Retail Detox: January

The first month of my shopping ban went more smoothly than I expected. When I set out on this journey, I had already started Project 333, which eliminated any desires I had to purchase new clothing. Although my wardrobe is the smallest its ever been, I find that I genuinely like everything in my closet. I wear each and every item I selected for this three month project. In fact, when I do have to walk through downtown, I don’t even look at the clothing in the windows.

Other areas of the shopping ban are proving more tempting, but I’ve managed to stay strong. I have always loved stationary. Back in America, I had so many journals, but rarely managed to fill any of them. The same goes for notebooks. When I filled up a journal at the beginning of the month, I will admit that my first thought was that it’s time for a new one. And trust me, the journals and notebooks here in Korea are so cute. But I have more journals that are half full. Why not fill those up first before looking to get another one?

A potted green plant seen at a cafe in Gyeongju, South Korea.

And yet in other areas, I haven’t even considered buying items I included in the ban. Books written in English are hard to come by in my small Korean city, and I find the cost of international shipping off-putting, so I haven’t even looked at books. If something comes out that I really want to read, I use my Audible subscription and listen to the audio version. While it’s not quite the same as reading, audio books have become a staple in my life.

Take-out coffee is also proving easier not to buy than I expected. Perhaps it’s because I spent most of January teaching winter camp, and I arrived to work before any coffee shops were even open. The only place that I could have gotten take-out coffee were the convenience stores, and the sugary coffees have definitely lost their appeal to me since moving here.

I know that thirty-one days without shopping for non-essential items isn’t a huge feat, and that as time goes on, it will become more difficult for me to adhere to my self-imposed shopping ban. But knowing how to avoid the temptations of shopping, and acknowledging that shopping isn’t a hobby and isn’t something I need to do to feel happy are starting points to reshape the way I think about shopping and what I truly need in order to have a life of happiness and fulfillment found in experiences, not things.

Ringing in the New Year

January 1, 2018

A new month, a new day, a new year. With the passing of each 365 days, we are reminded that once a year, we are given a symbolic new beginning, and that while every day is the chance to start anew, this one day in particular is special, being celebrated across the globe, and is a visible reminder that we can always do better and be better.

I spent New Years Eve with one of my close friends, her parents, brothers, aunts, and uncles. We ate a large and late dinner, chatted about travel, books, movies, and shared stories from our lives. It was relaxing, peaceful, and full of love. We toasted the new year with champagne, and I quickly went off to sleep on a pull-out couch, reminiscing back to my childhood in the late 90’s. This upcoming year would be a good one, because I vowed to make it so.

Each year I set not one, but many resolutions and goals for myself. It’s something I have always done. At least if I fail at one, I have others I can fall back on. Each year I set a goal for how many books I would like to read. This number changes every year and if often based on how many I read the year before. In 2017, I read all of nine books, probably the lowest number of books I’ve read in a year since before I learned how to read. So, naturally, I set the bar low for this upcoming year, and I have already finished a book of essays I began back in July about life after college. It felt great to have already accomplished something so early in the new year.

I’ve also set other resolutions: go 100% vegan, beginning today, visit at least two new states, pay off at least one credit card, journal every day, and stop scrolling through Twitter before I even get out of bed in the morning. I’d also like to prioritize my days better, create new habits and routines, volunteer more, and try new things. I know this is a lot to take on, particularly all at once, but even small changes can lead to big results. One of my best friends bought me a daily journal that has a question and a few lines to write a short response each day over the course of five years. Guided journaling makes the resolution to journal every day seem a lot more attainable. Creating routines, like reading each day before bed kills two birds with one stone. And prioritizing getting a shower over scrolling through Twitter will help me be a lot more productive in the morning. So while I have a lot of resolutions, many of them are intertwined.

So while I am optimistic that this may be the year I accomplish much of what I have set out to do, only time will tell, and I am incredibly excited to see what 2018 has to offer.