Connection vs. Consumption

img_0017I am currently in the midst of that classic first Monday in January activity…sorting last year’s receipts. In a strange trip down memory lane, my desk is covered with piles of small white pieces of paper which recount all of the groceries, car repairs, restaurant meals, home improvements, dates, shopping trips, hairstyles, and donations made in 2018. Looking at the piles, as I tally up totals, I can’t help but realize how much of the money was spent out of a desire for connection rather than for whatever it was I was purchasing.

Upon my return to LA from India at the end of January, I began what would become a year of work, jumping from one film set to another, with little time for anything else. As my 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and wages increased, so did my spending. As my sleep dwindled, so did my energy and with it my desire to cook, to make, and to create. Consumption filled the void. I ate out more, shopped more, and generally spent more money as I looked for anything to fill the hole left by not having time to blog, to sleep, to exercise, and to be.

These realizations lead me to look towards 2019 with a new set of goals and resolutions. Connection! To keep that word and all that it entails at the forefront of each decision, job offer, and purchase I make. The reality is that when I am connected to my life, I probably need about half as much money as when I am not.  I sleep well and exercise so therefor don’t need to go to the doctor. I rotate my closet through a network of consignment shops which quickly turns into a fun hobby/treasure hunt. I am able to stay up to date with maintenance of car and electronics which keeps them from being neglected and therefor needing more repairs. I eat out less because I have the time and energy to cook. And I am around for when a friend calls and wants to get together, which leads to what I really want. Connection.

And, for those purchases that do still need to be made in 2019, I plan to

  1. Buy the best version, thereby hopefully having it forever. Think heirloom quality.
  2. Buy only what can be recycled and accepted back into the earth.
  3. Avoid plastic. Buy the cardboard, glass, wood, aluminum alternative whenever possible.
  4. Buy with cash, not credit.
  5. Fix, mend, tend, and repair whenever possible.

So far, 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As I look toward the future, I pledge to stop going to the hardware store for milk, as the saying goes. Rather than seek connection through consumption, I will show up where it can actually be found; in personal and professional relationships, laughter, eye contact, nature, kitchens, dancing, travels, gardens, exercise, dinner parties, hikes, couches, kisses, and creativity.

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Money/Distraction

I had an aha moment this week while sitting in the wardrobe trailer, in the middle of the night, shopping for expensive sneakers online… The more hours per week I work and the more money I make, the more I spend and look for distraction and satisfaction in things and stuff. 

Since October I have been working just enough to pay the bills and keep “it” all going, with plenty of time to cook at home, eat well, exercise, write, take classes, and create things, but without enough money to buy a lot of extras. And I feel absolutely no lack or scarcity, only abundance and the freedom to do as I wish with my time. Like when I was in college, I’ve returned to shopping at consignment shops, furninshing my house with treasures found at flea markets, and making stuff; things I always enjoy doing, but which fall by the wayside out of laziness when money is plentiful and time is scarce. 

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on location, working 70-80 hours a week, eating junky food because I’m tired, not sleeping enough, not exercising and, incidentally, shopping online. Why??!!  Because I am bored, uninspired, not feeling connected to my life, and looking for any kind of satisfaction. Chocolate and shoes fit the bill. 

I lived years of my life in this kind of circle until I finally realized what was happening. Time, Freedom, Health, Fun, Travel, Friends and Family, Community.. these are the only things I really care about anymore or that help me to truly feel satisfied. What else could I use that fancy sneaker money for? Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while there is a pair of sneakers capable of bringing joy! But, overall, when I find myself shopping online at two in the morning, eating chocolate, I am usually looking for distraction and satisfaction that should be coming from other sources. 

So, the past two weeks have been a good reminder of what my life used to be like versus what it’s like now. And, I’m grateful to fill the coffers a bit. But, how can that money serve me and help me get the things I truly value rather than a bunch of stuff? That’s the question to remember and to answer. 

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