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Allegory of Abundance by Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601–1678) Social Distancing, Alone With Your Naked Kids in the 1600s

It’s Time to Break Out the Good Stuff

This is all So Weird

None of this is normal for us, yet it’s been expected for quite some time, and it’s happened before. (Although not for any of us…)

Yesterday the sun was shining, and everything felt normal and eerie at the same time. How can this be? My cognitive dissonance is experiencing dissonance.

Our entire neighborhood was outside yesterday, and we were all trying to decide if we could say hello. I played Pokémon Go with my son all over the neighborhood, all the while texting with my two beloved friend groups — one my dearest friends of the past 20 years, and the other a pack of supermoms I don’t think I could, or would want to, get through parenting life without. We got home and tried to figure out how much of ourselves need washing and what is left to clean phones and devices with.

When my friend showed up about three days into this and RANG OUR DOORBELL like some kind of madwoman, with the amazing gift of a (much needed, actually) Costco haul, I nearly jumped out of my skin. I did not know what to do. We negotiated what we thought was right, she set everything down on my steps and backed off about ten feet. I watched everything sit in the sun for a spell, and then went and fetched my last bucket of Lysol wipes. I remembered something about how the surface has to stay wet in the Lysol for a while, so I tried to make everything sopping, just a bit.

We’ve only been living this new life for about two weeks. TWO WEEKS. But the world feels forever changed. And, it is. My heart is aching for the people suffering right now, and my spirit is enraged by the big, orange, dangerous doofus actually bringing harm to people from the top of our government. When asked how my family is doing, if I answer honestly, or at least just a longer answer than “fine,” I’d say we are confused, sad, angry, scared, actually OK, privileged, and cozy.

I’m finding that experiencing scarcity in childhood has rippled through my life — from the pride of being scrappy and capable with a budget, to trust issues and fear-based decision making in my career and finances.

Being Scrappy AF

“At least there’s no spending $ during a lockdown!” read a text from a friend who also comes from a scarcity background. Yeah, but you know what, fuck that! Fuck my money detox month. I’ve already spent so much less than usual, and we are OK. We are going to buy some gift cards from some local businesses we love right now. Hell, it’s still mindful spending. I’m going to invest in their future and invest in some special gifts for future us right now. Because, right now my healthy family and I are in a whole house, with a goddamned working washer & dryer and other working appliances and all kinds of privilege.

This kind of investing only comes from privilege, which I must acknowledge, especially right now, and a shift in my thinking. A move away from scarcity thinking only started for me a couple of years ago when I underwent the gentlest, most supported type of mindfulness education I could have possibly imagined, called MBSR, or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. (There are currently many online options for this if you are curious for yourself.)

Nourishing myself through that practice was the first time I really, truly felt the abundance in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely felt like one lucky bitch — many, many times. But I never had faith in resources or in my own strength to weather any more trauma (still working on that, too!)

A tweet from Frances Barber about Mum saved for best and never enjoyed her finer things.
A tweet from Frances Barber about Mum saved for best and never enjoyed her finer things.
Saving for best? Guilty as charged!

Saving For…

Even in lockdown, I’m finding it hard to use fancy things that were gifted to me, saving them and treating them as holy objects rather than as useful objects. I could be at least passing them on to someone who may find them useful and possibly more importantly — special.

“Do you like goat cheese?” asked my good friend Lauren before The Unprecedent. “Oh yes, I do. I just don’t eat it because if we get fancy cheese in the house, then neither of us eat it, leaving it for the other…” I rambled at her. “So you won’t be the pig that eats all of the great cheese…” she added, knowingly. And, at this very moment, the award-winning Rogue Valley Creamery blue cheese my stepmother brought over is languishing in the fridge with a bit of lovely goat cheese. Recent-enough history suggests we will let it get fuzzy and inedible, then compost it.

“Maybe we eat the goddamn fancy cheese in 2020!” Lauren continued, “It’s like when Oprah said we should go ahead and burn the fancy candles.” “Seems like two things that could, all things considered, go well together.” I clumsily quipped in an attempt to quickly make light of the conversation and convert the topic to farts and poops as I am wont to do at (pretty much) all times. Lauren gracefully and mercifully ignored my weak-ass pun-attempt, and committed, right then and there, to burning that beeswax candle from Trader Joe’s until nothing was left!

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Ah the halcyon days of TWO WEEKS ago, when I could have purchased this Beeswax Blend Candle from Trader Joe’s- a “seasonal delight.” (Some might not even regard this as a very fancy candle, either, Lauren!)

Do you remember, before The Unprecedent, the unbearable magic of tidying? Isn’t that the next level after going “Full Kondo” anyway? Don’t just keep the joy-sparking stuff around you, but also USE it. REALLY use it, all the way up? Truly enjoy it. It’s so obvious and plain that if you save your things for the best time, then that time may never come.

Saving for best comes from a place that is not a place of joy. Maybe it was special the way that your mother saved the fancy china for special occasions. And, maybe it is still special to be putting the holiday decorations out at precisely the same time of year. (That may be even more important than ever this year, too.) But, I’m talking about something different. I’m talking about the “need” to treat yourself (buying the fancy candle) competing with self-talk around when you might “deserve” to treat yourself (saving the fancy candle.) Consumer spending persists, but enjoyment wanes. My saving for best comes from that bitch — scarcity brain. I rarely even buy the things. So much of my best on the shelf has the added weight of being a precious gift from a loved one.

Why not take that extra heap of energy I got from Ms. Kondo, declutter the not-so-best shit, and just use the best? Who knows, maybe the urge to buy more in those treat-myself moments might even cool down when and if Capitalism and society return to life as it was. (Kinda hope the silver lining to this year that just won't be is a sea change away from the cruelty and injustice of Late-Stage Capitalism!) I’d like to stop gathering new things and start using those pretty journals and nice pens, the good lotion, the incredibly soft sweater, the fancy pants, and eat the cheese with that lovely bottle of wine someone brought over ages ago that may not even be the kind that is meant to age anyway.

This year that wouldn’t be isn’t feeling like a time for setting resolutions, but I am throwing out some intentions and embracing some easy joy where I can get it. I never directly heard Oprah tell me to, but it sounds great. I’m going to re-attribute this to Lauren, so “let’s eat the cheese and burn the candles in 2020!” Who’s with us?

Okay, maybe not ALL the “fancy” candles! 😂😭 #weseeyougwyneth

Hannah Berner Tweets “If Gwenyth can believe that the scent of her vagina should be a $75 candle, you can believe in yourself
Hannah Berner Tweets “If Gwenyth can believe that the scent of her vagina should be a $75 candle, you can believe in yourself
Burn the fancy candles! Even you vagina candle hoarders!
Kashana tweets “Just imagining a bunch of dudes in front of their vagina candles, searching frantically for the wick.”
Kashana tweets “Just imagining a bunch of dudes in front of their vagina candles, searching frantically for the wick.”
Everyone who got those candles before the lockdown began better be burning these candles and LOVING them!

P.S. I miss you IRL, friends!

nerd with an MLIS

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