Tag Archives: Shopping

I am not Rich Enough to Buy Cheap Things

15 Oct

As I fill a bag with clothes to give to charity, I realise that I had bought most of these clothes from charity in the first place. Barely a year later, I am giving almost everything back, without having worn most of it. How to explain this phenomenon?

piles of clothes

I love charity shops for their original finds and low prices. In one particular charity shop, almost every item costs only…1€! The clothes are good quality and one can often find brands such as Deisel, Miss Sixty and Max Mara there.

Last year, when my salary did not allow for frequent high-street shopping trips, I would look for bargains in charity shops. Why waste money on the high-street when I can find such great deals in charity shops, right?

Wrong!

Charity shop shopping can often be like sales shopping – the prices are so low that it seems like a crime not to buy.

“I’m not sure whether this dress is my style”, I have said to myself, or “These shoes don’t quite fit right”, or “I can’t tell whether this coat really suits me”. But, in a charity shop, I have always finished these thoughts with “Well, it’s only 5 €, so I can’t miss out on this fabulous bargain!”

And here I am, a year later, with a bag full of clothes that don’t fit, that are not my style and that do not suit me. I had bought them hoping to save money, but it turns out that I actually wasted my money.

Ill fitting badly fitting shoes

On the other hand, I also own things that are worth a week of my salary. In these cases, it takes me at least an hour in one shop to pick out the perfect item; I try it on several times, walk around the shop with it, check it out from all possible angles, create a mental list of all the places I could wear it to and all the other clothes I could wear it with. I only buy it if ticks all of the boxes and if I really love it.

And this always pays off. These carefully chosen items make me feel good and look great, and last longer, too, because I take careful care of them.

I end up saving money, time and space by owning a few expensive items rather than a wardrobe-full of cheap ones.

After filling up my bag to the brim with unworn charity clothes, I finally understand my mum’s favourite shopping-trip phrase: “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things”.

Happiness Project – Week 1

10 Nov

It’s been one week since the start of my happiness project. I am proud (and happy!) to say that I managed to do 9 of the 15 activities on my list:

1) (Go for a walk every day)

I went for a walk every day. However, some of these walks were simply to get from A to B, whereas others were evening walks specifically to calm down and clear the mind. I realised just what a positive effect the latter have on my state of mind and my ability to wind down at the end of the day.

2) (Wake up at the same time every day)

I started waking up earlier. Much earlier. So early that my working day was finished by 1pm. And this is thanks to the fact that I…

3) (Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm)

Went to bed before midnight. Once I even went to bed at 10pm! On other days I managed 11.30.

5) (Do some sport every day)

I did sport…but only three times in the week. I danced in my living room, blasting Britney Spears and Black Eyed Peas music (into my headphones). I felt like I shook out all of the negative energy that had been building up in me over the past few weeks. I also did one yoga practice and went to one dance class. It’s a good start, but I feel like I need more.

7) (Buy myself something pretty to wear)

I went to a special clothes sale where I bought myself some very nice skirts and dresses for a very nice price. I haven’t worn any of them yet (still in the wash!), but it feels nice to have renewed my wardrobe a bit.

10) (Go to a new place in the city every week)

I went to an art gallery, to which I had wanted to go for months. It’s only a fifteen minute walk away from my home, so it was about time that I finally got there! Although I didn’t find the exhibition particularly interesting, I enjoyed looking through the gallery catalogue and finding out about various artists and photographers. It made me want to take photos, draw and create.

11) (Try a new recipe every week)

Today I tried a new recipe for a healthy cake. Half of it is already eaten! I also revisited a recipe that I hadn’t done for over a year. It reminded me that I love cooking; I love giving myself a whole afternoon to make something, to create something that will bring happiness to the ones I love and to learn something new. My cooking sessions are also accompanied by music and singing; today I discovered two singers that will definitely go onto my playlist.

12) (Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week)

Although I did not buy a juice-making machine or make fresh fruit juice, I did eat fruit every day, which I haven’t done for a long while. I immediately felt, and tasted, the magic of natural vitamins. I could feel my body rejoicing in having received this healthy energy.

14) (Go to one new social event a week – alone)

I went to a singing class. I met friendly and open people, I had a lot of fun and I sang out loud on my own in front of a group of strangers! I was enjoying myself so much that I didn’t even care about being out of tune and off beat. The singing class filled me with loads of positive energy and I realised that music is a sort of meditation for me: while singing or playing an instrument I am so concentrated on my activity that I forget everything else. I lose track of time, my mind clears of all thoughts and I simply let go.

***

Aims for week 2:

-Do not make ‘other people’ and excuse for not doing any of the set activities on a given day – there is always a way to make time for the things we would like to do.

 -Meditate. What’s holding me back from doing sport, considering I used to do dance, aerobics, yoga and jogging regularly? Why do I feel guilty giving myself the opportunity to do something I enjoy? Why do I resist setting aside time to pamper myself? I know I want to sing and continue learning to play the guitar…so why do I not take the step to do so?

I leave you with an awesome song that I listened to quite a few times this week. I think you’ll understand why it’s part of my ‘happy’ playlist.

 

Week 2 of my Happiness Project starts now! (Oops, it’s already past my bedtime!).

Happiness Project

3 Nov

“I am not happy”, the thought that we all dread came to me earlier this week. I realised that I am no longer happy in the city to which I moved ten months ago, I am no longer happy with my lifestyle and I am no longer taking pleasure in my every day life.

I feel a loss of energy, a loss of interest and a loss of motivation. I don’t remember the last time that I sung in the shower. It’s been months since I blasted out my favourite music and danced alone in the living room. And don’t ask me what I look forward to when I wake up in the morning, because I simply don’t have an answer.

It’s tragic, it’s heart breaking, but most of all, it’s very confusing.

Figuring out why we are not happy is a very difficult thing. Figuring out what to do to make ourselves happy is even harder.

Even if we find out why we are not happy, there could be things about certain situations that we simply cannot change. We cannot always move away if we’re unhappy with the place in which we live, we cannot always leave our job if we know that it is making us stressed, we cannot always heal ourselves if we are unwell, we cannot change the people around us if they are bringing negativity into our lives.

So what can we do if we realise that we are unhappy?

For the moment, I am not going to leave my current city, I am not going to change my job and I am not (and cannot) transport my best friends to my city. All I can do is to change a few things in my every day life, which could give me energy, inspiration and joy.

My happiness project for the next month is as follows:

1) Go for a walk every day.

Promenade

2) Wake up at the same time every day (apart from Sundays, of course).

3) Go to bed before midnight, or preferably at 11pm.

4) Find a music teacher and practice the guitar every day.

girl guitarist

5) Read a fairytale.

6) Buy myself something pretty to wear.

7) Go to see a classical music concert.

8 ) Do some sport every day. Dancing, yoga, aerobics, jogging, stretching, walking with heavy shopping bags…

9) Do something that I am scared of (call to ask for a job opportunity, enter a competition, apply for a course, book a trip away, start writing a novel)

10) Go to one new social event a week – alone.

11) Write one story or poem a week.

12) Set an evening every week for personal pampering.  Beauty treatments, meditation, learning how to do a new hair style, taking a bath, listening to music with eyes closed…

13) Try a new recipe every week.

14) Buy a juice making machine, and drink fresh fruit juice at least three times a week.

15)  Go to a new place in the city every week.

16) Edit any of the above points if they start making me unhappy.

17) Create a blog-report on each week of the happiness-project.

 

My happiness project starts today – I have five minutes to get myself ready for bed in time for my curfew!

***

What activities would you put on your own happiness-project list?

Baguette

20 Oct

It was the baguette that did it.

I shuffled into the supermarket, thoughts on dinner. What shall I cook? I didn’t take my card – will I have enough change? Shall I have a small snack before dinner? Will he be back late?

I wandered through the supermarket in a daze. The day had brought with it pleasant events and positive emotions. Yet my hunger and my fatigue were overpowering all the happiness, surprise, joy, excitement, gratitude and comfort that I had felt in the preceding few hours. These magical feelings were slowly evaporating, giving in to the crushing pressure of anxiety.

I walked through the shop isles once, twice, three times. Something was missing from my chosen groceries, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. No, not jam. No, not vegetables. No, not wine. During the fourth circle around the shop, I gravitated unexpectedly towards the bread shelves.

I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I could tell that this was what my body was asking for. The choice was far from appealing: the brown loaf was dry, the white loaf was too big and the packaged bread looked like plastic.

The only other option was a baguette. I’m not a fan of baguettes. Yes, I know, it’s a crime to say this while living in France, but baguettes are just extremely awkward. They don’t fit into a plastic carrier bag, so you have to hold them under your arm or in your hand. They’re too narrow to cut into sandwich slices and too thick to toast. They are mostly made with white bread, whereas I prefer brown. They have too much crust and not enough filling. You can cut your gums if the crust is too crunchy. They dry up within a day and, seeing as they’re too long to fit into the bin, you have to take them down to the garbage individually. Too much fuss for a piece of bread, in my opinion.

But, seeing as the other loaves were unappealing, I reached out to check if at least the baguettes were fresh.

And that was it.

With my hand on the baguette, I froze. A goofy smile spread over my face and I think my jaw dropped, uttering a mild “Aw” mixed with a sigh.

My cold hands were grasping the hottest, freshest baguette that I had ever touched. The bag in which it was packaged had steamed up from the heat. The baguette was so soft that it could have been dough. I picked it up and brought it against my face. I stuck my nose into the bag. I clutched it with both hands, squeezing it slightly, to reassure myself that yes, it had just come out of the oven.

Anxiety and stress evaporated. I was once again filled with happiness, surprise, joy, excitement, gratitude and comfort. I couldn’t believe my luck: this was the first time in nine months that I had picked up a feshly-baked baguette. Boulangeries may be open on every street, but they do not bake bread every hour.

I carried the baguette home like a trophy, hugging against myself so that no-one could take it away. At home, I bit right into it, hoping that it would melt in my mouth…and it did. I spread butter on slice after slice, while sipping mint tea with honey on the side.

Warm baguette – you made my day.