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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Downsizing Chronicles – More Joy, Less Stuff

Beware of what you give up for Lent!  My resolution started out innocently enough – to give up shopping for 40 days, nothing for my closet or house, including abstaining from buying freezer and pantry stuff, forcing myself to creatively use what I had from my Costco-laden, stockpiled shelves.  After 10 years living in a house with space, every closet and drawer was stuffed, our basement and garage overflowing.  It was suffocating emotionally and a time-drain to maintain.  

By Easter, we were selling the house, downsizing and pursuing a drastic life change for our family. 

One of the first epiphanies gained from this exercise was to realize how retail therapy had become a form of entitlement; an‘ice-pack’ to dull the stress and angst I felt daily and nightly (in the form of anxiety-ridden insomnia) due to my former job.  Although the job was requiring way too much from me, I was making good money and I deserved to spend it however I pleased.  I bought a lot of frivolous stuff for my kids, my house, my yard and myself.   
When that angst was gone, I found I no longer needed to dull and numb myself with trips to TJ Maxx, too much wine and Advil PM.  Lent, meant to be an exercise in sacrifice, actually became a ticket to more emotional freedom, more gratitude and a desire to pursue happiness, joy and simplicity. 

Is excessive buying, consumerism and retail therapy evidence of a larger source of unhappiness that lies beneath as was certainly the case for me?   

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