For any of my readers who actually read my blog posts, you know I do not make New Years resolutions. Working each year, each month–every day, come to think, to better myself as a person is, to put it bluntly, a no-brainer. Some days I progress much further than others. But I do try, as, I suspect, most people do.
Suffice it to say, and against my norm, I did make one resolution for the turn of the year, for the turn of a decade. And that is to listen more, talk less. I won’t elaborate much; I’m certain it’s self-explanatory.
In addition, I’ve decided to go full force with what I began a few years ago: a more sustainable, environmentally-conscience, minimalistic lifestyle. As a wife and mama who still holds a full time job, clutter gives me anxiety. And let’s be real: we can all do with less stress, especially when it can usually be avoided. Fact is, humans put too much value in material objects. Be it clothing, jewelry, electronics or the money in our bank accounts, we judge one another on what we have–not who we are.
On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter gave an impactful talk on national television that is now-labeled his “Crisis of Confidence” speech. He explored Congress’s lack of action with the nation’s energy problems, among other issues of the time (which are chillingly close to what we’re going through in modern day America). If you haven’t read it in full, you may do so here. But the portion that struck me the most was this one:
“In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives, which have no confidence or purpose.”
When I was much younger, I had a job that paid in cash. Lots of cash. I had no concept of saving. As a girl who grew up poor, it excited me to be able to buy my own stuff. And, boy, did I. From clothes to music, and even my custom-mixed foundation, I spent faster than I could actually make the money I was spending. Wasn’t until much later I realized I was trying to fill a void that–you guessed it–couldn’t be healed by “things.” I heard a quote recently that goes something like, “Love people, use things, not the other way around.” Suppose I could’ve really used those wise words when I was young and dumb, but, hey, I wouldn’t have that experience, otherwise.
If God allows me to live, I’m halfway through my human life here on this planet. When I die, if I’m given the chance for a death bed and a last breath, I don’t want my last thoughts to be, “What have I done?” or in the famous last words of David Cassidy, “So much wasted time.” Because time is the only thing we can’t get back, and you can’t make more of. It arrives, we take it, and the only thing we have after that point is reflection. For a while, I’ve tried to wake up in the morning and ask myself, “What are you going to do with today?” My eyes are open, feet are working–hands, too. I have my mind and my ears and my voice, and what I choose to do with those is up to me. Actions, reactions, all choices I make throughout a day. All up to me.
As for sustainable living, I’ve started with my makeup drawer and, naturally, my clothing. All slimmed to a minimum that, I must say, has given me a beautiful sense of relief. Already, I feel lighter, more purposeful, and I can’t wait to discover what’s next.
I’d love to hear your plans for the year–for the decade, most especially if you’ve thought about living a minimalistic lifestyle, and what steps you’re taking to make that happen.
I wish you all joy and peace.
xoxo – Alyssia