Monday, February 4, 2008

Hello, My Name is Lisa O.

And I'm an American consumer.

The lure to leave my house in search of goods to purchase is amazingly strong! With this current theme of Not Buying It, it's quite insightful to see how often my little brain tries to trick me into spending. Indeed, my inner dialogue is in full swing most of the time these days.

Now that my work schedule has changed, and I have more days off and time at home (hooray!), my mind thinks I should spend this extra time by shopping. I recognize this reality as a long-standing trait about myself; one to which I am only now calling it for what it really is!

In the past two days, here are some of things I've considering doing/buying:

1) a trip to the grocery/big box store for supplementary items (when I already have enough stuff here at home on which to exist for at least a week or more!)

2) a venture to my favorite local skin care shop to buy some new face cream (I AM running low on one particular kind. But I have a plethora of others with which I can certainly make do for now.)

3) a blogging adventure and some hangin' out time at a local coffee shop (Mostly for the change of scenery and free WiFi. But then I'd be spending money on gas and coffee, right?)

4) a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up a few ingredients for a certain recipe I want to make. (see #1 rebuttal). I even justified this trip in my mind by telling myself I'd combine this trip with some mall-walking while there. My mind was clever in trying to bribe me with the ever-prevalent guilt-ridden demand for exercise!)

5) a lunch outing to one of our local favorite spots (which just happens to be near the Mac store, where I could gawk at fun,new accessories for my laptop!)

Shopping, shopping, shopping!!! It's all about shopping!!! Aaaggghhh!!!

Well, with concerted effort, here's what I've done instead:

-Stayed home
-Enjoyed peaceful quality time with my hubby and cats
-Watched birds and squirrels at the feeders in my back yard
-Took a walk out in nature, in the park/woods near my house
-Ate all meals at home (using what was already on hand.)
-Worked on our taxes
-Looked at my bank account to see how little disposable income I truly have right now :-0
-Updated the Peace Things web page
-Uploaded photos from my camera
-Visited with my brother-in-law
-Talked on the phone

In fact, I have an almost infinite list of chores that could keep me busy around this house! The sorting, cleaning, and fixing-up needs are immense!

But, alas, here is the realization of my *long* history of distracting myself through shopping. Yeah, this is going to be a tough year of restructuring not only my spending but my entire thought process, belief system, and behavior patterns all-together. Whew!

I have a strong sense that this radical shift calls for some 12 Step action.
Here's my take:

The 12 Steps (minus 4)
(excerpted from and modified herein by this author)

Step 1 - Admitted we were powerless over our consumerism.
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (As our spending ties in directly with our values and beliefs.)
Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our consumer spending.
(Thus, the purpose of this blog!)
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have all these defects of character removed.
Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8 - Made a list of all debts we owe and ramifications of our past spending habits and became willing to make amends for them all.
Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Because "How you spend your money is how you vote on what exists in the world."
~Vicki Robin


Amy said...

I'm amazed at how many people are "addicted" to shopping. I love to continually reinvent my wardrobe, simply using what's already in the closet. I'll start reading"Not Buying It" this evening.

It seems like you've had a very nice and fulflling FREE day!

Amy said...

Hi, Lisa. Thanks for your insights here. I came to your website via

I am trying to dig out from years of overconsuming. My new favorite thing is -- A way for things that I no longer need to find a new home.

GailNHB said...

I SOOOO needed this today. I love to shop. I always have. I shop to reward myself for things I do, for things I don't do, and just to relieve my boredom.

I am a bargain shopper: sale racks, Good Will, tag sales, reduced piles, so I'm not overspending. At least that's what I've always thought, but if I'm buying things I don't need, even if they are 90% off the original price, it's still overspending... It is time to make a serious change in how I make my way through this world. I am learning a new way to be in the world. To make the most of what I have.

I have begun some serious decluttering around the house (thanks to and "found" lots of things that I thought I needed to buy. Craft supplies. Clothing. Even jewelry I'd forgotten about. Cosmetics. Christmas cards. Stickers. Tape. Paper clips. Pens. Pencils. A veritable shopping plaza. All right here in our house. What great lessons for me. Stop shopping at the mall, Gail. Open a few closets and drawers right here at home! Gives new meaning to "shopping at home."

Thanks, Lisa, for the encouragement to just not buy it - or anything - for a while. Yeah for all of us!

Jena Strong said...

Great post, Lisa.

I don't think of myself as a shopper, and yet - your list of temptations rings all kinds of bells. I think the grocery shopping is the most insidious one, especially since I think of it as the shopping I HAVE to do. There are times, in the grocery store, that I get so zoned out and sucked in and overwhelmed by all those choices, products.

Your list sounds like a beautiful day. Not to mention productive - taxes!!

xo Jena

Westcoast Walker said...

Great post, you really capture the inner battle against those manufactured impulses that many of us do battle with.

I have the misfortune of working near a rather large and glitzy mall, and I used to wander there aimlessly during my lunch breaks. Now I avoid it like the plague, strap on my Ipod and go for walks outdoors. I find it good to be away from a source of temptation (HMV was always my weakness). If the weather is hideous I stay inside and read. I feel all the better for it.

DramaMama said...

Wow - I am you and you are me. I struggle w/this and recently have begun to try and simplify our lives. I could have written that exact same blog entry!! Thus, I am foraging into the blogosphere to commiserate w/others. I am amazed at how much time I have freed up by not going out. We recently have downsized to one car, too, so that is making us feel really free. I've enjoyed your blog today and will continue to read...stay strong, you are not alone!

Michelle said...

I wonder if this is another piece of this, from Mindful Parenting by Myla and John Kabat-Zinn:

I'm also very aware of the limits of our culture. It seems like all there is to do is to consume in some fashion. Whether it's shopping or eating or going to the movies, so often it all feels empty and lifeless. Where are the centers in our towns for dancing and music, storytelling, and conversation for all ages? (p354-355)

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