External Reflections of an Internal Joy (My Thoughts on Meaningful Consumerism)

"Stuff-ed"

Tiffani and I were sitting on the edge of my bed when I had the epiphany (I’m calling it “The Epiphany with Tiffani”.)

We were looking through my closet trying to find the perfect thing to wear during the dready photoshoot when she said something extremely obvious along the lines of “Pick something that reflects you and that you feel really good in” and I realized how much I felt “comfortable” in or “okay” in, but nothing to fit her description.

I started talking about how much of my clothing I don’t actually *love* or that doesn’t fit me well and how much I dislike to shop because I can never find what I want and love, when it hit me that I had my closet and my head so full of what I didn’t want that I had no space in either for what I did!

I know the value of creating space in my life (physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally) for the things I’m ready for. But I hadn’t applied it to the simplest of things. (Duh.)

I then proceeded to yank things off hangars and throw them on the floor, where they stayed for several days (Justin loved me for it. 😉 ) instigating me to finish the task.

And I did. I purged over 80% of my closet over the next week.

Then within 4 days I had found a handful of new things that I love and can’t wait to wear each day!

I created space and Life rushed in to fill it with the things I was ready for.

These things reflect me and highlight my favorite parts of me and make me feel radiant and comfortable at the same time. Yum. 🙂

Then last week I got a new iPhone.

I had milked my last phone until the last possible day, when it went haywire and started calling China like a curious 3 year old.

And I love my new iPhone! It’s fun and easy to use and syncs with my everything and has Siri which makes me feel like Tony Stark telling my robot what to do for me (or asking it the meaning of life – seriously, try it. Several times.)

It makes my life easier and I feel high-tech and hip and fun. I’m playing with Instagram and Hanging with Friends and getting automatic updates to my calendar.

But All This Triggered Me Too

I’m writing all this because it has me reflecting on consumption and my reasons for it.

We gave away nearly everything we owned when we hit the road and I’m suddenly finding value in “stuff”?

On top of that is my strong resonance with sustainability and eco-conscious living.

We live in a pretty consumable world and we (as a culture) love to consume.

And I’ll admit it. I loved the “high” of finding my new purple, off-the-shoulder top and tapping away on my new iPhone.

It feels good, especially to someone like me who hasn’t done a lot of shopping or consuming outside of thrift stores and farmers markets, based on the principle of it.

And so I can understand why it can feel so easy to fill a void with the superficial, the “stuff” in life.

Because it’s not the “stuff” we’re after – it’s the feeling it might offer us that we’re hungry for.

Maybe it’s a sense of newness, a clean state, a change that doesn’t actually scare us.

Maybe it’s the idea of deserving, of self-worth, of “I earned this”.

Maybe it’s the connection we experience when we fit in with our crowd, know what they are talking about and can share our experience of the same.

Maybe it’s the beauty and the inspiration from filling our homes or our closets with the things that make us smile, feel comfortable and radiant or offer us less stress or more time.

It’s easy to mistake what we’re really after with the means to get it.

It’s easier to get caught up in the “retail therapy” to make us feel good again than it is to actually DIG IN to those uncomfortable feelings that keep us from feeling good all the time and address them once and for all.

It’s also easy to demonize the “stuff”, to point fingers at consumers, to make ourselves or our kids go without for fear of creating waste or feeling (or fearing we look) shallow or conventional.

One way or another, it’s easier to get caught up in the surface, the superficial, than it is to look beneath the surface of our experiences to the real human experience happening within each one of us.

I’m finding it more and more true that the real solution is to notice when the “stuff” is suddenly a tragic attempt to access that joy we all so desperately need to experience, or whether it’s an external reflection of an internal joy we’ve already found.

As I reflect on all this – on my own consumption, my own guilt and concern in contrast to the positive feelings I’m experiencing as a part of this new “stuff” – I am noticing that the happier and more grounded I feel internally, the more I want my external environment to reflect that.

I want to paint my walls and wear rich and vibrant colors and take gorgeous photos faster and organize my life better to reflect what I know as Truth – that the world is beautiful, colorful, inspirational and enjoyable and I want to get back to the act of living it to its fullest potential.

When I keep my focus on the external being a mere reflection of the internal I find my consumer choices are more conscious and simple and eco-friendly, anyway. I choose things that will last, I care for them better and I make sure they are just right for me so that I have no regrets. Because that’s my internal experience as well – full of love, care, mindfulness and value.

If I had to summarize all these reflections I think my point would be this:

Love what you do. Love Who You Are. Let go of the fear and move into Truth. Live your life from the inside out. Find value in yourself and your life, and reflect that in all you do. Reflect outside yourself the Truth you experience in your heart. Allow every choice to count. And INSPIRE the world to something greater, starting with you.