Monday, March 20, 2017

Let go of the Guilt

Let Go of the Guilt

Upon re-reading my previous post on the Sentimental Items I Kept, there was a realization, nay an epiphany, there were still belongings that I didn’t actually care about. After some self analysis, the reasons they were kept was out of a sense that “they should mean something to me”. I was building a sense of obligation to these items. In part because after ridding myself of 90% of all I owned the few tchotchkes that remained intimated they must be the most quintessential to my “collection” of knick knacks. Obligation is a heavy word. It weighs you down. Just pondering on the word obligation, a feeling of stress settles on one’s mind. The crazy thing is, I was the only person expecting myself to keep these items.

    Please, do not feel bad if you do not care about some sentimental items and heirlooms. A valuable lesson I learned from Courtney Carver (bemorewithless.com) was to let go of the guilt. Not just guilt from spending all that money when the initial purchase was made, but the guilt from not using it. There is guilt in money spent to store stuff, organize stuff and move stuff. Hanging on to the stuff will just cost even more resources and money. Forgive yourself and move on.

A large part of my hoarding issue was knowing the money I spent was wasted if I never used it. I never saw that holding onto it was costing me even more, not just money, it was taking away happiness, causing stress and alienating me from people. How refreshing to come home every day to be surrounded by only possessions that truly spark joy! “Use things love people, because the opposite never works” (theminimalists.com).

The following is a list of things I got rid of just this weekend.

1.Stormtrooper action figure

2.Han/Chewy action figure

3.Luke/Leia grappling hook action figure

4.Lego Millennium Falcon

5.Lego Ti fighter

6.Lego AT-AT

7.Lego x-wing fighter

8.Lego cloud city car

9.Red sox Fenway Park dirt

10.Red Sox ticket stub

11.Stainless steel funnel and cup

12. 2 comic books

13.NYC name sign

14.A few extra postcards (mostly if I got more than 1 or 2 per trip)

15.Pledge book

16.Hogwarts run medal

17.Convention patch

18.High school patch

19.3 graphic novels

20.Chopsticks wedding favor

21.Columbia black fleece jacket

22.Gray Loft leggings

23.Spandex shorts

24.Linen tank top

25. Canvas field jacket

26. 2 fossil necklaces

27. Duster Sweater

I am thinking next week of putting everything I own on the floor of my living room and taking a picture so y'all can see what I do have.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

You Might be a Minimalist if: (my attempt at humor)

You Might be a Minimalist if: (my attempt at humor)

1. Everything you own could be replaced in a 2 hour Amazon spree.

2. You have two cups, one dirty and one clean.

3. A full size jug of laundry detergent looks so big you go to the dollar store for the sample size.

4. HGTV looks like the maximalist channel.

5. You only watch HGTV at a friend’s house, you don’t have cable.

6. Work shirt has a hole, where is the needle and thread?

7. Backpack has a tear, email the company, “we will give you a free replacement”, no, how do I fix it? “Fabric tape”, fabric tape it is.

8. The dog’s 10 Star Wars sweaters are now 5, he looks fabulous.

9. After 10 years you begrudgingly replace the pillow that has tripled in weight (eww, gross).

10. The phone with a completely spidered screen, which crashes and shuts itself off, whose battery barely makes it a half day and runs hot, is your phone.

11. The library is like Cheers, all the librarians know your name.

12. Your idea of fun on a Saturday is helping someone clean out their closet or watching someone clean out their closet on youtube.

13. You are constantly tetrising your things down to a smaller space.

14. There is no need for renter’s insurance.

15. And lastly, you hesitate the buy that awesome green PBS nerd tee shirt because you already have 2 tee shirts at home.

(Yes, these all pertain to me, lol)

   

Sunday, March 12, 2017

End of 30 Day Challenge

End of 30 Items Used Challenge

    That’s it, I am throwing in the towel. The time to end the challenge is now, because frankly it is annoying. After three weeks of counting and recording all items used there is enough data to analyze. While this started out as a fun mental endeavor it has gotten tedious. Six more days will not make a difference.

    How are the results? There are a few things that surprised me. For the most part It was entirely predictable which items would be used the most. The more surprising for me, was the items I thought I used regularly were not as often as I supposed. I went on one weekend excursion, which may be thought of as skewing some of the outcome. Since I do travel frequently, especially for weekend trips, this actually was a favorable measurement. Listing clothes is too laborious so I will stick to objects, shoes, and coats/jackets.

    Items I used every day; well duh, you probably could guess that one! Bed, pillows, blanket, sheets, deodorant, toothbrush/paste, phone/charger, electronic picture frame/charger (it is set to go on automatically everyday in my living room), black mesh organizer bag, metal valet tray, earplugs, dog’s leash/harness, nightstand, hand soap, and hand towel, were literally used every day.

Items used most days (like 80% of the time); couch, ipad, headphones, tv, tv remote, polar pop cup, bamboo utensils, work bag, name badge with lanyard, school coffee maker,  purse, car, car keys, car phone mount, tupperware, moisturizer/sunscreen, hair brush, towel, robe, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, loofah, razor, bobby pins, nail clippers, nail polish, tweezers, pandora ring, alex and ani bracelet, silver necklace, owl necklace, coffee table, slanket, germx, paper towels, word search book, sudoku book, lamp, glasses, sunglasses, and my notebook/pen.

Items used less frequently (1-2 times per week); colored pencils/sharpener, coloring book, Tom Bihn packing cube backpack (holds coloring and craft supplies), sketchers athletic shoes, bobs shoes, flip flops, sanuks, rain jacket, fleece jacket, wooden letter holder, pot, frying pan, glass baking dish, whisk, bottle opener, drink cozy, spatula, serving spoon, mug, measuring cup, dish soap and sponge.

Items that I used infrequently (1-2 times in the whole month); laptop/charger, external mouse, thumb drive, Tom Bihn synapse 25 backpack, sleeping bag, canvas field jacket, selfie stick, tripod, make-up (mascara, cover-up, face powder and tinted lip gloss), packing cubes (2 Lewis and Clark medium ones), corkcicle, travel micro towel, folding toothbrush, spork, headlamp, sarong clip, wool buff, sleep mask, passport (didn’t use it, but whenever I travel anywhere even within the US I always bring it just in case something happens to my primary ID), stainless steel heart bracelet, kindle fire/charger, pencil by 53, bluetooth keyboard, laptop bag, c-swing hammock/stand and my baton (twirling kind not police issue).

Whew, that is quite the payload. It’s very interesting that in 30 days we do utilize a great deal of possessions. What is even more compelling is the gear that did not make the roster. Colorguard pole and flag, sentimentals stored in a under-bed container, camping hammock, camp tarp with tent stakes, a 2nd camp towel, wash n’ wear clothes bag, a large Lewis and Clark packing cube, 18 liter hiking backpack, coach clutch, denim jacket (although I did wear it today to work), 2 more pandora bracelets, 2 gold alex and ani bracelets, gold watch necklace, 3 rings, white shell necklace, visor, swim gear (well yeah, it’s not summer), camp pad/trail chair (2-in-1), camp hammock/straps, survival whistle, knee brace, candle w/holder, beach chair, beach umbrella, swim noodle, boogie board, tin camp mug, books (4), graphic novels (3), sharpie, calligraphy book, and I am sure a few more items I am not thinking of. On paper it seems a large volume of items, but every item I own fits into the trunk of my Hyundai Elantra. I can definitely do some trimming. Already the cogs are whirring and a mental list is being compiled of superfluous trifles that will not be missed.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sentimentals, How I Decided What to Keep

Sentimental Items

    When cleaning out and decluttering your home, sentimentals are often the hardest thing to let go of. In Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up she keeps the category of sentimentals last, that way by the time you get to the subject you have perfected your inner sense of what “sparks joy”. Upon cleaning out my own (I didn’t use Konmari method, didn’t learn of it until I had already cleaned out about 80%), it seemed that I was attaching sentimental value to useless items. Adding value because I happened to purchase them the day something momentous happened or because someone gifted it to me was causing an influx of pointless items.

    To solve the useless-yet-meaningful dilemma I took a picture of the item. Therefore I have a way to remember that summer at the cape with a picture of the pilsner glass and not yet-another-pilsner glass. Sometimes I would have something else like a postcard (I LOVE postcards for souvenirs and as sentimentals) and I can get rid of the other items from an event and keep the smaller reminder item. The beer cozy from your Aunt’s wedding 5 years ago is way more useful than that sparkle light candle holder centerpiece that is 2 feet wide.

    Gifts, what a nice thing! However, most people gave you that gift with the intention of it “sparking joy”. If it no longer does so, get rid of it! The gift giver did not want the item to feel like a burden on you. If you enjoyed it for a little while and no longer have use for it, it’s ok to donate it to someone who will enjoy it. Then it is the gift that keeps on giving.

The same can be applied to family heirlooms. You’re family’s ancestors want you to enjoy the item, because it was originally acquired for them to be useful or pretty or to enjoy. If the old dining room hutch is a drag and you sigh with frustration when you think about it ask another family member if they would like it. Or sell it at a consignment shop and use the money for a fun experience with your family. Holding on to it because your kids “might” want it one day is just passing the burden along.

While I am thinking of it, let’s talk yearbooks. Don’t hang on to them just because your kids “might” one day want to look at them. If you haven’t cracked it open since the last day of school when Jimmy delightfully inscribed “stay hot” and Brianna wrote “Let’s meet up at the beach”, then let it go. Most likely your old Alma Mater will eventually have digital copies of yearbooks soon enough. I took a few pictures of the pages I had photos on and stored them in dropbox, but I seriously doubt I will even look at those.

In case you are wondering what sentimentals I did hang on to, I would love to share it. See a list and description below. If I had a hard time deciding if I did want to keep something I put it into a box as a trial. If I didn’t think about it for 30 days (90 days, 6 months, a year, you pick your timeline you feel comfortable with) then the box went straight to goodwill. One of the most difficult sentimentals is photos, in fact I devoted an entire article to it, see “Backup Your Photos, You Never Know What Life Will Bring” from last fall. Now, a list of my sentimentals.

High School Diploma

College Diploma

Alpha Phi Omega membership card and certificate of acceptance

Pledge book

High School graduation tassel

College Graduation tassel and fraternity rope

College Graduation portrait (framed with another tassel)

APO glassware flask

Pledge paddle

Postcard collection (ones people have sent me and ones I have acquired and journaled a sentence or two on the back about the event/occasion/trip) High School Band/Colorguard patch

High School culinary arts patch

APO patches (member patch, coat of arms, national convention)

APO 75 years anniversary coin

APO pins (member pin, forget-me-not pin)

Chinese red envelope with gold peach gift (from one of my best friend’s parents when we went to Hong Kong to visit and celebrate her Dad’s 60th birthday)

Ticket stub to Red Sox game from the year after they won the world series in 2004

A small St Thomas novelty license plate with my name (6 inches long)

Small 1 ounce baggie of Red Sox Fenway dirt

6 or 7 Disney Parks ticket stubs

Every running bib I have ever gotten

Run medals (12 I think) also each medal has a pin on it from the race (most were Disney races)

Harry Potter 3d glasses from the Deathly Hallows Part 2

National Park system passport (stamp collection book the size of a passport)

New Hampshire patch

Flattened penny collection (about 50)

1996 Atlanta Olympics collectable coin

2012 Bacchus Mardi Gras collectable coin

New York City sidewalk art of my name from 2003

Wood Camel from Israel

Chopsticks from a friend’s wedding

Spock action figure (6inch)

Luke x-wing fighter action figure (4 inch)

Stormtrooper action figure (4 inch)

Han Solo frozen in carbonite action figure (4 inch)

Han Solo and Chewy A New Hope action figure (4 inch)

Luke and Leia repel over the bridge A New Hope action figure (4 inch)

Leia on Hoth Empire Strikes Back (1980) action figure (4 inch)

Lego mini x-wing fighter

Lego mini Millennium Falcon

Lego mini Tie fighter

Lego mini AT-AT walker

Lego mini cloud city ship

BB8 bobble head

British telephone tin filled with lego star wars figures (maybe 20)

Darth Vader 12 inch technix

Yoda 12 inch lego


    Wow, when I type it all out it sure does look like a large collection. All of it fits into a plastic 15 quart rubbermaid that slides under the bed. I have the action figures and legos out on display in the living room, but they would pack up easily back into the rubbermaid. I made a rule for myself that if the items I treasure so deeply are not out on display then they must not mean that much to me. Therefore over the last 3 years I have weeded the collection down and made sure it is out for enjoyment. As I am writing this I am already realising that this can be pared down further. Always a work in progress!

    As a mental exercise I am asking myself what are the first 5 things I can think of that I can’t live without. Spock, Chinese envelope with gold peach, National Park Passport, APO paddle, run medals. No Star Wars? What a surprise to me! I would have assumed right away that at least one thing would be from my beloved Star Wars haul. Saying run medals is a bit of a cheat since there are so many, for technicality if there could be only one i would say the Castle to Chateau medal. I earned it by running a half marathon at Disney world in Florida and a half marathon at Disneyland Paris in the same calendar year. They were my first and last half marathons I ever ran. I earned that sucker dag nabbit! As a side note, item #6 would have 1980 Hoth Leia.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Life Without a Computer

Life Without a Computer

    I have never been one to spend a lot of time on a computer and up until 2 years ago I did not have internet. I got a smartphone 3 years ago and an Ipad 2 years ago. In a conservative estimate I can say I do 85% of all my computer needs on my smartphone. I do 10% on my ipad and the other 5% on the laptop. That’s it. Only 5%. In fact I use my laptop so infrequently that I have to set an alarm on my phone to remind me once every 30 days to turn the computer on and update it. Between apps and mobile friendly websites, most everything can be done on a portable device. There are exceptions of course and that is why I do still have a laptop. There are just a few things left that either cannot be done on a portable or it is too difficult and not worth the time to try to do so.

Applying for jobs. Most companies take a long time to catch up with the times. While almost all have you apply on-line initially, they still have not embraced any word processing program besides windows office. I have drunk the koolaid and do EVERYTHING in google, including storing my resume on google docs. Try uploading that sucker, I dare ya! Maybe 20% of online applications let you do it.

Sorting through and deleting and uploading photos to the cloud. Yes, if you have a smartphone it is pretty easy to straight upload those into storage. If you have a vast collection of digital photos from 2005-until now, that you need to sort, label, delete and observe the quality of, then a computer is still a must. I had 400 gb of photos. Thats right 400 gb, jeez, what was I doing? I got caught up in the hole “it’s digital, it doesn’t take up much space and I can delete them later” thing, yeah right. Who actually does go back through them again? Especially since they were all taken with a digital camera and not a smartphone. That took fully 6 months to work through. In the end I had 4gb of good photos, just 10 % the original amount. They are safely stored in dropbox. This was a project I had put off for years since I knew it would take a vast amount of patience and time. I also photographed all my film photos and backed them up as well. I have put myself on a photo budget of sorts, I try to keep each trip to 25 photos or less, seems like a high number, but you would be surprised.

Adding and removing music and video to my smartphone. While my ipad has all of its purchases in the cloud and I can download them from wherever my ipad is. My smartphone needs the items off my thumbdrive. Technically I could also put these things on my ipad, but I find I really don’t use my ipad in that way. It is mostly an internet surfing tool, I use youtube, netflix and pandora on it.  Whereas my smartphone is my ereader, mp3 player, gps, video viewer, notebook, camera, video recorder and gaming system. I have a 64gb micro sd card in it, which means I am not switching content too frequently (maybe 5-6 times a year). I do upload my photos onto my computer, delete, edit, sort and then add them to the cloud.

Write my blog. Yes, I have written my blog posts through my phone, but I get them done faster and more frequently through a computer. Mostly they are written on the library computer. Then I email it to my smartphone and upload it from my blog app. Adding pics to a blog post on your phone is nigh impossibly difficult, much easier from a computer. I have a bluetooth keyboard that I use to occasionally write a blog post with onto my ipad, mostly if I am writing at home.

    Can I live life with a computer? Absolutely, especially as I am gainfully employed and have completed my monumental picture project. In theory, I could use any computer to do these few things. I do not have “own” one. I could utilize a work computer or the library one for those few times in between when I need to. I could definitely make do. However, since I am fortunate enough to have a computer why not use it? So I do.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

New Orleans weekend pack list

New Orleans Weekend Pack List

    Hello all, hope you have enjoyed the weekend. I had an extended weekend due to Mardi Gras festivities here in the south.  I spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of the weekend with a friend in New Orleans. Great fun was had and by being a minimalist I naturally did not care about the throws. All that I caught I gave to the two kids and grandmother standing next to me. They kindly gave me stuffed animal for my dog in turn, which he absolutely loved! Here is my pack list for the weekend. To give a frame of reference the temperature varied from low 60s to mid 70s.

   

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

Lewis n’ Clark Medium expandable cube

Mesh Tech pack cube

Sea-to-summit ultra sil backpack

REI evrgrn sleeping bag

Travelon XL camp towel

Spork

Headlamp

Sleep mask

Ear plugs

Bose headphones

Cellphone/charger

Hairbrush

Sarong clip

Pen/notebook

Deoderant

Face moisturizer/sunscreen

Toothbrush/paste

Hairclip

Sanuk rosie shoes

Sketchers athletic shoes (was wearing, not in picture)

Purple tee shirt

Green tech shirt (was wearing, not in picture)

Long sleeve black yoda tech shirt

Gray linen shirt

Blue denim jeggings

Black denim jeggings

Capri yoga pants (was wearing, not in picture)

Gray yoga pants

Scottevest black fleece jacket (was wearing, not in picture)

underthings