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.

 

 

Last Light On

turned on pendant lamp
Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

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.

Minimalist Confessions

Shower
Perhaps I can start by Kon Marie-ing here

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….

Best In Life

“Conan! What is best in life?”

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”.

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Not my ride. But close to what I had.

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.

 

 

9 Simple Things That Bring Me Joy

Some simple things I enjoy that cost little to nothing. Prior to finding Minimalism, my list would have been more along the lines of what expensive handbag or cell phone I could purchase.

In no particular order–

-My morning coffee.  I have a Keurig that I will be retiring soon, and my Dad donated a French IMG_1135Press to me.  I love grinding beans before I brew- I have yet to find a more soothing morning routine and a better cup of coffee anywhere.

-Listening to the birds in the hedges.  I am up early enough with the pups and my son so I can listen to their music rather than turn on a station on Alexa.  It’s sweet, and pure and good for the soul.  Plus there are no commercials.

-Painting.  Something I do not do enough. In all fairness, I am two weeks from delivering baby, so it’s sort of uncomfortable to sit at the canvas for hours as before.   I enjoy interpreting the world around me however I want to- If you’ve never painted before, it’s great for focus and also relaxing.

-Reading. Or being read to- I have an Audible subscription I use on long trips, and I make use of the Kindle app on my phone and tablet.  Sometimes I get nostalgic for a good ‘real’ book in my hand, and I don’t feel guilty picking one up at the book store.

-Listening to my son play.  He has a big imagination, as most kids do, and likes to tell stories aloud as he creates things with Legos.  I would never be able to record all of the stories he’s spun- I hope my memory holds so that I can replay them when I am old.

-Baking bread.  I cheat. I use a Breadman machine I got several years ago at a yard sale for $2.  I’m not the best baker, but this lets me feel like I could be- and the smell of fresh bread baking makes any day better.  I also like that I control how much sugar is in it, and there’s no weird preservatives.  One of the best $2 investments I have ever made.

-Doing my own manicures.  Blame it on my years in ‘corporate’ life- I do like a fresh polish.  I do refuse to pay the money that I used to spend on one.  I make my own hand scrub with olive oil and sugar; use almond oil for a hand lotion, then file and paint.  It took me several months to get competent in painting them.  Well worth the effort, though.  And I find good quality polish on sale at grocery stores- last one I picked up was $.75.

-Gardening.  Although this year it may be scaled back to some planters of tomatoes and peppers, I like the process of watching seeds grow.  It also gets me some Vitamin D time in the sun and a yummy harvest at the end of the season.

-Hot foot bath.  I don’t have time in the day for a full bath, but I sneak 10 minutes in here and there for a warm Epson Salt and essential oil foot bath.  No essential oils on hand? No problem, some sliced lemon or orange, or vanilla to scent it works just as well.  Perfect for unwinding before bedtime.

If I sit a little longer, I’m sure I’d think of more simple things to bring me joy- Feel free to share yours in the comments section.

 

Two Weeks

Just under two weeks until we welcome our daughter to this world.  She is my second, so there is the anticipation of the joy of meeting her;  and the anticipation of the chaos of adding a new (hungry and crying) member to our family.

In a change from my first, I passed on having a baby shower when it was offered.  Partly, because I felt we made the decision to bring a little one here- it’s not fair to ask people to come to a party and furnish supplies for her.  The other, remembering the volume of ‘stuff’ I got for my son, I wanted to purchase only the Essentials for baby.  So many things went unused, or only used 1 time, it made me sad to see things leave the house brand new with tags on it.

I feel prepared, but there are still the unknowns- Not being sure her exact size at birth makes it a challenge for buying both clothes and diapers.  To satisfy my panic, I bought two small packs of diapers one in Newborn, one in Size 1.  Clothing is at a minimum as well- Some one size sleepy time bags (I remember the challenge of changing a diaper at 2 am and not wanting to stir a little one).  We were blessed by a family friend who donated two large boxes of beautiful newborn and infant clothing to get us started as well.

My son’s crib and changing table I hung onto for 5 years. I was too sentimental to let it go- sad that he may be my only baby, especially after my divorce, I had nearly given up hop

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2 Weeks till it’s the 4 of us

e.  But something in the back of my mind made me keep that, and a diaper Genie and other various necessities.  I tucked everything out of sight in the basement, and waited.  Thank God for Hope, or women’s intuition- saving those items literally saved us hundreds of dollars when we found out we were expecting.

 

I am glad my son will not be an only child- although I will miss the ‘just the two of us’ time we had.  He may never remember it, but I remember the several years as a Single Mom and how we grew together thru the experience.   He is now blessed with love from many people-  my favorite new mIMG_0826emories are watching my husband play guitar for him and having Vince laugh and dance and sing; or the three of us going to the local hockey arena and cheering for ‘Our’ team at the top of our lungs.

I can’t wait to meet Baby, and looking forward to the memories our family will be making.

Conscious Uncoupling

In the last few weeks, I have made an effort to monitor my social media habits and my ability to accomplish what I want to each day. Like many people, I am sure, I find that my smartphone- rather than being a tool- has become a mindless source of entertainment for me.  If it was a relationship status with social media- mine would be “It’s Complicated”

Under the guise of productivity and constant connection, I found that I had a set pattern of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, various forums, news outlets and then back again to the

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It’s not You, It’s Me- I just need a break.

beginning.  Standing in line at the store? Scroll thru some feeds.  Stuck on an art project? Turn to Instagram to see other artists and how my work measured up to theirs.  Time to write on my blog? I’d rather buzz thru Twitter to see the hot topics of the day.

 

Meanwhile, I bemoaned not having enough time.  My focus was out the window-  I had specific goals in mind the last few months for my family time, writing, and painting- and I was always too busy.  Yet there was always time for social media.

I’m able to admit my will power wasn’t strong enough to keep off it; I also acknowledge that the purpose of the smartphone and all apps, it to make it easy (and possibly addicting) to connect and share 24/7.   I won’t blame the technology, but I can see how it was easy to slide into using it all the time.

Instead of pulling the plug, I decided to do a “Conscious Uncoupling”,  in the spirit of a former Hollywood Power Couple.  I acknowledge I want social media in my life- but I want better control of it.   A blog post from the Minimalists reminded me of how taking a break every now and then can help you refocus on what you want to get out of social media.  It’s available Here , “How the Minimalists are Using Social Media in 2018” for anyone looking for motivation or encouragement on taking a break from the newsfeeds.

My first step was to remove my social media apps from my smartphone- all but Facebook Messenger (which my family uses rather than texting).  I did it one at a time, first Twitter, then Instagram, then Facebook.   I do need these programs to conduct business and stay connected- I am growing my art business, and how else will my blog get shared?  But I have found that there hasn’t been a message yet that needed my immediate attention- so they can wait until designated times of the day that I log into my tablet for updates.

Today is Day 1.  In the past I was able to go 40 days without any social media.   Now my goal is just to schedule it, like I would other household chores or projects– and get my focus back on productivity in the studio.   I would love to hear in the comments how others are backing away from smartphones, or how restricting your time on social media has improved the quality of your day to day life.