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?