Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 1, 2011

New Year’s resolution on track

On January 1 I read a girlfriend’s Facebook status describing her resolution: to refrain from buying any new clothing, shoes, or accessories for one year. It immediately struck a chord in me and I made it my resolution as well. I would begin that day, and there would be no pre-emptive buying “before the starting gun.”

As I stood in my closet on January 1, 2011, I realized that I had enough clothing, shoes, and accessories to last until Jesus comes back. I’ve not shopped necessarily out of need, but out of want — something cute in the latest style or a fresh color. Since contentment and simplicity are stated goals of mine, why not take on a challenge that would expose competing motives?

The first test came when I was meeting girlfriends at the Mall of America — epicenter of ostentatious consumerism — for a rendezvous. Ambling into a store, I’d be approached by a salesperson with “What may I show you today?” “Why, nothing, thank you,” I’d reply. “All our boots are 30% off,” came the enticement. And then I’d state my resolution.

The amazing consistency of retailers’ responses boils down to five words: “I could never do that.” Their answers to my “Why not?” were insightful: “I am addicted to fashion,” “It’s my job to model a certain look,” “I love to shop,” “I need new stuff to feel good about myself.”

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

My season as a park ranger last year helped begin the weaning process from “stuff.” One had to drive two hours to the nearest mall; I’d rather be hiking in the wilderness. It was easy to scale back my acquisitions to bare necessities.

Now, make no mistake, I love the look and feel of something new and different in my wardrobe. I love the satisfaction of finding just the right piece to pull together an ensemble. But… but… I don’t NEED anything. Globally speaking, surely I have more in my closet than most of earth’s other inhabitants have in theirs — if they even have a closet. It’s incredibly liberating to have NO REASON to enter a mall. To know I am saving time, money, frustration, and natural resources by choosing instead to live with what I already have. To say “No” to the siren song of material items trying to seduce my heart.

What obstacles may arise in my no-shopping year? Would you ever try this? Why, or why not?


  1. The only obstacle I can imagine would be work related as you wear out clothes marching through the desert. I have always been impressed at what you could do with the modest wardrobe you’ve allowed yourself in Moab. This seems like a great challenge to the Leo woman. For me the challenge might be more significant if I were to go a year without beer.

    Comment by Ed Oak — March 1, 2011 @ 9:39 am | Reply

    • I throw down the gauntlet. Choose well in your beer replacement beverage.

      Comment by kath56ryn — March 1, 2011 @ 3:34 pm | Reply

  2. Ed, Have you gone mad??? I can only hope you wouldn’t even consider such a foolish endeavor!

    Comment by john — March 1, 2011 @ 2:19 pm | Reply

    • Would you question someone’s sanity if they chose this experiment for, say, two months instead of twelve? John, take all the money from two months’ worth of your beer consumption, and do something Really Fun with it. Depending on which two months… Duluth? Disney World? (insert smiley emoticon here)

      Comment by kath56ryn — March 1, 2011 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  3. you must think beer is very expensive………. 2 months worth might get me into the Renaissance Festival…. 🙂

    Comment by john — March 2, 2011 @ 12:00 pm | Reply

  4. Wonderful. Dad and I really have learned the repercussions of too many THINGS. Downsizing has sure opened our eyes. Have a great non-accumulating year. Mom

    Comment by Mom — March 3, 2011 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

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