local independent and vintage shops. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the old teal Mason jars. At the Biltmore Museum, in the one of the basement pantries, there were shelves lined with them, and something about the beauty of the teal glass and the utilitarian nature of the jars stuck. I’ve only bought two but I’m kicking myself for purchasing the second. Why wasn’t one enough? Why must I have any at all? In one I’ve put yellow daisies and placed it in my kitchen window. Another sits nearby, with an odd little carved Brazilian nut living inside (it’s carved in the shape of an old man’s head – a tongue in cheek gift from my mom) and a little green ceramic frog on top of the grey, slightly rusted lid. Why could I just have put the image of the jars in my memory and left it at that?
I love a bargain, a treasure hunt. I rarely spend more than 20.00 on anything. We rarely buy anything new when it comes to big items like our couch, armoire, table and chairs (mainly because we don’t use credit and we don’t’ like shelling out thousands or hundreds of dollars on anything). Books are a beautiful and useful hang-up (I am a writer, after all). In addition to checking them out by the dozen from the library I’m inclined to snatch up a few at the bookstore, both in new and used form. Gathering the things I love around me usually feels wonderful; I love lighting a candle and sitting down with a thick novel after Xander has gone to sleep.
Lately, shopping hasn’t felt as good as it used to. Even buying necessities like shampoo and conditioner leaves me feeling snotty and guilty. So many have nothing. So many have had their livelihoods ripped from them by war, storms, and tyranny. It seems the more I personally have, the worse I feel.
Problem is: I seem to not be able to say no to myself. For instance, if I want something sweet, like a pastry at Starbucks, I buy it. I used to debate and calculate and then moan that we didn’t have enough money for lattes and pastries. Just last summer, when money was so very tight, I felt sad that I couldn’t indulge in some of my favorite things. How can I be a good example for my son if I’m spoiled myself?
So last night, after buying shampoo and conditioner (when I didn’t even need too, seriously, there’s still an inch in each bottle in the shower), I decided to free myself of two of my albatrosses: sweets and shopping. Just for a while. Like a fast. It doesn’t matter that I don’t spend much or that it’s vintage or from an independent seller on Etsy or that the cupcake has espresso in it and is made of the milk of a local goat. Enough is enough right now.
I used to smoke heavily. I used to drink heavily. Both of these big fat brass albatrosses I gave back to the sea without a program, group, or plan (I did employ a ‘higher power’, but I employ the forces Good all the time, every day). Neither of those habits are good for you, and I’m fully aware that shopping is a necessity sometimes (I have a growing son who needs new clothes from time to time and we do need soap, groceries, and yes shampoo and conditioner). I also love to support local artists, writers, businesses as well as those who aren’t local. What I’ll need to do is come up with a guide for myself, sort of a personal Buy This, Not That. For instance, print of a painting that I love by an artist that I’ve met personally or admired from afar = yes. Another Buddha statue from World Market = no. Same goes for sweets. An every now and then scoop of Lavender Honey ice cream from Cruze Farm at the Farmer’s Market = yes. An every day cookie from Earth Fare, even if it’s organic and has free trade dark chocolate chips in it = no.
I do best at extremes. Or maybe I don’t, I’ve just tricked myself into thinking I’m not strong enough:
This was my horoscope today:
You are not self-indulgent, and you can control your desires quite well. You will plan very carefully how to be rather thrifty. You are at your best doing everything in moderation.
Hmm. And this is my Free Will Astrology for this week. The Universe clearly has my back and knows me in the palm of its giant, starry nebula hand:
“The income gap between the richest and poorest sections of society has always been large, but in recent years it has grown absurdly, grotesquely humongous. As journalist Les Leopold notes, there are hedge-fund gamblers who rake in more money in an hour than a middle-class wage-earner makes in 47 years. From an astrological perspective, Aquarius, it’s an excellent time for you to raise your voice against this inequity. Furthermore, you’d be wise to dramatically shrink the discrepancy between the haves and have-nots in your own personal sphere, where you can actually have an immediate effect. You might start the healing by asking yourself how the rich aspects of your psyche steal from the poor parts.” (Rob Brezsny, 2011)
My point exactly. If I’m to be helpful to the world, free to offer whatever I have been given freely, I have to be healthy myself. Freed from all excess. Scrubbed free of too much glitter, and too many black dresses.