For forty days, this year's Lenten Sacrifice--my first real one in years--is that I'm not buying anything I don't need. Exceptions include items for the kids, such as clothes and books. As well as, say, ingredients for something special I want to cook or bake. Or, say, getting the car washed. But beyond that, I'm not buying anything. This means no trips to Home Goods. (Well, I can go. But I won't leave with anything.) And no trips to Target for anything but the necessities. No new random items for the house. No new little or big indulgences... no lipstick or nail polish or magazines or shoes (whimper) or purses (sob).
I'm hoping for a few things to come of this. One: That I can prove to myself that I can truly sacrifice this for forty days. Two: That it will instill some new prudent spending habits in me. For good. Three: That I'll save some money. Four, and most importantly: That I'll finally really appreciate how much I already have.
Four days into Lent, so far so good. I've been to the drugstore, where all I purchased were my dog's meds. I went to the bookstore and walked out EMPTY HANDED. From a bookstore. This is unheard of. I went to Target and only bought what we needed, though I was able to indulge a little retail craving because my Swiffer AND my fireplace screen needed replacing. Had to buy those today. The Swiffer was non-negotiable. The fireplace screen was marked down--and down and down--to only $7.98, so it was worth it, considering our old one literally collapsed into several pieces the last time I moved it.
Life's been all about moderation and balance for me lately. I'm working hard on this in 2010--and beyond. Getting back into yoga in earnest only helps. Since December, I've hit at least two classes a week, now that a favorite studio of mine has opened a new space downtown. I've also barely had much alcohol to drink, determining that it makes me feel dull and lousy overall, and so I don't need it. Although I enjoyed a good glass of wine with dinner out last night, I'm not inclined to buy any for the house. And the remainders of a six-pack I bought for some friends who came over a few weeks ago has lasted until this weekend. I'm much happier when I stick to my usual tea and seltzer routine. I won't turn down a nice cold beer or a glass of malbec once in a while, but mostly it's the clear-eyed life for me.
And so I focus on other things. Like working on the house. We've painted our bedroom, the upstairs bathroom, and the kitchen cabinets. What a difference. Seriously. And in the kitchen, a pot rack and some new curtains really help give the space a new dimension. I've also been religiously watching the Olympics with the kids. Snowboarding is, of course, a winning favorite in our house, especially with my pint-sized snowboarders who worship Shaun White. That Louie Vito kid ain't bad either, and he reminds me somewhat of a very young Angus Young. The kids are fired up to hit the slopes again next week and get their snowy shred on.
I've also been busy with the usual--motherhood, work, volunteer stuff, PTO thingies, report card conferences (STELLAR! Both of them. AMAZING.), three dogs, a little things called marriage, daydreaming about Spring, and marveling over the fact that my Grandmother was just recently given an excellent prognosis after being treated for the past several months for her second bout with cancer. In 2007, she was diagnosed with liver cancer, of all things. And in 2008 she managed to be one of the lucky 10% who beat the odds. 2009 brought a new diagnosis--a different kind of cancer in a different place. But sure enough, Grandma beat it again. She will be 81 this April, and I can't thank God enough for every extra minute he has given us with her.
One thing she has taught me throughout her two bouts with cancer is that acceptance of one's self and situation in life is key. That's not to say we should be complacent. But first, we need to accept at any given moment that we are somehow imperfect, or facing a challenge. And we need to forgive ourselves for it. Once we do that, we achieve a certain level of peace. And only then can we begin heal.
Recently my sister suggested that Grandma try yoga. "But she has!" I said. She was surprised. "Yes," I went on. "Grandma and I used to do yoga on the beach together with a teacher in East Haven," I explained. "When the boys were babies." And then Grandma got sick.
Grandma is well again. Spring training has begun again for baseball. A few more weeks, and I'll be celebrating the sprouting crocuses as well as my birthday, (37! oy vey!). There are lots of yoga classes all around town. I think Grandma might be ready to hit one up again. Maybe we'll go together at an hour I would normally find myself at Home Goods, wandering around and filling up a basket with things I never really needed to make my house a home anyway.