I am not always good about being happy with what I have. When I was living at home (USA), I loved nothing better than going to Target. I never needed anything, I just liked to wander the store and see if anything spoke to me. Sometimes new bed linens would call my name or a gadget for my kitchen. All items I could live without, but yet somehow they made their way into my basket.
My daughters have more clothing than they could possibly need. Yet, when I saw a cute new swimsuit for one of my girls, I would buy it thinking you can never have too many swimsuits, right? Shorts and t-shirts were spilling out of their drawers and still I would buy more. I knew I was a consumer and I knew I needed to stop.
We moved to Portugal. There are new stores here and even cooler “stuff.” But, I have told myself that I have enough. Enough clothing, enough toys for the kids…enough of it all. I wanted to turn a new leaf and use what I have and be mindful of anything I think I might want.
Portugal isn’t a wealthy country. The majority of people don’t make loads of money. They make enough to live. They make enough to enjoy a coffee out with their friends. Many are conservative in what they buy.
On my run today, I saw this tiled wall.
The owner of the home clearly didn’t have all of the matching tiles to fix their wall, but they fixed it with what they had. It looks messy, but it also looks beautiful. They made do. It struck me that at home, I always work so hard to make sure everything looks ‘perfect.’ Clean home, tidy yard, nice garden…when I need to worry less about what the outside world sees and more about what brings me joy. I like dandelions. I like wild flowers. I liked running past this yard today where the owners let the flowers do what they wanted to. It was unkempt, but it was lovely.
I am on a journey to consume less and be happy with what I have. Living in Portugal makes me appreciate that my friends here are welcoming and gracious and generous with what they have whether they have a lot or very little. They never want to go on a shopping date, but would rather have a chat in their garden. We drink coffee or tea and relax. No pressure. No pretense.
I am enjoying learning to live with less and I feel like a much happier person for it. I still go shopping, but I purchase things we need, not just stuff. I am also mindfully teaching the girls the value of money and the necessity of using resources wisely. Showing the children that money is better spent exploring our new home or experiencing a new adventure isn’t much of a challenge when you live in a spectacular country that values history and preserving nature. Once again…thank you Portugal.