Help! I Don’t Want To Quit Shopping!! Am I a shopping addict?

Help!! I don’t want to feel deprived. I don’t like being told no. I enjoy walking through the mall and seeing all pretty new colors. I like the feeling of walking through William Sonoma and picturing my perfect kitchen with perfect gadgets.  And don’t tell me I have a shopping addiction!!!

I think my trek through the mall gives me hope of a better lifestyle or a better home environment.

When I’m at the mall shopping, I enjoy the neatly stacked shirts, the organized and expertly combined colors. Everything is hung up and easy to see. Everything is orderly.

Funny how William Sonoma doesn’t have a stack of dirty dishes displayed in the corner. And they don’t have a stack of mail two weeks high teetering on the counter. Chico’s doesn’t have a pile of panties that have worn out elastic or holes in the seams displayed either…

No wonder I’ve always loved going to the mall. It was my escape from dishes, filled laundry baskets, and cluttered counter tops.

Do I have a shopping addiction?Buying a new outfit was liberating in some way. I’d come home, try to hang it up in my very full closet of clothes I haven’t worn in years. That is, if I could get into my closet…I’d have to push aside a very full laundry basket of clean stuff. Now what was in that basket anyway? (It had been in my closet for weeks….) But I had something new… Somehow it wasn’t as exciting the next day as it was the first day I brought it home and hung it up.

When I first heard about this simplicity and minimalist stuff, I shuttered. No way! I want a better life and I’m sure it means being able to shop for whatever I want, when I want. Right?

Where did that thinking come from? It certainly wasn’t from my depression era parents. They consistently rattled off phrases through out my childhood like: “You don’t need that.” “You need to learn how to say no.” “You need to save your money instead of wasting it on junk that’s just going to break.” “You have a closet full of clothes you don’t wear.”

I’m about to participate in Project 333.  But before I go through the steps of living with 33 wardrobe items for 3 months, I HAVE to take some internal steps in order to be successful.

I need to recognize:

  1. …that the feelings and emotions from the mall are stemmed from wanting and needing an organized, uncluttered lifestyle.
  2. …the need for more is really not a need for more. (Really? I need 15 purses?)
  3. …shopping isn’t a desire based on a physical need, but a desire based on emotion. I am trying to emotionally feel better by excessive shopping.
  4. …there is some other unfilled need or desire that triggers my urge to shop.
  5. …that shopping is an expensive hobby and creates more work at home taking care of, and storing the items. (I’m finding entertainment in other areas other than shopping)

I can declutter my house, organize mycloset, cancel magazine subscriptions….but until I dove in to why I wanted to shop, all the minimizing and simplifying didn’t help that much. Contentment and happiness needs to come from something more permanent than tossing out that shirt that was too small. (Yes, I hang on to it because I know I would love it when I lose 10 more pounds….)

Here’s what’s helped me and prepared me to do Project 333:

  • Happiness isn’t found in external things like a house, job, car, spouse, food, drugs, or shopping. My happiness is found in discovering my God-given purpose and pursuing it with the passion that naturally comes from recognizing it.
  • I need to remove things from my life that get in the way or distract me from my God-given purpose.
  • I want to spend more time investing in my purpose, and less time preparing for my purpose.
  • When I focus on my purpose, time wasters (shopping, tv, snacking) lose their appeal.

Okay…I think I’m ready.

 

Other books to help:

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Confessions of an addicted multi-tasker…How to simplify in the age of distraction.

I’ve always been proud that I’m a great multi-tasker.  I believe that God made moms with this fabulous ability of being focused on multiple tasks at one time.

Take for instance when my daughter Holly was a baby.  With a small baby girl on one hip, I could cook for a family of five, help my son Wesley build a model of the King Ranch, help my other son Clayton with algebra homework, and fold a load of laundry…all at the same time.  That was a normal 5:00 pm ritual for me.  And I breezed through it effortlessly.  And daily…

When I was in College I took a course on business management skills.  The final exam was an office simulation.  We were systematically given multiple tasks to fulfill.   Business reports to analyze and type (on electric typewriters.)  A filing cabinet to organize and label.  An event to plan.  All tasks had to be completed within one hour.  During the hour, we also had to handle walk-in tasks (sort of like a receptionist) and answer the phone. We were given so many tasks, that it was basically impossible to finish everything. (Think Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn) I remember watching the student before me walk out of the simulator frazzled and in tears.  I felt pretty good when I walked out of mine.  Three days later my professor called me into his office.  He said that no other student in the history of his teaching carer had ever finished the amount of tasks correctly and in such high quality.  I was a natural.  I had no idea my great talent would also be my greatest curse.

addicted to multi-taskingFast forward 30 years.  I’m addicted to multi-tasking.  I can’t sit and watch a movie…without some other task or activity. I usually have a computer or iPad on my lap.   Unless it’s eating…  TV combined with eating is dangerous for me.  Mindless eating and watching TV creates for much over-eating and over indulgence.

My computer is another place that my excessive multi-tasking has taken over.  I have about 20 programs running at once.   While I’m working away on writing, my mail messenger sends an audible alert… I click over to see what email has come in.  Then back to work.  Then a Facebook notification shows up in the top right hand corner of my screen….I pop over to see who responded to my latest post.  My phone is next to me….and I get not only several texts, but notifications that my coach has posted a new tweet.  I stop to read the tweets.

Then I hear the buzzer in the background….my last load of laundry is dry.  So I rush out to hang up my husband’s shirts so they won’t wrinkle.  I sit back down to write some more and notice the mail man dive by.  I grab my mailbox key and head out the door.

Am I ADD? I don’t think so.  But I do believe that I’ve become addicted to doing multiple activities at once.

Are we in the age of information or the age of distraction?  I’m clearly easily distracted.  We have an endless supply of reading, unlimited shopping, chatting, gossip, news, and on and on… And a constant bombardment of notifications…  HELP!!!

In my trek to simplicity, I realized I had to do something beyond cleaning up my closet and my desk.  I needed to slow down and simplify my daily routines and habits.

Why?  Because multi-tasking can be a weakness.  It is exhausting.  It allows you to do many things at a lesser quality.  Being pulled in many directions is not a pace that can be sustained over a lifetime.

So here’s some steps I’m taking to overcome my multi-tasking addiction:

  1. Become a single-tasker. (Single-tasking is the process of limiting distractions and creating opportunity to successfully invest into one task at a time.)
  2. Discern the difference between distractions and purpose.
  3. Unplug (Being connected via phone and electronic devices keep me from fully engaging in others or my tasks.)

What are some practical steps I’m taking?

  1. I’ve unsubscribed to email newsletters.  Instead I subscribe to the blog and add it to my blog reader.  (Used to be Google Reader…but now use Feedly)  Now I only read blogs and newsletters at one sitting…with my ipad away from my desk.
  2. I’ve turned off most of my twitter notifications.  (Except for my kids)
  3. Check Email only three times per day.  I check it once in the morning before I start work.  I check it after lunch, and then around 4, when I take about an hour to respond to any emails from the day.  The rest of the time, my email program is closed and I don’t receive any notifications.  I turned off notifications on my phone as well.  No sounds alert me when an email arrives.
  4. Set up a DO NOT DISTURB on my iPhone.  From 8 pm until 8 am I don’t receive any phone calls or texts.  I do have a favorites list, that allows my favorites to call during the DND times.  Or if someone calls twice in a 2 minute time span, it sends the call through.
  5. When I’m spending time with my children or my husband, I turn my phone on silent.  I am TRYING not to read any texts or answer calls when I’m devoting time to someone else.  (Not answering a phone call is a HUGE improvement for me.)  Before we became so connected via cell phones, I was more connected in person.

As with any addiction, breaking away from multi-tasking is difficult.  As I wrote this blog, I thought about checking Facebook about a dozen times.  I even thought about checking to see if my newest client had emailed me back…  It’s all habits and I’m learning, slowly but surely, to focus.

A Happiness Guide for Pessimists

I am not a pessimist, but I was raised by a pessimist father.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely adore my father.  So when I talk about pessimists, it’s with much love.

Many people have asked how it is possible that I grew up an optimist.  I believe it was during the early days of my teenage years that the influence of a Godly man pointed me in the right direction.  My high school youth pastor lead me to a relationship with God and that by reading God’s word (the bible) and hanging out with other Godly kids, I naturally became an optimist.

I’ve received comments from readers who say that it’s easy to be an optimist when I haven’t ever faced hardships or devastation.  Does fire, divorce, physical spousal abuse, or infidelity count?  Trust me, I’ve had plenty to cause me to be a pessimist…

After my divorce 10 years ago, a close friend said that everyone was shocked that my marriage of 15 years had ended.  No one had a clue that I was unhappy.  Well, I wasn’t unhappy.  Okay, maybe there was a time that I was…but I was so miserable being unhappy that I decided to change that and be happy no matter the circumstances.  And I did.  I fought like crazy.  I was going to be happy.  I didn’t change my circumstances, I just changed my attitude, which changed my perspective.

Who really wants to be unhappy?

Happiness guide for pessimistsI kind of think that many pessimists believe that they can’t change their negative habits.  My ex-husband (also a pessimist) said that my happiness and enthusiasm was false.  Really?  Why, because I didn’t enjoy sitting around talking about how bad things are?  I didn’t enjoy “drama?”  I didn’t enjoy complaining?  I didn’t enjoy being around people complained non-stop…?  I believe that you can go out and fix a fence and be filled with joy as you do it.  You can make it fun.

If you are a pessimist, I have good news for you.  You can break free.  Your attitude is a choice.  Your perspective on life and circumstances does dictate your level of happiness.  And best of all, God never intended for any of us to live in a state of unhappiness.

From the bible:  (The Voice)

Psalm 4:7  You have filled me with joy, and happiness has risen in my heart, great delight and unrivaled joy, even more than when bread abounds and wine flows freely.

 Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.

John 13:17  If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness.

Okay, now that we know that God intends for his people to experience happiness and joy, how can we break the pessimist habit?

  • Think, act, talk, and conduct your self like the person you want to become.

 I clearly remember the night that I stood over the stove, cooking spaghetti for my husband and 3 kids.  I was on the phone with my best friend Rhonda.  I was grumbling about how tired I was of cooking for a family that didn’t appreciate what I do for them.  My husband walked in, and I snarled at him.  Rhonda said something profound to me that night.  I wish I could remember what it was.  All I know is, I made a decision that night to change my attitude and start being cheerful and happy.  I didn’t want to be that unhappy person, snipping at my children, frowning at my husband, complaining to my friends.  That’s when I decided to act, talk, and be the person I wanted to become.  A happy person, that people enjoyed being around.  A person my kids wanted to be with.  A cheerful and loving wife, that my husband wanted to be with.  (Unfortunately, my husband didn’t enjoy being around a cheerful wife.)

  •  Place a high value on people.

 My favorite thing in life is to encourage others.  Some say it’s “my gift.”  I don’t believe it’s a gift.  I think that when you help people, look for the best in them, try to bring out their positive qualities, genuine joy is the result.

  •  Look for something positive in every situation.

 When I lost everything in an apartment fire in the mid 80s, I could have sat and cried for days.  Instead, I looked at the outpour of love from a community of people I didn’t even know.  I was overwhelmed at the showering of gifts and clothing.  I was so much better off in terms of physical belongings after the fire than before.

  •  Choose to rid yourself negative character flaws.

 Three behaviors that I view as character flaws are:  impatience, being critical, being self absorbed.  Get rid of those, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your level of happiness.

  •  Say something positive in every conversation.

 Compliment, praise, acknowledge, bolster, raise up, and reward.

  •  Remove negative words from your vocabulary.

Negatives:

I can’t
If only
I don’t think
I don’t have the time
Maybe
I’m afraid
I don’t believe

Replace with Positives:

I can
I will
I know
I will make the time
Absolutely!
I’m confident
I’m sure

Start with little things, like changing your vocabulary or appreciating little things.  If you can to learn to appreciate them and be grateful for them, you’ll appreciate the big things as well as everything inbetween.

 I’ll end with a quote from John Wooden:

 “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Embrace Change: signs that you are becoming stagnant.

Embracing ChangeI personally love change.   Always have.  Newness is exciting.  Change stimulates me. I don’t handle boredom very well.

When my kids were young, I would frequently re-arrange the furniture in my living room.   Why?  I needed change to cheer me up.

I change up my hair cut more than the average woman.

And what about “retail therapy?”  Bringing home something new stimulates a emotional contentment response, although very short lived.

I love changes in the season. I never dread winter being over…because I always look forward to spring.  And around August I eagerly anticipate the cooler fall weather.

You see, I have this fear of becoming stagnant…

Ever smelled stagnant water?  It looks gross, it smells, and it breeds awful little bugs that bite.  Little blood suckers…  I think there’s a spiritual analogy in there somewhere…

Signs that you are becoming stagnant:

    • You don’t have a dream.
    • You’ve lost interest in activities.
    • You don’t set goals.
    • You don’t look forward to waking up in the morning.
    • You cling to belongings.
    • You don’t take risks.

It’s impossible to grow without some change in our lives.  You can’t build muscles unless you lift something heavy.

We need to be open to what God wants to do in our lives.  We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone, in order to grow and become more of what God wants us to be.  God’s dream for your life is so much bigger and better than you can imagine.  But God can’t work on you, or help you achieve his dream while you’re waddling around in stinking water.

Steps to get out of the stagnant state:

    • Write out a list of everything that brings you joy. (This is a very difficult task when you are truly stagnant.  Take some time and figure it out.)
    • Find your dream and commit to making every step you take be in the direction of your dream
    • It’s okay to expect more out of your life.  Start expecting more.
    • Get rid of the things in your life that are holding you back from your dream.
      • Fear of failure
      • Anxiety about the unknown
      • Worry over the expectations of others
      • Distractions (TV, Internet, Clutter)

 “God I know that you are in control.  I desire to know the plans you have for me.  I seek out the dream that you created me for.  Today I choose to chase after you and all you have in store for me.”

Top 10 ways to have a hotel Lifestyle at Home via Minimalism

hotelWe didn’t get to take a real family vacation last summer. We did do some fun things…one day at the water park…one day at Six Flags. But when my daughter said, “lets go somewhere where we can stay in a hotel room” my heart leapt with excitement at the thought. It actually sounded wonderful to me.

I toyed with the thought of booking us a couple nights at one of the area resorts or down on the beautiful San Antonio River Walk. But then I thought about what it would cost to stay in a local hotel for two nights and my frugal side said no. But it got me thinking.

Why does it sound so appealing? What makes a hotel room stay desirable with so much less stress? Here’s my top 10 reasons:

  • No clutter.
  • No stacks of mail to be sorted.
  • No piles of laundry needing to be folded or put away.
  • Only bare essentials in the bathroom.
  • Bare minimum of clothing to choose from.
  • No piles of toys.
  • No numerous electronic distractions.
  • No dishes piling up to be washed.
  • No unfinished projects.
  • No recorded televisions shows to watch
  • So is it possible to have a “Hotel Experience” at home? I like to think so. I started to tackle the above list, to create a relaxing-stress-free environment at home.

1. Remove the clutter.

Grab 3 large garbage bags. The first is for things that you must keep and just need to be put away. One garbage bag is for giving away. The last garbage bag is for throwing away. Start with an easy room. I started with my bedroom. I gave my self 10 minutes to find things in my room that could go in one of my three bags. For example, on my dresser is a pile of un-matched socks. Some of them have been there for over 2 years. It’s great that I have one spot for un-matched socks to go, but seriously, after awhile, those socks just need to be thrown out. So into the trash bag they went. After 10 minutes, take the give-away bag out to your car, so that you can drop them off the next time you go out. Throw the trash bag in the trash. Now spend the next 10 minutes putting away everything in the bag. If you don’t have a place for it, you either need to create a place for it, or give it away. In 20 minutes time, you have come much closer to the “hotel” environment in your room. A great website to help you with clutter is Slow Your Home.

2. The Mail

This is probably the hardest thing of all for me. So much so, that I avoid going to the mailbox because I don’t want the piles to clutter up my desk. One of the first things I did was unsubscribe to all my magazines. We have the internet now. If I want to look up recipes, I usually do that online. I don’t need a pile of cooking magazines to inspire me. Junk mail gets tossed immediately. So do the catalogues. Again….the same catalogues are all online…. Another major mail reducer is signing up for paperless bills. Every monthly bill I used to get via US mail now comes via email. Water, Electric, cable, and phone are all now paperless. I only use a debit card, so I don’t get credit card bills, but those are even available online instead of through the mail. Every day I go to the mailbox when I have time to go ahead and sort through the mail. Then I immediately tackle the stack, and put them where the mail needs to go. Mostly the trash. What bills to end up slipping in, get put in my tray nearest my chair. I have to clear out the tray at the end of every day. If it’s a bill that needs to be paid in 2 weeks, I either schedule it online, or I write out the check and prepare it for mailing. I still it back in the tray so that I can touch it every day…and not forget to mail. Here’s some simple tips to help from Home Your Way.

3. The laundry

I read a tip online from The Streesed Mom that has worked out for me. Do one load of laundry every day. It’s not the washing and drying that is hard on me. It’s the folding and putting away. But when it’s a very small job that takes me about 10 minutes per day to do, I don’t mind. Some days I don’t have much in the dirty clothes. So I do a load of towels. Or I wash table linens. I don’t do laundry on saturday or Sundays.

4. The Bathroom

Here I am the worst of hoarders. I know what I need to do. But I haven’t quite gotten all the way there yet. One cool thing I did do was buy an over the door (clear) shoe organizer. Instead of shoes, I have organized all the different medicines so they are easy to find. I used to have them in baskets, which made for quite a chore when digging for immodium. I still need to spend an hour or two throwing away everything else that is in my closet. I have expired meds, old hair care products, make-up samples, and who knows what else that is clogging up my shelves. I’ll update you when that closet is tackled! Here’s a great post from Miss Minimalist.

5. The Clothing Closet

My daughter moved home from college a couple of weeks ago. I had been storing all my off season clothes in her walk-in closet. Now I don’t have a backup closet. So in order to easily put away everything, I had to do some minimizing. So I got rid of everything that was too big. I have been dropping in sizes since I started crossfit 8 months ago. And I know that I won’t go back up! (That’s my plan!) Now there is a section of clothes that I can’t fit into yet. But here’s the deal…will I actually want to wear them when I get down to that size? They’re really not in style anymore. And it’s not like I go into the office every day, so having 6-7 dressy blazers is not very realistic to have. So out they go. Go to Simplify101.com for more help on your closet.

6. The Toys

When I went through and removed all the extra toys that were cluttering up the bedroom and home, I noticed that my daughter enjoyed her existing toys so much more. Having a cluttered playroom with too many toys is not very enjoyable. It creates an emotional upheaval on trying to decide what to play with. It also creates turmoil when the friends come over, and they all want to play with something different. Before we minimized the toys, every day after the friends would leave, we were left with a huge mess. Now that we’ve narrowed down the toys, it’s much more manageable. We basically have Barbies and Legos. Oh…and the stuffed animals. Legos stay in one bin that has wheels and slides under the bed. The barbies and accessories fit in to bins that fit into the pretty pink cube. Stuffed animals are on the shelf. Christmas came, and we stayed within the guidelines of barbies or legos. I heard no complaints on Christmas morning… Read this blog on living with less toys from Becoming Minimalist.

7. The Electronics.

This Christmas was my first Christmas that I didn’t buy or received anything electronic. No computers, no iphones, no ipads, no ipods… I didn’t realize it until after Christmas was over. Not that we don’t all have that, but we didn’t upgrade to the bigger, better, and faster. We did get a chess board from my parents. I thought…why don’t I just get the app for the ipad to play chess. It’s no much nicer to see my daughter sitting on the floor with her friend playing with real chess pieces instead of hovered over the ipad. Not sure why yet….but I like it. Christmas day was great, because we could all talk and play together, instead of each of us escaping into our own little electronic world. People interaction is so much more fulfilling and lasting.

8. The Kitchen

Another area I’m still trying to conquer. Christmas vacation was not good for me, because I got out of my daily habits. I try to have my kitchen cleaned by the end of the day and I start the dishwasher when I go to bed. In the morning as I get my daughter off to school, I unload the dishwasher and then it’s ready for everyone to load their own dishes throughout the day. Somehow this has not happened in the last 2 weeks. So I need to come up with a holiday strategy for next year. (or summer!) Get more help here for kitchen organization.

9. The Projects

I had a large cylinder of poker sayings rolled up and stashed in the corner of my office for several years. I had planned to create some art for my wall. I finally woke up and realized I was never going to do it, nor would I actually like it hanging in my house. So I gave it away to a dear friend, who hosts poker 5 days a week. And she loves it. I have come to realize, that if I haven’t touched a project in 6 months, I need it to be gone.

10. Media

There is a certain stress to having hours and hours of shows to watch on your dvr. At least if your a hoarder like me, I even hoard recorded media. And finding a place to store a dvd collection is no longer an issue with me as well. What dvds I did own, I removed from the case and placed into a notebook that had pages that held the disk. Much easier to store than stacked up on a shelf. I no longer buy dvds. With the emergence of Netflix and Amazon prime, there is movie and tv shows available. If there’s a movie that I feel we must own, then I purchase it through amazon video on demand. It’s stored on a server somewhere, and available for me to watch on any internet device. I had a copy of Wizard of Oz on VHS. I gave away the copy and purchased the digital version on Amazon. I downloaded a copy to my ipad for the plane. I can also view it on my tv through my roku box. I love digital copies. Same with music. And pictures. I had my daughter’s bag of disposable cameras developed, but not printed. They gave me digital copies instead of prints. I am a work in progress for sure. But the idea of having a peaceful, no-stress environment is so appealing to me! Is it for you? Read this blog to find out why to watch less television from Becoming Minimalist.

 

Great Links to help you in your quest to make your home a relaxed, stress-free place:

Slow Your Home
Fly Lady
Becoming Minimalist
Zen Habits