I used to love shopping, always entering a store with greedy excitement and a long list of “essentials” to grab and someday discard. Since journeying on the Debt Free train with my husband when we moved to the States in 2014, that hunger turned to frustration.
At first, it was frustration that our new budget meant I didn’t have enough money to get what I needed. Read: wanted. This graduated to the frustration of realizing that I had spent more than the pennies I had earned for much of my working life.
For a long while, I’ve tried to be more mindful in many aspects of life. Handmade, fair trade, vintage and thrift are creative and happy places in my closet and home and I implore you to seek even the idea of the above.
Today I openly admit that I struggle. I struggle to say no. To toys, to trendy decor, to a Starbucks coffee. It irks me, especially when I think about what life lessons I’m teaching to our daughter.
She sees us go into a store, get things we want and go home. These wants are merely treats, so why do we feel that we need to treat ourselves all the time. Why do we search for validation that will likely never come from a purchase, far be it a purchase made spontaneously that won’t necessarily enrich our lives.
It’s not about not treating ourselves, or not spending our hard-earned cash, but rather about growing an awareness of what we are purchasing and the greater impact it has. We wear the new item, display the on-trend decor, and then…just like that…it loses the shiny appeal we lusted after in the store.
It’s time to find some semblance of balance. I visited Ten Thousand Villages in Austin, TX and came home with a bohemian fair trade cushion and a handmade basket that told the story of the maker.
These items sit proudly in my home and I am inspired by them, encouraged to be my own maker of things about the home and on my back.
This is what it should feel like. Not the emptiness that comes from busting $90 at Target on…
I actively made notes in my mind en route home, resolving to re-create decor looks I liked, learning to embroider and vowing to sew more clothing for my little one. I’m now on a creative path again, re-energised and making lemonade from lemons.
I try really hard to use what I have. Just the other day, I switched out the dining chairs that are unfinished and look, quite frankly, meh (not my finest DIY project and soon to be re-completed with TLC) for the mix and match trend that I was going for…using chairs I had lying around. This was a huge deal, as I’d spent weeks, months even, trawling Craigslist for mix and match chairs to create a farmhouse dining area. It felt like creative freedom, it felt good.
Moments like these make me immensely grateful.
For spending every cent and travelling the world without regret. Travel and experiences are something I would never count pennies on. The wanderer lifestyle has been incredibly huge in defining who I am and a big part of my story in this wonderful world. Travel far and often, as they say. We have, in a sense, been “on the road” since my first trip to Thailand in 2004.
For settling into family life in a new country with a new baby and really mucking in to a brand new chapter.
For my husband and his tireless strength when it comes to budgets and money matters.
For the way I grew up, with dad teaching me to always “do the maths” and mum sewing everything from clothing to curtains and our costumes for school plays. She places the cushions I made for her in pride of place. It matters to her that I have these beautiful skills and use them.
Happiness comes in the strangest of doses and is found in the smallest inklings of what got us here.
And really, isn’t that all that should be on our must-have list?