Thursday, September 4, 2014

On Loving What You Have

I love jewelry! Maybe that isn't the most frugal confession to make, but it is the truth.

I love my engagement ring stacked with my wedding and anniversary bands. I love the pendant made with a diamond that my grandmother gave me, from a ring she had purchased for herself. I love the pearls that were given to her by my grandfather for their 25th wedding anniversary, and the pearls that Papa gave me for our 25th in honor of that! I love the little moonstone ring the guys gave me for Mother's Day (inspired by the moonstone necklace in The Mists of Avalon). I love the smoky quartz ring that I pulled from the leftovers of Papa's grandmother's jewelry, the stone and setting separated but easily put back together, perfect for wearing on fall days. I love all the pairs of dangly sterling silver earrings that I own. I love my Lisa Leonard circle necklace engraved with my husband and my names and the basis of our wedding vows.

Of course, like anything else, sometimes something we enjoy can become a hobby, and last year I indulged myself with several new jewelry pieces, mostly little bands that I can mix and match and wear stacked for fun. But at this point, the fun money (part of an inheritance) is gone, and I can't indulge in the shopping side of my jewelry love.

I think this is where we figure out what our hobbies really are. A couple of decades ago I got into scrapbooking, and while I did make about 10 albums, I knew deep inside that the bigger thrill came for shopping for the scrapbooking supplies. I was a paper craft junkie and I loved collecting stickers, patterned papers, card stock, etc. Today I can say that other than what I actually used in the albums, I gave away at least 90% of what I had purchased, and from that I learned a big lesson.

(Of course, before I learned that lesson I created a huge yarn and knitting needle stash, collected many vintage sewing notions, purchased a lot of fabric, and set myself up with a sweet little embroidery floss palette, but at least those are all things I still do, whereas digital photography killed my interest in paper scrapbooks.)

As for the jewelry, I found that I was becoming less and less satisfied with the beautiful things that I had, and more and more interested in the thrill of searching for unique vintage pieces at bargain prices. And so I stopped cold turkey. I stopped hanging out at the online places where jewelry/fashion lovers hang out. I stopped searching ebay and other sites for jewelry pieces. I unsubbed from the Lisa Leonard email list. Finally, I put most of my jewelry pieces away for almost two months.

I wanted to get a sense of what I really loved, to see if everything was worth keeping or if I would forget I even owned certain things. I kept out my engagement and wedding rings, my Lisa Leonard pendant, a right hand ring, and a few pairs of earrings, but everything else went into hiding.

I'm happy to report that when I opened my jewelry box after my self-imposed break it was like reuniting with long lost friends. My engraved sterling bangle from Hawaii! My super bargain green garnet band! My pearls! My red stackers for the holidays! My antique cocktail ring! I oohed and ahhed over almost every piece.

I can say now that the break was exactly what I needed! The urge to buy new jewelry is gone; I have a box full of pretty trinkets, a garden of jewelry to pick from, as a friend puts it.

It can be so easy to get caught up in what we think we want rather than what we have, but the reality is that most everything that we have we chose to purchase, so we must have liked those things at some point. Some things do wear out, of course, but many things do not.

And so I have to stop myself when I find myself wanting things that I already have. It's important to me that I ask myself why I am wanting those things. If I am looking at dishes I remind myself that I already have dishes, and that new dishes won't do anything different. If I hear about a sewing machine for sale and my interest is piqued I remind myself that I already have more than one sewing machine, and I can't use more than two at a time (I can use two at a time because one can be doing an embroidery which doesn't require me to be hands on with it once it is set up, other than to change thread colors). If I stop and look at puppies ... well, Papa probably has to drag me away and remind me how much work and expense is created by the two dogs I already have.

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