Bekka Palmer

Ending my relationship with impulse purchases

Writing, ConservationBekka PalmerComment
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I've spent the past year or so trying to reduce the amount of stuff coming into my life especially things that I don't really want or things that turn to waste quickly. I both wanted to save money, but also I am really sick of having to clean out my closet and house and just want less stuff period.

I am pretty careful about making big purchases and generally make them with a lot of thought and care, but my weakness lies in impulse purchases. It's fun, it feels good in the moment, I get that quick high of getting something new, and usually it's fairly low in price so it doesn't feel extravagant. But then, when I started adding up the cost of my impulse purchases I realized I could save hundreds of dollars a month if I learned to curb that impulse. Additionally, when I clean out my closet or kitchen or wherever, most of the stuff I want to get rid of started as an impulse buy.

Here's some prompts and questions I have learned to use when I am about to hit that checkout button.

1. Pause, take a deep breath. Sometimes this is the only thing I have to do to look at said item and think, okay I don't really need that, or I will just throw this away in six months.

2. Can I let it go? Meaning, if I walk away right now, how much longer will I continue wishing I had this item? Usually it goes away in about an hour.

3. Do you want this item long-term? If I am still thinking about a piece of clothing or decor the next day or two days later, then I think, is this something that will last me a year? Ten years? What's the lifespan of this item and can I responsibly dispose of it when it's time is up.

4. Will buying this thing cause me financial anxiety? Listen to your gut reaction when you answer this one. It's usually so obvious, but sometimes I make up a huge list of excuses to buy something, but generally, if it's going to stress me out to spend X money, then I need to walk away.

5. How long will this item be on the market? This question is great because usually it can buy you time before you click purchase. Like the perfect vintage shelves on ebay aren't going to last long, but certain slow fashion clothing brands are going to continue making those pants for another 10 years so just wait until you are ready to buy it. If something is fleeting, meaning that you have limited time to buy it, I always think that another thing will come into my mind to replace this desire so I can let it go.

6. Is there something else you want more than this? Pretty much always a yes for me, I have some clothes and jewelry that I am always saving up for, so when I look at something new or that I just learned about I can always say to myself, "Well, you want those Jesse Kamm overalls more than this t-shirt, so just let it go."

 

How learning to say "No" changed my life

Bekka PalmerComment
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I've been on about a one year quest that began with me wanting to change my career, but it turns out this process has changed my whole life. A year ago I officially started Closed Mondays and thought, I want to take this seriously and make it my full-time gig. I was looking to get out of commercial photography and make things by hand all day every day. 

So, I did a trade with a business coach for a few sessions and then was deep on my way to learning how to run a business and it turns out that it helps to have your life running smoothly in order to get your business doing the same.

Now I spend a ton of time talking about books, podcasts and other content that really helped me, so I've put together basically a step-by-step of what I would suggest to someone if they wanted to go through the long a tedious process of finding your life's work and then DOING it.

One podcast I listen to pretty regularly is the Tim Ferriss show. I generally take it with a big grain of salt (like Maldon sea salt, not your average tiny grain table salt) because he speaks from a place of white male privilege and doesn't always see that or notice that he is missing marginal voices on his podcast. I mention his podcast several times in this post, but just want to say, listen, take what you need, but also continue to find a diverse set of voices to guide you through your life. Anyway, that's where I found an interview with Debbie Millman that would be the impetus of change for me. 

Start there, take a listen and then, here's the most important part is do her assignment of the ten year plan. In her words, "do it like your life depends on it, because it does." Sitting down to write this out and taking it seriously gave me direction. This is a crucial step, because you can do all of the business classes and self-help you want, but if you don't have a destination in mind you will never get there. It will also help you to see what you want to prioritize in life and get rid of anything that doesn't fit into your dream world.

The next part is both the worst part and then later it's the best part. You gotta do some work to see what kinds of cobwebs have made a home in your subconscious that are holding you back. It hurts, it sucks, childhood trauma is real and scarring, however, once you find it, it's a lot easier to move past it. What I found personally is that many things that happen in my life that I don't necessarily want or like are patterns that have come up over and over again. Once you see the pattern, you will never unsee it and it will be easier to spot those friendships/relationships/problems on the horizon and steer clear in order to avoid repeating the same thing all over again.

There are a lot of methods to get into your head, I have tried most of the ones listed below and use a combination that works for me. You might look into some of these and say, "come on, are you for real, this is bullshit" and that's fine, if it doesn't speak to you, it's never going to work for you so try the next thing on the list or find your own way. But you won't move forward without looking back. 

I have tried a lot of these methods and found a mix that speaks to me. There are infinite ways to dig into your psyche and find healing. If something doesn't work for you, try another method. I would say that the ones that seem to work best are the ones with a daily routine as it takes a lifetime to heal your mind.

Okay so you dug deep, and are coming out of that cave. Now it's time to get really good at prioritizing the things that truly matter to you. That means, learning to say, "No." This is the number one most important lesson I have learned this year. Every time you say "no" to something that doesn't serve you, another, better opportunity will crop up. Seriously. It works.

Listen to Tim Ferriss again, he's got some great methods in this episode for saying no.

My favorite method of saying no is to create a set of rules for yourself and blame the "no" on them, so it  takes the personal out of it. "Thanks for reaching out, as an artist I am wildly protective of my time during the workday and have to say no to any events during that time. If you have another event in the evenings or on weekends feel free to reach out again"

"I am re-focusing my business on what matters most to me which is making baskets. This means I am no longer taking on jobs for product photography but you could reach out to my trusted colleague __________ for this job."

I have read the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown yet, but listened to a few chapters online and it seems EPIC. It's on my long list of books to read to change my life.

While you are doing all of this good stuff clean out your physical life too with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up my Marie Kondo.

 

So far, that's where I have gotten with this process in my life. I have seen a 180 degree turn in my career in the best way possible, and digging through my subconscious has helped me in so many ways I can't even count them. I'll keep ya posted on any updates, further reading or listening that I come across.

Some other books that I've been reading lately that intersect with the above:
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés Ph.D.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
 

Carry A Nation

Culture, PoliticsBekka Palmer
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I was so charmed by this story of Carrie A. Nation. In the late 1800's and early 1900's men were acting like drunk assholes and women had no rights. So she took it upon herself to support prohibition and then went one step further and walked into illegal bars and starting smashing things with her hatchet. Hear a much better version of her story on Criminal episode 73.

An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis

Change the World, PoliticsBekka Palmer
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I took some time this morning to re-read James Baldwin's letter to Angela Davis as it applies now as much as ever to the treatment of the asylum seekers knocking at our borders.

One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But, no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses.

Take a moment to read the entire thing on the New York Review of Books, and then put your money where your mouth is with Act Blue.

The number one most important thing

Change the World, ConservationBekka Palmer

I woke up in the middle of the night last night in a panic. For the first time in a long time my anxiety wasn't about my financial situation, but about the state of the world. I kept seeing this image of a starving polar bear. It's hard to get a grasp on global climate change, it's such a massive idea, and we don't always get images that allow us to relate to it, but the bear is sticking in a lot of people's minds.

Custom Denim for Wrangler

Made by HandBekka Palmer

The PR company representing Wrangler reached out to me a few weeks ago to do a custom denim activation at one of their NYFW events. I couldn't have been more thrilled to be considered for this. The team at Bollare (the PR company) was great and I spent an awesome (although physically exhausting) two days at their office customizing jackets and jeans. Above are some of the finished pieces.

Summer Photography Course

Photography, New York CityBekka Palmer

This summer, I will be teaching a photography intensive course in Brooklyn. Details below.

In this course you will learn from start to finish a professional photography process which you can repeat over and over again to get professional level photos on your own. We will start with taking photos on manual which gives you control over your images to importing, organizing, backing up, color-correcting, retouching and exporting. The course spans several weeks and gives you the chance to practice between classes. You will walk out with an advanced set of skills, it’s up to you to continue your practice to gain more experience. The class includes time in a classroom setting and time practicing taking photographs together.

June 29

Classroom: Camera setup, manual settings and importing
Practical: Spend time outside shooting on manual
Goal: Comfort with manual settings and importing photos.

July 13

Practical: Photographing people
Classroom: Lightroom basics
Goal: Master talking to real people and using Lightroom for color-correction.

July 27

Practical: Shooting still life
Classroom: Going from Lightroom to Photoshop for retouching.
Goal: Proficient in arranging a still life and retouching blemishes, trash, etc.

Add-on Class August 3

Classroom: Advanced Photoshop techniques
Goal: Proficient in more advanced retouching techniques such as combining multiple photos, masking, cloning.

Details

Dates: June 29, July 13, July 27, 2017 6:30 - 9 pm
Cost: $1250
Add-on Advanced Class: August 3, $300
Requirements: Must bring your own DSLR, memory card and lens Rental information available Must bring your own laptop with Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop installed (you can get a trial version)

Payment is due in full to reserve your space, class is limited to 6 participants. 

Check out the Workshops tab in the shop to reserve and for more dates.