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.
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.
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.
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.
A habit of mine, left over from years in sales and management, is following trending articles and posts on LinkedIn. I have a few reasons for still doing it, although it’s been a year since I left the corporate world.
I enjoy seeing the accomplishments of friends I used to have lunches with- those who have put in the hours and years and finally got to the rung of the ladder they’ve always wanted.
I grumble about the CEOs bragging about increased margins (all the while I cringe knowing it came from layoffs that affected some friends).
Part of me keeps reading thinking that if I ever go back, I’ll still be in the loop.
Then there are articles that make me sad- remembering the time I spent chasing paper. One article I saw today showed a photo of a single light on in an office. The caption read “That’s my office light on because I’m the last one to leave the entire office building. The money isn’t going to come to you. You have to put in the work to get that money” (C. Sanders)
The humble brag. Or the mantra to make yourself justify the time spent away from children, family, friends. The Badge of Honor of the sales professional- I work the hardest, I get the biggest paycheck.
I did it too. I bragged about sending emails and working spreadsheets at 3 am. I had conference calls in McDonald’s parking lots with my son in the back seat with a Happy Meal while I coached a sales team over the phone. I skipped funerals. I missed parties. I showed up late or not at all to friend’s weddings.
I was the one with the last light on in the office.
At many points in my life, my hustle meant keeping a roof over my son and my head. At other points in life, I did it just for the bragging rights- the look at me, I’m a “real” sales professional. I wanted to impress bosses. I wanted to impress family and friends. Maybe I had a complex that I ‘only’ had a degree in fine art, and somehow getting a paycheck with benefits validated my existence.
Instead of crucifying myself and rehashing the guilt from leaving my crying son at home for 2 weeks while I attended a sales training- I try to remember that in every season of life certain things will have to be done. Those hours I poured into work- the company has long forgotten- but the paychecks kept food on the table.
I just hope that when those times come again, I work the hours for the right reasons and not just for bragging rights on LinkedIn.
A checkup and check in since reducing my digital social media-
To recap- I recently unfollowed everyone (almost 400 people) on Facebook. Groups. Sales Pages. Businesses I liked. Bands. TV shows. Things I didn’t remember joining. Friends, family. I was unmerciful. I unfollowed it all.
For a week, I’d spin thru my abbreviated newsfeed and only find an occasional rogue group or person I had missed on my cull. I slowly weaned myself off even checking the timeline because now there was nothing on it.
Twitter and Instagram too it’s place. Twitter, however, is now gone. I found I am not witty enough for the banter. I don’t understand half what is written there, and I had nothing meaningful to contribute to it. Gone.
Instagram has been wonderful. I am filling my feed with artists from around the world- some I know or knew from school- most I have never met, but admire. I have satisfied my urge to control what I see with this feed.
With Facebook, I did find that I missed out on some important things- a friend’s cancer journey made me pause and revisit who and what I follow on it. I have slowly added family and friends back on- not nearly the number I had. Most groups I muted, and check when there is something I need- not when Facebook decides I need to hear something.
There is a sweet, precious life waiting for me on the other side of the bright lights of my smartphone screen. I have lived it once, because I am old enough to remember life before computers in the home and smartphones in every hand. I would love to get back to that life- and focus on the real, tangible world surrounding me- 100% focus on my family and work.
I am hoping that by tightly controlling my newsfeed, I can inch closer to my dream of a less digital life.
My fellow Minimalists- I am here for confession. I have sinned against all tenants of Minimalism- Behold, my shower stall. How many adults do you think live here? The answer- 2. And in total, 8 shampoos, 2 conditioners, 2 face washes, and 2 Body washes.
How did this happen? I’ve been so careful to downsize the rest of my life. Clothing gets sorted once a month for donation. Old books taken out. Magazines removed. My digital detox where I removed my news feed from Facebook and turned off email notifications.
The fact is, Minimalism is a journey, not an end result. Something that needs constant monitoring so not to fall back into old habits.
This mess of a collection began by me highlighting my hair. I tend to go brassy, so I needed a toning shampoo. Then my usual shampoos dried out my hair, so I purchased (on sale) two others. They also left my hair dry. My husband ran out of his usual, and I couldn’t find it at the store, so I grabbed the next best one. Then a few days later, I found the actual one he wanted so I got that too.
So here we are, faced with the cold hard truth staring at me every time I take a shower. Instead of enjoying my tub time, I am wracked with guilt at the waste of product and money. And that is just one tiny corner of my life.
The good news is, it will all be used or donated to my sister- I am loathe to throw away perfectly good product.
It was eye opening, and a good reminder for me to be diligent with how I spend my money, and what thought process I take before I make purchases.
So while my digital detox is going smoothly, I will need to move on to the physical items around me. Again, I am Minimalist in Training….
The movie line wandered thru my head early one evening. For years and years, my answer would have been- “To climb to the next promotion, score the biggest commission check, win the trip to California– Get the admiration of my peers and congratulations from my managers”.
I would have thought a new Coach bag. New mufflers for the Mustang. Two cell phones, because who can have just one number?
Chanel perfume. Dior mascara. Gel manicures and weekly pedicures. $300 haircuts and highlights.
Big screen tvs. Latest Xbox. Blue Ray collection before Blue Ray was a thing. GPS units. Fit-bit trackers.
These things in themselves are fine, and many are high quality well working products.
What was wrong in my mind was the relentless pursuit of them, then the acquisition of them, and finally the disappointment soon after when the “Next Best Thing” was announced.
What also was wrong was the 70 hour work weeks. Being 30 pounds overweight. Blowing off family events for manager meetings no one would remember two weeks later. Email and chats with co workers at 3 am about spreadsheets as if it were government policy we were writing. Only to have the big project scrapped just over a year later, all that time and stress amounting to nothing– and the big paychecks spent and forgotten.
I’d be a hypocrite if I said I still don’t enjoy nice electronics. Or reading up on the newest phone features. Scrolling thru Pinterest for the latest hair styles, or shopping on Amazon for little things for the kids.
On the evening I remembered the line from Conan the Barbarian, I no longer thought of these things.
What’s best in life? Listening to my son make-believe stories with his Legos. Watching my baby girl smile in her sleep after a warm bottle. Coming down the stairs in the morning and seeing my husband’s slippers next to mine. A cup of fresh coffee, and some sunshine thru the trees as the birds sing their good mornings.
I wish I could tell my 20 year old self to be careful what you sell your time and soul for. That the things I chased would be shadows and memories nearly as soon as I grasped them in my hand. And that all I was looking for would be the most simple, peaceful things this world can offer.