NEEDS vs WANTS

Yesterday a friend texted me and told me she had no food in her house. I kind of groaned. I had just been looking at my bank account and was feeling stressed at the thought of stretching the amount of money I had to meet our family’s needs. My first thought was, I do not have enough money to go buy her groceries. I’m going to be stretched as it is to buy food for my own family. I texted her back the name of a food kitchen in our neighborhood that would be having a free marketplace in a couple days. She made plans to drop by my house in a little while and so I got up, grabbed a bag and went and looked in my pantry. I started filling up the bag and then went and got a second bag and filled it up too. By the time I was done, I had put up enough food for several days for her family and really had not put any stress on our family by doing so. I hadn’t realized that I had that much food laying around my house. 

Before the text, my mindset had been, We have NO FOOD in the house! I NEED to go grocery shopping! In reality, even after giving away two bags of groceries, I still had enough food in the house that if some world catastrophe struck and we were trapped, I could still feed our family for a couple weeks. Of course, I wouldn’t have any fresh fruit and vegetables or milk, and I’d run out of meat pretty quick, but we could eat homemade cornbread and bread, and beans and other nutritious food that would serve us just fine in an emergency. (And no, I’m not a prepper.)

This summer I moved out of my bedroom. I filled up a canvas bag of clothes and a couple personal items and I didn’t go back into my room all summer. I lived all summer with one bag. I wanted my room back, but did I NEED any of the stuff in my room to live? Nope. 

This past weekend my husband and I spent a weekend at a cabin without the kids. I took groceries and cooked our meals while we were there. The cabin was stocked with everything you were supposed to need to cook. They had really limited options though. The entire weekend I cooked using one wobbly knife, one spatula, and one big spoon. I missed my utensil drawer back home that has a million knives and million spoons. But, I didn’t NEED all those utensils. They just make life a bit easier. 

Today, I have been looking around my house. I realized that though I have a large cupboard filled with pots and pans and cooking sheets and baking pans and serving bowls, I don’t use all of them. In fact, on a regular basis, I only use about half of my pots and pans. I have a storage place on top of my cabinets that is full of interesting serving platters and jars and fancy dishes. I don’t think I’ve touched them in two years. 

I have a hallway that has a large bookcase full of all my homeschooling books and materials that I used during my twelve year stint of homeschooling. I have been unsure of what to do with all these materials. I have tried giving them away, but no one is interested. I hate selling things, with a passion, so getting on ebay to sell my stuff is not a viable option. While I would like to keep all my interesting books that the kids love to read and look at, I have no need to keep boring, half-used workbooks. And there are a lot of the books that really aren’t that interesting. In short, I have an entire hallway filled with things I don’t NEED and I don’t even really WANT. 

In fact, I have a feeling that a good fifty percent of the belongings in my house are things that we don’t NEED and don’t even WANT. 

I am finding that belongings and things are actually a pretty heavy burden. You have to clean them and organize them. They make your living space feel more crowded. They complicate your life more. Busily managing your stuff takes time away from other more important things. But, it’s an addiction. We are a consumer-driven society. We are always on the lookout for things to buy. More things to own. Commercials feed this. We see something shiny and bright and new on the screen and we think, wow, I NEED one of those. And we use the word NEED a lot. I NEED some new clothes. I NEED some new shoes. I NEED new furniture. I NEED that new gadget. I NEED a new book. (That one is my go-to statement.)

Maybe it would help us if we stopped using the word NEED and replaced it with WANT. It would be more honest. Cause really, our NEEDS are very basic. We need food and water, shelter, clothing, loving relationships. Our WANTS are a lot more complicated. 

I WANT to dress at the same level as my peers so I don’t stand out. I WANT things that make my life more convenient and easy. I WANT to be entertained 24hrs a day. I WANT something new to boost my mood and cheer me up. 

I don’t know if there is anything inherently wrong with wanting things. But when those things start to take over your life and actually make your quality of life worse, it’s probably a good idea to regroup. Make yourself differentiate. Do I NEED this or do I just WANT this? Is adding another object to my life going to make my life better or just more complicated? Do I really want to have to clean up this much stuff every day? 

I have decided that the answer to those questions is NO. I don’t need this stuff, and in fact, I don’t want to clean up all this stuff. I don’t want to have to keep taking care of all this stuff. So, I am initiating The Great Heneise House Clean Out. 

Here’s to making life more simple and getting all those WANTS back under control. 

Fat Fridays: Week 20 The Dreaded Clothes-Shopping Trip

It’s late. I just got back from seeing the movie Endgame with my husband. Awesome movie! And of course we have a house full of teens/kids who are Marvel fans and my son was lying in wait when we got home, wanting to hear our opinion of the movie. (He and his sister went on opening night. Then he took his younger brothers. My husband and I are some of the last to see it in our family.) It was a great date night. We went to the restaurant Tomato Head, a Knoxville specialty, that has lots of vegan and gluten-free options. I was wearing a new outfit. Wonderful evening.

So, about that new outfit…The subject that has been on my mind today is clothes shopping. How many people like clothes shopping? I happen to be one of those people that hates clothes shopping. I would almost rather go to the dentist than have to go buy new clothes. Almost. I avoid it like the plague. That of course, is a simple thing to do when you are a stay-at-home mom with lots of kids and a limited budget. Win-win for me. Don’t like to shop. Don’t have money to shop. Don’t have time to shop. It works. Except when I need new clothes. And I use the word “need” in a literal sense. As in, I don’t own any shirts that aren’t stained or ripped, or any shorts that I’m not constantly hitching up because they are too loose. Getting too small for your clothes is a good problem. Right? Except that I hate clothes shopping.

Well, the stars all lined up perfectly this week. I had time, money, and a need. I went to the store with the specific chore of buying a couple shorts, t-shirts, and a simple dress. Nothing fancy. I walked around, found a couple things that looked ok. As in, I don’t think that will make me look Too Hideous, let’s try it on. I took my armful of clothing and went to the changing room. That’s when the voice spoke up. There’s this really mean, horrible voice, that sounds a lot my own voice, and it’s pipes up in my head every time I go and try on new clothes. Look at you. You look horrible. You are so ugly. Nothing looks good on you. Why are you even trying to buy clothes? You’re too fat for clothes shopping. You should just go home…Even now, writing about this, it manages to evoke an emotional response. I suddenly feel worthless. Ugly. Less than. I hate it.

None of the clothes fit right and I felt very discouraged as I left the changing room. I don’t even think discouraged is the right word. I felt like someone had knocked me to the ground and then kicked me. There’s a reason I don’t like clothes shopping. I tried again to find something that might look right, failed again. The voice got louder. I was ready to give up. I’ll just keep wearing my old clothes. It’s not that big a deal. And then suddenly I was able to step back a minute and view the scene with some perspective. Why are you listening to that voice? Why are you talking so horribly to yourself? Why are you attacking yourself? I didn’t have an answer, and that’s probably a subject for a good therapy session, but I was able to stop. Step back, and look at the problem logically. I need some new clothes. Somewhere in this store is probably at least one pair of shorts and one t-shirt that will look ok. Try again. And so I did. I found a pair of shorts, two t-shirts, and on the way out, found the last dress of it’s kind in my size. Victory.

I imagine I am not the only overweight person who struggles with clothes shopping. Despite the fact that the average American woman nowadays is a much larger size, the fashion industry still focuses most of its attention on the skinnier sizes. I look at the magazines, then I look at myself in the mirror, and I obviously don’t match up to the standards of Beauty and Fashion that they are promoting.

There is a woman that I know, and she is my hero. She is very overweight, but she is beautiful. She does her hair fancy, applies her makeup beautifully, and is always wearing the most fashionable outfits. She is confident and happy. I want that. I want to look in the mirror and like what I see, whether it’s a size 20 or a size 10. I want to feel like I’m worth the effort to take some time with my hair. I want to feel like I am important enough, no matter what size I am, to set aside some money and go hunting till I find the clothes that look nice and fashionable. I want my self-worth to not be dependent on my weight. I’m not sure how to get from where I am to that level of confidence and self-acceptance, but maybe, even being aware enough to make it a goal, maybe that’s the first step.