I Went on a Shopping Bender, and That’s Ok

Acknowledging My Mistake

I don’t know how to say this in a fancy way, so I will just spew and see what comes of it. Last weekend I shopped all weekend. Like, sun up and way past sundown. For two days, I shopped. There was no plan, no strategy, simply tunnel vision through a myriad of open shopping tabs on my browser. 

In retrospect, the conditions were ripe. I was sick, which not only brought my defenses down, it left me without the energy and focus for all the other things I wanted to do. And then there was the legitimate task at hand, a looming deadline to pick out all the finishes from floor to ceiling for our kitchen remodel. 

Shopping Is Too Accessible

Shopping is easy. It does not even require spending. This is part of the reason it can be so alluring. I amused myself with a low energy activity while imagining a gorgeous kitchenscape. Yet another reason things got out of hand; one of my first loves is art and interior design. Growing up on HGTV, I even remember watching the first White House Christmas Special. I have been dreaming of, well, my “dream kitchen” since I was a kid. It is thrilling to be on the cusp of this renovation. 

As the pattern goes, I was so excited when I started shopping. Which cabinet handles would I pick?! For years the relative silence of our home was punctuated by the periodic clatter of metal on tile when the existing knobs rusted themselves free from the doors. In the end though, I didn’t feel good. I was drained and unfulfilled with little to show for all the effort. I cannot recall the last time I shopped like that. In the past I would spend multiple weekends like this a month like this. Those weekends didn’t feel any better than the most recent. 

An Opportunity to Reflect

Yet, this experience was beneficial. I had not fully realized how far I have come and how different my weekends are now. So much has evolved since I started being conscientious of how I spend my time, no longer aimlessly shopping. It was also an educational experience. I became curious about the history of sinks and looked up differences and origins of Butler vs. Belfast designs. I fully embrace my nerdiness. 

As I type, it’s the following weekend. I am feeling physically better and happily writing before I shop. Yes, I still need to shop and make final selections for the kitchen. There are so many decisions. I am genuinely excited and also aware of how privileged I am to have the means to create a custom space from the ground up. This time though, I will move forward with a strategy in place.

The Strategy Moving Forward

No one asked, but I will summarize my shopping strategy.

First, I have prioritized the things that fulfill and keep me grounded, such as writing for this blog. Already this has helped me to reconnect to my values which has been unexpectedly inspiring. I am now looking for opportunities to incorporate reclaimed, vintage, small business artisan, or repurposed items into the space.

What: I have determined what is essential to be selected ASAP due to long lead times and how fundamental they are to the build (cabinets, countertops, appliances). Non-essentials (handles, some of the light fixtures, kitchen table and chairs) will wait until I have decided on the former. 

Where: The big ticket items are fairly fixed in where they will come from. I will start with online second hand markets and Etsy for the other items, in keeping with my values to incorporate as many elements as possible that will put less strain on the Earth. 

When and Time: I get two, hour long blocks to shop today (Saturday) with a minimum of 30 minutes in between those hours for a break to focus on other things. This will help to remind me that life exists outside of my burgeoning kitchen. Tonight I will determine how much time will be allotted for Sunday to complete my selections. I will keep the time blocks tomorrow and not start until I have done some of my vital Sunday tasks. 

Funds: The budget is already set, but with some flexibility in determining which items will be splurged on and which will be balanced out by economical choices. 

In case you missed it, that was my WWWTF strategy for shopping. You can learn more about my strategy to manage shopping addiction behaviors in this post. In all the time I spare not shopping, especially not shopping for this kitchen, I will create a free, downloadable journal for readers, based on the strategy.

Reconnecting to My Values

The cost I feel the most when I engage in shopping addiction behaviors is the lost time. As someone who compulsively returns or “binge shops,” I don’t always lose a lot of money, but instead the most valuable resource. There is so much I want to do and create. I want to spend my time and energy on those projects. The experience last weekend reminded me of why it is so important to keep going with my strategy, which allows me to focus on the things that truly fulfill me. Last weekend was also not as painful in the aftermath as it would have been in the past because I am getting better at remembering to be compassionate towards myself. That is what makes it “OK.” Not that I think it was a good thing, but simply something that happened, and I can move forward from it. I no longer strive to be perfectly consistent, but someone who consistently starts over when needed.

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