Intentional & Minimal | The No Spend Challenge I Want To Take On This Year

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough…On one level, we all know this stuff already…The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness.
— David Foster Wallace

Intention. Mindfulness. Freedom. Gratitude. These are words that have been lingering softly against the inner corners of my mind since 2019 started. Words I want to embody as the beginning of this new year unravels. The world moves quickly. Always rushing, thinking less, going with whatever gets put in front of us, living the way we are taught. Living by advertisements and anecdotes and being slaves to money and things and objects.

Shopping isn’t on my list of hobbies. I think I want something until I get into a store, try something on, remind myself I have enough clothes at home, and then leave. Same goes with home decor and beauty products. Many people make jokes about not being able to enter Target empty-handed but one of my skills is being able to walk in and come out with nothing.

Fast fashion is fleeting. Popular trends come and go in waves. Home decor changes with the seasons. Marketing makes us think we need things we don’t. I keep on my toes so I don’t fall into that trap but it can be hard. Knowing psychology and how marketing works makes things easier and I’m grateful to understand where my desires stem from. It’s often misplaced and I want experience over things. My house is cozy, my closet is full, my bookshelves are stacked.

We don’t need more things.

When I vowed to working towards a minimalist lifestyle, buying less naturally came with it. My goal is to go 30 days without buying any new, non-essential items. For me, it’s achievable since I’ve been able to go long periods of time without buying new and try to always thrift first. Lately, I’ve been finding my closet dull and boring since I’m so used to everything. Instead of buying something new, I’m challenging myself to play around with the pieces I have and create completely new outfits. My closet is diverse and it’s time I start working with it rather than against it.

I’ve seen people set their goal to an entire year. However, I think it’s more achievable to start small and work towards a larger goal on a month-by-month basis. Starting with 30 days is a small and achievable beginning goal. It’s not too overwhelming and will give better insight into spending habits to decide if you want to continue the no-spend challenge.

Disciplining ourselves in our habits is how we create more mindful, grateful, and intentional lives and can replace them with better habits.

Reasons for a No Spend Challenge

  1. Minimalism

    Minimalism is about intention, improvement, purpose, and simplicity. It’s not only external, but internal as well. The no-spend challenge doesn’t bring anything unnecessary into our home and allows us to be more intentional in our mindset.

  2. Produce less waste

    The amount of waste that comes with what we buy is huge. By limiting what we buy, we also limit our waste in packaging.

  3. Budgeting & Finance

    If you’re in debt, looking to save for something, want to become better at budgeting, or have an understanding of your family’s spending habits, a no-spend challenge can bring you better responsibility with your money.

  4. Self-control & discipline

    Saying no to impulsive desires isn’t an easy task in our culture desperate for us to consume. This challenge is not only for physical purposes, but to improve our internal selves.

  5. Awareness & Understanding

    Focusing on our life habits and understanding where we spend our money and why gives us the opportunity to change and reset our habits into new ones.

  6. Immunity to marketing

    Saying no to marketing brings the power back to us. Not many people are aware of how marketing affects us and in how many different ways it affects us. Life has become an abundance of advertisements and it can be tricky to navigate it.

  7. Freedom

    Self-control, self-discipline, letting go of impulsive habits, being aware of our habits, being immune to advertising is all freedom from the modern world which is busy, impulsive, manipulative, and constantly yelling at us to buy things. No spend reminds us to be aware, intentional, and free.

Rules

These are my rules and they may vary slightly for yourself.

  • No shopping for clothes or accessories. I have a full closet, enough shoes, and enough accessories.

  • No buying new make-up products, hair products, or skincare products until I’ve used something up entirely. I have everything I need and then some.

  • No buying unnecessary media. I have books I need to read in my home already + I can borrow from a friend or from the library.

  • Create a weekly budget and meal plan for groceries. Use what’s in the pantry.

  • Personal grooming will be limited to dying my hair only.

  • Limit one coffee date outside the home

  • My exceptions are: school supplies I don’t already have (i.e. textbooks & a new notebook), travel fares (i.e. gas for trips), activities for my son, bills & groceries (these obviously need to be paid, however, I am considering giving up my amazon prime & adobe monthly subscriptions), and gifts for people.

examples of non-essentials

  1. Clothes

  2. Coffee outside the home

  3. Take-out/going out to eat

  4. Beauty products

  5. New technology

& many more!

A no-spend challenge helps reorganize our lifestyle habits into better ones. Living with intention welcomes more wholesome experiences into our lives. Most purchases I’ve wanted to buy and have chosen not to buy has left my memory very quick. I hope you’ll join me in a little self-discipline, intention, and mindfulness.

Do you think you could do a no-spend challenge? Have you done one before?

Kink and Consent: Christian Grey is An Abuser, Not A Dom

Kink and Consent: Christian Grey is an Abuser, Not a Dom or A Romantic Hero

When 50 Shades of Grey came out, everyone around me was swooning over it. Family members purchased it, friends were talking about, yet I was slightly put off on how mainstream and beloved it became. BDSM has always been looked down upon, questioned, misunderstood, and shamed in society. As someone into BDSM, as someone who had friends into BDSM, as someone who perused Fetlife, as someone who listened to other people share their stories, as someone who dabbled in different kinks, and as someone who was open about it - I knew how others viewed it. So hearing a supposed BDSM book was popular among communities? I had to check out the hype because something seemed -- off

And I was right.

The central relationship is not a consensual BDSM one: it is abuse and manipulation. Hands down. In abusive relationships, consent, respect, limits, and trust is nonexistent.  In true BDSM relationships (and relationships in general), there is consent, trust, limits, respect, and understanding being given from the beginning. In true BDSM relationships, pain is voluntary and pain is desired. Both the dominant and the submissive know what they are getting into. In Ana's relationship, she was emotionally and mentally manipulated into pain she didn't actually want and wasn't even remotely prepared for.

What is BDSM?

To put it simply, it is the erotic practice or roleplaying involving Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. BDSM strongly encourages consent, trust, communication, education, and safety. Bullying, blackmail, and emotional manipulation is not an occurrence in BDSM. There are no contracts. Consent is given but can 100% be revoked at ANY time. Communication is present at every turn. There is an illusion that subs are not in charge - when in fact they are. Tops will obey immediately when a bottom requests the stop. It is very important for the top (or Dominant) to be very aware of their bottom (or Submissive). It is important both top and bottom are in tune with one another. The top holds a strong responsibility of making sure their bottom is safe and enjoying themselves.

Education is key in BDSM due to safety hazards - both mental and physical. It is strongly stressed in the BDSM community and it is something that is lost within this book giving people the idea that it's okay just to go out, buy some products, and begin paddling their partners or tying them up improperly potentially causing nerve damage. There is an art and a technical aspect to many things in the BDSM community that this book fails to reiterate and understand. 

The Problems

Anastasia Steele

The main character. She has no sexual identity, has low self-esteem, is introverted and seemingly shy, has abandonment issues (aka the typical "daddy issues" portrayal), is bullied by her only friend, and pretty much holds no personality or unique traits, and feels no self worth until Christian Grey comes along and tells her how and when to do things. She is vulnerable and co-dependent and an abusive man uses that to his liking and treats her like prey to manipulate the way he sees fit. It is not okay to portray quiet, vulnerable, introverted, and nonsexual women as potential submissive victims that can be molded, manipulated, and treated like shit and name it "romance" or "true love". It is harmful. 

Stalking

He has everything tracked. He has told her "Alaska is very cold and no place to run. I would find you. I can track your cell phone - remember?" He constantly shows up unannounced wherever Ana is - her work, her home, the bar, her mom's house, he repeatedly calls her no matter how many times she doesn't pick up. Unwanted attention is not affection and it is not flattering. It is harassment. 

Controlling

He bought out all the photos Ana's friend took of her at an exhibit because he didn't want anyone else to see them. Red flag. She's hired as a publishing assistant and he buys out the entire company claiming he wants to make sure she's safe when in reality, he wants to keep tabs on her every move. Red flag. Literally says, "I exercise control in all things, Miss Steele." Red flag. She goes out with a friend to a bar and gets drunk after Christian told her not to so he flies from New York to Washington. That night. Red. Flag. 

Jealousy

Christian Grey gets close to rage anytime anyone touches or talks to Ana. Jealousy is a natural reaction in relationships but Christian's consumes him. He acts as if it is an emotion that can't be controlled and that's not noble -- that's horrifying and often the beginning sign of abuse. Possessiveness is not attractive and this is not what it would look like in a true BDSM relationship and it is not what it should look like in a regular relationship. 

Ignoring Safe WordS & a Partner's Limits

"No, I protest, trying to kick him off. He stops. 'If you struggle, I'll take your feet too. If you make a noise, Anastasia, I will gag you." Anastasia was uncomfortable and unsure for the entirety of the book. And although, no is not often used a safe word in BDSM, Ana has never been apart of the BDSM community to truly grasp the concept of safe words. He also manipulates her into thinking she shouldn't be using safe words anyway by basically saying any sort of no is a "convince me" i.e. “If you say no, you’ll say no. I’ll have to find a way to persuade you.” And let's not forget this horrifying gem from Ana's perspective, 

"I blanch. What can I tell him? That he frightened me. That I didn’t know if
he’d stop. That I begged him—and he didn’t stop. That I didn’t want things to escalate
. . . like—like that one time in here. I shudder as I recall him whipping me
with his belt.
I swallow. 'Because . . . because you were so angry and distant and . . . cold.
I didn’t know how far you’d go.'"

He was never concerned with how Ana felt but merely how it affected him. 

Portrayal

I won't beat this horse anymore than I have but obviously, the portrayal of BDSM is completely out of touch with what it actually is. Not to mention, portraying Christian Grey as a man with deep seated emotional trauma stemming from childhood abuse who is unable to initiate intimacy outside of sadomasochism because of it is a continued mockery to the community. It states that people participating in BDSM do so because of some sort of psychological damage and that is not always the case.

Self-Awareness & Removing Accountability 

Christian Grey is not an idiot. He knows he's dark and twisted, he knows he has issues, he has stated it. This is why he's been in therapy for years (with seemingly no progress). He admitted his actions and motives were often selfish yet he continued to repeat old behaviors and the same path. Self-awareness is great but useless if one continues to manipulate someone for selfish reasons. 

Love Can Make Someone Change

So many women (and men) in abusive relationships strongly hold onto the idea that their love and their sympathy can help the abuser change their ways. No matter how many times the opposite occurs. This novel perpetrates that idea and allows women in this same position to keep on trucking on. To keep on taking abuse in hopes that something will change. We need to be teaching our women that it is okay to leave. That we are not emotional saviors of men. That it is not our job to fix someone. That we are important and that we have self worth. 

The Author

My other issue I hold is with the author herself. I remember watching this interview and being mortified that this was the woman who was attempting to normalize abuse and calling it BDSM. She did research via the internet and seemed as though BDSM was something to be ashamed of while being questioned by the interviewer. She had a huge platform to help normalize the misunderstood BDSM community. She had a huge platform to promote sexual positivity. She did none of it. But I don't blame her, I would be ashamed with this mess of a book as well. 

This series is an insult and mockery to the BDSM community. Christian Grey is portrayed as a romantic, edgy hero when he is, in reality, a master manipulator. Horror movies are labeled as horror movies. There is no question about the purpose of a horror movie. There will be gore and murder and brain matter. Rape culture and abuse masquerading as a romance movie gives the wrong idea to countless viewers. And in a world where rape culture exists, normalizing and fetishizing this type of relationship is dangerous. 

By all means, watch the movies and read the books. Enjoy it. Go out and buy yourself a blindfold, some rope, a whip, and pick a safe word. Feel sexy. Feel inspired. Feel seduced. Feel horny. Feel aroused. But do research. Talk to your partner. Understand each other's limits. Understand safety concerns. Be open. But please do not use this book or this movie as a manual or a relationship to achieve. It's important to realize the problematic undertones within this series and have an open, honest discussion about it. 

What we truly need is more erotic books that fetishize making women squirt and partners that equally communicate needs and desires. Romanticize consent.