Stash Less is a ongoing series about working towards a more conscious stash.
Over the last few years I've given up choosing wine at dinner. I rock up to restaurant and almost before I have taken off my coat, I am asking for a glass of something delicious. The wait staff inevitably ask what kinds of wine do I like… and my answer is always “Anything you like. Something you love.”
Sometimes I don't even specify red or white. Sometimes the waiter is flummoxed but often they like it. They smile, walk off and return with something delightful.
The joy this non-decision has brought me is immense… in a wholehearted vague simple intangible life pleasure kind of way. I'm drinking delicious wine with the freedom that comes from passing responsibility to someone else.
There are only two ways it can go, and both of them are good.
If they have chosen the wine, and it is a nice place, then it will probably be delicious. They know more about wine than I do anyway. What do I know? I look up and down the menu choosing something random on the basis of ..... well that is just the point, on the basis of nothing….. with the idea that choosing is part of what makes having the expereince of wine good. What I’ve learned is that it’s not. My pleasure is actually increased by forgoing the choosing. No tooing. No frooing. There is no buyers regret and I get deliciousness without deliberation.
When it is not delicious I simply drink it, feeling grateful that I have wine, and that I didn't have to make a decision. And because it wasn't my decision I don't have to feel bad about it sucking. I simply think - oh well, that person isn't good at choosing wine. And often neither am I. But when I choose a bad wine I feel bad about it.
If they have chosen then I don't have any second-guessing about the choice I made, or regret that I made a bad decision. “This wine isn't the best” is the end of the thought.... now back to the conversation with the person I love sitting in front of me.
Decision making theory is widely established. Obama for example wore the same suit every day or the same tie. Whatever. The point was that freedom is a construct and although we love it and value it, it isn’t necessarily what we need for satisfaction or joy in our lives. *
OK. So Stash Less.
Years of practicing Stashing Less have meant that my behaviour has shifted, and not just around craft. Stash Less has resulted in me abdicating a lot of choice. This removal of choice isn’t quite the same as not choosing wine and giving that choice to the wait staff. Instead I guess a better analogy would be that I’ve narrowed the menu. Whereas once I had an endless menu where I was often overordering, or frozen with choice, now I have two things on offer.
A cupboard with limited, but beautiful resources. And a pile of scraps.
A ongoing, regularly updated making list that is based on need and the concepts I have written about in the post Enough Is As Good As A Feast. Making mainly on need and sometimes for joy.
By removing my choices, by consciously and intentionally giving up my endless options and infinite possibility, I no longer suffer from overwhelm or paralysis when it comes to my making. I have purpose. I have headspace. And I have intentionally limited choice.
I’ve taken more of a systems approach to support the changes I want to make. The biggest change to the system I’ve made is that I no longer shop as a pasttime. I don’t browse. I don’t wander in. I go to a shop with purpose and a list. I have removed myself from mailing lists so as to avoid the temptations that come with sales and new releases and special deals. I have stopped shopping.
And this has trickled out into the rest of my life. When I am at our big shopping centre buying undies for the kids, I no longer pop into my favourite shops for a “look”. A look that would nearly always result in a purchase. Instead I simply walk on by because I know I have enough. What freedom!!
To go into the store starts a conversation in my head that I don't need to waste my life on. Walking into the store opens up possibility, choice and decision making, that mean that I have to wrestle with my values, based on the fact that I have triggered my triggers - fomo, wanting to own the pretty, time poverty, and perfectionism. My stashing triggers are my shopping triggers. They are my emotional weak spots - thought patterns that do not serve me.
By not walking into the store - online or inperson - then I don’t get into some version of "oooohhh, that is so pretty. And cool. Wouldn't that go great with my XYZ. And it would totally update my wardrobe. And I would feel smashing. But really I already have enough. And I don't need it. But I want it and why shouldn't I have somethings that I want. I haven't bought anything in ages. I'm not excessive. My wardrobe isn't big compared to other peoples. You totally deserve it. What are you talking about….what does that even mean you crazy woman. But it’s so pretty......" Blah blah bloody blah.
This process can easily take an hour, plus endless hours over the next week or two as it pops in and out of my head…. and then there is the moment three months from now when I feel uncertainty about the choice I should have made. What a waste of time about something I didn’t want and didn’t need. If I don't enter the store, don't give myself the choice, I don't have the conversation or the choice-regret-hangover. Life is simpler. More clear. More clean and more joyful as a result.
Sarah Wilson in her book First, We Make The Beast Beautiful talks about how choice creates anxiety. And how by having boundaries or rules we can decrease the amount of angst we create in our own lives. Because we are creating it. We have a choice about how much choice we allow ourselves to engage with. To have a better life, we can consciously choose to engage with less choice and gain our freedom.
I wrote back in 2017 about what Stash Less looks like for me in the longer term and it is still true today, except that the Stash I work from is even smaller. It still has beauty in it, enabling me to be inspired and to make when the idea strikes. But my rules about purchasing for Stash Less, and my Making List mean that I get to turn off the part of my brain that is rolling around in the possibility of infinite making. I can simply make the thing I have in front of me, OR I can make something from my list. To make that thing from the list I get to chose something from the cupboard. If I decide to make something and I don’t have the materials I need to make it, I get conscious and shop for just the right materials. But this kind of shopping isn’t the angsty kind. It is purposeful and normally over very quickly because it’s very clear. Again more joy in clarity.
Stash Less has saved me from so much wasted time and angst. There is no decision to be made, and nothing to think about except what is right in front of me. Less dreaming, more making. Less choice, more freedom. Less wanting, less comparison, less choice, more satisfaction. Less as more.
Stash Less has become more than an effort to have a conscious stash. Instead it’s become about something much bigger. About how I want to spend my time and my thought. And that is where the beauty of this practice lies. I've seen my freedom clearly with my fabric purchasing, my yarn choices …..and in my wine choosing. Next year Stash Less may mean that I even move on to abdicating my meal choice?
I’d love to hear how the ideas of a conscious stash have changed your habits or behaviours over time?
* That link is to the last post I did about Stash Less and the Paradox of Freedom.