Moving Day

The baby was up most of the night but it ended up being a blessing in disguise.  My husband took care of her most of the morning, and now as they are both catching up on sleep, I am outside watching the bumble bees and butterflies do their morning chores among the flowers.

It’s moving day- and of course will be 90 degrees and humid. I thought we’d be in a rush to get back home, but there’s been no frantic rush to go anywhere.

I wish I could say the vacation was all sunshine and rainbows- although, we did have days with both.  The kids and I took turns being sick, so that cut out a good week and a half from the fun.

Our favorite days were spent playing in sun-showers in the front lawn; or watching baby learn to hit a t-ball; Dinners with my Dad; and waiting for my husband to get home from work to do some adventures in the area.

It’s been a blessing, and I pray the kids remember some of it.  My son loves the area- he got to camp out with his Grandfather, and run through the yard here like he did as a toddler.

We did so much, and still in four weeks I feel like I didn’t get to do everything I had planned.  I had hoped to run a yard sale to get rid of some excess things that were left behind in sheds.  I didn’t get to wander around by the creek picking up stones.  I only did a little artwork, but I did collect enough photos to have plenty to work from during the colder months when we are stuck indoors.

And a thank you to my husband for making this all possible- and I apologize again for calling you crying about the bat flying thru the house that one evening.  As my son says, “You’re a country girl, you should be able to handle this”.

 

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

 

 

 

 

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.