Don’t buy this

Years ago I had another blog. I don’t know why I say “another” because it actually had the same domain, but I deleted the whole thing so it was dead, and this is a resurrection.

A little side story: toward the end of my blog, my domain needed to be renewed, but for the life of me I could not figure out how to do it through Google. I tried repeatedly, and could never log in the way Google wanted me to log in, and eventually my domain expired and somebody scooped it up, no doubt hoping that I would come begging to buy it back. Instead, I gave up on it, and deleted my whole blog because it was no longer the space that I wanted it to be. Well, I guess the entity that stole my domain realized that I was gone and nobody else wanted it, because when I decided to blog again it was available. 

My old blog started as a way to keep me on track to save money for my honeymoon. I used it to share things I wanted to buy – a non-consuming way of having these things I coveted. It actually worked, I did save money during that time, and managed to avoid frivolous purchases for months. I need to get back to that place of focused money management, but I’m not about to blog about things I want to buy. I want to get to a place where I don’t want to buy.

Something that turned me off my own blog was that I felt like it was overly driven by consumerism, and the need to buy stuff. Many of the blogs that I read were the same, all about what to buy for your home or how to dress. Over time, it seemed like all blogs turned into platforms to get sponsorships, bloggers were just trying to get paid to sell stuff and receive stuff for free. I was a willing participant in this, spending my time reading blogs so they could sell me something I didn’t need.

So, I killed my blog. I think only my parents noticed, because by then people didn’t read blogs – probably because everywhere we look someone is trying to sell us something, and blogs are too wordy a platform for advertisements. Now people are trying to sell us that same junk on Instagram and TikTok.

In the last year or so I’ve been drawn to the idea of minimalism. When I look around my house and see how much stuff we’ve accumulated, I feel the weight of it all on my soul. Toys and clothes and trinkets and just so much stuff. At the start of this year I started getting rid of it, and have spent hours going through every inch of my house, pulling out the things we don’t need and that no longer serve us. It’s become a favorite weekend activity – getting rid of things – I find it incredibly satisfying.

This is not to say that I have become a minimalist, or that my house is no longer filled with stuff. It’s that going forward I want to be un-influenceable. I don’t want to attach sentiment to objects, and I don’t want to associate success with having stuff. 

Over the course of this endless pandemic (and before it, if I’m honest), I’ve sought the serotonin boost of buying things. Those early days when the sight of the delivery vans outside was the highlight of another day in lockdown! The increasingly normalized act of online shopping, everything you could ever want at your fingertips and delivered to your door in a day. None of this is good for us, and I reject it on a good day. But not every day.  

My resolution (feels like a bad word these days) for 2022 is not to buy stuff, but to lighten my load further. That includes:

  • Get my serotonin from sources other than shopping for things I don’t need
  • Buy clothes second-hand in stores, and not impulse/online shop 
  • Open an Etsy shop to sell the tchotchkes and trinkets I’ve accumulated, and bank that money – ie, use the joy that I get from treasure-hunting to make money

Maybe resolutions don’t work, but I’ve found that by saying things out loud, even if “out loud” is writing on a blog that nobody reads, I’m better at staying on track to my goals. It worked once before, and fingers crossed it will again.

Making Better Decisions

Several years ago a blogger that I follow wrote a post about animal testing. It was a mostly decor-related account, but on that day she made a plea to boycott products tested on animals, and you know what? It was effective. I decided that day that I would no longer support products or brands that tested on animals. The influencing was just that good.

That post challenged me to think about what my values were, and ask myself if I was supporting the kinds of practices that I believe are important. I believe that in this day and age we don’t need to test our chemical products on animals, yet I wasn’t using my purchasing power to support that belief. 

I need to also acknowledge the place of privilege that I have in making this decision. Choosing cruelty-free products and brands is often the more expensive option, and one that may not be available locally to everyone. I lived at the time in Brooklyn, and now live in New Jersey, and am spoiled for choice with stores that carry the lines that I want to support. That is not true of everyone, even if they personally do not agree with the practice of animal testing, and it’s important to recognize that and reserve judgement.

From that day forward all the personal and household products we bought were cruelty-free. The make-up I wear, the soaps and lotions we use to take care of our bodies, the sprays and cleaners we used to keep our home clean – all of it. It took a little legwork to find which brands align with our values, but the internet has many helpful guides to make this change easier. 

That decision to go cruelty-free had a domino-effect as I paid more attention to the types of companies and products I wanted to support. It started with cruelty-free products and grew to making better choices for the environment – not just the animals, but the land and the air and the sea. I became increasingly aware and concerned about the impact that my purchases made on the natural world, and with that awareness I started making better decisions. 

It’s true that corporations and businesses have a greater negative impact on our environment, and it can feel like the actions of an individual are a microscopic drop in the bucket when facing the enormity of climate change and the environmental degradation that we are facing. But by sharing what we do as individuals, and supporting companies that do good, we create a bigger and more impactful movement. 

The changes that I made came from one blog post on a home decor blog. Don’t underestimate your power to influence change.

You can’t just be a writer

When I was a kid, I told everyone that I wanted to be a writer. At age 16 I told my best friend that I had no intentions of going to college, because writers don’t need to go to college.

I babysat for a neighbor who told me, “To be a great writer, you must read broadly.” Good advice, but the advice that I needed was “to be a writer, you must write.”

I didn’t write. I didn’t really write anything. The afore-mentioned best friend and I used to exchange long and ridiculously over-the-top notes between classes; fantasies that occupied the minds of two bored 16-year-old virgins with no prospects but a lot of ideas. That was the extent of my writing.

A mean girl in high school told me “You can’t just be a writer”. She didn’t like me, and I didn’t like her. She wore all black, went to see repertory films, pretended to read philosophy, and probably smoked clove cigarettes. Maybe she really was reading philosophy, I don’t really know.

She was right, though, as much as it annoys me to admit it. She had me pegged, and her comment went right to my heart. I never again told anyone that I wanted to be a writer – I pushed it out of my head. I went to college and studied English – I wouldn’t be a writer, but I could still be a reader.

That was all a long time ago. Now I work in marketing. I write copy and press releases. I write a lot of emails. I’ve discovered my process for writing is to wait until a deadline is looming, and then pull it out of myself like an exorcism. My process is imperfect, but I deliver.

Recently I was doing some freelance marketing work for a local business – mostly social media but also blogging. The owner of the business said to me one day, when we were outlining a plan, “you’re really more of a writer, aren’t you?” It had been such a long time since I had entertained that idea, but yes, maybe I am more of a writer.

I’ve never uttered this out loud, at least not since high school; but I am a good writer. When I take the time to do it, I can string words together clearly, even pleasantly. And certainly, better than when I’m saying them out loud. I just need to do it, and that’s why I’m here.

I’m not sure what will emerge from this project or on this page. I have no real plan, just thoughts seeking an outlet. Maybe nobody will ever read them, and that’s fine, though I admit that I hope to get maybe a read here and there. I move forward with no expectations.

No style to speak of

A few days ago I looked up “do people read blogs anymore?”, and the internet enthusiastically told me yes! People read blogs all the time! They read them for 37 seconds and you should post in the form of a list for scanning. You should optimize for SEO and provide helpful advice or tutorials, and maybe some recipes. But, that’s not I was asking. Do people read blogs anymore?

I miss the blogs that are just about our lives, our thoughts, and our days (no matter how mundane). I’m tired of blogs that are trying to teach me something, like how to mom, or how to build or how style. I am tired of blogs that are trying to sell me something, or trying to reach high enough pageviews so that they can start to sell me something.

Here I am. I have nothing to sell you, and nothing to teach you. And certainly nothing interesting to show you. I have no recipes to share, or gift guides for you to spend your money on. I have no style to speak of, whether on my person or in my home. It’s a recipe for disaster – all I have are these words, but here I am.