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!"