Jill ponders her year without shopping in a fun, fresh, engaging and occasionally informed way

Be the first to read her twice weekly posts here! Become a Follower! Or head to the website to watch/read the media segments and sign up for your own Year Without Clothes Shopping!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Temptation? What Temptation?

Greetings from blog #19. Slightly longer gap between this and the last post, due to my travels and attention being elsewhere. Namely on running a workshop for 9 fabulous people in Melbourne, and catching up with friends in Sydney and Melbourne. This included an evening of improvisation that my pal Cindy in Sydney invited me to.... brings to mind that saying made famous by Woody Allen - the most fun with clothes on. Comes close.
So, here's what happened. In Sydney, I had no trouble avoiding shopping temptation, basically because I didn't go into any stores. Easy, right? Melbourne - slightly different story. I stayed with my friend Helen, who is a sensational image advisor and we went to one of those large, multi-story, divorce-inducing shopping centres that Australian suburbs boast so proudly. She had a small shopping errand to run (buy two new cami's from Witchery), and I decided to tag along. This was the first time I had been inside a women's clothing store, like properly and for real dude, since the challenge began in mid December. I even got to spend about 10 minutes inside the store, which is about 10 minutes longer than I've spent in a clothing store in about two months. You see....
Try it on. Don't mind me. Helen needed a few minutes to check out the cami section in the store, then to try them on. Yes, dear reader, she is a shopper of that particular ilk that prefers to try items of clothing on rather than purchase them untried-on (because she hates trying things on) and taking them home in the hope that they will fit. Not that I know anyone like that or do it myself. Well, ok, I do, but only for specific irritating things, like cami's. What I do instead is particularly ingenious and I'm sure the clothing stores don't mind one bit -- I just pull them tight across the bust region and if it visually looks like it might fit me, I purchase it. This is not a foolproof system, I should add as a warning for those considering dispensing with the whole Trying On process. Anyway, getting back to Witchery -- what all this checking out and trying on activity translated into was that I was left to my own devices for the aforementioned 10 minutes.
How did I go? Ok, that's the (what dollar amount is suitable for this question - $15?) -- That's the $15 dollar question (how does that sound?). Answer: really well! I did indeed wander around, rather than sit rigidly on the rather grubby couch staring rigidly ahead of me, not daring to look left nor right in case an item should capture my attention and demand, yes, demand, my attention. No, no, I wandered here, sallied there, picked up this, pulled out that, silently admired those earrings (and the yoga leggings - quite yum). Thing is -- and this is perhaps a confession of sorts -- shops like Witchery, which do great basics, don't really tempt me and haven't for years. That's because my own wardrobe is well stocked in the basics, and "we do the basics really well" stores, like Witchery, rarely offer anything that's innovative in cut, design or print (and that's not a criticism, because what they do offer is terrific). What really truly ruly deeply madly tempts me in stores these days are those that sell items that speak to my personality -- that are fun and funky and a bit innovative in some way. Quality animal print (in almost any item of clothing, from toes to ears and everything in between) almost always grabs my attention. And shakes me until my brain boils (ok, a mixed metaphor there, but you get the idea).
Temptation - ha! That's why my little trip into Witchery wasn't much of a test. Ok, it was a small test of sorts but it wasn't a bone-jarring, gut-twisting, heart-breaking test that I was in huge danger of failing. Now, if it had been a Macy's store during sale time -- then I'd be in trouble. But since I wasn't, all is well. Right?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Masked Man

Welcome to the soup (reference to the weather here on the Steamy Coast (recently renamed from Sunshine Coast as it's not living up to that name just now)) and also to Blog # 18. Am about to jump on a Jetstar flight to Sydney and beyond for the rest of the week.... the trip is for me to catch up with friends and I'm also running a workshop on Type Dynamics, which is linked to the MBTI (personality profiling tool) in Melbourne. The glorious photograph, right, is of me with my good friend Greg (the G-Man), taken some years ago at a masked opera event. My mask is homemade (if you couldn't guess) but Greg's was a proper professional mask and he did look dapper decked out in full battle dress. Greg and I have been friends since University (the first time around) which means we go back over 20 years now. Yegods, are we really that old? Well, 40 is the new 20 -- have botox will remain young (kidding! am a botox-free zone, at least for now).
Gregoire was kind enough to share some of his responses to my recent blogging with me.... being a man of quick wit and dry turn of phrase, I thought I'd share a snippet of what he shared with me. Most amusing.
"I'm following your blog with interest, partly because I don't suffer from this affliction and partly because I know people who do. Rather smug though I may be, I can cruise Chermside shopping centre without disorientation... I don't have a scout badge to prove it though.
In the past, I have been gently chided by the intonation of the name "Imelda" while my shoe rack is on display. That's shoe rack, thanks very much. Feel free to say "nice rack" next time you're over. My position on shoes is probably indefensible... just like my position on jackets. I'd like to have one of each of the classics. We are talking a terracotta suede, velvet smoking, black leather, camel coloured corduroy, an 80s Country Toad sports coat, plus the pin stripe, double breasted grey and .... anyway, you get the idea.
Moving house caused me to cull my shoes... jackets, well, less so. Mostly because they were overseas purchases. Which brings me to my point: sentimental value.
There was a wrench when I consigned one purchase to the rag bag: it was my original second hand terracotta suede jacket, bought in London over 15 years ago. From the front, it looked the biz and felt very comfortable. Unfortunately, the back was holey - no hope of resurrection. The wrench did pass, after purchasing a new second hand terracotta suede jacket at the Valley markets, one or two winters ago.
Sentimental value means some things may never go to God (or his/her agent on earth, the Salvos). Buying them when I was bigger only adds to their charm".
Charm, wit, intrigue, good looks - a man among men, you are, G-man. Thanks for sharing. (and for those reading this in type, G has self reported preferences for ISFP, which fit like a glove in my mind, knowing him as I do. If you have no idea about what I'm talking about and I just may as well have slipped into Macedonian, just skip that bit). And you don't even need the mask. Right?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bag it!

Happy Friday wherever you are and welcome to blog #17. My target is to blog a couple of times a week about this, and so far so good. This coming Monday will welcome the two month mark of the challenge, and so far, it's been fairly good - I no complain. A few minor ups and downs but nothing that has really spiked the emotional graph too much (haven't had to break out the emergency fund of blue pills). Day ain't over yet, I realise, but we're tracking along quite well, all in all.

Say that again - you're thinking less....Actually, you know what I've noticed? I think about shopping less. I think about acquiring new clothing items less than I used to, only a couple of months ago. I am thinking of other things, that's also true and that helps -- a shift in focus. But it's equally true that my thought patterns around shopping have changed. It's like my scanning mechanism for shopping has been systematically tampered with, just enough, to lower my sensitivity to shopping. Somehow. I'm sure some pure psychomathmatician (that job exists, right?) could generalise a theorem or mathematical proof to prove or disprove the underlying structural elements creating a causal link between desire and discipline. But the bottom line is that shopping is in my thoughts less and less. I don't find myself thinking "oh, might pop into Zambezi for a quick look at what they've got" so much, and I don't find myself in the general vicinity of Zambezi so much either.

Cathartic clean out. I did a mini clean out of my closet the other day. Completely spontaneous. Went in there to put a pair of socks away and ended up feeling the need to review my shoes and tailored shirts and trousers. It was quite cathartic and I ended up giving to the goodwill four bags (pictured above) with the following inside them:
  • 10 pairs of shoes. This is the sum total of some people's shoe wardrobe (hi Jenni!), I know. But it represent(ed) about 10% of mine. These shoes were in good nick, but hadn't been worn in over a year
  • 14 shirts and tops. Nine of these were tailoured shirts I would wear for work/going out, but they weren't my best, or didn't fit as well as I'd like, or didn't feel completely... right. One of particularly good quality is going to a friend (hi Helen!) as she'll likely get more wear out of it than me. The tops that hit the bag were pilled -- you know those little balls of fabric that congregate under the arms and other high impact areas? That's pilling and these tops had hit their limit
  • 5 pairs of tailoured trousers. Mainly bagged because they weren't my best, I didn't feel particularly great wearing them, and they were in a colour I had a lot of (chocolate for instance - I still have 9 pairs of pants somewhere in the 'chocolate' range)

So, that all felt great. I took my haul down to Lifeline so those items will go the Lifeline warehouse and be sorted for distribution around Queensland. That feels good, too. There's more hanging space now - rather than shirts and pants being slightly crammed in together on the rail, there's a bit more room. My shoe rack wasn't crammed but it was full. And now it's a little... less full (gee, I'm articulate today, aren't I?). I'm guessing another purge or two will happen during the coming 10 months.

So that's life as we know it inside the Challenge this week. It feels a little like the white line in the middle of the road for now. Which ain't terribly excitin', but ain't too bad either. Right?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lying Low

Greetings and welcome to blog #16. It has been so steamy these last few days - raining, but the kind of rain that doesn't cool things down, making things feel very steamy. What I imagine living in a soup would be like.
So, here's what I have to report, friends. Have been feeling a little low the last couple of weeks. The work year has definitely kicked off and with the renovation of our I'm Listening Now website (which we had a false start with in late 2009) gearing up, it's shifted some emotions that were lying dormant, causing a general feeling of being unsettled. I've included the photo of the giraffes left, taken by me in 2002 in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The reason? This is one of the images I evoke when I'm aware enough to create a 'better feeling' place. That's if I want to stop lying in the garden of worms (metaphorically speaking, of course).
And what the #@*& does this have to do with The Challenge? I've been wondering that myself, over the last few days as I've been chewing on this issue. Well, not just chewing, but microwaving it, bubble bathing it, putting it in my hair, taking it out again, giving it to the dog.... And here's what I've come up with. Going shopping was a method I would use to lift my spirits. It was a temporarily uplift - like a shot in the arm -- giving me a positive jolt whose effect would be felt for a few hours, maybe days. So, without the shopping there as one avenue I could use to help me feel better, I'm left with.... well, me and my emotions and thoughts. I've become quite resourceful, over the last few years, in finding ways to "shift the emotional dial" (up), and shopping was only one of those ways. But it's a particularly effective method, and its effect is felt immediately (if not long-term). So, without it, my resourcefulness is stretched in other directions, and quite frankly, its harder work to pick myself up when I'd really just go for immediate gratification of having a shopping "hit".
I would use also use shopping as a way to reward myself for working hard, getting through a particularly challenging client workshop, or just as a way of justifying a purchase -- I deserve this! Now that the nature of my work has changed -- less client workshops, more writing and creating from my home office -- the need to reward, and basis for rewarding, myself has changed, too. I feel a little like there's less tangible effort to be rewarded -- so much of what I am doing at the moment is writing, and what I'm discovering is that writing doesn't provide immediate feedback, like facilitating a client workshop does. So, I'm exploring and discovering all kinds of things about who I am when I'm at work, since the "work" piece has changed considerably. And this includes how I feel I can reward myself.
Sum up please! So, here's what I reckon: the challenge has triggered, in part, the turbulent emotional landscape I've been traversing in the last little while. Without shopping to give me a shot in the arm to make me feel temporarily better, I've been floundering for longer, not wanting to do the "hard yards" of making myself feel better by other means.
Before the challenge started, I really had no real idea of how deeply connected shopping had become to my emotional state. It's kind of startling. I don't really like it, or like admitting it. But this is a warts and all experience, and I'm just hoping that the dark side of the street will be just as supported as the sunny side. The sunny side is more fun, though. Right?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Dab Hand with the Pliers

Blog #15. Here we are! It's February 2 (my excellent relationship with the date stamp of blogger continues, oh joy). I mentioned a couple of postings ago that I'd let you in on a new skill I have developed. Well, it's an extension of an existing skill, one I have been developing for some time. And that is the design and creation of my own jewellery. The photo on the left is me in my radiant beading glory. We were lucky to find a shot of me without my lips being pursed into a straight line (a sure sign I am concentrating), although this one does nicely show off the dust on the top off the light as well as my deft handling of the beading tools.

Design Queen. Well, maybe not so much a Queen but a Lesser Lady in Waiting. I've re-designed many pieces of my jewellery over the last few years. I've really enjoyed the creative process of putting this with that and seeing what works. Mixing colours, sizes, textures, shapes together and coming up with something unique and lovely. To aid me in this endeavour, I fumbled around with various bead stores until I found the creme de la creme - Timbuktu to Kathmandu (http://www.timbuktu.com.au/) which is the most glorious bead store I've ever been into. Located in Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast, they have three levels of beads in their store:
  1. the "great unwashed" which sit in their plastic storage jars for anyone, absolutely anyone, to pick up, open and touch; there are a lot of these beads, they make up the majority of the store and these beads are generally priced anywhere from 20cents up to say $4.
  2. the "middle rung" of beads are encased in locked cabinets but still stored in plastic jars - one needs the blessing of the king (or one of the girls in the store, almost all of whom I know by name - hi Mandy! Carolyn! Ava!) to get into this cabinet, and the quality of these beads is higher than the great unwashed beads; price ranges of these beads is around $4 - $12.
  3. then, my favourite cabinet - the "top drawer" beads, which are also under lock & key, but they are stored in felt-lined boxes, due to the fact that there are so few of them (they wouldn't fill a plastic jar) and they are made of Italian glass and probably shouldn't be dropped into a jar lest they break; the price range of these beads is about $15 up to $70 per bead. Per bead. You heard that right folks. As you might have guessed, this is my favourite cabinet - the quality of the beads is in a class of their own!

MYO. The reason I attempted to make my own jewellery was, initially, to save a few bucks. The good women of Timbuktu to Kathmandu charge (a reasonable fee) to string/finish your jewellery. A pair of earrings costs $15 to finish, and so on. So, in an effort to save some money, I thought: hey, I can teach myself to do the bendy-wire bizzo and finish my own necklaces and earrings! Why not??!! But here's the thing -- once I had re-worked a number of my necklaces and earrings (more of that in a mo), I found myself experiencing a wave of satisfaction, that I could make something, quite beautiful really, with my own hands. I've never been much of a dab hand with the sewing machine (despite being surrounded by handy women in that department within my mum's family), so am not all that familiar with how satisfying it is to make something.

Did you say six? A couple of weeks ago, an idea sprung into my head (as they are wont to do) that I should review my jewellery, the majority of which I should immediately confess is costume (as in no visits to Tiffany or George Jensen were required to acquire it). I had a number of pendants sitting idle - not been worn for years. I had a number of glass beaded necklaces that likewise were not paying their rent in my wardrobe (a few of which had been donated to me by Julie, doing her own spot of spring cleaning and giving me some Mimco pieces she no longer wanted). So I got them all out and laid them on the large kitchen bench. Dan came swinging by -- "are you shopping?" he said, showing much greater astuteness than I confess I was expecting, and it took me a full 5 seconds to work out what his question was about (a rare moment - I told Dan to enjoy it, one like it may not come along for several years). So I pulled all the necklaces (and a couple of bracelets) apart and started laying out what some new necklaces might look like - if we put this with this, make that pendant a bead, put these turquoise ones with those chocolate ones, put this gold pendant with..... and la de da, that's how I did it (where the ideas actually come from, I don't really know - my hands are touching the beads and it kinda just...happens). I then let the finished designs sit on the bench, whilst I let the design process marinate overnight (being one to rush into action, I have learned the benefit of letting things sit for a while. Breathe, breathe breathe, keep letting it sit, then -- boom! go into action!). In the morning, I still loved the 6 designs I'd come up with, and took myself down to Spotlight to acquire needed beading equipment, such as tiger tail (the rope the beads hang on), crimping beads (slippery little suckers the size of a Barbie 5cent pieces), spacer beads (so all the big ones don't bump up against one another -- very ugly, big beads bumping, plus the necklace wont sit nicely) and the TOOLs. I got a pack of 5 tools for $11 which I was so thrilled about, it was way out of proportion to the actual purchase.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty....One of the pieces I redesigned, but Ava at Timbuktu strung & finished for me is pictured above - (arty photo, huh? taken at Mum and Dad's garden where their agave's are simply stunning). I loved the final product - a gorgeous piece I will flog to death. Here's the thing -- I need to confess to purchasing 5 beads for this piece. So, that is a small infraction of the challenge right there - I'm calling this 'strike one', a baseball term (watching A League of Their Own several times has certainly improved my baseball vocabulary) meaning that I have 2 more strikes and I am OUT. Seeing as its such a small strike, perhaps it's half a strike? This purchase (of those 5 beads) was one that I justified in the moment as being in service to a bigger ideal, which was the reworking of existing pieces. In the other 6 necklaces I re-created (and the 3 pairs of earrings to coordinate), apart from spacer beads, not one single additional bead was purchased to make them: the challenge was to create them all from existing items. Which I managed to do. Thus keeping within the challenge and creating for myself a range of "new" accessory items which has given me more options/ideas when shopping my closet and pulling outfits together. And I do feel good about that. Which has got to be a good thing. Right?