Sewing Meditations, Week 1: More vs. Less

Well, folks, it’s that time of year again – Lent, the 40 days of voluntary fasting and observance in preparation for Easter. It is a time intended to help us reexamine our lives, helping us adjust priorities that may have gotten out of whack or curb addictive or other harmful behaviors. Last year I gave up fabric shopping for Lent – an interesting challenge that yielded some very beneficial results. This year, I’m giving up peanut butter. Needless to say, I don’t think it’ll be necessary to blog about this one :P.

However, one thing I did want to do this year in addition to giving something up is to have a weekly blog series on observance and mindfulness as it relates to sewing and our creative lives – a sort of sewing meditation, if you will. As I mentioned last year, Lent isn’t just about giving something up – it’s about reflective living and conscious choices. It’s about examining our priorities and taking a good, hard look at our hearts and lives to see where we might need to “clean house.” So, whether or not you observe Lent – or any religious tradition for that matter – I hope you’ll join me in this journey!

So for this first week of Lent, I wanted to share a few thoughts about the idea of “more vs. less.” We live in an age of constant advertising, which tries nonstop to convince us how we need more, more, MORE of everything. Every day, my email inbox is stuffed with ads from seemingly every place I’ve ever shopped – clothing stores, cooking supplies, home making, and so, so much more. And, of course, my heart does a little leap every time one of those emails combines the words “fabric” and “sale.” I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I’m literally programmed to look for the best deals and immediately pounce on them, since they only last for the next 24 hours! Or 12! Or 6! Seriously, how can I pass up that opportunity for free shipping?!

It sounds kind of funny when you put it like that, but it’s so true – we’re programmed to see the need for MORE, and as a result our barometer for ENOUGH is nearly nonexistent. Recently, I started reading a fascinating book called “Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful,” which is about mindful eating as is relates to diet and portion control. However, the book is about so much more than losing weight – it’s about training yourself to make mindful choices about food. The author encourages you to think about things like, “why do I feel like eating? Am I actually hungry – do I need food – or am I trying to fill an unmet emotional need?”

I’ve found I’m tempted to fabric shop in a similar way – feeling like I need to when, in fact, I simply don’t. Now, I’m not saying fabric shopping is a bad thing – not even close!! My only point here is simply that we have been carefully trained to shop without thinking (I mean, just think about all the inane pop music that plays in most clothing stores – they’re literally trying to turn off your brain! Either that or I’m a music snob…:P). Now, maybe you are already very mindful about how you procure your sewing resources – a lot of you already are! – but I know I’m not, and that it’s something I need to work on.

So, if I had to provide a conclusion from those thoughts, I would say that one new goal of mine will be to cultivate a higher sensitivity to my “wants” – when is it ok to indulge that shopping desire, and when should I abstain? As a result, I have a feeling that contentment – that illusive, highly-sought-after ideal – will follow as a natural outcome.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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4 thoughts on “Sewing Meditations, Week 1: More vs. Less

  1. I’ve never done Lent myself, since my church is Protestant, but I’ve had friends who have done it. (Honestly, a big part of it is because those friends usually give up chocolate, my birthday always falls during that time frame, and I selfishly don’t want to give up my favorite flavor of cake every year!) I like your thought about using it to re-evaluate your choices and mindset, rather than just giving something up, though. For myself, I’ve purposely been trying to avoid fabric shopping for the most part, since I feel like I already have so much of it and should just focus on using what I have, working towards decreasing the space it’s taking up, and saving our money for more necessary things right now. At the same time, I’ve realized that I’m not really a minimalist at all when it comes to certain things. I’ll probably never stop buying books, even though I have so many on the shelf/Kindle that I haven’t read yet, I’ll never use up all of my craft supplies, and the minimal wardrobe I’m currently forced to live with because most of my clothes were not maternity-friendly is driving me crazy! So I guess for me, it’s finding the balance.

    Also, I wouldn’t say you’re a music snob. You just probably have better taste than most of the people out there–I also find most pop music to be musically/lyrically bland. (I’ll also admit that I automatically have far more respect for artists who can actually play instruments and write their own songs, which is probably why my taste has always run more towards the rock/indie end of things.)

  2. I am sure that many of us have done the binge shopping thing! I usually try to limit myself to once a year, most often when I am visiting one of my sisters because it is fun to shop and discuss what we see together and also because going to a new city gives me new stock to look at. Otherwise I never look at fabric shops, on line or otherwise unless I have something in mind and have checked my stash first. Good topic and Good luck with Lent!

  3. My dad’s favorite question over the past year it so has been: Do you need it or do you want it? (sigh) Well, when it comes to fabric, I’d say my answer has been “want” rather than “need.” I have a stash and I should really shop there!

    I know exactly what you mean when you see something about a fabric sale – really hard to resist! I have attempted to be more mindful – like I have to have something in mind before I buy a fabric. I used to just buy something because I liked it. I don’t do that anymore.

  4. Great post. This year I have been endeavoring to be mindful about my purchases of everything; food, household goods, family clothing. I ask “do I/we really need this?”. If yes, can I source the item locally made/from an op-shop/recycle from somewhere. I know it is only February but so far I haven’t brought more unnecessary “stuff” into the house and have also managed to de-clutter a little by asking the same question.

    When it comes to fabric, well I have an enormous stash so have put a ban on buying anything for the foreseeable future! I have even got inventive with what I use for linings as that was my downfall, I would go to the shops for lining and come home with four pieces of pretty fabric!

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