Mindfulness (or how KonMari turned me into a discerning shopper* and I stopped eating chocolate)
Since I climbed aboard the KonMari train, my house is definitely starting to show the effects. There’s still crap everywhere, but it’s more orderly crap (and mostly belongs to other people. The stuff that’s mine is totally not crap, ok. It’s my hobbies.) Stuff goes back where it’s come from, and the areas I have sorted out seem to have stayed sorted. It’s been about six months since I watched a couple of vids on the YouTube and about ten weeks since I read the books and started to take the whole business a bit more seriously. I am a lot more aware of what I own and I strongly suspect I’m more aware of *why* I own it.
Being mindful is basically all about being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to your thoughts on a moment by moment basis. Picking up everything I own, looking at it and considering its place in my life is being mindful. BUT (and this is a bit strange) I’ve noticed some peculiar side effects creeping into my life.
For example, the family grocery bill was always around $300-350 a week. Sometimes a little more, and rarely a little less. There’s four of us, one teenager, one ten year old and a couple of alleged grown ups. On top of that $300+, we’d either eat out or get take away once or twice a fortnight. That’s a LOT of money on food. However, in the last ten weeks or so, I’ve spent an average of $260 a week on groceries, and we’re eating out/getting take away less (probably once every two-three weeks instead of once every 1-2 weeks). That is a minimum of $400 we haven’t spent in the last ten weeks.
Now, my ‘meal planning’ (such as it is) continues to be as half arsed as it ever was. It’s still a vague list of protein and suggested cooking methods that’s subject to change without notice. I still buy crap I don’t need (why do they sell stationery at the supermarket, hrrm?) and I don’t think I’m throwing out any less than I did before (I’m perpetually chucking 1/4 of a container of cream, a handful of spinach leaves and half a manky tomato). Groceries have certainly not gone down in price in the last two and a bit months, so I really don’t know how the fuck I am managing to not spend $40 a week minimum.
It appears I’m just buying less stuff. My shopping list is shorter – it used to cover the entire page, and now – maybe half. I still go off piste and buy the odd thing or two that’s not on the list (Stabilo pens and cool boxes to keep stationery in. I am not obsessed), I think I am just more aware of what we have in the cupboard, the likelihood of using it all up between this week and next, and only putting stuff on the list when the answer to that question is yes, it will get used up. I’ve also stopped buying shit because that’s what I always buy (hello, looking at you seven bottles of mouthwash) and sticking to the list. Weird.
This shopping discernment is also applying to buying other stuff as well. I took Chaos and Mayhem clothes shopping after a quicky KM of their respective wardrobes (I have to say, even if you don’t go any further than sorting out your (and your family’s) clothes, it’s so worth it – I culled stuff the kids had grown out of really quickly, went through the biggest one’s discard pile with the little one, he’s picked out what he likes, and the rest have gone to the oppy. In the space of an hour. Do your clothes, do the kids clothes, even do the significant other’s clothes. It’s worth it. Future You will thank you so much.)
Anyway, digressing as always – Chaos needed clothes, Mayhem was well stocked up. In the past, shopping for Chaos would involve me buying stuff, bringing it home, Chaos would vary from yay to meh about the purchases, but they’d all end up in his wardrobe with the items classified meh to be ignored for all eternity or he grew out of it. Or I’d take them both shopping and feel the parental urge to be Fair and buy them exactly the same number of things. This time, we had a list and we stuck to it. Chaos needed two pairs of chinos, a pair of trackies and a couple of t-shirts to replace the 10 or so he culled the other day. He also needed a dress shirt big enough to wear a t-shirt under. We came home with one pair of pants, one pair of trackies and three t-shirts because that’s what we found that he liked. And Mayhem came home with no clothes because that kid has enough clothing to last him ’til the end of the year.
Chaos looked at things. He tried things on. He discarded things he didn’t like. He discerned. And I am trying to do the same thing – while I’m on leave I’m wearing stuff I’m not sure about, and determining whether they’re going to stay or go. So far, two shirts are staying and two are going. I’m going to have nothing left the rate I’m heading!
The chocolate thing is even more weird. And mindful. It started when I was standing over the charity chocolates at work, internally debating the relative merits of a plain Freddo or a double strawberry one or both. I decided on both, but at the same time, realised that I didn’t particularly like the charity chocolates because maybe a bit stale, a bit room temperature and squishy and generally not very nice. I took the chocolates back to my desk and returned to the task at hand while I ate the unappealing chocolate and set my mind to the question:
“If I don’t actually enjoy this, why on earth am I doing it?”
I am stuffing my face with slightly squishy and not very nice chocolate because I want a break from my desk. Because the chocolate is in another part of the office, I have to get up and walk there. So, instead of chocolate, I have been having a cup of “pretend” tea (fruit flavoured tissane – best described as hot cordial – while I like the idea of tea, the reality is somewhat lacking in appeal). The really weird part of the not eating chocolate thing is that it extended to not eating it at home either (no, I wasn’t eating $40 a week of chocolate, that’s not why the grocery bill has declined), and I simultaneously stopped stuffing my face with half a block of fruit and nut every second night. A few days turned into a few weeks which turned into Easter’s around the corner, I’m not going to eat chocolate til Easter. Easter’s been and gone – and while I have in fact eaten chocolate, I’ve probably had 2-3 little eggies each day. When I think back to last year (and every year preceding), and the chocolate stuffing fiesta that took place… well. I think I’ve broken the habit.
I’ve also lost four kilograms. I think that is certainly related.
*Except, well, stationery supplies. I’m still buying stationery supplies. But they have less calories than chocolate and my kids can’t grow out of them.