(One of my favorite lines from the movie, Cool Runnings, and utterly appropriate lately.)
Perhaps not surprisingly, the information I’m receiving from my “expert” sources is like sitting in an echo chamber:
Stretch beyond your current comfort zone. Be curious about how to approach things. Don’t limit yourself to your present reality. Take action. Make a plan. Measure progress. Establish accountability.
Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, and Brian Grazer are all touting the same advice: Do more to be more.
The movie quote has been scrolling through my mind as I’ve recently taken action in various areas of my life, one being “spending out.” This is a phrase coined (to me) by Gretchen Rubin in her Happiness books and which I related to immediately: We don’t buy things we need; we put off purchasing them and make due with moth-eaten, or sample packets, or simply without; we deny ourselves the replenishment (literally and spiritually) of the pleasures and efficiencies of life.
Every month, I write a spending plan that includes line items such as clothing, entertainment, personal care. And for as many years as I’ve kept a spending plan, I have “fundged” money from these line items to make up for deficits caused by, say, an unexpected parking ticket, more eating out, or balancing out some other “necessary” line item. This has meant that, for months on end, I go without spending the money I’ve allotted and planned to spend.
Now, surely, NOT spending money may be a value trumpeted by our society — SAVE YOUR DIXIE CUPS! — but in a case like mine, I deprive myself for months on end, feel edgy and dissatisfied, and mostly, I just feel like I’m not moving forward in life, no matter the numbers on my paycheck.
So, in an effort to “Do more to be more,” I have been spending out. In January, I spent from my “Entertainment” line: I bought tickets to the symphony to see West Side Story (phenomenally delightful); I bought my very first series package from the SF Opera (my favorite, Tosca, was a part of the package, and I get 50% off for being a teacher!); and I spent the $3.99 to stream a beloved video at home with my sweetheart (Hot Tub Time Machine… they can’t all be operas!).
I spent in “Personal Care” by setting up a recurring delivery of my favorite facial moisturizer, instead of slowly scraping through various samples and ending up with breakouts or dry skin. I got a pedicure! I can’t recall the last time I’d had one.
In February, so far, I totally scored in “clothing.” As I’ve gotten older, my ideas around what clothing purchases I make have become more stringent as my ethics have solidified: no first-press clothing. What I’ve done for a few years, then, is to shop at thrift stores. I’ve found some crazy prizes, but for the most part, the clothing from “thrift” stores can be pilled, worn-out, and not very stylish. So I simply go without.
Last year, however, I began to haunt this one consignment store in a wealthier part of town. And, boy, howdy, have I done well there.
But I hadn’t been in over 6 months. I hadn’t spent in my clothing line for that long. I have been depriving myself. And I hate it.
This past Friday afternoon, I shopped. I shopped so hard.
What was remarkable to me about this shopping trip was the abundance of “manifesty” items I was able to find: the oxblood motorcycle-style leather jacket (a la Emma Swan of Once Upon a Time); the knee-high leather boots (size 11!); the happ’nin oxford leather shoes (to replace the fading bronze ones you see at the top of this blog). I have wanted each of these items … for years.
And as I exited the store beneath the darkening sky, the last customer of the night, a smile pasted, eyes widened, heart spun, I felt prosperous. I felt right-sized. I felt, f*cking Olympic.