Why I prefer buying used

I always chuckle when I see an article on these daring experiments people will do to not buy anything new for a month. Or other forays into thriftiness. Oh, I’m not criticizing, I think it’s great and I wish more people would challenge their consumer spending habits.

But for me, thrift and shopping secondhand are, well, second nature. Raising our family on one income made this imperative. And trust me, some days it wasn’t fun trying to figure out how to clothe and furnish a home on a shoe string. But for the most part, it was an enjoyable adventure.

And it was all part of my training to become a Craigslist Ninja.

Today, my reasons for garage saleing or thrifting are different. 27 years into marriage, there’s nothing I need household wise. The kids are young adults who tend to their own expenses. And of course, I am a minimalist.

So why do I persist in my tightwad ways?

  • It’s fun. I enjoy the sense of community found in a fun garage sale. I get to meet neighbors and hear a little of their stories.I find treasures.
  • Today, I snagged a telephone cord purse for a buck. They sell on eBay for any where between $70 -120. Need I say more?
  • When I am looking for something – like sheets for our camper – a little patience saves me big time. I found a brand new set of sheets – $3. That’s even less than a Kohls or Ross clearance sale. Bonus – no sales tax!
  • It keeps stuff out of the landfill. Why buy new when I can find a perfectly usable older one? A can of paint works wonders for needed facelifts.
  • It puts money directly into the hands of the person selling. I especially like this. I feel like it’s a win-win. They’re decluttering their house and getting paid for it! I find a needed item for a fraction of retail.
  • I love supporting worthy causes. Here where I live, my favorite thrift store benefits battered women. And it’s all LOCAL. (Unlike some of the larger national thrift stores that follow business models I find objectionable.)

While I suspect I’ll always subscribe to the Less-is-More way of life, secondhand shopping is the way to go when I do need something.

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This is even worse than stress

Financial worries, the kid’s sick, and…is that a pink slip coming your way from Human Resources?

These are stresses all too common.  But according to the book I am listening to (once again!), there is something even worse than stress or stressful environments.

Dr. Gabor Mate, MD and author of When the Body Says No, says learned helplessness is even more detrimental than the external stress.

What’s that?  That’s what happens when a child or a person under extreme stress has no way of escape.  Or perceives things as such.

When this happens to a child, internalizing stress becomes a way of life.  And as they enter adulthood, they’re not even aware of it.  It’s just how it is.

Until an autoimmune disease or other chronic health issue knocks at their door.

I was thinking about this stuff as it applies to my own life.  Growing up in a tumultuous, alcoholic home I could see firsthand what Dr. Gabor writes about and it helped me identify some of the triggers that can send me into a downward spiral.

Example – The bills are piling up.  There’s a medical bill that must be paid out of pocket.  The car is making an odd noise and oh shit, we’re out of milk again.

The positive Theresa will respond – Bills are a way of life.  Our track record so far is 100% for getting through tight financial times.  What can I throw on Craigslist to cover that surprise expense?

The learned helplessness script goes a little differently –  “Here we go again.  Why can’t we get a break?  I get so sick of this.”  Sound familiar?

Same situation – two different takes on it.  With two very different mental outcomes.

We create so much difficulty by how we frame things.  This is powerful stuff.

BTW – I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Mate’s book.

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Positive affirmations are bullshit

Stempel BullshitMy first exposure to positive affirmation was in evangelical Christianity where we were taught to use Bible verses as the cure-all for any affliction. Poverty – gone! In GeeeeeeSUS name! Sickness – By his stripes you are HEALED! I had the Scripture references down pat.

But of course, the bills kept coming. Maybe even the house went into foreclosure. The child still died.

The next stage was grappling with the apparent inconsistency with what we were taught (ie, expectations) and reality. That’s where the blabber kicked in: “In God’s economy I am rich!” or “He is REALLY healed now that he is in God’s presence.”

These disparities caused unrest. But there was the unspoken code in religious circles that you not voice those concerns.

In more secular circles, positive affirmation gurus teach a “believe and receive” plan not unlike you’d find in a religious setting.

It’s all a “You-do-this-and-this-will-happen.” Ie, if you think positively, you can achieve anything. Quote this Bible verse and it will fix your problem. (And if it isn’t fixed, it’s because your faith was insufficient. Or you didn’t quote the verse right. Or, blah, blah, blah.)


This whole affirmation stuff – with or without Bible verses – is, in my humble opinion, fear masquerading as confidence control.

Furthermore, it keeps us distracted from being real with ourselves and with each other. Instead of, “God’s going to heal him!” we could have real conversations, “I am really scared my kid is going to die and this sucks.”

The conflict this sets up inside of a person is legion. When one experiences depression, they quote away their favorite denial affirmation instead of asking, “Why am I feeling depressed?”

I remember one person saying “I feel a healing coming on!” I remember thinking BULLSHIT at the time. It was early in my days of religion so I had more freedom to recognize it for what it was.

Positive affirmation is bullshit.

Now that I got that off my chest.

I endeavor to live in acceptance. To live authentically. To quit trying to be such a freakin’ control freak. To see beauty in ugliness. And love in the unlovely.

I endeavor to live in the moment and not eat too much sugar. To physically work out everyday and work through my anger issues in a healthy way – not deny them.

Come to find out, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for my next self-improvement project.

And I experience a lot more peace, too.

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Leaving the circus

AsIuncluttermylifeI love it when synchronicity happens.  You know – you keep hearing the same message from different sources and approaches.  This wonderful meme to the left showed up on a FB friend’s wall and reminded me of the benefits of leaving the circus.

Circus you say?  Yup.  That emotional circus that some people seem to bring where ever they go.

Have you heard the saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”?  I’m not sure of the attribution but I read that it might be a Polish saying.

I love the colorfulness of this word picture.  I can see the big top, the glitter and performing monkeys bedecked in sparkling tutus.

The fun ends when I realize I have become one of those monkeys.  I bet you’ve been a monkey a time or two.  Well, minus the tutu, that is.

When you enter someone’s crazy making circus world, it’s easy to fall into becoming part of their act.  Especially if you have co-dependent, people-pleasing leanings like I do.

Having a mentally ill family member makes this a challenge I face regularly. An act of kindness can be interpreted as “Oh!  You want to do EVERYTHING for me!”  And cue to the Barnum and Baily theme song.  The demands begin – complete with a mental tutu.

But it just isn’t dealing with mentally ill people.  Sometimes it’s a soul-sucking co-worker who daily tells you tales from her soap opera life.  Or a friend that keeps repeating the same disastrous mistakes over and over again and refuses to change.

Look, I have enough challenges controlling the circus in my own head, much less becoming a participant in someone’s circus.

Having clear boundaries and enforcing them is the only way to leave this circus.  And I’ve found it’s never a one-time deal.  The invitation is on-going with some folks.  (Especially if you’re related to them!)

The good news is that as I get to a healthier place (because I’m not exhausted playing circus games), it makes it easier to spot when I’ve become a monkey and I’m able to respond quicker and with kindness instead of anger and offense.

PS If you’re recovering from TMS/MBS, I can almost guarantee you’ve got some relationships needing a circus-free zone.

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I didn’t know this was in here!

Closet expeditions are always exciting in my work as an organizer. Boxes that have been untouched for years, stacked in the back of a closet, make for an interesting time.

One thing I’ve heard over and over – “I didn’t know this was in here!”

Sometimes those items can evoke powerful emotions and it’s my job to gently encourage the client that it might not be in their best interests to hang on to it – like an artifact from a bad marriage or a photo that clearly stirs up pain in the client.

It makes me think about how we pack away negative emotions like offense or anger. (And by the way – if recalling an incident from 20 years ago still causes an increase in your pulse and a flush to your cheeks – you likely have something tucked away in the back of your emotional closet.)

And this is why I’m such a huge proponent of journaling. Journaling is the mental/spiritual equivalent of cleaning out a closet.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, contends it takes three pages to get down to the nitty gritty. Cultural and religious training have made us pros at denying how we REALLY feel about a matter so it takes a few pages of scribbling often for the honesty to get past the gatekeepers.

It’s the third page when you realize, “I didn’t know this was in here!”

And that’s where the healing can begin.

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Don’t follow your passion

I have this awesome Zumba instructor who imparts wisdom and inspiration with every class. I also gain shocking realizations of body parts that actually have movement but that’s another topic.

But first, if you’re unfamiliar with Zumba – it’s a Latin style aerobic workout that would make your mother blush. Unless your mother’s a pole dancer, in which case, she’ll yawn.

Lots of booty shaking and come hither hand gestures. Throw in a little Marc Anthony and ey, chihuahua!

It is an absolute riot. Especially when you realize the room is easily half composed of senior citizens.

My favorite thing about the class though, is the instructor. She brings her energy to each and every class. She sets the room afire with her smile, cheers and not a small amount booty movement.

She is also a young mother and an amazing human being.

She reminds me that there is something more important than following your passion – it’s bringing your passion.

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Body shaming

My sister and I had a good laugh the other day. Evidently she had read an article about the “Dad Bod”.   Evidently, it’s a mixture of a small beer gut with biceps.

Alrighty then.

The foundation for an adversarial relationship with one’s body begins at an early age. We’re bombarded daily with messages that remind us of our shortcomings – as directed by the latest marketing trends.

And if you’re fat? Well, you sorry excuse for a human! The body shame is especially cruel.  But body shame isn’t just for the overweight.

Jay and I were heading into the gym and we passed by a sign that announced a new “SHRED!” class. Evidently it’s the latest and greatest brainchild of Jillian Michaels, an angry fitness trainer who wants to kick your flabby butt into a firm one.

I decided the only thing I want to shred is a nice pork loin for pulled pork sandwiches but it did cause me to ponder.

I enjoy exercise for the many benefits – especially for good health and keeping the dust bunnies out of my brain.

But for folks that are constantly obsessed with their workouts and their diets, well, I think it’s just another expression of body shame. They’re never good enough. They live with disgust for the indulgence they had at lunch last week.

The development of exercise programs with violent names like, “Shred” or “Pound” or “Ripped” seem to suggest that yes, beat that body! You’re not good enough until you have six-pack. (With exception to the Dad Bod – that six-pack can be in the fridge.)

Perhaps I would develop a program and call it what it is – Beat the Shit Outta Yourself!

Being at peace with myself, double chin and all, is something that’s got to begin within. Sure, I’ll continue working out and I enjoy a sense of accomplishment as I feel myself getting stronger and beating back the lingering fibromyalgia/MBS symptoms.

But if I don’t deal with body shame, I’ll never accept myself…ripped, pounded or shredded.

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