Did your mother ever tell you to “clean your plate” or “finish your food because there are staring children in India”? I am happy to report that my mother did not, as she was not a food pusher. I on the other hand, find myself stressing both myself and my children about how much food they eat and attempting a compromise with such negotiations as: “eat two more bites of hotdog”. Both of my children are healthy, normal weight, and happy. They tend to prefer grazing to sitting down to a meal three times a day and I should encourage that. It is a healthier way to eat, after all – haven’t we all heard of the Six Small Meals a Day approach to healthy eating and weight loss? But, alas, I find myself scanning for the moving jaw and enforcing the ‘two more bites” terms for early release from the table. I have to stop. It is probably worse for me than it is for them, and they will certainly not starve or become malnourished.
As I seem to be developing a theme here, this approach to nourishment and to life becomes analogous to many aspects of adult life. Simply put, I should probably serve them less food and give them more when they are hungry rather than present a huge plate of food, half of which is destined for the trash can. The same should be recognized in my closet, my jewelry box, my shoe rack and my cosmetic drawer. I really don’t wear half of what I own in my closet and more than half of my jewelry sits, ignored and tarnished. Why do we need SO much? What purpose does owning 12 suits serve when I now have the luxury of working from home and only need a suit when I travel? I could donate them to the organization that helps women dress for interviews with donated suits. I have shoes that have sat quietly on the shoe self unworn and dusty because they hurt my feet. So why keep them?
Really, I like about 6 of my summer shirts and I wear the same six over and over again. The same goes for shoes as I wear flip flops and running shoes about 200 days out of the year. What is the compulsion we have with more? Why do I allow myself to believe that a closet full of unworn clothes somehow says something about me? Does it indicate that I am prepared? Rich? Fashionable? What? I do not get it. My own behavior is a mystery to me. And this seems to spread out and beyond into so many other areas of my life.
I love my home. It is far more that I ever thought I would have and yet, I look longingly at homes on the beach, homes with cedar shake instead of brick, homes in Coastal Living Magazine. I live better than 90% of the world and yet I long for more, for more what? Prosperity? Happiness?
One of the things I remember from high school psychology class is Maslow and the theory of self-actualization. The belief that as we gain access to the basics in life that provide security; food, water, shelter, love, we move up a ladder towards more lofty and nebulous goals. It is not too far back in my history that I had very little money. I did not have to worry about food, water and shelter but I was not living the way I wanted to live and it was most unpleasant. However, I still at that time had more than the vast majority of people in the world. What is it that leads us to believe that we actually NEED what we want, and when do we become capable of identifying the difference? Perhaps never, but it could be worth exploring.
I wonder if I try to use the clothes I need and want rather than serve myself a huge plate full of possibilities I would find that I do fine with what I have. I suspect that I will always be well dressed and comfortable and that the decrease in options may in fact simplify my life. This approach to life and simplification may become a better way to deal with my children’s food and mine! I attempt no logical end here, I am truly asking questions and requesting your feedback. That old adage – WASTE NOT, WANT NOT may have more wisdom in it than I have ever considered, but I might be inclined to turn it around – WANT NOT, WASTE NOT……….two more bites of hotdog, after all does not always mean release from the table, it may simply mean a tummy ache.