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Friday, April 2, 2010

What Happy People Know

First of all, thank you to those of you who voted (and commented) on the fabric issue.  Cudos goes especially to Rebecca who really made me think about the REAL reasons why I might be taking on another project.  (If you want to know what I am talking about, read the comments from the last post).  Secondly, this entry is going to be a bit 'heavy' so if you aren't in the mood on this lovely long weekend... bookmark it for Monday's reading! 

Rebecca's comments have really made me think about things... Her last comment especially spoke to me (I might be focusing on being more of a human 'doing' instead of a human 'being').  Anyone who knows how perpetually busy I constantly am will probably back her up on this one!  It's not that I don't like to just 'be'... it's that I have a really hard time giving myself permission to do so.

I am currently reading a book entitled "What Happy People Know" by Dan Baker.  I found this book on a 'free' shelf in a library many moons ago.  I know, I know... you should never take a self-help book out of the 'discard' pile!!!  Well, I did, and I read it, but I apparently wasn't ready to hear the message back then because it didn't 'speak' to me in the slightest.  Having recently picked it back up again, it would be safe to say that I am certainly ready to hear the message now!  Anyway, one of the main themes of the book is looking at the fundamental qualities of happiness (love, appreciation, choice, etc.) as well as the polar opposite of happiness: which, according to Baker, is the state of fear.  Baker tells us that there are two fundamental fears in life: the fear of not having enough (which drives our consumer economy), and the fear of not being enough.  Personally, I feel like I have 'laughed in the face' of the first element of fear via this project, however it is the second fear that continues to haunt me. 

Now, I know what you're thinking, what they heck does this have to do with sewing?  Well, I have figured out that my reasons for wanting to sew are two-fold.  The first reason for wanting to sew is all about me.  I have always loved to create something from nothing... I find it so satisfying.  So, I think that this is a 'good' reason to sew.  The other reason (and here is my 'fear' rearing its ugly head) is that I am having issues with 'not being enough'.  Let me explain.  This morning, my husband and I were lying in bed chatting when he asked me what I missed most about buying new stuff.  I thought about it for a minute, and I honestly couldn't think of anything (not even Starbucks!).  I told him so (feeling secretly overjoyed), but a few minutes later, as we started the day, I started to mull his question over and over in my brain while I sipped my delicious (& cheap) cup of coffee...  Here is the conclusion that I have come to.  I have guilt.  Guilt over not being able (or I guess no longer willing) to buy my family and friends 'new' presents (which they inconveniently continue to do for me).  It is making me crazy!  Hence, the sewing, and wanting to buy fancy fabric.  I really want to be able to reciprocate the gifts that my friends and family are lavishing on me... Otherwise, I am left feeling 'cheap' and 'guilty' (aka, the fear of not being enough). 

Ironically, this whole damn thing started in part due to my abhorrence of extravagent gift-giving... and yet I apparently haven't been able to wrap my brain around this apparent catch-22. 

So, the bad news is that I still have ISSUES!  The good news though?  At least I know what they are!!!

“People love others not for who they are but for how they make them feel”  - Irwin Federman
(Just keep telling myself that right?)

Marebare :)


  1. Hi Maren, I'm a friend of Ben's and he's been urging me to read your blog for a few weeks and I finally did and I think it's great!! I also thought you want to check out my sister's blog (haha, i guess siblings are good for plugs). She did a similar project last year that was focused specifically at creating a zero waste household. anyway, its
    keep it up!!

  2. Kate,

    Thanks for checking it out! And I am truly inspired by your sisters blog/project -- she really did it right! I am going to use her project/ideas as a source of inspiration b/c she has thought of many things that I didn't... Thanks so much for sharing.

    All the best to you and take care,

  3. I am so honored to be "featured" in your blog this way! I TOTALLY understand about the gift giving guilt thing. I'm really lucky to have a father who abhors our consumer driven society even more than I do, so many of my eccentricities in this department get blamed on him, and he's happy to provide me with "cover". My mother's side of the family is a different story. She is into the guilt-ridden gift thing big time. One thing I've found that sort of works, is instead of giving a gift, I've started making donations in her name for Christmas etc. I usually choose an organization that we both believe in, and it works. But one word of caution if you ever decide to go that route, all of those organizations sell/share their donor databases, so one donation can very quickly turn into THOUSANDS of solicitations for more donations. So be sure to request that they not share your info and not put you on their mailing lists!

    One of my best friends (and lifestyle mentors) went through terrible troubles with the gift thing, especially with his wife's family who had a very ritualized and elaborate Christmas gift giving tradition. He tried and tried to "take a different angle" on it to no avail, and finally in desperation just announced that they would no longer participate. This provoked a bit of a meltdown in his wife's family and ended in the demise of the whole gift giving ritual. A few years later, his father-in-law came up to him quietly at a family gathering and said "Thank GOD somebody finally had the guts to put an end to that whole crazy gift giving thing. I've hated it for years but never had the courage to say anything." I think there's a lesson in that one!

    Best of luck with the "issues". I am slowly (and somewhat reticently) coming to the conclusion that perhaps being "issue free" is not the goal. It's sort of futile anyhow, because issues are like onions, there's always another layer underneath! At the moment I'm just trying to look at it like a grand journey of self-exploration (on my better days at least!)

    Best to you...

  4. Hey Maren,

    I have to confess that this is only the second time that I've checked out your barenecessities blog... but I love it! Thanks for taking on the challenge and sharing.

    These are my thoughts so far...
    I am jealous that your county recycles most kinds of plastic and glass. I have a glass jar collection that is starting to over-run our under-the-sink cupboards and now I know that there IS a facility that takes tham.

    As far as your gift giving dilemma, I'm sure everyone must find themselves somewhere along the spectrum. Currently, I am really enjoying being able to afford to buy others gifts. During University I did a lot of handmade cards, cheap flowers, and baking. Not to say that those gifts weren't genuine acts of affection and thought, but I'm glad to have the opportunity to buy a gift that "fits" when I see it. SO, I'd be super disappointed if I gave you a gift and you felt that you owed me. You'd be robbing me of doing anything for you! So anyone out there who feels guilty for receiving and not giving back...
    The giver isn't expecting anything in return, and if they are, it's not really a gift. So take it is a gift and give them the freedom to do so. Be free, know that you're loved, and receive!

    There are many other thoughts that I could share but I think I'll just swing back to your comment on Baker's concept of happiness. I'd agree, but I'd use a stronger word:
    That LOVE is the opposite of FEAR
    (giving, more than enough, self sacrifice) >< (receiving, shame, self focused)

    I guess I just wanted to share that one's happiness is not present just when fear is absent - but when they are able to dispell that fear by loving.

    So thanks for sharing again Maren, I'm looking forward to coming back and learning as you do :)

  5. Jess,

    So great to hear from you - and thanks for your comments - you are amazingly insightful as always :) What I forgot to say about that book is that you are exactly right, the author writes that Love IS the opposite of FEAR!!! Of course, you didn't need a book to tell you that - you are one of the most positive, amazing people that I know. Hmmm... come to think of it, you could have written that book!

    Anyway, it is great to hear from you - I hope that we can get together soon!

    All the best to you and Luke! xoxo Maren