minimalism

?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.

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Out of the snail box

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I am currently drowning in a sea of paper.  Paper that I never ask to recieve.  All junk.  Junk snail mail.

We closed on our new house in April, and I still have not changed my address.  I am afraid of the mail.  Actually I am terrified as to how much more will show up.

I have so many papers from the kids, the business, my many other non-profitable wastes of time, bank cards, student loans, medical billings….you name it, and it keeps growing.  I am sure some of you can feel my pain.  I just want to be left alone.  Remember Kramer and the post office episode:

That’s where I am….. “I want out, permanently.”

I am tire of the mindset that something important will be in the mail…..it is never important.  Never. If it is important someone  will knock on your door and make you sign for it.  Been there and done that a few times, and guess what ?  It is usually important, and usually not good news, so why would I want any more of that?

This is all getting to my clutter “issue”…..Okay let’s call this one a Problem with a capital “p”.  I have been trying to de-clutter for what feels like and eternity now, and I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere.

I want to be honest, but I can’t even bring myself to take a photo of where I am sitting.  Okay, you talked me into it…..I am only sharing this photo to make you feel better…..here goes…..gotta find my iPhone…. still too lazy to get my big camera out.  Ok ready……

This is bad.

Granted we are in the middle of a total renovation of our house, and we haven’t yet finished even one room.  The renovation is taking far longer than we ever could have imagined in a million years.

Dining room table/desk inventory:  Wine glass from last night (nice touch gonna have to rinse that out for tonight), dog brushes thus add “dog hair to my clutter”, a paint palette, a white board, a printer, a stapler , headphones, a new light fixture from Ikea….and of course junk mail, and papers.

This isn’t acceptable. I gots me a problem.

What to do when you are overwhelmed and unable to focus:

1. Drink alcohol.

2. Stay up real late browsing the web.

3. Make zero attempt to fix this situation because you know it’s only going to happen again.

4. Acknowledge you have this problem, because they  say that’s the “first step” to fixing it…..Do this so you feel better and can justify another glass of wine.

5. Talk with anyone around about funny things that have  happen in your life….This causes you to laugh and forget you even have a messy desk/table.

6. Make a plan in the back of your head as how to procrastinate cleaning up this mess tomorrow.  After all weekends were made to enjoy.  We only get so many summer weekends in a year. Make it a good one!

Cheers!

Okay, so yeah this isn’t the way to get anything done.  It’s the tomorrow of yesterday, and I am about to go to the park.  By nightfall I plan to have a living room and a dining room that are identifiable.  Wish me luck!

Huge Motivator, It’s Really Small

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I can’t believe I have done it once again.  I am setting myself up for one more let down only this time it’s going to be the U.S. court system that delivers the blow.

This poor guy, I imagine he is poor now.  According to court records his 17 parcels are all on the chopping block.  Well I decided to try to take one off his hands.  This new possible house, I’ll call it No.3, is small.   Not unlike the house in my original plan, the small house in my journey to living better with less.

Here’s the kicker; all offers must be approved by the court.  So we put our offer in and wait.  Thus giving me enough time to question myself, and ponder the pros and cons of this “maybe ” purchase.

Love this, maybe someday

No.3 is  a small brick house with a pointy peak over the front door.  Nothing I currently own will fit in this house, therefore I am going to literally have to get rid of nearly everything.  Just like I said I was going to do before, but I still held on with a storage unit.  I told myself it was  because I didn’t know exactly where I would be living next.  (still true, but I think I was holding one to our past life)

Until we hear back, I’ll spend my time on Apartment Therapy looking at ways to make small look wonderful.   I’ll learn how to make form and function work with simple design and create spaces that fit our lives.  This will be fun.

All this time, what I am really learning through this process is even if most things don’t work out  eventually “some” thing will work out .

Then in creeps FUD; fear, uncertainty and doubt.

This house could be a bad decision, but then again, it could be a great decision.  As we get older we can clearly see the trail we have left behind.  Hindsight, that 20/20 bullsh*t that relentlessly gnaws at our psyche.  For some reason seeing that old trail we’ve left behind leads us to believe we have the super-power see our path into the future.  This is not good.

Thinking we know anything for certain about the future is ridiculous.  These thoughts beliefs can hold us back from looking things objectively, making changes, and it holds us back from taking risks.  We are conditioned by events throughout our entire lives, and somehow we decide that however we saw things,  that vision or” fact” should be set in stone.  Oh yeah, that’s what happens when you do” this” or ” that.”

Twenty years ago, I would buy this house and never look back.  It would be what it would be.   And no matter what happened after the purchase I would never look back and say, ” I suspected, I imagined,  I knew that would happen.”  No, I would just accept it, whatever happened, and I would move-on to whatever happened to be next.

How limited is our exposure?  Can you really say you’ve seen it all?  Have I witnessed everything you have witnessed.  Not a chance.

My point here is: forget about it.  Our minds are powerful, take the expiration off your brain and live again.

There’s an entire world of possibilities out there, just waiting.

Cheers!

Tip: Follow your instinct even if everyone disagrees. Repeat as necessary.

Inspiration:“People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them.”~Epictetus

One-day one-thing: Correct negative thoughts in your brain when they happen, don’t dwell in fear.

Santa’s not going to do this by Himself.

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I better get cracking.  My starting point: I have nothing planned for Christmas and I am mentally and emotionally spent.

In my de-cluttering mode I sold our fake artificial Christmas tree.  I had no place put it anyway and I figured we would get by with less.  Everything else for the holidays  is in here.

Just an fyi, if anyone is seeking a nice Christmas tree, Costco has beautiful real trees, cut, for 29.99.   They even tempted me.  They have short needles and are a good height and shape.  I think the tree is a good value plus you get that fresh pine scent in your house.

This year’s challenge is to make Christmas memorable,  fun and easy with low stress levels – without spending a ton of cash.

Unfortunately, it’s a super busy month even without the holidays.  First I have a business trip to Monterrey.  It will be beautiful, maybe stressful but maybe not.   Next I’ll be driving to NYC to chauffeur  two of my children home.  I’m not complaining at all, I love both places,  it’s just time consuming.

In New York I’d be happy to walk around with a coffee.  I like the sparkling silver star that hangs high above 5th Ave near Tiffany’s. ( if you go to Tiffany’s jewelry repair, 6th floor as I recall, you an get an awesome view of the silver star)   I also love looking at Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, they never disappoint.

We’ll play it by ear.  It’s not like my kids are teens and I can tell them what we are doing.  It’s more like they are mini-grown-ups, you know, with big ideas of their own.  I remember when I was their age, I went out partying all winter break, without my parents.

You know what?  I am going to buy that Costco Christmas tree and put it up. Why not?  Dress it with lights, garland and ornaments, and put some presents underneath.  Bake some cookies for everyone to decorate and make hot chocolate. Wow, a somewhat normal and simple Christmas.  So what if it’s in a basement?

That’s all it ever has to be….simple and real.   In my heart, I knew this all along.

Post Script: We lost the second house we bid on.  It was a multiple bidding situation once again.  Heavy sigh.  I feel like the world is telling me something, something like “stop what you’re doing- it’s not working.”

Tip: Concentrate on shared experiences instead of things.

Inspiration: ” Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” ~ Noam Chomsky

One-day one-thing: If you’re giving gifts, wrap them as you get them –  it’s the only way.

52 bones we abuse

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The human foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons. The 52 bones in your feet make up about 25 percent of all the bones in your body.  And we thrill ourselves by paying sometimes as much as a week’s  paycheck to contort those bones and ligaments into unnatural positions.  That’s right.  We pay dearly for these individual professionally designed torture chambers.  I am guilty of it my self.  In fact, I bought a new pair of heels yesterday.

It's very difficult to take a decent photo of your own foot -try it.

The good news is that I bought with purpose and forethought.  A novel concept for me.  I picked a pair that would match more than one dress.  Whoa.  Who am I?  This is a monumental shift for me.  I was shocked at how easy this was to do, and how accomplished I felt.  Such a simple thing and now I have new shoes for the majority of this year’s events.  If I am lucky enough to go out somewhere nice,  I have it covered from head to toe. No worries.

yeah, well "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty." ~ Imelda Marcos 1987

I am ditching my old shoes that I was holding on to for those “just in case” moments.  Just in case I wanted to look like I stepped out of the 90’s.  I don’t know when I bought the shoes I am getting rid of – no clue.   I sold my silver dress (I never wore) last month and forgot to eBay the matching (I never wore) silver shoes.

This is what clutter does to you – it literally messes you up to the point that thinking straight is no longer doable.  I don’t even try.

All that aside,  I am pretty pleased with myself and I’m ready for the next challenge.  Until then,  I will take this small win, and pat myself on the back and move on.  Less is definitely more.  I’m starting to like this.

Tip: http://donateyouroldshoes.org/

Inspiration: “Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

One-day one-thing: Sort your shoes.

Clothes: Who am I?

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Last week  I handled sorting my belts after a little self-talk-therapy. I now own four belts total.  There’s a fifth one hiding in a box somewhere, and when I find it I have no doubt it be long out of  style.  Which brings me directly to my point today; style and de-cluttering your closet.

Before you sort clothes you ‘ll need to define your look, your style , or lack there of.  Don’t worry if you feel lost doing this.  In the end, if you haven’t figured it out, your clothes will tell you.

I have little style.  I love fashion, and I buy fashion, but I don’t wear it.  I am a dog person- rain or shine, a dirt person-yard and garden work is fun and I paint- the paint always finds it way on to whatever I am wearing.

I love comfort but at the same time I  love the discomfort of high heels and formal gowns,  black tie type formals.   How many “black tie” events have I gone to in the last few years?  Zilch.  I love wearing formal gowns so much,  I often daydream about having a themed party for ladies only and making the required dress code an already owned formal or gown.  Play-dress-up and party.  (No one ever likes this idea.)

Reality:  I wear jeans.  I swear to God, I think I wear them ever day of the year.  So how many khakis, and slacks do I really need?  Answer: Two pairs of dress slacks for business.  No khaki’s needed, I only bought them for the two weeks I worked at Target.

To succeed in trimming your wardrobe you have to be brutally honest.  It gets easier the more clothes you toss, a sorting momentum takes over.   It feels good.   Remember everyone has different requirements for their clothing needs so adjust accordingly.  For example some people have uniforms and dress codes.  Just make sure those items are always kept current and in good repair.

Nothing can hide. I like it!

On to the work.  Here are some top questions to ask yourself as you look at each item of clothing:

1. Have I worn this in the past year?

2. Does this piece remind me of anything negative or bad?  If there is even the slightest bad memory associated you must toss/donate immediately, no excuses.

3. Does it fit now? Not ten pounds for now, today- remember brutal honesty.

4. Can you remember when you bought it? If it was so long ago, you say you have no idea, then get rid of it. (unless it’s become “vintage” and it passes all the other requirements)

5. Do you feel good about your self when you are wearing it?

6. Is it part of a total look or is it a stray that  never looks right with anything? Toss/give away the stray.

7. Do you have to tug at it?  Particularly under garments, stop the suffering now-toss.

8. Is the elastic rotten? ( I tried on an old swimsuit and the elastic crumbled. Sad but true.)

9. Do not think about how much something cost. Actually erase the amount spent from your memory bank.  It’s useless information.

10. Any progress is good, you an always come back to and continue this task as a “one-thing one day” action.

Some minimalist are extreme in the clothing area.  I am not. ( Remember -I am only in the  process to minimalism)  I like this easy route for now.   Concentrating first on raising my clothing awareness will help me  immediately in two  areas;  I will only buy what I know I will wear and my closet will only house items I like.

It’s your turn now. Look at your life and how you spend the majority of your time.  Once you have a handle on that, you can begin downsizing your wardrobe. Use the questions as a guide.  It will be inspiring, easy and you might even learn something.

Tip: Look up shelters for homeless and/or abused women and fresh start organizations.  These woman will really benefit from your donation.

Inspiration: “I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.”~ Katharine Hepburn

I’ve been shopping all my life and still have nothing to wear.”  ~Author Unknown

One day – one thing: Sort underwear, socks, and all your shoes, if you still have time tackle your clothes in the closet.

Additional links: Simplify Your Life Zen Habits (scroll down Zen’s post ,  if after sorting you still have a lot of clothes) And if you still need help organizing your closet visit Apples for Olive.

Minimal motivation

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Just like any anything that requires a lot of work and anything that will take a long time, it’s difficult to stay motivated.

“One day -one thing” method keeps you on course but it doesn’t give you that rush of accomplishment.  Continue to do “one day -one thing,”… I am telling myself.

So the the new challenge is to find out what will keep a you [me] motivated.

I can tell you from experience a deadline has helped me, but not in this case.  You see, I don’t have a deadline for minimalism. It’s not a necessity of life, it a choice.  My only deadline is my life.  I pick and choose when I will have less stuff, how I want to shape my life and how soon I get there.

someone is loving the cold

Right this minute I want to blame the weather for my lack of motivation.  It’s cold. It’s been rainy for the last few weeks, and now it’s cold.  I hate the cold.  I want the sunshine and the free and easy wind pushing me to tackle the crap in the garage.  I am so sick of sh*tty weather, that I could scream.  Meanwhile, someone else is waking up in the same weather, saying, “What an awesome day I love this! Can’t wait for the leaves to fall.”  It’s all a matter of perspective, and what you choose to believe.

(I know my dogs are saying that right now.)

Only two sips of coffee in me at the moment, maybe things will get better.

So I am going to suck it up, get dress go to the park, and smile.  I will be happy there, I won’t get my sorting done.  But just maybe I can find that motivation I lack.  Because right now, I know,  the only thing holding me back is myself.

Tip: If you find yourself unmotivated find someone to help. Just do something to make it a better world today for someone else.

Inspiration: I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. ” ~Douglas Adams

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”  ~Author Unknown

One day – one thing: Today I am making a list of the things, the big things I know I want to keep.  This will help me to visualize exactly which BIG things I have to donate, sell, or toss.  Getting rid of something large is very rewarding. (belts on the other hand very un-rewarding even tho they put up a fight)