as i  drove past a dingy strip mall today, i noticed an older couple with their trunk open in the parking lot. they were some stripe of asian (6 months into our seattle sojourn i still can’t tell who the players are, but i know that a lot of people seem to be brand spankin’ new to this country, and they bring lots of charming “old country” ways with them from wherever…), and they were surrounded by like a triilion birds. i was lucky enough to stop at a light so i could watch them for a few minutes, and i saw that they were taking crumbs from a bag and feeding these birds, who were giving them total and unconditional love- for all of the 5 seconds it took them to devour the crumbs. then it was like, “talk to the wing, cuz i don’t even want to give you the time of day. i don’t know you!” until another shower of crumbs came out of the trunk and then the birds were the birds were all, “we love you! we love you! you are the best! you have the most awesome crumbs! you rock!” until the crumbs were gone.

and it struck me both unbearably happy and unbearably sad at the same time. i was happy that these elderly people- who knows if they have family here or friends, and if they feel part of things or like outsiders or like displaced homeless expats- found an entire posse willing to shower them with total love and adoration. and i was so sad because that love was so fleeting and so conditional. and i was sad that they had to get their love quota from ugly birds in a dingy parking lot in a somewhat seedy part of town.

and i realized that the whole thing was a really powerful metaphor for so much of so many people’s lives.

and that’s all i want to say about that for now.

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on a non-budgety note, i had some fabulous retail therapy today. it was fabulous because i didn’t actually need therapy. and it was fabulous because it was at a thrift store so i got loads of great bargains! (glee!!!)

last night i was laying in bed and i was thinking that maybe i should buy something pretty for the house. if you knew me in real life, you’d know how very out of character this is. my decorating style could best be described as “utilitarian”. i hate being surrounded by too much stuff, so i am constantly assessing our possessions to see if we can get rid of things. i don’t suffer froo-froo gifts well, and i’m unsentimental bordering on sociopathic. i envy people who can make do with less, and often lament being “spoiled” by having too many things that we feel like we need.

but last night i thought that perhaps i would buy a roll of clear contact paper that looks like stained glass and put it on the top portion of my bedroom window. nothing flashy or extravagant, and certainly nothing that takes up space (a mortal sin), but something purely to look at and enjoy. hmmmmmmmmmm. very not me, but i was willing to mull it over.

and then today, as i was browsing through 68,000 shirts, i had a revolutionary thought. i’m sorry for myself that it took me so long to have it, but i’m going to share it with you so maybe i can save you some time. i decided that i’m only going to buy things that i love.

let’s sit with that for a moment.

and let me give you some context.

before i lost weight, my philosophy was, “if i need it and it will fit and is cheap and nondescript, i will buy it.” and that was it. so i had a hodge-podge collection of hand-me-downs and cast-offs and resale shop purchases, none of which i particularly loved or even cared for- but they fit (meaning they were too big so i could hide/disappear in them), so i wore them. from time to time i would buy something thinking that it would be something i would probably need and not be able to find at a later date- like a lightweight t-shirt in a certain color, so i would buy that and it would hang in my closet for several seasons until i decided to pass it on. ditto things in a color that i might like, but would never ever wear- like lilac. once every so often i would buy, say, a lilac sweater- which would then sit neatly folded in my closet until i would finally give it to a friend who wasn’t afraid of color.

but today i bought a few shirts in styles that make me feel fun (even if my kids think they are slightly nerdy. sorry, kids.). today i bought myself two scarf-y things, even though i have never been confident enough to accessorize- because i have always loved that look when i see it on other people. today i put back bunches of stuff that i initially put into the basket because although they were tolerable, they weren’t great. today i got things that i will feel good in, regardless of the 10,000 other voices in my head. today i tuned them out and i listened to the happy music in the store instead.

today i decided that i only have room in my life for things that i love. a few days ago, someone said to me, “this is not a dress rehearsal. this is your life.”

and life is too short and too small and too overcrowded with have-to and musts and required items to add extra things that i don’t love or enjoy.

certainly i will regress.

but for today at least, i want to try to fill my life with things i am truly excited about. i want to remember that there are projects that i am passionate about and causes i believe in and ways to spend my time that build me up instead of draining me.

today i am going to look for love and i’m going to find it.

and it’s going to be in my clean laundry pile, because that’s where my new clothes are!