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Entries in balance (2)


Buying nothing still

I thought I'd write a brief progress report on my Buy Nothing Challenge, what I've noticed etc. 

Buying nothing has not been going smoothly. It's having an impact, but I'm not sure it's quite what I'd expected the impact to be. I don't browse Amazon much any more. I'm still massively irritated by ads. But I still occassionally trip and buy things. Some (most?) of them I justify. The small neoprene pouch I bought that houses my iPod and earbuds I justify by saying it will increase the life of both, and I certainly use it a lot. The scraps of leather I bought were definitely not for a new project, but for putting soles on my homemade slippers and has increased the life of them for sure (they'd both have holes in otherwise). Only trouble is I then came up with other projects for the leather (hello watchstrap) which meant I ended up buying tools. But the tools are reusable, and mean I can make myself new watchstraps instead of buying them - not to mention adding extra belt holes that mean I can carry on using one of my belts. 

The tights, well, yeah. I probably could have done without them. But the cold dragged on and on and on, and I wanted to wear my skirts and without tights that would have been impractical. If the cold weather had broken just a couple of weeks earlier I probably could have resisted, but it's just a pair of tights! 

And that's been one of the unintentional side-effects. I feel guilty about buying things. The joy I might get from a small purchase has been horribly tainted by the guilt, which in fairness has stopped me making a lot of small purchases. The Stuffa jacket I bought is definitely tinged with guilt. I didn't need it, but it was half price, the concept and packing it makes me smile, it seems to suit me, and yet I still feel a little... silly actually, as well as guilty about it. 

The big purchases too, the ones I've waited for, ummmed and ahhhed over, researched out of all sense of proportion, when I finally plump for something I am worrying that it won't be what I really want or need, because I really don't want to have to go and re-buy. The golf shoes I've just bought are a bit like that, even though the shoes I've been playing in are slightly too small and not waterproof in the slightest and that's pretty miserable. (All the rest of my new golf gear is only new to me, and I didn't really pay for it - it's other people's cast-offs.)

Plus what about rewards? I had a major milestone in my PhD in May, and at the end of reaching it I was exhausted. I wanted a reward, but felt that I couldn't buy anything. I felt I had no time for rewarding myself with a trip somewhere, or even a day off (although in hind-sight I probably should have taken time off to recover). I just ended up feeling a bit flat, like I had no recognition of this big achievement. It was very strange. I probably shouldn't associate stuff with achievement, but I wanted something. 

I can also feel a really big splurge coming on. The problem with researching is that you eventually find what you want. And when you do you can justify it in all sorts of ways. I want these boots from Conker. I need some winter boots to go with smart skirts/be less noticeable under trousers, because I'm rather assuming that I'll be needing to go to interviews again at some point (I'm thinking about the black ones - although I'd love the red it's not practical). I've checked, and they make them on a natural last and can make them totally flat. As luck would have it, we have an appointment in Exeter in October, which would be a good time to go and try them on. But boots are well outside my rules, and I do have a pair of smart shoes that would be ok. But if they fit and I like them, challenge and price be damned they are coming home with me! 

And that bag I was looking for? Meet Matthew. There may be one of these in grey-blue on order for me right at this moment. Just maybe. It's for my birthday. It's just a little early. 

So overall this has been an interesting way to examine my relationship to buying things, even more than my relationship to stuff. Actually, not buying stuff is easier for me when I am not earning much than I suspect it would be when I'm back to gainful employment. But this added layer of guilt is not something I was expecting. I will continue to try and mostly stick to the rules until the end of the year (splurges aside), but I recognise that there are limits to my dedication, and that actually feels pretty healthy. 


Picking up the pieces

The problem when I've had a very busy period is that I find they need a recovery period afterwards. I need to find all the things I ditched as being not immediately useful or relevant, and try and get them back under some sort of control. 

In some ways it's interesting looking at what got dropped, and what order they got dropped in! As best I can work out, anyway. It seems like the very first thing to go was my university blog. I was happily bumbling along giving weekly updates, and then suddenly I wasn't. That's fine, I was mostly doing them to give myself a sense of progress. Clearly I didn't need it any more. The question is whether I start doing them again or not? I'm not sure yet. 

Next on the list was this blog. Now part of that was that I didn't want to think on the weekends. The other part was that I wanted to blog our Berlin trip first, and somehow didn't feel up to it, and then everything else got put on hold behind it. Silly really, but it happens. Clearly I've blasted through that particular block now, so this is back on.

Cleaning hit the discard pile a few weeks back, sadly. I'd got into a nice routine where the kitchen and bathroom got deep cleaned on alternate weeks, and shallow cleaned on the other. Then they both just got a shallow clean. Then they got a wipe occasionally... Then Clarkie had to do them. On top of the cleaning she normally does. That's ok, for a really short while, and I take up the slack sometimes when she's got too much on. But not ok for the long term. So that is clearly back on my to do list.

I'd sort of got my email under control, then suddenly not so much. I went through it all yesterday, and was slightly startled by the number of read emails I had no memory of. If you think I owe you one, sorry, please try again now!

I had built up a nice little 10 minute mediation practise on a lunch time. That went, but fairly late - post-CHI. So the thing I was trying to turn into a habit to help in times of stress got ditched when times reached their most stressful. Go figure. I feel like I should try to get that going again, but it's taking more effort than the other stuff.

Sadly over the last couple of weeks running went too. Now that was more of a side effect of the cold I had; I couldn't run! I can't wait to get back at it, and hope to later today. Cycling also went, but that came back slightly earlier - as soon as I felt close to well enough. Granted it was very slow cycling, but that's better than nothing.

So what didn't change? Personal hygiene, you'll be glad to hear, remained right at the top of my priorities! A no-shower day is a very bad day indeed. Eating got a bit reduced (yes, I seem to have lost a little more weight - which is bad, actually) and main meals featured a lot of pasta, but at least 3 meals a day were consumed. And strangely, my lunchtime blog catch-up didn't go away. A little mental downtime seemed to help quite a lot, so that stayed. And my buy-nothing challenge was just fine! I still knitted, but switched to a more straight-forward project (plain stocking stitch) in the end, and did some other making-stuff sessions on the weekend (but very quick and simple ones). 

Hopefully I can get and keep things ticking again for a bit now. Bit worried I might swing back too hard the other way, but fingers crossed balance will be restored soon!