We are in the midst of the constant barrage of New Year’s resolutions — to be thinner, wealthier, more youthful appearing. Everywhere you look or listen, you can be promised that 2017 is the year that you become a better self. And while I think that self improvement is very important, I do not believe that we all have to strive for the aforementioned ideals. I am all for bettering my health and boosting my savings account but I think that the New Year’s resolution as such sets many people up for not succeeding. In my first yoga class of 2017, my teacher brought this up: the difference between a resolution and a goal (or intention). With a resolution, it is as if you feel that you must absolutely fulfill this one thing, without any room for being human. With a goal, you set up for something that you work toward over time. With this difference in mind, I have chosen to work toward a goal for not only 2017, but for the rest of my life. It is simply to use what I have.
This goal may sound simplistic but it is actually quite expansive. For starters, as a creative person always striving to learn more and try more, I have decided that instead of taking on new hobbies I am going to use the skills that I have and build upon them. This means learning more complicated knitting techniques including sweaters, socks and lace. It means learning new quilting techniques and retaining them, especially all of the different things I’m learning in my art quilting group. (Side note: the above picture is of our new “closet door” made from blocks I’ve had sitting around since a defunct block of the month club 3 years ago. These were just sitting in a box until I decided to unearth them and use them. Now every day we no longer have to look at our clothes, but instead this nice piece.) This includes utilizing my newly remodeled sewing room as my own creative space, a luxury that not many people have. I am going to keep on taking pictures and learning from experience and library books. I know that in delving deeper into the skills I have instead of getting involved in another hobby that I only know and don’t excel at, I can still learn and experiment with the solid foundation I already possess.
Using what I have also extends to the kitchen. Before I make a grocery list based upon we’re craving and what’s on sale, I will first visit our pantry and our freezer. I will shop from home before I shop from the store. Fortunately for me, this is pretty easy because we have a freezer full of Hatch green chiles and Olathe corn and a pantry full of basmati rice, Anasazi beans and home canned tomatoes and pickles. We are fortunate to have food security and we can easily supplement what we have and make nourishing meals. Chances are that some of our recipe experiments will be flops and that is okay. It will allow us to use our creativity in the kitchen instead of simply relying upon the grocery store.
My goal includes using all of the possessions I currently have. I will wear that nicer dress to work more just because I can. I will wear the jewelry that I have, wear the (old but functional) cashmere sweater on the weekends and read all of the books I own. I have books on my shelf (well, stair landing) that I have been carting along for years. It is time to grab those and curl up under a quilt! I’ve also been listening to some of my old cds (remember those?) and it has been really fun. It is amazing how many lyrics I remember from things I’ve had for 10 or 15 years. I will burn the candles at a Wednesday night meal because what I have is meant to be used. I will grind up the fancy coffee on a weekday morning. It is easy to see our stuff as precious and forget about the original utility of our things. As a continually striving minimalist, I don’t want to have things that just sit around, I want everything in my house and my life to have a purpose. If I find something that no longer serves a need (I believe Marie Kondo calls this “sparks joy”), then it needs to go someplace else. I want our home to be full of only the things that are used and that add to our lives, nothing that has long since served it purpose.
So, my seemingly simple goal to use what I have is actually a very large and overarching lifetime enhancer. It will be something that I work towards in 2017 and probably for the rest of my life. It is a goal that can be added on to and one that also allows for me to be the human that I am.