Is There Life Outside the Mall?

Posted by Jill Chivers

This is the first of our Profile pieces for the 2011 blog.  We have some amazing women lined up to talk to this year – women who have slain their shopping dragon or are in the process of doing it. 

Throughout the year, we’ll learn a lot from these wonderful women – what they discovered in their own journey, what they’d tell us about our own, and we’ll get to share the journey with them for a while.  Knowing there are other women out there who are working on this self same issue that we are is help in itself, isn’t it?

Elizabeth Jayne Liu

This week, we welcome Elizabeth Jayne Liu, resident of Los Angeles and a self-confessed shopaholic. Three years ago, Elizabeth’s life changed for the better – she married a wonderful man and started living what for many women would be a life of extraordinary blessedness.  Which included shopping.  Lots and lots of shopping. 

Did I say lots?  I’m talking – where did these shoes come from – I don’t remember buying them and oh look –  they’ve never even been worn! lots.  Her shoes live on the stairs, did I mention that?  That’s how many there are.  Ah – a woman with a shoe fetish addiction problem thing. That’s a woman I can relate to!

Why oh why?  The question that I was asked most frequently during my own year without clothes shopping was Why are you doing this?  So, it only seemed fair that I ask Elizabeth that same question.  Elizabeth started her year without clothes shopping in September 2010.  She was inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. 

The question Elizabeth is searching for an answer to is: what happens to life outside the mall?  What I appreciate about this question is the awareness that life does indeed exist outside the mall.  Something Elizabeth is discovering in spades.  She also asks: What happens when I take away my favorite mindless activity? Ah, such insight in one so young!  Elizabeth stresses that she is motivated to do this challenge to find her own happiness.

Elizabeth initially thought her blog would be a chronicle of things she wasn’t buying.  She quickly discovered how boring that became (“well, today, yet again, I didn’t buy another pair of shoes – $150 saved“) plus her interests quickly expanded.  The challenge became less about what she wasn’t doing – and more about what she WAS doing.

Instead of shopping, Elizabeth now engages in other life-enriching activities.  Instead of rushing her husband and daughter through a meal out because “the sample sale starts in 8 minutes“, they sit for a while and enjoy their surroundings.  This has been game changing for Elizabeth. 

She recounted how she spent only one hour in the Louvre because she wanted to hit the Paris shops…. (made only worse by the half-day most visitors have to line up for to get into the place!)

She talked about a recent trip to the Napa Valley where she saw through new eyes the beauty of the area.  When she’d visited before, she was in too much of a hurry to rush to the shopping strip to enjoy it. 

Most challenging thing so far:  Elizabeth confessed to me that she still engages in pretend shopping online.  She knows this is playing with fire and she doesn’t do it often.  She does singe her fingernails a bit by putting things in her cart, but she says that she always clicks off the page before buying.  Uh-huh.  She still gets phone calls from sales associates from her favourite stores – these are hard to resist, but she said that the cards that come with incentives are the hardest to resist.  She now throws out the multidinous catalogues that still arrive as she finds the picture perfect women and products just too hard to resist. And she has unsubscribed to all 111 retail newletters she was receiving.  Yes, that’s not a typo – one hundred. and eleven.   

Advice to others: Elizabeth had two pieces of advice for other women who are seeking to slay their own shopping dragons:

  1. If you’ve decided to do this – do it ALL the way.  Don’t be half-hearted – commit fully to the challenge in body and soul.
  2. Focus on other things – create a list and have it handy of things that you want to focus on instead of shopping.

You can check out Elizabeth’s blog Flourish In Progress by clicking here.  Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your story with us here! 

If you haven’t signed up to receive the blog postings as they are posted fresh here, you can sign up here - it’s free! 

If you want to make 2011 the year you Shop your own Wardrobe – we’d love to have you join us. You can learn about the 12 month online program here, check out our phenomenal faculty here, and sign up here!

See you next week.

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