The Mall Is Not Your Friend

When I was teenager, indoor malls were just starting to pop up all over middle class suburbia.  I remember how shopping went from being a necessary task to entertainment seemingly overnight. Inside you could find food courts and gift shops, specialty clothing boutiques and art stores. There was something for everyone and every age. And just like that, the mall became something to do instead of somewhere to go when you needed the essentials.

Young people that made the mall their weekend hangout became known as “mall rats.”  And while the term was less than endearing, we accepted it. The mall became our home away from home. We used it to meet up with friends, eat fast food, even go to the movies as most malls at that time had adjacent cinemas.

But as we were enjoying this novel experience, something insidious was happening just below the surface. We were learning to embrace a new and unhealthy consumerist mentality. Slowly being conditioned to seek out these large retail structures as a way to pass the time. The glassy storefronts showing us all latest “things” we had to have, the tantalizing smells of tasty fast food, the promise of fun and entertainment.  Combined, a triple threat that would keep us voluntarily hostage in massive concrete buildings for hours while systematically separating us from our time and money.

(teen one)    “What do you want to do today?”

(teen two)     “Oh, lets just go to the mall. I’ve got a few bucks.”

Flash forward decades later and I realized I was feeding an addiction I didn’t even know I had. Whenever I was bored or lonely or restless, I’d find myself mindlessly meandering across the tiled floors of the local mall looking for my next retail fix. Something in a box or bag or jar to bring me happiness or make my life better in some way.  And maybe for a moment it did, but it wasn’t real and it never lasted.

It took me many months and a lot of restraint, but I was able to ween myself off the mall.  After almost 30 years of giving in to my habit, I quit the compulsory browsing and shopping that is at the heart of the contemporary mall mindset. I’m not going to pretend it was easy, but it was necessary in order for me to get back control of my space, my time, my health and my finances. You see, the mall was eating into all of those aspects of my life. What started out as a harmless pastime in my younger years became a drain on everything else around me. It sounds silly, but go ahead and ask yourself this question,

“How much time and money and energy am I wasting by using (insert the mall, Target, Walmart, or your favorite department store here) as entertainment, and what would happen if I stopped?”

You could find yourself with more time for the people you care about, that book on your nightstand, those projects around the house. Perhaps, you’d start paying down your credit cards or build up that emergency fund with the money you’d save. You might use the extra time to walk with your significant other or take up a new hobby. Maybe, just maybe…you could even begin to appreciate and enjoy the things you already have.


I Can’t Change Anyone But Myself

I’m a fixer at heart. I want to fix the world. When I see someone that’s doing it wrong (translation: That’s not the way I would handle that.) or inefficient (translation: My way is so much faster and easier!)…I want to jump in and rescue the poor souls from their tedious methods and propel them into the awesomeness that is “my way” of whatever it is they’re doing. Continue reading I Can’t Change Anyone But Myself

Please Put Your Phone Down!

On second thought, put it away.

Yes, yes…we all have moments when we check our messages, respond to a texts and have to take a call. But when does it all become too much?

Recently I lost my patience with a friend. This person came a long way to see me, yet spent meals, movies, and conversations bent over her phone following and talking to other people instead of engaging in the moment. Continue reading Please Put Your Phone Down!

Cut Out The “What If”

When I talk to friends about streamlining their possessions, one question always comes up. What if I need (or want) it sometime in the future?

While everyone has to decide what they are and aren’t going to make room for in their lives and in their homes, storing items away for that magical “what if” is almost always a recipe for disaster. Continue reading Cut Out The “What If”

Mindful Spending

There is an excitement that comes with purchasing something shiny and new. The rush begins when we start thinking about all the great things we are going to do with our new widget. We start to believe what the advertisers are feeding us. If only we own this (insert unnecessary purchase here), our lives will be more exciting. Friends will find us more interesting. Neighbors will envy us. We will be happier. None of this is true, however, and we usually find ourselves with less money and one more possession to add to the pile. Continue reading Mindful Spending

Letting Go Of Bad Relationships

At the very heart of living with less is the ability to let go. And yet that seems to be the hardest part. We tend to often tie our self-worth and identity to the things we own and the people we associate with. When that happens it feels like losing a bit of ourselves when we have to relinquish them. And while material things in and of themselves aren’t really destructive, hanging on to relationships that are no longer functional can be mentally and sometimes physically damaging. Continue reading Letting Go Of Bad Relationships

Permission To Say No

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend was telling me about an invitation she received to weekend away with her soon to be sister-in-law and her girlfriends. My friend was a bit frazzled. Between work and other obligations, she really didn’t have the time to go and was trying to figure out how to make it happen. So I asked her, “Why don’t you just tell her you can’t make it?” Her response, “But I told her I would. She’ll be upset. I don’t know what I would say.” Continue reading Permission To Say No