Restraint must enter

Such beautiful dishes at the Grand Bazaar in Is.tanbul! It was impossible to choose -- so I didn't!  May 2008

Such beautiful dishes at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul!
It was impossible to choose — so I didn’t.  May 2008

“An element of abstention, of restraint, must enter into all finer joys.”
Vida D. Scudder

I think one of the nicest things we can do for ourselves is learning to enjoy things without wanting to own them.  This is trickier with some things than with others, of course, and what appeals to the eyes may vary from person to person.  But I find that “shopping” for things I like but don’t need, and have absolutely no room for, is excellent training in appreciating what belongs to others.  When I know there is no way I will be buying something, that eliminates the decision making and frees me up to really see what I’m looking at, unencumbered by price or other practical considerations.

Museums can serve this purpose, but for sheer variety of colors, styles and bling, you can’t beat a good shop.  And many specialty shops are excellent places to develop the skill of just saying no to ownership.  Jewelry stores, furniture stores and very pricey clothing stores often fall into this category, giving us ideas and inspiration without costing a cent.

For me, looking at china is great practice in restrained shopping.  There are so many fabulous patterns, with new ones coming out all the time, and the entire spectrum of colors is represented.  Since I don’t have room for more china than I already have, there is no question of buying any of it, so it’s a perfect purchase-free joy to look at dishes to my heart’s content.

(It’s ironic that, as I write this, I am awaiting delivery of service for ten from the west coast, but that’s a topic for another post…)

What do you love to look at while shopping, with no intention of buying?  Start with something delightful that you find it easy to say “no” to, and then move into more difficult exercises in impulse denial.  It’s fun – and good for the soul AND the wallet!

One year ago today

Pleasure eternally new

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Susan

    I love floral fabrics! Looking at tablecloths, bedspreads, curtains — so many are very tempting, but it’s not practical to keep buying extra, so this is good practice. I tried sewing when I was young, but didn’t really enjoy it; still, I love walking down the aisle of a fabric department and just feasting my eyes on the beautiful variety of options.

    • Susan, you and me both. Sometimes I’ll go into fabric stores just to see the many beautiful choices, though I never do any real sewing anymore (only hemming or mending). Something about the textures of the fabric adds an extra dimension of beauty to the colors and patterns. It brings back wonderful memories of when I could freely pick any patterns and fabrics I wanted, knowing my mother– an exceptional seamstress– would stitch them up for me. It was wonderful to wear totally unique clothing.

      • Susan

        Oh, what a gift that she was able to do that! It’s quite a lost art now. I love the idea in theory, and enjoyed doing the big things like the seams, but the details like tucks and collars and zippers just frustrated me. I have to content myself with admiring the fabrics and other people’s work.

        I don’t know if you read and remember the children’s book Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary. The two girls are best friends and pick out a pattern and fabric for matcing dresses for the first day of school, third or fourth grade. One girl’s mother is a skilled seamstress and her dress is perfect. The other’s mother produces a terrible mess, but she is still expected to wear the dress. It causes events that lead to a fractured friendship. Beverly Cleary had such a way of making you feel the emotions of the two girls, even while writing at an elementary school level.

        I recently indulged and bought myself a pretty old-fashioned sewing box to keep my assorted needle and threads in, even though I’ll hardly ever open it. It takes me back to the feeling of childhood when I envisioned myself having the talent and patience of someone like your mother 🙂 .

        • I do remember enjoying Ellen Tebbits (and almost everything else by Beverly Cleary, a hero to me) but I had forgotten that part of it. I do remember my friends often expressed envy about my custom wardrobe. Once McCall’s pattern magazine featured a fabulous dress on the cover that was trimmed with eight (or ten?) different types of print fabric in patchwork yoke, cuffs and sleeve details. Everyone Ooohed and aaahhed over it and someone suggested to me “Your mother could make that.” I showed it to her and she immediately stitched one right up (at my request, mine was done in black and white rather than navy and white as in the magazine). Some years later I gave it to my sister’s daughter and forgot about it. Then in 2010, my sister was cleaning out and sent it back to me; I found that it still fit! Only a bit more snug than when I was a 19 year old wearing it for the first time. Here I am wearing the dress in 2010, and I still have it.

  2. Lydia E Gama

    I love scrapbooking, so paper, tools, embellishments and albums are things that I really enjoy. We had a scrapbook store about 45 minutes from my house, so almost every Saturday my daughter Lucy and I would go and scrapbook there. But some times we would just walk down the aisles, and enjoy the variety of papers, the cards they had on display and the albus other scrapbookers were working on. Such wonderful times!

    • Lydia, I too love paper crafting. Like you, I often just walk through the store, enjoying the displays and inspiration. I always dream of getting more done than I can possibly manage, so I’ve learned not to buy much until I use up some of the supplies I’ve accumulated over the years. But there is no store I can have more fun exploring than a craft store!

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