The Wandering Wednesday Entry

All I know is I want to write. What, I’m not sure. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best then.

First, a quick update on my goals.

 MutantSupermodel Life Goals as of September 29, 2010:

  1. Spend 15 minutes in each room searching for items to donate to the Veterans pick-up on September 29, 2010. DONE!
  2. Try the money envelope system September 30, 2010 for three months (December 31, 2010).
  3. Create a Christmas budget by October 15, 2010 and stick to it. REVISED TO INCLUDE: Must include supplies for gifts to be made which means projects must be decided on.
  4. Update the blog at least once a week for the next four weeks (October 22, 2010).
  5. Complete requested crocheted baby cape by October 27, 2010.
  6. Schedule monthly donations pick-ups starting October 29, 2010 for the next six months (March 29, 2011). REVISED: Prepare for a garage sale in late November/early December 2010.
  7. Commit to another reading project for 2011 and have details worked out by December 15, 2010.
  8. Send Christmas cards Friday, December 17, 2010.
  9. Complete MutantEldest’s Mario Bros. blanket by December 25, 2010. [May be revised. We’ll see how fast other projects go.]
  10. Complete 26 in 2010 project allowing for 5 substitutions (i.e. skipping certain letters) by December 31, 2010. [May also be revised. I may have to settle for half and do the rest next year.]
  11. Continue tracking spending in Excel for the next four months (January 31, 2011). [This hurts so much. Necessary evil.]
  12. Have registration fees ready to be paid by February 15, 2011 so my parents don’t have to pay it again.
  13. Go on a family trip in the next six months (March 2011) and a kid-free trip in the six months after that (October 2011).
  14. Re-commit to doing laundry every other day for the next six months (March 25, 2011). [So-so on this. I had a laundry binge this past weekend. Did another small load yesterday.]
  15. Continue planning Girls’ Night for next six months (April 2011). [October 2nd is our third one!]
  16. Lose 12 pounds in 12 months (September 25, 2011). [Starting weight is 127 pounds]
  17. Pay off credit cards by December 2011, one month ahead of schedule.

As you can see, I have decided to go ahead and make it a Crochet Christmas after all. This just works for so many reasons. First of all, I really like making things. I also really like giving people something I’ve made. There’s this really interesting double-take a person does when I tell them I made the gift they’re holding. They literally look at it completely differently. I know there are people who don’t value a handmade gift, but seeing as how life has done away with a lot of “extra” people in my life and left me with people who really love me, I really can’t think of anyone I’ll be giving a gift to who wouldn’t appreciate a handmade item from me.  Of course finances also play a role in this. I would like to pretend this isn’t the case, but let’s face it, I just can’t afford to give everyone a gift between $20 and $40, my usual range. And every time I do budget shopping, I have a very hard time finding good presents in a $5 to $10 range. It’s not because I’m picky or have expensive taste either. I just think too many things today that don’t cost much, look it. I also tend to seek out very personal gifts and that range also makes it hard for whatever reason. It’s not impossible, but I really don’t feel like dealing with the hassle. Meanwhile, finding a pattern for something is as simple as typing in a search for a favorite thing. And the simple fact that I made the present instantly makes it personal. I like that. I also feel if I stick to making things for Christmas, I will have an easier time avoiding stores (i.e. temptation).

A lot of things I’ve done recently (past year) have made me think a lot about “things” and their relevance in my life. While I don’t necessarily believe in minimalism, or any “ism” really, I do have the strange feeling that while I wasn’t paying attention, too many things came into my life and developed personalities. My ex was most definitely an Accumulation Enabler (my term, I think). He made it no secret that things were important to him and the more expensive the things, the better they were and therefore the more desirable. To a certain extent, I fell in stride with this sort of thinking. I came to appreciate the more expensive things as well which, in hindsight, was a mistake. Let me explain because this is a weird one to navigate.

For the most part,  I do believe that many higher quality items also come with a higher price tag and in many cases the saying “You get what you pay for” certainly applies. However, what I did was embrace the concept backwards– “If it’s expensive it must be good and if it’s good I should have/want it.” Now after having more than a year away from the Accumulation Enabler and that thought process, I have a different way of looking at things and therefore, my spending habits. I feel like I’m more in line with where I used to be but even more educated. I’m more in the middle.

Nowwhen I shop, I look for things I like first. Once I decide I like something, I look at the price. Once I see the price, I try to understand it. In other words, I ask “Why is this priced this way?” If it’s really inexpensive, for instance, I check to see if something is wrong with it (especially important for clearance items) and if there is to what extent is it “damaged”. I check to see the materials it’s made of too. I have recently been forced to accept that my skin really likes as much cotton against it as possible for instance. I do think in some cases buying a cheap item is perfectly ok. I like playing with fashion and trends. Knowing an item isn’t going to last long is reasonable to buy if it’s inexpensive. Of course, this isn’t always the case.

I’ve learned to understand a higher price tag does not automatically indicate a higher quality item. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve spotted $40 plain colored tee shirts (on clearance!) that aren’t even made of cotton or other natural fiber. So when I come across something I really like and it has a higher price tag attached to it, I also try and figure it out. Some times the price tags make sense. For me, shoes tend to consistently be the most logically priced items in stores (ultra designer labels like Jimmy Choo are not part of this assessment). When I needed good flats for work, time and again the more comfortable shoes were in the $40 range while the ones in the $20 range often lacked too many things– they didn’t have enough cushion in the soles or the shoes were incredibly thin, or the straps cut. So when it time to shell out money for the shoes, Iwas comfortable with my choices and the amounts spent.

But the way I shop isn’t the only thing that’s changed. I just want less in my life. I want less things to deal with– materially and otherwise. Is this minimalism? I don’t think so. I’m not on a goal to achieve a state of “As little as possible” in a hyperextended way. I don’t really care about how little other people get by with, I just want to get by with as little as I can deal with. And this isn’t even a frugality driven goal either. For instance, I pay $50 a month for cable and internet access plus another $10 for Netflix (I did save myself $7 a month when it became available on Wii– bye Xbox membership!). I would think if I was stripping down in a minimalist way, or a frugal way, those would be obvious cuts. But, they reduce other “things” like fights among the kids. Let’s not get crazy here. My kids aren’t raised by the television but I do get a 2 hour break from the bickering when I pop in a movie.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this. These are just things I’ve been contemplating. What do Iand the children need? What is the purpose of this in my and/or their life? Why is this in my and/or their life? Do I or the children find this more problematic than helpful? Does this bring me or the children joy? What is meaningful to me and the children? Gretchen Rubin constantly talks about figuring out her personal commandments in her book, The Happiness Project. I really identify with that. I could do things because I’ve always done it that way or I could do things because it’s how I want to do them. This doesn’t mean every task is an enjoyable one, it just means that every task is done in accordance with my commandments. Which I guess is another good project to work on. What exactly are MutantSupermodel’s Commandments anyways?

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