No-Shopping Update

I started this challenge on the first of February. It has now been two months, and I guess I’m proud to say I have stuck to almost all my rules.

There have been no clothes, no new material belongings.

I have given a few books away as presents.

It hasn’t been that easy. I’m no big shopper to begin with, but it is definitely a change of mindset. When we talked about it recently, my husband told me he didn’t think it was a hard challenge for me at all, not shopping. I told him even though I was never that indulgent to begin with, purposefully not buying anything is not as easy as he thinks.

“Oh I have about an hour more to go till I have to go home/there, let me just wander around the shops for a bit” changes to “Ok I will just go straight home” or “What gallery can I go to that’s close by?”.

Last month an “Oh look, little tornado has started to have ‘tea sessions’ with his soft toys” automatically drew a “Oh I should buy him a toy tea set”.  I kid you not, it was so automatic. The consumerist brain – so quick, so determined – is such a dangerous thing. Doh! Why the heck would you buy him a tea set, woman! He is doing perfectly well there using the washing liquid measuring cup!

Tea parties with friends can be free you know, mommy


Don’t even get me started on the usual temptations. And the thought processes that have to do with ‘I need/I want’. I went to Paris recently, for heaven’s sake. It’s a mind fuck sometimes. I’ll leave that for another post, because it has to do with things I think are massive temptations for women. 
Notice I have written that I have stuck ‘to almost all my rules’. There have been a few lapses – although I do not place too much emphasis on them as they were not done purposefully.

For example, I have bought two bottles of water over the past two months. One was reflexive, i.e. I was chatting with our local newsagents nearby and bought it without thinking, only realising later what I had done.  The other was because I had forgotten my water tumbler and I really needed to have water by me for the work day. I guess I could blame my forgetful baby brain? Baby brain … it is real, okay? It’s like the brain shifts focus onto other things, like these feelings and emotions and shit. But like I said, I’m not kicking myself about these incidences because I really didn’t mean to. And this whale currently needs a lot of water.

We also bought take out once, from a local Indonesian restaurant. But this was because husband was ill and our household was in a bit of a state due to said illness. Otherwise we have been very good with our home cooking, sticking to our food planner and mostly making our own meals. For two months, that is a definite win. So one takeout meal is okay.

Random photo that I will pretend is about me feeling free from the shackles of consumerism. Kinda.

I’m feeling very good about this no-shopping thing, I must say.

It’s something to be proud of, and I am so much happier thinking I can spend more on travel and experiences without any of the usual guilt. Combined with Lent, where I have been giving up Facebook, fried chicken (a monster temptation) and soft drink, the whole month has felt very chilled. More simple. Clean.

I had lots of sweets in Paris though.

Oh come on, one has to live a little!

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In the still of the night 

I miss the night. I miss its long, quiet companionship. Sometimes I brave the tiredness I know will come, just to feel enveloped in it again. These days I sometimes weep in the darkness, an old friend that has witnessed all manner of emotions my whole life. Am I talking to God? Or just thinking with the night? Sometimes it feels one and the same. 

Little tornado wakes up at 6am. As someone who has always been writing and searching thoughts and meaning when everyone else is asleep, this means these days I have to force myself to sleep at a certain time. I do so reluctantly each time. But there are days when I linger around the stillness as the two boys in my life dream away, and I keep myself awake just because it is simply what I have always done. 

I feel guilty about weeping. I feel as though my sadness sometimes stems from a place of privileged choice, and I have no right to feel sad. I feel guilty about feeling isolated sometimes, even though I know I am loved and nurtured by so many. I feel guilty about missing my home so badly, when I am setting up a home here that I feel passionately about. I feel weak despite knowing I have the strength to feel totally fine again the next morning, with new zest and verve for life. I weep about being a woman, and then guilty about doing so – that I want this life, that I want to be a mom, and therefore I know I have to go through all this. I weep about knowing that I vowed to make myself happy and not be dependent on my husband for my happiness, yet because I am a mother I do need him in this partnership. And so I am dependent on him. That as I feel another baby growing within me I am growing more limitations to my efforts and dreams. And then I feel guilty for thinking all this, for I know how lucky I am to be able to have these children, and how grateful I am to be able to live in the comfort of choice and warmth and love. I feel guilty for not being able to do the usual things that made me strong and happy, because … Am I not a lion? Do I not roar? Am I less than the other mothers who have done this their whole lives, from time immemorial? It is as though I fight these thoughts in the day, scoffing at my own doubts and fears, and in the sweet comforts of the night, I lay down my arms and fight no longer. 

I weep into the night. There is a strange sound in dead of the night – it sounds like silence, but it also reverberates within my ears. Imaginary crickets, like the phantom cries I sometimes think my son makes. I am unsure if this is my memory of the night or of youth, but it gives me a sense of peace. That in all its stillness and quiet, the night is talking back to me. Softly. I’m here. I’m listening. Be free.

As a child I remembered crying in the night once in a while too. I do not remember why. I do not remember being an intense child, but as I read my diary entries from when I was nine years old, it is clear that I have always needed some form of release. As a teenager I remember the sleepless nights, those bouts of insomnia which could also turn night into foe. There were times I tried desperately to be a morning lark, convinced that this would deliver more promise and efficiency. One night, failure to sleep despite my exhaustion meant I kept shaking my head from left to right, in a bid to tire myself out to sleep. When I failed to sleep after that, I would cry desperate tears. Sometimes, crying definitely worked and I would drift into blissful nothingness. 
These days the weeping sometimes comes on undramatically. Like an afterthought, or a reflexive yawn. Sometimes they come in waves, just switched on by a thought. Sometimes I blame the hormones, out of tiredness, out of laziness. It is easy to blame biology when your mind feels heavy with thoughts wrapped with lethargy. Sometimes I don’t know why I fucking weep. I lead a comfortable life and I have no right to these tears. People who have suffered more have shed far less or none at all. They thrive and persevere. I try to comfort myself by justifying – I do really try to thrive and persevere myself. I do all I can to keep myself busy and active and present. I know that the responsibility for my life and joys are mine alone. And yet, in the companionship of the dark, the tears come out to play. They come out to worry no one in the light, they come out to enjoy the safety and tenderness of the night.