Secrets to Shopping without Buyer’s Remorse

Secrets to Shopping without Buyer’s Remorse

Have you ever gone shopping, either for something you needed, or just for fun, and realized that you’ve paid and come home with a lot of stuff you didn’t need or really even want – stuff that you wouldn’t have missed if it wasn’t there? I can’t say I’m innocent of this, though it doesn’t happen to me often. Here are my secrets for shopping without buyer’s remorse.

My mother, growing up, always told my sister and me that when it came to purchasing something, whether we were purchasing it ourselves or she was purchasing it for us, there was one rule: Either you loved it, or you needed it, or both. 

What does that mean? It means that when contemplating purchasing something, ask yourself, “Do I love this? Do I need this?” If the answer is yes to one or both of these questions, move forward and put down your hard-earned money. If not, don’t buy something that you’ll never wear or use that will just gather dust and eventually get put in a trash bag to take to Goodwill. It’s a waste of your money. 

Let’s break that advice down. Needing something does not mean “really really really wanting” it. Needing something means it will significantly improve your life and quality of living. You need food, shelter, clothing. You even need fun! If your favorite band is in town and you can spring for a ticket, do it! If you haven’t been to an amusement park since you were thirteen, go!

Loving something doesn’t mean loving it now, or ironically. It can be something that makes you laugh, but hilarity isn’t always love. By loving something, I mean that the item in question should be something that, were you to leave the store without it, you would be sad. Loving and needing something is the ultimate win!

The second secret is this: it is better to spend on experiences, rather than things. Let’s say, for example, that you were in Paris. Now, you could either buy an item from a boutique, or you could take a tour of a museum, gallery, or landmark (Being a DC girl myself, I’m horrified at the notion that to enter such places, there must be payment.). While you may love and/or need the item, if the choice is between the two, pick the one that will ultimately bring you more joy. Experiences and the memory of them tend to bring us more joy in the long run than physical things, though this is not always the case (Like if your dad buys you a necklace in Florence, reminding you of the trip every time you wear it.). 

The next secret is the best way to determine if you actually want something. This is not a need, but a want. If you’re on the fence, perhaps because of the price or any other reason, hold that item in your hand and walk around the store looking at other things for a few minutes. There are a few possible outcomes to this. The first is that you forget about the thing, look down at it, and fully fall in love with it. The second is that you forget about it, and when you look at it again you’re underwhelmed. The third is that the thing is always on your mind, whether in a positive or a negative way.

The last secret is something that saves me money every single time I shop. Especially when shopping with friends (Five Below is our usual vice), I know I for one can get swept up in the fun of it all and end up with twelve five-dollar items in my cart. The secret is, while I’m in line, I take stock of everything in my basket. If I’m eh about something, it goes. If I’m excited about it, it stays. Very quickly twelve things becomes six, and I save thirty dollars with just a minute of thinking and consideration. 

These are my secrets for shopping, especially for fun, that prevent buyer’s remorse. This way, you save money, and don’t have to go through the hassle of getting rid of something that you never loved or needed. You don’t have to return it, or donate it, or sell it. Happy hunting!

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Thoughts on Grief

Thoughts on Grief

This article was made possible by the wonderful people at Heart in Diamond. Heart in Diamond is a company that turns tragedy into beauty. They can be found here.

Grief seems like such a simple concept, but the truth is, it isn’t. It isn’t simple at all. Many of us think of grief as something that happens only when a loved one dies. While it is true that grief occurs when a loved one passes away, grief can also occur for other events.

Grief can occur at the end of a relationship or friendship. It is similar to death, though not as final; it is the loss of the presence of someone deeply loved. It is the loss of the way things were when that person was around. Suddenly, one cannot turn to that person anymore, in good times or in bad. They have exited one’s life, sometimes never to return.

Grief can occur at any major life change. This can include a move, graduation, a job change, etc. The reality about grief is, it can occur when anything monumental happens in one’s life. This could be a happy event, like moving to a new city for a dream job, or it could be a much sadder event, such as the death of a loved one.

I believe there are two key ideas to keep in mind when speaking about grief, or when grieving. The first is this: the ending of one thing is also the beginning of another. The end of an era in one’s life is the beginning of a new one. The ending of a relationship or friendship is the beginning of freedom and openness to new people and experiences. In some religious traditions, the end of a life on earth is the beginning of eternal life in another state.

The second idea I have about grief is that you don’t have to forget. You don’t have to forget the good things. In fact, I encourage you to remember them. It is important to respect the memory of a person, a friendship, an era, by remembering them. The key is to let go enough that you can move on, but to hold onto the good. Our pasts make us who we are. We never lose who we once were – who we were when that person was alive, or was our best friend, or when we attended that school. We respect who we were by remembering. We carry those memories with us as we continue through life.

I’d like to recommend Heart in Diamond to anyone grieving the passing of a loved one. Heart in Diamond is a company that specializes in cremation jewelry. They use the ashes or hair of your loved one to create gorgeous diamond jewelry for you to wear, so you can carry with you the person you love. Heart in Diamond’s cremation jewelry makes it possible to keep some of the closeness of your loved one with you at all times. It commemorates their memory in the most beautiful way possible.

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, please feel free to explore the links below.

Mental Health America

Mayo Clinic

National Institutes of Health

For those of you who are grieving anything at all, I love you and I am thinking of you.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

For those of you who didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. In honor of the last day of that month, I have written this post.

My name is Grace. I am a friend, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a dog lover, a kind person. I also have seven mental illnesses.

That sounds like a lot. On the one hand, it is. Seven is a lot of mental illnesses. One is a lot of mental illnesses. On the other hand, it is important to remember that mental illnesses are very much related to one another. Sometimes one causes another; sometimes they just go hand-in-hand. I don’t think of my mental illnesses as separate entities, but rather as roots of a tree that spring from each other and cross paths and come from the same basic source.

I live a happy life. I live with the parents who support me, am almost done with college, have a loving boyfriend, work two jobs, maintain friendships all over the country, and have the best ESA in the entire world. Things have been worse for me, many times over the course of my life. I don’t feel like rehashing all my trauma, and I don’t have to do so. Even if I didn’t have suffering and trauma in my past, my mental illnesses would still be valid. Brain chemistry doesn’t care how happy you “should” be.

If there is anything I have learned over the course of my short twenty-three years on this planet, it is these: mental illness is not like a cold. It will most likely be with me my whole life, hopefully with me spending the rest of it in remission. The best I can do is the best anyone can do; I handle it as best I can. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine, so all I can do is carry it with as much grace as possible – and maybe with a bit of good humor.

I have also learned that while there is pain and suffering in the world, much of it senseless, there is so much more that is beautiful and good. We are more attuned to the negative, not because it is more prevalent, but because it is the exception. It affects us so deeply because our innate and automatic assumption is that this world is beautiful, and people are basically good.

So, if you are silently – or even not-so-silently – suffering from mental illness(es), I leave you with this: yes, there is pain and suffering in the world. No, it isn’t fair. But no one ever promised life would be fair. But more important than that is the fact that love is infinite. It does not end, or run out – not true love, anyway. Love is the root of all that is good – the flowers love the sun, which loves them in return. The mother and the offspring love each other. It is true; it is unconditional; it is infinite.

So, love. If you cannot love yourself, try loving others. Try loving the puddle you splash in on a rainy day. Try loving the friend that makes you feel secure. Loving and being loved by others can teach us how to love ourselves. There is always, always, always a reason to love.

Most important of all, remember that you are not alone. You are not alone. You are never, ever alone.

I love you.

Tampa

Tampa

Well, my travels continued this Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday morning, I flew from DCA to Tampa, Florida, to meet the boyfriend. I arrived a little after noon, and he arrived soon after that. I had to wait in the hotel lobby for almost an hour, but I had a good book and some Starbucks, so I wasn’t upset about it. I was too excited to be upset.

A brief interlude: I am so grateful to him for paying for my flights, and for the job he does that makes all this travel possible. Plus, he is doing what he loves, which is the best part of it all. It stinks that we’re apart so much, but I know he is happy, and I get to travel, so there are perks.

But I digress. Tampa was hot as Hades on Sunday. It was so hot and sunny, with not a cloud in the sky or even the slightest hint of a breeze, we abandoned our plans of walking the Riverwalk and touring Ybor City. We got lunch, and dinner, and hung out in the relative cool of the hotel suite in between.

Monday was our beach day. Love is not a strong enough word for the constant longing I feel for the sea. Maybe it’s based in the heritage I received from my mother’s family, who came from Naples in the 1920s. We picked up the rental car and drove about an hour to Pass-A-Grille Beach.

Pass-A-Grille Beach is south of St. Pete Beach, in the larger St. Petersburg area. If you drive there, drive down the coast until you can’t anymore. Right where the Tampa Bay meets the Gulf, you’ll find the spot where we set up camp. The parking is pay, but there was still a spot for us on the last day of Memorial Day Weekend. There is more parking down at that end, and less people.

There was a pier to our left, where the Bay met the Gulf. Just some hundred yards down the beach, people were packed next to each other, but we found a spot on our more sparsely populated stretch of beach to ourselves, with no one between the water and us. It was hot and sunny again, but there was a breeze that day. The water felt a little like bathwater – I would’ve liked it touch colder, but it wasn’t hot. The water was clear and turquoise, the waves largely gentle. We talked and played in the water, baked in the sun, and started the cycle over again.

We dined early at a seafood restaurant on the bay side, then headed back to the hotel, where we flipped between the last Lord of the Rings movie and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. My flight was early the next morning – and delayed two hours, which I was notified of after arriving at the airport (you were supposed to text me, American!). I was still home by one, and went on my merry way to work half-past four.

Tampa was fun. We didn’t take as many excursions as we did in Portland, but I’m just so happy being with him that it didn’t matter to me what we did – with the exception of the beach. The beach is of paramount importance. Still, it feels glamorous and fun to jet off on little notice, even for two days at a time.

Portland, Oregon: Also, 100th Post!

Portland, Oregon: Also, 100th Post!

As stated in my April goals post, in the last week of April I flew to Portland, OR, to visit the boyfriend on his days off. It was his birthday present to me (my birthday is the 22nd.). It was a wonderful trip, though my second flight there was a less than ideal.

Honestly I had forgotten all about that flight until now. As usual, the night before my travel day, I could not sleep for excitement. I had been at work for eight hours that day, and my flight was just before six in the morning, but I couldn’t sleep. It always happens, so I don’t know why I’m always surprised and frustrated. I was in an aisle seat, which I hate, but can deal with, as flights are only a few hours long and the aisle won’t kill me. But the man in the middle seat was a manspreader, and also snored disgustingly the entire flight, so I couldn’t sleep at all. It was physically painful. Another thing was that the man in the window seat had closed the blind and fallen asleep. He stayed asleep the entire flight, and I missed the bird’s eye view of Mount Hood. But I lived.

I forgot all that as I got in the car with my driver, who made my morning much better. The weather was gorgeous, and it was projected to continue my entire trip. At the hotel and famished, I ordered food and waited for Ben to show. He did, and I saw him first. He joined me, and we shared my flatbread and discovered that he hates figs.

We went upstairs to nap, then walked to a coffee shop, where we sat and talked and drank before walking to Powell’s. DSC_0334Powell’s was a labyrinth of books, some new, some used. I bought the new book composed of a collection of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inspirational tweets, a used copy of one of my new very-favorite books, The Sun Is Also A Star, and a copy of a book I had begun in another bookstore but never bought, Bittersweet, by the author of one of my other favorites, June. DSC_0341We had a snack at a pizza place catty-corner from Powell’s (Sizzle Pie) and decided to go to the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden.

The Portland Japanese Garden was stunning! I couldn’t help laughing aloud sometimes because I could not contain my joy. It was a perfect storm; I love to be outside, to travel, in nice weather, with my love. We climbed up many flights of stairs set in the side of a steep hill, which had some pretty plants along it as well. It was the perfect time of year to visit, and the perfect time of day: golden hour. There was even a vista where we could see Mount Hood, finally. The International Rose Test Garden was much less impressive, as the roses are not yet even budding, but still delightful.

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We dined at Kell’s Irish Pub. I had a barley risotto with pesto and butternut squash, which was delicious. Dessert was at a Salt and Straw.

The next day, we picked up a rental car and some Voodoo Doughnuts for our ninety-minute car ride to Cannon Beach.

Upon our arrival, we drove the Pacific Coast Highway for a short time, then walked on the beach for awhile. I found a shark tooth.

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We walked through some stores, and lunched at a pub on the main street. I got some candy at a candy store, and we headed back to Portland, where we dined outside at a German place called Prost. My flight was a redeye that night, and I arrived at Reagan National before noon the next day.

Thank you, love. It was my best birthday yet.us japanese garden

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Four Things I’ve Learned about Love in Four Years

Today is Ben and my fourth anniversary. It’s funny; on the one hand, I almost can’t believe we didn’t just get together, because I’m still so crazy about him. On the other, it feels as though I’ve always known him, and when I didn’t, I was just waiting for him. (Not that my whole life was spent waiting for him, but a part of me was waiting.) Anyway, here are four things I’ve learned about love in these four years. I hope they help you in your journey, wherever you are.

Communication is non-negotiable.

I know, I know. It’s such a cliché: “communication is key.” But it is, it is absolutely non-negotiable. While it would be awesome to know automatically what your partner’s needs are, it’s not realistic. We’ve gotten pretty good at communicating, I think; we’ll make sure to bring things up before they become a huge thing that leads to a fight. This way, we have discussions and occasional disagreements, and not fights, whether small or knock-down, drag-out. You’re not a mindreader, and your partner isn’t either. Say what you want and need, as clearly as you can, and be sure to require the same.

Change is inevitable.

It always strikes me as amusing when someone asks me, “But how can you stay with one person for the rest of your life?” This question assumes that people are always exactly the same, that they don’t grow and change. While at their core your partner is not likely to change dramatically, their experiences and learning, with and without you, will lead them to become many different people during your lives. You’ll change, too, and that’s good! People should grow and learn and change. Hopefully, you’ll learn and grow and change together, or in ways that are complementary.

Love is work.

By “work,” I mean that it takes conscious effort. It takes effort to meet someone’s needs. Sometimes you can’t give 100%, and that’s okay. Sometimes one partner has to give a little more – 125%, while you give 75% – but, ideally, it will eventually even out. Don’t fall for the “love is 50%-50%” lie. Love requires 100% from each of you. Sometimes you or your partner gives more, but it always adds up to 200%, because there are two people giving their all.

You are complete.

You are already complete. You are a whole, wonderful person. You don’t need another human being to make you into a “complete” human being. For lack of a better example, if you’re single and murdered, your murderer is still charged for the extinguishing of the life of a whole and complete human being. Don’t consider yourself “incomplete” without another person. It’s unhealthy and dependent. You need to be your own person, so that you can fully and wholly enter into a union. Would you want to be in a relationship with half a person? Acknowledge that you are your own, complete, whole person, and you can more fully love someone else.

Of course, I’ve learned more than this in four years. But, I believe these are the four most important things I’ve learned these four years. I hope they’re helpful, or enlightening, or validating.

Happy anniversary, love.

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have a lovely little emotional support dog named Brie. Brie is the light of my life, and I didn’t know that I could love a non-human being as much as I love her.

Brie is a rescue. I’ve told her story many times, so I won’t get into too much detail here. Brie lived the first year or so of her life on the streets of Puerto Rico. When we adopted her, she was nine pounds underweight, had hookworm and mange, and had almost no fur. The day we adopted her, she kept coming up to me, and I loved her immediately. Now, she’s the prettiest, cutest dog in the world.

Brie’s Petfinder listing picture.

Brie has proven to me that rescuing a dog is the only way to obtain one. With help from my parents, I nursed her back to health. I trained her. I spent the majority of each day alone with her for the first two months we had her. I was most likely the first person to consistently love her.

Today, this dog sulks when I travel without her, plays with me, and naps with me. She is the sweetest little thing in the world. When she goes to the vet, regularly the vet asks if they can “steal” my dog. Absolutely everyone falls in love with her.

Brie this summer.

I’m not saying that a dog bought from a breeder cannot be beautiful, or sweet, or good, or loving, or all of the above. But, I also know that the fact that my dog came from a horrible situation and had my devotion when it came to her health, behavior, and love, has made her immensely grateful. Given her circumstances, it is amazing that she has turned out as happy, healthy, loving, and sweet as she is. But, she has, and she is worth almost twenty years of waiting and months of nursing and training.

If you’re debating whether to buy from a breeder or adopt a dog, I would strongly encourage you to adopt. Besides the ethical issues, a rescue will likely be the best dog you’ve ever had, and grateful and loving to you. All you have to do is put in the love, time, and work.