consumerism

Wow, patting self on back.

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So I have something to show you:

before
before

Ta da!

storage unit empty and gone on Halloween 2013
storage unit empty and gone on Halloween 2013

It was a long time coming but we finally got rid of this stuff and the monthly fee to save it.

We still have some items at my Mother’s house and in our garage and basement but we are getting so much closer.  During the course of this effort , many things have taken time away from our goal.  I say that not as an excuse but rather a reality check for myself.  You see I always think I can get everything down FAST!   Life doesn’t work that way.  More important situations come around that you have to tend to, or in many cases that you want to tend to.

It’s been a tough lesson, changing goals, deadlines, and lowering expectations….but I am better for it.  I’m still cluttered, but only half as crazy as I was before.

Cheers!

?Question? box your stuff.

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Once a pack-rat always a pack-rat?  Could this be my fate? I am disgusted with all the crap in my new fixer-upper.

Even after all this time of moaning and reasoning, learning, and purging, there is still too much crap!  I give advice like it’s nobody’s business, yet here I am facing a mess.  And when I see it I feel like, “Damn what happened?”

What’s my excuse?  Tell me because I would  like to know.

My guess is that I am fearful.  All the self help books out there claim fear is the strongest of emotions that guide our decisions….so I must be afraid.

Afraid of what?

I am afraid of being without, even though being without is my goal.  So I have a major problem here.

madonna-material-girl-video-cap-0056

I was raised in the material world, with the material girl.  I used to claim to my step sons that Madonna was my sister….they were kids (little kids), they didn’t now any better.  I also told them I was from outer-space  and that was even way cooler than being anyone’s sister.  Point being materialism runs deep in my veins.  I am ashamed to say, one of my nick names was “Shoppin’-Shirley.”

I held no limits and knew few worries.  Whatever, whenever as long as it was fun, and even better if I could buy something. My life was spinning without direction or boundaries.  Anything was possible.  Everything was an adventure.  Things were fun.  Buying was fun.  For me the late 80’s and all of the 90’s were out of control.  And I liked it!

Sorry if I am repeating myself

So fast forward to reality, ugh, do we have to?  Yes we do.  Now I am still on this quest. I call it my “journey to living better with less” but I am in a funk.  I have not reached my goals.  I am slowly pulling myself out of this funk, but that doesn’t make the extra stuff magically disappear.

Now for the: What am I going to do about it question?

I am going to start over.  I am going to the Start Here section of my blog and follow my own advice.  I may skip around the numbers some, depending what I feel like doing.  I am adding a new twist, I am going to hold myself accountable.  Astonishing right?  Accountability. Wow.

I have been lax in taking photos.  So regarding photos, I am going to try something new. I am going to take Reward photos, pictures of stuff packed-up and ready to go.  No matter where it is going.  The rule is there are only four places anything can go:

1. Donation

2. Sale

3.Trash/Recycling

4. ?Question? box. 

empty_box

The ?Question? box is new to me.  It’s my last thin thread of my holding-on tendencies   Items placed in the ?Question? pile can live there a week, and only a week.  Seven days.  After that week is up their fate is sealed.

This is my plan. If you are in the same boat maybe you too can kick-start your journey to living better with less. Wish me luck.  Cheers.

Helpful link: The January Cure.  This is a day by day plan for improvement in one month. Plus Apartment Therapy is an awesome site.

break

Tip: The more you put in the ?Question? box the better.

Inspiration: “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby

One-day one-thing: Make a ?Question box? or area.

Not buying into it

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So I am still on my treacherous journey to living better with less, however I’ve had a few roadblocks thrown my way.  For instance; perpetual moving. We moved last year, and we moved again this year, plus for some added fun we moved our office last month.

When you have to move with deadlines, you tend to throw things where ever they will fit, and this only leads to more chaos.

Welcome to my chaos land.  I have piles of crap, a storage unit that is totally filled again due to overflow from the business move, and a basement that needs to be transformed into livable space by Thanksgiving.

I hate it.  I have been working on this for over a year.   Sometimes it feels as if I am getting nowhere fast.

sampling of my inventory -tip: never do auto-delivery anything!

My focus yesterday was make-up. I didn’t take any photos (took the one above just now), because I just forgot. I forgot that, “hey maybe I’ll blog about this and get back on track.”  Nope, my only thought was, “What the f*ck is all this stuff?”  Tons of anti-aging shit. Really expensive brands that I never even used. I have wrinkles, because I should.  I am the perfect age for me.  But back when I didn’t even need the stupid wrinkle cream, I bought it.  I was convinced I had to have it, time and time again.  I bought into the hype, hook line and sinker.

And still I hang on to it; why?  I mean seriously, some days I don’t have enough discipline to even remove my mascara before bed.

( best tip ever: use a little olive oil to remove mascara, I promise you’ll never go back to anything else )

What makes me think I will ever want to go through some “ritual” every night to see maybe a 5 % difference in fine lines in 60 days?  Nothing.   I would never see the difference anyway.  In 60 days I would forget to even look.

In addition to the many miracle wrinkle creams, I  found duplicates of various blushes,  “glows” and even some Lip Venom. Lip Venom I bought maybe 4 years ago – unopened.  Like I need Lip Venom.  Big sigh.

I rarely wear make-up beyond mascara and lipstick and for special ” I give a sh*t days”  days I may wear some cover.  Even still haven’t pulled the trigger to go ahead and thrown away all these concoctions.

I can see now, I am really writing this post to psych myself into throwing hundreds of dollars of cosmetics away.  Tonight is garbage night.   Which means if I do it now, there is no turning back.  (Update I didn’t throw anything away on garbage night.)

I am half Swedish, I should know this already.

One good thing has come from this huge burden of material things, I have stopped purchasing items I think I want.  I have been sticking closely to buying only needs.  Lucky for me, my “needs” are really very few and far between. ( not to say big ticket items don’t pop up when unexpected -like brakes, tires, tie-rods, flight for children, and animal care, etc.)  But I have stopped buying meaningless stuff, and that’s a step in the right direction.

A guy I know once told me that his goal was to ” live below his means.”  I like that thinking.  That’s where I want to be; less stuff, no debt, and a simple life.  This is my goal.  Everyday we are getting closer, but it’s  a long process and along the way we do stumble.

The only thing to do after you stumble, I mean FALL, is get back up.

Here’s to getting back up.  Cheers.

(*Ignore my foul language that’s  just how the words came out today. )

Free from the grip

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This is basically how I feel and what I believe in a nut shell.

Please watch and actually take a moment to see how materialism has shaped your life.  I was forced to look at my ways, and I am better for it.  At least, I feel better and I am happier.

I am free from the grip of corporations, and I strive to become even more free each and every day.

Cheers!

mindtrash fall-out

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I know I have been missing from this blog, I have been working super hard on our renovation Project 1923.  I have been without a kitchen and a real bed for quite some time now, and I think it has help to change my perspective.  Simpler is better and easier for me.  Oh, and we no longer watch TV……that’s huge.

If you want to get the trash out of your head, turning the TV off is essential.  Try it for a week…. I dare you.  For serious down time, too tired to move or think down time, I have Netflix. Not the greatest selection, but the documentaries seem to suit me well at the moment.

Bit by bit, I am applying what I preach to my own life.  I have tamed the old wild-ass-consumer I used to be.  Curbed the hoarder I became as a result my shopping and now I think more clearly.   Literally I pause before each buying decision.  This solidifies my desire to use less, have less, and want less.  Not buying is incredibly empowering.  It truly is.

Just recently I’ve caught myself walking away from negative conversations.  That’s right,  just walking away…..I don’t care if someone thinks I am a weirdo.  Who cares what anyone thinks anyway?  ( you never know what is in their mind, so quit thinking about it.  It’s trash thinking, a waste of your own time and mind power.)  Be yourself, be kind, and do your best.  It is that simple.

As far as politics go, I have to turn it WAY off.  I am very opiniated about my political beliefs, however, I am never going to change a right-winged mentality.  I have learned that lesson and want no part of it.  It’s all trash- doesn’t accomplish a thing.  I am liberal at heart, and I have no problems with that. ( good thing I have a handful of political friends on line – or on-demand if you will – it’s nice to touch base without all the drama. )

Life is still hectic.

Our move has proven to be a great decision. We love our new town and our neighborhood.  It’s diverse, interesting and people are super friendly.  The house was a bargain, and the work we are doing to it is rewarding.  I have learned many skills and am stretching my imagination.  The satisfaction from a completed project is HUGE.

We are appreciating the good and actually ” living with less” is much more awesome than I ever thought possible.

I heard a friend say one day, ” My goal is to live well below my means.”  That stuck with me and I have chosen it as one of my many goals.  It’s fun.

Mini Update: I have weeded out my pottery, and actually am parting with some of my children’s art work.  The storage unit is less crowded, we hope to move to a smaller unit by September first. Currently my focus is on our renovation, 29 days of giving, real work and family.  Soon I will be paining ( art) again, it’s nice to even feel like painting again.

Whatever you want to change, you can – even if it takes forever – you have the power.  Until next time. Cheers!

Why do we Hang on?

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So this is my question today and I do not have the answer.

Why do we hang on to things?  What is it in our minds that puts value on things that in reality have virtually no value?

Our past is gone.  No matter how great or how horrible.  It’s gone. ( I am not talking about photos, because they actually catch moments in time)  I am talking about things, stuff, and sometimes weird stuff.  Items that we personally value whereas a stranger may consider it nothing more than trash.

What triggers our minds?

A Standard Life study suggests 28 to 40-year-olds don’t plan for the future because they prefer to reminisce about past times. Yet experts say nostalgia can give meaning to our seemingly dull lives.

In the extreme cases people can become hoarders.

From this article: “Some hoarders seem to feel unable to process all of the things that are part of their daily lives and feel “anxious, overwhelmed and ashamed” as the piles of clutter accumulate around them, according to Birchall. These people are often perfectionists and worry about making the right decision about what to do with each possession. The stress of trying to make a decision becomes too much for them, to the point where they avoid having to decide altogether by simply keeping everything.”

However, nothing can scare you straight better than watching A&E’s “Hoarders.”  I fall somewhere in between, maybe…not really as bad as an on TV hoarder, but I have enough crap to really dislike it.

I like to look at websites like Dwell and Apartment Therapy for inspiration of designs with little room or less stuff.  There are many more interesting people and sites out there that deal with living better with less. Some people live with nothing, that will never be me, but they inspire me just the same.

We don’t need to know the exact answer, it could be helpful, but I believe it is unnecessary to know in order to move forward.  Knowing what drives us in the past is good, but forget about it if you cant figure it out.  We only have to take things one step at a time with a dedicated focus as our goal.

Remember; if you are anything at all like me and you have too much stuff – change is hard, it takes times, and you will get there, eventually. Keep your focus.

You set your pace, rather your life sets your pace.  Good luck. 2012 is the year for me.  I just know it.

I wish you well.  Cheers!

Tip: Don’t buy anything.  Make a wish list.  Write it down.  Think before you buy.

Inspiration: “To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people. ” ~John Powell

One-day one-thing: Get rid of something, anything.

Barbie is a Hoarder

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I would not have believed it but I saw it with my own two eyes. Look at these storage containers that are for all her shoes, bracelets, hats, her books and her love notes from Ken. She is getting her containers this month, just like the rest of Americans. I hope she gets them on sale!

It took all I could muster up not to buys these, if as nothing more than a reminder, that out of sight is out of mind, and out of mind is out of use. I don’t need more clutter no matter how darn cute it is!!!

Just think how many ways she could use these storage containers – endless possibilities.

We live in a world where even the toys our children play with, multiply and eventually end up unruly and in desperate need of their very own storage system.

In my household it’s Lego’s and Brio Trains. I have them stored. It literally never ever crossed my mind to think of those “holy” toys as something I would ever consider as clutter. These toys belong to my babies, they are sacred. (I am kind of shocked at myself)

I have high hopes that one day I will have grandchildren who will like Legos. Is that far fetched? My realistic mind tells me I am crazy. I mean seriously – who am I kidding?  When I see little children now they are playing on cell phones.

I will keep these toys until the bitter end of my journey, because I can’t bare to think about it…..about any of it right now. That’s the truth.

The good thing , I like to let you know, is I didn’t buy the mini containers, and I only swore twice ten times today.

Life is hard. And life is cruel. Sometimes it’s okay not to be super productive.

(Barbie has all sorts of stuff it wouldn’t surprise me if she had a storage unit. )

Tip: Everyday write your current goal at the top of your to do list. This serves as an affirmation and helps keep you on the right track.

Inspiration: ” What if Andy gets another dinosaur? A mean one? I just don’t think I can take that kind of rejection! ” ~ Rex , Toy Story

One-day one-thing: Throw away something that is in your way. Just throw it away. It wont be in your way ever again. :)

# years, are we there yet?

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“#” is representative of the number of years since you [I] decided that, well, you weren’t cut out to follow the herd. The # number of years that have past since the time in your mind when you said this or that is bullsh*t. Or the time you said, I don’t think this how I want to live, I want to live differently.

I am not there yet, not after many ## years..

It is kind of obviously from my tormented posts, and my ups and downs and my vacillation and creative rationalizations. I fall into the category where I can easily identify the steps anyone else, except me, should take to change their lives. I am excellent at telling others what to do. But I try to do it for myself and I try really hard, and I fail.

Each time I fail, I start to settle for less and then I begin to procrastinate. I justify my failures, and I rationalize them away with excuses as to why some thing didn’t work. This leads me right back to the place I was when first I decided wanted life to be different. That, I will tell you is why my posts are a roller coaster. There are many times I stop believing I will ever get “there.”

I read several other blogs, and I love them all. I see I am in good company with some bloggers. But there are others bloggers who were able to do the hard work and really change their lives. Success stories. Those people have moved on to bigger and better things expanding their lives and living their dreams. And they manage to make it all work out fine within the confines of the need for money, shelter, work, love and fulfilling responsibilities.

I enjoy reading them, especially the honest ones. But they have done it, they are “there.” These blog are inspirational in a way that says,” I did it, so can you.” But they are so far beyond the point I am, that I barely identify with their reality.

Unfortunately, I think I need to see the the process. (someone’s progress other than mine because mine sucks) I want to see how they made their choices, and what they would do differently and how they learned from their mistakes ( if they had any). I want to know how they balanced responsibilities with their dreams. If they ever felt like they were letting anyone down, or possibly crushing someone’s dream to get to their own.

I understand nothing is simple, and one size will never fit all. This is a difficult journey.

For the sake of a simple example; one small change I am doing, trying to do, is I am changing Christmas and it’s not going over well. And maybe I will change it back. But right now, it’s most unpleasant to be the one that stands up and changes something that effects others. No one talks about how they really feel and I am just plain worn out from the dysfunction and I want it to end. So I am ending it.

I will be viewed negatively, and be seen as the odd-ball who “just can’t get along.” I already have be given the silent treatment on my proposal. Zero acknowledgement that I even spoke the words. Nothing negative or positive. Nothing. What I said was so inconsequential, it didn’t deserve the most basic level of respect, an acknowledgement.

And this is why, people who actually accomplish anything challenging, who create change, are so incredibly awesome. Because it really isn’t easy, no matter what “advantages” you may think someone has. To create real and lasting change of any sort, epic or teeny-tiny is quite possibly one of the most difficult things in life to do.

The tide of time never stops and it makes me wonder if we will ever get there.

Tip: Some people are happy with the status quo, they rarely understand those who seek to live differently.

Inspiration: “The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.”- Oscar Wilde

One-day one-thing: Ignore your detractors, as best you can.

Grinchy

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Okay here we go, into the holidays a time when people buy gifts for people because they are supposed to, or because they really want to, or because it’s tradition. Many people do this knowing that they really can’t afford to spend their cash, or worse their credit, and they do it anyway.

I used to love the holidays. Loved them. One year I even dragged my DH to the mall on Black Friday just because I wanted to be part of the chaos. Another year I flew to NYC and back the same day, just to be there on Black Friday for the fun of it.

I use to buy things for people I barely knew, just because it was fun. Fun to shop, fun to buy, fun to wrap and fun to give. Also I bought gift for people in case I ran into them somewhere. Many of those gifts are in my box of “new” things in our storage unit. ( somewhere )

When the children were little I spent every Christmas Eve wrapping while watching “The Christmas Story” marathon, I never went to bed. I would finish about six a.m. and they would be wide awake shortly there after. Those were the good years, even if I was sure to end up exhausted and full of champagne by noon. It was fun and exciting. They were always so surprised and honestly very cute. It was unpredictable and all brand new to them..

After many years of playing Santa Claus I started to find myself a little burned out, but it was still fun.

This year is drastically different. Here are the factors: My children are young adults. They either don’t want anything or what they do want is way too expensive. As for us, we are trying to declutter, so we don’t want anything. Nothing please. Additionally we are in a savings mode, because in the back of our minds we think we’ll be looking for a house again soon.

There will be no decorating, because we aren’t living in our own home. We won’t have our own tree, our own music or anything. And seeing as we were never church goers, we don’t have that tradition to fall back on.

I guess we’ll do the usual, the annual Christmas exchange of cash inside cards for the cousins. (that’s what everyone in the entire family does – every year) We never know if they will be there or not? But I always have the cards with cash ready.

It will be cold. It’s always cold.

This past many years have taught me so much, but right now I am tired of learning these life lessons. Enough already.

( which normally means I am about to get slammed with another one )

So this year I’ll be asking Santa for a big red velvet bag full of love, joy and peace, life lessons NOT included. That’s all I want.

“Pssst Santa, can you hear me? “

Tip: Remind yourself it’s only one day and read Gandhi before company arrives.

Inspiration: ” Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

One-day one-thing: Send someone who has crossed your mind a seasonal card even if you haven’t stay in touch.

I am the 99%

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Typical media and political spin - Ridicule and discount the message.

I am the 99%.

And I am proud of each and every person who has taken their time to express themselves.  A message such as this would have gone nowhere if it wasn’t true.  Keep on keeping on.  They may not  listen but we will.  There is power in numbers and it’s about time we took our power back.  Here are some things you can do to support the people: we are the 99%.

1.) Donate food items to your local food banks.

2.) Donate winter coats and blankets to shelters.

3.) Foster a pet, who may have lost it’s home.

4.) Support local small business whenever you can.

5.) Send a message to the bank behemoths, by moving your money to a smaller local bank.

6.) Stop investing in the stock market.

7.) Write your congressmen.

8.) Register to vote.

9.) Support local movements.

10.) Drive less, use less gasoline.

11.) Show your support, yard signs, sticker whatever.

12.) Stop using your debit card and credit card.  Pay with cash.

13.) Don’t let yourself become silent. Do not allow yourself to be belittled.

Remember it’s all about the mighty dollar and your vote.  Don’t give in.  This peaceful movement is going exactly as Gandhi quote says:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then

they fight you, then you win.”

Link: http://occupywallstreet.tumblr.com/

Link: http://occupywallst.org/