A depth year. How I changed my clothes shopping habits.

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Last year I did what is known as a ‘depth year’, which basically means not buying new things but instead going deeper into what you already own.  People usually pick an area to focus on during a depth year such as books, clothes, make-up, tools, stationery; whatever they tend to overspend on or have more than enough of.
I chose clothes for my depth year.  I’ve never been a fashion conscious super shopper but clothes were definitely the thing I would buy for a ‘pick-me-up’ and I had accumulated more than I needed or had space for.
You choose your own rules for your depth year so my rules were:
EmojiStart the year by going through all clothes and donating/recycling any that don’t fit/suit anymore.
EmojiOnly buy new clothes as replacement for necessary staples.
Emoji‘One in, one out’ system in the wardrobe.
EmojiRepair all clothes at least once before taking to clothing bank.
EmojiWear all clothes owned, what’s not worn gets donated (excluding ‘dressy dresses’ and very seasonal clothes)
EmojiWhen shopping for replacement items look for Fair trade, eco friendly fabrics.
EmojiLook in charity shops before buying new, especially for non essential items.
EmojiNo fast fashion panic buys as a confidence boost before going out.
EmojiNo ‘retail therapy’ buys to cheer myself up (there are many other ways I can cheer myself up if needed).
What I discovered from my depth year:
My wardrobe edit at the start of the year was not thorough enough and I need to do it again and be stricter with myself this time.
Other people don’t notice very much what you’re wearing.  I might have known that I was wearing the same thing I wore last time I saw them but everyone else is busy worrying about their own appearance and not noticing mine.  If other people did notice, it wasn’t an awful thing.
I owned several pairs of jeans at the start of the year and they all got holes/ripped seams at some point which I mended at least once before throwing them away and not replacing them straight away meant I wore other things more, getting more monies worth out of each piece of clothing.  I didn’t replace every pair as I realised I don’t actually need that many.
Having less clothes in general means wearing garments more often.  This helped me figure out which brands wash well, are the most hard wearing, last longer and are therefore better value for money.
Clothes shopping became a challenge in a new and exciting way.
I looked forward to buying a new item, guilt free because I knew I really needed it.
Finding 100% natural fibres or fair trade clothing is not easy, but more high street shops are doing more of this kind of thing now due to demand. It felt good that my choices were helping to drive that positive change.
Dressing to socialise was a challenge and I had to confront some confidence issues that would normally have been glossed over by buying a new top to feel good in.  This part I admit was not easy and I did find going out feeling dressed a bit out of my comfort zone was not a great feeling but it forced me to get over myself and realise that I was going out to meet friends and have a nice time with them, it wasn’t about how I look or feel about my appearance, it was about connections with others, fun and good times.  My depth year helped me to focus on what is really important to me.
True friends couldn’t care less what you’re wearing or how you look.
I like wearing dresses but tend to wear jeans most of the time because of my lifestyle and the type of work that some of my jobs involve, but having less clothes to choose from has impressed upon me that it is still important to me to make the most of the times when I get to dress in a more expressive way and in my own individual style.
I had held on to a lot of stuff ‘just in case’ but keeping a pair of jeans I used to feel good wearing, just in case I ever fit in them again was giving me a sense of failure rather than motivation.  Ironically, getting rid of them and letting go of those pressures and expectations and replacing them with trying to accept myself as I am has put me in a much better place to approach getting healthier from.
Only owning clothes that fit and suit me now, in this moment is a more mindful and present way of being.
I feel good and a great sense of control when I walk away from what would have previously been an impulse buy.
What feels like a totally necessary and life changing garment will usually be totally forgotten about as soon as I leave the shop.
I have saved money.
I have lost the urge to shop for fun.  Shopping is still fun but I don’t feel an unhealthy need to spend to feel better.  What is fun about shopping now is going with a friend and hunting the charity shops for treasure.
Buying a few decent, well made, good quality pieces that suit me are better value in the long run than lots of cheap, poor quality, short lived fashion items.  (Better for the environment too).  I’d now rather save up and look forward to getting one thing that I will really enjoy than buy a new item every time I go out.  
Will I be carrying on the depth year into 2020?
Yes I’ll certainly keep to the rule of replacing staple items on a one in one out basis.  I’ll also be repairing garments to get more wear from them before throwing them away.  I have already treated myself to a couple of dresses in the January sale and I know I’ll love wearing them but will continue to avoid those panic buys to boost my confidence as I know in the long run, not being able to rely on those will build my resilience and force me to dig deeper into how to feel better about myself.  Reiki and mindfulness have helped a lot already and I’m grateful to have those tools on this long and winding journey of self discovery and acceptance. 
If you’re interested in doing a depth year of your own there’s lots of ideas online about it but remember you do it for your own reasons and to your own rules.  I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
Namaste,
Steph

Something to cling to in this storm.

There is so much going on in the world right now, I don’t think I know a single person who is not feeling the effects in some way.

We are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually depleted from our unsustainable lives and the endless bombardment of negative news.

Wherever we turn we see wrongdoing, injustice and tragedy.

There is so much anger, frustration and despair and it feels overwhelming.

Being a resilient person I had until recently managed to keep myself afloat, my head above the stormy waves but the sadness and helplessness I feel at the way we treat our planet and fellow living beings and the anger at the wrong that is being done got the better of me and I surrendered to my feelings.

Once I let the wave crash on me it was really hard to drag myself back up again, but I couldn’t stay down there, it was too dark and choking and scary.

I have had to dig VERY deep to find some positives to cling to about what is going on the the world right now and thought I’d share them in case they help anyone else to keep their head above the waves:

We are seeing some really nasty stuff in the world right now, but it’s like we’ve ripped all the plasters off the wounds and have exposed the festering mess underneath.  We don’t like what we’re seeing and thats the first step to action and healing the wounds.  Better to have it all out in the open and deal with it than leave it to fester.

We are defining new standards and holding each other and ourselves accountable to them.

We are going to have to put aside differences and work together to find solutions.  As hard as that seems right now, as we move through the process we’re going to learn and get better at it.

Old ways of being aren’t serving us anymore, we’re feeling guilt and shame about the misguided ways we have been living but this is pushing us individually and collectively to find new and better ways.

We’re finally realising that our lifestyles are environmentally, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually unsustainable and not only will that inspire change but it is also leading us to realise that in contemplating life, our wellbeing and meeting our needs, we need to not only think about our own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing but also that of other people and our impact on the Earth.  We cannot be fulfilled and content individuals while there is suffering and destruction around us.  The Holistic approach usually refers to body, mind and soul.  Going forward we are learning that this is not enough because those three elements are not going to be fulfilled if they are not in harmony with their environment and the whole world.  We are learning that every decision we make needs to be considered Holistically and in context with not just ourselves but the Earth and all life on her.

When life as we know it, our systems and processes are uncertain and proving to be failing us we feel fear and consider what the worst case scenario could be – dwelling on this can be depressing but also highlights what really matters to us.  If we could lose everything we know, what will we cling on to for dear life?  In my case this would be my family and loved ones.  If it all goes wrong and life as we know it crashes around our ears, they are the ones I would be clinging to.  That ‘deathbed thinking’ gives a new appreciation for what really matters, and if they’re the ones I want there at the end why not enjoy them to the fullest on the way there?  Obviously I’ve always known that, but dwelling under the stormy waves has given me a new appreciation for it.  Knowing who matters most in your life and enjoying them brings joy and contentment even in turbulent times.

Mirrors are held up to us in all situations.  You learn a lot about yourself if you allow yourself to acknowledge that some of the discomfort you feel about politics, the environment or injustice is because you see some of what you don’t like out there in those situations within yourself too.  And that’s ok, we are only human, we all have a certain level of selfishness, greed, the ability to turn the other way, dishonesty etc, faults are a natural part of us.  It probably sounds like a negative but being honest and real with ourselves is so important for authentic living.  Living authentically will lead us to make decisions and live in a way that suits our whole being, not just gratifying our short term wants but consciously deciding what is going to serve our highest good. Our highest good is interdependent on our impact on others and the environment.

You develop a sense of humour about it – and in my case a whole new vocabulary of swear words! Sometimes, watching the news and feeling the negativity hit you in the gut inspires a new way of expressing yourself – it’s just too hard to contain within!  I’m not sure how I feel about the new sweary me but I’m letting myself experience it for a while at least and counting it as a positive because, as I said, I had to dig really deep for these and I’ll take what I can get!

It makes you talk to others about what really matters.  It’s nigh on impossible at the moment to have light hearted chit chat with anyone about anything before something gut wrenching from one of the festering wounds comes up in conversation.  It would be easy to fall out over differing opinions so we are learning how to get along despite differences. We are also learning more about our fellow humans; what matters to them, what their passions and causes are. In these interactions I am learning to communicate from, and listen with, my heart.  It’s bought me a new level of connection with others.

You learn how to feel everything and often all at once!  I’ve always known I can feel opposing emotions simultaneously but it’s not been experienced this extensively until now!  I can feel despair and hope, anger and compassion, frustration and determination, rage and calm and I can feel them all at once and although it’s utter turmoil I can see that there’s an opportunity to grow as a person here (I have to grow to fit it all in!), and I am definitely experiencing the fulness and variety of life.

In our desperation we are seeking each other out, it feels like safety in numbers.  We’re sticking together to get through this.  Recognising our inner turmoil reflected in the eyes of others seems to bond us and we find like minded people to weather the storm with.

When all around us seems to be going wrong and falling apart we have to go inwards and find new levels of resilience and new survival tools.  These can then be shared with others and passed on to our children.

Moments of light and hope mean so much more and bring joy and relief.

Life is beautiful.  I just refuse to believe otherwise.  Life is messy, painful, unfair, cruel, full of injustice and wrongdoing but it IS also beautiful, abundant, exciting, wonderful and full of love and hope and kindness. The contrast is what creates the high definition. Better to have both experiences than neither.

 

 

So there they are, my positives, the rescuing ropes I cling to when the storm gets rough.  They’re keeping me afloat, I hope some of them offer you buoyancy too.

Namaste x