Die Zeit der großen Gesten: No-Buy-Neujahrsvorsatz …

ein glas voller münzen
Spare froh 🙂

Der Wunsch wäre dagewesen, alleine am Willen hat es offensichtlich gefehlt. Aus meinen zwei Low-Buy-Versuchen im Frühjahr und Sommer 2021 ist leider nicht viel geworden, mir fehlte fürs Durchhaltevermögen offensichtlich der Druck der großen Geste. Nun ja, hätte ich mir auch irgendwie denken können, war schließlich nicht das erste Mal, dass Vorsätze dieser Art mitten im Jahr einfach versandeten …

Wir wollen aber positiv gestimmt in ein neues Jahr voller neuen Möglichkeiten blicken, und deshalb vergesse (verdränge?) ich diverse gut gemeinte Misserfolge der letzten Monate jetzt einfach mal und darf stattdessen (mal wieder) einen neuen Vorsatz groß ankündigen: Mein NO-Buy-Halbjahr!

Klingt gar nicht mal so aufregend? Warum plötzlich No-Buy? Und wie jetzt, Halbjahr?

Ziele erreichen

Mein Sparziel stammt noch aus dem Jahr 2020 und wurde heuer ganz eindeutig NICHT erreicht. Dafür gibt es einige plausible Gründe. Zum einen war es im Low-Buy-Jahr veranschlagt worden, mit entsprechenden regelmäßigen Einlagen, die 2020 natürlich ebenso entsprechend großzügig waren. Zum anderen war meine ADHS-gestrauchelte Impulskontrolle im Jahr ohne Ausgabeneinschränkungen so standhaft wie gekochte Spaghetti – vor allem bei Büchern. Aber eben auch anderem. 

ein stapel englischer bücher auf einem regal
Book haul mit vielen schönen neuen Büchern diesen Sommer. Bisher habe ich erst eines gelesen. Das wird sich jetzt ändern (hoffentlich) 🙂

Während ich mein Emotional-Shopping-Problem dank meines Low-Buy-Jahres 2020 zu großen Teilen recht gut in den Griff bekommen habe, bin ich trotzdem immer noch recht sprunghaft und impulsgesteuert, wenn etwas Schönes meinen Namen ruft. Da ist die Wunschliste und das bewusste Konsumieren dann schnell mal vergessen, vor allem, wenn besagte Schönheit secondhand zu finden ist und es sich daher um ein Einzelstück handelt. Die Angst, dass es einem unter der Nase weggekauft wird, ist stärker als jeder gute Vorsatz – zumindest bei mir. 

Deshalb also das Motto für 2022: sparen. Genauer gesagt: Sparziel erreichen. Und da glücklicherweise nicht mehr so viel fehlt, sollte das ein einem halben Jahr locker zu schaffen sein. Und danach kann ja mal nachjustiert werden. Denn schließlich ist ein NO-BUY ja doch ein weitaus stärkerer Cut als ein Low-Buy, bei dem ich mir immerhin noch ein monatliches Buchbudget zugestanden habe. Dieses fällt in den kommenden sechs Monaten ebenso weg. Aus gutem Grund.

Bücherschätze entdecken

Wie ich es in meinem Post zum (gescheiterten) Low Buy Light letzten Juli schon angedeutet habe, besitze ich zahlreiche Bücher, liebevoll ausgesucht, aber noch nicht gelesen. Nachdem ich 2021 bim Buchkauf des Öfteren auch dezent eskaliert bin, sind da noch ein paar dazugekommen. Mein No Buy möchte ich nun dazu nutzen, hier etwas aufzuholen – sprich nachzulesen. Ich finde IMMER neue Bücher, die toll und interessant sind und deshalb unbedingt und SOFORT gekauft werden müssen. Jetzt ist erst mal Schluss. Jetzt wird gelesen. Weil ich das nämlich noch lieber mache als Bücher kaufen. Beim Lesen muss ich nämlich nicht unter Menschen 🙂

Am 1. Januar werde ich also wieder mal auf allen Shopping-Plattformen meine Login-Daten löschen, um mir selbst für schwache Tage ein Bein zu stellen. Wer die Working-Memory-Leistung eines Einzellers hat, kann sich nie im Leben auch nur an ein einziges Passwort jenseits von Computer und Bank-PIN erinnern. Zumindest ist es bei mir so.  Macht die Sache leichter. 

Und dann geht’s los in sechs Monate Shoppingpause – ich freu mich schon sehr. Auf erfüllte Sparziele, mehr Zeit für Dinge, die mir wichtiger sind – und dank Hyperfocus oft verlorengehen – und auf nachhaltige FOMO-Verhaltenstherapie. I can do this!

Ich wünsch euch ein schönes neues Jahr 2022! Passt auf euch auf und danke fürs Vorbeischauen 🙂

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From Low Buy to ‘Go, Buy’ to … No Buy!

 

As you may know by now, I’m a fan of grand gestures—at least when I have to start something new that might not be that easy for me. Back in early July, I wrote about wanting to start another Low Buy because I hadn’t reached my savings goal yet. Spoiler: Several months later I still haven’t. Which makes me less than pleased with myself, to put it mildly.

My time to shine (again)

While I usually don’t care about any symbolism of the new year, it worked wonders for me back in 2020 when I did my Low Buy year. It’s just easier to make a clear cut at the beginning of a new year. Everything feels fresh and looking forward to a promising future seems easy—easier than deciding to not spend money on stuff I don’t need in July. At least to me. 

So off I go into the new year with another budgeting plan to finally reach my savings goal from 2020… in 2022. Better late than never, as my gran likes to say. Contrary to my Low Buy Rules of 2020, I’m now going into a NO Spend Year, meaning that apart from items I actually need, I will buy nothing—not even books—for at least 6 months (I will post my updated rules in the coming days). There will be no book budget for me this time, for good reason. I have bought tons of fantastic books in 2021 thanks to excessive book shopping (see exhibit A in the picture below). I have been buying tons of excellent books for years, and somehow never found the time to read them because there are always NEW outstanding books to buy… Book budgets only perpetuate this endless cycle of book hauls so I need to be a bit more drastic in this matter. Instead of constantly getting new books, I plan on shopping and rediscovering my bookshelves, an endeavor I am excited about and that will take significantly longer than just 6 months. 

two piles of books on the floor
So many books, so little time … again and again.

Hence why a NO-Buy. 

Back to square one

I’m less of an emotional spender than I had been before my first Low Buy, but it’s not like I’m scoring high in the impulse control department either. There’s much room for improvement, and while I know that some of this relates to my fuzzy brain ADHD issues—impulse/self-control is not our forte—this doesn’t mean I can’t work on improving whatever small potential there is to improve.

Apart from that, I did a No Spend November back in 2020 and I really enjoyed it. Everything I wanted I put on my wishlist, wasting little time on even thinking about getting something because it was out of question that month. I had so much time on my hands to do things I love—or needed to do, like work on my thesis… Everything was so simple. I want that back. Which is why I start anew with a No Buy.

Why not for an entire year?

It may turn into a year-long adventure. But my primary incentive for this No Spend period is to reach my savings goal. Additionally, I’m happy to recalibrate my shopping routines once more—as stated before, there’s much room for improvement—and if I realize that this may take longer than just 6 months, I will extend my No Buy for as long as I need/want it.  

For now, I need a break. And since I seem to be too immature and incapable of taking this break whenever I need it at any given time, I use the advantage of a typical new start—the new year. Let’s see what it will bring…

 Wishing you all the best for 2022—thanks for stopping by, take care! 

Reading: “Must I go” by Yiyun Li

 

“Lilia decided to leave a record for Katherine and Iola. No, she wasn’t thinking of Molly’s accusation. Lilia had no interest in acquitting herself of unfounded charges. But Katherine and Iola deserved something more than confusion. They couldn’t just have stories from Molly.”

Spoiler (also: general SPOILER ALERT): Katherine and Iola (Lilia’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter) will be better off with stories from Molly. Because Lilia’s ‘record’ only adds to any sort of confusion possible. But let us start from the beginning. Which is actually quite strong—as is the ending. It’s the roughly 200 pages in the middle that are expendable. At least parts of it. 

Must I Go is my first book by Yiyun Li and I’m not sure if I will read another one by this author. After taking a few glimpses at other (prestigious) reviews I’m not sure if I’m just too lowbrow to ‘get’ it or if my reading of this novel is acceptable … We’ll see. 

“Must I read all this?”

As stated before, I could have done without two-thirds of the book. Mainly because they add no real meaning, nothing of interest to the story. What starts as promising retrospection on Lilia’s life turns out to be nothing more than an average meandering tale of a woman who tries to create meaning where probably none ever existed. 

In the beginning, a 3rd person narrator introduces us to 81-year-old Lilia Liska, who is living in a retirement home. Through cutbacks we get to know her family and the other main protagonist of the book, her much older lover and father of her first child, the 40-something misunderstood genius and wannabe-author Roland Bouley. From their conversations and Lilia’s actions, we find out that Lilia has always seen herself as being someone special, wanting to get away from her family’s farm and lead a different life. 

Meeting her first husband Gilbert during her affair with Roland—probably shortly before she fell pregnant with her oldest daughter Lucy—she sees in him little more than a boy her age, dreaming big. But he will become the most important man in her life, the one who loves and marries her even though she is carrying someone else’s child and still thinking about someone else’s body. The first thing Gilbert knows, the last he never finds out. They share a family, a house, a life together. After Gilbert’s death from cancer, Lilia will marry two more times, surviving both men. 

One could think all this is important. One is wrong. The most important issue in this book is Roland Bouley and Lilia’s teenage infatuation with him, something she obviously never overcame, otherwise this book would be a) shorter or b) more about her and her family and less about a man whose existence is just utterly bland, uninteresting, and—apart from the fact that unbeknownst to him he is the father of Lilia’s first child Lucy—irrelevant. 

Promising triviality in three parts

Divided into three parts, the first two sections—as described above—deliver a strong and promising start. Introducing us to the main characters—Lilia, her late husbands, her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, as well as Roland—it creates excitement and curiosity, we want to find out which secrets and stories Lilia wants to share with her granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Unfortunately, at least for me, this does not become clear. Maybe that’s because Lilia likes to tell stories the same way Roland tells them:

“Roland did not mention that he was married, nor that his ostensible motivation was to meet a few rare-book dealers in San Francisco, though the real reason was to take a break from his wife and recover from what he called a ‘bout of melancholy.’All this Lilia pieced together later, though only partially, from Roland’s diary. What did happen he had not recorded in detail. Roland could be a pain. So much of what mattered was missing. Not one of the stories he told was the full version.” 

Well, this already brings us to the third and main part of the book, Lilia’s reading and commentary of Roland’s published diaries. This part of the book starts on page 109 and continues to its ending on page 348. That’s a long section, especially when considering that it is full of dull characters: Sidelle Ogden, his older lover, portrayed as the poster girl of the noncommittal pseudo-philosophical flapper; Hetty, his wife, who is of course much too simple for his immense genius; several members of his family (dead and alive) who will never understand him the way his sensitive intellect needs to be understood …

The repetitive storyline follows the decline of someone who once saw himself as the next James Joyce, only to realize that he may not even make it to a nice little Edgar Rice Burroughs. And that’s just Roland’s diary. Adding to this are Lilia’s comments on those diary entries, comparing herself to Sidelle, to Hetty, to Roland, interpreting more than knowing, worse, hardly knowing anything at all. But this seems to escape her musings, since she sees herself as the one person who truly knows Roland Bouley…and I cannot help but ask myself WHY? They had a brief affair, not even a full-blown romance …

It may be because of their daughter Lucy and the fact that she committed suicide at age 27, leaving behind her daughter Katherine, then a baby, to be raised by her parents, Lilia and Gilbert. Thus, Lilia looks for traces of melancholy, depression, suicidal tendencies in Roland’s writing—is Lucy’s death his fault, genetically speaking? Or at least I assume she does, because her intensive reading of his trivial musings would not make sense otherwise. Maybe (Probably!) I’m just not romantic enough (I know I’m not) and that’s why I don’t get all this fuzzing about a minor character in one’s life. 

the blurb of the book Must i go by yiyun Li for you to read
For your reference—the blurb

Lucy, the daughter who killed herself and left behind her babydaughter Katherine—Lucy is another mystery in this book. The blurb promises the revelation of “long-held secrets of her life, and she returns inexorably to memories of her daughter Lucy.” Well, the book does most definitely not keep this promise. Lucy is mentioned a few times, but never positively. At best, Lilia is understanding of her eldest child. At best. However, most of the time she describes Lucy’s flaws, issues, the mistakes she makes. There’s no secret in sight, not to mention any revelations. This is a woman lamenting over the diaries of an old lover who happens to be the father of her eldest child. The problem child, the one that killed herself. Which leaves her traumatized, overwhelmed, angry. At least that’s what I assume may be an underlying issue of all this lamenting, of all this going back in time.  

Also, ignore the blurb that says Lilia adds “her own rather different version of events” to Roland’s diary. That is impossible because apart from Roland she knows not one single person mentioned in his writing. She adds her interpretations, her clumsy comparisons of herself to Sidelle, how similar they were, two “hard, tough women”. Mind you, she never met Sidelle, only knows her, sees her through Roland’s partly juvenile male gaze. Same goes for his wife Hetty. 

Conclusion: Zip it (or skip it, dear reader)

We (assuming you may have read some of my other reviews) know by now that patience is a virtue I don’t have. I like a story to progress, to reveal some meaning, to educate, entertain, enlighten, anything but not to frustrate and bore me. So while I really enjoyed the first roughly 100 pages, I had a hard time seeing any development, meaning, anything in the third part. 

Once again, I may be too lowbrow to ‘get it.’ This wouldn’t be the first time, nor the last. Maybe my lack of patience makes me careless enough to miss important points in the story that don’t reveal themselves easily. So I may miss deeper meanings while looking for some substance and obvious messages. Maybe. 

Maybe this just wasn’t the right book for me. But don’t let this deter you from giving it a try. And if you read it, tell me what you think of it 🙂

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care! 

Minimalismus macht das Leben leichter – oder?

Ich weiß nicht, wie es bei euch so aussieht, aber in meiner kleinen Bubble ist Minimalismus Queen – und das schon seit mehr als drei Jahren. Angefangen mit ein bisschen Pinterest-Inspiration und ersten Buchrecherchen kam mein Einstieg dann mit Lina Jachmanns Einfach leben, ein wunderschönes Buch voller Anregungen für Verkleinerungen das Alltags in allen möglichen Formen. Von da an gab’s für mich erstmal kein zurück; gebeutelt von Stagnation im akademischen Schaffen (selbstverschuldet, Motivationsloch in Kontinentalgröße) und bei beruflichen Veränderungen (nicht komplett selbstverschuldet, Leben eben) war mein Wunsch nach innerer Ordnung groß. Und da diese bekanntermaßen schwerer zu finden ist, lag das Schaffen äußerer Ordnung nahe. 

Minimalismus essen Angst und Kopfchaos auf

Für Menschen mit AD(H)S und Angststörungen kann äußere Ordnung helfen, innerlich zur Ruhe zu kommen. Wobei der Konjunktiv hier wohl eher übergangen und durch ein beherztes “hilft” ersetzt werden darf. Zumindest laut meiner englischsprachigen Literatur zum Thema. Was mit einem Umzug begann, hat sich über die Jahre zu therapeutischem Räumen gewandelt, das noch dazu voll im Trend lag (liegt?). Und in einigen Bereichen bin ich mittlerweile (etwas) ruhiger, entspannter und glücklicher mit meinen freien Flächen. 

Etwa im meinem Arbeitszimmer. Anfangs hole ich Tee, Kaffee, Wasser und räume alles, was ich für die anstehende Aufgabe benötig, raus. Dann arbeite ich, und am Ende räume ich alles wieder weg. An einen fixen Platz – damit ich es auch ohne Probleme wiederfinde. Klingt unglaublich einfach, ist es auch, und doch macht es einen großen Unterschied. Gerade wer so wie ich an mehreren Projekten oder Jobs arbeitet, kann eine klare Trennung gut gebrauchen. Sonst geht’s drunter und drüber – im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes.

Und auch bei der Klamottenwahl ist weniger in meinem Fall definitiv mehr. Zumindest teilweise. Schon vor einiger Zeit habe ich meine Farbpalette endgültig auf einige wenige Töne – schwarz, weiß, grau, jeansblau – beschränkt und fahre damit wunderbar. Zugegeben, das war nicht die größte Herausforderung, ich bin generell ganz gerne ein wenig unsichtbar. Aber seit ich mich bewusster mit meiner Farbwahl beschäftige und mit entsprechend größerer Umsicht einkaufe, macht sich das nochmehr bezahlt – in vielerlei Hinsicht. Praktisch alles kann kombiniert werden und meine Accessoires (also Taschen, Rucksäcke, Haarbänder) passen ebenso beliebig in diesen Reigen der vereinfachten Kleidsamkeit. Ich brauche zwar immer noch ab und an ein wenig, um was Passendes zu finden, aber das liegt dann an meiner Launigkeit und nicht der Komplexität der Klamottensituation. 

So viel zu den Benefits meiner Minimalismus-Interpretation. Nach ein paar Jahren zeigt sich nun aber doch auch der Haken an der Sache …

Hatte ich nicht mal …?

Ich habe über die Jahre viel ausgemistet. Sehr viel. Und 80 Prozent der Sachen gehen mir nicht ab, weil ich mich nicht mal ordentlich dran erinnern kann. Meine working memory brauche ich tatsächlich notwendigst für wichtigere Dinge. Aber an die restlichen 20 Prozent muss ich doch immer mal wieder denken. Und auch wenn ich davon nach mehrmaligem Anprobieren, Ausprobieren und Negieren wahrscheinlich immer noch gute zehn bis 15 Prozent ein weiteres Mal ausmisten würde, bereue ich es, dass ich diese Wahl nicht nochmal habe. Vielleicht ist es tatsächlich mein inneres Nachkriegsenkelkind – “Das behalten wir mal auf, können wir ja vielleicht nochmal brauchen” –, aber ein paar Teile würde ich jetzt wirklich wieder gerne anziehen. Weil ich sie gerne mochte, und sie nur aufgrund diverser Rhetoriken a’la “was du ein Jahr nicht trägst, fliegt raus” weggegeben habe. Ohne zu beachten, dass die eigenen Vorlieben eben manchmal etwas länger als ein Jahr auf etwas keine Lust haben – was aber noch lange nicht heißt, dass ich es nie wieder tragen möchte. Tja, dumm gelaufen. 

Deshalb machen meine ausgemisteten Sachen mittlerweile etwas länger Station im Keller. Weil wir den Platz haben und ich lieber mal nach eineinhalb Jahren ein Kleid oder ein Shirt hole, dass mir doch einfach nicht aus dem Kopf will, auch wenn ich es das letzte Mal vor zwei Jahren getragen habe. Meine Bücher gebe ich ja auch nicht einfach weiter, wenn ich sie mal gelesen habe. Also einige wenige schon. Aber da bin ich mir dann immer ganz sicher. So sicher möchte ich mich auch mit anderen Dingen fühlen.

drei bücherregale voller bücher und pflanzen
So etwas wie “zu viele Bücher” gibt es einfach nicht …

Das gefällt mir irgendwie echt gut … 

Trotz Kurzsichtigkeit sehe ich wie jede andere auch immer wieder Dinge, die mir gut gefallen, mich interessieren, mich reizen. Und damit meine ich nicht nur Bücher. Ob Schuhe, Tasche, Rucksack, Klamotte – alles Sachen, die auch Spaß machen. Mir zumindest. Was ich mir in der Hochphase meines Simplify-Minimalismus nicht recht eingestehen wollte. Vielleicht war es mir aber auch einfach noch nicht so klar. 

Unabhängig von diversen minimalistischen Bestrebungen war ich nie DIE Trendgöttin schlechthin. Dafür war ich meist etwas zu sparsam (sprich: geizig) – Trendteile kosten und müssen in der Regel bereits in der nächsten Saison ersetzt werden, weil Trend eben. Und auch etwas zu gemütlich – wenn ich mal was gefunden habe, in dem ich mich wohlfühle, dann bin ich da schon mal gerne länger zu Hause, trendtechnisch gesehen.  

Außerdem bin ich mittlerweile alt genug, dass ich manche Dinge schon in ihrer ersten oder zweiten Runde miterleben durfte. Da ist die Gefahr der FOMO teils überschaubar. Schließlich machen mich Schulterpolster auch 25 Jahre später nicht hübscher oder glücklicher; Acid Wash und Batikmotive auch nicht.

Long story short: ich finde Mode trotzdem ganz spaßig. Ich mag es jetzt nicht kunterbunt, übertrendig und schweineteuer betreiben (Preloved sei Dank), aber ich kann mich in so vielen Formen und Variationen immer wieder neu finden und wohlfühlen, dass ich darauf nicht verzichten will. Klar ist die Klamottenwahl leichter, wenn es nur eine und nicht fünf blaue Jeans gibt. Und nur ein Shirt, ein Pulli usw. Aber es ist mir eben auch einfach zu langweilig. Ich mag die Abwechslung – schließlich lebe ich nur einmal, und das darf auch mal unsimplified Spaß machen 🙂

Minimalistisch? Nachhaltig? Beides? Was jetzt …?

Neben meinem Interesse an Minimialismus und Ausmisten bemühe ich mich im Kleinen ja auch immer wieder um die Planetenrettung. Dass ich das als Einzelperson nur äußerst marginal in der Hand habe, ist Fluch und Segen zugleich – welch Verantwortung! Trotzdem versuche ich mein Bestes, wie viele von uns, mal mehr und mal weniger erfolgreich. 

Im unminimalistischen Spiel mit Mode, Accessoires und co. heißt das für mich, dass ich hauptsächlich secondhand shoppe. Durchaus auch online – und damit nicht rundum nachhaltig – aber für mich ist es in diesem Zusammenhang wichtiger, dass ich ein klitzekleinwenig mithelfe, Kleidermüllberge zu verhindern. Es ist für mich ein Kompromiss, mit dem ich am besten leben kann: Ich kaufe gebraucht, also wird etwas nicht weggeworfen. Ich stärke Geschäfte und Plattformen, die diesen Kreislauf fördern. Und für mich selbst werden teils Produkte von besserer Qualität erschwinglicher, weil eben secondhand. An dieser Stelle nicht zu verwechseln mit vintage, das auch ganz wunderbar, allerdings oft ein wenig teurer und gestylter ist. Aber das ist eine andere Story. Schulterpolster, Acid Wash und so. 

Und bevor ich hier einen Hauch von Heldin des Gebrauchtwarenshoppings annehme: Das zuvor bemühte “hauptsächlich” heißt genau das und nicht “immer”. Manchmal sind die Dinge nämlich auch neu, aus verschiedenen Gründen. Dann bemühe ich mich vor allem um Langlebigkeit, sprich, ich kaufe Dinge neu, die ich viele Jahre tragen will. Basicshirts etwa, aber auch Unterwäsche (obviously) – und auch anderes. Wenn es zu allem anderen passt, darf es einziehen. 

Bäume in der Herbstsonne fotografiert
Einfach mal ganz mindfully in die Herbstsonne blicken – oder?

Opium für den Westen?

Abseits von Kunstrichtungen und buddhistischen Gedanken ist Minimalismus im Sinne von The Minimalists & Co. eine recht westliche bzw. wohlhabende Angelegenheit. Ein Mensch muss erst einmal so viel besitzen können, dass sie sich davon quasi erschlagen fühlt – ein Problem, dass in vielen ärmeren Ländern der Welt abseits Europa, USA, Kanada, Japan und Südkorea womöglich gerne mal erlebt werden würde. Mir hier in hunderten Zeichen Gedanken darüber machen zu können, wie viele Bücher, Schuhe, Hosen oder Rucksäcke ich laut Marie Kondo und The Minimalists eigentlich besitzen darf, ist also an sich ein Privileg. Ich bemühe mich, das nicht zu vergessen. Hilft niemandem, ändert nichts an der Gesamtsituation, bringt aber etwas mehr Bodenhaftung, wenn es zu pseudophilosophisch wird.  

Die vielgepriesene Besinnung aufs Wesentliche, die Minimalismus fördern soll, bringt übrigens nicht selten ein wenig Mindfulness und Meditationsempfehlungen mit sich. Macht Sinn. Wer gut drauf ist, hinterfragt selten den eigenen Lebensstil. Auch mir hilft Meditation, meine fuzzy brain zu beruhigen. Innere Ordnung und so, hatten wir schon. Der Rundum-Fokus auf die eigenen inneren und äußeren Befindlichkeiten birgt allerdings auch die Gefahr, ein wenig zu entrücken, poetisch gesprochen. Wir helfen uns selbst, um mit Situationen umgehen zu können, anstatt die Situationen selbst, die Selbsthilfe überhaupt erst nötig machen, zu ändern. Klingt kompliziert, ist es auch – ein Artikel des Guardian mit dem Titel “The Mindfulness Conspiracy” hat mich in diesem Kontext zum Nachdenken gebracht. Ich bin für mich selbst in diesem Zusammenhang noch nicht klüger geworden, wollte diesen Punkt aber nicht unerwähnt lassen. Schließlich darf eine kritische Betrachtung des Themas Wohlfühl-Minimalismus auch mal über meine eigene Nasenspitze hinausgehen. Wenn auch nur in zwei kurzen Absätzen …

Bücher gehen immer

Weil ich es – soweit ich es sehen kann – übrigens noch nie so deutlich klargestellt habe, sei gesagt: Minimalismus im Bücherregal war NIE Thema bei mir. Ich räume zwar immer mal wieder um und miste im Zuge dessen auch mal aus, aber das meint dann ein klitzekleines Bücherstäplchen, das weiterziehen darf. Bücher horten ist oft weitaus angesehener – nicht zuletzt im Kopf einer Literaturwissenschaftlerin und ihres Literaturwissenschaftler-Held-des-Herzens – als Gewissenskonflikte über alte Jeans, die vielleicht doch noch ein weiteres Jährchen im Keller hätten bleiben sollen. Was mit ein Grund sein mag, warum ich mich zwar zwar seit Jahren mit einer Spielart von Simplify-Minimalismus auseinandergesetze, diese in einem anderen, mir sehr wichtigen Bereich, jedoch überhaupt nicht anwende. 

Die eigenen Vorurteile sind doch immer wieder die Schönsten …

Danke fürs Vorbeischauen und Lesen, alles Gute 🙂

“Minimalism makes things easier” … – Does it really?

I’ve written about my interest in minimalism because of my ADHD and also during my Low Buy Year, when I worked on my obsession with retail therapy. What started with an inspiring (German) book—“Einfach Leben” by Lina Jachmann—roughly three years ago grew to become an approach to life, at least in parts. And in certain instances, it helped me tremendously and still does. But—and there is a BUT that I simply can’t ignore—it’s not the answer to everything. At least not for me. 

The upsides of minimalism and decluttering

My ADHD fuzzy brain works much better in a clean and ordered environment, especially when it comes to thesis and other writing/thinking/research work. I keep my desk clear of clutter, cleaning up anything I needed for a task so I can start anew the next day. Storing my documents and papers in a suspended file box instead of stacking them in thematic piles makes my thesis life much easier (not that it adds to any progress, but anyway…). It also takes up less space. 

Getting dressed is much easier since I made the conscious decision to stick to just my favorite colors—black, white, grey, and blue—and only add dots of color here and there. I’ve never been a very colorful person to begin with, but often bought certain colors on impulse without thinking when and where I would wear it and how I would combine it. Thoughts that may feel inspiring to the average fashionista are dreadful for decision fatigue prone ADHD fuzzy brains like me. It’s not that I dress like a chessboard, but with nearly everything being easily combinable, getting dressed isn’t such a drama anymore (at least most of the time).

Decluttering felt and still feels great. Giving away stuff I don’t need or want anymore and freeing up space—sometimes for something new, sometimes not—makes life feel just a tad lighter. And who doesn’t love feeling lighter, no matter in which context? Our cellar is less chaotic, my closet and shoe rack are orderly and our kitchen is filled with things we can use daily, not just once in a while on special occasions. I love it. And Wonderguy to this day hasn’t lodged a complaint. 

Last but definitely not least, it made shopping cheaper, more organized, and much easier. During my Low Buy year, I learned to purchase things I really need or at least could put to good use, NOT things I just want because they look nice. I have been budget-conscious all my adult life, so it’s not that I ever randomly bought everything that didn’t fall off a shelf before—I’m used to think hard about if I can afford something. Problems arise in the moment any sales are on or I see something cheap on any pre-loved platform and flea market. Then my inner post-war grandchild kicks in. I can hear my granny say “well, now look what we have here, that’s a bargain” and off I go without giving it a second thought. I still get this inkling today, but most of the time I’m able to hold back and indeed think twice before purchasing something …

picture of motivational quote on a pinboard
No matter what, let’s try our best 🙂

The downsides of minimalism and decluttering

While decluttering and the Marie Kondo trend is all nice and well, the moment you start throwing out stuff you could probably need again, it turns against you. Being brought up to act and think economically, I used to keep certain apparel—like jeans, jackets, shoes that were a bit more costly or that I loved at some point—so that I could rediscover them to a later date. This has worked great for 15 years. Along came The Minimalists and Marie Kondo … and now I can still think of at least 4 pairs of jeans, a winter parka, 2 blouses and 2 bags I dearly miss and regret giving away. Of course, I can barely remember most items I decluttered, so this means it worked like a charm. Still, I should’ve kept certain items, just in case. Solely because The Minimalists (and their flock) don’t like ‘just in case’ items, this doesn’t mean I have to follow them. But we live and learn, obviously. 

Fashion. I love fashion, even though I probably don’t look like it. I’ve never cared much about short-timed fads and rather focused on building a wardrobe filled with items I can wear for years to come. Something that is now a maxim of sustainable fashion to me felt just natural most of my life because it’s the logical and economical thing to do. Needless to say, there were bad buys, and I wasn’t always as intentional about my purchases as I would have wanted to be—hence, the Low Buy Year. But overall I’m more Coco than Karl, more Carolyn than Sarah Jessica, more background than front row—and I still love garments, bags, backpacks, and shoes. Minimalism helped me to establish my basic fashion rules and clean up my closet, and it also makes getting dressed easier. But I still love to choose between different pairs of jeans, black dresses and grey turtlenecks. Which is no big deal, but it took me a while to understand this and grant my inner maximalist some space in my closet (and my mind) 🙂

I never decluttered or minimized my library—storing all my books digitally never even crossed my mind, no matter how many minimalists praised this option in their books. Though this is not true; I have decluttered some books and gave them away, but that’s something I do every few years to make space for new books. After ending my Low Buy in January this year, one of the first things I did was bulk buying books. And I haven’t really stopped since … Though thanks to my book budget—yes, books even had their own budget—I didn’t run out of new reading material during my Low Buy Year. I want to cut back a bit in the months to come, mainly because I got soooooooo many great books I now want to read them without getting distracted by fresh additions to my shelves. But we’ll see how that works—rediscovering one’s shelves is one of the greatest joys of a bookworm like me!

three bookshelves full with books and plants
One can never have too many books …

Conclusion: Make it work your way—I guess

I have thought about writing this post for some time. Minimalism as a lifestyle or philosophy has been around for some time—in the wealthy West, at least. After all, most people all over the world live a sort of minimalist lifestyle not only without knowing this, but more importantly, without wanting it. Socio-critical thoughts aside, minimalism has been around long enough to arrive in mainstream culture, at least according to an intriguing new video by Matt D’Avella. It proved its point and helped many people, including myself. 

That does not mean that we have to follow it to the t. Like with so many other ideas and philosophies, it is not so much what other people make of it than how we make it work for ourselves. Some things are simply impossible to do right now—as much as I would love to ditch my smartphone and install a landline (without an answering machine), I can’t do it for professional reasons. Others do not fit our individual lifestyle—going digital with all my books definitely is no option for me. And then there is the fact that every one of us only has this one life—and we should enjoy it the way we want to as long as we do not harm others (and the planet too much).

Therefore, I will stay alert about what I add to my wardrobe (though I just purchased a trillion turtlenecks on my favorite pre-loved platform because I had wanted some for years). I will think long and hard if I truly need something and how it works with what I already have. I will still make bad buys, because I’m human. 

And I will buy books. Lots of 🙂

Reading Shorties: “Things Remembered and Things Forgotten” by Kyoko Nakajima

“For the sewing machine, with a dignified bearing and fated to be stationary, the shock all but caused it to lose its reason for existence. The 100-30, warped by the flames and with its needle broken, was embedded in the ground. It was unlikely a sewing machine could survive sich a calamity.” [From “The Life Story of a Sewing Machine”]

“After his death, Kenta had initially been unaware he’d become a ghost. He would search out his old friends and run over, calling out to them. But he was invisible, apparently, even when standing right in front of them. Shouting didn’t help either – he was inaudible, too, it turned out, and it only made him more dejected.” [From “Kirara’s paper plane”]

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Japanese literature. I started reading more contemporary but also classic Japanese works in recent years. Yoko Ogawa, Yukito Ayatsuji, Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Sayaka Murata, Mieko Kawakami, Hiromi Kawakami, Junichiro Tanizaki, Kikuko Tsumura were the authors I read, and there was only one book – “Breast and Eggs” by Mieko Kawakami – that I didn’t like (though not the whole book, but that’s another story …). As I have stated before, when writing about my reading experience with Tanizaki, Tsumura, and others, I find the Japanese art of storytelling to be rather soothing and even refreshing. For the most part, it is a quiet and sometimes even detached way of narrating the stories of the protagonists. Detached in a sense of respectful distance to grasp a bigger picture, to avoid rushing to a hasty judgment, letting the story unfold itself over the pages of the book, not over dispensable adjectives or use of too much emotion.

You may have already guessed, I’m having a hard time finding the right words for explaining why I enjoy losing myself in Japanese fiction – and why I often consciously choose WHEN to do this. It is a sort of withdrawal from everyday life, ever-present academic work, tedious tasks, dubious work assignments, and living with a brain that is constantly five steps ahead of me – in all directions. So one has to choose literary moments of silence carefully …

Anyway, in Things Remembered and Things Forgotten, Kyoko Nakjima grants my fuzzy brain and weary mind another wonderful break. Ten stories set different moods and relate in different ways to a Japan (obviously) never known to me, possibly long forgotten by some of its residents. It is a book about memory, how we want to remember, and how easily some things are simply forgotten … or lost.

blurb of things remembered and things forgotten flatlay black background
Take a look at the blurb.

While I chose to quote one story that refers to someone coming back as a ghost, the supernatural is not always taking center stage. Though when it is, I had a chance to catch a glimpse into the rich cultural and religious history of Japanese customs, like in “The Last Obon.” Reading about Tokyo’s history and different neighborhoods too was something I enjoyed – even though I had to google some photos because I was not satisfied with the images I came up with within my mind.

“Things Remembered and Things Forgotten” and “When my Wife was a Shiitake” gave me a warm fuzzy feeling deep down inside – I adore these stories. “Global Positioning System”, “Kirara’s Paper Plane”, and “The Pet Civet” are equally heartwarming tales though they may not seem to be so at first glance. With “Childhood Friends” you will see an interesting twist; “A Special Day” and “The Harajuku House” offered me some special insight into Tokyo neighborhoods. “The Life Story of a Sewing Machine” and “The Last Obon” allow us to catch a glimpse into Japan’s history and traditions.
This, in a few short sentences, is my takeaway from this book. I am already looking forward to rereading it in a few years.

Sounds interesting? Take a look – I highly recommend it!

Reading: “Olive” by Emma Gannon

book cover black background Olive by Emma Gannon
Paperback edition of Emma Gannon’s “Olive”

“I was suddenly worried about losing Bea. Terrified that this was the start of the downhill slope. The downhill slope to adulthood and suburbia and staying on the sofa 24/7. Was she going to be getting excited about Tupperware parties next?
It felt like something had shifted. I felt another stab of guilt for judging Bea’s life decisions so harshly. But we all know the fear that once your friends start to grow their family, you might become less needed and, then, fully redundant.”

Olive is in her early 30s and now that she had ended a nine-year relationship with Jacob because of not wanting children, she feels shaken and emotional. It’s the time in life when one needs her best friends. Olive, Bea, Cecily, and Isla were a tight-knit group since their schooldays. But now, everything is different, feels different, more complicated. Bea is married with three kids, Cecily is expecting her first kid and Isla is going through IVFs because she desperately wants a child. Needless to say, Olive feels less than understood and alone. This may be the reason she wants to find out why exactly she doesn’t want kids and if this – if she – is healthy and okay even if she doesn’t want children of her own. 

Told in time jumps – when the girls were younger, during Olive’s time with Jacob and their present-day lives – Emma Gannon constructs the personality of a woman who simply never ticked the way mainstream cis society expects women to tick.
Olive, I feel ya – though I never questioned my non-existent urge to breed. Even as a child I hardly ever was a doll mom, but rather a doll gran or aunt – not being directly responsible felt much more natural to me than being a mother.

But what comes naturally to some poses questions for others. Questions Olive not only wants to explore for herself, but also for her research into childfree millennial women as a magazine editor. All the while Olive tries to find her place in the lives of her friends, lives that are so different from hers – thanks to them having or wanting children.

Childfree by choice

From the moment I read about this book I knew I had to get it. I’m happily childfree by choice, so I felt Olive (or Emma) were pretty much talking directly to me. Being in my late 30s, I’ve already seen a bit of breeding and what this means for childfree people – or rather, especially childfree women.
It’s about
friends you don’t ever see without their kids anymore; friends you have to block on social media because as a matter of fact, no, your child is not THAT cute and no one needs 50+ baby/toddler photos a week (least of all the kid itself – ever heard of privacy rights?); friends you hardly see anymore because you don’t have kids and they prefer to meet up with other mommy pals as this is “so much nicer for the kids and you wouldn’t find this very interesting anyway” (true); friends with kids who love the fact that you’re childfree because they feel like their old self when spending time with you. And the list goes on – others who are childfree by choice may recognize some of the things I mentioned or have some additions from their own experiences. 

Don’t for a moment mistake this book to incite anger, ignorance, or misunderstanding against either position. Creating Olive, Gannon opted to focus on a group of women that often get overlooked, especially in mainstream culture, literature, and perception. Women who choose to not have kids, maybe even ending otherwise great relationships because their partners want kids, are hardly ever seen or heard. Childfree women usually ‘have a reason’ for not having kids: biological reasons, mental reasons, never having found the right partner, etc. Women not wanting kids because they simply don’t want the obligations that come with it, don’t like children, prioritize other things in their lives … hardly ever make mainstream headlines. They are not part of the cultural narrative of a ‘good woman’. With Olive, we meet such a woman. Someone who has no other reason to not have children than not wanting to procreate.

blurb on the back of emma gannon's olive
Interested? Read the blurb and find out if “Olive” might be a good book for you 🙂

A different kind of happy ending

With recommendations from Elizabeth Gilbert and Sophie Kinsella on the cover, rest assured that Olive finds the answers she is looking for. Even though some things change, people change, Olive and her friends will find their ways. This sometimes seems a bit too easy, but on the other hand, I appreciate Gannon not opening up additional problem areas, instead focusing on the one main issue. After all, this is no drama, this is a coming-of-later-age book for a millennial childfree by choice woman.

Olive felt like a friend I miss even though I never met her. I still sometimes feel a bit lost when it comes to old friends – friends I hardly see anymore because they are moms (and dads). Though I do have friends that don’t have kids, it’s not that easy to find them once you’re older than, say, 25, 30. Especially above 35. I love my friends, no matter if they have kids or not. But I can only go so far pretending I’m interested in the absolute unbelievable brilliance AND cuteness of their offspring – because, #sorrynotsorry, I don’t really care that much. And reading Olive’s story once again made me feel a bit more okay about this. Because it’s one thing not having kids. It’s another thing for a woman (for heaven’s sake) not to care about children at all …

Before I end, let me thank Emma Gannon for taking on one of my favorite arguments when it comes to having kids: the ‘who will take care of you when you are older’ question. Let me quote Olive on this:

“People who say ‘Oh but who will look after you when you’re old?’ always assume that you’d be friends with your kids later in life, and that they would live in the same country as you. But, actually, they might avoid you like the plague or badly fall out with you. It’s happened to me with my dad. He moved away, left my mum. My relationship with my dad is nonexistent and I don’t think having a baby is a one-way ticket to having forever happiness or a new best friend.”

Same here. I have no relationship with my biological father and I sure as hell don’t care about him. Not to wish him anything bad but as far as I’m concerned I don’t have to ever see him again. So much for “taking care of you in old age” …

Olive is a funny and interesting millennial take on the issue of women who decide to not have children. While it may lack a philosophical depth that some prefer in regards to such important topics, I love its easygoing, ironic, and questioning tone. In the end, it’s not that difficult (referring to childfree by choice): either you want it or you don’t. Whatever it is is fine – you do you 🙂

Reading and loving the Gower Street Detective Series

I mentioned it before (years ago) and I will gladly repeat myself: when I’m struggling with mental health issues, I love myself a good cozy mystery … or two or three. Starting with J. B. Fletcher and the Murder, She wrote cozy mystery book series, over the last few years I’ve accumulated a nice little collection of (more or less) cozy mystery, classic crime novels, and historical crime fiction with a humorous twist. What I love most and usually seek out are mysteries with female leads. Which brought me to M. R. C. Kasasian’s Gower Street Detective Series.

Welcome March Middleton

Looking for historical mysteries, Goodreads came up with quite a few suggestions, among them the Gower Street Detective series with March Middleton. Describing it as a book “for those who like their crime original, atmospheric, and very, very funny” I had to get the first book of this series that contains five books in total.

But who is March Middleton? Most importantly, she is our narrator. Having lost her father a year prior, March joins her guardian and godfather, Sidney Grice, in London. Trained as a nurse to assist her father, a renowned surgeon, March has seen her fair share of blood and gore. Therefore, being well-prepared, she starts work side by side with Sidney Grice, London’s foremost personal detective – whether he likes it or not. Set in the early 1880s in Victorian London, this leads to interesting situations, especially when encountering rather old-fashioned characters. Never one to shy away from a challenge, March is determined to prove her critics wrong. While doing so, she records their adventures in five books – except for book three, Death descends on Saturn Villa, which is in part narrated by the grandmaster of crime-solving, Mr. Grice himself, due to March being impaired by some slight inconveniences.

Sidney Grice is, of course, another adaption of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. What distinguishes him from Mr. Holmes is his dry humor – even though he would not necessarily think of himself as ‘funny’ and prefer a simple ‘brilliant.’ March, as stated before, has a medical background working as a nurse with her father during wars and uprisings in India and Afghanistan.

Sounds familiar? It sure does. And readers who start this series expecting it to be close to home will be rather disappointed. M. R. C. Kasasian blends a solid and at times tricky mystery with – at least in my opinion – a good sense of humor, most evident in the dialogues. Throughout the series, the atmosphere of the books oscillate between hilarious exchanges and banters between some recurring characters and enthralling scenes of mischief, harm, and death. Which keeps the reader on edge while also granting her some funny and cheerful moments to lighten the mood.

five boooks with blurbs lying on a table author is mrc kasasian
Take a look at the five blurbs to get a first impression 🙂

‘Miss Middleton is always straight to disappoint’ – welcome Molly

One hilarious and important recurring character is Molly, Sidney Grice’s maid. Always eager to look busy and act as the perfect maid, Molly is one of my favorite characters. Demonstrating extraordinary conversational skills, she definitely is the funniest character throughout all five books. Not sure what I’m talking about? Let’s take a look at my favorite Molly moments:

This is Molly’s first appearance picking up March Middleton from the train station (in The Mangle Street Murders):

‘I’m very sorry to keep you waiting, but we had a dead duchess to deal with, and she was a lot more trouble dead than when she was alive.’

Sometimes, she is one step ahead even of Mr. Grice:

Her employer seized the telegram and ripped it open. ‘Tell the boy there is no reply.’
Molly put her hand to her mouth. ‘Oh sorry sir. I told him to go when he came. Do you want me to run after him and tell him not to wait?’
Her employer gazed fixedly at her. ‘You have put the cause of female suffrage right back where it belongs,’ he told her and she grinned again.
‘Thank you, sir. I do my best.’

She also prefers clear orders instead of vague requests and impresses with her verbal versatility:

‘There’s a man walking up and down outside,’ I told her and Molly guffawed.
‘No there ain’t not, miss. There’s thousands of them.’
‘This one is just outside the front door.’ I buttoned her collar. ‘Please call him in.’
I returned to the study.
‘Oy, you … yes you, pacey man with the big nustache. Bring your coat in with you inside it,’ Molly roared.
‘She get’s worse,’ Sidney Grice groaned.
[…]
‘That man what was walking up and down outside and Miss Middleton made me bring in,’ Molly announced disapprovingly before something lit up in her brain. ‘Oh it’s you, Sergeant Porridge.’ She beamed. ‘I didn’t not recognize you without your clothes on.’ She clamped her mouth. ‘Your uniform, I mean.’


‘I didn’t not think you cared for Roaming Cathlicks.’ Molly folded her arms with the air of a doorman who had been instructed to not admit anyone.

Last but not least, Molly is a very busy woman:

The bell rang three times before Molly got to the front door and I followed at her heels for its summons sounds urgent. [Inspector] George Pound stood on the steps.
‘Yes?’ Molly demanded.
‘I am on my way to the Midland,’ he announced over her head, ‘and I thought you and Mr. Grice might want to be there.’
‘Oh I ain’t not got no time for that.’ Molly sighed. ‘Take Miss Middleton instead.’

These little banters present delightful distractions to the otherwise often dark and gory murder stories March Middleton and Sidney Grice get involved in. Not to say that March and Mr. Grice don’t have entertaining and ambiguous conversations too. It’s just that Molly adds a sort of comical twist to the books that would otherwise be missing. One could say that these are low puns and more often than not indeed they are. But since I turn to this sort of literature in less than ideal times, I don’t mind laughing about these jokes – I’m happy to laugh at all 🙂

Five books so far …

stack of books on a shelf
Five books and some cat hair …

The Gower Street Detective series comprises five titles, with the first being published in 2013 and the last in 2018. So far it seems that M. R. C. Kasasian isn’t planning on writing any more parts which makes me rather sad. I’m always happy when I find a book series I really like (which doesn’t happen all too often) and I miss Mr. Grice’s bitchiness and March’s ironic pragmatism. As a narrator she delights her readers with witty remarks, dry humor, and her sense of female camaraderie, always connecting with strong and inspiring women of her time.

Does this series portray the Victorian era historically accurate? Honestly, I don’t know. History taught us that every era has exceptional personalities, no matter their individual restrictions. It’s not like there could have never been a March Middleton in the 1880s. But experts of Victorian London will probably detect inaccuracies and a sort of poetic license that does not hold up in comparison to ‘true’ historical accounts. But then, on the other hand, what have we learned from Hayden White’s Metahistory if not that historiography itself develops its own kind of truth …

In short: Sidney Grice is no Sherlock Holmes, but rather a sort of earnest parody of this iconic character; March Middleton is no Dr. Watson, but rather a woman of her own as far as it is possible. Reading the Gower Street Detective series, do not expect to find a sequel of Doyle’s iconic duo, but rather an intriguing, humorous and critical variety of a well-known and established trope.

Do you like historical mystery books and don’t expect historical accuracy in every single detail? Do you love strong and interesting female characters and like your mysteries with a touch of humor? Then you might enjoy the Gower Street Detective series.

Side note:

M. R. C. Kasasian has already started a new series, the Betty Church Mysteries, another historical mysteries series set in the 1940s during WWII. Already got book one and two of this series and I’m looking forward to meeting Betty soon. Just hope she gives me something to laugh about as well – amongst all murder and mayhem …

Thanks again for stopping by! If you have read any of M. R. C. Kasasian’s books let me know what you think of it 🙂

Zuviel des Guten? Auf in den nächsten Low Buy

Leseecke mit Bücherregalen
Gibt es sowas wie zu viele Bücher …? Stillleben “Leseecke mit vollen Regalen”, Juli 2021

Die letzten Monate – genauer gesagt die letzten eineinhalb Jahre – hatten es in sich, höflich umschrieben. Ein regelmäßiges Auf und Ab von Infektionszahlen, Statistiken, Prognosen und die entsprechend bunte Fülle an alten/neuen Verordnungen haben unser aller Alltag bestimmt. Auch ich in meiner kleinen Introvert-Einzelgängerinnen-Blase bin all dem natürlich nicht entkommen. Einerseits genervt von FFP2-Masken und Besuchsauflagen im Pflegeheim meiner Oma, andererseits völlig überfordert, als nach den ersten Lockerungen im Handel tatsächlich wieder viele Menschen auf den Straßen unterwegs waren – Stichwort “it’s too peopley outside”.

Aber irgendwie sind wir wohl alle überfordert. Und so oft ich auch in meinem ‘normalen’ Alltag die Pandemie verdränge, irgendwo sitzt es halt doch, die Irritation, Überforderung, Ungeduld, Angst, Müdigkeit, kurzum die Fülle an möglichen, teils vielleicht auch nur unterschwelligen, Emotionen, die Covid-19 als kleine soziologische Nebenwirkung mit sich gebracht hat. Wer kennt das nicht …?

Immerhin, Low Buy sei Dank kanalisiere ich diese Irritation nicht in grenzenlosen Konsumwahn. Zumindest nicht grenzenlos, und auch kein Wahn. Eher ein gezielt geshopptes kleines Wähnchen hie und da. Ganz bekomme ich die ach so vielgerühmte “retail therapy” wohl nicht aus dem System – obwohl besagte Therapie mittlerweile auch schon mal einfach einen neuen Tee oder etwas ähnlich überschaubar aufregendes umfasst. Ist ja auch nicht schlecht. Wenn dann irgendwann mal noch der Therapieaspekt bei der Sache wegfällt wäre es natürlich ideal, aber ich bin auch mit kleinen Schritten zufrieden. Und “ideal” ist ohnehin ein überstrapaziertes Konzept. 

Zurück auf Start … sozusagen

Lange pseudophilosophische Einleitung hin oder her, was während meines Low-Buy-Jahres auf jeden Fall wesentlich besser geklappt hat als in den letzten knapp sechs Monaten war – surprise surprise – SPAREN. Auch wenn es nicht das Hauptziel meines Low-Buy-Abenteuers war, so zeigte mein Sparkonto im Laufe des letzten Jahres erfreuliche Bewegungen als Folge meiner selbstauferlegten Verhaltensänderungen. Und auch wenn ich mir für dieses Jahr ebenfalls ein Sparziel gesetzt habe, so darf ich vermelden: läuft nicht so wie letztes Jahr … Da geht noch mehr. 

Das ist die eine Seite. Ein weiteres Problem – zwar nicht unbedingt ein neues, allerdings seit einiger Zeit ein deutlich stärker spürbares – ist der Umstand, dass ich seit einiger Zeit nochmal einen Ticken weniger menschenfest bin, als ich es ohnehin schon nicht war. Womit sich der Kreis zum ausschweifenden Pandemie-Intro schließt, hier zeigen sich die letzten Monate der verordneten Zurückgezogenheit bei der introvertierten soziophobischen Angstpatientin eben. 

Sprich: Einkaufstouren, ob Lebensmittel, Dinge des täglichen Gebrauchs oder Luxussachen wie Klamotte und ähnliches, macht jetzt noch weniger Spaß als zuvor. Es lassen sich Zeitlöcher finden, zu denen etwas weniger los ist – vor allem im Supermarkt –, und wenn uns das nicht gelingt, dann klebe ich im Windschatten des Helden meines Herzens, dass es kracht (in engen Gängen oft wortwörtlich …). Das sind dann die Elemente der “retail therapy”, die für mich eher zum “retail trauma” mutiert sind. 

Worldwideweb sei dank muss man das aber natürlich nicht so eng sehen, aber das ist jetzt ein anderes Thema … und nervt mich oft ebenso, nur aus anderen Gründen 🙂

Katze sitzt am Fenster und schaut raus
Warum nicht einfach mal lieber gemütlich aus dem Fenster schauen?

Auf ins Low Buy No. Zwei – mein Low Buy Light

Um nun aber auch endlich mal auf den Punkt zu mäandern: Ich möchte das nächste halbe Jahr von 2021 wiederum etwas low buyiger gestalten, um es mal so zu sagen. Diesmal weniger aus psychologisch-tiefschürfenden Gründen – etwaige weitere Verhaltensänderungen und -anpassung sind angenehme Nebeneffekte – sondern schlicht, weil ich mein Sparziel erreicht möchte. Und ohnehin genug habe. Und ohnehin gerne secondhand und somit günstiger und bewusster kaufe. Und auch sonst recht günstig in der Erhaltung bin, nach wie vor. Undundund …

Mit Erreichen dieses Ziels kann ich mir übrigens kein Haus kaufen, in einen dreijährigen Totalurlaub verschwinden oder mein niedriges Selbstwertgefühl mit einer pottenhässlichen, überteuerten Prollschleuder a’la Porsche & Co.  aufplüschen. Nö, is definitiv nich. Aber mit Erreichen dieses Ziels kann mich ich endgültig etwas sicherer fühlen in Bezug auf berufliche, akademisch und sonstige Achterbahnfahrten des Lebens (und der Psyche). Dieses Ziel visiere ich seit letztem Jahr an. Deshalb will ich mal dafür sorgen, dass es heuer klappt. 

Dann lässt es sich auch gleich viel entspannter schauen, wie es weitergeht 🙂

Als denn, auf in die nächste Low-Buy-Runde, von Juli bis Dezember 2021. Die Grundlagen bleiben wie gehabt (und können im Posting zu meinen Low-Buy-Regeln nachgelesen werden), wobei ich mir etwas Nachsicht beim gezielten Einkauf – Wunschliste und/oder Secondhand sei Dank – gönne. Voraussetzung bleibt aber, dass ich es wirklich brauchen oder nicht selbst machen kann bzw. es erst mal auf meiner Wunschliste zwischenparke, bevor es einziehen darf.  So trainiere ich auch wieder ein wenig, meine Wünsche und tatsächlichen Bedürfnisse nicht nur klarer zu trennen, sondern auch stärker zu hinterfragen. Das ist zwar in den letzten Monaten glücklicherweise nicht wieder völlig eskaliert, es gab aber doch ausreichend Momente mit (viel) Luft nach oben für Verbesserung. 

Bücherbudget bleibt übrigens wie gehabt bei 50 Euro pro Monat, wobei mein Ziel für die zweite Runde im Low Buy ist, mein Bücherregal wieder neu zu entdecken. Nachdem ich vor einigen Monaten umstrukturiert und dabei zahlreiche Schätze wiederentdeckt habe, von denen ich schlicht vergessen hatte, dass ich sie überhaupt besitze, scheint ein “shop your own shelves” dringend notwenig. Zudem bin ich in den letzten sechs Monaten vor allem beim Buchkauf gerne mal eskaliert – was ich an sich zwar nicht dramatisch finde, dem Sparziel aber natürlich bei aller Liebe zum guten Buch nicht sehr zuträglich ist. 

Als denn: Weniger Menschen, mehr Zeit und Geld – das wird ein Spaß! 🙂

That’s enough, thanks! – Let’s do another Low Buy

reading nook with bookshelves
Is there such a thing as too many books …? Still life with full shelves, July 2021

I wrote a few times about life after Low Buy – we know by now that it didn’t always work out as I wanted it to. Though I spent more money than I hoped I would, I mostly stuck to my wishlist and didn’t escalate. Nevertheless, there is definitely some room for improvement. 

Now being early July, the first half of 2021 is already over. At the risk of sounding like my gran, time seems to just fly by the older I get. Another thing that seems to fly around, not landing where it should – my savings account – is money. I got rather careless about my budgeting, probably because I felt I didn’t shop that much (I honestly did not). Thing is, of course, I’m still spending more than I did last year. This means that OF COURSE, I’m not saving as much as I did last year. 

I intend to change that. 

So many books, so little time …

Looking through my expenses for the last few months, it’s evident that the main thing I spend money on is books. I always find something new and interesting to read, and I enjoy splurging on books because I know this will always be a good investment. Any book nerds out there who understand my bookish good intentions?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I rearranged my bookshelves – don’t ask me why it took me THAT long (4,5 years) to finally optimize my book shrine. Getting a better overview of what I have, I realized that there were tons of hidden gems I had simply forgotten about because I hadn’t seen them in years. The old notion of ‘shopping my shelves,’ rediscovering what I already have, came to my mind again. Loving the idea, I’m also realistic enough to know that I don’t want (mind you, it’s a WANT, not a CAN’T – some ‘wants’ are hard to kill) to not buy any new books for half a year. 

But still, I plan on focusing more on the wonderful and plenty of books I already have and mainly buy new ones off my wish list. This will help save me money, and it will also bring me closer to my goal of reading more of the books I own instead of constantly adding new ones to my shelves. Cherishing what I have and more consciously choosing what I want – this is a concept I follow regarding my closet (most of the time) and it may be a good idea when it comes to my shelves as well … at least in theory. 

Let’s do … a Low Buy Light (of sorts)

Following my meanderings, you may have guessed what comes next: me doing another Low Buy, at least sort of. While last year my main goal was to ‘reprogram’ my weary mind, this time my main goal and incentive is to save additional money to reach my savings goal at the end of the year. 

Why it’s called a ‘Low Buy Light’, you may ask? Well, mainly because I will allow myself well-considered purchases like items I put on my wishlist and/or have wanted for some time. Before buying something I will ask myself “will it still be useful in five years”, “does it work with the things I already own” and, most importantly, “can’t I use something I already got or make it myself instead”? In doing so, I stay true to the main idea of a Low Buy while also being lenient when it comes to things I want to purchase for good reason(s).

Why again? Why now?

These are legitimate questions to ask someone who continues to state how easy the transition from Low Buy into Go Buy (what you want) … again and again. 

As stated before, one huge incentive is saving more money. Another reason is that I really enjoyed my Low Buy year and the simplifications it brought. Not even entering certain shops because I knew I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to buy anything there; seeing something and putting it on my wishlist instead of buying it on impulse; putting much thought into my actual purchases, thereby appreciating them more. That felt really good – I didn’t even mind the restrictions, and that’s not how I usually roll. 

Who knows, maybe one day I don’t call this ‘Low Buy” anymore, but just a way of life, a way of conscious consumption in a world that feigns constant growth and therefore constant consumerism is the only way to live. 

Anyway, let’s start again (though actually, I’ve already started on July 1st, it just took me some days to finish this post …). Looking forward to saving tons of time, energy, and money 🙂