The Freedom in No

As some of you may know, starting on January 1st of this year, I decided to go on a year long shopping fast and I have reached the halfway mark. In the past six months, I have not bought a t-shirt, a tank, a pair of jeans, a pair of mittens, a purse, or a scarf, and I refrained myself from rifling through the clearance racks or stockpiling at the Land’s End sale or drooling over the dresses on ModCloth. Perhaps I should begin this post with some hugely spiritual life-changing epiphany. Sorry. I just can’t. I have to get something off my chest: I want to shop. In a big, bad way. I want to take my 30% Kohls coupon and buy everything. But I am learning things and I have cheated. Yes, I have.
First, my cheats.

Aren’t they cute? Don’t judge me. I really needed these babies for upcoming weddings. (Sure, I’m defining “needed” in an unquestionably American way since no one would have kicked me out had a worn my tired old flats but, ew.) Buying and wearing these shoes brought me a ridiculous amount of joy.

Here’s my favorite cheat:


Isn’t it gorgeous? And it’s so multicolored it goes with everything. So what was the reason for this cheat? Because the $12 I spent to buy this dazzling beaded bracelet handcrafted by women and girls who’ve been rescued from sex trafficking goes to  support them though an organization called Freedom Firm. Go check out their jewelry. Just forget about this blog and go! And while you’re at it, get your tickets for Project Dance Them Free. You’ll see great dance, have a chance to purchase some of this beautiful jewelry, and support Freedom Firm. A shameless plug I feel absolutely no guilt in making.
A few things I’ve learned during these months of minor deprivation:
Tailors still exit. Who knew? And you can take a dress that you’ve shoved to the back of your closet because it doesn’t fit right to the tailor and he’ll fix it right up.
I tend to think I deserve new clothes, for any number of random reasons. Last month was particularly tough; “I have a book signing so I should get a dress.”
Saying no to one thing now can help you say no to another thing later. This is a biggie and I’m still chewing on it. When we discipline ourselves to say no to something, even to a good thing like clothes or food or screens, we train ourselves to say no to other things, maybe not so good things like… perhaps… spending too much, eating too much, talking too much, sleeping too much, redecorating too much, drinking too much, judging too much, playing video games too much, comparing too much, whining too much…. and our lists vary and can go on and on. Temptation comes in all forms and sizes and maybe learning that we can see something we want and still tell ourselves no with something small may actually help us say no to something much bigger, much more detrimental, later.
Establishing parameters brings a strange freedom. I can walk into a store to get clothes for the kids knowing that I don’t have to use time, energy, thought, or money on the possibility of finding something for me. Because I’ve already decided no. One less thing to think about. Ah, freedom.
What haven’t I learned yet? To organize my closet. It’s still a mess. But I have six months left to maybe learn that an organized closet is a happy closest. Maybe.

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