My kids got Mary Poppins for Christmas, and I'm enjoying re-learning all the great songs and dances from that classic musical. I've also found myself quoting her to my children many times the past few days. In her wise words...
“For every task that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and snap, the job's a game.”
I've also been applying this mantra to my own life as I've tried harder and harder to be less consumeristic. In my own home, I'm safe, but as soon as I step out into the real world, I meet a thousand enticements to slide right back in to that spend, discard, spend, discard cycle.
For example, I went to the mall last November for the first time in several months, and suddenly I was intensely aware of how drab my clothes are, how my shoes are out of style, and how I have no cool jewelry. I was feeling a little despondent about my dowdy appearance and had the impulse to spend to my heart's desire to make myself feel better.
Instead, I came up with a compromise: I could buy myself new clothes whenever I wanted as long as they came from a thrift store.
Up to that point, I had never enjoyed thrift store shopping. But as I began visiting my thrift store on a weekly basis, I began to see the fun in it. It is a challenge to find good buys. And when I do find them, I feel a victorious high that I've never felt from a shopping spree at the mall.
If you're trying to live a low-impact lifestyle, it's easy to start feeling deprived, but if you find the fun in your new way of life, it becomes a game, and it can be amazingly rewarding.
Here are some more examples:
- I am hooked on Craigslist. Why would I ever want to buy something new again when there are so many “like new” items on Craigslist? And like shopping at thrift stores, I see Craigslist as a challenge. I have a running list of things I want, and I check it regularly. I have to be patient until just the right item at just the right price comes along. But if I put in the effort, I reap some amazing rewards.
- In my attempt to be more frugal and buy less, I've started seeing everything in a new light. Before buying something, I ask myself, “How could I improvise and use something I already have to do this job?” Before I throw something away, I ask myself, “Is there any way I could reuse this?” When I come up with a way to solve a problem using that method, I feel creative and satisfied.
- Trying to support my local economy, I do a lot of shopping at the farmer's market. I hate going grocery shopping, but the farmer's market is fun every time. I only take one kid with me at a time, and we make it a date, giving me a chance to teach each child on an individual basis about where our food comes from. First Son always asks, “Momma, are these eggs from happy chickens?”
- Sometimes if you're willing to be behind the times, you can reap some great benefits. For example, we still have a VCR. I can pick up old VHS tapes, like Mary Poppins, from the thrift store for a couple dollars. The videos are getting extra use instead of heading straight to the landfill, and we get to enjoy some classic old movies without waiting for them to be released from the Disney vault.