Reflections on Consumption: Final thoughts

November 7

Today, I review what I’ve written, add to some posts, and reflect on what I haven’t included. Two things stand out, both related to bills I paid earlier in the week.

Firstly, I think my husband is less inclined to buy extra stuff in the grocery store (though he has his own weaknesses). He took over the shopping in September, which has done his health and my time a lot of good, not to mention being a great role model for my son. Glancing at where our accounts are, I think he’s doing better at buying less. I love giving people gifts. Again, that tendency is what tempted me to agree to do more than I had time for. Equally, I wonder how many extra ‘treats’ I bought my family that weren’t really needed. I certainly haven’t noticed the lack. Something to think about going forward, especially coming up to Christmas. My son certainly enjoyed the Lego set I got him but he didn’t really need it.

Secondly, one of the things I know would benefit us greatly is to insulate our home. Our utility bill is high and having put on the addition for my Dad, we are well aware that there is no insulation in some of our walls. Going forward and thinking about time and where to invest it, finding a fund to cover re-insulating the house would be an excellent use of my time or my husband’s.

Finally, I want to say how much I have gotten out of this journal. Interestingly, it has allowed me to see all the good I (and my family) are doing. This has been huge! I often feel that I don’t do enough – again that niggling anxiety that is associated with hyperconsumerism, or at least keeping up with the Jones. I pulled a book off my shelf last night: Slow. Simple living for a frantic world by Brooke McAlary (2018). She reminds us not to actually leave the trappings of hyperconsumerism behind when we slow down and consume less. As she notes: ‘I find so many people get overwhelmed at the idea of “doing minimalism right” that we essentially swap the old Joneses out for the new. The new Joneses seem to have conflated the minimalist aesthetic with mimimalism as a lifestyle (they are very different things). Their homes look like something straight out of a magazine spread and are simply another brand of unachievable status. So we find ourselves comparing our lives with a new set of icons’ (McAlary, 2018, p. 43). This journal has helped allay that through enabling me to see that that is perhaps exactly what I have been doing. That anxiety I feel when buying things or just generally is possibly because I am simply trying to keep up with the minimalist Joneses rather than being proud of what I have accomplished.

Nevertheless, the journal has also focused my attention on particular habits of mine that I can work on. I have been able to reflect on my life at a time where I have felt quite stretched. While I would have reduced my workload regardless, this allowed me to go a little further and begin to track and take ownership of how much my devices enable distraction. Giving attention to how and where I give attention, is worth continuing.

Downsizing, though it comes with an economic hit, has increased my wellness exponentially. I am now sleeping better. I am not running from pillar to post, ignoring my family and wondering how I am going to undertake the responsibilities I have. Through journalling, I am realizing that there is a lot I can do with what I have. And what I do have, is a wonderful family, a very supportive work environment and some really great friends.

Turning off the phone has really made me realize how tied to the blips and beeps I often am. A number of times this week, I realized my attention was irrevocably pulled in the direction of a beep when it patently shouldn’t have been. I will be paying a lot more attention to deciding when I attend to my phone and email and when I just let it go. I’ll pick it up later and be present for the people and projects that are here, right now.

Thanks Mitchell! Excellent project. And thanks, in advance, to my classmates for sharing their thoughts. I’m looking forward to taking the time to share and reflect.

References

McAlary, Brooke. 2018. Slow. Simple living for a frantic world. Sourcebooks.

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