I want to share a story with you that I heard a few months ago that really resonated with me. There’s a fisherman who had just finished catching his meal for the day. He’d eaten and then decided that he’d sit on the shore of a beach to relax after his meal when another man walks onto the beach and sits next to him. The man is dressed in fancy clothing.
He turns toward the fisherman resting on the beach and says, “You know, you really ought to think about catching more fish; then you can sell them and make a living off of it.”
“Yes, perhaps I could,” the fisherman answers.
The wealthy man continues, “Yes, then once you start catching more, you’ll afford to buy a bigger boat.”
The fisherman replies, “Yes, but then what would I do?”
The wealthy man says, “You could hire more men to catch even more fish, so you sell more and make more money!
He answers, “Well yes, I could. But then what?”
The wealthy man continues, proudly, “Well, um, then you can lie here and relax on the beach like me.” He smiles.
The fisherman answers, also smiling to himself, “Yes, but that’s what I’m doing right now.”
I know I kind of built this up on my Instagram post from earlier today, so if you’re here and that story doesn’t really resonate with you then go ahead and skip over this one. It’s not about the NSale, how to get your baby to sleep through the night, or my favorite natural beauty products. This is about my journey to happiness.
It’s about my personal realization of how I view success. How I perceive a happy life.
Tour My Home
Take a tour of my home with me, will you? Upon walking inside you’ll see a half-decorated, open den that serves as a toy room because I truthfully have no clue how to style it. Then you’ll veer right towards our dining room, living space, and kitchen.
Last year, when I found a faux fiddle leaf fig plant on sale at QVC, I bought not one, but two. One of them sits near our kitchen table. The other is in Norah’s room (which has literally sat untouched since we decorated it.)
You’ll make your way over to the kitchen. I needed those white cabinets. The sparkly, quartz countertops. I wanted it all to be white. Want to know what I learned in the last nine months though? I learned that I’m not really a big fan of white. Ironically enough, white doesn’t really fit my style or aesthetic. Pinterest told me I liked it though.
From the kitchen you’ll see the living room. I have had five different couches in our living room in the last seven months. I already want a new one. Then you’ll walk into our master bedroom. I have not one, but TWO cribs for my newborn. One is in here next to my bed, and the other is in her room that has sat untouched. She spends most of her naps and nighttime hours IN OUR BED.
Finally, the closet – my closet. I have eight of the same exact wide-brimmed, straw fedora hat. I have four Fawn Design diaper bags. The exact same style. Just four different colors. I have five other diaper bags that look virtually identical. I have the same t-shirt in seven different colors. I have four pairs of jeans. All the same style. Just a different wash. When I see something that I like. I need it. I need two in my size. One in every color.
But the worst part, and possibly the most embarrassing are the piles of clothes I’ve accumulated with the tags still on them. Pairs of brand new shoes that never left the box. They didn’t even make it onto my already extremely full shoe shelf. Things I told myself I needed to have, yet still haven’t used. It’s disgusting.
Don’t even get me started on the garage; before I started decluttering that space, I had SEVEN strollers. This was back when I only had one kid.
Want to know why I’m like this? Why I can’t seem to have enough stuff? Take a trip down memory lane with me.
In the middle of my fourth grade school year my stepfather of three years sat my sister and I down and told us he was leaving. We didn’t understand why. We didn’t know what was happening. But when we were picked up from school one day, soon after, and taken to a new house in a ritzy part of Laguna Niguel to live, (yes this was our new home now…overnight), all of our belongings, our treasures, our toys, our clothes, our bed. Our memories. They were gone. Taken from us out of our control. We never saw that house nor the stuff inside again.
When I was nine, (a year or so later) we had been kicked out of a different man’s house in Cypress where we were living in. He literally shoved us out onto his porch with our belongings. Just two single laundry baskets for the three of us. That was all we had left by this point. You see we’d lived in several places since that Laguna Niguel house.
I distinctly remember carrying around everything I owned in one single laundry basket for miles. We had to walk across town for what seemed like an eternity. I wasn’t sure where we were walking. But I knew that everything I carried with me was all I had. And it was a really shitty feeling. I wanted more. I wanted to be happy.
A few years later…a few homes later. I was in eighth grade, right before high school was supposed to start; I woke up one morning and was told to pack my belongings. But only what could fit into two single boxes. That was it. We were moved overnight. Again. Everything I owned was gone. Again.
My Taking Back Sunday CD. Gone. My favorite Rufio shirt. Gone. The red telephone I talked to my first boyfriend on for hours in middle school? Gone. I buried my favorite necklace in the planter outside that apartment. Right before we got in the van to make the long trek to the Midwest. I told myself I would come back to retrieve it someday. (I still haven’t.) Was I ever going to have stability? Somewhere to call my own? Why couldn’t my life just be normal?
When you grow up wishing you had something. Longing for normalcy. Desperately aching for what things are supposed to be like, you spend your whole teenage years and even your adult life looking for the answer. The golden ticket. The key to happiness and success.
I searched for it in relationships. I searched for it in drugs (very briefly). I searched for it in good grades. Accolades. Everything. Now I search for it in stuff. I search for it in more.
I always prided myself in surfacing from this messy childhood fairly unscathed. I have an amazing husband, a wonderful job (both teaching and blogging are amazing), and two beautiful babies to show for it. I should be joyful. I should feel proud.
We’re constantly creating wish lists, inspiration boards. What will my dream house will look like? My dream closet? My dream wardrobe…But the truth is. That’s not where happiness lives, you guys. I thought I knew that. I thought I knew that calm lives in little moments. I’m literally JUST NOW realizing it.
The More I Have, The Less I Want
It’s totally okay if you don’t agree with me. It’s totally okay if you read this and judge me and think I’m being a total weirdo. That’s fine. If stuff makes you happy. Good. I want you to be happy. But building my dream home, with my dream kitchen, with my dream job still doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t help my marriage feel wonderful and it doesn’t help me be a exceptional mom. It also doesn’t make me feel more secure. Which is what I thought all along. Stuff = security. That’s what my childhood made me think. But it isn’t true.
Here’s what makes me happy:
What Makes Me Happy
The scent of a new candle.
Being outside and breathing fresh air.
Watching Norah laugh at Gracie as she jumps up and down.
Preparing a meal with my husband.
Lying on my back in shavasana.
Painting with my sister.
Norah’s warm smile when she wakes up from a long nap.
Connecting with other moms about this phase of our motherhood life.
Doing three minutes of yoga in the morning to stretch.
Watching Grace help Norah put on her outfit.
What Does Not Make Me Happy
Spending $300 a week at Target. (This number is not an exaggeration.)
Wearing $250 jeans.
Feeling like I can’t post an outfit photo on my Instagram unless the top is current so I can link it with a LikeToKnow.It link so I can make commission on it.
Wasting my money on things that quite literally collect dust.
Teaching my daughter that in order to acquire things she wants she needs to behave. In other words, bribing her to behave well. Also teaching her that things = happiness.
Trying on clothes… seriously no one likes this, right? Especially if it’s the wrong size.
Having no money left after the Target sprees and Amazon purchases to spend on experiences/vacations.
What I’m Going To Do About It
Last year I tried out a capsule wardrobe. It was amazing. I didn’t have to think about my outfit, and I didn’t feel anxious when trying to choose something that would look just right on my Instagram page. “Will this color top pop out on my feed too much?” (Things I ask myself when I’m getting dressed in the morning…)
But the capsule wardrobe gave me a different kind of anxiety. The unnecessary kind. I didn’t feel competitive enough. I didn’t get post about LOFT’s latest sale because I wasn’t shopping it. I was “shopping” my capsule and it felt so good to me, but to everyone else it felt too simple.
But those days are over. I’m done caring. I’m done worrying about what will happen if I just be myself.
My heart is telling me it’s time to let go. To let go of the stuff and the need for more.
I want to leave you with something to think about…
Imagine someone that’s important to you. Maybe a loved one who has passed, or someone you don’t ever want to leave you.
Imagine how you perceive them? Is it their scent, their voice? The t-shirt they always used to wear? What are they to you? No one ever talks about “their grandmother’s closetful of stuff”. It’s their “grandmother’s necklace” that is special, am I right? The one thing that represents that person.
There is not room for stuff in the memories that we make. Life is messy enough; so maybe simplicity is the answer.
Note: this post is a lot lengthier than I imagined it would be, so I’ll continue in a separate article soon. I’ll explain more in depth what this new change in my life means for my brand. The business model for some blogs is based on consumerism, after all. I’ll go into more detail about that at a later date, but for now, I wanted to share with you what I’ve had on my heart for the last few months. Thank you for listening. For being part of this space.
This is refreshing. Thanks for sharing your heart! I needed a little reminder as I find myself lately buying a new item, thinking “I finally got it! I’m all set now.” and two days later “NEEDING” the next thing. That’s not what life it all about …
I’d so love to follow you along this journey!
I am a first time mother of a now 5 month old sweet baby girl and I love following you. Not because of what you wear, how put together you look, or the “things” I see in your posts. I love following you because you are genuine. You are encouraging. And you are real. You talk about things that new moms can look at and feel so much better. I’m happy you shared your story and your feelings – I hope that it can provide you with clarity, strength and fulfillment. I don’t know if this will help you or not but I can imagine you will touch a lot of peoples lives with the things that you choose to part with. And if not – maybe you can find use/ purpose for all the “stuff” you have accumulated. From one mom to another – I think your brokenness is beautiful and it is good you embrace it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are so unbelievably brave! I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you as a child. I will pray that you find peace in your new path. I believe you are making the right decision, for what it is worth. You are already such an inspiration. Good luck and God Bless.
I think in our world of social media, we are also in a world of comparison. I used to see things people had on blogs and then i go buy them, especially when people go on about how wonderful the item is. I have since stopped and now consider myself a minimalist. I got rid of my “made in china” handbags, and now own only 2 very expensive leather bags, made in usa (including a full grain leather backpack $575 from jw hulme.com. these are the only 2 I ever want. I havent bought clothes in ages and my shoes are simple, about 6 pairs leather,expensive shoes. I love my high quality minimal lifestyle and i have more pride in my 2 bags more then i ever did with 15. Thank you for this post. Many people want less but need the extra encouragement.