I can’t believe it’s April already – a quarter of 2013 is already over!  I realized that I’ve been working on finding my lagom for three months now, and while I still feel like I have a really long way to go on that process, my life is starting to look and feel a little less cluttered and overwhelming than when I started.

Some of the changes I’ve made and things I’ve let go of have been absolutely great – I’m proud of those changes and have no intention of sliding back to my old ways.  Other stuff, I am still really struggling with.  So here is a quarterly recap of the stuff that doesn’t suck about finding my lagom, and what really does.

The Stuff that Doesn’t Suck:

  1. I have been repeatedly reminded that I have incredible friends.  Sometimes it has been through a kind deed one of them has done while I’ve been fighting my shopaholic tendencies (like this friend and this friend and this friend).  Or, while in the process of letting go of something, I was forced to take stock of what REALLY made me happy (like here), and it always comes down to my relationships over my stuff.  It’s good to be reminded of that.
  2. In an attempt to use up the candy I’ve already got, I’m discovering all sorts of new cookies!  This may seem like a small thing to someone else, but to me, it’s huge.  Prior to this, I wouldn’t have thought to make cookies or brownies filled with candy bars, but now?  It’s my go-to idea.
  3. I have not had any post-shopping guilt for three months now.  Again, maybe this is something others have never experienced, but I used to go through it at least once every two weeks, sometimes more often.  It is a relief not to have a bunch of carrier bags with items with the tags still on lurking around my room, daring me to keep or return them – because either choice comes with its own set of stigma.
  4. My credit card balance actually went down this month.  Because the interest is so high, it was pretty much two steps forward one step back, but at least it wasn’t three or four steps back like it has been.  I opened my credit card statement and there was ONE charge on there, for when I got my hair cut out of absolute necessity.  I cannot remember the last time I opened my statement and had only a single charge on it – maybe when I first got a credit card?  It’s been a looooong time.  It was pretty exhilarating.  I am finding myself fantasizing about paying off my credit card with a comparable focus and energy  that I usually only reserve for shopping.  It’s weird.
  5. The areas where I’ve done decluttering have stayed decluttered, and those things feel great.  My glove compartment is still pristinely organized.  My nail polish collection still looks exactly as it did in the “after” picture.  My guest room closet is still guest ready (I am storing my most frequently used carry on suitcase and overnight bag in it, but that would be a snap to remove if I had guests).  I LOVE how organized I’ve kept things under the kitchen sink, and YES, it has made me clean more often because it’s so well organized and the cleaning caddy makes hauling stuff around so easy.  If I’m really being honest, my purse has not fared as well.  But I’m working on it, and it’s not as bad as it was.
  6. I rediscovered my love of libraries, and read three new books last month – because I had to read them in time to turn them back in.  Usually I buy books, and they sit unread for months, even years, because I know they aren’t going anywhere.  Having a deadline helped, and forced me sit down and read – and the books made it worth it by being awesome.
  7. Ron and I are talking more openly and honestly about our finances and spending than we ever have.  I’ve not always been able to admit to him how much my credit card balance is, and I’ve often been unable to face our joint debt amount at all.  Uncomfortable?  Absolutely.  But once I’ve said the numbers out loud a few times, the hit is off it and I feel I can stop cringing and start moving towards fixing it.

The Stuff that Sucks:

  1. God, I miss shopping.  My Want Monster is by no means silenced, just sullen, restrained, and depressed at the moment.  And sometimes I worry that cutting myself off so abruptly will make me go on a crazy spree at some point.  Just this weekend, I was doing a show at a theatre in a neighborhood that has tons of cute boutique shops, and I went for a walk during the dinner break because it was a nice evening.  I had a conscious moment of gratitude that it was 6:30 and all the shops I wanted to go in were closed, so I couldn’t do any damage.  But that didn’t stop me from standing in front of the windows and peering into the stores and feeling desperate with want, and thinking about coming back when those stores would be open.  It was unpleasant and feverish and I am having to resist getting in my car today to pay those stores a visit.  Because I really, REALLY want to.
  2. I still can’t fit all the clothes and purses I moved out of the guest room closet into my bedroom closet.  They are still in big suitcases cluttering up my bedroom.  And I’m so overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning my closet, I can’t even face it.  I feel such of mix of stress and emotions around the idea of getting rid any clothes at the moment, because I know I can’t afford to buy new ones.  How is that for crazy logic?  I have more clothes than I can fit in my closet, but I don’t want to get rid of any because I can’t afford to BUY MORE.  Yes, I have a problem.  I am well aware.
  3. Because we are eating meals at home more, I am CONSTANTLY doing the dishes.  I didn’t realize just how much we were eating out until we buckled down and starting using up what we have in the freezers and the cupboards, and now I feel like I all I do anymore is clean the stupid kitchen.  And then I remember that my mom stayed home and raised kids while my dad worked, and she cooked and cleaned like that for YEARS, and had to listen to us complain about stuff we didn’t like while she did it.  Sorry Mom – we were assholes.  I apologize.
  4. I’m BORED with all the makeup/hair product stuff I’m working through.  Yes, I am still going to work through it.  But I’ve got the makeup/hair product DT’s right now.  I can look at a cabinet full of stuff, know I don’t need any more – know I can’t AFFORD any more, and still want to go buy more.  I’m guessing this is because I don’t love the stuff I have enough, and that would bound to be true for much of the new stuff I would buy as well.  But it is the HOPE of finding the perfect thing that keeps me questing, I think.  And I’ve always found that quest exciting.  And I miss it.
  5. I feel embarrassed and depressed by some of the things I’ve had to do to make ends meet lately.  The other day, Ron and I wanted to see a movie.  But we are so focused on reducing our debt, we knew that wasn’t a smart choice.  So we took all the cans and bottles back, and also took a bunch of coins in to the coin machine.  We made enough money to afford to buy movie tickets, but in the end we decided to stay home and watch a movie On Demand for $2.99, since there was one on there we wanted to see, and it seemed a little dumb to spend $20 when we didn’t have to.  I know, in the big scheme of things, we are not suffering like millions of people suffer every day – we have food and shelter and medical care and are very, very lucky, and our economic situation is the result of our own poor choices and extravagances in terms of how we’ve spent our money.  There are changes I’m making right now that are absolutely the norm for many other people, who would probably feel like slapping me if they heard me complain.  I get it.  All I’m saying is it has been an adjustment for me,  and coming to terms with my bad behavior is shameful and hard, and I struggle with it.
  6. I’m moving into harder decisions now – I’ve been making a lot of small easy decisions as I’ve worked into this process, but a lot of the easy stuff is done, and now I’m having to face stuff I don’t want to face.  As the saying goes, “The top of one mountain is the bottom of the next,” and I am looking up the next mountain right now and thinking, “Can’t I just rest here for a while?”
  7. I continually get overwhelmed when I think about how long I have to go – in terms of my debt, in terms of my organization/decluttering, in terms of my habits.  I pat myself on the back for the small victories, but let’s face it, they are pretty small in the big picture.  And that makes me feel ridiculous and hopelessly stuck sometimes.  Yes, I know you do need to celebrate the small stuff – if it were anyone else’s situation I could tell them to celebrate small stuff and I’d totally mean it.  But it’s much harder when you’re trying to feel good about your own situation.

It will be interesting to see where I am at in another three months, for a half yearly check in.  Will these two lists look pretty much the same?  I’m curious to find out….

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The money we made returning cans/bottles/coins, but felt too guilty to spend on fun when we have so many bills. It’s still unspent.

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