The past 18 months have been months of change for my daughter and me. As difficult as those changes were, looking back I can tell you the changes were much needed. We had been living a life that wasn’t our own. We had what most people would call the American dream – large house at the end of a cul-de-sac filled with furniture and baubles, closets overflowing with clothes, some never worn.
On the outside looking in, it looked like we had it all. But in truth, we didn’t. All the extra stuff was holding us back, preventing us from being our authentic selves. Several life changes later, we have downsized to an apartment that is a third the size of our home. I can honestly say we are living on a college budget.
But here’s the weird thing: with less stuff, we are actually happier than ever before. With less money, we are home having real conversations, not out shopping, trying to fill the holes in our lives with more stuff. Birthdays and holidays have shifted as well. No longer are they filled with fancy vacays or daytrips, too many presents, and expensive meals.
Our lives have become focused on intention, authenticity, and being 100% genuinely us. Rather than overplanning a special moment, we have focused on creating moments we truly treasure. And with this shift, has come a new perspective on gift giving. Rather than buying the most expensive gift, or too many gifts we focus on intentionality behind the gift. Because, after all, it’s the thought that counts.
With a limited budget, I have had to really listen to B to hear what she truly wants. My intention is to create a memory — a moment, something we can hold in our hearts and remember for years to come. This new approach has created some surprising changes in us. For starters, we own less than we ever have, and are still cleaning things out. Our creative sides are shining. We are upscaling clothes, making art, and trying new recipes. We value our adventures so much more. And we are finding so much more joy watching our dogs learn to love the dog park and daily walks, than shopping for the perfect outfit.
Rather than spending time and energy on a thoughtful gift, be intentional with your gift giving. Learn to treasure the moments and laughter. Look for the things that stand out and make the day special. Take a photo of that moment and share it with your significant others, friends and family. In a world of excess, choose to be intentional.
Sara Orellana, MS, MPH is a community volunteer, entrepreneur, author, amateur chef, and advocate for rescued animals. She may be reached by email at email@example.com.