Nothing New (finally)

It has been a long while since I last updated, I know. I had been formulating how “poor me” was going to express my withdrawal. How I was going to relay my frustration and pain of wanting New Things. How every single day I ached to buy New Stuff. I’m ashamed to admit this; I pride myself in living simply and within my means and without care toward things. Yet. I was noticing how boring and mundane every day was and how I wanted to shop to entertain myself. I was noticing how I wanted Something New to get excited about. I was noticing how I was actually stretching a part of me that did not get a lot of exercise; a part of my heart that, although I hate to admit it, revels in Newness.  While I believe this true for the human spirit (in general), I was noticing dark recesses of myself.  Feeling actual discomfort over loss of…what? Shopping? Habit? New stuff?

While all of this was happening, I remember falling asleep on the couch, in front of the t.v. When I awoke, the Japan earthquake had JUST hit and there were only images of devastation and loss. In my fog I went up to my bed, anxiety ridden for a part of the world in upheaval. I was conscious of my simple walk upstairs while Japanese citizens were reeling in Something New. Sleep did not come easy. The next morning, I mourned with the world as I learned more about the earthquake and tsunami and their destruction. I listened to stories left open to loss, uncertainty, grief. I thought about those I know who live in Japan, those moving there, those I don’t know still sharing humanity with me.

While I have so much more I could say, it’s simple, no? In one fell swoop, my very real, but very small pain was diminished. I was re-calibrated by damage. I got over myself. Finally, Something New.

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Nothing New (in bathing suits)

We got a little snow here this weekend. Not without first getting an appetizer sized portion of spring, however. A reminder of the days marked by walks outside, short sleeved shirts without jackets, trickling streams of melting snow, ruddy faced children playing outside desperately soaking up fresh air, signs. of. life. Don’t get me wrong, I LOOOOOVE winter. Today, though, we are having a cozy lil’ storm adding (at least) a foot of snow to our already waist high piles, attempting to stifle a new romance awakening last week, of warm temperature love reviving cells in my being long since lost in hibernation: I wanted to swim.

It has been years since I have last bought a swimsuit (at least, one that is meant for moving practically in, you know, like walking). I bought a flippin’ Speedo brand years ago and that thing WON’T WEAR OUT. I hate it. I can buy a swim suit NEW, though. If you find yourself wondering why, then you are not a female. When we go suit shopping, we have highly lit, triple-posted reminders in each dressing room that, “we must leave on our “undergarments” when trying on swim wear”. It is a PERSONAL item, yo! I can prove it: removable sticky tape crotch protecter! Woot! In my search, I found one online and am excited to buy it. Just as excited as I am that my eight year old needs new underwear! and socks! I like what Nothing New is doing already.


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Nothing New (in Menards)

I grew up in a place that housed a handful of small, locally owned lumber yards and eventually, a Menards. I know this well because my dad is a builder, a general contractor. When I was quite young, he would walk happily in the house from a day of work and I would jump in his arms. He smelled like sweat and wood and, maybe way back when, cigarettes. I would take his pencil from his pocket and put it behind my ear to “be like dad”. As I got older, Saturday mornings sometimes meant hopping in his truck with him to visit a lumber yard. After we would scope out the wood piles and load up his truck, we would go back inside to have coffee and doughnuts with his building buds. They would talk easily and joke around and I felt honored to be known by them, to be associated with my dad. After our breakfast, we would hop back in his truck to visit the latest “house”, in whatever stage of building it was in. He would explain how it was going to look, show me the plans, and get to work. I don’t really remember much about what I did while he worked, expect the smells, the sounds. I remember his quiet voice as he murmured measurements and went to using the power tools, I remember his singing to the a.m stations bad music, I remember his “whistling while he worked”. I remember the smells of freshly cut wood and glues and the ever-so-faint smell of a newly screwed screw (there really is a smell!). The smells were….amazing.

You can imagine my dad’s delight when Menards finally came to town. It became the hub of the general contracting world. Soon, because of its greater appeal, my mom joined us on those Saturday mornings and found her own niche of goods at Menards. We visited often while I dreamed of how to redecorate our house and marveled at the rows and rows of sinks, faucets, bathrooms. I loved that place. As we all got older, the town began to bring in more chain hardware stores, while still maintaining most of the locally owned ones. The visits with my dad became sparse, as we got older too. Eventually, I got married (in one of those old, shut-down, local lumber yards!), had children, and moved out of that warmly connected town. Yet, I still find myself taking the route to Menards and remembering those sweet Saturday mornings.

What does this have to do with Nothing New? Well, earlier today I had a decision to make. A couple of months ago, our bathroom floor was found rotted out and needing to be replaced. In the weeks since our discovery, I have been on Craigslist looking for ceramic tiles for the flooring. Not finding appropriate prices and locations, I asked a friend whose floor was recently done, wondering if they had leftovers we could buy? Those were lost in the shuffle between owner and builder. As I was getting my haircut last week, my friend/stylist, mentioned the Restore Store in Bigger City. That was my ticket! They housed overstock or unwanted items from building projects and I KNEW I would find Nothing New in ceramic tiles. After we dropped off Mr. inBetween, baby and I drove away on the hunt for used tiles. As I was driving away, I kind of decided I might need to stop by Menards first. Listen, I didn’t mean to actually buy anything, but…I even told baby inBetween, “Nevermind, let’s just head up to the Restore Store.” I almost turned around on the frontage road. But I didn’t. I pulled into the Menards lot instead. We got inside, were greeted, and on to the tiles. I found exactly what I wanted, in the exact quantity I needed. I loaded my cart (boxes of tiles are HEAVY, yo!) and walked to the checkouts (not without admiring the shiny new kitchen faucets on the way).  I dug in my pocket for the REFUND RECEIPT leftover from a (long ago) return and paid for my tiles; all in all, I only had to actually pay  $0.43.  I took a big whiff on my way out the door: coffee and wood and New.

Sure, I feel a LITTLE guilty. Yet, I don’t count it a failure. I needed the tiles by tomorrow as my dad is coming early,early in the morning to stay over and work on our bathroom floor. When I was picking out the tile, a sign above read, “Take what you need, as this is what is in stock and we are not replacing it.” I weighed and filtered my rules and motivations and decided, a success for sure. It was meant to be. Now, I probably won’t fly into my dad’s arms when he arrives tomorrow, but if you’re looking for me you MIGHT find me hanging around him, listening and smelling.

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Nothing New (it’s february!)

I have nothing against Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I really have anything FOR it, either. If I were walking down the street and ran into Valentine’s Day, I would probably look him in the eye, smile, say “hello”, and continue walking. I might admire his ensemble, his style. I might smile at his aspirations, acknowledge his color coordination. I just don’t really CARE about Valentine’s Day. I’m a little bit thankful for his company, though. It’s about that time of year, when he shows up and gives us a reminder to love. By February 14, the proverbial “wall” of winter, we desperately NEED that reminder. It’s now that we can’t stand the pasty sight of each other with our static-y hair and crusty lips. It’s now that we have out sledded the sled, made enough snowman to win a war, watched every “amazing” documentary we’ve pretended to care about. His timing is impeccable, no? It’s about now we need his reminder we actually might even LIKE the people we’ve chosen to do life with, those we are in community with.  It’s about now we take a deep breath and tell our friends and family, “I love you….no really, I do.” It’s about now we EMBRACE Valentine’s Day and look forward with desperation to have SOMETHING new and celebratory. Of course, I’m kidding….no really, I am.

So. Nothing New on Valentine’s Day? Mostly, I was just going to skip over the whole thing. However, last night I was in the Holy Grail of artsy stuff: I was at Victoria’s house. Victoria is one of those amazing, spinning, right-brained people. Her eyes are always gleaming and you can actually SEE her head stewing with inspiration; her creativity is palpable and energizing. On my way out, I maybe, ever so quietly, mentioned that I wanted to make special valentine-type notes to hang in the bedroom doorways of little inBetweens for them to wake up to, but I had run out of supplies. Poor me! I didn’t even have tape to hang them! Victoria almost pulled my arm off in an effort to supply me with FREE. In her basement, she pulled out red tissue paper! pink tissue paper! LOVE stickers! ribbon! and two rolls of tape! I was enabled and excited to go home to sleeping children. I spent an hour constructing beautiful LOVE notes, 18 in all. It was not painstaking at all….no really, it wasn’t (did I mention I am not really “crafty”?  I confess I will never scrapbook. Let the weeping and gnashing of mom-teeth begin.) Anyway, I was excited to celebrate with them, free of Nothing New. I was even inspired to wake up and make those little heart-shaped pancakes with chocolate chips, before coffee! We had a great day focused on LOVE and simply Nothing New.

P.S. I confess a couple of setbacks since my last post: Last Tuesday, we DID buy daughter inBetween a pair of New warm-up pants 10 minutes before a team effort she was due for. All in the name of disorganization and time, I assure you. Also, out of sheer BOREDOM I had to fight the urge to buy myself a lil’ pick me up. I was simply bored and wanted to buy Something New – just a lil’ fix. I resisted. Had I been walking down the street in that weak moment and ran into Beautifully New, who knows what might have happened?

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Nothing New (rules)

Because a lot of people are asking, I thought it would be easier to share, finally, what I’m using in our Nothing New challenge.

The Filter for Purchases:
1. Can I borrow it instead?
2. Can I buy it second-hand?
3. Do I really need it?
4. Where will it go? (for simplicity sake)

1. First Aid and Safety
2. Hygiene and Beauty Products
3. Undergarments
4. Groceries
5. Business Expenses
6. Experiences (travel, museums, theater)

While these are my guidelines, I still want to find the best “deals” I can in my exceptions list.  Mostly, I want to be challenged how I consume from the inside out.

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Nothing New (chicago)

I was laughing this weekend, as I was spending time in Chicago reconnecting with so many familiar faces, swimming in my extroversion. I was laughing as I walked into the hotel and IMMEDIATELY ran into a on old friend, Anthony, whose family and mine were intertwined for four years. I was laughing over what I was going to bring back for “Little inBetweens” as a gift. I was laughing remembering this is a Year of Nothing New, realizing I may have to pull an “Anthony” and find some shower caps in our hotel bathroom to gift them. Free and Fun! We all win! But seriously. When I look back on the five days in Chicago, I did need to remind myself about Nothing New here and there.

Our first stop was our hotel, a quick chat with Anthony, and out the door to the Chicago Institute of Arts. We walked right by Millenium Park, took the obligatory pictures at the Bean, and considered ice skating.  Instead, we got out of the snow and spent the afternoon feeding our senses for FREE (AIC – it’s free weekdays in the winter)! It was here I had to first remind myself of our Year. Usually, I feel like perusing the gift shops of museums. As I walked from the traditional art toward the contemporary through the hallway-made-gift-shop (what’s THAT about?), I noticed my lust-filled gaze toward some pottery (it was so pretty! I was just looking!). Ashamed, I scolded myself and remembered my commitments, my vows, my integrity, before I moved on to walls of Picassos.

One of the perks of this weekend was the free stuff given us. This event is made for connecting and refreshing, and the coordinators shower “free” on you: free books, free bags, free food, free cards to eat at Johnny Jims, free public transportation day passes, etc…I realize this is all a part of the cost, but I had to sort through our “rules” in my head. In a Year of Nothing New, I don’t want stuff just because it is free. I’m buying Nothing New partly so there is not a never-ending cycle of consumption. Usually, when I get to a hotel, I take whatever sample sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, lotion, soap, etc, made available and stick it in my bags so it will be replaced while the room is cleaned (FYI we actually USE these items for camp, but still!) and I repeat this UNTIL WE LEAVE. Again I found myself ashamed as I thought of stashing my bag with the “forbidden”. Again I had to remind myself of Nothing New.

When we were walking from the El to our hotel, one of Mr. inBetween’s suitcase wheel’s fell off. Annoying, but workable. A few minutes later, I turned around to see him struggling as he pulled it over a sidewalk bump and watched his handle break off – for those of you who know him, I’m sure you are laughing as hard as I am typing this. Want to know what is even more hilarious? We were standing, I’m NOT kidding, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A LUGGAGE STORE! I stood there, laughing hysterically with my pretty little suitcase, while he sighed and grunted dramatically. This time I became the temptress saying, “Maybe you just need to buy a new suitcase, it’s only $50, LOOK!” I meant it, he paused. Ashamed, we continued walking to the hotel.

As the five days were ending, I was feeling revived about the connections made, the conversations had, and I found myself debriefing in thought over it’s entirety. I had steered myself away from New and Frivolously Free, instead enjoying amazing food (a girls gotta eat) and dynamic people. I was thinking this over while walking into the hotel on our last night when Mr. inBetween said, “What should we buy our kids to take back?” I just looked at him. Ashamed he responded to himself, “Oh yeah.” Those sample bottles were looking mighty luscious, after all.

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On Success *an update*

To be fair, I thought I would give airtime to baby inBetween.  Not in the name of fairness, because who cares? rather it was just so apropos. When I went to pick him up from preschool, the teacher pulled me aside with accolades toward him.  “I want you to know that we had a new kid in class today (Will) and Hayden befriended him.  From the moment he walked in until the end of the day, Hayden played with Will. He made sure Will was feeling invited. It was just so sweet.” Success number…what? 6?

I don’t say this to brag and pretend my family is so amazing. Nope. I am not trying to paint a picture of perfection. No way! Neither am I one of those parents that thinks only their child does amazing things.  Ha. I am living in the middle of winter.  Not the beginning, oh-look-how-amazing!-the-snow-is-falling-oh-how-cozy-let’s-go-out-and-build-forts-and-snowmen-all-day winter. No. No.  I am living in the way-too-cold-to-go-outside-when-will-it-ever-go-away-snow-I’ve-been-in-this-house-with-you-all-weekend winter. I’m simply noticing beautiful things, just in time.

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