Have you ever gone shopping and gotten a little carried away like you’re on some weird high and spent a little more than you intended to and then afterward crashed and felt gross? Whether it’s buying up the sales rack you stood in line for or loading up on holiday gifts for loved ones, tumbling into excess is an easy trap. Especially this season. Even when you don’t have the money to do it.
Every year, around this time, I attend a jewellery launch party at my friend’s studio and inevitably spend hundreds of dollars on her new line. I never feel gross about. Even when it was a financial stretch, there’s never been money better spent for me. Supporting local pieces I’ll hand down to my granddaughters. Flowing my coin directly to the maker.
Andrea Rokosz and I met in eighth grade. We played high school Rugby together and went on our first big trip to New Zealand when we were fifteen. When I started my hair salon a year after high school graduation, Andrea volunteered on Fridays, helping answer phones. Over the next eight years, she first became a full time receptionist and as the company grew, took on the role of manager. When I had my son, I actually got to take several months off, stress free, because she held everything together so elegantly and protected me from the storms. She didn’t just manage the salon, she managed me. We grew together, got coached together, built a team together and learned about business together. We weathered some seriously stressful times and enjoyed some deeply satisfying accomplishments.
To this day, I have a hand written note from her on my office wall that reads ‘Everything is going to be alright. Love Andrea.’ I read it when I feel like I’m losing my shit. Her new line has a ring based off of it.
In the background of all we did together those years, while she was going to University and working full time, she’d share her dream of being a jewellry designer and I’d share my dream of being a coach and writer. I wore the first necklace she ever gave me to my web launch party earlier this month. Her work is sprinkled throughout every picture of me on my website.
So while we’re both living out the dreams of our younger selves, and once again getting to enjoy each other’s success and tenacity, it occurs to me to share about this sweet evolution because going on a spending spree here is about far more than consuming stuff. It’s about more than acquiring beautiful accessories. And it’s even about more than supporting a friend. It’s about using my money to vote for the kind of world I want to live in. One that weaves stories instead of makes them up to sell crap that lands in a landfill.
I want to live in the kind of world where artists can make a living off their art. I want to live in a world where people can achieve a dream and where dreams are made of something other than being a wealthy consumer. I want to live in a world where people appreciate and value hand crafted goods and are far more satisfied with one well made piece that directly supports the livelihood of someone in their community than they are buying up five factory made shiny objects that have been shipped across the globe and contribute to the bottom line of a company with exploited workers.
As easy as it is to separate ourselves from the greedy ones at the top, we need to pay attention to what we’re voting for. It’s arguable that we actually live in a democracy. I mean, sure, we get to vote. But let’s face it, Big Biz is running policy. What’s happening on this Earth and to this Earth are not being led by the interests of the people. It can feel super overwhelming to consider what to do about this capitalism-on-narcissistic-steroids world we’re in. We have far more power than it appears at first glance.
If you’re spending money at a company that exploits their workers, you’re voting for such working conditions. If you’re spending your money on goods manufactured by children and shipped across the world and made to break, you’re voting for that. I don’t mean to harsh your chill with this, but while that disgusting nonsense that is Black Friday is only days away, I can’t NOT say something.
Many of us, myself included, can easily justify spending money in ways that perpetuate a system that is hurting us. The justifications feel really valid and go something like this…Getting a deal feels good. Having the latest and greatest makes me look good. Choosing products that are from locally run small businesses, handmade or organic tend to be more expensive and at times, even unaffordable. And often sourcing ethical and sustainable goods is near impossible. Please, find me a local and ethically made cell phone. And, hey, we’re so steeped in this system of stuff, it’s easy to feel like it’ll be there whether we partake or not, so succumbing is easier.
If money is what’s running this whole show, then where we spend our money can help to bring it down, or build something new. Each time we spend our money, we’re voting for what we stand for and what we want to grow.
But we can’t very well complain about a crumbling economy or depleted Earth if where we all spend our money fuels the corporations who are driving this. Now, I get that this is complex. I’m not suggesting that buying some hot earrings from a local artisan for a few hundred bucks a pop is going to save the world. It’s also easy to say that each of us as individuals can’t make a dent in this thing by buying local or supporting small businesses. But that’s no reason to be apathetic. That’s how shifts happen. As more and more people wake up, question their values and assess whether or not they really need what they think they need, the power of greed will lose its grip.
As we move into this holiday season, I beg you to pay attention to not just what you’re getting when you spend your money, but also on where that money is going, what and whom it’s backing. Pay attention to and be mindful about what you’re voting for during the season of giving. When you choose which toys to buy for your kids, what future is that purchase voting for, for them? Are there local artisans you can buy from? Or experiences or even services? Your sister in law might totally appreciate the gift of a house cleaner and that house cleaner would probably love some extra cash in her pocket.
We need to champion artists and makers like Andrea, creating quality and beauty in the world. Or Christina at Bamboletta, who’s not only building communities of makers and giving our little ones an alternative to made-to-break, freaky looking plastic dolls, but is also on the leading edge of manufacturing in her industry with values and sustainability as the compass and bottom line. And of course there’s my go-to-no-brainer-perfect-gifts from Danielle LaPorte who’s offering her wisdom infused elegance to connect and inspire. What you’re voting for here is a woman building up women, an advocate for feminine genius and reverence for the sacred in all things practical. (Right after this post went out for edits, I read her latest blog on sacred gifts…. I can get behind that. I AM behind that.)
How can we fund each other this year? What are ways to vote for the people in your community and the work they do? What local organizations are running programs that support those in need? Let’s give the gift of acknowledging each other’s gifts and a world that works for everyone.