Dawn and I went adventuring over the past weekend and ended up at Steigerwald Lake. It was great fun and we saw a lot of birds and crossed paths with a whole slew of nice folks happy to show us newbs the good spots.
Took some time out with some dear friends last August'2011 in north Portland. We had a blast looking at all the booths and watching the glass blowers create their work. These artists are truly fun to watch. And watching the glass evolve into something cool is somewhat magical. Amazing!!
I've been away for a long while. Has it really been almost a whole, entire year?! Life has been keeping me far too busy, but I'm renewing my focus on my blog for the coming year. I realize that I don't need to do much. Keeping in touch is more important than anything else.
And so.... I'd like to jump back in with introductions.
THIS is Miss Piggy!
She's super sweet!
And a real go-getter!
She's not faster than a speeding locomotive. (But she thinks she is.)
She can't leap a tall building in a single bound. (She'll tell you it might take her two.)
Today is the anniversary of my Mickey's departure. I can't believe it's been five years!! Wow! Naturally, I miss her a lot and have been reminiscing about her life. I wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge her passing and how much her life enriched my own. I'm SO thankful we found her at Scamps and that she became a member of my family!
Too say she was one in a million-bazzillion is an understatement. She was the perfect companion. Gentle. Smart. Always aware of and courteous to others, both furry and human. And she was uncannily sensitive to emotion and mood. She was downright wonderful.
Those that say dogs don't have a sense of humor are wrong. Those that say dogs don't remember a lot of things are wrong. Those that say dogs aren't smart are wrong. Mickey was all of these things and so much more.
I count myself truly blessed for having had such a friend. Our time together wasn't as long as I'd hoped, but it was packed with so many great and happy moments that I look back on with joy.
Thank you, Hobie, for being you! I miss you!
Mickey (Hobie-dog) : October 5, 1997 - April 8, 2006
I caught myself today. Caught my mind whirling -- thinking and strategizing about how I'm going to squeeze all the things I "have" to do to achieve my simplification goal (which include decluttering and building a tiny house) into my available time, which is already bulging at the seams with my normal workload and other commitments.
The first thing I noticed was how tired I was feeling. My mind raced and I gulped the air in short gasps. I thought to myself, "Now, just wait a darned moment. Isn't this simplification stuff supposed to be kinda like yoga? Isn't the very act of simplifying supposed to bring instant peace of mind, physical relaxation, and well being?"
I stuck to the yoga theme and continued. "Since its hurting my brain and causing more stress, should I stop stretching for it? But, if I just up and stop moving toward my simplification goal, how can I ever hope to achieve it? How will my life change or evolve for the better? How will anything get done?"
Whoa! Let's just slow down a little bit. Shall we?
I am actually really glad I'm aware enough of myself to recognize when I'm feeling overwhelmed or overloaded. I'm not afraid to stop and take a hard look at myself. I'd like to think that most of us are born with this ability and I'm not quite sure when I stopped listening, but there was a long period during my twenties and early thirties where I charged ahead, like a crazed bull in a funhouse full of mirrors, consciously ignoring how I was feeling. (Thankfully, I managed to re-institute the "mind myself" policy a few years back.)
Anyway... I sat in my truck for a few minutes, breathing deeply and letting my mind relax. This freed up some thinking space and I pondered where I was and why I was feeling overtaxed.
Turns out, I've been piling my new "toward the simpler life" tasks right on top of my existing workload, but I haven't removed anything from the pile that no longer applies. Whhhaaaat?
I know. It doesn't make any sense, does it?
Well, here's the thing... I have a few upcoming commitments that I won't break. Yes. You heard me. I WON'T break (conscious choice). AND, since I'm super jazzed about simplifying, I just jumped right in with both feet.
NEWS FLASH, Kat!! I'm supposed to be "sim-plee-fying," not "com-plee-cating!"
Sigh.... even though I've started down the simplification path, I'm clearly not living it. I've been trying to cram 10 cubic yards of tasks into a 2 cubic yards of time. It's not physically possible.
The lesson I learned here? I've been decluttering my space, but I haven't been decluttering my time. There are only 24 hours in a day. I won't get a magical allocation of an extra 2 to 4 hours just because I've given myself more to do. It doesn't work that way. Within those precious 24 hours, I still have to work, I still have to eat and sleep, I still have to make time for family and friends, and I still have to take care of my furry kids.
So, do I have a point here, or what? (grin) Why yes! Yes, I do.
The point is, I don't have to wait until the finish line to change. I don't have to wait until I've arrived at "the simpler life" to start "simplifying my life." I've already started decluttering my physical space, but I can also work on decluttering my schedule. And if I start right now, it'll be an extra-good primer for me because I'm trying to navigate getting from point A to point B.
I can start by saying "no, thank you" to the asks that just don't match my vision of the life I want to live. I can prioritize and learn to be okay with letting less important things fall off the bottom of the list. I can embrace "good enough." I can postpone or not do a few things so I can sit in silence with a cup of tea or read that fantasy novel I've been wanting (for ages) to read. I can strive to live the life I dream of living right now.
Take away: I am going to pull back and give myself some space to be a human "being" instead of a human "doing" way too much!
Happy Wednesday, everybuggy!!
P.S. I finished the master bathroom. I had three bottles of moutwash, a few bottles of hair conditioner, a couple tubes of toothpaste, etc. This was yet another exercise in simple organization leading to the exposure of a bunch of redundant items. Well... at least I won't have to go to the store for some of these things for a while!! Better yet... at least I have a clear list of what bathroom supplies I have now!!
I'm spending part of my birthday researching tiny house design. I know. I know. I can tell you are all shocked! Stunned! Checking to see if the sky is falling!
I surfed on over to Apartment Therapy (I love this site for the design and DIY ideas!). I came upon the word "upcycler." What a great word! Such a positive spin on recycling!
This "upcycler" find is being used in concert with one of the many great rebuilder stores. As I'm leaning toward a steampunk/victorian design with my tiny house, I plan to visit a couple local rebuilder haunts for architectural pieces. I'm a BIG supporter of NOT reinventing the wheel when there is no need and for "upcycling" existing pieces. (Did you see what I did there? I've already incorporated this wonderful term into my vocab.) What a great way to keep the spirits of the men and women who created these works of art alive! I can't wait to see what I find!
Progress made since the last post:
I did not finish my office, but I did start on my master bathroom. I found a lot of out-of-date prescriptions and vitamins! Nearly all of them, in fact. Sheesh! That's crazy!
(Note to self: don't buy any more vitamins. Stick with Flintstones and veggies.)
Too, I didn't realize how many lipsticks I'd acquired over the years! Wowzers! I don't even wear lipstick, except for VERY special occasions (translation: once every couple'a years)!! Man oh man!!! I can't imagine what it must be like for people who actually do wear makeup on a regular basis!
One thing that made me happy was that I didn't seem to have any problem getting rid of the things I don't use. I had an electric toothbrush and one of those water-pick things. I don't think I ever used the water pick and I maybe used the electric toothbrush for a week before I realized that a simple toothbrush does a much better job for me. (That is not to say electric toothbrushes are worse or better than simple toothbrushes. This is a simple matter of personal preference.) I also had an electric razor that seemed like a good idea when I bought it, but I hardly use it. I actually do like it, but my simple razor does an equally good job without needing a charge, so....
Honestly? I think I'm just a "keep it simple" kind of gal. A simple toothbrush and razor works and they don't take up a ton of room, either. A "win-win" in my book. Heh heh.
Tonight, I hope to finish the bathroom. I have one more drawer, which has a bunch of allergy and flu types of meds (probably also expired) and the space under my sink. I've already completely freed up half of the space in my bathroom! Pretty cool!!
My Toward The Simpler Life quest continues to gain momentum. Having done loads of research on decluttering and simplifying, I've run into the 100 things challenge all over the place. I must say, I like the concept of this challenge a lot. And yet, being realistic and in the interest of being completely transparent about this quest of mine, I know I will never get down to 100 things. I just won't. And you know what? I'm okay with that. This is not what my quest is all about. BUT -- I do want to get my stuff down to a reasonable number and I will strive to achieve what is optimal for me and the life I want to live.
In reading, I found that some people take the 100 things challenge at face value. The danger here is that one might reduce to 100 things just for the sake of the challenge only to crash and burn because of it. IMHO, the beauty of the 100 things challenge is that each person defines what is the "right" amount of things for them. It's perfectly okay if you have 120 things or 150 things, just as it is okay if you have 80 things or 50 things.
The most important thing is to not let your stuff own you. In fact, this is one of the main reasons I started down this path. I feel like I lost control of my stuff. I was (and still am) a slave to my stuff. And my stuff has kept me from moving forward at the speed I want to.
Another important thing is to recognize that we don't need a bunch of stuff to be happy. Quite the opposite. I got into the trap of buying stuff to get that "instant gratification" fix. I'd be happy for a little while, but this would wear off. I'd have a bad day and go shopping or buy something online to cheer myself up. Looking back, I feel a little dumb... okay, I feel A LOT dumb... but I'm doing something positive about it now. I'm taking ownership of my stuff. I will no longer allow my stuff to rule me.
A big thing to bear in mind is that we just don't have enough resources on our planet to sustain our increasing consumption of stuff. Our population is growing and our resources are not being replaced at the same rate as they are being used up. We simply can't sustain this. That said, I've been looking real hard lately at the difference between what I "NEED" vs. what I "WANT." And, you know what I found? Taking care of my "needs" is pretty darn simple and doesn't cost that much. It's my "wants" that have gotten me into trouble. I'd like to explore this further in an upcoming post.
Okay... thus far, progress has been good. I've cleared out two rooms; my office and guest bedroom.
The guest bedroom had become a dumping ground for things "I might use some day." It had a rather large stack of thick foam and leather that I'd stripped out of a damaged couch, an extra mattress, clothes that I'd planned to donate (which I DID donate this morning -- whoot!), and other odds and ends.
The office was a mish-mash of stacks of papers needing filing, old magazines, and my costumes and theatre makeup stuff. The carpet had also been damaged by the cats, so I tore it out. Now, the office has a new wood floor and new trim and paint! I relocated my library to the office (limiting myself to four bookshelves, for now), cleared out the paper mess (although I have more to go through in my craft room -- gulp), organized my desk, and brought back in only the things that match my vision for my office. I'm not quite done with the office, but it's nearly there and I hope to complete it this weekend.
In addition to this, I've started clearing my downstairs den. Located under the stairs and near the garage, it had become another dumping ground for furniture I wanted to protect from the cats, furniture and other stuff I plan to get rid of, and a whole bunch of empty boxes (some quite large) I was keeping "just in case" I move again (I'll say it again -- "whatever"). It also has stuff I just don't really know what to do with. I'm about half way through this room and plan to work hard on it this weekend.
Two areas that are going to be serious challenges (that I'm building up to) are my upstairs craft/sewing room and my garage. These two are going to take the most time, energy, and patience with myself. I'll have to make some hard decisions in these two spaces, but I can already feel a huge, positive difference with the little progress I've made on the first three rooms. I hope this good vibe will bolster and carry me through the tough decisions to come. If not, I'll continue to rely on "Horders" and Peter Walsh to motivate me.
Take aways so far are:
Lack Of Organization - one of the biggest contributors to my own clutter/stuff problem has been a lack of organization. Putting all "like" things together has helped me see where I have redundant items, which makes it easier for me to let go. I mean really... who needs TWO exercise balls? Roller Blades AND Roller Skates? And how many GI Joe dolls and copies of "Funniest Cats" does a girl really need? Simple organization has also helped me locate a couple things I forgot I even had! These things are good candidates for the "out-the-door" pile, since (clearly) I wasn't missing them.
Clear Vision Of The Space - having a clear vision for a space has totally helped me let things go. If an item doesn't fit my vision, then why am I holding on to it with an eagle-talon death grip? Let it go, Kat. Put the "Koosh Ball" book down. You don't even own a Koosh ball.
There are many types of clutter - I am totally amazed by how quickly my "clutter-sight" has developed. I'm seeing through "rose-clutter" glasses, now. Heh heh. I have physical clutter and I have digital clutter. (Did you know about digital clutter? How long has it been since you cleaned up your hard drive? I don't think I ever have. GULP!) I have "I might use it some day" clutter and "its worth a lot of money" clutter. I even have brain-clutter in the form of too many thoughts (we'll tackle this in a later post). TV is chock full of clutter (again, more on this later). The list goes on and on. The good thing? Everywhere I look now, I'm seeing clutter for what it is and instantly thinking up ways to simplify. It feels pretty darn good!
Get it OUT THE DOOR - the instant you have a full box or garbage bag, get it out of the house! I put it in my truck the instant I have it. This keeps me from revisting items and changing my mind. Too, if its in my truck and I don't take it to Good Will immediately, I get annoyed, which motivates me to take it to Good Will.
Are you clearing clutter and/or reducing your "stuff-print"? If so, what are your take aways?
Found this video today via Nicole Faires. It's a great video about finding contentment in doing purposeful work, which is exactly where I'm headin'.
"We're given a script by our culture of how to live and all we gotta do is change the script." -- Dave Ullin - Bainbridge Island Cultural Steward
Liz, Duncan, and I had fun helping paint the new TKD do-jang. We had our last class at the old place, too. It's a little sad to say goodbye to the old space, but the new space is going to be super!! Can't wait!
I've known it for a long time. I have toooooo much stuff! I've gotten to the point where I feel like I'm literally drowning in my stuff.
How did this happen? Well... IMHO there are several reasons.
I excel at procrastination.
I come from a long line of rural mountain folk who were conditioned to save everything in order to survive.
I excel at procrastination.
I have too many hobbies.
I excel at procrastination.
I am too busy to devote time to manage my stuff.
I excel at procrastination.
I can rationalize with the best of 'em.
I excel at procrastination.
I have separation issues
Did I mention that I excel at procrastination? I do. Yup.
I define "stuff" broadly -- it includes everything I own. My house. The stuff in my house. My yard. The stuff in my yard. My truck. And let me just say right here that I AM a platinum-goldcard-carrying member of the "too-much-stuff" club.
It has to stop.
"Why stop?" you ask.
Well, first off, I'm SO not living the life I want to live. I want to be a conscientious steward of the only home we have. You know the one. Third from the Sun. Earth. I certainly never wanted to be responsible the over-sized house I live in pumping an insane amount of greenhouse gases out into our atmosphere. And, I've been an over-achieving contributor to the excessive consumerism that has already pushed our available resources and landfills beyond (in some cases) recovery.
So, how can I change? First up came the realization that there is a problem. That "I" have a problem. Don't get me wrong... the "knowing" has been lingering in the dark shadows at the back of my mind for some time. But it took me watching "The Story Of Stuff" just after it first came out to acknowledge my role in this "thing" that is damaging our world and taking our happiness down with it. (If you have not seen this, go watch it now.)
Too, I've had the sinking suspicion that I'm living in a debtor's prison since just after I bought my house. It just sort-of hit me after the "newness" of finally owning my own home wore off.
But... now, hang on... aren't I living the life I'm supposed to? Isn't this what we are supposed to do?
I'm basically working so I can pay for a place that is too big for me that I can't physically maintain by myself -- erm -- because I work. What is all that about? (Not that I don't like my job. I do.) To say that I've been pulled (much like a cold Stretch Armstrong) between existing authentically and doing what I've convinced myself everyone else expects and/or needs me to do is an understatement.
Sheesh. That needs to stop, too.
So, I decided a while back that I need to simplify and move into a smaller space. I promptly took a "tour of assessment" through my house and... (GULP) ...this is NOT going to be easy. After the "I-am-now-freaking-out-and-second-guessing-myself" tour ended, I decided I needed a goal.
Where am I going to live, once I simplify?
Keeping my "this is the life I want to live" mantra fixed in my mind, I went a-researchin'. I soon found Jay Shafer's Tumbleweed Homes and Kent Griswold's Tiny House Blog and I'm hooked. I plan to build my own tiny house (either a house on a trailer or a bus conversion) with the goal of becoming completely self-sufficient, including incorporating solar and wind power, water catchment, etc.
Okay... (deep breath) I have a goal. I have a house plan all drawn up. Now... how am I going to pare down all my stuff so I can live this authentic life I speak so highly of?
Let's face it. No one person should have as much stuff as I have. As I see it, I have four major areas that will be difficult and painful.
Sports & Camping
Sewing Tools & Supplies
Woodworking Tools & Supplies
Recognizing that I need some serious help and guidance, I went out and got "It's All Too Much" by Peter Walsh (I hear you saying, "but isn't that more consumerism?" Yes. You got me there. But, I plan to pass this jewel of a book on to someone else once I've finished. It'll be my own personal "pay-it-forward" good deed, if you will.). Many of you probably know Peter from the show "Clean Sweep" and his appearances on Oprah (he has a new show on OWN). I've been flip-flopping between doing Peter's recommended "first purge" and reading his book when I need motivation, sometimes in as little as 10 minute increments if I'm feeling overwhelmed, but I'm making headway. I've also been watching "Horders" on TV. That show leaves me terrified and fully motivated to get rid of my unnecessary stuff.
So far, it's slow going, but I'm doing well. I've reminded myself that I didn't acquire all of this stuff in one day and I'm not going to get rid of it in... you guessed it... one day!
With just a couple days into the "first purge," several things have already gone to the dumpster. I recycled a bunch of empty boxes I was keeping "just in case" I decided to move again (rolling eyes -- whatever). I have started taking things to Good Will. And, I have a pile of things I'd like to sell. So far, a few truckloads have gone out the door (with several hundred truckloads to go, I'm sure -- okay... I might be just a bit over dramatic with that last statement).
Moving forward, I'm going to focus on progressing as best I can with the limited time I have available between working and other obligations. My two rules during this are:
Keep moving things out, even if that means I can only manage one T-shirt or book at a time.
Don't allow anything in without taking something of equal size out.
And so, I officially declare the start of a NEW adventure. (booming voice) And I shall call it "Toward The Simpler Life!" Huzzah!!! Wish me luck! And happy simplifying, everybuggy!