…and what should break next?

On the last day of my no retail shopping challenge, I started my day as I do everyday.  I turn on my espresso machine so it will heat up to make my latte.  I got one latte out of it before it started constantly running, trying desperately to fill itself up with water, but to no avail.  I’ve had this sweet little machine for over 6 years now.  It’s not one you replace, it’s one you take in to get repaired.  (You can read my cost analysis on this here)  Just guessing, this machine would cost more new than what my 15 year old car is worth.  I wouldn’t buy a new car unless I had to, so I’m not going to buy a new espresso machine either.

My little Pasquinni is safely seatbelted in the front seat of the car, ready for his trip to the repair shop.  Should I have put him in the backseat?  Hmmm, he’s pretty tough and could probably handle the air bag.  When I called the repair shop, the lady on the phone had to be the nicest person I’ve ever spoke with in a repair place.  After making my arrangements, she asked me, “Do you have a back up plan?”  I love her!!  She gets it!!  Yes, I’m a coffee addict and I have a back up plan.  Awesomeness.

I have no idea how much this is going to cost to fix, but it has to be cheaper than buying a new one.  6+ years with no problems and I use it everyday.  I call that good.  If I have to get it repaired every six years, I can live with that.  Honestly, if I was better about cleaning it, I might not be taking it in this week.

Ownership of pretty much anything requires maintenance and repairs at some point.  I just had the hot tub fixed, now the espresso machine.  I hope things don’t really come in threes.  If so, let me count the repairs to the pop-up camper we just got.  Off to make a latte… on my borrowed back up machine.

space heater [minimalist challenge item #103]

[item] Small space heater

[purchase info] Purchased new in Mexico

[time in my possession] Just under 2 years

[last used] 5 months ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Between easy and medium.

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I bought this in Mexico on a winter trip.  I am the worst when I comes to being cold.  This little space heater is the icon of the extreme measures I will take to stay warm.  It really didn’t do much to keep me warm for the couple of nights and I felt awful after buying it.  I should have brought a few extra clothes and blankets with me, not buy a $30 space heater that uses up lots of electricity.  None of the kids at the orphanage have space heaters.  I was simply being the spoiled American.

I’ve used the space heater a few times in my house, but I don’t feel any better about using it here.  I hope this was a good fundraiser item.

electric guitar strings [minimalist challenge item #102]

[item] Red metal electric guitar strings

[purchase info] Purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 2 years

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I bought these to put on a guitar as an art project but I ended up not needing them.

auto electrical splitter [minimalist challenge item #101]

[item] Electrical car outlet splitter

[purchase info] Purchased new

[time in my possession] Approximately 8 years

[last used] 6 years ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I bought this years ago when I used to travel to Kansas once a month to plug in the boys DVD player and also use my iPod.

scooby doo fork [minimalist challenge item #100]

[item] Scooby Doo kids fork

[purchase info] Given to me with a lot of silverware

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 months

[last used] Never

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I don’t have any kids utensils and this was in the bag with a lot of silverware I got from a friend or mine.  I like Scooby Doo, but I don’t need the fork.

last day of the challenge, first day of… [day 365]

Wow!  It’s been a year already.  A year of no retail shopping.  It started off as a year of no retail shopping, however it ended up as a year of so much more than that.  It would be impossible to sum up the year in one blog post, but I can say this.  It’s changed the way I think, not only when it comes to shopping, but how I live my life.

I could write many of the things I learned here, and I started to do that, but it sounded like a way-too-serious, silly infomercial for life transformation.  The truth of the matter is, I’m human and I struggle with all of the same things everyone else does, I’ve just chosen to take a few of those struggles a step further.  I’m not going to go back to retail shopping like I shopped before this year started.  Yes, I will probably start again at some point, but it will be a much different process.  Shopping won’t be a hobby, it won’t be something I do when I’m bored, it won’t be buying on impulse and it won’t be something I do very often.  It will be well thought out when I do make a purchase, always applying the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired through the process.

This might be the last day of the challenge, but it’s the first day of something much bigger.  It’s the first day of whatever I want it to be.  I might do another challenge of some sort because I just do stuff like that.  There are a few things that I plan to do now though.

I’m not going to start shopping or run to the store, but I am going to take a short break from blogging.  I will continue using rethinkgood.com to do post-challenge updates, including telling you what I have purchased retail.  I can’t even imagine shopping now.  How uncomfortable will that be?!?

I need to take some time to regroup.  One part of that is making my blog into a resource for living differently than the way society says we should.  I also need to take some time and think about moving forward out of the challenge.  I already feel like I’m in some sort of directionless limbo.  I know where I’m not going, but where am I going?

I’ve talked about writing a book, and along with that, I have many other ideas of what I can do with this year of online journaling.  It’s time to seriously ponder that, make some plans and implement them!  This will all be a waste if I don’t take some action on it.

This is not the end of something really great, it’s the beginning of something even greater!  Now that I think about it, this has been my identity over the past year.  It’s been a rare occasion that I would meet someone, or be introduced to someone without the “…she’s doing a year of no retail shopping…”  Explain.  Answer questions.  Give them my blog name.  But now what?  If this has truly been my identity, then in this case, I hope someone steals my identity.  A good case of identity theft?  Redefine bad, rethink good.  :)

plastic flamingos [minimalist challenge item #99]

[item] 2 painted pink plastic flamingos

[purchase info] Received as a gift

[time in my possession] Approximately 3 years

[last used] A month ago

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Medium

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I have several of these, too many really.  Just downsizing a bit.  I kept 2 of these and 2 skelemingos.

stock photo collections [minimalist challenge item #98]

[item] Stock photos cd’s and dvd’s

[purchase info] I made these collections and used to sell them on eBay years ago

[time in my possession] Approximately 5 years

[last used] Never, these are unsold copies

[difficulty level in getting rid of it] Easy

[destination] Fundraiser

[info] I made all of these photo collections and had an eBay business to sell them.  The collections are dated and I’m not doing that business anymore.

tomorrow is the last day! [day 364]

No, I’m not predicting the end of the world.  It’s the last day of the challenge!  It’s been a really good year.  I thought I might look back at the post from day 1.  Wow!  A lot has changed since then!!  Here’s the first post.

Day one of any long time period challenge is more of a normal time than a reality check of the radical decision you just committed to.  I decided to do this challenge very early in the morning, which is the time my monkeys are the most active.  Yeah, I should probably explain that.  My friend Steve says my thoughts are like a bunch of monkeys next to a banana tree, so we frequently refer to the monkeys in my head.  Monkeys are fun and cute, so we’ll go with it.

So I had breakfast with my kids and decided to tell them the news!  We will not be shopping retail for a year.  No new toys, no new video games, no new clothes.  After the silence, then denial, they reluctantly agreed that it was a good plan, although they thought a year was a bit excessive.  Well, with all the excess in our society, why not add a little more excess?  LOL

The ironic thing here is that I still have to shop sometimes for work, and this being the first day of the challenge, I had to go to Ikea for stage set stuff.  I had an Ikea gift card for $50 in my wallet, just to complicate things.  So off I went to shop, placing the stage items in the cart, along with a few things that I could buy with the gift card.  Well, as we all justify the stuff we absolutely need, my justification here was that I should use up the gift card since it probably will get lost or decrease in value over a year.  As I was about to check out, I put the stuff back.  I don’t NEED it and I’m not even sure I WANT it.  I was there, I had ‘Ikea’ money and everyone needs more stuff, right?  I still have the gift card and plan to give it to someone I know that is getting his first apartment and actually has a few basic needs.

I told a few people about my plans, or my challenge.  A few people thought it was a good idea and were not surprised.  (They obviously know me well and there’s not many things I can do to surprise anyone)  Others said it was cool, but they could never do it.  Let me just say here that I like to shop, but not like most people.  I hate malls and I hate spending money.  I like material things though.  There.  I said it.  I have an internal struggle with wanting simple and less fighting with a desire for more.  I was raised in a very materialistic house.  I have to call it a house, not a home, because a much higher value was placed on the material things in the house, not the people living in it.

I suppose I’m doing this to prove to myself that I don’t need a lot of stuff.  I’m also doing this for my kids to teach them about another world, a crazy different world that exists outside this wealthy, affluent bubble we live in.  A world where poverty and hunger exist because 20% of the world has 80% of the stuff, including food and water.  As Gandhi said,“There’s enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.”

This challenge is a very small step.  I know I have a long way to go here, but if everyone just made some really small sacrifice, our world would change in a radically wonderful way.  The monkeys are still processing all of this, along with my kids.  Off to day 2…

I had an art show several years ago called Excessable, all of the photographs depicting the excess in our society, how accessible it is and how it doesn’t fulfill us.  I’ve used some of these before in my blog posts, but today, they have more meaning to me.

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