Pack it Up, We’re Heading Home

We got word today that by Friday (two days from now) we can move back home.

To Do:

  • Pack Clothes
  • Pack Toys
  • Pack Groceries
  • Vacuum and Dust Down
  • Leave for home

In the past, moving a family of 4 from one home to another would have been a frustrating experience.  I made the decision this time to pack just what we would need, no more, no less- And that reminded me of all the things I may not need when I get home.

I survived with one make up bag of ‘essentials’.  I made do with 3 pairs of shoes (for the record, one pair each of sneakers, slides, and wedge heels that worked for dress up or down).  I existed with my phone and surface tablet- although, I admit, the Ipad and Kindle were welcome for catching up on some summer reading.

For the kids, my son is content with a travel box of Legos and his Nintendo Switch.  The toddler was a challenge- although a small pile of favorite stuffed animals and books did the trick.

I am hoping that when I get home, I can take a hard, honest look at some ‘areas of opportunity’ for me- namely, my studio and my closets.  I had a working Capsule wardrobe of maybe 4 tops and 3 pairs of pants that got me thru a month no problem.   I would add a dress to the mix, just for dinners out, or going to church.  But what I left home, I didn’t miss- and I suppose that means it can find a new home soon.

My studio is, to put it nicely, a catch all.  More appropriate would be a hell-hole.  Everything that doesn’t have a home goes there- and I am missing a little corner to read a book in, study my art work and a desk to do paperwork.  I can visualize what I want it to look like, I just can’t quite figure out how to get it there.

My son has a new dresser which I am excited to try the Kon-Marie technique on his clothes.  We have about 4 weeks before school begins, and that means it’s crunch time to get prepared as well as enjoy the last few weeks of summer freedom.  On deck for plans- a trip to the local zoo, then a petting farm, and the Easton Farmers’ Market.

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! ” -Thoreau

Three words could not more eloquently or succinctly describe what I must do!

Hypocrite

I am going to head outdoors with my cup of coffee to listen to the night creep in over the stream. First, a confession.

I paused for a moment, considering the hypocrisy of writing about minimalism from my vacation home.  Hesitated, for a few months, because I am here while my first home is having a total kitchen renovation done.

How could I pretend having two homes is somehow justifiable? Hypocrite.

While I may work toward minimalism, I am not in a minimalist family.  Like any good business partnership, marriage works best when the pair head off in the same general direction- in this case, I am content with my husband taking the lead of our little family, and enjoy the projects we find ourselves in.

A tiny home is not in the cards for us- At 6′ tall, he has spent a good part of his career in small bunks on tugboats or work trailers- so when he is Home, it is not and cannot be a tiny place. Home is a place to stretch out comfortably in all directions.  A room for laundry, separate from the office, a distance from the kitchen; then down the stairs to exercise equipment, and so on.

The vacation home was my primary residence up until our marriage- a Cape Cod style on the banks of a creek, tucked away in some pines.  Not tiny as HGTV would have you think- but snug, cozy, in all ways “hygge”.

And so, in guilt, I was reluctant to write- because isn’t the Tenants of Minimalism to downsize in all things?

If I were single, in my 20’s, then yes- But the reality is I am a very happily remarried 39 year old mother of two- and part of that happiness is seeing my husband pleased with his surroundings.

I minimize the other parts of life.  I use 3 pairs of shoes instead of the old way of dozens kicking around the house.  My makeup bag (singular) has only what it can fit- if I purchase something new, something must get recycled or passed on to my sister.

Our daughter plays with an assortment of her brother’s recycled 7 year old toys that I kept (intuition and blind hope told me not to get rid of his things even after my divorce).

Summer vacation was at the vacation home this year. But the vacation was the experiences of sharing my corner of the world with my out of town husband, and our kids-  Little day trips to a butterfly garden, a local aquarium, out for pizza, or just playing ball in the yard- That was the priceless joy that Minimalism helps achieve, at fraction of the costs of an exotic (Disney) trip this year.

So I release my guilt now, and follow what parts of the minimalist movement I can- and look with a more gentle gaze on fellow Minimalists at whatever path they choose to walk.

Enough

I went through the steps to become an Amazon Prime seller after reading some articles on line about people reselling clearance items from Target or Walmart.  Seemed like an easy concept, buy low, sell high. After supplying Amazon with some basic information to prove who I was, I was a seller.

I picked up a few items on clearance at a local art and hobby store, added to my seller site and waited.

My husband noticed what was going on after our son started begging me not to sell the items, as Vince (our son) was hounding me to play with the toys.

I explained to my husband what I was doing with the items. The process is more time consuming than I thought- I actually don’t like shopping, even if its to resell for a profit.  And the amount of research involved to make sure you’re turning a profit is a time drain as well.

He laughed at my stressful efforts, said “Don’t we have enough?”

Why was I doing this?

Thank God, we are in a time where our bills are paid, we are fed, and can afford to get both Hulu on demand and Netflix.

I can remember times in my life where that was not the case- $10 an hour plus commission as a single mother with a mortgage and car payment found me getting very creative with how to stretch my budget.

And yet, it was enough.  My bills were paid, the car and home kept up, food on the table, and both Vince and I were extremely happy.  I hustled when I had to, and enjoyed the quiet times that came along with our time of “less than”.

I have forgotten how to be content.

I didn’t become a seller on Amazon primarily to make money.  It’s because I was not content with Who I am.

I am “just” the Mommy.

I have had many titles over the years- Manager, Artist, Airbnb Host, Account Executive, Market Manager, in addition to Wife and Mother.

After a particularly bumpy start to the year, all those have been scaled back to Mommy and Wife. There were too many illnesses, doctor appointments, and general running around that prevented me from doing anything other than Mommy or Wife.

One night, following a teary, self pity party I threw for myself, my husband reminded me that these jobs are the most important I have ever held.

So why wasn’t that enough?

There’s plenty of marketing going on now to women, in particular, to be More, do More, contribute More- Under the disguise of reaching for your own goals. If your budget and household need the extra money to survive- or to elevate your standard of living to benefit the members with a better school or neighborhood that is safer, by all means, it is necessary to put in whatever extra time and effort into securing more money for those things.

It’s another thing to feel less than because you aren’t selling enough thru social media of whatever product-of-the-month is hot.  Or if you aren’t juggling going back to school, a 40 hour a week job, and also raising 2 kids while also mopping your floors with homemade soap.

Perhaps I am being too sensitive.  But the more I read up on goal setting, and achieving more, the more disappointed in myself I become.  In protest, the more I retreat away from the noise that results in me measuring myself against a standard that has nothing to do with me.  Personal achievement, and “How to Accomplish More” has become another sales pitch to people, who like myself, feel lacking- and happily spend money on the latest book or blog to fill that gaping hole that can’t be filled in our heart.

What is Enough?

For me, at this moment, Enough must be enjoying a cup of coffee while my baby takes her over-due nap.  It will be a dinner on the table for us tonight, and a book before bed with the kids.  Right now, that is enough.

“11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

 

 

 

 

It’s 3 a.m.

My Pinterest Worthy To Do List:

Kon-Marie my home.

Use a minimum of 10 beauty products before bed each night (Korean beauty routine).

Run successful “side-gig-” from home thru social media.

Be losing weight on the flavor of the day diet.

Make sure kids are in no less than 2 groups or organizations a week. Maybe even piano lessons for the 11 month old.

Wash the baseboards of my walls.

Read one book every two weeks.

Start selling on Amazon.

Join a Mommy Group.

Practice an hour of mindful meditation each morning. Follow up with an hour of yoga.

Exercise 1-2 hours a day

Blog.

Clip coupons. Hand make Halloween costumes. Bake and cook from scratch.

And so on……

At 2:44 in the morning, (or middle of the night?) after the fourth time the baby has woken up crying since 10 pm, this list is what rolls thru my brain.

It’s the highlights of everything I am “supposed” to be doing. And since I am not, it is the reminder of how I am failing at modern life.

There’s books and blogs and pins all over the internet explaining in great detail how I can have and do it all. Be all that I want to be.

Since when have I ever wanted to meditate? In the foggy brain stupor over my first cup of coffee in the morning- does that count toward the meditating?

I raise a toast to the Moms who see this list and do each and every one item on it with gusto and a smile.

For me, and my sanity, a new list, Minimized and customized to me:

Keep children fed, clean, and happy

Keep husband fed and happy. Clean if necessary.

Keep a pot of coffee on all day so I can stop this time wasting nonsense of brewing a cup at a time.

Mop the floors, and switch out the laundry.

Take a deep breath, baby will eventually nap and then I can paint. Or blog. Or, what the heck, take a nap myself.

Note to self: Throw out that first list I wrote.

The Return to Minimalism

A bumpy start to the New Year- while it seemed the whole world was busy creating and executing their resolutions, my family spent the first 21 (and counting) days sick. From strep throat to the corona virus, and a trip to the ER for baby- I am over it all.

Adding to my frustration is the Return to Minimalism, sparked by the Netflix original Kon-Marie show.

I watched in agony- some from strep throat- but mostly because the growing Post-Holiday Pile Up was still here; and I was either sidelined by illness myself, or helping my husband as we ran kids from doctor to doctor.

Fear of Missing Out- here everyone is remembering the joys of simplicity- tossing out piles of clothes, emptying drawers, recycling and discarding.  And like the rest of my good intentions for 2019- nothing has happened.

No studio time.  No deep cleaning of the house. No sorting of old paperwork. No emptying closets and seeing what sparks joy.

Forgive my whiny rant- I am hoping that maybe this week, if the stars align, the family will feel better, and just maybe, I can set some goals besides monitoring who is taking what antibiotic at what time.

Minimizing Me

My hiatus from some of social media freed up some time to work on new projects- but I apologize for being gone so long. Sometimes inspiration for writing doesn’t appear as on schedule as I would like.

In the spirit of downsizing- a brief update on what I have been doing.

I had a major painting project due- a commissioned piece that I had to re-paint 3 times before I got the image I wanted. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the first 2 attempts were just not what the painting should be.  But the third time was a charm, and I got it closer to the mental image I envisioned.

I also worked thru a Bible study regarding diet and eating.  After steadily losing weight post-baby, I found my weight creeping in the wrong direction. I also felt terrible most of the time- achy, grumpy, and tired.

I have done half-hearted attempts at weight loss in the past.  My most successful was with Beachbody a few years ago.  This time around, I didn’t have the motivation to even try that.  Like I said, I felt pretty lousy.

My husband was looking to shed some pounds too, and after a couple weeks of us discussing what our efforts should look like, we settled on ‘old fashioned’ counting calories.   I added the Bible study portion, which had daily readings and Scripture discussing how taking care of our body was important to God.

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“Date Night” Yes, we still have a splurge every now and then..  

In addition to minimizing my weight, it has minimized our grocery budget.  The difference in the amount of food I cook and serve myself now at 1400 calories, versus what I consumed before is massive.  The digital scale and measuring portion sizes has been unbelievably eye-opening.  Did you know salads at restaurants can start at 500 calories a piece and that’s without dressing?  All the time I thought I was ‘watching what I ate’, I was blindly eating triple the amount of food I needed in a day.

I can’t/won’t give up things I adore- like pizza, an occasional cookie, or a good steak- but it’s all been portion controlled and fit neatly into my calorie bucket for the day.  More fruits and vegetables have found their way on the plate because you can eat a ton of them and its not a lot of calories.

How does it all fit in to Minimalism? Minimalism to me is about removing the clutter that distracts us from ‘real’ life- and in my case, my overall health had been suffering, and food took up way too much time obsessing about what the next yummy treat would be.  In minimizing my calories for the day, I was given the added benefit of time back for other pursuits; less weight as I stepped on the scale; and an overall better feeling of health to take care of my family.  So far, all wins in my book.

50 days later- with the help of a digital scale, Myfitnesspal app, “I Deserve A Donut” by Barb Raveling, and a lot of praying- I have lost 8 pounds, and my husband probably 12 or more.   Cheers to on the going journey.

 

 

Social Media Update Pt. 2

I was surprised to see one of my Minimalist heros, Ryan Nicodemus announce on Instagram this week that he was un-following his friend list as a new approach to his social media habits.  I wrote a post earlier  regarding doing the same thing-  for those of you who have not tried it, it really is an eye opening experience.  What I did to my Friend List

But it still hasn’t been enough for me.

I got thinking about the subject again when fellow Minimalist blogger Craig Harmann, author of The Minimalist Musician- wrote a piece about how he was going to try a social media fast. In the article, he states that he would take a break from Saturday morning thru Monday afternoon.  You can read his blog post Here

I recently un-followed my  news feed on Facebook. That in itself has been a huge success- my timeline and newsfeed now only contains bits and pieces of it’s former self; it now revolves around art news, and highlights of life I want to see.

But Craig’s post reminded me that social media in general is still taking up too much of my time- and with two young kids at home and a husband I adore, I wondered if I still don’t give them my full attention. Or worse, am I that person on social media that overshares her life?

Examining my motivations may give me greater clarity as to whether or not I should hit “post”

When I work on a painting, am I posting pictures of it to share my steps in creation? Or in the back of my mind, am I looking for affirmation and “likes”?

Before I hit send on the cute photos of my kids, is it really because I want relatives to see them? Or to ‘humble brag’?

Painful to actually think thru the process and openly examine my motivations.

Craig’s blog post forced me to really think about it, as unpleasant as it may be.  And his suggestion to do a fast has been intriguing.

Having grown up in the Pre-Internet days, I find it amazing that I now have to force myself away from it- when I lived for many years without it and had no issues. Beginning today, I am going to try to stay off of social media, both posting and watching, from Saturday morning until Monday morning.

Back to my cup of coffee and making a list of things to do in the real world today.