Switched On
0 comment Saturday, June 21, 2014 |
Amazing how perspectives and ideals can change, even when you don't think they can.
So, it turns out that what I've received is not my DLA (but DLA just needed my leave-to-remain details and that will be coming soon). What I received was my Carer's Allowance, and the DLA is coming. More money. It's not a huge amount by other people's standards I suppose, but it's HUGE to me. I didn't even know where to start with it. I thought I'd take some cash out, put it aside for food for the month (which I've done), I've looked into doing a special day out with sproggo as well as those days are so very rare for us. I'll try and take a friend, just to help keep an eye if I start to flag, but I think we both deserve a special summer treat after this very trying couple of years.
I also thought maybe, for the first time in a long time, I'd do some "me" stuff with the money. Mostly I was thinking clothes and maybe a facial or some nails; something completely frivolous which I haven't done in ages. No money, no time, no real desire or energy; then maybe eat in a restaurant somewhere which I've always wanted to go to, and do all those sorts of things which most people completely take for granted. I even planned to get that freezer I've been wanting, and a carpet cleaner as the carpet has desperately suffered over the past year.
So, armed with what was (for me) an insane amount of cash, I ventured forth, looking at clothes here, and clothes there, and shoes, and the whole consumer thing people are into and which forms a huge portion of our lives.
And I couldn't do it.
I was gratified to note that I've managed to lose enough weight that I can now wear size 8-to-9 UK size, but I'll never get any smaller - my feet have always been massive. I'm a boot person, not into the current "Ugg(ly)" fashion or the rather tatty looking ballet shoe thing. I found some Mary-Jane type ballet shoes which at least wouldn't look too naff after a few months (I hope!) and some steam-punk like old boots which reminded me dearly of a friend of mine who used to dress like a member of the band Rasputina; petticoats and corsets and pantaloons. That didn't cost much as it was all at a discount, so well and good, otherwise I probably wouldn't have bought even those.
But while I tried looking for clothes, or for accessories or just general "me" items...I couldn't do it. I couldn't get my head round spending money for an outfit which looked nice on the rack, but which really did not reflect anything like my own personal style (I loathe the current fashions). And then, of course, I'm not built on UK proportions so nothing was going to fit anyway, and I knew it. It wasn't even that much I suppose (�15 here, �20 there) but it just seemed like so much money for a mere skirt, or a top. And it wasn't even something I'd 100% be keen on, because they don't make the sort of stuff I like anymore unless I shop some of the gothic stores - and those don't cater to anyone over a size 12 it seems. And even then, I go back and forth - where would I wear this? And why?
At first I was a bit freaked out - had I lost my capacity for fun? Did I not find this whole shopping thing enjoyable anymore like I used to? What happened to me? I was almost determined to buy something at that point - anything - just to prove that I was now finally happy I actually had some extra cash. That's what people do, after all.
But I had a good look round at the people shopping, and it occurred to me that most of these people weren't having fun. Stressed out, phones pressed to the ear, shopping bags and crying children and bustlebustlebustle, bored shop attendants, everything entirely too busy with crowded streets and traffic and no one pausing after the rain we've had to just enjoy the sun.
This wasn't enjoyment - it was just habit. And like all habits, you can train yourself not to have one if it isn't suiting you. Training myself out of the spend-money habit has something I've been doing for a while now..and it's worked. I had zero inclination to buy stuff I didn't need or want, not even a "therapeutic mobile phone - the one I carry now turned out to be the girlfriend's hand-me-down as I discovered one day when I found my ex's messages to her on it. It would be thoroughly understandable if I wanted to just throw the damn thing in the bin and get something else...but all the features they were trying to sell me didn't make sense. I don't want a radio, internet access or a way to watch videos. It's a PHONE. But they don't make "just phones" anymore.
By the end of the day - which I had to call in early as the exhaustion was kicking in - I spent a mere fraction of the cash I had brought; I bought some hairdye (so I'm back to blue-black, rawr!) and I got some really nice conditioner, but I know I can make my own soap or bath products or creams - or I know people who make them - so I didn't bother. I have a sewing machine I purchased when my first windfall came in and I know where to get patterns, so I went home and found all my favourite, discontinued stuff which was selling for half off, and managed to even find a dress form 20% off. The rest of the money I've stashed; for those rainy days I always know may be coming right round the bend.
It feels a bit weird, but after all this time berating myself for not "sticking to my principles" - focussing on my "failure" of not cooking a home-cooked meal every single day because I'm honestly too exhausted to do so, or my house never gets the proper hausfrau clean it desperately needs, I haven't sewn my son's every garment or done quilting (I hate quilting) - I am a lot more switched on than most people tend to be. I garden, I grow food (more potatoes and peas harvested today), I make lemonade from scratch, I pick fruit and elderflowers and freeze it for later, I introduce my son to new foods and he enjoys home cooked meals all the time now. I should maybe cut myself a little slack.
So I've got some new shoes (and I can delegate my old hiking shoes for the garden now), I've got patterns on the way so I can make clothing which may not be cheaper than the M & S shopping rack but will certainly NOT look like the usual current run-of-the-mill, and my hair is back to its mysterious blue-black which has always looked so much better on me than my usual burnt auburnish in-betweeny-blackish colour. I mixed up my own facial out of ingredients from my stashes and my fridge and gave myself a thorough bodybrush and treatment with the oils and butters I have here on hand, using my own signature fragrances.
I'm still on the right track, and it will only get better. This is a good thing.