That doesn’t belong in the garbage

that doesn't belong in the garbage

Clockwise, from top left:
Getting a custom hat designed by my friend, Satya Twena; Buying handmade tapestries at the market in Pisac, Peru; Simple and beautiful gifts for guests at my retreat; Enjoying my beautiful living space.

I held the socks in my left hand while I walked to the kitchen to put the kettle on. As the whir of the kettle’s heating element kicked in, I looked down at the socks as I walked to my desk. I put the socks down on the desk and wrote myself a note, picking them back up for the walk back to the kitchen. I laughed at myself as I put the socks on the kitchen counter to pour water over my tea bag.

Five minutes prior, I’d pulled the socks onto my feet, only to discover a hole in one heel. Ugh, that’s going to be uncomfortable, I thought. So I slipped on new ones. But what do I do with the holey ones? Searching for an answer, I walked around my house for 5 minutes…carrying a pair of socks.

It was an unnecessarily agonizing decision-making process, sure. But it wasn’t about the socks. I’d just gotten off the phone with a girlfriend and we were talking about love (it’s always about love), and the nature of disposability…

In our conversation, I said: “I think that if we were more mindful about what we brought into our lives – from toasters to lovers – we’d be more thoughtful about disposing of them when they were no longer working. And if we were more like our grandparents – willing to fix what’s broken before we toss it aside– perhaps we’d be more mindful about what we brought home.”

If we chose things that were built to last, perhaps we wouldn’t discard them so fast. {tweet it}

If we repaired things when they needed fixing, maybe we’d be more mindful of our acquisitions. {tweet it}

There was a time in my life when I chose quantity over quality, justifying that I couldn’t afford nice things because I was broke.  I bought cheap shoes (and lots of them), cheap furniture (because I had no money left from all the cheap shoes), and cheap food (because I had spent it all on a house full of crap).  I tried to “make it work” with guys I wasn’t that into, and schmoozed at parties with people I wasn’t vibing with.  I was a junk collector.

I also threw out shoes I’d worn twice, upgraded my cheap furniture over and over, and jumped from relationship to relationship with barely an exhale in between.  I was wasteful.

When I moved from Vancouver to New York, I gave away 90% of my possessions, paring down to my most beloved belongings.  Arriving in New York City with just a few suitcases and boxes, and working for less than I’d ever made, I began to appreciate what was truly important in life.  I craved more time with my precious family, and as I slowly acquired new clothes, furniture, and friends, I focused on quality…inviting in that which I love dearly, and giving my loving attention to it.

This holiday season, before you bring home more cheap plastic crap, write-off your cousin, or replace something that could be repaired…think twice.  I know it’s not always simple, and sometimes it’s downright hard, but add an extra dose of mindfulness to your choice.  Life (and love) shouldn’t be so disposable.

Choose that which endures, and consider repairing the broken bits.  Sometimes, even if it costs you something, it’s worth the investment.

Oh, and the socks?  I sewed up the hole, just like Grandma would’ve done.

–> In the comments below, share how you intend to be more mindful this holiday season.

posted in health + relationships.

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10 Comments

  1. Sara

    love this N! I’ve been thinking about this same thing so much over the past couple of years – upgrading, refreshing, and fixing those things I love but that have gotten beat up – sweaters for example.

    Feels so good to only have in our lives what we truly love!

    XOXOXO

    Reply
  2. Lex

    I’ve been letting go of lots of things, people situations recently and it feels so wonderful. This season I’m giving two kinds of gifts (to beautiful delight of my family + friends) experience-based presents (yoga gift certificates) and passing on my personal collections of treasures (i.e. 10 pairs of earrings) to people who will really USE them! Feels WONDERFUL!

    Thank You for this post.

    L

    Reply
  3. Camille

    So funny I came upon this today. Took the guy in my life post-Christmas shopping (I can’t bear to shop during heavy retail times). He picked up a sweater, for himself, and asked me what made it $300 originally and why it had “only been reduced to $100?” We had a little textiles lesson in the checkout line. 90% wool means a great natural fiber meant to keep the body warm, he learned about knitting patterns and how they keep the body heat in. Now, all he wears is his sweater, sans coat a lot of the time. He took his cheap sweaters, washed them, and donated them. They were all shapeless and even if he wore three at the same time, he was freezing.
    “Buy well, buy once” – Camille’s Mom

    Reply

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