Friday, November 01, 2013

Simplicity & Satisfaction: Lessons Learned from The October Dress Project 2013

The October Dress Project is OVER! This morning, I put on jeans, a tunic that I brought over from Scotland (sleeveless but woolly like winter), a velvet jacket and my brown flats, and I felt AMAZING. No stripes. No black and white. A top I can comfortably breastfeed in. I didn't even care that my hair wasn't fixed; I was just happy to be in something else.

Last year, post-ODP, my lesson learned was Simplicity. I made it my theme for 2013 to learn about Simplicity. And boy did I. After the project last year, I started clearing things out - clothes, junk. In January, Scott and I made the official decision between us to start applying for immigration to the US, and I did more clearing out. By June, we had eliminated nearly all of our worldly goods, retaining only what fit in twelve suitcases (two per flying passenger) and a few boxes to be kept in Scotland in family members' cellars. In this past year, I have learned a lot about Simplicity. I've learned I can do without a lot of things I once thought necessary. Aside from material things, I also took the theme to mean simplicity in my personal life. I allowed myself to cut back from certain things while still in Scotland to focus on what really matters. I made the choice to NOT get involved in so much when I moved to Arkansas. Instead of filling my entire life with so much that I hardly had time to think, I decided I would simplify my commitments to one or two things that really mattered to me. I've kept this, though with the time constraints I'm already under, it doesn't seem so. I now have only one business (The Pampered Chef) instead of three, no volunteer organizations (though I've been tempted by the PTA and Girl Scouts), and the kids are in one after school activity only. Though Pampered Chef and soccer have managed to take over my life (in a good way), they are my only commitments, and it feels pretty good. The simple life for me could certainly be simpler, but my lesson has been well-accepted and I'm learning.

This year, my post-ODP lesson must be about Satisfaction. If I look back over my last 31 days, the overwhelming feeling would be dis-satisfaction. Dissatified with my wardrobe and my lack of everyday household 'stuff' that I'm used to having at my fingertips, I've felt grumpy and unhappy. I think it's time to learn to be Satisfied with Simplicity. I started off so happy with having so little, but as school projects and costumes and Christmas decorating come up, and I don't have all those little bits and bobs I used to have, I've become unhappy with what I (don't) have any more.

I remind myself that we have started COMPLETELY over. This is the most complete re-start of my life. Moving to college, I still had all my stuff. Moving to Scotland I had some stuff, but Scott had the rest. Moving to Scotland WAS difficult; I remember a feeling similar to this one now, when all I wanted to do was draw or paint something and I had no art supplies. I remember having Scott drive me (because I couldn't drive yet) to the Arts, Crafts and Hobbies shop on Cathcart Street, where I purchased a drawing pad and a box of pencils - because I didn't even have pencils. Yet only about a year later, I had everything back again that I wanted. It took time, but before I knew it, my house and life were materially furnished.

This time next year, I remind myself, I'll probably be back to normal. I won't be in the kitchen stirring up a cake mix only to realize I don't have a cake pan (which happened a few weeks ago). I won't need to buy a blender with my grocery shopping so I can make soup (like I did yesterday). I'll have summer AND winter clothes. It just takes time to rebuild your life.

I am so very, very thankful and lucky when I think about it really... some people lose everything, not by choice, but by horrible circumstance - fire, theft, unemployment. We are not so bad off really. We got to choose to let go of our belongings and we got to choose what we wanted to keep.

So this upcoming year, starting now I guess, my new Life Theme is Satisfaction. Like Simplicity, it goes much further than clothes and belongings. I started a learning process about simplifying everything in my life. Now I begin the journey of being satisfied with my life. That will inevitably include satisfaction with my small but growing group of friends, my small but growing business, myself and all my shortcomings, my children and their shortcomings, my husband who, though he would deny it, has one or two shortcomings, and my faith which is simply short-in-coming and small but not growing.

Remarkably it seems I did get something out of the October Dress Project after all. I grade it Satisfactory.

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