After an incredible and inspiring trip to Palm Springs with friends and colleagues, I had a surprising realization upon my return. I had brought nothing home with me. I thought I might be flagged at customs and have my bag searched! How could someone like me (a woman of a certain age, who clearly enjoys clothes) come back from 4 days away and claim nothing! The me from 10 years ago would have spent half the trip visiting stores we didn't have back home and looking for the perfect item(s) to remember the trip by. Who have I become??
It felt like I had finally overcome a real hurdle in my efforts to live small and with fewer things. In the past, the best way I knew how to care for myself was to shop. If I was sad, or stressed, or down, or celebrating... the best way I knew to do this was to buy something for myself. Over the past few years in our effort to stay in our small space I have been re-learning how to care for myself without always shopping. In day to day life it has meant getting a good coffee, taking a workout class (currently The Dailey Method), a glass of wine with a friend, or a magazine and time to read it. But I assumed that if I went away for a trip completely focused on me, I would buy buy buy.
This trip was all about self-care and ultimately being selfish. I was without kids or husband and the focus was only on me for the first time in a very long time. And I found in this freedom that I wanted to have experiences over things! Some of the highlights were; a bike tour of houses with beautiful doors, a hike up a dessert mountain, wandering beautiful hotels, taking photos of mid-century modern houses with cactus gardens, and wine with friends. All these things filled me up and I didn't need to buy something.
Now I am not saying I will never bring something home from a trip again but I am saying that the practice of not shopping in daily life seems to have spilled over into travel. It's like I have been doing the same exercises for years and all of a sudden just noticed the results! I can't walk into a store without the following questions running through my mind...
Do I really need this?
Could I wait to purchase it?
Is there something I currently own that could achieve the same purpose?
Can I name 4 outfits involving this piece?
Following the One in One out rule... so what is leaving if I am buying this piece?
Can I get this second-hand or borrowed?
I also considered bringing home gifts for the kids but decided against setting that precedent. Instead I took them out for a treat in the morning to celebrate being back together. I share this because this didn't happen overnight and has taken years of trying and missteps but I am pretty happy that the process of living small with kids has led me to truly value experiences over things even when left on my own.