Friday, December 30, 2011

The Forbidden Fruit

Today is December 30, which means I have only one more day to shop for myself before the fast begins.  As part of my preparations to stock-pile undergarments, I was forced to take a trip to Saks yesterday afternoon.  Saks is a great department store and I am happy for Birmingham that we have one.  However, I typically try to stay away on the assumption that nothing good can come from my going in there!  Operating under that assumption, I generally go only once or maybe twice a year, and always for something specific (say, On Gossamer underpants).

Yesterday was no exception, and I was on a very specific mission.  The plan:  march straight to the lingerie department and do not stop.  That plan was quickly derailed when, within five seconds of entering the doors, I spotted a friend and her daughter in the shoe department.  Well of course I wanted to stop and speak.  And of course, standing there in the middle of the Saks shoe department, shoes starting speaking to me - "look at me, you better get me now, I'm on sale, I come in your giant size 11!"  To make matters even worse, Saks was having their rack shoe sale (confession that I hit the Gus Mayer rack sale last week and bought a great pair of black booties), and there was an entire side of a rack devoted exclusively to sizes 10-11.  Jackpot!!  I felt an actual obligation to look.  There could have been some life altering shoes on that sale rack, and how would I know if I did not even look.  So you know what happened.  I'm staring at these great shoes (Prada, Jimmy Choo...brands I don't even own and cannot afford to buy) and I feel like we are in a stand off.  It's really a weird feeling to be taunted by shoes!

I walked away.  I had to.  I don't consider myself to be a shopaholic by any stretch, but maybe that is how an addict feels when exposed to the source of their addiction.  I knew it made no sense to just stand there and stare at shoes I had no intention of buying.  After the black booties last week, I had decided that would be the last impulse purchase for a very long time (and by long, I did not mean a week).  I quickly made my way up to the lingerie department and found what I was there to buy.  Purchase made, I now had to get back out of the store -- right through these gorgeous dresses and adorable spring frocks. It was terrible.  Usually I would not care, but somehow knowing that everything was "forbidden" made it so much more desirable.  I suppose there are some Biblical references to be made there!

I made it out with only underpants in hand, I am happy to say.  But I think I need to stay away from shopping opportunities until I feel stronger!

So tomorrow is the last day and I have only a few more necessities to purchase, and then the fast begins in earnest.  I know it will be a challenge at times, but I honestly feel like I will grow from this experience.   It is ridiculous to think for a second that I need any shoes, or anything else material for that matter, so I welcome the exercise of discipline and reflection.  Let me know if you are in too...I think forbidden fruit probably tastes pretty bitter and is not really worth it in the end.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Please Help Keep Us From the Mall!

Rhonda's story:

It is hard to know where this idea truly originated -- probably many pieces of my life coming together into that one epiphany moment in the shower on Sunday, October 9, 2011.  As I was preparing to go to church to give a brief talk on my recent medical mission to Honduras, I had this idea that I should go on a "fast" of sorts.  Those of you who know me know that I am always going on my temporary chocolate fasts (though I can proudly declare I've been M&M free for months now), and the ever-rare wine fast, but I have never contemplated this sort of fast.  This fast would be more about helping me focus on finding the REAL ME.  I decided that i wanted to spend some time not buying for myself.  I firmly believe we should all devote time and energy to our individual well-being, i.e., exercise, reading, reflection, prayer, and family time, but we could probably all benefit from devoting less material "stuff" to ourselves.  Honestly, ask yourself, is there anything material you truly need to be who God meant for you to be?  

So, I decided that in 2012, I am not going to buy anything material for myself.  No shoes (cue the tear drops falling from my eyes); no boots (no, those are not the same thing as shoes -- and you should have plenty of both, right?); no new bracelets, bangles, hoops or studs (can you have too many?); no coats, jackets, suits or skirts; no party shirts or dresses; not even a pair of yoga pants or running shorts.  I felt really excited about my decision and started to list in my head the possible exceptions -- a new pair of running shoes, if required (that's a matter of safety), and clearly toiletries and my usual skin care and makeup would be excluded.  But forget the cute new outfits for the rare night out with my husband, or the annual new swim suits when we go to the beach -- those are all off limits.  Now I need to anticipate all the things I'll really NEED in 2012 and make sure I stock up (underpants, yes!).  

A few hours post-decision, and feeling exhilarated and liberated, I decided to share with one of my best friends this decision I had made.  Amy and I were in the car together when I told her the plan and, much to my surprise, she didn't think I was crazy!  She actually got it!  We started talking about how much STUFF we have and how we lose sight of who we truly are because we let what we have, or sometimes do not have, and how we look, define so much of how we feel about ourselves or define who we are.  We talked about how we want to look in the mirror and see who WE ARE, who God meant for us to be, and not what we are wearing.  We waste so much time and focus too much on what does not really matter.  Then we started the lists of do's and don'ts...the budgeted, planned house expenditures would be okay (but no impulse purchases just because that candle is a beautiful shade of green and smells so good), and we could buy gifts for others.

After Amy and I experienced a whirlwind shopping trip to H&M (with 5 kids in tow -- it was THAT important to shop knowing we were about to give it up), Amy called me with the brilliant idea that we should write a blog about our "material fast".  I agreed it was a great idea -- we would certainly be holding ourselves accountable if we shared with others our journey to be "material free" in 2012, and it would likely be therapeutic and help us grow in our spiritual journey to see our real selves in the mirror.  After we got off the phone, I thought of a possible name for a blog and sent Amy a text with my idea.  I ran to the computer to see if the name was available, but found myself googling this one pair of shoes I've been wanting since February instead of going to blogspot.  I want them soooo badly -- and haven't I waited long enough to get them?  And they are really practical and cute.  I haven't ordered them yet and I still don't know if I will, but I do have through 12/31/11 to decide!

That is the story of the birth of our blog -- the idea for our material fast, coupled with Amy's idea to write the blog.  Neither of us claim to be writers -- I know I certainly don't count the legal writing I do with my job to qualify me to write a blog.  And I definitely don't think I am knowledgeable or enlightened enough to give anyone spiritual guidance.  But what I do know is that I am a pretty typical person and I know a lot of others out there that probably struggle like I do with feeling in (or rather, out) of touch with who I really am and what really matters to me and makes me the person I am.  So, I have no idea if anything I say will make a difference to any other person, but I am hoping that this exercise will help me to be more in touch with the real me -- to be the me that God meant for me to be -- not the me that looks good in new boots or a great sun dress!  So, I pray to God, "mirror, mirror, on the wall, please help keep me from the mall!"