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”.

 

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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Show and Tell Day

I had a comment from a reader asking how my scheduled time on and off social media was going.

The short answer:  Not very well.

I managed to delete the apps from my phone. I found myself on the web versions instead.

I meant to only use Facebook during breakfast hours- I secretly scroll thru at 2 am when I can’t sleep.

Rationally, I know this is unhealthy. I don’t know if it’s the fear of missing out combined with the happiness of a “like” on a post or picture.  It also doesn’t help that many people are suggesting that I can draw more business to my artwork, or Avon, or whatever thru the ‘magic’ of social media.

 

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I can remember the days Pre-Social Media.

None of this is true.   I listened to a podcast from the Minimalists yesterday, and they discussed their renewed and revamped use of social media for 2018.  During the conversation they made a great point about the actual “work” they do is their books and lectures- that social media should simply support announcing it. Social Media should not be the ‘work’ itself.

 

Eye opening for me- Especially when I read online multiple blogs about tips and tricks to getting savvy with social media. How to craft a twitter post that will attract followers; or how many hashtags to use on Instagram to direct traffic.

What am I directing them to if I spend all my time tweaking social media? I have crafted nothing, painted nothing- nothing to show at all for all this time.

I deactivated Twitter this morning.  I thought long and hard about my decision (total of ten minutes while brewing some coffee).  Over a year on Twitter and I had a amassed a newsfeed that included random store announcements from wireless carriers;  Bill Shatner’s ranting; and some Women in Art feeds.  The art feed I will miss, but I’m sure I can find the same information on Facebook or Instagram.

When I would scroll thru Twitter, I would find myself angry- either from something I read, or feeling not ‘cool’ enough for the Twitter scene.  There’s enough bitterness in this world, so I hit the deactivate button without a second thought.

Instagram was up next- most of what is on there I already see on Facebook thanks to the share button my friends use.  However, unlike Facebook where I have to “friend request” other artists who may not know me at all, or don’t remember me from years ago- I can simply follow them and their work on Instagram.  I get a lot of joy from seeing their paintings and inspiration to get me back to the canvas so, childlike, I can also post a painting on Show and Tell.

Maybe that’s the allure of social media in general-  What kid didn’t like to bring in something for Show and Tell day at school?  All eyes on you while you showed your prize possession- mandated quiet from the class so that you are heard.  Applause at the end of the presentation.

We are just big kids looking for the applause in the form of a “Like” or a “Heart” or a new “Follower”.